Archive for the ‘Classic Videogaming’ Category

“You Don’t Know Jack”: The Tabletop Game?!

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Ever since I first played them at the house of one of my uncles many years ago (I can’t remember how many years exactly, but  I was very young), I have been a devoted fan of the You Don’t Know Jack series of computer trivia games.  There’s just something inherently appealing about these games to me; maybe it’s the way that it can attract many of the people I know and love around a small computer screen to test the fringes of their knowledge, surprising their friends and family with what they know and leading to conversations about why they know the answer to that question.  It could be, too, that the games’ unique style of humor makes for an entertaining atmosphere which greatly complements some of the relatively obscure facts that come my way.  Either way, whenever I see the You Don’t Know Jack logo on something, it raises my curiosity a bit and I’ve got to check it out.  Such a thing happened to me recently at the flea market when I bought a You Don’t Know Jack tabletop game, an unusual piece of Jack merchandise but very interesting on its own terms.

Before this tabletop game, I thought there couldn’t be anything more unusual than the pair of You Don’t Know Jack trivia books I bought from a dollar store years ago; they are basically collections of questions from the games but without the witty host providing insane comments and insulting the players every minute or so, one of the elements that makes the computer versions so entertaining in my view.  But still, the trivia books are easily portable and can be played any time, whereas the original games come on CDs which have to be played on computers (there is a Facebook version which I play every day, but it doesn’t feel quite the same to me).  The tabletop game isn’t quite as portable: it’s a bulky machine that, I think, looks like a cross between the Batcave’s giant Batcomputer and the Panic Button game from Wayne Brady’s version of Let’s Make a Deal.  It’s not the easiest thing to carry around, even seated comfortably in its original box, and I’d be hard-pressed to say I would want to bring it over to a friend’s house to play a quick round of trivia.  When I did take it out of its box and play a few test rounds with my dad, though, it took me back to a bygone era of gaming that I had almost completely forgotten about.

After installing four new AA batteries (an action which makes me feel very old for even remembering how to do; how long has it been since I last installed batteries for you, Game Boy, old buddy!), my dad and I played a few short rounds of You Don’t Know Jack to see how the machine worked.  After we turned the machine on, we found that it was a bare-bones version of the Jack game which focuses exclusively on multiple-choice questions, leaving out the more iconic specialty question types such as the DisOrDat, Gibberish Question, or even the end-of-game Jack Attack.  I don’t mind that, though, as there is still some decent variety in the way the questions are presented.  Anyway, a basic game lasts for ten questions, each worth different amounts of fictional money ranging from $1,000 for easy questions to $3,000 for the hardest questions.  Whoever has the most “cash” at the end of the game is declared the winner.  This is a simple, fun approach to the Jack game which I feel works well for a tabletop version.

The basic game works as well as I could ever hope it to be.  Trying to work with the machine to play the game properly, though, is a bit of a chore.  Like I said, the questions are written on cards which you have to put into a screen on the machine’s front.  You then close a door on this same screen to cover up the card’s answer choices.  When the game prompts you to, you enter a unique number code using the buzzer buttons below the screen so the game knows which question you’re playing with.  You and the other players squeeze to look around the machine to see the question.  You then push another button on the side to open the door and see your answer choices.  You then have about ten seconds to hit your buzzer and select the correct answer.  If you get it right, the amount of money the question is worth is added to your score, but if you get it wrong, the money is subtracted; a score counter on the bottom of the machine keeps track of how everybody is doing, but it looked very small to me and it was a little hard for me to make out the numbers on its digital display. 

Moving cards around and resetting the machine for the next question takes a few seconds to do, a period of time which I’ve never really experienced to any great extent in any of the computer games because the next question loads automatically in those instances.  It is an experience which feels like it comes from a bygone time, back when I had to blow into an NES or Game Boy cartridge to get them to work.  The Jack machine reminds me of a long line of oversized plastic gaming machines and felt very clunky.  I don’t really see games like this on the toy market anymore, or anywhere else for that matter, so a machine like this feels like a “time machine” into my past. 

Ultimately, I have mixed feelings regarding the You Don’t Know Jack tabletop game.  It feels slightly clunky and is hard to move around and work properly, yet it taps into a deep feeling of nostalgia for a time I thought I would scarcely relive.  Not bad for a spin-off of a popular trivia game!

Have you encountered anything recently that gave you an inexplicable feeling of nostalgia?  What did it feel like to you?  Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Random Top Five: Obscure “Starcade” Games I Think Would Be Fun to Play

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013
Not bad for a TV screen and a wooden box.

Life’s all fun and games!

One of my favorite game shows of all time is Starcade, a show from the early 1980s in which kids played new arcade games in order to win such prizes as their very own arcade machine, a personal robot, a jukebox, and in a rare case, vacations to Hawaii with a large supply of quarters to spend in arcades in that state.  I became familiar with this show through frequent reruns on the G4 cable network and was entranced by some of the more unusual games featured on the show.  Tucked in between Pac-Man and Donkey Kong were some unique games which I think I would greatly enjoy playing if I were to come across them in a real arcade.  The following is a catalog of five of those games as well as links to videos of the games in action.  If you’re interested in learning more about the Starcade show itself, I highly recommend checking out the official website set up by JM Productions, the company responsible for making the show; it contains a lot of cool stuff including complete episodes, videos and trivia of all of the games featured on the show, and music from those games, the show itself, and some of JM’s other shows.

5. Pooyan

One fine day in a nondescript virtual forest somewhere in the arcade, Mama Pig’s little piglets were kidnapped by a band of wolves.  Apparently the wolves decided to celebrate by freefalling from the top of a tree with balloons attached to their backs (Why balloons instead of parachutes?  Oh well, that’s video game logic for ya!).  Unbeknownst to them, Mama Pig will soon be taking revenge on them by firing darts at their balloons from the safety of an elevator controlled by some of her liberated children.  You, the player, must move the elevator up and down and fire darts at the wolves while avoiding the pinecones (or are they acorns?  Oranges?  They definitely look like circular objects, at least!) the wolves throw back.  It seemed to me that Pooyan was the game I saw being played most often on Starcade, as it was picked by one of the contestants in just about every single show in which it was one of the featured games.  I have wondered what made it so popular.  Is it because it was a horizontal shooter in an era when vertical shooters like Space Invaders and Galaga were still considered the norm?  Is is because the characters could quite possibly be the cutest-looking video game characters ever?  Whatever it’s appeal was, the Starcaders flocked to it like groupies at a rock concert.  I’d like to experience that phenomenon firsthand and see what all the fuss was about.

4. Pengo (not to be confused with the animated penguin character Pingu)

As announcer Kevin McMahan states at the start of the video I linked to above, “Pengo is a penguin.”  He is trapped in a maze of ice blocks with the Snowbees, round Q-bert imposters, chasing him down.  They are trying to stop him from completing his mission of lining up three specially marked ice blocks in a row for big points.  Fortunately, Pengo can fight back by sliding ice blocks across the playing field and over the Snowbees to make them vanish for a few seconds.  He can also destroy ice blocks to create new paths through the maze and to get rid of places where the Snowbees can regenerate.  Like Pooyan, I think this game has some very cute characters and provides a nice twist on an established arcade game genre, in this case maze games like Pac-Man and its ilk.  I also find it interesting that it seems to be a variation of an old Japanese game called Sokoban in which you push crates around a warehouse (ice blocks around an ice field?  Pretty much the same thing to me.).  I feel this game would appeal greatly to Pac-Man fans who want to see a different kind of maze game, and I think it’s a very “cool” game concept (come on, the pun was right there!).  (Incidentally, I love the background music this game has.  It sounds like a classical piece to me, but I’m not sure which one it is.  The Wikipedia page doesn’t seem to have the answer I’m looking for.  Does anyone else know?)

3. Popeye

Before Nintendo hit the big time with Donkey Kong, a game about an average man trying to rescue his girlfriend from a big hulking brute, they tried their luck in arcades with a game focused on, get this, an average man trying to rescue his girlfriend from a big hulking brute.  In this case, Popeye is attempting to beat the stuffing out of Bluto in order to rescue Olive Oyl, just like in all of his classic cartoons.  Popeye doesn’t have much of a fighting chance against the much stronger Bluto in his normal state, but luckily, the game makers have provided a few cans of spinach for the sailor to gulp down.  Naturally, eating one of these gives Popeye tremendous strength so he can knock Bluto’s block off and send him down into the water below the playing field.  In addition, Popeye can grab hearts and notes of love that Olive sends down from above for extra points.  I’m surprised that I haven’t seen this game outside of Starcade as it looks like a solidly built basic aracde game that could’ve been a big hit.  I’ve heard that Nintendo had a bit of trouble with King Features over the license to use the Popeye characters.  The game did get a release on the Japanese Nintendo Famicom (the original version of the NES) and Namco made a new game based on it for mobile phones in 2008, so at least some people are still able to play it in some form.  I’d still like to play the original arcade version, though.  It’s an interesting footnote in video game history, and I would be interested in playing it myself to see if it’s just as fun as Donkey Kong.

2. Cliffhanger (not to be confused with that Price is Right game with the mountain climber; that one’s spelled “Cliffhangers” with an added “s,” but I do think that yodeling music is very catchy!)

I think this game is probably the most unusual one on this list because it’s not really much of a game at all.  It’s actually an interactive version of a classic Japanese animated movie!  Actually, there’s two movies featured in the game: according to this Wikipedia page, the bulk of the game is based on Castle of Cagliostro with a small bit extracted from Mystery of Mamo.  In any case, the player is tasked with guiding the dapper chap Cliff in an attempt to rescue his girlfriend Clarissa from the clutches of the fiendish Count Draco.  You don’t control Cliff or his friends directly, though: instead you move a joystick around and tap a button to play the next section of the movie.  This game was one of many such “interactive movie” games including Dragon’s LairSpace Ace, and Mach 3.  I’ve played all of those other games except Mach 3, and I think this type of game is very fun, if a bit limited.  I’d like to seek the Cliffhanger game out and play through it to complete my quest through all of this genre’s most notable games.  I wonder if such a bizarre source of footage would indeed make for compelling game play.

1. Super Pac-Man

 Since Starcade did focus on the world of arcade games, of course Pac-Man would be a fixture on the show.  In addition to Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man, there was also a trio of unusual spin-off titles.  Pac-Man Plus was a souped-up version of the original game in which all of the characters moved faster and Pac-Man could consume a soda can which made all of the ghosts invisible (a bad thing if you hadn’t eaten a power pellet yet; those ghosts could pop out of nowhere Alien-style and get you when you least expected it!).  Professor Pac-Man wasn’t a maze game at all but rather a math quiz game with a graduation cap-wearing Pac-Man as the quizmaster.  The spin-off game I would most like to play, though, is Super Pac-Man.  In this game, Pac-Man is still playing “chase or be chased” with the ghosts and can still swallow power pellets to turn his enemies blue and then chomp them away for a time.  However, the familiar small dots have been replaced with more nutritious-looking apples for Pac-Man to consume.  Also, there’s a bunch of doors which block off certain sections of the maze.  Thankfully, someone apparently keeps dropping keys into the maze; whenever Pac-Man swallows one, he turns into Super Pac-Man and grows to ten times his regular size.  In this huge form, the ghosts can’t harm him and he can unlock the doors.  Even though the style of game play is, for all intents and purposes, fairly typical for a Pac-Man game, the small differences in this game is what I like.  It adds a couple of new wrinkles to the usual Pac-Man strategy: Do you want to unlock this new portion of the maze and give the ghosts more space to roam?  Which power-up do you want more at the moment: the key for the Super Pac-Man form or the old power pellet to get rid of your ghostly adversaries?  I’m not sure what my strategy would be, but I would like to play this game to find out.  Not to mention Pac-Man is just plain fun in any form, so ten times the size could surely equal ten times the fun!

There were a lot of neat games featured on Starcade that I liked to see or was interested in.  Would you like to hear more about them or about the show itself?  Are there any arcade games you really enjoyed or still enjoy?  Leave your thoughts in the comments.  And until next time, in the words of host Geoff Edwards, “May all your troubles get zapped!”

Pop Culture Questions (and My Answers!) 3: Stopping Crazy Things

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013
How did that other question mark turn upside-down anyway?

Some questions turn you upside-down and inside-out.

For those of you who were looking forward to another edition of Pop Culture Questions on Tuesday, I apologize.  Due to circumstances beyond my control (and also because I hadn’t really thought of any good questions yet, and also I was kinda tired), I decided to do a shorter post, the first ever Random Top Five list.  I’m feeling a bit more at the top of my game, now, though, so let’s get back to exploring the nooks and crannies of pop culture for new queries to consider.

How come no one trips on the moving sidewalks on The Jetsons?

The future world presented on The Jetsons is one of my favorite TV environments.  I love seeing all of those high-rise buildings and flying cars and imagining what it would be like to live there.  One part of the show I think I would absolutely hate, though, would be the “moving sidewalks,” those conveyor belts on the floor that the characters are always stepping onto to save time from walking everywhere.  George Jetson, his family, Mr. Spacely, and just about everyone else in the universe seems to manage just fine in handling these sidewalks, a phenomenon which I took for granted when I was younger but which greatly bugs me now. 

No one trips on the sidewalks and ends up having their feet crushed under a doorway or wall or wherever those sidewalks start or end.  The sidewalk never moves too fast and sends someone hurtling through a glass window and falling hundreds of feet to the planet below (if there even is a planet down there).  Every other machine seems to go haywire at least once an episode, but those moving sidewalks always work the way they’re supposed to.  Even during the closing credits when George gets caught on the treadmill (“Jane, stop this crazy thing!”), he just keeps going around and around, the forward momentum always carrying him but never throwing him off.  I would be terrified out of my mind if moving sidewalks became a common mode of transportation in real life; I have seen a few in action in various places, but I still feel uncomfortable about getting on one myself.  I feel a bit more comfortable with escalators and elevators, but not by much.

How come there are so many turtles and walking mushrooms in Super Mario Bros.?

My favorite enemies in the Mario series are none other than the first ones I ever saw, the turtles (Koopa Troopas) and walking mushrooms (Goombas).  I’m still curious, though, as to how their numbers became so big.  They seem to multiply like rabbits with each new game that comes out.  It’s come to the point that I’ve seen them start long Broadway-style chorus lines in my dreams.  What has caused this surge in their populations?  Sure, they are pretty cute, and I guess they’d have to be popular if they keep showing up.  Real turtles do produce a lot of baby turtles and you can find mushrooms just about everywhere.  But still, these guys show up everywhere in Mario’s universe, whether they’re in grasslands, underwater, in frigid snowscapes, and even in outer space.  To me, it can seem a bit like overkill at times.  I’d like to imagine that King Bowser has a section of his castle estate designed to be a huge breeding ground and training center just for Koopas and Goombas.  They are probably subjected to all sorts of rigorous tests to make sure they can survive in any type of environment, and luckily for Bowser, most of them do pass with flying colors.  It’s too bad Darth Vader never turned these guys into his stormtroopers; who, besides Italian plumbers, could possibly fight back against turtle shells flying right at their heads?                  

How come the song’s called “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?”

I think love is one of the greatest things a person can experience in this world.  No wonder so many songs have been written about it!  Through these timeless tunes, we’ve learned that love “is a many-splendored thing,” “takes time,” is “hard to find,” “knows no season” or “clime”, and, in short, “does exactly what it wants to do.”  Obviously, love is very demanding, so maybe there’s a good point to Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers’ age-old musical question, “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?”  Still, I feel there’s a negative tone to the question that Lymon and the Sour Bunch raised, because I’m sure most people don’t feel like fools when they fall in love with someone.  They probably think all is right with the world and that nothing could possibly go wrong.  Even though I do think that is a foolhardy way of thinking, that doesn’t make lovers fools.  Some pretty smart guys have fallen in love, too.  Just look at Peter Parker (you know, the Spider-Man guy) who has fallen in love with Mary Jane Watson, Gwen Stacy, Felicia Hardy, and a bunch of other girls over the years.  Of course, some of the girls he has gone out with later turned out to be bad eggs, but that doesn’t make him a fool.  I haven’t even fallen in love with anyone yet, but does that make me a fool?  Let’s just agree to disagree here, Frankie Lymon and the Funky Bunch: everyone, including fools, smart guys, and everyone in between, can fall in love.

So, did you love this question-and-answer session?  Did it help you to come out of your shell?  Did it move you like the sidewalks on The Jetsons would move you?  I wait with bated breath for your comments.

Random Top Five: The Greatest Pac-Man Dots

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

 

I'll take Wakka Wakka Wakka for $100, Alex.

The maze of life: a box with dots and ghosts.

From time to time on this site, there will be short top five lists based on random topics.  For this particular list, I have decided to count down the top five greatest dots or groups of dots that appear in the original maze in Pac-Man. Please note that for the purposes of this list, only the 236 regular dots which Pac-Man must consume as part of his daily travels throughout the maze are in the running.  The four power pellets, the large ones in the four corners of the maze which give Pac-Man the ability to chomp up his ghostly pursuers, are disqualified because of their unique nature (in addition to the performance-enhancing drugs scandal they were part of some years back).

5. The paths of dots in the two S-curves at the maze’s bottom. 

These dots are in areas that are radically different from the straight lines found everywhere else in the maze, so you get a nice bit of variety in terms of scenery.  The eight dots that each curve offers make for a good snack to keep your energy up for the next straightaway. They also highlight a good bit of strategy: if you plan your route right, ducking down these winding corridors can throw the ghosts off your tail a bit as they’re forced to compensate for the slight change in architecture.

4. The dots on either end of the warp tunnel at the maze’s right and left walls.

These dots may not seem like much on their own, but the tunnel openings they sit in front of make them all the more appetizing.  After you swallow either one of them, make a hard left or right into the warp tunnel.  Through some kind of magical space-time warp which has still yet to be explained, Pac-Man will appear on the other side of the maze, promptly chomping up the dot waiting at the other end of the tunnel and continuing his mission of eating everything in sight.  If you have a bunch of ghosts ganging up on you, taking this escape route can be a godsend.  Watching the ghosts scramble around like the Keystone Kops while I relax far away from them has provided me with a bit of hilarity many times.

3. The two dots to your right and left when you start a new game.  

 Do you remember the first thing you saw when you were born?  I can bet that Pac-Man vividly remembers seeing two small dots floating beside him in the inky blackness of the maze soon after he came into the world.  I’m sure he was curious about what these new things were for and if they were exciting.  He would have quickly moved toward one of them, putting his gigantic mouth over it and swallowing it whole.  He then would have seen another one in front of him, so he would have eaten that one, too.  Then another and another and another, and pretty soon, he was addicted to the darn things.  He couldn’t complete a maze without swallowing all of them; they became his life’s calling.  But he’ll always remember that first dot.  That first stinking dot.  It’s all that dot’s fault that his life’s all out of sorts!  Oh sure, the maze gives him fruit to eat and ghosts to torment (and be tormented by), but the rest of the time it’s just regular, plain vanilla-flavored dots.  It’s enough to make anyone want to become a carpenter and dodge barrels thrown by a giant ape…  But like I said, all great stories have to start somewhere, and those two dots are it.

2. The first dot you eat after swallowing a power pellet.

This dot (any one of eight regular dots depending on in which direction you approach the pellet) knows its place in line.  It does not matter what happens to me, it thinks to itself.  I am no more important then those in front or behind me.  The yellow god has become death incarnate, and woe betide all who stand in his wake.  That little dot is right, you know.  What’s a mere ten points compared to the 1600 that Pac-Man can get after eating a power pellet then pulling off the spectacular feat of eating four ghosts in rapid succession?  This dot could never hope to equal that greatness, so it resigns itself to its fate and prepares itself for the day its world ends.  Goodbye, world, it thinks as it enters the yellow god’s mouth and blinks out of existence.  The points will go on, but alas, my days are done. 

1. The last dot you eat before swallowing a power pellet.

Those same eight dots that I mentioned above can sometimes play another role.  In this state, they are not the nervous citizens of a new deadly world recognizing that their time has passed.  They are instead young, free, excited to become part of something bigger than themselves.  These power pellet parties have apparently become seen as the best places to be in the maze.  The young dot stands in line along with the other dots, watching the thumping lights of the big round  club and waiting for its chance to walk through those doors, let loose, and enjoy itself  for the first time in its life.  Maybe it’ll meet a nice girl dot and they can swap numbers, maybe even go out for a movie later.  Yes, these dots are young, but they’re also hopelessly naive.  How could they know the pain that will come after the yellow god harvests their bodies and uses their power to turn ghosts into so much liverwurst?  How could they ever know?  All the difference in the world is thus made depending on what side of the pellet you’re on.  Better to be number one than number two.

I hope you didn’t find this list too hard to swallow.  Did it suit your appetite?  Are you craving more?  Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Real Advice for Fictional Characters No. 1: Mind Games

Friday, February 22nd, 2013
You send mail, you'd better get mail.

Look, you’ve got a letter!

I enjoy helping people however I can, both in my personal life and through my writing.  As a fun exercise in providing such help and in the spirit of such great advice-givers as Ann Landers, “Dear Abby”, and Dr. Phil, I decided to start an advice column for fictional characters in need of help.  For the sake of privacy, the help-seekers have kept their identities hidden (however, I have linked their nicknames to their Wikipedia pages, just in case any of you are curious as to who they really are).  I hope you enjoy the fruits of my efforts.  Let’s get to some letters.

 

Dear Kellogg Thoughts,

I always felt like a rat in a maze, but now I’m in a real tight spot.  I’ve been trying to achieve my goals and, for a while, I was on a straight path to happiness.  Now, though, the ghosts of my past are coming back to haunt me.  I’ve looked for any and all paths to freedom, but it doesn’t look like there’s any place to turn or escape.  I’ve lost my way and my appetite mulling over this problem.  What do I do?  Signed, Pellet Muncher

Dear Pellet Muncher,

It does indeed sound like these “ghosts of the past” have got you cornered.  I’m not too surprised by this outcome, though.  These tight situations often happen when you follow a singular path for a long time without considering other and, in some cases, better options that may appear along the way.  Don’t worry too much.  Stop and look at your problems from a larger perspective.  It may seem like you’re trapped now, but if you back up a little and see all of the other options you can take, you may find a better way to go.  If all else fails, remember to trust the people and things around you that have helped you the most (at the moment, those would be the power pellets and that tunnel that can shoot you out to the other side of the maze).  I hope this helps, and don’t forget that fruit will keep you very healthy!  Ben

 

Dear Kellogg Thoughts,

Mamma mia!  Have I got a doozy for you!  There’s someone special I really want to see, but she keeps playing hard to get.  I’ve been hopping mad trying to get to her.  Life has put a lot of obstacles in my way, namely turtles, chestnuts, man-eating plants, etc.  But with a good bit of athleticism and agility (and a few mushrooms, but trust me, they are for healing purposes only!), I have powered through everything.  Every time I show up at her castle, though, one of her friends always tells me, “Thank you, but our princess is in another castle!”  I’m tired of this routine, and I’m starting to think she’s not really worth all this trouble.  Should I keep going or should I pack up my wrench and go home?  Signed, Perplexed Plumber

Dear Perplexed Plumber,

I’d say keep going.  It sounds like you have been through a lot lately, and I’m sure the path has been rough at times, but it sounds like you really are enamoured of this girl.  Just look at all you’ve been through just to get to this girl’s house.  It takes a lot of dedication and perseverance to go through so much trouble just for one person.  Even though you know the world around you has made it very difficult to see this young lady that you profess has captured a special place in your heart, you keep trying anyway.  I will give you one more small piece of advice though.  After all that you have done, this girl had better be worth the time you’ve put into getting to her!  If she still does the whole “missing in action” bit, then feel free to find some other person or goal, but at this point in time, I think you shouldn’t give up just yet.  Keep on hopping!  Ben

 

Dear Kellogg Thoughts,

I’ll keep this short; I don’t want to waste your time.  A little while ago, I was speeding through life like I always do.  I was making split-second jumps, bopping the bad guys, and grabbing all the brass rings I can (actually, they’re more like gold rings in my case, but you know what I mean, right?).  All of a sudden, though, I ran right into a wall (covered in spikes, no less)!  All my progress stopped, I lost track of what I was doing, and now I’m having trouble getting back up to speed.  Can you give me a running start?  Signed, Blue Blur 

 Dear Blue Blur,

Don’t worry, you aren’t wasting my time; I’ve got plenty of it.  Actually, I’d suggest you slow down, a good deal slower in fact.  The reason you ran into that wall is because you were going too fast to begin with.  I’m certain you couldn’t possibly have noticed the wall or anything else while you were moving at the speed of sound.  Next time, cool your jets and move a bit slower.  Soon, you might notice that you can see everything more clearly including those bumps in the road.  If you take time to look where you’re going, you can avoid a lot of trouble for yourself.  I’m not saying you have to slow down too much, for you can still go pretty fast and know what’s in front of you.  Just don’t go so fast that you end up hurting yourself even more if you don’t stop.  There’s truth in the saying, “Check yourself before you wreck yourself.”  And by all means, keep reaching for those gold rings.  I always thought they sounded better than brass anyway!  Have a blast!  Ben

 

That’s all the advice I’ve got this time around, folks.  I’ve got plenty more messages from fictional characters I want to get to; the mail never seems to stop coming in!  If you’d like to see more or if there’s a fictional character that you know could use some help, let me know in the comments.  I believe that while a good piece of advice can help you get through a tough situation, a great piece of advice can keep on helping you for the rest of your life.  I definitely want to give great advice.