Friday, February 20, 2015

Nintendo Freemium and Pokemon Shuffle

Nintendo has joined the ranks of freemium game publishers, kinda. Nintendo dropped the free to download game on the eShop on Feb 18 with hopes of increasing their micro transactions (I suspect). As a any good Nintendo fan would, I downloaded it without question and launched it hoping for a clone of the N64 Pokemon Puzzle League. I was quickly disappointed that it did not resemble one of my favorite N64 games, but I was pleased by its cutesy aesthetic and the fact that they did not over stress the desire for your millions of $1 transactions. The second thing I noticed is that this game is incredibly easy early on. I've played through 30-ish stages and have messed up on two of them. This would sound like a good thing for a freemium game that limits lives, but since every level costs a life, you run through your five in no time at all. The puzzle challenges are straightforward enough, you line up matching Pokemon to knock out an opponent, who you then try to capture. Captured pokemon become yours to use in future puzzles. Simple enough.

It's not a great game, it's a little disappointing that Nintendo is going the freemium route, but it's free entertainment, so I'll play it some. That last sentence is in my adult voice. I have money to buy real games and I don't always need to go with the cheapest option. If I switch to the voice I had 12 years ago, this game is a great value for all kids who have a the console but can't afford games very often. I was always lucky enough to have game consoles, but often times, I had to scrap to get games. I would play the Gamestop system as well as I could and at 13 I started torrenting DS games onto a rom cart. A free game I could play several times a day featuring Pokemon would have made me very happy, so I am sure  Pokemon Shuffle has made some kids happy.

Perhaps we should look at freemium games as a sort of video game redistribution system. Those who can afford micro transactions ensure that everyone gets this game for free.It's not a perfect system, it doesn't lead to amazing games, but in this instance, I' not gonna complain about it.

Update: Past level 30 starts getting mildly challenging and more interesting. Also, the timed expert challenges are tediously fun. The pokemon you pick play a bigger effect when you get to the tougher challenges.

Pay $0.99 to get another chance at reading this post! 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Board Game Review: Smallworld (2009)

What do you get when over a dozen fantasy races want to inhabit the same land? A lot of conquest and a pretty fun board game published by Days of Wonder (Ticket to Ride, Memoir '44). I played this game for the first time this past Friday, and enjoyed it enough that I picked it up for myself the next day. I've played it about five times now with different numbers of players and I hope you find this review/overview informative.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Nerd Pumpkin Carving (Photos)

With Halloween coming up, and some great October weather yesterday was a good day to carve some pumpkins. Erin and I searched online for some stencils we liked, I went with Gengar and she chose Lumpy Space Princess. We're not especially good carvers, but they did turn out pretty well. Enjoy the photos and here are the links to the stencils we used.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Deus Ex Nintendo: Smash Bros. for the Wii U Hype

It is uncommon for me to yell "Holy shit!" multiple times during a promotional video, but today's Super Smash Bros. Wii U 50 Facts Extravaganza video was pretty ridiculous. I encourage anybody who likes Nintendo or Smash Bros. to watch the whole thing, it will make you buy a Wii U and reserve the game (or so Nintendo hopes). Instead of recapping all of the facts shown, I will touch on what some of these announcements meant to me as a Smash and Nintendo enthusiast.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Into the Unknown: Watching Avatar for the First Time

It's 2:00 PM on a Thursday and I have just finished all current episodes of Avatar: The Legend of Korra. Over the past two weeks I have watched every episode of the series and it's predecessor, The Last Airbender. Although Nickelodeon began the Avatar series when I was 13, a primo age for cartoon watching, I only watched a few episodes before abandoning it. Nine years later, I was faced with a few days between my last finals of college and a sudden urge to marathon the series. I watched the three seasons of The Last Airbender in three days, and in the following week and a half I watched the two seasons of Korra, season three is starting later this year.

To put it succinctly, I really liked the series and I regret not watching it earlier. It really is a pretty great cartoon, especially for one that remains so kid friendly in its content. The world constructed around the series is both easy to grasp but deeper than what is shown and it leaves me wanting more details, which I always appreciate. Characters are pretty well sorted into their archetypes, but I was regularly impressed when someone stepped out of the single dimension. Nobody really falls under one trope, excluding the Fire Lord but every kid's show needs a villain, and I was always happy to see some legitimate discernment from most of the characters. The show doesn't have masterful writing, but when compared to most other contemporary kid's shows, Avatar takes the writing cake.

The first series left me with very few actual complaints. There were a few story loose ends but my understanding is that some of these are brought up in the comics that followed The Last Airbender. Certain episodes were noticeably filler, and unlike the engrossing non-story episodes of shows like Adventure Time, I wasn't really interested in the mini plots. Avatar's strength in the first series really seems to come from its continuity and call backs of items that felt unimportant at the time. I was always happy when a character or event from an unexpected earlier episode would have major consequences on future happenings it made watching the series all at once a benefit.

Moving to Korra, the lack of overarching continuity is what really seems to be holding the series back. Korra has many of the great traits, good characters and an engrossing world, of The Last Airbender, but with no end goal, there is no good purpose to really build up to. Each season does the building well, but there is no connectivity between them. This may change with the next season but that's just speculation.

In short, my soiree with Avatar is over for the time being and I guess I should be happy that I was hooked after so much had happened. If you are reluctant as I was, give the show a try, the first season takes a little while to get especially interesting, but the finale is worth it. I may look into reading the comics, but I will probably have to wait until Korra's new season to appropriately geek out on Avatar.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Some pre-E3 screenshots of Hyrule Warriors

With E3 coming up, my inner nintendo lover is about to explode with anticipation. Nintendo's E3 lineup isn't publicly known, but there are some educated guesses that can be made about what they will showcase. Of the many possible choices, I can say that Hyrule Warriors will probably be there, as it was announced back in December and is slated to come out some time this year. Hyrule Warriors will take the characters, settings, and enemies of The Legend of Zelda series and present them through a Dynasty Warriors, horde battling, game. It looks quite fun and will hopefully be a game to help pull the Wii U up a little, along with other upcoming titles.

The Japanese website for Hyrule Warriors released a set of screenshots recently and they show some pretty cool things. Link is shown beating up hordes of bokoblins and other baddies but a few new aspects of the game are also revealed. Impa, Zelda's bodyguard/handmaiden (depending on the game), will be a playable character and the game looks like it will have an original story with its own new bosses (those weirdos in the helmets).

I look forward to seeing what else is released about Hyrule Warriors at E3 (June 10-12), and hope that  it's as fun as it looks.

Check out the slideshow by GameXplain for the new photos


The Post-Commencement Re-Commencement?

It has been some time since I last wrote on this now 2 year old project. There are many reasons leading up to this, but I will credit it to being busy, senior year funk, and abandoning most of my comic reading. I have no current monthly subscriptions, and I don't know when I will take that back up. I still love comics, but it is hard to write about something you aren't doing very much of. I have now graduated from Hendrix, and am temporarily filling the nerd stereotype of living in my parents basement while I look for permanent, and moderately well paying, employment.

Going forward, I plan to keep this blog up and may make it more of a personal experience blog. Since its beginning I kept trying to make this blog about more current and news items, but that is pretty difficult without any other people or extraordinary time to commit to following all of my interests. I will now write about things I do, shortly after I do them, whether or not they are recent. If I read a 10 year old book, I'll write my thoughts on it. I think this will lead to more posts, more interesting posts, and a happier me.

Thanks for reading


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Remaining Sane With Netflix's Documentary Collection

Winter Break, while much appreciated for being the stress free time between semesters, can be rather dull. With little to do after the holidays and a flight that doesn't leave until the 19th I find myself looking for entertaining, and preferably productive, ways to pass the time. I have been reading, playing my recently acquired Wii U, and watching plenty of Netflix. While none of these are especially productive in their own right I have been trying to shift my Netflix binging from TV shows to more informative films. I have found that Netflix has a pretty good online selection of recent documentaries. They have plenty of poorly made docs to offset the quality ones, but with a bit of browsing one can find a plethora of interesting films on a variety of topics. A good documentary can be both entertaining and enlightening during a couple weeks of mental decline and relaxation
. Here's a list of what I have watched recently on Netflix and what I plan on watching soon. I haven't watched everything listed over break, but I would recommend any of them.

This Film is Not Yet Rated
Reel Injun
Please Vote for me
Indie Game
A Band Called Death
Miss Representation
The Interrupters
Hot Coffee
Forks Over Knives
The People vs George Lucas
The Black Power Mixtape
Sing Your Song

To Watch:
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
The Other F Word
Dear Zachary
The Central Park 5
The House I Live In
Man on Wire
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
Burma VJ
An Unreasonable Man
Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap
Blank City
and many others eventually