Monthly Archives: September 2010


Ah, Donkey Kong CountryOnly for Nintendo. And they meant it.

I was, in fact, never a subscriber to Nintendo Power (sorry, Greg Noe!), but somehow still got access to a VHS tape called Donkey Kong Country: Exposed, which was a behind-the-scenes tour of Nintendo of America’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington, with bonus early game footage and tips from testers on how to access hidden bonus stages. Think I “borrowed” the tape from a friend’s house. Ahem. “Borrowed.” And it, much like the game itself, ended up parting with me some time during my switch from SNES to PlayStation 1. I have a strong feeling though that the VHS tape sold at a neighborhood yardsale for 50 cents. Oh yeah, made a profit.

Moving on, this plus about four other SNES titles more or less were my collection for the longest time. Money was tight, and if I didn’t get a game for Christmas, well…I was just a wee lad then that would water the grass or wash a neighbor’s car for pocket money. Was not rolling it, as they say. I relied a lot on renting games for a few days or borrowing them from a friend. Notice I said borrow and not “borrow”; no way I would’ve gotten away with something like that, not when a kid’s SNES or Sega Genesis was his or her only friend. Oh, and those other games consisted of Super Metroid, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Mario World, and–don’t laugh, kids–Jurassic Park. I’ll talk about Jurassic Park for the SNES one day, but I am just not ready yet; the scars have not healed.

It’s clear that Donkey Kong Country came to be from other platformers of that day and age, most namely Super Mario Bros. The plot is essentially the same. Instead of saving the princess, you need to save DK’s stolen banana loot. The game has you collecting bananas in levels for extra lives; you can die by falling down holes in the level or getting touched by enemies; and you use a world map to select where you want to go. Sure, sure, the game did some original things too, but it pays a lot of homage to its elders.

But Donkey Kong Country is a very memorable game, and I think fondly about it a lot. The music, the jumping, the level progression, the mine carts, and the shooting from barrel to barrel to moving barrel. There was a lot going on within, and it was very successful in pushing the SNES to its limits and then mocking rival 32-bit and CD-ROM based consoles with purported superior processing power. I think many will first remember the pre-rendered 3D graphics, which really helped bring the 2D side-scrolling platformer to life; the early jungle levels are full of green and treetops and towering hills while the snow levels are replete with blizzards and glistening ledges. This engine was also used on Rare’s other title Killer Instinct, still in my collection now.

By and far though, my favorite stages in Donkey Kong Country were any where you rode an animal. These included Rambi the Rhino, Expresso the Ostrich, Enguarde the Swordfish, Winky the Frog, and Squawks the Parrot, and all were tied to a specifically themed level. Yup, even as frustrating as the underwater levels were, once you got on that swordfish it was ::ahem:: clear swimming from there. Later games would introduce even more animals, and those also were worth looking forward to.

The only negatives I ever put on Donkey Kong Country‘s shoulders were its coin-based save system and boss battles. The boss battles all followed a very repetitive strategy and once you figured that out, it was hit ’em, hit ’em, an hit ’em dead. I ate everything else up with wide eyes and an open heart.

Tara and I combined our SNES collections back when we first started dating in 2008, and she had Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest, a pleasant surprise, as well as a decent filler for the time being. That said, I’m definitely interested in seeing how Donkey Kong Country Returns for the Wii plays out despite having a paper-flat title.

GAMES I REGRET PARTING WITH is a regular feature here at Grinding Down where I reminisce about videogames I either sold or traded in when I was young and dumb. To read up on other games I parted with, follow the tag.

Stop dreaming about the Inception videogame spin-off

…cause it might be happening. And that just really puts a damper on a great thing, an original and wonderful IP that is now on its way down the ; they can’t just let things be. Here’s what Inception filmmaker Christopher Nolan had to say about it all during a press conference celebrating the movie’s debut in Italy:

“We are looking at doing is developing a videogame based on the world of the film, which has all kinds of ideas that you can’t fit into a feature film. That’s something we’ve been talking about and are looking at doing long term, in a couple of years.”

Hmm. Sounds like to me that someone dove deep into his dreams and planted this idea there to grow slowly and carefully. ::ahem cough:: Cobb ::cough cough:: Right. Well, I don’t want this to happen, and here’s why: it works better as a movie than a videogame. Sure, you can see aspects here and there where it is obvious to do something videogame-like; for instance, the dreams within a dream within a dream all feature unique, starkingly different landscapes, and that’s what videogame developers excel at, creating a snow world and then a fire world and a lush jungle world. Heck, Ariadne’s job would be more or less Little Big Planet, which already exists, so go play that. Then the bulk of action feels like a third-person cover-based shooter, but it could also dabble in Metal Gear Solid stealth. See, there’s just too much to pull from, and no clear direction or idea as to how an Inception videogame should be created. The only glimmer of hope here is that it won’t be a rushed licensed game pushed down the factory line to get it out on time to coincide with the movie’s release date. Something good could be done, but it just doesn’t need to. The movie–and the world(s) within–was more than enough.

Besides, didn’t they already make an Inception videogame?


Being a Devil and True Mortal in Fallout 3 isn’t tricky at all

Well, I did it. I saw the chance, and I took it, and I think I’m somewhat okay with it despite the fact that the way I unlocked True Mortal was most definitely 100% evil. First, let’s ooh and ahh over these two Fallout 3 Achievements I pinged back to back last night:

Devil (20G): Reached Level 30 with Bad Karma

True Mortal (20G): Reached Level 30 with Neutral Karma

Mmm pretty. And here’s how I got them. I leveled my bad karma girl Samantha up to about 3/4s of Level 29 by tossing some Nuka Grenades at Super Mutant Overlords and watching them–from a safe distance–burn. Then she fast-traveled back to Tenpenny Tower wherein Sam rested until about 1:00 am. Using some Stealth Boys (I left my ninja invisibility suit in my room), Samantha crept towards those sleeping in their beds and proceeded to murder each and every one of ’em, snagging a meaty bonus thanks to the Mr. Sandman perk. Then, right before slitting Mr. Burke’s throat as he dreamed about big explosions and punching puppies, I saved my game. Then I had her slice, and bam, Level 30 achieved with bad karma. Reloaded my game to do it again, but this time, for my perk, I picked the one that re-sets your karma to neutral. And that was that. Rather easy, and I’m thankful to not have to grind from Level 20 to Level 30 on my third play of Fallout 3, as that is simpy the longest, hardest part to do.

Speaking of that, I need some help. I used a good karma beard dude named Pauly for my first playthrough in Fallout 3, and a bad karma redheaded woman named Samantha for my second playthrough. Not sure what direction I want to go in for my third. I do know, however, that I want to get Dogmeat as early as I can, as well as focus on either melee weapons or unarmed to get a different outlook on the gameplay. Here’s a male/female version of what I’d like to use stat-wise:


Name: Jimbob Jollywag or Babs or Tyrion
Race: ??? (African American, Asian, Caucasian, Hispanic)
Karma: Neutral
S.P.E.C.I.A.L. skills: Strength 7, Perception 5, Endurance 6, Charisma 5, Intelligence 6, Agility 5, Luck 6
Tag skills: Melee Weapons, Repair, Explosives

With this, I’d be focused on whacking people to death with batons and baseball bats, repairing my whacking sticks, and tossing grenades when things get too tough. I’m sure I’ll sneak a few pistol shots in, too, but I don’t want to go down the same small weapons path as before. Not sure what early perks I’d take though. Suggestions?

And I’m definitely open to suggestions for names and/or what a character should look like. Consider this the beginning of a Let’s Play that you’ll never see the rest of!

For help with this mockup as well as a good idea as to how this character would progress, I used the Fallout 3 Character Creator website.

That’s Fallout 3 karma for ya

As evil aligned Samantha creeps closer to Level 30 in Fallout 3, I’m contemplating cheating. Only, when you sit back and look at it, it’s really not cheating at all. In fact, Bethesda seems to be encouraging me to do this. This being saving my game just before leveling up, reloading, and then changing my karma from evil to neutral before I hit Level 30 to unlock an Achievement for both karma cutoffs. It’s that or I play the entire game for a third time, something that is not looking like fun for me as I’m currently, well, very busy. And going insane. Y’know how it is.

Anyways, there’s a couple of perks that automatically switch one’s karma level around so that I don’t have to go find a Wasteland bum I’ve not yet killed and give him a hundred bottles of purified water. Even though the game itself is providing me with ways to switch my karma status right before I level up, it still feels wrong. Part of me is screaming, “Cheater! Achievement whore!” And yet another is nudging me gently, as if to say, “You know, you’re getting married soon. And Fallout: New Vegas is almost here. Time really is of the essence. Do it, and then you’d only have to play through the game as a neutral karma dude until you hit Level 20. Do it. For all of us.”

Cheat, don’t cheat. It’s cheating. it’s not cheating. Ughhhh….

So yeah, I’m battling with myself. I really would love to have everything completed in Fallout 3 before I dive head-first into Fallout: New Vegas, as the completionist in me sees that it is possible, and so it must be done. I will say that I’m extremely thankful not to see karma-tied Achievements in the next game, but the ones for dealing X amount of damage with specific weapon types will be my new bane. If you don’t remember, I’m not a big fan of BIG GUNS. Yup. So, we’ll see how this goes. There’s also the possibility that I might just forget to even save at a convenient time and screw myself out of this opportunity.

Sly Cooper 4…

…where, oh where, art thou?

Please hurry up and come into existence. It’s been way too long since I’ve played a really fun, stealthy platformer. I know there’s a new HD/3D package getting worked up for the PlayStation 3, but that doesn’t cut it for me. I want a new adventure; I want to get the gang back together; I want to tip-toe across city roofs in a gorgeous, expansive open world à la Grand Theft Auto IV or The Saboteur. I know it can be done. Especially with the cel-shading. I’m just waiting, waiting, waiting, and I’d like to think I’m not the only one here. Let’s go, guys at Sucker Punch Productions. Don’t make me get The Murray to come over and rough y’all up…

More like The Clash at DEADhead, right?

With Tara’s help, Scott Pilgrim and Kim Pine took down The Clash at Demonhead in Scott Pilgrim VS. The World: The Game, a pretty tough level just for the amount of enemy goons it throws at you. I can’t believe I even tried going at it solo; only got as far as the one-against-two fight of Scott versus Envy Adams and that drummer with the robotic arm. Immediately after that, it’s an extremely tough fight as extreme vegan Todd Ingram tosses us around in a back alley like ragdolls. Not even the Vegan Police could stop him…though they tried.

We lost all our lives in this level, and we definitely landed the final blow as we were down to a tiny bit of health. That sort of felt frakkin’ fantastic, that did. The co-op in this game is actually quite great; you can reanimate fallen allies, you can perform co-op attacks, and you can even pick each other up Simpsons arcade style and use as a weapon. It’s bizarre and funny, but sometimes you might just need a Kim to throw, so there you go. Afterwards, we went shopping, and then tried to take on the next level, which was full of NINJAS. Needless to say, we got our butts whipped, but we’re jonesing to try again. Just gotta get Scott and Kim some awesome food to go.

I think Tara’s first experience so far with Scott Pilgrim VS. The World: The Game was good. She said she kept getting distracted by all the people in the background, but she learned many of Kim’s moves fast and got good at knowing how to attack and when to reanimate. I tried explaining to her the RPG elements here, but even I didn’t fully understand it. “Uh, you buy food, and that’s how you gain XP. But you don’t know what each food item does until after you buy it. And even then, it’s hard to tell what kind of difference it makes.” Yeah…something like that. She did remark that she loved how it both looked and felt like an old-school game.

Maybe we’ll play some more tonight? I hope so. Roxie needs to go DOWN!

Moving, the game of heavy boxes and staircases

No, this post is not about the PlayStation Move, but it is about moving. Cause that’s the reason I didn’t play any videogames yesterday. That’s right. Not a single one. Didn’t even end up busting out the Nintendo DS before the Sandman came to take me away. Oh wait…I did play the game of not having a heart attack after repeatedly climbing two sets of stairs with heavy boxes as Tara and I moved into our first apartment. I totally beat that game. Cause…I’m typing this post, see?

Anyways, we only brought over miscellaneous stuff at the moment. It’s going to be a piece-by-piece sort of move, as I still have my own studio and she’s still living at home with her folks until we get married. Which, amazingly, is happening one month from today. One…month. ONE MONTH. Trying not to freak out here. Deep breaths.

Want to see some more shots of our new, mostly empty pad? Check out Tara’s Flickr account then.

I’ll get back to videogame-related blathering soon, I promise. Visiting my folks for the weekend, which means packing up the Xbox 360. Tara hasn’t gotten to play Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game yet, and I now need help beating The Clash at Demonhead level. I’m even gonna be nice and let her play as Kim, as Scott’s move list has actually grown on me. I had to grind with him for a bit just to get past Lucas Lee on “Average Joe” difficulty. Tis a hard game. But if I can beat the no heart attack game, I can conquer this one for sure.