Adventures of a Middle-Aged Gamer

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This writing was brought to you in high-definition and surround sound by Crystal Anne with An E. Crystal is a Hufflepuff who works as an autism consultant by day and goes to Library School at night. She reads a lot, she cross-stitches a lot, and is always ready to make someone a reading list.

So a couple of months ago, I decided to dive back into a hobby that I hadn’t been heavily involved in for literal years: gaming. I’m 42 years old, and had some reservations along the lines of “Am I too old for this?”

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Then I remembered, “Oh, right. I’m 42. Rapidly running out of effs to give!”

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It had also been a long time since I had played anything outside of the odd puzzle game on the ol’ FB (Candy Crush Soda and Jelly Sagas have been particular favorites in that area). I also am working on Spanish in Duolingo, which, while it is a language app, is highly game-ified.

However, I grew up playing various Mario iterations on the OG Nintendo, and played the very first Mortal Kombat on the Sega Genesis. That one is a particular point of pride, as my dad had a lot of fun telling his friends about his adorable baby girl and her facility with fatalities.

In adulthood, I beat Jak and Daxter on the PS2 and had started on Ratchet and Clank when the PS2 crapped out on me. I also figured out around that time that I had very little use for Grand Theft Auto. It is possible that I was doing it wrong, but I did very little driving but a lot of standing around talking. Also, I did not really enjoy the parts of the game that involved beating up female sex workers. I had a great time with Wii Zumba and the Wii Fit later on. So there was plenty of history, but it had still been awhile.

So with the desire for games and my lack of effs in mind, I began looking at systems. I wanted it primarily for me, but also wanted to be able to involve my kids, at whatever interest level they happened to have. I also looked up some games, and after some research, I came to the conclusion that the system most likely to give us the most bang for our buck was the Nintendo Switch.

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*Not sponsored by Nintendo, how would that even work?

Most of the usage has been between me and the daughter (the son prefers his Roblox and phone bowling, and kills a few zombies here and there). Below will be a quick rundown of what we’ve tried and how it has gone. If you’re looking for game ideas or recommendations, I’m here for you!

Mario and Sonic at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

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Sob, the title, though. This is a sports game in which all of our favorite Mario and Sonic friends are competing in the Olympic games, with options that include surfing, martial arts, running, swimming, gymnastics, equestrian, and a lot of other sports.

I had some fun tooling about in the running games once I figured out what I was doing. This is a good one for families, especially if you are just figuring out how the Switch works, and trying to get used to controllers. Plus, the characters are fun, because Mario and Sonic are classics. Daughter has played it more than I have, and excels at surfing and skateboarding (which kind of tracks, since the gameplay mechanics are similar).

 

Hollow Knight

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Very cute, but VERY convoluted and hard. This is a platformer* in which my little knight is going about trying to find his way around a ruined kingdom. I still haven’t found my way to the first boss. But stabbing the little bugs is pretty fun, and it works well as a platformer.

I had the slightly humiliating experience of thinking I was going to teach my daughter how to play it and having her blithely sail through a level that I was finding no success with.

Pretty sure I know how Dad felt all those years ago with Mortal Kombat.

*A platformer, if you’re not familiar, is a type of game wherein the character must be guided across a series of, well, platforms, through sequences of jumps, turns, or attack patterns that eventually solve the puzzle of that level.

 

Castlevania Anniversary Pack

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Got the idea for this one from watching the TV show, naturally. Castlevania was originally a very popular platformer for the NES that spawned a whole series of video games, with a consistent vampire mythology involving Dracula and the vampire-slaying Belmont family.

Fun fact: I’ve never played it in its original iteration, so this is a whole new thing for me. It definitely reminds me of my old days of playing Wizards and Warriors on my Nintendo (wore that thing OUT).

I’ve only futzed around with the first few levels before getting all kinds of dead, but I will say that the image transfer from the original game is beautiful and those pixelated graphics and slightly tinny quality to the music will take one back to being approximately 14 and having your mother tell you, “You’ve been playing that game for 2 hours straight, please go do something else”.

 

Subnautica

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Ooof, I am so terrible at it so far. But was I going to miss out on a game where you crash land your spaceship on an aquatic alien planet and you have to figure out how to survive? NOPE.

I have been having to Google my face off to figure out how to play it, but I have managed to begin to build some equipment and I finally caught an alien fish to eat (which was then stolen from me by some other bastard alien fish, nature is cruel).

Interestingly, this hits me in the same spot as my enjoyment of books based around survival of a hostile environment (e.g. Whiteout by Adriana Anders, Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis). I hatey-hate-hate hostile environments in real life, and cannot be paid to camp. But I can happily mow through a story about someone else’s survivalist tendencies all day, as long as I am in my hermetically sealed and air-conditioned house.

The creature designs that I’ve seen range from “awww, who’s a cute widdle sea beastie” to “HOLY FINS THAT’S A LOT OF TEETH”. And the underwater design graphics are stunningly gorgeous. But yeah, so hard. Really glad that I have been able to look at other gaming sites to figure out how to proceed.

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Pokemon Sword

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I haven’t played this one, but I wanted to convey some info from my daughter, as it’s her game.

“I like the fact that you can catch Pokemon. My favorite so far is the Bewear. I haven’t used this little guy in battle but he is SO CUTE. The game is very pretty and has nice graphics. I prefer catching Pokemon to battling them, and it has a really big environment for exploring.”

Bee says hello.

 

 

 

Bastion

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I downloaded this one after reading an article about Hades play-alikes, and indeed the gameplay is very similar to Hades, with a bit more propensity to fall off of things. Like Hades, it is produced by Supergiant Games, although it came out a few years beforehand. This is again a case where the story is very strong, with a strong mystery element to it.

The world has been destroyed by something called The Calamity, and it is as you go through the story that you begin to find out what means and what actually happened. I also got to adopt a horned alligator that follows me around, and I love her.

 

Hades

There was a whole-ass review about Hades right here on this very site, and I have little to add other than the fact that this game was a large contributor to my purchasing a Switch. You tell my Greek mythology loving self that there’s a whole game where I interact with Greek gods and fight battles using their powers? Um, yes, I will take ALL of that.

I’ve also taught my daughter and my nephew to play it, to the slight consternation of my husband and sister (husband was a bit unnerved when he heard his sweet, soft-spoken teenager snarl “DIE!” at the monster that she was enthusiastically stabbing).

Like Subnautica, this game speaks to a very specific subset of the kinds of stories that I like to read, which are often twists on mythology. I’m a very big Rick Riordan fan, both of his books and his publishing imprint, adored Circe by Madeline Miller, and have a library copy of Ariadne by Jennifer Saint blinking coyly at me for when I finish the book I’m currently reading. This game fit my interests perfectly.

So that’s where we’re at so far. I’m enjoying myself, and am having a lot of fun, both rediscovering how much fun gaming can be and sharing it with my teenager. For someone like myself, who loves stories and imaginative worlds, it’s another way to give myself those experiences, and to share those experiences with others, whether it be by roping in my daughter, handing my nephew my Switch at a family gathering, or writing an article about how much fun I’m having.

So until next time, I need to go work the DC Superhero Girls game into my budget.

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What about you? Any games you are absolutely loving for Switch or other platforms? Tell us about them! 

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