Archive | October, 2015

#990 – Getting to the warp zone in Super Mario Bros.

31 Oct

When Super Mario Bros. hit the scene in the 80s, people freaked out (or at least I assume as I was yet to be born) as nothing like it had been seen before. The adventure of saving a princess we knew so little about was motivation enough to have us hop from castle to castle. The game could be defeated by literally beating each level and making it all the way to the end. But something special could be found in the first underground area of the game… a warp zone!

By getting to the very top of the underground section you are able to pretty much avoid all obstacles and access a secret area with three different pipes which will send you to a later world. That’s right, no codes needed, you could skip some pesky levels easily. That feeling was rarely seen at the time and even though it might not seem like much of a secret today, it’s impact has never been forgotten.

We all love that amazing Italian brother (and his sometimes forgotten brother) for the amazing gaming experiences we’ve had the pleasure of sharing with them. And we all know they will be showing up more than once on this list. But let us not take away the fact that it was a defining moment for many children growing up in the 80s.


#991 – Slaying a Colussus 

30 Oct

Let me start out by saying that Shadow of the Colossus is one of the greatest video games ever made. Period. No arguments about it cause you can’t win (well you can, I’m just not in the mood to argue). And even though a number of factors are reason for this, such as the grand soundtrack, graphical style, and minimalistic yet impactful story, the true joy is slaying these Colossi.

Shadow of the Colossus, for the unaware, is a game of 16 boss fights, but not just boss fights, epic boss fights. Each beast has to be conquered in a variety of ways and the joy in solving these gargantuan puzzles is oh so satisfying. It sounds complicated but a very simple control scheme makes it feel smooth.


Let us experience the awesomeness of this together with one of many common scenarios that can occur in this game. You ride your trusty horse to one of these behemoths. It does everything in it’s power to try to toss and squish you while you slowly make it to a small patch on it’s back. Stabbing it a couple of times while your grip slowly loosens, it is time to journey to the head. You finally make it and are down to one stab left but then the worst happens… you fall off. But you don’t panic and manage to not get crushed under it’s feet. Time for another journey to the head where you deal that final blow that slays the Colossus for good.

That feeling of accomplishment is something you usually feel only at the end of a video game, yet in Shadow of the Colossus you get to experience that 16 times. So sit back and enjoy 16x of…


#992 – Getting the full game experience without needing micro-transactions

29 Oct

We’ve all been there before, especially in this day and age. You start playing a ‘free’ game (sometimes paid) and are having a good time. All of a sudden a huge prompt hits the middle of the screen informing you to continue or ‘improve’ your experience you should purchase a specific item. But because you are so early in the game you don’t have enough in-game currency to purchase it. Why not spend real world money instead? Sounds like fun… no, not at all.

The dreaded micro-transaction has been the centre of many debates in the industry today. Popularized by the mobile gaming market, it has since infected everything else. A business model that has definitely many game companies financially, but with little to no benefit to us players. It hurts even more when you’ve paid full price for a AAA title and certain content is still blocked by these ‘paywalls’ (looking at you Metal Gear Sold V: The Phantom Pain).


You are probably thinking, “The negativity from this post doesn’t seem awesome Ricky” I would agree with you if this post ended at the next period, but fortunately for you it doesn’t. The feeling of playing a full experience game on a home console, handheld, or mobile phone is further enhanced when you don’t have to worry about forking down those extra dollars. Pay once and enjoy for a lifetime, that should be our tagline not only in video games but in life. A pure experience not hindered by greedy corporate hands trying to milk you for every dollar. Games are experiences we pay for because we as gamers are transported to amazing places. I’ll happily pay for a game, it’s how the industry stays alive, just keep your micro-transactions out of my face and see my smile grow.

Take the time to appreciate those titles that take an ethical approach to business. We as gamers need to come together and support what is right; untainted fun.


#993 – Midnight launches

28 Oct

It’s story time! The date is November 8, 2004. After begging and pleading with my dad, he finally agrees to take 16 year old me to the local game store at midnight for the midnight launch of the much anticpated Halo 2. I’m beyond ecstatic, with a huge grin on my face I make it to the store at about 11:45 and take in that massive line. “Wow” I thought, video games are becoming extremely popular. Midnight comes and I see the line getting shorter and shorter as people collect their prized possession. But guess what? After all that I left without a copy of Halo 2. Why you ask? Because I didn’t even have an Xbox at the time. Yet I still left with the huge grin on my face as I was a part of something special, a piece of gaming history. My dad left with a confused expression on his face.


You see a midnight launch is more than just a release of a very popular video game, it is a celebration of our gaming culture. The hype and excitement culminates together into a beautiful event which would make even the biggest non-gamer take notice. It’s true that you could just wake up the next day and get the game then, but that’s no fun, a true gamer sacrifices sleep to get his or her hands on that popular title.

Years later I was lucky enough to partake in my first midnight launch where I actually purchased the game (for those keeping track at home the game was God of War 3). I have done it plenty of times after that as well and you can bet your horses that when that opportunity comes again you’ll see me lined up waiting because a midnight release is…


#994 – Doing whatever you want in Grand Theft Auto

27 Oct

Yes I know, the Grand Theft Auto series contains a lot of violence, sex, and vulgar language which gets many people in an uproar, but it’s not meant for kids, this is purely adult fun. And fun it is, each game in the series has an intriguing story crafted by the fine people at Rockstar Games. The missions contain a wide variety of activities which keeps things fresh. But you know what the best part is? You can do whatever you like and have a blast doing it.


The options avaialble to you are near limitless and almost overwhleming. Forget about all the side missions, collectables, and ‘extras’ that are in each title; what about grabbing a car and taking it as quickly as possible from one end of the city to the other while trying  to not run over any pedestrians? Or maybe just running around picking fights with random strangers? Or stealing a police car for no other reason other than you just can? These are the times where there are no real consquences, you set your own goals and have fun with it.

One of my favourite things to do, once in a while, is to get a car and try to drive as normal as possible. Might sound boring to you; obeying every traffic light, following the speed limit, and respecting pedestrians, but to me playing the game in a different way other than what the developers mainly intended is a victory and a joyous one at that.

Don’t take things so seriosuly and remember what the purpose of video games are; to have fun. Open worlds like this are meant to be explored and tinkered with in ways your imagination sees fit.


#995 – The MissingNo. glitch

26 Oct

If you were a kid that grew up in the 90s then more likely than not you were obsessed with Pokemon. As a kid, the whole concept was like crack to us; we needed to capture, train, and trade these fascinating beasts. We watched the anime, begged our parents to buy us the cards, and poured endless hours into the video games. Most specifically, Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue were the first games of choice.

We got to live out our dreams in the palm of our hands. In the playground we would share our tips and strategies, the rare Pokemon we’ve encountered, the battles we partook in. Heck, I even remember the rumours that of course were fake but our small minds wanted to believe they were true (Pikablu anybody?). Remember this was before the internet became widely available, so word of mouth passed these legends and rumours, having no idea where they first began. But one massive rumour ended up being true, bringing tears of joy to our eyes.

By performing a few tasks in game (just in case you were living under a rock or weren’t a kid at that time, here is exactly how you do it) you were able to duplicate pretty much any item as much as you like. Master Balls, Rare Candies, Gold Nuggets… it didn’t matter, you could have it all like your own personal genie was granting your Pokewishes.


In the center of all this was a mysteriously glitched Pokemon listed as MissingNo. (most likely for missing number). As is with the majority of glitches, this occurence was never meant to be viewed by human eyes but the fascination was almost instant. What seemed to be a bunch of visual gibberish (which messes up part of your game if caught) quickly built a following with mysterious lore created by fans.

It may not be a real Pokemon and just a ‘glitch’ but the first time you heard about it and actually witnessed it unfold before your eyes, you must admit that it was…


#996 – Playing video games with your non-gaming family and friends

25 Oct

We’ve all been there before, your mom comes knocking on your door to tell you to get ready as your extended family will be here shortly. You can’t bear to listen to a bunch of stories from your grandparents or have your aunts and uncles tell you how tall you’ve gotten. So you plan on changing things up this time around, dusting off those extra controllers to play a little bit of Mario Kart with the fam. You and your cousins might know what to do but hilarity will ensue when your uncle tries to participate only to find out minutes later that he was holding the controller upside down.

And this is what makes gaming with non-gamers so much fun; the mayhem. After explaining the rules and controls a million times, your aunt is finally able to make it around the track, only falling off 7 times. Some might be annoyed or frustrated by the experience, but seeing someone who has no clue or knowledge on your passion take a stab at it should be enough to make anybody smile.


I’m not saying to make fun of grandma when she realizes she’s been looking at the wrong screen the whole game. Everybody will have a chuckle for sure, but the bonding that takes place is something that is rarely seen doing any other activity. Who knows you might awaken an inner gamer within and the next you visit their house you might see a shiny new video game console hooked up to the television.

So embrace those friends and family that have never picked up a controller in their life or have never heard of Nintendo’s Italian plumber because some serious fun is about to go down!


#997 – Being scared to death by P.T.

24 Oct

As a kid I hated anything that was remotely scary, so horror video games were something I stayed very, very, very far away from. With age though came more courage (very little, but at least more) and thus my appreciation for those types of games rose. But to be honest I don’t think my body was ever ready to experience the nightmare that is or should I say was P.T.

For those who are unaware, P.T. stood for Playable Teaser and was a glimpse into next Silent Hill title, so it was more of a demo than an actual full game. But the experience was not a mere demo, it was something that changed me and possibly thousands if not millions of others. Not knowing what to expect, I was hit with jump scares, grotesque sights, psychological scars, and yet… I loved every second of it.


I covered my eyes everytime I turned a corned, but I could not turn away and put down the controller for good. The way it pulled me in is so hard to explain. I was too intrigued by the atmosphere created by Hideo Kojima and Guillermo Del Toro that it scared me in a way that I wanted to be scared. This world is meant to be experienced. Unfortunately, the game/demo is no longer available due to the cancellation of Silent Hills and thus many people might miss out on this one of a kind experience.

If you have a chance to play P.T., make sure to shut off the lights, crank the volume, and kiss your life goodbye because you might very well die of fright. Believe me though, you might be cussing my name after but I know deep inside you thoroughly loved it.


#998 – Getting your name on a high score board

23 Oct

Gamers are a very competitive breed. It’s all about winning and we stop at nothing to be the best at the games that we love. So when your hard work pays off and your name appears on a high score board, the euphoric feeling is indescribable. If you don’t believe me, just look at the amazing documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. It’s all about two guys who battled to have the highest score in the original Donkey Kong.  Now not all of us can get the highest score on a game, but just having our name on the board should be enough to get you excited. Today almost any game that is connected to the internet has some sort of high score board or leaderboard. Technically, even getting an extremely low score on any mobile game will net you a spot somewhere on that list. And before you go sulking that you’re ranked 30,251st, just know that there are 7 billion people living on this planet, so you are actually ranked pretty high if you ask me. You might not be the best at the game, but there are people who are far worse at it. Your name will probably move down the board over time, but it will always be there for you to go back and reminisce. And it is always there for motivation so you can keep trying and beat that score.

Having your name on a high score board is like placing your signature on a piece of digital entertainment history. When future generations of gamers look back, they can see that “rickytheleaf” played Pac-Man Championship Edition DX. To be forever immortalized in a video game should put a smile on anybody’s face.


#999 – Finally paying off your mortgage in Animal Crossing

22 Oct

Animal Crossing is the type of game where you can take as little or as much time as you like to do anything. Want to spend all day picking apples? Go ahead and knock yourself out. Want to bother all the villagers by smacking them with your net? You sir have a sick sense of humour, but no one will stop you, so enjoy! As you can see from my examples, you can pretty much do anything you want without having to worry about objectives or a specific goal. But there is that one pesky issue that haunts every Animal Crossing player; your mortgage.

You are given a house when you arrive in your new town, but Tom Nook, a very suspicious raccoon asks that you pay back the house when you are ready. No deadline is given, no interest, literally no consequences. But something about having this imaginary debt weighs on your mind is motivation enough to pay back this loan little by little. You’ll sell fish, fossils, fruit, furniture, anything you can get your hands on to pay back your debt. And then the day finally comes where Tom Nook tells you that you are in the clear, time to open that celebratory bottle of champagne. But wait… it’s now time to make that house bigger and with that comes a fresh new mortgage.

This seemingly endless cycle will keep you in debt for a long time. But that time will come, where you pay that last bell (the game’s currency) and you are debt free forever! You stand there letting that sink in for a moment, from here on out you owe nothing to no one. You have the biggest house in town and your pockets will grow bigger and bigger with more money than you know what to do with. Congratulations, you are the Animal Crossing king or queen!