Monday, November 2, 2009

Ode to Arcades: My Best Arcade Experience

Everyone knows that arcades are not as widely used today as they once were in this country. There was a time when every town had at least one arcade, it was the place where kids and adults alike could go and enjoy their favorite games in an atmosphere all its own. I've talked about my love of the arcades of yesteryear before in this blog, bust mostly talking about how they came and went. Today I want to make it a bit more personal.

When I was growing up in urban South Florida, there was a fairly large arcade only about a mile from my house called BigFoot's Arcade. BigFoot's Arcade was a constant throughout my childhood, the place where I went when I got good grades, the place where I first went to talk to girls, the place where my friends and I would go during Summer - reading comics, drinking Lemonade, and playing all the latest games til closing time.

I have many memories of that beautiful place, with all its electronic sounds assualting my ears, its strobing lights dazzling my eyes, the calls and whistles of exuberance and defeat. My favorite being the day the planets must've aligned, because for that single day I was a Mortal Kombat GOD, untouchable.

Pitchers have no-hitters. I had a no-loss. It started off like any other arcade day, I waited for my turn in Mortal Kombat 2. Arcade etiquette dictated that if a person won in a fighting game, they usually had to keep playing, taking on all challengers. That winner could quit if he wanted to, but it was generally frowned upon if he did. He was supposed to keep playing until he lost or until his party had to leave.

So I waited for my turn and played the winner at the time. And I beat him. Easy. And then I beat the next challenger, and the next challenger. Then the next and the next. Before I knew it I garnered a large crowd, and the sun had long since gone down. There were few people who still wanted to challenge me and finally someone stood up to face me right when the owner of BigFoot's Arcade announced that would be the last game of the day. He looked confident. Perhaps he had seen a flaw in my strategy? A minor tic he could exploit?

I picked Sub-Zero, he picked Scorpion, and the battle began. The guy was good, I will give him that. I lost my first round easily, he got a perfect on me. I almost lost my cool, but I game him my classic combo:


Roundhouse Kick:

I beat him and life was good.

Real good.

The crowd cheered and the arcade closed and for that single moment, there wasn't a better Mortal Kombat 2 player in the world. That was easily my best arcade experience. What's yours?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Rare to produce Project Natal FPS?

Remember the video game company Rare? You know, the guys behind Battletoads, Killer Instinct, Donkey Kong Country, and the stellar Goldeneye 007 for the Nintendo 64.

Well of all the companies out there, Rare announced that they are working on a first person shooter venture for the much anticipated Project Natal software from Microsoft.
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In case you forgot, Project Natal was the groundbreaking motion technology Microsoft demoed at E3 this year. The technology allows for full body movement to be captured in a game, without the need for any controller or peripheral. What's more, Project Natal allows you to scan your own real world items (like a skateboard) to be used in a virtual game. Microsoft claims that Project Natal will be bundled with every Xbox 360 in the future, and that the technology will take the motion control craze started by the Nintendo Wii to new and exciting heights.

And now we know an FPS by the heroes of yesteryear, Rare, is in development. I wonder how you play a first person shooter without a controller? With your fingers?
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Is the Wii 2 on its Way?

Late-breaking news! claims they have an exclusive insider leak into the specs of the brand spanking NEW Nintendo Wii 2!

MaxConsole says they're getting their information from, a site that they say has brought them exclusive "insider" information in the past. According to the leak, the Wii 2 will have Blu-Ray support, with a secondary purpose of curbing piracy, an issue the Nintendo Wii has contended with since its launch. What's more, the new Wii is going to sport 100% High Definition 1080p graphics, the likes of which will rival the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360!
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The leak claims the console will be announced relatively soon and that it will go on sale sometime late next year. And the very best news? MaxConsole also says there will be an incentive program that will allow consumers that already own the Nintendo Wii to trade it in for a discount towards the new Wii 2! Nintendo fans rejoice!!

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Friday, October 23, 2009

New PS3 Blog!

Hey everyone! I'm going to be leaving Gaming Goodies behind for the time being and focusing on my new PS3 exclusive blog that you can find here:

Make sure to check it out!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Frightfully Good: Dead Space

Continuing on with my Frightfully Good Games series in lieu of the holidays, I present EA's stellar 2008 survival/horror title Dead Space. Taking place in the distant future on a mining ship traversing the stars, you play as Isaac, the ship's engineer. Your ship runs into altercations out in open space and after a series of crashes and explosions your crew goes off to see what's wrong with the ship. As the engineer, your duty is with the ship's interior, making adjustments and repairs. It's then that you realize that something got onto your ship after the crash, some things that are now in the ventilation system, rummaging through the supplies, and terrifying the other few workers on the ship.

One of the things that made Dead Space so terrifying was who you were playing as. Isaac is no Master Chief. He's no fighter, no hardened general. He has no military training, no survival training, and doesn't know any martial arts. Isaac is only an engineer, just a regular worker like the rest of his crew. Therefore the only weapons at his disposal are the regular (if not futuristic) tools of his profession. Soddering tools, cutting tools, futuristic saws, these are the only things you have with you. EA put a great deal of work into the creatures that populate this nightmare, and in doing so created the game's primary fighting mechanic. Whereas in other games, a pistol shot to the head is usually the best way to take down a baddie, the monsters of Dead Space has to be dismembered. That's right, dismembered. Because a shot to the face won't slow them down, you have to twist your cutting tools to chop off arms, legs, appendages, and (of course) their heads. It's a gruesom and wildly satisfying combat mechanism.

The combat is great, but the overall atmosphere is just as important. As the title suggests, you don't often hear any ethereal music to try and heighten the tension, often all you hear as Isaac walks through his battered ship is...nothing. Silence. There'll be the squeezing of vapors through ventilation, the sliding of doors, the click-clack sounds of the monsters inside the walls of the ship. But when you step out onto the outside of the ship, into literal dead space, the absolute silence is the eeriest feeling of all. Dead Space is a wonderfully crafted nightmare, a title whose polished strengths easily outweighs any minor flaws, and the best part is...

Dead Space is available on the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Windows PC. If you haven't played this amazing game yet, get ready for one terrifying ride.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Frightfully Good: F.E.A.R.

It's that time of year and the Halloween festivities are just starting to pick up speed. As the leaves are changing and falling, and the weather gets colder and colder, maybe you'd like to get into the spirit of things with a few frightfully good games? The horror genre is a wide and wonderful genre in gaming, spawning a number of great and memorable titles. Although there are examples of these horror games in the past, as technology gets better and graphics become more realistic, these days developers can dish out some truly horrific titles. And these days the budgets for video games rival those for blockbuster films, so it only makes sense that horror, and its many subgenres like survival/horror, will be extremely popular. One of my recent favs is the F.E.A.R. series, that first made its debut on PCs in 2005, and then on the Xbox 360 and PS3 in 2006.

As the name suggests, there's a great deal to be afraid of in the title. In the game, you played as a member of the First Encounter Assault Recon, a special government task force that investigates paranormal activity. You face a number of "super soldiers" who are at the command of a terrifying "girl" named Alma, seen above. The game's story is unravelled bit by bit as you play so you'll just have to play it to find out just what Alma is. F.E.A.R. takes a lot of cues from Japanese horror films, where they're more concerned with the "psychology of fear" rather than things that jump out at you. That being the case there are some real "OH MY GOD" moments in this title, and the atmosphere can get EXTREMELY terrifying. Long dark hallways, lights that flicker as you walk by them, sounds that come from behind you, strange things happening in the corner of your eye. What's more Alma has the power to give your character horrifying hallucinations, from thinking you're seeing something you're not, to actually creating things you're forced to fight. The effect is tremendously entertaining.

A sequel to F.E.A.R. came out earlier this year called F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin. Alma has grown up and the tricks she'll play on your character as you play are just as mindblowing as the first. F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin is also for the PC, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3. Pick it up and have a scare!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Borderlands Review

As I said before, Borderlands is one of my most anticipated titles of the year. Gearbox, the company behind it, has taken a big risk with the direction, the art, the release window, and the premise of this game and I think they will be rewarded in spades. Well Borderlands is out today! And the reviews have been pouring in and they are extremely positive. Included is a section of the GamePro review for Borderlands, who felt it was a great title that suffered from a few minor flaws.

Lonely Planet:
Rolling around the open areas as a lone wolf is certainly enjoyable-solitude accentuates the tension of dangerous situations, especially when you can hear the phenomenal soundtrack instead of your raucous pals-but it's just not the best way to play. With nobody to cover your flank and no one to pull you out of the muck when you run into trouble, the single-player mode becomes a lonely experience.
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Everything fell into place perfectly based on our agreed roles and there's an addictive quality here that's on par with Diablo, where the constant promise of new doodads and skill tree bonuses were enough incentive to keep you up way too late. The back of the box brags about "BAZILLIONS" of guns to discover, and given the visual and statistical variety of each weapon I stumbled across I'm not willing to challenge Gearbox's hyperbolic chest-beating just yet.

Let's Do That Again!

There's no doubt that Borderlands has its faults but everything that exists around those sticky spots is incredible. The fun I had with the rock-solid gunplay and extensive role-playing elements was considerably amplified by each additional player. Borderlands is an absolute blast that I'll go back to again and again, even if my friends aren't around to help out. Considering how great of a time I had in Pandora, though, I expect they'll be around for a while too.

PROS: Co-op loot-scavenging rocks; great graphics, style and music; RPG/FPS hybrid is outstanding

CONS: Single-player suffers from co-op focus; the story is interesting but it feels a tad shallow

There you have it! Get some friends together, free up a weekend, and plunder the lost planet of Pandora to your looting and shooting heart's content! Borderlands comes out TODAY for the Xbox 360 and PS3. Windows PCs will get it on the 26th.
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