Tuesday, January 13, 2015

5 Life Lessons from the Nintendo 3DS


So the Nintendo 3DS is a great many things. From an enjoyable plaything to a portable time waster to a tool for taking surreptitious photos up women's skirts (in 3D!), it's given us years of fun. What most don't realise, however, is how many things it has taught us over the years. Important lessons: Fire Emblem Awakening gave us the harsh reminder that death is final. Super Mario 3D Land showed us the virtue of patience and perseverance. Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire revealed that 80% of people in the world are assholes, and that said assholes often come equipped with Mega Rayquaza.

These are the most obvious teachings that it has bestowed upon us. But if you delve a little bit deeper, you'll find a hidden layer of gems that will make you wiser, bolder, and Vaiker. Allow me to bestow upon you the invaluable life lessons that the Nintendo 3DS has taught me, and, through the power of bold assumption, therefore taught you, too.


1. Animals are vapid, shallow people

In fairness, animals were never intended to be people to begin with. It's a crime upon both god and nature. But once that line was blurred, we were treated to a world of gossip, bickering and more lost handkerchiefs than an aristocrat's bender.

For one thing, how come nobody in this town seems to have a job, other than the unfortunate few who appear to actually live at their place of employment? If the one human resident goes missing for too long, he returns to a village overrun with weeds. Surely, the goddamn sheep could have done something to prevent that - she doesn't appear to have much else going on in her life.

Animals also seem to love letters. And sure, being sent a lovely letter from a faraway pal is a nice gesture, but if you have to ask a person standing right in front of you for a letter, it a) defeats the purpose, and b) is a clear indication that you don't have very many friends. Then, they can't seem to read the damn things anyway. You wanted to tell your close companion Bill to 'Throw caution to the wind as you embrace the changes riding on the breeze; a telltale whisper that brings forth a new era', but if you want the stupid ducky to decode it, you'll have to dumb it down to 'I like you. You have a good face. Here is a cherry.'


2. Any relationship is possible if you believe enough

Let's face it; you'll probably never get the chance to hang out with LeBron James and Emma Stone. At least, not until you turn on the 3DS and create them yourself, then you can be best buddies forever! You can even coerce them to date one another and get hitched. The resulting baby will probably be named Dexter. You may send him on a journey around the world. LeBron and Emma will be so proud. Don't ever tell any of your friends you did this. Unless LeBron James actually is your friend, in which case, you probably didn't read this far.

We all have our ideal partner waiting out there for us, somewhere, and we're often convinced it's some celebrity who would 'totally dig us if they just got the chance to meet'. You could either pursue this in real life with messy legal ramifications, or save yourself the effort, the emotional turmoil and the lengthy jail sentence by dating a Mii facsimile.

You may even learn something, after all. For example, once upon a time if you told me that Miranda Priestley from The Devil Wears Prada would consider romancing Topher Grace while he was inexplicably dressed as a farmer, I'd dismiss that as impossible. Now, I know the truth, and there is indeed love in the air.

...Though I'm mildly concerned about ramifications from her besmirched ex, Walter White. Topher's best course would be to tread lightly. Or beat Walter in a rap battle. That's always an option.


3. You will be rewarded for being attractive

In Pokémon X and Y, you're finally provided with the opportunity to customise the appearance of your trainer. You can give them silly little hats and hairstyles, and make your avatar seem really unique. Alas, they'll always have the same goofy grin on their face, and are perpetually locked in as a prepubescent child. I wanted to make my trainer an overweight Asian man with a mighty beard, but the option was not available to me. Maybe in gen 7.

One of the curious mechanics is that your wardrobe choices will actually have an effect on how people view you in the world of Kalos. Strutting the streets in a beanie and an old coat? You'll be paying full price for everything, and barred access from the coolest places like some kind of leper. Snazzify yourself up, and you'll be treated like royalty. When the cab driver first discounts your fare because of how hot you look, you feel flattered. ...And then, a little bit creeped out, because, like, you're eight years old or whatever. Don't get back in the cab.

And the less said about Mr. Bonding, the better. The mysterious fade out as he 'teaches' you is bad enough, but the fact that you have to look stylish enough in order for him to gift you with the final O-Power (which is, ironically, the power to hatch eggs) is simply cruel. Why are we not good enough for you anymore, Mr. Bonding? Aren't we pretty anymore? Why won't you bond with me?!

... Eight year olds, Dude.


4. Raising a Nintendog is much easier than raising a real dog

As the wise Milhouse Van Houten once opined, 'Dogs are outstanding!', and indeed, they are. They'll be your friends for life, giving you the unconditional love of a true companion. In return, however, you must do the following things: feed them, walk them, train them, clean up after them, and just generally take care of them. As though they were your hairy offspring.

Sound like too much work? Then grab yourself a copy of Nintendogs. For a fraction of the cost of one real pooch, you've now scored yourself dozens of puppies. And, yeah, some cats too, if you're some kind of sick freak.

Sure, you are supposed to do the same kind of things; the feeding, training and poop collecting, but you could just as easily not. On several occasions, I've left my Nintendogs unattended for months on end, but when I walk through that door, there they are! They're filthy and famished, sure, but they aren't emaciated corpses scattered about the living room, and the husky hasn't killed the pug out of hunger or boredom.

Plus, these dogs can make you money! Enter them in contests, fling a Frisbee off into the distance, and watch in amazement as your Jack Russell Terrier does an incredible midair flip before coming down with the disc in his mouth. Aww, little Mr. Pepper won you a trophy! Let's reward him by sending him off to the doggy hotel (read: the pound) so you can buy one of the more expensive dog breeds.

It's a cruel world in there, but I haven't been bitten once, so I can't be doing too badly. Besides, if Animal Crossing is to be believed, these dogs are about as intelligent as the Kardashians. They probably haven't even noticed.


5. Combining two people to see what their baby will look like always leads to tears

I think a divorce is the best course of action here.

Friday, January 9, 2015

5 amiibo Crossovers That Would Be Awesome

Nintendo have proven time and time again that they rather enjoy your money. Apologists may try to dismiss this concept, but ask anyone who ever bought the first version of a Nintendo handheld. After about a year, a better version is released, causing you to jettison the old one like it was a discarded tissue. A $150 tissue that your parents probably bought you for Christmas, no less.

Their latest foray into dollar gobbling comes in the form of the amiibos. For those unfamiliar, they are small, Skylanders-esque figurines that you can touch onto the Wii U gamepad to interact with certain games. The most fleshed out example so far is their implementation in Smash Bros. Place your cute little Kirby amiibo onto the gamepad, and voila! He's in the game, as an AI-controlled character that you get to train like a pet. You teach him, of course, by beating the everlasting shit out of him. In response, he grows meaner and more ruthless with each skirmish, while occasionally giving you presents and trophies. It's the Nintendo cockfighting you've always longed for!

In the case of Smash, there will theoretically be an amiibo for every single playable character, so start saving up now. Then, try and see if you will ever find a single other opportunity to use your Duck Hunt amiibo again. I suggest while on an actual hunting trip, brandishing it whenever your friend misses their target. Be warned, they might actually shoot you for this.

Some amiibos have also had interactivity with other games; Mario Kart allows certain figurines to provide your Mii characters with costumes, while the Zelda-related amiibos give you special items in Hyrule Warriors. And this is where things get interesting: how does one dictate which characters will be compatible with each game? The Mario cast were obvious locks for Mario Kart, but considering you can make your Mii cosplay as Fox McCloud, the alternative opportunities are limitless.

Here are some potential crossovers that would be undoubtedly awesome:


Mario in Wii Fit

For a man capable of doing backflips, springing onto roofs and literally jumping off of walls, Mario sure is a portly fellow. He must be doing some serious binge eating between each adventure. But we can help change things from 'he fat' to 'Wii Fit' by replacing the eerie monochrome trainers with Nintendo's mascot.

Besides, we've known Mario all our lives, we love Mario, we trust Mario. "Let's stretch-a our legs, wahoo!" Mario advises. And so, we stretch-a our legs. "Hoo! Take-a da deep breath." He instructs. Da breath has never been deeper. "Try to keep-a your center of balance within da yellow area - OK?" ...Actually, it's hard to picture that in Mario's voice. This coming from a guy who learnt how to play backgammon from Mario.

The only concern would be whether featuring the famous Jumpman would lead to people actually leaping on the balance board during mini-games. For the record, such a transgression leads to you being automatically booted from the game. That balance board sure doesn't mess around.


Mega Man in Zelda

Link's got all of the tools and the gadgets in the world, who else could have an arsenal wide enough to tackle the vast landscape of Hyrule? Why, Mega Man of course, a hero infamous for stealing the abilities of slain foes like Sylar from Heroes, or Jet Li in The One, or Zynga whenever they make a new game.

The point is, Mega Man has a tool for every situation. Need a melee weapon to mow through legions of minions? Equip the Flame Sword and lay hellfire in your wake. Can't reach that elusive Heart Container? Climb aboard the Rush Jet and zip over with ease. Faced up with a particularly nasty enemy with no apparent weakness? Use the Top Spin, and spin at them like a maniac to cause massive, inexplicable damage. Seriously, Shadow Man, you disappoint me.

And just think of all of the Zelda bosses you've encountered over the years. Sure, completing their dungeon would score you a sweet new weapon in the process, but how much better would it be if you could steal the bosses' own powers? From the Helmasaur King's mighty shielded noggin to Barinade's electrified jellyfish, the range of awesome tools you could have at your disposal is scintillating. Props to any person who activates Gyorg ability to turn into an angry fish. Because that's not quite as cool, obviously.


Pikachu in Metroid

Since their appearance as allies in Smash Bros Brawl, the Internet has embraced the concept of Samus teaming up with Pikachu. Perhaps it's because of Samus' colourful past of enlisting the services of local animals, or something far more complex, but a quick search reveals that fans have fallen in love with the unlikely duo. It also leads you to drawings and fanfiction that take you down the darkest corridors of the human mind, so there's that.

So far, amiibo implementation has never given you anything too hugely different from the typical gameplay experience, but introducing Pikachu as Samus' little adventuring chum could change all that. Imagine if certain areas were only accessible after the little electric mouse. If you could use his voltage to recharge certain weapons. If Pikachu could one-hit KO Ridley for no definable reason other than to bemuse us all. Would purists cry foul at the tie-in? Or did purists already bail out after Other M?

The juxtaposition of the dark, sinister world of Metroid and the cuddly little Pokémon is also an amusing image that could only be topped by the juxtaposition of Metroid with Wario. Would there have been as much fanart of a Samus/Wario crossover? I shudder to think.


Captain Falcon in Star Fox

The obvious route here is for the amiibo to provide aesthetic changes to the Arwing. And though it would no doubt be cool to travel the Lylat system in the Blue Falcon, they should take it further. Much, much further. I'm talking about replacing perennial wingman Falco with Captain Falcon himself.

Can you imagine it? The banter-heavy Star Fox universe improved drastically by Captain Falcon's completely irrelevant one-liners.

Fox: "Just what I need to see. Star Wolf."
Falcon: "Show me your moves!"

Fox: "Falco! Where you going?"
Falcon: "Falcon kiiiiiick!"

Fox: (upon crashing to his death) "Ahhhhhhhhh!!!"
Falcon: "YES."

Perhaps his inclusion could even make the game harder, as he occasionally rams into other ships, friend or foe, while screaming out "Falcon PAWNCH". You'd hate it until he started targeting Slippy, be honest.


The Villager in Mortal Kombat

Okay, so this one strays from the realm of Nintendo IPs, but we all know that the true malice of Animal Crossing's Villager is being limited by the games he's confined to. In a world of hell-bound sorcerers, zombified Shaolin monks, and whatever Mokap's deal was, the Villager would simply thrive. He collects bugs, he collects souls.

His shovel and axe make for obvious weapon choices, but the most exciting concept is trying to work out what his Fatalities would be. Whether he uses his fishing rod to tear a skeleton from its skin, or unleashes an army of angry tarantulas from his pockets upon hapless enemies, his visage would be remembered across the NetherRealm for generations to come.

Just... don't ask me what fighting style he would use. Surely judo would suit his short stature, but he doesn't appear to have great upper body strength. In actuality, he would probably only be able to punch people in the nads, and that technique remains the intellectual property of Johnny Cage.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION ABOUT NINJA TURTLES


So, in the Ninja Turtles opening theme... What in the fuck is with the mysterious column of boxes that Splinter beats the shit out of? I never questioned it as a kid, but now I wonder what its nature was, and how any form of ninjutsu training can be based upon smashing it to (ironic) splinters.

You might not have asked yourself this, but you most surely cannot un-ask yourself now.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Amiibo and Me

To cap off what has inadvertently become Pokemonth, I thought I'd show you another one of my wee little purchases. As I had alluded to earlier, Nintendo's got a hot new toy on the town in the form of the amiibos. If they were just figurines, I could have resisted. However, the fun integration they have with Wii U games shows a lot of promise. I've only been able to test it out on Smash Bros, but I'm looking forward to seeing what else they are capable of.


That's my boy, Pikachu. With each battle, they grow in level, learning new techniques and traits along the way. After a few skirmishes where I smacked the little yellow guy around, he began to wise up. I came at him with a dashing attack, something he was previously quite vulnerable to, and shock! He sidestepped my assault, grabbed hold of me and flung me off the stage. After the KO, he taunted, just like daddy. Aww. ...Daddy's a dick. And now he is too. I love him.

Anyone else investing in the amiibo frenzy? If so, who did you select? A marvellous Mario? A legendary Link? An alliteration-absent Wii Fit Trainer? Show us your haul!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

#0082: Pokemon Sapphire Version



Have you bought your copy of Omega Ruby or Alpha Sapphire yet? I sure have, and I've been playing that sucker to my heart's content. I can never decide which generation of Pokemon is my favourite, but the third is a strong contender. The locales of Hoenn are vivid and interesting, the story and enemies are probably the series' best, and so many huge mechanics were added that changed the metagame immensely. Now that I have the remake in my possession, I thought I might pass this classic on to a new owner. After all, I also own Ruby as well, and effectively triple dipping on this game felt redundant. Also, kind of delicious when phrased that way.

The moment you fired up Pokemon Sapphire Version, you knew you were living in the new generation. An enormous colour palette! Four Pokemon battling at once! A sombrero-wearing duck creature!! Holy hell, were we truly ready? Early in the game, you see a couple of Machoke moving furniture. This, to me, was simply exhilarating. In previous generations, non-battle sprites were just ambiguous fairies/monsters/flowers/puddles, whereas here, it's as it should be: a scary, artery-brandishing behemoth. You approach it meekly, staring at it in awe. 'Guaaaffaaaahhh!' it roars at you. Possibly because you stepped on its foot.

Soon, you meet your new neighbour and rival. if you chose the male character, your neighbour will be the girl, May. I like to call her Haruka, because that's her Japanese name and I think it suits her. If you chose the female protagonist, you'll get the boy, Brendan, next door. I like to call him Douche, because he's an absolute douche.

As the story progresses, you'll do battle with the nefarious Team Aqua, who plan to cover the planet in water. Consequently, on the sister game, your adversaries come in the form of Team Magma, who, as you could appreciate, intend to do the opposite. The other team will act as foils to these dastardly plans, though frankly, I always thought the Magmas had the more wicked intentions. I mean, seriously - Team Aqua floods the world, okay, we take a leaf from Kevin Costner's book, and become a society of pirates. Team Magma turns the whole world to arid, dry land? Fuck that shit. I've been living in the desert for seventeen years, and it's shithouse. You think you can handle it, you try spending one Christmas in the summer. You'll forsake Christianity real fast. And I still haven't seen a single Regirock out here.


Anyway, in memorium of... wait, memorium isn't a word? That's really awkward. It's like the time I pronounced the word vehemently as it's spelt. Well, whatever. In memory of Pokemon Sapphire, I thought I would share with you an excellent poem I have formulated (just now) on my favourite Pokemon from this generation.

A-hem.

His crest is red
His body blue
Should he strike
You'll have nothing to do
But fear not, old salt
For his name is Swellow
He shan't attack you
He's a friendly fellow


He flies with great speed
And exquisite grace
His talons are sharp
I like his face
He wins in battles
He wins at life
He won many contests
That won him a wife

Special attack is abysmal
Defenceless is he
Not a physical threat
And sub-par HP
But oh, is he fast
Just watch him go
He makes the swiftest
Appear sluggishly slow


Zip, zip, zip!
So agile and clever
He's an Aerial Ace
Who shall always Endeavour
So come watch the show
Fill the whole auditorium
We honour you, Swellow
At least in memorium


...The FUCK, Internet?!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Diancie, or: how I am still addicted to 'video game perfection'


Are you familiar with this sparkly little character, by any chance? It's called a Diancie, and it's the latest in a long line of special promotional Pokemon that are not normally available in-game. Ever since the first generation of the franchise, Nintendo have locked away at least one special little critter, and though the means of distribution have changed over the years, the gist is still the same: join in, or miss out.

Diancie is the first of three special Pokemon for the sixth generation of games, and in order to get it, you have to go into a participating retailer and grab a code. Redeem the code, collect your Diancie in-game, shove it in a PC box, and wiggle with giddiness that your perfect Pokedex streak remains intact. In Australia, the promotion is running from November 10th to the 27th. Once the date is over, the codes can no longer be redeemed. That's fine, obviously, because all of the previous promotional Pokemon were also only available for a limited time.

What makes things different, this time, is the code distribution method. As I alluded to, the way you've gotten these Pokemon has changed over the years. In prior games, you needed to simply connect to the Wi-Fi network of participating retailers, collect the Pokemon wirelessly, and knick off. There I was, the creepy guy sitting out in front of EB Games with a 3DS in his lap, hacking into their system to collect a Meloetta.

Obviously, the simplicity of this wireless method meant you never really realised the sheer scape of how popular Pokemon still is. Because you never interacted with anyone, and there was an unlimited supply on-hand. It was nothing like the old days, where I was standing in line at a shopping centre for hours - an eleven year old boy at the peak of Pokemon's hype - to collect my very own Mew during PokeTour 1999.


I didn't rush into retailers on November 10th, because obviously, I'm a mature adult in his mid-20s, and I had plenty of time. The previous giveaway this generation, of a shiny Gengar, was a smooth operation: get in, awkwardly ask for the imaginary ghost in the children's video game, and strut out.

On the 14th, I had a day off, so I decided I'd take the half hour walk to the nearest EB and snag my Diancie. It's free, after all, and I'm still a completionist at heart. For some reason, I felt the need to call in advance and ask about it. You know. Just in case. ..And they told me that they had run out.

Here's where the game has changed, you see - each of these codes they give away, is effectively one Diancie. There's no 'connect to the network and generate your own'. These codes are... actual... freaking... Diancies... And there weren't any left. I called the various EB's and JB Hi-Fi's in my local area, as well as the ones in the CBD. All of the nearby stores were completely out, and the major branches had gotten a second batch from a Nintendo representative a day ago... that had also run out.

And this is when I realised that there is something in me that I can't quite explain. To simplify it, I have an unhealthy addiction with perfection in video games. Sometimes, in a gameplay sense: In Super Mario 3D Land, your file progression is marked by stars. If you've finished the game without dying five times, those stars are shiny. I couldn't risk not having those shiny stars, so on every near-death, I quit the game before it was too late. I was playing Mario ultra-cautiously for menu aesthetics.



Sometimes, my addiction grows so frantic and ugly, like it did when I was trying desperately to find the Sonic Generations collector's edition, that I'm calling up every retailer, and visiting other ones physically to try and acquire the elusive item. Not because Sonic Generations was a hard game to get, but because I felt this sense of duty as a Sonic fan to get this particular, ultimate package. In the end, I gave in to my demons and paid some bastard on eBay $527.32 to get it. That's $362 more than its RRP. I paid half a grand to validate my fandom.

And here we sat again. My video game perfection causing a feeling of great unease. Because I've gotten every Pokemon up to this point, and if I miss out on Diancie, my whole collection is ruined. Every subsequent game will have a blank spot at #719 because I didn't get in quickly enough. How is this logical thinking, exactly?

I won't beat around the bush; through constant calling and prodding, I ascertained that the Nintendo rep made the rounds on Thursdays. I called JB Hi-Fi yesterday to see if they had gotten any in. The staff member asked me, in a rather serious tone, if I was going to be able to get there that day. I answered in the affirmative, and he said that was the only way I could get one, because they had only received a limited supply. I got in, I got my Diancie, I did a little dance(y?), and I had scratched that itch once again.

Obviously, it wasn't quite so bad this time, but how long will it be until I feel that urge again? It's debilitating, in the sense that it makes me make rash, stupid decisions. Frankly, if you put the word 'limited' or 'collector's' or 'exclusive' on anything I like, it will make me consider it. For example, I recently heard about the rush on the first wave of amiibos. And though they will get more in stock, I really wanted to be able to use one when I first play Smash Bros in December.

And so... Well, you'll see.


私の友達


はじめまして、僕はフシギバナ様。 日本人よ。 僕は面白いけど親切だ。そうしてとてもハンサムだね。
どうぞよろしく。

えっと。。。一緒にたべませんか!!

...That was so hard to type on my phone. Never again. Say hello to Fushigibana, also known as Venusaur. I got drunk a few weeks ago and bought him online.

I don't know what to do with him now, but my god, is he pretty. Resisting the urge to make an unboxing post... Hnnnnnnnggggg.... ダメ。。。