All posts by simpleek

A New Yorker who enjoys fashion and geeky things and blogs about them. It's the best of both worlds. Check out my blog at

Review A Bad Game: Myst (Nintendo DS Version)

Image by Flickr User: String Anomaly
Image by Flickr User: String Anomaly

There aren’t a ton of games I’ve played where I thought it was absolutely terrible. Part of it has to do with not being a long time gamer and the other being I’ve based most of my game purchases on reviews and recommendations from trusted friends and family. I did, however, make a newbie mistake in my eagerness to dive straight into the wonderful world of video games.

The one game I made the mistake of purchasing when I was new to the gaming scene and had bought my first portable handheld, the Nintendo DS Lite, was Myst for the DS. The game was originally an adventure puzzle game made for the PC. I heard about the game, but never played it. I never got into PC gaming much. When I was in dire need of a game to play, I looked through the DS section of my local Best Buy, trying to find a game that was fun and affordable.

I saw Myst and read the back of the box. The game has you play as a character who is simply named “Stranger,” who uses a special book to travel to the mysterious island of Myst. You interact with the world to unlock the secrets of the island and its characters. I’m a fan of adventure/fantasy type stories and I thought Myst might be right up my alley. I should have looked up the reviews before purchasing the game.

Fans of the original Myst said their main complaints with the game was the bad transfer from PC to DS. The graphics were smaller, there were too many glitches, and the controls were pretty awkward, considering a lot of the game relies on interacting with the objects you see in the game to gain clues about the mysterious world of Myst.

A lot of the reviewers’ complaints were all correct. While I can’t compare the quality of the graphics between the PC and DS, as I’ve never played the game until the time I purchased it, controlling the game was a nuisance. I didn’t get very far with the game before I left it on my shelf neglected and forgotten. You would think for a point and click PC game, Myst would have translated well for Nintendo’s touch and tap capabilities. It did not.

Reading a book in Myst was annoying. Pages accidentally skipped when I tapped on it, before I had a chance to read the next part of a story or clue. Because the graphics were pretty small, you had to zoom in to read the text in a book. After playing the game for an hour, I didn’t think the world of Myst was as exciting to delve into as I had originally thought. I was instantly bored with the game and stopped playing it after that.

I don’t doubt the original Myst was a better experience on the PC than DS, but I don’t plan on picking up a copy of this game for my computer either. With so many other games to play, I don’t feel inclined to purchase Myst for the PC and play it how it was originally intended to be played––point and click without the graphics being scaled down to fit a small, portable handheld.

I may have wasted about $20 on Myst and have since sold the game back for absolutely nothing, but I did learn a valuable lesson from this experience––always read the reviews before purchasing. Or at least consult trusted friends and family for their recommendations on good games to play.

Gimme More – The Urge To Collect More Games

Screenshot by Flickr User: seamonkeyelephantseal
Screenshot by Flickr User: seamonkeyelephantseal

When I added video games to my many geeky hobbies, I never realized how easy it is to watch your game collection go from one or two games to ten or twenty games piled high in a corner.

My gamer friends have told me there are maybe just a handful of games they completed in full, while the rest are left partially started or not started at all. Despite knowing this, they all can’t resist the urge to buy more games as the newest, hottest titles continue to come out every year.

Collecting games, like you collect baseball cards or a stamp collection, was a foreign concept to me. In my opinion, it made more sense to finish a game you already owned first before buying a new one, or waiting for a price drop so the game is cheaper to purchase. I naively thought how silly it was to keep buying more and more games until you couldn’t keep up. I eventually caught on that the urge to collect more games is a lot stronger than one might think.

Why is that? Why do gamers want to have more games in their possession than they can actually play in a day? A week? Or even a month? What I discovered from my friends and from my own experience is if a game has been reviewed highly and looks cool after watching the game trailers, we will buy it.

We are easily swayed by awesome graphics, a fun or different gameplay system, and the story. It may also be the latest, hottest title everyone is currently playing. You want to be among the cool kids playing what everyone else is currently playing. You want to trade stories of how this boss fight was epic or discuss what that shocking ending meant. It could also be a way of avoiding spoilers faster if you get the game the day of its release.

Personally, I don’t buy too many games the day it’s released. I’m a bargain shopper by nature and I really don’t see the point of throwing down $40 or $50 on a single game, even if it’s one of the best games to come out in a month or year. I also have to really want a game that badly to get it on the first day or week of it coming out (I’m looking at you Dragon Age 3). I’m content with waiting until the price drops a bit or when there’s a sale. Once I do see the game I’ve been dying to get for a while go on sale, there’s no holding me back from buying it straightaway.

This also brings me to another reason why we seem to accumulate so many games––price drops and sales are our best and worse friend in the world. During holiday shopping seasons, I’ve seen a good number of the newly released games go on sale at decent prices from the regular. It calls out to me like a Siren’s song. Before I know it, I’m whipping out my credit card and hitting purchase before I even have a chance to figure out what just happened. It’s also comforting to know a game is in my possession, waiting for me to play it when I’m ready.

I also think we can’t help but collect more games because we want the available option of playing it when we want to. This has happened to me recently when I was trying to figure out what to play, but didn’t feel like playing the current game I’m trying to finish. “You know, I don’t feel like playing anymore Fire Emblem Awakening right now. What should I play instead? Oh, let me start playing Telltale’s The Walking Dead. I haven’t tried it yet and I’m in a story driven game kind of mood.”

If I didn’t have The Walking Dead among my piles of games, and I wanted to play it, there isn’t much I can really do about it other than to choose a game I have already beaten but has a high replay value, like Mass Effect, to satiate my urge for a story based game.

There’s this desire to want to play everything when realistically we can only play so much. For some of us, we have summer vacations from school where you can have a marathon gaming session and reduce your building backlog. For the rest of us who are working adults and have responsibilities in the real world, our time isn’t what it used to be. We’re lucky if we can carve an hour or two of our time to play a level here and there. Backlogs for us is just a reminder that we may never get around to playing everything, despite our best intentions to try.

I think I’m okay with knowing this. As one good friend said to me recently, to comment on his monster size backlog, “When I die, maybe I’ll just have my consoles and games buried with me. I can play them in the afterlife.” Not a bad idea.

Community Post: Some Games Are Better On Co-op

Screenshot by Flickr User: jsb31786
Screenshot by Flickr User: jsb31786

Around the time I got my Xbox 360 a few years ago, I didn’t have an Xbox Live Gold subscription. Friends who had an Xbox and a Gold subscription kept telling me I needed to get one. The reason? You can only play with your friends online if you have a subscription. This was also around the time when I was working at a part-time job and my finances were pretty tight.

Paying for a Gold subscription was quite expensive when you factor in the salary I was earning at the time. It wasn’t like I had no intention of getting one. It was just going to take some time for me to get one. The other issue was I didn’t have too many multiplayer games in my possession either. I wasn’t in any rush to get the subscription. Luckily, I’m blessed with good friends and family. My cousin took it upon himself to buy me a Gold subscription card for Christmas and one of my best friends decided to get me Halo Reach to start me on the path of multiplayer games I could play with both of them. Yup, truly blessed.

I generally like playing games by myself. I want the ability to absorb the story, the game environment, and to just have a quiet moment between me and the game. I knew playing online and on co-op with my friends would be fun, but there are times when you just want to be alone without the distraction of having to talk on a headset while you play. I like paying attention to the dialogue being said in a game, and when you have your friends talking at the same time a character in a game is talking, it’s really hard to stay focused on both. But when I do play co-op, I only want to play with people I know rather than random strangers who are paired up with you in a party match game.

I’m not the best player in the world, and I rather be playing in the company of friends who aren’t asses and judgey about how much I suck at first person shooters. From what I have read of people who do play co-op and are matched with total strangers who are playing the same game as you are, not all players are nice and respectful of other players who may not be as good as they are. Or on the opposite end of the spectrum, you may be a better player than this person from whateverville USA, and they are a sore player because of it and insult you. That’s a separate issue and a different topic for another time though.

Eventually, I did discover how some games are better to play with friends than alone. Take for instance, Borderlands. When I received the game as a gift, I was told by others who have already played the game and completed it that it’s better to play with someone else than on single-player mode. I never had the chance to try it on single-player, but when I managed to get together with maybe one or three of my friends for a game of Borderlands, they were right about it being an infinitely better experience to play as a group than alone.

Large groups of enemies are easier to take on as a group. Whatever your weaknesses are when you play the game, there’s someone who will have your back. Strategies can be built and agreed upon to take bosses down. One person might say, “You distract him by doing this and then I’ll take him from behind when he’s completely trained on you.” There’s also some silliness and goofing around when you play with friends.

I remember one time when I played Borderlands with my cousin, my best friend, and my best friend’s girlfriend. There were points in the game where you could get a vehicle, and my best friend’s girlfriend loved getting a pink car and trolling her own boyfriend by threatening to run his character over. It was hilarious hearing my best friend shout, “No, don’t run me over!” and you see his character running away from the pink car. I would sit in the gunner seat and watch as this craziness was happening before my eyes.

Another friend who I have been finishing up Borderlands with recently told me she never finished the story mode for the first game alone, but she finished it for Borderlands 2. She found the world of Pandora in the first game a bit drab and depressing while she played by herself. It also didn’t help that enemies got too hard to fight against on her own. By having the two of us play together, it made going through the entire story mode easier to do. There were also some funny moments that happened while we played and weird game glitches we experienced together.

I also think an advantage of playing a game that has co-op in their story modes is it makes you more likely to finish a game than if you played it on your own. I can’t tell you how many times I have started games on my own, only to not finish it because I get distracted by other games that keep coming out.

While I wouldn’t trade those moments where I can sit down and play a game by myself, I do enjoy finding a day and time with friends to play co-op. Not only do you get to experience the game together for the first time (or maybe for the twentieth time), but it gives you some good memories you can reminisce over. It’s also the best way to do stupid things with friends you wouldn’t have done otherwise if you are alone.

Gaming And Me – My Identity As An Intermediate Gamer

Screenshot by Flickr User: nixinStudio
Screenshot by Flickr User: nixinStudio

Many of you may not be familiar with me or my blog over at simpleek. If you visit my blog, you may notice how I call myself the “intermediate gamer.” Ever since I started blogging over a year ago, I’ve been thinking a lot about my experiences and my identity as a gamer. I consider myself an intermediate gamer because my level with games lies somewhere in the middle. I’m not completely clueless about gaming because I have watched my cousin play Mario and other games that would be considered classic and retro at this point. I have held a controller before and played a little Mario, Mortal Kombat, and Aladdin as a kid. For some reason having a brief flirtation with games as a kid wasn’t enough for me to become a hardcore gamer.

My transformation as a gamer didn’t come until 2009, the year I decided I wanted to purchase a Nintendo DS and then the Wii. The Wii attracted me to gaming because of the motion controls. I don’t know why, but the idea of interactive gaming that encourages you to get up and move was appealing. By purchasing the DS and Wii it just opened up the floodgates to more gaming devices my friends felt I needed to have. When the PSP was added to the bunch, thanks to a friend who gave me one as a birthday gift one year, I thought this would be the last portable handheld device and console I would have in my possession.

Friends thought they could sway me to add an Xbox 360 or a Playstation console to my growing collection of gaming devices. I refused for the longest time. I was content with Nintendo and all the current systems I had. And the games! They just never stopped coming. I bought a few and then each Christmas and birthday were opportunities for my friends to pile on games they thought I would like to add to my growing library. I still have an insane backlog of games. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to put a dent on them.

My resolve against getting another console finally broke sometime in the fall of 2012. My friend showed me Dragon Age: Origins and I was a goner. It quickly became, “Why hello there, Xbox 360! Where have you been all my life?” The rest, as the tired saying goes, was history. I was knee deep into gaming and there was no turning back. I don’t regret my transition into a full on gamer. It just makes splitting my time amongst other leisure activities way trickier than it was before. Navigating my new found status as gamer was exciting, confusing, and a little intimidating.

Being the intermediate gamer meant I was no where near being a total infant in the realm of games, but I wasn’t an expert either. When I bought my Xbox and it came time to play a game where I had to get used to all the buttons and joysticks the controller had, I was as awkward and unsure as the girl who waited with baited breath to find out if the guy she had a crush on in high school may actually like her back. That’s how I compare the experience. It was a little embarrassing to find the simple use of a controller hard to grasp. What do all these colorful buttons do? When do I need to use the left/right trigger buttons? Why am I getting dizzy from moving the camera with this joystick? Believe me, there were plenty of issues I had to overcome when using the Xbox controller for the first time. These were not issues I encountered with the Wiimote.

Nowadays, these aren’t issues I have anymore. I was amazed by how quickly I got over them. It was a matter of getting used to something unfamiliar. A few years have gone by since my entrance into gaming, but I’m still reluctant to call myself an expert gamer. I have a lot to learn and plenty of games to conquer, but maybe in a few years time I can proudly call myself an expert gamer.