Lackluster Collector’s Editions: Sonic Mania… Just Meh

I should mention first and foremost that the purpose of this post is not to comment on the game itself but instead the retail release of Sonic Mania only. The only thing I will say about the game is that while it is fun, it is incredibly easy and lacks that little something special in it, otherwise it is a perfectly good game, in terms of Sonic games. The focus of this post is to take a look at this sorry excuse of a Collector’s Edition. 

It’s great to see some effort put into releasing this game with some physical bonuses, but why? Why did they include these extras only to skimp out and include a download code for the game rather than a physical copy??? This is my biggest complaint for this release. Typically a person that will go out and buy a special release of a game is a person that collects. They want physical items, not a code on a piece of paper. I really think they misread their audience on that point there. Yeah it would cost more to produce but at the size of this box, people would pay even upwards of 150$, well, until you see what the figure actually looks like. 

Will I’m fine with the design and look of the figure, a large Sonic on top of a model 1 Genesis, I hate the execution of it all. The plastic feels cheap and incredibly hollow. While the sound gimmick reminds me of my childhood, once you realize how basic the function is it makes you wonder why they couldn’t include any other sounds or lights. And of course considering that the plastic feels cheap and the figure is hollow you could probably guess that it is also incredibly light for something its size. 

As for the rest of the included items… WHY??? Why did they include the biggest tease of a retro style bonus item in all of existence. It seemingly looks like a Sega Genesis game cartridge but you excitement will quickly go away as you realize that it is only a case in the style of a Genesis cartridge. And to make it worse, what is it a case for you ask? A ring, a gold Sonic ring. Yeah you heard me. Inside this fake out of a bonus item is an absolutely pointless and useless gold ring. Also for what it’s worth there is a quite pointless metal card included for some unknown reason. 

Am I cheesed, definitely, but don’t get me wrong about this all. I am still very happy to own this. The nostalgia is strong in this special edition. And for me it’s getting to be just enough nostalgia to make up for the downfalls of the Sonic Mania Collector’s Edition. So unless you are a big Sonic fan, don’t waste your money, just download the game and leave it at that. 

Too Much of a Good Thing: When Collecting Becomes an Addiction

 

 

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I can admit it, I am addicted. But unlike the typical addict, my drug of choice is video games. I have become addicted to finding great games, amazing deals, and crazy stories to go along with the buzz of an amazing score. You might ask why video games, but you will then come to see that it is so much more than video games. I derive great joy from finding and consuming countless different things from video games, to comics, to action figures and more and all of this has spawned from my addiction to shopping. Stepping back and viewing my actions from a distance I can see that it was always a matter of shopping and spending more than anything else, and I suppose this might have begun long ago when i was very young and every weekend my mother would “drag” my sister and I along with her to the mall. Since those frequent mall trips when I was very young exposed me to so many things I wanted, and my mother never bought me all the things i longed for, save for special occasions, I have now become this person that wishes to do what they could not do as a child. What I have been doing for quite some time now is spend and buy all the things i could never have as a kid. I’ve been reconnecting with things first rather than memories and that has put me into this cycle of buying more and more and not truly enjoying and putting to use the items that I get. I suppose there are many factors as to why I have become this type of “have it all” collector, but what needs to be done now is to form a plan of action to counteract my current mindset. I don’t need all of something, I don’t need a complete set, I WANT these things and I need to stop allowing my wanting to supersede my logic. Am I ever going to completely stop shopping or collecting? Probably not. Should I try to be more responsible in my decision making when it comes to shopping? 100% YES! It’s not a bad thing to shop or collect something, but it gets to be bad when you let it overload you, take over and consume your being. Maybe I should take some queues from my friends and begin to look objectively at what I have, what I truly enjoy, and take steps towards downsizing and focusing the scope of my collecting habits. No more buying something just because I don’t have it. No more trying to spend every single dollar I have to feed my habits (well I’ll have to work on that in time). I need to take some time, reflect on how I’ve been acting and look at what I have really amassed, and seriously consider reducing and sell off parts of my collection.

Let me know if any of this resonates with you and your experience, no matter what your addiction is. Of course I can’t talk for anything serious, but to me this is absolutely serious and requires some acknowledgement. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sad about this situation and I definitely am not hating on collecting, but instead I’m trying to point out that the reason one collects can lose all meaning and sometimes you just have to step back and look at how you’ve been acting and how you’ve been spending.

 

Picture above originally from: geeksout.org

Work in Progress…

So… to say that I have been neglecting my website would be a massive understatement. It’s as if I killed it off, left it for dead in a ditch but somehow it clung to life waiting for my return. I’m working on a way to bring some TLC to my website for this summer and hopefully it gets the attention it deserves. I will put to use my knowledge and skill set to bring forth a new and simple blog space for everything in Geekdom, with an emphasis on collecting and simply written reviews for those that are put off by technobabble and unfamiliar terminology. Hopefully 2017 can be the year I reach out and help in the community, and this blog can function as another branch of my online presence. Let’s wait and see how this works out!

Review Time! with Dragondude2525: Super Mario Maker ***Rating 3.5/5***

So it has been a few weeks since Super Mario Maker was released for the Wii U and I feel like I have given it ample attention to give a well rounded review of the whole game. Nintendo has yet again produced a game that is good, but will only get better with time. To give a basic overview of the game for those of you that have not played yet the game consists of a level editor that lets you create your own side-scrolling Mario levels. As well as the level editor you can post your creations online and try out other people’s levels as well. There are also two game modes that consist of a series of randomly selected player created levels that are meant to be completed with either 10 lives or 100 lives depending on the game mode selected, and at any point you can choose to skip a level if it proves to be too difficult to complete.

The main reason to play the game though is the level editor which allows you to mix and match different items, materials and enemies from across the series in any possible combination. It proved to be enjoyable to power up the enemy monsters by giving them super mushrooms, wings, or placing them in crazy positions or on the backs of other enemies. The game lets you create levels using assets from Super Mario Bros 1, Super Mario Bros 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. In Super Mario Bros 1 mode you can even create a power-up mushroom that lets you transform into any of your Amiibo or a range of other unlockable characters. You can even share your creations online and get feedback in the form of comments and votes from other players. Nintendo also assured that the levels created would be winnable by making it a requirement that each creator has to complete a run through of their level before they are able to upload their content. If you come across a level that you particularly enjoyed, you can even choose to download and save it to play again at another time. Overall the style and amount of content available made my experience creating levels very enjoyable.

The downsides to this game though can be a little too much for most to accept. The biggest issue of this game comes from the fact that the player is not given all of the building materials from the start of the game but instead has to unlock more content by playing long enough to queue the “delivery” of new content and then wait a day for it to be “delivered”. It can take days to unlock the full content, but extra impatient players can go into the system settings and change the day settings to unlock the content much more quickly. Next downside can barely be blamed on Nintendo but the fact is the levels created by other players fall into two categories: easy to play or pure hell! The easy levels tend to focus more on the showmanship of the creator and less on creating a challenging course to play through, while the levels that are pure hell tend to focus on either 1 mechanic that needs to be executed in rapid succession or longwinded levels where absolutely every item is used at least once throughout the course of the level. The challenge is that you want to complete the level because you know that its creator was able to do it, but it just kills you over and over again. This can make even the most seasoned of Mario players out there seethe with anger and frustration. Also included are pre-made levels that randomly unlock over time but these levels made by Nintendo tend to be far too trivial, sticking to accepted Mario conventions with minor additions tossed into the mix. I get that this game focuses mostly on the ability of the player to become the creator, but it seems that lately Nintendo is focusing more on online functionality and group play rather than building single player experiences anymore. If only they had included a game mode that features a set of worlds created by Nintendo that felt like a natural progression of the side-scrolling series while adding the peculiarities of its level editor gameplay as well.

I personally enjoyed the game, but I could not sit for too long and play Super Mario Maker for hours on end, or even for any extended period of time. Typically I can run through an entire World of any given Mario game in a single sitting, but after playing through half of the 100 Mario game type I was far too frustrated to complete it in one sitting and found myself saving the game half way through to complete at a later date. My review is based on my personal experience with the game and should only be accepted as a suggestion that may aid you in your decision to buy this game. I rate this game 3.5/5 for the following reasons: It features a large amount of content for the player to create any type of Mario level they can imagine of, but other than that I don’t see the reason to justify the price tag of $69.99 in Canada. The majority of the content in this game is the level editor with very little actually being content produced by Nintendo for us to play. The player then has to rely on other creators out there to produce levels that are challenging but not too difficult and enjoyable but not too easy, which is a lot to ask with no real quality control other than the creator being able to complete the level prior to uploading it. The rating I give it though is only temporary and hopefully it will get better with time. My rating of 3.5/5 then is only a jumping off point or a baseline that represents the game at this moment in time. If the price drops on the game it would be a big plus and if more content is released as well then I might bump it up to a 4/5 in the future.

Review- Tech- Nintendo Wii Mini *** Rating 2.5/5***

If you watch my YouTube channel you would have seen me unboxing my latest acquisition, the Nintendo Wii Mini. I only picked it up because I was able to find it new for 85$ and I thought it was cheap enough to consider picking up, but regular price for this console is 99$. The cheap price tag also matches the cheap feel of the console as well. It is made of a cheaper plastic that is textured and not smooth like the original Wii. It features a cheaper door hinged disc tray instead of the cool slot loading disc assembly of the original. The biggest hits to this console though are what was taken away from its functionality, backwards compatibility with the GameCube and internet connectivity. According to back stories of this console’s origin, I’ve been left viewing this console as being unwanted by its producer and sent to Canada just to be sold off since they had already been manufactured. At least in the end you are still able to use regular Wii remotes and play any non online Wii game on the console.

In the end, although the build quality is cheap, it does have a nice retro feel, with an appearance reminiscent of the old Famicom consoles. It also manages to not mess that much with playing Wii games so with there being only two major flaws and a few minor flaws I give the Wii Mini a rating of 2.5/5. The reason the score wasn’t lower is because of the cheap price tag and because it is such a strange Canadian exclusive console that it’ll warrant some collectors attention in the near future.

Is There Room For A New Video Game Console?

2013 really is and will continue to be a turning point in the history of home consoles. With the Wii U taking hold as the first next gen system, and the expectant PS4 and Xbox Durango project being guaranteed for a Christmas release, is there room for another entry, or even 2?

The two most interesting options of the year seem to be the kick starter project, the Ouya, and the official Steam Box by Valve. Another notable entry is the Game Stick, but it is not your conventional console, so I’ll only briefly mention it. The Game Stick is meant to be portable and easily transferable, it features a full size controller, and an additional base station that also allows extra storage via SD card, much like the Wii.

The key point of the Ouya is its significantly lower cost in comparison to all the other systems. It will only cost $99USD for the console and one controller, with additional controllers costing $49USD. The OS of the console will be Android Jellybean and will give you access to all the great Android games on a free to try basis. More details on this free to try system will be released later on. Hopefully the use of the Android OS will lead to some interesting smartphone compatibility. But still, at $99USD its still worth buying at launch, even if its just to fiddle around with.

Now as for the Steam Box, the story is a lot more complicated. I will address the Xi3 Piston as well as the future suspected but not fully confirmed official Valve Steam Box. First comes the Xi3 Piston, which just does not look appealing for many reasons. First is the cost, $899!! Yes it is a mini PC with windows 8, but to even be able to use windows 8 as intended you’ll have to purchase a touchscreen monitor. I won’t get technical with the specs, but I will say that for the cost you just don’t get the best bang for your buck. Also, while it was never endorsed by Valve as an official Steam Box, there seems to have been a falling out between the two companies and this could lead to some future issues. But its just all speculation, much like the official Steam Box.

As Valve has its Big Picture established, and a large library of video game titles it seems like they are primed and ready for a console. It seems like it will be a great offering, but there still is no guaranteed list of specs for this device. It is a mystery, but definitely still very intriguing.

Just as games are delayed and pushed back, like the long anticipated GTA 5, without any set release dates or preliminary designs the Steam Box, Xbox Durango,and PS4 could possibly be delayed for another few months or even a few years. At least we do know that preorders for the Ouya, Game Stick, and Xi3 Piston will be available in the following few months.

Why Video Games Are So Expensive

While there are many factors towards the production costs of a video game, most new console and PC games are introduced at the price point of $59.99 CDN. While many people would rather wait for the price to drop, or to purchase it second hand, there still remains a portion of the market that supports this full MSRP value. This consumer paying full price is usually the hardcore gamer or a kid that can throw a good temper tantrum, the kind that can embarrass the sternest of parents.

Because of the immense production costs of these newer titles, rivaling and even surpassing major Hollywood movie production budgets, the set price is quite understandable. They require the higher price point because of the large debt sunk into the project.

I know that what I say most likely has been addressed thousands of times, but I still think its worth talking about. With the high volume of games being released these days, many are doom to fail, for multiple reasons, so the companies involved always have to stay competitive if they are to survive. If the initial price point could be reduced to the cost of a new blu-ray disc movie, the game in question would be made more easily accessible to a larger market of people. It is always a worry that the game will not surpass the debt it has produced, so out of fear the price is set high in hopes to at least gain back the cost from the hardcore gamers alone. More options on initial price need to be addressed.

Another point of interest is the increasing push towards downloading virtual copies of the games instead of physical copies. These downloaded copies cut down the cost put into the game significantly. They don’t require the cost of manufacturing the discs and cases, they don’t require any shipping costs, no need to cut a significant portion of sales for the sellers. While advertising does still remain an issue, virtual banner ads could be used to replace standard advertising. It just makes very little sense for the download version to cost the same as the physical version, but them this is an issue being faced by all types of media that is being made available in digital form, such as albums, movies, and books.

The question remains: why must digital versions cost nearly the same or exactly the same as physical copies? All we can do as consumers now is either hope for the best or abstain from purchasing new games until it is understood that something has to give. As for the time being, the game we all have to play is the waiting game. Just wait until the game has lost its place in the spotlight, and ends up in your local reused game store.
This way you can pick up yesterday’s gem for only a portion of the price, as exemplified with a recent purchase I made.

I was walking around the store and since I only recently got my PS3 I am still building up a collection of classic titles. I see Mass Effect 2 for only $9.99 used and I jump at the opportunity. Take it home to play later and inside I find the receipt from its original purchase, made 2 years prior, for the full price of $59.99. Now I’m not saying to wait 2 years to purchase your games, but instead I just want to say, do you really want to spend several times more on something that will just depreciate in value, only until the next cycle of nostalgia kicks in and kids that are playing games today try to pick up the same titles for $40 or more?

Timing is everything when you’re hoping for the best pricing on video games. Hopefully these issues will be addressed in approximately 10 years when the 9th generation of video game consoles will be hitting the stores.