Cuphead has inspired me to reflect on my personal history with this wonderful genre. We’ll be covering heavyhitters like Contra, Gunstar Heroes, Metal Slug, as well as some more obscure entries. Introducing the classic sidescrolling run ‘n’ gun:
I grew up in the 32-bit era with only limited exposure to the 16- and 8-bit systems. As a result my first encounters with traditional run ‘n’ gun games were via the Wii’s Virtual Console. Here, I played two of the most iconic run ‘n’ guns ever made – Contra III and Gunstar Heroes. Let’s kick off this trip down memory lane with a by now classic debate, a mainstay of 16-bit console warring. Contra III vs Gunstar Heroes: which is better? Continue reading
I recently decided to trim my game collection. I’ve said it before, but I don’t consider myself a collector. And yet despite this, over the years I’ve accumulated what amounts to a collection. At my last proper count, back in 2016, I owned 250 physical games. And that number has only gone up since 2016. So it was a pleasant relief to offload around 100 games recently, with plans to get rid of more soon.
Why now? Well, as someone who gets pleasure from playing games rather than simply owning them the numbers just weren’t making sense. I’ll try and break it down mathematically. Let’s say that I play on average one unique game per week. Extrapolating from that I would play something like 52 games in a year. That’s a fifth of my game collection, circa 2016. Not a great figure! Especially when a large portion of the games I play are newly acquired and not from my enormous backlog.
Given that it would take an estimated 5 years to play through every game I own… it’s just not worth it. I have a new philosophy about possessions: owning an item – storing it, holding onto it – has a cost. Usually it’s not financial (although it could be), but there is something we might call a mental cost or burden. The question then is what is worth more – the mental cost of owning an item or the financial cost of replacing it at a later date?
This reasoning has helped me to ditch a lot of stuff that, frankly, is so cheap and easy to replace that I wonder why I never pulled the plug sooner.
And so, the grand finale. Highlights from the hall of shame.
So did anyone happen to catch the recentish video from James Rolfe, aka the Angry Video Game Nerd covering Amiga CD32 games? If not, it’s a highly recommended watch. Here it is.
This video speaks directly to me in a way that no other AVGN video ever has previously. I mean that literally by the way, as James Rolfe addresses me personally in this video when discussing Kang Fu:
What if you bought this when it was new? What if you played this when it was new? Did anyone actually grow up with this game? Imagine the psychological effects!
Well hey, that’s me. Because I didn’t grow up with Sega or Nintendo in my home. I had Commodore. I know there are many people in the UK who loved their Amiga, alas I was not one of them. Where sweet nostalgia should be for Amiga games there is a void of befuddlement and disappointment. Watching this video today is truly vindicating as it showcases several crappy games I was subjected to as a child on my dad’s Amiga computer: Gloom, Oscar, Zool, and the absolute lowlight of this video, Kang Fu.
My relationship with videogames didn’t change for the better until the year I got an N64 for Christmas and my parents upgraded to a Windows 98 PC. Now that’s what I call an upgrade!
I’ve always shied away from the topic of console mods. Perhaps because it’s the kind of discussion that can result in bannings from forums and websites, auctions being shut down on eBay, that sort of thing. It’s a legal grey area – not the act of modding itself, but what modding can allow for. At the risk of indicting myself, I’m writing about it here because I find it to be an interesting topic that I hear and read little about in mainstream circles. So to begin with, let’s talk about what modifications are out there, and why someone might want to modify their console in the first place, and then I’ll talk a bit about my modded Saturn and PlayStation. Continue reading
Happy New Year everyone! I have very few traditions on the blog but this is one I enjoy, always a fun way to kick off the new year. Alas here I am with preparing for my only end of the year tradition and I discover I didn’t even do one of these for last year, 2017! *sigh*
Never mind though and we’ll press on in the spirit of renewal. 2018 was a bit of an odd one: an unreasonably large number of the games I played in the first half of the year were disappointing. A lack of inspiring games is partly why I blogged very little – my socks just weren’t being consistently rocked by the stuff I was playing.
Then in the second half of the year things changed when I finally picked up a Switch. At the same time, reluctantly, I packed away my old CRT TV. Some weeks later I decided to re-dedicate myself to blogging, and since then I’ve been more thorough than ever before in terms of my output, writing about most of the games I played these past few months.
Given my journey this year and how consistent I’ve been with blogging lately, all of the games featured here I played in the first half of 2018, prior to my Switch purchase. Enough pre-amble, bring on the highlights! Continue reading
With Christmas now officially over and New Year on the horizon it’s a good opportunity to reflect. I’ve been on a strong gaming kick this year since getting the Switch – even more than usual, and it was already “on” as far as gaming goes. My history with games is full of ebbs and flows but the level of flow recently is starting to make me uncomfortable.
I’m reading a book, ‘How Music Works’ by David Byrne (lead singer of the Talking Heads), and there’s a line that got me thinking. Byrne quotes the philosopher Theodor Adorno who described the experience of listening to music alone as an ‘opiate’. Byrne unpacks the idea: ‘like a drug, instead of bringing real happiness, the music heard on jukeboxes only creates more desire for itself’. As a music fan this reasonates with me to an extent. And If we apply that to games, it’s the idea that playing games doesn’t produce any tangible benefit – rather all it does is increase our desire to play more. Continue reading
You let me down. I posted almost two weeks ago about a cool shoot ’em up called Blazing Star – that’s Blazing Star by the way and not Blazin’ Squad, a frequent misnomer in my house. Anyway, I explicitly mentioned I had Blazing Star on Switch. And yet not one person piped up in the comments to warn me about… Caravan mode. That’s right, it’s thanks to your negligence that I’m in a mess of trouble! For the lucky ones who don’t know, caravan mode is a five minute only score attack mode included in every NeoGeo re-release put out by Hamster, complete with online leaderboards.
After I completed that post, I decided to take a quick peek at the high score modes Hamster included. That “quick peek” soon became an arresting diversion, swiftly followed by addiction and then obsession. And now look where we are.
All I can say is I hope you’re satisfied. I do not feel I should bear responsibility for this tragic turn of events. Even so, reluctantly, I must beg for your help. Can any from among you put an end to this madness? Are there any willing to take on the caravan challenge, and de-throne my score?
Yours five minutely (and no I can’t pause),
Adrian, aka Maya