Monday, September 28, 2015

Thing of Interest!: Armada by Ernest Cline Complete!

I finished Ernest Cline's Armada last week. Here are some quick thoughts:

  • I really enjoyed Cline's first novel, Ready Player One. I liked Armada but found it to be a little bit of a sophomore slump.
  • The concept, video games+space+conspiracy, is pretty nifty and not too similar to other stories with a similar concept like The Last Starfighter.
  • The pacing was a little off putting. There was a lengthy exposition, and there wasn't much in the way of resolution after a succinct climax. There were some big revelations in the last 10 pages and not too much in the way of actually discussing it.
  • Unending references doesn't make for the wittiest dialogue, and I think they could have used some more subtlety.
  • Based on the ending, I wouldn't be surprised if Cline writes a sequel, but I think Ready Player One has a better world for exploring in  sequels.
  • I hope the eventual Ready Player One movie is good.
  • Review over, 3/5 stars.

Critically yours,

-Peter

On a Nerd to Know Basis: Anxiety and Completing Games

I have a long held problem with completing video games. It stems from what may seem like an odd source, my own anxieties. While games are generally considered to be a pastime that is about enjoyment and relaxation, I have always found certain aspects to be major sources of stress in my life. I remember being terrified that the sharks in Banjo Kazooie were going to get me. The sin spawn battles in Final Fantasy X made my heart race faster than any nine year old's should. Fighting Master Hand in any Super Smash Bros. can give me an ulcer. And, even in Mario Kart, if I am in front of the pack at the last leg of the race, I am doing a hail Mary, hoping I don't get hit with a shell.

Stress and emotion are part of the fun in most games. Enjoyment is an emotion, the happiness of beating a challenge is incredible,  and I don't want games that lack those feelings. However, for my entire life, to this day, certain mundane challenges have a very strong effect on me. That effect has prevented me from completing numerous games that I ha
ve wanted to finish and it stops me from trying certain games I would probably like.

In an attempt to break down what sets me off, I thought back to popular games that I was familiar with, but didn't play through. A common theme is a 3D environment that is typically some kind of adventure. In my childhood it was games like Banjo Kazooie, and in recent times it's games like the Arkham Asylum Series and Bioshock. These games give little in the way of safe spaces in game that give my video game brain a break to recuperate from the last thing I just faced. I will often avoid games that look like they'll have this effect on me, and on the occasion that I begin one of these games, I routinely find myself dropping out early and never trying it again.

In more open world 3D games, like Skyrim or Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, I have fewer problems with getting stressed out. I have more control over what I do in the game. I can backtrack to easier spots and complete everything in an area I  am comfortable with before moving on. While I play them for long chunks of time, I can stop at any small task without this push forward by the game. These games have acted as a bit of a gateway to me playing through more intimidating looking games, as I have inched my way into more stressful situations.

2D platformers and things of that nature have never given me any issues. The action seems so distant that it doesn't seem to trigger any real emotion from me other than fun and challenge. Additionally, turn based games have worked out pretty well. While I got stuck in FFX, I never had problems with the early Final Fantasy games, Pokemon, or Civilization. Any anxiety I feel seems to stem from a realistic-ish environment with problems that must be faced head on.

While certain moments in games will still stress me out beyond comfortable levels, I have gotten better and have enjoyed playing through some older games I couldn't handle when I was younger. I don't think I would ever enjoy a survival/horror game, but if I ever do, I'll be ecstatic, and probably pretty scared.

White Knucklingly yours,

-Peter

Friday, September 25, 2015

Thing of Interest!: Plague of Shadows Complete!

I completed the Plague of Shadows DLC last night. Here are some quick thoughts on the pseudo-sequel to Yacht Club Game's first game.

It's a really cool take on the world of Shovel Knight. It takes place at the same time as Shovel Knight's journey to defeat the Order Of No Quarter and the Sorceress. Plague Knight has ulterior motives and in many ways turns against the order while sticking to the story of Shovel Knight.

The platforming in this adventure is a very different take on the game. Plague Knight, when used effectively can jump through large areas using jumps, explosions and a couple extra tricks he has. Additionally, combat is much more customizable with multiple effects to choose from, once purchased. The downside to that gameplay is learning to jump in and out of the pause menu, but it is a small bump in the long run.

The overworld is identical to the previous adventure, but interacting with certain places is vastly different since you are this loathed little weirdo who likes bombs. Finding armor, shops, etc. is all different.

Overall, this was a great expansion, especially for the $0 price tag. It reminds me of the second quest idea from The Legend of Zelda where players were treated to extra adventure content if they input a certain character name. Considering the very retro feel of Shovel Knight this callback is not a surprise.

Check out Plague of Shadows on your copy of Shovel Knight or go get it! It's a good value.

Plague-ingly Yours
-Peter

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Video Game History Editorial: Is Kingdom Hearts Good?

Short answer: It's pretty good.

Long Answer: It is a interesting concept with fairly playable gameplay and a story so convoluted that after multiple hours of research, I am not entirely sure who is good, bad, and what anybody's intentions are. Now, there are plenty of wonderful games that have a similar situation. Are the ghosts really that bad in Pac-Man? Why must these brothers smash each other? But, a game with a very involved RPG style plot should hopefully be a little coherent. I have played a couple of KH games, read wiki articles, and watched three youtube videos with minimum 45 minute length about the story. I am lost. There are to many X names, nobodies make no sense and i'm not even sure what the situation is going into the much awaited KH3. However I still like the game series overall. The battles are a little chaotic at times. The way to improve your character changes some between games and doesn't always make the most sense, but I have fun when I play them and I like the weird JRPG+Disney idea. It may be my favorite way to consume Disney schtick.

My real problem with KH stems from how much I will put up with before I decide I don't like a game. I like the concept of Kingdom Hearts, I like the battles for the most part, and I like the idea of a weird overarching plot connecting Disney movies and Japanese video games. But, the lack of a coherent plot, awful side features, and really shitty movement I find myself questioning when I draw the line on a game or games. If KH games were something else, I may put it down and consider it crap forever, but I can' bring myself to hate on the KH series. I probably am this way with so many other games too. It's created a bit of an existential crisis for me. What if all the games I like have major flaws but they caught my interest enough to ignore the problems. Perhaps most games are like that and it just comes down to preference.

I choose to end the thought here before all games are ruined for me, by me. None of this matters. The end.

Incoherently yours,
-Peter

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Semi-Creative Thought: Mario Maker 3DS

Surely I can't be the first to think this would be cool. Since the release of Super Mario Maker on the the eleventh of September, there have been over 1 million levels created, surely this could be done on the go. I think the 3DS would be a happy home for a version of the sandbox create your own Mario game.

But, what would be the point, the Wii U has everything you want?

Not quite. If you were looking for a full line up of Mario history, ignoring his many jaunts on handheld consoles would be a sorry mistake. While these may not compare in popularity to games like Super Mario Bros. 3, Games like Super Mario Land and its sequel SML: 6 Golden Coins are important to Mario-dom and pretty fun if not a little weird.

Who knows about these games? that sounds like a dumb idea that wouldn't sell.

Maybe not, but how many 10 year olds are familiar with the old Mario games enough to get a kick out of making those levels. A lot more now that Super Mario Maker is out.

Still sounds far fetched.

Fair enough, but what about this. a 3DS game that allows you to work on levels on the go? even if it didn't have everything, having the main stuff and a couple of the generations would allow people to put stuff together on the go, upload it for the 3DS version, or transfer it over to the Wii U where you can finish them up an upload them for Wii U. You could even share the older generations between the two, if that's possible. Either way, I want to be able to Mario-make on the go, as unlikely as it is that Nintendo would do something like this.

Don't stay too attached to that Wii U/3DS, there are patents out for the new system so they are just pushing games to that.

If those designs closely resemble a final product for the NX, I will eat a (medium-sized) raw onion and post the video. I think people like to jump the gun on this type of speculation because console sneak peaks are the only spoilers generally liked by anyone. It sounds like NX will drop in 2016, but until Nintendo officially shows it off, I wouldn't trust the speculation. Even when they show it off it'll probably change some before we actually get to go buy it.

You just wanted the ant enemies from SML: 6 Golden Coins didn't you?

Pretty much, I think they're cute.


Handheldidly yours,
-Peter

Monday, September 21, 2015

On A Nerd To Know Basis: Dungeons and Dragons

I started a new campaign of D&D this Saturday. I am the DM, there is no module, it's all from my head and the decisions of the players. The players are my lovely girlfriend, and several of her friends from seminary where she is getting her masters. It was a fun beginner session. The players are all newish to D&D and I have limited experience as a DM. I haven't played the fifth edition as much as I would have liked, but we all had a good time and I look forward to our next session. Thus, I wanted to take this occasion to post about my short, but meaningful relationship with D&D.

I first played D&D during my sophomore year at Hendrix College, spring of 2012. I wish I had played it earlier in my life as I think it would have been good for me in high school. I've always been interested in nerdy things, but in childhood and adolescence it can be hard to learn how to embrace that. I took the defensive route, placing myself in the middle, putting down certain activities as dumb, despite how fun they looked. D&D was one of these activities and I had no context for my distaste other than the handful of nerd stereotypes I saw on TV.

This view on tabletop RPGs led to some dumb situations down the road. When I contacted my freshmen roommate for college we had a brief Skype chat to introduce ourselves. I described myself as fairly nerdy but not "Too Nerdy" my justification being that I didn't play D&D or anything like that. My roommate, who went on to become one of my best friends chuckled and didn't reveal at that time that he played D&D fairly regularly. When I got settled in at college, I found that many of my friends had either played before or were very interested in trying it out. By fall of sophomore year, my friends had a campaign going and once week for a few hours I found that my closest friends were having fun with an activity that I had avoided for the most juvenile reason.

During Spring semester I was able to finagle my way into the campaign, it took a little convince-begging since the group was already pretty large, but they let me in. I had no prior experience with tabletop games, we were playing 3.5E, and the DM basically had to hand-hold me through all of the character creation and game mechanics. I was in, and I was obnoxious. After repressing my desire to play something like this, I got a little overeager and ended up making a character who everyone hated because of his personality (Read: I tried to be too funny). I got better though and during junior year I switched up characters and made one that fit a bit better and I became less abrasive as a player.

D&D helped me come to terms with a lot of my misgivings about being a nerd. I felt more relaxed when identifying with my hobbies, and it helped me realize that nerd archetypes are silly. I could play myself as a half-orc pirate, think that it's a little silly, then not care and have a good time. I kept playing with the same group for the rest of college, and I miss our Sunday night sessions all the time. I think I have a lot more D&D in me, and whether or not I'm playing with those folks, I owe them a lot.

Gratefully yours,
-Peter

Friday, September 18, 2015

Critique The Week: Friday, September 18, 2015

This week:
  • A complete week with "Mario Maker"!
  • The announcement of a new president of Nintendo (Tatsumi Kimishima).
  • "Destiny: The Taken King" came out.
  • The release of "Plague of Shadows" a new free DLC for "Shovel Knight".

But no matter your thoughts on those happenings, all this shit is still going on:
  • The refugee crisis continues in Europe and the middle east.
  • Ahmed Mohamed, a 14 year-old, was arrested for making a clock and bringing it to school. 
  • The GOP had another debate sparking this type of response:
    • No but for real, explaining Ansem, Organization XIII, and the concept of Nobodies provides greater narrative clarity than this debate.— Satchell Drakes (@SatchellDrakes) September 17, 2015
  • Global uncertainties led the federal reserve to keep interest rates incredibly low, where they have been for about 7 years now.
  • Flash-floods and wildfires hit different parts of the American West.
  • and many more!
On a personal level, here's what happened with me:

  • I replayed the story mode of "Tony Hawk's American Wasteland", no horrible regrets there.
  • I struggled with my own design abilities when confronted with Mario Maker.
  • I started playing both Super "Mario Land 2" and "Wario Land II".
  • I downloaded and started "Plague of Shadows", the "Shovel Knight" DLC.
  • I didn't purchase any of the new amiibo, not that I had the chance.
  • I posed my little squid in many tacky Instagram photos, I regret nothing
  • I got my wonderful girlfriend to start playing "Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon"

Final review, the week stinks! But hey, fall shows are starting up soon. so there's that.

Womp wompingly yours,

-Peter

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Thing of Interest!: Shovel Knight free DLC Drops Today

The Plague of Shadows Adventure DLC is out! The story puts you in the role of Plague Knight, one of the bosses from the original Shovel Knight adventure. This DLC is both free and a whole new story to play in the Shovel Knight world. I'm stoked to download it as Shovel Knight is easily one of my favorite games from the past couple of years and I have been waiting for a good excuse to revisit it. Check the trailer below. Download it if you own Shovel Knight, or go buy it now for $15 because it is even better now.






Shovelingly yours,
-Peter

Video Game History Editorial: Wario, Villain or Asshole

Look at his dumb face.
I made a perler of Wario giving a thumbs up last week. I chose this sprite from Wario Land II, a favorite gameboy game from my childhood and the first game I played that had Wario in it. In WL2 Wario's castle is burgled by some pirates and he goes on a quest to kick their collective butts and reclaim his treasure. He's getting old fashioned video game vengeance. He's the good guy, a crass, dickish good guy. This brings me to the problem I have with Wario. He fits very poorly into the Mario good-bad dichotomy. He is essentially a VINO, Villain In Name Only. He isn't even much of an anti-hero, he's just unlikeable. Most of his modern game appearances are party games and WarioWare. I decided to go through his game history to prove the point that Wario is just an asshole.

Before going game by game, let's briefly discuss Wario's appearance. He's just a chubby elf-like Mario. If he were portrayed in a live-action film, I would suggest Luis Guzman to play him. He's villainous, but generally likable, not frightening. Wario is no boss like Bowser, Ganon, Mother Brain, or even Donkey Kong, he's just a fat guy.

On to the games! (I had to cherry pick and group some since Wario has been in a number of titles.)

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins (GB): Wario started out as the actual boss! He takes over Mario's castle and makes Mario go through some of the more unusual levels on a pretty good gameboy title. In the final boss battle, Mario has to beat Wario 3 times while he's shifts powers. But, in classic Mario fashion, Mario only has to jump on Wario's head three times in each form to beat him. When defeated, Wario runs off like a chump after throwing his shoe at Mario.
Villain Rating: 7
Anti-hero: 0
Asshole: 10

Wario's Woods: Wario is the villain in a puzzle game, which is the most important character role ever. He takes over some woods and gets beaten by Toad. If you can be defeated by Toad, you don't deserve a bad guy membership card.
Villain Rating: 5
Anti-hero: 0
Asshole: 10

Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3: Wario goes looking for treasure after getting his butt kicked by Mario in SML2. He fights some pirates to steal their gold and gets a castle from a genie in the end. A tale of greed, definitely a more anti-hero role for Wario
Villain Rating: 2 (He's basically just stealing)
Anti-hero: 8
Asshole: 6 (is stealing from pirates that bad?)

Wario Land II: Wario gets his gold stolen from the previously mentioned pirates. He fights them to get it back. Doing odd side quests such as chicken saving.
Villain Rating: 0
Anti-hero: 5
Asshole: 5

Wario Land 3: Wario goes looking for treasure. Releases a demon clown, and defeats a demon clown.
Villain Rating: 0
Anti-hero: 6
Asshole: 7

Wario Land 4: Wario goes looking for treasure in a pyramid. He gets trapped in a pyramid. Fights an ancient spirit and frees another.
Villain Rating: 0
Anti-hero: 4
Asshole: 6

Mario Kart: No story, no villain. He doesn't even get the blue shell more than others. Perhaps Mario is just keeping his enemies close?
Villain Rating: 0
Anti-hero: 0
Asshole: (Depends on who is playing)

Mario Sports: Watch out, Wario's gonna ruin the golf! Oh, never mind he just wants to hang on the golf course, at the tennis court, or on the baseball diamond.
Villain Rating: 0
Anti-hero: 0
Asshole: 0

Mario Party: Who doesn't get invited to these parties? A lot of very nice Toads and other friendly Mario characters. Somehow, Wario finds his way onto the guest list. He's probably a gatecrasher. What. A. Dick.
Villain Rating: 7
Anti-hero: 0
Asshole: 10

Wario World:  An evil gem awakens in Wario's treasure hoard. Turning his money, you guessed it, into monsters.
Villain Rating: 0
Anti-hero: 0
Asshole: 5 (He's just always a dick)

Super Smash Bros.: In 'Brawl' Wario makes his debut in the "Subspace Emissary" as a villainous character collecting collecting trophies of characters while seemingly ignoring actual orders from the evil peeps. He joins the good guys in the end. His smash character is dressed like the WarioWare version and uses such classy moves as farting on his opponents and riding a chopper motorcycle.
Villain Rating: 6
Anti-hero: 0
Asshole: 10

DDR: Mario Mix: Oh no! you have to out-dance Wario on a ferris wheel. What will you do? Like Wario's Woods, who takes this kind of boss seriously when they can be defeated by stepping on floor mat.
Villain Rating: 3
Anti-hero: 0
Asshole: 5

WarioWare: Probably some of the better known games where Wario is the lead. Wario is a opportunistic programmer who makes mini games to earn a quick buck.
Villain Rating: 0
Anti-hero: 0
Asshole: 6

Wario Land: Shake It!: Wario's goes to great lengths to acquire gold coins from a strange world hidden in a globe. He just keeps getting sucked in places after looking for money. No wonder nobody wants to hang out with him.
Villain Rating: 0
Anti-hero: 6
Asshole: 9

As my highly objective and not-random numbers show, Wario is just an asshole in villain's clothing. He is rarely used as an actual antagonist and any time he has his own game, it's about getting screwed over in the pursuit of treasure. He's no hero, he's no villain, he's an unlikable cock.

Greedily yours,
-Peter

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Semi-Creative Thought: My Mind On Mario Maker

Power button. Quick start menu. Mario Maker. The disc is already in. Tap the little blonde Mii. Title screen.

Make. Reset default level. What do I want to make? Fuck. I should have come up with something ahead of time. What's the schtick? Should I have a schtick? why can't I just make a good realistic level. Let's make some maze type pathways. Shit, I forgot to pick a generation. SMB3.  What about wall jumps? SMBU. But the colors in World are really cool, but the spinny-jump and kicking enemies is weird. Ok, I'm sticking with World. Can I shake the generations? No.

What theme. Ground is classic but might seem to beginner when I upload it. I never liked the underground colors. Maybe other people do. Water can go die. I don't have the chops to do a good ghost house. That shit has to have layers. Airship always looks nice. Ugh, why is the camera moving? Can I shake that away? What can I shake? Let's shake everything! Ah yeah, Wiggler is piiiiiiiissed!

Okay the maze is filled with angry Wigglers. Is that fun? I'll make this a Bowser castle. It's like an ant hill from Hell. Wigglers aren't ants, but they don't have the Six Golden Coins enemies. People will get that right? I'll give it a clever title. Maybe I should just be blunt with the name. Bowser's Ant Hill. The Wiggler Tunnel.

Are sound effects tacky? Can I shake them? Yes! I like the noises, but the added screen effects can be too distracting. Use sparingly and seemingly at random. What if they jump over the square? Make a wall! Ok, what kind of surprises should be in this level. Hidden blocks with 1ups for the level combers. Should I give power ups? Is that too easy? They can have some mushrooms.

Ok, this looks alright lets play it. I made an impossible jump. Edit. Upload. Did I get through that too quickly. Pause. Edit. Upload. That took me 3 tries and I made it. Is this too hard? Upload. Share code on twitter.

Why hasn't anyone played yet? If I play it does it count? Apparently not. What's on top with stars. Don't press anything. Does that even count as a level? Will that ever get topped or will people keep seeing it there and give it more stars? Someone played my level! No star, they didn't complete it. It's too hard. Fuck.

Why don't I have sub-levels yet? I do!

Anxiously yours,
-Peter

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Thing of Interest!: Places To Find Decent Mario Maker Levels

I currently suck at designing levels, so instead off posting my own crap, I thought I'd share some places on the internet trying to spread the good examples of crowdsourced level design.

Nintendo Life: nintendolife.com has a well put together page to share, rank and all that good stuff.
Link: http://www.nintendolife.com/super-mario-maker

Mario Maker Levels Instagram: Hasn't posted too many yet, but a nice little accout that has put up some levels I found very fun.
Link: https://instagram.com/mariomakerlevels/

/r/MarioMaker: Of course there is a reddit sub, and it will probably feature all kinds of interesting stuff in the game, blah blah blah Reddit.
Link: https://www.reddit.com/r/MarioMaker/


Linkingly yours,
-Peter

Friday, September 11, 2015

Quick Thoughts: Mario Maker

I just picked up Mario Maker this morning and I've been playing around with it for the past couple of hours with girlfriend/roommate. It definitely lives up to the hype of being fun and simple to use. Putting a level together takes little time/effort and can be whatever you want it to be. Playing other people's stages is simple if not a little unorganized, but since each level has a ID code, it should be pretty easy to share levels with people you know.

While designing a level is easy, designing a good level is quite difficult. I have 0 experience making any kind of video game level for others so this will be a bumpy road. Additionally, you only start with very basic tools to create the levels. Other items are unlocked after a certain amount of play. We've gotten some of these items but will probably need to do a lot more before we have everything we want.

The Amiibo skins are really cool looking, but are a little wonky in game since they transform your appearance, but not your size acting as a psuedo-mushroom.

Many of the levels currently put out by the community are a little too gimmicky, but they can be fun in a NES Remix meets WarioWare kind of way. Some "hard" courses are actually just poorly made.

The lady in the manual menu is named Mary O. and she is my new crush.

This game is really cool and I look forward to seeing the community develop around it.

Here are the three novice levels we designed.

  • 9EBB-0000-0016-D009
  • 2114-0000-0016-792C
  • E92B-0000-0016-080F


Mario Makingly yours,

-Peter

Thing of Interest!: Damn, Pokemon Go Is Inspiring

Nintendo is pushing Pokemon on mobile well ahead of any apps coming from the DeNA partnership, and who can blame them when they can create that cool of an ad for Pokemon Go. Seriously, the last time I got the chills from Pokemon was when I first watched Pokemon the Movie in theaters when I was eight. This ad destroyed my emotions and I am really looking forward to playing Pokemon Go in 2016.

Did I mention how great this ad was? It's just filled with people stoked to play Pokemon and find new challengers out in the world, it's a poke-nerd dream come true!

Go seems to be the best win win in the mobile vs Nintendo situation. Instead of porting the classic games to smart phones, Go allows Pokemon/Nintendo to put out something fairly original with a strong Pokemon catch, battle, trade backbone, who doesn't like that? They're even throwing in that little poke-bit thing, which I will wear with pride.

It's hard to not see this as a great move for Nintendo/Pokemon. With critics saying Nintendo is doomed, a big original app may be just the thing to diversify games and shut up some nay sayers.



Pokéngly yours,

-Peter

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Thing of Interest!: Centipede's Programmer

Centipede has been one of my favorite arcade games since I first encountered a cabinet in the Musée Mécanique in San Francisco in 2013. It's an addictively fun game and It blends easy playability with moderate difficulty. It's easily one of my better arcade scores, though I'm far from competitive. I came across this video on Facebook a few days ago and was happy to learn some of the background to how this game was created. It's so common to gloss over the contributions of women in all fields, so I am glad I have been informed about this amazing woman. Without we wouldn't have this arcade classic that remains incredibly fun. It's a short video, give it a watch, learn a little video game history.


Bug-Killingly yours,

-Peter

Monday, September 7, 2015

Thing of Interest!: Splatoon Fan Comic

I came across this nifty little Splatoon comic yesterday and I was feeling too lazy to actually write something so I'll just pass this along. Here are the first couple of pages, check the creator's page for more. I've been on a Splatoon kick for a couple of days and finally breached that A- zone on ranked.
Here's the creator's various pages:
Deviant Art: http://tamarinfrog.deviantart.com/
Tumblr: http://searching-for-bananaflies.tumblr.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TamarinFrog



Squiddily yours,
-Peter


Sunday, September 6, 2015

Things To Avoid: Hating On Japanese Splatoon Players

I came across this short post by Nintendolife.com on Friday. It's title "Some Western Splatoon Players Would Prefer Not To Compete With Japan" implies that there is some animosity between North American and Japanese players (probably the two largest Splatoon markets). Where this animosity has been posted in quantifiable terms, I am not sure, but it is not that far of a stretch to say that Americans consider Asian nations (mainly Japan and Korea) to have very skilled gamers. The addition in this case is that the post states that there are complaints of a lag effect in Japan's favor. I will not comment on any possible lag benefit as I have yet to experience any regular lag that I can attribute to giving Japanese players an advantage against me. I am occasionally killed by a lagging opponent but these have been few and far between and I cannot say they have affected my ranking or individual matches. I would prefer to use this jumping off point to discuss some observations I have about Western players with regards to Eastern players.

Growing up during the advent of online gaming has given me some interesting perspective. While I remember a time when multiplayer on a console exclusively meant splitting your CRT TV into 4 hard to see squares, by 5th grade I was looking for free to play PC/Browser MMO games like GunZ, Runescape, and anything else I could play without giving credit card info. I played these games with my friends and GunZ in particular had a reputation among us as a fairly difficult game due to the number of Korean players. While there were many skilled Korean players I created this stereotype of the all-powerful East Asian Gamer who is beyond any ability I may ever achieve. This was a stereotype I held for a long time and over all, like all stereotypes, is a bad one to have. It's detrimental to create those kind of biases in your mind and may cause a faux-pas or full on insult. Yet, this stereotype seems to be pretty common in North America. On a more personal level, it's detrimental to put those kinds of limits on yourself as a player. There are plenty of Japanese Splatoon players that are very good, but I have yet to encounter one I consider to be beyond reproach in the B+ to A- rankings.

Splitting Splatoon servers would be bad for the overall online playability and I hope that this particular topic of commentary remains on blogs and does not sway any actual game management. Play against the best, get better, learn to beat them.
Don't use the Slosher.

Splattingly your,
-Peter

Thursday, September 3, 2015

On a Nerd to Know Basis: Piracy

After writing a post about Amiiqo last week I realized that I wanted to discuss my own history with video game piracy. I do not endorse piracy, but for a while in my teen years I sailed the seas of the internet plundering what I liked.

I started using LimeWire when I was 12. I primarily used it for finding Nintendo 64 roms to play on my computer. In the grand scheme of piracy this was pretty mild. Nintendo had not been selling the N64 for some time so if I went out to buy games for my N64 I would only be giving money to Gamestop. I am not too worried about giving money to a re-seller like Gamestop, they seem to be doing alright. Really, I don't think finding roms of older systems causes any major problems in the video game market. So long as the systems are long out of production and games aren't being published it only affects those trying to re-sell old games/systems. It keeps prices for old systems/games reasonable by giving a free option for people who just care about playing and not owning the old games.

A few years after my N64 rom heyday I was told about a product that would drastically increase my video game piracy. One of my dad's co-workers told me about Nintendo DS karts and how they allow for DS roms to be played on the DS handheld. I was intrigued and since I was a 15 year old with no job, the idea of free video games was enough to convince me to purchase a kart. I ordered a CycloDS Evolution and a sizable micro SD card to go with it.

Here's the general idea of DS karts. It is designed like a DS game cartridge with a slot to hold a SD card. When inserted in the DS it disguises itself as some other DS game so that it can launch when selected from the menu. After launching it, it pretty much looks like a big menu with all the game files you load on to the SD card from your computer. You select which game file to load and then you're playing your illegally emulated game!

I loaded up my kart with dozens of games right away. I dowloaded roms from sites that all seemed a little less than legal. For a teenager with a DS and little money, having a kart was pretty great. It allowed me to play games with no financial risk of a game being bad which was pretty handy. However, and now we are getting to the moral of the story, I found that when I had so many games to choose from that I never got really into any particular games. I think I work better with a game when I can't just leave it when it briefly loses my interest. I need to push myself through some of a game and being able to jump to something else without paying for it isn't good for me.

To force conclusion, I no longer seek any way to pirate games. I have more money now than when I was a teen and I like to support games I like by actually purchasing them. I like completing games because it gives me more bang for my buck and it allows me to build a collection of games I can display and browse in the physical space. I am not one to judge those who pirate games or amiibo, or anything, but I think giving it up has been good for me overall.

Personal Historically Yours,
-Peter