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: The Last of Us

Platform: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4
Developer: Naughty Dog | Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: June 2013 / July 2014

The 26th of September, 2013 marked the day the Cordyceps Infection reached a critical mass in The Last of Us. Over two years after players were plunged into Naughty Dog’s post-apocalyptic universe, how does the game hold up?

This article will discuss the original and the Remastered release of the game as though they are one.

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WHY IT WAS GREAT

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Single Player

The vast majority of gamers agree that The Last of Us almost perfectly nails what a single player experience should be in a video game. The world Naughty Dog has crafted is simply beautiful. The attention to detail given to everything the player can see in the game allows what would otherwise be an otherwise be an overused video game ‘trope’ to become a work of art. Players begin feel an emotional attachment to Joel and Ellie (two name just two of the characters) as the story progresses, something that in part is achieved by the (excellent) animation department at Naughty Dog. Every minute change of expression or emotion can be felt from the character, not only because of the changes visible on their face, but those across their entire body.

Not only is the game visually stunning, the audio in the game is almost breathtaking. One particular moment that comes to mind is one early on in the game: the player is able to send Joel inside of an abandoned truck, where the sound of rainfall changes, becoming more metallic as it bounces off the roof of the truck. This sort of sound design certainly isn’t new to gaming, but the of care Naughty Dog gives to even the most uninteresting of things makes The Last of Us just that little bit more believable

The story told by The Last of Us is near perfection. Though set in a post apocalyptic world, the game manages to avoid become yet another zombie survival title. The story — for the most part — only dabbles in the worldwide issues, instead choosing to focus on issues faced by characters in the own individual worlds as though nothing else matters. The tale told by Naughty Dog allows the player to connect and relate with almost every character in the game, feeling their emotion, morales, drives and sometimes their downright misery.

Multiplayer

To some the multiplayer aspect of the game was merely a tacked on mode with little thought put into it. To others the mode was a fresh new take on what multiplayer could be in a game. Factions pitted the two… factions… from the single player portion of the game against one another in a 4V4 tactical shoot out scenario, with three modes to choose from. What made the multiplayer so great was and still is how it differs from almost every other multiplayer title out there. Rather than the fast, run ’em and gun ’em style shooter, the Factions mode in The Last of Us is a slow, tactical shooter where really the only hope of survival is to stick together and pick off the enemy team.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

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On a personal level, The Last of Us really does live up to the hype. It deserves the praise and acclaim it still receives to this day and sits in the top few spots, if not the top spot of my all-time favourite games. Never before has a game made me feel genuine, heartfelt emotions towards a character, or shed tears when that happened. The game is so expertly and carefully crafted that it almost does nothing wrong.

 

The Last of Us is amazing and saying that doesn’t do it justice. We can only hope Naughty Dog will remain the Naughty Gods with the sequel to the game: There’s More of Us.

Throwback Thursday: Destiny

Platform: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Developer: Bungie | Publisher: Activision
Release Date: September 9, 2014

Destiny’s latest and greatest expansion The Taken King has arrived in its multitude of special and collector’s editions, putting the ‘Year Two’ plans of Bungie and Activision for the game into play. What better time to take a look back at the game Bungie were hoping to redefine a genre with upon launch, bringing us new ways to play, to experience a story like no other and much, much more.

This article discusses the base Destiny game only and none of its subsequently release expansions

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WHY IT WAS GREAT

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While Destiny failed at nailing the story-telling aspect of Bungie’s genre-redefining vision, it certainly nailed the gameplay. The speed, mobility and gunplay were (and are even more so with Year Two) excellent fine tuned, awarding players with a great sense of satisfaction when they manage to land the final blow to the head on their alien foes.

The three base classes meant that players always have the ability mix things up if they begin to feel their current persona is beginning to feel stale and while that was certainly possible, beginning to feel the sense of no progress certainly was not. Bungie excellently provided ways for player to continue their progression once they reach their level cap, offering new, hidden and Exotic armours and weapons to find.

In short: Destiny simply got better the more you played it. Guardians really only got a true taste of what the game had to offer once they had gotten the mediocre-at-best story mode out of the way and had greener PvE and PvP pastures on the horizon.

Of course, Destiny also completely nailed the sense of community. Few other games manage to feel like Destiny do when you play. Locales are alive with other players from all over the world. Other players taking part in random public events, or farming from the legendary Loot Cave. That sense of community only felt even stronger within Raids, in which only parties capable of the highest level of coordination would succeed.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

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Destiny, while it had it shortcomings, was great. Bungie seems to have ironed out the kinks on the shirt that is ‘Year One’ and now offers an even better experience than when the base games launched just one year ago. Really, what makes Destiny so great to this day is the sheer amount of fun you can get out of the game and it’s as simple as that. Unless of course you dislike sci-fi, first person shooters.

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).