Tag Archives: things that bring me joy

Things That Bring Me Joy: Happy SNES Classic Edition release day!

Happy SNES Classic Edition release day!
I hope most everyone who was really looking forward to getting one was able to!
I was 10th in line at my local Gamestop store today and was lucky enough to get this one, since I neglected to pre-order ahead of date.
I called my local Walmart before that at around 7am this morning and they had long since sold out of their supply since they started selling them last night at midnight, so I consider myself fortunate to have been able to get one at Gamestop this morning.
If you didn’t pre-order, and still weren’t able to get one last night or today during the first wave of releases, I was told that stores are expecting additional shipments over the next few months, so keep an eye out in the next month or three at your local retailers.
They are being sold at: Best Buy, Toys R Us, Walmart, Target, and Gamestop stores in the US, and online through the previously mentioned outlets as well as on Amazon.
Ask the clerks when you are in any of these stores if/when they expect additional shipments (dates, times the shipments will arrive, etc.) and if they don’t have any information for you just keep checking back every few days so you don’t miss a surprise shipment.
Some folks are more able to tell you about upcoming shipments and others might not have the information, so it might help to ask around to different people too and make sure you’re chatting with the folks who would be privy to such shipment related info. Electronics department is usually a good place to start, but even then sometimes it can be hit or miss, so just keep trying until you have a breakthrough!
Remember though, the closer you get to the holiday season, the less likely you’ll be able to get this kind of stuff, since loads more people are out looking for gifts come November and December especially! You can get some lucky finds then too, don’t get me wrong, but your chances are a bit better of finding one sooner rather than later I would think.
For those who are curious, both Walmart and Gamestop had a “1 per household” limit on purchasing these, which at least gives more people a chance to get them at their retail price. I would hope that the other retail stores were using a similar policy as well.
It beats them all getting bought up by scalpers with deep pockets who turn around and sell them all online for 3x the price to desperate people during the holidays (which will still happen anyway, but it should hopefully somewhat diminish the necessity of that by being 1 per household.)
However for those who are looking for multiples of these for legitimate purposes like to give as gifts for the upcoming holidays, it means you’ll probably need to buy them from different retail stores so keep that in mind when you are searching around!
This really is my childhood relived in a box honestly, which makes it very appealing to me. Many of my favorite games on what is one of my all time favorite video game consoles ever are included in this thing. I was really surprised and pleased with the breadth of quality titles on offer for a mere $80 here. Most of these games are just as fun to play today as they were 25 someodd years ago too in my opinion. They have aged very well in that sense, and people who have never played a Super Nintendo before can enjoy them just as well too!
If you still have an old Super Nintendo console from the 1990s lying around somewhere and you go look up the prices some of these games go for online today, you could get two or three particularly popular games included with the SNES Classic Edition like Super Metroid, Secret of Mana, Earthbound, or Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, and you’d already be going over the cost for the SNES Classic Edition with its 21 games, so the value you get and the quality of games on offer here are really something.
Even if you take into account the Virtual Console service on Nintendo Wii, Wii U, and New Nintendo 3DS systems, to buy these 20 games on it would cost you the same price as buying 2 of these SNES Classic Editions, so it’s like getting a 50% discount, plus all the hardware and controllers needed to play.
And really it couldn’t be easier. You just plug it into your TV via an HDMI cable and you’re off and running. No lengthy setup times, no online patches to download before you can start playing. Just plug it in and pick a game and you’re good to go! The simplicity of the old days!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to try Star Fox 2, the brand new game from 20 years ago.

Things That Bring Me Joy: Natsume’s Book Of Friends (Natsume Yūjinchō)

As a lifelong fan of animation, I’ve experienced a ton of different Japanese anime over the years. We’re talking many hundreds, perhaps even into the thousands now, of animated shows that I’ve seen, and continue to enjoy today.

There are few I would recommend more than Natsume’s Book of Friends.

Watch Natsume’s Book of Friends for free on the Crunchyroll anime streaming website.

The most wonderful thing about this particular anime is that it holds an almost universal appeal regardless of age or gender or any other predisposition or preference.

Here is a trailer to give you some idea. It is from the show’s 5th season, and though this trailer does not have English subtitles, it was far and away the better example of the show’s charm and emotion. None of the official English trailers came even close to this quality sadly.

The synopsis for the show is as follows (from AnimeNewsNetwork):

Natsume Takashi has the ability to see spirits, which he has long kept secret. However, once he inherits a strange book that belonged to his deceased grandmother, Reiko, he discovers the reason why spirits surround him. Containing the names of these spirits, a binding contract was formed between the spirits and the owner of the book. Now, Natsume is determined to free the spirits and dissolve the contracts. With the help of a spirit cat, his days are filled trying to return the names to these spirits.

Along the way, Natsume meets all manner of strange and wonderful creatures, and people. He learns about himself, his grandmother, their connection, and about the things that are most important to him in life.

There’s a certain resonating undercurrent to Natsume’s Book of Friends that speaks to all of humanity. The impression I always get when watching this show is that it reminds us how to be better human beings, helps us remember the little things in our own lives that are often overlooked or ignored, that make all the difference in the world to someone.

In much the same vein as a Studio Ghibli or Disney production, you’ll get attached to these characters and their stories, even if you only get to “meet” them for the span of a single episode. Some of their tales with be very touching and easy to empathize with, and others will be equally mysterious and fascinating and full of imagination. Most episodes are a healthy mixture of both.

The music, as you might get a taste of from the trailer, is really quite good. Emotional at times, relaxing at others, it really fits the show well, and draws out the emotions of each scene flawlessly.

And while we’re talking about scenes, the artwork and animation are top notch. I’m a sucker for anything with lots of soft glowing lighting, and that’s a common feature of the beautiful artwork. I’m not an expert on the technical side of things here, but I’ll just say that to me it is very visually pleasant and enjoyable.

Natsume’s Book of Friends is a great show to watch when you want to wind down too after a stressful day. There are a few tense episodes here and there, but generally speaking the show offers a pleasant 30 minutes of wonder and imagination, all tied up with a nice little underlying positive thought or message to the tale.

If you’re curious and want to give this show a look, then you’re in luck, because it so happens to be available to watch freely on the Crunchyroll anime streaming service. For those who aren’t familiar, Crunchyroll is a streaming service that works directly with anime production companies to be able to provide content legally, and a portion of the ad revenue (or subscription cost if you have a premium account) goes to the companies involved in creating the animated shows that you watch on the service.

So please do give this one a shot if you’re interested at all after reading this. It’s an anime that I can readily recommend to anyone, regardless of their usual taste in shows or entertainment, and one of my personal favorites which is very close to my heart.


Image credits: https://mobile.twitter.com/NatsumeYujincho/media

Things That Bring Me Joy: Undertale

As it is important in life to indulge in things that bring you joy, I decided that I would begin also writing blog posts where I talk about some of my favorite video games.

Anyone who knows me knows that video games are a big part of my life. I have called them not just a hobby, but one of my life’s passions in the past, and I believe that still holds true today. Even though I am changing more and more every day, there are still some aspects of the me of yesterday that bring me joy that I can still look fondly to, and good video games are one of them.

As an important side note: I will endeavor to keep this and future such posts free from spoilers for their content. I would not want to rob you of the joy and mystery that accompanies the experience of the game for yourself. There are plenty of other websites out there that will give you every last detail of a game’s content if that’s what you are looking for.

So, with those explanations out of the way, today I’ll start my first such post by talking a bit about the game Undertale. If any of you reading this are familiar with video games, you’ve probably at least heard this name tossed around the internet in recent years, and for good reason too. It is a very popular and successful “indie game”.


But why? What makes it stand out from the crowd?

Here you can see the game’s launch trailer if you are curious to learn more about it.

Now in my opinion, even that trailer only gives you a small glimpse of the charm and humor that the game contains. It’s not really enough on its own to get across the magnitude of just what makes Undertale a standout title and good game.

I think if I had to sum it up in a single concept it would be this:
Undertale invites players to empathize, and does so with a smile.
What the heck is that supposed to mean in the context of a video game? Well… allow me to explain my thoughts.

It makes you smile, or even laugh.

First up is the game’s humor. The dialog in the game often puts a smile on my face. Sometimes it is very quirky and unexpected, and that only adds to the game’s charm.

The characters you meet along the journey are a big part of it too. Each of them really does have a personality of their own that is expressed quite well, and it is through the characters you encounter as you are playing that the game’s story is driven. You feel like you really get to know them during the adventure.

Some of them are comical, others are a bit mysterious, some are all business. It is the mix of these personalities and the humorous dialog and scenarios that really gets people interested and engaged and wanting to see what else happens in the game. But that’s not the only ace Undertale is hiding up its sleeves.

It challenges convention.

Another very strong theme throughout the game is challenging convention. While it’s true that Undertale has a lot of aspects to it that are what you would call conventional game elements for a Role-Playing Game (RPG), it also takes a lot of conventions and tosses them out the window, or spins them on their heads. This is done throughout the entire experience with purpose and sometimes in very subtle ways, but also in very noticeable ones too.

For example let’s take a look at this image from the game.


This is a screenshot from an early part in the game, and it shows the character that the player controls at a “Save Point” which is something that is familiar to all RPG fans, allowing the player to record their progress in the game and resume play from this point.

And yet even here in something as simple and commonplace as a save point, Undertale shows its uniqueness. Not only does the game describe an action taken by the character to the player, it explains the character’s feelings as well. This is highly unorthodox for an interaction with a save point, but it’s the things like this which subtly add depth to the experience.

Here is another example image, this time a very obvious departure from convention, and it illustrates one of Undertale’s strongest standout features.


This is an image of the game’s encounter screen.

Traditionally in an RPG the player would be tasked with fighting monsters, creatures, people, ghosts, machines, and all manner of things you could imagine in order to progress through the game and experience the story and the various features it has to offer. You’ll notice the first icon on the bottom left menu says “Fight” and in this way Undertale retains that classic RPG aspect we have all come to expect and take for granted as “just the way things are done” in the genre. And yet here again Undertale really shines because it simultaneously breaks this convention by including the “Act” option.

Undertale touts itself as “The RPG game where you don’t have to destroy anyone.” Now, if you think about it, this in and of itself is very novel. As I mentioned before, the convention has always been that there are battles in an RPG, that you are expected to fight an opposing force.

While not all RPGs depict gruesome deaths upon defeating these enemies, and some RPGs have even gone out of their way to ensure the player that the enemies are simply knocked unconscious rather than killed, it is generally understood that the player fights the enemy using their party of characters, the enemies are defeated, and then new stronger enemies appear in your path, so on and so forth.

With Undertale’s “Act” menu, all of that convention is challenged. It essentially offers players a way to progress through the encounters with the game’s monsters in a non-violent way, if the player so chooses. In the image above for example the choices the player can utilize in the Act menu are shown to be “Check”, “Criticize”, “Encourage”, and “Hug”.

These options change in the game depending on the monster that you encounter, and each one has a unique set of interactions and often humorous dialog to go along with it. You can see an example of the dialog that goes along with one such encounter in the image below, where the player faces a pair of monsters that are prone to wiggling.


It’s important that the game gives players a choice too, because those who wish to play the game more like a traditional RPG are able to do so without necessarily being forced into playing it in a way that is foreign or unconventional. In other words it accommodates both traditional and revolutionary gameplay styles. And not only that, but the game was designed around these options in different ways, which you especially will see in the encounters with monsters. Choosing the “Fight” option gives you a different set of gameplay mechanics to work with than when you choose the “Act” option, and in this way the game offers a lot of variety in the overall experience.

It has an excellent soundtrack.

The game’s music score is another strong point and definitely adds a noteworthy element of cohesion to the experience. I will admit to being ignorant to much of the music world, but to my untrained ears the soundtrack is quite fantastic, harkening back to the earlier years of gaming. It offers up a variety of tones and moods that are fitting to the scenes of the game itself, and in my opinion they are catchy and memorable enough to enjoy all on their own. As I understand it, there is a concept called leitmotif that is at work on much of the game’s soundtrack, which in practical terms boils down to having parts of key songs on the soundtrack repeated in subsequent songs, such as parts of the main theme being repeated elsewhere in later songs during climactic moments for example. I believe use of this particular concept is part of what allows the score to be so memorable to the player throughout the adventure.

It is a rare class of RPG, offering meaningful non-violence.

I could go on and on about why this game brings me joy, even further than I already have with this article. But to sum things up, I think the real charm that Undertale offers truly lies in the way that it dares to be different. It brought the gaming world a completely non-violent way to progress through an RPG, a genre so often associated with and defined by its battles, and it also offers player choices that have meaningful impact on the events in the game.

Undertale takes a look at the conventions of the genre and shows the world another way it can be done with a little outside-of-the-box thinking applied. It even pokes fun at itself sometimes, with plenty of humor and interesting characters, plot twists and a great sense of mystery about it. It allows the player to empathize and sympathize with the characters and events in the story, and if you choose to do otherwise, it accommodates that approach too. It helps us all think and reflect a little bit more than we normally might during this particular activity, and I believe that’s of the utmost importance even during times of entertainment.

Undertale is full of imagination, clever design, humorous characters, and meaningful choices. It is a well-crafted and fun game to play that makes you think a little bit about challenging conventions.

Image credits: igdb.com and undertale.com