Tag Archives: Console Madness

Protect your Knee

Every year in December and January, I come out of hibernation long enough to get inspired to work on the web page.A� Usually, that only lasts until February when I start back to school and everything falls into a state of disrepair for a few months.A� I am not the type to do resolutions, but this year I hope to power though those months of inactivity and instead make the page what I always hoped it would be.

As part of that plan, I’m going to start playing Skyrim and Fallout 3 again.A� That, too, is tradition.A� However, this year definitely feels different.A� I have, so far, avoided the post holiday “blues”.A� In the past, that is one of the things that has kept me from contributing to the page on a regular basis.A� If I can just keep that momentum going, things will be good around here.

My father believed firmly in the power of positive thinking. He also lived by the credo, “It’s a good day to die.” Time to start living up to his standards.

I started my trip back into Bethesda fantasy RPG this time with Skyrim.A� At first, my XBox 360 door did not cooperate and I was afraid that this plan might be dead in the water.A� However, through persistence (and a little bit of muscle, a steak knife, and a lot of swearing), I got the game up and running.A� What better way to start this adventure that with a quest!

Once I loaded the game and continued from my last save state, I texted Kevin to laugh that starting back with these games after months off was always an experience (pun not intended).A� He replied that it always took him about a half an hour to get acquainted again with the story, his character, items, etc.A� That’s about how long it took me.

Pardon the language, but this is exactly how I felt.

It didn’t help that apparently I saved the game in the sewers and the color scheme was nearly monochromatic.A� That alone made me almost quit the game and restart.A� On top of that, the reason I was in the sewer was that I was on the Thieves Guild quests.A� I had to collect three debts from people.A� It took me at least 3 failed tries of killing the first person and being put in jail before I considered restarting again.

I didn’t restart.A� I got smart.A� A�In all honesty, I stumbled on quest completion by accident.A� Instead of pulling out my mace and bludgeoning her to death and then having to beat the rest of the town to death, too, before either dying or ending up in jail, I simply punched her until she submitted.A� Not necessarily good, but at least it finally advanced the story.

All’s fair in love and Skyrim.

What are the chances that I continue playing to beat that story?A� That’s been my goal for the six years that I’ve owned the game.A� I can honestly say that after this latest play session, I don’t know.A� That’s unusual for me.A� I’m usually a big fan of the D&D style fantasy.

We slept in the living room last night as a family and we plan on it again tonight, so I played some Hearthstone and Minecraft on the computer.A� Therefore, I didn’t get a chance to play last night to see if I could find that hook.A� That’s the main problem.A� I’m just not that interested in the main story.A� When I played the other day, I completed the quest to be inducted into the Thieves Guild and I was so excited that I completely zoned out on the conversation that led into the follow up quest.

That’s not an isolated incident.A� When I first got the game, I played it for 50 hours over two weeks.A� I was unemployed and had a young child who napped daily back then.A� How did I play 50 hours and only make it to the Thieves Guild quests?A� A majority of that time was not spent questing.A� Mainly, I roamed the countryside looking for butterfly wings and flowers to increase my alchemy skill.

Skyrim can save its damn self.

I took stock of what my life had become and didn’t like it one bit.A� So, I put the game to the side for the first time.A� As I wrote, I’ve since given it a few more chances.A� Here I am giving it one more.A� One last?

What keeps me coming back?A� Obviously, I don’t have to like the game.A� Sure, it is almost universally considered to be one of the best games, both in the series and overall.A� It’s not like I’m ever shy about going against conventional wisdom.A� It’s clearly not a “keeping up with the Joneses”.

I think that it just goes back to what I wrote earlier.A� I’m usually a fan of any type of fantasy setting and I’m a fan of RPGs.A� I suppose that I just have to face facts and realize that if I’m going to beat this game, I may just have to power through the story that I don’t like very much.A� It’s either that or hope that some aspect (besides chasing butterflies) of the story finally hooks and speaks to me.A� As it stands right now, I’d much rather play the apocalyptic future version of the game in Fallout 3.A� Maybe I will just do that and try again with this game once I’ve finished Fallout.

After all, it’s looking more and more like Fallout might be a instruction manual for the near future.

Noob’s History with Zelda

(Editor’s Note: A�We did several of these last year with Mario. A�However, while we dedicated an entire month to Mario, we’re only giving Zelda a single article.)

Only one article for Zelda, perhaps one of the most iconic video game franchises ever? A�Look, this isn’t meant to insult Link and company. A�I simply don’t have as extensive a history with Zelda. A�Unlike Mario, which has gameplay simple enough that they made it into a mobile game, Zelda requires much more of a time commitment. A�I’m no longer at a point in my life when I can devote weeks of my life playing a game for hours a day.

Oh, Skyrim. You were there for me when I was an unemployed stay at home day. Now that I’m working, I let you sit on the shelf and collect dust. Oh, cruel fates for us both.

I remember certain things vividly from childhood. A�While that probably isn’t abnormal, some of my formative memories are strange. A�For instance, I remember one Christmas trip to my maternal grandmother’s house. A�Well, who wouldn’t want to remember holidays with family? A�It’s not that. A�Keep reading. A�Overall, these trips weren’t terribly memorable. A�Most of them, along with similar trips to visit my father’s family, are part of that amalgam of “holiday” memories that occupy space and occasionally bubble up into my consciousness. A�Not this memory, though.

So, what’s so special about this Christmas trip and what does it have to do with Zelda? A�Stick with me just a bit more. A�I promise a pay off soon. A�This isn’t just therapy time with Noob. A�During this visit, I did what I often do during a big get together. A�I searched for a quiet place to recharge. A�That search led me to a room with a Nintendo (original NES) and I think a projector and pull down movie screen. A�I may be making up that last part. A�Either way, the game being played was the original Legend of Zelda.

I only know this screen from memes. Just another in my long line of nerd shame.

This nerd shame stems from the fact that, unlike Mario, I never actually played the NES Zelda game. A�The first one that I played was the SNES classic “A Link to the Past”. A�That’s when my actual “lifelong” obsession with The Legend of Zelda began. A�The graphics are the SNES sprite based of my childhood. A�The story rivaled that of Final Fantasy III, one of my favorites from that system. A�I was hooked.

While I loved that game, it isn’t my favorite in the series. A�That honor goes to Ocarina of Time. A�I know that many people say that its sister N64 title, Majora’s Mask, is the superior title. A�However, I’ve never played that one. A�I know what you’re thinking. A�How can you have a comprehensive history without one of the best games? A�Well, first I never promised the complete history. A�Just my history.

And, I’ve never been much of a historian.

Similar to the Mario title for the N64, it took everything great about the game and added a third dimension. A�You had to worry about depth and height when fighting against bosses. A�Dungeons, a multilayered affair in previous games, now gave the developer free reign and they took full advantage. A�Also considered one of the most frustrating levels, the water temple is one of the most unique and innovative designs ever.

By not only giving your character the ability to swim, but also making it integral to the level design, Ocarina of Time achieved full 3D motion and showcased what the big deal was about 3D gaming. A�I think I’ve made this point before, but it bears repeating. A�Even though 3D is the obvious current standard in video games now, there was a time when people argued against it. A�One of their main arguments was that the camera angle and controls would go wonky every now and then. A�Unfortunately, they usually had a point with N64 games.

After revolutionizing video games with the game pad, Nintendo started down the path of crazy controls with that console.

I’m pretty sure that I never beat that game. A�I can’t say for certain because it was a while ago, but that was during a time in my life when I worked a ton, so it probably never got finished. A�As an aside, now that I think about it, there’s not been a time in my life since I started working that I haven’t worked a bunch. A�Okay, not exactly relevant. A�Just had to get that off my chest.

The fact that I didn’t finish the game is not that big of a tragedy, either. A�With the power of computers now at the level to allow for reliable N64 emulation, I can play the game any time that I want. A�And, now, just writing about it, I actually want to play the game again. A�Heck, I even have my USB N64 controllers! A�Okay, I know what I’m doing over the next few days.

I can say that I’m going to do a video comparing the two and then not actually do the video.

My last stop on the Zelda train was Wind Waker. A�No, I didn’t hate the game so much that I stopped playing them. A�I know that the graphics were a huge controversy at the time, but I loved them. A�I enjoy that Nintendo sometimes takes big risks with the title because familiarity can breed contempt. A�I’m also glad that they didn’t make those graphics the standard because I’m enjoying the more realistic graphics of Twilight Princess and Breath of the Wild as their systems get more powerful. A�However for Wind Waker, the graphics fit in with the theme of the game perfectly.

Even though I never played Twilight Princess or Breath of the Wild, I’ve been keeping up with the series through those games. A�Being a Nintenerd, I really want the Switch, but couldn’t justify the price tag right now. A�However, they have announced a new 2D Street Fighter game for it. A�Along with Breath of the Wild, a new Mario game, and the possibility of a new Metroid game, I suppose it is only a matter of time before I end up getting one.

Here Comes the Sun…Again?

(Editor’s Note: A�Remember when I said that the tutorial for Pokemon Sun and Moon was long? A�Well, it turns out that it was even longer than that! A�In fact, almost a month later, I’m still learning how ride that darn bike!)

Okay, so the last part of that note is included for humorous effect. A�These games don’t even have a bike as far as I know, but you can ride a Tauros and that’s way cooler! A�But, the tutorial of the game goes on forever. A�Thankfully, it integrates seamlessly into gameplay, so it isn’t nearly as tedious as many games make their tutorials. A�Granted, I’m an old man gamer who doesn’t even think that there should be a tutorial mode or, at the very least, it should be voluntary. A�You dang whipper snappers should read the instructions. A�Either that, or man mode the game. A�If you die because you didn’t know about a certain mechanic, you die. A�Learn from your mistakes or suffer the consequences.

If you think that’s harsh,A�all I can say is that we believe in sink or swim. A�And all of our kids (that survived) can swim.

But, we live in a time when tutorials are a mandatory part of the game. A�So, in true old guy gamer fashion, I’m going to complain about the younger generation not being able to adapt to changing circumstances while I exhibit the same tendency myself. A�When I was your age, we didn’t need tutorials to introduce us to the mechanics of games. A�Sure, you might argue that when I was your age, we only had a single joystick and button configuration, so it wasn’t like games offered that much in the way of mechanics. A�Hell, Grandpa, you could say, Pac-Man didn’t even use the button or any diagonal motion in its moves set.

Okay, now that I’m done arguing with myself, I can continue my review of Poemon Sun. A�Admittedly, I haven’t had as much time to play it recently because Quinn discovered it. A�Similar to his older brother, he stole it from me and played through a significant portion. A�However, that happened after I was able to play through the first two trials. A�He got me pretty far into the island with the volcano trial. A�In fact, he got me so far that I was disoriented when I picked up the game and started playing again.

Let’s be honest, though. A�It’s not like Pokemon gameplay is that involved, either. A�Once the initial shock of waking up miles from where you fell asleep wears off, you go back to walking in such a way that yo avoid any contact with other people because your social anxiety extends even into fiction worlds. A�Oh, is that just me?

No, Preschooler Ella, I don’t want to hear about how cute your Buneary is before burying that Pokemon in a shallow grave right before your eyes.

When Quinn wasn’t playing and doing whatever it is that five year old boys do…okay, and let’s unpack that statement a little bit before I continue. A�We converted what might have been attic space into a playroom for the kids. A�We carpeted it, painted it twice (once because Aiden wanted to use it as a bedroom), and bought an absurd amount of packing crates and shelving units to ensure that things remained in their place. A�All noble endeavors, right?

Well, the carpet is covered with all manner of dried paint and Playdoh, the paint job is chipped right down to the primer in several places, and the crates and shelves remain empty even as Lego pieces, Pokemon cards, Minecraft mini figures, and my various loot items from all sorts of loot crate type subscription boxes litter the floor and make travel through the room dangerous at best and quite often nearly fatal. A�So, what exactly is it that 5 year olds do? A�I’m not entirely sure. A�But, it would seem that everything that they do results in chaos and misery for everyone else involved.

Sure they look cute and all, but isn’t that exactly how the devil himself would attempt to initiate contact.

Luckily, Quinn’s adventures in my Sun game weren’t quite so destructive. A�Unlike real life, he understands and appreciates just how important Pokemon can be to a person, so I don’t think he wanted to upset the apple cart too much. A�A�In fact, he actually helped quite a bit and got me several new Pokemon, advanced the story almost to the point where I can attempt the next trial, and generally treated my digital life with the utmost respect.

When I finally got the game back from him and was able to play more than he was, I got back into the groove of the game. A�At the risk of sounding like a broken record or a shill, or a shill that was recorded on a broken record, I really enjoy the game. A�I mean, this shouldn’t come as a shock because I’ve been a fan of the Pokemon series since the beginning, but I haven’t played a Pokemon game seriously since Diamond. A�I’ve wanted to pick up a few that Liam got, but I didn’t want to delete his only save file.

I mean, seriously, Nintendo and Game Freak. How hard is it to add just one more save slot to these games? What am I supposed to do while I’m waiting for this technology to be available? *see above*

So, I honestly couldn’t say going in that I was going to enjoy the game. A�I can now definitively say that Pokemon is still a fun game series even if you’re 40 years old. A�I got a taste of that when Pokemon Go released, but like many mobile games these days, they knew that they could release an unfinished product and get millions of free beta testers as they worked on things behind the scenes. A�I’m not sure who to blame ultimately for this development, but I know that Blizzard has done this sort of thing for years and took it to a new level with Hearthstone. A�I honestly don’t think they do any in house testing on that game.

Unnecessary and completely unrelated Hearthstone insult. Excellent! *air guitar solo*

However, while Pokemon Go was undeniably unfinished at release, Nintendo and Game Freak have had a 2 decade track record with the Pokemon franchise on their mobile consoles. A�It shows. A�While the basic gameplay hasn’t changed, they have done some quality of life improvements that aren’t big, but they add to the game and keep you coming back for more. A�Also, the story and setting are different enough and engaging enough that you want to keep playing to advance that aspect of the game. A�Overall, I’ve been enjoying the game. A�It has accomplished several goals of getting me back into the Pokemon world and even considering buying some of the Sun and Moon cards to see what the game adds to that aspect of the world.

What I Did on My Summer Vacation (Part 2 – Console)

(Editor’s Note: A�Anyone else want to share? A�Oh, Noob, you’re not finished yet? A�Well, aren’t you the little chatterbox. A�Please, continue.)

I have played slightly more of a variety on console. A�Chris picked up a PS4 a couple of months ago and we played some MK and call of Duty on that. A�I enjoyed the latest MK and even had fun shooting at Chris and his stupid bot teammates. A�It actually made me consider getting one for myself, but then I remembered that it is summer and I only make enough to pay bills and go on five vacations. A�I know, I know. A�Feel sorry for me. A�If you feel badly A�enough, I can open a Kickstarter.

I have played a lot on the Wii U. A�While the boys and I haven’t continued our adventures in New Super Mario Bros. U, we did finally get a chance to rent Pokken Tournament. A�Unlike Pokemon Go, which feels like an extremely polished beta and fell slightly short of expectations, Pokken Tournament is everything I had hoped it woudl be and maybe even more.

That’s saying something. Pokken Tournament was one of my most anticipated games of the year. Under normal circumstances, a Pokemon fighting game would not excite me so much. A�I’ve seen too many of these offshoot type games come and go to know that the only reason they get any attention at all is because of the brand name. A�Nintendo, especially, is famous for green lighting extremely questionable games for their properties.

Remember Pokemon Dash? Of course you don---oh, you do? Well, then, I'm sorry. I'm very, very sorry.
Remember Pokemon Dash? Of course you don—oh, you do? Well, then, I’m sorry. I’m very, very sorry.

This is not one of those games by any stretch of the imagination. A�Instead of keeping the development of the game in house, they partnered with the makers of Tekken. A�Granted, the aforementioned Pokemon Dash was the result of collaboration with an outside company. A�However, there is a big difference between Namco and whatever out of business company produced that abortion of a game.

Oh, and before you accuse me of a love in with Namco and Tekken, I need to assert that Tekken is not even my favorite game in the technical fighting genre(?) A�Is that even a thing? A�Or, did I just make it up? A�I don’t know. A�It sounds like a thing. A�Let’s treat it like a thing because it makes the next paragraph that much easier to write and I don’t have to go into a long back story. A�Even though we all know that’s what I love and I pretend that you all love it, too, in an attempt to convince myself that it’s all worth it.

So, in what may be a first, a short explanation. A�Once upon a time, there were two polygonal fighters that revolved more around actual fighting strategy than throwing balls of fire at the opponent. A�One, of course, was Tekken. A�The other was Virtua Fighter. I don’t know if the games were meant to be direct competition to one another. A�But, that’s what we do as gamers. A�We bring competition where there should be none. A�After all, look at the Hearthstone phenomenon. Bazinga!

Oh, you've spent the entire game playing strategically and following a carefully crafted gameplan? Here, let me cast a bunch of completely random spells that invalidates all of that and reduces the game to a series of dice rolls and coin flips. Hmm, well played.
Oh, you’ve spent the entire game playing strategically and following a carefully crafted gameplan? Here, let me cast a bunch of completely random spells that invalidates all of that and reduces the game to a series of dice rolls and coin flips. Hmm, well played.

Well, in the great technical fighting game battles of the 1990s, I was firmly in the corner of Virtua Fighter. A�In fact, Virtua Fighter 2 is probably one of my top 10 games of all time. A�I say probably, because I haven’t actually ever extended my list officially to 10, but off the top of my head I can’t think of 5 other games that I like better. A�Hopefully that establishes my credentials as a non fanboy of Tekken. A�With all of that being said, Namco does make a decent fighting game and they did a heck of a job with Pokken.

They could have just made all of the Pokemon play the exact same and just give them different voices and one or two attacks that fans would recognize. A�They didn’t. A�All of the Pokemon play as different fighters with different strategies. A�This adds a variety and replayability because you want to try to master all of the different styles. A�The game also makes use of the buddy feature common to many fighting games where you pick a companion Pokemon to fight alongside your main character. A�Overall, a great game and I can’t wait to play it more and have a more detailed review in November when the boys and I cover the game for Pokemon month.

Pikachu, I choose you! ...to beat the crap out of other Pokemon!

Pikachu, I choose you! …to beat the crap out of other Pokemon!

Aside from my introduction to Pokken, I have actually been catching up (slowly but surely) on my XBox 360 list. A�I have advanced quite far in the story on both Fallout 3 and Skyrim. A�I haven’t even been using a walkthrough for Skyrim. A�Those who know me and have read my articles know that is quite the achievement for such an open world game. A�I still get distracted by the carrot on a stick side quests, but I’m moving right along. A�At this pace, I should be done with the main questline right about the time that they release the remake on the XBox One 360 Redux Master edition in 10 years.

Finally, of course, I played some Portal 2. A�The play through was nothing short of amazing and the game is still special to me. A�This time was more special, though, because they boys joined me for the journey. A�Both Liam and Aiden were able to get a kick out of the humor and Quinn was blown away by the sometimes twisted physics of the portal gun. A�I started an article about why I’m so attached to this game that I will play it time after time over other games that I haven’t yet finished. A�Maybe I will post it when I’m suffering one of my legendary bouts of writer’s block.

Well, that’s about it for my console summer. A�I still have two other articles to write about mobile games (where I’ve spent most of my time in the Digital Playground) and tabletop escapades. A�I haven’t done as much On the Tabletop, but I have gotten back into Magic and started to put together my Hordes armies, so there will be plenty of pictures. A�Until then, keep on gaming!

Still Plumbing After All These Years

(Editor’s Note: A�In anticipation of–finally and yes, really!–the triumphant return of the Noob and Sons podcast, we celebrate our final Mario Monday, in true 2 Guys Gaming fashion, on a Tuesday. A�Hey, we finally talk about Luigi in this article, so we call it a Two for Tuesday.)

Yes, Luigi, you finally get your day in the sun. I couldn't, with good conscience, continue to ignore you in favor of your brother. People were starting to get worried that you might hurt yourself.
Yes, Luigi, you finally get your day in the sun. I couldn’t, with good conscience, continue to ignore you in favor of your brother. People were starting to get worried that you might hurt yourself.

Well, we’ve gone from the beginning, through the spinoffs, and landed safely in a new dimension. A�Our travels take us finally into the current–though with us that always means not so current–generation of Mario and Luigi games. A�We will focus most on Wii U, but I do want to touch on (pun intended) a DS game with Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon and continue to analyze the DS versions when discussing the other titles.

I think that we can forgo the facade that we are doing this for any reason other than to play games. A�There will still be analysis of each game, but the page is called 2 Guys Gaming. A�We need to be true to the name and spirit of the page.

Luigi's_Mansion_Dark_Moon_(Boxart)

We start with a Luigi game finally. A�Sure, he’s been in some of the other games we’ve covered, but this one is all him. A�We already talked about this one in the first (and only released so far) episode of the Noob and Sons podcast. A�I think I also wrote a companion article back then, too.

I stopped playing the game when I got stuck on the clock part where you have to defeat 12 (or maybe more) consecutive waves of ghosts. A�I really need to go back to finish the game. A�Life is just too short to deal with frustrating games. A�I uninstalled Hearthstone from my phone for that same reason. A�Even so, LMDM is a fun game, so I need to endure the frustration for the time that it takes to beat that part. A�Liam assures me that it is the hardest part of the game and the rest of the game should go without a problem.

I certainly hope so. A�In addition to al of the bargain bin games that I have sitting in the closet and my Steam library unplayed, I also have an ever increasing number of unfinished games. A�I need to start checking those games off so that I can attempt to get value out of the games that I haven’t even opened yet.

Super_Smash_Bros_for_Wii_U_Box_Art

To continue with the theme of spinoff games before getting to the discussion of how Nintendo has kept the gameplay of run and jump fresh for decades, we will talk about the Super Smash Bros series next. A�I knew of the games, but I’d never played them before last year. A�Then, Santa brought a Wii U with the game included and I really had no choice. A�I suppose that it could have gone in the “never been played” pile. A�Heck, so many other games are there and it grows by the day.

The boys made sure that wouldn’t happen by asking me to play the game with them. A�It is impossible to say no to your children when they ask to share something that you are passionate about. A�So, we played a couple of games, but it isn’t a game that excites me. A�That’s a little strange, because I like all of the characters in the game and I enjoy fighting games, but it’s not two great tastes that taste great together for me.

There’s obviously something to the game. A�They wouldn’t keep making them and people wouldn’t keep playing them if there wasn’t. A�Having seen streams of the game, I suspect that it is a competitive scene similar to Hearthstone. A�People watch players who are very good at the game and play it only to discover that they aren’t as good at the game.

Super_Mario_Maker_Artwork

I’ve also written about this game at least once previously, maybe twice. A�What makes this game unique among the games on this list is that I’ve never played it. A�Unlike other games that I haven’t played, it isn’t time nor a lack of interest that has kept me off of this one. A�In fact, of all of the new Mario games that have been released over the last 10 to 15 years, this is the one that has me most excited.

Some of my favorite games have utilized some form of creative content. A�One of the first games that really hooked me to an extent that I wanted to play it to the “end”, DOOM, allowed players to mod the game and even build new levels. A�Heck, at least one of those mods became a new game series in HEXEN and its sequel. A�More recently, I purchased the PC version of Minecraft because the boys told me that there are mods available for the game. A�Some of them do the same thing that they did for DOOM and change the game in fundamental ways. A�More on that in a few months when we talk about Minecraft on the podcast.

I don’t think that Mario Maker allows you to fundamentally change the game. A�Nevertheless, giving players that power over the history of the Mario franchise opens up so many possibilities. A�Granted, this assessment is made from total ignorance because I haven’t even watched videos of the game in action, so when I finally do get to play it, I will be completely spoiler free. A�Hopefully that happens soon as I ordered the game from Gamefly but then the game I sent back seems to have gotten lost in transit.

nsmbu

I often make the statement that all Nintendo has to do is release a new Mario, a new Zelda, and a new Metroid and I will buy the system. A�Really, though, all they have to do is release a new Mario game and I will get the system. A�The other two games are just icing on the cake. A�Mmm, cake. A�I’ll be right back.

Well, there’s no cake in the house and I’m too lazy to go to the store to buy some. A�So, back to the discussion of the game. A�After showing everyone how A�to make a proper 3D game with Mario 64, Sunshine, and Galaxy, Nintendo has gone back to what made Mario popular in the first place. A�2D sidescroller games with the option to play 4 players. A�The boys and I have played through the first few levels in the game and I can say, without question, that it is as much fun as it was all those years ago. A�Heck, it might be even more fun because I get to share it with my kids now.

The Mario character is 35 years old this summer. A�He has outlived Atari, Sega as a console maker and his primary nemesis Sonic the Hedgehog, and shows no signs of slowing down. A�Just when you think that Nintendo can’t possibly get more from such a simple idea, they surprise you. A�Other than the 3D games, the franchise has never undergone a major redesign and, still, it remains fresher and more fun than A�at least half of the franchises out there today. A�Can’t wait to see what they have in store for us in the years to come.

A New Dimension

(Editor’s Note: A�We have two Mario Mondays that we’re celebrating this week to make up for last week’s miss due to the holiday and school vacation. A�Isn’t that crazy?! A�Well, to make it even more crazy, we’re celebrating this first Mario Monday on what should be Wario Wednesday!)

As “processing power” (whatever the hell that is) increased, programmers took advantage of that increase by pushing games into the third dimension. A�As with most change, even those int he name of improvement, the journey into 3D was met with mixed response. A�While most gamers today will argue that 3D gaming as the standard is a good thing because it provides for so many possibilities and a wider variety of games, at the time older gamers were unsure about the change.

I mean, I understand some of the consternation. A�We went from talking about number of bits and colors to number of polygons and real time physics. A�DoA and the beach volleyball game introduced even another type of physics, but I will leave it to you to Google that one as it is slightly NSFW. A�No matter the controversy at the time, 3D was here to stay.

Or, just take a look at the cover of the game.  Think about it...only for a second.  Don't overthink it.  Yep, you got it.  Now, feel free to Google your brains out.
Or, just take a look at the cover of the game. Think about it…only for a second. Don’t overthink it. Yep, you got it. Now, feel free to Google your brains out.

In keeping with the theme of Mario Monday (on Wario Wednesday and a week late!), we will explore how adding this 3rd dimension affected Mario games. A�Maybe we can talk about what 3D Mario does better than 2D. A�Perhaps we will discuss if, and how, the 3D could have been done differently or better. A�Mostly, in keeping with our other tradition of the month, we will simply use it as an excuse to play some great older games.

Super Mario 3D Land/World
Super Mario 3D Land/World

More recent (not the most recent, as I will discuss them more in the next article) Mario games have taken what was great about the early games and brought them into the third dimension. A�Unlike the other games I cover in this article, these games aren’t complete reworks of the mechanics of Mario.

Instead, they imagine how the old school Mario platformers might play if you were able to turn into the screen instead of just traveling left and right. A�You have full 3D range of motion, but are still restricted to a mostly linear path. A�The result is an interesting and unique experience unlike anything offered in most other Mario games.

The Verdict: A�A unique Mario experience, but I’ve seen 3D platforming done better in other titles.

Super Mario Galaxy
Super Mario Galaxy

A friend texted the other day to sing the praises of this game. A�It, along with the sequel, are the last two games that present Mario in a completely 3D pseudo sandbox game. A�Galaxy does give full range of movement, but it is not as immersive of a world as GTA or Red Dead Redemption.

I don’t expect Mario to follow directly in their footsteps. A�I don’t even know how such a game might work. A�Part of Mario’s charm is the limited levels that provide immediate gratification when you complete them. A�So, I’m glad that they kept that part of the games intact. A�With that being said, the Galaxy games do more with 3 dimensions than any game.

The worlds are contained on spheres and you travel from one to the next in x, y, and z (for you no math people, that’s front-back, left-right, and up-down). A�Sometimes you luach yourself through the air. A�Sometimes you free yourself from the “gravity” of one of the microplanets to fall to another. A�In both cases, the effect is nothing short of magical.

The verdict: A�Full range of motion makes these games more interesting and fun than other sandbox games in spite of the comparatively limited size of the worlds.

Super Mario Sunshine
Super Mario Sunshine

For some reason, this is one of the least popular Mario games. A�I’m not sure why, but I suspect that it is because of the different gameplay. A�In addition to the normal run and jump, mario had a water cannon mounted on his back that allows for all manner of different abilities. A�It allowed you to reveal secret areas, defeat enemies, and even fly for short distances.

As I discussed, gamers can be the most sensitive when it comes to changes. A�Any time Wizards of the Coast updates their band and restricted cards, players invariably complain. A�More recently, Blizzard updated Hearthstone to include a standard mode. A�You’d have thought that they required players to pay a monthly subscription to remain in the game. A�While I think that the entire concept of Hearthstone is ridiculous, people enjoy it and the concept of standard is necessary for the health of any card game.

The point of it all is that gamers complain about every change, no matter how small, benign, or even necessary it is. A�So, it’s no surprise that Mario’s water cannon met with mixed reaction, to put it mildly. A�Many people hated the idea. A�What I find funny about that is that it is a logical step between Super Mario 64 and Galaxy. A�Not content with a 3D world, they pushed the envelop to allow players to more freely move around in the up and down direction.

The verdict: A�A fun game with slightly different gameplay that wasn’t appreciated in its time. A�Actually a decent step forward in the evolution of 3D games.

Super Mario 64
Super Mario 64

At the time, this was the greatest game that I had ever played. A�I wasn’t alone in that sentiment. A�So many people loved the game for so many reasons. A�Even today, it remains my favorite Mario game and the first game that I beat to 100%. A�I had to cheat on a few of the trickier star pieces, but I still got it done. A�Heck, I even launched myself onto the roof to meet Yoshi.

I purchased an N64 strictly for this game. A�Sure, I owned other games, but this is the one that sold me the system. A�It took everything that we loved about Mario and brought it into the brave new world of three dimensions. A�Unlike the 3D World and Land games, the worlds were immersive and worth exploring beyond just the linear path. A�That same immersion makes up for the fact that it doesn’t offer the same full range of 3D motion that Galaxy does.

The verdict: A�In my opinion, still the best Mario game ever made. A�A great marriage of the old and the new makes for a great experience.

The Legend Grows

(Editor’s Note: A�Join us in our second installment of Mario Monday!)

Last week on Mario Monday, we explored his evolution from supporting Jumpman to main character of his own line of successful games. A�This week, we continue with an analysis of some of the games from other genres that star everyone’s favorite plumber.

Oh, jeeze. Oh, Luigi, I didn't know you were there. Oh, Man, this is getting awkward.
Oh, jeeze. Oh, Luigi, I didn’t know you were there. Oh, Man, this is getting awkward.

maybe we will talk about how innovative, inventive, or inspirational the games were. A�Perhaps we will discuss how the games either created or changed their respective genres. A�We can explore some of the other games that owe their existence or success to Mario offshoots. A�Because, honestly, this real reason we’re doing all of this is to play more games.

Dr. Mario
Dr. Mario

My first experience with Mario outside of his strange platforming universe was Dr. Mario. A�I bought (or got it for Christmas) a Game Boy to play the more traditional Super Mario Land. A�not a bad version of the game, but the limitations of the system are painfully evident. The Game Boy came bundled with Tetris. A�Thankfully, that is one tradition that has come back into favor. A�Who the hell wants to buy a game system just to stare at it? A�Give me some games, you cheap asses. A�But, as usual, I digress.

Innovative, inspirational, inventive? A�At the time, and only having really played Tetris in comparison, I don’t know that I’d A�call Dr. Mario any of these things. A�It follows in the footsteps of Tetris by dropping puzzle pieces from the top of the screen and it still revolves around groups of four to take things off the board.

Genre changing or creating? A�Seeing as how I compared the game to an earlier game in the genre (Tetris, still the most well known and arguably the best puzzle game ever), Dr. Mario did not create a genre. A�I don’t even think it can be argued that it changed the genre all that much. A�They changed the game a bit by making the pieces pills and involved clearing certain elements from the board, but as we saw earlier, even that owes it’s existence mainly to Tetris.

The Verdict: A�A fun, if not necessarily new game in the genre that offered me and my friend Kevin endless entertainment when in high school. A�If you are looking for more genre defining games, check out any number of the mobile match three games available.

 

Mario Party
Mario Party

I don’t remember if Christine got me a Nintendo 64 for my birthday or if it was just the last time I remember her being interested in video games. A�Lately, she seems to have infected with the “MOM” virus when it comes to video games and thinks that they just serve the purpose to rot people’s brains. A�Either way, I picked up Mario Party because it was one of the multiplayer games that interested me and we played it a few times but ultimately decided that it would be more fun with even more people. A�Being only mildly interested in interacting with society, we didn’t have those people in our lives, so Mario Party hasn’t been a big part of our lives. A�Maybe now that we have kids, we can help to cure her of “MOM”.

Innovative, Inspirational, Inventive? A�As much as Mario followed in the footsteps of Tetris to become a doctor, the same cannot be said in any way for Mario Party. A�The concept of trying to market board games to a younger audience is not new. A�However, Mario Party put a new spin on this old genre by almost folding the elements that make Mario unique into a board game to create a weird amalgam that works in spite of the fact that it probably shouldn’t.

Genre changing or creating? A�I wouldn’t say that it changed the board game as video game genre, since most of them still basically just take the board game and try to recreate it as a video game. A�Sure, they add new animations and sounds, but that was most likely inevitable. A�I will say that this game and the more narrowly focused Wario Ware are almost a genre to themselves.

The Verdict: A�If you have a bunch of people over and want something other than Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit, toss in Mario Party whatever number they’re up to and, not to put too fine a point on it, have a party.

Mario RPG
Mario RPG

I don’t think that I ever played that version of Super Mario RPG. A�I remember it being released and thinking that it was a cool idea at the time. A�For some reason, though, that never actually translated to playing the game. A�I think at the time, I was more interested in the Sega Genesis because it offered Mortal Kombat with blood. A�Ah, to be young and dumb again.

Innovative, Inspirational, Inventive? A�Having not played the original, I can’t speak as to how different that one was from traditional games in the genre. A�I have played the GBA version of the game, which I guess isn’t quite the same game, but uses elements from the RPG game and Paper Mario (thanks again, Wikipedia!). A�In that regard, the game succeeded much like Mario Party. A�It blended elements from traditional Mario into a different genre of game.

Genre changing or creating? A�Given such a diverse collection of games in the genre, it is difficult to change the genre as a whole. A�With that being said, Super Mario RPG and its official and unofficial sequels are different from most of the games that came before. A�They still have the traditional level system and powers as those games, but the addition of Mario mechanics, at least in the version that I played, add to the game and make it more fun to play in some ways that traditional RPGs.

The Verdict: A�the Super Mario RPG version of the games offer a new enough experience that they definitely have a place alongside some of the greats like Final Fantasy. A�I’m not saying the games are as the Final Fantasy games. A�If you want an introduction to RPGs and love Mario, definitely play these games.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong
Mario vs. Donkey Kong

I think that I’ve mentioned before that the Game Boy Advance is still my favorite mobile platform, even with all of the amazing games available on tablet and phone. A�What can I say? A�I think I’ve also said that I’m a “things were better in the old days, get off my lawn” old guy when it comes almost anything, but especially gaming.

Innovative, Inspirational, Inventive? A�Definitely innovative and inventive, possibly inspirational? A�The main game has similar game play to the original Donkey Kong, but they tweaked it and added a puzzle element to the game. A�By itself, that would be enough. A�They also added new enemies and traps to the game to make it feel like an entirely new game. A�I don’t know if I can say inspirational because I don’t know of another game like it.

Genre creating or changing? A�I’m not even sure what genre to classify this game. A�I suppose it is a puzzle game and that’s what I called it up there, but it also has elements of platformers, too. A�So, I guess it created the platforming/puzzle cross genre, but it might be the only game in that genre. A�We oldbies remember Lemmings. A�Also, is Braid similar? A�I’ve never played that one. A�Oh, Toki Tori, too, but I might be the only one that played that game. A�So, maybe it did create a genre after all.

The verdict: A�Of the offshoot games (other than the best for last next game to be discussed), this one is the most fun and entertaining as a single player experience. A�Sure, Mario Party offers a better multiplayer mode, but if you’re only in the mood for a party of one, then this is your game.

Mario Kart
Mario Kart

True story confession time: A�I might be a filthy casual when it comes to gaming, but I do have my moments of hardcore (or at least semi-hardcore) every now and then. A�I rented Mario Kart Wii. A�It might have been from Gamefly, but I think it was actually a legitimate game rental store because we got at least one of the steering wheels. A�I was playing the game against Liam and I put some oil on the stove to heat up. A�You may know where this story is going. A�Well, the oil reached the flash point, caught on fire, and started melting the microwave. A�We freaked out, called the fire department, and lived with my in laws for 2 weeks while they cleaned our house of the mess.

Innovative, Inspirational, Inventive? A�Well, it’s not really any of these things necessarily. A�At the same time, it is all of these things. A�Does any of that make sense? A�Of course not, but neither does almost burning down the house while playing the game. A�The game is a back view racing game similar to Pole Position, but it does add the elements of multiplayer, power ups, and the ability to mess with your friends. A�All of those things add enough to the game to make it a unique game.

Genre creating or changing? A�Mario Kart did not create the racing game obviously. A�It did change the genre in a significant way. A�It gave rise to the “Kart” subgenre of racing game. A�Terrible game after terrible game came after Mario Kart with a variety of characters and settings that never lived up to the promise of this one.

The verdict: A�Mario Kart stands alone (more or less, there are some clones that are actually decent) as the defining and best Kart style game series. A�After all, no other game ever caused me to burn down the house. A�Though, I did ignore a “emergencies” to finish defeating a WoW boss once or twice.

Humble Beginnings

(Editor’s Note:A� As part of our relaunch and month long celebration of all things Mario, on Mario Mondays we will be taking a trip through the history of everyone’s favorite plumber.)

Sorry, green guy.
Sorry, green guy.

Every week, we are going to explore a different era as defined by us, of the Mario Games.A� Maybe we will compare them to their contemporaries of the time.A� Perhaps we will try to dissect the magical formula that allows such a simple formula to endure for over thirty years.A� Mostly, we will just use it as an excuse to play all of these great games in a misguided attempt to recapture our youth.A� If recent cinematic history has taught us anything, it is that we fall hard for sentimentality and nostalgia here at 2 Guys Gaming.

This week, we start in the most logical place, the beginning.A� That may seem obvious, but when I write, I often don’t begin at the beginning.A� It’s more fun to drop your reader into the middle and make them travel back to the beginning.A� Nevertheless, when assembling a chronology, it is probably best to start at the beginning.

Perhaps we went back a bit too far.
Perhaps we went back a bit too far.

Mario started his journey as Jumpman in Donkey Kong, so that’s where we begin our journey, too.A� Before we do, though, I find it interesting that many of those early video games were –man games; Jumpman, Mega Man, Puckman.A� You probably remember that last one by a different name because they feared immature kids and teenagers might alter the title to something offensive.A� Having been an immature teenager, I understand the concern because it is something that I might have considered in my dumb youth.A� I’ve never defaced property, but I did chuckle when they had to change the name of the Public Dock in my old hometown because people kept stealing the “L”.A� I certainly would have referred to the game by the offensive name in conversation.A� I might have even though they changed it to avoid that calamity.A� How about that?A� A Mario history lesson and a Pac Man etymology in one article.A� We are learning you good.

Donkey Kong (1981)
Donkey Kong (1981)

How did it compare?A� Donkey Kong released during what many consider to be the first Golden Age of video games.A� The aforementioned Pac Man, Q Bert, Galaga, Dragon’s Lair, Tetris, Xevious, 1942, Zaxxon, Dig Dug, Pole Position, Burger Time, Joust, and many more I’m probably forgetting in spite of some very helpful Wikipedia pages.A� If faced with an arcade full of those classics, I doubt that Donkey Kong would be where I chose to spend my quarters.A� In fact, I know that it wouldn’t, because when faced with those games in collections, I choose other games over Donkey Kong.A� Verdict:A� It’s a fun game, but not even in my personal top 10 when complared with other games of the time.

Does it endure?A� In spite of my feelings about the game, it does still hold a place in the history of Mario and video games.A� During one of the peaks of popularity, Donkey Kong more than held its own as a favored game.A� Yes, that does endure to this day.A� How?A� Well, it has been shown time and again that if there are at least two people interested in an activity, they will turn that activity into a competition.A� While I have always thought that competitive gaming is a bit silly, DK owes much of its popularity and success to several people trying to beat each other’s high scores.A� Verdict:A� Because of Fistful of Quarters, the legacy of Donkey Kong is still very much alive.

Really, that whole previous paragraph was just an excuse to show this sweet picture of Billy Mitchell again.
Really, that whole previous paragraph was just an excuse to show this sweet picture of Billy Mitchell again.

Nostalgia factor:A� Since I wasn’t a huge fan of Donkey Kong as a kid, the game does not conjure warm and fuzzy memories for me.A� Still, I think that we’ve show that it has a place in the Mario Pantheon and probably offers some gamers a time machine to rekindle the gaming glory of their youth.A� Verdict:A� I suspect that a take it or leave it poll might be split right down the middle.

Mario Bros (1983)
Mario Bros (1983)

How does it compare?A� Released in the same stacked era as Donkey Kong, Mario Bros matches far more favorably against the competition.A� It doesn’t make sense as the overall game play is essentially the same.A� You run and jump, but instead of avoiding barrels, you flip and knock off enemies.A� Why the heck am I telling you this?A� We’ve all played these games.A� If you haven’t, find a friend and play some Mario Bros.A� I’ll wait.A� That–that illustrates the primary advantage that Mario Bros. has over Donkey Kong.A� The coop two player mode meant that you and a buddy can just hop onto the machine and wreck bugs together until you run out of quarters.A� And that’s really all you can ask for a game.A� Verdict:A� Two player mode makes this game much more fun, but still really boring as single player.

Does it endure?A� This game may not have been the topic of a movie documenting the quest for the high score, but id did spawn several cartoons and a terrible live action movie adaptation.A� When offered as a mini game, I will always gladly take the opportunity to relive my introduction to Mario Mario.A� Verdict:A� This game still lives on my computer and sees more frequent play than Donkey Kong.

Nostalgia Factor:A� This is the first game to identify the character as Mario, so that has to be worth some points.A� Unlike Donkey Kong, I have actual fond memories of Mario Bros.A� I played the game in the arcade and at home with friends.A� I’d venture a similar guess that many others share my opinion of this game as when they fell in love with the moustache.A� Verdict:A� If this one doesn’t take you back, you need to go back to video game history class.A� And, do the homework this time.

Trust me, this is homework you won't mind doing.
Trust me, this is homework you won’t mind doing.
Super Mario Bros. (1985)
Super Mario Bros. (1985)

How does it compare?A� Super Mario Bros is quite possibly the best game of its time.A� I can say this with confidence because it still finds a place in top 25 and top 10 lists to this day.A� Some of that is obviously nostalgia (but this isn’t the nostalgia section, so more on that later) but mostly it is just because it is a great damn game.A� It was revolutionary. It helped to advance the idea of games with finite length that could be finished.A� It was innovative.A� Even as a completely linear adventure, it encourage exploration by scattering secrets throughout.A� It was challenging.A� Everyone wasted a quarter their first time playing by running directly into that first Goomba. Above all, it was fun.A� Verdict:A� This is one of the best games of all time, not just the era it was released.

A game where you do the same thing over and over and it is still fun?  Modern games could take a hint from Mario.
A game where you do the same thing over and over and it is still fun? Modern games could take a hint from Mario.

Does it endure? A�In a word, yes. A�Any time I download the questionably legal (Most likely very illegal, but I calm my conscience by adding the questionably. A�Hey, it’s all about casting that shadow of doubt.) A�MAME, I always test it with Super Mario Bros. first. A�I always die at that first Goomba, too. A�I used the game to test streaming possibilities and it is one of Liam’s favorite games. A�Verdict: A�Can I envision a day when it falls out of favor for more modern games? A�Sure, but Super Mario Bros. is here to stay and will continue to delight gamers for generations.

Nostalgia Factor: A�This is the game that started it all for so many of us. A�By us, of course, I mean me and I’m projecting from that very small sample size. A�Hey, I’m might be a mathematician, but I’ve always struggled with Stats. A�My parents bough us an NES for Christmas one year and I was so happy that I could finally die to that stupid Goomba in the privacy of my own home. A�Really, though, this game and others bring me back to the arcades with friends. A�Throwing away our birthday money one quarter at a time in between rounds of mini golf or waiting for our movie to start. A�Verdict: A�My generation misses the arcade era so much that we’ve invented barcades to take us back. A�Games like Super Mario Bros. are the reason why.

Super Mario Bros. 3 (1988)
Super Mario Bros. 3 (1988)

How does it compare? A�What happens when you take one of the best games of all time and improve it in all possible aspects? A�I know that I am prone to exaggeration and hyperbole, but think about it. A�It has better graphics, bigger levels, more innovative power ups, and trickier secrets. A�Verdict: A�It is the reason that I owned an SNES adn the best game of its time.

What other game lets you jump in a boot to hop on enemies?
What other game lets you jump in a boot to hop on enemies?

Does it endure? A�The legacy of Super Mario Bros. 3 lives on every time I purchase a new Nintendo system to play the latest and greatest (Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. A�In my estimation, the greatest game in the series has yet to be eclipsed and, for once, I will adhere to no spoilers.) in the series. A�And, yes, I have bought them all. A�Heck, I didn’t have to go through that whole previous paragraph to answer the question. A�Verdict: A�Not only have I bought all of the new Mario games, I’ve bought Super Mario All Stars 3 times on three different systems simply to be able to play this game.

Nostalgia Factor: A�Just as the original Super Mario Bros. brings me back to the arcades of my youth, this game reminds me of great times with my brothers playing on the SNES that I bought with money from my job at Toys R Us. A�Now I get to share those types of memories with my kids. A�Verdict: A�Nintendo continues to improve and impress.

Super Mario World (1990)
Super Mario World (1990)

How does it compare? A�I don’t want to say that the games took a step back when this game released. A�That wouldn’t be entirely accurate. A�It wasn’t exponentially better as SMB and SMB3 were over their predecessors. A�It wasn’t worse, either. A�It just didn’t add enough over SMB3 to make it a universally better game. A�Verdict: This gameA�represents more of a lateral move but is still one of the best games on the system.

Does it endure? A�Not as much as either of the two previously discussed games. A�I will play Super Mario World every so often, but I haven’t bought it multiple times as I have SMB3 and it isn’t a got to game as the original SMB. A�Additionally, Liam played it for a few weeks on the Wii, but it hasn’t grabbed his attention like some other Mario games.A�Verdict: A�It might be unfair to compare to the other two games, but this one definitely doesn’t stack up, even years later.

Nostalgia Factor: A�I don’t have any special connection to this game. A�No time spent in arcades. A�No memorable games with my brothers. A�Not even the new style of nostalgia of playing the game with my boys. A�It just doesn’t have the aalure of the earlier games because it didn’t make that quantum leap and was just good enough, in terms of Mario games, to ultimately be forgettable. A�Verdict: A�Sorry Super Mario World, you just don’t fire up the Way Back Machine in any meaningful way.

Well, there it is. A�Our triumphant return with the first installment of Mario Monday. A�Be sure to come back next week when I discuss five of the off shoot Mario games; Dr., Party, Kart, RPT, and vs. DK. A�I’ve spent the better part of the past few weeks putting together a schedule and a plan to stay on that schedule. A�We’re back, and I hope it is for goot this time. A�Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoy all the new content. A�To steal a quote from Hearthstone, “It’s good ta see ya again!”

We Built This City (on Minecraft)

(Editor’s Note #1: A�Rock and roll is just a terrible foundation upon which to build a city.)

(Editor’s Note #2: A�Minecraft? A�You mean that Lego rip off game? A�I don’t understand the appeal.)

My thoughts on Minecraft mirrored those in the second editor’s note. A�Admittedly, they came from ignorance, but that’s how I felt. A�I couldn’t understand why anyone, let alone tens (or even hundreds) of millions of people, could play the game for hours on end. A�Heck, I even watched my kids play and joined in on a few games in my attempt to understand. A�Hey, not every game is for every gamer. A�Maybe it’s just a kid thing. A�Still, it nagged at me. A�There has to be something.

Turns out that, as with most things that are hugely popular, there are many somethings. A�As cheesy as it might sound, Minecraft is what you make it. A�(That’s not really a pun, but it was fully intended to invoke the crafting element of the game.) So, what caused this change of heart? A�As with most wars of ignorance, knowledge won the battle.

Though, to be fair, red or blue lasers would be nice to have in a battle, too.
Though, to be fair, red or blue lasers would be nice to have in a battle, too.

A couple of weeks ago my youngest asked me to play Minecraft again. A�Irritated, as I often am, with the mind numbing gameplay of Hearthstone, I figured “why not” and joined him in a game A�It was during this session that I finally learned that there are multiple modes in the game and that we had mostly played “Creative”, which is exactly how it sounds. A�There is no danger of dying and no objective in the game other than to build.

There’s nothing wrong with that and many people have built amazing things in creative mode. A�I guess that I am just more of a survival Minecrafter because once I learned about that mode, I was hooked. A�In survival, you have to mine for your resources, you can die, and actually offers a challenge other beyond recreating your favorite skyline or college football stadium.

Neither my favorite stadium, nor my own work. Grudgingly paying respect to the best college football program in recent history, I suppose.
Neither my favorite stadium, nor my own work. Grudgingly paying respect to the best college football program in recent history, I suppose.

My middle, youngest, and I have since created a survival world that has given us hours of entertainment. A�We planned our first house by building a moat in the desert to keep out monsters. A�We laughed when Quinn refused to leave the house and spent his first MInecraft week mostly sleeping. A�I explored to find a mountain range full of resources for our second, and now main, house. A�We cheered at mining our first diamonds in that mountain range. A�We found obsidian, used that to create a nether portal, and now make regular trips into that horrifying plane for supplies. A�We even researched “The End” and battling the Ender Dragon, but we need more time to plan and collect resources to make that a successful adventure.

Like I said earlier, the discover and subsequent adventuring through Survival mode has me hooked. A�I bought the game on my tablet (hey, it was only 7 bucks) and recently bought it for the PC, too. A�We now own the same game for XBox 360, mobile, and PC. A�There is precedent for me buying the same game more than once, but there usually has to be a special reason. A�Like it is my favorite game of all time or there was a steam bundle that includes the game.

Those are totally the reasons that I bought Portal 2 more than once. It has nothing to do with GladOS and her plan, with the help of Skynet, to destroy humanity. No, GladOS didn't tell me to say that last part. *nervous look off camera*
Those are totally the reasons that I bought Portal 2 more than once. It has nothing to do with GladOS and her plan, with the help of Skynet, to destroy humanity. No, GladOS didn’t tell me to say that last part. *nervous look off camera*

i don’t think Minecraft is available on Steam. A�If it is, don’t tell me, because I might just buy it again. A�That’s only partly a joke. A�So, what about this game has made me buy it three times? It is a good-great, even-game that offers hours of entertainment.A�It’s not my favorite game yet. A�That still goes to Portal 2. A�Well, why, then? A�Just tell us, Man!

Well, if you’re going to be impatient about it, I guess I have no choice. A�The squeaky wheel always gets the grease. A�Why are metaphors always so gross? A�Skinning cats, beating dead horses, greasing wheels. A�Okay, last diversion.

As if that previous statement could possibly be true.
As if that previous statement could possibly be true.

Okay, now for the reasons as to why I bought each version of the game and what they offer so you don’t have to buy them all. A�You can, of course, and even knowing what I know, I would to support a great company and game. A�If you are more frugal or con’t care about the fine people at Mojang feeding their families (you monster!), then keep reading.

I bought the XBOX 360 version as the second half of a Groupon (or some other such email marketing gimmick) deal a couple of years ago. A�Having heard of the game, but not respecting it, I got the game because “The boys will have fun with it.” A�For the record, Forza something or another was the other game and I have not played more than an hour on that game, played far more Minecraft, and maybe have even played more Minecraft than the kids.

The XBox 360 (and other console versions, I assume) offers a good introduction to the crafting system. A�Granted, there are FAQs and video guides galore these days to discover the recipes for any item in the Minecrft world, but if you’re more of a traditionalist, the PC version can be a tough nut to craft. A�Hey, terrible puns and non sequitirs. A�You get both in spades here at 2 Guys Gaming. A�If you’re a strict traditionalist, I believe that you can set the options to the classic crafting system and besides, that, there are still plenty of secrets to find in the game even if you play with the assistive crafting system.A� Besides, there are still plenty of secrets to find in the game even if you play with EZ mode crafting on.A� One final word of warning before continuing. A�The console versions lag slightly behind in terms of updates to the game, so you’re not necessarily playing the latest version if you’re only playing on console.

Look at Steve.  He looks so happy to be going on an adventure.  Little does he know that, soon enough, he will be dropped off of cliffs, blown up by creepers, eaten by zombies, doused in lava, and much, much worse.  Let's not tell him.  The surprise is half the fun.
Look at Steve. He looks so happy to be going on an adventure. Little does he know that, soon enough, he will be dropped off of cliffs, blown up by creepers, eaten by zombies, doused in lava, and much, much worse. Let’s not tell him. The surprise is half the fun.

I bought the mobile version next.A� It was the cheapest version and I wanted to see if was faithful to the big boy versions.A� SPOILER ALERT:A� At first glance, it is the same game.A� You mine blocks, you place blocks.A� You craft things.A� You kill zombies, skeletons, and creepers.A� It’s the same game.A� Well, not quite.A� On closer examination, there are things missing.A� It’s not a huge deal, but the mobile game is not the complete game.A� Even so, the mobile version also uses an easier crafting system and fairly intuitive controls.A� If you don’t want to pay full price for the game or want to get an overview before buying the full game, mobile Minecraft is a good place to get your feet wet.

If you’re like me, and Minecraft speaks to you on a deeply personal level, then you want the PC version.A� It is the most expensive, but allows you to install on an unlimited number of computers.A� That alone makes it worth the price if you have a bunch of Minecraft fans in the house like we do.A� There is another reason to invest in the PC version (the best reason, IMO) that I will discuss briefly, but I want to talk about the major drawback first.A� Unlike the XBox version, or even the mobile version, which both allow multiplayer at an affordable price, you need to spend $27 for each account to play multiplayer on the PC.A� That restriction even applies to LAN games, as we discovered this past weekend.A� That was a huge bummer.

Oh well, we still have split screen on the XBox 360 and cross platform support on mobile.A� What neither of those allow, and this leads into the best reason (in my opinion–and really, this is my article, so what else but my opinion) to own the PC version of the game.A� As far as I know, the PC is the only version to allow you to play mods that alter the way the game acts and, in some cases, alters the game in almost unrecognizable ways.A� So far, we have tried Pixelmon and Thaumcraft and have enjoyed them both.A� I have to say that I’m completely addicted to the study/minigame aspect of Thaumcraft as that one introduces a kind of wizardry to the game.A� Aiden has played much more of Pixelmon, which is to be expected, but I’ve had some fun with that one, too.A� That’s how we learned that you need separate accounts to play multiplayer on the PC.A� I wanted to join in on Aiden’s Pixelmon world, but coudn’t.A� I’m not willing (yet?) to pay for the multiple accounts.A� Hopefully, they offer a family account in the not too distant future.

What introduced me to mods and got me hooked to the game was I really wanted to find a mod that allows for Obsidian armor and found one that supposedly introduces technology to the game, but I haven’t gotten that one to run.A� I am always on the lookout for different mods, though, so if you know of any, send an email or leave it in the comments.

portalcraft
Portal in Minecraft? That might just be the way to get me to spend absurd amounts of money on this game.

Regulars at the page know that I’m perpetually behind the times in all things pop culture.A� I have no excuse for being this late to the Minecraft party other than ignorance.A� Nevertheless, if you have missed the boat for as long as I have (or, more likely, if you have children who are just now growing into the age of Minecraft) then I hope that this article serves as a good introduction into the pros and cons of each version so that you can make a more informed decision.A� Finally, if you do buy the game, give it a try.A� I can almost guarantee that you will find it entertaining.

Noob’s History with Mario

(Editor’s Note: A�A�The boys and I are trying to get on a regular recording schedule for the podcast. A�Chris also came up with the idea of going to a quarterly schedule for the main show, so I’m inspired and ready to tackle this thing full force again. )

Relaunching our brand over the holidays proved to be a bit of a mistake, but we are nothing if not ambitious here. A�One of the topics for January’s episode, which will now become an early February episode, is Mario. A�Last time, the boys and I talked about Luigi, so this time we’ll discuss his slightly more famous brother. A�A month or two ago, I wrote an article about my history with Pokemon to coincide with that episode that hasn’t been released, but may later in the month. A�It was a fun article to write, so I had the idea to do the same with Mario to coincide with this one that will be recorded this weekend to be released next week.

My history with Mario is much longer and much more consistent than Pokemon. A�I’d say that it is the game franchise that I have played the longest without any extended breaks. A�I often make the half-joke that all Nintendo has to do is release a Mario, Zelda, and Metroid game and I will buy the console. A�The truth is that Mario always hooks me back in and then I play the other games once they’ve reached my price point. A�You may be asking two questions right now. A�Even if you aren’t, there are two main points that I want to make with this article. A�What is this lengthy history with a video game that is longer than any personal relationship other than family? A�What keeps a person so dedicated to one franchise for so long?

It's a me, Mario!  I'd like to play a game with you, Shawn.  You may notice that your hands and feet are bound together with cuffs and chains.  The key is hidden somewhere in that room.  You have 2 hours until the vents open and release a poisonous gas.  Good luck.
It’s a me, Mario! I’d like to play a game with you, Shawn. You may notice that your hands and feet are bound together with cuffs and chains. The key is hidden somewhere in that room. You have 2 hours until the vents open and release a poisonous gas. Good luck.

First, the actual history. A�I’ve been playing Mario themed games since Donkey Kong. A�Back then, though, he was known as Jumpman and I didn’t know–nor really care–about his rich history as a plumber. A�I never asked, “Why does this guy jump?” A�Does he have a, as of now unfound and unnamed, brother from whom he is trying to steal the attention of gamers similar to how I and my own brothers vie for the attention of our parents? A�Clearly, no. A�Jumpman’s troubles start, as they often do, with a woman. A�I didn’t actually play that much Donkey Kong. A�I preferred Donkey Kong, Jr. and the greater variety in gameplay from level to level.

So, while you could consider Donkey Kong as the start of my Mario history, I don’t. A�I actually started playing Mario when I would sit at the Super Mario Brothers vs. machine when neither Mortal Kombat nor Street Fighter were available. A�Between the arcade version of the game not being very forgiving and having to plug a quarter in every time I wanted to lay, I don’t think that I ever beat even level 1-2. A�Don’t laugh. A�Unless your name was Steve Wiebe or Billy Mitchell, you know you were in the same boat.

There's a lot that can be said for not being Billy Mitchell.  Saving a fortune in hair care product and American flag ties, for example.
There’s a lot that can be said for not being Billy Mitchell. Saving a fortune in hair care product and American flag neck ties, as two examples.

Eventually, our parents bought us an NES. A�The place where my mother worked sold their rental games at a cheap price, so we also got a ton of games with it. A�One of the games was the NES version of Super Mario Bros. A�Either much less difficult or I was able to practice more without the restriction of 25 cents per play or both, I got much father in the home version of the game than the arcade. A�I still did not beat the game until I learned of the warp zones much later, but I made it to world 4, no small accomplishment for me at the time. A�Later, came the Game Boy version (the first Mario game that I beat), and after a brief flirtation with the Genesis and Sonic the Hedgehog, I bought an SNES. A�That system has two of my favorite Mario games ever, the remake of Super Mario Bros 3. and Super Mario World. A�I bought both of them again on the Wii Virtual Console. A�There aren’t many games that I will buy more than once for the exact same game. A�Heck, I don’t even buy game series in which the sequels don’t stray too far from the formula. A�I’m looking at you, Call of Duty.

The game that solidified my fandom and proved to me that the series can do no wrong was Super Mario 64. A�Like many others, I bought a Nintendo 64 for that game and happened to get a few other games that I played a few times and ultimately pushed to the side for the gloss and glamour of my newly purchased Playstation (that’s one for you youngins). A�That gloss wore off very quickly once that Playstation dripped in price a week or two after I bought it.

There it is.  The last video game product that I ever paid full price.  Not that I'm bitter.  Nope, not at all.  If Donald Trump can do all that he's done with just a small loan of one million dollars, imagine what I could have done with the $100 I'd have saved by waiting just a week.  I could be running for President of the condo board of Del Boca Vista right now.
There it is. The last video game product that I ever paid full price. Not that I’m bitter. Nope, not at all. If Donald Trump can do all that he’s done with just a small loan of one million dollars, imagine what I could have done with the $100 I’d have saved by waiting just a week. I could be running for President of the condo board of Del Boca Vista right now.

Sony kept me hooked through a variety of great games, but I did still load up the N64 every day until I beat SM64 to 100% complete. A�It’s the first game that I ever did so, though I had to cheat a few times for some of the trickier stars. A�In between the N64 and Wii days, I played a ton of GBA. A�Thankfully, that system had a ton of Mario titles. A�From SNES remakes to new titles in the platforming series, to entirely different genres, the GBA is one of my favorite consoles ever and it is due in no small part to Mario.

I also owned a Gamecube, exclusively for the three games mentioned earlier in the article. A�Nintendo trie something different with Super Mario Sunshine. A�As with most fan bases, people reacted negatively to the change. A�Remember New Coke? A�Generally, I don’t mind change and, more often than not, embrace that companies are willing to try new and different things.

Except for New Coke.  Seriously, eff New Coke.
Except for New Coke. Seriously, eff New Coke.

Clearly, I’m in the minority and when Mario debuted on the Wii, he did so with some new gameplay mechanics, but mostly just as SM64 with a shiny new coat of paint. A�Look, I’m not complaining. A�It continues to be a fun game enjoyed by my kids today. A�Liam had to buy a new copy because our old copy got scuffed. A�However, the game didn’t exactly push Mario forward.

The most recent Mario game that we’ve played shows that Nintendo is joining many other pop culture franchises and trying to capture the magic of the past with 2D platform games meant to remind us of where it all started. A�Not content with merely releasing those first games again (though they’ve done that plenty, too, through the virtual console), they have added new levels, enemies, power ups and, perhaps best of all, support for up to 4 players. A�Now, similar to Star Wars, I can share all of the Mario fun with my kids by playing these games. A�Sure, the more cynical part of my brain understands that it is about hooking that next generation to ensure sales into the future, but I ignore that part as I’m eating Aiden’s Toad character with my Yoshi and throwing him gleefully off of a cliff.

Mario has spanned the transition from 2 dimensional side scrolling zero (not really, but it works for literary purposes) to 3 dimensional galaxy exploring hero. A�He has survived a countless imitators, complete shifts in video game philosophy, and a terrible movie. A�He’s crossed generations from my father to me to my children and hopefully their children. A�Not bad for an Italian guy with a shady past that may or may not have been altered to protect his identity.

I could make a mob joke, but it would probably be considered insensitive.  Plus, I have Italian friends and you never know who might be connected.
I could make a mob joke, but it would probably be considered insensitive. Plus, I have Italian friends and you never know who might be connected.