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Mar 5th, 2013

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15:09 - Pick it up for...
As most humans who know me, they know I am a gamer. Being a gamer might have something to do with my brain’s fixation on technology at an extremely young age. It could be due to ties that I have with my childhood, as having a connection with something in most people’s past is important to them. Some might say that most important adult goals have their roots in childhood memories. Others would say that every day adult life is touched by the memories of childhood experiences, or that our grown up fears were the spawn of childhood thoughts, as well as our anxieties, and that our most negative adult views of our persona stem from extreme younger memories. What no one seems to figure out, from my research, is the reason all of these things are true.

Right now, I am listening to Life Force (NES) RRemixed – Part 1 of 2 / Part 2 of 2. It takes, what is one of my favorite games of all times, and mixes them together in an extremely different and unique way. Life Force, by all comparison to today’s games, is really nothing of a game. You have a few stages, where the stage boss is about as difficult to defeat as it is difficult for me to determine if I am going to wear a Floyd shirt for the day or not. The music is impressively done to the game, and the remixes I have come across in my life on this planet have been massively impressive. I have done a LOT to find as much music as I can from the game in the many forms, both official (Konami and their reuse of music in various games) and unofficial (people well beyond more talented than I ever could be that take an 8-bit melody and turn it into an orchestration of heavenly proportions). I get all motating and gyrating about, with goosebumps, and sometimes absolutely zone off into space. I might forget the fact my life means nothing in the grand scheme of things, or that as an adult I have all this responsibility I am suppose to deal with. Life is much easier to contend with when I can just hop into my Vic-Viper and blow shit up.

While I cannot explain for the life of me the reason my attached memories are as they are to me, at least in this case I can remember something about them. Back in the day when I was in Council Bluffs, my mother use to take me to the local arcade at the Mall of the Bluffs. There was this fun game I kind of liked. I cannot find it or remember the name of it for the life of me. It was a multiplayer game where you were flying ships, and would shoot at things, and when there was another player you could “attach” your ship to their ship. I enjoyed that game, because it was a fun game to play with other people. However, there was a game I loved EVEN MORE. For the “life” of me (pun intended), I cannot remember the reason I enjoyed it so much. The game was damn well impossible to beat, and took a lot of quarters. I actually do not remember this part of it, I only take it from the fact when I play it on MAME that I know how damn impossible it is. The game is the Konami sequel to Gradius; Life Force. “Flame eruption!” The game was released sometime around 1986(? debated), meaning I was 12-13 when the game came out in arcades.

It really shows what kind of mother I had, given the fact she was not only pumping quarters to me, but also standing there watching as I played the game. In fact, while I am not exactly sure the reason it happened, I was unable to use my “good hand” at one point, making playing the game near impossible with one hand: can’t pilot and shoot at the same time. Well, when this happened, mother decided to take over the shooting for me while I flew the Vic-Viper into victory (in all honesty, I probably was flying Vic into a fiery ball of death, destruction, and various body parts seeing how I was flying around inside a living organism.) I cannot remember some of the most important aspects of my existence, yet this thought is stuck into my mind.

I also remember that I saved up a lot of money for my NES. Back in the day when I was this age, saving up money was a big thing. When I finally had enough money saved and wanted to get one, my parental units decided to get the system for me, as well as one game. I don't remember why, nor what I did with the extra money. However, I do know that the first game I bought with my NES was Life Force. One thing I was not prepared for back then was the extreme difference between an arcade game and counsel game. This NES game I played was nothing like the arcade game past level 1. Little did I know at the time how wonderful an experience this would be. Also, for the first time I could finally consistently beat this game! This is the first game I would learn the Konami Code from. It would also be the first time I would have a "game within a game". Any gamer has their "game within a game" with their favorite games. The stage four - Cell Stage 2 boss, Skull, would come at you with bullets everywhere. After doing enough damage, his eyes would fly out at you. At one point playing this game over and over, I decided to fly around him to get away from his bullets to find that when I was on top of the screen and his last eye popped out, he would constantly fire towards the top of the screen. The only thing I had to worry about was his crazy eyes coming after me. However, once they were destroyed, I could just sit there, doing absolutely nothing. I think it is one of my favorite game within a game tricks. Maybe it has something to do with the fact I figured it all out by myself. After all, there was no Internet then as Al Gore had not invented it yet. It could simply be due to the strange brain configuration I have that makes some things extremely amusing. It could also be due to the fact the music hits certain parts of my brain. If I am dyslexic, then it would be interesting in how music works on me since it is generally processed in the right hemisphere of the brain, affecting hormones, encouraging the production of cortisol, testosterone, and oxytocin (the "love drug"). I have heard music being used as "therapy" for dyslexia. There could be a pattern there. Of course, I could be beyond crazy, so, who knows. Dyslexia would cause timing difficulties in music. I happen to excel in the "art" of music. I know one common symptom of one with dyslexia is an attempt to overcompensate for things. Mentally pushing myself to excel in music could be an effect of this. It might also explain my obsession with 24 hour time.

Maybe something happened to me that I don't remember in my experiences with Life Force. After all, my memory seems to be confused on certain time line events. My mother was no longer living in Council Bluffs when I went to Tri-Center my Freshman year (1988-1993). Information shows the game should have been released in August 1, 1988, when I would have been 13.5 years old. The NES was released in Oct 18, 1985. Now, if memory serves me, which it rarely does, I ended up with the Action Set that was released in 1988, because I had Duck Hunt and a light zapper (still have both to this day). So maybe my only real confusion is how Life Force is release in 1988 in the States so late. Of course, another source shows 1987 in the States. I will add it all to my large list of questions for God when I see Him.

I am really thankful Stingray is as into this game as he is. I wonder how he got into it. I know he was a Gradius champ.
Current Location: 925 High St, IA 50309
Current Mood: artisticartistic
Current Music: Life Force (NES) RRemixed - Parts 1 & 2, "DJ Axis"

[[2 comments | Train your Brain]]


[User Picture]
Date:Mar 18th, 2013 17:30 (UTC)

Destroy the Core!

Ah, the question of Gradius... a good one indeed. I believe it started when I lived in Michigan in Rochester Hills. I don't know my exact age, but can really tell time best by all the places my family moved during my childhood. So, I believe it was in Michigan, 1986-7? We used to go to this pizza place called Mr. B's with my brother and mom. Mr B's was most memorable, not necessarily for their pizzas, but more fore their small collection of arcade games. I played the game Marble Madness over and over despite its crazy difficulty along with a Play Choice machine that had a bunch of NES games inside of it that you could choose to play, one of those, was of course Gradius.

Upon the first couple times of playing Gradius, the thing that really stuck out was the fact that you could actually choose your power-ups strategically rather than just picking up random stuff. I don't recall a lot of games that had this feature. So, when it came time to do some game shopping, since Marble Madness wasn't out for the NES yet, I picked up a copy of Gradius. It was just as difficult as I remembered, but it kept me playing and figuring out that as long as you could keep your weapons once you got them powered up, you could get far in the game. I believe my brother was the one who told me the Konami code. I dunno if he heard if from some friends (as there definitely wasn't internet at the time), but he also heard about some limitation that you could only use one per level. There was also a continue level code after your last ship expired (but I less than successful getting that to work) The strategy to beating Gradius, was using this "cheat code" sparingly. I remember first beating the game after getting through the near impossible hail of bullets level and getting to the final boss that offered no opposition. But then, after you beat it? The game still kept continuing with a harder difficulty. So, this began my obsession with Gradius games.

Fast forward a year or two(?) later and I'm looking at a game magazine and see screen shots for a game called Life Force that seemed to be a sort of sequel to Gradius. The screenshot showed similar Gradius game play with powerups and such, but what caught my eye is that there were 2 ships on screen. Then I read 2 player, simultaneous! In the original Gradius, you could play 2 player, but you had to wait your turn until the other player lost a ship, or you could select one player mode and fight the other person using the second controller to control your ship to survive. (a fun sibling mini-game indeed!) But this was 2 players at the same time. So, I asked for it and got it for Christmas, and played the crap out of it. Once you got the Konami code for 30 lives, it was one of those games that wasn't difficult and fun to play through all the levels with a friend, and to keep looping levels after that! I became obsessed with 2 player simultaneous games. And sometime later, I bought Nemesis for Gameboy which was like a shortened version of Gradius that I could play on car trips.

Fast forward more years, while in junior high, I proudly used my own money to buy a Super NES. Of course it came with Super Mario World, but I wanted to buy another game with it. Looking at my choices, I saw a seriously discounted Gradius III sitting on the shelf, and I knew I had to get it, despite having read reviews that as one of the first SNES games developed, it had major slowdown issues. When I first played Gradius III, I was blown away. Not only could I choose my weapons via the standard power capsules in the game, but I could choose which weapons were available with the weapon edit function at the beginning of the game! I went through all the combinations, impressed at the variety of weapons available. Then, once I found my favorites, I started advancing further and further through the game, till I beat it on Beginner. Then, Normal, Then Hard, and I read in a magazine that there was a way to select Arcade. And finally, I beat that... I'm give up...

The only downside to Gradius III was no two-player simultaneous... Then you showed me Gradius V, which is like THE perfect Gradius game... :-)

And that's the story!
[User Picture]
Date:Mar 18th, 2013 18:48 (UTC)

Re: Destroy the Core!

You know that is funny because Salamander, the JP game that started it all for me (and obviously known as Life force in the US) was not based on the power up meter, and both of us have been known quoting that rather frequently ("Pick it up for..."). Of course, even the JP Gradius used the power up system.

Yeah I remember when I had my PS2 at some point I bought the Gradius III/IV since at that point in my life Life Force had dominated my world. at the time I believe it had been out for a while, so it was a used game. Then at one point, I believe thanks to the internet, I found out about Gradius V (2004). It had been out for a while and when I saw it was a totally new game I knew I had to buy it. However, I was not even close to ready or prepared for everything the game had to offer. The big obvious for me was the 2 player, as it was something I only expected from Salamander/Life Force. However, the music for some of the levels just about stunned me in my tracks. Even the new music for the game not hashed from other Gradius/Salamander/Life Force titles was beautifully written. I also knew when I saw the game and after I played it I *HAD* to play it with you, and I certainly was right. I remember many hours spent on that game.

That's a great and awesome story! Thanks for sharing it! Pick it up for POWER OUT of Anger!

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