8-bit Teeth, Red-haired Heroes, and a Mother-Gamer’s Pride


(Note: the idea for this post was given to me by Miss Alexandra from Man Crates. Thanks Alex!)

This is going to be one of the oldest-sounding things that I’ve ever said, but…kids today have no idea what it’s like to grow up alongside the progression of video games. My daughter, for instance, is five years old and for her entire life so far she’s always been around latest-gen games. She’s watched mommy and daddy fight extremely realistic monsters, listened to immaculately-voiced characters have deep, emotional conversations, and awed at light shows that could shame Hollywood. She even plays games of her own, leading Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars characters through amazingly designed worlds that you can change and mold to your liking.

But she’ll never know what it was like to first experience video game graphics jumping from 8 to 16 bits. She’ll never have the giddy joy of sneaking peaks at Nintendo Power magazines in the drug store in order to learn how to perform special moves. She’ll (likely) never experience the ups and downs of picking up a random game at the local rental place, having absolutely no idea what it’s going to be like because none of your immediate friends have played it and internet reviews don’t exist yet.

And that’s all fine, because I’m certain my daughter will have plenty of her own experiences that will go way over my head, but it still makes me almost sad because the things I’ve mentioned were enormous parts of my childhood.

I was born at the perfect time to really grow up with video games as a home entertainment. When I was just a couple of years old my parents were still at the right age to hear about the Atari 2600 home video game console and think that it would be a really neat thing to have in the house. We had our fair share of games, and all three of us played. My mom’s favorite was Mouse Trap, which was a PacMan clone using mice as the ghosts and a cat as PacMan. My dad would get super-frustrated with Pitfall because he just couldn’t ever seem to time his jumps properly. And me? Well, at the tender age of five-ish, my favorite game was the ridiculously-conceived Plaque Attack. It was a Space Invaders clone, but instead of attacking legions of aliens, fast food items such as burgers, fries, and soda would move toward waiting rows of teeth, and instead of the defender of the Earth, you played as a squirting tube of toothpaste.

Tell me this isn’t one of the most ridiculous things you’ve ever seen.

Looking back at it now, that game seems outrageously silly, but when I was a kid I absolutely loved it and I would play it again today if I had it. I can fondly remember sitting on my parents’ bed with that little joystick controller, blasting globs of toothpaste at cakes and candies in order to protect my rows of 8-bit pearly whites. It was great, foolish fun. It wasn’t my whole life by any means, but it was definitely a welcome amusement to have at my disposal.

At some point – I don’t remember the exact age, but I think I may have been six or so – my parents picked up a Nintendo Entertainment System for Christmas and my horizons were broadened. I was introduced to Mario for the first time, and my cousins (who also had NES consoles) and I spent hours trying to hunt down that damn princess. There was also Duck Hunt, which was a crazy-amazing innovation with its fancy, neon-orange light gun. That was definitely one of my favorites in the early days, although I loathed the clay shooter side-game and would often resort to pressing my gun right up against the TV screen in order to hit the damn disks. I also got the biggest kick out of the Power Pad when my cousin first got his, although it didn’t take long for us to realize that you could just get down on the floor and use your hands to hit the buttons rather than dance around on it as Nintendo had intended.

You’d think they’d have learned way back then that people don’t want to exercise while they’re gaming.

There’s no doubt that the Atari and the NES were enormous parts of my childhood, but at that age I wouldn’t have described myself as a “gamer”. The games were simply among my toys, and I didn’t spend any more time on them than I did on Play Doh, Legos, Barbie dolls, or, you know…playing outside.

That all changed when I was somewhere around eight- or nine-years-old and my parents got me a Super Nintendo Entertainment System for Christmas. It was a huge deal right off the bat because the 16-bit graphics looked outstanding compared to the previous games I’d played. It was hard to believe that such amazing graphics were even possible.

Shown: The most realistic-damn thing I’d ever seen.

And I won’t say that I didn’t play the HELL out of Super Mario World (because I did), and I definitely had something of an obsession with a little thing called Uniracers, but if I’m totally honest with myself the game that I would say turned me into a gamer was Chrono Trigger. My best friend had come across it in one of the local rental places and told me that it was amazing, so I practically begged my father to go so we could see if it was in (in those days each shop was lucky to have one copy of each video game). I was in luck that day, and the bright red, spiky hair of the protagonist on the cover immediately appealed to me. It looked like an anime cartoon, which was also something I was getting into at the time, and that definitely cemented my resolution to rent it and get the heck home immediately.


I ran home with my rented treasure and popped it in the machine, practically vibrating to see what it was all about, why my friend had praised it so, and soon I was being treated to a Millennial Fair. I ran around with the red-headed hero (Crono), ringing bells on the strength game, guessing winners for the races, beating up a training robot, and dancing with people dressed as cavemen, and it was a blast. I totally understood what my friend had been talking about and I eagerly ran around that fair for about two hours, and which point I finally discovered that, yeah…there was actually a hell of a lot more to this game.

Yeah, it’s true, for a good two hours I honestly believed that the Millennial Fair opening of the game was the game. So when another character accidentally opened a time portal and disappeared into the past, prompting my red-haired hero to follow, I was flabbergasted. There was an adventure to play too! Oh, and what an adventure it was, full of time travel, a looming apocalypse, hidden magic, futuristic robots, and actual death…a character in a video game dying. I’d never seen the like before that.

I can’t even explain to you how many hours I sunk into that game. My best friend and I spent countless pocket change on renting it until my father finally decided that it was economically sound to just buy a copy, and that quadrupled my gameplay, easily. I was determined to find every hidden item, defeat every tiny side quest, and unlock each of the multiple endings (which was something else I’d never seen before). And remember, this was before you could just look everything up on the Internet. I had to actually search for all those items, and defeat the end boss dozens of times in hopes that I might have completed the right sequence of events to get a new ending.

One of the most heartbreaking moments of my childhood was when I came home from school one day and flipped on Chrono Trigger. I’d been sinking hours and hours into an overachieving attempt to raise all seven playable characters up to the highest level (100, which was depicted by two stars), and I was getting fairly close. I had two of the characters complete and the rest were in the 80’s and 90’s. But when I turned the game on, the screen didn’t load up with that oh-so-familiar title screen. Oh no…what I got was a black screen with a few angry-looking bits of digital lightning flashing across it. I immediately switched the SNES off and grabbed at the game to find that it hadn’t been seated properly. Someone had removed it and not pressed it all the way back down into the system. I pressed it down firmly now, and literally held my breath as I switched the system back on… But the damage had been done. The game had been erased. I had three blank save slots staring at me, mocking me, mocking the countless days I’d spent trying to raise those characters’ levels. I’m not proud. I seriously almost burst into tears.

As it turned out, my mother had removed the game in order to test a used game she and my father had recently picked up for me for Christmas: one Final Fantasy III (VI, in Japan), which just barely beats out Chrono Trigger as my favorite game of all time. I forgave her, because ohmygodFinalFantasyIII, but I still to this day lament the fact that I never got all seven characters to the maximum level. Later in life I even picked up the remastered Nintendo DS version of the game, but as an adult I’ve never had the time or inclination required to undertake so much level-grinding again.

Still, I definitely credit Chrono Trigger with truly turning me into a “gamer”. It was the game that awakened a desire to do everything, to see everything, to experience ever tiny detail that the programmers had hidden within. To this day, although I’ve enjoyed plenty of games since the SNES, all my favorite games are from that console: Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy III, Breath of Fire II, Illusion of Gaia, Secret of Mana… You could say that I became a bit of an RPG-maniac.

These days I don’t have nearly as much time for games, and I tend to choose ones that can be completed much quicker than the 20+-hour sagas I played as a kid. But that’s okay because I hold the memory of first playing those games deep down among some of the most wonderful memories of my childhood. And in the meantime, I’m busy raising a new gamer to make memories with her favorite games. 🙂


A to Z Challenge: (U)ematsu, Nobuo

UematsuNowadays video games are a huge deal. It’s not enough just to make a game that is fun to play; it also has to be visually stunning and have a gripping story, and a big part of creating a game that is also a cinematic masterpiece is incorporating the right kind of music. A game like Dragon Age would not have nearly the same epic adventure feel if not for the booming orchestral pieces accompanying every boss fight. Gone are the days of computer-generated beeps and boops that form a repetitive melody or two. We need to feel the music in our bones as we set out to save the world.

Of course, this idea is not nearly as new as I’m making it sound. In reality, Mr Nobuo Uematsu has been composing grand, orchestral video game music since the mid-1980’s. Uematsu, of Japan, is a self-taught musician who began his career by playing the piano when we was only eleven years old. He claims Elton John as an early musical inspiration, and after college he composed music for commercials while working in a music rental shop. It was during this time in his life that he was approached by an employee from Square about the possibility of creating video game music. In 1986 he joined Square and composed his video game soundtrack for “Cruise Chaser Blassty”. During the composition of this first soundtrack he was approached by the creator of the Final Fantasy series, and video game music history was made.

Eventually Uematsu left Square to go freelance, but he continued creating amazing video game scores through his own company, Smile Please. In 2012, Uematsu made history when a song of his from the Final Fantasy VII soundtrack, “Aerith’s Theme”, became the first video game musical piece to ever appear in the Classic FM Hall of Fame.

There is certainly no doubt that Uematsu has made an enormous impact on the world of video game soundtracks. The wildly popular ‘Play! A Video Game Symphony’ has paid tribute to him numerous times by incorporating some of his most well-known compositions into their concerts.

I grew up with Mr Uematsu’s music, although I didn’t think much of the composer back then. This man composed the scores to my two favorite games of all time: Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy III (North American version). Though a kid doesn’t usually register such things, the soundtracks of those games were a big part of what made them so amazing. The heroic scores in Chrono Trigger could make you feel like you were truly on an epic adventure. The individual character themes in Final Fantasy III helped to describe each character’s personality in a way that simple dialogue could not. To this day I still hum the tunes to most of the songs in these games, and I sometimes love to just sit and listen to their soundtracks for old time’s sake.

If you're a gamer and you're not humming the correct tune right now, you fail life.
If you’re a gamer and you’re not humming the correct tune right now, you fail life.

Are you a fan of Mr Uematsu’s music? What is your favorite song of his? Have you ever seen ‘Play! A Video Game Symphony’? Please share!

Enjoying the A to Z Challenge? Why not check out these other participating blogs:

Jo on Food, Life, and a Scent of Chocolate
Deliciously Alive!
From This Side Of The Pond
The Faux Fountain Pen
Anabel’s Travel Blog
Everyday Gyaan
Wrote by Rote
Stephen Chapman Writer
Loni Townsend – Squirrel Talk

A to Z Challenge: (O)ctoroks and (O)chus and (O)utlaws (Oh my!)

OEnemiesOkay, I have to admit that “O” is a difficult letter for me to deal with, given my video game theme. There are only so many games that start with “O”, after all, and it’s not a common letter for naming characters or worlds either. After a lot of thought, therefore, I decided to talk about a couple of monsters from my favorite video games today.

First up we have the the Octoroks, who made their first appearance in the original ‘The Legend of Zelda’ game back in 1987.

Here's a cuter version than what's in the header image. <3
Here’s a cuter version than what’s in the header image. ❤

Octoroks are octopus-like creatures who are generally found in watery areas and are often depicted as being blue or red. Their mode of attack is to shoot rocks from their elongated mouths, and in the original game they would quickly change their speed and direction to trip the player up. In the second game of the series – ‘The Adventure of Link’ – some Octoroks would jump and fire rocks into the air, and in my favorite game – ‘A Link to the Past’ – they would sometimes spin in place while firing in four directions.

The Octorok is an enemy that has persisted through almost all of Link’s impressive game series, and is one of the first things I think of when someone brings up a ‘Legend of Zelda’ game. My most frustrating experience with them? In the ‘Ocarina of Time’ installment the little buggers would dive under the water when approached, so the only way to kill them was to stand back and reflect their rocks back at them with your sword. Oh, and I was a horrible aim.

Next up, from the ‘Final Fantasy’ series, we have the hideous Ochu.

Ochu_FFVIII_Color_ArtThis ‘Final Fantasy’ staple is a living plant that is actually depicted as being quite enormous compared to the playable characters. An Ochu usually has two or four thorny, flailing vine-arms, and is sometimes decorated with a ring of pink flower petals that makes it appear to be wearing a skirt.

Ochu monsters appear in a number of the ‘Final Fantasy’ games, but my most recent experience with them is via ‘Final Fantasy X’ and ‘X-2’. In these games, like several others, Ochu is known for its status ailment attacks. It likes to cast such spells as ‘poison’ and ‘sleep’ on your characters, often at the same time. For this reason the Ochu can be an extremely frustrating monster to fight because it’s no stronger than any other monster, but it will kill you by keeping your characters asleep while they are slowly poisoned.

Lastly, from the era-hopping fan-favorite, ‘Chrono Trigger’, we have the Outlaws.

Outlaw_SpritesThese enemies appear as bird-creatures swathed in white robes, and carry swords like a katana. They also throw shuriken as one of their attacks, so I don’t think anyone would be surprised if I say that they’re basically avian ninjas.

The Outlaws only appear in one part of the game, known as the ‘Fiendlord’s Keep’, or more commonly known as ‘Magus’ Castle’. This castle, according to legend, is home to 100 monsters, and those monsters usually attack in groups as you move throughout. What’s interesting about these monsters is that they tend to work together and set traps for you. Outlaws are usually paired up with strange yellow creatures called Jugglers. If you choose to attack an Outlaw before first dispatching the Jugglers, they will team up to perform a damaging counter-attack, wherein the Juggler lights the Outlaw’s sword on fire and the Outlaw unleashes a whirling move on all three of your characters. If you haven’t been properly leveling up before this point, it can be a very devastating attack.

So there you have it; three “O”-letter monsters from three of my favorite games. That wasn’t so hard, was it?

Do you have any experience with any of these monsters? Have you ever had any trouble fighting any of them? Do you loathe Ochus as much as I do? Please share!

Enjoying the A to Z Challenge? Why not check out some of these other participating blogs:

A to Z Challenge: (C)hrono Trigger

ChronoTriggerI’ve mentioned before that Chrono Trigger is one of my favorite video games of all time, and that still holds true to this day. I discovered the game through a friend and our local rental joint, and since the day I first rented it I’ve sunk countless hours into it over the years.

Chrono Trigger is a classic RPG-style video game published by Square (known as SquareSoft at the time) for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It was initially released for the SNES on March 11, 1995 in Japan, followed shortly after by a North American release of August 22 of the same year. A few years later the game was re-released for the Playstation One, and then in 2008 it was re-designed and re-released with brand new content for the Nintendo DS handheld console. These days you can also download the full game onto your iOS or Android devices.

The story of the game begins with a young name named Crono meeting a young woman named Marle at the local fair. Crono’s inventor friend, Lucca, is demonstrating her new amazing teleportation machine when something goes wrong and Marle is dragged into a portal that sends her back in time. Crono follows to rescue her, and thus the adventure begins. Through the series of events that follow, our heroes discover that the world is going to be destroyed by an evil creature named Lavos in the future, so they set off on a journey through time to stop that future from happening.

The first time I rented Chrono Trigger I had no idea what the game was about. At the risk of making myself sound foolish, I actually spent close to two hours just playing the little mini-games at the fair before I realized there was more game to the game. And then my world flipped upside-down, because the story that unfolded was one of the greatest that I’d ever encountered. I fell in love with all of the playable characters, and I was entranced by all the different eras that they traveled to, from 65,000,000 BC, all the way up to 2300 AD.

Who doesn't love a game where you get to fight talking dinosaurs?
Who doesn’t love a game where you get to fight talking dinosaurs?

But one of the aspects of the game that truly amazed me was that it was the first game I’d ever played that had multiple endings. Depending on when and where in the game you chose to challenge Lavos, there were a dozen unique endings that you could receive, and some of those would change slightly depending on different choices you could make during the game. There was also a thirteenth possible ending added to the Nintendo DS version.

Some of my favorite memories of Chrono Trigger? Well, back in the SNES days, somewhere along the line I got this idea to use Chrono Trigger as a way to ease my Christmas Eve torment. See, instead of staring at the clock all night and trying to will myself to sleep so present time would come faster, I’d start up a new game of Chrono Trigger and see how fast i could get through the game without skipping any of the events. The game would distract my mind and eventually I’d get sleepy enough to be able to doze off.

Even with hundreds of other games at my disposal, I still regularly get the urge to play this old favorite, and I’ve even played my hand at writing the game’s story in  novel form; that’s how much I love this RPG classic from the SNES era.

Any other Chrono Trigger fans out there? Which system did you first play it on? Do you have a favorite character? Era? Ending? Please share!

Enjoying the A to Z Challenge? Why not check out some of these other participating blogs:

Arlee Bird @ Tossing it Out
Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh
Jeremy @ Hollywood Nuts
Nicole Ayers @ Madlab Post
Author Stephen Tremp
Heather M. Gardner
AJ @ Naturally Sweet
Pam @ An Unconventional Librarian
Matthew MacNish @ The QQQE
Zalka Csenge Virag @ The Multicolored Diary

Still a Nerd, Just One Who Hates the Cold

I’ve always found it interesting how people change as they grow up; or rather, how they both do and don’t change.

A lot of it, of course, is because of what side of a situation you are on. When I was a kid, for example, I absolutely loved the winter. Snow was one of the greatest things ever. I could bundle up and spend all day outside, digging tunnels, making snow angels, building snowmen. Sometimes my mother would have to tell me to come in and eat, because I’d completely lose track of time. I didn’t even feel the cold, because I was too busy having fun. I could never understand how my parents could hate winter so much, and get more and more frustrated every time it snowed. How could they hate snow? Snow was so awesome!

Now, of course, I’m a grown adult and I’m on the other side of the situation. When it snows, my husband and I have to shovel. When it snows a lot, we have to shovel a lot. We spend a great deal of money keeping our house warm while it gets colder and colder outside. We have to put up with the disgusting mess that seems to end up everywhere as a result of the half-slush-half-mud crap that inevitably becomes the most common substance in the world during the winter months. We curse and growl while trying to de-ice the windshield in the morning while our daughter laughs from the inside of the car and declares that she loves snow. In short: I’m a cranky adult and I hate winter now.

Just LOOKING at this fills me with a Hulk-like rage.

This is an example of how people can change as they get older, and there are plenty more. I think a fair bit of the music I listened to as a kid is complete trash, because my musical palette has matured. Some of the foods I used to eat daily as a kid now make me gag because just knowing how bad they are for you changes my ability to taste them the same way. I care a hell of a lot less about what other people think about me because I’ve found myself in the excellent position to understand that in most cases it doesn’t matter two iotas what other people think of me. I’ve changed over the years. My thoughts and opinions have changed, sometimes dramatically.

But then there’s the exception side of the coin, because no one ever really changes completely, do they? There are always going to be remnants of who you were in an earlier time.

For me, you can see it in my nerdiness. I still love almost all of the fandoms I loved as a kid. To this day I can happily sit down and watch and entire season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer without coming up for breath. I’ve been known to track down shows like Sailor Moon and Pokemon just to see if I can still stomach them and found myself curling up to binge-watch with a stupid, giddy smile on my face. I don’t watch Star Wars nearly as often as I used to, but I can still kick a lot of ass at trivia games because all that useless info seems so important to my brain for some reason. I was genuinely upset to find out that they only make three of the Power Rangers as Funko Pop figures because I would kill to have the whole set. I have almost every gaming console that has been available over the past two decades, but I will still happily curl up and play an entire run-through of Final Fantasy III or Chrono Trigger. And the thing is, maybe I’m wrong (because who can really tell?), but I don’t see any of this changing any time soon. I mean, if I’m still playing Final Fantasy III almost twenty years after first discovering it, then there’s probably a pretty good chance that I’ll be playing it in the nursing home when I’m 90, while complaining to the nurses about how this virtual reality junk that the kids play today is nothing compared to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

I don’t know. It just seems funny to me how some attitudes and options can change so dramatically, and yet other things can stick to you like glue throughout your entire life. There’s a psychology research paper in there somewhere, I think.

What about you? Which aspects of your personality have changed so much that the younger version of you wouldn’t understand what the hell had happened, and which things are so much the same that part of  you wonders if you ever really grew up at all?

The Search for Video Game Greatness


To see the first part of this little series, please check out this post about how a young me lost hours upon hours of video game progress. Then, come back here to continue to the tale.

On day four, you wrote a post about losing something. Today, write about finding something. Today’s twist: if you wrote day four’s post as the first in a series, use this one as the second installment – loosely defined.


When last we left this story, I had just accidentally erased all the progress on my beloved Chrono Trigger game cartridge because the game had not been properly seated in the console. But the question was why had the game not been properly seated? I hadn’t removed the game from the console for weeks, so the only explanation was that someone else had, and since I didn’t have any siblings, it could only have been one of my parents. Since my father had no good reason to be in my room without me there, I was pretty certain I knew who the culprit was.

“Mom!” I cried, the frustration of my loss still fresh. “Did you touch my game?!”

She obviously heared the upset in my voice because she came immediately. I explained what had happened and she told me that she had removed the game when she was cleaning up, and didn’t realize that she hadn’t put it back in right. I remember being so mad, and shouting about how there was absolutely no reason for her to need to remove the game while cleaning. At the time I was just so angry and frustrated that it never occurred to me that mabe it was just an excuse…maybe my mother had another, more justifiable reason for popping my Chrono Trigger cartridge out of the console.

You see, another of my favorite games of all time (maybe THE favorite) is Final Fantasy 3, the US version. It was about a year before the Chrono Trigger incident that my best friend and I discovered Final Fantasy 3 for the first time. We found it at the local rental shop and spent more of our spare change and allowance money renting it than I would care to admit to. The problem was that, like most role-playing-games of this age, there were only three save slots, so if you ran out of money to rent it and someone else snagged it in the meantime, there was a damn good chance that your progress would be saved over by the time you got it back. Between this and the fact that FF3 required about 40 hours of gameplay to complete, well…it was damn near impossible for us to get anywhere. I badly wanted my own copy of the game, but this was a time when you were lucky to find the newly-released, super-desired games in stores in Nova Scotia, and shopping on the internet was not yet a thing. I scoured secondhand shops for the game, inquired at school to see if anyone had it and wanted to sell it, and even asked the rental shop owner if they would consider selling it. I wanted it terribly, but I could never find a copy that anyone was willing to part with.

Cue Christmas Day. I got many awesome presents that day, I’m sure, but there’s only one that still stands out in my memory to this day. It was a small, rectangular box, and the first thing I saw as I tore away the wrapping paper was a moogle: a small, white, bear-like creature that is a staple of the Final Fantasy series. I remember absolutely freaking out. I was holding in my hands a copy of Final Fantasy 3, slightly-battered box and all. My parents had contacted a local games shop (which did buy-and-sell) and asked to be notified if a copy of the game ever came in. And then it was finally revealed: the reason my mother had removed my Chrono Trigger cartridge from the console was so that she could test the used game cartridge she had just purchased to make sure it worked before giving it to me.

Needless to say, forgiveness was more than given that day. Sure, my mom had destroyed my save state in one of my favorite games ever, but she had my father had also paid enough attention to me and put in enough effort to track down a copy of a game that I wanted more than anything. I lost hours of gameplay in one game, but they found me the perfect Christmas present, and so all was right in the world for another day.

One Kid’s Video Game is Another Kid’s Raging Obsession

wpid-writing-101-june-2014-class-badge-2-1.png.pngToday’s writing assignment, along with the accompanying twist, introduces us to the idea of linking blog posts together to make a kind of series. Depending on what you choose to write about, this can be a way to keep readers coming back. Just like when reading a series of novels, if your readers enjoy the first one they’re going to want to check out the second. So let’s get on with it, shall we?

Today’s assignment is to write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life and isn’t anymore. Today’s twist: make today’s post the first in a three-part series.

I grew up in the video game revolution. When I was only a toddler I had an Atari with such amazing joy-stick-based games as ‘Mouse Trap’ and ‘Plaque Attack’. When I was a bit older my parents got me a Nintendo Entertainment System and I spent hour upon hour with the Super Mario Bros. The true gem of my childhood, however, was the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, which I got for Christmas when I was about 8 or 9.

The SNES introduced me to some of my very favorite games of all time. I spent ridiculous amounts of time playing The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Final Fantasy 3 (US version), and the little-known gem, Uniracers. And then my best friend told me about this role-playing game that she’d tried out from the local rental place (do you remember those? If not, you’re too young to understand the joy of the SNES). It was called ‘Chrono Trigger’, she told me, and to hear her tell it this game was absolutely amazing.

I rented it for myself one night, and I was immediately hooked. Chrono Trigger had amazing graphics (for the time; shut up, youngsters), an amazing storyline, lovable characters, and something I had never seen before: multiple endings that were rewarded to you depending on certain decisions and achievements you made while playing. It quickly became one of my favorite games of all time (and still is), and it didn’t take long before I’d convinced my dad to buy it for me (a wise financial decision, considering the amount of money I was pumping into rentals).

Owning the game made me obsessed with collecting every item, achieving every ending variant, and maxing out all the characters’ stats. This required a massive amount of grinding (killing enemies over and over again to gain experience in order to gain levels) that took hours and hours of my precious childhood. It may seem silly, and a waste of time to people who don’t play video games, but it was a serious ambition of mine to grind enough to get all the characters up to the maximum level of 100 (denoted by a pair of stars next to the character’s name).

I was getting so close. I had two of the characters maxed out already, three characters in the 90’s levels, and two in the 80’s. I was going to do it.

Then, one day after school I came home, grabbed my SNES controller, and turned the game console on. The screen flashed for a moment, and then remained black. I began to panic immediately.

There may be some of you reading this who are too young to remember cartridge games, but the Super Nintendo had them. Instead of disks or digital downloads we had rectangular hunks of plastic with a circuit board sticking out of the bottom that had to be pressed firmly into the top of the game console. If the game was not properly pressed all the way down before turning the console on, you could cause a short circuit that could cause all kinds of problems. Problems like deleting your game save data.

I touched the top of my Chrono Trigger cartridge and pressed down. It moved a good inch, meaning it hadn’t been seated properly when I’d turned the console on. With my little heart dancing in my chest, I turned the console on again and loaded up the game.

Empty. My game save data was gone, as though the game was fresh from the store.

I can’t describe how I felt at that moment, but it was an interesting mixture of rage and depression. To a kid, losing that many hours of gameplay on a video game is like a college student accidentally deleting the term paper they’ve been working on for weeks. I felt robbed. Robbed of hours and hours of “work”, and robbed of my victory, my bragging rights. I was certain I would never come close to touching this achievement again, and I was right. Even as an adult with a remastered version of the game on a newer console, I never came anywhere near maxing out all my characters’ stats ever again.

But that’s not the end of this tale… You see, I hadn’t removed the Chrono Trigger cartridge from my SNES in weeks. So how, you might wonder, did the cartridge wind up popped out of the console and seated improperly? Well, that’s a story for another day…

A to Z Challenge: A Review

First, I want to give a bit shout-out to all those who are involved in the running of the A to Z Blogging Challenge. It’s got to take a lot of time and dedication to keep track of so many participants, making sure that non-participants are removed from the list, and ensuring that participants get the attention they deserve. Kudos!

Second, a double-huge shout-out to all my fellow participants who made it (sometimes kicking and screaming) to the end of the challenge. Some of those letters were pretty difficult, but you did it! You rock! 😀

Third, a triple-huge shout-out to all those who stopped by my blog during April and commented on my posts. I had some great conversations this month, met some cool new friends, and gained a number of new followers. I hope you all stick close by, because it’s been a blast, and I’ve been truly happy to meet you all. 🙂

The challenge has been a great deal of fun, and I got a lot of great comments on my 26 posts, so as part of this review I present a list of links to each of my posts in case anyone missed anything or is just dropping by now and would like to check a couple of them out.

Day 1: Ariel (the Little Mermaid)Day 2: Buffy Summers (the Vampire Slayer)
Day 3: Castiel (the Monster-Fighting Angel)
Day 4: Deadpool (the Lunatic Assassin)
Day 5: Eric Northman (the Viking Vampire)
Day 6: Freddy Krueger (the Nightmare Demon)
Day 7: Gau (the Wild Orphan)
Day 8: Han Solo (the Cocky Starpilot)
Day 9: Iron Man (the Smarmiest Avenger)
Day 10: James T. Kirk (the Star Fleet Captain)
Day 11: Kefka Palazzo (the Magitek Monster)
Day 12: Lisse (the Child of the Dystopian Future)
Day 13: Magus (the Lost Wizard)
Day 14: Neville Longbottom (the Heart of Gryffindor)
Day 15: Other-Mother (the Other World Evil)
Day 16: Peter Parker (the Spider-Man)
Day 17: Qui-Gon Jinn (the Jedi Knight)
Day 18: Ryuk (the Shinigami)
Day 19: Sherlock Holmes (the High-Functioning Sociopath)
Day 20: Tyrion Lannister (the Exceptionally Clever Imp)
Day 21: Usagi Tsukino (the Sailor Senshi)
Day 22: Victoria MacKinnon (the Lost Princess)
Day 23: Winchester Brothers (the Monster Hunters)
Day 24: Xander Harris (the Lovable Sidekick)
Day 25: Yuki Miaka (the Girl from Other World)
Day 26: Zelda (the Hyrulian Princess)

In case you somehow missed it, my theme for the challenge was “Fictional Characters”. Each one of these characters, even the ones chosen out of duress of very difficult letters, holds a special place in my heart for one reason or another. The TV shows, movies, comics, cartoons, and video games mentioned were overwhelmingly a great part of my childhood, and in some cases an incredible part of my adulthood. If you’ve got the time, check some of them out. You totally won’t be disappointed.

And finally, before I sign off, I wanted to share with you a couple of the blogs that I’ve come across during this particular challenge. I came into contact with so many awesome fellow bloggers this past month that it’s impossible to mention them all, but these are a couple of the ones I fully plan to keep tabs on even now that the challenge is over.

A Scenic Route – Kirsten is a fellow writer who blogs about her “journey into noveldom”. This month she wrote a wonderful series of posts with the theme “Backstage at the Blog”, in which she gave some wonderful tips, hints, and ideas for fellow bloggers, in addition to sharing info about her own blogging journey.

Sophie’s Thoughts and Fumbles – Sophie is a writer of many genres who uses her blog as a place to talk about reading, writing, all the topics in between, and whatever else she so desires. She is also the brains behind the mini-challenge that a few of us participated in in addition to the A to Z challenge: the Supernatural A to Z Challenge. She wrote about ghosts and ghoulies this month, and while I didn’t often comment on her posts because my WordPress reader doesn’t make it easy for me to deal with other blogging websites, I still thoroughly enjoyed reading about all the creepy creatures that she posted.

Alex Hurst – Alex is one of my favorite new people because she is fun, bubbly, and friendly, and we apparently have a great deal in common. The fantasy writer spent the month talking about different aspects of writing and being a writer. Her post “J for Jargon” cracked me up because so many of the definitions she came up with were SO TRUE.

I would love to share some more blogs, and perhaps I will in the future, but this has been such a busy month that I simply do not have the time it would take to go through all the wonderful blogs I’ve found during this challenge. However, if you’re really, truly interested in finding some great new people to follow, check out the A to Z sign-up list and just start clicking. There are literally hundreds of wonderful blogs amongst that list.

And now, with all that aside, I must say adieu, and take a much-deserved nap. Cheers everyone! ❤

A to Z Challenge Day 13: Magus (the Lost Wizard)


If there was a game in my childhood that rivaled the obsessive qualities that Final Fantasy III instilled in me, that game is Chrono Trigger. Like it’s counterpart, I spent hours upon hours on this game, trying to find every item and get every one of the alternate endings (back in the days when we couldn’t cheat by looking it up on the internet). In fact, the first couple of times I rented the game I didn’t even realize that there was any more to the game than the Millennial Fair bit at the beginning. I was having so much fun with the little fair mini-games that I actually rented the game twice before I discovered that there was more game…a lot more!

I loved all of the characters in Chrono Trigger, but Magus was definitely one of my favorites. For one thing, he was an excellent addition to a party since he could use all four types of magic. For another, I simply loved his back-story. (SPOILER ALERT!) See, Magus’ real name was Janus, and as a child he was an inhabitant of the magical kingdom of Zeal. He had the misfortune to have a power-mad queen mother who decided to build a magical palace that would call forth the dread destructive creature, Lavos. She hoped to obtain its power for herself, but instead it destroyed her kingdom and warped time and space, creating a number of worm holes. One such wormhole sucked in poor Janus and sent him hurtling through time to the middle ages (many years in the future for him). He was “adopted” by monsters and eventually became their ruler, a magical villain who tormented the nearby kingdom of Guardia. Eventually Chrono and his friends take on Magus, only to discover that he has been trying to summon Lavos again, in hopes of destroying the horrid creature who decimated his life. Ironically he (along with the others) is then hurled back to the time of the kingdom of Zeal where he gets to watch the entire terrible thing happen all over again, unable to stop it, and eventually joins Chrono’s party in hopes of taking part in saving the world from Lavos’ eventual destruction.

It always struck me as this wonderful, terribly sad story. When we first meet Magus he’s a bad guy, no doubts about it, but as the story progresses we learn that he only became that way because his life and everyone he knew was taken away from him, and when it becomes clear that there’s no way he can ever change that, he decides to devote himself to ensuring that Lavos is stopped, one way or the other. Isn’t that just a great story? I always thought so, and it definitely added to the joy that was Chrono Trigger. 🙂

Fiction Fragment Fridays: Chrono Trigger Timeless (The Future)


I still haven’t had time to get back into my Final Fantasy novelization (I really need to get some organization up in this thing I call my life), so for the third week in a row, here’s a clip from my Chrono Trigger novelization. This one is from the scene when Chrono and the girls first discover that they have truly traveled to the future and that it has been destroyed because of the evil creature, Lavos.


Crono (Front)*Spites via http://www.videogamesprites.net

“Lucca…” he whispered, “What year are we in?”

Lucca shook herself back to the moment, her eyes wide and mouth dry. She examined another console for a few moments before finding the answer. “We’re…” she stumbled, “We’re in the year 2300 A.D.”

Chrono could barely stand under the weight of the words. “2300…” he whispered, “That thing screwed up the world so much that the survivors couldn’t drag themselves out of it in 300 years?” He couldn’t help imagining it…that awful creature rampaging through the lands…all the survivors holed up in the domes, hiding and scared…slowly, over time, they would begin to run out of supplies. For a while they probably went out in search of new supplies, but the land wasn’t helpful and people began to die…soon there were only a handful of survivors in each dome, struggling just to keep moving forward.

“No!” Marle cried suddenly, “No way! I refuse to accept it!” She jumped to her feet, tears of anger streaming down her face. “This…this can’t be the way the world ends!”

Lucca looked at her with miserable eyes. She opened her mouth, but couldn’t figure out what to say.

“Marle…” Chrono sighed.

“Chrono!” she shouted back. She stomped up to him and grabbed him by the shoulders. “There’s only one thing we can do! We must change history! Just like you did when you saved me!” Her eyes were so full of light and hope that Chrono couldn’t look away. “We have to figure out how this happened, and we have to change it!” She ran to Lucca and shook her. “Okay Lucca?!” she cried.

“I…” Lucca stumbled, “I…guess so…” She seemed uncomfortable and unsure of herself.

Marle ran back to Chrono and grabbed him by the face, forcing him to look directly into her eyes. “Chrono…” she said quietly, “Please…”

Lucca was starting to come into the idea. “We can’t just go back to our own world and live comfortably after seeing this…” she spoke to herself, “Especially since it’s going to happen in our time…really, it was a stroke of luck that the Gate sent us here…”

Chrono was still staring into Marle’s eyes. There were so many emotions there…fear, desperation, sorrow…and hope. Slowly, Chrono raised his arms and mirrored Marle’s stance, holding her face in his hands. “Let’s do it,” he whispered with a smile.

“Chrono!” Marle sobbed. She collapsed toward him in a huge hug before stepping back and swiping the tears away from her eyes. “Chrono, Lucca…” she said, “We can do this together…I’m sure of it!”

Lucca nodded, suddenly very sure of everything, and grinned. “There is absolutely no way we will fail!” she insisted, “We know about Gates now, and we have the Gate Key. All we have to do is find an era with answers about where that creature came from.”

Normally it would have sounded like an insane statement, but somehow Chrono knew they could do it. “Then we’d better get going!” he announced.

“Next stop, Proto Dome!” Lucca cried, pumping a fist into the air.