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School’s out for winter!

Okay, technically, it’s not out since I still have two exams to complete, but I still have a good few days’ worth of relaxing to enjoy. Yesterday I washed the dishes, washed and dried two loads of laundry, read a bit, and played some games. All in all, it was a good day.

Speaking of devoting my winter to playing games, I’ve got that little backlog I want to shrink a bit. Remember how I mentioned I bought a few games during Nintendo’s Cyber Deals event following good ol’ Turkey Time? Y’know, Metroid II: Return of Samus, Wario Land 3, and Wario Land 4? I’ve decided that over this winter break dealio, I’m gonna finish them. All of them. That’s a taller order than it first appears because I also need to play Metroid and Wario Land 2. Damn it. Actually, I’ve been doing a bit of planetary exploration, and I’m happy to announce I’VE FINALLY FINISHED METROID!

It feels so good, it truly does. I have a few confessions to make, however: I did not play Metroid the old-school way. I enjoy the challenge of older games that require one to play it all in one sitting or use fiendishly long passwords to save one’s progress, but damn, I just couldn’t handle it with Metroid – writing down passwords and trying to blast through the game just didn’t work for me. That’s why I’m glad that the 3DS Virtual Console has the “Restore Point” feature.

What is that feature, you ask? It’s a feature that allows you, the player, to save the game exactly where you’ve stopped and continue at any point in the future. Is there a tough room up ahead that may result in your death? Create a restore point just in case you mess up! All you have to do in case of failure is go to the Virtual Console menu and continue from your restore point – you’ll appear where you set your restore point and have another chance at success. It’s almost like cheating! So, yeah, I definitely took advantage of that glorious modern system. I don’t have all the time in the world, folks – if I mess up or miss a jump, I don’t want to loop around to get to the room I was in when I fell, I want to try again immediately and get it right. Also, I don’t want to forget how the hell to get back to the place I messed up, and this leads me to the second way I cheated the system:

I used a map. That’s right, I looked at a map online while I played. Look, a good number of rooms in Metroid are the same or so similar you can barely tell the difference, and I didn’t want to spend hours memorizing paths and drawing my own damn map. Not that I dislike cartography, I just wish there was a map built into the game – but hey, it was 1986 and technology hadn’t yet advanced that far. So, in lieu of fucking up repeatedly just to advance a few tiny steps, I looked at a map and optimized my travel path as best I could.

I know what you’re probably thinking: you didn’t beat Metroid at all, man! And, well, I sort of agree with you. Metroid really beat me, as I’d tried for a few years to finish it and every time I started the game anew I got frustrated and gave up. I’m tired of giving up, so if I had to use a few extra tools to win, well, I think I can forgive myself. After all, I still had to figure out how to deal with the enemies and obstacles. Still, I look forward to the day when I can boot up Metroid again, with only spare memories of its long halls and dangerous caverns, and try to get through it without a map or restore points. That’s a challenge for the future!

So, as it stands, I’m on my way to playing Metroid II: Return of Samus, because it’s the next game in the Metroid series and, as far as I know, the only game in the series I’ve yet to play. I started with Metroid Prime back in middle school and I’ve loved the series ever since. A friend let me borrow his copy of Metroid Fusion, and a few months back when it was released on the Wii U Virtual Console, I bought it for myself. I own Metroid: Zero Mission for the GBA, and love it. I bought Super Metroid on the Wii Virtual Console a few Christmases back, then, after switching Wiis and moving on to the Wii U, decided I should just get the game on the Wii U. Yeah, I even played Other M, and despite enjoying the gameplay I was not impressed with the story. Still, the point of this lengthy and rambling paragraph is to say that I’ve played all the mainline Metroid games of which I’m aware, except for Metroid II. So when I get tired of trying to better my Samus game in Super Smash Bros. on the Wii U, I’m gonna turn on Metroid II and show some parasites who’s boss.

Yeah, this winter ought to be good.

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Whoa, it’s December

Hey everyone, it’s been a while since I last posted on this site. It’s not that I dropped all the games I’ve been playing – far from it, actually! I’ve just been pretty damn busy with schoolwork, and the next few weeks don’t look to be any lighter on the homework front so I figure I should get some posting off my chest before school drives me up the wall and even along the ceiling. Without further ado, then.

My God, what is that? Let's jump back 12 or 13 years, eh?

My God, what is that? Let’s jump back 12 or 13 years, eh?

Aye, for those in the know, that’s a Wii U with one of those snazzy new GameCube controller adapters and a Super Smash Bros. edition GameCube controller. I ain’t tryna brag, I’m just tryna demonstrate why I’ve been out of commission for so long: I’ve been playing a lot of Super Smash Bros. on the Wii U, you see. In a way, I feel ripped off because I already did so much work in the 3DS version to get trophies, and I’ve got to do the same basic stuff again (run through Classic and All-Star modes with all the characters, do the Home-Run Contest with urryone, et cetera) to ensure I’ve got all the damn unlockables I got in the 3DS game. It’s frustrating, to say the least.

Yet, it’s oddly soothing, in a mind-numbing, “I’ve done this so many times it’s brainless” sort of way. I’ve even decided to switch mains (I was super stoked to bring the Pac-Attack on the 3DS but now I’m shootin’ charge beams and missiles as Samus – woot) and playing online is a blast. I have to wonder if I piss people off with all those projectiles, but hey, as competitive types say, if you can’t deal with the pressure, that’s your bad.

Anyway, onto my growing backlog. Despite my severe lack of extra dollars, I managed to afford a few games during Nintendo’s “Cyber Deal” promotion – namely, Wario Land 3 and Metroid II: Return of Samus on the 3DS and Wario Land 4 on the Wii U. I can’t play Wario Land 3 until I beat Wario Land 2, which I haven’t even begun, and I can’t play Metroid II until I beat Metroid – which, even with the awesome save state feature on the 3DS’s Virtual Console, is frustrating. This means I have at least, like, five games I’ve got to play through this winter, not counting the Super Smash Bros. grindfest.

I would say I’m getting bored of my pixelated distractions, but that’d be a lie. If anything, I’m just anxious because games are turning my attention away from my schoolwork. Yeah, there are only about two or three weeks left in the fall semester, but I’ve still got to write two lengthy essays and take a few final exams – how will I continue to hone my missile-launching skills when I’ve got to type about Arthur’s fear of death in the Alliterative Morte Arthure? I suppose I’ll have to, you know, put the games down for a while. Damn. Damn it all to damnation. This semester has been dragging for a while but I can make it, man. I can get through this final hoop and proceed to enjoy the winter break. Cold air, warm controller, layers of clothing – I’m jazzed, folks. I’ve just got to get my homework done. Whenever that happens, I think you guys may want to expect some sort of retrospective – I’m still gathering the courage to put my unwanted games up for sale, and that means I’ll be looking at a lot of old games with fond memories attached. Happy gaming, folks.

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Update us, man!

Yeah, I haven’t devoted much time to any Castlevania games over the past few days, and I’m sorry about that since I said I’d do my best to complete Rondo of Blood before the end of the month. I have to admit, it’s just a damn tough game, and I’m throwing my spare minutes at so many different games it’s ridiculous: I’ve been building up my bell reserves in Animal Crossing, leveling up my team of adventurers in Etrian Odyssey IV, fighting matches here and there in Super Smash Bros. for 3DS, and, y’know, learning over at the university.

That brings me to my next point: I’ve got a ton of homework to do over the course of the next week. I’ve got to read essays and articles for one of my English classes, read the last part of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight for another English class, prepare a presentation, and write a big ol’ paper (okay, I guess seven pages isn’t so bad compared to some assignments, but this is my first university level research paper; gimme a break). I’m afraid, good readers, that I may not have time to finish Rondo of Blood.

Which brings me to this little picture:

Hey, look! TWO Castlevania games on the Wii U Virtual Console? What are you thinking, man?

Hey, look! TWO Castlevania games on the Wii U Virtual Console? What are you thinking, man?

I’ve got a backup plan in case Rondo of Blood can’t be completed (Rondo of Blood is on my Wii Virtual Console, remember): I’ll play Super Castlevania IV instead. See, Dracula X is cool and all, but within its own family it’s kind of a black sheep. It’s the kid who couldn’t hold down a job or get good grades. As a game, I’d say Dracula X is good, but as a Castlevania game it’s lacking. It doesn’t control very well and the difficulty curve is all kinds of insane. I’ve only reached the second level and I’m already lumbering across a crumbling bridge as mermen jump up to impede my progress and send me plummeting to a watery grave; that’s usually a second-to-last or last-level Castlevania rage-inducer. In short, I’m not having Dracula X, at least not now. So I jumped back to Rondo of Blood.

However, as I pointed out earlier, Rondo of Blood is also challenging; it’s more polished than Dracula X and it feels very smooth in comparison, but it’s still frustrating and I just don’t think I’ll have the time or the dedication to finish it by the time the ghosts ‘n’ goblins pack it in for next Halloween (sweet name drop, eh?). Hence, my purchase of Super Castlevania IV: see, I’ve finished Super Castlevania IV twice in my life, on the old family Wii. Last Halloween I almost played through it in a single sitting before I went to work; I came back and beat it when my shift was over, but this year, I’ll have nothing in the way of me and my whip. I swear, I’ll beat Super Castlevania IV in one sitting. I’ve got to do it. I’ve got to beat some sort of Castlevania game before October is over.

So, there you have ’em: my half-assed excuses for failing to complete Dracula X or Rondo of Blood, and my glorious decision to play Super Castlevania IV on Halloween instead. See how crafty and neurotic I am? I must beat a Castlevania game, but I must also do my homework, therefore I pick the Castlevania game I can beat in a day and delay my conquest. I’m taking out two crows with one ax, if you will.

I’ll update you as I trudge along, whipping skeletons and giant bats with weary arms and wondering when I’ll see the orange glow of a tavern’s lantern again – I dunno, I assume the Belmonts stop at the local places for food and drink every now and then. Oh, I’ll also be getting way too stoked about upcoming games and wishing I had way more money as I read this little number:

Will they get mad at me for inserting them into one of my blog posts? But I love you, Game Informer!

Will they get mad at me for inserting them into one of my blog posts? But I love you, Game Informer!

All right, into the night I go. Happy gaming/reading/whatever you like to do, folks.

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Twenty Leaves at Once

Sometimes during the transition from summer to fall, trees go a little crazy for shedding their clothes, and twenty leaves will fall at once. I go through phases like that too, where I’ve got too many things happening simultaneously and I’m trying to keep track of them all. Now is one of those times.

This is an image I’ve seen all too often on my tv lately:

This is the beginning of Stage 7. It haunts me.

This is the beginning of Stage 7. It haunts me.

See, I’ve been stuck on this level for, well, years really – it was the last level I reached before losing touch with Rondo of Blood, and now that I’ve played all the optional stages I can reach I’m back to this hellish place, attempting to cross a crumbling bridge as huge bats swoop at me and hinder my progress; it’s a tricky traversal. I get the feeling it’ll be the last cumbersome roadblock preventing me from finishing Rondo of Blood.

Then there’s my 3DS love. I’ve gotta preface my 3DS habits by saying I’ve spent a great number of hours gripping handheld gaming devices since I first owned a GameBoy Color back in 1998, and that preference for a portable gaming device has remained within me. Even as I turn on my Wii U in preparation for a protracted attempt at crossing the bridge from Hell in Rondo of Blood and log into this website to update this little blog, I’ve got my 3DS on sleep mode while it charges, ready to be opened at a moment’s notice so I can Super Smash some shit up. My Animal Crossing habit is still strong too, so I try to play it every day; for the past two weeks or so, that’s been a daily thing for me. That means daily 3DS sessions, the odd attempt to finish a Castlevania game in honor of Halloween, and trying my hand at being a blogger, all while trying to stay on top of my schoolwork. Oh yeah, that reminds me …

I’m sorta ignoring an essay I should be writing at this moment. The document is open and I’ve put my name and all the other required stuff on it, but I haven’t begun to set my thoughts on paper. I know where I want to go with the essay but I’m a pretty good procrastinator – can’t you see? Rondo of Blood, Super Smash Bros, and even blogging: they’re my fun distractions from the real stuff. Still, even distractions must end so real life can swoop at us like bats from the dusky sky; I’ll end this post so I can play Rondo of Blood until I get frustrated and finally devote myself to my homework. Enjoy your distractions, folks.

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To Study and Die in Pixels

In that rambling introduction I mentioned that I have a problem with focusing on my games sometimes, and this weekend became a strange study in the ways I make a commitment and then break it. I’m in a class that requires me to keep a journal wherein I respond to the readings I do throughout the semester; ideally I would have logged my thoughts as I read each article and essay, but I kept forgetting about the journal and telling myself I’d get to it eventually. Well, eventually finally met me on Sunday – the first ten journal entries will be checked in class on Wednesday and I had zero ready to go. I would’ve had the damn things written by then, but here’s the thing: on Saturday evening, I got the Animal Crossing project fever.

Wait a minute, wasn’t I supposed to be playing Castlevania: Dracula X in the spirit of Halloween? Well, yeah, I know I said I’d do that but here’s the thing: I was house-sitting with my girlfriend all week and I didn’t bring my Wii U with me. Being the lover of handheld games that I am, I brought my 3DS with me and committed myself to my daily fossil-collection routine in Animal Crossing before throwing down in Super Smash Bros. All this gaming happens, of course, after I do my homework; I try my best to be a good student, eh? Unless it has to do with those damn journal entries. So anyway, back to all that.

I would’ve buckled down and destroyed my fingers jotting ten responses, but on Saturday night I decided to finally rearrange all the haphazard flowers in my town. Yeah, my thumb turned green overnight. I spent three hours moving flowers around until they were all neat and arranged in lines, and learned a few things: first, my flowers only take up about half my town when they’re compressed, and second, having a project on which to focus really extends my play sessions. I didn’t even play Smash Bros tonight because I was so into Animal Crossing. Hallelujah, praise be to Leif, lord of gardening!

So in a week I’ve gone from really digging Smash Bros and wanting to whip some skeletons good in Dracula X to strolling through verdant meadows in my now-super-neat Animal Crossing town. I feel I’ve let myself down a little, but hey, sometimes even the best laid plans are made to be altered. At some point I’m gonna banish some skeletons to the nether realm, I promise; hell, I’ll boot up Dracula X right now. That’ll make for a fine end to a chilly night in October. Keep on reading and gaming, folks.

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One Guy Plays Games: An Introduction

Hello, ladies and gents, and welcome to my own little slice of the giant digital cake. I hope you find my tales and anecdotes amusing – I’m ready to share bits and pieces of my life and I’ll try to make them relevant to, well, whoever reads this blog.

First off: I’m a full time college student with a steady girlfriend, two cats, and zero jobs. I’ve got a lot of quirks, habits rather, that take up a lot of my time. I devote myself to keeping a journal which I update on a daily basis (some of those thoughts will be recorded here, I’m sure) and performing various exercises to maintain my shoddy level of fitness (I act like I’m fit but I only do push-ups and pull-ups, nothing else). These sound like simple tasks, but I assure you, summoning the willpower to execute them every day is difficult. I think I may have an attention problem, but with the internet being so entertaining nowadays, who doesn’t? Anyway, my point is this: despite my lack of concrete things to do aside from homework and singing to my cats, I find it difficult to play all the video games I enjoy.

And there’s one thing you must know if you plan on staying here: I love video games.

Sure, I’m an avid reader for pleasure when I’m not in classes, but games have been constantly fighting books for the top spot on my shelf of hobbies. I don’t think either one will topple the other, but I tend to lean toward games – they’re comprised of so many different components, beautiful artwork and amusing writing and compelling music and sometimes even voice acting! I love games. I can’t get enough of them, and sometimes I think I’m addicted to them.

That jarring possibility aside, let’s get down to the meat and gristle of this bloody mess, shall we? It’s October. That means Halloween is coming up, and as you’ll learn through reading this blog, I’m a lover of horror stories and strange tales. I started a Halloween tradition a few years ago in which I play one horror-themed game throughout the days leading to Halloween, and as a longtime fan of Castlevania I usually grab a whip and start pummeling skeletons. Well, as luck would have it, Nintendo is also going with the horror trend this year, since they’ve released a few spooky games on their Wii U virtual console, and Castlevania: Dracula X is one of those games. I’ve played Rondo of Blood and I’ve read that Dracula X is very similar but when I see a Castlevania game I haven’t played, I’ve got to whip it good.

Okay, I’ve begun to ramble. Long story short, I like games and Halloween is creeping closer so I’m gonna play Castlevania: Dracula X. Y’know, when I’m not reading for class or writing a paper or getting my pellet-munching face mashed in while I play Super Smash Bros. for 3DS. Pac-Man for the win! So here I go, whip in hand, ready to stare into the face of Death himself and stand tall.

But enough talk – have at you!

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