rambling

The Slow and Circular March of Time

I’ve got this quirk. Call it a trait, if you’re feeling generous. I really like to finish the games I start. In these modern times of fast downloads and cavernous storage devices, a person like me can amass a pretty staggering library of games to play and enjoy. Only problem is, I’m a picky guy: I know which upcoming games I really wanna play, and I plan my game time according to my preferences.

For example, Majora’s Mask 3D will be released on Friday. Now, I’m a longtime Zelda fan and Majora’s Mask was one of my favorite games when it was first released – hell, I’d say it’s still my favorite Zelda game but Link’s Awakening scowls at me when I say that (yeah, I’m one of those weird folks who enjoys the “alternative” Zelda games. No Hyrule? No problem). Anyway, with only a few days until the 3DS version of Majora’s Mask is released, I need to find some way to fill the time without committing myself to a crazy long game (since that could possibly split my game time between Majora’s Mask and another substantial game). Luckily, I ended up getting 100% in Devil Survivor Overclocked over the weekend, which means I’ve got no big games to distract me from my Zelda love. So what do I do with no big games to play?

I jump back to all the smaller games I put by the wayside. There was that time in October when I said I’d beat Super Castlevania IV and maybe even Dracula X, but I ended up putting ’em both down. Now I’ve got time to vanquish Dracula again and again – I beat Super Castlevania IV earlier today and now I’m trudging through Dracula X. It’s not a great example of a Castlevania game, but it’s not too bad once you get used to its sluggish pace. Bosses are also friggin’ tough, which adds to the challenge of it. I think it may end up growing on me – the gameplay is slow, sure, but the challenge makes up for that. The only thing that really bugs me so far is the haphazard color palette and strange progression of rooms – from a bright yellow and purple hall to a grimy green-bricked dungeon back to another colorful hall to a mysterious underground waterway? What in the blazing fuck is going on at Chateau de Dracul?

So, yeah, I’ve got this weakness for games. I always want to finish ’em, and I keep adding more to the pile. The beautiful curse of Nintendo’s Virtual Console is that I can play all these sweet games I didn’t play as a kid, but I can also re-purchase games I played a few years ago on a different system. It’s like, I already own the Super Nintendo DKC trilogy – why did I download it? I’ll tell you why: convenience. I can have a great collection of games readily available for my enjoyment all with a few button presses. What if I get tired of jumping through the jungle as Donkey Kong? I can go to the Home menu, pick a different game, and start whipping the fear of God, er, Belmont into demons and skeletons.

Tonight, I’ll lash my way through Dracula’s castle until the Count lies in a pile of bloody ashes at my feet. Tomorrow, I could leave my spaceship to shoot energy beams at Metroids. On Friday, I’ll definitely freak the fuck out as I find myself in a land that’s eerily similar but still different from Hyrule and HOLY CRAP the moon is approaching and it looks PISSED.

It’s awesome having so many adventures from which to choose. Keep on gaming, folks.

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Slow and Steady: For Coins and Glory

I probably should’ve been done with it a while ago, but I finally finished it! What is it? Wario Land II, of course!

Treasure map? Check.

Treasure map? Check.

Every piece of loot? Check.

Every piece of loot? Check.

Nifty screen that lays your accomplishments out for you? Checkarooni.

Nifty screen that lays your accomplishments out for you? Checkarooni.

Yeah, that feeling of completing a game and knowing there’s nothing left to do is a great thing – especially for obsessive completionists like myself. You know what completionists don’t want to hear when they’re nearing the end of a game? “But wait, there’s more!”

But wait, there's more!

But wait, there’s more!

Yep, as soon as you get every piece of treasure and every piece of the “Picture Puzzle,” as the game calls that nice treasure map, Wario makes his merry way to Captain Syrup’s hidden castle and decides that he’s gonna reverse their situations: she started this mess by jacking his treasure, now he’s gonna end it by jacking her stuff. Just to let you know you’re really at the tail-end of the game, the intro screen to this level lays it all out for you:

Oh, thank God it's really almost over!

Oh, thank God it’s really almost over!

So this really final chapter is, as one would expect, the most frustrating and challenging level in Wario Land II. There are spikes and rushing water currents and pitfalls aplenty, all threatening to impede your progress while baddies of all shapes and sizes cackle with glee as they approach you with spears/claws/electric orbs at the ready. Okay, so there’s really no cackling, but I can’t help but imagine those enemies are having a great time getting in Wario’s way. The bastards.

After grabbing all the loot and completing the treasure map, I initially wondered why in the world I would want to play one final level in the game, but then I realized that this last challenge is the only chance you’ve got to bring everything around and show Wario’s true colors. Wario doesn’t just enjoy the sight of shiny gold coins and fantastic baubles, he loves it, and he wants to wrap his greedy mitts around every object of value he can reach. Until you get 100% in Wario Land II, however, Wario isn’t taking anyone’s stuff; he’s just striving to get his own money back from Captain Syrup. As I beat the real final boss and snagged the biggest money bag I’ve ever seen (replete with the Syrup symbol on it), I couldn’t help but feel that some twisted version of justice had been served. You don’t steal from Wario – he stomps all your henchmen and takes everything you’ve got!

As you can probably tell, I thoroughly enjoy the personality and philosophy that the Wario Land series has in its possession; the greed and power of Wario is a welcome alternative to the endless do-good attitude and smooth jumping of Mario. Yeah, it feels good to be the “good guy” in a game, but every now and then it’s fun to tear shit up and leave one’s enemies penniless.

On that note, I’ll be starting the next installment in the Wario Land series:

Oh yeah, the graphics are crisp as toast!

Oh yeah, the graphics are crisp as toast!

Expect more gleeful coin-grabbing and baddie-tackling soon. Also, I’ve hinted at it a few times, but I’m trying to put together some sort of personal Atlus retrospective for myself, seeing as how I’ve had a pretty good time playing various Atlus-affiliated games over the years. So, y’know, I promise I’ll post that thing at some point too. While you wait, keep on gaming, folks!

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Just Grindin’ Games

It’s December 23rd and I’ve got something like four and a half weeks before I head back to school. That means I’ve really gotta step up my leisure game, because I’ve still got Wario Land to finish and I’ve only added a whole new dimension to my load by starting Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked. More on that in a later post, but for now I’ll say that I’ve hardly played any SRPGs before and I’m having a pretty good time.

Anyway, about the Wario Land Series …

But why not 100%?

But why not 100%?

So there’s a weird route one must take in order to get 100% in Wario Land II: you’ve gotta beat the game once before you can go back and replay levels and snag the treasure you may have missed the first time around. This means that the best you can do the first time around is 50% across the board; as you fine folks can see, I missed two pieces of treasure due to my initial misunderstanding of the game’s flow. So, now I’ve got to use this handy dandy screen:

Ooh, such pretty colors! Thanks, GameBoy Color!

Ooh, such pretty colors! Thanks, GameBoy Color!

And this little beauty:

But what's the picture gonna be?

But what’s the picture gonna be?

To keep track of my overall progress. Now, these screens are actually available while you’re playing the game the first time through, but the problem arises when you realize that you can’t go to a level-select screen and try to grab the stuff you missed in any levels you just finished. This option only becomes available when you’ve finished the game, and it’s a beautiful option because there are some levels with secret exits. Wait, what?!

Yeah, Wario Land II has this thing going on where some levels have hidden doors or alternate goals, and if you finish the level in the alternate way you go on a different path. This wouldn’t be such an annoying thing if the level select screen was there from the start, but I get what the designers intended: they wanted players to figure out the secret exit dealio on their own and then search for the other paths once they beat the game. You see, a lot of older games didn’t go for the instant gratification a lot of us enjoy nowadays, and instead opted to let players figure things out for themselves. I know I seem really mad about the level-select being withheld until the end of the game, but really, it’s a pretty nifty mechanic: it lets players who don’t care about completion enjoy the story and the game and move on, while giving the completionists like myself the option to keep on playing and go for that golden 100%.

So that’s what I plan on doing for the next few days when I’m not grinding in Animal Crossing, making life-or-death decisions in Devil Survivor Overclocked, and/or celebrating the holidays. My Animal Crossing sessions are actually lengthening because I’m trying to complete a long-term project, and, as most Atlus games go, Devil Survivor Overclocked is a lengthy undertaking. I dig it though, so I’m pretty jazzed on Atlus right now.

Keep on gaming, folks, and keep on enjoying yourselves. I’m gonna do just those things, while I tinker with my idea for a big Atlus-themed post. Hee-ho!

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Ah Crap, I Did It Again

This is what a good chunk of my Saturday night was all about:

Green suits your power suit, Samus.

Green suits your power suit, Samus.

You may remember how I vowed to complete Metroid II: Return of Samus before moving onto the second installment of the Wario Land series, and tonight, I managed to complete that mission. I know that wonky-looking 4 hour and 30 minute completion time may seem impressive for a first play-through, but once again, I have to confess that I used a map. I managed to defeat six or seven metroids before the black and white color scheme bored and befuddled me, so I found a good map online and pressed on from there.

Yeah, it ain’t the real deal with the glory of exploration and discovery and triumph over hostile forces, but seriously, I didn’t wanna look at another set of wonky black and white tiles (or, as you can see, green and black tiles via the 3DS Virtual Console’s “GameBoy Color color scheme”) while wondering which fork I followed wrong. I found it pretty cool that I could choose to view the game with the two color palettes it featured depending on which system one used to play it, but it wasn’t enough to stymy the monotony of the environment. It’s especially frustrating that I had to resort to a map again considering the general consensus that Metroid II is the most “linear” of the Metroid titles, and as I wound my way through the caverns of SR388, I could see from where those arguments come.

You see, in Metroid II, there are pools of acid that will block most progress until you defeat a certain number of metroids; in this way, the game forces players to contend with the hostile parasitic forces and adeptly boxes them in to figure out the limits of each area before opening up the next set of caves. I haven’t looked into any game-breaking glitches or movement techniques, but knowing the Metroid series, I’m sure there are ways to bypass some acid pools and completely ignore the “kill X number of metroids to progress” stipulations.

I know I sound a little bitter about the game, but it’s only because my gamer pride is a little wounded by my reliance on maps. I actually thoroughly enjoyed the gameplay, and the controls were smooth as silk. Nah, smooth as butter. Silky butter? Let’s go with that. I just have to face up to a sad fact of adulthood: even when I’m on break from school, my time is precious, and limited by the reality that I’ll be back at school in five weeks. So, I want to enjoy as many hobbies as I can in this period of time: I’ve got a stack of books I’d like to finish, a good handful of games I want to play, and even some tv shows I’d like to watch. This means that every minute spent messing around in a game that’s a little monotonous is just not cool.

So I’m doing that traditional grown-up thing where I blame most of my problems on a lack of time. While it’s true that time is of the essence as I move forward in my life, it’s also true that I’m way too good at wasting time: I sit at the computer and look up random bullshit way too often. I lurk message boards and read about games, which gets me stoked about those games, but then I play them for twenty minutes before I decide making another million bells in Animal Crossing is a more enjoyable activity. That’s pretty sad. I’d say I’m burnt out on games for the nonce, but that ain’t true – I’m gonna finish those Wario Land games. That is my solemn mission this winter.

So keep on gaming, folks. I know I’ll do the same.

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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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I Got Good News and Bad News

The good news may be summed up by the following photograph:

I did it! I finished something!

I did it! I finished something!

I upheld my Halloween tradition by playing a Castlevania game to completion, but the bad news is that it wasn’t Super Castlevania IV: it was Aria of Sorrow. Since I bought the game and showed it to you fine folks I’ve been playing it whenever I get some free minutes, and it just so happens that I reached the endgame stretch the night before October 31st. I booted the game up yesterday and gave the harbingers of chaos and evil what-for; I’d fulfilled my promise, to myself and to whomever is reading this bloggy mish-mash of my thoughts, to finish a Castlevania game before the end of October. Praise the Sun!

Dark Souls reference aside, I do feel a little guilty for neglecting to complete my single-sitting play-through of Super Castlevania IV; long story short, last year I almost beat the game in one sitting before I had to set off for work. I figured I’d pull out all the stops this year and really dedicate myself to the task, but man, sometimes life throws a lot of tasks at you at once. Here’s the list: my brother needed help filming a six-second video for a contest, my girlfriend and I wanted to watch Nosferatu for the first time, and finally we had a Halloween shindig to attend, replete with complicated corset and white makeup for ghoulish appearances, and, well, Super Castlevania IV just takes longer to finish than I remember. Remember what I said about me having a tough time keeping time? Yeah, those few tasks on my list yesterday made it hard to focus on Super Castlevania IV. I started the game, though! Honest, I did!

See? Lookit that awesome gravestone!

See? Lookit that awesome gravestone!

Oh my, now a bat's flying out of it! That's not ominous.

Oh my, now a bat’s flying out of it! That’s not ominous.

For the coup de grace, some creepy mist. Like I said, totally not ominous.

For the coup de grace, some creepy mist. Like I said, totally not ominous.

Take your whips in hand and have at the night, hunters of darkness!

Take your whips in hand and have at the night, hunters of darkness!

If only my flair for the dramatic translated into game-defeating energy, I may have finished Super Castlevania IV yesterday, but alas, time and tasks compounded to draw me away from Dracula’s foreboding castle. Still, I won’t be too hard on myself, since I vanquished the horrible night in Aria of Sorrow and sent the forces of darkness back to their dank hidey-holes. It was a good day, and a good night, all things told.

And yet, I’m ready to put the creepy goodness of October behind me and take in the chill November air with open arms. You know, open, sweater-sleeved arms, maybe with a jacket to boot, because it does get mighty cold down in my neck of the woods. Er, my neck of the neighborhood. The woods are closer to the mountains. Anyway, as I was saying, I’m ready for November. That single-night shift from the haunting Halloween shadows to the creeping November nights is almost a magical thing, where wind changes from macabre whispers to inviting murmurs and every cold front smiles and says “Come on out, you’ve got a nice sweater on.” I love it. The holidays are fast approaching but they’re not the only reason to love the somber steps toward winter; every warm cup of coffee, every minute spent alone with a book, every slow jazz song and every smooth sonata seem perfect in the frigid grip of changing seasons. Yeah, it’s getting colder and I’m getting older, but I still have my books, my blankets, my notebooks, my games – I have a lot of things to enjoy and in the still November nights, I have a lot of time to enjoy my things. Here’s to hobbies, folks, and the greatest times to pursue them.

So come walking on your slow icy feet, winter, and bring some snowflakes along, please. Nothing’s better than bundling up and relaxing with a good book as snow falls to cover the industrial wounds and asphalt iniquities of man.

P.S. The week preceding this entry was a little crazy, by the way; I read for class, as usual, found out my brother and I need to attend an exhausting morning class every session now or we fail, wrote a nine page paper, performed one more presentation for a different class, talked to an adviser and changed my major (while adding another one so I can double-major), registered my car the day before the registration expired, and just damn, man, it felt like a whole lot of crap. Important crap, but crap nonetheless. I hardly had time for the few friends I have, but as I wrote earlier, it’s time to say goodbye to October, and that means waving “So long” to most of the busy work. Things should be simpler now, until the end of the semester brings finals, more essays, and stress before that sweet release into free time and freedom.

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Damn, I Did it Again

Uh oh, is that another Castlevania game on your Wii U?

Uh oh, is that another Castlevania game on your Wii U?

Why yes. Yes it is. I’ve got this problem when it comes to Castlevania, and another problem with enjoying modern convenience, and when you throw those problems together in the middle of October while Nintendo decides to embrace the creepy Halloween spirit you get this concoction that sucks money out of my bank account.

I knew it was coming. That title that’s highlighted by my Wii U’s cursor is Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, and it’s the beautiful GBA Castlevania game that tuned my heartbeat to the rising and falling of Dracula, and the cracking and smacking of a Belmont’s whip. That’s not supposed to be dirty, I promise. I anticipated the release of Aria of Sorrow on the Wii U Virtual Console, because the prior two weeks saw the releases of Circle of the Moon and Harmony of Dissonance on the Virtual Console, respectively – they’re the two handheld Castlevania games that preceded the masterpiece that is Aria of Sorrow. Seeing this fantastic October trend and knowing of the GBA Castlevania triumvirate, I figured Nintendo and Konami would use the third week of the month to grace loyal gamers with the third, final, and best GBA Castlevania game (ok, that’s definitely just my opinion but a lot of Castlevania fans agree – Aria of Sorrow is generally considered the best handheld Castlevania game).

Anywho, why do I sound a little disappointed in this development? Well, shit – it’s because I’ve entered one of my phases of video gaming A.D.D. I’ve got, oh, something like five or six games on my brain. I’ve been listing them throughout my posting to this blog, and with the addition of Aria of Sorrow and one more game to my list, things are getting out of hand.

Wait? Did I just mention another game I’ve added to my list?

Oh yeah. You've gotta know what this means. And if you don't, I'll lay it on ya.

Oh yeah. You’ve gotta know what this means. And if you don’t, I’ll lay it on ya. Also, look: it’s me! Way to take a ridiculous picture, genius.

Yeah, that’s the title screen from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. You know, that big awesome open-world game that helped bring “nerd culture” to the mass market? I don’t know if I’d been ignoring the trend or if my rampant love of Skyrim just forced me to face it, but the things I love that used to be “weird” or “uncool” suddenly became “normal” a few years back. It’s funky, but the trend continues and I shouldn’t feel bad about it – I can wear a Mario shirt or my Zelda hoodie and expect comments from strangers. It’s a little exhilarating. Once again, though, I’ve got to look at this example of a great game with a little trepidation. Here’s why:

Wow, cool nod to Norse poetry and OH MY WORD, YOU'VE PLAYED THIS GAME A LOT!

Wow, cool nod to Norse poetry and OH MY WORD, YOU’VE PLAYED THIS GAME A LOT!

Yep. Four-hundred-and-eighty-ish hours in the wild and ravishing lands of Skyrim. And that’s just one character – all told I’ve spent something like 600 hours playing the game. I got it at midnight when it launched on November 11th, 2011, and didn’t really slow down my wanderings for about a year or so. Even after I finally did take my foot off the Elder Scrolls accelerator, I’d keep coming back to it periodically – ya know, when DLC added more cool places to explore and more badass armor to craft. I’d jump in for hours on end and only stop to go to the bathroom or eat a little something. Don’t wanna pass out while I trek across ice floes in search of Horkers and ancient ruins!

As you can see, I get a little caught up in my games sometimes. October is my month to geek out on the creep-out stuff and I’ve been a Castlevania fan since I was thirteen or so – I think that’s when Aria of Sorrow was first released. Still, in the land I call home, October is also a month of deepening chills and frigid nights, when a sweater may need to couple with a jacket to keep the cold air at bay. Hence, my almost ritualistic return to Skyrim – it’s cold in real life, it’s cold in the game, it just feels right, all right? Sorry, I didn’t mean to go all Tarantino on you folks – I just have to be a little wary of my habits. When I first played Skyrim, I was unemployed and in my last semester at my local community college. My class schedule was almost bare it was so light, and I found myself sinking deeper and deeper into that land on the northeastern edge of Tamriel. Now, well, I’m unemployed but just now getting into the swing of university life; I’ve figured out how and when I can get away with laziness, and when I can be lazy I boot up a game. Why, the whole time I’ve been writing this I’ve had Aria of Sorrow ready to go, just waiting for me to click on the “Publish” button.

Thus, damn, I did it again – I added another time-sink to my life, one more distraction from a real goal or purpose. Ah hell, I’m getting cynical; getting an education is a purpose in and of itself. I’ve got ideas for stories floating around my head, I’ve got another few nights to finish that seven-page essay, and money ain’t so tight it’s strangling me. I think I can afford to play a game or two in my free time.

So here I go – back to Dracula’s castle for some soul-stealin’ and blood-spillin’. 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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rambling

Midway Through the Murk

As I sit at my computer wondering how exactly I’ll update this blog, an image is frozen on my tv, paused by me so I could write down my thoughts. I’ll throw that image at you now.

That's Rondo of Blood on my formerly large tv. By modern standards, I think it's probably small. Damn.

That’s Rondo of Blood on my formerly large tv. By modern standards, I think it’s probably small. Damn.

Remember how I said I’ve played Rondo of Blood? Well, that was only a half-truth: see, when a gamer says “I’ve played that game,” that typically means the game was finished. You know, beaten, completed, conquered, vanquished – done in some way. I said I’ve played Rondo of Blood, but the tough truth of the matter is that I never played through Rondo of Blood to the end. This may be chalked up to two reasons: one, Rondo of Blood is fairly difficult, as far as Castlevania games go. I have this thing about Castlevania games where I suck at them (in a non-vampiric way, mind you) for a while and by the end I’m pretty competent. A lot of gamers will say this about older games: the difficulty curves were pretty crazy. Anyway, along with that difficulty comes the real reason I never finished Rondo of Blood: my girlfriend’s Wii is missing a few cables.

I mentioned before that I have a Wii U. Well, the beauty of going from a Wii to a Wii U is the possibility to transfer one’s Wii Virtual Console games to the Wii U’s Wii Channel (yeah, the Wii U has a whole channel that transforms it into a Wii on the side. It’s like, two consoles merged in one. Or maybe, like, ten consoles. I’m not sure how many consoles are covered by the Virtual Console service). My half-jokes aside (a lotta half-this and half-that tonight, sorry), I really like the idea of using just one machine to play a buncha different games, so I was all ready to move my Wii data to the Wii U. Then the case of the missing cables cropped up. Dreams? Shattered.

Along with the difficulty I have in mastering Castlevania games, I also have this unfortunate way of taking a long time to solve simple problems. I live at home and there’s a family Wii that I played long before my girlfriend let me borrow her Wii indefinitely; the family Wii is sitting out in the living room with its cables all fine and dandy. I’d been wondering where I could have stashed my girlfriend’s Wii’s cables for a week or two when I had an epiphany: use the other Wii’s cables, you dolt. A few swapped out cables later and I was in business.

The process of transferring the various games and save data took about half an hour, and once it was over I felt an abundance of joy. Now I don’t just have awesome Wii U games and Wii U Virtual Console stuff to enjoy, I also have access to all the games I bought years ago on the Wii. I can finally try to finish Rondo of Blood and prove my worth as a Castlevania player; as far as the grand list of Castlevania games goes, I can only think of three in my possession that I haven’t finished: Rondo of Blood, the newly acquired Dracula X, and Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse. That game is probably the hardest one in the series. Memories of it haunt me, which is awesome for October but really shitty for my self-esteem as a gamer.

Anyway, Rondo of Blood is calling me. Maybe Dracula is using some sort of dark power to beckon me toward him. We shall clash in the night as lightning splits the sky, and the moon will look on with a dour expression as I send the Prince of Darkness back to the dirt from whence he came. It’s October, it’s windy, and the night is dark and full of terrors. Whoops, that’s from A Song of Ice and Fire … happy gaming, folks!

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