Monday, November 19, 2012

Too Many Heroes, Not Enough Heroines

This girl deserves a character like her
Just in case you haven't noticed, let me be the first to tell you: There aren't enough female characters in video games. 

Now, I'm not talking about damsels-in-distress or barely dressed sexual objects because everyone knows that we have enough of those to last for several lifetimes. This is about strong well-developed female leads that save the day or maybe even come to a helpless male's rescue. It should be obvious that those characters are rare and highly undervalued.

A recent article about a father who took the time to switch all the male pronouns in his copy of Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker so that his daughter would know that girls can be heroes too just makes this fact all the more upsetting. Just like the 3 year old from this story, I always change Link's name to match my gender, but the game never shifts to match me. No matter what his name happens to be, Link is still a boy hero that has to rush in to save the defenseless young princess.

What this man has done for his daughter is highly commendable but no one should have to hack a game in the name of gender equality.

How do you feel about the presence of female characters in video games?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Virtual to Reality--Pauline, Plumbers Prefer Blondes

Donkey Kong Series--Pauline
Let's go old school today and talk about Nintendo's original "damsel-in-distress", the curvy Pauline.

Before Mario (aka Jumpman) started traveling through pipes to to save defenseless royals like Princess Peach, he climbed up rafters to rescue his girlfriend, the Lady, from the wild Donkey Kong. Of course, this mystery woman couldn't go unnamed for long and she eventually became known as Pauline.

In her original appearance, Mario's first girlfriend was a stereotypical blond in a pink dress, who only existed to give the hero a reason to challenge a giant gorilla. But once Peach was introduced as the new damsel and Mario's attention was turned toward a giant turtle, Pauline was redesigned into the voluptuous brunette in red that she is today.

Pauline's skin tight red dress bares absolutely no resemblance to the puffy dresses of her princess counterparts. This character is sassy and stylish. It's a shame she doesn't have a larger part of the series.

Do you think Mario's ex Pauline should be featured in more games?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Are Video Game Magazines Dying?

My favorite reading materials:
cookbooks, novels, textbooks and Game Informers
Question: If you want to know something about video games, where do you usually get the information from?

It's clear that we're becoming a more digital based culture, so I would guest that most people just check their favorite websites to get the latest news right when they want to see it. That's what I do most of the time.

But what about good old fashioned magazines? With the number of print publications decreasing more and more each day (for example, the long running magazine Nintendo Power will send out its last issue next month), it seems obvious that not many people still put their money into monthly mailing subscriptions.

To be totally honest, GameStop's loyalty program is one of the main reasons why I've had a subscription to Game Informer for the last few years. That two-in-one special is probably the biggest part of the company's success. But I do prefer the feel of a physical magazine copy and look forward to receiving a new issue each month...even though I am well aware that I am not part of the magazine's main demographic and find myself uninterested in many of the articles they print...but that has nothing to do with this...

Do you still read magazines or do you get your all information from online sources?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Make Your Favorite Game Sound Like Garbage

A friend of mine posted this challenge on her Facebook page and I thought it would be interesting to throw it out to you...

Describe your favorite game, but make it sound as terrible as you possibly can.

Here's mine:

You play an overweight, out-of-work tradesman who is invited to a castle to have cake with its princess. After a short trip through the local sewer system, you arrive at the castle only to discover that it is a basically an abandoned art museum and the pretty princess has been captured by the disembodied voice of giant turtle. The only way to save her is to explore the art museum/castle and jump each into the paintings, one by one.

Inside the paintings, you will be forced to complete menial tasks in the pursuit of monetary compensation and defeat random creatures that are much larger than you so that they will transform into weird stars with creepy, beady eyes that never blink...

You will waste an extraordinary amount of time running up a staircase that never ends.

Your only friends in this journey are a transparent little person in a mushroom hat and diaper that can somehow be in several places at once, an owl that likes to remind you how fat you are and a vocally challenged green dinosaur that only appears long after you finish the journey and shoot yourself out of a cannon.

If you didn't get it, I was describing Super Mario 64, the first game I ever played. How do you think I did?
How can a game this epic ever sound boring?
What's your favorite game? Can you make it sound terrible?

Monday, November 12, 2012

I Didn't Write an Acceptance Speech: Liebster Award Part Two

Well, I was nominated for a second Liebster Award. I'll take that as a sign that I'm doing something right...

Here's my first Liebster Post for those who care.

Thank you so much Shakibrya from Your Style Forecast!

Since I have already nominated 11 fantastic bloggers and posted 11 random (video game related) facts about myself, I'll just skip those parts.

Here are the questions from Shakibrya:
1. What’s the meaning behind your blog title?
I have always loved video games but everybody and their mother's mother has a video game blog. Mixing in fashion was my attempt to be creative. The name itself came from trial and error. (Many of my other choices were already taken).
2. Who would play you if your life was a movie?
I'd hope for Keke Palmer. But she would have to genuinely love games.
She's fashionable but does she play video games?
3. What song(s) would be the soundtrack of your life?
Every Teardrop is a Waterfall--Coldplay
Everybody Loves Me--OneRepublic 
Made For You--OneRepublic
Must Be Dreaming--Imogen Heap
We Can Make the World Stop--The Glitch Mob
We Swarm--The Glitch Mob
Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence--Utada Hikaru
LoveStoned/I Think That She Knows Interlude--Justin Timberlake
Serious Coin--Nostalgia 
The Hero--Nostalgia
And the Super Mario Galaxy 2 theme...

4. What are your favorite books to read?
Depends on my mood. Right now I'm into anything related to geishas (Memoirs of a Geisha; Geisha, A Life). Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America is on my reading wish list though.
There's an empty space on my bookshelf.
Only this can fill it.

5. Who is your style icon?
Also depends on my mood. Right now, it's Dita Von Teese. Bet you didn't see that coming. Just take the time to watch some of her interviews. You will not be disappointed.
I mean, look at her...Amazing.
6. Describe yourself in 3 words.
Fickle fashionable gamer. (I think I'm cheating, but oh well...)
7. What’s the most inspiring city to you fashion-wise?
Umm...London, I suppose. I've never thought about that before.
8. What is your dream job?
Terrible ad campaigns aside (read my rants here and here), I still dream of being a Localization Editor at Nintendo of America. Or Europe.
9. You are invited to The Oscars to present an award, what do you wear?
This or something extremely similar.

10. It’s your first date and you want to make an impression. What do you wear?
I would wear this skirt if I owned it. 

Any suitor must understand that
video games are my first love.
11. What are your favourite colours to wear?
Various shades of black, white, grey and beige. I've included a picture of my closet at school for reference...I do branch out, but my wardrobe is a work in progress.
Look closely and you might spot some bright blue and pink.

I just want to take this time to thank you--yes, YOU--for reading my almost random nonsense. It really means a lot to me.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Games with Friends: Because Multi-Player Does Exist

Video games are often considered a solitary activity. Everyone knows the image of the loner in the dark basement, playing from sun up to sun down, only interacting with people in the real world when it becomes absolutely necessary. Many believe that the obsessive gamer who avoids social interaction is the only kind of gamer that exists. These people tend to overlook the fact that multi-player titles can bring people together just as easily as the most popular single-player games can tear relationships apart.

People don't play games like this anymore...on computers like that...

For example, games like Super Smash Bros. Brawl can turn strangers into friends and the closest companions into bitter (but loving) rivals. With the right group of people, this classic can erase the stress of even the most difficult day. It's the game of choice when it comes to my friends. If someone suggests we play video games, they only ever have one title in mind...Many of our late nights get-togethers have been filled with laughter and the struggle to get the Smash Ball and come in first place.

Instant party: Just add friends.
Some of our favorite inside jokes have been inspired by the random things that fly out of our mouths in the heat of battle. The longer we play, the more incoherent we become. My favorite Smash Bros. related quotes include these amazing gems:
"Pikachu used Thumber!"
"Oooo, food!...Oh no, it's a trap!"
"You think you're SO HAPPY!"  
"Not the sparkles!...Keep your sparkles away from me!"
This only scratches the surface of our insanity.

And don't think that things like this are for hardcore gamers only. Even my friends who've never picked up a controller can simply watch us play and still feel included in the madness. The fun that it creates is just that universal.

Video games don't belong in a basement. They are meant to be shared.

So, what do you pull out when your favorite group of gamers gets together? Do you prefer to play alone or with friends?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day: Video Game Edition

Voting stickers are bit accusatory in my district.
Consider this my obligatory post about election day. Hopefully you will find a way to cast your vote either in person or by absentee ballot because this a very important election.

It doesn't really matter who or what you vote for as long as you make sure that your voice is heard.

On a lighter note, what if video game characters could run for president? Who would you trust to run this country of ours?

Personally, I would choose Fox McCloud from the Star Fox series. It's true that he has no experience repairing a failing economy, but I think his experience leading a diverse (and in some characters' cases, annoying) crew could help to blur the lines in between political parties.

If he can handle them, he can handle anyone.
Which video game character would you vote for?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Do You Want a Wii U as Much as Nintendo Wants You To?

Nintendo wants you to care about this. But do you?
With the North American launch date (Nov. 18th) only a few days away, everyone's attention is turning to Nintendo and the shiny high-definition Wii U.

It's pretty obvious that this console's pre-launch hype is not as strong as the insane anticipation leading up to its predecessor's release. Not many people believe that lighting while strike twice for this line of systems... But even though the fanboys and girls don't seem quite as intense as they were back in 2006 (trust me, I was one of them), people are getting excited about Nintendo's newest console...

But I'm not. At least not enough to make to the store that Tuesday.

Hardcore Nintendo fan that I am, I am intrigued by the new technology, even though if I am bit skeptical. I look forward to the moment when I have it in my hands and can decide for myself if the screen in the controller actually makes sense in real life. But when it really comes down to it, the launch titles just don't make me want loosen the tight grip I have on my wallet right now.

This doesn't mean I don't want it almost desperately...It just means I can be more patient than usual.

Are you looking forward to the Wii U launch date with painful anticipation? Can you wait for the new system or are you going to pass on it completely? Was there a game launch that you were excited about in the past?

Friday, November 2, 2012

"Play As You Are"--Nintendo and the Female Audience Part 2

Be a girl AND a gamer...with a little help from Nintendo
I'm a hardcore Nintendo fan and that will probably never change, but I can hold a serious grudge. After writing (and venting to anyone who would listen) about Nintendo's new "I'm not a gamer" ad campaign, I let it go. I didn't think that the marketing would be that serious anyway.

Then a new Nintendo commercial popped up on my YouTube subscription box (because yes, I do follow their company channel). It was just another spot with a girl rambling on about how she doesn't play video games, but this time it came with a link to their "Play As You Are" website. Of course, I was extremely curious...

Clicking that link was like reopening a wound.

The first thing you see are the smiling faces of their beautiful young spokeswomen but Nintendo makes sure to remind you immediately that these girls aren't gamers. Everything on the page is swirly and feminine. I must admit that I like the way it looks even though it offends me. Nintendo knows exactly what it's doing.

Nintendo makes games like this for girls like me.
The site is basically a portal to the main websites of a handful games Nintendo considers "appropriate" for non-gaming female consumers. Fashion, photography, art, puzzles. Yes, there is a Super Mario and a Professor Layton game mixed in, but the rest are titles you will soon see in your nearest Wal-Mart bargin bin.

This is the stereotype that I was arguing against in my post about whether boys are better gamers than girls. Nintendo made this entire campaign with the idea that females are better at puzzles, word and art games than any other kind they could possibly come up with. Look don't see any sites like this for males, do you? That's because no one thinks they need them. Because boys don't need easy titles to give them an excuse to purchase a game system.

A little known fact: girls don't either.

I love Nintendo from the bottom of my gaming heart, but this approach is wrong on so many levels.

What do you think about Nintendo's new campaign and website? Does it make you want to purchase the console and games featured? Am I overreacting?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Wish List--Pac-Man Print Mini Skirt

No quarters required to play.
Pac-Man is one of the most iconic video game series ever. It's not the hottest thing now, but there was a point when anything related to that hungry yellow circle was considered a guaranteed hit. Even that rushed Atari port that was pretty much impossible to play still sold millions of copies simply because of the hype...

Whether you poured your soul and extra quarters into eating those colorful ghosts or your arcade experience is extremely limited, chances are that you've played Pac-Man--or one of its numerous spin-offs--at least once in your life (I wasted my allowance on it more times than I'd like to admit...). Its pick-up-and-play simplicity has made it an extremely universal game.

With its multi-colored ghosts and circles, this skirt is the perfect way to display your love for the addictive maze game. But the design is so understated that from far away it looks like any other pattern. The skirt is almost as universal as the game itself. A fantastic combination of video game love and everyday style.

Find this skirt on Etsy.

Ever blow all your money on an intense game of Pac-Man? Would you ever wear this skirt?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I'd Like to Thank the Academy...The Liebster Blog Award

I return from my short absence with good news: I was nominated for a Liebster blog award! For those of you who don't know, this award is passed along from new blogger to new blogger as a way of saying "I like what you're doing. Keep up the good work!". Liebster is a German term of endearment.

(It's really just a blogger chain letter. But it doesn't involve your crush kissing you or tragic death in any way, so it's a letter you actually want to receive and pass along.)

Thank you, Carissa (from Lillies & Silk)! Your blog is fantastic by the way.

When you receive the award, you're supposed to post 11 random things about yourself, answer 11 questions from the person who nominated you, nominate 11 blogs of your own and post 11 questions for them to respond to. The best thing about this is that it's for blogs with less than 200 followers (Check my numbers; I'm not even close), so it's a great way to get exposure as well as connect with others.

Here's 11 random video game related facts about myself:
1.) I only own a Playstation 2 because a friend of mine got two for Christmas. He gave me all the games he didn't want, but I'm still very grateful.
2.) Many people honestly believe that I own a pink Wii. I wish I did.
Why don't I own this?!?

3.) If I play a game where I can decide my character's name, I choose either Jessica or Fox. Link is always named Jessica.
4.) I get extremely excited whenever I hear the main theme to Super Mario Galaxy 2.
5.) I played clarinet in high school, but I joined a saxophone group just so I could play the Super Mario theme with them for one performance.
6.) I only paid $1 for the DS that I have now. It came with Pokemon Pearl.
The deal of the century.
7.) There was a point in time where the workers at my local GameStop addressed me by name and spoke to me like we were old friends.
8.) I still have the original box and additional materials for my Nintendo 64. Including the old Nintendo Power magazine offer cards.
9.) When the colored Nintendo 64's came out, my mother suggested that I paint my dark grey one with nail polish. She was joking, but I considered it.
I only didn't do it because it wouldn't be transparent.
10.) My older cousin once carried me out of Target like a sack of potatoes because I didn't stop playing the in-store game demo console fast enough. I was just reseting it for the boy behind me. After all these years, I am still mad about it.
11.) I don't celebrate Halloween, but I would dress up as Princess Rosalina at least once if I did (Happy Halloween to those of you celebrating today).

The 11 Questions for Carissa's Nominees:
1. When did you start your blog?
July of this year after a previous failed attempt.
2. What made you decide to start blogging?
I want to be a writer. It was about time I started writing something.
3. What goals did you have for your blog when you started and have they changed now?
My initial goal was to start writing. Now my goal is to keep writing. 
4. What are your hobbies?
Playing video games, reading, writing, drawing, shopping, eating, magazine collaging.
5. Do you enjoy movies and if so what are your favorite two?
I love movies. My favorite two are Pocahontas and Taken. 
The colors of the wind: a rainbow.
The color of revenge: blood red.
6. What season is your favorite and why?
Fall. It's the best fashion season and pumpkin is in everything. 
Pure awesome in a liquid form.
7. If you could do one thing at this moment what would it be?
I wouldn't do my homework if I could still get a A.
8. Do you have any pets and if so what kind of pet is it?
Not at the moment. My mother has a Pomeranian but he doesn't like me so I don't claim him.
9. What is your favorite color?
Electric Blue Metallic.
A picture for reference.
10. What are you grateful for the most?
My life and the ability to get an education at the college of my choice while living in the best residence hall/apartment on campus with the best roommates ever. It's all thanks to God and my mother. 
11. What is your biggest fear?
Pregnancy and childbirth. No joke. Right now "I don't know nothin' about birthin' no babies" and I don't want to.

And here are my 11 nominees:
1.) Holly at Nintendo Lifeline
2.) Nicola at ChibiChic
3.) Zack at Nintendo Gamer Thoughts
4.) GurlNxtDoor at Gurl on Girl-Gaming
5.) Jessica at Southern Ramblings
6.) Miss Tattoo at Tattoos and Lace
7.) The Sorting House
8.) Jessica at Diary of a Young Adults Divorce
9.) Michelle at Michy Nails 
10.) Seabo at 3 Years in the Merde
11.) Brandi at Cupcakes and Curves

And my 11 questions for them:
1.) How did you come up with the name of your blog?
2.) Can you see yourself still blogging 5 years from now?
3.) If you won the lottery right now (the Mega Millions jackpot is at 32 million at the moment), what would you do?
4.) If you could only eat one food, everyday, for every meal, for the rest of your life, what would it be?
5.) Do you like to read? If so, what are some your favorite reading materials?
6.) Who would play you if your life was a movie?
7.) What songs would be on the soundtrack of your life?
8.) What are some of your hobbies?
9.) What are some of your talents?
10.) What was/is your least favorite subject in school?
11.) What is your favorite color?

Consider this a virtual pat on the back, from me to you.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Are Boys Really Better Gamers Than Girls?

She's not losing because of her gender; she just can't see the screen.

Now in the interest of actually writing a full blog entry, I'll explain myself. In the recent post Are Boys Better Gamers Than Girls?, Holly over at Nintendo Lifeline argues that males are naturally more skilled at playing video games. Now while her points are valid, I just can't agree. This isn't just my feminist side valiantly sticking up for all the girls out there, I really believe that natural, physical gender is not really a factor here.

Though males are considered to be more agressive and have better reflexes, doesn't this have more to do with gender norms and stereotypes than anything else? Girls are given baby dolls; boys are given baseball bats. Girls are urged to be more patient and nurturing while boys are allowed to fight and argue. And females are also pushed to preform artistically (in mediums like dance), while guys are pushed to be perform competitively (in mediums like sports). In the end, males don't have a natural advantage here, society gives them one...or at least tries to.

"Tries to" is the important part here because the generalization that boys are better at video games is just like any other gender stereotype that you've heard before. It's not true. Just because males are more inclined to be the agressive competitive type, this doesn't mean that there isn't just as many girls out there that behave the same way. Certain individuals might be so skilled that they can pick up any game and destroy even the most hardened veteran, but to jump and say that this trait goes across the entire gender is a bit unfair. Actually, I think that video games is one the only examples of an activity where the playing field is almost equal on both sides. Gender doesn't really matter when you're pressing buttons.

And I also operate under the assumption that if there are exceptions, there is no rule...So since I'm not very good at puzzle games and my brother refuses to play Super Smash Bros. with me because he doesn't even stand a chance, I'm pretty sure that gender really doesn't matter that much. 

But what do you think: Are boys better gamers than girls?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Replay Value--Can You Play the Same Game Twice?

If you play a game more than one time, are you "going green"?

Everyone likes to talk about a game's replay value when discussing its pros and cons, but does anyone take the time to play a game twice?

I ask because I usually don't. No matter how awesome an adventure is, I rarely have the patience to sit through anything a second time. There are a few exceptions to my unwritten one-time-only rule. After my eight year struggle with Super Mario 64, I turned the game inside out, playing it multiple times in a row and mastering all of the sequence-breaking glitches. And when my first trip through Luigi's Mansion ended with only the second best rank, I immediately ran through the entire game again, just so that I could get enough money to afford the best house available.

But when it really comes down to it, I don't particularly care about a game's ability to be withstand a second playthrough...I automatically assume that after I finish a title for the first time, I'll never play it again.

Is replay value something you take into consideration when purchasing a game? Have you ever loved a game enough to play it more than once?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Virtual to Reality--Kairi Takes a Lesson in Fashion But Not Personality

Kingdom Hearts--Kairi .Since we are on the topic of Kingdom Hearts inspired clothing, let's talk about Kairi. While she might not be the most dynamic of characters (face it, she's just there to be "the girl" of the group), she is one of the most fashionable.

When Kairi first appeared in the original game, her clothing was pretty basic, as a cute little girl's outfit should be. But when she showed up in the second installment, it was clear that her character not only matured physically and mentally, but also underwent a major style upgrade. Kairi's new design was a perfect combination of feminine appeal and casual comfort that matched the style of the series very well. 

If only she could actually do something for a change...

Who's your favorite Kingdom Hearts character?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wish List--Kingdom Hearts Organization XIII Jacket

Accept darkness and live in the light.
Oh, the convoluted gem that is Kingdom Hearts...

Overlooking the random side entries that seem to have taken over the canon, I still consider KH one of the best game series ever made. And though it sometimes seems like III will never come, the wait for the next main installment wouldn't be too long with this hoodie. Its brillance lies in the fact that it's so simple that it doesn't scream "cosplay" so you could wear it from day to day, but it's detailed enough for fans of the series to take notice.

You can find this and a few other similar jackets on Etsy.

Are you fan of Kingdom Hearts? Are you still excited for III or ready to move on?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Gamers Rock the Vote

One guess who I'm voting for.
Today is the last day you can to register to for the general election on Tuesday, November 6th. If you haven't filled out the necessary paperwork...

Nudge, nudge. Hint, hint. Time is running out.

This is important stuff, you know; more important than video games and fashion combined. The future of our country is at stake, after all. Don't you want to have your say?

Monday, October 8, 2012

"For Girls Only"--Nintendo Invites Females to the World of Video Games

Don't be fooled; pretty girls don't play games.
As a long time fan of Nintendo, I like to say that they can do no wrong in my eyes. "SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY" and all that. But with their new ad campaign, they have hit me and all video game loving girls where it counts: right in the chromosomes.

I wasn't originally going to write about Nintendo's "I am not a gamer" videos. Seeing them on the company's YouTube channel, I was mostly unmoved. After reading Zack at Nintendo Gamer Thoughts's article ""I am not a gamer': Nintendo's Identity Crisis" (check that out, interesting read), I sat on the topic for a few days, unsure how to respond.

And then I got mad

Here's one, just in case you haven't had the pleasure of seeing it:

The commercials themselves are, for lack of a better word, stupid. As a natural sceptic, I don't trust spokespeople and automatically assume that they are just in it for the money (because let's be honest, they are). So, having a "celebrity" come right out and say that they don't normally use the product is a huge fail in my eyes. I discounted these advertisements as a minor misstep. The fact that the two commercials both star young females stating that they don't normally play video games must be a coincidence, right? Right?

Don't worry if you're the wrong gender, Nintendo's got you covered.

Nope. Not on your life. Nintendo doesn't just imply that girls don't play video games, they separate the commercials into an unique playlist which has a name that spells it out for anyone who didn't quite get it (which includes me, the bright eyed fangirl).

I understand the facts: as a girl gamer, I am part of an exclusive minority. Most of the girls around me wouldn't pick up a controller to save their life and even if they did, they probably wouldn't know how to use it. And yes, when they see these commercials, the "brilliant" pitch might inspire to buy one of these titles. But they aren't the ones paying attention these videos; the girl gamers are. And ignoring the fact that a lot of girls do play video games and behaving as if females need their own little section and a formal invitation to usher them into gaming is ridiculous. Last time I checked, the medium was not a "gentleman's club".

Thanks for the invite, Nintendo. Too bad I never thought I needed it. 

Male or female, gamer or not, how do you feel about Nintendo's new ad campaign? 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Money and Sacrifice: When A Game is More Important Than Anything Else

My wallet. Note it's emptiness.
Everyone knows that playing video games is an expensive habit. It goes without saying that video game companies always have one hand on our pulse while the other is going through our wallets. But I don't think anyone really thinks about how it feels to be forced to sit back and watch the medium roll on without you because you just don't have the cash to keep up. 

It burns, just in case you don't know.

There are good deals out hidden in the world: reward/loyalty programs, trade-ins, online discounts, friends and family, really cool thrift stores...It is possible to save a dime; you just have to know how to shop around.

And there's always the most difficult option: good ol' fashioned sacrifice. Nothing's better than deciding that a shiny new video game is much more important than anything else your money could go toward.

My sacrifice tends to be personal copies of books for school because as an English major, I can pretty much find any book I need at a library or free online. Plus, there's always a helpful friend willing to let me share/borrow/buy their hand-me-downs. It gets a bit tougher when exams come around, but there's nothing foresight and good planning can't handle.

Of course, this money-saving method can go too far. Let me tell you, I have watched people choose games over bills and it never ends well. You have to maintain some sort of responsibility, unless you want to be rolling in debt. I wouldn't recommend such things but to each their own...

So, have you ever gone without to get the top game on your wish list? Do you have any go-to ways to save money or do you usually bite the bullet and pay the full retail price?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

(Not) Playing Video Games Ruined Your Childhood

Could the same be said about video games?
Everyone has their own ideas on the basic activities that make up a "normal" childhood: twisting and spinning around on a playground swing, building up speed to jump on a grocery store cart, waking up early to watch Saturday morning cartoons...

As a long-time video game lover, I couldn't even imagine life without the joy of staying up past bedtime to finish just one last level. But a recent conversation with one of my close friends reminded me that some people never had the wonderful experience of growing up in a virtual world.

This isn't about people who just don't like video games (that's a whole different conversation, let's save that one for later...). This is about people whose parents don't allow video games in their household for whatever reason. In my friend's case, her mother decided that there were better ways for her daughter to spend her free time. Recreation was found in big museums and thick books instead of game consoles and imaginary adventures on the TV screen. While money might have been a factor, as it often is when it comes to games, the main reason seemed to be that video games were a waste of time...for lack of a better way to put it. You know, one that is less offensive to a video game connoisseur like me.

While I respect her mother's decision and understand it almost completely, I'm uncomfortable with how it puts my childhood in a negative light. I don't feel as if I missed out on cultural experiences or learning opportunities by spending time indoors with a controller when I could have been perusing an art gallery. And my passion for reading and large book collection was never affected by my deep gaming habit (The only time I've ever spent in a museum was a summer volunteer position which was not the best time in the world...).

I automatically thought that by never playing video games, my friend didn't have a "real" childhood. Of course that's not true; it was just the first thing that came to my extremely gaming-centric mind. But are the gamers the ones that missed out?

Are video games a basic part of childhood or a just pointless distraction? Did you grow up without games because of your parents' rules?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Wish List--Running Low on Health? Get a Heart Container Meter Necklace

It's dangerous to go alone...
Haven't you always wanted a life meter to display your health status for all the world to see? 

No? That's just me?...

Well, if you never dreamt of such things, you still can't deny the appeal of this wonderful piece of Zelda inspired jewelry. A necklace this awesome could (and should) be appreciated by anyone, even someone who has no idea what it's supposed to be.

The coolest thing about this necklace is that it's creator is willing to customize it for you so the hearts are as full or as empty as you want them to be. Great if you're feeling absolutely fantastic/excruciatingly crappy and you want everyone to know. And bonus: you never have to worry about an annoying warning sound or a companion getting on your nerves...

Find this on Etsy.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Virtual to Reality--Nina Williams: Shirts Are Overrated But Red Leopard Print is Fine

Tekken Series--Nina Williams
Nina Williams is one of the most popular characters in the Tekken series, appearing in every single game as the powerful "silent assassin". Her following is so strong that she has even been featured in her own spin-off title...but we do not speak of the disappointing mess that is Death by Degrees. Please, forget I even mentioned that disaster.

Though Nina has been featured in many different outfits, the main theme seems to be anything that's skin-tight and deep purple. But her standard outfit in Tekken 3 took a slight detour from that pattern and everyone's favorite assassin ended up in red leopard print and leather--and no shirt, because you don't really need one of those silly things, right? When you're hired killer (especially one in a video game), small details like covering up your chest don't matter.

Side note: I must admit that the process of settling on a Nina outfit for this post took much longer than the creation of the outfit. Learning that red leopard print vests pretty much don't exist in real life made it all worth it though. Thank goodness for that.

Anyway...Do you play Tekken? Who's your favorite character?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Determined Frustration: Why Rhythm Heaven Is Extremely Annoying But Amazingly Fun

Welcome to Rhythm Heaven, a fun test for your patience.
Anyone knows that a good game is fun to play; that pretty much goes without saying. But a really good game is one that is not only fun to play but one that always leaves you just two seconds away from completely destroying it, frustrating you just enough to present a challenge that keeps you coming back for more without making you want to give up forever.

Rhythm Heaven is that game. Excruciatingly frustrating at times, but almost impossible to put down. 

Once you get used to holding your DS vertically like a book instead of the normal horizontal orientation, the controls are deceivingly simple. Pretty much all of the games require you to tap or flick the touch screen or use a combination of the two (one does use the R button, but it's not too much of a stretch). And the overall concept is simple too: follow the beat of the music to clear the game. Whether you're playing soccer in space, building unexplained objects or kicking bombs to practice karate, all you have to do is flick and tap in time to some surprisingly catchy songs. Easy enough, right?

Well, not really. This game starts off slow, but then you realize that the creators have thought of almost every single tap and flick combination possible with the intention of making this simple concept as difficult as possible. One moment you're bopping your head to the music or singing along, the next you're stabbing the screen wondering why you just can't seem to get it right.

You might find the individual games easy to handle but that's where the remixes come in. Each one combines a handful of games in random ways to create new songs and trip you up just when you reach your stride. If you don't think that's bad enough, the challenge of a perfect performance is guaranteed to take up a chunk of your life. Especially since it doesn't count until the game gives you the opportunity, which seems to be randomly triggered over time. And you only get three chances. Mess up and you have to wait all over again.

In all seriousness, this is the only game that is much easier to handle with your eyes closed. The graphics--though very charming in their theme-matching simplicity and quirkiness--are more distracting than the crazy backgrounds used in the higher levels of Tetris. The game even suggests that you don't pay to much attention to them if you mess up at a certain point. It's called Rhythm Heaven for a reason.

The big point I'm trying to make here: If you haven't tried this game, go find it now. And get ready to get a bit angry. The thrill of success is well worth the frustration.

Have you played Rhythm Heaven? What do you think about it? Is there any game that you love to struggle with?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ocarina of Time: How It Feels to Give Up On the "Greatest Game Ever Made"

Greatest Game. Biggest Regret.
My name is Erin and I have a problem. I have a bad habit of not finishing video games. My collection is full of games that I have set aside for various reasons, hoping to eventually get back to them later. I regret every unfinished adventure, but the most heartbreaking entry on my growing list of "Games Still Awaiting Completion" is one many people consider the greatest game ever made: Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

I can feel your disappointment.

After all, in the late 90's many kids grew up in Hyrule, traveling through time and defeating Ganondorf's monsters. But, I was extremely late to the party. We were well into the new millenium (2004/2005, maybe?) when I received a copy of the game from my older brother, who only heard that the game was good from a helpful sales associate. I didn't know much about the game--or anything about it, really--but I did understand that I had magic in my hands.

Soon, I found myself completely immersed in Link's adventures. Many of my days revolved around saving Zelda and Navi's "Hey! Listen!" kept ringing in my ears. The game could pretty much do no wrong in my eyes; even the Water Temple wasn't that bad. I finally understood what all the fuss was about.

And then I made it to the Shadow Temple. (Fear shot through me as I wrote that sentence. Real, unadulterated fear. That's just how much it still gets to me.) When I unlocked the temple, I didn't even go in at first. After Kakariko went up in flames, I just shut the system off and ignored it for a few days. Realizing that I was being unreasonable, I decided to not let a little darkness stand in my way. Link traveled into the depths of the dungeon as I sat on the edge of my bed in the middle of the afternoon with all the blinds open. And I still couldn't get through the first few moments. Haven't tried again since.

Now, let me say that I love Zelda. I have saved the princess and the land many times. My wall is currently showcasing the Club Nintendo Zelda poster set and one of my greatest possessions is the Phantom Hourglass Feather Pen Stylus. In my mind, it is one of the best game series ever created. But I hesitate to call myself a fan because of my irrational fear of completing what most people consider the pinnacle of the series. One day, I will scratch Ocarina of Time off my list. One day. Maybe.

Have you ever been too afraid to finish a game? Was it a title that isn't even supposed to be that scary? Did you overcome your fear?

More on my absolutely terrible track record:
Super Mario 64 and Why It Shouldn't Take Eight Years to Collect 120 Stars

Monday, September 17, 2012

Umbrella Corporation + Inception = FAIL. Resident Evil: Retribution Review

It looks epic? Don't get your hopes up.
Being a fan of the Resident Evil movie franchise, I felt like I had to see the recent installment Retribution as soon as it hit the big screen. So, I got a group together, grabbed some cheap over-buttered popcorn and settled in to enjoy some amazing action. The action was indeed amazing, but I can't say that I enjoyed any of it.

Let's be clear: You should never go into a live action Resident Evil film with high expectations. The big draw is the gratuitous violence and the numerous references to the game series that movies are "based" on. This isn't brilliant cinema; this is mindless fun.

But with Retribution, it seemed like the series wanted to pretend it's brilliant and it failed miserably. It's as if someone on the production team saw Inception and screamed "I want our next film to be like that!" without a clue how to do it effectively. Their closest guess was to take Umbrella's clone fixation up to eleven in an attempt to thicken the storyline. All of a sudden, dead characters from the previous installments are back to their old tricks and Alice's adventures seem like a infected dream within a housewife dream within another stupid plot twist dream. The first quarter of the film feels like about 4 or 5 different films, none of which are even remotely worth watching.

And Leon. Oh my goodness, Leon. I don't recommend this film because of that character alone. The fanbase has been wishing, hoping and praying for Leon S. Kennedy's appearance in the series since this whole thing started. I was so excited but as soon as he hit the screen, all of my hopes were blown to bits with a rocket launcher. Not only did he look like an dirty scruffy-chinned jerk, he sounded like one and acted like one. Every time the actor muttered his lines with the emotional depth of a cardboard cutout of Edward Cullen, I found myself saying telling him to shut up. Every single time. Leon's terrible adaptation is made even worse when one of the series-exclusive characters dies pretty much only so Leon can live and appear in the next film. Oh joy!

Did you think that the series was over? Yeah, right. We still have one more to go. That's if the box office numbers add up and I can't see why they wouldn't. Have you seen the opening figure? $21 million in ticket sales. The question isn't whether or not there will be another film, it's whether or not anyone will actually care.

I made this brief review as spoiler-free as possible, just in case you actually want to torture yourself and see it, but there are easier and more enjoyable ways to waste your money. Like throwing it into oncoming traffic for example. Even if you are dying to know what happened after the last cliff-hanger, don't bother. Almost nothing is resolved and what was could have been sorted out in a just few moments. In the end, you're just left with another absolutely outrageous cliff-hanger that is an obvious attempt to get another ticket purchase out of you later.

At least the costumes were good. My fashionable side was pleased, but the view of the clothing was not worth the price of admission.

It's time and money you can never get back.

Are you a fan of the Resident Evil film series? Do you want to see Retribution? If you already have, what did you think?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Controllers and School Books (or Why I Haven't Posted in a Month)

A snapshot of my life.
It's been a long time since my last post. During that time, I moved back on campus and got right back into the basic grind of an English major. Read, write, rinse, repeat. Honestly, the start of the semester got the best of me. The realization that I have less time for video games hit me like a brick (or five).

When you need to write grammatically correct essays, read novels that double as sleep aids, write enlightened poetry from random prompts and prepare for the next painful exam, video games seem like a great escape that you don't even have time to think about. Finding balance between grades and gaming takes time. But getting good grades and basking in the joys of video gaming is completely possible. It's just not easy.

Case in point: I haven't gone cold turkey from my gaming habit. In the last couple weeks, I've been able to catch up on some Smash Bros. Brawl action with my main group of players and I've even started two new games (Tales of Symphonia and Rhythm Heaven. Details on them later.) There was just a bit of a problem adjusting to life without all the free time that goes along with summer vacation. I think it's all leveling out now.

Are you in school? How do you balance video games and academics? This feels like a throwback to my post on having a career and playing games so if you haven't read that go check it out and leave a comment there too. This is obviously a conversation that won't end very soon.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Wish List--Peach Saving Herself? Yeah, Sure...

Maybe YOU can save yourself because Peach sure can't.
The irony of this shirt should be lost on no one. Not one single person.

For years, Peach has been a desperate damsel, helpless against Bowser's crazy schemes. She never even lifts a finger when the big bad villain shows up. It's all "Help me, Mario!" followed by a bit of "Our princess is in another castle..." until you get enough stars/coins/power ups to unlock the final encounter.

That doesn't change the fact that this shirt is awesome.

And yes, I realize that Peach played the heroine in Super Princess Peach. That doesn't count. She doesn't save herself, she saves Mario. With her feelings. And a umbrella.

It's not a bad game though. It just doesn't count.

You can find this shirt in stock here. Interested?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Virtual to Reality--Samus Aran (and her issues)

Metroid: Other M--Samus Aran
Metroid: Other M. A blemish in a otherwise amazing series? Maybe.

Yes, the silent protagonist was transformed into more of a repetitive, emotional yes-woman. And her monologues can have a bit of a "Captain Obvious" feel to them, but the missteps aren't as bad as some people like to believe.

Though they are pretty devastating to say the least.

If you can look past Samus's need for therapy, you might be able to appreciate the fact that Metroid: Other M is also radical in the way it shows Samus in regular clothing.

Not a revealing two piece. Not a skin-tight catsuit. Clothes. A shirt and pants.

Samus's old uniform doesn't reveal too much about what the heroine does in her down time, but it finally shows her as a normal woman. She still kills aliens and destroys planets for a living, but at least you know her wardrobe is not limited to just spandex and metal.

Any thoughts on the changes made to Samus in the Metroid series's last installment?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Gaming Dipped in Gold...Paint: Club Nintendo Gold Nunchuk

Because even Nintendo cares about matching accessories.
The gold Wii Remote offered with Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was a pretty big deal but it left most people wondering why Nintendo didn't release a nunchuk to match. Now the wait is finally over!

I'm not sure if anyone was still waiting for it (I wasn't), but better late than never.

If you're a member of the Club Nintendo rewards program, you can receive this new accessory by trading in 900 of your hard-earned coins. Before you get too excited, Nintendo wants to point out that the nunchuk "will simply be gold in color and does not contain any precious metals". You know, just in case you were thinking about melting it or selling to a jeweler.

Isn't the white cord a bit tacky though? I don't think it would have taken too much effort to make match the rest of the controller, but I know nothing of the processes involved. Maybe it does.

I should stop complaining about "free" stuff.

Have you joined Club Nintendo? Are you going to be redeeming your coins to snatch this prize up?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

You're Too Old for Video Games...Go Do Something With Your Life

Throw your games away. It's time to get a job.
Call me naive if you want, but I honestly thought that the idea playing video games was no longer  as an immature waste of time. Or maybe it isn't and I just had a rare experience with an opinionated but narrow minded person (let's refer to him as Random Stranger).

Let me set the scene: It's a few days back, in a room full of people. I'm minding my own business, checking Facebook on my phone when I hear a bit of the conversation going on next to me. Now I'm barely paying any attention, but I hear the phrase "video games" and I'm immediately sucked in. Selective hearing for the win.

Random Stranger: "All he does is play video games! At 18/19, you need to be doing something with your life, not wasting your time playing video games!"

I should tell you that I am not a very "social" person. Remember, I'm in a room full of people on my phone. Checking Facebook. But if someone brings up video games, I'll start talking and I might not shut up. Especially if I disagree.

Me: Excuse me, but what if what you want to do with your life has something to do with video games? I'm 21 and I still play video games because I think I can make a career out of it.

I couldn't really hear Random Stranger's response after that because all of the "OOH BURN!" type comments were drowning him out. And he was so shook by my interruption that he was stuttering. A lot. But it seemed like RS was trying to say that the person he was talking about didn't think that way. Does that matter?

I really want to know if a lot of people still think like this or if anyone else has had this kind of conversation recently. Or ever. Are video games a waste of time better spent working nine to five? Is it hard or impossible to play video games and hold down a job or career? I don't think you could afford the habit without some kind of income but still...

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Super Mario 64 and Why It Shouldn't Take Eight Years to Collect 120 Stars

The cartridge that started an obsession.
Let's get personal. Rewind a few years back, to a time before I cared about the clothes I wore or even tried to call myself a gamer. I don't remember the year exactly but let's estimate that it was 1997, shortly after the release of the Nintendo 64.

I was lucky enough to grow up around video games. Everyone in my family played them and played them often. But the Nintendo 64 was the first system that I could call my very own. That grey piece of plastic means so much to me that I still have its original box (But this isn't just me being sentimental; I have a hard time throwing things away). Like a lot of people out there, I have a special attachment to my first game--Super Mario 64--as well, but for a less than normal reason.

It took me about 8 years to complete it.

No, that wasn't a continuous play-through (That would be about 15 stars a year; a ridiculous pace). I actually gave up on it shortly after getting to the "never-ending staircase" before Bowser in the Sky. Let's just say that the game was too much for my young mind to handle. It also gave me nightmares. Recurring ones, where Bowser and a pack Bom-ombs would climb out of my television and chase me around my house...

...Anyways, random childhood phobias aside, it wasn't that I didn't like the game, I just didn't like to play it. I wasn't even good at it. My mother was amazing though and since it was in my room, I just sat on my bed and watched her play for hours. But she never got all 120 stars. Eventually, we both set it aside and moved on to bigger but not necessarily better things. Super Mario 64 was pushed to the back of the collection.

Sometime around 2005, while the world was getting ready for the Wii (and complaining about its "Revolution" name change), I got the urge to take my Nintendo 64 out of its box in the closet. (Still don't know why. Nostalgia, maybe?) Not thinking too much about it, I popped in Super Mario 64 and finally took care of my unfinished business.

It was like a brand new, yet rough and outdated game. I not only got all the stars, but I even took the time to learn all the glitches. I love the game so much, I wrote a final essay about it for one of my college courses. It also covered Shakespeare, swans and Roger Ebert, but that's beside the point...

The point being: I was young and naive in '96. It took me 8 years to appreciate greatness.

Have you ever dropped a game you didn't like only to pick it back up and love it?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Too Old to Wear -- Too Young to Throw Away

Don't catch 'em all when you only need Charmander. 
There's always that one thing that you don't need but can't possibly get rid of. You know, that thing you keep in the back of the drawer for that rainy day when you just might need it because it holds some sort of sentimental value...

For me, its my old Charmander t-shirt.

Fourth grade: a good year. Pokemon was the thing biggest since...the last big thing...and anyone who was anyone had a piece of the licensed merchandise. You had to have the latest game. You needed to have all the cards, especially if they were gold-plated and came in reflective Pokeballs display cases (Remember those? I have five).

Charmander was always my favorite. He always seemed so cute and cuddly, apart from the flaming tail. When I got this shirt as a surprise gift, I wore it to death and back again.

Now, that time has gone. Pokemon is still going strong (though definitely not as strong); my shirt has seen better days. I still love Charmander, but my once favorite article of clothing makes me look foolish. Like I stole it off a kid who didn't realize there was way more than 151 Pokemon now. I just can't part with it, even though it doesn't fit well enough to help if that rainy day I'm waiting ever decides to come.

This screams "DIY" but I'm not as crafty as I should be. Desperately seeking creative inspiration and ideas.

For someone who doesn't like Pokemon games, I talk about the series a lot...
Three Reasons I Don't Like Pokemon Games (And You Do)

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