Sunday, January 25, 2015

Game Haul: Professor Layton: Dinosaur Hunter

Note: This was written on Friday, January 23, 2015.

I noticed people seem to be really into "haul" videos (videos where a vlogger showcases what they've recently purchased or acquired). For a long time I thought about why many hundreds of people—and myself—were interested in watching somebody talk about what they bought. The answer still eludes me, for the most part, but after reading and participating in what is essentially a hauls thread on a forum I frequent, I realized a great part of the fun is in listening to a person's opinions of media you're familiar with, or of learning what kind of person they are by looking at what they buy over a period of time, or introducing yourself to new material by studying the things purchased by people whose tastes typically align with yours. I think a certain part of it is primal. An ancient social desire. Everybody wants to feel accepted; knowing that somebody else out there has purchased that awful Howard the Duck miniseries kind of vindicates you. Anyways, I thought I'd give haul blogging a try, since I have absolutely awful microphone-fright.

Let's cut right to the chase.

It's not much to behold, but this here's the entirety of yesterday's "haul". Money is something I'm trying to do a better job holding onto after the spending frenzy Nintendo's Deluxe Digital Promotion had me in for 2014, but as an avid media consumer and collector it's difficult to pass things up. So I set myself a twenty-dollar spending limit when I went out. Only went a single George Washington over.

The first thing I'm going to talk about, and the thing I primarily went out to grab, is the Nintendo eShop card. Originally I wasn't going to include it in the post at all, because gift cards just don't hold quite the same allure as more defined items. Eventually I decided to go ahead and put it in because I went at it with a specific plan. That plan was the Super Indie Connection Sale #2. Make sure you read the fine print if you plan on taking advantage of that sale (which you definitely should) because I didn't and, man, I was pretty bummed out when I got home. You see, my plan was to have about five dollars left in my account after picking up this:

Unfortunately the sale isn't a straight 60% off... you have to purchase a title from the selection of six at full price before the other titles get the discount. I felt a little cheated at first, because I didn't have enough to buy Guacamelee! at its full price ($14.99) and it looked like the other titles were expensive enough that I wouldn't have sufficient funds left over to nab it at the reduced price ($5.99). Even worse: Guacamelee! never impressed me enough to want to spend fifteen dollars on it. Seeing it at e3 definitely put it on my radar, but I've been burned before, and fifteen is a hefty price for a virtual unknown. Basically if I couldn't have it at the sale price, I was just going to hang onto my ten dollars until something more worthwhile came around. That's when I saw...

Swords & Soldiers is a game I remember as having come out for the Nintendo Wii shortly before my Nintendo Power subscription ran dry. At the time it was a game I really wanted to give a go, but my interest absolutely sunk once the gameplay videos started rolling out. It looked so much like a typical Facebook game that I was worried it would be littered with micro-transactions and fluttery physics. Not that Flash games are bad, mind you—I just feel like they belong on Newgrounds with ad-supported revenue. Regardless, it was my $2.99 gateway to the six-dollar Guacamelee!, so I took it. I figured nine dollars to try out two indie titles that always had my attention was a good deal.

At GameStop (which I went to for the eShop card) I dug through their little rack of budget Nintendo DS games. Let me just take a moment to say that the boxes they keep these games in are far too deep to have them stacked. It's almost impossible to flip through them all without nearly knocking the whole display to the ground. Also, it's an awful shame what they do to these poor games—if you're going to deal in used video games, you need to understand the value of the casing, artwork, and paperwork. They have some real balls, disposing of all this stuff and still being the top game retailer in the country. I digress; there were some cheap one and two dollar games that called to me as a collector and a person interested in trying out new games. Adhering to my budget, however, I boldly settled on a somewhat pricier game I was sure would be good.

The Professor Layton franchise is one I've been meaning to get into since it debuted so many years ago. Unfortunately, I never got around to it when I was younger—and now six or seven games into the story, it's always been a more daunting endeavor than I've cared to give time to. For $5.99 I figured it was finally time to give this series a try. Too bad this isn't the first game. That'll teach me to conduct proper research from now on. Made some real dunce moves in that regard, between the Indie sale and the Layton game. Still, I might give this a try even if I can't get my hands on Curious Village. The art and character designs are just too appealing to keep away.

Next stop was an awesome little store called Collec-Tiques. They handle the antiquities of pop culture, chief among their wares being video games. While they have no shortage of the true classics (NES, SNES, Genesis), I always zoom in on the mid-nineties. There's a few reasons for that. Mainly it's about nostalgia—I've spent a lot of time trying to reclaim the video games I lost in my childhood. Things get traded, you know? Traded to friends, lost because you're a crappy six-year-old, "lost" because certain members of your immediate family are technophobes. That's not to say this era is all about pure nostalgia; as a child I grew up on Nintendo's home consoles (NES, SNES, later on the Nintendo 64) with limited access to handhelds and other consoles. I had the Pok√©mon games, sure, and Sonic has always been a big part of my life, but my meager assortment of Game Boy titles was laughable and Sega kind of disappeared as far as I was concerned. And PlayStation? Back in those days the console wars were hot. I wouldn't be caught dead playing with Sony's PieceaShit. That makes me weep for Little Nate, because these days I absolutely adore original PlayStation titles and the Game Boy library is full of magical gems. However, this visit I stuck with trusty ol' N64.

The first game I got was Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. I've been collecting the N64 Turok games this year as I had the first two when I was young. Finally I've reclaimed this little beauty—and it's in pretty good shape! This one came essentially free as I got it on credit. Traded a handful of memory cards (PS2, PS, GCN) and a few other odds-and-ends, and it's certainly worth it. Too bad I forgot my N64 memory card is corrupt. If it's not one thing it's another... Well, that can come later. For now I'm just glad to have this Jurassic gem back where it belongs.

Wrapping things up (both the post and my Turok N64 collection) is Turok: Rage Wars. This one cost a mere $4.00 as I still had one extra in credit. The only fifth-generation Turok game I'm less familiar with is Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion. What I do know is that Rage Wars is some kind of non-canon with a TimeSplitters-style emphasis on multiplayer competition and making absolutely every programmed organism a playable character. That's the thing that always made me want to play this game. After getting my hands on Turok 2: Seeds of Evil and watching The Lost World: Jurassic Park I was obsessed with compies, which are these little chirping dinosaurs that don't seem like much because they're only ankle-high, but man can they swarm. And you know what?

You can play as them in Rage Wars.

I'm feeling excited all over again. After all these years, after fervently watching my childhood friend tackle this title in a single weekend rental, after gazing at my dwindling (and at long last rekindling) game collection, I can play as compies!

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