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First Garage Sale Hunt of 2019

It’s been over a year since I went game hunting at garage sales and a few people in the area had reported resounding success in game collecting groups I’m in, so I had decided to finally get back to garage sale hunting.

There were no listings on Craigslist – other than one an hour and a half drive away that was ultimately cancelled – so I just headed to a cluster of them where a couple of neighborhoods were having HOA-wide garage sales.

Much to my disappointment, I found nothing but a single $2 copy of a Just Dance game for XBox 360.

It was nearing 10 o’clock when I stopped by a Half Price Books I often frequent, but only picked up Dead or Alive Ultimate on XBox. As it started to rain, I decided to head home, but would stop by a game store in the area.

Retro Madness is a cool store that buys & sells both video games and toys and is settled in Retro Plaza in Bedford, Texas right between The Quarter Lounge – an arcade that charges a modest entry fee to subsidize keeping their arcades at a quarter per play – and The Vintage Freak – a store that sells mostly vinyl records but also clothes, furniture, and oddities. It was still an hour before Retro Madness would open, so I decided to check out a few other places in the area.

First stop was a Cash America Pawn Shop, but they had almost no games whatsoever. A shame, as I’ve had some luck with good prices and surprise finds in there before. Next, I went to Thrifty Pirates, which has a booth owned by Miniboss Games & Collectibles. I spotted a copy of Ninja Warriors for SNES, which I’ve been looking for and really want to get my hands on for $90. A decent price, but the cartridge was discolored on the back shell and I let myself pass on an expensive purchase. It’s not unimaginable to find a copy for equal price in excellent condition at a convention.

I stopped by two antique malls in the area, one of which has a booth with games, but even they were getting scarce on inventory. Finally Retro Madness was open, so I headed back there.

At first, I was debating a few Genesis and Sega CD games – Dungeonkeep II, Chakan, and Vectorman 2 as well as a tempting Captain America & The Avengers (but no manual had me pass), but then I looked in their glass case and found some great titles. Titles I was looking for. The eye catcher was Ristar, which proved to be complete in box (only missing the fold out coloring poster), though the box was fairly rough. Quackshot caught my eye, but I couldn’t remember if I already owned that one.

Then I noticed Lufia & The Fortress of Doom complete in box. The box had only a small nick in the front and otherwise was in great shape. The map was in excellent condition and the manual was near pristine. I already had the game, but since I have Lufia II complete, I’ve wanted to have Lufia to match it. It was a smooth $100, which is a little over online prices, but reasonable for the condition.

Overall, I was looking at $265 or so with Quackshot and they said they’d do it all for $240. Removing Quackshot, as I was fairly certain I had it, came down to an even $200 offer. Now, Ristar and Lufia were worth that, so I decided it was an excellent deal to get Vectorman 2 and Chakan essentially for free. However, I didn’t want to spend that kind of money just now.

They put everything on hold and I headed home to pile up some things I was willing to trade in. I still had a lot of games I had accumulated along with a few things from the mega haul of 2017 I hadn’t been able to get rid of, so I piled it all together and took it in. All in all, they offered me $140 for everything, bringing my bill down to $60. I added in a fan cart of Secret of Mana 2 with a fan-made cart, box, manual, and map for another $30 and gladly paid up.

At this point, I decided to make one more stop to a place called Found It Electronics & Video Games in Watauga, Tx. This place has something of a love/hate reputation with game collectors in the area. When they first started, they frequently spammed the heck out of Craigslist, making it hard to see anything else listed. Over time, they’ve shifted their business to focus more on games and they claim to offer excellent trade in credit. They’ve definitely been doing something right as their inventory is quite often amazing with titles you rarely see in a game store. They always run a Buy 3, Get 1 free and a friend and I had recently been in to use that, but they were closing so I had to go back and double check a few titles.

Most of their prices are a little higher than eBay averages, anywhere from $1 over to $5 with a few higher value titles going up to $20 over. I mostly went back for one game – Final Fight 2.

The huge haul of 2017 had netted me a Final Fight 2 box and manual, so this game priced right at $50 gave me a $100+ complete in box value.

Overall, not a bad day of game hunting, even if they weren’t mind blowing finds of those mythical “high value for nothing” garage sale stories. However, with just 2 months ahead until Retropalooza Houston, I need to focus on selling off things I’ve accumulated around the house and store up some cash for that convention. It will be my first year attending and I’ve been told there are usually a lot of vendors willing to work great deals down there. Hopefully it proves true!

4-6-19 Finds

 

The Life of Annie – A Very, Very Good Dog

On February 13th, 2019 I had to say goodbye to my dog, Annie. This will be an extremely long post, so if you aren’t interested in the life of a beautiful, sweet, white labrador/husky mix, feel free to skip this post. For those who are, I want to tell you the story of the most perfect dog I’ve ever known.

Happy Annie

The Puppy Years
Annie was born, as near as we we’re able to determine, sometime in 2008 in the small town of Ennis, Texas. I don’t know the details of her upbringing as a puppy or what was done to make her into the dog she grew up to be, but I certainly wish I did. It would be the definitive guide of how to raise a puppy to be a good dog.

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This is either her mother or her grandmother as a puppy, so she probably looked somewhat similar to this.

What I do know is that her owner had at least three dogs; Annie, her mother, and one other. For whatever reason, once Annie was weaned and had grown a bit, her own mother and the other dog began to pick on her. I don’t know specifics of what this means, but it’s what I was told. It was because of this that her second owner offered to take the puppy and give her a new home where she wouldn’t be bullied.

All Alone In A Back Yard
Sadly, sometime in 2011 if not 2010, this owner was placed in a retirement home due to Alzheimer’s. Her daughter wanted to take care of Annie, but the family’s own circumstances didn’t allow them to take the precious dog into their home. Instead, she came by the house on her lunch break to make sure Annie had water and to feed her. She asked my aunt if she could check on her in the evening and give her some dinner. Annie was all alone in that back yard, her igloo style dog house cozy inside a storage building, but still alone.

Now, my aunt has always been leery and a little afraid of dogs. Annie, at 50 lbs, was a little small for a labrador, but large enough for my aunt to be concerned. Still, she agreed to help and would go over in the evening, telling Annie to be a good girl, to stay calm, and my aunt would quickly step into the back yard, put food in her bowl, and get back out of the fence gate as quickly as possible. All the while, Annie simply sat and watched and surely wondered why this woman wouldn’t give her a scratch or a pet.

I learned of her during Thanksgiving 2011 where my aunt told me that Annie needed a home and I should take her. She said the family held an estate sale to clear out the house in preparation to sell the house itself and a sign was put on the back fence: “Free Dog” and yet…nobody took her. I was living in a 2 bedroom apartment at the time with my cat, Toby. I certainly couldn’t take a dog home, but I was planning on buying a house the following year and told my aunt if she still didn’t have a home by then, I’d take her.

By this point, my aunt had grown to love Annie. She had stopped quickly putting food in her bowl and had started spending time with her at dinner, petting her and talking to her. She started taking her for walks in the evenings, giving my aunt a routine to get in some exercise each evening and Annie absolutely loved those walks.

My aunt had told me one time her real fear had played out when Annie’s gate was left open and she had gotten out of her back yard. She chased one of my aunt’s cats and even caught it. Once she had caught the cat…. that was all there was to it. The game was over. Annie didn’t pin down the cat, she didn’t bite the cat, she wasn’t rough with it. She just wanted to play chase a little bit.

Another time she got out of her back yard was when a lawn care team had left the gate open to mow and then closed it when they were done without realizing Annie was out of the yard. My aunt found her laying in her yard across the street and when she came outside, Annie walked up to her then turned around to head straight for her fence to be let back in to her own back yard.

Finally someone offered to take Annie and give her a home. She was taken out to a house a little out in the country, but when my aunt went to check on her and see how she was doing, she found Annie was covered in ticks. She immediately told the people who took her that wasn’t going to be acceptable and took Annie to the vet to be dipped and back to the back yard across the street until a better home could be found. I suspect with her covered in ticks, my Aunt knew I would be a better home for her once I bought my house.

My Home Is Her Home
In April 2012, on a Wednesday, I finally closed on my house. By Friday, I was driving to pick up Annie and bring her to her new home. My aunt had recently had surgery, but when I arrived at her house, she was outside with Annie on her leash giving her a walk along the street. I remember opening the door to my car and Annie jumped right in as if everything was perfectly normal. After a year, if not longer, of being alone with nobody to love and truly care for her, it was as if she knew she was getting a new home.

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Annie seemed happy with her new home

I brought Annie to my house and let her inside. She had free reign to explore and sniff around the house to her heart’s content – my first guest and first pet to come into the house while Toby, the cat I had owned for years, remained at the apartment waiting to move. At first, she slept outside in her new back yard.

I established a routine where I would get up in the morning and lock Toby in the bedroom while Annie came inside. I’d play with her a little, pet her, and then get a shower and ready for work. She’d go back outside and Toby would be let loose in the house for the day. After work, I’d get home and put Toby in the bedroom again and let her out to explore for a while until she was put out for the night and Toby was given free roam of the house again. This way the two could start to pick up each other’s scents in the house and start to get accustomed to each other.

The First Scare
Within one week, I got home and brought Annie in, then put her outside again. I went out to check on her about 20 minutes later and found she had dug out of the back yard and was missing. In a panic, scared I had lost this dog I had taken in to my home within a week, I went looking for her. She wasn’t far and came happily running when she heard me call her. I called my dad and talked to him about it and he said to show her the hole and give her a smack on the rear with a paper to show her that was not okay. I did so, smacking her on the rump at the base of her tail, not even hard but a swat. She fell to the ground on her belly and looked at me as if she was scared I’d hit her again.

My heart shattered. I remember ultimately crying because of how she looked at me.  This dog had been taken from what she knew as her home and brought to this strange neighborhood and me, essentially a strange new human, had just thumped her on the butt when all she wanted was to explore her new surroundings. I felt like a horrible person.

After a little bit had passed, so as not to confuse her with polar opposite reactions, I spent the next half hour on the floor petting her and comforting her and I knew right then and there I would never raise my hand to that dog for any reason for the rest of her life. It was sort of the moment that everything fell into the place that I would do everything in my power to protect and care for her from then on, no matter the circumstances.

Cheesy as it may be, after seeing this video, this kind of became “her song” in my heart. Every time I hear it, I think of her.

She was too gentle hearted and sweet to discipline and I’d have to find other ways to tell her what was and wasn’t acceptable behavior. Little did I know how easy that would ultimately prove to be.

I dug out the hole where she escaped and placed bricks to form a stepping barrier under the gate. Like all good dogs, she had forgotten the whole thing within an hour.

The First Challenge
Within the first month of buying the house, and bringing Annie home, her first visit to what would become her regular vet determined she was positive for heartworms. I hadn’t realized this, but it was previously known she had them. Her previous owner just couldn’t afford the treatment. I don’t know how long she had them, or how much damage the parasites had done to her heart, but I wasn’t going to leave them untreated. Like I just said, I would do anything in my power to care for this dog. Ultimately, the full treatment would take 6 months and cost around $1,000.

We also discovered this 4 year old dog who had been in the back yard with a few times of getting out and wandering a bit was not spayed…. so we had to get that done too. Fortunately, my vet did it for a minimal price since she had to be under for other tests to prep for the heartworm treatment.

Within the same month, I got up one morning and opened the door to let Annie in after a storm the night before. Annie was used to being an outside dog, so I thought with her dog house in the back patio corner, she’d be fine, and she was. She came in, same as always, and we went through our routine. Only when I went to put her outside again for the day did I notice we were missing about 1/4 of the back fence. The storm had blown it over. And Annie had not gone out of the back yard despite that. Another $1,500 in all for the fence replacement.

So we changed our arrangement again. I put her kennel in an empty bedroom and put her in there at night and while at work when Toby had free reign of the house. Eventually, I moved the kennel to the living room so they weren’t just smelling each other, but could see each other as he roamed the house, and eventually started letting them both out together under supervision.

Obedience Training
Annie was enrolled in obedience classes at PetSmart and we started going on Sunday mornings. She proved to have a bit of a problem with one other dog in the class, as she’d often bark at him until they had to block off her view of him until they’d calm down. Once one dog in a class barks, they all start barking! She became great friends with one of the younger dogs in the class. She also wanted to play with a puppy that was in the store once.

The challenge we had in teaching Annie basic commands like sit, stay, lay down, and such was her lack of food motivation. Treats did nothing to interest her, even when offered freely before training began. What proved to be her motivation was attention; petting and love did more to reward her than treats that we had at the time. However, later at her vet we would discover freeze dried liver treats that were extremely motivational!

She learned very quickly and I suspected she may have been trained before. She knew sit very well, though lay down was met with a little more hesitation before she’d decide if she was going to do so. Stay was hard for her as she wanted to follow me wherever I went. We never did master heel, as I never put much effort into that. She was so good on a leash that, while she preferred to stay ahead, she never pulled on the leash or resisted my gentle tug to keep moving.

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She just wanted to sniff all the things, not tug on the leash.

PetSmart trains with positive reinforcement, which I took to since, as I mentioned, I refused to ever raise a hand to discipline her. Over the next years, however, I never found need to reprimand her beyond a sound we had established in place of “no” or simply asking “Annie, what’re you doing? Stop” to distract her.

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Graduated with flying colors!


An Amazingly Good Girl
When I realized I had left chicken bones in the trash can, I worried I’d come home to trash strewn through the house and potentially worse problems if she had eaten them. She never touched the trash. She only knocked it over once or twice in her life and never pulled trash out of the bin.

She never chewed anything other than her bone. Occasionally she’d pick up other things, like a sock or house shoe, maybe a plush toy and toss it or carry it to the back door. Sometimes she might paw at things, but she never chewed or destroyed anything.

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First toy in her new home

She never went to the bathroom inside the house out of spite or rebellion. The only time she did so was when I didn’t get home in time and forced her to go too long without a bathroom break or when she had stomach problems. Even with these few occurrences, she always went in the same place on the linoleum in the kitchen, where it was easy to clean up. I never reprimanded her for these incidents.

She never so much as growled at Toby, or anyone else for that matter. She would bark at other dogs when we walked, but she was never really aggressive towards anyone or anything. She even ignored dogs barking in back yards during our walks. Out of sight, out of mind.

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Toby wasn’t sure about this new addition to his life, though.

Of all the concerns that come with dogs, she never brought any with her. I had thought I’d have to determine the right way to teach her what was and wasn’t acceptable behavior. Annie never once showed any unacceptable behavior needing correction.

The Long Road of Heartworms
Heartworm treatment is hard on dogs. In the simplest terms, you inject them with strychnine to kill the parasites. After that, they have to stay calm for 6 months to the point that they’re advised to be confined to a kennel, taken to the bathroom on a leash, and put back in the kennel. If the dog gets too excited, the dead worms can break off in clumps and be pumped through their system, clogging an artery somewhere. Instead, if they’re kept calm the dead worms will be dissolved and flushed out by the immune system.

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With spaying ahead of it came the cone of shame

The fence had been repaired, but now Annie had to stay in her kennel by doctor’s orders. She had already started clawing at the door more often, not wanting to be locked up, so we once again rearranged our home. Her kennel moved back to the spare bedroom and I pulled the mattress off the bed and put it on the floor next to her so she had me close to her to keep her calm. She would still claw at the gate, but I managed to calm her down to go to sleep in the kennel with me by her side.

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She liked my bed more than the kennel (taken on a crappy phone camera in low lighting)

However…..

I came home from work one day to find my beautiful puppy girl greeting me at the door, her tail wagging, ears perked and just so happy to see me. I remember reacting with a big, happy smile of my own, saying “Hello, Annie! Wait, how did you…” then I had a brief second of panic. Toby and Annie had been together in the house under supervision, but I had never left them alone together yet. I still wasn’t sure about this larger dog and my cat loose together. I looked up and saw Toby casually walking around the corner as if nothing was out of order whatsoever! The two had apparently gotten along just fine.

How had Annie managed to get out of the kennel? Well, this is how:

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Bed in disarray, cone of shame left behind, and the door off its hinges!

After this, I decided to take a different approach to her “confinement” by leashing her to the leg of the couch. She could hop on it to nap while I was gone and had a little bit of slack to move around but couldn’t chase Toby or get worked up during the day. At night, I unleashed her and let her free, but kept an eye on her, then leashed her for the night. When we went into the vet for one of her follow up visits, they gave me a side eye for not keeping her in the kennel, but after showing them the photo above, they agreed my solution was probably best for her.

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Ah, yes, much better than a kennel.

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Much better indeed.

Annie came through heartworm treatment with a clean bill of health and never really had any struggles with it. She didn’t like being confined and restricted so much, but she managed to adapt to becoming an indoor dog. Yes, in fact, after her six months of being medically required to stay inside, she came to the conclusion that it was a much better deal than living outside with only occasional visits in. For the rest of her life, she primarily lived inside with me, though she did love going out and laying in the sun…or in the cold. She actually loved curling up in a ball and sleeping in the cold and would even ignore me when I tried to call her in!

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8 months later, not everyone was thrilled by her staying inside.

One of the Pack

My parents had gotten two dogs, brothers from a litter, who were about the same size as Annie. I took her down to let them all meet and my parents brought them outside. Their dogs, Bo and Willie, seemed curious but hesitant about Annie and she actually wound up jumping up and “mounting” Willie’s head! If neither of them would establish who the top dog was, she would!

Other than that, the three quickly fell in step with one another and Annie was accepted as part of the pack in my parents’ house. The two liked to play ball more than anything, which was never really Annie’s interest. Nonetheless, Willie, the black & white border collie, once trotted off to another room and brought back a third ball for her so she could be included in the game. Every once in a while, she would do her best to play, but she chased the ball on the ground and liked to chew and shake them more than just catch and return for another throw. When they went outside to play a bit, she was content to sniff around the perimeter of the yard while the two played.

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She tried to play their game, though.

Still, they got along great and I was able to leave her with them when I had to go out of town. She even adapted to my dad’s 4am morning schedule and would switch from mine to theirs depending on where we were. When I would house & dog sit for my parents, Annie would come wake me up at 4am to let me know it was time to take Bo & Willie outside. When we were home, she slept until my usual time to get up.

They even taught her about having scraps at the dishwasher, a lesson she brought home with her with much enthusiasm…

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At least they shared with each other and didn’t fight for them.

There was only one notable disagreement and that came at Christmas time. My parents had bought bones for all three dogs and they got their gifts on Christmas morning. Now, Willie doesn’t care about bones as much as his brother Bo does. He’ll often let Bo chew them down until they’re soft, then steal it and chew on them at that point. Until then, Bo will take his bone as well as Willie’s and hoard them both while chewing on one.

Bo decided he needed all three bones to himself and tried to get Annie’s from her. For the first time, it seemed, he was met with a growl because she was not letting him have her bone. Bo went over to my parents’ couch and sulked with his two bones, but wouldn’t chew them. He just kept looking at my mom and then to Annie as if she should be in trouble for not letting him take her bone!

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She enjoyed visiting my parents & their dogs and she loved Christmas!

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She also got to experience snow that year.

Full of Life
Annie was a 50 lb dog with 100 lbs of life in her and she put full effort into everything she did. Of course, she was a dog so she didn’t do too much, but when she sat on command, she would plop her rear down with drive behind it. When she laid down, it often sounded like she had collapsed as she would find her spot and kind of lean over to just flop onto her side.

She had so much energy she would sometimes flop down and roll on her back, legs splayed open for a moment, then she’d KICK! her hind legs straight up in the air about four or five times and in a quick, smooth motion she’d roll over and be on her feet again. This could be at any time, even not long after a long walk, but was most often when she’d go outside and find a nice spot in the grass. She’d kick her four or five kicks and then flop over and just lay there, sunbathing for a while. This “exercise” as I liked to call it is one thing I regret not getting on film and she stopped doing it as often as she grew older.

Annie loved her new life of living inside with a warm bed, a second warm bed, a THIRD warm bed (MINE)….and two warm couches, but she truly loved to be outside as well. She loved to lay in the sun on warm spring days and she loved to curl up and sleep in the cold in the fall and winter. Walks were her favorite thing in the world, whether at a park or just around the neighborhood.

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You wanna go for a walk?

She had a lot of personality as a Jedi Dog, a Too Cool Dog, and….whatever that last one is.

But boy did she look different in her winter coat vs her summer cut. I actually had a neighbor think she was a different dog after her hair cut one year!

 

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Back to the topic of beds, Annie came to love mine and was again an atypical dog from what I’ve been told of other dogs’ habits. Of course, like all dogs, she liked my bed because it was soft and it smelled like me. However, she wouldn’t sleep in it at night. If I were gone or even home on a weekend, there was a chance she’d sleep in my bed….right in the center of it. But at night when I went to bed, I would get in, pet her head next to the bed for a bit, and tell her “Okay, bed time, goodnight” and she’d take that as a signal to head off for her night time snack.

I always left her bowl with food in it and she never over ate. She’d eat and leave some for later, but there was always a bed time snack to be heard in the dining room while I was going to sleep. In the morning, I’d wake up with her next to the bed or at the foot in the bedroom, but not in it.

The only time she woke me up getting in the bed was during particularly strong thunder storms that were directly above us. Those frightened her enough to get in bed and glue herself next to me until they passed. Once they had, she’d leave and go back to the floor or her bed in the other room.

In the last two years of her life, this did change and she started sleeping in the bed with me. I had the bed against a wall and I slept away from the wall, but would find myself waking up next to the wall with her between me and the alarm clock and no clue when she had gotten in nor how she got me to move. I eventually moved the bed back to an earlier position where both sides were accessible and the foot of the bed pointed to the door where she could easily get in. I always kept a sleeping bag on top of the bed for her so the sheets wouldn’t get too dirty or worn.

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“I like to be the center of attention…or center of the bed.”

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Toby hasn’t actually kicked her out, but it looks like it!

She also didn’t get on the couch too often until she was older, despite not being told she couldn’t. I honestly didn’t mind her being on the couch, especially if she’d lay next to me to get her head scratched, but she typically spent most of her time on the floor or on her own bed. Later I would get her a new orthopedic bed as we were seeing some signs of arthritis in her hips. She didn’t care for it much, but once I put it underneath her old bed it was just right.

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Not that she never got on the couch….

In fact, when I was buying a new couch for the front room of my house, I was deciding between a light or darker one. Since Toby is a cat, he’s obviously likely to get on furniture, especially the front room to look out the window. Since Annie didn’t get on the couch too often, I decided to go with a darker once since I didn’t have to worry about her fur on it as much as I would Toby’s dark fur on a lighter couch. Well….

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She adopted it within days.

Her favorite toy was a stuffed duck that would quack if you hit it right. She went through a few of these ducks, the original having actually been my cat’s toy as a kitten. I had gotten it when it was the same size as him so he could hold it and kick it. If I put it on top of his cat tree, he’d bolt across the room and jump up to throw it off. With the toy having lost some interest for him, Annie was happy to take it up. It was the one toy she regularly liked to play fetch and tug of war with.

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You wanna play?

Life with a Cat
Toby just didn’t have the personality for becoming best buds with a dog and I knew that when I got her. I just hoped they’d get along and that first kennel break with no problems between the two assured me they’d make it work. Toby always believed he was the dominant animal of the house, often forgetting Annie was literally five times his size.

She would lay in the doorway to my computer room, blocking his exit (despite there being plenty of room to just walk around her). When she was laying there napping, he would get close and do that full body head bob until he had judged his distance and would do a large arching leap over her to get past. One time she was laying upright (like the couch photo three above this paragraph) above when he wanted to leave. He charged her, that wide hind legged stance cats get, and took a full force swipe at her face!

Annie only moved an inch, her head pulled back to dodge the strike and came forward back to where it was as calmly as could be. Toby completely whiffed his strike and just stood there as though he had absolutely no clue what to do. After a moment, he took a leap over her and continued. Annie just looked back to watch him go.

05-06-15 01 I think she wanted him to like her

I think she wanted him to like her. I think, in his own way, he did.

Despite living together for almost 7 years, they never became close like some cats and dogs you’ll see who bond. He would sit on my lap on the couch and when she came up, he’d look at her like she was a threat and eventually he’d get up and move as if it was too risky being that close to her.

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Closest they ever got, but when he woke up, he wasn’t pleased with the situation and had to move.

She would sometimes be walking through the house and Toby would appear out of nowhere to charge and swipe at her back legs or tail. It would startle her, but nothing more and he never followed up with any further “attacks.” He did jump from a corner at her once and startled her enough to give a little yip of surprise.

She wasn’t a total push over, though. There were times she would see him walking and would give a sudden chase across the room after him. Sometimes she would corner him in the kitchen and I’d hear the hiss of displeasure. When I saw her do it a few times, he would rear up on hind legs, ready to bat with his paws, and she would walk away. Once again, the game was over and she had “caught” him, so she was happy with that.

It’s probably worth noting, too, that Toby does have his claws. He never scratched her, though. He acts tough, but he never did anything to hurt her. I just wish he would have realized she never did, and never would do, anything to hurt him. I truly believe she would have welcomed him to cuddle up next to, or on, her.

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She tried to get him to play.

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The last picture I have of them together.

Health Scares
In late 2017, my mom was cleaning some things out at their house and brought a box of stuff for me to go through. One thing we found was a Superman cape she had sewn for me for a Halloween costume when I was very little. On a whim, I put it on Annie, who didn’t seem to mind at all.

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A couple of months later, it would turn out she wasn’t as impervious as a Superdog would be. I got up one morning to go to work and Annie didn’t get up to follow me from the bedroom. I came back in and she just looked at me like something was wrong. She tried to stand up, but fell down again. Her head tilted a bit and she just looked at me again. Once more she tried to stand and stumbled until she fell over.

Looking back, I’m fairly proud of myself for staying as calm as I did. I got dressed, put her in the car, and took her to the vet. I got there just as they opened, but just the technicians were in, the doctors wouldn’t arrive for another hour. By this point, her eyes were starting to roll and she was drooling uncontrollably. They suggested she go to an emergency vet.

I got her back in the car and headed to the recommended vet and Annie threw up in the back seat on the way there, which started to scare me. Once we got her in, I asked if she was having a stroke and the ER technician told me a vet would give a diagnosis, but she didn’t think it was. It was likely something less troublesome and she would be okay if so. The vet confirmed it was not a stroke, but ideopathic vestibular disease, which affects the ear and essentially causes vertigo.

They put Annie on an IV for fluids and kept her to observe for a few days, saying I could come back that night to see her. When I did, they said she was doing very well and expected I could actually take her the following day after work. I took her home and had to help her walk a little bit by looping a towel under her belly in case she stumbled.

She had a second episode a couple days later and I took her to her regular vet so they could watch her for the day since I couldn’t take off work. They didn’t have kennels available, so they put her in an exam room for the day to watch and take care of her. They called me at noon and let me know she was standing up and walking on her own without assistance.

Now, if you read about vestibular disease, a lot of information online will describe that it comes suddenly and clears up on its own, but the effects – a tilted head, wobbly balance in particular – can last for a few weeks. Annie recovered in 8 hours the first time and 4 hours the second with no lingering effects at all. There was a third episode that lasted about 45 minutes before she was walking normally.

About eight months later, she had a urinary tract infection that we had trouble shaking. During the course of diagnoses and tests, we did an ultrasound to see if we saw signs of kidney infection and first signs of Cushing’s Disease. Everything looked good except she had a small mass on her spleen we would need to check again later on.

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The vet & techs loved her and though she liked them, she was always eager to go home.

On Christmas day of 2018, Annie struggled to stand up while we were at my parents house. She managed to get up, but when she tried to walk, her legs almost gave out. I took her home and she seemed to have recovered, but a couple days after I took her into the vet to check on her. He didn’t find anything wrong and expected with her age and her arthritis, she likely had some inflammation along her spine and if she tweaked her back (her legs kept sliding wider on my parents new kitchen floor), it would have caused a problem. We got her on medication and it seemed to help.

The following week, she had another vestibular episode, 15 months after the previous. Just like before, a weaker one followed 2 days after it, but no third one. Her vet was concerned we may need to consider seeing a neurologist, but we weren’t at that point yet.

Things got back to normal and Annie settled back into normal daily routines. I got a video of her dreaming on the couch with cute little whimper barks, a video playing with her duck, one just rubbing her ears as she rested against my leg, and then one I had been planning to get for a long time:

That’s actually rather mild excitement for getting canned food on top of her normal food, but I’m glad I at least got one video of it!

Little did I know everything would change just 2 days later….

On February 12, Annie was acting hesitant to jump on the couch by herself. I tried to help her up and she gave a yelp, but she didn’t like being picked up – even just her hind legs to put them on the couch – so I didn’t think much of it.

She had dinner and went outside before bed. I heard a weird sound and went to see what she was doing and she was inside her old igloo dog house, just standing in it and came out to come inside when I looked outside. However, I noticed her gait was a bit off. Once she was inside, she stumbled and wobbled again. I looked at her eyes and she wasn’t having the typical movement I saw with her vertigo episodes, so I thought she might have tweaked her back again.

I decided to give her a night’s rest and we’d go to the vet in the morning if she was still having trouble. I remember her coming next to the bed and eventually hopping up and laying next to me. I petted her a while and went to sleep. She woke me up getting up and out of the bed and I heard a clang in the living room. Her bed would sometimes hit the fireplace tools when she was in it, which is what I heard.

Her Final Day
The next morning, however, I heard her cry out. Not loud, but a whining whimper. I got up and went to check on her and found her laying half on her bed and half on the floor. She just looked at me. She didn’t even raise her head and I knew something was very wrong.

She managed to get up and over into the living room floor. I sat with her while we waited for the vet to open and her doctors to be there. I remember having this dreadful feeling that this wasn’t like her previous problems and this was different and serious. I remember petting her head and telling her “Annie, you’ve been a good dog. If you’re tired, it’s okay. If you’re ready to go, then you can go.”

I got her bed moved and encouraged her to come to me. She got to her feet and walked over to me, ears perked and cute as always, and laid down on her bed. In hindsight, this may have taken quite a bit of strength to come to me one final time. Once it was time, I dragged her bed over to the garage and picked her up to get her in the car.

At her vet, her body temperature was 2 degrees colder than normal, so they covered her up and did some blood work. Everything looked fine. They did x-rays of her chest to see if her heart was enlarged, signaling bad news. I always assumed her heart would give out due to the time with heart worms, but they said it looked good, but the mass on her spleen was larger. They prescribed an emergency herbal medicine and if she was showing improvement the next day we would discuss removing her spleen. However, the medicine wasn’t in stock except in another city at their emergency vet. I had already texted my mom and let her know things didn’t look good and we were going to try this, but it was probably best if anyone in the family who wanted to see her should make plans to come that day.

I took Annie there and while there, we got another ultrasound. I waited in a room until the doctor came in and told me the results. The mass had grown very large and her abdomen was full of fluid. She was already starting to suffer and wouldn’t make it til the next day. There was nothing they could do for her. I had to make the decision right then.

They asked if I wanted to remember her as she was or be with her at the end. There was no decision to make as I had decided long ago I would be there with her for her final journey. They brought her in so I could say goodbye. This sweet, gentle, beautiful dog that had been with me for only 6 years and 10 months lay there, her eyes moving but not fully seeing me. I petted her, I cried, I told her she was a good girl and that I loved her. I kept my hand near her nose, hoping she could at least smell me and know I was there for her.

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She didn’t look a day older than when I first met her.

I could feel her paws and ears were starting to feel cold and her nose was dry. I told her again she was a good dog and it was okay for her to go. Part of me hoped she’d take her last breath right there, just the two of us together. I told the vet I was ready and they came in and gave her the injection. I stayed there in front of her, rubbing her head and trying not to cry too much as I said goodbye to the most perfect dog I had ever known. Shortly after, they told me she was gone. I spent some more time with her before I left, my world completely altered and feeling a little darker.

I let friends and family know and later that evening, then I shared the news on Twitter.

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I reconsidered the quote at first. It’s from Watership Down by Richard Adams, a book about a group of rabbits. I thought the phrase fitting, but technically the quote is about a fellow rabbit and Annie, being a dog, would have been one of “the thousand” enemies of rabbits.

But as I considered it, I decided it was appropriate. If Annie had ever met a rabbit, she would have almost certainly been its friend, or a friend to a whole warren if given the chance. And I thought surely even rabbits would have mourned her passing.

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My world felt empty

The next two days were full of tears and uncontrollable weeping, for my best friend was gone. It helped to share photos of her on Twitter while organizing them all in preparation to write this.

I was able to return the last purchase of flea/tick/heartworm medicine to her vet for a refund. While there, her primary vet told me based on everything, he believed the mass was hemangiosarcoma, a blood related cancer.

I read about it and the descriptions seemed accurate. One day they’re completely normal, then suddenly they can’t stand up and within hours they’re gone. In hindsight, I believe Annie put everything she had into getting up that morning and walking to me one last time. Driving to the vet, she tried to keep her head up as her strength slowly faded.

Annie lived out her final months as normal as could be, enjoying “playing” with Toby and playing with her duck, walking around her neighborhood, visiting her “cousins” at my parents, and celebrating one final Christmas with the family and one last New Year’s Eve with me.

A week and a couple of days after saying goodbye, she came home again for the final time.

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Rest in peace, Annie. You were the best dog I could have ever hoped for.

This is not her end, though. It will take time, but I intend to save the money to have her ashes made into a diamond and placed in a simple ring so she can continue to go with me wherever I go in the future. Because she had a diamond on her forehead, and that’s what she was – a pure, beautiful diamond of a dog.

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I do believe in an afterlife and I hope above all else that Annie is in heaven, waiting for the day that I find her again.

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Until then, I’ll always remember her.

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Dealing with The Last Jedi

Rian Johnson’s Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi came out just over a year ago and it has continued to cause a great disturbance in the fandom. I personally saw The Last Jedi two times within 24 hours on its release, something I’ve only done once before with The Fellowship of the Ring.

The difference between those two instances is that I absolutely loved The Fellowship of the Ring, so much that Lord of the Rings has arguably surpassed Star Wars as my favorite film trilogy. The Last Jedi, I didn’t particularly care for on my first showing. After my second viewing, my feelings didn’t change. They likely got a bit worse the more I thought on it.

People have gone to great lengths to dismiss any and all criticism of the film as blind hatred, not true fans, man children who can’t handle change. To me, it’s about respecting the property. More particularly, a lack of respect for the Star Wars saga. Rian Johnson set out to “subvert expectations” and in the process, essentially subverted the entirety of the Star Wars saga and assassinated multiple characters in the process while simultaneously making decisions that didn’t fit the pace of the film or support the narrative it was trying to present.

Poe & Holdo

The film starts off taking Poe Dameron, who we were led to believe in The Force Awakens was a hot shot pilot that was willing to take risks that would put himself in jeopardy for the good of the Resistance, and revealing he is apparently willing to sacrifice entire squadrons for a single minor victory that might boost morale. This seems like a bit of a change of character for the sake of setting up Poe to be wrong in his opposition to Holdo.

With Holdo’s introduction, it seems like Poe doesn’t believe she’s who he’s heard of because she’s a woman, striking a chord with 2017’s fresh surge of feminism and painting a target for many a YouTube video complaints. The problem with this entire set up is that Star Wars does not take place in 2017 Earth, but a long time ago in a galaxy, far, far away. Women are leaders in the Star Wars universe. They are senators, queens, admirals, generals, Jedi, smugglers, bounty hunters, assassins, and adventurers. Poe clearly holds Leia in high esteem. It’s logically inconsistent for Poe to simply be in disbelief that Admiral Holdo is capable because she’s a woman, yet that’s the impression the film seems to give.

If the film had included information that, based on her appearance, Poe recognized her as coming from a pacifist planet we’d have some basis of his disbelief. Instead it seems like a ham fisted way to set up a strong woman to dress down the hot shot pilot and thus “subvert our expectations” in having the hot shot pilot in Star Wars be a bad thing.

Then there was the whole “tell us you have a plan” vs “STFU stupid man, I don’t have to tell you jack” angle that just…. made no sense.  Yes, she didn’t owe Poe an explanation. He was demoted, she didn’t know him, he was a potential loose cannon, but to not even say “yes, we have a plan and no you don’t need to know it”? The extent to which they had her remain silent seemed irrational.

What’s more, the speculative leap from “it’s impossible to track a ship through hyperspace” to complete acceptance that it’s possible, developed, and happening, had no support. It was just speculative guessing accepted as fact. It seemed far more obvious, and I thought they were going to do it, that someone in the Resistance was a traitor feeding their coordinates to the First Order. If they had gone this route, Holdo and Poe could have simply distrusted each other as the spy.  Between Finn and Rose, they might have deduced the possibility of the hyperspace tracking technology, but by that point you’d have Poe unwilling to trust this information with Holdo (or if you took it to her, why would she believe a few nobodies who are pals with Poe?).

Ultimately, I felt nothing for Admiral Holdo. She was a fairly useless character who accomplished nothing (a common theme throughout this film for all the characters save a couple) and was written out as quickly as she was introduced. Her death had no weight or emotion to it, though. With no time to care about her, I really didn’t care about her dying.

What’s more mind boggling to me is that Abrams, Kennedy, and Johnson didn’t plan to write out the original cast with Solo’s death in VII, Leia’s in VIII, and Luke’s in IX to begin with. Personally, I’d lean towards Luke surviving to cameo in future films as the Jedi Headmaster since everyone just assumes he’s going to die akin to Obi-Wan and Yoda.

At the start of this film, Leia talks about how tired she is of losing people. It’s not guilt, but there’s a sense of survivor’s weariness to Leia that makes her simply shuffling off to leave her friend to die perplexing.  It seems to me that having Leia stay on the ship and perform the heroic sacrifice would have had far more emotional weight and would have given Leia a truly heroic send off.

It would also allow Holdo to be carried forward into IX to be further developed and fleshed out, taking on the torch in a General Leia or Mon Mothma role.

Rose and Finn

Let’s get this out of the way up front: Rose Tico was a fairly unnecessary character with how the film played out and a lot of her parts make no sense. That said, anyone who attacked the actress is a complete and utter fool. Kellie Marie Tran was given a script and she portrayed what was written in that script. She did her job. She didn’t write the script, she didn’t design the character, she didn’t make the story decisions.

Personally, I liked Rose’s introduction. A lot. Her fan girling over Finn with a quick flip of the switch to tazing him for his attempt to desert the Resistance made an interesting and fun introduction. I liked that she seemed like she was loyal to the Resistance above all else. Even tripping over her words in front of a hero she admired, she wasn’t going to give that hero any leeway whatsoever if he was going to hurt the Resistance.

Then she just sort of turned into Finn’s sidekick who was there to make a few comments on animal cruelty, class inequality, and war profiteering before ultimately taking action to save Finn by crashing her speeder through the plot to leave massive gaping holes.

The final scene with her saving Finn and telling him they’re going to win the war by saving what they love just didn’t work for me at all.

  1. Rose has known Finn for about a day and she’s in love?
  2. Rose stops Finn from preventing the cannon from blowing open the doors to allow the First Order access to wipe out the Resistance.
  3. Why didn’t the First Order just fire the cannon again into the base and kill everyone at once?
  4. How did Finn drag/carry unconscious Rose the entire distance from their crash back to the doors and get inside before the walkers made any progress?
  5. Why didn’t the First Order just take one shot and kill Rose and Finn as he was carrying her all that way back?

Just nothing about that entire scene made any sense.

Rey

Yes, Rey is still essentially a Mary Sue.

An “idealized and seemingly perfect fictional character. They can usually perform better at tasks than should be possible given the amount of training or experience, and usually are able through some means to upstage the main protagonist of an established fictional setting, such as by saving the hero.”

Rey can instantly fly the Millennium Falcon, repair the Falcon on her own, overpower Kylo Ren with the Force, use Jedi mind tricks, defeat Kylo Ren in a lightsaber duel after again overpowering him with the Force and advocates said it would be explained in The Last Jedi. Instead, The Last Jedi simply showed that she can further train herself with a lightsaber, is so powerful that she scares Luke, doesn’t need any training from a Jedi master, and can use the Force more reliably than Luke did when he sought training from Yoda. Even mirroring Luke’s confrontation with Vader by going to face Snoke and Kylo, she comes out ultimately victorious and suffers no loss or real setback whatsoever.

Rey is perfect. She has no flaws. She is skilled at everything with no background or training. And she is better than the established canon’s heroes. There is no passing of the torch in the sequel trilogy. Rey carries her own torch, she IS the torch, and doesn’t need one from anyone that came before.

Snoke

There’s nothing to even say. Snoke was a joke. We have no idea what he was or how he did anything up to this point other than being supremely powerful in the dark side, except apparently fairly oblivious to the Force at the same time. Much like Holdo, since we knew nothing about him it’s hard to really care that he’s dead beyond the emptiness of not knowing anything about how we got to where we are in the story when so much was by his doing.

Luke Skywalker

Now we come to the real crux of what drove so many fans up the wall. Luke Skywalker is part of American mythology. He’s one of the last of our mythic heroes. Johnson not only assassinated Luke’s character, but in the process wrote the entire story of the Skywalker saga to be completely irrelevant and moot.

The Jedi were utter failures in every sense of the word. Everything about the prophecy was complete rubbish. Anakin didn’t bring balance, he set the galaxy to darkness. Luke was not a new hope, he was a temporary blip before he also set the galaxy to darkness. Everything that happens in episodes 1-6 is completely pointless. The best we can hope for at the end of 9 is that Rey finally sets everything right because she read some books and was wiser than all Jedi throughout history.

If I sound a little bitter, it’s because I am. In “subverting expectations” and deconstructing Luke, Johnson managed to essentially crap on everything George Lucas had done with the Star Wars saga.

What’s frustrating is we’ve got interviews from Mark Hamill indicating he was supposed to be shown as having the Force swirling around him with how powerful he was at the end of VII and they didn’t do it. Production art shows him meditating with what appears to be a Force, or even Sith, ghost behind him.

If Luke had been pushing Rey towards that cave, towards the dark side, it would definitely not be what fans expect from Luke. We could have had Luke rediscover, and put Rey on the path of, the original Jedi from the expanded universe (which Disney is using pieces of here and there) in using both light and dark side of the Force and maintaining balance within themselves rather than the split of Jedi and Sith.

This would finally complete the Skywalker saga in full circle. Anakin, through his son, returns balance to the Force by Luke returning the Jedi to a path of balance within themselves. And that prophecy would be embodied by Rey, a nobody from nowhere, rather than the Skywalker bloodline. Yet it would still be Luke passing the torch to the next generation rather than Luke being irrelevant entirely.

Yes, Luke ultimately does something to buy the Resistance time and becomes an inspirational legend across the galaxy and I’ll admit that a final scene of Luke gazing at the sunset in mirror to the first time we met him was poetically beautiful, but a single scene of poetic mirroring isn’t better than the whole narrative coming together in mirror and contrast to bring resolution to the whole story.

Episode IX will be the conclusion of the Skywalker saga and with everything set up by Johnson in Episode VIII, the only way the saga can conclude is with the Skywalkers having been ultimately a blight upon the galaxy, not a new hope, not a correction of the Jedi mistakes. That’s why I’m bitter.

Wishes and Dreams

In hindsight, I’d have preferred Episode VII kicked off with Rey and perhaps even Finn being the only two surviving Jedi of Luke’s school, possibly with a handful of students. Luke has still disappeared and Rey and Finn have two different views on how to proceed forward – Rey searching for Luke and Finn looking to aid the Resistance.

With Finn, we could have Jedi Leia giving him some guidance and give her a chance to actually be a Jedi in her own right rather than space flying nun.

With Rey, we could have Luke discover the new path for the Jedi to follow (he already breaks from tradition with his school of Jedi in the EU anyway).

And instead of retreading and rehashing the Empire vs Rebellion, we could have had a new direction for the saga with the Knights of Ren vs the Knights of the New Republic. Fans have long wanted a Knights of the Old Republic setting, but why not the same vibe set in the New Republic with Luke’s students as the key figures?

Going Forward

So what can fans do to save Star Wars?

Be loud on social media? Make YouTube videos? Write letters?

Nothing.

Seriously, if you didn’t like The Last Jedi, there’s nothing you can do to change the course Disney and Lucasfilm is taking the series other than simply not go to future films if you feel that strongly about it.

For me, I simply decided I didn’t like this new version of the canon and decided I wouldn’t bother with any of the novels and comics, etc. I’ve heard Rebels is pretty good, so I’ll watch it eventually, though. I’ll watch Episode IX to see how Abrams tries to resolve everything, though I have no sense of anticipation for the film whatsoever at this point.

Instead, I decided to simply go back through the entire EU, starting with the comics and novels set prior to the Old Republic and I’m currently reading the books/comics and playing the games set in the Knights of the Old Republic era. I’ll continue working my way through the prequel era, the original trilogy era, and onward through the post trilogy, new Jedi Order, and on until I’ve completed the entire Star Wars EU saga.

It’s that simple, really. If you don’t like it, let it go and enjoy what was there before instead. Maybe we’ll eventually get an animated series with Han, Luke, and Leia set after Return of the Jedi, but at this point that’s about the best one could hope to ever see – though even then, knowing it all culminates in them all essentially being failures kind of takes some of the fun out of it.

But in the end, it’s a movie, no matter how beloved. It’s not worth death threats, anger, and hatred. The Dark Side can be seductive and too many who disliked The Last Jedi have fallen to its temptation.

If you didn’t like it, detail why you didn’t in a respectful manner, but realize that some enjoyed it. There’s no accounting for taste, after all, and some people… well, some people are just happy to be wrong.

(Yes, that was a joke)

 

 

 

 

Ending A Long Hiatus

It’s been six months since I’ve updated here, which has most certainly not been my intention. Life, as they say, happened. I got a new job, which kept me busy for a while and away from doing too much with games and distracted enough that I wasn’t putting time in to write about them.

Over the six months, a friend and I took a road trip to game hunt from Texas to Arkansas to Tennessee and then back through Louisiana to come home. I’ll admit for all its flaws, Final Fantasy XV gave me the travel bug to want to pursue that road trip finally. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do more often; taking road trips or weekend trips to game hunt and meet folks I know from online.  As part of the FFXV inspiration, we didn’t book any hotel rooms. Our intention was to chat with store employees and go where tips took us to pawn shops, game stores, thrift markets, flea markets, whatever sounded good.

As a result, we went from Texas to Little Rock, Arkansas. Amidst our various stops there, we were rerouted west instead of east and wound up going through Arkansas to Oklahoma instead.

Over the course of the trip, I got a huge haul of games knocked off my list. After that, there were more Half Price Books finds and Retropalooza at home. I managed to complete my hunting list for Playstation 2 and GameCube, my Atari and NES lists are tremendously small now, leaving the bulk of my collecting to be SNES and Sega Genesis.

The biggest finds of the past six months was a copy of Rule of Rose on PS2 for just $125 and Demon’s Crest for SNES for $100 with the manual included.

With things settled, I’m hoping to resume regular posts in 2019, though I expect my game hunting is going to be much less frequent in finds for my collection. I’m planning to go back to basics, in a sense, and go garage sale hunting with just $100 and start trying to buy and flip to build up money for conventions or ebay, which may be requirements to finish my collection goals.

I’m also hoping to start a podcast, streaming, and possibly YouTube channel in the new year.

Here’s to a new year of great finds and more talk about video games, movies, comics, and all sorts of geekery!

E3 Reaction Day 4

Nintendo

Nintendo did their usual E3 Nintendo Direct presentation online rather than the on stage presentation other companies go for. They kicked off their presentation with a rather stylistic looking mech game that, of course, reminded me of a Gundam influence called Daemon x Machina due out in 2019.

Next up, they had a trailer for a Xenoblade Chronicles 2 addition – Torna – The Golden Country. I assume it’s a DLC expansion and still haven’t played the Xeno series. One day…. One day.

Reggie Fils-Aime talked a little about Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu and Pokemon Let’s Go Evee. The Pokeball Plus was shown and announced that Mew would be included with each controller. Available November this year.

The next new reveal was a Mario Party for the Nintendo Switch called Super Mario Party. Two Switch systems can be set next to each other to create maps at different angles depending on how they touch. Available October of this year.

The next Fire Emblem game was presented, Fire Emblem Three Houses, which will be available Spring of 2019.

Fortnite was given a short trailer and available the same day on the Switch.

They moved to looking at some indie games being spotlighted for the Switch with Overcooked! 2. Fil-Aimes gave an overview as footage played. Killer Queen Black got the same style presentation. Hollow Knight was the third indie game spotlighted in this segment, available same day in the eshop.

Octopath Traveler, a Switch exclusive from Square Enix, got a brief mention with a new demo being available later in the month.

Starlink, Arena of Valor, Minecraft, Mario Rabbids Donkey Kong, Just Dance 2019, Splatoon 2, Captain Toad Treasure Tracker, Crash N Sane Trilogy, Ninjala, FIFA, Ark, Wasteland 2, Paladins, Fallout Shelter, Dark Souls Remastered, Sing Heroines, Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, Wolfenstein II, Mega Man 11, Mario Tennis Aces and a few more were presented in a montage trailer.

The centerpiece of Nintendo’s presentation was the full reveal of the Nintendo Switch’s Super Smash Bros. entry. The big reveal for the presentation was that every single character that has appeared in all the Smash Bros games of the past, from N64 to Wii U, would be included in the new installment. They did a video of all the characters, showing when they were introduced. Link was shown in his Breath of the Wild tunic and Mario’s Odyssey pal Cappy appears with Mario as well. They also spent some time looking at how some characters who haven’t been in the series in a while have changed or been updated. A GameCube style controller with Amiibo support was announced with Switch compatibility for the game’s release. A final reveal was that Ridley (not Ripley as I initially wrote. Watch your typos when you’re trying to get something out quick, though she’d be cool to see teamed up with Samus) from the Metroid series would be making his Super Smash Bros. debut. Rumor is there may be a few more new characters to reveal before launch. It definitely looks like a good entry in the series.

Overall, Nintendo didn’t do what I normally expect in showing me something I didn’t know I wanted, but they did give a decent line up. Xenoblade Chronicles 2, a Pokemon gap-fill, Super Mario Party, and Super Smash Bros. all by end of this year maintains the momentum for Nintendo’s first party titles on Switch and their much more solid line up of third party games coming to the system suggest they’ll maintain their strong sales going forward.

Grade: B, but some might argue it’s a solid A with that Smash Bros. line up (and others might give if an F for lack of Waluigi).

Games I’m interested in: Starlink, Mega Man 11 (I’m planning to get the Mega Man and X Legacy collections along with this on Switch), Super Smash Bros.

E3 Day 3 Reaction

Square Enix

Square Enix didn’t have a large presentation, lasting only 30 minutes and mostly just showing some videos of games coming out.

Starting off with their closest release, they kicked off with Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the third game in the rebooted Lara Croft’s origin trilogy. I was happy to see Jonah brought back for the third adventure, though I hope he pulls through the plane crash shown in the trailer. The gameplay footage looks great and Lara looks like she’s become seriously dangerous. No longer fighting for survival, she seems more like a predator in the jungle more than ever. I also really dig the muscular definition they’ve given her. The mud camoflage is a cool thing that gives me a Predator Schwarzenegger vibe. I still wish we’d get the dual pistols, though, and releasing right after Spider-Man is really painful.

The Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood patch trailer didn’t do much for me since I’m already playing Final Fantasy XIV and love it already! However, a Palico in FFXIV with a Monster Hunter World crossover? Heck yeah! I definitely want a Palico buddy in FFXIV! I still need to give Monster Hunter World a try as well.

Another look at The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit didn’t tell me much more than was previously shown, but I do like the idea of them treating the Life Is Strange world as an anthology setting allowing them to tell stories of completely different characters unrelated to one another’s stories. Kind of surprising that the game will be free.

Dragon Quest XI is another series I never got into (but will someday, right?). The trailer doesn’t look too bad, though the graphics style makes it feel a little dated. I think that’s just a matter of maintaining the aesthetic of the series, though, and I’m sure playing the game would settle into them not feeling off at all. Nothing particularly commanding interest, though.

The trailer for Babylon’s Fall told me absolutely nothing, but I want to know absolutely everything about the world’s lore based solely from the trailer. It looks really cool.

Nier Automata Definitive Edition on XBox One was already announced at Microsoft.

Octopath Traveler interests me, but I’m interested in the RPGs Square is developing for Switch as they feel very retro SNES era RPG. It was an extremely brief trailer.

Just Cause 4 isn’t a series I’ve played, but the fourth entry looks as over the top and crazy as the others. I’d love to try it someday.

I have no idea what The Quiet Man is from the teaser trailer.

Kingdom Hearts III, of course, got a little more shown, but mostly I felt like I’d already seen it from the previous trailer. I’m a little disappointed there is not one single glimpse of anything remotely Final Fantasy. Kingdom Hearts has become pretty much entirely a Disney property game and though the series has always been Disney worlds with Disney party members, I would have liked to see a few cameo teases from Final Fantasy cast members.

Overall, the biggest disappointment was not one single glimpse, tease, or hint about the progress on Final Fantasy 7 remake, which I’m starting to think will be shifted to Playstation 5 since there’s no way for 3 episodic entries to release prior to that console. It would, however, be interesting to see the game release on the exact day of the 25th Anniversary. I’m also personally disappointed we’ll never likely see a sequel to Sleeping Dogs.

Mostly, I didn’t feel like Square showed anything we hadn’t already seen, making for an unimpressive presentation, even if there are a few games I’m interested in.

Grade: D+

Games I’m interested in: Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Octopath Traveler, Kingdom Hearts III, more info for Babylon’s Fall.


Ubisoft

I liked kicking off with a slight jab at GameStop employee leaking Assassin’s Creed Odyssey with the keychain joke.

A lot of people likely didn’t care for the start of the presentation beginning with the dance routine outside, but I thought it was amusing. It was, up to that point, by far the most entertaining performance of all the presentations. With a mascot panda leading a marching band parade and dancers in colorful and weird costumes making their way from outside into the building and then down through the crowd to the stage, I couldn’t stop watching, all while thinking “wtf is even going on right now” before I finally realized it was their annual Just Dance performance. Major credit to the dancers, who apparently put the whole thing together last minute and are on the E3 floor dancing damn near nonstop all weekend. Sure, it wasn’t showing a game, but it was certainly more entertaining than Andrew WK’s performance for Bethesda. It also got much more of a positive crowd reaction as an opening act than Bethesda’s look of confusion from their crowd.

They went straight into one of their heavily anticipated titles with a long trailer for Beyond Good and Evil 2. No game play presented, but the trailer did give a look at the setting and first glimpse of the characters. A friend of mine who knows absolutely nothing about Beyond Good and Evil was intrigued and interested in the game just from half of the trailer, so they certainly accomplished their goal in that regard. I was rather surprised by the ending reveal of Jade. It definitely feels like an HD facelift for the original PS2/GameCube release would be nice to accompany the sequel (actually prequel). After a few words from the developers, they showed a look at pre-alpha footage with the two explaining a few details, such as solo and co-op play. The game looks to be massive.

An interesting addition is the Space Monkey program where fans can create ideas, music, artwork, and original content to be added to the game. Murals, street art, music, radio content, and more can be submitted to be used in the game through a partnership with Hit Record, founded by Joseph Gordan-Levitt. It’s really cool to see celebrities brought into E3 because their projects or companies are actually partnering with the developers rather than just being brought on stage as a celebrity for some stilted pre-scripted dialogue. The cynical will see it as a way to crowd source free assets, but it’s a cool collaborative project for fans to have their creations in game.

After they went off stage, their mics were still hot, and the excited “we nailed it!” back stage was the cutest part of the presentation. That’s genuine excitement.

Rainbow Six Siege holds no interest for me, but it clearly does for 35 million players. They talked about upcoming esports competition tournaments, but didn’t go too long. They gave a first look at a documentary titled “Another Mindset” about Rainbow Six Siege esports gamers. Normally I’d complain about this being a detraction from showing games, but I understand why they showed it when they did. It allowed them to set up the stage for their next presentation.

Coming into the theater in an Evel Knievel suit on a motorcycle sporting the game title for Trials, we had Antti Il Vessuo, creative director of Ubisoft Redlynx, come on stage to “accidentally” trip and crash through a podium with a TV on it, breaking the whole thing to pieces. Getting up with a simple “oops,” he explained: “Trials is all about crashing with style and getting up again.” He also claimed to be the Prime Minister of Finland before presenting the video for Trials Rising. It was brief, but it scored with the crowd. A camera pan showed people laughing at the crash and “oops” and the applause was there for it. I hadn’t heard of Trials, but it looks like an absolute insane and infinitely more hilarious version of a childhood favorite in Excitebike. This is absolutely not my type of game and I still think it looks like it would be fun to play. After the video, the crew was already on stage cleaning up the set up “crashed podium” and he gave a little aside “sorry about that” which scored another noticeable laugh with the audience before talking more about the game.

By this point I had noticed that Ubisoft was doing something the other presentations had not done – it was connecting with their audience in the theater. Jokes were landing, the little performances and shows were entertaining, and they weren’t overly long before showing and talking about the games they had to present.

I wasn’t impressed with The Division 2 footage from Microsoft, but Ubisoft’s presentation sold me on the plot for the sequel. As it gets closer to release, I’ll see what the gameplay additions are like and make a decision on it. I played the first one with friends and might be happy to do so again with a sequel. Ubisoft has a proven track record with Assassin’s Creed and Watch Dogs of the sequels having vast improvements over the first game, so I hope that’s the case for The Divison 2 and I just haven’t seen it yet with the first release of gameplay footage. The crowd certainly liked the idea of 8 man raids in the game. Frequent, major content updates were promised with 3 DLC episodes with new story, areas, and activities all free in the first year.

I still haven’t found time to play Mario + Rabbids, but the Donkey Kong + Rabbids was fun with live music played over the video.

Skull & Bones looks like Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag without the Assassin’s Creed backdrop and polished and refined with better graphics. The gameplay looks like it was taken right out of Black Flag with ship combat and base captures. They’ve added a multiplayer component with other players joining together to take down ships and then potentially fighting each other over the loot as well. I loved Black Flag, one of my favorite in the series, so I’d be interested to see more details on this in the future.

Elijah Wood was brought out for Transference VR as his company is involved in working with Ubisoft on the game. I’m not too clear on the game, but it seems creepy as hell.

The next game, Starlink, did a complete 360 for me. The initial trailer interested me with its sci-fi setting and the ship combat looked interesting, though I wasn’t crazy about the character designs and art style. Then I saw it was a toys to life game and I quickly lost interest. I do think these are the best “toys to life” iteration to date, though. Where Skylanders and Amiibo were mostly just little statue figurines that had a chip in them, Starlink toys actually are space ships that can be changed with different pieces to alter them in game. That also makes them genuine toys for kids to play with after turning off the game. They can run around the house with their toys shooting down imaginary enemies and narrowly dodging enemy fire, recreating epic space battles in their imaginations.

After a brief bit of information on the game, however, it was revealed that the good guys in Starlink would need all the help they can get and the video started again. Pursued by five enemies and taking fire, the pilot says “could use a little help here” and the video cut to a ship console. Then I heard it….

At first, I thought “Tell me I didn’t just hear that.” Then I thought “Did Ubisoft leave placeholder sounds in their trailer!?” Then I saw the green eye, clearly surrounded by fur, and covered by a green lens and I thought “HOLY CRAP WTF WTF WTF!?”

Ubisoft had strengthened their partnership with Nintendo and Star Fox, or at least Fox McCloud, would be in Starlink Battle for Atlas. Multiple arwings were seen as Fox took off, so I’m assuming the full team may be present.

Just like that, they sold me on buying a copy. I’ve wanted a model Arwing to put on the shelf for years, but the only one I’ve ever seen is about $500, so a $75 bundle of a toy version with game included is close enough for me. Shigeru Miyamoto was even on hand and seated in the front row of the audience to see. They gave him a first prototype of the Arwing and Fox McCloud figure for the game. It looked pretty cool on the display stand they had mounted it on.

I was surprised to see the next game, For Honor Marching Fire, as from my understanding the first game hadn’t done that well. Apparently, however, it was enough to warrant a new addition. However, this goes to Ubisoft’s credit of maintaining majority control of their company and the benefit of games like Rainbow Six Siege and Assassin’s Creed being tentpole games that help finance smaller projects throughout the company. They’re not exclusively bound to focus purely on profit, profit, profit.

The Crew 2 got a presentation and open beta announcement before showing the video. I’m not too interested here either. Give me a Smokey and the Bandit game, instead, Ubi (I’m kidding….. or am I?).

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was the closing presentation and it definitely looks good. Based on the trailer and presentation, the game looks good and they’re moving even more in an RPG direction. I was surprised, perhaps a little disappointed, to see Assassin’s Creed return to an annual release as I was hoping Assassin’s Creed and Watch Dogs would start taking turns leapfrogging each other in every-other-year releases.

I have the Ezio statue from the Brotherhood Collector’s Edition and have thought the others were cool since then, even sometimes thinking they would have definitely looked cool with every one of them together on a shelf, but with multiple statues in the new one, I’m glad I didn’t go down that path (though they do look awesome). I’m still hoping Ubisoft goes back on their word and ventures to Japan with the series (as they did with Egypt), as well as back to China and into India, at some point.

I also liked their show conclusion bringing the entire team, both presenters and so many who were back stage, back on stage for a final curtain call. The final note of working more with you, the gamers which makes everything better was a great note to conclude Ubisoft’s E3 presentation.

Grade: A

Games I’m interested in: Beyond Good and Evil 2, Starlink, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, possibly The Division 2 and Skull & Bones once I read up on more information.


Sony

Sony had announced ahead of time that this year would not be announcing new games at E3, but focusing on four pillar games with deeper looks and more information.

They started off their presentation in a room that had been built to look like a church to resemble the one they had not yet seen in the upcoming trailer. I saw a number of people didn’t like the banjo performance to start the presentation, but I liked it. I immediately knew it was kicking off the show with The Last of Us 2 just based on the early bit of that performance, though I’m in agreement that the church replica was rather silly and completely unnecessary. It caused a weird intermission right at the start of their presentation and broke the flow of their games being shown.

The Last of Us 2, however, looked absolutely fantastic. The detail in the character models and motion capture, the footage shown for gameplay looked very smooth and even more cinematic than the first game did. The focus of the trailer was on the greater danger in any zombie post-apocalypse: other humans. That always seemed like the more dangerous part of the first game, so I like seeing that aspect as the spotlight in the sequel. Ellie laying down in foliage and sliding under cars adds expanded ways to use the environment than just ducking behind things as well. I also found it interesting that the enemies seem to be calling her “wolf” as if she’s earned a title, possibly from hunting their group in the past? I’m a little disappointed we don’t see Joel at all, only getting a hint of him mentioned.

During the intermission while the crowd moved from the first room to the main theater. It took 13 minutes while they talked about Last of Us part 2, Horizon, God of War, and Detroit: Become Human with Worldwide Studios. New Game + coming to God of War was brought up and confirmed as happening. Black Ops remastered maps were announced for Black Ops IIII. Black Ops III was also announced as a free game for PS+ members.

Tetris Effect for PSVR was shown. A short video for Days Gone. Twin Mirror. Ghost Giant for PSVR, Beat Saber for PSVR. Basically a compilation sizzle reel.

Destiny 2‘s new expansion got a featured trailer.

Finally going back to the main stage, Sony presented another musical performance with Cornelius Boots playing the shakuhachi (a Japanese flute instrument) in front of a screen showing hills of grass while dressed in Japanese clothing. Much like the Andrew WK performance, this would have been more interesting if they had some slow paced game footage to show behind him rather than just the grassy hills. Once he was done, we got our first look at Ghost of Tsushima.

This is one of my most anticipated games that was teased at E3 in 2017 and the new trailer did not disappoint me at all. I’m a sucker for samurai and ninja films, so a game set in this time period grabs my attention and an open world style game in this time period is a must have. I’m hoping, really hoping, the final game is playable with Japanese voice acting and English subtitles, though. I even saw a later comment imagining a black & white mode, which would be ridiculously hard to imagine them pulling off, but would definitely be interesting.

The combat looks interesting. It’s definitely not fast paced hack and slash. There are some very Akira Kurosawa moments with the face off and the sudden draw-strike of the katana killing the opponent before regular combat starts. It looks like it’s focused on reaction, blocks and dodges and counter attacks rather than mindless button mashing.

Between games, there would occasionally be weird things like a CG banana playing electric guitar. It was for Dreams, but that game was never really shown.

I have no idea what the game is about based on the trailer, but Control looks like you basically get to play as Jean Gray/Phoenix (but also with a gun), so that looks pretty cool.

Next up was the surprise trailer that almost managed to steal the show: Resident Evil 2 remake was presented from a rat’s eye view. I liked the added touch of an original Playstation controller next to the pizza near the beginning. As the camera moves around, a struggle is heard, the two people fighting knocking things over and eventually falling on our rodent for the camera to shift to a different view to show the killed rat before moving to a zombie biting the sheriff he was fighting before we get our first look at Leon Kennedy.

Expected to have been a remake much like the Resident Evil REmake on GameCube, the footage is above and beyond that in terms of what I expected graphically. The detail is amazing and the crowd loved it, especially when a Jan 2019 release was revealed.

Squanch Games presented Trover Save the Universe from the creator of Rick and Morty. I’ve never watched the show, but if the humor is like this trailer, I do not remotely see the appeal.

Another look at Kingdom Hearts III showed more gameplay and focused on the Pirates of the Caribbean world before showing a lot of what was seen in the previous presentations. The big addition was the reveal of a Kingdom Hearts III PS4 Pro Limited Edition as well as a 1.5/2.5/2.8/3 all-in-one package for PS4.

Death Stranding gave us a long look at the game and its gameplay while still managing to show almost nothing. We know Redus’ character is essentially a delivery courier, seeing a wide number of terrains being traversed while wearing ridiculously large backpacks. There appears to be acid rain causing burns, hence needing the suits they wear. One of the “packages” appears to be a dead body wrapped up or in a body bag. Others are large crates, sometimes with robots coming with them, other times just carrying everything. Scaling a mountain seemed reminiscent of Breath of the Wild. Though towards the end, we see a village and he pulls out a rifle, so there does seem like there will be combat. It seems like whatever the creatures we’ve seen hinted at have human hand shaped feet, leaving hand prints where they walk. Breathing seems to attract their attention. The woman that meets up with Redus’ character has a suit with FRAGILE on the back (possibly the company they work for). The time fold fast forwards whatever it touches, but the past can never let go. If one of the things eats Redus character, he’ll come back, but the area will be a crater. There are humanoid shapes floating in the air as black smoky clouds, tethered into the sky. They catch Reducs and pull him down into an oil puddle to end the trailer. Ultimately still no clue what the game is about… We probably won’t entirely have an idea when it releases.

Give me your hand in death
Give me your hand in flesh
Give me your hand in spirit

Nioh 2 got an announce trailer, marking the third samurai game for E3 this year!

Finally, Sony wrapped up with an extended look at Spider-Man. The game still looks fantastic visually. Previously, it seemed Mr. Negative was the primary focus of the game, but this kicks off with Electro breaking prisoners out of the Raft and webhead chasing him through fighting low tier super powered criminals in the prison while running into more notable Spider-Man villains Rhino, Scorpion, and Vulture. It’s clear the Sinister Six are featured villains here. The sixth, who masterminded the break out and brought the above five together confronts Spidey at the end, but we’re not shown who it is. Norman Osborn is known to be mayor in this setting, so it could definitely be Green Goblin leading the Sinister Six, but Doc Ock is just as possible. Of course, it could be a surprise rather than an obvious choice.

The game definitely looks amazing. Spectacular even. It even looks Web of. Wait, that last one doesn’t work.

Grade: Absolute A++ on the games themselves, but…. B- for the presentation. I’d even hear out arguments for a grade of C.

However, I feel Sony did what they said they were going to do: showed a closer look at the four big games they wanted to showcase with no muss or fuss. The long intermission was the only real problem I had with their conference. If they had kept everything in the main theater, the shakuhachi before Ghost of Tsushima would have been more of a palette cleanser between the two games rather than feeling like we were stretching on far too long without game footage at a game presentation.

Games I’m looking forward to: Last of Us 2, Ghost of Tsushima, Spider-Man, Resident Evil 2, Death Stranding, Ghost Giant, Beat Saber, possibly Control once I know more about it.

E3 Day 2 Reaction

Sorry I’m late getting these up as we’re now 5 days past Day 2. I’ll get the final Day’s reactions up tomorrow.

Microsoft

Note: I still hate Microsoft’s E3 approach of “Exclusive” and “World Premiere” announced at the start of every video….

I don’t own an XBox and have never been an XBox gamer, but I do tune in to their E3 presentation to see what they’re up to. With most of their games being on PC and console now, they sometimes have things that pop up I’m interested in.

Their opening trailer looked absolutely gorgeous even before having any idea what it was. Rather short, it wasn’t until the helmet reveal to realize it was a Halo game, Halo Infinite. I’m sure many Halo fans got excited, but anytime I see “infinite” or similar subtitles these days, I feel apprehension for an online quasi-MMO game that’s the big trend these days. It turned out the announcement was more for the engine they’re using and it sounds like Halo Infinite is absolutely nowhere near the horizon. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a 2020 release.

Phil Spencer specifically used “gamers” when speaking to his audience, which I liked after the past few years of the games press acting like that’s a tainted identifier. The crowd was hyped to be there, which says something about XBox’s fan base. Whether that’s good or ill is a debate I’ll leave for others. Spencer briefly touched on Gamers Outreach (a charity that lets kids in children’s hospitals game with friends) being supported by Fanfest ticket sales before giving the absolute best opening speech of the weekend.

It’s absolutely ridiculous that not one games press has written anything about this speech.

“Gaming brings us together. Gaming connects us. It inspires our truest cooperation. It creates some of our fondest memories of competition and our deepest conversations about the stories within games. Most of all, gaming fosters real community. It reaches across age, ability, race, gender, and geography. This is why I’ve always believed and will always believe that gaming is the great unifier. And what unifies us is our shared love of this art form. Legendary characters who captivate us. Not just for 10 hours, but for 10, 20, 30 years. Bold stories that inspire the hero within us. Iconic worlds that are so richly imagined, we feel excitement in the air and danger on the seas. As gamers, we are at a momentous time. Where creative vision and cutting edge technology together are delivering the art form we love.”

50 games, 18 exclusives, and 15 world premieres to be shown set the tone for the show. There wouldn’t be much talking as they showed game after game after game.

They certainly started off with a bang because after that speech they showed the trailer for Ori & The Blind Forest’s sequel. I still haven’t played the first, but I own it and it’s one that’s high on my wishlist to play through. The sequel looks beautiful as well, titled Ori and the Will of the Wisps, and if it plays like the first game was reported, it will be fantastic. No release date announced beyond 2019.

FromSoftware’s new title looked interesting, but I’m a sucker for samurai games. It looked like a new Onimusha game, but it was the previously teased Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Apologies to those who thought the original tease of the game was going to be Bloodborne 2. Release in early 2019.

Todd Howard from Bethesda took the stage to announce Fallout 4 on Xbox Game Pass and give the first look at Fallout 76. I absolutely love the Take Me Home, Country Roads cover they chose for the trailer and from the first look, it felt like a great Fallout game to jump into for those of us like me who never actually got into the series. It’s definitely a cool trailer. (More on the game itself in Bethesda’s review.)

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, a game set in Life is Strange‘s world, doesn’t really interest me. I thought Life is Strange was alright, but nothing amazing, so another one doesn’t really do much for me. However, the premise is pretty neat and for the right price there’s a chance I’d check it out. Much like Life is Strange, the trailer seems like my favorite part about the game would be the music. Available June 25th.

Crackdown 3 is another series I’ve never played, but let’s face it – this game looks interesting for Terry Crews alone. On the other hand, wasn’t it supposed to be a launch title with XBox One? Instead it’s been delayed to 2019.

Metro Exodus had a cool trailer and I’ve heard the games are fun, but they also look like most every FPS game to me, which aren’t really my cup of tea, so there’s that. Release sometime in 2019.

Kingdom Hearts III on Xbox is another first and while Sony later revealed a PlayStation exclusive of 1.5, 2.5, and 3 all-in-one edition, I’d hope the 1.5 and 2.5 releases are released separately on Xbox as jumping into the third game of a trilogy seems like it would be jarring. The main song for Kingdom Hearts games used in trailers is always so oddly out of place. January 29th release.

Sea of Thieves is getting an expansion, but doesn’t particularly interest me. The trailer was fairly amusing, though.

Forza Horizon 4 doesn’t interest me either, but the game looks good graphically. The weather changing effects that alter the world and impact gameplay is pretty cool, though. They actually showed the gameplay as the differences and changes were described.

Phil Spencer returned to the stage to talk about The Initiative, a new studio Microsoft has established as well as Undead Labs, Playground Games, and Ninja Theory as having been acquired by Microsoft. The crowd was certainly excited to hear the last one, but I’m uneasy about studios being purchased by larger platforms. We’ll see how long before Microsoft shuts someone down. Compulsion Games was the last studio announced as having been acquired, citing We Happy Few as their notable title with a trailer shown afterwards.

PlayerUnknown’s Battleground was the next game shown and despite it being popular, I’m still not interested.

Tales of Vesperia Definitive Edition was a bit of a surprise, but good to see an RPG on the system, even a HD release of a 360 game. Nier Automata Definitive Edition is available June 26th for another RPG on the system.

The Division 2 was shown next. I enjoyed the first game up to the end of the initial release. I never played the expansions and DLC. The plot for the sequel, set six months later, seems interesting, but the gameplay didn’t look different from the first game, not enough to warrant a full blown sequel. The presentation was fairly bad with the very unnatural dialogue between “gamers” playing. Not only is the script weak and even cheesy, but the voice actors just feel like voice actors. Can’t really fault Microsoft and their conference since this is Ubisoft’s video.

However, they stopped the roll of games to talk about Xbox Game Pass and “Fast Start” though I didn’t really get any impression of what Fast Start does. Game Pass will have games available the same day as global release. I can’t see how this helps the developers and publishers if thousands or millions of people are playing for free through a subscription paid to Microsoft. The segment, from the presenter to the audience reactions, felt almost like it was scripted for Devolver Digital’s presentation.

After that was a montage video of games at the 1 hour mark with a lot of cool looking games in there.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider got its full trailer presented, which looks amazing. As the final game of the origin trilogy, there’s definitely more of the adventuring tomb raiding bad ass in this trailer than she was in the previous games.

Devil May Cry 5 trailer was a surprise to see. At first I was a bit confused if it was a DmC sequel since Dante (turns out that’s not Dante, it’s Nero, but I haven’t played the games in a while) has short hair. But Dante does show up by the end.

Also, what’s up with all the robot hands lately? Battlefield V, Sekiro, and Devil May Cry 5 all have one!

Cuphead was also revealed to be getting a new game.

Tunic was revealed as well, which was first shown last year, but this gave a deeper look at it. It looks like an isometric Legend of Zelda starring a fox, so of course I’m interested in it. This one is a console launch exclusive, aka timed exclusive, so I’ll wait for the PS4 release.

Bandai Namco revealed a Naruto/One Piece/Dragon Ball Z/Death Note set in the real world crossover fighting game called Jump Force.

Dying Light 2, another first person game, didn’t really interest me. The premise and setting looks cool. Maybe I’ll eventually give the first one a try to decide on this one.

A new Battletoads was teased, but nothing shown.

Gears of War POP was teased more than shown. I guess it’ll be a quirky game for fans of the franchise. No release date given.

Gears of War 5 had a decently lengthy trailer, but no hint when it will be released.

As Phil Spencer wrapped up to close the night, he was interrupted by the stage being hacked and taken over for the world premiere of the trailer of CD Project Red’s Cyberpunk 2077. Nothing is really shown, just a trailer showing the premise, but gamers have already analyzed it, particularly all the computer code (and it’s double layered) to decipher a lot of information about the game from the trailer. It’s a cool looking setting, but until there’s more information, it’s hard to say. I know it’s apparently going to be first person perspective, so it’s going to likely be one that doesn’t really interest me too much.

The disappointment for Microsoft’s presentation was how few of their big titles are nowhere near the horizon and the vast majority of what was shown are third party titles that will be not just on PC, but even on PS4 as well. Despite that, their presentation itself was well done with focus on the games, which Microsoft has been needing to do. Only the one break to discuss Game Pass broke their momentum. Still, they did show a lot of games, which is essentially what people tune in to E3 to see.

Grade: B+

Games I’m interested in: Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Sekiro, Tunic, and possibly Devil May Cry 5.

 

Bethesda

Hoo boy, I’m going to get some hate for this one.

Bethesda started with a 2 minute video of the diversity of their employees. I’m not sure if the voice over and the final woman shown was really the receptionist at one of their offices, but if it was, I dig that. I know a lot of gamers were griping that they started off with something not games, but it was 2 minutes. Not that big a deal to kick off a presentation. Unfortunately, the presentation itself followed…

After the Bethesda President talked a bit, we then had to sit through an Andrew WK performance for Rage 2 rather than actually showing Rage 2. If it had been a live performance while crazy footage was showing, it would have been a lot more fun. Camera pans across the audience showed people that just looked confused. It was 10 minutes into the presentation before we started to hear or see anything about video games.

I don’t know anything about Rage, never played it, but it looks like a crazy Mad Max worthy setting kicked up a notch with mutants and monsters. Though it took almost 15 minutes, at least they finally started to show gameplay with this.

Elder Scrolls Legends, a digital card game, is a relaunch with new visuals.

Elder Scrolls Online update detailing some DLC coming in the rest of the year.

Doom Eternal got a teaser announcement, but no footage, no date, and again, “Eternal” is an title I don’t trust to not be a quasi-MMO shared world type of thing like Destiny or Division.

Quake Champions is basically Quake Overwatch.

Prey DLC was announced with a cheesy video and awkward presentation.

Wolfenstein The New Blood was revealed well. Briefly talking about the previous entry and thanking fans for their response as well as the game coming to Switch, then revealed the new game’s trailer featuring BJ’s twin daughters in the 1980s in Paris. They didn’t drag it out and were to the point in their presentation.

Prey and Wolfenstein VR entries announced.

Todd Howard was brought out to present more information about Fall 76. Instead, he talked about E3’s history and then presented Skyrim A Very Special Edition to play on the Amazon Alexa. It was a funny video expected to be a gag, but it turns out it’s actually available. The Etch-a-Sketch, Motorolla Pagers, and Smart Fridge editions are likely just jokes, though. It’s good to see them embrace the Internet meme of Todd releasing Skyrim on everything, though. Nice to see a sense of humor about themselves.

Next they did go into detail of Fallout 76.  I was interested based on the trailer from Microsoft, but as more information was presented and it was shown to be a more multiplayer focused game (you can play solo if you like, but it’s designed for multiplayer to be the intent), likely another quasi-MMO style game, I pretty much lost interest. People point out that gamers only have a limited amount of money, but more than money, I feel that gamers have a limited amount of time. Numerous “games as a service” are not sustainable because you can’t dedicate your time to all of them at once. You’ll have a situation similar to traditional MMOs where WoW took the lion’s share and anyone else in the market shriveled over time until there is very little competition left in the market.

Elder Scrolls Blades was then announced – a mobile game.

And to close their presentation, they announced they’re working on an all new next generation single player game, their first new franchise in 25 years. What they showed was a lens flare behind a planet and a space station seemingly going into hyperspace with a title: Starfield. That’s it. They announced a “next generation” game and showed a title and this is a big deal.

Oh but wait, we can beat that! The ‘the game after that’ was announced with nothing more than a typical pan across a fantasy land with the Elder Scrolls theme showing “The Elder Scrolls VI.” Nothing else. Not even a title.

They literally said “we’re working on Elder Scrolls VI for someday” and people flipped their lids.

I have absolutely no clue why people have declared this to be a killer presentation for the year. They showed:

Three full blown games: Rage 2, Fallout 76, and Quake Champions.
A digital card game relaunch. A mobile game. An MMO DLC/Expansion.
A living meme with Skyrim Alexa.
DLC and a couple of VR announcements.
And they announced, but showed absolutely nothing of the next Doom, Wolfenstein, as well as the big reveal of nothing but a title for Starfield for some time in the future and the Elder Scrolls VI for some time farther in the future!

People are going crazy because they showed a generic fantasy landscape pan with the series title, not even the title of the game itself, which will come out probably around 2025.  You’re quite literally proving Devolver Digital’s 2017 “sell games before development even starts” gag would be a valid business model.

Grade: C, maybe a C+ for bringing a meme to life.

Games I’m interested in: None at the moment.

 

Devolver Digital

I’m not even going to give a full break down of their presentation because one must experience it. Go find it on YouTube.

Grade: A, much fun, would Devolver again. Looking forward to DEvolv3r 2019 to see the next entry in the Devolver E3 Cinematic Universe.