The X Button
Mushroom Samba

by Todd Ciolek, Mar 18th 2009

Well, I've gone through all of the entries in that Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? contest, and it was quite hard to pick one above the others. There were countless fascinating tales of the heartbreak and frustration you've suffered at the hands of games from Pitfall 2 to the latest Street Fighter, and I can't help but wonder if it's cruel of me to give someone Prinny, considering how ridiculously hard it can get.

So who gets the potential curse of Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? After much consideration, I decided on Kirsten Mitchell as the winner. Here's her tale of Gunpei Yokoi's Super Mario Land and an anonymous benefactor.

Super Mario Land. A little gem in the Game Boy's library that was produced and directed by someone other than Miyamoto. That doesn't necessarily make it difficult, but it certainly makes it different.

For the first 2-ish or so levels, it's pretty standard Mario fare, and then suddenly, instead of being in Mushroom Land, Mario is transported to…the inside of a pyramid.

Alright, I can deal with that.

Halfway through the level, past falling stones, over pipes filled with piranha plants, you come face to face with…a fire-breathing sphinx.

Alright, I can handle that.

Or, maybe not.

No matter what I tried (or so I thought) I couldn't kill the damn thing.

Power balls (for that's what they were called) did nothing.

For days I labored over this.

Soon days became weeks.

Soon weeks became months.

Soon months became…more months.

All the while, the power balls did nothing.

I would, of course, be distracted by newer games coming out. But I would always come back to Super Mario Land, to try and defeat the damn fire breathing sphinx.

Finally, one day while I was riding the train to school, a little girl, probably not older than 7 or 8 years of age comes up behind me and mutters, “Why don't you just jump on it?”

Of course, that was the solution the whole time. And just to prove to myself that I still have it, I beat the game in 30 minutes. All it took was the suggestion to “jump on it” and suddenly the rest of the game became a cakewalk. I don't think I've ever, ever, ever wanted to destroy a game as much as I wanted to destroy that one. Until that little girl saved it. Thanks, little girl, for saving my Super Mario Land cart.

The runner-up in this contest, who'll get a Boing! Docomodake DS strap and some other trinkets, is Anthony Restaino. He spoke to an entire generation of NES players (or perhaps just me) with his memories of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

I'm here to tell you about the most vile, nightmarish plague to ever wrap its cold, electric arms around my NES memories. That's right, my friend, you guessed it: the seaweed from the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles NES game. I can still remember the cold sweat of making it to the dam, knowing full well the challenges that lay before me. The turtles, underwater, in a race against time were diffusing bombs while trying to stay away from those dastardly plant-fingers of doom. And it was I who had to lead them to their success. But I was just a child, how could I do this?

Two minutes, two damn minutes were all I was given. Jack Bauer couldn't accomplish this if he had webbed feet and gills. And the seaweed, by God the seaweed. What kind of human has the ability to lead these ninja warriors through paths that are JUST AS WIDE AS THEIR BODIES, where one false move would lead to death-by-electrification. It haunted me, like the Ghost of Christmas Future leering at my frail, old-manish body. But let me tell you one thing, sir, I sure as hell knew better than to send Donatello through that Devil's Playground. He was too important, sacred almost, no one could compete with that reach. Raphael, don't get me started with him. Last time I checked, spinning your sai 3 inches away from your chest never really helped anyone. Yes, Raph was the first one to go. Raph was seaweed fodder.

But don't feel bad for me, dear reader. It may have taken a good decade, but I eventually returned to that game a little older, a little wiser, and I defused those bombs. I saved that damn dam.

And those were only two of the compelling entries I received. I'd like to thank everyone for entering, and I'm genuinely sorry that I can't send each of you something. I'm going to make amends by playing Battletoads later tonight.

NEWS

NINTENDO DANGLES ANOTHER PROFESSOR LAYTON GAME OUT OF REACH
Nintendo seems intent on turning fans of Professor Layton and the Curious Village into the next generation of Earthbound devotees, who are forced to watch as Japan gets games that will be denied to America. Two sequels to Professor Layton and the Curious Village have since gone unlocalized, and now there's another set of three games on its way to Japan. Professor Layton and the Devil's Flute is the first of this new trilogy, set to arrive this fall…in Japan, of course.

The Devil's Flute is a prequel, starting up three years prior to The Curious Village. It details the first meeting of the professor and his assistant Luke, while a woman named Remi Altava joins the two of them in their search. With its puzzles and dialogue, the game looks much like previous Professor Laytons, but Level 5 claims that the trilogy's overall story will lead into the upcoming live-action Professor Layton film.

ARC RISE FANTASIA RAISES EXPECTATIONS FOR WII RPGS
If the Wii is lacking in one thing, it's high-profile, straight-up RPGs. Sure, you'll see a Tales of Symphonia sequel, two Harvest Moon games, the swiftly forgotten Opoona, and a bunch of ports, but there's nothing that you could call a major new RPG. Image Epoch's Arc Rise Fantasia might fix that. It's being directed by Hiroyuki Kanemaru, who worked on the Tales series up to and including Symphonia, and there's a soundtrack by Yasunori Mitsuda (Chrono Cross, Xenogears), and a script by the writer of Tales of the Abyss. The characters even have a distinct look thanks to Kenichi Yoshida, who's showing off the style he established with Eureka Seven.

More importantly, everything in Arc Rise Fantasia looks on par with one of the bigger-budget Tales games, at the very least. Of course, that also means there's a story brimming with clichés. The hero, an imperial soldier named L'Arc Bright Lagoon (and here I was thinking that “Luca Trulyworth” would be the most ridiculous RPG name to emerge this year) falls off an airship and meets Ryfia, a willowy priestess from a rival country. They're drawn into a plot involving captured gods and corrupt empires, dotted with every major character archetype: the clingy childhood friend, the dashing prince, the voluptuous gunslinger, and the squad of possibly evil sorceresses. The battle system has a few interesting concepts based around team-up attacks or mutual spell-casting, and it avoids implementing the Wii remote's motion controls in some pointless, gimmicky way. It's arguably the biggest RPG the Wii will get this year, as XSEED plans on releasing Arc Rise Fantasia in the summer.

ADDITIONAL, UNIDENTIFIED CHARACTERS PROMISED FOR THE KING OF FIGHTERS XII
I'm sure that many of you are displeased that The King of Fighters XII has only 20 characters, beautifully animated as they are. SNK apparently sympathizes, because producer Masaako Kukino confirmed that some more fighters will be added to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game. He didn't specify which ones or how many, so we can all speculate about that. Feel free to sound off in the forum about which single King of Fighters character you'd want to see in the game. Here's the arcade game's current lineup for reference.

I'll get the ball rolling by choosing King (left), the tuxedo-wearing bouncer and nightclub manager who kicks fireballs instead of just throwing them with her hands. Her backstory is a dripping sundae of misogyny and her early fighting-game appearances involve her top tearing off when she loses, but SNK has since grown beyond such things. In fact, King's now the most dignified woman in The King of Fighters.

One more thing, SNK: please don't pull a Soul Calibur II and put different bonus characters in each console version of The King of Fighters XII. I'm not buying another game system just for King or Rock Howard or Billy Kane.

IN BRIEF: ANOTHER ATELIER SERIES, NAMCO BANDAI SNAGS D3
Gust's Atelier franchise dates back to 1997's Atelier Marie, though the three-game Atelier Iris series is the only part of it seen in North America. Yet that won't keep Gust from making more anime-infused RPGs, and they recently announced Atelier Rorona for the PlayStation 3. The story, much like several previous Ateliers, has a novice alchemist finding her way in the world, but Rorona will actually use 3-D character models, a first for the series. It's out in Japan in late June, and NIS America may well snap it up for localization.

Namco Bandai bid on D3 Publisher about a month ago, and the purchase was finalized this Tuesday. It's not as big a deal as, say, the Square Enix merger, but it gives Namco Bandai ownership of D3's budget-label games, including Onechanbara: Bikini Zombie Etc. and Earth Defense Force 2017. So it's more like Square Enix buying Taito, I guess.

REVIEW: BOING! DOCOMODAKE DS

Developer:AQ Interactive
Publisher:Ignition Entertainment
Platform:DS
MSRP: $39.99

Boing! Docomodake DS isn't just an action-puzzle game. It's the latest step in pop-culture domination for Docomodake, a mascot created by the Japanese cell-phone company NTT Docomo. The talking mushroom has already become a cell-phone strap, a stuffed toy, and the host of several videos that explain bowing and bath houses to English-speaking tourists. The DS title is as blatant a marketing promotion as you'll see, so it helps that it's also fun.

It would seem that the Docomodake from ads and keychains is Papa Docomodake, head of a mushroom clan. Boing! Docomodake DS finds the rest of his family distracted by various forces of nature, and the Docomodake patriarch must rescue them by trudging through many side-scrolling levels. Controlled with the directional pad and stylus, Docomodake can pull off the usual platform-jumping and rolling moves, but he can also send out tiny spore versions of himself. These mini-Docomodakes have many uses: they can form stationary blocks in mid-air, stack atop each other to let Docomodake climb them, and turn into rolling, bouncing projectiles. They're the key to progressing through the game's many different stages, and Docomodake shrinks with each Mini spore he drops, thus letting him fit through tight passages and walk on delicate planks.

Boing! Docomodake DS is a puzzler at heart, and its moves rather slow compared to other action-plaftormers. The levels start as leisurely challenges and gradually rise to more inscrutable layouts, but they're always laid-back in tone. It's a relaxing game, even more so than Mario vs. Donkey Kong or Yoshi's Island (though there's less in Docomodake to interpret as drug humor, surprisingly). Navigating Docomodake to a level's exit is a matter of pushing switches, digging, shoving blocks, and using spores just right, and finding a way out is only part of the goal. Each stage has a bunch of coins and treasure chests tucked away, and you're graded on how many you find and how fast you find them. Here the game is quite rigid; even getting 100 percent of a stage's items will earn you a “C” unless you do it quick.

Docomodake's game looks no better than a basic Game Boy Advance title, but that's all the polish it needs. With his broad face, flat expression, and waddling gait, Docomodake makes a strangely likeable hero, and he's animated with endearing detail. His mushroom hat spins when he jumps, and his little spore clones show similar expressions when they bounce off enemies or get impaled on spikes. The soundtrack is unmemorable, of the same quality as you'd expect from a Docomodake commercial about using cell phones in subway cars, but at least it never grates.

Fans of intense action-platformers may find Boing! Docomodake DS too sluggish in pace, but it's an excellent match for anyone who digs character-based puzzle games in the vein of Toki Tori or Solomon's Key. It's a short, unpretentious escape, and it might just make a few players want more of this corporate-sponsored mushroom.

RELEASES FOR THE WEEK OF 3-22

FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES: ECHOES OF TIME
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: DS/Wii
MSRP: $39.99

Ring of Fates, the most recent Crystal Chronicles game to hit the DS, was a fairly enjoyable multiplayer action-RPG for anyone who bothered to try it. That's not enough for Square, though, so they've expanded the latest Chronicles game into a Wii and DS affair. Echoes of Time is arriving on both systems at once, and the two games are cross-compatible in their four-player adventures. As in Ring of Fates, players customize characters with familiar Final Fantasy accoutrements and head off on various quests and sub-quests with friends, using an inventive hold-and-target method to cast magic. Echoes of Time looks much the same on the Wii as it does on the DS, with the Wii remote filling in for the DS stylus and touch-screen. Aside from a new (sort of) story involving a kidnapped young woman and her link with a crystal, Echoes also replaces the magic-orb system from Ring of Fates with a more generic and more convenient magic-points system. Online play between Wii and DS titles might be awkward, but at least it's better than the first Crystal Chronicles, which requires a GameCube with Game Boy Advances for each player. You still owe me for a mostly unused GBA link cable, Square.
Get Excited If: You've finished any of the previous Crystal Chronicles games with three other people.

LUX-PAIN
Developer: Killaware
Publisher: Ignition
Platform: DS
MSRP: $29.99
Official Website

Lux-Pain may seem reminiscent of the Phoenix Wright games, as Lux is also a dialogue-driven adventure game with lots of investigating to be done. Yet Phoenix Wright manages to make violent crime and courtroom drama endearing silly, and Lux-Pain wants to be taken seriously. It's set in Kisaragi City, where a parasitic creature called Silent is feeding on negative emotions and driving locals to all sorts of depraved acts, with a detective agency called Fort doing its best to stem the tide. While most of Fort's members have unique powers, Atsuki Saijo is a special case: he can sense Silent's presence thanks to a power that sleeps one of his arms and flows through one of his eyes (sound familiar, Code Geass viewers?). Initially looking into a rash of suicides at a local school, Atsuki's aided by an in-depth questioning system that lets players choose not just his dialogue, but his tone as well. Atsuki also hunts for Shinen, emotional energy that bleeds into the real world and almost certainly affects the Silent parasites, and he does so by scratching the DS screen to break through a character's mental façade. He'll have a lot of characters to examine, as Lux-Pain's supporting cast includes a large number of students and Fort members, all of them potential Silent victims. Lux-Pain certainly promises some narrative complexity and unnerving elements, though the official site's character page seems to make a big deal of just how fair-skinned some female characters are.
Get Excited If: You think Phoenix Wright needs more bloody suicides and foreboding music.

ULTIMATE NINJA 4: NARUTO SHIPPUDEN
Developer: CyberConnect2
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Platform: PS2
MSRP: $39.99

Yes, it's finally time to move forward. Japanese Naruto games have acknowledged the Naruto Shippūden series for years, and now Namco Bandai is doing the same in America with the fourth Ultimate Ninja fighter for the PlayStation 2. Like the anime series, the game is set two-and-a-half years after the events of the regular Naruto games, and Naruto has now learned the fine art of toning down the orange in his wardrobe, along with several other useful ninja arts. Namco Bandai trumpets a Master Mode with RPG elements, platform-jumping and “an original narrative arc that fans won't find anywhere else,” covering Naruto's return to his home village after a long training session. I imagine that translates to “a narrative arc that doesn't matter in the slightest when it comes to the overall Naruto plot,” but there's also a sturdy fighting game here. A bunch of Shippuden characters are included in the game's lineup of 52 fighters, though the versus mode is, unlike the Wii game, limited to two players.
Get Excited If: You've ever imported a Naruto fighter just for the Shippuden cast.

POKEMON PLATINUM
Developer: GAME FREAK
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: DS
MSRP: $34.99

I admit that I have an irrational prejudice against Pokemon, as I worked part-time in a Wal-Mart electronics department during 1998 and 1999, when American children first discovered Pokemon. So I can't look at a Pikachu or Flareon or Bulbatoiseamander without remembering those days when every kid in a five-mile radius swarmed into the store, demanding Pokemon Red or Blue (or sometimes both) and crowding around the tiny Game Boy display to watch a Pokemon demo like Catholic pilgrims staring at an apple turnover with the Virgin Mary's face in it. Anyway, Pokemon Platinum is a new version of Pokemon Pearl and Diamond, in the same way that Pokemon Yellow came out a year after the Red and Blue versions of the game. Platinum has the same battle mechanics and mostly the same monster selection, with a few new creatures (including Giratina, which apparently got its own anime spin-off), new characters, and a slightly different storyline. There's also the Wi-Fi plaza, which hosts up to 20 players for various mini-games.
Get Excited If: You were one of those kids back in 1998, especially the one who kept talking about how to catch Mew.

Also shipping: The latest in the underrated Broken Sword adventure-game series, plus the PC port of Last Remnant, Square's not-quite-a-blockbuster RPG from last year.

EXTRA LIVES: MORE TALES OF AGONY

No, I couldn't stop at running just two entries from the Prinny contest. So many of you sent in vivid recollections of your most harrowing game-related moments, and I'm not about to deny you the chance to vent.

For example, Justin Wisniewski suffered much at the hands of a Californian power grid.

The most frustrating moment I ever experienced with a video game was with Final Fantasy VII. I had spent months playing, logging hundreds of hours in-game. I got all of my characters to level 99 and beat every optional boss including the arena and all of the Weapons, but I had yet to challenge Sephiroth in the northern cavern. So I worked my way all the way to the bottom of the cavern and saved.

As I watched the save bar reach around 95%, the "please do not turn off the power" warning flashing, the worst possible thing happened, the power flickered and went out for a brief moment (It was summer and I live in California, so the heat sometimes causes the power grids to fail momentarily). I gasped and froze as the power returned to normal.

I hesitated at what I might find, but then turned on my PS1 to check the damage. I held my breath. With a yell of "NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!" I confirmed my fears, for there in front of me was a completely wiped and ruined memory card that could no longer save data.

I think a tear or two rolled down my cheek when I realized not only I would I not be able to finish my battle with Sephiroth, but all of the fights saved on the memory card, my RPG specific memory card which had data from Chrono Trigger, Suikoden I & II, and RPG Maker.

After the ordeal I took a break from video games for a while, but being the gamer I am, I soon returned to all the fictional lands to restart my lost campaigns. Needless to say, since then Sephiroth has met his end at my controller numerous times.

Meanwhile, Jenn Iovanovici offered her recollections of Ninja Gaiden II and the cinematic oeuvre of Michael Dudikoff.

I still remember the summer of 1990 when my mom finally caved in and took me and my brother to the local TOYS R US to purchase the original NES. She also agreed to get us one game. My brother and I had our hearts set on Super Mario Bros. 3, but to our misfortune it was sold out.

However, my brother was raving about a game he had read about in a recent issue of Nintendo Power (like all good gamers, we had a subscription). That game was Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos. We hadn't even played the first installment and our familiarity with ninjas was limited to the first two American Ninja movies (which we absolutely loved), but the box art was incredible. We couldn't wait to try it out, but not before playing through and completing the Super Mario Bros. game that came packaged with the system. After experiencing the sweet taste of success that comes with finishing a well-balanced and challenging game, Ninja Gaiden II was, as my brother accurately pointed out, like a kick in the nuts (or what girls would equate as a punch in the boobies). Here's approximately 300 words on why Ninja Gaiden II is the most torturous gaming experience I've ever endured:

Ninja Gaiden II never felt like a game that creatively challenged the player through effective level design or enemy placement; rather it seemed as though it personally wanted to make the player suffer. The snow stage (Stage 2- 2) where a quick change in wind direction could easily throw Ryu into any one of the numerous pits was grueling. For clearing that, players are rewarded with a night stage (Stage 3-1) where the player could only see the level when lightning flashed at random intervals.

And while the enemies were visible, the numerous pits were not. The pits were the most frustrating thing about Ninja Gaiden II. They were littered all over the place and it seemed that the game just had fun torturing players and figuring out different ways to throw them into a pit. A seemingly safe jump would be rendered impossible when an enemy hawk would suddenly swoop in, stun Ryu, and send him falling to his death in a pit.

Then there were the occasional enemies placed right in front of ledges who would throw rocks in Ryu's direction as he approached a pit. If the player didn't have any shuriken available to take out the enemy from a distance, how could they possibly hope to clear the pit? And rather than allowing players to simply jump down to lower screens, players actually had to negotiate often tricky jumps onto lower walls and climb down. Should they be hit by an enemy or projectile while descending then, you guessed it, instant death. Most the enemies were as fast and agile as Ryu himself and would often spawn behind Ryu and chase him throughout stages, thus removing any possibility of the player feeling like a badass ninja. Being a seven year old girl at the time, it's really quite amazing I didn't get turned off of games for good.

I never did get past the fourth level. I saw my brother get psychologically destroyed trying to finish the game. Luckily, I finally received Super Mario Bros. 3 as a birthday gift a month later (it single-handedly won me back towards gaming). I guess if I could take one good thing out of playing Ninja Gaiden II, it was that it prepared me for other challenging games. I got Megaman 3 as a Christmas gift that winter and, while many people think the Megaman series is tough, it's got nothing on Ninja Gaiden. I was able to clear Megaman 3, no sweat.

If "Garath" ever sees Megaman X2 again, I think he's going to punch that game in the face.

This may not count but I'm going to try anyway. Game: Megaman X2. Friends and I were playing it together, and one of the things we loved to do was find all the hidden power-up capsules. We had found every one of them except the armor upgrade. Well after the bosses were dead, we kept going back into the levels to search for it and pick up anything else we had left. Fast forward two or three hours and there is just NO sign of this capsule. So finally, using a password I got from a code book, we beat the game with all the items.

Determined to find it on our own, I call up my only friend with the Internet at the time and ask him to look it up. Tells us the stage. We thank him and go to work. STILL can't find the damn thing for the life of us.

Another hour and a half has gone by and I decide I'm going to call the friend again and find out the EXACT point in the level the stupid capsule is. Finally get him about a half hour later and he tells us exactly where and what weapon we have to use to get it.

We do this. Still can't find it.

Frustrated beyond all hell that this game is TAUNTING us. I'm sitting on the weapon select screen looking where the item WOULD be if we had it. When I notice something and SCREAM out at how stupid I've been. After cries of what, I highlight the helmet ability that lets you find HIDDEN AREAS and ask my friends what that is and what it does. They join me in my screams of shame.

Five minutes later we have the armor upgrade.

Daryl Green's secret, emasculating shame is now online for everyone to read. At least he wasn't one of those guys who thought Ariel was hot well into his adulthood.

I'm going to preface this by saying that I am and have been male for all of my life.

The most frustrating experience I have ever had with any video game in my life was a little label game for the NES called The Little Mermaid. I was about nine at the time. I was sleeping over at a friend's house, and his little sister came to us to help her beat a certain level in that most horrid of games that still haunts my nightmares with its terrifying 3D (for its time) movement and unforgiving yet disturbingly cute enemies. The two of us spent almost the entire night trying to put our Mario-honed skills into overcoming that one single level. Hours of frustration culminated in us having to replace two controllers after unceremoniously throwing them against the floor and, almost, the entire system after one particularly aggravating defeat.

We never did beat that game. I think to this day, if either of us tried to play it we would be unable to win, although that might have more to do with unfortunate flashbacks to a time when the game over screen's small cartoon crab caused us to question our masculinity and taunted us with his (imagined) Jamaican accent.

For further proof that the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game gave a generation minor post-traumatic stress disorder, we turn to Jeremiah Yang's story.

This game still haunts me to this very day.... especially since I downloaded it again on WiiWare. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has always been one of the most frustrating games for me to play. Honestly, I think I play it worse now than I did when I was little...

So many factors in this game just drove me crazy. The enemies felt no pain and they just kept coming at you. It would have at least been nice if you could push them back a little. The constantly respawning baddies were a nightmare; excessive even in old school standards. But then there were the dreaded jumps. You'd have to be perfect when you timed them sometimes. Add the mean/horrible bad guy placements and the jumps got even more annoying. Honestly, I never thought I hated a game so much by the second level. The toughest part was just trying to get to the top of the dam, but that short jump where you were closer to the ceiling JUST before the exit?! It was just agonizing. Combine that with the respawning baddies and it turned into pure torture sometimes. And how did the level reward you when you finally made the jump? With electrical fields and killer seaweed. I not sure why it didn't bother me back then but watching your character drown like that is a bit disturbing now.

But at the same time, it was just a cool game. Being able to play all 4 turtles and smash most of the actual baddies on the show was epic. Although I don't remember the giant bug/cricket thingies, walking fire guy, and alien looking bird things. Plus the game was dark in general overtone. I think it was more similar to the comic and the first movie than it was to the cartoon and second and third movies.

Now that I think about it... is it weird I'm trying to win a game that is supposed to share the same characteristics that I hated about the TMNT game? I might be a closet masochist or something... I mean, I downloaded Altered Beast, too. Honestly, what's with Level 3? And the Bear? Anger... pure... blinding. anger.

I once found an American Gladiators cartridge that was covered in dried mud. It didn't work, and Kyle E. explained why that was a good thing.

My frustration comes from the NES days. I was just a young lad playing American Gladiators when I came upon The Wall. Remembering the show made me think I was in for a race to the top of a fairly straightforward rock wall. How wrong I was!

This game decided to make a rock wall into a horrifying death trap with gladiators popping out from every corner and charging you to pull you down. Luckily the AI was stupid and only went straight towards you regardless of huge holes in the wall between you, but more often than not I failed to move quick enough due to overly difficult controls and their suicide rushes were successful. I saw our awful, pixelated, flipping bodies fall to the ground more times than I could count.

Through memorization of the gladiators' locations and slow navigation of the tricky parts of the treacherous wall itself, I managed to finally beat The Wall! Then I went on and beat the other 4 events that are much easier comparatively... only to find out you have to repeat all five events on a harder difficulty. After checking the other events only to find out the only difference was a different pattern or something similar, I tackled the wall once more. For The Wall, however, I found "harder" means an ENTIRELY NEW WALL! You have to go through the set of 5 events 4 separate times before getting to the end (which I NEVER managed to get to) where I hear you get to face the Eliminator from the show. I recently watched a video of the Eliminator (with fireballs?) and it looks like I'd still never beat it without an emulator's save capabilities.

Some games just hate children, and Alex Liu had the proof.

I can say with pride that I have been a gamer for more than a decade, dating back to when I was 6. Or 7. I can't seem to recall much about that violent time known as "childhood." What I can remember is watching my cousin playing the SNES to the tune of hundreds of skulls being crushed under a several-ton gorilla while we were at my grandparents' home. After playing the first level of Donkey Kong Country a ton of times, I discovered my love of video games. This love inspired me to get my own SNES and, later, a Game Boy Color.

My Game Boy further allowed me to discover my love of THE venerable Pokemon, but my first real foray into video games was the GBC game Bugs Bunny: Crazy Castle 3. This licensed platformer involved traipsing through levels by passing through doors as Bugs Bunny, while being pursued by a host of enemy Looney Tunes characters who would kill you with one touch.

Of course, being so used to the jumping mechanics of Donkey Kong Country, I was shocked stupid that you weren't able to jump in BBCC3. And, being the stupid 7-year-old that I was, I couldn't comprehend that there was no jump button, which eventually lead to me throwing a fit while Bugs died a thousand horrible deaths, all courtesy of Daffy Duck. This bitch-fit, needless to say, did not go unnoticed by my mom, who gave me such a verbal beating that I regretted ever buying the damn handheld. I lost it later on in my years, but I have always remembered that game. Only because of how close I was to getting my ass handed to me by mom that day.

Finally, both fate and a video game conspired to crush Dessa Gepichu's ambitions in Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan.

Ouendan. The original. Also known as why I hate the song “Ready Steady Go!”

I'd played the game off of friends before I got my DS, so I breezed through Easy mode. Normal mode gave me a bit of trouble, but I passed it quickly. Hard mode wasn't as easy, but finally, I made it to the last song. To RSG. And failed. And failed again. And again. And again. After trying for at least 2-3 weeks and getting NOWHERE, I finally got fed up with the game and put it up. For a few months.

Flash forward to October. I pull out the game, after months of not touching it, and try to get through RSG. I pass the final checkpoint (which I'd never even gotten to before), and then…the battery died. It took everything I had not to chuck the DS.

A week or so later, once I'd calmed down (and made sure the DS was fully charged), I tried again. After multiple failures… I beat it! I finally beat it! I was stoked! Sure, I sucked at Very Hard mode, and couldn't beat anything there, but I beat RSG on Hard!

Flash forward again, to December 26th. Yeah, the day after Christmas. I had my DS in my locker at work. After I got off, I went to take it out of my bag, and it was gone. Along with most of my GBA games. And all of my hopes of EVER getting further in Ouendan.

And those are all of the entries I can run this week. I wish I could post every one of them, except possibly the ones that misinterpreted “frustrating” in the lewdest possible way.


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