Author Archives: aaronbulnes

About aaronbulnes

As you probably can tell from this site is that I like to write about a whole bunch of stuff. I love video games, music, wrestling, The Simpsons, and a ton of other stuff. I'm in my early 20s, but I'm into a stuff that a 10-year-old is.

The Backlog #1: Electronic Gaming Monthly #149

ImageHello! I kind of have a problem. I horde a lot of old video game magazines, and I don’t know why. I guess because as I get older, I like to go back to these relics every once in awhile to see how things turned out. I also need to justify the fact that as 23-year-old, I need to have a huge stack of video game magazines in my closet.

So, here we are. I think a good jumping-off point for this whole endeavor I am about to embark on is turning to one of my favorite issues of Electronic Gaming Monthly.

I think what makes this issue so interesting is when it was released. 2001 was a huge year for gaming. The Playstation 2 was a year into it’s next-gen dominance, and 3 more consoles were to be released by the end of the year.  Big games that defined that console generation were previewed and reviewed in this issue.

One of the first things that caught my eye was this gem in the Letters to the Editors section:

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Boy, I hope Jonathan isn’t hating life right about now. I bet he’s probably playing Candy Crush somewhere.

It’s crazy to see how much has changed in the past thirteen years. Mobile gaming has jumped to the forefront of the gaming world whether or not people like it or not. It’s much more convenient to whip out your phone and play games in short bursts compared to sinking 40+ hours into a epic RPG now-a-days.

Next, we move onto the Press Start segment on the magazine that features, “The Hottest Gaming News on the Planet.” One of the first bits of news that is talked about the pretty earth-shattering news that Capcom was going to bring the Resident Evil series exclusively to the GameCube. That included the remake of the original game, ports of three other games in the series, and two all-new titles. Capcom made good on their promise as the ports did come out to the GameCube, and the two new titles turned out to be Resident Evil Zero & 4.

Spoiler alert: It didn't change their image.

Spoiler alert: It didn’t change their image.

I initially thought that these screens looked pretty freaking rad. For me, the Resident Evil series holds a special place in my heart because my brother and I played the crap out of the series on the PlayStation. To find out that the series now has a home on the GameCube was a little disheartening because I only had a PS2 at the moment.

Next up is my favorite part in any video game magazine, and that is the rumor section. It’s the section in a magazine where imaginations run wild. Sometime these rumors turn out to be true, slightly true, wrong, and waaaaaaay wrong. This section is no different.

So much gold on this page.

So much gold on this page.

Quarterman was right about Polyphony Digital making motorcycle racing game in some aspect. Tourist Trophy was released in 2006, but it was after they took their sweet time with Gran Turismo 4. That 2D Castlevania was the supposed to hit the PS2? It turned out to be 3D. As for Super Mario Sunshine, nothing much changed, I think. A Donkey Kong game did come out before Perfect Dark Zero, but it turned out to be Donkey Konga, not the proper Donkey Kong games fans wanted. The Need for Speed series did come back, though.

And what about that homemade PSp that was featured on the top? That would have been really cumbersome to play if Sony released their own PSP like that all the way back in 2005.

Next up is previews. EGM had previews for the PS1, PS2, Xbox, GameCube, Dreamcast (R.I.P. never forget), and the GameBoy Advance. There were previews for heavy hitters like Jax & Daxter, Grand Theft Auto III, and Kingdom Hearts. The previews sections wasn’t as packed as their massive Xbox and GameCube preview section.

The tale of the tape. The Xbox was one fat baby.

The tale of the tape. The Xbox was one fat baby.

Those prices are out of this world. $299 and $199 is insane. Can you imagine if the Xbox One and the Wii U was priced liked that? Everyone and their grandmother would have them in their living room. Looking at all the specs and everything else that came with it brings back warm, fuzzy memories for me. I remember sitting in my classroom just doodling various picture of the GameCube and Xbox and making lists of what games I wanted for both

When I did eventually get my Xbox, it came with the “S” controller, not that god-awful one that came with the initial launch. That thing was so uncomfortable. I also remember thinking that the GameCube controller looking really…interesting. Turns out it was extremely comfortable to hold in my hand.

Anyways, EGM previews a ton of games on both sides, and comparing the launch line-ups for both consoles. The Xbox had 20 games at launch compared to the GameCube’s 12. It’s interesting that they called Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader the GameCube’s “killer app.” They also said that Super Smash Bros. Melee “Prettied-up rehash of the N64 original.” Those are some harsh words considering they later gave the game a 9.5 out of 10.

They also talk big about how great the obvious Nintendo first-party games are gonna be, with little-to-no mention of third-party support. It’s good to see that trend still applying to Nintendo to this day. At the end of the feature, they declare the Xbox the winner. The PS2 may have won that console generation, but the Xbox clearly finished it very strong while Nintendo fell to third place.

And finally, we come to the review section. They awarded Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 their Game of the Month award, giving a line-score of 9.5/9.0/9.5. Some other notables are Devil May Cry getting 9.0/8.5/9.0, Half-Life (PS2) getting 8.5./8.0/8.0. Another interesting moment is when Dan “Shoe” Hsu gave Luigi’s Mansion a 5.5 while the other two reviewers seemed to love it.

And here we are at the end of our long journey. Sorry for this post being so long, the issue clocks in at a massive 268 pages (though my issue is missing pages) so there is a ton to cover. Hope you enjoyed reading this. There will be more to come in the future.

A New Wave of Turnerization

I think its sad to me when artists let their original works fall to the waist side and become unoriginal versions of themselves. What George Lucas did to Star Wars is the prime example of this. I was aware that this trend has been happening in the games industry for years already. Square Enix had to basically remake Kingdom Hearts HD edition from scratch since the original game doesn’t exist anymore. I think Mackey makes a good point when he says that the industry is all in favor of moving forward with things but they’re willing to forget the past.

I also like the point that was made that the purest games still left are ROMs on the internet, and even those are illegal to play. If gamers want to play something that has been out of print for years, or is hard to get, then they have to turn to the internet. Why make a class game like Manic Mansion if it won’t exist for people to play in the future? The game is one of the great relics that Lucas Arts had as company and they don’t even exist anymore.

My Thought’s on ‘The Cabal’

This weeks article is interesting to me. I always love “what if?” stories. What would have happened if Valve continued to make the game they originally had intended to make? I doubt the internet would be craving for a Half-Life 3. It’s always great to read about the process developers when they re-work almost every aspect of a game they have busted their asses for. Valve clearly had this ambitious project with cool monsters with great set pieces but it wasn’t very fun to play.

They spent 11 months looking for a “game designer” to lead them down the special to help they achieve what they want. It was clear that their goals were too lofty for one, eventually realizing that what they needed was in them all along. It was almost cliche to read that. It was like in Space Jam when Bugs Bunny tricks the Tune Squad into drinking Michael Jordan’s secret stuff.

And then the kicker at the end: They mention they’re applying this same process to Team Fortress 2, a game they’re currently (at the time) developing. It wouldn’t be released until 2007. Its clear that they’re ambitious, and Team Fortress 2 proves that. That game has undergone such a radical development. It’s clear that they finely tuned everything to be just right for that game. It’s what makes Valve such a great developer.

Piercing the Spectacle

The argument in the article presents both dated, and relevant information for todays world. The article states educational games at the , time aren’t very useful, stating, “The reason why we have not succeeded in building good games for education is that to do so would entail reconstructing the notion of education itself. In particular, we would need to redefine what it means to be a good learner. Instead of receiving information, we might construct understanding. Instead of giving the right answer, we might think of taking an appropriate action. Instead of obeying the rules, we might question authority.”

I think this is where certain open-world sandbox games come into play. It sounds like the author is describing games like Fable, Mass Effect, Deus Ex,  or the various Elder Scrolls games. In those games, you are able to make the choice and decide what to do, and how to do it. The games may give you a general quest or a ‘structure’ to follow, but it’s up to the player how to go about it. It is the spectacle he or she is looking for.

But then again, they’re pretty spot on regarding mobile games. They’re right, people prefer interactivity compared to sitting (or standing) on a loud, long train ride. But that shows how dated the article is again. The author is talking about mobile games. But with the booming mobile phone industry, people web surf, check facebook, play games, check emails all on the go. People even bring their tablets on the train now to read books. All that “junk”, is what people still consume to this day.

Gone Home: Final Conclusion

As I wrapped up Gone Home, I thought to myself, how did a three hour game manage to pack a ride range of emotions in such a short package?

I think it starts with the characters. The game is able to develop and establish strong characters based off your interaction. It’s up to the player, Kaitlin, to discover where everyone is at. Because the story is told through journal entries, notes, voice memos, and other things, it’s unique in the way characters are developed.

Kaitlin’s sister, Samantha, is also missing. A note is left on the front door begging Kaitlin not to go searching for answers of Sam’s disappearance. Throughout the game, it is found out that Sam has developed a relationship with another girl named Lonnie. I think Sam sort of fills the description of Jenkins’ description of both “girl space” and “boy space”.

Jenkins’ describes “boy space” as a place of adventure, risk taking, and no place to seek cover. “Girl space” holds secrets, romance, and sacrifice.

Sam is finding out who she is. She doesn’t fit the mold of what a girl should be, especially in a video game. She loves Nintendo, plays Street Fighter, yet never had a friend besides Daniel. She sees Lonnie and instantly get’s her attention. They begin to hangout and eventually form a relationship and run off together.

Sam starts getting into trouble at school, (as seen in one of the notes that is found in the house), attends concerts in the city with Lonnie. Her parents get in denial that Sam is gay and brush this off as a “phase”.

Sam is going on her own adventure with Lonnie, essentially taking a huge risk since she is in her senior year of high school. That would fit into the boy space. And she is making a sacrifice by dropping her life in Oregon and running away. And she is also willing to not see her sister for a last time.

The fact that the story told almost organically through these methods provides a certain depth that is almost isn’t even seen in most games. The fact that their parents are seemingly having their own problems. Their father is having troubles with his writing career, and Kaitlin finds a brochure for couples therapy retreat that is on the same weekend as their anniversary.

It seems kinda ironic that the house they lived in was inherited from their uncle who had mental problems, who for everyone who currently lives there to have their own problems. Except for Kaitlin of course.

Sam truly thought the best thing she could do for herself was to get away with Lonnie. And Lonnie was taking the same risk by changing her mind.

First Hour of Gone Home

I’ve never played Gone Home, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. It was placed on countless game of the year lists. I kind of went into the game with a certain knowledge about it.

 I think the first thing that caught my attention was the fact that it’s set in 1995. I also liked the fact that it’s (seemingly) set during a rainy night. I think I would have enjoyed the game a lot more if I my 2010 Macbook Air was able to run the game well. Oh well, It’s still enjoyable.

 I kept what you said in mind and didn’t go upstairs, I spent almost 45 minutes exploring the entire first floor. I like how the story is told through various letters, and items regarding your sister. It keeps the story is interesting and keeps you guessing why Same isn’t around.

 I also like how there are references to Nintendo and Sam’s love of Street Fighter. And one wouldn’t know that their dad is having problems of his own in his writing career. Of course you wouldn’t know that unless you dig through a cabinet underneath a bar in a dark room.

 I think finding things out for yourself is a big part of the game and the storytelling as well. I can’t wait to find out what else happens.

Just Leave Me alone, Dammnit

GamesRadar, posted an article explaining how online multiplayer games have become anti-social gaming atmospheres. 

I know that I am guilty of this, but there’s a reason why. Growing up, I would play multiplayer video games in person with my friends or my brother. Once Xbox Live came around, I thought it was a neat opportunity to do the same, but play with my friends who were 20 minutes away.

Of course over the years that has changed drastically. Games used to require teamwork or a group of people talking to each other to get whatever the hell they wanted done. Nowadays that isn’t the case. When I go online in Battlefield 4, I don’t want to talk to anyone. I just want to kill people and waste about an hour. And then of course there’s the little kids who swear and make me feel old, the people who blast music through their mics, or the lone person just talking into the mic.

I usually just end up muting them all.

It makes me feel terrible because a game like Battlefield 4 pretty much runs on teamwork. Huge 64 player maps with teams of 32. And each player is put into groups of mini “squads” so they can efficiently work together. Of course, no one ever communicates.

The multiplayer world isn’t going to change. It’s stale. People have no motivation to do anything.