Thursday, November 27, 2008

My Blood Type is (Nintendo) "DS"

I might as well be taking my Nintendo DS intraveinously.  The short story is they told me I needed to bring all my equipment here (turns out I didn't), and on top of that they neglected to inform me it didn't count against my baggage limit on the planes.  Space being that limited, all I brought was my tiny little DS case and some games, and it's been my gaming lifeblood.

It's library is something of a mixed bag, mostly falling in to three catagories.  The first and largest consists of shovelware, the cheaply made, often awful releases used to make a quick buck.  Like the Wii, with a massive, mainstream audience, companies are quick to shovel on to shelves whatever crap they can get their hands on.  Obviously, I don't bother much with those.

The second is a frustrating group of titles: ports of popular PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii titles, stripped down to work on the DS's significantly less powerful hardware.  They're almost taunting, like getting a slice of turkey and some mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving when there's a full course of turkey, stuffing, cranberries, freshly-baked bread, and a dozen other delights sitting just out of reach.  It's hard to refuse a DS version of Smackdown vs RAW 2009 when it's my only option for some wrestling action, but it's ultimately not a very filling experience knowing there are home console versions that are several times deeper and more robust.

Last, and best, are the titles tailored exclusively to the DS, making use of it's strengths and working around it's weaknesses.  These are games like the medieval action adventures of Castlevania, the humorous and intense court-room drama Phoenix Wright, the warm simplicity of Animal Crossing or Nintendogs, and so forth.  They also unfortunately make up the smallest part of the handheld's library.

With the unique exclusives on the rarer side and quickly gobbled up, the second group is garnering a more prominent position in my little library.  It's something, far, far better than having no games at all, but it's also a terribly far cry from what it could be.  It leaves me a little torn, glad to have something but a little frustrated that the cranberries are just out of reach.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Normal or Hard Mode?

The inevitable challenge facing me with all games is usually the one presented shortly after hitting the Start Button: Normal or Hard.  I sometimes find myself agnozing for obscene amounts of time, sometimes even restarting a couple times till I'm finally content with - or at least resigned to - one of the options.

I can handle "Hard" in most games, but that first hump when I'm still learning the mechanics can be pretty rough.  Higher difficulties in games are typically geared towards players already well versed in the gameplay.  Sometimes I find myself ready to toss a game to the wayside out of frustration because I began on the higher difficulty and quickly hit a wall, one I could probably surmount if I simply had a decent knowledge or grasp of the basics.

There's always the option of starting on "Normal," logging a couple hours of gametime, and then restarting on "Hard."  But it's a rather unappealing prospect to have to redo the levels or missions I already just completed, and even less so considering time is a hot commodity.  That's not just talking long Club GTMO hours, either: that's life in general.

I really should just relax and try to enjoy my games a little more.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Change can be frustrating.

I'm guilty of pushing new technology on my dad, but I really do understand when he says that he's content with 56k internet service despite far superior connections out there, or that he simply likes playing the original Animal Crossing game when there's newer versions with a lot more features.

Case in point: the Armed Forces Network hosts both WWE Raw and Smackdown! at varying times throughout the week. Working day shift and doing hours well into the double digits, I'd love to be able to record wrestling so I could see it on my days off. The Navy Exchange actually had a DVD/VCR combo for pretty cheap, so I thought my problem was taken care of. Then I realized the NEX doesn't stock blank VHS tapes.

It is a little frustrating. They have DVD recorders at the NEX, but I'm perfectly content using VHS tapes. They're simple, I know how to use 'em, and they do exactly what I need them to do. I really don't have any need or desire to change formats, but my hand will be forced if I want to indulge in any decent amount of pro wrestling while I'm in Cuber.

Sure, part of it's a mere financial issue. $300 is a lot to spend on some technology that I'm not familiar with, something I'm not positive that it will be exactly what I want. I do love playing with technology, new and old, and if it was cheaper there wouldn't be any hesitation on my part to snap a DVD recorder up.

But I genuinely do appreciate where my dad's coming from.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Christmas Movie Dilemma

I found myself cringing, yet a little excited, when the Navy Exchange put up a section of Christmas movies in mid-October. The absurdity of Christmas stuff in October aside, it did get me thinking: which one should I pick up for the holidays? Desperately trying not to go overboard, I -figured a one-movie limit would be a good idea.

Obviously, you can't go wrong with A Christmas Carol. Still, with that self-induced one purchase limit, I was debating downloading the text for the original story (it's copyright expired, it's free to download from places like and picking up an unrelated DVD. I figured I could enjoy A Christmas Carol and pick up another holiday flick, sort of the best of both worlds.
I was still on the fence, because while I'll still read it, I do like to watch it. I'm sure the Armed Forces Network will play it, probably multiple times, but with my crazy sixteen hour work days the chances of me being home and awake for it are slim.

Then the NEX made it easy to have my cake and eat it too: discounted from $15 to $5, they had a DVD Special Edition of the Alastair Sim version. I assumed for the price it was a bare-bones, cheap production, but it's actually a two-disc feature-laden release that includes a remastered black and white version and the color version amongst bios, commentary, trailers, and so forth. It even has the 1935 Seymour Hicks version ("Scrooge").

While I'm not sure if it needed to be remastered (there's some charm in grainy, old black and white productions), for the price it took care of my St. Nick movie dilemma - I think I can justify a second Christmasy video since I only spent five tax free dollars. The hard part now is holding off on watching it, because it's sitting on my shelf begging to take a ride in my DVD player.