On Arcades, Part 1

Well, this week I had delayed the blog post from Sunday until Monday because we had a Plan that did not follow through: take Charmander to an arcade.

It was supposed to be his first “real” arcade experience, but it didn’t happen, and upon further thought, he has had some decent arcade exposure, I guess. Husbachu and I still went, but the kids all stayed with their grandparents and splashed at the pool near said elderly folk’s home. While we were at the arcade, we saw several other people come in with small children there, and it made me a little extra disappointed. At least we were able to play stuff together in relative piece. The DDR cabinet had Caramell Dansen on it, which is a fad that just did not last long enough for my taste. Please, internet, let’s go back to making every single fictional character ever do this happy, stupid dance.

Anyways, arcades with kids. At first, when I realized Charmander had been to an arcade before, it was the boardwalk ones that I thought of. Those *kind* of don’t really count at all. They’re mostly just crane games and poker and ski ball and what have you. Then, I remembered there was that one that had all those retro machines, like The Simpsons game and stuff, so there’s that. He didn’t actually play any of the games the last time we were there, though, because it was at least 2 years ago. After that I realized, if I racked my brain further back, he had another arcade experience: An exhibit at PAX East, a gaming convention, featuring an arcade museum. (PRO TIP: Do not take a very small child to a convention with you unless you enjoy spending an early night alone with them in a hotel room while everyone else is having a blast and making the most of all the money that was spent to get you there.) He was really young, then, and I know he doesn’t remember the experience. Oh, and I took him to see Wreck-It Ralph in the theater, which portrays arcades in a kind of hilariously wholesome light. The movie scared him a little bit, though. Ah, well.

When I first met Husbachu back in the day, he had been planning to open his own arcade, which sounded uber awesome to me. Unfortunately, that dream has died. Arcades were an important part of his childhood; his own father would have the games babysit for Husbachu while he caught up on his reading. I know that my husband would like his own son to share in the experience with him. Here’s hoping the next time I intend to write about, I will actually have that to write about. Until then, I’ll be dreaming of winning the lottery and opening a  in our town.Club Sega franchise in our town.

Free Comic Book Day!

Soooo, yesterday was Free Comic Book Day. Sincere apologies to all my rock-dwelling readers who would have liked this information YESTERDAY. I was going to post about it earlier this week, but then I had to keep the kids alive and forgot. Whoops. Also, you know, comic books are not video games, and this is a video game blog. But fear not! There were video game comic books given out for free, so we can talk about that!

Charmander has had prior experience with video game comics, so I thought this would be a good event to further his interest. He’s actually played Mega Man BECAUSE he likes the manga. Yes, comics are inspiring! About a year back, a friend gave me his collection of the Mega Man Megamix and Gigamix graphic novels, intending for me to read them, but my oldest son grabbed onto them, and I’ve never really had time to look over them myself. Every time I would try sit down with them, he would make me read over the Robot Master’s bio pages again.

No bookshelf of ours is complete without a PvZ book.

These were mint condition when I got them. You can see the “love” they have received.

I have read some of that first issue to him, but the actual action gets a little too intense for him, I think? He just likes looking at the pictures, and hearing about the characters, as opposed to hearing all the word bubbles. The old NES games, though, are honestly a better pace for a preschooler, and he was very happy to “play” them. It was also an interesting study in how much patience he had acquired at that point in time. First, we had him try it out on the Mega Man collection for the PS2. We had to drag out the PS2 itself from storage for this, as we are not blessed with a first gen PS3:

PS2s have a pretty good length cord for the controllers

Husbachu, Charmander, and Squirtle ignore the mess around them for more important things.

This seems idyllic, but we actually didn’t put up with this for very long. There are too many buttons on that controller for that game, so we actually ended up doing some more digging around, and pulling up the NES from storage and having him play on that.  He worked very hard for a fair amount of time, learning how to navigate each screen without taking deathly damage.  And then, you know, Husbachu ended up playing most of the game for him. He’d go through the stages, and let Charmander tackle the Robot Masters. That is something that is very different from our own childhoods in gaming: parents that can help you play the game. I certainly didn’t have that; I had parents that would help me turn the game off, and that’s it. Also, here is my childhood NES now collecting dust on a dresser, because we’re too lazy to put anything away in this household:

By the by, those games on the side are totally for sale.  Give me money.

By the by, those games on the side are totally for sale. Give me money.

But anyways, Charmander loves Mega Man, and he loves the video game because he loves the comics. And luckily, one of the comics being given out was a “Mega Man and Sonic the Hedgehog Flip Book”. Yeah, in the video game world itself, Sonic is besties with Mario now-a-days, but in the comic book world, the Blue Blur and the Blue Bomber hang out for afternoon tea and robot busting and stuff, which makes more sense to me than the former relationship, but I digress. The book itself is actually Mega Man X based, and after waiting half an hour in the hot sun to get into the comic book shop, Charmander was actually against picking up this book, which was kind of exasperating to me. I guess he was content with the actual Sonic/Mega Man crossover comic that we paid for outside, and felt full up on the franchises? Or maybe the X franchise seems too intense for him.  The original Mega Man looks so simple and approachable even while angry, while X looks more intimidating overall.  That’s supposed to be cooler, right?   I picked it up on his behalf, anyway, and he did enjoy it when he was back home, and re-hydrated and full of grilled cheese sandwich:

PRO-TIP: He cannot read

It’s almost as if he can read it.

The comic itself is just X’s backstory, somehow told with only one panel featuring Zero, and it isn’t even a very dramatic rendering of said Maverick Hunter’s hair. Ah, well. The flip side of the comic is Sonic, and I don’t actually remember seeing Charmander look at it, which is surprising, because he actually likes Sonic a lot.  He has multiple Sonic shirts, and has been asking for Sonic underwear and possibly a Shadow the Hedgehog shirt.  Most of his knowledge of the games, however, comes from watching YouTube videos, which I will get into in a separate post some… time… but yeah, I was kind of disappointed he didn’t show more interest in it. The Sonic comic itself presents the mighty claim of “ALL IS REVEALED”. I looked it over and had more questions afterwards. Like, when the heck did Nicole, Sally’s personal computer, get some kind of real world avatar? I’m sure that’s left a lot of you with even more questions, but I will just let you look that stuff up for yourselves. At any rate, I was hoping he’d be more into that flip side because Sonic comics were a big part of my own youth. I collected/poured over them for many years. I had been telling people I stopped at issue 50, but looking over my pile just a few minutes ago, I see that I actually made it to issue 61.

Scattering comics willy-nilly on your unmade bed shows the utmost respect for them.

Scattering comics willy-nilly on your unmade bed shows the utmost respect for them.

The collection of these fine pieces of literary art came at great risk to my own personal well-being. You see, my mom didn’t like me reading them, didn’t like to take me places to buy them, and overall didn’t like me buying them period. Also, I was only allowed to ride my bike around the block until like, high school or some nonsense, but I had to break the rules over this cause. In unprecedented rebellion, I would ride my bike out multiple blocks away, purchase these books with the random change I had hoarded, and then sneak them back into my house inside my shirt. So stealthy. I also had to eventually carry the whole collection around with me as I’d go out places, as there was a very real fear of my stuff being trashed by my mom while I was gone. It wasn’t that the collection was getting too heavy to carry around that I stopped buying them, though: it was a conscious choice that I made, because I thought it was getting childish to read them or something. Or maybe I just needed to save all those extra coins to buy actual video games or anime or something. It’s getting a little blurry. I guess the point is, I don’t follow it anymore, and my son isn’t interested in starting to follow it. Ah, well.

Back to the actual event for a moment, though: the surprise hit of Free Comic Book Day for my kids was the Hello Kitty comic they were giving out. I would highly recommend checking this one for your preschool age kids, regardless of gender. It’s very cute, without actually being stereotypically girly, and there’s no dialogue, so they can pick up the story by just following along the boxes. Squirtle decided that he wanted multiple copies of this book, and nothing else. And on the actual video game related comic end for adults, there was an issue of Street Fighter, which feature Chun Li fighting street while juggling groceries. That’s a pretty typical day for me, too.

Next year, I’ll probably be taking the kids out again for free stuff. It’s possible that my oldest will be able to read by then, so it’ll be interesting to see if his tastes in comics will have evolved. In the meantime, we’ll share what we’ve already got together.

Plants Vs Zombies, Part 1 of 534975348754893754893574

The other day, Charmander said something odd to me:

“I love Angry Birds; I play it all the time. But sometimes, I play Plants Vs. Zombies.”

This is a lie. I have no idea why he would say that to me. It should be reversed. In this house, it’s PvZ on a schedule, and if for some reason the oldest has managed to tire out from it from an abnormally long screen time run, he might switch to Angry Birds for a few minutes. He does like playing real life Angry Birds with his brother, which involves removing all the cushions from the couch and hurling themselves into said cushions, but that game has kind of been completely banned. Real life play is more full of PvZ influence, anyway. But let’s back up a moment.

Husbachu and I are the ones who innocently introduced our children to the world of gardening against the undead. Some time in a distant, cloudy, memory, Husbachu had played the game on PC, although I don’t recall if he completed it. We both thought it was a cute and interesting game. Skip forward a few years, and a friend got us a copy for the PS3. As somewhat responsible parents, in terms of exposing our children to video games, we were happy that this was a game we felt was safe to play in front of the young ones. I mean, I guess it can be construed as dark, what with the brain eating and the plants are technically shooting the zombies, which is something you’re officially not supposed to let your kids see, but it’s with veggies, so what-evs. Charmander enjoyed watching us play occasionally on a non-fanatical level, and he loved the ending theme, as well he should. When we were done playing the game, we were done playing the game, and it seemed like we were all moving on with our lives.

Or your unlife or something.

Now loading the rest of your life.

Theeeeen, one day, (actually, one week), Plants Vs. Zombies was suddenly free to download on iOS, and if it’s free, then it’s for me! So I downloaded it; it had some new achievements to unlock; seemed like a good deal. Well, now it was on a device that was easy for Charmander to use. I even showed him it was there. And he learned to play it. Eventually, he even beat it. I did not beat any games when I was a 4 year old, so I was impressed. Plants Vs Zombies 2 came out, and I downloaded it, thinking I was going to play it, but he played it. He still plays it. Every. Day. Sometimes, he deletes the save file for the first game so he can start it all over and playit again. And at night, he watches YouTube videos of other people playing it(More on that another time. I actually kind of feel like it’s better than watching, say, Mickey Mouse Club. At least he’s learning strategy, instead of bad adventure game logic). It is always Plants Vs. Zombies in this house. It was the theme of his 5th birthday party, and he’s looking to have it be the theme of his 6th as well (But time will tell…) And it permeates his and Squirtle’s real world play waaaay more than Angry Birds does. And yes, I am clearly an enabler. They didn’t do these print-outs themselves:

The line of doll carriages and canoes andwhatnot are supposed to be the lawnmowers that run over the zombies if you fail to defend against them with your plants.

The zombies… are coming…

I will talk more about that next time, though. Right now, my kids are doing something that has NOTHING TO DO WITH PLANTS VS. ZOMBIES, and I have to go see it before it’s too late.

Press Start

So, today is Sunday, and today I am sitting alone in my house attempting to write a blog. One that I initially intended to start writing about… a year ago? Possibly. Seems a bit crazy to me now that I had no time to do it then when I was only at 2 kids. Now, I have three, and my time is infinitely smaller. But I love my family, and I love to share (actually, no, I don’t, but we’re going to pretend I do to make this sound soppier, and a blog is all about sharing, right? “Share” is in the name of this one, for Kupo’s sake!), so I am all about sharing my love of video games with my family.

I would imagine that most people would just write an “about me” or something on a separate page, but I am actually going to waste everyone’s lives by giving a little overview of my situation in general here. And I’ll move it later in my excessive spare time. Or possibly just say I will, and play a game instead. Whatevs. Here goes:

Hi, kids. You can call me Mint. I’m in my lower 30s, and have been playing video games, or at least observing the playing of video games, for as long as I can remember. I believe my earliest memory is of Q*Bert being played on a Commodore 64. Sorry, I’m writing here, so I’m not taking a moment to fact check whether that was ported to that or not for reals; you can do that yourselves if you think I’m lying. That’s how I remember it! I didn’t start playing any games myself until we got an NES. It was hooked up to a black and white TV most of the time, until one of my (four!) older brothers purchased a color TV. The first game on that system I saw in color was the Legend of Zelda. I didn’t play much of it back then, as I was like, a preschooler or something, but I loved watching it. When I played, I mostly did rounds of RC Pro-am. Backwards. The first game I actually beat was Super Mario World. The first game that I beat that my gaming brother didn’t beat was Sonic the Hedgehog 2. And the first game I kicked his ass in was Star Fox 64. The first gift that my future husband gave to me was a bootleg soundtrack of Gitaroo Man. The game that I was playing in the hospital when I had my first son was the GBA port of Chrono Trigger, although my more active game at the time was my 3rd, final, successful attempt at slugging through Legend of Mana. The first game I intend to play after I finish typing this and finish taking a nap is Lightning Returns Final Fantasy XIII. I got it on launch, but I’m on Day 3 because I have very little time to play, because I have children, whose names I will conceal in this blog because all the cool kids protect their kids identities or something. So, my kids are:

Charmander: My 5 year old. A true gamer at heart, he can get very frustrated and rage quit at times. His favorite game/obsession is Plants Vs Zombies, so I’ll be mentioning that a lot in this blog. The first entry in the series was the first game he ever beat, and all on his own, too! I was a little older when I beat my first game. He does enjoy a variety of other franchises, as well. In fact, he’s out right now in a Sonic shirt. Wheeee.

Squirtle: My 3 year old. Understandably, he does not play as many video games as his brother. He’s more active, which I try to encourage, despite the vibe you may be getting here. He does really enjoy thinking that he’s playing Mario games, though!

Bulbasaur: My 6 month old. Enjoys chewing on electronic devices and sapping my energy with leech seed.

Husbachu: My husband, until he gets mad about this new nickname I’ve never referred to him as before. Gaming together has always been a part of our lives, although we’ve been having a tough time fitting that sort of thing in lately. He’s currently working on Civilization V. His favorite games are um… Silent Hill 2 and Final Fantasy IV. Maybe. Maybe I’m a terrible wife and I’m wrong?

Well, there’s my exciting intro, topped off with my exciting family portrait sketch that I’m pretending that I will clean up and finish some day. See you next time for some actual experiences being shared!