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by Ethos

Fireside Games Countdown #1 – Star Fox 64

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

Ethos’ Fireside Games are games that he can pull out at any moment and it will soothe his fruity soul in one way or another. It is the perfect mix of nostalgia and comfort. It is a game that gives the same feeling it did the first time he played it. It’s the sort of game that can create the most unique distinct cravings that only the game itself can satisfy. Ethos is counting down his top #5 all week.

Fox! Look behind you!

Fox! Look behind you!

#1 Fireside Game – Star Fox 64
My god I love this game. I’ve been steadily quoting it for over 12 years and it’s one of the few games that I can proudly say I’m good at. Perhaps I don’t know it like the back of my hand anymore, but I know my favourite route, and that’s the route I take when Star Fox 64 becomes the best fireside game. The incredibly memorable (and cheesy) dialogue to the perfect on-rails timing makes for a the ultimate half hour dose of warm gaming goodness. I talk alongside the game almost like singing along to a very popular song, and I get excited for every single level. Not just that, although I’m extremely familiar with every moment in the game, there is still challenge present to make the game have endless replay value; an important trait for a Fireside Game. The game is all about the high score and keeping your teammates alive, and all these responsibilities are dispensed at a challenging but not frustrating rate. It’s a wonderful balance of the comfortable expected and the challenging variable.

Star Fox 64 is absolutely the game I have beat the most number of times. I can knock out a playthrough in 30 minutes and I usually want to play it again right after. It’s absolutely a comfort to remember when Star Fox was all about the simple and satisfying gameplay and ridiculous characters. In fact, I’ll probably knock off another playthrough tonight.

Fireside Games Countdown #2 – Flower

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

Ethos’ Fireside Games are games that he can pull out at any moment and it will soothe his fruity soul in one way or another. It is the perfect mix of nostalgia and comfort. It is a game that gives the same feeling it did the first time he played it. It’s the sort of game that can create the most unique distinct cravings that only the game itself can satisfy. Ethos is counting down his top #5 all week.

One of my favourite levels

One of my favourite levels

#2 Fireside Game – Flower
Okay, so one of my old standbys managed to grapple their way onto this list. It’s the only one you’ll see from my top 5 favourite list, but there’s no way it couldn’t earn a top spot as a Fireside Game.

The recent analogy I’ve been using is that Flower is like a great album. There are levels for every mood that work great individually, or if you have the time, the entire piece works wonderfully as a whole. That definitely leaves no question as to why this game is on this list. Each level is a different emotion in playable form. If the lights are off, and the music is blasted, the game gives a better sensation of flying than any other attempt in video game form. Not only that, but it’s a great fireside game because of the flexibility of the levels. You could beat a level in 5 minutes for a quick fix or take half an hour collecting every petal, and consequently using the extra speed and height to explore every inch of the world.

But, also like a great album, there are times when you want to take a break from it to listen to other music. And perhaps that’s the reason why Flower isn’t in the number one spot. It’s not a game I often talk about, so start your guessing.

Fireside Games Countdown #3 – Pokémon Platinum

Friday, December 18th, 2009

Ethos’ Fireside Games are games that he can pull out at any moment and it will soothe his fruity soul in one way or another. It is the perfect mix of nostalgia and comfort. It is a game that gives the same feeling it did the first time he played it. It’s the sort of game that can create the most unique distinct cravings that only the game itself can satisfy. Ethos is counting down his top #5 all week.

pokemon-platinum#3 Fireside Game – Pokémon Platinum
Oh Pokémon. This was an easy choice. Any time I’m not in the middle of a game, I will play Pokémon. Whenever a new version comes out, it is guaranteed that I will buy it day one and beat it faster than I beat most games. Now Silver is my favourite version overall, and Yellow is probably the version I’ve spent the most time with, but the Pokémon games are so near identical, I always play the latest one just for the convenience of playing it on the portable system I’m carrying around anyway, and because the interface changes are noticeable enough to feel annoyed playing the older versions.

Although it may be obvious, Pokémon Platinum makes an excellent Fireside Game because of its reliable and pick-up-and-play nature. I know what I’m getting, and it hits the spot every time. It’s a comfort because it can always be with you. Sure it’s a little depressing, but because the DS versions can essentially be played with one hand, I can spend my entire day with those addicting little mother fuckers. Also with the absurd number of creatures stuffed into the game, I can switch it up enough to not get bored. Pokémon is the series that got me into RPGs. I’ve been playing it for a decade and I will very likely being playing it until the day I die. It is reliable, fun, and the perfect Fireside Game. The only reason it’s third, really, is because I find that snuggling on a couch with a portable system doesn’t bring the same Fireside imagery as console games. Anyway, I have a party to go to. Suck it, chumps!

Fireside Games Countdown #4 – Final Fantasy X

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

ffxboxartEthos’ Fireside Games are games that he can pull out at any moment and it will soothe his fruity soul in one way or another. It is the perfect mix of nostalgia and comfort. It is a game that gives the same feeling it did the first time he played it. It’s the sort of game that can create the most unique distinct cravings that only the game itself can satisfy. Ethos is counting down his top #5 all week.

#4 Fireside Game – Final Fantasy X
Bloo-ya! Bet you didn’t see that coming! Yup, although Final Fantasy X comes after IX and XII and VII and maybe V on my list of overall favourites, it’s actually the Final Fantasy I get the most distinct cravings for. The unique world, quick battle system, and addicting sphere grid hit the spot for me if I just need to play an RPG that’s familiar and fun without feeling the need to play the entire game. It also took me a while to get a PS2, so finally being able to play a new Final Fantasy on my own system was a big joy. Like any good comfort game, Final Fantasy X represents that blend of nostalgia and hitting the exact spot of a good game craving. It probably also helps that it takes quicker to go up a Sphere Level than it would a traditional level for that feeling for quick satisfaction.

So why choose X over IX? Sure, IX is a comfort for me too, and of course it has oodles of nostalgia as well, but if I’m going to play IX, I want to start from the beginning and I want to do everything. I want to collect every item and learn every ability. In X, I don’t care where I start. I’ll enjoy the locales, the music, and the battle system without feeling the need to do more or less than I want to. Maybe I’ll play for 5 minutes, or maybe I’ll play for 4 hours. Either way, Final Fantasy X is a comfort, my go-to fix for a lazy day made for playing (semi) modern RPGs, and well deserving of the #4 spot.

Fireside Games Countdown #5 – Wave Race: Blue Storm

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Here it is, folks. One of two extremely bizarre lists you can look forward to this week. Because we’re taking a break next week, Riddles and I have decided to go out swinging to bring you all our first dual-countdown since Romance Week.

But instead of co-producing two connected lists, we have two independent countdowns. I’ll let Riddles explain his at the right time. For now I’ll briefly explain this one.

A fireside game is a game that you can pull out at any moment and it will soothe the soul in one way or another. It is the perfect mix of nostalgia and comfort. It is a game that gives the same feeling it did the first time you played it. It’s the sort of game that can create the most unique distinct cravings that only the game itself can satisfy.

Now I’ve been able to successfully avoid most of my old standbys while creating this list, so it should make it more interesting to see what comes next knowing it won’t be a Final Fantasy IX/Ocarina of Time love-fest. But that’s enough explanation, onto the list.

256px-Waveracebluestorm#5 Fireside Game – Wave Race: Blue Storm
Yes, I did love Wave Race 64 as well, but I just spent more time learning the exact physics of the best launch title for Nintendo’s purple cube that couldn’t. Something about Blue Storm just makes me remember how I felt back when I owned fewer consoles, fewer games, and spent way more time getting intimate with select titles. Wave Race could also be relentless. A single mistake could throw a whole race which would throw a whole championship. The tracks and characters were few, but that’s what makes this a fireside game. I remember the exact details of every track, the exact intonation of Nigel Carver’s trainer’s voice edging him to do just a little better. The interactive loading screens remind me of what used to impress me, and the whole interface brings me back to a time when it was easier to just be a blissful Nintendo Fanboy.

At least in those days, games like Blue Storm did exist to prove that Nintendo wanted to be cutting edge. To this day, Blue Storm remains one of the most subtle and intense racing games available, and it’s definitely a game I like to pop in during a snowy day to remember my troubled love affair with the Nintendo Gamecube.