Gaming Post 34: Xenoblade Chronicles (3DS)

The random number generator has chosen a very good game for me to write about, but it’s a very long game that some people may intend to play eventually, so I’ll try not to spoil too much about the story.

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The game I’m going to be writing about this time is Xenoblade Chronicles 3D for the New Nintendo 3DS. It was originally released for the Nintendo Wii. If you’re scrolling through Zelgerath.com, everything after this paragraph is concealed behind a “Continue reading” tag, but if you’ve clicked straight into this article, there is no such protection from minor spoilers.

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Gaming Post 33: Animal Crossing (GameCube)

The random number generator chose Animal Crossing! Yay!
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Animal Crossing is a weird sort of game. Its premise is that you are a human who moves into a town inhabited by cartoon animals. There isn’t an explicit goal to the game except to have fun living in the town. What makes the game special is the use of the GameCube’s internal calendar to make things happen in your town based on the passage of actual days in real life.

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For example, Animal Crossing games have different things happen in different seasons.

Animal Crossing is one of the games I played a lot of when I was in Middle School. I couldn’t tell you for sure how I originally heard about it, but my friend Jonah was the first to play it, and he was also the first among the people I knew who had a Nintendo GameCube. He doesn’t remember much about that time, but I do.

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I started playing Animal Crossing as one of the villagers in my friend Jonah’s town. That’s when I learned to like the game. Jonah says it was one of the only GameCube games he had at the time, which might explain why we played it so much.

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I often sold oranges to the store, but I liked using the shovel much better. Each day I played, I’d dig up any fossils and Gyroids I found and donate the fossils to the local museum after getting them identified via mail. If the museum already had the type of fossil, I’d sell it to the store for some good money.

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I always saved the Gyroids I found instead of selling them, because I was hoping to possibly complete a collection of every Gyroid. I knew which ones existed because I had Jonah’s guide to the game that listed every item. I’m not sure if the internet would have been able to help me back then, but I wasn’t obsessed enough with the project to bring it to completion.

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One interesting thing about Animal Crossing was its inclusion of certain NES games that your character can put in his/her house and play. It was cool because it offered the player a substantial reward for finding a virtual object in the game.

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Villager’s first game was also his first crossover game with Little Mac.

Another game Jonah had around this time was Super Mario Sunshine. Unfortunately, as both Animal Crossing and Super Mario Sunshine are single player endeavors on the one GameCube and TV we had, only one of us could play at a time. Funnily enough, when I was really into Animal Crossing, Jonah mostly wanted to play Super Mario Sunshine, and when I finally wanted to focus on Sunshine Jonah was back into Animal Crossing. This sort of thing can happen with obsessive personalities like my own.

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Animal Crossing allows one town to be stored per memory card. The great thing about having a game like this on a disc is that you are only limited in the quantity of towns by the number of memory cards you have, as opposed to games like Pokémon that only allow one file to be saved per game cartridge.

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Sometimes, I just don’t know where to stop.

When I finally got a GameCube on Christmas of 2002, I borrowed Jonah’s copy of Animal Crossing, because he was completely done caring about the game. I then proceeded to build towns on different memory cards to help my overall progress, but my strategy wasn’t refined enough to work as effectively as it could have. I did know that an Orange sold in a town that started with oranges fetches 100 bells while its selling price in a town without oranges is 500 bells, so I used my GameCube’s second memory card slot to move between towns, bringing my town’s fruit to sell in the other towns and picking foreign fruit and bringing it back to sell it in my own town, but I could have easily replaced the fruit trees growing in my own town with foreign fruit trees which would have made paying off my loans a lot faster, but I was too afraid of messing up my town by chopping down existing trees because I didn’t have a clear idea concerning why some trees grew and others did not. I was also more focused on the immediate results of selling the fruit rather than the investment of planting it. At that age, my brain had a lot more development to undergo before I could really be good at video games.

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I traveled so much between my 5 towns that at one point I actually had 2 of the same animal villager (Fang) in one of my towns. I didn’t take a picture of it because it happened a long time ago before I started taking pictures of interesting things. Although I lack solid evidence I’m pretty sure it did happen.
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What caught my imagination about Animal Crossing was its customizability. In this picture from my old town, you can see that I made shirts themed on Mario Wario Waluigi and the Pokémon Kyogre. You can see that even back then, I was a big fan of rain, both in the game and out.
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I wasn’t against changing the date in the game to suit my purposes. I remember summer days when I would change the date to make it rain in the game, often when it was also raining in real life, and just go fishing on the beach. I would try to catch Coelacanths (which appear only when it is raining), Barred Knifejaws and Red Snappers, fetching 15,000, 5,000 and 3,000 bells respectively. All 3 of those species appear in the ocean, but if you catch a Sea Bass, put it back! It’s a waste of inventory space!

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I paid at least one considerable loan by selling fish to the raccoon. One weird thing about these games is that you can catch frogs the same way you catch fish, but there can also be frogs living in your town.

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One day my friend showed me how he had been cheating in Animal Crossing. He had an Action Replay and was able to use it to create any item he wanted in the game as well as obtain infinite money. He had me visit his town and wanted me to participate in a makeshift lottery game that he had set up, the prize being money he had created using the cheating device. I was annoyed because to me it seemed that the point of Animal Crossing was to work to make money. By accepting the cheated money, it would be the same as if I was cheating, so I refused. What puzzled me, however, was why my cheating friend bothered to play Animal Crossing at all given that he was cheating. This is when I started to consider the actual game of Animal Crossing to be somewhat stupid. I was in middle school, which is when a lot of people judge some of their old hobbies more harshly than they should.

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I stopped playing for a very long time, assuming in my little mind that I had finished upgrading my house and paying off my debt. My opinion of Animal Crossing changed and changed back as I matured. I played the DS sequel quite a lot, but I stopped playing that too after a few months. It inspired this riddle.

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What is forgotten and full of weeds? Your Town in Animal Crossing!

Having read the Iwata Asks about Animal Crossing: City Folk, I played a bit of it after its price dropped to $20, but I couldn’t really get into it maybe because I knew I didn’t finish paying off my debt in the DS Animal Crossing.

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It wasn’t until I mistakenly added Animal Crossing to my list of beaten games (thinking that I had paid off my debt to Tom Nook) that I rekindled my interest in going back to finish the other Animal Crossing games that I had started. I consider an Animal Crossing game to be beaten if 1: You fully upgrade your house and pay off your debt to Tom Nook, 2: You do everything else you want to do in the game. It’s pretty open ended, but you’d be a fool to attempt to really 100% an Animal Crossing game, unless you really feel passionately about it. It’s a game that can take over your life because you typically have to play it every day if you don’t want to miss out on things in the stores and stuff like that.

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An example of someone’s life being taken over by Animal Crossing New Leaf

I eventually found the memory card for my old Animal Crossing town, and I decided to visit it. My friend Cameron brought over his disc since mine (probably Jonah’s) wasn’t working. It was then when I discovered that I hadn’t really finished upgrading my house and paying off my loan, so I got straight to work continuing my game where I left off, possibly a decade before. I wonder if there are other games on my list that I haven’t technically beaten. If it could happen once, it could have happened again. I suppose the only games I’m not 100% sure that I beat are Pokémon Red and Blue, but I think I made a point of completing both of them before I got Crystal Version.

Gotta bring in the bells!
Gotta bring in the bells!

When I found out about my miscalculation, I had been on a roll in the other Animal Crossing games, finally perfecting my technique for planting the maximum number of foreign fruit trees in a single town and destroying every other tree. I believe there was at least one Apple Tree growing in town, so the first thing I did was buy as many axes as I could from the catalog (which can only be done prior to the DS version) and as they arrived, I chopped down every tree besides the apple trees. I also expanded the orchard of apple trees, using every grown apple as a seed for the next tree.
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I also planted money trees whenever I could. To plant a money tree, you need to find a spot on the ground that has magical light shining from it. You have to bury a bag of bells in the golden spot, but it can be risky. If the tree is planted in a bad spot, it might not grow to replace the money it took to plant it. If it does grow and a bag of 30,000 bells was planted, the profit is 60,000 bells.

“Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees.” At Least That’s What They Say, But What About That Money Tree I Saw The Other Day?

I continued the expansion of my apple orchard until my Microsoft Excel sheet indicated that It would take more effort to plant more apple trees than to just wait a few days and sell every apple that grows in that time to finish paying off the debt.
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In the end, Nook gave me a golden statue, and thus I beat Animal Crossing for GameCube.
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Along the way, I actually did succeed in finishing the fossil collection at the museum. That is something I felt pretty good about since it was one of my favorite parts of Animal Crossing.

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And here’s my Animal Crossing house, Assassin’s Creed Logo included. I simply call this image “AC”.
This monstrosity can be found upstairs, made from some of the extra fossils I didn't sell.
This monstrosity can be found upstairs, made from some of the extra fossils I didn’t sell.
Apparently electronics can get wet in this game without malfunctioning.
Apparently electronics can get wet in this game without malfunctioning.
This is my basement. I like this room.
This is my basement. I like this room.
 The 2015 portion of my gameplay was performed using this Super Smash Bros. GameCube controller. After all, Villager is a Smash character now.

The 2015 portion of my gameplay was performed using this Super Smash Bros. GameCube controller. After all, Villager is a Smash character now.

The passage of time in Animal Crossing makes the town feel like a living breathing place set in a virtual reality even though it’s really just a computer program. That’s why it can be interesting to come back after years have gone by, even only for a visit.

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Is your town full of weeds?

– Zelgerath (@Zelgerath)

Thanks for reading!

Gaming Post 23: Captain Toad, Treasure Tracker

The random number generator has decided that I should write about a relatively new game called Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker for the Nintendo Wii U gaming system.

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Now, when I say that this game is new, what I mean is that it was released in America almost 2 months ago at the time that this post was written. It’s the most recent Mario game (at least the way I define them). The game is relatively short and was thus sold at the lower than usual price of $40, but it’s still pretty fun despite its length. One thing that reviewers don’t seem to mention is that this game also gets very difficult for anyone trying to reach 100% completion.

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The gameplay of this game was inspired by the Captain Toad levels introduced in Super Mario 3D World. Basically, because Captain Toad’s backpack is heavy, he cannot jump, and so all of the platforming requires at least some amount of forethought. It’s more similar to a puzzle game than what you would expect from a classic 3D Mario game. For most of the game, the objective is to find and obtain all three jewels hidden in each level, complete the challenge objective for the level, and get the star at the end of the level. Like the New Super Mario Bros. series, these requirements do not need to be met at the same time, so it’s never too hard to complete a stage 100%. There are a fairly large amount of stages though.

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This trailer will give you a sense of whether or not you would like the game.

The day Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker came out, I drove to the mall early because I realized that I had forgotten to pre-order my copy. Luckily, it seemed that nobody else wanted to buy the game that day (at least nobody who wasn’t either at work or school the moment the store opened), so while I felt like I had to rush to the store, it was completely unnecessary. Once I had my copy, I went and ate some Chinese food before returning home to play the game.

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If I had chosen Mushroom Chicken, this picture would have been weird.
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The characters in this game are pretty great.

The game is divided into 4 parts. The first is Toad’s story where the objective is to save Toadette. At the end of just a small set of levels, you save Toadette and reach the ending credits. When this happened, I knew that the game couldn’t be that short, and sure enough, I had simply unlocked part 2 of the game.

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This sequel was released so fast that nobody even had time to ask them to make a sequel!

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In part 2, you play as Toadette whose objective is to save Captain Toad. When this is finished, part 3 is unlocked.

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The entire Captain Toad Trilogy was released in a day.

In part 3, levels that feature Captain Toad take turns with levels featuring Toadette. Their objective in the story is to look for each other while (as always) collecting treasure on the way.

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As I found out by the end of the third story, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a direct prequel to Super Mario 3D World, in that the last scene of Captain Toad is the first scene of 3D World. I think that this was done to introduce beginning players to Super Mario 3D World after they become proficient enough to finish Captain Toad Treasure Tracker’s story.

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http://youtu.be/CB-jj1Kx5UA?t=4m45s (Final Scene of Treasure Tracker)

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There’s a final section of the game containing bonus levels. This is what I call part 4, and it is by far the most difficult part of the game to complete.

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Because my Wii U contained save data from Super Mario 3D World, some special levels were unlocked for Captain Toad that came directly from 3D World. Those levels had originally been designed for Mario, Luigi, Peach, Blue Toad and Rosalina to run and jump through, so ladders were added into Captain Toad’s versions of the levels so that Captain Toad, who doesn’t have the ability to jump, would be able to get through them. I thought the inclusion of a few of these levels was pretty neat.

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There are a few levels that involve the Toad Brigade. Some of you might remember Captain Toad’s first appearance as the leader of the Toad Brigade in the really awesome Super Mario Galaxy series.

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Who knew he would eventually get his own game? The fact that surprises like that periodically happen is one reason why I love Nintendo.

Speaking of spinoffs, I think that Waluigi should get some kind of single player game. Luigi has a few games and so does Wario, but what about poor Waluigi? If you have a chance, please bother Nintendo about that. Tell them we need a “Waluigi’s Circus” or something. He kind of looks like he could run a circus, but honestly, I’m not picky. Give him any game at all.

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There are some other challenging bonus levels, but none of them come close to the final level called “Mummy-Me Maze Forever”. While I took about a day to finish every other level, this one took me several days. It’s a cavern that has 50 floors, and you must survive to the end while mummified Toads chase after you copying your exact steps but alternating like clockwork between lagging behind and almost catching up to you. The additional objective is to obtain 50,000 coins, but there are a ton of coins on the non-dangerous 50th floor, so the real goal is having something like 3 and a half thousand by the end of floor 49, which is not really a problem.

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I tried this level for days and had very little progress. It reminded me of the final level in Super Mario Galaxy 2 called “The Perfect Run”. What made this level difficult for me was the necessity to adjust your camera angle to not only avoid running into unseen enemies but also to avoid running into a wall and getting hit by the Mummy-Me that is chasing you.

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The other thing that made things difficult for me was my stubbornness to not use touch controls to stun enemies. I have always felt since I played Super Mario 3D World that using touch controls against blocks and enemies (besides when required) was equivalent to cheating, since 3D Mario games have only rarely had that ability. As I had more and more trouble with this level, I looked online for people who had succeeded in completing the level. I found two different people on Twitter who had, and asked them for their opinion on the subject of using the touch screen. Both of them had used it and considered those abilities to be legitimate. This level had been stressing me out a little bit, so upon reflection, I decided that sometimes, I need to let go of my pride in order to have fun. Games, after all, only exist for the purpose of having fun. So I decided that Toad was definitely “The One” within the Matrix.

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“So you’re saying I can dodge Bullet Bills?” “No, Captain Toad. What I’m saying is that when you’re ready, you won’t have to.”

Using the powers of touch controls, it only took me a few more tries until I was lucky enough to complete the level, and at the end I earned a crown for Toad. I thought that crown was pretty neat, and a quite fitting reward for 100% completing the game.

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Now, although I have certainly finished this game, there is additional visual content for this game that will involve Nintendo’s Amiibo toys. There will be a Toad Amiibo (The first Amiibo that will not work in Super Smash Brothers) and connecting it to the Wii U when playing this game will allow 8 Bit Toads to be hidden in all the levels. Nintendo has made a habit of hiding 8 Bit Luigi in levels, and with this feature for the Toad Amiibo, Nintendo has made a way to add content to a game without forcing people who already completed it to come back to it.

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Luigi?

I’m getting a Toad Amiibo, but not because of this feature in Captain Toad. I’m getting it because I think Toad is a good character. If one of my friends plays the game, I’ll let them use the Toad Amiibo to unlock the 8 Bit Toad easter eggs, but that may be about all the technical use I’ll get out of it, and that’s okay.

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The Japanese get this bundle. =)

Now that the Captain Toad game is over for me, the next Mario title coming out seems to be something called “Mario Maker”. I’m not going to get my hopes up for it being good though. I guess we’ll see eventually. Until then, I’ll be beating all the Kirby games unless I actually beat all the Kirby games in which case I might work on completing the Mario RPG series or something.

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Until next time, Thanks for Reading! =)


Edit (July 17, 2015):

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Last night, Nick told me that the game keeps track of the Pixel Toads you find in each level when you use the Toad Amiibo. I was previously under the impression that they appeared simply to be noticed sometimes like the Pixel Luigis.

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Apparently, it’s a challenge you can complete. It wasn’t too difficult, but it did take me a few hours. I started last night and finished this morning before work.

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There is one toad per stage for the first 3 episodes of the game (There are none in the Bonus episode), and a distinct noise can be heard whenever Captain Toad is standing near one, making the task much simpler than it would have been otherwise. It can be a little tricky to find some of the Pixel Toads because of how unexpected their hiding places can be.

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No spoilers: This is an easy Pixel Toad.

This challenge may not have been there when I initially played Treasure Tracker, but it did give me an excuse to play the game with Toad and Toadette wearing the coveted “I beat the game” Crown.

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Anyways, Thanks for Reading! =D