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Why Are Iconic Songs Missing in The Official Final Fantasy Digital Albums? March 15, 2023

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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For years, gamers have held the musical score of the Final Fantasy games in high regard. The series composer, Nobuo Uematsu, deserves major credit for that honor. There isn’t a gamer anywhere that wouldn’t stop and recognize when they hear Prelude, or tear up when they hear Aerith’s Theme. Meanwhile, Final Fantasy VIII’s Man with a Machine Gun is a regular song on my workout playlist and Final Fantasy X’s Blitz Off is my driving jam. I guess you could say the soundtrack to Final Fantasy is the soundtrack to my daily life, it is just iconic. Anyways, I could go on listing all the great songs composed for the series over the years, but that’s not what you’re here to read about.

For all the love gamers have for this great music, there is not much Square has done to capitalize on that love. In the US, it was difficult to find official music releases for Final Fantasy games. Music CDs imported from Japan will play fine in US stereos, but they are historically sold at high prices (about double what we pay in the US), and international customers are required to pay additional fees (shipping, import) to obtain them. In the US, you could say the best option to get Final Fantasy game soundtracks is to purchase them through a digital music store such as iTunes. This has been a great option for long-time fans that Square Enix has only recently made available, and while the albums are typically priced about the same as they would be if they had been purchased in Japan (around $24 US), it is usually due to the fact that the soundtracks contain enough songs that would back in the day require releasing the album on at least two or more CDs.

The problem with buying a Final Fantasy album on iTunes is that unless you go through the provided set list track by track and compare it to the setlist included in a game like Theatrhythm Final Bar Line, there’s no guarantee EVERY song from the game will be included in the official soundtrack. I first learned about this issue after finishing Final Bar Line on my Nintendo Switch this past weekend. Many of the game’s tracks, some of which had been locked behind the Deluxe Pass, are not included in their respective game’s official album release. To say I was not happy to discover this was an understatement. If I’m paying for a game soundtrack, no matter how good the game is or how much I care about if. I expect it to have EVERY song from the game that I remember, especially if they’re charging double the price for it.

So, what is missing from the major releases? I think the biggest one I’ve found to be missing was the iconic Final Fantasy VIII song Eyes on Me. I know the song has had its detractors, particularly from the one known as Spoony, but it was a major song that tied into the love theme of the game. It also has continued to be included in the game’s multiple remasters and rereleases over the years and has been included in several Theatrhythm games over the years.

Sadly, neither the English nor the Japanese versions used in the game could be found in the game’s official digital soundtrack release. This is a major omission, as it is a known fact that Eyes on Me was heavily imported by FF8 fans back when it was new, and has become nearly as iconic a game song as Simple and Clean from Kingdom Hearts.

The next major song omission I’m going to talk about is only going to be recognized by the international Final Fantasy audience, and that’s the omission of My Hands from Final Fantasy XIII. This incredible song, performed by Leona Lewis, was added by Square’s international localization team. It is a heartbreaking song chosen to play during a bittersweet moment of triumph, and in the US it plays during the game’s final cutscene.

While many critics, particularly MarzGurl, don’t consider this a Final Fantasy song due to the fact it was added by the localization team and isn’t in the original Japanese release, I absolutely do for two reasons. The first is the reason I already mentioned, the second is the fact the song was heavily pushed in the game’s marketing. My Hands would get used in FFXIII‘s television commercials. So, in the US at least, this song is iconically intertwined with the game. Take a look at this official trailer for yourself and tell me this is not one of the best game trailers of all time.

Moving on from the PS3 generation, let’s now talk about the last generation. In the lead up for Final Fantasy XV, Square localized an HD remaster of a Japan-only PSP exclusive, Final Fantasy Type-0. Like most players, I became aware of this game when the HD version was released and bought it to check out the demo for Final Fantasy XV that was included. However, after I was done with the demo, I found a cool game that was paced like the PSP games I loved. In Final Curtain Call, I discovered the soundtrack included the song Zero. It turned out this is a licensed track performed by the band Bump of Chicken and while there was a major physical release for the game’s album back in 2011, the current digital album release does not include Zero. What a shame.

And let’s not forget that as of the time this editorial is being posted, NO complete Final Fantasy X-2 soundtrack album exists for digital purchase on iTunes. Because of that, there is no option to get ANY original track from that game which essentially revolved around music and pop diva life in general. That means Real Emotion, We’re The Gullwings or my favorite Final Fantasy song, 1000 Words, cannot be purchased on iTunes at this time. That’s right, neither the English nor the Japanese versions of the climatic song, which was used in one of the best cutscenes produced in any FF game, can be legally purchased for digital download in the US. If you don’t know why I’m so upset about this, I’m going to put the scene the song is used in below just so you can watch it for yourself.

Some of these omissions could be chocked up to a rights issues. I do not accept that answer, especially given the high price of the albums in the current digital market. If they wanted to stop people from buying them outside of the album, iTunes does include the option for publishers to mark ALBUM ONLY tracks. Heck, the Theatrhythm games haven’t been able to include the English version of 1000 Words either (despite the fact the US version of the scene it was used in was separately created for English-speaking regions and is the version everyone in the US and Europe remembers).

My final disappointment is with the fact I haven’t seen a single Theatrhythm game include Leona Lewis’s My Hands from Final Fantasy XIII or the Florence and the Machine cover version of Stand By Me used in Final Fantasy XV. That said, Stand By Me can be found for sale on iTunes as a special singles release and is FANTASTIC!

Theatrhythm Final Curtain Call is out now for Switch and PS4.


PLEASE: Stop Putting Coffee Tables in Your Living Rooms, Gamers Need The Space February 4, 2023

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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I grew up at a time when a furnished family room would include several essential components. This was typically the room which included the largest television in the house so everything in it revolved around the TV. Because of that, it would be typical to find a big couch (or sectional) and several bookshelves for print, music or movie storage flanking the opposite walls. Most people take for granted that while the TV would be the focus of the room, it would not be the center of it. If you look at the majority of home photos of people in their living rooms over the past fifty years, you’ll likely find a giant unused table somewhere between their couch and their television. This giant object was the coffee table, and I honestly can’t remember living in a home that didn’t have one.

For a while, things were good, as the coffee table could provide benefits for a home television room. The coffee table allowed a communal location for people to leave their beverages while sitting on their couches, as well as a communal resting place for things like the remote control or a magazine. In the days before on screen guides, television viewers relied on the weekly newspaper or TV Guide magazine to get the times for upcoming programming, so having a place to put that information was useful. Later on as this became less essential, it became trendy for people to decorate their coffee tables with interesting hardcover art books, which created the sub genre of art book many to this day call the Coffee Table Book.

However, things were not always good with the coffee table. Having an enormous THING in the middle of open space can cut down on the amount of useable space in the room, preventing more people from sitting or standing in it. It could also be a trip hazard, as most coffee tables are only knee-high and someone with low visibility could easily walk into it and injure themselves. In a time when remote controls required a point-to-point IR beam to function, the coffee table would be a common barrier between the television and the couch. Also, the vast majority of them were made of substandard material, as no matter how expensive it was, or how beautiful it looked in the showroom floor, there was no way of knowing if doing something as simple as putting a wet drink on it would destroy it. It is also too low to sit around comfortably, making it pointless to sit around to eat or play games at.

While it had its issues, for the longest time, they were considered minor and the coffee table continued on. In 2007, the Nintendo Wii was released, which was the first mass market gaming console that primarily used a motion-based controller. That meant the Wii required an unobstructed view between the player and the television sensor just to function. Previously, the coffee table’s worst transgression was the remote blocking. Since a Wiimote used very similar technology to what was found in a standard remote, unlike a remote it required precise pointing and direction to work correctly, having an obstruction between the couch and television started to become less practical. Also, games were no longer becoming passive experiences people could play from their couches. The Wiimote was just the first in what became a massive motion control arms race, with some requiring controllers, like the PlayStation Move or Joy-Con, and others like the Kinect, simply requiring unobstructed views between the sensor and the player.

What were the consequences of this motion control arms race? It meant a fundamental change in the structure of how gamers organized their gaming rooms. In the days of wired gaming controllers, it was common for players to sit close to the tv to play their games, as they could only sit as far back as their cables would extend. When wireless game controllers became standard for the PS3 and Xbox 360’s controllers, range was expanded and games could be played anywhere in a room, and obstructions were now meaningless. Following the mass adoption of motion controls came the creation of virtual sport and exercise games, which absolutely necessitated an open space to play. This continues on, as even my Apple Watch and Meta Quest Pro have the ability to track physical activities and can get you to use your body for everything from yoga to dance. Now, with motion games, you not only HAD to sit at a further distance from your television, any physical obstruction between you and the television could prevent your gestures from registering with the game. In the gaming space, this can be the difference between win or lose.

In the past two years we’ve seen a wide adoption of home Virtual Reality (VR) platforms. The first generations of these headsets required a wired connection to your PC or game console, as well as an external sensor for head and controller tracking. I can tell you from experience, playing a game in these conditions required not just a lot more open space around the player, but for the user to be a further than normal distance away from the screen. Otherwise, the tracking sensors would have trouble capturing player movement accurately. Having a VR headset on is tantamount to essentially playing a game blindfolded, and it is very easy for a user to lose track of their real-world position while in an active game. Nowadays, stand-alone VR headsets do exist, and many of them will allow you to set external boundaries upon startup, but you MUST have a reasonable amount of open space around you while you play to have a comfortable gaming experience.

So now that you have a better understanding of the current state of what is required to be a modern day gamer, you can see that space is important, and obstructions can be disastrous. So I ask again, why would someone want to limit both of these options just to have an obsolete piece of furniture, offering functions that can be replicated far more conveniently with other objects, in their way? What purpose do coffee tables honestly serve in the year 2023 other than to fill space? Even their original purposes, a communal space to keep your beverage, are no longer practical, as liquid easily damages most of them, and a simple end table next to the couch can hold your drink and your remote control just as conveniently. Heck, most couches made in the last fifty years have cup holders built in them! (ED NOTE: There are a lot of traditionalists who refuse to buy couches with cup holders out of some obsolete sense of aesthetic. Their opinions on the matter are wrong). Heck, due to its low height, the coffee table is useless for even non-electronic gaming, as most pen and paper or board gamers (who may prefer the name tabletop gamers) I’m aware of prefer to play on kitchen or dining room tables.

In the year 2023 VR and Motion controls are mainstream, and while it may no longer be essential for external sensors to be placed in your gaming space, having a wide open space to play games is now the required standard. This should be the beginning of the end of the coffee table, which only exists in the modern day to take up that essential gaming space. The books and magazines that they were meant to hold can be better stored in bookshelves. The remotes or drinks they were meant to hold can be better placed and more accessible on an end table or built-in armrest. So can we all agree the coffee table needs to go? I promise I won’t come for your floor lamps next.

VR Games That Should Come to Meta Quest 2/Pro January 17, 2023

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Since the beginning of the new year, we’ve been immersing ourselves in Virtual Reality, particularly using the Meta Quest Pro. This is a VR headset that can operate independently and has a full catalog of downloadable apps and games similar to a smartphone or tablet. This, coupled with its controllers ability to stay connected with a full range of motion makes it the VR headset I’ve always dreamed of using!

However, the Meta Quest line of headsets are not directly compatible with legacy VR Titles, including some of the first major VR titles of the platform that literally wrote the book on what is possible with modern-day VR.

Before we get started we will admit most of these games can be played on the Quest 2 or Pro with a cable link, but they would still require connecting the headset to a high-end gaming PC. After having played through Iron Man VR on Quest Pro, I will say that for VR to succeed to its ultimate possibilities, it should be able to function completely without wires.

Doctor Who: The Runaway – Starting light on this one. This free title is a real-time 360 movie which serves as a canonical episode of Doctor Who. Following the 13th Doctor (played by Jodie Whittaker) trying to figure out how YOU landed in the TARDIS.

Okay I’m a bit biased on this one since it can be played for free on YouTube, but I still think it’s a shame a native port hasn’t come to Quest yet. The Quesr 2/Pro should absolutely be able to replicate these graphics.

Half-Life: Alyx – Valve’s only Half-Life game of the past decade and a half, Half-Life Alyx told the backstory of the fan-favorite character Alyx and showed what life in City 17 was like before the return of the One Free Man.

Since it was released as a Steam VR exclusive I haven’t been able to play it myself (which as someone who is still waiting for Half-Life 2 Episode 3 is a shame). However, this trailer seriously has helped tide me over until it (hopefully) eventually gets announced.

Batman: Arkham VR – This time, YOU ARE BATMAN. Set in the Batman: Arkham universe, which have produced some of the best games ever made, Batman: Arkham VR let’s you explore what it’s like to wear the cowl and be the world’s greatest detective.

This game released on PSVR, Steam VR and Oculus Rift. How it hasn’t come to the Meta Quest is beyond my comprehension.

Psychonauts: In the Rhombus of Ruin – Tbis was a big deal when it was first announced as it was the first ever game that followed up on the plot thread from the original Psychonauts we had no idea there would be a full sequel to the fan favorite original game.

I will say this was the first VR game I played back when I plugged in my PSVR for the first time. It SOLD me on VR as an enduring concept. While it was first announced as a PSVR exclusive, the game has since been ported to Steam VR and Rift. The issue is since this game was released Double Fine was purchased by Microsoft, and it might make development of ports difficult.

Wilson’s Heart – This was developed by one of my (at the time) favorite independent studios, Twisted Pixel, who fell into my heart after producing Comic Jumper and LocoCycle. After being bought by Microsoft, the studio produced Wilson’s Heart, a send off of classic horror films. Oh and did I mention it included the voice work of Peter Weller?

As I mentioned earlier, I LOVE the work of Twisted Pixel and have wanted to play this game for years. It was a huge release for the Rift back in the day and cemented what could be possible with modern VR controllers. No idea why Meta hasn’t ported it to their newest systems yet.

So those are just a few of the games I’d like to see rereleased for the Quest 2/Quest Pro. Are there any I missed? Post a comment below with what you would like to see?

Mind of Maniac – iiRcade Gold Sells Out, Will More Be Coming? October 29, 2022

Posted by Maniac in Editorials, Game News, Mind of Maniac, Site Videos.
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I think we’re breaking news on this one. For arcade-enthusiast gamers who don’t have large homes (or ones who do which have already filled up their space with existing home arcade cabinets) a multicade system, which can host multiple games on one cabinet, is a great deal. I’ve been keeping my eyes on the iiRcade platform for about half a year, as it offers multiple preloaded games in memory, and offer the feature to buy more games online.

Unfortunately, even though iiRcade’s website lists the new Gold Edition of their multicade arcade console as still in preorder, they have been shipping for some time. I’m fact, iiRcade recently announced light gun support is coming to the system. Since that announcement was made, iiRcade Gold Editions have listed on their website as sold out. iiRcade has made no official mention of this, and no arcade enthusiast channel I’ve seen online has mentioned this as well.

I’ve really been interested in iiRcade for some time and hope to be able to get the Dragon’s Lair Gold Edition in the future. So here’s my thoughts about the iiRcade, and my questions about the future of the platform.

Stadia is Dead September 29, 2022

Posted by Maniac in Editorials, Game News.
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This official statement has just been posted on the official Google Blog. They are ending Stadia support in January 2023. Google says they will refund all hardware purchases made through the Google Store.

I have to admit, this is disappointing but hardly unsurprising news. In my opinion, a streaming game service will only be a good consumer option if sold exclusively on a subscription basis. That way, in the event the service ceases, the user will simply stop being charged their monthly subscription fee. Stadia sold entire games at full retail price through their service. That means those full priced games can no longer function in any way once Stadia is shut down. Meanwhile, anyone who bought a copy of the same game at the same price on a different platform or online service will still be able to play. This is the fear most users had when Google announced Stadia. Their fears were clearly merited.

As someone who was an initial adopter of Stadia, I’m assuming the Google Chromecast Ultra I got with my package will still continue to function. I’m also assuming the Stadia controller will continue to function as a PC gaming controller if connected over its USB cable.

Week of Neo-Geo – What Games Should Come to the Next MVSX? September 16, 2022

Posted by Maniac in Editorials, Uncategorized, Week of Neo-Geo.
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I hope you all don’t feel the Neo-Geo died after the release of the Hyper Neo-Geo 64. While SNK has had its restructurings, bankruptcies and buyouts, the original games for the platform live on through various means. In fact, two years ago the company UNICO released the MVSX, a bartop arcade machine that comes packed with fifty classic Neo-Geo games. Let’s take a closer look at it in glorious 4K HDR.

The MVSX comes preloaded with slightly over one third of the total catalog of Neo-Geo games including Fatal Fury, King of Fighters and Metal Slug. However, if Wikipedia is to be believed, one hundred and forty-three total games were released for the platform (although that list does include games released on the AES and Neo-Geo CD). UNICO did ship the MVSX with a rear USB port, but that is only for system updates and bug fixes. Sadly, they won’t be offering new games for sale online, at least not to add to the current MVSX platform.

With nearly one hundred games from the Neo-Geo catalog missing in action, what are home arcade enthusiasts to expect for the future? It’s my opinion that UNICO may have decided to hold off offering digital downloads of new games on the MVSX so they can instead rerelease newer revisions of the MVSX with an alternate selection of games. If you remember anything about the Neo-Geo that I’ve taught you this week, it’s that the strength of the platform laid in the fact that the onboard games could be swapped out. With that in mind, there’s nothing holding back the opportunity for UNICO to release a second generation MVSX with an entirely different selection of games.

The best part of this is a potential new release could still be compatible with the existing stool and shelf, allowing players who already own them the opportunity to reuse their existing ones if they wish.

So with that all out of the way, let’s get to the big question then. What games do I think should be included in a next Neo-Geo home arcade release?

Just want to put a disclaimer here that this article is just being written for fun. At this time a successor to the MVSX has not been announced. This is also by no means a complete list and you’re welcome to post your own opinions in the comment section below.

Puzzle Bobble – The MVSX launched with a great amount of fighting titles, but for the life of me I couldn’t think of a single puzzle game that was installed on it. I know it sounds weird to play a puzzle game on an arcade since they are so common on smartphones and tablets these days, but I can assure you back in the day it was common and this is considered the best game on the platform. The game had several sequels, ALL of which could be bundled together in the next machine’s menu.

Shock Troopers (2nd Squad) – The first Shock Troopers has been my absolute favorite game to play on the MVSX, and it’s a shame that the sequel wasn’t included alongside it. You and a second player play as a select member of a squad of commandos in a run and gun side scroller.

Neo Turf Masters – Only one golf game released with the MVSX and unfortunately it wasn’t the specific golf game everyone remembers. Neo Turf Masters is considered the best golf game released for the platform and there’s a heavy demand online to rerelease or I will not question.

Cyber-Lip – I grew up loving cyberpunk shooting games and this classic run and gun game is a perfect example of that. Most people have compared its gameplay to Contra 3 but describe its plot as an adaptation of The Terminator. Sign me up!

Last Resort – A classic side scrolling space shooter on par with several Konami classics in the 16-Bit generation. Would be a perfect addition to a second release.

Riding Hero – The MVSX has no racing games on it, despite the fact several were developed for the original Neo-Geo. Riding Hero was SNK’s answer to SEGA’s HANG ON. The rules are simple, keep your motorcycle on the track and don’t let other players overtake you.

League Bowling – It’s bowling. My wife would not allow me to leave this off the list. It isn’t a perfect bowling simulation (Neo-Geo has no trackball, just joysticks and buttons) but it has a great art style with expressive characters. It also was the only game that took advantage of the Neo-Geo’s ability to link up other cabinets to allow 8-player games, making it a fantastic contender if UNICO intends to ship a machine that allows online play.

Most Requested Home Arcade Game Releases July 7, 2022

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For the past few years we have seen a resurgence in the home arcade market. Several vendors including companies like Arcade1Up and iiRcade have recreated the classic arcade machines from the 70s, 80s and 90s and offered them to consumers to use in their own homes, no quarters or tokens needed. These home arcade machines feature the original cabinet art on the outside, but inside you’ll find modern LCD panels and integrated computer components. In some cases, the machines may not be as big as they originally were designed to be, but that makes them more affordable and easier to store in a home. If you have a basement or spare bedroom you’ve been dying to refurnish, these machines can make your dream of having an arcade in your home a reality.

As a child of the 90s, I have my own era of the arcade that I cherish the most. While some players remember games like Pac-Man or Galaga, I remember playing titles like Mortal Kombat, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Simpsons. While all these games have been rereleased as home arcade machines and can be easily obtained through your local electronics retailer or delivery site, I started to ask myself just what games would I want to see come back the most if I wanted to have my own home arcade.

So this is my list of games I feel should get re-released as a stand-alone home arcade cabinet. These are in no particular order and no arcade machine is off the table for consideration. Please note we are not going to include products that have either been released or ones that have been officially announced on this last. That means games like Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter II, Dragon’s Lair and Time Crisis are not eligible, as they have either already been released or have a release confirmed.

With that all out of the way, let’s start the list.

Area 51 – Without a doubt this was my favorite light gun game of all time. Released by Atari, Area 51 puts you behind the barrel of a military special forces member as they attempt to retake the titular military base from an alien zombie invasion. It would be nice to see it bundled with the next game on the list, however I’m sure it would be more likely to see it bundled with the sequel/expansion Site 4.

CarnEvil – Another classic light gun arcade game from Midway where you fight your way through a haunted carnival. This game pulls no punches when it comes to its designs and would easily get an M rating in today’s market. Sadly, for being such a unique game this has never gotten a home release. In fact, I would not have had any idea this game existed if it wasn’t for a review/let’s play by the incredible Ross Scott of Ross’s Game Dungeon.

Splatterhouse – The original Splatterhouse put you in control of Rick, a man who must save his girlfriend from monsters with the help of supernaturally evil mask. Along the way you must use your strength and whatever weapons you find along the way to bash all the monsters that stand between you. This game is great on almost every level and its horror themes really helped it stand out at the time. While some consider it controversial, it’s practically tame by today’s standards. Personally, I would love to see a home arcade release also include the two official sequels that released on the Genesis.

Aliens (KONAMI) – Another incredible Konami side scroller at the same era Konami was developing other incredible games like The Simpsons and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. You can take control of Ripley or Hicks and blast away at hordes of Aliens, some of which never made an appearance in the original films. Honestly, I don’t have much to say about this game since I never played it in arcades back in the day and it never got a home release, but based upon the enormous outcry I’ve seen for this game to get re-released, this is something I’d like to check out for myself!

Star Wars Trilogy (SEGA) – I know what you’re saying, didn’t Arcade1Up already release the Star Wars Trilogy? Well, they did release the ATARI vector graphics games, but that’s not the games I’m referring to here. I’m referring to the SEGA Star Wars Trilogy that was released in the late 90s. The game allowed you to play out some of the best scenes from across the three films ranging from the Battle of Yavin, to the Battle of Hoth, culminating with a secret ending where you fight the Battle of Endor. Along the way you can even have QTE lightsaber battles with Boba Fett and Darth Vader. Sadly, if you find the game in the wild most of their screens suffer from horrendous image burn, but if you could look past the permanent Star Wars logo on your screen, you’ll find a fantastic game. Obviously, a re-release with newer hardware can be created to prevent that kind of image burn problem the original arcade machines suffer from. I don’t care if they choose to make it as a stand up or sit down cabinet, I would love to have this game in my basement.

Cruisin’ USA – This is without a doubt my favorite arcade racing game of all time. The game has you participating in an ultimate race across the US with the objective to finish first place in every leg. Starting point, Los Angeles, finish line, Washington DC. Now, I admit this game has seen several rereleases over the years staring with its N64 port in the mid-90s, but I want to see the original arcade graphics restored. There could be a disagreement over how this machine could be sold, as stand up and sit down versions were both available. In fact, there was a two-player machine as well. I personally prefer the sit down one-player version, but I want to see this game released so badly, I would probably get it regardless of how it shipped.

Donkey Kong Trilogy – Nintendo’s most popular arcade games and the titles that introduced us to the character of Mario have been ported to Nintendo’s home consoles many times over the years but to this day has not received a home arcade release. A three game home cabinet would be a no brainer, which could include Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr and Donkey Kong III. Perfect emulation on these games may not be possible, so it’s unlikely you’d be able to use it as an entry to become the next King of Kong, but I just want a chance to see this piece of Nintendo history and view the kill screen for myself.

House of the DeadTime Crisis has already been announced as getting a home arcade release, but a friend of mine wanted to know if they could release that, what was stopping them from releasing a House of the Dead arcade machine? The light guns used in the Terminator 2 arcade would be a perfect fit for House of the Dead, and multiple games could be bundled in the system. Heck, if they wanted to be fancy they could even put a USB keyboard port somewhere on the front panel so people could plug in a PC keyboard to play Typing of the Dead, which you can be sure would be a major selling point for someone like me.

Mortal Kombat 4 – There have been plenty of Mortal Kombat Arcade1Up releases over the years that included Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat II and Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 (on top of other classic games including Rampage) but to this date not a single home arcade release has included the 3D graphics powered Mortal Kombat 4. I remember this game, when I first saw it in the arcades, made me drop my jaw. The ability to fight in a third dimension with graphics that could match and surpass the original PlayStation was just incredible. Forget about bundling eight Midway classic games with a Mortal Kombat rerelease, bundle MK4 with the next one instead.

So there’s our list! Is there anything we missed? Post a comment below with your thoughts and what games you want to see get a rerelease.

What Games To Download on the 3DS eShop Before it Shuts Down Forever March 3, 2022

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Been a long time since we’ve done one of these hasn’t it? With the recent announcement that Nintendo is planning to shut down the Nintendo eShop for the Wii U and 3DS forever in May 2023, gamers have been scrambling to obtain games through the service that they wouldn’t be able to get otherwise. I’ve owned a 3DS since August 2012 and it rekindled my love with Nintendo handhelds in a way that I never imagined. We don’t have much time left to make purchases through the service (credit card purchases are expected to end in May 2022 with eShop credit ending in August 2022) I felt the time was right to start sharing some of my favorite games from the 3DS eShop with all of you.

Before we start the list just know this list will be comprised of entirely original games that cannot be obtained physically through other means. We also won’t be including Virtual Console games (including SNES titles) as we don’t consider them exclusives at this time. So let’s sit back and enjoy this truly eclectic list of games I’ve enjoyed from the time I spent owning a 3DS.

Attack of the Friday Monsters -Without a doubt one of the most charming games I have ever played in my life. In this game, you play as the new kid living in Tokyo during the mid-70s. Each Friday, giant monsters are reported to attack the city. Your job is to discover if these monsters are real and along the way learn more about your and your family’s otherworldly past. If this article has any merit, you must download this game RIGHT NOW.

Pokémon: Dream Radar – This AR game is another no brainer, especially if you’re a Pokémon fan. In this game, you must traverse the dream world as you use the 3DS cameras and gyroscope to capture exclusive Pokémon. It’s a major precursor to games like Pokémon Go, and it is fairly inexpensive. You’ll need a copy of Black 2 or White 2 physically inside your 3DS to transfer any Pokémon you obtain in the game.

The Starship Damrey – A first-person sci-fi puzzle adventure game with an art style that that harkens back to Enemy Zero on the Sega Saturn. You’re trapped in a stasis pod onboard an interstellar starship that appears to be abandoned. Thankfully, you gain control of a remote controlled robot with a camera and grabby arm. Your objective is to find a way to free yourself from this pod. But is everything what it seems to be?

Weapon Shop de Omasse – What goes into making the powerful and mythical weapons a hero wields into battle? A talented blacksmith of course! This puzzle game has you decide what weapons to make for which characters, and who will function best with each type of weapon. On top of that, this game’s sense of humor is just great. I mean, we are making weapons for famous gaming character archetypes, now we get to see what these characters are like on their downtime around civilians. I’m a fan of cynical comedians and I think this game’s writing really knows how to appeal to the long-term gamer who is very familiar with all of gaming’s tropes.

Chibi-Robo Photo Finder – This game was my first exposure to the adorable Chibi-Robo and I just loved the gameplay. Your job was to control the titular character as he makes his way through his environment all the way hoping he won’t run out of power. There are puzzles to solve and pictures to take, so keep your eyes on the outline!

How Should Donkey Kong Be Portrayed In Universal Studios Parks? November 2, 2021

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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Its Tuesday and I know I typically reserve Tuesday’s for Japan Travel Tips articles but I decided the subject matter for today’s opinion piece makes it perfect to release today. Its been a long time since I’ve produced an opinion piece on this website and that streak ends right now. After I learned that Universal Studios Japan will be opening its own Donkey Kong Country area adjacent to the heavily popular Super Nintendo World in 2024, I paused to wonder just how the logistics of the area will work. Super Nintendo World offers the ability for guests at the park to meet and interact with several characters from the Super Mario games including Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach and Toad by putting USJ cast members in custom made suits. By all intents and purposes it has been a tremendous success and has set a new gold standard for theme parks worldwide. You may have seen a tease for what this would look like in this famous television commercial.

Okay, I admit I’m being a little silly in posting that here. This commercial may be a little misleading, and not just because the beloved characters are beating the crap out of each other. What I wanted to use it for was a simple comparison of size. According to Nintendo, Mario is a human of average height, but Donkey Kong (even from his earliest days) on the other hand has always been depicted as about four times bigger than Mario. I guess bananas really did make him big and strong. For the proposed Donkey Kong Country area, it is heavily expected we will be able to have meet and greets with many of the famous characters from the DK franchise. Since Mario represents the size of an average adult, that would mean DK should be represented as four times larger than a human being. That begs the question if Donkey Kong be portrayed by a cast member in a fuzzy costume, or is DK just so big he can only be portrayed through some kind of animatronic or special projection affect?

If Universal plans to bring Donkey Kong to their theme parks, will having him depicted by an actor in a suit be sufficient? My answer is no, I think he should be portrayed by an animatronic. Producing gigantic animatronic apes is something Universal Studios has in their wheelhouse. King Kong, for those of you who don’t know, is ENORMOUS. As someone who remembers dangling from a ceiling track right next to the 35-foot tall animatronic ape as fire and explosions blasted out, I can tell you firsthand Universal is more than capable of pulling of the task. If you don’t believe me watch this video courtesy of Theme Park Crazy.

So that’s how I feel about Donkey Kong. He’s bigger than life and we should see him as such. Before I wrap, I would like to bring up one last point. The closest comparison I could find in size to Donkey Kong that currently exists in the Super Mario universe would be Bowser (or King Koopa if you’re old-school). Oddly, no Bowser costume character exists in Super Nintendo Land, although the character himself does exist and is referenced in the parks. While he is not depicted as an animatronic, the Mario Kart ride depicts him as an Augmented Reality special effect on the ride itself. Before that, we only see his appearance hinted at with an enormous statue and portrait in the ride queue.

I want to close this article by saying I have no idea what Nintendo or Universal actually plan to build, and in all honesty I would be fine with whatever they decided to create. If you have your own ideas for how you’d like to create your own Donkey Kong Country theme park land, post a comment below!

Why Doesn’t Disney Parks Incorporate Kingdom Hearts into a Fireworks Show? May 31, 2021

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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Across the US, Disney’s Theme Parks are finally reopening. Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida and Disneyland in Anaheim, California are back open for business. With some of the best theme park rides on the planet ranging from Space Mountain to Expedition Everest, this is a much anticipated announcement.

Now that the parks are opening at close to full capacity within the next few weeks, and Walt Disney World has announced they will be celebrating their 50th anniversary.

Is it just me or is the music that Disney’s been using to produce their recent commercials just not doing it for you like it should? It might be because I’m a gamer. While I do not visit Disney’s parks regularly, I fondly remember visiting them on special occasions as I grew up during the 90s and I do plan to go back and visit again within the next year or two. I may not be the most well-versed on the history of the park (people like Tony Goldmark hold that distinction) but I was lucky enough to ride rides like Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye, Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout and even Disney World’s Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror all within a matter of weeks of their opening.

Since 2002, Disney has had a relationship with the guys over at Square Enix, who have incorporated their Final Fantasy characters alongside Disney’s incredible catalog of films and shorts to create the beloved Kingdom Hearts franchise, and as a gamer you can be sure I’ve played many of these games. Square Enix’s contribution to Disney’s ongoing legacy, and the fact it is about to celebrate its 20th anniversary, should not be dismissed. Let me set the stage for you, starting with the opening of the very first game.

When I think of Disney, I think of how they’re depicted in the Kingdom Hearts games. The games were able to weave all of Disney’s most popular films and characters into one coherent continuity with characters that acted exactly as someone already familiar with Disney would expect them to act. In a way, Disney’s parks function on a similar principle. All the rides, shows and attractions can be fit into each park’s themed land, and guests can visit each land during their stay at the park.

I will admit to subconsciously referring to Mickey Mouse as “Your Majesty”, to recognizing the final battle in the animated film Mulan…because I actually FOUGHT in it. Then I asked myself, why DOESN’T Disney promote the Kingdom Hearts games in any of their theme parks? They’ve had no problem bringing franchises from Lucasfilm, Marvel and Pixar in to tremendous success, Kingdom Hearts would be a logical next step! The game’s art style is timeless, and new games are still being produced. Heck, that game franchise is still alive with its most recent release being Kingdom Hearts III.

I honestly would be satisfied with a Kingdom Hearts nighttime firework tribute show. There’s honestly no need to overwhelm the parks with Kingdom Hearts versions of each characters, but why not make a stage or night show? It would make for a perfect update to the Fantasmic stunt show! Just use the Fantasmic arena as a stage, Mickey could come out dressed in his King Mickey outfit, wield his keyblade, and team up alongside Donald, Sora and Goofy against the Heartless or the Nobodies. Or, if you’re against losing Fantasmic, you could show a tribute video to the games on something like World of Color’s projection fountain. Square Enix’s cutscenes are so well produced and edited the Disney Park staff would barely have to do anything. Just put the video below up on the giant water fountain screen at California Adventure and not a single patron of the park would bat an eye. Well…except for the gamers who wouldn’t be able to stop crying.

But while there is no question that Disney owns their IP, and merely licensed their characters to Square Enix for Kingdom Hearts, it is a little unclear if Disney has the ability to use Kingdom Hearts characters in their theme parks. It has been attempted, but only for very very limited special events. Disney Parks expert Disney Dan actually did a video about the very few times these events happened, and I recommend checking it out.

I know I must not be alone. After twenty years and millions in sales, there have to be tons of other people who’s primary exposure to Disney was through Kingdom Hearts. What Kingdom Hearts themed content would you want to see Disney bring into their parks and where should it go? Post a comment below! Here’s hoping they could sell some sea salt ice cream.

Kingdom Hearts games are currently avaliable on multiple platforms including the PS4.