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Tale of a new Gamer Dad: Sleeping Dungeon

April 6, 2012 Leave a comment

There will be many trials when you’re a new parent.

Other parents will give advice but when it all comes down to it, you have to experience everything yourself.  There is no equation on how to be a perfect parent.  Each circumstance will be unique. One cannot tell someone what being a parent is like.  It’s like Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, one must travel up and see the light themselves to understand.

If parenting was like gaming, then it would be like a massive Role Playing Game where you battle the world and all that is evil and hope to teach your child to live right.  But before you can begin to do that, your child relies on you 100% of the first few years of her life and this will be the hardest training exercise ever.  Man has persevered through the centuries while the weaker animals have become extinct because of our ability to endure the first few months of parenthood.

My daughter is going to be one year. Our second child is on the way in August.  Things will only get more complicated.  In the first year of my daughter’s life, I learned that changing diapers is not as difficult as I anticipated.  The sleeplessness is something I could never have imagined.

This blog was started out under the pretense that I am a lifelong gamer and as one grows older responsibilities mount and it’s harder to find time to game.  Never has this been more true then with fatherhood.  Fatherhood is a treasure and I enjoy my weekend mornings with my daughter under the shade of the trees at the park, far away from my gaming devices.  I cannot help to feel most alive during these moments.  There is nothing I would rather do than spend time with my daughter, but let’s also be realistic, babies do sleep and nap and these are the times when people start to get back to their hobbies.  The first few months are impossible as you are dedicating all your time to late night feedings, but then your baby starts to sleep through the night and sit up on her own. This gives you chance to pursue some of those things you did before you became a parent.

I love reading books, playing guitar, writing, and gaming.  I pretty much stuck to these few items.  I gave up gaming until dawn, playing baseball on Sundays, and the luxury of sleeping in until mid-day like I assume Link would do if he wasn’t saving Hyrule.

So if there was a Parenthood RPG, your first task would be to build your character and acquire energy, stamina and special powers like “story-telling” or a “comforting and a sleep inducing voice.”  Once the baby arrives, the parents are drained from these powers, but those who persevere and see the beauty that is their child growing up quickly before their very eyes, start to use these parenting abilities, but it’s a never ending struggle.

I’ve been playing Zelda:Skyward Sword lately and my favorite character has to be the man who is married to the lady who sells potions and has his newborn on his back in an ergo carrier.  If you visit him at night he also has the daunting task of putting his fussy baby to sleep.  I knew I had to help him.  Me and him are brother in arms, (Arms that rock babies to sleep).  We both come from the same army of dads who have to endure the late night rocking of the sleepless baby.

Zelda Dad

Out of the bunch of mini-games available Wii Party, there is one game where you rock a baby and if you don’t keep a rhythm, your baby will not sleep.  Unfortunately it is not that simple.  This is how my baby rocking experience goes when the parent steps into the Baby Rocking Dungeon, don’t bother searching for a map or key, it’s you against the boss, the “Sleepy baby that refuses to sleep!”

I walk into the room and she is turning. Her body is twisted and contorted.

Her eyes are closed but her cries are increasing in volume.

I stare at her and hope that perhaps she’ll feel comfort in the fact I am now awake with her,

She cries and begins stretching out arms,

I pick her up and she instantly quiets down and closes her eyes.

Her body relaxes and I look at the clock to mark the time.

I tell myself, “give her five minutes of the rocking motion and then set her down gently.”

I rock her back and forward, I walk about the room in a random pattern to simulate perhaps a car-ride which has proven to induce sleep,

She moves herself from her head on my shoulder to the reclined position and is now cradled in my arms, which facilitates putting her down,

I lift her up ever so slightly so she clears her cradle, she opens her eyes sightly as she senses a shift in her gravitational pull.

As I begin her slow decent towards the mattress, she arches her back and lets out a scream!

A heart goes down on my health meter to indicate I’ve been beaten,

I pick her up and mark the time so I can decide when to set her down again.  The Cycle continues until finally the baby is breathing heavily and both her arms are heavy.  This means you’ve solved the puzzle on how to get her to sleep.  You set her down.

She lets out a little peep and slowly turns over and sleeps through the next 6 hours.

Warning: If you attempt to set her down too early, there is a chance she will completely wake up and then you’ll have to be up another hour or so instead of enjoying the sleep reward.

Good Luck Gamer Parents!

3D and Gaming

March 15, 2011 Leave a comment

“And a game of war among youngsters during a period of recreation, or a game of robbers-that too, is a sort of nascent art, an emerging need for art in the young soul, and these games are sometimes even better conceived than theater performances, with the only difference that people go to the theater to look at the actors, and here young people are themselves the actors. But it’s only natural”

Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov.

Yesterday I went to Best Buy to purchase a video game. I’ve been carrying some gift cards in my wallet since the holidays and it was time I infused money back to the gaming economy.

I hadn’t made up my mind what game I wanted, but as I approached the video game section I saw a 3D TV with a pair of 3D glasses and two controllers. On display in the PS3 was MLB the Show 11. A brother and sister were playing and the older brother was desperately trying to teach his sister how to hit the ball. “This sucks”, she muttered as she couldn’t figure out the timing on her swing.

I wanted desperately to put the glasses on and take a look for myself however, it appeared as if they were going to be a while as their parents shopped for electronics in peace.

I decided to peruse the games section to see if I finally make up my mind on which game to buy. There was BulletStorm and Killzone 3. I heard both games are great, but I wanted to take some time off from the shooter category as it seems the industry is inundated with this type of game. I saw that Final Fantasy XI was now dropped to only 29 dollars. I always loved this game but didn’t have time to play it before; but I decided against this purchase because I wanted something recent.

As I go through the isle of PlayStation games and then Xbox and Wii, nothing stands out as worthy.  As I make the turn back to the 3D TV it appears to be open, but as I turn the corner I see a small boy perhaps age 4 or 5 and he has the glasses on and appears to be in full game mode with hands clutched to the controller and tongue sticking out in obvious concentration.

I thought I could just take a peak of the game so I went for the glasses and left the controller alone because I didn’t want to ruin his gaming experience.  As I reached for the glasses he orders me, “Get…Play…Us”.  He pointed at the controller and he was frustrated because he was playing the 2 player game the previous duo were playing and he was forced to control both the batter and pitcher.  “Oh, you want me to play?” I say.  I grab the controller and I was Tim Lincecum.  He was the Padres.

3D Glasses

The child beckoned me to pick up the controller and play a game of baseball.

At first the 3D effect looked distorted, similar to how it looked without the glasses. I couldn’t tell if I had defective glasses or if my eyes were defective.  I let the pitch go and Lincecum threw a 93 MPH fast ball to the lower left corner and it hit the dirt before it even crossed home plate.  I was trying to lob it for the small child, but I missed my target and he swung and missed.  The boy took off his glasses angrily and left.

I then proceeded to strike out the batter myself so I can check out the effects. I was amazed at how the ball looked coming at me in 3D.  The 3D effect was evident while observing the pitcher in between pitches as the view of the game is from the catcher’s view point.  You can see far off in the distance, the fans and the outfielders, but during this particular screen shot your focus is on the ball.  It was pure fascination when I saw the ball coming out of the hand in the 3D realm.  In previous baseball simulators, sometimes it is hard to judge when the pitch is a ball or a strike so gamers swing at anything, but with 3D, it seemed a little better to judge the ball movement.

I thought 3D TV was going to be a fad, and it very well could be, but once the price goes down, I really wouldn’t mind spending some gaming time playing baseball indoors as it rains outside.  It’s not exactly “real” baseball but with the 3D use, the simulation just got a little more interesting.

I ended up purchasing Dragon Age 2 but on my mind the rest of the night, I was thinking of ways I can get my hands on a 3D TV for my gaming lair.  Also, I sure hope that toddler works on his batter’s eye because he was really reaching out of the strike zone.

Apology to EA

January 2, 2011 Leave a comment

“If I can repay thee by taking vengeance upon some arrogant villain who may have offended thee, know that my profession is none other than to defend those who are defenseless, and to avenge those who are wronged, and to punish malfeasance.”
Don Quixote, Miguel De Cervantes

Dearest Electronic Arts,

First of all, I’d like to wish you a Happy New Years.  I know you’ve been distant for a while now and I think I know why.  A few weeks ago I foolishly released an ill-advised rant against Medal of Honor.  When we pass by I feel your cold shoulder as your avoidance is like icicles falling on my head penetrating my heart.  This silence treatment is warranted as I was foolish in pin-pointing your hard work as something that was “rushed” and “a grenade of a game.”

That can not be furthest from the truth.  All games in fact are lovely pieces of art that do not gather dust because they are in the CD cases you sell them in.  While some may see the ugly in a picture of beauty, others can see the essence of the artwork and appreciate it.  It is rare that art is ugly.  Also know that when you love someone very much you are not afraid to show your ugly side.  In fact, you are more apt to showing your ugly side to those you love.  I think it’s because subconsciously we know that our loved ones will forgive us.

Years ago I purchased EA games at the drop of the hat, regardless of reviews.  Now the market is so inundated with games that reviews are more likely to persuade a buying decision; Even reckless blogs who have no reason to knock someone down.  I would walk by you in the isle of Toys’R Us and you’d say, “pick up this paper tag of Mutant League Football and take it the cashiers, she will ring you up and you can pick me up behind the glass encasing.  You see, I am so valuable that kids and even immature adults will try to steal me.”  And I listened and I enjoyed all your games with no remorse. I still recall one of the great lines from the opposing team’s coach. “His momma called him Sonny-boy, but now they call him Smudge!”, he heckled after one of his mutant players pulverized my player with a brutal tackle.

Mutant League Football

Sega Genesis owners enjoyed a mutant variation of Madden Football

Video games are like movies or any other work of art.  This was not the public’s perception before, but now I think the shift in thinking is that the games are far more advanced and immersive as far as their story telling capabilities.  If one thinks a game is not to their liking, there is probably a million others who feel differently.  So when one lets out a public rant about how awful a game is, it only looks bad on the author.

Leave the business of bashing a game to the professionals, that is what I learned.  It’s a new year and I wanted to clean this issue between us.  I heard a lot of good things about Mass Effect 2.  I promise to spend as much time with you as we did before.  Please don’t revoke my Madden account.

Life is about learning from your mistakes and forgiving those you love for making mistakes.  Last I checked you had a market value of over 5 billion, but I know your heart is even larger.  I hope you read this letter and agree, but if not, I wrote a poem to convince you.

Love,

DrGonzo619

 

 

Sonnet to Electronic Arts (In key of E)

 

From the time of adolescent gaming,

I’ve been a fan collecting every game,

could not clear Road Rash, I was complaining,

my savvy play in Madden brought me fame.

 

Admiration for the graphics adorn,

mind is ravishing with puzzles produced,

Quake hits our Sim City and we’re forlorn

Play madden, read defense, “blitz” they deduce,

 

You care about us even though we rant,

plan my life and juggle time like a Sim,

online game and conquer from the distant.

no regret if I buy game on a whim.

 

You are great despite what others retort,

You are far more than simply EA Sports.

 

Unfinisable game award goes to... Road Rash

A game I never finished but spent many hours trying. It caused me much grief; EA's Road Rash on the Sega Genesis

 

Playstation3 goes on the fritz

December 13, 2010 Leave a comment

“Empty and profitless thoughts, as always during a tedious time of waiting, crept into his head…”  Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

It was pre-dawn Sunday morning.  My wife was asleep, as most normal people are at 2AM, but after a hectic work week, I decided to take advantage of some idle time and ignore sleep.  It was so late in fact, that no one on my friends list was even playing. Before I turned the PlayStation on, I thought to myself, “If I see someone online playing Call of Duty, I’ll join, otherwise I’ll play some baseball.”  But turns out all my friends are the normal types who sleep at night so I loaded MLB the show.  I might be one of the few who still actually plays this game months after the San Francisco Giants won the pennant.  Little did I know that this late night leisure time would soon turn to horror.

The game loaded like normal.  I spread some training points around that I had left over.  Then after the game started, my player took his last plate appearance, not knowing it would be the last pitch he would see of his illustrious career.  As the pitcher released a breaking ball, it broke my PS3 as the system just turned itself off.

I shrugged it off as nothing and I restarted the PlayStation.  It loaded.  This is where a smart gamer would have backed up all his data.  But instead I decided to try playing again.  Same thing, but this time the PS3 froze when the game was initially loading.  It didn’t even let me get into the game menu.

Silence struck my household as the cold breeze outside was nothing compared to the cold feeling running through my body when I came to the sudden realization that my PS3 had experienced something similar to the Xbox’s “Red Ring of Death.”  I thought the system was immune to giving a gamer grief; but I was wrong.  It seems the only system capable of withstanding time is the Wii.  My Wii has been dropped, and manhandled as we carried it to household gatherings during the holidays, and has yet to cease working.

PS3 with wings

The room was filled with an empty feeling as the PS3 took the virtual lives of two Road to the Show players.

I called the Sony support line and it looks like despite the system failure, it turns out Sony is offering me an upgrade for the new slimmer PS3.  I will lose all my game data, but at least I’ll have a newer smaller system.  There is a silver lining in the dark cloud of a game system failure after-all.

However, there are two casualties of the system failing and my irresponsible behavior to not back up my game data. Now my Road to the Show players will never get to win the big game, start in an All-Star Game, or get voted into the Hall of Fame.  All those MLB training points I purchased like an electronic version of steroids will go down the drain!  No longer will I get to see my player grow old and play a full prestigious career in the Show.

As I wait for the box to arrive to send my PlayStation 3 to Sony, I realize how much the Blu Ray movie feature is a staple in our household viewing diet.  There are 3 NetFlix movies that will be sitting idle in my closet until I get my system fixed or replaced.  Until then, I’ll read Dostoevsky to try to take my mind off the tragedy of my two fallen MLB the Show careers that will never be recovered again, because after-all, nothing gets your mind off game system failures like a little bit of inter-family squabble.

Looks like I’ll be on my Xbox and Wii for a while.  Time to practice some Mario Cart for those looming fierce Holiday battles ahead with the family.

Kiss Original PS3 Goodbye

You don't miss something until it's gone.

Mario Galaxy 2 – Great Space Coaster

July 12, 2010 Leave a comment

“Cyclops, if anyone ask you who is it that put your eye out and spoiled your beauty, say it was the valiant warrior Ulysses, son of Lærtes, who lives in Ithaca.”

Homer, Odyssey

The Great Space coaster was like Sesame Street but for a slightly older age group. The show featured a clown, Baxter, from outer space with a ridiculously large head.  He played the Baxaphone (a space-aged saxophone) and looked a lot like Jack, from Jack in the Box, but this clown was overweight and had a full head of orange shag hair. Then there was the news with Gary Ganu.  A savvy newsman who had a strange speech pattern in which  all words starting with a letter “N” had to be preceded by a “G”.  This is exactly the kind of madness one might see if they where teleported to the environment in Mario Galaxy 2.

The Great Space Coaster

Launched into lunacy on the Great Space Coaster.

Mario Galaxy presents Mario with the same type of outer space lunacy. The game is 3-D which makes it different from the traditional Mario games, but you still have the classic Mario Brother’s characters.  The game is really simple and takes full advantage of all of the Wii features. There is even a Co-Op mode if someone is bored watching you, they can pick up the Wii controller and help you distract enemies or capture coins.  However, I can’t imagine to many people pleased in just pointing at characters while you ride the green beast named Yoshi.

Mario is a modern-day Ulysses, he faces frighteningly ferocious foes at the end of each level and he is unyielding to the impending dangers ahead of him.  Courage in the face of adversity, that is what makes heroes.  To go ahead with your head held high even when you know the odds are stacked against you.  Somehow, in the end, things are going to fall in your favor and the Princess will be safe again.

I am part of a rare breed of gamers who is familiar with all game genres and buy for all the systems.  Some gamers have loyalty to a particular system, but I feel it’s best to have an open mind and enjoy games on all platforms.  There is a known circle of gamers  who work for the City in downtown San Diego and they also share the same philosophy. When the PSP first came out, I would see them gathered around a deli nearby Civic Center Plaza.  Lunch time is usually reserved for walking around downtown or enjoying the various lunch locations or even going out for a quick jog; but this group would congregate daily in this high traffic section of downtown with PSPs in hand.  I was awestruck.  Now that is dedication to gaming.

When I spoke to one of them after discussing the business of a peculiar financial transaction I said,  “Thanks for helping me with that issue…so did you get the new Mario Galaxy?” He seamlessly transitioned from talks of SAP to games and he said, “It’s pretty much the same as the first Mario Galaxy, so I returned it.”

He is probably right, but I was a fool and ignored the first game, so I knew the decision to purchase this game was a smart one.

Mario games are a game designer’s paradise. I think the game play is simplified, but the characters and various approaches to problems make the game intriguing to the young and the old.

So if you are bored,
take a trip,
like Baxter driving you to music,
you’ll ride Yoshi equipped,
with his devouring appetite,
ride off into the star-filled night,

on a ship I ride,
shaped like my head,
shoot down that Lackatu,
he’s throwing Spinies,
(turtle-like beast laced with thorns),
end up dead,

morose because you won’t get to ride,
like an unfulfilled prophecy,
the Great Space coaster that is Mario Galaxy…

Ship shaped like my head!

Ship shaped like my head.