Aaron Waite

Aaron Waite

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Wednesday, 09 May 2012 14:00

The Trouble with Remakes

Labor of love, or quick cash-in? 

I'm sorry, but there's no way I can start this article while this 'Doctor Who' theme is playing. You're just going to have to wait.

Ah, such amazing orchestral work. Thank you for your patience. We now return to your regularly-scheduled article, sans sonic screwdriver-based interruptions:

One of the beautiful things about technology progressing is that we can see exactly where we came from - how ugly, misshapen and unpolished we were. A problem arises when we still like the stuff we've left behind, mostly because we're familiar with its trappings and pitfalls, and we adore it despite its silly shag carpeting. Some will simply refuse to use anything else, if just out of fear of using something frighteningly new. We cling to each concept that we create as long as possible before making the awkward last-minute leap into the arms of the next technological advance, hoping and praying we have the wherewithal to adjust to this terrifying turn of events.

Thursday, 03 May 2012 09:08

Won't Get Fooled Again

How I sucked the fun out of rhythm games

I remember the day I met my future boss.

Well, not met. I didn't actually meet him that day. But I did watch him dance.

I was at the Bangor Mall, tagging along with my sister on one of our myriad trips to Obnoxious Game Place to search the shelves for rare PS1 RPGs. After rummaging about the cases and making a purchase or two, we wandered in the general direction of the then-bustling arcade. Just after we turned the corner, I squinted in curiosity at the crowd that gathered around the sound of metallic stomps. I wondered what could have brought all of these people to the nerdiest corner of the mall, heads bobbing to a 90s Euro-club beat.

On this day, I discovered rhythm gaming through a little title known as 'Dance Dance Revolution.'

Thursday, 26 April 2012 12:08

Needs Food Badly

Classic dungeon-romping gets an overhaul

The light slowly seeped into my cell, my eyes adjusting to its intrusion upon my unconsciousness. With the light came the intricate details of my surroundings: stone walls, stone ceilings, torch, barred door.

Well, fancy that. I was prison. In prison, with no knowledge of my previous crimes, and with a minotaur, an insectoid, and a lizardman, no less. After making our introductions (minotaurs are surprisingly pleasant, contrary to popular belief), we set about inspecting our new home. We gave every side of the cell a long look, running our fingers over the cracks, hoping for a secret passageway or a draft. As the minutes turned to hours, we became more desperate, to the point of even throwing ourselves against weak-looking section of the walls. Poor Riff broke part of his exoskeleton against a such unyielding segment, certain that the mortar was weaker in that section. Just as we were beginning to lose hope, a glint of lettering caught my eye right next to the door. I squinted against the heat from the torch nearby to read the charcoal-written message.

'Choose your fate: perish in this cell or pick up the torch,' declared the scrawled lettering. I raised an eyebrow. We weren't given much of a choice, if you ask me. The others read the warning with keen interest. We glanced at each other, then to the torch.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012 16:07

Do A Barrel Roll!

The curious effect of gaming

I've been finding myself listening to Brentalfloss, a chap on YouTube who has made name for himself by adding lyrics to classic game melodies. As much as I destroyed the value of nostalgia a few weeks ago, it seems my current existential crisis is driving me more and more toward my memories for some sort of relief from the worries of adulthood. In light of this, listening to young master Floss sing about Bubble Man's feelings on fighting Mega Man is staving off the encroaching insanity from planning a wedding and a life with my future wife. It's like the best parts of my childhood are gathering their strength to help me in this war we call 'moving on with your life.'

How could video games have this kind of an effect on my psyche, you ask?

Well, as Ricky Ricardo would say, I got some 'splainin' to do.

Video gaming isn't just a hobby, it's a culture. It gets in your blood, just like baseball, basketball, football and family businesses, carves its way into your heart, and you get a little smile remembering times spent with your favorite games. How many of you have ever walked out onto a Little League field and reminisced about your childhood games? How many of you have watched your kid's soccer game, and you blink, and for a split second, you're still out there, playing with such passion and single-minded joy?

Wednesday, 11 April 2012 23:41

Primed for Destiny

2012's best game is from 2002 

When I was but a lad of still-scared-of-the-toilet-age, my neighbors had a yard sale, and included in their treasure trove of old crap was their compilation of NES games. Being the age when you don't see with your eyes but with your hands, I immediately ran from game to game with eyes scanning for anything that might captivate my teeny hyperactive brain. With a gasp and a grin, I latched onto a colorful cartridge featuring (what I thought was) a dude in a spacesuit shooting at tiny spiky thingies. To a youngster like me, unjaded by years upon years of critiquing games, this was all I needed to know that this 'Metroid' game was going to be awesome.

However, as cruel fate would have it, my dear sister, being the extremely caring and unbelievably obnoxious older sibling that she was, told my mother that it had scary things like a 'Mother Brain' and 'monsters' and quite possibly 'caves.' My mother pursed her lips and shook her head, crushing my tiny dreams of being that awesome dude on the cover of that 'Metroid' game. So with a heavy heart, I bought 'Cobra Command' for a buck and trudged home with a heavy heart and a helicopter game.

Thursday, 05 April 2012 15:06

A Link To The Past

The beast called Nostalgia

Nostalgia is a terribly funny thing, a cruel, warped mistress that can build our memories to god-like expectations. For instance, I write this while listening to an old recording of my old band, and hearing my 18-year-old voice crack and passionately hit high notes that I had no business reaching for. But as I listen to it, I remember the feeling of being onstage, belting out words that came from my heart, the weight of a microphone in my hand and a feeling of being exactly where I belong.

Games run this same gamut with me. I'll hop over to Good Old Games or find some Top 100 NES/SNES games, browse through the list, and upon seeing my childhood favorites, my eyes grow distant and my heart wistful. It's like all of my friends have come together for a high-school reunion.

'Oh, Lords of the Realm II! Do you remember the good times we had sending those peasants to fill in the moat under a hail of arrows? And how you could send correspondence with the AI opponents, like sending fart jokes under the banner of a compliment? Sheesh, that was endless fun! How are you making out these days? Oh, Sierra went under? That's too bad, man. Your third game sucked? Aw, man, I am so sorry. Hey, I'd love to stay and chat, but I see Space Quest and King's Quest over there, and I wanted to catch up with them. Take it easy, Lords of the Realm II!'

Wednesday, 21 March 2012 17:17

Questionable Motives

The emotions beneath gameplay

What do we actually want out of a game?

Seriously, have we ever just asked ourselves the question, then sat down and thought about it? Have we just had our nose too deep in our favorite stories for so long that we've never really given thought to why the crap we actually enjoy them? Far too often, we just accept the game as is. We know we like a certain style of game, we form camps around every type of game, from role-playing games to first-person shooters, to horror and strategy games. We embrace the intricacies and obtuseness that comes with them, generally unapologetically. But at the same time, we never ask why things in these genres are the way they are. We've blindly wandered into these games thousands of times without so much as a thought to why we relate so well to certain aspects of them. For the first time in my life, I'm going to ask these questions that I never got around to asking.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012 15:36

Wii Bowling: The Rock Opera

I'm just a poor boy, bad at Wii Bowling

Cold blue eyes, calculating.

Red hair, brushed away from face.

Wiimote gripped like a weapon

And a consistent guise of grace

As she squints at her targets

Tiny 10-pins, arranged like

Helpless, tipsy victims

Thursday, 08 March 2012 12:33

It's Massively Effective!

Their world, our decisions

I am forever chunnering on about games needing to allow you to carve your own story into the history of a particular universe. Static, fixed storylines tend to drive me insane, not because they're not well-written or paced particularly well, but because I'm a recovering narcissist, and I still feel that everything in the digital space should revolve around me and what I'm doing in that specific place. Maybe it's all of the choose-your-own-adventure books that I read as a kid, but I strongly feel that one of the new standards that should be included in any story-driven game is the ability to make decisions that carry some sort of weight in the universe you're exploring.

So in the middle of this creative tantrum that dictates my demands to the gaming industry as a whole, I realized that these games already exist, and I just happen to be playing through them again as the third game approaches with incredible haste.

The series? Mass Effect. The game? The second Mass Effect. Unnecessary buildup to an unremarkable subject? Complete.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012 16:05

Allegorically Speaking

A legend from the dawn of the decade

Cobbled together from legends and stories that former Peons have told, this is the tale of but one serfdom in the kingdom of Obnoxious Game Place.

Once upon a time, there was a happy serfdom in the kingdom of Obnoxious Game Place. With high taxes and an oppressive army that stood watch over their vassals, it was rare to see such a happy little village in the Game Place domain. Through hard work and dedication, they carved out a life for themselves in the harsh political climate. While the serfs didn't have much to call their own, they had each other, and they supported each other the best they could to do the best they could in spite of their harsh conditions.

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