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ways to waste $15 that are better than throwing it in the street

The Smithsonian, The Frog, and Me.

Me, the Frog, and the Girl.Yeah. I saw the frog. And it was good.
It’s not, as some might have you believe, like I have some kind of weird worship fetish with the frog. It’s not that at all. I love the frog like I love my friends; he’s someone I’ve grown up with. He’s familiar and comfortable. He’s an inspiration to me. I grew up to be a journalist and its certainly because of the frog’s standup reporting at the scenes of many a fairytale sketch. When I was forming I read the frog’s magazines, I watched the frog’s movies and TV shows. I sang the frog’s songs. I lived through the frog. I knew, without a doubt, that it was not easy being green.
And, yeah. The Frog’s also a product designed to capture my fat and dirty dollar. Especially since he died. This second coming of the Frog has always felt a little weird for me; since the Disney sale, really. Nothing has been right since 1990.
I think that’s why the frog in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History resonated so much with me. This isn’t Brian’s Frog. This wasn’t the Disney Frog. This frog was donated sometime around 1979. I’ve seen the frog before in lots of contexts, but this frog was the real deal. This was Jim’s frog; and somehow, that changes things.

Frog: For the win.

Yeah. I cried. The photos that I snapped of the exhibit don’t capture the joyful energy, the exploding creativity, the love that radiated from the frog. The frog could have stood up and done the happy feet dance in that glass case. The frog is alive with the spirit that one time made him dance. That energy is still in the frog and it radiates around him like a halo.

The frog

This frog, I think, is from the frog’s golden age. A master showman, working hard to make the best art he could make given his circumstances, aware of the challenges facing the world, but choosing to sing about those challenges rather than give in. And sometimes the frog gets angry. Sometimes the frog fails. But the frog picks himself back up. The frog makes hard choices, but he makes the right ones. The frog does the right thing, even when it hurts.
The frog is human.
The frog lives.

My So-called Life as King

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King [homepage] the first piece of WiiWare to suck $15 out of my pocket and turn it into largely useless bits of data on my Nintendo console is a worthy investment, really.
Serve Fahtzburgh, or die.

I mean, I only bought it yesterday, and with the ability to give my imaginary town a name that tickles and delights my inner 12-year-old, the $15 was well spent. Lets talk about the whole concept, though? Ok?

First and foremost, My Life as A King is an RPG that dismisses PG part of the conceit. You play a roll in this game, and the game part that you're used to -- you know the adventuring and plodding through random battles to raise your stats -- is played by the game. That sentence is confusing but accurate.

As the monarch, the loan player character commissions "party members" to adventure on his behalf. Those characters run off stage and have statistically determined adventures based entirely on their numeric condition. Then they come back to the town and you read about them in the newspaper in the morning. Reading through the battle logs, which play out nearly exactly like every other RPG you've ever played, is as close to turn-based combat you get in My Life as a King.

And that's fine. But it makes you wonder if you've ever really played an RPG at all. Think about that the next time you're three sheets into Final Fantasy XII. Are you playing the game, or is the game playing you?

Once you've wrapped your head around that one, understand this: if you don't want to be the king, you're playing the wrong game. This is a game about land-use management, resource tracking, and clicking the damn talking penguin when you're trying to catch a runaway adventurer. If you don't find the City of Celebration, Fla., deeply fascinating, this is probably not the game for you.

It has that damn "one more time" quality however, that makes it a prime time-sucker. Since yesterday's results are only given at the start on the day, players are easily sucked into another quick day's worth of game-time. And So on.