A Quick PvZ related update

Hey, it’s been a while! I had been working on a longish post for awhile, and then I didn’t work on it at all… and I’ll probably never get the kinks worked out of it, so maybe it’s just time to move on. There has been a lot of moving on in our household, but Plants Vs Zombies is still well loved. In fact, Charmander just had his 6th birthday, and decided it needed to be PvZ themed. Again. Here’s a mural I made for them to color in at the party. I thought it came out pretty well for a last minute, free-hand job:

His name is blurred out for identity protection; I did not really pixilate it on my wall, ha ha.

Anyways, PvZ is here to stay, still… but there are some new loves I hope to share with you soon. Like Pikmin! The boys love Pikmin now! Exciting! But there is for another day. For now, have another simple set of PvZ paper cut outs:



E3 for 5-Year-Olds

It’s that magical time of year again: E3, when I sit, forlorn, in front of a computer screen, wishing I was there again. I have been to the Electronic Entertainment Expo twice in the past, and it was a lot of work but a LOT of fun. I like to tell myself it sucks now. You know, whatever helps me sleep at night. I need all the sleep aides I can get.

Anyway, it’s a lot harder to observe E3 at a distance when you always have small children around. Aside from needing a fair amount of attention, there are a lot of things that they shouldn’t be seeing on the screen. It’s all well and good to be a parent and play your Halos and CoDs on your own time, but maybe not so much in front of the kids, huh (although, the Halo stuff shown at the Microsoft press conference was fairly kid safe. Lot of other stuff wasn’t, though, at least in my opinion)? So yeah, that first day of conferences I only glimpsed sporadically, as I had kids to take care of (and also, because I care less about the Halos and CoD, anyways). The Sony conference was at least after bedtime, but that also meant that I was falling asleep myself through it. Whoops.

Well, Day 2 had the Nintendo event, and we all know Ninty is more kid friendly, so I openly invited Charmander to watch the event with me. You can imagine my dismay when the feed starts up with an “M” rating warning. What could they possibly be showing? I figured it would be for Bayonetta or something. Then, a Robot Chicken-esque sequence begins, and I really start panicking, but it’s also mostly benign. I mean, Reggie may have burned someone alive, but who doesn’t do that? Then there’s Reggie and Iwata having an epic Dragon Ball Z type battle. I guess the kid’s already seen that show at his cousin’s place, so whatever? Truth be told, the whole thing actually was fine for him to watch. I’ll just drop at link to the stuff here instead of nabbing and posting random pics. Without further ado, here’s my 5-year-old’s impressions of Nintendo’s event:

1. While Reggie’s exposition about stuff I forget already: “Why aren’t they showing any games?

2.Miis join the fight in Super Smash Bros: “Whaaaaaat?” Also, he always likes to point out the fire and water thing going on in the game’s logo. He’s actually the one that pointed it out to me, and made me notice that the Wii U version by itself has just the blue, and the 3DS version has just the red. I really did not see this until my preschooler mentioned it.

3. Amiibo: “Where’s the Kirby one?” You may recall that he really loves Kirby.

4. Yoshi’s Wooly World: “What is this game?” (Me: shush! I’m trying to hug this game from afar! Like, I really want to hug the game. So much)

5. Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker: “What? That guy?”

6. Zelda Wii U: He had a lot of questions about the monster, but I had no answers, soooo yeah.

7. Bayonetta: I told him to go check if Squirtle was destroying his Hexbugs. He wasn’t, and the presentation of the game was perfectly kid-safe. Am I the only one who thinks the Peach costume is hideous? Like, she looks more like Dee-Dee from Dexter’s Laboratory than the princess…

8. Pokemans: It was a lot of “Look at that one! Which one is that?” Once he can read, he will be allowed to play Pokemon. Who knows; these remakes could be his first pokegames.

9. Hyrule Warriors: When they said you can play as your favorite character, he informed me, “My favorite character is Link.” So if you think it’s ok to mix up Zelda and Link, kids, remember that there are 5-year-olds out there that are smarter than you. Mommy’s favorite character is Midna. Mommy is happy.

10. Kirby and the Rainbow Curse: He was confused by this game, because it clearly has such different mechanics from standard Kirby games. I should go dig up my copy of Canvas Curse for him.

11. Xenoblade Chronicles X: I did not pay attention to my child during this segment.

12. Mario Maker: He thought everything they were doing was funny. There was much giggling.

13. Splatoon: Charmander is VERY interested in this one. I caught him watching the trailer again on his own later on when I left the computer unguarded. He doesn’t have anything to say about it other than he likes it. He was kind of spell-bound.

14. Palutena’s entrance: He really had nothing to say. I think he was done at that point.

15. I, personally, did not realize that Miyamoto was playing Star Fox in that last shot, and feel really dumb.

Aside from this event, I let him check out some other stuff I figured he’d be interested in. We watched the trailers for the Sonic Boom games as well as the trailer for the upcoming TV show. I think we’re both looking forward to the show the most. He laughed a lot at Eggman. Also, there’s exciting Plants Vs Zombies news: first look at the Dark Ages. Charmander watched this video on my phone and kept trying to actually play the game. He was miffed by all the pausing caused by this, but he is very excited, and he won’t stop asking me when it comes out. I don’t know!!

Also, last night, Husbachu and I kind of let him stay up and watch the SSB Invitational tournament. He was sooo excited to see Kirby in it, and was cheering for him the whole time. When the pink puff ball lost in the Sudden Death at the very end, Charmander CRIED. That’s how you know it’s waaaaaaaay past bedtime.

So there you have it: preschoolers have very little to say about video game conferences.  You’re welcome.

Saying “Hi!” to Kirby

This weekend, Charmander expanded his video game horizons. Well, it really began on Friday. I had stuff to do and I wanted the kids out of the way, so I granted them a bonus afternoon screen time session of watching some brain-rotting YouTube videos. Looking back, I don’t know why I didn’t just put on some normal, wholesome, brain-rotting TV. Probably it was because that’s what the kids asked for. Specifically, they enjoy watching the videos of Zack Scott. I swear, I will go into detail some day about how and why, but the point is, this is whom they enjoy watching. (I was very relieved when, upon checking his Facebook page one day, that OTHER people also let their preschoolers watch him; he’s very popular with the 5 year old crowd. Just note that he keeps his videos’ ratings in line with the actual games’ ratings, so if he’s playing a “T” or “M” rated game or the like, the language will match. Always screen your “Let’s play” videos before letting your kids watch them). Anyways, I let them pull up the channel via our PS3 (because Charmander CAN do this himself), but with the caveat that they couldn’t watch a video of Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare. Because I said so, that’s why. Squirtle noticed that there was a video with Kirby, and I OK’d watching that.

Well, Charmander was able to put some pieces together in his mind upon watching this playthrough of Kirby Triple Deluxe:

  1. This is a game for a system we own
  2. Mommy and Daddy are capable of buying games
  3. This game looks fun
  4. Mommy and Daddy should buy this game

At least, I figure that’s what went through his mind, because he asked. He hasn’t really asked for games to be bought before. Ok, well, that’s not entirely true. We’ve been in stores, and he’s asked for Wii U games, but we don’t have that system, and he’s asked for PvZ: Garden Warfare, but that requires an XBOX Live Gold account and always being online, which is not happening. But this is a game that he asked for without seeing the box. I said we’d talk to Daddy about it, which is a fancy way of saying “No, and I don’t want to talk about it right now”. I put him to bed later on, before Husbachu got home, and thought nothing else about it.

The next morning, I find Charmander sitting with a Wiimote in his hands playing the NES Kirby’s Adventure. Oh, good; we purchased that a long time ago on the Virtual Console, so it’s like it’s free at this point, which was why Husbachu fired it up for him.

If you can't beat 'em, eat 'em.  Best slogan ever.

You eat that box art, Kirby. That’ll teach ’em.

He claims that if Charmander can beat the game, maybe in the distant future we can buy him Triple Deluxe. Maybe. Maybe he’ll have forgotten by then! We just don’t want to spend money on games for a child who will likely not be able to play through the game himself. It requires more manual dexterity than a tower defense game does. Case in point: he was too stressed to beat the bosses on his own. Husbachu did the classic battle against the tree for him, and I took care of the first onslaught of Meta Knight. He did play through the rest of the stages up through most of the second world, so that was pretty good, at least. Now I’m wondering if mine and Husbachu’s backseat gaming is causing Charmander to rely on us too much. Maybe he wouldn’t ask us to do it if we weren’t sitting there next to him looking so capable. Anyways, after I did the Meta Knight fight for him, he seemed to be getting whiny, and then I discovered he’d been playing video games for an hour without having breakfast or anything like that, so we had to stop and act like humans for a bit. Later that night, though… he wanted to watch game play videos of Triple Deluxe again.

What's pink and sucks?

Eat that… stuff in front of you… Kirby. Is it us? Are you eating us?

And then he wanted to watch it again the next night, and this night as well. Two weeks ago, for show and tell at his preschool, he brought along some Plants Vs Zombies K’Nex. The week before that? A plush PvZ Zombie. And some random time before that, he brought along those cut outs I mentioned making for him before. But this week, he brought along a big Kirby plush we’ve had sitting around for ages.

Is a new era dawning? Is our home life about to become entirely about a pink ball with feet that devours all that crosses his path and absorbs his foes’ powers? I don’t know for certain. He is still playing PvZ daily, probably because this month there’s a special “party” every day in PvZ2 that awards special prizes. It is kind of refreshing to see some real enthusiasm for SOMETHING THAT’S NOT PLANTS VS ZOMBIES. Not that he hasn’t had other interests this entire time. But this is a nice change of pace. And always remember: If you can’t beat ’em, eat ’em. Thank you, Kirby.

Plants Vs. Zombies, Part 2 of 534975348754893754893574

“Garden Warfare, silly!”

That’s how my 5 year old explained the game he was attempting to play to his friend. He’s not playing the actual video game; we don’t even own it (we are not going to pay for an Xbox Live Gold membership ever), but we’ve watched videos of other people playing it, and so it has become a real world game. It basically involves the boys running around making their best pea shooter onamonapias and occasionally falling flat on the ground; waiting for the other to come and stand idly next to them for 2 seconds to revive them. Yes, this is just another way Plants Vs Zombies permeates our daily lives, and confuses the lives of everyone else.

Back in Part 1 of my series of discussions of my children’s favorite franchise, I posted a pic of my old Playmobil Victorian dollhouse, with its patio overtaken by paper zombies. This came about from an attempt to distract Charmander from wanting to play the actual video game constantly by rigging a real world proxy. Initially, we set up a game board of sorts with Legos, and used some very abstract designs to stand in for the plants (different colored blocks for the plants, and headless mini-figures for the zombies). This was a satisfactory substitute for probably half a year or so, but one day he wasn’t feeling content with the designs any more, so I decided to set up these cut-outs for him:

Just cut 'em out and fold them.

A sheet of PvZ paper cut-outs

Now, we have a million of these hiding around the house, being nibbled on by Bulbasaur. Both Charmander and Squirtle play with them pretty quietly together, though, and at least they can’t really hurt each other with paper, can they? Interestingly enough, my oldest started making some of his own plants again just the other day, out of the larger Lego Duplos:

The WallNut is not made of Duplos.

Ready the firing squad.

Even Squirtle, ever eager to be like his brother, has developed his own games based on Plants Vs. Zombies. He can’t actually play the game at all, so he pretends that he’s playing it on an imaginary phone.

Squirtle: “Look, I unlocked the Far Future!”

Random person: “Oh, very nice?”

Squirtle: “I’m a Sunflower!”

It has to be really confusing for his poor Pre-school teacher, although I’ve tried to explain what’s going on. This particular game of pretend can lead to confusion for Squirtle, as well, because he doesn’t understand that smart phones aren’t actually dedicated gaming devices. A lot of people, upon being shown his imaginary phone, try to make imaginary phone calls to him, which he doesn’t get, even though I’ve had him speak to his Grammy on the phone multiple occasions.

So, yes; PvZ takes up a lot of our life. Even when they’re not playing the actual game, they are still playing games based on the game. In way, I think that can be counted as a positive: they’re being fairly creative and active, right? We need to do something to get them to communicate with their friends about it more clearly, though. Can you guys all have your kids be obsessed with PvZ so that they just understand like my kids expect them to? Thanks, guys. Sincerely, The Zombies.

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.