Friday, April 4, 2014

Monthly Update: April 2014

March 2014 was a fun and interesting month.  First off, I turned 34, which feels an awful lot like 33, which doesn't feel much different than when I turned 31.  Turning 30 only felt a little different than it did when I turned 29, but that's only because I got to use a new number even though it was technically part of the same decade, depending on how you count.  

For this birthday, my weekend was spent with Conklederp's clan up in Whistler, BC, which apparently is a thing that I apparently haven't been paying attention to for the past 34 years.  I watched the 2010 Winter Olympics when they were in Vancouver, BC, but I didn't realize that a lot of the downhill events were actually at this massive site of Earth acne called Whistler and Blackcomb.

Another birthday event occurred this last weekend as well (March 26 - 31), Dr. Potts took the ol' Amtrak up to Portland from Nor*Cal.  For most of March, Conklederp had been telling me not to plan anything for that weekend and said nothing else about what to expect.  Lo and behold, when I came home from work I found the good Dr. and Conklederp casually conversing on the couch.  That day I had been receiving texts from the both of them that hinted about something going on, so it wasn't a complete surprise, but I was still surprised none-the-less.  In traditional Portland fashion, we had nearly 24 hours of rain almost every day Dr. Potts was up.

His last night here, Conklederp and I took Dr. Potts out to Ground Kontrol, an arcade bar in downtown Portland that does pretty much everything right.  They have a full liquor bar, but also four or five beers on tap or you can buy a tall boy of PBR, Tecate or whatever other kind of cheapish beer (although in the past they did serve Abominable Winter Ale from the HUB brewery from here in Portland and a radler).  They have a great selection of games ranging from Qbert and Gradius to more modern cabinets such as Battle Royale Pac-Man and Mario Kart GP2 (I'll come back to Mario Kart in a bit).  A nice touch is that there are bottle/glass/can holders on all of the cabinets so you never have to worry about precariously placing your beverage any where near a furiously moving joystick or a hand vigorously mashing a number of buttons.  As it turned out, Sunday night there was a $2/person cover charge, but it was free game night and we easily spent over $2/person on arcade and pinball games.

The only disappointment of the night had to do with the Mario Kart GP2 game.  There were two chairs for what appeared to be a chance to race against both computer characters and the person sitting next to you.  Both Dr. Potts and I tried to coordinate a Vs game/match, but each time we ended up playing our own game and only against computer controlled characters.  Even though we both picked the same track on the 150cc difficulty setting, there was no on screen prompt to set up a race with the other player.  The items picked up from the "?" Blocks were also not very creative or intuitive, meaning they did not seem to come from the canonical Mario Kart universe.  Items that we have come to recognize as being inherently Mario Kart.  I never saw banana peels, mushrooms, green/red turtle shells or invincibility stars.  There was a trashcan lid, a spiny-looking thing that may have been a Spiny and an item that used your picture that the game took shortly after you start the game.  All items acted like either green or red shells.

Despite being a little disappointed by a video game that cost us less than 10¢ to play, it was great hanging out with Dr. Potts.  He introduced me to Nidhogg, which was a lot of fun to play as we were able to hook up two controllers to my laptop (IT CAN BE DONE!!).  In turn I introduced him the History Channel show Vikings, which we came within two episodes shy of finishing the first season.

April is looking to be a busy month for my gaming habits.  I recently started Bioshock 2, Braid and Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box, but I am still playing through Assassin's Creed, Oblivion, Final Fantasy VII, FEZ, Torchlight II, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, Anodyne, Slender: The Arrival, Witch & Hero. . . you get the idea.  Oh, and then this Elder Scrolls Online was officially released today and that's already eaten up some of my time, so expect at least one article from me on this later this month on that score.

So happy April everyone.

Today, I Lost My Way

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