You might think the brain behind Outside is Overrated would be akin to Sheldon Cooper’s – believing that man has spent thousands of years perfecting inside, why would we ever go out? Alas, (or avast?) this Tom spent nearly two weeks in Alaska and the pristine wilderness of Voyageurs National Park. So did our fearless adventurer log more hours in Final Fantasy or catching fish?
The answer was a resounding win for the boats. While I logged a good seven to eight hours of Final Fantasy VII and VIII on the flights to and from Alaska, I spent days in boats this month. The Alaskan adventure was my third trip to the Kenai Peninsula, and my beloved Beaver Creek Cabins. I love fishing with the guide Keith, and my family was featured on his blog and fishing report. I am a blurry dot in the background of one picture, and he called me Jake (my brother’s name). As you can see, we are tight.
This is roughly the same trip my wife and I went on for our honeymoon, and it was pretty awesome to return with our one-year-old daughter. We even stayed in the same cabin from our honeymoon.
The first day of salmon fishing came right after the end of the King season. King salmon are elusive trophy fish, and I didn’t think I would ever catch one in my life. We were attempting to catch Silver salmon.
That first morning, my brother caught one. Then he caught another one. Then my dad caught one. Then my sister caught one. We were just about to move in search of greener (or silverer?) pastures, when my rob started going crazy. In the span of an hour or so, my family had caught five King salmon. Some people don’t catch Kings in years and years of trying. It was mind-boggling, and I think it was the first thing I have scratched off my bucket list.
I should note, you are not allowed to take Kings out of the water after the season closes. Our guide would have us bring them up to the boat, and he would unhook them without taking them out of the water. My sister’s was massive, Keith estimated that it was about 50 pounds. Mine was much, much smaller.
Over our three days of salmon fishing, the silver fishing was slow, but the red fishing was very hot. Keith had us get out of the boat wearing waders, starting on the second day and we would stand in the water flipping our lines out just off the shoreline using fly-fishing rods. Phoenix hooked a salmon instantly. Then my dad did. Then my sister landed another monster. Meanwhile, I kept flipping and flipping, with no action. After about four hours of watching everyone else hook fish, I was getting pretty salty. Maybe it was the brackish water of the river.
After moving to a second spot to flip for reds, my ship finally came in. As we were starting to think about packing it in for the day, I landed my first fish, and I ended up catching three in the final 20 minutes. Sometimes it feels like fishing is nothing more than stubbornly waiting for the stupid things to bite.
My siblings and my dad did a bit of hiking while we were up there, but my wife and I weren’t so ambitious with our little lady. We had nap times and early bedtimes to plan around. We did hike up to see the Exit Glacier just outside of Seward. Being the super smart parent that I am, we didn’t bring a baby carrier, just the stroller. About two-thirds of the way up the trail became impassable for the stroller, and I carried my daughter in my arms while everyone else took turns lugging the stroller up the trail. I was very thankful for my siblings.
After a week back at work, I had a three-day week followed by a four-day camping trip in Voyageurs National Park. This trip was just my dad and me, and we spent most of it in the boat. Each day in the park we were on the water at 6:15 a.m. chasing walleye, and we were largely successful. We caught over 30 fish, including my dad landing a 32-inch, seven-pound Northern. We also set our cookware on fire twice.
So, uh, this is a gaming blog, right? Do you ever talk about games?
Why yes, voice in my head, thank you for asking! Here are my thoughts and analysis on gaming this month:
Episode 15 of Outside is Overrated – Tom and Joey Work Together
In the newest edition of the podcast, Joey and I talk about our favorite cooperative board game experiences. If you are looking to share some games with less hardcore players, we have some great recommendations.
Nearly Half of Game Informer’s Staff Are Laid Off
This was heartbreaking news for me. As reported by Jason Schreier on Kotaku and others, seven editors and a number of other Game Informer staff members were let go. I am a massive fan of the publication and have been lucky enough to meet a large number of their editors. They were exceptionally kind to me, taking a few minutes to chat about games when I toured their office a couple years ago.
It was a harsh reminder that print media (and GameStop, who owns Game Informer) is struggling. I love print magazines, and I hope that Game Informer continues putting out great content for years. If you’d like to take a stroll down memory lane, you can check out my interview with Game Informer Digital Editor Brian Shea. If you’d like to help, please go get a rewards card at GameStop and buy a crapload of pre-owned games.
PlayStation Acquires Insomniac Games
There is an arms race in the video game world. Microsoft started purchasing studios last year. And while Sony already has a stable of awesome first-party developers, in Insomniac they added a big-time indie studio who has produced a series of Triple-A titles, going all the way back to Spyro the Dragon on the original PlayStation.
What does this mean for us as gamers?
After the success of Marvel’s Spider-Man last year, there is undoubtedly a sequel or sequels in the works. With Sony now owning Insomniac, I expect these follow-ups to remain a PlayStation exclusive.
This arms race shows how much emphasis hardware developers are placing on console exclusives. After getting battered by outstanding titles like God of War, Spider-Man, Horizon Zero Dawn and Uncharted 4, it appears that Microsoft is preparing to try a similar strategy in the next console generation. Microsoft already has the Xbox game pass, it feels like we are getting closer and closer to both companies launching their “Netflix for Gaming” campaigns.
Final Fantasy VIII May Be My Favorite Entry in the Series
I have been rolling along with the Final Fantasy Challenge, playing another mainline entry in the series every month. In August I picked up VIII, which was one of two I have never played. I had seen a friend play it in high school and remember scoffing at how dumb the graphics looked. After about 10 with the game, I am absolutely enthralled.
With all the travel and fantasy football prep this was a busy month and I wish I could have found more time for this game. Fortunately, the remastered version comes out Sept. 3. I look forward to playing it on my big-ass TV, instead of the Vita.
I’ve also still been watching Farscape (Crichton is such a slut!) and playing Monster Hunter World. You can check out my early impressions of both in last month’s column.
Until next time, stay inside, kids! – Tom