And we're back!  

I'm pretty excited about this month's Herd.  This is a user who you have no doubt read one of his over 100 blogs, or seen one of his numerous comments and forum contributions.  Aside from being here as long as I remember, he has been an extremely active member and has remained courteous, intelligent and truthful throughout.  I think you will enjoy his answers to my questions as much as I did.  

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor to introduce to the Herd...

GIO Name: Marco Polo

GIO Rank:  Veteren Member - Level 11

Gaming Experience (Years playing): I got my very first console when I was 12. It was an Atari 2600. And what's kinda sad is that there were already much better consoles on the market. Namely, the Sega Genesis, and the Turbo Grafx-16. So my first home console was hardware that was already two generations old. But, I was a huge arcade nut, and I spent a lot of time playing on the NES in the homes of my friend's. So... (God this is going to age me), altogether I've been playing for over 20 years and I'll just leave it at that. LOL

Last Game Completed: The last game I officially beat was Field Commander for PSP. It was a pretty cheap PSN download, and I'd always been curious about it. Right now, I'm obssessed with anything related to strategy.

Currently Playing:  For most of the past 6-8 months, I've really been going retro. Meaning, I'm either going back to PC classics, or older consoles/hardware. This is how I try to attack my backlog. So... while current gen is looking absolutely amazing, I'm trying to catch up on all the stuff I've piled up over the years.

Origin of GIO Profile Name: Marco Polo is actually my most common nick name for as long as I can remember. And, I always just liked the sound of it, so... it was a no-brainer. Periodically I've though of changing it, but I'm too fond of it.

 And now for everybody's favorite part of Member Herding..the questions!

On your profile, you claim that you were a rabid Sega fan.  Looking back, what are your thoughts on the SNES/Genesis console war?  Do you still stand by your choice of the Genesis?

Looking back on the SNES/Sega Genesis console war, I think it was great friendly competition, great for the fans, and... I miss it. Back then, even if you did get into a heated argument about which console was best, there wasn't the outflow of bile and hateful vitriol that you see on the internet nowadays. It was like rooting for your favorite football team. And even though evryone took sides for one or the other back then, most of us were reasonable enough to realize that each system had it's own unique strengths and weaknesses.

I loved my Genesis. But the SNES was a damned good piece of hardware, with some legendary games. Sega never had anything like Mario Kart, or Star Fox, or even Super Metroid. I still would stand by my choice of the Genesis because that it just one of the truly great memories of my childhood. Not just because of hardware, or the games, but because that was also a really creative time for me. I did SO much drawing, and writing little stories and what not. Video games are what made me get curious enough to start building my own PC, and learning to use software like Photoshop, Corel Draw, Painter, etc. I hope that makes sense.

(I love the fact that you were inspired in your creative endeavors by video games, because that is certainly been the case with me.  When I first started to learn to play guitar, some of the first things I learned was video game music (interpreted loosely).  I had both systems, and even though I did a debate once where I was forced to defend the Genesis, the SNES is my all-time favorite console. And your point about the internet vitriol is spot on, it just allows for people to be nasty, and turn those kind of arguments sour quickly.)

If you could see one exclusive franchise from the Big 3 developed by any company, what would it be, who would make it, and what kind of game would it be?

Oh gosh. For me, I'm an open world nut. I love the freedom you have in those games. For me, the Holy Grail exclusive would be Shenmue. It is so time for this game to come back. But, it needs to be done RIGHT, ya know? None of this crap we've been seeing the past few years where some Kickstarter project announces they are going to reboot an old-school classic, and then they BUTCHER it. Here's looking at you Double Dragon Neon.

So anyways, yeah, I would bring back Shenmue. Who would make it? Honestly, I may be way out in left field, but there are only a few companies exisiting right now that I mentally associate with QUALITY gaming experiences. That would be Crytek, Rockstar and Ubisoft. Honestly, I wouldn't care who makes it as long as they are deeply committed to creating a fun experience. I think there is way too much paint-by the-numbers software out there right now.

I'm also really excited by the cross-platform design that is being explored with games like The Division and Dust 514. I think there is huge potential there. I think that you should be able to jump into a ongoing game from anywhere, on almost any platform. But that's probably the far distant future.

I also think the future really is some highly evolved variations of social gaming. What we're seeing in the popularity of MMO's, and other internet based games is that gamers want larger, more immersive worlds, with interaction with real people, and real challenges. The single player experience will never go away either. But the A.I. has to improve dramatically. We need A.I. that is problem solving, and autonomous.

(Hmmm, autonomous A.I. eh?  I've seen Terminator, I know how that ends. Shenmue is a fantastic choice, and one I would not have thought of, even though I guess it technically isn'y a Big 3 franchise (I don't think, anyway).  Cross-platform okay is neat too.  I play DC Universe on my PS4 with friends on their PS3's, and I thought that was pretty cool, and Sony's Cross-Play program is excellent as well.)

Metal Gear: Ground Zeroes has been a somewhat controversial game, with some rabidly anticipating it, and some derisive of its perceived length.  What are your thoughts on it, The Phantom Pain and the series in general?

On Metal Gear, let me just say that Kojima is a creative genius. And I suspect he is always two or three steps ahead of what people are thinking or expecting. I've never played a Metal Gear that I didn't like, and I suspect Ground Zeroes would be no different. The real problem, and I'll probably get roasted for saying this, but gamers have become a bunch of whiny brats over the past decade or so.

I mean, it's one thing to complain about software that is flawed... or broken. But Hideo Kojima does not put out shoddy software. Nowadays, people will rail up against a game basically because it's not designed according to their whims and tastes. Hello??? Grow up people. Imagine if H.G. Wells had written War Of The Worlds after taking a poll of what kind of book people would like to read. With every game he works on, Kojima is taking a creative risk, and that's more than can be said for a lot of people and companies out there. (Yes Nintendo, I'm looking at you too.)

(Good points.  There is a fair argument to be made about the entitlement of gamers these days, but the simultaneous transparency and opacity of the internet practically demands that be the case.  Mass Effect 3 is a perfect case study of that.  I\m excited for any new MGS, it sounds like you are too, and I know we aren't the only ones, so Kojima must be doing something right.)

What is the all-time greatest video game original soundtrack?  What about overall soundtrack?  What is your favorite video game theme song?  And finally, what game features the worst music you have ever heard?

As far as video game soundtracks go, I don't really have any one favorite. But, I really LOVE the work Jesper Kyd did for the Hitman series. I could listen to his stuff all day. Final Fantasy certainly has some of the most soaring, inspirational music ever put to games. But honestly, I tend to focus on individual songs. I have a pretty lengthy of songs from OC ReMix that I never tire of. And each time I listen to them, I am always amazed by how much music composers were able to achieve on old 8-bit and 16-bit hardware.

But, to get back on point, right now my favorite overall soundtrack would be from the movie Goldeneye with Pierce Brosnan debuting as James Bond. My runner-up would be Inception. Honorable mentions would go to ANYTHING by Hans Zimmer, Angela's Ashes by John William's, Tron Legacy by Daft Punk, and finally The Fifth Element by Eric Serra.

I've been pretty fortunate in that I haven't had too many games with annoying music/soundtracks, but I'll give three examples of the closest thing that comes to mind. One would be Superman made by Sunsoft for the Sega Genesis. That game just never seemed to capture excitement that should have come as playing as The Man of Steel.

Next, an old Sega CD side-scrolling shooter named Android Assault. Mainly because it featured jazz as the music of choice all throughout the game. And you must understand, I actually LOVE jazz. But there is something disconcerting about flying through levels piloting a mech to what sounds like a David Sanborn CD playing in the background. Very odd.

Last, almost every Need For Speed game featuring RAP. Sorry, I know a lot of people love it. But when I'm flying through turns at 150+ m.p.h, I generally don't want to listen to rap, or hip hop. It's just a personal thing. And to be fair for the NFS: Underground series, even their choices of rock and electronica were pretty bad.

(Hahaha, great answer.  I wasn't expecting movie answers, but that's cool, Inception particularly stood out to me with its use of music.  I like games that let me import my own music, and I'm a sucker for retro, bit-tune soundtracks as well.  I agree completely about their impressive versatility.)

Pick a mobile game to fit in each of these categories:  Best Game You Have Never Played, Worst Game That Everyone Has Played, Most Underrated Game, Most Original Game, Most Surprisingly Awesome Game.

Oooooooo, now we're on to my new obssession. Mobile. Best game I never played? Plants vs. Zombies 2. I'm hearing amazing things about that one. Worst game that everyone has played? Floppy Bird. Are you kidding me? Why were people freaking out over a game that looks like the illegitimate offspring of Super Mario Bros. and Jetpack Joyride? People are WAY too gullible. Most underrated? Tetris. Seriously, no matter what, this game never gets old. They'll still be playing Tetris 100 years from now. Most original? I don't there is anything being done that is truly "original". But I recently saw a game on the Android market called Hiversaires that looked pretty "fresh". Unfortunately, it also didn't look like something I'd care to play. LOL. Go figure. Lastly, for most surprisingly awesome game, I'm going to be really partial and mention turn-based strategy game I've been getting into called Jungle Heat. (think The Expendables meets Advance Wars meets Metal Slug)

(Cool, I play a lot of mobile games (like everybody else on the planet), and enjoy hearing what other people are playing.  I'll even admit to a burst of Flappy Bird addiction (I capped out around 180 or so).  While I'm here, some mobile recommendations!  Kingdom Rush, Condado, 10000000, The Room 2 and Army of Darkness Defense (thanks Saint and soulfly666 for that one...) are all games I am enjoying right now.

Bonus Questions

Saint asks:  Bowser is holding Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach captive in cargo hold of his airship. He has agreed to let one of the captives go, but one of the other prisoners will have to walk the plank to certain death while the other will forever remain a servant in Bowser's court. Who goes free, who walks the plank and who is the servant?

I hate to say it, but we've seen so much Mario lately, I think he needs to walk the plank and say goodbye. Second, I don't like seeing ladies mistreated, so the Princess would go free. Lastly, Luigi would sadly end up serving Bowser. Hey, maybe he could stage a revolt. There's gotta be some disgruntled Koopas, right?

(Couldn't have said it better myself.)

Saint asks: In an alternate universe, you are the new Editor In Chief of Game Informer - what's one thing you change, one thing you would get rid of and one thing you keep the same?

If I were the new Editor In Chief of Game Informer, I would really try to broaden the magazine coverage to embrace gaming culture as a whole. I hate to say it, but there's another gaming magazine ,which I won't be so rude as to mention by name, that was excellent for that. They had reviews for new anime releases, manga, consoles, portables, phones and PC. And they even had small write-ups for the retro gamer in us all. Next Gen gaming isn't everything. The industry is far broader than that now.

What would I get rid of? Any mention of the Steambox. It's DOA. Great idea, horrible execution. And... I'd axe the Wii U section until they got better games. I know the new Donkey Kong is getting some good remarks, but... one game??? Seriously Nintendo? And we all had better stop kidding ourselves and expect that we won't see the new Zelda until 2016. You know how Nintendo loves to delay software.

(Those are certainly some unique ideas...I get that the Wii U and Steambox might not be selling particularly high at the moment, but to act like they don't exist would be a shame for those who are interested in them to get no coverage.  And while covering more gaming culture is always great (but ultimately impossible to cover such a wide range of subjects sufficiently for everyone) I have seen plenty of alternative consoles, portable, phone and PC news, and there is even a retro section in the magazine, albeit one that isn't as emphasized as much as it once was.)

Finally, ask me anything and I might just answer it.

Okay, now it's my turn. This was loads of fun. How the heck did you come up with this idea?

(Well, as much as I would like to take credit for it, this is all Saint's doing.  If you asked him nice, he would probably happily fill you in. As for my part, I just stepped in because he was busy and I like asking questions and getting to know the community.)

A special thanks to Marco Polo for spending some time with us while divulging a few details about his gaming personality. To read more about Marco Polo, view his GIO profile here.