Tag Archives: Target

30 Days of Gaming, #11 – Gaming system of choice


This one was a no-brainer despite loving many various systems over the years. In fact, I find my experience with console and portable gaming systems to be interesting, if nothing short of a mixed bag. I grew up on neighbor’s NES and then my own SNES (Nintendo fanboy), then saved up my money as a young lad by scooping ice cream, busing tables, and doing clerical work for a PlayStation and PlayStation 2 (Sony fanboy), and then ended up doing a bunch of cartoon commission work (I drew cartoons of all the authors, not the cover art in case you were curious) to get enough money for an Xbox 360 (Microsoft fanboy) when I was in my mid-20s. Along the way I also had a GameBoy, a Nintendo DS, and now a Nintendo 3DS. This is more than just a roll call, as I want it to be clear that I’ve dabbled in multiple videogame pools. Which one reigns supreme? Why, the one with the double screen.

My journey to getting a DS started on a whim; one day, I just decided to go get one, and so off I went, and to demonstrate what happens next I’m posting some comics from the MyLifeComics archive:

Wow, I can’t believe I got this thing like four years ago.

So I picked up a newly minted Nintendo DS Lite, a copy of Mario Kart DS, and an extra charger. I was unaware that the system itself came with a charger in its box so now I have two. Wee. Thanks, mindless Target employee for the tip. Upon arriving home in my teeny tiny studio apartment, I curled up in my comfy chair, flipped the system’s lid open, turned it on, and heard–for the very first time–a sound that would soon provide me with comfort, stability, friendship, and sanity. It went like doo-doou-doooooo. I quickly got the feel for the system thanks to some heated online races in Mario Kart DS, and slowly grew my collection, picking up a range of titles from Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin to Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords to Flash Focus. There is literally a game genre for everyone. But the system wouldn’t hit home for awhile until I discovered its not-so-dirty secret: it loved roleplaying games.

Obviously, I’m a huge fan of RPGs, and over the years the DS has put up an excellent fight against the PlayStation 2 for the trophy of MOST RPGS EVER. Seriously, you can’t flick a stylus at a GameStop shelf without hitting a Nintendo DS RPG these days. And besides RPGs, the system has a slew of gaming experiences you can find nowhere ese: Professor Layton’s puzzles and hidden coins, Picross 3D‘s mind-numbing puzzles, The World Ends With You and its duel-screen action, Scribblenauts with its wordy fun, and so on. Many skeptics believed that the touchscreen was just a gimmick, that it wouldn’t work, but they all turned out to be wrong; it’s fun to touch the screen with the stylus, to control things and move them around, or flick them away.

Gaming on the go is a great idea, and this is literally that. The Nintendo DS Lite is perfect for pockets, with a good battery life and not being too heavy; the same cannot be said about its “upgrade,” the Nintendo 3DS. Ever since I graduated college, I’ve found myself constantly in my car, constantly traveling, constantly being away from all my creature comforts. Packing up the Xbox 360 every time I went down to my parents’ house was always a pain. Thankfully, with the Nintendo DS, I was able to bring a piece of gaming with me wherever I went.

This system of choice is also important to me for another reason. Seeing me play it so much and so often–and with such glee–convinced my mother to get one. I let her try out some of the minigames from the New Super Mario Bros. DS as we flew out to Arizona over the holidays to see my sister, and she fell in love with tapping the screen, especially during the minigame where you had to move colored bob-ombs into specific cages. Arriving in Arizona, we immediately headed out to a nearby Target (again with the Target!) to get her one. About a day later, my sister Bitsy also got one, and here’s the two of them at the zoo, “DSing it up” as I called it:

The Nintendo DS connected me with my sister and mom in a strange, new way, one that I never imagined. With Bitsy, we bonded over Animal Crossing: Wild World, entering each other’s worlds and sending each other gifts; it helped bridge the distance from Arizona to New Jersey, and was a nice thing to constantly keep up on each other over. For my mother, well…it opened up new branches of conversation. She checked Amazon for new games or asked me to keep an eye out for any titles she’d like; her favorites were puzzlers, the hidden objects kind, where the story was forgettable, but finding baseballs and irons and handcuffs in a jungle scene was amazingly addicting; she always wanted me to play the game she just beat, or help her past a tough part of her current one.

As human beings, we develop attachments to many things: people, places, smells, sounds, tastes, everything. It’s inevitable. And it’s not silly for me to feel such a connection to my DS Lite, which has, unfortunately, not gotten as much love over the past few weeks with the 3DS in the limelight. I will return to it, surely. Just writing this makes me feel guilty for such neglect. This mesh of circuit boards and chips and plastic bits and screens and d-pad that hurts my thumb after awhile has always been there for me, and in return I have treated it well. When that charge me red light comes on, I hop to it. I always place it in its carrying case, an early birthday gift for me from my mother, and I would never in a million years trade it in for money or store credit or the answer to the universe and everything else, no matter what. The Nintendo DS is my favorite gaming system, and will remain so for as long as I can make it happen. Please bury me with it.

Here’s how the Dragon Quest IX meet-up party went down

I had it all planned out.

My car, Bullet, is due for inspection this month of August. It’s very first inspection, actually, and since the beginning of the spring I’ve noticed my steering wheel shaking a lot when I’d tap the brakes after doing 50 mph or higher. Kinda scary, most likely an attribute that could get Bullet failed. So I decided to bring it over to the mall and drop it off for some maintenance work. No biggie, because this was also the day that Nintendo-sponsored Dragon Quest IX event parties were happening nationwide in GameStops high and low. I’d just bring my DS with me and kill some time that way…while also grabbing a rare treasure map. That’s all I cared about; sorry fellow DQIXers, but I don’t want to go co-op questing with you.

So, the event, which I only knew about from the Internet and even then knew very little about it, was to start at 12 and go to about 4:00 in the afternoon. I had about an hour or so to blah-blah away so I went into the mall, found a comfy couch, and sat down to grind for XP and alchemy items. I must have been playing for about 30 minutes before I looked up and to my left. This is what I saw:

I laughed out loud. The old lady across from me sneered.

Noon hit, I entered Tag Mode and put my DS in my pocket, and then shuffled over to the nearest GameStop, hoping to pick up the map or tag some random adventurers and then get out quick. There was no one in the store. I felt kind of odd just going up and down the aisles. Eventually, I left, returned to the couch, and checked my DS to see how much awesomeness I had downloaded: 0%. Ouch.

Tara and her mom were coming back past the mall after doing her wedding gown fitting at David’s Bridal so we all had lunch together. I nom nommed on a Subway sandwich and also heard back from the car place; my drum rotor needed fixing and it would probably be completed by 3:00. Tara’s mom left to head home, and then Tara and I took a walk around the mall, eventually heading back to that GameStop from before (note: this mall has two GameStops, one on the first floor and one on the second floor, and it seems a bit overdone if you ask me). I asked the guy behind the counter if they were participating in the Dragon Quest IX meet-up party event thing, and his expression showed pure confusion. He had no idea. Looking up stuff online, which took a bit because they don’t actually have full Internet browsers there, he learned that the GameStop outside the mall and down by Walmart was the one hosting an event. Ah…okay.

I figured if I didn’t get there and get the silly little map then no biggie. It’s just a game. Tara and I then headed over to PetSmart (or is it PetsMart?) because they were having an adoption day. So many adorable dogs and cats, and if I had the room and time and money to care for them, I’d catch adopt ’em all. Then we hit up Target for a bit, finally making our way back to Sears to see how my car was doing; it was done, almost exactly at 3:00, as if magic was at work.

Sheepishly, I asked my fiancée something like this, “Can we just stop real quick at the other GameStop so I can get this DQ map? I’m sorry you’re marrying a little boy.”

She said yes. It has to be clear why I love her so much, right?

This GameStop was much more active, and it was obvious from stepping inside that an event of some sort was happening. I entered Tag Mode in my car before coming in, and as soon as I checked it I saw I had canvassed a guest named NOA1. A Nintendo rep in a blue slime shirt came over, explained what to do next after bringing in NOA1 to my inn, and chatted a bit about the event so far. He said some kids came in earlier with all LV 99 characters; my LV 26 Hadwynnn openly weeped. After getting the treasure map, the rep gave me a poster and some stickers. Tara and I left after that because, as I mentioned before, I was just there for the map and not really to socialize, but it looked like there was plenty of that going on already.

So yeah, it had some hiccups, but the event worked out pretty well. I know DQIX is a much harder sell here in the United States than in Japan, but I think these weekly events can only do good for the game. Next week, there’s one at Best Buys around the country. We’ll see if I can make it to that one, too…

Oh, and that rare treasure map? It’s basically an epic boss fight, and this boss wiped out my entire party in two turns. Don’t think I’m ready for it just yet. Maybe I never will be. But I’m glad to have it in my collection nonetheless.