Let Him Show You Them

Sez Punchdrunkmonkeyman.com:

I haven’t been able to finish any of these Pokémon games since I picked up something to play them on. It’s kind of shameful, and I don’t really know if the problem is an inability to save state or the general lack of critters I like. I’m 75$ certain it’s the latter.

(I think he meant 75%, not $75 – although I’m sure both of us have chucked far more than that amount after these little beasts.)

On one occasion, PDMM came to visit me and K, and we spent a few hours one afternoon sitting three-across on the couch, playing Pokémon on our DSes.  I remember that it was a lot of fun, and I made a mental note that I should play more often.

Then I did, and remembered:  I liked Pokémon, not Little Boy Walks Around Dismally In The Woods After Dark.

You see, my problem with these games (since Pokémon Crystal) is that all of the games are now on a stupid real-time clock1  That means that if you are playing at 8 AM, it’s morning in the game, and at 8 PM, it’s night. Different creatures appear depending on the time of day, which gives a clear incentive for playing at different times.  This is a neat idea.

Also, to indicate that it is nighttime, the game’s palette becomes very desaturated and dark, giving a dim and gloomy overtone to the entire game world.  For my purposes, this is considerably less neat.

Guess what?  I have a job during the day, so I’m mostly playing games at night, and if I wanted dim and gloomy, I have any number of modern shooting games to play. 2  Furthermore, I’m not so into the Pokémon games that I’m interested in playing over lunch, or first thing in the morning before work, or every weekend.  It is a diversion, not a religion.

(I have also experimented with adjusting the clock.  For a while, I was actually playing Pokémon on Tokyo time.  For some reason, this became disorienting, especially when I wanted to play any other game that interfaced with the system clock, such as Animal Crossing.  It was also irritating, because I was very conscious of circumventing some part of the game in order to enjoy it.  I have played – and attempted to play – enough PC games to get my fill of that particular sensation.)

I’ll admit, the real-time clock concept seemed pretty cool at first.  But whether it’s in Pokémon, Animal Crossing, or really any game, synchronizing the game clock to the real world clock is actually harmful to any sense of immersion, and by extension, fun.  It’s just one more annoying gimmick that will keep me from playing.3

I’m sure that these features are part of a scheme to keep kids from playing games for too long at a sitting, and they’re just working too well on me.  Still, I’m stuck inside while the real sun is out.  Don’t you dare keep me locked out of virtual daytime, too.

  1. Before Pokémon Crystal, my problem was simply that I didn’t have a GameBoy. []
  2. I even have DOOM 3, which is pitch black and scary.  That’s like dim and gloomy taken to the extreme.  Also, it is stupid.  That’s like irritating taken to the extreme.  I guess that means that DOOM 3 is basically just Extreme Pokémon. []
  3. Here is where I narrowly avoid ranting at length about Nintendo’s various and egregious stupidities of the past few years.  Perhaps in another post. []

Mega Man 9

Are You A Bad Enough Dude

With the likes of Jeff Gerstmann and Ryan Davis at Giant Bomb decrying Mega Man 9 as way hard, I wondered if maybe I had made a bad decision in buying fully three copies of this downloadable gem.1

However, a Gamasutra article about the game gave me hope that I could get along with the challenge.  Now, at my in-laws’ house, I have determined experimentally that I am, in fact, still a hard enough dude to enjoy some Mega Man, by knocking out Galaxy Man, Jewel Man, and Plug Man already, and itching for more (once Dad’s done watching the Rose Bowl).

(However, I’m not too hard a dude to appreciate this little guide.)

  1. One on XBLA, one on my Wii, and one along with a copy of Mega Man 2 on my youngest brother’s Wii.  This last one was so that I could play in our PA hotel room, but also so that he’ll have a chance to hone his skills. []

Then Playing: Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts

I just finished Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts.  I really enjoyed it, as I’d have to for it to pull me out of Fallout 3 and Fable II for three weeks straight.

When I was a kid, I’d use my construction toys (Lego, K-Nex, etc.) to build various fantastic vehicles and then push or hoist them around the house.  BKNB is that, all over again, but you build the vehicles and operate them in fantastic environments to complete challenges.  As you progress, you can also unlock more and more parts to make progressively crazier vehicles.

I probably don’t have to say anything more than that, since there’s a demo out.  The difficulty curve seems to be shallow enough that kids and casual gamers should be able to play it, too, if they enjoy it.

Christmas Lists Updated

One Task Handled

Attention, family members who have been asking me about my wish lists:

I have now vetted my Amazon.com and Thinkgeek.com wish lists.  They now contain nothing that I already own.


Now Playing: Mirror’s Edge

Full Title – Mirror’s Edge: I Hope You Like Falling To Your Death.  Repeatedly.

You know how First Person Shooter games sometimes have jumping puzzles in them?  And they’re really hard, because you can’t see your body?  And a high-definition screen and surround sound does not really make up for the lack of depth perception and proprioception?

Mirror’s Edge is all those stupid jumping puzzles made into a game.  I’m going to keep trying to make this work, but I can’t help wondering:  Did DICE make this game because they found a way to make this into a good idea, or because console gamers don’t play a lot of FPSes, and don’t already know this is a terrible idea?

If it’s the former, then I need to practice, because my current gaming skills aren’t giving me “awesome first-person running and jumping” except in very short spurts.  The sense of speed in straightaways is breathtaking, but I think I’ve gotten more sense of speed in the race to terminal velocity and sudden, terminal deceleration.

If it’s the latter… well, I knew this game would be a gamble going into it, but I’d still miss those sixty bucks.