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 29: Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3

The random number generator has determined that the next game I should write about is Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3.

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Wario Land is an interesting game in that it continued an existing series by transforming it. It is the last game in the Mario Land series as well as the first in the Wario Land one. You play as Wario, who was the main antagonist in the previous game, Super Mario Land 2.

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I bought this game from the 3DS Nintendo eshop when I was bored, along with Mario Land 1, Wario Land 2 and Wario Land 3. I already had Mario Land 2 from an eshop sale.

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After finishing Mario Land 2, PAX East 2014 happened. I didn’t have a Ticket for the Friday, but I did meet my friend Absol from the Internet outside the venue that day. I then sat for a few hours and streetpassed with people who were in line to get in. This campaign finally ended when my 3DS ran out of battery power and I decided to take the train home.

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When I got home, I was experiencing gaming withdrawal. Though it was true that I had been playing the Mii Plaza games Puzzle Swap and Warrior’s Way, I had only played them so intently that day because PAX East presented me with an opportunity to progress faster in those games than I usually could. That said, you can only play the street pass games for so long before they stop being fun.

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That afternoon, I played through the entirety of Super Mario Land 1 and then started Super Wario Land.

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“Best adventure yet”? More like “Shortest adventure yet”!

Super Wario Land is pretty easy, even without Restore Points, but I did use them for the sake of convenience. I ran into a problem early on in the game that taught me to be careful with restore points. I had accidentally created a restore point at a moment in the game when Wario was healthy, but there was no possible way to survive to the end of the level (there was a moving platform I was supposed to have jumped off of). This taught me that there are dangers to using restore points, and one should always be careful in their use.

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Wario Land 1 plays similarly to regular Super Mario games. Wario can obtain power ups like the Dragon, Bull or Jet to traverse levels differently or attack enemies more easily. If you get hit by an enemy, just like in Super Mario, you lose your power up, and if hit again, you become “Tiny Wario”. If Tiny Wario gets hit, it’s a death.

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Following Wario’s defeat in Mario Land 2, Wario wants to build a new castle. To pay for it, he decides to steal treasure from pirates.

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He eventually duels with Captain Syrup, the leader of the pirates, and her genie.

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After he wins, the genie builds Wario a new castle. Depending on how well you do collecting treasure, you get ranked at the end by how big the castle is.

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The genie built me a birdhouse.

Wario is a character defined by his flaws. In that way, he’s a much more believable character than his doppelgänger Mario. This game introduced his greed, and other games would feature his sloth and gluttony. Greed is his primary personality trait, because that’s what motivates him to get off the couch once in a while.

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The only Wario Land game that I haven’t beaten yet is the one they made immediately after this one, which was for the Nintendo Virtual Boy gaming system. The process of writing this article incited me to bite the bullet and order a Virtual Boy gaming system online along with the Wario Land title for it. I’ll hopefully play it soon.

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Even 9-Volt has a Virtual Boy. I wonder if he has Wario Land.

Through the process of writing this article, it can be said that my life has been slightly affected by a random number generator. Thanks for Reading! I Appreciate it!

Gaming Post 19: New Super Luigi U

The random number generator has chosen for me to write about the Downloadable Content (DLC) for New Super Mario Bros. U called New Super Luigi U. This was the first DLC that I counted on my list as a full game, as it really felt like a full game. The truth of the matter is that although it started as DLC, it was released again on its own disc without the regular content of New Super Mario Bros. U. This happens to be one of the 26 games set within the Mario Universe that I beat within a year.

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New Super Luigi U is a New Super Mario Bros. game with a few twists thrown in. It’s for the Wii U gaming system and includes the usual features of the New Super Mario Bros. series. Basically, you can only save whenever you want after you beat the story, and the objective for completing the game 100% is collecting all of the Star Coins. As usual, there are 3 in each stage and you keep the star coins you obtain within the stage only if you make it safely to the flag at the end.

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There are as many stages in New Super Luigi U as there are in New Super Mario Bros. U, because the over world is exactly the same. The stages, however, are more difficult, and yet shorter. Though the stages are full of death traps, you are only given 100 seconds on the timer to make it to the end of the course. There are no check points, and it might even be impossible to obtain all 3 star coins in one go for certain stages. I cannot confirm if this is actually true or not, because there are some truly super players out there. It’s possible to play the game as a character called Nabbit, who is immune to enemies, but because that makes the game too easy, I only played as Luigi. I know that I’m a hypocrite because I use Restore Points in some virtual console games and yet think playing as Nabbit is cheap.

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I might have downloaded this DLC before my copy of New Super Mario Bros. U arrived in the mail, but I didn’t try the game out until I got stuck in a level in Mario U. Like always, the trick to working on New Super Mario Bros. games is to find your way to the end of the story so that you can save your progress more frequently.

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This time, even moving through the campaign was something of a trial. Luigi can save after every beaten Tower and Castle, so the idea was to beat a tower or castle before using up all of Luigi’s lives. I got as far as the tower in Soda Jungle before I really got stuck and tried my luck again with Mario U.

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Eventually, Luigi U was the last New Super Mario Bros. game left for me to 100%, and so I took a pretty significant shortcut so that I could get quickly to the end of the story. The inflatable pink baby Yoshi was very helpful in clearing many of the stages in this game.

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The infinite lives trick takes a bit of skill to perform in Luigi U. This video shows someone who is very good at performing it. Even though I never got as many as 99 lives in the level per attempt, I still made a profit of lives.

Towards the end of my completion of this game, I spent a lot of time listening to audio books from the Sherlock Holmes series. I’m a big fan of the BBC’s modern adaptation of the stories, so I’ve been listening to the originals now and then ever since.

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I was super stoked to finally complete New Super Luigi U, but the sense of accomplishment I had, while still strong even today, also gave way to a sort of emptiness. When I first heard of it, I thought the New Super Mario Bros series wouldn’t be fun because it was two dimensional, but after I had beaten the 3D Mario games, I looked to New Super Mario Bros to tide me over until the next 3D Mario game. What happened after my completion of New Super Mario Bros is that I had to find something else to fill the gap it had been filling before. I would fill that gap with the Paper Mario series, but that’s another story.

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Thanks for reading! =)

Gaming Post 10: New Super Mario Bros. Wii

The random number generator wants me to write about the time I completed New! Super Mario Bros. Wii. I started and completed this game within what I like to call my “Year of Mario” which was 365 days long spanning from November 21, 2013 to the same day of the next year. In those 365 days I beat 26 games set within the Mario Universe, which was on average 1 game from that category every 2 weeks.

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I had borrowed this game from my friend’s brother, and by the time I started the game I was very eager to play it. I was always putting it off to play other games, but it finally became one of the last Mario games I had left to beat, and so it finally took priority.

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New Super Mario Bros. Wii is a part of the New Super Mario Bros. series. They are the modern 2D Mario games that often differentiate themselves with new power ups introduced in each game. I think that New Super Mario Bros. Wii was the first main series Mario game to include the ability for more than one player to play at the same time. I first tried this game out in multiplayer mode with my friend Harlan, and we did pretty well, but we didn’t get too far. The New Super Mario games are honestly much easier to play as single player games.

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The trouble with New Super Mario Bros. is that you’re not allowed to save whenever you want until you’ve cleared the main story, but saving between stages becomes crucial for anyone aiming to complete the game 100%. The real objective for completing these games is to collect all of the Star Coins. There are always 3 hidden in each stage, but they can sometimes be risky to obtain.

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By the time I started this game, I had my strategy for 100%ing New Super Mario Bros. games down to a science.  The first step is to beat the story of the game. You may see Star Coins along the way, but if trying to get them puts Mario at risk of losing a life, strongly consider ignoring it and coming back for it later. The game saves after clearing a tower or castle for the first time as well as if you get shot out of a cannon into a higher difficulty world.

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After beating the story, you can save any time between stages, so save every time you obtain a star coin. It’s totally worth it in case anything bad happens.

Whenever you are low on lives (especially during the story), stock up using this trick.

These “infinite lives” tricks are in basically every recent Mario game. They are so consistently present that I’m pretty sure Nintendo is putting them in each game on purpose. I’m very glad that they’re there. Otherwise, I might not have been able to complete the Super Mario Bros. series.

I played this game in the summer, so I started by playing it outside.

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Go play outside!

Then it eventually got pretty humid, so I finished the game in the cool basement.

The secret final world in the game is unlocked as you collect all of the star coins, and the levels there are pretty difficult. On occasion, it was helpful to obtain a helicopter hat for Mario and save before a difficult stage. If I didn’t obtain any star coins and lost the hat, I would return to my last save and try again.

And so, I eventually finished this game 100%, and it was pretty good.

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Thanks for reading! =D