Puzzle Swap (Nintendo 3DS)

I can tell my wife is getting annoyed that I’m staring at my 3DS and lagging behind, but I’m trying to let all the Miis through the gate so I can see if they have any puzzle pieces.

I told her I was attempting to get as many new pieces as I could while were at WonderCon because opportunities like this don’t come along too often.

“Well, you did warn me this would happen…” She still seems a little perturbed but she’s cutting me some slack.

Only two of the ten most recent Miis had pieces I need. Darn. I close my 3DS for the time being and hope for better luck with the next set of passers-by.

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Photo Dojo (Nintendo DSi)

My son is supposed to be getting ready for bed, so what the heck is with all that noise? I hear lots of laughter and what sounds like yelling and grunting coming from upstairs. I decide I’d better head up there and investigate. When I enter my boy’s room, it all makes sense: He got his hands on my DSi and is playing Photo Dojo. I haven’t played the game in months, and I doubt my little guy remembers back to when I snapped photos and recorded voice clips of him for the game. All he knows is it’s absolutely hilarious to see tiny versions of the two of us fighting on the DSi’s screen. “Look, Daddy! I’m beating you!” The Photo Dojo version of me emits repeated cries of despair as it is pummeled by my son’s in-game alter ego. Taunts boasting “You’re weak!” come thorugh the DSi’s speakers. I leave my son to his fun while I go brush my teeth, hoping that tonight I can somehow manage to stay awake long enough so that I can get a turn playing Photo Dojo, too.

Crazy Taxi (Arcade)

Balancing a 14-month-old on my lap is proving to be detrimental to my performance. I used to play this game for hours at a time on my Dreamcast a decade ago, but I’d never played the original arcade version until now. My skills are definitely rusty, and my daughter is not helping one bit. “No no, Yoshie!” She’s not listening. I turn my body sideways to keep the wheel out of her reach, but that leaves me with only one hand to work with. We’re running out of time and our customer is getting impatient. At least B.D. Joe has got our back with this unruly passenger. “Shut up and move your butt!” The drop-off location is coming into view but there are only seconds left. There’s no way we’re going to make it. I look down at my daughter and she’s grinning, her eyes fixated on the screen and her hands still reaching toward the steering wheel. Our final score was laughable, but this was the best game of Crazy Taxi ever.

The House of the Dead (Arcade)

Well, I suppose we should have expected this. We assumed our son was asleep for the night, but only minutes after putting him to bed we heard him crying. My wife went upstairs to see what was wrong and a minute later she was back downstairs, carrying our boy. Her expression said it all, but she clarified all the same: “He’s afraid of ‘The Zombies.'” Earlier in the evening my wife and I enjoyed a round of The House of the Dead at Peter Piper Pizza, much to our son’s displeasure. “That game’s too scary!” he said as we dropped our tokens into the slot. We assured him that the zombies weren’t real, and he even starting laughing and cheering along with us as we “blasted those silly zombies!” And honestly, the game’s zombies look so blocky and cheesy, it’s hard to think of them as frightening. But the imagination of a child is very powerful, and now we’re paying the price for letting him watch. It’s going to be tough getting our little dude back to sleep tonight. Playing The House of the Dead in front of a four-year-old is definitely not the smartest parenting move on our part, and without sleep tonight we’ll be suffering like G did when the morning rolls around!

Words With Friends (iOS)

I’m at a total loss. I’m stuck with almost nothing but vowels and I can’t seem to find a spot for them on the board. I decide to ask my wife for help. We’re laying in bed with the lights out. Our daughter is snuggled between us, nursing as she slowly falls asleep for the night. “Do you mind playing this round for me?” I hand her the iPod Touch. “Make me look smart!” I can tell my wife is exhausted, but she humors me nevertheless. Less than a minute later I hear the familiar jingle that signifies when a turn has been taken. I reach over to retrieve my iPod. “Wow, 33 points. Good job! Thanks!” I check my e-mail and read up on some video game news, then set my iPod on the bedside table. Everything is quiet. I whisper to ask my wife if our daughter is sleeping yet. No response. I guess both my girls are busy dreaming.

Pokémon Black (Nintendo DS)

It’s way past our bedtime. I feel guilty because both my son and I have to get up early in the morning. But I promised him we’d play Pokémon Black before we went to sleep, and it’s tough to break a promise to an excited four-year-old. Besides, we’re having so much fun, it’s hard not to keep playing. I look at the clock and notice it’s past midnight. Wow, how did it get to be this late? I tell my boy we’ve got to wrap things up for the night. He’s disappointed because he had his heart set on capturing a new Pokémon, but we haven’t had any luck. The entire time we’ve only encountered Deerling after Deerling. “I’m sorry,” I tell my son, “but I don’t think we’re going to find any new ones tonight.” I decide to give it one last chance and rustle through the tall grass. It doesn’t take long before we come across another Pokémon. What’s this? A Karroblast?! We’ve never seen this Pokémon before! We use our Herdier to carefully whittle down Karroblast’s health then toss a Pokéball to capture it. My son and I hold our breath as Karroblast tries its best to wriggle free of its new confines, but at last it gives up and we have officially a new Pokémon in our collection. I save the game and power off the DS, then turn off the lights and wish my son sweet dreams. He reaches out to give me a hug then whispers: “See, I told you there’s new ones.”

Cars (XBox 360)

A birthday gift from Daddy for a car-obsessed toddler: Cars for the Xbox 360! My son hops into my lap and soon we’re racing around the town of Radiator Springs as Lightning McQueen. Okay, what to do first? We drive around aimlessly for a few minutes then finally stumble upon a racing event. Apparently this stuffy British car ventured over to “our side of the pond” to race the great Lightning McQueen. Well, we’re about to give you what for, buddy. The race begins and we speed off… but my son quickly loses interest after the first lap and climbs out of my lap, making his way over to play with his toy cars. “Hey, don’t you want to sit with Daddy and play the game?” Apparently not. I power off the 360, head over to where my son is sitting, plop down next to him, and we push around the toy cars together. “Vrooom vroom!” He’s right. This is more fun.