Geek Out Challenge – Day 8

For day 8 of the 30 Day Geek Out Challenge our next question involves what geeky hobbies do you have. I knew the answer for me would most likely being something involving video games, I then realized the geekiest hobby I have is precisely what I’m doing now…a blog about video games

What Geeky Hobby Do You Have?

Spending hours every week writing blog posts about video games is probably the geekiest hobby I have; I play a game and then write about what I liked about it. Video games have been an enormous part of my life since I was a kid and are some of my earliest memories, along with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Batman, as mentioned in my Day 1 challenge post. I started a blog as an outlet to be able to describe what gaming has meant to me and how it has affected my life. It began as mostly a challenge to myself as something I thought I could do, but didn’t really know what would become of it. I was never great at writing in school(or STILL πŸ™‚ ) and quite honestly, hated writing papers, but it is something that I was hoping to improve at, especially when writing about something that I love as much as video games. I have been doing this for over five months now, mostly as a weekend hobby and it has been a great experience. I’m glad I actually took the step and tried something outside of my comfort zone, where the majority of my life has been spent; taking part in this 30 day challenge is yet another example of something I may not have normally participated in, but I’ve had a lot of fun doing. I have spent most of my blog posts rambling about various games I’ve played or just talking about which games I intend to play…nothing too impressive as of yet, but I do have lots of other things I would love to write about as it pertains to video games and not just “this game is fun!”. Another positive aspect of my time blogging has been reading and commenting on all of the other wonderful posts on here, it has been great to interact with others that have a lot of the same geeky interests as myself.

That’s about all I have for now, what kind of geeky hobbies do you have or what’s something that you would like to try but haven’t? In reading some of the other posts for the Geek Out Challenge several others had the same reaction as myself in describing their blog sites as their geeky hobby, so I’m not alone! Tune in tomorrow…

Geek Out Challenge – Day 6

For day 6 of the Geek Out Challenge, the question asked is about other real-life geeks that inspire you. I have enjoyed the posts from others participating and hearing the stories of who they look up to and why.

What real life geek inspires you? – Hideo Kojima

In thinking the question over this afternoon, Hideo Kojima is someone I would definitely consider “geeky”. It’s been 16 years since I first played Metal Gear Solid 2 and since then he has been one of my favorite creators within the gaming industry. There are those within any artistic medium whether it be animation, film, music, or video games that have such a specific vision for their craft and what they are trying to create and for me Kojima-san certainly is one of them. The Metal Gear Solid games are among my all-time favorite games and will be remembered for the level of cinematic storytelling and grandiosity that video games are capable of. He is just one of the many that have shown us that video games CAN BE more than “just a game” and can provide experiences on par with that of a movie.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is my favorite Metal Gear game, and also one of my all-time favorites

What inspires me about Hideo Kojima is the love that he has for what he creates as well as the influences that inspire him. If you follow him on Instagram or Twitter, you will quickly see his affection for movies and music; his Twitter bio states “70% of my body is made of movies”. Biological accuracy aside, his social media feed contains numerous photos of the music and movies that he is currently enjoying or that has inspired him in some way. I certainly understand the style in which Kojima’s game are presented aren’t for everyone, but I love how the discussion of philosophical topics such as nuclear disarmament or genetic engineering are counter-balanced by the over-the-top action sequences. I have always admired artists that have, for lack of better phrase “make what they WANT to make” regardless of what they think its reception will be. In a world where something creative rarely equals profitable, it is refreshing to see that amount of passion Kojima puts into anything he creates. I, along with pretty much everyone else still have the faintest idea of what to expect from Death Stranding once it’s released this November, but I trust Hideo Kojima to provide an experience.

Another great geeky question from Megan at A Geeky Gal! Feel free to comment below on any of your inspirations or join in on the 30 Day Geek Out Challenge. See you tomorrow!

Geek Out Challenge – Day 5

We are currently in day number five of the 30 Day Geek Out Challenge, as started by Megan at A Geeky Gal. The month long challenge has already included questions such as your first and most recent fandoms, as well as most and least positive convention memories. I did not create a post for yesterday’s geeky question – What was your worst convention experience? I stated in my post for day 3 asking of your best convention experience that I had never attended any sort of convention, but listed some of the things about the prospects of going to any sort of convention that I would enjoy. I simply didn’t have anything to share for yesterday’s challenge question, so let’s jump into today’s Geek Out Challenge question…

What is the geekiest thing you’ve ever done?

After thinking it over, there are a couple things I came up with. The first thing that springs to mind is my younger brother and I, along with our next-door neighbor attempting( and failing miserably) to stage lightsaber duels…I can barely type that without cringing. We had a few of the battery-powered lightsaber replicas you could find in the toy department at Wal-Mart, and we would try to mimic those of the films. This was back during the time of the Star Wars prequels, and THANKFULLY before YouTube existed as I fear we may have had the brilliant idea to post videos online of us awkwardly swinging around plastic lightsabers, remember Lightsaber Kid from the early days of YouTube? It was pretty much like that….

The other geeky thing that came to mind isn’t quite as cringy as lightsaber fights, mercifully. In November of 2004, my brother and I drove to our nearest GameStop, which was still 90 miles away for the midnight launch of Halo 2. I remember sitting in the parking lot of the little strip mall where the GameStop was, anxiously waiting for the store to open up. We sat and waited in the car for about 30 minutes before deciding to brave the cold weather and stand outside as the line had begun to form around the store. I remember how excited everyone was in line waiting for the doors to open. The GameStop employees had moved a tv to the front window of the store and had an Xbox set up where they were playing a store copy of Halo 2, which at the time seemed a bit of a tease as we stood freezing outside. The doors did open however, and we were able to pick up the collector’s edition of the game we had reserved, the collector’s edition of Halo 2 that came in a steelbook case. This was before a steelbook case was available for seemingly every game, so it was extra exciting at the time. We grabbed some Taco Bell on the way home, finally making it home after 2 a.m. I don’t remember getting a lot of sleep or studying the next few days…;)

Day 5 of the Geek Out Challenge is complete! Thank you to Megan for initiating the challenge, and I look forward to more questions!

My Hylian Summer Vacation

Yesterday, I finally completed my quest to play through Breath of the Wild, completing every shrine and finding every. single. Korok seed along the way. I just happened to sit down to play some Switch and felt like playing Breath of the Wild. I had been meaning to play the game some more as, there was still plenty I could cross off the list from my first play through, such as the Master Sword Trials or the Xenoblade Chronicles 2 quest. I had also just finished a weekend blog listing some of my favorite Summertime Games and had mentioned BOTW as a game I distinctly thought of the summer months, as I spent the summer of 2017 playing through it my first time. So I decided to begin the game a second time with the thought that if nothing else, I would gain a deeper appreciation for the game. There are games that you always wish you could go back and experience for the first time all over again, usually epic games like Breath of the Wild, Fallout 3, GTA IV, etc. While I knew that you can never go back to your “first time” with a game, but I do enjoy going back and revisiting games like this and note what still stands out about the game or what is it that you still dislike; I seem to do this with Zelda games in particular as I played through Majora’s Mask a few months ago with that intent. I wanted to play through BOTW again to see what parts of the game stand out or plain irritate me a second time around. As someone who by nature(?), seems prone to making things more difficult than they would normally be, I had the brilliant idea, “I’m gonna finish every shrine…and get every Korok seed too!”. Here I am today, 26 days and roughly 140 hours of gameplay later – 4 Divine Beasts, 120 Shrines, and all 900 Korok Seeds. I also thought it would be interesting to take some notes as I go through the game and write up a summary of my experience afterward.

I spent the next few weeks playing Breath of the Wild, marking out areas on my Sheikah Slate locations of shrines and Korok seeds. I will make it perfectly clear that I was using the giant fold-out map of Hyrule that came with the player’s guide I got shortly after buying the game, as well as the interactive map from Zelda Dungeon(one of my favorite sites! ). There is no way I was going to be able to find every Korok seed completely on my own, some of the locations were incredibly cryptic and it’s a wonder how some of them were ever found in the first place. I also learned that you can only place 100 stamps on your Sheikah Slate map at any given time…yeah, ONLY 100. At one point I zoomed out a bit to look at the map and it was overrun with little stamps showing the location of seeds in a specific region, and noticed it looked a bit like a map from just about any Ubisoft game. I tackled one region on the map before moving on to the next, beginning with the Great Plateau and then making my way through the Dueling Peaks region. I approached the game like a job essentially, I would wake up and try to chip away what I could after I woke up and before I would go to sleep at night. I don’t want to make it sound like I was miserably grinding away, I truly enjoyed the many, many hours spent mindless chasing marked areas on my map. It was like I just couldn’t stop, one of the highest praises I can usually give a game.

Upon finally completing all the shrines you receive a new “quest” from the monks to go retrieve your reward from the treasure chests located at the Forgotten Temple located at the northern end of Tanagar Canyon. Your reward for completing all 120 shrines is the “Outfit of the Wild” which includes cap, tunic, and trousers that resemble Link’s attire from the very first Legend of Zelda game and looks pretty cool. The “reward” from Hestu however, for scouring every nook and cranny throughout Hyrule for all 900 Korok seeds is simply called “Hestu’s Gift” and appears to be several Korok seeds layered precisely in a way to make it look like a “poop emoji” …yup…that’s right. Upon further reading, I found that indeed, the joke all along is you were collecting Korok poo…umm…great? The symbol itself is known in Japan as Kin no unko, which translates to “golden poo” and is considered a good luck charm. Adding to this wondrous discovery is also a glitch that was found in the game which makes it possible to “collect” infinite Korok seeds, it’s a good thing I like the game that damn much upon realizing the goal of collecting all the seeds was simply a fool’s errand.

In a break from my ramblings of golden Korok poo, I have listed some of my favorite aspects of Breath of the Wild, as well as things about the game that I still don’t love and would like to see changed by the time the sequel to BOTW is released. The things I loved about BOTW…

  • Hyrule – I absolutely love the giant sprawling landscape of BOTW’s Hyrule! While playing there were many regions that reminded me of areas of Tamriel while playing Skyrim, but liked even more. The rocky coastal areas of the Akkala region, with its hills and cliffs overlooking the sea are my favorite. The Wasteland and Gerudo regions providing a mostly barren, arid landscape where you deal with temperature extremes and the occasional sandstorm, making travel difficult. I also loved the Lake region of Hyrule; one of my consistent favorite areas in any given Zelda game would have to be Lake Hyrule – I first fell in love with the idyllic scenery surrounding the giant lake in Ocarina of Time, where I spent much of my time fishing. In BOTW, the massive Bridge of Hylia spans the entire distance across the lake. I also really like the Faron region with the lush, tropical environment that really reminded me of Link’s Awakening and The Wind Waker (even if it’s home to many violent thunderstorms and lightning striking). The Hyrule that Nintendo created for BOTW is probably my favorite aspect of the game.
  • Intro/Setting – The opening of Breath of the Wild is probably my favorite of any Zelda game, beginning with Link’s awakening(get it?…ok, sorry) in the Shrine of Resurrection. You are then given first views of the Great Plateau and the vast land of Hyrule spread out in front of you, in one of many epic moments of the game. The overall setting of the game is great, providing a cryptic eerie sense as you survey the ruins of Hyrule after your hundred-year slumber, piecing together your forgotten memories of just what happened before you were placed in the Shrine of Resurrection. I loved just wandering around the ruins of forts and villages, risking attack by numerous enemies, including the dangerous mechanical Guardians. This reminded me a lot of the Fallout games where you emerge from a stasis chamber to a world completely foreign to you.
  • Combat – I know the combat in the combat has been ridiculed by some after the game was released, with the majority of that I believe rested primarily on the fact your weapons are breakable(still NOT a fan). I really enjoyed the combat and felt it does stress tactics and strategy in choosing which enemies to engage and which to simply avoid; rushing at an enemy and trying to hack your way through has a very low success rate in this gameI would come across a blue-maned Lynel and think, “no way…he’s WAY too strong of an enemy to engage at this point in the game” – as I’m already pecking away at it with arrows from my Boko Bow… that didn’t end well. As much as I hate using this as a reference for anything with the slightest difficulty curve, the combat in BOTW DID in many ways remind of Dark Souls.
  • Princess Zelda – There was a greater resonance to Zelda as a sympathetic character in Breath of the Wild than in other games. In other entries, she seemed essentially a priceless artifact to be rescued, like something out of an Indiana Jones movie. In BOTW, she’s more of a three dimensional character; her frustration from the expectations placed upon her to contain the darkness threatening Hyrule and the consequences of failure to do so. We may have played the game through Link’s eyes, but the heart of the story was Princess Zelda. The irony that the title of the series has always been Legend of Zelda.

As for the things I still dislike about Breath of the Wild…there isn’t too many things. This is also some things that I didn’t hate about the game, but merely would prefer changed around a bit for the sequel announced back at E3.

  • Breakable weapons – Let’s get this one out of the way first…I dislike breakable weapons in any game, I end up spending the majority of the game cautiously avoiding the better weapons I have hoarded to that point, out of fear that they’ll just break after a couple enemies(if that). I don’t think it ruined the game by any means, it’s simply something I have never liked in a video game.
  • RAIN! – I love the traversal in Breath of the Wild, then a rain shower inevitably comes along to bring any progress to a screeching halt. In specific areas like the tropical Faron region, I understand the frequent rainstorms, but it happening at nearly that frequency just about everywhere else got a bit tiring. This is probably my biggest annoyance in BOTW, more even than breakable weapons. You are encouraged to climb just about anything and explore the land, but it becomes incredibly difficult when it’s always raining. This made me appreciate the Gerudo, and Wasteland regions, I will gladly take a sandstorm over the rain.
  • Dungeons – I really like the Divine Beasts and Shrines throughout the game, however I would like to see a more traditional dungeon layout for BOTW 2. The length and sheer number of Shrines in the game don’t provide as much cohesion compared to other titles, like Twilight Princess or Majora’s Mask.
  • Boss Battles – This may be equal parts boss battles AND combat, actually. The boss battles in the game with the different “blight” incarnations of Ganon didn’t seem to be quite as memorable as other Zelda titles. Another thing I thought was strange in BOTW is how much easier the boss battles feel than some of the higher level Bokoblins, Moblins, or Lizalfos. The boss battles can be defeated primarily by spamming arrows, and occasionally using the Runes on your Sheikah Slate, whereas the sub-bosses like Hinox or Lynels, take a much more time and strategy to bring down. This makes certain elements of combat seem a little off-balance.
  • Fishing – One of my favorite and most enjoyable activities in Zelda games has been fishing. It was curiously absent in Breath of the Wild and I would love to see it implemented in the upcoming sequel.
  • Hookshot – A favorite weapon since A Link to the Past, I really hope to see it in the next game

Over the 140+ hours I spent playing Breath of the Wild, I kept track of some of my favorite moments of the game…

  • Master Sword – The moment you pull the Master Sword has been one of the defining moments of a Zelda game since A Link to the Past.
  • Typhlo Ruins – The Shrouded Shrine quest is located in the Typhlo Ruins just north of the Lost Woods. You land on a small island covered in darkness, you must feel your way around the island and light torches along the way. The path eventually leads you to the center of the island where you find the shrine orb, hanging around the neck of a sleeping Hinox. Finding my way through the pitch black with only the light from the occasional torch felt similar to the eerie, cryptic puzzles of early Zelda games.
  • Eventide Island – The Stranded on Eventide quest begins the moment you set foot on Eventide Island. The quest takes away all of your items and equipment and challenges you to activate three shrine pedestals which are being protected by an assortment of enemies. This shrine quest, as well as most of the Faron region provided many Link’s Awakening vibes.
  • Shield Surfing – Once I finally learned how to do it, the shield surfing in Breath of the Wild is a blast!

At the end of the day, was it worth it? yes and no. Experiencing everything the main game has to offer was as great as my first time through, if anything I have an even greater appreciation for what Nintendo accomplished in creating Breath of the Wild. If you’re the type of gamer into collecting Achievements and Trophies, then you will most likely be quite disappointed in what lies at the end of your journey to 100% the game; you’ve earned bragging rights if nothing else. I did also take a few pictures to remember my “summer vacation” in Hyrule.

Wow! that was a bit longer than I had planned. Has anyone else out there played finished every shrine and seed in Breath of the Wild? What other games have you played so obsessively you felt at times that you couldn’t stop? I am quite satisfied to have this completed and will be shortly setting my sights on the new Fire Emblem game next.

Keep on playing…

Geek Out Challenge – Day 2

For Day 2 of the 30 Day Geek Out Challenge we will be switch to the opposite of yesterday’s question “What was your first fandom?” and ask…

What is your most recent fandom?

I must admit that recently that of all the movies, tv shows, comics, or video games that I have been spent my spare time consuming, the only series that I would consider “new” as in I just hadn’t really gotten around to it yet would have to be the Far Cry game series. I played the first Far Cry game back in 2004 when it was first released, but for whatever reason just never really played any of the sequels. It wasn’t until this last January that I finally got around to playing Far Cry 5, which since then has become one of my favorites of this console generation. I have since that time played all of the other games in the franchise with the exception of Far Cry 2. This has also been a game series that has provided hours of enjoyment playing together with my wife in the evenings, as one of the greatest aspects of any kind of fandom is being able to share and enjoy with others. We have spent many hours talking about what exactly is it about the games that we enjoy so much, whether it be story, music, or simply the fun of running around blowing stuff up in an open-world setting fitting in an 80’s action movie, which clearly have provided much inspiration for the tone of the games. Ubisoft has done a great job in creating games that are all over the place in the best ways: nonsensical, serious, challenging yet fun to casually play all within the same game.

My favorite of the series…

That’s all for round two of the Geek Out Challenge, I didn’t have a ton for today’s question but I’ve had fun so far! Here’s looking forward to the next question…

My Mario Maker 2 Courses

Today, I thought it would be fun to share some of my created courses on Super Mario Maker 2( The tutorials insisting they be called “courses” and not “levels” ). Mario Maker 2 has been out for a month now and was one of this summer’s Nintendo games I was looking forward to as I had only played the 3DS version which seemed to be a slightly watered-down version of one of the Wii U’s few games that got much attention. The ability to share created levels online was the highlight of the Wii U version and to not having that option on the 3DS version was disappointing. I have spent quite a few hours of Mario Maker 2 between Story Mode, which boasts 100 different pre-made courses and in playing other user-created courses online. I have also spent a few hours trying to muster any creativity in creating some courses of my own. It’s incredible seeing some of the leve…COURSES that others have created online and I have included a couple of my recent favorites that I’ve played. I ask in advance to please excuse the lame titles I have used for my humble creations πŸ˜‰

Swing carefully…

Swinging Blooper Reel – Course ID – XB9-J2P-JHF

One of the first courses I created where the easiest thing to do I make a short course that can be completed in mere seconds, but will have a few tricky jumps thrown in here and there along with scattered enemies in an attempt to pose some sort of challenge. The first few courses I created I probably had some of the platforming sections of games like Mega Man in mind as I made a few of those so you would really have to time the jumps. You will need to swing your way through the grapple claws to reach the end before time runs out. There is an upper and lower path to take as you maneuver around the numerous Bloopers floating around.

More Bloopers…

Calamari Challenge – Course ID – J2N-D55-X36

I always loved the underwater levels in Mario game as a kid, so I wanted to try to create something similar to World 2 of Super Mario Bros. This time you need to defeat the 10 Bloopers around the area before heading for the finish. I worked in a different areas through the course via warp pipes and threw in a few Cheep Cheep to avoid as well.

Classic Castle Course – Course ID – L1T-T8T-TDF

Another creation where I wanted to bring the similar feeling to the castle levels of Super Mario World. There is nothing too difficult here, just a more straightforward trip through a lava-filled castle, complete with giant blades and Dry Bones. Bowser Jr is also waiting at the finish line.

Wintertime Coins – Course ID – RYQ-16G-GVG

The course requirement here is to collect five 30-Coins before completing. There’s nothing too difficult here, outside of a few Spinies and some falling icicles. I wanted to make an easy coin-collecting course for this one, rather than create something that makes you rage quit after dying fifty times in a row( **NOT from experience πŸ˜‰ ).

Rock Wrench & Bullet Bill – Course ID – 6XG-5FQ-QQF

Mario 3 just may be my absolute favorite game, so I wanted to create a flying ship level similar to the ones you had to clear at the end of each world in Mario 3. As you would find in the game itself, there are Rocky Wrenches and Bullet Bills throughout the course as well as the giant flame burners that one would expect to find on a flying wooden ship. You will again need to defeat Bowser Jr. before completing the course.

I do go back and play through all of my created courses; I don’t usually make them with “how many people can I get to play these courses?” in mind. I wanted to make something that I would enjoy playing myself, and I have. In addition to some of my created courses, I have included a couple others that I have played online that I really really enjoyed.

20 Seconds: Cannonball Capers – User ID – bruhhhhhh Course ID – 9QD-V7X-2JF

Along with enjoying an easy stroll through a Mario Maker 2 course, I have spent a fair amount of time( and frustration) playing other user’s speed run courses, some of these are absolutely genius…and difficult.

Super Castlevania Bros – User ID – Nocturnowl Course ID – 5WW-0MF-TMF

I started seeing different “theme” courses online in Mario Maker 2 right away; some users have created everything from movies like Evil Dead to other video games like Metal Gear Solid. There are not surprisingly many levels where other users have re-created different worlds from Zelda games, such as the Great Deku Tree from Ocarina of Time. I came across this level and absolutely LOVE Nocturnowl’s creating of Dracula’s Castle from the Castlevania games. I definitely recommend checking out this one.

That’s about it for this week! I made the Rock Wrench & Bullet Bill course the other day and thought it would be fun to show some courses in a blog post. Have you played Super Mario Maker 2? if so, what do you think so far? Let me know in the comments. See…I HAVE actually played something other than Breath of the Wild this week! πŸ˜€

Keep on playing…

Weekend Gaming Review – Small Retro Game Haul

Due to being out of town for most of the weekend, today’s post will be a summary of whatever games I was able to play over the weekend and any general video games related thoughts I had the urge to discuss. I also have included a few photos of some older games I happened to pick up over the weekend as a pat on the back for actually leaving my apartment πŸ™‚

The past week…or few weeks, rather, I have spent the largest majority of my time spent playing games was my continuous march towards completing Breath of The Wild a second time WHILE finishing every shrine and collecting every Korok seed. I first decided rather impulsively to begin BOTW a second time and thought to myself, “what the hell…I’ll see if I can get EVERY Korok seed and shrine along the way”. To my surprise, I have been able to keep grinding away and am currently sitting at 64 of 120 shrines completed and 431 out of 900 Korok Seeds, and it’s only taken me about…um, let’s see here…50+ hours so far…I have been keeping some notes and screenshots while playing as I intend to go through and write up some of my thoughts and observations from playing through the game. I can already say that I have an even deeper appreciation for the game than after my first time through…just have 3 Divine Beasts, 56 shrines, and 469 Korok seeds left…not bad πŸ˜‰

I did actually play a couple other games over the past week other than Breath of the Wild; I spent a few hours over Thursday and Friday night participating in the final Splatfest as part of Team Order against the Team Chaos’ agents of mayhem (You’ve doomed Inkopolis, you monsters!). Splatoon 2 is a great game and it’s a bit of a shame the online play can be a bit obtuse at times…like most other Nintendo online multiplayer games, sadly.

I also played a little bit more of The Witcher 3, which sounds like insanity, or I just have too much time on my hands that I would even think of juggling both Breath of the Wild and The Witcher 3 at the same time, but had the urge to go back in and play some more after I had spent the afternoon on Twitter reading about the upcoming Netflix series as well as seeing more pics of Henry Cavill as Geralt. Oddly enough, I had just mentioned in the comments below Hannie at The Hannie Corner’s post – Fifteen Games I’d Like To Beat Before 2019 Is Over that I am doubtful that I could finish both The Witcher 3 AND Persona 5 before 2019 is over. Funny how all it takes is to read about a related tv show or merely mention a game that creates the urge to play it (NOT easily swayed by outside influence at all, huh?).

My video game haul from over the weekend

This past Saturday I made a trip to my local used game store in town and picked up a few games I had been wanting to play. I bought a very nice copy of The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages, a game I have been wanting to play for quite some time, even more so since I finished up Link’s Awakening on my Game Boy Color a few months ago. I haven’t seen a copy of Oracle of Seasons in a while, but I would like to get a copy of that so I can play through both of them. While there I grabbed a copy of The Force Awakens that was in pretty nice condition; I never completed the entire game after it was first released and intend to correct that in the near future. The store was also having a “buy two used games, get one free” sale over the weekend, so as my freebie I took a disc-only copy of X-Men Legends for my Gamecube. Legends being another game that I played a fair amount of on my Gamecube with my younger brother after its release, but never finished. My wife and I tried it out for a while earlier today and it plays just fine, those old hack & slash type games are still fun to play after all these years, even with the fuzzy 480p GC graphics. It occurred to me after buying the games that I had taken the “poor man’s approach” to newer games, with X-Men Legends being a predecessor to the newly released Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order and a good deal of the gameplay elements from The Force Unleashed will be used(from what I’ve seen so far, at least) in Respawn’s upcoming Jedi: Fallen Order that comes out in November.

A nice copy of Oracle of Ages

During my trip out of town, I happened to stop at a couple garage sales and someone was trying to sell a DS Lite that their kids had played on but no longer use. It seemed to be in decent enough shape, and the owner offered $15 for the DS Lite, case, and a couple games included – Mario + Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games and a cartridge-only Donkey Kong game of some sort (the label on the card was scratched off and simply had “Donkey Kong” written on it). I had been wanting to buy a DS Lite, mostly as a cheaper, backlit means of playing Game Boy Advance games since I no longer have my old original “fat” DS. I gave the man $15 for the DS and everything with it and only upon inspecting and testing out the handheld I found out that the “Donkey Kong” game was actually the DS port of Diddy Kong Racing from the N64, pretty sweet :D. The DS itself is in pretty good shape as a result of the Cars protective case covering most of it; there is a bit of a scratch on the upper screen, but I believe I can buff that out when I go through and thoroughly clean it. I have seen people making and selling “replacement labels” for game cartridges online, so I can see about getting one of those so it’s not simply a piece of tape of the card. I don’t do a ton of retro game collecting anymore as I plain don’t have room for boxes and boxes full of old games…<sigh>…but it’s still fun to go and see what kind of treasure you can find. A few years ago, I stopped by someone selling a few assorted N64 games at a garage sale and notice there was Conker’s Bad Fur Day in great shape so I asked the guy standing there how much and he tells me “the games are $5 a piece”, obviously either not knowing or caring this particular game re-sells for $75+ online and at used game stores, probably my greatest find at a garage sale.

I was pleasantly surprised to find “Donkey Kong” was actually Diddy Kong Racing for the DS. You can see the scratch on the upper screen, but I think I can clean that up a bit.

That’s about it for this week, do you collect many physical copies of games, retro or not? What’s your best “haul” at a garage sale or used game store? Let me know in the comments. I’m off to try and collect a few more Korok seeds and make my way through the Gerudo and Wasteland regions of Breath of the Wild.

Keep on playing…

Gato Roboto – A Charming MEWtroidvania Title

Greetings! Today’s post is about a game that I have played recently and really enjoyed – Gato Roboto, which was developed by doinksoft and published by Devolver Digital. Gato Roboto was released on Steam and Nintendo Switch on May 30 and I admit I was sold pretty easily upon first hearing about the game…Metroidvania, Cats, Mech-suits…YES PLEASE! πŸ™‚

Gato Roboto begins with interstellar pilot, Gary responding to a distress signal coming from a seemingly abandoned research facility…sounds familiar, right? Upon arrival at the facility your ship crashes to the planet surface and Gary is trapped in the wreckage. Unable to proceed any further Gary entrusts his loyal companion – a cat named Kiki to complete his mission. Kiki quickly discovers an unoccupied mech-suit and begins the process of rescuing Gary and learning the origin of the distress signal. You begin at the Landing Site before making your way to the Nexus which acts as a “hub” for the interconnected regions of the game (Landing Site, Nexus, Aquaduct, Heater Core, Ventilation, Incubator, and Laboratory being the seven regions to explore in the game). As you progress throughout the different regions you acquire varying upgrades for your suit, such as missiles, spin jump, auto repeater – rapid fire ability for your main weapon. There is no grapple beam, sadly…you also don’t have to worry about missile upgrades as you have a temperature gauge which will allow you to shoot unlimited missiles, however you can only shoot a couple before you begin overheating. One unique ability in the game is the phase boost, which allows you to quickly dash between barriers, granting you brief invulnerability( I was familiar with this after playing Guacamelee); a skill that becomes necessary for boss battles later in the game.

As one would expect, you are not able to explore every corner of a given region as you make your way through the first time, you will need to gain certain skills to access specific areas. Once you acquire your spin jump you will be able to make your way up to that higher up ledge you noticed your initial pass through the area. The rewards for thoroughly exploring the regions are usually health upgrades, or palette cassettes, which act as a filter to change the appearance of your screen from the default black and white. There are a total of fourteen palette cartridges you can collect on your way to 100% completion; my favorites were Grape – a very bold purple, Meowtrix – a Wachowski-inspired neon green, and Virtual Cat – a headache-inducing bright red as a nod to Nintendo’s great(est) misstep of the 90’s. You can also acquire two upgrades to current weapons from the frog scientist(?) Rebba provided you’ve found enough palette cartridges. The Auto Repeater upgrade adds a rapid-fire ability to your main weapon, which is definitely worth the extra few minutes of tracking down those extra cartridges; you can simply hold down the fire button when shooting enemies, and bosses especially as they take a lot of firepower to defeat.

My favorite of the palette cartages that act as color filters – Virtual Cat. Just looking at this is almost enough to cause a headache.

I don’t want to simplify any description of Gato Roboto by saying it’s a Metroid clone; it certainly makes no effort to hide the fact that it’s almost a note-for-note cover of Metroid. The game outside of the phase boost, and the main protagonist being a cat, doesn’t really add anything to the formula that we haven’t seen before. If you’re looking for original gameplay and narrative-heavy storyline you will be greatly disappointed. I wrote about Back In 1995 a while back; a game that was created as an homage to a genre of games that had influenced the developers. My biggest critique of Back In 1995 wasn’t necessarily that it didn’t do something revolutionary for the survival-horror genre, but that it seemingly missed on what made the games memorable in the first place. Gato Roboto IS for all intent “Metroid, but with a cat”, but it does provide an enjoyable gameplay experience, along with some quirky indie-game charm which is all I was hoping for in the game. My only real complaint is the overall controls/jumping feel a little too loose and “floaty” but isn’t too much of a hinderance. The game isn’t overly difficult, outside of a couple boss battles and not particularly long, it can be completed in 3-4 hours. I enjoyed my first time through the game enough that I did play through a second time in an attempt to get a 100% completion. If you’re a fan of Metroidvania games, or just cats in video games, I can recommend Gato Roboto as a indie title you can play for under $10.

That’s it for this week! What are some Metroidvania games that you’ve enjoyed recently? How about just games with cats in them? πŸ™‚

I realize I said “Metroidvania” about a hundred times, so apologize for that…AND the bad pun in the title πŸ˜‰ I also thought of this recent article I read on Kotaku, lol.

https://kotaku.com/stop-calling-games-metroidvania-1836051152

Keep on playing…

Nintendo Flips The Switch Lite

I don’t usually get a chance to write any new posts during the week, but had a few thoughts about Nintendo’s announcement and figured I could stand to “Switch” things up a bit…<crickets chirping>…anywho…Today Nintendo confirmed the rumors circulating that they had been working on a newer model of their mega-successful hybrid console by announcing the Nintendo Switch Lite, which releases in a mere seventy days on September 20, 2019 for $200. The newest version of the Switch is indeed a more compact version to be played exclusively in handheld mode. The Switch Lite will be a smaller all-in-one handheld system featuring built-in Joycon controllers as well as an improved battery Nintendo claims will last 20-30% longer than its bigger brother. Other notable changes to the Switch Lite include:

  • A 5.5 inch screen versus 6.2 inches
  • Not dock compatible, charges via USB-C cable
  • Does not have HD Rumble or IR Motion Sensors
  • D-pad positioned on left Joycon
  • Longer lasting battery – the example used by Nintendo was four hours of playing Breath of the Wild with the new battery versus three hours on the current model
  • Available in three different colors, including a Pokemon Sword/Shield Zacian and Zamazenta Special Edition announced as well ( looks sweet!)

I woke up this morning to read Nintendo had finally confirmed they are releasing a newer model of the Switch and spent the majority of the day reading about it, as well as perusing Twitter to see others reactions. I am genuinely excited about a new and improved(?) version of the Switch coming in September and have a few thoughts about it.

The Zacian/Zamazenta Special Edition of the Switch Lite looks pretty nice

Is the price tag worth the trade-off? – Obviously this completely subjective and depends on your needs and preferences. For someone that plays the Switch primarily in handheld mode as I know many do, as well as those with children this will be a great purchase; the Switch is perfect for commuting from work or school and surely worth the $200 price tag. Features like the HD Rumble, motion sensors, kickstand, and detachable Joycons I find myself not typically using a great deal, so other than not having the option to “dock” the console for charging purposes I think it’s justified. Hell, just the fact you have a legit d-pad to use for games like Tetris 99 seems appealing enough.

What about games you can’t play in handheld mode? – I don’t believe the list of games that you are simply unable to play in handheld mode is a very long list, with the biggest titles being games like Mario Party or 1-2 Switch. Nintendo has stated that for games such as these you will be able to connect additional Joycons to play….but…if you need additional Joycons to play games on a HANDHELD console….how do you HOLD the console? The Switch Lite does not have the built-in kickstand so there is no tabletop mode along with docked. Another game I thought of was during Mario Odyssey each level upon has specific power moons that you will need to detect the rumble on the controller to know where to ground pound to get the power moon, how will that work? I admit these probably aren’t huge deal-breakers, but it was something I thought of this afternoon.

What about the 3DS? Will we get a Switch “Pro” – Nintendo already set the precedent of making differing models of their handhelds to best fit customer needs, but with the Switch Lite being exclusively a handheld console, what does that mean for the 3DS? The 3DS was incredibly successful but is getting on in years after seeing several different versions including both XL and 2DS versions; does Nintendo plan on finally putting the little guy out to pasture? The 3DS has been home to some great games over the years and Nintendo has been committed to having both home console as well as handheld supported at any given time, but with the Switch being a hybrid of both it will be interesting to see what happens next. Also, with unveiling of the Lite, does that mean that Nintendo will be releasing a beefed-up “Pro” model of the Switch? Something with a little more horsepower( if possible) and possibly an improvement to the dock that would include an ethernet port for the “hardcore gamers” like me πŸ˜‰ that spend most of their time playing in docked mode ( translation: NEVER leave home) and would like a little more stability in using a wired connection? I would love for Nintendo to bring something like that to life, but for now I still love my regular old Switch.

How is it a Switch if it doesn’t “switch”? – I came across more of these comments than I can count today? While I agree Nintendo kind of painted themselves into a corner with the name branding, I don’t think it’s a big enough concern to warrant a lengthy response, smart guy.

How great does the rest of the year look for Nintendo? – This was my biggest question this afternoon after realizing Nintendo launched the Switch on the same day as Breath of the Wild, and will be releasing the Switch Lite on September 20 – the SAME DAY as the much anticipated Link’s Awakening remake….coincidence? The Switch Lite is releasing right alongside a Zelda game, right before new Pokemon and a few months before a new Animal Crossing; Nintendo is looking to have a huge remainder of 2019 and into 2020. Here is some of the exclusives coming out for the Switch in the upcoming months –

  • Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order – July 19
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses – July 26
  • Astral Chain – August 30
  • Daemon X Machina – September 13
  • The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening – September 20
  • Pokemon Sword/Shield – November 15
  • Luigi’s Mansion 3 – November 2019

That about does it for now, what do you think of the Switch Lite?( they couldn’t have called it a “Lite Switch” huh? πŸ˜‰ ) What games are you looking forward in the upcoming months? It’s a great time for video games!

Keep on playing…

My Summertime Games

I’m going to start off by apologizing for not having a blog post ready for this past weekend, my brother was in town for the week and I didn’t have much time to sit at my computer and write anything out. I had an enjoyable week playing games and visiting our local used game store in town. As this past week was the 4th of July, I thought it would be fun to write about the games that I associate with summertime. I have made a list of the games that always remind me of those summer days as kids where my brother and I would come inside from playing baseball out in the backyard, grab a couple cold sodas, and then proceed to play some games during the hottest hours of the day. First off….

All-Star Baseball – “America’s Pastime”, this was a bit difficult to name just one single baseball game as my favorite, but the first memories that come to mind are playing the All-Star Baseball games on my N64. I started as a kid playing La Russa Baseball 95 on Sega Genesis all the way through to present day MLB The Show games. We would play outside and pretend we were hitting in major league stadiums like Ken Griffey Jr. or Mike Piazza and then head inside to continue on as our favorite players on the N64. The games have improved by light years from the simple design of the 16-bit days, and the yearly offering of MLB The Show is still probably the games I play most during the summer months. I often think of all the time spent playing baseball on N64, as well as in the backyard with friends and family, being inseparable from any mention of summertime.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater – Growing up in the 90’s and into the early 2000’s before extreme sports games like skateboarding and snowboarding seemingly went extinct, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater most successful series of the genre and helped bring extreme sports even further into popular culture of the time; remember Jackass or Viva La Bam on MTV? or when the X Games drew massive viewers on ESPN? I first played the original Pro Skater the summer of 2000 after a cousin brought the N64 version of the game over and spent the day playing. I got my mom to buy my brother and I a copy of the game from a local Kmart and we spent the rest of the summer obsessively playing it; I remember waking up in the mornings that summer just to try and collect more tapes thereby unlocking more levels. As someone unable to even stand on a skateboard( and living in the middle of nowhere) this was like discovering another world. Pro Skater, along with Rogue Squadron 2 were the first games I got when the GameCube came out in 2002. I still have copies of the first couple Tony Hawk games for Playstation that are still fun to go back and play every now and then, despite the camera and controls which have not aged particularly well. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was a huge game for me during all those summers as a kid, not to mention all of the cool licensed music that were used for the games. Ask anyone who played the game to NOT think of THPS upon hearing Superman by Goldfinger.

Mario Golf N64 – I dragged my trusty N64 into my living room a few weeks ago and Mario Golf was one of the first games that I popped in. I spent countless hours with my younger brother and our neighbor friend trying to unlock all the extra characters that you needed to first beat in Match Play, which proved quite challenging to say the least. I remember taking turns playing one hole each trying to beat Metal Mario…I don’t think we ever did? The music and sound effects from this game still bring forth all those warm fuzzy nostalgic feelings after all these years. I dragged my trusty N64 into my living room a few weeks ago and Mario Golf was one of the first games that I popped in and plan on going through and writing about the Mario Golf series as I love all the games. While many consider Mario Golf for the Game Boy Color to be the high point of the series, my favorite would still have to be the N64 version.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City – Man…I can’t even imagine the hours that were spent playing this on Playstation 2. GTA: Vice City was the game my brother and I saved every cent of allowance money and traded in several stacks of games just to buy a PS2, because we knew we HAD TO GET THIS GAME. Vice City took everything that GTA 3 had pioneered in open-world games and added even more. My friends and I used to take turns playing the game for hours on end without even attempting to actually complete a storyline mission. I had never played anything like it to that point, it was so fun to run around the neon, tropical landscape of Vice City set during the 1980s. The carefree do-anything gameplay, music, and chaos that Rockstar created in Vice City is still one of the first things that comes to mind when I think of video games in the summertime.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – I ACTUALLY have a more recently released game on my list! It has been two years since I was able to get a Switch and the obvious choice of game to go along with it is Breath of the Wild. I spent the rest of the summer completing shrines and gathering Korok seeds in Nintendo’s open-world Zelda masterpiece. I had been itching to play through the game all over again, so I started another playthrough over the weekend with the intention of completing every shrine and finding every Korok seed, along with finally completing the Master Sword Trial( wish me luck! πŸ˜‰ ). There really isn’t much to say about BotW that hasn’t already been said, if you have not played it yet…YOU NEED TO PLAY THIS! The game is an experience.

Super Mario Sunshine – I am simply unable to think of summertime video games without Super Mario Sunshine being one of the first games springing to mind. I fell in love with this game from the first time I played in on my GameCube in August 2002 and Mario’s vacation-gone-awry on Isle Delfino is still one of my highlights on the console. The exotic Isle Delfino and the Piantas – its anti-pollution, fruit-loving denizens, simply evokes images of a dream summer vacation. The wonderful Koji Kondo soundtrack adds to the summertime mood as well. Despite the seemingly relaxed vibe of the game, it can be terrifyingly difficult; just take a look at some of the 3D puzzle-platforming levels in the later stages of the game. I recently wrote up a list of my “Switch Wish List” and Sunshine is one of the games I really would love to play on the Switch, as the predecessor of Super Mario Odyssey. While the camera is STILL the games biggest drawback, it is a pure enjoyable experience traversing Isle Delfino with your waterpack – F.L.U.D.D and still consider it one of the defining experiences on the GameCube. Switch re-release or not, Super Mario Sunshine is still my go-to summer gaming experience.

That’s going to be it for this week’s post, what games do you think of right away if you when you reminisce about childhood summers? What are you still excited to play the remained of the sumer? I did also pick up a copy of Super Mario Maker 2 and have been loving it so far; the depth of the course creator and insane user-created levels are really impressive. That along with Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 when it releases in a couple weeks will most likely consume the rest of my summer. I still have a lot of games that I want to keep working on as the past week was spent mostly playing MLB The Show, Mario Kart 8, and an assorted few N64 and GameCube games and then of course, Season 3 of Stranger Things. I do plan to get more in the rhythm of writing weekly posts moving forward through the rest of the summer. Over the course of the week, I was able to come up with some ideas for future blog posts that I would love to experiment with as well, so I’m pretty happy about that. Happy National Video Game Day! Finally…a holiday for us gamers πŸ˜‰

Keep on playing…