Last Generation Gamer: Zelda II: The Adventures of Link

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Last Generation Gamer is Seed Sings way of reflecting on the greatest video games that were released before the current gen systems.  These are not necessarily reviews.  Let's look at these thoughts as a walk down memory lane.  If you have any ideas for Last Generation Gamer contact us seedsing.rdk@gmail.com

It is without question that the Legend of Zelda series of games are some of the most iconic and beloved in the history of all video gaming. The latest entry, Breath of the Wild, has already been heralded as one of the greatest games ever made. The first game introduced revolutionary concepts most games did not adopt until very recently. From the very first gold cartridge to today’s open world marvel, the games that start with The Legend of Zelda in their title are sure fire masterpieces.

It almost was not that way. After the runaway success of The Legend of Zelda, the sequel soon followed. Zelda II was released in Japan in early 1987 and followed to America in late 1988. The game was a huge smash, selling out and being generally well reviewed. All seemed right with the new series of games.

Yet initial success did not help the legacy of Zelda II. If you look up the worst games in the series, Zelda II is regularly listed as the worst one Nintendo ever introduced. Yes, there were the three terrible games licensed to Phillips for their 3DO system. Outside of a terrible cartoon series, those games are not considered by anyone to be part of the Nintendo series of games. When it comes to the “main” games, Zelda II is not held in the same high esteem of any of the other games in the series.

Why such a critical fall from grace? For starters Zelda II is very different than the original. The split between a top down world and a side scroller is not found in any other game in the series. Also, Zelda II is a hard game. The game introduced leveling up by getting experience points, and those experience points take a long time to acquire. The game gives you three lives, another thing not seen in any other Zelda game, and if you lose all three lives, you lose all of the experience you gained. And believe me you needed those three lives. The games monsters also require some wait and see strategy. No barreling through enemies because you are just way too strong, Zelda II made you stop and think. Many times you would need all three lives just to test out strategies to get past a few levels of a dungeon. Once you figured out the right strategy on your last life, you died and have to start again. To make it sting even more, no matter where you lost your last life, you will begin the game right back at where you started in the very beginning. Zelda II added to the tradition known as “Nintendo Hard”.

Zelda II does not deserve the disdain time has given the game. Yes it is hard, but so what. It was so different from the first game, yet added to the charm of the series. The towns became alive, the world of Hyrule was ripe for new exploration, and the hero Link was as awesome as ever. He could jump up and stab downward, how awesome. Zelda II was a huge leap forward in concept and execution than it’s older sibling, and both games lived on the same system. Zelda II was a triumph of it’s time.

It is extremely easy to play the very difficult Zelda II: The Adventures of Link these days. The mini NES that came out a few years ago has it (that is how I am replaying it right now), and it is part of the Nintendo Switch Online catalog of games. The Switch catalog even has an easier version where Link already has many of his power ups and spells. So go find this lost gem and get exploring. Once you get over the frustration of having to play a challenging game, you will find that Zelda II deserves a place of respect in our pantheon of awesome vintage video games. Get to it, princess Zelda needs saving, again.

RD

RD Kulik is the Head Editor for SeedSing and the other host of the X Millennial Man Podcast. Up next? Why Kid Icarus of course.

SeedSing is funded by a group of awesome people. Join them by donating to SeedSing.

Last Generation Gamer: The New "NBA 2K17" Brings Back a lot of the Great Oldies

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For my birthday this year, my wife and kids got me "NBA 2K17" for the Xbox. I do not play a lot of video games, but the ones I play are primarily sports related. I have ventured out with games like "Crash Bandicoot", "Sonic", "Mario Bros" and "Smash Brothers", but my video game life consists of "Madden", "NCAA Football"(when they still made it) and now the "NBA 2K" series. And, to even further the point home that I don't play video games much anymore, I have 2 young children, and I just do not have time. I'm too busy with them, coaching, taking one to school, changing diapers, writing for SeedSing, podcasting for SeedSing, I have a lot on my plate.

So, when I opened the game, I was kind of excited. I thought that I could try it out when my kids went to bed. They both go to their rooms around 8pm, so that leaves me, at least a couple hours, before I go to bed. Sometimes I work out during that time, but lately, I have been playing "2K17", and I have to say, I think it is the best basketball video game since "NBA Jam".

This game is really, really cool, and very well made. First off, the graphics are incredible. When I first played the game, I chose to be the West All Stars, and all the players looked almost too real. Russell Westbrook had his Mohawk, and his speed, KD looked just as long on the game as he does in real life, Steph Curry was short, had his short hair, and could bomb from three. I mean, even Boogie Cousins, who had a great game, but an even better rant last night, seriously, go check it out, looked real. He was big, had all his cool tattoos, his headband and mouth guard were prevalent, and he even had his trademark scour. The same thing can be said for all the other players. They all look real. It looks like I'm watching a game on TNT, but I'm controlling what the players do. It is truly astonishing.

Then, as I got more and more into the game, I realized all the extra teams that they already have built into the AI. I was scrolling through, trying to decide which team I wanted to be, and I happened upon the 95-96 Seattle Super Sonics, my all time favorite team. I chose them to be my team, and there was Gary Payton, Sam Perkins, Nate McMillan, Detlef Schrempf, and, of course, Shawn Kemp. It was totally awesome. I literally felt like a kid again. I wanted so bad to beat the team the computer chose for me to play, and I wanted Kemp to be the man, all of which was accomplished. But, "2K17" also has the "Bad Boy" Pistons team, the 95-96 72 win Bulls team, the great Celtics teams from the 60's and 70's and 80's, the "Showtime Lakers", I mean, any famous team you can think of past 1960, they have. I love that this game has put this in there for anyone to play. You don't have to win a certain amount of games, make a certain amount of shots, or do anything special to get these teams, they are just provided for you the moment you turn the game on. They also have all the other countries national teams, like Spain, France, Brazil and so on and so forth, and they even have the most recent Team USA. Again, all these teams are readily available, all you have to do is turn the game on. It's wonderful.

They still have the "My Career" and "My Team" modes on the game. I'm more of a "My Career" kind of guy, but it is pretty cool that you can take a team, say the 76ers, and build them into a powerhouse through the "My Team" mode. What I like about the "My Career" mode more though, you get to create yourself, or any iteration of a basketball player of your choosing, you go through a pre draft game with the other college stars in the most recent draft, and then, you have pre draft interviews. I love, love, love this type of stuff. After all this, you take your created player and you wait to be drafted. From there on out, the whole point is to build the player into a star. You start as a lowly rookie. But, if you put in the necessary work, that player becomes a sixth man, then a starter, then an all star, then a MVP candidate, and if you are lucky enough, you are the best player on a championship team. It's really cool to watch your player grow into a full-fledged NBA star.

"NBA 2K17" is a must for basketball fans, but I also think people that like sports video games would enjoy it. This is a whole new era of graphics and what you can do in the video game world. Hell, "2K17" even gives you rewards if you reach your step goal, if you own a Fitbit, which I do. This is an incredible game, and I cannot recommend it enough. Go check it out.

Ty

Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing and the other host of the X Millennial Man Podcast. The head editor is ready to challenge Ty on NBA Jam. Bill Clinton has been unlocked. Follow Ty on instagram and twitter.

SeedSing is funded by a group of awesome people. Join them by donating to SeedSing.

Last Generation Gamer: The Little Things make Red Dead Redemption an Incredible Game

Last Generation Gamer is Seed Sings way of reflecting on the greatest video games that were released before the current gen systems.  These are not necessarily reviews.  Let's look at these thoughts as a walk down memory lane.  If you have any ideas for Last Generation Gamer contact us seedsing.rdk@gmail.com

So you know there are SPOILERS of the plot to Red Dead Redemption in this article.

Today I shot a man down by a river in Mexico.

This was my fifth attempt at shooting the man who killed my father. The first four times I was not fast enough, and I died on the banks of that Mexican river. This fifth attempt was right on the mark. I was finally faster than the treacherous agent of the United States Government. Killing a man should not feel rewarding, but this showdown was not about joy. Killing Agent Ross was all about redemption. Redemption for my father John Marston.

Red Dead Redemption, released in 2010, is an open world Western released by Rockstar Games. Rockstar had made a name for themselves in sandbox gaming as the people behind the Grand Theft Auto games. Red Dead Redemption was built on the same model, but instead of modern city street the players were greeted by the wild west of popular American culture. Like all good open world games, Red Dead Redemption lets the player travel the developing American West, and a revolution ready Northern Mexico, to their heart's desire. Ride a horse through the cacti infested desert, capture wanted criminals dead or alive, play numerous games of chance, catch a silent film at the local theater, and many more tropes of the Old West are available to the player. There is the main story, but those quests can wait while you take some time break horses or herd a few cattle. Red Dead Redemption brings the American frontier to the player.

I picked up a used copy of Red Dead Redemption at my local Gamestop over a year ago. Many great things were said about the game, and due to my love of a good western, I thought why not give it shot. When I first started to play the game, I got lost. I never was that much into the Grand Theft Auto games, and when it came to open world games I was used to the mechanics of Bethesda games like Oblivion and Skyrim and Bioware games like Mass Effect. The different feel of Red Dead Redemption turned me off. I completed a few busy work tasks for Bonnie MacFarlane  and made my way to Armadillo, but I really spent most of my time riding through the untamed lands. Red Dead Redemption quickly made its way out of my 360 and into my storage bin. I had a galaxy to save and dragons to slay.

One lazy summer day, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly was on tv. I love this movie. I sat down to escape the heat and spent the next few others with Blondie, Angel Eyes, and Tuco. Once the great film ended, I popped Red Dead Redemption into my 360. I wanted to play the old west. No matter what the plot had in store, Red Dead Redemption was going to put me on the back of a horse, and I could watch the sun rise and set over the mesa's of the American southwest circa late 19th century.

The attention to detail is what brought me back to Red Dead Redemption. The music, the ambient sounds, the voices, the buildings, the landscapes, it is all done perfectly. Even the players avatar, John Marston, is perfect. His scarred face, do or do not give a damn attitude, his chivalry, it is like a role Clint Eastwood would have died to play. I decided to start the game over, and this time try to stay close to the main plot. I went through the folly of my actions at Fort Mercer, my game explaining work at the MacFarlane ranch, and then my journey to the town of Amarillo.

In that small town I met Mr. Wes Dickens, who led me to Irish and Seth. These three characters are amazing. Dickens is the prototypical snake oil salesman, but quite resourceful. Irish is a typical immigrant who has let the excesses of ungoverned lands get the best of him. Then there is Seth. 

Seth makes the early main quest of Red Dead Redemption so immersive. He is a disgusting, broken man, yet the perfect representation of the false American Dream. He is in the west to claim his fortune, but his mind has become so warped by the false dogma of the American Dream. Seth is willing to do anything, anything, to gain his unknowable fortune. In my love of westerns, there has never been a character as objectionable, and deserving of pity, like Seth Briars. He is one of the most interesting, and best, characters I have ever encountered in a video game.

Once Marston makes it into Mexico, the main plot of Red Dead Redemption starts to lose me. Throughout most of the game there is a libertarian bent towards the characters view of the government. Once you get to Mexico, government becomes all about equally terrible people fighting each other for power. I am not naive to think this is not the case in real life, but many times I wanted the chance to have Marston shoot Colonel Allende, Captain de Santa, and rebel leader Reyes. The game goes out of its way to show how terrible these men are, especially Captain de Santa. The character is a comically rendered Tony Montana who is also a gay predator. It is truly one of the worst things I have seen in a great game. It is not subtle at all.

Unfortunately in order to move the plot forward, I had to help all of these terrible men. The one thing that kept my game going was the Mexican landscape. The American old west was incredible, Mexico was even more breathtaking. The vistas were amazing, the towns are all gems. Riding along the dirt roads took up hours of my time. I wanted to watch the sun rise and set over the landscape worn down by millions of years of wind and sand. The beautiful isolation I felt in Skyrim was easily topped by the late nights gazing over the weathered rock formations of Mexico in Red Dead Redemption.

When your Marston travels back over the river and returns to US territory, Red Dead Redemption's story continues the theme of bad government and what is man's true purpose. Agent Ross, and the other government agents you encounter are poorly drawn caricatures of incompetence and evil. The main quest has become shootouts and horse back riding. Again I never had the option to just end it with Agent Ross, but I understand that there is a story to be told.

Even with the uninspired main quest, Red Dead Redemption is worth it in these last parts just for the time you get to spend with John Marston. The gorgeous Mexican vistas get replaced with the barren landscape of the plains, the snowy mountains of the north, and the emerging city of Blackwater. Knowing that the main quest was coming to an end, I spent many hours playing poker, hunting bears, and lining up the perfect shot to bring down the mighty buffalo. Spending time with John Marston was my reward for dealing with insufferable US agents.

Once Dutch was dead, and my job was complete, I had a sense of dread. This was it, the game was over. A solemn song song started to play as my Marston made his way down the snowy mountain. I went a little slower than normal to appreciate the scenery one last time. Goodbye Red Dead Redemption, it was worth it. 

To my surprise the game did not end. John Marston was given the reward of his family and the dream of being a rancher. I felt like this was one of the best endings in a game I have ever played. While the rest of the world was terrible, John Marston was just trying to do the right thing for his family. He was rewarded with his loving wife Abigail, his son Jack, and a little place out at Beecher's Hope. I was rewarded by doing the basic busy work of a rancher, by having playful back and forth with my wife, by berating an old timey western man with tobacco juice staining his white beard, and by bonding with my son. This was the ending Marston deserved, and I was lucky to spend a few peaceful moments in the plains of the old American West.

The peaceful reward of John Marston's life was not to be. Agent Ross comes back to finish his dastardly deed. With the US Army setting up an ambush, John Marston was not going to get his redemption. The main quested hinted at a violent end for Marston, and he did end in hail of gunfire. I was truly crushed when I saw Abigail weeping over her dead husband, and the good son trying to be strong. The great ending of Red Dead Redemption was replaced by one far more real, but soul crushing. Watching Jack and Abigail Marston standing over John's grave was sad, but the quiet moment was perfect for a game built on the little things. I was satisfied.

Yet much like the end of The Lord of the Rings, Red Dead Redemption was not ready to say goodbye. After a sad song playing over the image of John Marston's grave, we pan back to see an older Jack Marston staring at the burial plots of his mother and father. Now was the time for redemption. I immediately hopped on my horse and tore out for Blackwater. Agent Ross was going to get his. From Blackwater I was set on a wild goose chase all over the great landscapes that make up Red Dead Redemption. It was one last great ride through the land I had grown to love. My final stop was at the banks of river in Mexico. Agent Ross was waiting. After trying many times, my Jack Marston was able to take his revenge. Ross was dead in the river, and Jack had achieved his family's redemption. End of game.

I do not know if I was supposed to feel a sense of happiness when my Jack Marston shot the elderly Agent Ross along the banks of that Mexican river bank. Maybe Jack was meant to be better than his parents, but it did not matter. Shooting Agent Ross gave me a real sense of accomplishment unlike any other game. The grandeur of fighting the dragons of Skyrim, the spectacle of taking down a reaper in Mass Effect, none of it compared to the serene setting of defeating the enemy alone in the untamed lands of early 20th century Northern Mexico. Red Dead Redemption used it's perfect atmosphere to highlight the biggest boss battle of the game. The little things made the biggest difference.

I finished the main story of Red Dead Redemption on the same day that Rockstar announced the long waited for sequel to the game. The promise of Red Dead Redemption 2 has excited many people, myself included. I do not care about the main quest, I am on the fence if I want John Marston back, but I definitely want to revisit the old west on a next generation system. With how great Red Dead Redemption looks, sounds, and feels on my 360, I can not imagine what it will be like on a console with a lot more power. I am excited to sit on my horse and take in the old west once again.

RD

RD Kulik is the Head Editor for SeedSing. If you want to be immersed in the old west, play Red Dead Redemption and skip Westworld. That is the best advice.

SeedSing is funded by a group of awesome people. Join them by donating to SeedSing.

Last Generation Gamer: Pokemon Go

I was a bit too old to really get into Pokemon. In the 1990's the Sega Genesis, and then the Sony Playstation, appealed to my college and young male adult mind more than any of the kid games that were thrown out by Nintendo. While I did play my share of dice rolling role-playing games, the card trading games like Pokemon and Magic were never on my radar. As I grew older Nintendo reentered my life with the DS and then the Wii. By that time I was still only interested in the Mario, Zelda, and Metroid games. Pokemon was always the game of mythical animal cock-fighting that I never really understood. Never cared to catch them all, probably never would.

Last week the mobile game Pokemon Go was released in the United States. I downloaded the app immediately. By switching from Windows Phone to Android a few months ago, I was just happy to have the option to download the new hip thing. I signed in with my Google account, allowed all the ridiculous permissions, and waited for the game to start. My phone told me there was an error, and I was immediately kicked out of app. The next day I woke up and tried to sign in again. Since I was up fairly early, I figured the servers could not be overloaded. I assume my hunch was correct, because I finally was able to create my trainer. Being the short bald man that age has turned me into, my trainer is dashing with a nice full head of hair. There were not that many options.

Once my trainer was created, I checked my surroundings, and I immediately saw a blue box. Excitedly I touched the box and the augmented reality of Pokemon Go went into full effect. Sitting right on my breakfast table was a little blue Squirtle. I was very familiar with this particular Pokemon due to my experiences of playing Super Smash Bros for the Wii and Wii U. He was hanging out right next to my coffee. I quickly tossed my Pokeball, and I missed. I tried a few more times and after a few trials, I caught the little bugger. It was quite a thrill.

Now that I had my pokemon, I was ready to start fighting. Since I never read any of the rules, I had no idea what I was doing. Soon the realization came to me that I need to train the Pokemon at a gym. Luckily there was a gym within walking distance of my house. I grabbed my son, our new dog, and we embarked on a nice long walk on a very hot day. Along the way my son manned the phone looking for new pokemon, he caught one. When we were in range of the gym I quickly hit the icon, I also noticed my phone battery was near the end. Again, not being one for reading the rules, I learned I needed to be level 5 to use the gym. Maybe it was time to stop investing in this game I know nothing about?

I let Pokemon Go stay unused for a few days, then yesterday I was with my son and dog at a new park. There were people all over the place with their phones out looking for pokemon. I figured why not reopen the game and see what I am missing. Since I opened the app for a second time, every where I go I will open my phone to look for pokemon. The gym, I caught three more. Playground, I scored a Cubone. Even today, in my living room, I saw a crab little monster hanging out on top of my sleeping dog. I am not level five yet, but I am getting closer.

I am not the only one in my house amused by Pokemon Go. My six year old son is interested in catching the little monsters. Because of his interest I decided to download an old Pokemon game to his 2DS. He choose Pokemon Red because that is his favorite color. Once the game was installed, my son got ready to play. The lack of color, and the story aspect of the game, quickly made the boy bored. He put his 2DS down and went back to playing Mario Kart 8. I picked up the 2DS and decided to give the old game a chance. An hour later I had to force myself off of the ancient game so the dog could go outside and pee. The whole time outside with the dog I was kicking myself for missing out on twenty years of great Pokemon games. I knew I would have to catch up soon, but there was a new pokemon just down the street. It was then that the dog got to take another walk.

Many of the people I know have been looking for all the problems with Pokemon Go. I hear complaints about people going to cemeteries and other solemn places to catch their virtual monsters. My inner circle of friends post memes of how dumb it is for adults to play the game. Stories of danger, stupidity, and the horror of Pokemon Go has been the go to news item for the entire press. The narrative around Pokemon Go seems to be doom and dorkery. It is another fad, and we all must dismiss it immediately.

I am not here to bury Pokemon Go. It is the best mobile game I have ever seen. Everywhere I go there are people with phones out looking for cartoon creatures among the real world. Most of the people playing the game are women. The gaming community could really use more female gamer positive stories. I went to Target and saw people shopping and looking for pokemon. On the bike trail near my house, there were many walkers looking for an elusive pokemon. It is the middle of July in the Midwest, it is hot and humid, and there are way more people outside playing this game. They are playing the game together. Every time I glance at my phone in public, people ask if I am playing Pokemon Go. Most of the time the answer is yes. We need to embrace the social, and active, consequences of a free app that you can install on your phone. Yes people should stay out of cemeteries, but let's focus on the 1000+ great aspects of Pokemon Go and not be obsessed with the handful of bad stories. We should celebrate something great, not tear down what we want to dismiss.

I am so happy to have Pokemon Go on my phone. It has encouraged me to explore areas of my community I have never thought of. It has given my new dog an expectation of frequent, and ever changing, walks. It has made my son want to go outside. It is a great app. You need to download it. Reading the rules is not required. I just wish the actual Pokemon games and cards were not so expensive.

RD

RD Kulik is the Head Editor for SeedSing and the other host of the X Millennial Man Podcast. While he was writing this post, RD took a break to check on Pokemon Go. He caught another Pidgey. Catch the SeedSing fever by liking us on Facebook

 

 

Last Generation Gamer: NBA Jam

Last Generation Gamer is Seed Sings way of reflecting on the greatest video games that were released before the current gen systems.  These are not necessarily reviews.  Let's look at these thoughts as a walk down memory lane.  If you have any ideas for Last Generation Gamer contact us seedsing.rdk@gmail.com

Today I'm going to talk about what I consider to be the greatest sports video game of all time. Now, first off, I do not play a whole lot of video games. When it comes to non sports games, I played stuff like Crash Bandicoot, Sonic the Hedgehog, Mario Brothers and fighting games(i.e., Streetfighter, Tyson's Punchout and Tekken).But, I used to play mainly sports games when I played video games. Tecmo Bowl was the very first football video game I played and fell in love with. Then, Madden came out and that was the greatest thing ever. I'm not a hockey or soccer fan, but I played a ton of Blades of Steel and Fifa on any system I could. I'm not a golfer, but I love me some Wii golf. I played a lot of baseball games on various systems. I loved all the EA baseball games that were released for the Xbox and PlayStation. I was a huge fan of early baseball games like RBI Baseball and the Ken Griffey Jr baseball game for the Nintendo.

Then, I found basketball video games and college football. First of all, this was the hardest part when I was debating the best sports game of all time in my head the other day. I loved, and was pretty damn good at, NCAA Football for the PlayStation and the Xbox. That was my jam. I figured that game out pretty early on and I was dominant. Just ask our editor RD about my acumen at NCAA Football (Ed note: Ty has a cheat code). He has thrown more than one controller at me during games. NCAA Football was the best, until they discontinued the making of the game. That broke my heart. I've heard rumors that they may bring it back, and I hope they do, but I deeply miss that game. That was the one game I would buy on the day it came out. NCAA Football was so much more important to me than games like Halo or World of Warcraft, or whatever other shooter or strategy games that came out that my friends played.

NCAA Football was great, but not the best. I have, for the most part  liked every basketball video game I have played. I love basketball, so it's a natural fit for me. I played a ton of Bird vs. Magic whenever I could get on the Nintendo at home. I adored the game Double Dribble. As I got older I got really into the Streetball series of games they made. RD and I had crazy, epic battles, that where even, at those Streetball games. Those games were a ton of fun. I play, very occasionally, maybe once or twice a year, the NBA2K games. Those are fun, but they are a bit harder than some of the other games I mentioned. But, the game that I keep going back to and continue to play, wherever I can find it, be it my Xbox or my iPhone, is NBA Jam.

NBA Jam is the greatest sports video game that has ever existed. NBA Jam was a genius moment by the creators of that game. I love that it is a 2 on 2 battle with the best players on each team, except for the Bulls. Michael Jordan wouldn't appear on the game because he had his own game, but that is negligent, because NBA Jam still ruled. I remember when it first came out, I was always, and only, the Supersonics. I found out that I could play a video game with my favorite team, with my two favorite players, and I was immediately hooked. The fact that I could be Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp was heaven to me. I would run up and down the court with Payton, freeing space for Kemp, throw Kemp an alley oop, and he would do the most fantastical slam dunk that I could ever dream up. Kemp would grab the ball, put it between his legs, go around his back, put it through his legs and jam it home. And I would do that 50 times a game.

I was pretty damn good with Kemp, Payton and the Sonics, especially when Kemp would catch fire. Everyone that has played the game knows what catching fire means. You make three shots in a row, without the other team making a basket, you are on fire. Being on fire meant that you could make a jumper from almost anywhere on the floor, or if you chose to dunk, you could do things like multiple flips and jump so much higher than anyone trying to defend you. When I would catch fire, I jacked up so many threes from near half court, and they were all cash. When I chose to dunk, it was the best. Catching fire on NBA Jam is the best power up or boost that any video game has ever created.

I played NBA Jam a lot in the 90's on Super Nintendo. When I wasn't the Sonics, I would pick other teams with one small, fast guard and one big leaper that was just as good at blocking shots as they were at dunking. The Magic were great for this with Penny Hardaway and Shaq. You could run with the Knicks with Ewing and John Starks. The Houston Rockets, with Kenny Smith and Hakeem Olajuwon was nearly unstoppable. The 90's era NBA was great for NBA Jam. The teams worked perfectly.

When I went to high school and college, I lost touch with the game. The NBA went through a lull in the early 2000's, and the game wouldn't have been as fun. This also coincided with the 3 or 4 years I stopped watching the NBA because it just wasn't that good. But, as recent as 5 or 6 years ago, I rediscovered NBA Jam while searching for old school games on my iPhone, and I instantly fell back in love. I was also getting heavily back into the NBA at this time as well, so it was kismet. I downloaded the game and I've been playing it ever since. It's really cool with the updated teams and rosters. Now, the best teams are the Warriors, Thunder, Cavs, the Heat and the Spurs. You can run with Curry and Thompson, shoot the lights out from three, especially when you catch fire. The Cavs have LeBron, and he is the greatest player on Earth. Put him with Kyrie Irving and you get that great dual threat of an awesome dunker and blocker with the quick footed, decent enough shooting guard. The Heat have Dwayne Wade and Bosh, pre injury. That gives you two very good shooters, one great defender and Wade gets to the basket with ease on the game. The Spurs have any number of players you could imagine. You can run with Duncan and Parker or LMA and Kawhi or Ginobli and Duncan, basically, the Spurs are really great in the newer NBA Jam. My team is the Thunder. As I said above, I was a Sonics fan, so when they moved to OKC, I followed them. Now, I can play NBA Jam and run with Durant and Westbrook. Durant has a great jump, good for blocking shots and dunking. He can also shoot from outside. Kevin Durant may be the best all around player not named LeBron on the game. Then, you get the fastest player in the NBA, Russell Westbrook, who is also a very good defender in the game. I love running with the Thunder and I have won many virtual titles with them.

What it all comes down to, NBA Jam was the perfect creation for all NBA fans out there. The game isn't that hard to figure out and you don't have to worry about a 5 man team. You get to choose just your two favorite players from your team. It's a perfect sports world. The graphics and the gameplay, as far as sports games goes, is second to none. NBA Jam is at the top of the mountain as far as sports video games, or for that matter, just video games goes. NBA Jam is the best and I'm so glad that they keep making it and keep updating it. I love this game and I will always love this game. Thank you for all the fun you have provided me NBA Jam.

Ty

Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing and the other host of the X Millennial Man Podcast. When he could not be the Sonics, Ty would settle for playing as Bill Clinton. Make sure you follow Ty on twitter @tykulik.

Last Generation Gamer: The unappreciated feminism of Final Fantasy VII

Game does not work, time to blow the dust out.

Game does not work, time to blow the dust out.

Last Generation Gamer is Seed Sings way of reflecting on the greatest video games that were released before the current gen systems.  These are not necessarily reviews.  Let's look at these thoughts as a walk down memory lane.  If you have any ideas for Last Generation Gamer contact us seedsing.rdk@gmail.com

Video games come under a lot of fire for being generally misogynistic. These accusations are usually dead on. People like Anita Sarkeesian have been pointing out the male gaze inserted in our popular culture. The girl as a prize, Mario saving the princess again, Ms Pac Man not having the right to keep her maiden name, there are way too many examples of men ruling the video gaming world. Horrid events like gamergate continue to show the communication hold that misogynists have on the industry. Things are slowly getting better with games giving us FemShep, Samus Aran, and Lara Croft as solid protagonists who happen to be female. Unfortunately these heroes have a few of their own issues related to misogyny. You can win Samus in swimsuit in the many Metroid games, Lara Croft has her iconic assets, and FemShep gets the most idiotic formal outfit (without all the mods or DLC)imaginable in a great game like Mass Effect 3. These heroes are still strong protagonists and these unfortunate additions do not alter their story arcs, yet it still holds the empowerment back.

The Final Fantasy series has always had some issues with damsels in distress and the woman as the prize. Great games like Final Fantasy VI and Final Fantasy X have incredibly powerful women who heavily rely on the weaker men in the game to save the day. Final Fantasy X-2 has only women as playable characters, yet there is still the eye rolling hot bath scene mid way through a game about the end of the world. Plus Yuna's main goal in X-2 is to find a boy.

Final Fantasy VII (Playstation 1997) was a groundbreaking game in the popular series due to the inclusion of 3D graphics and full motion video cut scenes. The in game story was massive and required 30 or more hours to complete. The characters all had very in depth backstories that were unnecessary to complete, but brought a richness to the entire game.

When exploring the full depth of these backstories, the hidden feminism comes to the forefront of Final Fantasy VII's story. The three playable female characters, Aeris, Yuffie, and Tifa, all have their own agency and do not rely on the men to be the hero. In the standalone world of Final Fantasy VII (I am only talking about the original game, not any of the extra games or movies associated with original Square-Enix release) the female protagonists are fiercely independent and vital to defeating the conflict. These powerful women seemed out of place since there was never a "wait for the man to show me how moment" from any of these characters. During my first play through I never thought about the feminism, yet as the years go on, and I remember how great Final Fantasy VII is, the feminism seems quite clear. 

The game begins and ends with Aeris (or Aerith) Gainsbourough's face. She suffers her horrible fate at the midpoint of the game, and never acts as the damsel in distress. Aeris goes to her fate thinking she can win, and the hero fails in his rescue. Yuffie is the daughter of nobility and runs from her duties. When you visit Yuffie's father, she stands on her own to prove her worth as a warrior and leader. Both of these women do not need the men to save them. Both control their own destiny.

Tifa Lockhart is the true feminist hero of Final Fantasy VII. On the  surface Tifa seems like every other video game woman. She has the halter top and she seems to pine for the hero's affection. Once you play through the game Tifa is not defined, or made stronger, by Cloud. She is her own person, with her own dreams. Tifa may want something more from Cloud, but his obliviousness does not make her follow him like a puppy. Tifa is responsible for bringing Cloud back into the fight. Cloud is Tifa's damsel in distress.

Final Fantasy VII still has some unfortunate parts of the game. There is the outdated and uncomfortable time spent on the Don Corneo quest, and the costume choice for Tifa. With the upcoming remake for the Playstation 4 some of the games warts may, or may not, be wiped away. Even with the problems, Final Fantasy VII still managed to put in the game three female characters who were not in distress, did not need the male hero, and could be counted on as the leaders. Square-Enix may not have wanted to create feminist icons in Final Fantasy VII, but the gaming community is lucky to have Aeris, Yuffie, and Tifa in our history.

Special thanks should go out to my good friend Wikipedia and www.feministfrequency.com for providing insight and facts.

RD Kulik

RD is the head editor for SeedSing and the host of the X Millennial Man podcast. He still gets mad when blocky Sephiroth stabs blocky Aeris with a blocky sword. Think RD is crazy? Come tell us why.

 

Last Generation Gamer: Satoru Iwata 1959-2015

Last weekend Nintendo President Satoru Iwata was laid to rest. His death was a very large news story because Nintendo is one of the giants in the video game industry. There are some great features on who Satoru Inwata was, and why he is so important (my favorite piece came from Kotaku). His career, his accomplishments, and his love of video games (check out his interviews with Nintendo employees ) makes his passing one of great loss to everyone who has loved video games.

Thinking of Satoru Iwata and what he has meant to my life long love of video games makes me appreciate how influential he was not only to me, but also to my child. I am old enough to have played and enjoy an Atari 2600. It was my third favorite thing, Star Wars was number one followed by Superman comics. When I first saw the Nintendo Entertainment System, video games became my second favorite thing, still behind Star Wars. Once I entered college, the scholars I associated with were die hard Sega devotees. Nintendo fell by the wayside and I started to get interested in more modern games. The Sony Playstation was the future of my gaming life.

In the first part of the 21st century Nintendo did something different. They learned that the kids who grew up with the NES were now adults who had young children. These adults were not going to let their kids play Grand Theft Auto or Halo (even if those adults still played those games). In came the Nintendo DS, mobile gaming's father (the Gameboy is the great great grandfather). The DS had touch controls, over internet multiplayer, and incredible games. The adults who played the original Mario Kart could now play Mario Kart DS, anywhere. I had a pink DS Lite (it was a Christmas gift and I was too lazy to return it for a different color). I was working as a lobbyist and would spend a lot of time waiting for meetings in government offices. Brain Age, Animal Crossing, and of course Mario Kart were always with me and my trusty pink DS in the halls of power. 

In the spring of 2007 I was leaving a public hearing in Dayton Ohio and decided to make a stop at the local Best Buy to check out some of the goods. When I was looking at Playstation 2 games I saw a cart with four Nintendo Wiis sitting in the aisle. Suddenly I was a kid on Christmas morning, I was so excited. In less than ten minutes all of those Wiis were gone, one in my hand. I raced home and played Wii sports until after midnight with my wife. It was the second happiest day of our marriage up to that point. Shortly after we acquired our Wii, my wife and I had downloaded Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros 3, The Legend of Zelda, and Metroid from the virtual console. Super Mario Galaxy, Mario Kart Wii, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Super Smash Bros: Brawl and Super Mario Galaxy 2 were soon added to our gaming library.

In 2010 my son was born. In 2013 my small family moved out of our city condo into a suburban home. While we were unpacking I decided to hook up the Wii to play some Mario Kart. Within a few months my young son was regularly winning races against his mother and me. His love for Mario Kart (Peach and Luigi were his racers) was immediate. We, I mean Santa, got him a 2DS for Christmas (the kid is young, I do not need the 3D messing his eyes up). Mario Kart 7 was the first game to be loaded into the system. A few months ago we gave him a Wii U and Mario Kart 8, plus a Luigi Amiibo. The kid uses the Wii U not only to play Mario Kart, but he is getting into the old Wii games. The other day he wanted to play Super Mario Bros, the one from the NES.

This is why Satoru Iwata's passing hit me. He is the man who steered Nintendo during the early part of the 21st century. He brought me back to Nintendo. He is the face behind the DS, Wii, and Wii U. He is the man who ran the company with not all the good games, Nintendo had the best games. Mario Galaxy 2 is far and away the best video game I have ever played. Mario Kart has no equal in the racing game genre. Any Zelda game can go toe to toe with Final Fantasy. Super Smash Brothers can never be beat down by the Mortal Kombats or Tekkens of the time.  Satoru Iwata was a game maker and a game player. The gamer press has always wanted to knock Nintendo for being a kid company, and for many years they were right. Satoru Iwata took Nintendo's reputation, and used it to build a gaming environment that my young son, my wife, and myself will participate in.

Rest in peace Satoru Iwata. Your love for the industry, and your connection to my life will be missed. The legacy you left will assure Nintendo in this home. Thank you.

RD Kulik

RD is the creator of Seed Sing. He loves video games, but is not very good at them. Come write for Seed Sing.

Last Generation Gamer: The cost of love and friendship in Shadow of the Colossus

Last Generation Gamer is Seed Sings way of reflecting on the greatest video games that were released before the current gen systems.  These are not necessarily reviews.  Let's look at these thoughts as a walk down memory lane.  If you have any ideas for Last Generation Gamer contact us seedsing.rdk@gmail.com

So you know there are SPOILERS of the plot to Shadow of the Colossus in this article.

If you truly love someone, is there anything you would not do for them.  Absolute love knows no danger.  You would make a deal with the Devil himself for true love. Right?

Shadow of the Colossus (Playstation 2, 2005) allows you to see the consequences of making a deal with the devil for true love. The game is extremely minimal in its design, story, and game play, yet it is one of the most beautiful, thought provoking, and rewarding games ever made. You play as Wander who is equipped with a sword (never to be upgraded) a bow and your trusty horse Argo. The landscape is desolate and dotted with crumbling structures from a long dead civilization.  The only living inhabitants are the 16 mostly peaceful and isolated colossi. There is no grinding for experience and gear to get ready for the fights. The player uses skill and strategy (plus trial and error) to defeat the colossus and move on to the next. It is apparant very early that the Wander's goal (having the girl Mono revived) is not without spiritual danger. The deaths of the colossi are mournful and the effect on Wander start to become demonic. There is a very heavy price Wander must pay to bring Mono back.

There is never any question to Wander's task.  He never stops to ask anyone (Argo?) if his soul is worth bringing another one back.  I think Wander knew the cost to bring the one he loves back. I know there is a question to what Mono is to Wander, in my game she was his love. His conviction made him carry out the task without regret and with full focused dedication.

Wander only brought one friend on his journey. The horse Argo is more than a tool, he was a partner in this deadly quest. Wander could not survive the wasteland without Argo.  That is not to mean Argo is strategically needed, he was psychologically necessary.  Wander went on the quest knowing he may never return.  It is made clear what Wander did before the game starts is forbidden by his people. Wander had no way to go back, yet  Argo was never meant to be sacrificed to the task.  Before the final colossus the loss of Argo elicits the most shock and sadness from Wander.  Mono was gone, Argo was alive with Wander on this cursed quest. During the end credits when Argo comes limping on the screen with an assist from Mono, I had a true sense of joy. The inclusion of Argo in the game not only added new strategies for the colossi fights, it added a needed friend in the wasteland of the forbidden land. One cannot enter danger alone.  Even in defiance and death, we need a friend.

Shadow of the Colossus is truly a game without equal.  In the ten years since its release, no game has come close to melding video game art with truly unique game play (we will see how The Last Gaurdian stacks up).  Outside of the basic metrics video games are judged on, the thing that sets Shadow of the Colossus apart is how it honors the ideas of love, friendship, and sacrifice.  There are people (and horses) worth any sacrifice. There are things worth more to someone than their own souls.

RD Kulik

RD is the Head Editor for Seed Sing. He has never bought a horse because none will stack up to Argo. He does need you to write for Seed Sing.

Last Generation Gamer: The Beautiful Loneliness of Skyrim

Last Generation Gamer is Seed Sings way of reflecting on the greatest video games that were released before the current gen systems.  These are not necessarily reviews.  Let's look at these thoughts as a walk down memory lane.  If you have any ideas for Last Generation Gamer contact us seedsing.rdk@gmail.com

So you know there are SPOILERS of the plot to Skyrim in this article.

When Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios, 2011) begins you are not alone.  The first person view all the Elder Scroll games start with show the back of a horse drawn cart with prisoners being escorted through a rough mountain road. Through the dialogue of others it quickly becomes clear that you are a prisoner going to execution with your fellow cart travelers.  Although you are with others, you are not part of their group.  One man is a horse thief who will not factor into the plot.  The other two men are rebels who are fighting the empire (one of the men is the leader of the Stormcloaks, I assumed the reader knew this but I did not want to leave important info out).  You are not a thief (yet, if you want) or part of the rebellion (again yet, if you want).  You have no identity. You are alone.

I purchased Skyrim in 2015 to see all the fuss.  It has been heralded as one of the greatest video games ever made.  I played Oblivion (not yet finished, but still loving the game) and I purchased Skyrim on a Gamestop buy two get one free deal.  My plan was to finish Oblivion, but one day I decided to pop Skyrim into the X-Box 360 to see if it lived up to the hype.  It begins like most other games, a big event facilitates you taking control, then a simple dungeon so you can learn all the basic controls.  Once you complete the first dungeon, the world opens up.

It is the most magnificent first look at the open world in any game I have ever seen.  Cyrodill in Oblivion looks majestic, mostly green, and bright.  Skyrim feels, rocky, cold and isolated. I can remember going north in Oblivion through the Jerrall mountains and seeing the wasteland beyond the horizon I could not cross  The first unassisted view of Skyrim makes you feel alone in that challenging wasteland. There is a rough, partially snow covered, stone road. Once you look around you see snow dusted trees and massive mountians all around you. This is the land of dragons, there is no doubt.  I feared any creature early on in the game because I thought anything that could thrive in this environment is going to be tough. 

I want to take a quick detour and elaborate on why my visceral reaction was so strong.  My parents grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan right near the shores of Lake Superior. When I was young my parents would take myself along with my brothers for vacations in the U.P.. On the way to my parents homeland, the highway stops about a hundred miles out.  The rest of the trip is a two lane road through dense woods and quaint towns.  We mainly went up there in the summer, but on a few occasions we ventured there in the winter(once for a cousins wedding the first week of October, I slid my Dad's car off the road because it had snowed a few feet the night before).  It was bleak, desolate, and cold in the U.P. those winters.  I was truly surprised that anyone lived there year round (like my grandparents).  My first look at Skyrim reminded me of the U.P..  The first person I talked with in Skyrim sounded like a retaliative. This was going to cause a little bit of extra immersion during my gaming sessions.

I do not want to make it sound like Skyrim's grays and desolation make it unattractive, it is gorgeous. The first time you trek up the Throat of the World, and take some time to look out over the expanse, it is breathtaking.  When I approached Solitude and saw the grand tower built on top of a natural rock bridge formation above me, I simply stopped and stared at my television for a few minutes. Walking through the quiet snow packed plains in the middle of the night on my way to Solitude was strangely tranquil.   I have spent over half my time in Skyrim just staring.  There have been other games with beautiful vistas, but none of them have put me in a state of awe like Skyrim.

The other part of Skyrim the game that makes Skyrim the territory so overwhelming is the loneliness. The majority of your journey can be done all alone.  There are plenty of opportunities to pick up people who will help you on your quests, but they are not required.  A novice player, like myself, will not even know how to bring an ally around.  When Lydia was assigned as my Housecarl in Whiterun, I unintentionally had her stay put.  I did not find her again until I bought a house in Whiterun.  Once I had her join me, she was killed within the next hour because of my exploring.  Most of the game I have been alone, and Skyrim makes you feel isolated.  There is a quest option to join the Imperial Army and bring down the rebellion.  There is an alternative quest option to join the Stormcloaks and bring Skyrim independence.  Both of these quests may bring you new friends, but neither is necessary. The introduction of teammates may seem anti isolationist, but the ambiance of Skyrim will always make you feel alone.  The low tones of the noises in dungeons,  the ambient noise of the outdoors, the sudden break of silence due to a wolf, all of these atmospheric touches make Skyrim a jumpy place. Feeling like you are a lone soul in this beautiful and dangerous vista is Skyrim's crowing achievement.

I have not finished the main quest of Skyrim. I absolutely adore this game and do plan on completing the main storyline, and then dive into some of the DLC (I hear you can ride a dragon, that in it self will be worth the effort). While the quest may not be completed, I do get the urge to load Skyrim up and just walk around for a while.  Most of the time I tell myself that I need to do some character development, but the real reason is I just would like to enjoy the views in quiet solitude.

RD Kulik

RD Kulik is the Head Editor of Seed Sing.  Thanks to reading a random book in Skyrim he knows how Oblivion ends.  That will not stop him from completing the game, it just might have to wait a few hundred hours until the last dragon soul of Skyrim has been absorbed.

Last Generation Gamer: Bioshock and Objectivism

Last Generation Gamer is Seed Sings way of reflecting on the greatest video games that were released before the current gen systems.  These are not necessarily reviews.  Let's look at these thoughts as a walk down memory lane.  If you have any ideas for Last Generation Gamer contact us seedsing.rdk@gmail.com

I want to begin this reflection of Bioshock with a small discussion on privilege and maturity.  I studied political science at a small school that was 90%+ white.  Many of my classmates came from wealthy families. It was during these years I picked up Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. I immediately decided to be an objectivist, and later a Libertarian (ed note: here is an explanation of Objectivism.)  In 1996 I supported the candidacy of Libertarian Harry Browne.  When I was released into the real world, my view of Objectivism was becoming more critical. I felt like my white maleness was a prerequisite to embracing the objectivist philosophy. During that period of my life I believed that we could do without government interference because I turned out ok.  When I started to take a more critical look at why society may need course corrections, I realized that Objectivism worked only for those who are white men with the means to gain capital. Shortly after this revelation I decided to give up on Objectivism and decided Marxism was the new go to political philosophy.  I did not stay a Marxists very long, I exited before I could even support a presidential candidate. It always struck me as odd that in my twenties I could strongly be associated with two diametrically opposed political philosophies.  It was hard for me to articulate why I embraced these ideas.

In 2014 I picked up a used copy of Bioshock (released in 2007) for my X-box 360. I had a vague idea that the game was tied to the ideas of Ayn Rand, but I mostly thought it was a brainless art-deco styled first person shooter. Within the first ten minutes I was all in.  The only action I had been able to do in the game was swim to the lighthouse. No wrenches or plasmids, just exciting first person swimming. I became hooked when I stopped to read the banner in the lighthouse -

NO GODS OR KINGS

ONLY MAN

That was awesome. I used to strongly believe that.  I thought if this game stinks, I will get my money's worth by replaying that one scene a few hundred times.  The game play itself was ok, not great, in my opinion.  I did not care that much for the photo taking (I got sick of that in Dark Cloud 2).  I have also never been a huge fan of first person shooters (mainly because I am not very good at them).  The story of the game is what made me move on.

I am shocked today with how many people do not think of Bioshock as a critique of objectivism.  In researching this article I found entire college theses on the subject. Outside of the art-deco design of Rapture (which is incredible), the freshman level philosophy class was the highlight of the game.   Since I had a fairly good understanding of objectivism it felt like Bioshock was making damn well sure I knew that Ayn Rand was completely wrong.  

Rapture is a disaster of mans' hubris.  Freedom is the father of  chaos. That seems to be the fable Bioshock is trying to impart on the player. What we the player sees is the end of Rapture.  To build this grand underwater city must have taken the work of many dedicated geniuses (and whole bunch of crazy people).  Objectivist principles built Rapture, and these same principles quickly destroyed it. That is the reality of objectivist (and libertarian) philosophy.  Unfettered ambition and skill will bring anarchy if it is not reigned in.  That is the moral of Bioshock.

The city of Rapture shows hopeful ideas, and it is populated with degradation.  Here is where Objectivism and Marxism share a similar influence.  Both philosophies believe in an Utopian idea for society.  Marxism was born out of uncontrolled capitalism, and Objectivism was born out of spreading communism.  Both philosophies want to unshackle mankind and allow us to reach our greatest potential.  Both philosophies forget to factor in greed and ambition. Objectivists will tell you the greatest of us will have charity.  Some of these supermen may have charity, but the majority will want more capital.  History has proven that nations have ascended, and fallen, due to a few individuals and their quest for more. Rapture did not fail because of the ideas used to create her.  Rapture failed because of the people who built her and wanted more.

The next time you decide to discuss politics in an unknown group and someone starts preaching the tenets of Objectivism (or Marxism), ask them if they have solved the problem of the individual.  When they tell you that Objectivism celebrates the individual and gives us freedom, smile at them and hand them a copy of Bioshock. Say to your new friend "Would you kindly play this game." That person may not immediately see the folly of Ayn Rand's ideas, but they will at least get to play an exciting game with a killer story.

RD Kulik

RD Kulik is the creator and Head Editor for Seed Sing.  He one time harvested the ADAM from a little sister and spent the next three days feeling guilty (actually he still feels guilty)

 

Last Generation Gamer: Mass Effect - Renegade Edition.

Last Generation Gamer is Seed Sings way of reflecting on the greatest video games that were released before the current gen systems.  These are not necessarily reviews.  Let's look at these thoughts as a walk down memory lane.  If you have any ideas for Last Generation Gamer contact us seedsing.rdk@gmail.com

 

I picked up the first Mass Effect game in the summer of 2012, five years after it was released.  The only information I had on the game is that it was a space adventure and a lot of people were not happy with the end of the third game.  I thought, hey I like space games and I like video game controversy let’s give Mass Effect a shot.

I am not going to go into an in depth review on the Mass Effect series today.  If you have not played this game, go play it right now. These three games are beyond awesome. Like many people I am partial to Mass Effect 2.  Unlike many people I did not absolutely hate the ending (I hated it a lot less when I downloaded the free extended ending from X-box live). If you are new to the game, choose to be the female Commander Shepard.  Once a movie is made out of Mass Effect the producers would be dumb not to make Shepard a woman.  She far and away has one of the greatest action hero arcs ever put into the zeitgeist.

Now that you have played the game (hopefully as FemShep), go and start over on Mass Effect.  We are going to choose all the renegade options.  Early in the series the renegade Shepard seems to be a stuck up militaristic xenophobe. The best way to play as a true renegade is to speed through the game, no side missions (that is the reason you should go full renegade on a second play through, you will need the advantages of a fully equipped and better experienced crew). Once you get to Virmire, the renegade Shepard becomes a full blown jerk. Wrex will draw his weapon on you once the discussion of Saren’s genophage research becomes personal.  You will gun down your ship mate, and then tell the salarians to dump him in the ocean.  That is when you become a cold hearted snake.  What makes that moment great is that the rest of your crew is still fully behind you.  It helps that Ashley is also a xenophobe, but the rest of your crew really does not have a good excuse to back you up.  I guess they could justify your actions by saying Wrex was unstable, but the dumping in the ocean line, cold.  On the second play through, your renegade Shepard can still complete the romance option, and can even cause the first incarnation of Saren to commit suicide.  One less fight, way to go jerk Shepard.

Mass Effect 2 is where renegade Shepard moves from being a jerk, and starts to become a sociopath.  A speed run through of the game is vital to make renegade Shepard truly shine. You need to skip all the loyalty missions to make sure that your crew is not safe (on a third play through there are some epic renegade options to explore in the loyalty missions).  The only loyalty mission worth exploring is the one on Omega to kill the Asari Justicar Samara’s daughter (Morinth).  This mission uses all the skeeviness of Renegade Shepard and allows you to have your allied killed by a dangerous psychopath.  Morinth will even join your party and disguise herself as Samara.  The extra great bonus of gaining Samara is that after the game you can load your last save and have Morinth sex you to death.  I am not kidding.

If you played Mass Effect 2 as a true renegade, and gained Morinth, the ending will be very lonely.  Nearly everyone will have been killed, including Garrus (the subject of a future Last Generation Gamer).  The only people left on the Normandy will be you, Joker, and Morinth. 

Your actions as a pure renegade Shepard make Mass Effect 3 a very different game.  There is no Garrus on Palavan (you uncaring jerk).  There is no Talia to help liberate Rannoch (thanks to your lack of safety upgrades on the Normandy).  Grunt, Miranda, Mordin, Legion, Thane, Jacob, Ashley/Kaiden – all gone.  Your play through of Mass Effect 3 will only consist of Shepard, Liara, Vega, EDI, and maybe Ashley/Kaiden.  The true renegade Shepard will tell Ashley/Kaiden to stay with the alliance and not join the Normandy.  This may be the most humane thing renegade Shepard does, especially since most people who have served on the Normandy ended up dead.

With all the bodies you have left behind as renegade Shepard, the galaxy still makes you their most trusted warrior.  Why not?  Your methods may be unfeeling, and dangerous, but you have gotten things done.  The big final question to renegade Shepard is what ending must be chosen.  If you followed my advice, and this is the second play through, all options should be available.  The most obvious choice is to become a reaper (which is a fitting end for renegade Shepard), but I do not think this is the best ending for this play through.   If you downloaded the extended ending there is a fourth answer option to give the Catalyst, keep fighting.  That in my opinion is the true renegade Shepard option (even if the clip says paragon). When you tell the Catalyst that you will keep fighting, it does not end well for our heroes.

I love Mass Effect because of how it made me feel about my ship mates.  I felt responsible not only for all of the galaxy, but for my friend’s less than epic issues (except for Jack, I did not really care that much about her).  Being renegade Shepard actually challenged my sense of morality.  I honestly did not attempt this kind of play through until my fifth time.  I also completely changed my Shepard’s appearance in each game so I would not feel like I was betraying a true hero.  I know that sounds lame, but that is the power of Mass Effect.  The games make you emotional tied to your decisions.

Go out and play these games.  On your third or fourth play through, give renegade Shepard a chance.  It may feel wrong, but you will see a great old game in a new twisted light.  Being renegade Shepard may even make you respect the ending of the Mass Effect trilogy.

RD Kulik

RD Kulik is the creator and Head Editor for Seed Sing.  He loves playing RPGs on his new-old X-Box 360 and is always looking for recommendations. 

Last Generation Gamer: The Legend of Zelda (NES - 1986) - The Greatest Open World Game Ever

Last Generation Gamer is Seed Sings way of reflecting on the greatest video games that were released before the current gen systems.  These are not necessarily reviews.  Let's look at these thoughts as a walk down memory lane.  If you have any ideas for Last Generation Gamer contact us seedsing.rdk@gmail.com

The Legend of Zelda is the greatest open world game in the history of the entire video game industry.  I know that is a bold statement for a game released nearly 30 years ago (1986 in Japan 1987 in the US).  Since the release of The Legend of Zelda we have experienced some epic Final Fantasy worlds, the Grand Theft Auto series, and the Elder Scroll games to name just a few of the open world games that are currently occupying our consoles.  Legend of Zelda was one of the first open world games to be a commercial success, and it came out decades before the genre was defined.

How is Legend of Zelda even considered an open world game (says the reader I am thinking will have this exact question)?  Go ahead and turn it on, I can wait.  Now that your Wii, DS, Wii U, or (if you are truly hardcore) your Nintendo Entertainment System has loaded the start screen, begin a new game.  The screen should show Link and a cave to the north.  I dare you to go any way except in the cave.  Did the game drag you back to the cave?  No, it let you move to the next screen filled with enemies (either tektites or octoroks).  Your only option is to keep moving, unfortunately since we skipped the cave their is no wooden sword to use and dispatch the enemies.  If you are very good at dodging the monsters, and have a lot of luck, you can make it through every screen on the over world map without ever going into the first cave. Not many of the open world games of today will let you visit every part of the main map when you first start the game. Games like the Elder Scroll series (Skyrim, an upcoming Last Generation Gamer column)  make you play a short introductory quest before you have access to the whole over world.  

It is possible to complete The Legend of Zelda and never grab the wooden sword.  There are rupees hidden under Armos (the statues you touch to wake up) in the over world.  Get some rupees, get some bombs, get two more heart containers, then get the white sword.  The old man who offered you the wooden sword because of the dangers outside is not as helpful as he previously led on.  You actually could complete the game without any sword.  That would require a lot of time, rupees, ,and luck.  The possibility alone makes for many more options of playing through and winning a game that came out nearly 30 years ago.

I thoroughly enjoy the freedom of today's open world games.  The ability to forget about the main story when you see some dingy hole in the ground weirdly appeals to my senses.  I never grouped The Legend of Zelda into the open world category until I started to try different play through on my Wii.  I have yet to attempt to go through the whole game without a sword (I do believe that would be impossible on the second quest).  I do however try each different session by skipping as many of the early dungeons, and leaving them for the end.  Try out your own out of order, or lack of items play through.  I guarantee you will find the excitement and difficulty on par with anything running on your current console.  You may just rediscover the most open world game ever created.

RD Kulik

RD Kulik is the creator and Head Editor for Seed Sing.  He is currently playing through all of the great games (and some mediocre ones) on his new Xbox 360.