Wednesday, April 28, 2010


A Wii is a Pleasant Thing to Have

I wake up and have breakfast, and then I go to the living room. I move the coffee table to one side, pull the yoga mat and balance board out from under the couch, and slip Wii Fit Plus into the disc slot.

I check my weight, then I combine the Warm Up and Back and Shoulders routines to warm up. Next it's my personal routine: pushups, jackknives, tricep extensions, lunges, and a plank. Then a quick jog around Wuhu Island. Finally, I return to the gym to cool down with the Posture and Relaxation sets. I feel loose and stretched and warm and energized, ready to start the day.

Wii Fit Plus comes out, and I check the channels. First is Everybody Votes, followed by the five-day forecast, and then the news. I start up the National and International News in turn, flipping through the slideshows and reading anything interesting. On Mondays, I like to check the Nintendo Channel and see what zany antics they're pulling on Nintendo Week. The dogs usually jump on my lap while I do this.

Then I might have time for a game. I'm becoming fond of the golf game in Wii Sports Resort. The original Wii Sports is still good for a round of tennis. I might check in on Animal Crossing if I'm in the mood for something more low-key or Super Smash Brothers Brawl if I want a good action fix. I've got three versions of Rock Band now too. And after rescuing Samba de Amigo from a bargain bin for five bucks, I've discovered that it's really not as bad as I thought it was.

This summer, it'll be three years since I got my Wii, and I still really enjoy using it. I hope it'll stay around for a long time to come.


Friday, April 23, 2010


Wolf Quest

(This is a review I did for the Eegra "Reader Radness" forum, so that explains the different formatting. I'm moving it here for preservation because Eegra seems to be packing up.)

So I gave the game a play this evening. It's about what you'd expect from a freebie educational title targeted at 9- to 13-year-olds -- low quality, but lots of good intentions.

After putting a wolf together with some sliding bars, you're dropped in the middle of this gigantic forest, and a pop-up window explains that you're looking for a mate. So you wander around a bit and get the hang of the controls and maybe murder some rabbits and elk, and then you realize that there's a compass that'll show you where the other wolf territories are around here.

So then you spend about half an hour running across the vast, empty forest, and maybe you murder some more animals or die of starvation, until finally you get to one of the wolf territories. A friendly pop-up explains how to turn on Piss Stain Vision so that you can find the valuable piss stains that eventually lead you to the single wolf that's standing around in its territory.

Now, murdering animals is a real-time thing where you have to run your wolf up behind an animal and press the space bar to bite its ass until it dies, but wolf interaction is handled with a much more robust and nuanced turn-based mechanism. And this is the neat and educational part, because it'll act out the actual vocal and body language that a wolf would use. So when a rival wolf tells you to piss off, it'll put its tail up and bare its teeth and growl, and when you roll over and expose your vulnerable belly to try and curry favor, it'll walk right up and fucking murder you.

But once you figure out that all you have to do is go on the offensive and never relent, you'll start kicking all the rival wolves' asses and feasting on the succulent elk carcasses they have scattered around. Which is good for your ego, but doesn't get you any closer to finding a mate. However, once you've visited all three of the wolf territories in the game, a new helpful popup window explains that it will finally grant you an appropriately-gendered wolf that you can try to woo, and that's the very next wolf you meet.

Upon meeting your betrothed, the turn-based wolf interaction menu becomes a sort of wolf dating sim, with options like "I like you", "Let's play", and "Let's form a pack", with hearts appearing to indicate your level of success. Once you've successfully wooed your mate, you get to name it, and that's basically the end of the narrative for the first episode. You're free to continue going around murdering other animals if you want, though, with your mate tagging along as an AI sidekick. The computer teamwork is actually pretty promising; I'm interested to see how they'll implement it in later episodes.

I didn't get to play the multiplayer because your game is tied to your username on their message board, and I never got my confirmation e-mail back from them to join, and basically the whole thing just doesn't seem worth it anyway.

The concept of a game that focusses around wolf pack hunting is pretty cool, and you can tell that they're really trying to make a *game* here rather than some sort of phoned-in fundutational pile of shit, but you can also see where the funding and the adherence to realism is holding them back. (They come out and admit in the developer's blog that a real wolf's life is actually pretty boring, and they've been doing what they can to try and jazz it up a bit.)

So what they've come up with is probably not exciting enough for a gamer or sexy enough for a furry, but you do get to make a wolf run around and kill things for a bit, and if that's good enough for Chris Everhart, then that's good enough for me.

Wolves: 8.5/10
Murder: 9.7/10
Education: 3.4/10
Sex: 1.2/10

Final Score: Nabad.



Long Review -- Wario Ware DIY

(This is a review I did for the Eegra "Reader Radness" forum, so that explains the different formatting. I'm moving it here for preservation because Eegra seems to be packing up.)

DONE BY: Nintendo/Intelligent Systems
YEAR: 2010

I love programming. I've been programming since I was four years old and my father got this crappy little Timex Sinclair computer as a door prize at a company picnic or something and I would copy programs out of the instruction manual and see what they would do.

I have tried to make games for every programmable device that I've ever gotten my hands on, and I've gone from "guess the number" games all the way to little menu-driven RPGs on my graphing calculator in high school, and a couple years ago I even made an Atari 2600 game using a language called bBASIC. Sometimes I make something mildly diverting, but mostly I just enjoy the process of programming, where you take an idea and you try to figure out how to make it work. And it's especially fun when you're working with a very limited environment and you manage to work out how to make something especially interesting happen.

And that's the main appeal of Wario Ware DIY. They have this incredibly simple, incredibly limited scripting language, and your objective is to try and make games with it. And it's hard to describe just how much fun it is to work out how you're going to fit an idea into their framework.

For instance, I thought it would be fun to make a five-second version of Defend Your Castle, but I did it with a chess theme. You've got pawns running across the screen trying to attack the king, and you have to tap them to get rid of them. Since you're limited to only 15 moving objects in your game, I thought I could simulate the endless deluge of attackers by making a handful of pawns that instantly respawn after you tap them, and it turned out I could make a decent enough challenge with only three attackers.

The AI is incredibly simple. Every pawn has the same instructions, since you can copy and paste AI in your designs. A pawn starts at a random position on the left side of the screen and moves toward the king. When it's tapped, it jumps to a random position off-screen and moves toward the king again. If it touches the king, it raises the "lose" flag. That's it. All the king does is check the lose flag. If it goes up, it turns into an animated explosion. If the lose flag hasn't gone up by the time the five seconds are up, it raises the win flag.

That's all there is to it, and it turns out to be a pretty satisfying microgame. But the great thing is, even when you're done, you keep getting ideas like, oh, I could add sound effects here, or I could change how they look or add this animation. I've spent hours over the past couple days, and I've made five games in varying states of completion, and I keep wanting to go back and tweak things. It's so much fun.

When you start the game, there's this lengthy, lengthy tutorial about all of the concepts of designing games with the system, and they demonstrate concepts about triggers and actions and flags by taking you through the building of three simple games which you can actually keep in your collection when they're done. And it goes on for a long time, but it's really interesting and fun, and it's even kind of funny because it plays out as a dialogue between Wario and Penny Crygor, and Wario's such an adorable moron throughout.

And when you're done with that, you unlock a "programming dojo", which is kind of like The Incredible Machine. They give you a nearly completed program and tell you what it's supposed to do, and you have to figure out what piece to add to complete it. It's a lot of fun, and it gives you some ideas for how you can sort of "hack" the system to create some unusual effects.

My favorite feature, since I have no musical inclination whatsoever, is that there's a music composer that will write a tune for you if you tell it what sort of mood and tempo you're looking for. And beyond that, you'll unlock records with public domain music and Nintendo music that you can borrow passages from.

But there's two things that Wario Ware DIY does really well that has nothing to do with the game editor. The first is just the presentation. A creativity tool doesn't really need a framing story, but they've given you one anyway. You play a shopkeeper, and your shop sells comics and music and microgames, and every day -- because it keeps time with your DS clock -- you get a new "shipment" in, and you get sales data for all of the merchandise that you have stocked. I don't think it makes any difference to the game in any important way, but it adds a little touch of character and makes you feel like you're really participating in game development for this little fictional world.

And there's a "DIY Forum" where you can read fictional conversations between fictional microgame programmers just as a way to point out things that you might not have figured out on your own, and it's funny because it's such a spot-on parody of GameFAQs and places like that. Here's an example:

Subject: Cartridge label easter egg!

John Sun
Hey, I just noticed that the game cartridge and label colors affect the color of the frame around the game when you play it!

Old. Lock. Ban.
The other thing I really like about the game is that the pre-made games are probably some of the best since the first in the series. Wario Ware has suffered from a lot of problems in the sequels. For one thing, the people who played the original sort of latched on to the whole "Ho ho! Look, it's a game where you pick someone's nose! Isn't that ridiculous!" aspect, and the developers seem to have tried too hard to make their games weird and not hard enough to make them interesting or challenging. For another thing, they seem to have been released as an excuse to demonstrate what could be done with whatever new hardware Nintendo was pimping at the moment.

The games in this set feel a lot more similar to the original. I've just enjoyed them more, especially compared to the other DS version, where some of the games amounted to "blow into the microphone until you win" or "draw circles until you win". I was kind of afraid that the game engine would be too limited to allow much more than "tap here to win" style challenges, but they've really demonstrated the potential for their system here.

It's just a wonderful package overall. It's a fun creativity toy, and it's a fun pack of minigames. This may be my favorite thing to do with a DS since Retro Game Challenge.

FINAL SCORE: Buckets of fun.



Short Reviews -- Art Academy First Semester

(This is a review I did for the Eegra "Reader Radness" forum, so that explains the different formatting. I'm moving it here for preservation because Eegra seems to be packing up.)

DONE BY: Nintendo
YEAR: 2009

Art Academy: First Semester is an electronic paint set for the DSi. That doesn't mean it's Mario Paint/Microsoft Paint/Photoshop/whatever for the DSi -- it is a simulation of traditional canvas painting.

You start by blocking in your image with pencils. (In fact, you're welcome to do your entire subject as a pencil sketch if you prefer.) Then you mix the colors for your palette from a selection of basic colors. And when you paint, you leave decidedly realistic brush marks on the screen. When you're done, you can export it to the DSi's photo gallery, which in turn can be copied to an SD card, and then you can do just about anything with it. You can place any photo you've taken with the DSi on the top screen to use as a reference, and there's an optional grid tool to help you get the shapes of your subject blocked in correctly.

The program offers some guided instructions to help novices understand some of the basic ideas of painting -- laying down foundation colors, finding shapes, understanding how to capture the light and texture of each surface, and so forth. I have some experience with line art, but I've never practiced much in color. I feel a bit more confident about it now that it's taken me through how to paint a lime.

It's a neat little art toy. If the idea of a pocket-sized tablet tickles you, then it's worth the download.




Short Review -- Dragon's Lair

(This is a review I did for the Eegra "Reader Radness" forum, so that explains the different formatting. I'm moving it here for preservation because Eegra seems to be packing up.)

DONE BY: Digital Leisure
IT'S FOR: DSiWare or iPhone
YEAR: 2009

If you've never played a laserdisc game, here's how it works. A cartoon plays. Since the cartoon is all pre-drawn, you don't have complete control over your character, but you can push directions and buttons to indicate what you think the character should do. If you do the right thing at the right time, the cartoon continues. Otherwise, it stops short and shows you how the character dies.

It's a weird way to play a video game, but Dragon's Lair does it better than most examples of the genre, primarily because it tries to look and act more like a video game and less like a movie. Also, it's incredibly well-drawn, with a decidedly dark overtone that goes nicely with a main character who is terribly bumbling and silly. It has a vibe reminiscent of point-and-click adventure games -- particularly in the sense that the solution to some situations is more about trial and error -- but with a twitch-action element. And to some people, like me, this is a lot of fun.

And that's really all you can say about Dragon's Lair; you either love it or you hate it.

The real question is, if you do love it, then are the versions that were recently released for DSiWare and iPhone/iPod Touch any good?

Yeah, they're both good, but for different reasons.

The DSiWare version is better for arcade accuracy. By splitting things up between two screens, they can show you the score on one screen and the game on another, just like in the original arcade cabinet. Additionally, the "Attract Mode" trailer plays on one screen while you're navigating the menus. And finally, when you play the DSiWare version in "Arcade Mode", they've even gone so far as to edit the scenes to make them exactly match the way the original arcade unit worked. This is a ridiculously geeky sort of thing to do, and I've never seen a version of Dragon's Lair do this before -- it skips several seconds of non-gameplay cinema, exactly the way the original hardware did. They still let you play in "Home Mode", which includes the complete footage.

It sounds like a lot of little things, and it is, but part of the appeal of these retro games is how well they can emulate the original experience. The DSiWare version really makes it feel like you're carrying the original hardware in your pocket.

The iPhone version is mostly just better-looking. I mean, the DSiWare version is pretty all right. It uses the Mobi Clip codec, the same one that's used in most DS games for video compression, including the Professor Layton series and Mario Vs. Donkey Kong 2. But if you look closely, you'll see the compression artifacts. The iPhone version is crisp and clear and beautiful. The only real tradeoff is that there are some slight loading times between clips in the iPhone version, but really, Dragon's Lair fans are used to that sort of thing.

The iPhone version also uses a touchscreen controller interface, and you can set an option so that the correct direction blinks when you need to touch it. You know, just in case you need the whole game ruined for you. It's also slightly cheaper; in the US, it's $5 for the iPhone version compared to 800 points for the DSiWare version.

In the end, I prefer the DSiWare version, but either one will work fine if you want a pocket version of Dragon's Lair. Get it for the system you use more.

FINAL SCORE: 320,289



Short Review -- Dragon Quest Wars

(This is a review I did for the Eegra "Reader Radness" forum, so that explains the different formatting. I'm moving it here for preservation because Eegra seems to be packing up.)

DONE BY: Square Intelligent Systems Enix
YEAR: 2009

I like Dragon Quest Wars because it's not a strategy RPG. There's no fifty hour story or hundreds of scripted battles.

It's just a board game. It begins when two people (one of whom might be the game system) decide to start playing, and a couple minutes later, one of them wins and it's over.

It has some of the trappings of a collectible miniatures game in the sense that it's played on a grid, you put together your team from a collection of possible monsters, and they all have their different powers and attack patterns and movement ranges and so on. But the difference is that there's only six kinds of monsters to choose from, and you can have as many as you like of any of them right from the start. It leaves enough room for strategy, because the six pieces have very distinct characteristics, but it also sort of narrows the scope so that you don't have to worry about playing paper-rock-scissors with two hundred possible kinds of units.

The game itself is very quick and simple. You knock out your opponent's entire team, or you get one of your team into the goal zone, or you have the highest score after a certain number of rounds.

What I like best about the game is the simplicity. Most pieces have two hit points and most attacks do one point of damage, and not a single element of the game is decided by chance. It makes situations very easy to read, but nuances like attack ranges and spells to boost offense and defense keep the game from being too tediously straightforward.

You can play the game multiplayer from one system by passing it around, which is always a welcome feature for a portable game. You can play online with random strangers or friend code friends, but I suck at video games, so I don't do that. You can't save a game in progress, but honestly, a game lasts roughly five minutes; it's not going to break your heart to stop prematurely.

I know a lot of people are disappointed that it's not something with a larger scope, but I like it. It's just this tiny, perfect little game, exactly suited for pulling out and fooling around with at lunch. I think it would make a great tabletop board game, and there's really no reason why it couldn't be.




Wii Sports Resort

(This is a review I did for the Eegra "Reader Radness" forum, so that explains the different formatting. I'm moving it here for preservation because Eegra seems to be packing up.)

DONE BY: Wii Nintendo
IT'S FOR: Wii Video Games Console
YEAR: Wii 2009

Wii Sports Resort features twelve different games, one of which is Speed Canoeing, an event where the player paddles a canoe around a course marked by buoys, and the objective is to get as far as possible before time runs out.

Before the event begins, you are invited to acquaint yourself with the controls by paddling around a small pond. You tilt the controller from side to side and make a rowing motion. There's a merry splashing sound, and your craft is propelled forward. It's not a very smooth motion, to be fair, but after a bit you can make it go as straight as you like. So you paddle around the pond for a while to enjoy your newfound skill.

That's when you notice a soft quack and a happy chime, and something small and yellow comes up alongside your canoe. It's a baby duck! You hadn't even seen it -- you were too busy trying to get the canoe to turn left. You row forward a bit more, and it follows, perhaps mistaking your yellow canoe for its mother.

As you're leading your new friend around, you suddenly hear another quack and another happy chime. There's another one! And what's more, a counter has appeared in the lower right hand corner of the screen, and it reads "DUCK X 2", except that it's a picture of a duck, not the word. Was that there before? If it was, you hadn't noticed.

Look! There's a third duck sitting in the water a short distance off! You pull up gently, and sure enough, when the distance is small enough, there's another quack, and the counter reads "DUCK X 3".

How many ducks are there?

You hunt around the pond for a bit, but you aren't watching where you're going and you bump into a wooden post protruding from the water. The ducks aren't pleased with this at all, and they scatter. Well, it's no terrible trouble to pick them up again, but you promise yourself to be a bit more careful this time.

And then -- what's that? There's a much larger duck in the middle of the pond. You approach to see if it'll follow you, but when you get close enough, it smiles and quacks and all the baby ducks that were following you rush up to it and form a line behind. Aha! This must be their real mother! They certainly seem pleased to see her again.

And oh! A new indicator has appeared on the top of the screen. That certainly wasn't there before. It shows a symbol for a mother duck followed by symbols for ten baby ducks. The mother and three of the babies are yellow, and the rest are brown. Those must be for the rest of the missing ducks!

So you paddle around the pond a bit more, leading all of the baby ducks back to their grateful mother. And when the last baby is returned, a fanfare plays, and a message appears to inform you that you have made an achievement. But you hardly need to be told.

Ten minutes have passed, and the proper canoe game hasn't even begun.




Sleep is Death

(So now I've slipped into buying downloadable games with real money. Maybe I was wrong 22 days ago?)

This isn't a review of Sleep is Death because I haven't yet used it for its stated purpose, and I doubt I ever will.

It's a magnificent thing, truly. I completely appreciate what's been done here. Jason Rohrer has taken the idea of the graphical adventure game and replaced the stupid parser with an intelligent human being who understands the English language natively and who can adapt the game world on the fly to meet the needs of the player. Or, if you prefer, it's MS Paint Adventures in real time. This is a terrific sort of idea that really excites me.

But there are some barriers that prevent me from appreciating it as much as I should.

The first problem is that the controller interface is incredibly intimidating. The whole thing has the feel of a tool that a game designer would write for himself to facilitate level design in a game he's working on. It's inscrutable at first glance, and it's often tough to find the thing you want when you want it. And that's forgivable when you're designing an environment, I suppose, but when you're controlling a game for someone, you're given thirty seconds to react to what the player has just tried to do. Every second spent wrestling with the interface is a second wasted.

During a demonstration, Rohrer seems to suggest that this was done intentionally to put the user in a certain frame of mind:

Similarly, the music editor forces you into a minor key, instead of letting you pick your own key, and the UI for editing things is generally rather bleak in appearance (instead of being colorful, pretty, or comforting). So this is a general-purpose tool that I've guided slightly toward creating a certain kind of experience.

Well, congratulations on intentionally making something I don't want to use, I guess.

I can't help comparing it to Wario Ware DIY, which I've been playing with for the last month. In that game, there's a Mario Paint-esque drawing interface where you draw a background and objects. It's incredibly simple; it works exactly the way you would expect a drawing program to work. In Sleep is Death, environments are created by painting tiles onto a grid. And the game comes pre-built with some tiles, and you can make your own tiles in the tile editor, and that's fine, but it makes you think in a different way than something that would just let you paint a background.

And then there's the object editor. Instead of just giving you a simple drawing interface to draw an object, you put together these little 16x16 sprites, and then you use the sprites to assemble your objects. Again, that's fine, but it adds another layer of complexity to something that the user expects to be relatively simple. I went in to try and make my first custom object, and I just felt paralyzed. I had no idea where to begin. It doesn't help that the game defaults to a black background, so if you're used to doing black line art and filling it in in any other drawing program, you're kind of screwed. I tried outlining a head, and I botched it so badly that I just thought "fuck it" and shut it down.

The game comes with some canned rooms and objects that you can play around with immediately, but these were all objects that Rohrer created for his demonstration games that he showed the press, and you can tell by reading the previews. And I can appreciate the thought, but all of the objects feel like they were designed to tell a particular story. I'm almost tempted to clean out the database and start from scratch with my own stuff because I don't like the way he's colored my perception of this game with naked altar boys and blood sprays.

And I can totally appreciate the design choices that he's made. The game is modular, so it can be built up from smaller pieces, and it probably saves memory, and that's all great. The problem is, it just makes the experience difficult to get into. I feel like I'm so stuck in the minutia that maybe I'll never manage to get an environment put together.

And besides all that, I'm not sure if the experience is going to be worth the bother.

You can go to the game's homepage, and it'll link you to all of these glowing previews that talk about how awesome it is to do this storytelling thing in real time with another human being, but the thing is, I've been doing this shit for years. I've been playing MUCKs pretty regularly for almost ten years now, and they offer a very similar sort of idea -- collaborative storytelling in real time. Sure, it's all text-based, but that's an advantage. If you're in the middle of a roleplaying session and you decide you're going to go swimming, you don't have to have a pre-created underwater environment ready; you just tell the player, "Okay, here's where you are now."

For a couple months, I ran a game of Toon for three of my friends online. And with all the insane shit these guys pulled, I doubt Rohrer's system would be sufficient to contain them. All of a sudden, someone would go down a garbage chute, so I'd need an underground waste disposal unit. Then they'd jump into a bottomless chasm, so I'd need an underground catacomb. All sorts of weird creatures and characters would come and go out of nowhere.

So when I approach Sleep is Death, it's as if the game is telling me, "Here's a way to do what you've already been doing, but you need to pre-build everything beforehand with this aggravating interface, and also you can only play with one other person at a time. You get one free copy of the game to give to a friend so that you can play together, but if you want to play with anyone else, they have to buy a copy."

So... yeah. I really think it's a great thing, and I can understand why it appeals to some people, and I'm really, really glad that this sort of thing is being made. I think it's a direction that we should be moving in, but at the same time, I see lots of room for improvement.


Thursday, April 22, 2010


Four Years!

Well, it's been another year of doing this! And honestly, I don't have the interest to do a year-end wrapup thingy!

Thanks as always to everyone who hasn't read and hasn't responded to this blog. Your indifference has helped to maintain an environment where I feel comfortable writing and posting the things that I don't particularly want anyone to read. As we move forward into our fifth year, expect fewer updates and an even more apathetic attitude toward video gaming.

See ya in 2011!


Sunday, April 18, 2010





Tuesday, April 13, 2010


So How's That Going Then?

Yeah, you know, it's all right.

I've already folded on my dubious proclamation -- I've downloaded Manhole for my DSi. I guess I still have a soft spot for Game & Watch, and Manhole is one of my favorites, and besides all that the DSi points were already paid for. But it was still kind of an unjustified purchase; I've played it maybe once or twice and I'm already pretty bored with it. And why should that be surprising when I already own the game in three different formats?

I've been avoiding game news. Partly because it's boring and partly because I don't want a hype machine trying to convince me that I need yet another video game to dump all of my time into. Like any drug, I'm experiencing some withdrawal symptoms. Like a rat in a behavioral study, I yearn to press that button again on the off chance that something worthwhile will come out; I haven't yet found something to fill the hole that "sitting around reading game blogs" used to occupy.

I've continued to read Penny Arcade, but maybe I should stop. It seems like they only ever talk about anything that's interesting to me during the transition from one generation to the next, when information is scarce and sometimes they have no choice but to write a comic and a monologue about something like Wii Sports. Now that we've gone into the entrenchment portion of the generation, they're back into their comfortable groove of typical gamer stuff. Maybe several years from now, they'll discover Wario Ware DIY and hold it up as a strange and wonderful treasure discovered by accident on an expedition to the "other side", and I'll be like, man, I've been doing that shit for years.

(Really, it's so weird whenever Penny Arcade discovers something like Super Mario RPG or Pokemon so many years after the fact. It's like, you guys are fairly famous gamer people, how the hell did you ignore this stuff when it was happening?)

Speaking of Wario Ware DIY, it, along with its Wii Ware companion, was the last game I bought before April 1st, and I love the hell out of it. I've made an average of one game every day, and that doesn't count the many revisions and dead ends I've taken. I've also got a copy of Pokemon HeartGold. It's a remarkable adaptation of my favorite game in the series, but I haven't felt quite the same "pull". Oddly enough, I've been more inclined to play Animal Crossing: Wild World lately. I'm about 160,000 bells away from finishing what might be the last mortgage payment in the game -- and only five years after it came out!

But without future games to play with, I find that my interests are returning to my Game Cube. I have a lot of games that would probably be worth another go through -- Chibi Robo has been in my thoughts a lot.

I could do some more game writing on Electric Dilintia I suppose. I have so many good games that I still haven't written anything about. But we'll see.


Thursday, April 01, 2010


A Bold Statement

April 1st is, perhaps, a bad day to be making any sort of bold statements about personal plans, but let's face it. Nobody reads this blog but me, and I know when I'm lying, so there's no point trying to be deceitful.

I'm not going to buy more video games.

I've said this sort of thing in the past with the understanding that I would eventually go back on it. The exercise was never meant to be a permanent statement of policy so much as an exercise in self-improvement. But right here and right now, I have a strange sort of feeling that it's going to stick.

I'm just not interested in new games. And when I do get interested in them, I regret spending the money and I rarely get a satisfying experience. I don't blame this on game designers -- it's my own fault for playing video games constantly at every opportunity for well over twenty years.

I think the last straw was the announcement of the 3DS just days before the DSi XL was to go on sale in America. I was actually getting all set to succumb to the inevitable and buy the next piece of electronics that Nintendo decided to put out to go along with my every single other thing they've ever put out, but at that moment... well, it gave me pause for thought. Why do I keep buying into the incremental changes? What do I need all of this crap for? When my new games lose their novelty, don't I just end up going back to the same games I bought ten years ago?

There have been so many games that looked interesting in the weeks leading up to their release, or that I've heard good things about from other people, but for one reason or another I decide to put off buying them. Six months later, when I find the game on sale, used, or thrown in a discount bin, I can't even remember why I wanted it in the first place. It's like... I've gone this long without it. Why do I need it now?

So many game series that I've loved in the past have grown and evolved into things that I no longer have any real interest in pursuing. I can appreciate what Nintendo's done with the Touch Generations series on both the DS and Wii, but how much of that do I need? And who has the time or patience necessary to get into these more involved games anymore? I thought Monster Hunter 3 sounded cool, and I even put in a preorder on Amazon, until it occurred to me that I have precious little free time anymore to begin with, so why in the hell would I waste it trying to level up this imaginary warrior fighting imaginary monsters?

I will make an exception for a new Ace Attorney game, but that almost feels like something different. It's more of a video book than a game, and I'm helplessly addicted to the soap opera storyline they've got. I'll allow myself to stay in touch with that.

But everything else? It's really time for me to grow up, take a step back, and realize that there's not a lot going on in this industry that I need to be paying attention to. And in the meantime, there's a lot of other stuff I could be doing. For example, playing games I already own that are in many ways just as good as anything that I'm searching down previews of.

Does this mean the end of Electric Dilintia? I suspect not, but time will tell. Electric Dilintia comes and goes as it's needed. I'm sure it'll be around.


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