Flashback Friday: Super Mario All-Stars

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Friday, everyone!

Can you believe we’re already near the end of January? The first month of 2019 has flown right by us! Any old or leftover games from 2018 that you’re still trying to finish up?

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Super Mario All-Stars was released on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1993 and is a compiled collection of the Super Mario games that were available on the Nintendo Entertainment System. It includes Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario Bros. 3, and Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, which actually wasn’t released outside of Japan aside from this compilation. While I was a bit too young to remember much of the NES, I have clear memories of All-Stars, enough so when we spotted the 2010 Wii port of the game at a GameStop, we nabbed it.

I mostly remember our older sister playing through some of the levels on the original Super Mario Bros. games and trying my hand at it occasionally when I was able to hold the controller. I wasn’t that great at the games then and, even with the Wii port, I’m still not great with them now. The Mario Bros. games have never been my favorites to play, but I can definitely recognize them as the classics that they are. Growing up as a Nintendo girl, I respect the influence the games have had on the gaming community and culture as a whole.

My fondest memories of these games, aside from their influence, is actually playing with my sisters. Being player two to my older sister and then player one to Rachel was always a good time, even if the games themselves were never beaten.

Have you played Super Mario All-Stars, or the individual games in the compilation? What did you think of them?

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Monday Memories: Video Game Nights

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday everyone!

It’s a holiday where we are, and we’re hunkered down at home due to snow blanketing the ground outside. It was the perfect weekend to just relax at home with some hot chocolate and good video games.

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When I first started gaming, I mainly played single-player games. Granted, I think back in the early 90s, when many consoles only came with two controllers, many of the games I picked up were only single-player. Aside from that reason, it was also because I was the main gamer in my family. I grew up watching my uncle play, but we didn’t play as much together when I started playing myself (mainly because, ya know, we lived in different houses and he was an adult with things like a job and taxes and probably some sort of social life that I never saw). There was some games I was able to rope my father into playing once in a while, and I remember watching my older sister play Super Mario Bros. occasionally but, until Rachel came along and was old enough to comprehend video games, I was on my own.

Thank God for Rachel, because if she didn’t get interested in video games, I don’t know if I would have continued playing. I adored the stories and the characters that I saved the world with when playing games, but it kind of sucked coming back to the real world and having no one to talk to about how you slayed the final boss with an epic sword attack to the head.

The majority of my friends weren’t into video games, or at least not as much as I was. The only console one friend owned was a Nintendo 64 and she only had Majora’s Mask and Goldeneye, and I’m pretty sure she only had the latter because of her love of the James Bond franchise. The former helped her understand some of my gushing of the Legend of Zelda series. Another friend shared my love of Pokemon for a while in elementary and middle school. A third friend was into video games almost as much as me, but it wasn’t something we spoke about too often. Video games wasn’t much of a topic among my friends, and I kept it as my own little hobby.

Until the Nintendo GameCube came out.

It was 2001 and I was eleven. Rachel and I probably got the GameCube for Christmas that year, and one of its first homes was in the kitchen porch, hooked up to the house’s smallest television. The GameCube library was one of my favorites from Nintendo, with one definite notable favorite: Super Smash Bros. Melee. It was because of this game that “video game nights” became a staple in my friend group throughout middle school and high school.

Everyone would show up at our house and take over the basement where the GameCube would temporarily be located and hooked up to the big screen television (thanks, Dad, for giving up your “room!”), and we’d all proceed to kick each other’s asses in Super Smash Bros. Melee and, when it came out, Mario Kart Double Dash. Pizza and chocolate were our diets for the night, and Mom loved the fact that we were all staying put at home instead of getting into trouble elsewhere. Even later, when the Wii came out, that console’s Smash Bros. and Mario Kart had a lot of hours put into them, even as we were all growing a little older.

I haven’t played video games with any of them since we left high school.

But remember that friend who only had the N64 with Goldeneye and Majora’s Mask? A couple of Christmases ago, she bought her husband a refurbished Wii with the sole purpose of getting Super Smash Bros. because of those video game nights at my house so many years ago, because of those memories.

I definitely miss those times, but video game technology has grown so much since I first became a gamer. While I may not be playing locally with old school friends any longer, thanks to the wonders of the Internet and game consoles these days, I am able to play with new friends in entirely different countries and that’s pretty damn awesome. Video games have become so much more than a hobby — it’s been the common thread between many wonderful friendships, both old and new, throughout the years.

Did you play a lot of video games with old friends? Did the games bring you closer? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around

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WTF Friday: Video Game Movies

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Friday everyone!

One of the types of reviews Rachel and I like to do are movies or television shows, most that have to do with video game-related themes. Lately, I’ve been hearing about a few more that are or will be in production…

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There have been a handful of movies throughout the years that are based on video games. Super Mario Bros., Street Fighter, Prince of Persia, Assassin’s Creed… There’s quite a bit of them, some in live-action, others in animation, direct to television, and, of course, anime.

Video games make quite a profit in today’s culture, so it’s no wonder that studios continue to create movies based off of them. If there are enough players for the games, then it’s logical that there will be an audience for a movie.

Recently, however, I heard of a Minecraft movie that is rumored to be in the works. With the rights secured in 2014 by Warner Bros., the movie has recently hired its third director to take the reins. Originally, the movie was rumored to come out this May, but with a director just getting on board, who knows when this movie will be released. And, while I’m sure people still play Minecraft, is the audience still there for this movie? There are spin-offs, Choose-Your-Own-Adventure games and Netflix episodes, but will there be a full-length movie audience?

Also, Just Dance is somehow going to be made into a movie. I have no idea how this is going to be a thing. All I can picture is flash mobs and, possibly, something like “Save the Last Dance.” As if Just Dance isn’t enough, it will be against the Dance Dance Revolution movie.

Detective Pikachu and Sonic the Hedgehog (which also made me go “Wtf?” when I saw that strange posters) are coming out this year. There’s also an untitled Monster Hunter movie that may be in the works. Of course, there’s also movies out there with plenty video game elements, such as Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph and Ready Player One, based on the novel of the same name by Ernest Cline.

I’m curious to see how well the upcoming movies will do in theaters. Just Dance? Minecraft? Perhaps if we were getting a Legend of Zelda movie, something with settings that resembled The Lord of the Rings, I’d be pre-ordering tickets.

…Then again, I’d be worried the franchise would be ruined.

What do you think of movies based off of video games? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around

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Gris [Video Game Review]

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Title: Gris
Developer: Nomada Studio
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platform:
Nintendo Switch, PC
Category:
Platform-adventure
Release Date:
December 13, 2018
How we got the game:
Downloaded on Nintendo Switch

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Gris was a game that was on my radar since I first some some screenshots of the game way back in August. With the help of some Nintendo eShop gift cards that I had gotten for Christmas, I finally bought and downloaded Gris, and it did not disappoint. Be warned, there will be some spoilers of this game in the review!

gameplay

The gameplay is fairly simple in Gris. It’s a light platform-adventure game where the character is exploring a world while trying to return color to it. As the character, you explore the world around you, collecting beads of light that in turn will help you reach farther places. The controls are as smooth as the art as you direct your character to run and jump while searching the world.

Throughout the levels, your character will also gain a few power-ups, new abilities that will be used to explore more, and most of which will manifest with the help of the character’s dress. The first is a solid, block-like phase, where your character’s dress solidifies into a block that is used to smash through crumbling structures or to help you stand your ground against unrelenting winds. The second ability grants you a double jump, the character’s dress unfolding likes wings to give an extra boost to reach far ledges. The third ability has the dress envelop the girl to give her a silhouette resembling a stingray, with wing-like fins to glide through underwater caverns.

The fourth ability is found at the pinnacle of the game. The character regains the power to sing, her echoing voice bringing back plants and animals to go with the color that is now blooming in the world.

graphics-music

The art style of this game is what captured my attention in the first place. I found the screenshots to be amazing, but I was not expecting how breathtaking the graphics would be when we first turned on the game. The art resembled watercolors with how smoothly it flowed. When you completed a level and successfully brought a color back to the world, it was amazing seeing the color bloom and transform around you.

The music was spot-on and just as gorgeous as the art style, and isn’t a stranger to being played on our Spotify accounts now. Considering the game has no dialogue or narration, the art and music are what’s telling the narrative, and it is wonderful. The mood brought on by the music was always right no matter where you are in the game.

storyThe underlying theme of Gris is grief.

The game starts out with your character — a young woman named Gris — who awakens in the hand of a crumbling statue depicting another woman. Gris attempts to sing out, but her voice is gone, and the statue splinters into pieces. Gris then traverses the land, finding beads of light — of hope — to restore color back into the world and to help bring back the statue.

Each level, if you will, represents a stage of grief. The black and white, dusty gray world at the beginning could be shock or denial at what has happened. Red is the first color you restore to the world, laying the ground for plains and desert where Gris fights against angry winds as you push onward. When green is found, Gris explores a lush forest where she finds and helps a creature as she traverses the land, as if striking up a bargain in order to keep moving. Blue leads Gris to water-filled caverns and rain soaking the world, making the character feel a bit waterlogged and, possibly, depressed. Yellow is the last color that is found near the climax of the game and brings about the level that even the game calls Acceptance.

Throughout the silent story, Gris will see and encounter bits and pieces of the statue of the other woman, finding her gray, crumbling, and in various stages of weeping, laying down and, finally, standing up again. The major enemy of the game is within Gris herself, as a giant, shadow bird and eel appear and attempt to prevent her from moving forward, threatening to consume her. The grief tries to swallow Gris once more near the end but both she and the statue find their voices. Together, they sing in harmony for the last time as they banish the grief away. Once the grief dissolves, Gris bids the statue one final farewell as she walks up the stairs of light to the sky.

When we first turned on the game, we had heard the story was one of grief. As we played, we guessed that the statue of the woman was the one whom Gris was grieving for, as if the woman was the one who had died. However, at the end when Gris took those steps up towards what may have been Heaven, we believe that it was Gris who had died. Gris was trying to find her voice to help soothe the statue woman who was grieving for her, making the ending that much more bittersweet.

replay-value

Gris itself is only about three and a half hours long, and I have heard there are a couple of completionist elements to it after the main game is through. It’s a short enough game that can be played in just a couple of sittings, and the story, music, and graphics are gorgeous enough to warrant you in picking up the game again.

Gris gets…
5-lives
5 out of 5 lives.

Have you played this game? What did you think? Let us know in the comments! If you like this post, please share it around!

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Friday Favorites: Unopened Games

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Friday everyone!

So, last week I wrote up a post of games from 2018 that I want to finish this year, and I’m going a step further with this week’s post. When we were cataloging our games, we’ve realized that a couple of games are still wrapped up. It’d be nice if, at some point this year, we opened them to give them a try!

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Nintendo Labo

We still have the original variety kit box hanging out in our den, still unopened. It’s become great friends with the floor plant. It was definitely a novelty when it first came out in the middle of April last year, and maybe Rachel and I will actually open it this year and try to put some of the cardboard things together.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

I haven’t heard anything bad about this game at all, but it has yet to be opened, waiting patiently until we give it a try. Not only that, but we don’t even have it for the Nintendo Switch… We have the Wii U version still unopened.

Rodea The Sky Soldier

Like Tropical Freeze, this is a Wii U game that we had gotten on a little spending spree before getting our Nintendo Switch. We had never heard of it before, but the cover art looked pretty and it seems like you can fly with the main character, so I was sold. Aaannnnd then the game sat on the shelves right next to Tropical Freeze, still looking pretty in the shrinkwrap.

Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix

Out of this list, this particular game is the most likely to be unwrapped and played this year. I was always interested in the Kingdom Hearts franchise, but we’ve never had the consoles for the games. We’ve had a Playstation 3 from our brother-in-law for years, a hand-me-down most likely after he got the Playstation 4, and we have very little games for it. I got the Kingdom Hearts game not only as an excuse to turn the PS3 on at some point, but also due to Kingdom Hearts 3 coming out this month. Considering the series’s story is so convoluted, figured I may as well start at the beginning!

Any games still sitting unopened on your shelf? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around

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Play for the Story, Not the Game

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday everyone!

The narrative and storytelling techniques in video games are generally a big factor in whether or not I enjoy said video games. In fact, there are definitely some games where I enjoy the story more than the gameplay itself. 

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I am a writer. Not just of blog posts, but also of stories, short ones and novels alike. As such, I’m always interested in the narratives of video games I play. I love to devour a game’s story just as much as I love to devour a good book.

With that said, there are a good handle of games that I would be perfectly happy with reading like a novel. I play these games for the story and the characters rather than the gameplay itself. Sure, the gameplay mechanics may be amazing, but if the story has snagged my attention, the gameplay is always going to be second fiddle. Fantastic gameplay mechanics will not redeem a game with a dull story line in my eyes.

Take Undertale and Deltarune, for example. There is so much lore and theories behind the developed stories of these games. Especially in Undertale’s case, there are multiple ways you can take the story through your actions, whether or not you decide to do a peaceful or violent run-through of the game. And if you played it through a second time? There are characters that remember your first playthrough. There are characters that remember if you killed them before. I didn’t care much for the game’s battle mechanics, but I continued to play it to see how the story ended.

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia is another example. War and faith are the general themes of the story, like many Fire Emblem games, but I was intrigued by the characters and definitely impressed with the voice acting. It was enough to keep me playing until the end, even though I found some of the battles repetitive and the dungeon sequences unappealing.

The most recent game we played through was Gris and we went into it knowing that it was a game with minimal enemies (if any at all). I picked it up first for it’s gorgeous art and stayed for the music and haunting narrative of trying to figure out the main character was searching for. My sister and I both teared up at the end once we realized how heavy and bittersweet the story was.

Thinking on all of this, it’s no wonder that I’ve gotten a newfound appreciation for visual novels and simulation games.

How important is story to you in games? Or do you prefer amazing gameplay to the story? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Friday Favorites: 2018 Games to Finish

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Friday everyone!

Did everyone have a good new year’s? It’s hard to believe that we’re in 2019 now! This is a time that most people try to finish up tasks that they’ve accidentally left behind so they can start the new year with a clean slate. Going through our 2018 Game Reviews page, I’ve realized that there are a few games that I started last year that I would love to finish up.

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Undertale

I know the story of Undertale, I know the gameplay and probably many of its secrets. I’ve watched quite a few playthroughs of the game through YouTube and Twitch, after all, playthroughs that prompted me to try it myself. Yet, while I’ve played and completed Deltarune, the “sequel” of Undertale, I haven’t finished a playthrough of Undertale just yet.

Batman: The Telltale Series

I’ve finished the first two episodes, I believe, of this game, and it definitely held my interest to want to play the rest. Considering the game has a sequel, I would love to finish the next couple of episodes before exploring the next one.

Octopath Traveler

This is a major game that I want to finish. Honestly, with the other newer Switch games out, I cannot remember where we’re at in this game. From what we’ve played, it’s one of my favorite games from 2018, with its gorgeous graphics, music, and battle system, but we’ve yet to finish it.

Stardew Valley

Although this isn’t a game to actually “finish” considering how open-ended it is, I definitely would like to return to the world of Stardew Valley. I’ve accidentally abandoned my farm on our Steam account, but I’m also hoping to rope Rachel into doing a co-op farm with me at some point in the future.

What are some 2018 games that you’re looking to finish?

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