The Big 150 and A State of the Blog Update

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First of all, to those of you who have just started to follow along here- welcome, thank you, and I hope you enjoy what you see!  Feel free to reach out through comments, e-mail (3pstartgaming@gmail) or on Twitter (@the3rdplayer) if you want to chat sometime.  If you’ve been around and/or already chat me up, thanks for that.  I’ve seriously enjoyed interacting with everyone I’ve gotten the chance to!

Recently, I was hanging out with my buddy, Alex (a.k.a ShoggothOnTheRoof) and our spouses when I took a glance at our review archive.  I enjoy looking at the list and seeing if anything sparks something to write about or play.  Then I thought ‘hey, I wonder how many games we’ve written about’.

Well, my math might be off but if I read it right, my last review brought us to 150 games that we’ve discussed- either in series overviews or in-depth reviews.  Since I started this blog a few years ago and brought it over to WordPress, I’ve been learning plenty and seeing what a fantastic community the video game blogging world can be.

Honestly, the last span of time working on this blog and witnessing what others are doing has been a trip!  I want to take a quick look back and forward, though, while I’m thinking of it.

Reviews in Retrospect

After looking through the list of games we’ve talked about, I picked a few that I’m either particularly proud of or that I think should be a fun read whether you’re new to 3PStart or just looking for a fun few pieces to pass the time:

Sweet Home – My first review I ever did for the blog and a criminally unrecognized forebearer of survival horror.  Despite being a Japan-only release, the translation brought it over to us and it became one of my favorite games- enough to prompt me into starting a gaming blog!

Zombies Ate My Neighbors – Constantly vying for my favorite game of all time with Final Fantasy VI, this review is probably the best example right now that I have of my writing when I’m head over heels for a work.

Phantasy Star IV – While I wrote about the first three fairly recently, ShoggothOnTheRoof wrote a fantastic piece on the fourth entry of the series before I dug into those.  Honestly, while he has some amazing pieces on here, I know about his passion for this game and it’s reflected in his piece.

Fire Emblem – An Overview – This series on Fire Emblem is more educational than subjective, but that’s another goal of mine: to educate on games, their histories, and their development.  If you’re at all wondering if you want to try Fire Emblem, this can hopefully help.

Where is 3PStart Heading?

First, I’m sure there’ll be more overviews and reviews.  Specifically, I’ve been working on continuing the overviews for Fire Emblem with some snippets here and there and writing about the next trilogy in the Atelier series.  There are at least three or four other games in the pipeline to write about so- I’m at no shortage of material.  It’s just a matter of writing it!

Ideally, I’ll be working to collaborate a bit more and either seek out some more contributors or maybe even contribute to some other projects, if I can.  I’ve really been digging some of the interactions I’ve been seeing and the community has been a creative lot.  I enjoy working with people and incorporating other folks’ opinions and ideas has been something I’ve been interested in from the get-go.

On a technical standpoint, I’d like to improve the site and add more ways to check out other blogs and projects going on.  I don’t get to read as much as I’d like, but once I streamline the blog a bit and create a few more directories and pages, that might be something that can easily be fixed (and I can share more of the work going on outside of 3PStart, too!)

Last, I want to help promote and celebrate positivity in the gaming community.  There are a lot of people working against the negative stereotypes that have grown regarding gamers and their attitudes.  People who enjoy gaming, analyzing the business and the games themselves, and generally enjoying their hobbies and passions with others- there are a lot of people who are doing exactly what this section of the pop culture community needs.  They are encouraging healthy discourse, constructive debate, and generally working toward making things less toxic.  I think these efforts are worth mentioning and I want to figure out ways to illuminate them.

So I guess in short- I’m glad I’m still working on this project, and I hope to get more out there so that my little corner of the gaming world can be a safe place for people to discuss games and learn a little something or reminisce.  I’m pretty happy with the direction I’m going in, and I’m glad to have folks along for the ride, as well.

Have a great week everyone!

– Matt (a.k.a. The3rdPlayer)

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The Family That Games Together

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Not everyone can say that they have fond memories of gaming with their parents.  Based on the few replies on Twitter from a recent expression about my mother’s Animal Crossing achievements- I called to check up on the house and part of her response was that she just reached 50 million Bells in her bank account on the game- being able to game with your parents is a rare occurrence.

I hadn’t really thought about it, but I suppose it makes sense.  Most households where gaming was within the family seems to be either with siblings or as a hobby that their parents didn’t associate with.  I definitely gamed with friends, but until I was old enough to actually go to their houses by my own means, my parents were usually up for a game of some kind.

It’s probably pretty safe to say that in traditional stereotypes of the only child: I was spoiled.

My fondest memories of gaming with my mother go back to running through all of the Donkey Kong Country series together.  When I play them now, I realize just how good at gaming she had to have been because those games are not a walk in the park by any means.  The second game, Diddy’s Kong Quest, was probably the one that got the most play since she absolutely adored Diddy Kong, and I was a big Dixie Kong fan.  Thinking about that game transports me back to my room as a kid with vivid memories of sitting on the floor and staring up at the TV as we pushed through those games level by level.

There were a few other games that she really enjoyed (or humored me with as I enjoyed): she helped me through parts of Secret of Mana when she had some free time, enjoyed exploring Tomb Raider and its sequels once the Playstation era started, and Super Mario 64 was a family favorite.  She and my dad even went into the trenches with me with X-Men: The Arcade Game and The Simpsons cabinet (as I wrote about briefly in my arcade gaming history).  I have a close family, despite some of the usual differences that come up, and I think a lot of that was due to being able to share in hobbies and interests, gaming being a large part of them.

Gaming with my dad was a different experience, but it was still a bonding experience when we got the time to do it.  The sharpest memory I go back to with him was when we got the Nintendo 64, and the first game we played wasn’t Super Mario 64 like most kids.  It was Wave Race 64.  He commented on how awesome the intro was, realistic water effects and all, and we sank a ton of time into jetskiing around courses together and against each other.  Earlier in out gaming adventures, we spent a lot of time with NHL 95 on the Sega Genesis.  I don’t play a lot of sports games now, but I still have the urge to go back and play some of those because I remember how much fun I had with this when I was younger.  He was a big fan of racing games in general, so we had them in a bunch of different forms: Super Mario KartRoad Rash, and SSX Tricky making prominent waves in our household.

Lately, we don’t play a ton of games together and when we do, it tends to be remotely.  My husband and I played through portions of Fantasy Life on the 3DS with my mother, and every so often, we would visit her town in Animal Crossing.  My dad briefly got into the Wii craze when it first came out, but recently, he gave their system to me as a backup since they don’t play as often anymore.  Due to my parents not really being able to get out as often as they used to, my husband and I are always looking for games for my mom to check out, mostly in the vein of Animal Crossing and the old Legend of Zelda games.  My dad has pretty much played Candy Crush for months and that’s about all of the gaming he does now, but it works with his job to play in quick spurts so while I may feel like that particular game is- well, what it is- it makes him happy so I guess I can’t argue with that.

There are still plenty of memories to be had and written about, and I will probably jot them down as the mood strikes me.  Gaming really has the ability to bring people together, and while plenty of folks have made some of their best friends through gaming, I also managed to have it strengthen the bonds between my family members and create some pretty amazing recollections to come back to.

So how about you, folks?  Do you have any memories of gaming with your parents growing up?  If not, maybe you had some other family members who shared the same gaming bug that bit you just as hard?  Let me know and feel free to chat about it in the comments!

Hope you all have a great weekend!

– Matt (a.k.a. The3rdPlayer)

Twitter Topic – Get Down With The Sequelitis

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In a recent post over in The Well-Red Mage’s neck of the woods, he brought up a topic I’ve had conversation with some folks about over the course of my gaming career that I realize I haven’t posted at length about:

“What video game series got infected with Sequelitis?”

As a fan of many- many- horror movie series, the concept of sequelitis is not a new one to me.  Once a series hits a certain point, they start to shows symptoms:

Maybe a character comes back completely changed, shrugging off everything you knew about them.  Maybe your favorite action movie decided to appeal to a new demographic and has a forced romantic subplot.  What if the locale changes from a quiet blood-soaked summer camp to a space station?

…okay, that series was a little sick by then anyway, but you get my meaning, I hope.

Why don’t you grab a seat while I diagnose a few gaming series that may have fallen to illness for a time- but bear in mind, you’re always welcome to a second opinion elsewhere!

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5 Moments I Fondly Recall in Games (That Others Might Not Necessarily)

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Off the top of my head, I can list a vast quantity of high profile gaming moments that everyone seems to have been affected by in their formative gaming years- Final Fantasy VI’s opera scene, the final battle with Shang Tsung in Mortal Kombat, any occurrence beginning with ‘the death of’; there are so many definitive events that people remember because of their magnitude within their games’ worlds or how abruptly they sideswiped the player.  This doesn’t change their impact. Heck, I have one of those moments tattooed on my leg it had such relevance to me.

What people don’t always actively take into account is that there are so many smaller beats that meant a lot to gamers for a wide variety of reasons.  Video games are established to illicit some kind of emotion or reaction from those participating in what they have to offer. Even through the memories of Final Fantasy VII and Chrono Trigger ripping at my heartstrings, I started to reflect on moments that stood out to me that may not stand out to the community at large and why they still remained so prominent in my retrospective eye.

So feel free to check out some of my personal remembrances of times past!  They may not be industry shattering, but they are definitely a glimpse into my gamer inner workings.
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Let’s Think Positive! – A Retrospective on My Time with Gaming

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Much like many people who would call themselves ‘gamers’ that I know, I have been bewildered by the assertion that video games consistently have a negative effect on people.  I’ve surrounded myself with people who list video games among their primary hobbies since grade school.  Sure, I faked sick a few times to play Final Fantasy VI or lost a day to (insert name of game here, as they’re plentiful), but I’ve primarily seen and witnessed the positive side to playing video games for as long as I can remember.

Please understand that I’m not blind.  I know that you can’t turn and take a step in the gaming community without at least seeing a pocket of toxicity within spitting distance.  That’s not foreign in any community, though, and that can extend outside of media related pastimes.  The truth of the matter is that volatility can be inherent anywhere that passion exists.  If the masses can access a piece of work, a concept, or even a political ideal, a multitude of emotions can spring forth, be they inspiration, satisfaction, or even vehemence.

I’d rather focus, for a short time, on the positive.  The positive effects that video games have had on myself and others I’ve interacted with throughout my life.  It’s definitely easy to say that without video games- and plenty of other ingredients, but bear with me since this is, after all, a gaming blog- my life would probably have gone into a much different direction with much different people and results, many negative or unfulfilling.

I invite you to take a quick digital stroll with me through some memories to reflect on some positive effects video games have had on me (yes, even some violent ones) and hopefully, feel free to share your own in some way!

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