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.


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.

Uh-oh, SpaghettiOs!

As we meandered down the aisles at ze Target the other day, Charmander managed to take a break from assaulting Squirtle when he noticed this can haphazardly shoved amidst a sea of mac & cheese:

Luigi is kind of meatballs

Patty cake, patty cake, pasta man; give me pasta power as fast as you can.

Yeah, clearly, we bought it, as that pic was taken at our house, and not the store. I have a hard time saying no to junk my kids ask for when it’s related to video games, and he was so excited about Mario, so I had to support that. Also, when I was a kid, albeit an older one, the ultimate in fine dining was a can of Sonic variety of SpaghettiOs. Every once in a while, my mom would even spring for the can with meatballs, which was extra epic at the time, and kind of depressing/horrifying, now that I think on it as an adult: We were *that* poor that the can that cost 20 cents more was a burden on our budget. Also, I thought this was good food? The latter is more a commentary on my mom’s cooking, but we’re getting off-topic.

Lunch time!

That it's in a red bowl and a green bowl is actually purely coincidental.

That it’s in a red bowl and a green bowl is actually purely coincidental.

One of Charmander’s first observations was that “the meatballs taste like pizza crust”, which I think is a compliment? The crust is his favorite part. This also brings some relevant nostalgia to my day, as we used to have pizza day once a week, and it was during the Super Mario Bros Super Show that we would eat it. Meeeemories.

Hey, Pizanos!

This is autographed by Captain Lou Albano. Insert your jealousy here.

Anyways, Charmander ate about half the bowl, and Squirtle just drank his juice, but that’s actually par for the course. It was a good learning experience, though. Charmander was able to explain on his own to his brother that the squares were supposed to be bricks, and the flowers Fire Flowers. He was really confused over the Super Mushrooms and Goombas for some reason, though. He kept asking what the difference was between the big mushrooms and the little mushrooms. We *have* played Mario games in this house; I don’t know what the problem was there.

Much adventure. Such shapes.

These shapes make up like, 2% of the actual pasta, though.

Also, I gotta say that Mario was looking kind of Wario in there, but maybe that was just me. The boys were pretty disappointed that there wasn’t a separate Luigi noodle. I think I’m going to email the company and suggest that they just flip a pic of the Mario pasta on the label and claim it’s Luigi to appease my children. Another fun fact: The Year of Luigi business was very successful in raising my kids’ awareness of the character. No lie; before all the promotion, Squirtle referred to the other Mario brother as “that green guy”. It was like he was an NPC in a Mario RPG. Fun times.

I don’t think we’ll be picking up another can of this, or any other SqaghettiOs; I think it’s more cost-efficient to make actual spaghetti and meatballs, but it was an experience, so there ya go. If they make some Mario mac & cheese, though, we will be all over that nonsense.

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!