I need to make an hour of writing up to myself. Last night was Thursday, and according to my schedule I should have written for an hour (Tuesdays and Thursdays from nine to ten pm). However, because I have the day off today (Friday) yesterday felt like Friday and I didn’t even think about it possibly being Thursday. Oops.
While I should have been writing I was doing something I haven’t let myself do for a long time – I was playing games. Lately, the only time I’ve been turning our Wii on is when we have company who we play with or to treat my son to a few minutes of playing or helping with a game if he has been behaving well.
So, about ten minutes before his bedtime we turned it on and he chose to watch me play Super Mario Galaxy (a great game, by the way). Half an hour after his bedtime I coaxed him into going to bed without throwing a fit (a noble feat, he usually throws an all out tantrum when we tell him it’s time to stop playing games), and then I did something I haven’t done for myself for months: I went back to the game room after tucking him in and I put on a game just for me.
I used to do it fairly regularly, but it’s been months now as things have been pretty hectic. I guess the transition was the baby. I got back from a trip to Egypt and we had a new baby and I tried getting some evening gaming in before bedtime, but it was difficult, selfish and by that late at night I was exhausted from not getting enough sleep at night and working harder all day.
Last night though, I did it – I turned a game on and played by myself until my wife came home twenty minutes later. It wasn’t a long time, but it was fun. I played a game I’ve been borrowing from a friend (and it’s high time I returned it too). I’ve always been a big fan of the Legend of Zelda games, and even though I’ve only been borrowing it, someday I hope to buy the Legend of Zelda, Twilight Princess. If you’re a Zelda and Link fan, you should check out this great recreation of the first Legend of Zelda for the NES called Zelda Classic. It’s a free download (only for PC, I think) and it can provide hours of fun (if you let it). It was began as a “prove I can do it” project by a sole programmer many years ago; but when he had succeeded at recreating the game, down to the last detail, he declared it finished. The on line following of fans became upset. They must have been the dreamer and imaginer type like me, because I always look at something that is “done” and ask, “what would make this even cooler?” The fans rallied some programmers and took the original open source project and began adding features. Now, the game not only emulates the first Legend of Zelda exactly, but it can simulate other early versions of the game for the NES, SNES and GameBoy. My favorite feature though is the editor, which lets you design your own Zelda game based on the tile sets and graphics from all of the early games. Now that is fun. Plus, it’s free! Who can beat that?
That’s a charming story of a great console game becoming an even better computer game with its roots in the on line world. When my wife arrived home she brought the baby in to feed her and watch me play for a while. She gets bored with me running around aimlessly in Hyrule, so I went to the Wii Shop channel to show her a cool WiiWare game that I thought she would enjoy. This game is a charming story of an on line game that became a platform game. I had heard of it before, but when I read a story by Wired about which WiiWare titles were going to help launch the service I was impressed that it was on the list. The game is called Defend Your Castle and it was originally done in flash. We downloaded it last night and I played for about twenty minutes. It was pretty enjoyable, very humorous at times and around round fifteen (where I left off last night) it was beginning to get challenging.
The graphics are cute. You have a castle, which appears to be made out of cardboard or construction paper, and these little stick figure guys are trying to raid it. They run in from the left in waves all day and at night you take a break from defending your castle. The stick guys have buttons for heads and their bodies are drawn with pencil or something. Some are carrying pop sickle sticks to bust the door of the castle down. Damage to the castle occurs when they make it to your castle and start pounding on it. Your job is to grab them and fling them into the air or smash them into the ground. They scream, their bodies splatter (it’s bloody in the original flash game, but it’s clean on the Wii for children) and you get a good, albeit guilty chuckle at the little guy’s demise. It’s especially fun when you really launch them good and it takes a while for them to fall. I like tossing a whole bunch of them and watching them rain down randomly. At night, when the attacks have subsided, you repair damages, upgrade and begin the next round. The upgrades and repairs are done with money you earn from defending against attackers. The more attackers you stop the more money you get. Some of the upgrades make the castle’s defenses stronger, some allow you to convert attackers to workers to defend your castle, and others add an archer tower, a bomb making tower and others to help with the war.
Now, as a family game, here’s the best feature. Up to four players can play at once, and it doesn’t require starting a new game or a special game. At any time players can jump in or drop out, simply by activating or setting down a remote (respectively). As more players join in the difficulty is increased to prevent the additional defenders from getting bored. Oh, did I mention that the cursor you’re using to pick these guys up is one of those plastic doohickies that come on bags of bread to seal them but always get lost? Fun. Anyhow, throughout the “day” whichever defender destroys the most attackers gets to be king for the night and handle the upgrades and repairs.
I’d say it’s one of the best WiiWare titles from among that initial lineup and it’s definitely worth the five dollars it cost.
In the spirit of fun, free on line games, I have assembled a list of fun games I have played over the years to kill time on line. I haven’t played some of these for ages, but I find time every once and a while to click around in them. Here they are with a brief description of each (in no particular order) and links to the playable version on the Internet:
- I’ve already introduced Defend your Castle, but there’s another, similar game that my brother introduced to me called Desktop Tower Defense. If I had to give an award for most addictive, it would go to this one. Here, in stead of a side view of a castle and stick figures attacking, you have a desktop with a bird’s eye view and creatures are moving across the desk (either from left to right on easy mode, or from the left and the top in straight, intersecting lines to the opposite sides in harder difficulty settings). In this game, you can’t use your mouse to fling the creatures back, you have to build towers with money you get at the beginning, then upgrade and build more towers with money you get from killing the creatures. It may not sound very interesting now, but once you get started you’ll probably have to keep going. You see, the towers attack the creatures by shooting at them, slowing them down, etc. and they also create a barrier the creatures can’t cross. So, you build walls that they have to go around (but you’re not allowed to completely block their path across the desktop) and eventually these walls become complex mazes. It is a strategy game for hard core problem solvers and there are plenty of modes of game play if you get bored with the basic game.
- In the spirit of strategy games, I have something here that will probably make you nostalgic if you are close to my age. Someone has built an emulator to run the Oregon Trail on the Internet! If you really don’t know what that is, look it up on Wikipedia.
- Another classic game brought back on the Internet also got its start on the NES. I found this one looking for something else (can’t remember what). How many of you have played Duck Hunt on the NES? Well, if you miss that game you’ll have to run over to Johnny Slack and click on the Duck Hunt link (it’s a flash site so everything is run from the same page, I can’t provide a direct link to the Duck Hunt game). It’s fun just to shoot around (clicking the mouse, of course) and remember the good old days.
- If you’re looking for mind-numbing, do nothing games, look no further. Interactive Buddy is a flash game made by some dude on DeviantART and it is just fun. Here’s the idea. You have this guy, who just stands there, and you use a variety of weapons and toys to make him happy or beat the snot out of him. You can toss baseballs to him and he gets happy playing catch (earning you lots of money) or you can toss grenades at him and he will catch the first one thinking it’s a baseball, but once it blows up he becomes terrified of them. The explosions are fun, and they still get you money to buy more stuff like upgrades to the game’s look, skins to make the guy look like famous people, and of course more weapons.
- My final item for you is also a do nothing game that got its start at DeviantART but is now being developed into a Wii console game. It’s called Line Rider, and it is really fun. I have it on my phone. The idea is you draw lines and this guy rides them on a sled. From there you just have fun. Check out the site for videos of some really awesome rides, then create your own! (I sound like an ad, don’t I?)
That pretty much sums up the fun games I’ve found. If you have some of your own that you just can’t stop playing, post a comment with a link! Here’s the concise list:
- Zelda Classic
- Defend your Castle
- Desktop Tower Defense
- Oregon Trail
- Johnny Slack (Duck Hunt)
- Interactive Buddy
- Line Rider
One more bit of news. I announced a project a while back that I have been working on, but the going has been very slow. Believe me when I say I am going to continue working on it, but don’t expect to see anything any time soon. Life is not very conducive to carrying such a project out right now, and I have found short stories a lot easier to write than creative nonfiction about real people. Like I said, you can look forward to it in the future, but don’t hold your breath. You can hold your breath until I post a fun short story soon though (but only if you are capable of holding it for more than a week, because I don’t know when I’ll actually be posting one fo the stories). Just keep in mind that I will not be held liable for anyone who passes out because they are waiting for me to post a short story. I hope to finish and post one within the next week or so.
Until next time, thanks for reading.