Sunday, March 27, 2016

Post-Birthday Outlet Store Goodies!

Getting older isn't fun. You start to forget things, your eyes, muscles and other parts of your body don't work as well as they used to, and you start to forget things. Did I mention the fact that you start to forget things?

Regardless of my age, I decided that I would spend the day after my birthday having an amazing time at the new local Goodwill Outlet store, and indeed I did! Not only did I see my good friend Isaac again (the manager of the outlet I used to frequent) I also picked up a lot of good stuff, or at least stuff that I think is good.

First up I picked up yet another empty DS and Wii case, to swap out in the future if need be. But along my journey I happened across a cable that had only recently came onto my radar. My current computer monitor is old and I've been wanting to see if there was any way to get just a little bit more out of her, so I checked into DVI to HDMI. The cables on Amazon were fairly cheap, but even so I couldn't justify the cost of something I currently couldn't use, and it may not even do me any good once I can. As I walked past a bin, there it was, a black cable with shining golden ends, one of them attached to an Apple mini-DVI to DVI converter. Being I was at the palace of impulse, I decided I had to pick it up.

Next I happened to find a dual Nintendo DS Lite and DSi charging Dock. Sure it's not practical and it's blue LEDs could light up half of a city block at night, but with Goodwill Outlet prices, and me being a sucker for weird video game things, it was yet another "had to have". After more walking around I found a small block that looked like a block of coal ore from Minecraft, but I left it where it was. It wasn't until I actually found the Enderman that I decided if I was going to get one, I had to get both.

Next up are just some loose discs. Three loose Playstation discs, Bully for PS2 and two Poison CDs. Even though I already own Bully complete, need I remind you, it was the Goodwill Outlet store where these things are $.99 per pound! And who doesn't like a little glam metal from time to time?

Finally we reach the surprise part of the haul. Almost a year ago I had picked up a uDraw tablet for the Nintendo Wii at a Goodwill 50% off sale, and I felt kind of cheated ever since. I could never find the game to test and see if the tablet even worked, but yesterday I found a total of four complete, and in varying condition, copies of uDraw Studio. I took the one that was in the best shape, which the disc doesn't even look like it's been used at all, and made that my personal copy. I also found Sega Superstars Tennis/ Xbox live Arcade combo pack-in for Xbox 360, again complete and in immaculate shape, as well as Kinect Adventures in the same condition. Oh, and I also bought a complete copy of Spore for some reason.

It was a good time at the outlet store, needless to say. I also bought a few miscellaneous items like a gold RF to coaxial adapter for my Atari 2600, a AA battery box that has some strobe circuit with LEDs and a small candle for my girlfriend, but the above shows the meat and potatoes of the day. It was fun, great to see Isaac again and to get out and treasure hunt. Not only was it great to treasure hunt, but it was even better to actually bring home a bounty of goods and renew that sense of wonder and daydream of what I'll find next time I go. I just hope I'm not forgetting to mention something.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Assecure 18 Game DS Case Review

As my video game hunting has expanded to DS games, I'm finding storing them has become a bit of a problem. In the past I've been lucky enough to run across an empty case before I find the game, which allowed me to simply track down a game that already has a good case to call home. The problem isn't hunting down a game to fill a case I already own, it's hunting down storage for the abundance of loose DS cartridges I find.

In the past I've picked up any loose DS storage case I could find from thrift stores, and mostly the Goodwill Outlet. More often than not I find official, but empty, Nintendo DS cases; I will keep the good titles and hunt down the cartridge or empty them out and use them as swaps for cases that aren't in such good shape. I've also found a little, rattling box that holds four cartridges (in two stacks of two), and a three in line key chain style, neither of which held the cartridges securely. The best I've found was a dual sided little box that held four, two on each side, and held them in with a smaller version of what the official Nintendo DS cases use. The problem with the last three storage cases being they either rattle or they're too small.

What I need is something strong, held more cartridges, held them securely and was big enough that I couldn't misplace it. That's where the Assecure 18 game case comes into play. While perusing Amazon for some games to fill the DS cases I already had, this popped up as a suggestion. At first glance it looked like a cheap Chinese case that would be flimsy and probably wouldn't hold up to being opened and closed more than a dozen times, but images can be deceiving. After reading some reviews and doing a little bit of research I decided that for $10, what was the worst that could happen?

After less than 2 weeks it finally arrived, and I was excited to get my hands on it and see what this thing was really like. My initial thoughts were relief as it feels very strong, and sturdy. The mechanisms inside that hold the games look exactly like the official DS cases, albeit they feel slightly more loose and easier to obtain your game once you want to play it, which does create a very slight rattle. For now all signs point to $10 well spent, but the item is brand new and I will be paying attention to it throughout time, as time is the true test of sturdiness.

The Assecure 18 game case is almost the exact same size as an official DS case as well, almost like the Club Nintendo multi-cartridge case they offered. If you're looking for a good way to store a maximum of 18 loose DS or 3DS games this thing is a pretty good choice. It fits my personal needs and allows my loose DS cartridges to fit in pretty well with my complete DS games.

My only complaint about this is that while taking pictures for this blog entry the case is now easy to open. It's not popping open on it's own, yet, and I believe it can be adjusted, but when I first opened the case it felt like an official DS case and was slightly difficult to open, but now it simply pulls open with minimal effort. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I'll just have to wait and see!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Wii Controller Showdown!

As I may have stated before Project Outlet Wii is not my first experience with the Nintendo Wii, but it has reinforced how much I dislike the Wii remote. The only game that I can say the Wii remote has accentuated the experience for is Kirby's Epic Yarn; perhaps only because the controller is held in a more traditional fashion and doesn't require being waggled around, or a cable connected accessory, which is another issue. The need to add a directional pad, ala the nunchuk, always feels gimmicky, which itself is reinforced by Nintendo forcing developers to replace perfectly good controls to work with that gimmick. To me, the Wii remote just feels like a terrible joke that went too far.

Although my Wii library is small I still feel as though I've ran most of the gambit in controller gimmicks that the system has to offer. By far the most fun games I've played for the Wii are the ones that allow me to plug a Gamecube controller directly into the ports on the side. My only complaint there is that I've always felt that the Gamecube controller's button placement could have been designed better, but instead good enough won out. In addition to having all the controls on one unit I'm a large fan of not having to replace batteries in the middle of playing a game, which has happened more times than necessary with the Wii remote, so mark that as another win for the Gamecube controller.

When I finally got my hands on the Wii Classic Controller Pro I felt all my dreams had come true. I had all my controls together in one unit and the buttons were all arranged in a way that I easily knew exactly what buttons I was pressing at any given time, but there was one massive issue that I had overlooked. As soon as I plugged the controller into the Wii remote I realized that I was still dealing with a wireless, battery hungry beast. The controller felt amazing and it allowed me to navigate the main Wii menu screen withing having to point the remote at the screen, but it was still very dependent upon the batteries in the remote, which were now being drained even quicker because I had attached an accessory that drew power of it's own.

For my personal tastes the Nintendo Wii doesn't truly have a perfect controller, they all have their pros and cons. The Wii remote is a gimmick that oftentimes is more cumbersome than functional for casual gaming. The Gamecube controller is quite functional, yet the button layout was seemingly the brainchild of a brain dead child. And the Wii Classic Controller Pro (and by extension the Wii Classic Controller) relies heavily on the power of the Wii remote and drain it slightly quicker. I would like to get my hands on a Wii Motion Plus add-on or the Wii remote with it already integrated, just to see how much better it really is compared to the original.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Back in the Outlet Groove.

After two and a half years I finally returned to the Goodwill outlet store, and boy what a return it was. A few months ago it was announced that they had opened a Goodwill outlet store closer to my house, which filled me with nostalgia and excitement of getting back into the treasure hunt. Yesterday was the day, the day to get back into the swing and reward myself for facing anxiety and attempting to put it in it's place, and get my Goodwill outlet groove back.

The day started out with disappointment as the first Goodwill store I stopped at only had an overpriced DS soft case that only interested me because of the pair of stylus inside. I wasn't about to pay $6 for a case I didn't want, nor was I about to become an asshole and pocket the stylus, so I walked away defeated. After lunch at Hardee's, the big chicken sandwich by the way is AWESOME, the day cracked open and laid forth it's bounty of goods.

The second Goodwill store seemed barren, not a good deal in sight, until I looked down at the lowest shelf in the electronics and saw a Wii Fit Plus box. The box was wrapped in tape like a mummy, seemingly covered in blood stains, and it was HEAVY, which is a good sign that the Wii Fit board would be inside. I found the manager and asked him to cut the box open for me so I could take a look inside, just to make sure what I would potentially be purchasing be worth the $10 they were asking. As I peaked inside the box my heart sank to see that there was no Wii Fit board, but the rest of the goodies inside were definitely worth the price! Needless to say I bought it without a second though.

With my blood stained box of miscellaneous Wii parts safely packed into the vehicle it was time to finally go to the only Gamestop within 100 miles that had Lunar Dragon Song. I've been wanting this for a long time, as I've had the case and manual for the game, which I found at the outlet store, for many, many years. As I stepped into the store, my eyes quickly scanned the store and found the manila envelopes Gamestop keeps them in. My anxiety was already fucking with me all day, and the last thing I wanted to do was search through, literally, hundreds of these little envelopes to find a DS games. I had gone through at least 90% of their loose DS stock before I finally found it. After my purchase it was only a quick jaunt over to the next Goodwill store, which is literally just behind Gamestop.

Goodwill store stop number three seemed pretty barren as well. Tons of VHS tapes, tons of CDs and DVDs, and enough PS2 and original Xbox sports titles to build a bullet proof fort. Back in the electronics section was an old lady trying to get a small portable TV to pick up any signal, in vain because all TV signals are now digital, poor thing. Apart from the screaming children, who should have been in school, and the old people trying every single electronic device they could turn on, the store was a complete bust. Or was it?

As the crowd of unintelligible screaming children were cleared from the toy section and cornered into the clothes, which helps muffle their unrest, I took a crack at seeing what items I could find in the aftermath of their tornado. The first thing I found was a tiny piano with what appeared to be a GBA game attachment at the top, so for laughs I decided to pick it up and call it the Nintendo DS's Miracle Piano. (Video game humor) As I kept digging I found what was to be my favorite find of the day. There it was, sitting upon the shelf, looking at me and waiting for me to take it home, clean it and give it a good home. I've wanted one of these for years, and now was my chance to finally own one. At only $1.99, I knew that this purchase wasn't going to slip through my hands, and I actually proclaimed out loud "Mine!", as I snatched it off the shelf and checked the price tag. A Nintendo Wii Classic Controller Pro.

Next up was the trip to the outlet store. My nerves and anxiety were at their peak, but I wasn't about to let that stop me from at least giving this Goodwill outlet store a thorough checking out. Within the first few minutes of checking I found a green Afterglow Wii remote. After that came some empty video game cases, followed by a Dazzle DVC-170 for video game capture. What happened next was unexpected, and my reaction to it was even more unexpected. I had an internal struggle to stop myself, but I was too determined. With the flow of the day going the way they already had, this was now my chance, this was another item I had wanted, albeit for a short time.

Just as I had done with my NES top loader from another Goodwill outlet, from beneath a ton of miscellaneous stuff came a Nintendo Wii Fit Board. I was stunned, it was heavy and as I carried the behemoth up to see how much it weighed I made a choice in my mind that there was no way I was going to pass this up. Sure it was $9 and I could have found a better deal at another time, but I had just picked up the Wii Fit Plus box earlier and there was absolutely no way I was going to pass this up. I tried to stop myself and use my frugal mind, but I felt myself blocking such thoughts. Blind determination and the same will power I used to block out the anxiety had now locked me into the purchase of a $9 video game peripheral I have only used once, to make sure it worked. Even so, I still feel like it was destined to happen that way, and there was no other way it could or should have happened.

Everything cleaned up quite well and functions as it should. The only dud of the day is currently the Afterglow Wii remote, which seems to be a common issue, but for the outlet store price I really can't complain. Whether I fix it or part it out, I'm sure there is a reason I current own it, it's just not currently known. The Wii Fit resides within the box, which is now 99% clean of it's blood/juice and tape residue. The Wii remote that was inside the box had some batteries corroding inside, which cleaned up really well, but it does work.

I'm excited to go back to the outlet store and see what else I can find. With the serendipity of the day proving that there is a reason to some of the madness within one's life, you just need to push through and make things happen. Sure the anxiety was extremely rough, and like a scolded child it still is, but the prizes of the day were both physical items and reassurance that I can do this, and I will do this more often.