So... I played the Wii again recently.

All we have is an old Wii and two Wii remotes

It was a few weeks ago, around the start of the school holidays. Unaware of the next-gen craziness that was happening, one of my sisters suddenly asked me to set up my old Wii console in the house. My family never really played much of it and they're not really big on video games, so it came to me as a bit of a surprise. We only played Wii Sports and such, and I played a few more games on it (the Trauma Center games are so good, by the way) before losing any desire to turn it on ever again. I didn't really want to set it up, because it needed some work. The A/V cable was missing, the power adapter had the wrong plug, the remote batteries were leaking, et cetera. It ended up taking almost a fortnight before I got everything set up correctly in my spare time, right on time for a family friend's visit... and it was surprisingly worth the effort.

The first game we played was Just Dance 2 It's quite an old game that many people (i.e. people who go on video game forums like us) may dismiss it easily, but this game is super fun. It's incredibly shallow and our Wii only outputs in freaking 480i(the first thing my sister said when we booted it up was "have Wii games always looked this blurry?"), but none of that mattered. The game just goes straight to dancing, and the dancing is fun. The song selection is really old at this point, but it's varied and crazy enough to almost be timeless. Dancing any Bollywood duet to anysong would've been fun, but the song, silly choreography and colorful direction the game gives are perfectly stupid. Even though the game is barely interactive, playing it was the most active I've been, and the most fun I've had in a long time. We only stopped when we were tired as all hell, after more than 3 hours of playing.

Later on that week, we all played my old Wii library little-by-little. My sister seemed to enjoy House of the Dead: Overkill a lot (this really surprised me), and we played a few episodes of You Don't Know Jack, which is still great fun. And then we played Super Mario Galaxy. I didn't really "get" the game when I played it before (as I usually do with Mario games, unfortunately), but boy am I glad to give it another chance. I've thought that the multiplayer concept (the so-called "Co-Star Mode") is terrible, but it actually gives a good excuse to have one spectator "playing" the game with the main player, interacting and giving suggestions more actively. I'm a terrible Mario player, so it actually helped me too. This game just looks and sounds and plays fantastic, and even with so many "game of the generation" recommendations it still exceeded my expectations.. We only played a couple of levels, but I'm definitely going back into it when I have the time.

Playing the Wii again -- after years since the last time I even touched it -- feels refreshing. It showed me again how awesome video games can be, even when they might not be at their best. As the industry is moving into a new generation, everyone wants the future to be perfect. It's nice to be reminded that, although that is ideal, it doesn't need to be. Video games are still around, and they're still fun. And they still will be too!

Thanks for reading this nonsense I wanted to share. I hope you all enjoy your holidays too.

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How to eat boned wings!

I got this stock photo from foxnews.com, no joke.

Okay, that's it. This whole #TeamBoneless thing has been driving me crazy, because boned wings are obviously superior to boneless wings, which aren't even the wings of a chicken! Anyway, one of the major arguments for boneless wings is that they are clean; they do not require you to use your hands, which are apparently the utensil of savages. Now, I do understand the cleanliness argument, but ignoring my belief that our hands are -- in fact -- quite sophisticated and difficult to use properly (have you ever eaten loose rice with your hands before? You know what I'm talking about), I don't think eating wings is actually that difficult with other utensils.

As I have mentioned in another thread, I usually eat wings with a spoon. Well, sometimes with a knife and a fork, sometimes with a pair of chopsticks, but I think the technique is universal. What you need is just some knowledge of the wings' anatomy. Mind you, my limited knowledge of wings anatomy is just from eating a bunch of wings. (Aside: I like to eat any part of the chicken without my hands; I like the challenge and clean hands. I usually end up with cleaner bones than others too!)

I did some serious research to prepare this post anyway (which involves a full minute of Google Image Search! phew!) to illustrate things properly.

(Taken from some wikispaces site, 2nd Google result for "chicken wings anatomy")

I think you all know why eating wings are so goddamn difficult. It's that hole in the middle of the forearm! Well, here's the obvious solution to this problem: separate the bones. Specifically, the ulna and the radius. How we separate them depends entirely on how the wings are cooked.

If they are well-cooked, with very tender meat and softened tendons, you want to go for the elbow. The elbow should be the fatter end of the forearm (away from the pointy "hand", if it is not cut off). What you want to do is to pull or scoop away the thinner bone (the radius) at the joint so that it comes off from the elbow. Then, you can either cut the other end off the wrist, or just pull it away.

If the wings are a bit hard (this usually happens to slimmer country chickens, or if just lightly fried), the elbow end could be a bit difficult to separate as the tendons might not be soft enough. In this case, I usually go for the wrist. Still going for the radius first, I'd try to cut between the two bones, and then lever the bone away from the elbow. Even if it's still too hard to come off completely, having the wrist joint freed helps a lot. (Addendum: if it's still too hard to do it without touching, I usually bring it up to my mouth for a quick bite or grab.)

(Taken from ~lunarballad's DeviantArt, 1st Google result)

So, I guess the second part to the strategy is what we came for: the meat. This part is a bit easier if you see how muscles are connected. As long as you don't cut the muscles across, it should be really easy to get the most out of your wings without ever touching it with your hands! I would discourage this with beef, pork, or chicken breast -- as cutting them along the lines make them harder to chew -- but I think the wings and thighs of chicken are great for this way of eating. They're naturally more tender, so this gets maximum springiness out of them. Wings are too short across to get anything if you cut that way anyways. Well, if you get good enough with getting the bones out, I'm sure you can keep most of the meat intact and cut them however the heck you want. I usually get the outermost biceps of the wings first (marked orange in the diagram), but it's up to you where you start!

...Are you still reading? Thanks for reading this all of this text that doesn't really have anything to do with video games! It is great to know how to do this when I want both chicken wings and clean hands, like when I'm socializing at dinner, watching TV, or playing video games! Feel free to post about how you eat wings yourself; I'm sure I'm not the only one who always tries to eat chicken as efficiently as possible. #TeamBoneIn

P.S. Here's a good video guide on how to do something similar and have the wings still intact, but it requires hands:

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How Spiral Knights has grown since 2011.

(pic taken from the official Steam group)

So, Spiral Knights's second anniversary has just passed recently. It isn't really the most popular free-to-play game out there, so it surprised me that it has survived for this long! I haven't been playing much of it myself, nor have I spent much money on it, but I do enjoy the game very much and wish the best for it.

One great thing about the game is the large amount of changes the game went through in this past couple of years, and since there hasn't been much discussion on the game here, I'd like to share some interesting ones to maybe convince some of you to give this game another chance! Some of these updates are kinda old (like, last-year-old) but I want to talk about them anyway..

(I won't be discussing the core game very much because if you haven't played this back in 2011, what are you doing reading this, it's a free game just go play it.)

New Monsters and Levels

This is pretty much a Zelda boss battle. (pic from a Google search)

When Spiral Knights first came out, there were... two bosses? Well, now they have a whopping number of FOUR bosses, which is twice the old number. Okay, maybe that's not too impressive, but one great thing about the bosses in Spiral Knights is that they have a set of levels and a core mechanic associated to each set. The boss battle in the image, for example, has switchable barriers that blocks out missiles, and the boss battle itself is to switch the barriers at the right time to get them shoot each other. The levels before the boss play with this new mechanic a lot to prepare you for the boss.

This type of levels is not restricted to boss levels either, there are new sets of levels that play differently than the usual fight-and-then-move-on levels. They are similar to the old Graveyard level in a way. One set of levels make you run from large unkillable spookats (the ghost cats) and light candles that scare them away, and another recently released set includes small monsters that attacks in swarms. These levels keep the game interesting and challenging, as the simple combat-focused gameplay can get a bit tedious after a while.

There are also more difficult versions of those four bosses in the deepest levels, and a few more bosses in the missions, speaking of which...

Missions

Missions are basically a tutorial feature that gives you a set of static levels that focuses on one or two things. All you have to do is press a button to pull up the mission list; it's pretty convenient. The missions tells you what sort of monsters you are going to face, what sort of mechanics will be there, and even give you gear recommendations and the recipes associated with them. At one point they let you into a room where you can straight-up buy most of all recipes too (before, you'd have to reach a vendor in the depths that has a randomized inventory). I think there is at least one mission associated to most sets of levels available, boss levels included.

I think the missions are nice! They give a good structure to the originally almost fully randomized game that smooths up the learning curve quite a bit. I still remember how shocking Tier 2 was as a new player, and this teaches things new players would want to know without needing them to read the wiki. It has some nice story moments too, like paying respects to an unknown knight's grave and rescuing imprisoned NPC knights.

There is an expansion pack for the missions, which I haven't played myself, and although it is an interesting direction for the game it was quite ridiculously priced. I was fortunate enough to have someone gift it to me but I can't see myself or many other people buying it, so I doubt that another one will ever come out, at least not at the same price point. (That expansion pack came out February 2012. The price has went down since then actually.. I think it was $15, now it is less than half that).

A Bunch of Other Stuff

UI Changes

Check out that shield meter.

This had just came out for the anniversary, actually. I personally think that it does not look as good, but it does communicate a lot of things better. Now the monsters' health can be clearly seen above their heads, our own healths are more visible on screen, and there is a shield meter that shows our shield's health right below it! Way better than just "feeling" it by the shield color. When targeting a monster, its health, attack type and weakness is also shown. Neat! Also, it doesn't have the energy meter constantly up to remind you to buy more of them anymore.

Accessories

Bunny ears are available too. (image from the wiki)

Now you can wear cat ears on top of your helmets. =D

These are pretty rare and you can only equip them once, I think. They usually come in different colors too!

Guild Halls

Customizable Guild Halls. Pretty cool stuff. Too bad I'm not an active guild because it takes money to maintain them.

Auction House

I guess this was inevitable. Came out pretty close to release, actually.

PvP

Yup, it's Bomberman alright. (image from the wiki)

It's pretty interesting, but I don't know much about it. There are two PvP modes now, Blast Network and Lockdown. Blast Network sounds and looks a lot like playing Bomberman. Lockdown is a team-based game where you choose a class with a special skill and gear bonuses associated with it and capture control points for your team. You can get rewards you can use in the normal PvE game.

Events

There's a lot of them. There's one going on right now for the anniversary. Usually there are missions and special monsters associated with it that give you coins for accessories and such.

Other small things

  • 4* and 5* items are bound by default.
  • An NPC will randomize Unique Variants for money.
  • The crafting prices were changed so that 1-2* items are cheaper and curves way more after 3*.
  • There are more gear choice now, of course, but not that many (I guess new weapon behavior would be like a new fighting game character or a new Monster Hunter weapon in this game).
  • I think there are pets now? And they fight along with you and level up?
  • They added prize wheels that pops up after you finish a level but I think it's bugged out now.

What hasn't changed

Still a bit janky sometimes.
  • The lag can still get pretty bad, unfortunately. This is mainly the reason I don't play the game as much as I would like.
  • Core gameplay hasn't changed much. Shield-cancels and shield-bumps and such are still useful, and progression is still entirely gear-based.
  • Energy is still around, still only 100 Mist Energy per 22 hours and still 10 energy per level. I guess Crystal Energy is more valuable since high-level crafting cost way more and the lowest depths are super expensive to get into. Since there are missions now, energy should not be a hurdle to getting into a specific set of levels you want to play anymore.
  • The art and music is still pretty good.
  • Still pretty unique. I can't think of any game like it that has come out in the past 2 years.

Thanks for reading all of that! I hope this has been interesting to anyone, and I encourage you to try the game again if you didn't like it before! Maybe your opinion of it will change, who knows? If you have been playing the game recently, feel free to add in whatever other updates you think is important or elaborate on some points I glossed over.

(By the way, please give feedback on my writing! I'm actually trying to improve my English by writing on the forums, because it's not my first language. Any advice will be much appreciated!)

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I wish there are more cute games coming out.

I feel like I'm tired of most of the games that have come out recently. There are so many games featuring serious looking dudes with serious sounding stories, cool spaceships/robot future/magic, or even downright depressing shit! Even games centered around cute cartoonish animals get super dark.

Yes, please.

Well, a lot of those games are good, but I would like more sweet games to be made! I'm talking about games like Pikmin, Patapon, Kirby and Little Big Planet. Even simpler games like LocoRoco and Animal Crossing would be fine. Games that are fun and saccharine! I think these games were able to deliver cuteness without needing to compromise their gameplay and story, and there's something about cute things that I just enjoy. When Overlord took some of the ideas from Pikmin and brought it into a "dark and gritty" fantasy parody-ish setting, I felt like something was lost in the transition.

Look at Giant Bomb's top 10 games of 2012 list. the only game on it that can be called cute is Fez. Hell, look at the first page of the reviewed games list. As of right now, the only ones out of the list that I would consider cute are Theatrhythm, Adventure Time, and maybe Mario and Nintendo Land. Maybe the reason I like cute games more is that there's not as many? Maybe I would like cute games less if they start to become the norm.

I don't know if that is the case, but now might be an opportunity to make cuter games. They shouldn't be too hard to market, right? I mean, Nintendogs and Wii Sports (I guess it's somewhat cute?) did pretty well even to people who don't usually play games, didn't they? I know someone who loves Pikmin just because it is cute, and is amazing at it even though she never plays anything harder than Bejeweled.

I know that there are new Pikmin, Animal Crossing, and Media Molecule games coming out, but they are sequels so not exactly something new...

Is this just wishful thinking, or is there a place for more cute games in the current market? I sure hope it's the latter...

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