Three Ways Sony Doomed the Vita From the Start

As a big fan of the Vita platform this is one of the saddest entries I’ve ever had to write.  The Vita platform had so much potential and Sony dropped the ball as hard as humanly possible. While no handheld device will ever defeat the 10 ton juggernaut that is Nintendo, there is still room in market for an alternative to everything 3DS. While Sony of Japan still shows the system the love it deserves, but just like with the original PSP Sony of America couldn’t find their ass with two hands and a map when it came to marketing the machine. Even ignoring that, Sony hamstrung the console from the very beginning, which is the majority of the reason why the Vita never took off. Here are the three main ways Sony doomed their unloved offspring.


Expensive Proprietary Memory

Dear God, this was such a blatant money grab. With the move towards digital distribution a large memory card is very good thing to have and by making the Vita only use a proprietary system Sony can extract more money out of their dedicated fans. I get that Sony is not doing that well, but milking the people who support you is bullshit. A lot of people who might otherwise be interested in what the Vita has to offer were turned off by the fact that memory cards are so ungodly expensive. Sure, the PSP had the same problem but it was mitigated somewhat by using the memory stick which was also used in other Sony devices so the prices were lower and you could buy an adapter to use microSD in a memory stick shell.  The problem with such a memory card is that nobody likes spending more more for the same space as a standard format card.  PSN is actually pretty good for a console system on flash sales and discounts for digital content, but that will very very quickly eat away at the paltry 8 GB card you get with a standard unit.

Let’s compare the Vita with its rival the 3DS and the same size card, 32 GB.  Nintendo has always had a philosophy of use established technologies that may be a bit out of date, but work very well and are cheap. Evidence of this philosophy is seen in the fact that the 3DS uses standard SD cards. SD cards read more than fast enough and are VERY cheap so they are the perfect flash memory for a handheld device. Currently on Amazon you can get a 32 GB SD card for about $10 – $15 depending on the speed and brand, but if you’re a tech lover like me you’ve likely got the damned things floating around your house right now. Let’s switch over to the Vita. I currently have a 32 gb card – imaginatively called Vita memory cards – and it costs a whopping $80. You might be able to find them on sale or cheaper, but that’s the standard price for it, and that’s STUPID. Proprietary memory is dumb anyway but Sony goes weapons grade idiot on how overpriced the Vita memory is. This is strike one, and honestly it could just about kill the console on its own but it still has two helpers.


Terrible Marketing

Sony of America has their heads so far up their asses when it comes to marketing anything handheld you have to wonder if they have to open their mouths to be able to see the money they lose. They originally tried to market the Vita as a full power console in a handheld shape, but that’s obviously off the mark. The Vita is indeed a powerful machine and the original OLED screen is the finest screen I have ever seen on any portable device. However, it is not capable of playing ports of PS3, let alone PS4 games. While quite a few games look amazing – Uncharted Golden Abyss honestly looks better  than the first Uncharted game – but it’s still a handheld. They made a big deal about the AAA games being released for the system, but they quickly trickled to nothing.  I’m sure it killed a lot of interest when there were no 1st party releases for months or even years a time. The ports quickly disappeared and we were left with the current slate of indies and random Japanese games. I’ll be the first to admit that I love a large amount of the indie games on the vita, but dear God do I hate the overwhelming amount of anime inspired crap that gets sent over from Japan. If Sony wanted to market the Vita as a indie gamer’s portable best friend I think they could have gotten some serious traction. But they didn’t.

Now Sony is positioning the Vita as the  peripheral for the Playstation 4, and that’s not as bad but it’s rather limiting. It really kills the device to make people think that not only do you need the $150 Vita but also a $350-$400 PS4 to be of any use.  The Vita possesses the ability to play any PS4 game over wifi – both local and over internet – thanks to the Remote Play feature. I am a huge fan of this feature, and I think it’s awesome I can be at my brother’s house an hour away from home and still play my PS4. There is a catch however. Remote Play is a fantastic feature but it greatly depends on how much the developer thought about control schemes. A few games are damned near perfect, for example Destiny and Fallout 4, but a lot of top tier games are iffy when played remotely. The Witcher 3 was my favorite game of last year, but it was very awkward to play remotely. It all has to do with the last strike.


Lacking Controls

The original PSP could do 3D games, but only had a single analog nub instead of the traditional twin analog sticks that named the legendary Dual Shock controller line. The Vita improves upon this by adding the second stick, but they still only have a single pair of triggers. Yes, there’s the touchpad on the back but I find it to be quite awkward to use, even with my large hands.  This wouldn’t exactly be a problem until you consider that the Vita has the aforementioned Remote Play and the ability to play downloaded PS1 titles. By removing a pair of triggers and having non-clickable analog sticks there’s 4 different inputs that have to be simulated using either the front or rear touch pad. Being fair on a lot of games this isn’t a problem, but it’s something that Sony could have easily rectified.  For a system that is currently marketed heavily upon its Remote Play feature the lack of so many inputs is a bit much. Now, a developer who puts effort into it can overcome this as with a good amount of games on PS4 but it’s extra work they should not have to do. For a console that was rumored to possess the ability to play PS2 ports – where the hell are those, Sony?! – it doesn’t make any sense to not have the full control set.  This may be a weaker strike, but it’s one that really had no reason to even be a strike. Sony could have done better, they just chose not to.


This may sound like I’m not a fan of the Vita, but I will dispute that all day long. I think the Vita is a fantastic platform that Sony bungled. They could fix a couple of the strikes, but the controls are something we can’t get around. I wish Sony showed the Vita the love that its fans does, but they just don’t seem interested in it at all. After the “legacy platform” comments months back it shows just how little Sony seems to care about its neglected offspring and that’s a damn shame. It was never going to beat the almighty Nintendo in the handheld market but that doesn’t mean for one second it couldn’t have carved itself a nice little niche of its own. Sadly, Sony never seemed interested in making that happen.

Incidentally, Sony: If you’re not going to put any effort into the Vita besides “stability updates” that do nothing but take away the ability to install homebrew then how about just letting us fans have an homebrew installation ability. Piracy on the Vita is absolutely non-existent – the very first dump of a Vita rom only happened late in 2015 – so why not let us install homebrew software? If you are so dedicated to not giving the Vita the respect it deserves let those of us who will have our chance.

My Top Ten Games of 2015

Um, is this still on? Good. Let’s fire this bastard back up.

Now, if you’ve listened to my award-winning appearance on the amazing Pondering Nerdcast’s 2015 Game Of the Year episode then you likely know my pick for number 1, but I thought it’d be fun to look at my ten favorite games released last year with a bit on each one as to why I enjoyed them so much. 2015 was a hell of a good year for gaming, although there were a few dark spots in an otherwise fantastic year.  The obvious worst part was legendary Nintendo president Satoru Iwata passing away as he’s honestly the only console manufacturer CEO who’s business card listed him as a gamer. There’s never been anyone like him in the industry, and there never will be again. Now, for some good feelings.

10. Dying Light

If I hadn’t found this for cheap at a pawn shop I wouldn’t have given it a second thought, and I would have missed out.  On the first view a first person parkour/zombie game sounds “meh” as all hell. Instead, I found a game with a really fun crafting system, a fun premise that adds some new tweaks to the tired zombie outbreak formula while making parkour games fun. Is it a classic? No, but I had a shitload of fun with the game and sometimes that’s all you want. Not every game has to be a timeless work of art that redefines the genre. Sometimes, you just want to bash zombies upside the dome with a crowbar while jumping rooftops and Dying Light delivers.

9. Saints Row: Gat Out Of Hell

I am an unabashed mark for the Saints Row series and their trademark brand of chaotic, batshit insanity. After the fantastic fourth title let the main character become president of the US and fight aliens in space we all wondered where else could it go. Thankfully, the next entry delivered. Ostensibly a standalone expansion Gat out of Hell is exactly what it says on the tin as badass Johnny Gat goes to Hell to rescue the Boss from the clutches of Satan himself.  The only way you can top the President bitchslapping aliens is a gun toting bad ass who saunters through Hell to save his best friend from being married to Satan’s Disney princess-esque daughter who breaks into song while in Hell. It’s a shame more people didn’t play this as it gets that games really don’t need to be serious. Games can be just as good when they say “Fuck it, let’s be fucking insane!”

8. Helldivers

While I have MANY misgivings about the movie that undeservedly bears the title Starship Troopers, on its own it’s a fun piece of over the top satire. If you’ve ever wanted that in game format you must play Helldivers.  A classic, top-down twin stick shooter, Helldivers so amazingly distills the movie into a game that you have to wonder if they didn’t try to secure the license. A robust multiplayer system, along with an interesting mechanic where all the efforts of players on given levels affects the war in that sector lead to a indie game that delivers on arcade goodness. This game is absolutely a blast on Vita, which is where I played it. So grab your rifle and defend freedom in the name of Super Earth, soldier!

7. Fast Racing: Neo

I said more than enough about this game in my review on Gaming Rebellion but I have to say that this is the most fun I’ve had with any racing game not called Mario Kart.  All those hours spent playing Wipeout on the PS1 came back in a HD blur on the WiiU. I cannot recommend it enough to any WiiU owner. Get this fucking game. 

6. Bloodborne

I never got into Dark Souls, but this game got me.  Maybe it’s the gothic horror setting with Lovecraftian overtones, maybe it’s the more aggressive style of combat, or maybe it just happened to click but I’ve loved this game. Yes, it’s hard. No, I don’t care. Finding out slowly about the world of the game is a brilliant method of drawing the player in, while the satisfying combat keeps them there. Uniting classic gothic horror with cosmic horror is a difficult feat but Bloodborne nails it and then some. If you don’t mind not having your hand held and can  handle a difficult game I highly recommend this one.

5. Mega Man Legacy Collection

I admit, I wasn’t much on Mega Man as a kid. The first game in the series I can even remember playing much at all was Mega Man 8 on the PS1 but when this set came out I had to have it. Sure, it’s missing 2 games that Mega Man Collection had years ago, but it’s fantastic retrogaming goodness for just 15 bucks, and that’s kickass. The games play exactly how you remember them, including slow down, and they are just as amazing now as they were then.  With all the indie games that aspire to emulate classic platforming games why not get a bundle of 6 of the finest in that category for 15 bucks? You’ll thank me later.

So will your mom.

4. Just Cause 3

Taking the “batshit insane” spot from Saints Row is this ode to pure chaos.  The game states that the goal is to remove a tyrannical dictator, but it’s mostly an excuse to fly around in a wingsuit blowing up more shit than Michael Bay on PCP. Nearly every object in the world can be destroyed with your grappling hook, weapons or good old fashioned high explosives and it’s all fun as hell. The only knock I give it is a long “install” when you first start the game, but that’s mitigated with a literal sandbox of an island where you’re given infinite ammo to run around and blow shit up for a while.  Unlike some developers who give you a long load time, at least Just Cause 3 gives you something to play with as you do it. 

3. Super Mario Maker

Few “creation” games really catch my interest.  I enjoy Minecraft every now and then as everyone loves dick shaped TNT cannons blowing up sheep, but I lose interest in creation games quickly. Super Mario Maker changed that by mixing them with the greatest game series that has ever existed. All of us who grew up playing Super Mario had envisioned dream levels that would beat even Miyamoto’s best but could only dream about them. Super Mario Maker lets you create those dream levels, along with nearly every other kind imaginable. The levels run from the original Super Mario Bros all the way to New Super Mario Bros U with each version feeling exactly like it should. If you don’t want to create then just go online and play the thousands of amazing user levels. With all of this under its belt Super Mario Maker has nearly unlimited replay ability and has become one of the crown jewels of the WiiU.

2. Fallout 4

I am not kidding when I say that I have been waiting for this game since I first beat Fallout: New Vegas.  After buying Fallout 3 years ago for cheap on a whim I’ve been sucked into the world and eagerly devoured any new entry in the series.  Few games could have a multiple year wait between entries with little to tide us over and still deliver…but Fallout 4 did.  While there are faults and glitches, the majority of the game is a hugely immersive adventure in the Commonwealth that allows the player to craft a story that fits their playstyle. Everything about the game screams “deep,” from the crafting system to the new method for handling power armor to the surprisingly fun settlement creation system.  I do admit that the story starts to falter near the finish, but the lead up to the climatic final battle is worth every bit of the dozens of hours you will sink into this instant classic.  The only problem I had was after finishing the main quest I had the depressing feeling of “Oh’s over..” which is honestly one of the finest praises you can give any game.


1. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

NOPE NOPE NOPE. Yeah fucking right. Hey, at least this twist was better than that stupid ass Kojima wank ending, right? Now, let’s see the real winner:


1. The Witcher III – The Wild Hunt

There isn’t much you can say good about the Witcher III that would be overboard.  The game is a tour de force of sandbox RPGs that allows the player so much freedom to deviate from the main quest but even the side quests are so amazingly integrated into the storyline.  Unlike most games where the side quests are simple things just designed to give an excuse to go kill stuff the quests here are fully fleshed stories that make some otherfull games look paltry by comparison. The game itself is a gorgeous example of what modern hardware is capable of, and the combat is fast paced and so much fun. 

In a modern era when games that exist only for a meager multiplayer experience are being sold for full price – looking RIGHT the fuck at you, Star Wars Battlefront – the Witcher III stands as a crowning example of why single player has been the backbone of gaming and why the future of gaming is still immersive single player campaigns.  It’s the best game that was released in 2015, one of the best games I have ever played, and a paragon of what gaming should be about. If you have any way to play this game and haven’t you are doing yourself a severe disservice.

2015 was one of the best years in gaming in a long time, and I have hope that 2016 is at least as good if not better. Sure, there’s already been a bump or two but the year is starting right because I got more Earth Defense Force awesomeness and I plan on killing those fucking bugs for hours now.  As always, thanks for reading.

Better Than Twitter: The Return

Yeah, I haven’t posted here in a while. I do most of my work at Gaming Rebellion lately it seems. For just my stuff, click the link in the sidebar.

For this Better Than Twitter I’m just going to comment on 10 games I’ve been playing or are out lately. As always each entry will be 100 characters or less, beating Twitter’s limit of 140. Let’s get started.

Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare

Only CoD could possibly make powered exoskeletons boring. Now with 2 more shades of brown! Meh.

Splinter Cell: Blacklist

A good try at bringing SC back to its roots as a stealth game. Bring back Michael Ironside.

Super Smash Bros 3DS

The classic, mega chaotic, beat the fuck out of everyone game distilled into a handheld. So awesome.

The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap

Capcom makes a stellar LoZ for GBA. It’s one of my top 5 LoZ games and it’s on WiiU virtual console.

Mega Man X

Perfect Run-n-gun gameplay with one of the best game soundtracks ever. Probably my fav Megaman game.

Persona 4 Golden

I don’t understand the appeal. It’s a crappy JRPG mixed with a boring high school simulator.

Bravely Default

A killer classic style JRPG with a truly unique addition to battles. Worth it for any 3DS owner.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

AKA The Best One. I love the survival aspects, and there’s less melodramatic bullshit.  MGS2 is bad.

Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles

A port of one of the best classic ‘Vanias to PSP. Please bring back sidescrolling Castlevania.

Madden ‘15

Copy N Paste to its highest zenith, or “Same Shit, Another $60.” Can’t say “NOPE” enough.

Like I said, this was just a quick little post to remind myself to not let this site sit as dormant as Capcom does with Megaman. As always any comments or concerns you can add them below or catch me on my twitter feed @ithinkibrokeit. Thanks for reading.

Yeah, Metal Gear Solid 2 sucks. It’s the worst of the series by far. Deal. With. It.

Video Game Review: The Bouncer

Nope, this site isn’t dead. It was just sleeping.

For this year’s Review a Bad Game Day I picked a game that I legitimately hate, and one that I feel gets far too many good reviews. The Bouncer for PS2 is the kind of mediocre, by the numbers crap that caused me to dislike much of Japanese games, and Squaresoft in particular, for a long time. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “But Derik, that’s a good game! Lots of people love it! Quit being at troll!” To which I respond: Shut the hell up. This is a review, which is by definition subjective, and I personally hate this game. If you do enjoy this game, I have nothing against you. I just hate the damned thing. Your mileage may vary blah blah blah.

With that said, let’s bring the headers back from vacation.


The story is about a bouncer with stupid clothes and ridiculous hair – huge surprise, I know – and his two friends who team up to save some girl that the main character is into from some evil corporation. Yawn.  If you’re expecting something groundbreaking, they you picked the wrong game.

Wait a minute. Protagonist gets the hots for a random girl he just met while possessing a wardrobe powered by stupidity and a moronic haircut. A rescue from an evil corporation. Jesus, Square. Just admit you ripped off Final Fantasy VII again. Sigh. Next.


One thing I’ll never fault Square on is that they know how to get the most out of the consoles they release games for. The Bouncer’s graphics still hold up, and the music is very well done. It leans a bit too much towards the pop side for my tastes, but that’s just me.  What’s very interesting about this section is that The Bouncer was the first PS2 game to use Dolby 5.1 surround sound. It also avoids the classic “mismatched audio to mouth animation” that far too many Japanese games displayed as the graphics were reworked for the English translation to match up. A very nice bit of extra polish for those of us who don’t speak Japanese.  A gold star for effort on the presentation, Square.

For some reason I seem to pick bad games that have no faults graphically. Weird.


Here’s where it gets bad. The problem is that The Bouncer suffers heavily from “Metal Gear Solid Syndrome.” The game is a run of the mill 3D beat em up, but the gameplay is so sparse compared to the overwrought cutscenes as to barely qualify as a game. Seriously, if you don’t have problems with difficulty, you can beat this game quick enough that it almost plays like a freaking demo. This is admittedly a pet peeve of mine as I feel that the VERY FIRST thing that any developer should be concerned about is the gameplay.  If I wanted to watch a damned movie, I would watch a damned movie. I paid $50 for this thing when it released because I was a dumb kid who loved FFVII and FFVIII and thought this would be great. I was dead wrong.

I know some of you out there don’t care about the cutscene:gameplay ratio. This game may not be bad to you, but it makes the game dreck to me.  The excellent RazorFist on YouTube states that any game that fails at what it hopes to be is by definition a bad game. I would add the corollary that any game that has you spend more time in cut scenes than kicking mooks in the nugget pouch is a failure at being a game.

Shit’s Weak

I mostly covered that in the previous section but I’ll cover a couple of admittedly minor things here. First of all, the characters embody every stupid freaking trope of Japanese games. Their clothes look like they were either put together as a dare or selected by someone who was both blind, deaf, and incredibly stupid.  The main character wears a necklace of sufficient size as to remind you of a dog’s collar. The token “slow, but strong” character actually has horns. I mean, seriously, sometimes I wonder if Japanese developers were just screwing with us to see how far they could go before we said “WTF?!”

I fully admit that I have very little tolerance for the kind of crap I mentioned in the JRPG Tropes That Must Die entry, so take this with a few dozen grains of salt. Still though, that one asshole has freaking horns.

Is It Worth It

Honestly, since you can buy PS2 games for dirt cheap prices nowadays, it might well be worth it to own the Bouncer. Unlike a lot of PS1 games many PS2 games have aged very gracefully in the graphics department, and The Bouncer rates among them.  If you can find it for around $5 – $10 I say go for it. A game has to suck MIGHTILY to be worth less than a fiver. Shaq Fu comes to mind.

If you want a GAME then you won’t find The Bouncer worth it.  I can’t personally enjoy a game that puts so much emphasis on being a somewhat interactive movie so I wouldn’t recommend it much.  It barely qualifies as a game in my eyes, but I admit to being hard on cutscene-heavy games. I prefer the gameplay to be front and center, not overuse Japanese game tropes. Or Western ones for that matter.

Again, this game may be right up your alley and if so I’m happy for you. RABGD is a great event because it shows how verily differently many gamers interpret “bad game” and is always interesting. I hope you at least thought for a second about this game and enjoyed my explanation of why I think it’s so bad. It’s a niche game, and I am certainly not the niche it aims at.

If you want an objectively bad game, then go play Madden or something.

Saving Video Games : Individualism

The smallest minority is the individual. Ayn Rand

Yeah, I quoted Ayn Rand. Deal with it.

A lot of gamers rightfully bemoan the cookie cutter state of many popular games today.  With things such as Call of Duty, Madden and any number of three shades of brown “realistic” FPS games flooding the market like so many cockroaches it’s understandable to be cynical about the state of games today.  The fact that so many blatant copies exist today and too many self described “hardcore” gamers buy them like so many zombies can make even the sunniest optimist turn more cynical than Mark Twain. The problem has been well identified, but the solutions are as myriad as the cockroach games themselves.  The standard refrains of “capitalism is bad!” are of course thrown about like such morons are like to do but that’s inherently not the problem. People obviously have a demand for such product, and the market responds. Capitalism is working perfectly fine in this situation. In fact, a more basic part of a capitalist philosophy would save videogames, not to mention music which is suffering the same fate. We have to bring back the individual to media.

This sounds weird on its face, I’ll grant. After all, great music and games were made in collaboration and will continue to be made. What I mean is to bring back the individualism of games that made such diverse games as Super Mario Bros and Mass Effect. Today, too many games are made by committees of marketing executives who’ve likely never played a game in their lives so they end up like most things do when made by committee: bland, indistinguishable, and boring. Instead, we need to bring back that individualism that allows for games as different as Mario Kart and Gran Turismo to happily coexist. It’s much better for gamers, and gaming in general, to have varied offerings.

If we allow game developers to make games that don’t necessarily subscribe to a predetermined formula we can get more of the classic games that truly define a console generation. Does anyone really want this generation to be remembered as the “Overly Brown First Person Shooter Era?” With this generation being the first to truly adopt digital distribution which coincided perfectly with the rise of indie development we have a perfect storm for truly individual games to make their return. By removing the barriers of expensive publishing and printing of physical media a large hindrance to this idea has been thoroughly removed. Yet too many downloadable games are as cookie cutter as any brown shooter.

I will counter one argument against this by saying that not all examples of games that aren’t cookie cutter are good games. You can make a game that’s very unique that still sucks. I like some indie games, but a lot of them are just pretentious garbage. It could be too many go for Maximum Quirky, but also many forget that the most important thing about any video game is how it plays, but I digress. Nor will any new “AAA” IP be necessarily good. The amount of terrible flops released in the last few years certainly proves that claim. A unique game is not necessarily going to be good, but making games more diverse will certainly result in some more amazing titles that can revolutionize the industry.

I’m not saying that this will be an overnight fix, not by a long shot. All I’m suggesting is that taking a gamble on doing something different is something that more developers need to try because that’s what truly moves gaming forward. All of the fancy graphics in the world don’t mean one single thing if the games released for those consoles are the same as those from a previous generation, just glossied up. The individual nature of classic games is why they’re still classic: Nothing else was like them. Not every new IP will be a Mass Effect or a Portal, but by not even trying we’ll never have that chance at all.

One Sane Man: All Light Guns Blazing

I am an unabashed fan of guns. Ignoring all politics, I find shooting guns to be a fun and relaxing hobby. Wasting some ammo against empty cans, bottles or the standard paper targets is a great way to spend an afternoon. However, I can’t always go and shoot, so I’ve had to make do with gaming shooters. I could play a gun based game at home even when the weather was crappy or I just didn’t feel like getting out. I miss the old days when you could grab your Zapper, Justifier, Menacer or Super Scope and blast baddies all day long. I miss going to the arcade – well just that period, but I digress- and wasting quarters with Time Crisis, Lethal Enforcers or even CarnEvil. I want to be able to do that again, and maybe kill that damned dog.

You know bloody well what dog I’m referring to. If not, you’re too young.

The problem is not with dogooding morons in politics or media. The problem is that badass giant flat screen you’ve got in your living room. The technology used in new TVs is simply incompatible with traditional light gun gaming. Because of this in modern gaming traditional shooters have gone by the wayside, with only a few sterling examples left like House of the Dead: Overkill.

That right there is what I’m alluding to. With modern technology like the Wii remote or the PlayStation Move we can replicate the feel of traditional light gun gaming while still using modern tech. I see no reason why these games can’t make a comeback, and we don’t need them to be the highest of high definition or backed by a budget rivaling Congress. We just need them to be fun.

The problem that a lot of people have is that they try to view the classic light gun games through the prism of modern media. We’re not looking for something that aims to be complex and deep – usually failing, but I’ll critique modern “action” movies later – we want fun. The proper basis for a light gun game is not modern action films, it’s the classic 80’s action films.  These films were the overly macho destruction fests with minimal plot and maximum explosions.  While some had interesting plots with great writing such as The Terminator or First Blood* most were like Commando.

The plot was simple, the explosions glorious and everyone loved it. Simply put, a retired Special Forces badass has his daughter kidnapped by a presidente of some El Banana Republico. He then invades and kills half of the population of that country with machine guns, rocket launchers and even throwing a circular saw blade through a dude’s skull. HELL YES it’s awesome! That’s what I want to come back. Bombastic (pun intended), over the top, unapologetic destruction with a plot that only exists to give reason to the booms.  Just give me a Wii Zapper or a PS Move gun and let me blast bad guys who are pure evil terrorists or some shit like that. Let me be less like modern whiny heroes and much much more like later Rambo or Charles Bronson. Don’t give me ruminations on violence or deconstructions. The only deconstructions I want are the buildings where dictators live being deconstructed with heavy explosives.

I realize I’m just one man – one SANE man – but would it really be hard to make a cheap downloadable game that satisfies this craving? You don’t need fancy graphics or fantastic voice acting. Just give us classic sprites, passable actors and a shit load of ammo. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me on this, but that’s  why it’s called One sane man.

Gun Tropes That Must Die

I’m expanding this one to include any fiction, just because I can. Deal with it.

As any fan of firearms can tell you most media gets guns horribly, horribly wrong.  Beyond the simple things like hip firing being completely accurate or never ending magazines that any idiot can tell you are wrong there are dozens of things that people take for granted. I’m not Mythbusters, and I’m certainly not an expert shooter (I’d say I’m a fair shot) but I can tell that a few tropes are unendingly wrong. Let’s take a few on.

Silver Bullets

Yeah. I know. How else do you kill a werewolf? The problem is that silver is a malleable metal and is too soft to engage the rifling in a barrel. This limits accuracy and damage. While it is possible to make silver bullets – the second entry here shows how – they are expensive and hard to use. Besides, do I really have to point out how expensive silver is? There’s a reason why lead is the standard bullet: it’s freaking cheap!

A notable aversion is in the absolutely awesome Monster Hunter International series by Larry Correia. In this series the private monster hunters use a bullet based on the Corbon Pow’r Ball which has a ball of silver held by a lead ring. Sort of like a sabot for silver bullets.  The government hunters use a silver alloy which neatly gets around the rifling issue. It does help things that Correia is a former firearms merchant and instructor so he actually knows more than which end goes boom.

Dramatic Cocking

Sigh. There’s a really easy dirty joke. You kids can make it.

In this trope the character uses the sound of cocking their weapon to make a dramatic point or catch someone’s attention. This is freaking stupid. For one, if your weapon wasn’t cocked before you just had an unwieldy club. If it was, you just ejected a perfectly useful round of ammunition. What do I mean?

I’m going to explain this as it applies to a pump action shotgun, as I feel everyone is familiar with them and they are very very user friendly. If the shotgun wasn’t ready to fire then the cocking of the eponymous pump action with bring a shell from the tube magazine into the chamber and ready the gun to fire.  If there is already a shell, fired or unfired, in the chamber then the pump action will eject it and load another. This is how you reload a pump action shotgun after firing a round. A good shotgunner can actually hold down the trigger and use the pump action quickly for fairly rapid fire (not  automatic fire). This is really fun to do while plinking* but is inaccurate as hell and wastes ammo very quickly.

This does produce a very satisfying or – for those to be on the receiving end- terrifying sound. I admit it sounds great and is unmistakable. However, if the character was in a tense situation this means their weapon was not able to fire. Yes. An uncocked weapon will not fire. Cocking is the very action of readying a weapon for use. So if Idiot Protagonist wanted to fire upon an enemy before doing his Dramatic Cocking then he is S.O.L….and probably full of lead.

I can’t really think of any major aversions, but then this trope doesn’t always occur. I think Hollywood has figured out that they can use Wikipedia to make sure their stuff is “realistic.”

Shotguns With No Range

Since I’m already thinking about shotguns, let’s go to this way too common mistake. This is especially common in videogames, where it can usually be excused as balancing mechanics. Meh, it’s still wrong.

For the purposes of this article I’m ignoring things like chokes and extra length barrels, for you nitpickers. A 12 gauge shotgun, the most common size shotgun, is a very powerful weapon. It has to be considering it fires really big rounds. Want proof? Excuse the potato camera off my phone.


That’s a standard Bic lighter for size comparison. The little bullet on the left? That’s a .45 ACP, my personal favorite caliber. It’s .45 caliber because it’s .45 inches wide. Yes, that’s nearly half an inch wide. The round on the right is a standard 00 buckshot (because it’s original purpose is deer hunting) 12 gauge shell.


Yeah, 12 gauge shells are that big. A .45 round is one of the larger pistol caliber bullets you commonly see but the shotgun shell dwarfs it. Now a buckshot round is full of pellets, the titular shot, that spread out over the range of the round. While its power up close is often way overstated, it is still devastating in close quarters. However, the problem with this trope is that shotguns are often shown to have a range far less than a normal pistol because the buckshot spread is so big at that point.

Wrong. A standard shotgun has a range of somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 to 130 feet, give or take. Thanks, Google. Now that’s beyond a pistol for the most part, but far below that of a rifle.  For example, the .223 round and it’s military brother the 5.56 NATO have an effective range of about 900 feet. And that’s for a bullet about the same size of the tiny little .22LR that many shoot for their first firearm.

At the 15 – 40 foot range that this trope seems to place as the far effective end of a scattergun the spread pattern is about the size of a man’s fist. That’s rather large for a bullet but not the giant spread it’s made out to be.  This should be obvious to anyone who’s even seen someone hunt flying game as the range is often in the 50 – 100 foot area and yet the entire bird isn’t coated with buckshot.  Now if you use a slug, or a shotgun shell that is solid metal, the range extends as there is no spread with this. Also, look at the picture of a shotgun shell. See the part that’s dark plastic? Imagine a chunk of lead about that size and you have a shotgun slug. Those will ruin your day.

Also, for some reason pump action shotguns are often depicted as being far more powerful than their semiautomatic or even fully automatic cousins. This is stupid because they usually fire 12 gauge. Stop me if this is too hard to understand, but changing the style of gun does not effect the power of the same round. Yup. 12 gauge is 12 gauge is 12 gauge.

I’ll briefly touch upon sawed off shotguns. As the name implies the majority of the barrel is sawed off. This makes the gun far more concealable and more easily aimed. However, it also makes no difference on the spread as the choke handles that but it does make the gun a beast to fire. Less weight in the gun means less weight to absorb recoil and 12 gauge puts out a lot of force. Sawn off shotguns do look really cool so that’s why you see them a lot in media.  The one place you commonly see such shotguns in real life is the underslung Masterkey that can be affixed underneath the barrel of any rifle with tactical rails, the same as a grenade launcher. These get used primarily to blow the hinges off doors, hence the name. This is also really freaking badass.

“Gangsta” Style Aim

Don’t blame this on my well stated deep hatred for all things rap.  I hate this trope because it should be so blatantly obvious that I shouldn’t have to mention it. This style of aiming is the stylish sideways aim that dominates popular culture currently. The problem is that the sights are top of the fucking gun. Seriously, even those out there who’ve never so much as seen a gun in real life should know this is wrong. Let’s use a mental image that is iconic and easy to interpret. Imagine a sniper rifle. Notice how the big scope is at the top of the gun? That’s because like all guns the iron sights are on tip of a sniper rifle. Now, unless you are a relentless badass sniping god like the legendary Simo Häyhä, the White Death, you use a scope on your rifle.  Seriously, read up on that man’s exploits. Movies don’t make a sniper as badass as the White Death.

Now I realize you never see a sniper rifle held as such, except for parody. It’s usually pistols. The only way using a gun like this isn’t stupid is when it’s point blank, and I mean point blank. Unless you can lean forward just a bit and poke your target with your gun you will be inaccurate firing like this. For one the recoil will screw up your aim even more as you don’t have it competing against the opposite force of gravity as when firing normal. This will of course vary with the caliber of the gun but it will still affect your shots.

Beyond that, you have no real way to accurately aim your gun as the tools for aiming are now on the side of the pistol. While pistols don’t have the ungodly range sometimes shown in media they do have a range and can be quite accurate at such in skilled hands. Said skilled hands are also using the sights, which is what the damned things were designed for.  To put it simply: Fire your gun like a real shooter will. The sights are on top for a fucking reason, use them. You don’t look cool to anybody who knows how to fire a gun. A lot of shooters consider gangsta style shooter the hallmark of a newbie. A stupid newbie for that matter.

An excellent aversion is in Metal Gear Solid 3. EVA uses a Chinese Type 96 pistol, a copy of the classic Mauser Broomhandle. You know what gun I’m talking about of course. You don’t? But it’s a historical classic! Sigh. Fine. Han Solo’s blaster is just a prop Broomhandle with special effects. Bloody history illiterates. Anyway, the Chinese often fired this gun sideways to deal with the awkward cartridge ejection and to use the recoil to set up a sweeping effect to fire at multiple targets. MGS3 obviously had some excellent firearm advisors, as evidenced by the gun porn conversation where Snake describes his 1911. For the record said pistol is my favorite gun ever made and what I consider the greatest gun ever designed.

I’ve been longwinded and somewhat aggressive in taking on these tropes but that’s because I’m so freaking tired of seeing them get used.  A simple trip to the omniscient Google would render any of these tropes stupid at face value but they still get put out as if they are the honest truth. Not only is Hollywood, and the games industry, out of ideas they can’t even handle basic knowledge. This explains why they still try to call rap “music.”


*Plinking is informal target shooting. If you’re just shooting at empty cans or the like and aren’t really worried about accuracy more than “on the can” then you are plinking. It’s really fun, though. I suggest who gets the chance to plink with a responsible gun owner to do so. Just wear eye and ear protection, please?

Video Game Review: Super Mario Bros 3

For this year’s Review a Great Game Day I decided to go for the big one, the greatest game ever made. After all, what game could be greater than the best ever made? Yes, I realize some of you reading this may disagree with me on what the best ever is. You heretics are wrong.

For anyone who has questions on the review format here, check out the page Notes on Reviews for an explanation. Now, the headings.


At its heart Super Mario Bros 3 is the standard Mario storyline: Bowser is a dick, kidnaps the princess, plumber kicks turtle/dragon/Koopa ass and saves her.  SMB3 expands upon this classic story by introducing 7 kingdoms besides the Mushroom Kingdom and Bowser’s realm that show Bowser being a threat to multiple lands instead of just the Mushroom Kingdom. This comes back in later tiles such as the Mario & Luigi games and even Super Mario Land. Each world has its own unique feel and design that completely set them apart from each other. The levels in each world all are quite varied and show some impressive creativity for the sheer amount of levels the game offers.

Also, the ending features a classic Mario reference turned on its head, and that’s always good.


The Super Mario series has always been a groundbreaking series. From the first entry that literally brought back American console gaming from the brink to Super Mario 64 which invented 3D platforming the series is full of highpoints – the less said about Super Mario 2/Doki Doki Panic the better- to which SMB3 is one of the top entries. The NES’s graphics could be impressive if used correctly and very very few games did it better than SMB3. Every level is colorful with excellent music, while keeping that aforementioned uniqueness to each world in every design.

The music is excellent, as is fitting for a Mario game. While the iconic Super Mario theme is not found in game the themes for the levels are well written and sound great. A good amount of the songs for this game come back in later titles in the series for that lovely little hit of nostalgia necessary for games like the New Super Mario series, which I think are just giant love letters to SMB3 any way. You won’t have any problems with the music or graphics, unless you’re actively looking for reasons to dislike them.


Here is where I start gushing. There is no platformer that has ever gotten the physics of the genre as right as SMB3. This is one of the very earliest platformers to offer the player a choice in how to progress in the same to the extent of sometimes ignoring entire levels if you choose to do so. I’ve beaten this game dozens of times and I can’t remember the last time I played Level 1-4.

Each world has varying paths you can take to change how the world itself plays out. Even on the world map there are secrets to discover, such as the island of Japan in the water world or a Warp Whistle in the desert world.  The levels themselves have tons of secrets to find or earn in the case of the secret mushroom house or the coin ship. Scattered throughout the worlds are minigames that can earn you extra lives or powerups. The mushroom houses that offer powerups have returned in the New Super Mario Bros series of games, as a nice little connection to their progenitor.  Every single world offers unique gameplay that is amazing as it is fun.  The classic Super Mario gameplay is here in full force, with some interesting applications of the tried and true methods that make the game more interesting.  For one excellent example is the level in Desert World that features Mario on the run from an angry sun instead of being the one in control. 

The controls are absolutely perfect and allow the player to control Mario with ease. The new powerups feature Mario’s first attempts at flight and allow for many interesting ways to get past troublesome levels. The Hammer Bros Suit is unique in that it is only found in one world of the game, yet can one hit kill any enemy, up to and including Bowser. The levels are varied and quite challenging which offers the player a great amount of replayability. Yes it’s a somewhat hard game but like many of the “good” difficult games it’s never cheap. A good game is difficult when it takes skill but you never feel like any death was the result of something you cannot control. The screwups that kill off your lives are yours and yours alone. I’m okay with that. If you can’t stand challenge, why play a game at all?

The world map, branching paths and myriad progress options have not only dictated the structure of all Mario titles after wards, but of platformers and often action games themselves since.  It’s arguably the platform game all 2D/2.5D platformers since have attempted to copy and I’d claim it to be the true forefather of what Super Mario 64 became. It’s one of the most influential games ever made and my pick as the single greatest game ever developed. Yes. It’s that damn good.

Shit’s Weak

Nothing. I can’t see anything at all that is wrong with this flawless title. Some modern gaming morons might complain about the pixel graphics or it being “dated.” However, I feel any complaints that one might throw this game’s direction are simply because they are trying to find anything whatsoever wrong with this game. Those people will be sorely disappointed as they can search all they want. There are no flaws.

Is It Worth It?

Absolutely. If you can yourself a retrogamer or a collector you MUST have this game in your library. It’s one of the most common games for NES, despite what some idiots may believe, and is available for Wii, WiiU and soon the 3DS Virtual Consoles.  It’s been ported to the SNES as part of Super Mario All-Stars and had an excellent port released for the Gameboy Advance.  Every single one of these releases is in the $5-$15 range so they can be had for excellent prices. I’d recommend the NES original of course, but I’m a fan of using the real items whenever possible.

This is a timeless, flawless classic that every single gamer needs to experience. I don’t care what kind of gamer you call yourself. Even the most disgusting of modern gaming fanboys are doing themselves a disservice by not playing this game.  There may be a game released one day that outdoes it. That game is not one I ever think I’ll get to play.

TL;DR: Play this game. There is not a better game that exists. Play. This Game. Now.

Revenge of Video Game Tropes That Must Die!

It’s that time, when I go after those same tropes in games that just won’t go away. We’ve all seen them and these damn things have long overstayed their welcome. Instead of sticking to just JRPGs as in the last entry, I’m going after tropes in all of gaming. Let’s get to it.


Now, part of this is I really really hate deconstructions. The rest is that it’s way overused by “edgy” writers or those who want to act like they’re above classics in storytelling or gaming. At its core deconstruction is to apply stories or elements from fictional media and see how it would actual work in the real world.  Sometimes this can be done rather well, but it is always to be followed by reconstruction. This reconstruction takes the comments made by the deconstruction and applies them so that the media resembles the original but works in real situations. Look, just go read the entries on Deconstruction and Reconstruction on TV Tropes for a much better description.

The problem I have with game deconstructions is that not only have most mainstays of gaming been thoroughly deconstructed but most deconstructions lately seem to do so for nothing more than to be darker and edgier. This is stupid. Instead of offering an intelligent take on the tropes of gaming these deconstructions just seem to revel in inane characters who only exist to be horrible assholes that like to murder. These are the games that are edgy or dark simply to be dark and edgy while at the same time posing as some intellectual commentary on the state of gaming. They’re not. If they’re comments on anything it’s that postmodernism is the single stupidest school of thought that has ever existed. Yeah, I just made a philosophy comment on a gaming blog. Achievement unlocked?

A great example of deconstruction unrestrained is Final Fantasy VII. While deconstructing classic JRPG tropes it went so far as to inspire a generation of mopey, emo morons that often got so dark they forgot where they were meaning in the first place.


Lately it seems that far too many good series are attempting to catch the casual crowd by “streamlining” the interface. This isn’t bad on its face but the problem is in the actual implementation which takes away large portions of the gameplay to interest those who don’t game much otherwise. Instead of sticking with proven ideas or even innovating – God knows there’s not enough as is – they cut out “complex” or hard portions of the game so that the casual crowd with their lack of gaming skills can still play the game.

This is bad because it’s part of the current homogenization present in nearly all media that seeks to distill everything down to a bland, dull, grey mediocrity instead of a vibrant creative genre. Streamlining in games lately isn’t about taking away things that needed to be trimmed to make things better. Streamlining today is about making games as little more than barely interactive movies so that those who don’t game often will still want to play. This falls into my hatred of games with far too much cutscene or set piece crap instead of actual gameplay. You want a movie? Watch a freaking movie. If you want to play an actual video game then deal with the fact you may have to try multiple times to progress. You may have to learn how the game works instead of it being like stupid Flappy Bird or something. God forbid games actually have variance or necessitate skill or any sort.

One of my favorite series ever perfectly depicts both the good and the bad of this trope: Mass Effect. The first game’s inventory system absolutely needed to be reworked, and the sequel did so. However, it also started to take away portions of the RPG elements that made the game so great. By taking away more complex portions of the gameplay it made it less of a action RPG and more of a straight up third person shooter. This is sad.


This goes right with the first entry, but there is nothing more worn out than antiheroes. You may think you’re making a cool, edgy character who plays by his own rules. In fact, you are making just another entry in the “Brooding Assholes” category that has infected all of media since the Dark Ages of the 1990s.  My God, there is nothing more annoying than a gruff, loner type who only fights because there’s some kind of reward in it for him. This is far worse than the classic Knight In Shining Armor could ever be, as the Knight is rarely used as a serious character currently while the Antihero is used like chocolate at the Hershey’s factory.

The perfect example of how bad this character has gotten is the recent game Ride to Hell. Watch any YouTube video on that to see just how much this trope has gone to shit.


An “F’ In Realism

This trope does not apply to any game that is explicitly unrealistic. This is about all the games who try for realism, especially if they are deconstructing something, but fail hard at it. This can be something simple or complex. To illustrate we’ll look at the recent Tomb Raider reboot. In this version, Lara gets new weapons from guns she finds around the island the game takes place on. She eventually finds a working submachine gun that appears to be a Russian PPSh (I’m a huge history nerd and a gun nut, deal with it). She can later on acquire enough parts to turn her SMG into an assault rifle resembling an AK47.  THAT’S NOT HOW GUNSMITHING WORKS! This is literally converting a firearm in a pistol caliber to something in full rifle caliber (much bigger and more powerful) while completely changing how the gun would work as the AK action is one of the most unique in all of firearms. Basic freaking research would have told the writers this but, nope. Here’s gunsmithing magic!

I loathe this trope because they get to parade their game as gritty and realistic while being unrealistic in obvious spots. Games like Call of Duty pride themselves on a realistic war simulator but people heal from getting shot in the face by sitting down a few seconds. That’s not how medicine works.  The same games feature limitless respawns but nobody says a word. “Realistic” games continue to go on being completely unrealistic while their idiotic defenders slobber out their mindless diatribes on why CoD is better than any other game.

Hell yes, I’m a bitter man. Why do you ask?


I doubt any of these tropes will go away anytime soon just because some random dude on the internet hates them. The one thing I really want to do with these entries is get people to actually think about the worn out tropes of games just a bit and why they still get used. If nothing else, that means someone actually thought about their hobby more than what game should I play next and that would be a good start.

Putting Social Commentary In Its Place

Heads up: Small political commentary in the last paragraph. I put a bold type warning if you want to skip it. It’s hard to avoid mentioning politics in a post like this. Sorry.

This post was formed from me randomly browsing Patreon this morning when I noticed that many of the items under gaming featured way too many social issue buzzwords and too little actual content description. I ranted on Twitter about this but I feel this is a topic that needs a bit more than I can express 140 characters at a time.

Social commentary by itself is not a bad thing. I am far from left wing and therefore at most “meh” on social commentary in journalism today but it’s one of the ways that we keep ourselves honest. Commenting on social issues in games isn’t a bad thing by itself, even if most times it’s overwrought, overblown, and pretentious to a degree that makes Kanye West seem humble. However, much like fire and gunpowder in a small area combining the two makes for a giant mess that overshadows the actual use of either original part.

Whenever I read a game review I expect to hear the author’s opinion on the game itself, ultimately deciding if the game is good or not. I am not interested in the review to hear about whatever buzzwords the moron author Googled long enough to add to their word count. I am not interested in how various story tropes represent male fascist domination blah blah blah blah. This kind of crap is what editorials were invented for. If I read your review I want to know only what you thought of how the game played.  Save your social justice warrior bullshit for its own place.

To be fair this problem has infected other forms of journalism as well, perhaps none so disgustingly as sports. I don’t really care about “human interest” ridiculousness. I don’t care about the athlete’s backstory. I just want to know who want in this game and by how much. I can read up on the backstory later. I understand part of that is commentators apparently don’t know how to fill up time on broadcasts except with stupid inanity such as this but I’m not cutting someone making millions to report on sports they would watch for free any slack on this. Why should I cut someone who writes on games for a living any more?

As an aside, just because you string together various social bullshit together in describing your work does not in any way improve it. You can spend hours telling me all the ways your work is gender neutral or LBGQTWTFBBQ friendly or whatever’s noteworthy this week and it won’t matter. All I’ll want to know is “Is your stuff any good? Does it tell me what I need to know/play very well?” Don’t try to act like your game is art because it plays to whatever social issue is currently buzzworthy and ignore the fact that the game itself is just shit wrapped in a pretty bow. If you can’t make anything people will want to play except by selling it to morons who just want their viewpoints validated by everything they possess then maybe, just maybe you should go into a different line of work.

To finish, I’m going to state unequivocally that social commentary has its place. It just does not need to be the sole feature of a game or especially the main content of anything claiming to be a review. POLITICS WARNING So long as there are those who would force others to accept the lifestyle some deem to be fit then we will need social commentary. Until we can convince others that at the very least every human being should be allowed to live the lifestyle they choose so long as the rights of others are not harmed we need those who will point out what’s wrong with society. The problem is really those who get too overzealous and start looking for problems where there is none. Those are the ones I’m after.  For the record, I’m far from a social conservative. Hell, I’m in favor of allowing multiple partner & same sex marriages if some want them. Doesn’t mean I want this bullshit bashed over my skull every time I check to see what games are worth  buying this month. END POLITICS If you want to commentate on social issues, please do so. Stand athwart at history, yelling stop. Just don’t tell me you’re writing a review when you do so.