I Am Excited About Never Alone

I’ll just come right out and say it:  I want – nay, need to play Never Alone.

Never Alone is a puzzle platformer by Upper One Games that is scheduled to release on November 18, 2014 for Xbox One, PS4, and Steam.  In it, the player controls Girl (sometimes called Nuna) and Fox.  Each of them has different abilities that are essential to progressing through the environment and its puzzles.  In two player co-op, the second player controls Fox.

Nuna and Fox are on a mission to “rescue her homeland from an endless blizzard.”  Oh, that homeland?  It’s the home of the Iñupiat, a group of Inuit people living in Alaska.

That’s right!  This isn’t just another game starring yet another generic white guy that’s marketed to – surprise! – white guys.  Never Alone is a game about indigenous Alaskans that is made by indigenous Alaskans.  It’s something new, something different, something empoweringAnd I am excited about it.

Before I continue, let me say that I have nothing against white guys in general.  My father is one.  My brother is one.  I’m married to a white guy, for crying out loud!  But, we hear stories from white guys’ perspectives all the time.  I love the white men in my life, but they aren’t the only people who exist.  I appreciate it when entertainment mediums acknowledge that fact.

Now that that’s out of the way, here are the reasons I’m so excited about Never Alone.

First of all, the game looks absolutely gorgeous.  It looks like a cuter, less frightening version of Limbo.  The atmosphere of gameplay videos is, well, I don’t know how best to describe it.  Haunting.  Ethereal.  Otherworldly.  I just love it.

Second, I love that I would support a Native Alaskan studio with this purchase.  Upper One Games was actually founded by a nonprofit organization – the Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) – that seeks to better the lives of Native Alaskans through addressing unemployment, alcoholism, and other issues.  That’s a worthy cause.

Besides that, Never Alone is also a beautiful attempt by the CITC to connect with their youth.  Instead of shunning video games as a waste of time, Iñupiat elders saw them as a new platform for sharing their folklore and values with the young, Xbox-loving generation.  That’s just so inspiring to me.  Games are a great storytelling medium, and I’m glad that Upper One Games sees that.  Watch the video below to hear it from their point of view.

Third, the protagonist is female.  Not only that, she’s Iñupiaq.  Meaning?  She isn’t white.  Video games with exclusively female protagonists are hugely outnumbered by male-centered games.  They get only half the marketing support, too.  Games featuring characters of color, especially female ones, are rarer still.  A game that stars one as a protagonist is practically a unicorn.  (Movies don’t fare much better.)  I desperately want to support diversity in any media, but especially in video games.

Fun fact!  The traditional protagonist of this story – which is based on an old tale called Kunuuksaayuka – is actually a boy, but the game studio changed the character’s gender.  According to the Never Alone website:  “The team really wanted to create a strong, resourceful, smart, brave character who could be a great role model for girls. Great female characters have historically been woefully under-represented in video games and the team wanted to help change that – particularly since many have young daughters themselves.”  They get it.  They really get it.

Lastly, I hope Never Alone will spark a new movement in video games.  I hope that it will be wildly popular and show developers and publishers that courting the generic dudebro gamer isn’t the only way to success.  I hope that it leads to more women and people of color working in the video game industry.  It’s a lofty hope, I know, but it’s not impossible.  The gaming audience is a diverse one, and it’s time that the industry reflected that.

Some gamers crave diversity and a new experience.  We want characters and stories that represent a wider audience.  If you give us that in a quality video game, we will gladly support your efforts.  We know that stories are powerful, and we feel that all people deserve to have their stories told.

Apparently I’m Playing “The Hunger Games Adventures” Again

I’m not sure why, but this is happening.  I haven’t exactly tried to hide my contempt for The Hunger Games Adventures.  I’m so confused.  Why is this happening?

Okay, honestly, what had happened was.  I got lost on the Hunger Games wiki and saw that a map of Panem from The Hunger Games Adventures (HGA) included District 3.  I don’t remember what article on the site included this map, but it got my brain wheels a-turning.  See, HGA only labels a district on its map if the player can actually travel to that district.  This meant that the player could go to District 3.  And if the player could go to District 3… Could I meet Beetee!?

wildblueyoshi, wildblueyoshi.com, books, catching fire, the hunger games, i love beetee, katy bug, awkward

Beetee is the main reason that Catching Fire is my favorite book in the Hunger Games trilogy. The other reasons are “It’s exciting” and “Finnick” and “Johanna.” (Why do I look like I’m trying to EAT the book, though?)

And that’s how I started playing this stupid timesuck of a facebook “game” after a nearly two year hiatus.  I say “game” because it’s really just another cleverly disguised storefront for nudging players into microtransactions.  Don’t believe me?  You poor, naive creature.  The game is obviously geared to take advantage of those with little patience and even less financial self control.

In the game, the player has a certain amount of energy.  Almost everything players do uses up a little bit of energy (the amount depends on what they’re doing).  The energy will regenerate very slowly over time.  There are also in-game items that players can make and use to regain a little energy.  Occasionally, small amounts will “drop” when the player completes a task, but that’s rare.  When you run out of energy, you can’t do much of anything until it regenerates.

Or, you can purchase an energy refill with credits instead of waiting around for it to regenerate.  How does one get credits?  The game occasionally – very occasionally – gives the player credits for certain actions.  I have 285 right now, but I’ve never purchased anything with them.  I’m pretty sure I got most of them just for starting my game.  The rest were probably promotional things from Home Depot or Taco Bell or some similarly stupid attempt at advertising.

But, if I wanted to take matters into my own hands, I could always purchase HGA credits with facebook credits.

hunger games adventures, facebook credits, stupid
Those facebook credits?  Yeeeah.  They cost real money.  Real money that could pay for real video games that are a million times better than artfully disguised, timesucking, wallet invasions.

hunger games adventures, facebook credits, stupid

God help the idiots willing to shell out hundreds of dollars for the world’s stupidest point and click adventure game.

I would be willing to put up with this mess for Beetee, though.

Beetee has become my favorite Hunger Games character – although I love Haymitch, Johanna, and Finnick almost as much – and I got excited at the prospect of meeting him.  He might ask me to do some stupid fetch quests!  Maybe I could help him with an invention, too.  This is too much.

Enter:  sad trombone.  There is no Beetee.  There is no Beetee.  THERE IS NO BEETEE.

All that pointless, dumbass clicking for nothing.

wildblueyoshi, wildblueyoshi.com, cat, speck, kitty, tortie, tortoiseshell, you are stupid

“That’s the saddest, stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”  –  Speck

And Beetee’s not the only Victor who has failed to appear.  The player goes to District 4, but there is no Finnick.  You even go to Finnick’s house and help his assistant clean the yard and pool area.  Ugh.  This is some bullshit, y’all.

Logically, I know it makes sense that you don’t meet Beetee or Finnick at this point in HGA.  When you go to Districts 3 and 4, the seventy-fourth Hunger Games is still going on.  This means that Victors are at the Capitol, mentoring their tributes, instead of doing their normal routines in the districts.

I still hope that Beetee will make an appearance, though.  What other reason is there for playing this dumb game?

No, seriously.  Please give me some justification for the fact that I’m still playing this game.

2011-01-27-Traps, traps, buttersafeHEY! THAT’S JUST MEAN!
Even if it does explain a lot…

Can you think of a nicer reason for why I’m still playing The Hunger Games Adventures?  Am I stupid for sitting through overly aggressive advertisements just to see if I’ll eventually run into my favorite characters?

Comic taken from Buttersafe. Used with permission. Click image for link to original post on buttersafe.com.

Yoshi Is Weird

As an early anniversary present, Hubbles got me a copy of Yoshi’s New Island for the 3DS.  This man knows the way to my heart!  He downloaded the game directly to the 3DS, too, so I don’t even have to take Pokemon X out of the system in order to get some of that sweet Yoshi action.  I probably shouldn’t call it “sweet Yoshi action” though, should I?

Hey look at Speck!  She’s so cute!

cat, kitty, tortoiseshell, tortie, yoshi, speck, dinosaur, blue

This isn’t the best picture to make people forget about that borderline dino-erotica thing you just said about getting “some of that sweet Yoshi action.”  Just so you know.

Anyway, after playing a few levels, I have some thoughts about Yoshi.  Mainly:  Yoshis are freaking weird. Continue reading

Summer Camp and Adorable Woopers

Earlier this summer, I worked as the pianist for an arts camp.  It was so much fun!  I loved working with the campers and with the camp’s vocal director.  Some of the campers were so smart and talented that it almost scared me.

On the first day of camp, I wore my Pokeball necklace and earrings that I made.  Several campers, including a girl named Maddie, were totally enamored with my jewelry.  After class, Maddie and another camper named Rebecca started talking with me about my jewelry, and our conversation quickly became a discussion of our favorite Pokemon.  I, of course, mentioned that Pikachu and Wooper are my favorites.

The next day, Maddie gave me this.

wooper, pokemon, wildblueyoshi, wildblueyoshi.com, maddie lowry, madeline lowry, art, hand drawnHow sweet!  She drew a Wooper for me!

After that, I found out that Maddie has weird a interest in serial killers and true crime just like I do.  We share some less weird interests, too, like classic rock and Pokemon.  Besides all that, she’s a great artist.  She’s pretty good with pencil and paper, obviously.  One day she pulled out her phone and showed me pictures of stuffed animals and AMAZING pottery she’s made, and all I could do was stare in awe.  She’s one rad kid!

That was only one highlight from my camp experience.  Working with campers like Maddie was great.  I hope the camp invites me back as the pianist next summer!  In the meantime I need to figure out where to display Maddie’s Wooper.  It’s so adorable that I just have to frame it.

Four in February 2014: FAIL

Welp.  I kind of failed at Four in February this year.  I was successful last year, but I ended up having a lot more stuff to do this year that had nothing to do with video games.  Who knew that I had all this work to do?  Real life sucks sometimes.

wildblueyoshi, wildblueyoshi.com, phone call, cell phone, katy bug, real life, you kinda suck right now

“Hello. Is this real life? This is Katy. Just wanted to let you know that you kinda suck right now.”

February was filled with work, decorating our house, moving furniture, litterbox scooping…  Gaming didn’t fit into that very well.  Anyway, without further ado, here is my fail list for Four in February 2014.

Borderlands 2:  Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt

Okay, this was more of a Pyrrhic victory than a straight up failure.  This DLC package for Borderlands 2 is the only one of my Four that I beat.  I played through it in a co-op game with Hubbles.  We liked it well enough at first, but some of the missions are so tedious that playing became a real drag.  Der monstrositat frustrated us to the point where we just abandoned the mission entirely.

We died many cheap deaths before we ever even got to the terribly designed final boss – who, by the way, sucked all the remaining fun out of this DLC.  It should be renamed “Cheap Death Magee.”  Borderlands usually has enough character and humor to offset small gameplay issues, but “Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt” was sorely lacking in the fun department.  Simply put, I don’t recommend it very highly.

Pokemon X

I just plain suck at beating Pokemon games in a timely fashion.  All I planned to do this month was to beat the last four gym leaders, but I only beat two of them.  Oh, well.  At least my goal made me progress a tiny bit faster than I normally do.  I intend to get the last two badges this month for “More in March.”  More in March is a thing that folks on the Four in February facebook page invented last year for those who didn’t finish their Four in February.  I plan to make good use of it after my terrible performance last month.  That’s two weeks to prepare for each gym.  If I can’t handle that then I have bigger problems than “real life.”

cat, kitty, tortoiseshell, tortie, speck, maine coon, ibsen, shitcake, wildblueyoshi, sleep

“You wanna talk real life? You take me to the vet, force medicine into me, and then you make me come home to deal with the fuzzy yellow shitcake back there. Still wanna talk real life?”
Thank you, Speck, for that attitude adjustment.

Breath of Death VII

You know how I said that I was doing well with this one two weeks ago?  Uh, about that…  For no reason whatsoever I suddenly stopped playing it.  This game is so fun.  Why did I start ignoring it?  I must remedy this ASAP.  Unfortunately, I won’t have time to play it for at least a day.  WHYYYYYYYY

Zombies Ate My Neighbors

Yup… Still haven’t touched it.  I haven’t even set up my retro gaming station.  I am made of fail.

I am ashamed.  I hope you did better with Four in February than I did.  The only thing left for me to do is cry and play catchup for More in March.

Magikarp: The Rabbit of the Pokémon World

Everyone knows that Magikarp is useless.  It’s effectively a placeholder pokémon that you level up until it evolves into Gyarados.  Sure, you can technically beat the Elite Four with it, but that’s more novel than useful, even if you’re as impressed with the feat as I am.

After I read this article on Kotaku, however, I started to feel bad for the poor, bullied little fish.  Magikarp is one of the few pokémon the Pokédex says is eaten by other pokémon.  Its own Pokédex entries are needlessly cruel with insults about how it is pathetic and weak.  The Pokédex of Diamond version says “No one knows why it has managed to survive.”  That statement got me thinking way too hard about Pokémon for way too long.  Why is Magikarp so common and widespread in the Pokémon world?

That’s when I realized:  Magikarp is the rabbit of the Pokémon universe!  Not Buneary, not Bunnelby.  Magikarp.

magikarp, ken sugimori, pokemon, bunny, rabbit, ears, stupid editing

Original art by Ken Sugimori. The original image I used for editing is at this address: http://archives.bulbagarden.net/wiki/File:129Magikarp.png

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A Pokémon Post in Two Parts: The Choice and The Snag

As I wrote about starting a new generation of Pokémon games and finishing a previous generation, I realized this post would make more sense if I presented it in two distinct portions.

Part One:  The Choice

Last time, I went on and on about how I needed to hurry up and beat Pokémon White before Pokémon X and Y were released.  (More on that below in Part Two.)  One thing I didn’t mention was that Hubbles and I were struggling to answer one question:

How do we decide which game to play?

cat, kitty, monorail cat, speck, tortie, tortoiseshell, cat butt, lucky cat butt, fat cat, wildblueyoshi

We tried petting the lucky cat butt for guidance, but it just pooted at us and demanded more pets.

Continue reading