Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Bad News, Nobody!

This has not been a terrific week, folks. First I learn that a close relative's ex is human sewage (I'm not at liberty to discuss it in detail, but oh lord), and then this news comes to light:

Joystiq, probably the best (and certainly the least sensationalist and pandering) of the video game blogs, is being closed by AOL after a decade of publication. Remember when it was just America On-Line users who were brain-dead schlubs? Yeah, those were the days. 

Two of my favorite writers from the site, JC Fletcher (wasn't that Angela Lansbury's character on Murder She Wrote...?) and Eric Caoili, will still be hard at work on their increasingly popular side site Tiny Cartridge, but it's anyone's guess what will happen to Joystiq's other editors. Here's hoping they find a soft spot to land after they eject from the flaming wreckage. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Agony and the Ecstacy: Yumi's Odd Odyssey

Now it's time for another edition of Good Idea, Bad Idea. 

Releasing the beloved Umihara Kawase series in the United States for the first time, after twenty years of Japanese exclusivity. 

Releasing the LAST Umihara Kawase game in the United States, designed especially for players who've had twenty years to master the skills needed to play the series well (hint: not you). 

It isn't just that Yumi's Odd Odyssey is the ugliest game in a series already known for its jumbled, garish visuals. It's that the game makes unreasonable demands of players from the fourth stage on, forcing them through a gauntlet of ice blocks that both threaten to slide Yumi to her doom and stubbornly refuse to be caught with the title character's springy fishing line. I had to play this stage ten times before I could finish it. Ten times, for the fourth freaking stage! I know this because the game keeps count, shoving your failures in your face whenever the opportunity presents itself. Yes, I totally suck. Thanks for the reminder. 

Right now, I'm stuck at the boss, a massive tadpole perched on two creepily human legs. In past Umihara Kawase games, you could hang from underneath the stage and wait until the creature gets bored and hops into the surrounding water. That won't work this time... it will just poop out eggs until one of the hatchlings inevitably knocks you into the lake. Your only chance for victory (wait, wait, you're gonna love this) is to catch all of its progeny, then lure it to the left until it tries to charge you. Then a pan falls from the sky, hitting it in the head and taking away some of its energy. Do this three times and the tadpole shrinks and makes a hasty retreat. 

Ahem. HOW THE HELL DOES ANY OF THAT MAKE THE SLIGHTEST BIT OF SENSE!? Okay, I understand that the game takes place inside Yumi's dream, but even there, you'd think there would be some clue of how to fight the tadpole. There isn't. A pan just hits the damn thing after you perform a seemingly random sequence of actions. It's arbitrary and obtuse, in the "charming" tradition of early NES games, and there's no place for it in a title released in 2014.

There are rumors that Yumi's Odd Odyssey will be ported to Playstation Vita, with stages from the original Umihara Kawase on the Super Famicom. Frankly, this is what should have happened in the first place. Americans didn't have the luxury of playing the game for two decades, and needed a chance to familiarize themselves with its challenging, physics- heavy play mechanics. The 3DS version of Yumi's Odd Odyssey just unceremoniously drops them in the deep end of the pool and expects them to find some way to stay afloat. 

(Good Idea, Bad Idea images culled from various online sources) 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

This Just In!

Sorry my posts have dropped to pre-2014 levels. I just haven't had a lot to say, although I did want to mention this. Sony is having its 20th anniversary sale, chock full of titles for the Playstation 3, Vita, and various other Playstation-branded systems. Might I recommend Persona 4 Golden, WipeOut Pure, and Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max?

You'll need a system to play those, so head on over to Cowboom and grab one for 20% off with the coupon code SAVEMOOLA. I thought about snagging a Playstation 3 before the sale ends today, but after picking up that 3DS XL on the 31st, I really need to get a handle on my video game expenditures. Oh well, maybe next time! 

Monday, January 5, 2015

2014: The Kiblitzing Year in Review

If you read just one Kiblitzing post this year, you should probably make it this one... since it's a summary of all the posts I made in the previous year.

Nom nom tasty samurai

This served as something of a renaissance for Kiblitzing, since the blog was updated quite rarely in the past. Highlights include a Heiankyo Alien retrospective and the start of a Top 40 Genesis games list that I, uh, never finished. (I kind of hit a brick wall with Landstalker. Sorry 'bout that!)

This was also around the time I bought a Wii U from a pawn shop for around $150. At the time, I thought I needed my head examined for such a frivolous purchase, but the Wii U has gone a long way toward proving its worth in 2014 with Mario Kart 8 and some generous offers. Thanks to Club Nintendo and the Digital Deluxe promotion, I've got a half dozen games that otherwise wouldn't be in my collection.

February was full of cheap gaming delights for the Xbox 360, my favorite last-gen console. Radiant Silvergun got a long overdue tribute, and there was some grousing about the apparent demise of hot mustard sauce. Mercifully, its death was highly exaggerated, returning nationwide at the end of the year. Eat that, Habenero Ranch!


You've gotta give it a hand.
March came in like a wrecking ball to my poor stomach, which needed reconstructive surgery to reroute digestive juices that had been building up thanks to last year's pancreatic peril. Fortunately, my Game Boy Micro came to the rescue, keeping me entertained during my week-long recovery. I also posted a thorough examination of the Yoshi's Island instructions, along with a couple choice pages from a Super Mario Bros comic.

This was unofficially Atlus month, so I took the time to complain about the company's new store-brand logo... and oh yeah, talk about a few of their games, too. Microsoft's Phil Spencer got a well-deserved kick in the teeth for his limp defense of the Xbox One, originally designed to punch players in the dick and record it for the world to see with its creepy Kinect camera. It took the disposal of that peripheral and several deep price cuts for it to come anywhere near the sales figures of its competitor the Playstation 4.


It's a good song, really!
May brought one of Kiblitzing's all-time most popular posts, Knife Edge. This was applauded for its examination of the Tomodachi Life controversy and ridiculed for its frequent references to progressive rock references, all in the same breath! I mentioned in the article how America's view of homosexuality has shifted in the last twenty years, and I must sheepishly admit that my own opinions on the subject have changed as well. Maybe I've become more empathetic since I graduated from high school, or just experienced life more fully, but these days, I don't care what consenting adults do in their spare time. Besides, it never hurts to have more options in a video game... I appreciated the chance to scratch my bi-curious itch in Fable 2, even if none of the NPCs were willing to play along. I just gave you a gift and did a handstand for you! What more do you WANT from me!?


June brought the Playstation Vita to my doorstep, and it's hard to think of another game system that's left me feeling so ambivalent. On one hand, it's super powerful, and it's probably gobbled up more of my spare time than any other handheld in 2014 thanks to its colorful display and extensive backward compatibility. This thing runs PSOne AND PSP games, and they've never played better thanks to a fully exposed D-pad! Yet at the same time, it never really lives up to Sony's promise of a console-quality handheld experience, and there's every evidence that the Vita doesn't have much life left due to a dearth of first-party titles and a rush by retail stores to clear it from shelves. At least it's a great way to put all my favorite fighting games in my pocket, bulging though it may be.


Still not hungry for The Last
of Us, Mom.
The next generation of consoles have arrived, and brought with them... prettied up versions of last generation's games. Bleech. The notion put forth by Andrew House that lapsed gamers will want to play all the blood-soaked, user-hostile titles they intentionally avoided by purchasing a Wii last decade really set me off. Just how deluded IS Sony, anyway? Ugh.

This month is producing a lot of monosyllabic grunts and moans, so let's jump to the next one, shall we?


Now we're talking! This is when I bought my first game-ready PC, which will likely be paired with the Wii U as my consoles of choice for this generation. I mean, what the hell, I've got sixty games on Steam already, and I'm not even sure how I got half of them!

August also marked the rise of GamerGate, the nefarious movement that claims to be about ethics in gaming journalism but in practice is more about making video games the exclusive domain of fat pink nerds who can't get a date. There's room in this hobby for more than just sheltered dorks like us, honest!


Terra Cresta in your toy chest-a!
This was when I complained about the announcement of a new, new, NEW 3DS and wondered aloud how I would turn my recently acquired yard sale computer into a gaming powerhouse. That wasn't any great mystery, by the way... I just needed to throw it into a more spacious case and add a decent graphics card. It could probably use another four gigs of RAM, but considering the fact that it's still packed away in a box somewhere, that upgrade can probably wait.

And oh yeah, September was the month that re-ignited my interest in Terra Cresta, the morph-inomenal shooter by niche developer Nichibutsu. Someone on the other side of the country offered me a free Terra Cresta cabinet after reading this feature. Lord how I wish I could have taken it.


Hoo hoo, there were TONS of posts this month thanks to my declaring it Oktober-Fist! A variety of versus fighting games were covered, including a handful of not-that-great-but-still-strangely-compelling Dreamcast titles and Garou: Mark of the Wolves, the pretender to Street Fighter 3's lofty throne. The festivities were capped off by a tribute to my all-time favorite fighter Darkstalkers, and... more of that GamerGate crap. You people can go away now, really.


November marked a momentous occasion for Kiblitzing. Halfway through the month, I relocated to the southwest to escape another punishing Michigan winter. That move limited Kiblitzing's output, but it did give me an opportunity to play the incredibly fun light gun shooter Deadstorm Pirates, and discuss the origins of this blog's oddball title. (Yes, it's a portmanteau of two Yiddish words. No, I'm not Jewish, but I can understand the confusion.)

Sigh, man.

Last but certainly not least is December, which set two great handhelds in my lap... the PSP-3000 at the start of the month, and the 3DS XL at its conclusion. I purchased a buttload of games for the former system, with Burnout Legends and Valkyrie Profile Lenneth standing above the rest as my favorites. The latter system has sparked new interest in Nintendo's games, since the larger screen means I can actually SEE them. As big and bulky as the 3DS XL is, I could scarcely imagine returning to the original model.

On a more somber note, December was the month when Ralph Baer stepped off this mortal coil and into video game history. Baer not only invented the first home game system, but pioneered video game digitization in the early 1980s with the arcade title Journey. Baer was also famously open to interaction with his fans. The Lost Levels editor Frank Cifaldi mused that until December, you could Email the inventor of video games and probably get a response. It's a harsh reminder that you have to take these opportunities while you can. After all, who knows how long they'll last? 

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Birthday Post

I just wanted to jot something down for this, the 41st anniversary of my birth. It only comes once a lifetime, y'know! 

First, I wanna thank everyone who's been reading this blog, especially Bryan "The Gay Gamer" Ochalla, who's offered a great deal of encouragement and engaging conversation over the past year. It's beefed up this blog's output considerably... in past years, I would update it once every couple of months, but now I post once, even twice a week. For the first time since shuttering The Gameroom Blitz back in 2011, I enjoy writing about video games, and all of you deserve credit for helping make that happen. 

Next, that 3DS XL is going a long way toward resurrecting my interest in Nintendo. Turns out that their games are a lot more fun when you can actually see them without the aid of an electron microscope. Miiverse is also profoundly more rewarding now that I have a more generous canvas for my scribbles. It will hopefully help me get back into drawing, which I haven't done in any significant capacity for months. 2014 has been a great year for left brain pursuits like this blog, but my artistic muse has been strangely elusive. Hopefully I won't be so reluctant to pick up a pen in 2015.

Finally, do you remember that article I'd written about the Terra Cresta series a few months ago? Hardcore Gaming 101 asked me to expand upon it for an exclusive feature that was published on the site yesterday. If you like shooters or just obscure gaming history, I suggest you give it a look. Thanks to Kurt Kalada for making it all possible, by the way. 

Okay, I think that'll do it for now. Save a slice of cake for me, would 'ya?