Apr. 20th, 2011 10:35 pm
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A couple of days ago the closing song "Still Alive" from Portal popped up on my main Pandora station. I liked it so much that I looked into buying the game. Best Buy didn't carry it, according to their website. Game Stop did, and had it available as an instant digital download - for $20, plus a mandatory $3 surcharge for being able to download it again (if it got erased) for 18 months from the date of purchase.

So I went directly to Valve, the company that makes Portal, and downloaded it for $9.99. Game Stop are crooks!


Mar. 21st, 2011 11:28 pm
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After we finished Cheaper by the Dozen, he asked me to get Belles On Their Toes. While we were waiting for the inter-library loan to come in, we started Robert Silverberg's Lost Race of Mars - I'd forgotten all about it, but it practically fell into my lap when I was looking through the books in my closet for something to read to Sebastian.

He likes it very much so far. It's better than I remembered, and the illustrations are engaging.

He also started reading (purely on his own initiative) the first Harry Potter book. I tried to explain that they're derivative and not particularly well-written, but he really wants to read it. He's been pretty diligent about it, too!

Other than that, we bought the old Turbo-Grafx Neutopia game for the Wii. He likes it quite a bit, but he's often having me play it while he watches. :D

Dragon Age

Jul. 22nd, 2010 11:09 pm
bobquasit: (Laszlo Late)
I picked up Dragon Age: Origins a few days ago. So far it seems to be the game that Oblivion should have been, but wasn't (Oblivion looked cool, but got really dull fast).

Dragon Age is a bit drab compared to World of Warcraft, and the plots feel a bit railroaded, but it's a good alternative to WoW. It relies quite heavily on cutscenes, though, and requires more tactics than WoW. Unlike WoW, it's a solo game.

Playing it has enhanced my appreciation for the way that Blizzard uses art to enhance WoW. WoW is graphically inferior, but artistically far superior to Dragon Age: Origins - at least, so far.

(Posting with my phone is killing me. I hate this keyboard!)

Posted via LjBeetle


Jul. 28th, 2009 01:11 pm
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Should I get World of Warcraft? Is it fun?

I picked up a DVI-D cable for my monitor yesterday, and was pleased to see that it made a visible improvement in the look of Diablo II: LOD.
bobquasit: (Default)
There was an amazing game that I only saw once, in the basement of a huge old hotel-mansion somewhere in upstate New York. I'm not sure if you could call it a video game, exactly. Part of it was actually a diorama, with a whole scene of little plastic trees and things. There was a little tank in the middle of the scene, and appearing on top of it was a glowing missile that seemed 3D, but also didn't seem solid. I think somehow a mirror was involved.

Anyway, enemies (planes? missiles? I don't remember, it was long ago) would shoot towards your tank from the night sky, and you'd launch your missile and try to shoot them down. The neatest thing was that you could steer the missile after you launched it. Once it blew up the target, a new missile would appear on your launcher.

I never saw that game again, and I don't remember the name of it. I don't even remember the name of the hotel. But the memory of that game has stuck in my mind for thirty years now.

And now thanks to Google I not only have been able to find the name of the game (S.A.M.I., or "Surface-to-Air Missile Interceptor") and a cheesy old ad for it with a girl in a silver lamé jumpsuit, but I've found video of it in action as well!


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'm not doing much on Askville any more - to tell you the truth, this bronchitis is killing me, so I'm not doing much of anything - but here's a question I couldn't resist answering.

Favorite video games
Read more... )

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.
bobquasit: (Default)
Here are the games we've bought online for the Wii so far:
Donkey Kong - I got this mainly for Sebastian. Frankly, it's a disappointment; it's the old console version, NOT the arcade version. It lacks the later levels, and gameplay isn't the same.

Military Madness - This is hands-down the BEST strategy video game ever made. I played it way back when on the TurboGrafx-16, still own it, and have an emulator to boot - but I jumped at the chance to get it on the Wii. What an awesome game! I hate strategy board games, and I'm still a huge fan of this one.

Super Mario Bros. - The classic old side-scroller that I used to pump quarters into in college. What fun.

Bonk's Adventure - An absolutely great old TurboGrafx game, with one of the best endings I've ever seen. This was the first in the Bonk series, and I think it's the best. I can play this one through from start to finish in less than an hour, but it's still great every time.

Bomberman '93 - This is an update of the old Bomberman game that I played on the TurboGrafx. It's definitely more complicated than the original, which I frankly miss. Unfortunately the original isn't available on the Wii yet.

Super Mario 64 - When my roommate Scott first brought this home and started playing it, I went insane. I dreamed this game for years afterwards. It's the definitive 3D game. I sometimes wonder what made it so incredible: was it the ease of control? The clarity and bright colors? The depth of play? Maybe all of that. In any case, we've already collected over 90 power stars and are working our way towards 120 and a rooftop meeting with Yoshi.

I think that all of this shows that the Wii is headed towards the top of the console market. Whenever I read a story about the Wii vs. other consoles, inevitably there are some furious comments from Xbox 360 or PS3 fans screaming that the Wii is only a fad, a gimmick, with pathetic graphics - surely once everyone realizes how superior the Xbox or PS is they'll come crawling on their hands and knees, leaving the Wii behind them.

Bullshit! As someone pointed out, Nintendo has gone beyond the hardcore gamer market - they're no longer dependent on competing with (and beating) Microsoft and Sony, they're actually reaching an entirely new, untapped market of former non-gamers. Look at me - I haven't bought a new console in a long time, and the only reason I have a GameCube is because Teri bought it for me to play while I was recovering from surgery. Yet not only do we have a Wii, but we're buying games from it. The nostalgia market is yet another one that Xbox and the PlayStation haven't tapped into.

The hardcore gamer market is miniscule compared to the potential market for the Wii. And don't even get me started on the stupidity of selling a game system at a loss in order to make it up on the back end! Well, actually it does work, of course (or rather it can), but if your competition is actually making money on every system they sell, you're in serious trouble.

And since 95% of the responses to those grumpy hardcore gamers are inevitably pro-Wii, I think the majority of people agree. :D
bobquasit: (Default)
Just a few bullet points about the weekend:

- I made scrambled eggs for the first time in my life yesterday morning. For Sebastian, of course; personally, I hate eggs. But they came out pretty well, apparently.

- Sebastian is sick. Friday evening he fussed and told us that his stomach hurt before we put him to bed. He's complained about that in the past, and we think that he's a little bit of a hypochondriac, so we left it at that. Later in the early morning hours he woke up, crying again, and the pain was clearly very bad. I gave him Motrin, and he was better within ten or fifteen minutes.

Seven hours later, though, he suddenly started crying hysterically again. Same thing: pain in his stomach. It was on the left, side, not the right, or I'd have feared that it was appendicitis. He also started saying that he wanted to go to sleep, and that set off alarm bells in my mind. When a child says that something hurts and they want to go to sleep, they are not faking.

So we called the doctor. Ended up bringing him in. The doctor checked him thoroughly, had a test run at the local hospital (fortunately no shots or blood-tests were necessary), and came up with nothing. We switched Sebastian over to Tylenol, and the time periods stretched out a bit; it took about forty-five minutes to an hour for the Tylenol to take effect, but more like eight or nine hours before another dose was needed. And he hasn't had a dose since this morning. Still, we're going to follow up with his doctor. This shouldn't be happening.

- Hadn't mentioned it before, but Teri gave me a GameCube game called Baten Kaitos for Christmas. I started playing it recently, and it's actually pretty cool - a computer RPG, but combat is handled with an on-screen card resolution system. I was always able to resist Magic: The Gathering and its many clones, but I imagine that someone who was into that might enjoy Baten Kaitos even more than I am. Teri and Sebastian like it, too - Teri even played it for a while, and did pretty well!
bobquasit: (Default)
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...
bobquasit: (Default)
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.
bobquasit: (Default)
You want to know something that bugs me?

I know I sound just like every other doting parent when I talk about Sebastian. That doesn't really bother me all that much, though, because - how shall I put this? - I know that unlike most of those parents, I'm right. The boy is pretty amazing.

On Saturday Sebastian and I went with Teri to pick up a stray cat from the animal hospital and deliver him to the animal shelter, where Teri was volunteering that day. The cat was a beauty, a young male with orange-striped fur and a white belly - amazingly like Sarah. I speculated that he might be her brother, and my sharp-eared boy picked up on that. Soon after he told me that the cat was Sarah's brother, and that she missed him.

There wasn't a lot I could say about that.

So we dropped Teri off, and I took Sebastian over to The Shire bookstore in Franklin, MA. Time flew by; we looked at books (and read some), Sebastian played with toys, and when my commuter train went by (first outbound, and twenty minutes later inbound) Sebastian jumped into my arms and watched with delight from on top of my shoulders.

We found an interesting book for Sebastian: Mouse & Mole's All-Weather Train Ride (or something like that). It was the only train book we could find that he didn't already have. It's kind of neat; a typical story for young children about a mouse and a mole on a train, but on the bottom of each page is an explanation of the weather and environment that's featured on that page. Neat!

As for myself, I found Homer Price by Robert McCloskey. It's a young-adult book, but I still found it very enjoyable. McCloskey is probably best known for Make Way for Ducklings, of course. Lots of great illustrations, just as I remembered.

There was also a book which was frankly kind of a surprise. Quick explanation:

There's a story which has stuck in my head for a long time. The problem was, I couldn't remember the title or author. I thought I'd read it in one of those great collections of mystery and horror stories for young adults that were published under Alfred Hitchcock's name, but I wasn't sure. I'd recently searched Google for what I remembered of the dialog, but came up blank.

But the bottom shelf of an out-of-the-way bookcase at the store had a number of those Hitchcock books. So I picked up one at random, hoping against hope that I might find the story. I was out of luck, of course; none of the titles in the table of content looked like likely candidates. One was a bare possibility, but a quick check confirmed that it wasn't the story.

But there was a story by one of my favorite authors, Lord Dunsany. The title, In A Dim Room, didn't ring any bells, which was unusual; I know most Dunsany. So I took a look.

You guessed it - it was the very story I had been looking for! Naturally I bought it.

I'd love to tell you about that story, but I'd feel really guilty if I were to spoil it for anyone. It's really memorable, and packs quite a wallop. In fact, it would make a HELL of an element for a scenario!

By the time we left almost three hours had passed. We could have stayed even longer, but it was almost 1pm and we'd have to pick up Teri at 2.

On the way home Sebastian suddenly became extremely hungry, and demanded weiners. We'd had them for dinner the night before at his insistence; he doesn't run our lives, incidentally, but yesterday we were kind of up for them anyway, and personally it has never bothered me to eat the same meal twice in a row, if I like it. Besides, it was a quick meal, we didn't have much time.

So for the first time Sebastian ate at a counter. We were right in the front of the store (New York Weiners); to tell the truth, we were kind of in the way (I asked if it was all right for us to sit there before we did, though). Sebastian was cute as hell, but also amazingly good. He ate two weiners and some fries. He discussed how french fries were made with the owners (his guess was "by a BIG french fry machine"). No mess, no disasters; he's really growing up. It felt great to sit at a counter with my red-headed little prodigy.

It's late, so just one more story. Today, Sunday, Teri and I raced against each other in Mario Kart on the Nintendo 64 to amuse Sebastian. Teri played Princess Peach, and I played Mario. This wasn't a fair contest; I'm damn good at Mario Kart (and at Super Mario World, for that matter). Even though I held back a bit, I won handily (fortunately Teri is used to me and my exasperating ways ). On the screen, Mario raised his arms in triumph with a "Woohoo!", while Peachy covered her eyes in sorrow.

"Look, Sebastian! Princess Peach is crying!", I said (he has a bit of a crush on Princess Peach).

"No, Dad!" (his voice dropped to a confiding whisper) "it's just a cartoon!"

Here's what bugs me: I could never convey the precise way he said that. Which means that I can't explain why Teri and I broke up laughing for the next several minutes. And to tell you the truth, I'm afraid that in time I won't remember wonderfully cute moments like that.

If I could, I'd record every precious minute on film.


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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