A Roadmap For Summer…

I recently received notification that I had earned a handful of followers on the blog, and as a courtesy for both them and for my readers who are already awaiting my return.

Since we’re about a month away from when my academic year ends and summer begins, I can give a ballpark estimate to when I’ll be back. My classes end on May 14th and exams are finished on the 21st. I am not worried about my academic standing, since I am doing just fine.

A few things have changed, and it’s been a hell of a rollercoaster ride this semester, but I have a few things I want to discuss.

The one subject that has generated a lot of buzz for me in my offline life is my experience with friends-with-benefits arrangements. I specifically want to mention this because I saw a lot of people glorifying or romanticizing such a setup. Although I have alluded to it before, I want to give it a full treatment.

I also want to talk about my experience with depression, as I’ve found more and more that a conversation about the subject is urgently needed. Aside from the heavier subjects, I do have a handful of fun things planned!

I have been quietly expanding my collection of board games. I have also gotten into some new tabletop adventures! Other than that, I’ll have an open schedule during the summer. See you then!

An Ode to the Light Gun Shooter

For the most part, I am relatively okay with losing arcades. The arcade experience was something that I like out of nostalgia, but admittedly I also really dig the home gaming experience. There is, however, one thing I do definitely miss.

Remember light gun shooters? Oh man, now those were some good times.

I remember playing a copy of Time Crisis on my PSOne in the good old days of 1997, I still have a disc actually. I had played a handful of light gun shooters before, or at least saw them. But it was Time Crisis that actually got me into the genre.

I also played Virtua Cop and pretty much all of the House of the Dead games (except for 4). I still have to play Time Crisis 5, but that’s probably gonna be a permanent thing unless a port comes out. I haven’t played Razing Storm either, though I did play Crisis Zone.

But, as the arcade went, so too did light gun shooters. Pretty much the only two franchises that are still alive and kicking are Time Crisis and House of the Dead. Everything else has basically gone under.

One of the side benefits of the Nintendo Wii, despite its lack of graphical prowess, was the fact that the Wii Remote was well-suited to light gun games. Indeed, we got House of the Dead: Overkill and the Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles and Darkside Chronicles games.

This was important because until then, light guns worked off CRT (big-ass) monitor technology. You had to use a CRT monitor, and even at the time of the Wii they were on their way out.

But that ride had to end, too. All I’ve got left are fond memories. At this point, I’m going to wax nostalgically about both Time Crisis and House of the Dead. For the record, I saw both House of the Dead movies and they were pretty terrible.

Ok, so let’s start with Time Crisis. Time Crisis is, as I was told by an old friend, a “bad action movie simulator”. In terms of plots, they’re pretty terrible and pretty campy. Yet, I enjoy this camp factor, especially in Time Crisis 3 where we got banter from the VSSE agents.

And of course, we got Wild Dog. No matter what happens, he always seems to pull through. He loses his arm after the first game, but it is replaced with increasingly more ridiculous weapons.

In fact, I think the games got more and more campy as they went on. But still, in terms of intense shooting action, you can’t beat it.

But while taking down armies of mercenaries/terrorists/whatever action movie bad guy they’re using is certainly fun, others may want to hone their shooting skills on a less…living target.

Enter the House of the Dead series of games. House of the Dead is known for two things: Shooting zombies and the worst possible voice acting to grace video games. Watching the cutscenes alone is entertainment enough, especially if you’re watching House of the Dead 2’s cutscenes.

House of the Dead 1 and 2 had an emphasis on branching paths which could be triggered by saving hostages or destroying objects in the environment. This was neutered in the third game, where you were given more direct choices that had less of an impact.

I never got to play House of the Dead 4, but I have seen playthroughs. Outside of the numbered games, we have Overkill. That game was so much fun, with a humorous take on grindhouse cinema. Agent G is cast as a rookie teamed up with Isaac Washington, who constantly swears.

There was a Silent Hill rail shooter, but it wasn’t honestly that good. Still, it’s got classic monsters in it.

I must confess, I love the simplicity of the genre. If I have some time, I can just pick it up and play. But, it seems pretty clear that this will have to remain a relic of a forgotten age of games. I have heard of attempts to resuscitate the genre with VR, and if that’s the case, I’d be more than happy to pick that up. Until then, I guess I can watch playthroughs on YouTube.

A First Time For Everything…

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Photo by Dylan Greene

As a way of dealing with some of the stressors, I find it helpful to get out of the house. Being cooped up in my room with no one else around often leads me to rumination, perseveration, and isolation. I decided to head down to College Park to a board game cafe known as Board and Brew.

I was greeted with a wide assortment of games and a variety of players to game along with. My friend’s dad was there, so I said hello to him. Truth be told, I had the mischevious impulse to give him a hard time. Thankfully for him, I was dissuaded when my group of players started up a game.

Board and Brew’s selection of games goes beyond what you would find in a department store such as Target. It also goes further (though I am unsure as to how much further) than my beloved store in Glen Burnie, Games and Stuff. There were hundreds of board games, ones that I had never heard of before.

My group and I played Room-25, Euphoria, and Abraca-what. In fact, going to a board game cafe is good not only for meeting new people but also for trying new board games. My experience with Euphoria, while lengthy, was positive to the point that I considered introducing it to my friends once my bank account goes back beyond double digits.

There was an interesting conversation that I had with several of the other players. One of them brought up OkCupid and it had inspired me to reactivate my account, which I had shut down about a week prior after a mediocre date.

Pikesville is not well-known for its geek subculture. It may exist on some level, but it’s small. It is a community in Baltimore county best known for being religious and affluent. If you spend enough time there, you’ll find plenty of synagogues, and the Jewish community there is quite large.

Ever since I moved out there, I have felt very out of place. It was a consequence of my father’s remarriage, so I’m just kind of stuck with it until I move out. Fortunately, I am mobile and there’s nothing better than a road trip.

So it was a bit of a refresher to find a cool new place, just a bit out of the way! I wonder, perhaps a trip back will be in order come January?

It All Falls Apart in the End

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Photo by Alvimann @ Morguefile.com

There’s a particular trend with games that I find quite troubling. I began observing the trend in the previous console generation and it doesn’t seem to have died down. My experience with Final Fantasy XV has proved this. Although I have thus far enjoyed much of the game, my experience with the endgame has not been so favorable.

Before I go on, spoilers for Fable 2, Indigo Prophecy (or Fahrenheit), Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Batman: Arkham Asylum and Bastion. With that in mind, let’s continue.

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