Pokemon Red

You’ve gotta catch this whole article (pun intended.)

Now we’re talking. One of the first generation games that started it all. We can only be talking about Pokemon Red, Blue or Green.

Gotta catch ’em a– A CHARIZARD! GET IT, QUICK!

A quick bit of history

The Pokemon franchise was one of those rare occurrences that started life as a simple video game, appealing mainly to children with its use of cutely designed animals. From there, it took life as a much bigger platform, from video games, manga comics, anime and even films. Pokemon took the world by storm and we’re okay with that.

I chose Pokemon Red as, although blue is my more preferred colour, Red was the pokemon game I had seen first. I had both Red and Yellow on my Gameboy Colour, which was a yellow Gameboy Colour. Sadly, not the Pikachu special Gameboy Colour, but yellow none the less.

The Pokemon series took into Trading Card Games which is how I begun. As a youngen who had never heard of a Pikachu before, I was handed some “swaps” by a friend who then asked me to battle his cards. So naturally I grabbed my Pokeballs cards and begun to play. On my first bout with nothing but swaps, I managed to win (Via technicalities, such as us playing outside and some of his cards blowing away. I did say it was because he gave me a card that summoned the wrath of the wind). I remember the craze well as it took over my school like a nasty cold. Even when it was dying down, somehow it surged back!

This card summons the wrath of the wind.

So then I start Pokemon Red and I see these the creatures that were on my cards are really there in a game! Wow, let’s go and catch them all!

Eventually I did, by about the age of 15 (Thanks truck, Mew wasn’t there and not even strength could move you!) and it was a glorious day filled with cheers, party’s and a damn certificate saying “You have wasted a lot of time in this time sink”… and I am okay with that!

Gaming, to me, is best described via the Pokemon franchise. Pokemon is no different to watching films that keep getting sequels, as both Pokemon and films with loads of sequels are time sinks. You are entertained by these vast wastes of time. The difference? You technically can be entertained longer via a game. Pokemon has the goal: “Gotta catch ’em all”. Each and every iteration looks to improve upon the last, in terms of the engine behind it as well as more and more Pokemon to catch.

If you didn’t play Pokemon and you were a “geek” like me, there were serious eyebrow raising from other geeks around my age! People wanted to be social with you, via a link cable. Share your Pokemon with other players! They level up easier that way, some even turn into bigger and better creatures (evolve) after a trade. Pokemon wasn’t just a franchise of video games, it was a social norm to some kids.

Gameplay

Many avid gamers were able to pick this game up quite quickly as it plays like a standard Role Playing Game. You have a world where you interact with people, a SNES, some TVs, some computers, some people, etcetera. However, this is where this game was separated from many others of it’s time:

Random encounters with the character you play as not doing the fighting.

That might sound like an odd thing for a game, where you’re this character in a Role Playing Game and you do not do the fighting yourself. No, this is why you are on a quest to catch all of the Pokemon, of course. You want to make yourself the best team of Pokemon to take on anything! Pokemon can be described as the “Rock Paper Scissors” of RPGs. The three starting Pokemon all have natural strengths and weaknesses to one another. For example:

Bulbasaur, Charmander and Squirtle respectively.

Bulbasaur, the Seed Pokemon – Is a “grass type”. You wouldn’t put grass near some fire now, would you?
Charmander, the Lizard Pokemon – Is a “fire type”. You wouldn’t put fire near water now, would you?
Squirtle, the Tiny Turtle Pokemon – Is a “water type”. You wouldn’t put water near grass now, would you? … It’ll just grow!

So as you can see, the three starters were made to combat one another. Whichever one you picked, your “rival” in the game, GARY OAK Blue, would pick the one with the “type advantage” over your starter. That seems like it’s a hard fought battle uphill, but as you play through the game, you can carry around up to 6 Pokemon, meaning you can just bring in the Pokemon you need to in order to defeat GARY OAK Blue once and for all.

Stop it, (GARY OAK!!!!) Blue, just stop it.

Pokemon is evil..?

Here’s a some bonus content/Easter eggs for you. There are now countless stories of how evil the Pokemon franchise is because let’s face it: “the geeks are enjoying themselves, it must be evil” was a pretty common theme a few years ago. Geek culture has improved to where it is socially acceptable to be a geek and proud of it. Now, how is this series evil?

Rather than just typing all of the different reasons for it being evil, I’ll simply link you to the Bulbapedia page on “Pokemon Controversies“. If you’re interested, it is a great read and just shows you how difference in culture can cause such a big reaction!

Alternatively, if you’re up for being all “creeped out”, why not read some Pokemon Creepypastas? Disclaimer: Creepypastas are stories. Enjoy!

The most important thing about Pokemon Red/Blue

This is the ultimate Pokemon.

Minecraft

Those of you who know me, I’m sure you knew this was coming!

Minecraft, sometimes called Minceraft

This is a game that has gained considerable attention over the past few years and for good reason.

Minecraft is one of these rare games that doesn’t need “fancy graphics” and doesn’t need “crazy shooting action.” This is a game that was made to be entertaining and nothing but entertaining. But the question is, why is it so popular?

Enter the open world

Minecraft is quite special. It’s a sandbox game with some hints of survival, co-op, building and even PVP should you want it. Different servers that you can join have different “themes”, too. You may go onto a server that wants to re-create scenes from famous movies, then you may go to another server that is focused on magic and the likes… But none of this is in the main game!

The main game gives you an open world to run around in. You start by punching trees and punching grass… But in return: You get the material! So you punch a block out of a tree and see this randomly hovering tree… because gravity needs to be defied often. This is a game which defies gravity, unless it’s sand or gravel you’re punching. Once you’ve gotten your material, you can use it to make something else out of it! Punch out a lot of grass and it gives you dirt. Go ahead and make a house out of dirt! How? Just make it! Put it down in the world and make it into a house shape! There we go!

Remember that tree you punched out earlier? Turn them into wooden planks! Then turn 4 of those (1 log) into a crafting bench! Turn wooden planks and sticks into a wooden pickaxe!

This is a game that doesn’t hold your hand, but it doesn’t make itself too hard for you, either. This is a game where your best resource for education is not via a tutorial, but you’ll learn just by playing the game. So this makes it special in itself: No introduction is needed. Just pick up and play. With intuitive controls and a rather pleasant feeling about it, this game is easy for a new guy to pick up and play.

Watch out!

A wild creeper appears!

Oh no! An enemy! But what is that thing?

That there is a creeper. You remember that lovely dirt house you just built? The creeper has followed you home caught you outside of your home and has exploded. All of your 5 minutes work is now gone! This certainly is no good! You’ll need to build something stronger against these creepers!

Ah, it’s now night time! Oh well, let’s keep getting resources.

A wild zombie appears!

Oh no! An enemy! A zombie! It’s out to eat us!

So you’ve got enemies to deal with… and you know that at least one of them blows up and destroys your work. Great.

As time goes on, you learn how to handle all of these beasts. You know how to make torches and you’ve built yourself a nice big house… Eventually, you get really good at this Minecraft malarky… and you just want to do something that little bit more involved.

Enter the mods

This is where Minecraft changes.

Minecraft is truly the game it is thanks to the modding community. We have versions of Minecraft with different names: Tekkit, Feed The Beast (Known as FTB to experienced Minecraft players), Voltz, YogBox… There are a lot of these modded versions of the game.

You just know them creepers are up to no good.

This isn’t to take away from Minecraft, but its sole appeal is truly to get every resource, to make yourself a lovely home and to build (whatever) to your hearts content. Or to battle people to your hearts content. Or to survive to your hearts content (Go live in “The Nether” on the hardest mode!)

What is the goal?

This is the bit that makes the non-believers of this game shudder. There is no goal. This is a game that is basically what you want it to be. On my server, I run a “TekkitLite” server. It’s tiny and was built for me and my closest friends in mind. On this server, I have a little “City” which is the “Home of automating”. I attempt to automate as many processes as possible. I have little robots do some deforestry for me: then they replant the forest! I have a robot do my farming for me! I have a machine that has fished something like 2,000,000 fish (… There truly are plenty of fish in the sea).

But what’s the point?

This is the point. There is no point.

Enjoy the game which has no point!

A picture of my server... Daves Party Palace is in the distance. Of course.
A picture of my server… Daves Party Palace is in the distance. Of course.

Final Fantasy IX

Zidane and his band of merry men plot to kidnap Queen Brahne again!

Ozma.

OZMA!! NOOO!!!
Ozma. Darn Ozma!

Thanks all, glad you came for this review!

Wait? I can’t just say Ozma and call it a day? Okay, okay. I figured this would be an obvious choice for me to review as my first Cosplay was the main protagonist of this game.

Synopsis

So in this story, you follow a man with a prehensile monkey tail and a rather interesting fashion sense, named Zidane Tribal. Zidane, as you find out at the start of the game, is a thief. Zidane and his band of merry men plot to kidnap Queen Brahne Princess Garnet. Turns out though that girl-men (yes, you silver haired man whose original design was to be a woman!) like to use princesses as weapons. Go figure!

How long do I hold my breath for to get this blue?
Queen Brahne, the most babealicious babe… wait…

So this is a giant story filled with friendship, thieves being good, bullying people endearingly and jump-rope. Amazingly, all of this happens in the game.

Graphics

This game wins graphically, even today. Let me ellaborate for you:

Final Fantasy IX was released at the end of the Playstation 1(PSX)s life. PSX was about to give way to it’s big brother, Playstation 2 (PS2). The artists of this game, however, decided: “No, this console has much more to give”. Limitations or not, this game was a beautiful hurrah to the end of the PSX. Truly, a beautiful game.

Characters

Very easily recognisable characters within a franchise of angsty heroes. Zidane comes off up-beat and ready to help everyone. He is relatively androgynous to help matters, which is feared may have alienated some people to this game. I say you cannot be more manly than what he wore!

Zidane Tribal, how dandy

Garnet isn’t a damsel in distress, more a curiously courteous charm with caring… Connotations? Where was I going with that? Garnet wants to get stuck right in and help out her future kingdom the way she knows how, by being involved. Power to her!

Princess Garnet in her usual attire

Adelbert Steiner has the best name ever and his knickname of Rusty by Zidane is exactly why I loved him, period. Fiercely devoted to protecting the princess at all costs, Steiner is given the dillemma of protecting his princess whilst she sometimes defies the kingdom.

(Steiner needs to just be witnessed. Go Steiner!)

 

Vivi, a child-like black mage, with powers unimaginable! Vivi comes across as sweet and naive. Bless. With patchy clothing and a curiousity befitting that of a cat, Vivi will likely make you say “Aww” a few times.

Vivi
Those adorable, innocent, yellow eyes of DESTRUCTION

The above protagonists you encounter within the first few scenes (or if quick the first 30 minutes) of playing. Trust me, I haven’t given anything away in this story, those are really general gists!

Music

Fans of the Final Fantasy series are used to getting five star audio treatment. The music in every place and every battle is designed by a musical genius.

From tracks on Disk 1, such as Steiners Theme to tracks on Disk 3, such as You’re Not Alone, the soundtrack takes you to a sort of steampunk/medieval setting. The theme stays true throughout and helps the atmosphere beautifully. Trust me: Listen to You’re Not Alone by Nobou Uematsu. Awesome.

Enjoy the above link. It’s worth a few minutes if you like video game music.

Comedy

I always fear these kinds of games. They can get too serious and I need some comedy in my life! Thankfully, this game fails to disappoint on the comedy front.

The mix of personalities shines through like the stars in the night sky. Zidane constantly womanises, sometimes to the detriment to his devotion to carrying out his duties of Princess kidnapping.

Steiner takes a very long time to trust Zidane, who had kidnapped the princess. The chemistry between these two made the game that much more special for me, honestly. From name calling, to duty stating and much more, these two bicker like there is no tomorrow. Good, keep it that way!

 

There is also referencial humour which pokes fun at some of the older games and easter eggs for fans of the series.

No cloud, no squall shall hinder us
Indeed, Marcus. Indeed.


Overall

So, this game holds dear to my heart. Regardless of what anyone says, I am completely biased to this game.

I feel the only space that could have been improved upon was the timing of release / platform of choice. Due to it being released as the PSX was going out and the PS2 coming in and due to the length of the game, they could have toppled the giant that was Final Fantasy VII easily. The power of the PS2 over the PSX would have been a great boon to this already wonderful game.

Ignore the technology and focus on the game and you easily have my pick of the Final Fantasy crop. This game stands head and shoulders above the others for me. I want more RPGs like it.

Pac-Man

Here’s a game proposal for you:

Yellow circle eating small white circles and ghosts (When powered up by a bigger white circle that the yellow circle can eat). If not powered up, then the ghosts try to catch the yellow circle and if they catch the yellow circle, it  inverts on itself.

I call this masterpiece of a game, Pac-Not.
I call this masterpiece of a game, Pac-Not.

Oh, it’s been done!?

Sound delightful? A game like Pac-Man truly is in a class of it’s own. Released in Japan in May 1980, Pac-Man still stands strong today. People often to this day seek to get to “the last level” of the game which cannot be completed due to a bug.

The last level. Oh yeah, that’s fair.

Pac-Man is instantly recognisable world wide with one of, if not the, most recognisable video game character ever made. That is a lot of pressure you’ve got there, Namco! Indeed, this is another game with plenty of spin-offs and “clones”. Pac-Man stepped into the scene as an arcade game, when at the time, Space Invaders ruled the arcades. So, how did Pac-Man fare? Rather damn well, becoming one of the highest grossing video games of all time.

Although just an opinion, I feel this is thanks to the simply gender neutral approach the game took. There were criticisms in that he was ‘Pac-Man’, which may have somewhat alienated female gamers, so they made ‘Mrs. Pac-Man’. No harm done, hopefully.

Bows do solve all of the worlds problems.

But what of the gameplay? It’s based in a maze of sorts (A-maze-ing T__T; ), where you control Pac-Man with a joystick, or buttons, depending on the hardware you are using. All you have to do to beat a level is eat all of the small dots and the four corner power-up dots. As well as this, avoid the four ghosts (Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde) unless you are powered up, where you can eat them for a score bonus. Eat all of them before your power-up runs out and you get a large bonus. As well as this, there is food to be eaten, for bonus points! Whew.

For what is such a simple game, Pac-Man possesses some surprisingly fun AI in our ghosts. Each ghost has their own unique personality to catch Pac-Man with. As you advance through levels, the game gets faster, making pattern detection harder for a player.

All in all, if you haven’t played a Pac-Man game before, I would be flabbergasted and frankly disappointed. Go play this retro classic. Now. I will wait here. Chop, chop!