Category Archives: Video Games
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.
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.
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.
I’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.
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!
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. =)
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!
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.
It feels kinda weird, yesterday and today not doing much productive around the house. I suppose there’s a few things I could busy myself with, like organizing the garage, or getting the old server stuff migrated over to some new hardware. Nothing critical though, and instead I’ve spent my time watering the grass and playing Minecraft.
There’s a lot of work that needs done, but it’s all in a holding pattern right now. The Cutlass is at the transmission shop right now getting rebuilt. The Jeep needs to be looked at next. The Toronado is ready for ball joints, but I only have half of them, the other half should come in tomorrow. Don’t get me started on the long list of stuff the Black Car needs. The Toro obviously has kinda just been sitting there a while, but the Jeep and Cutlass both kinda all happened at the same time. It’s a giant sucking sound to the bank account… but oh well. Just a setback, nothing more. Small potatoes in the grand scheme of what’s important in life.
So I sorta feel like I’m procrastinating if I kick back and game a bit. But in reality, I couldn’t get much done right now in the automotive realm if I wanted to. So the only real procrastinating I’m doing is by NOT gaming. I keep talking all the time about how I don’t have as much time to play games as I would like to, so if I don’t take advantage of that now, I’m being a bit hypocritical.
So I’m off to play some more FFX-HD. What a fantastic game. This is probably my 4th playthrough of the game and it’s totally time well spent. Even with the backlog I have piling up. Oh yeah. I need to update my Backloggery. Welp, add that to the list!
I leave you with this video of Luke playing Duck Hunt for the first time. =)
I can’t tell you if it happens the moment I finish certain games. When the game I’m playing becomes one of my most beloved. But without a doubt, after time, there are some games I’ve played that stand out far above the rest. Guild Wars, GoldenEye 007, Super Mario Bros. 3… all of these are games that the memories stick with me. And Final Fantasy X is very much in their company.
This game first came out in 2001, the year I graduated. I spent part of the Christmas holiday with a friend, James, in San Antonio. He had recently gotten the game and was in the middle of playing it while I was there. The graphics were amazing. That was my immediate draw to the game. But as I watched him play, so much of the game felt larger than most. The soundtrack, the world, the story. It was grim, sad, and kept me wanting to know what was going to happen next.
I left San Antonio long before James beat the game. I myself didn’t own a PlayStation 2, so I had no means to play it for myself. Months went by and I didn’t think about it much. I was very much a Nintendo fanboy so I spent my time playing Gamecube. Around my birthday in 2002 (I think) I took some of my birthday money and bought a PS2 bundled with Gran Turismo 3. One thing Nintendo didn’t have was a realistic driving game that was anything like GT3. So without much thought about Final Fantasy X, I snatched up the console.
I don’t remember when I finally bought Final Fantasy X. It was long enough that the game had dropped in price. I remember seeing it on display at a music and game store in the Manhattan Town Center Mall. It was $20 off or so and it really wasn’t until that moment that I thought about all those great experiences again. The more I thought about it, the more I figured it was a no-brainier to pick up.
I played it, several of my friends played it with me, and after several weeks, I beat it. Like I said in the beginning, I don’t know if at the moment I saw the ending that I was hooked on Final Fantasy or not. But sometime between now and then I’ve become quite a fan.
Let’s move ahead about 10 years. The PS3 is out and the PS2 is quickly becoming “retro”. Ouch. Very quietly it’s announced that Final Fantasy X is getting an HD remake. WOW! I’m excited! All of a sudden, I have the urge to re-live the story all over again. But if this game is coming out soon I didn’t want to dilute the experience by replaying it now. So I hold off.
Weeks go by and there’s no news. Months go by… maybe it was cancelled. There were never even any screenshots shown. But Sony press conferences come and go, and not even an acknowledgement of the game. Then about 6 months ago, some news that not only will it be Final Fantasy X, but it will also include X-2 and many of the international features that never made it to the US game! Then the soundtrack starts showing up on news sites and Youtube. Finally it’s a real thing.
This weekend, the game finally materialized. I relish these experiences as an adult, because it makes me feel like a kid again. I was always anticipating some game back when I was younger and it always felt like forever before it released. I probably haven’t felt like this about a new game since Skyward Sword. And this isn’t even really a new game!
I’ve been playing it pretty hardcore since Thursday night. It’s as much fun as it ever was. Between X and X-2, I could play them both, then just immediately start back at the beginning of X and have just as much fun as the first time though. Partly because the games are so lenghty, but mostly because they’re just so good.
I would love to watch Andrea play the game through. It’s such a great game that the only part that sucks is the lack of people to share your thoughts and feelings about it with. I know she respects that it’s one of my favorites, because she pre-ordered this remake for me before I did! I suppose that is enough for me.
I finally did it! It only took about 2 years, but I’ve finally reached the maximum level in Guild Wars 2. This doesn’t mean I’ve beat the game, just that I’ve maxed out my character’s growth and power. I spent about 35 gold last night decking him out with all the level 80 gear. It’s worth it though because I’ll probably be using this stuff for quite a while.
I played a bit while Mom was down over the weekend, then Sunday I made my final push to get from level 78 to 80. Didn’t take that long really. You earn so much more XP by doing events and goal oriented things than you do just killing stuff. But it’s hard for me to pull myself away from just exploring.
So now, I’m ready to move on and finish the rest of my personal story and “beat” the game. Though there’s a ton more content out there past the main storyline. I’m even toying with creating a new character afterwards… We’ll be talking about the Summer Olympics by the time they reach Level 80 for sure.
So here’s a few more screens from this beautiful game taken over the last couple days.
Last night I sat down and busted out some Mario Kart 64. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve played, and a long time since I dove into time trials. I looked back at my twitter and it’s been 1,086 days since I put down a time that was good enough to rank in the top five on any tracks on my cart. So that probably means it’s been at least a decade since I’ve had a time good enough to place first on any of those tracks.
For whatever reason I’d been thinking about this game lately. All the hours I’d spent perfecting those tracks and to some extent if those were skills that were lost forever, or if they were still inside me, buried beneath all the work stress, car repairs, bills, and savings. Of course there’s been a lot of good additions to my life too since then like my family. As nerdy as it sounds, my Mario Kart times were a very special thing to me in my school years. By both the good and the bad, since the late 90’s Mario Kart 64 is something that’s been steadily been pushed aside by other things that were of greater significance.
Sometimes it feels like I’ve changed so much since then. With the pressure of being pulled in so many directions, I feel like it’s wore me down making me more tired, irritable and cynical than ever. Changes I’m not really proud of. So from time to time I wonder if that free spirit is still at the center of the layers of serious crap that have been rolled and caked on top since then. I guess I felt like if I could still compete with my old self at something I was best at back then, then maybe I wasn’t as different a person as I felt after all.
Part of the reason it’s been 1,086 days since my last “blistering” time is because I’m always afraid that some day I’m going to sit down and not be able to do it anymore. That the “old” me really will be nothing more than just a memory. So with some mild trepidation, I picked a track I knew I’d spent a considerable amount of time on. Kalamari Desert. To put into perspective just HOW much time I’d spent racing this track, there is just a 0.42 second difference between 1st place and 5th place. That’s less time than it takes a fluorescent light bulb to turn on. This is exactly the reason I’ve been reluctant to race tracks like this because unless I really am as good as I used to be, there’s no chance I’ll ever have of ranking in the top 5.
My first run through was pretty far off the mark. Relatively at least. When you start getting picky, finding 2 seconds to shave off somewhere can get pretty tricky. But I did notice that my third lap was in the ballpark of my best lap ever. So I felt like getting on the board was achievable, especially since I was literally picking this up cold after ages.
After just my second run, I was really feeling good. My third lap was slower, but I’d picked up big time on laps one and two. Heck, over all I was just a half a second off 5th place and I knew I’d made some mistakes during the run. If I could just correct those, I could be on the board easily. Heck, maybe three runs would be all it would take and my skills had virtually never left me. Hell, maybe a new personal best was in store for me, all on just my 3rd run!
What followed in the 4th, 5th… 12th runs were waves of frustration. As I’d try to get more aggressive on each lap to cut into that time, I’d push just a little too far and make a mistake. I’d only finish all three laps maybe one out of every 5 attempts or so. But you know what, I wasn’t too bummed by it, because this was exactly how I used to play. In fact these exact scenarios used to infuriate the hell out of me. (Maybe I wasn’t so free and cheery as I’d like to think I used to be). Actually… I think Mario Kart Time Trials is the only game that literally made me throw controllers. I would start, restart, start, race, restart, start race finish… restart… all until my thumb was literally raw. So to think I just cranked out these times at will is far from reality.
Then finally after about an hour of racing this track. This one track. I finally did it.
I’d never been more happy to get 4th place. Only 0.16 seconds away from 1st place. I did try a couple more runs to see if I could crank out a 1st place. But honestly, after two runs and it not happening, I didn’t even want to keep going. As lame as this is, part of me didn’t want fell my old 1st place time because of all the work past me had put in to get it. WTF is wrong with my brain? The motivation this whole time was to prove that I’m still the same Matt I’ve always been, but when I have a chance to even be better I draw a line. I’ve gotta be nuts.
So someday I’ll beat that time. Maybe it will take another 1,000 days, but I hope not. I was thinking today about playing and caught myself saying I didn’t need to be playing it two days in a row because of all the other things I needed and wanted to do. Which is exactly what I’ve been telling myself for years that brought about this blog post today. So you know what. To hell with that mindset. If I have the time, and I want to play Mario Kart 64… or ANY other game for that matter. I’m just going to do it. Otherwise I end up convincing myself why I shouldn’t and end up doing something I enjoy less. I’m going to quit over thinking all this crap (see previous 1,000 words) and just have some damn fun. Time to go beat some old ghosts… in Mario Kart that is.