Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The 30 things about 2008

I know people like shit like this, so I decided to do this too. Not only that, it feels good to get this stuff all out in the open before year's end.

Eight Things I Liked in 2008

Crossover Fighting Games

My waiting for Smash Bros. Brawl finally came to end this year, and lo I was happy. The last month of speculation was both fun and frustrating (with dumbasses wailing about the things they wanted but didn't get), but very memorable in any case.
And when the days of Smash Bros. excitement had ceased, I was given another thing to get giddy about: a new Capcom VS. game! Tatsunoko vs Capcom kept me busy for the rest of the year, and I loved every minute of it. Thank you Nintendo and Capcom for your gifts to me!

Old Albums

I barely bought any new CDs this year...just the new Beck, Brian Wilson, and Sloan albums (I liked all three of them). However, I totally made up for it by buying and downloading a ton of older albums. Lots and lots of Bowie, some Beck, Pet Sounds...and others. It's been a good year for discovering music that I missed. I just recently added Ween's The Mollusk to that list, and it yet another excellent album. Thank you, learning how to use torrents properly!


Some people hate webcomics. I hate the bad ones (most of which can be seen skewered here), but found quite a few great ones this year. The major ones: This one and this one. Oh c'mon, I'm not going to tell you what they are...go read 'em, ya lazy jerk! I guarantee a million laughs, or your money back. And since I get paid nothing for this, you would get nothing back! Hahahahahahaha!

Ordering Online

Man, now that I can do this, I can get so many things. I bought comics I had only dreamed about! I imported a videogame all the way from Hong Kong! It's so fun and requires very little effort on my part.

Venture Bros.

My favourite show on TV. No other cartoon, and maybe even not-cartoon, has been able to combine loving geek references, great dialogue, and intricate storytelling like this one. Season 3 wasn't as strong as season 2, but it still had many brilliant moments throughout: the return of Henry Killinger, the Victorian superteam with Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde fighting Nichola Tezla in a blimp, the whole creepy climax in the Dr. Qym episode, pretty much everything to do with Sergeant Hatred, and the final two episodes with their awesome, bombastic action sequences.
I can't believe I have wait another year for another season. Le sigh.

Final Fantasy on XBox

Not that I actually care about FF anymore, but the E3 announcement of Numero 13 being on the 360 and the fanboy explosion was easily one of the funniest things ever. If only Metal Gear ended up on XBox instead of the fucking iPhone, oh the laughs we could have had!

Companies Remaking Games I Like

They remade two of my favourite games ever, Chrono Trigger and Kirby Super Star, for the DS. So now they can be the favourite games of everyone who didn't get to play them on the SNES....OR ELSE. Me? I didn't buy them. I have the originals, I don't need to waste money on that.

Downloadable Games

Lots of video game stuff this year! With games like Braid and Castle Crashers, and now Street Fighter II Remix, downloadable games have been getting a lot of publicity recently. And really, it's a good thing: a lot of games that would have never got off the ground are getting a better chance, and some genres long since extinct (like my beloved beat 'em ups) have the chance to be revived without people complaining about prices for arcade-type games. Plus, it means for simple to get into fun for us all. I am looking forward to the new age of the downloadable games!

Well, this is what I feel like doing today. Sometime soon..HATRED!

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Legion of Derp

I'll have that best of/worst of list thingy up tomorrow, probably. But now, for an amusing piece of Canadian politics!

Apparently, there's some sort of anti-abortion caucus up here, and its current chairman is a local lad. He hopes to re-open the abortion debate, which no one wants re-opened. Of course, his argument pretty much shows why he and his ilk will never be taken seriously.

Although apparently you can do a ton of shit with unborn fetuses and its perfectly legal! Let's huck 'em at cars!

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

2008 of ME - Top Videos

Just like last year, my favourite videos of the year (screw the next week or so, I'm doing it now):















tied with






(Watch the whole series, they're all worth it)

(Not embeddable, goddammit. Oh well, Not Work Safe)






Some of the picks would have been different if the posters didn't keep CLOSING THEIR ACCOUNTS.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Beat 'Em Up Christmas Part Two

And we're back. It's almost like this thing is live!

Multiplayer! And make it simple!

Of course, multiplayer is a must. A old, arcade-style beat 'em up becomes all the better if you can share it with a friend...or three, preferably. I'm probably not paying attention, but there doesn't seem to be many 4-player co-op games anymore.
Of course, for multiplayer, you need to set it up so that it's simple for another player to join the game. I know it's difficult, and developers usually set up different modes for solo play and multiplay (especially if it involves online). But it's so much more relaxing if your buddies can join in whenever they want, and you don't need to set anything up. It's an impossible dream, I know, but if Smash Bros. Brawl could do it with its Adventure mode...
Another thing: for multiplayer to really work, you need to make the game geared towards having multiple people. Otherwise, it's just more than one guy beating up a pack of enemies, not much different from solo. Make things more interesting in multiplayer games: throw in extra stuff you can't do alone, or give characters things that help a party. The above example, the woefully underrated Golden Axe: Revenge of Death Adder, has both: not only can two or more players perform a powerful throw move together, but one character even has a special move that produces enough healing items for 4 players. Another example is in the Simpsons arcade game, where if you have 4 players, you can pick up a police car and throw it at enemies. It's the little stuff like that which make the game way more interesting.

Make Battles Epic

At heart, beat 'em ups are just defeating wave after wave of enemies. Some games like to keep those waves small, and some, like Warriors of Fate (above) and Alien vs Predator, prefer to surround you with tons of enemies. This may seem unfair, but giving your characters a lot of good attacks, and giving you abilities like being able to throw enemies at other enemies, and things become managable. The epic battle concept is essential to one of the successors to the arcade beat 'em up throne - Dynasty Warriors, which is not coincidentally based on the same material as the example (Chinese war just needs to be huge, you know?) This concepy may not work in every game, but especially in a game with 3 or 4 players, surrounding you with plentiful adversaries makes things feel much grander.
One of the big problems with beat 'em ups is the lack of enemy variety. Since you're just throwing waves of them out, developers don't feel the need to make more than a dozen or so enemy types, and players notice. With the above idea, that makes it unlikley this kind of problem will be solved...but it is possible to give the illusion of variety. Just look at the old TMNT games, which gave the FOOT Soldiers different weapons all the time. Also, if you decide to have a variety of settings (and we'll talk more about that later), having a new set of enemies appear in every level might be a good idea to give the illusion of variety.

Speaking of epic and enemies, one of the most crucial elements of a beat 'em up is its boss fights. To keep giving off that grand atmosphere, bosses really need to be larger than life. One needs to put all their creativity into those battles, creating bosses that throw curveballs at the player whenever possible. Variety among bosses is absolutely essential, although reusing bosses for things like gauntlets (those dreaded things, although sometimes they just feel right). They need to be insane. And if the boss can't do it...surround it with minions, which Warriors of Fate does. Just make sure the boss rights are awesome, alright?

Go all out

One of things that make me love the beat 'em up genre is that the developers, especially in the arcade heyday, felt the need to make things insane. Look at the characters and settings in Battle Circuit: there's a billion things going on there, and you know what? It's great. In stage 2 you fight an Elvis impersonator in a disco ballroom, later you fight a baboon with a jet pack and a knight on a chariot pulled by slugs...and then you get to play as a pink ostrich with an eyepatch. That kind of anything-goes mentality just makes these games feel more fun.
Because you want to give players a greater variety, considering that the basic game is pretty simple, conceits that let your characters go from a forest to a sewer to the moon seems a far better fit. Even though the majority of the games, early on especially, were Double Dragon and Final Fight knockoffs, the genre has been free enough to go all over the map. And I myself prefer that - I'd rather fight martian robots in a jungle than some mohawked guys in an alleyway.
I think the gist of this is that you might need some hallucinogenics when making a beat 'em up to make it good. Don't feel the need to stick to anything...dammit, don't even feel the need to make any sense. Just go where the action is, even if it is the moon.

A little personality goes a long way...

To go along with the previously established fun atmosphere, it is imperiative the game have characters that are distinct and are just enjoyable to have around. This goes for both playable characters and bosses. This can be done through a variety of means: visual style, character designs, animations, and voice. One of the most fun things about Konami's beat 'em up efforts, like the above Violent Storm, is that they gave the bosses opening lines before the battle, and that was awesome. It made the bosses that much more enjoyable, because they felt like real characters.
In the end, all these elements combine to give a game a fun atmosphere. I guess there can be games that don't go for the goody kitchen sink approach...but when there are so many other dreary games out there, I'd rather just have something with a sense of humor.

Well, that's all I can think of right now. If any other ideas/inspirations comes up, I'll make a new part, probably under a new title, because calling something Christmas in May seems a tad dumb

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A Beat 'Em Up Christmas (Part 1)

I've been saving this up for a while.

I've been spending a great amount of time over the last few years watching many arcade game videos on Youtube. Through it, I have discovered my love of the beat 'em up genre. It's a simple genre, one that most have played at one point or another. It's a genre that is woefully underrepresented in the modern game landscape, with only homages (like Castle Crashers) and descendants (the action games that are based on Devil May Cry). And while Crashers is a start, I'd love to see the good ol' straightforward mutliplayer games more often.

Considering how simplistic the genre is, I understand how hard it can be to make it right. But by looking into a variety of classic games, I have seen the elements in them that make them so good. Any beat 'em up that wants to be great, too, may need to take the following pointers to heart:

Large Movesets

This is one of the simplest, but most essential, things to have. Considering that the extent of the gameplay is "go over there, beat up those guys", it's a good idea to give the players a variety of ways to beat up those guys over there, so it doesn't get boring. Aside from the standard combos, air attacks, throws, and clearing moves, give them some fighting game-style special moves with different effects, more throws, hell even a dash attack would be cool. Games like the above example, Guardians, give their characters HUGE movesets, which added to the fact that there many characters to play as (see next suggestion), adds to the variety and options you have for gameplay.

In conclusion, while Double Dragon and even Final Fight have their place, basing your character movesets on those types of games is not the wisest of moves. Give players options, people!

Characters who are Different

The above game, Gaia Crusaders, has 7 playable characters in total (5 at the start, and 2 more who become available halfway into the game). Each of them have a unique fighting style, which adds to the variety the game gives the player (you could play the game as the kickboxer, or the robot, or the magician, and each would give you a slightly different experience). This is something that's been around since Final Fight, and could easily be expanded upon. Yes, give us the fast/slow/balanced guys, but think about other stuff, like controls and what moves they have (Haggar and the wrestler-style characters are the most obvious example), give them little other things that they could do, like having characters with certain attacks be able to interact with the environment in different ways. Wall Jumping, how they use weapons, their reach...there's a ton of stuff to work with to make sure each character is unique and fun to play as.


Crime Fighters 2 (AKA Vendetta) is famous for the amount of items you can pick up and use as weapons. Aside from the standards like knives, you can use shotguns, whips, sandbags, bricks, beer bottles...pretty much anything not nailed down. Other games, like Alien vs Predator include a large number of firearms, with ammo, that can add to the experience. Not every great beat 'em up has such weapon variety, but damn does it make the game that much more fun. And even modern games get it: the beat 'em up-inspired Dead Rising lets you use pretty much a whole mall's worth of stuff to kill zombies.
So let players pick up up things, and give them all the weapons you can make. And hey, since we were talking about character variety, have certain characters be allowed to pick up heavier objects, or be more effective at wielding certain weapons. Synergy!

Oh, and another thing also demonstrated in the above game: down attacks! They usually end up in the more simplistic games, but man is it fun to curb stomp your enemies. I think down attacks, much like weapons, are not essential to a great game, but they add to it. One of the few little things I didn't agree with in Castle Crashers was that you could only stomp enemies once.

This is it for now. Hopefully I'll get the next one up tonight or tomorrow, but right now I need a break.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008


My work is done. Hurray for two weeks of freedom!

I'll probably do my next update on Christmas eve at this rate.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Beedly Beedly Beed

Last work of school is almost done. Week of Christ mass is almost here. Once that is done, then a full post about...things.

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Saturday, December 06, 2008


Fuck yeah, Christmas Month!

The Days of Reckoning is upon me, and I am confident I will succeed.

I don't have anything interesting to say right now.

I do have plenty of year end interesting posts planned, though!

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