Back With A Revengenance!

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I’m back. My new PC is up and running “gud” so it’s time to get back to business.

In the coming weeks you’ll get new episodes of both the Hart & Usagi and Space Suplex podcasts. Along with that I’ll also be coming soon with an update on my gaming progress (or lack of it, as the case may be). This update will focus on the purchases I’ve made during the weeks of downtime.

First up is new games!

I picked up Hotline Miami on the PlayStation Network for just $2.00. It gave me versions for the PS3, PS4, and Vita. Of Wolfenstein I got a local copy of The Old Blood. I would’ve had The New Order at the same time, but the case was broken and Best Buy didn’t have an copies to replace it. A new PSP was acquired too. This was a third import of the Kamen Rider Climax Heroes series entitled Kamen Rider Chou Climax Heroes.

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Onto newly bought movies!

I picked up Boyz n the Hood soon after seeing Straight Outta Compton in the theater last year, which I also bought. Both are very good and worth seeing.

Usagi704 improved his collection with a Steelbook of Casino as did I with For Your Eyes Only. I took the older version of the former film off of him for a bargain bin price.

On DVD is how I original saw The Mechanic (1972). It was on one of those very cheap three film sets on one disc deals. I upgraded to a stand-alone Blu-ray for ultimate in picture quality along with extras like my beloved commentary.

Other movies I got were: Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, The Legend of Billie Jean, Air Force One, and Samurai Pizza Cats (a 52 episode cartoon show).

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Now Playing: January 2016

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I decided to queue up most of the games I have that were featured at this year’s Awesome Games Done Quick which took place at the beginning of the month. These are games I have that were played at the event, but that I haven’t played as of yet.

First up was Donkey Kong Country. The unplayed aspect is actually untrue here as I had it back when it had been released in 1994. In fact, my copy is still the same one and it works great. I’m not particularly a fan of the DKC series or of Rare in general, but my overall experience this time around was less frustrating than in the past.

I’m currently on Jak 3. I played and beat the first game, Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, many years ago and avoided Jak II on reasons of unfair difficulty. This problem does seem to be addressed here though there can still be factors that are annoying from time to time. It’s less platforming than the first game and more shooting and driving.

I also finished Hotline Miami again (as I first did in 2014) only this time on the PS3. I bought the PS4 version recently for $2.00 and it came with the PS3 and Vita versions as well. It’s still quite a fun game as I remember.

THIS MONTH’S GAMING STATS:
* Donkey Kong Country – 4h19m; 42%
* Jak 3 – 5h1m; 44%
* Hotline Miami – Finished on PS3; 9 trophies

Game of the Year 2014

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I had a lot of fun throughout 2014, but the five games which stuck with me the most was Wild Guns, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Hotline Miami, Ratchet: Deadlocked, and Yakuza 3.

Natsume’s Wild Guns is a great game in the style of Cabal and Nam-1975. However, where those games were more plain, Wild Guns kicks up the action a notch with a meter that builds when enemy bullets are shot. Once full your character pulls out the Vulcan gun and is invincible. Is a great reward for such a risk taking measure to get there.

I’d already talked about Hotline Miami in my 2014 Biggest Surprise award, which it won, so check that out.

Ratchet: Deadlocked was the first of three Ratchet & Clank games I played last November and it was more fun than it was for me back in 2010. It had less mini-games to bother with and boxes to smash for bolts which I found to be a good thing. It made for a much more focused adventure. One for which I appreciated.

I love me some beat-’em-ups and, as usual, Yakuza 3 delivered. And while I feel it deserved a spot on this list of nominees for my Game of the Year, there was just too much of finding things for and tending to the kids in the game made it more tedious than I’d had liked. Still the combat portion of the game, once you get to them, is great as always.

Finally, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, a game I played for the first time in 2014, earned its way into my top three Castlevania games of the series. This is the conclusion I came to on episode 52 of the Hart & Usagi Podcast. Also, as you can see by the image at the top of this awards post, SotN has also earned my top award for 2014. At the time in 1997 it was a brand new experience for series veterans, but the game also remembered where it came from with nods to past titles like Simon’s Quest and Dracula’s Cruse. Just as I said then after playing it I say it now: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is rightfully an all-time classic.

Thanks for reading and make sure to check out the rest of my awards if you haven’t done so already.

Game of the Year 2014 – Biggest Surprise

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Surprises can come in a variety of forms. Sometimes it can be a game with an easier challenge than one would expect. Castlevania: Dracula X is a good example of this for me. It still has its moments of higher difficulty with expert enemy placement to trip the player up. However, seeing many opportunities to fall into a bottomless pit during the fight with Dracula can be intimidating. Surprisingly, as the award is titled, it was much less of a problem than it seemed at first glance.

Another surprise was the online co-op mode for 2012’s Syndicate. In single player the game is very by-the-numbers in design, but the co-op makes for a much more exciting and fun experience. When I teamed up with friends, which I enjoy doing anyway, the teamwork needed to finish a level was very satisfying.

Despite those two games above being a fun surprise, no game surprised me more than Hotline Miami. I’m not one to jump to quickly purchase a digital download version of a game even when praised as much as this one was. It’s a good thing I didn’t because I was given a free code to download the game on Steam. I played a bunch of games I’d had sitting on the Steam service and not touched in 2014. Hotline Miami was surprisingly much more fun than I was expecting. I even did a speed run of the game in 1 hour and 49 minutes.

The weapons and masks for certain abilities are all fun to use. The hospital level I could’ve done without, but at least it served its storyline purpose. A very brutal game which would also win the Most Viscerally Satisfying Game award from 2011 if I was offering it up this year.

Hotline Miami comes highly recommended and I don’t say that lightly.

Now Playing: October 2014

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Well, folks, it has been a fun and enjoyable October. This’ll conclude my 5th Annual Halloween Gaming Event where you voted on what games I’d play. This year it was all about the Castlevania series (and I do like my Castlevania games). I played two of three of the top vote getters and they were Order of Ecclesia (update 1 and update 2/finish) and the vastly underrated Dracula X on the Super Nintendo.

Even prior to the event starting I’d played through another Castlevania game, namely the classic Symphony of the Night. It was also talked about at the beginning of episode 51 of the Hart & Usagi Podcast along with more discussion of it within the series as a whole on episode 52.

In addition I also performed a speed run through Hotline Miami. The total time, including all of the bonus levels, was 1 hour and 49 minutes. As I’ve very likely said before, it’s definitely one of my new top favorite games in recent memory.

Finally it wouldn’t have been Halloween without at least one run through of the TG-16 classic Splatterhouse! I did play it last year too, but this time around my skills were very rusty. I even lost a life on the very first stage and this is coming from a guy who previously had one credit cleared it on the secret Hard difficulty. I was able to finish the game before all of the credits ran out, but it was close.

Last year for November, besides voting, I played a bunch of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games dubbed #TMNTNov. Because I already have interest shown for something similar, I’ll be doing #RatchetNov. I’ll be playing as many unplayed Ratchet & Clank games I currently own. I’ll be starting off with ebbderelict’s choice of Ratchet: Deadlocked on PS2 and then move onto Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction on PS3 as picked out by SonicHomeboy.

Thanks for reading!

Now Playing: September 2014

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During this previous month of September, I played a bunch of Syndicate co-op on PS3 along with Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II, Hotline Miami, and Bastion via Steam.

My thoughts on the Sonic game and Hotline Miami are already laid out if you wish to read them.

As far as Bastion goes it hasn’t been very engaging like I was hoping for. I think my interest in the game had mainly to do with Greg Kasavin being involved with the development of it since he is working with a talented team at Supergiant Games. I always enjoyed his work from his time at GameSpot and respected his opinion a great deal. However, despite all that and how wonderful looking Bastion is, the minute-to-minute gameplay is rather boring to me. I hate to say it, but that’s simply the way I feel about it. I’m not finding myself drawn back to play it. Bastion is just there.

Syndicate, though, was a very fun co-op experience even if pretty tough at first. The reason for the high difficulty is that the game doesn’t scale the challenge down for a group those numbers are any less than the maximum of four. If you go at it along for with only one other person it can be mostly an impossible task. Otherwise the levels are tough, but doable if you take your time and don’t rush things.

The other side of the coin is also a reality. Once you’ve ranked up enough and have better abilities and skills, since it doesn’t scale the difficulty, the missions become quite easy. You can take a two or three man team of maxed out players and “Rambo” your way through will little care. This even goes for the usually tough enemies called agents. These guys sometimes heal each other in a similar way you can with your teammates via hacking. I eventually found the perfect combo of the Backfire ability and a shotgun to the face made quick work of any agent who was on my backside.

When all was said and done with Syndicate’s co-op, I pulled a “Call of Duty” and skipped over the single player campaign. I mean when you have an awesome game like Hotline Miami, that you didn’t know would be awesome at the time, in your immediate future, you just don’t have time to waste on mediocre story mode.

For more of my thoughts on Syndicate make sure to check out episode 52 of the Hart & Usagi Podcast!

Lastly, don’t forget to vote for what I’ll be playing for Halloween throughout the month of October. Details here!

Hotline Miami

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I have to say I didn’t know if I’d like Hotline Miami all that much before playing it. Well thanks to @Gigastormz, who hooked me up with it last year on Steam, I had a blast playing it.

I did hear about the soundtrack and how amazing it was before I ever played a second of the game. Other than one specific track, Perturbator, I wasn’t thinking it was amazing like a lot of other people. However, I did think it was very possible that within the game itself, while playing it, the music would work best for me. As it turns out this was the case. I think @lightnarcissus put it best in late 2012.

“Hotline [Miami] is like a house of cards. Every element of it is essential to its feverish experience. Remove anyone and it all falls apart.”

He’s absolutely right about that. The only thing that could make the experience better would be to get out my DVD season set of Miami Vice and play it on the TV set next to me!

New Releases 2013: Sept. 15-28

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WEEK of 9/15
Grand Theft Auto V (PS3, X360)
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD (WU)
The Wonderful 101 (WU)

WEEK of 9/22
Armored Core: Verdict Day (PS3, X360)
FIFA 14 (PS3, X360, WII, PSV, PS2)
Pac-Man Championship Edition DX+ (PC)
Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 (PS3, X360)
Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure (PC, 3DS, WU)
Shadow Warrior (PC)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (PS3)

Hey Microsoft! (a collection blog and short story)

Hey Microsoft! I have some TV for you. It’s called Xena: Warrior Princess and this is season 2. It’s funny, but I don’t need your Xbox One to watch it. I have all I need right now multiple times over. You should know about the format. It’s called DVD. I know, I know. That’s SO last generation.

Hey Microsoft! I also bought Power Rangers S.P.D. for the Game Boy Advance from It’s About Games. I bought it USED and I know how much of a criminal I am for doing such a legal thing. But when you look at it as it is in REALITY you find out that these video game stores can’t exist unless they sell used products. It’s not like their $2 profit on a $60 new game is going to keep them in business.

Hey Microsoft! Gigastormz was a really nice dude and hooked me up with a free Steam copy of Hotline Miami. You know Steam, right? It’s that digital platform from Valve Software who know how to price digital versions of retail games. You know, by actually giving a discount. But I wouldn’t want to give you actual good ideas for Xbox Live or anything.

Hey Microsoft! Another free Steam game came along from Devolver Digital in the form of the original 1997 PC game Shadow Warrior. They’re the crew publishing the upcoming remake from the developer Flying Wild Hog. It’s a much better game to give away for free unlike crap nobody wanted like Undertow. Again, I apologize for giving you such great ideas.

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Onto books with actual paper and printed words in them. I picked up paperback versions (because I’d rather that over hardcover) of four of Mick Foley’s books. I did read “Have a Nice Day!” around the time it came out, but didn’t own it. I always wanted to read at least “Foley Is Good” too. I do like this cover for “Countdown To Lockdown” over the original. It had a huge title taking up most of the cover which I didn’t think looked great.

* Mankind: Have a Nice Day! (735 pages)
* Foley Is Good: And The Real World Is Faker Than Wrestling (574 pages)
* The Hardcore Diaries (371 pages)
* Countdown To Lockdown (377 pages)

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Thanks for reading and have a nice day!