Wednesday, July 30, 2008

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Memorable Video Game Commercials

I don't know why, but when I see a commercial for a video game, I shrug it off. Don't games get enough hype pre-release from other sources? The internet gives us gamers information about games months before these advertisements kick in.

But some ads are memorable. They may be for their humor, use of music, awesome action sequences, or vivid imagery. With that said, there are a bunch of television commercials that I do remember well, even if I didn't play that particular game.

While I was going through a stack of VHS tapes I found in my house, one had a taping of a movie from cable television. The tape was from 1993, and had many kid related ads. One of them was an ad for Super Ghouls N' Ghosts. If I was a 10 year old kid, this would probably freak me out.

Best use of music - Assassin's Creed (PS3)

With Massive Attack's 'Teardrop' playing in the background, we see the protagonist scaling buildings and traversing his world, ready for the next target. Very nicely done, but it is definetly the music that has made me remember this ad from earlier this year.

Best Imagery - Gears of War (Xbox360)

Yeah, it's the song from Donnie Darko. But 'Mad World' fits perfectly with the visual imagery we're presented in the GoW world. Awesome graphics are highlighted in the scenes, as Marcus runs around looking for a break amidst the chaos.

Best use of humor - Super Smash Bros. (N64)

It starts out innocently. A few of Nintendo's most memorable franchise characters are skipping happily through a meadow, to the the tune of 'Happy Together'. Then the records skips and they start beating on each other! How is that not memorable enough?

Best use of humor (2) - Evil Dead: Hail to the King (Dreamcast)

How many of us have wished they had a chainsaw arm just like our favorite demon butt-kicker, Ash? This guy took it to the next level. Bruce Campbell himself appears in this ad. Sure, you may not remember the game, but the commercial is classic.

Best bashing of competitor - Sega Genesis

Blast prcessing, dude! The Genesis has it! Not the SNES! Wait...what is blast processing? These were the good old days, when Sega And Nintendo had the Genesis and Super NES pitted against eachother head to head. I still play both....

Best acting and special effects (not really) - Nintendo Power Glove (NES)

This guy wears the Power Glove like a champ. He knocked out Tyson with ease. This thing never worked well when I used it. But it was fun to wear around the neighborhood and pretend to be Captain N and take out the other kids!

Best In Show - The Legend of Zelda (NES)

Wow. Doesn't it look like the one kid would rather beat up the kid with glasses than play Zelda with him? No way, not when you rap and play at the same time! When I hear the kid beatboxing I pretty much lose it!

So there you go. I know there are other game commercials out there that I have forgotten about that you may remember well. So please send me a link so I can relive these beauties.

Sidebar - Maybe it's just me, but there was a period from 1988-1994 when 70% of television commercials targeted at kids had kids rapping in them. I reference the tape I found. Honeycombs, Golden Crisp, Toys R Us, all with kids rapping about 'The taste is in the shape' and what not.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

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Games I Couldn't Finish

We've all been there. You're having fun, stomping on enemies and collecting items. You're trying to experience every minute detail, grinding your way through to 100% completion. But then something happens. You no longer have the drive to see the plot unfold, to learn all of the secrets and motivations of the characters. In short, you've lost your purpose in playing the game. What's the point, right?

Now, when I rent or purchase a game, I have every intention of finishing it to the very end, 100% completed or not. But even I have a list of many, many video games that I never got around to beating for one reason or another. It could have been the monotonous and simple gameplay, the lackluster story, the crappy graphics, or the one-dimensional (or unnecessary multi-dimensional) character drama. From Battle Toads, Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts, and Legend of Mana, all the way up to Mega Man X5, Red Dead Revolver, and even Grand Theft Auto IV, I have picked up and put down many a game. Here are two of the recent games that I have unfortunately lost the luster in completing.

Shin Megami Tensei II

So, I am a huge fan of the SMT franchise. From the oringal saga (SMTI to Nocturne), to most of the spinoffs (Digital Devil Saga, Devil Summoner, Persona), something about mixing the occult, mythology, and Japanese settings (Taisho 20 to modern to post-apocalyptic) into mostly press-turn based RPG games is pretty sweet. So when a very cool game translation and hacking group released the original SMT games from SNES, I was all over it. The first one was simple enough. It took a while to get used to the first person view, looking at gray walls most of the time. But the gameplay was awesome. Recruit or destroy demons, making your way through the last remnants of Tokyo to find out if the two main antagonist groups (Gaian or Messian) will reign supreme. You could choose which side to join, or stay the neutral path (which meant more battles and boss fights).

Then, in the sequel, SMT II, something didn't feel right. The gameplay is pretty much the same, with better graphics, but the story is more convoluted and the dungeons are a SERIOUS PAIN IN THE GLUTEUS! Without a walkthrough, this game is pretty much impossible to go through, if you want to complete all of the sidequests and such. I discovered this the first time around when I started the game. There is a point where a mutant wants you to gather six separate body parts of the protector of Tokyo, Masakados. You can't simply teleport back to these temples where the parts are.'ve got to go through fun dungeons to get them. So with this prospect in mind, I just stopped playing. Fast forward to three months later, and I felt the itch to start again. I made it all the way to the second to last dungeon, but guess what, the thing is massive!

Seriously, welcome to Hell, have fun!

I got through the first floor, realized I wasn't ready to fight Beelzebub (Lord of the Flies), and shut her down for good. Now will I ever truly give up on the game? Well since I'm writing about it, I'd say no. But with other games queued up on my shelf, who knows when I'll feel like strolling though Castle Kether again.

Kingdom Hearts

Will you like this game? Yes! Or maybe no...hee hee...

I'm a pretty big fan of Disney. I grew up on the movies and still go to Disneyland every year. So when I heard there was going to be an RPG based off the countless Disney icons, and it was being made by Square-Enix no less, I was pretty psyched. I got the game, and for some reason, I never really wanted to play it. It lay wrapped on my video game shelf for a long time, until this year in fact. After playing the Enix classic Dragon Quest 8, I was still in RPG-playing mode. KH was there, so I figured why not?

Well let me tell you. This game starts off slow. You have a dream sequence, fight your shadow, then spend a bunch of time leveling up slowly on the Destiny Islands. The characters are okay. I still don't know why Sora has Shaquille O'Neal sized shoes, though. It's fun seeing the Square characters in the various Disney worlds. But by the time I beat the Deep Jungle level, the simplicity of the gameplay and the repeating mundane tasks just got boring. Beating up Cloud and the Cerberus was fun. The Alice In Wonderland level was great. But the "worlds" are basically very small, room-like dungeons with hidden areas. And if you want to get all of the item chests, you spend alot of time frustrating yourself with the awkward camera angles and crappy jump button.

You bored? Yeah, me too..

So will I ever finish Kindom Hearts? I want to say maybe, well...probably, damn...I really want to like the game. The story is pretty interesting, and the multitude of characters from the Final Fantasy and Disney realms in awesome. I want to get around to playing KH2 and the pseudo-sequel on the Gameboy Advance. But the gameplay issues and just plain boringness of the combat is keeping me from doing so. Maybe someone will convince me otherwise, but until then, this case is going to collect dust.