Upgrading to the Wii U

Ah, the holiday season–Thanksgiving dinner plans are being made, retailers are staying open for an hour longer starting on Black Friday if not sooner, final exams are coming up (I have three essays to write for my online Ethics class before the final, unfortunately), and people are beginning to think about what to spend their money on for Christmas.

I know Christmas should be focused on the birth of Jesus over material things, but after giving it some careful thought, I decided it’s high time that I upgraded to…the Wii U.

Courtesy: Nintendo

Apparently, my original Wii has been acting up since late July, if not earlier. “Cristina, how is your Wii acting up, and why didn’t you address this problem?” you may ask.

It all started when I was playing Sonic and SEGA All-Stars Racing just to help myself get a hang of my driving experience in the real world. I played on the Seaside Hill racetrack, and right in the middle of the race my Wii takes me back to the title screen not once, but five times.

When I played The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword later, the same thing happened thrice, and I had trouble controlling Link thrice.

I played Sonic Colors, and I had a hard time controlling my favorite blue hedgehog as I was jumping on the construction platforms on Planet Wisp.

Playing Super Mario Bros. Wii the night before the semester began, I had a lot of trouble getting through a level in World 2, and how many times did the Wii take me back to the title screen? EIGHT. FRICKIN’. TIMES!

I haven’t touched my Wii ever since.

I addressed this problem not to my family, but to some of my gamer aquaintances at school. They told me the main reason why my Wii is having these technical difficulties is because of the constant updates the console undergoes each time a new game disc is inserted and the data from the new game is added to the SD card–of course, the last new game I got for the Wii was Just Dance 2015–thus rendering the console itself less efficient than it was in the past.

“Nintendo is basically making the Wii entirely useless to make you upgrade to the Wii U,” said one acquaintance who shall not be named for privacy’s sake.

I thought my Wii was having problems because my mom knocked it off the TV shelf by accident while she was installing her new Comcast Xfinity DVR.

The best thing about the Wii U is I can either play games with the traditional Wii Remote and the Wii Controller, the Game Pad or even both. Plus, I can use Amiibo figurines for Super Smash. Bros or other games on which they’re compatible, depending on the model line they belong to.

Courtesy: GameStop

And the best part about the Wii U? It possesses backwards compatibility for all the Wii games, so I might be able to transfer all the game data from the Wii to the new console.

I think switching to the Wii U will be the best decision I’ll ever make as a gamer. I was contemplating on upgrading to the PlayStation 4 as well, but that’s another story.

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Satoru Iwata: The Leader Behind Nintendo’s Success

Satoru Iwata: The Leader Behind Nintendo’s Success

Some say that it sucks when people give a person more respect in death than they do in life. I, unfortunately, am one of those people, especially after hearing the sad news of the sudden passing of one of gaming’s greats: Satoru Iwata. He died on July 11th at the age of 55 of a bile duct tumor that was supposedly eviscerated last year.

Iwata was CEO and President of Nintendo Co. Ltd. since 2002, succeeding Hiroshi Yamauchi, the company’s president since 1949. He was the first Nintendo president not related to Nintendo’s founding Yamauchi family by blood or marriage. He became a consultant to HAL Laboratory, the game developer he worked as a programmer after graduating from the Tokyo Institute of Technology, and that worked closely with Nintendo on Kirby, EarthBound, and the Super Smash Bros. series. At the time Iwata was promoted as president and CEO, Nintendo wasn’t performing as financially well as other console producers, with their GameCube selling poorly in comparison with Sony’s PlayStation 2 and Microsoft’s Xbox. In 2005, Iwata helped Nintendo revitalize their handheld system, transitioning from the Game Boy to the Nintendo DS, which introduced the touchscreen (before Apple did with their iPod Touch!) and allowed for more novel games to be played on it. A year later, he introduced motion control-based gaming via the Wii, the console that nearly doubled Nintendo’s stock price. When Nintendo’s finances plummeted in 2009–we were still going through the Great Recession at this point–Iwata curtailed his salary in half to help the company’s poor finances and to better compete with Microsoft and Sony. In 2011, in order to help Nintendo improve public relations with its fans, Iwata instituted Nintendo Direct, a series of press conferences open to everybody that revealed upcoming Nintendo games and products outside of typical industry channels, which are often done in a quirky, humorous manner, like the mock fight between him and Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aimé. I never watched any Nintendo Direct conferences on YouTube, but I am pretty aware of them. Earlier this year, as the sales of traditional home consoles were falling, Iwata placed part of Nintendo’s focus on the fast-growing mobile game market, creating a partnership with mobile provider DeNA to publish titles.

As news of Iwata’s passing quickly spread throughout the gaming community, art tributes were posted on Twitter, Tumblr, etc. with the hashtag #ThankYouIwata as symbols of their appreciation for his creativity and his passion for gaming, and his accomplishments because of it. Here are my two favorite pieces:

by Namie
by Namie
by Alex "Axel" Irish
by Alex “Axel” Irish

Forget about what I said in the beginning of this entry. It turns out I have been appreciating Iwata’s work the entire time by playing on the consoles he helped to create–the Nintendo GameCube, the Game Boy Advanced SP, the Wii, and the Nintendo 3DS. I even appreciated his suggestion of bringing Mario and Sonic together in Nintendo’s Olympic games series. Here’s the link to the EU Nintendo Direct footage of Satoru Iwata explaining Mario & Sonic at the Sochi Winter Games: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BI73qViGuTU

I hope that either Shigeru Miyamoto or Genyo Takeda (mostly Miyamoto) will do a great job filling Iwata’s position as President and CEO of Nintendo. Still, there will never be another man with the same brilliant mind and spark of creativity and passion as Satoru Iwata. May he rest in peace.

I’m Autistic, Deal With It

I have a sense of humor, really–
Just not when my brain registers certain jokes as serious.
Neurotypical older brother asks me,
“Don’t you have a test to study for?”
It’s summer vacation, and I’m not the kind of person who takes summer classes.
So I shout, “NO! ABSOLUTELY NOT!”
“You get every joke on Family Guy, but why can’t you understand mine?” he asks.
Instead of telling him my analyzes jokes differently I say,
“I’m autistic, deal with it.”

I’m a nice person most of the time, really–
Just not when I’m in unfamiliar situations.
Neurotypical mother asks for the following favor:
“Can you set the language on my Bluetooth back to English?”
She’s not great with technology, and she set it to German by accident.
So I say in an angry tone, “I’ve never had that problem, so I can’t do it.”
“Why do you have to get so frustrated when I give you a new task?” Mom asks.
Instead of telling her I can learn how to fix things with interest I say,
“I’m autistic, deal with it.”

I always keep my composure, really–
Just not when I get excited about something.
Neurotypical Twitter user announces:
“New main Pokémon game to be released in November!”
I take gaming news like this with a grain of salt until I find a trailer on YouTube.
So I squeal with delight and flap my arms at the sight of the real deal.
“Why do you flap your arms and squeal like a baby at times like this?” Mom asks.
Instead of telling her that arm-flapping and squealing are forms of stimming I say,
“I’m autistic, deal with it.”

I’m into sophisticated things, really–
Just not when it comes to certain forms of pop culture.
Neurotypical brother tells me, as I watch My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic,
“That show is for babies.”
Correction: the My Little Pony TV shows and films from 1986-2006 are for babies.
So I argue, “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is for people of all ages.”
“Why the hell do you even like cartoons like this?” he asks.
Instead of telling him such cartoons are my default interests I say,
“I’m autistic, deal with it.”

Just because I can’t take certain jokes doesn’t mean I have no sense of humor.
When I get upset in unfamiliar situations, don’t tell me I’m impatient.
If I stim by flapping my arms and squealing excitedly, I’ll calm down eventually.
I love My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, so don’t change the channel.
All these things are a part of who I am,
And I wouldn’t change myself for anyone.
So if you ask why I act and behave in a certain way at a certain time and place,
I have these five words to say:
“I’m autistic, deal with it.”

Pokémon: Tryin’ to Catch ‘Em All

Pokémon: Tryin’ to Catch ‘Em All

I’ve had an on-and-off relationship with Pokémon for most of my life. I watched the anime as a little kid in elementary school, when I was mainstreaming from an ESE class to a regular class on a daily basis. My brother collected some Pokémon cards from the first generation, if not all, and I fell in love with the artwork they put into them; I didn’t care much about the trading card game in general. One day, my brother stopped collecting the cards–he didn’t even make it to the second generation–and to this very day I’m still pondering where he even hid his binder of Gen I cards. When I was 7 years old, I had a crush on the most powerful Pokémon at the time: Mewtwo. Long story short, I had a dream where Mewtwo saved my life from some kind of villain whose name and face I have completely forgotten. My crush on Mewtwo didn’t last very long, though. My cousin and brother laughed at the mere thought of a Legendary Pokémon being my “true love”–it would be out of my league, anyway.

In 2007, when I was in middle school, the Pokémon franchise became popular again on its 10th anniversary (in the U.S.). We entered Gen 4 with Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl, yet I was still into the anime, not the games. However, I had a classmate named Joshua who was the biggest Pokémon fan I ever met. There was only one problem that got in the way of his Pokémon Training, though: religion. And by religion, I mean Josh’s parents. The sect of Christianity they were in–Baptist–deemed Pokémon demons created by the Devil to corrupt the minds of children, which I found very hard to believe. The belief perturbed me even more so when Josh came to me one time, if not more, complaining that his parents took away his Pokémon cards in accordance with the Baptist doctrine. Josh’s parents came around and allowed Josh to continue playing Pokémon, which he was proud of. I haven’t spoken to Josh since the 7th Grade, but I know he’s very happy to be a part of the Pokémon community (if he’s still active in it at all).

In my senior year of high school, close to graduation, my classmate in Psychology showed me the trailer for Pokémon X and Pokémon Y, which wasn’t due until the fourth quarter of 2013. Watching the trailer on his Galaxy SIII, I was surprised at how much the producers enhanced the graphics–everything was full-blown CGI. Again, I didn’t care much about the games, only the anime series (the graphics improved in that area as well).

Now that I got my life story out of the way, let’s fast-forward to the 2014 holiday season. I was at GameStop trying to get Super Smash Bros. (Nintendo 3DS), which was extremely popular. I downloaded the free demo from the Nintendo eShop, but I wanted to play the full game. It wasn’t on the shelf, as is the case with some popular video games, so I browsed around some more only to come across the most recent Pokémon games: Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire. I thought long and hard about getting one of the two versions, and getting into the Pokémon games at all. Okay, Super Smash Bros. is out of the question because it’s nowhere to be found, I thought to myself. As for Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal… well, as much as I love Sonic, I don’t want to take any chances on a game that’s more God-awful than Sonic ’06. Oh, what the hell, I’ll take Pokémon Alpha Sapphire. This might actually give me the opportunity to play something I should’ve played when I was younger! 

So, on Christmas Day, I officially became a Pokémon Trainer. My starter Pokémon? Torchic, who quickly evolved into Blaziken within a week or two. I caught some other Pokémon along the way–due to their ability to Evolve, I think it’s best for me not to name the Pokémon I acquired because it’s exahausting–and today I have 422 out of 719 Pokémon in my Pokédex. I would’ve had more than 422 Pokémon or maybe even closer to 700 if not for a couple of problems: trading and Legendaries. In my brother’s time, you needed a wire to trade Pokémon from one Game Boy to another, which wasn’t an issue if your classmate didn’t mind giving you a special Pokémon. Now that the recent Pokémon games have wireless Internet capability, it’s easier to trade Pokémon with your close friends and other people around the world–not to mention a huge headache. Right now, I’ve proposed a trade to at least a dozen people from Italy, France, Japan, Spain, the UK, Australia, and even here in the US, and they have not gotten back to me. If someone does accept my trading proposal, I would offer them a Pokémon that I could care less about in exchange for a Pokémon that may interest me. Here’s where the trading process gets problematic. Sometimes, if I offer a Magby in exchange for a potential Legendary (for example, Diancie) I would accept it, but then the other person would cancel that trade. Speaking of Legendaries… If I go to the Global Trading Station and seek Diancie, Mew, Shaymin, Jirachi, Deoxys, or any other Legendary Pokémon, I would see that the people who deposited them into the system are seeking other Legendary Pokémon that I should’ve caught by now. I would give them my left arm in lieu of a Pokémon I don’t have for all I care! And another thing about Legendaries is, unless you caught them in previous games and transferred them to another game already, you have to receive them at promotional events–movie premieres, expos, festivals, even actual Pokémon Center stores (if there’s one near you)–which not everybody can attend. Don’t believe me? Here’s a link with a list of all the Legendary Pokémon to date: http://nintendo.wikia.com/wiki/Legendary_Pok%C3%A9mon. Find them on the XY & ORAS Pokédex on Serebii.net and, when you want to find out where they’re located, there’s a text that reads “Transfer required” and/or “Transfer or receive from event,” depending on which Pokémon game you’re playing.

I have a lot to learn about Pokémon Training, battles, and trading–nearly 20 years worth of it.