Video Games I Just Can’t Quit

I don't have Photoshop, so shut-up

Despite the fact that I have a backlog of video games that is, let me check… At least in the double digits (I haven’t updated it in awhile) I find myself returning to the same stable of games again and again.

Am I the only person who does this? I’m guessing not, going by all the videos, forum threads, and websites dedicated to old video games; how to find them, how to play them, how to beat them, how to exploit  them, and on and on. (I even indulge in this myself. Click on that ‘Let’s Play’ tab at the very top of the page to see.)

I like to think that this is more than blind nostalgia operating. That there are very good objective, quantifiable reasons why I play Megaman 2, Castlevania, or King’s Quest IV time after time and year after year. The problem of course is that games, as works of art, are notoriously difficult to objectively quantify or qualify. The hobby does have widely held corpus of “great” games, but the list is highly mutable and it has been argued contain sgames that are present merely for their age. Furthermore, what qualifies a game as “great?” The criteria available to use is nigh endless and contradictory.

I’m no ludologist (and I don’t have the time, energy, or inclination to pretend to be an amateur one ) so I’m not going to attempt creating a list of the various components of games that qualify them as “greats.” I’m sure if I could isolate said components they would not match up with others’ lists anyway.

Sometimes it is merely the presence of the ineffable that defines greatness, I suppose…

Here’s my list of games I just can’t, and wouldn’t want to, quit (in no order):

  • King’s Quest IV
  • Super Metroid
  • Castlevania
  • X-COM: UFO Defense
  • Megaman 2
  • Contra
  • Space Quest III
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • Ape Escape
  • Chrono Trigger
  • Tenchu
  • Final Fantasy

Do you find yourself going back to a set of “knowns” time and time again? Regardless of how many new “unknowns” you might have and want to consume? If so, please share them below in the comments and why you think it is you keep going back to them!

Gameboy Advance games you should have and might be able to find, too!

The Gameboy Advance is a dead console at this point and Nintendo has moved on to greener pastures (The DS). There are doubts we’ll ever see another iteration of the first handheld console… But, you can still play the games from the last version of it on your new DS.

I don’t know if this is going to be a ten list or not, I don’t have very many GBA games as my taste tend to cut out a lot… Anyway here are my recommendations for GBA games.

In no particular order (I really mean this!):

10. Final Fantasy – It seems you can get this game for just about any system, just about anywhere… It might just be the most ported game of all time. Why should you get this one? Simple, you can take it with you. Play a little, grind a little, and shut the lid and continue later when you have a few more minutes. If you don’t like JRPGs and if you can’t handle old-school gameplay (trans. grinding and lots of it) don’t bother instead pick up this next one…

9. Final Fantasy 6 – The last FF made on the SNES, many consider it the pinnacle of the series. The original cart can cost you a bundle on Ebay or Amazon, thankfully you can get it for the GBA at a decent price (P.S. I didn’t check this before I posted so it might have changed).

8. Metroid: Zero Mission – A re-make of the 8-bit original, Metroid is the definitive exploration action adventure game on consoles. This re-imagining of the Metroid storyline adds more weapons, new areas, new story and most thankfully a map function, which was always my biggest problem with the NES original which required you to use lots of graph paper or memorize the map.

7. Gunstar Super Heroes – You think Shootem ups would be a no brainer for a portable system, but the GBA was missing good ones, You can find MegaMan games on the system but at this point the folks at Capcom are mailing it in.

6. Yoshi Island: Super Mario Advance 3 – You’ve played as Mario dozens of times before… It gets boring, right? I love the Nintendo’s Italian plumber as much as the next person, but you know it’s nice to see the story from a different point of view. Yoshi’s Island does just that. You play as Yoshi the lovable green dinosaur who made his debut in Super Mario World, who has to protect baby Mario on a journey to retrieve Luigi who has been kidnapped. Not that the back-story matters much, this is a Mario game and what counts is the gameplay. I’m happy to say that Yoshi’s Island has it in spades! eat baddies, turn them into eggs, and throw said eggs at more baddies. All while not getting hit, if you do Mario flies off your back and starts floating around you have a limited amount of time to catch him before he is kidnapped as well. Lot’s of fun here one of the best games on the SNES and definitely one of the best on the GBA

5. Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow – If you’ve been reading here for any length of time you know I’m a fan of this series. So, you had to know something was going to show up here. The first two GBA castlevania games leave a little to be desired, it seems they were still trying to figure the system out. Aria of Sorrow is probably the best game in the series since the iconic Symphony of the Night, so pick it up and introduce yourself to Soma, who is apparently the future of the series (I’m going to miss the Belmonts).

4. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance – This game is a controversial choice but It’s the best turn based strategy I’ve played on the GBA, it’s a little more customizable and fun than Advance Wars and I’ve never been able to get my hands on Fire Emblem or Ogre Tactics (or is it Tactics Ogre?). This game has nothing to do with the original Final Fantasy Tactics though it somehow relates to the world of Ivalice… Nerds can argue over it. What is important for you to know is that you get to make a party and customize and train it as you see fit as you explore the existential predicament of the protagonist, for a taste of it check this out.

3. Pokemon: Leaf Green/Fire Red – a re-release and graphical update of the original Pokemon Red/Blue cartridges for the Gameboy. See where the madness started, sadly you’ll never be able to collect them all, it’s impossible to get your hands on Mew, I believe. Also new is a help feature and the wireless combat capabilities… I don’t know if these will work on your DS? Also after you beat the game you can visit new areas with pokemon from later games like sapphire and ruby. If you don’t know what Pokemon is all about this is the place to start.

2. Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap – Play as Link again on another quest to rescue the princess, this story never changes but the world does. This time Link was be shrunk down to mini size and tromp through dungeons inside everyday objects, the size puzzle are clever and fun and you’ll find classic Zelda gameplay here. Nintendo is very much a fan of “If it isn’t broken don’t fix it”.

1. Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga -Remember Super Mario RPG for the SNES? Probably not, because not very man people played it. Anyway this is another adventure/RPG in that same vein. The story takes place in a neighboring Beanbean kingdom where an evil witch has stolen the voice of Princess Peach while posing as ambassadors visiting the Mushroom Kingdom. So Mario and Luigi are off to save her voice. While the game has traditional RPG elements the battles have a heavy emphasis on participation, as pushing buttons at key times can decrease the damage you take and increase the damage you deal. Also different is how puzzles are solved as they’ll often require you to split two brothers up in order to turn switches, open gates, etc, etc. This puzzle solving element is the real joy of the game which is a fun light hearted RPG that doesn’t bog down in grinding… Give it a try if you like it there is a sequel for it on that DS you recently bought 😛

Do you have a DS?

I was going to draw a clever little flow chart to follow depending on your answer to that question but I’m lazy and every answer pointed to being a retard if you didn’t and going out to immediately purchase one. I’d describe the DS as being very close to heaven if I believed in invisible home somewhere in space were spirits spend all their time praising a mythical magical daddy with a big white beard (that’s my one rant this post, promise!) The DS is a really great system and I’m not the only one who thinks so, there are 20 million DS users in the United States alone, the DS is on its way to being the best selling console of all time! So stop reading this and go get one, their relatively cheap, especially considering the prices of current home consoles (arm, leg, soul).

Did you get one? Is it shiny and new and beautiful? Yes stroke your DS, love it, say goodbye to your significant other for the time being too, this baby can be a time sink, and best of all you can sink time anywhere! Now what to play on it? Here is my top 10 games for the system.

10. New Super Mario Brothers – A new 2-d platform adventure with our man with the mustache. The game is rendered in 3-d but the play is everything you remember from those days sitting in front of your television going up and down tubes and consuming mushrooms. A must have!

9. Nintendogs – Can’t afford a real dog? Don’t have time for a real dog?Maybe you just don’t have room or your significant other is allergic? If that is the case, Nintendo has the answer to your dilemma! A virtual pet that you can’t kill and will always remain an adorable puppy! Plus all those boring things you hate doing, like bathing, walking, picking up shit, are now fun mini-games!

8. Pokemon Pearl/Diamond – Gotta Catch’em All!

7. Super Mario Kart DS – It’s Mario Kart! You can play on-line (*shudder* friend codes, Nintendo needs to rethink their on-line multiplayer strategy) The same old fun that you’ve come to expect from the kart series. The game is easy enough to get into and beat but it’ll take dedication and practice to master it!

6. The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass – I can’t seem to get into the new console bases Zelda’s I just don’t like the 3-d view and gameplay, call me old fashioned, I like my Zelda from a top down view. Phantom Hourglass delivers old-school Zelda gameplay with great graphics and intuitive gameplay using the touchpad and stylus.

5. Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow – It isn’t Symphony of the Night, but nothing is! This is as close as you’re going to get on the portable front, well you could buy a PSP and get it that way, but then you’d have a 200+ dollar toy that plays one good game… Back to the DS! Castlevania has a convoluted story that involves Dracula, but it can mostly be ignored. What you need to know is that the game is a fantastic 2-d exploration game steeped in western horror tropes.

4. Animal Crossing: Wild World – How to describe Animal Crossing? It’s like real life but fun and your an animal. You have a house, you do odd jobs, you buy furniture, you build friendships.. It sounds terrible but this game has a huge following, if you have friends who have the game as well, your options expand exponentially as you can visit them and they can visit you. Animal Crossing is less a game and more an experience. If you have doubts rent it first, but you’ll like it!

3. Advance Wars: Dual Strike – Advance Wars is Nintendo’s turn based strategy game. Unlike other TBS games though it doesn’t take itself to seriously, the graphics are bright and cartooney, and the story is light-hearted. They’ve moved to a darker more serious look with their newest game in the series, which is why I’ve picked this one as it retains the light heartedness that made it fun, it’s not war and pain, but rock-paper-scissors, but you call it soldier, tank, airplane.

2. Puzzle Quest – Who doesn’t love Bejeweled? No one. Now add some RPG and strategy elements throw in duels, and you have yourself an addicting juggernaut that so far has taken on every console and the PC. Everyone love’s this game! I can’t get my hands on my DS at times because Diana is still playing this game!

1. Contra 4 – Not for the light hearted! I’m currently obsessed with this game despite its crushing difficulty. It’s too addictive to put down. Check out my review at

Best of all the DS is a system which largely has the field to itself, and one that is extremely popular so we can look forward to more great games.

P.S. Did you know that your DS can also play Gameboy Advance games? Of course you do, you read the manual. Next time I’ll tell you what games you absolutely need for the last Gameboy.

10 things you can throw you’re money at (and won’t be wasting it).

So here it is my very first top 10 list, though I’m keeping out the pretentious “top”. Normally this is where I talk about why it’s important to give money to various things and how it helps you and helps everyone. I’m not going to do that though, because I believe in the intelligence of my readers (all 3 of you). So here are ten causes or people who won’t do something stupid with your money. If you don’t have money you can still get involved, many of them would love for you to volunteer or write some letters to your elected officials. So get off your fat ass and make a difference in the world already!

10 – The Ron Paul Campaign – This isn’t a charity, but I felt it was important enough to put here. So if you’re offended by political opinions please skip to the next. Why give to Ron Paul? Mostly because the man’s record speaks for itself. He’s the only pro-liberty man running for the office. Check out the site, if you’re interested in his take on the issues, give some money. Ron Paul is largely being ignored by the major media outlets, and it’s going to take money to get their attention. Oh and the man wants to end the “War on terror”, the “War on drugs”, and the Federal Income Tax!

9. Trickle Up – Donate money to those living off of less than one dollar a day, Trickle Up funds entrepreneurs in the third world to jump start their own businesses. Don’t want to give a hand out? Then help someone become financial independent by investing in their business plan. I’ve given to them.

8. Nature Conservancy – Is a large charity organization much like the world wildlife fund. The Conservancy uses multiple methods in their conservation efforts, from working with indigenous people to private land purchases. A great group, one I’ve given to in the past. I give every year.

7. World Wildlife Fund – Do I need to say anything about the most recognizable conservation charity in the world? They help protect endangered species and their habitat through education and legislation. You could do worse with that 3 dollars you found in your pants the other day.

6. FARM Africa – Buy a farm animal for a family in Africa. Your donations also go towards educating African farmers in sustainability and independence. So that in the future Africans won’t have to depend on the charity of other nations.

5. The Population Council – the PC focuses on reducing the spread of HIV and AIDS, understanding the dynamics of poverty culture, and educating dis-advantaged populations about improving sexual and reproductive health outcomes. If you don’t want to give to help stop AIDS, give because they’re working on lowering the global population, one which the Earth is ill prepared to support.

4. Reading is Fundamental – The oldest literacy charity in the United States. The RiF gets books and educational resources into the hands of the those who need it most. Literacy is the only way out of poverty. The love of reading and an education is a passport to any place you’d ever want to go. Help a child find the joy you have.

3. The Electronic Freedom Foundation – The EFF fights to keep our constitutional rights in this increasingly technology dependent world. The EFF fights not only to keep the internet a haven of free speech, but they’re also fighting to keep the govt. from wiretapping your cell phone. A great far sighted charity, I’ve written letters for them and called my congressional rep.

2. Child’s Play – Founded by the creators of Penny Arcade, Child’s Play is a charity that gives video games and toys to children’s hospitals in the USA, Canada, Great Britain, Australia and Egypt (?!). Started in 2003 they’ve already given over a million dollars in toys to hospitals. Their main drive is around the Christmas holiday but they accept donations year round. This is a great way to spend your charitable dollars, bringing a little joy to a ill child’s life. I give every year.

1. Your Charity – The best charity to give to is one that shares your beliefs and is fighting for them, whether that be the re-wilding of the United States or international equal rights for women. With the internet it is easier than ever to find those who share your views and to give them any type of support you can provide. Click the link, and google some causes. Do something now to change the world!

%d bloggers like this: