POSTCARDS FROM PARADISE
Another week on Paradise – which means more pool cleaning, lawn mowing and preparation for coconut tourist season. But this week a different task led me down a dramatically different path than usual.
It all started with orders from the top (as it normally does). However, instead of a bad game frisbeed through my hut window like normal there was just a map of the island, a small note from Princess Pinkie and a pair of Power Bracelets left at the breakfast bar. I hadn’t even heard anyone come in. My guard Dog/Sea Lion, Cookie had spent the night at the reef somewhere off the coast with one of his girlfriends.
“HEAVY. ROCK. LIFT. MOVE. 🦆”
I sipped my coffee and held the note. The morning had started off rare as it was. I woke up in a green tunic. Which I chalked up to a combination of too much to drink the night before and laundry day.
Second, earlier that morning there was a bright large bug that kept yelling, “HEY” at me trying to wake me up. Eventually – completely irritated – I arose and squared up with the bug and boxed it. After punching it out of the air I tossed it’s strange, unconscious faerie body in the garbage can outside and laid back down.
Now there was this note. Rarely did I exchange much correspondence with the palace as is. I’ve always been the self motivated type. Wandering around the island looking for things to fix up. Generally assuming if I’m found busy my employers will almost always be happy. But a personal request – this was different. And the Power Bracelets looked badass. So equipped with my newly found gauntlets and tight-but-comfortable-green-tunic I set off towards the boulder that must be moved.
Upon arrival I saw the large rock that needed moving. There were some strange plants around it. They looked like cartoon bombs 💣 growing out of some weeds. I assumed they must be some sort of land mines left over from the war – Princess Diana did her best to have all land mines removed and eradicated from ex-war-zones but Paradise is a bit out of the way. They must have missed a few.
I, personally am not fucking with a bomb of an undetermined age sticking out of the ground. So I avoided them. Maybe I’ll put some caution tape around the area once I move around them and get this rock out of here. In other words: bomb disposal : outside my pay grade.
So removing the rock itself was extremely anticlimactic. I just lifted it over my head and tossed it. These gauntlets are excellent quality. The startling thing was this strange music I heard from everywhere around me as I lifted the rock. I quickly realized that by moving the rock I had exposed a hole. A seemingly bottomless pit.
Despite everything in my body telling me this was a mistake I decided to jump down the hole anyways because fuck it – why not. And I’m glad I did. I landed softly on a mirrored pad – where I heard a gorgeous harp – the sound of a running fountain and a relaxing, disarming ambience. I, was sure I was in the company of pure good.
As I approached I heard a powerful roar. A voice so beautiful and strong – easily the strength of a choir of people singing from the depths quickly approaching the fountains surface until completely breaking through the still water. A giant faerie? Or a giant god? Or the… unbelievably talented singer songwriter, Chris Cornell??
Chris Cornell emerged from the faerie fountain completely dry and all knowing. It wasn’t until now that I realized one of my favorite singers of all time sort of already had a Jesus look going on for awhile on his own.
His voice soft but firm.
Cornell: Periwinkle – I have been watching you from afar.
Me: Mr. Cornell – Why… I’m .. so… flattered.
Cornell: Of course you are. You have projected me. You wouldn’t pick someone you don’t like to be a faerie God…I mean.. think about it…
– Silence –
Me: Yeah. Yeah I s’pose you’re right.
Cornell: ANYWAYS… let’s see .. where was I – alright… As I was saying. *Clears Throat* Periwinkle – I have watched your self destruction from afar. It’s finally time, son.
Me: It’s time to move on? I can come with you? I have been waiting for thi-
Cornell: No! What’s the matter with you. You’re not going anywhere. It’s time for you to play a good game, finally.
Me: Oh. Well.. yeah, of course…
Cornell: Between back to back terrible titles like City Crisis and Trigger Man your heart meter is so low. Which is why I’m here. To provide comfort to weary travelers. Let me blow the life back into you.
Me: Wait.. wha – … like a ..sexual thing?
Cornell: No. Definitely not a sexual thing.
—- Neither makes eye contact for what seems like forever ——-
Cornell: I was going for like a game cartridge thing. Like when it wouldn’t work –
Me: Yeah, yeah I get it.
Cornell: But, anyways! You have suffered selflessly enough for the coconuts on Paradise. Trudging through horrible games to warn the visitors and retro enthusiasts on Paradise of the perils of bargain bin gaming. What games to avoid. Selflessly diving on grenades to save the masses. It’s time to treat yourself, son.
Me: This means so much… what game can make me love again? Can you, Grammy Award winning multi-instrumentalist, Chris Cornell show a guy like me how to live?
Cornell: Young Periwinkle – I can only steer you in the right direction. I can recharge your hearts and give you one single title to get you back on track. After that your destiny is in your own hands. Before I leave I suggest you take that bottle over there and make sure you bottle a little golden mini me as well. In case you ever find yourself dealing with Trigger Man level of incompetence in the future again.
I heard the flute noise and felt my energy being restored. *Flick flick flick flick* ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️
Golden Chris Cornell Faerie God also handed me a copy of Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies.
I grabbed the empty bottle and put a tiny Golden Chris Cornell inside it for later use. The floating Cornell smiled at the new lease on my gaming life.
With my arms out stretched over my head a floating bottle with a tiny golden statuette rest in it. You have acquired a Golden Cornell. Let him free to recharge your energy and soul.
Chris Cornell: Now before I go, son. Do you have any questions? About anything in the entire universe?
I thought hard.
Periwinkle: When is the McRib coming back?
Cornell looked extremely disappointed. Shook his head and floated back into the faerie fountain. Apparently it was such a good question he couldn’t even answer it! Or it was really bad. Eh, who cares?
I stood with my arms raised with a copy of Ace Combat 04 floating above my hands. YOU HAVE ACQUIRED A COPY OF A PLAYSTATION 2 MASTERPIECE, ACE COMBAT 04: SHATTERED SKIES.
FANCY INTRO VIDEO
Released: November 1 2001
Developed & Published: namco
I have such little experience writing about how much I enjoyed a video game that I am almost completely at a loss. I have messaged Pinkie nearly every day telling her how much I love this game. I have told my wife. I have told my friends. I have told the dog next door. Everyone after day two or so just eventually starts to roll their eyes.
I drove to New York City to profess my love to Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies while standing on the top of a skyscraper but there was already someone doing it. This game is a masterpiece. Beautiful, sad, fun, easy to learn but hard to master. All of the good stuff.
The game itself is about a future world where some asteroids posed a major threat to the planet. Mankind built a gun to shoot the asteroids and it didn’t really work so now we all live on one shitty continent. Naturally because we’re human beings we begin a war over land and resources and the “bad dudes” highjack the massive asteroid gun and you have to stop them. Sounds simple and stupid but it isn’t. The storytelling is so well done, exploring the human condition in times of war.
I’d also go on record and say this game is a top ten ps2 game graphically. Some of the colors, graphics, picture-esque skies and backdrops are still breathtaking to this day. With 2021 eyes that is quite a feat.
It even has a beautiful replay mode that you can exploit and slam your jet into the ocean all cinematic like:
SHOP TIL YOU DROP
I understand that this was a big series back in the day but it passed me by twenty years ago. I have noticed that most of my fellow ps2 collectors are around my age. A lot around mid 30’s. So when these games were out we didn’t necessarily have the money or the time to buy these games on our minimum wage grocery store paychecks.
But here’s where the news gets even better! I picked this bad boy up for $2.99 at a flea market. On eStarland you can find it CiB for $9.
On EBay I’ve been finding it for about $3.99 which is a great deal.
But as usual – there are ridiculous price gougers that deserve to be shamed. Like this fuckface:
Regardless – without paying this guy $599 – if you are a collector or just a fan of retro games this game is well, well, worth its budget price tag these days. And if you’re an emulator player – get on it! You don’t have to be a jet or a war enthusiast to enjoy this game. I recommend it so much – I had to create a new cocktail because I refuse to put it on the list with all the other bad games. So here is the good game cocktail ingredient list!
PERIWINKLE’S GIN AND GEM INGREDIENTS
1.) One liter of Jet Fuel (Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies)
DESERT ISLAND SONG:
If nothing else – if you have skipped this entire article – which is fine – do yourself a favor and listen to this. I needed a harp version of a Soundgarden song to tie in Cornell w/ Zelda. And because the internet rules here we are:
Alright I think that’s it. I’m actually working on another surprisingly good game right now. I’ll see you guys next week. Have more ps2 gems it seems everyone missed out on? Let us know! Comment below or Hit me up on social media (Instagram has been popping lately!) Until next time, Coconuts.