Kellam’s infinite sadness

30 01 2013


To know Fire Emblem is to know fear and to fear consequence. It’s that rare breed of game where fucking up actually matters and totally sucks, where you can’t easily undo an errant move and realizing you’ve probably screwed yourself over by losing a unit of which you’ve been so protective, and it’s all because of one simple rule: When they croak, they ain’t coming back.

I don’t play a lot of Fire Emblem for this reason. I hate to lose and I (mostly) hate when my mistakes are made permanent in games, and sometimes the series just makes my brains hurt between the demanded strategery and difficult names. Each unit has a name, a face and a backstory, and I don’t like being the one that doomed a family because I sent their ol’ pop over to a hill unprotected.

In Fire Emblem: Awakening there’s a guy named Kellam. He seems like a pretty okay dude, on the quiet side but with armor built like a tank. Silent but deadly. He joins your campaign early on and seems as eager as anyone to shove a lance through someone’s face in the name of peace, and thanks to Awakening’s buddy system had formed some solid relationships with other members of my wandering army. They fight better together.

Kellam was quiet and modest, often overlooked by the other members during story moments because it was funnier that way; his sprite had a tinge of sadness because of it. I  never sidelined him, though — since he joined early, he was one of my go-to dudes for tank work. I like to think that made him feel included.

I instructed him to break with the buddy system to fetch a shiny trinket on the corner of the map. Some enemies were there, but Kellam was in pretty good health if not spirit, and the battle was about at its tipping point in my favor, so I thought that he’d manage just fine. I thought he would, honest.

Through a terrible mix of faulty strategy and just plain bad luck, when the two enemies did attack he stood little chance. Kellam sure clobbered that first foe, not quite routing him but putting a good dent in the guy with a slight chunk taken off himself. It didn’t look like the second enemy would reach him, but Kellam was stubbornly within range and held no candle against a deadly hammer. Hammers are kryptonite to armor like Kellam’s, so when it fell Kellam was thwomped all the way to Valhalla.

I cursed quite loud. My bus buddies didn’t seem too pleased, but then again neither was I.

Kellam had fallen; his blood was on my hands. We had gone too far to turn back time and redo the battle, hence the cursing. With his last dying words, he pondered if anyone would remember him. I will.


Homebrew Is Where The Heart Is

25 02 2011

It’s nigh impossible to overstate the importance of the Nintendo Entertainment System in video game history: its popularity pretty much single-handedly revived the home game console market in the US, which had crashed a few years before the NES’s October 18th, 1985 limited-market American debut, while being home to the birth of some of the most iconic franchises still making headlines today.

Odds are that if you were born before 1988, your first home video game experience was with an NES. Even now, 15 years after Nintendo officially put the discontinue kibosh on the console in this territory, those fueled with nostalgia and with the right know-how are still keeping it alive. New, original games as well as retro sequels have been making the rounds this console generation, echoing the 80s revival that has permeated the rest of pop culture in the past years.

Do the chip with NLFM

5 05 2010

My snazzy podcast over at Nintendo Life dedicated to the best in chip and game music, NLFM, has been going strong for about five episodes now and it already feels different than when it began. Of course, when those episodes are a month apart, there’s plenty of time to grow.

It’s still a cobbled together operation in a way, thanks to my trusty Rock Band mic and handheld pop shield, but so far we’ve covered some pretty great ground. Not only has it seen its very own holiday episode, but we’ve had Norwegian retro rockers Datarock on as well as Alex Neuse of Gaijin Games, who is behind the excellent Bit.Trip series on WiiWare. During his guest stint he revealed first details about Bit.Trip Runner, a pretty nice get for a show in its infancy.

Basically, I’m proud of the show and think that if you haven’t checked it out already then you damn well should if you have even a passing interest in video games and their music. Or just music, for that matter.

There are some great things in store, so stay tuned!

Hank Chien Regrets Donkey Kong Record

1 04 2010

Hank Chien, the plastic surgeon whose recent record score of 1,061,700 points thrusted him to the top of the Donkey Kong food chain, couldn’t have been happier when the kill screen came and cemented him as one of the world’s top players. The culmination of months of hard work was verified and paid off in a New York arcade to much rejoicing.

But now that accomplishment has been sullied by the minor fame it came with, impacting not only his business but has drawn out “the crazy” in people and a heap of regret in the man himself.

“Hindsight is 20/20, but man, I should never have tried this,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »

GamePro TV’s Bodacious Journey

7 12 2009

Maybe I’m too young (’86 represent), but I didn’t realize GamePro even had a show on TV in the early ’90s. Not only does it ride the Bill & Ted “bandwagon” but also manages to give out one of the single most hokey and complicated protips I’ve seen.

I’m so, so glad we’ve moved away from this gamer image era. Of course, now we’re just a bunch of fat shut-in slobs or something, which may or may not be an improvement.

Little Big Gaga

25 11 2009


Not only can Little Big Planet be used to recreate childhood gaming favorites like Duck Hunt or Contra, but it’s got plenty of sack love for modern music too. Like Lady Gaga. Which is good, because it gives me an excuse to draw your attention to this cute-ified machinema port of Bad Romance. Read the rest of this entry »

Cruisin’ USA wasn’t all bad

9 11 2009

There are few redeeming factors that Cruisin’ USA has going for it, but the arcade racer will always have a special place in my heart for this tune alone. That and the bug-splatter parts. I know, I’m very mature.

What’s your game music guilty pleasure?