Month: August 2014

The Best Uses Of Music In Video Game Commercials

Gears of Edge via EA and Giant Bomb

Gears of Edge via EA and Giant Bomb

Before a popular video game is released, you will see hundreds of commercial ads promoting the living hell out of them. Any video game commercial you see online or on television would be horrendous without the perfect music to accompany it. I do not want to hear a country song during a Halo commercial or a Mario Bros. commercial featuring a heavy metal artist. There is an art to choosing the correct songs that influence one’s mood, which then makes them more or less willing to buy the game.

After considering the hundreds of video game ads I have seen in my lifetime, there are two that have been the most memorable: the Gears of War commercial that featured Gary Jules version of “Mad World,” and the Mirror’s Edge debut commercial featuring Lisa Miskovsky. It is also worth noting that both of these commercial ads helped boost the artists popularity.

Gears of War – Gary Jules

Gears of War logo via Xbox Wire

Gears of War convinced me to buy an Xbox 360 during my senior year in high school. It had the gory violence I was looking for, a unique cover system that involved sliding into cover while shooting around it and a decent story that would build into one of my favorite video game trilogy’s (not counting Gears of War: Judgement as a part of the main series). The marketing team for Gears of War knew what they were doing by featuring a cover of “Mad World” by Gary Jules when they released this incredible commercial to help promote the game:

Many people have not heard this song since its premier in the classic 2001 movie titled Donnie Darko. You can go even further and say that some people may have not heard this song since the band Tears for Fears released the original back in 1982. While I prefer the original version of the song, the Gary Jules cover of “Mad World” went perfectly with the commercial.

The first face you see in the commercial is the main character, Marcus Fenix. Throughout the commercial, Marcus is running from the Locust, which are a race of reptilian humanoids that lived underground but have now surfaced. Whenever it pans to the water reflection of himself, it made perfect sense when the song mentioned “familiar faces.” In fact, it was hard to find familiar faces in the world of Gears of War. The planet was apocalyptic, everyone you knew and loved died from the Locust invasion, and there was always another enemy around every corner, so it often seemed like there was no such thing as a “familiar face.”

Different Locusts via Gears of War Portal

Next, you see Marcus running away from something that was hidden underground. The Locust are after him and there may be “no tomorrow.” Marcus and what is left of the Coalition of Ordered Governments (COG) soldiers, also known as Gears, are doing everything in their power to save this planet from total destruction.

The lyric, “dreams in which I’m dying are the best I ever had,” fits brilliantly with this commercial. Seeing the main character surrounded by all the destruction and being persued by the hordes of Locust, you could assume that many people living on this desolated planet wish for things to be different. For many of the soldiers fighting for this planet, it is possible that their dreams that involve death are much better than the excruciating pain of seeing a loved one die by these Locust.

Finally, when you hear final two words, “Mad World,” you finally see a Locust called the Corpser; a massive spider-like creature that is 45 feet tall. One thought sinks in, this entire planet is mad. There is nothing left, so why are the humans still fighting? Marcus will never give up the fight, which makes him seem determined to the point of madness. This is his planet and he is not letting the Locust take over.

Corpser via Gearspedia

This commercial blew its audience away. As reported by gaming magazine Joystiq, “Mad World” was propelled to number one on iTunes at the time of the commercial’s release. Strangely enough, this cover saw #1 once in 2003 after it released in the UK, but Tears for Fears never had a number one song in their existence. This shows that artists who link their songs to popular video games will often see positive results.

Mirror’s Edge – Lisa Miskovsky

Faith from Mirror’s Edge via Giant Bomb

There was no video game like Mirror’s Edge when it debuted in 2008. It featured first-person platforming with hardcore parkour. Incase you do not know what parkour is, it is a form of movement that helps you get from point A to point B in the fastest way possible. While thinking on your feet, you will use all of your surroundings to vault, swing, run, jump and roll to reach your destination. Do you need to get from the top of a trailer truck to the inside of a trashcan super fast? Simply hardcore parkour.

The debut trailer for Mirror’s Edge involved a woman running through different obstacles as fast as she could through the use of parkour. You notice how bright the environment is with splashes of red that seemed to guide her to the final destination. She runs, jumps and slides while her faint breathing can be heard in the background. Unless you have your speakers turned up, you can barely hear the song in the commercial. Watch and listen to the trailer below:

Notice how smooth the woman was moving and how the song flowed with her every step. Every move she makes seems to sync with the music, the building she jumps to, the swift wall ride, and transition to the top of a crane is nearly a perfect match with the song in the background.

The song you hear is “Still Alive” by Swedish pop singer Lisa Miskovsky. She first appeared in 2001 with her debut album named after herself. Lisa was very popular in Sweden, but no one really knew of her in America. When people saw the Mirror’s Edge trailer, they wanted to know more about the song. Once EA saw how everyone loved this new single, they decided to do an entire remix album for “Still Alive,” which reached the top 50 on Billboard Dance charts for over 10 weeks.

Still Alive Remix Album Cover via TheUscore

I truly believe that with the help of Mirror’s Edge and EA, Lisa Miskovsky received a new following of fans. During an interview with Billboard, Lisa said, “This is not only a groundbreaking game, but an unprecedented opportunity for me to collaborate with writers and remixers I’ve admired for years.” To this day, I still listen to a few tracks off the Mirror’s Edge Remix album.

Conclusion

Video game commercials are not easy to create. Luckily, I still remember two out of the hundreds I have seen. Gears of War and Mirror’s Edge are two entirely different games, but they both showed me how artistic a video game commercial could be through the use of music. When you connect the right songs to the commercial, the audience gets excited to buy the game and the artist gains publicity and the opportunity to work with other artists they look up to.  I hope that the future of gaming has memorable commercials like these. I leave you with the official “Still Alive” video.

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Unrealistic Racing Games Are The Best

Burnout Paradise via Analog Addiction

The racing game genre has never sat well with me. Every year, I wish for a racing game that will stretch my imagination and let me create my own high-adrenaline experiences. I am not a fan of realistic racing games, so it is hard for me to find the perfect game in this mediocre genre. I never get an adrenaline rush whenever I play a realistic racing game. Instead, it feels like I am driving in circles with no extra value tacked on. I may be able to side swipe a car or T-bone them, but it still does not live up to the unrealistic racing games I truly love.

There are three upcoming racing games that stand out from the rest: Mario Kart 8, Burnout, and Need for Speed Rivals. The game qualities that stand out compared to series like Forza and Gran Turismo include the more unrealistic speeds, crashes and nostalgic value, all of which persuade me to buy Mario Kart 8 or Need for Speed Rivals as my next racing game.

It’s-A Me, Mario!

Super Mario Kart via Nintendo UK

My very first racing game was Super Mario Kart; that game was incredible. To this day, it is still my favorite Mario Kart game in its long-running series. My racer of choice was always Yoshi. I have no idea why, but I always felt like he went faster than the other racers. The game had 3 cups to race in, the Mushroom, Flower and Star, with an unlockable cup called the Special cup. With each cup came three different speeds, 50cc, 100cc and 150cc. To give you an idea of what each speed is like, think of 50cc as your average turtle Olympics, while 150cc is a speed that could technically break your neck in real life. Also, the fact that different items and weapons could be used in this game made it even better. I remember perfectly when I threw red and green shells at racers to throw them off the track, which always turned the entire race around. Even more satisfying for me was when I used the mushroom item, which acts like a speed boost, right at the end of the race so I could move up to first place instead of second. This game entertained me for possibly hundreds of hours over the years I played it.

Normally, I raced on 50cc or 100cc, but I remember trying to do 150cc. Never in my life have I so badly wanted to throw my controller through my television, all because of the Ghost Valley 2 race track. At 100cc, I usually fell off that track every 5 seconds. Not only is the track pitch black with a rickety bridge, but the blocks on the side of the bridge that prevented racers from falling into oblivion would disappear after hitting them once. I do not want to think about the outcome of a race on this track at 150cc. I remember yelling at my television because Donkey Kong or Mario would give me a little tap, and I go flying off the bridge. The reason I got frustrated with Super Mario Kart is because I wanted to be the best. As Ricky Bobby would say, “If you’re not first, you’re last.”

Ghost Valley 2 Track by Adam Redsell

Besides my few frustrations with Super Mario Kart, I had a lot of fun. The best times to play was when a friend would come over, and we would race against each other all day. The other racers, played by the computer, could not talk trash to me, so having a friend sitting next to me, laughing and yelling, made the experience much more satisfying. The next game in the Mario Kart Series, Mario Kart 64, had many of the same experiences as its predecessor. Both of these games were solid racing games that always held my attention. After Mario Kart 64, I quit. I was onto other types of games and my GameCube would gather mostly dust during the time new Mario Kart games were released. Since I bought the Wii U, I decided to give the franchise another try with Mario Kart 8.

Mario Kart 8 via Giant Bomb

Mario Kart 8 is one of the best racing games I have ever played. It feels and acts like its predecessors, it reuses many of their popular race tracks, and it gives me the same enjoyment that Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart 64 gave me. The Mario Kart series has come a long way by adding more vehicle customization and newer items that make Mario Kart 8 more strategic than ever.

For example, one of the new items in Mario Kart 8 is the Super Horn. This horn emits a giant shockwave around the racer that defuses any item that might damage or slow down the player. It is super effective against red, green and blue shells, which can alter the race entirely. The shells are some of the most deadly items in Mario Kart 8 since they can make racers suddenly stop for a brief moment or even knock racers off the track if timed right. Whenever I get one of these horns, I try to save it until the very end of the race. At that time, many racers start getting items that could easily knock me out of first place. Holding onto this weapon is a key strategy that many Mario Kart enthusiasts use today.

Mario Kart 8 looks beautiful on the Wii U. I normally race on the gamepad, but I am truly in awe every time I use my television. The racing is always smoother, playing online brings new challenges, and seeing race tracks from old versions of the game updated in this game reminds me of the great experiences I had with Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart 64. Below are a couple of videos I recorded from my racing experiences:

All I Do Is Crash

While I believe Mario Kart 8 is one of the best racing games on the market, my all-time favorite racing game is Burnout. This racing game felt like the first of its kind. In 2001 and 2002, Burnout was released on the GameCube, Xbox and PS2. I remember the first time I played it all those years ago. I was at Blockbuster and saw tons of advertisements for the video game. The media kept showing how beautiful crashing could look, so I was intrigued and gave it a try. After bringing it home, I played non-stop. I wanted to be the best at this game and I have not felt this way about a racing game since the Mario Kart franchise.

Banned Burnout Ad via cactusbones

Insanely high speeds and the spectacular crashes were two things that made this game different from other racing games. The high speeds made realistic racing games look like Driving Miss Daisy and the crashing mechanics created slow motion Matrix-style movie theatrics. Burnout was oddly addicting, but hard to master.

The main gameplay revolved around the Championship mode. It involved a selection of events with a few races, and the level of difficulty would rise after each event. Once the racers completed certain events, they could do something called a “Face Off.” These were challenges that would unlock new cars if the racer beat its competition. Burnout never focused on brand named cars. The only types of vehicles used were small compact cars, sedans, pickups and muscle cars. Each vehicle drove differently, but the controls felt extremely accurate compared to other racing games.

Burnout received a great consumer response, but the series itself peaked when Burnout 3: Takedown came out for the PS2 and Xbox. After playing the past Burnout games, I knew I should buy this one instead of renting it. Burnout 3 played very similar to its predecessors, but it included one new feature that would change the entire series, a feature that was cleverly hidden in the title: takedowns.

An Easy Takedown via Moviefan Central

Takedowns happened when racers knocked out the competition. This new gameplay mechanic made crashing even more reliable and involved some strategy. If a couple cars were behind me, I would slow down to rear-end them into medium or oncoming traffic. This new mechanic also brought a new game mode called Road Rage. During Road Rage, racers had to takedown as many vehicles as possible in the allotted time to get a certain medal. I remember playing this mode for hours and hours. Each Road Rage event had a number of takedowns I had to reach to get a bronze, silver or gold medal. I would usually takedown at least 5 extra vehicles over the requirement for a gold medal. This was also the first Burnout game I introduced to my friends since it had head-to-head racing and Road Rage, so my friends and I would usually go back and forth trying to kill each other. This game is easy to play, but hard to master. This reason, coupled with the multiplayer modes, helped us bond through video games when many of my friends were not hardcore gamers like myself.

I Feel the Need for Speed

Years have passed since the last real Burnout game in 2008. Burnout Paradise released in 2009. It was fun, but it never felt like the original that I truly loved. In the meantime, I had to look elsewhere, but I was skeptical about the Need for Speed series since their previous games looked too realistic for me. Since I purchased the Xbox One, I wanted to try as many new games as possible. I decided to give Need for Speed Rivals a try; that was one of my best gaming decisions since purchasing my new console.

Need for Speed Rivals via Video Games Blogger

Note: I recently wrote about Need for Speed Rivals on Polygon. I have lifted much of the text from there to help me write this section. If you would like to read my past writing, please click here.

Need for Speed Rivals is no ordinary racing game, just like Burnout and Mario Kart. Forza 5 came out around the same time, so Rivals had some competition upon its release. Both racing games featured breathtaking graphics, new features, and unique driving mechanics, but one thing made me favor Rivals over Forza 5: unrealism. As I stated at the beginning, I hate realistic racing games. Forza 5 was too real for me, and did not involve high speed crashes like the Burnout series. Undoubtedly, Rivals was Burnout with a fresh coat of paint (pun intended).

Rivals had beautiful cars that felt great when handling them on the road. The entire game was open world, so driving anywhere at any time was welcoming, but I was always wary of the police. This game was meant to be played online at all times, since the police and other racers on the road could be real people. It made for an interesting concept, but I would have liked to have individual modes for me to play without interference from other players, like in the old Burnout games.

Every vehicle in Rivals handled perfectly during any weather situation. Drifting felt tight more sensitive compared to the Burnout series but was easy to maneuver with practice. Plus, the further I upgraded my vehicle, the more powerful I became on the road. Rivals had a little Role-Playing game in it since upgrading vehicles was important. I could be driving faster, use new power-ups to fend off police, or use boost for longer periods of time. Not only that, but I was able to upgrade my cars durability to take more damage, maneuvering and strength so I could total police vehicles much easier. However, the one thing I hated and loved at the same time was crashing.

 

Crash in NFS Rivals via Dual Shockers

The crashes were great, but still nothing compared to the Burnout series. It was fun driving reckless, but if I hit an onlooker at 70 mph with the police on my tail, there was a good chance my car is about to be totaled. If the car takes too much damage, it could mean losing the points accumulated by driving recklessly or completing events which, in turn, means no upgrades or new vehicles. Every second lost, turn taken, and point made mattered in this game.

Here is video that shows off power-ups from the game. Racers could use an Electrostatic Field that could immobilize anyone hitting the car, an EMP blast that had to lock onto cars and delivered a pulse that shuts down their car, a Jammer that hides cars from the map, and the reliable Turbo that boosts cars to unbelievable speeds.

Conclusion

I recommend Rivals to anyone wanting a new Burnout game. There is a story mode that is very forgettable, but the gameplay will keep on giving, just like Burnout games always did for me. I also recommend Mario Kart 8. This game plays like Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart 64 more than any of the other game in the series by reaching back to its roots and creating memorable moments.

The main reason I play racing games is to experience something wildly unrealistic and beyond belief. I will most likely stick to these types of racing games because I know I will never be able to do anything from those games in real life. The more power ups, speed, and crashing, the more chance I will love the racing game. Maybe someday I will give realistic racing games a try, but for now, I want to live in racing world where recklessness is my middle name.

Inflation in the Video Game Industry

Money Rules All by Dust Cartridge

Video game prices rise with every new console generation. The used game market is at its greatest peak new innovative ways to save, spend and even credit gamers with more incentive to buy more video games. I have bought my fair share of old, rare video games and paid a pretty penny. I have sold video games that I sometimes regret, and even rebuy those games I have sold. I love budgeting for video games. After completing my research about the monetary value of video games from the past to present with inflation pricing, gamers are spending less than ever before.

Note: All of the inflation prices were done with an Inflation Calculator provided by the United States Department of Labor. Also, I was able to find an IGN article that stated the original prices for each video game console.

The 1980s

Mario is Made of Money via blueprint

The year was 1985. The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) console was released for a staggering $199.99 in the United States. During the late 1980s, this amount of money was hard to come by for most families. Sure, owning a home was much cheaper back then, gasoline prices were barely higher than $1.00 and the economy was doing much better, but video games were still trying to find its stride. The NES helped push gaming to the next level using its 8-bit technology and Super Mario Bros.

The Super Mario Bros. video game was included with the NES console, which was an excellent deal since the prices for many new NES video games was between $29.99 and $49.99. These prices may not look too alarming compared to today, but with inflation, the price of video games in the 1980s was high. The NES console would cost $442.99 in 2014. That nearly lines up with the Xbox One and Playstation 4 (PS4). The NES video game prices are surprising though; a $29.99 video game in 1985 would cost $66.43 in 2014, while the $49.99 price tag would be $110.73 today. The $49.99 video game price is comparable to the ultra-super-rare-pre-order edition video game seen today (i.e. see Destiny Ghost Edition and its ridiculous prices on eBay).

The 1990s

Pick Your Poison via GAME

This decade had some of my best experiences when it comes to video games. I had two consoles in the early 1990s. My brother gave me his Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) and my parents bought me the Sega Genesis.

The SNES came out in 1991 priced at $199.99 in the United States. Strangely enough, the console would be decently priced in 2014 at $349.97. That is much cheaper than today’s consoles and it had more games on it that I loved than I can count.

The Sega Genesis originally came out in 1989 and cost $189.99. There is a two year difference between the Sega Genesis and SNES, but that slight difference adds up. With inflation, from 1989 to 1991, the Sega Genesis increased in cost by $20 in that time. It is not that much of a price difference compared to the SNES, but it does look like the SNES would have been the better choice if I was looking to save money. Also, the Sega Genesis would be decently priced at $365.18 in 2014.

Take My Rings! via The Sonic Stadium

Besides console prices, the video games themselves were unreasonably priced in comparison. Video games cost roughly $49.99 to $59.99 during the 1990s for both the SNES and Sega Genesis. When I compared those prices to today, a $49.99 game back then would cost $87.48 now and a $59.99 game would cost $104.98. It was great that the consoles were so low, but the video games were so high that families could not afford them. My brother’s SNES video game collection was incredibly small and I only owned four or five Sega Genesis games in the lifetime of that console. The only way for me to play any new games back then was to rent them. If I remember correctly, it cost roughly $4 or $5 to rent a video game for 4 days; I made sure that within those 4 days, I played nonstop.

The Late 1990s

Atomic Purple GameBoy Color via Wikipedia

The next system I owned was the GameBoy color. It was my very first handheld console that provided hundreds of hours of entertainment. However, my GameBoy color was no ordinary color, I had the Atomic Purple variant; man, did it look sleek. This variant came out in 1998 and cost roughly $69.99. During that time, I could not imagine my family having that much money, so I was surprised when my parents bought me one. In 2014, with inflation, this handheld console would cost $102.34. That is fairly cheap compared to my Nintendo 3DS XL I bought last year for $199.99. The hardware is completely different, but both provide entertainment on-the-go, which is perfect for me.

The next console I would like to discuss is the Nintendo 64 (N64). After playing with the N64 at a friend’s house, I knew I had to have one. The only problem was that it cost $199.99 in 1996. In 2014, the N64 would cost $303.80, which is very reasonable compared to the Xbox One and PS4. The video games for the N64 were a little higher, being priced at $49.99. With inflation, a brand new N64 game would cost roughly $75.94 in 2014.

To my surprise (sometime between 2000 and 2001), my parents bought me an N64 with a copy of Tony Hawk Pro Skater. I could not believe my eyes when I saw it in the living room on Christmas Day. I was ecstatic since I had not owned a home console since the Sega Genesis. I felt like one of the cool kids on the block finally. Until I realized that I only owned maybe 8 video games for it. Like before, I rented most of my video games for the N64 since my family could not afford the $49.99 price tag.

The 2000s

Nintendo GameCube via Wikipedia

My next console was the Nintendo GameCube. The main reason I wanted this console was not solely based on its graphics (even though they were beautiful back then). I had to have the new Super Smash Bros. Within the first two years of the GameCube’s release, it was hard to find in stores. My mother explained to me that she luckily found one in a Target and picked it up for me since I was asking for it during Christmas. I knew my family was really poor at that time because of reasons I will not discuss, but she still managed to pick it up for me. In all honesty, I should really thank my mother for getting me into video games since it was her time and money. The GameCube came out in 2001 priced at $199.99. With inflation, it would only cost $269.15 today, which is incredibly cheap. The video games were still priced at the $49.99 price point which would cost roughly $67.28 today.

Another popular console that I still love today is my Xbox 360. I skipped the first Xbox because it did not have many games I cared about (except for Halo and Halo 2), but I wanted to start over fresh instead of sticking with Nintendo branded games. One of the reasons I wanted to purchase the Xbox 360 was because of Gears of War. When I saw the commercial below for the first time, I knew I had to have it.

The Xbox 360 was released in 2006 and priced at $399.99. That was an unfathomable amount of money for me to buy, so I waited for a better deal in 2007. If I remember correctly, there was a sale at Target where if you bought the Xbox 360, you receive a $100 gift card in return. My mother pitched in some of the money while I paid the rest; I told her to take the gift card, but I most likely used it on a couple new games at the time. Since I still bought the console at full-price, the Xbox 360 would cost $459.80 in today’s market with inflation, which is still cheaper than what I paid for my Xbox One last year.

It is worth noting that during this console generation, video games rose in price. I remember being upset about the $59.99 price point, but it is not all that unreasonable compared to today. With inflation from 2007, those brand new games should cost around $68.96 today.

Today

Which to choose via NOTR

Gamers can argue that the prices were better back then, but in reality, they were not. Based on the inflation of video games, it is better to buy video games now than ever before. The console prices are very close compared to its predecessors, but video games are still cheaper even if the game is used.

When I make an old, used, or rare video game purchase, I like to think how much money I actually saved. For example, I recently bought a used copy of Xenosaga III: Also sprach Zarathustra for $40.00 on eBay. I have been looking for this game for years and it is nearly impossible to find decently priced. The first two games in the series were easy to find, and much cheaper. Xenosaga III came out in 2006 for $49.99. With inflation, the game should cost roughly $59.10 today. However, based on its rarity and limited quantity, the game is worth over $100.00 new. As long as the game works, I believe finding it for $40.00 like I did is nearly a steal since it saved me $60.00 from buying a brand new copy.

The current price for a brand new video game is $59.99. Based on the facts I presented, this is the best time to buy video games compared to inflation. When looking at my income now, the price is substantially less compared to my youth and having no job at all. Also, consoles are nearly the same price as its predecessors before them, so I have no complaints there. Do I recommend buying all the video games? No. I recommend budgeting and checking out my older post where I discuss my Video Game Equation. There are tons of ways to save when purchasing video games, and I want everyone to know that gamers should not be shunned away by the pricing. Instead, cherish these times of cheap video games. The next generation of consoles could see the prices rising $10 again, which sounds ridiculous now, but may be in line with inflation.

ALL THE GAMES!

Video Games, Bicycles and Nostalgia

Mother Brain from Metroid Series via Metroid Database

When you replay an old video game, it is just like riding a bike. Somehow, your mind goes back in time when you first picked up the nostalgically-ridden controller and remember every instance, controller scheme and story about the old video game. How is it possible to play a video game that came out 13 years ago, and remember bits and pieces like you were playing it yesterday?

Our mind and body work in mysterious ways. There are two different types of theories that may explain the phenomena of nostalgia gaming. I will break down each theory to its basics and give examples of how each pertains to my video game experiences. The two theories I will expand on is muscle memory and episodic memory.

Muscle Memory

You develop your muscle memory every time you pick up your video game controller. Whenever your video game character dies, you usually try again. This repetition fine-tunes your motor skills, and your subconscious acts without hesitation. It is said that, “practice makes perfect,” which is essentially a reference to muscle memory.

There are many fighting video game championships around the world. One of the most recognized events in this genre is Evolution Championship Series (EVO). This annual eSports tournament focuses on fighting games and their communities. EVO is very intense and requires skills from a player that obviously knows his or her way around a joystick. Normally, you never see gamers use a standard controller that you use with most console games. Most competitors prefer an arcade stick. Arcade sticks are still used in many arcade cabinets and work best for fighting games. Players can develop a better sense of direction, inputs and speed compared to a regular controller.

Cute Dog and Fight Stick via reBloggy

Many fighting game players practice for hundreds, if not thousands, of hours before reaching the upper ranks in the fighting game communities. One of the most memorable EVO moments happened in 2004 between Daigo Umehara and Justin Wong during the Loser Bracket Finals for Street Fighter III: Third Strike. Dagio was playing as Ken while Justin was Chun-Li. What happened next was one of the greatest comebacks in EVO history. Watch below:

As you can see, Diago had to pull off things on his controller that no one thought was possible. His timing was perfect with each counter and it made for a memorable moment in fighting video game history. This next clip shows you how hard it is to recreate it in the new Street Fighter III: Third Strike Online edition.

When developing your muscle memory, remember that your technique and movements will be more precise. Everyone uses this in their everyday life, just like with video games. I use muscle memory most often when I play first-person shooters. However, Halo is one of those games that I am still not amazing at even after hours of gameplay.

I am not sure why, but Halo has always eluded me when it comes to online first-person shooters. I can pick up any Call of Duty game, or even Titanfall, and notice big improvements after playing for only a few hours. I am much better at these fast paced games compared to slower games, but Halo is not one that I ever figured out. Part of the reason could be that I played with friends who were great at the game, while I never could catch up. If you give me the sniper in Halo, I will only pull off one headshot out of ten, on a good day. Give me a sniper in Call of Duty, and I will go on a killing streak.

First-person shooters are different for everyone, but muscle memory is always in play. The more you practice with any type of game, the more you will develop skills that will increase after every gaming session, resulting in a skill level greater than the first time you played the video game.

When I Snipe in Halo via Cheezburger

When I Snipe in Halo via Cheezburger

Episodic Memory

Episodic memory happens when you clearly remember factual events about yourself. Clear memories of your past experience can be triggered by specific places, times or even objects. For example, whenever you play an old video game that you have not played in years, you may remember certain events pertaining to the story.

You can recollect many video games from your pasts if they had some sort of personal meaning to you. I started playing Mega Man Battle Network last week. This video game came out in 2001 for the Game Boy Advance. During that same time, my main gaming device was my Game Boy Advance, and somehow, I can still recount much of the story, nearly all of the gameplay and even the battlechips (which are used to attack opponents on a 9×9 grid).

Mega Man Battle Network Cover via Wikipedia

This game is over thirteen years old, and I still remember it. It occurred to me that playing video games is like riding a bike. No matter the story, if the video game had meaningful moments, you will remember parts of the video game. The only conclusion I can come to is that Mega Man Battle Network was my first Mega Man game since renting them on the Super Nintendo.

I remember that I always rented video games from a local shop called Video Hits. It had a wide selection of VHS tapes and a large assortment of video games. The only way I was able to play any video games back then was to rent them. I usually rented one of the Mega Man games every month or so. I was never really good at any of the Mega Man games as a child, but they were still fun to play. The reason behind renting video games during my childhood was because my family and I could not afford a brand new game every month. The only time I received a new video game was for Christmas and sometimes for my Birthday. We were not poor, but video games were prioritized after more important expenses like a house payment and education.

I have rented all of these from Racket Boy forum via Photobucket

I believe the main reason to why I remember Mega Man Battle Network so clearly is because I relate it to the Mega Man games I rented from Video Hits. Those games have a special place in my heart and mind that Mega Man Battle Network must have unlocked. If I went back to play older Mega Man games, I am positive that I would remember much of the same things as I do with Mega Man Battle Network.

The last game I beat was Final Fantasy X. This game came out in 2001 on the PlayStation 2. At the time, I did not own a PlayStation 2, but my brother did. I remember watching him play Final Fantasy X all the time. I loved the music, and the graphics were stunning at the time of the game’s release. I remember thinking how bad I wanted to play it, but since my brother (and his PS2) was always away at college, I never had a chance to play very often. I eventually made it to the end of the game, but did not actually finish it, because the save file went missing. One of two things could have happened to cause this: Either my brother beat the final part of the game for me, or the save file was deleted.

Final Fantasy X logo via Final Fantasy Wiki

A few years later, I bought a PlayStation 2 for myself. I borrowed my brother’s copy of Final Fantasy X and loved playing it, but lost interest in it. I have no idea why, but once again, I did not finish it. Most recently, in 2014, I bought the re-mastered version of Final Fantasy X for the PlayStation 3. I decided from the moment I bought it that I would beat this game no matter what. It took me several months, but I finally beat the game last week. This game was so important for me because of my brother’s involvement. He is my hero and has acted like a father to me my entire life. The only reason I am interested in video games is because of him. I love the fact that I can play the video games he played in the past, then talk about it with him years later. I texted him the other day about the final boss from Final Fantasy X and he laughed. He told me he remembered beating the final boss, and was more surprised that I did not have any characters that could break the damage limit (all characters in Final Fantasy X have a specific limit of damage they can do and to break it requires certain rare items that take hours to obtain).

Besides my accomplishment, I was surprised how much of the story I still remembered. I remembered nearly every cut scene, I remembered every enemy I faced, and I even remembered where to find all the Aeons (these were characters I could summon to help fight for me). Again, it was like riding a bike when I played this incredible game. This is by far, one of my favorite games of all time.

As you can see, the mind and body work together with your video games. Whenever I play older games that meant something to me, I remember just about everything. Muscle memory and episodic memory play huge parts when gaming. The more you play, the more you remember.

Hotline Miami: From Timid to Confident

Hotline Miami Logo by New Gamer Nation

Video games are not meant to be intimidating, they are meant to be inviting. When I sit down to play a new video game, I feel timid and excited at the same time. I have no idea what the controls are, but I am anxious to start playing like a pro immediately. After I go through the tutorial phase, I feel confident that nothing can defeat me. However, there was one game that did not fit this criteria: Hotline Miami.

I wrote about Hotline Miami on Polygon last year. I explained how I played Hotline Miami timidly at first, until I progressed through levels and became more confident with the gameplay and controls. Although, every now and then, something would happen to destroy that confidence, and I would be timid again. In this post, I will expand on the progress I made from being a timid player to a confident one within the game of Hotline Miami.

Hotline Miami is a top-down 2D indie video game that involves massive amounts of blood. The character is an amnesiac who is doing what he is told to do by three masked people. He does not have a name, but people refer to him as “Jacket.” Jacket is a lost soul who is trying to make sense of it all.

Timid – Do I like hurting other people?

A Question for Jacket via Theology Gaming

When I first stepped foot into the world of Hotline Miami, the tutorial was slim. I performed a few actions as a hobo told me I was doing a great job. A hobo taught me how to kill people.

Thanks for the training, hobo via Gamer Assault Weekly

The following scene pushed me to the ground and beat me with questions. Three people wearing animal masks sat down in front of me after I finished the tutorial. Suddenly, the interrogation started and I was lost for words. Why were three animals asking me who I was?

The Horse: Oh, you don’t know who you are? Maybe we should leave it that way?

The Chicken: Look at my face, we’ve met before… Haven’t we?

The Owl: I don’t know you. Why are you here?

I had no idea who I was, or what I was supposed to be doing. What I did know was that something happened on April 3, 1989. On that fateful night, I was told by a stranger to open a package with instructions to throw a briefcase into a specific dumpster once I obtained it from my first destination.

Hotline Miami would finally test my skills when I arrived at my first destination: The Metro. After choosing an animal mask to cover my face, I walked through the door, knocked a man unconscious and killed him. I bashed his head into the ground multiple times; it was very disturbing. After my first kill (not some tutorial), I felt like I could beat this game easily, until I walked into the bathroom.

I was confident, and knew this next guy urinating in the bathroom would be an easy kill. I opened the door and then… BOOM! I was dead. I asked myself, “What just happened?” My reaction time was slower than usual, so I blamed the controls, of course. Hotline Miami was one of the first video games where I had to use the keyboard instead of a controller. I am not a PC or Mac gamer, so this was all new to me. Every time I entered a room, I felt cautious and timid. The levels progressively got harder and I died far too often. Whenever I died in Hotline Miami, I restarted the entire level in my head. I asked myself, “What could I do differently?”

Acceptance: I’ve done terrible things

I know I have, horse via Counter Attack!

After an unfathomable amount of dying, it occurred to me that I was gaining more confidently and felt less intimidated. Each death taught me what I did wrong and how to fix it. I became faster and more agile. Hotline Miami was taking over and I no longer had to be forced to kill; I enjoyed it. The chicken asked, “Do I like hurting people?” Yes, yes I do.

Finally, I accepted my true calling: hurting people. My recklessness could be seen all over the levels. I killed human beings in ways I never thought could be done. There was an Uzi on the ground, a knife in the bathroom, a door where someone’s head should be, and more countless ways for me to kill.

Still, every time I entered a new environment, I felt timid, but quickly adapted. I had to kill to gain more confidence. The best part was that the controls became second nature after a few levels. I was moving around quicker, reacting faster to oncoming shanks, guns and dogs, plus I was having fun.

Confidence: I’m here

Pizza is my joint via PC Gamer

The closer I got to the final level, something clicked. I could pass through levels with ease, kill on command rather than taking my time, and I stopped feeling timid. My confidence level was through the roof and I did not plan on stopping.

I killed in ways that I never imagined when I first started the game. I went into rooms with four enemies and destroyed them within seconds. Hotline Miami did a great job making me believe the unbelievable. I was speechless after leaving a room filled with blood covered walls. I was no longer planning my kills, because I knew what would happen. I have always been told to think before I act, but Hotline Miami taught me act without thinking. Why? Sometimes there is violence without cause. Sometimes there is mindless violence. Either way, once I got to the ending, everything made sense. I knew why I killed.

A Perfect Run via Retro Nuke

It took a long time for me to gain the confidence I needed to succeed in this video game. More than halfway through the game, I was no longer intimidated by the controls or gameplay, when it would take much less time to do so in any other game. In fact, I wanted this game to last forever. One great thing about Hotline Miami was its replayability. There were tons of masks to collect and I wanted to get a better grade on each level. This grading scale made me plan my attack, but with confidence.

Hotline Miami is an intimidating video game. It takes time to perfect the controls, but it is well worth it in the end. Discovering how to adapt to this oddly disturbing video game with inadequate tutorials convinced me that confidence can and will prevail, even if I am timid. Each death in Hotline Miami serves as a constant reminder of this. I strove to be great at this game, and it paid off. I recommend this game to anyone who wants a challenge.