Animal Crossing, My First Family Game

For the last few years, I keep putting aside some money to (maybe) buy a Nintendo Switch, only to talk myself out of it for ‘grown-up’ reasons. You know the kind: do I really need it? I should use the money on something more productive… and so on.

Knowing I would do the same thing this year, my amazing wife stepped in and bought me the Switch for Xmas. Specifically, the Animal Crossing edition. Her intention, of course, was for me to play it. What she didn’t realise was that Animal Crossing: New Horizons would be the first game that our little family would enjoy together – me, her and our little 1 year old. It’s turned out to be our first family video game.

I knew I was going to love ACNH. There are other games that I want to dive into on the Switch, but I’d mentioned to my wife that Animal Crossing would be a great first game. I was not disappointed. After so many story driven, open-world, high-adrenaline adventures on the PS4, this cheerful, charming little game was a welcome change of pace. Everything about Animal Crossing exudes relaxation and joy. Landscaping gardens for my island friends seems to be where I get the most catharsis.

Chi-ching!

In the past, I’ve tried to get my wife into video games, but nothing has really clicked. She’s not a fan of anything first-person perspective – Portal made her nauseous ten minutes in – and platforming games annoy her as much as they irritated me when I started gaming. In recent years, she’s found the joy of mobile games – Wizards Unite in particular – and we enjoy various party games online. Nevertheless, it has been a long while since I’ve tried to twist her arm.

Then Animal Crossing showed up. She watched me play for less than an hour before she was set on giving the game a try herself. The simple charm of catching bugs and fishing, furnishing her house, unlocking new items daily, it all appealed to her immediately. I knew that she was hooked when she asked me if it was okay if she could add a room to her house before I’d expanded mine. As if I would be disappointed that she has surpassed me, and not delighted that we had a game we could play together and talk about.

As for my one year old, she obviously doesn’t play Animal Crossing, but it’s the game she’s been allowed to watch the most.

We’re careful about how much screen time our daughter gets. We tend to watch movies with her in two parts. We always check with each other how long the TV has been on when she is around. So I’ve rarely had a video game playing with her in the room (apart from when she was snoozing on me when she was very little). I’ve shown her games occasionally, when I think she would appreciate it. During lockdown I presented the tropical fish in Subnautica, and the cute blobs in Slime Rancher to see what her reaction would be.

Yet Animal Crossing is the first game we’ve allowed her to watch for more than ten minutes at a time. Not that she sits down and intensely watches; because she hasn’t grown up with too much TV she will watch for a bit and then go play, occasionally looking back at what’s showing. But we are both quite happy to play ACNH with her in the room, especially since she finds it so amusing.

Blathers is the best.

From the very first time I shook a tree for loose branches, or pole vaunted across a river, she’s found the game as joyful as we do. She especially enjoys watching us fish, and is a big fan of Blathers, the anthropomorphic owl and museum curator. She will call “ready, steady go!” when she wants us to sprint around the island, and wishes all the residents a good “mornin'” as we do the rounds.

During lockdown, we needed to dig deep for ways to keep her entertained. In between messy play, drawing and music time, we’ve called on the careful use of the internet and the like for inspiration. Instead of visiting the zoo, we’ve switched onto live feeds and virtual tours of zoos. I’ve played plenty of YouTube clips of musicians, and we’ve seen a few online concerts aimed at little ones. Animal Crossing, in its own little way, also has an educational side.

My daughter has learned the words “fishing, goat and beetle” thanks to this game. That last word, for example, hopped into her vocabulary when I showed her the Critterpedia, the little hub that shows images of all the creatures you have captured so far. For some reason, the Dung Beetle looks really fascinating to her. They do look pretty cool. As I close the app, she will say “beetle, again!”.

But not the wasps. We don’t like those guys.

And so Animal Crossing: New Horizons has become a game for all the family. It’s all the more appreciated given the current isolation. Whilst we try to give our little one a variety of things to do, there is something undeniably delightful about an afternoon spent watching my wife travel around our shared island whilst my daughter cheers every time a fish is hooked or butterfly netted.

The next quest is to find an apple tree. We only have peaches and oranges so far, and apples are my daughter’s favourite. I hope the game has some.

Thank You For Reading.

Do you have a similar relationship with ACNH? Do you live on an island with other friends and family? Or is there another game you share with those close to you?

Written by Rufus Scott

Which Games Would Benefit from a Zelda Weapon?

I’m one of those gamers that can’t possibly take on the final boss if there is still a collectible out there. Each Zelda series has always been full of items and weapons, but when playing Link Between Worlds it really strikes me just how much item variety there is.

This thought then manifested: why do Legend of Zelda games get so many tools and weapons, but other game characters are restricted to a pile of slightly different guns. Could a game or franchise be vastly improved by borrowing an item from Link?

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Call of Duty found the Power Glove!

I’m of the opinion that the ‘realistic’ shooter is overrated. After all, Call of Duty: Ghosts includes an orbital space station, a guerrilla team with more high-end tech than the crew of the enterprise, and dogs with the fighting prowess of Rambo. I think Link’s Power Glove would fit in nicely.

Continue reading “Which Games Would Benefit from a Zelda Weapon?”

Why on Earth am I Playing Phasmophobia?

It makes no sense. For the last few years I steered away from horror games. Even games with high tension or stress-inducing gameplay have been avoided. I might watch other gamers play spooky, stressful games, but that’s as close as I get.

The reason: I only get the occasional night to game. Between school work, house work, child care and the occasional D&D game, time for video games is precious and usually just before bed time. Games with horror themes or those that require intense concentration leave me more wired than when I started. I realised I needed to switch things up half-way through Dark Souls. I was ending each evening game more stressed, focused and awake than I care to be just before bed time.

So why have I been playing Phasmophobia for the last few weeks? I could definitely be watching streamers play the game – and I was – but instead I decided to spend the odd evening in a scary game when I’d told myself that was a bad idea. Not only that, but I often play the game solo when my friends aren’t free to join me for spooks.

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How to Watch Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1 Day

Perhaps you want to watch Picard or Star Trek: Discovery, but you “probably should check out some of the older stuff first”. Maybe you’ve always been curious about Star Trek: The Next Generation but “that’s a lot of episodes to get through…who has the time?”. Or you watched the series when you were younger, and want to go back to it, but you’re wary of those really bad episodes along the way.

In any case, I have a guide to help you. Other people have delivered their verdicts on whether each episode is worth your time. I have gone a little further. So much of the Next Gen is golden – or at least a well-crafted silver – but I have reduced the 7 seasons down to what I consider to be the very best episodes.

This list includes only 30 of the 178 episodes in the series. If each episode is 45 minutes long, that means that you have less than 23 hours of Next Gen remaining. Even then, I’ve suggested a few that you could skip (but would be mad to do so). I’ve also highlighted what I believe are five of the very best episodes. If you only want to take a quick dip in the Star Trek pool, you can be in and out in under 4 hours.

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My 1 Year Old Bought a Video Game

I remember the days when a parent or older sibling could hand a young person an unplugged controller and they would happily ‘play along’ with the older gamer. Now, with wireless controllers, a young child can take charge with a single button press.

I’ve not played too many video games around my 1-year-old. As I’ve mentioned earlier, I actually played more games after she was born, when she was struggling to sleep through the night and so on. Of course, she wasn’t aware of the game being played.  Continue reading “My 1 Year Old Bought a Video Game”

Which Game was Your Greatest Disappointment?

I recently hopped into No Man’s Sky. I’m usually late to a game, but in this case the wait was very intentional. You might remember that when the game came out it was met with bile and vitriol. To listen to early reviews and discussion, this game apparently lacked in quality in every way. On the dart board of wild, speculative expectation, the game hit the wall and bounced off.

I’m having a great time with the game, but I’ve jumped in four years late. A mountain of content, patching and tweaks have been made to the game in that time. “No Man’s Sky is good now” is a reoccurring suggestion online, a point which most people agree with. I am very happy I waited, and I was very confident I was going to have a good time.

The real reason I waited, however, was not just because of the early criticism. I’m pretty certain I could have enjoyed the original version. It’s definitely the sort of game I enjoy. No, the reason why I waited was because that original divide between ‘promise’ and ‘expectation’ was something I had seen before. As the game was released, I had a grim sense of déjà vu…

I was so disappointed by a game in my youth, that it makes me doubt that quality of games 12 years later.

Continue reading “Which Game was Your Greatest Disappointment?”

Late Review: The Last of Us

Most people can simply enjoy what they do.  I nitpick, poke fun at things I enjoy and appreciate them even more so, whilst others are quite content to be content. Yet there are those vocal few that find it difficult to just have fun.

There are those that like to take the adversarial stance. The more a game, a movie or a show is popularised, the more likely they are to find fault with it. On the other side, some people cannot enjoy something if they know critics find fault with it. You can usually find these two groups bickering about their most/least favourite thing online, whilst everyone else enjoys that thing without issue.

The Last of Us is a hill on which many people have squabbled. I’ve heard the words “prefect game” and “total garbage”. It cannot be both of these things, and its really neither. No game is without issues, and something so popular must have merit…

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Show, Don’t Tell: Do Games Talk Too Much?

At some point, it was decided that every modern video game needed to include additional story in the form of collectables. As we wander the world, we come across audio and/or text files. We can pause our gameplay to open up the parchment or ‘press play’, at which point we are told a little bit more about the world or given more flesh for the bones of the story.

Sometimes, it’s implemented well. Other times, the extra information is dull or unnecessary. Far too often, the added collectable stories feel forced, as if the developers felt obligated to include such things – All the other games are doing it.

Continue reading “Show, Don’t Tell: Do Games Talk Too Much?”

Late Review: Final Fantasy VII Remake

I recently replayed Final Fantasy X, and when I was nearing the end I made a comment to a non-gamer friend that I might play Final Fantasy X-2 again.

They immediately had questions:

  • Why is it called ‘Ten Two’? Why not call it ‘Eleven’?
  • Why is only one of the numbers in Roman numerals? Were they worried people would see ‘X-II’ and think they had skipped a game?
  • Why is it written as “X-2”? Looks like ‘ten minus two’. Is it secretly Final Fantasy 8?

I didn’t have the heart to break it to them that there are actually three Final Fantasy XIIIs. With all the other spin-offs, prequels and pseudo-sequels out there, I honestly don’t know how many Final Fantasy games are out there myself.

And now we have Remakes in the mix.

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Firesky’s Collection of Abjuration Spells

Self promotion incoming!

Writing Dungeons & Dragons stories is fun, but there’s also something fun in coming up with the spells and magic items to use in the game.

Firesky’s Collection of Abjuration Spells is my first set of magic spells on DMSGuild.com. ‘Abjuration’ spells are all about protection, for you and others.

Continue reading “Firesky’s Collection of Abjuration Spells”