Dragon Quests and Man Colds

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Sunday morning, I announced to my Sunday school class that I felt a man cold coming on. I asked for everyone to sign up to bring meals for me. Tabitha wasn’t in the room at the time (she was checking kids in), so I also made them promise not to say anything to her. Sadly, no one took me up on my dire request for sustenance.

By Sunday evening, I was running a fever. Ended up taking Monday off as a sick day. I slept a chunk of the day.

Yesterday, I visited a clinic. Found out that I have both a sore throat (which I didn’t know) and a sinus infection. So now I’m on antibiotics and out of it at work. Seriously, I just went to CVS to pick up a birthday card for a co-worker. When I got back to work, I wondered how I ever drove to CVS (felt that out of it).

Sat down last night and had a chance to play some more of Dragon Quest XI. I wasn’t so sure about my decision to pick up the game last weekend. The GameStop employee wouldn’t stop gushing over the new Spider-Man game. Even going as far as to say it made him cry at least 3 times, and he doesn’t normally cry. I told him I was going to Redbox Spider-Man and instead introduce my son to a non-Final Fantasy JRPG.

There is a cadence to Dragon Quest XI. A rhythm to the overall pacing and storyline. I wasn’t sure, at first, if I liked how slow the game felt. But the more time I have put into Dragon Quest XI (sitting at about 3 1/2 hours so far), the more I’ve come to appreciate what the game is.

Be a man…. We must be swift as the coursing river.

Last night, I was making my way through a wooded area when I came across a dog. The dog woofed at me and then I kept going until I came to a bridge that was destroyed. Needing to find a way forward, I backtracked to where the dog was and noticed that he wanted me to follow him. So I followed the dog up a path. It was then that I found some sort of shimmering ball that I touched. Suddenly, I saw a memory of a woodcutter upset that the bridge he had built had been destroyed. Turns out a monster had destroyed the bridge and had then turned the woodcutter into a dog. Things are not always as they seem, right? I then pursued the monster, battled him, and returned the woodcutter back to his human form. He then rebuilt the bridge, and I was on my way.

Dragon Quest XI, so far, has told stories that are not original but that are executed in clever ways. The woodcutter/dog story caught me by surprise. It was a small quest story that showed a lot of thought, especially for what is supposed to be an 80 hour game.

At 3 and 1/2 hours, I have picked up one party member so far (Erick). I’m looking forward to the adventure that is it come and to enjoying the journey along the way.

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Sonic Rip-off

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Wyatt and I went to GameStop and traded in a bunch of his 3DS games for credit. He claims he is finally done with Pokémon until the Switch version comes out in November. Wyatt then picked up Sonic Forces with his newly acquired funds. Being the good dad, I had read several reviews on the game. I knew that Sonic Forces wasn’t supposed to be all that great. However, my knowledge and preferences paled in the light of a little boy who had credits burning in his pocket. We exited the store with Sonic Forces for the Switch.

He played for a chunk of Saturday afternoon.

He then had a friend over later on in the week. Wyatt’s friend told him that he was close to the end of the game. Surely not, I thought. He just got the game. There is no way he is almost finished.

A quick Google search proved Wyatt’s friend correct. Sonic Forces is a 4-5 hour game at best. $40 for 4-5 hours worth of gameplay. I know we could get into a debate on a game’s value versus time, but I don’t want to go there. But I do want to note that in addition to checking a game’s content, one might also want to check a game’s length.

Sonic Forces = $40 new (no used copies)

GameStop Trade-In Value = $22

Maybe, in the end, the game being short is a good thing. Less time for Wyatt to hog the Switch. More time for him to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. Now if only the weather would cooperate and stop raining. Do you hear me, Texas? I’m tired of the 90 degree weather mixed with low 70’s and rain. Bring on the Fall!

The Pokémon Tourist

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Pokemon Logo

I want to be the very best, like no one ever was. Even though I was 17 when Pokémon Red released, I have always been somewhat of a novice trainer. Following the series evolution across platforms, I have dabbled in different generations. Never completing:

  • Pokémon Red
  • Pokémon Yellow
  • Pokémon Pearl
  • Pokémon Platinum
  • OR Pokémon Y

Pokémon just isn’t an obsessive thing for me. What does draw me are the solid game mechanics, relaxed world, and creature battling.

Pokémon Y represents the most time I have spent with the series. Clocking in at over 20 hours, I thought I was almost done with the campaign. Nope. A walkthrough confirmed that I am but halfway on my journey. Never going to be number one at that pace. Ash, I’ve failed!

Pokemon Y

As a dad, Pokémon has taken on a new meaning. It is a series that I can share with Wyatt. A series that encourages reading, fun gameplay, and quality time spent. Nintendo has indeed created a monster.

pokemonThis year, The Pokémon Company is celebrating Pokémon’s 20th anniversary. The Super Bowl ad above is but the cusp of this tidal wave. Throughout the year, Nintendo and GameStop are offering one rare creature download a month. Take a look:

  • Celebi: March 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
  • Jirachi: April 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
  • Darkrai: May 1 – 24 (GameStop)
  • Manaphy: June 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
  • Shaymin: July 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
  • Arceus: August 1 – 24 (GameStop)
  • Victini: September 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
  • Keldeo: October 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
  • Genesect: November 1 – 24 (GameStop)
  • Meloetta: December 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)

We’ll see if Wyatt and I can keep up with the pocket monster collecting. I’m still waiting for him to be ready for his own handheld console and copy of the game. We just aren’t there yet… but soon.

 

A Crash Course On The ESRB

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The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) looms large over the video game industry. A non-profit, self-regulating body, they exist to help parents make informed choices.

ESRB_Logo

My wife, Tabitha, and I were in a GameStop. Standing in line, we watched a father and son approach the register. The store clerk looked at the game, asked the parent, “do you know that this is rated M and that it has the following in it?” Dad, shocked, decided to pass on the game due to listed content. Him and his son walked away from the register empty-handed. The ESRB rating had informed the parent; the ESRB rating had done its job.

The recent release of Minecraft: Story Mode sent me on a quest of my own. I found the ESRB’s nebulous content descriptors lacking. Just what is the ESRB? Do they screen/play every video game released? How exactly do they determine whether content is age-appropriate or not? Reading through the helpful FAQ the ESRB has posted on their website, I learned that:

  • Submitting games to the ESRB is completely voluntary. Yet, retailers and console manufactures have created policies requiring games carry an ESRB rating. The entire system is self-policing, in a way.

ESRB raters do not play reviewed video game submissions due to:

  • The volume of games submitted
  • Personal bias/worldview
  • Differing in-game experiences (especially games that feature choice)

Raters do revisit games after release to verify accuracy of disclosed content*. Which is good to know.

Each game features a Rating Summary (recently rated games are featured on the ESRB home page). Check out the example below from Yo-Kai Watch:

This is a role-playing game in which players search for and capture ghost-like creatures (Yo-Kai) around a city. Players identify and interact with various Yo-Kai, earn their friendship, and use them in turn-based combat against other creatures. Damage is indicated by colorful light effects, smacking/zapping sounds, and depleting hit points. The dialogue includes some references to violence (e.g.,“This will only hurt for a minute…After I cut your heart out…You won’t feel a thing.”). The game includes several depictions and references to bodily functions: a Yo-Kai called Snotsolong with mucous dripping from its nose; Yo-Kai (Cheeksqueek and Buttsqueek) with buttocks for heads that use flatulence-like attacks (Text reads “Emits an evil fart that significantly lowers the SPD of its enemies.”).

For parents everywhere, the ESRB represents a first line of defense in making an informed purchase for your child.

Game on.

Wave Splinter*Disclosed content is submitted by the developer to the ESRB highlighting possible problematic content.

For more information on the ESRB and their rating process, you can click here.

Assassin’s Creed III

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A few weeks ago, I did something out of character, I went and pre-ordered Assassin’s Creed III (ACIII).

Last night I went and picked up my pre-order at Gamestop. After being carded by the clerk, who said I looked under 30, I quickly exited the store. An hour or two later I found myself waiting for the game to install. 10-15 minutes later, I was treated to an opening video that highlighted that something bigger than the war between the Assassins and Templars was about to unfold, the end of the world is nigh. Only Desmond, the “link” between all of the Assassin’s Creed games and the player, holds the key to the planet’s salvation.

This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes. – Morpheus, The Matrix

The Mark of an Assassin

Note: Spoilers are incoming! If you wish to remain an ACIII virgin, steer clear. You have been warned.

Contrary to any promotional material you may have seen, ACIII opens in Britain with a tutorial assassination–how clinical sounding–at the London Opera House. In the boots of Haytham Kenway, you wade through eager operagoers and make your way to your seat and contact.

Notice how dimly lit the opera house is in the above picture. The poor sap, whose soul you’ve come to rid from this world, will never see you coming. And so the saga of Assassin’s Creed III begins.

I managed to play for just under an hour last night. In that time I assassinated a man, journeyed to the American Colonies, and met Benjamin Franklin. My only criticism so far is that the game seems perfectly happy holding my hand and guiding me through the various assassin processes. Like a child, I want to break free from that hand and truly discover the world that exists around me. Patience, I tell myself.