Flashback Friday: Sims 2

Double Jump Kris Mii It’s another Friday! Yay!

We’ve been going back and forth between playing our Switch Games and living out perfect lives on the Sims 4. This month I thought we’d go back to when Rachel and I had first gotten hooked onto the Sims series with Sims 2. 

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The Sims 2, first published in 2004, is the second installment of the Sims franchise published by EA Games and developed by Maxis. Like the original Sims, the Sims 2 is a real life simulator where the player controls the characters and aids them in living their lives day to day.

The game itself was released on a plethora of platforms, most notably the PC but also the Xbox, the Playstation 2, and Nintendo’s GameCube, Gameboy Advance, and DS. It was a commercial success, smashing records with its release, and sold over 13 million copies over all platforms by March 2012.

The Sims 2 allows the characters — the Sims — to age through life cycles, such as child, teen, and adult, with a 3D game engine. Players customize the Sims’ looks and personalities before throwing them into a world where they can get jobs, develop relationships, and grow old or die unfortunate premature deaths. The game allows the players to play the role of a god, choosing and manipulating every aspect of the Sims’ lives, or just letting the Sims choose their own fate however their personality dictates they would act.

Besides the base game, the Sims 2 had expansion packs to greatly expand the gameplay. For example, Pets included dogs and cats, Nightlife boasted clubs and a dating system, and Seasons brought weather to the Sims’ world. Expansions tended to bring new life forms for the Sims, such as PlantSims, Vampires, and Witches. Stuff Packs were also developed and sold separately, bringing new items to decorate the Sims’ world with.

Since then, the franchise has evolved to The Sims 3 and most recently The Sims 4, each bringing new content to the franchise. Despite initial glitches and problems with the games’ releases, the Sims franchise continues to be a success.

Have you ever played the Sims 2? What did you think of it?

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First Impressions: Fire Emblem Echoes

Double Jump Kris MiiMonday is back… I hope everyone has a wonderful week!

The weather around where I am is supposed to be cloudy and a bit rainy all week, and I’m totally fine with that. It gives me more of an excuse to spend my downtime inside playing new video games!

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My copy of Fire Emblem Echoes arrived Friday evening and I didn’t get a chance to open the game until Saturday afternoon. It taunted me from atop my desk until I was able to start it up.

I’ve really enjoyed the past couple of Fire Emblem games, most notably Awakening and Fates was close behind it, so I was eager to try out Echoes. I know it’s a remake of a Japan-only Fire Emblem game from way back when but, other than that, I didn’t know too much about the plot.

I’ve reached about the end of the first act, and I’m really enjoying the characters! Gray so far seems to be my favorite, but the little entourage around Alm are all entertaining. The voice acting so far is phenomenal, and I was pleasantly surprised that the game has full voice acting rather than the partial acting that Awakening and Fates had.

The beginning cut scenes and story was cute, if a bit corny enough to make me chuckle at the drama. The male-fighter going off to find the more passive female main character is a little frustratingly cliche, as is the first two to three “missions” revolving around rescuing female characters, but the story isn’t too bad.

I was a little bummed when it came time to reclass a few members of my army. Some classes are back to being gender-locked after Fates had seemed to lift them, so I couldn’t have a male Pegasus Knight or Cleric or even a female Archer at the beginning. Being a remake of an older Fire Emblem game, Rachel pointed out that perhaps the gender-locked classes were kept in from the original game. It made some sense, but with the upgrades the game has had in the meantime, I’m disappointed that this aspect couldn’t be tweaked.

Overall, I’m enjoying this new Fire Emblem game and I can’t wait to keep going!

Are you playing Fire Emblem Echoes? Keeping spoilers to yourself, what do you think of it so far?

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Friday Favorites: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Tracks

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Friday!

While I’m not the best racer out there, I’m still having fun playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Rachel did a Top Tuesday of her favorite tracks a couple of weeks ago, and today I’ll be sharing mine.

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Holy sugar, the sheer speed of this course is amazing! It gets insane the higher the CC level you pick, and it’s just tons of fun trying to ram into the other racers. The music itself just keeps you pumped up throughout the race.

mario_kart_baby_parkBaby Park

Baby Park was originally in Double Dash, one of my favorite installments of the Mario Kart franchise. The course itself my look like a simple oval, but it showcases the pure chaos that is the Mario Kart series with everyone lapping or being lapped on the course. It’s always hysterical and crazy with all the items flying everywhere, so much so that it often gets difficult to tell what place you’re in until you cross the finish line.

mqdefaultCloudtop Cruise

This course brought a real sense of adventure, soaring among clouds and sky ships, dodging lightning bolts while trying to reach the speed boosts, and carefully maneuvering around the giant vine-like road. It always reminded me of the battleships from the original Mario games as well as the Rainbow Ride level of Super Mario 64.

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Being such a huge fan of the Legend of Zelda franchise, I was so excited to hear that Link and a track of his own would be joining the Mario Kart scene. While we never bought the DLC for the original Mario Kart 8 game, he’s quickly become one of my favorite racers in the Deluxe version, as has his track. The music, the backgrounds, the use of keese and deku babas in place of bats and pirahna plants, rupees instead of coins — the course is chock-full of indulgent Zelda references.

 

mount20wario-noscaleMount Wario

This track is just pure adventure and adrenaline rush. Immediately you start at the top of a snowy mountain and traverse through ice, woodlands, and downward hills. It combines speed and technique, allowing every racer to bring their best strategies to the course.

What are your favorite or least favorite tracks in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe?

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Video Game Novels

Double Jump Kris MiiAnd it’s another week… How’s everyone doing on this fine Monday?

Rachel and I pretty much want to be done with our day jobs, haha! We would love to spend our days gaming, reading, and writing. And when you can combine all your favorite hobbies into one? It’s the best!

 

Remember when you were younger and your parents wanted you to read more books rather than spend all of your free time playing video games? Video games themselves have become such a big industry, reaching wider audiences and rightfully being treated as an art form. It makes sense that authors try to reach that same audience with novels set in video game worlds.

unofficialminecraftersadventure_gameknight999_trilogyI’ve definitely picked up some novels from Barnes and Noble simply because they’re set in game worlds. Mark Cheverton has a couple of series set in Minecraft, for example. They’re mostly aimed at a younger audience with lessons about cyberbullying, but it was a fun little trip to the world of Minecraft. 9781932796803_p0_v2_s192x300

R.A. Salvatore is an author known for his science fiction writing, with his credentials including stories taking place in the Dungeons & Dragons lore, like his Legend of Drizzt. (Not only has he authored novels, he’s also written stories for video games themselves, such as Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone for the XBox, Playstation 2, and PC.)

Ernest Cline has Ready Player One and Armada, both based on gaming worlds. Julia Durango authored The Leveller, Mark Alpert has The Six, Holly Jennings wrote Arena… There are a plethora of books out there that take place in video game settings. It’s amazing to me how far the video game industry reaches other art mediums!

Have you read any of these books? Do you have any other recommendations for books that take place in video game worlds?

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Pick Your Racer

Pick Your Racer | Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

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How’s everyone enjoying Mario Kart 8 Deluxe? Have you picked your favorite racer yet? Rachel and I have been spending tons of time on that game, having forgotten how much fun Mario Kart has been since we last dabbled with the Wii U version. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has all the DLC and unlocked characters that we had never gotten in the Wii U version, so it’s been fun testing out all the racers. We did, however, notice that since there are so many characters, we’re finding that we miss the simpler list of characters.

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In Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart 8, I had a personal vendetta against Baby Peach. I don’t know why, but every time she was in a race with me she would always be tailgating me throwing the worst items she could. In Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, there’s not much of that. The character roster is so big that we’ve noticed that most of the computer players aren’t even from the Mario universe. Or, they’re Metal Mario, Gold Peach, or Cat Peach… Still, we miss seeing the original Mario, Peach, Luigi, and Bowser running around.

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Yes, we’ve noticed that there’s more “copycat” characters, if you will, in Mario Kart 8. Characters like Legend of Zelda’s Link or Animal Crossing’s Isabelle are unique additions, but having three different Marios or all seven Koopalings is a bit excessive in our opinions. They’re interesting aesthetics-wise, but Rachel and I miss seeing the original characters racing around with our characters. Out of the plethora of Grand Prix we’ve done, we’ve seen the original Mario in one, maybe two, of those Grand Prix.

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It’s definitely cool that they’ve added characters from other games, very similar to Smash Brothers. But it’s still Mario Kart and I personally think it would have been cool if they added a Goomba. I mean, if King Boo can drive without legs I think a Goomba could make it work without arms. Kamek also would have been a cool addition as well.

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The additional characters from games other than Super Mario have made many people wonder if this will be the last Mario Kart… A better name for future installments may be Nintendo Kart or something along those lines. If we do want to stick to Super Mario characters, why not re-add Birdo to the roster? Or perhaps Diddy Kong to replace one of the half a dozen baby characters for more variety? Professor E. Gadd, known mostly from Luigi’s Mansion but mentioned in many others, would have been a unique addition.

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Oh, I would love to have Professor E. Gadd there! I’m sticking with my “villains” though. I wouldn’t mind having Thwomp or King Bomb-omb or Wiggler. These are pretty far-fetched, I know, but I think they’d be cool either way. Or Nabbit. He’s a bit weird, but he’d be someone different.

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It’s strange that some of your favorites in this racing game seems to be the villains, like King Boo. I miss seeing you being Yoshi all the time, haha! I don’t know what it means when you’ve gone to being the cute, innocent character to one that’s always seen as a villain. As for me, I’m all for having Link in the game. He’s my main when I used to be little Koopa or Rosalina. They’re all different characters, and I wish the entire roster was just as unique.

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I’ve always liked Boo in general. I always got excited at the boo mansions in the games. Luigi is another favorite of mine and I think that’s why I love Luigi’s Mansion so much. I still, of course, have a soft spot for Yoshi, and he is one of my favorites. I decided to Switch (this joke will get old, but I don’t care) it up a bit. I was Luigi for one or two races, but I was drawn to King Boo. I love his laugh and the way his “tail” wags. Which, is similar to Yoshi, if you think about it.

What other characters do you think they should add? Who’s your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

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Friday Favorites: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Items

Double Jump Kris MiiYay for another Friday!

Considering I complained about the items in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe that I find problematic, I figured today I would share the items that I love getting in that item box roulette.

Piranha Plant

I find it so amusing to have your character’s kart just have a giant pot sticking out the front of it and this man-eating plant helps tug you along while taking bites out of your opponents.

Bob-omb

Who doesn’t like explosions? I think this is a great item as long as you don’t accidentally blow up yourself. I love dropping it behind my kart to get rid of tailgaters.

Red Shells

Alright, this one is a bit of a cop-out, but how can you not love the red shells? They’re little homing devices that go directly to attack the opponent in front of you. While you can defend yourself against them, they are one of the most useful items in a race.

Mushrooms

I love the classic mushrooms! A decent little speed boost to pull in front of an opponent right before they cross the finish line, or to use during a mushroom shortcut on a course — I find them great to use in almost any situation (looking at you, Rainbow Road).

What do you think of the Mario Kart items? Which are your faves?

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For the Love of Loading

For the Love of Loading...

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Last Saturday Rachel and I both got the urge to play the Sims, despite us still needing to finish Breath of the Wild and having tons of fun with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. It was one of those lazy, rainy kind of days, so we thought why not boot up the game. Rachel was going to play Sims 4 on our desktop while I would play Sims 3 on my personal laptop. I also have Sims 4 on my laptop, but it’s the same account on both computers so we obviously can’t play it at the same time.

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It took me about two hours just to get The Sims 4 up and running. Neither one of us could remember our Origin email and password, so that took a half hour in and of itself. Then, of all the times, The Sims 4 game had to update. Fine, whatever. The timer said it would take an hour and a half. I groaned, Kris said it doesn’t usually take that long, but it did. Oh, it did…

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The Origin is usually always signed in, unless it needs to update, of course. I’m the one who usually plays the Sims 4, and I’ve been playing it more on my laptop than the desktop. So, while my laptop is up to date, I’ve forgotten about updating it on the desktop. Then didn’t it pause or lose connection or something in the middle of updating? Meanwhile, I was in the other room trying to get the Sims 3 up and running, and just from the age of the game and the number of expansion packs I have with it, it definitely took its time…

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Oh, right. Origin had to update, which didn’t take too long, but it took long enough. Then we couldn’t log in. When we did, The Sims 4 had to update. About an hour or so later, it was at 91% and then an “error occurred.” I had to resume the update and it started all the way back 40%. It took another 40 minutes. I mean, I got some reading done while I waited, but… I couldn’t get over how long the loading wait was.

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It was definitely much longer than it usually is… The Sims 3 wasn’t too bad, considering that the Sims 3 boasted that it was an open world and didn’t have loading screens after the initial world loaded, but it still took a while. It makes me wonder how patient we used to be with games that always had loading screens, and how the games nowadays have so much content on them that loading screens seem to be the norm.

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We are pretty spoiled nowadays when it comes to loading screens. Even the loading times for Breath of the Wild aren’t bad at all. You would think it would be much longer since there’s just so much going on in the game. The Sims 4 has a lot going on too, but I didn’t think an update would take that long…

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It was probably several updates in one… I should make a point to check out the desktop version if I notice that the Sims 4 on my laptop updates. Remember way back when the games used to fit on an entire cartridge instead of having updates, patches, and DLC? Breath of the Wild recently had a patch itself for the voice acting, and I know there’s expansion packs for it in the form of DLC.

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Technology is amazing these days… I’ll admit that I have a love/hate relationship with it, but if it didn’t exist then I have no idea what life would be like. I don’t mind waiting through loading screens, and I can handle it, but I’ll still complain about it.

Do you miss the pre-loading screen days? How patient are you? Let us know in the comments below!

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