Oh, the Places I’d Go!

“Heading, sir?”

“Out there… thataway.”

In Star Trek: The Motion Picture, these are the final lines of the film. They are meant to represent the care-free attitude that Kirk now has as everything is as it should be. But, oddly enough it makes a good reflection for my reaction when asked about where I want to go. Instead of being care-free, I find myself not having much of an idea of where to go or even where to go when I get there.

But that’s something I’m going to try and alleviate here. I’ll put to digital paper the places I most want to go to and try to highlight what I would out want to do or see while I’m there. The sky is the limit here, since I haven’t done a whole lot of traveling so far.

New York (State of Mind)

New York has to be without a doubt the center of the cultural, financial, and at times, political worlds. Aside from very touristy things (Museums, Statue of Liberty, and Times Square) I would want to make it a point to visit the World Trade Memorial, visit some under the radar restaurants, and take a stroll through Central Park. I’d also want to see a show on Broadway, though I don’t know if it should be one I haven’t seen before or not. But aside from those, I don’t know enough about what all should be seen in New York.

London

I’ve always had a curiosity about life across the pond, and would greatly enjoy visiting where “all the history is”. I know I’d want to see a true Shakespeare play done as it was meant to be. If it was Much Ado About Nothing that would be perfect. But while there I could pop into a pub, see a football game and gain a new appreciation for the sport. On the subject of sports, it’d be the perfect spot to do a round of golf. Clearly some tourist things will have to happen like riding the London Eye, riding the Tube, and a stop by Buckingham Palace and Parliment. And let’s not forget, I’d be ridiculous missing out on true English tea and a castle if they are still standing.

img_3243Washington, D.C.

Somehow, I feel there is a lot to do here without needing to look at what is available. Between the Smithsonian, the multitude of memorials, and active buildings like the White House and Congress there’s plenty of American history to observe. As far as what else to do that’s where I get both fuzzy and unclear. I wonder if there would be enough time for anything else or if something else would even catch my interest.

Los Angeles / San Francisco

Both the City of Angels and San Fran are joined together since they are geographically in the same area. I can tell you in both places I would want to visit the beach, but that’s really where the similarities end. But at the same time, that’s also the end of what I positively know I would want to do in either city. I only know that I would want to go.

Italy… but Gary would never want to come home! 

Sure, it’s a country and not just a city, but there are truly plenty of places I would want to visit here. Venice, Florence, Rome, the island of Sicily, Tuscany… each region and city has it’s own vibrant history and ideas on what to do with food. Truly, those are the two primary reasons I want to go to Italy. You have Roman ruins, World War memorials, a heaping lot of vineyards, and possibly a breathtaking view from a hike up a mountain. But aside from that? Yeah, I don’t know what else to do there. The only thing I know for certain is that I have no desire to go to Vatican City; I simply don’t believe I would feel welcome there. Gary just told me that I’m getting overruled there… he’s got a thing for the Swiss Guards.


Seattle

But, wait, didn’t I go there once already? That’s right, but I want to go again for a few different reasons. More than any other city on this list I know what to expect since I was there. I believe I would be better prepared to try and catch a game for either the Mariners or Seahawks. Or to bring back some of that infamous fresh food from Pike’s Place. I’d want to see more local restaurants, bars, and coffee houses. I may be a big ol’ fan of Starbucks, but it won’t hurt to branch out, right? But I even have a time in mind that I’d want to go. Usually around August or September there is a conference that happens that becomes open to the public, PAX, or the Penny Arcade Expo. It lasts over the weekend and it attracts game publishers from around the globe to descend and show off what they are working on. Aside from trying out what’s still to come and the general experience of being at a convention of that size, I’d love to network. Try and meet other gamers that do what they can to stream and support each other in growing larger. It sounds wonderful but I haven’t the foggiest idea how much it costs.

11150395_10153720605504325_1167098573637867497_n

There are other places I would like to go, like Egypt, or Boston, but I wanted to limit myself to a few of my top places. I know Gary and I want to try and take a trip sometime next year or possibly this year if we can manage it. But on the other hand we all know how much of a penny-pincher I can be. Still, I’m optimistic that we will manage to cobble the money together. Clearly, no matter where we end up both of us will end up talking about it on our blogs. And I can’t wait to tell you how it goes.

 

Five of the Best Games for Xbox One Under $20

Here it is, the last in a series of three posts on cheap games for your console of choice. Remember, these will be $20 or less and must have been developed with the Xbox One in mind. That means, in this case, none of the backwards compatible titles will be featured. Also, if a title has been mentioned for another system, you won’t see it here (Rocket League, anyone?)

2607889-tf_fracture_battle_0+(1)Titanfall

Titanfall is from the creators of Call of Duty, and is an online multiplayer only title that casts you on one of two sides gifting for dominance. The story isn’t important, but the gameplay is what shines in this Xbox title. You play a human soldier equipped with a jetpack that enables you to run amok in every direction on the map and truly strike in inventive ways. There’s also an ability to call a Titan, large humanoid mechs that are heavily armed and armored. It’s now a $20 download on the Xbox Store with all the DLC, or Gamestop offers a new disc for $12. The three DLC packs are now free.

imageMinecraft

Yes, that one building game you’ve heard so much about also happens to be one of the best games out there for $20 for any system. Not only can you build to your heart’s content, but you can also make it more of a challenge by playing through a survival mode that forces you to seek or build shelter or else face what comes out at night. It’s also a fantastic title to play with kids with split-screen and online multiplayer, and it encourages an enormous amount of creativity. It’s on the Xbox Store as a download or at Gamestop as a disc. If you have a different system, it’s also available for the PS3 (download/disc), PS4 (download/disc), PS Vita (download), and in Beta form for Windows 10.

image-2Guacamelee!

On the Xbox One, Guacamelee becomes the Super Turbo Championship Edition. Regardless of the fancy title, at it’s heart Guacamelee is a Metroidvania style game with deep Mexican roots. You play as Juan Aguacate, an agave farmer who must save El Presidente’s daughter from Carlos Calaca, before he can use her to merge the worlds of the living and the dead. Aside from the bright visual nature, Guacamelee offers challenging combat for even the most seasoned of gamer, and co-op play so you don’t battle alone. Guacamelee is $15 as a download for the Xbox One, Xbox 360, Playstation 4, Playstation 3, PS Vita, the Wii U, and is on Steam for Windows PC.

maxresdefaultOri and the Blind Forest

You cannot talk about must have titles on the Xbox One at any price point without talking about this gem. Ori and the Blind Forest is about an orphan that is about to discover how heroic they really are. Seriously, saying anything else about the plot will spoil it. The game’s environments are completely hand-crafted, and earned it the best Art Direction award at this year’s Game Awards. At those same awards it was also nominated for best action/adventure title, indie game, and for it’s soundtrack which is available for purchase or stream. Seriously, go play it, it’s a truly remarkable game. It sells as a download for $20 on the Xbox One and Windows PCs via Steam. An Xbox 360 version is currently under development.

image-3Trials Fusion

Trials Fusion is one of the strangest puzzle games you will ever see. On the surface it’s anything but. You control a motocross rider who must use his skills to best each dizzying, height-defying track that comes his way. The levels only get zanier as you try to go on. But aside form the built-in levels you can also create your own, share them, and race against your friends to find the best time. Trials Fusion is a $20 download for Xbox One, Xbox 360, Playstation 4, and Windows PCs via Steam.

And there you go: five titles for the Xbox One that are fantastic at under $20. That closes out my series on some of the best cheap games out there for the Playstation 4, Wii U, and Xbox One. Have an idea for a post or series of posts! Let me know with a comment, tweet, email, message, or just let me know!

Five of the Best Wii U Games for Under $20

Last week I covered the five best PS4 games available for $20 or less, and today we turn our attention to the Wii U. The Wii U from Nintendo has a huge list of titles available for under $20, largely due to it having backwards compatibility with the entire original Wii lineup. It makes for a staggering collection, but I’ll be focusing on games published specifically for the Wii U and not simply playable through backwards compatibility.

deus exDeus Ex: Human Revolution – Director’s Cut

He never asked for this, but it became a hit anyway. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a prequel game looking at the story of Adam Jensen, a security specialist who becomes terribly scarred after a terrorist attack at his employer’s HQ in Detroit. Just so happens his employer, Sarif Industries, specializes in human augmentation. Imagine bionic implants and artificial limbs that give better performance, and you have the right idea. Revived, his mission becomes finding out who took a leading scientist and why. Gameplay sees you using any means at your disposal to complete your objectives. If you want to kill nobody, and be a stealthy hacker you can. The Director’s Cut boasts improved boss fights that become tailored to your style of play, all the DLC, and fantastic use of the gamepad’s screen. GameStop offers up used copies for $19.99, but it’s still $50 on Nintendo’s eShop.

child of lightChild of Light

In Child of Light, you play as Aurora, a princess who has been transported to a world called Lemuria. She quickly comes to discover that she needs to rescue the moon, stars, and the sun from the Dark Queen and that her father’s life depends upon it. Child of Light is a turn-based RPG that looks gorgeous at every turn. The dialogue is all text-based, and might grate on some, as it’s done in a very poem like fashion and everything ends up rhyming. The combat itself is well done and features plenty of abilities for you and your companions, and never feels cheap or unmanageable. Child of Light is available as a download for $15 on the eShop Store. Or, you can download it for the same price on the Playstation Store for PS4, PS3, or PS Vita, over Xbox Live for the Xbox One or Xbox 360, or for Windows PCs over Steam.

lego marvelLego Marvel Super Heroes

This is one of the best games a Marvel Comics fan could hope for. You control all your favorite characters from all corners of the Marvel Universe in blocky form in a convenient version of Manhattan. How is it convenient? I’m pretty sure the X-Mansion is not in the city. Despite nitpicks like that, Lego Marvel Super Heroes introduced a number of new gameplay elements like Big Figures, and does excellent fan service. Dead pool narrates some side missions, and even some B-characters like Moon Knight and Captain Britain get highlighted. Lego games also make for one of the best co-op games out there. It’s available as a download on the eShop for $19.99, or sold as a disc at Gamestop for the same price. Have a different system? It’s on the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, or Mac and PC via Steam.

ducktalesDucktales Remastered

Life is like a hurricane here in Duckberg. Now that that song is stuck in your head, Ducktales will take you back just as quickly. It’s a remaster of a classic NES system. It’s a great, but challenging alternative to a Mario game. The game sees Scrooge and his nephews hunting down the Five Legendary Treasures. It’s a download on the eShop for $15 or on a disc for $20 at Gamestop. It’s also on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Windows PCs via Steam.

metroid primeMetroid Prime Trilogy

Without a doubt, this is one of the best values in all of the eShop. For $19.99, you’re given three games, all tooled to take advantage of the Wii Remote. You guide bounty hunter Samus Aran as she pursues Ridley and the Space Pirates and stumbles upon a dangerous compound: Phazon. This trio of games are all first person, which at the time of the first game was a huge gamble but it paid off immensely. If you can handle a first-person game with plenty of exploration, don’t hesitate to try these out. It’s a Wii U exclusive download right here.

There you have it, five fantastic titles to play on your Wii U, right now. Some of them are available through Gamefly, but Redbox does not offer any Wii U titles. Stick around as next week we are looking at the Xbox One’s best titles under $20.

When a House Becomes a Home

Gary and I very recently welcomed in a couple of new purchases that I feel I am far more excited about than I should be: a new washer and dryer set from Samsung. The washer is a top-load, that has a huge drum inside of it that manages to clean at least twice as much as we used to be able to. That alone makes me happy that I won’t be devoting as much time to laundry as I should, but it’s also super quiet and intelligent. See, before the load even begins, the drum rotates back and forth. As far as we can tell, the washer does that to let the clothes settle, and possibly to weigh what is in there. Only then does it start taking in water and giving you an ETA. Also there’s just the sight of being able to plop an entire basket of clothes inside and still have room for more. The dryer is good too, it sounds just like any other dryer, but I’m noticing that some of Gary’s cardigans are more consistently dry then they were with our previous models. Aside from that, it also boasts the ability to steam clothes on a removable rack. I don’t even have to iron unless I want to! Huzzah! And there’s a paragraph on laundry. I didn’t just jump the shark, I pole-vaulted. IMG_2591

But why am I talking about a household chore? Well, the buying of these appliances was sparked by the notion/realization by Gary and I that we are going to be staying at the house we live in for the foreseeable future. So, we figure why not start making the house truly ours by adding or removing things as we see fit? The washer and dryer are only the beginning. We are also planning on getting a new microwave, though I don’t know if that’s more to have a new one we can truly call our own or if we are too lazy to actually clean it. And one other change that I’m excited for: laminate flooring.

I imagine that will be a true pain in the ass to deal with as far as installation goes, but I think laminate or hardwood makes a place seem more rustic. When combined with my taste in modern home decor that can involve smooth metallic surfaces and glass, I imagine it’ll be a good-looking combination. But I feel like the microwave and laminate floors are fish sticks compared to the other thing we want to replace: the stove.

And it won’t be an easy one to do either, Gary wants to ensure the color of the stove will match the fridge and the new washer and dryer. But aside from that, we need to have a gas stove. Gary says it cooks evenly and I have no idea if that is true. What I would rather have are the induction stoves that have no coils on them, just a flat cooking surface. I think it’s more visually appealing but is immensely easier to clean. But. one thing I’m seeing a lot of are included griddles with gas stoves. You place them in the center of the top cooking area and it has a dedicated heat point. It’s going to be ideal for pancakes or grilling a burger in the middle of winter. Oh! Or grilled shrimp. Drooling_homer

Aside from that I’m sure over time we will want to paint a wall, or put something up on the wall, but at that point the house will have effectively become our home. It’ll be filled and more or less filled with our things. It’ll become that place we can come to and things will be where we want them to be and we have complete control over it. Who am I kidding, we all know these two truly rule, no matter what we do to the house. IMG_2593

But in all seriousness, there is still one thing that irks me about getting stuff of our own. Everything works. There was nothing wrong with the appliances we have had before, and part of me doesn’t like spending money on something like that when we don’t need it. Despite that dissonance, something has changed in my own thought process. The appliances will be ours and should we move we can take them with us. Where before I would argue to save money, now I’m choosing to embrace the spending. It starts with a washer and dryer but it will end with having a house become our home. And in the end that means everything.

Five of the Best PS4 Games for Under $20

Hey, we’ve all been there at some point. You just got a new console, and you want to get the best games, but you want to get it on the cheap. I’m here to help. Over the next few weeks I’ll be highlighting a few games on each of the three major consoles that should be grabbed by every new owner. This week? We’re looking at the PlayStation 4.

rocket league
Rocket League

If you haven’t heard about this game before now, it’s become one of the biggest surprises of the last year. In Rocket League, you control a vehicle that has a rocket boost ability and some jumping and flipping abilities. The entire game centers around using this vehicle to pull off amazing shots in vehicular soccer. It’s an addicting game, and no one match is the same. Locally, you can play with up to four players; but online you can play with two teams of four. Rocket League is available right here for $19.99.

injusticeInjustice: Gods Among Us – Ultimate Edition

While waiting for Street Fighter V to launch, why not have another fighting game to wait it out? Injustice is from the makers of Mortal Kombat but features only DC Comics characters. It’s just the game you need to settle fights between friends like if Bane could beat Solomon Grundy. It’s not as brutal as Mortal Kombat, but goes over the top by utilizing each character’s abilities. Injustice also features a story campaign, specific missions to complete, and online multiplayer. Further, there’s also a mobile game that interacts with the console game and unlocks alternative costumes. Injustice is available here for download or through Gamestop on disc for $19.99

Peggle 2Peggle 2

Oh yea, Peggle is still addictive. Peggle 2 doesn’t reinvent the gameplay you know, but it does swap out most of the Peggle Masters for new ones, bringing new abilities, and new music to the table. While Bjorn still plays “Ode to Joy” when you clear all the pegs, other Masters play other classic pieces of music like the 1812 Overture. Aside from the campaign and challenges, Peggle does offer some multiplayer, but not as good of multiplayer as the first game. Peggle 2 is available as a download here for $12, but the DLC and base game are available for $15.

infamous ssinFAMOUS Second Son

inFAMOUS is an open world action game with super powers and karmic choices that steer the story. It’s also set in Seattle where you rise up against a totalitarian government that tries to label you as a bioterrorist. In contrast to the previous games in the series, your character has access to the powers of smoke and neon among others. It also happens to be one of the most visually stunning games in the launch window lineup. inFAMOUS Second Son is also exclusive to the PS4, and is available for download here for $19.99 or on disc at Gamestop here.

tomb raiderTomb Raider: Definitive Edition

Playstation fans might have to wait until this coming fall to get their hands on Rise of the Tomb Raider, but that just means you have time to play the stellar rebooted game. On Lara Croft’s first adventure, her ship is pulled in and crashes on the shores of an island. Lara then has to fight to get her crewmates to safety while under fire from religious radicals that worship an old Sun God. Tomb Raider’s Definitive Edition also has all of the DLC, giving you all the outfits and extra downloadable weapons for multiplayer. Further, the Definitive Edition features improved graphics that weren’t doable last console generation. Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition is $20 on disc at Gamestop.

There you have it, five stellar titles that have broad appeal on the cheap. Don’t be afraid to try games out either. Playstation 4 offers demos for a whopping 77 titles. Or, if you don’t mind spending a bit of money to try a game out, Gamefly and Redbox both offer the ability to rent games for either a subscription or per game price. Next week we will take a look at the best Wii U games for $20 or less.