Update: You can find The GAMES Blog’s livestream at www.twitch.tv/thegamesblog! Come chat with us and help us stay sane as we play games for 24 hours to benefit CMN in our belated Extra Life marathon.
Extra Life is a 24-hour video game marathon to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network, and this weekend, The G.A.M.E.S. Blog is planning to participate. We’ll have a livestream setup and from the morning of Saturday, November 10, to the morning of Sunday, November 11, several members of the staff will be playing video games non-stop.
Our original plan was to host the marathon last month, but we had some hiccups along the way, and it got pushed back to now. If you’re interested in helping out, you can check out our team page and pledge money to one of the writers who are listed.
I’ll be helping run the chat when people stop by, so if you want to come and say hello, check this post on Saturday and stay tuned to my social media channels for a link to our livestream. The link will show up on The GAMES Blog’s Facebook page as well.
I bought my first two Pokemon games at a garage sale when I was in about sixth grade. I remember seeing someone selling off their Yellow and Silver cartridges for five bucks, including the strategy guide to Yellow. I knew about the cards, but I’d never played the games. So, I forked over some of my hard-earned allowance and proceeded to play the heck out of both.
Even though I enjoyed my Pokemon so much so long ago, the last couple of times a new game came out, I was on the fence about it. I worried that I would be bored with the series’ core gameplay and that no amount of shiny new additions would satisfy me. I gave in to Black/White version and wound up enjoying it, so when Black/White 2 came out, I just threw my hands in the air, bought the darned thing, and started playing…only to find myself utterly unable to stop. Sure, that grandma who was buying it for her grandson at the same time I was picking up a copy for myself looked at me a little funny, but I really don’t care. I still love Pokemon.
Seriously, how come none of the Pokemon profs have a full Pokedex yet? Whatever. I’m happy to help.
What is it about these games that can still keep me captivated for hours on end? I can’t chalk it all up to a compulsive desire to fill out my Pokedex; honestly, since I skipped Diamond/Pearl and the Gold/Silver remake, I haven’t ever been able to do that in the first place.
I guess part of it might be the story. Though the plots of Pokemon games are generally mediocre at best, I do usually want to know how the bad guys get done in at the end and watch the Team Whatever Grunts flail about when they lose to a kid. Maybe it’s the thrill of catching legendary creatures. It could also be the fun of starting a journey with cute little Pokemon and watching them grow with my character to become the very best like no one ever was.
Perhaps it’s just the catchy music?
I think for me, a large part of it really is nostalgia. I was pleased to find that B/W 2 had so many of the previous generations’ Pokemon available from the beginning of the game. Seriously, you have no idea how happy I was when I caught a Growlithe over by the second gym. Also, the fact that so much has stayed the same for so long probably helped me appreciate the new Pokemon, different music, new characters, etc., even more because I didn’t need to learn how to play. I could just think, “Holy crap, what the heck is this new Pokemon? It looks awesome!” and get on with catching it.
Of course, the upgrades are definitely nice. B/W was my first DS Pokemon game, so I loved seeing the improved box access and being able to trade online. Seriously, the GTS is wonderful. It has a few glaring usability issues that I’ll probably write about sometime, but since this is the first time I’ve ever had a chance in hell of filling up my Pokedex, I think I’ll still be playing B/W 2 off and on for a while once I’ve had a break from it.
Since I have a 3DS, I was also able to pick up Dream Radar, and I think that will also help keep me playing. You can use it several times a day to catch Pokemon, find useful items (Surely I’m not the only one that uses it to farm evolution stones…), and look like a crazy person while using the 3DS’ AR functionality to shoot fluffy clouds. Then, you can transfer your spoils to your B/W 2 cartridge, and voila! New stuff to play with in-game. Did you know that you can even plug in previous generation cartridges and catch those games’ mascots? I borrowed SoulSilver and Platinum from a friend to do that. Pretty nifty, right? I’m not-so-secretly hoping Dream Radar is actually a tech demo for how you’ll catch Pokemon in a full-blown 3DS entry in the series…but let’s save my hopes for the first 3DS generation for a future posting.
Yep. This is totally an accurate depiction of Dream Radar.
There are tons of social things you can do in Pokemon these days, too. I recently discovered the Pokemon Global Link website, and I’m hooked on it. Maybe I feel a bit childish playing those minigames to catch Pokemon, but I love that you can meet other trainers from the Dream World in your B/W 2 game. Join Avenue is a pretty gimmicky little time waster: you can run a shopping district populate it with trainers you meet online, through trades, or in person over IR. But hey, I actually have a lot of fun seeing them show up, so I figure I’ll try to put some effort into it.
Do you play Pokemon? If so, what’s your favorite thing about it? What would you like to see improved about the series in the future? Feel free to share your thoughts, Pokemon conspiracy theories, and random funny images in the comments.
If you’re looking for something inspiring to remind you that video games can be good for the world, take a look at this. There’s a class at the University of Michigan that has students develop games for use in therapy for autistic kids. Their goal is to provide these kids with simple games that will engage them and get them to do something active.
It’s such a great idea to have students working on projects that can actually be used in the real world to benefit others rather than having them just do abstract exercises that might teach them the concepts they need to know but have no context. It sounds like the kids these engineering students are making these games for are having fun, too.
Do you find this inspiring? I know I did. If you want more information apart from the YouTube video, check out the whole story here.
A while back, I posted a little write-up on how I made my sonic screwdriver prop for my 10th Doctor costume. It doesn’t light up or anything, but it looks pretty close to the real thing. I’ve been wanting to go back and make one that has all of the electrical bells and whistles, but I haven’t gotten around to it. Maybe sometime when I do make one, I’ll post a tutorial. Meanwhile, I think I’ll just let this guy teach you.
Is he not the most awesome kid ever? I have a degree in electrical engineering, so of course I’m comfortable brandishing a soldering iron at stuff, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone quite so young who could finish that entire project. He even included a wiring diagram! And he advised the use of heat-shrink! I absolutely love this tutorial, and I especially like that he encourages folks to design their own housing.
There aren’t many videos on the YouTube channel where you can watch this, and that’s a shame. I’m subscribing anyway, though, just in case he decides to make more.I’m just feeling totally inspired and pumped right now, and I want to go and make something. I may have to make a stop off at the hardware store and Radio Shack after we go grocery shopping this week. Or maybe I’ll just make a DigiKey order…
What about you? Did you enjoy this video? If you did, go give it a like on YouTube and share it with all the DIY-minded Whovians you know. Heck, share it with people who might not ordinarily do something like this: it might make them want to give it a try.
Candy Corn Crunch (Pintester): Somehow, this ended up being one of the sites I read most regularly, so don’t be surprised if it makes an appearance every week. In any case, the candy corn crunch pin she tried out looks tasty enough to rot your teeth out.
Treasury Tuesday: Halloween Nostalgia (Mom’s Basement): The folks at Mom’s Basement put together a fun Etsy treasury to celebrate your favorite ghoulish holiday. I’m feeling rather inspired…maybe I’ll swing by Etsy sometime this month and make one myself.
In the Mines of ‘Give Me Moria’ of This! (Henchman-4-Hire): If you’re into Legos or Lord of the Rings, you need to go watch the stopmotion video in this post. It explains why that cave troll was so pissed at the fellowship in Moria. Too funny!
How hard do you want it? (the Little Red Reviewer): The author shares her random thoughts on hard science fiction and when it gets to be too academic. An interesting read that makes me think I’m more into soft sci-fi myself.
Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to leave links of your own to interesting nerdy stuff in the comments.
We went on a little road trip this past weekend, and I finally got a chance to play 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors during the ride. I must say, I was expecting it to be good, but I wasn’t expecting to like it quite as much as I do. I seriously played the game until my DS was about to die; I just couldn’t put it down. You could compare it to a good book: once you start, you just want to keep reading to find out how it ends. Now, I’m eagerly anticipating the sequel that comes out later this month.
In 999, you play as Junpei, a college student who wakes up on a sinking ship with no idea how he got there. It turns out that there are eight other people on board with similar stories, and they must work together to solve puzzles and escape death over the course of nine hours. There are nine numbered doors, and if they find the one with a “9″ on it, they can make their way to freedom.
The story does a brilliant job of keeping you in suspense, often teasing you with small details that add up to a bigger picture. If you want all of the information, though, you’re going to have to play through six different endings. Only one path that will lead you to the true ending, so you will have to pick your doors wisely. Of course, you could always do what I did, which is follow a helpful, spoiler-free guide to get to the endings you want to see.
The game’s intriguing, entrancing, and mind-bending story would be nothing without its colorful cast of characters, though. Each and every character has a distinct personality, and as you learn more about them, they become anything but flat. They don’t necessarily grow too much as people (Come on, they only have nine hours!), but they do develop relationships with each other and they definitely make you care about what happens to them.
The artwork in 999 is good as well. The characters are well designed, and the mysterious ship is very detailed. The only annoying thing is that sometimes the environments were so detailed it was easy to get lost in a couple of places or miss something that needed investigating, but I suppose that just contributes to the sense of immersion.
Speaking of immersion, the soundtrack does a great job of pulling you into the game without being overbearing. There is actually a lot of silence in 999, so when you do hear music, it really adds to the atmosphere and helps you tap into the sense of urgency that the characters are feeling.
Luckily, you never actually have to rush your way through any of the puzzles, even if the music makes you feel like your life depends on your next button press. Some of the rooms are pretty big and some of the puzzles can be frustrating, but since there isn’t actually a timer ticking down for you as the player, you can take all the time you need to figure things out. Thankfully, the puzzles usually are only annoying when you’ve somehow managed to miss exploring a part of the room you are trapped in. So, if you hit a stumbling block, just take some time to poke around some more with the stylus. Odds are, you’ll find just the item you need around a corner you didn’t realize you could investigate. Otherwise, the actual completion of the puzzles really isn’t that difficult.
Once you’ve beaten the game for the first time, you can go back and restart it with the memories of your previous playthrough. You’ll need to do this to get the true ending. It’s also really nice because after your first pass, you can skip all of the text you’ve seen before. If I have one complaint, it’s the fact that you can’t increase the text speed unless you are flying through story stuff you’ve read already. At least you can save at any time; this way, if you need to shut off the game, you aren’t stuck waiting until the end of a long text sequence.
One other thing worth mentioning is 999‘s mature rating. It definitely earns it with lots of swearing, tense situations, very detailed descriptions of some rather gory corpses, etc. This probably isn’t a DS game you’ll want your kid playing if you don’t want them picking up curse words and seeing huge blood splatters. If I’m honest, 999 really is a bit of a twisted game, though it does have a touching ending and a brilliant story.
The Good: Great story with great pacing + suspense, well-rounded characters, nice art, good music
The Bad: No speed increase option for text
Bottom Line?: Keep in mind the rating, but if you like a good story with well-done suspense and great characters (basically, if you aren’t out of your mind), go play 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors as soon as you can get your hands on it. Still not convinced? Here’s a trailer.
Starting this week, I’m officially changing the format of the Geek-ly Roundup to make it a place where I promote other bloggers I follow. There are some great people writing awesome stuff about games, crafts, anime, etc., and I want to share their work with all of you on a regular basis. Each week from here on, I’m planning to highlight a post or two from several different blogs that I enjoy reading. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy these pieces, as well!
Better Than Nutella? (A Quiet Nerdy Thing): She discovered a spread made from Biscoff cookies. I must find this mystical condiment and put in on all of the things!
Bourbon Cider Cocktail (Pintester): The Pintester takes on a Pinterest recipe for…you guessed it, bourbon cider cocktails. Sounds pretty good to me.
I think we’ll call that a wrap for the link roundup this time. I’m planning to do this every week (though not necessarily on the same day every time), so send me links to cool stuff if you think it should be featured.