Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Begun, the Famicom Wars Have.

First of all, let me categorically state that Chrontendo Episode 34 isn't going to - in any way, shape, or form - be ready before Thanksgiving.  It's getting there, but yesterday was my birthday, today = shopping, tomorrow = cooking and cleaning, and Thursday = Thanksgiving.  For all you foreign types out there, Thanksgiving is a made up holiday that Americans celebrate because Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of State, William Seward, thought it would help cheer up the populace during the Civil War.  It involves eating a lot of food and it officially kicks off the Christmas Season.  Though it's not uncommon for retailers to get a head start and kick off Christmas in mid-November, prompting many people to complain that "They start Christmas earlier and earlier each year."

For some reason, yesterday I found myself watching a few moments of a TV hosted by that mildly autistic-looking nonentity Jimmy Kimmel*, who felt the need to build a monologue around the "Christmas in November" phenomenon.  Astonishingly, he found this an amusing and original enough observation to make on national TV, despite the fact that people have bitching about it nonstop since at least the 1940s.  I suppose that if this fellow is still around in 30 years we can look forward to him wondering "Why do they call it 'Final' Fantasy?" and "Why does Starbucks call it a 'tall' when it's their smallest size?"  It's amazing who they let on TV nowadays.

Anyway, when you finally do get to see the new Chrontendo, you will be excited and thrilled to learn that Nintendo has finally decided to give the military tactics game genre a whirl! Yep, after some not quite spectacular entries in the genre: Neunzehn, Tank Commander, SD Gundam, etc, Nintendo steps in and kicks ass!  Famicom Wars is interesting for a few reasons.  Just like Famicom Mukashi Banashi, it shows Nintendo trying their hand at something other than the Mario/Zelda/Sports games that they specialized in.  Also, it was released on a regular old cartridge, whereas virtually every new Japanese Nintendo game since 1986 has been on the Famicom Disk System (Punch-Out!! being a rare exception).   Additionally,  Famicom Wars launched a new and fruitful Nintendo franchise, as sequels appeared on the GameBoy, Super Famicom, GBA, and DS.

Famicom Wars is recognizably superior to its predecessors; it's the first perfectly formed military simulation for a console.  Maps are plentiful (15 in all), and each offers unique challenges.   There are tons of different types of units: infantry, tanks, artillery, transports, supply trucks, bombers, helicopters, jet fighters, anti-aircraft guns, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.   The interface is pretty easy to use, there are two different music options, three difficulty options, individual battles are quick and to the point, battle animations can be turned off, and the opening title sequence is extremely cool.  It's like Nintendo listened to all my complaints about earlier Famicom military games and fixed all the problems. There's even an unofficial English translation!


Even more amazing: this is the first military type that I haven't compared negatively to Military Madness!  So check it out!  Or even better, try the superior sequel for the GBA, Advance Wars.  My lord, what genre will Nintendo try next?  An RPG?

Keep an eye out for Episode 34 in a few days.  My apologies if this post is a little bit incoherent.  Tonight's beverage was Stone's Double Bastard Ale, which, after consuming, I realized has an ABV of 11.2%.

In case anyone is curious, here is the Thanksgiving menu.  It was adapted from Thomas Keller.  Yes, I'm a geek and I print up a little menu each year and place copies on the table.

*Or possibly Down's Syndrome. I can't decide.  The guy definitely looks a little weird.


Helm said...

Happy birthday, Dr. Sparkle!

qaylIS aka Nicolas Deu├čer said...

Happy thanksgiving man, your dinner sounds...interesting. I believe it's hard to work on something like Chrontendo with things like holidays in the mind, especially when you have to cook. So don't worry, I don't even think I have time to watch it, I am busy next week. And after that I am going to a conference about ambivalences in regional identities and cultures in europe. Sounds boring, but is supposed to be really interesting. Bob Jessop is there, it is remotely possible that anyone of you heard of him (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Jessop). He must be credible, he has a wikipedia page...=)

Hasoneable said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hasoneable said...

Happy Birthday!

Quick factoid: autism doesn't show up in facial structure, but in facial expressions and mannerisms to give its characteristic look. Down's syndrome will show up in facial structure, so that's probably what you mean because I can't unsee it now.

Kevin Moon said...

Happy Thanksbirthday, Dr. S! Just checking in; it's been forever. You continue to amaze me and do an excellent job, and I always enjoy reading your blog and watching your videos.

You mentioned Thomas Keller; is he the guy with the Ad Hoc Fried Chicken? I've always wanted to try that. It's supposed to be orgasmically divine.

Doctor Sparkle said...

Re: Kimmel - never mind. I did some research on him and it turns out his parents just dropped him on his head and face a bunch as a baby. Later some TV execs felt sorry for him and gave him his own show. Apparently, we are all supposed to keep it a secret from him that his show's not any good.

Yeah, Ad Hoc is Keller's more casual dining restaurant. The fried chicken is much loved, and the recipe can be found online. I've never made it myself, but supposedly it's really good. You do have to brine the chicken overnight.

Kevin Moon said...

Yep, I'd read up on the recipe and the process to make it (you can order the kit online) and that's how I learned that really good fried chicken is brined beforehand, which I'd never heard of. Sometime I'll work up the nerve to give it a try, and see how it compares to my fiancee's tempura fried chicken, done in her own special Japanese style. It would have to be pretty incredible to top that.

By the way, I think when I had logged on before, it was under my pseudonym, k8track. So now my secret identity has been revealed to the world.

I just read your latest post, and I hope your thumb is OK! It's totally possible to use your other fingers with the D-pad. When my friend first got his NES back in 1986, I found the D-pad very unusable, since I had been raised on the Atari VCS joystick. The only way I could use it was to do it "Jeff Healey" style, where I would put the D-pad on a Ouija board on my lap, using my index and middle finger of my left hand for the directional control, and the index and middle finger of my right hand for the B and A buttons. I didn't even know how you were really supposed to hold it! It worked for me, though, so that might be a temporary thumbless solution for you.

Doctor Sparkle said...

Well, still most folks used their thumb on the 2600 joystick to press the button, right? Though isn't it kind of weird that the 2600 had you use you right hand for the joystick, and the left for the button - exactly the opposite of arcade games and later console control schemes. Though I knew a guy who took a small rubber ball and attached it to his 2600 controller, to make it more like an arcade stick.

As for your secret identity being revealed, I've used Foursquare to trace your exact location and am sending ninjas with shurikens dipped in anaconda poison out there right now.