What I’ll Be Doing This Friday

Something very odd has occurred.  Last night as we were putting the kids to bed, I heard the husband tell the youngest, “We have to plan something for Friday because mom will have the TV.”  I actually walked into the room and asked him what in the world he meant.  My confusion was absolute.  He replied, more our child than me, “Mommy’s game comes out that day, doesn’t it.”  I was floored.  I mean it.  I mean, yes, the new version of Legend of Zelda: Twighlight Princess is released this Friday (technically at midnight, but I have kids and won’t be going to pick up the game just so I can play all night and be in no state to get the kids to school Friday morning,) but to have the TV set aside for me to play a game when the kids are home stunned me.  

Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally taking him up in the offer.  Even if I have played the game before, I will still want to play the HD version all day when I first get my mitts on it.  It looks gorgeous in screen shots, and I even have confirmation from someone who got an early copy that it is gorgeous in gameplay.  Twilight Princess is arguably the best Zelda game, and indeed likely my favorite.  And it’s always bothered me that I had to play a flipped version of the game.  For those who don’t know, something funky happened when they ported the game from the GameCube to the Wii and they ended up having to flip the game just to get it to work.  I’ve never played the game as it was originally intended.  The art and puzzles were all reversed.  The WiiU version is the right way around (again confirmed by person with early copy.)  And it going to be fun and frustrating and clever and all the wonderful things a legend of Zelda game is.  

 

Can you tell which side is the HD version? If it’s not obvious by his eyes, I’ll remind you that Link is left handed.
 
But to have the TV set aside for me, for mom, well you know the saying about a mom being the person who after finding out that there’s three slices of pie for her four person family promptly declares that she never liked pie anyways?  Yeah, it’s pretty much how this goes.  I’m hard pressed to think of a time when I didn’t readily give up the TV or the gaming systems when the kids asked to play.  And I’m not some kind of martyr, it’s just what we moms do.  I’m perfectly content watching my kids play.  The one they ask for help with video games 99.9% of the time is me.  Gaming is interactive for us.  Sometimes the kids ask me to hop in the game and join them.  Sometimes they find something odd or funny to do and have to show me.  I enjoy them being silly and clever with the games.  I don’t feel deprived if I’m not the one with a controller.  So while I knew that the game I preordered for myself comes out on Friday, I really hadn’t made any plans to do more than play the game while they were at school and watch them play it over the weekend if they so chose.  And listen, even with the no lapping rule in play, they have never gotten close to passing me in a Zelda game.  Mom still rules as the gamer when it come to that.  I wasn’t worried about the game being spoiled if I didn’t play again until Monday. 

And there it is: I wasn’t thinking I would get to play the game to my heart’s content until those words were spoken last night.  Now I’m more than a little giddy.  So yes, sweetheart, I’m taking you up on those words.  You go and feed the kids and mook about with them and, as you said, you have Netflix on your tablet.  Make sure the eldest, who is too clever for his own good and can’t help opening up his mouth and telling you how to solve a puzzle, but gets lost in dungeons, is kept busy.  And make sure the youngest, who knows how to wield every sword and weapon with precision, but would rather play on my account because I will have done the work required to unlock weapons and extra sword moves, knows he will get to play on his own account later.  I will have the TV. 

The Game is a Smartass #1

I like it when games are snarky.  It adds to the clever quotient of the developers.  Now Lego games always get high marks for being clever.  They take a piece of Geeky popular culture and immerse it into the Lego world.  The characters act and do things that Legos can and they never take themselves or their original work too seriously.  In fact they are often innocently irreverent.  It’s one of the reasons that Lego games based on movies work.  They never completely mimic the original work, and therefor do not present the gamer with a bland and banal piece of tripe that no one should be forced to play, no less spend money on.  

Today was my sixth day with sick kids, and my fourth day taking care of them alone (husband had a business trip.)  It wasn’t the worst it’s ever been, even though it was the flu.  Yesterday the eldest started back to school, so it was just me and little guy at home today.  Even so, I was pretty tired from taking care of everyone.  So after I got thing one on the bus, I sat myself down to play Lego Marvel Superheroes while thing two slept in.  It wasn’t too much later that thing two padded downstairs in his footie pajamas.  We ate breakfast and I drank coffee and poked around Manhattan looking for gold bricks and characters.  Thing two, finally awake enough, asked if he could join me.  Of course!  I mean one of the hallmarks of a Lego game is the insane amount of characters to unlock and use as you replay missions in free play mode.  You can’t collect everything unless you do.  So pretty much it’s yes, yes, yes please join in and help!

We found Deadpool’s room and bought the studs x 2 brick.  We found enough gold bricks for three new side missions.  We got Agent Colson, War Machine, Havok, Power Man, and others.  We were doing awesome (except I kept mixing up the PS3 buttons with the WiiU configuration.)  Thing two wanted to buy Howard the Duck, which we managed to unlock in a side mission.  I think it’s nearly impossible not to mentally face palm when it comes to Howard the Duck.  But little dude was home sick and playing video games with mom and it wasn’t too hard to make the studs needed to buy characters so what the heck.  Go ahead and buy him. 

A trophy notification popped up in the upper right of the TV.  You have received a new trophy: “Really?”  Well played, Lego.  Well played. 

P.S.  Here’s the links we were using today to find characters with the powers we needed. 

http://lego.wikia.com/wiki/LEGO_Marvel_Super_Heroes

http://www.gamefaqs.com/ps3/696965-lego-marvel-super-heroes/cheats

The Xbox Dilemma

When boyo number one came along, we had the trifecta of gaming systems: a PlayStation 2, a GameCube, and an Xbox.  Each system had its go-to games.  I had the PlayStation for Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank, Sly Cooper, Kingdom Hearts, and Final Fantasy X, the GameCube for Legend of Zelda and SSX Tricky, and the Xbox got lots of use with Psychonauts, Oddworld, Jet Set Radio Future and DOA.  We never had a lot of rated M games, just a few really, but as the eldest grew older, less M rated games were brought into the house.  And really who had time to play God of War if you could only play it when the toddler (who didn’t often nap) was sleeping?  

Little by little, our gaming turned from systems to online games.  They were quiet, because of head phones, and social, which is good when you spend your day playing trucks and singing the bumblebee song with your little one.  But gradually the eldest grew older and I missed my games.  We had kept many of our favorite games and with that stash in mind and a kid on our hip, we bought a Wii. 

If I could only have one system, I would get the one that plays Legend of Zelda.  And since the Wii was backwards compatible, I could play my Windwaker special disk that had all the LoZ games.  Plus the selection of kid friendly games was appealing.  All the Super Mario Bros, Rayman, Yoshi, Kirby, Sonic, etc.  Not only could I play the games with little man around, but he could play them too.  And when boyo number two showed up, he could pretend to play while someone else was gaming.  Just had to hand him a Wiimote.  Which is an infinitely better controller to have if you have kids around.  The eldest ate the knobs off our wavebird.  This is still hilarious.  The Wii was so compatible with the kids and me that when the WiiU came out it was a no-brained to upgrade to it.

As the boyos matured in life and gaming, we added a PlayStation 3.  The year the PlayStation 4 came out. PlayStation is not currently being cool on the backwards compatibility front and dammit I had games I wanted my kids to experience.  The PS3 had them.  All the Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank, Sly Cooper, and Kingdom Hearts I could throw at them.  And *bonus* they had Psychonauts for download! 

Since we’ve had the kids, we haven’t had an Xbox.  Why.  Well, it’s not a very good kid system, is it?  We have looked at their lineup.  I played many fun games on the Xbox when it was new.  But somehow it has morphed into not only the hangout of the most obnoxious boys club group outside of WoW, but also the system that has 90% rated M for Mature games with the last 10% relagated to sports.  There are perhaps three Xbox exclusives I would want to play and maybe one is kid appropriate.  There’s just no point having one in my house. 

Two Christmases ago, a friend of mine’s Aunt bought an Xbox for her grand kids.  She then called my friend asking what games to buy.  My friend has moxie.  She told her Aunt to take the X-box back to the store and buy them a damn WiiU.  I laughed really hard at that and told her she is awesome.  Her Aunt did just that. 

This past Christmas, my youngest bought me Destiny so I could play online with her.  And here is the crux of the problem.  She plays on an Xbox 360.  If I want to play with her, and honor my son’s reason behind his gift, I have to get an Xbox myself.  Yes, I am actually considered buying a used 360 just for one game.  It’s amazing what your kids can talk you into. 

Cookies!

Ok, so if you guys haven’t found this site yet, you need to go.  I stumbled on them two Christmases ago when looking for Godzilla gifts for the husband.  Warpzone Prints http://warpzoneprints.com has amazing cookie cutters from all kinds of fandoms. The cutters are really detailed and dishwasher safe.  Plus as a neat nerdy bonus, they’re 3D printed.  I’m definitely going to adding a few more to my collection this year. 

 

Mechagodzilla with shoulder cannons decorated by the littlest
  
Boo
   

Triforce
   
Buster Sword
 

No Lapping

There are two kinds of people: those who can keep a secret, and those who, well…can’t.  One of my kids can’t keep things to himself for anything. It bursts from inside him if he learned something super cool or worse bought you a Christmas gift. He has definitely spilt the beans about a few gifts over the years. He gets it from his daddy who is famous in this house for Christmas shopping at the last minute not because he’s lazy or inattentive, but because he can’t help himself from needing to give it to you right away.  Often this kind of behavior from the little one is not a huge deal, even mildly amusing. Until it comes to video games spoilers.  Thus the creation of one of the cardinal rules: No Lapping.

I usually institute this rule for Legend of Zelda games.  If they’re on the big screen (read Wii U) they belong to me. I did say mom was the gamer in this family. The kids are given a save slot or can create a game under their Mii, but they can’t pass me in the game. Which means if I’m in the first dungeon, they can’t start it. This prevents the little one from telling me the boss or what weapon we earn in the dungeon. This also prevents the eldest from accidentally helping me solve the puzzles.  Lastly, when they run through the dungeon and get lost, I can give them hints without spoiling it for myself by having to watch what they’re doing or looking it up on the Internet (this is also a Cardinal Rule for Zelda games: no looking it up!)  

Well, this year for Christmas we got little guy Xenoblade Chronicles X.  And it’s awesome.  Little guy allowed us to play the game too, but instituted the no lapping rule!  Augh!!  So here I am at level 50 on Chapter 4. 

Mom is the gamer, but this gamer is also a mom. 

 Video Games the Cause of Unshoveled Driveways?

So we had a pretty decent snowstorm over a good part of the area a bit ago, and as the snow dragged on I saw more and more posts in social media regarding the dirth of kids walking around looking to make a little pocket change by shoveling driveways.  And every single one of them blamed video games.  

Insert large sigh here.  

It’s clearly no secret that we are a big video game family.  Know what my eldest (who has the right age range for shoveling driveways) was doing during the storm?  Shoveling driveways.  Three to be exact.  Know why?  Because we told him that, if he wanted to, it would be an awesome time to make himself some pocket change.  We knew that we had people in neighborhood who would not be able to take care of their own driveways, we coached him on how to ask people if he could shovel their driveways for them, how much to charge, how thoroughly he needed to shovel, and so on.  After he went out, we checked on him and even brought him a hot drink.  He was pretty tired after his second driveway, but was determined to get a third done.  Did he play video games that weekend?  Hell, yes!  We were stuck at home for three days.  But blaming kids’ lack of motivation for shoveling driveways on video games is simply incorrect.  There were games waaay long before video games. There were puzzles and card games and board games.  And there were videos and television shows waaay long before video games.  None of those things ever caused kids to not go out and sweat a little for pocket change.  

In one article that made the rounds a woman said she was letting her kid play video games because he deserved a break. I think that right there pointed out the cause of the missing kids.  No, not the part were kids are so overworked by schools and extracurriculars that they need to take full advantage of the break given to us by the snowstorm to rest and recharge.  The part were the parents didn’t encourage their kids to take advantage of the opportunities presented to them.  Now as a parent myself, I’m not going to hang all the other parents out to dry.  Raising kids is an exhausting (but happy) task.  In another article that popped up that weekend, one beleaguered parent detailed how frustrating it was to keep her kids on task just shoveling their own driveway.  What I want is for people to stop  blaming video games for all the ethical failures of our children.