Saturday, June 15, 2013

After Life - Hirokazu Kore-eda, 1998

Shortly after dieing, the recently deceased are processed at a waystation before moving onto Heaven. They have three days to determine their happiest memory, which the station's staff will turn into a short film, and that will be the memory they live with for the rest of eternity.

Kore-eda's second film is a very intimate and personal look into life and how we view our happiest memories. The best moments of the film are watching the interviews conducted with the "dead: characters as they remember the happiest moments of their lives.

Some are actors vital to the films storyline, but the best are told by real people reliving actual experiences they had.

Each character has a genuine excitement in seeing their memory recreate on film as they each act as the director to create this one happy memory. A man flies through the clouds on a plane. An old woman remembers a pink dress her brother bought her. A salary man with what he believes is a meaningless life chooses one happy day when he rode the train all alone.

There is a bit of a central plot regarding two of the counselors, one of whom was killed during the war. One of the recently deceased ended up marrying his fiance. This subplot acts as a way to tie things together, but doesn't hold nearly the emotional punch of the film's main premise.

Kore-eda achieved a huge jump from Maboroshi to After Life. His pacing, characters, and direction improved greatly over the three year jump. His personal interviews and use of Ozu's head on viewpoint add a level of personality not found in many contemporary Japanese films.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Maboroshi no Hikari - Hirokazu Kore-eda, 1995

It's been a while since I've written about a film, so here we go.

Yumiko lives with her husband and baby in a poor but happy life below the train tracks in downtown Osaka. Haunted by her grandmother walking to Shikoku to die as a child, her sense of loss returns as her husbands is hit by a train while walking home. Several years later, she accepts an arranged marriage and moves up north to Wajima in Ishikawa, Prefecture with a new man and his daughter.

As Hirokazu Kore-eda's first feature length film, it is certainly not perfect, but there is a definite stylistic approach to Maboroshi that would turn up in his later films. No real plot, small bits of dialogue, and just focusing on everyday human life rather than the situation.

The film is all about loss and how it affects one woman's life. Her grandmother, her husband, her sense of loneliness in a new place. She seems to be coping on the surface and at times, she seems like she is happy with her new situation. However, Kore-eda's direction creates an ever present tension in the air that this new-found happiness will definitely not last until she comes clean with her feelings.

A local old woman vanishes into the sea to go fishing for crabs. A trip home teaches her more news about her husband's last day alive. A funeral procession she blindly follows to the ocean stirs emotions. Loss is something we must all cope with at one point or another, and Yumiko searches for ways to cope.

It's a brilliant director's debut, and given that Kore-eda is one of Japan's best living directors, everyone should give it a watch.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Prometheus - Ridley Scott, 2012

As was with Avatar. A huge Hollywood sci-fi movie made by a director who made an Alien movie, one I didn't have that much interest in and avoided all the hype and trailers at any cost, expectations were high, reviews were pretty good, but nothing special...and I loved it.

Prometheus definitely has a lot wrong with it. Lots of plot elements that don't serve much of a purpose, a few places where it drags too much, and some serious gaps in logic.

However, the grand scale of the film, everything fits into place. Ridley Scott has never made complete films, most of them lacking in some area, but one area nobody can ever criticize him for is his art direction. Prometheus has a technological aesthetic that rivals most of its big budget brethren, and the alien planet is simple. Nothing flashy or distracting, just wonderfully simple and effective, much like the original Alien movie.

Can't disregard the acting either. Fassbender is on his way to becoming a real superstar as well as a true craftsman of the profession, taking up these huge action movies and sticking to his artsy roots. Its amazing how he watches Lawrence of Arabia in the beginning because he emits the same presence as Peter O'Toole once did. The rest of the cast is great, especially the lead role Noomi Rapace and ship captain Idris Elba.

So yeah, great movie. Not for everyone maybe, but I got totally lost in it, and it kept me for most of the way though, already an accomplishment for a big Hollywood movie these days. Way better than Batman too

The Avengers - Joss Whedon, 2012

If you had told me last year that I would have enjoyed Joss Whedon's Avengers film more than the conclusion to Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, I would have called you insane. I mean, you can't really blame me. I was basing the prediction on a proven director and his two amazing Batman films placed against a handful of crappy shallow Marvel films directed by a director whom I'l always enjoyed merely in passing.

But here I stand corrected. Batman was a broken terrible film, while The Avengers works on just bout every level. It's a miracle they pulled this thing off as well, with so many characters, subplots, and Hollywood egos in the mix. just works.

The action is great. The pacing in great. What was especially effective was holding off on the real action, building the characters and their relationships, leaving you just craving the action. This goes especially well for the Hulk who just steals the movie. Mark Ruffalo is awesome as Bruce Banner, by far the best ever cast. Robert Downy Jr also bring back his charm to the Tony Stark role, and he also carried the film.The rest of the cast is nice two, but Iron Man and the Hulk are the main attractions here though.

Almost makes me scared to see a sequel. Hate to see them mess this good thing up. But they've got my confidence now at least.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Forgot a JRPG

I forgot the biggest RPG of next year, the huge collaboration between RPG gurus Level 5 and anime masterminds Studio Ghibli. Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch looks like the real deal, a tried and true developer bringing back a sense of heartfelt adventure long missing to the genre.

JRPGs these days tend to focus on beautiful people and their heavy emotional baggage, but Ni No Kuni reminds us of the wonderful adventures of our childhoods, pirates, jungle rivers, volcanic demons, a cursed beauty, a swashbuckling guide. It's the stuff of dreams nobody besides Ghibli and Level 5 really make anymore.

Ghbli doing the animation certainly helps. Level 5 has been blessed with both Akira Toriyama doing the artwork for Dragon Quest VIII and Ghibli doing this. It keeps their work from looking too generic like a Tales game. Not to say their own graphical style doesn't have its own charm, Dark Cloud 2 and Rogue Galaxy are both solid looking games.

Tapping Ghibli's adventure films doesn't especially hurt the games charm either. Ni No Kuni is the game to watch next year.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

In Defense of Two Widely Loathed RPGs

 I like to do a little free writing when it comes to nostalgia, so here it goes..

Imagine yourself at Grandma's house for the entire summer, a 13 hour drive from your home in Atlanta, Georgia. Not so bad if you had nice grandparents like myself, who let you do you own thing, and even better if they live in a nice area like the Lehigh Valley, one of he few places in Pennsylvania I can stand. Rolling hills scattering the horizon, open plains in between, quaint houses, and old-timey neighborhoods.

I often wondered why I thought of JRPG overworlds whenever I visited their place, but now that I live in Japan, there is a little resemblance between the Japanese landscape and the inner mountains of Pennsylvania.

Anyway, while at Grandma's house, I was allowed to bring along my Super Nintendo and Super Mario World, Killer Instinct, X-Men Mutant Apocalypse, NCAA Basketball, and Link to the Past to keep me busy for five weeks. I bought all three earlier in the summer, finally making the jump to 16 bit. This was 1997 I think because my parents bought the Ford Explorer that year, and my cousin in nearby Binghamton, NY had just bought Star Fox 64.

Naturally, I already played through Super Mario World and Link to the Past earlier in the summer, so they didn't last long, and you can only play s much single player of a fighting game before it becomes too much. X-Men Mutant Apocalypse was a game I remember playing a lot, but that horrible mode-7 basketball game was the scorn of my collection.

My Grandmother owned a Sega Genesis, my only real experience with the console besides countless hours of Street Fighter II with a neighbor in Wyoming. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was fun, but I also remember Rocket Knight Adventures, which was blistering difficult and way too challenging for me at the time.

Time took its toll on my small library, and I needed a JRPG stat. I had already conquered a few of the big boys by then. Final Fantasy III, Super Mario RPG, and I think maybe I had dabbed in Final Fantasy II and Chrono Trigger by then as well. I don't especially remember. Lufia 2: Rise of the Sinistrals hadn't come out yet. My grandmother drove me to the local rental shop, converted from an old barn, and I scoured the shelves looking for an unfamiliar title.

What's this? Tecmo Secret of the Stars? Never heard of it. I never played Ninja Gaiden on the NES either, so I thought Tecmo was part of the title. Just on the box, I saw the words "A Fantasy" and "RPG," so naturally, I had to play it. We rented it, and I played the hell out of it.

This is a grueling game, but in my mind, it was just like every other adventure I had already been on. The difficulty didn't quite register with me. Leveling up two parties? No problem, I had five weeks left of my vacation, so there was no need to rush.

I reached the largest city in the game, and got stuck for the entire summer. I don't remember where I finally learned the way forward, but I spent the entire summer grinding to beat a boss that was actually impossible to beat. Once I had conquered him, the rest of the game was a breeze, and he hardest RPG on the SNES became my bitch.

I never actually played this game again after that summer, but I remember just absolutely loving it. I wasn't that acquainted with tired JRPG cliches at the time, and I had no idea it as just a crappy Dragon Quest clone. The game was so unpopular, that nobody else had rented it before, and my grandmother convinced the manage to sell it to us, and he did for a mere $20. I finally owned it...Tecmo Secret of the Stars.

The height of owning came when I brought it to my cousin's house for a weekend stay in Binghamton, and a friend of my cousin claimed he had played every RPG on the Super Nintendo. I busted out my newly acquired copy, and said "Have you played this?" leaving him stunned cold, and he said "Well, I've played every GOOD RPG." Nice...

Another cousin who often came to visit my grandparents enjoyed questioning the game's two party system. For those not in the know, Secret of the Stars features two parties, the main characters the Aqutallion and their support team the Kustera. The Aqutallion were simple orphans and chosen heroes of the world, starting from humble beginnings, but the Kustera were already established warriors, so they seemed much more impressive in battle at first.

I also remember bunny costumes for the men, and the head villain being named Homncruse, a little too close to Tom Cruise. Fanboys also conveniently forget, r just plain don't know, that this game allowed the combination of magic between character when crediting Chrono Trigger with inventing the idea.

She always asked why I was using that dumb, blonde haired little kid, when I had the red clad knight in the other party who did so uh more damage. She couldn't grasp that the kid was the main character, and the badass was just his back-up.

My library expansion didn't stop there that summer. We took a trip to the local mall, where I found another Final Fantasy game! Awesome! I loved Final Fantasy III, and I'm quite certain I had rented Final Fantasy II over a weekend at that point, so this other new game must be great!

Again, I had stumbled across the most loathed game in the series, Final Fantasy Mystic Quest, and again...I enjoyed the hell out of it. It's a weird thing looking back, but I had been tackling the most difficult and the easiest RPG on the system, too young to truly realize the difference.

I liked this game a lot. I liked the simple characters, the simple dungeon layout, that badass grappling hook Tristan got in the first dungeon. I think my brain subconsciously wanted something easy after getting its ass whooped by one too many golden wolves in Secret of the Stars.

Reuben was my favorite supporting character and Fireburg was my favorite town I think. Reuben had this awesome morning star which dealt out axe damage. I remember the game had crappy little wooden chests which held potions, but the big shiny chests always held some awesome treasure like a new sword or a new set of armor.

Again, without the context of why everyone hates this game, I just enjoyed it for what it was and through the eyes of a kid. I often wonder when people say they hate this game, do they REALLY hate the game or do they hate that its creation is basically just an insult from Japan dissing proud American video gamers. For those not in the known, Mystic Quest was created as an introductory RPG for the unskilled American gamers who just couldn't grasp the intricacies of Japan's most popular genre. It's basically a huge middle finger from Japan to America in the same vein of us getting the American Super Mario Bros. 2 and Japan holding back the real thing, a decision most would retrospectively agree was the right choice.

These two often crack the lists of the worst RPGs on the system. I haven't played through them since that vacation, but the rosy tinted glasses of nostalgia lead me to believe otherwise. Secret of the Stars had a kid who was morphed into a lion, and a villain named Cat Boo who took up base in a volcanic caldera with his scientist buddy. Mystic Quest had a huge tower in the middle and a weird floating man on a couch and kick ass music.

I still kinda cherish the memory of that summer and the thoughts of those two games, and I often think of that house for a lot of JRPGs I would eventually play there on summer vacations and weekend trips after moving back to Delaware. Saga Frontier was the biggest game I tied to the memory of Grandma's house, and surprisingly, that's another widely loathed game I love.

I never beat Secret of the Stars, getting to the final boss and quitting because it was so hard. I beat Mystic Quest that summer though, and continued my grind in Secret of the Stars before finally stumbling across a FAQ that told me where the bomb salesman was hidden in the big city. I need to go back and finish that, but I'm afraid playing either of them now will undoubtedly sully my memories.

Gameboy 20th Anniversary Retrospective

2012 Update: Here is the only post I saved from my old 10 Yen Short blog deleted a few years ago. It's a rambling free-writing session of my life when I got my first Game Boy. It gets a little personal on how messed up my life was at the time living in Wyoming, but its not so terrible read and not too revealing of anything too dramatic.

I thought there was a reason I was starting to dig my Game Boy games again. Some subconscious bolt must have sprung loose and triggered my recent rebounding interest in Game Boy games because both the original Game Boy and the "Game Boy" label turned 20 years old on Tuesday, and it seems only I missed out on the news. That or Rhythm Tengoku has still got me grasped by the balls and is still refusing to let go. Either way, the three generations of "Game Boy" provided me with countless hours of entertainment, helping me survive long car rides along the East American Sea Board or cowering under the table of my middle school cafeteria making lunch time so much more interesting by whooping my buddy's Mewtwo with my own.

Allow me to ponder and flashback for a minute while I recall my life around the time I first received a Game Boy...

My first Game Boy was given to me back in 1993, although I don't remember if it had been a Christmas or a birthday gift that year. I'll say Christmas present to be safe. The previous year, I had received my NES as my parents knew I wouldn't survive being separated by an entire country from my grandmother's system which had been my only contact with video games before the age of seven. I was living in the wonderful town of Green River, Wyoming and apart from video games, nothing else in life seemed to matter all that much. I don't look back on those years so happily. Exciting family trips through the wondrous nature of Western America occurred several times a year, but in regards to daily life, walking through barren canyons and residing under the town's leering rock formations got old after a while, and most of the kids in my neighborhood were actually my school bullies. I sometimes hung out with them as like most bullies, they might be your best friend or your worst nightmare depending one the magnitude of the sun that day. But at the bad times, they would really scare the shit out of me by trying to run my sister over on their bikes or holding a cigarette lighter to my house while their older sister babysat me. Not nice people.

Bullies weren't the only issue on my street. The neighboring house also was home to two huge hunting dogs who would irregularly be out of their pen at times making the street unsafe. Their pen was closed in with a shed as a fourth wall, and the male dog often climbed on the roof of this shed. I often caught him staring at me as I could see him from the playground in my backyard. The roof of the shed was also covered in a small mountain of dog shit which wouldn't be cleaned for months at a time. These fierce beasts never attacked me, thank God, but they had attacked my dogs several times. On their last incident, they sprung from under a bush while my pug, Yoshi, innocently played with a friend of hers. They ripped a hole in her neck the size of a dime, and I remember her desperately struggling to get free from its grasp as my father repeatedly kicked the monster. After running to the vet, my dog had been spared, and my parents made the neighbors pay the bill and promised legal action as this had happened way to many times for their liking. I was tears for the entire day. Of course, I cried more when our neighbors pretty flatly told us it wouldn't happen again because after they had safely stored the dogs back in their pen, the father of the family shot them both along with their new born puppy.

The next day proved even worse as the son, who was in my grade, got every rough kid in the class to harass the hell out of me and blast me with the lie that dogs' death had been my fault. I vividly remember hiding around the corner of the wall leading to my classroom knowing what to expect. And boy did I receive it. I think that was one of several days I had been sent home because they made me cry so much and the teachers were unable to stop them. This was pre-Columbine, and nobody gave a shit about bullies back then. In fact, I think I had been told to "deal with it myself because I was in the fourth grade and should be able to" and had actually gotten in trouble on several occasions due to these moronic teachers actually believing these punks that I had started a conflict they had finished with a kick to the back or a twisted arm. These were the kind of people I lived near. Staying indoors playing video games was pretty much to only means of having fun...and staying safe.

Bless my parents for encouraging me to find other forms of entertainment or else my life would have been only video games. I think Wyoming was the only time in my childhood life where I found "learning" to be fun. I was encouraged to research and find out all I could about anything, and I was more than happy to do it. On one occasion, I had found a beautiful dead butterfly on the lawn of the local library, and my mother had taken me inside and we researched the hell out of that thing together for about a week before it began to smell. She also didn't really want me interacting with the local crazies I think. My school was a mere two minute walk from my house, so she was more than happy to let me come home for lunch and skip recess in exchange for watching Gumby.

I also joined the Cub Scouts in Wyoming, so there were new opportunities as well...although I remember one kid throwing me into a pile of folding chairs after I told him you don't salute the flag with your hat on. Baseball was also a huge part of my life with my team going undefeated one year, winning the town championship. We are supposed to join these activities to make friends, but I often saw many of these kids as just someone I hung out with at baseball or at cub scouts. Outside of their perspective activities, I never hung out with these kids, and that trend continues to today. Only recently have I been hanging outside of work with my coworkers.

Looking back, I also became a writer back around this time also (and haven't really improved since), winning the school "Young Author's" competition two years in a row, although both stories were horribly plagiarized from one of my favorite book series, Alestor Griddle (forgot the spelling). I wrote a book series about a young boy named Ichabod Dourfmeister, a young boy who meticulously planned many incredible adventures, but ended up planning so much that when he went through his grand scheme, he had missed his chance. I think Ichabod had planned to make a snowman only to have the snow melt, wanted to research a bear only to arrive at his zoo's bear cage during the bear's "showering" hour, and spent and entire summer vacation planning his summer vacation. Good stuff. They're probably around my house somewhere.

Anyway, I remember excitedly ripping off the wrapping paper and raising it triumphantly as I so long desired to own one of these electric bricks. I knew I was receiving it because it was also the only year in my childhood where I scavenged my house for the upcoming presents that year. I think it was out of revenge for finally learning there was no Santa.

Our family trips were fun, but while most other members of my family enjoyed the car ride together, I only enjoyed the destination. I've always hated long car rides. Let me also tell you, Wyoming has many beautiful tourist spots, but wherever the state is NOT beautiful, it is DAMN boring. Before owning my Game Boy, I passed long hours through the Rocky Mountains by studying the car atlas and memorizing all the state capitals and largest cities. To this day I can still recite them in a heartbeat. But now...I could play VIDEO GAMES in the car? What? Well, sign me up for the next ride to Yellowstone. I'm sold.

Along with my Game Boy also came The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. I remember 1993 as the year I got it because the game had just been released. I wasn't subscribing to Nintendo Power yet, but I owned the NES game and that was enough to get me excited for another game in the series. I hadn't played Link to the Past yet either, so Link's Awakening was the first Zelda game I had played outside of the NES classic. The sole other boy in the neighborhood who was kind enough to hang out with had also received a Game Boy and the same game for Christmas, and we often compared our progress with each other. We both got stuck on the boss of dungeon 2, not realizing you had to pick that asshole up and throw him. We finally both beat the game together, and had a blast in doing so. The game still holds up today. Fantastic video game.

My library of Game Boy games expanded pretty slowly. My second and third games were Ren and Stimpy: Veediots and The Pagemaster. I was pretty savvy when it came to games, knowing where the good stuff could be found on the NES, but not so much the Game Boy. My early games had been licensed titles. Although, I remember The Pagemaster being a decent platformer. I'll have to check it out if I ever stumble across my copy again. Between initially receiving my Game Boy and purchasing Pokemon (a five year period as Pokemon came out in 98), I don't think my Game Boy library ever broke ten. I received Super Mario Land 2, James Bond 007, a horrible Spider-Man game, Kid Icarus: Myths and Monsters, Alleyway, and Gargoyle's Quest plus or minus a forgotten one here and there. I never kept track of my Game Boy collection like I did my consoles. I remember all of these games fondly (besides Spider-Man), and actually have both Kid Icarus and Gargoyle's Quest sitting next to me as I write this.

I never played the NES Kid Icarus until discovering ROMs back in high school, so my only exposure to this obscure Nintendo hero had been his Game Boy game, and I actually think its a much better game than the NES version. As for Gargoyle's Quest, I have always been a fan of the Firebrand knock-off series and have made demands for years that Capcom include the flaming gargoyle more prominently in their line ups. Along with Link's Awakening, these were my favorite games as a kid for the Game Boy until Pokemon ruined my life. After Pokemon, my library expanded to pick up the well remembered retro games I had missed, but still remains relatively small at less than 20 games.

In 1993, I knew many of the large video games series. My life had mostly been Mario, Zelda, Mega Man, and Castlevania up until that point with several other odds and ends like Contra, Little Nemo, DuckTales, Bucky O'Hare, and Life Force. Another kid who I had an off-and-on friendship with owned a Genesis, so I also knew about Sonic, Streets of Rage, and another big fish for me at the time, Street Fighter II. We sank hours into that game while we were friends, and stared daggers at each other when we weren't. Around this time, I had finally begun to discover Nintendo's other properties. The eternally fantastic Kirby's Adventure hit the NES around this time, which my parents kindly bought for me, and I remember nothing disappointment when I had rented Kirby's Dreamland for the Game Boy. I need to check that one out again I think.

One of my mother's "Star Trek mom" buddies had a pair of nice twin girls who were friends with my sister. Her son was off at college or frequently on high school trips of something, but I remember him owning a Super Nintendo. My parents left my sister and I with them for a week while they went on vacation together, although now I realize they were looking for a new house to get me out of this state. With me staying in the son's room while he was off somewhere, I had full access to his Super Nintendo, and it was yet another week which drastically changed my life. I had played Link to the Past by this point, but only in passing as this was the only SNES I had exposure to, and I had to play it with the twins and my sister. I hated trading the controller just because I discovered a bottle.

Now, the SNES was in the room I was sleeping in, located in a remote corner of the house. I willfully stayed up past my bed time and played the hell out of it. I never did anything so dishonest in my life, but this was a Super Nintendo we were talking about here. I didn't beat it. Not only did I know it would take longer than a week (I was young at the time), but I had also discovered a small gem in his pile of games...a game called Super Metroid. The clouds parted and Jesus came down and christened me with the Ice Beam after that night. Super Metroid I DID beat while staying up past my bed time.

I had heard about Metroid from an advertisement, so I knew of its existence but never got around to playing it until that week. I also knew that a Game Boy game existed in the series, but I never payed it any mind before hand not knowing the magic of Metroid. I had asked for my parents to buy it for me after this week, but the request never materialized. I don't think it was easy to find at the time. It's not like we had a game store in Green River. I rented games from the front counter of out local grocery store. I must have rented Bucky O'Hare twenty times from that place. The only place to really buy games was Wal-Mart in the next town over. It's not like you could purchase these things on amazon either.

Speaking of PC's, I also did a lot of PC gaming at the time actually, but totally in the form of adventure games. SCUMM owned a large portion of my free time since they were easy and impossible to lose at, and I played King's Quest and Space Quest with my father as they were too difficult for me to play alone. I was also a huge fan of Kid Pix and The Print Shop. This was pre-MS paint.

All this remembering of the Game Boy is making me sad as Nintendo has finally pulled the plug on the brand name. With the new found success of the DS, any hopes of a new Game Boy had officially been tossed out the window the second this dual screen thing had soared across the sales charts. To rub even more salt into the wound, the latest model of the DS completely removed the Game Boy Advance slot, rendering your GBA collection useless if you exclusively own this thing. But hey! You get a camera and a downloadable service to rebuy the games you already own! Sorry...I'll stick with the Lite, thanks.

I love the hell out of my DS, but when put next to the legacy of the Game Boy, there just really isn't a contest...yet at least. Being fair, the Game Boy does have a 15 year advantage after all. Still, when cruising through my DS collection, I can only find two or three original games I will still be able to pull out many years from now and still enjoy. The World Ends With You for example.

However, the three Game Boys are loaded with titles spanning these entire 20 years which I'll be playing for the rest of my life...well, the original Game Boy and Game Boy Advance. Game Boy Color...not so much. With games starting at Super Mario Land all the way to The Minish Cap and Rhythm Tengoku, the Game Boy's library could probably sustain me throughout my entire life.

Not to make any mean spirited comparisons here either (actually, that is exactly what I intend to do), let's compare the Nintendo titles on the Game Boys and DS.

Mario...The Game Boy sports all four of the Super Mario Advance games, Super Mario Land 1 & 2, and a few other 2D Mario platformers like Donkey Kong 94. Not too shabby...damn fantastic actually. The DS has...New Super Mario Bros. Not a horrible game, but not exactly exciting either. Super Mario 64 is nice, but it's really hard to control with the stylus. The Game Boy Wario Land games are better than Master of Disguise also. Legend of Zelda...the Game Boy features Link to the Past, Link's Awakening, the Oracle games, and The Minish Cap. The DS...The Phantom Hourglass and the looming horror of Spirit Tracks. That's even WORSE than Mario. Metroid...the Game Boy is home to Metroid 2 Return of Samus, Metroid Fusion, and Metroid Zero Mission. The DS...Metroid Hunters and Metroid Pinball. Are we even serious here? I would make the argument that the original Pokemon games are still the strongest in its series, but that's just my love of the games speaking rather than common sense. It is possible to argue Pokemon might be better on the DS (in a more modern kind of way), but Nintendo's other series...heh...not even close.

I won't totally knock the DS. It has some nice third party games, but I don't see it nearly in the same league as the Game Boy.

How did I celebrate this week? Well, I've been playing Rhythm Tengoku of course. I also ran out and purchased a few old fashioned Game Boy games. I finally own Metroid II, and I also picked up Donkey Kong 94 since I've never owned my own copy (box and everything too...nice), and I snagged Mario Picross also, which is supposedly the secret best puzzle game ever.

Next week, I'll be traveling all over Japan, so naturally I'll need to bring along some portable games with me. When I went through my DS collection, nothing really struck my interest, but when going through my GBA games, I made a few choices. I haven't decided which yet, but my train time while I crisscross Japan will either be dedicated to playing ALL the classic series Metroid titles (aside from Super Metroid) since they can all now be played on a GBA SP now. Or, I might take another stab at Golden Sun, which I think has a pretty good chance at succeeding this time around. Should I beat this on the trip, I'll also try to knock out Wario Land 4 again.. Gonna be some good train times this vacation.

In conclusion, I slowly find myself realizing that I might end up as a dominantly portable gamer in the near future. The Game Boy was my first step in playing a game away from a television set, so I have it to thank for setting a preferable precedent. It's been a while since I've sat and really enjoyed a console game (well, only about a month actually) and most of my serious game time is done on trains or in the late hours of the night while I watch a film and fall asleep recently. Plopping myself in front of a TV for extended periods of time and hammering out 80 hour RPG's or blasting through the Locusts, the Covenant, or the Combine don't seem like viable future plans in the long run. I'm spoiled with my job now, but future career options certainly won't give me the time to endeavor these tasks forever. The looming idea of children and family within the lifetime of the next console generation also would put a huge time constraint on me as well. The fact that I believe our current generation of consoles is among the weakest I have lived through, and a horribly bleak 2009 line-up don't exactly make me excited about the future of console gaming either. So what's the solution?

Of course, I will always play video games, no matter what my situation in life may be. I will always keep up with the latest trends and games because that's just who I am. What I think will change is my priorities with games. What I play, how long I play, what I will REplay...all that will be thrown under the microscope. I know I will not sit and grind out games like I do nowadays. I'm already starting to lose sight of the fun or purpose from just hammering out titles one after another, beating them because I feel obligated too, not because I enjoy them. Game Boy titles are so much easier to toss aside than console titles if I find myself not having that much fun. This should be assumed without being said,but my Playstation 2 and Dreamcast will certainly will never leave my entertainment system. As for handhelds, with fantastic original and ever expanding libraries as well as all my NES, SNES and even PSX classics being ported, I could easily sustain myself for a long time with a GBA, a DS, and a PSP for a long long time. It doesn't seem as impossible once I sit back and look at 20 years of Game Boy games and a future of promising DS games.

PS: I HATE Tetris