Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Dawn of Discovery DS

With the ability to actually play DS games again also comes the ability to expand my DS library. Such is the case of Dawn of Discovery, which originally came onto my radar for the Nintendo Wii. Through a mixture of laziness, anxiety and Gamestop's low stock I never got the chance to buy the Wii version, but on a recent trip to pick up some DS games I did pick up the DS version.

Dawn of Discovery is an economic management simulator that loosely reminds me of a mix between Age of Empires and Sim City. With two modes to choose from, continuous and story, you'll be taken through building and managing numerous islands in what I assume to be the 1400s, simply because the game is called Anno 1404 outside of North America. Story mode will teach you the basics of the game, and Continuous mode is where you're set free to test the skills they have taught you.

Dawn of Discovery can be addictive, but it can also be acutely frustrating. While building homes and manufacturing buildings you'll need to pay close attention to their needs to succeed, which means placing them within a certain radius of a building they deem vital to their survival. For example: when building a garment factory you will need to place it within a certain distance (rather close) to the material provider. This doesn't always work, as more often than not the game will tell me that it's not within the already small area in which it should be, even though the needed area was clearly marked when placing the building.

This becomes even more frustrating when building housing for your residents. The lower level homes are the most fussy and must be placed around a few things with such a small radius that you may find yourself taking up valuable land that should be homes, but is instead just duplicate buildings that are already a few short meters away from each other.

Once you think you've mastered that, which shouldn't take too long, your population will thrive, then dip, then thrive again, then dip down again, then you'll be in debt, get a loan from the king, lose all that money and need another loan, all before you eventually figure out that your populous are all just a bunch of whiny bitches. Yep, I said it. Your populous will always find a reason to complain, coupled with the game already not being too accurate with making things work by it's own rules, you may find yourself just walking away from the game for hours on end.

Despite the growing pains I eventually found a good balance. My residents always have something to complain about and no matter how many garment factories, date plantations, milk farms or food producers I have going successfully, it's never enough for them to ever be completely happy. Regardless I've managed to get it to correct itself just before the income drains and I need yet another loan, so I believe that's how real economics work anyway, right?

Sure, Dawn of Discovery can be a pain in the ass sometimes, and sure it's not all that well put together, maybe just because it's a stripped down portable version, but I did eventually start having fun with the game. I haven't started a new continuous mode yet so I'm not sure if the islands are randomized, but if so this game does have some replayability. For 99 cents I would suggest it, maybe not highly, but I do actually enjoy it. I'm sure after I sharpen my skills on making things work it will become more fun, but it does initially seem very frustrating.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Nintendo 2DS

When Nintendo announced the 2DS I saw it eventually becoming much like the NES top loader or the Wii mini; just another stripped down product for Nintendo to push out that won't be well accepted at first but in time will become hard to find, worth a lot of money and highly sought after by those who hated it when it originally launched. As people will undoubtedly disagree with that, that is exactly what happened with the NES top loader, and while I'm not saying everyone is rushing to ebay to pay the $100 for one of those, the large majority of people who just have to have them now are most likely the ones who mocked the console at its release, in favor of moving on to the Super Nintendo.

I fully understand there is no need to do a review of the Nintendo 2DS, by now either you love it or hate it, but I do want to write up my feelings on the situation anyway. After suffering through a few secondhand, broken DS consoles I decided it was time to look into finally owning a decent DS to play the few games I do own, and enjoy, for the DS line. Many issues cropped up, mainly the fact that I wasn't sure just how much fun I could wring out of another used console, much the same as I was quickly let down by the used DS and DS Lite consoles I already have. I do understand that my experience with the DS line is completely secondhand and that I bought them in poor condition, but that doesn't matter as there is plenty of evidence to prove the hinges are just an inherent problem. No matter how well a DS is taken care of a large number of them do break down.

When the DS first launched I wasn't exactly sold on the whole concept, as I was still waist deep in the GBA SP. As time went on I found that I was right to be less than accepting of Nintendo's new line of handhelds as many reports of the hinges snapping quickly filled forums across the internet. Nintendo's answer was to make the console smaller, yet the DS Lite didn't fair my better as it too suffered, maybe more so, from the easily cracked and broken hinge issue, which often gave way to the top screen's cable becoming ripped and rendering the system non-functional.

Then Nintendo decided to put a camera in the DS and call it the DSi, as well as offer an XL version of the DSi; this coupled with the seemingly more secure hinges the DSi, and especially XL, quickly become the definitive version of the DS to own. Eventually the DSi gave way to the 3DS and 3DS XL, which now used a 3D technology as well as used the cameras to allow users to take 3D stills. It didn't take long for the hinge issue to creep back up with the 3DS, among other issues such as parents not wanting their children to look at 3D games all day, even though that function is completely voluntary.

Through four variations Nintendo couldn't capture the successful execution of the hinged console the way they did with the GBA SP, and that was a major contributing factor in me deciding the new DS console I needed to own would be the 2DS. It was time to buy a new console so that all the life within the console was mine and mine alone, as there is no warranty with a used console. The 2DS has no hinges that plague the rest of it's brothers, since generation one. But even so the 2DS isn't perfect, it does have some faults of it's own.

2015 was a year I tried in vain to piece together parts from both the DS Lites I had picked up from the outlet store to finally make one that worked, yet in the process the fragile top screen cable ripped, rendering the last hope of my three DS handhelds useless. I decided to talk it over with my girlfriend as to what I should do about the situation, just to have an opinion I knew I trusted. After much discussion I received the best opinion on Christmas Eve in the form of a brand new 2DS my girlfriend so generously bought me.

My first impressions were excitement, as now I could finally start to expand not only my DS library but also add some 3DS titles to the collection as well. I am a bit overzealous about taking care of the screens, yet I feel as though this is better than having the hinges break, rip the top screen cable and render the whole console useless in a matter of time. The 2DS does feel a bit weak in areas, like a cheap Chinese import. That's not to say it's completely weak, but I do own a few Chinese Famiclone consoles and I know cheap Chinese plastic when I feel it; the creaks and snaps of having things poorly aligned, they're all present in the 2DS.

I have to say that I'm very happy with my 2DS as it does allow me to expand my DS library, add some 3DS titles and it finally allows me a stable way to play the games that it's hinged predecessors so painfully let me get hooked on and then quickly let me down when they ultimately broke down and became shining signs of Nintendo's poor planning and eager cash grabbing. Finally the fate of a console is all up to me, and I prefer it to be my mistake that I know I fucked up if something ever happens to the 2DS, not to be left feeling like someone just shit in my hands and ran off laughing when the hinge breaks and the screen cable rips, through no fault of my own.