The New Year is finally here! Well, it’s been here for a little over a week, but whatever, the thought still counts. If you are like myself and other master procrastinators you have some New Year’s resolutions on your hands. These may be things you’ve needed a push to get started on, or things you’ve said you would do but were really just hoping people would forget about once January 1st rolled around, but someone still remembered. Someone always remembers. Well everyone who’s said they’ll stop at the gym three times a week, and everyone out there who is resolved to get more sleep, why not start slow? Why not ease into this yearly change-up phase and get in the groove by using a fun part of your life? (And put it off as much as you can, if you really want to.) How can this be done you ask? Video games, of course!
To help get into and stay with the can-do, work hard mind set that many New Year’s resolutions require, I plan to immerse myself in constructive, creative video games. Games where you can build a world, simulate it, or games where level crafting and creative arrangements are key. Doing this will not only build confidence, but it will also help with a separate resolution that I bet is on many of your lists: playing through your backlog of games. I know an overwhelming backlog of games can be intimidating for collectors, so why not use it to help with other things. Who knows? If you find this helpful, maybe you can retool the idea and make a monthly theme to sort out and play through your backlog all year round. My January theme is creation/sim games to build up the right sort of energy for the start of the year. Here are my choices for this little experiment:
SimEarth (Turbografx Super CD)
I bought SimEarth last January at Magfest 2014 and told myself I would play it by July and then by the end of the year. Oops. Now the next MAGfest is right around the corner. Seeing as a year and several deadlines have passed this seemed like the perfect game for this month. I was right in theory, but the game just didn’t sit well with me. I enjoy games like SimCity and The Sims, but I found that SimEarth was just a little too awkward and overwhelming for my tastes in the regular game modes. To start, aside from a few of the cutscenes, the graphics were subpar and the talking earth ones were just plain annoying. Second, I really don’t see why this needed to be a Super CD turbografx game. it’s not a massive technical feat, the screen is never too busy or exciting. After a certain point however, there was just too many things that had large impacts going on and the game stopped being fun. It really didn’t do anything to get me excited about trying new things and reaching new goals. All it made me want to do was make a grilled cheese sandwich and mope, which actually goes against another thing I want to work on this year. I’m crossing SimEarth off my Backlog list but I doubt I’ll be playing it much this month. It turns out playing god isn’t an quirky and easy as I thought. Who knew?
I never thought I’d say this, but I’m not a fan of playing God.
I was excited when a US PSN release was announced for Vib Ribbon and I was psyched when I finally downloaded it with a dusty PSN card I had been saving for a special occasion. Unfortunately, for one reason or another I don’t think I played it more than once or twice after I first bought it. Life just sort of pushed it aside I guess. It happens. But, when I was looking for games that would fit my motivational backlog themes I knew this was one that had to be on the list. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the game, Vib Ribbon is a PS1 rhythm game that allows players to use pretty much any audio CD they want with the game. It takes the audio data and makes an obstacle course type level for your character to maneuver through to the music. The potential of infinite level options got me thinking and I made at least a dozen CDs to experiment and play the game with. Although for the most part I could guess what would be a good Vib Ribbon track or not the results were sometimes surprising so I decided to find what songs would produce the best, worst, and strangest levels. This game definitely works with my upbeat backlog idea. It really got me excited to try some new things and it put me in a good mood after playing it. This game was a great choice for this month.
An excerpt of my funny-weird Vib Ribbon playlist. Opera and epic rap battles don’t play nice with wire frame rhythm characters.
Animal Crossing (any)
Animal Crossing is one of the most relaxed game series out there, yet when one truly gets deep into the game, there is rarely a shortage of things to do. There’s fishing, bug collecting, fossil digging, then there’s gardening, decorating, making clothes and flags- all sorts of stuff. Animal Crossing gets you all the accomplishment and self satisfaction with none of the deadlines and hurdles of other sim games. No doubt, Animal Crossing has big growth potential and that can be both a good and a bad thing. Good because you can achieve a lot of little things at your own pace, but bad because gamers can do too much too quickly and burn out on their little town. I’ve heard many cases where this leads the player to abandon their town for longer and longer stretches of time. Then one, day a lapsed player will check into to find 95% of their town covered in weeds with rotting fruit on the ground and there isn’t a single villager that’s not pissed at you. So, here are my suggestions for using Animal Crossing as a creative-constructive month game.
1-If your town is doing good, good for you. Keep doing what you’re doin’.
2- If your town has been neglected since 2008 or you just don’t feel like going through things with the same layout or character anymore, start over. Either start with a new town or add a new character.
Laura Palmer is going to live in Twin Peaks…. There’s no way that’s gonna go wrong.
(10 points to whoever gets this referance to a 25 year old TV show)
My Animal Crossing: New Leaf town was starting to go into forever ignored territories, but it was not unsalvageable. (To be fair however, the game is less than two years old so I couldn’t do too much damage anyway. To counter the disheveled mess my main New Leaf character had become I decided to add a girl character that would feel happy and at home in my little town and surprisingly, it has made the game feel like more of a fresh experience. Over the past week I have been more eager to build, draft, and create new things. It’s too early to say for sure if my Backlog theming idea will actually influence my real life, but I am excited to be living in a tent in the snow with no real bed or possessions, so I’d say that’s a start.