Friday, November 23, 2012

How I'm spending my 'Black Friday'

So, it's "Black Friday" here in North America.

For those of you who don't live here (I should mention, by the way, that I'm not at all sure if folks in Canada or Mexico "celebrate" this day, too), "Black Friday" is both the day after Thanksgiving and the first day of the holiday shopping season in our neck of the woods.

In regards to the latter part of that description, retailers here tend to open their doors extremely early on "Black Friday" (as early as midnight) and also promote rather insane deals in order to woo customers into their establishments.

Although a good number of Americans are braving the crowds, traffic and weather today, I am not one of them. What will I be doing instead of shopping? Why, playing games, of course. (OK, so I'll probably do a few other things, too--like put up some Christmas lights and, uh, contemplate my existence.)

As for which ones, here's a little rundown for all who are interested:

* For starters, I'm going to spend some time rearranging all of the "Harvest" furniture I spent two hours obtaining from Animal Crossing's Franklin the turkey last night. I'll probably also write lurid love letters to my newest neighbors: Cousteau the frog, Savannah the zebra and Tangy the cat.

* I'm also planning to make a good dent (not literally) in the copy of Paper Mario: Sticker Star that arrived on my doorstep last week. I've only spent about two hours with it so far, but already I'm loving the writing, the soundtrack and, surprise, the sticker-centric battles.

* Should I still have a bit of energy left for gaming after all of the above, I may pop my copy of Style Savvy: Trendsetters back into my 3DS and give it a go, too.

* Finally, I'm itching to download UFO Interactive's just-released PSP dungeon-crawler, Elminage Original. Considering I'm a bit broke at the moment (more on that in an upcoming post), though, that may not happen this weekend.

How are all of you planning to spend this holiday (if you're in the States) weekend?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm not going to lie, this has been a really challenging year for me. The main reasons: Since 2012 began, both my paternal and maternal grandmothers have died (the latter this past weekend) and my dad had a stroke--as did a good friend (again, this past weekend).

Given that, you could be forgiven for assuming I'm heading into this Thanksgiving day with a rather large and cynical chip on my shoulder. Well, you know what? I'm not. Oh, I absolutely hate that all of these things have happened to people I love dearly, but I also think these terrible events have helped me realize all (or at least some) of the things that I should be thankful for today and every other day of my life moving forward.

For instance, I'm thankful that I was able to spend as much time as I did with both of my grandmothers while they were alive. Also, I'm thankful for all of the things they taught me about myself and about life during those precious moments we had together.

I'm similarly thankful that my dad and friend survived their respective strokes. My dad, especially, has been changed--he's noticeably weaker than he was before all of this happened, for instance--by the strokes he suffered earlier this year, but in every way that is at all important he is the same, amazing, hilarious, loving man he's always been. I'm pretty sure the same will be true of my friend when all is said and done--and if that isn't something to be thankful for, well, I don't know what is.

A few other things I'm thankful for: My health, my husband, our family and friends, our jobs, our house, our cat (even when she's being a pain in the ass) and everything--and everyone--else that helps make my life fun, interesting, secure and all that jazz.

That includes all of you, by the way. I guess it may sound a bit silly to mention this blog and all that's related to it after talking about all of the "heavy" stuff above, but it--and all of you, too--plays an important role when it comes to making my life a lot more enjoyable than it would be otherwise.

Anyway, I'll get off my Thanksgiving soapbox now. Just know that I hope all of you have a wonderful day today (whether you're celebrating like us North Americans or you're just enjoying a regular Thursday elsewhere) and that you have at least a few things for which you're thankful.

Note: The festive GIF above was found on, and made by the two gals responsible for, the DreamingSoda blog

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A little bit of proof that TurboGrafx-16 box art didn't *always* suck

I've been as guilty as anyone over the years of spreading the message that the "art" (I use that word fairly loosely in this case) that graced the packaging of (most of the) games released for NEC's TurboGrafx-16--the would-be competitor of the Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System--was among the worst ever produced.

Although I continue to stand by that assertion, the truth is that a number of TurboGrafx-16 games featured cover art that wasn't completely atrocious. In fact, some of it is downright acceptable (if not altogether amazing). Hopefully the five examples below--arranged in alphabetical order--will help prove that point.

1. Alien Crush--Of all the cover art included in this post, this is probably the most mundane. Still, it does a pretty good job of showing off what the game's all about without being boringly straightforward.

2. Chew Man Fu--It has to be said that this odd game's box art is far less interesting than its Japanese counterpart (called Be Ball). That said, it's appealingly colorful, and the illustration of the mustachioed dude serving as its focus isn't hideous. Because of that, I think it more than earns a spot on this list.

3. The Legendary Axe--Full disclosure: I've never been much of a fan of this gritty platformer, despite the fact that every other TurboGrafx-16 owner back in the day slobbered over it like it was a photo of Daniel Craig in the buff. I've always liked its cover art, though--thanks it large part to the humongous spider that takes up most of its acreage.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I'm pretty sure our Christmas tree *needs* one of these ornaments

I know it's a little early to be talking about Christmas or any of the other upcoming winter holidays, but I think you'll forgive me for doing so once you lay your eyes on the Christmas-y thing about which I want to talk.

Showcased in the photo below is a GameBoy ornament (or keychain, if you prefer) that's currently being sold by Canadian fiber artist Michelle Coffee via her etsy shop.

A single 2.5-inch-by-3.25-inch ornament will set you back just over $12 (not including shipping, it seems)--which really isn't too much when you consider the, er, adorableness it'll add to your tree or wreath this holiday season.

See also: 'Kirby in process'

Monday, November 19, 2012

Raise your hand if you picked up a Wii U yesterday

To those of you with hands raised: Which bundle did you buy? And which games did you pick up alongside your shiny new console?

Sadly, I won't be adding the Wii U to my collection until sometime in 2013. In fact, I may wait until this time next year to purchase Nintendo's new system--although I could be swayed by, say, a summer release of a localized Dragon Quest X.

Oh, who am I kidding? It's more than likely that the five-punch combo of New Super Mario Bros. U, Nintendo Land, Pikmin 3, Wii Fit U and The Wonderful 101 will push me to pick up the darn thing before next autumn, but I'm going to do my best to hold out until then (mainly because of the ton of awesome 3DS games that are set to be released throughout 2013).

Still, I'd love to hear what those of you who decided to buy a Wii U on launch day think of it and its games, so please share your stories, opinions and more in the comments section of this post.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Don't mind me, I've just gone Animal Crossing crazy (again)

I don't know about you, but all of this talk about Animal Crossing: New Leaf--or Tobidase Dōbutsu no Mori, for those playing the just-released Japanese version--has me feeling a little, well, crazy.

What talk, you ask? For starters, there are blog posts like Chic Pixel's "Initial Animal Crossing: New Leaf Impressions" and "Gratuitous Animal Crossing 3DS LL/XL Photo Shoot"--both of which I've read and re-read more times than I'd prefer to admit over the last few days.

And then there's the spate of ads and promo videos that have been released in the wake of the Japanese iteration's release on Nov. 8. My favorite so far:

As for how I've been trying to quell this bout of Animal Crossing craziness: Would you believe I decided late last week to start a new town in the GameCube-based original?

My wide-eyed character, Mimi, is still getting a feel for the burgh she now calls home--Miminton, whose name was inspired by the import-only Wii game, Captain Rainbow--but I think both she and I will settle in soon enough. I just hope I don't settle in to the extent I did the last time I played it--as that experience lasted 80 hours (or more) and at least eight months.

Are any of you chomping at the bit to get your hands on this 3DS game? If so, has that desire caused you to make a return trip to the towns you created in the first Animal Crossing or in Wild World or City Folk?