The 3DS Mii Plaza “Line” feature is needlessly complicated

My favorite feature of both recent portable systems has been their weird little community systems.  Sadly, the Vita’s “Near” never really took off, but Streetpass seemed to do pretty well – at least, once Nintendo added Streetpass Relay stations to every McDonalds and Home Depot.

There are two Home Depots and probably a half dozen McDonalds within 20 miles of me.  I have ALL the puzzle pieces, which is an accomplishment I should probably be a lot less proud of, and I’ve finished Find Mi I & II enough times to have every achievement.  I never bought any of the other Streetpass games, though, and therein lies the problem I ran in to recently.

See, I’m going to be heading to Hawaii and Japan in a couple of months, and with the Switch taking off and the 3DS on its last batch of releases this is probably my last chance to collect passes and fill out my map and birthday calendar.  So I figured that I would drop the five bucks for the expanded Mii Plaza, specifically to get the feature that lets you queue 100 Miis instead of just 10.

It turned out not to be so simple.  After going into a couple of Streetpass Relay stations, I was up to 10 Miis in my queue, but it wouldn’t go over that.  Some quick Google searches showed me that the Line feature doesn’t let me actually collect 100 Miis passively – I still need to open the 3DS every once in a while and send them to the Line, where up to 100 will accumulate.  It still saves time, I guess, but it’s not the solution I was hoping for.

Also, I could not figure out how to USE the Line.  I’d collect a few Miis, open the Mii Plaza app, and I’d immediately be at the gate greeting new Miis.

The short version of all this is: If you don’t have any games that aren’t completed, you never get the opportunity to send Miis to the line, because the option is only available on the menu that pops up to tell you that you haven’t played all of your games with all of the Miis already at the gate.  So, the solution was to start a game of Find Mii, and now the game actually DOES prompt me to send new arrivals into the line and I’m finally getting the benefit of the Mii Plaza expansion.  It took me nearly a week to figure it out, and way more trips to Streetpass Relay locations to gather more Miis than I really want to admit.

I’ve got it sorted now, but this has to be one of the most Nintendo solutions to a problem that I’ve ever seen.

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Finding your Amazon Locker Pickup Code

Boring post title, I know. This is another one of those cases where I had a minor annoyance and thought I’d do my best to spare others of the same. 

I work an odd shift, and I’m a bit of a shut-in anyway, so I get a lot of stuff delivered from Amazon. I’m not a huge fan of having packages left at the front door, though, so I usually get them sent to work. It adds peace of mind. 

I am currently not in the good graces of our mail room, however, due to a tiny lapse in judgement that absolutely anyone could have made. 

If you must know, I had a chainsaw shipped to work. It turns out that some people consider that a “dangerous item” that violates our security policies. For the record, our building’s security manager is a very nice chap and I wouldn’t have had the chance to meet him otherwise, so it’s not like it was all bad. 

So… I don’t want to have anything sent to work until they’ve had a chance to forget that. A year sounds about right. 

I’m relaxing my standards on what I’ll ship home, but for anything more than 20 bucks or so I’m still probably going to want it delivered somewhere secure.

Enter the Amazon Locker. I’ve used these once before, when I was traveling and wanted something sent to me, but it’s been several years since – fortunately, long enough for one to finally exist in my fairly small home town. 

So I placed a small order to be delivered to the local locker, and I checked the Amazon app today and noticed that it had been delivered. 

There was only one problem: I didn’t get the delivery notification email that would have included the pickup code to actually open the locker. I checked my spam folder, even, with no luck. It does turn out that my email provider has been a little over aggressive with the spam filtering, so I need to figure out how to tell it to tone that down, but that wasn’t helpful in actually getting to the package. 

There’s also no “resend code” on the Amazon web site, or at least not one I could find. 

It turns out that, should you find yourself in similar straits, the pickup code is available on the TRACKING screen for the package. This may seem obvious, and in retrospect it IS kind of obvious, but I had a few panicked moments before I thought to look there. 

Also, chainsaws are not appropriate objects to be sent to the office mail room. That’s probably more obvious still, but sometimes I am not the brightest bulb on the strand. 

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An Unexpected Reference

So, continuing with the Macross 30th Anniversary game, I’m on Chapter 4 (of 9) now and the whole thing is a massive helping of the best kind of fan-service. I now understand how all of the assorted divas of the Macross universe are being sucked through time and space, and even why. 

I won’t go into that here. What I will talk about is what I think is the game actually acknowledging the existence of Macross II, a series which is generally – some would say rightfully – ignored and which is officially a “parallel world” story. 

See, there’s a flashback in which we get some insight into the main character’s motivation and why he has such an intense rivalry with another pilot, and it turns out that they’re from the same planet that was attacked by rogue Zentradi and that someone important to both of them died in the attack. 

That’s not the point, however. The surprising thing is that the main character makes a point of saying that the Minmei Defense failed, which is why the Zentradi were able to do so much damage. I’m not actually a HUGE encyclopedia of Macross lore, but I *think* that the only previous use of the Minmei attack for planetary defense purposes was seen in Macross II. I could, of course, be wrong here, but I choose to believe that it’s a neat nod, kind of like when Dr. Who mentions an 8th doctor or when the American Godzilla gets a reference in a proper Godzilla movie. It acknowledges that even the worst example of a series must have SOME fans and it doesn’t hurt to toss them a bone. 

Actually, the “worst example” of a Macross series is pretty debatable. I’ve never been able to make it past the first dozen episodes of Macross 7, for example, and I actually fell asleep watching Macross Plus, so…

To be clear, I’m not a “1982 Macross or GTFO” fan by any means. I do like the original (and associated movie), Zero, and Frontier. TBH, I think Frontier may be my favorite Macross that isn’t DYRL, but I still need to watch Delta. I’ll let you know if that changes things. 🙂

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Milestones, Visualized:

This rather horrifying clutter of wire shelving, displays, and systems:

Into this:

Next up (after finishing Macross) is to move the WiiU into the space where the PS3 currently is on the middle shelf here, then get busy on the four* remaining WiiU games and twelve remaining Wii games.  Backwards compatibility is a glorious thing.

I have to say that having a 32″ 720p TV has been really good for games from previous generation.  Granted, it’s the typical 1366×768 panel that means that there’s some questionable scaling going on behind the scenes, but there weren’t many games prior to the PS4/Xbox that went over 720p and a medium-sized screen like this gives plenty of real estate without being so large as to really point out the lower-resolution textures and ample jaggies of that era.

* Well, technically I have five remaining WiiU games, but one is being played in co-op with an out-of-town friend whenever he visits.  So that’s a special case.

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The Internet was a mistake

I was probably exposed to the Internet too early – both in that I was in my teens and that it was the mid 1980s, before the advent of the world wide web, before anyone but the government and colleges really had access, before anyone was really paying attention to what a bunch of weird nerds were up to in the machine room late at night.

I’ve seen a lot of things that I would probably have been better off never seeing, is what I’m getting at.  Not just in the way your mind just went – get it out of the gutter, already – but just decades worth of people doing their level best to disprove the adage that there is no such thing as a stupid question.

You would think that I had long ago reached the nadir of this particular bell curve.

I thought so too.

It’s time to just shut it down.  It was a bad idea in the first place and I think we will all be much better off if we go back to the days of having a phone book, an encyclopedia, and a seedy corner video store to take care of all of our needs.

I’m ready to be kind and rewind.

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Another town, and one more show

So, I’ve been knocking out the last bits of the PS3 backlog this month.  That’s two games played to completion (Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time and Into the Nexus), four games dropped from the backlog for various sins, and one to go: the 2013 Macross 30th Anniversary game.

I’d better finish this one, because a quick look through my Amazon history reveals that I paid a ridiculous import price for it.  It helps that it’s a pretty good game, mind you.  It’s also reportedly quite lengthy – while the PSP Macross games in this series were very much action oriented affairs build around short and portable-friendly missions, this is an open-world “Flight Action RPG” and has lots of talky bits and story breaking up the flying around and shooting things.

One of the hooks of the game is that your character, a Valkyrie pilot from the Macross Frontier timeline, apparently somehow meets characters from every other Macross series.

Except II.  Technically, in the timeline it falls AFTER Frontier so theoretically they have an out for why it’s not represented, but I think the real reason is that they would rather forget it ever happened.

Anyway, I’m not sure how the whole thing is going to shake out, as I’ve just finished the first chapter/tutorial section of the game, which has me about six hours in,  but I am rather looking forward to seeing how they pull this off (time travel? holograms? alien hallucinogenics? the mind boggles at the possibilities.)

It’s not ALL about the old characters and cameos, mind you.  The main cast of the game is characters original to the game, so you have your disillusioned mercenary pilot with a traumatic past, an amnesiac artificial human trying to avoid her destiny, and an micronized Meltlandi girl/fighter pilot/genius mechanic trying to unlock the secrets of the ruins that cover the planet they’re all stuck on.

I am really looking forward to seeing said Meltlandi macronize and kick arse, by the way, though I don’t expect anything can come close to Klan Klang’s berserker rage from Frontier.  Still, I’ll be disappointed if it doesn’t happen.

 

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The Last Night and the Big Character Poster

Warning: Random social commentary post follows, which is quite out of the ordinary for this blog.  I apologize in advance, and invite you to come back again tomorrow for such riveting topics as “which Dragon Age character I would most like to sleep with.”

When I visited China a couple of years ago, one of the must-see sights on my trip was the Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Centre, which is a little museum run entirely by one enthusiast – one enthusiast, I might add, who is either the bravest dude I have ever met, or the dumbest.  As an example, one of the exhibits on display is a poster of Mao, surrounded by his cabinet, addressing a crowd in Beijing.  It’s a fairly famous poster because it was frequently edited and reprinted as members of his cabinet fell out of favor and needed to be taken out, and the exhibit has multiple versions of it with handy annotations talking about who was removed.

China is pretty liberal these days, but that’s still a particularly ballsy move.

It may explain why the museum doesn’t have any sign visible from the street – literally, the way you get to this place is that you go to its address, walk back and forth a few times looking confused, and a security guard comes out, asks you if you’re looking for the museum, and then hands you a business card with a map on it to lead you to the front door.

I’m not kidding about any of that, by the way.

Anyway, while a lot of the museum’s posters can be looked at as art objects as much as political objects, there’s one small section that’s legitimately frightening to browse, and that’s the Big Character Poster section.  These aren’t printed posters, but rather hand-written, in huge characters (hence the name), to convey a single message.  During the Cultural Revolution, they were often used to attack specific people for not being proper revolutionaries, so you might show up at your work one day and be greeted with a huge poster out front calling you out, by name, with a list of your sins for all of your colleagues and any passers-by to see.

The Cultural Revolution, in general, is a fascinating period for me because it shows how originally good intentions can spiral completely out of control.  It’s also almost completely absent in popular culture, even though it would make a great setting for games or movies – the only time I’ve ever seen a mention of it was in The Red Violin, where the titular instrument is being hidden from zealots out to destroy all western instruments.

Anyway, internet culture has been reminding me a lot of these Big Character Posters recently, because it seems to be locked in a cycle where someone becomes internet-famous, followed by people scouring their posting history for signs of Wrong Thought, followed by an outcry once evidence of such is found.

It’s rather famously summed up by the Milkshake Duck tweet, reproduced below on the off chance you’ve never run across it.

To take it back a LITTLE bit from the Cultural Revolution comparison, the whole thing also reminds me of middle-and-high school, where there would be that One Weird Kid, who everyone mocked because, well, if you were all mocking the One Weird Kid, then nobody would be looking at you – and if anyone was looking at you, then you made sure to be twice as awful to the One Weird Kid, just to prove that you were cool.

The most recent example, of course, is The Last Night, a pixel art game that takes, shall we say, rather heavy inspiration from Blade Runner, and which made quite a splash during the Microsoft E3 presentation… enough of a splash to start the whole cycle of people raving about the game, digging up some old tweets by one of the developers, and then an internet mob coming for his job and to try to get his game dropped by his publisher and/or Microsoft.

It’s the sort of ridiculous momentary outrage that – well, I try to avoid referencing Orwell whenever possible, because “1984” is really the bath salts of literary reference, something you give as a gift when you can’t be bothered to find anything better, but what the heck – that really IS the Two Minutes Hate of our time, the focused tearing down of a person until the next Great Villain can be found, at which time the internet mob moves on leaving wreckage in its wake…

…and I kind of wonder how many of the participants are doing it just because they haven’t left the fear of being the next One Weird Kid behind.

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