Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A Link to the Past

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is the first game in my "Zelda lite" playthrough of the series that I dug in deep with.  I had forgotten just how good this game is.

I fired it up on Wii U Virtual Console and after getting past the intro for the first time in years and years... I was just amazed.  This game is still really good.  Even by modern standards.  Yeah, some modern conveniences are missing but nothing that truly hurts the enjoyment of the game (especially with built in save states on Virtual Console).

This is the first Zelda game that feels fully formed.  It's the core of the series realized fully.  Exploring the overworld, uncovering secrets, slowly figuring out what to do in dungeons, getting more skillful at combat, finding new items to get around the world... it's all here.

Not to mention the structure.  It's almost identical to the structure of Ocarina of Time.  A Link to the Past finds you needing to collect three pendants which let you get the Master Sword and reveal an entire second world linked to the first.  Then you need to collect seven crystals trapping seven maidens to unlock the way to the final confrontation.  It's so close to Ocarina that I almost couldn't believe it.

It's also worth mentioning that the first intro dungeon acts as a tutorial without explicitly holding your hand or spelling everything out for you.  You learn by doing.  It seems like this is something modern games have forgotten.  Even later Zelda games have the problem of too much text and tutorial up front, but not this one.  A Link to the Past throws you into challenge after challenge that teach you new things about the game.

I'm also finding it interesting that 2D games seem to have aged better than 3D games.  I've tried playing some early era N64 and PS1 games lately and they don't hold up nearly as well as a solid SNES game does.

Something I didn't notice until I was two dungeons in is that at some point my son had fired up the game and created a new save using his name.  I was using that file without realizing it, so for the first time ever I ended up playing the whole game without my character being named Link.  It was my son's name instead.  Every time I saw it I got a little smile on my face.

Anyway, this isn't my first time beating A Link to the Past but it is my first time finishing it in at least ten years, if not more.  I remember loving it on SNES and GBA so I'm glad it still holds up today.  This is the first Zelda I can recommend to any gamer out there.

And with all that said I should probably start ranking the Zelda games as I go, just like I did with my Final Fantasy Project.  So here we go, current rankings:
  1. A Link to the Past (1991) 
  2. The Legend of Zelda (1987)
  3. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1988)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Duelyst Update

Guys... Duelyst is really good.

I wrote about it awhile ago and said that it had potential but I would have to wait for the official release to see how it panned out.

Well, it's been out for a few months and it's really good.  It's somewhere between Hearthstone and Hero Academy, two games that I loved.  I highly recommend it if you're interested in turn based strategy or new card game mechanics or even just good online competition.

Duelyst has come a long way and it's completely free to play (unless you want to spend money).  Seriously, go check it out if you haven't.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Zelda II The Adventure of Link

Ugh, ok... so this is the game that made me hold off on doing this series playthrough for a long time.  This is the main game that made me make this a "lite" version of a series playthrough and made me give myself permission to not actually finish all the games.

I do not like this game.

I know it has it's fans and I know it's technically a main Zelda game... but it's just not.  It doesn't feel like a Zelda game should.  This is mostly a side-scrolling beat-em-up with Zelda trappings.  It doesn't have the freedom and open exploration of the original and it definitely doesn't feel like any other Zelda game out there.

I wish I liked this game enough to actually finish it once.  But, I don't.  This is one of the few Zelda games that I've never finished.  At this point I've come to the realization that I never will and I'm ok with that.

So please forgive how much I'm glossing over this one.  If you're a fan of it let me know.  I'd love to hear from the perspective of someone who really likes this game.

But there's no question in my mind that this is the odd one out for the Zelda series.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

X-Men Apocalypse Review

I finally got around to watching X-Men Apocalypse and it was... alright.  I liked it more than First Class or Days of Future past.  But as for the movie itself it was just ok.

The plot was entirely predictable from start to finish.  The bad guy was lame and never once interested me.  But the action was fine and the character development was good to see.

Overall, I think it's a great movie for a different reason.  It has finally gotten away from the shackles of the original movie trilogy and it's cast.  By the end of X-Men Apocalypse we finally have our entire new cast of characters with new actors all assembled and they seem really good.

I feel like the stage is finally set for the next X-Men movie to potentially be great.  I think this cast can do amazing things if given the right script now that they're finally free from all the baggage of the first three X-Men movies.

So, while I don't think I'll be re-watching X-Men Apocalypse anytime soon instead I'm super excited for the possibilities that the next movie in the series will bring.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Ink and Bone Review

I've read a lot of books this year, just like I always do, but none of them were truly fantastic.  Most fell into the mediocre to ok range.  A few were good and a few were total duds.

That changed when I read Ink and Bone.  It's easily my favorite book that I've read this year so far.  I knew almost nothing about it going in except that I had liked some of the author's work before and by the end of the book I wanted to know what happened next!  Rachel Caine does a great job kicking off a new series with Ink and Bone.

Ink and Bone is set in a world where the library of Alexandria never burned.  It continued to grow in both scope and power until it controlled all knowledge in the world.  All technological advancement had to come from the library and so this alternate timeline finds a much different world than the one we live in.

The printing press has been suppressed and instead people have to check out books into "blanks" that function similarly to a modern day kindle.  The printed word is not widely available in any other form, so the library controls information throughout the world.

The main character in Ink and Bone is a book smuggler's son.  He starts to learn the trade of smuggling real books in a world where it's illegal to own them.  After realizing it's not the right fit for him his father pushes him to join the Library so they can have a member of the family on the inside.

The adventure takes off from there and never really lets up.  I loved so much about this book.  The pacing, the characters, the world-building, the writing style, the plot itself.  Like I said, as soon as I finished Ink and Bone I immediately looked to see if there was another book in the series.

There was!  So I bought and downloaded it immediately.  Expect me to blast through that one as well and do a write up soon.

Friday, October 21, 2016

S1E36 - Day-to-Day Technology - “Hey Alexa, I need a pizza”

Day-to-Day Technology
In this episode:
  • Being geeks like we are, our lives pretty much revolve around technology. Or maybe technology revolves around our lives. This week, we discuss what we’re using day to day and how it makes our lives both easier and more difficult at times. Some of it, you’d probably guess (iPhones, Macbooks, gaming consoles), but there are some neat ones, we think you’ll enjoy hearing about and looking into.
  • Because we do use technology so much, the idea of disconnect or disengaging from technology has a lot of appeal to some people (Beej), while others tend to just shift their usage to maintain a normal, adult lifestyle (Void). It all depends on your personalities, and we discuss strategies that work for us so that you can see some healthy, real-world ways you may be able to adopt into your own routines.
  • And then there’s the awesome technology that you think you’re gonna use a ton, but instead, it just sits on a shelf, all alone and abandoned. We talk about purchases that should have been awesome, but totally fell short of expectations. Kind of like the Vive for Void (though it’s still awesome tech), and the New 3DS for Beej (which was switched for a PS Vita).
  • Plus, there’s always speculation about what tech is on it’s way. We talk about the stuff we’re particularly excited for. Like the honest-to-goodness iPhone upgrade for the 10th anniversary, the newly announced Nintendo Switch (formerly the NX), self-driving cars, augmented reality, nanotechnology, and space colonization. Give us a shout and tell us what you’re looking for!
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Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Legend of Zelda

This is where the series starts and where my sampling of the series begins.  The Legend of Zelda is a game I played and loved as a kid.  I've beaten it many time, but none of them recently.  But hey, when you're a kid and don't have many games on hand you beat all the ones you own multiple times.

 A few years ago, my brother and I took a day on Virtual Console to see how far we could actually get in the game.  We made it through five-ish dungeons before giving up.  This game is really hard.

I can't believe how much I must have mastered it as a kid to be able to beat it on more than one occasion.  Sitting down and playing it yesterday was an exercise in frustration.  Yes, the core of the series we love is here... but it's still gameplay from the 80s.  It's difficult to make progress and even using the save states on Virtual Console it's still full of frustratingly tough section.

I played through the first few dungeons last night just to refresh my memory.  Although I love the open world, exploration, and core of the series in The Legend of Zelda it's just not a game that I want to spend my time playing all the way through.

I've been there and done that.

If you have never actually tried this first entry and you already love the Zelda series you truly owe it to yourself to at least spend a day with The Legend of Zelda for the NES.  Pick it up on Virtual Console for your system of choice and just dive in to see where everything started.

It's kind of amazing how many elements from this first game carry through the series.