Throwback Thursday: Animal Crossing

Platform: Nintendo 64 / GameCube | Release Date: 2001 / 2002

Nintendo’s quirky village simulation game Animal Crossing would be one of the GameCube’s best selling titles, but it was actually released in Japan for the Nintendo 64 first. The graphics weren’t impressive, but the dynamic relationships you could build with animals that settled in your town were and the multitude of activities that could be partaken for fun or for profit was enough to keep gamers hooked for hours, days and years. There was fishing, clothing design, bug catching, fossil collecting and more plus games-within-a-game with a naively generous selection of fifteen NES games which could be played in full.

Tomorrow is the release of Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer so it’s a good time to take a look at the game that started it all and why it was a standout hit on the GameCube!

Why it was great

As mentioned before, Animal crossing had a lot of stuff to do. Personally, one of the most exciting things to do was go out and hunt some rare insect specimens for the Museum. Unlike the static fossil displays or art exhibits, bugs that were collected were free to roam around their area of the building and the more that were added the more interesting the room got. The variety of fish was also exciting (especially the more unique-looking catches like eels), but confined to their tanks made them a little less visually appealing than the wilds of the insect room.

Decorating was, of course, another high point of the game. Each day was a new opportunity to check Nook’s shop for furniture, wallpaper or more to complete a collection or just add some pizzazz to a tired layout. My rooms always took on a distinctly jungle-esque theme and were overflowing with whatever plants I could find, borrow or steal (I admit, I didn’t really lose that cute polka dot shirt Officer Booker). Clothing was another way to uniquely represent yourself with almost limitless fashionable (and unfashionable) outfit combinations.

ac-stellaAnimal Crossing was also one of the only games I was willing to watch someone else play as a fidgety 13 year old. My sister and I would take turns talking to the villagers and each had our favorites who we’d send gifts to and stop for extra conversations if we saw them. I still remember who we liked; I was very connected with Stella the Sheep and she developed a friendship with one of the gorillas. Back then it was hard to imagine anyone wanting to spend their free time observing someone else gaming, but this is the age of Twitch and now I’m more than happy to watch pros get some nice ganks in League of Legends or watch a master Pokémon trainer battle up the ranks online.

All in all, it was a great early simulation game that didn’t simply focus on building a town or kingdom, but challenged players to be themselves inside a fantastical setting and impact the world around them.

What do you think? Any favorite memories? There are some great Animal Crossing stickers that just came out for LINE messenger as well!

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).

Throwback Thursday: Nintendo eReader

Platform: Gameboy Advance|  Release Date: 2002

Oh, Nintendo. Yes, they’ve released plenty of trademark titles and have developed characters with household names. Sure, they’ve broken boundaries with their innovative systems that combined family oriented play with the hardcore games of today. One thing though that Nintendo can’t seem to let go of are their gimmicks. Back in the late 90’s / early 2000’s, Nintendo’s gimmicks were probably at their peak, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. One of their funny little add-ons was for the Gameboy Advanced. Dubbed the “eReader”, this interesting device was the pre-curser for now wifi and downloadable additions of games that we use today in the form of online Mystery Gifts and QR codes.

Why it was great

05_Flatbed_WEB-  APRIL   Original Filename: nintendo_gameboy-advance_accessory_e-reader.jpg

While being “great” is a stretch, the eReader was a pretty cool idea that would eventually be taken over by the more prominent and accessibility of online functionality. Basically, the eReader would attach to the cartridge slot of your Gameboy Advance. A small card slider on the top allows you to swipe different types of cards. These cards had various functions; they loaded old NES titles, accessed secret levels, or unlocked bonus content in their respective game titles. Sound familiar? The addition to Pokemon games sounds the most interesting to me, though. Swiping an eReader card would allow access to secret trainers for players to duke it out against. However, these trainers would not yield any type of rewards for beating them. Players can also use an Eon Ticket eReader card to gain special access to the rare Latios and Latias legendaries in Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire.E-Reader

Final Thoughts

Us humans are natural collectors of things. Having essentially what was a physical, collectible DLC interests some folks who at time were more into the hard copy of things. It’s a shame that things like this are more-or-less nonexistent, but other forms of content (albeit more expensive forms) are gaining popularity via Nintendo’s Amiibo figurines. If it’s up to me, though, keep it digital!

Throwback Thursday: Mortal Kombat 2

Platform: PlayStation, SNES, Sega Genesis| Developer: Midway Games| Publisher: Midway Games| Release Date: 1993

With Mortal Kombat on its tenth installment, the series has yet to slow down its momentum in the gory fighting genre that we’ve come to know and love. Each new game comes with a slew of new characters, new features, and of course more creative ways for combatants to slaughter each other. The first Mortal Kombat broke gaming boundaries with its realistic visuals and unspeakable violence. Every couple of years in gaming brings a slew of new graphics and consoles for Midway Games to play with, which means Mortal Kombat gets more and more gruesome.

Why it was great

mk2-screenThe first Mortal Kombat was pretty bare bones. The characters were more or less clones of each other with just a few variations. Mortal Kombat 2 brought tons of memorable characters that are regulars even to today’s newest games. Kitana, Mileena, Baraka, Jax, and Kung Lao were all introduced in the second title, and they all conveniently appear (at least in some respect) in the newest game. Kitana, Mileena, and Baraka are probably my three all-time favorite Mortal Kombat characters, so I was always personally excited to play as them in each new title.Mortal_Kombat_II_Pit_II

Mortal Kombat 2 also brought upon upgraded character resolutions, an additional fatality per character, and more special moves. This added more diversity to the meager initial roster, and the new and improved character models made the
gore that much better. New stage fatalities from the infamous pit of spikes and lava pool.

Final Thoughts

What the great thing was about Mortal Kombat 2 was that it didn’t stop being overly ridiculous and controversial. Not a game was out like it at the time, and it showed that even video games can push the envelope of what’s acceptable in the gaming community. It’s no doubt that Mortal Kombat breaks boundaries and crosses lines left and right, but the devs at Midway Games aren’t afraid to explore the unspeakable!

Throwback Thursday: Demon’s Souls

Platform: PlayStation 3| Developer: From Software| Publisher: ATLUS USA| Release Date: 2009

I’ve played some seriously difficult games in my time ranging from frustrating RPGs, fighting games, action games, you name it. Not a single game has challenged me in both skill and patience like the infamous Souls series. Demon’s Souls is a PlayStation 3 exclusive from From Software that came about roughly six years ago. Not exactly as throwback as people would assume, but it’s spiritual successor, Bloodborne, was just released and it brought back some trying times I’ve had with the first installment of the series!

Why it was great

Demon’s Souls is meant to challenge you in nearly every way possible to the point of epic frustration, but 2445882-demonsfor the most part, it’s an enjoyable type of challenge. Demon’s Souls demands skill and tactile movement unlike recent RPG and action games out there. One failed attack or missed dodge could mean death, which in turn results what could have been hours of progress. Each time you die, you restart the level from one of the sparse checkpoints only to fight everything over again. Seeing as you just got killed by something you were fighting against, chances are it’s going to be just as difficult as you trek the monster infested dungeons for a second, third, or fourth time.

However, if adventurers are up for the task, Demon’s Souls requires players to learn the game mechanics in order to progress. Mastery of each weapon type, enemy movement, and boss battle is essential for0574.demonssouls_screens_07.jpg-610x0 survival. There’s a clear learning curve, but it makes it fun to explore different methods of progression. I’ve never felt so empowered in a video game ever before, because when you finally defeat that boss that you’ve spent the past few days trying to kill, an amazing rush of bad-assery overwhelms your persona. However, on the flip side, you know when you make a mistake that will cost you your life. Said mistakes are pretty much always at the fault of the player.

872926-c20090122_ds_77_cs1w1_640x360The atmosphere of Demon’s Souls was the biggest draw for me. It’s mysterious, dark, dreary, and actually quite horrifying. The gothic interiors of unexplored castles and rickety terraces of wide, open swamps are only a few of the aggressive locales you’ll traverse through. You’re able to roam freely through the area and change the camera view as you wish, which lends to some pretty stellar environment-gawking sessions. The atmosphere is silent aside from the feint footsteps wandering souls and the

Final Thoughts

Even as a casual gamer, Demon’s Souls was a rewarding experience and a must-have for action RPG fans. It’s “sequels”, Dark Souls and Dark Souls II, build upon the outstanding Demon’s Souls formula. The recent release of Bloodborne damn near perfects it to a tee. If you’re down for some hardcore gaming experiences, give either game a try. Just be prepared to die. Often.