Monday, June 19, 2006

Gaming at a Minimum

As the title would suggest, I haven't been doing any real gaming of late. I'm still working through the second season of Deadwood and we've had an onslaught of family visiting, so gaming has been minimal. I have been spending more time with my DS Lite though and I'm still quite happy with my purchase. Holding it like a traditional handheld is much more comfortable than the original DS and the new screens really make the colors pop.

I traded in Brain Age for Big Brain Academy as I recently reached a stopping point in Soduku that left me bewildered, and frankly, not feeling very good about myself. I had originally placed the blame for my failure at the feet of Kevin Smith, as we were watching the movies made from his lecture series, and it's hard to concentrate on filling 3 x 3 grids with numbers when he's telling tales of Mewes fellating various video game appendages. Once we had finished listening to his tales, and we were watching something more mathematically conducive, like Angel, I had high hopes. Still, the proper strategy failed to materialize and this time I placed the blame at the feet of Amy Acker's willowy beauty and David Boreanaz's smoldering manliness. My next, and final attempt, was done at work, in the quiet morning hours of first arrival. According to the disembodied Japanese head that lives in the game, this is when I should have been at my sharpest. Failure was quick, and dismal. It was at this point, that I felt perhaps Soduku is not the game for me.

With Big Brain Academy, you are no longer searching for the fountain of youth for your mind, but instead want to have the largest, most voluminous brain in existence. The metrics in Brain Age, namely your Brain Age, made sense to me, as I would expect that a young person, brimming with vitality and potential would have a more spry, agile noggin than someone in my advanced state of decrepitude. Big Brain Academy, on the other hand, gives you your Brain Weight upon completing a puzzle. A bigger number is better, as apparantly, a highly efficient brain is a heavy brain. I'm not sure I buy this, and more importantly, it reminds me of the Hulk villain, the Leader who's large, distended cranium always freaked me out as a child.

Big Brain Academy also analyzes your performance upon completing a test and, like your bitter vindictive high school guidance teacher who told you that perhaps you should make your living as either a dog catcher or a roustabout, simply because math wasn't "your thing", labels you with an appropriate profession. So far, I should be a Fashion Designer, or a Special Olympiad. OK, so I fibbed on that last one, but that first one is all truth, all the time. As anyone who has ever seen how I dress, I find the notion that I would design clothes for others to be at best absurd, and at worst, criminal. Were I tasked with designing clothes, I would head to the nearest Old Navy, also known as my closet, pick out a variety of garments, remove all tags, and then try to pass them off as my own. I am not above such subterfuge in my quest to live according to Big Brain Academy's wishes. I am striving to reach the lofty heights of FBI Agent, as I look forward to waltzing into J. Edgar Hoover FBI building and demanding a gun and a badge, simply on the merits of my Big Brain Academy test results.

Big Brain Academy is more of a game and less like a learning tool, so I'm not sure how much it would appeal to the older set, however when I was picking up my DS Lite, there was a mother-daughter combo perusing Nintendo's wares, and Mom seemed quite excited to foray into the world of career determining puzzles. As I have never taken the opinions of the old and the infirm into account when picking my latest digital pastime, I'm not about to start now, however I do see the advantage that can be held by Nintendo's leveraging the vast, untapped potential of 0ur nation's retirees and their pension holdings. Better Iwata-san get that money than the casino owner down the road.

I think that Big Brain Academy is more fun than Brain Age, however I do miss the verbal puzzles of Brain Age. Something about reading a passage from Dickens, and imagining my synapses firing and refiring, turning my brain into a superpowered computational machine appealed to me. True, there was nothing preventing me from having both games, other than my own anal system of not owning any more games than can fit in the combination of the DS Lite and the DS Lite case, however I paid 20 bucks for Brain Age, got 9 bucks in credit for it, and played it for something like 20 hours. From a value perspective, its time had come.

I find it odd that I'm not missing gaming on my other platforms any. I love Oblivion and Guitar Hero and would like to see more of the story in God of War, however I'm content to revisit my friends amongst the hoople-heads and memorize pairs of impishly rendered animals. In fact, when I look at the games soon to be available for the various platforms, the DS, has, by far, the most exciting offerings. StarFox, a new Zelda, Cooking Mama and another episode in the classic legal series, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney promises that I'll be spending a fair amount of time with my DS Lite as the months wear on. The fact that I can, while watching an episode of Angel, pilot an Airwing, hurl boomerangs at Peahats, make a tasty chicken dish and defend the defenseless from being ground under Justice's, cold, unfeeling wheels makes me giddy as a schoolgirl. Yes, I have searched my feelings and found them giddy. Giddy and drenched with glee.


Bones said...

Cold Justice introduced the DS experience to my wife, enticing her with Sudoku, and thanks to him, I'll be owning one soon. I'm sure that Brain Age will be the first game we get, but Castlevania will be the second.

suburbanjoe said...

Good for CJ, and ultimately, good for you and Mrs. Wayne. Castelvania was really good, but I got to a point where I was in a room trying to jump on various massive clock pendulums and I had to give it up. The stress was too much. Too much!

Booster MPS said...

You know, I have never held a DS in my hand and poked around with it. I wish that I had a friend with one around here so I could check it out.

Greg said...

When I can pry my DS out of my wife's hands (she loves Sudoku and her brain is apparently younger and larger than mine) I alternate between the GBA game Fire Emblem and Mario Kart DS, which I'm enjoying much more than I thought I would. Trauma Center is also very cool. I'd love to get my hands on Pheonix Wright for less than the $50 it goes for on EBay. I'm also considering buying Castlevania and Advance Wars DS, since Meteos is boring me.

suburbanjoe said...

Both Castlevania and Advance Wars would be good additions to your library, however I'd give the nod to Advance Wars, if I had to choose.

Phoenix Wright was a great game. If you get your hands on a copy, my suggestion would be to do an episode, then play something else for a while, then come back and do an episode, and so on. Playing the game straight through can be a bit much. It isn't until the last case where you really get a bunch of touch screen functionality, but the other cases are good too.

k o w said...

Cooking Mama will fucking own me. I don't know why but it will.