It’s been a while since I’ve played point and click adventure games; they were a childhood staple for me. Most kids had either a Gameboy or a console, both if they were lucky, for me it was adventure and educational computer games. I grew up in a strict household where if we were having fun we better be doing something that wasn’t making our brain rot so that’s how I ended up playing lots of point and click games. From what I remember most of those games probably wouldn’t be much fun for me today, but those mystery and puzzle games had always been fun to figure out. Apart from Nancy Drew I hadn’t really ventured in the point and click adventure game genre since but Broken Sword 2 has refreshed my curiosity.
Definitely not for kids it’s the second game in the Broken Sword series which revolve around the adventures of George Stobbart and Nico Collard. The remastered game is available in both PC and mobile devices in download format. In this installment Nico goes with George to investigate a carved Mayan stone she came across while investigating a drug ring. When she goes to a professor’s house to get more info George is knocked out and she is immediately abducted. The game has you step in the shoes of both Nico and George to unravel a strange conspiracy that puts their lives in danger and might have the fate of the world rest in its balance.
The controls are easy to figure out in both mobile and computer with options to look, talk, pick up, and interact depending on the nature of the thing you’re clicking on. With simple controls you’re free to examine and figure your way through the game. One of the things that has always been frustrating for me was the common stuck feeling I always got when playing through these types of games, but Broken Sword 2 has hints to help you through the game when you need a nudge. My favorite thing about the hint feature is the games give you escalating hints that go from slight nudges to detailed instructions on what to do the more hints you ask for, which allows you to still get the satisfaction of figuring things out and not have to consult walkthroughs if you hit a brick wall.
This game is hard enough to not be a one sitting game, requiring me to stop playing halfway through so I don’t finish by the time the sun rises again. According to Steam I played for 8 hours, your experience may vary.
Perhaps what made my game drag out so much was the witty dialogue and excellent voice acting, which had me pick every talking option with the other characters. If you’re like me in that aspect you’ll enjoy some of the jokes throughout the game, one of my favorite involves a tequila worm I picked up, and you have the option of showing it to most characters you encounter in the game with Stobbart himself seeming to notice his strange attraction to the worm as the game progresses. Everything else is top notch too. This game came out in the 90′s so there’s only so much you can remaster until it loses its old fashioned charm, and to me it seems tweaked enough to still feel like a game from the era but enough retouching to make the game look like a really good version of its old self. The cut scenes are some of the most gratifying things you get out of the game and push you to see how the story ends. The new game even comes with a prequel comic, a great bonus for such a satisfying game.
So what I’m saying is you should definitely check out the remastered version of Broken Sword 2: The Smoking Mirror, it’s a great game. If you want to watch the trailer be mindful that it might contain some spoilers.
Games, at their roots, are a social hub. From board games to arcades to home consoles: there has always been a social aspect. Unfortunately the social aspect of video games is, for the majority, met by a microphone strapped to your head. While the ability to play with friends from around the globe is great, some couch multiplayer is still wonderful. Unfortunately as video games become more and more popular with consoles in more homes every day, local multiplayer is beginning to slip. While I do not think the transition to online social links is at all bad, I still love local multiplayer. One of the prime examples of a system designed for social gaming is the Nintendo 64.
Tangled mess = Good night
The Nintendo 64 may not be the best Nintendo console (the worst in my personal opinion), but the gems it did have are truly gems. I am going to pick the top 5 multiplayer experiences I had on the system. I did not play, nor do I have any intention of playing, every game on the system so this is far from a definitive list. With that disclaimer let’s start:
#5 Mario Party 3
This game is a staple for the system. I chose this entry before Mario Party 1 and 2 for one reason: more mini games. Since this series is made by the mini-games this only makes sense. I hate to include a Mario Party game on the list because it is the “Monopoly of videogames” in that it is a very realistic possibility to lose friends to the sheer level backstabbing that forms the foundation of this game series. Boo may as well be the grim reaper.
The “lost friend” count is only rivaled by the “dead friend” count.
That aside: it is a blast. Whether it is you and one friend or a room full. The constant zany actions of characters and the mini games is enough to entertain you for hours. Assuming the fun is not interrupted up by the need for first aid attention.
#4 007: The World is Not Enough
I know that 007: Goldeneye is generally regarded as the best fps of the N64, and maybe of all-time, rivaled only by Perfect Dark on the system. If anyone were to ask me? The superior fps is Goldeneye’s younger brother: it did everything Goldeneye did and more. Granted in its own right Goldeneye was iconic and it has inspired many creators The World is Not Enough aged much better than Goldeneye and it is far more tolerable in terms of gameplay and graphics. Controls are just as awful thanks to the inbred octopus of a controller that the N64 has. Also worth noting is that none of your friends can play as Odd Job now, so now everyone wins. Except for the one that picks Odd Job, now everyone knows how bad they are. Sorry.
You can’t help anyone who mains Odd Job.
#3 Mortal Kombat 4
Mortal Kombat is an influential series for me. It is the game that made me a fan of fighting games and real virtual competition, and maybe a little spine ripping out of the body action. This was a saving grace for the Nintendo 64. The N64 had a weak market of fighting tolerable fighting games composed mainly of Mortal Kombat: Trilogy, Killer Instinct Gold, and Clayfighter 63 1/3. Mortal Kombat 4 was a game I did not originally own on the system, but one that I picked up after I began collecting older games from my youth. That being said this is a game that I am glad I picked up. It keeps the Mortal Kombat charm and is entirely suitable for a few rounds of fun. It is by no means as defining as a fighting game that is soon to be mentioned. It was nice to find that the game had a nice character roster too. That is always nice to be able to swap in between fights to a better color ninja.
Ah yes I love yellow ninja way more than blue ninja.
#2 F-Zero X
As far as racing games for the Nintendo 64 went: a lot of good ones existed. The Crusin’ series, Mario Kart, and Diddy Kong are a few prime examples. This game is another that I didn’t own in my youth. Upon playing it more recently I feel I can say without wearing nostalgia goggles that it is the pinnacle of racing for the system. The game is entirely based on speed. No lucky items, just pure racing skill and a mix of irrational and nonsensical speed. Along with 29 competitors. Yes 30 racers in a single race going faster than one reasonably should, even in a race. Games are all about nonsense like that. I love that nonsense.
757 km/h is almost as fast as a falcon punch.
The game is really content heavy as well, look at this select screen for the vehicles alone.
What goes great with all those vehicles? How about a samurai to drive them? No? A dinosaur maybe? That’s right you can’t say no to a dinosaur. If you somehow are not into totally rad sentient dinosaurs you can choose the always punching Captain Falcon. Or a multitude of other character, but who cares because dinosaurs driving fast cars.
This is not a godly evolution line.
With so much pure awesome packed into so much cartridge, how could you go wrong? Other than some sharp turns. It is sure to be a great use of a few nights to fly through this game with some friends.
#1 Super Smash Bros
I’m sure this surprises literally no one. Super Smash Bros is the series that makes the N64. It may have some other great games, but this is it. If all else fails you can always return to this. I could babble about this game for pages, but you already know. Everyone knows.
Where arguments are really settled. If for some reason you don’t know, just know this: some of the best Nintendo characters on one screen fighting it out for supremacy. Controlled by you and 3 friends. If you lose you want to prove yourself, if you win you want to stay on top. It’s a never ending cycle of always coming back to this game.
Many people have complained over the years to the fact that movies and games that are taken from books almost never turn out to be as good as the original source. Happily, there are some gems that are hidden in the crowd of mediocrity. Parasite Eve is an older Playstation game that was actually the sequel to a popular Japanese horror novel of the same title. The book and game are tied tightly together, and they demonstrate that one really can have an extremely well done game based from literature.
Parasite Eve, the novel, by Hideaki Sena is a Japanese horror novel with many science fiction elements. It was originally published in 1996, but people who couldn’t read in Japanese had to wait to read it until 2005 when it was finally translated into English. The story is heavily based on science, including biology and genetics. The book is so technical that it is often confusing to follow, unless the reader has a thorough background in biology. That’s what makes it such good science fiction, though. It takes real science and twists it a bit to make a fast-paced story.
Cover Art for Parasite Eve, the novel.
The story follows Toshiaki Nagishima, a biology and pharmaceutical researcher. His wife, Kiyomi, has been declared brain dead after a horrible car accident. However, there is more going on than meets the eye. The novel presumes that the mitochondria in a human’s cells have been evolving since the days of primordial sludge. The mitochondria have formed a new life form, called “Eve,” which has now reached a peak in her evolutionary process. Kiyomi’s body just happens to have the right conditions for Eve to begin to take control. In fact, Eve is the one responsible for Kiyomi’s car accident in order to be transplanted into others. Throughout the novel, Eve manipulates the people around her on a cellular level. Her ultimate goal is to give birth to a child that will be able to chance its genetic code on a whim and there be the perfect life form that will replace humans as the dominate life on earth.
Though the novel sounds scientific and dry, it is actually first and foremost a horror story. The reader gets suspense, creepy, and downright scary all rolled into one novel. The science just adds to the realism of the novel. Since the novel is based in science, the reader gets to wonder: What if this really could happen? Don’t we have mitochondria in all of our cells? What if someone’s body was taken over at the cellular level? These questions and more make up some of the thematic elements of the story. It allows the reader to question whether we really know everything about the human body. Are we even in control of our bodies? It’s a creepy thought and is one of many that this novel brings to the table.
The novel was so popular that it spawned a video game sequel with the same title. Though the game takes place in the United States, many of the same elements that made the novel so unique appear in the game. Parasite Eve is an action-based RPG that also falls into the “survival horror” category. It was released in 1998 on the original Playstation. In a sea of traditional RPGs, Parasite Eve was unique in its tone and game play.
The story follows Aya Brea, an NYPD cop who just wants to spend a quiet evening at the opera. Unfortunately, everyone at the opera spontaneously combusts, leaving her and an actress named Melissa alive. After investigating, Aya finds out that Eve is up to her same old tricks again: She is again trying to create the “Ultimate Being” by manipulating people whose bodies have the right conditions for Eve to flourish. Aya finds out that her mitochondria is evolving as well, which gives her some pretty awesome powers. It is up to Aya to go up against Eve to save New York City.
Though having RPG elements, such as leveling up and gaining new powers, the player must also dodge attacks during battle (something that was unique for that time period of RPGs). Aya develops powers and is able to use those as well. Battles are chosen more through random encounters, although there are spots that if you walk over, you are guaranteed a battle. Weapons and armor can be upgraded or replaced as the player explores. The game play gets a creepy vibe with the genetically altered creatures, although the best part of the game could actually be the cut scene graphics which still look great even after all of this time. The in-game graphics are a little grainy, but there is nothing like those amazing cut-scenes.
The cut-scenes of this game still look good today.
It’s hard to imagine that an excellent novel could spawn an excellent game. There have been so many let-downs with novel to movie that sometimes it’s easy to forget that video game developers can get it right. However, Parasite Eve remains amazing, regardless of being in print or in pixel.
I was so amazed by what I walked into the main show floor at PAX East I witnessed all developers, hardware manufacturers have their very own nook carved out of the Boston convention center. Before I walked down the long steps and I snapped the 1st picture of my face in utter amazement. I first walked into the Boston Convention Center and stood in line to receive my first media badge. I proceeded to walk towards the big glass doors spotted with a few security guards and some structures promoting PAX. As I walked through the door I had an Idea of what was to be in store for me but, what took me by surprise the most was the amazement that stemmed from the actuality that I have finally made it! I have made it to one milestone of mine to go to one of the big shows in the gaming world PAX East!
I descended the staircase I first noticed Bethesda Softworks booth showcasing large walls of Wolfenstein & The Evil Within images the large titan tron screen had no image up yet, later they were to display two titles ESO (Elder Scrolls Online) and Wolfenstein.The two titles displayed are good as some of you know already of ESO but, the beginning sequence to Wolfenstein was awesome a far cry from the original game of course in the graphics department but, more importantly story. Later, I wandered around snapping selfies of me in from of Turtle Beaches mammoth sized headphones and snapshots Xbox One’s large setup. In Microsoft’s booth they were setting up Kinect Rivals Sports definitely a game I would love to play on the show floor tomorrow. I also snapped a picture of a barely set up of Project Spark another title I must play coming from the wonders over there at Rare Games. As I moseyed around the corner from there I saw roughly 15 monitors half in which had Xbox One’s hooked up, I’m sure the rest will plug into the flat screen tvs. I wandered around avoiding heavy machinery and guys and gals pushing carts around with serious merch and building supplies and I got side swiped by that hinted at behemoth two legged dinosaur monster from the game Evolve and this statue is surely fine crafted and gargantuan!
There was several sections setup for pc play for titles from developers like NC Soft & Carbine Studios WildStar and games like Infinite crisis which has a large section carved out with custom comfy gamer PC chairs on stage and off… sounds like some great things will happen in that side of the convention center. I have heard some rumbling about Infinite crisis but, when I saw a little bit of the cast which is DC universe characters, if you didn’t know made me flip my wig (just a tad). When I took a deeper look on the outskirts of the show floor where all the large displayed casted its shiny shadows I saw random geekery merchandise from creators like Fangamer whom makes all types of stuff showing reverence to our video game favorites like Animal Crossing New Leaf socks and Legend Of Zelda shirts and the flying P from Super Mario Bros 3. There is plenty from these wonderful folks and hopefully I can catch the ear of one of their booth reps to ask them a few questions for realotakugamer.com. I also saw small booths displaying mobile games, This weekend I will try to over the small indie mobile games that are glue that binds this convention. I saw merchandiser booths for retro games and even retro systems to go along with those classic gems. Oh yeah, The Crew had a grand display too giving us the feel of working in the garage set of fast and the furious RIP Paul Walker.
Come to find out after I recharged my body phone and wrote part of this article on the 1st floor when I went back inside to check out some more booths for around 20 minutes an “Enforcer” people whom are hired to secure the floors for random things that shouldn’t be happening, spotted me and noticed I had a Media Pass. The nice fellow asked if i had any “other passes like a vendor badge”, I honestly said “no” and he politely asked me to leave. He walked me to the front counter, the information counter and explained to them that the security at the door was not checking badges properly. I was elated that i was able to experience the behind the scenes of PAX East while also giving you, our readers the inside scoop on my Twitter account.
Boy oh boy I have plenty to say about my 1st PAX East but, to the thing is it hasn’t even started yet! This is only the beginning and oh how sweet it is even at the crunch time for the shows main opening. Stay tuned for future reporting from myself Sean “NoirZilla Gamer” Jacobs and Tiffany Marshall on whats going down on the show floor at PAX East 2014 from RealOtakuGamer.com
The Hero, The Princess, and The Lord of Evil.
These three entities have created and brought forth fantasies and stories for centuries. In the dawn of video gaming, Nintendo took these three elements and weaved together a tale that would go on and become a legend. That legend is
The Legend of Zelda!
This retrospective was done to celebrate our “Ultimate Legend of Zelda Fan Contest” and the celebration of the Japanese release of the original game. We hope you enjoy the video and feel free to comment below.
Narrated by Giovanni “HMK” Santos
Produced by Giovanni “HMK” Santos, Andre Tipton
Written and Edited by Giovanni “HMK” Santos
Additional Editing provide by Tyler “VoltEditzz” W.
Directed by Giovanni “HMK” Santos, Daniel “DNA8255″ Santos
The Legend of Zelda is created and owned by Nintendo.
Don’t forget to keep it here at Real Otaku Gamer and subscribe to HMK for more on The Legend of Zelda
Welcome back to this one player adventure starring your very own legendary whip lashing vampire killer from Transylvania Simon Belmont. You should know by now this journey will be fraught with danger but, what do we do in the face of that? We sure don’t cringe I can tell you that.
Unepic (EnjoyUp Games)
Try this mixture platform, role playing, comedy that takes place in a fantasy of medieval lore. Set in the 80’s Join our hero Daniel a cool nerd that’s into role playing board games and sci-fi movies as he is thrust into a world he thinks is a bad hallucination. How long can he go before he realizes that where he has landed is oh so much more? 7 bosses, 70 spells and 100 weapons filled with snarky dialogue and pop culture references. Unepic is sure to spark up your inner geek, come on give it a try!
F1 Race Stars: Powered up edition (Codemaster)
3, 2, 1, Goooooooo! Blast onto the race course with over the top Formula One racer with brand new content, featured circuits, loop-the-loops and shortcuts famous transformed tracks all in the company of 1-4 player pals via split screen.
Doesn’t flow off the tongue like Jay-Z Hard Knock Life Vol.2 song “A week ago” unlike the timeless Rap classic album Nintendo’s reputation amongst gamers has been a tumultuous one & hasn’t really been good to look back on. Though while the “gamers” have rallied against big N’s relevance in gaming today. Nintendo has continuously remained profitable and as a business that is the core thing for a company to remain successful. Gamers as fickle as we are as a whole are nothing to scoff at. The gaming community rallied around all that was Nintendo throughout the 3rd and 4th generation but, as the 5th generation reared its head. It seemed as if throughout all the years this company has gotten right they have lost what essentially made them great. Let me dust off the history books and take a peep into them to see what the catalysts was that landed them into this peculiar situation. Generation 5 when Nintendo 64 was released by the big N there was so much hype surrounding what could be. There was its new weird looking controller introducing analog control stick tech into console gaming along with 64 megabits of power. It seemed as if things were all good except for the fact Sega’s Saturn & newcomer Sony’s PlayStation was a CD based platform. That to me was Big N’s major 1st misstep because we all know Nintendo stayed with the old ways of console gaming mediums, Cartridges. I believe this is why Nintendo started to lose its grip on the gamers. Though, a long time ago for most of you modern gamers the gamers whom are in their late 20’s to mid-30’s should remember how the N64 was a wasteland of 3rd party titles rarely seeing jewels that were popping up on the competitions CD based platforms.
Though, the games that did show up by Nintendo’s efforts to collaborate with 3rd party developers & utilizing & acquiring new in house ones. They were able to remain profitable and provide us gamers with classic titles like Mario Kart 64, Star wars Rouge squadron, Mario 64 and let’s not forget the title that made the FPS genre popular on consoles James Bond’s Golden eye to name a few. Those weren’t enough to steamroll the legions of developers from leaving Nintendo home console behind. The flexibility of CD wasn’t the only reason they left Nintendo in the corner. It was their overall business practices that seemingly drove a lot of business away because of that but, it took the likes of the new challenger of the throne Sony’s PlayStation that gave them a place to call home. In return the Sony PlayStation won the 5th console generation. Along with that stole a good portion of the market share Nintendo had for years. During Gen 5 games like Banjo-Kazooie while fun and enjoyable could not bring in new adult gamers into the fold when there were mature titles being released with cinematic experiences unseen for the most part on the N64.
As Generation 5 came to a close and new gamers of a higher age bracket came into the market. Sony Playstation had experiences and cutting edge technologies that you couldn’t find in Nintendo’s home console. Though like a well primed company that it is Nintendo still remained profitable even after losing significant market share along with maintain some of the fiercest fans out there. Granted their profitability wasn’t all hinged on their home console efforts all the while Nintendo is an game company so, as they somewhat floundered their market share Nintendo has the portable gaming market in their pocket protector. Pulling in gangbusters of cashola into their bank accounts later to be infused with some of their future home consoles. Titles like some of their tried and true franchises and new IP’s like Pokémon flourished on this platform but, also new gadgetry and technologies sprung up throughout the Game Boy’s lifetime. Though the portable market is virtually owned by Nintendo for the most part the home console side of things is where Nintendo should start to tighten its grip. From here on out Big N had an uphill battle going into the 6th generation. Stay tuned for the second half of my vision in “Double-edged sword Part 2: Now you’re playing with power”
You’ve seen it everywhere – news, media, politicians, and parents who all swear on their life that if video games were removed from society, it would end gun crimes, violence, and homicides. Whether or not there is a measure of truth in this, those whose lives have been shaped by video games are thrown to the wayside. Very rarely do you hear a personal testimony of the industry’s goodness, and if you do, it’s because the conversation was prompted.
My definition of a gamer is this: Someone whose life was shaped, molded, and inspired by the gaming industry. While gaming throughout the years has changed me and continues to do so, most of us can agree that there is one game that is held near and dear. For me, that was Final Fantasy 7.
This is my story.
I was about 9 circa 1998 when my parents would drag me around to do errands. Whenever I would go to Circuit City or Best Buy, I always bee-lined straight to the musical instruments aisle. I would spend the whole time trying to learn the songs that were built into the keyboard’s library. Eventually, my parents bought me one of my own. To this day, it was the best thing they ever have done.
My older brother would play Final Fantasy 7 and I would always beg to sit and watch him play. I don’t know why, I just really wanted to. He hated the fact that whenever he was playing, I would ask him to watch, and with a disgruntled moan, he agreed. After weeks of doing this, there then came the scene of one of the most memorable cut-scenes in gaming history: Aeris’ death. Mouth agape, eyes peeled open, I watched as Cloud tried to kill her as she knelt in solemn, silent prayer. In one swift motion, from the darkness came Sephiroth with his katana, and without hesitation impaled Aeris. Her arms fell to her sides, motionless, and took her last breath. My mind fixated on the emotional storm that was now raging inside of me, allowing Aeris’ theme to embed itself into my head.
I was depressed for days, and at 10 years old, I couldn’t understand why. I didn’t think about it; I just knew I was upset. My dad tried to cheer me up, but his attempts were met with quiet shrugs. I played piano, but I would just plink them, not knowing what I was doing. A particular key that I hit was the same one that starts out Aeris’ Theme, so from there, I just figured out how the song went somehow. Matching the melody in my head to the instrument in front of me, I learned how to play the song. That was 14 years ago, and it’s because of Final Fantasy 7 that I am a pianist and currently a music teacher.
That was one chapter of my life.
Eventually I got tired of watching my brother and cousin play video games. It was my turn. I started Final Fantasy 7 from the beginning and it opened an impossible world that I could escape into when reality became chaotic. Throughout the hours spent on the game, so many scenes stuck in my head like a still image. At night, my mind would drift to the events that unfolded. Not too soon after I started playing the game, I was with my father and I told him I wanted a sketchbook. I never took an art class save for what was mandatory in school, and never doodled anything. It just hit me like a ton of bricks that this was what I wanted.
My father bought me a sketchbook. Nothing fancy – just something you would pick up at CVS. I sat down at my white desk one day, lights off except for my small desk lamp, and drew the back of the Final Fantasy 7 case. I didn’t stop there though; I drew Midgar in the background, and then drew the FF7 logo to try to make it look like a promotional flyer. At 10 years old, no experience, I thought my drawing was terrific.
I continued to make more – Aeris with her arms spread out and the Lifestream covering Midgar, Aeris and Red XIII in the Shinra building before she was about to be eaten, and everyone around the campfire in Cosmo Canyon. Soon enough, I couldn’t stop drawing and my sketchbook came with me everywhere I went. To this day, I still have a giant plastic box with all of my drawings and sketchbooks from when I first started out. My artistic skills have made me a great deal of money and also has become in decent demand within my friends and family.
I was enraptured by the story. Coming from playing simple and fun games like Sonic and Monopoly for the Genesis to grandeur worlds was something I had never imagined possible. I fell in love with each character and their contribution to the story, all the plot twists, the expositions, climaxes, and resolutions. When I beat a game, I felt accomplished, but I still yearned for more. This is not an uncommon feeling within the gaming community, I began to realize. By the time FF7 was complete, I had moved onto Tomb Raider, Chocobo’s Dungeon, Wild Arms, and Chrono Cross. Every game, every story – everything was always different and I couldn’t get enough.
AOL/AIM was the popular thing back in the day, and eventually I found out about chat-rooms. Some nice, some… well, questionable. I found a chat-room called the Dark Chocobo Knights (Final Fantasy X reference for those who haven’t played it), where people would role-play various Final Fantasy characters. For a while, I simply watched and tried to figure out what this trend was all about, and then I picked up on it. I could create my own fictional story with my favorite Final Fantasy character. For years, I role-played with the DCK and other forums, chat-rooms, and websites. Coupled with having a certain aficionado for reading, my diction and syntax within my short stories and poems became strong due to my constant role-playing.
The Jane of All Trades
Gaming shapes character, and I don’t think anyone could doubt that. It has won me a number of jobs due to confidence and my ability to speak, which only came from my ability to write, which only came from role-playing, which consequently was because of gaming. Aggression and competitiveness are prime traits a gamer gains. In addition to everything stated above, I model because I love to cosplay. I developed a love for theater because during my younger years, I took my online role-playing to reality, where a few of my like-minded friends would act in character when we hung out.
What It Come Down To Is…
… Gaming changed my life. It changed who I would have become if I was never introduced to this world. No words I could ever say would describe how vital video-games were and are to me. Frankly, the person I might have become might have been terrifying because of the different friends I would have surrounded myself with.
For those who agree with the politicians and activists that wish to eradicate gaming from society, please take heed to these words. To take things a step further, the gaming community saved me from breakdowns, freak outs, or worse. It was therapy. When my home was torn apart (as many homes are), I could escape somewhere else instead of covering my ears with a pillow. I made some of the best friends anyone could ever ask for.
To sum it up, video-games literally saved my life.
Everyone has a favorite teacher; that dedicated, funny, sympathetic role model who helped shape your formative years and provided comfort from the often callous and vicious world of school angst and the pitfalls of growing up. Think about that person for a moment, and what made them great. Picture them in your mind, hear the memory of their voice in your ears. Got a clear image of them? Good.
I bet your mental image looks nothing like this:
This man is Eikichi Onizuka, age 22, virgin, and for a class full of misfits and “social rejects,” he was that favorite teacher, the man who challenged and taught them all about the “real world.” How? By just being himself, and teaching them how NOT to act.
Great Teacher Onizuka was one of those “unlikely anime,” the type that is completely devoid of fantastic elements, lolicons, twenty minute power-ups and skimpy clothing, but still manages to pull the viewer in and keep them interested. Rather than deal with otherworldly enemies threatening human existence, it focused more on the trials and tribulations of being a high school student, which at times could be just as chaotic, and just as terrifying. It lacked “good guys” and “villains,” eschewing instead for a whole lot of gray-shaded cast members who were as petty as they were devoted to their jobs. In short, GTO (as it was so fondly referred to) was a sort of “dirty shonen” slice of life series, more concerned with its world and residents than impressing its reader base.
And that was not a bad thing at all.
A lot of that appeal centered around the aforementioned Onizuka, himself a social misfit more concerned with sex and violence than educating the youth of Japan. A former biker gang leader, he somehow managed to leave the “thug life” behind, enroll in a “5th rate college” and graduate with a degree in…something. You never really find out how studious he was, nor where his “academic” inclinations actually lie, given his preoccupation with porn, fighting and “keeping it real.” But next thing you see, he’s trying to find gainful employment, and failing miserably. Blame his bleached hair, his “yakuza tendencies” or the constant mountain of arrogance that he’s the proud king of, but poor Onizuka can’t seem to catch a break.
All that changes the day he meets, then loses, the “girl of his dreams:” a spunky high school student whom the future Great Teacher is absolutely positive he will finally lose his virginity to. And just as they’re about to do the deed, she literally jumps out a window and into the arms of another man. Who does he lose this wellspring of sexual energy to? Her high school teacher, a dumpy, bespectacled man with a sour face and apparently all the pull in the world. On that day, he swears to become the best teacher in Japan. Why? To get laid.
Let’s put aside the blatantly horrendous motivation for this decision, and focus on Onizuka for a moment. What does he have to offer his students? Forget about the three “R’s,” as Onizuka can barely read himself. Valuable lessons on life? Does one really want to accept the words of a “reformed” biker and generally viewed “lowlife?” Common sense? Not at all, since he’s doing this for the worst reason possible. For all intents and purposes, this man should never be anywhere near children, let alone given the task of teaching them. And yet, that’s exactly what he does.
Finally scoring a job at a prestigious private academy, Onizuka is immediately given the worst class in the school, made up of people either just like him, or well on their way to becoming just like him. Wannabe gang-bangers, unmotivated geniuses, promiscuous girls, awkward kids, and all manner of students who just don’t fit in. These are the students destined to fall through the cracks of the educational system, that the rest of the faculty have given up on, but can’t simply expel because their tuition checks have already been deposited. So, shunted off to the side and ignored, they plod through one ineffective teacher after another, until Eikichi ends up at their door one day, the latest in a long line of schmucks suckered into teaching the class. The “Great Teacher” brings in bluster in the door with him, trailing arrogance like a proud bridal train, ready to talk some “sense” into these students. How do they take to this new teacher, so completely “different” from any they have ever encountered before?
As far as they’re concerned, Onizuka isn’t any different from the others, except maybe that he’s dumber than any one of them, and starving for respect and attention. And they hate him.
Why? Because they can see right through him. They know he’s not a teacher. They know he only cares about having fun. From his “tough guy” facade to his horrible sense of humor, this is a man worthy of only their contempt, which they heap on him in droves. hell, the only reason he’s even in this class is because they’ve driven off every single other teacher assigned to them, and the administrators hope that they will do the same to Onizuka.
Until he starts saving them, one student at a time. Whether it’s giving them a reason to live, putting their problems into perspective, telling them to get over themselves (often with associated punches, kicks and getting his own ass handed to him), helping them get “revenge” on those who wronged them, teaching them to stand up for themselves or just not take any s**t from “the man,” the Great Teacher imparts whatever wisdom and street smarts he can, while often taking lumps and plenty of attitude along the way. It’s like the School of Hard Knocks, 90210-style.
His tenacity eventually overcomes even the most stubborn (or stuck up) of the students he encounters, and by year’s end, he manages to reform the worst class at the academy into something resembling a productive learning unit, while teaching even some of his “colleagues” the value of knowing themselves…or at least giving them lessons in self-extracting their heads from their own asses. A little humility goes a long way, and while Onizuka might not know the meaning of the word, he sure can impart its value on others.
That tenacity is the key to GTO’s appeal. Knowing from the outset that Eikichi Onizuka is an “eternal f**k-up who just doesn’t give a s**t” lends him a certain humanity that drives the story. You know he’s going to fail, yet you cheer for him anyway. When he occasionally succeeds, you celebrate with him. When he gets caught with his pants down (literally, on more than a few occasions), you feel for him, but also realize that it’s only going to make him more careful in the future. His crass manners have a certain charm to them, you root for him to find the “right girl,” and when he finally gets the better of his naysayers, you want to clap him on the back and buy him a drink.
Onizuka is the ultimate underdog. And like most underdogs, you want to see him win, regardless of whether its against “corrupt” educators, “conniving” students, or even his own shortcomings. You want Eikichi Onizuka to win. And I guess in that regard, he already has.
Gratuitous shot of…well, everything.
You can consumer GTO in a number of ways: the 1997-2002 manga, while out of print, is excellent. The 1999 anime is a faithful adaptation of the manga, and easier to track down. The 1998 J-Drama (with 99 sequel film) is a bit short on the plot, but the actor who plays Onizuka is phenomenal. Or you can look for the 2012 reboot. Honestly, it doesn’t matter: any version of GTO is worth consuming. Honestly, how many properties can say that these days? There is also a prequel manga “GTO: The Early Years,” and sequel”14 Days in Shonan,” both available now from Vertical Publishing.
It’s a time in which it has slowly gained more recognition, depending less on the 3D it marketed with, and focusing more on the games, that as most of us know, is the main focus AND the selling point of any system. Because some may not know this, but it had an abysmal start. A trend that other gaming devices followed, not learning from the mistake this particular handheld committed.
But we are not here to compare these systems, instead, I’d like to talk about what Nintendo did to dig themselves out of the hole they had sunk themselves into. It was an easy thing to do (albeit a somewhat risky decision) they lowered the price of the 3DS, allowing many to grab the system and increasing sales for an actual profit. But as it turns out, there was a small detail they hadn’t taken into account.
Only 4 months had passed since its original release, and of course, earlier adopters were furious.
So Nintendo did something odd; they announced something called the “Ambassadors Program” a sort of way to appease to those fans they had enraged by doing something so unexpected by, well, responding with something just as unexpected by giving the loyal fans free games.
20 games were given to these “ambassadors”, 10 NES games with titles such as the original Super Mario Bros and The Legend of Zelda were part of that deal, but that’s not the focus here, since most fans were looking forward to the other 10 of the bunch: The Game Boy Advance titles.
This will be a weekly article, reviewing those games released for the system, that ideally, play like their original GBA counterparts. This will also be encouraging you, the readers, to perhaps find them and give them a chance if you can.
In any case, I will start today with my favorite game of the bunch – The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap.
Originally released for the GBA back in 2005, Minish Cap was the last title in the series to use the over the top perspective it had been known for, and unlike previous Zelda titles, it did not get the publicity it deserved, thanks to the Nintendo DS taking it away, since the system had just been released at the time. But 7 years later, thanks to the power of downloadable content, many of us were able to relive, or in the case of many, enjoy for the first time, this Zelda adventure.
The story starts with Princess Zelda visiting Link at his home, where she asks him to go with her to the Picori festival, an event that is celebrated every 100 years in the land of Hyrule. You spend the time hanging out with Zelda in the festival, looking around some knickknacks here and there, until you finally get your shield.
After the festival draws to an end, and a tournament (that happened off screen) winner has been declared, a ceremony is held for the winner, who is given the privilege to touch the Picori Sword as a special price, this is a sword that rests upon a tomb of sorts. But as it turns out, the winner is actually an evil mage by the name of Vaati, who opens the tomb, releasing monsters into the world, and then proceeds to turn Zelda into stone, defeating our hero while he is at it.
The Zelda story is slightly different, but the good ol’ Zelda staple remains: save the princess, save the world.
The game controls as well as any other Zelda title in the veil of Link to the Past, you move with the control pad, you assign items to buttons A and B, as well as having a roll with R to increase your speed and to dodge attacks faster, kind of like in Ocarina of Time.
But there is yet another element included in this title, and that is the Minish Cap (you know? The one from the title) and is a pivotal item of the game. On your way to the first dungeon, you find a lone talking hat being attacked by a pair of Octoroks, after saving it, it joins you (by riding Link‘s head and giving him his iconic green hat), and gives you the special ability to shrink down in size by stepping in special stumps.
This ability alone adds a clever integration of puzzles on dungeons, or even in the world itself. Being able to go through small holes in houses and finding small creatures called Picori (the same from the festival), or even activate a switch from another room, an entrance that the normal sized Link would never be able to get into, this alone creates a new way to navigate the temples.
As always, there are items, like the usual Boomerang, to Bow and Arrows, and of course, to newer items such as the Gust Jar, an item which you get in the first dungeon that allows you to absorb dust, shells from enemies, or even travel in lily pads One thing I like about the items in this game, is that they are used outside of the dungeons they came from and are actually useful in getting to different areas, unlike other games in the series where once they are used in the dungeon, and then they are useless pretty much everywhere else… I’m looking at you Twilight Princess and Spinner.
On the graphical side, this game brings the art style of the Wind Waker to the portable system, and it fits the game well, creating colorful environments, and even giving the enemies and NPCs a certain charm of their own.
The music isn’t necessarily memorable as it just is… There. Outside the classic Zelda overworld theme, a few tracks come to mind in terms of how memorable they are. It’s not the best Zelda music, but it has its moments.
As all Zelda titles, this game has some good replay value, whether it’s getting the usual pieces of heart, or getting Kinstone pieces, which are gems to fuse with NPC characters, affecting the world somehow, whether it is opening a secret cave, or paving the way to a piece of heart. You can also spend your time looking for the Tiger Scrolls, which allow you to do more advanced combat techniques. And lastly, the figurine collection minigame, in which you use shells and bet them to get new figurines that give some small backstory and details about the characters in the game. So as you can see, there are a few things that will keep you occupied even after the game is done
Another thing I’d like to add, is that this game was developed not by Nintendo, but by Capcom, and I must say they did a fantastic job with it. I hope they work on at least another title in the series.
Now, while this game is great, it has its small share of flaws, or must I say nitpicks from my part. There are only 5 dungeons in the game plus the final dungeon, making it a bit shorter than others, not to mention its difficulty. I was not particularly confused on any of its puzzles, and heck, I did not die even once when fighting against enemies… UNLESS you count the time I attacked a cucco, it’s sort of sad that they are the most threatening enemy in the entire game.
Overall, this game is fun, and while it may be an easy game, it is a pleasure to play, not to mention that it is accessible to newcomers thanks to said difficulty. But if you are one who has not liked Zelda and its previous releases such as Link to the Past or Link’s Awakening, this won’t appeal to you. Still, I say you are missing something good here.