Lone 'Coon Productions

Independant Creativity - the Best Kind

Majesty's Musings

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Author-Character Relationships (written 10-27-2008)

Posted by supercomputer276 on December 4, 2008 at 1:38 AM Comments comments (0)

Some time ago, during an MSN convo between myself, Niv (Shard), and Lonely Yoshi, we had an argument over how realistic it was for Lonely's author character to be able to change anything about his home dimension... while at the same time changing the timeline of that dimension so that the change was always there (trying to trump Niv's characters weaves very tangled webs). To the best of my recollection, his argument was that his character has author powers to change anything about the dimension because it was the author character.

 

The next fifteen minutes or so had Niv and I arguing the following point against him: while Lonely Yoshi the character is indeed the respresentation of the author Lonely Yoshi in his world, by all accounts, the author character is NOT the author. The humans that make the worlds are the authors. We set everything up, characters and plot, and let it all play out; we do not directly interact with the characters ourselves (that is, we do not say "hello" to our characters on our computer screens and they immediately reply "hello" back). Niv's author character Niv is not Niv the author but Niv the character. It is the closest Niv the author can get to being in her own world, but but it is still not her; she can never completely interact with her own world (unless some freak of nature occured that warped her there, but hey, this is reality).

 

For those that have a hard time getting the point, here's a more easily understood example (which, almost sadly, I just thought up). Suppose you are playing a Mario video game (for the sake of argument, let's say Super Mario Bros., although it doesn't matter). Are you Mario? No. You are you, and Mario is Mario. You may control Mario's actions; you can make him jump, grab coins, stomp enemies, save the day, or run him off a cliff. You may determine through Mario the fate of the Mushroom Kingdom. But you are not Mario. You are you, and no video game can change that.

 

Another similar example: in Mario Party 7 and 8, I like to play as Birdo. I determine her (this isn't a gender debate here) actions in the board games, the mini-games, all the contests. But I am not Birdo. I am me. When I accidently run into a spiny shell in Fun Run, it is not me running into the shell; it is Birdo (which is good; that looks like it hurts). Whenever I play any video game, I tempoararily assume the role of someone else, but before and after the game is over, I'm still me.

 

My point? Don't godmod; eventually you'll godmod yourself into a corner and won't be able to godmod out of it. Trust me on this, it doesn't help.

 

...boy, this is like the closest I've ever gotten to applied philosophy.

Review: McDonald's Treasureland Adventure (Genesis)

Posted by supercomputer276 on October 24, 2008 at 3:42 PM Comments comments (0)

Short, sweet, and still good for a run. And yes, this is an actual game.

 

Category: 1 Player Platform
Developer: Treasure
Publisher: SEGA
Release: 1993

 

Back when my brother and I were little kids and the Sega Genesis was the only console in the house that worked, we sometimes rented games from the local Albertsons when our collection didn't satisfy enough (which was fairly rare given the assortment). One that we kept renting over and over was this obscure little title, McDonald's Treasureland Adventure. Only a few days ago did I get my hands on the ROM to take a trip down memory lane.

 

In this game, you guide Ronald on a treasure hunt, gaining pieces of the map from the bosses you defeat along the way. The game is a fairly standard platformer. You use the Direction Pad to move Ronald left and right as well as to duck down. All three of the action buttons make Ronald perform different actions: C has him jump (he isn't an exceptional jumper, but he's not horrible), B has him throw a wave of magic (this serves as his primary and, far as I know, only means of offense or defense), and A has him shoot up a small scarf chain that allows him to hold onto hook loops scattered all over the levels and pull himself up them to reach higher areas. Ronald can open fire when jumping, ducking, or hanging from a hook. Ronald's health bar consists of Magic Jewels which he can collect and are vital to defeating the bosses, as they must eat the Jewels before Ronald's magic can damage them. Ronald can also collect other power-ups such as Balloons, which can save him from bottomless pits. During his adventure, Ronald encounters a huge variety of enemies that are often level or even screen specific, as well as an equally large variety of environmental objects to assist him in his treasure hunt. There is also a password feature that allows you to return to play at any of the major checkpoints.

 

It's easy to tell the game is made for younger players, given the theme, plot, characters, and relative ease of play. The game is also short, consisting of a mere four levels each of which can be split into two sublevels, and easy, although there are some difficult parts. When I was younger, I found the game to be pretty tough; I couldn't understand why jumping on the enemies didn't kill them, and some of the bottomless segments with auto scrolling were killers. Now that I'm older and a much better gamer (compared to back when I first played this game), I cleared the entire thing through in a few hours without a single game over, only suffering multiple deaths on the fourth from last screen in the entire game, and most of the parts I thought were very difficult were really very easy. Playing through again, I found a few details I had completely missed when I was a kid, incluing the fact that the pirate boss's head was a giant toothy grin (I thought he just had a very big mouth prior to the playthrough). Nevertheless, I wasn't all that bored at any time during the playthrough, even though most of my memory of the game guided me through. Many of the enemies are pretty cute, and the game looks good and plays well.

 

Overall, I thought this trip down memory lane was worth taking. For those that have the game and need a break from your hardcore games, Ronald McDonald and his friends are always there to welcome you.

 

Concept: 7 / 10
The overall concept of a treasure hunt is fairly common, but I think it is implemented well. Also, I have no clue what some of the items, like the flowers, do.

Graphics: 8 / 10
The graphics aren't the best (Ronald is asymmetrical, after all), but they're not bad.

Sound: 9 / 10
I say it's a shame that some of these pretty catchy tunes aren't on MIDI. None of the music or sounds I found to be bad.

Playability: 7 / 10
I had to dock points here because the control scheme can get confusing, especially if you're just starting. More than once I've thrown a scarf instead of magic by accident. But once you get the hang of it, you can pull things off smoothly.

Entertainment: 8 / 10
Although slightly bland with some pretty tough points, this game is still pretty fun to play though at least once.

Replay Value: Medium low
Although I do enjoy playing through this more than once trying to get everything, I don't like playing it over and over in a short amount of time. Bound to get old after a few years.


Overall Rating: 78%

The Purpose of Being Elizabeth

Posted by supercomputer276 on October 6, 2008 at 9:18 PM Comments comments (0)

For those that follow my visual media (Smack Jeeves webcomics and DeviantART gallery), you might be familiar with Elizabeth. Elizabeth Frankenstein Rabbit was a character I created for SC's story; if you want more details on her, check the Game Over Central Ops for her profile.

 

I am faced with the concern of finding out what to actually do with her.

 

Elizabeth was created when I was seventeen (I know that because I read the book her name comes from when in 12th grade) to act as a love interest for SC. She was designed to incorperate a few of my ideas of what makes a girl attractive, including being a few years younger than me. This was during the time when I had left Authortastic due to being frustrated at not having a sufficient degree of control and started the Trailer Park of Authors. I wanted SC to grow a little and give him someone to talk to for the early comics before the others arrived, so I created Elizabeth. My original idea was for SC and Elizabeth to eventally fall in love, possibly get married, and some of the storyline would come from Elizabeth accepting SC as the leader of the Game Over.

 

Then I rejoined Authortastic and Shard kissed SC one April Fools Day. That's when I decided to go for a relationship between SC and Shard. So much for Elizabeth's original purpose.

 

As far as media made by me, Elizabeth has pretty much become nothing more than either a straight girl for SC and his associates in the SCemails or a pretty face often being hypnotized by Kaa in my DA drawings. In fact, in the hypnosis meme project I'm working on for DA, Elizabeth is selected as the hypnotic subject. However, I felt that there should be more to this Elizabethan era bunny. Recently I've toyed with the idea of the young man she was courting before she came to the trailer park going there and angerly challenging SC to a duel for her (the appearence of such a young man I've seen as a gray rabbit). I've also tried to put Elizabeth a bit more in Game Over life as the one that knew Sparkz a few years ago as a Pichu who she befriended and helped Sparkz become a Pikachu. However, I refuse to have Elizabeth become an official Game Over operative. I think that would spoil the whole of her charm.

 

So tell me, what do I do with a cute seventeen-year-old polite Renassance Faire rabbit?

Sonic Fan vs Sonic-Style: the Evolution of SC

Posted by supercomputer276 on September 14, 2008 at 2:58 PM Comments comments (0)

One time I was having an MSN conversation with an online familiar (one I have had a tense relationship with) and I posed a question, seemingly out of the blue, along the lines of "Is there a difference between a Sonic fancharacter and a Sonic-style character?" He replied affirmatively and pointed me to "Exterminatus Now". EN is an online webcomic (note: very mature themes and language, although very good and sometimes brilliant humor) that features characters drawn in Sonic-style, but they have nearly no relation to the Sonic universe aside from being on the planet Mobius and one recent gag page. On one comic in particular, one of the authors, Virus, rants about this exact subject.

"Contrary to what drama queen online artists would have you believe, you can't copyright a style. Eastwood is a fox drawn in the style of the Sonic characters. He therefore has an innate similarity to Tails who is also a fox. A lot of anime shows share a similar design style, and many characters of the same species - human. Some of the main differences in the character designs are build, size/shape/arrangement of facial features, hair colour/style, eye colour and clothing. Huh. Well lookit that. Those are exactly the things that differentiate Eastwood from Tails. Why is it that human characters in anime can all look the bloody same and nobody notices, but when I give my character conjoined eyes, people call him a ripoff of Sonic?"
-The Virus


This brings to me something that I thought about concerning SC: he's not really much of a fancharacter at all. Just a character.

There's good reason for this conclusion. Back in the original story itself, SC didn't really fit in with the Mario world because he was, well, human. (This is one of the faults Lemmy found with it.) Aside from the Game Over, staffed with Mario characters at the time, he didn't have much connection to the Mario universe. I think this was part of the original purpose. The way I set up the Game Over as a syndicate trying to conquer the multiverse allowed me to have SC be the villian of whatever fanstory I wanted to write. I figured focusing on one villian over several worlds would in general be easier. Sounds ridciulous in hindsight, I know. Maybe it is, but that's how it turned out.

I suppose SC did become a bit of a Mario fancharacter when he changed into Lakitu form. Who am I kidding? He completely became. There was no way I could get around SC not being part of the Mario universe as a Lakitu as he was, well, a Lakitu. Specific Nintendo property. That doesn't mean I regret the choice; SC being Lakitu is vital to his story. It is as a Lakitu that he got Galeforce, which helped ease him into the art of communicating, as well as his first crush outside of an "official" character, EBK's character Jinxy. While a Lakitu, SC also developed several other concepts that became part of the Game Over, such as the plothole portals and CardSoul magic.

With the advent of joining Authortastic 2.0, I decided that the SC the Lakitu sprites wouldn't cut it. I had asked a guy to try and make Sonic-style sprites (the concept of SC then would be to have his tails two different colors, one orange and one purple), but when he didn't respond and I was running out of time, I ended up making the sprites myself (you all know what they look like). This resulted in the design as I refer to as mark I.

Although SC wasn't a Sonic fancharacter (not even close), it was borderline with the first design. I never was good at spriting, and as there were more similarities to Tails in mark I than I could care to admit (heck, Tails not wearing pants was one of the reasons SC mark I didn't wear pants, the others being Sonic and Knuckles). I believe I cleared up most of these concerns with the mark II (current) outfit, which I designed by hand-drawing instead of spriting (and then having Shard sprite them). Anyone can tell you I hand-draw much better than I can sprite, big time. Anyone glancing through my DA gallery can see that. SC's personality also evolved during his fox time. Joining Authortastic took him out of Mt. Majesty or the doomships for a lengthy time for probably the first time since he started the Game Over and gave him his chance to interact with others and evolve from the encounters, resulting in him losing much of the driving hatred that fueled his world-conquering endeavors and generally evolving from villian to anti-hero in most cases. Shard is evidence of this; SC never would've met her had he stayed in his cave.

As such, barring his appearance, that leaves SC almost pretty much seperate from most video game series, excepting Mt. Majesty being located in the Mario world. Already covered that. About a year ago, I started writing a Kingdom Hearts installation for the Game Over series, Kingdom Hearts: Game's End. Pilt is one of the first, actually the first, world that Sora and his party visit, and here they meet up with the Koopa Klan and learn of the Game Over. However, I wanted Mt. Majesty to be a far away world that Sora and the gang could only reach afer a long journey (you don't see End of the World next to Traverse Town, do you?), so I needed some way to seperate the mountain from the planet. The result was that a year prior to the story (since SC was eighteen at the time and he turns sixteen in GOF2, that's plausible since most of his age-seventeen action hasn't been written yet and Authortastic could take place after the seperation), a comet came from the heavens and struck the mountain, resulting in the mountain seperating from Pilt and becoming its own self-sufficient world. The Game Over was self-sufficient when it was part of Pilt (they gathered fruit from the large hedges outside the mountain for food, which came off with the mountain, and have their own power generators in one room), so why not?

Now, barring appearance as before, the only thing to do to pretty much clear all copyrights off SC is to have him dissolve the Game Over and get rid of all characters related to other game series, which is pretty much everyone officially in the Game Over but himself. But hey, you know that's not going to happen. A man needs his castle, even if it is a mountain.

Review: Donkey Konga 2 (GCN)

Posted by supercomputer276 on July 24, 2008 at 10:29 AM Comments comments (0)

Category: 1 to 4 Player Music
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release: 2005

 

Donkey Konga 2 is one of the three Donkey Konga games (the third was never released outside of Japan) and one of four games (can't really count Barrel Blast since the GameCube version was scrapped) that use the DK Bongos periph... peripher... accessory. What causes me to bring this game up is I recently remembered that one of my favorite tracks, "Headstrong," is on it, so I wanted to try it again.

 

The Donkey Konga series is Nintendo's attempt at the music matching franchise (not counting DDR Mario, which sadly I haven't been able to try out). Basic play consists of one track along with four types of notes (yellow Left, red Right, pink Both, and blue Clap) move along and you have to use the DK Bongo controller, which came packaged with new copies of the game, in order to play the notes by hitting the two drums and clapping. You didn't really need to clap as anything strong enough to trigger the Clap Sensor in the DK Bongos did the trick, such as tapping on the side of the drums.

 

The game has its strong points. For once, the coins serve a purpose besides buying stuff in the shops, as they are now required for playing the mini-games. Also, the game comes with a Freestyle Mode, which allows you to play along with the music your own way, which is a plus and also serves as a way to just listen to the music. The game also includes Dixie, who occasionally leaves notes when you clear a song which you can look over later, and serves as a perfect playing computer partner when you're playing solo. The menus are a lot more decorative and intersesting than the previous installment. There is also a few choice songs in the game I particually enjoy, which includes "All Star," "Losing My Religion," "U Don't Have to Call," the classical tracks, and of course "Headstrong."

 

However the game also has some major setbacks. The DK Bongos have a steep learning curve, and playing with a regular GCN controller is even steeper. Playing this game is definately not like riding a bicycle, or at least riding it well. More then once when using the controller have I drummed when I should have clapped. Any sudden noise in the background can trigger the Clap Sensor at the wrong moment, which can prove disadvantageous. Also, compared to other music games such as Guitar Hero and DDR, Donkey Konga is brutal in terms of difficulty. Even after not playing Guitar Hero for a few months, I could still defeat Lou in the final guitar battle, but after a few months of not playing Donkey Konga 2 and going back to it, I constantly missed note after note. There are only two mini-games, one of which I found rather hard to play, the Share game is fairly ridiculous, the plotline is minimal and virtually non-existant within the game, and the graphics haven't really updated from the original game.

 

All in all, there's most likely a good reason why fans have made PC versions of DDR and Guitar Hero and yet none has made a PC game to imitate Donkey Konga (or at least none I know of). Donkey Konga 2 is a pretty good game, but unless you're a big DK or music fan, it's probably best if you spent your money elsewhere.

 

Concept: 7 / 10
The game isn't all that original in concept, as well as fairly difficult to play.

Graphics: 8 / 10
The menus have recieved a greatly needed makeover, but some of the vital graphics, such as the notes and DK and Diddy in game, are nearly identical to the original game's.

Sound: 9 / 10
Personally I think the extra drum kit sounds are annoying and unneeded, although my brother delights in them. As to the song list, I like several of the songs, although I knew of only one or two prior to playing them in-game.

Playability: 5 / 10
The DK Bongo's requirement of using more of your hand than your fingers can throw the average gamer off, and using the controller isn't as easy as it sounds.

Entertainment: 6 / 10
While there are many ways to play with up to four players, it just gets more and more difficult. Some of the Quartet note charts are completely brutal.

Replay Value: Moderately Low
I have absolutely no reason to play the higher difficulty levels, and I doubt I will play it again within a year.

 

Overall Rating: 70%

Birthday Fox, July 24!

Posted by supercomputer276 on June 20, 2008 at 6:21 PM Comments comments (0)

My birthday is July 24th, which means just over a month! Just for fun, I'd thought I'd post my current birthday list.

 

Video games and related

  • Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Heartbreak (GBA)
  • Muppets Party Cruise (GCN)
  • Viewtiful Joe (GCN)
  • Pokemon Battle Revolution (Wii)
  • a Pokemon Sinnoh Pokedex toy
  • a R.O.B. (just because I'm a geek)
  • Wii Points

Manga

  • Gin Tama vol. 6
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Duelist vol. 6
  • Dr. Slump vol. 1

Other

  • Red vs. Blue DVDs
  • clapboard
  • new wristband (old one's getting worn out)
  • Make-Your-Own-Opoly

Review: Kirby Super Star (SNES)

Posted by supercomputer276 on May 27, 2008 at 3:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Category: 1 to 2 Player Platform
Developer: HAL Labratories
Publisher: Nintendo
Release: 1996

 

Kirby Super Star (KSS) is the second Kirby game on the Super Nintendo (the first being Kirby's Dream Course) and the system's first Kirby platformer. KSS added much lore to the Kirby series and is arguably the best game in the franchise. An interesting note is that the game is actually nine games in one. Although only four are available from the start, playing through them, which can be pretty straightforward, will unlock the others. Each game has a unique feature that stands it out from the other games. For example, in The Great Cave Offensive, you have to find as many as sixty different treasure chests along with completing all the levels and defeating the bosses.

 

KSS was also a trend setter. A few elements first introduced in KSS became important parts of future installments in the Kirby franchise, the two main of which are ability hats (hats Kirby wears when he has an ability, allowing you to see with a glance what ability you have) and the use of a health bar instead of several vitiality segments. A few of the unique abilities seen in later installments, such as Ninja, came from this game.

 

KSS also allows for constant multiplayer through use of the helper system. By pressing A when Kirby has an ability, Kirby could transform that ability into a friendly enemy Helper character that could use the same moves as Kirby had with the ability. When there wasn't a second player present, the computer took control. The AI of a computer-controlled helper was much better compared to the AI in Kirby & the Amazing Mirror (GBA).

 

The sum of all these has made KSS one of the most popular Kirby games since the series started in 1992. From my view, I'm still not sure exactly why.

 

I had trouble controlling Kirby at first, although that was probably just because I was using an N64 controller connected to my computer and still trying to figure out a working button arrangement that was as close to an SNES controller as possible. I also thought the sprites were larger then necessary and restricted my view of the level uncomfortably. Also, there is one treasure chest in The Great Cave Offensive that can only be obtained though pure luck, and since it's the most valuable treasure in the game, it can be a real downer. The one-time enemy TAC, who steals your abilities, is fairly annoying and the ability he gives you, Copy, I've never found all that useful either. On that note, while this is the first Kirby game to have an ability do different things depending on what other buttons are pressed when you press the Y Button, I found it a little confusing to work out how each one worked and some, like >>+B for Beam, simply befuddled me.

 

However, these are fairly minor flaws in an otherwise interesting game. Marx and NOVA of Milky Way Wishes persist in the minds of fans around the globe, including yours truely. Kirby Super Star is one of the greater treasures of the 16-bit era and a definately recommended title.


Concept: 9 / 10
This nine-game package and the various goodies within make for one of the more original SNES titles.

Graphics: 8 / 10
The larger sprites threw me for a while, but they look very good for the system.

Sound: 9 / 10
The SFX are standard for a Kirby game, but the BGM has become the source of remixes both official and not. Revenge of Meta Knight even gets jazzified for Brawl. That says something.

Playability: 9 / 10
After I got my troubles of learning what each button did over, I didn't have very many problems except with the multi-move abilities, and that's probably only a concern I'm facing.

Entertainment: 9 / 10
I found the game to be very enjoyable and really fun to play. Each of the subgames provides a difference experience, especially the unique ability system for Milky Way Wishes, that give each one its charm.

Replay Value: Moderate
Maybe it's just me, but after I finished Milky Way Wishes (which is in a way the last of the nine games), I moved on even though I didn't complete each subgame 100%. I suppose others found more in it then what I did.


Overall Rating: 88%

Majesty's Musings: Introduction

Posted by supercomputer276 on May 27, 2008 at 3:31 PM Comments comments (0)

This blogspace is going to be my grounds for talking about whatever subject comes to mind, whether it is related to the site or not. While I will allow everyone to comment on my entires, please observe the basic rules such as no spamming, flaming, trolling, or mountain trolling, as well as the general site rules such as no obscene words or material. Thank you, and please leave your opinions.

 

Generally, there will be two types of posts in this blog: rants and reviews. Rants are small passages free-written by me about a certain subject. Reviews will be my opinions on video games (reviews of other things will be Rants) using a set scoring system. Reviews will have "Review:" at the beginning of the entry's title.

 

The scoring system for reviews is as follows (and yes, I took it from Lers' Place, I'm a member of the review staff there):

 

The Scoring System
%100 - 91
- Amazing. These games are nearly perfect in every aspect and is rarely given out. These are games that you cannot miss.
%90 - 81 - Excellent. Just short of gaming perfection. Highly recommended titles.
%80 - 71 - Good. A game with many good things to be had in it.. but may not be the right choice for everyone.
%70 - 61 - Average. Playable but nothing that separates the title from other games. Solid from the beginning to the end.
%60 - 51 - Decent. May get its share of fans but a title that generally will leave players looking for a better gaming experience.
%50 - 41 - Just there. A game that shows a lot of potential but a lot of the game is heavily flawed.
%40 - 31 - Bad. Some parts of the game work but the rest of it either doesn't function like it should or the game is just dull as hell in most areas.
%30 - 21 - Hurtful. Anything that's worth playing in this game is most likely buried beneath aggravating gameplay and poor execution.
%20 - 11 - Unplayable. Nothing to be had in this game. If there is anything to be had, it's most likely small enough to not even bother.
%10 - 0 - Ryan Leaf. A waste of time from the time you own it til you get rid of it. Possibly a Heath Shuler.

And now, what ratings are based from.

Concept: What new things the game brings to the genre and how well the old ideas are presented.
Graphics: How pretty a game looks. Taking flaws into account, like glitches and pop-up.
Sound: Do the sounds and music blow you away or make you want to play with the sound muted?
Playability: How well the controller responds to what you do. The less problems with the control, the more playable the game is.
Entertainment: How fun a game is to play. This is the biggest factor in rating a game.
Replay Value:

High: You'll be playing this title years from now.
Moderately High: Good for a few years, but doesn't last long.
Moderate: Good for a few runs.
Moderately Low: Worth one go and not much else to redeem from it.
Low: You'll probably stop playing this game before you finish it.


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