Living a Childhood Dream

(Note: A�A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, a father and his two sons pretended that they were heroes in the Star Wars universe. A�They became friends, defeated Storm Troopers, saved the day, and lived happily ever after. A�Well, not entirely…)

I mentioned in my last article that being a gamer dad requires delicate balance sometimes. A�That article dealt mostly with the struggle to keep them away from games that are inappropriate for their age. A�This introduction represents the same struggle, though from a different point of view.

Several years ago, I found myself in one of the local gaming stores. A�I don’t remember the exact reason for this particular visit. A�At the time, I was just getting back into the swing of tabletop gaming and A�often went into the store simply to browse all of the golden oldies I remembered and the newbies I wanted to try. A�During this trip, a particular newbie stood out from the rest. A�I reached onto the shelf and pulled off Star Wars: A�Edge of the Empire RPG.

Look at all that cool stuff!
Look at all that cool stuff!

A couple of factors went into my decision to check out that particular game. A�First, I have fond memories of playing the Star Wars RPG with friends. A�If that had been the only reason, I’d have grabbed any of the D&D books because we played that much more often than Star Wars. A�Aside from childhood memories, though closely related, the kids had discovered Star Wars through Lego games and the movies. A�Inspired by their interest and my own nostalgia, I decided right then to buy the game.

I didn’t actually buy the game, of course. A�I’m the jerk who does my research at the local store only to purchase everything through an online retailer, most notably Amazon. A�Free shipping and a complete lack of human contact are appealing to a cheap and antisocial gamer like me. A�So, I ended up buying the game on Amazon.

More corporate shillery in a desperate and blatant attempt at picking up a sponsorship.
More corporate shillery in a desperate and blatant attempt at picking up a sponsorship.

Unfortunately, neither of the boys showed any interest as they were both very young at the time. A�Still, the game looked fun and I put it away in the hopes that they might grow into the role, so to speak. A�It took them a couple of years, but they did me proud. A�Liam found the game one day and said, “This game looks fun, Dad. A�We should play it.” A�Well, you don’t have to ask me twice. A�The chance to play RPGs with a group of friends and/or family comes so rarely that I jump at the chance. A�(See the now defunct Roll 20 group that never even got started.) A�Not only did the three of us sit down to start and learn the game, we made it about halfway through the starter adventure.

The box set worked perfectly as an introduction int these types of games. A�There were premade characters in familiar Star Wars archetypes (Droid, Wookie, Smuggler) so we did not have to spend any time doing that and could get right into the adventure. A�The action started right away. A�Too often these intro adventures put you in a tavern and you have to spend more time getting to know your adventuring partners on top of spending time creating those characters. A�True, this one was in a cantina, the Star Wars version of a tavern, but immediately Gamorrean guards busted in and the action began.

When the pig men show up, you know it is about to become a party.
When the pig men show up, you know it is about to become a party.

That action took the form of rolling dice as is usually the case in these types of games. A�However, instead of numbered dice, the game uses symbols for success and failure. A�There are also other symbols that can lead to overwhelming success or catastrophic failure and the game does a good job of introducing these and giving ideas of how to incorporate them into the storytelling aspect.

Being a writer of books and articles that are ready by virtually nobody, the evolving stories of these games are what hook me and keep me playing. A�Thankfully, both of the boys inherited some of that creativity and they helped to keep things moving. A�They were also silly at times as only kids can be and they had me cracking up with their own and their character’s antics. A�I look forward to finishing the adventure.

We had to press pause on saving the galaxy–well, really, we were saving ourselves so that maybe some day we can help save the galaxy–for some mundane reason or another. A�I might have had to cook dinner. A�Maybe we just reached our limits as adventurers and needed to rest after all that excitement. A�Whatever the reason, the session left me wanting more.

 

We still have to escape this fat guy so that we don't end up in one of those metal Princess Leia bikinis.  Trust me, it wouldn't be pretty.
We still have to escape this fat guy so that we don’t end up in one of those metal Princess Leia bikinis. Trust me, it wouldn’t be pretty.

Not only do we have the final showdown to get transport off the planet, but there are other adventures to discover. A�In fact, one is mentioned to be available on the web page for the game but I haven’t been able to find it. A�(Update: A�Google saves the day again! A�I found it.) A�In addition, I suggested the idea of getting together with Dereck (one of the failed Roll20 companions) and his kids since they are friends with our kids, too, for a big friends and family group that can expand into other games as the boys get older. A�Liam has already inquired about D&D, which makes me happy. A�I enjoy other RPGs, but always come back to that one as my favorite. A�Heck, my ongoing (and currently in remission) addiction to World of Warcraft is no doubt fueled by its similarities to D&D.

I feel her subtle whisper in my ear once again as winter approaches.
I feel her subtle whisper in my ear once again as winter approaches.

I haven’t looked at the D&D beginner box set because I already own so much product that I can’t justify another purchase. A�Therefore, I can’t comment on the quality. A�However, if you have a curious new role player looking to learn about the genre, the Star Wars: A�Edge of the Empire set is an excellent place to start. A�I remember talking to Chris and he said that he went into Barnes and Noble to look for a starter book for D&D and was overwhelmed by it all. A�This cuts through all of that to provide everything needed to pretend to live in A�your favorite galaxy far, far away.

And, get hyped…

Season of Change

Well guys and gals, it’s been 14 months..14 months of article writin’, podcast recordin’, gamin’ fun…and as with most good things,A� it has to come to an end.A�A� Hold on! Get off that ledge! 2 Guys Gaming is not going away! The only thing that is going away is the current format of our podcast.A� Starting next month, I will be stepping down from my role has co-host/ comic relief, and will hand the reins to Shawn’s sons, as 2 Guys Gaming will become Noob and Sons.A� I know, it’s terribly heartbreaking that you won’t hear myA� half-baked thoughts and excessive cursing for an hour anymore, but it’s for the best, l promise you.A� The podcast will now be released on a regular basis.A� If you have been with us since the beginning you know that this huge as this time of year is killer for us.A� Between jobs, family obligations, and other unforeseen events that seem to happen only around the holidays, we have been less than perfect with sticking to a podcast release schedule.

Why you ask?

Believe it or not,A� we are not roommates. We live about 35-40 minutes away from each other, so it’s difficult to plan a time that works for both us where we can record our wonderful podcast AND do some much-needed gaming.A� So typically once a month we get together for about 4-5 hours to get our gaming fix and record the show. During this season, even once a month is almost impossible. We are lucky if we even get one game of Left 4 Dead or Dice Masters in from September to December.A� Typically we only get together on my birthday in late December..but there is alcohol flowing freely and you don’t want a microphone in front of us then…things get…dark.A� So rather than going without a podcast for 4 months, we decided that this change was necessary.A� Yes, we decided. A� No TMZ worthy feud to see here. A� It’s what was needed to be done to ensure that you guys are getting new content.A� Shawn and his boys are more than up to the challenge. This podcast has always been Shawn’s..I’ve just been keeping the seat warm for his sons.A� Make me proud guys.

As for me, my erratic writing schedule and I will still be around on this website and from time to time I will beA� a guest on the podcast. So you haven’t heard the last of me.A� To all of you that listen to the 2 Guys Gaming podcast, thanks for the support, it’s been fun to yap at you about games.A� Now keep your eyes and ears open for the debut of Noob and Sons.

 

<Drops the mic>

 

-Blond (Chris)

Who ya gonna call?

(Editor’s Note: A�With the (un)official status of 2 Guys Gaming very much up in the air, Christine suggested that I do a podcast with the boys. A�Be on the lookout for Episode 1 of Noob and Sons, most likely tomorrow.)

Being a gamer dad can sometimes be a delicate balancing act. A�When the children were very young, I only had time to game when they were asleep. A�Thankfully, babies and toddlers take a lot of naps and ours were even very good about sleeping through the night very quickly. A�Even with the care I took to shield them from the more violent games, Liam still stumbled on Dead Rising. A�I don’t know how or when he saw me playing, but he made a very specific reference to running over zombies with a lawnmower. A�Christine gave me a look and I could only respond with, “I have no idea.” A�After that, I took more of a precaution by putting our games and movies away from the kids. A�They have since again discovered our horror collection because they are tall enough to reach the shelves, but we are much more prepared as parents to deal with the situation.

Mowing though zombies: may not be suitable for 3 year old children.
Mowing though zombies: may not be suitable for 3 year old children.

We still don’t let them play or watch overly mature games or movies, but they are getting to the ages where their friends or classmates will mention Halo, Counter Strikes, or Modern Warfare. A�Heck, they’ve even made up a zombie tag game that they play together. A�To his credit, Liam has my attitude on FPS war games and thinks they’re really stupid. A�Aiden will be tougher to keep in the dark. A�He is already asking to watch Michael Jackson’s Thriller and The movie Halloween.

I can't wait until Liam discovers Fat Albert and we can have two really awkward conversations in a couple of years.
I can’t wait until Liam discovers Fat Albert and we can have two really awkward conversations in a couple of years.

Granted, he only knows about the John Carpenter version, not the decidedly more questionable Rob Zombie Remake. A�Not that he’ll be watching either any time soon, but I’d really rather not he be exposed to Rob Zombie’s particular brand of film making…well, at all, to be honest. A�So, if he must know about one of them, I suppose that the original is safer. A�Yes, I did just attempt to justify one version of a movie about a homicidal maniac as more acceptable for my 8 year old.

So, while we have kept them mostly away from the less kid friendly elements of gaming, they have taken to games in a big way. A�Kindle games, DS games, computer games, card games, and now even role playing games have gotten their interest. A�We have enjoyed playing many of these games as a family and it has led to a potentially different direction for the website and podcast.

When A�realized that October would be the first episode of “Noob and Sons”, I tried to think of games with a Halloween theme. A�Since the podcast is now all ages, I wanted these games to be kid friendly. A�As you may have deduced, the video games that I play often fall into one or the other of those categories, but rarely both. A�So, it was a bit of a challenge until inspiration hit like a flash as it often does. A�There was a game that the boys loved so much that they tried to emulate it by pretending to be characters in the game and play acting various scenes from the game. A�I’m not positive, but they may have even written their own skits involving Luigi and his ghost busting vacuum. A�Naturally, our first topic for the Digital Playground is Luigi’s Mansion.

It's a me...Green Mario!
It’s a me…Green Mario!

I feel the need to disclose that this review (and much of our podcast discussion) revolves around Dark Moon for the 3DS. A�I played the original version for about 45 minutes to an hour, but I am hooked on Dark Moon. A�I only planned to play a little bit so that I didn’t sound like a total moron (what stopped me this time, you might ask) on the podcast and I’m now trying to beat the final boss level on the 3rd world. A�That’s not going so well right now and I’m taking a bit of a break after tossing the 3DS in frustration, but I’ll be back and ready to fail some more soon enough.

I will start there. A�This can be a challenging game. A�Not only are the boss battles sometimes hard, but more than once I found myself wandering through the mansion with absolutely no idea what to do next. A�A couple of times, I finally just gave up and asked the Google machine for help. A�Hey, I’m not proud. A�I will cheat at a kid’s game, too!

The Google Machine. It looks shockingly like a level from Super Mario 64. No wonder it is so helpful with these games.
The Google Machine. It looks shockingly like a level from Super Mario 64. No wonder it is so helpful with these games.

As I mentioned, in spite of the sometimes dastardly design of the game, you’ll get hooked. A�The story is interesting and entertaining enough to keep you wondering and coming back for more. A�Cheesy humor keeps the mood light and not too scary in spite of subject matter of ghosts and hauntings. A�To their credit, they don’t shy away from the spook factor even though it is a kids game. A�Don’t get me wrong, it’s not scary on the level of Silent Hill or Fatal Frame, but it sets the right mood.

The music helps to set that tone with a catchy and memorable melody that is just melancholy and moody enough to keep you on your toes and you explore unfamiliar territory. A�You are constantly on the lookout for what will trigger the next ghost event. A�Once you know them, you tread lightly and carefully through the room in anxious anticipation of the inevitable “Boo!” moment. A�Sometimes the “Boo” moment involves an actual Boo for you to capture.

By the way, good luck in getting that song out of your head now. A�Getting back to the topic, the Boos in the game are only one of a number of different secrets in the game for you to collect. A�If I ever beat the clock part that has me almost swearing and accidentally tossing the 3DS to complete the game, there is plenty to bring me back to the game and try for that 100%. A�In the interest of “no spoilers”, I won’t mention what they are, but trust me when I say that the replay value is high.

Overall, Dark Moon is a fun game full of spooky surprises. A�While intended for kids, some parts are challenging even for adults. A�Secrets galore will sustain the game through several playthroughs. A�Even after finishing the game and finding those secrets, you might be tempted to go for 3 stars on all levels and compete for best scores, times, etc. A�If you’ve never played the game, now is the perfect time with Halloween right around the corner.

Rapid Fire: Random Thoughts Vol.3

Hey guys and gals! It’s time for another brilliantly written edition of Rapid Fire! ….. <cough>…moderately well written?

-I really should have bought 2 boxes of Zendikar. Or at the very least, a box and a fat pack.A� I’ve found out the hard way that Full Art Lands + Expedition Lands = Sold Out.A� I guess I should just be happy that I was able to walk into Off the Wall games and buy a box without a preorder on the release day.

-As for the box..My notable pulls were: Ob Nixilis, Ulamog (or Newlamog as Shawn is fond of calling it), Canopy Vista, Cinder Glade,A� Shambling Vent, Greenwarden of Murasa, Oblivion Sower, Bring to Light, Ruinous Path, a foil Omnath, Locus of Rage and a couple of foil full art lands.A� Not too shabby. I really just wanted the Ulamog for my Tron deck,A� so I was very happy with the box.

-Has anyone seen the new Heroes series, Heroes Reborn? No? Lucky.A� Of all of the super powers they could have gone with,A� they basically copy the original series’ characters’ powers, and then add in some whack-a-doo power where the character draws a sword and is teleported into a video game. Yeah.A� You know what my power is? Seeing into the future…you know what’s not there? This show.

-Am I the only 35 year old that watches Teen Titans Go?A� I don’t care..that show is funny as hell.

-Dusted off the Playstation One and started a new game of Final Fantasy V.A� Forgot how addicting that game is..if I only I had more time to devote to it.A� Gone are the days of being a teenager with no responsibilities who can sit around playing an RPG for 9 hours a day.A� Damn real world.

-Anyone see Fear the Walking Dead?A� Terrible. Just terrible.A� Spin-off cash grab.

-Finally got to see what a Splinter Twin deck can do..too bad I was on the receiving end of it.A� Unfortunately for me,A� total beat-down in game 1.A� Unfortunately for him, I played a Kilnmouth Dragon and flashed an entire hand of dragons, making it a 17/17 beatstick in game 2.A� Then game 3 happened and made that beat-down I suffered in game 1 look like a friendly massage.A� Stupid infinite combo.<Sigh>…I’ll always have game 2…

 

That’s it for this edition of Rapid Fire! Thanks for reading and as always, feel free to leave us a comment below!