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According to Cats (of ZeroWing fame), all our base are belong to him, we have no chance to survive, and we should make our time.  Cats is a very wise man/robot/alien/you-know.  As gamers, we need to make the most out of our time.  It’s a precious resource – just like gold coins or 1ups – and as working adults it’s even more of a limited commodity.

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So, since we can’t hop in our time-machine (like the Epoc from ChronoTrigger.. sorry kids), here are ten things we can do to make our gaming time that much more enriching and enjoyable.

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1. Organize your collection

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If you have games strewn about, you’ll go crazy trying to find the game you want to play.  So keep the collection organized whenever you get a spare moment.  Make it easy on yourself and when you take one game, put the other one back.  You don’t want to let things get out of hand.

Maybe take it to the next level and organize based on what you have and play.  You could sort things based on genre (like putting all the shooters together) or you could go by system and alphabetical.  The later makes it easy to find a random game, but the former makes it a lot easier to get to something that you may be in the mood for and makes a lot more sense if you have a smaller collection.

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2. Give attention based on how fun a game is.  

I personally believe that every game should have its chance to get played.  But on the other hand, there’s only so much time to spend.  So it’s better to spend an hour playing a great game like Super Mario 3 than it is to spend that time playing a bad game like Raid 2020.  

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Now I’m not saying to never play Raid 2020.  In a five-minute burst, it might be worth it.  But why spend all that time crying and yelling when you have a wonderful library of games awaiting you.

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3. Realize when you’re not having fun and move on.  

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Some days I’m in the zone and I have a real blast playing Lifeforce on NES.  And some days I’m just not in the mood, I’m frustrated, and should really be playing something else.  Make the most of your time by realizing that you’ve had your fill with a game and move on to something else.  It’ll still be there waiting for you.

Maybe keep a spare game that’s easy and short for when you’re not feeling up to the challenge.

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4. Variety is the spice of life.  

Unless you just enjoy one genre of games, you should mix things up and play games with different play-styles.  You have different wants and needs as a human being.  If your brain hasn’t been challenged enough on a particular day, you might want to give some puzzle games a try (like Tetris, Puyo Puyo, etc).  

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If you’ve had a really mentally-challenging day, unwind by playing some brawlers or grindy RPGs.  

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Maybe you want to mix it up and have some of both – so check out some fighting games or action-RPGs.  

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Maybe you’re under-stimulated so you want to play racers or shoot-em-ups.  

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Maybe you’re over-stimulated and just want to chill and experience an interative novel or slow-paced-RPG.

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5. Have some seasonal/holiday-based games lined
up for when that time rolls around.  

This way you won’t spend a lot of time looking for a game to play and can jump right into a game on your list.  One particularly good holiday for this is Halloween.  There are plenty of games that fit the Halloween theme like Monster Party, Kid Dracula, Zombies Ate My Neighbors, etc.  

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For Christmas/Snow, there’s Daze Before Christmas, Ice Climbers, Snowboard Kids, etc.  

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For Valentine’s day there’s Kid Icarus, Catherine.. And so on.  

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Maybe just write down some titles and then check off the list when you can make it through the games.  

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6. Have fun by trying something new every day.  

If you’re a collector there are probably tons of games you have either never played or have forgotten.  Dust those old games off and give them a try.  A lot of these neglected games are sequels that fall in between notable editions of a series.  

Sure you’ve played Dragon Warrior and Dragon Warrior IV, but have you really played Dragon Warrior III?  Come on.. be honest.

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Give Castlevania 2 some love instead of just 1 and 3.   Just don’t trust those pesky lying villagers when you do.

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Or maybe try playing Final Fantasy II for once instead of III (kudos to you if you already do).

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7. Playing through some of the lesser-known
or lesser-played super-hero games or AD&D games.

When’s the last time you played Spider-Man on Genesis or fired up the Baldur’s Gate games for PS2?   Give those a try since they certainly don’t get enough attention.

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And, if nothing else, the subject matter probably will appeal to you enough to keep for a fun short-term experience.  And if the games suck (I’m looking straight at you LJN Spider-Man games on Game Boy), then move on to something else.  

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Part of the novelty of these games is sometimes just the cool music and pixel art.  Even with dodgy mechanics, these games can still be experienced to player-satisfaction for a short gaming session.

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(Eye of the Beholder for SNES, anyone?.. seriously.. it’s not bad)

How about playing through all of the Lord of the Rings games – starting with the SNES version?

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8. Play a well-known game, but mix things up.  

Try making up your own house rules for playing it.  How about Super Mario with no power-ups other than being “Super” Mario?  

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Or how about playing the original Legend of Zelda without a sword? (hint: you can make it all the way to Ganon).   Things get a little easier when you get the Wand from level 6, but by then the game’s almost over.  The candle is still a great early assist though.

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Maybe trudging through Castlevania without using secondary weapons?  

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(Um.. not anymore Belmont..)

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9. Speed-run a game that you’re really good at.  

Can you fly through Super Mario Bros or Sonic?..  Try running through the levels as fast as you can and improving your time.  

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There’s a lot of replayability in these games when you start trying to optimize your gameplay.  Maybe try doing a deathless Contra run (I know it sounds hard but I’ve got a friend that pulls it off easily).  

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You might find playing fun games for sport to be a sort of entertainment all by itself.  Plus it makes for a cool party trick.

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10. Try looking for game glitches.  

Some of these are well documented (like being able to jump a certain way and go through walls or scroll through a level to the end).  

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(The Princess is somewhere in the Matrix, Neo.. I mean Mario)

Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past comes to mind with some very interesting glitches (which also let you skip through the game).  The Mega Man games are also like this in several areas.  

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(Pokemon GooOh-My-God!)

There’s also the practice of tilting a N64 cart (lifting the cart ever so slightly to where some of the pins only make partial contact) in order to enable some glitches with Zelda and the like.  This can be great fun if you’re looking for more party tricks are maybe just doing it for personal interest.

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Well I hope some of those ideas give you a chance to improve the quality of time you spend gaming or at least to make the most of what you have to work with.