Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Video Game Rhapsody

It was a gray and windy and surprisingly chilly for this time of year when I got up this morning around 9:30. I read and wrote in my journal for an hour until Lauren started stirring on the couch in the living room. We had cereal for breakfast (and strawberries in my case - Lauren's not a big breakfast person), listened to records, and headed out for a walk.

Our first stop was The House of Fun on the White Horse Pike in Oaklyn, across from City Hall. I've debated buying a video game console for a while. Yes, you can play games online, and I'm not the world's biggest gamer. On the other hand, after the nasty winter we had, I thought it would be nice to have a fun way to work out in inclement weather when I can't get outside. I know the Wii and similar recent systems have games that emphasize exercise and movement. It would be fun to have something to play with Lauren, Jessa, and other rare visitors as well.

The House of Fun, a toy and collectibles shop, was actually a little cleaned-up compared to what it usually looks like. There was still stuff all over the place, but some of it was actually on shelves, and they had more plexiglass cases for expensive or collectible items. Lauren bought an Atari 2600 there two years ago that she loves. I hit the jackpot - they had a red Wii in its box, with all its wires and a controller, for $75. I tossed in Super Paper Mario, the only interesting Wii game they had, and brought it up to $95. (Lauren didn't get anything there this year - she was looking for the Atari version of Dig Dug, but they didn't have it.)

The Wii was surprisingly heavy for such a small console, so we took it back to my apartment. We opened the box to make sure it had everything it was supposed to. Yes, it did, along with one of the two games advertised on the box, Wii Sports. (Super Mario Wii was missing, but you can get that anywhere.) We headed back out after checking the console over.

This time, we went down Newton Avenue and over the train bridge into Audubon. Our first stop there was a small collectibles and antique store on the corner of Atlantic and Merchant Avenue. It's pretty new - I've only seen it there a few months. They had shelves of interesting items, ranging from an antique sewing machine to Simpsons dolls and a Fisher Price Little People Garage from the 80s (Lauren and her brother and my sisters and I had it when we were kids). I didn't see anything I wanted, but Lauren bought three Animaniacs comic books and a vintage Beetle Bailey comic book for a $1 each.

Next up was Desserts By Design a few doors down. The kindly owner was busy with customers coming in and ordering snacks for their offices, but she did slow down enough to bag a chocolate cupcake with cream cheese icing topped with fresh blueberries for me and a vanilla cupcake topped with buttercream icing and milk chocolate pretzels for Lauren. We enjoyed our treats on a bench outside the empty storefront that used to be a dance studio.

We almost passed by Abbie Road. Bob had his "closed" sign up - he forgot to turn it to open! I'm glad we didn't miss him. He was having a sale on used CDs, $2 each, or 6 for $10. Lauren bought 12 CDs, mostly country titles for her and her dad. I bought:

Kenny Loggins - The Greatest Hits of Kenny Loggins

Dionne Warwick - Greatest Hits 1979-1990

Jim Croce - Photographs & Memories: His Greatest Hits

Spike Jones and His City Slickers - The Wacky World of Spike Jones

Lena Horne - An Evening With Lena Horne

The original cast album for Jersey Boys (I figured it was appropriate, given the movie's coming out this summer.)

We had lunch at Applebee's near the Acme at the Audubon Crossings Shopping Center. It was past 2PM by then, which means the place was pretty quiet except for one or two families and a couple of barflies watching the US Open. We both had that lunch combo special that lets you pick a sandwich and a salad or a soup for a fixed price. I went with spinach salad and a chicken ciabatta sandwich. Lauren had the Clubhouse Grille and tortilla soup. Lauren paid; her parents gave her an Applebee's gift card they didn't want to use.

We strolled behind the Acme and over to the main shopping center. I always forget about the Game Stop over there. It's far smaller than the huge Game Stop in Westmont. They're usually really busy and a bit of a mess. They'd cleaned up and reorganized considerably since the last time I was there. We were the only people in the store, a rare thing in there after school. Lauren bought Kirby's Epic Yarn, which she'd been after for months. I was delighted to find Kirby's Dream Collection, featuring every Kirby game that had been made up to that point, including the popular Super Nintendo title Kirby's Super Star that Keefe and I played constantly in the mid-late 90s. I also grabbed a second controller so Lauren could join in. We once again hit the jackpot. Seems both titles and the controller had been originally owned by an older man and his wife who had treated their games and console extremely well and had finally sold their collection when they upgraded to Wii U. All three were in mint condition - the controller's wrist guard was even spotless.

After a brief stop at Rue 21 just to browse around, we walked home. The day wasn't getting any warmer or sunnier, and we wanted to check out our new games. We kicked off by making Miis (game avatars) of ourselves before starting with Kirby's Epic Yarn. This adorable game takes pink gumball-like critter Kirby to another dimension made entirely of yarn and fabric. An evil yarn sorcerer has literally made the fabric of Patch World come unraveled. It's up to Kirby and Prince Puff to find the magic yarn to stitch the world back together and get Kirby home!

Very, very cute. The yarn world is fun and creative. It allows you to do everything from swing up to high places to get stars and beads (replacements for the coins one usually gets in cartoon side-scrollers) to turn into vehicles like a tank or spaceships. You also gather objects to build your own little room for while you're in Patch World, sort of like the WebKinz' rooms.

When we switched to Kirby's Dream Collection, I had to play Super Star. Kirby's Super Star is actually a series of six long games and three "mini" (shorter) games. You have to win the first two, "Spring Breeze" (basic side-scroller with a fight with King Dedede at the end) and "Dynablade" (slightly harder side-scroller that ends with going up against the title bird who has been destroying crops) to open two more. We only got to the first two. I forgot you have to "create" the second player when you gain a new ability after eating a bad guy. I kept losing Lauren.

We ran episodes of Good Eats while I made salmon, whole-wheat pasta, and green salad with radishes for dinner. Alton did shows on pantry staples early in the series, including one on boiling pasta and on the many uses for honey. I made that key lime cake from the mix I bought last week as well. Lauren ate more than I did, for once. I had some chocolate chip cookies from earlier and was still full from dinner.

Tomorrow, the weather will hopefully cooperate long enough for us to go into Philly for a stroll around to check out a couple of stores, including the big FYE across from City Hall.

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