Best Games To Bring On Vacation

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We’re going on a relaxing vacation next week, one where we just rent a cabin to lounge beside a lake. It’s the best kind of vacation for hanging out with family, reading books and, of course, playing video games. Aside from a suitcase full of books, our 3DS systems are always packed with plenty of games whenever we go away.

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I always tend to bring more games than I plan on playing. I never really have a specific game in mind when I go away, but I tend to bring as many games as I can. I mean, I’m not really a light packer anyway.

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I try not to pack too many, especially since we don’t take the cases for the games. Rather, the games all get shoved into a little Ziploc bag before going in the suitcase. I’m paranoid that I’m going to lose a game or two! That fear doesn’t stop me from always packing certain games, however. Whenever we go away, I need to bring one or two of my favorite Harvest Moon games. There’s just something about a relaxing farm game that goes hand-in-hand with vacation.

rachmii
Meanwhile, I always tend to bring a Pokemon game. I always plan on starting a new journey and beating the game before the week ends. That usually never happens, but one vacation I beat HeartGold from start to finish. I also tend to bring Pokemon Conquest, but I beat that a long time ago. I don’t know if I’ll bring it this time.

krismii
Pokemon is another good franchise to bring. One of my old favorites that I used to bring all the time was Sonic Battle for the GameBoy Advance. It always had great replay value, because the little robot character could mimic moves from all the other Sonic characters, letting you customize its fighting style however you wanted.

Rachel Mii Double Jump
I don’t remember that game. I don’t think I’ve ever played it. But going off your Harvest Moon, Animal Crossing is a great game to bring as well. It’s calming and relaxing and the perfect thing to wake up and play right away.

krismii
Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing do seem like the perfect vacation games, don’t they? When I want something with a little more adventure and strategy, though, I tend to reach for Fire Emblem. Awakening will probably be the one to come on vacation with us! There are also a couple of games that I’ve had for months but haven’t had the time to try playing them, like Monster Hunter Generation. I’ll have to bring that and give it a try!

Rachel Mii Double Jump
There are just too many games. In addition to these games, we now have the Nintendo Switch. We’ll see how much of our time is taken up by that.

Which games do you bring with you when you go away? Let us know in the comments below!

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Mario Kart in Virtual Reality

Double Jump Kris MiiMario Kart is such a classic franchise, spanning from the Super Nintendo Entertainment all the way to the Switch port. The rosters have evolved from simply choosing between eight characters to deciding the driver, the kart, the wheels, the glider. Now there seems to be another way to play the game…

There is a virtual reality Mario Kart arcade game. My stomach is already doing barrel-rolls at the very idea of it, but despite any fears of nausea, a VR Mario Kart sounds like so much fun!

Presently, this game is only available in an arcade in Japan, but who knows if it’ll become available internationally at some point in the future. Having Nintendo dabble in virtual reality games just makes me excited to think of a Legend of Zelda or Pokemon VR game!

Also, that hammer item just looks like fun! Why don’t we have that in the latest version of Mario Kart?

What do you think of playing Mario Kart in Virtual Reality? What other franchises should go the VR route?

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Trailer Thoughts: Ever Oasis

rachmii
Ever Oasis is a game for the Nintendo 3DS that was recently released on June 23, 2017. I had seen the trailer before the release date through Twitter. Some people were talking about it and lots of them were excited about the game. The title is intriguing and the graphics are pretty and cute. Still, when I saw the trailer, it wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be and I thought to myself, “is this a game I would actually buy and enjoy playing?”

krismii
Honestly, seeing the game trailer, I fell in love with the music and the graphics. I’m not quite sure what’s going on with the plot or genre — is it an adventure game? mostly puzzles? an RPG? — but it looks and sounds wonderful!

rachmii
I agree. However, I’m not sure how I feel about being chief and adding shops and stuff. I love Animal Crossing, including Happy Home Designer, so it doesn’t seem like it would be much different. But when does the plot truly begin? Once you have your oasis established?

krismii
I’ve no idea. I was definitely more intrigued with the game trailer than the intro trailer with the narration voice over. The game trailer looks as if you’re on an adventure to save the oasis, while the intro made it sound similar to Animal Crossing: New Leaf. You have a new town, you can spruce it up how you want it, and just make sure everyone is happy. I would be more interested in this game if the mayor aspect of it were just a bonus or side quest while the majority of the game was an adventure to save the world.

Rachel Mii Double Jump
I would prefer the adventure part too. Still, maybe the chief part isn’t a huge aspect. Seeing as the official game trailer doesn’t include that part, I wonder if they took it out for some reason (if they can even do that)? I think I’d be interested in giving this game a try. I’m just a little confused at its presence.

krismii
Yes, the official game trailer didn’t mention it at all. It’s very possible they edited the game and the trailer footage to better showcase the game after all that time. I imagine being mayor of the oasis is still part of the game, but being a protector may be a bigger aspect of the game than it initially was. It’s definitely a game we’ll keep an eye out for. Check out the game trailer below and let us know what you think:

Have you tried Ever Oasis yet? What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

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Friday Favorites: Breath of the Wild Armor

Double Jump Kris MiiSince Rachel and I are still slowly but surely working through the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, today I thought I would celebrate another of my favorite aspects of the game — the different armor. We’ve had other games where Link would need to swap clothes based on the environment, but having full sets of armor as opposed to a color change was a fun extra for the game!

Snowquill Armor Set

One of my favorite areas in the game is Rito Village, with the beautiful Rito characters milling about. This set grants Link a cold resistance bonus, which is great considering I love climbing up every mountain I find, where it tends to get cold. That, and the feathers in Link’s hair looks awesome!

Gerudo Armor Set

The Desert Vai set is received during the story, and Rachel and I definitely cooed over the adorable pose Link struck when he first received the clothes. The heat resistance was obviously welcomed in the desert area. I have a theory that the majority — if not all — of the Gerudo know that it’s a voe hiding behind the veil. They just think Link is too cute to call him out on it!

Climber Armor Set

Climbing every building, hill, and mountain that you can see is such a huge part of the game and one of my favorite things to do (because, honestly, if you haven’t paraglided off of the tallest mountain in the game yet, you’re missing out on some fantastic scenery!), and the climber set is a lifesaver in terms of speed and stamina that Link uses.

Stealth Armor Set

The Sheikah were always one of my favorite races — the lore, the looks, the skills — in the Legend of Zelda games ever since Sheik first appeared in Ocarina of Time. The aesthetics of the armor are a wonderful tribute to the Sheikah, and the stealth bonus is tons of fun to use at night to sneak up on monsters.

What are your favorite armor sets in Breath of the Wild?

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Breath of the Wild Love

krismii
In between a few other games, we’ve been really focusing on finishing the story of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for the Nintendo Switch. At this point, we’ve freed all the Divine Beasts and Champions, and are kind of just wandering around and exploring while trying to find more shrines and complete more side quests. We’re still in love with the game!

rachmii
I don’t understand how most people beat the story so quickly. There’s so much to do and we want to do it all before we officially beat the game! Well… we probably won’t get to everything, but it’s nice to try.

krismii
Definitely! We’re currently just running around with the Sheikah Sensor tracking treasure chests. Not only are those things all over the place, but it’s bringing us to nooks and crannies that we hadn’t visited yet. The exploration in this open world is amazing, and one of my favorite aspects about it is the nods to other Zelda games. The Temple of Time, the remains of Hyrule Castle Town, Arbiter’s Grounds in the desert, a child telling stories of people who used to live in the sky… It’s endless.

rachmii
It really amazes me how they created this map and everything it holds.We found another shrine just last night that looked like it was decent ways away, but it ended up being much farther than we anticipated. The overall world is just beautiful (despite half of it being destroyed).

krismii
The nature of the world is just gorgeous. Speaking of the world, I adore how every NPC has a name. We’ve seen NPCs get into trouble, fight monsters on their own, plead with you not to jump if you’re standing on the edge of a bridge, and seem to have their own agendas outside of being static characters for the hero to interact with. That kind of touch really enriches the story for me.

Rachel Mii Double Jump
I agree. Each and every character has a purpose. Though I have to say, my favorite part of the game is the memories. I loved going on a scavenger hunt in such a big map to explore new areas all while piecing together the story.

krismii
The memories were a lot of fun! Piecing together the story of what happened 100 years ago while Link was sleeping, then connecting the memories to events in the present day was a fantastic way to keep us engaged in the story while gallivanting off to every corner of the map.

Rachel Mii Double Jump
I developed lots of feelings for all the main characters; Zelda and all the Champions. The story is actually quite sad, but it’s engaging and they didn’t a fantastic job.

What were some of your favorite aspects about Breath of the Wild? Let us know in the comments below!

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Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia Review

Double Jump Kris MiiHello everyone!

Being a sucker for the Fire Emblem franchise, I was very excited for the release of Shadows of Valentia, a remake of Fire Emblem Gaiden that was released only in Japan. As always, this is just my personal opinion. Feel free to share yours in the comments!

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Title: Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia
Company: Nintendo
Release Date: May 19, 2017
Console: Nintendo 3DS
How I got the game: I bought it.

Warning — there may be story spoilers!

gameplayLike the majority of Fire Emblem games, Shadows of Valentia is a turn-based tactical RPG franchise with a myriad of characters that the player raises into an army. Shadows of Valentia is based off of the Japan-only released Fire Emblem Gaiden. Considering I had never played any form of Fire Emblem Gaiden — emulated, translated, not even YouTube videos — the plot of Shadows of Valentia was completely new to me.

Despite the perma-death aspect that Fire Emblem games are famous for, I played the game in the Casual mode, allowing characters to come back after falling in battle as opposed to being out of the game entirely like they would on the Classic mode. While there is a special item called Mila’s Turnwheel in the game that lets players turn back a turn in the game should a mistake be made, the Casual mode allows me to fully enjoy and get to know the characters while also doing my best to unlock as many Support conversations between them as possible.

Unlike previous games with Support conversations, where various characters could be paired up, gain spouses or best friends, depending on how strong their supports were, Shadows of Valentia has a limited number of Support conversations. Characters have good or bad endings that are mostly dependent on whether or not their predetermined spouse or best friend lives until the end of the game.

Shadows of Valentia has plenty of the same character classes as previous games, with fairly strict class tiers. Unlike the Fates trio, Shadows of Valentia had gender-locked classes again, with Pegasus Knights and Clerics being female only, while males were the only ones who could be Mercenaries, Soldiers, and Archers. Mages and Cavalier class trees were accessible by both genders.

Tactical battles are similar to previous Fire Emblem games, with each side taking turns to move and attack. Each character class had access to specific weapons and magic, with many weapons unlocking special skills the more the character grew and used the weapon. Shadows of Valentia also had a navigable world map as well as dungeons that one could explore through a third-person behind-the-back perspective and towns that were explored like a visual novel, talking with villagers and allies, and point-and-click interaction with the backgrounds. I enjoyed this unique exploration take, even if some of the dungeons took a little too long for me to get into the next battle.

 

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As usual, I was pleased with the graphics of the game on the Nintendo 3DS. The few anime cut scenes were fun to watch, as was the opening video, and the character models were on par with the previous Fire emblem games. The battle maps and dungeons were mostly unique as well.

I definitely enjoyed the music too, the battle scores always leaving me eager to beat the map. This game also had full voice-acting, which was a pleasant surprise. I found myself really enjoying the voice acting, with each character’s tones being really well done. Exclamations, questions, pauses, everything said sounded full and natural.

story

Fire Emblem games revolve around wars and revolutions. Shadows of Valentia is no different, keeping the classic story formula that works so well for Fire Emblem games.

As a brief summary, the main plot involved warring gods, where each one ruled over one part of the continent of Valentia. The god Duma ruled Rigal to the north while the goddess Mila ruled Zofia to the south. Duma believed in strength while Mila believed in peace and pleasure, and the truce that the pair had was broken when Rigal’s Emperor Rudolf invaded Zofia to seal Mila in Falchion, a divine sword. It’s Mila’s disappearance that prompts Celica to start her journey to search for the goddess, while Rudolf’s invasion of Zofia compels Alm to leave his village to fight for the country he calls home. Eventually, Alm’s and Celica’s armies join up to take down the final boss to bring peace throughout the continent.

Shadows of Valentia has dual paths, letting the player switch back and forth between Alm’s and Celica’s routes with ease. Alm’s path consists of leading the Deliverance, a band of Zofia’s last remaining soldiers fighting to free their country from Rigal’s invasion. Even after Zofia is free and the larger plot looms before them all, Alm continues to lead his army into the heart of Rigal in order to break the land free of Duma’s influence. His path was my favorite regarding a variety of battles and scenes, along with plenty of interesting characters to recruit and speak to. However, his motivation for quite a few of his battles were saving a “damsel in distress” — literally all of the female recruitable characters except for Faye (who is even an optional recruit for Alm’s side) could be recruited after being rescued. Saving people is a fine motivation and all, but a little variety regarding who was saved or how the ladies were recruited would have been nice.

Celica’s route involves… mostly pirates, to be honest. Her path is about traveling to Mila’s temple and, upon finding Mila missing, searching for the goddess, pitting her against Duma’s most faithful follower Jedah. About half of her battles in the second act of the game took place on boats, which got monotonous for me quickly. The speed of the characters and their limited movement on boat maps were tedious unless I had the Pegasus sisters on my side. While her story and characters were more engaging to me than Alm’s was, there was in the second half of the story that bothered me about Celica’s character — she didn’t communicate as well as she could have with her closest allies. In order to move the plot forward, she needed to keep a secret, and it’s a common enough trope that just annoys the hell out of me. These people are putting their lives on the line for you, Celica, you owe it to them to tell them everything that’s going on!

All in all, the story was okay. The plot twists were simple enough to figure out long before the game revealed them, but it was still on par for a Fire Emblem game. I had fun creating strategies for the myriad of battle maps and raising my little army, which is what Fire Emblem games are all about.

replay-value

Like other Fire Emblem games, Shadows of Valentia has a decent replay value if one considers the different combinations one can use to create an army. However, in Shadows of Valentia, every recruited character is used in battle until the last dungeon where the player must pick nine additional members to go with Alm or Celica, depending on which side you are playing. Generally you pick and choose which members of your army joins you in a every battle in Fire Emblem games, giving them more replay value than Shadows of Valentia.

In addition to that, there are more varieties to character classes in previous Fire Emblem games than Shadows of Valentia had. In the beginning of Shadows of Valentia, players are able to choose a handful of classes for the few villager characters that join Alm’s side, allowing players to switch up what their beginning army will be like, but other than that, most classes are static and, depending on who you recruit, one side can get all swordsmen while the other is full of mages. Each presents their own challenges, of course, but I would look forward to replaying Shadows of Valentia more if I was given the chance to really choose my army with the classes and characters for each battle.

Of course, there’s plenty of DLC for the game as well, pricing at about $45 dollars for it all, which is more than the game is going for now on Amazon.

In my opinion, though, there are other Fire Emblem games that I will replay again before Shadows of Valentia.

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia gets…
Video game review: 3 Lives
3 out of 5 lives.

Have you played this game? What did you think? Let me know in the comments! 

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Pokemon Medley by Tina Guo

There has been plenty of news about Pokemon fairly recently, such as Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon coming out this November, Pokken Tournament for September, and Pokemon GO’s first anniversary this summer. What better way to celebrate these lovely milestones than by blasting the music?

Tina Guo is a cellist that we recently discovered while on one of our many trips to our local Barnes and Noble bookstore. While browsing, our ears perked up upon hearing familiar game music coming from the overhead speakers, such as Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros. and, of course, Pokemon. Leaping down the escalator, we made our way to the music department on the first floor to ask what was playing. The employee told us all about Tina Guo and her newest album Game On.

While another video game fan had bought the last album that Barnes and Noble had that day, we did find Tina on YouTube and Spotify, and she’s been a delight to listen to. Here’s her Pokemon Medley from her Game On album, and we hope you enjoy it like we do!

Have you been musically inspired by a video game series? What did you think of the video? Let us know in the comments!

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