Are Improved Graphics Killing Our Imaginations?

As the title suggests, I’ve found myself wondering the past two console generations if the constant improvement in video games is spoiling us. When 3D graphics first came on the scene, everybody was amazed at what they looked like. Suddenly everything was so realistic looking. I remember playing Super Mario 64 for the first time and just being wowed. Every game I played on Nintendo 64 and Playstation seemed to get more real looking with each one. But now when you look back on these games, they are eye sores. I literally have to strain my eyes to make any sense of the blobs of color that are the graphics in that generation.Image result for ocarina of time n64

This is interesting, because I am one of those people who hardly notice any real difference in graphics, no matter how big the jump. I remember when I got a Gamecube, I did not even notice the extremely vast graphical improvement until I went back and played N64 again. Then I was like, “Dear god, these games look horrible!”

More recently, I have gone back to playing Super Smash Bros. Brawl after playing the fourth one on Wii U ever since it came out. I had always thought that Brawl looked amazing, but now it looks terrible. The lack of HD doesn’t help either. What I once thought were beautifully refined images are now just a bunch of polygons with blurry edges.

I just can’t seem to wrap my head around the fact that what we once thought were magnificent, flawless graphics can turn into poorly rendered blotches that you can barely make out. It seriously is blowing my mind right now.

Image result for fina lfantasy 8The biggest game that comes to mind as I think about this strange dilemma is Final Fantasty VIII. I remember playing this, thinking everything looked amazing and wonderful. The people looked so real as well as the environments you traveled upon. While the game looked amazing for it’s time, it just

Image result for leon kingdom hearts
Squall or “Leon” from Kingdom Hearts…looked great then, looks crappy now.

looks a fright now. Every perfect little detail can barely be made out now, if it all. Later renditions of Squall in future games such as Kingdom Hearts have made him out to look more or less the same so that I didn’t even notice the change. But when I saw him again in FF8, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It is even more apparent in the older Final Fantasy VII, where everything that looked so nice now is just a bunch of pyramid like polygons stuck together.

 

 

 

 

 

Similar things can be said for every Resident Evil game as well.

It seems the further we advance in technology, the further we leave our imaginative capabilities behind. We do not need to use our minds as much to develop a good looking picture in our heads, because it is right there on the screen. At long last though, it seems like graphics are hitting sort of a stand still. The jump from PS3 to PS4 for example, was quite minimal compared to the leaps and bounds graphics took between all the other console generations. Now it seems that we are just being spoiled with HD and 4K and frame rate, focusing more on refinement and stabilization than gigantic leaps in looks. Maybe this will give our imaginations a chance to catch up.

We obviously think everything looks great because at the time, N64 or Playstation were the best things visuals could offer us, we had not been trained in real power and graphics. We didn’t know better. But something feels dangerous about the way everything we thought looked great really is just a pile of crap. It’s almost like a new system is like a beautiful girl, with plenty of makeup to make her look absolutely stunning. You obsess over her beauty for a few years and then you see her without makeup, what she really looks like, and you’re like “How in the world did I ever find her attractive?”Image result for comparison of women with makeup vs without

This applies not only to video games, but movies as well. I remember being blown away by the special effects in movies when they first came out, but if I go back and watch them now, it’s like “Oh my gosh, that looks so fake, how could they ever put this into a movie!?”

I don’t know, perhaps I am thinking about this too much…

 

Image result for evolution of mario

 

Series Ranked: Nintendo Consoles

With the release of Nintendo’s new console, codenamed “NX” slowly creeping closer and closer to its March release, we still have virtually no information about it at all. My guess is that they will finally unveil everything about it in September, giving a good six months for gamers to decide if they want to buy it or not.

Nintendo’s consoles have seen huge success and not so much success. But how well something sells doesn’t grade the quality of the console, so that is what makes this list fun to make. I judge the consoles strictly on the games present on each console, because after all, that is what a video game consoles prime purpose is, right? Playing video games? Though most people have sadly seemed to have forgotten that fact these days.

That’s right, graphics, innovation, all that will not affect the rank of these consoles, unless they somehow add to the gameplay of the games. Because again, we are playing games here.

They are listed from my least favorite, to my favorite.

#6 Nintendo Entertainment System (1983)

NES-Console-Set.jpg

While this is probably regarded as the most famous console of all time, responsible for turning around the practically dead video game industry, it has suffered due to the early age of gaming at this point. Though pretty much everything that wasn’t an arcade port was new and exciting, many of the games were just plain bad. And if that wasn’t annoying enough, most of them were outrageously hard and required you to play for hours and hours at a time if you ever wanted to beat one of them due to the fact that there were no save files for most of the games, Zelda being the first game to implement it; and only a few had passwords.

But among all the bad and terrible games were a few gems that still hold up today.

My top three games for the console are: The Legend Of Zelda, Super Mario Bros. 3, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.

The top two games especially blow any of the others on this console out of the water, and even many of today’s games as well. They are truly fantastic, especially for the time they came out. All three of these and many more are available on the Nintendo eShop if you have a Wii or Wii U.

#5 Nintendo 64 (1996)

n64

This was about as exciting as it got when this came out. Side-scrolling sprites made the jump to 3D polygons. Everyone can probably remember playing Super Mario 64 for the first time. But other than this huge jump in gaming technology, it was a rather awkward stage in gaming history. It’s competitors, the PlayStation and Dreamcast can also fit into this category. A lot of the games were very bad in this generation. Constant fighting with camera angles and bad controls plagued the systems, most likely due to the developers inexperience at developing games in 3D. Not to mention the controller was just very strange and inefficient, though still comfortable. The graphics themselves looked amazing back then, but playing them now, other than a select few, they are just horrid blobs. This is a console I bought very few games on, but despite all the bad ones, like the NES, this too was home to some of the best games ever made.

My top three are: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Paper Mario, MarioKart 64

These three games were phenomenal when they came out, and my top 2 still are today. Zelda made the jump to 3D better than anyone would have ever imagined, easily the best 2D to 3D jump made by any franchise.

Paper Mario was a unique and interesting idea that was remarkable and an exciting new direction for the Mario series, thanks to 3D graphics.

I played Mariokart 64 nonstop when I was a youngster. Sadly, it has not aged very well at all.

All these games mentioned are also on eShop for Wii and Wii U.

#4 Wii (2006)

nintendo-wii.jpg

Motion controls. Something everyone was looking forward to all their lives. Everybody was excited for the Wii. Everyone remembers how exciting it was to play Wii Sports and Zelda: Twilight Princess with motion controls for the first time. It was a real exiting time and a big step forward in gaming history.

But unfortunately, human beings being the mindless lazy people that we are, motion controls proved to be too much effort to play a game with, and the underpowered graphics of the console failed to hold the attention of the people who need to look at something pretty and shiny. Eventually the motion controls were reduced to almost nothing more than a simple flick to do a thing or two in game, and a lot of third party games never even saw a release on the console due to how underpowered Wii was compared to PS3 and XB360. They also didn’t much feel like making the games with motion controls, finding it easier to just port from PS3 to 360 with all their huge similarities.

This hurt the Wii a lot. Everyone I knew owned a Wii, but I think I was the only one I knew who consistently played it. Sure, I had to buy a PS3 to get a lot of the games I was missing owning just a Wii, but the games that did come out, especially the exclusives, were phenomenal. The games that did motion control right were a lot of fun to play. Heck, even just flicking the remote to swing a sword or something was a lot of fun and more satisfying than pushing a button.

It’s a great console, but the lack of third party support brings this one way down on the list.

My top three games: Xenoblade Chronicles, Super Mario Galaxy, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption

These three are among the best of the many gems that appeared on the console and can also be found on the Wii U eShop.

#3 Wii U (2012)

I was never more excited for a console to come out than this one. When the gamepad controller was revealed, I was ecstatic. This took all the fun of the Wii’s unique controls and added another screen right in the players hands. I found myself imagining all the amazing ways this gamepad could be used in games. Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone else could, players or developers. Initial games like Nintendo Land and ZombiU used the gamepad exceptionally and delivered both single player and multiplayer experiences that you could possibly only find on Wii U, and it was a lot of fun. But all too quickly, the gamepad became nothing more than a mirror image of what was on your TV. Even Nintendo developers couldn’t come up with clever ways to use it for many of their games.And again the system was underpowered, so no one wanted it. It wasn’t shiny enough I guess.

And just like Wii, third parties dropped the console very quickly due to poor sales and the extra time to develop for the gamepad and overall difficulty of developing for the console in general. Except this time around it was much worse. Nearly every third party stopped making games for Wii U, leaving Nintendo to virtually support the console on their own. And I have to say, all things considered, they have done a fantastic job. Every game that has come out from them has been nothing short of a homerun, being some of the best games made in many, many years, and quite frankly, some of the best games ever.

Wii U had the potential to be the greatest console ever. Lack of third party support and use of the gamepad and underpowered hardware hurt this system badly, and every one learned from Wii not to invest their money into this.

I for one am extremely pleased with it, even if there is a severe lack of games for it, simply because the games are incredible that did make their way on it.

My top three: Super Mario 3D World, ZombiU, Wonderful 101, though there are so many Wii U games I have on back log that this could change any time.

#2 Super Nintendo Entertainment System (1991)

SNES-Mod1-Console-Set.jpg

This is a wonderful, wonderful system that I spent all of the 90’s playing, especially since I found it so much better than N64. This was when Nintendo dominated the video game market, getting basically every game developers made back then. Though unfortunately a lot of bad games and over the top, impossibly hard ones made their way onto it, just like its predecessor, it also played host to an incredible and unimaginable increase in game quality. In addition to tons of new and exciting games, we also saw additions to big franchises from the NES make its way over, blazing a trail of glory that continues to shine today. Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Mega Man, Final Fantasy and Castlevania came out with some of the best games ever made back then, all of which can still be considered such today. Many new series started on this console as well, such as Mega Man X and Star Fox. This system just had one great game after another, keeping me very busy in my youth.

My top three games are probably a lot of other peoples. Super Metroid, Super Mario World, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

These games I still play as often as I can for they are just eternally fun. Don’t just take my word for it. All three of these games can likely be found in most top 10 best games ever made lists, if not the top five.

And they of course can be found on Wii and Wii U eShop.

#1 Gamecube (2001)

gcn

And here we are, my absolute favorite Nintendo console, and favorite console of all time for that matter.

I love everything about the Gamecube. It’s strange, unique look and color, it’s neat little mini discs, heck even the name is awesome. It just says “yeah, I’m a cube that plays games, bitch!” It’s so cool.

The games themselves are what really make this console great however. For the first time, Nintendo did not release the system with a Mario title, but instead shook things up with a Luigi game, where he had to actually rescue Mario. The best part was, this wasn’t simply a Mario game where you played as Luigi, but a whole new concept more closely related to Ghostbusters rather than a Mario game.

And Luigi’s Mansion was not the only game to shake up classic Nintendo franchises. Super Mario Sunshine, Star Fox Adventures, Metroid Prime, Kirby: Air Ride, Donkey Konga/Jungle Beat-all examples of changing up the formula. Plus, we were treated to F-Zero, another Star Fox game, a sequel to Metroid Prime and Paper Mario, two Zelda games with completely contrasting graphics and both featuring innovative/unique elements that make both of them really stand out.

New titles such as Capcom’s Viewtiful Joe were introduced on the Gamecube, this game being one of my favorites of all time, which also got a sequel on the system.Nintendo also came out with a new franchise, the Pikmin series started out here, and that too got a sequel.

Other mind blowing events happened on Gamecube, such as Sonic being put on a Nintendo console! This was something no one ever thought would happen and we were treated to remakes of the Sonic Adventure games from Dreamcast, the second one being my favorite Sonic game ever.

Owners of this system were also treated to remakes and/or re-releases of the entireĀ  Resident Evil series. I still consider the Resident Evil remake to be one of the greatest remakes of all time, maybe only second to Metroid: Zero Mission for GBA. Gamecube even got Resident Evil 4 as an exclusive initially, before its popularity exploded.

And lets talk about all the collections that came out for the system. Going back to Sonic, we had the Sonic Mega Collection, taking all the genesis games and putting them on one disc, and also the Sonic Gems Collection, taking most of the not so great Sonic games and putting them on one disc.

The Mega Man Anniversary Collection was a great gift to gamers, which is much better than the current Mega Man Legacy, as well as the Mega Man X Collection. And don’t forget about the Zelda Collection! There’s probably a few more I can’t think of right now too!

The third party games that made it on the system were incredible as well. There were a ton more games to choose from than compared to Wii and Wii U, and most of them were super fun to play. It seemed gaming as a whole was so much better than compared to the previous generation of gaming, and Gamecube did it best out of the three competing consoles. And most of the games on Gamecube still look gorgeous today. It was truly a lasting console, though ironically, it had very low sales.

And speaking of a lasting console, it has the best controller ever made, absolutely comfortable and amazing. It is so good that it still is being made today for the Wii and Wii U, the latter having a port made for it so people can still play Smash Bros with it.

To me, any company will have a hard time topping this system. I still buy games for it every now and then 15 years later.

My top three games are Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, Metroid Prime, Viewtiful Joe.

All three of these games rank among my favorites, with Paper Mario actually being my number 1 game of all time.

I Played The First Four Levels Of Star Fox Zero…Here Are My Thoughts

 

Before I get into my feelings towards the game, I just want to say that I am not a huge fan of Star Fox. I mean, I like them, own and enjoy every game, but Star Fox is by far my least favorite franchise from Nintendo. The next thing you should know is that when they first revealed the control scheme of this game, I was mortified. I thought it was a ludicrous idea and it ruined the game. I was still going to buy it, but only because Nintendo and Platinum Games both impress the heck out of me with every thing they do. I even looked at a review or two, something I never pay attention to, to see what others thought. And not surprisingly, they were mostly negative, complaints about the voice acting, graphics and ESPECIALLY the controls being the most prominent.

So I did not actually buy Star Fox Zero, but my cousin did day one. Right away he called me and said he loved it. He only played one level, but swore it was the best in the series. So the next day he came over and I watched him play the first level, and right away I noticed it was neat to watch. Now know, I typically hate watching others play video games, but for some reason, the view on the screen made the whole thing seem like a cinematic, rather than someone playing a game. This made it interesting to watch. I also noticed that my cousin, playing the game for the second time only, had the controls mastered and was flying and shooting like a pro. For those who don’t know, the flying is done on the TV screen, where much of the shooting is on the gamepad in a first person cockpit view.

After he beat the level, he handed me the gamepad and I tried the second level out, not knowing any of the controls whatsoever other than moving the gamepad was how you aimed. In under 30 seconds I figured out all the controls and had them pretty well mastered. So right away all the nightmarish reviews confused me. The controls were so easy to pick up and get used to and on top of it, it utilized the gamepad! Something rare for the Wii U, unfortunately.

It was so much fun to fly around in a Star Fox game again, blasting away at everything. It played and looked and felt just like you would expect it to. Switching from looking at the TV and the gamepad was easy and made for a different experience for each view. I found that this new type of gameplay added a certain tactical element to the game. Did I want to look at the screen to better see oncoming threats and fly more precise, or did I want to sacrifice that for more accurate firing? I found this choice to really add to the depth and strategy of the game, which added to the fun and overall experience.

And I know a lot of people would say, “If they made the targeting on the TV, you could have both!” To answer this, I would simply say, true, but then you would have to focus on one or the other anyway, possibly resulting in an overwhelming and crowded experience. With the two different screens, again, it adds new depth and unique characteristics to the game. Plus looking at the gamepad made me actually feel like I was in control of the Arwing, fighting alongside Falco and the others. I almost wished this game had come out for the virtual reality systems to enhance that feeling even more.

Speaking of adding depth to the game, the new Walker mode allows your Arwing to transform into a walking robot thing of mass destruction. The ability to change into this at almost any time during the stage allows you to flip the gameplay on its head with the push of a button. It feels almost like you have entered into a different, yet incredibly similar game. The Walker allows you to access different areas, attack from different vantage points, and more! And again, looking between both screens is amazing and extremely fun.

I then played through the third level, actively switching between flight and Walker modes and had a blast, the controls completely comfortable and mastered by now.

After I beat this level, I played the first level, but this time I tapped my Fox amiibo on the gamepad. This turned all the Arwings into their SNES Star Fox polygonal glory and even changed the sound effects to their 16 bit awesomeness and even added a graphic for the charged laser, something that was not in the original game. Best of all was the original music from the first Corneria, one of my favorite video game songs ever, started playing thanks to the amiibo. Even the Walker was 16 bit, probably the original design of the canceled Star Fox 2 for SNES it was supposed to appear in. That was a ton of fun to play through like that. Having Walker mode unlocked this time, I was able to go through different paths during the level and even defeated the stage boss in a different way, resulting in a different ending cut scene.

Next, my cousin and I tried out co-op. I took the gamepad, which meant I could do nothing but shoot around, while he watched the TV, so he was in control of flying, but also had a laser he could fire straight ahead of him. We had a blast playing this. I loved the fact that I had no control of the ship, because all the movements were a surprise. I felt like I was on a roller coaster when all of a sudden he would barrel roll or somersault, getting a first person view of the maneuvers the Arwing was doing. Awesome fun. We got to fight Pigma of Star Wolf like this, my cousin flying around trying to keep up with the ship, and me blasting away at it. I felt like I was in the scene from Star Wars: A New Hope when they escape the Death Star, but get chased by TIE Fighters. My cousin was like Chewie, flying the Millennium Falcon, and I was Han or Luke in the gun turret thing, trying to blast away at them. Having a feeling like that is amazing, especially since I love Star Wars.

The next part of the mission introduced a new ship called the Gyro something or another. This was great, especially in co-op. My cousin flew around while I shot at things, then he could drop down this little robot thing that I took control of to hack into things. Lots of fun.

So that was my experience from Star Fox. I absolutely loved it, and it just may be my favorite in the series, though I will wait until I complete the whole game when I eventually buy it to make the official judgement, for playing it took all my doubts about purchasing it and incinerated them in an Arwing laser blast. I hope this encourages anyone else on the fence about buying it to give it a shot. It is well worth it.

I already said I am confused about why the controls are getting knocked by reviewers, but I imagine that it is because the developers took a risk and broke away from traditional controls, and change is something a lot of people are not receptive to. Change can be a bad thing sometimes, but in this case, it is incredible and delivers an experience you can only get on Wii U.

Though honestly, the game is almost completely playable if you wanted to just look at the TV screen anyway, or even if you just looked at the gamepad. So work on mastering that if you have issues with doing both at the same time.

As for graphics, is it the best looking game on Wii U? Absolutely not, but it’s still a great looking game, and the graphical style is everything you would expect from a Star Fox game, so again, I’m not sure what people are upset about.

And as for the voice acting…it is just like its always been since Star Fox 64. Again, this game is everything you would and should expect from a Star Fox game, just with a ton of new features and gameplay mechanics that make it a worthy title in series and well worth your time. Plus it comes with another game with it!

Images from computergames.ro

http://www.digitaltrends.com

http://www.ign.com