Zephyrus of the Anemoi

.the ramblings of a radman.

Tag: Nintendo (page 1 of 2)

Hey! Listen! Wake up, Lonk!

Lonk's Awakening Icon

There is currently a Flappy Bird-esque game on the App Store called The Legend of Zeldo: Lonk’s Awakening DX. No, that is not a typo. This is an actual game someone developed, because of reasons. It’s not terrible, as far as Flappy Bird clones go. It has a unique inventory system where you can collect items as you go which affect the game play (Pelican Boots let you dash ahead a short distance, Irony Boots increase the speed with which your character flies), which almost alleviates the frustration of the core gameplay conceit. Almost.

Lonk's Awakening Gameplay

It’s free, though. And it will likely only exist for a short period of time before the developer receives a cease & desist (even though it is clearly parody and protected, the dev likely isn’t willing to pay a lawyer to prove that), so if you think it might even be slightly interesting, you should pick it up now before it’s gone forever.

No, you’re wrong; Nintendo should NOT exit the hardware business

With Nintendo reporting a loss of $456 million dollars last year, armchair-CEOs have once again begun clamoring for Nintendo to “get out of the hardware business” and start making games for iOS, Android, and PCs. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating:

This is the wrong solution.

Nintendo is not Sega, the last great console-maker to exit the business and focus solely on software (something which has led to rather pronounced decline in the quality of games from their studios, though correlation or causation depends on the data, which remains scant). But, they do need to either create hardware capable of playing the games that “core” gamers want (such as Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, Elder Scrolls, etc.) with all the bells and whistles and fancy lighting and super-pixels or whatever, or else aim for mass-market appeal with devices that cost less monies, increasing the likelihood of families being interested in purchasing them for the home.

The Wii was a smash hit because it was cheaper than the competition and it provided a gameplay experience that was easy-to-learn and encouraged community (not in the online way that Xbox Live does, but in the actual face-to-face way). The Wii U is a step backward from that, thanks to its higher price tag and poorer selection of games. The Wii may not have had all the shooters and hardcore action games that the last-gen systems had, but it got pretty much everything else and massive numbers of other great games that embraced the physical nature of its control system (Boom Blox is a prime example of this).

Nintendo makes amazing games, it’s true, but what allows them to do so is the fact that they control the entire experience, just like Apple does with OS X and the Mac or iOS and the iPhone/iPad. But people don’t buy game systems the same way they buy computers and smartphones, and most casual gamers aren’t compelled to upgrade to the new system when the old one still works fine for everything they used it for (Wii Sports, Netflix, Virtual Console).

But putting their greatest assets (in this case: Mario, Link, Samus, and Kirby) onto other people’s platforms will reduce them to a shell of what they are now. You won’t see amazing games like Super Mario Galaxy on those systems, because Nintendo won’t have the advantage of developing the hardware and software in tandem to create new and unique gaming experiences.

What we want Nintendo to do and what Nintendo needs to do are not the same thing. I’d love to play Zelda on my iPhone, but not at the cost of the most influential gaming house the world has ever known. Instead, I want Nintendo to focus on creating affordable systems and valuable software. Let us buy Virtual Console games on the Wii U and play them on the 3DS (and vice-versa). Provide us the opportunity to purchase games once for all the systems we own (instead of requiring us to buy three copies of one game so that we can play it with our kids). Bring us new, big Mario and Zelda games every few years, but also give us more games like NES Remix that provide incredible gameplay at prices that scream “Value!”

If Nintendo can stop trying to retake the number one spot and instead focus on providing the best games at a price people are willing to pay, they’ll do well for themselves. But to throw all their control away to make a quick buck on iOS and Android is a fool’s errand.

In your future (“you” being the iOS/Android cage-rattlers), customers will clamor over every release of a classic title they loved to play until Nintendo runs out of classic titles. And they will run out of classic titles eventually, because they won’t be making another new title worthy of becoming a classic.

Return to Hyrule: An ardent journey to a familiarly unfamiliar place

Over the winter solstice holiday, I received a Nintendo 3DS XL bundled with The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (thanks to my incredible wife), the latest offering in the Zelda franchise. While I have wanted a 3DS for some time, A Link Between Worlds became available at the perfect intersection of available funds and ultra-desirable game release. I have been a fan of the Zelda series ever since I first laid eyes on the initial game as a child, so I was very excited to play this game. However, I’ve been a little put off by the last two handheld entries into the franchise, simply because I was not as big a fan of the touch controls as I was of the classic controls of the past.

Thankfully, right out of the gate, Nintendo nailed the controls with A Link Between Worlds by basically reusing the same controls of A Link to the Past (which would make sense, since the game is actually a sequel to the Super Nintendo smash hit). But, it wasn’t just the spot-on controls and perfect execution of the 3-D in dungeons that made A Link Between Worlds so fantastic. There are two huge improvements to this game that make it stand out against so many other Zelda entries.

First of all, Nintendo was kind enough to avoid punishing players with sliding block puzzles as they so often have in previous Zelda games. Not once did I enter into a room that forced me to figure out how to slide a series of blocks just to get from one side of the room to the other. That doesn’t mean that I never had to push a block around to solve a puzzle, but I never had to wrack my brain trying to figure out which block to push in which order to prevent it being trapped against a wall or forcing me to exit the room just to reset and try again. I’ve done enough puzzles of that nature to last a lifetime, so I was quite thankful to be able to skip out on that, this time around.

Even more relieving, though, was the complete lack of a Shovel in this particular adventure. Don’t get me wrong, there is something very satisfying about digging up cool treasure in previous Zelda titles, but by eliminating the shovel entirely, I am never tempted to run around digging up every square foot of land in someone’s garden in the hopes of finding something cool. I can instead focus on throwing bombs at walls and dashing headlong into trees to find something cool. Which is something that really only works in video games. I mean, I can take my shovel into the neighbor’s yard and dig it up like crazy any time I want, but throwing a bomb at the cliff wall just outside of town is a surefire way to end up in a dungeon surrounded by angry moblins.

But, even had Nintendo subjected me to such OCD-feeding items as the Shovel and nerve-wracking torture-tests as pushing blocks until I wanted to scream, I still would have ranked this game among the best games I’ve ever played. I can say with absolute certainty that this the best gameplay ever offered by a “classic” Zelda title—in this case, “classic” refers to the top-down camera angle from the earliest Zelda titles (except for Zelda II, which was its own beast, and was awesome for a whole different slew of reasons). Is it the best story? No. That honor is still reserved for Link’s Awakening, which also has the best music, as well. But it’s certainly the most fun.

And on the subject of the story, A Link Between Worlds is no slouch. Using similar techniques to A Link to the Past (psychic messages from a sage and a princess that need your help), Link journeys between light and dark worlds on an epic quest to save the Hyrule from doom. And in a rather clever twist, the dark world on his latest journey is not the same Dark World from A Link to the Past, though it bears a very similar feel. This helps prevent the game from feeling as though it’s just a retread of a familiar game and lets gamers really explore the dichotomous environment to their heart’s content.

One place where A Link Between Worlds feels a little less than perfect is the challenge. Traditionally, Zelda titles have at least a couple boss fights or dungeons that have me pulling out my hair in frustration due to dying repeatedly. While there were definitely some challenging moments, I almost never died. This is actually great for getting younger and less-experienced gamers into the game, but for those of us that have played every Zelda game Nintendo published, it can be a little too easy. There is a Hero mode available after completing the game, but I think it might have been worth having an option to choose a difficulty somewhere between Hero and Normal when first setting out on your quest.

Of course, it may just be that the challenge I’m looking for no longer exists because I am an old hat with filling the shoes of the Legendary Hero and because the game has advanced to a point that some of the challenge I recall has been eliminated due to refinements in the controls and gameplay over the years.

All in all, if you haven’t yet played the game, I urge you to run out and pick it up (or just download it here). If you don’t have a 3DS, Nintendo is actually selling them at a pretty affordable price on their Online Store, if you don’t mind a refurbished system.

I am continually amazed at how much more willing I am to grab my 3DS and take it with me than I have been in the last few years. My iPhone and iPad had nearly eliminated my desire to take a Nintendo handheld with me, but A Link Between Worlds, the Bravely Default demo, and my collection of unfinished DS games have done an excellent job of reminding me of how consistently great Nintendo handhelds are.

Wii U: First Impressions (SPOILER ALERT: It’s a pain in the ass, but fun to play)

The majority of this post was written as part of a survey for Nintendo about my first impressions of the system (some parts were edited or added later). Since writing it, I’ve finally been able to play the device and it’s quite fun. But, I’m still furious about the transition of purchased content from the Wii to the Wii U and will unlikely ever be happy unless Nintendo provides a way to restore lost functionality to particular games and/or allows for the re-transfer of content back to a Wii (highly unlikely). I look forward to seeing new games for the system, but will rarely, if ever, purchase digital content from Nintendo again due to their poor legacy support.

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I have rather mixed feelings about the Wii U. I love the GamePad and am really excited about the potential for new gameplay elements (as I always loved the GameBoy to GameCube connectivity of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures and Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles), but am a little disappointed in a number of execution missteps with a new system and legacy support.

First, having to download an update that takes over two hours just so that you can have full access to all the features of the Wii U when you take it out of the box is ridiculous. If a product isn’t ready, don’t ship it. Forcing someone to essentially download an entirely new software/firmware to their system before they can even begin using all of its features is ludicrous. Especially when that update loses connection repeatedly during the download. Thankfully, it picks up where it leaves off in the download rather than starting over or I would have simply returned the system.

Second, the transfer of content from the original Wii to the Wii U is clunky, slow, and treats original Wii owners like criminals. On top of that, it’s dangerously simple to lose all of your content that you paid money for during the transfer process. Since transferring the content to the SD card removes it from the original Wii and disables it from being used on that Wii entirely, if something happens to the SD card after, or if the Wii U crashes during import, all of your content is not only lost, but completely inaccessible. I was fortunate that, during my import of content, my Wii U only froze up while it was downloading a WiiWare title, which appears to be the final step in transferring content. Thankfully, my purchase history and save data had already been copied and I didn’t lose anything. But that doesn’t change the fact that this is a horrible way to transfer content when companies like Microsoft can simply access your online purchase history tied to a specific account and allow you to specify a new console as yours and begin downloading your games to it. While this does allow the old console to continue playing games that were on it, it still prevents them from being redownloaded if they are deleted, thus ensuring that a person can’t simply purchase a new console and reliably sell their old one with all of their content intact, essentially “pirating” their content (which is, I’m sure, the primary reason why the Wii U’s transfer is so ridiculous).

Further, I’m a longtime Nintendo fan and I’ve always likened Nintendo to my other favorite company, Apple. However, the Wii to Wii U transfer is decidedly un-Apple and worse, it’s anti-consumer. Ignoring the fact that Apple lets you use purchased content on multiple devices for free, Nintendo has made the entire process such a hassle that it is easier for most users to simply repurchase the content they most want on their Wii U. Especially as they can continue to use the original Wii afterward. As it stands now, my Wii is completely unnecessary, since I can’t do anything with it except play Wii and GameCube games. Which means, it will only ever be used to play GameCube games, which is a huge waste of its awesome potential. On top of that, I’m not even sure I want to play any of my WiiWare and Virtual Console games on my Wii U as my only controller options are the Wii Remote and Classic Controller, which limits my gameplay options and restricts me to 4 players rather than 5 for TurboGrafx-16 titles and 8 for some WiiWare titles. This is beyond ridiculous and just highlights how poorly legacy support was implemented. Rather than forcing me to load an entire Wii emulator (or is it virtualized? not that it matters from a usability standpoint), legacy content should have simply been accessible from the Wii U menu and without all this painful jumping through hoops that leaves your original Wii a shell of what it used to be.

I truly hope that Nintendo has learned a valuable lesson from this system launch and recognizes that they are no longer playing in a world where they set the example and the rest of the industry follows. Microsoft is a terribly managed company that makes boneheaded decision after boneheaded decision, yet they have handled their console upgrade/transfer business significantly better than Nintendo has. Apple doesn’t even make consoles, yet they are consistently outselling and outperforming the competition because they know that what is most important is making life easier for their customers and treating them like responsible individuals. I have never pirated content for my iPhone or iPad, despite how easy it is to do so. Nor have I done so for my Xbox, even though it’s only slightly less difficult to transfer content to a new Xbox and sell the old one with a bunch of games still installed. I am not a criminal. Don’t treat me like one.

Third, the very day after installing a several gigabyte update just so I could use the damned thing, a new system update was required before I could play disc-based games. This one was a little over 2 gigabytes in size, so it only took a little over an hour to download and never disconnected during the process. But it didn’t change the fact that the system I purchased was unplayable for 2 straight days because I had to wait for system updates each time I sat down to play it.

I am a longtime, and loyal, Nintendo customer. Unfortunately, due to the current state of affairs for a Wii to Wii U owner, I may not be able to say that for much longer. As it stands now, I highly recommend that anyone purchasing a Wii U leave their Wii content intact so that it remains a useful piece of hardware and simply ignore the Wii Menu channel on the Wii U except to play Wii games. You can always transfer your content in the future if you so desire.

The number of times that Microsoft and Nintendo have lost out on “impulse buys” from me on their respective game stores due to the fact that they use virtual currency is mind-boggling. I’ve probably spent several hundred dollars on the iTunes App Store simply by virtue of being able to hit a button marked “Buy” and having my card get charged. I don’t have to think about it. I don’t have to premeditate. I simply push “Buy”, enter my password, and press Return. There are a number of times that I’ve been interested in picking something up on Xbox Live Arcade and decided against it because I would’ve had to put points into my account first. The act of pulling my card out of my wallet, typing it into the computer, waiting for the points to be added you my account, and then going back to purchase the game acts as an actual barrier to purchase in many situations. Plus, then there are points just wasted and sitting there when I can’t use them all. I’m sure that Microsoft and Nintendo love holding on to my “money” for me, but I would have easily given over much more money if I didn’t have to think about it so much.

I probably spent around $250 on Wii virtual console and WiiWare games during the first year–maybe year and a half–that I had the system, but that was mostly due to the number of free points cards I received as gifts. I currently have around 1800 apps for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad on my computer. Most of them were free when I got them, but I’m sure a couple hundred cost $1, and more than 20 or 30 cost several dollars. Now, of course, Microsoft and Nintendo are terrified to “undervalue” games at $1 (and I understand that), which is one of the reasons I’ve spent as much money on the App Store as I have, but even at $1, pulling my wallet out to add “points” to an imaginary online wallet would still prohibit me from spending as much money on the App Store as I have.

I originally wrote this review back in February of 2008. Not sure where I posted it, as it’s not on any old blog that I can find. Anyway, I was doing some “fall cleaning” on the computer and came across it. I thought it was interesting and chose to post it. I personally love that at the time I wrote it, it was still harder to find a Wii than Bin Laden.

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I have been waiting for a “game” like this my entire life.

I’m not even exaggerating with that statement. I love video games. I’ve devoted a great deal of my free time to this hobby, and will likely continue to do so until I’m old and grey and can’t move my fingers anymore (and with luck, I won’t need to in the future, anyway).

One of the big reasons I love video games is that I get to do things that I don’t normally get to do. Like fly, destroy buildings, slay monsters and demons, and rescue princesses from pirates.

Okay, I do occasionally get to do that last one.

And while I am certainly capable of going SCUBA diving off the coast of Manoa Lai, I realistically can’t afford something like that. Enter “Endless Ocean”, a game that allows you to attempt to capture that experience without all the water, sea sickness, and wet suits.

This game is (like the song that plays over the opening titles of the game, all over the web site, and the trailer) hauntingly beautiful. There isn’t a better way to describe it. From the sun’s light filtering down through the water to sparkle off the coral, sand and marine life, to the exquisite sound and music production that fills your head long after you quit playing.

And, since the game is simple enough that anyone can play, has no violence whatsoever, and is incredibly educational in the field of marine biology, all ages can enjoy it, even if they’re not yet old enough to read.

So go pick this game up, if you have a Wii. Or go play it at a friend’s house. Or just go buy it until you can actually find and/or afford a Wii. It’s worth it. As far as $30 games go, you absolutely cannot go wrong with this game.

Fall came early this year, as we finally got some much-needed rain on Saturday, breaking summer’s back. We were at Woodyard BBQ with our neighbors, one of whom is Lezlie Revelle. She was playing open mic at Woodyard BBQ (which was a lot of fun, and I recommend checking it out) and, in honor of Irish Fest in Kansas City this past weekend, she played several Irish ditties, which really made my day.

After our meal, Autumn was craving chocolate, so we went to Russell Stover’s and then back to the neighbors’ home to start watching Game of Thrones. Dave (neighbor and bestie) and I have read the books, but have wanted to wait to watch the series together with our wives. We weren’t disappointed. The first 15 minutes lived up to my expectations of the book, and throughout the episodes, we were both pleasantly surprised by how faithful it is. The ladies were quite impressed, as well, by the writing, the acting, and even the subject matter.

We ate a (very) late dinner while watching the second episode and listened to the rain pour down upon us. I had just picked up my yearly batch of pumpkin beer and brought over two bottles for everyone to try: O’Fallon’s and Schlafly’s. O’Fallon’s has long-been my favorite beer of all time, but I’d never had Schlafly’s. It’s very strong, both in flavor and alcohol content, but I still prefer O’Fallon’s. Schlafly’s spices completely overpowered the pumpkin, which is (in my opinion) the most important part of the beer.

The next day was one of those perfect fall days that make you want to sit on your porch and watch the world change while reflecting on the year. There’s something about fall that always evokes the most nostalgic part of me. I think it’s the scent in the air of leaves and rain and the feel of a cool breeze that brings it to me. I always think of high school football and carefree days of yesteryear. I spent most of the day playing Super Mario Galaxy with Liam and enjoying the weather. We went out to dinner again with the neighbors to get as much time in before Dave left for work again on Monday. After dinner we watched another three episodes of Game of Thrones, each one more exciting than the last. I’m really looking forward to episode 6, as I’m pretty certain I know what awesomely horrific scene it will contain.

Monday was another lazy day. Stan, the husband of my wife’s co-worker came over to replace the brake line on my car and I finished Super Mario Galaxy, by finally nabbing the 120th Star. Now I can play as Luigi, but I’ll save that for the next time I want to play through the game again. I started up Super Mario Galaxy 2 and can honestly say it is a better game in every way so far. It builds on the original so well, that it’s unbelievable that it was originally envisioned as Super Mario Galaxy 1.5. The music is fantastic. The levels are ingenious and much less repetitive than the first. The only flaw in the game is the story, when compared to the first, but that is easy to overlook, as I care much more about the gameplay—which is phenomenal.

It’ll probably be my game of choice for the next few weeks. Hopefully I can complete it 100%, as well. It should be easier, thanks to Avery being able to help more than hurt when assisting as Player 2.

Tonight, I think I’m going to have another O’Fallon and sit outside for a bit to enjoy the weather. Maybe go for a walk and think about what it was like playing the original Super Mario 3 when I was younger, as the leaves changed outside and the air turned and I got nostalgic for Super Mario 1 & 2, a glass of grape juice in my hand.

Got a chance for a Guy’s Gaming Day this weekend, because my wife is awesome and loves me. Starting shortly after noon, my cousin Andrew, friend Jeff, and I all sat down to play Shadows Over Camelot.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of playing this game before, I highly recommend it. There have been a number of great board games that pit players not against each other, but against the game itself: Warhammer Quest, Lord of the Rings, and The Omega Virus. However, what makes Shadows Over Camelot unique is the potential that one of the players may be a traitor, secretly trying to undermine the various quests that the knights set out to achieve. Worse, once accused, the traitor loses some abilities and gains others, making the timing of his accusation a delicate proposition. Worse, since there may be no traitor at all, mere mistrust of one another can make some quests more difficult to defeat.

The game was exciting. Andrew turned out to be a traitor and Jeff and I barely won the game from him. It was an incredible first-time play. Jeff told me that the gameplay ideas in Shadows Over Camelot had been taken to the next level in the Battlestar Galactica board game. I’m looking forward to picking it up soon.

The second game that we played was Pandemic, a game about a global outbreak of four different diseases and the research team fighting to stop them. The game is brilliant in its design, due to the fact that the Epidemic card can cause all cities that have already been infected get placed back on the top of the deck to become infected again. This can lead to outbreaks that spread diseases quickly. Worse, the 9th outbreak ends the game, as does the depletion of the deck. This keeps the game a desperate race to keep the diseases under control long enough to find the cures. It gets hectic as the number of outbreaks climb and the cards in the deck dwindle.

My brother-in-law, David, joined us for this game. We played two rounds. The first one was a Beginner-level game (which places four Epidemic cards in the deck) and we were slaughtered. Absolutely devestated. All four Epidemic cards came up in the first half of the deck. Gonoherpesyphillaids wiped out all of Asia and North America in minutes. It was an excellent learning experience and made the second round much easier.

In the second round, we got extremely lucky. We raised the difficulty by adding a fifth Epidemic card, but they were so well spaced that we were able to prevent outbreaks. With only two cards left in the deck, Jeff cured the final disease and we all breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Later that evening, we played several rounds of Munchkin: Impossible (one of the 7 billion variations of the card game Munchkin, this one with a spy theme) sans Jeff. We were up until 3 am playing and had a blast.

Jeff and Andrew have been known to play lots of board games, so I knew they’d have a good time. But David is generally uneasy to try the various games we like to play. The fact that he enjoyed them as much as he did made me feel optimistic that he might play with us again in the future.

If you have any interest in checking out these games for yourself, I’ve linked to them on Amazon above (where available), but you can find much more info at BoardGameGeek, as well.

Inspired by a recent list on episode 73 of Retroforce GO!, I decided to make a quick list of games that I’m waiting for on Virtual Console. Some are games that most everyone has heard of, but some are relatively unknown to a great many people, and that is a shame. So, without further ado, I present you with my Virtual Console wish list.

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Bionic Commando – This one is a no-brainer. You play as a soldier trying to take down Master-D and the Badds (Hitler and the Nazis in the Japanese release). Your character cannot jump, but instead has a bionic arm that lets him swing, climb, even smack around bad guys. Plus, the levels don’t have a specific order to be completed in. While some levels contain items that must be found before progressing, the order isn’t set in stone.

After its recent re-imagining into Bionic Commando: Rearmed, the Wii is the only system that can’t play Bionic Commando. While it’d be nice for Nintendo to get their “storage solution” into our hands in time for Capcom to feel that releasing Rearmed as a WiiWare title is a worthy proposal. However, in the meantime, the least that Capcom could do is release the original title on the Virtual Console. Easily one of the most amazing video games ever released for the original NES.

Blaster Master – No NES game had a more detailed world than this side-scrolling-birds-eye action-platformer. Similar in style to the Metroid series as areas of the game must be backtracked to access hidden items, new areas, and additional levels. What makes this game so much fun is you drive around a tank that can receive a variety of upgrades as the game progresses. But, in order to defeat the bosses that litter the world, you must exit your tank and use your very vulnerable driver to venture deeper into the underbelly of the world to face them. Plus, the story is about rescuing your frog from the clutches of the mutants that live under your hometown. How awesome is that?

Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers – Capcom made a number of great games using Disney’s licenses and this is one of the most popular. Two-player cooperative, smooth gameplay mechanics, and incredible level design (making the world around the characters huge was done here first and never better on the NES). Unfortunately, it seems that Disney doesn’t know how to capitalize on the greatness that is the Virtual Console, as none of their titles have hit the service, yet.

Clash at Demonhead – This is my personal favorite from this list. I assume that I got this game as a gift from my parents for some holiday or another. It’s possible that they even just picked it up at random one day because they love me. Anyway, the important thing is that the game is incredible. You play as Bang, a special operative on a mission to stop some terrorists from detonating a doomsday device that will destroy the world. Like Bionic Commando, the game has a fair amount of non-linearity to it. You start at the bottom of the mountain and have to make choices about which paths to take to reach the top. Not every path is required to complete the game, but many contain important items or objectives. This is likely to show up in a future edition of Classic Gaming Sporadically, so I’ll give more info to you then.

Double Dragon II – While the Interwebs is filled with people fawning all over the original Double Dragon, I was always disappointed in the lack of two-player coop in the NES release. Double Dragon II, on the other hand, did not make such an oversight and was one of the most entertaining gameplay experiences of my childhood. My brother and I spent countless hours working together to reach the final boss and get our collective asses kicked again and again. But it was always fun, even when it felt like work.

Duck Tales – Yet another Capcom game, and another Disney title at that. In this one, Scrooge McDuck’s fortune has been stolen and with the help of his nephews and friends, he’s on a quest to get it back. With some of the most unique gameplay elements of any licensed game, as well as incredible music and level design, this game should be at the top of many gamers’ wish lists. Perhaps one day, Capcom and Disney can get together with Nintendo and make those wishes come true.

The Goonies IIThe Goonies was incredible and Konami was quick to cash in with a game loosely based on the movie. The game was pretty great, but the sequel was one of the most amazing platformers of all time. You play as Mikey on a quest to rescue the rest of his friends. They’ve been captured by the Fratelli family, freshly escaped from prison. Armed with a yo-yo and your wits, you set out to find them. The game world is one of the most complex I’ve ever seen, with doors everywhere: some which take you into to rooms full of items, secrets, and hidden pathways; others that lead directly to alternate areas of the game. It’s easy to get lost, but that’s part of the appeal. The world feels huge for an NES game, and indeed for many games made today. With a music soundtrack inspired by The Goonies theme from the movie and spot-on gameplay mechanics, I can’t wait to see this hit the Virtual Console.

I got the new Animal Crossing for the Wii this Christmas. I had played the GameCube release before, and found it to be very enjoyable. Unfortunately, the methods by which letters were sent to friends that had their own copy of the game required extremely long and complex codes to be shared that were essentially encrypted messages. This was a neat feature, but one that prevented me from being very social with it. The other frustrating feature was that everything closed down at 8 or 9 pm, real time. Since I was not usually getting home from work until then, I was missing out on nearly everything that was available to do in the evening.

So, shortly after my time in the city of “Room 12” began, I had moved on. I ultimately traded the game on Goozex, knowing that the Wii version would make up for the shortcomings of the GameCube version. Now, having got the Wii version, I can confirm that I was correct. Citizens of the town stay out later, Tom Nook’s shop stays open later, and with the city available to visit from the early stages of the game, there’s always something to go do.

But the really big feature of the game is being able to visit friends’ towns. My wife was awesome this Christmas, and even though the Wii Speak/Animal Crossing bundle was sold out everywhere, she managed to find a deal on Amazon to get them both separately for the same price as the bundle. And I am so glad that she did.

Last night, I visited my friend Andrea’s town. She and her husband have been playing together for the last several days and (thanks to the fact that they got a 12,000 Bell gift from a reindeer on Christmas Eve), have  already upgraded their house and spent enough money with Tom Nook that he has opened a Kum’N’Go (okay, Nook’N’Go, but seriously, the parallel must be drawn). I visited her town for about an hour or so and spoke to her via Wii Speak the entire time. She didn’t have the microphone herself, but she plugged in her USB keyboard and away we went. She was so impressed with the way the Wii Speak worked that she decided she’s going to get one herself. And, never once did she have trouble understanding me.

Today I turned on my game to check my mail and an hour later I finally put down the controller so that my wife could create her character. The best part of all this is that when my son visits his mother, my wife and I will be able to play with him (assuming his mother doesn’t freak out on him for it).

If anyone is interested in coming to town to visit, my friend code is listed in the About Me / Contact page, but I’ll list it again here for convenience:

Friend Code: 3867-2149-5247
Town Name: Taurith

Come by anytime!

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