Monday Memories: Storybook Weaver

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday everyone!

Going down Memory Lane again this week with another Monday Memories. This time, it’s about an old game that has helped shaped my being even through today.

Monday Memories: Storybook Weaver | Video Games | Windows | PC Games | Memories | Storybook Weaver | Doublexjump.com

If you really know me, you’d know my loves are chocolate, animals, video games, and writing. It was actually video games — Legend of Zelda, to be exact — that inspired me to start writing. I still have my original Legend of Zelda fanfiction notebooks tucked away. They exist solely to prove to myself how much I’ve improved in writing over the years.

Yet, I recently remembered another game that had prompted my love of writing even before those old fanfictions became a thing. Way back in 1994, a game called Storybook Weaver was published for Windows and Mac computers. This game allowed you to create a story with pictures. The pre-made backgrounds and characters were available for the top half of the “page,” while the bottom half of the page was space for you to type your enticing tale.

My stories tended to be about three sisters who, of course, were based off of my sisters and myself. Our old dog Casey, an English springer spaniel, also tended to have starring roles in these stories. There were a plethora of sprites available to represent us all, including seasonal sprites in case you needed to have a snowy scene in your story.

Pretty sure part of my favorite aspect of the game was just imagining the pictures, creating my dream bedroom with the sprites while imagining a story to go along with it. Thinking on it, Storybook Weaver may have also been partly responsible for me dipping my toes into drawing.

Nowadays, my love of writing and video games are tied into this blog, but my writing also shines through my stuffed physical notebooks and digital documents folders. I have a handful of first drafts of novels complete and I’m focusing on actually getting better at editing and rewriting my stories to, hopefully, publish them — either online or, perhaps, in a more traditional sense — one day.

Never would have thought a little educational game from the 90s would have helped foster creativity in my life.

What game from your childhood has directly influenced you today? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Arcade Spirits [Video Game Review]

2019_Kris_Video_Game_Review_ArcadeSpirits

Title: Arcade Spirits
Developer: Fiction Factory Games
Publisher: PQube
Platform:
Windows, MacOS, Linux
Category:
Visual novel/Dating Sim
Release Date:
February 12, 2019 
How we got the game:
Bought it on Steam

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I had never heard of Arcade Spirits before Rachel and I discovered a Let’s Play of it on the ProJared Plays YouTube channel. We haven’t finished his entire play through of it just yet due to me getting interested enough in the game to play it myself. And, honestly, I freaking love it. A visual novel set in an arcade with a fun story and fantastic characters had me sold almost immediately!

gameplayBeing a visual novel, Arcade Spirits does not have difficult gameplay. Rather, the most action you do is choosing your choice in a small list of answers at certain points in the levels. Yet, there are plenty of options and dialogue choices for you to make, even if sometimes the menus of choices aren’t that long. Indeed, there were some menus that only gave you two choices aside from a basic option.

Each choice that you made would help develop your avatar’s personality, whether it be Quirky, Steady, Kindly, Gutsy, or Basically. The choices indicate which answer goes with which personality trait, but there is an option in the short tutorial that allows you to hide the indicators so you have less of a chance to “gamify” your personality. Every multiple choice set would have a Basically answer, while the other few options would point toward one type of personality or another. When speaking with other characters, some would prefer certain types of responses over others, but there are no bad choices. You cannot get kicked toward a Game Over screen for the “wrong” choice (except for a couple of instances where you have to really try for a Game Over).

Not only are there no bad choices, but the game is clever enough to remember your choices in later levels. In Level 1, you may help a little girl at the arcade who will then remember you in Level 7 and want to help you in return. Certain choices  from the beginning of the game — such as why you decided to get a job at an arcade — pop up as motivation for other choices in the game, as well as interactions with other characters. Visual novels, especially dating sims, have branched paths with the choices you make, but Arcade Spirits is the first game in my memory to actively have earlier choices be referenced to and the reason as to why choices later on happen.

My other favorite aspect of this game? In the beginning, you can actually choose if you want flirting and romance, a slow-burn romance, or just friendship. Considering I’m asexual, this is huge to me. I like slower romance, but the fact that there is a route where I can just befriend every character so we’re all working to save the arcade is fantastic!

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The graphics of this game is just so much fun! The characters are really well-done, as are the backdrops of each scene. Most of the backgrounds have small, animated touches that both draw you into the scene while not being too distracting from the character(s) are are interacting with. I was also impressed with the customizable avatar. There aren’t any choices with clothing and only three hair styles — short, medium, or long — but skin, hair, eye, and clothing colors are whatever you’d like them to be. Your avatar is featured in several scenes no matter what crazy color combo you choose. Most importantly, you can choose the pronouns you go by, which was also something really nice to see.

Being a video game about… well, arcade and video games, the sound effects were on point. The music was subtle but went really well with the game overall, each scene having its own ambiance sounds. I really enjoyed the partial voice-acting and quips from all of the characters. A couple of my favorites were two dudes who owned the book and doughnut shop next to the arcade. The voice actors were phenomenal going back and forth with each other!

storyThe gist of the story is that your character has lost another job and feels that… it’s rather normal. The avatar’s backstory involves their family always having to settle with what they had, and the avatar seemed to be resigned to that fate. They do not have a real dream to follow, prompting their roommate to suggest a special app that helps their user stay organized and in control of their life. This app then searches for the avatar’s “dream job” which lands them at an arcade called the Funplex.

The Funplex has interesting and dynamic characters to meet and befriend, and woo if you so choose to, ranging from your fellow coworkers to some of the arcade’s regulars. As the avatar, you try to figure out your dream, the reason as to why you decided to join Funplex’s team, and in doing so, you do your best to protect the Funplex from collapsing or being sold to a bigger arcade tycoon.

And that’s just the first half of the game. I fear I’ll spoil the finale if I continue. The story itself is heavily focused around dreams and finding out who you are and what you want out of life. The writing is both impressive and thought-provoking, with humor and some serious topics thrown in to keep everything in balance.

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Considering all of the routes — romance, friendship, all the characters — and plethora of dialogue choices you can make, this game has amazing replayability. At the time of this review, I’ve done one romance option and am currently exploring the friendship route, but there are a couple of other characters I’d like to get to know and romance down the line. Right now, I’m just eager to get back to the game!

Arcade Spirits 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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Monday Memories: Ace Up My Sleeve

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday everyone!

Technically, this memory is only about three years old. This post is a bit more personal and it took me a little too long to write and decide to share it. However, I believe it’s an important topic and it is certainly something that has shaped who I am today. 

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I am passionate about representation in media, obviously including video games. Gender, race, and especially sexuality need to be represented so they are normalized as much in media as they are in the real world.

The success of movies like Wonder Woman, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel testify to the need of representation. The same goes for the later Pokemon and Harvest Moon games that allow female and darker skinned avatars. One of Stardew Valley’s biggest selling points was that your avatar could marry any love interest despite their gender.

It was due to a video game that I realized my sexuality.

Three years ago, a visual novel dating sim featuring the popular YouTubers from the groups Normal Boots and Hidden Block was released. Considering that the two groups were some of our favorite content creators — and the ones who inspired us to talk and share more of our love of gaming — we were excited about the game, and really enjoyed its the writing, art, and music.

One of the characters in the game is gay. He states it after the female avatar asks him to go to a festival with her. Literally, he says, “You do know that I’m gay, right?” complete with the music cutting out with a record scratch sound effect. The character is a fan favorite and was prominent in the fandom through art and stories.

It was through this fandom that I found out about asexuality, the absence of feeling sexual attraction.

I was in my mid-twenties and had never heard of this sexuality. Throughout high school, I’ve had friends and acquaintances who had come out as lesbian or bisexual, and we were always supportive of each other. I had believed I was completely straight, but as I got older, I realized I wasn’t looking at men the same way my friends were. They had… interesting stories from their college campuses about being with another and I couldn’t for the life of me see what the appeal was. I had fallen for a couple of men throughout my lifetime, ones that were easy on the eyes and made me laugh, but I had no interest in any more physical acts.

Then Asagao Academy came out, I met some fellow fans online, specifically Tumblr, and the representation of a positive LGBT+ character helped so many teenagers and young adults, people who had grown up without seeing much of anything other than the “default” straight way to be. Including me.

One day, someone I followed mentioned that she believed she was asexual. I was surprised at how relieved I was from the epiphany I had that the word asexuality fit me. It was closure that I never knew I needed.

I am a heteromantic asexual.

Asexuality is still a fairly new concept — rather, new in the sense that it is being talked more about — but it has gained rapid support within the past couple of decades. Despite this, asexuals still get flak both from the LGBT+ community — for wishing to be “special” or, especially in a heteromantic ace’s case, “basically straight” — and straights who are not allies. We’re only about one percent of the population, and it wasn’t until 2013 that asexuality was excluded as a mental illness in the DSM.

I spend my time advocating for representation in media and by being available and open to those who may need the support of a friend. I’ve connected with a handful of others online, ones who have reached out because they took a chance from seeing my LBGT+ positivity posts. I’ve spoken to fellow aces, transgender people trying to figure themselves out, and those who merely needed a stranger to listen as they navigated through their own labels. Most, if not all, of them are teens, and I hope that I can help just a little.

Because, while my memories of going through puberty consist of feeling like I was missing a puzzle piece, we should be moving forward with representation. There is no default hero, and all media — video games included — should showcase that. Strides are being taken, but it will still be a while before we’re all on equal footing. No one should have to grow up without being represented as the hero.

(Besides, think of all the years I spent unable to make asexual puns. All of those times I could have told people that I have an ace up my sleeve… because it’s me. I am the ace.)

Are there any video games that caused you have a revelation about yourself? Anything in particular that you would like to collect? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.

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What We’d Love To See In The Sims 4

what we'd love to see in the sims 4 | PC Games | video games | gaming | blogging | DoublexJump.com

rachmii
On January 8, 2019, EA made a special announcement for The Sims 4. They hyped it up fairly well with people getting excited and expecting something like a new expansion or game pack. However, when we watched the 38-minute live stream after the fact, the announcement was less than anti-climactic.

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We love the Sims franchise, ever since an old co-worker of mine lent me her Sims 2 game and expansion packs (she brought them to work for me in a garbage bag because she had so many!). Sims 4 sucks out hours of our days whenever we find ourselves addicted to it, so it was interesting to hear that there would be a major announcement. What was odd to me is that the Sims 4 just had a recent expansion pack with Get Famous back in November, so I wasn’t quite sure what the big news could be.

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Honestly, despite that, I was wondering if there were going to announce The Sims 5 coming or something. Instead, the added an Amazon Echo to The Sims games. Your Sims can have it play music or play trivia. In addition, our Amazon Echos in real life can learn a new skill for The Sims. Alexa will “play The Sims” and you can play trivia about The Sims or play music from any and all of The Sims game from one to four.

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Essentially, EA and Maxis struck a deal with Amazon in order to have the Echo family appear in their games. The announcement for this big news was only about 40 minutes long, with the hosts seemingly trying to stretch it out by playing around with the new Alexa skill both in and out of the Sims 4 game. It’s interesting news, but nothing that we found too exciting.

Rachel Mii Double Jump
Maybe someday we’ll give our Alexa the skill, but it wasn’t interesting to us at all. Which, made us think about some things we would love to see in The Sims games. Honestly, I would love more career choices. You can hire a maid, gardener, and a nanny. I’d love to try out those as actual careers. Plus, a vet. I was streaming The Sims the other day and apparently being a vet isn’t an actual career choice, it’s a retail job. That would have been great to come along with the pets pack.

krismii
Ah, yeah, they stuck vet as one of the “owning your own business” careers, so it lets you buy a vet clinic to run how you want. You would rather it be a rabbit hole or active career, like scientist? Something I miss about Sims 3 that I wish they kept for Sims 4 was to give them more traits for more of a personality. Unless you spend time going through all the aspirations that allow the sims to earn another trait (or you cheat like I do), the sims only start with 3 traits from an underwhelming supply from the create-a-sim.

Rachel Mii Double Jump
Yeah, I’d love it to be a true career and go to work with them and such. I agree, having more traits would be nice. At least give me four traits to start off with – there are four categories, I’d love to give my Sims at least one trait from each. I also wish they would bring the Sims’ temperature back. I remember in The Sims 2, I believe, for the Seasons pack, my Sims would show me if they were too hot or cold. It’s easy to tell in The Sims 4 when they’re too hot or cold and the thermostat is a cool item, but I do miss the gauge.

krismii
There’s quite a few things that we’d like more in Sims 4, some throwback some from previous installments of the franchise and just other ideas for the future of the series. Having an Alexa Echo in the Sims is interesting and all, but definitely not something that deserved all that hype. We were just like, “…Eh.” I find that happening more often than not with the Sims franchise, I feel like. The announcements aren’t as exciting, yet we still get suckered in whenever we happen to turn the games on.

Did you hear about the latest Sims 4 announcements? What are your thoughts and what’d you like to see in the game? Let us 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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Throwback Thursday: Bubble Struggle

Rachel Mii | DoubleJump.comHappy Thursday!

It’s the final Thursday of 2018! I can’t believe that! What better way to celebrate the final Thursday of the year other than with a throwback to a game I used to played years ago.

TBT: Bubble Struggle | PC Games | Old Games | Throwback Thursday | Video Games | Gaming | DoublexJump.com

Bubble Struggle, which used to be called Bubble Trouble when I played it, is a PC game where you played as a devil-like character. His job was to destroy bubbles by shooting them in the air as they bounced around. The bubbles came in various sizes. Once you hit a big one, it’d split in two. Then you’d hit those and they’d split in two as well. Keep hitting them all until all the bubbles are gone. Then you move onto the next level.

It was a simple game. If I remember correctly, you just moved left and right with the arrow keys and hit the space bar to shoot. There wasn’t much to the levels either. The backgrounds were solid colors or gradients but it looked pretty enough. Some levels started with one bubble while others began with multiples. Again, they were various sizes so sometimes it would take a while to get rid of one bubble and it was very easy for the levels to get chaotic.

I remember there were power-ups for your gun that came out of the bubbles sometimes. This could be a laser which was much faster or it could be spikes that would stick to the ceiling and wouldn’t go away unless a bubble hit it – but that also meant you couldn’t shoot again unless something got rid of the bubble.

I can’t remember how many lives you had. I believe if you got hit three times by the bubbles then you lost. I also can’t remember if, when you lost, you had to start back at level one or if you just restarted the level you were currently on.

Wow. I’m honestly shocked I remember so much of the game. I wasn’t sure how I was going to write a blog post on this but once I started talking about it everything started coming back to me. I definitely want to track down this game and play again. Maybe, if I’m able to download it, I’ll stream it sometime. Though I’m not sure how entertaining that would be.

Bubble Struggle was the game that everyone in my entire school would play whenever we had computer time in elementary school. I mean, kids would fight over the three desktop computers that were in each classroom just so they could play Bubble Struggle. If you didn’t get to a computer fast enough, you’d have a crowd of kids behind you watching and rooting for you… or heckling you. I had a weird class.

I had completely forgotten about this game until Kris and I played The Bug Butcher. She mentioned how the game sort of reminded her of “that alien bubble game” I used to play. Naturally, I had no clue what she was talking about and Google somehow knew exactly what she meant when she said, “alien bubble game.” This is definitely one I need to try playing again. I just hope I don’t get addicted to it.

Have you ever heard of this game or played it? Let me know in the comments below!

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Kris’s Favorites Games Played in 2018

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday everyone!

It’s the end of the year, and what a great year it has been for video game nerds like us! Today I’m sharing my list of games that I enjoyed playing the most this year. While some of them came out in 2018, others were old favorites that I’ve played for the first time, either ever or just in a long while.

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10. Harvest Moon: Light of Hope

This is not the greatest Harvest Moon game in existence, but it went back to simpler mechanics and a quick, but cliche, story from old-school Harvest Moon games. It was a calming game with cute graphics that relaxed me after long days at my day job.

9. Sonic Forces

This wasn’t the greatest game by far, but… I did have fun with it. It was quirky for a Sonic game, I was amused at the avatar inclusion, and I enjoyed most of the levels, as well as the music.

8. Overcooked Duo

We’ve played the two Overcooked games for the first time this year and we had a blast playing them with our cousins and friends! The puzzles, teamwork, and all of our characters running around like headless chickens against the time was awesome!

7. Batman: The Telltale Series

I love Batman. He was one of my first introductions into the world of superheros and comics, and he’s been one of my favorites ever since. The Telltale Series episodes bring a great experience as an action, visual novel game staring the Dark Knight.

6. Octopath Traveler

This game is so pretty! Having a brand new RPG is always a treat to me, and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve played of Octopath Traveler so far. The graphics, the music, the characters, the battle mechanics, I like it all.

5. The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures

Along with starting Twitch streams this year, Rachel and I were able to get the necessary accessories in order to hook up and play our GameCube games again, including this Legend of Zelda title. One of the true co-op Zelda experiences, Rachel and I have had a great time reliving this adventure again.

4. Deltarune

While I also played Undertale this year for the first time and was introduced to most of the characters that were featured in Deltarune, I enjoyed Deltarune’s game mechanics much more. Of course, they’re a polished version of Undertale’s mechanics, and I enjoyed seeing how Toby Fox grew as a creator.

3. Game Dev Tycoon

One of my all-time favorite games, this business simulator was completely addicting to me when I first started playing it. I’ve gone back to it quite a few times throughout the year as well, picking it over even newer games at times.

2. Super Smash Brothers Ultimate

One of the most anticipated games of the year, Smash Ultimate did not disappoint. Rachel and I have been having a fantastic time unlocking the characters, exploring the different modes, and hearing how much fun everyone else is having with the game.

1. Let’s Go Pikachu/Let’s Go Eevee

This game is just freaking adorable and I absolutely love it. Pokemon Yellow was one of my first forays into the gaming world and, while Let’s Go is like “easy mode” when it comes to Pokemon RPGs, the sheer amount of nostalgia this game gives me makes it one of my favorites.

What were your favorite games that you played this year?

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