Nintendo, the GameCube and Japanese Exclusive Games!

I have always loved Nintendo games. This all started with the first NES that my father gave me as a present. To the latest sleeper-hit console the Wii U. This does not mean that I am blind to the missteps that Nintendo has made in the past. Quite the contrary, in spite of my adoration for the brand; I do not excuse their behavior, and in fact, outright condemn them for clinging to their antiquated (if not foolish) ways at times. Starting from the Virtual Boy, all the way to the terrible naming convention utilized for the Wii U.

During the mid-90s to mid-2000s there was a period which could be called the darkest age for Nintendo. It was at this time in which Nintendo released a new console called the GameCube, it had a fantastic controller design, it looked fun and had the killer app known as Super Smash Brothers Melee. It was a great console, but it had one huge flaw… Nintendo failed to secure a large quantity of third-party exclusives for the GameCube. This meant a constant shortage of games to play, while the PlayStation dominated the market with countless exclusives in their console. You would think at that point, Nintendo would have been throwing money at the third-party developers to sway them in their direction. But, instead they just released their own first-party titles in the hopes that it would be enough to garner the sales they wanted. Sadly, this moment never came for Nintendo. Yet, all was not grim at the Mario factory; it was during this era that many great exclusive games and IPs were born.

The GameCube brought to the world many fantastic games such as: Animal Crossing, Pikmin, Eternal Darkness, Super Mario Sunshine, Mario Kart: Double Dash, Metroid Prime, Naruto Clash of Ninja 2, Harvest Moon Magical Melody, Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader, Smash Brothers Melee, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker/Twilight Princess, and countless others. But, despite all of this Nintendo did not manage to sway the hearts and minds of those players who were needlessly bashing the system. This meant that in spite of their best efforts, Nintendo still came in last in the console race of that particular generation. But, I didn’t care about all of that silly console war nonsense. All I cared about, was playing some awesome games on my GameCube with my friends. What truly made me angry, was the games that Nintendo launched exclusively in Japan without ever considering porting them to the United States.

Games such as: Giftpia, Zoids VS I/II/III, Battle Stadium D.O.N, Naruto Clash of Ninja 4, Doshin the Giant (released in PAL regions as well), Donkey Konga 3, DreamMix TV Fighters, Gundam: The Ace Pilot, Mario Puzzle Collection, Bleach GC, Multiple Shoot-‘em-ups, and other titles which never saw a release over in the west. These (titles) truly made me upset, I am aware that bringing games to the U.S. is not always cost-efficient, and Nintendo has obligations to the shareholders (and employees) which forbid them from acting against their best interest (something that can happen if they start porting games that are completely unsuccessful). But, Nintendo has had a really good streak with some of these niche titles, who would have guessed that Animal Crossing would have become the titan it currently is? The west has spoken, and it has stated that these games are genuinely fun. Nintendo should have taken a bigger risk with their games in this era, but instead they decided to remain in their spot (dead last). This is something which will always upset me about Nintendo. It’s unavoidable though, at the end of the day all that matters to a corporation is the bottom line.

Despite all of this, ever since I moved to Japan; obtaining these games has been a piece of cake for me. I have amassed a small collection of games which only came out in Japan. I will be discussing some of these games, along with my opinion on their gameplay, fun factor, play-ability in spite of the language barrier. I will not be reviewing these games; these are simply first impressions for games that we should have at least gotten a chance to try.
For reference here is a picture of my Japanese Games (not all of them were exclusives):

Japanese games

Ladder Wells the Apex Predator

Living inside a naval vessel involves an extremely high amount of risk tolerance. “Ships have killed, and will kill again” is a very common saying among U.S Navy sailors. After all, we deal with many threats out in the sea, which include the risk of exposing ourselves to other countries whose intentions might not be so noble. But, also sailors run the risk of having a fire inside (or on) the galley, aircrafts, munitions bay, fuel lines, work spaces, perhaps even falling overboard and drowning in the ocean. What people aren’t aware of however, is the true enemy inside a naval vessel exists in locations so common, that you might even be walking on one every day.

Ladderwell

Ladder wells, two of the scariest words which could be used in conjunction for any sailor that has been aboard a ship. The ship has an extreme amount of these, and they all have varying degrees of danger to them, which range from: regular stairs to Mt. Everest in levels of steepness, yet they are all equally deadly. But, what makes this so dangerous Dash (you might be asking yourself)? To which I’ll answer: allow me to explain. When you are walking up regular stairs, there is always the risk of losing your balance and hitting a sharp corner, but it’s very unlikely (due to how simple it is) now imagine walking up those same stairs during an earthquake (suddenly, it’s not as easy). Ships are in constant motion; the constant rocking of the ship can throw any sailor’s sense of balance out the window in a heartbeat. You couple this with having to walk up the riskier stairs and you got a recipe for broken hands, feet, knees, and in some cases death. There are also, very few manners in which you can mitigate the risks involved, you might walk slower, but then you’ll inconvenience others who are trying to pass, perhaps even hold on to the railing, but I’ve tried this one and still fell down knee first (earned me a nasty scar with that event). I am convinced that these stairs are cursed, and or sentient.

At the very least I am convinced that the former is true. They have to be cursed to explain some of the events that have happened to me while traversing through them on the way to my office. I have fallen, lost my balance, tripped on them, and generally feel like they will eventually cause me PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I have probably gotten hurt on those ladder wells more than I have throughout my entire life. These ladders, probably account for more injuries on the ship than any other high-risk activity/object, and I think the reason is clear. It’s obvious that ladder wells are apex soul stealing predators which run rampant throughout the ship. They run no risk of ever being eliminated because they are necessary for travel; as such, they have claimed the lives of many sailors, each one adding an extra soul which assists in taking even more lives.

Now you might be thinking to yourself that perhaps the insanity of life in the boat has taken a hold of me, but how else can we explain the almost preternatural ability for these ladder wells to hurt sailors. I have heard some of the most horrific tales from other sailors, which include the one female who lost her balance and landed with her legs between the handrails, another sailor fell down and landed head first in those same handrails (he had a concussion). Most of these reports never go outside of the need to know basis, so civilians aren’t aware of them, but we are! We live our lives in constant fear that the spirits which live inside the ladder wells don’t choose us as their next victim. The reason for this fear is not unwarranted either; we have to live inside this boat for 6 months out of the year at minimum. We walk upon these cursed objects approximately 50 (or more) times a day depending on which location of the boat your work station is located. Every single day we wake up with the knowledge that if we take one single wrong step, the ladder wells will claim our lives. Read this carefully, every single step we take upon those ladder wells could be our last. This dear readers, is the definition of living life on the edge of a knife.

For reference, every single time I see a ladder well, the music in this scene plays out in my head: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ks7Pjl8kM10

This article was a blast to write, I wish I could convey the emotions that are felt every single time that I have to walk through one of these. It’s terrifying.
***DISCLAIMER***
I am not the owner of the images utilized for this article, but I am the owner of the blog and article.

Amiibo, and the Pursuit of Goals!

I finally completed my Super Smash Brothers Amiibo collection! It took me a year and a move across the world, but I finally succeeded in getting all the currently available characters, plus a few others. When I opened my presents up this Christmas, it turned out that my wife had purchased the last remaining few. So I quickly arranged them and took pictures in order to share my (small) achievement with the internet/fellow collectors. I quickly realized that this had been a grave mistake.

I want to clarify that, it was not a mistake to have collected the Amiibo. What was a mistake was giving more credit to the internet in regards to their reaction. The people in Reddit for the most part were supportive, and cheerful about the success in the collection. A few of them shared their own stories and collections, which were equally as impressive, others, however were not as “kind”. If you read the comments in the link found below this paragraph, then you’ll quickly understand why I believe it was a mistake to have shared the pictures.

I wasn’t quite sure how to take it personally, since I’m proud of the effort that was put forth in collecting these figurines, regardless of others. But, it never ceases to amaze me. It often appears that the internet has a limitless capacity to shit over the things that make other individuals happy. The internet will spill copious amounts of bile, in order to demotivate others from being happy/proud. This shouldn’t be the way we are, but it seems that as long as the GIFT exists, people will use the anonymity provided by the web, in order to spread animosity. It doesn’t matter whether their words are taken seriously or not, the point is that by commenting negatively on what you’ve achieved they felt superior, and that is fine if it’s what makes them happy. But, don’t let this negativity define you as a person. Don’t let the words of others define what ultimately makes you a better individual.

The reason, why I write this is because I want everyone to remember that regardless of what anyone says or writes you should remember the reason why you pursued an objective. This objective could be anything, from the smallest personal achievement or something that will change the world. One small achievement can be the door to greater ones in your future, and I believe that by completing the goals which we set for ourselves, we slowly learn the importance of dedication. This is because as human beings, we like the feeling of immediate gratification; however, this is not often attainable. Instead of pursuing goals which take vast amounts of effort in order to yield rewards; we seek activities which give us instant gratification even if it’s of lesser value than larger more difficult goals.

To collect these “toys” it took me 2 long years of hunting at different stores, waiting in line for pre-orders, and moving to Japan in order to complete it. It’s no wonder I’m going to be proud of it because I was able to see it through to the end. It might not be important to anyone else, but to me it has a deeper meaning. It represents the potential amount of tenacity that I can have when I put my best foot forward. Thanks to the efforts that were placed on collecting these, I have shown myself that I am indeed capable of seeing things through to the end.

This was something that had weighed heavily on my mind, for a long time. I always felt like most of the things I begin are never finished. But, thanks to this collection; I have shown myself, that goals can be achieved if you’re willing to put the actual time and effort into execution. So don’t let the words of others on the internet bring you down, people will try to bring you to their level countless times, but you have to stick through with your goals. Criticism is fine if it’s constructive, I have gotten bashed countless times for my grammatical errors in this blog (but, they have no idea; how much I appreciate the bashing since it motivates me to improve), and, yet I continue to write in it. The world shall never be a kinder place, but we can make it better for ourselves if we actually strive for that goal. Success is never easy, so make sure that you remember the steps you took in order to achieve it.

Daily Life Aboard the Ship

A carrier typically holds anywhere from 3000 to 5000 people at any given moment (this is actually considered undermanned by regular society, but to the Navy it’s just enough to function). By all intents and purposes it’s a small town floating in the middle of the ocean with nothing to see except for water, aircraft, and the same exact people everyday of your life. We deploy at any given time without a moments notice and for extended periods of time. The ability to have a nice farewell with your family is a luxury in this sort of environment (one which I was not afforded as my last article explained). Some of us don’t even have a family to come back to anymore after deployment is finished. Truly the life of a sailor is one filled with much strife both at shore and  sea (a deployment is hard on all the members of a family). But, there is a lot more than simply distance and time in our way, especially since our days are insanely monotonous.

A regular working day aboard the ships can be anywhere from 13-18 hours. This includes from the time we wake up anywhere from 0430 to 0600 down to whenever they (our leaders) determine we are secured (off shift). I usually wake up around 5:30 (since I am trying to sleep this nightmare away) and go to bed at 2100-2200. During these last few days I’ve been going through a check-in process in which all members that a new have to meet up with their current chain of command and also do the documentation in order to gain access to computers (I still haven’t gotten access to a computer and have not been able to get in full contact with my spouse as of yet. Lack of communication with the outside world has made me feel extremely isolated, and, when you’re in the middle of the ocean with no land in sight, despair can take a hold of you very quickly.

I can’t even do much work due to the fact that my job is mostly computer oriented. This has equated to countless hours of boredom, something which the typical human mind isn’t programmed to handle. I swear boredom has to be the main reason why people get fat in the military, too much time to snack. Yet, on the opposite side of the spectrum you also get the fact that sailors become easily malnutritioned and lose muscle/weight due to a lack of sleep and food (I might end up on this group). It seems like every person on the ship told me the environment is extremely fast paced, but from what I’ve seen thus far it’s actually a mixture of extreme movement or sluggish pace with no in between.

The interesting thing about this mixture is more along the lines of how the time is actually spent. We have several meetings throughout the day in which we discuss nearly every aspect of our deployment (these are almost daily). We also have to take care of the qualification which involve taking classes in different locations through the ship (once you reach the classroom you get a taste of what is called “death by powerpoint”. Surprisingly, you also get a few hours to do your actual job; and during this time everyone is scrutinizing you for actually spending time focusing on the task at hand instead of working on qualifications. The rest of the time is spent doing everything that your superiors assigned to you. Finally, you end the day with another meeting in which you brief the oncoming shift of all the accomplishments of the day.

In between these events, you have hour long lunches/dinners, a few workout classes in the hangar bay, and several smoking breaks for those who enjoy tobacco products. I’m thoroughly amazed that people in the boat actually get anything accomplished. This is because they actually pressure you to get everything done ahead of time, but they spend so much time doing other task aside from their job, they feel the necessity to pressure those who are doing theirs instead. I swear their demands nearly gave me a heart attack. Nobody should ever have to receive a broken program, and then hear complaints when they can’t fix it within the day.

But, the most impressive characteristic of this lifestyle is how quickly the day actually goes by when you’re actively working. Sure, the days were long and annoying filled with drudgery of the daily life, but people make it interesting. You meet some of the coolest people on board, and while some have your best interest at heart, others only care for themselves. They made the days go by much quicker, than in those days when I felt completely isolated.

The Lonesome Departure Aboard a Naval Carrier

I’ve been in the Navy for 7 1/2 years now. It’s certainly been a roller coaster of good and bad events. Last year, around this time frame, I got orders to the USS Ronald Reagan, a ship that has been recently posted at Naval Base Yokosuka in Japan, a fact that made the news due to protest by the local Japanese populace. I was not very happy with the orders that had been issued to me, but what was coming could not be anticipated by someone who has not been in a naval vessel prior to his arrival.

I was originally meant to be flown into the vessel after receiving some basic courses and orientations for living aboard a vessel as well as for being a newcomer in Japan. But, due to some unfortunate circumstances in which I prioritized my family’s well being instead of the basic living in Japan courses they took me to the boat earlier than anticipated (approximately a full month before expected). I had barely enough time to gather my essentials and uniforms (who needed new items patched on due to my change of station) but, could not grab as much as I’d have liked. This meant I had to prioritize and instead brought with me living essentials such as shampoo (which I lost) and toothpaste (this one, I actually lost twice) that were purchased in case of emergencies (I was smart enough to have anticipated some crazy change of plans). However, the short notice meant that I left things behind (important things like a much touted sleeping bag). At night the ships don’t have much in the terms of insulation and it meant the difference between freezing and sleeping well. This however, was the beginning of a true nightmare.

I believe that it is unfathomable for civilians to imagine how awful life aboard a naval vessel truly is. Indeed most people don’t have to imagine what it is to live/sleep/eat/workout/work/shower/crap/exist within the confines of the same relatively small location. Some people would think it’s prison, but let me tell them right now that calling this a prison would not be doing it a favor (the prisoners have it much better than sailors at least they get better hours and more time to work out). A person once described life on a boat to me as taking a dumpster, painting it gray and living on it for 6 to 10 months every year (this is approximately the closest and most truthful description that could have been said). Needless to say, that being a sailor aboard an U.S. Naval vessel is one of the crappiest circumstances in which a person can find themselves in. But, in order to explain just how bad the circumstances of a U.S. Navy sailor is, an explanation of our life is required.

First of all, the good-byes are some of the most heart breaking events that you will ever experience. When I left my house, there was barely any warning about what the chain of command had planned. I was simply told to get on the vessel and leave. This meant that my wife had barely any chance to prepare herself emotionally for my departure (she originally wanted us to have a nice family dinner the day before). My son who was about to be three, did not quite grasp that this was mandatory and asked me not to say good-bye to him “no say good-bye, father”.  It’s heart wrenching when the last image you have of your loved ones is their crying faces in the prospect of such uncertainty (every time we leave, there is a silent understanding that we might never come back). To them, they were totally unprepared for the coming months (and so was I).

So I left, no more words were uttered, and no big celebration was thrown (unlike the home-coming which is a large event , whereas departure is simply packing and leaving). Next thing we all knew, all 5000 were aboard the ship waiting to come back to our loved ones. This is even harder for all of us who were new to the shipboard life. We had no friends, no-one we could confide in, we were completely on our own. It was one of the loneliest moments in my life, and I had to endure (for the sake of my family). The first few weeks on the ship, were the most depressing, you’re not sure of what place you belong in, despair can easily take over and in the face of these scenarios and you can be easily dragged towards depression. From the uncomfortable living conditions, to the horrible work hour schedule (we will speak about these in future articles). It almost seems like a really long and bad nightmare at this point, however unlike in those, we couldn’t just wake up during the especially stressful moments. Yet, somehow we all made it back home.

But, this story does have a positive ending, we all returned alive and well. People are surprisingly resilient creatures, we adapt and overcome. While I don’t think that the shipboard life is something anyone should ever get used to living, it’s good to have that experience under your belt. I have gained a newfound appreciation for my family life, and I’ve gotten a lot more writing material. My wife is happy to have me home, and my son can’t seem to want to stop playing with me. I’ve had a chance to go visit some awesome locations in Japan (a chance that was taken from me due to my departure). I have a thirst for life which had not been there for a long time. The experiences gained on that boat helped shape me into a better person because now I know the definition of terrible.

Take it from me readers, if you want to truly change your perspective in life. Go aboard a naval vessel and live there as the new-guy. You will never be the same person again.

 

 

Folks, the sailor has returned and I’m so happy to be back. I got lots of good stories to talk about including an interview with a Korean war survivor from my visit to Busan. I can’t wait to see what the responses are and I hope you’re all having a swashbuckling day!