Genre:  RPG/Dungeon Crawler
Platform:  XBone, PS4, PC, Vita

I have spent plenty of time with Darkest Dungeon over all four platforms listed above.  This is a dungeon crawler at its most brutal.  You start with a small party of adventurers and pick your dungeon.  You have a specific goal to complete each time you enter the dungeon.  Complete it and you get valuable cash and usually a trinket for one of your party members.

This may sound like your typical dungeon crawler, but this game is not.  It is also a rogue-like, meaning that if anyone in your party dies, they are gone forever.  This doesn’t sting so much in the beginning, but when you have a level 4+ that dies, it hurts.  In addition to that, your party members get stressed while going through the dungeon.  If you can’t mitigate that stress, they risk a heart attack and could die.  Don’t pick a dungeon that’s too hard for them, or they will be stressed if you have to back out.  You can rest them when you are in town, but it costs money and an entire turn.  Which means that you need to maintain a party big enough for at least two full crews (4 to a crew) at any given time.

This game is so challenging that I’ve started it over on four different platforms and have improved greatly each time.  However, I always seem to get a bit too greedy and end up doing more than I can.  I either lose a member or end up with them seriously afflicted (very expensive to cure).  You can use the rewards that you get from quests to permanently level up either buildings, weaponry or skills.

This game is a constant balancing act, but it is very rewarding if you can get good at it.  I have probably sunk 40+ hours in it thus far, but I’m just barely scratching the surface.  I’ve only killed three bosses.  If you like dungeon crawlers and are looking for a challenge, definitely pick this one up.  Be warned, it may make you go crazy…

Limited Run

I have an obsession with a company called Limited Run Games.  They take some of the most popular digital-only release games and make physical media for the Playstation 4, Playstation Vita and now the Switch.

They are still a fairly new company, but I love what they are doing and have collected all but 3 of their Vita-released games.  They are still releasing new ones, and I am sure to gobble them up on release day.

The significance of their name is that they keep each release to a very small number of cartridges.  In most of the releases, you won’t see more than 3,000 released world-wide.  It adds a sense of exclusivity, which makes it very attractive to collectors such as myself.  They also often have collector’s editions with many of the releases.  I will generally only do the collector’s set if it’s a game I really enjoy, such as Oddworld:  Munch’s Oddysee.  I had that game for the original XBox and enjoyed it a lot.

They are only up to about 60 games released for the Vita, which is the platform I primarily collect for.  I have about 20 of the PS4 releases as well.  Even though I don’t have a Switch, I have pre-ordered the first 10 releases there as well.  If what happened with the first releases for the other systems, these will be worth a lot more than they are now.

Some of my favorite releases so far have been Saturday Morning RPG, Octodad, Thomas was Alone, Broken Age (gotta love DoubleFine), Oceanhorn, Steworld Dig and Heist and several Bit.Trip games.

In the beginning, I was pretty loyal to Nintendo.  I bought the NES with my own money and was so proud of that.  I loved the NES.  Then came the Super Nintendo.  I bought that as well.  Then, as young adulthood set it, I didn’t play console games for a long time.  That is, until the XBox original came out.  I got it on launch day and fell in love.  Several years later, I got a XBox 360.  Then a XBox One.  Next month, I’m getting the XBox One X.

I have had little interest in the world of Sony’s Playstation, outside of the PSP, which I got many years after it had been retired.  I knew of the consoles, of course, and some of the exclusive games that weren’t quite enough to taunt me to get one.  I had a PS2 briefly because Guitar Hero wasn’t yet available on XBox, but sold it as soon as it was.

I have recently changed that.  On Prime Day in July, I bought a PS4 Uncharted 4 version for around $250.  It was a deal I couldn’t refuse.  I had been thinking about getting one due to a TV series that I had been watching (more on that in the next post) and pulled the trigger.  I think I had actually purchased my PS Vita (handheld) shortly before that for the same reason.

I have had both for some time now.  I am enjoying both.  There are enough differences between the XBone and PS4 that it stays interesting.  I have purchased a few console-specific titles for PS4 such as Infamous, Sword Art Online, Uncharted and Little Big Planet.  I have quite a collection of games building for the Vita (most weren’t harmed during the flood).

So, expect to see some posts in the near future regarding both of these consoles and the games I’m playing for them.  I’ve recently updated the “Now Playing…” page with the titles I’m currently working through.

By the way, I’ve heard the Nintendo Switch gently calling out to me recently…

We are fast approaching the launch date of the Nintendo Switch (March 3).  I have had my mind made up for some time now.  I think I will be skipping this console.  Nintendo was once THE powerhouse in the video game world.  The NES and SNES were incredible systems.  I had to do grown-up stuff during the N64, and bought an XBox original in lieu of the Gamecube. I did try the Wii, but found it too gimmicky for my taste.  I missed the awesome (relative) graphics of the XBox and XBox 360.  I completely skipped the Wii U, as did most of the world.  Handhelds aside, I am done with Nintendo.

From what I’ve seen of the Switch, it looks like another gimmicky console.  While I’m glad to see the motion controls go, as you can see on the picture on the right, the controllers, when used separately, are tiny and will only be usable in short bursts of time.  My hands are cramping up just watching it.  And when paired into the larger controller, it doesn’t look any more comfortable.  I like the idea of the removable tablet, but that’s not near enough to get me to buy this.

It’s probably a neat party item, but as a more serious gamer, the games just aren’t there.  As with the Wii, it appears geared toward Mario, Zelda and kids.  Check out the game launch chart below.  There are the usual players (Zelda, Mario Kart, Pokemon), but otherwise, there’s not enough there to make me want to spend money on this system.  There are many games that you can find on other systems such as Shovel Knight, Tetris, Cave Story, Stardew Valley, Rayman, Minecraft, etc.  I think I’ll stick with them on those systems for now.

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angry-birds

Once upon a time, I discovered a cute little game on my cell phone called Angry Birds.  I came to really like it.  I liked it a lot.  I played it over and over until I had three stars on all of the levels.  I was tickled when Angry Bird Seasons came out with a lot more levels.  I was overjoyed when Angry Birds Rio came out (and still think it’s the best of the flock) and played it until I had three stars on all levels.  I tried my hands at Angry Birds space and didn’t like it so much.  Then I took an Angry Birds break.

Cut to a few years later and I recently tried to play Angry Birds and Angry Birds Rio again.  But I couldn’t get much past three levels.  It’s not that I couldn’t pass them – that was no problem.  It was that I didn’t want to go any farther than that.  As you can probably tell on this blog,  I really enjoy older games that I once loved.  I have no problem going back and playing all of my old favorites.  So why don’t I like Angry Birds anymore?

It really doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.  The game hasn’t changed at all.  It’s still cute and simple.  Maybe I over played it back then.  I’m not sure, but the desire to keep playing is simply gone.  Do you have any games like this?

girls-that-play-video-games

As a member of the female portion of our society, I feel that I’ve got some expertise in the area of girl/women gamers.  Having played a MMO in the early days of MMOs, I have probably seen it all when it comes to how women are portrayed and treated in video games.  I feel the cartoon above really sums this article up – we are not treasures to be sought and we are not fodder for trolls.  We are just people trying to have fun and relax by playing a game.  This is a two-part article.  The first is going to focus on my experience as a female gamer.  The second will focus more on how women are portrayed in video games and how that has affected me.

When I started going online and playing games, way back in 1997, it was a bit of a different world than it is today.  I usually played a female character because, well, I’m female.  I was also just fresh out of high school and a bit naive.  If I really wanted to be left alone, I would create a male character, but this was usually in World of Warcraft because that community is the worst of any I’ve seen.  Gaming was so largely a male-dominated thing that most people just assumed I was male.  The more brave of the guys would ask if I actually was a girl before they started to hit on me and try to lure me to their homes to “play together”.  Oh yeah, that was far more common than you might like to believe.  And I even went to visit a couple, but naive me thought that they were interested in the person that I was instead of my boobs.  Wrong.  Every time wrong.  Now, to be fair, I did end up marrying one of these guys and another is my longest-running friend (we have been talking online since 1996).  However, it seemed that I couldn’t play an online game session without someone sending me a message relating to sex in one way or another.

I quickly found that my place in gaming was as a sex object and that I was a rare commodity.  I didn’t really like the attention, but it was always there.  I like to think that I earned some respect through my game play, but that’s probably just wishful thinking.  Gaming for me wasn’t about my accomplishments as a gamer, but instead as my gender.  “So why is this a problem?”, you might be thinking to yourself.  This greatly affected my self esteem.  I wasn’t an equal in this community at all.  I was only there for their entertainment, and if I could play, that was just a bonus.  I don’t play online much anymore and haven’t much since I married my husband.  He is not one of those guys – he’s quite progressive and encourages me to do whatever I want in life.  We are equals and he treats me as such.

Many men that read this will likely think that I am a feminist and too sensitive.  I don’t dislike men.  In fact, I get along better with men than women.  I don’t believe that all of those guys are bad people, either.  I think the internet affords a sense of anonymity which allows them to say things that they would never say to the women that they know in their lives.  This is the same principle that applies to trolls online.  Nobody knows who they really are, so there are no consequences.  But obviously, the sentiment is most likely real and it is troubling.

poke-dance-780x345

Pokemon games have been collectible for a very long time.  If you were fortunate enough to have bought and kept them when they were first released, you likely have some very valuable items in your collection.  It is insane how valuable some of these games are today.  For example, I have Pokemon Soulsilver for the PSP, in its original box with an unused Pokewalker.  I got it for $50, but it now sells for over $125.  These prices are not going down, either.  I routinely see lots of four or five Pokemon DS/3DS games selling for over $250.

However, you need to be careful when purchasing these online as they are easy to counterfeit.  This is why you will see many Gameboy Original and Advance games going at cheaper prices.  They are SO easy to fake that most assume these are fake copies.  If you’re unsure, ask the seller for a picture of both the front and back of the cartridge.  Compare it to a picture of a real cart (found online) and make sure everything matches.  Pay special attention to the logo placements and the serial number.

If you’re buying on Ebay, look for the tell-tale seller signs.  If this person has a rating below 100, be cautious.  A lot of counterfeiters get caught and then create new IDs.  If it’s someone from China, it’s most likely a fake.  There are great deals to be had, just be careful.

I will post another day about identifying fake DS carts as I’ve become somewhat of an expert in the area.  When in doubt, you are very likely correct.