Category Archives: Black Tie Event

Shine those shoes and tighten that tie, it’s the Black Tie Event. A most prestigious event where video games are analyzed in the utmost highest class fashion that those with “less fortunate” bank accounts would never understand. Originally began its life on The Official Video Gaming Hard Corps has found new life here.

The Black Tie Event Presents… Why Do We Die in Video Games?

There are stories that go around that most gamers have some difficulty completing a game on a single turn. Outrageous if you ask me. I’ve never done such a thing and I’d wager that losing a life in a simple contraption such as a video game leads to more issues in your life. Luckily I’ve never had such a weight hanging over my head. But it did get me thinking. What is the purpose of dying in a video game in today’s world anyway? To answer such a burning question we must journey to the past. A place that I am very familiar with given my station in the web-a-sphere.

Deep in the underbelly of malls, roller rinks and rooms full of plastic tubes and ball pits, floored a room with a special code. The room was dark, hazed with cigarette smoke (you could smoke indoors back then) and the sound of soft growls emitted from every corner. The only light came from an ominous glow of monitors flashed with colors from the entire spectrum. This, my fancy suit wearing friends, is the dinosaur known as the arcade.

 

The arcade was a special place where people from all over, of any age and religion could stand shoulder to shoulder in a battle of who was the best. The games played weren’t your mere lawn darts or bingo. No, these games consisted of bloody brawls, ships flying through space shooting down aliens or something as simple of a game of tennis. The only admission needed was a quarter. 25 cents could take you to a far away place or leave you crying beside the cabinet after a ten second failed venture. This quarter was the only currency recognized (although many would try to convert your change into useless tokens) and it was hailed that if you have a quarter, you have a game. I’ve seen a seven year old teach a businessman in a suit a thing or two about Street Fighter and college friends play for who’s buying beers on the Defender cabinet.

 

You have a quarter, you have a life. Just one. You lose that life in an epic battle of wits, you have to put in another quarter to go again. This is what is called a perma-death. Once you die, that’s it. You’re dead. No coming back, no continues, nothing. This is how all the arcade companies made money back in the day. By creating a game that allows for perma-death which wipes your high score or your place in line gives a reason to the death. It’s 25 cents. That was a lot of money back in the day especially if you were a kid like me. The worst was running to your parents begging for just one more quarter. Just one more game. This is why you died. To pump in more quarters. Staying alive the longest or not losing a fight was stretching that money making that loss even more prevalent.

 

Fast forward a decade and home console giants Nintendo and Sega are starting to make waves in the gaming sphere. Suddenly people aren’t going to arcades anymore. Arcades are coming to them. Sure the graphics aren’t as good or the controls feel a little wonky but it’s the game at its heart. And it was a one time fee. No need to pump more quarters into a slot and slamming the start button before time ran out. Now you start with multiple lives, a new thing called “continues” and a strange super secret password system that allows continued play after the machine is turned off. What?! You mean I can come back to my game days after I’ve stopped playing and restart right where I’ve left off? Are you a wizard? What kind of magic is this? Arcades were doomed. This was the first step in the decline in the arcade market. And developers started to get worried.

From here, the idea was to create a “home” experience but in the arcade. They were banking on the fact that the hardware was better than home consoles. That you can customize the controller to best suit the game being played rather than conform to a strict guideline of two buttons and a weird directional pad. You can’t play defender with a directional pad! Now continues starting making their way into arcade games. If you lost all your lives, rather than the perma-death, you had a countdown timer that gave you the chance to insert more quarters to continue your game. No more was the process a one and done. If you had the money you could continue till the end. I still remember pumping quarters into beat ‘em up machines like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Simpsons and X-Men hoping that I would last long enough to make it to the end to see the final boss. It wasn’t a test of skill anymore but a test of how deep your pockets were. You could figuratively brute force your way through an arcade game. This was the band-aid that the arcade industry held onto until it’s ultimate demise of console hardware catching up and exceeding those at the arcades. A sad day indeed.

 

OK, history lesson over. Let’s take a look at gaming as it currently is. One thing that I’ve noticed over the years is that if you have to go into the Options screen, something is wrong. Either the controls don’t work like you want them to or the video doesn’t seem right. No developer puts extra lives and more continues in the option screen anymore. Every game it seems you have unlimited chances to progress through the game. There isn’t any perma-deaths. If you die or miss an objective you just start over from your last checkpoint. Your only means of knowing you lost, other than telling you, is a loading screen. That is your misfortune of dying in a video game today. A loading screen. Back during the launch of the first Sony Playstation (I know, more history), these loading times were excruciating. Some to the point where it would take up to a minute or two to load the game. With technology nowadays, these times are cut down to almost nothing. Most of the time you don’t even see things loading because it’s done in the background. Either way, you just restart and try again.

 

If this is the case (and it certainly seems to be) why would you die in the first place? It’s not like you have to pump money into it to keep playing. You just get another go. The story doesn’t change, you don’t get hinder in any fashion. Even in games like Diablo II where, if you died, you lose all of your weapons and items. But you can just come back to the spot you died and pick everything up again. There’s no consequence in losing a life. The only thing keeping you from playing is the idea of rage quitting. A point when you become so frustrated by the game’s mechanics or story or uneven enemies that you just shut it off. But, guess what? Your progress is saved up to that point anyway so coming back at a later time will just put you back to where you stopped.

 

With there being no consequence in dying with the exception of seeing a loading screen, why do developers continue to keep this element in games? Jonathan Blow, an independent game developer, tried to fix this with his smash hit Braid. The conception was creating after many talks with fellow game creators about manipulating time. So instead of falling down that pit where you would die, you could rewind time back to a point just before the death. No loading screens, no unnecessary menu options to reload your saved game, nothing. Just go back to before your mistake to try again. I don’t think this fixes the need for consequence from making a mistake but it proves that this can be patched or sidestepped in the gaming community for a new radical idea that works.

So what’s the solution? Do we go as far as putting in change boxes in every home where you have to deposit 25 cents to restart your game? Have someone come by every week to collect the money? Probably not. But what is important is to start the conversation about where we go from here. Games are suppose to be challenging, difficult, but more importantly fun. Not having something hang over our heads as we journey into battle against our foes brings a sense of accomplishment once the objective is met. If my only fear is seeing a loading screen or respawning from a checkpoint then there really isn’t a fear at all. Fear breeds creativity, the willingness to do something crazy with the small expectation that it might work, a reason to fight. Without fear, without consequence, we’re all just seeing who can last the longest without quitting by turning the machine off. For me, that’s not good enough.

The Black Tie Event Presents… All I Need to Know I Learned in the First 5 Minutes of the Legend of Zelda

We’ve learned so much over the years. From our days of schooling or the au par that would take care of us when our single mother was out “looking for a new Daddy” in Rome or Las Vegas. There are things we were taught that we forgot and there are things that never really mattered that we will never forget.

For this week’s Black Tie Event presents everything I really needed to know, I learned from playing the Legend of Zelda. And only in the first five minutes.

Tighten those ties, it’s about to get life-learned lessons classy in here.

Patience

Patience is huge in gaming. Either in finding out what a boss’s pattern is down to moving one pixel at a time to journey across a large gap or cavern. Those who are familiar with retro gaming and the NES in general, they know patience is a must.

You find the Legend of Zelda on a shelf next to many other titles for sale. You’ve seen the screenshots, you’ve read the reviews. This is the adventure you have been waiting for. You have the sweet crest on the front of the box and a little window that shows off the gold exterior of the cartridge. You purchase the game, run home and slap it in your NES only to get this:

Now, everyone has their own method of getting games to work on their NES because, I don’t know if you know, but every NES is different and requires your special touch. It won’t work on anyone else’s just yours.

You know it’s going to work, sooner or later it’s going to work. But this is what really separates the men from the boys. Some of you will give up and just try to get it to work later. Others will sit for hours getting the game to work. And those who have patience will win in the end. Because after those hours to getting it to work, becoming light headed from all of the blowing into the cartridge, that beautiful logo screen with the flowing waterfall and the glorious theme will sing through your mind until you are lying on your deathbed. Patience is a virtue. And the reward is the Legend of Zelda.

The Importance of a Name

Now, for those who first played Legend of Zelda, didn’t read the instruction booklet or waited for the story scroll. You wanted to play the game right? Right?! So naturally you would put your own name in or something funny hoping for the NPCs to use your name in some sort of conversation. Oh, and by the way, it almost never happens.

Many of us would just put their own name in just to bypass the screen and get to the game. Some of us will find this as a way to reinvent themselves. If you’re shy and an introvert, you could be Krun, the strong and powerful! Ready to save any kidnapped princess or damsel in distress. All of that starts with a name.

I use to think that I was plagued with a boring, easy to forget name. Eric Hunter. Lame. As I grew up, I found out that I have a very powerful name. A name that nearly no one would have an issue spelling first time out (huge deal there) and something that fits my personality. That’s the secret. It’s not my name that makes me, it’s me that makes the name. The name you pick will be echoed through the ages!

Or if you read the instruction booklet, you’d pick Link because that’s what the game’s hero’s name is. You know, whichever works for you. That, or you could pick Zelda, and give your game a totally different view.

Being Alone

Starting a new game in the Legend of Zelda, you get a sense of being utterly alone. You pull down your inventory and you have nothing. No items, no money, nothing. All you have are the clothes on your back and a full bill of health (which, you won’t know until later, can be increased). In front of you are three passageways. You have no idea where they go. You are building your map as you go. No one has given you a hand to push you in the correct direction.

A small note of valuable information here, is that this is the only installment in the Legend of Zelda series where you don’t have a home. In every iteration, you start in someone’s house or Link’s own home. But not here. You get a sense of larger things at work here and something or someone just dropped you in the middle of nowhere.

This is true in life as well. There are many times in your life that you will feel completely hopeless just like Link. You may have a good bill of health and a few roads ahead of you for you to take. But you are on your own. No one is going to help you.

Learning to Trust People

One of the first people you meet in this strange new land is an old man living as a hermit in a nearby cave. Upon entering, he has these famous lines…

The first time I met this “old man” (if he really is an old man), I was worried. There were too many holes in his story. How does he know it’s dangerous out there? He’s old. He’s not going out and running around. He’ll probably stay around his cave only going out as far as he has to for food and water. If he thinks the land octopuses that shoot rocks are dangerously, he’s got another thing coming. How does he really know it’s dangerous out there?

And he’s giving me a free sword. FREE! No swap, no “I’ll get you back later”, nothing. Just… here ya go. At this point in the game, you are already overwhelmed by, what you think anyway, the shear size of the new land you’ve just been thrown into, you haven’t seen or heard anyone or anything at this point, then you have this guy.

Just like in life, you have to decide on a moment’s notice if you can trust someone or not. He seems legit. At least to the point of, on a first meeting, he’s willing to help you along your journey without asking for anything in return. Do you take the sword and hope it really does help you in the end or do you go about your way making your own success without the kindness of strangers? I have seen players do both. Those who don’t take the sword have a tougher time adventuring. Even though it is impressive to watch a swordless Link speedrun.

Sometimes You Get Lucky

Some people seem to just get by without any outside help or direction. It just seems like all the roads are pointed their way and it’s clear sailing from here. Well, let’s face it, sometimes people get lucky. I don’t know how many times I’ve been playing a game and I’m so close to dying that the next hit will take me over the edge sending me back to the start of the level. Then this happens.

That’s right. I got lucky. Sure it could be that the program is written just so that it’ll recognize that you may need a little boost to keep playing while others are trying to keep you down and part of that may be true. Then there are other times where it seems just like a gift from god. Which in some ways is true. Life isn’t a program (unless you believe in the Matrix), and sometimes it just feels like things are going your way. Happens all the time. Take advantage of these incidents. They may be few and far between.

You Learn as You Go

If you’re like me, you didn’t read the instruction booklet that came with the game and you sure as hell didn’t wait for the story to roll after the title screen. So as far as you know, you’re alone in a vast unknown world and it’s up to you figure it out as you go.

You make it through the first dungeon, take out huge dragon and are awarded a… what the hell is this? You pull down your inventory and now there’s something there that wasn’t there before. Hmm… what does it mean? Who knows. You continue on your journey. Because you will figure it out eventually.

That’s the beauty of most things. You learn as you go. You come across something that doesn’t make sense now, hold on to it. Sooner or later it’ll make sense. Either for you or for someone else. There’s a note you receive from another old man (yes another one. They are everywhere in the land of Hyrule) and says to give it to the old woman. There isn’t any young people in Hyrule either, just in case you were wondering.

Now, you can’t use this note. It’s not for you, but as you continue your journey, you come across someone who needs it. This “swap” mechanic is used over and over again in pretty much all of the Legend of Zelda games. It’s a good life lesson. If there’s anytime you are concerned about the goings on in life, just keep going. You’ll figure it out.

I love the Legend of Zelda. It is my absolute favorite game of all time. Sure there are games that come out that may want to compete with it, but they fall short every time. The Legend of Zelda is a one of a kind. Just like you. Now wipe that childlike wonder out of your eyes and start slaying some beasts!

The Black Tie Event Presents… Ready Player Two

Nobody likes a back seat driver. You build your success on your own or not at all. You think Steve Jobs really needed Steve Wozniak to form the empire that is Apple? Or that Emperor Palpatine needed Darth Vader to build the Death Star? No! They did it on their own. So why give the second player or “first loser” a place in the gaming world?

On today’s Black Tie Event presents… we look at how the gaming industry has cast Player 2 to the wayside without food or water begging them to battle uphill so that we can squash them again.

Single Player Games

The biggest slap to the face to Player 2 is simply not providing a 2 Player Mode at all. Most of these single player adventures are now cornerstones in the gaming industry. Games that new developers pray to for inspiration, guidance or maybe to create a cheap knock off. Games like Mega Man, the Legend of Zelda and Grand Theft Auto; these are the games that have become building blocks of the community. Anyone knocking these games will be destroyed by a vengeance of a thousand fiery suns.

They were too good. Too grand in their expectations that lead an onlooker in amazement wondering when it’ll be their turn to play. Never, is the answer. It will never be your turn, silly Player 2. We are just having too much fun. Just sit back and watch then grab me a drink from the fridge and pay the Pizza guy when he gets here.

Poor Sequels

Some of these once great single player games decided that it might be a good idea to add a 2 player mode to its sequel. Sadly, these sequels never match up to their predecessor. Not every series can be Empire over A New Hope (hell yeah! Two Star Wars references in one article!)

Let’s take for example, Tetris 2. Arguably one of the greatest, if not the best, game ever created. Developed by the Russians and stolen by the Japanese, Tetris even has its own accredited disorder known as the Tetris Effect. Players who were studied playing Tetris for long periods of time start to see different shapes in their thoughts, mental images, and dreams. Haunting, no? In a good way, I mean.

Fast forward to 1993, Nintendo releases Tetris 2 on the NES. One of its key features is a 2 Player Mode. Finally, you can play one of the greatest games with your imaginary friends in a heated head to head battle of shape moving and line building.

The main issue is… Tetris 2 sucks. Sure it takes some of the basic ideas from its older brother, but there’s a slight difference in gameplay. Rather than using adjacent type tetrominoes to compete, it instead uses colored tetrominoes to clear the board. This did two things to the gaming public: 1. By shifting the paradigm, players were extremely put off by the concept almost immediately and 2. it made any player who may be affected by a form of color blindness impossible to play. Now, I don’t know the statistics of the amount of gamers who are color blind, but even one is one too many to shun away from your game.

The real question behind this is why would Nintendo change Tetris so drastically for its sequel? Because they hate Player 2.

Alternating Turns

A more common concept in the yesteryear of gaming is making players alternate turns while playing. Usually this was spawned by the death of one player to shift to the other or finishing a particular section of the game.

The most common example would be Super Mario Bros. For the Nintendo Entertainment System. Selecting the 2 Player mode would allow for the second to play as Mario’s twin brother Luigi. For a gamer, this was great! A totally new character to play as that would otherwise be hidden if not for a second player. Sadly, Luigi was only a palette swap of Mario himself, giving him no differences or added abilities. Just a green Mario. A poor, insignificant green Mario.

I will admit that the alternating turns did give it one advantage. Since Player 1 always went first (and rightfully so) Player 2 was able to get a sense of direction as the first player made his/her way through the levels. Knowing where the first time through drops or traps, Player 2 could avoid these by learning from Player 1′s mistakes. Well played, Player 2. Well played.

The Right or Bottom Side of the Screen

As games progressed, they grew larger, more intelligent, and more mean. Jumping to the fifth generation of consoles, came the fighting juggernauts of the Nintendo 64, Sony Playstation and the Sega Saturn. All reaching and grabbing for everyone’s eyeballs, this generation really put the multiplayer concept to the forefront. The Nintendo 64 even went as far as having 4, count them, 4 controller ports to play simultaneously. But it wasn’t without its faults.

Playing more than two players at a time on one TV would create an issue for screen space. Usually this would mean that Player 1 would be on the left hand of the screen giving Player 2 the right. This would completely hide the far left and right sides of the gaming area. A big disadvantage for shooters by not seeing an enemy coming from your peripherals. Usually resulting in death every time. Thanks for nothing Player 2.

Let’s take a look at a true innovator in FPS’s: Goldeneye 64. Everyone’s favorite go to for the Nintendo 64. Let’s say you were only able to wrangle up 2 of your imaginary friends. Thanks to the addition of more players, you have cut your screen into fourths.

I think the thing that gets me the most about this set up is the fact that you have a perfectly empty square of blackness. Why the developers didn’t give player one the top half of the screen and the rest to fight over the bottom half I’ll never know. It’s like the game has to dumb down the view screen for everyone since there’s more than the supreme Player 1 gunning for video game action. At least they could have put “Sorry Player 1 for the screen. These A-Holes are messing things up.” in the blank square. I would have appreciated that.

The Fight for Guile

Some of you may know my love for Street Fighter II and the series already thanks to my rants on 1 More PodCastle and my review on “Review a Great Game Day”, but for Player 2 it’s a kick in the pants. And rightfully so.

First, by selecting the 2 Player Mode, you are subjected to the bland blue background of the character select screen. Gone are the days of the world map and the homelands of the fighting best. Thanks to Player 2, you are no longer worthy of such a commodity. No, we are now subjected to the “A Challenger Appears!” with only stats to look at. Like I care how many times I pwnd Player 2.

As a final flip of the finger (yes, that finger) to Player 1, Capcom was more than happy to NOT allow both players select the same character in a two player match. That’s right. Now, me growing up, the character to play was Guile. His cool hair cut, tight physique and love for the United States of America was the obvious choice. We always thought that Guile was the one who said “Winners don’t do drugs” in between the intro screens and we didn’t. Not if Guile was watching.

Starting the 2 Player Mode puts Player 1 as Ryu and Player 2 as Ken in the selection screen. It was now a race to see who could get to Guile the fastest. Luckily, Capcom was nice enough to make Player 2 have one more joystick stroke than Player 1, but if you weren’t paying attention, you could miss out on the glory that is Guile.

Then you would probably just be slated for E. Honda or Chun-Li. No one wants to be Chun-Li. And what does the “E” in E. Honda stand for anyway? Edward? Like in Twilight?! No thank you. Here’s your hundred-hand-slap.

Bang Bang, Now You’re Dead

My last example of game developers sticking it to Player 2, as it should be, is the notorious “Mode A/Mode B”.

One type of this situation is Double Dragon II: The Revenge for the NES. There were two modes of play labeled Mode A and Mode B. As many times I have played this game with my brother and others, I can never remember which one is which. One is torture and the other is commendable.

Torture came from selecting Mode A which allows both players to play nice together. None of the attacks from either player will result in lost health. What a pity that you can’t beat up on your imaginary friends. Mode B on the other hand was a totally different story. Selecting Mode B allowed you to dish out damage to your friend and even take their own lives after a righteous kill. Sadly, the downside being that Player 2 could do the same to you. Not like he/she would, mind you. They are, in fact, Player 2.

Let’s Be Real

Well, of course there are some great 2 Player Games out here. Games like Contra, Smash TV and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: the Arcade to name a few. Growing up with an older brother yielded me to always being Player 2. So I became close with those characters. I identified with Luigi, Jimmy and Lance “Scorpion” Bean. They were the characters I remember best. And it was great to see some of these characters, especially Luigi, really get a chance to shine in their own games. But let’s be real… being Player 2 still sucks.

The Black Tie Event Presents… Where Did My Shit Go?!

Riches to rags. A story told time and time again. Jordan Belfort, Allen Stanford, yes even M.C. Hammer know of the short trek back to the poor after journeying to the top of the mountain.

Most of this is a simple process of over stepping boundaries. They know where it went wrong because they were the number one cause of it being gone in the first place.

In video games, we the player, are not always privileged to that process. Sometimes we are struck down by asking simple questions like “Why?” or even the dreaded “How come you did that?”. Yes, we are stripped of everything and expected to work to get back to where we were only a few seconds ago.

That’s right. Today for the Black Tie Event we ask the question “Where did my shit go?!”

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

The Legend of Zelda series tells many tales of a simple boy striving to make something of himself. Spanning across multiple consoles (yes… even the CD-i, someone had to play them), almost everyone has journeyed the path of Link, a lonely elf taking the task of rescuing Princess Zelda upon himself with little help from those around him.

Then why would you just take everything away from him?

So your skipping along in the fields of Hyrule, taking out baddies left and right. Crush the 3 dungeons and have collected the appropriate number of stones to open the Temple of Time door to claim your Master Sword!

Playing through this game again recently, I wonder if taking the Master Sword is actually the wrong move. They seal your spirit away for seven years! Seven! All of the people you know, loved ones, are now coming to terms with your seven year disappearance and think you dead. Gannondrof has followed in behind you to take his place to the throne and turned Hyrule into a depressing land of death and decay. On top of all that, the old guy who’s been watching over you these past years is taking away your weapons.

That’s right. All of the cool stuff you’ve been using only fraction of a second ago (to you anyway) won’t “work” anymore. No more Deku sticks, no slingshot, no boomerang. Nothing.

Adult Link can’t use a slingshot? It doesn’t make any sense. If anything, the slingshot should work better now due to Link gaining strength being that seven years have passed. No more boomerang? I just can’t comprehend it. But no. Navi says no, and that’s how it stays. No explanation. No reason. Just no. You’d think if Link was going to talk in any of the Zelda games, this would have been the moment.

As an added bonus, they leave the items in your inventory just to mock you. Darkened out and no way to assign them, but you know they’re there. Oh, you know it. Just laughing in your face.

Mega Man series

The blue bomber will always hold a special place in my heart. There’s nothing like using an enemy’s weapon against them to completely destroy the forces of evil. Sequel after sequel, Mega Man continues his reign to battle Dr. Wily with the help of Dr. Light.

After so many sequels, so many weapon upgrades, where did they all go?

Following the Mega Man time line, it’s only been two years between Dr. Wily reprogramming the original Robot Masters Guts Man, Cut Man, and friends to his creation of Top Man, Spark Man, and Snake Man. Two years. How did Mega Man lose or “forget” all of those abilities in the span of two years? Was technology not up to snuff enough to hold all of the Robot Masters weapon upgrades?

Why can I not use Rolling Cutters on Snake Man? Or the Ice Slasher on Top Man? That would have slowed him down real quick.

But no. It’s like Dr. Light had to wipe Mega Man’s hard drive before he was allowed to add any new weapon upgrades. You would think in a world where technology is practically endless, especially enough to create a robot that has advanced artificial intelligence, you would think hard drive capacity would be a thing of the past.

Why not just put the information into the cloud? Sure you might have to worry about someone hacking into it, but as long as he has an encrypted password, it shouldn’t become an issue. Just doesn’t make any sense.

Final Fantasy 2 (Final Fantasy IV in Japan)

Easily my most favorite RPG for a console ever. Hands down. Great story, amazing characters, just all around a great game.

You play as Cecil, a dark knight and the captain of the Red Wings, an elite air force unit of the kingdom of Baron. He’s commissioned to collect powerful crystals throughout the world by order of the King himself. He’s not happy with the task, but he does his job with the best of his ability and he is a total bad ass.

In the intro to Final Fantasy 2, Cecil and his shipmates are attacked by monsters and Cecil, alone, defeats them. Conjuring magic from the depths of hell in the form of a Lit-Bolt and a Fire Bomb doing massive amounts of damage and destroying everything in it’s path. 1 against many. Cecil comes out the victor.

After watching this as a child, I couldn’t wait to start taking out monsters as Cecil. Only, I found out, that I don’t have any magic spells. No Lit-Bolts; no Fire Bombs. Nothing. I can’t do any magic. But… I just…. I just saw him do it!?! He totally owned those monsters in the beginning with these crazy items or spells and now I have nothing? But why?

And to top off this donkey dung sundae, the items of the Lit-Bolt and the Fire Bomb don’t exist in the game. At all. It was just a facade. A cruel joke to lure innocent gamers into the game only to let them find out that these things really don’t exist. Sure there are similar magic that can be performed with the same result, but Cecil will never be the one extending his rage on enemies in such a way.

Oh, and he becomes a huge let down when he transforms to a White Knight. Lame. GAWD!

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Ah, Castlevania. There’s nothing quite like taking the fight to Dracula and watching him fall from grace in his own house.

Symphony of the Night for the PlayStation is really a milestone in the series. It moved the player away from the “room by room” level progression to a more open landscape, sprinkle some RPG elements into it, and put it on a great console for its time and you’ve struck gold. You even get to replay the ending from Rondo of Blood killing Dracula at the start of Symphony of the Night. I’ve always admired this development tactic in video games. It shows that the developers honor those before them and it shows the player that it’s about to get real.

Then appears Alucard, Dracula’s son (actually “Alucard” is Dracula backwards *fun fact*). This guy is a beast. Coming from other Castlevania games, you’ve gotten use to the slow transitions, the knock back, and the limited use of long range weapons. Alucard is no Simon Belmont. This guy is a hard hitting, fast pace, killing machine. No more four shots with the whip to take out a baddy. Oh, no. That’s not Alucard’s style. This guy is only down for 1-hit deaths. And he’s got them in spades.

So, you’re cruising along, slashing and killing everything in sight, then you come across Death. Death kindly asks you to stop your attack on the Castle of Dracula. Oh course, you refuse, but by doing so, you lose everything. I’m taking everything. No weapons, no items, no power ups, nothing. It’s the biggest let down in video gaming history. By far.

I can’t express into words how unbelievably bad ass Alucard is in the beginning then just to lose everything… I turned it off. I’m not kidding. I started the game, got to Death, lost everything, thought to myself “Well, screw that!” and powered off. I went back eventually but it was a few weeks before I could allow myself to be a stooge to a video game.

The biggest question that’s raised among all of this is why? Why do some developers feel the need to give their players a max out character only to take it all away a few moments later? Do they feel that this will showcase the player what could be only if you work hard enough? I don’t think I’ve ever played a game that, in the end, didn’t come out a better version than going in. I mean, we are suppose to relate to these characters to keep us playing and giving anyone that much power at the beginning is crazy fun. But then to turn a 180 and send them back to the dark ages? I’ll never understand it.

What other games like the ones above have haunted your dreams at night? Be sure to leave a comment below and if you’d like follow me on Twitter @erichunter that would be awesome. We can cry together.

And always remember to stay classy. Someone’s got to do it. It might as well be you.

The Black Tie Events Presents… Why Movie Licensed Games are Doomed to Fail

Is that tie looking a little ragged? How old is it? 2 maybe 3 months? Time to get a new one, my friend. You don’t want to be seen in public looking like that.

There are also quite a few games that have been released to the public that shouldn’t have been. Mainly, video games developed from popular movie franchises. These little gems make their way into our homes with innocent intentions designed to entertain.

Many, if not all, of these movie licensed games fail. Whether they be well deserved games with interesting aspects or not, these games have never seem to work out in a gamer’s eye.

Why, you ask? Lots of reasons. You’ll be surprised to find that some of these games are doomed from the beginning, or in case of our first entry, is actually a good game, but gets roped into being a bad game because of it’s movie tie-in.

Tighten that tie because it’s about to get classy.

Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th, released 1980 in America, is about a crazed lunatic that decides to take her vengeance out of a few teenagers who are working to reopen the abandoned Camp Crystal Lake. (For those who may not remember, Mrs. Voorhees, Jason’s mother, was the knife wielding psychopath in the first installment.)

The Nintendo Entertainment System installment was released 1989 some nine years after the first movie. That puts the game released around Friday the 13th VIII: Jason takes Manhattan. Rather than trying to convey a twisting plot around Mrs. Voorhees, Atlus (developer of the game) decided to go back to its roots and emerge the player into the nightmare that is Jason on the familiar ground of Camp Crystal Lake.

Friday the 13th for the NES is considered by many to be one of the worst games ever released. But underneath all of the hype, the game actually performs well in its constraints. Let’s take a look at some of the most common complaints.

Things aren’t all clear to you at first and you are left aimlessly wandering around the camp whacking zombies with your knife.

The game makes you learn how to survive by supplying the player with cryptic messages as you battle your way through the camp grounds looking for Jason. This is before the ever popular (/sarcasm) ”How To Play” tutorials that you find in most modern games. Most players don’t want the game to hold your hand. Instead they opt for “Learn as you play” techniques which include deciphering puzzling notes strewed throughout the game. Sounds like well designed game play to me.

See, everyone has split up so they can “cover more ground,” or something equally brainless, so they’re situated all over the encampment.

Anyone who’s ever seen a horror movie especially those deemed “slasher”, know that the first thing a group does is split up. That way the killer can take them out one by one. You run up the stairs not out the front door when the killer is in the house. If the group stayed together and the victim ran out the front door, the movie would end wouldn’t it? Why would the game, being based off of said movie, be any different? A video game is designed to bring the player into a world that doesn’t exist in their own reality. Making stupid decisions as a group is part of this reality.

The issue here shows that the movie series was already on its last legs before the video game was released. Atlus noticed this and decided to create a spin off of the movie rather than following a movie story line. This was to give the game a chance to burst past the movies. But as society will show time and time again, that if one bit is bad, it’s all bad.

Imagine how this game would have performed if it had a different title?

Street Fighter: the Movie — the Game

Sometimes, a franchise is so popular you really start running out of things to do with it. In the thoughts of the Street Fighter series, creating a movie with a very impressive casting list was a no-brainer. Or so one would think.

Street Fighter: the Movie will always be considered a terrible effort to turn a video game into a movie. An early attempt to cash in on a very popular video game franchise; the opposite of our first entry.

So, first, let’s get the idea confusion out of the way: this is a game, that’s based on a movie, that’s based on a video game. Get it? Hard to wrap one’s head around.

All and all, the idea was sound, take a popular video game turn it into a movie then allow the players to play as the actors themselves that played the characters in the movie who were portraying their video game counterparts. Wait… I think I just confused myself.

The biggest issue here was the movie didn’t fair well among viewers bringing in only a score of 13% on the TomatoMeter from Rotten Tomatoes. So the movie didn’t work. Why would anyone make a game based off a failing movie?

With a bad taste in our mouth, we headed to the arcade to play the first installment of Street Fighter: the Movie – the Game. With expectations all ready low, this game was doomed from the start.

But is the game that bad? Short answer: yes. But it was built upon a structure that, in my opinion, was already a failing attempt at game design. Mortal Kombat was one of the first games that became popular that used real actors for digitized images. Using this kind of technology limits the game to few frames for a proper animation. The moves look jagged or slow; unnatural at times.

Sprites themselves allow a programmer to make the motion fluid without taking up too much space or having an actor stand around for hours on end taking photos moving one inch and then another… and then another… Take a poor idea for a movie, turned video game, with some of the worst ideas for a head to head fighter, the game was pitted against itself and lost.

One thing I can say about this game… Akuma… super cool.

E.T. – Extra-Terrestrial

What’s cuter than a lonely boy to befriends an extra-terrestrial named simply E.T. that is stranded on Earth? Answer? Nothing. Pulling in just over $11 million dollars on opening night back in 1982 and stayed number one for six more weeks! Huge. Why wouldn’t the game be just as good? Right? Anyone?

E.T. for the ATARI 2600 is constantly cited as being the contributor to the video game crash of 1983. Developed and programmed by one man, Howard Scott Warshaw, was given only five weeks to have the game ready by the Christmas deadline. Talk about a raw deal.

But what he created was an extremely emotional piece of video game art. Not again will these styles be copied until the release of the popular Metroid for the NES.

Stay with me…

Warshaw decided to go against the grain and create something new with the title of E.T.: rather than bumping around as Elliot trying to help E.T. get back to his home planet, you play as E.T. On the quest to get there yourself.

Within E.T., you are pitted against your own solidarity, feeling helpless, abandoned. Around every corner is a man in a yellow suit and hat trying to capture you. You only have some much strength to keep going. Being on a strange new world, everything blends together making it difficult to plot your points and know if you are heading in the right direction or in circles.

When you cry out for aid, you have to incite the one who found you in the first place with candy before he will give you a piece of your planetary space phone. He holds the very key to getting you home but you have to bribe him with candy before he will comply. Taunting you with only 1 piece at a time until you bring him the necessary amount of payment. What a cruel world you are traveling through with E.T. You have no attacks, no power-ups, nothing. You are just a scared alien trying to get home.

After only struggling against the odds do you come out victorious in your adventure, your home planet’s ship comes to pick you up and are taken back to where it’s safe, where people love you, where you are no longer in danger.

A masterpiece…

Let us know what are some of your favorite movie licensed games that didn’t cut it with the mainstream but still holds a special place in your heart?

As always, stay classy.