"Gather yee, gather yee for tales of generations past. Know that it's 2014 but since the beginning of the year Shiryu is stuck in 2004. What began as a simple celebration of the 10 years of his GameCube has rekindled something of old, something... extremely fun!"
Holding the Z button on the controller and pressing the Power switch turns the usual GameCube boot jingle into something really hilarious. It was funny in 2004, it's still funny in 2014. But then something remarkable happened: The game imminently boots afterwards! That's right, can you believe that? No fancy menus, no firmware updates, no game patch downloads, no blinking notifications about messages or friend requests, no Internet... no clutter! It's a games machine, it plays game and that's it... how strangely refreshing!
After a couple of weeks of downtime late December I managed to finally caught up with mostly everything on my Wii U library and like I do most years, I hooked up my GameCube to make sure everything was still in working order. But after the usual "F-Zero GX" grand prix runs, my eyes wondered onto my games shelf... and there my eyes set on a game I bought a few years back but only played a few tutorials... it was time to remedy that. This is a tale...
...of Men And Smugglers!
Grab the physics of vehicles from Unreal Tournament 2003 and Halo and turn it into a game based in timed challenged over huge landscapes running at perfect 60 FPS. That seemed to be the whole concept of Angel Studio's and Rockstar on this awesome, awesome game: "Smugler's Run: Warzones". With lots of modes including 4 player split screen multi player, it was the solitary "Smuggler's Missions" mode where I spend most of my time, having completed the final mission 36 last night while chatting with the rest of the TAY crew over on IRC. There is just something really fun and liberating pressing the boost on a ATV and jumping hundreds of meters off a mountain top. And landing it safely using the weight shift button! Think Excite Truck with about twenty police and/or military vehicles giving chase and you're there. Let's just not talk about the hair pulling missions where you have to transport explosives...
...of Giant Robot Dinosaurs!
...and then things got out of hand because I started buying new games for my GameCube collection! That's something I didn't do since Wii times! First of them was "Godzilla Destroy All Monsters". What can I say, I was really into Kaiju flicks as a kid, "Pacific Rim" reminded me just exactly why I liked them in the first place and the upcoming "Godzilla" 2014 reboot sealed the deal: I needed to destroy some buildings! I always heard good things about this game contrary to the average reviews it got so I jumped in. Buying games from past generations apart from the odd collectible is fortunately a cheap affair nowadays. Plus e-Commerce makes sure that someone, somewhere is trying to sell exactly what you're looking for. So how does it play? Like a 3D version of Neo-Geo's phenomenal "King of Monsters"! right down to tiny military vehicles trying to shoot down your behemoths. There is also a interesting cheat that makes everything on a level become destructible and throw-able! Grab a like minded friend and this thing becomes the evolution of wrestling games: fast, fun, hectic and with tons of neat little touches. I have yet to tire of the radio chatter going "Gozilla wins. I repeat, Godzilla wins." To be honest, everyone's a winner on this one.
...of Custom Robots and Wacky Japanese Humour
With a pretty decent PAL collection, I set my sights on bigger game: Target USA! I will spare you of the horror of being a PAL gamer in the 90's (perhaps a tale for another day), but even nowadays, sometimes games don't arrive at local shops. This was the case with "Custom Robo" GameCube's entry. I never understood why this series isn't as popular as say "Pokemon". Different strokes for different folks I suppose. I was quite looking forward to playing this when it was first previewed in magazines, but was really sad when I heard it was not going to get an official PAL European release. So a decade later, I finally got this and after some Datel "Freeloader" magic, it booted up on my GC. Man, I really was missing out. Playing like a mix of SEGA's "Virtual On" with a very light version of "Armored Core" with some shades of Capcom's "Power Stone", I was not aware of the humour present on the RPG section of game. I barely scratched the surface of this but I can see myself spending some fun times customizing my Robo and bashing CPU opponents. Wonder how this would have played back in the day with my friends also making their own bots...
...of Strange Days We Live In!
This phase I'm currently living in isn't something singular. It has happened before (after completing "Majora's Mask" on Nintendo 64, I spend almost two years playing only Super Nintendo and Megadrive until upgrading to a PS2.), usually in periods of generation transitions. I assume this will continue all the way into late February when "Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze" hits Wii U. Until that time, I will be setting my aims for more American-only titles such as any gear heads holy grail: Capcom's "Auto Modelistta". What this allow me is the gift of perspective. Much has been said this past week about the future of Nintendo (or rather, the lack of one) but it's past remains brilliantly today ruling my living room. For all the faults pointed at the GameCube upon it's release such as the lack of DVD playback, it sure is one heck of a home console. It's toy like, small yet powerful... it's different. The "Nintendo difference" if you will.
But what say you? Currently giving any of your retro game system any love? Do you think I will ever be able to face the industry's current generation with the same passion as I did a decade ago? Will... will I be all right? Let's find out together! Until next time: Play Hard, Play Loud!