State of Things – JZH Gaming

Hello all, happy Monday – to all who celebrate Easter, I hope you had a wonderful one, and to those who don’t, I hope your weekend was wonderful as well.

As everyone who follows myself and those involved with JZH Gaming, our original focus was Star Trek Online. While the game has had its ups and downs, the STO has provided steady entertainment for a lot of people. I want to preface this site update by saying i am not leaving STO behind, though the trickle of new stuff will remain until we get the space balance update when Season 13 comes to consoles – Season 12 comes in tomorrow. That being said, I plan on having content from STO on Friday nights – which may not show up until Saturday morning – but there will be content hear and there. I am not going to write in this post what I feel the state of STO is on Playstation 4 – I will leave that for another post, but because of where I am at personally on my characters, until the space balance update – beyond making sure I have everything I need when it hits – there simply isn’t enough content in the game, even with the Season 12 update hitting tomorrow, to have me playing everyday. Saying that, I will continue to pass on news, updates and anything I come up with when it happens, so stay tuned. I will also continue to tweet out videos from PC players – i.e. Oden Knight, Snipey, SOB, etc, as they produce content that is always helpful for console and PC players alike.

I have resolved to not get into a free to play MMO ever again (note: this is not the first time I have said this), and beyond STO, in that regard, I feel i am best served playing an MMO that is either just buy up front, or buy up front and subscribe. In that vein, myself and others are eagerly awaiting the release of Elite Dangerous on PS4, and I have recently got back into playing Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Once I get back to the point in FFXIV, I will be sharing more content – at the moment it is mostly leveling and unlocking the dungeons, trials, etc on the way – but soon I will be having content on the channel for everyone to see. Once Elite Dangerous hits, there will be regular coontent from there as well. My plan is to play FFXIV on a regular basis, while doing what needs to be done with E:D when it comes out and as needed. For those who have known me for awhile, or for those who have played with me or asked me about MMOs in general, you will know I holed FFXIV in high regard – which I only stopped playing once Elder Scrolls Online came to PS4.

I know it appears I will be jumping around a lot – and though it seems that way, that is not the plan. STO has a very conflicted place in my heart – but it is there, and I will continue to play it until Cryptic ruins the game entirely or until it ends server wise. However, I will not be spending any money on the game – everything, from now on, will come from resources I can get in game. With that, I have spent a lot of money already, and my in game resources are decent, so from a content perspective, nothing should be lacking – except maybe playtime. Concerning Elite Dangerous – we still do not have a release date, and because of how it is set up, I do not feel like I will have to grind constantly to “keep up,” since most of the stuff is on your own and building yourself to where and what you want to be. With Final Fantasy 14, because I already have experience in the game, I am not spending a lot of time learning anything new, just essentially relearning what I already know – and therefore I feel like I can be at a place soon to provide good and constant content, which I am really looking forward to. Lastly – the plan with other games, such as Mass Effect: Andromeda, is still to have content related to multiplayer, etc on a normal, weekly basis. This, and any other single player games I play, will have content as it comes.

For now, the J&J Show is on a short hiatus – mainly because we do not have anything new to really talk about. Yes, STO has an update tomorrow, but with that, all of the information has been released already, either by Cryptic or by PC players. Obviously, if there are issues, we will make sure to pass those on to you, as well as test them out, but beyond that, there isn’t too much to say. Hopefully, once we get the space balance, there will be more to talk about. In the mean time, once Elite Dangerous gets released, we will have a show or multiple shows on that to give you our thoughts and our visions for what we want to accomplish in game. I am also thinking about doing something similar with FFXIV, but I do not have a plan at this time. For streaming schedules, Friday nights between 7-9pm Eastern will be STO (this week will have the new queues and the battlezone) and Saturday nights between 7-9pm Eastern we will have Mass Effect mulitplayer – both of these nights will be contingent on participation from other players. Beginning either later this week or next week, I plan on streaming some FFXIV – time will be around 7pm Eastern, and last for how long it lasts. I will post something on twitter once I have a better idea when and what.

For everyone who has subscribed to the Youtube channel, and for everyone who follows me here, I appreciate everyone of you.

LLAP,
jzhnutz

 

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Mass Effect: Andromeda – J&J Show Special Live Stream

Had a special J&J Show event last night streaming Mass Effect: Andromeda!

We will have more videos and articles to come, so stay tuned. Below are the pictures that altlesjo referenced during the stream that he took and sent me.

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Golden Nomad
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Eos – 100% Viability

Horizon Zero Dawn – Review

It took me a total of 51 hours, 47 minutes and 22 seconds – but I got 100% completion in game. I got Platinum (all trophies / achievements) at just over 50 hours, and still lacked one side quest and one errand to do, which I found in Free Hope. Let me say this first, i enjoyed every second I played this game, and in the end, it has become one of my favorite games of all time – rivaling games such as The Witcher 3, but saying that, it doesn’t surpass TW3 in my book.

The first thing you notice as you begin playing is that the graphics and soundtrack are superb.

Graphically it beats games like The Witcher 3 simply because the FPS doesn’t drop and I found hardly any glitches whatsoever – except the occasional machine dino break dancing after death. The soundtrack only adds to the wonderful ambience, adding an element that both delights and terrifies as you trudge through the beautiful post-post apocalyptic landscape. This is simply the most beautiful game I have ever played, visually striking with a wonderful attention to detail.

Mechanically, the game borrows heavily from games such as TW3, Assassins Creed, Far Cry Primal and Tomb Raider – there is also elements of other games as well. What it does borrow it borrows really well. Everything, from climbing to shooting a bow feels natural. In fact, using the bow feels so natural that when switching to another weapon, it feels unnatural using it – but no less enjoyable. In combat, the game gives you many options – including just going all out, no stealth and blasting enemies, or the more subtle approach of setting traps and blast wires and leading machines and humans alike into a symphony of destruction as you whistle to get them to cone closer to you. Combat in this game FEELS natural – meaning it isn’t clunky or over complicated. At the same time, even being level 50 with the games end game power armor equipped, you can still easily die if you are not paying attention and dodging attacks on a regular basis.

The game is challenging enough on Normal that it provides a good experience. I have not tried it on any harder difficulty – Normal was good enough for me, providing a good balance between paying attention to the story and being challenging enough to not feel like I was rolling through enemies too fast.

Story wise, Horizon Zero Dawn tells the story of a civilization ultimately created by humanity to survive a man-made apocalypse. I’ll leave that there as the only true story spoiler – but I will say that the story was well thought out and very well told. Every element, every bit of information is important, and even though there are several side quests through out your journey, none feel like they are taking away from the main story, but in fact adding to its mystery. I will be honest, though I had an idea of how it was going to play out, the story did ultimately surprise me – and that is a good thing, with me not being able to guess all of the intricate details in the end.

Beyond the main story, we see a true human element in the side quests and little adventures that the game brings up – from finding people who are lost, helping people get revenge, clearing bandit camps and clearing dungeon like cauldrons – everything in this game feels right and again, ultimately adds to the end result, which is a well thought out and described story that brings us to the salvation of human kind.

My only complaint is that even though the game is open world, and a large one at that, I did not feel the need to actually explore. Ultimately, if you buy the “special maps,” all of the collectibles will be placed on your map. Yes, it is a general location, and I confess, Google helped me a couple of times, but the need to actually run off in a general direction simply wasn’t there. Instead, I would run off towards a particular map icon – be it a metal flower, and ancient vessel or a long neck to get my prize or open up even more of the map. This made the discovery of collectibles more like another fetch quest versus something that i actually found during the journey throughout the world. That being said, I have not discovered all of the date points, but since those do not count towards the completion percentage or the achievements, I wasn’t too concerned.

In the end, I got platinum before I got 100% completion –

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Platinum Trophy – 50 Hours In

And getting 100% completion was as simple as me finding the one location I had not yet gone to to get my last side quest and errand –

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100% at 52 Hours In

Ultimately, the game felt a little short to me – though left open ended enough for DLC or a sequel, I felt like it could have been a little more there. Essentially, knowing what I know now, I feel like I could have done everything in about 45 hours or less – and with a guide, which isn’t out until tomorrow, probably even quicker. However, I did really like that for the most part, the trophies/achievements were gained for typically though normal operations – except for the 23 training dummies – and i really appreciated that.

Over all I give it a 9/10 – Excellent game play coupled with an amazing story topped off with amazing graphics and soundtrack that only felt a little short to me. I would have loved another 10-20 hours with Aloy in her machine infested world.

Horizon Zero Dawn – Launch Day Stream – J&J Show Special

Well, it begins! Horizon Zero Dawn released yesterday, and altlesjo and I joined up and had a steaming event. Meaning I streamed… he yelled… I silently hoped he would finally die… and we had a blast playing and talking about the newest action/adventure/rpg to hit PS4.

On a show note – we finally ran a full stream through the capture device and used discord for our chat audio… so, we finally believe we have that fixed.

On a YouTube note, we will have more videos of HZD to share over the next couple of weeks.

Note: The stream ended abruptly roughly an hour and a half in, to see the rest click here.

JZH Gaming – State of Nutz

Good day to everyone!

I wanted to run down what JZH Gaming has been up to and where everything is headed so far. If you follow me on YouTube, you will know that I and those who I play with have been heavily focused on Star Trek Online for PS4. This will still be the case moving forward, but with a few caveats.

First – STO is the “primary” focus, however, I will not be putting in the grind like I have been over the past 5-6 months. I will still be posting builds, still be running Hive Onslaught on Elite, and others as well, but I, and others like me, have gotten to the point where we essentially have everything we need and can get to compete at the highest levels in STO on PS4. our 6 minute Hive Space Elite run is proof of that, as well as subsequent runs of 7 minutes and 6 1/2 minutes respectively with different groups of people. I have been honored to be apart of a great group of people both on PS4 with our fleets – Stargaryen Federation (Fed Fleet) and the Stargaryen Empire (KDF fleet), as well as people on the PC side of things – and those people are linked on my YouTube channel. I look forward to continued interactions with these people moving forward. However, like most people, I am not a one game type of person – I love role-playing games, and have been slowly going through Final Fantasy 15 with my children. I am also looking forward to some games coming out, but more on that in a minute.

The main reason for slowing down on STO – beyond the obvious plateau in ways – is that Cryptic has yet to fix some of the fundamental issues plaguing the game – some – like the tailor and getting stuck while cloaked bugs have been there since the beginning. Others, like the turn rate bug, have been off again-on again issues that for whatever reason, Cryptic cannot seem to get a grip on. I understand the game is F2P, at the same time, myself, and a lot of other people, have sunk a lot of time, money and effort into this game – and lets face it, even if the Temporal Transponder was working, Agents of Yesterday, from a content perspective, was a severe joke – almost as if it was April 1st already. I get it, it’s what PC got, and yes, the new content is great, but it feels lacking. On top of that, the other content that we are all looking forward to – ships – has seemingly been designed to have the “must haves” released in such a way where it feels like every week we are having to buy a new ship to a) master for a trait and b) change our build up once again. One reason I have stuck with the Kelvin Intel Dreadnought for so long is because it works, and it works well – but to answer the question, yes, I have bought the other ship packs across the board except maybe a couple. I get it – Cryptic needs to make money to justify putting resources on the table when it comes to STO, problem is, this problem is not just on PS4 – but goes across the board on all platforms. I will say that with the Badlands introduced with AoY, the grind for marks will not be as bad as it was for Iconian, but that is really the only bright spot besides Temporal Spec coming in – because besides Crystalline Catastrophe, the PvE additions are all a joke, or worse, not worth the time and effort in running them.

I don’t see Cryptic fixing their shit any time soon – and that’s fine – I don’t see myself spending any more money any time soon either. To update – I have all of the ships I have wanted since before STO came out except two lobi ships which are not available yet. I have enough lobi to cover those and also tachyokinetic convertors once those are released. So, from that perspective, I am good.

Now that the bad is out of the way – I am still working on builds, working on the new reputations, working on getting our Hive Space Elite down even quicker – STO just does not have my undivided gaming attention anymore. For what will be sharing my attention, here we go…

Final Fantasy 15 – still taking it slow, partly because I try to play it with my kids around because the like it, AND it is how my dad played Final Fantasy games. I don’t see myself beating it anytime soon, and I probably will not post any videos or have any streams of FF15, but I will be on it from time to time. Still one of the best RPGs I have played since the Witcher 3.

Horizon Zero Dawn – Both I, and altlesjo (my YouTube partner) will be playing this. THIS game I will be streaming and uploading videos – so everyone will have an opportunity to see what some people have called the best looking game on PS4 along with me. I have been looking forward to this for a long time, and I am excited to pop it in tomorrow.

Mass Effect: Andromeda – Comes out in the middle of March – same goes for this game, will be streaming, etc.

Elite: Dangerous – Will release on PS4 in Q2 – no exact date yet, but I have played a trial on PC and watched a lot of material on this game. This looks to be my “other” MMO aside from STO, and i am looking forward to this game a lot as well.

Minecraft – Another game I have always loved – will play mostly on PS4 with a little bit on PC. Cooking up a Star Trek themed escape on Ps4 right now, and some PC friends already have some stuff that looks amazing – one of them is Darth Protius. A STO science guru in his own right, he has put a lot of effort into his Minecraft endeavors. Worth a look.

On a streaming note – I now have the capability to stream through my PC using an Elgato HD60s – so, streams and our J&J Show should be getting a lot better – and a little more complicated.

So – to some it all up – still going to be doing STO, just not as heavy. Look for more variety in content, and as always, keep sending me questions, comments and ideas.

LLAP,
jzhnutz

Final Fantasy XV – The Journey So Far

ff15I’m 12 hours in – of those 12 hours my oldest son has shared the experience with me for around 6 of those hours. We are both enjoying the whimsical moments brought on by the “bros,” as well as the graphics, fight sequences and story so far.

The experience, at least for me, goes far beyond the quests and side missions, goes past the new fighting, even goes beyond the graphics, story and the incredible homage the game does to it’s past. For me, it is the wonderful experience of having a Final Fantasy game to share with my children, much like my own father did with me and my siblings. Like my son in the picture above, I would sit and follow along in the strategy guide. Much like me, my son asks me questions that seem totally out of the blue – seemingly having nothing to do what is going on with the game at the moment, then suddenly making sense as I move along a little more. I wrote a post about how the experience of Final Fantasy with my own father was to me, and I hope that one day my sons will do the same.

So, 12 hours in, and so far the experience with my son wins the top prize. However, not everyone will be playing the game the same way as me, or have the cheerleaders that I have. There have been a ton of reviews so far, and they all pretty much say the same thing – don’t need to watch Kingsglaive, but if you do, the game makes more sense. The story is typical Final Fantasy, in that, it doesn’t make sense (even with the movie?). Graphically amazing for its time (again, typical of Final Fantasy). Game play, fighting, etc is amazing (typical). In other words, everything we truly expect a Final Fantasy game to be, this on embodies in some sense, yet because it is on the “next-gen,” soon to be the “old-gen” systems, the game is leaps and bounds beyond anything we have seen before.

I just got into chapter 3 – yep, taking my (our) time, setting a turtles pace to play the game. This is in part because my son likes to see what is “over there,” and also in part because I am a completionist. I’m only 12 hours in because my son commands me “not to get to far ahead” when he has to go to bed or take a nap, and as hard as it is to listen to him, I am trying to. For review purposes, I find that I have in reality finished the prologue to the game – which at 12 hours is a very nice prologue indeed for a Square Enix RPG, and very fitting to the Final Fantasy universe. I am not in “phase 2” of the game, where it truly becomes open world. Saying that, If there was some sort of ending in “phase 1” of the game – with around 11 hours in that phase, I would not have been disappointment. What I mean is – add several more main quests and double the side quests – make “phase 1” another 5-10 hours longer, and compared to a lot of games over the past couple of years, you would feel like you got your monies worth. There is enough to do in “phase 1” to keep you occupied – probably more then 12 hours if you are so inclined to grind level and what not. I also know there are places I have not seen in the area, as well as quests that are not completed yet – hunts, mystery maps, dungeons, etc.

Maybe it is because I have taken my time I feel a completeness in this part of the game, but I do feel that as a prologue type area, it goes above and beyond what is necessary… and I love this game for it. I spent another hour in Duscae just doing hunts, and everywhere I turn a new question mark pops up on my map – and the map itself stretches far and wide. Knowing how long it took me to get through the first phase, I can only imagine how long it will take me to get to “phase 3” – which is the more linear portion of the game.

I can’t say enough about the visuals of the game – they are simply amazing. How the world itself interacts, and of course your companions, is phenomenal. The only game I have played that reaches this type of greatness is The Witcher 3 – and that game had a lot of visual flaws and glitches. So far, for me, this game has been pretty seamless. Granted, I’m not a graphics expert – don’t expect me to tel lyou that it is 30 fps until point A then goes to 15, etc – I don’t care as long as it looks amazing to me, and it does.

Questing so far hasn’t been dull – though I get a sense of the fetch quests becoming so, it hasn’t happened yet. Maybe it is my own play style – switching it up with a hunt, then fetch quest, another hunt and so on. Maybe its because my son never seems to get bored and his amazement is contagious. I don’t know, but so far nothing has felt bland or blah. Again, for me, that’s an amazing thing to say for an RPG – again, comparing to The Witcher 3, though I wanted to do those quests, they eventually grew dry and dull. These so far have not (maybe its because I fill most of my time playing MMO games too).

Music – I can ride in a car and listen to the Final Fantasy VII soundtrack… enough said (or any other sound track from a Final Fantasy game). World music is amazing too, my kids get a kick out of the “country” music in the games early rest areas.

Combat – the big one!! I was unsure how I would like the new fighting mechanics – I’m old school. I put up with FFXIII because i thought the game was decent – but beyond that, I like the iterations before that. I like turn based in my Final Fantasy. It’s what I grew up on. Yet, from the very beginning, I find that I really like how combat flows in this game – I also think my dad, if he was still around, would have liked it as well – and from the look on my son’s face, I know he likes how it looks (if he could ever figure out how to use two joysticks at the same time, he’d be playing it). It flows very well – and it isn’t as complicated as I thought it would be. It can be simple, yet explosive, and so far, even with easy enemies, hasn’t gotten mundane. Also, the fact that you can use the Wait system (I haven’t yet), and put the game into Easy mode (I have for a night time hunt to get past the Daemons) on the fly, is a really good system for this game.

Overall, so far, I still would rate this game below The Witcher 3 – it’s hard to beat that game, especially with it’s two amazing DLC packs. However, it’s not far behind it at all, and if the DLC packs over the next, who knows, are really good, it can become it’s equal in my mind. However, unlike TW3, I can play this game with my son (as well as the rest of my children), and that, in itself, is awesome.

I’m pretty sure my oldest son would give this game a 10, and so far being able to share this game with him like my own dad did so many times with me is an A+.

Photo Credit – My Beautiful Wife

Final Fantasy – A Family Tradition

First off, this post is not as much about the game as it is my own personal experience with the franchise. It’s not even just about Final Fantasy, but about a deep and meaningful sense of purpose that was given to me at a young age.

Twenty-six years ago my dad brought home Final Fantasy for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). I was ten years old, and had already watched my dad play through the Legend of Zelda, Dragon Warrior and the like. I had joined him on the journey in those games, as well as others, and I remember well joining him on what would become a life long affair with a game series that the producers of the game saw as their last gasp. Final Fantasy, the original, was everything a lover of role playing games could ask for at the time on a home console, and eventually would become one of the largest names in the genre.

My dad loved it – and subsequently, loved every Final Fantasy, or Final Fantasyesqe game that came out – think Chrono Trigger, etc. Dutifully,  would watch my dad play for hours and hours, into the wee hours of the morning, especially on the weekends. When we moved and my brother and I had our own floor (a former attic), the gaming TV and the game systems followed with us, and so did my dad – at least on Friday nights. We would sit there on the floor, as he sat on a dusty and lumpy old love seat, mesmerized as he defeated enemies and leveled up. We followed along in the strategy guide, telling him where treasure was. He patiently would move back and forth, in what we now call grinding, in the same spot for hours, leveling up.

It’s one of the most pleasant memories of my childhood, and even into my adulthood, I would follow him along as he journeyed in the lands created by Square Soft, and later, Square Enix. My dad wasn’t the greatest JRPG (Japanese Role Playing Game) player, but his attention to detail insured he left no stone unturned. His desire for perfection is what ultimately led to him never completing Final Fantasy XII – he missed the Zephyr Spear because he unfortunately opened a chest in the beginning hours of the game. He, of course, as a “completionist”, restarted. I don’t remember how far he got in his second play through before he had his stroke that left him physically incapable of playing, but I know he was probably close to the end again. I also don’t remember if he actually got the spear – I would like to think he did, but again, that was nine years ago, and unfortunately we had more important things on our minds. I, of course, was playing as well – but likewise, I never finished the game due to the upheaval. This led to one of my biggest regrets – we, as a family, left a Final Fantasy game unfinished – a first.

Eventually over the next couple of years, I became a family man myself. Marrying my beautiful wife, and at the time of this writing, having five beautiful and wondrous children to call my own. I played Final Fantasy XIII and XIII-2 – not enjoying them as much as previous titles, but playing and beating them nonetheless. Lightning Returns, not so much. I begane playing Final Fantasy XIV and my three oldest children loved it. With exclamations like, “its a chocobo!” the would sit and watch me play for hours – like a lot of games. However, beyond their random comments, the interaction was minimal.

With Final Fantasy XV, this has begun to change. My oldest son, who is six years old, has dutifully watched me play a couple of hours over the past couple of nights.  He has anxiously waited on me to complete my other “gaming duties” – I run a successful Star Trek Online fleet (think guild) on Playstation 4, and the moment I click on the FF15 icon, he grabs his blanket, runs to the couch, sits down and smiles. The interactions are priceless – “daddy, those guys look like robots,” (Imperial magitek soldiers), “Daddy, your car is awesome and gold,” (it has the chocobo skin from the pre-order), to, “daddy, its getting dark, you don’t want the real bad guys to get you.” I have been trying to connect with video games with my children – at least one of them – like my dad did with me, and it seems, just like it did with me, Final Fantasy has brought that to pass. Last night he asked me if he could stay up and watch me play tonight, I told him I didn’t know if I would be able to – again, gaming obligations with Star Trek Online, but since it is Friday (I get off early), we can play tomorrow afternoon. There, I said it, “we.”

Final Fantasy XV is a single player game – but for my family, Final Fantasy has always been more then that. An experience shared between father and son, and now that tradition, it seems, is going to continue. Part of me thinks it was a way for my dad to get us to calm down and sit in one place, yet I also understand that my dad felt joy when we did sit next to him, reading him the maps and telling him where to go. I can remember him explaining what he was doing and why he was doing it the way he was – sharing his strategy, sharing his wisdom of trial and error. Much like the way he did with everything in his life – as a clergyman, as a father, as a husband – he learned from his mistakes and triumphs, and passed that knowledge on to his sons and daughter. I’m not banking on my oldest son, or any of my sons and my daughter in fully appreciating Final Fantasy – and in this case, Final Fantasy 15, as much as I ultimately did right away. For one, they are still a lot younger then I was when I began the journey twenty-six years ago. I am, however, thrilled at the prospect of at least one of my children wantonly desiring to share in this game’s journey.

As I was going to bed last night, my wife rolled over and told me that as she was putting my oldest son to bed, he could barely contain his excitement. “Daddy said we are going to play Final Fantasy all afternoon, and he is going to teach me how to use the strategy guide (or something to that effect)!” It hit me, my son is excited – not just for a video game, but because it is something that we have been doing together. I rolled over in bed and realized that so was I.

I still have my dad’s copy of Final Fantasy XII, he, of course, got the collectors edition. I still have his strategy guide, again, the collectors edition. I still have all of his notes, and his marks and checks are still visible in the guide. I don’t have a Playstation 2 – otherwise I would have completed it. I do hold out hope that one day they will “remaster” it for PS4, if only so I can lay that one beast to rest, for both myself and my dad. If that day comes, I know I will have at least one son of my on by my side, and I have a feeling I will have at least four others being just as dutiful to me as I was with my dad.

*Note: My dad passed away in 2014 – I know a lot of people wont get it, my wife sometimes included, but Final Fantasy, at least to me, was and is a very important part of my life and time with him. There are obviously a myriad of other things, many things far more important, but FF has always been the one thing that has stuck out in my mind. I am honored that I have the chance to share that same type of experience with my children that he did with his. I am sure he would have loved this game as well.