The Binding of Isaac

     I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth was made available on the Nintendo E-shop. “Really?” I though. “A (mostly) family-friendly company like Nintendo is actually going to publicly align itself with THIS game? I mean, they do know it’s about a little boy who fights unspeakable horrors using his own tears after escaping to a basement when his mother tried to kill him because a voice from they sky told her to, right?”(I swear, there’s no way in Sheol I could make something like this up!)

     But I wasn’t about to let the chance to play it on my WiiU instead of the laptop I didn’t wanna play games on yet. One purchase and one download later and I was spending the rest of 2015 learning exactly why Rebirth had had such an impact on the Indie gaming scene and why all the big and respectfully-sized Youtubers were playing it on their channels. The Binding of Isaac − from the original all the way up to Afterbirth+ − is one of the most addictive games out there. Never the same thing twice, always keeping you on your toes in anticipation of what’s gonna present itself next, constantly toeing the line huge risks and huge rewards. It’s all so exhilarating and it’s what compels me to keep playing through nine whole fair-to-middling Isaac rounds with the hope that the tenth one will be awesome.

     I spent hours and hours with my WiiU, unlocking pretty much all the content that Rebirth after, including all the

-characters (except THE LOST)

-items (OK. Maybe not all of them . . .)

-bosses

-endings

I ultimately failed to unlock all the secrets and challenges though.

     And then Afterbirth, an all-new DLC expansion was released at the end of that same year that I hoped would make its way to my beloved console. But it never did. Which meant that if I ever wanted to play it (on Steam, obviously) I’d have to star ALLLL the way over. I WAS NOT cool with that at the time, so I decided to give Afterbirth a pass. Besides that, I felt that there was so much more to do in Rebirth

     Then 2017 rolled around and I began to notice something kinda lame: starting an Isaac round that could be considered decent  was becoming an increasingly rare occurrence. There were so. Many. Terrible. Rounds. And that’s when I stared playing Rebirth a whole lot less. Before long, starting all over again with Afterbirth was beginning to look more and more appealing. I soon found myself sitting in front of my laptop thinking, “So I have to buy Rebirth again to be able to play the new-ish DLC? Fine. And the struggle begins again. Oh well. Here we go . . .”

     Only, the struggle was nowhere near as real as it had been with Rebirth. Almost immediately I was unlocking content left and right. I had to work my thumbs off for everything I got in the previous version. Since I’ve been playing Afterbirth, I have already unlocked a decent amount of stuff and I haven’t even defeated Mom’s Heart enough times to unlock IT LIVES, Sheol, the Cathedral, the Hush, the Chest, etc.

     However, none of that means I’m free from crappy runs. It’s just something that comes with playing any sort of procedurally generated game. The fact that Afterbirth  has an extended pool of items that are often better than the ones in Rebirth can often lessen the blow. Most days. Sometimes, a round is just going to limp along from start to inevitable death.

Stealth Inc. 2: A Game of Clones

Released: Oct. 23,2014 (on Wii U); Apr. 7,2015 (everybody else)

Developer: Curve Studios

Publisher: Curve Digital

Platform(s): Wii U, Playstation 3/4/Vita, Xbox 360/One, Microsft Windows

Genre(s): Stealth, Puzzle platformer

     I was first introduced to this hidden jewel of a game a little over two years ago. I think it was the same weekend as NekoCon 2014. (I should have gone to that thing.) Anyway, I ended up purchasing then downloading this title as a distraction to cheer myself up and spent the entire weekend playing it. The mind stretching gameplay alone almost made me forget about not getting to play with the other anime/video game nerds.

     I got super far into Stealth Inc. 2 through many hours of wracking my brain and trial and error, as I recall. And many, MANY deaths. And then, for no particular reason in particular, I just stopped playing without completing it. Yeah, I never got to see its ending, or endings if it indeed has more than one. I did think about buckling down and seeing it all the way through over these past two years, but I soon found myself with so many other things to do and so many other games to play . . . and eventually review.

     That all changed a few weeks ago. I had just finished my Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon review so I had an empty spot in my gaming lineup and needed something to fill it. While I did consider finally giving other games in my digital collection a go, my thoughts repeatedly came back to completing Stealth Inc. 2, the humble little game that I had needlessly left in limbo for WAY too long. It was time to set things right.

     Before I could begin this review, there was something I needed to take care of: deleting my old save file so I could replay the game from the very beginning. It was the proper thing to do. Anyways, on with the−

*Story*

     Stealth Inc. 2 opens up with an image of hundreds of clones in test tubes within some sort of laboratory. This is where we first see Malcolm Alderman, award-winning scientist at PTI Industries(?) and our main antagonist for the evening. He was on top of the food chain until one of his colleagues by the name of Colin Rickman comes along and outclasses him. Our boy Malcolm isn’t about to take this lying down and sets out to “[restore] the natural order” of things which somehow involves the big-headed, small-bodied, goggle-eyed clones we saw in the opening.

     The first moments of gameplay have you take control of one out of maybe five or six of these little guys. From there, you are all sorted and separated until there’s only one of them left: you. And suddenly you’re off to the races puzzle-platforming your way through many obstacles, testing out PTI’s various products, and making your way around the facility. This is all while Dr. (Professor?) Alderman watches your progress with increasing concern.

     If I had to guess, I’d say that you were supposed to be slaughtered along with the others you started out with. You were never meant to make this far. And I think that’s way the good doctor flies into a rage-fueled panic when you suddenly find yourself face to face with him. “You’re just a clone!” he roars before sealing himself within a monitoring room. That’s exactly where you’ll find him for quite some time, all curled up on the floor like a little bi−−

     *Ahem* Moving on, it is here that you are presented with the main objectives in Stealth Inc. 2: pass every single test thrown at you while rescuing as many of your clone brethren as you can while making your way to the very heart of the PTI complex.

*Presentation*

     Stealth Inc. 2 is a 2-D side-scroller with very refined graphics, about what you would expect from an Indie game of this caliber. Everything just looks so smooth, clean, and well animated. What I find the most interesting about the visuals is the lighting effects. Light and how if affects things actually ties into the gameplay, reflected by the color of the lenses in your clone’s Super Spy Glasses.

     This game has a very fitting soundtrack. It has a sort of heist film meets Metroid Prime thing going on. The music here is quite atmospheric with little in the way of strong, iconic, or memorable melodies. However, it IS good thinking music that gets you in the right mood for some stealthy puzzle-platforming action. Which is fine by me. Not all video game music can be a classic like the main themes from Super Mario Bros. or The Legend of Zelda or be as cherished as Undertale’s entire musical score.

*Gameplay*

     Let me get something out of the way before I go on: if you play this game, you WILL die. A lot. And in horrible ways − getting crushed, eviscerated, blown to pieces, etc. This is why generous checkpoint systems exist. There are several elements that combine to create the more-complicated-than-it-initially-appears gameplay of Stealth:

     Stealth – You know, ‘cause it’s in the title. You are going to spend the majority of your time with this game sneaking past things without being detected.

     Puzzle platforming – This is the other big one. You are going to face many challenges throughout the PTI building that test your wits and reflexes as well as a handful of products developed by the company, but I’ll get to that in a minute. You must survive these tests to be given access to every area in the complex. Notice, I said ‘survive’ and not ‘pass with flying colors.’ And if you can rescue every last one of your fellow clones, more power to you. It’s just another facet of the many brutal deaths that await you. Just accept it: YOU. ARE GOING. TO DIE.

     Metroid-vania – Not as obvious as the other two, at least not until the second part of the game. Remember all that product testing you’ve been doing. Well, if you make it through every test thrown at you using one of these items, you eventually get to keep it. That’s right. You get to keep that item and use it outside of the testing areas which means having an easier time getting past all the hostile robots and around the PTI building. This also allows you to access new testing areas that, when completed, open up even more of the place for you to explore. Yay! Don’t be surprised if you keep getting this nagging feeling that you won’t like what you will ultimately find when everything is said and done. Maybe that’s just me though.

     Malcolm Alderman – Despite the fact you don’t see him in person all that often, he is still a significant presence during your quest. He tracks your every move from his impenetrable control room and can communicate with you via white text that can appear randomly on any given wall. And this is how he mercilessly trolls you throughout the first part of the game. The tone he takes with you shifts gradually from totally mean-spirited to trying to bargain and reason with you to honestly begging you to abandon your endeavors. Then, much later, good ol’ Malcolm tries to get you to give up again, only this time he starts talking about how an exceptional clone such as yourself will just be dissected in the end. What exactly is he getting at here? I don’t know, but something tells me that there’s more to this guy than what he’s been projecting all over the walls. I guess playing Stealth all the way through is the only way to find out for sure.

*Final Thoughts*

     When I decided to replay Stealth Inc. 2, I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I thought it was just going to be a fun, mind-bending, reflex-sharpening little stealth game with a bit of metroid-vania tossed in for good measure. And that’s what I got . . . at first. Then that dreaded second part of the game kicked off when your intrepid little clone throws himself down the literal rabbit hole (okay, ventilation shaft) to escape getting ambushed by an army of freshly made clo-bots. They are you’re average clones stuffed with robot parts from what I can tell. For some reason, I find this cruel. Anyway, our boy Malcolm created these things and sent them to take you out when everything else failed to do the job. He desperately wants to stop you from completing your quest. But I’m still getting this feeling that there’s more, just beneath the surface.

     As of the writing of this review, I have yet to finish this game. I’m still kinda metroid-vania-ing my way around the facility using my brand new Adventure Light to get to areas, test chambers, and stranded clones I couldn’t reach before. I’m also struggling to find the rest of the chambers in the lower portion of the complex. I have several questions about Alderman’s motives. I want to know what it is about this clone in particular that has him freaking out like that and why such a clone would be deemed a threat to the “natural order” of things. And I’m dying to know how all of this craziness ends.

     I have no freakin’ idea. However, I can make a few guesses. I predict that everything will come to a head in a final confrontation with Alderman. I also predict that the ending you receive will depend upon how many clones you were able to save. I don’t know about the rest. #nospoilers, please.

     At any rate, I had better pick up that WiI U gamepad and move my ass if I want to find out about all that while I’m still young.

Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon

Released: (in North America) March 24th, 2013

Developer(s): Next Level Games, Nintendo Software

Publisher: Nintendo

Platform: Nintendo 3DS

Genre(s): Action, Adventure

     I’ll admit that I didn’t pay much attention to this game when it came out. All that I knew about it was that it was a sequel to Luigi’s Mansion, which was a launch title for the Gamecube that I never got around to playing. I just wasn’t interested in Dark Moon at that time and I certainly wasn’t interested in paying $40 for it either. The game would not catch my eye again until the middle of September of this year when I saw that it was on sale as one of the *Nintendo Selects . . .um . . .selections. (*Note: this is when Nintendo takes their best/highest rated games and basically cuts the price in half.) Since I was browsing around the Nintendo eshop hoping to score a decent game for a good price, I went on ahead and bought it for $20. My only hope that was this game was on that list for a good reason.

*Story*

     Dark Moon opens up with a peaceful night in Evershade Valley with Professor E. Gadd tinkering in his lab while a couple oddly colored ghosts mess about nearby. We see a crescent shaped crystal hanging in the night sky. Everything seems fine until a giant boo wearing a crown adorned with I similarly colored crystal appears and shatters it. This somehow makes the ghosts in the lab flip out and attack the professor who makes a beeline for his bunker. From here, he gets in touch with Luigi, ghost-wrangler extraordinaire, and ‘pixelates’ him to his location because his specter hunting skills were indispensable in the last installment.

     So Luigi is sent right into action. His first task is to locate the Poltergust 5000 that the professor abandoned when the ghosts attacked. I honestly don’t think the game truly begins until Luigi actually finds the glorified vacuum cleaner in the garage of the Gloomy Manor. Under the hood of a car. Still wanna know how it go there.

*Presentation*

     The Nintendo 3DS is an amazing little machine. The graphical output for this game is simply spectacular with its smooth lines and vibrant colors. From the little of it that I have seen, Dark Moon definitely looks better than the original Luigi’s Mansion. Nothing here looks blocky or pixilated.

     Sound mixing in this game is also spectacular. Every drop of rain, clap of thunder, and even the sound of treasure being sucked into the Poltergust 5000 is music to the ears. There is a main theme that plays constantly and gets several different ‘remixes’ over the course of the adventure. It’s pretty catchy and fits perfectly well with the game’s atmosphere. Even Luigi himself hums along with it if you leave him idle long enough.

     That brings me to the best part of the presentation: our green-clad hero. He often mirrors the player’s own thoughts and feelings. Facial expressions, vocalizations, body language and posture − you always know exactly what’s on Luigi’s mind.

     You see, Dark Moon was released in 2013, The Year of Luigi. And it shows. It is apparent that so much love and care went into him for this game. His personality is fully seen. You can clearly see just how brave he truly is despite being a HUGE coward (and a bit of a nervous wreck) and that he has a heart of gold. Such a charming characterization won me over rather quickly. It’s funny, but I can’t really recall a time when Mario, Nintendo’s official mascot, was given this much of a personality.

*Gameplay*

     Let me get something out of the way right off the bat: I have NO idea how Dark Moon’s gameplay stacks up against its predecessor Luigi’s Mansion. Like I’ve said before, I never got to play that game and I probably never will . . .unless the rumors floating around about the Nintendo Switch turn out to be true. Anyway, there’s no need to have played the first game to appreciate and understand how Dark Moon works. From what I can tell it’s practically the same with a few tweaks here and there. And let me get something else out of the way while I’m at it: this IS NOT a Mario game.

     There is no high-speed, high-energy platforming to be found here. Since this game emphasizes exploration, puzzle solving, and catching those pesky ghosts it is an overall slower experience. Now let’s get into the meat and potatoes of how it all works.

     This installment of Luigi’s Mansion takes place in several key locations throughout Evershade Valley, with these areas themselves being divided up into different missions. The last one is always defeating a boss and recovering a shard of the Dark Moon Crystal to unlock the next set of missions in the next area.

     Searching every nook and cranny as you travel from location to location is a wise investment of your time. Treasure is everywhere. I’m talking about gold coins, gold bricks, gems, and straight-up stacks of cash. There’s even these golden bone thingies that you can’t find until after you’ve lined your pockets a bit and discovering exactly what these bones do is a pleasant surprise. (Hint: y’all remember that ghost dog from the previous game?)

     Along with all the looting, there is the matter of busting ghosts. They come in a bunch of different colors which let you know just what subspecies of ghost you’re dealing with. I found them all to be fleshed out pretty well with their own character, behavior, tactics, defenses, and weaknesses. Despite all that, every variety of ghost is taken down in almost the exact same manner: stun ‘em then suck ‘em up with the infamous Poltergust 5000 which has to be professor E. Gadd’s most iconic invention.

     Before I talk about that though, I must briefly talk about the boos. You know, the ghosts that used to chase after you if you turned your back to them. They are all over the place in Dark Moon and even sneakier than ever. They hide themselves by making certain objects invisible and can only be revealed by shining a special light on said objects. They can be extremely difficult to find. Early on in the game I decided that I wasn’t going to beat myself up if I couldn’t find them all.

     Now back to the Poltergust 5000. I don’t really know how it functioned in the original Luigi’s Mansion but I can tell you all about its features and how it gets the job done in Dark Moon.

  • Strobe Light – Momentarily stuns ghosts. Except for those sneaky boos.
  • DarkLight A sort of black light that reveals objects that have been hidden by those dang boos.
  • Bottomless (subspace) Bag – Pretty self explanatory. Never gets full no matter how many ghosts or how much treasure it sucks up.

*Final Thoughts*

     Dark Moon is definitely one of the many gems to be found on the Nintendo 3DS. Because I missed out the Gamecube original I didn’t quite know what to expect. But, man, was I pleasantly surprised with just how good this game turned out to be. Playing through it was a generally awesome experience. The whole thing is like a love letter to Luigi fans and a proper way to celebrate The Year of Luigi. However, there were a still a couple that I found frustrating:

  1. A few of the boss fights − I got my ass handed to me a number of times.
  2. Luigi’s lack of speed and agility − I get it. He’s wearing a big, heavy vacuum cleaner on his back. Taking on those ghosts would be a lot easier if I was able to jump. Or at least move faster.
  3. Finding those sneaky boos − This is WAY harder than it needs to be. You have to find one INVISIBLE object in every last large mission area. “Nuff said!

     Dark Moon is still an amazing game from beginning to end despite my few, minor grievances. In my opinion, a proper sequel should accomplish two things. First, it should foster feelings of appreciation with or without experiencing the original and then it stir up a curiosity about what its predecessor was like. Done and done. I now sincerely regret passing up on Luigi’s Mansion during the Gamecube’s life cycle. I traded that system in years ago and that game never got a digital re-release. (Man, this system really got the shaft when it came to digital marketplaces and such.)  I can’t even emulate is as things stand now because the software is hard to run for no damn reason.

     My only hope now is the Nvidia-powered Nintendo Switch. If the rumors I’ve heard about this new system are true, then maybe all the Gamecube titles that have been sitting in digital purgatory for the past decade will get a chance to shine again. Come on, Nintendo! This is your ONE shot at blowing Sony and Microsoft out of the water for a change!

Bead Pattern Obsession

     I had been searching for a way to combine my love of gaming with my love of jewelry making ever since I bought my first earring kit and 3-in-1 tool. But I wasn’t going to get anywhere close to having that dream come true until I buckled down and learned to work a beading needle. Learning the square stitch brought me nose to nose with it. However, I would still need to wrap my head around beading patterns. A bit of practice was in order.

     For my first attempt I used a pattern of a 1UP mushroom from the Mario games I saw on the Internet. I decided to try it out using the brick stitch method of off-loom bead weaving which was a complete fail. The result was almost unforgivably crooked and uneven and no one that I showed it to could even begin to guess at just what my creation was. It was a lesson learned: brick stitch + perler pattern = NO! Don’t do that!

     So I tried that same pattern again, but this time would use a totally different method: the square stitch. The result was MUCH better and instantly recognizable to everybody I showed it off to. This new and improved version was not without it flaws though. There were one or two cracked beads and a few more that were out of place. But I didn’t really care about that because I had just learned something pretty cool: that I can take any perler pattern that I want and, well, bead it. And that’s when the Great Pattern Hunt began.

     It turns out that the Internet is positively crawling with all sorts of beading patterns. They’re everywhere! Also turns out that those perler ones are the most prevalent. You can find patterns for just about anything you can think of. So what did I think of? Why anime and video games, of course! Sailor Moon, DBZ (Dragonball Z), Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Sonic the Hedgehog, Five Nights at Freddy’s, The Binding of Isaac, and many more. I soon had dozens of them, all organized into a whole “Beading Pattern” folder and I’m starting to think that I may have a problem. . .

     I started looking brick stitch patterns after getting my fill of the square stitch/perler ones. What I found were mostly peyote stitch patterns, but I found a way around that. All you have to do is turn them a certain way and they become brick stitch patterns. Er, most of the time. It doesn’t always work. This is going to save me an incredible amount of time and grief because now I kinda don’t have to specifically seek out those brick stitch patterns at every turn.

     Even though I have spent hours gathering and organizing these things and then converting them into beads, my obsession has not quite been satisfied. And so I joined Pintrest in hopes of finding all the patterns that didn’t show up during all those Google image searches. Pintrest has been more useful than I thought it was going to be. All I had to do was connect it to my Facebook account. The site even sends me emails with even more stuff to try my hand at. I honestly think that it is the beginning of beautiful things . . .to wear! And put on keychains for no reason in particular. Did I mention that I also found this really interesting pattern generator online? My (beading) life is now complete!

Bead Stitching

     About two years ago I spent a good chunk of change on some beading materials. I bought a seed bead tower, a bead loom, some beading needles, and two different kinds of beading thread/wire. I was so excited to learn the ancient art of bead weaving and was ready to create projects that were more ornate and complex than the simple, but pretty, stuff I had been making at that time. But then, I guess I got intimidated. I backed off from the whole idea and went back to doing what I knew and all that. All that stuff I bought (except for a few of those seed beads) sat unused indefinitely. . .

     . . . that was until the middle of July of this year. I was finishing the last few projects in the style I had been using and could not think of anything else to do with it. I was in desperate need of inspiration when suddenly thoughts returned to that literal tower of unused materials. Perhaps it was time I put them to good use. I wasn’t even going to worry about that bead loom this time, not until I learned to work a beading needle first. It was just what I needed to breathe some new life into my creations.

     I watched a whole bunch of bead stitching videos/tutorials on Youtube for a few days to mentally prepare myself for this venture. I needed to get at least somewhat familiar with the basics before picking up the needle myself. During those few days I studied peyote and brick stitch and how to make daisy chains. And I managed to learn all three. However, I attempted the brick stitch first. Then I tried the peyote stitch and the daisy chain, which, surprisingly, gave me the most grief. I figured it was because I’m left-handed. Whether anyone wants to acknowledge it or not, handedness DOES make a huge difference.

     I did eventually learn the daisy chain stitch despite my initial struggles. All I had to do was use a totally different method . . .which yielded the exact same results. Didn’t take me all that long to figure out that the first way of doing it I was exposed to and trying to use wasn’t exactly suited to Southpaws like me. Anyway, I daisy chained a cute ring after I mastered this technique.

     Then I figured I would give the spiral rope stitch a go. Even though pieces done in this style look really complicated, the stitch itself is WAY easier than all the other ones I had learned at this point. It’s very versatile and can be used to create earrings, bracelets, necklaces, whatever. Used it to make a matching set for myself plus a few other bracelets. They turned out to be really nice . . .and I should probably make more of them.

     The last stitch that I learned to do was the square stitch and it was also surprisingly easy to master. Basically, if you can ladder stitch, then you’re already halfway there. Pieces done in this style look like they’ve been done on a bead loom and that works for me. It’s less hassle, and less threads you have to worry about weaving back into the beadwork.

     I have been experimenting and sharpening my skills with all of these stitches like crazy . . .all except for the right-angle weave. Have not come back to that since I first got the basics down last summer. I did effectively learn how it’s done and how it works, but the test patch that I made just looked off for some reason. Maybe I used the wrong beads? I have no idea. Right-angle weave is something I definitely plan to revisit in the future because I’ve seen people do all sorts of eye-catching stuff with it on the Internet, the kind of stuff I ultimately want to be making. But for right now I’m going to need to let a certain obsession run its course. . .

The Bored . . .Jewelry Designer?

     It’s confession time, ladies and gentlemen (but mostly ladies). For far longer than I have been the Bored Cashier of WordPress, reviewing games and writing eloquently about whatever else I want, I have been a designer of jewelry. I still clearly remember buying my first earring kit and 3-in-1 tool from the store I work at. I had been eyeing these items ever since I started wandering into the crafts department. There was a growing desire within me to start creating things. I wondered how far my burgeoning creativity could take me and how skilled I could become at crafting jewelry. I wanted to see if I could create some truly breathtaking pieces . . . and some money while I was at it.

     I had no idea that I was in for one heck of a trip. My jewelry making journey began in September of 2012 and I would spend the next three years:

  • Amassing a respectable collection of beads
  • Developing a portfolio consisting of photos, select writings, and a design book of hand drawn diagrams
  • Dabbling in and out of web design

It was quite an eventful time.

     I made hundreds of pieces − earrings, necklaces, bracelets, that one anklet − and developed my own simple, ‘classic’ style. I did everything I could think to do with this it, including make nice things for myself. I haven’t bought a single piece of jewelry from any store in YEARS! The truth of the matter is that I was felt I would be better off just my own accessories. (Spoiler alert: I was right!)

     Anyway, to my surprise, and that of many others, I got pretty dang good at it. Soon, no one cold tell that all the pretty jewelry I was suddenly wearing was handmade by me. I still don’t know whether to feel flattered or insulted. I remember almost getting into any argument with a lady that I work with because when she accused me of not wearing my creations when I had been doing that for well over a year by that point in time. Nothing has really changed since then, except that my work has gotten much better and now people have an even harder time believing me when I tell them that I made what I’m currently wearing. Le sigh.

Adventures in Emulation

     Once upon a time (back in the mid-00’s), I found myself in possession of an Xbox. This wasn’t just any old Xbox though, this thing was packed to the brim with all sorts of games from several systems: NES, SNES, TurboGrafx16, etc. There were even a few Xbox games crammed into it. This was the first time I’d ever had so many games available to me at once and it. Was. Glorious! Games, especially decent ones, used to be frickin’ expensive. And there were no such things as digital download services that periodically have crazy sales and offer retro games for chump change. And I didn’t have my own computer anyway.

     I didn’t realize it then, but I had just experienced my first brush with the wondrous world of emulation. I remember being kinda sad when I had to give up that Xbox; I was gonna miss all those games. Over the next decade or so, thoughts of all those games I would never get to play again never fully left my mind. I would also think about all those games I missed out on as a kid. Then Youtube came on the scene. All I could do was watch other people play them. How I envied those Youtubers. I didn’t have heaps of cash for antique games and systems, so I just let it go . . .

     . . .until about the middle of May of this year. I had been on Steam for about four months by then and loving it. As I mentioned before, I had taken to plumbing its depths, searching for tittles released during previous generations of gaming. I’d already found pretty much all of the Sonic games, Jet Set Radio, Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath. Wish I could’ve found more though. And then it hit me: Why didn’t I just figure out how to use emulation software so I could possibly play all the stuff I wasn’t able to find. I mean, I had already grown accustomed to playing video games on my laptop.

     When it came to learning to effectively use this type of technology, the struggle was real.

  • Sorting out the functional emulators from the straight-up garbage
  • Finding functional ROMs (games)
  • Tinkering with all those damned configurations
  • Endlessly obsessing and wracking my brain over what to download next and for what system
  • The copious amounts of trail and error
  • The hours and hours I poured into the whole endeavor
  • And all the constant testing

It was enough to give me a headache.

     After all that nonsense, I can now successfully emulate the following systems: NES, SNES, Sega Genesis and Saturn, Gameboy/Color/Advance, Nintendo DS, Game Cube (sort of), and the TurboGrafx16 (aka the PC Engine/CD). I am having a kick-ass time playing all these games I’m now able to get my hands on. I’m truly enjoying taking a look at all those games I missed out growing up and the ones I played the crap out of on that special Xbox. I have even dove head-first into a bunch of obscure titles that no one talks about anymore.

     Everything is going swimmingly so far, however there have been a few . . .problem children:

  • The Nintendo Game Cube. I’ve read that the dolphin software (practically the only emulation programs for the system) is difficult to run in general. It does make me feel a bit better about my total failure to get this thing running faster than 30-ish FPS and at about 50% speed. Only two of the ROMs I’ve downloaded are decently playable with only sporadic lag.
  • The PS1 and the PS2. The stupid emulation programs I’ve been able to find for these systems will only run at about 50% speed on my laptop. I can’t figure out how to configure those many plug-in thingies to remedy this.
  • The TurboGrafx16/PC Engine. There was only one emulation program for this system on emuparadise.com. I couldn’t make heads or tails of it because it was in Japanese. But on the bright side, I was able to find another one that worked perfectly . . . for exactly five minutes. I decided to tackle this issue from a different angle: downloading an emulator the PC Engine CD instead. It was a complete success and now I can play all the TurboGrafx16 games my heart desires. Still makes me scratch my head.

     As with my delayed arrival to the Steam-y World of PC Gaming, I often wonder why I didn’t just bite the bullet and go for it sooner. Oh, well. Let the (literal) games begin! Whoo!