I was on my way to completing the second act of my Final Fantasy V Four Job Fiesta run, and I wondered why my Hi-Potions and Phoenix Downs stopped working properly on Krile. I then realized that I’d unknowingly equipped her with the cursed Bone Mail. It provides a healthy defensive boost, but with the nasty side effect of turning its wearer Undead – where Potions hurt instead of heal, and Phoenix Downs kill you outright.
I’m not sure if there’s a hidden benefit to wearing the Bone Mail that’s worth being unable to heal during combat, but I don’t see it.Once I removed the cursed armor and gave Krile an Angel Robe, the rest of the dungeon went a lot more smoothly. I figured out a trick to avoid getting curb-stomped by Gilgamesh and Exdeath, and now I’m on the third and (hopefully) final leg of my journey.
I purchased a Belkin wireless USB adapter to replace my Netgear-brand model because it had problems with interrupted connections. This new one is somewhat more secure, except the connection breaks every time I try to stream anything to my Twitch channel. Until I get a chance to purchase a network card that can handle video streaming, I won’t be able to add anything to it.
On the bright side, I still can post videos and highlights and stuff on YouTube, now that I’ve figured out the proper recording settings for my XSplit Broadcaster. It took me a while to upload them, but I also got some decent-quality highlight reels from Mario Kart 8, as well.
Here’s a quick race on Toad Harbor as Wario:
And here’s a battle mode round as Peach on Mario Circuit:
After 500+ hours of creating, destroying, playing with and resetting my Sims’ lives, I’ve decided to pull the plug on The Sims 3. I don’t think it’s healthy for me to wake up at 4 in the morning to play a game where I’m likely to just delete the save and start a new one. I could probably use the reclaimed space (at least 40 GB worth after uninstalling the base game, all of the expansion and stuff packs, as well as Origin, which was required for patching) to re-install some of my seldom used Steam games…
I promised myself that I’d revisit the TooManyGames convention after skipping it in 2013. I’d attended Comic-Con the same month, and I thought going to both conventions would put too much of a strain on my wallet, so I only went to Comic-Con. This year, Comic-Con and TooManyGames were on consecutive weekends, but as the first one fell on a payday week for me, I was better prepared to absorb the blow and was able to go to both.
My experience at TooManyGames was a lot more personal and hands-on than my trip to Comic-Con last week, so there’s a lot more for me to talk about. In no particular order, here’s all that happened during my second venture to Oaks this past Saturday:
- As expected, the convention floor was loaded with video games from every conceivable video game system ever released – Atari games, Nintendo games, Sega games, PlayStation games, and I think I even spotted some ColecoVision and Vectrex stuff there. I picked up a few uncommon NES games that had been on my collection list for a while – 3-D WorldRunner (the first Square game to be released in the U.S.), Abadox, Adventures of Dino Riki, Iron Tank, and Rollerball. I also got Warrior of Rome II, a Genesis game that’s somewhat harder to find than the other ones I just listed, but not as obscure as something like, say, Crusader of Centy. I was actually in the market for a replacement copy of Warsong, since the save battery died out on that long ago, but luckily the Warrior of Rome II game seems to work just fine for now.
- The copy of Gauntlet I bought at a flea market a month ago wouldn’t play on my Hyperkin, so I bought a different one at the convention, and it has the same problem – the first level is glitched out and renders the game unplayable. I guess I’ll have to get an official NES now so that I can play the game.
- I wanted to get an autograph from James Rolfe, a.k.a. The Angry Video Game Nerd (he and his buddies attend TooManyGames every year, since they live in the Philadelphia area), but he wasn’t available until 5 PM, and I left at 4 PM after doing everything I wanted to do, so I bought the first few collections of his video reviews.
- I spotted Amber Davis’ booth again (she was the artist who drew the Pokemon caricature of me last week), and I bought a few bookmarks from her for myself, and a Hello Kitty bottle cap keychain for my sister, because she loves all things Hello Kitty.
- One of the larger tables sold Skylanders figurines, so I reached out and purchased a Series 1 Spyro figure for $5, less than half of what the new-generation Skylanders cost. I took it home to play with Skylanders: SWAP Force expecting to have to start him out at level 1, but when I loaded Spyro into the game, he was already at level 10 with all of his moves unlocked. Apparently, character level information is actually stored within the figurine itself, rather than the game, which is actually pretty cool. I wonder if the previous owner had played with Spyro in SWAP Force or one of the earlier Skylanders games, as this could have pleasant implications by the time Trap Team rolls around later this year.
- I also got to meet MegaRan (he bills himself as “Random aka MegaRan”, but I think this is easier to fit on a business card) a guy who does video game-themed rap tunes.Hehad a couple of his “Language Arts” CDs for sale at his table, so after meeting him in person for the first time after following him and his music on Twitter for a few years, I bought one. I almost wish I’d bought a Sunday ticket so that I could stay for his concert.
- I’d seen plenty of tables selling video games, tabletop games, playing cards (for Magic the Gathering, Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh, etc.), but the Storyteller Card booth was totally new to me. It comes in a standard deck of 54 poker-sized playing cards, each one with a unique illustration designed to give the player ideas for writing a story or a screenplay. The cards also have poker suits and can be used (sort of) as regular playing cards, if one is so inclined. The manual was only available as a download from the Storyteller Cards website, but it had a lot of ideas on how to create games using the cards. Most of them require multiple players, so I had to try using the few single-player games (such as Director’s Cut, where you try to make a movie pitch using eight cards) to get some story ideas going. I don’t know if any of them will blossom into full-on stories, but it’s a start. The website says there’s a fantasy set of cards in the works, so I may try that out as well.
- Behind all of the shop tables was a big section for independent game developers. I read that Cipher Prime was going to be at the table again, so I went straight to their table as soon as I was able to get in. They showed off Pulse and Intake on iPad, and a prototype for Auditorium Duet on PS4. The first Auditorium was released on PS3 a few years ago, and I’m told that this new game will incorporate a level editor and different styles of music to complete the classical/orchestral tunes already present in the game.
- Most of the indie booths didn’t have much that appealed to me, but there were a few games that caught my interest: Treasure Adventure World, an HD version of Treasure Adventure Game; Coin Crypt, an RPG where you descend into an ever-changing dungeon and fight enemies using a variety of coins, and a fairy tale-inspired RPG called Dragon Fin Soup. Of these three, only Coin Crypt was available for me to purchase right away (on Steam Early Access), but the other two should probably be out within the next year after successful Kickstarter funding campaigns.
- After browsing the Level Up Studios table during my last visit to TooManyGames, I bought one of their T-shirts this time around. The one I bought was based on an Internet meme of the player character’s villager from Animal Crossing, glaring menacingly at the player with an axe in his hand and a caption that reads “You came to the wrong village” (this meme has more to do with the upcoming Super Smash Bros. game on 3DS and Wii U than it does Animal Crossing, since the Villager was confirmed to be a playable character).
- Of course, it wouldn’t be a video game convention without the opportunity to play some video games yourself. I saw a few arcade cabinets of Punch-Out!! and Centipede, and a few tables with consoles hooked up to them for games like The King of Fighters, Mario Kart 8, a port of the original Mortal Kombat (I think it might have been the Super Nintendo version, which despite being heavily censored, had better sound and animation than the Genesis port), the new Killer Instinct, and perhaps the most out of place of all, the Intellivision port of Burgertime.
- I didn’t participate in any tournaments this year. I came close to winning a round of Super Street Fighter IV Arcade edition the last time I came out, but on Saturday I watched from the sidelines as a large crowd gathered for a tournament of the Super Smash Bros. Brawl mod “Project M”, which is designed to make the game faster and more in line with Super Smash Bros. Melee, a game that’s still extremely popular for tournament play despite being almost 15 years old. I’m not sure whether or not it was the characters that people chose to play with (I only saw part of a Kirby vs. Marth match), but it didn’t feel that much different from Melee or Brawl to me. Maybe I need to watch a few more games under different conditions to really get into it.
- One side of that “console gaming” table had a whole line of PCs loaded with Touhou Project games. Aside from the mainline shoot-em-ups, there’s a huge community of fan games and fan art for the series. I sat down and played a few of the fighting games against a couple of players who were more experienced than I was. I went 1-for-3 in a game whose title roughly translates as “Scarlet Weather Rhapsody”, but then I played a newer one that I’d never seen or played before, and somehow won three straight matches almost by luck. If there were an easy way for me to find and buy these games, I’d do so without delay. I’d played a few of the earlier Windows-based games after locating English-language patches for them, but almost nothing since “Perfect Cherry Blossom”.
- I was surprised to see that Noah “The Spoony One” Antwiler had a panel here, so I lined up to sit in on a Mystery Science Theater 3000-style riff of the first episode of an anime called Final Fantasy Unlimited. After some technical difficulties that took almost 15 minutes to get the right show started up, we finally got to watch and laugh along. After his takedowns of Final Fantasies VIII, X, X-2, and XIII, I expect him to eventually do an in-depth review of The Spirits Within, that really bad all-CGI movie that cost Square a whole lot of money and forced them to merge with Enix in order to survive.
- Spoony’s jokes were a hell of a lot better than the voice acting in the dub of the show. I took a good look at the credits, and it says that the series was licensed by ADV Films, but I didn’t see a single one of their regular staple of voice actors in the credits – just a bunch of C- and D-list actors that I don’t recognize from any other series. Maybe I’m wrong and need to watch more ADV series (outside of the ones like Azumanga Daioh and Excel Saga that actually had decent voice acting), but the dubbing and writing in this episode of FFU were pretty bad all around, especially from the two child main characters who sounded like rejects from a Peanuts holiday special.
- For the second weekend in a row, my Nintendo 3DS was flooded with StreetPass pings, including some for Shovel Knight, which had only been released a few days ago. There were so many convention visitors playing games on their 3DS units, I think that there was maybe 1 out of every 50 people with a 3DS on the convention floor. It’s too bad there wasn’t a single person with a PlayStation Vita on hand. I think its Near service would have gained a lot more traction if it were peer-to-peer like the 3DS’ StreetPass function instead of having to be near a wi-fi connection.
I think this is going to be the last convention I visit for the year. Otakon is going to start up in Baltimore this August, but it’s going to be too costly for me to attend, since I’d have to buy a round-trip train ticket as well as purchase an advance ticket to the convention and book a hotel room for the entire weekend. Maybe one year I’ll actually go down, but this isn’t it.