rambling

School’s out for winter!

Okay, technically, it’s not out since I still have two exams to complete, but I still have a good few days’ worth of relaxing to enjoy. Yesterday I washed the dishes, washed and dried two loads of laundry, read a bit, and played some games. All in all, it was a good day.

Speaking of devoting my winter to playing games, I’ve got that little backlog I want to shrink a bit. Remember how I mentioned I bought a few games during Nintendo’s Cyber Deals event following good ol’ Turkey Time? Y’know, Metroid II: Return of Samus, Wario Land 3, and Wario Land 4? I’ve decided that over this winter break dealio, I’m gonna finish them. All of them. That’s a taller order than it first appears because I also need to play Metroid and Wario Land 2. Damn it. Actually, I’ve been doing a bit of planetary exploration, and I’m happy to announce I’VE FINALLY FINISHED METROID!

It feels so good, it truly does. I have a few confessions to make, however: I did not play Metroid the old-school way. I enjoy the challenge of older games that require one to play it all in one sitting or use fiendishly long passwords to save one’s progress, but damn, I just couldn’t handle it with Metroid – writing down passwords and trying to blast through the game just didn’t work for me. That’s why I’m glad that the 3DS Virtual Console has the “Restore Point” feature.

What is that feature, you ask? It’s a feature that allows you, the player, to save the game exactly where you’ve stopped and continue at any point in the future. Is there a tough room up ahead that may result in your death? Create a restore point just in case you mess up! All you have to do in case of failure is go to the Virtual Console menu and continue from your restore point – you’ll appear where you set your restore point and have another chance at success. It’s almost like cheating! So, yeah, I definitely took advantage of that glorious modern system. I don’t have all the time in the world, folks – if I mess up or miss a jump, I don’t want to loop around to get to the room I was in when I fell, I want to try again immediately and get it right. Also, I don’t want to forget how the hell to get back to the place I messed up, and this leads me to the second way I cheated the system:

I used a map. That’s right, I looked at a map online while I played. Look, a good number of rooms in Metroid are the same or so similar you can barely tell the difference, and I didn’t want to spend hours memorizing paths and drawing my own damn map. Not that I dislike cartography, I just wish there was a map built into the game – but hey, it was 1986 and technology hadn’t yet advanced that far. So, in lieu of fucking up repeatedly just to advance a few tiny steps, I looked at a map and optimized my travel path as best I could.

I know what you’re probably thinking: you didn’t beat Metroid at all, man! And, well, I sort of agree with you. Metroid really beat me, as I’d tried for a few years to finish it and every time I started the game anew I got frustrated and gave up. I’m tired of giving up, so if I had to use a few extra tools to win, well, I think I can forgive myself. After all, I still had to figure out how to deal with the enemies and obstacles. Still, I look forward to the day when I can boot up Metroid again, with only spare memories of its long halls and dangerous caverns, and try to get through it without a map or restore points. That’s a challenge for the future!

So, as it stands, I’m on my way to playing Metroid II: Return of Samus, because it’s the next game in the Metroid series and, as far as I know, the only game in the series I’ve yet to play. I started with Metroid Prime back in middle school and I’ve loved the series ever since. A friend let me borrow his copy of Metroid Fusion, and a few months back when it was released on the Wii U Virtual Console, I bought it for myself. I own Metroid: Zero Mission for the GBA, and love it. I bought Super Metroid on the Wii Virtual Console a few Christmases back, then, after switching Wiis and moving on to the Wii U, decided I should just get the game on the Wii U. Yeah, I even played Other M, and despite enjoying the gameplay I was not impressed with the story. Still, the point of this lengthy and rambling paragraph is to say that I’ve played all the mainline Metroid games of which I’m aware, except for Metroid II. So when I get tired of trying to better my Samus game in Super Smash Bros. on the Wii U, I’m gonna turn on Metroid II and show some parasites who’s boss.

Yeah, this winter ought to be good.

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rambling

Update us, man!

Yeah, I haven’t devoted much time to any Castlevania games over the past few days, and I’m sorry about that since I said I’d do my best to complete Rondo of Blood before the end of the month. I have to admit, it’s just a damn tough game, and I’m throwing my spare minutes at so many different games it’s ridiculous: I’ve been building up my bell reserves in Animal Crossing, leveling up my team of adventurers in Etrian Odyssey IV, fighting matches here and there in Super Smash Bros. for 3DS, and, y’know, learning over at the university.

That brings me to my next point: I’ve got a ton of homework to do over the course of the next week. I’ve got to read essays and articles for one of my English classes, read the last part of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight for another English class, prepare a presentation, and write a big ol’ paper (okay, I guess seven pages isn’t so bad compared to some assignments, but this is my first university level research paper; gimme a break). I’m afraid, good readers, that I may not have time to finish Rondo of Blood.

Which brings me to this little picture:

Hey, look! TWO Castlevania games on the Wii U Virtual Console? What are you thinking, man?

Hey, look! TWO Castlevania games on the Wii U Virtual Console? What are you thinking, man?

I’ve got a backup plan in case Rondo of Blood can’t be completed (Rondo of Blood is on my Wii Virtual Console, remember): I’ll play Super Castlevania IV instead. See, Dracula X is cool and all, but within its own family it’s kind of a black sheep. It’s the kid who couldn’t hold down a job or get good grades. As a game, I’d say Dracula X is good, but as a Castlevania game it’s lacking. It doesn’t control very well and the difficulty curve is all kinds of insane. I’ve only reached the second level and I’m already lumbering across a crumbling bridge as mermen jump up to impede my progress and send me plummeting to a watery grave; that’s usually a second-to-last or last-level Castlevania rage-inducer. In short, I’m not having Dracula X, at least not now. So I jumped back to Rondo of Blood.

However, as I pointed out earlier, Rondo of Blood is also challenging; it’s more polished than Dracula X and it feels very smooth in comparison, but it’s still frustrating and I just don’t think I’ll have the time or the dedication to finish it by the time the ghosts ‘n’ goblins pack it in for next Halloween (sweet name drop, eh?). Hence, my purchase of Super Castlevania IV: see, I’ve finished Super Castlevania IV twice in my life, on the old family Wii. Last Halloween I almost played through it in a single sitting before I went to work; I came back and beat it when my shift was over, but this year, I’ll have nothing in the way of me and my whip. I swear, I’ll beat Super Castlevania IV in one sitting. I’ve got to do it. I’ve got to beat some sort of Castlevania game before October is over.

So, there you have ’em: my half-assed excuses for failing to complete Dracula X or Rondo of Blood, and my glorious decision to play Super Castlevania IV on Halloween instead. See how crafty and neurotic I am? I must beat a Castlevania game, but I must also do my homework, therefore I pick the Castlevania game I can beat in a day and delay my conquest. I’m taking out two crows with one ax, if you will.

I’ll update you as I trudge along, whipping skeletons and giant bats with weary arms and wondering when I’ll see the orange glow of a tavern’s lantern again – I dunno, I assume the Belmonts stop at the local places for food and drink every now and then. Oh, I’ll also be getting way too stoked about upcoming games and wishing I had way more money as I read this little number:

Will they get mad at me for inserting them into one of my blog posts? But I love you, Game Informer!

Will they get mad at me for inserting them into one of my blog posts? But I love you, Game Informer!

All right, into the night I go. Happy gaming/reading/whatever you like to do, folks.

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rambling

Midway Through the Murk

As I sit at my computer wondering how exactly I’ll update this blog, an image is frozen on my tv, paused by me so I could write down my thoughts. I’ll throw that image at you now.

That's Rondo of Blood on my formerly large tv. By modern standards, I think it's probably small. Damn.

That’s Rondo of Blood on my formerly large tv. By modern standards, I think it’s probably small. Damn.

Remember how I said I’ve played Rondo of Blood? Well, that was only a half-truth: see, when a gamer says “I’ve played that game,” that typically means the game was finished. You know, beaten, completed, conquered, vanquished – done in some way. I said I’ve played Rondo of Blood, but the tough truth of the matter is that I never played through Rondo of Blood to the end. This may be chalked up to two reasons: one, Rondo of Blood is fairly difficult, as far as Castlevania games go. I have this thing about Castlevania games where I suck at them (in a non-vampiric way, mind you) for a while and by the end I’m pretty competent. A lot of gamers will say this about older games: the difficulty curves were pretty crazy. Anyway, along with that difficulty comes the real reason I never finished Rondo of Blood: my girlfriend’s Wii is missing a few cables.

I mentioned before that I have a Wii U. Well, the beauty of going from a Wii to a Wii U is the possibility to transfer one’s Wii Virtual Console games to the Wii U’s Wii Channel (yeah, the Wii U has a whole channel that transforms it into a Wii on the side. It’s like, two consoles merged in one. Or maybe, like, ten consoles. I’m not sure how many consoles are covered by the Virtual Console service). My half-jokes aside (a lotta half-this and half-that tonight, sorry), I really like the idea of using just one machine to play a buncha different games, so I was all ready to move my Wii data to the Wii U. Then the case of the missing cables cropped up. Dreams? Shattered.

Along with the difficulty I have in mastering Castlevania games, I also have this unfortunate way of taking a long time to solve simple problems. I live at home and there’s a family Wii that I played long before my girlfriend let me borrow her Wii indefinitely; the family Wii is sitting out in the living room with its cables all fine and dandy. I’d been wondering where I could have stashed my girlfriend’s Wii’s cables for a week or two when I had an epiphany: use the other Wii’s cables, you dolt. A few swapped out cables later and I was in business.

The process of transferring the various games and save data took about half an hour, and once it was over I felt an abundance of joy. Now I don’t just have awesome Wii U games and Wii U Virtual Console stuff to enjoy, I also have access to all the games I bought years ago on the Wii. I can finally try to finish Rondo of Blood and prove my worth as a Castlevania player; as far as the grand list of Castlevania games goes, I can only think of three in my possession that I haven’t finished: Rondo of Blood, the newly acquired Dracula X, and Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse. That game is probably the hardest one in the series. Memories of it haunt me, which is awesome for October but really shitty for my self-esteem as a gamer.

Anyway, Rondo of Blood is calling me. Maybe Dracula is using some sort of dark power to beckon me toward him. We shall clash in the night as lightning splits the sky, and the moon will look on with a dour expression as I send the Prince of Darkness back to the dirt from whence he came. It’s October, it’s windy, and the night is dark and full of terrors. Whoops, that’s from A Song of Ice and Fire … happy gaming, folks!

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