Games, Talk, and Whatever Else

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#178 – Camplame Mode

A lot of ground to cover in a short while on the podcast this week! Tales of Telltales and Thrones, board games, Witchers, Bloodbornes, and more abound within.

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#177 — I’m Not Wearing Hockey Pants

No time for intro music this week. We jump straight into Batman talk with Charlie. Once we’re convinced Batman is an okay guy, we evoke ourselves in the face to talk Persona, accept some contracts to do some Witchin’, and use ONE FINGER to punch people to death.

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#176 – Welcome to the Future!

This week we go to the future with our E3 impressions.  We talk about soggy sandwiches in Chicago, other vacations, pigeon dating, lots of Destiny money, and motorcycle physics; and possibly break copyright laws.  It’s coming so you might as well just let it happen.

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#175 – Magic Kickball

Will finishing his Gunslinging days, David updates us on how he did in the Magic Tournament of Champions, and Matthew does what he does best.

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#174 – Viva la Cruise

Will’s back from his fancy cruise with stories to tell.  Matthew continues to play Xenoblade Chronicles.  David something something Crypt of the Necrodancer.  And some other stuff too!

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#173 — Seek a Way Out!

Episode 173 is here to stay! Charlie finished VLR, David’s gaming is Endless, while Matthew’s games are endless. Stay tuned after the credits for a special bonus scene involving the Avengers eating schwarma and discussing VLR spoilers.

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#172 – Game Exchange!

Game Exchange!

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#171 – Baby Pictures

Charlie, Matthew, and David reflect on the intervening weeks and what little has been happening as of late.  Oh and some video games are in there somewhere.

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Charlie Time – The New 3DS

For new parents (like me), days go by in a flash.  The time between getting home from work and going to sleep is filled with feeding my son, walking around with him, and taking turns with my wife to eat dinner.  We are way too busy for things like Valentine’s Day.  But luckily we both have parents that live close enough to babysit on occasions like that.  So the weekend after Valentine’s Day, with GiGi and Grandpa holding down the fort, April took me to get whatever I wanted for a Valentines present.  So we went to the store and she bought me the New Nintendo 3DS XL.

It is kind of crazy that I would even want the New 3DS.  I got an original 3DS in 2011, and then upgraded to the 3DS XL when that came out a couple of years ago. ( I love the larger screen of the XL and I could never go back to that original screen size.)  But a few things about this new model piqued my interest.  Plus, with a baby, I usually only get to play games for a few minutes at a time.  So a new handheld was an investment that would not go unused.

So I got a New 3DS.  I have now had it for a month, and I like it quite a bit.  It is by far the best 3DS out there.  I love how sturdy it feels.  One thing I never liked about the first XL is how flimsy and cheap it felt.  I didn’t even notice it right away, but after a few weeks I really felt it creaking.  For a while I thought I had just gotten a lemon, but then I read that all of the 3DS XL’s had this problem.  The flimsiness was never a functional issue, but it always drove me crazy.  The New 3DS does not have this problem, and I am so glad to have a 3DS that feels great in my hands.

My New 3DS – in all its red glory.

My favorite new feature of the New 3DS is the super-stable 3D.  It uses an infrared camera placed just above the top screen to keep track of your eyes and adjusts the 3D projection angle as you move the 3DS.  On the older model, even moving the 3DS slightly could cause the 3D to break into a double-vision blur, and I usually just ended up turning the 3D all the way off.  Now I have the 3D up all the time and it looks great.  The only time it breaks is when I turn my head to look at something else.  When I look back at the 3DS, I can see the double vision image for a split second before it pops back into focus.  It’s actually kind of fun to play with, and it’s amazing how quickly the IR camera can pick up my eyes.

The first game I played on my New 3DS was The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, one of my favorite games ever, and definitely one of the best in the 3DS library.  Ocarina has a first person aiming feature that uses the 3DS gyroscope, and though it can be pretty uncomfortable (and silly looking) to use it 100% of the time, I think using it in tandem with the circle pad as coarse and fine aiming tools works very nicely.  However, on the older 3DS, using the gyroscope feature with the 3D on almost always broke the focus.  The New 3DS keeps focus through all of my gyroscopic hookshot aiming, and I am free to use 3D and look crazy holding my 3DS above my head at the same time.

There are still a few problems with the 3D in Ocarina, like ghost images appearing on the sides of the screen, but I think that is a problem with the game itself going too strong on its 3D effect.  More recent 3DS games have toned it down on the 3D.  The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds has a much more subdued 3D effect, but it still makes the game pop, and it doesn’t have any of those ghost image problems.

I am really excited to play Majora’s Mask, too.  I haven’t played that game since it came out on the Nintendo 64, and I remember really liking it, particularly the large town with so many things to do.  I know it sounds like I only play Zelda games (and they are great), but those just happen to be the ones I am excited about right now.  I will get to other games like Phoenix Wright and Mario Golf after I get through my Zelda fix.

The other features of the New 3DS are cool, like the increased battery life, which seems significantly better, and the faster processor.  It is actually reasonably fast now to hit the Home button during a game.  I haven’t used the new nub that is supposed to act like a second circle pad, but games that require two joysticks to play are not what I come to the 3DS for.  There is one announced game that is exclusive for the New 3DS, Xenoblade Chronicles.  I have put so much time into the Wii version (like 40 hours) that it would pain me to start over again on a new copy, but it is a great game and it would be fun to be able to pop it up for a few minutes at a time while Chase and I are roaming the house.

Taking down the Ice Cavern during a power nap.

It’s great, but it’s not perfect.  The memory card is exceedingly difficult to get to, and the one that comes with the system is kind of small (4 GB).  Because there is no account system, the only way to get my purchased digital content on my new system is to do a system transfer process that is way too complicated.  Although after I did it once, I haven’t needed to struggle with it again.

Nintendo is a company that has historically prided itself on being about the experience and keeping things simple, almost in an Apple kind of way. They often try to hide the technical elements of their products, like on the Wii when they went so far as to change the downloaded sizes of games into units of “blocks” – a made up unit so you wouldn’t have to see words like “megabytes” on their system.  So it seems backwards that buying a new 3DS or a Wii U involves a lengthy and complicated setup process, while my Playstation 4 and Vita were ready to go right out of the box – with all of my games ready to download just by typing in my password once.  But Nintendo will be getting a new account program that is part of their recently announced mobile initiative.  Hopefully they can make a sensible solution to a problem that their competitors figured out a long time ago.

But even with the rough edges, Nintendo products are still a blast.  I play my New 3DS as much as I can because it has great games, some of them new and some of them old with some touch ups.  And besides the network/account issues that all Nintendo systems have, it is a great piece of hardware.  It may not be a necessary upgrade if you already have one, but I am really enjoying my new model.  And if you don’t have a 3DS and are looking to jump in, the New Nintendo 3DS XL is the one to get.

 

Charlie Time – An Introduction

My life has been a whirlwind for the past few months.  It has been the best time of life, and simultaneously turned everything I know on its head.  My son Chase is now 2 months old.  He smiles.  He tries to talk.  I am starting to see both me and his mother in his face.  It has been such an amazing experience.  But it is also a lot of work.  A lot of work for both me and my wife.  My wife is amazing, and has insisted that I keep doing the podcast in order to maintain a part of myself – which parents of a newborn can tell you, is very difficult.  But doing so requires a Herculean effort on her part, and I cannot ask her to do that every week.  So I am still going to be on the podcast, but not with the regularity I have been until now.

 

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And that is why I am writing here in this space.  There has not been very much content on the Ball Pit Elevator that is not in podcast form, but that is changing now.  I am going to write a weekly (hopefully) column where I will discuss all kinds of things: new games I’ve been playing, new shows I am watching, old favorites I want to revisit, or being a new dad.  Writing this column will give me a more regular outlet since I won’t be able to podcast as much as before.  I’m sure I will play around with formats, so expect this column to evolve over the next few weeks and months.  I am looking forward to starting a new adventure in a new medium.  And why not?  Everything else in my life right now feels like a new adventure.

 

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Consider this an introduction.  For now, I am going to try to post a new column every weekend.  I don’t know what I am going to write about yet – I have been playing Hotline Miami 2, watching lots of Burn Notice, and taking Chase to the park.  Or I might write about something that hasn’t even happened to me yet.  Either way, I hope you enjoy reading all of my thoughts and musings here.  And I look forward to seeing any comments or emails that you have.