Thursday, August 16

Game Fight!: Mario vs. Sonic. Let's Settle This.

by Seth Macy

Is there any rivalry in video games more legendary than the Nintendo/Sega schism of the '90s? That's not a rhetorical question: I'm at a loss to think of any others, so if you have any ideas, post them to the comments. Since the Nintendo/Sega rivalry is the biggest that comes immediately to mind, I've decided to focus on the two games that defined an era, those games being Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario World, both available right now on Wii's Virtual Console for less than ten bucks.

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Thursday, August 09

Game Fight!: "Final Fantasy '6'" vs "Final Fantasy VII"

by Seth Macy

The worst thing that ever happened to Japanese RPGs was Final Fantasy VII. In 1997, Square had grown weary of Nintendo's bold and crappy experiment with chunky cartridge-based entertainment and jumped the Nintendo ship to land the next game in their enormously popular franchise in the calm, welcoming Sony port-of-call. For those of us who cut our teeth on RPGs with the Final Fantasy franchise, this move seemed like the ultimate betrayal...for about three seconds until we saw the screen-shots and any allegiances we may have had went careening off a cliff on a snowboard.

It had three-dimensional graphics! The game spanned like seventeen discs! There was a black guy in it, and he cursed! Final Fantasy VII wiped clean our preconceived notions of what an RPG was supposed to be. Until then, they were 2D, top-down dungeon crawlers with battles taking place on a mostly static screen with animation limited to a sword slicing or some sparkling pixels (the sparkling pixels meant magic). But it wasn't just the graphical leap that captured our stupid imaginations, it was a whole new convoluted storyline with a twist right there at the end of disc one. You know, the part when Aeris dies. (THE PRECEDING SENTENCE MAY HAVE CONTAINED SPOILERS).

The unintended consequence of that story-telling decision was to create a world in which many gamers point to the Aeris-dying moment as the moment some gamers point to as the moment when a game was able to make them cry. For those of you not "in the know," a game making you cry is a very important event for gaming. You see, if a game can draw from its player the same sort of emotion that a book or a movie can, then games will finally be art. This is extremely important, for some reason, that games be considered art, and so those people who cried when Aeris died consider FFVII to be the moment when games crossed the threshold from electronic distraction to high-art. Have you ever been on a gaming message board ? There's going to be a Sephiroth variant among the users. Sometimes, more than one

"I can't believe we're having this conversation AGAIN."

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Thursday, August 02

Game Fight!: "My Horse" & "Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD"

by Seth Macy

The Tony Hawk games, at least the first four, are arguably the most important games ever released in the genre of "extreme sports" simulations. See, back in the early '90s, "extreme sports" was a marketing term that was employed to describe any sport that didn't involve team play and also including the riding of something, like a skateboard or a snowboard or a surfboard or a bicycleboard. Riding on something is what separated X-Treme Doritos Brand X-Plosion SPRTS from regular individual sports like tennis or bowling.

My Horse is a free-to-play iOS game that has everything other sports games lack: pageantry, unlocking pretty horse gear, and chores. "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD" is currently 1200 Microsoft points on Xbox Live (that's fifteen Earth dollars) while My Horse is "freemium," which means you can play it for free but if you want to eschew grinding through the horse levels you can buy in-game currency with real-world money to get things moving.

So which is your best bet for fun and excitement?

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Tuesday, June 19

I'm in an Abusive Relationship with Madden

by Randall Cleveland

I love football. I love video games. So it should come as no surprise that I buy Madden NFL Football, the annual sports sim EASports releases so that dorks like me can live out their gridiron fantasies. Not, like, "Oooh, kiss me down THERE, Tom Landry," fantasies. More like, "I just won the Super Bowl for my hometown team!" kind of fantasies. But I don't judge if you go for the former. 

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Wednesday, March 07

The Trivial Eye: The Many Faces of Mario

by Jason Toon

How well do you know one of the greatest fictional icons of our age: Mario? He's not exactly Uncle Vanya or Holly Golightly in the complexity department. But that blankness is Mario's greatest asset. Whatever he's doing - playing hockey, fighting giant turtles, dressing up like a raccoon - we never say "Mario wouldn't do that!" Can you identify which games (or whatever...) these portraits of the multifaceted Italian plumber were taken from?

Answers can be found by clicking here. Please post your guesses, speculations, or arguments below! But know this: the Trivial Eye is presented for public amusement and no prizes are offered other than that familiar feeling of aggravation that so much of your mind is occupied by useless trivia.

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Wednesday, January 25

The Trivial Eye: Atari 2600 Box Art

by Jason Toon

The fanciful/deceptive artwork on Atari 2600 game packaging wasn't just a marketing come-on. It was an essential component of the gameplay itself, often the only way for us to know whether a certain clump of squares was supposed to be a dragon, a spaceship, or a linebacker. Peruse the gallery of kitsch classics below (all from boxes for Atari-manufactured games - no Activision, Imagic, etc.) and see how many you can name. One thing is certain: all of them were much more exciting than the games themselves.

Answers can be found by clicking here. Please post your answers, or arguments, below! But know this: the Trivial Eye is presented for public amusement and no prizes are offered other than that familiar feeling of aggravation that so much of your mind is occupied by useless trivia.

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