Enhancing History: Video Games And The Forgotten Experiences

Hey Gamers,

I’d like to first begin with an apology, but I feel as if I need to explain myself a bit before it will make any sense. So instead, I think I’ll start by mentioning I’m a fan of proverbs and adages, as I feel the truly powerful ones bare relevancy no matter the time period. I discovered such a quotation recently in trying to relive the past, and I thought I’d share it with you today.

Arena Best Techniques
That’s a quote from Arena, the first Elder Scrolls game that came out in 1994. The quote is from a fictional character, yes, but the statements power remains intact, and I refuse to discredit fiction as irrelevant. In any case, Arena will be the crux of what I am discussing today, in trying to right a wrong by celebrating a video game from the past, and an experience that we should not allow to remain buried in amnesia and obscurity.

Speaking of loving adages, there goes an old saying along the lines of “History is doomed to repeat itself”, a sentiment I think a lot of us don’t apply to our every day.

Peter Molyneux 2

Or Ever

Despite humans having self-awareness and adaptability, we are routinely forgetful and inflexible , very often forgetting mistakes we’ve already made, and having the unwillingness to avoid making them again. This applies just as much to video games as it does to the every day, as companies, developers and even gamers mistakenly repeat themselves, almost hilariously so, every generation. Online focused experiences being a prime example of how our over promises, deluded optimism, and even personal expectations all get the better of us…despite the fact that we’ve all been guilty of the exact same failings already.

 It's Like This Has Never Happened Before

It’s Like This Has Never Happened Before

People under delivering or over expecting too much are common themes throughout game history. Seemingly, we as a collective are routinely surprised by all of our missteps, I speculate, due to a cyclical cycle we all help to create. In the case of forgetting the past and being disappointed by the future, we want the latest and greatest thing, and we all regularly make the mistake of defaulting to the idea that the latest thing must be the greatest thing, which is not a guaranteed reality. Maybe it doesn’t always seem so apparent or easy in the moment to not delude ourselves so much, which leads me to invoke another old phrase “hindsight is 20/20″. Whatever leads us to forget the past or expect too much from the future, we do it time and time again, ad infinitum etc etc.

So it goes.

And On And On It Goes.

And On And On It Goes.

Despite my rather sporadic attempts in looking at some of gamings biggest offenders in repeating their past mistakes, this article is not reviewing major industry oversights and the mediums biggest offenders.  As I previously mentioned, I’m looking  specifically at The Elder Scrolls: Arena, and just how it manged to slip through the cracks of gaming history due to some bizarre unluckiness. This entire article was inspired by another write up I read over at Gamasutra, where Felipe Pepe writes about the dangers of letting the gaming industry “curates its own past”, a dangerous process brought upon by what I’ve already discussed, which is indeed setting our expectations for the future so high, while simultaneously forgetting what made our pasts so great.

One of the key ideas that acted as a Genesis for this very article were some of Pepes very first written lines:

“Recently I was asked to give a short lesson about CRPG history in a game design class of about 30 students. I started by asking how many had played Skyrim. All raised their hands. Then I asked how many considered themselves to be really hardcore fans of the Elder Scrolls series. About 60% kept their hands raised. The next question: “how many of you played Oblivion”? Now only 20% still has held their hands high. Only two hands remained in the air when I asked about Morrowind, and none at all when I asked about Daggerfall and Arena.”

What I Assume Pepes Reaction Looked Like

As Pepe goes on to discuss, one of the reasons this revelation baffled him was due to the fact that these students were going to school for game design, a majority of which had identified as “hardcore Elder Scrolls Fans”. My own reaction was similar to Pepe,at least in regards to almost none of them having played Morrowind. I remind you now that Morrowind was a  game that came out in 2002, and one of which I’ve seen second hand retail and on Steam sale for less than ten dollars. I chuckle now in defense of topical ignorance, however, as when I worked at Gamestop back when Oblivion was coming out, before the title had even launched, the majority of people didn’t even know the game belonged to “The Elder Scroll Series”, merely thinking Oblivion was the direct sequel to the “first installment”: Morrowind.

The Well Known Sequel In The Morrowind Series

The Well Known Sequel In The Morrowind Series

I’m basically trying to give an ounce of credit to the design students, as gamers who were excited for Oblivion in it’s prime didn’t even know what the hell the game technically was, so here here to observation levels failing all around.

Digressing back to Pepes article, and as he rightfully observes, the two earliest titles(both Arena and Daggerfall) which none of the students had played, are indeed freely available to download on the internet by Bethesda themselves, so the excuses for not having played any of the prior titles were extremely limited. When he confronted the students about not having played the old games, they admitted in being embarrassed about their lack of interaction with the old titles, but their defenses were simple: they were “old games, that had dated badly and were outclassed by newer releases”…basically disregarding the games as lesser quality, despite not having actually played any of them.

In essence, their unfounded views disregarded an amazing series and in turn, devalued the older titles and gaming history itself because:
“old, who cares lol”.

YOU'RE ALL TO BLAME THAT HISTORY HAS DIED

YOU’RE ALL THE REASON HISTORY IS DYING

Pepe goes on to discuss just why gaming history is often forgotten, but his observations of why are another article I will write at a later date. His one point I will echo is indeed that the video game industry is one of the mediums that disregards its past work as inferior on a regular basis, to help create quality for the new products, going back to the “latest and greatest” premise I framed earlier. A lot of this is due to video games having this weird in-between relationship to both business and artistry, and how more so than books, music or movies, they are at the whim of technology, with games constantly disrespectful to past endeavors for new projects, and ultimately failing to preserve their meaning as time marches on.

There are some obvious points to be made in defense of people not playing older games, and some reasonable arguments I could frame against why much of gaming’s past is forgotten. I mean, the logistics of someone trying to sink so much time (100’s of hours) into what normally amounts to a casual side hobby is unreasonable, especially if you take into account that I’m a paid game writer who loves the medium, and can still only enjoy a fraction of what exists. I could also mention in regards to the Elder Scrolls series, I have personally clocked in close to a thousand hours on separate Elder Scrolls titles, and how (obviously) that becomes difficult to do five times over while maintaining any kind of non-video game playing existence…

MUST NOT SLEEP UNTIL EXPERIENCED ALL OF HISTORY

MUST NOT SLEEP UNTIL EXPERIENCED ALL OF HISTORY

So in one sense, yes….experiencing all of history is well, impossible. So, it follows why many never look to their past or history in general, as just about every one of us simply doesn’t have enough time in our modern day to day period, let alone putting aside precious moments for a fictional universe that we visit occasionally.

However, in an effort at reframing my stance in writing this article, and in acknowledgement of what Pepe has observed, the history of where we come from is important, and preserving it should remain a priority and a valuable endeavor. Furthermore, it should be tasked to someone relevant in the field to preserve it as cleanly as possible, and to make sure we recognize and celebrate those who have helped to make it happen. Pepe does put forth another old phrase “history is written by the victors”, which is an unavoidable side effect of record keeping, but in his own assessments on video game history, many of the victors don’t even bother remembering their own victories, which I feel is unique once again to video games as a medium.

Though I could end on the salient point of respecting our past and preserving history, there is plenty more to say about this topic, and a point of…well, guilt that I have not yet touched upon. See, some of my best writing (EDIT: All of my writing) comes from a hands on experience: video games are an interactive medium after all. While it’s true I was inspired to write this article after reading Felipe Pepes enlightening write up, this response article was more invoked by a sense of guilty inspiration as opposed to acting out as a finger wagging soap box. This is due to the rather comical fact that despite loving video game history, old school titles, and a regular fan of the Elder Scrolls series for well over a decade now…I actually haven’t played the first two games in the series (Arena or Daggerfall) either.

*clears throat*

Now, I know what you’re thinking

YOU'RE ALL TO BLAME THAT HISTORY HAS DIED

YOU’RE THE REASON HISTORY IS DYING

I would quickly like to use a finger of my own and say

Give Me A Minute, Here

Hold On

I apologize, and do admit fault in shaking my head at those students earlier, as I’m just as guilty as they are. Believe me, I am myself quite shocked I have failed in revisiting Arena or Daggerfall up to this point, despite their value and how much they tie into my own experience of playing, thinking, and talking about video games. I, however, like to right my wrongs, which is what this article is an attempt to do. I’m acknowledging I want to preserve history, and help maintain it’s value in reminding us where we came from, and why it still matters to this day. Having made this important realization, I resolved myself to download Arena and record my own thoughts, to enhance history and celebrate the remembrance of worthwhile video games, and the forgotten experiences they are

So, with a renewed purpose in mind, a sense of wonder in my heart, and a confidence I could contribute to gaming culture, I, Pashford Murano, set out to do something worth a damn, and went back and downloaded the first Elder Scrolls Game: Arena, to record it’s greatness, share it’s rich value, and revel in the epic journey and grand adventure Arena truly represents.

Wait...I Have To Run It In DOS?

…err

…it gets grander. Really.

(To Be Continued)

~Pashford

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A Leaf On The Wind

Hey Gamers,

Just popping in to say hi. Though I have plenty of work to do elsewhere, I thought I would take a moment to follow up on a comment I made a few days ago. When I was pondering my write up on Mario Kart and Nintendo’s recent crowd pleasing tendencies, I realized I had made a mistake.

Elton John Cat

…it’s a long level story.

Though the failure to mention Elton John in my Mario Kart post was indeed a misstep, it is not the one I was referring to. I was speaking to a mistake that was thoughtless on my part, as it was even more forgetful for a more important reason. Let me explain…

In my last post, I stated the following:

“This makes the second December in a row I have failed to provide anything meaningful to gaming culture, and for that I apologize.”

I didn’t think this one through too carefully, as I in fact wrote something very meaningful in the month of December, it just wasn’t on Active Time Event, nor was it a very joyous occasion. I’m referring to the small dedication I wrote to Ralph H. Baer, the inventor of the home video game console who passed away on December 6th. Though he lived a long life and left us at the age of 92, it’s never easy seeing someone pass away. Considering how important he was to my life and to our culture at large, it was hard not to get emotional due to his contributions to my life. Despite being down about his death, I knew I had to say thanks in the form of a dedication, as he was an icon who left behind an extraordinary legacy that has brought me endless joy.

Ralph Baer ATEMy farewell to Mr.Baer can be found here for anyone interested, and it links to a lot of other gaming outlets that celebrated the mans passing with some very heartwarming condolences. Even though we’ve lost a very sweet man and an amazing innovator, I feel pleasant knowing I can continue to thank him every time I pick up a controller, or when I write about the joys it brings me. I started re-reading Baer’s book: Video Games: In The Beginning, which is a fantastic read for anyone who’s interested in the history of video games and the birth of a medium. Mr.Baer wrote the entire thing himself, including patents, photographs, original blueprints and documented materials that were used as the premise for the first ever video game console.

Original Design Concepts Proposing A Home Game Console

Ralph Baer’s Original Design Concepts Proposing A Home Game Console (There’s So Many Documents About It!)

 

Seen Here: Ralph Baer Making History. No Biggie.

Seen Here: Ralph Baer Making History. No Biggie.

 

The Completed Prototype

The Completed Prototype! What Glory!

In closing, I apologize for carelessly stating I wrote nothing worthwhile in December, as I may have written one of the most meaningful pieces in the history of my writing. Ralph H. Baer and in essence video games, are why I do what I do every day so happily. Their significance could never be overstated, and Baer will be greatly missed. Though I did not get to meet the man before his passing, I was lucky enough to be able to play on one of his original prototypes called “The Brown Box” at E3 this past year, which speaks volumes to the man’s importance and relevancy even to this day. Despite being in a convention center dedicated to the latest tech, the newest games, and how much promise the future held for both me and gaming, it was playing on Baer’s Brown Box that sticks with me the most.

Pictured: The First Video Game Console Prototype Ever

Pictured: The First Video Game Console Prototype Ever

 

Not Pictured: Me Freaking Out Before This Picture Was Taken Because Of Excitement

Not Pictured: Me Freaking Out Before This Picture Was Taken Because Of Ridiculous Excitement

Thank you Mr.Baer, your thoughtfulness and your care has given me a controller to cry on, and for that, I am forever grateful.

Farewell.

~Pashford

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Drifting Along On The Winds Of Change

Hey Gamers,

As some of you may have noticed, I was woefully absent during the month of December. This makes the second December in a row I have failed to provide anything meaningful to gaming culture, and for that I apologize.

Things Don't Always Work Out As We Hope Them Too

Things Don’t Always Work Out As We Hope Them Too

I’m happy to say the circumstances that lead to my absence this December as opposed to last December were infinitely more preferred. December 2013 was most certainly a devastation, while December 2014 was absolutely a celebration, though the excessive fun having did leave me out in the creative cold.

Seen Here: Me Ringing In The New Year

Seen Here: Me Ringing In The New Year

That’s kind of like a second apology/I had fun hope you did too. I realized shortly after the new year I owed it to myself, my creative devices, and the gaming community at large to do something…anything of note, so here I am now trying to make good on my claims. I do also wish to give public thanks to everyone who helped contribute to my gofundme, which was a rousing success. It granted me the fantastic fortune of a brand new Wii U, and even Mario Kart 8 to boot (the latter of which I saved as an X-Mas present to myself). The Wii U was right in time for the release of Smash Bros, which I wrote about a couple time in the days following the games launch. The write ups were maybe…a little more dry than I intended them to be, but were rich in Vitamin E…

The E Standing For Entertainment, Of Course!

The E Standing For Entertainment, Of Course!

Err…at least as far as the pictures were concerned. They had a lot of E in them…

Tons Of Vitamin E

Tons Of Vitamin E

 

Vitamin E For Days...

Vitamin E For Days…

I am truly grateful of everyone who contributed to my gofundme, and though I have already sent each and everyone of you a personal letter of thanks, I wanted to say at least one more time….you really made a difference, and you really made me happy.

So thank you.

Falcon Gratitude 2
When I came back from my extended absence last year, I had a series of articles (which I’m quite fond of upon retrospection) looking at A Link Between Worlds and the Zelda series as a whole…something I’ve analyzed several times over. This year, I don’t have anything quite as long winded planned in my return to written reality, but I’m trying to change it up a little bit…by not talking about the Zelda series for a change! For example, would you believe me if I told you I was about to talk about a non-Zelda game?

Non *Zelda* Game

Non *Zelda* Game

Or that horses aren’t even involved?

Weeeell, technically.

Weeeell, technically.

Cheating a little bit here, but if enjoying Mario Kart is playing dirty, I don’t ever want to be clean again. While I really do want to discuss Mario Kart, in all of it’s ridiculous glory, I do reckon I should first discuss Smash U, as it would be the first time I’ve really talked about the experience on ATE as opposed to just alluding to it, which is odd now that I think about it. Smash is up there as one of my fave games to sit down with, and the new ones are no exception. I’m impressed Nintendo had the development capabilities to make both the 3DS and Wii U versions of Smash a reality in the same year, let alone within two months of each, but I suppose we should in fact thank Sora Ltd and Bandai Namco Games for being able to pull it together at just the right time.

Which Bandai Namco Don't Always Get Right

Which Bandai Namco Don’t Always Get Right

 

Like Sometimes Seriously Doesn't Get Right

Like Sometimes Seriously Doesn’t Get Right

 

Like, What The Hell, Dude? Were They Planning A Spin Off Game With These Two Idiots Called The Adventures Of Derp Face And Captain Horseshit?

Like, What The Hell, Dude? Were They Hoping To Launch A Spin Off Game With These Two Idiots Called The Adventures Of Derp Face And Captain Horseshit?

My initial write ups on Smash weren’t poppy enough, I’d say in review, which is really what Smash is: vivacious and pretty (much like the flower). We will ignore that in reality, poppies are used for the production of morphine and codeine, which ruins my comparison…unless you’re totally into that kind of thing, in which case I have no hesitation to likening Smash Brothers as gaming crack, just all around being a video game equivalent of an addictive narcotic.

An Average Example Of A Smash Player Between Matches

An Average Example Of A Smash Player Between Matches

I do in fact, wish to officially review Smash still, so I’ll keep my thoughts on the game more rapid fire and less explicit. To that point: super glad there’s an intro (3DS version lacked one), very pleased the online is functional and appealing this time around, and the balance struck between both Melee and Brawl feels just right. Even as a die hard Melee fan, I’ve surrendered to the notion that we can’t nor shouldn’t want the exact same thing for the rest of time, and Smash U feels fresh and familiar enough to have me hook line and sinker. The variety of play at hand in the new Smash was always a known known, but perhaps the levels of customization there after were an unknown unknown, with stage creation and new fan ideas for mini games being a delightful surprise.

Smashketball? But Of Course!

Smashketball? And How!

While the new Smash being good isn’t a surprise, per say, I think some of the ways that the new Smash is good, are. A consideration to competitive balancing as opposed to the denouncement of it was definitely one, cross-platform release was way more forethought than I remembered Nintendo being capable of, as well as online play actually mattering to the grand scheme of Smash longevity. And yes, while we can scratch our heads at certain elements of the execution, like no current plans for paid DLC (madness, I know), or an easy way to trade custom stages through the Wii U itself (though talks of an update have been mentioned), I still acknowledge an awareness on Nintendo’s part at paying attention to what matters most: us.

The Fans

The Fan...Err, Not Him.

Err, Not Him.

 

Yeah, Them

Yeah, Them

I say this with a certain sense of positive energy, as Nintendo hasn’t always had a healthy awareness of who really matters, as previously mentioned. Nintendo coming out and saying they want to add online functionality, including an easy way for fans to trade custom levels online means they are listening, and ultimately being more self-aware about what meaningfully relates to their games, which is good. What excites me more is that the positive momentum of Smash doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Smash U’s ambitions are just one example of Nintendo “getting it” a little more recently, another example being Mario Kart 8’s video replay system, in which Nintendo has once again showcased it’s the fans who help make the games worthwhile, and imbues them with the power to make Nintendo games more fun well after the game is released.

The Luigi Deathstare being a prime example of how developer tools (even incredibly simplistic ones) in fan hands, can help celebrate the little things about video games everyone loves so much, which is what matters at the end of the day.

Luigi Deathstare

Don’t Look At Me Like That


Okay, okay! Sorry…your death stare is anything but little, Luigi…

Just for clarity here, using Mario Kart as my current example, mindful systems with the intent of fan inclusion, is an acknowledgement on Nintendo’s part (by action at least), the company realizes one positive but big change they can make in moving forward. The Luigi Death Stare, which spawned from the replay system and through “fan creation” unintentionally helped to promote Mario Kart 8. This meme that was spawned from a 10 second clip ended up going viral and peaked so much interest about the game, it was a better advertisement for MK8 than Nintendo could have ever thought up of without the fans.

With Mario Kart 8 still in mind, you can even upload the clips to Youtube (even just aside from the mode “Mario Kart TV” in game to see what’s going on globally), which is a step forward in Nintendo using more topical technologies to acknowledge fans, and with it, a willingness to give us more control in helping to contribute to the games they make. Mario Maker is yet another example of Nintendo understanding just how important fan support, community and creation are in helping grow a healthy product, as the entire premise of Mario Maker is to make new content using an established Nintendo formula for your fellow gamers. Fan creation (and modding) have been key elements of contribution in modern day game design, a concept very successful companies in the field of video gaming adopted a long time ago.

*Cough* To Name Just One Slightly Relevant Example

*Cough* To Name Just One Slightly Relevant Example

I’m aware Nintendo has dun f***** up a lot…with the Wii U specifically, and in ways involving their own products and the community that are hard to accept as reality. In this moment, I must acknowledge that Nintendo has been imperfect in many regards, and is behind the times both technologically and conceptually in a variety of ways. However, it’s times like these I notice a willingness and effort to change, which is an excellent first step to self improvement. When I start to notice these little changes forming a bigger picture, a far more engaging bigger picture, I’m reminded while you can’t always “count” on Nintendo, they will always surprise you. This is exciting in this case, as the winds of change seem to be in Nintendo’s favor.

Let’s just hope that breeze turns into a gust and ends up being a wind storm.

Sounds Fun In Theory, Anyway

Sounds Fun In Theory, Anyway

In closing, while I’m always rowdy and raucous while playing Smash, Smash U is a part of a stable of games that represents a healthiness with it’s ambitions in relation to Nintendo’s future. A relief comes in analyzing Smash, Mario Kart etc, in that while Nintendo has shown time and time ago they know they have a community, these recent instances may be a sign they want it to be a real part of how they develop moving forward. Nintendo has shown they know how to have fun behind the wheel, but they may finally be understanding that they don’t always have to be driving for us to get somewhere good together.

Who knows? Perhaps now, like so many other developers, they realize we (the fans) know how to burn rubber too, and sometimes, having fun means throwing us the keys and saying “Let’s Go”.

Allons-Y

Clara See
11th Annoyed

~Pashford

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With A Little Help From My Friends…

Hey Gamers,

As some of you may recall, my last couple of posts detailed my excitement for Super Smash Brothers on the 3DS, for a number of exciting reasons.

Like venting long time frustrations, as many have done before me.

THERE HE IS! GET HIM!

THERE HE IS! GET HIM!

Uh Huh….that’s right….who’s laughing now!?

WHO’S LAUGHING NOW?!

Wait, who said that?

OH SHI-

OH SHI-

I know in my heart of hearts, Ash will never join the roster of Super Smash Brothers, but never say never on dreams coming true, which is what I’m sure Nintendo has been thinking with the Wii U’s recent raise in popularity. This turn of events is indeed due to a better line up of games this year, but can most definitely be attributed to hype behind the soon to be released Smash Bros. I’ve observed expectations and excitement levels from even non Wii U owners as exceedingly high.

Seen Here: A Very Excited Room Full Of Smash Players Not Pictured: 3 Million Other Screaming Fans

Seen Here: A Very Excited Room Full Of Smash Players
Not Pictured: 8 Million Other Screaming Fans

I know some of you may be ready to point out that there aren’t 8 million people who own Wii U’s, but I have no doubt that Smash Brothers as a singular entity will help boost the consoles sales numbers immediately and consistently for years to come. Even beyond Smash Bros finally putting the Wii U on peoples radars, the games paired functionality with the Amiibo add-on Nintendo will release along side it is sure to be met with fanfare. Considering how insanely popular similar ideas have been that have come before it, I have little doubt that “The Pokémon Company” will have any trouble selling their brand like freshly baked crack cakes.

You Heard Me, Tyrone.

You Heard Me

I’m glad to see Nintendo finally turning their fortunes around this gen, and am even more excited that a new Smash Bros is so immediate in our futures. My time with Smash at E3 this year did not lead me astray, as the 3DS version has already done it’s job of wowing me. With the Wii U version having way more content, and even support for Gamecube controllers, I couldn’t be more excited for the Wii U version to finally drop…cause when it does, I’m going to channel my inner Toon Link and go Wind Waker on everyone involved…

And It's Gonna Get Real

And It’s Gonna Get Real

At least, that’s what I wish I could do, what I really want to do. See, I was really stoked I was able to pick up Smash 3DS when it first launched, and anyone who’s followed me for a longer time knows why. I had the misfortune of having my 3DS stolen on my birthday, which was considerably crappy. That would have been more than enough personal loss for one day to be bummed about, but my Vita was in the same bag my 3DS was in when it was nabbed by the slippery handed bastard who claimed it.

While I was rather immediately screwed and without my portable devices, I eventually scrounged up the resource to get a replacement 3DS, which was all well and good for awhile. My initial plan was to replace my 3DS first, as Smash Bros was a far more exciting prospect than anything the Vita had to offer at the end of this year. When Smash finally launched, I was pouring hours into the title, unlike any other game I had touched this year.

Sadly, and as is my luck, my replacement 3DS suffered water damage a mere 6 days after Smash launched, leaving me high and dry. To add insult to injury, my old laptop finally died the very same day my 3DS did, even leaving me without a convenient way to communicate my recent woes.

But Wait! There's More!

But Wait! There’s More!

Yeah, if that wasn’t enough, this consistent stream of lost technology started about a year ago, even before my birthday related bullshit, when I had lost my apartment in a flood (I live in the Boulder, Colorado area and it was a miserable place to be last September). I was forced to couch surf after I had lost my apartment, which I was thankful for as others weren’t quite as lucky.

During the time period I was staying at my friends place until I got back on my feet, a friend I had entrusted to temporarily store my 20 year game collection completely failed me, and ended up throwing it all away at a moments notice and without mention. Shortly after this awful moment in time when it seemed it couldn’t possibly get any worse, all three of my next gen consoles were stolen, a subject I had alluded to before on ATE but didn’t have the mood or energy to discuss, as it all represented a very dark time in my life.

I Know Those Feels My Twilight Sister

I Know Those Feels My Twilight Sister

So yeah, not a very cheery post, and one of the only ones I’ve written where I talk more about myself than video games, but that’s the truth of the matter. While Active Time Event will always stay non-profit, and I’ve never asked for any kind of help before, I recently started a gofundme at the urging of some of my friends who felt sympathy for my situation. While I know I can’t replace all of what I lost, as some of it was one of a kind and irreplaceable, I can at least reclaim my next gen systems, and enjoy what I have left.

I might be down, but I’m not out.

Gotta Keep On Fighting!

Gotta Keep On Fighting!

With a little help from my friends and some generous strangers, I’ve already raised a healthy portion of my $500 goal. While that money in it’s entirety isn’t enough to replace all of my next gen consoles that were stolen, I’m hoping I can use the sum to repair my 3DS, and more immediately reacquire my Wii U before November 21st, so I can play the game I’ve been looking forward to the most this year.

If you feel like helping, either as someone who’s been reading for awhile or someone who just wants to help out a fellow nerd in need, you can contribute to my gofundme page found below http://www.gofundme.com/gujc38. Any amount will help, and with enough luck and generosity from the gaming community, I’ll be able to regain my Wii U and Smash to my hearts content once more.

And to anyone who shares my story or contributes to my fund, you have my thanks.

My…

Falcon Thanks

~Pashford

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Do You Like Super Smash Brothers?

Hey Gamers,

Some of you may be wondering what the hell I’ve been doing all month. Not only have some big games launched recently, but arguably the game, or at least my game launched earlier this month on the 3DS.

Duck Dynasty 2

Err…No

But it did involve Duck Hunting!

True Story

True Story

In case you missed it, the new Super Smash Bros did indeed launch ont the 3DS on October 3rd, and the response has been rather positive. From the strong sales to the evidently warm reception from both casual and competitive players, the new Smash Bros seemed a clear winner from day one. The series itself stands out as one my favs, and I’ve discussed it on a couple of occasions in the past, on top of being completely in love with the game when I was at E3 earlier this year.

Some of you might be asking the obvious question: how in the world have we not seen an update every single day from you if you’re so excited for such a big game?

This is how.

This is how

I’m only being slightly farcical with the usage of the previous image. While it was not in fact a David Cage game that has ruined my day, it was quite literally heavy rain that has prevented me from talking about Smash at great lengths. See, I had my 3DS inside a new backpack that I was extremely unaware was not remotely water resistant, and rode home from work in a downpour. The results were a waterlogged 3DS, and the inability to play Smash Brothers along with it.

Oh yes, my laptop also shit the bed that day, too.

Attention: game cancelled due to rain

Attention: game cancelled due to rain

Yeah, it was pretty much the worse gaming related tragedy in the past 4 months, which in and of itself is a terrible reminder of tech disasters, as the last worst day involving video games actually involves how I lost my previous 3DS.

Laugh It Up, Chuckles.

Laugh It Up, Chuckles.

Obviously, I’ve regained regular computer access, but I did not have the means to just up and replace te aforementioned soggy 3DS…a special edition Zelda 3DS mind you, and the same one I bought with the intention of having on hand for when Smash finally launched. The very same 3DS that didn’t even last a full week before the unpredicted water damage destroyed the bastard, and the one that is el finito, preventing any further Smash playing. I’m hoping you get the picture here, as I can’t emphasize enough just how frustrating this has made the past couple of weeks.

I Hate That Dog!

I Hate That Dog!

So, believe me readers, when I say that I’m sure you may be bummed you don’t get to laugh and revel in my Smashing antics, but any pain you feel is removed by a factor of ten in relation to how bummed I feel in regards to a game I was set to review, obsess over, and completely lose myself in, but sadly can not.

Duck Hunt Dog 2

*Laughing*

 

YOU'RE GONNA DIE, CLOWN!!!

YOU’RE GONNA DIE, CLOWN!!!

*Clears throat*

ANYWAYS, massive disappointment, I know, from both a work and recreational perspective. I’d be lying if I said I was going to be able to replace my 3DS anytime soon, so my one hope now is finance focused else where. I speak of being able to afford a Wii U (which I know will cost a similar amount, but bare with me) so I can pick up the new new version of Smash Brothers (see?) when it launches on Nintendo’s home console on the 21st. That won’t fix my current situation with the 3DS of course, but it will give me the topical review I so desired with Smash 3DS, but did not get the chance to make happen.

For now, I say a somber farewell to my 3DS (again…sigh). While the remnants of that rich kingdom were washed away before their own time, I feel rest assured that like other tales that have come before it…

Water Will Not Deter Heroes

Water Will Not Deter Heroes

It Can However, Greatly Piss Them Off

It Can However, Greatly Piss Them Off

While I’m aware my following thoughts act merely as a consolation prize, I will impart some impressions on Smash Bros, just to say I tried at least. The lack of intro movie was a complete shock, as the Smash Bros intro cinematic is often the cream of the crop in hypetastic efforts by any gaming standard. I guess I’m more shocked I thought they would be able to include it, given Sakurai commenting several times on how limiting the 3DS version was during development, but my hopes remained high.  Can you blame me? I *live* to hear that announcer say Super Smash Bros.

I need it.

I NEED IT

I NEED IT

The limitations of the 3DS card iare very apparent from this first moment, and every moment there after. The game’s a blast, rest assured, striking that sweet balance between Melee’s speed and Brawl’s floatiness, but what it has on offer is a small smattering compared to the content behemoth that was Brawl. Hell, Melee looks chock full of content compare to this sucker, and Melee came out 13 years ago. This sounds a little more damning then I mean it to be, but the obvious remains so: Nintendo knew they were forcing Sakurai to make a lot of sacrifices to make this sucker multi-platform.

Which You Know, Is Really Okay With Nintendo

Which You Know, Is Really Okay With Nintendo

I mean, Smash is the kind of game that not only excites gamers, but synergizes and ignites Nintendo’s entire platform. A surge in 3DS sales (to the point of being sold out in Japan even), but a huge shot in the arm to the Wii U’s relevant value, as Smash will continue to get great reviews right up until it launches on Nintendo’s home platform, once and for all cementing the consoles value to even the most dubious of gamers. On top of everything mentioned, Smash is the first game to use Nintendo’s new Amiibo add ons, which is going to be a crazy cash cow for the Pokemon company that could, if they convince consumers these cute little figurines are worth the price of admission.

Mission Accomplished

Mission Accomplished

So yeah, Smash is a blast, but we kinda knew that was gonna happen anyways. What we didn’t expect is that Nintendo, without announcement, was basically restructuring and strengthening their entire gaming empire with a release of a single game, solely through the use of our excessive love of Smash Brothers. A game with enough quality and popularity, Nintendo slyly created a mini-platform based on the predicted games success, to completelyreverse their continually dire fortunes this entire generation in a single months time. For once this gen, Nintendo, I must say…well done.

Nintendo fans had no idea what was coming, because while we thought we were getting asked a simple question…

Smash Bros Bateman

Nintendo Was Just Getting Ready To Completely Overpower Us

Anyways, those are some thoughts. Take em, share em, save em for a rainy day (ugh), do whatever the hell you like with em, because they’re yours now. I did have far more interconnected and intimate thoughts relevant to the content of the game rather than the concepts behind it (character analysis, Smash Run thoughts, Zelda related sexiness), but I’m pretty satisfied ending here. Even if I don’t go on more about the 3DS version of Smash (which is still possible), the game will be relevantly entertaining and likely topical for years to come once launched on the Wii U.

So stay tuned.

~Pashford

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Seriously Not About Horses

Hey Gamers,

I’ve been away from ATE for awhile, but it’s time for my self enforced mandatory monthly pop-in to let you know I am indeed, still gaming. Some of you may remember I was going on at some lengths about horses throughout August, and by the end of it all, I was seriously fucking done with horses. So, after weeks to myself and a hiatus from ATE and the horse shit that followed, what do I have at the ready to eagerly talk about?

Horses.

Seriously

Seriously

It’s actually the same god damn one, too, and I am so not horsing around about this. I am kind of joking about this being the topic of debate today, as there really isn’t much to discuss in terms of why this matters….because I’ve already done that. Though, as a point of observation, this is indeed “The Epona”, as she is included as “a weapon” in the Master Quest DLC pack for Hyrule Warriors, which is a nice little bookend to my extensive espousing of her as such a staple to the series in my previous series of posts. The only detail worthy of mention here is that some gamers were disappointed to find out using Epona as a weapon includes riding her into battle as opposed to physically arming Link with her to attack hordes of enemies with.

Like So

Like So

I apologize for the level of funny in regards to that picture (kinda sorts), as I feel there were a lot more ways the visual gag would have worked better, but probably would have taken three times longer to make then this entire post will, so that’s kind of a tough shit scenario.

Insert Obligatory Phantom Hourglass Mockery Joke Here

Insert Obligatory Phantom Hourglass Mockery Joke Here

I was not seriously going to go on about horses again, especially after everything we went through already, I just felt obligated to bring up the Hyrule Warriors DLC, as it was just so incredibly absurd not to mention. I would have already been playing it, but the reasons for why such events have not yet occurred hearken back to the dark times, in the long long ago. I mean…if I really tried, I may be able to summon the words to tell the story. Let me see…

Thousands of minutes ago...

Thousands of minutes ago…

Nah, that’s going to take too long. Anyways, I had planned on talking about other nonsense, but realized at the last second the new Smash Brother is right around the corner. The game’s release didn’t really sneak up on me, mind you, I am just normally distracted by so many games at any given moment, even the ones I’m really excited for slip under the radar…for a time. This game being Smash Brothers, however, means the game can’t possible stay out of my focus for long, for a number of reasons. One of which involves that the game can’t actually slip “under my radar”, as I’ve had the radar surgically implanted into the inside of my eyelids, in order to prioritize the games release.

Though, in the past couple of weeks, in order to be productive, I’ve had to try and take some some extreme measures to adapt to this new reality.

DON'T PANIC BLINK

DON’T PANIC BLINK

Though it does the trick, let me tell you. I know this all sounds rather crazy, but it should, because a new Smash Bros is a crazy big deal. At least in my circles, it’s really one of the only games I’ve played more than a decade ago that my friends today are still severely excited about, and for good reason. Between the multi-platform approach, to the on the go capabilities of the 3DS, and taking into consideration the direction Sakurai has taken with the newest iteration (somewhere between Melee and Brawl)..there’s reason to be excited.

Like, This Excited

Like, This Excited.

Rest assured, I’ll be running around like a cucco with it’s head cut off on the 3rd, trying to play, think and write about this sucker as hard as I fucking can. I know I recently said I would really stop talking about Zelda for awhile, but that universe is one of many focal components of this exciting new experience…and I mean, come on.

It’s Smash Brothers.

~Pashford

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Serious About Horses

Hey Gamers,

I think, no matter what, I’m done talking about Zelda and horses for awhile after this post. While I’ve had a lot of fun discussing both(?), I desperately need a break from both Hyrule and equines in a serious way.

How serious of a way you may ask?

This Serious.

This Serious

And before I move on, I know what you’re thinking: “Pashford, how could you!? Using the memories of Artax casually again to play with my emotions just for a cheap laugh? How could you!” I understand where you’re coming from dear readers, but it’s hard to convey how serious about horses I’ve been, and that picture sums up horses in a serious way. I mean, I tried to go a different route, and include a picture of Elton John on a horse for the joke to work, but a Google search provided me with only this picture involving Elton John and horses:

Elton John Horses

And I’m way more serious about horses than what’s shown in that picture. Though, considering that picture says “Live Like Horses”, I would suggest if you were a horse (of course), not to live in the Swamp of Sadness. You know…for obvious reasons.

You Know, For Obvious Reasons

Because You Can’t

To the denizens of Fantasia: to avoid further depression involving dead animals we love, let’s just assume horses can’t go into the Swamps of Sadness, just to be safe. I mean, we can experiment all day with this shit, but if all we get is a couple hundred dead horses and therapy sessions for the rest of our lives, I’d say let’s just agree upon the “Horses Don’t Do Swamps” theory and be done with it. That sounded like a Goosebumps book waiting to happen. Also, did they explain how Atreyu didn’t just submerge entirely after losing his best friend? I mean, you sink into the swamp if you’re sad, right? What, was Atreyu popping Prozac’s like they were skittles or something?

Thinking About It, Yeah He Probably Was

Thinking About It, Yeah He Probably Was

Eh, whatever helps get you through the day…err swamp I suppose.

Weeeeeell, It's Mostly An Accurate Sentiment.

Weeeeeell, It’s Mostly Accurate

I mean seriously, what kind of person goes around committing genocide as a life choice? Honestly, don’t be going around hurting people for fun! While I’m at it…

And Don't Be Going Around Breaking Things, Yah Tit.

Don’t Be Smashing Stuff That Doesn’t Belong To You, Yah Tit.

I mean thinking about it (not to derail or anything here, Zelda), if we really take a look at the social and moral implications of the Triforce and the philosophy behind the series as a whole, I believe you’ll find…

Zelda Not Amused
Okay, okay! I’m sorry! I’ll rein in my thoughts about horses and continue on.

*Ahem*

I refocus my attempts at wrapping up my thoughts involving Ocarina of Time, Epona, and everything that has followed suit. I really didn’t mean to go on for so long about the event, looking back now realizing Back in the Saddle was a fine enough stand alone piece as it was. Not to say the rest has been bad, but there are just so many other great games and awesome sites I need to tend to at this very moment. This exercise in examining the merits of replaying Master Quest was suppose to be a quick effort, not a multi-part series over a period of a month. No matter what happens by the end of this post, I will take my leave of both Hyrule and horses for a time, as two things have happened since I’ve begun my extensive conversation about both:

1. I don’t stop hearing fairies I can’t see
2. I can’t stop seeing horses that don’t exist

As you can imagine, I’m deeply concerned for my own sanity, and must make way to more reasonable pastures post haste. BUT, not before bringing to light a few thoughts I hadn’t properly molded into a write up while I was explaining why Epona in Ocarina of Time represents some of the best horse action in gaming, and everything that entails.

Two posts ago, I was a little enamored by the idea of Epona’s nostalgic value, in relation to the gaming populace as a whole. I cited the regular difficulty gamers had in completing their games, even observing statistics that 90% of players couldn’t even beat the first level of Super Mario Bros. This relates to getting Epona (as I had mentioned), due in part to her not only being much later into the game, but rather difficult to eventually obtain. This speaks to the levels of dedication Ocaina instilled in it’s user base, and holds value in realizing people loved them some Zelda on the 64. The number of times I’ve personally talked to gamers about their fondest memories of Ocarina, involving riding around Hyrule Field on Epona mind you as an extremely high number, which shows you she may very well have been many gamers first horse.

Well, Let's Not Get Filthy About Zelda...

Well, Let’s Not Get Filthy About This…

 

Err...Again Anyways...

Err…Again Anyways…

 

Okay, That's Enough Of That

Okay, That’s Enough Of That!

Epona being many gamers first horse is fitting, as at this point I think Ocarina may have been many people’s first Zelda, so they are just impossibly interconnected for all of time in many gaming minds, resulting in kind of an “ideal experience”.

The potent value of nostalgia often lends itself to strengthening not only the quality of the experience, but the quality of person, too. I’m sure that’s why it will be a long while before a game comes along to top the perceived value of Ocarina of Time, and the horse it rode in on. I’d like to take this moment to contextualize “Best Horse Action”, as I know riding on Epona (at this point in time anyways) is limited in many ways, and that there are plenty of other games I’ve played and many more that other gamers have enjoyed with arguably better horse action:

Just

Just

 

To

To

 

Mention

Mention

 

A

A

 

Few

Few

 

Examples

Examples

Those aren’t all of them, of course, but some of the first that popped into my mind. I had a handful of other ones I didn’t even mention I thought of almost as immediately (Assassins Creed, Darksiders, Minecraft, about a billion MMO mount experiences), but thought my point was justifiably reinforced. The point I was making was in comprehension, in having a mutual understanding that while there may be great horse action out there, even mechanics that help to make or define the game entirely, Epona may yet stand as the most pivotal or valued equine when looking back on our glorious gaming history. Not just any Epona either, Ocarina’s Epona. Much like I interjected the idea of other games being able to claim “better horse action” in general that is more intertwined with the quality of the game, I take one more moment to remind everyone that another Zelda game (Twilight Princess) even had better horse mechanics (with Epona no less), that helped to differentiate and heighten Twilight Princess, by taking a page out of Ocarina’s book.

Or As Many Would Admit, Merely Took All The Pages From Ocarina's Book And Simply Revised Them

Or As Many Would Acknowledge, Taking All The Pages Out Of Ocarina’s Book And Simply Revising Them

But that’s the point here, and one that shouldn’t be mistaken as contradiction or flip-flopping. My current point is not one of derailment (there’s been plenty of that going on already), I am trying to stay on point by observing….

AW, COME ON BATMAN! BAT BOMBED AGAIN!

AW, COME ON BATMAN! BAT BOMBED AGAIN!

Man, I hate when you do that, Bruce! You just Bat Bomb me when I’m in the middle of a good point! Now what am I going to do?

Hey, Look! It's Another One Of My Running Jokes! Sonic Must Be Here To Save Me From Being Bat Bombed!

Hey, Look! It’s Another One Of My Running Jokes! Sonic Must Be Here To Save Me From Being Bat Bombed!

Yeah, go Sonic! Help me get back on point! Uh oh, looks like The Batman is activating something in response to Sonic’s attempted Anti-Bat Bombing Plan!

Oh No! The Batman Is Using His Gadget To Initiate The "Cucu for Cuccos" Stategy!

Oh No! The Batman Is Using His Patented Cucco Transponder Device!

What kind of gloom and doom could this spell for Sonic, I wonder?

That's A Shame

That’s A Shame

Well, things don’t look very good for our little blue running joke here, however fast he may be.

While those two are distracted fighting, I’ll take this moment to sneak away and finish up my point involving best horse action. Even with all of the given standards of games using horses (and when Ocarina launched, there really weren’t many at all), and even within the Zelda universe having another game with an arguably better experience involving a horse, the power of nostalgia transcends perhaps even higher quality, which in turn makes the memory of Epona almost impossible good. Obviously, the memories of the quality involved are genuine, and do come from a place of excellence Ocarina can indeed brag about, but it’s this sense of personal indomitable truth from our past that makes so many look back on Epona so fondly.

Putting aside the legacy of influence Epona has had, like making mounts absolute staples in the Zelda series or the impact she has on other developers who have tried to match and or beat her inclusion in Ocarina of Time, the standards for which many games are judged by gamers, is in turn from how much people enjoyed this game, Epona included, and the fun they had as a result.

Much like, say for example, Final Fantasy 7’s effects on gaming history having more to do with time and place then it’s observable quality.

Speaking Of Another Memorable Mount

Speaking Of Another Memorable Mount

While the hype for FF7 comes from a real place of quality, the game’s ultimate relevancy stems from when it came out and what it did at that time, thusly reaching a huge audience and influencing those who were not previously influenced by RPG’s in general. While the debate is seriously subjective, myself and many others could argue better RPG experiences before and after FF7 that “did it better” so to speak, even looking at games within the pedigree (like FF6 and FF9) as example. All of these games, however, did not come out when FF7 did, and in turn did not effect, influence and set the standard for new comers to the RPG scene like FF7 did, effectively memory locking the game as the “ideal experience” for millions.

I know the mention of FF7 may seem like a random aside, but I believe the related thought ties in nicely with Epona, as I could have easily replaced just about every noun in my description of FF7 with OoT, which relates to the best horse action I’ve been going on about all this time. It’s not as if Ocarina really is the end all be all Zelda or the absolute best of it’s kind in terms of video games, but it did greet gaming audiences at a certain time and place in a major way, which is something no other Zelda experience can ever completely duplicate. One of the big reasons the game is remembered, is for it’s refinement in regards to both fun and solutions, Epona a prime example of both. Everything about Ocarina came out when it did, at that specific time and place that it did, and as a result, cemented the experience in a lot of minds as “the ideal experience”.

An ideal experience exists somewhere between fantasy and reality, and one that can’t be quantified or measured, only marveled at and discussed. A preference spawned from our best or earliest moments, and one that will live on invincibly, shared between minds and preserved in culture for generations to come. This is what Epona represents, I believe, the “ideal experience”, and is the reason why I’ve been so serious about horses these past few weeks.

How serious you may ask?

This Serious

This Serious

~Pashford

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