The Waiting

When you are a gamer, and your kids have also developed a fond affection for games, Christmas is bound to have a few games under the tree.  Oh the boys got some books and building kits (both Lego and non Lego) as well.  But the games at Christmas are very much looked forward to as we place a moratorium on new games brought into the house for two months before Christmas.  Which means that the new Pok√©mon games all their friends got in November?  The boys didn’t get them in November.  They put them on their Christmas lists and tried to dodge all the spoilers their friends threw at them.  I also had to remind the little one that if he didn’t get a game he put on his list, that he did have allowance money and GameStop does a great sale on used games after Christmas.  Waiting is hard. 

It’s now almost a week after Christmas and so far the kids have gotten into all of their games.  A few they have spent more time in others, but they have tried them all out.  Except for one.  I have left the living room in post Christmas morning state for most of the week as the boys have vacation from school and I’m letting them thoroughly enjoy their games before we put them up tomorrow.  Unwrapped games and opened boxes are scattered around.  Wires that connect and charge controllers are strewn about.  A portal and figures dot the landscape of our “wow that’s ugly, let’s replace it someday” carpeting.  And there, in the middle of it all, sits one lonely, unopened Lego Dimensions Fantastic Beasts level box.

Poor little thing.  My inner gamer wants to pick it up, cut the tape on the box carefully (it is a Lego box after all), open the bags on the floor, and see how much I can put together without the instructions in the game.  I know it’s a tactic that would work to get the kids curious enough to play the game, but this time I think I’ll wait and see how long it takes for them to want to play it.  Problem is, waiting is hard.  

Merry Zelda Christmas

It’s possible that these socks, which were in my stocking on Christmas, were meant for men’s feet.  It’s also possible I don’t care. 

Ico/Shadow of the Colossus 

If you or your kids have never played Ico or Shadow of the Colossus, you might want to consider acquiring the collection edition (remastered, high def, blah blah blah).  Here’s a nice handy link to the games on Amazon, but if you can locate it at a GameStop it’s cheaper.  These games are beautiful.  Stunningly beautiful.  The games are worth playing for the art alone, but the storylines are fantastic.  True to Japanese story telling, you are dropped into a story without much explanation and when the game is done you will have unanswered questions.  But the experience is rich and you will find yourself bonded into the experience.  

Ico is one of the only games where I do not mind the escort part of the story, which, really, is most of the story.  Early on in the game you find a girl locked in a cage.  Having just been imprisoned himself, the boy you play doesn’t want to leave her behind nor be alone.  Together you try and find a way out of the building that you have been locked in.  But she won’t move on her own, and some shadow creatures are trying to recapture her through the game.  You have to physically hold her hand to move her, help her up walls, and yes defend her from the shadow creatures.  For those of you who rolled your eyes while thinking, “OMG, another story where the girl is useless and has to be rescued,” the way she is happens to be essential to the story.  There are some things that only she can do or move.  And you definitely get the sense that the girl, whose name we learn is Yorda, is not all present in this world.   She’s faded and glowing, while your character is full color.  

While Ico is an action/puzzle/platformer, it requires you to develop your sense of bravery as you are often forced to leave Yorda alone to clear the path ahead for the two of you as she cannot go through all the obstacles you can.  You have to calm your sense of panic that the shadow creatures are going to find her the longer you are away from her.  They will find her, it’s just a matter of time, so you have to think quick to solve the puzzles while dealing with the stress of a timed event and the fear of loss of the girl, which will only get stronger as you become more attached to her.  By the end of the game, you will have bonded with Yorda. 

Shadow of the Colossus, while having the same stunning artwork, has a very different style of gameplay.  The director of the games,  Fumito Ueda has himself said that the second game was made for gamers.  There are some platforming elements, but the game is mostly known for being a boss battle, followed by a boss battle, followed by a boss battle.  

This game is more quick thinking fighting strategy, where Ico was more quick thinking puzzle solving.  Finishing Shadow of the Colossus is one of those geek badges that gamers carry around inside them.  It’s a mark of respect to have earned the ending. 

Whether it is you or your kid that plays this game (side note: these games are fun to watch someone else play, but you may find it hard to resist chiming in solutions or strategies as they are so engaging), I would be remiss if I did not let you know that some will find the endings sad.  Don’t let that stop you from playing though.  Let yourself become attached to the characters and fully immerse yourself in their stories.  You’ll be better for the experience.  

Goofy Video Game Stuff My Kids Have Done #3

Youngest pulled out Yoshi’s Woolly World tonight.  After watching him play through about four episodes, the eldest decided to hop in and play with him.  It has a pretty nice co-op system close to the rest of the Mario games.  This one happens to be super adorable because it’s all yarn.  The Yoshis go through the levels knitting missing walkways and spaghetti slurping loose yarn, all the while being followed by little balls of yarn collected out of yarn baskets found in the levels.  So the boys are running around the level, doing what Yoshis do, which includes eating enemies and turning them into yarn balls when, of course, they start eating each other’s Yoshi instead.  I’m mildly amused and figure at some point I’ll have to remind them that they should knock it off and finish the level, when I see the youngest eat his brother’s Yoshis and take off running…with all the yarn balls.  Eldest returns to Yoshi form and noms his brother’s Yoshi and also takes off running…with the yarn balls his brother had just stolen from him.  They weren’t just eating each other’s characters and turning them into yarn balls for fun, they were eating each other’s Yoshi for exclusive rights to the yarn stash.  And giggling the whole time. 

When you eat your companion’s Yoshi, they become a little yarn ball that follows you around.