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About Jaicee

  • Birthday 05/23/1982

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  1. Okay so to respond to some of the implied critiques of opinions I stated in the OP that people have made: You hate trans people! I make no claim to know all there is to know about gender identity and it's definitely possible there's simply key knowledge I don't have as yet. To this end, I try to keep an open mind and reserve the right to change my opinion. However, I will say that I actually used to be a lot more supportive of transgenderism than I am today. My current opinion of the gender identity movement has been largely informed by the fact that I've walked through the gender transition experience with a woman who eventually de-transitioned, i.e. reverted back to identifying with her biological sex. She was a friend of mine and I supporter all three of her transitions each step of the way: from identifying as female to non-binary to male and back to female again. As much is more than can be said of her transgender, now-former friends. She found that her experience was unhelpful and psychologically costly in the long run. She wound up turning to gender critical feminism in the end, and so did I along with her. We're still good friends to this day. I've come to view gender as an industry. It's a concept that has been popularized in recent decades for the purpose of replacing the more objective, material notion of biological sex with subjective constructs that have to be bought. Medicalization of the subject (preferably in childhood at that) is curiously vital to de-pathologizing trans identities and this I find disturbing. If becoming and remaining your natural self requires you (or your parents, as the case may be) to pay for puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and even sex reassignment surgeries sometimes...well that just doesn't strike me as realistically a very natural at all. Likewise, I find it similarly curious and disturbing that gender identity practically only exists among lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. I'm primarily concerned for the mental-emotional well-being of trans-identified people. The way it strikes me is that gender identity is an industry capitalizing on the insecurities that mostly gay and lesbian and bisexual people have and co-opting our language to engineer social movements of their own that create demand for their products. When gay and lesbian people successfully got the psychiatric community de-pathologize sexual orientation, the demand was for it to be DE-medicalized. And I've noticed that the ascendancy of the gender identity movement into the cultural mainstream over the course of recent decades (but especially this last one) in this country has overlapped with the disappearance of lesbian cultural life. As Katie Herzog has aptly pointed out, there is a direct relationship between those two things. As the lesbian bars and night clubs and other lesbian-specific and lesbian-identified cultural spaces (including the annual Michigan Womyn's Music Festival I used to enjoy attending before trans activists got it cancelled in 2015) have vanished, more and more young lesbians and bisexual girls and young women have begun "coming out" as queer and non-binary and transmen instead, whatever any of that even means. That sense of cultural identity as lesbians existed for a reason. It was important. It needed to be there. Without it, I wouldn't have had the courage to come out as lesbian myself. I can only imagine what young lesbians today must go through in the absence of any kind of autonomous cultural identity or exclusive safe spaces of their own. Now there is something else more fashionable, and more profitable for a whole new industry, for young lesbians to come out as instead. What I find even more disturbing though is the now-commonplace insistence that trans-identified people and biological women cannot and should not both enjoy basic rights, such as rights to safety, privacy, fair play, and freedom of speech and assembly. Rather, compromising the rights of women seems to be a goal of central importance to the gender identity movement despite the real-world examples of countries that already have state policies establishing separate, specialized shelters for women and trans people and likewise separate and specialized prisons for women and trans-identified inmates, for instance, such as to prevent transwomen from facing harassment and violence in men's prisons, but without compromising the safety of women by transferring convicted "not male" rapists to women's prisons. Why cannot such model policy simply be replicated here? Why is there a need to erase all sex-based rights here, and for girls and women in particular? You're a communist! Why do you back the old Soviet Union?! The word I used to describe my preferred form of socialist reorganization was actually communalist. I feel that this note is important to make because I don't at all consider myself a Marxist or a proponent of Soviet style "socialism". I'm absolutely against police states and all-powerful bureaucracies. Personally, I don't even see the old Soviet system as authentically socialist at all. These systems involved much state ownership to be sure, but the key thing to recognize is that the state itself was private property (in this case of a particular political party) in the same way that feudal systems privatize the state by bringing it under the exclusive ownership of a landed gentry or particular family or religious institution, for example. Social ownership and control -- including of the government -- is a crucial and defining component-part of socialism in my book. Political democracy, to the extent that it actually brings the public itself into control of the policies and machinations of the government, is, put in economic terms, public ownership and management of the state. Thus are democracy and socialism absolutely inseparable things in my view of it. There is no such thing as legitimate socialism that doesn't revolve around a democratic decision-making process. There exist democratic socialists and there exist fake socialists. That is all. You own firearms. You support gun violence! Not at all! I own hunting rifles for survival, so I can eat. I live in a very small town near a wooded area. Most people here live near or below the poverty line and hunger is a common problem. Speaking for myself, it's often been the case that charity came up short or my food stamps ran out or that I just got tired of relying on handouts and found it demeaning, frankly. It's commonplace for people here to hunt for food in the woods. I do so when the sorts of things I've just described happen to me. Without that option, I would definitely wind up going without meals more often. It's simply not practical or reasonable to ask people around here to jettison such options. It just isn't. I also own hand guns for my own peace of mind because I've been in life-threatening situations before where one might've come in handy -- not even as a killing device necessarily, but just as an instrument of intimidation that could potentially get one out of a deadly scenario. I'm sorry but pepper spray just doesn't have the same impact. I have a license and have been around firearms my whole life. I know best practices. Maybe my hand guns keep me safer and maybe they don't, but what they do give me regardless is a heightened peace of mind. Now I understand that as much cannot be said of everyone. Not everyone knows or engages in best practices and there are unfortunately loopholes in our legal codes that often allow criminals and others who simply shouldn't have access to these sorts of deadly weapons to acquire them. I am in favor of closing those loopholes and for improving background checks for gun purchases in general. As to like assault rifles, I don't own or need those and nobody else needs them either. Those are weapons of war solely useful for killing large numbers of people, as in mass shootings. I am fine with straight-up banning the future sale of these weapons. That position is one of extreme controversy in my community where these sorts of weapons are often used as part of the local cultural life for entertainment purposes (like blowing shit to kingdom come for the hell of doing so; something that simply feels gratifying to do) and because some people here can be paranoid and some really do think that there might need to be another civil war in this country at some point that they'd like to be prepared for. I'm not of that mindset. These weapons have simply cost far too many innocent people their lives for entertainment value and irrational fear of urban dwellers to justify their legality, in my view. I think it's best not to assume that people who live differently than you are dangerous or less rational because they do so or that they generally stake out political positions in bad faith.
  2. Do my best to be honest about the state of things, and honest about my opinions as well (when I'm allowed to be). I'm not woke enough to back a monarchy or rounding up people for disagreeing with the Democratic Party personally, but I can appreciate the spirit in the sense that I found this last administration kind of traumatizing on a certain level (to say nothing of just plain degrading and embarrassing) and am pretty damn gratified that it's over. However, I have enough confidence in the American people that they won't let this happen again. Trump could very well win the Republican nomination again for 2024, but he won't be president again. I also don't think pure motives necessarily have anything to do being a good president in reality, or else history might take a dimmer view of the narcissist Franklin Roosevelt's transformative impact on the nation than of say Nice Guy Jimmy Carter.
  3. Whelp, it's been 100 days of style since Joe Biden became president of my country. Throughout my lifetime, the press has held the passage of 100 days as a significant milestone after which it is time to reflect on how the new administration is doing so far. So let us do that. ...*shrugs* Fine by me. Reflection over. Okay, it's not really over, but I think that sums up my feelings, and probably those of most Americans, pretty well right now. If not massively so, Biden is nonetheless a popular president so far. In the current moving average of polls, he's above water by 11 points (53.1% approve, while 42.1% disapprove). He's faring worse than Obama was at this same point in his presidency so far in popularity, but unsurprisingly better than Trump was. (Trump was already underwater by this point.) It kinda makes sense when you watch Fox News try and complain these days. Their gripes are occasionally substantive, but more often strike one as kind of desperate. Like I glimpsed at a Fox program last night where the headline was "Biden's Covid Extremism Killing Small Business" for example. In reality, the economy grew at an annualized rate of 6.4% this last quarter, employers added 916,000 jobs in March alone, the average American's income rose 21.1% in March for the biggest single-month gain since records thereon were first kept in 1959, and even the previous administration's precious, precious stock market has reached all-time highs, all mostly due to the successful vaccine rollout this administration has overseen (we've become a world leader in Covid vaccination, with the majority of our adult population having already received at least one shot) and injection of a new wave of stimulus (which Republicans opposed and voted against!) into the economy. Compare this to where we were at the start of the year, in the waning days of the last administration, facing down the largest and worst Covid surge yet (almost 300,000 new cases being added a day at some points!), with the economy beginning to slow down and stagnate again as a result, a joke of an initial "warp speed" vaccine rollout that saw the virus spread much faster than shots, and the aura of the events of January 6th hanging heavy in the air. You really want to go back to that; to what we had before this administration took over the reins? Really? Anyone? Any sane and sober person? Most people don't. That's probably why the majority of Americans approve not only of Biden's job performance overall, but also more specifically of Biden's handling of the economy according to the aforementioned moving average of polls, and why an even larger 63% majority approve of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. It's tough being a partisan conservative these days. You find yourself tasked with opposing peace (the new administration has set out to bring the last U.S. troops home from Afghanistan this year and restored previously fraying diplomatic ties with our allies), rapidly expanding prosperity, and public health. How to do this in a way that will resonate with the average American? I don't think you really can. You saw that desperation on full display in Tim Scott's official Republican rebuttal to President Biden's "not" State of the Union address Wednesday evening; that certain grasping at stuff to object to. In reality, every viewer survey has found that Biden's speech, with its heavy focus on bread-and-butter, kitchen table issues, was overwhelmingly popular. (71% of CNN viewers approved of the overall contents, for example, as did 85% of those surveyed by CBS and YouGov, and so on and so on). Frankly, of course they did! Biden had shit to boast about and proposed to the American people $4 trillion in more stuff and told them they won't have to pay for it! What other public response was to be expected, outrage? It's tough being a Republican these days. Which is probably why not so many people still are. Seriously, the Democrats now enjoy a 9-point advantage in voter identification over the GOP, which is notably a wider advantage than the more usual 4 to 6 point gap. Biden is hardly without his faults though. Only a minority of the public approves of his immigration policies, for example, and I particularly object to the White House's attempts to conceal the squalid conditions in our migrant holding facilities; the absolutely packed cages for children and so forth. And some of you here know some about some of my other policy concerns around women's rights and what I feel was a missed best opportunity to raise the federal minimum wage. These are important issues to me as a woman who has had the misfortune of landing in spaces like a shelter for battered women and a women's jail before (for example) and is tasked with living on $9.40 an hour. If not for stimulus checks I've received since the onset of Covid, I'd still be living well below the poverty line right now, and will likely wind up back in that place by next year. These concerns pale though compared to the benefits of living under the current administration so far. For example, the main issue women's shelters have faced in the last year is an increased backlog from the lockdown period that saw a major increase in domestic violence result from people being stuck at home with abusive partners. Likewise, the unchecked spread of Covid-19 in the prison system has been by far the biggest safety concern for inmates. Therefore, defeating the coronavirus -- which is something that wasn't exactly going to happen under Trump -- is the paramount priority in my mind even for women-specific spaces. Is it possible for the Republicans to stage a comeback from where they are now and win back one or both chambers of Congress next year? Yup! The GOP came back from a deeper hole in party affiliation at this same point in 2009 to win what became known as the tea party wave election in the fall of 2010, for instance, and also came back from a deeper hole in party affiliation at this same point in 1993 to win the 1994 midterm elections by a considerable margin. The party out of power, matter-of-factly, almost always at least makes gains in midterm election cycles. I can think of lots of ways that same thing could happen this time around as well. The easiest way I can think of would be for the Democrats not to pass either the Jobs Plan or the Families Plan in any form between now and the fall of next year (since all of the provisions in the Rescue Plan, the recent Covid relief package, are temporary and expire in time for the 2022 midterms (unlike the minimum wage provision that got stripped from the bill, which was a permanent provision they could've actually run on)!) and also take what's really started to become their natural anti-free speech side of this upcoming, high profile case -- the biggest student speech case in half a century -- to land before the Supreme Court in the meanwhile; the side that tries to dries to draw a straight line from swearing on the internet to crime and illegal activity. Just as an example of what the path to a Democratic defeat might look like. It would be historically unusual if the Republicans didn't at least gain a few Congressional seats next year. But then it's also historically unusual for a sitting president to be defeated in a re-election bid and that happened last year. (Yes, it did Republicans; quit denying it!) Unusual things happen too. And from where things are sitting right now, at this moment, there's just not that much to complain about. I'm pretty contented with the current administration overall so far. It's been a good start. Agree? More or less? No?
  4. Awesome! We might just have a few things in common in terms of searching out a sense of purpose in life, Zandra. Look forward to hearing more from ya! 😎
  5. Like I said, you strike me as an honest person. Between that and some of my own experiences, I'm inclined to believe you. You're speaking to someone who has attempted suicide twice myself. And I already couldn't forget you if I tried. 😊
  6. I'll leave the rest of your post alone so you don't like hunt me down and kill me or something, but I'll just say that personally I think you're pretty awesome already, based on what limited amount I know of you anyway. I love your passion about like everything because it tells me that you're an honest person and that's something that's important to me. I'm sure the feeling is hardly mutual (like everyone hates me everywhere, seriously), but nonetheless.
  7. I've been playing It Takes Two and would highly recommend it if you have a partner to play it with!
  8. Sorry, I know it's been a while since I've been here now. I've meant to visit more but life has just kept getting in the way since that winter storm that knocked out my state's power grid back in February. I had no choice (financially) but to keep going to work throughout that and the store I work at was on back-up generators for two days so wasn't able to open. That left me with lots of spare time to do little more than just sit/stand around chatting with the few other people who bothered coming in and one of them was a new hire (what a time to start, right?!). The two of us just clicked and since then we've become an item. I'm all vaccinated now and everything too, so we've finally gotten the chance to start going on formal dates. Anyway, that all's tied up a lot of my leisure time of late, and that which I haven't spent in some way involved with her either directly or indirectly has been spent on other forums I've been frequenting longer and have developed a more established presence on and investment in. Sorry about that! I have enjoyed my time here so far! Anyway, just wanted to get to know everyone a little better than I've been able to up to now. Where would you say you stand on the political spectrum? Personally, I don't really and truly feel like there's one political label that truly sums up my overarching worldview, but I will say that I regard myself as pretty far to the left when it comes to the sorts of economic policies I feel should be in place and a little less far to the left maybe -- sorta center-left -- when it comes to my opinions regarding like the culture wars and such. Personally, I hate capitalism. Have for basically my whole life really. Maybe it can be chalked up to the fact that I've spent my whole life struggling economically and I make no claim to really have all the answers (yes I'm aware that "socialist" systems have often yielded terribly authoritarian systems of government and have never proven quite as productive as more market-based approaches to development and sustenance; I'm aware of these problems and am not living in denial thereof), but just everything in me feels like there simply has to be a better way to organize our economy. I don't claim to truly know what it is, but it just has to be possible for us to do better than this. Capitalism is too callous, too unconcerned with those it leaves behind, too exploitative, too atomizing and lonely, too devoid of real purpose, too rapacious toward the natural world, too suffocating of art and culture and the human soul, for me to want to go on living under such conditions. And I mean I try not too about as much as I can within reason for that matter. Most of the movies I get into are indie movies, most of the games I get into are indie games, most of the music I get into is what you might call offbeat and relatively obscure (often also indie), the PBS News Hour remains my favorite daily newscast to this day, etc. etc. I'm just that kind of person who values earnestness and the human soul. Anyway...there has to be a better way than our profit system. My personal gravitation is in favor of something called communalism, which restructures individual communities such that more or less everything -- at least the means of production -- is owned, controlled, and directly managed by that community as a whole through processes of democratic local planning of production and distribution. I'm also good with alternative socialistic ideas like a system wherein workplaces are owned and controlled by their workers directly, especially if they're not operated on a for-profit basis. Seriously, I value everything over profit. I think everything else should come first. The survival of working people should come before profits. Ecological sustainability should come before profits. Justice toward consumers should come before profits. Free artistic expression should be valued over profits. Everything is more important than profits, in my opinion. I've come to loathe the whole concept. Though one final alternative I feel okay with would be a simple and more market-friendly approach wherein we simply adopt a reasonably high universal basic income that guarantees everyone that their basic needs will be met and frees them up in terms of both resources and leisure time to like go into any business they might wish to pursue for themselves and we can have a flourishing of small business ventures with lots of active, aggressive trust-busting to break up the ones that become "too big to fail", something like that. That's about as market-friendly as I get though, honestly. In terms of my social views, I'm one of those GC feminist types (the kind they warned you about!) who has some...issues...with the trajectory of the gender identity movement, particularly with regard to how some of its main public policy goals can negatively impact the rights and interests of the most vulnerable women, such as inmates in women's prisons and shelters for battered women and rare and dying lesbian cultural spaces and other places I have been for example and also who takes a dim view of like the sex and beauty industries and frankly most religions (including a lot of the fashionable minority ones) and so on. I get criticized for my "puritanical, extreme, anti-male, anti-trans" views more than for anything else really (especially on gaming forums for some reason) so I mostly try not to bring them up, or at least not too much, in most places. It's tough though because I feel strongly about women's issues. Also related: not a big fan of queer theory or critical race theory and intersectionality theory in no small part because I've had so many run-ins with unreasonable social censorship and demands for it that I've become a fairly staunch opponent of what people call cancel culture. I am also a gun owner (both for hunting and self-defense reasons), which I bring up mostly because that seems to be a negative personal quality to many on the American left today. I do also also, however, consider myself a supporter of reasonable gun control policies, Black Lives Matter (for the most part anyway), immigration and refugees (for the most part anyway), abortion rights, and I'm against the coronavirus (sorry conservatives). Have never voted for a Republican in my life and still am not tempted to. Wouldn't call myself a conservative, a moderate, a liberal, or a libertarian, and progressives don't generally wish to be associated with me anymore so I guess it's only respectful of their wishes that I not call myself one of those either. Guess I don't know what I am really. Just an individual person with my own opinions. How about you (anyone)?
  9. I'm not much of a conspiracy theorist, but for my taste it's tough to top the absurdity of lizard people from outer space for humor value. Somewhere in that neighborhood though are the flat Earth people. You know, the people who believe that Antarctica is an ice wall that surrounds the entire planet in 360 degrees and that the sun is actually located just a few miles above the Earth? I find that sort of logic simplistic, arbitrary, and backward enough to be pretty funny.
  10. Whelp, it's available for the Switch now and I hadn't played it in years, so figured I might as well give Dixie Kong's Double Trouble another playthrough over the last couple days. Ya know, out of the original trilogy of DKC classics originally released on the Super NES, you really can't top Diddy's Kong Quest, IMO. Not only did that game introduce actual reasons to explore off the beaten path more meaningful than just the pursuit of extra lives that you'd lose anyway as soon as you turned off your system, but it also upped the difficulty level in a way that would satisfy veterans of the original, gave you two agile Kongs who are just a joy to control, the coolest helpers in the trilogy, a fun pirate theme that justified a perfect balance of dark backgrounds and bright foregrounds and super shiny coins that really seem to glisten, and one of the most rightly beloved soundtracks in all of video games. That said, my recent refresher course served to reinforce my conviction that Dixie Kong's Double Trouble is often underrated. It remains my second-favorite out of the original trilogy, above the original. Dixie Kong's adventure catches a lot of flack for characters like Kiddy Kong and the Brothers Bear and a supposedly generic soundtrack and I've even seen people complain that it's too short even though it has more content than either of its predecessors. Some of the common criticisms I agree with, but others not. My main grievance with DKC 3 is a small one: Kiddy Kong. Yes, he's lame. I mean that in both the aesthetic and practical senses. Let's start with the practical: Kiddy Kong is clunky and not as fun a companion as Diddy. The official rationale for reverting back to having one lightweight character and one heavyweight to play as was that it supplied the player with more reasons to change characters (and therefore to take turns in the at the time almost-presumable two-play cooperative mode most players would be using). Yeah here's sorta how that works most often for me: I'm using Dixie Kong by default because it's more practical in the vast majority of situations thanks both to her comparative agility, higher jumps, and helicopter spin. Then I run across a Bonus Barrel I conveniently can neither reach nor toss Kiddy up to. If Diddy were my companion instead, this wouldn't be a problem since he's a lightweight character too, but because Kiddy is my companion instead and only his toss can reach that barrel, I'm forced to switch to him if I want the Bonus Coin. Then the bonus area starts and it turns out to be an aerial-focused one or something of this nature that I'd do better to use Dixie for, so I switch right back to Dixie the second the challenge begins and press on with her. Kiddy's utility is well-demonstrated in the fact that using the WATER code to start the game with all 85 Bonus Coins so you don't have to visit the game's bonus areas renders him all but useless. Frankly though, you could level most of these critiques against Donkey Kong himself as well, which is why I preferred DKC 2's duo. (Am I bothered by the fact that "Donkey Kong" is in the title of all three installments, yet the big ape is playable in only one? Nope! I always thought of like how "Zelda" was in the title of all the Legend of Zelda games up to that point, yet never playable in what ostensibly was her own franchise or like how "Super Mario World 2" had you play as Yoshi. I just thought of it as one of those Nintendo things. 😋) Aesthetically, Kiddy Kong doesn't seem like a match for the other player-controlled Kongs either. Donkey Kong Country was supposed to be Nintendo's answer to Sonic the Hedgehog (the platforming franchise that, at the time, was leading the Sega Genesis to victory in the North American market over Nintendo's Super NES), complete with teen/tween/young-adult anthropomorphic animal heroes "with attitude" and two-player co-op and taking advantage of the particular strengths of the console their games were for (in the case of Sega Genesis, that meant speed, in theory, and in the Super NES it meant graphics). DKC, in this connection, was part of a whole trend that Sonic's success touched off throughout the 1990s in the platforming genre that included everything from Bubsy and Aero the Acro Bat to Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon (on various levels) and beyond. The cool factor was important here. Donkey, Diddy, Dixie, Funky, and in their own idiosyncratic ways even characters like Wrinkly, Cranky, and Swanky had it. To state the obvious, Kiddy does not. It befits his addition to the player character roster that the stereo and guitar earnable segments at the end of each stage from the previous game were eliminated and not replaced, as there was nothing stylish that Kiddy might have offered. This is the factor that makes him a distinctly less enjoyable companion for me than Donkey Kong. In fact, that last point about Kiddy's aesthetic speaks to the rest of the issues I have with Dixie Kong's Double Trouble. The first world in the game sets the tone and the theme here is...cute. Attempted cute anyway. Cute specifically in the sense of a babyish aesthetic. "Babyish" permeates everything from the one-sidedly bright color palette that prevails to the babyish-sounding tunes one often hears playing in the background to the looks of many of the boss characters to the lazy way in which Bonus Barrels and Hero Coins that were invented in the previous game to encourage player exploration are now much more often "hidden" in plain sight right along your normal pathway so that such exploration is no longer so necessary. It's almost as if the developers decided on a female headline character this time around and opted therefore, in response to this choice, to try and craft a DKC adventure "for girls" in the most crude and stereotypical senses of the concept; a game that is bright, super-cute, and easy because that's what girls want to play...right? Kiddy Kong is just the most obvious symptom is this larger attitude problem that permeates much of the game. Those are my criticisms anyway. But there's also lots of good stuff to this game! Let's go through some of that: Right from the first second your adventure begins, you discover that the world map you're thrown into is the most interactive and non-linear one in a Super NES platforming game and the developers have created incentives for you to explore the game's yes very cool map in the form of collectable Banana Birds that unlock the game's final, real ending thingy. The first Banana Bird cave I blew open kinda blew my youngish mind back in the day when this game was new and the memory games you play therein really were/are fun! Nothing revolutionary by today's standards at all, but something neat by the standards of games for 16-bit systems back then for sure. Speaking of the map, the need of various vehicles (which is way more fun than traveling on foot!) gave Funky Kong decidedly more utility than in previous DKCs. There's even one point where you can choose which of two worlds to play through first, which just wasn't done in either of the previous two games. It also made the Lost World more fun to discover. And the Brothers Bear added, well, some incentive to visit everywhere as well anyway, especially in as far as it might lead to more Banana Birds. The bosses in Dixie Kong's Double Trouble are the most unique and complex in the original trilogy. Those in the first game generally were defeated in similar ways. Those in Diddy's Kong Quest added a little more complexity and a lot more style. The bosses in this game are all defeated in quite individual ways that involve more strategy. Need I even remind one of Barbos and his multiple levels of the depth? Or of Bleak the ebil snowman? Or Squirt? The boss fights here are the most fun in the original trilogy to me! Let's also not forget what is retained here of the classic DKC formula either: each stage has its own distinctive gimmick and so stands out from the way you play the others. This is the real magic of the classic DKCs that made you want to keep playing all the way to the end to see what the developers would throw at you next, and that magic is still very much present in this game too, be it in the form of a giant saw progressively cutting down trees right behind your ass while you're trying to scale them or the evils of lightning bolts that you have to dodge and use to defeat certain enemies or fueling a rocket that you then must use to ascend the stage at top speed without crashing into anything. The level designs may generally be more straightforward than in Diddy's Kong Quest, but the core thing that motivates you to keep going is still there and it still works. What's more, even though a smaller share of the game's hidden secrets are genuinely, you know, hidden than in the earlier two games, I still find the use of coin collectibles that unlock things like Lost World levels and ultimately different endings provide me with more reason to venture off the beaten path than the first Donkey Kong Country game does. In the original game, the bonus areas offer only either extra life balloons or other things that lead to extra lives (bananas, K-O-N-G letters, animal tokens), which you'll simply lose anyway as soon as you turn off or reset your system. On top of this, discovering the bonus areas in the original DKC gets progressively more challenging, as do the stages, as you progress through the game, which means that you'll likely reach a point whereafter finding them costs you more lives than you realistically stand to gain therein anyway, thus defeating the purpose. To these ends, I rarely bother with many bonus areas when I play through the original DKC. Although Dixie Kong's game often doesn't hide them, or the Hero Coins, as well as Diddy Kong's, it's still more effective at motivating me to explore all of the game's content. (Now a more sophisticated game might offer say narrative reasons or something more compelling than arbitrary objects as incentive to explore its landscape, but this is 2D platforming from the mid-90s we're talking about here.) Also, as in Diddy's Kong Quest, the objects are crisper and the animation smoother than in the original game and the controls also just seem more precise. And despite its overall straightforward level designs it eventually gets qualitatively more challenging than DKC 1 by the end. Seriously, there's nothing comparable to dodging lightning or swimming with reversed controls or Tyrant Twin Tussle or the rocket fueling stage anywhere in the first game. The challenge level does ramp up in Dixie Kong's Double Trouble. Then there is the soundtrack. Dixie Kong's game is often accused of featuring a blander soundtrack than the first two games did, and while there are a few forgettable duds here and there, especially after my latest playthrough, I'm more convinced than ever that the aforementioned persuasion can only be the result of comparing the third game's soundtrack to that of its immediate predecessor because I'm sorry but the music in Dixie Kong's Double Trouble is absolutely every bit as good as that in the original DKC. Don't believe me? Well how about these? Treetop Tumble Rockface Rumble Nuts N' Bolts Cascade Capers Water World (not to be confused with the terrible Kevin Reynolds film of the same era) Frosty Frolics Hot Pursuit Indeed, some stages with similar themes to areas in the original DKC have what I'd consider better music than in the original DKC. For example, I'd favorably compare Nuts N' Bolts (above) to the analogous factory theme in the first Donkey Kong Country game, though maybe it's because I'm biased in favor of the guitar and how it just feels more...factory worker than the dance beat used in Fear Factory. (Both are catchy, don't get me wrong!) Likewise, I'd favorably compare Cavern Caprice (DKC 3) to Cave Dweller Concert (DKC 1), which, though atmospheric, is also kinda boring. And Treetop Tumble (above) is definitely preferable to the analogous treetop theme in DKC 1 for similar reasons, in my book. The water stage themes are about equally enjoyable to listen to for me, just depends on whether I feel like total relaxation or a sense of menace in the air (...water?...). Though there are other examples (e.g. jungle themed stages, snow themed stages) where I'd christen the first game the winner soundtrack-wise in a two-way contest. Anyway, I loved Eveline Fischer's soundtrack for DKC 3 overall! A few duds were included that leaned too heavily into the, ugh, toddler "aesthetic" for my taste (like the jungle stage theme and Stilt Village, for example), but overall the soundtrack provides an eerie, menacing vibe that I only wish was truly matched aesthetically by the color palette more often. As to the Kongs, I like Wrinkly's Save Cave a bit better than her Kong Kollege in Diddy's Kong Quest, personally, and not just because it's always free and available at any point, but because it also wins on dork points for giving Wrinkly more silly stuff to do, so it's an upgrade for her. Funky Kong's Rentals adds more utility to Funky's role...but the first thing he does in the game is put me on babysitting duty with my "excellent" cousin Kiddy (whom I've already said my peace about) and that definitely costs him some major cool points in my book, so he winds up about even with his role in previous games here to me on balance. 😁 Swanky Kong's stupid tent with the target game is definitely a downgrade from the dorky memorization-oriented quiz show he hosted in Diddy Kong's game and worst of all he's roped Cranky Kong into his shit, rendering Cranky nothing more than a target game rival, which is very lame. Cranky's previous role of ceaselessly griping about how video games were so much better back in his day when players had one screen to play on and one action command at most to use to enjoyably pitiful effect (seriously, he's a parody of the attitudes of a LOT of gamers!) is subsumed, to inferior effect, by certain Brothers Bear who just aren't as funny. But Dixie gets some snappy one-liners that made me smile, as did K. Rool's whole exchange about how his wife is going to kill him 'cause he used her best pots and pans to build Kaos so...there's some of that humor value here in spite of Cranky's dimished role that is sorely missed. Okay, those are my thoughts. Why supply so many, you ask? Not much better to do at the moment is the answer. 15-paragraph essay originally envisioned as three or four paragraphs accomplished!
  11. I definitely noticed rubberbanding in Mario Kart 64's Grand Prix mode, ...but honestly I spent like 80% of my time with that game over in Time Trials mode trying to set record times fast enough that I could win Power Stamps from Nintendo Power magazine and get my name and records printed in the Arena section of their magazine.
  12. While admittedly the whole baby crying thing gets on my nerves sooner rather than later, nonetheless I like Yoshi's Island better than the original Super Mario World for a lot of reasons ranging from its more creative, comic book-like art style to its more solid, less slippery controls and the range of transformations and crazy boss fights and everything! It's more fun. Trivia: The game wasn't actually intended as a sequel to Super Mario World, but as the start of a separate, Yoshi-oriented franchise whose first sequel was Yoshi's Story for the Nintendo 64. But Nintendo of America slapped a "Super Mario World 2" header on the top on the theory that doing so, portraying it as a sequel, would yield higher sales.
  13. I'm gonna STRONGLY disagree with this! If you can't be offended by a video game, that's a very poor reflection on either the power of the medium itself or else on your conscience, one of the two. The thing about art is that, where effective, it moves people. I really like The Last of Us Part II, for example, and it's not because I find the game inoffensive, tame, and harmless. No, characters I grew really attached to were brutally killed and it ripped my fucking heart out to the point of being in tears and depressed! But it's that way for a narrative reason that I found unbelievably compelling and frankly exactly the point(s) that the world needs right now more than it ever has before in my lifetime. The game deliberately forces you into actions you loathe, but that's part of what makes it so powerful and effective, in my opinion. That's what a truly immersive experience does: it affects you. Anyway, there's also a vast difference between a game like The Last of Us Part II that has a point and a sociopathic game like Rape Lay that I think any rational person should be able to readily observe.
  14. It's not really about technology per se for me. I get exactly what Blackangel is saying about how things were back in like the '70s and '80s when there weren't any pre-existing game franchises to build off of yet and game development companies weren't generally large enough yet to have lots of focus groups and other forms of market research, so they tended to just wing it and go with the idea that if they, the people making the game, liked it then someone else probably would too. And the resultant games felt like it too. They often felt like games that were made by someone who wanted to play that game themselves. I think there's something to be said for that spirit. There really is. But there's something about today that I think this strictly nostalgic view misses: the rise of the independently-developed games market over the last decade or so. Smaller game developers have made a pretty epic comeback since the success of Braid back in 2008 proved that precisely that original approach to games development can actually be appreciated in today's world, with or without spectacular AAA graphics and 50+ hours of content. Celeste. Undertale. Crypt of the NecroDancer. Kentucky Route Zero. Butterfly Soup. Hades. Untitled Goose Game. Return of the Obra Dinn. This War of Mine. Knights and Bikes. Dead Cells. Hyper Light Drifter. Gato Roboto. Hollow Knight. Freedom Planet. Streets of Rage 4 (incidentally!). The list goes on forever! What's even better is that smaller developers who insist upon creative freedom are starting to find publishers who will respect that approach to development and provide them with the resources they need to fully realize their visions. Games like Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, Death Stranding, and one I just completed called The Medium come to mind in this category. There are also major developers like Naughty Dog who are afforded a similar amount of creative freedom by their publishers, even when it involves taking great commercial risks. So I mean to me it's not just about better technology being there, it's about internet services like Steam leading to a revival and renewed appreciation for smaller, bolder developers who have new ideas, maybe something to say through their games, and a willingness to take risks, and all the genuine masterpieces that have resulted from that and other consequences thereof even in the more mainstream AAA space that makes me happy with the present and optimistic about the future of video games.
  15. I turned 13 in late May of 1995. For the occasion, my girlfriend got me a computer game called Chop Suey (playable online for frees here now) that she said reminded her of us a little. It was an atmosphere-driven, point-and-click exploration game about a pair of sisters superbly named Lily and June Bugg and their various, Harriet the Spy-style escapades around their small, working class Midwestern American town after they eat too much chop suey and fall into a daydreamy haze. The girls explore the bedroom of their aunt Vera (who they absolutely love because she's so full of life) and try on her "glamorous" outfits and makeup, pretend they're angels and fly to New York, and discover items that tell of her past as a Rockette on Broadway (including a particularly hilarious video clip where the video quality is so bad that the various Rockette's upper and lower bodies appear to shuffle onto one-another). You meet her son Dooner, get to hear his music and read his diary about his relationship to his girlfriend Monica, explore the carnival, step in shit, and visit an awesome shop called Cupid's Treats run by a tattooed biker-looking type who has, among other things, a live human hand in a jar. You also get to clothe Mud Pup the dog, listen to a bunch of legits amazing songs (my favorite being the one sung by the trio of pickles), read fortunes, play bingo, and get stalked by a black cat who turns out to accompany a witch at the edge of town who's baking a guy. Stuff like that. It's pretty funny and clever. It's a simple, anarchic slice-of-life type game with no real sequential order of events or traditional gamey challenges, but lots of personality and loads of stuff to click upon and explore, stress-free, for the simple sake of curiosity. It dares kids...and adults...to be imaginative and take risks. That's essentially what it's about. We spent about an hour on it that evening. We went back to it several times thereafter in 20-ish minute plays whenever we'd visit one-another's houses. Just under a month later, her family moved away. I never saw her again. That's how it is in the town where I live: over time, people tend to leave. They don't move in. The game's lead creator, Theresa Duncan, killed herself 12 years later. That all strikes me as sort of like the mood of Chop Suey itself: bittersweet. The characters in the game, and indeed the town itself, have problems (like Aunt Vera, for example, has three ex-husbands all named Bob), but there's also an aura of joy amidst the pain. Like my real-life town, Chop Suey's is one that doesn't seem to be doing so great, but who's residents find happiness nonetheless. I love my town in that same sort of way too. Chop Suey reminds me of my first love, and of the end of that love at the same time, and helps me put my relationship to my past and to my community back in perspective a little by reminding me to find the joy that's there in the midst of the suffering that life entails, like you did when you were young. And to always stay curious about life.
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