Throwback Thursday: Mario Paint

Platform: Super Nintendo
Release Date: 1992

Platform: Super Nintendo| Release Date: 1992

Nintendo is well known from their quirky gimmicks. We all remember the tragic release of the Nintendo Glove, the Wii motion controls, and the annoying Friend Code system. Perhaps one of the very first Nintendo gimmicks came with the game Mario Paint. At that time in the early 90s, basic home computers were starting to gain momentum in technology culture. Mario Paint saw to profit off of this strange, magical box known as a “computer” by the use of a computer mouse as a controller. As silly as it sounds, this was actually (in my opinion) one of Nintendo’s best gimmicky addons as it contributed a great deal to the style and cuteness of Mario Paint.

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WHY IT WAS GREAT

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titleMario Paint is set up like a series of computer programs, all playable with the use of a mouse. Players are immediately thrown into an immersive environment free of tutorials or instructions, so you can freely play around with the various tools and games at your disposal. As the title implies, you can “paint” various Mario scenes using dozens of colors and textures of your choosing. You can even create your very own scene using Mario textures and character stamps of classic 8 and 16 bit characters.

Probably the most memorable feature is the music game. Here, players can create their
very own song using silly in game sound effects like dog barks and cat meows. You can be as simple or complex as you’d like, as people have gone so far as to compose famous modern songs using the in-game sound effects.

What made Mario Paint truly amazing was the fact that amateur animators can use the games’ animation programs to paint simple looping animations, add music to them using the in-game music generator, and even record animations on a VHS tape. Gamers were essentially creating movies in the early 90s using their Super Nintendo, which is pretty goddamn amazing.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

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After nearly 25 years, some claim that Mario Paint is the most innovative thing Nintendo has yet to develop. Especially given the time of release, immersive and experimental games simply didn’t exist in the gaming culture. Mario Paint and the Nintendo Mouse both create a simple, fun game that you can easily sink hours without even realizing it. Go deeper into the music recording and animation programs and you’ve got a whole new beast on your hands.

Throwback Thursday: PlayStation

Platform: Sony| Release Date: 1994

I remember unboxing this strange grey box one Christmas morning, 1997. I was nine years old, and I had worn in my Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. All of the sudden, these strange discs were now being used instead of cartridges. Characters were blocky and shapes were 3-dimensional, and those damned CGI cutscenes were something to die for. This grey box we all know and love was, of course, the very first Sony PlayStation. It’s hard to believe that this was almost 20 years ago, and Sony is still in the release of these juggernaut systems every couple of years, and each release brings new and exciting technology for us all to share.

Why it was great

playstation_one_original[1]Honestly, why wasn’t it great? The PlayStation introduced full fledged disc based games, which brought in a whole slew of opportunities in game storage graphical prowess. I remember first getting “Croc: Legend of the Gobbos” and “Spawn: The Eternal” with our family Christmas present and being completely blown away by the superb details of the games. My brother bought Final Fantasy VII with his Christmas cash, and then that was it. My gaming years were set, and my preferred genre was chosen. I had since then became an RPG fanatic and, while I couldn’t get past that damned scorpion boss at the very beginning, I still enjoyed every second of that game.

Sony’s first PlayStation brought about endless possibilities with games, but it also had a lot of interesting Final_Fantasy_VII_Box_Art[1]things going for it as far as the hardware. The new Dualshock controller was a marvel bringing about slick controls and the bizarre, yet satisfying vibrating function (which I would often use to scare my cat). Having a memory card was also very new to me, and having a physical collection of saved data, so to speak, was something that I took personal pride in. “Look at all of these games I’ve played!”, I would think to myself. In actuality, most of said memory cards were full of Final Fantasy VII, VIII, and IX save files.

Final thoughts

Keep em comin, Sony. You release and I’ll be there throwing money at you. The PlayStation systems have always seemed to deliver on their quality of games and functionality of the systems. Even with the rocky starts of the PlayStation 3 and 4, they always seem to get ahead of the game (pun totally intended). It’s even become a household name that seems to sum up all of gaming in sentences like “Turn off that doggon PlayStation!”. With the gaming culture merging into today’s social media scene, it will be interesting on how the direction of future PlayStation systems will turn out.

Throwback Thursday: Vectorman

Platform: Sega | Release Date: 1995

We all now how sweet Metroid is, and Samus is the epitome of badassery. She shoots cannons, can set bombs, rolls into a cool little ball, and wears a space suit. The only thing holding Samus and Metroid back was, well, Nintendo. Not that it was holding it back from being amazing, but at the time the Sega Genesis needed some love, too! Vectorman was the Sega version of Metroid. Although not nearly as cool as his female counterpart, Vectorman still had some nifty things going for him (minus the ball rolling, unfortunately).

Why it was great

Vectorman1One thing that Vectorman has going for it during this time of gaming was its visuals. Being a 16 bit Sega game, it looks pretty flippin amazing. The graphics, sound, and overall atmosphere were top notch. The bizarre, confusing, and faux-3D feel of the world didn’t make too much sense, but that simply added to its charm. Like Metroid, Vectorman is all about the 2D side scrolling adventure shooter, but I felt that with Vectorman the player is able to explore more of this strange environment than other games of its genre.

Unlike Samus, Vectorman uses some unique skillsets in order to take down enemies and traverse through the world. However, what sets Vectorman apart as that he’s able to transform into various objects. Some of which include a drill, bomb, and some crazy thing that is supposed to resemble a fish (or dolphin. I don’t even know). These power ups added a unique element to the simple gameplay mechanics of shooting, jumping and grappling. It was a fresh break away from the standard side scrolling shooters that we knew and loved.

Final thoughts

vectorman4_displayAt home, I had the pleasure of enjoying both a Sega and Nintendo. Having played Metroid and Vectorman, I can say that each game had its own special qualities that made it appealing. Nothing beats the supreme badass woman we know as Samus, but at least Vectorman got to show off some of his moves in the 90s when he was a bit more relevant. To this day, it’s still quite a fun game (and challenging, too), but all we need is a super next-gen reboot and we’ll all be good (insha’Allah).

The Silent Hills Debacle

If you’ve been following the gaming news lately, it would be hard to ignore the whole issue with the recently announced / canceled “Silent Hills”. In between rumors, debates, and frustrations from both devs and fans alike, I think it’s easy to say that everyone is more than just a little disappointed by this fiasco, but with Kojima’s departure from Konami, we really couldn’t have expected any less.

It all started out with P.T, a mysterious demo that appeared on the PlayStation Store last year. Standing for “Playable Teaser”, P.T invoked some pretty intense (albeit lost) emotions of the horror genre in gaming. It was dark, twisted, and in all honesty horrifying. Soon after, videos players’ reactions to the demo surfaced all over the internet. It was an enormous sensation, and that “Silent Hills” logo at the end of the demo felt like the icing on the cake.

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Why it was important

It’s been a long time since we got a half decent Silent Hill game. Up until the fourth installment (i.e The Room), each game after the next has been pretty crap. Muddled by horrendous controls, pitiful scare moments, and inconsistency with inexperienced developing teams made everyone believe that the series was dead. The survival horror genre as a whole has been laying low over the years with the uprising of a more horror/action influenced community, so playing through something that stayed true to the elements of the genre was a breath of fresh air.

Hideo Kojima, the mastermind behind the epic Metal Gear series, combines his talents with those of Guillermo Del Toro, the film director with equal creative prowess known for his impact on the horror genre. These two gentlemen are some of the best in their fields, and their combined abilities created something meaningful and truly artistic. P.T was the testament of that, and Del Toro even said that his game would “seep with atmosphere”. If you’ve seen any of his movies or played any of Kojima’s games, then you could only imagine what the two of them could have created together.

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The outcry

When word was received that it was canceled, fans were (and still are), completely devastated. Hopes were high for this game that seemed like it would break boundaries in the gaming community. This upset fans so much that fans have created a petition  for the two devs to get together and create a new IP not attached to Konami. With over 10,000 signers (even Norman Reedus, the star of the game, signed it himself), we’ve still no word on whether or not a new Silent Hills IP could actually happen. While the odds look glum, there’s no harm in trying to fight back.

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Until next time, sink fetus.

The rumors

Following the cancellation announcement came the rumors. The biggest rumor of them all was that of Microsoft’s purchase of Silent Hill’s for billions of dollars, and that the removal of P.T from the PS Store was to eventually place it on the Xbox Live store. It’s pretty ridiculous from the start, but PlayStation owners were worried that they would now have to purchase an Xbox One to play their long awaited title. Thankfully, Microsoft devs debunked this rumor with an official announcement on Twitter;

 

Final Thoughts

Nothing can really express my disappointment with the developers. I understand that it couldn’t really be helped, but I don’t really care about the issues Konami and Kojima had. This game was for the fans. It should always be for the fans. Whatever conflicts they had should have been resolved for the common good, but due to stubbornness, we all lose. At this point, all we can do is hope for those involved to resolve their differences so we can get what we’ve been waiting so long for.

Jason Voorhees: First Impressions

Mortal Kombat X has hit the ground running since release. Gamers have been raving over its smooth combat and ultra stylistic gore that we’ve all become accustomed to in the series. Recently, Mortal Kombat devs have been introducing some rather. . .interesting. . .characters to the series. In the previous MK reboot, Freddy Krueger made his big gaming debut and impressed many with the translation from the silver screen to our gaming systems. In Mortal Kombat X, Jason Voorhees makes an unexpected appearance and, like Freddy, “slashes” his way to the top. I’ve had a chance to play as Jason quite a bit, and I must say that he is an excellent contender in the Mortal Kombat universe.

What’s great

Jason comes with some interesting variations that introduce some new mechanics to the series. His traditional “Slasher” variation (my personal favorite), makes use of his machete to unleash devastating combos with super long reach and little room for punishment. Relentless Jason finally brings a true grappler to Mortal Kombat X. This variation focuses on grabbing, throwing, and shattering the bones of opponents in mid combo, dealing devastating damage. He also has a teleport, but it’s a bit slower than other characters’ teleporting attacks. Finally, his Unstoppable variation allows Jason to regenerate health and even resurrect at the end of each match with a fraction of his life replenished.

Jason’s gameplay aside, his very presence in the Mortal Kombat is unnerving. It’s just like the movies; he’s enormous and menacing. Even the way he walks is enough to give me the chills, especially when he has his iconic machete in hand.

What’s not

Really, the only poor thing about Jason are his fatalities. They’re pretty boring, especially his Sleeping Bag finisher. His slashing finisher, though, throws in some horror movie sound effect / camera angle nostalgia, but other than that they’re both pretty underwhelming and bland. I thought he would have something a bit more comical (like actually stuffing a body into a sleeping bag) or hail a throwback to pulling someone under a pool of water. But alas, I’ll take solid gameplay over fatalities any day.

Wrap up

Jason is a surprisingly balanced contender in the Mortal Kombat series. His looks fit the part, and his gameplay brings a lot of new ideas to the table that aren’t over or under powered. Three other characters; Tanya, Predator (omg), and Tremor have yet to be released, but based off of the success of Jason, there’s no doubt that the future characters will be quality!