Inside Pulse 12

A Thumb To The Eye Number 7

Well, after seven weeks of doing this, I have accumulated a pile of virtual letters. Since it’s only polite, and I’m out of juice this week, I am going to share with you my mailbag. So, grab some orange soda, some dill potato chips, and get comfy, because it’s Mail Bag Time!
A Thumb To The Eye 8.12.03

I may have done columns before this one, but my guide to forgotten games that shouldn’t be forgotten was the first to get any response, and oddly, it wasn’t even a response to a game so much as it’s soundtrack. Here’s my man, Drew:

You know, you can’t just walk past a Daniel Amos reference without not waving.
I have not yet gotten a copy of SkullMonkeys. However, your reminder that
the soundtrack is by The Man is going to send me straight to the second-hand
store to buy a copy.
Do you know about Terry and Mike’s BBQ tour that’s happening right now? They
just came through here in St. Paul and blew doors down.

Regards,
-Drew Johnson

Glad to be so, Chuck. You have a good set of under-appreciated games and
you seem to not be so keen on the column-showcasing-whole-bloody-life
thing that many at the site seem to like. Hooray on both counts.
On the BBQ, check out the schedule at danielamos.com. Mike Roe and Terry
are touring and eating barbecue at small shindigs across the nation.
Basically, each stop has an e-mail address that you should get in touch
with. The show is a two-hour set of Mike and Terry doing Lost Dog schtick
(a two-legged dog, if you catch my drift). Costs about $10, or at least
it did in my area. Your mileage…it may vary.

-Drew

“This time is the last time, but this time is the last time.” (_|_)
-Miranda Stone

In case you missed it, the Terry S. Taylor link is danielamos.com. I must admit, I am a big fan of Mr. Taylor’s output, in spite of my religious leanings, which I will not be exposing you, my reader, to. Unfortunately, the tour is not stopping in my neck of the woods, but if it goes your way, check it out. You cannot go wrong with Terry S. Taylor. So thanks, Drew, for reading. And everyone should own “Imaginarium” by Terry S. Taylor. It is a piece of staggering genius.

Also in response to the 8.12.03 Thumb, here is GiantDevilfish:

I agree. I love those old side-scrolling fighting games. Double Dragon was my favourite. Old school baby!!

Short, concise, and to the point. I love 2- D brawling. I need it. That my generation was all but raised by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and now we are left without brawling goodness is criminal. Hopefully, River City Ransom, Double Dragon, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the Game Boy Advance as well as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and I- Ninja for the consoles should hold you and me over. Man, all this Ninja talk makes me want to flip out and kill someone.

A Thumb To The Eye 8.19.03

Ah, the first of hopefully many columns that made people argue and, more importantly, think. This was my column on the Link Cable and Internet pyramid schemes that the console manufacturers are perpetuating on an unsuspecting gaming public. Well, this column ended up being the subject of a rather lengthy discussion on the Penny- Arcade boards that, unfortunately, degenerated into flaming and name calling. The one person who rose above this, and who started the thread to begin with, is Chris Ingersoll. So, here is the e- mail he sent me…

Hey there. In case you didn’t figure it out from the email address,
I’m the guy who linked your column on the PA G&T forum while I was at
work today. I’ve responded since, in case you haven’t checked. :)
Anyway, I did want to touch on a couple of things regarding GBA/GC
connectivity. Seeing as how we don’t own an Xbox and our PS2 is mostly
for minor things that strike our fancy, I really can’t comment on the
online gaming thing. I own PSO for GameCube (and a broadband
adapter!), but not a Hunting License, since $10/month is a bit much
(and, as you’ve indicated, beyond the price of the game itself). I do
find it odd/amusing that Xbox Live has become so synonymous with the
Xbox itself that just about any multiplayer game for the system that
does NOT feature online play gets a slap in reviews, however.

I do, however, own a GBA (two, actually, if you count my g/f’s), a
GBA-GC link cable (which I bought for Animal Crossing — the only game
I have that needs it at present), and an e-Reader (using a coupon that
came with Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire). I’ve also bought a few Animal
Crossing e-card packs with some spare cash I had, just for fun. Those
purchases were by no means necessary for my enjoyment, but I
voluntarily made them.

As I see it, the difference between Online and Connectivity is that
Nintendo’s GBA-related stuff is useful for other situations. If you
have a GBA (and a $10 GBA-GC cable), then that one-time purchase is
good for most of the connection features AS WELL AS being a kickass
little system in its own right. I may only have one game that uses the
$10 connection cable, but every other one I do buy that uses it (such
as Nintendo Puzzle Collection and/or Pokemon Coliseum) amortizes that
cost; if I have two or three of them, then that cable turns out to
cost less than a meal at McDonald’s. If I want to use a game like
FF:CC, I can either buy more of the inexpensive cables or tell my
GBA-owning friends to bring their own if they want to play.

Whereas just about any online game that wants to charge a monthly fee
can and usually will do so, turning one $50 game into a $100 game
after a few months. Even if you pay for only the service (like with
all XBL titles save PSO, I believe), you still have to repay that cost
every year. That’s not even considering the “companies pulling down
the servers and making the games useless” point you kicked off your
column with.

The main problem for GBA-GC connectivity arises when Nintendo releases
a new system in the near future. The GBA SP was/is compatible with the
connection cable (and is probably better for most games that use it,
frankly), so that half-step in progress didn’t make a big impact. The
next Nintendo handheld system will probably come out before their next
console (anticipating a 2004 release to counter the PSP); as long as
it’s compatible with the same cable (or a similar one for about the
same price) and has the same virtual memory capabilities as the GBA,
then the games are still good on that end.

On the other end, Nintendo has kept the same A/V impute for its last
three consoles (SNES, N64, and GCN all use/d the same basic RCA
cable). If their next console uses the same controller port as the GCN
(much like the PS1/PS2 evolution did), then the connectivity games
will still work. Since Nintendo is pushing this so hard, they’d have
to be even dumber than most people think they are to not support it as
their systems go through their next Evolutions.

So, to answer the two questions you posed at the end of your column:

“What it all comes down to is this: will anyone still play these games
in a dozen years?”

They may or may not actually be playing them, but the *option* seems
like it will still exist. I’ll certainly be playing whatever Nintendo
handheld is out at the time, and will more than likely own the current
Nintendo console as well.

“Will they be playing them next year?”

I’ve only missed two days in Animal Crossing since getting it on
September 17th, and those were both due to having no electricity at
the time. Seeing as how it’s 8/19 right now, that’s less than a month
shy a year. And I’ll continue to play it until AC2 comes out. As I’ve
mentioned, at present, it’s the only game I own that utilizes
connectivity in any significant way (I don’t count Prime, since those
are minor bonuses). How many games have you played for 11 months
straight (even if only for 20-30 minutes at a time, although some days
could span hours), whether they were gimmicky or not?

If the game is fun, it will be played. That’s all there is to it.

I did enjoy the column, even if it seems like I completely disagree
with it. If nothing else, it made me take a look at “the racket” being
thrown at me and evaluate whether or not it was (or will be) worth it.
For me, the answer is yes.

Chris Ingersoll
www.sabbatjustice.net

Well, after much deliberation, I have come to respect, if not agree with, Chris’s viewpoint. I, myself, have seen the very best of Internet gaming, in the Fire Pro Wrestling D community, and the worst, MMORPG’s. I cannot bring myself to be excited about online gaming. A dimbulb yelling obscenities at me while I play a game is not, in fact, fun. What I was really trying to get at, but unfortunately did not say, was that I feel that the proliferation of games that cannot be retrogamed is a travesty. Watching as Dreamcast game after Dreamcast game becomes a coaster, I have to think about all the Phantasy Star Online, Everquest, and SOCOM players pouring their time and energy into a game that will cease to exist some time in the next five years. This may just be my personal preference, but I want to be able to revisit any game that I play. That is why I do not rent or sell. As for the link cable, my mind has changed a little. I can see the strengths of this union. But, just in case, I am sticking a mint on card link cable in my game closet.

A Thumb To The Eye 8.26.03

The games that need to be ported to the Game Boy Advance column. I could, and probably will, do a much longer sequel to this column. I just really love 2-D games. Well, here’s the first response:

Adventure Island sounds a lot like the original Wonderboy game by SEGA… does
this alternate title ring any bells for you?

Andrew ‘Levez’ Dean
Well after a little digging, here’s my response:

Do you mean this Wonderboy?
http://www.vgmuseum.com/images/sms/monsterland.html

Wonderboy, while cool, was a SEGA franchise while Adventure Island and,
eventually, Super Adventure Island have, according to my searches only been
on the NES, SNES, Gameboy, and TG-16. Here’s some screenshots:
screenshot
I am a huge fan of this sort of game, and Adventure Island, like WonderBoy,
is an example of a franchise left behind by technology, unfortunately. Keep
hope alive for a museum or Game Boy Advance release of either of these. I am
deeply interested in the pre- Donkey Kong era Nintendo and pre- Sonic era
SEGA games. I must admit I am woefully uneducated, but I am willing to
learn. Well off I go to find a copy of Wonderboy 3 for Genesis. G’night,
Chuck

Ah, of course. I should have realized that since they were Nintendo games you
were listing that…yeah, right. Gotcha. Sorry – had only just awoken when I
read your column.
The Wonderboy franchise and its abandonment and (arguable) mis-use always
puzzled me. That SEGA would push the Alex Kidd games but forget about Wonderboy
always seemed odd. One of these was popular at home and in arcade, and had a
super-hero like character. The other had a scary alien baby thing with a huge
fist, that offered sub-Mario platforming. Tech

Andrew ‘Levez’ Dean

To be honest, I am still trying to learn about early SEGA. Maybe I can talk Bebito into writing a column on it. Or one of you could hook me up with some info. Also in that episode of A Thumb To The Eye, I mentioned my love of Tecmo Bowl. Here’s Sven’s response:

In regards to your thoughts on Tecmo Bowl, the original would be nice for a port, but it’s not the best in the series. Not by a longshot. That honour belongs to Tecmo Super Bowl III: Final Edition (SNES).I know, I know, you never heard of it. Not many people have, and a lot of people hate it because it added more details to the traditional Tecmo system. For example:

– You could now set your defensive formation, and offenses had *16* plays to choose from. While this wasn’t Madden-level complexity, it was the correct balance. The plays themselves are a lot better if you want to run a west-coast-style offense, with a lot of short out and hooks that weren’t really available in the NES days due to the crudeness of the engine.
– There’s a freaking CAREER MODE. In an SNES game. You can create players and watch them develop. Again, I repeat, in an SNES GAME.
– You can trade players prior to the start of a season.
– The salary cap comes into play, in a REALLY nice touch that I think only one other football game (Troy Aikman’s Football) even bothered to implement.
– LT’s an unlockable hidden character, in a nice nod to the original game. But that only happens when you win three straight Super Bowls.

It’s easily the best of the series and deserves a port. Not as much as BLADES OF STEEL~!, mind you. :)

– Sven Mascarenhas

Blades of Steel. Fuck Tecmo Bowl, I want some Blades of Steel. Thanks for reminding me of the pre- EA Sports hockey goodness. I may have to dig up an NES and play me some sports games.

A Thumb To The Eye 9.2.03

First, let me give you my favorite e- mail in response to the column, so far:

Fantastic. That’s really all that needs to be said.
Matt Hardin
411 Figures

When I wrote this particular column, I was terrified of being hung out to dry. I got this like an hour after the column went up and it made me feel like I was doing the right thing.

Dear Chuck,I have a lot to say in response to your column. First, a minor complaint–you had other columnists from the site throwing their two cents in, but since their was nothing to set them off (no bolds, headers, italics) I had difficulty telling which was your material and which was that of others. If you do a similar column, try to correct this so I can refer to the correct person.

At any rate, I consider myself a gamer. Not casual, not “hardcore” but a gamer. I like to thing a smart gamer. I freely give my opinions and offer advice at game stores when I see it needed. Usually this is only when asked, but when I see a mother about to purchase a horrible licensed game or a buggy mess like Enter the Matrix, I give a polite warning. The kid is usually present and doesn’t heed my warnings, but at least they were informed.

I confess I own a lot of games. Currently I have a SEGA Genesis, SNES, Saturn, Dreamcast, PS2, Gamecube, and I traded in my GBA and am getting an SP. I used to own a SEGA CD and 32X. The SEGA CD I got used for a good price, but the 32X I bought new the release day.

I’ll wait for you to quit laughing….I was young and dumb, okay!?

Back on topic, I don’t think I’ve extreme enough to fit any of the categories you listed, however I have “hoardcore” qualities. I was a bit of a packrat prior to ever getting into gaming, so I think that’s just an aspect of my personality, and likely it is the same case with others.

I mostly buy used games–my people are kinda cheap like the Poles (my brother in law is one–and he fits every stereotype) so the value is great for me. And if I see a rare game, I will buy it. I’ll play the games, and if I enjoy playing it, I usually keep it. If not, I sell it online. Sometimes if I get bored with games I end up selling them, but I don’t think I have more than 2 dozen games for any system. The ones I usually keep are the good ones, though. The following games I have are kinda rare, and I actually PLAY them too. Such as Metal Slug X, Power Stone 2, Guardian Heroes, Vampire Savior, X-Men vs. Street Fighter, Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter, Virtual On: Oratorio Tengram, Bangai-O, Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves.

I own them and play them because they rule, as well as other games. Yet, I don’t play them all that much. There are simply too many good games I own and too many good games coming out to really appreciate them to the fullest. Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker’s bonus disc should have come out far earlier, because I didn’t get too far into OoT before WW came out. I’ve played through both of them, and I’ve beaten OoT on N64, but I’ve yet to finish those Gamecube discs. They might sit on my shelf as I’m engaged in a Metroid title, or playing a GBA Castlevania, or Castlevania IV, or Mark of the Wolves. I don’t know…I seem to enjoy playing the new 3D titles for a while, but I get to a certain point where I have no desire to play further even though reviews are good, I can see the great work that went into creating it, and I actually enjoy them when I play them.

Maybe I’m just not cut out for long, expansive games anymore. I was able to sell the copy of Xenogears I had sitting on the shelf for over a year because I honestly grew to hate the game for many reasons. Turns out I’m not alone and many think that game is horribly overrated–after seeing the press about Xenosaga I hate the Xenosaga series with a passion and vow never to spend a cent towards it. GTA3…bored with it. Sold it after completing about half the missions. FFIX…got bored with it, but I think I hate that game because of PlayOnline. I guess I “outgrew” RPGs. I’d rather get together with a friend for No Mercy, Smackdown, or team up to blow the shit out of things in Metal Slug. Changing game tastes–there’s an article idea. Oddly, I played and loved Lunar on PS and beat it. I almost did the same for Eternal Blue on PS, but the final boss is too tough to beat and I don’t have the resources to level up. I’m too low on supplies to level up and heal and I don’t even remember if I could actually get any new supplies if I actually were able to leave the final dungeon.

In short, I have far too many games than I can really devote the time to enjoy. I know it, though. I try to sell off the ones I won’t be playing. However, good games keep being released and it compounds the problem.

Thank goodness for companies like Acclaim, releasing total shit that I know I won’t have to waste a second of my life playing, rather than spending money on it, playing it a few days, then never getting to enjoy it to the fullest.

I think the only way you could really truly savor each game is to have only a system or two, and a small library of games. If I quit college I think I would be able to devote more time to gaming, but damnit, can’t do that, can we? I propose longer days!!

— Andrew

PS I’m a semi-hardcore gamer I suppose, but the first game I ever owned was Jurassic Park for Genesis, and my favorite arcade game is Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game (no, Acclaim, your name is just on the box–In Your House was your baby though and was up to your usual non-existent standard)–but might have been Wrestlefest if I’d ever played it.

Okay thanks, feel free to fix any typos and just use certain parts of the letter. I may have left out a few things I wanted to say since I was in a hurry. Like I forgot to mention how I lucked out on Ebay and got Gunstar Heroes for a mere 10 bucks total after shipping. And I also play that quite a bit. Great game, crappy ending (unless the harder difficulties give better endings). The gist of it’s there. :P
Andrew Skocik

Ummm yeah, the italics thing. Well, hopefully, this one is in full italics. That was my sixth column and I am, hopefully, getting better every week. This column is important to me, and doing it well is even more important. Funny, what you said about RPG’s came out of my mouth more than once. I get burned out and just NEED some fighting or shooting. One point I didn’t make in the column, and meant to, was that no one is completely innocent of doing some combination of those things. I do them, I know I do. My point was that keeping the love alive is more important than being a forum know it all or owning Radiant Silvergun. Hell, Alex and I will never agree on importing (I import with no Japanese skill but Alex thinks you should know the language if you import. That’s a fight for another day and another column).

While I’m admitting I am wrong on occasion, let me say this, Jeff Watson’s column was a vast improvement over the usual, this week. Seriously. I hate to call someone else out or be mean, but you needed to change something and I’m glad you did. Also, Jeff, do not read the rest of this. Trust me on this one.

The Now Infamous Skull Fuck Story
I was hung over. I was AIMing Alex Lucard. We were in good moods, for once. Something horrible was bound to happen. And it did. While talking about fanfiction and other stupid things, I made a joke about Jeff Watson skull fucking Skeletor. Little did I know that it would become a running joke and even get quoted in Lee’s column. Needless to say, if I am going to bury the hatchet with Jeff, I had better get this out of the way. If you are Jeff Watson, a lady, or sensitive, do not read this. It will scar your brain. And I was really hung over at the time.

So, one day in the kingdom of Eternia, a pleasant Fascist nation filled with odd creatures and only three viable females, Jeff Watson popped in to pay a visit to his good buddy and weight lifting partner, He-Man. As he rounded the corner however, Jeff heard an unusual sound. The squealing and scraping alternated for about a minute before Watson dropped his pen.
“Who the hell is there?” a nasal voice let out.
“No one…” Jeff said in a mock Cuban accent.
“Then who answered?” the nasal voice retorted.
“Just He-Man, that’s who. Now let that innocent go, you rogue!” Jeff said in a mock heroic tone.
“I can fight my own battles, bitch!” a familiar voice from Watson’ childhood called out.
“Cube?” Is that you Cube?” Watson said in his normal voice.
“Yes it’s me, bitch, and I can’t finish this trick so I’m out $50 you fuck. Who’s going to feed my children if I can’t turn a trick in a men’s locker room? Who?” the faddish toy yelled.
“He’s got a point. And who’s going to finish me off?” the dejected Skeletor said.
“Well, I haven’t done me good deed for the day, yet. What do you need me to do. Mr. Skullhead?”
“You just need to satisfy my manly urges the way Stinkor and Evil Lynn can’t…”
“Well, I do know ONE thing we can do… But I don’t think you can handle it…”
“OF COURSE I CAN HANDLE IT! I’M MOTHERFUCKING SKELETOR!”
“Well we could… no I don’t think you are ready…”
“Of course I’m ready. Do it Watson or I give Beast Man a Rubik’s Cube enema.”
With that, Watson killed the lights and proceeded to skull fuck the living shit out of Skeletor. This went on for a good eight hours. And then there was an opening of a door….
“HELP ME HE-MAN. Help me….” Skeletor cried.
“What’s going on here?” He-Man said.
“This Watson stuck his pee pee in my eye socket!!!”
“You WHAT? You didn’t do that did you, Jeff?”
With a guilty look on his face, Jeff nodded.
“You know, Watson, the secret to a good skull fuck is pulling off the jaw bone. Here, I’ll show you.”
And with that, the lights went out and all four of them lived happily ever after.

Except Skeletor, obviously.

And on that note, I’m out of here. Next week, I”Ëœll be back with some wrestling game hijincks and 14 year old girls. Have fun.