Hello. I haven’t posted since March. At first I was sick, later I was busy. Finally I concluded I was sort of burnt out after going on with 32 Bits for so long without posting anything else.

32 Bits will return! And I’ll announce when it does (at this point it’ll probably return with Super Mario 64). When I do close out 1996 I’ll make sure there’s no interruptions. In the interim I’ll post about other topics in gaming, both old and new.

Chasing a rabbit for a secret star in Super Mario 64

Chasing a rabbit for a secret star in Super Mario 64

SUPER MARIO 64: Last time I played I was 38 stars in, clearing out Big Boo’s Haunt and was unexpectedly enjoying this game.

I thought it’d be weird that you can only get one star at a time. But the game’s designed around this, so stars are on different paths and traversing the level becomes easier as you go. Stars feel like smaller, faster levels within a larger one. It’s not like, say, the 3D Gex games, which only let you get one remote at a time but often placed them at the end of the same path so you have to go through the whole level multiple times.

ARC THE LAD II: I also started playing Arc the Lad II and it has maybe the most archetypal JRPG opening ever.

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We open on a burning village at night. Soldiers gun down all the villagers, except one young boy who survives thanks to his mysterious powers. Wouldn’t you know it, that flashback was a nightmare and the boy is woken up late for work!

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He’s a monster hunter for hire and goes to stop a mysterious foe in an airport (for airships, of course). He defeats this enemy only for him to, of course, flee. Chasing down the villain he discovers a girl with mysterious powers. After besting his enemy in a fight, he’s killed before he can say anything. And so our hero defends the girl from a wall of what appear to be 1920s gangsters, but she’s wounded! Can the healer help her? Is there a link between the two, hinted at via a sepia-toned flashback? Probably!

On the other hand, the game’s pacing is so much better. The first Arc the Lad began with a interminable cutscene, one that ran well over ten minutes before the first battle. But ten minutes into Arc the Lad II I’ve fought two battles, gained a party member and have explored the world map. I’ve also heard Arc the Lad II is the best in the series so I’m cautiously optimistic.

OUT OF DATE BOOKS: Browsing a library I found, nestled between HOW TO MAKE MILLIONS OFF SECOND LIFE and THE IDIOT’S GUIDE TO SECOND LIFE, a most ordinary book: The Rough Guide to Videogaming, 2002 edition.

A 12 year old guide to video games still being on the shelves is strange enough. But a British guide to 2002’s video games? In an American library? In 2014?

The back pages advertise “The Rough Guide to Shopping Online”, “The Rough Guide Internet Directory” and “The Rough Guide to Manchester United, 2001-2002” (“a respect-full history of the world’s greatest club!”).

“The latest consoles are all coming equipped for online gaming…although for full Web access and email you’re still most likely better off with a computer.”

Their top Playstation games, in alphabetical order:

  1. Crash Team Racing
  2. Final Fantasy IX
  3. Gran Turismo 2
  4. ISS Pro Evolution 2
  5. LMA Manager 2001 (a soccer management sim)
  6. Metal Gear Solid
  7. Quake II
  8. Resident Evil 3
  9. Spyro: Year of the Dragon
  10. TOCA World Touring Cars
  11. Tomb Raider Chronicles
  12. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
  13. Wipeout 3 Special Edition

Note the heavy presence of Quake on these lists.

Their suggestions for the nascent Playstation 2 library:

  1. Quake III
  2. SSX
  3. Tekken Tag Tournament
  4. Theme Park World
  5. Timesplitters

Man the Playstation 2 had such a great launch line-up compared to the original Playstation and later the PS3. SSX, Timesplitters, a new Tekken, the first actual Dynasty Warriors game, Smuggler’s Run…plus the usual crap and glorified tech demos. Including a unprecedented four RPGs at launch…not that any of them were any good, mind.

I just avoided the whole mess. By the time I had a PS2 it already had a good library, so my first games were Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy X.

The recently-cancelled Dreamcast:

  1. Crazy Taxi
  2. Jet Set Radio/Jet Grind Radio
  3. Quake III
  4. Rayman 2
  5. Shenmue
  6. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2

Not a list you’d see Dreamcast fans make now. Quake shows up again, and we have two ports. To be fair, Rayman 2 and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 are absolutely fantastic. But nowadays people would probably rather boast a console’s exclusives than versions of games associated with other consoles.

And the similarly soon to be obsolete Nintendo 64:

  1. Banjo-Tooie
  2. Goldeneye 007
  3. Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
  4. Perfect Dark

A weirdly sparse list, but it covers the N64’s bases: mascot platformers, first person shooters, Zelda and practically nothing else!

WHAT’S COME BEFORE:

The best Saturn games I’ve played so far are Guardian Heroes; GunGriffon; Nights Into Dreams; Panzer Dragoon II; Virtua Fighter 2.

The best PS1 games I’ve played so far are Die Hard Trilogy; Resident Evil; Tekken 2.

 

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