The Everlasting Impact of Hayao Miyazaki

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In the summer between 8th grade and 9th — which for me was in 2002 — I saw my first Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli movie. I rented it from a local video store, which is unfortunately no longer in business. It changed names at least once in my lifetime, but its original name was Video Stop.

It was a neighborhood institution, frequented by everyone in the community. It wasn’t like Blockbuster, where they’d charge you a small fortune for your rental and force you to keep it for almost a whole week, even though you’d be finished with it that night. No, Video Stop was a local mom-n-pop place, where each rental, movie or game, was only a dollar a day. Continue reading

“It’s maybe str…

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“It’s maybe strange to say [this], but I miss the limitations of making games in those days,” Kitase acknowledges. “The cartridge capacity was so much smaller, of course, and therefore the challenges were that much greater. But nowadays you can do almost anything in a game. It’s a paradox, but this can be more creatively limiting than having hard technical limitations to work within. There is a certain freedom to be found in working within strict boundaries, one clearly evident in Final Fantasy VI.”

-Yoshinori Kitase, Director of Final Fantasy VI

Not to toot my own horn, but this is exactly what I postulated in my very first blog post.

Here’s what I said:

“I don’t like to speak in absolutes, but I almost get the impression that the best games are often made when developers are faced with reasonable limitations.”

It’s encouraging to hear my thoughts echoed by an industry veteran. Huzzah!

Here’s the article on the Edge website.

Third Time’s a Charm – A Review of Pikmin 3

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Getting Up to Speed

It’s been nine years since our last voyage to PNF-404, and nearly 12 since our inaugural visit.

To put that in perspective, I am now 25 years old. I graduated from college two-and-a-half years ago. When the first Pikmin game came out, I was 13 years old and in the eighth grade. Pikmin 2 was released in 2004, just as I was beginning my junior year of high school.

In the time since, nearly a whole console generation has come and gone. The Nintendo Wii, a platform centered around the use of a precision-based controller, and perfectly suited for a series like Pikmin, never saw an original title in the series. Continue reading

Why We Game

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From an early age, most of us are drawn to video games, almost inherently. Whether it’s because of the smorgasbord of colors, the cacophony of music and sounds, or purely the interactive nature of the medium, the fact remains; we love to game. And chances are, if you’re reading this, video games are more than just a passing interest for you.

So let’s dig a little deeper. Apart from the more obvious reasons, such as enjoyment and escapism, what are the distinct, individual reasons we choose to play video games? And what keeps us coming back? Everyone has their own ideas and explanations, but it’s likely we share similar conclusions. Continue reading

A Love Letter to Nintendo

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The most fundamental reason we play video games is because they bring us enjoyment. And no one knows pure joy like children. I believe that kids are likely some of the happiest people on Earth, partly because they’re not hung up on how they’re perceived by others. They’re able to wholly appreciate and revel in the things that bring them joy without fear of being judged. To a certain extent, kids aren’t worried about their self-image, and I think we’d be smart to take note. Continue reading

Turtles Back in Time

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I don’t recall my first experience playing video games, but I do remember a mixed bag of encounters with games from at least the age of three. As an ’80s baby, I didn’t get to spend a lot of time in video arcades. By the time I was old enough to really, cognitively play a video game, arcades were dying, although you could find the occasional arcade cabinet in the movie theater or other random places.

One of those random places was a local Mexican restaurant near my house, called Tijuana Junction. As a three-to-four-year-old kid, I had some difficulty pronouncing that, so I just called it “The Train,” because of the toy train that would go around the restaurant on the tracks that were in place near the ceiling. My parents also took to calling it that because of me. The Train is no longer in existence, unfortunately. And while I fondly remember eating their yummy burritos as a child, what I miss most is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade cabinet. Continue reading

Walking with the Dead

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You think you’re a good person. You think you know yourself — until you’re confronted with self-preservation and having to make decisions whose outcomes mean life or death for someone else.

It’s in these moments you realize you aren’t afforded the luxury of principles and that your philosophical ideals mean nothing. And once you’ve made a decision, your conscience interrogates your heart and mind, questioning whether or not it was the right one. You have to do what takes to live, but can you live with what it takes to survive? You don’t always have time to weigh the pros and cons, and you just have to react. And when someone suffers because of the decision you were forced to make, some will hold it against you, even knowing they’d have done the same thing. Continue reading

Welcome to Backtracking

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Before actually producing content for this brand-new blog of mine, I figured I’d preface everything with a bit of a mission statement — explain why I created it. My intent is to explore and rediscover the best video games of the past — to boldly go where many gamers have gone before! To elaborate, allow me to go back in time (we’ll be doing a lot of that here).

One of my earliest memories of gaming comes from when I was about five years old. My older brother, fresh out of the Army, had given me his Nintendo Entertainment System, as he’d moved on to the flashy new Super NES. The first game I remember playing was Super Mario Bros. And I played it relentlessly — to the point I actually got blisters on my thumbs. At first, I wasn’t very good, but I really didn’t care. I was having a blast, regardless of my lack of skill. Continue reading