My Time With The Gameboy Advance

This is it. This is the device that kept me in the gaming sphere until the mid to late 2000s. While most people were enjoying the PlayStation 2, Xbox, Gamecube, or whatever the hell the N-Gage was, I had this pocket sized gaming machine by my side. 

Growing up in a low income household had its challenges; one of them being not being able to afford some of the things other kids your age had. We were very fortunate to have a mom that worked her hardest to allow me and my brothers to have some of the things that we wanted. We had every Nintendo system up to the Gamecube at the time, but finding time to play is hard when you have to share one system and tv with two other people. That is where the Gameboy came in handy. Instead of fighting over who’s turn it was to use the TV, I could sit on the couch or lay in bed and play one of the few handheld games that I had. This could also explain how I was a late bloomer to many modern games. One of the best surprises that our mom was able to give was giving each of us our own Gameboy Advance (SP model) for Christmas or some other event that I don’t remember. 

I had the Cobalt Blue Gameboy Advance SP model. Coming from the Gameboy Color, this was a big upgrade. The rechargeable battery and backlit screen were the hallmark of this device. No more begging my mom for batteries or being restricted to where I could play. Now I could play on the couch for as long as I want while my relatives warned me that I was going to ruin my eyesight (but would tell me to sit, be quiet, and watch TV?). It did have its flaws though. The SP model did not have a headphone jack. I had to go out of my way to buy a special headset that connected to the charging port in order to not annoy anyone with my boops and beeps. A big complaint for someone who likes listening to video game soundtracks.

I took my GBA with me wherever I went outside the house. Before people were addicted to having their smartphones at all times, I was the kid who would never put his GBA down. I would play it in the car to school each day and would have to leave it in my mom’s car so I wouldn’t get in trouble with it. Any long car ride or band trip would always be accompanied by my trusty GBA with my cool travel case that I still have to this day. If there was ever a decline in my reading habits, it was because my hands were preoccupied with playing my GBA.

So let’s talk about some of the games that I played on this bad boy. I will be honest and say that I have no recollection of the order that I got most of my GBA games. Normally in this format I would go in order of the games I’ve purchased/received, but I can’t do that this time. So let’s start with some well known titles.

Final Fantasy (Gameboy Advance Ports)

The Gameboy Advance was my gateway to the Final Fantasy series. Up until this point, I had never encountered the series outside watching my older cousins play Final Fantasy VII. The order that I played these games is kinda scrambled, so let’s just go in order.

Final Fantasy I+II: Dawn of Souls is a great port of the first two Final Fantasy games. Until I get around to playing the PSP or Pixel Remastered versions, this might be my favorite way to play these games. There isn’t much to say about the first Final Fantasy, but I do have words about the second game. I don’t hate Final Fantasy II. I didn’t hate my first playthrough since I had nothing to compare it to back in the day. I had to play it a second time since the music player will only appear if there are finished saved files for both games.. You would think that to cut your losses since it is just a music player, but before the age of good internet, this was the only way to listen to this music. Besides, if I didn’t replay FFII I would have never discovered that you can cast the Teleport spell on all enemies and bosses, and beat the game easily that way. The only time it won’t work on is the final boss, but even without increasing my proficiency in other other stats, I was still able to beat him with no problem. Give it a try! It is fun to just teleport your problems somewhere else.

Next was Final Fantasy IV. Up until recently, FFIV was my least favorite Final Fantasy game. I found playing through it at first to be completely boring. I didn’t find any of the characters interesting besides Rydia, and the progression of the story just felt stale to me. I would get around to finishing FFIV via the DS version of the game. After playing through that version, I found myself looking at this game more positively for some reason. It could be the wisdom with age thing, but FFIV still holds up to this day.

Final Fantasy V is my least favorite Final Fantasy game so far. I just recently finished it this year, and it is just bland to me. If I had played it back in the mid 2000s, I would have probably been all over this. Early 2020s however, there are other games that use the job system way better.

In the war between my favorite Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy VI is a top contender (fighting FFIX). This game is almost perfect to me. The multiple characters, the amazing soundtrack, and watching the world actually decline into chaos is done so well in this game. I’m just happy that I decided to pick this game up randomly from one of the infamous band school trips. My copy of the game is a little special since it will wipe the memory clean off if you drop it or touch it in a way that it does not like. This is one of the reasons why I never finished it until 2020 when I forced myself to sit down and play it without removing it from my Gameboy Player. I know the general consensus is that the GBA version is not the best way to play this game, but it is my preferred way since the audio compression doesn’t bother me. I own the full soundtrack so I can listen to that at the best quality whenever I feel like it. My opinion may change whenever Square decides to release the Pixel Remastered on something besides PC and phones.

Pokémon (Sapphire & LeafGreen)

Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Out of the two mainline Pokémon versions that came out, Leaf Green was definitely the one that I put the most time into. Pokémon Sapphire was the first Pokémon game that I got on the system, but my memories of my first time in Horen are kinda spotty. I remember finding a shiny Sharpedo and Duskull in game by myself, but other than that, I don’t remember much of what I did in those games. It doesn’t help that I started over in it a few times.

The real memories come from Pokémon LeafGreen. This was a birthday present for me that came out of nowhere, so it is pretty special to me. This would be the first Pokémon game that I would go on to almost complete the game 100% (almost finished the National Dex). I would find myself constantly playing this game and it would help bridge the rocky relationship I had with my younger brother at the time. Even though Gen 1 is not one of the best generations in Pokémon, I still cherish this game. The only regret I have is letting my brother erase my save file since I had moved on. Only a reason to one day grind everything out.

Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones

I never knew about the Fire Emblem series until my younger brother decided to get Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance on the Gamecube. What he thought was a traditional JRPG was this turn-based strategy game with swords and magic. That didn’t stop both of us from enjoying it, but it did put the series on my radar. So of course I spent my lunch money on a copy of Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones on one of my many trips. Sacred Stones is a solid Fire Emblem game that I hardly hear people talk about. I think that the roster is a nice balance of units that make use for any situation. The story is straightforward and doesn’t include other plot points outside the main story. It also has a way to level up your characters outside the main story by finding encounters on the world map to help beef up any units that you need. The endgame tower is also a good challenge if you want to make your way to the top and recruit some special characters on the way. All in all, Sacred Stones is a solid Fire Emblem game that needs more recognition. I do have to confess that for some reason in the past, I sold my copy just so I could have money to buy another game (I don’t remember which one). Luckily, Kat owned a copy so I didn’t have to go out of my way to find a new one.

Tales of Phantasia

“If there is evil in this world, it lurks in the heart of man.”

These words were my introduction to the Tales of series. What looked like an ordinary JRPG that I decided to buy one day would eventually lead me to one of my favorite series. I just had to get through this game first. If you have experienced the GBA port of Tales of Phantasia, you know how bad this game is. How I managed to stick through it and finish it is a feat that I have no idea how I pulled off. From restricted controls to work on a GBA to a treasure trove of mistranslations, the thing that kept me invested in Tales of Phantasia was a time traveling story that I had never experienced. This also introduced me to my favorite video game antagonist, Dhaos. If Phantasia did anything right, it was introducing this monster of an antagonist and making him feel human at the same time. I enjoyed Phantasia, but dear lord I do not want to play the GBA version again. One of these days I will write about this game and the rest of the series. I will still not get over the fact that I beat all three forms of Dhaos at the end by spamming Tiger Blade and stun locking him in a corner.

Yu Gi Oh!

Since middle school, I have been a fan of the Yu Gi Oh! Trading Card Game. I would collect cards and watch the show, but I never had friends to play the game with. Luckily, there were a ton of Yu Gi Oh! games available on the GBA. There were two Yu Gi Oh! games that I had that I equally enjoyed for different reasons. The first one was Yu Gi Oh! GX Duel Academy. I know this game is viewed as one of the worse Yu Gi Oh! games that you can play, but when you don’t have the opinion of the internet to tell you this, then you don’t see its flaws. In Duel Academy, you are a student at Duel Academy where your goal is to become the King of Games. You do this by preparing for your exams and meeting requirements to increase your rank. Each exam requires you to answer ten questions about the cards, a duel puzzle that you have to solve as quickly as possible, and then a duel using specific rules for that exam. I can see this being annoying to some, but I was really into it at the time. There are story beats that happen when certain conditions are met, but I never figured out what made them trigger. I may just be the odd one out of the group, but I really like this game.

The second Yu Gi Oh! game that I had was Yu Gi Oh! Ultimate Masters: World Championship Tournament 2006. Seeing a title like this, you would think it would have this story of working your way through a tournament to become the next King of Games. This is what I thought when I picked it up during a band trip, but to my dumb surprise it wasn’t. This game is basically an introduction to the 2006 Yu Gi Oh! rule set and new cards that were released around the time. There is no story or real goal in this game. There is a campaign and a few modes that require you to use your big brain to work around and complete each challenge. You would think I would find this game boring since around this time I still didn’t know the best way to construct a functional deck, but something about this game kept me playing for a long time. The presentation is nice and simple, and the soundtrack is something that I still get stuck in my head from time to time. I would spend time just creating new decks and take the time to test them and figure out what works and what doesn’t. I never “finished” the game, but I think it is one that I could if I took the time to focus on the challenges (especially since this game doesn’t go past the GX era of cards and rules).

Other Games

This last bit goes out to the games that I played, but don’t have a lot to say about them. 

Like most young boys who had access to Toonami, my brothers and I were big fans of DragonBall Z. If we had the chance to play a DBZ game, chances are we would find a way to play it. The GBA had a lot of Dragon Ball games, but the first ones that come to mind are the Legacy of Goku games. Dragon Ball RPG games that followed the events of the story with subplots added in and glitches to take advantage of. I would have loved more of these on different consoles, but nothing has come close to the feeling of these games (I do own Kakarot, but haven’t played it yet). Besides the Legacy of Goku games, we also had Supersonic Warriors. This was a cool 2D fighting game that introduced us to the world of DBZ “what if” stories. It was a fun game that I could easily recommend. There was also Dragon Ball GT: Transformations; a game that I will advise to stay far away from (GT Theme intensifies).

Did you know that a sequel to Gunstar Heroes came out on the GBA? I didn’t until a good friend of mine gave me it one year for Christmas. Gunstar Super Heroes plays just like the original, but with less flashing lights. The sprite work in the game makes keeping track of what is going on so much easier and adds some nice designs to each character. The only issue that makes this inferior to the original is that the game does not support multiplayer. That is a shame since the multiplayer in the original Gunstar Heroes is what makes that game fun. Maybe one day in the future, Sega will release this title to modern platforms with multiplayer (not holding my breath on that one).

You know what game really needs a remake? The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap. Minish Cap is a short and fun Zelda game that I really enjoyed. This game was developed in collaboration with Capcom; whom also co-developed my favorite Zelda game of all time. This is probably why I enjoyed it. It had such a neat concept that no other Zelda game has done (like Seasons) and had a lot of potential with its shrinking mechanic (like changing the seasons in Seasons). Nintendo would rake in the money if this game got the same treatment like Link’s Awakening did on the Switch. What I’m trying to get at is that Nintendo needs to stop screwing around with whatever it is they are doing and remake the Oracle games for Switch. I guess you can add Minish Cap in there as well.

The End of a Legacy

As you can expect, all good things come to a somewhat end. At some point, my GBA SP was starting to show some wear and tear. The first thing to go was the charging port. I was unable to charge the battery in my GBA. To get around this issue I would take the battery out and put it in my brother’s GBA in order to charge it. Annoying? Yes. Did it work? Yup, and that’s all that mattered. What I couldn’t fix at the time was the “death” of my GBA SP. In a scenario that is so familiar to me, I let my younger brother borrow my GBA. He got mad at the game he was playing and slammed my GBA on the floor. He managed to break the LCD screen under the glass cover. I’m pretty sure we fought, but since it happened at my grandma’s house I don’t think fists were thrown. I was devastated. My second personal console destroyed by my younger brother. You would think I would learn my lesson at this point, but no. No handheld survives when I’m being nice and let someone borrow it.  For a while after that incident, I was left without a handheld system to play my games on unless my older brother was gracious to let me use his (he became very protective for good reasons). 

Eventually, I got my own DS and could once again enjoy my childhood (until history repeated itself). I held on to my GBA since it was special to me and I couldn’t just throw it away since I had no means of fixing it. I have plenty of options now, but I haven’t had the need to repair it. Marrying Kat came with not just one, but two GBAs that she and her dad used to play back in the day (neither one of them care for them now, so I happily accepted them). I also have a Game Boy Advance Player for my Gamecube now, so I can enjoy the games on a bigger screen if I choose. Sadly, if anything, there is no point in me fixing my GBA unless I personally just want it back in working order (I would also need a new battery and back cover).

I will always cherish my time with the Game Boy Advance. In some way, it helped me during hard times and kept me engaged in a hobby that I still enjoy to this day. There are still several games that I need to play and finish on the console, and hopefully one day I can cross them off the list. If you still have your GBA from way back in the day, buy it a beer one me next year since it will be of legal drinking age.

Honorable Mentions (Games I Got Later In Life or Sold):

  • Advance Wars
  • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
  • Fire Emblem
  • Golden Sun
  • Golden Sun: The Lost Age
  • Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town
  • Mega Man Zero 4
  • Pokémon Pinball: Ruby and Sapphire
  • Sigma Star Saga
  • Sonic Advance 3
  • Yu Yu Hakusho – Ghost Files: Tournament Tactics

My Time With The Nintendo DS

A year ago I wrote a post about my time with the Nintendo 3DS. Since I haven’t written off the beaten trail lately, I decided to write a follow-up post, but this time focus on the original dual-screen system. I was very late to the DS world due to being a poor kid. My older brother (being the responsible one) would save all the money he would get from our grandmother to purchase his own when the time came. To this day, he still has his original DS, except that it is a glorified GBA player since the top screen no longer works. My younger brother and I weren’t so responsible as he was. My younger brother was in that phase of “I’m the youngest so buy me everything” phase. He ended up getting a DS before me (which didn’t bother me as much since I was still grooving with my GBA SP). At the time, he didn’t care what type of DS he got as long as he got one, so my mom bought him the only one available which was a pink one. I was still the only one out of my brothers without a DS, but it was fine since there weren’t many things I was super excited to play.

(My original DSi and DS Lite that I picked up later. Still works properly to this day with no broken neck. The DS Lite I bought a few years ago serves to replay games that utilize the GBA slot.)

Then came along Final Fantasy III, the official third game in the series that never came out to the states originally. This was during my big JRPG kick at the time and it just so happen that I finished Final Fantasy & Final Fantasy II not too long ago. I wanted to play this game, and this was the kickstart to me getting my own DS. I bought the game in the hopes that my older brother would let me play it on his DS, but since he put the time and effort into getting his, he was understandably protective of it. So when my younger brother wasn’t using it, I would borrow his. There was a time when he was scared to play his DS out in public since he was a boy playing on a pink device (oh the good ‘ol early young masculine era), so to prove him that he had nothing to be ashamed about, I took his DS with me while I was in high school (you know, the worst place in the world). Did I get picked on by other kids in my class for playing on a “girly” device? Oh yeah… Did I give a fuck. Hell no! I was too busy stressing over the difficulty in FF3 to care at the time. Eventually at some point, my mom surprised me with my own DS Lite (sometime after my GBA died). I wish I could remember the specifics, but better late than never.

For how iconic the DS was, I didn’t really appreciate it until my college days (when it was the only thing I had). Looking through my list of games, most games that I enjoy to this day didn’t come until much later; minus the after mention Final Fantasy III. I never legit finished FF3 since the final Cloud of Darkness boss kept kicking my ass over and over. We had this great device at the time called the Action Replay that could hack your game if compatible. I take no shame in finding a hack that could one-shot all enemies and bosses in the game. I unequipped everyone, went into the final fight, and one punched the Cloud of Darkness since I was really mad at that point. I did get to see the credits roll, so I counted it as me finishing the game (one day I will replay it and beat it fairly). I’ll talk more about the Action Replay when it applies to other games I used it for, but this was my first encounter with a device that could hack into your game and produce interesting results.

One of the stars of the DS was New Super Mario Bros. At this point in my life, I was kinda done with Mario (mostly because around this time I realized that I’m terrible at platformers). I played through it and finished it at one point, but that wasn’t the main reason I would pick this game up to play off and on. The game includes an assortment of minigames that you can play at any time. I think I spent way more time in this mode than the original game. Another reason for this is that the minigames could be played via download play, and my friends and I would play them on the band bus to different competitions. Speaking of the band bus, the greatest game to have on those long rides was Mario Kart DS. Anyone who had a DS on the bus would join in (sometimes even the adults) and just spend the entire trip racing each other. The cart that my brother had got lost or stolen at some point, but we still have the case in case it ever shows back up (its been over 15 years, its long gone). The only other game we would sometimes play on the bus was Advance Wars: Dual Strike. Our friend had the game, and we would pass the DS around when it was our turn to make our moves and assess the results from everyone else’s turn. Didn’t play it as much, but it was a multiplayer game that we played.

Okay. So obviously a big game came out in 2007 that everyone was excited to play. I’m talking about Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. I was one of those kids excited to play a new Pokémon game and I opted to play Pearl since my younger brother wanted to play Diamond. I played all of Pearl, reset it a couple of times, and hacked it with the Action Replay. I know Diamond and Pearl are some of the most loved games in the series, but for me they are somewhere close to the bottom. Something about it just felt bland to me. I liked the new Pokémon introduced and the love shown to older Pokémon getting new forms, but I couldn’t recall anything that made me feel like this is one of the best in the series. Even now my feelings toward the 4th generation hasn’t changed much. I say this as someone who is still going to play the Switch remakes when they come out, and see if a fresh retake on it changes my opinion somehow (I will be playing it side-by-side with Kat, so that will probably alter some of my feelings towards it).

You know which Pokémon game didn’t suck though? Pokémon Black and White are easily in my top three generations of Pokémon. I remember people hating these games at first since it took away everyone’s favorite Pokémon and locked them behind the postgame. I found this to be one of the greatest choices they ever made and it forced me to play the games in a different way. No longer could I go out and seek some of my favorite Pokémon. I was stuck relying on mons that I had no idea of how good they were; and that was exciting! It was a great reason for me to replay the games and try out different Pokémon in my team just like how you would in Red and Blue. I wish Game Freak would do this again especially since its hard to put all the current mons in one game. Just create a whole new batch that we are forced to learn and adapt with and then make a DLC excuse to bring the older mons in the game at a later date. I made it super easy for you Game Freak (I will wait for my check in the mail).

Outside of Pokemon, let’s talk about some of my most played games on the system. There were a lot of games that I discovered on the system, but a few of them stick out to me more than the others. The first one was Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift. I feel like this game is the black sheep of the Final Fantasy Tactics games since I hear no one talk about this game. Maybe since this was my first game in the series, I found it really enjoyable. Outside of Fire Emblem, I hadn’t played that many tactical RPGs and if I’m honest, I can sometimes find them boring unless there is some hook to them. Tactics A2 is as basic as it can get, but for some reason I was compelled to 100% complete it. I never did since I could never figure out the Chocobo missions, and there was this one tough fight where I had to get my characters to max level to stand a chance. If you can explain to me why no one likes or talks about this game, please tell me because to this day I have no complaints about it. I do have to replay the game at some point since I named my character something very inappropriate and I don’t like the idea of leaving that as my legacy (I believe your high school version is the worst version of yourself).

One game that got a lot of playtime out of my DS was Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies. This was my second ever Dragon Quest title that I played after crushing Dragon Quest VIII. What made this game special to me was the bond it created for my younger brother and me. Around this time, he had became the insufferable baby brother that was annoying and liked to cause a lot of trouble. One thing that got us to stop arguing at times was playing this game together thanks to the multiplayer aspect of it. Dragon Quest IX is special since you can play through the entire game solo or with multiple people. You are restricted to only using your main character if you go to someone else’s world, but you can join them in helping them finish the game and vis versa. Most of the time, it would be him coming over to my world and going through the hidden grottos that you can access at the end of the game to challenge tougher enemies and hidden bosses from previous games. This was also the time that we discovered that he really liked to grind in games (his main character ended up being around level 200+ after reincarnating him twice). I still have his copy of the game ever in case he wants to go down memory lane and clear out some grottos if we still have it in us.

There were other games that I really got into once I left home for college and only had access to my DS. I discovered the Etrain Odyssey series and learned how difficult dungeon crawlers can be if you don’t have a base understanding of mechanics. My entry point was Etrain Odyssey III: The Drowned City and the only one that I have finished up to this point. ET3 is brutally difficult if you don’t understand party composition and skill optimization, but once you get it down it feels great playing through. The whole designing you map mechanic was also new to me and added on a fun layer of being responsible for my own map like a true adventurer. A pro tip if you need to grind a bit is to put down automatic walk paths in a good place where you can auto battle and just have it on in the background while the game automatically plays itself to grind levels and materials for you. It takes some of the boredom out of doing it manually. I would love to replay through this game if it ever got the Untold treatment like the first two games did. If dungeon crawling, party management and customization, and high difficulty sounds interesting to you, I highly recommend the series if you still have your 3DS. The games go on sale regularly on the eShop for cheap, so enjoy.

In 2010, I discovered the mainline Shin Megami Tensei games with Shin Megami Tensei: Stranger Journey. I had only played Person 3 & 4 at the time and thought maybe it would be somewhat similar to those. I was greatly wrong. I stopped playing the game close to the end when I discovered I was on the wrong path I wanted to be on and discovered that running from all my fights was a bad thing. At the same time as discovering Strange Journey, I also discovered a game called Knights in the Nightmare. This is a very interesting game where you play as a wisp and have to possess dead spirits in order to clear out the enemies on the screen. It is also a bullet hell where you have to control your wisp on the bottom screen to dodge enemy attacks. I never finished it since I didn’t realize that some of the characters you get can be permanently lost if they get damaged too much while possessing them (I think, its been a while). I definitely need to boot this game back up again and play through this unique game again. Two other games that I did not expect playing all the way through were Radiant Historia and Golden Sun: Dark Dawn. Radiant Historia is a time travel JRPG that I was hoping to be better in my opinion. The story felt generic to me and I wish the time traveling aspect did more than just jumping to different points in the story. I had to look up a guide on how to beat the final boss since it didn’t make sense to me (and still doesn’t since the game never makes you do what you have to do at this point). I have the complete opposite feelings toward Golden Sun: Dark Dawn. I was hooked on this game for a solid week. The gameplay and puzzles were great and felt like a cozy JRPG. I was surprised when I finished the game since it didn’t feel like the ending of the game. The cliffhanger at the end suggest that a follow-up game was planned, but 11 years later we are still waiting to see if the story will get concluded (if it can happen to other games, then I will still hold out for this).

There were other games that I played on the system that I no longer have for one reason or another. Some of them just got completely lost like in the case of Mario Kart DS and Advance Wars: Days of Ruin. Days of Ruin was nothing special of an Advance Wars game, but I was on the final map of the game when I lost it, so I never got the satisfaction of finishing it. This was also during the time where I was a poor child and would sell my games that I no longer played. Some games that I traded in I would soon regret like Pokemon Ranger: Shadows of Almia and Children of Mana. At the time I had finished both games to completion and had nothing else to do in them. One of these days I hope to re-add them to my collection to refill an empty void in my gaming timeline.

There were other games though that I have zero regret getting rid of. Two of those were Luminous Arc and Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume. I finished Luminous Arc and it left a bad taste in my mouth afterwards. It felt like a generic tactical RPG with pretty magical girls for you to look at (nothing wrong with that, but something I wasn’t into at the time). I had high hopes for Valkyrie Profile, but the game lost its appeal to me very quick. I don’t remember much of it since I didn’t get far into it, but it has a mechanic that you can sacrifice party member permanently in order to obtain great power for the main character. I didn’t like that mechanic, so I stopped playing the game. I probably be more open to it now, but I have no desire to seek it out.

But, none of those games can come close to one of my all time favorite games on the system. This is a game that I played the hell out of when I first got it, sold it like the dumbass that I was, and later in life found another copy and cherish it to this day. The game I am talking about of course, is Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales. You have no freaking idea what you are missing if you have never played this game. The game is presented in this pop-up book look and revolves around stopping an evil book by going through familiar children’s stories only with Final Fantasy creatures in them. The gameplay consist most of just minigames that you play in the different stories, but they all range from childish to intimidating when you are trying to go for the high scores. BUT! None of that matters because this game has one of the best card games that makes this game addicting. Its hard to explain, but you main objective is to reduce your opponents HP to zero. You do this by playing cards that summon different monsters and can either attack, guard, or trigger an effect. Each card has four colors on them and you will either find a sword in one that represents if an attack is successful, or shields that block other monsters attacks. Monsters with effects will trigger their effects if your attack is successful or if you have enough crystals in your stockpile to trigger them. It looks simple, but can get very tense when you are trying to guess your opponents next move and if you can block their attack while trying to activate effects with the number of crystals that you have. It is fun and addictive and I wish they would have made a full game where it was nothing but that (Edit: I was not aware that the card game exist in Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo’s Dungeon. Unfortunately it was removed from the Every Buddy! edition that came out in 2019.).

All good things must come to an end at some point. My DS had two points where it reached its final playtimes with me. The first happened with my original DS Lite. My DS became the victim of my younger brother’s rage (like all of my handheld devices) when he would borrow it to play it and slam it to the ground if he got angry about something. My GBC and GBA meet their ends to this fate, and I was ready to fight to save my DS Lite during one altercation. The results of one fight however had me breaking my own DS in half while fighting him. That was a painful memory that I wish I could go back and resolve better, but life is like that. Being without a DS put me in a gaming standstill since the only consoles we had were a Wii and PS2 that we had to share between the three of us. Things didn’t stay too gloomy for long when one day my mom asked me if I wanted a new DS. This was around the time when Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver were coming out (the best Pokémon games ever don’t @ me on this). I graciously accepted her kindness and picked up a DSi. I wanted to try out this new model DS since both of my brothers had the original DS Lite and I wanted to be different. I didn’t think I would miss the GBA slot, but soon I realized losing that meant losing access to all my other wonderful GBA games. Nevertheless, my DSi got me all the way through college and is still in good working order to this day. The day I got my 3DS was when I could finally tell a good companion to take the rest it deserved. If I want to play a DS game for fun, I will sometimes pop it into my DSi just for old time sake. Since then, I have obtained a DS Lite that has the GBA slot in it, but that is for mostly games that have extra features when you have a compatible game inserted. During the late 2000s and early 2010s when everyone was enjoying their fancy Xbox 360s and PS3s, I was still rocking and grooving along with my DS, and I thank it for getting me through my good and bad times. There are still a ton of games I have that I never got around to playing, and I’m waiting for the perfect time to find a nice comfy place to sit with my DS and relive through some of my glory days.

Honorable Mentions from my DS Collection:

  • Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia
  • Chrono Trigger (DS)
  • Custom Robo Arena
  • Disgaea DS
  • Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon
  • Kirby Super Star Ultra
  • Lunar Knights
  • Pokémon Black 2
  • Radiant Historia
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Strage Journey
  • The World Ends With You
  • Yu Gi Oh! 5D’s World Championship 2011: Over the Nexus

I Am Now Ready for Monster Hunter Rise

Last year when we got the news of Monster Hunter Rise, I was excited but cautious. The trailer looked interesting and showed off a new world and ascetic for the series. The use of the new Wirebug mechanic to zip around the map looked very interesting and it made me wonder what cool tricks I could pull off. However, something was bothering me with what I was watching. It looked like Monster Hunter, but to me, it didn’t feel like Monster Hunter at base value.

I think part of it has to do with the two latest games in the series, Generations Ultimate and World. My expectations for both games were flipped when I first played them. I thought I was going to love Gen Ult since it was classic Monster Hunter that I enjoyed and I was going to hate World since it felt “dumb down” for a western audience. World ended up being a fun game that felt easier than other games, and Gen Ult felt frustrating to play. I don’t know if the influence of World had something to do with it, but even with Generations on the 3DS, something just felt “off” with the game. With Rise, I wanted to be excited but didn’t want to be disappointed with the end result.

On Wednesday, January 7th, a new showcase for the game was shown along with a demo of the game. I don’t tend to play a lot of demos, but I was really excited to play this one. This was a chance to play a version of the game and form my own opinion on it. So how was it? After playing 2 hours of the demo, I can comfortable say that all my doubts of this game are gone and it has the potential of being one of my favorite games in the series. After taking some time observing and learning some new things, I have come up with my initial things that I like a dislike so far. I expect some of my feelings may change when the full game is released.

  1. A great mix of environment detail from World that is easy to understand and navigate.

    While World was very pretty to look at, and seeing the game in HD was a treat, none of the environments stood out to me. The Ancient Forest for example was a great opening level that taught you a lot about the new mechanics. To this day though, I still get lost and confused when trying to get to places. The details felt too great at some points and I could never appreciate the small things since the world was the main attraction. Rise doesn’t have the great detail of World, but that makes it better to play in my opinion. The map is smaller so I can take the time to understand my surroundings and I can appreciate the little details when I see them. The Shrine Ruins that you have access to in the demo is more interesting than any locale in World (in my opinion). There is something about going up and down the waterfall and then viewing the desolated shrines ruins that is hidden in the forest and swamp that just feels good to be in. I can easily understand how to get to places without having to remember specific location marks that I have to constantly remind myself to follow.
  2. The return of unique and creative weapons and armor.

    Plan and simple, I love that we are getting creative weapons and armor again. It was one of the biggest things missing from World that made things a bit bland. The game feels colorful again and I’m looking forward to see the other designs in the game. From the demo, I like the Switch Axe weapon and armor since I look like a character from Kingdom Hearts, and the design for the Hunting Horn set was really impressive.
  3. Quality of life changes from World are included.

    One of the best things World did was speeding up the game. I know some people were fond of taking a victory pose after taking a potion, but I appreciate not having to stop the action to run to a different area to restore health and remove status aliments. Being able to stay in the action and take care of anything (minus resharpen your weapon) keeps me engaged and in the battle at all times.
  4. I didn’t know I needed a canine companion along with my feline, but I love it.

    So who wants to race palamutes when the full game releases? The palamute is a new companion to the series that is badass. You are able to ride it to traverse faster and use recovery items while riding. I still love Nico the Palico, but I am definitely going to do my best to create Repede from Tales of Vesperia in game.
  5. I have new things to learn and master.

    Finally, the wirebug mechanic is a fun tool that I’m still rattling my brain around. One of my complaints about Generation Ultimate was that you had several styles you could chose from, but had to take time to be familiar with all of them. With a simple, dedicated new mechanic, I can take my time to practice it and get more familiar with it over time. This new addition is something new for me to learn that is going to take hours of practice to get used to, and I find that exciting.

And now for my minor complaints. The first one is another new mechanic introduced to the game, Wyvern Riding. It feels good to pull off and being able to control any large monster you are facing. What I’m not to jazzed about are the mechanics when riding. You have to hold the R button at all times to be able to move the monster. I know realistically it is hard to tame a wild animal, but it makes the controls a bit stiff when trying to do things. Another minor complaint I have is that I feel that there are a lot more inputs to remember to do things. During my playtime, I felt like I was constantly forgetting how to do certain inputs and it was frustrating not pulling off certain things. I will take this as me being rusty and obviously not being familiar with new mechanics. Eventually that issue will be taken care of once I’m able to practice more.

So those are my initial impressions. There are other little things that I didn’t notice at first like how your character is more talkative than usual. Your character will say hints about monster behaviors that is excellent for new players if you are not observant. I am very excited to play this now, and I’m upset that I didn’t pre-order the collector’s edition when it was in stock. The demo is available until the 31st of January, so if you want to try it for yourself go for it.

Thank you for reading,


My Time With the Nintendo 3DS

With the news that the Nintendo 3DS has finally ended production, I wanted to take a look back on the console and the fond memories that it provided. The Nintendo 3DS is probably one of my favorite systems. Growing up with two brothers and only one home console that we had to share, I always enjoyed handheld gaming since it was mine and I didn’t have to share it. What made the 3DS special for me was that it was the first console that I purchased with my own money.

My first 3DS that I bought.

I got my 3DS on June 28, 2013, with my very first paycheck from my first “real” job. I immediately went to the store and purchased a blue Nintendo 3DS XL, Fire Emblem Awakening, and Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. I remember feeling excited about the purchase since my older brother already had a 3DS and he would show it off to me when I was home from college. Booting up the console for the first time was like magic. Watching the screen switch from 2D to 3D was really cool and hearing the start up jingle made me tingle. I liked the layout of the 3DS menu and the ability to customize it to your preference. A big step up from the DSi that I had.

The first thing that I did with my 3DS, was watch a preloaded video of Dinosaur Office. Does anyone remember those videos? They were produced by College Humor and I found them entertaining. Don’t know why that was the first thing to grab my attention, but I’m not complaining.

The first game that I played was Fire Emblem Awakening. I hadn’t played a Fire Emblem since Radiant Dawn on the Wii, so I was looking forward to playing another one in the series. I remember loving this game for introducing some new mechanics and being difficult at some points. The marriage support system made me pay more attention to raising support levels with characters, and I liked that the children from the future could be recruited to your army. The world map from Sacred Stone returned, and it allowed me to do a bit more farming and get a better understanding of the continents of Ylisse and Valm. The only challenge that I have not done to this day is beat Priam. For being a descendant of the Radiant Hero, his army does not pull any punches. Maybe after this, I will boot the game up and give it another try.

To this day, I believe that Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is one of the best looking games on the 3DS. When you move all of the HUB items to the bottom screen, the top screen makes the environment pop out and you can concentrate on the action happening on the screen. The 3D worked well, and it provided hours of entertainment.

With my next paycheck came two more games, Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Shin Megami Tensei IV. Animal Crossing is Animal Crossing. It was a major improvement over City Folk, and I liked the idea of being the mayor of your town. This made it feel like you were in control of the town to the point everyone’s town was completely unique. The Dream Suite and Happy Home Academy were nice touches to visit other people’s towns and houses to see all of the creativity out there.

And then Shin Megami Tensei IV. I recently finished IV for the first time, seven years after I originally got it. I was being stubborn and I wanted to beat the game without using any guides or maps. There were two problems with that. This first, I am terrible when it comes to geography. I get lost easily and I have no idea how to navigate Tokyo even with the game using the real Tokyo map. The second issue, I managed to get the Neutral ending. This ending requires you to find hidden quests around the map and complete certain ones to advance the story. This, combined with my lack of directions, made finishing the game longer than it needed to be. I gave in this year and used a guide to help me finish the side quest and finish the game. The later bosses and final boss were not difficult since I had grinded my way to high levels from wandering Tokyo for years.

Over the years, my collection started to grow, and I came to appreciate the 3DS even more. Some highlights include Pokemon X, Bravely Default, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 3DS (weird title, but I like the play on words), and the plethora of games that I got on the e-shop. Special honor goes to Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. What I may consider my favorite game of all time, 4U was the game I needed at the time, and it led to one of my favorite gaming memories. I will have to share it one day here on the blog.

Let’s not forget the biggest star of the 3DS, Streetpass. Getting a Streetpass was such a thrill. Seeing the people that you passed and sharing information was cool. The best times were when you were traveling and you got to fill up each state on your map. Even cooler was when you passed someone from a different county and you could brag to your friends that you passed someone from Japan. What made passing people worth it though were the rewards and games associated with the feature. The two obvious games were Find Mii and Puzzle Swap. 

Find Mii was an RPG that used Miis from the people you passed to fight their way to rescue your Mii. In order to get to the end and get new rewards were to pass people, so it was an incentive to have your 3DS on you at all times. My favorite however, was Puzzle Swap. For each person you passed, you could select a puzzle piece to add to your collection in order to finish each panel. It was all dependent on passing someone who did not already have a piece that you had, so it was worth it to find new people and travel to places with a higher population. The panels themselves were fun to complete since you could view them afterwards and interact with them to a limit. During the time, new panels were released when major titles hit, so there was always a reason to come back and pass more people.

Tragedy did strike however. About a year after having my original 3DS, I tore the circle pad off (too much intense Smash and Monster Hunter). Even though it was still playable, other issues started to occur. At one point, the touch screen and buttons stopped working. I sent it off to Nintendo to fix and life was good again, but this was around the time the New Nintendo 3DS was released and one of them grabbed my attention. With the release of Monster Hunter Generations, a Monster Hunter themed New 3DS was launching along with it. It was hard for me to say no. I decided to finally give my old friend a well deserved rest, and it promised to stick around if needed again.

Honestly, the circle pad was in the way.

Things were good again, until the release of the Nintendo Switch. Nintendo promised that the Switch was not a replacement for the 3DS (eye rolls please!). I was sure that I would still be playing my 3DS for the years to come. But, something started to happen. I noticed my friends stopped carrying their 3DS around, and most people that I would see online silently disappeared. There were still good games coming to the system, but  it was clear that most people were ready to move on from the handheld. For a good while, I stopped playing my DS and had no urge to play it. The device that was always with me wherever I went, was suddenly collecting dust on my bed stand.

More recently, I still pick up my 3DS from time to time. I still have to finish Pokemon Shuffle since it is a fun puzzle game and addictive at some times. I’m apparently still collecting games for the system, so I will need to play them at some point. There are a lot of games that I was excited to get for the system that I still have yet to touch. An example would be Bravely Second; the game I was going to play immediately after finishing Default but got burned out after the last playthrough. The 3DS is/was a great handheld device that I liked more than the original DS. I kinda wish its life cycle ended with a bit more fanfare and not just like a notice that you get in the mail.

So those are my reflections on my time with my 3DS. Do you have any favorite memories with the console that were either good or bad? Leave a comment or, if you are inclined, write your own post about your time with the 3DS. I would love to read it and I like looking at other people’s perspectives.

Thank you for reading,


Soul Calibur Appreciation Post

I’ve done it! I was able to obtain my second platinum trophy! The honor goes to Soul Calibur VI. I wouldn’t expect myself to complete a game like this, but something clicked and it motivated me to get everything. While there is some clean up left to do, I think I can safely put this down now until the next challenger approaches.

I can safely say that Soul Calibur is one of my favorite fighting games. I started playing this game last March in 2019. After a few rounds, I got distracted by school and left it on my shelf for over a year; collecting dust and sharing stories of hope from the other games on my shelf (rip). I decided to pick it back up after a weekend with my friends. They would play Soul Calibur V back in our college days and would spend an unhealthy amount of time in Creation mode. There were a many of nights of neglecting parties and significant others just to hang with the guys and create dicks on people.

Creation mode is one of the best features in Soul Calibur. You can create your own OC with the options that the game gives you. There may not be a lot of options to choose from, but with a creative mind a lot of things are possible. With them by my side/computer screen, it rekindled my interest in the title to not only finish it, but obtain all of the achievements.

With that in mind, I wanted to personally thank all of the characters who helped me along this journey. Some of them may have played only a minor role, but their contribution was nevertheless important. 


Skeleboss is one of the oldest OCs that I have created. This skeleman is all business on top, but is ready to party below. The lore that I gave him is that he was granted immortality at the cost of what he loved the most, his fiddle. What he didn’t know was that there were two downfalls to this. The first was that as he got older, his flesh and muscles would melt off his body and that he would become a walking skeleton. The second drawback was due to the laws of marriage, his wife, who he absolutely hates, is also immortal and is stuck with him. To get away from her, he picks up hobbies and will sometimes travel the world just so he can escape. It just so happened that in the 1500s, he was traveling around Europe and Asia during events of Soul Calibur. It soon came that he would become a legendary hero during this time. Later in life in the mid 2000s, he would go on to be a new legend in the art of skateboarding.

Darklord Kent

One of the edgiest guys one can make when the world already has Soul Edge. Kenith (Darklord Kent) was designed to be the edgiest person we could create. His hatred for weaklings led him down the path of being this world’s reaper. No one can match his level of edge and set off to prove that. He is so edgy, that he has not defeated anyone; as they cannot get close to him (mostly their choice). The socks and sandals were an extra bonus.

THOT Patrol

The hero that the internet needs. THOT Patrol is on a mission to slay each and every thot he comes across. Based on the “Begone THOT” meme, we decided to create this character after coming across A LOT of barely clothed characters online. We felt that there had to be a champion that could get past their seductive looks and defeat them one by one. He is not the hero that we wanted, but the one that we needed.

Mr. Society

We eventually knew we were going to create this. Based on the “We Live In A Society” meme, we had to create a Joker impersonator. The only regret we have is that we fought someone who was Batman and we were not using this character.

Florida Man

Definitely one of the strongest characters that we created. Florida Man is ready to get in complete high jinks (even though Florida was not a thing in the 1580s).Where did he come from? How did he get here? Who taught him in the ways of the nunchucks? Whatever the reason, Florida Man will always show up with a crazy headline. Currently, he has the highest online win percentage on my profile.


There are a lot of bad “Karens” out there, so we decided to make a good one (kinda). For a while, she was our undefeated champion of online play. We eventually gave her the backstory that she was fighting her way to get to the manager of online play. We found one person online who could match that description, and he proceeded to mop the floor with us.After that, Karen jumped back into her minivan and started her new quest of getting stronger to take out all of the managers (a very silly plot, but had us in tears).



I dislike Raphael. I don’t like his moveset, he’s demeanor, or his stupid glasses. He did, however, help me obtain an achievement for getting a gold ranking in Arcade mode. For that, I will give him a small pat on the back.

Mitsurugi and Sophitia Style

Not necessarily the character, but the character’s style. I used both of these through my playthrough of Libra of Soul. After 20 hours, I’m still not the best with Mitsurugi’s style, but I was able to playthrough all of Libra of Soul in less than 2 hours using Sophitia’s style. I’ll let you guess which one I’m better with.


Thanos randomly popped up during my first Libra of Souls run. I like to imagine that he used the Time Stone to wrap himself to this era. From here, he would have some complicated plan to use Soul Edge to conquer the universe or something. Along the way, he met Skelaboss and decided to team up with him for a while. He would then go to fight one battle and then got bored. Where did he go after the fight? No one knows. Rumors have it, he fled this realm once he heard both Geralt and Florida Man were here as well.

With this page in history closed, I turn to look and see what might be next. I have other games that I am close to completing, but I may wait until I’m motivated again. It can be hard to force yourself to play something for hours if you are not into it. In a short time, something will come along that will get the gears turning (like my wife Kat earning her 8th platinum trophy). With that in mind, if anyone wants to play Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 with me online so I can get that last achievement, you will be my best friend forever!

Thank you for reading,