Now Playing: August 2012


This is edition of Now Playing is a few days early, but I figured I’d go ahead with it since I had a bunch of fun I had to tell you about.

In a blog post from two weeks ago, I talked about my time playing several versions of Tetris and how I ended up doing in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. Once I was up and running with the sequel, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, it was much more entertaining. The manual really makes a difference, but so did the cheat codes of Moon Physics (Hold L1 ✕□←↑↓↑□△) and Perfect Balance (Hold L1 →↑←□→↑□△). ;) I wasn’t much of a fan of the New York or Philly levels, but the rest were quite fun and I certainly didn’t miss the lack of downhill levels. Both THPS1 and (more so) THPS2 are a better use of your money than the recent HD release. Why play a weak tribute to those fantastic titles when you can just play those games themselves!

This last Sunday I joined up with four others from GPY to play some of Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection. Each of us squared off in one-on-one matches until everybody faced all others in two matches in each of the three games included. I was able to obtain a win-loss record of 6-0, 6-0, 5-1, 1-5. I won with a total of 18 wins and 6 losses.

Lately if you’ve seen my GameSpot or Backloggery profile banners, you noticed what I was going to play next.

I started off with Rise to Honor. A game I played back in 2008, but didn’t finish. I did so after SonicHomeboy played and beat it. There were some frustrating points and the first one was on chapter 43 fighting Billy Soon. I was amazed that I was right before the final boss fight of the game, chapter 59 (atrium ambush), all those years ago and didn’t know it. Another thing I didn’t know about was the adrenaline dive during the gun fights. It was probably why I couldn’t get past where I was stuck.

The game has mostly fun beat-’em-up mechanics (which I approve of), but when the guns come out it feels more like “just get this section over with.” It’s not the worst thing you’ll ever play by any means, but not as well done. “Your lungs on fire?” Shut up Kwan!

The second game on tap was Klonoa: Door to Phantomile. I downloaded this PS1 title off of PSN earlier in the year. Just like with its sequel on the PS2, it’s an expertly crafted platformer with memorable events such as one of out right murder. Not something you’d expect in such a game, but damn it if they didn’t want that pendent! Totally recommended however you can get it (cheap PSN download, Wii remake, or big bucks for the original disc).

The final game I’m going to start soon is Half-Life 2: Episode Two (just as I said I would to NeonNinja). After that I’m thinking about doing a month of Nintendo. I’m not sure exactly what form it will be in. It might be first-party titles regardless of system or one specific system without regard for IP holder. Let me know which way I should go if you wish.

Thanks for reading and catch me on Twitter!

* Tetris DX – Score: 291,230
* Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 – Average money out of 13 skaters: $126934
* Klonoa: Door to Phantomile – 55/72 Rescued

Xtreme Wicked Tricks, Dude!


On the most recent episode of the Hart & Usagi Podcast I’d noted that Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was one of those games were I’d get frustrated fairly quickly, but I’m always beckoned back because the game is still genuinely fun. I still wasn’t able to get past the Burnside competition level. I decided I’d finish up with the game after getting as many tapes as I could with all of the skaters. The average was 19 a piece.

I got the urge to start up with the sequel (THPS2) a week ago. So far I’m taking my time trying to learn some of the levels and also adding the new Manual into trick combos. It’s going about as well as you’d expect with my “amazing” skills.

Moving onto a game I actually have skills to show for, Tetris on Game Boy, GB Color, and DS has been my portable title of choice. Specifically for Tetris DX I was able to best my previous effort ending on level 27 with a score of 274,090 and 274 lines.

I’ve played more recent editions of Tetris enough that I relied on the hold a piece feature that appears in all newer versions these days. It’s crazy how different you have to think about where to put which pieces when you can’t hold a piece or see more than the very next one. Also the line piece is much less common in showing up when you need it making it much more difficult to setup for a tetris and getting one a rare occurrence. Playing one of these older versions makes you appreciate the game changer some of these improvements really were.

Now Playing: July 2012


It’s time for Now Playing and I’d like to start off with the absurd…Neo Contra. It was suggested by 6h05tly shortly after recording the 16th episode of the Hart & Usagi Podcast, which he was a guest on.

Neo Contra is absurd in that it has a lengthly intro and cutscenes where the most ridiculous things happen. Near the end of the intro, Jaguer holds this katana vertical while kneeling on top of a jet while it’s flying and proceeds to cut a missile in half. The bosses’ names follow the formula of random noun + CONTRA (Guerilla, Plant, Pheromone, Animal, and Master).

I was able to finish the game on Easy which gives 30 lives and about six continues. It didn’t take long to figure out that the controls for where you were shooting didn’t work very well. Holding R2 stopped character for the left stick to aim in all directions. For L2 you are locked to just one direction, but can strife. Without holding either button you only shoot in the direction of movement. Since this game had an overhead view of the action a dual stick style of controls would’ve worked much better.

Another game I finished this month was Beyond Oasis. A short, but nonetheless entertaining action beat-’em-up light RPG. This Genesis title has the music stylings of one Yuzo Koshiro of Streets of Rage fame. It took me 6 hours and 46 minutes in total to beat.

Along with Beyond Oasis, I previously talked about Golden Axe III here. This is also one of four blog posts where I talk about Prince of Persia: Warrior Within and the PSP port subtitled Revelations. Check those out, if you will.

The most recent gaming I’ve been doing is with the recently bought original PlayStation game Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. I appreciate what this game (and its sequels) did for making what would’ve likely been a series I would’ve otherwise avoided if they came out more like Thrasher. The moves are easy enough to pull off, but very tough to master. At least that’s been my experience so far. The whole idea of putting the combos together to get high scores confounds me to no end. It probably has to do with the system being much deeper than it appears on the surface. I get the overall basics, but my skills haven’t gone much past that despite trying hard. I feel like there’s something to it all that I just don’t get.

The game itself definitely still holds up today, some 13 years later (as evident by the sales numbers of the HD release). Some of the levels don’t work especially well like the downhill style Mall and Downhill Jam. The levels that worked back then still do like Warehouse and School. Overall the game is still excellent. I just suck at it. :D

THPS Throwdown

I’ve been forcing a depletion of my video game wish list as of late. I’ve done this several times in the past, but this is probably the most severe. Not necessarily the most in number as it is of titles I wanted the most. I cleared out all systems pre-DS. This included Grind Stormer and The Punisher (port of Capcom arcade beat-’em-up) on Genesis, seven PS1 titles including Einhander and Darkstalkers, and my beloved GBA with Duke Nukem Advance among the six listed. This doesn’t mean I won’t jump at the chance to get them if I find them at a great price. I just won’t be actively looking for them.

Now onto a more positive take on lessening my wish list.

I happened to come across the crazy deals at Best Buy a few days ago and saw a number of more recent games on sale at $10. I already stated that I wasn’t going to bother with any Assassin’s Creed game after playing II and just wait for III. However, it was quite a deal to find AC: Revelations and despite the tower defense crap in the game I still picked it up.

These next set of titles are quite an odd thing for me to get. While I played some of them at the time, I didn’t get into the series quite like Jeff and Ryan of Giant Bomb did. It was very entertaining to listen to them reminisce about the old Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games in their Quick Look and Thursday Night Throwdown of the recently released HD version. Because of this and of how cheap they were on, I ordered the PS1 versions of all four games and this is on top of already owning THPS3 on GBA and THPS4 on PS2. I also got Puzzle Quest 2 for DS to get some fast and free shipping.


Vote On Next Game! #5 plus Replacement Games


I’d like to start off by thanking all of those that voted a little over two weeks ago. The winning games, Saints Row 2 and Metal Slug 3, were really fun. Since the previous time was a success, I bring you two lists of six games once again.

Just as before you may choose two games to vote for.

Selections via the fortune cookie on
Half-Life 2 via The Orange Box (PS3)
Captain Commando via Capcom Classics Collection Remixed (PSP)
The Legend of Kage 2 (DS)
Castlevania: Circle of the Moon (GBA)
Spy Hunter: Nowhere to Run (PS2)
Quake II (PS)

My personal selections.
Lost Planet: Extreme Condition (PS3)
Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror (PSP)
Retro Game Challenge (DS)
Gunstar Super Heroes (GBA)
Gungrave (PS2)
Strider 2 (PS)


The two games pictured above are new games replaced two other games in my collection.

The first one, Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, was bought after I decided to return the copy of Haze that I’d last talked about getting two days ago. I figured that I’d rather have this DS game now and will pick up Haze at some other time. For this game I also traded-in the extra copy of Twisted Metal: Head On that I had.

When it comes to Guitar Hero: Metallica, it’s the first title I’ve purchased within this series since the very first game from 2005. Because I still have the first game, I figured I’d get the PS2 version so I wouldn’t need to get another plastic guitar.

Thanks again for your time on commenting and voting and make sure to check out my last blog post if you missed it.

1997 Game of the Year


1997 was a pretty decent year for video games. That’s the year that North America saw the release of such hits as Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Final Fantasy VII, GoldenEye, and PaRappa the Rapper. Surprisingly enough while I’m aware of them, I have yet to really bother with any of those games. The Castlevania game is the only one that I currently have and I’ve yet to play a whole lot of it.

That’s okay since I have another set of five games that enjoyed at the time or since their release in 1997. Here are the nominees.

Bloody Roar (PS)
A fighting game from the arcade with an interesting beast gameplay mechanic. It’s still somewhat enjoyable to play even today.

Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back (PS)
Oh Crash. You and your fun original PlayStation games. How I still like them.

I haven’t played this game since it was released, but the experience of playing it has stayed with me.

Shadow Warrior (PC)
Here’s a game that modeled itself and its character after Duke Nukem 3D. Lots of funny one-liners and combat to match made Lo Wang a pun, I mean character to remember.

Street Fighter Collection (PS)
You really can’t go wrong with this collection as it included Super Street Fighter II, Super Street Fighter II Turbo (with much easier AI), and a rebalanced version of Street Fighter Alpha 2 with “Gold” added onto the end of the title.

1997 Game of the Year: Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back
Runner-up: MDK

Previous entries: 1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989 | 1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993 | 1994 | 1995 | 1996

11 Games and 75 Cents

Last Friday I went around to the local video game stores in my area to see how much I would get for trading in Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow. Along the way I picked up several games that I’ve had on my wish list.

Before I went out I checked the trade-in value of the game at They reward gamers for having the box and manual, which no other place does. For nothing but the game it was $6.88. However, since I have the complete package I can get $12.50.

The first place was called It’s About Games. Their response to my question was $7. After that I looked at their used game selection I acquired Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal ($14.99) and TimeSplitters 2 ($10.99). The one great thing about IAGs used games is that, just like eStarland, I don’t have to worry about the condition of the disc.

Next was onto Babbage’s in the Richland Mall. Aria of Sorrow’s value there was $5. The game I purchased was the original Splinter Cell for $7.99. I also tried to get Twisted Metal Black, but apparently they misplaced the disc.

Finally I went to EB Games. This place is the worst when it comes to the condition of used games that I’ve ever dealt with. Even so there are times that I’ll find a gem among all of the garbage. The two games that I found were in good to new condition wise. Midnight Club II ($9.99) was the one that was used, but in good working order. To my surprise a gem did show up in the form of Gungrave: Overdose. It was $14.99 and I didn’t expect to ever find it new, but obviously was glad I did. In fact it was Usagi704 that spotted it on the shelf. I also looked at the original Midnight Club, but it was too dirty, and Fireblade, to which I wasn’t shown the disc since the clerk said that it was horribly scratched. After my purchase I asked about the GBA game and was told it was worth 75 cents.

As soon as I heard that I was reminded of my previous experience trading with EB Games and the post I made about it entitled “EB Ripoff.” At least now I’m smarter about how I go about buying games.

The very next day I received my eStarland order. The package included: Apocalypse, Disruptor, Medal of Honor, and Medal of Honor: Underground. I first looked at these four games when Usagi and myself were having lunch at Subway. Next door was It’s About Games and Usagi asked me to buy Wipeout 3 for him and he would get me the money ASAP. I thought about it for a little bit and then figured what the hell he’s good for it.

So, after lunch we went into the store and I bought Wipeout 3 ($5.99) along with Arcade’s Greatest Hits: The Atari Collection 1 ($10.99).

All in all it was fun and I ended up with 11 games for $113.86. Not bad at all.