I finally decided to sit down and put together a Retropie for our living room. I’m still waiting on a few more parts to come through before I get any pics up, but so far it’s been great.

I made a Retropie a couple of years back and we used it to play games on our projector, but it was such a hassle to have to set up every time. The projector had built-in mono speakers with awful sound quality, so we had to get an HDMI audio splitter that fed into a pair of computer speakers. Honestly, the jump in quality wasn’t even that great. On top of that, we don’t have a screen, so we’d just project the image onto the wall of our bedroom. That meant every time we wanted to use it, we’d have to lug out all the cables and set it up, then break it down when we finished. It was fun but far from ideal, and such a PITA that we hardly ever did it.

This time around, I’ve decided to do it properly. No more faffing about with projectors and cables, I’m just going to stick it in my entertainment center the way games are meant to be played®. I’ve moved up from a RasPi B+ to a RasPi 3, as well as upgrading my clunky Logitech F310s to the very cute FC30 controllers from 8BitDo. I’ve got the official case, and I’m waiting on some very cute Famicom-themed stickers to come into really seal the deal. I’ve got Retropie v4.2 set up and running, as well as the Pixel-Metadata theme for Emulation Station. It is all just too cute.

I ran into a bit of a snag at first because I was drawing power from a power bank instead of plugging directly into the wall, so a lot of games (SNES and GBA) had crippling lag and audio sync issues. However, switching to a high-speed AC adapter (the one I use for my Xperia phone works nicely) into the wall seemed to fix everything. I’m going to pick up the official RasPi charger at some point this week. I’m also planning to upgrade my microSD from its current 4GB to a much roomier 32GB when I can. (But for those asking, yes Retropie seems to do all right with just 4GB, so long as you don’t put in too many games.)

I’ll have pictures up as soon as those stickers get in!



I’ve updated the site a bit to make it easier on myself to post more casually without worrying as much about having a “full” post every time. I’m also thinking of including my updates from my Backloggery to keep my “game diary” here rather than lost to the ether forever.

Basically, I am going to try to force myself to blog more and tweet less, even if it means converting this place to a Twitter-like stream of consciousness. People love that kind of mindless content, right?

The Legend of Sidon: Manly Pearls

DK and I finished Breath of the Wild a few weeks ago and we still can’t get over it. It was far and away the best open-world game I’ve played and one of the very few that managed to hold my attention to the end. I feel like I don’t really have to go into the positives of this game, picking it up and playing just felt so natural that it’s hard to put into words why it worked so well this time around.

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Say anything

Currently sitting in my classroom at a client’s office and waiting for students to show up. Or rather student, since my first class today is a private lesson. I have been teaching at this particular client for only a few months but it is far and away my favorite place I have ever taught at, simply because I have my own classroom. I can bring in my keyboard and type away to my heart’s content in the few minutes of downtime in between classes. It is amazing.

If only I could think of something actually worthwhile to type about, eh?

A random list of things I should probably talk about at some point:

  • The Nintendo Switch (!)
  • Breath of the Wild (!!!)
  • Nothing But Reading Challenges, a book club on Goodreads that has gotten me back into regular reading
  • Homegoing and Tom Sawyer, the two books I’ve been reading lately
  • Teaching, maybe?
  • Board games
  • Other random crap that has been bouncing around in my head

I think I’ve given up on the idea that I will ever be an interesting person with grand adventures. I am boring, I have learned to embrace and revel in it. I talk about stupid media that I consume as a substitute for my gaping lack of personality and wit. I know all of this, and I have learned to be fine with it.

Today is Friday. The goal for tomorrow is to write at least one more of these blog entries, even if it’s just to pop in and say I still haven’t thought of anything interesting to write about. Dammit.

Rainy days

I have a lot of free time these days, but it’s often in between lessons when I’m already on the road. Or, rather, stuck at cafes in Tokyo. So much time to sit, write, and think, but it’s always away from my computer, so instead I fritter away the minutes and hours by looking at my phone.

It’s a shame, really.

I bought a Bluetooth keyboard a while ago, maybe two years back? I’m not sure. Anyway, I’m going to try and pack it with me when I head to work and maybe get some typing in. I’m slowly losing my ability to string together words that exceed 140 characters. I’m sure that number is just a very strange coincidence.

Goals: play more games, take more pictures, write and read more words, have fewer days when I come home exhausted. That last one is a tricky one.

Gosh, this keyboard sure is nice to type on.

Time Walk

Yesterday we went to Time Walk, a cafe in Yokohama (near Hoshikawa Station) that has a selection of board games for you to borrow and play while enjoying a nice cup of coffee. It was our first time there, and we had a ton of fun! We played 枯山水 (“Stone Garden,” great), 百鬼夜行 (“Night Parade of a Hundred Demons,” meh), 緑の砂漠 (“Green Desert,” interesting premise but a bit hard to get into), and Forbidden Island, which we brought with us. It was a really good time, and we’re probably going to try and go there at least once a month.

The cafe itself is quite nice. It looks very much like a “normal” cafe, with nice decor, good coffee, and a relaxing atmosphere. Unfortunately, like every Japanese cafe in Kanto, the tables are quite narrow and close together, making it a tight fit when getting around to use the restroom and view the selection of games. We brought our own green felt gaming mat which we ended up using since the tables are standard varnished wood tables. This might be kind of a weird observation to make, but it’s very much a cafe first and foremost, as opposed to a place geared especially for gamers.

That said though, the atmosphere really was about the games. There is a great selection of games to choose from, and the owner of the cafe is very friendly and encouraging to customers, whether they are total noobs or battle-hardened veterans. When we went, every booth was filled with groups playing games, and the air was full of delighted game chatter. At first it was a bit hard to break the ice and ask other people to join us for a game of 4-player Forbidden Island, but the owner immediately recognized what we wanted without us explicitly asking for his help and he was only too happy to introduce us to another couple, who went along with good measure. I have a feeling that he’s often called on to “read the atmosphere” for this exact situation!

The cafe is open from 10 AM to 6 PM on weekends, and you pay ¥1,500 at the door to hang out for as long as you want. The entrance fee also includes one drink, and additional drinks are about ¥200 each. The coffee as I said was surprisingly good and comes in very beautiful tea cups, and you get the full cafe experience on top of the board games. They are also open on weekdays from 2-6PM with an ¥800 entrance fee.

I highly recommend it, and hope to be visiting again very soon!


The Grizzled: Japanese Hard Knocks

Happy New Year! We have been playing a lot of The Grizzled recently. It’s a great game, though hard to recommend unless you’re playing with at least three players. We have been making due with the duo mode included in the expansion, but we suspect that the true sweet spot for this game is three or four players.

Another problem we had was the language barrier. The Hard Knocks in particular were giving us trouble not only because of the English but also the highly stylized font used in the English version. We decided to try our hand at translating the cards into Japanese, and you can download it here. These are for the vanilla Hard Knocks only, though we are working on getting the expansion At Your Orders! cards and possibly manual translated sometime in the future. The manual for the base game is available on BGG.

JLPT N2: question marks galore

Well, so much for trying to update more regularly, eh?

I took the JLPT N2 at the beginning of the month and I am still too shell-shocked to hit the books again. This was my first attempt at N2, and I was warned that the reading sections this time around would be dense and impenetrable. I thought it would be fine if I just reviewed weak grammar points, but NOPE: it was the paper exam equivalent of having a fire hose turned on me. That should teach me not to slack off.

So what have I been doing in the more than two weeks since the exam? Slacking off, naturally. It’s hard to stay motivated to keep studying after the test, you know?

I’ll get the results back in February. I have a feeling that I failed, and even if I managed to squeak by with a lucky pass I’d still want to take the test again because of how badly lost I was during the reading passages. We shall see.