February 20, 2013
As is the case with most every game on the platform, Boxing for the Atari 2600 is a simplistic version of the real thing. Fortunately, it’s easy to pick up and play and well suited for multiplayer.
Viewed from a top-down perspective, the boxers appear to be two Geodudes in a pigpen in the eyes of Pokemon fan such as myself. The boxers are almost magnetically attracted when they near each other, locking gloves and making it difficult to get a punch in. Only through a side to side shuffle does the opportunity present itself to land a punch; hopefully prompting a long combo, but if the other boxer isn’t against the ropes, there’s slim chance that’ll happen.
The first boxer to score one hundred points is deemed the winner and this roughly translates to one hundred landed punches. When I’ve played it though, I noticed points increasing in value during a combo. Then again, my opponent has had me seeing birdies more than once too – only human counterparts though, the computer boxer is a chump. Without a human opponent, Boxing wears thin fast and I can’t imagine playing more of it without one.
Bob Whitehead designed Boxing, and a healthy list of other games for the Atari 2600 that I’ll discuss in the coming days. He was one of the four designers who cofounded Activision who originally published this game in 1980. Included alongside Boxing in Activision Anthology is a corporate commercial that highlights a few commercials interspersed with commentary from some of Activision’s designers.
January 6, 2012
I’ve been playing a lot of Pokemon HeartGold in my free time lately. One thing that I like about it is the user interface. Because it’s on the Nintendo DS it can take advantage of the system’s touch screen. Now you think it working fine would be a no-brainer. A menu heavy role-playing game on a system with a touch screen should work well, and HeartGold does. I guess my whole point in bringing this up is because of how little Game Freak utilized the touch screen in Pokemon Diamond/Pearl.
In that generation of Pokemon games the touch screen was used terribly outside of battles. The normal action took place entirely on the top screen while occupied on the bottom screen were twenty or so mostly useless doodads. The bottom screen was a Swiss Army knife of crap. Navigation of menus could sometimes be done through the bottom screen, but the icons were so small and positioned as to be nearly useless. On the other hand, the bottom screen was utilized well in battles.
In battle there were four options. Instead of the prompts being of equal size and therefore of equal importance, the battle option was very prominent. After selecting it, the next choices are what moves to use and these are evenly divided between a Pokemon’s four options; even when using an item or switching to another Pokemon in battle, the user interface is easy to use.
HeartGold makes no improvements of the user interface in battles but menus outside of battles are totally revamped. In HeartGold (and SoulSilver mind you) the menu is readily available on the bottom screen. Thanks to this improved accessibility, and the navigation that’s miles ahead of where it was in Diamond/Pearl, I play the game nearly exclusively with a stylus. I remember thinking to myself when I played Diamond that buttons were much faster thanks to the poor implementation, not so in HeartGold/SoulSilver.
I grew up on Pokemon games so I have a lot of love for the series, hence this article. Plus, I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately and thought I’d write about it. At this point HeartGold is two years old and it’s not even in the most current generation of Pokemon games any more, Pokemon Black/White take that honor. I haven’t played those yet (my thoughts on those two are a whole other article haha) so I wonder what kinds of improvements – if any – were made in those games.
March 28, 2010
New Pokemon games are out! Kind of; Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver released not too long ago and having played HeartGold a good deal, I feel experienced enough to talk about it. The games are remakes of Pokemon Gold and Silver, which happen to be my favorites in the series. I’d probably say Pokemon Red and Blue are the best since they laid the foundation, but Gold and Silver introduced a lot of things that I thought added to the formula and it was really my first chance to get sucked into the games as soon as everyone else.
You are given the choice of picking one of three Pokemon, which are creatures, like pets, that people fight with in the hopes of becoming the best and/or catching them all. Wait… if you’re reading this I’m going to assume that you know the basic story and mechanics of Pokemon games; these two areas haven’t evolved too much in the main games, and they’re still addictive. If you have tried a Pokemon game and it didn’t click with you, these games won’t convert you and if you’ve been waiting for the next hit, chances are you’ve already picked one of these up.
What I liked a lot about Gold and Silver were them bringing elements of the “real world” into the experience. They ran on a seven day schedule that allowed for special events on certain days and since it also had a 24 hour system, they could happen at specific times. Searching for Pokemon got a little trickier as the ones that seemed like a “night” Pokemon, would appear at night. I remember thinking about the games before they came out originally and was amazed that I’d have to stay up late to play them. Many elements that have been introduced since Gold and Silver have been adapted into HeartGold and SoulSilver like the online battling and online trading, as well as pretty much everything else. I’ve forgotten how the battling and trading worked out in Pokemon Diamond but so far I’ve found it to be halfway simple considering it’s a Nintendo game. I’ll finally be able to catch them all!
Unlike in Diamond, I find that I’m using the touch screen way more, in fact, I’m using it nearly exclusively. Most of the menus seem easier to use, though there are some exceptions like the PC system which I find is not quick to navigate. I love the pop-up book effect that the 3D in the game has but at this point I’m beginning to look less fondly on them not being totally 3D, or at least having the Pokemon be 3D. I could understand that they’d want to save that for the next set of games or, more likely, that having nearly five hundred Pokemon, and hundreds of moves animated and in 3D is too space consuming.
Easily the biggest addition is the Pokewalker. It’s essentially a pedometer that allows you to walk with a Pokemon to level it up and play two minigames that net you items and Pokemon. I’ve been using it ever since I got it and find it to be a fun diversion at work. You can also communicate with other players with it, but overall, it’s too simple to spend more than five or ten minutes with.
You already know if you interested in HeartGold and SoulSilver and I was on the fence since the games were announced but, deep down I knew I was going to get them simply because they’re new Pokemon games and thus far I’ve enjoyed all twenty plus hours I’ve sunk into HeartGold.
February 18, 2010
Before I dive into blogging I think an introductory post would be ideal, just so you, the reader, can get a handle on where I’m coming from when I talk about games. I thought this would be cool to do as a post rather than just stick it in the about section.
My first gaming experience was Christmas 1995. My parents bought me a Super Nintendo that came bundled with Killer Instinct. I was only six at the time and having never played a video game before, I just mashed buttons. I remember my mom being distressed about how bloody it was and wanting to sell it, even up until middle school; I also remember my uncle coming over and playing against me. I played a lot of games on the SNES and remember going to Blockbuster all the time and renting games, even searching years afterwards trying to buy the games I used to play. When I think of playing the SNES back then, these are the games I remember: Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest, Family Feud, Goof Troop, Killer Instinct, Kirby Super Star, Ms. Pac-Man, NBA HangTime, Space Invaders, Super Star Wars, Tetris 2 and Top Gear.
My next system was the Game Boy Pocket which I received for my birthday in 1996 of 1997. All I had for it was Black Bass Lure Fishing and I really loved the game, it probably fueled my interest in fishing. It was my only game… until Pokemon Red and Blue came out. They were all the rage at school; the games, the cards, the TV show; I had to get a copy. Around this time I also bought a Game Boy Color, which I think I bought them both in the same trip, so this must’ve been late 1998 or early 1999. Pokemon games were really the only video games I cared about at the time and it was really all I had a Game Boy for. All the Pokemon I played shaped my interest and love for RPGs and I am still a Pokemaniac, though not as much as I used to be. Of course when Gold and Silver came out I had to get one of those as well. Even now I only own seven Game Boy Color games and four of them are Pokemon games.
Moving onwards, my next system was a Nintendo 64. My parents got this for me during Christmas 1998 or 1999. I got Mario Kart 64 and Star Wars: Rogue Squadron with it as well. My sister and I played lots of Mario Kart 64 and I played lots of Rogue Squadron. During this time I still rented a lot of games from Blockbuster and I remember renting a few but I don’t remember them well. I remember my first experience with GoldenEye 007 at a cousin’s house and playing N64 games at another cousin’s house. I played soccer all the time at this point and that was my focus along with Pokemon games, but towards the end of the N64 I started to get more into games. The games I really remember playing during this period are: 1080 Snowboarding, GoldenEye 007, Mario Kart 64, Micro Machines 64 Turbo, Paper Mario, Pokemon Stadium and Star Wars: Rogue Squadron.
I’m going to say the next system I got was the GameCube. My parents got it for me for Christmas 2001 along with Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader. I loved Rogue Leader and was amazed by the graphics but didn’t know what a memory card was so I had to buy one a week or two later. The next game I got was Sonic Adventure 2: Battle and it’s one of my favorites on the system. Early on during this period was when I stopped renting games, I did rent a few for the GameCube but that was it. I also bought a Game Boy Advance in 2002 for Golden Sun and is just strengthened my burgeoning interest in video games. During this console cycle is when I became “hardcore” into games. I started reading gaming magazines often and browsing the internet. I’d have to say the GameCube is one of my favorite systems mostly because it’s the system I started to care about games on.
I won’t delve any deeper as this is already pretty long and it just gets more convoluted from here on out. I will mention I started to get into retro games around the GameCube era as I purchased an NES and Intellivision from garage sales as well as bought a PS2 and many other retro systems; this is really the period when I started to become a collector and an avid gamer.