Flashback Friday: Pokemon Crystal

Double Jump Kris MiiThe first month of the year is almost over! How are you all doing with your resolutions? Keeping up with them, or were they more of a week-long thing?

I’m hoping to keep up more with gaming news, perhaps venturing out further with more online games to try to reach out to more players and friends. Still, there’s something to be said about the older games, such as Pokemon Crystal.

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Hey, Pokemon Crystal was released on the 3DS Virtual Console today!

While I started playing Pokemon from the first generation games, it was the second generation where I really started to comprehend the story, the game mechanics, and the characters. I started understanding the types strengths and weaknesses and actually strategizing the battles rather than just tossing my over-leveled Pikachu at everyone, which had been my go-to plan in Pokemon Yellow.

Pokemon Crystal originally came out in North American in July 2001, and it received good reviews, even if the reviews were lower than what Gold and Silver had received. The most criticism Crystal had gained was how it was too similar to Gold and Silver, with critics claiming there weren’t any notably new aspects to the game to make it a “must buy.”

Crystal did, however, update plenty of aesthetic changes, such as updated graphics, animating Pokemon sprites at the beginning of battles, and the ability to play as a girl. The story line surrounding Suicune was more involved as well, along with other changes to the wild Pokemon that are available for the protagonist to catch.

I’m very excited to be going back to Johto with the Crystal version. It’s the Pokemon game that I have the most fond memories of, and it’ll be interesting to dive back into the old-school Pokemon games!

Have you ever played Pokemon Crystal? Are you downloading the Virtual Console version?

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Flashback Friday: Nintendo Cereal

Double Jump Kris MiiWe’re doing things a little differently for this month’s Flashback Friday. In honor of the Super Mario cereal, I did a bit of research on some older cereal that had been made in honor of Nintendo and their work.

I wasn’t disappointed at what I found!

Did you know that there’s a Cereal Graveyard Wiki?

Aside from being fascinated by the dedication some people have to discontinued cereals, I found it interesting how there have been other Nintendo-branded cereals to grace supermarket shelves before the Super Mario cereal (not that the Super Mario cereal is being sold near us — darn it, Kellog’s, where’s our marshmallow one-ups and hidden blocks?).

donkykongThe first cereal I had found was simply called Donkey Kong. There really isn’t much information on it, other than the cereal pieces were barrel-shaped to correspond with the original Donkey Kong arcade game. This particular cereal was introduced in 1982, after Donkey Kong became more popular than Pac-Man (which, in turn, led to Pac-Man cereal in 1983), and was discontinued in 1989.

During the Donkey Kong cereal’s lifetime, there was another cereal called the Nintendo Cereal System. It had two cereals in the one box, one that represented the Super Mario series and the other representing the Legend of Zelda franchise. The cereal lasted from only from 1986 to 1989.

These cereal boxes have since become memorabilia for collectors, with them being sold on eBay for a couple of hundred dollars each. In 2010, the Nintendo Cereal System box was sold for $200!

Pretty sure my favorite thing about finding out these cereals were some of the commercials that I found for them on YouTube. Below is the commercial for Donkey Kong Jr. Cereal that came out in 1983:

Anyone remember these cereals? Any other Nintendo or video game related snacks that you remember?

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Flashback Friday – Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean

Double Jump Kris MiiI hope everyone who celebrates it had a wonderful Thanksgiving! And if you don’t celebrate it… Well, I hope you had a fantastic meal and good times with family nonetheless! Today’s Flashback Friday is for a GameCube game that I really don’t hear many people talk about, Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean.

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Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean was released in 2003 for the Nintendo GameCube, and is a role-playing puzzle game. It starred a world made up of islands in the sky thanks to an evil, malicious god sucking the oceans dry before he was sealed away. In time, the people of the world grew wings, and it is a one-winged, cranky young man named Kalas that becomes the protagonist of the story. The game also features a Guardian Spirit character who is, essentially, the player — there are times when Kalas speaks to the Guardian Spirit to make decisions and, if the Spirit has a good relationship with Kalas, the Spirit can help strengthen Kalas’s attacks. The game itself received mostly positive reviews, and had a bit of a cult following when it first came out.

The battle system consists of using cards called magnus. The cards house a variety of attacks catered to the characters, as well as having uses outside of battle to heal the party or interact with NPCs to complete quests. The deck of cards in battle is shuffled, creating random hands that the player must use for each character in order to win the fights. It was quite the challenge to create a strategy with a random set of cards!

The story itself is a giant adventure. Kalas has one natural wing and one mechanical wing, making him a rather selfish protagonist who feels sorry for himself. With a couple of companions, he accidentally releases one of the End Magnus, the set of special cards that had sealed away the evil god. The End Magnus is stolen by a hostile kingdom that wishes to use the god’s power as their own, and Kalas and company are thrown into a journey to save the world.

We bought this game purely for the aesthetics. While we never completed the game’s story, it was always one that I enjoyed because of the gorgeous graphics. The battle system was a little odd to get used to, but the music and imagery kept me enraptured while I played. In 2006, a prequel simply titled Baten Kaitos Origins was released, and I believe we made even less progress in that game. Perhaps its time to dust off the old GameCube and give these games another whirl…

Have you ever played Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean?

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Flashback Friday: Five Nights at Freddy’s

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy almost Halloween! My favorite aspect of this holiday is the chocolate. I wouldn’t mind dressing up either, but store-bought costumes are too much money (and usually for not enough fabric for my demographic) nowadays. I’d much rather spend my cash on video games!

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Although not as old as most of my Flashback Fridays, I figured this was a good time as any to showcase the indie game Five Night at Freddy’s, created by Scott Cawthon.

This game first came out merely three years ago via Steam in August 2014. The series is in the Guinness Book of Records: Gamer’s Edition for having the most sequels released in a year, with games following the original title in November 2014, March 2015, July 2015, and October 2016. It has gained a large fan base since it was released, with its popularity rising due to frequently viewed Let’s Play videos of the game on YouTube. Cawthon also has a multi-book deal with Scholastic based on his games, with novels set to be published this year and next.

The original game involves the night guardsman of the fictional Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza doing his best to get through his shift from midnight to 6 am without being killed by the animatronics. Seriously. The animatronics are “free-roaming” at night to prevent the springs and gears from locking up, yet there is the rumor that they are possessed by the spirits of children that had been murdered on the restaurant’s site. If they catch the guardsman, they stuff him in a spare animatronic costume. The game consists of surviving in your office while keeping an eye on the animatronics, with a few tools and doors to aid you. You have a limited power supply and, if you deplete it, the automated doors cannot close, allowing the animatronics to capture you.

I have never played these games, nor am I inclined to, haha! Horror and suspense games were never my forte, and getting jump-scared by creepy animatronics is not my idea of fun. However, the few Let’s Play videos I’ve seen have been hilarious with the players’ reactions!

Have you ever played Five Nights at Freddy’s?

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Flashback Friday: Final Fantasy VII

Double Jump Kris MiiOne of the most acclaimed RPG series, Final Fantasy has amassed fifteen main games in thirty years. This Friday we’re talking about arguably one of the most popular in that series, Final Fantasy VII.

 

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Final Fantasy VII was released in 1997, at the end of January in Japan and at the beginning of September for North America. Europe did not see the game until November, marking it as the first Final Fantasy game to be released in that continent. Developed by Square (as Square Enix was known back then), development began in 1994 for the SNES, but was later moved to the PlayStation due to technical limitations on the SNES.

A fantasy and sci-fi RPG, Final Fantasy VII starred the character Cloud and his allies as they protected their world against the superhuman Sephiroth and a megacorporation that wished to use the planet’s life essence as an energy source. Final Fantasy VII has since received widespread commercial success, with the development staff being about 100 members and a budget of over $80 million to ensure the game’s success. It has been acclaimed as one of the greatest video games of all time, being released and remade quite a few times, for Steam, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.

I remember ages ago when I borrowed this game from my uncle. (In fact, it’s still on our video game shelves… apparently I never returned it. Oops.) I never finished it, and I believe it’s due to a classmate spoiling a major plot point for me. I remember her mentioning not to bother leveling up a certain character since said character ends of dead.

I do, however, aim to play it again when I can. If I can dig my old PlayStation out and make that work, perhaps I’ll finish the game up on that old console. If not, perhaps I’ll splurge and buy it for Steam!

 

Have you ever played Final Fantasy VII, or any of the Final Fantasy games? What are your favorites?

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Flashback Friday: Pokemon Ranch

Double Jump Kris MiiTo start to close out Pokemon Month, this month’s Flashback Friday is celebrating a non-traditional Pokemon game — Pokemon Ranch!

My Pokemon Ranch

 

Pokemon Ranch was a WiiWare game developed by the Ambrella and was released for the download service in 2008. The game was compatable with the Diamond and Pearl versions of the core Pokemon game series, with Japan’s Pokemon Ranch software getting an update to allow players to connect their Platinum versions as well. Pokemon Ranch received mostly negative reviews, with many citing the missed potential of the idea, but most tended to agree that it was suitable for young Pokemon fans just starting to get into the franchise.

Pokemon Ranch had a simple premise to it, acting as a live storage box. The game’s setting was a ranch run by the NPC Hayley, who was a friend of Bebe, the developer of the Pokemon Storage System in the fourth generation games. Pokemon Ranch allowed players to import their Pokemon from their games into the ranch setting and watch them meander about, interacting with one another, and occasionally grouping up for little activities, such as Pokemon of the same type dancing around a campfire or Pokemon that knew the Sing attack chirping out a little tune.

The game itself wasn’t much of a game as it was a screensaver. It gave players extra space for their fourth generation Pokemon, but other than watching the Pokemon and the Mii characters wander around, there isn’t much for the player to do. Hayley does give the player goals in terms of expanding the ranch when a certain number of Pokemon are reached, and she checks the game’s Pokedex once in a while to urge the player to find Pokemon that have yet to be caught. Other rancher NPCs pop up occasionally and take the player over to their themed ranch to look around at their Pokemon, but that’s basically all there is to the game.

It is quite relaxing, and a bit cute, to see the little chibi versions of the Pokemon running around with one another and the Mii characters. We tended to have Pokemon Ranch playing in the background while we worked, creating a calming atmosphere. While it is definitely outdated at this point, it would be interesting to see if there was ever a fully version of the game put out someday. Perhaps a version that utilized the Pokemon Amie, Refresh, and Poke Pelago features from the sixth and seventh generations?

Have you ever played Pokemon Ranch? What did you think of it?

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Flashback Friday: Yoshi’s Story

Double Jump Kris MiiYoshi is one of the most adorable characters in the Super Mario franchise, and with good reason. Ever since Yoshi’s first appearance in Super Mario World in 1990, the character has appeared in nearly 60 games!

This month’s Flashback Friday post is dedicated to one of those games, Yoshi’s Story.

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Yoshi’s Story was released for the Nintendo 64 in December 1997 in Japan and March 1998 in North America. A side-scroller platform, the game was released on the Wii’s Virtual Console ten years later and the Wii U’s virtual console almost ten years after that. Yoshi’s Story is actually the last main platform game starring the titular character until Yoshi’s Woolly World for the Wii U in 2015.

While it’s considered almost a sequel to the SNES’s Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, Yoshi’s Story is more puzzle-orientated with a cuter style in both graphics and music. It’s levels appear as a pop-up storybook, images resembling materials that one would use to make a scrapbook, such as fabric, cardboard, and paper.

The game had two modes, Story and Trial. Trial Mode enabled players to pick a course to go through as often as they wanted, but they were not unlocked until the player beat the course in Story Mode. Getting a high score was the main objective of each level, with the level ending when the Yoshi ate 30 pieces of fruit to complete the border around the screen. Considering the story of the game involved the Yoshis journeying across their island in search of Baby Bowser, who stole the Super Happy Tree. By eating the fruit, the Yoshis can stave off gloominess while trying to save their island.

Before each level loaded, a Lucky Fruit was chosen at random, which earns more points than any of the other fruit. Players could also get bonus points for eating the favorite fruit of whichever color Yoshi they happened to pick or for eating the same piece of fruit multiple times in a row. Players can go through each level as quickly as possible by eating every fruit they come across, but they can unlock secrets of the courses by biding their time and exploring every nook and cranny of the level.

Yoshi’s story got mixed to positive reviews, averaging only about 60% to 70% by most critics. It was, however, the second most downloaded title on the Wii U’s virtual console during the week of its release. With that said, the virtual console version received similar, if not worse, reviews than its Nintendo 64 counterpart.

I remember this game from ages ago. Rachel and I never owned it ourselves, but instead borrowed it from time to time from our aunt. We didn’t do too much in the Story Mode, being young enough to find it rather confusing, and amused ourselves with picking and choosing courses in the Trial Mode. We were always fans of Yoshi and had lots of fun with the game, its art style, and especially the music.

And, don’t lie, you all got the theme song stuck in your heads as much as we did:

Have you ever played Yoshi’s Story? What did you think of it?

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