What Am I Playing Lately? (Emily is Away Edition)

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Usually when I’m taking a look through Steam’s Free to Play section, I see a bunch of stuff I have absolutely no interest in playing. It’s not to say that a majority of games contained within that section are crap (although a good chunk of stuff in there is), but most of it is. I stumbled upon Emily is Away during one of my searches, and had really only downloaded it due to the nods to AIM and oddly enough, Windows XP.

I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to play it, I couldn’t tell what the game was about from the video, or from the screenshots. If you had told me it was a mystery game, I would’ve believed you. I really had no clue, and so the game sat in my backlog for months. This past Saturday night, I decided I’d finally give the game a try. I don’t know if it was fatigue from the day, or the alcohol talking, but I was feeling pretty brave.

The game takes place of the course of 5 years, you start out in High School, and the game ends when you’re ready to graduate from college. The only thing that is changing over the course of the game is your relationship with Emily. It started off innocently enough, but then as your character gets older, and starts making some important decisions that impact your friendship/relationship with Emily, that’s when the game starts to have a different feel to it, and the themes get a little bit heavier.

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After creating a screen name (johncena), I was looking squarely at the AIM UI and the rolling hills background within Windows XP, which is what drew me to the game in the first place. After sitting there for a few seconds, I hear a familiar sound; it was the AIM chime, someone was talking to me. I had a hard time taking the game seriously at first, I was answering questions about what my plans were for that night, and if was thinking of going to some party. Basically, all things that one would think about if they had a social life.

Halfway through the first play through, which was around chapter 3, I started to realize the game wasn’t as lighthearted as I thought. I wish I could talk about some of the choices that I had made, but there isn’t really a way to do that without spoiling the experience. I will say however, that this isn’t a game about making progress and “getting the girl”, in fact, I would venture to say that, that isn’t the point here. I think the point of a game like this, is to make you feel something, be it guilt, uncertainty, or even a twinge of sadness.

I know that at the end of my first play though, my final options of things to say to Emily were “Goodbye”, “Goodbye”, and “Goodbye”, and I felt really shitty about that. I thought that I felt this way because I was tired; but I went through the game again the next day, and felt the same thing (well maybe a little worse), since I was able to experience friendliness at the beginning, and the distance at the end.

Emily is Away is an interesting experiment, and I’m glad I took some time to check it out. Its always nice to be surprised every once in awhile.

 

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The Legend of Zelda (An 8 Bit Game a Day mini edition)

the-legend-of-zelda-enemiesIt’s hard for me to admit this, but I’ve never finished the original Legend of Zelda. I can’t really say for sure why that is; the only thing that I can think of, is that I never owned Zelda, Metroid, or Kid Icarus, and so the nostalgia just isn’t there in the same way that it was for say, Super Mario Bros, or Castlevania. Those were games that I physically owned, and therefore had access to those titles whenever I wanted it.

It’s a shame really, because two out those three games are iconic (Kid Icarus, is okay, but it by no means should be considered a classic). But considering that I didn’t really have much of a say when it came to getting new games, I mainly played what was available. Like most kids at the time, it wasn’t really a problem, except for when you got that really terrible game (looking at you CastleQuest) and were stuck playing it for the next few months, until the next holiday came around.

That being said however, it’s not as though you couldn’t get any of the games that you missed out on, at any point down the road, it’s just that when you have a backlog of things you want to get through, whether it be games, movies, books, or whatever, its always shifting and evolving, and so that game that you were interested in playing 20 years ago, may not seem so interesting now.

Which brings me to the point of this entry. I’ve only played the The Legend of Zelda up to the first dungeon, and that’s it. I’ve attempted to go through this quite a few times, but just ended up not really being interested. However, it being the 30th anniversary and all, I’m going to finish this game.

Are you ready for some Football? No, not you Tom Brady. Sit down over there…..

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It’s been way too long since I’ve written anything sports related. Of course, after writing about mobile and retro games for so long, I guess it’s really not all that surprising. However, being a die hard sports fan, I couldn’t let this whole mess involving Tom Brady and cheating pass me by without saying something.

To be fair, I have to be careful here. I’m a die-hard Miami Dolphins fan, so anything involving the Patriots with a little bit of egg on their face, gives me the warm fuzzies. After all, it was only 2 seasons ago, where the Dolphins were dealing with an internal bullying situation (seriously, what the fuck grade are these guys in?), involving a guy who was anything but “Incognito” (see what I did there?). I’m also a Red Sox fan, and so anything involving winning in 2004 and the good players on the team before the “Steroid Era” was officially dead, sort of keeps me awake at night. So I’ll surely try my best not to anger the sports gods, by having a biased opinion.

Moving on….

Man, the NFL has had some problems. Surely anyone with access to the internet, social media, and um…friends, knows that well, the NFL commissioner is not very well liked, and has made some pretty big mistakes. However, I think the NFL may have gotten this whole “deflate-gate” fiasco exactly right. Now I, like many folks out there; have been wondering, “this thing happened way back in January, right?” and you’d be totally correct.

Now, over the last few months, there’s been a report that was put together, an arbitration hearing regarding the penalties that had been handed down, and then there was nothing. Of course, of all the pundits out there were thinking, that nothing was going to happen to Tom Brady, and that it would be crazy for something as inane as deflating footballs to incur a much larger penalty than the penalty handed down for much more egregious acts that were committed during the first half of the football season. For those who are not aware, all major sports have unions. So not every penalty out there is ruled on solely by the league.

For example. Alex Rodriguez (different sport I know), had requested a trade from the Texas Rangers at the end of the 2003 season. He felt that after watching the ALCS (American League Championship Series) between the Red Sox and the Yankees, he wanted to part of something bigger. He wanted to be in the midst of a baseball rivalry. The Rangers, after tying themselves to A-Rod with a 10-year $252 Million Dollar deal, had no financial flexibility to build a competitive baseball team, and so they would look for a way to not only move A-Rod’s contract, but also get what they deemed to be a fair return.

This story’s a little long, I’ll speed this up….

The Red Sox and the Rangers had a deal set up, where the Rangers would get Manny Ramirez, and Jon Lester. However, since A-Rod and Nomar Garciaparra both played the same position (shortstop), the Red Sox would have to find a team that wanted Nomar. So then the Chicago White Sox get involved. At this point you now have a three team deal; The Red Sox would get Alex Rodriguez, Magglio Ordonez, and Brandon McCarthy from the Rangers and White Sox, The White Sox would get Nomar Garciaparra from the Red Sox, and the Rangers would get Manny Ramirez, and Jon Lester from the Red Sox.

So after this is all set up, it’s still far from a done deal. In order for this trade to work, it needed to be approved by both the league and the players union. So after the Red Sox worked out the financials with A-Rod (which involved a paycut, which he approved), they then made the formal request for the trade. The league approved the deal, but the players association did not. The reasoning being that they would allow A-Rod’s contract to be restructured, but not reduced. Basically what I’m getting at, is that the decisions are not as cut and dry as one would think. Because believe it or not, there is a hierarchy.

So anyway, back to Football.

The NFL didn’t really have a leg to stand on when it came to the subject of domestic abuse. Every decision they made, was the wrong one. Of course, that’s easy for me to say. I’m just some asshole on a computer. However, I will mention that the union was very quick to defend the subjects of these suspensions, and basically got the suspensions reduced or thrown out based on (and I’m going to say it) “technicalities”. The actions involving the players spoke for themselves, there really wasn’t anything to defend. However, that’s just my opinion.

The Tom Brady situation has every chance to go wrong. He’s an icon, the Patriots are still the most recent dynasty in football, and they’re respected. Not only that, but Roger Goodell and Robert Kraft are also pretty tight. So this whole situation just feels like a powder keg ready to explode with unacceptable behavior (bad joke, I know). But I feel that this time, the NFL got it right. I don’t know if it happened consciously, but it seems as though this time the decision is going to stick, and it’s all because Brady had his cell phone destroyed during the Ted Wells investigation. Of course this case is going to go to federal court, because, why wouldn’t it? and even that case is going to be dragged out another few months, and again, this is with the help of the players union. Tom Brady did not just come to that conclusion himself, and that needs to be understood.

Tom Brady needs to just accept his fate. He lied, he cheated (whether it be knowingly or unknowingly), and then destroyed his phone for no other reason then just to be a dick. I’m sorry, this isn’t about the NFL and it’s policies, or defending the shield and the integrity of the game. This is about someone who just doesn’t want to admit that he was wrong, and isn’t willing to accept the fate that he brought upon himself. Do yourself a favor, take yourself out of the spotlight, take your four game suspension, and come back in week 6 ready to go.

What Am I Playing Lately? (Papers, Please Edition)

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“Papers, Please” is one of the most depressing games I’ve ever played. Period. I say this, and yet, I can’t stop playing. You play the role of an immigration inspector, at the border of Arstotzka in 1982. You pretty much just make sure that whoever is crossing the border, has all their paperwork accounted for. This is done mainly to keep criminals, smugglers, and terrorists out of the country. Still with me? Cool.

While you’re scoping out the paperwork, you’ll need to consult your rule book whenever you discover any discrepancies (incorrect birthdate, passport number, and yes, even gender at times) to determine what the next course of action needs to be. Do you need to interrogate the suspect? Detain them? Search them? These are all things that you’ll need to think about during the course of your work day, and the amount of things you’ll need to inspect only increases.

Of course, since you’re not under enough pressure, you need to learn to be as efficient as possible, since your daily pay depends on it. The quicker the line moves, the more money you make, the slower it moves, well, you get the idea. At the end of each day you’ll need to divide up how the money is spent, so that you can keep your family alive. No joke.

So again, seriously, what’s the appeal? Honestly, I don’t know. But I’m completely captivated by the monotony of the daily routine, and the unique situations that I find myself in. For example, I got a note requesting that I deny a certain person from crossing the border due to a crime that this person could potentially commit. Now here I’m faced with a dilemma. I don’t want to allow a hardened criminal across the border into my country, but on the other hand, if all his paperwork adds up, and I don’t let him cross, I’ll be penalized by having money taken away. And that is where the game settles into a groove, you just have to keep going, just to see what happens.

“Papers, Please” isn’t going to be for everybody. In fact, as far as indie games having a reputation of being pretentious goes, this one might take the cake. However, that shouldn’t sway you from at least giving the game a try. I’ve honestly never really experienced a game like this, but I’m glad that I have, and I would encourage anyone out there to do the same.

Seriously, what the hell is going on?

It’s been quite a while since I’ve updated this thing hasn’t it? I don’t really have any interest in writing pieces regarding my personal life, but since I haven’t really put much effort into this thing as of late, I suppose I do owe a little bit of an explanation as to what’s been going on.

Back to school… 

I decided to take a little break from writing about games shortly after my mom passed away. I couldn’t really get into it. Despite finally sinking my teeth into some pretty interesting stuff, I had a hard time thinking of interesting things to write, and therefore the blog was kind of put on the back burner. However, the other reason for the lack of content is that I went back to school. I’ve been taking online classes over the last 4 months, and that requires staring at the computer for an additional 20 hours a week, and that includes around the 35 hours I spend staring at the computer for my actual job. I don’t actually mind doing that, but every once in awhile it wouldn’t hurt to see a different screen.

I bought a Retron 5 

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I know, I know. Nothing beats original hardware. Trust me, I get it. It’s cool though, I still have a Sega Saturn collecting dust in the garage, so it’s good to know any original hardware I have is being put to good use. But seriously, every try plugging and NES into HD anything? It’s far from pleasant. The Retron 5 upscales everything to 720p, and it looks really nice. Plus, it’s given me an excuse to start collecting Famicom games.

“Excuse me sir”

“Yes”

“Would you like to purchase the Dragon Quests I-VI, and the Famicom versions of Final Fantasies I, II, and III, for less than the cost of the newest Call of Duty game?”

“Um. Well. Wouldn’t they all be in Japanese”

“With the Retron, you can install translation patches”

**Hands over money, and three major credit cards (due to fear of fraudulent charges, two of the cards are expired)**

It’s actually been a pretty great purchase. I was on the fence for a bit, when people were talking about pins getting bent and all that. But so far, it’s been pretty great. Everything I’ve purchased has worked, and I’ve been able to get some pretty cool stuff for cheap. I’ve been using emulators for a long time, and have really loved doing so, but there’s a difference between playing Super Mario Bros. on my computer, and playing it on my Television. Maybe there isn’t really that much of a difference, but I dunno, I just enjoy playing console games on my TV.

Making music? that’s dumb….(It’s not, I know)

Loneliness and Heartbreak

Over the last few weeks I’ve also been working on music. I’m not really going to go into what it is, or where one could find it. Google would probably tell you anyway. It’s not finished, and I only have 3 songs, sort of completed. I’m not doing this for any particular reason, I’m doing this solely because I can. There have been plenty of people that I’ve come to know over the past few years, who have made these types of projects come to life, and so I’m hoping that I can as well. I don’t really have an end date in mind, I’ll really just be working on it when I have a spare moment.

I have a few written pieces planned for this month, including a piece on a PC game that I recently got addicted to, and a retrospective on Weezer (because people want it, dammit!). I’m also writing for Strange Wonderful, which I’m also due to make some sort of appearance on at some point in the near future. I’ll keep everyone posted.

Cheers