Archive for the ‘ Video Games ’ Category

Illidan Stormrage Should Really Stay Dead – Part 1: Illidan’s History

Blizzard has their fifth expansion for World of Warcraft, Warlords of Draenor, in development right now.  The game is currently in alpha but is nearing closed beta, which attendees of PAX East were gifted invites to.  And though the expansion is still in fairly early stages of development, players are already speculating on what will happen and what characters may be seen in our adventures on Draenor prior to its demonic-go-boom fate.

Blizzard has their work cut out for them with this expansion mainly in making the story seem cohesive. Players are already confused and split on the concept of the expansion, which wasn’t terribly well explained at Blizzcon when it was announced.  Personally, I think they should have gotten Chris Claremont of X-Men fame to come help them explain it. He’s pretty familiar with these zany plots that would fit quite well into a comic book.

Here’s the simple explanation as I understand it.  Garrosh escapes imprisonment on Pandaria and, with the help of Kairoz the bronze dragon (or perhaps infinite dragonflight?), manages to escape through time and space to Draenor before the orcs were corrupted by the Burning Legion.  He stops all that demon blood drinking nonsense from happening and unifies the orc tribes (mostly) with his knowledge of better technology to forge an army dubbed the Iron Horde.  He then manages to activate the Dark Portal from 30 years-in-the-past Draenor as a time AND space gateway to modern day Azeroth.  So basically the orcish Horde of Draenor 28-30 years ago is not corrupted but invading modern day Azeroth.  And that’s where we begin.

Now, Blizzard tried to explain it’s not a time travel story and it’s not…really.  It’s like an X-Men story, only a bit in reverse.  Bishop and Cable stories were usually centered around either character going into the past to alter history and prevent their own future from occurring.  Garrosh has done the same thing, only instead of altering history, he just brought history straight into the present as an army.  So basically at this point, if anything, you’ve created split timelines and alternate timelines.  Players are questioning what this means, of course.  In the alternate timeline, Azeroth is never invaded, so what does that mean for all the characters of the Alliance we know and love?  No invasion, no Legion fueled orcs, no failure to win means no Lich King.  So Arthas may have no reason to go nuts.  It’s a great set up for some What If… stories.

But Blizzard isn’t focusing on that.  They’re focusing on a force from the past attacking the present.  Thrall meeting his father doesn’t mean something could make Thrall not exist. Honestly, there’s a little bit of “just go with it” on this one.  We’ll have to see how they work everything out, but I don’t expect a neat little package because it IS time travel as the catalyst and time travel into the past always mucks things up.  At least with Bishop and Cable they were genuinely looking for a way to erase their timeline from existence (though in comics you just create yet more timelines rather than erase any of them).

One character I’ve seen players speculate on is Illidan Stormrage.  With no Legion on Azeroth in the Third War, he won’t consume the skull of Gul’dan, so maybe that’s how Blizzard brings him back. Maybe they resurrect him. Maybe with time travel, they alter the past and he’s never killed.  Any way imaginable, whatever it takes, somehow they feel Blizzard MUST bring back Illidan Stormrage.

I say they shouldn’t.  Ever.

Illidan Stormrage is dead and needs to stay that way.  To do anything else with the character is going to ruin him and his story.  Sure, he can appear in flash back stuff, but modern times, he really needs to stay dead.  Fans claim he didn’t get the story he deserved, but I think his story was actually one of the better ones in Warcraft and has a beginning, climax, and denouement for a conclusion.

I'll grant you that he always looks cool

I’ll grant you that he always looks cool

Illidan’s story begins over 10,000 years ago now as a young night elf with great talent in the arcane arts.  When the Highborne were preparing to usher in the destruction of the world bringing Sargeras to Azeroth and Malfurion, Tyrande, Cenarius, and the Dragonflights planned to enact a plot to destroy the Well of Eternity, Illidan abandons them and sets out to warn the Highborn simply because he doesn’t want to lose his magic when the Well is destroyed.  Illidan had no remorse in betraying his brother due to his addiction to the arcane energy and his jealousy of Tyrande’s feelings for Malfurion.  Illidan swears above all else to protect the Well of Eternity from destruction by any means necessary.  During the battle, Illidan fills vials with the water from the well, planning to keep their energies for himself after the demons crush the night elf civilization.  The battle causes the portal to go unstable and…..’splosion.  The Sundering results in splitting the land, but some survivors find themselves on Kalimdor.

Now, these details are more fleshed out and explored, as well as altered, in the War of the Ancients Trilogy where three characters from current times get thrown into the past during the events of the War of the Ancients.  Illidan still abandons his allies in order to preserve the Well of Eternity, desiring to keep the source of his magic in tact.  He was also allured by the powers the Burning Legion wielded, which allowed his own thoughts to be swayed by the satyr Xavius and while Illidan believed he was acting to defeat the Legion, he wound up helping them by strengthening the portal with the Demon Soul.  This was the main alteration to the original story; Illidan had good intentions but was swayed by darker thoughts planted by Xavius.  His decision to kill his brother to win Tyrande, his plans to obtain the Demon Soul to stop the Legion when he was really being used to acquire it for them, etc. all make Illidan seem to be the victim.  But the key point is that he would never have thrown in with the Legion if he hadn’t decided to protect the Well of Eternity for his own selfish desire for power in the first place.  In this, the original Warcraft III manual and War of the Ancients still agree.

After the Sundering, Illidan climbs Mount Hyjal and pours some of the vials of the Well of Eternity into the lake there to create a new Well of Eternity. Again, this is purely so he could have access to power for himself and he shows no remorse for re-creating the very thing that brought the Burning Legion to Azeroth to begin with.  Illidan is imprisoned when it is determined he can’t be swayed, too enthralled by the grip of the arcane.

So to recap key points so far:

1. Illidan selfishly tried to prevent the Well of Eternity’s destruction so he could keep his power.
2. Illidan selfishly filled vials with the Well of Eternity to keep for himself.
3. Illidan selfishly re-creates a new Well of Eternity so he can keep his power.

Moving ahead 10,000 years, the Burning Legion return to Azeroth and Tyrande opts to free Illidan from his prison to fight them.  Illidan leads his own force of night elves into the Felwood to hunt the demons, intending to prove the Legion no longer had sway over him.  He encounters Arthas who tells him the Skull of Gul’dan is the cause of the corruption and that Illidan can have that power.  Illidan doesn’t trust Arthas, but still takes the bait and does exactly as he’s told.  He obtains the skull, breaks its seal, and, again desiring more power, consumes it for himself.  Illidan is affected, transformed into a demonic form himself, perhaps arguably transformed into a demon himself, and upon sensing the demonic power within, Tyrande and Malfurion turn away from him.  Illidan leaves the night elf forests feeling his efforts and sacrifice are unappreciated.

So at this point, we have a selfish night elf who has sought power in every chance he’s had, but arguably makes a sacrifice in order to save his people. By consuming the powers of the Skull of Gul’dan, he was able to defeat the Legion’s leader in the woods and stop the invasion.  He’s shunned for it, but that’s the burden he bears.  He’s a tragic hero in a sense at this point and it’s easy to see why the player is meant to feel pity and remorse for his fate.

………then he goes and ALLIES WITH THE BURNING LEGION.

Kil’jaeden offers him a deal, to scratch off that pesky Lich King in exchange for more magic and power than Illidan has dreamed of.  So Illidan summons the naga (former highborne who summoned all these demons 10,000 years ago to begin with) and brings in some satyr, because having demons work with you when you’re serving a demon is definitely how to go about proving you’re not demon corrupted anymore.  He corrupts some furbolgs along the way and heads off to obtain the Eye of Sargeras and heads off to use it to destroy the Frozen Throne and the Lich King.  Some argue that this is a sign that he’s still a hero, but remember he’s still doing this at the behest of the Burning Legion and for an offer of greater magic and power (because the enhanced power from the Skull of Gul’dan still isn’t enough apparently).

Since he failed to do the job, he flees to Outland to escape Kil’jaeden.  He begins wiping out demons in Outland, hoping that by eliminating the demonic presence, he’d escape Kil’jaeden.  Again, Illidan does none of this out of a sense of good, or because it’s the right thing to do, but purely out of self preservation.  He defeats Magtheridon and imprisons him beneath Hellfire Citadel.  However, all of Illidan’s success proves to be too little and Kil’jaeden finds him.  Illidan saves his neck by claiming he was gathering forces to fulfill his mission from Kil’jaeden and he’s given one last chance.

Kil'jaeden and Illidan

“You done goofed”

Illidan again fails to destroy the Lich King, defeated by Arthas but rescued by Kael’thas and Lady Vashj and taken back to Outland.  So throughout the War of the Ancients story and Warcraft III, Illidan is not a hero and he’s not really even an anti-hero.  He’s mainly a selfish character who only seeks out power for himself, repeatedly allying himself with the Burning Legion for promises of said power.  There is no redeeming story for Illidan through all of this, he has been consistently traveling down the path of a villain.  Granted, he sometimes did things for Tyrande, having always had feelings for her and he does initially want to drive back the Legion and prove himself to Tyrande and Malfurion both and it could even be argued that he does take great risks in order to defeat the Legion no matter the cost by consuming the powers of the Skull of Gul’dan.  One might even say it was an act of desperation to prove himself. After all, Illidan didn’t know it would make him a demon, but on some level, he has always sought power for himself.

In part 2, I’ll explore the Illidan story in The Burning Crusade and finalize my thoughts on why Illidan should simply stay dead.

 

Game Collection Goal

So it’s probably time to start updating this more frequently.  I thought I’d start off by just going a bit into a little information on my dream collection for video games and the reason I’m pursuing retro games that I’ll be talking about in this blog!

To be honest, I’ve always kept some of my games.  I still have my NES, SNES, N64, and GameCube from growing up as well as my Sega Genesis.  I kept a few games for each of them, but not many.  In fact, I sold a lot of them on eBay a few years ago and just kept my favorites.  Not an uncommon story, but a painful one for anyone who’s done so and then got back into retro games!

Then last year at the recommendation of my GameStop manager friend, I picked up and read Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.  The book is filled with pop culture references from the 80s; video games, movies, tabletop, all manner of geekery.  The nostalgia chord was struck for me and I decided I wanted to look into some of the old games (and even movies) of my childhood as well.  I discovered there’s a whole group out there who are into retro games as well and a lot of people who, like me, see video games as a form of art as much as a form of entertainment.  Sure, you have the games, but you also have the artwork that went into the cartridge labels and box art as well as the manuals themselves.  These are pop culture history right here.  So my nostalgia was fueled into a quest to rebuild my gaming library…better, stronger, larger, awesomer…er.

So I decided first that my new collection and library would need to encompass my life of gaming.  The first step was to gather the consoles I wanted in this collection and then to decide which games I would get for each system.  I decided to get every console I played growing up from Atari 2600 to PS4 of today and a “Top 100” library for each system, or equivalent in some cases.  I did Google searches and found IGN “Top 100” lists, message board threads for “Top 100” where games were added and removed based on number of times people included it in their picks.  Eventually, I came up with a list for each console that I’m actively working on tracking down and finding.  I’ve since also added GameBoy, Game Gear, and Nintendo DS to my collection.  It’s going to be a long journey, and it’s probably going to be more expensive than I’ll want to dwell on, but that’s the path I’m going down!

I’ll be chronicling the adventure on this blog, of course, but once I gather the games the mission will of course be to play the games and review them here as well.  That should push me out of my usual comfort zone since a lot of the Top 100 are game genres I don’t generally like.  First Person Shooters, racers, sports games primarily will be on that list, but I’ll still give them a try.

The eventual goal is to buy a bigger television and get a custom build entertainment center in the living room with each system presented in a museum quality presentation, all cables hidden and each one able to be switched on and played easily with their respective game libraries in attractive cabinets.  That, however, is even further down the road.

I’m actually down to just 958 games left to find on my list for all systems.  Not a bad start.  Though there’s a good chance I’ll pass on a few of the more expensive games considered in the top 100 of these systems.

-Jeff

Retro Finds in Florida

Just after my 33rd birthday, I found myself on a business trip to the Ft. Lauderdale area of Florida.  Over seven days, I worked 96 hours, which didn’t leave much time to do anything outside of work and pass out.  However, after a bit of research one night, the next day, I went to a Consignment Resale shop, Owl’s Treasures, Inc. after seeing some games that interested me on their website.  When I went in, they had all the games I was interested in and then some.

First up, they had Pac-Man for the Atari 2600 complete in the box for $8.  The box isn’t in the best condition, but I was really excited to find the game complete.  On top of the box, game, and manual, it still had the Activision Video Game Cartridge Limited One Year Warranty card (I think it’s probably a bit too late to make use of that!) and a few bonuses.  Instruction manuals for River Raid, Donkey Kong, Bowling, and Warlords were in the Pac Man box!

So, do you know the game’s story? There’s more detail in the manual than you’d guess.  The goal of the game is to keep Pac-Man happy and healthy in his home of Mazeland.  The little dots that Pac-Man eats? Those are video wafers, and of course everyone knows the power pills, but there are also vitamins that appear briefly for 100 points if you manage to snag them.  Video wafers are apparently what Pac-Man eats for nutrition.

Pac-Man was already a hit in the arcade before it came to the “privacy of your own home” which, according to the instructions, would let you practice so you could show off next time you were at the arcade.  The instructions detail the basic notion of the power pills and being able to eat the ghosts, but the manual never mentions the ghosts by name.  So while the arcade identified Chaser, Ambusher, Fickle, and Stupid, or Shadow, Speedy, Bashful, and Pokey in the US still BETTER known as Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde, the Atari manual gave no names whatsoever. They were simply ghosts.

The Atari cartridge did have a number of options. You could play game A or B based on the switch setting on your console and there were eight additional differences available that altered the speed at which Pac-Man and/or the ghosts moved, making the difficulty easier or harder depending on the settings.

The box isn’t in the greatest condition and if I come across one in better condition, I’ll probably jump on it and sell this one, but having all the documentation in the box for the first video game I remember playing on a console, and one of the most influential games in history, was awesome for me.

Pac-Man for Atari 2600 picked up in Florida

That isn’t a light reflected on the table…it’s a power pill.

Pac-Man, or Puckman, was lukewarm in Japan, but was the most popular game upon release in the US and exploded into the most popular thing in the video game industry to that point.  Arcade cabinets of Pac-Man sold at retail for $2400 and can now be a bit harder to find with the collapse of the video game industry in the early 80s leading to a lot of arcade cabinets being thrown out, but the ones that were on eBay at the time of this writing was under $1,000 (Ms. Pac-Man is much easier to find, though).  Someday I will own a Pac-Man arcade cabinet in my home.

Twin Galaxies has estimated the game is the highest grossing game of all time, it’s been voted and is considered one of the greatest video games of all time, and is one of the most influential games of all time as well.  It was one of the first games to open up to draw in the female demographic, has influenced other games by being the first with power ups and is credited as being the first foundations of the stealth game, and even inspired notable game designers later.  Google even redesigned their page to honor Pac-Man for the 30th anniversary, which you can still play.

I’m looking forward to the year 2030, when Pac-Man will celebrate its 50th anniversary.

I found other games in Florida at Owl’s Consignment and Resale Shop.  Chopper Command, Pigs in Space, Riddle of the Sphinx, and Yars’ Command for the 2600, all in the box with manuals as well as Super Pitfall and Star Tropics complete for NES.  I also got Yo Noid! for NES loose, Xenogears (though the manual is missing) for Playstation, and Dark Cloud 2 for Playstation 2 as well!  All in all, I spent about $150 on what came out to around $200 worth of games.  The family that runs Owl’s Consignment Shop are really nice and price fairly, using Pricecharting as their guideline for games, but they have plenty of things for the non-gamer as well.  If you’re in the Ft. Lauderdale area, I certainly recommend stopping by or just check the website. They do ship, and they might have something you’re looking for!

Introduction to Ninja Fox Games & More

I thought about jumping right into this blog with a first article, but decided introductions were in order first, for both the blog and the author.

I was born in January 1981 and when I was little, a good friend of mine had an Atari 2600.  The first games I remember playing are Pac Man, Chopper Command, and Joust.  From that point on, I’ve been a gamer my entire life.  In elementary school, I worked with my parents’ help to sell raffle tickets for a fund raiser and won the first place prize for selling the most tickets. I won $100 and used that money to buy a Nintendo Entertainment System.  My dad and I would play Super Mario Bros. together to see who could beat it first.  My dad rescued Princess Toadstool before I did, but I beat the game with the fire flower’s power first.

That first taste of video game victory was so sweet.

A few years later during a trip to visit a relative in Houston, TX, I bought the Super Nintendo Entertainment system which still has some of my favorite games of all time.

Oh Squaresoft, I miss you…

I later purchased a Sega Genesis and Sega Game Gear, a Game Boy Pocket, and a GameBoy Color.  I never bought a Sega Saturn, but I rented it from the local Blockbuster and remember playing Panzer Dragoon.  I was primarily a Nintendo guy with my Sega experience mostly contained to Sonic the Hedgehog and a few other titles, but like so many other RPG fans, I jumped ship when Final Fantasy VII came out on the Playstation.

Because this was mind blowing cutting edge polygons right here.  And because we fell in love (lust?) with Tifa Lockheart.
Coincidentally, this was my standard team!

I didn’t completely abandon Nintendo considering I came back to the N64 two years later.  I continued with the GameCube as well as the PS2 and later the PS3 and I’ve recently gotten a Nintendo Wii and got a release Playstation 4.

By 2013, I had sold a lot of my games, but had kept all my consoles and I discovered there are a lot of people out there who, like me, still love the old games as much as new ones and there are groups out there focused on collecting retro games.  I decided that I wanted to gather up some of the old games and start to dig more into the history of video games over the years and decided I’d go back and get every system I’ve ever played in addition to the ones I’ve owned through the years and plan to build a “Top 100” library for each console.

My library now includes:
Atari 2600
Nintendo Entertainment System
Game Boy
Sega Genesis with Sega CD & Sega 32X
Game Gear
Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Sega Saturn
Sega Dreamcast
N64
GameCube
Playstation
Playstation 2
Playstation 3
Playstation Vita
Nintendo Wii
Playstation 4

Fair warning now, I’ve never been an X-Box fan and have never played X-Box, X-Box 360, nor do I have any interest in the X-Box One.

I’ve also got a fairly well rooted history with MMORPGs as well!  I played EverQuest for about 4 years, Final Fantasy XI for 1 year, World of Warcraft for 9 continuous, uninterrupted years, dabbled in Lord of the Rings Online, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, and Final Fantasy XIV before finally moving currently into Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.

So there you have my background in Video Games, but what’s up with the title of this blog saying “& More” huh?  Well, I’m not just a gaming geek, I’m a well rounded geek/nerd!

At age 10, I picked up X-Men #1
https://i2.wp.com/static1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20091219024361/marveldatabase/images/c/c3/X-Men_Vol_2_1_Variant_C.jpg
So now I’ve been collecting comic books for 23 years.  I’ve focused on X-Men, but I’ve collected quite a few Uncanny X-Men, a full run of Wolverine, and full run of Amazing Spider-Man from its first relaunch/renumbering (later dropped for the standard numbering) along with a decent mix of other titles from Marvel, an occasional run in Batman, and some other publishers as well.  Currently, Superior Spider-Man (soon to again be Amazing Spider-Man) and IDW’s TMNT are my favorite monthly books and I’ve lost so much interest since Marvel Now!, my ongoing subscription to Wolverine and any X-Titles is really in question.

I also am a bit of an otaku, having started with Sci-Fi Channel airing what was then Saturday Anime, but often called Japanimation at the time with Akira, Vampire Hunter D, Project A-Ko, and one of my favorites to this day, Record of Lodoss War.

1673159-lodoss
Kind of surprising how well D&D works as an anime.

Over the years, I’ve continued to watch anime and have attended A-Kon in Dallas, TX for the last nine years with 2014 being my 10 year anniversary in attendance.  If I get any readers to this blog who love anime, don’t hesitate to e-mail suggestions to watch!  This anime interest has extended into a few series of manga, though I don’t tend to pick those up anymore simply due to the sheer volume of a series and the cost in keeping up with it.

My interest in anime has also led me to a financially semi-unhealthy interest in statues and figures, which weren’t so bad contained to anime, but got a bit insane expanding to the statue maquettes from Sideshow Collectibles of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Fellowship of the Ring (where’s Merry and Pippin, Sideshow?!)

I also enjoy a lot of different movies, TV series, animated series, and web series such as the Jace Hall Show and Felicia Day’s The Guild!

So that explains the “Games & More” so we’re all done!

Wait, what’s up with the whole “Ninja Fox” thing?  Well, to put it simply, I like foxes and I like ninja.  A friend of mine and I were developing a web comic that I’m now planning to move to a novel format and one of the main characters is based off Japanese kitsune myths and is admittedly one of my favorite characters in the series.  The character’s name is “Swift” (yes, that just might be a slight homage to this guy) and he’s a ninja and has fox ears and a tail.  On various forums and online games I’ll use NinjaFox, or SwiftNinjaFox as a handle.

So there you have it. A potentially unnecessarily long introduction to this blog.  I look forward to writing and sharing more thoughts, opinions, and perhaps a small helping of nonsense.

-Jeff “SwiftNinjaFox”