My Hopes for Zelda Mobile

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I don’t consider myself a mobile gamer. I have some time-killers I play on the train, but I still struggle to see mobile gaming as “real gaming.”

But The Legend of Zelda is making the leap to mobile devices later this year and I’ll be on board for that. MORE ZELDA! Still, this version needs to feel as big as the franchise, especially on the coattails of Breath of the Wild, while adopting a mobile formula that encourages habitual use. Some features and functions that I’d love to see include:

Daily puzzles. The Legend of Zelda is legendary for its challenging puzzles- there are 120 shrines to solve in Breath of the Wild. With the breadth of functionality offered by mobile devices from touch screens to gyroscopic/movement-based controls, puzzle innovation is nearly endless and can be varied enough to not feel repetitive. Give me a new challenge every day

Real World integration. Hyrule is a HUGE place and I want to feel like I’m exploring it in the real world. Much like walking hatches eggs in Pokemon Go, I’d like my daily physical activity to translate to my mini hero in-game. Do I need to walk 3 miles to get to Zora’s Domain and unlock new puzzles? Bring me my running shoes and let’s go on a quest!

Link as a secondary character. I’d be less critical of it as a Zelda game and more delighted I get to play alongside my favorite characters and themes. Let me customize my own sprite who interacts with Link in my own story. Maybe Link is my silent sensei, training me to protect Hyrule so he can retire. Or maybe he needs me to rescue him! I love playing as Link, but I’m craving my own adventure. Mobile would be a perfect platform to try this kind of alternative story formula since it’s not a traditional vehicle for Zelda games and players’ expectations for mobile games are vastly different than console. There could even be an opportunity for microtransactions to buy new character features, clothes or accessories.

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Selfies! It’s mobile! Come on. Those Wind Waker selfies were adorable and hilarious. Nintendo could drive engagement and promotion with a selfie feature that’s easily sharable to social.

What do you want to see in a mobile Zelda game?

How Nintendo Switch is Driving me Back to Physical Games

I’m a Taurus. As a lover of physical things, I like to surround myself with the material items that speak most to me and bring joy into my space- candles, jewelry, art, plants.

As a New Yorker, that space is already filled the moment I step into it. The items I keep need to be deeply meaningful and beautiful as well as fairly functional. Moving to digital downloads has helped me reduce clutter AND keep a larger library (read: daunting backlog).

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Hiding my games within a clear carrier from the old Club Nintendo days

And while I do still have a nice little collection of physical DS games for which I’ve found accessible-yet-invisible storage solutions, I actively seek out digital downloads to preserve my sacred space.

Nintendo Switch– and particularly indie game publishers- are changing that.

Artful packaging draws me in a variety of ways. The clear plastic shell for Switch games is much less visible and intrusive than the white 3DS and blue WiiU shells were. It’s a major upgrade toward keeping my space looking like it belongs to someone who is at least trying to look like a grown up.

There’s been a lot of debate about the size of the box relative to the size of the game, but in a loud retail environment, you need a canvas for enticing visuals. Nicalis has even released two editions for The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ each with covetable  covers.

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via Nicalis

It seems instruction manuals started to phase out slowly.  Around the time Club Nintendo shuttered, I don’t remember seeing them anymore at all. I always loved thumbing through the manuals, reading character backstories, admiring the artwork and learning a handful of secrets. The “notes” pages in the back were filled with my hand-scrawled discoveries, codes and strategies like a little game diary.

The Nintendo games I’ve purchased so far for Switch continue the trend of missing manuals, but indie publishers like Nicalis have begun to revive them. Cave Story+ was just announced for a June 20th Nintendo Switch release- with an instruction booklet highlighted.

The Binding of Isaac included a gorgeous instruction manual which conjured nostalgia feels for the original Legend of Zelda on NES with its shiny gold cover.

And that’s not all! Indie physical releases are becoming known for including extras and trinkets. If you pre-ordered Isaac from Amazon (or were lucky enough to get an early edition from another retailer), you got two sheets of stickers AND a reversible game cover!

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Goodies in my copy of The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+

When and IF Axiom Verge comes to the Switch- the chances of which Tom Happ told me were “decent” back in January, though a Switch release has not yet been confirmed– I’d suspect it will follow a similar format to its other physical releases and include some extras like the STELLAR soundtrack.

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It’s exciting again to pick up a physical copy of a game. And I no longer feel like game cases on my shelf look childish or take away from my aesthetic. Hopefully the future of Switch releases holds many more surprises and shelf candy!

Friday Five- Your Wish Is YOUR Command

If ever there was a year to start a regular gratitude ritual, this one is it. Recommended writing for all of you who need to shrug off the “ugh” and rewire your brain to see the positive. So in addition to one of today’s 5 things, this weekly list of things I’m loving will also serve as a cheery space.

1. An Uncluttered Life.
“The thing most people resist when making a big change [is] the idea that they have to give up some things they may like to get what they love. And they stumble over this.” Since my boyfriend moved in on the 1st, every day has been an exercise in decluttering. I’ve become a better organizer. I’ve learned to let go of things that I like, but that no longer serve me. This applies to my emotional and spiritual self too. I spent a lot of time making due with things that I liked while waiting for what I wanted without realizing that what I wanted couldn’t come until I made the space for it. “it isn’t what you add to your life that makes it great; it’s what you take away.” Toss whatever clutters your heart, your mind, body and your physical space so you have ROOM for the things you want to come into your life.

2. Adopt a Roach for Valentine’s Day. Support the Wildlife Conservation Society and rid yourself of pesky ex (or patriarchy 🙄) energy with this little ritual. This is such a cute and creative little Galentine’s gift for yourself (or a friend who needs to laugh over a former flame). No ill will. All for a good cause and your own levity. And chocolate 🍫. Most importantly chocolate.

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Heyyyyyyyy

3. Shantae: Half Genie Hero. Way back in 2013 I backed this game on Kickstarter because I have a massive crush on Shantae. I just love this little ass kickin’, hair whippin’ heroine and her latest adventures are a WISH GRANTED! I’ve been streaming a little, but mostly I’m playing offline to work on a speedrun later. I will definitely be streaming more. From counterfeit mermaid factories to magic carpet races, intense platforming challenges are woven into a creative storyline that keeps me engaged in every town in Sequin Land. Highly recommend this game. Seriously, get it. Or you’ll feel like this bro.

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You guys don’t get to peek inside yet…

4. Bullet Journaling. The basic premise of a bullet journal is that it combines your planner, to-do list and journal into one simplified system for organizing your life and tracking patterns. There are a ton of different ways to set it up. Here are some ideas. Mine doesn’t look NEARLY so pretty, but I’m seeing positive changes related to mood, appetite and creative output among other things.

I also carved out a space each month for daily gratitude. The goal is to write one thing each day, but some days there are tons! Watching the list build is positive reinforcement in the beauty of the universe enough! Other suggestions for sections- book reading tracker, doodle space, poem prompts and scream boxes (for when you really need to let it all out). And if you’re one of those Washi tape people, go crazy! I’m barely a straight lines person.

5. Soulmates. 🧀. When I was 15, I was madly in love with a boy 2 grades ahead of me. He was popular and athletic, but also dark and brooding and mysterious. I was weird and artsy, often spacing out and constantly scribbling in journals. Somehow, we became friends. He convinced me to manage the Boy’s Tennis team and we’d share one pair of headphones on the bus trips to away games or I’d lie in the sun watching practice until he was done and could drive me home in his “super cool” Honda del Sol. While I not-so-subtly pined for him, he strung me along just enough, but remained aloof. We carried on through his senior year talking all night and casually ignoring feelings all day. Then he graduated. I was heartbroken. I was sure he was my soulmate, but life sort of went on…

We’d talk on and off over the years, but he never seemed particularly interested in me as more than a friend and confidant, so I eventually let go of my infatuation. Until a couple months ago when the cadence of our communication picked up again drastically. I’m of course living in New York City and he had just relocated back to our hometown on the Island of Misfit Toys in South Jersey. We hadn’t seen each other in almost 10 years, but started talking every night for 6+ hours. Gradually my feelings came back and I suspected he was catching some as well. On November 29th, I realized I was in love with him. I was not happy about this discovery. There was a lot at stake and I was really loving my solo life.

BUT he was feeling some things too. So he decided he needed to come for a visit to validate them. December 1st, he was waiting in my apartment when I got home from work looking nervous, but otherwise exactly like he did in high school. Then he kissed me. Then we went to get dinner. Then I took him to Barcade because drinks were required and I wanted to win at Joust. There at the bar, he cornered me in that sexy way that makes me crazy, looked into my eyes and asked me point blank if I’m in love with him. I downed the rest of my drink and told him I am. And guess what? He is too! 🎆

We spent December apart trying to figure out what in the fuck we were going to do about all this, arguing about how crazy this is, browsing engagement rings and lamenting that we missed SO MANY YEARS before landing on the only possible solution: He’d have to move into my little 300sqft East Village apartment on January 1st. So that’s what happened. And we’ve been grinning like idiots for the last 27 days, laughing about how all this even happened and enjoying whimsical sleeptalking psychedelic poetry slams.

So sometimes your 15 year-old self/18 year-old self gets it right and you just have to wait until your 32 year-old self/35 year-old self has her/his shit together enough to make it happen and make it last. 😊

 

Games IRL

Not-so-secret about me: I put more hours into The Binding of Isaac than just about any other game over the last couple years. Now I’ve gotten my boyfriend solidly addicted. And Mr. McMillen can count on my preorder for The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+on Nintendo Switch because a) it comes out at launch, b) I prefer consoles to PC so I’ve been waiting on this update and c) I have an addiction that I justify under the guise of supporting this great game on every platform.

So as I was rushing to a whiskey tasting over the weekend, it should be no surprise that running into Mom’s Heart in the East Village stopped me in my tracks, made me curl into the fetal position and cry in the street.

Follow me on Instagram for more #GamesIRL and tag your own real life game finds!

Preorder your copy of Afterbirth+ and slay Mom’s Heart on Switch!

Love in the Time of the Nuclear Apocalypse

Each year, I support wildlife conservation and self love by naming a cockroach after an ex for Valentine’s Day. It’s cathartic, tax-deductible, and includes chocolate! (Assuming you send your naming certificate to yourself and NOT the aforementioned ex, that is.)

The Bronx Zoo has been doing this donation event for years and I truly love it. They offer a few different donation tiers that come with various treats, but all tiers include a certificate (digital only at the $10 tier) where you can dedicate your cockroach to your ex. For $10 a pop, go nuts and name all your exes!

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Real ex’s name redacted


I like to get creative with my certificates and work them into an annual ritual. Write a little poem. Craft an insect themed analogy for the relationship. Jot a memory that may be sticking with you. Meditate over the certificate, visualizing your love and energy returning you. Envision any hold your past relationships still hold on you as hooks, vines or whatever elemental image works for you and see those strings of attachment breaking apart. Then, burn the certificate to make sure there’s no lingering energy and allow you both to breathe free of each other. Enjoy the chocolates in a cleansing bath!

Make a donation here. They start at just $10 for a digital certificate or $35 for a physical one with chocolates!

First Look: Nintendo Switch

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Splatoon 2 in handheld mode on Nintendo Switch

After an awkward Nintendo Direct Thursday night, I had some concerns about the Nintendo Switch. There weren’t any shocking new reveals about the hardware. The presentation was clunky and poorly executed. By the end, I was having  Wii U flashbacks and preemptive buyer’s remorse about the lack of launch titles.Over the weekend I had an exclusive opportunity to experience the Switch first hand at a “secret location,” thanks to my Gal Friday Gluxbox and I’m pretty confident it’s going to change the game.

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Breath of the Wild Link “greeted” us at the entrance to the space

The space was configured across two rooms with the main room divided into different console use scenarios. Nintendo created an airplane,  a cozy living room, the interior of an RV and a seat in “Mario’s Diner” (to this displaced Jersey girl’s delight and amusement). A huge presentation screen divided the room where Nintendo staffers held gameshow-like demos throughout the evening. The rest of the space featured lounge areas where we could kick back and kick ass.

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It’s a squid! It’s a kid! It’s a squid!

Splatoon 2 was easily one of my highlights. The station showcased both TV and handheld play, and allowed us to team up and splet other attendees. I was massively disappointed with the Wii U, but Splatoon was THE game that revived my console from the dusty graveyard of my entertainment center. Naturally, I was excited to check out a new weapon and MUCH smoother gameplay in Splatoon 2 on the Switch. On the handheld configuration, the gyroscope feeks much more intuitive. The system itself is thinner, smoother and far less clunky than the GamePad was, offering a less frustrating experience that STAAAAAAYS FRESH!

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This is what championship milkers look like

We ducked over to two large glass booths housing Nintendo staffers in silly hats to try out 1 2 Switch. This game, which should come packaged with the console but does not, includes a variety of games that show off the hardware features and functionalities. Wild West Dueling pitted Glux and I against each other in a showdown, eyes locked and intimidation faces on!

If you saw the Nintendo Direct, you may remember a demonstration involving ice cubes shaking in a glass. Without the joycon in your hand, it was impossible to make an impact. But playing Balls (yes. That’s literally the name of the game) you can really feel a number objects rolling around “inside” the joycon (yes. The object of the game is literally to feel balls).

By far the best of the 1 2 Switch demo was a little game called Milk.

Yep. You strategically squeeze and tug the joycon to simulate “milking a cow” and whoever milks the most glasses wins. Hysterical. I was on the floor laughing because I am a grown ass adult here. Is this game worth being sold separately for $49.99? Probably not. Again, it’s a cool way to show off all the capabilities but software like this should really come preinstalled.

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One of three Inkling Girl options in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Many people seem pretty disappointed that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe won’t include any new tracks, but I LOVE the new Inkling additions and their karts. Plus, Nintendo brings back Battle Mode in this version- a nostalgic throwback I’ve been missing in every Mario Kart game since I was a kid. I’m looking forward to reliving my sibling rivalries from afar!

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Making Nintendo Great Again

After several addictive battle rounds and some races, I got called up on stage with a stranger to play a co-op puzzle game, Snipperclips. This may be a cult hit for the Switch. It was unexpectedly, but delightfully engaging, silly and just challenging enough that I didn’t make a total ass of myself on stage. I won the sweet hats Glux and I are modeling above.

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Switch swag

We got some time on Street Fighter, PuyoPuyo Tetris, Just Dance and others. The comfort and ease of using the joycons in their various forms for every game, regardless of intensity, surprised me throughout the event. I particularly loved being able to use the joycon independently in each hand. When we played multiplayer games that utilized the joycon completely independently, they were small, but still totally manageable and comfortable. The whole system felt quite sleek and sturdy, unlike the juvenile and clunky Wii U Gamepad.

If you’re a dude or have bigger hands, you might want to consider the pricey pro controller. I’ll likely grab one for my boyfriend, along with the joycon charging grip (because we are going to be lost in this thing for the rest of the year). We also saw little wheel peripherals for Mario Kart- a fun novelty, but they’ve never done anything for my racing experience, personally.

We had to leave way too soon, but got some nice swag and a thirst for more Switch. March 3rd can’t come soon enough!

If you’ve been quick/lucky enough to score a preorder, I recommend trading your Wii U in sooner than later before the market floods and the trade value drops. I traded my system and several games in on Monday for over $400 in credit!!!  That’ll more than cover the accessories I want to get the most out of the Switch when it finally launches.

2016 Credits

So 2016 was a motherfucker of a year, huh? Rife with death, sadness, struggle and one WTF after another, we all deserve an award for emerging from it. I am battle scarred. I am exhausted. And I am determined to face 2017 ready to fight hard and play hard and love hard. Starting by looking back at what WAS awesome about 2016:

What I did // Took my family on an Obscene Art History tour at MoMA. Ran my 3rd Hot Chocolate 15k (in the rain, with no music and KILLED my previous time by 20 minutes!). Saw The Dandy Warhols. Started a new Skeeball team that placed in city finals and qualified for Nationals. Joined the Gotham Girls Roller Derby Rec League and nearly broke my damn back. Lost a job. Got a new job. Took my sister to Vegas to live her dream and see Britney Spears. Got into a fight at a Britney Spears concert. Saw The Beach Boys and Sloan and BUSH THREE TIMES! Took a knife and hatchet throwing class. Saw Soul Asylum. Went to Brew at the Zoo with Gluxbox. Ran the NYC Turkey Trot. Got to see one of THE greatest games in college football history when Penn State defeated Ohio State in an amazing display of talent, grit and sheer team chemistry. Went to NYCC and spent way too much money. Formed an amazing tribe of girl friends. Discovered the carney-est beer ever – Funnel Cake Ale by Forgotten Boardwalk Brewing.

Most-played albums // Allie Goertz * Sad Dance Songs (Rick & Morty concept album). The Dandy Warhols * Distortland. Sloan * Never Hear The End Of It. Bush * All of them 😂.

Most-loved shows & films // Deadpool. Game of Thrones (I watched ALL of it this year). Shameless. Black Mirror. Rick and Morty, obviously. The Love Witch in all its campy glam glory. Scream Queens.

Top purchases // Riedell R3 roller derby skates. The Wild Unknown. NES Classic Edition. Nintendo Zelda edition Vans! A long weekend at The Cosmopolitan in Vegas.

Style obsessions // RED LIPS. Wearable art. Retro. Gamer bounding. Cartoon colors and jewel tones. Bomber jackets. Biker boots. Psychedelic patterns. Caftans.

Best things I did for myself // Joined the Radical Self Love Coven. Tuned myself in to the Universe. Fell madly in love with myself. Reconnected with my soulmate. Burlesque burlesque burlesque!

Top games // FTL (PC). Risk of Rain (PC). Star Wars Battlefront (PS4/Xbox One). Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (WiiU). Earthbound (3DS). Spelunky (PC). Gun Slugs (3DS). Overwatch (Xbox One). Animal Crossing New Leaf Welcome Amiibo update (3DS). Monster Hunter Generations (3DS). Pokemon Moon (3DS). World of Final Fantasy (PS4). Final Fantasy XV (PS4). Shantae: 1/2 Genie Hero (PS4).