Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Long Time, No See

It happens every year. The chirping of birds, warmer weather, and the sunnier days. My holiday related video game binge comes to an end and makes way for spring. My willingness to goes outside cuts deep into my video game playing.

Not ideal for a video game-oriented blog.

But that's okay. Mrs. Everwake and I have been enjoying the rare bit of good March weather for Minnesota. Granted, good spring weather in Minnesota means a wind chill of 25F (-4C) instead of -25F (-32C) but we will take what we can get.

We visited Winnipeg, Canada over the weekend. Or as I've taken to insistently calling it, "The Peg". The only thing we had solidly planned was a trip to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, which seems to be a big deal to the people who know such things. We stayed in a downtown loft through AirBnB that was located maybe a 3 minute walk from the Ballet. You couldn't ask for a better location.

The ballet was named Moulin Rogue, but apparently wasn't based off the movie, it just licenses the name from the French cabaret. Mrs. Everwake enjoyed it, but I had trouble getting into it. Didn't help that I was still fighting a hangover. The ballet had enjoyable bits, but I'm not into the "core" of ballet. It's like playing a video game with good cinematics or writing, but you don't enjoy the core gameplay loop. There was a lot of "filler" dancing that didn't seem to move the story forward any, it was just dancing for dancing's sake. Or maybe not and I'm just ballet-ignorant. Either way, it was fine, but I'm not in a hurry to go back. I'd group ballet with NASCAR and soccer, things that seem more fun to do than to watch.

Other than that, we mostly walked around and enjoyed the restaurants, bars, architecture, and sights that we don't have access to in our small town. That's my favorite part of any vacation, the wandering about. The food and drink was generally not great, my usual instincts apparently don't work in Canada. There is a Spanish tapas place that we go to every time we are in town and it was solid. It also caused aforementioned hangover. It'll be a sad day if it ever shuts down.

Spring has also stirred up the feelings of hiking yet again. Having moved from a big city to a small town, my opportunities for walking about have been greatly diminished. We do however have access to a properly maintained 50 mile (80km) bit of hiking trail called the Agassiz Recreational Trail. My goal this spring is to hike the entire length over the course of two days.

I'll need to get my back into fighting shape so I've been taking small walks in both my boots and with weight in my backpack to gradually work myself up. My next goal is to walk the dedicated trails in neighboring Grand Forks, North Dakota for about 2-4 hours, and then take the first leg of the Agassiz trail the next weekend, which takes about 8 hours.

I'm also going to need some new equipment. I'm going to need lightweight camping gear, but I will also need a new backpack. I'm using a literal bookbag at the moment. And while it's waterproof and comfortable, my back isn't going to survive 30-40 pounds of gear on my shoulders. A properly fitted backpack will put that weight on my hips. I might accompany the Mrs. to the Twin Cities and seek out an REI to get outfitted.

Actual video game playing has been light, but I did manage to beat one game in the past week. Through our travels, we have been listening a podcast called Potterless. A man who has never read the Harry Potter series goes chapter by chapter with a different guest and recaps and comments on the series. It's basically an audio book club. It's pretty decent and a welcome relief from my wife's usual onslaught of 'true crime' podcasts.

It got me thinking of the Harry Potter game of our youth, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone for the PlayStation 1, which I had conveniently bought over Christmas while visiting the parents.

I kinda knew it sucked back when I played it as a kid and it's only gotten worse as an adult. It's only about 4 hours but seems so much longer. The story line is nonsensical, it follows the books for the first cut scene and then careens off to do it's own thing. Like jumping rivers of lava to get a plant seed. Or racing Peeves for the Invisibility cloak. Or fighting turtles who fart fire at you. You know, those beloved moments of the book.

It's a 3D platformer without a jump button and controls just as badly as a budget PS1 title would be expected to. Contemporary reviews pointed out how ugly the game was at the time and I certainly have to agree. I wish I had the capability of getting screenshots from my PS2 because some of these faces are doozies.

I think the Harry Potter games improve in quality somewhat as the series goes along, although they are all made by EA so I have some doubts. After beating the game, I've moved on to completing another PS1 title from my youth, Brave Fencer Musashi, although it's been hard as nails thus far so we'll so how far I get into it.

That said, the "spring" weather is proving closer to a "fool's spring", as the weather is now calling for several days of snow later in the week. So I might get a chance to finish it after all.

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