07 June 2010

Pictochat - Nintendo DS

I've never "chatted" with Pictochat. I am typically a lonely gamer. I play games online from time to time and my friends like to play Rock Band and Warlords when we have parties, but it's usually just me when I'm playing. For this reason, Pictochat has been a useless utility on the multiple iterations of DS handhelds I've owned. I'm not much for chatting in the first place - even with pictures - and I rarely have another DS friend around for a chat.
My daughter, Charlotte, is 2 1/2 and vaguely interested in games. I don't let her see anything violent, but she's already pretty good at Asteroids and Gorf. (She loves Gorf.) The other day I was tooling around with my new DSiXL and she tried to take it away. Finally, I discovered a use for Pictochat. It's not as good as a free-form doodling application (I'm sure one exists somewhere) but it worked just fine. She sat down in front of me and I turned off the lights. Her face was visible by the glow of the screen. I gave her the stylus and showed her where she could draw, which she did - violently at first. I explained to her to be gentle with the DS – just like kitty and her baby brother – and she got it immediately. She drew big circles and then little circles inside them. When she was done with the first pic she lifted the stylus away and admired her work. Then I hit the "button" that sends the message and it slid to the top screen.
She was amazed.
She quickly drew another series of circles and I sent them to the top screen again.
She smiled.
She did it again and I did it again but this time I said "BOOM" when I sent the picture to the top screen.
She burst into laughter.
You never know what a kid is going to find funny, but when you find it you tend to exploit it for all it's worth. We spend 20 minutes (past her bed time) drawing pictures and BOOMing them to the top screen. It never got old. I watched her little eyes light up each time by the soft light of the DS. I wrote her name and we spelled it out together. I drew a little dude with a hat and tie and we BOOMed him away.
It was the best time I've ever had with a DS. It might be the best time I've ever had with any game, ever.
By Victor Paul Alvarez

Final Fantasy XIII - Multiplatform

This game came out on my birthday, March 9. I had been reading up on the game months before. When I learned it came out on my birthday I was excited that Square Enix was giving me an awesome birthday present. By the time March came around though, I was buried in the school routine. I had 23 novels I had to read for the semester. Two of the classes I was taking were intensive writing classes, so I felt I was constantly writing something. Tuesdays were always completely dedicated to the Buffalo State school newspaper. I also had no other time to work but on the weekends, so I always had plenty of hours dedicated to Kohl’s. In the end, the last thing on my mind was video games.
My school life was not always like this. There are several games that probably made my GPA lower than it should have been. I would buy them, play them, and instantly get hooked. I call this the “New Game Itch.” I would be sitting in class thinking about the previous parts of the game I had been playing and anticipating the next adventure within the game. Once I was done with classes I’d quickly go back to my room and ease my constant curiosity of what will happen next within the game.
Lately though, no game I was playing was really giving me this strong itch. I would play a game, but go awhile without playing it again. Nothing caught my attention. So, I thought about Final Fantasy XIII before, but slowly forgot about it.
This turned into a good thing on my birthday. At 11:30 p.m. on March 8, my boyfriend told me it was time to go. I was confused, seeing as I usually left his room around midnight to go to bed and he was walking me out to the parking lot. We drove and I had no idea where we were going. GameStop was the last place on my mind. When it came into view though, I remembered everything and I got excited. Square Enix was finally giving me that present. We waited in a huge line (which luckily we were near the front) and after he bought me my game we left to go back to school. I opened the package and looked over the manual and a familiar feeling came across me. I was excited to play my new game.
I was trying to be a good student though, so I didn’t play it once we got back on campus. I went to bed because I didn’t want to be tired and miserable the entire day. Of course, my birthday was on layout day for the school newspaper. I tried to get everything done as quickly as I could, but I didn’t have much luck. Any time my mind had time to wander I thought about playing the next installment of the popular series. I wasn’t thrilled with XII so I was hoping that this game would make up for my disappointment. Life was stopping me from finding out though. Finally Wednesday came and I finally got the chance to try out my new game.
I was instantly hooked. It was different than XII so I was happy. The characters had great personalities and I wanted to know more about them. The story caught my attention. The itch was back and it was strong. I played as much as I could until I remembered that I was still in school and had lots to read and write. I had to force the itch to subside until I had the time to dedicate to Lightning and the gang. It was hard, but I was able to get back into only playing either games I’ve already played or simple DS games whenever I needed a break from work. The itch was strong, it felt good to have it back, but I had to keep my priorities straight.
Lucky for me, the semester is now over. Once I’m finished moving into my new apartment, I’ll be able to put Final Fantasy XIII into my 360 and soothe the itch once again.
By Heather Aug