It’s summertime again for yours portly, which means MINECRAFT CAMP! Woot!
I’m back to spend my mornings playing the digital equivalent of LEGOs on the computer with elementary school kids. It’s glorious!
By the time you read this post, we’ll be halfway through the first of two sessions of camp. I have had a group of ten campers this week, with three students (two former, one current) helping out as counselors. The second week has just three campers enrolled at the time of this writing, but I imagine that will change. I had just five students signed up for this week’s camp as of last week and it doubled by camp day, so… we’ll see!
Minecraft Camp is one of the tentpoles of my summer hustlin’. This time of year, lessons slow down considerably due to family trips and the like, and while I still teach quite a few in the summer, it’s nothing like the volume of the school year. So Minecraft Camp helps to keep the lights on.
Last year I picked up a nifty little from Nintendo with both of the classic NES Legend of Zelda titles, as well as the Gameboy LoZ game. I proceeded to spend a good chunk of the summer playing through and beating all of the games, and tried to avoid guides as much as possible in an attempt to replicate the feel of playing these games at the time of their release.
At that time, you could only get tips from three sources: an expensive 1-900 hotline (not a realistic option); friends on the schoolyard or at church; or Nintendo Power. That last one was worth its weight in video gaming gold.
When it came time to play through Zelda II, I broke down and used a guide to navigate the final temple. I remember my brothers painstakingly mapping it out on graph paper one summer, but there are limits to nostalgia. The Internet exists for a reason.
I haven’t picked up the old ZG&W much since beating all the games, but it might be time to dive back into it. With the newest Zelda game out on Switch, it’s a great time to revisit the classics.
Those of us who were children in the early 1990s will remember Super Mario Bros. (1993). It was the first time a video game had been adapted for film—ever, and, sure, WarGames (1983) was about playing a computer game, but Super Mario Bros. was the first time an actual video game IP had been made for the big screen—-and we were all super (no pun intended) excited to see our favorite 8-bit (well, 16-bit, by that point) heroes, Mario and Luigi, on film (note—there was a WarGames video game, but it was released in 1984 and was based on the film, not the other way around). I was eight when the movie was released, so I was old enough to be aware of the hype surrounding the film. The schoolyard was abuzz with anticipation.
Unfortunately, you probably know how the rest of the story goes: it was an abysmal failure. The film bore little resemblance to the 2D platformer we all loved, and while Dennis Hopper certainly makes for an intimidating antagonist, he bore little resemblance to Bowser (he was “King Koopa” in the film). I remember watching the movie as a kid (we rented it) and being baffled by what was happening. Why was everything so dark and dystopian? It was a far too impressionistic endeavor to work as an adaptation of a beloved video game that captured the imagination of children.
The film was such a disaster, critically and financially, that Nintendo shied away from any more forays into cinema for thirty years. Other than some cartoons on television, Nintendo did not go near Hollywood for three solid decades.
Now, when movie-going is struggling to revive itself after The Age of The Virus, Nintendo has reentered the ring with The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023), a film that may very well save Hollywood from its penchant for wokery and poor box office receipts. More importantly, it’s the Mario Bros. movie we should have gotten thirty years ago.
The school year is grinding down at an agonizingly slow pace, which means my mind increasingly is turning away from serious matters and towards video games.
As a grown man with too many responsibilities and not enough time, I don’t indulge in video games much anymore. I’ve always been more of a casual gamer in the sense that I play in short spurts for fun of it, not necessarily “beating” (finishing) a game, but enjoying playing with its mechanics or discovering some bit of its story. I play games that would be considered “serious” among gamers, but I don’t do so with the intensity of those more committed gamers.
Increasingly, though, my gaming habits have turned towards more casual games—puzzle games and the like. I don’t do a ton of gaming on my phone, but there are a few that I enjoy.
One of those is TerraGenesis, a game in which you take on the terraforming of a planet. The game starts you with Mars, and by the time you read this post, I should have completed my first successful terraforming of the red planet. The game draws heavily from the style of the board game Terraforming Mars, which is one of my favorites in the “make-this-planet-habitable-for-humans” genre.
Playing that got me thinking about the granddaddy of all terraforming games, SimEarth. I wrote a loving tribute to this DOS classic a few years ago, and it seemed like a good time to give it another look.
It’s the last full day of our family trip, and I’m still behind the proverbial eight-ball with posts. My apologies to those who have contributed posts for publication; I’ll get them in next week. What I have found is that posting later in the morning like I have been doing tends to result in lower views, so it’ll be best for those guest posts to go live next week when I am (hopefully!) back on schedule.
All mea culpas aside, here is a very, very brief edition of Phone it in Friday featuring everyone’s favorite little puffy pink guy, Kirby!
While I was quietly productive on the day itself, the rest of the weekend saw me lolling about in indolence. For whatever reason, the last couple of weeks left me exhausted, and I indulged in some relaxation Saturday and Sunday. Besides some light housework, I kept myself occupied with an excursion back to my childhood: Pokémon.
I managed to pick up a copy of Pokémon Brilliant Diamond, the 2021 remake of 2006’s Pokémon Diamond, last fall for half-price (around $30). With work and lessons and what not, I hadn’t had time to play it, so I was more than a little excited to rip off the cellophane and pop this little baby into my Nintendo Switch Lite.
I vaguely remember playing some of Diamond on the Nintendo DS, but I know I didn’t finish it, and I’d forgotten a great deal of the game, beyond some of the starter Pokémon. I have not finished the game—not by any stretch—but managed to put about eight hours into over the three-day weekend, and it was much like playing a classic Pokémon game.
I’ve been on a YouTube history kick lately, listening to long historical biography videos while doing things around the house. If you’re a history nerd like me, listening to the intrigues of medieval kings gets you hankering for a piece of the action, albeit a sanitized simulacrum of the real thing.
Yes, that means I have been playing a great deal of Civilization VI. I was a bit sick this past weekend, so I had hours in bed conquering the world as Poland. If your fantasy is a world in which an Eastern Orthodox Poland controls all of Europe, Asia, and most of Africa, as well as large swaths of North and South America, then you’d have loved that game.
With turn-based strategy still fresh on my mind, I’d thought I’d look back to this review of a far more primitive game in the legendary Civilization series: Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution on the Nintendo DS Lite.
Apologies for those brief descriptions—my rotten dog has been hounding me (no pun intended) all morning, and is currently scratching vigorously at the door. These games are quite good, and Ponty gives them the love and affection they deserve.
A review of that sequel is better still, and that is what good ol’ Ponty offers up today.
As I noted last Friday, I’ve owned Little Nightmares on Steam for some time now, but I haven’t fired it up yet. I doubt I will have had an opportunity to do so in the last week, but I’m hoping to dip into it (and some other games) soon enough. Ponty’s reviews have me itching to try both installments of this macabre little gem—and possibly to revive my dead-in-the-water Morrowednesdays segments.
There’s not much else to say, despite my increasingly legendary ability to write introductions. I’ll let Ponty take it from here; so with that, here is Ponty’s review of Little Nightmares 2: