Friday, January 16, 2015

Katie Games!

Hi raspberries! It's been a few days. Sorry about that. Truth is, I've been very tired and stressed and haven't gotten around to making a blog post. In short, I've been feeling uninspired. But look no further, because I found something that's exciting me!
For Christmas, I got a Nintendo 3DS game, Cooking Mama 5: Bon Appetit! The bad news was, I had lost my DS charger somewhere in the abyss of my disorganized life. So, for about 2 weeks, it's been staring at me, but I couldn't play it on my very dead 3DS. A few days ago, a friend of mine came over, and gave me on of her chargers! Situation rectified!
Anyway, I played the game (really liked it, but more on that later), and was suddenly feeling inspired to play games again. Now, I've never been anything resembling a serious gamer. I didn't own a Gameboy in my late 90s/millennial childhood. The oldest console I remember my family having was an N64. The first handheld I owned was the first generation NDS (big clunky thing, it also played Gameboy Advance games).
I really got into "gaming", if you want to call it that, through the NDS line. However, I always liked games that were "girly", "cute", or otherwise non-serious. I still have that flair and would probably have to be paid to play a game like Assassin's Creed.
On my new kick, however, I decided to download a few console emulators, which are programs that "emulate" the original console on a PC. On my new found quest, I discovered all sorts of games I never thought about playing, but am now looking into, and even playing through.
I'm going to talk about my favorite games, games I'm currently playing, and games I intend to play (in the queue, if you will).

Katie's All-Time Faves

I haven't played a whole lot of video games, especially ones that would be considered "serious", whatever the heck that means. So don't get your gamer panties all in a snit because the best games of all time aren't in this part of the list. These are just games that are special to me.

1. Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life (GameCube)

This game was everything to me. I've probably spent more hours playing A Wonderful Life than I have any other game (except maybe Animal Crossing). I've played a few of the other Harvest Moon installments, but this is definitely my favorite. I think this game is what really got me into simulation-style games, which I still love. The gameplay was pretty excellent for me, and I just loved the peaceful nature of it, and the free-form, living your life style. I love RPGs, but I think the simulation category is really relaxing because you aren't constantly going on quests or feeling like you're in a time-crunch. Harvest Moon was my later childhood, at its best.

2. Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS)

This is a relatively new game released for the 3DS in late 2012. (Another simulation game, uh-oh!) Quite simply, I adore this game. It's relaxing, it's insanely cute, and it makes me feel like my life is just a little bit better because it exists. I've played every incarnation of Animal Crossing, and this is, in my opinion, hands down the best. It's every other version of Animal Crossing, but just better. The gameplay and environment are much richer, and there's a lot more to do. Since it's a simulation game, the added control over your fate, and the new options to just do more are really exciting.

3. Cooking Mama Series (NDS, 3DS)

These games, silly though they are, have a special place in my heart. I've played every incarnation of this series as well, and I really couldn't pick just one game as a standalone that I liked the best. They're all special in their own ways. I love the original, which contains more Japanese recipes. They vastly improved gameplay in the 2nd version, Dinner With Friends, which made actually making the food much easier. I really like the one I got for Christmas, which is the 5th, Bon Appetit! It was the second version released for the 3DS, and I love it. The recipes are great, graphics are amazing. I find it to be easier and more forgiving than the others (especially the original), so it would be awesome for kids.

4. Super Mario 64 (N64)

I wish I could talk more about the gameplay in this, but the truth is, I don't remember. I chose this game because it was a big part of my childhood. As I said, the N64 is the earliest console I remember my family having. I think we may have had a SNES when I was very young, but the 64 is what I recall vividly. Honestly, I didn't really play much of this game because I was like 6 and it was a bit hard for me. But I watched my dad play it for hours. I was entranced with the graphics, and the castle dynamic, with each room containing a different challenge. I would love to get a 64 (emulator for now), and play this game today. Super Mario 64 left a huge impression on me, and was my introduction to the Mario franchise. I still think it's a beautiful game.

5. Donkey Kong 64 (N64)

This is a really goofy one, because I probably remember even less of it than Super Mario 64, but I played it! I could kind of play this game, although I'm sure I was pretty terrible at it. I remember it being very pretty to me as a little kid, and in retrospect, I think it's cool as a 3D-style DK game. I loved playing as Dixie Kong, who used her ponytails to fly!

6. Style Savvy: Trendsetters (3DS)

This is another 3DS one that I've played recently. I got this about a year and a half ago on a whim, because I remembered wanting the original Style Savvy that came out for the NDS. These games are called Girls Code in Japan, and are so cute. I've never played the original Style Savvy, but Trendsetters was a blast for me. Basically, your job is to be a stylist in the game. You own a boutique, and can enter contests to compete with other stylists. It's not complex or anything, but it's adorable, and the fashionista in me couldn't resist.

Currently Playing

So I've sort of been dabbling around in a few games recently, using emulators. I want to talk about the ones I've been playing in this section.

1. Hamtaro: Rainbow Rescue (GBA)

I've been playing this Hamtaro game on my Game Boy Advance emulator, VBA-M. As I said, I didn't have a Game Boy as a kid, but I loved Hamtaro. I was crazy about Hamtaro. I almost got a Game Boy just to play these Hamtaro games. So far, it's been awesome. I think this is actually a really clever little game, which I wasn't expecting. The goal is to help a hamster who lives in a rainbow-land to fix his umbrella, which creates rainbows. You go to several places, collecting "colors" to put in his umbrella. There are a ton of mini-games you have to complete to get through the levels, and some of them are surprisingly hard. If you want a cute, but still slightly challenging game, this is awesome.

2. The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (GBA)

Finally! Katie's playing a Zelda game! I've been wanting to play one of The Legend of Zelda games for a while, but was afraid my cred as someone who only plays Cooking Mama and Animal Crossing might set me back. I asked around to find something that would be good for starters, and someone who likes cute games, and was suggested The Minish Cap. I've just started playing this on my VBA-M emulator, and I love it! It's adorable, introduces me to the Zelda franchise without being overwhelming, and is somewhere in between relaxing and challenging. I'm also a huge sucker for GBA-era game art, and I love the art in this game. In it, Zelda is turned to stone by the evil Vaati, and Link has to rescue her (of course). In the game, he shrinks down to "Minish" size, which is the name of tiny sprite-like people who live in the forest. His cap is actually a creature named Ezlo, who shows him how to shrink to Minish size, and is his companion through the game.

3. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (NDS)

This was one I wanted to play on the DS, so I got it for my NDS emulator, desmume. The premise is that you are a young, start-up defense attorney named Phoenix Wright. Throughout the game, you go though a series of cases and use evidence gathered to prove your client is not guilty. I'm on Case 2 right now, but I really like this game. It's challenging and differs from many games that are mere puzzles. This makes you really feel like you're a lawyer. It's a standout from the DS series of games, if you ask me.

4. Dogz (GBA)

Here's a goofy one! This was released under a different name in Japan, but I can't remember it. The premise is simple, get and raise a dog. It's kind of repetitive, as it's a kids game, but I think the adorable art makes up for it. I always loved games where you raise pets, and this one has such cute art, I couldn't say no. I think I will probably also play Dogz 2, which is basically the same, but with improved graphics, from what I can tell. This is adorable and relaxing.

Queued Up!

These are games that I've downloaded for my emulators, or want to buy to play on a console, but haven't played yet. I'm looking forward to playing a ton of games, so this by all means isn't all of them, just ones I'm planning on playing soon.

1. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (GBA)

I downloaded this for VBA-M because I read it was one of the best Final Fantasy games released for the GBA. I assume I'd really like the Final Fantasy games, but I didn't really want to start with a super-detailed, recent version released for an installation of the PlayStation or anything. I think this looks really fun and like something I can wrap my head around at this point.

2. Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire (GBA)

Confession time again: I've never played any Pokemon games except X, from the X and Y series for 3DS. I was really girly as a kid, and I thought Pokemon was for boys, so I wouldn't play it. Now that I'm older, Pokemon fascinates me. It seems like something I would love, and it's a shame I didn't play it as a kid. I loved X (which I lost, so I need to repurchase it). The art was beautiful, but I want to play some older Pokemon games. From the Ruby and Sapphire series, I got Emerald, because I heard it's got all the good components of both Ruby and Sapphire. I'm also stoked on the Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire games released for 3DS, and will probably get one of those eventually.

3. Pokemon Diamond and Pearl (NDS)

Another Pokemon game! I got Platinum (the special one, like Emerald). I want to play the Gold and Silver series for the Game Boy Color as well as the Black and White for the DS. I'm happy my love for Pokemon is finally being realized.

4. Super Princess Peach (NDS)

I've probably played more Mario games than any other widely recognized game series. I never finished any of them or took them seriously, but I loved a lot of the console games, like Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy. Me being the girly girl I am, I love Peach. This game was released for the DS where Peach is the star of the show, and has to save Mario. I've heard it's not exactly the feminist dream we were hoping for, but that's alright. 2015 is the 30th anniversary of Peach's first appearance, and so I think it's only right I pay homage to her.

5. Kirby: Canvas Curse (NDS)

I've never played or really had much interest in any of the Kirby games, but this one looked really cool to me, because of the painting elements. It's got good reviews and the art is adorable. I may have to actually buy the cartridge for my 3DS though, because it might involve too much touching to play on my laptop right now.

6. Sonic Advance (GBA)

I've also never played any Sonic games (who am I!?), so I thought this would be a good starter. If I like it, I might go on to play the other two for the GBA, Sonic Advance 2 and 3.

7. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker (GameCube)

I tried to play this on my computer the other day, but it's really hard on a keyboard because there are so many controls. I want to get the disc and play it on a real GameCube with a controller. This game is highly regarded, and was the first real appearance of Link in cel-shaded form within a game. It seems like a good balance between relaxing and intense. (The music in this one really stood out to me as well.)

Well, that about does it for now! I just wanted to share the things I'm excited about with you guys. I'll probably update on how I'm liking these games, or any new games eventually. What are your favorite games? Are you a serious gamer or basically a child like me? Let me know!

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