zophar53's Blog

Posted on Sep 4th 2020 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under New consoles, Sony, PlayStation, Microsoft, Xbox, console generations

The PlayStation: Futuristic Gaming Router Edition and the Xbox: Hulking Black Obelisk Edition

I've been gaming seriously for over 30 years now. In that time I've experienced six console generations. Looking back, every single time a new console was introduced, I would eat it up. I read every piece of news I could get my hands on and couldn't wait to take part in the gaming experiences a new game system would bring. I was one of the crazies who waited in line overnight for the notoriously scarce (at least at launch) PlayStation 2, and when the Wii was even more so in 2006, I'm not ashamed to admit that when an opportunity came to leverage my then-girlfriend's employment at Circuit City to snag one, I absolutely capitalized. Now that we're on the brink of yet another round of consoles, I'm finding myself pretty lukewarm on the whole thing.



Continue reading So About These New Consoles...



Posted on Aug 5th 2020 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under Paper Mario, The Origami King, Switch, RPGs


It's a bit hard to believe that it's been 20 years since the first Paper Mario game was released in Japan. As disappointed as I was back then that we weren't getting a sequel to Super Mario RPG (still one of my favorite RPGs of all time), the game we got instead was the next best thing. With a unique new look and a battle system that took a lot of inspiration from its predecessor, the Paper Mario franchise came out of the gate with three excellent titles. Since Super Paper Mario, however, the series has been pretty lackluster. After being sorely disappointed with Sticker Star and put off by the negative reviews of Color Splash, I was hopeful but cautious about the trailers for Origami King. After getting a lot of hands-on time with it over the past couple of weeks, I can say that it doesn't solve all of the problems of those past games, but it gets enough things right that I'm having a lot of fun in this world again.



Continue reading Paper Mario: The Origami King



Posted on Jul 4th 2020 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under Aurion, RPGs, Kiroo Games, Diversity, Steam


It's been no secret the last several weeks' worth of news has taken a mental toll on me. For a good 2-3 weeks, even thinking about playing a video game felt trivial to me. Recently, I've started refocusing and getting back to something of a normal mindset, but current events still make me a bit sick to my stomach when I read the news. And to be perfectly frank, I think that's a good thing. It serves as a reminder that I could always be doing more to help. I've been taking steps to educate myself and broaden my horizons, and part of that includes the games I play. It didn't take much searching before I discovered a wide array of games made by black and black-owned developers, and as I dive into some of them, I'd like to highlight my favorites.



Continue reading Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan



Posted on Jun 3rd 2020 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under Gaming, comfort, comraderie, friendship, community


I apologize up front to those who come to this site for an escape, but the coincidental timing of my piece this month leaves me in an incredibly difficult position. You see, I wracked my brain the last few days trying to think of a subject, but as I sit here at my computer on Monday evening, none of the topics I came up with feel appropriate. I won't comment here on my thoughts about the past week's worth of news, and I genuinely feel bad about even bringing it up in these digital pages, but with recent headlines so raw in my mind, I've discovered I'm literally incapable of writing an article that suggests I'm oblivious to them. Eventually, one of the podcasts I watch gave me an idea, and I decided that if I couldn't force myself to write as if current events haven't deeply affected my headspace, maybe I could use the opportunity to remember the things about this hobby that has brought people together.


Continue reading What Do You Write When Gaming Isn't On Your Mind?



Posted on May 6th 2020 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under Video Games, Escape, Coping


Like many of us in these crazy times, I've spent a lot of time over the past couple of months trying to make sense of things. Between the constantly stressful/upsetting news, fear of contagion every time I go out, and the push-pull of being thankful I'm able to work from home while also feeling guilty that I'm so busy at work while others are struggling, it's been a really strange experience for me. I'm an extroverted introvert, so while I definitely miss hanging out with friends, eating at restaurants, and small personal niceties with people I used to take for granted, my life hasn't changed too drastically. But while I'm adapting to a new normal, some things have changed, and some things are continuing to change. One of the things that have continued to evolve has been my gaming habits.



Continue reading My Quarentine-Coping Gaming Evolution



Posted on Apr 4th 2020 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under Doom Eternal, Doom, id Software, Bethesda


Four years ago, id Software resurrected the Doom franchise from development hell. Under the creative direction of Hugo Martin and Marty Stratton, Doom 2016 retained just enough of the original games' DNA to make it feel old-school, while at the same time bringing the series into the 21st century with intelligent upgrades, combat that rewarded you for playing aggressively, and a demonic fire-and-brimstone soundtrack that was perfect for the ridiculous and irreverent tone of the whole thing. It was my favorite game of that year, and in August of 2018, singlebanana, GrayGhost81, and I took to the RF Generation Playcast to heap praise upon it for the community playthrough that month.  At long last, the direct follow-up to 2016's game is here. Its predecessor set such a high bar that it's hard to see how this new title could improve things. So join me as I give my thoughts after the first half dozen hours.


Continue reading Doom Eternal - Initial Impressions



Posted on Mar 4th 2020 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under RF Cinema, Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic, Sega, Sega Genesis, movies


Regular RF Cinema readers know I had pretty low expectations for the Sonic the Hedgehog movie. Between Hollywood's less-than-stellar track record of turning video games into compelling film experiences, the series struggling to reach the heights of its glory days on the Genesis, and that whole thing of the title character's first CG iteration being borderline horrific, there wasn't much reason to give it the benefit of the doubt.

After a months-long delay to redesign the little blue blur, the film is finally here. The good news: it's not a dumpster fire! The bad news: it falls victim to the same traps of most other video game movies. Read on for the details in the latest episode of RFGeneration's exploration of video games in cinema.


Continue reading RF Cinema: Sonic the Hedgehog



Posted on Jan 4th 2020 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under Top 10, Lists


Call it a new year's resolution, call it an epiphany, call it whatever you want, but I decided I wanted to do things a little differently this year. It seems like every year I say to myself "life is busy, I didn't play as much as I wanted." But rather than ape that sentiment yet again, I figured it would be better to turn it into an opportunity. The games industry is more than just the games themselves. I feel that most people who love video games naturally share an interest in the ancillary aspects of the business. And so, in that spirit, these are the most notable things about the games industry to me in 2019. The good, the bad, the ugly, and sometimes, the infuriating. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below, so feel free to let me know what you thought about any of the items listed here, or if there was something else about the year in games you felt was particularly worthy of attention.



Continue reading My 2019 Top 10



Posted on Dec 5th 2019 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under Stadia, Google, cloud gaming


When Google held their own press conference at E3 this year, they talked a big game, promising experiences equal to, if not better, than anything you could find on a home console. Personally, it was easy to buy into the hype, even if I was skeptical. Media is getting more and more disconnected from the material world every year. It's inevitable that games will some day join the likes of music and movies in some digital streaming landscape. But after their E3 grandstanding Google went all but silent. I'd plunked down money to pre-order their "Founder's Edition" and still knew nothing more than what I'd heard in June. Only a few weeks ago did news break of more games being added to their lineup and shipping confirmations started going out to initial customers. After playing with Stadia for a while, I'd say some skepticism is still warranted.


Continue reading My Experience As A Google Stadia Founder



Posted on Nov 3rd 2019 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under Review, books, Boss Fight Books, NBA Jam


Unlike most kids my age in the 90s, I wasn't a big sports fan. I liked watching them just fine, and knew the teams and rules of most major sports, but it was just never that important to me, and coupled with a home team as legendarily crappy as the Cleveland Browns, I didn't have a lot of motivation to develop an interest. In 1994, I saw a sports game unlike any I'd seen before. It was big, bold, and unrealistically over-the-top in a way that was completely unexpected. That game is the subject of the next entry in Boss Fight Books continuing look at the video games that have shaped the landscape of the medium.



Continue reading Boss Fight Books: NBA Jam



Posted on Oct 4th 2019 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under Doom 64, Doom, Switch, N64, id Software


As the Switch nears its 3-year anniversary, it's been interesting to watch the role it's embraced. Not just a home/portable hybrid gaming machine, its trajectory has more than a bit in common with the ill-fated Vita. Sony's Ferrari-of-a-portable turned into a fantastic way to play PSN and PS1 games on the go, and in a similar fashion, Nintendo's latest is giving new life to all the great Wii U games no one played, as well as hosting ports of a lot of mainstream games that usually wouldn't come Nintendo's way. This is no doubt due to its successful sales numbers, and given their recent buddying up with Xbox, it seems Nintendo has been courting 3rd party publishers pretty hard. There's been quite a few games I've bought on the Switch that I already own on other platforms, simply because the idea of playing them on the go is such an intriguing prospect (e.g. Diablo III, Doom 2016, etc.). One of the best examples of this role of giving overlooked titles another chance is the recent announcement that Doom 64 would be coming to the Switch.



Continue reading The Switch, Giving Doom a New Life For a Better Tomorrow



Posted on Aug 5th 2019 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under Video game music, VGM, music, podcasts


Two of my favorite things are video games and music. It's a wonderful thing, then, that there's been some pretty incredible video game music over the decades. Not all of it is quality, but even in the medium's earliest days composers were able to create some shockingly good tunes. Once I started following the game music community on a regular basis, I learned to appreciate the fact that even the simplest-sounding tracks on the most basic sound hardware are chock full of intricate details. In fact, I might argue that composing a quality game score in those early days took even more skill that it does now, since the limitations of the hardware forced musicians to have a deep understanding of music theory and get quite creative to make certain soundscapes work. Game music has become one of the aspects of the industry I appreciate most.


Continue reading Game Music Podcasts: Hear Your Favorite Game Tunes Like Never Before



Posted on Jul 4th 2019 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under Nintendo Power, NP, magazines, Nintendo, nostalgia

Note the two small stacks in the upper right. I have the first 8 issues in zip lock bags

In the months following my becoming a new homeowner, I began the process of sorting through the pile of boxes consisting of the those things we all own that aren't necessary enough to survival to warrant unpacking the first weekend after the move. Among the boxes of games, consoles, and books were the boxes I knew were there but I hadn't decided what to do with just yet. These boxes contained my collection of Nintendo Power magazines.

As I began to pull them out and assess their condition after having been in storage for a year and a half, I got curious. It didn't take long before I learned that this July marks 31 years exactly since the publication's first issue, provided we don't include the Nintendo Fun Club newsletter that was its progenitor. With it's over 24-year production run, it would be too much for me to try and do an exhaustive NP retrospective here. So what I'd like to do instead is celebrate it's anniversary by looking at the impact it had on a young Travis (and kick myself for not picking up on this last year for the 30th anniversary).


Continue reading Happy Birthday Nintendo Power, and Thank You



Posted on Jun 2nd 2019 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under RF Cinema, Detective Pikachu, Pokemon, Pikachu, movies

This would be so noire if it weren't for all the blue and yellow

While live-action movies based on anime have been met with mixed results in recent history, Pokemon: Detective Pikachu has the benefit of the insanely popular title characters. Between that, a trailer that looked not terrible, and the star power of Deadpool himself, Ryan Reynolds, I was fairly confident the movie would make scads of money regardless of its quality. That said, I was interested to see if it held up for someone who doesn't know a pokeball from a dive ball.


Continue reading RF Cinema: Pokemon: Detective Pikachu



Posted on May 4th 2019 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under Review, books, Boss Fight Books, Knights of the Old Republic, Star Wars


The year was 1999. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace had fans of the franchise more excited than they'd been in a decade and a half. Lucasfilm and LucasArts were churning out merchandise and video games like crazy. The past handful of years had given us some pretty great games, including Dark Forces, Rogue Squadron, and Shadows of the Empire. As great as those games were though, LucasArts wanted a grand, story-heavy RPG, and this was the perfect time to get that going.

Thus began the process of bringing Knights of the Old Republic, which many consider to be one of, if not the best, Star Wars video games of all time, into being. It's a little surprising it took as long as it did, but the latest entry in the Boss Fight Books collection seeks to shed light on the process of making an epic Star Wars RPG a reality.


Continue reading Boss Fight Books: Knights of the Old Republic


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
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