Animal Crossing: Day 5

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That Racoons are at it again. Little Timmy and Tommy are hard pressed for cash. You see, in order to grow their business, they need some of your bells. Or more specifically, they need resources to help grow their empire. Resources such as:

  • 30 Wood
  • 30 Softwood
  • 30 Hardwood
  • 30 Iron Nuggets

The wood we can get, no problem. It’s just a matter of shaking some trees over a day or two. The Iron Nuggets though, we’ll be hitting the rocks for a few days or more!

Nothing like rock hitting… hitting the rocks… and all that jazz.

Animal Crossing: Day 4

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With winter around the corner, I’m starting to stock up. I’ve been purchasing things such as:

  • A snuggly blanket
  • A mug, for all my coffee needs.
  • A bottom warmer. No need to freeze when your ruling the kingdom.

And best of all:

  • An axe

Now hear me out. I am a pretty hairy dude. The axe is perfect for some late night trimming, if you know what I mean. I can trim with the axe… and I can even cut down some trees if I want to.

Whack a tree three times, you’ll find your pockets full of useful stuff like:

  • Wood
  • Softwood
  • Hardwood

Whack a tree four times, and your tears will start to flow. Goodbye tree.

Animal Crossing – Day 3

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A day in the life of an Animal Crossing Star is something like this:

  • Running Around
  • Hitting Trees 3 Times, Collecting Whatever Falls
  • Gathering Fruit
  • Running Around
  • Finding Fossils
  • Fishing On The Beach
  • And Might I Add, Running Around

While it may not be easy, living the life of a superstar, I do it. I do it because I spent $55 on this game.

Animal Crossing – Day 2

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I didn’t sleep much last night. Hard to sleep on an island full of strangers.

Tom Nook says that today is the day. Today is the day that we are now on synced time. This means that everything that we do is done in real time. Real time? Of course everything is done in real time! I am not sure Nook is up to task on running the island. All in good time though.

Also, I met Bozo (a sports loving nut) and Ms. Put-in-Pockets (a grifter). I’m sure I’ll be seeing more of them, so I’ll put on my best game face.

Animal Crossing – Day 1

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I’m here, on the island. Running around, gathering sticks, pulling weeds, living like a partially deranged madman. Sure, I guess I could go home. But home would entail mucking it up with a raccoon in order to get my money back and procure transport. Having now seen the bill just to get here, I can’t imagine the small fortune required to get home. Guess I’ll just stick out… for now.

On My Radar – Next Stop Nowhere

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Night School Studio, developer of Oxenfree, has a new game up on Apple Arcade called Next Stop Nowhere. I can’t wait to download/try it out.

Next Stop Nowhere is a road trip adventure story set in a colorful, cutthroat vision of outer space. Play as Beckett, a simple courier living a simple life until a chance encounter with former bounty hunter Serra throws him into an adventure he never expected. And might not survive.

The unlikely allies fly across a dusty, deadly galaxy in a race to save Serra’s son Eddy–dodging gangsters, bounty hunters, and the dangers of deep space along the way. Beckett is in over his head. How he survives–the choices he makes, the relationships he forges, the person he becomes–is up to you.

A new story from the award-winning studio that brought you Oxenfree and Afterparty.

Features:

* An intelligent conversation system with branching dialogue that changes your relationships and the story based on every decision

* A spaceship that comes fully equipped with his own personality

* A completely unique version of space (the outer reaches of a dilapidated galaxy) filled with colorful skies, treacherous asteroids and a several orbits to explore

* A thrilling and thoughtful narrative brought to life by a vibrant cast of voice actors

* Cross-device play through Apple Arcade

July 2020 in Review

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I feel like I’ve been all over the map this month. July 2020 has been all about:

  • Turning 39 year old / celebrating my birthday
  • Playing all the games
  • Continuing to read Brandon Sanderson’s Oathbringer (70%)
  • As part of my reading through the Bible in a year plan, I read/finished: 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Ecclesiastes, Titus, Philemon, and Jude
  • And a sinus infection that won’t go away

Tabitha and Wyatt bought me Paper Mario: The Origami King for my birthday. So most of my gaming time has been spent working my way through an origami world with Mario. I’m loving the tight writing and unexpected moments of pure Nintendo delight.

Snacks are good

Wyatt and I have been playing Injustice: Gods Among Us a bunch. Nothing like Superman kicking the snot out of Superman.

With some of my birthday money, I picked up:

  • Battlefield 1
  • Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom
  • Doom (2016)

I should note that Paper Mario has been consuming my gaming time, so I haven’t given much time to the above games. Soon though.

Throw Throw Burrito - MeowCow

As a family, we have played a bunch of Throw Throw Burrito (think of the classic game Spoons but with a burrito war/fighting element where you chuck a burrito at fellow players. This game is super fun!

Throw Throw Burrito - Winners Badge

We also had a chance to sit down and play Disney Villainous, which I also got for my birthday. I like how you have your own character board/objective to complete while you also get to mess with fellow villains. Tab beat Wyatt and I with the Queen of Hearts (Wyatt played Captain Hook; I played Prince John). I can’t wait to play again.

Disney Villainous - Prince John
Disney Villainous - Prince John Card Back

My biggest project of all, this month, has been replacing all of the interior doors in the house. After this past weekend, I’m down to 4 doors needing to be replaced.

Door Replacement Project

What have you been playing lately?

Let me know in the comments below.

Press Start – Paper Mario: The Origami King

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Tab and Wyatt bought me Paper Mario: The Origami King for my birthday. I have enjoyed what I have played so far.

Send snacks.
Not creepy at all.
Hit EVERYTHING.
I would like to thank everyone.
New friends.
It's amnesia.
SOLO.
Most challenging part of the game so far.
I did it!
This made me laugh.
Moving on in Autumn Mountain.

From Across the Net – “Focused on What Our Kids Can Do!”

Painted Waters Concept
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Amy and Ryan Green, creators of That Dragon Cancer, announced The Playability Initiative yesterday:

Today, we are announcing the Playability Initiative at Games for Change. It’s an initiative that has our whole heart because it allows us to focus on the abilities of children like Joel, who may not be able to leap and run and dance and sing, but we know that everything they can do is a precious gift to the people who love them. We are designing a video game for “the one.” The one others may not see. The one that may get brushed aside so we can serve the majority. The one who the shepherd might leave the 99 for. And what if this one can only move a single finger, ever so slightly? Can we imbue meaning and joy and connection to that child’s ability? We can. We just have to be willing to consider them, to see value in their abilities, and believe they are precious enough to warrant our efforts. Because of Joel, we see all of these “ones,” and we don’t think, “what a shame,” we think, “look at them go!”

You can learn more about designing a video for “the one” here

Perspective – Black Simulator

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Choose the right clothes.

Don’t make eye contact.

Seriously, don’t make eye contact! It freaks folks out.

All you’ve got to do is run a couple of errands.

You can do this, right?

My first time playing developer Justin Fox’s Black Simulator, I got distracted by the TV in the in-game living room. The option to play “dat Tekken” made me curious. So I chose the option to play… which ended up taking the rest of my day. Game Over.

My second run through the game, I decided to go take some bread to my grandma. In the process, I made some white people mad by looking in their direction (which is a no-no, apparently). I then got mugged right outside my grandma’s house, which left me in my underwear. Grandma wouldn’t talk to me until I put some clothes on. So, I made the decision to run back to my house and get some clothes. Somewhere along that route, the game glitched–I became invisible!–and I had to restart.

What am I playing?

A few weeks ago, Justin Fox (whom I’ve interviewed before) contacted me about writing on Black Simulator. He gave me a code and asked for my perspective. The word perspective is key in discussing Black Simulator. As the perspective in the game, though viewed through the lens of satire, is radically different than my own day-to-day perspective as a white male.

The Steam description for Black Simulator reads:

A SATIRICAL MINI GAME where you spend the day as a black man (er “Blackmenn” if you prefer) on your day off. You must run 3 errands without getting shot or arrested by the Police! Depending on various choices your experience will differ either slightly or drastically with multiple playthroughs.

Avoid the dangers of the PoPo Meter – Police suspicions increases with certain choices of attire, and behavior!

I.G.N.A.N.T Meter, the rage is REAL – Attempt to avoid responses to rude people that may lead to someone calling the cops on you!

T.O.M Meter – Attempt to maintain street cred even though it can be SERIOUSLY unhealthy to do so!

Multiple ways to end your day off! With peace, or bullets.

Blackness awaits!

Survive a day, in the life of a black man, without getting shot or arrested by the police. Sounds easy, right? After my initial experience with the game, I’m not so sure when an errand to grandma’s house ends with me getting jumped.

Am I allowed to say that this game leaves me puzzled? That the overall experience feels foreign?

Maybe that is the point?

I need to play more.

You can find Black Simulator here, for $3, on Steam.

Review: Mutazione

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I have trouble writing about games I actually like. My excuse–yes, it is an excuse–is not wanting to spoil the experience by too much thought. Mutazione is one of those games for me, a game where I’m like, “Yeah, that was good.”

Mutazione‘s Steam page describes developers Die Gute Fabrik’s game as:

A mutant soap opera where small-town gossip meets the supernatural. Explore the Mutazione community as Kai as she cares for her ailing grandfather. Discover magical gardens, new friends & old secrets. They can survive an apocalyptic meteor strike, but can they survive their small-town drama?

Mutazione is a chill adventure whose story ruminates on loss, love, and finding a way forward from past tragedy.

I enjoyed running around the island, listening to the subtle wind chimed soundtrack.

I loved seeing Kai’s relationship with her grandfather blossom over time.

Sure there are some soap opera-like elements that I did not like, or at least, I did not feel rang true for me. But beyond those drama bits, the story’s supernatural and mysterious threads propelled me forward–much like Oxenfree did… but this is totally different than Oxenfree–.

Mutazione captures those slow summer days. Days spent with family, friends, and magical gardens? More so days spent:

  • Collecting seeds / gardening
  • Enjoying conversations, with friends, that last late into the night

Mutazione is a game about healing; a game about moving on from the past. Moving forward with new hopes, dreams, and most importantly, new friends.

5/5 – I loved my experience with Mutazione via Apple Arcade.

Title: Mutazione
Developer: Die Gute Fabrik
Platform: PlayStation 4, Windows, Linux, macOS
Reviewed On: iPad / Apple Arcade
MSRP: $19.99

Review by Bryan Hall

The Concert
Up in the trees.
Mutazione - Boat Trip
Floating
Mutazione - Meteor
Secrets
Mutazione - Saying Goodbye

Press Start – Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice For All

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This week, I picked up the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy on the Nintendo Switch. Tab and I love this courtroom drama series filled with over the top characters and entertaining word play. We decided to start with the second game in the trilogy, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice For All, as Tabitha had already completed the first game, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (Nintendo DS), long ago.

Last night, we completed Episode 1: The Lost Turnabout.

Phoenix Wright himself.
Phoenix Wright, doing his thing.
The witness.
Just a typical courtroom.
The Prosecutor.
The Judge.
There are worse crimes than murder...

Note how the witness reacts when accused. Nothing abnormal to report here.

This first episode turned out to be a sad story of someone being killed just because of their uniform. Spoilers. 🙂

Video Game Mechanics That Need to Go – Quick Time Events

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Rushing into a bunker, I found myself surprised by a soldier wielding a knife. I quickly think, “Gotta press the square button just right to defend myself.”

Oh no, I failed!

Quick time events, like the one from Call of Duty: WWII above, need to go. There has to be a better way to create player tension than mashing a button/performing a swipe of the joystick perfectly.

Press Start – Call of Duty: WWII

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Call of Duty: World War II opens against the backdrop of the D-Day invasion.

As the Higgins boat ramp drops into the water, your fellow soldiers are mowed down where they stand. Blood and bullets are flying everywhere! We’ve all seen this moment in history play out in such movies as Saving Private Ryan and even video games such as Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. For some reason though, Call of Duty: WWII makes this moment in time different. There is a human angle present, in a Call of Duty game, that I haven’t felt in a long time.

Advancing up the beach, I died over and over again. Somewhere between 10-20 times, I was killed by German bullets. The game kept telling me to crouch, which I did, but I failed to realize that the game wanted me on my belly to avoid enemy fire. Once I figured out that I could run and then hit the deck, I was good to go. But in all of my dying, I got thinking about the soldiers who didn’t make it that day.

By the end of my part in the D-Day assault, my character is told that he did a good job. He survived. And then the camera pans down to the blood on his hands.

My only complaint with Call of Duty: WWII so far is that I am finding it hard to tell my squad mates a part. Underneath helmets, characters unintentionally become “Random White Dude #1”, “Random White Dude #2 with Glasses”, and so on. I am hoping that as I continue to play, that I’ll be able to tell the guys a part. Onward and forward!

Gender, Politics, and the Media We Consume

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Voltron: Legendary Defender

Wyatt and I loved watching Netflix’s Voltron: Legendary Defender. Who doesn’t like a little space magic mixed with sword-carrying robots? In the midst of Voltron’s fight against an evil galactic empire, the show reveals that one of the characters is gay. This sudden character relationship fact hadn’t been hinted at for over six seasons. Suddenly Season 7 premieres and Volton’s leader, Shiro, is in a relationship with another man named Adam (shown via flashback). The show never mentions Shiro’s relationship again until the series finale, when Shiro and Adam kiss in the closing credits.

Voltron: Legendary Defender is an amazing show that disappointed me by injecting gender politics into something aimed at children.

Last year, I powered through Sayonara Wild Hearts on Apple Arcade. Sayonara Wild Hearts is a music-based action game (see video above) where your protagonist fights against past loves/relationships. The game’s finale has you kissing former flames instead of killing them. Wyatt happened to be sitting next to me as the kissing started:

W: “Are you playing as a boy?”

Me: “Nope.”

W: “So did two girls just kiss?”

Me: “Umm, maybe…. yeah.”

Life went on, and I didn’t make too big of a deal about that scene. I had read/heard online that Sayonara Wild Heart’s story was open to interpretation but why the sudden gender moment? All my love for Wild Hearts died as I felt as if the fourth wall had been broken by gender politics once again.

Mutazione

The other night, I was playing Mutazione on Apple Arcade. During one of the in-game conversations, the protagonist admits to another character that she likes a fellow female classmate of hers. The two of them exchange notes to one another via their lockers. This isn’t a game ending revelation to me, but I got thinking about what the developers worldview is. Nothing sinister… but definitely foreign from my own worldview.

I told Wyatt recently that the Bible is clear on homosexuality (it’s a solid no). But that does not mean we have to treat others poorly nor use others relationship preferences as an excuse not to love them.

Hollywood and even game developers continue to increase LGBTQ representation in the media we consume. We, as Christians, need to continue to be a voice in the Internet wilderness. Proclaiming that God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, so that none shall perish but have everlasting life.

Press Start: Mutazione

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I started playing Mutazione, via Apple Arcade, over the weekend. So far, I’m enjoying the chill adventure game vibes mixed with a mysterious story. I can’t wait to see how this one wraps up.

From Across the Net – “Final Fantasy XV, Joy, and the Pandemic”

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Final Fantasy XV is one of the only Final Fantasy games I’ve ever beaten. I loved this bro-trip so much! Reading this piece on Final Fantasy XV, Prompto, and joy makes me miss spending time with these guys.

One of the ways that Prompto expresses his joy is through photography. He snaps pics of Noctis comically falling down, goofy faces of the crew, and moments he and his friends are the happiest together. Right before confronting the final boss, knowing that there’s a good chance that none of them may survive, Noctis asks to look at these photos one last time and takes one with him. I like to think that he needed that photo to get him through the roughest bit.  We don’t often realize how valuable joy is until we’re in the darkest of times, but that’s when it shines brightest; joy reminds us what we’re fighting for.

You can read more here

Quick Review – Pikuniku

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Pikuniku could be one of the best games I’ve played in a really long time. There is something about:

  • The movement mechanics
  • The goofy yet dark story
  • And the brevity of the overall experience that speaks to me

Wyatt enjoyed it too!

If you are looking for a solid distraction with heart, look no further than Pikuniku.

5/5 – Pikuniku is a solid distraction with heart.

Title: Pikuniku
Developer: Sectordub
Platform: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Windows, Linux, Mac
Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch
MSRP: $12.99

Review by Bryan Hall