Friday (Least) Favorites: Mario Party Mini Games

Double Jump Kris MiiSo Rachel and I have Mario Party Top 100 and it’s…. Eh. We’ll probably talk more about the game a little later. It’s nice for nostalgic reasons, I suppose, but there was so much more that the game could have been, you know?

To cope with how the Top 100 was not all we were hoping for it to be, here is a least of my least favorite Mario Party mini games!

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Paddle Battle

This one-versus-three mini game in the original Mario Party was such a pain if you were the solo player. Honestly, many of the one-versus-three mini games back then were usually skewed in favor of the team with three players, but you could really tell the game didn’t like the solo player as much whenever Paddle Battle was picked to play! It was also one of the those games where you had to rotate the control stick rapidly and completely — anyone else here old enough to remember getting palm blisters from those kind of games?

Three Throw

A 4-player game in Mario Party 4, Three Throw was one of those games that I was lukewarm about. The mini games based off of sports I was never that fond of, and Three Throw was at the bottom of the list. Instead of standing in one spot and trying to find a rhythm to make the perfect shots (before another character claimed the basket, of course), I think I would have preferred to battle it out on the court with the characters, punching opponents away from the baskets in order to score some points.

Button Mashers

Button Mashers is a duel mini game from Mario Party 5. Depending on how well both your opponent and you do in the game, it can get difficult. The game makes the players catch blocks from the sky, and each block has a corresponding button on it. To avoid getting crushed by the block, one must continuously mash the button. The longer the players stay standing, the more blocks fall and the more buttons the players must mash simultaneously. It’s a bit of an annoying stretch trying to mash more than two or even three buttons at once!

 

Any Microphone Games

I really didn’t understand why this mechanic existed. It was annoying to have the extra “controller” that was the microphone, and there was a collective groaning all around. I was less than thrilled to find a game or two that has to use the microphone in Top 100…

What are your least favorite Mario Party mini games? Which ones were you disappointed to see in Mario Party Top 100?

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Flashback Friday: Five Nights at Freddy’s

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy almost Halloween! My favorite aspect of this holiday is the chocolate. I wouldn’t mind dressing up either, but store-bought costumes are too much money (and usually for not enough fabric for my demographic) nowadays. I’d much rather spend my cash on video games!

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Although not as old as most of my Flashback Fridays, I figured this was a good time as any to showcase the indie game Five Night at Freddy’s, created by Scott Cawthon.

This game first came out merely three years ago via Steam in August 2014. The series is in the Guinness Book of Records: Gamer’s Edition for having the most sequels released in a year, with games following the original title in November 2014, March 2015, July 2015, and October 2016. It has gained a large fan base since it was released, with its popularity rising due to frequently viewed Let’s Play videos of the game on YouTube. Cawthon also has a multi-book deal with Scholastic based on his games, with novels set to be published this year and next.

The original game involves the night guardsman of the fictional Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza doing his best to get through his shift from midnight to 6 am without being killed by the animatronics. Seriously. The animatronics are “free-roaming” at night to prevent the springs and gears from locking up, yet there is the rumor that they are possessed by the spirits of children that had been murdered on the restaurant’s site. If they catch the guardsman, they stuff him in a spare animatronic costume. The game consists of surviving in your office while keeping an eye on the animatronics, with a few tools and doors to aid you. You have a limited power supply and, if you deplete it, the automated doors cannot close, allowing the animatronics to capture you.

I have never played these games, nor am I inclined to, haha! Horror and suspense games were never my forte, and getting jump-scared by creepy animatronics is not my idea of fun. However, the few Let’s Play videos I’ve seen have been hilarious with the players’ reactions!

Have you ever played Five Nights at Freddy’s?

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Flashback Friday: Final Fantasy VII

Double Jump Kris MiiOne of the most acclaimed RPG series, Final Fantasy has amassed fifteen main games in thirty years. This Friday we’re talking about arguably one of the most popular in that series, Final Fantasy VII.

 

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Final Fantasy VII was released in 1997, at the end of January in Japan and at the beginning of September for North America. Europe did not see the game until November, marking it as the first Final Fantasy game to be released in that continent. Developed by Square (as Square Enix was known back then), development began in 1994 for the SNES, but was later moved to the PlayStation due to technical limitations on the SNES.

A fantasy and sci-fi RPG, Final Fantasy VII starred the character Cloud and his allies as they protected their world against the superhuman Sephiroth and a megacorporation that wished to use the planet’s life essence as an energy source. Final Fantasy VII has since received widespread commercial success, with the development staff being about 100 members and a budget of over $80 million to ensure the game’s success. It has been acclaimed as one of the greatest video games of all time, being released and remade quite a few times, for Steam, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.

I remember ages ago when I borrowed this game from my uncle. (In fact, it’s still on our video game shelves… apparently I never returned it. Oops.) I never finished it, and I believe it’s due to a classmate spoiling a major plot point for me. I remember her mentioning not to bother leveling up a certain character since said character ends of dead.

I do, however, aim to play it again when I can. If I can dig my old PlayStation out and make that work, perhaps I’ll finish the game up on that old console. If not, perhaps I’ll splurge and buy it for Steam!

 

Have you ever played Final Fantasy VII, or any of the Final Fantasy games? What are your favorites?

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Flashback Friday: Pokemon Ranch

Double Jump Kris MiiTo start to close out Pokemon Month, this month’s Flashback Friday is celebrating a non-traditional Pokemon game — Pokemon Ranch!

My Pokemon Ranch

 

Pokemon Ranch was a WiiWare game developed by the Ambrella and was released for the download service in 2008. The game was compatable with the Diamond and Pearl versions of the core Pokemon game series, with Japan’s Pokemon Ranch software getting an update to allow players to connect their Platinum versions as well. Pokemon Ranch received mostly negative reviews, with many citing the missed potential of the idea, but most tended to agree that it was suitable for young Pokemon fans just starting to get into the franchise.

Pokemon Ranch had a simple premise to it, acting as a live storage box. The game’s setting was a ranch run by the NPC Hayley, who was a friend of Bebe, the developer of the Pokemon Storage System in the fourth generation games. Pokemon Ranch allowed players to import their Pokemon from their games into the ranch setting and watch them meander about, interacting with one another, and occasionally grouping up for little activities, such as Pokemon of the same type dancing around a campfire or Pokemon that knew the Sing attack chirping out a little tune.

The game itself wasn’t much of a game as it was a screensaver. It gave players extra space for their fourth generation Pokemon, but other than watching the Pokemon and the Mii characters wander around, there isn’t much for the player to do. Hayley does give the player goals in terms of expanding the ranch when a certain number of Pokemon are reached, and she checks the game’s Pokedex once in a while to urge the player to find Pokemon that have yet to be caught. Other rancher NPCs pop up occasionally and take the player over to their themed ranch to look around at their Pokemon, but that’s basically all there is to the game.

It is quite relaxing, and a bit cute, to see the little chibi versions of the Pokemon running around with one another and the Mii characters. We tended to have Pokemon Ranch playing in the background while we worked, creating a calming atmosphere. While it is definitely outdated at this point, it would be interesting to see if there was ever a fully version of the game put out someday. Perhaps a version that utilized the Pokemon Amie, Refresh, and Poke Pelago features from the sixth and seventh generations?

Have you ever played Pokemon Ranch? What did you think of it?

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Flashback Friday: Yoshi’s Story

Double Jump Kris MiiYoshi is one of the most adorable characters in the Super Mario franchise, and with good reason. Ever since Yoshi’s first appearance in Super Mario World in 1990, the character has appeared in nearly 60 games!

This month’s Flashback Friday post is dedicated to one of those games, Yoshi’s Story.

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Yoshi’s Story was released for the Nintendo 64 in December 1997 in Japan and March 1998 in North America. A side-scroller platform, the game was released on the Wii’s Virtual Console ten years later and the Wii U’s virtual console almost ten years after that. Yoshi’s Story is actually the last main platform game starring the titular character until Yoshi’s Woolly World for the Wii U in 2015.

While it’s considered almost a sequel to the SNES’s Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, Yoshi’s Story is more puzzle-orientated with a cuter style in both graphics and music. It’s levels appear as a pop-up storybook, images resembling materials that one would use to make a scrapbook, such as fabric, cardboard, and paper.

The game had two modes, Story and Trial. Trial Mode enabled players to pick a course to go through as often as they wanted, but they were not unlocked until the player beat the course in Story Mode. Getting a high score was the main objective of each level, with the level ending when the Yoshi ate 30 pieces of fruit to complete the border around the screen. Considering the story of the game involved the Yoshis journeying across their island in search of Baby Bowser, who stole the Super Happy Tree. By eating the fruit, the Yoshis can stave off gloominess while trying to save their island.

Before each level loaded, a Lucky Fruit was chosen at random, which earns more points than any of the other fruit. Players could also get bonus points for eating the favorite fruit of whichever color Yoshi they happened to pick or for eating the same piece of fruit multiple times in a row. Players can go through each level as quickly as possible by eating every fruit they come across, but they can unlock secrets of the courses by biding their time and exploring every nook and cranny of the level.

Yoshi’s story got mixed to positive reviews, averaging only about 60% to 70% by most critics. It was, however, the second most downloaded title on the Wii U’s virtual console during the week of its release. With that said, the virtual console version received similar, if not worse, reviews than its Nintendo 64 counterpart.

I remember this game from ages ago. Rachel and I never owned it ourselves, but instead borrowed it from time to time from our aunt. We didn’t do too much in the Story Mode, being young enough to find it rather confusing, and amused ourselves with picking and choosing courses in the Trial Mode. We were always fans of Yoshi and had lots of fun with the game, its art style, and especially the music.

And, don’t lie, you all got the theme song stuck in your heads as much as we did:

Have you ever played Yoshi’s Story? What did you think of it?

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Flashback Friday: Legend of Zelda Oracle Series

Double Jump Kris Mii The end of June means half of 2017 is over already… How crazy is that?

This Friday showcases a pair of Legend of Zelda games that were originally released  for the Game Boy Color with a unique connection, Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons.

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Released for the Game Boy Color handheld in 2001, the Oracle Series were a pair of games with parallel plots that gave Link the ability to control the element the game was named after, either the Ages or the Seasons. In Ages, Link travels back and forth in time, his actions in the past affecting the future in different ways, while in Seasons, Link controls the Seasons, allowing him to solve puzzles on this quest. Originally, a third installment — Oracle of Secrets — was going to be included that starred the third Hyrule goddess Farore, but she was instead included in both games to aid the player with linking the other two via passwords.

Both games were well received by fans and critics, with Oracle of Seasons scoring slightly higher than its Ages counterpart. According to the timeline of Hyrule Historia, the events of Seasons happen before Ages as well.

Each game starts off with Link meeting a performer, either Nayru or Din, before the performer is kidnapped by the villain of the game, Veran or Onox respectively. The performer is revealed to be the Oracle whose abilities the villain wishes to use for her or his own powers. Link embarks on a quest to save the Oracle, utilizing time-travel and the seasons to his advantage in order to rescue Nayru or Din.

The Oracle Series resembles Link’s Awakening in graphics and many game mechanics. Controls are similar, and even some of the sprites from Link’s Awakening are reused in the Oracle Series. Like many games in the franchise, the Oracle Series each have eight dungeons and a large over-world map to explore.

While the Oracle Series are each a full game in their own right, but the pair are marketed to be two halves of the same whole. Upon completing one of the games, the ending will reveal that there is a larger evil at play, hinting that the player should link the two games in order to play through the linear plot of the series. Linking the two completed games will give the player the extended ending and a battle with the true villain.

The Oracle Series were released on the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console in 2013, and I almost immediately downloaded them. I had never gotten a chance to finish the original games. Unfortunately, I had seemed to have gotten a glitched copy of Oracle of Ages that did not allow me to progress through the eighth dungeon. Perhaps with the Virtual Console copies, I can finally see that extended ending for myself!

 

Have you ever played the Oracle Series? What did you think of them?

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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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