Category Archives: Video Games

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

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The new Animal Crossing game just debuted at E3 this week.  Animal Crossing: New Horizons.  I think I almost always hate every new title when it comes out, then it starts to grow on me, and I suppose this one will too.  At first glance, I wasn’t too impressed, but the more I’ve watched of what little info is out there, the more I’m warming up to it, and the more it’s starting to definitely look like the best Animal Crossing game, even if it will fall short of what I’ve always hoped the game could be.

In all the entries in the series that have come before it, they all kinda start out the same way.  You’re new in town.  Tom Nook hooks you up with a place to stay out of the kindness of his heart, until you find out your his debt slave for the next year or two of your actual real life.  In New Horizons you start out on a deserted Island.  I was a little skeptical of this as I really enjoy the town atmosphere of the Animal Crossing games, and I definitely don’t want to lose that.  It’s something that really holds Pocket Camp back from feeling like a real Animal Crossing experience.  But there are tents, which I assume grow into huts, and maybe then houses or whatever.  I think it will be okay.

One of the biggest pains in the butt has always been inventory management in Animal Crossing.  The touch screen made that easier, but still currently the only way to know what an item is, is to select it.  This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but after you’ve gone through icon by icon just looking for one specific pair of socks… it starts to get annoying.  At least now it looks like you’ll have a better visual representation of the item when you’re looking through your inventory or pockets.

Crafting is here.  Which is… fine.  I don’t hate crafting.  As long as most of the materials can generally be sourced pretty easily.  It’s when you have to have super rare materials, or materials that are incredibly expensive that it becomes annoying.  There’s no word on how all that will play out, so for now, yeah… it’s fine.

Some of the little visual details they’ve included I think will really make the game even easier to get sucked into.  The way the ocean water breaks against the rocks, clouds passing overhead leave shadows on the ground as they go by.  And generally, it all just looks very well polished and put together.  The world they showed was pretty empty, but that’s how all the Animal Crossing games start out.  It’s up to you how you want to fill that space.

Honestly, if it’s just kinda of “quality of life” improvements, I’m okay with that.  But Animal Crossing has always had the potential to connect with your real life friends and family at a really fun level.  But Nintendo is always very cautious when it comes to allowing people to communicate with each other.  And you can’t really blame them.  Humans are the worst.

My dream is an Animal Crossing place that is always there, online, living even when you’re not playing.  You can send mail from your town to your friend in another town, or you could get a friendly message from one of you fictional in game villagers on your real life phone to make you smile.

But let’s be honest.  Nintendo doesn’t have to do much to Animal Crossing to get me to buy it again. 

My Love Letter to the Switch

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I still remember back to that moment that I got hooked on Nintendo.  I was 6 years old, we were visiting one of my Mom’s friends that lived on Avenue C in Dodge City.  The boy that lived there had an NES in his room, and we were playing Super Mario Bros.  I couldn’t believe there was this whole world to explore inside the TV!

Eventually we got our own NES at home, and I could play whenever I wanted.  Except when I had to go to school, or to the store with Mom, or to Grandma’s house, or any time anyone else wanted to watch anything at all on the TV.  In the 90’s the Gameboy was a thing, but the experiences were always so much more limited that you still kinda wished you were playing NES.  Now, exactly 30 years later, my dream is finally realized.

As I’ve grown up, gaming has waxed and waned as one of my great passions in life.  How I remember being a 15, hopelessly a slave to the N64… Mario Kart 64 Time Trials, GoldenEye Fests, 120 Star runs in Super Mario 64.  Then I said to myself, “No matter what happens, no matter how old I get, gaming will always be important to me.”  It brought me so much joy, it really did, that it was hard to imagine life without it.

That is life though, isn’t it?  Right when you think you can’t be any more happy, or any more miserable for that matter, life shows you a whole new level of it you never thought existed.  The hard part is I think we as humans have a tendency to throw ourselves at whatever the new shiny is.  At times to the extent of saying that nothing that has come before could possibly compare to what we have now.  And by extension, that what we had before must be “crap”.  I don’t know why we do these things.  We get rid of things we treasure because we are convinced that something newer is better, we will mistreat the people we love in order to win the love of new people who are basically strangers.

I don’t think that’s a fair way to treat ourselves.  It’s not fair to look at all of your past choices as mistakes or shortcomings, because of something new that you never saw coming ended up happening.

When I got that NES back in 1988…  It was wonderful.  Beautiful.  And that is an experience that I don’t feel like should be diminished because experiences now are so much richer and complex.  To extrapolate, that the feeling of holding that gold Ocarina of Time cartridge in my hand for the first time isn’t an experience I shouldn’t value, because how could it possibly compare to the birth of my children.

Unequal and valid.

So far the Switch has been becoming this common point that so many of the things that bring me joy intersect on.  It’s a place where I can play 2 player Super Mario Bros. with Lucas.  I can team up with Andrea in Rocket League.  Re-live the cookyness of Final Fantasy X-2.  I can play Ice Hockey with Dad in a hotel room.  I can re-visit old places from Ocarina of Time in Breath of the Wild.

But that’s not the best of what the Switch brings to my life.  Switch makes gaming fit into the nooks and crannies of life.  Switch doesn’t make me choose it as the most important thing.  It’s the master key that magically takes the shape of whatever you need it to be.  If I have 5 minutes before work, an hour over lunch, a 6 hour window on the weekend.  In the living room, in the car, at my desk.  It can find a way to fit, without having to push aside family, responsibility, or any of those other adult realities of life.

This “adult life” though is up to you what you make it.  You could let your responsibilities carry you away without having a choice, or live life completely to your own whims to the detriment of those around you.  Contentment is a bit of a moving target that always exists somewhere between those two extremes.  And I’m thankful that all along that spectrum, the Switch is always available to keep a part of me that brings me joy near.

 

 

Fall!

Aww. Isabelle is the best. It’s nice to see some cute and safe for work Isabelle fan art for once.

I’ve been playing a bit of Animal Crossing lately. Looking forward to the Switch version for sure. The seasons are changing in the game just as they are in real life too.

Luke has been super excited for Halloween. We carved our pumpkins today, I fear that by the actual holiday on Wednesday they’ll be looking a bit gnarly, but it’s always a fun tradition, made even more so by Luke’s anticipation of it all.

Also took the day on Saturday to head out and hit the trail. Might end up being the last nice weekend of the year, and boy was it beautiful.

I was just talking the week or two before about how both the ATVs have been running all year, but nobody wants to ride. Andrea and Karina went out last week and I went out this week, so I’m glad that’s happening again.

I spent a lot of time alone in this ride, just thinking about things. I guess I got it all sorted out. Either way, it was a beautiful day.

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The Current Things

I’m into a few things right now that I keep bouncing back and forth between.  Not enough time to enjoy all of them at once.  And I feel like chaining myself to one thing until completion makes the fun stuff feel like work.  So I do my best to remember where I left off, and dive back in when it feels right.

octopath

Octopath Traveler is my main game of the moment.  It’s a new “old school” style RPG.  It’s very much my flavor.  It’s turn based, so there’s no timer making you sweat it out.  You can take as much time as you want in between turns to really plan out your strategy… or make another run to the beer fridge.

The story isn’t amazing per se.  There’s some really good moments and some really hard hitting lines though.  Above all else, the game is beautiful, and the MUSIC.  Oh my god.  It’s possibly one of the best sound tracks I’ve ever heard.  I love getting to a new area just to hear a brand new song.

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Cheers has been on my list for a long time.  I’ve probably been watching it on and off for a couple of years now.  There’s so many episodes.  Heck, that show was on for 10 years or more!  And I can see why.  It’s one of those legendary prime-time style TV shows that has a cast with real chemistry, and just some of the best writing in television, ever.  I’m working my way through it, and even though it’s taking forever, I’m ok with that because I’ll be sad for the day that it’s over.

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The Green Jeep.  I haven’t posted about it here yet I think.  So Andrea’s been wanting this bad boy for a long time.  Like years of talking about the somedays.  Well we’d always casually send classified posts back and forth, and one day this thing popped up and it was in our price range of about $5,000.

We went to look at it.  On the way there, I told her… if it has rust in the frame, or rust in the body mounts, I don’t want anything to do with it.  “Ok.  She said.”  We looked at it.  It had rust in the frame and the body mounts.  “It has rust in the frame and the body mounts I said.”

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“Yeah…” she said.  Well, I knew what this meant.  She still wanted it.  I mean, it looked like a Jeep!  Good enough, right!?  So I decided… okay, Matt.  If you’re going to deal with this rusty heap… what would you be willing to pay?  I offered $600 less than he was asking and he took it.  Probably thought I was a chump.  I probably am.  Haha.

Well either way, as most of these abused and neglected vehicles do in my life.  It’s grown on me.  We’ve got the stuff to fix the rust.. It’s going to be a pain in the ass, but Oh Well.  I’ll appreciate it more when it’s done.  Or something like that.

For now we’re just driving it and enjoying it for the purposes we bought it for anyway.  It can’t really get much worse in the short term.  And fixing the frame is the winter project.  I’ll learn something if nothing else.

In between it all, I’m of course working, dad-ing, and husband-ing.  I find some times for retro games still every now and then.  OH and I’ve been dedicating more attention to my Animal Crossing town.  The new game for Switch was announced a while back and it’s renewed my excitement for the game.

So right now I’ve got about 90 minutes before bedtime.  Not sure what’s on the plate.  Octopath?  GoldenEye?  Tough choice.

My E3 Complex

My E3 experiences go pretty far back.  I remember sitting at my desk in my room in Manhattan on my Toshiba laptop watching a postage stamp sized video window waiting for the Nintendo Press Conference to start.

I was a regular on the IGN message boards and there was always a ton of hype and speculation going into the show each year.  What games would be announced?  What new hardware was there going to be?  Everyone was always hoping for a “MEGATON” announcement, and in the end the show never really lived up to the hype, and sometimes even made people mad.  I’ll never forget the outright revolt over Wind Waker’s graphics.

I remember taking days off of work so that I could watch everything live and follow all the news, then share thoughts and discussion with my internet friends on the boards.  It was all pretty thrilling actually.  Fun to share so much passion with other people who were just as passionate as you were and you didn’t have to explain to anyone why you cared so much.  They “got it”.

Anymore, E3 sneaks up on me.  “Oh yeah, that’s this week!”  I don’t even think I realized it until I saw a tweet the night before from Nintendo.  My anticipation has waned over the years.  Partly because life is a lot more full of “things” now, and also because now there’s almost always some new news and announcements being made.  If anytime E3 today is as much or more about putting the spotlight on things that you already know about, rather than announcing new stuff.

When I was in my teenage years and super nuts about games, I remember telling myself that no matter how old I got, gaming was always going to be an important part of my life.  It really felt like it was the one thing that given the choice of anything I could be doing, I’d choose to play games.  You know those bumper stickers that you see that say, “I’d rather be ____ing.”?  That was my philosophy.  Today gaming is still an important thing for me.  It’s a nice release, but my life is gone from “can’t get enough games” to “what do I pass on so that I can properly enjoy the games I have time to play?”

So now E3 comes around, and my expectations are pretty tempered.  I honestly don’t want to see 5 new awesome games I never knew about.  I just want to know that there are two, maybe three good games between now and the end of the year.  There are so many games that I have unbeaten or even unplayed, that if there was a MEGATON announcement, I would almost be annoyed that I’d have to find time to play it.

Would I go back to that time?  The time when E3 was magical and exciting?  I don’t think so.  I’ve settled into being what is mostly likely labeled a “retro gamer”.  I have all the old systems hooked up, and somedays I just look forward to coming home and playing some PilotWings 64.  I can get just as excited about adding a Super Nintendo Zelda game to my collection as I can a brand new one.  I also feel like I can manage the pace of getting and playing these games better than trying to keep up with what is new and coming out.

My E3 complex will probably end up resolving itself sooner than later.  More and more often companies are using the internet and social media to make announcement and get info to their super-fans all year long, whenever they want.  There’s less and less need to put it all in one place and use the press to get your message out.  You can reach out and influence people directly.  So if E3 were to die this year, on a lot of levels, I’d be OK with that.

Back Again

It was a calm steady rain this morning.  There probably would have been a sunrise if not for the clouds hiding it, but it made for a soft orange gray glow that seemed to blend with the color of the leaves and the grass to give the world almost a monotone look.  The spongy earth squished beneath each step but never got messy or stuck to your shoes.  Time seems to tick by a bit more slowly.  The fish are biting.

The only drawback was reality.  In truth I was just sitting in my car in the Wal-Mart parking lot on just another average day, playing Animal Crossing on my 3DS, hoping that if I waited long enough I could get my hands on the new NES Classic Edition.

I’ve always enjoyed Animal Crossing, but the longer I play it, the more I appreciate it.  And the more immersive the game becomes.  Even on a tiny little screen, the sounds and all the little visual details that change as the time, seasons or weather change.  It all came together, and I got that real life feeling you get when it’s just a quiet dreary rainy day, but it doesn’t mess anything up, because you had nothing planned in the first place.

A new update came out recently that brought some more features to the game.  That’s nice and all, but the real gem has just been getting back into my village, and starting new projects and finishing off goals like catching all the fish, or getting the golden shovel.  It’s been about 7 months since the last time I played and they’ve done a much better job of making it easier to hop back in.

I remember in the original Animal Crossing on Gamecube if you were gone for too long, some of your villagers would make you feel pretty guilty when you finally came back!  Plus your town would be ridden with weeds and getting back into the game was a real chore.  The new update goes through and de-weed’s your town before you first step back into it.  Why weren’t the villagers ever so eager to pitch in before?

So I’m rather skeptical that I’ll end up with a NES Classic Edition today, but if not, I’ll sulk and rebound inside Glendale.  A nice little town with nice little people and nothing that needs done today.

It’s not an obsession…

Well that last post was certainly epic.  I guess if you have to encapsulate an entire decade and website into one post, those things will happen.  I started out just wanting to write about the big milestones in life, but as I was scrolling through the archives, I found so many little things that seemed like a bigger deal than I remember.  So I kept writing, and writing, and writing… and it became well that.  I even thought about putting a jump in the post, so the entire thing didn’t land on the front page, but I thought… “It’s my site… why the hell not?”  So I just left it alone.

In the more recent history, I’ve been on a few kicks lately.  I’ve been super into gaming again.  More so than any other time I can recently remember.  Not like when I was in high school.  I don’t have that kind of time anymore.  But definitely more than any other time since college I would say.  I’m not sure what the difference is.  Part of it is the forum I’m on.  (Forums are bad for my bank account I’m finding.)  It’s too easy to find out about all the cool stuff coming out.  And then seeing other people getting it.  And thanks to YouTube… watching everybody else playing it.

So… the collection continues to grow.  Andrea has been showing off the character themed Wiimotes that we got.  Had to import the Yoshi one from Japan (that’s how you know it’s getting bad).  But honestly, it was HER idea.  Not mine.  I MAY have been the one to show it to her.  But she pulled the trigger.  And I MAY have been the one to show her the Bowser and Toad themed ones coming out in Japan… but I’m not buying them.  Seriously… some how, and some way, she has it as bad, or worse than I do.

This is why we need to get back into Guild Wars.  It scratches that collecting itch.  You want every set of armor, go for it!  It’s going to take some work.  But it will be SO worth it…. and a whole lot cheaper, that’s for sure.

With YouTube I’ve been watching a lot of playthrough’s of games.  Honestly I’ve probably even spent more time watching YouTube videos of people playing games, than I have played myself recently.  I wasn’t quite sure why that was at first, but the more I thought about it, I realized nothing really has changed.  Especially for games I’ve played already, I enjoy watching others play them as much as I like playing them myself.  I love seeing people experience a game for the first time.  I love seeing their reactions.  It’s as close as I can get to going back and playing it myself again for the first time.

You have no idea how much I would love to watch Andrea go back and play though some of my favorite games.  Super Mario 64, Zelda, and above all.  Final Fantasy X.  I don’t know how anybody could play that game to it’s conclusion and walk away disappointed.

I’ve been pretty hooked on Animal Crossing: New Leaf on the 3DS.  I took several months off for a while after it first came up.  But I picked it up a couple months ago and have been playing almost daily.  I’m to the point now where everything takes a crap ton of bells.  So I take trips to the island after dark and catch beetles.  I can rack up about 200k bells per trip.  I’ve become pretty emotionally invested in my town and several of its citizens.  Skye is my current favorite.  She’s so sweet, positive and upbeat.  Better than that twerp Tex.

SkyeACNLI’m still doing a pretty fair amount of retro gaming as well.  Trying to work my way through Star Wars: Rogue Squadron on the N64 for a competition on the N64 forum I’m a member of.  Man this game isn’t easy.  Or I’ve gotten worse at games, which is probably most likely.  Though I remember playing, and replaying games back in the day until you have it memorized to the point it’s a cinch.  This game is much like that.  Discovering the most effective strategies, memorizing that.  Getting a bit farther.  And repeat.  I have four missions left to go, so hopefully I can have it beat soon.  It will be the first game I’ve beaten in quite a while.

On the topic of beating games, I still need to beat Guild Wars 2.  I am literally at the last mission.  I’ve soloed a good 95% of the game so far.  But this last mission is more than a single character can do.  It’s more than Andrea and I can do by ourselves in fact.  So I’m going to need some help from Biebs and maybe even some other random strangers in the game.  It’s the last mission though, so there should always be a few people looking to group up.  But right now, I’m waiting for Andrea so we can beat the game together.  Then it’s on to the next RPG style game.

So yeah… I’ve had a lot of thought time occupied by gaming recently which is a bit of a change.  I never really stopped gaming.  We always had a console of some kind hooked up.  But I had gotten out of the “news and hype” part of it all.  Things could come and go, and I didn’t even know about ’em.  I’d keep tabs on the super big games, like Mario, Zelda, Final Fantasy.  But now I find myself getting excited about Captain Toad Treasure Tracker.  It looks like a super fun game.  But I have to tell myself… wait 13 months and pick it up for $15 or $20.

It’s fun though.  And now that I have less time to play, collecting is a fun way to be a part of it, and when I retire I can finally play all these games.  Until then the backlog grows and grows.

Where’d Summer Go?

Man, time really does fly.  I was talking to Mom last night and realized I haven’t been back out to Cimarron since June and here it is September.  It doesn’t seem like that much time has passed, and I couldn’t really tell you exactly what’s been taking up all that time between then and now.

Luke is growing and changing every day it seems like.  He’s really gotten into Hot Wheels cars.  We all have around the house I guess.  Andrea has been cataloging them all on the Hot Wheels website, I’ll even find myself in the store alone looking for cars he doesn’t have.  Getting harder and harder to do!

Luke playing with the neighbor boy at his birthday party.

Luke playing with the neighbor boy at his birthday party.

We have a lot of that orange track, and Luke got one of those big tower launchers for his birthday, so we set it up and have a lot of fun drag racing them, or setting up a course to run them through and seeing which cars make it the farthest.  Luke gets so into it.  It’s serious business to him and he has a blast.  Andrea has a hard time because sometimes she comes up with rules (like the car that finishes first wins) and Luke isn’t so much about following anyone else’s rules but his own (which change on a whim).  But playing with cars is always a fun time for all of us no matter what.

I’ve been playing some games.  Mostly Mario Kart 8 and Guild Wars 2.  I haven’t written much about Mario Kart 8 here yet.  A lot of what I feel about the game is an echo of what I’ve already written about for Mario Kart 7.  The two games are VERY similar.  The biggest difference being the amount of detail in the graphics for Mario Kart 8.  It is an absolutely beautiful game.  Oh, and I finally got my Royal Raceway re-make.  =)

Royal Raceway MK8

I played some Mario Kart 64 last night before I went to bed, it was a bit alarming how I had gotten used to the way the new game plays and took some getting used to to get back into the swing of things on Mario Kart 64.  I wasn’t breaking any records, but the old N64 stuff comes back to the top pretty quickly.

I’ve slacked off a bit in completing FFX-HD.  I’m quite close to the end, I need to just power through.  But I’ve gotten to a stage where I’ve been power leveling up my characters a bit so there hasn’t been a lot of action and I need to come back and push forward in the story.  Then on to play FFX-2-HD.  A game I haven’t played since I beat it the first time.  I’m probably more excited to replay that one than the first!

And I’m finally closing in on the completion of my personal story in Guild Wars 2.  It’s only taken 2 years…  After that there’s still a ton of content to play.  It’s a fun game and there is still so much to explore and see, when I have like 6 solid hours to kill on a Saturday, it’s a great way to soak that up, but that just doesn’t happen as much as I wish it would!

So that’s a very vague update.  I’m getting a new phone this week which will be nice because I’ll be able to take some more spontaneous photos and use twitter more often.  It’s just an exercise in frustration with my current phone.  And those pictures are always great for enhancing the blog posts here, so I’m looking forward to that a lot!

But for now, lunch break over and back to work!

Still Kicks My Butt

Behemoth-King

I’ve played a lot of Final Fantasy X.  I’m not a master but I’ve been around the block.  Even so, this game can still kick my but, and it’s been just long enough since I last played I forget some important things.

Last night I decided to play some more FFX-HD before I went to bed.  I’ve been having fun taking my time with this game since it came out.  Been leveling all my characters up evenly and haven’t had any trouble at all so far.  I spent about an hour last night working through one of the final areas in the game.  I was gaining levels and loot like crazy, pretty much cruising through the area until I met the Bohemouth King…

He was pretty tough straight away, able to kill off any of my characters at will with his “Heave” move.  But I was fairly charged up so I would quickly bring them back into battle.  I whittled him down and finally dealt the death blow, and that’s when I forgot that the Bohemouth King dishes out a massive party wide attack when you kill him.  You can’t avoid it, it’s just what he does.  And it wiped out my entire group.  GAME OVER.

I lost an hour’s worth of progress, experience and loot.  At first I was pretty pissed.  And I won’t lie… I’d love to have all those sphere levels back (about 8 per character) that I didn’t get to spend.  But I always talk about how I wish I could go back and re-experience my favorite games without being so jaded.  Well I look at this as a moment where that particular wish was granted.

Luke Plays Minestorm