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Gaming: Phase II

Anyone who still follows me (I have no idea why anyone would anymore) would know, I've been gone since 2008. It turns out that parents of young children, who are working their way through grad school, have almost no time for gaming, and absolutely no time to write about gaming.

My oldest child just turned six, and has already been interested in games for several years. He is now old enough to successfully play two-player games with, and to vocalize his opinions about certain games. I'm almost through with grad school, and my youngest is now walking and talking. Things have slowed down just enough to catch up on gaming.

About 90% of my gaming consists of Mario, Sonic, and other kid-friendly options with my children. This is actually a lot of fun and makes for good bonding time. I always enjoyed submittng game reviews, and have decided to review some of my kids' games from a parent perspective. This will not be of much interest to anyone who used to follow me (unless they have had children since '08), but they may useful to any other reformed gamers who are now attempting to be responsible parents.

Back to Gaming

I haven't blogged in quite awhile because so much was going on in my life. After almost eight years, I got my black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. My wife and I are also expecting another child. Other than that, I was just working, spending time with my wife and son, and riding my motorcycles (which became my passion instead of gaming).

On June 10, 2008 I was involved in a serious accident at work and was hospitalized for 11 days. I left with a broken pelvis, some internal injuries, and 49 staples in my left arm. This naturally gives me a lot of down time at home. My burthday was several days after I got released from the hospital, and I got enough new games to keep me busy for quite awhile.

Regardless of the injuries, I consider this to have been a valuable experience. It gave me a new appreciation for how great my life with my family is, and how many good friends I have. I am already walking again, and I will be able to return to BJJ in two more weeks. My MMA career is probably over, but I was getting older anyway and was very close to retirement before the accident. Also, because I was hurt at work, worker's comp took care of all medical bills and I have been given all of the time I need to recover with full pay. My wife is a teacher who is taking next year off to be with our soon to be born child, so she is home with me and my son. He's actually gotten a little spoiled to having both mom and dad home all day with him. We have actually had a lot of great times together, even if I can't walk around for too long. God has really taken care of me and I know how fortunate I am.

I got Lego Indiana Jones, No More Heroes, and the light gun Resident Evil game for my Wii, and Assasin's Creed for my PS3. I'll be alternating between these games for the next few weeks. I'm still spending most of my free time with my family, and I am able to take short rides on the Harley, but I should get at least a few hours worth of gaming per week. I hope to see you guys around on the forums.

Nintendo Hates Me.

My Wii broke in April, and I had to send it back to Nintendo for repair. Nintendo sent me a letter saying they had provided me with refirbished unit, and all of my game save data was lost. I was not happy about this because Ihad a little over 10 hours of progress saved in Twilight Princess.

Due to my work schedule and family life, I just didn't feel lik eI had time to replay the first 10 hours, so I hadn't picked up the game since. I was posting on GS and relized that I vabe never finished a Wii game. While I will never finish most of the Wii games I bought because I think they are crap (Spider Man in particular). I think Paper Mario mixes the least likeable aspects of RPG's with the least fun parts of the usual Mario games, and I will never regret not finishing that one (even thought I am apparently the only gamer on earth who hates this game).

It occurred to me that RE4 and Twilight Princess are good games, but I just never finished them die to time restraints. I decided to finally give Zelda another try, so I inserted the disc and started it up. To my surprise, my save data was still there from April.

While I was happy to see my data intact, I felt cheated out of 8 months of gaming. I know I should've checked when the Wii came back in the mail, but I trusted Nintendo. So far, I ahve had horrible luck with the Wii. Most of the games absolutely suck, but I can't resist the idea of playing Twilight Princess and Mario Galaxy. I wish I could just go ahead and hate this console with all of my heart, but the VC and the three or four classic franchises that I remember from childhood keep me from throwing the system out the window.

I got a new bike.

For the past few months, all of my free time was spent either riding my Harley Sportster or playing the new Ratchet and Clank for the PS3. My wife has always hated Ratchet and Clank games, and refuses to sit in the same room with me when I play them. I was able to convince her to go on a ride with me though.

While my wife still hates Ratchet, she liked the bike. We went to the Harley dealership this weekend to get a backrest put on the Sportster so it would be more comfortable for her. While we were there, I saw a used Softtail that caught my eye. I'm a big guy (6'5", 250 lbs), so theSportster was a little small for me.It was a great bike, but it is not the best suited for a man my size who wants to take a passenger. My wife agreed, and we traded up for the new bike.

Now, we have a beautiful full-sized Harley that has become my everyday transportation. I look forward to many trips around Dallas with my wife on the bike. We haven't been able to ride together very much yet due to a lack of child care. We havefriends and family who are willing to watch our son, but we feel bad imposing too often while he is still so young. This will proabably change as the weather warms up and he learns a few more words and becomes potty-trained.

My wife also bought me a copy of Super Mario Galaxy for Christmas. This means that as soon as I've had my fill of Ratchet and Clank (which will still last for a few months) and it is too cold to ride, I'll have another grat game to occupy my time. My wife rocks!

Renewed Love

Several weeks ago I pre-ordered Ratchet and Clank fot the PS3. It is the first game I have ever pre-ordered, but I am such a huge fan of the series that I just had to pick this one up ASAP. The game came in today, and I picked it up as soon as I got up.

I was blessed enought to get a few uninterrupted hours with the game while my son took a nap. My love for games is renewed! I will be playing this one endlessly for weeks to come. It's getting colder here, so my Harley won't see as much road time, and I don't have any fights coming up, so I'm on a relaxed training schedule. This leeaves plenty of time for gaming.

I plan to ride this one into the release of Mario Galaxy for the Wii. I was getting very put out by the lack of releases that interest me on the PS3 or the Wii, but I should be set for several months. There was a time when I would play several games a month, but now, one game everyfew months is plenty. I'll be working a few more hours than normal atmy job, so Istill won't have lots of gaming time, but I'll have enough. Family and job are going well, so everything is looking up.

Huge EGM Error on pg. 14

I usually don't post blog's this close to each other, but something upset me today as I was reading the August issue of EGM. I got a free EGM subscription when the Playstation magazine In subscribed to went under. I have never been a fan of the magazine, but read it from time to time when I was bored.

In this issue, EGM decides to write yetanother article about video-game violence, that willclearly only be read by gamers and won't be taken seriously by any legitimate organization. I gues EGM may have realized that the article was pretty much worthless, so they decided to spice it up by giving real weapons to pro gamers to see if they had any actual skill.

Despite the obvious fact that it is never a good idea to givelive firearmsto people withno training, EGMdecided to proceed with this article. They picked two twin femalegamers to arm for the article. Apparently, EGM thinks articles are more scientific if you use cute blonde girls.

The article is pointless fluff, but is accompanied by a picture on page 14. In this lovely picture, readers get to see one Frag Doll smiling while giving the "thumbs up" with her left hand. The only problem is that her right hand contains a possibly loaded 9 mm pistol which is pointed directly at her twin sister's torso. To make matters worse, her finger is on the trigger.

Anyone who has ever set foot on a gun range ( and most intelligent people in general) knows to always treat all weapons as if they are loaded. They are also taught that you never point a gun at anyone or anything you don't intend to shoot, and to never hold a gun with your finger on the trigger. Apparently, no one decided to bother telling this to the twins.

This is the first thing I have ever seen in a magazine that honestly offends me. I think that it makes gamers not only look foolish, but it is completely contradictory to the point of the article. If the photo was a mistake, then there is no excuse for an editor not to have caught this. If it was done on purpose, then the people respnonsible have no business being involved in any sort of publication.

A Message to Developers about Game Length.

I have been gaming for years, and have dedicated much of my income to the hobby. I used to feel that game developers were constantly coming out with games that were designed for me. From what I can tell, developers now only want to cater to people with severe ADHD, or unemployed insomniacs.

I own a Wii, and so far consider it the worst gaming purchase of my gaming career. I look forward to what I hope the system will one day provide, but can't really stand to play it right now. Note to Nintendo: Not Everyone Loves Minigames!

If you can't focus on one game with one style of gameplay for more than 2 minutes at a time, then you need a prescription for Ritalin more than you need video games. Wii sports was great, but the ten consecutive knock-offs have lost their luster. I feel there should be more to a video game than just waving a stick one way for two minutes, then waving it another way for the next two minutes, and so on.

As far as my unemployed insomniac comment, not all of us have 50 plus hours to dedicate to a videogame. I don't care if a game is a Zelda title, making it exceptionally long does not mean that it is any better than the ones that came before it. Developers need to realize that their obsession with length is very misplaced.

No other entertainment medium tries to convince consumers that their product is beter because it takes longer to enjoy. You will never see publishers claim "This book is the best on the market beacuse it offers 35,000 pages of reading enjoyment." No music company or star will start releasing 45 minute songs and claim they are better than others because they last longer. Lastly, you never hear anyfilm critics sayign that a certain movie is great just because it is incredibly long. My time is valuable, and I do not feel that I got my$60.00 worth of next-gen gaming just because there was an additional 20 hours of repetitive gameplay.

It makes me sick that critics knock Heavenly Sword because it takes less than 20 hours to complete. I would much rather play 8-10 hours of a quality title, than be forced to dedicate what equates to a full work week to slow and tedious gameplay. IT's safe to say that I won't be playing the Wii again until Mario Galaxy is released, but I live in fear that the next installment of the classicplatforming series will be nothing more than 70 plus hours of minigames.

Biding my time until Oct. 23rd

Since buying my PS3, I have had very few moments of gaming happiness with the system. I bought a few titles, and rented some other with very lukewarm results.

I bought Virtua Fighter 5 with the system, and just couldn't get into it. You can call me a casual gamer if you want, but the combos were just too complicated. I don't care how much the hardcore gamers love the VF series, ther is no reason that a video game about fighting should be more difficult than actual fighting.

I also pickup up Call of Duty 3 and The Darkness. I enjoyed Call of Duty and loved the Darkness. While I thought this would mean great things for my new system, I had to admit that both of these titles were also available on the 360.

Then I made the jump into the 21st century and actually downloaded Warhawk. I spent about a week enjoying the action and being impressed that it had all been available over the internet. Then I realized that without any single player story mode, the game was 100% hollow. With no backstory or characters, there was no way to become attached to or care about whatever imaginary conflict is the focus of the game. Add the frustration of only being able to compete against hardcore gamers with no tutorial whatsoever, and you have a complete waste of money that can't even be traded in for credit at Gamestop.

I loved my PS2 and think that Ratchet and Clank is one of the best video game franchises in history. Ratchet for PS3 is scheduled for release on Oct. 23rd. I am definitely buying this title, but it is the last chance I am giving the PS3. Unless this game shows me that there is some reason to keep playing $60 games on my $600 system, then I will keep it. If the game disappoints me as much as the other PS3 titles, then I will just have to admit defeat and sell the thing.

If I get rid of the PS3, it will probably be then end of most of my gaming. I have a Wii, but have spent more time replaying old favorites on the VC than on new titles. I look forward to playing the Wii with my son when he gets older, but don't really use it much now.

I have really gotten into riding my motorcycle recently and haven't had much time for games. Hopefully, Sony will come up with something to make me feel like I didn't throw away the equivillent of 4 motorcycle payments on a powerful paperweight.

I Bought a Harley. The GS Ads Worked.

As kind of a spur of the moment thing, I went out and bought a Harley Davidson motorcycle on Monday. I rode a 1973 BMW R60/S motorcycle in college because I could not afford to insure a car. I loved riding, even in winter (which is very cold and windy in Lubbock, TX). I sold the bike when I graduated, but always thought I'd get another one.

Over the years, I looked at bikes every now and then, but could never justify the expense. New BMW's and Harleys were out of my price range and my credit rating wasn't strong enough. As I have gotten older my income and credit increased, and I figured why not get the bike. My wife was very understanding, and supported my decision (after we got her a new SUV).

I was somewhat responsible with my purchase. I bought a 2007 Sportster 883 Custom with 1000 miles on it. The sticker price was lower because it was used and you don't have to pay the extra freight and delivery charges on a used bike. The bike is a little small for me, but it was one that I can afford and I shouldn't lose money on it even if I decide to sell it within a year. If I still love riding, then I may trade up for a larger model in a few years. For now, I couldn't be happier with the bike.

This has caused me to spend most of my free time riding, and I really haven't been gaming much. I'm enjoying the bike more than I would any of the games that are currently out for the PS3 or Wii. This will probably change whenever the new Ratchet and Clank and Mario Galaxy are released.

Zelda Challenged

I have a college degree and my career involves a great deal of problem solving. I have been gaming for 20 years and have beaten a lot of tough games. Still, the Zelda series is giving me fits, and it's bothering me.

I lost all of my save data when I sent my Wii in for service, and haven't gotten over the frustration of losing about 10 hours of gameplay on Twilight Princess. I played A Link to the Past on my DS, and stopped at the second dungeon due to frustration. Now, I'm playing through The Minish Cap on my DS. I like the game, but I'm actually having to refer to walkthroughs much more than I like.

I have never backed down from a challenge, even if it means spending hours on a GBA game when I have a PS3 and a Wii that I have been dying to play more often. I can't figure out why the games give me such trouble. Am I the only one that has this problem with the Zelda series?

The only Zelda game I have ever beaten is The Adventure of Link on the NES when I was in eight grade. So now, I'm stuck playing a game that is several generations old, just out of spite and to avoid my feelings of failure. I hope to eventually beat this one, but I can't make any promises.