Playing Sonic Adventure – Oh No…!

Wow, what a month it has been! Settling into a new job, helping the husband also settle into a new job, and rekindling my obsession with coffee has left me with few opportunities to blog. Our poor gaming systems have as of late sat unused most of this past month, but finally I looked over to Felix last Tuesday evening and went, “Hey, wanna play Sonic Adventure?”

My intentions were actually to have Felix begin playing Banjo Kazooie before any of my other childhood games, but I fear I may have to purchase a new N64 to play it, as my old one flickers out every 5 or so minutes these days. D;

Regardless, I was able to convince Felix to start playing Sonic Adventure this week, and I’ve therefore made some observations about what’s to come for Felix and the gauntlet of Sonic Adventure/childhood games ahead. Here are just a few.

Felix will probably have issues with the controls from some of my childhood games.

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I played a variety of game titles growing up. I played well-known classics like Ape Escape, which was fun and super easy for me to get into as a kid. I also played well-known irritations like Tomb Raider, which were nearly impossible to play at times because of the tank controls. For child me, Sonic Adventure was a comfy in-between in regard to control difficulty. Sonic is supposed to feel fast, but while I watched Felix play through the different levels in Sonic’s campaign, I noticed how much of a challenge running in a straight line was for him.

Little does he know, however, that moving on to the different character campaigns in this game will bend, sometimes even reverse what he knows about controlling the characters. Sorry, Felix!

Felix has been frequently flabbergasted with the quirks in this game.

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I have to admit, the GameCube remastering for this game wasn’t much of a “remastering.” I feel it was more of a new skin and an attempt to boost Sonic’s popularity in the States. I said this before in my previous blog post, but the English dub syncing was…pretty cringe-worthy. Watching it being played again has not only confirmed my opinions (watching Felix stare at the screen with jaw agape is quite humorous), but has also reminded me of the super lame jokes that served as the dialogue sometimes. I often wonder how the voice actors didn’t just walk out of the studio sometimes when they read some of their lines.

I still have love for the strange characters in this game, however, dime-turning movements, dated 80’s puns and all. Plus, watching Felix pause the game sometimes to rest a forehead in his palm makes my day. ❤

Felix will hate the Big the Cat campaign.

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I don’t say this in regard to the bandwagon of hate for Big’s campaign that emerged after the Game Grumps played this game. I say it because Felix is very scrutinizing of fishing segments in games. Legend of Zelda? Yakuza? Animal Crossing? He’s talked about them all. Since this whole campaign is fishing, I do fear for Felix’s sanity, because for me, the campaign was a chore, sometimes tedious and hard on the eyes. If I didn’t like it, even as a diehard Sonic Adventure fan, I’m willing to bet that he won’t.

He also probably won’t like how suddenly slow Big is in comparison to literally every other character you can play as in this game, but that’s a subject for another time, I suppose.

Felix, I’m sorry if I spoiled anything for you, and good luck on the Amy campaign!

– C

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All Work and No Play

I’ve been gone for a small time. I’d like to both thank and blame my parents for the reason of my absence. They came to visit last week. It was quite a lovely time, too! Just enough of a buffer before I began WORKING IN TORONTO. As in, a job, that pays money, and allows us to one day maybe become actual adults! So on top of parents visiting and starting a new job this week, it’s been slightly difficult to find time to write a blog post. I plan to push forward, however!

As I was thinking about a good topic for today, I remembered the many boxes my parents brought up with them when they came to visit. Most of these boxes were wedding gifts, but some of them also contained my old video game consoles. While we haven’t unpacked any of these consoles yet, I’m very much looking forward to having my childhood games back.

My relationship with Felix pretty much flourished around the concept of video games. He plays games from the newer consoles, and while I do as well, I’ve kept my childhood consoles and recently started collecting consoles from before my time. That being said, I’ve convinced Felix to, at some point or another, play some of my favorite childhood games. They may not all stand on their own by today’s standards, but they’re very dear to me. Plus, they all have killer soundtracks, something Felix looks for in a good game more often than not.

So here are my top three most anticipated games for Felix to eventually play. 😀

1. Banjo-Kazooie

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I actually played the sequel, Banjo-Tooie, before I played this game. You can blame my mom for that. Playing them in reverse order has done nothing to tarnish the quality of this N64 classic, however. Felix enjoys games rich with collectibles, and boy, does this game provide in that department! Hell, he might enjoy the collecting more than I did playing this game as a child! I do have to argue that Banjo-Tooie did a better job at spreading out its collectibles to keep exploration more fresh, but I’ll reserve my opinions for after Felix plays the first game.

Felix is also quite familiar with Grant Kirkhope’s music thanks to me forcing him to listen to various tracks throughout the different levels of this game. My favorite soundtrack of his would still be DK64, but this soundtrack is pretty high up on the charts as well!

I know it may seem like I actually want Felix to play some of the other Rare games of the 90’s, but I know he’s more interested in Banjo-Kazooie, whether it be from watching numerous Youtubers praise it so highly, or from watching different clips that we’ve found online, so I’ll push him to play this game, first and foremost.

2. Kingdom Hearts

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Just the first one. I’ll be crucified by some people for saying this, but I’ve been content for almost ten years now having just played the first four games released for this series. Plus, I know my husband isn’t fond of game franchises that flip flop between timeline chronology.

Felix is actually quite picky with his RPG’s. For instance, while he played the hell out of Chrono Trigger, he couldn’t possibly finish Final Fantasy IV. Yes, FF4 was way more of a grind-a-thon than Chrono Trigger, but the story was still quite vivid, and I found very little frustration in beating it. The richness of the story in Kingdom Hearts is even more vivid, in my opinion.

The original Kingdom Hearts, as well as KHII, used to be my obsession. I made duct tape rings and bracelets so I could cosplay as Roxas (I never did.) and memorized all the Japanese lyrics to Hikari. And then the storyline became super convoluted and I gave up. I still have fond memories, however, of the stages and gameplay mechanics, and I feel like Felix could also get on board with these features.

Oh, and the soundtrack is also amazing. There’s not much to say about it. It’s just great.

3. Sonic Adventure 2 Battle

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My mom had a tendency of getting me sequel games before their prequels. I never cared, though. I still adore this game. It’s such a strange game. It has awful English dub syncing, had pretty much no remastering whatsoever for the GameCube port, and had some eyebrow-raising glitches at times.

But I played every bit of this game – even the shitty racing portion of the game. Even extra missions you could gain emblems from on each stage. I played the ever living hell out of this game. And, over the years of dating Felix online, I showed him some of the sick music featured in the game, including the various rap music that Hunnid-P did for Knuckles’ stages. I honestly feel like that’s the sole reason he’s willing to play this game. He secretly loves the music for Knuckles’ stages, he just won’t tell you that.

There are many more games I’d like to see Felix play from my childhood, but I guess we’ll start off with these three. He’s currently playing Assassin’s Creed: Rogue now, so I doubt we’ll get to any of these three for a bit, but I’m looking forward to it!

– C

Tactical RPGeez

A couple of months ago my husband and I started to play Fire Emblem: Awakening. And when I say that we played it, I mean that he played while I watched, because I was busy with other games. We actually just beat it, much to both my joy and my sadness. While I know that we were incredibly late to the party, we kept ourselves as spoiler-free as possible and thoroughly enjoyed our first play-through.

I started to think, however, about how Awakening compared to the other Fire Emblem games we had played before. Sure, with time and better consoles, the franchise has been able to make massive leaps in quality over the years, but some aspects of the Fire Emblem core remain the same, with the exception of Awakening.

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Awakening really focused on building relationships between characters. Everyone who’s played it knows that, and I feel like it really helped boost the franchise’s popularity in North America and other non-privy countries. It was probably my favorite part of grinding levels, in fact. This mechanic of relationship building isn’t new, however. It’s simply way more justified. In Awakening, the player could pair up whomever they wished, which would essentially guarantee a support conversation at some point.

As Felix was playing Awakening, I was playing Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade. This game also included support conversations, but I personally paid very little attention to them. While they helped boost stats between two characters with a high support level, they weren’t essential to completing the game. Not only that, but it was far more difficult to keep two characters side by side in Blazing Blade – at least, personally.  Toward the end of the game, I had at least a few support conversations unlocked anyway by sheer length of playing, so I appreciated Awakening making it easier to build relationships.

A big complaint I had about Awakening, however, was its difficulty level, or lack thereof. Felix usually flies through new games, so he was able to beat Awakening pretty fast. I’m normally the opposite, but when I was playing Blazing Blade, I took longer than usual the beat it because of how ridiculous some battles became. I enjoy games that are actually doable in their difficulty, but the game loses some of its luster when it has no challenge. If it hadn’t been for the deep character interaction the game allowed, I probably wouldn’t have liked Awakening nearly as much.

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Nowadays, Felix and I are playing two different Fire Emblem games in our attempt to call ourselves true fans. Felix is playing the remake of Shadows of  Valentia-  Echoes, and I’m playing his copy of Sacred Stones. We’ll eventually make it to Fates, of course; gotta save up some money, first.

I’ve heard from different reviews that Echoes is far more difficult than other recent games in the franchise, which will prove to be quite interesting, but so far it has also surprised us with some new features, like dungeon crawling and full voice acting. Maybe, if the game is difficult enough, I’ll beat Sacred Stones before Felix has a chance to beat Echoes. Wish me luck!

– C

Magikarp Jump is a…SPLASH

I was going to talk today about more Fire Emblem stuff, but then suddenly I started seeing ads this week on my Instagram and Facebook from Pokémon and its associates about a new app called Magikarp Jump.

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I initially didn’t have interest to download the game because frankly, it looked kind of stupid. I don’t dislike Magikarp as a Pokémon, but the only reason I usually catch one is so I can evolve it into Gyarados, and in this game you can’t do that, no matter how much you train. Plus, the meat of the game is simply to make your Magikarp the highest jumper.  So why would I download the game?

Well, you can thank my husband for that. He downloaded it earlier this week and plays it daily. I watched him off and on to see what all you can do in the game, and that’s when some of the small details really got to me.

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The game is really straight-forward. You’re asked to fish for Magikarp and train them to compete in jumping leagues so that one day you can have the highest jumping Magikarp in the world. To achieve that, you feed your Magikarp berries while in its pool, get boosts from support Pokémon, like Pikachu, and train it using a variety of techniques that, more often than not, involve your Magikarp slamming itself against either a counter or a formidable force, like a tree or a punching bag. These methods let your Magikarp gain JP, or Jump Points, and gain levels too.

When you think you’ve gain enough JP, you compete against other Magikarp in various leagues to see who can jump higher. If you win, your trainer gains experience points as well, which increases your motivation score, allowing your Magikarp to grow faster. If it loses, however, it is forced to retire.

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Like I said, the essence of the game isn’t that exciting. What made me download the game was the sense of randomness the game provides. When your Magikarp retires, you get to fish for a new one, and this game introduces many, many different patterns your Magikarp can show on its scales. There are patterns with calico splotches, fishbone patterns, and even shiny Magikarp!

Plus, as you’re training, you might encounter the mayor of the city, who will come by to massage your Magikarp, letting you train him an extra time. You might find that your Magikarp is slacking off and you’re given the choice to either scold him, or leave him alone. Random chance makes it to where scolding him will either pump him up some more, or even make him feel bad about himself and lose JP. You might even find a Pokeball in the pool and open it up, either rewarding you coins, or revealing a Voltorb that electrocutes your Magikarp and kills it. That’s what I’ve enjoyed about the game. It keeps me on my toes just enough to keep me interested.

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Will I be playing this game months from now? Maybe. Probably not, but if the game keeps me on my toes the way it has so far, maybe. Magikarp Jump a quirky game that I know Nintendo put some actual thought into. It’s not the most fun I’ve ever had in a game, but it’s something nice to pass the time when I’m bored. I don’t want to give too much away, but I’d recommend at least giving it a fair shot. Who knows? Maybe you’ll encounter something random that no one else has.

– C

The Hunting of Jobs and Insects

So, I know I kind of crashed and burned for a little bit. To be honest, I was considering quitting my blog after not even publishing ten posts. I know, I’m disgusted with myself, too. My husband is a gift to humanity, however. He’s convinced me to give another few pushes. I’ll be trying to now post once a week here, so prepare for uneducated squirming over life on a more regular basis.

One good thing has happened in my life as of late. I know I’ve told some, but I’ve tried to keep it slightly on the down low for now. I got my Canadian job permit recently, and was able to then get my Canadian SIN documents. Now comes the most exciting part – job hunting! I’ve had little to no luck so far, as Toronto is a far larger city to try and shove oneself into the job market than Charlotte. I’m still applying for work nearly every day, but woooow. It gets a bit irritating at times. I feel like I’m throwing bread crumbs at an empty pond.

Speaking of hunting, I’ve also been playing The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword with my husband. And when I say that, I mean that I’ve been struggling to catch bugs, even with the upgraded bug net. I’d say that, in writing this blog post, I’m about 2/3 through the game, and I still cannot catch bugs to save my life.

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I can almost sense my husband watching me when I come across a particularly skittish bug during my adventures. The background music quiets, my hand steadies, and one of two things happens. One, I underestimate my net swing against a tree and the bug flies away. Two, I flail around with the net in an attempt to scoop up bugs I find on the ground and end up squishing them instead.

Thank goodness the flailing technique tends to work pretty decently on insects that flutter around me. Regardless, I enjoy Skyward Sword, whether or not I enjoy the controls or the bug hunting mechanic.

And if anyone by chance knows where I can apply for work and/or give me a good word somewhere, I’ll buy you a beer.

– C

Shameless Self-Promotion

I never intended for this blog to contain self promotion of any sort, but I wanted to make an exception to this project because it’s so exciting!

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Sol Ni Koro is an RPG mixing 2D/3D animation and art. Felix has known the creator for some years now, and the game has its own Kickstarter campaign and Steam Greenlight. Its goal is quite low, only 50 GBP, but it has quite a bit of promise.

Plus, not only if Felix involved with the project, but so am I! It’s always been a dream of mine to help edit or write for a game or writing project, but when I was in the States, I got carried away with hourly work and was too tired to do anything freelance. Now that I’m unemployed and immigrating, however, I finally get a chance to show my editing skills.

Please, if you have a moment, take time to check out the Sol Ni Koro’s Kickstarter page, or vote for it on Steam Greenlight. It’s been fun to work with so far, and I can’t wait to see what it becomes!

– C

Traveling to London – No, the Other London

A short story about my first time to London, Ontario.

This past month or so has been pretty hectic for Felix, partly because he’s been helping various instrumentalists audition at various universities. Some of the auditions have been local, and therefore not a big deal, but a few have been completely out of the way for him. One such location was at University of Western Ontario. In London. About two hours outside of our area.

While he’s been compensated for all his accompaniment, and has generally done his auditions solo, he asked me to come along on his trip to London so I could help with GPS directing and keeping him awake behind the wheel. Mostly the latter.

The day of the audition, we left out of the house with about an hour to spare, because we were due at 6pm, and Felix likes to be early. We found ourselves, however, immediately struck with traffic that kept us in Toronto for that first hour. By the time we were out on the open road between Toronto and (I love this name) Guelph, Felix was annoyed by our delay, I was annoyed by his slightly erratic driving habits, and we were surrounded by deep fog. I’m used to fog, but that was when I lived in the Appalachian Mountains, so I hadn’t seen fog like this in almost a year, nor had I seen so much farmland.

I mention the farmland and the fog very specifically because, during that hour and a half or whatever that we were borderline speeding down the 401 toward London, I was having a nostalgiagasm. The open road, the horses and cattle, the chicken coops, and sudden ad billboards may not have seemed interesting to the natives to Ontario, but to me, it was a slice of home I didn’t realize Ontario possessed.

I’ve lived in Toronto for over three months now, and I’ve gotten used to the subtle differences between my home in Charlotte and here. But during that slightly boring car ride, I admit, I got a tiny bit emotional. I didn’t cry or anything, but it brought me home. I also, of course, expressed all of it to Felix, in ways like testing his knowledge of silos and barns, to which he would reply, “I know what they are, I read books!”

London was also a fleeting reminder of being in Charlotte, but in a slightly more cynical manner. Charlotte can be super sketch at times, and I was reminded of this sketchiness when we finally got to London. Shitty street lights, the occasional abandoned strip mall section, amusing Asian restaurant names (like Best Korean Place), and this couple that we swear were about to have sex in the parking lot of an Esso while we were pumping gas. Please, don’t think I’m insulting London, because I’m not. I’d only insult Charlotte, I promise. It just left me in disbelief that it was so similar to Charlotte in certain ways.

Would I go back to London? Well, I mean, I have to, because Felix has another audition there. But would I go back again? Probably not. It’s a really far trip, and in probably the thickest fog I’ve ever experienced while in a car. It was a super refreshing experience, however, and I’m glad I got to go.

Sorry for making this short story a bit longer than I thought it would be. It’ll probably be longer next, time, though.

– C