Joe Z’s Retro Gaming Adventure

I’ve spent some time listening and seeing others play modern video games, and I realized that I don’t care. Most modern games look incredible, however, they also appear to be incredibly time-consuming. Which is good for some, not so much for me. One of my favorite things about the games of my youth was that I could pop in the cartridge and play. One of my favorite quick plays was the now 20-year-old pal of mine, Mario Kart 64.

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Let the adventure begin! MK64, if you don’t know it, consists of eight playable Nintendo characters, four cups, and four levels of difficulty (you must unlock the fourth, which is all of the tracks with turns reversed at 150cc). To start I messed around with the Time Trials taking turns with each character. Mario/Luigi are the most balanced, Peach, Toad, and Yoshi are quick, while Wario, Bowser, and DK are strong and not easily bumped. I found myself preferring Yoshi, when I was a young buck I’d go with Toad or Donkey Kong. Now off to the races!

 

 

Mushroom Cup:

This cup features Luigi Raceway, Moo Moo Farm, Koopa Troopa Beach, and the Kalimari Desert. It’s the basic introduction with no obstacles too difficult to avoid and obvious secrets to go after. If you can get the timing down for the starting line burst you’ll be able to win every race here with ease, especially the Kalimari Desert (you can get by the train while all other drivers stop giving you an uncatchable lead).

Best Track: Koopa Troopa Beach – it’s fun with secrets and shortcuts!

Lame Track: Moo Moo Farm – I see more groundhogs, that the game info has listed as porcupines, than cows.

Flower Cup:

Now we’ve got some more obstacles and sharp turns. The lesson on Toad’s Turnpike is to dodge, duck, dip, dive, and…dodge. It’s a significant difference from you Mushroom Cup cruising experience, you can fall off ledges, get smacked around by cars, and crushed by chocolate boulders. Playtime is over, and if you can’t handle the Flower Cup, than don’t bother going forward. Actually if you do 50cc or 100cc the game makes it easier for you by having fewer obstacles and barriers so you don’t slip and fall because you don’t understand that the R button gives you the gift of drift.

Best Track: Mario Raceway – it’s a grinding battle track whether you’re playing against friends or the system.

Lame Track: Frappe Snowland – more like Crappe Snowland, am I right? Yes, yes I am. Compared to the other tracks, this one is a basic bitch with an easy cheat. There’s a glitch in the game you can try that allows you to skip a lap, you race two instead of three.

Star Cup:

As you can see there is another cup after the Star Cup, but seriously, I found this to be the most difficult of all. Wario Stadium is the second longest track in the game, Sherbet Land has some penguins belly sliding and coming after you, Royal Raceway is a break with sharp turns, and FUCK BOWSER’S CASTLE. What a bitch-a-roony-doony that course is. I had a rage building inside me from my struggles with the course. Sure, I figured it out, but this track can go to hell and die.

Best Track: Wario Stadium – it’s a fun bumpy ride.

Lame Track: Bowser’s Castle – Fuck Bowser’s Castle.

Special Cup:

Here we go with what we thought would be the hardest of them all really isn’t so bad after all, that’s not true, it’s still a pain in ye olde nards. Funny thing, when I first played this game 20 years ago, I was terrified of Rainbow Road, in fact it’s the easiest track in the Special Cup, also the longest track in the game. Brutal for the beginner, the best for the experienced MK64 players. The Yoshi Valley will spin your head, in case you forgot there are multiple routes and you can’t see who the leaders are. It’s a good time, as well as a fun finish to the game if you raced the cups in order.

Best Track: D.K.’s Jungle Parkway – That big jump! Go off the track and get pelted with rocks by “restless natives” according to the game’s guide.

Lame Track: Banshee Boardwalk – the near replica to the SNES Mario Kart’s “Ghost Valley” track. It’s boring compared to most other tracks, especially in this cup.

That’s all folks! What game should I try next? What are your favorite tracks from MK64? Tweet @JoeyHAHAs and let me know!

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Talking Nerdy, Ep. 230: Elephant Seals Against Fascism

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Superbowl LI and the speculation over Lady Gaga‘s inevitable Half Time Show disaster / Shamir is back! / Turbo Tax‘s disturbing Humpty Dumpty commercial / Checking in to He Will Not Divide Us / Frantic NYU Professor goes full-blown-insane / Pocahontas loses a whole crowd in an airport / SNL lampoons Sean Spicer with a mannish Melissa McCarthy / Verne Troyer does an unboxing / Review Brah gets deep into the meats / Jose Can Say So!

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The Second Time Around: Re-Watching Star Wars Episodes I, II, and III

The second trilogy of Star Wars continues to be loathed, loved, or tolerated. I was in the loathing group, however, after years of debate, a new trilogy beginning, and new side story movies, it was time to give these films another change with an open mind. Before I begin we will get this out of the way; every single Star Wars movie since the original trilogy is stuffed with reference to the original trilogy. Those sorts of things do not bother me as they do some haters. Onward…

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Episode I – The Phantom Menace

phantom-menaceThis was literally the first time I have watched this movie from start to finish in the 21st century. I had seen it in theaters twice in 1999. Honestly, I was surprised with how much I enjoyed it this time around. I got over the silliness of the Gungans by realizing the Gungans are no different than the Ewoks. I’m guessing that is what Lucas was going for. My distaste for the movie was the contradiction of the new character Qui-Gon Jinn and the original trilogy. Liam Neeson is brilliant, that’s all I can say about that. This film is surprisingly charming compared to my initial thoughts of it years ago. In fact, I wouldn’t be upset if Snoke is revealed to be Chancellor Valorum in the new trilogy after watching this. We get a sweet lightsaber battle, and Darth Maul looks cool and has a sweet double lightsaber. I’ll take it.

Episode II – Attack of the Clones

attack-of-the-clonesI find everything in this movie more believable than any form of spark between Anakin and Padme. The special effects are impressive for its era and we were given more Jedi, more lightsaber fights, and little boy version of fan favorite, Boba Fett. The story is good, the love story is poorly written, and Hayden Christensen won a well-deserved Golden Raspberry for worst actor. I was trying to think of what the problem was. The dialogue is awful and has no charisma. Did Lucas make Christensen portray Anakin as if he were stale bread? It really kills the movie for me, and I cringed my way through. Luckily there is the Dooku fight, and in case you thought it was difficult to speak like Yoda for an extended period of time, I’ve got news for you, so does Yoda. Watch it again, Yoda does Yoda speak, and at certain parts does normal speak. This error does not happen again in the final installment. Attack of the Clones sits at the bottom of the barrel for me in terms of Star Wars, and I am including Ewoks: The Battle for Endor in that statement. The action is fun, the story line is good, and the tale of love between a young Anakin and Padme´ is as flat as month old soda. The rise of Palpatine and Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan were able to get me through this.

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

revenge-of-the-sithNo, Hayden Christensen is not any better in this than he was in the previous film. Once again, a well deserved Golden Raspberry for him for worst actor. As Natalie Portman and Ewan McGregor deliver with passion the return from Christensen could be compared to a high school drama club play. The completion of Palpatine/Darth Sidious’s plan to become Emperor is incredibly satisfying. The killing of the Jedi is sad, and Jimmy Smits is one of my new favorite side characters in the Star Wars universe as Bail Organa. It is the best film of the prequel trilogy; it has great action, Chewbacca, and Hayden Christensen’s voice being turned in to James Earl Jones. I always complained about that final “no” at the end of this movie, and we can thank Rogue One for saving the day for not making that Vader’s final line on the silver screen. One thing that caught my eye, was that final shot of Vader walking to the Emperor, and the two of them stare out at the Death Star. That’s actually really fucking sweet, and this raps up in a way that makes me want to watch the original trilogy immediately. Again we get kick ass lightsaber battles, and the completion of a really good story line that wasn’t properly executed due to the over controlling overlord George Lucas. It’s his baby, not mine, but I love it like it’s my own.

leg-chopAll in all, watching these three closer together I was able to appreciate the Palpatine/Sidious story more, and that’s because I didn’t really think much of it the first time around because I knew it was coming. Every move he makes maneuvers that create the Empire. Will I be watching them again any time soon? Probably not, I only watch the original trilogy once a year. I need to get my hands on that Topher Grace edit of the three movies in to one. If condensed in to one movie I’d imagine it would be fantastic.

Z