Monthly Archives: November 2013

Mario Vs. Sonic from a Retro Gamer Point of View

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Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. This is me Andrew Hatcher, the Retro Reviewer. I’ve decided to put my two cents on a topic that has been debated on since 1991. Who is truly better? Mario or Sonic? I have been a fan of both of these characters for as long as I can remember so I will do my best to keep any biases out of this topic. Let’s get started.

Backgrounds

Mario:

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Mario. The plumber we all know and love got his start after starring in the classic Donkey Kong Arcade and then in the game Mario Bros. Nintendo decided that they wanted to further explore the possibilities with their new character by releasing Super Mario Bros, a launch title that came with the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1985 also with Duck Hunt. By the time the Super Nintendo had come out, Mario was well established as a strong character in the new industry of videogaming. With 3 other platforming titles, things looked up for the plumber on the release of Super Mario World and the many other Super Mario related games that would follow all the way until today.  Since 1985, Mario has been in more videogames as the main character, a side character, and numerous cameo appearances. His fame is unmatched by few. Mario recently celebrated 25 years of glory. At the rate he is going, the old plumber will soon celebrate 30 years.  This is an accomplishment almost no other character can match.

Sonic:

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Sonic. The speed defying hedgehog got his start after the company Sega decided they needed a mascot that could match Mario’s fame and success. With their last character, Alex the Kidd not cutting it, Sega threw around ideas for what would become Sonic. Once his first game debuted, it became a hit and the Sega Genesis (Mega Drive) soon gained much popularity and the 16 bit wars were on. Over the whole decade of the 90’s Sonic would dominate on the Genesis and Game Gear with his platformers that focused on speed and a lot of it. This wouldn’t go without a few hiccups in between. Before the new millennium, Sonic seemed to be hit or miss with questionable titles. But once 2000 came and went, he bounced back with a vengeance and regained so much popularity that a subsidiary of Sega was named for him, Sonic Team. Sonic has had a roller coaster history but he continues to be a major player in the videogame industry. He shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Who had the better jump to 3D?

Mario:

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Mario saw his jump into the 3D world in 1996 with the release of Super Mario 64, a launch title for Nintendo’s new hardware. Everything from his previous adventures was brought over into a massive game where you had to collect 120 stars to rescue Peach from Bowser. These stars were scattered in over 18 different massive levels. The stars did not require you to collect them in any specific order so the game had many different routes the player could take through the game.  The game was a massive success with it’s free roaming camera and accurate controls for the day. This game stood as the formula for 3D games even to this day. With a DS remake and releases onto Wii’s Virtual Console, this game’s popularity still stands and the game has aged well.

Sonic:

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Sonic fared differently in his jump to 3D. While Sonic 3D blast was a 3D game, it wasn’t true 3D roaming and the game wasn’t very good to begin with. Sonic wouldn’t get his first true 3D game until 1998, 2 years after Mario got his jump. Sonic Adventure was released on Sega’s Dreamcast as a launch title.  As with Mario, all of Sonic’s gameplay was brought into the 3rd dimension pretty well. Sonic Adventure follows 6 characters and the story told from their point of views: Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy, Big, and Gamma. So you could say that this game has only about 1/5th of it focused on Sonic unlike Super Mario 64 with all the focus on Mario. However, this does not mean Sonic Adventure is bad. Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles control the best like they did in their 2D games.  The stages in this game are less than Mario 64 but I think it works better because the levels are much more detailed and Sonic controls beautifully in this game. While Big the Cat is not welcomed, the rest of the game stands on it’s on with no problems. Sonic Adventure saw 2 re-releases, one on Gamecube and then that port was brought to Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation network. The Dreamcast version hasn’t aged too well with it’s voice acting. The Gamecube port has aged better though.

Overall: Mario got the better 3D game. While Sonic Adventure had it’s rocking soundtrack and 6 different characters and the Chao gardens, Super Mario 64 did more and the Nintendo 64 lasted while the Dreamcast failed, not cause of Sonic though. Super Mario 64 may have lacked in graphics but graphics does not define a game and between the two games, Mario wins this round, but not by much.

Who has better abilities/powerups?

Mario:

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Mario has had a lot of powerups over his adventures.  From the beginning he had the Mushroom which allowed him to take more damage and more recently, the mushrooms have expanded to allow him to turn into a Bee, a Boo, a Spring just to name a few. He also had a Fire Flower that would allow him to take more damage than just the Mushroom (Super Mario Bros 3 and onwards) that would screennuke most minor enemies and make bosses complete wusses. In the more recent games, the Ice flower has also been brought on. This flower allows Mario to throw Ice balls and skate along water. The Starman allowed for invincibility. Since then he has added many more powerups to his arsenal that you would think he would unstoppable. There are some even I don’t even know what they are for. In terms of abilities, Mario is no average plumber. He is a Star Child, he has a ton of strength, endurance. He breaks bricks with his bare hands and just moves on, no pain. He is strong enough to swing Bowser around without a sweat.  His fighting skills are pretty impressive as well. He’s gone toe to toe with Bowser multiple times and always comes out on top. He can hold his own against other Nintendo powerhouses as seen in the Super Smash Bros games.  He has been burned multiple times, trapped in paintings, swallowed multiple times but always comes out on top ready to kick major ass.

Sonic:

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Sonic has fared less favorable in terms of powerups. During his 2D years, he had shields. The fire shield would protect him from fire projectiles and gave him a double jump. The bubble shield would give him a bouncy kind of jump and provided some extra protection. The electric shield would protect him from electrical hazards. In his more recent years, he has a normal shield and a reformed electric shield that would draw rings towards him. Rings are what mushrooms are to Mario. As long as Sonic has one ring, he won’t die. His speed is his greatest ability. He can hit speed boosts and reach speeds that Mario can not obtain although this wasn’t really noticeable on he jumped to 3D.  In his more recent adventure, Sonic Colors, Sonic has added little alien guys known as Wisps. Each one giving him different abilities. The Cyan one would allow him to move like a laser, Orange would propel him high into the sky, Yellow acted as a Drill, Frenzy would allow him to eat anything in sight, and so on. His greatest powerup are the Chaos Emeralds. With one he has learned Chaos Control in his recent games from his rival Shadow, allowing him to slow down time temporarily but he doesn’t use it much in his travelling. When he has all 7 together, he goes Super Sonic, ripped from Dragonball, and he is a force not to mess with, unless he runs out of rings then becomes his normal self again but in top physical condition almost healing all his injuries if he had any before transforming. In terms of fighting ability, Sonic has learned hand to hand combat and developed his own style using his speed. In his game Sonic the Fighters, he goes against every character that was in his series so far up to that point and comes out on top to stop Eggman.  He would once again go back into a fighting game in 2006 with Sonic Battle. Then he would finally go against Mario for real in Super Smash Bros Brawl. And next year, he returns for the next Smash Bros game for Wii U and 3DS.  Sonic has a high endurance, able to run for long periods of time. He has been crushed and burned as much as Mario, but he comes out on top every time.

Overall: Both Mario and Sonic are near equal in terms of fighting ability and main powerups. The fan show Death Battle from Screwattack took a look into this topic as well to determine who would win in a true fight to the death. They concluded that both are near dead equal in terms of powerups. Mario’s Metal Cap can deflect Super Sonic. Sonic’s speed can outmatch Mario. In terms of this in my point of view….I think Sonic takes it by just a hair. Mario has nothing like the Chaos Emeralds in his arsenal.

Who has fared better in recent years?

Mario:

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In recent years, Mario’s appearances in games has near doubled. Every year at least 2 new Mario related titles come out, racing, tennis, Olympic games, baseball, soccer. Mario has been in recent critical hit games such as his Galaxy games. But his New Super Mario Bros games have overstayed their welcome as a lot of gamers will agree. (No offense to those who really like them!).  A lot of people argue that he is being treated similar to the Call of Duty games, the same thing every year without much changes. For years this did not apply to the plumber…but now it seems more likely. Mario has almost taken over in terms of first party Nintendo characters besides Link and Pokémon.  Nintendo loves their plumber but maybe they’re using him too much…..I don’t remember ever being a year without a Mario game somewhere……

Sonic:

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Unlike Mario, Sonic has not appeared in as many games as he used to. Back in his earlier years, a lot of games with him in it existed. Over the years, the amount of Sonic games per year dropped to about 1 or 2 or none.  Since the fall of Sega’s console dreams, Sonic Team has played it a little more safe with the blue hedgehog. With games to keep games busy like Sonic Adventure 2, Heroes, Colors, and Generations, gamers did not need a new Sonic game all the time to keep their interests. 2006 was almost the end for Sonic as his famous game that year nearly ended the series. While his future looked unsure, he bounced back strong and has rebuilt his image 75 percent. Sometimes you need to hit rock bottom before you can change for the better, something Mario has yet to experience. Also, Sonic’s voicing has changed a lot. Mario has kept the same voice actor for years. Sonic’s changes about every 5 years.

Overall: Sonic has fared better these past 4 years. Mario is suffering from game overload and his fans are starting to notice it.  I haven’t bought any new Mario games myself cause the last one, Super Mario 3D Land wasn’t very enjoyable. Sonic Team’s decision to keep Sonic out of the spotlight has led him to have more of a chance to be successful. He also had a better anniversary game. While Mario had a Super Mario All Stars re-release. Sonic had a whole new game designed for his 20th Anniversary.

Which character has had better attention outside of videogames?:

Both characters have had so much merchandise based off them from toys, board games, plush dolls. The one aspect I’m talking about is media attention. Both Mario and Sonic have had their share of tv shows. Sonic has had 4, Mario 3. Mario’s tv shows became subject to the Youtube Poop fad as well as content from his subpar game Hotel Mario. Sonic’s tv shows have fared slightly better but have been tainted by r34 artists all over the internet. Because both of them have had similar media appearances, I will say Sonic has done better cause his tv shows were much more memorable and some of them had pretty decent storylines. News is he is also getting a new tv show next year. Can’t wait for that.

My overall opinion:

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I could spend hours talking about each character and compare them on plenty of other different topics such as accomplishments but at the end of the day, these two characters are so similar that it would be hard to keep going from here. I’ve discussed the main topics used in arguments to determine who really is better. Both of them are videogame giants of their own companies. Without these two characters, videogames were not able to move forward. Mario and Sonic allowed competition, Sega and Nintendo got their names engraved in videogaming for these two characters alone. While I love them to death, I have to come up with my final opinion on who truly is better overall, Mario or Sonic.

My answer: 

sonic_the_hedgehog_snowboarding_wallpaper_by_sonicthehedgehogbg-d5yhklc

(credit goes to SonicTheHedgehgogBG)

Sonic the Hedgehog. Yes, I believe Sonic the Hedgehog is the better character. While I grew up on Mario first and never played Sonic games until 2004, I feel Sonic is a more relatable character to his fans and we can all agree we all have acted like Sonic at one time or another.  I also feel that sometimes his games are more fun and I have more memories with Sonic games a little more than Mario games.  Sonic Adventure is one of my favorite games of all time, so is Super Mario World. I also love the Chaos Emeralds and how they affect the plots of his games more than Mario. I can’t say I love Sonic a hundred times more than Mario because that is not right at all. The two characters for me are so close that even saying this feels like a disservice to the other.  Oh and please make Sonic easier to use on the next Smash Bros.

Alright guys, I gave my best opinions and none of my biases were brought into this. Hope you all enjoy my next Retro Review this weekend and once again, have a Happy Thanksgiving. To those going Black Friday shopping, good luck and not get killed.  Oh and I hope in the future, we get a real crossover between these two legendary characters in the future.

 

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Noir November: The Maltese Falcon

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PosterThe Maltese Falcon is one of those films. One of those really classic films everyone knows about and knows are great. You’re almost scared to watch it. When you finally do you pray that it is as good as it’s reputation, lest you have to prove in your review that you are somehow smarter and more in tune than half a century of critical acclaim. Otherwise, you start to wonder if you don’t like it just because you don’t get it.  You worry you somehow lack a certain something that lets everyone else in on the genius of the film. Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about any of that with this film because it’s a knock out.

The third adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s hard-boiled detective novel is widely considered the best and an instant classic of both film noir and Golden Age Hollywood. It’s also the directorial debut of…

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Noir November: Chinatown

Champagne Disco

chinatown poster“Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown.” Those words and the fact it had a hard hitting ending was about all I knew about this film coming in. I’ve wanted to see it for a good while now and it certainly lives up to it’s reputation as a classic of 70’s neo-noir and one of Roman Polanski’s best films.

The film is really great from a cinematography stand point. John A. Alonzo perfectly captures of look and feel of the black and white classic noir in color. Coupled with the excellent set design of Richard Sylbert and the near prefect period costumes of Anthea Sylbert the film really comes together with an overall visual presentation that makes the audience believe that this film could have been shot in the 40’s or 50’s during the era of classic noir.

The screen play by Robert Towne was phenomenal and does a great job capturing…

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Retro Review: Super Mario All Stars

4 Mario games in one?! It was a kid’s dream!!
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Change of plans here. This week’s review was going to be Starfox 64 but I’ve decided to hold back on it in favor of something different. Oddly enough today I completed Super Mario Bros today for the first time but instead of reviewing that game, I’m going with Super Mario All Stars, the compilation in which I played Super Mario Bros. For this review I will give each game a mini review and an overview of the whole game itself.

Backstory
Released in 1993, Super Mario All Stars was released on the Super Nintendo. This game contained 4 games on it, not something common during that time. The games included the first 3 Mario titles we all knew and loved. The fourth game was a mystery to people at the time: Super Mario The Lost Levels? Gamers were eager to check it out. The game took all the previous Mario games and gave them a complete 16 bit graphics update and fixed some minor problems. Also new is savestates, all the games give you the option to save your game and come back to it, welcoming newer players to the series by giving them some insurance.
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The game selection screen from the North America and European version

1st: Super Mario Bros
The game I beat today is the first one I will be talking about.
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The title screen has a new look to it. See the colorful background?

Gameplay:
Super Mario Bros as most any gamer should know brought the formula of platforming games and has influenced hundreds of later games even to this very day. The gameplay is very simple and since being re released on All Stars, the gameplay formula has not been tampered with. Mario controls pretty much the same but the animations on his running and jumping have been improved. The goal of the game is simple. You complete the stage by sliding down a flag pole at the end of the stage. Enemies are all around you wanting you dead.
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World 1-1. Left is original 8 bit. Right is Super Mario All Stars version of World 1-1.

You can use powerups that every Mario fan knows now. The Mushroom, Fire Flower, and the Starman are your life insurance. Pick them up and if you complete a stage with a Mushroom and a Fireflower, you keep them with you in the next stage until you get hit. A simple formula but it has worked so well.

Difficulty:
To put it lightly, for being the first Mario platformer, this game is not a cakewalk. We’re not talking Castlevania hard but this game will require you to have a good sense of the controls and know how to avoid enemies and get through some of the obstacles. Once you hit World 4, things get dicey real quick. From castles that require you to go through it certain ways, to Hammer Bros and the tricky jumps required to conquer World 8. I would say a lot of the famous difficult NES games took notes from this game. In terms of All Stars, the game is not any easier. It took me all these years to finish it, so that says something.

Soundtrack
One word: Overworld theme.

2nd: Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels
The mystery game in the bunch. It’s no longer a secret though
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Gameplay:
I’m sure everyone and their grandma has heard the story that this game is the true sequel to the original so I won’t bore you with that story. The Lost Levels took everything from the original and added a huge difficulty spike. This game is hard as crap, it takes no prisoner. When making Lost Levels for All Stars, the developers knew how hard the game is so when you use a continue, you restart at the level you died at instead of the beginning of the world from the previous game.
In terms of gameplay, the game plays exactly like the first game. The only new addition are Poison Mushrooms. Thanks to the graphical update, these mushrooms are much easier to distinguish. You can also play as Luigi in a single player game now, because this game lacks a multiplayer mode. Luigi can jump higher but his traction is not as good. He is considered the hard mode.
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The poison mushroom is now much easier to see. But that doesn’t mean it’s any safer!

Difficulty:
What can I say, this game is harder than the first by miles. You know the castles from the first game that have the repeating hallways unless you go through them a certain way? This game has more of them beginning in World 2. The difficulty comes from the level design and enemy placement. A lot of people call this game one of those infamous hacks where it seems the people who develop them are gods at Mario games. This is a lot like that. The farthest I got is World 6. That was after using 80 plus lives and continues. All Stars does not make this game anymore bearable.

Soundtrack:
All the tracks I know of are all ripped from the first game. So nothing to say here. Sorry.

3rd: Super Mario Bros 2 (Doki Doki Panic)
The game that fooled us all until we all found out about it.
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Gameplay:
The gameplay here was really different from the previous games as it was a completely different game to begin with. However, the game did give us many of the enemies we see now in the series so I guess it isn’t all that bad. Instead of jumping on enemies to defeat them, you can now pick them up and toss them to defeat other enemies. This also applies to items as well. The health system is totally different as well. 3 hits now and you’re dead but you can increase it by using these potions you find to open doors to an alternate dimension where you find mushrooms.
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Notice Mario picking up the item. This is how you defeat enemies.

Powerups are scarce and hard to come by. To get a starman you have to collect 5 cherries scattered throughout the stages and then wait on the dang thing to show up. All Stars has not changed the gameplay very much and kept it the same.

Characters:
Super Mario Bros 2 offers 4 different players for you to choose from:
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Mario: The balanced character. He has good speed, jumping, and can pick up things fairly quickly.
Luigi: The jumpy character. His speed suffers but his jumping is insane. He can jump much higher than Mario but is a little slippery in his traction.
Toad: The speed character. He can move fast as heck and can pick up items very quickly. Use him in the desert stages
Peach: Making her first playable debut. She is the broken character, sorta. She can float for a short time, making bottomless pits a breeze as she can go over them. If you’re a new player, probably pick her.

Difficulty:
Because Nintendo of America did not want the Lost Levels, they toned the difficulty down for this game. It is not easy but I find it easier than the first Super Mario Bros. If I’m playing as Mario or Toad, I can beat the game fairly easily without too much hassle. If you’re new to All Stars, try beating this game first.

Soundtrack:
This soundtrack is not one of my personal favorites. Some of the music got into Super Smash Bros Melee though.

Final game: Super Mario Bros 3
The grand daddy of the bunch.
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Gameplay:
What can I say about Mario 3 that hasn’t been said to death all ready. The gameplay has been massively expanded upon from the previous games. New powerups, a map system, more levels, bigger levels, some of the best level designs in the Mario series even to this day, anything I say is nothing new but I will give it my best shot.
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I think Mario 3 got the best graphic improvement

Mario 3 brings a new element that has now become standard in recent 2D Mario games, maps. Mario 3 has a map that you move along as you progress through each stage. These maps offer hidden secrets and in some cases, warp zones. You can skip certain levels on the maps by breaking rocks on the map or by beating certain levels out of order. As you move through all the worlds, these maps become very complex.
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World 1 map. Notice the way it is laid out.

Mario 3 has expanded on the powerups. Besides your mushroom and fireflower, you get the Raccoon suit. It allows you to fly for short periods of time. A P feather allows for infinite flight. The infamous Tanooki Suit in which PETA bitched about allows all the benefits of the P feather and Raccoon suit but allows you to turn into a statue for a short period. The Hammer Bros suit is rare but it is the powerhouse. You can throw hammers and dodge projectiles. It can instakill most ground enemies in one hit. There’s also a Frog Suit that allows you to swim faster and jump much higher on land.
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Mario rocking the Raccoon suit

You also have an inventory to hold items for you in between levels. By visiting Toad Houses, you can receive powerups that you can keep in the inventory.

Difficulty:
Super Mario Bros 3 is a step up from the USA Super Mario Bros 2. With the added levels, the developers made the game a little more challenging but not to the point of being downright cheap. I have not completed the game entirely because I have been busy working on other games on a list that i keep. Im at World 8 if any of you are curious. I’d say if you want a challenging Mario game, try Mario 3. You won’t be disappointed.

Soundtrack:
This game’s soundtrack is considered by many to be one of the best soundtracks of any Mario game. Many of the tracks here have made their way into so many more recent Mario games. The Galaxy games, Super Mario 3D Land, just to name a few. I think it’s pretty nice but my favorite soundtrack is in another game.

Is this my favorite Mario game? Do I consider it one of the best games in the series? Is it the best game ever made?
1. Nope! Sorry everyone, Mario 3 is like my 6th or 7th favorite Mario game.

2. While I see the glory of it, I think one or two other games deserve that particular title

3. It is definitely in the running but to really answer that question……I don’t think that answer will ever be found to be honest.

Overall:
All 4 games stand on their own as good games in their own right. Super Mario All Stars as a whole is a wonderful collection. While today collections like this are nothing new, back then in 1993, it was kind of a new thing. The game sold very well and people loved it for all the graphical enhancements. The SNES really added a new atmosphere that the NES just could not produce. I prefer playing all the classic Mario titles on Super Mario All Stars. The added enhancements, the save state function and continues in my opinion make for a much more interesting experience but i can always get them on Virtual Console if i want a little extra difficulty without the save states.
There was another release containing Super Mario World a year later as Super Mario World came out as a launch title. I do not own that cartridge and Super Mario World deserves it own review anyway. That’s for another day. The Wii also saw a release of All Stars to celebrate Mario’s 25th anniversary but it was literally carbon copied. If you own a SNES, get this collection. It’s easy to find. If you do not, get the Wii version.
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The title screen for Super Mario All Stars plus Super Mario World. It is not that easy to find and I do not have it.

 

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The re-release of Super Mario All Stars on Wii.

Final Scores:
Super Mario Bros: 7.9/10

Super Mario Bros: Lost Levels 5/10

Super Mario Bros 2 7/10

Super Mario Bros 3 8.2/10

Next Week:
Killer Instinct (SNES) or Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Busts Loose. Vote for which one you want me to do via here or Facebook. (This is something new I want to try)

 

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Random Nintendo rambling because I didn’t want to post it directly to Facebook.

Random Nintendo rambling because I didn’t want to post it directly to Facebook..

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FLG Podcast 11-15-13 Featuring Dookieshed!

Check our the third episode of our podcast!

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by | November 20, 2013 · 6:46 pm

Oculus Rift – The true next generation of Gaming.

Virtual reality is always depicted as some crazy futuristic shit, and Virtual reality has been tried here and there, the results tending to be permeated with failure, an amalgam of both hopes and then, inevitably, sorrow. Perhaps we simply lacked the technology to  truly  pull off Virtual Reality, and for the most part, we probably do still lack the technology to really thrust a player into a wholly organic virtual world of sights, smells and feeling. But, we can still get pretty damn close, at least on a visual aspect of the puzzle.

The earliest form of Virtual Reality was called an ‘Sensorama’, way back when in the 1950’s and finally built in 1962. This theater could replicate smells and touch, and of course sights and sounds. It was a ridiculously clunky piece of machinery, but relatively cheap at the time, rolling in at just over $1,000,000. Supposedly, the outlandish device actually worked. But the creator lacked the funds to really market it to a wider crowd, thus it remained a prototype, and Virtual Reality was once again left to pick up the pieces and start again.sensorama_11

Though, the Sensorama was primarily a movie-based medium, probably wouldn’t have been too hard to grab a controller while hooked up to the monster. But the past, is well, passed. The Military seemed to fancy VR technology, though, and even as far back as the Sensorama, and today, they still heavily utilize Virtual Reality simulations in order to more properly train troops and specialists for their duties.

Notably, just because of how spooky it looks, in 1968, one of the first Virtual Reality ‘Goggles’ were brought into existence, but it’s obvious that they’ve since faded into obscurity. Dubbed the ‘Sword of Damocles’, it was very primitive, and really wasn’t able do much. You could see wire-framed rooms, perhaps simple shapes, and all you could do to interact was look around, it featured head tracking, but the thing was so clunky it really seemed to be an antithesis of VR ‘Goggles’. It was never sold, or marketed. Perhaps it merely existed to test the limits of what man could pull into a VR world at the time.

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Honestly, it seemed like we on a good path back in the 60’s when it came to Virtual reality, but interest certainly wavered over the following decades. Said interest would slowly pop up in a small manner when gaming started to get its footing in our world.

The Stuntmaster, iGlasses, and of course, the notorious Virtual Boy were some notable outings in the long awaited journey to accomplish a true VR system of gaming, they all fell short for one reason or another, a primary reason being that they were just essentially screens hooked up to your face, with no real depth of field to trick you into thinking you’re in another world. Oh, and no, iGlasses are not made by Apple, at least they were not back in the 90’s.

SONY DSCWell, obviously this is a Stuntmaster. From its name alone I am to surmise it is a Master of Stunts.

iglassesSVGAPro…And these of course, are the iGlasses, notice a lack of half-eaten apples, as well a lack of the color white.
largeScrew you virtual boy, nobody likes you. Oh by the way, that’s the virtual boy. But I didn’t need to tell you that.

But, we’re to be talking about the Oculus Rift, and why I certainly have high hopes for this device. Despite a rather unfortunate track record, I really do feel like the Oculus Rift is going to be the first successful venture into Virtual Reality, both financially and functionally. Why? Well the short answer is because it’s completely bad ass currently, and is only set to improve upon its full release.

In the short time I did get to use one, I found myself quickly immersed into it, despite the games available being rather sub-par, I did essentially test out those available exclusively to the system, games made to utilize the strengths of the head-tracking. Primarily I test out horror games, and these horror games were pretty unfortunate, if not for the oculus rift they wouldn’t have been rather scary — That’s a compliment by the way, towards the Rift.

Games these days, when it comes to horror have to rely on pop-up scares, and it’s not that they HAVE to rely on them, it’s just atmosphere and capable sound design are far harder to pull off than having some monster jump up out and closet. Being an avid horror game fan, I personally have found myself wholly disappointed as of late with ‘Horror’, maybe that’s because the survival aspect of horror has changed roles to action. Survival and item management bring tension, and actually make the foes terrifying to encounter, even if these foes are standing in plain sight, and don’t feel the need to sit behind a corner while giggling.

Oculus rift brings heavy hope to me that I’ll actually find copious enjoyment in horror games, and that’s really enough for me to merit a purchase. Sure, consoles are all banking on pushing out graphical capabilities and truckloads of non-gaming features to the fray, but adding the ability to watch TV, or check out the latest advertisements does nothing for gameplay, it doesn’t advance gameplay, it doesn’t change the way you play, in fact it actually detracts from the gameplay experience in some ways.

Since Oculus Rift is a PC-based device graphics won’t be an issue since PC games already sport above-average graphics compared to their console brethren. But graphics aren’t everything when it comes to gaming, that used to be the truth, but these days many claim ‘graphics don’t make a game better’, then turn around and complain about 720 resolution or shoddy shadows and other nonsense that does not detract from a game’s experience. The notion that graphics don’t matter is a  contractive  point many gamers bring up, even though they seem not to believe it.

Oculus Rift is actually a tangible step forward in gaming. The Xbox 360 and PS3 were also tangible steps forward in gaming, as they were the first High Definition consoles, and no, PC is not a console. The Xbox One and PS4 do not bring anything new to the table aside from more motion controls, which is by now a dead horse, as well more graphical power, graphics, graphics, graphics. Oculus Rift however is the next step in gaming, and it’s actually a rather simple idea, motion tracking.  Remember that immersion was, at one point a huge deal when it came to gaming, and immersion has slowly detracted over time, with some exceptions. Though Immersion was the result of hardware that had no choice but to bank on such things, so now that you can throw explosions and backflips left and right, who needs immersion?

Head Tracking may seem like a simple thing, mundane even. But you’re wearing goggles here, they obscure your vision, you can’t look off to your side and see your cat looking up at you with a bewildered expression.  No, you’ll look off to your side and see whatever the hell’s in the game. It’s an experience one can’t quite understand until they try it first-hand.

Initially, one expects there to be a rather small market of games to choose from when the Oculus drops, most of these will be made specifically for the Oculus, so their quality is iffy at best, and they will rely on the novelty of their device. PC Games will probably end up getting player-made mods to tailor them to Oculus’ technology. For all we know Oculus will fade into obscurity like so many other VR-based mediums, but Oculus certainly has the potential to change gaming in a way that will push it forwards.

Free-roaming games like Morrowind certainly would benefit from Oculus, and horror games will get an extra spook factor from it. The only real flaw of the Oculus is that it’s not designed for any game that’s not first-person, and playing a third-person game or otherwise on it would defeat the purpose and break the immersion of the experience. Though, one will see in time whether that is the case, it seems like it will be. With an overabundance of first person shooters these days, that won’t really be a huge problem at least.

Oculus-Rift
Here’s hoping the Oculus rift defies expectations, even in the infant stages of the Next Generation of consoles. Pushing gaming forwards is never a bad thing. Let’s hope Oculus doesn’t push it back.

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