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I ended up having to call Nintendo customer support, because their site simply would not work. It was a pleasant call; the Nintendo rep asked me what sort of phone I was using, because she'd never heard such a clear call in her life. I was using Google Voice with my headset, and told her so.

On the down side, we're not qualified for free repairs. We'll have to pay $85 plus tax to have the Wii's lens cleaned. If we do, though, it will have a new warranty for twelve months. Still, that's more money than we'd care to spend at the moment.

I also discussed our DS problems with the rep. We have three DSes and a DSi, and none of them are working properly; they all have big problems playing almost any game. They no longer recognize that a chip has been inserted, most of the time!

Unfortunately, it would be ANOTHER $85 per machine to have them repaired, since they're all off of warranty. That's $425!!!

We could save $40 by shipping all of the DSes with the Wii, and the rep was able to reduce the per-DS cost to $50 under that circumstance. But that's still $285 plus tax.

I think we'll have to have the Wii repaired, since Sebastian's heart would break otherwise. But as for the DSes...I don't know.


Jan. 29th, 2011 05:52 pm
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Teri and I are both dead tired. We had to get up early today, because there was a Cub Scout Belt Loop Bonanza at the local high school. Teri drove us in and then went to the animal shelter where she volunteers. Sebastian and I spent most of the day earning belt loops: Video Games, Astronomy, Computers, and Art.

Later in the afternoon, we let him buy Super Smash Bros Brawl for the Wii. He was terribly excited. But when he put it into the Wii, the wails and tears soon began. The disc simply couldn't be read. That's been happening more and more often with the Wii; lots of our discs no longer work.

So I went upstairs and looked up Nintendo customer support. Apparently this is not an uncommon problem; the lens in our Wii probably needs cleaning. We're to send it in to the factory at no charge. When I told Sebastian that we'd have to pack up the Wii and the Super Smash Bros Brawl disc (as specified) and send them both back to Nintendo, the tears increased. In a very tearful hoarse voice, he asked how long it would take. I didn't know.

"Can we hook up the GameCube while the Wii is gone?" he asked tearfully.

"Sure, that's just what I was thinking!" I answered.

"Yay!" he said, still sobbing. It was too funny for words. I had to flee the room before I started laughing and enraged him.

In the meantime, I'm having trouble reaching the mail-in section of Nintendo's support site. It's simply not responding. I've tried it in Firefox and Chrome, but nothing will come in - and my net connection is fine right now. I wonder what the problem is?


Aug. 26th, 2009 10:58 am
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Sebastian just called me. He wants to buy a Fossil Fighter game for the DS. It costs $35. I asked: "How can we pay for that?"

"I was thinking we could all chip in."

"Oh? How much can you chip in?"

"...two dollars."

"We'll see."

I'll check the price at Best Buy in a little while.


Jul. 7th, 2009 01:31 pm
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I am in intense pain. I have DS finger.

It's because I played a lot of Super Mario DS 64 on vacation, and even more on the trip home and yesterday. I was trying to get the Wario hat. I succeeded in a final frenzy of effort (the Wario boss is tough), but ended up hurting my right index finger quite badly.

How badly? I got relatively little sleep last night; when I did finally manage to get to sleep, I could still feel the pain in my dreams. In fact, I dreamed that my fingernail was badly infected, and that I'd gone to the doctor. He injected me under the fingernail with antibiotics, several times. Rather than be terrified as I normally would be by such a prospect, I gladly accepted the shots...and then waited for the pain to go away.
Read more... )
Last night he went on a "cleaning" spree in his room to try to find the game, and ended up making it far messier than it had been. He dumped everything off the top of his bureau onto the floor. He still didn't find the game, unfortunately. We're going to have to walk him through a proper cleaning, I suspect.


Dec. 29th, 2008 02:59 pm
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A comment from Askville about DS games:

My son got one a month ago. We got my wife one for Christmas. I'm the only one in my family who doesn't have one.

Super Mario 64 is a great game, if you like that sort of thing. I'm also really looking forward to trying The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass, which is a sequel to the superb The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker on the GameCube/Wii. Both of those games are essentially RPG/adventure games, but they're beautifully done.

But the game that has REALLY hooked every adult so far is Margot's Word Brain. Read more... )
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I don't know if LJ is dying or if it's just the holiday, but it's awfully quiet around here! I don't feel like writing much myself. I'm feeling lousy in all sorts of ways.

But I guess I'd better do some updates.

- Sebastian got the Nutshell Kids book collection in his stocking. They're four tiny little books by Maurice Sendak, and were all turned into songs by Carole King for the Really Rosie TV special. Sebastian has been reading the books every has been a really special time for us.

- I've managed to make flossing a regular part of Sebastian's evening routine. It should be a big help to him for the rest of his life.

- I picked up a card reader for $14 at BJs yesterday. You see, when I bought my computer I saved a few bucks by eliminating the card reader; I didn't really know what it was, and it sounded useless. But my camera needs to be powered on in order to transfer pictures from the SD card to the computer, and the process is very clunky; Windows doesn't interact well with my camera.

The connection often fails - not the actual wire, it's more like the camera goes into sleep mode and the computer forgets it existed - and even when it works, the transfer speed is really slow. It took nearly an hour to empty the 2GB chip!

What really pushed me over the brink was my attempt to show photos and video from our Disney trip to our families. Both of our families came over (on different days), and I tried various ways to get the pictures to display on our TV. A DVD simply failed. A data CD gave the message that the photos were an incompatible size. It was really frustrating!

Since we'd recently gotten a new router and hooked it up to the Wii, I downloaded their new Photo Channel 1.1 - it was free. It was also rather promising, and I was excited to see that you could use it to show photos and videos from an SD card. Once again there were problems, though. I discovered to my horror that Windows wouldn't allow me to copy pictures TO the camera. It was a one-way connection!

Our families aren't likely to visit again for a long time, but nonetheless I went and picked up a card reader. It let me throw about 30 photos and 30 videos on the SD card quickly and easily - it's SO good when technology works well. I put the card in the Wii, and was amazed at the results.

You can view individual photos and videos, edit them, turn them into puzzles, zoom in, etc. etc. You can also play videos backwards - and we all just about died of laughter watching Sebastian shoot up a water slide.

It was the slide show feature that was most impressive, though. It has a lot of options for control, but the default settings produced a simply lovely show. Photos and videos were shown in the order they were taken; the photos were displayed in various ways, zooming slowly in or out or across, with some really lovely and effective music playing as a soundtrack. Videos were intercut with the photos beautifully. Nintendo did a really great job, I must say!

New router

Dec. 28th, 2008 12:17 am
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We did a bit of shopping on the 26th, and I picked up a new wireless router. As you may remember, our old Linksys one died a few months after we bought it. So this time, I went with a Belkin.

It was...I can't tell you how much easier it was to set up than that Linksys router. It was so easy to get it working with the Wii, and I was stunned at how much easier it was to set up security, too.

We had a lot of Wii updating to do, and I couldn't resist downloading a few games: Star Fox 64 and Dungeon Explorer (which was originally on the Turbo Grafx).

What else? Oh, right: Sebastian got Teri a DS for Christmas. I figured, what the hell. We survived the flight home, after all - and that was a pretty scary experience.

One thing I forgot to mention about the flight: when we were in Atlanta getting ready to come home, and the weather reports were really bad, and the pilot was making scary-sounding announcement (and sounding pretty scared himself)...I went over and bought Sebastian a giant $53-dollar stuffed panda from the Zoo Atlanta kiosk. I figured that on the small chance that we might die, it made more sense for his last few hours to be as happy as possible - and that by holding the panda on his lap, he'd get a little more protection if the plane got shaken up.

Teri and Sebastian got a lot of DS games, too. Teri bought Shrek: Carnival Games; I tried to tell her that that was almost certainly a crappy game (stuff based on movies and TV usually is, and I personally HATE Shrek) but somehow lost the will to press my point. Sure enough, though, the game turned out to suck royally.

One game that has addicted both of us is the "Word Link" game in Margot's Word Brain. It's kind of like a cross between Boggle and Tetris, with the emphasis on Boggle. You have to make words from letters, and when you do the letters disappear and new ones drop in from the top. You only get 90 seconds to get as high a score as possible.

I have the two top scores right now, but she'll doubtless beat me eventually. She'll have quiet time to play. And random chance is definitely a large factor, so the more she plays, the more likely she is to get top scores.

Argh. Must sleep.
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Sebastian has a couple of GameCube games which I dislike: a Willy Wonka game (based on the Johnny Depp movie) and Scooby Doo Unmasked!. They're remarkably similar to each other, in an annoying way.

I ended up getting sucked into the Scooby Doo game. Part of the experience was so annoying that - well, let me see if I can explain.

The game is sort of 3D. You can rotate the camera view - sometimes, when it suits the designers. At other times (lots of them), the camera view is fixed.

And that's what makes the game hard. There are times when the only thing that makes the game difficult is that the designers force you to play while viewing from the worst possible angle. For example, in the medieval level there's a point where you have to jump from one hand-hold to another. There are intermittent jets of poison between some of the hand-holds, so you have to time things carefully.

Here's the problem. First of all, you need to swing Scooby back and forth to build up momentum, so you can release a handhold and fly forward to the next one. That means you need to have Scooby swinging forward when you release - and you need to move the joystick to "push" him in the right direction.

But you're forced to view the action from the side, and it's not clear if you need to push the joystick forward and back to get Scooby swinging properly - i.e. from Scooby's perspective - or left and right, which is the way he's swinging from your perspective. The controls are vague enough that even with a lot of testing and thought, I couldn't figure out which way was right. That is, assuming that ANY way was right, which I sometimes doubt!

Over and over Scooby would suddenly stop swinging properly. Or he'd swing properly, but then on release he'd fly backwards, or straight down, and die. Over and over and over.

Another issue was that because we were being forced to look at the action from the worst possible angle, I was unable to judge distance and depth. Yet distance and depth were being used to kill me, over and over.

Viewed from the side, it was almost impossible to determine where Scooby was in relation to the handhold. Height was easy enough, as was left-right, but back and forth were impossible. So Scooby would jump, but he'd be completely out of place in the depth plane - and would plummet to his death.

Which was fine by me - I've come to hate that stupid dog - but I got obsessed, and frankly pissed off. It's not right to design a game in which the real challenge is to overcome the deliberate viewing handicaps installed by the designers!

I eventually won the game, of course. After all, it's designed for children. But the experience made me think a lot about the whole issue of 3D in games and entertainment. I think I'll work up an article of sorts on the subject soon.

Oh, one more thing: the ending of the Scooby Doo game was pretty lame. Some games have great endings; Super Mario 64, for example, or The Twilight Princess. But this one was quick and dull.

There were a few neat concepts, specifically machines that gave Scooby one of three special costumes that gave him different powers. But the options were much too limited. You got each costume precisely when you needed it, and lost it as soon as you were finished doing that task. There was never an option to choose which costume you were going to use. All in all it was a limited and annoying game.
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I looked around for a Nintendo community, but couldn't find one that felt like it was worth posting in. I wish there was a community for over-30 gamers (or maybe over-40 gamers), but I am NOT going to be the one to start one up.
Read more... )
So it goes...
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Sebastian's craze for Mario continues. We play Mario Kart 64 as well as Super Mario World 64; he's a big fan.

Yesterday there was a documentary on TV about Venice, Italy.

"Come here, Sebastian! Look! That's Venice. It's in a country called 'Italy'. That's where Mario and Luigi come from!"

"Is that where Bowser comes from, too?"

"No. I think he's from Germany."

Not the funniest response; if my brain had been working better I'd have said he was from Washington DC. But what do you want? I'm sick as a dog.


Nov. 23rd, 2004 12:44 pm
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I've been relatively inactive lately; sorry. Partly that's due to the political situation. The whole situation is nightmarish; I see inevitable disaster coming, and yet so many people insist on believing that everything is fine. Just ignore that anvil 20 feet above our heads...

I've also been sick as a dog. The throat bug that has been going around finally got to me via Teri or Sebastian. It hit me like a ton of bricks a few days ago; my head felt hot, and ready to explode, while my throat felt as if it had been sandpapered. I actually passed out last night at 7:45. But I kept waking up every hour or so. Several times because Sebastian was shouting for me.

In between I had lots of dreams, including a neat one where I was driving Sebastian around on a beautiful sunny day. We stopped at an odd sort of "state welcome center", or something, that had a tall shelf of colorful, used books for sale - most of them for children. Sebastian was really happy to see it, and then we accidentally walked through a curtain into an inner courtyard that had thousands more books, and lots of other fun stuff for sale.

Dreams are fun. Mine are, anyway.

Back in the real world, we've been playing Super Mario World on my old Nintendo 64. At first I didn't think it would play, but eventually I got it working. Sebastian loves it! He loves it so much, in fact, that I have had to give Teri lessons so that she can play it for him when I'm not there. The whole game cracks him up, particularly when I make Mario crawl.

He also really likes to see Princess Peach (I think he has a little crush on her). That requires me to actually beat the game, which used to be hard to do. But I've gotten really good at it.

Recently when this bug was starting to wipe me out I did have some trouble with the final Bowser battle, and got a little upset. So now every time I'm on my way to Bowser, Sebastian pats me on the shoulder and says, very earnestly and sincerely "You're very good, Daddy!".

He's really trying to encourage me. It's so cute.

The boy also finds Mario's butt-stomp attack hilarious. He's been trying to do it on our sofa, and cracks up every time.

I don't suppose anyone reading this plays Super Mario any more, but I was recently able to solve a puzzle that had always bothered me: there are two coins hanging underneath the castle's bridge. It seems that there's almost no way to reach them, unless you've beaten the game and can fly. So why are they there?

It turns out that you can reach them. You need to do a double (not triple) jump against the wall, and then jump up off the wall straight up. It's not really easy, but I've done it several times now; you need to stay on the line of the sun's shadow. Once you've gotten the second coin, a 1-up appears on the floor of the moat directly beneath the center of the bridge.

So it goes.


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