Best of 2013: My Favorite Games

I took a very long break from blogging, and I want to keep making an effort into turning this into a habit (again), and I start with very late posts I should have written around New Year. At least I’m not too late for Chinese New Year? Hahaha.

I haven’t really grown up as a ‘gamer’ because my parents believed that kids who should get high scores in school should spend more time studying and reading (which I love). I’ve only really played Pokemon (GameBoy Color) and Monster Rancher 2 (PlayStation) as a kid, Ragnarok Online in high school, and then managed to find strict self-control to abstain from most games during all four years of college (never even tried Plants vs. Zombies when they were so popular in school that people would play behind their laptops during Philosophy class) because I know they’re addictive.

2013 was a year of games for me though because I got into a lot of games again. I finally bought a 3DS at the start of the year, got a new MacBook Air that can handle gaming (compared to my old 2009 MBP), and had friends who played the same games. The year 2013 was ripe for monthly gaming breaks!

Here’s a list of games I enjoyed the most:

5. Pokemon X (3DS)

I grew up with Pokemon and throughout the years, it was one of the few franchises that I would play regularly (from Yellow to Gold, Crystal, Ruby, even until the SoulSilver remakes, and then Black 2 before the release of X). The improvements in this game were so obvious to me since they finally took away less of the grinding element so the player can focus on building several teams and testing them against either an in-game AI or against other players online.

There were some UI improvements too, such as unifying the PokeMart and PokeCenter because in the past you usually buy stuff after getting your Pokemon healed anyway. I really appreciated that change. However, browsing through your Pokemon Deposit in the PC is still as hard as ever (still no search function) but I could live with that. Character customization is also long overdue! I bought nearly all the outfits and changed my hairstyle so many times. :)

Unfortunately, the story was too short (especially compared to Black/White 2, which I got to play before this release). I’m not into breeding and the IV technicalities which some people enjoy and take very seriously, so after the story ended, I just lost interest. I couldn’t go back to my Pokemon Black 2 file that I haven’t finished yet though; not after experiencing a more balanced gameplay with less grinding that was done so well with Pokemon X.

4. Kingdom Rush Frontiers (iOS, Android)

Kingdom Rush is one of the best tower defense games out there. I was so addicted to the first game that I lost sleep trying to finish the next stage as soon as I’m done with the previous. I was so excited when Frontiers came out because I couldn’t find any other tower defense games that I loved as much. The art is great, the stages are challenging (this even more so than the previous Kingdom Rush), and the new towers are as enjoyable (if not more) than the first.

The weird thing for me was the price of their in-app purchases (extra Heroes). But I completed all stages without them so it’s definitely unnecessary especially since you’re buying the game on iOS or Android already.

3. Rune Factory 4 (3DS)

Dating Dylas in Rune Factory 4

I bought this later in the year (December 28 to be exact), so I’m still playing this but oh god it’s so much fun. I used to play Harvest Moon on my GameBoy Color, but I didn’t realize how much more addictive the game would be when you factor in RPG dungeon and monster-taming elements PLUS dating.

Yes, dating characters is so much fun that it weirds my boyfriend out when I try to talk about it because I start sounding like I want to go out with so many men. Haha.

Rune Factory 4 feels a bit under the radar in the gaming community because it feels like it’s attracting only niche gamers. But maybe it’s just not being talked about enough. It felt like a mini-Guild Wars 2 for me because it also had crafting (weapons, armor, accessories) and cooking skills that I have to level up.

The gameplay is also pretty long, with two main story arcs and a last arc with mostly dungeon completion. I haven’t even finished my first game file yet but I had to start a new game again just because I dated only one guy in my first file. Hehehehehe.

Apparently, the gaming company who worked on Rune Factory has closed down, but the old team has been absorbed by a bigger company. The last time I read news about it on the forums, I read that they had the go signal to make Rune Factory 5, and I can only keep my fingers crossed that the next game in the franchise is actually in the works.

2. Guild Wars 2 (MMORPG)

Guild Wars 2 is definitely one of the best MMORPGs out there. There’s a one-time-big-time-fee but they add new content regularly that you’re really making the most out of your money. The in-game purchases aren’t necessary for you to enjoy the game at all. I started playing a year after it was launched so I had to catch up with a few friends who were already at the max level.

Guild Wars 2 feels so balanced. Your level is adjusted in low-level areas so you getting experience points isn’t hard. There’s always something going on so you don’t lack excitement. Most people I’ve met have been really nice and helpful, which is great. My only gripe is that some events start to feel like a daily job to make more money, but I still enjoyed it despite not having legendary or ascended weapons/armor. I don’t play as often as I did before, but I enjoy playing Guild Wars the most when I’m doing dungeons with friends (because it’s not so fun to play MMORPG’s when you’re playing alone!).

1. Fire Emblem Awakening (3DS)

It was my first time to play Fire Emblem, and also the first time I played a tactics game. From the introduction (which I can’t spoil), to the animations and the story — everything about it has been excellent. I played Normal mode twice, and then finished the Hard mode once before I moved on to other games. There’s just so many possibilities you can have with the characters that you pair up and the children’s mix of classes that a second or third or fourth run of the game will always be interesting.

Fire Emblem Awakening is one of those games that’s difficult to get tired of and watching my brother play it now makes me want to go back and have another run! Maybe one time this year I’ll finally give Lunatic mode a try.

Nintendo Cuts Outlook After Soft Demand for Wii U

Nintendo Cuts Outlook After Soft Demand for Wii U

Nintendo needs to up its UX game

I recently bought a Nintendo 3DS XL (add my friend-code if you have one! 0232-7880-2450) — primarily because I wanted to play Pokemon (yes) but also because I’m tired of the ‘Western’ games of the iPad. I mean, they’re fun and addicting, but you don’t always get a cute story like that of Okamiden (Chibiterasu IS SO FUCKING CUTE, HELLO). Sure I’m like, more than a year late or something, but I was in a spending mood and I haven’t bought a toy for myself in the longest, longest time.

Excited as I was, there were a lot of things that frustrated me with the DS. Trying to do the simplest things take me more than minutes to accomplish and the experience is something that you just have to get used to rather than enjoy. 3D is cool, but it hurts the eyes when you’re not viewing it from a straight angle so I’m not even on that mode so often. It’s the games that keep me on the device — but that’s it. Basically, if not for the games, the device and other native things on the DS are so ancient because of how smooth and fast tablets and phones are these days.

1. Similar apps that should be merged together exist as 2 different programs.

See, there is this “Mii Maker” where you make or edit your avatar, and then you close that and open the “Mii Plaza” to meet other players and see their avatars. From the “Mii Plaza” you can only edit your Mii’s hat, but not anything much. The color of your Mii/avatar, the name, and other avatar details you have to edit at “Mii Maker.”

That’s bad. Just, really bad. You should be able to edit your Mii directly from Mii Plaza because the whole closing-this-app-and-switching-and-then-going-back is really tiring. Maybe I wouldn’t complain so much about this except you can’t even multi-task or open these two apps at the same time.

2. LOADING AN APP TAKES TOO FUCKING SLOW.

Every time I load a new app (such as the Mii Maker, Plaza, or any of those that are stored within the DS), the “Nintendo 3DS” loading screen appears on my screen for like, 5 seconds. Those 5 seconds multiplied by the number of times I have to use these apps make me really, really sick of the Nintendo loading screen and it gives the impression that the app is loading really slow.

3. No multi-tasking (even similar apps)

Just try playing with your Mii and then editing it when you win a hat and you want to color-coordinate your avatar’s color. JUST TRY IT.

I don’t even understand why they put the app on suspension (“Suspended Software”) when you have to close it to do much of anything else.

4. Swapnote: Sending notes made complicated.

I’m pretty sure I’m not super stupid, but it took me a lot of chatting with my friends who had a DS to finally understand how to actually send notes.

  • first I save it 
  • the note I just saved and that I want to send gets listed along with ALL the other notes that I have received/sent/saved
  • then you get asked if you want to send it, but only if you’ve activated your Spot Pass or Street Pass because otherwise, it doesn’t tell you anything. I was so confused because initially I was only able to ‘save’ my notes.
  • and apparently sending via the internet is called sending via “Spot Pass” (naming consistency!) 
  • once you press ‘reply’ to a note, the ‘reply’ button (for that specific note) seems to be gone forever. 
  • I think there is a way to add more pages to a note, but I haven’t figured it out yet.

5. You can only save 3 different internet connections.

6. Those internet connections are different from the “Nintendo Wifi Connection” which is limited to WEP-security connections or no security at all. 

when I changed our wifi at home fro WPA2 to WEP, it seemed to slow down the net considerably so I had to settle to removing our wifi password just so I can connect to the Nintendo wifi. Because I paid so much for this shit I want to play it for what it’s worth.

7. The e-shop is more limited than I’ve expected.

I don’t have a credit card with a US account, and the regions where credit cards work are also limited. My other option is to buy a prepaid card from Data Blitz, which is obviously overpriced. But I really want to get the Pokemon Dream game thing.

At least with the Apple Store I can buy a considerable amount of games and apps with my local credit card.

8. There is a browser but forget about browsing the internet on the DS. 

9. I actually don’t know if I can take in-game screenshots with the device because I really want to. 

10. There is nearly an inch of black space between the two screens.

When you’re browsing, the page is cut awkwardly. When the game tries to make use of both screens, it is again cut awkwardly.

The 3DS definitely sucks in its user experience. At a time when iOS and Android are smoother, faster, and both platforms being used for gaming (with great graphics, I must say), I think Nintendo needs to up their game. Android was able to price itself within a budget, much like Nintendo, but the experiences on the devices are so different (with Nintendo pretty much lacking a lot of things).

Although I know that I got it for the games and not for the graphics/UX so I’m keeping it and investing some hard-earned pesos for a small DS/3DS game collection, I just wish that their next DS device offers better UX. I don’t know how fast they could improve on these things though because they’ve really fallen behind.

Now I will just settle with the gameplay their titles offer. :P