Update on the PC

Huh? Oh, right, yeah, the blog post. Well, here’s the thing: My laptop’s doomed. If I try to run anything more intensive than, say, Minecraft, the poor machine flares into a ball of starfire and shuts itself down. Naturally, then, I’ve not been playing much other than Pokemon Black. Go and read that chain of tweets if you’re eager for some sort of gaming content from me today! (Er… just bear in mind that my comedy is based somewhat on profane overreaction in my Twitter feed.)

Now… I said the PC would be up and running by Tuesday. Well, it’s Thursday, and it’s all here, but I (rather stupidly) didn’t forsee the thing coming without the graphics card and motherboard being pre-installed. Now, I’m rather nifty with the software side of things, but hardware is an entirely different story, and as this is a rather pricey piece of equipment and computer innards are as susceptible to breakage as a British government is to self-sabotage, I’ve enlisted someone to help me. They’ll be out on Saturday.

In the meantime, I’ll be in the corner twiddling my thumbs and giving my 3DS the love it deserves.

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Exercise in a Safely Pokemon-Themed Environment (Pokemon GO)

“I’m gonna take your gym,” says a cocky Youngster who would otherwise never approach me to speak.

“Try me,” I sneer back, before remembering that I’m still level 5 and my Pokemon have disastrous CP. And so I get schooled by somebody 6 years younger than me who swaggers off to join his mates.

My friend returns, and I get them to help me take the gym back before we continue walking for miles in search of Pokestops and wild Pokemon who aren’t Pidgey.

Thus is the phenomenon of Pokemon GO. This many young people haven’t taken to the streets and openly socialised since before the dark and wonderful ages of the internet. This is the kind of tech that you take back in time with you to astound the 90’s version of yourself, and in all honesty, you’d probably have a better chance of connecting to the servers there.

Pokemon has shunted its way back into the public spotlight through Nintendo’s ongoing Slowbro realisation that smartphones are actually a rather popular thing that most people use nowadays. There’s plenty of genwunner fogeys on the internet who are grumbling about ‘closet Pokemon players’ and people who have ‘no idea what Pokemon is’ simply playing it because it’s popular. Screw that. Nintendo and Niantic are getting new people to engage with a 20 year old franchise, and that’s wonderful. I just read that sales of old Pokemon games are spiking rapidly as new players flock to their handhelds, and as a late-term WoW player I feel the need to stress that you should never discourage more people discovering your favourite game series late into that series’ life.

Onto the actual game, though. After picking a Squirtle as my starter by accident (I swear I’d read that you could pick all 3, so just went with a random order) it has become my mission to find a Bulbasaur and catch it harder than the common cold. In my travels the other day, I did come across a very collectible looking Charmander, sitting at 132 CP and waiting for me on my bed after I’d just come home from a hard day’s Pokemon hunting. Reinvigorated by the little guy’s appearance, I sent wave after wave of Pokeballs at him until I finally caught the little bastard. I couldn’t be happier.

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Here’s the little guy. Isn’t he adorable? *pinches cheek*

One of my favourite parts about the game is playing it on a bus. Unfortunately, as most buses go over 20mph, you won’t be hatching many eggs as your little avatar sprints like hell down the road, but you will be pinging Pokestops and desperately swiping them before they go out of range. You’ll also be desperately trying to catch any cool Pokemon which pop up for much the same reason. I managed to snag a much-coveted Abra as my bus idled at a red light, but unfortunately the Fearow that popped up as we chugged along managed to get away from me.

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This might have been my happiest moment in the game so far. I’m talking punching the air levels of happiness here.

I’m personally a huge fan of the way evolution works in this game. One title I’ve always wanted (but never picked up because of typical 3DS pricing) is a game from the Pokemon Rumble series. Unless my memory escapes me, this is a game in which you evolve your Pokemon by collecting many of that same type, and Pokemon GO is almost no different, bar the candy system. And sure, it’s going to be a pain in the ass evolving rare Pokemon like good ol’ Charmander, but there’s just part of the… charm.

That pun was not intended but I’m going to pretend that it was.

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Hatched this guy from my first ever egg. But hey, no sweat, only…. 395 Magikarp candy to go…

So no matter how CharizHARD it is to evolve your collection (somebody please stop me), it’ll be great fun to try and collect all 151 again. And I’m excited for the day when they add further generations of Pokemon in there, too… though I’d prefer that they focused on implementing trading and battling anywhere, first. Much as I love Pokemon GO, it does feel like a somewhat unfinished game due to the lack of these features. And I don’t pass by enough gyms that I can actually compete into make use of my plethora of potions and revives and free up some bag space for even more Pokeballs.

So, update on the whole WoW prepatch situation. The good news is that it’s out! The bad news is that my laptop reaches 85 degrees centigrade after 15 minutes of running the game. I’m aware that cleaning my laptop is the answer to this (and the can of compressed air which I ordered a MONTH ago is still lost in the post), but even when idling and running nothing but Chrome, my laptop reaches 60 degrees easily. HP state that anything over 35 will damage the interior components of the laptop and cause further overheating issues. So my laptop is pretty much boned.

The good news? This time next week I should (hopefully) have the beast of a PC that I’ve always wanted. No more low settings or bad framerates, no more compromises. It’s gonna be pretty freakin’ great, and I can’t wait to take you all along with me as I experience it.

Bad news is I’m

An Unexpected Surprise (10,000,000)

10,000,000 is a game I picked up through the 14th Humble PC and Android Bundle. It’s a game that’s been on the edge of my radar for a few years, and every time I’ve clicked over to it out of renewed curiosity, I’ve left without much of an impression being made on me. For one, I typically prefer Match-3 games where you swap tiles instead of sliding the whole column or row across, and furthermore, it initially looked difficult to concentrate on matching specific tiles on the board in order to correspond with what was happening above. It was, however, in the fabled first tier of a Humble Bundle, and as such seemed like a purchase worth making.

For once in my misguided purchasing history, I was right!

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You may be locked in a dungeon, but at least they gave you a bed. And shops!

A game which is somewhat similar (if not more advanced) than 10,000,000 is Puzzle Quest, a game which I bought a little while previously in the hopes of finding the perfect RPG / Match-3 hybrid. 10,000,000, however, far surpasses Puzzle Quest in my eyes, mostly because of its simpler nature. Everything you need to know about 10,000,000 is presented to you within its tileset, and whilst choosing between certain abilities and upgrades is admittedly part of the RPG experience, 10,000,000’s simple upgrade system (where you can eventually choose all of them) is, in my opinion, better suited to the Match-3 genre. And plus, it has achievements. That’ll always help rope me in.

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Here’s the character upgrade screen. As you can see, I’ve unlocked everything. I’m pretty resourceful!

Bear in mind that 10,000,000 is something of a short game, as I’m approaching the end at 5 hours in. These have, however, been a very satisfying 5 hours thus far, and it may help that I also picked up its sequel, You Must Build A Boat, in the second tier of the Humble Bundle. In 10,000,000, I have so far completely upgraded my staff and fully upgraded my character’s skills. Sure, it’d be nice if the game were a little longer, but in all honesty there’s nothing to stop you from continuing to play the base game when you’ve fully upgraded every attribute of your character and his gear, and trying to get the highest score that you can. This is one of those games that I enjoy playing whilst listening to a podcast or two.

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This might be the first game I’ve seen where poison damage is achieved through magic.

I’m aware that this has blog post has been about half its usual length so far, but that’s because there’s not too much I can find to talk about when it comes to a 5 hour long, fairly minimal Match-3 game, no matter how much I enjoy it. I’m going to use this space, then, to talk about the upcoming events in World of Warcraft and how that will affect this blog.

As you may know, I’m an avid WoW player. It’s my jam. I feel at home in this game, fully attuned to every aspect of it (apart from maybe PvP), have played thousands of hours in it, and will therefore be blogging about it over the next few weeks and months. In a few days, the pre-expansion patch will have released, bringing with it all of the changes to the base game that will be coming to the game along with the expansion; this includes class abilities / rotations, quality of life updates like the new transmog system, and much more. In the coming weeks after that, they’ll be releasing the pre-expansion events, including the demon invasion and the Broken Shore scenario, and eventually access to Demon Hunters ahead of the expansion’s release on August 30th.

Here’s the thing. I know that statistically, most of the people who read this blog won’t be WoW players (which is the same reason why I have a separate Twitter account for my WoW ramblings). I don’t want to drive people away with blog post after blog post of WoW updates. Therefore, apart from maybe the launch of Legion which would be covered like any other game, I’ll be putting out additional blog posts regarding the pre-patch and its events if I feel inclined to do so in the first place.

The Secret Double Life of a Villager (Animal Crossing)

Sometimes, I like to play World of Warcraft and smite my demonic foes. Sometimes I play Unreal Tournament and go on a massive killing spree. Sometimes I boot up Rocket League and roar at my screen when my teammates are idiots. But sometimes, beyond all that, all I really want to do is live in a little virtual town with animal friends and make money by catching fish, selling fruit and working to build a better house.

Animal Crossing: City Folk was one of the main reasons I got a Wii back in 08, and it was my first Animal Crossing game. I don’t remember where I’d heard about the series (I vaguely recollect an online forum based around Wii titles called friendcodes.com), but it’s up there with Minecraft, WoW, Spore and Terraria as one of those few games that caused me to almost leap out of my seat with excitement when I first laid eyes on it. From there, I watching Animal Crossing Let’s Plays on Youtube (there was a great Gamecube one I remember fondly) and pining for a title in the series until I finally acquired my Wii.

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After much digging, I managed to find this screenshot from my City Folk save on an old website. Excuse the quality.

Eventually, however, due to the nature of the Wii in having to set it up whenever you wanted to play (sometimes getting the Wiimotes to sync to the sensor bar was a bitch), I got sick of playing it, and moved on with my life to let my town become overgrown with weeds and abandonment. I’d actually become interested in the previous title in the series, Wild World, as it was a DS title and was therefore more easily accessible. I believe it was Christmas 2010 when I got the game, and to my delight one of my villagers was a penguin named Aurora. Later, when I’d abandoned my town and restarted with a new one, Aurora once more moved in, following me between saves. I think she’s my favourite villager.

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Erm… woops.

But the latest entry in the series (unless you count Happy Home Designer) is New Leaf, and I made sure to pick that one up alongside my 3DS. The quality-of-life changes are delightful, the graphical updates much appreciated (although I do miss the old grass somewhat) and the game as a whole feels familiar, but better. I recently decided to try out Wild World again and found that I couldn’t adjust back after being spoiled by New Leaf. I think my favourite part about New Leaf – besides them fixing the hastily deteriorating grass found in City Folk – is the ability to choose the beautiful town ordinance, making the age old dilemma of your town being overrun with weeds nonexistent. I can abandon my village without having to worry about restarting when I return, or spending an hour de-weeding the entire village.

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Yes, Queenie. Yes I do.

I’m not entirely sure what it is that keeps pulling me back to Animal Crossing. I’ve never fully paid off my debts and acquired the largest house, or maintained a perfect town or grown much of a bond with my villagers (besides Aurora in Wild World).  But every few months or so I’ll get this little niggling at the back of my brain to go back and play more, and I’ll do everything there is to do in a day in the game, every day for a week or two, until I give up on the debt again. But I’ll always return, no matter how many Animal Crossing inspired games I play in-between.

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Yes, Ed. It’s so quiet. I’m not sure I’ve seen anyone besides you today. Where did everybody go?

One last thing: If you love the Animal Crossing soundtrack as much as I do, consider trying out this website. It plays the appropriate soundtrack for the time of the day, and you can choose between games in the bottom right. It can make life pretty peaceful!