My Tumblr: ultrace.tumblr.com
Who is Ultrace, this crazy person who thinks his words are worth your precious time? The answer may surprise you. Or not.
My life with video games started humbly as a chance encounter at a bus stop in 1981 with the Midway classic Gorf. Entranced by its flashy lights, mind-blowing graphics (remember, this was 1981–the movie Tron hadn’t even been released yet) and digitized voice declaring “I am of the Gorfian Empire,” it was love at first sight. Although I never became any good at Gorf, I’ll never forget the impact it had on a much younger me.
In the 34 years since, video games have been a continual part of my life. I’ve played games from every major system released, and own 17 game systems (including my beloved Commodore 64.) I own hundreds of games and almost as many game soundtracks, including dozens that I’ve recorded myself. I have lived through various console wars–Atari vs. Colecovision, Master System vs. NES vs. Genesis vs. Super Nintendo, Saturn vs. Playstation, Dreamcast vs. PS2 vs. XBox and of course those of the current generation. I’ve seen games come from a fad that would never go anywhere to a fad that was really popular to mainstream entertainment raking in billions of dollars a year for the industry. I reveled in the legendary arcade scene of old and wept when it was reduced to nothing more than a scattering of dancing, shooting and racing games. I’ve been to gaming conventions and even run a streaming game music radio station.
Why all the horn-tooting? Because by coming to this page, you asked and it’s important to know that while I’m not always right, I don’t just throw my opinions around without some knowledge of game history and atmosphere to back it up.
What kind of games do I like? Anyone who reads three sentences that I’ve written will probably be able to deduce that I am a particular fan of sprite-based gaming. Sure, it has its limitations depending on what kind of game you’re trying to make, but consoles even up through this generation just can’t render polygonal images that compete with the beauty of well-done sprite art–admit it, move past your grief and your life will be better for it.
As for the actual genres, I’m a large fan of role-playing games both classic and modern, with my roots going back into Wizardry, Bard’s Tale, Wasteland and even action-RPG hybrids like the Apshai series and obscure masterpiece Sword of Kadash. These are the games that I would spend 12+ hours a day playing in the basement when I could have been wasting my time doing things like breathing fresh air outside.
I love shoot-em-ups of the old school variety–I cut my gaming teeth on Galaga and Gyruss and played the heck out of the respective R-Type and Gradius series, with plenty of solo games like Legendary Wings and Dragon Spirit tossed in. Although I like the presentation of “Bullet Hell” shooters like ESP Ra.De and Ikaruga, I don’t enjoy playing them.
I am not, in general, a fan of first-person shooters, especially since I don’t really enjoy online play with those games and the single-player campaign is often lacking. I’ll still play and enjoy some of these (on normal difficulty levels), but they are never a top choice. One definite exception to this is Borderlands, which many will argue is only superficially a shooter game, but it carries a first-person perspective and has you shooting people as the primary method of advancement? That’s a first-person shooter.
Unless a racer has heavy arcade roots like Burnout or Blur, it’s probably not for me. I am not a good in-game driver and any game such as Gran Turismo that expects me to be so will usually end in disappointment. I need forgiving car-to-car physics and the ability to grind walls on turns without instantly wiping out.
I love turn-based strategy games, either controlling individual characters (such as in Vandal Hearts, Final Fantasy Tactics, or Disgaea) or macro strategy (such as Civilization and Master of Magic.) I am not good at Real-Time-Simulations like Starcraft or Command and Conquer; I find myself inevitably frustrated by control schemes that leave me unable to keep track of what’s going on in the game or direct my units to do anything other than eat the ground.
Well, there you have it, a variety of likes and dislikes as well as more information about me than you likely wanted. We now return to your regularly scheduled gaming.