Saturday, December 31, 2016

NES Classic

I managed to snag an NES Classic the week before Christmas and I've been playing it since then.  I don't want to review it or give impressions of it the way I normally would with a game or system I'm just diving into.

The NES Classic is just pure nostalgia in and adorable little form factor.  It transports me back to being 5-10 years old again and I can't describe the joy I get from seeing my kids play it.  They're just so happy playing the same games I was at their age.  It's amazing.

If you have any nostalgia for the NES you should pick up a Classic as soon as they get their stock situation under control.  You won't regret it.

Friday, December 30, 2016

S1E46 - Best Video Games of 2016 - “A top 6… I guess?”

Best Video Games of 2016
In this episode:
  • Like a great many other podcasts, we are hopping on the “best of” train, and we’re gonna be discussing our best video games of 2016. Now this isn’t only games that came out this year, but games that we played this year.
  • We were initially going to do a Top 5 each, but amazingly enough, there were more than 5 games we wanted to rank as we put together our best of 2016 lists. So...we have Top 6 lists for you! Hah! How’s that?
  • We also do honorable mentions because we played quite a few games this year. Void more than Beej, honestly because of his Gamefly experience. He went through over 50 games using Gamefly, and you’ll have to listen if you want to find out which--if any--of the B-tier titles made it into his list.
  • We also talk about the biggest letdowns of the year--but not much! We aren’t negative guys, and we didn’t want to dwell on things that aren’t fun to talk about. But we did want to mention the ones that were especially not worth our time so that you may be able to avoid them and spend your time playing the best video games of 2016 instead of the “meh” games of the year.
  • If you want our thoughts on No Man’s Sky months after the initial hubbub, or maybe Void’s lasting impression of virtual reality and the Vive. And what about that little game named Overwatch that came out this year? Are we still even thinking about that? And maybe you’ve heard about the cancellation of Disney Infinity--want to know how that affected your friendly, neighborhood podcast hosts?
  • And we want to know about your top video games of the year, too! We want to know which games kept your attention and which ones don’t quite make you stay up late for just another 5 minutes that turn into just another 5 hours. So tell us in the subreddit!
Weekly Geekery
Be sure to subscribe to the Geek to Geek Podcast your favorite podcast app, drop a review so we know how we’re doing, and feel free contact us via email at or @geektogeekcast on Twitter with any comments, questions, or suggestions for the show. Thanks for listening, and we can’t wait to hear from you!
Geek to Geek Podcast Network:
Music by CarboHydroM

Thursday, December 29, 2016

FFXV Platinum!

I got my first Platinum trophy on PSN.  When I played through FFXV I did my normal thing of not caring about trophies at all.  I don't even look at them until after I finish a game, and FFXV was no different.

But what was different was that when I beat the main story of FFXV I was actually close to having all the trophies in the game organically.  With modern Playstation games if you get all the trophies you unlock the "Platinum" trophy to show you've 100% the challenges the developers put into the trophies.

I figured if I was going to do it for any game it should be a Final Fantasy.  So, after playing around with endgame content I wanted to experience I buckled down for a few nights and finished out the unique skills I needed to get to receive all the trophies.  While one of them was really tedious and dumb (Gladio's Survival Skill) I was really close to having the rest maxed out already.  Finishing it off wasn't too bad.

Now I have my first Platinum and it's for a game series I love!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Super Mario Run Review

I really like Super Mario Run.  It's a great first real game for Nintendo to put on iOS.  It really feels like a Mario game even though it's kind of an infinite runner.  But it's not an infinite runner.  It's Mario.

It was definitely worth the $10 price to open up the whole game.  One playthrough to the end of the levels doesn't take too long but the added value comes from the challenge of going back through the levels to gather colored coins.  If you manage to grab all 5 pink coins in one run you get a chance to try for the purples.  If you get the purples you can go for the black ones and those even remix the levels.

There's also a Toad Rally if you feel like competing for style points against other people on the internet.  I did a bit of that one, but Mario for me has always been about the single player platforming.  That platforming definitely finds a good home on iPhones and iPads.

Now I'm just really excited for the Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing that are coming to iOS early next year.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Guards! Guards! Review

Guards! Guards! was my very first Terry Pratchet novel.  He has multiple series that all gently interweave in the same setting and I was told this was a really good place to start.

And I really liked the beginning of the book.  It was fun to figure out the setting and it was actually really humorous which isn't something I normally go for it books.  But in the first third of this novel it worked for me.  I also loved the ending and the way all the stories wrapped up.

My problem was with the middle of the book.  I thought the whole novel could have been reduced in length by a third if a lot of the wasted time in the middle was cut out.  It's just a pacing thing.

Now I'm thinking about possibly reading more of Prachet's stuff.  I just wonder if it's better paced than this book.  I can tell there are a lot of things in his writing that I like, so I should probably give him at least another novel to try to hook me.  I'm just not sure which novel of his I should read next.

Monday, December 26, 2016

World of Warcraft Legion

Coming back to Legion with my Druid instead of the Demon Hunter was a great idea.  It started out with a bang.  It had a really cool intro with a decent story and fun cutscenes.  Then I immediately got thrown into my artifact weapon quest which is probably one of the best World of Warcraft quests I've ever played.

After that I was set up in my Druid class hall and I loved it.  The class hall idea is so good and I've always loved the Druid stuff in WoW so it completely clicked with me.

I was surprised to be given a choice of zones after that.  After researching a bit I learned that all the content in Legion scales to your level so you get to pick the order you do the zones in.  There was one that looked Druid themed so I dove into it and played through the whole zone.  It was a ton of fun.

After that I had a high enough item level that I started queuing for dungeons while working on the next zone.

But that's where I ran out of steam.  The druid zone had such a good story that I cared about.  It had lots of cutscenes, story development, and meaningful interaction with characters I've know since Warcraft 3.  The next zone I tried had almost none of that.  I thought maybe I could just grind some levels in the dungeon finder and then move on to a different zone but I quickly learned you're locked into your current zone until you finish it.  That's the way it seems anyway.

So after doing each dungeon once or twice and completely losing all momentum in the zone I was essentially trapped in... I put the game down.  I'm done with WoW again.  Probably for a few years.

I played for approximately seven days after being away for more than five years and that was enough for me.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

S1E45 - Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - “We’ve never disagreed this much about Star Wars before”

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
In this episode:
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story just released, and we had to do a podcast on it. Especially since we did a pre-release show last week! What is interesting, though, is that we have never disagreed so much about Star Wars. Despite being roughly the same level of fan (read: fanatic), the two of us look at both the SW universe and film/media in general in such different ways that our takeaways from Rogue One are starkly different.
  • From the characters to the plot, to pacing and even whether or not this Star Wars Story needed to be told at all, we disagree on almost every point. We do, however, totally understand why the other feels the way he does. We have a long discussion about the Star Wars universe, what makes each of us love it, and why. Much of our disagreement around Rogue One comes from its dark tone, which influences our enjoyment on a film-viewing level, not as a Star Wars fan.
  • We do, however, agree on a number of points about the movie. We found a lot to love about Rogue One, and more than anything else, it makes us excited for the new directions that the franchise will take. It’s a great sign that because we disagree about Rogue One, there will inevitably be an experimental Star Wars Story that flips our disagreement 180 degrees. There is a ripe future for Star Wars because of the precedent set with Rogue One, and we both can’t wait to see what new things Disney is going to bring us in the future.
Holiday present for us… rate and review in iTunes!
Geeky Sponsor / Offer of the Week
Weekly Geekery
  • Beej - Super Mario Run / Fuller House
  • Void -  WoW Legion / Fuller House / White Rabbit Project / Super Mario Run
Be sure to subscribe to the Geek to Geek Podcast your favorite podcast app, drop a review so we know how we’re doing, and feel free contact us via email at or @geektogeekcast on Twitter with any comments, questions, or suggestions for the show. Thanks for listening, and we can’t wait to hear from you!
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Music by CarboHydroM

World of Warcraft Warlords of Draenor

After flying through Mists of Pandaria in one play session I jumped to Warlords of Draenor.  The story hooked me much more in this expansion.  It feels like the first time that the World of Warcraft team was actually good at telling a story instead of just setting up a scenario.

I bought into the premise and had a lot of fun the first night.  Playing through the start of the story with all the cutscenes and digging into garrison building was a ton of fun.

Then night two hit and I was essentially back to grinding on quests and the dungeon finder.  The leveling was slower than Mists so I actually got to sample all the zones.  I think I 100% the first zone and I did random quests in all the others.  But again, dungeon finder became the most fun because the drive of the story got lost in the shuffle.

Night three found me almost give up on WoW again.  I was getting bored.  Quests, gameplay, and dungeons were all blending together and just feeling the same.  But then a friend mentioned that I was only one level away from being able to jump over to Legion.  I figured if I bought the expansion and the game time I should at least give Legion a shot with the character I was enjoying the most.

So, in the end, I almost got bored enough of WoW after 4 nights to stop playing but Legion saved the day.  I jumped over to that and started on the intro quests that have a lot of story and cutscenes.  Now I'm invested for at least one more night.  I'm going to play Legion and see how far I make it.

My main problem is that the gameplay isn't changing at all.  This is the same game I've played before.  I can tell I'm not going to make it too much further before I set it down.  Hopefully I can sample a decent portion of Legion first.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

World of Warcraft Mists of Pandaria

After my trials and tribulations the first day trying to get back into WoW I dove into Mists of Pandaria with my main Druid who was sitting at the end of Cataclysm content at level 85.

At this point it's obvious that they have made the experience grind in Mists of Pandaria much faster than it used to be.  I started shooting up levels just casually questing.  After only a few quest hubs I was able to queue for the dungeon finder and I started shooting up the levels even faster.

I liked the setting of Mists of Pandaria, it was nice and relaxing, but the quest design and the zone flow wasn't any better than WoW used to be.  I mostly did the dungeon finder and that rapidly made me hit the Mists of Pandaria level cap of 90 in one afternoon.  I never even left the first zone for questing.

But I had a ton of fun with the dungeon finder.  Dungeons were always my favorite part of WoW and it seems like that's still true.  I got to sample all the Mists of Pandaria dungeons that afternoon.

Then I was ready to jump into the next expansion, Warlords of Draenor, the next day.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Getting Back Into World of Warcraft

After finishing up FFXV I had an itch to play an MMO so I bit the bullet and finally resubscribed to World of Warcraft.  It's been five or six years since I last played so I thought the best course of action would be to pick up the latest expansion and create the newest class at high level so I could jump right into the game.

That means my first experience back was playing Legion as a Demon Hunter.  It did not go well.  The story was fine but I didn't actually like abilities and the way the Demon Hunter class played.  I did the entire intro which gets the Demon Hunter to level 100 and then I played enough of the expansion content to level up to 101... almost 102.  But the class never clicked with me.

I didn't want to give up on my attempt to get back into WoW since I had just paid for the expansion and a month of game time so I moved on to the Paladin I had boosted.

You see, to make a Demon Hunter you need a level 100 character on the server that you want to make it on.  I had no characters on the server my friends play on so I created a Paladin, which used to be my main alt, and boosted it to 100 with the free character boost I got in the expansion.

So I jumped over to that Paladin and it was ok but not great.  It seemed like it would be a fun alt to have, just like I used to do with a Paladin.  At this point I was about ready to give up and try a different MMO instead.

But then I thought... maybe I should just go back to my original character.  He's the character I've used since Vanilla WoW and he's sitting right at the end of Cataclysm content.  I figured I might as well give it a try.

And it clicked!  I guess in WoW I'm just a Druid at heart.  And I'm attached to that character too, which helps a lot.  I don't know how long I'll play.  I would guess less than the full month of game time.  But I'm at least going to sampled modern day WoW and see how it goes.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians

The Alcatraz series is the only writing of Brandon Sanderson's that I hadn't checked out.  I finally remedied that.

Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians is about a kid named Alcatraz who suddenly finds out he has magic.  It's very Young Adult.  I like Young Adult books when they're closer to the higher part of the Young Adult age range.  Alcatraz is near the lower end.

I felt like this was a book that my kids are almost ready for, not one meant for me.  Although I bet I would have loved it if I was 11-13.

I wouldn't recommend this one for adults but if you have kids just hitting the Young Adult reading age this one would be a great book to pick up.

Friday, December 16, 2016

S1E44 - Before Star Wars: Rogue One - “I would scream in the theater”

Before Star Wars Rogue One
In this episode:
  • We’re excited because a new Star Wars movie is coming out. We couldn’t resist talking about it before hand.
  • This is not a spoiler episode, and we are releasing this a day early for you folks to listen to in time for the weekend’s releae. We will only be talking about stuff from the trailers and maybe a bit from the prequel novel.
  • Next week will be our spoiler filled review of the movie. So stay tuned!
Our worries and concerns are minimal.
  • Void is worried we already know so much of the plot from the trailers and just context of the movie, but we think it may be very character driven.
  • It may not be as good as the mainline Star Wars movies, which wouldn’t bode well for the other spin-offs, and he is also worried the tone of “war movie” may not fit the franchise as well as the science-fantasy does.
  • Beej is worried there are so few Jedi and that aspect because it’s a major hallmark of the franchise. We know other media can tell different stories well, but let’s see how they do it as a film.
  • He doesn’t like the title because lots of people he knows have no idea it’s a Star Wars movie, and he is afraid it will get criticized the same as The Force Awakens for being too close to the Original Trilogy.
  • Beej wants to see some kind of Rebels tie in. We think the Ghost is in a space battle, but we really want to see a character cameo in the background or some of Sabine’s vandalism.
Theories and Wild Speculation
  • Void thinks Jyn’s father will put the Death Star’s weakness in on purpose because he is only working for the Empire to protect his family.
  • We hope to see an Ocean’s 11-style heist that will go wrong as they escape.
  • I think Jyn’s Father (Galen) put the exhaust port weakness into the Death Star on purpose because he was forced to work on it and didn’t actually want to.  He’s just doing it to protect his family.
  • I think they’ll get the plans in an ocean’s 11 style heist but it’ll all go wrong when they try to escape.
  • A bunch of them, if not all of them, might just die.
  • We are really curious how Vader will be used. This might make him scary in a way we haven’t seen since in the past we’ve only seen him go up against Jedi.
  • We see big explosions on a planet. Our guess is that it’s the Death Star doing a test firing but it’s not at full power yet. We know how fast it destroyed Alderaan and this isn’t that. So maybe they’re still perfecting it.
  • Beej hopes to see the Emperor being mean to Vader like he is in the new Marvel comics that take place between Episodes IV and V.
  • Beej wants Jyn to betray the Rebellion and join the Empire.
  • This scene gives oodles of context for Rogue One.
Holiday present for us… rate and review in iTunes!
Geeky Sponsor / Offer of the Week
  • Beej has a new audiobook out this week! Go check out his science-fantasy (and Star Wars-inspired!) books “The Technomage Archive” on Audible and get one of them for free at
Weekly Geekery
Be sure to subscribe to the Geek to Geek Podcast your favorite podcast app, drop a review so we know how we’re doing, and feel free contact us via email at or @geektogeekcast on Twitter with any comments, questions, or suggestions for the show. Thanks for listening, and we can’t wait to hear from you!
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Music by CarboHydroM

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Bouncing Off Some Books

I've had a bunch of time to listen to audiobooks lately between doing all the sidequests in FFXV and trying to get back into MMOs.  So much of that time doesn't require listening to in-game audio.

I decided to finally tackle a bunch of audiobooks that had been sitting in my backlog for awhile.  These are books I picked up in sales or as part of deals so they were super cheap.  They aren't ones I spent a lot of money on so I didn't have to feel bad if they didn't click with me and I put them down without finishing them.

I rapidly removed them from my backlog as I started bouncing off of them.  For a lot of them it was obvious why they ended up on super sale, they just weren't great.  But for a few others they were just books that didn't click with me.  They had too generic of a setting, started off with characters I didn't like, or just didn't get to the premise fast enough.

It felt good to check off a bunch of audiobooks from my list and I did eventually land on one that held my attention, Guards! Guards!, by Terry Pratchet.  I've never read any of his books but so far this one is interesting and funny.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Pokemon Sun

Pokemon Sun was fun for a Pokemon game!  It's still Pokemon but if that's what you're looking for then this is a really good version of it.

In fact, I would say this is my favorite Pokemon game at this point.  I've played about half of the generations and this is the first time the story got me to care about it at all.  Plus, all the modern conveniences continue to roll in and make this game better.

There's not a lot to say besides it's Pokemon again and it's a good one.  If you want to hear me go on about it for awhile then check out the podcast episode from a few weeks back:

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Star Wars Catalyst Review

The latest Star Wars Expanded Universe novel, Catalyst, is a direct prequel to the upcoming Rogue One out later this week.  It wasn't great.

I mean, it was ok.  It wasn't horrible or anything.  But, it also wasn't a good book on it's own.

Mostly, Catalyst is just an introduction to two of the characters that will be in Rogue One.  It follows Krennic (that guy in white from the trailers) and Galen (Jyn's father).  They both have an engineering background.  Krennic is a military man and in charge of overseeing the Death Star building.  Galen is a super intelligent scientist doing energy research with kyber crystals.  Galen is a pacifist who wants to use his research to provide power to everyone.  Krennic slowly ropes him into helping with the Death Star main weapon without Galen ever figuring it out.

And that's most of the book right there.  Not a lot else happens.  There are parts with other characters but they don't really matter that much.  It's basically just setting the scene for Rogue One.

In a way I'm really glad it doesn't give away any part of the movie.  But on the other hand, it contributes so little to the universe that I don't think this book needs to exist.

If you aren't a completionist Star Wars fan like me then you should just skip this book.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Mr. Robot Impressions

I watched the first Mr. Robot episode and was really impressed by it.  I thought this was a show I can really buy into.

But then I watched more.

The show got worse with each episode.  It slowly becomes a story about drugs, addiction, mental health, and corporate america.  It becomes less and less about being a good guy hacker.

I got to around episode 5 or 6 and just had to stop.  It seemed like the next episode was going to be about gang violence around the drug trade.  I've gotten my lifetime fill of those stories from watching Breaking Bad.

So, sadly, Mr. Robot ended up not being for me.  After an amazing first episode it fades and turns into a show I'm not into.

Friday, December 9, 2016

S1E43 - The Holidays AND Final Fantasy XV - “An ambitious mess that I love”

The Holidays AND Final Fantasy XV
In this episode:
  • The holidays are stressful, and it’s hard to get your geek time in when you’re constantly juggling family responsibilities, the time changes, the darkness, the seasonal depression, the gift buying, decorating...well, you get the picture.
  • For us, we have different mechanisms to help us cope with all this. Beej plays mindless adventure games and MMOs to escape the winter doldrums, as well as reading a lot more. Ebooks are especially good, as are digital comics for road trips. Cozy scented candles and meditation in low light also keeps him evened out.
  • Void only has a few weeks off during the year, so he uses his extended Christmas break for some quiet time and extra reading. He also tends to power through games and spend lots of time gaming with his family. Being able to sit down and play games with his kids are incredibly soothing, and it’s good quality family time, too.
  • Most of us have multiple family meetings, and geeking out can be hard to do when you’re forced to be social. One suggestion is to be social during the most obvious times, but then excuse yourself to be alone and read or play whatever games you want to. Most family members understand we all need a little time to ourselves.
  • Mobile gaming is great for car rides, as are handheld consoles. Audiobooks are an easy way to catch up, and they really help keep with our routines. Most of us have our daily routines that get messed with during the holidays, and being able to sneak our content digitally whenever we have a few minutes (even if it’s in the bathroom at a relative’s house or in line as you buy last-minute gifts) can help ease stress and give us time to decompress.
  • We discuss working on side projects, and how the holidays give a good boost to our creativity because of the lack of our primary jobs.
  • Void has finished FFXV, and he talks about it in depth It was originally a touchstone topic for Weekly Geekery, but he goes into a full-on review (and we tell you about spoiler zone, too). He discusses why it’s one of his favorite FF games overall, what kind of nits he has to pick with it, and why Chapter 13 is horrible enough that SquareEnix has already announced a patch to make it more bearable.
  • Void discusses how it’s a Final Fantasy game that gives veterans and newbies something to love, and he discusses the combat and open world. It is a very thorough review, and you can see his entry into the Final Fantasy Project here.
  • He talks about the story and how it works, and how the game feels like it spent a decade in develpment hell, but at the same time does a lot of things well and a lot of things haflway and still comes across as a fairly cohesive game. If they do additional content patches, there are lots of places to put in new zones (Beej likens what he wants to Dawnguard for Skyrim) and quests, which would increase both playability and replayability and end-game content.
Holiday present for us… rate and review in iTunes!
  • They help more than you know. Just look for the podcast in iTunes and hit the review tab (yes, like you’re looking for it for the first time, not in your subscriptions.)
Geeky Sponsor / Offer of the Week:
  • Book Recommendation: The Martian. Probably one of the best audiobooks either of us has ever listened to, and it really works as a totally different kind of experience than the movie or even reading it. Check it out for free.
Weekly Geekery

Be sure to subscribe to the Geek to Geek Podcast your favorite podcast app, drop a review so we know how we’re doing, and feel free contact us via email at or @geektogeekcast on Twitter with any comments, questions, or suggestions for the show. Thanks for listening, and we can’t wait to hear from you!
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Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Crown Season 1 Review

The Crown is the latest Netflix Original that my wife and I checked out and we simply love it.  It's a show about Queen Elizabeth and Season 1 is all about her transition to Queen when her father dies.

It deals with British monarchy, has a fantastic cast, and is really good drama.  I don't know how to sell it though.  I'm having a lot of trouble thinking of a way to explain why I like it.

I don't watch a lot of straight up dramas.  I guess this isn't quite that, since it is a historical piece and seems to be historically accurate.  Maybe part of the appeal is being an American and just not having a Monarchy.  It seems so foreign and interesting.

But part of it is just that the cast, setting, and plot are great.

My only complaint is that there's only one season so far!  We finished it and immediately wanted more!

If anything above sounds interesting you should most definitely check it out.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Genius Game

The Genius Game is the best gameshow I've seen in a very very long time.  I hesitated to check it out after reading about it since it's in Korean and you have to read subtitles the whole time but... oh man, I'm so glad I pulled the trigger and watched it.

They take a ton of modern game design and board game design principles, mix them with social situations, and do amazing things with them.  I can't recommend this show highly enough.

The first season is on YouTube:

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Suicide Squad Review

I finally got around to watching Suicide Squad!  It was... alright.

It definitely wasn't good.  But it wasn't horrible either.

I'm glad I've watched it at the very least.

In the end I the only characters I liked were Deadshot and Harley Quinn.  Everyone else felt like they were needlessly cluttering up the movie and wasting my time.

Not to mention the plot was boring, predictable, and pretty dumb.  I mean, I know it's a comic movie and I'm supposed to suspend my disbelief but I had so much trouble doing that for this movie.

If you're into comic book movies you should probably rent or borrow Suicide Squad once just to see it but chances are you'll never need to own it.  If you're not into comic books movies in general then you should definitely skip this one.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Owl Boy Impressions

Owl Boy is a really cool platformer that I ended up putting down.

I mean... it's gorgeous, it sounds great, the music is fantastic, you fly but it still manages to be a platformer, and all around it's a really cool take on platforming games.

But, it gets really hard.  I think I got decently far into it but I finally ran into a wall where I just kept getting destroyed.  I'm generally a good platformer player too, so it was surprising to find how frustrated I got with this.  I don't mind putting it effort when I feel like I'm learning how to play and slowly getting closer to my goal but some of the difficulty in Owl Boy is a huge spike that seems way too hard to overcome.

So, I set this one down.  If I ever want a super difficult platformer I might come back to this, but not in the foreseeable future.  But, I do love a lot of what the developer has done here so I'd love to see what they do with their next game.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Final Fantasy XV Review

I finished Final Fantasy XV already.  I've been home sick so I had a lot of time to blast through this game.  It was really fun and I liked it a lot!

But in a lot of ways Final Fantasy XV is an ambitious mess.  You can see that this game was caught in development hell for a long time.  There are a ton of different ideas thrown together and while some work... some just don't.  Some are super deep and others are barely fleshed out.  There are a lot of questionable decisions in the game design and just little inconsistencies too.  Overall, this game is ambitious and even though it doesn't always succeed at what it sets out to do... at least it tries.

But despite that, I liked this game a lot and I love seeing another mainline Final Fantasy come out!  It feels like this was a game Square Enix needed to get out of their development pipeline so they could finally move on and start on the next one.

Before I go further I should say that even though it's only been out for a few days I did put over 36 hours into the game since I've just been sick at home resting.  I did almost all the sidequests and tons of hunts.  I ended the game in the mid-50s for character levels.

Keep in mind that I like this game, but I really need to get a ton of nitpicks out of my head so how about we do those first:

  • The combat never really clicked with me.
  • This is the first modern open world effort for the studio and it shows.
  • The open world feels pretty empty compared to most modern games we're used to.  It's realistically dense compared to the real world, but that doesn't make for great game design.
  • Sometimes it feels like the worst parts of MMOs and Ubisoft open world games jammed together.
  • The side quests are very uninspired.  Kill X amount of things and find a thing are most of them.
  • Why can we only have one active quest at a time? Let me have more quest markers!
  • The road trip idea is cool but the execution needs work.  There's so much wasted time in the car when nothing happens.
  • There's a huge lack of talk in the car, and you spend so much time in the car.  Why don't they talk to each other more?
  • The camera framing isn't very cinematic in-engine when characters are talking.
  • Lips don't match up a lot of the time.
  • The second half of the main story feels rushed and has a completely different feel than the first half.
  • It seems like second half of the game was planned to be much more and fully realized with lots of open world areas but that didn't happen.
  • Every character not the main party of 4 feels underdeveloped.
  • Chapter 13 is really bad.  It totally breaks the flow of the game.
So those are my major gripes, my nitpicks.  But I really like the game in spite of them.  There are a  ton of good things going on with Final Fantasy XV.

When the four main characters are interacting this game is at it's best.  They feel realized and you definitely grow attached to them throughout the game.  I like the main character relationships a lot!

The main story gets told from their perspective and this game has some truly epic moments during the course of that story.  Almost all my gripes above are from the sidequests, not the main quest.  Not to mention that the story is actually easy to follow.  It's such a huge change from the word-salad that was FFXIII.  Good job getting back to storytelling Square Enix!

The progression system is really good.  It's a great mix of skill trees, experience points, and ability points.  I always had fun progressing and looking at my options for progression.  The side skills that are unique to each character are pretty cool too.  With Prompto's photography, Ignis's cooking, and Gladio's survival the only character who had a unique skill I didn't like was Noctus's fishing minigame.

Camping and sleeping to apply experience and gain levels is inspired.  It makes you take a break and just spend some time with your characters away from battle.  Whoever came up with that deserves a ton of praise.  Plus, Ignis will cook you a stat boosting meal for the next day!

The dungeons in Final Fantasy XV are some of the best I've ever seen in any game.  The sense of presence and atmosphere is amazing.  Every dungeon designer for any future game needs to play through the dungeons in Final Fantasy XV to see what they're stacking up against.

I can't believe I got this far without talking about the music.  You can pick up all the previous Final Fantasy soundtracks to play in the car while you're driving around which is pretty cool.  But even better than that is the Final Fantasy XV soundtrack itself.  It's fantastic and I love the music.  It'll stay with me for a long time.  I would put this soundtrack right near the top of FF soundtracks.

The main feeling I'm left with after beating this game is that I wish it had a New Game Plus mode.  I would love to take my overpowered characters through the game with their current powers while skipping all the side quests and just enjoy the story again.  I think I'll enjoy the game even more the second time around now that I know what I'm in for.

For now, I'm just going to pick away at some of the end-game content and enjoy the world a bit more before setting it down.  But I'm definitely holding out hope for a New Game Plus.

Since this is a mainline single player Final Fantasy game I need to rank it within my existing list.  This one was hard to place but it ended up fairly near the top... in the number three space right between Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy XIII.

Final Fantasy Ranking
  1. IX
  2. X
  3. XV
  4. XIII
  5. VIII
  6. VII
  7. VI
  8. IV
  9. V
  10. XII
  11. II
  12. I
  13. III
Total Completion Time: 36 hours 55 minutes 31 seconds

S1E42 - Pokemon - “It’s just a really cute game, you know?”

Pokemon (plus Pokemon Sun and Moon)
  • Like pretty much everyone else these days, we grew up with Pokemon. And with it being the 20th anniversary of the series, we wanted to talk about the wonderful little pocket monsters and our history with them.
  • For the most part, Void has kept up with the series, playing through each iteration and seeing the changes that have come from Pokemon Red and Blue and Yellow all the way to Pokemon Sun and Moon. Beej, however, has only played Blue and Omega Ruby, so our takes on the series are different, but we both love it.
  • In terms of the games themselves, the generations iterate very slowly, and despite being 20 years later, the games are fundamentally the same. Each generation gives you modern conveniences and quality of life improvements that make the newer games well worth playing if you enjoy the formula.
  • Given the length and popularity of Pokemon over the past 20 years, there have been oodles of pokemon spin off games. One of our favorites was Pokemon Snap, where you travel on rails, competing for taking the best photos of the critters in the jungle. It was a weird concept and totally fun.Most recently, there has been Pokemon Go, and there have been a ton of improvements made lately. We aren’t playing it as much as we were in the beginning, but we certainly are still interested in seeing where it goes.
  • Void really loved the TV show, and he still watches it with his kids. The multi-generational aspect of the anime are really awesome, and it’s great that he gets to share stories about the same characters with them. Somehow, Ash and Pikachu are still the protagonists of the show, despite being revamped multiple times. Beej, on the other hand, never watched the show--he was just a bit out of the age range when it debuted.
  • The Pokemon Trading Card Game was Beej’s favorite, though. In high school, he and his friends were always playing it together. They were big card game people. Void, though, just collected the cards and traded them but rarely played the game. It’s still going, which is cool, and it’s still just as fun.
  • The release of Pokemon Sun and Moon has been really cool. It’s a totally new area that’s based around Pacific Islands, and Void is nearing the end of it (Beej will eventually Gamefly it). There are tons of little UI improvements to make it easier to select things you will use (like pokeballs in battle), and there’s more of a story than ever before in Pokemon Sun and Moon (and Void actually cared a bit!).
  • In both Pokemon Sun and Moon, there are visual indicators of match-ups which tell pokemon types’ strengths and weaknesses, and this is a major improvement for players who don’t have time to memorize the whole pokedex. The ride pokemon replace HMs, and you can call them from anywhere to use their utility abilities without wasting slots in your team. So you can finally have the perfect team you want without worrying about getting stuck out in the world.
  • Pokemon Sun and Moon are not hard, but they may be the most challenging pokemon game yet because of the inclusion of trials instead of gym battles. Overall, they’re Void’s favorite pokemon game.
  • There are rumors of a third game in the Pokemon Sun and Moon series for the Nintendo Switch. Beej would likely wait to play that one if he can afford a Switch when it comes out. He’s a big fan of waiting on Game of the Year-type rereleases anyway.
  • Both of us, though, tend to skip post-game content. Neither of really enjoy filling out our pokedex, and Pokemon Sun and Moon are no different. We go occasionally to kill some time hunting fun pokemon or Legendaries, maybe to hatch an egg or two, but for the most part, we like the stories and the content, but hate the repetitive aspect of post-game content. We are kind of hoping that Pokemon Sun and Moon have extra stuff after the main game, but we doubt it because it’s still Pokemon Red and Blue at heart
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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Throwing in the Towel on Uncharted 4

Uncharted 4 was the only game throughout my latest Gamefly stint that I actually used the "Keep it" button to hold onto.  I had played about 6 hours of it at the time, thought I was probably half way through the campaign, and was having a lot of fun.  I thought I would finish it leisurely since I could keep it for really cheap.

Now I'm something like 15 or 20 hours in and I thought I must be near the end.  But, I looked and I'm only a third of the way through the game.  I can't do another 30-40 hours of this game.  So, I'm throwing in the towel.

I really don't know why games feel like they need to be super long to be worth it.  I love a good short game these days.  They seem to tell a more impactful and less drawn-out story.  Firewatch is still in the running for my game of the year and it clocks in at around 3-4 hours for a full playthrough.

So... even though I had fun with the beginning of Uncharted 4 in the end it was just too long of a game without enough variety to keep in interesting for me.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Blood Mirror Review

The Blood Mirror is the latest (and second to last) book in the Lightbringer series by Brent Weeks.  I've loved this series as a whole and I'm excited to get to the conclusion of that.

With that being said, this book mostly feels like set up.  Where the first three books definitely lead into one another they are still each a solid narrative that has a satisfying ending.  They just have a tease of what's to come next.  The Blood Mirror feels like half a book that just ends.  It's a good half of a book but it doesn't have the typical arc I was expecting.

I kind of wish that I had waited for the last book to come out and then read these last two together.  It seems like that's how they are intended to be.  They're definitely one story split between two books where the earlier ones felt like complete stories told in a series.

I did like the book though.  It made me very excited for the next book and to read the conclusion of the series, whenever that comes out.  I just hope the wait isn't too long.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Dishonored 2 Impressions

Dishonored 2 feels a lot like Dishonored, but just more refined.  And that's not a bad thing at all.  Dishonored was a game I liked playing through but it's also one I never felt strongly enough to revisit after the initial playthrough.

Starting out Dishonored 2 felt like more of the same.  The stealth feels a little bit more meaningful and the new power-set with Emily is interesting.  I played for a few hours and saw what the game had to offer.  But in the end, I'm glad I rented this one instead of buying it.

I'm just not in the right mood for a game like this.  The world is dark, grim, and gritty.  Ultimately, that's what turned me away from it.  I don't want that kind of tone in my media right now.

But, I did make a mental note to come back to this game later.  The next time I want a solid first person stealth game and don't mind a dark tone I'll probably pick this one up for real on PC.  The rented version I played was PS4 and the controls just didn't feel as good as when I played the first game on PC.

Overall, it's a good game but one I'm not in the mood for right now.  But if any of my above description sounds interesting to you then you should pick it up and play it.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Oxenfree Impressions

Oxenfree is an interesting adventure game with cool ideas that doesn't quite stick the landing.

You control a teenager in a group of teenagers who sneak onto an island after it closes for the night to drink and hang out.  Slowly you start to run into creepy but interesting things happening and the plot expands out from there.  It's not a horror game, but it does have some creepy atmospheric stuff going on.

Initially I liked it.  But... then some of the execution started to bug me.  Everything is voice acted but it's really easy to accidentally trigger another whole section of dialogue and miss out on the topic that you were in the middle of.  The game never really explains when you're interrupting or when you're just contributing and it ends up making for frustrating and choppy dialogue.

I got over that and got an hour or two into the game but then it hits a point where it opens up and slows way down.  Now instead of it being obvious where to go to propel the narrative you have to hunt around... which would be fine if your characters weren't so agonizingly slow.

So that's where I ended up leaving it.  All the kids are split up and trapped on an island and forever will be in my mind.  But now I at least know that this developer is doing interesting things and I should watch them in the future.