How I Play Games

Note: This is an old post from the soon-to-be-defunct Slow Gamers. That site is closing, so I’m moving over my Opinion posts from that site to here.

My days of long hours being spent in front of a television of computer display are long gone. They are gone to spend more time with my family and with my other responsibilities. It is not that I miss those days all that much, it is only that times have changed and so … the way I play games has changed.

4-Original-Nintendo-64

Currently my “gaming” takes place in two different areas: home consoles and mobile. More specifically the Nintendo Wii U and iOS. I’ll write in reverse order this time.

iOS and Mobile

I carry my iPad with my most places and my iPhone with me at all times. Because of that, I do keep a few games there just in case I find myself with some time to kill … and because the games are quite fun. They are also quite different from what I would traditionally play.

Letterpress, by atebits, has been the one game to stick around the longest on my phone. It is also a game that is uniquely suited for iOS and mobile gaming. The asynchronous nature of the gameplay also means I can pick it up when I have a few seconds to respond instead of needing to play continuously.

I have been playing Hundreds, another puzzle game with a unique twist supplied by the touch screen available on newer devices.

The simpler the concept and the shorter the “levels”, the better it is for me. Part of the issue stems from the fact that the current crop of mobile devices are not, in any way, meant primarily to be gaming devices. That is a secondary function among many.

The Game Gear might be the most ergonomic mobile device … if it could be considered mobile at all. After that, the original Game Boy Advance definitely would be my favorite design for a mobile gaming device. The current mobile devices are not in that category at all.

The benefit, however, is that mobile devices can have adaptive interfaces for different types of games. That’s the tradeoff.

Wii U and Consoles

The Wii U is my “traditional” gaming device, which is funny to say because it is probably the most untraditional of traditional devices currently out there. Truth be told, I have a Wii U because it comes from Nintendo and I’m not one to miss out on the next installment of The Legend of Zelda (even Wind Waker HD).

This is where I will sit down for time measured in hours, not minutes. This is where the “real gaming” happens (whatever that terrible phrase means). This is the console I have purchased with the intent that I will be purchasing the Nintendo exclusives and playing them through along with some older games.

The Wii U is also the family gaming machine. We have Just Dance 4, Nintendo Land, and New Super Mario Bros. U so far and all of them have cooperative play of some sort. This makes it great to bring my son along slowly. It is quite startling to see his progress just in the past month in how much better he is not just at manipulating the controls, but in actually forming strategies to try and beat me.

Sadly, I don’t think I’ll be able to stay ahead of him in video games as long as I might like to.

Personal Computers

Where does that leave the good old PC?

I really don’t know. I’m going to keep one around because there are games that just work better on a PC (I’m looking at you Starcraft and Sim City), but how much longer will those even entice me?

The hard part about a PC for me is that I don’t use it every day because my work is done on a Mac or iOS device. Since I don’t use it every day, I can’t justify purchasing newer hardware that easily and so it sits with outdated hardware for a while until a game comes along where I need to spend about $200 to get it running properly again … not to mention it is another piece of software to keep updated all of the time.

PC gaming is not going anywhere, but I don’t know if it is going anywhere anymore for me.

Conclusion

That’s about it. The basics of it is the same as it has always been: I will go where the games are. Right now the games, for me, are on iOS and the Wii U. When that changes, then my devices will change accordingly.

Wii U Receives System Update

Polygon reports that the Wii U received its system update last night, and I can confirm that it is true … because I installed it just about an hour ago.

Wii U Update

That’s just a picture of my son and me playing Nintendo Land.

So far, the speed update is noticeable. Wait times are down and things seem more fluid than before,  but there is always room for improvement. iOS has forever broken me, and lagging interfaces are now grating.

I haven’t had time to really dig in at all and take a look at some of the other improvements, but it is always good to see an update come down.

I’m still very satisfied with my Wii U and it has been a lot of fun to see my son improve drastically over the past months. We have a lot of fun with it, and that is the idea.

Revealing Slow Gamers

I’ve been posting a little more about gaming here than I would really like to, so I thought it was about time to change how I do things.

Slow Gamers Logo

I’m announcing the start of Slow Gamers, a website dedicated  to gaming written by myself and my friend, Phil Wels. We’ll post news, previews, reviews, opinions, and other things on the site as time permits and as we can work through the games. The reason for being named “Slow Gamers” is because neither one of us has a ton of time to do things, so we work slowly.

I’ll be writing quite a bit about parenting and video games as that becomes a larger and larger part of my life. I’m going to keep most of my video game writing over there now, so don’t look for it here.

PC vs. Console vs. Tablet

Technology continues to forge ahead even as Christmas fades into the past and everyone just gets to the task of using all of the new gifts they just received this past year. This is the most exciting and most frustrating things about purchasing or just following technology … you are never going to have the “latest and greatest” for too long.

This goes for any sector of technology and a choruses I hear ever-increasing are the “end of PC gaming” and “end of console gaming” choruses from many different choirs.

  • Console gamers telling PC gamers that it is all over
  • PC gamers telling console gamers that they’re underpowered consoles just won’t cut it anymore with the latest X/Y/Z technology coming out
  • Tablet/mobile gamers telling PC and console gamers that they’re time is now done
  • Everyone agreeing that something is going to change (duh)

There are more permutations, but it’s getting pretty ridiculous … but it has also always been this way.

From where I sit as a slow gamer, not having tons of time to devote to just playing video games or the want/need to play most types of games, it all sounds so silly and petty. Why?

I hope that all types of gaming stick around. Isn’t that the idea? “Variety is the spice of life” some people say, but then we huddle around the idea that we need to have some sort of dominant technology type to fulfill everyone’s video gaming needs. It seems rather silly to me.

I play different games on different platforms, and I don’t think I’m alone.

On the PC I play real-time and turn-based strategy games. I also tend to keep my first-and-third-person shooters on the PC as well. A mouse and keyboard are just better for many of those actions. Fine control and a myriad of key combinations are almost requirements. I tried Mass Effect 3 on a console and I couldn’t do it. Dual-analog sticks are not the same as a mouse and keyboard.

On my Wii U or other home console I play platformers, adventure games, and other games that are tailored to the unique control schemes that Nintendo has supplied for me to use. I’m not going to play a Zelda game on anything but a console because that is what it was made for. That is where that game grew up. I’ve played emulators and it is not the same.

On the iPad I’m sticking with games that are quick and easy to pick up, play, and then set aside. The same thing with my iPhone. These are not games I am going to sit around and play for hours and hours because these devices haven’t been made to do that. They’re not contoured to be use as primary gaming devices, they have other, more important roles to play.

This doesn’t mean that there is not going to be overlap (many prefer Mass Effect 3 on the Xbox 360 for example), but I like to think that there is more than enough room for many different types of gaming machines. People are varied and we don’t need to go off and distill every key sector down to just a single player or two to be successful.

This nonsense needs to stop.

Introducing The Last Story

The Last Story

From the mind of Hironobu Sakaguchi and the people at Mistwalker (with music from Nobuo Uematsu) comes The Last Story, a decidedly Japanese action RPG with all of the thematic moldings of some of the more classic Final Fantasy games …

… which makes sense when you have the father of Final Fantasy and its only composer for the first nine numbered games involved in its creation.

I was made aware of this game a few months back just as it was being announced that it was going to be localized for North America and brought over by XSEED Games. Just the idea of Sakaguchi and Uematsu getting together to create another RPG was enough to get me excited, but then the reviews came in very positive and the fact that it was going to be a Wii exclusive made it even better.

However, I didn’t really have the time to sit down and begin playing through an RPG when it was originally released. Nonetheless I added it to my “Play In The Future” list so that I wouldn’t forget about it.

Fast forward to the beginning of 2013 and I was looking for something new to play on the Wii U. While Nintendo Land and New Super Mario Bros. U are great games in their own right, they are not something I normally sit down and play all of the way through. The Last Story seemed like a good fit.

I’ve only been playing for a few days, but so far I like it a lot … definitely the best JRPG I’ve played since Final Fantasy IX and maybe even better than some before that. I’m still getting used to the combat and die probably too often, but I am enjoying myself and so far I’ve found a way to get past any of the more difficult areas.

Look for more about this game from me in the future. Until then, if you like the Final Fantasy series before X, I recommend picking up this game and giving it a shot.