How I Got My Game On

Image Via

Whenever I make a new friend, one of the very first questions I ask them is if they enjoy playing video games. Yes, I know that the question may seem a bit trivial, but to me, this question gives me a scale of how close of a friend you may possibly become. And yes, I know that it is a bit shallow on my part. But video games have always been a big part of my life, even though I am not what most people would define as a “hardcore gamer.” I rarely play games competitively, nonetheless I still enjoy video games. They always say that you can judge a person based on the friends that they surround themselves with or “birds of a feather flock together.” Sayings like these are especially true for me. Friends always have at least one hobby or like in common. To be a close friend of mine, you must either be a fan of video games or anime (though that’s a topic for another time.)

What got me into video games? Well, as I’ve shared with you before, I have an older brother. And for those of you with siblings, more-so older siblings, sharing is one of those things that your parents begged you to do for the sake of their sanity, yet you insistently disregarded it and continually raised hell just to drive them closer to their graves. My brother is actually ten years older than me, so you can imagine that there was a pretty large disconnect when ever we wanted to play together. When I was five, my brother was fifteen; while I was just starting elementary school, my brother was beginning his high school career. Not to mention that boys play differently than girls; there was no way I would have been able to wrestle with him without breaking something. Our age gap made the chance of us actually playing together almost nonexistent.

However, Christmas rolled around, and with it came the solution to our problem:

The Nintendo 64 was revolutionary in our household. As a child, I loved (and still love) my brother dearly, but it always saddened me that we weren’t as close as the other sibling in the neighborhood. No older brother wants his little sister to tag along with him and his friends all the time, so I was often left behind. Yeah, we talked, but the things we could talk about were severely limited due to my young age. But then, we were gifted with a Nintendo 64 and a game called Mario Kart 64. Its often joked that Mario games break up friendships, but in my case it brought my brother and I closer together. We now had a topic that we could talk to each other about! And soon, we had a close bond that I still cherish to this day. And with that, my love of video games grew because it helped bridge the gap that I feared would never be crossed.

My current obsession with games stem from the happiness I felt as a child playing video games with my loved one. So when I ask you, “Oh, do you play any video games” the question is more personal that what you may have once believed.

 

Time Flies When You’re Not Doing Much

Image taken from Daniel Dvorkin

I am a relatively simple person; it doesn’t take much for me to have a good time. I enjoy piece and quiet, and as such, I enjoy pastimes that promote this. I’d rather curl up with a good book or video game system than party any day of the week. “Relaxation is key” is my personal motto. So when the weekend rolled around last week, I decided that instead of getting a head start on my homework, my time would be better spent relaxing from the stress of the week. And by relax, I mean play video games until my eyes rolled out of my head from staring at the screen for so long. I know that many would deem this a poor way to spend ones time, and honestly, I kind of did as well. “You could be doing something productive with your time,” is the thought that often danced in my head whenever I looked at the time. I could practically feel the guilt gnawing at my chest as hours quickly melted away. I literally had to stomp the guilt away by justifying that I probably wouldn’t have the chance to relax for a while so I might as well as take advantage of the time. And that’s how I spent my Friday.

The next day I decided that I would spend my time in a productive manner. I have no idea what came over me. I rolled out of bed around seven in the morning and dragged myself over to my laptop; music in the morning always gets me pumped. I decided that it was time to give my room a deep cleaning. My mother always complains that whenever I’m home for the weekend, it takes not a minute for my bedroom to look as if someone has lived it for weeks without cleaning. And she’s right. I’ll be the first to admit that I have a bad habit of tossing my clothes around. In my defense, it is my room. But on the other hand, there is only so much disorganization I can stand. Let it be known that cleaning my room is typically a three day work in progress for me simply because of how easily distracted I am. My short attention span surely didn’t fail that day. Not even an hour into cleaning, my youtube music playlist I stumbled across a video clip of a couple dancing on the show So You Think You Can Dance.

Image courtesy of E Online

I was simply in awe of the talent of the dancers. I myself cannot dance. However, I can definitely appreciate the beauty and elegance of someone who can. Dancing is a performing art; an art that I wish I knew more about. My art expertise lies within studio art. Yes, I can create things with my hands, but arts such as poetry and dance have always been out of reach. Or have they? At that moment of cleaning, it came to me that as a young woman, I should learn how to dance formally- something along the lines of the waltz and the like. And that’s when it hit me! Forget cleaning my room! I’m going to learn how to dance! At the time, I envisioned that the rest of the day would look something like this:

Picture courtesy of She Knows

Or this:

Picture courtesy of For The Love of Books

In actuality, it ended up looking more like this:

Courtesy of Switched

 

 

Pokémon Training to the Extreme! Yeah Right…

The fact that I am a Pokémon fan is the first thing that people tend to notice about me. Usually, I’m walking around playing the game on my 3DS with my eyes glued to the screen rather that paying attention to what others are saying or doing. And if I actually take the time to speak with someone, there’s a 95% chance that I will in some way, shape, or form, mention Pokémon within the first ten minutes of the conversation. I don’t put a lot of stock in the card game; I much prefer the video games simply because I enjoy the feeling of playing through a journey and raising my Pokémon companions to become the champion of whatever region the game takes place in. And of course I watched the show growing up— I still do from time to time if it’s a particularly interesting episode; although my dislike of Ash is what has been turning me off from it as of late (last 10 years or so). My love for the game, however, has in no way diminished over the years.

Before spring break started, a few of my friends and I decided that we would have team battles once school resumed after break. I was immediately excited. It’s actually pretty rare for me to battle against real people. I’m easily intimidated my others because of my lack of in-depth strategy. In game NPCs are easy enough for me to defeat because they’re so predictable and easy to overwhelm with brute force. Now, while I don’t expect this to be a full blown metagame, this time I actually have to put real thought into my actions if I want to win. It’s time to consult the almighty helix fossil!

So after checking out my friends’ PC boxes, I came to a glaring conclusion: my Pokémon suck. I had never realized that they (my friends) EV and IV trained their teams for perfect stats. Sadly, my pokémon teams are utter trash compared to theirs. There was no way that I could ever hope to beat them when we battled. It was then that I vowed that my entire spring break would be dedicated to training them for competitive battle; something that I have never done before. So when I arrived home Thursday night before break officially began, I immediately put together a list of the pokémon that I planned to use during the battle. I had never realized how difficult it was to choose only six pokémon that would get me through anything that they managed to throw at me.

I actually favor bulky Pokémon because they can take hits. So Pokémon with great defense and special defense is a must. That automatically puts Bulbasuar and Snorlax on the team. Other than that, I decided to breed a bunch a pokémon to train for the week to get them into fighting shape.

I was totally getting amped up for the 27th to arrive!

But the very next day I went out and bought a new game, Fire Emblem: Awakening because why not? I should have known better. Pokémon Y was immediately tossed to the side as the battlefield tactics of Fire Emblem quickly consumed my attention.

Pokemon battle? What Pokémon battle?

See ya!

P.S. What Pokémon do you guys think would make a great well rounded team?

Art Midterms Are A Pain…

So today is the beginning of midterm exam week and I must say that I am utterly swamped with work that needs to be completed. The majority of the work is for my art classes. And for those of you who think that art “is an easy A” course and is useless, I have one thing to tell you:

Many people believe that all you do is stroll into class, color in a coloring book for two and a half hours, and roll out at the end of the semester with teachers tossing around A’s from the top of their tables like its candy. Sadly, that’s not how it works. Art takes a lot of time and dedication to complete; the more time and effort put into the work, the better the end product is. But as I said, it takes time; time that I do not have thanks to the enormous workload that my non-art classes dumped on me last minute. Well, maybe not last minute, but pretty close to it (in my opinion at least).

For my midterm project in my 3D course, the theme is metamorphosis. My professor distinctly forbid us from doing something cliché, like a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly. He wanted us to think outside of the box; like a cow turing onto a hamburger, or a hand into a spider- basically, anything so long that it’s interesting. The only real stipulations are (1) it has to be made out of clay and (2) it must be “awesome.”

Being the overachiever that I am in art classes, I decided to go big- never mind the fact that I have never worked with clay in my entire life. My original idea was to create a rose turing into a ballerina. Awesome, right? Yeah. Didn’t work out. The torso of the ballerina kept slumping no matter what I did, so that idea was scrapped. My next and current idea is to turn the flower into a swan. It seemed a bit easier in my head. So I’ve gone from this:

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To this:

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And finally this:

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So now that the flowers are out of the way. I plan to move onto the swan tonight. I hope to have this entire thing complete by tomorrow night… I know that I’m not getting any sleep tonight. Wish me luck!

See ya!

Never Ending Gaming Fails

Do you ever get that feeling that the world has it out for you? That the stars and planets have aligned perfectly just to deter you from obtaining the thing that you want most in the world? Most people would be convinced that you are crazy. And honestly, I tend to agree with them. But in the video game world, I truly believe the algorithms perform some strange code dance that purposefully prevents me from furthering my progress.

So my current gaming obsession is Square Enix’s Bravely Default.

I first learned about Bravely Default while surfing Youtube during my school’s winter break. As an avid Pokemon fan, I tend to subscribe to youtube channels that primarily focus on the Pokemon franchise. TheJWittz is a youtuber whose main focus is all things Pokemon and Nintendo. However, he has recently decided to create smaller segments on his channel that integrates other games in an attempt to make his channel more universal to gain a wider audience. While watching one of TheJWittz’s videos about censoring in Bravely Default, I was immediately entranced by the crisp and colorful graphics of the game. The preview of the game had hooked me in embarrassingly easily, though it was to be expected (as an art enthusiast, I’m a sucker for good animation).

There are a lot of good reviews for the game available, but here’s a quick synopsis: Bravely Default is the pseudo-successor to Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light that follows the journey of the games four main protagonist- Tiz, Agnes, Edea, and Ringabel- on a journey to cleanse four crystals in order to restore balance to a dying world. The game is a strategic RPG that mostly mimics the turn based combat and character job system typical of the Final Fantasy franchise. One glaring difference of combat is the “default” and “brave” options for which the game is named after. “Default” allows you to skip your turn for the benefit of storing energy, while “brave” allows you to release that energy to deal more damage to your opponents. As a strategy game, this decision is crucial to your success or failure when battling a boss.

When the game was finally released in the Americas, I waited a week before rushing out to buy it because, you know, school. When I was finally able to play the game, my mind was instantly blown away by the quality of it. The music was enchanting, the graphics were clear and vivid, and the characters actually spoke! All notions of school were immediately dumped from my head that weekend.

Not my greatest moment, I know.

Now, I may not be a world class strategist, but I’m no slouch either. When I first started playing, I do what I always do in leveling up games: I grinded my team. For those of you that don’t know, grinding is when you complete repetitive tasks in order to obtain an object or achievement. In my case, I walked around killing monsters to level up my team so when I finally came across boss battles, I would be able to easily sweep them. Great strategy, right?

Didn’t work.

The first boss was a pair of fighters that were ludicrously easy to beat simply because their only purpose was to get you to understand the combat system. The second boss, Ominas Crowe, was a complete and utter troll. Crowe is known as the easiest boss to defeat in the entire game, yet here he was defeating my team left, right, and center! I was on level 10 for crying out loud! Crowe is a dark mage; meaning he had damaging magic moves, i.e. fire and blizzard, that completely obliterated my team. Not to mention, he silenced my white mage- the healer- so she couldn’t cure the fighters, because mages can’t cast without speaking. It was a dark day. I had already battled him three times and lost (badly). Wasn’t he suppose the be a pushover? Not to mention that I was still in the prologue of the game! I couldn’t advance in the game until I had beaten him. Here I was, spending hours trying to move onto chapter one of the game, and this jerk was standing in my way; like he was freakin’ Gandolf the Grey!

It wasn’t until I finally figured that me continuously spamming “brave” without “defaulting” to store power wasn’t going to get me anywhere. The game was a strategy game for a reason. And here I was trying to use brawn over brains, when the title blatantly tells me that I have to find the happy medium of the two to progress further. After taking an hour break (it had already been four hours since I first challenged Crowe), I finally arranged my team so that my hardest hitters were first while my white mage (Agnes) lured attention away from herself in order to heal the fighters. And it worked (even though Tiz and Ringabel had fainted). After roughly six ours I had finally made it through the prologue of the game and entered into chapter one! All that work had finally paid off! As I proudly entered onto the next route, one thing completely slipped my mind.

I didn’t heal my team after the battle.

So imagine my surprise when the first rogue monsters I meet are in a group of four and half of my teem is unable to battle, while those that are, are at quarter health. Yeah.

ARRRGH!!!

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Let’s See Where This Winding Road Takes Us!

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I see that you’ve stumbled across my small area of the internet. For that, I applaud you! So what exactly is the point of this blog? Well, first off, you must understand a few things about me. In reality, I am a painfully shy girl; this makes speaking to others, never mind public speaking, almost impossible for me. I am very self-conscious, something that seems to have developed from living in the shadow of a very outgoing older brother (He always says that he casts such a large shadow. That jerk…). My shyness often prevents me from doing things that interest me, such as making new friends and trying out ballroom dancing. However, I made a new years resolution that I would attempt to step outside my comfort zone and try new things. You only live once and I’ve decided that I don’t want to have any regrets when I’m older. As a person that doesn’t do social media— never had a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.— creating this blog in and of itself is forcing me outside of my comfort zone.

As of this moment, this blog will be a living record of my experiences living on a college campus and trying new things. Writing and art making has always been my primary vehicle for communicating my thoughts and emotions to the world, so I hope to share some of my work with you in the hopes of bettering my skills (or lack thereof). I also hope to share with you my obsession that is the wonderful world of anime and video gaming. Be warned: there may be quite a few rants about the unfairness of games and stories of me rage quitting. Aside from that, Amusebox will be a place for me to connect with you and share my journey. I encourage suggestions and will most likely post a lot of questions about certain situations that I need clarified. Otherwise, we’ll see where Amusebox goes from here.

See you next time!