Wednesday, November 21, 2012

An Early Christmas (Part 2)

If you haven't already, check out Part 1 here!

As it turns out, when L and I are faced with the decision to spend more money than we're comfortable with, we go all out and buy everything we've ever wanted. We would be terrible gamblers, but on the bright side, we now have tons of new video games.

First up is Skylanders, a game that I've had my eye on for almost a year. I loved the Spyro games as a kid, but you don't need to be familiar with the old Spyro games to enjoy Skylanders. Skylanders combines figurine collecting and video games in a clever marketing ploy. There are a few figurines included with the initial game purchase, and each figurine represents a different playable character. However, there are secret areas and items that can only be unlocked with certain character "types", so then you end up buying more figurines than your TV stand can comfortably hold.

This is only about half of our Skylanders set
My impression of Skylanders thus far is that it's a fun 2-player game for people of all skill levels. Each game level is relatively easy to complete, but if you're up for a challenge, you can gather all the optional collectibles (some of which require you to purchase new figurines - a challenge for your wallet). The game is designed to make swapping characters easy and unobtrusive. The two player figurines sit atop a wireless stone platform, and to swap characters, you just take one figurine off the platform and replace it with a different one. The game automatically pauses while you are swapping characters.

Our TV stand is quite crowded

There are two main changes that would make the game better. The first is the balloonist character, whom you meet in the opening scene. He is obnoxious and occasionally crosses the line into sexual harassment, which is setting a pretty inappropriate example in a game aimed at kids. Alas, all I can do is smack him around with my character. The second is a camera control issue. The game always shows both players onscreen, and players can only be a short distance away from one another. A few times, L and I have gotten stuck on the opposite side of obstacles. More annoyingly, one time we had to turn off the second player completely (it was the wrong character "type") to allow the first player to enter a bonus area. Allowing the players to be further apart by zooming out the camera would have made things a little easier.

Left side: PS Vita and games; right side: Nintendo 3DS and 1 game

We also got a PS Vita and a Nintendo 3DS. (See the part at the top where I said we bought everything.) The Vita actually just arrived in the mail yesterday, so I haven't had a chance to play it yet. I have been playing Harvest Moon: A New Beginning on the 3DS. The premise of Harvest Moon: A New Beginning is that your character moves to a declining town, starts his or her own farm, and works on rebuilding the town. The player character also has the option of romancing and eventually even marrying one of the non-player characters. I haven't reached the marrying stage yet, but I have read that the only available romance options are opposite gender. This is a little disappointing because presumably farming and raising livestock are job skills that aren't affected by sexual orientation. Aside from that, the game has been pleasant but repetitive. There are a few secrets to be discovered and friendships to be gained, but mostly I just water my crops and gather insects. I am interested to see what areas I can unlock next, though.

And the gifts that keep on giving...

Ohai. I gave you poop

Not me. I don't give a shit

Does anyone else have a Vita or a 3DS? What do you think?

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