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Stardew Valley Keeps Me Happy

I’ve never been great at video games. As a kid, I learned quickly that some people were naturally skilled at fast-paced, first-person shooters, and very much wasn’t one. The whole thing just made me anxious. Recently, though, I’ve been trying to game. Everyone always talked about how relaxing it could be, so I’d decided to give a few different ones a try. Some featured long walks and conversations or careful little puzzles topped with the soft sprinkling of bells or sweetly plucked strings. 

But none of it ever really stuck. Most games like that take, what, a week to finish? Best case, a month? And of course, I knew about the Animal Crossing games, but if I’m not a gamer, why invest in a console? But then I came across Stardew Valley, and it happened to work for me. 

Source: Giphy

Stardew Valley, if you’ve never heard of it, is a retro farming simulator with virtually endless possibilities in the form of side quests. Something about the simplicity of it is mesmerizing. I mean, when you begin a day (a save point in the game) you always start by watering and harvesting your crops. It’s such a quiet, calming task. 

The stress of living in the city, living under the expectation of constant productivity made me stressed—something I think we can all understand. Spending my nights and weekends enveloped in the cheerful, monotonous existence of living off the land. Honestly, it has been the most relieving experience. Even roleplaying as a farmer in a tiny, coastal town made me feel better about my constantly moving, loud, pushy life. 

Source: Giphy

Strangely enough, Stardew Valley has even helped with the quiet. Somehow this game feels as just productive as it does relieve. In the quiet of quarantine, it can feel nice to grow and be social, even if it’s in a virtual town. I can’t explain it, but for some reason, this game has provided comfort that I can’t find anywhere else. A life away from life. Better than any other life simulators out there because it isn’t about appearance or popularity. It’s about taking it slow, day by day. Maybe everyone could use more of that feeling.

Goal Setting & The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

Of all the games I have played, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is one of only three that breaks 400 hours of playtime. For a selective and episodic gamer such as myself, 400 hours put into a game is actually very significant — the only games that beat that are the supertitle Minecraft and a momentum platformer called N++. I began with its origin, The Binding of Isaac, in middle school, and got its sequel, Rebirth, on the winter solstice, the 21st of December, in 2015. After having already become infatuated with the first game, taking to the second was as instinctual as sleeping. Rebirth was everything that its flash-game predecessor was, and more. All the same enemies, items, progressions, but then more enemies, more items, and more progressions. These memories are so old now, I must half-fictionalize the series of events, but I believe I can do so with accuracy.

I had 100% completed games before. They were casual games at that; Super Mario Galaxy, Super Mario Galaxy 2, and Kirby’s Epic Yarn make the list. Those games provided an easy first experience for doing everything there was to do in a game. Nothing was incredibly difficult, but the content was optional and challenging enough that accomplishing it felt like a worthy effort. Having come from those, I looked at the achievement list in Rebirth. At the time of launch, there were a whopping 178 achievements, not including those I would soon be faced with once I purchased the expansion Afterbirth. Phew, 14-year-old me must have thought, this will be my biggest challenge yet.

And thus I dove in.

Many, many times will you die.

Part I: Having Fun with Being Bad

When starting something new, it is important to be shameless. Everyone’s heard the quote “nothing worth doing is ever easy”. Rebirth is no different. The game is a ruthless gauntlet of sometimes truly unfair scenarios and challenges; it is not noob-friendly, to say the least. To tell the truth, Edmund McMillen’s games rarely are. And to continue with the truth, not many real-world skills are, either. Practically everyone who begins dabbling in a new artform knows the pain of feeling like you aren’t, and never will be, good enough. But most everyone also knows that such a mentality is likely to get you nowhere.

If I played Rebirth and held myself to the standards of the YouTubers that I watched, I would have given up then and there. How could I be proud of myself when I lost my first ten games in a row? How could I not throw the controller in frustration? Well, because there is a hidden beauty in being bad at a new thing.

Instead of measuring your success in proportion to the success of others, the only meaningful way to measure success is to measure it against your past self. Almost nobody can try at something repeatedly and not get better at it, so I’m going to safely assume that you’re not one of them. If you notice not your shortcomings, but instead your gradual improvements, you will become acquainted with a chronic good mood as you throw attempt after attempt into your chosen challenge. That was precisely the state I found myself in while playing Rebirth.

Failing was never the frustrating part. Failing where I had once succeeded made me frown and think: I can do better. But usually, regression would just push me further. If I was struggling to beat a boss with one character that I’d beaten with another, I would find myself redoubling my efforts. The next step would be to become consistent at beating that boss, and then practice beating them quickly. Once that was done, I would pat myself on the back for achieving my self-set goal. The process was slow, but it was enjoyable. I did not watch playthroughs and think: Now why can’t I do that? Instead, I watched playthroughs and thought: Won’t it be great when I’m at that level one day? And with this mindset, I slowly began winning. And once I started to accumulate basic victories, I could expand my horizons to incorporate more challenging ventures.

The checklist, completed in this case.

Part II: Expanding Beyond the Basic Skill

Once you’ve worked hard at acquiring the fundamentals of skill in any specific craft, the next thing to do is to set goals and develop projects. If you’ve just figured out how to play guitar chords, the logical next step would be to find an easy song to practice, allowing you to showcase your newfound abilities. In a game like Rebirth, those goals are pretty plainly laid out for you. Once you unlock new characters (often by just stumbling upon them), they each have a literal checklist of things you must do to consider them “completed”. You get marks for beating Mom, Mom’s Heart, Isaac, Satan, Blue Baby, The Lamb, and more (yes, it is a ridiculous, silly game)! Once you have these goals, it’s your task to organize them by priority.

For a real life skill, such as playing guitar, you’re likely to pick easier goals that let you practice harder skills (such as, say, fingerpicking) in a safe environment. Similarly, in Rebirth, you likely want to start with easier characters before going for completion with harder ones. For example,, you’re most likely going to get all completion marks with Azazel, a flying, blood-laser shooting demon, before getting them with Blue Baby, a character who is incapable of utilizing health upgrades and has poor starting stats. Azazel definitely represents a “safe environment” in which you can practice fighting all the big bosses you will later have to fight with Blue Baby.

The Lost.

Part III: Experimenting & Pushing Your Comfort Zone

There is inevitably going to come a point where the next step is bigger and gnarlier than any previous singular steps you have taken before. In games, we call these “difficulty spikes”, and no matter how smooth a developer attempts to make the difficulty curve, spikes almost always crop up in one way or another. However, with Rebirth, I find it more likely that this massive leap in difficulty was intentional. If you’ve played the game, you likely know what I am talking about.

The Lost.

The Lost is a character unlike any before. They have no health, and ask that the player takes absolutely no damage anywhere in the run. For context, previous characters had up to 12 spots for hearts, allowing them 24 hits, or at least 12 hits on enemies that did higher damage on later floors. The game’s difficulty was absolutely based around this idea of “health management”, which expected you to get hit at least sometimes, and more likely a lot of the time. To ask that you play a character who is incapable of taking any damage without dying is, to put it lightly, unreasonable.

To continue with the guitar analogy, this is somewhat akin to my own experience attempting bar chords. You needed to build finger strength for other chords, sure, but to use the entirety of your pointer finger to hold down all the strings was absolutely beyond anything I had done before. (To this day, they still sound slightly out of tune when I play them!) But to truly compare this to The Lost, imagine that you are a late addition to a band, and they now want you to play a song using bar chords, all the way through, and they’ve got a big gig coming up next week where they plan to play it at the climax in their set. That, I believe, would be roughly equivalent to the jump in difficulty experienced when first playing as The Lost in Rebirth.

I’ll admit, I actually didn’t leave The Lost for last, which I imagine many people did. You see, getting completion marks with different characters in this game unlocks a variety of items that you can find on subsequent runs, and the items unlocked by The Lost are, appropriately, some of the very best items in the game. I felt ready to take on the challenge, and that beating this challenge would make all subsequent challenges significantly easier due to the items I would unlock. I cracked my metaphorical knuckles, fastened my metaphorical headband, and started on the hardest challenge yet. In all honesty, it felt very similar to when I was first playing the game; it felt like learning an entirely new skill.

And I’ll be honest again. Feeling that I was somehow bad once again was frustrating. I had learned not to compare myself to others, but just comparing myself with myself, I felt like I had somehow regressed. I had to, many times, walk away from the game after a failed run and center myself with something else. In fact, I believe this was what started my first big break from the game.

Anxiety incarnate.

Part IV: Nearly Giving Up

A natural part of learning a new skill is doubt. If we refer to the monomyth, this is the part of the hero’s journey called “the ordeal”, where our protagonist loses all hope. I don’t think this is very typical, but “the ordeal” actually happened to me twice. The first time was due to what was asked of me by the challenge of The Lost. It felt totally beyond my skill level, and drove me away from completion. It took me two years to really come back to the game.

With skills such as playing guitar, assuming you didn’t keep it to yourself, you are likely to have some people in your life who feel bad that you gave it up. Maybe a parent, or a close friend, who wants to encourage you to follow your heart. With videogames, especially solo videogames, it is more than likely that these support groups will not be present. My return was entirely dependent on happenstance; in January of 2017, Afterbirth Plus, the second expansion, came out. Once I saw the expansion, I knew that I was destined to come back. This expansion delivered new characters, new challenges, new bosses, and a whole lot more. I wanted to play with those new characters, I wanted to go after those new challenges, I wanted to beat those new bosses… but I felt obligated to finish what I had started. I told myself: All that new fun stuff is a reward for beating The Lost, and I won’t let you have any of it before then.

The equivalent, I suppose, is realizing that there is so much more that will become available to you once you get over the hump. In this case, it was self-imposed, but for many it is not. How many songs must utilize bar chords? How many songs that you want to play include hammer-ons? If you really nail that gig, how many more gigs might you be able to get? Before then, the answer was not many. There was very little content after beating The Lost. It was the final stretch. It took seeing a new horizon for me to realize just how amazing it would be to overcome what was stopping me before. And isn’t it funny that the end of “the ordeal” in the monomyth is called Rebirth?

Triumph  incarnate.

Part V: Getting Back Into It(?)

I did the unthinkable. I beat The Lost. Celebrations were had. All of my friends heard about it, whether they cared or not. Soon after that, I blazed through the rest of the characters, and revisited some that I had already completed in the base game to get new completion marks with them.

In the expansion, Greedier Mode was added, an upgrade to the previous Greed Mode. I beat it with all characters for the completion mark, and then tried again and again at it to max out the donation machine at the end, which yielded more unlocks the more money you put in it. After a thousand coins, I unlocked The Keeper, another challenging character, very similar in difficulty to The Lost. I beat everything with him as well, and was feeling at the height of my game when I finished. I then ran the gauntlet of all the secret challenges from the challenge menu, some of which pushed the limits of what I was capable of. But then, they were gone.

It was here that I felt I was nearing the end. At some point, all that was left was the miscellania — the “get five of this same pill in a single run” and the “sleep in beds ten times” achievements. In fact, there came a point when I was one achievement away from completely beating the game, one achievement from 100% mastery of The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth and its two expansions. The last thing I had to do was to find every single item at least once so they could be in the compendium, and I would achieve all that I had set out to achieve.

It was then that disaster struck.

Edmund McMillen released the last planned update to the game… and it added an entire new character, a slew of luck-based achievements (a good portion of the miscellania I had cleared out just by playing the game so much), new enemies to find, new items to get, new secret challenges… to those who had already done everything there was to do in the game, it was a gold mine. To me, who was so close to finally climbing Mt. Isaac, it was devastating. I didn’t give up, not immediately. I unlocked The Forgotten, beat everything with him, and then even attempted some of the more random-feeling achievements… but then I left. That was in 2018. It felt like I had gotten so close to victory, and I was pushed down. I tossed the controller away and left, intending to never return again.

I can do anything!!!

Part VI: Realizing You Make the Rules

Now this… this is definitely unusual. No person is supposed to lose hope twice, that’s not the common progression. You reach the hump, you overcome it, you persevere. But there was a point that I reached that crushed my spirit even more than the first. It was once I fully understood that I was basing my success on labels. 100% was a label that I had been striving for, for more than a quarter of my life, and definitely over half of my most developmental years. I had, by that point, achieved most of my goals. By this point, the present day, there are 403 achievements. I have, as I write this, 399 of them, but I had a good deal less when I left the game in 2018.

Just like before, pure happenstance brought me back. With the recent quarantine, I’ve been spending a lot more time at home with not much to do. Passing by Rebirth in my Steam library while searching for things to sparked fond memories, so I picked up the game a little less than a month ago and started knocking out achievements again. It was then that I realized why I had stopped playing those two times.

I was going for goals that other people laid out for me. I was being externally motivated instead of internally motivated. My goal was to fill out every achievement on the achievements list, and unlock everything there was to unlock. But did I want to beat The Lost? I felt a great sense of achievement when I did, but did I want to? Clearly not very much; it drove me away from the game in the first place. You may stare your goal in the face, and question whether you want it. Hopefully, you come to the conclusion you really do. I stare my goal in the face, and I falter. 100%, true 100%, has lost its draw.

After putting 400 hours into the game, I don’t consider it bragging to say I’m decently good at it. After a myriad of failures, setbacks, and doubts, good old-fashioned effort won out and I can now reach win streaks of 10 or more with consistency. The real goal was to be good. Achievements served as clear indicators of reached levels of skill. You beat everything with The Lost? Well, according to Steam statistics, that put me in the top 10% of players. So I looked at these last remaining achievements, the ones that asked me to simply find some random items in the game, and I saw that they were not measures of my skill. That 100% isn’t the be-all-end-all of Binding of Isaac mastery.

I have been holding out on saying it, but the real biggest achievement is to 100% the game three separate times. And I don’t think I want to do it three times. That is not my goal. For now, I am having fun returning to a game that I thought I had abandoned. Now I’m realizing I’ve simply done all I want to do. I achieved my goal, because the goal was mine to set, and if my dream doesn’t include making it into the top 5% of players, or the top 3%, or the top 1%, then that’s fine. I set my own goals, not anyone else.

Once I realized this, it was natural to get back into the groove of playing. I think I will keep playing, for the time being, just to take a trip down memory lane and maybe 100% the game once if it so happens upon me. When I finally do that, I think I may never pick up the game again. There is a bit of melancholy to that, isn’t there? The guitar player doesn’t stop playing guitar because he knows he is now a good guitarist. But games are just different that way. I am ready to move on from The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth in a way that I have not been ready to move on from any game ever before. It’s been a good run, and I plan to savor the last couple hours I spend on this game.

I think I am ready to pick up a new skill and be bad at it again. I’ve recently begun learning piano, if only because it is an instrument in my house and I have time on my hands. I am ready to restart the cycle with new knowledge and a better sense of my path. I hope that some of this knowledge, I have imparted to you.

Hoping you overcome “the ordeal” as well.

Sonic the Hedgehog Movie: An Adrenaline Rush of a Good Time

When the Sonic the Hedgehog movie was first announced, fans of all varieties were skeptical with how the final product would look, given that there haven’t really been any video games being made into successful live-action movie adaptations. However, I can say with absolute confidence that the Sonic the Hedgehog movie will make you fear to speed away with it’s faithfulness to the original material, all while adding some extra fun to this wild ride. So slip on your pointy red shoes with white stripes and grab some gold rings, it’s time to go fast with my personal review of Sonic the Hedgehog.

Let’s start things off by talking about the main star of the movie: Sonic (his name is the title of the movie after all and the story is mainly about him). I’m sure that we all agree with how skeptical we were when Sonic’s first design was revealed in the first trailer and the original poster. The stuff of nightmares and the fuel of whether or not the movie would be watchable, but I can say with full confidence that I adore how Sonic looks, especially when they changed his design to look more accurate to what he looks like in the games. I also love the extra details they put into his design, like the quills put into his fur (like what a hedgehog’s fur is like) and making his fur poof out when he shakes himself dry in one scene; let’s not forget the fact that his shoes are held together with tape, (and his socks have holes in them) from over-usage, before receiving his iconic shoes.

Ben Schwartz did an amazing job giving Sonic his voice and bringing to life his facial expressions through the use of facial motion capture (this and any type/form of motion capture deserves more recognition). When it comes to Sonic’s overall personality, I adore his never-ending curiosity and fascination with the human world (our world); some of my favorite moments include Sonic making his own bucket list after learning about them and crossing things off of his list and when he finds a child-like, neverending fascination and enjoyment with the word “guac.”

It broke my heart when Sonic ended up spending many years (after being forced to flee from his home-world as a child) just watching humans from a distance (especially when he has an emotional break-down), out of fear of either side getting hurt because of him, especially when some of the people he watches become like a family. Of course Sonic doesn’t always see life as nothing but fun and games, when those he cares about are in trouble, he won’t hesitate to take a stand to be their protector (even if it cost him his life).

One last thing that I want to talk about Sonic, before I move on to the next part of this review, is how he’s not afraid to speak his mind when something that someone does bothers him; there were times where he called out a character or two about things they previously did, mainly because he was still processing certain decisions they were making that could lead to serious changes.

In case this paragraph didn’t give you a big enough hint: I loved pretty much everything about Sonic in this movie. Now that I’ve spent a good amount of time gushing over how much I enjoy this movie’s adaptation of our main character Sonic, how about I give the other characters (a mixture of another main character and secondary characters) some attention and talk about what they’ve brought to the movie. Let’s start off with James Marsden’s character: Thomas “Tom” Michael Wachowski, aka The Doughnut Lord, the sheriff of Green Hills, Montana (which a brilliant nod to the original Sonic the Hedgehog game that, sadly, just clicked as I am writing this).

While he enjoys being the sheriff of Green Hills, Tom wants to be able to do more than helping the ducks cross the street, so when he’s given an opportunity to transfer to San Francisco and feel more like a real officer, he is all up for it. However, when his lets the news slip to Sonic, after a series of awkward and dangerous events leads to them taking a road trip to San Francisco (Tom used a tranquilizer dart on Sonic, making him lose his bag of gold rings), that brings their slowly growing friendship to some crossroads. Fortunately, Tom’s wife Maddie, a veterinarian that Sonic nicknamed “The Pretzel Lady” after her regular practicing of yoga, is giving him her full support (given that Tom worked multiple jobs to help Maddie earn her veterinarian degree). Basically, these two are an awesome married couple that just screams “relationship goals,” although Maddie’s sister, Rachel, keeps on telling her to divorce him because he’s not good for her (which always made me confused especially how much Tom sacrificed for Maddie to achieve her dream).

Despite Rachel’s protests, Tom and Rachel help Sonic retrieve his bag of gold rings (and Maddie’s niece gives Sonic his now trademark shoes to replace his old, destroyed pair of sneakers). There are also some enjoyable side characters that have a small amount of screen time but are still able to make a big enough impression to stand out. You’ve got Wade Whipple (played by Adam Pally), a fellow police officer and friend of Tom, who is very dependent on Tom to tell him what to do during certain situations (he’s a character that’s mostly there for comedy-relief, but does do some growing up near the end). Stone (played by Lee Majdoub) is an agent that works for the main villain (Dr. Robotnik) and honestly, he’s one of my favorite side characters.

If any of you have seen Emperor’s New Groove, you’ll what I mean when I say that Stone is this movie’s Kronk. He takes a lot (and I mean a lot) of crap from Robotnik, but he still works for him and even gives him his favorite coffee blend while he’s working on his evil plot. I don’t really know how to turn into words in order to explain why I love this character so much (if you haven’t watched the movie yet, I would highly recommend it just to see why Stone is such a fun character).

Lastly, we have Crazy Carl (played by Frank C. Turner), a conspiracy theorist that spent the most time trying to find evidence that Sonic existed, although he called Sonic the “blue devil.” This guy is a lot of fun, especially since he knows that he’s not crazy, but nobody believes that he saw a big, blue hedgehog (can you blame him?), even with his quick sketch of Sonic (which was a hilarious nod the infamous Sanic meme). There are a few more side character in the movie, but their screen time was so brief and didn’t make them stand out too much that it didn’t leave too much of an impression (which was the only problem I really had with the movie).

Now we get to the part that I’m sure some of you were waiting for: our main villain of the movie, Dr. Robotnik (played by the one and only Jim Carrey). I’m going to start off by saying that Jim Carrey absolutely killed it in this movie! Before the movie came out, a large number of us said that he was going to break his back with the weight of the movie riding on his shoulders. Fortunately that didn’t happen, as the movie as a whole was able to carry more than enough on its own. Every time he was on screen there was never-ending entertainment, yet he also was able to keep you on the edge of your seat. In a nutshell, Dr. Robotnik wants to use Sonic’s power as a source of unlimited energy to power his egg-shaped machines (which is how Sonic gives him the nickname “Eggman”) and take over the world, basically your typical bad guy plot.

While he seems like an energetic, crazy person, underneath that messy hair and thick skull, Robotnik is a super-genius with an IQ of 300 and was able to achieve so much at such a young age. There have been a number of times where he gave Sonic a run for his money (I’ll let you decide how intended that little pun was) during this film and they’ve been enemies in the video game series since the first game back in 1991. Robotnik’s brainpower isn’t his only weapon, he can be very intimidating by himself and with his machines at his side; with just a subtle movement of his hand, he is able to tell them what to do and who to go after, so he’s not just some comic-relief villain. There were a few moments where his use of intimidation had me holding my breath out of fear for the main characters. All-in-all, I really had a lot of fun analyzing Jim Carrey’s performance as Dr. Robotnik.

With every movie, there always a soundtrack that can make just as big of an impact as the characters and the plot, and this movie’s soundtrack was just as enjoyable. Tom Holkenborg (who also helped write the musical score to Deadpool) did an amazing job composing the musical score, it really captured the movie’s energy and the tone of what the characters were going through. While not every song played in the movie is on the official soundtrack, the official soundtrack is very enjoyable to listen to and is worth listening to on repeat. There was even an original song written for the movie, which was played during the ending credits (Speed Me Up, written by Wiz Khalifa, Ty Dolla $ign, Lil Yachty, and Sueco the Child), that definitely deserves to be heard by everyone at least once.

When it comes to the movie’s plot and flow of the story, this one was fast-paced (given the nature of our main character), but it didn’t go so fast that you would have any difficulties following along. There were plenty of action scenes, but you also had plenty of moments to see the characters sit back and have some moments to bond with each other or even come up with any type of plan. The interactions between Sonic and Tom felt very real and you could feel how betrayed Sonic felt when he found out about Tom’s plans to leave Green Hill and move to San Francisco and you could see how that affected their bond.

When Sonic was conflicted and emotional he felt about wanting reach out and connect with the people of Green Hill, but telling himself that he can’t and he had to stay hidden (because that’s how he was raised back in his world). I honestly was about to cry during those scenes because it felt that real to me. Any moment where Sonic and Tom were confronted by Dr. Robotnik put me on edge because I didn’t know if Sonic was going to be captured and I had no idea what would happen if he did. Sure, there were some hints as to what Robotnik would do, but you didn’t know what the movie would show if that type of scene occurred.

At the end, you definitely were given a teaser that there’s going to be a sequel and given how successful the first weekend was, I have full confidence that there will be a sequel. All-in-all, I’d give the Sonic the Hedgehog movie a 9/10, maybe even a 9.5/10. It was energetic, fun, and had a lot of heart in it. The interactions between the characters were very believable and you could feel the sense of urgency when things went bad.

The music was enjoyable to listen to during the movie and even when you’re listening to the soundtrack itself (which is always a win). You might see some moments that seem cliche, but they’re the type of moments that just work in this movie. It would’ve been nice if all of the side characters got enough screen time to be equally memorable, but that would make the movie run a little to long (so I guess they were a necessary sacrifice on the movie’s part). Sonic’s design was fantastic and memorable, his personality and characteristics felt like something straight out of the games, shows, and even the comics. It’s the live-action adaptation of a video game series that I would say is very loyal to the original material.

So if you want something that goes fast, but doesn’t go so fast that it leaves you confused, then I would highly recommend watching Sonic the Hedgehog.

Animal Crossing and Zodiac Signs

Hey guys! Since Animal Crossing is coming out this month I thought it would be a good idea to write a little fun article about some of the villagers! In this article, I decided to talk about which villager your zodiac sign is!

Aries

Friga: Your favorite snooty Penguin is a perfect match for your confident determined Aries! 

Taurus 

Jeremiah: One of the most laid back villagers is perfect for the earth sign Taurus!

Gemini :

Tank: This confident villager is a perfect match for all you Geminis out there!

Cancer 

Margie: This fun-loving villager is a great pair up for you fellow humans who are cancers!

Leo

Jay: This fun-loving born leader is a perfect match forever Leo out there!

Virgo

Vesta: This villager is kind and warm-hearted like every Virgo!

Libra

Bob: This exciting villager is a perfect match for you charming Libras! 

Scorpio

Pudge: This stubborn but loving villager is a perfect match for you Scorpios out there!

Sagittarius 

Filbert: This laid back confident villager is a perfect match for all you Sagittarius!

Capricorn 

Static: This villager is hard to get to open up but when he does he is fun and loving! A perfect match for you Capricorns! 

Aquarius 

Bud: This active villager is a perfect match for your independent Aquarians! 

Pisces 

Goldie: This fun-loving villager is just like your kind-hearted Pisces!

Looking for New Horizons: Animal Crossing New Horizons

[Image source]

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is perhaps one of my most anticipated games of 2020 and I know I’m not alone. Ever since the Switch came out, fans of the series have been begging Nintendo for a new game. New Leaf was a fantastic game with hits depth of complexity and extreme customization options for both personal homes and the town at large.

New Horizon’s departure from the traditional Animal Crossing formula will definitely be a new, interesting way to experience it. The crafting system does have me a little bit tentative personally My first experience with crafting in games was in Stardew Valley. It was something I hated at first since it was something very foreign to me. In time, though, I did come to accept and enjoy it. I’ve still put over 150 hours into vanilla Stardew Valley on Switch despite my initial feelings. 

Other than that, I am pretty excited for the game. I’ve personally put over four hundred hours across nearly six hundred individual play sessions into New Leaf. I even own the special edition 3DS that came with the game pre-installed on it. I’m a huge fan of the series, stretching back to the original Gamecube version. I didn’t play City Folk since I didn’t have a Wii, but I’ve played every other mainline game.

One of the things I enjoyed most about New Leaf was being able to customize the town which was the main draw for it. Despite my leeriness of the new crafting system, it does seem like it’ll offer even further customization than New Leaf. 

One of my main hopes for the game is that they get rid of the stupid grass wear down. Yes, it’s a life simulator and it’s realistic for grass to wear down as people walk over it. Just because it’s a life simulator, doesn’t mean it has to be realistic. A lot of people that played New Leaf will understand the struggle of pathing to cover the grass wear. 

I seriously had to make three mule accounts just to contain all of the necessary parts to create all of the needed pathways.

Hopefully they’ll also keep the town plans in some shape, way, or form. I know a lot of players including myself really appreciated the environmental plan which keeps flowers from dying. Even after getting New Leaf, my flowers are still alive because of it.

I know there are several quality-of-life improvements that I’m really looking forward to. I’m not one to really want to change my facial features or skin tone, but there are other things that I’ll definitely enjoy.

Perhaps the biggest one will be the fact you can dictate where a new villager can move in. Any Animal Crossing veteran knows the anguish and despair that happens when an animal moves in a space you were using for some reason. This was especially bad in New Leaf where you may have things laid out perfectly but then some jerk decided it would be a great idea to move in over your hybrid garden or a foreign fruit orchard. Or they just moved into the middle of one of your pathways so you now have to spend the next twenty minutes redoing your pathing.

This jerk moved into the middle of my pear orchard.

And this one decided the middle of my pathing would be a fantastic place to move so now I have to go around his house.

The fact that they’re actually listening to the feedback of their players is so good. Animal Crossing is supposed to be a game where you sit back, relax, and not have to worry about a thing other than if you caught that fish or bug. Yeah, you have a lot of debt to pay off, but you can do it at your own pace. It’s not so much about the destination but the journey.

Even though the information is still somewhat limited at the time of writing, we have the Direct upcoming tomorrow. Hopefully it’ll give us an even better look at the game. I know I’m definitely gonna be up at nine to watch it.

Console Wars: The Humble Beginnings

If you were wondering where in the hell I’ve been since January 1st when the Virtual Boy article was released, the real answer would be “I’ve been making some cash, working security, my feet and legs hurt, and could break like a box of dry spaghetti noodles at literally any moment” but the answer I will give you guys is that I’ve been in the AAOG basement crafting a series of articles, detailing and researching the near half century of mainstream gaming and I’ve spent the entire month on the most important thing that has existed in the near 50 years of it:

Console Wars.

A concept and social demeanor that has existed since the 1970s but truly began in the 80s with the introduction of the Intellivision and ColecoVision both rivaling each other in the Double Vision wars, as well as same consoles competing with the Atari 2600, the NES going against the Sega Master System, the SNES going against the Genesis, and the newest console war with PlayStation vs Xbox with Nintendo being the Scrappy-Doo of this war (or the Jar Jar Binks of the bunch), it’s safe to say that Console Wars has always been an interesting social concept that always finds a way to be more attention fueled than Twitter rants. But since we have finally entered a new year and a new decade, it means a new generation of consoles. The monolithic Iowa class battleship of the Xbox Series X was revealed at the VGA’s, the inevitable PlayStation 5, although not revealed yet is a nuclear submarine waiting to rise and strike, but the Yamato of the Nintendo Switch Pro is coming fast and it’s ready to claim the throne the legendary Nintendo Empire hasn’t sat in since the Wii. The Ninth Generation of consoles is going to be a war of massive proportions that’ll make The Battle of Iwo Jima, The Battle of the Bulge, The Battle of Verdun and The Battle of Berlin look like a child’s book compared to what these three companies have in store for 2020 onwards, BUT, all wars have to come to an end, and the console Wars eventually have to come to an end with the way how the gaming landscape has been shifting to since the beginning of the prior decade and with the eighth generation of consoles. 

But before we get to that, we must start from the very beginning. So without further or do, let’s strap in and strap on, because we’re going to look into the deep and rich history of console wars, and what the future has in store for it.

The first generation had begun when the Magnavox Odyssey was the first console to be released in 1972, becoming the first home console to be commercially available to the public. Now, most people think that there were no consoles to exist alongside the Odyssey, but there were, and they were called “Pong Consoles.” While the Magnavox Odyssey was released in September of 1972, the biggest gaming phenomenon to exist in the 70s, Pong, would release only two months later with overwhelming success and launched Atari all the way to Saturn, only for them to die in the rings like most bad business decisions they did only two decades after 1977. But after the release of Pong, 1973 onwards OOZED Pong Consoles like a volcanic lava overflow from Kilauea in Hawaii, the amount of Pong Consoles to literally exist from 1973 to 1983 was borderline mind numbing, and I highly recommend watching the episode where the Angry Video Game Nerd discusses Pong Consoles, because we’ll be here all day if we talk about all of them. Here’s a link to the video for all to see: https://youtu.be/FvT8jG1OVdI 

That’s pretty much the gist of the first generation as it was mostly just Pong Consoles against the Magnavox Odyssey, and I can’t really declare a winner in that war, because the first generation was pretty much a free for all, like a round of Rust in Modern Warfare 2. Not only that, but the First Generation has an estimated total of 879 consoles. That’s as much as an average game library today. While technically the Odyssey won by the numbers and sales, it’s just a bit indecisive to say who really won. And for all who wonder how the Odyssey worked, the AVGN has you covered on that front too: https://youtu.be/kDAKxjG7VaI

The second generation, while still flooded with Pong Consoles that caused the never talked about and widely forgotten Video Game Crash of 1977, eventually had proper consoles that pretty much told the Pong Consoles to hold the beers of the Intellivision, ColecoVision, Vectrex, Fairchild Channel F and the juggernaut that was the Atari 2600 as they plowed through the market and into the homes of many people who wanted to own proper consoles. Now I mentioned the Fairchild Channel F, which is actually a Pong console, but once again, AVGN covers this console in his episode of Pong Consoles on YouTube which the link is above. The Intellivision and ColecoVision were the two primary consoles to go against the Atari 2600 and also each other, known as the Double Vision wars. And if you’re wondering who won in this generation’s console war, the obvious answer was the Atari 2600. Both the Intellivision and ColecoVision going against each other in the really short lived Double Vision wars was as forgettable as a BTS album along with their mediocre performance at New Year’s Eve in Times Square. Fight me K-Pop Stans, I ain’t afraid to speak my mind about it. And let’s be double honest, the concept of a numeric keypad on consoles are such a gimmick that I’m surprised that these even sold anything, but let’s remember, this was the 80s, and anything that was new, was considered innovative and cutting edge. If only I could call 911 on the controller and call the fire brigade because I accidentally lit my house on fire. But the problem between both consoles and even the 2600 which would also become a modern day trope that I’ll have, is all three consoles have some of the same games as well as their handful of exclusive games. Oh yeah, and let’s blame Atari for causing the creation of Activision.

Although Atari definitively won the second generation of the console wars in the sales, software and sheer popularity aspect, they would also lose the war at the exact same time for two reasons: The first being because they released the Atari 5200, which was a massive blunder as they followed the weird trend of numeric keypads for controllers, but the controllers broke easily, and it only sold a million units and was on the shelves for about two years before being discontinued in 1984.

The second reason as to why they really lost: the release of Pac-Man, and E.T. for the 2600 in 1982, which became the catalyst to a very infamous moment in video game history.

The Video Game Crash of 1983

To Be Continued…