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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Minecraft Story Mode: Episode One [TV Show Review]

Movie Review: Minecraft Story Mode Episode 1 | TV show review | video games | gaming | DoublexJump.com

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While we knew the Story Mode Minecraft games existed, it was fairly recent that we heard about the interactive series of episodes that were available on Netflix. We had no idea what we were going to be in for when we started this up for the hell of it.

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It was certainly something different and neither of us were expecting it to be “good.” It truly was interactive though… which it says it is, but for some reason I wasn’t expecting to use the Xbox controller to make choices for the main character. That was certainly a cool addition.

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You start with the main character entering a building contest with a couple of her friends and, for a while, the only motivation these characters have is to “be cool.” It was a bit cringy, to be honest. The actual plot revealed itself eventually, with a character who had a grudge against some heroes of the world unleashed a Wither monster. It’s up to the main character and friends to find the rest of the heroes to stop the Wither. While there were enough choices throughout the episode to keep the story interactive, there were only a few where the episode actively told you, “Your story is changing,” due to your choice.

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The plot itself isn’t that bad once it’s revealed and it shows some history on the world as well. But yeah, some of the choices were kind of pointless and if you don’t make a choice by the time the timer runs, it makes the choice for you based on whatever your controller is currently on. While I don’t think I’ll watch this again, I’m curious to see what happens if we made different choices that actually changed the course of the story. Some of the choices was also crafting as well, which was a cool touch.

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The crafting choices — like, would you craft a bow or a fishing rod for your current situation — were interesting, yes. Some of the characters weren’t too bad, although we were kind of yelling at some of them often enough. Honestly, some of the situations could have been avoided if a character just, ya know, moved from where they were standing. One of the side characters was called Axel, and he was basically the muscle of the group and was fantastic at being Captain Obvious. He was one of our favorites, haha!

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Axel was good, yeah. While there were some good lines that made us laugh throughout this hour and half long episode, I didn’t care for any of the characters or their voice acting. The tones never seemed to match what was going on in the scene and it didn’t seem like there was much emotion or effort behind it. That definitely got annoying to listen to after a while. The sound effects, however, we great. The Ghasts in the Nether were spot on. Granted, they’re probably ripped from the game but it was nice to hear anyway since the voice acting was lacking.

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Considering it was done in conjunction with the developers of the game, I imagine the sound effects were right from Minecraft. We don’t have any emotional attachment to these characters — although, I’m sure younger kids would — but we were interested enough in the plot to be curious about what happens next or, as Rachel mentioned, what would happen should we chose different responses to the crucial choices of the first episode. We’re not rushing off to watch the next episode, but if we get bored enough later down the road, maybe we’ll stick on another one.

Rachel Mii Double Jump
I would like to at least finish the rest of the season. It was interesting, to say the least. And, honestly, I think we had a pretty good time watching it together. Though, I have to take it in small doses.

Have you watched Minecraft: Story Mode? Think you’d be interested in it? Let us know in the comments below!

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Dungeons & Dragons

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday, everyone!

Dungeons & Dragons was always something that was at the back of my mind, but it wasn’t something that was popular — that I knew of — around where I lived. Most of my friends weren’t exactly into video games like Rachel and I were, so I didn’t have as much hope for D&D.

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Dungeons & Dragons has existed since 1974, which sounds wild considering how little I had heard of it growing up. Of course, the few times I had heard of it was due to how “nerdy” the game was, even compared to video games.

For years, Dungeons & Dragons wasn’t really a thought in my mind until I realized that it was fairly popular with a couple of YouTubers that Rachel and I watch. Rachel and I spend what little downtime we have trying to catch up with “Dice, Camera, Action!” while now trying to stay up-to-date with “Trapped in the Birdcage.” The players in both those groups are fantastic, as are the Dungeon Masters with their storytelling abilities and antics.

For my birthday, Rachel got me the D&D Starter Set and, while it’s brilliant, I’m not sure where to start. It’s fun to go through and imagine different scenarios with characters I’ve thought of but haven’t fully fleshed out with character sheets because I don’t fully understand the character sheets, and… yeah. The dice are a really pretty blue!

Rachel and I are hoping to, sometime soon, have enough time to each make a character or two and just have a practice session, if you will, between the two of us. We both love creating stories and D&D seems to be another fun, creative way to do so.

Then, of course, there are all sorts of D&D video games to check out…

What do you think Dungeons & Dragons? Have you ever played? Any advice for new players?

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The Pokemon Game I Never Finished

Double Jump Kris MiiWhen it comes to the Pokemon core games, they’re pretty much a given when it comes to my gaming wish list. It doesn’t matter what kind of region or how many new Pokemon there are, I will get the new generation and however many versions there are of it.

I was just as excited for Black and White as I was for the previous generations, but… Well, once I started playing it, the fifth generation was not my favorite of the games.

I started playing the Pokemon core games with the first generation, Pokemon Yellow to be exact, and I continued to get the games since then. I haven’t grown tired of the core Pokemon games just yet, and I hope not to. They’re always full of adventure and new places to explore, along with new Pokemon to discover.

With the fifth generation, Black and White, however, I was letdown. I’m not entirely sure why. I remember being amazed at the graphics, at the new areas where we’d see your character surrounded by the giant bridges and cities. However, I believe I wasn’t thrilled with all of the urban settings. I missed more of the forests and caves that came with the earlier generations, and I wasn’t thrilled with the change-up in gaining experience points against wild Pokemon. Supposedly it’s fixed in the Black 2 and White 2 versions, but those annoyed me as well, considering I was hoping there would be an improved third-tier game for the Unova region.

I believe the biggest turnoff for me was the story, though. Team Plasma is probably my least favorite antagonist team. Their motivations make no sense to me — “We’re going to liberate Pokemon while stealing yours and battling you with our own!” — and I just really wasn’t invested in the story. I’m sure the main villain has deeper motivations, but I don’t care.

The main characters weren’t bad. I would have been content with having regular rivals in the form of Cheren and Bianca. They both had great character development through the game, and I wish it was showcased more with a more competent antagonist team.

I recently restarted my White version, determined to at least go through the story properly instead of stopping halfway through. I’m not doing too badly with it, but I am rolling my eyes quite a bit whenever Team Plasma shows up on the screen.

Were there any core Pokemon games that you weren’t thrilled with? Any that you stopped in the middle of playing?

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Friday Favorites: Villain Teams

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Friday, everyone!

Despite the main Pokemon games’ stories starting off with you as a beginner trainer just trying to take on everyday challenges, the world inevitably falls into danger and only your ten-year-old self can save it. Throughout the years, though, there have been some villains who followed their dreams better than others. Below are a few of my favorite antagonists.

Team Skull

I’ll admit, I’m still not entirely sure as to what their goal was. I believe it was simply just to survive, perhaps make enough money to do so. They were one of the more amusing teams to date, and despite them trying to make nuisances of themselves around the Alola islands, their family bond to one another was endearing.

Team Aqua and Magma

Both of these teams had clear-cut goals and went for them, whether it be raising the sea levels or creating more land for the “good of the world.” They all had something to believe in and even had the strength to acknowledge later on that, “maybe this isn’t such a good idea.”

 

Team Rocket

This team was good enough to be the antagonists for not one, but two generations of Pokemon games. Even though their main goals were making money and controlling Pokemon, their methods and motives were simple and effective to work with the games’ story lines. It was a delight to my young self when playing Pokemon Yellow to go up against Jessie, James, and Meowth in a fight!

What are some of your favorite villain teams?

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Personal Triforce

Double Jump Kris MiiThe Legend of Zelda video game series has an extensive lore that focuses on the power of the goddesses, a golden Triforce that represents Courage, Wisdom, and Power.

What if the Golden Triforce represented other virtues? Which would you choose?

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The basic premise of the majority of Legend of Zelda games is Link and Zelda, the representatives of Courage and Wisdom respectively, trying to protect Hyrule from the Power-hungry Ganon. Sometimes there’s boats, sometimes there’s horses, sometimes there’s trains, sometimes there’s moons with creepy faces, but mostly it’s Courage and Wisdom thwarting Power’s attempt at taking over the known world.

It just made me curious how the games would play out if the virtues of the Triforce were different, which prompted my thought process to go down the road in wonder at what my personal Triforce would be. If I had a triangle tattooed on the back of my hand, what would it represent?

Creativity would be a nice virtue, I think. Creating new ideas, technology, art, music, stories… Worlds, cultures, lore and magic would all fall under that piece of Triforce.

Freedom would compliment Creativity, symbolizing independence, the ability to live out one’s life without oppression and discouragement, and chasing one’s dreams.

What good would chasing one’s dreams if one did not have the Ambition to turn them into reality? Ambition and drive to catch the dreams that Creativity made and that Freedom allows you to have would complete my Triforce.

What virtues would your personal Triforce represent?

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Friday Favorites: Super Mario Games

Double Jump Kris MiiThere’s tons of hype going on for the Switch and the games slated to come out for the console, such as Super Mario Odyssey. While the Zelda and Pokemon franchises are more popular in our household, the Super Mario brothers are certainly up there as well, most likely due to the fact that it was Super Mario games that I have the most vivid memories of when I first started getting into gaming as a kid.

So, for this Friday Favorites, here’s a list of my personal favorite Super Mario games!

Super Mario Bros. 3

While I have vague memories of the first couple of Super Mario Bros. games, it was the third installment that I really remember as a kid. Rachel’s and my older sister actually used to play the game, helping to introduce me to gaming as a whole. While our older sister phased out of the gaming scene, I have fond memories of playing with her, especially during the two-player battle mode (which, in hindsight, probably paved the way to me loving the Super Smash Brothers series so much!).

Yoshi’s Island

Everyone knows how adorable the Yoshis are in the Super Mario games, so it was exciting to actually play as Yoshi during Yoshi’s Island. I always loved the art style of this game, finding the sketchy, drawing-like quality to the backgrounds and characters to be adorable. Having a team of Yoshis helping each other out to reunite the two Mario brothers was such a cute story line too!

Super Mario Maker

This game was an awesome concept and it’s utterly fascinating to be able to create your own Super Mario Bros. levels for others to try! Rachel and I had fun creating “impossible” levels for each other, haha!

Paper Mario

The Paper Mario line has a special place in our house, what with both Rachel and me being fond of the series. The first Paper Mario was my favorite out of the line, as its design was charming and the story line reminded me much of my favorite Super Mario game. Considering that Paper Mario was the spiritual successor of Super Mario RPG, it’s not much of a surprise.

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars

I may not even really need to explain this one… Super Mario RPG was the game that started me on the path to being a gamer. Watching my uncle play it (usually after I pestered him) then picking it up myself to finally conquering the final boss on my own brings me so many memories and nostalgia. Sure, the story line could be a little cliche, but the characters, the music, the writing, it was all amazing. It’s still one of my favorite games to replay!

What are some of your favorite Super Mario games?

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Holiday Cheer

Double Jump Kris MiiChristmas is less than a week! Are you all ready for it?

Whether you are or not, be sure to spread goodwill and cheer to everyone! Keep the spirit alive and have a wonderful week!

With the holidays just around the corner, I thought I would spread a little cheer. Recently I read an article about a Best Buy store in New York spreading their own good karma with video games.

The store had a regular customer, a young teen who often stopped by after school to play video games on their display screens, most notably Super Smash Bros. Wii U. After seeing how often the teenager came into the store to play the demo, the Best Buy employees pooled their own money together to give the teen his own video game console, an “early Christmas present,” as one of the employees told the teen.

Not only did they gift the teen with a Wii U — a $300 value at their store — but they also got him his own copy of Super Smash Bros. Wii U, seeing as it was his favorite to play whenever he visited the store.

Considering the time of year and the less-than-ideal happenings around the world, I thought it would be nice to share this feel-good story of people doing something for others just because they can. Please feel free share your own feel-good stories!

 

Storytelling in Video Games

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Being November, it’s National Novel Writing Month! For those of you who may not be aware, Rachel and I also write novels, and we ramble a lot about them on our personal blogs. Because we enjoy writing, we both have been participating in NaNoWriMo for a few years now, and we thought we’d extend that enthusiasm to gushing about video games’ stories.

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Writing and video games are two major passions we both share. That’s partly how this blog came to be in the first place. We wanted to combine the two. We read a lot and there are some amazing stories out there, but some of the most amazing ones are in video games.

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Sure, there are a few predictable stories, such as the recycled story of the Mario Brothers saving Princess Peach (when she doesn’t save herself, of course), but then there are others like the Legend of Zelda series. An entire franchise revolving around the legend of chosen ones by the goddesses, forever doomed to be reincarnated and repeat history as two oppose one for peace and domination.

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The Legend of Zelda is the legend of stories (sorry, I had to) in the video game world. Yet, some stories are complex such as that series or as simple as Luigi’s Mansion. It’s almost the same as most Mario games, but there’s a different hero. Those slight, simple changes make for fun stories as well.

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Excellent example! One of my favorite story lines has to be Ace Attorney series. The first trilogy surrounding Phoenix Wright was especially well-written. Each episode not only has its own story, but many of the episodes have ties together, such as in Trials and Tribulations. The characters have fantastic developments throughout the stories and I get warm, fuzzy, writerly feels just thinking about it!

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I’ve been trying to think of awesome storylines and there you go, mentioning Phoenix Wright. The Ace Attorney series was the inspiration for my own series of mystery novels. The way the games tell a story is brilliant and I’ve incorporated a similar way to tell the stories in my mystery series.

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Then there are games that allow players to develop their own story lines, like the Sims franchise and even Pokemon games. While Pokemon tends to have a plot in the games, it’s pretty open-ended with how you play, and it inspired people to create their own challenges and stories, like Nuzlocke and Type challenges. These story lines grant the players to open their minds to creativity and it’s amazing.

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There are games like the Legend of Zelda that have amazing storylines and then there are games as simple as Pokemon or Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon that have no “real” plot to it. Video games can be simple or complex, but they tell unforgettable stories nonetheless.

What’s your favorite aspect of video games? Let us know in the comments! 

How To Build a Main Character

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If you could build the perfect main character for a video game — not just an avatar, mind you, but for a series — what would that main character be like? Tall and athletic? An average build? Male, female, ambiguous?

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What kind of game are we talking about here?

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Anything, really. But for the sake of the question, how about we do a standard platformer or RPG?

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Hm… Honestly, I think I would just end up having the character look like me. Maybe a bit taller, though. Unless having a 4’10” main character would be humorous for parts of the game.

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Do you think many gamers tend to want the main character of the game to be similar to themselves? Video games are a way to escape the real world, but it’s always amazing to feel like the hero of a world.

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I think always having a main character based off of yourself would get pretty boring after a while. However, I think most people would love it. Who wouldn’t want superpowers or be indestructible or go on a wonderful adventure?

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It definitely sounds like a good perk. On the flip side, though, there’s something special and iconic about always seeing a familiar hero, like Link from the Legend of Zelda series or Samus from Metroid Prime.

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Link has been reincarnated from generations. That’s part of the plot. I think that’s a bit different. If they had a different main character for a Zelda game, then… that would just be odd.

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I understand what you mean, but that can apply to my point as well. Imagine starting a Legend of Zelda game as anyone other than Link. It’d be weird and who knows how fans would react? Imagine how fans would react if you were suddenly able to create your own “Link.”

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If they had us play as anyone else other than Link, I don’t think I would be able to play the game. It would be too weird.

What about you? What would your perfect main character be like?