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BoominGranny Blog

Dragonborn!

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This son-of-a-friend had a New Years resolution to learn The Song of the Dragonborn from Skyrim. The gods gave him two hands, and he used them both for his weapon. I can respect that. Go Hobbes!

(Oh, and regarding his choice in armour, he says “The outfit was the closest skyrimish thing i could find.. I'm a farmer with talent.”)

E3 Memories

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The first time I attended E3 was in 2002 - more than a decade ago. The big titles that year were DOOM 3, Kingdom Hearts, and Legend of Zelda - Windwaker. I had been dating a guy who was a level designer, and our trip to Los Angeles for E3 was our first vacation together. It was unlike anything I'd ever experienced before - the convention center, the noise, and oh sweet jeebus the games. When I found the stage for Kingdom Hearts, I squealed like a little girl and plopped myself down and watched the demo over and over and over. 

We were much less impressed with Dead to Rights, Namco's big entry for the year. The buildup had been huge - long wait lines to get into a small "room" that looked like a Japanese tea house and held about 20 people. The lights went out and the demo rolled... and *boom* boredom set in.  Of course the team thought they'd nailed it as they handed out the swag* - which we both declined to shocked faces. 

That E3 left me with two of my favorite memories, even after all these years.  The first was seeing my guy (now my husband) meet the people at the Rayman 3 booth.  One of the guys there was on the dev team for Rayman 2, which is one of my guy's favorite games of all time. I got to watch him turn into a total fanboy, and it was adorable. There is something really cool about meeting the people who make the games we love.

The other Best Moment Ever was when we were walking around the outer edges of the convention center looking for a friend of my guy who was with the Press. We'd wandered into an area with little conference rooms and doors to utility areas, peeking around to find him. My guy was focused on finding his friend, so focused that he didn't notice the half-open door to the dressing room for the women of Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Vollyball who were putting on their skimpy costumes.  I had to give him a nudge to get him to notice. Fun times.

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Back in those days (as a grandma I get to use that phrase a lot) people who actually worked on games would go be in the booths at E3. The event was a giant hype fest, but at least it was a hype fest for people who were "hands on" in gaming. Eventually it would become more of an orgy between the Marketing Department and the Press, and we stopped going. But I'm still a wee bit jealous of those who get to go and see all of the new stuff being released. Here's hoping the Gamespot staff has a wonderful time.

*By the way, SWAG was originally an acronym for "Stuff We All Get," pre-dating its use for the stupid "swagger" like kids these days. That's also something I get to say a lot. Peace out.

Summer time, the gaming's easy...

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I'm a grandma - but I also go to school full time on top of a 40 hour a week job, which doesn't leave me with nearly enough time for gaming. Thankfully school is out for summer, so I'm able to catch up with my current fave, Ni No Kuni. A marriage between Level 5 (Dragonquest anyone?) and Studio Ghibli created this pitch-perfect baby. 

Ni No Kuni gameplay

I'm about 60 hours in. I like to take my time grinding a bit, mostly because the boss battles in this will stomp your butt hard if you are not prepared.  This game has [SPOILERS]

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A ship you can sail, a dragon you can fly, and a casino where you can lose all your gold. It's a lot like Dragonquest VIII, but the leveling is automatic which takes the pressure off.  When my granddaughter is old enough, this will be her first RPG. The cut scenes are gorgeous, the towns are a delight to run around in, and there is a lot of adorable humor in the creature names. Plus, there is a wonderful vibe of manners and politeness that runs through the team's interactions. Anyhoo, those are my two cents. Boomin' Granny says "check this one out!"

Multi-generational Mega Man

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Back in the late '80s, I was stuck at home with two kids under 5 and my NES. We couldn't afford a lot of games, so I made do with Mario and Duck Hunt, and a borrowed copy of Contra. Having grown up on arcade games, I didn't need a lot of games; it was plenty exciting to not have to pump quarters into a machine for a chance to play. My life changed the day I got my hands on Mega Man.

Developed by Capcom and released in 1987, this awesome side-scrolling platformer changed my world. I goofed around in the worlds, fighting Bomb Man and Cut Man without much thought. Then I got stuck... it took a while to figure out there was a pattern to which Robot Master you should go after first, since that meant you'd absorb their powers, making it easy to defeat some bosses.

ELECMAN

Between loads of laundry and diaper changes and story time, I'd get in some game play. It took months, but eventually I defeated all of the "Mans." I thought "awesome, go me!" But being a general n00b to gaming, I had no idea that defeating them was not the end of the game.

what. the. hell.

"Wiley's Fortress?" Great, there's all this other stuff I still have to do! It took me forever to make my way through the fortress to the final boss battle. When you play games with kids around, you have to learn how to deal with distractions, and be really quick on the pause (you never know when your toddler is going to decide to wake her baby brother up by dropping a bucket of Duplo's on his head). The downside is that it can take you a lot longer to work your way through a game than most people. On the upside, it was the "pause" maneuver that helped me master the trick to beating Dr. Wiley.

Using Elec Man's power, if you jump and fire, you can pause and release about four times per fire. This will result in four times the damage on Wiley. Boom, game over, mom wins.

As the kids grew a little older, they learned to have fun watching me play. And when I got a SNES, they inherited the NES and became gamers themselves. Both of them love the Mega Man franchise, and a few years ago my son made me an awesome poster of Mega Man surrounded by all his foes. As much as I cherish that gift, this one tops it: My grand daughter wants to be Mega Man this year for Halloween. She hardly ever takes this hat off ever since her mother found it at Comic Con. She's a third-generation Mega Man fan.:D

L.A. Not

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L. A. Noire had everything I wanted, on paper anyway. Cool "L.A. Confidential-y" kind of plots, dames and smokes and the open world of the town in which I grew up (albeit about 30 years before I was born). What could go wrong?

  1. The so-called "open world" had nothing on the environments I was used to in Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. I couldn't get anything to happen if I got out of the car, more than wander around streets. Not what I was used to by far.
  2. Speaking of the car, what the hell is wrong with a game that doesn't have efficient traffic controls yet expects you to obey the rules of the road? I know I'm supposed to "protect and serve," but if you are going to penalize me for bumping into a car, you should build a world where if there is a red light for cross traffic, they STOP. It took me a while to figure out how/to let my partner do the driving. That helped, but it couldn't prevent the game's third strike.
  3. Aaron Staton's distinctive face and voice are used as Cole Phelps. This would be fine for NPC types. But I can't immerse myself in "my" character if I a look and sounds exactly like that dude from Mad Men.

I tried really hard to like this game. I gave it about 45 minutes the first time, then tossed it aside. Then, I read Carolyn's review and thought, "huh, she's really got some good points about the game, I'll give it another try." But it just doesn't deliver for me. I'll just wait for Skyrim. :D

L.A. Noir

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Today is the day I start to play. Wish me luck, I have to beat it before school starts on 8/27.


So Called "Girl Games"

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I was listening to NPR this week and heard something special. A woman was on, talking about how reading some book impacted her job as CEO of a game dev company. "We make games for girls," she said. "Instead of guns and violence, there is social interaction."

Well thank you, missy, for making the world a better place for those of us with XX chromosomes. Bless your heart, you can save me and my delicate feminine offspring from games where we might have to shoot a zombie.

The piece ticked me off for two reasons. 1) What if I like a good violent video game? Does that make me less of a female? (Hang on a sec', I have to take my peach galette out of the oven). I happen to subscribe to the psychological theory that when one plays a video game, one is acting out, and in effect, releasing negative energies and emotions via a socially acceptable channel. This is I am really really good at "Burnout Revenge," because IRL I am a good driver. Most of the time, anyway.

The bigger tick-off was for this: Why not just make Games? Why does there even have to be a gender qualifier in the mix? I'm pretty sure that when Miyamoto made "Super Mario Brothers," he wasn't thinking "now, which gender will this appeal to more?" He was just making a great freakin' game.
Same with Takahashi and "Katamari Damacy," or just about any other legendary game developer. Not "boys or girls," not "violence or social interaction." Both are false choices, by the way. Make a great game and anyone will play it.

The History of BoominGranny

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My first exposure to console gaming was via an Atari 2600. "Asteroids" kept me up late at night, always trying to best my last high score. Pouring quarters into arcade machines was the only "real" way to play video games back then - our local Pizza Hut had a neat arcade built inside, as did the bowling alley. My favorite games then were "Ms. Pac Man," "Centipede," and "Mr. Do's Castle." These turned out to be the gateway drug to my new addiction. NES came my way, soon followed by a SNES. By then I had a pre-schooler and an infant, but I was able to balance bottle feeding with holding a controller, and Super Mario Brothers became the best friends of this stay-home mom. As my kids grew, so did my taste in games, and to my delight, they shared my interest. Some of my fondest memories are of co-op battles in "Twisted Metal" after a long day at work. Eventually my love of games led me to find love with a game designer. When we met, his work on a AAA title swept me off my feet. He sealed the deal by buying me a Dreamcast, and soon I impressed him with my ability to beat "Mr. Driller" with a score so high I was granted the title of "Master Driller." Now our whole family plays games. The kids (now young adults) play a lot of PC titles (WoW, minecraft, etc) but console titles remain favorites (especially any Legend of Zelda or Final Fantasy games). My son has a Square Enix collection that would many would envy. My daughter has placed in the top ten on her server for "Team Fortress." And now my granddaughter is showing an interest, even though she is only two. (Before anyone freaks out, we plan on limiting her time appropriately. ) So, that's my game background. I don't believe in console wars (buy them all!) and I think to argue "Hardcore games" vs. "casual games" is equally ridiculous (I like to think I am hardcore about casual games). And even though I'm approaching 50, I still love to blast the head off a zombie, or sneak up on a goblin and take him out with an elven arrow.