Tag Archives: 3DS

Full Force: Pokemon X/Y Review

Full Force is GFN’s weekly look at some of the biggest news in geekdom, from video games to anime to movies and everything in between. We also welcome your comments below, if you want to join the conversation. This week, our panelists give their thoughts on the most recent entry in the juggernaut that is Pokemon.

pokemonxy

Pokemon has a familiar formula by this point, and not much has changed in X and Y. What did you think about the newest entries from a gameplay standpoint? Continue reading Full Force: Pokemon X/Y Review

Doing “Chores” In Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing

Boy, I’m sure getting a lot of mileage out of that header, eh?

I’m not a morning person at all. When I wake up, it’s a struggle to get out of bed and get in the shower, no matter how much sleep I got last night. I also tend to wake up an hour or so in advance of whenever I actually need to be up, so I can either risk getting another hour of fitful sleep and praying I’ll be more awake after some additional pillowtime, or I can just sit there miserably, slowly waking up. Neither option tends to make me particularly happy, so what I’ve been doing lately is sitting in bed and playing some Animal Crossing: New Leaf before I go about my day.

For the last few weeks, I’ve had an Animal Crossing “routine” that I developed to minimize my playtime while maximizing my town maintenance. When all the dust settles, my chores usually take me less than a half-hour, which is perfect for slowly waking up in the morning and then putting away the 3DS to go shower and eat breakfast. The chores are a combination of preventing natural town decay and adding to my collection of emotions/furniture/clothing/museum crap.

After staring at the ceiling for a few minutes and picking a random deity to help me through the coming drudgery of the day, I’ll reach over to my bedside table and grab my 3DS. I’ll then put my phone back down when I eventually figure out it’s not my 3DS (takes a while when I’m groggy), and I’ll grab that instead. The first thing I do is make a complete circuit of my town, pulling any weeds and watering any flowers I may come across. Whenever I see a rock, I’ll hit it with a shovel until I’ve found both the money rock and the gemstone rock. I’ll stop in at The Roost to get a coffee, despite this being a total waste of money with no tangible effect on gameplay and despite the fact that I don’t even drink coffee in real life (although given my issues with waking up, I probably should). I’ll also stop by Lloid’s public works project and spoonfeed him a few Bells to build a vastly overpriced park bench or whatever. I’ll continue with my circuit until I’m sure I’ve found both special rocks, plucked all the weeds, watered all the wilted flowers, uncovered all four fossils, and picked an apple for Dr. Shrunk. After that, I hit up Main Street.

I always head to the right side of Main Street first and get my fossils appraised by Blathers. I only have like six left to find, so he usually gives ’em all back to me so I can get dat sweet $$$ from Reese. I also pop upstairs while I’m at the museum and drop off any gyroids or gemstones into one of the exhibit rooms I’ve set up solely for gyroid/gemstone storage. Next, I check Kicks, the Able Sisters’, and T&T Mart for any clothing or furniture I think I might want. I always buy out all of the flower seeds in Leif’s garden shop just because I’m trying to make my town faaabulous, even though it’s more plants to water later on and they’re all just going to die when I eventually put my character into cryosleep. Tom Crook’s store also gets a visit to see whether there are any fancy new exterior renovations available (although my house looks damn fine as it is, thank you very much), and then it’s over to da club where I give Shrunk his fruit and he programs a new emotion into my robot soul. I exit Main Street, sell all my extraneous crap to Reese, add my new purchases to my home or to storage, and then that’s it. Thirty minutes or less every morning, and my town looks great.

I’m still adhering to this routine fairly rigidly, but a few days ago, I paid off my entire mortgage. I usually view this as a “completion” of Animal Crossing (despite the fact that there’s still a crap-ton of stuff I could save up Bells for), so I’m unsure how much longer these chores will hold my interest. Eventually, I’ll take a deep breath and consign my town to the ravages of time, allowing weeds to proliferate, flowers to die, neglected villagers to move away, cockroaches to colonize my mansion, and so on. I’ve done this many times before with many different Animal Crossing towns, and it’s never an easy decision. To date, I’ve spent over a month’s worth of playtime on making my town beautiful, and to let that all go to waste…sigh. On the other hand, playing a few minutes of Animal Crossing in the AM sure makes my mornings a lot easier, so it’s possible I’ll keep doing my “chores” even when there’s no longer any point to them.

Animal Crossing: My New Obsession

Animal Crossing

The last game that completely dominated my life was Fire Emblem: Awakening. I bought it in late January due to a shipping mishap and didn’t stop playing it until about mid-May. Since then, I’ve been going back and forth through a few different time-wasters like Final Fantasy Dimensions and Star Wars: The Old Republic, but nothing’s really grabbed me since.

About two weeks ago, a friend of mine intimated that he was considering purchasing Animal Crossing: New Leaf. This took me by surprise, since he’s never played any Animal Crossing games in the past and has never shown any interest in the series whatsoever. The two of us play a lot of obscure games together, even some that would be considered casual, but I didn’t think a game about interior decoration and fuzzy animal neighbours was really his jam. When he took the plunge, I found my excuse to pick up the game for myself.

I didn’t really need New Leaf, because I had just bought City Folk for my sisters and we were knee-deep in that particular iteration at the time (still are, in fact). But boy, was buying New Leaf ever a great idea. This game is by far the best version of the series, so much so that it makes the broad leap from 2002’s Animal Crossing to Wild World look much smaller by comparison, while also making the pitiful jump from Wild World to City Folk (the latter game being basically a slightly enhanced Wii port of Wild World) look downright pathetic. If you’ve ever considered buying an Animal Crossing game, and you’ve never played one before, you’re in for a treat with New Leaf. In the past, I would’ve said that if you’ve played Wild World then there’s no point in playing any of the others, but New Leaf is worth double-dipping now (or in my case, quadruple-dipping).

I tend to play a lot of games solo, even if they have online multiplayer. Yet for some reason, I really enjoy the online multiplayer in New Leaf, so much so that I genuinely look forward to visiting other people’s towns. I like seeing how they’ve customized things, which residents they have, how far along their Main Street has come, what their native fruit is, what their home is like, what they’re wearing, etc. I went to my Twitter pal Milin‘s town a few days ago and really just screwed around; I didn’t really do anything that helped me progress in-game except steal a bunch of his fruit. Yet we had 4 people in the town, partied in his pad, dug holes around his house, and despite none of it really making an impact on our in-game progress or really consisting of much other than just hanging out, it was still a memorable experience. Pictures were even taken to document the occasion. Altogether, it was an oddly compelling online experience, and one I admit I kind of prefer to traditional multiplayer.

So, with that being said, if any of you have the game and want to get some multiplayer New Leaf going, I’m totally down to play. You can follow me on Twitter and DM me your Friend Code, or just email it to me at pixelbubble@gmail.com. Sound good?

Give Me Your Friend Codes!

ACNL

 

Many of you celebrated July 4th for very obvious reasons. I, however, was celebrating another year of my strange life with friends, explosions, and lots of cake. And beer. Can’t forget about beer. And after pining away for Animal Crossing: New Leaf for about a century, I finally got my very own copy (and a sweet little 3DS as well). My town Haven is pretty quaint, and Sly doesn’t call me “ladybro” as much. It took me way too long to realize that Purrl is a female, and Lobo kind of gives me the heebie jeebies. But being the mayor is a pretty sweet job!

I don’t have too much to show off yet. I’ve become determined to start filling the ground with millions of flowers and I have a fountain by City Hall, but I would love the chance to hang out with some fellow mayors. If you follow me on Twitter (it’s a requirement), shoot me your friend codes!

To all of the other AC:NL players, what do you think about the game so far? What kinds of shenanigans are happening in your town? And to the ones that may not enjoy Animal Crossing as much, what other 3DS games would you recommend?

I hope everyone had an incredible July 4th!

Quick E3 Roundup

ps4presser

Insert cliched sentence about “dust settling” here. Still, now that we’ve all had time to calm down from the madness of E3, let’s discuss how things went for the Big Three. My Twitter feed was drowning in snark, most of it pretty funny, along with some occasional rage/betrayal. It was my first E3 on Twitter, and I can only hope that future expos are just as entertaining. So, just some quick thoughts to start your week off right:

Microsoft: The odds were definitely stacked against them after their dismal Xbox One reveal, but they promised that E3 would be all about the games, and I feel they delivered on that. They showed off a few nice exclusives, kept the TV/sports crap to a minimum, and generally had a much more solid conference than most people give them credit for. However, they made a huge gaffe on the price, one that I doubt they’ll be able to recover from. $500 was expensive even before Sony announced their price, but now it just seems ludicrous. I liked their conference (aside from the price announcement), and if they hadn’t already committed a multitude of marketing sins on the hardware side I think they’d have a real shot, but alas. What kills me is that the very publishers that Microsoft tried to appease with the always online/used games dealio (like EA and Ubisoft) are already hanging Microsoft out to dry after witnessing the backlash. It’s kind of a shame, because I own a 360 and not a PS3, and I wanted to continue that legacy, if I could.

Sony: These guys went right for Microsoft’s throat, which is exactly what they should’ve done. All they did was announce that nothing had changed DRM-wise from the previous generation and they instantly won over the crowd; Microsoft just handed them that particular victory. Still, I have to give credit where it’s due: they could’ve just priced their console at $500 and forced gamers to choose between two super-expensive mini-computers (and given Microsoft’s PR issues, customers probably would’ve chosen Sony anyway, even with a price tie), but they went straight for the jugular and made it absolutely no contest. Both machines have comparable horsepower (PS4 has a little faster RAM), both have robust, paid-subscription online services, both have decent exclusives. But one console doesn’t require an online validation every 24 hours, allows used games, and is $100 cheaper. I know that there are still diehard Xbox One fans out there, and I’m glad that they’ve found plenty to like about the console, but if I had to choose, I’d have to get a PS4. Plus, Jack Tretton’s slow evolution from a nervous, sweaty suit to an absolute shark is a joy to watch. I’ll take deliberate ruthlessness over complacency in my hardware execs any day. Hey, speaking of complacency…

Nintendo: After Sony’s conference, it was all on Nintendo. Xbox One looked like it was primed to fail while PS4 looked just the opposite, but those were both hypotheticals: Nintendo had already been dealing with the reality of a failing console for half a year now. With the PS4 priced at only $50 more than the only Wii U SKU worth getting, Nintendo needed to announce a price cut either in their Direct video or sometime during the show proper. No price cut ever came, which was…not good. Then their Direct was crammed full of sequels that were identical to their prequels, ports, and remakes, none of which were arriving before 2014. If Nintendo was going to have any chance at all against the Xbone or PS4 this fall, it was going to need a killer app, and the Nintendo Direct was Nintendo revealing their hand and showing they had been bluffing the whole time. If you’re going to launch a year before the competition, you better make damn good use of that year and build up your consumer base by selling systems. It’ll be over a year since launch before the Wii U has a killer app, and a lazy HD remake of a game that still looks stellar (Wind Waker) isn’t going to help buffet the storm coming in November. If anything, I’m a Nintendo fanboy, so it pains me to admit that they’re probably completely boned.

I guess none of this really matters because there’s no way I’m buying any of these damn things before 2014. My current gen consoles and my PC have been serving me quite well, and as much as I’d like to be an early adopter, buying the 3DS on day 1 left a bad enough taste in my mouth that I doubt I’ll ever do it again. But man, was it nice to get caught up in the hype along with everyone else on Twitter. Super fun. Same time next year, gents?

 

Animal Crossing Stories

Animal Crossing

I love combing my social networks whenever a new Animal Crossing game drops. The most unexpected people are outed as fans, people who I would usually assume are too “cool” for a quirky, younger-skewing game like Animal Crossing. I’m by no means someone who considers himself too “cool” for “kiddie” Nintendo games, but neither am I really the target audience for Animal Crossing. I like being able to complete my games in a linear fashion, make steady progress through the storyline or the dungeons or the stages or what have you, and then shelve it, knowing that I can enjoy the full satisfaction of having seen all there is to see. Animal Crossing, as sandboxy as game as they come, presents a problem for me in that I have to invent my own challenges if I want to consider the game “completed.” Of course, as many fans of the series will tell you, it’s impossible to truly “complete” Animal Crossing.

I remember the months leading up to the first game’s release in 2002. There was an issue of Nintendo Power where a few of the magazine’s writers kept a diary of their interactions within the game. My sisters and I read that article over and over again until the countdown to the game’s release became almost unbearable. We had planned out our individual towns, houses, and characters months in advance. When the game finally came out, we played it for a year straight without ever getting bored. To us, the general game concept was just that good. Usually, a game that “can be played infinitely” is code for “gets boring due to a lack of objectives real fast,” but to our young minds, this was the only game we needed. We travelled back and forth and visited each other in half-hour shifts ad infinitum. The the only thing that would’ve made the game better for us would have been splitscreen multiplayer, something the series still doesn’t have (although it received online multiplayer with the DS follow-up, Wild World).

A long time ago, neighbour had an all-nighter gaming bash for his 12th birthday, and since I was the GameCube guy, I brought my little purple box along with Super Smash Bros. Melee, Soul Calibur II, and F-Zero GX. I let someone else set it up on the upstairs TV, then headed into the basement to watch people play Gran Turismo (A-Spec, I think) and Devil May Cry on the PS2. People left the PS2 area every so often to check out the other systems on other floors of the house, but eventually I realized that they weren’t coming back. I began to worry that they had started the Smash Bros. tournament without me, so I headed upstairs to the GameCube room. What I found was a dozen preteen boys (yes, the same ones that would be pointing out your homosexuality on Call of Duty these days) huddled around a 13″ TV calmly playing the Animal Crossing disc that I had accidentally left in the GameCube. They had started a new file, with the player character named for the birthday boy (he was allowed to play five minutes longer than anyone else). You bet your ass these kids fought like hyenas over the controller before devising a hierarchy by which turns were taken, with certain players assigned certain roles (bug catcher, fruit collector, fisherman, etc.) according to their caste. It was a suburban Lord of the Flies.

I didn’t touch Animal Crossing all through high school and halfway through university. My mom was just getting into video games when the 3DS was about to come out, so I suggested Animal Crossing as a nice, calm game we could enjoy together. I gave her my DS Lite and preordered a 3DS (whoops), and I picked up the last two copies of Wild World that my local EB Games would ever see. We’ve been playing it about two years now, and of course, the best times are when we’re in the same town together. She likes to arrive at my gate dressed like a psycho, then she proceeds to hide crap all over town and force me to find it. Yeah, it’s a riot.

I don’t know why, but my sister wanted to play Animal Crossing the other day. I had been eying the Wii iteration, City Folk, ever since it dropped to $20 under the budget-priced Nintendo Selects label. It arrived last Friday, just before we would’ve had to endure a painful weekend without it, and we’ve been playing the heck out of it ever since. She’s already strip-mined our town and purchased her first house expansion. Me? I bought a watering can.

Now, New Leaf just came out, and it looks like the biggest leap forward the series has made since Wild World. I tend to be a generation behind with my Animal Crossings, so it’ll likely be a while before I pick it up. Deep down, I know that somewhere along the line, I won’t be able to resist its siren call of mortgages and weird animal friends. I’m sure I’ll try to pick it up when it’s just gone out of print (City Folk was a hassle to wrangle).

I Finished Fire Emblem: Awakening, and Now My Life is Empty

FireEmblem

Since late January (yes, I snagged the game early thanks to the infamous shipping fiasco that resulted in tons of preorders going unfulfilled), I’ve been playing Fire Emblem: Awakening almost constantly. I’m a huge fan of the series, so there was never any doubt that I was going to love the game, but for previous games in the series, I usually spent about 60 hours (not all at once!) beating the game and then put it on the shelf for a few years. All of them have long, deep campaigns, but little in the way of replay value. Perhaps a New Game Plus with a few new characters or maybe the thrill of Lunatic difficulty, but nothing in the way of additional story chapters.

Being a game of its time, Awakening was supported with weekly DLC from a week before release (Day Zero DLC, if you will) to almost four months after its original ship date. I bought every single one of these DLC packs, which were, on average, about $6.50 for three half-hour-long maps. I spent double the price of the vanilla game on DLC. And if they had kept releasing DLC, I probably would’ve spent even more money.

Every week, I’d get a mix of free characters, free sidequest maps (which, despite occurring chronologically before the final boss fight, felt a lot like cool little epilogues), free rare weapons, and paid DLC maps. It was an overwhelming amount of extra content for a game that was already easily the most feature-packed of the entire series, and it was enough to keep me playing for months on end.

Of course, the well had to run dry sooner or later, and the final piece of DLC was released a few weeks back. The ridiculously difficult Apotheosis episode took me almost a full night to beat, even with my maxed-out characters (carefully nurtured over months of grinding). When I finally laid the last enemy Hero to rest, I sighed. My total time clocked in at about 200 hours. I knew that I would probably never have the patience to start a new save file. A younger version of me might have gleefully subjected himself to something like that, but alas, 200 hours is too much for these creaky old bones to endure twice.

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably think that I hate almost everything. I love video games a lot, and unfortunately, I’ve come to hold them to a very high standard as of late. A lot of my complaints are in jest, but I genuinely feel that many games fall short of excellence. I can probably find something I don’t like in nearly every game I’ve played, but please don’t mistake my criticisms for actual hatred; I pick these things apart because I care. Fire Emblem: Awakening is one of those rare games that are difficult for me to find fault with. Even things that should be easy targets in a JRPG (cookie-cutter story, braindead dialogue) don’t really apply to Awakening, which is all the more surprising considering past games in the series were pockmarked with cliched anime end-of-world scenarios and horrible mock-medieval dialogue (Awakening does include these tropes to some extent, but they’re subverted pretty well).

When I play games, I always look forward to the end. I want to greedily consume the experience and then move on to the next meal. With Awakening, I wanted to savour it as long as possible, which was entirely weird for me. It’s been so long since the last time I played a game that made me feel that way; I hope it’s not too long until the next one.