Tag Archives: Animal Crossing

Here’s a bunch of games I’m looking forward to in 2019

I did this last year, so let’s see how things turned out in the end:

  • Mineko’s Night Market A game about crafting crafts, eating eats, and catting cats was supposed to come out sometime in 2018, but is now tentatively dated for 2019. I’m still interested.
  • Staxel – This, I believe, did hit its release date, but I just never got around to it. I had plenty of other farming games in my collection to keep me distracted, I guess.
  • Ooblets – Speaking of farming, Ooblets is an upcoming farming, creature collection, and town life indie game. This was another “sometime in 2018” game that has now been pushed to this year. I’m super-duper excited for it as it should also be coming to Xbox One.
  • Red Dead Redemption 2 – Well, this obviously hit, and I obviously did not hit it.
  • State of Decay 2 – This was my number 5 game of the year for 2018. I wasn’t in love with the stress of keeping my community afloat, but the wave-based zombie slaughter DLC mode Daybreak provided a good amount of mindless fun. I hope to one day start my community over, now knowing what I now know.
  • The Lord of the Rings LCG – I’m assuming this came out at some point, but I haven’t really looked into it too much. Honestly, I’m more inclined to download and try out Magic: The Gathering – Arena. I like card games, but I don’t have the time, money, or social group anymore to play with real-life cards, so digital is the path forward.
  • Long Gone Days – This also got bumped to 2019 though it has been in Early Access for many months.
  • The Swords of Ditto – I did not get to play this yet, but shortly before 2018 ended, Twitch Prime handed out a free copy of this game, along with many, many others, so no excuses going forward.
  • Legendary Gary – This came out, I requested a review copy, I got a review copy, and I enjoyed it.
  • Knights and Bikes – Still TBA.

Okay, so I still got some tentative 2018 games to check in on this year, along with several other newbies. Namely, these beauts:

The Outer Worlds

The Outer Worlds is a new single-player, first-person, sci-fi RPG from Obsidian Entertainment and Private Division. One of those developers worked on Fallout: New Vegas, so clearly I’m deeply interested from the get-go. Lost in transit while on a colonist ship bound for the furthest edge of the galaxy, you awake decades later only to find yourself in the midst of a deep conspiracy threatening to destroy the Halcyon colony. Sounds like a good time to me.

Stranger Things 3: The Game

Not to be confused with Stranger Things: The Game, which is a retro thingy available on phones and something I have played a tiny bit of. This will be a 16-bit, top-down action game that lets players take control of the series’ main cast throughout the events of the upcoming third season of Netflix’s popular science fiction show. Not much else is currently known.

Animal Crossing

Ah, my entire reasoning for getting a Switch relatively soon–Animal Crossing. I do hope it expands a bit more than Animal Crossing: New Leaf did from Animal Crossing: Wild World. I want even more options when it comes to things to do, with plenty of nifty secrets to discover, like money rocks or stacking fruit. I’m sure I’ll love it either way and will end up sinking the most hours into it of any game I play in 2019. That’s a guarantee.

The Sinking City

The Sinking City is an upcoming adventure-horror video game developed by Frogwares and published by Bigben Interactive, inspired by the works of horror author H.P. Lovecraft. It seems to be heavy on spookiness and atmosphere, and while I don’t play a ton of horror-themed games, this was has me mildly interested.

Pikuniku

I know very little about Pikuniku, but it appears to be Mr. Men: The Videogame. Sort of. By the way, if you really wanted to know, I’m a total duplicate of Mr. Worry, both in shape and color. Anyways, I’m digging the art style, for sure, and it sounds like it’s a puzzle-driven adventure with a focus on physics. Hmm. Curious to see more, and the game comes out at the end of this month. Maybe I’ll get lucky and ask for a review copy.

Rage 2

Trust me, I’m no Rage defender, as I couldn’t believe how abruptly that first game ended, but I liked inclusion of multiple mini-games and the strangeness of the world’s characters. Wasn’t too into the driving, but the shooting felt good, and the environments were kind of neat. Plus, it had a mission bulletin board in the middle of town, which I will always appreciate. The second game seems to be zanier times ten, and we’ll see how it turns out.

Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn

Kirby’s Epic Yarn for the Wii is a game I loved, never finished, and have since lost the disc to, though I have the case and instruction manual, which breaks my yarn-knitted heart. I’m happy to know then that it is heading to the Nintendo 3DS in 2019 under the expanded title of Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn. Every stage in the original Wii version is stitched in, but this handheld version has some new features, like the ability to craft bigger yarn balls, summon bead-collecting wind, and play two new modes featuring familiar faces, namely King Dedede and Meta Knight. I’m ready to drown in its cuteness all over again.

That’s all I can think of at the moment, but I’m sure there’s more to come down the pipeline, plus the ever-surprisingly amount of unheard of indie games to pop up.

What games are you most looking forward to in 2019? Share with me in the comments section below.

Grinding Down’s Top 10 Pumpkins in Gaming

I tried to get this post done long before Halloween hit, but life got in the way, and I got distracted and well, here we are now, a week into November. Thank goodness that November is also a month where pumpkins are totally topical and appropriate, so my post about 10 cool-as-heck pumpkins in videogames remains relevant. Whew. Also, it’s finally beginning to feel like fall here in New Jersey, though I’m sure, like a leaf detaching from a high-up branch and heading gently and quietly to the earth below, its journey will be short and quickly forgotten.

Also, here’s the pumpkins Melanie and I carved a few days before Halloween that almost instantly went moldy due to the high temps here in the Garden State:

I’ll let you figure out which one I did.

And now, some other cool-as-heck pumpkins!

10. King’s Quest

There’s a dark cave full of hungry wolves blocking your progress at one point in that new take on King’s Quest, and to get through it, you need a very strong and bright light to keep the beasts at bay. Eventually, you discovered you can purchase a magical blue ball of fire from the eccentric Hubblepots in town, but need some kind of vessel to hold it. A giant pumpkin from the local garden will do just fine, and it’s both silly and awesome to watch Graham hoist the heavy thing over his head and march through the illuminated cave with newfound confidence.

9. Fallout 4

Fallout 4 is a world without holidays, despite the Christmas surprise, where radiation and destruction are the focus. Still, time exists, and time passes, and you are from a long-lost era where holidays were a big deal, something people centered around and made special. Remember, the bombs dropped around Halloween. The plastic pumpkin is a reminder of a simpler time, of dressing up not to better protect yourself against raiders and swipes from a legendary Deathclaw, but to go door to door and collect candy. There’s not many of them out in the wild, but seeing one still gives me pause. Also, it can be broken down into individual components for use in crafting, so it is not just a piece of cosmetic dressing.

8. Clayfighter

I did not play a ton of ClayFighter in its heyday, being more of a Street Fighter II dabbler and a Mortal Kombat on-looker, but see here, Ickybod Clay is a punderful name for a ghost with a jack-o-lantern head. You just can’t beat that. Also, he can teleport and throw balls of ghost goo at his opponent, which irrefutably makes this is one excellent use of a pumpkin.

7. the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

For some reason, I’ve not come across many pumpkins in my playthrough of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, so I use them fairly infrequently in my cooking sessions. But when I do, the results are always supreme. Here’s a tip: combining them with some type of meat will get you a meat-stuffed pumpkin that can restore a ton of hearts.

6. Final Fantasy VII

Okay, this might be a stretch, because I can’t seem to find any official ruling on whether the hilariously named enemy Dorky Face from Final Fantasy VII is a pumpkin-headed shuttlecock, but it sure does look like a pumpkin-headed shuttlecock to me, and so it is making the list. You fight a bunch of them in the Shinra Mansion in Nibelheim, and their main attack is called “Funny Breath,” which causes confusion. Huh. I wonder if they’ll show up again in the Final Fantasy VII Remake, which is obviously never going to come out.

5. Costume Quest 2

It should come as no surprise that pumpkins are prominent in both Costume Quest and Costume Quest 2, games highly passionate about pumpkin time. I decided to go with the latter title, if only because it is somewhat fresher in my mind because of what I did with it during last year’s Extra Life event. Also, all the Achievement artwork is carved pumpkins.

4. Minecraft

There’s something about a square pumpkin that honestly cracks me up. Thanks, Minecraft. Keep on being square.

3. Borderlands 2

Look, I’ll just come out and admit it, but the only DLC I played for Borderlands 2 was the first one called Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate’s Booty. I had a good time with it and have continued to dabble in the game, but never got any more additional content. Which is a shame, because it sounds like Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep is a lot of fun, and the smaller add-on called T.K. Baha’s Bloody Harvest is ultra-fitting for this post. Zombie T.K. Baha, last seen in a piece of DLC for the original Borderlands which I also did not play, sends players off to fight Jaques O’Lantern, a giant pumpkin boss who gives out new character customizations as rewards for being beaten. Sounds cool to me; however, Borderlands 3/Borderworlds needs a gun that endlessly fires giant, flaming pumpkins. Please make this dream a reality.

2. Stardew Valley

Ugh, I really do need to pick Stardew Valley up again and at least see it through to when grandpa is supposed to visit or whatever. Yet, after completing the community center, I feel like I’ve done the thing. The big thing. Anyways, that’s a topic for another post. Pumpkins are big in the game, especially during the fall season. They grow 13 days after being planted and are one of three crops that might produce a giant crop version, along with cauliflower and melon (see above). After Starfruit, it has the second-highest per unit base price of all the normal crops, which makes it important if you are looking to be rolling in a coin bank. Oh, and you can also make a jack-o-lantern by combining a pumpkin and a torch to keep things spooky year-round.

1. Animal Crossing

Jack, the self-proclaimed Czar of Halloween, is a character from the Animal Crossing series–except for Wild World–who loves candy, naturally. Especially lollipops. He appears once a year for Halloween, from 6:00 PM until 1:00 AM the following day. Jack distributes spooky furniture to the player, which can only be obtained through him, and it is all very orange and pumpkin-themed, and I believe I got every piece for my copy of New Leaf, but it’s been many years now since I played, so I can’t confirm this. I’m also scared to look for fear of getting sucked back in. Either way, he’s a real cool gourd-wearing dude.

I’m sure there are lots of other cool-as-heck pumpkins out there in videogame-land. How about you tell me of the ones you love or think rock. Please do so in the comments, and I’ll try to respond before any of them get moldy and start caving in on themselves.

Ever Oasis, a refuge from the hardness of life

Ever Oasis comes to us from the studio Grezzo and is Koichi Ishii’s latest project, who you might know as the designer who created the Mana series of action, fantasy-based role-playing games, of which I’ve dabbled in Secret of Mana back on the SNES, own an untouched digital copy of the PlayStation 1’s Legend of Mana on my PlayStation 3, and have no further experience with any other games in the series. Boo to that, boo to me. Ishii is also tied to the creation of those adorable Chocobo and Moogle characters, and the Noots found in Ever Oasis, with their rotund figure, feathery eyebrows, and bouncy walks, are sure to become another beloved trademark. Any way you slice it, there’s pedigree here and a whole heap of ambition.

In Ever Oasis, you play as either Tethu or Tethi, a young seedling, who with the help of a water spirit named Esna creates an oasis after your brother’s oasis falls victim to the evil force known as Chaos. I went with Tethi and gave her purple skin. Your main goal is to find more residents that can help fight these Chaos creatures, as well as create a safe and functional oasis for all to live in. That often requires doing specific tasks for wannabe residents and, once they’re in, setting up shops, called bloom booths, for them to sell their wares and keeping those shops well-stocked. Alas, the story is cookie-cutter basic and far from ambitious, yet the character designs are fun and memorable, and seeing a new possible resident show up in your oasis is exciting, even if the most they can offer you is a fetch quest.

However, it’s not enough to build a new oasis in Ever Oasis. No, no, it has to be prosperous, absolutely perfect. You hit this goal by completing missions in dungeons and caves outside the oasis, in the dangerous desert. Players can form a party of up to three characters and battle a range of enemies possessed by Chaos, but more on that in a bit. Dungeons also contain puzzles and treasure chests full of materials needed to restock bloom booths. Shopkeepers with popular products produce dewadems, this realm’s strangely named currency, which you can spend on various things, like building more booths or crafting new weapons/bits of armor. Bloom booths can also be upgraded by re-stocking them and completing quests for their operators.

Something the Mana games all have in common that is also found in Ever Oasis is a seamless, real-time battle system. One nice option is the ability to switch between any of your three party members at any given time, providing options for weapons and abilities, though I have mostly stuck with Tethi. Combat is a mix of light strategy and button-mashing, with an emphasis on rolling away from an enemy’s attack. You yourself have a Normal Attack, a Special Attack, and unlock combos as you level up. Because you can’t move after landing an attack, you want to ensure you don’t leave yourself open for damage; thankfully, so far, all the encountered enemies have a tell just before they lunge at you, which allows you to time your rolls and keep your HP up. One nice bonus of maintaining a healthy and happy oasis is that your health, when out in dungeons, is extended because of this. As more people swarm to your oasis, it grows and levels up, providing you with new crafting recipes and more safety net HP.

There’s little bits and pieces of things I love very much in Ever Oasis, but they are currently not enough to get me jumping for joy. Like, you can plant seeds and assign an unemployed Seedling to tend to your crops, but this is no Stardew Valley or even Disney Magical World 2. The farming aspect seems ultra basic. You plant seeds, you can either spend dewadems to help them grow faster or not, and wait for them to grow. An oasis of loyal and almost-loyal Seedlings sounds lovely, but this is no Animal Crossing, as they don’t have much to say other than their initial questline and just sort of wander down the road aimlessly. Also, the menus are clean and fine, though I found the section on main quests to be lacking; I want to be able to select a quest as a priority over others and have it drop the necessary waypoints on my map screen or at least see how I’m progressing towards it.

I do worry that Ever Oasis will turn into a grind, something I’m beginning to see as I prepare to throw my first festival, which first requires obtaining a number of stamps from happy shopkeepers. I’ll keep at it for the near future because I simply cannot fall back down the wormhole that is upping my completion rate in Disney Magical World 2, which would basically require me to craft a ton of princess dresses and outfits for girls.

Happy Home Designer gently puts you to work

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I stopped playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf on May 5, 2014. That’s two days after my favorite villager Sylvia’s birthday. I missed her party. I meant to go all out and get her every gorgeous, pink item I could find, wrapping each up in special paper to make her day all the more memorable. Instead, I blanked and didn’t even show. With panicky fingers, I visited her only to discover her entire home in boxes, ready to be picked up and moved by a service of muscles. She was leaving me. I tried my everything to convince her to stay, but it was too late–she was unmovable. Or rather, completely movable.

It was hard to step away from Animal Crossing: New Leaf, a game which still to this day sits at the top of my Nintendo 3DS stats as my most played game, with only a few others creeping near it. And yet, Sylvia’s departure from my town, as well as her finally giving in and presenting me with her portrait only a few weeks before, unfolded right around the time my marriage was concluding. Two lives ending in unison, and me, standing still, scared and uncertain of what I could do. Thankfully, to help ease the nights, another game swooped in and stole all my attention.

Well, Happy Home Designer is not another full-blown Animal Crossing title, and that’s fine. I’m not ready to commit once more. Instead, it takes elements from the main series, specifically the home decoration aspect, and expands it into a full-time job for your character, who is no longer mayor of the town, but once again another employee of that nefarious rascal Tom Nook. As the newest designer at Nook’s Homes, you’re given the power to create homes, yards, and other buildings, inside and out, with the main goal of making your animal client friends happy. You can help out one client or building request from Isabelle per day–that’s in-game per day, not real life–and before you call it a night, you can spend Play Coins to study your handbook and acquire new blueprints, items, and other decorative thingies for future use.

For some people, decorating is not the siren’s call of the Animal Crossing series. They might prefer fishing and collecting bugs, selling beetles from the tropical island for a large amount of Bells, or doing all the community requests around your village. Or perhaps you really got into designing outfits. There’s also working at the cafe. I think the great thing about Animal Crossing is that it is wide open, and you can love what you love and go deep on it without completely pushing everything else out of the way. For instance, when my sister Jules was playing, she made a great effort to breed all the rarer flowers and enforced a strict “no running” rule when I’d visit her town.

For myself, I really enjoyed expanding and decorating my home, both in Animal Crossing: Wild World and Animal Crossing: New Leaf. I’ve gone to great strides to get rare furniture before. For the most part, I’d pick a theme for a room and work towards collecting items that were either officially part of the theme, like astro furniture only, or somehow related, like a meteor or toy rocketship to place in the corner. The struggle sometimes was finding all the pieces of furniture, which relied on the daily luck of the shop, the generosity of your neighbors, and whether or not you had a friend who could visit and dump everything you need at your tiny, pointy feet. Thankfully, Happy Home Designer gives you a large amount of the furniture objects to you right from the get-go, so you can attack your client’s house with all you have and not be restrained by things like missing lamps or using a chair that obviously clashes with the aesthetic.

Or, if you want, and this is something I don’t ever want, you can go against your client’s wishes and run amok in terms of design and feng shui. For instance, say a squirrel wants a forest-themed house, but you decide to fill it up with pink princess furniture, robots, and all things not related to the forest. As far as I can tell, the job will still get done, and the client might be okay with it. There doesn’t seem to be any penalty for going outside the box, but I prefer to accomplish what the buyer is paying for. I mean, you’ll still get something to eat if you order a hot dog and get a hamburger instead, but that doesn’t mean you’re one hundred percent satisfied with the course of action.

I’ll never stop moaning and groaning over the severe lack of Play Coin integration during the lifetime of the Nintendo 3DS, but the Animal Crossing series has at least tried here and there. In this one, before you clock out for the day and count some sheep that hopefully look nothing like Pietro, you can spend Play Coins, ranging from one to five (so far), to upgrade your decorating abilities and the items available to you, as well as other functions. Like, now I can change my avatar’s skin tone and hairstyle in the boutique section upstairs at Nook’s Homes. Also, I have every gyroid possible, simply at a fingertip’s reach. Same with famous pieces of art.

Now, you’ll recall I had a bad case of epic fail last time I went to GameStop. Well, seems like there was still some in my system when I went to purchase Happy Home Designer with a Christmas gift card. Speaking of cards, there are special amiibo cards for this game that allow you to personally invite celebrities like Tortimer and DJ KK to Main Street and help construct a home for them. Since I have a regular ol’ launch Nintendo 3DS, I asked the young man behind the counter if the amiibo cards would still work or if they only worked on the New Nintendo 3DS, which remains a terrible name to this day. I mean, there’s only one copy of the game, and the game itself comes with a card, so I hoped they would work no matter where you ended up playing it. The GameStop employee told me they would work. Got home, played for a bit, unlocked the amiibo phone, and nope–they do not. I’d have to buy some sort of electronic reader for $19.99 to get them to work, and I already spent enough money on the game and cards themselves that I’m annoyed by the whole process, so forget it.

I’m not playing Happy Home Designer every day like I did for Animal Crossing: New Leaf when I first got it and then for many, many months thereafter. Instead, I’m chipping away at it, doing a client’s request or a job from Isabelle, and then calling it a night. That’s fine. It’s a leisurely game about making animals happy, and making animals happy makes me happy, so this is how I get my fix when needed. However, I am curious to know how long this whole business plan lasts because, eventually, I will run out of clients and things to do.

See you next year at Festivale, Pavé

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Everyone plays Animal Crossing: New Leaf differently, and that’s a scientific fact, proven by science. Or me just assuming. One of those two. Some people make a bee-line for each and every bell, in hopes of paying off their entire house before focusing on anything else. Others tackle one Public Works project after the other, sprucing up the look and originality of their town, and then there are those that put all their energy into getting every fish, bug, and fossil they come across. I’m all of those people at varying times, but last night I did something I’ve never done before in an Animal Crossing adventure–I grinded.

First, let me talk a bit about snowflakes and Snowmam. During the winter, you can build four different types of snowpeople by rolling specific-sized snowballs into each other. There’s a Snowman, Snowmam, Snowboy, and Snowtyke. Each gives you special pieces of furniture and wallpaper in their own distinct way. I went through the entire winter season never getting anything from a Snowboy or Snowtyke, but the Snowman plays BINGO with you, giving you something once you hit five numbers in a row. As for the Snowmam, she asks you to collect falling snowflakes and in return gives you a piece of Ice furniture. I did this for a while, but only got a few pieces before I lost interest in the tediously simple process and stuck with playing BINGO, which, while annoying at times, at least kept things unexpected.

Well, whatever. Winter is over, but only in Animal Crossing: New Leaf. There’s still plenty of snow and cold temperatures outside in Pennsylvania to argue otherwise. Bring on Festivale, which is a spring event that happens in February or March, depending on the year. It mirrors Mardi Gras and Carnival, a holiday celebrated worldwide. Pavé the peacock hosts the event in front of the Town Tree. As it is an all-day festival of color, costumes, and craziness, there is no snow or rain during the entire day. Confetti constantly falls from the sky, and if you look close enough, you can see colored feathers in the mix. Bring enough of a specific color to Pavé, usually three, and he’ll reward you with an item from the Pavé series of furniture. If you find a rare rainbow-colored feather, all you have to do is bring him one of those to get an item. Also, you can interact with your villagers to trade feathers or win them in mini-games, such as charades and rock, paper, scissors.

Now, I totally missed out on both the Harvest Festival and Toy Day due to the fact that both of those fall on the respective U.S. holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas, and that time is spent traveling and drinking wine and being full of food. By the time I had turned on my 3DS, the events were all over–which is a shame. And not. But it is heart-twisting to miss out on these special moments and the chance to earn some rare pieces of furniture. And so I decided to make the most out of Festivale as I could, running up and down and all around Arni in search of the specific feathers, trading when I can, and dumping not needed items on the ground to save inventory space. It’s actually harder than it sounds, as the feather drop rate–slowly falling rate?–is low, and you can never predict who has what color of feathers and are willing to trade. Seemed like any time I had three of one color, Pavé wanted three of a completely different shade. I’d say I put a total of three hours of devotion into this grinding task and came away with about half of the Pavé items for it.

Here’s a list of what I ultimately earned:

  • Pavé Bed
  • Pavé Bookshelf
  • Pavé Bureau
  • Pavé Chair
  • Pavé Chest
  • Pavé Closet
  • Pavé End Table
  • Pavé Floor
  • Pavé Lamp
  • Pavé Sofa
  • Pavé Table
  • Pavé Wall
  • Pavé Clock

Grr. Waah. I think I have duplicates of the Pavé chair and table if anyone wants to trade. Otherwise, I gotta wait a whole year now to try again, and that stinks as I also happen to really love the look of this series. It has a sort of retro kitchen cabin-like look to it, with the blue and white. I’d save the multitude of feathers I still have in my pockets, but my storage space is actually quite limited as is, so I think I’ll save a green feather to wear and sell the rest. Oh well. Until next time, you beautiful picture of a peacock!

Back into the wild to remember which Pokemon I liked

I haven’t posted my haiku review of it yet, but I “beat” Professor Layton’s London Life the other night. And, of course, in an Animal Crossing-esque mini-game made up of fetch quests only, beating the thing is not a terribly difficult mountain climb, but rather a nice walk around the park until the sun goes down and it is time to head home lest a shadowcat eviscerate you. And I sure did take my time, as I’ve been chipping away at fixing Little London’s problems since November 2011. But it’s over. Surprisingly major crisis averted, minute problems of every townsperson resolved, happiness earned, and credits scrolled. The actual main plot through and through is a bit silly and confusing, but I’ll save that for another post. Dangerously, after the credits are done and some ineffectual text plays, I am dropped back into London Life to continue doing all the tiny tasks again and again and again, which is fine, really. But I wanted to play something else for a change.

All of this is to say I took out the Professor Layton and the Last Specter cartridge from my Nintendo 3DS…and replaced it with Pokemon White, a game I haven’t touched in over a year. Shocking, I know. I basically got all the way up to the final fight (or series of fights) and couldn’t beat a certain tier, which meant blatant amounts of grinding, something I wasn’t interested in at the time. And I then put the game aside and forgot about it. Obviously.

But I’m back, and boy was my first few minutes disorienting. First of all, I guess I last saved my progress within some shopping mall, but one that also contained trainers ready to fight. Y’know, not exactly a safe zone, like a health center or neighborhood house. Not knowing this, I immediately went to chat with a young woman nearby. Her name was…Waitress Flo, and she wanted to kick my butt; I guess I had forgotten to previously leave her a nice tip. Alas, many of my Pokemon were weak and low on health, so I had to scrape by. As soon as the fight ended, I got the bleep out of there and took some time to re-learn the menus and what items I had, as well as familiarize myself with my team of pocket monsters.

Only three stood out as memorable, the ones I’ve used since the dawn of time, and the other three felt immediately like space-fillers. But anyways, yeah. My trio of attackers included the following:

The problem is that these are my only heavy hitters, and after they fall, I don’t have anyone else strong enough to take their places. So now I am looking around my storage box for three worthy contenders, and then I guess I will grind them up to the mid-forties or low fifties via Victory Road and hope that I can take down the Ferocious Four (or whatever they are called) in one fell swoop. If anything, the time spent grinding will help me get back into the groove of the game, as well as continue to grow Trashy into the biggest, baddest pile of punching trash you ever did see. I told the world I’d beat Pokemon White with garbage, and I plan to see that promise come to fruition.

The newest Professor Layton game is undeniably Laytonesque

It’s been a long time since I’ve played a Professor Layton game, and that’s probably because I’ve only ever played one before, way back in like early 2008. Professor Layton and the Curious Village was a surprise hit in my eyes, a weird mix of puzzles and top-notch animation and genuine mystery and intrigue. Heck, I even used it as evidence to get a girl I was seeing then to buy a Nintendo DS Lite. I played it more for the story than anything else, but the puzzles were varied and kept me thinking, even if the math-heavy ones were too tough for my artistic brain. If anything, this series oozes charm, which always keeps me interested, and so I eagerly sought the latest iteration, Professor Layton and the Last Specter, the fourth title overall and yet a prequel to that first adventure over uncovering the golden apple.

Plus, the newest game comes with a bonus RPG/Animal Crossing sim-like thing called Professor Layton’s London Life, which is extremely adorable and charming and shockingly deep. More on that in a bit.

Dropping back into the world of Professor Layton was a warm, welcoming experience. The music, the look of buildings and cars, the animated character designs, his trunk-space–nothing had changed, and that’s a good thing. It felt like only days had then passed between this new adventure and our last outing. Even the sounds puzzles and hint coins make when found are constant.

The story so far: Professor Layton receives a letter from an old friend; in it, Clark, the mayor of Misthallery, codes a secret message, a desperate plea for help against a giant ravaging the town and townspeople to tears. Off goes the professor, picking up an assistant, too. Her name is Emmy, and she seems to know more about the professor than is necessary. Once in Misthallery, it becomes clear that more craziness is at work, with locals whispering about an oracle and specter. Puzzle-wise, I’ve tackled seven or eight now, and the hardest one was math-based and about mops. I hate mops. Other than that, one of the three minigames in Layton’s trunk unlocked, and I’ve learned just how Layton and Luke meet for the first time. Neat-o!

In Professor Layton’s London Life, you don’t actually play as Hersel Layton. Instead, you are you…or whoever you want to be. You can design your avatar to your liking, as well as picking a defining trait too–I went with shy and, well, something I can’t remember. Good cook? Sexy swagger? Moves like Jagger? Whatever, no biggie. In fact, nothing is big in this realm, as developer Brownie Brown nails the look of an old-school RPG with tiny sprites that are still instantly recognizable as characters from other Layton games. You pick up miscellaneous tasks and focus more on clothing, items for your room, and getting a job; in this way, it’s more Animal Crossing than an RPG, but there’s stats to clothing and some other grindy elements. Right now, Little London Pauly is wearing a red beret, a blue scarf, and some kickin’ pants. He’s also a janitor.

Both games are currently trying to out-charm one another, and I’m struggling with which to play more of first. It’s actually not a problem at all.