Monday, October 31, 2016

Link's Awakening

After wrapping up A Link to the Past I fired up Link's Awakening on my 3DS Virtual Console almost immediately.  I was really excited to get into the next game, especially one that I hadn't played since the Game Boy Color days.

And wow, it has not aged well.  I know I beat this game on Game Boy Color when I was a kid but it just doesn't hold up anymore.  The screen sizes are too small for anything super interesting to happen on any one screen.  I know that's a conceit to the Game Boy and Game Boy Color but even later GBC games like the Zelda Oracle games feel better than this.

Not to mention the player messaging.  If it were just the screen size and graphics that make the game feel aged I could deal with it but the killer thing for me is the horrible player messaging.  It's super difficult to know where to go next or what to do next.  It completely killed my momentum and generally made me want to be playing anything else.

So, I'm going to set this one aside and move on.  Yay for doing a "lite" Zelda series playthrough instead of a completionist one!  This is exactly the type of reason I decided to do this version of the run.

Link's Awakening was great at the time it came out and I'll hold it in a happy place in my memory with full nostalgia goggles one.  But, it's not a game I ever need to revisit again.

Here are how the current standings shake out:
  1.  A Link to the Past (1991) 
  2.  The Legend of Zelda (1987)
  3.  Link's Awakening (1993)
  4.  Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1988)

Sunday, October 30, 2016

World of Warships

I've been playing a bunch of World of Warships lately and having a really good time with it.  I didn't think it would be a game for me but my brother convinced me to try it and I'm glad he did.

Instead of being a game about fast twitch reflexes, World of Warships is about positioning, strategy, and skill.  It does take effort and skill to aim and fire but it's nothing like a FPS in terms of twitchiness.

I loved shooting up the first few ranks and unlocking ships along the way.  Each ship feels distinct in a number of ways and I find myself jumping between different types of ships a lot just to change up the feel of the game.

This is one of the better free to play games I've played in years.  I can feel my progression slowing down a bit now that I'm around tier IV and V for ships, but I've still felt no pressure to pay.  And even though my progress has slowed down I'm still playing fairly consistently.

Mostly I just wanted to get this game on more people's radar.  If any of it sounds interesting to you then you should definitely try it.  It's free and you can play it right now.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Ahsoka Review

The latest Star Wars novel, Ahsoka, came out in mid-October and I finished it in two days.  I always love picking up the newest Star Wars book and it's been really fun keeping up with all of the new canon since Disney pushed the giant reset button on the universe.

Ahsoka was an ok book.  It didn't blow me away with awesomeness but it wasn't bad either.  It will definitely be for some people and not for others.

To me, it felt like a long story arc from one of the TV shows, Clone Wars or Rebels, that has been moved over into novel format.  It bridges the gap between those two shows and reveals what happens to Ahsoka during that time period.  For that, I love it, just because I always want to expand my Star Wars lore.

But, I feel like it would have been better in show format.  I could easier see this as a bonus story arc in either of the shows.  It's probably a consequence of the main character being a unique character to Clone Wars and Rebels and not being anywhere else in the Star Wars universe.

With all that said, if you're a fan of either the Clone Wars show or the Rebels show and you like Ahsoka herself as a character then there's definitely something for you in this book.  If you don't fit into that group this novel will still give you more information about the formation of the rebellion, which is cool, but it might not resonate with you in terms of character.

I'm really glad I read this book once but I won't be recommending it to a ton of people.  Based on what I've already told you, you probably know if it's for you or not.

Friday, October 28, 2016

S1E37 - The Nintendo Switch Revealed - “What do you stall for?”

The Nintendo Switch Revealed
In this episode:
  • The Nintendo Switch is unveiled! And being the Nintendo fans we are, there was just no way that we could go a week without talking about it.
  • Here’s what we know so far: It’s a handheld system AND a home console with detachable controllers that you can use in different configurations. They’re called JoyCons, but there’s also a Pro Controller available. There is also a spacer-thingy that connects the JoyCons into an almost-Pro Controller. You can also use the JoyCons double-handed like a Wii Nunchuck.
  • There’s a kickstand on the main screen and a 3.5mm headphone port! It’s HD and cartridge based.
  • We saw lots of games for it including a new 3D Mario game, a Mario Kart, some kind of basketball game (that neither of us know about, but y’all might), Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Splatoon, and Skyrim.
  • And then we go into geeky-speculation mode, which is always fun. We talk expandable storage (because Void does all his games digitally), is there a touch screen (and do we want one?), how long is the battery life, and just how useful is the console dock? Do we get a charging cable?
  • What about release day? Is this a day 1 purchase? Well, that depends on the price. If it’s a high-dollar console, Nintendo may be in murky water. If it’s under $250, there’s a huge chance we’ll buy it early.
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Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Order 1886

The Order 1886 was super heavily marketed by Sony before it's release and then highly criticized after.  I thought it was time to check it out with my Gamefly subscription.

The first thing I noticed about The Order 1886 is that it's highly cinematic.  It looks really good, has a style, and executes on that style.  It's a very cinematic game and the tech behind it must be impressive.  But, after that, everything else started to let me down.

The controls are clunky and don't feel nice to use.  It's kind of vaguely like Gears of War in gameplay except not interesting at all.  It feels like a mediocre third person shooter that's not trying to do anything new except look pretty.

And while the graphics are good at setting the scene... that scene just didn't appeal to me.  This is more of a personal preference than anything else but victorian London isn't usually a setting I enjoy.  Every once in awhile, but not usually.  Even though it's an alternate history version it still has that same feeling.

The characters and story aren't established very well and even though I played a few hours of the game I had no idea what was going on besides the fact that we have a knights of the round table vibe for the main characters.

All of this to say, I sent the game back pretty fast.  This game is a good showcase of the kind of visuals the PS4 can achieve but beyond that it's mediocre in many ways.

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.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Zelda Project

I've been kicking this around in my head for awhile and I think it's finally time to pull the trigger.  I'm going to work my way through the Legend of Zelda series and write up posts as I go.

This is obviously based on my Final Fantasy project where I played every mainline game all the way through and wrote up impressions and reviews along the way.

I'm not doing anything that in-depth this time.  There are some Zelda games I've barely touched and some I've beaten many times and just don't feel like going through the motions again.  There are also a few entries in the series that I just flat-out don't like.  So this is a lite version of what I did for Final Fantasy.

I'm at least going to sample each game and play it for awhile.  I already know there are a few that I will bounce off of pretty quick.  But, there are also some that I never truly gave enough time to and I hope that some of those end up hooking me to the point where I play them through entirely.

I also have some favorites from the series that I'm really excited to go back and play again.  This gives me a good excuse.

I anticipate the first few will be very quick samples and posts but after I reach A Link to the Past I'm going to dig deeper.

Just for the record, before I start, I should let you know that my favorite Zelda games to date are Wind Waker (especially the HD remaster) and A Link Between Worlds.  I'm interested to see if those opinions hold up as I work my way through the series chronologically.

Before I start, I'm curious... what are your favorite and least favorite Zelda games?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Force Grey: Giant Hunters

I've been watching and listening to a lot of live play D&D campaigns lately.  While my favorite are still The Adventure Zone podcast and Acquisitions Incorporated live games I branched out and checked out Force Grey: Giant Hunters.

And you know what?  It was pretty good, and worth my time to watch through at least once.  And it's free on YouTube which is always nice.

The DM is fantastic although a few of the players are kinda annoying.  If a few of the players were switched out it would take this production from pretty good to great.

It's also obvious that since this was partially funded or supported by Wizards of the Coast (the makers of D&D) this show actually ties into some of the story hooks from Storm King's Thunder.  I think that's really cool.

Anyway, I recommend you give it a shot.  They're edited down to 20-30 minute episodes instead of being massive multi-hour productions like a lot of live play games.  At least check out the first episode.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Storm King's Thunder

I recently picked up Storm King's Thunder and read through the adventure.  Although I've checked out a few D&D adventures before and found them interesting I haven't wanted to really run any of the those.  This is the first one that has a premise I think is super cool.

Basically, without giving real spoilers, giants are running amok and the players get sucked into what's happening.  They have to figure it out and I love the twists and turns that happen along the way.  I already know how I would modify and streamline it if I were to be the DM to run it... but the core of the adventure is very interesting.

I especially love that there are a few key paths you can take the story down that are fully fleshed out.

Overall, if I ever do pull the trigger on getting a D&D group together and I don't feel up to trying out a homebrew campaign I would definitely want to run Storm King's Thunder.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Rise of the Tomb Raider Impressions

Rise of the Tomb Raider is the latest Gamefly game I sampled and I actually liked parts of it a lot.  I definitely enjoyed it more than the first game in this reboot of the series.

The first few hours of the game are full of action and adventure interlaced with story.  I loved the time I was spending with it.  But after the first couple hours I hit the main chunk of the game and suddenly they reintroduced the gathering/crafting/survival mechanics from the first game in the series... and then I lost all the steam I had built up for it.

The gathering in particular changed the way I played the game.  Now, instead of just pushing forward and enjoying the ride I had to constantly stop and search every corner.  I had to wait for my special survival vision to recharge and then activate it as often as I could so I didn't miss anything critical to advancing my character and gear.

I hate that advancement was suddenly tied to gathering in such a tight way.  I especially hate it because the fun game I was enjoying was still there underneath it but now there was a level of busywork on top of it that I didn't want to put up with.

I tried to push forward anyway but got fed up around the 5 hour mark.  If you don't mind gathering/crafting/survival mechanics in the middle of your action/adventure game then I bet you would love Rise of the Tomb Raider.  If not, it's probably better to steer clear of it.

Friday, October 14, 2016

S1E35 - The Legend of Zelda - “As much as I like saying the words Monkey Dungeon”

The Legend of Zelda
  • The Legend of Zelda is one of Nintendo’s flagship series, but surprisingly, it’s one of the few that actually does a lot better in the West than it does in Japan. Many may not realize the series was created by Miyamoto, the same genius who created Mario, though Aonuma has been in charge of the series since his major success with Ocarina of Time in 1998.
  • Generally, we’ve played them all. Beej has only missed 3 of them, and they’re on purpose. Void has just completed a lite playthrough of the whole series, in which he ranked them all for current playability, rather than nostalgia.
  • Do you guys remember the animated series? Beej sure does!
  • We discuss the difference in 2D and 3D Zelda games, which kind of feel like two separate series of games, but with the same base mechanics.
  • Zelda games! We don’t go in-depth for every one (because some just aren’t worth the time, honestly), but we do discuss our favorites, our memories, and just why some of them stand up for 20+ years, while others can’t even stay a few years.
  • Have you folks ever completed a Zelda game 100%? WE HAVE! The only one Void is sure he has ever 100%’d was Majora’s Mask, while the only game Beej has fully completed is Ocarina of Time.
  • Void’s rankings will be on his blog soon enough, but we discuss his top 5. (Hint, they’re probably not what you’re thinking they are.)
  • We talk about the things we love and the things we loathe about Zelda games. For instance, we are super tired of the long, tedius intro villages in 3D Zelda games. Just stop, Nintendo. Just stop. However, we truly love the puzzles and non-linear worlds that we can explore. We are super excited for Breath of the Wild because from the released footage so far, it seems like they’ve read our minds and are making the perfect Zelda game for the Geek to Geek guys.
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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Harry Potter Novellas

It kinda released under the radar but three new Harry Potter novella came out digitally about a month ago.  I read them all and enjoyed them a lot.

They weren't full fledged stories but instead little vignettes about various events and people in the world of Harry Potter.  It helped flesh out a bunch of the characters that are key to the series.  I especially liked the sections about different subjects of magic and how they work in the world.  Things like getting all the details about what it takes to become and Animagus or finding out more about potion making were really cool.

I've read some of the other short tie-in books before but these were much better.  I can easily recommend them to any fan of the series.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Rachet and Clank Impressions

Keeping the Gamefly train going, I tried out Rachet and Clank after hearing a bunch of positive things about it.

I found it to be a highly polished and pretty... mediocre platformer/action game.  It felt like a PS2 game which I suppose makes sense since it's kinda a revamp and remaster of the first game from around that era.

I feel like this is would be a really fun game for people with an attachment to the series but since I don't have that I bounced off of it fairly quick.  But seriously, if you're into the series and haven't checked this one out you probably should.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Just Cause 3 Impressions

Just Cause 3 is another Gamefly trial game for me.  I kinda liked it... somewhat.

See, the core gameplay loop of moment to moment traversal and exploding things is actually super fun.  I had a great time on the island where you play around while the game installs.  I had fun doing some of the open world as soon as I got control of my character in the main story part of the game.

But then I hit a wall where I couldn't really play around any more until I did some story missions.  Those were a complete drag.  They didn't have an interesting narrative and they definitely didn't have as fun gameplay as just messing around.

If there was a mode with infinite ammo and the entire world opened up for playing around in I might have actually used the keep it button and bought this one from Gamefly.  But as things were the story just got in the way of my fun.

Monday, October 10, 2016

God of War 3 Remastered Impressions

God of War 3 Remastered was another Gamefly game that came and went pretty fast.  I remember loving the first two God of War games but I was a teenager at the time.  I thought the over the top hack and slash gory action was awesome.

Coming back and trying to play God of War 3 as an adult... I find it much less interesting.  It's basically the same gameplay as it was before with the same old hack and slash formula.  It's not pushing any barriers or doing anything new.  It actually feels old and dated compared to more responsive modern hack and slash games.

The story picked up right where God of War 2 left off but after so many years away from it I just couldn't find any interest anymore.

It quickly became obvious that this one wasn't going to stick and I'm better off just waiting for the reboot coming for the series on PS4 soon.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Attack on Titan

Despite trying to get into a bunch of anime shows over the years I had never actually finished a full season of an anime until last week.

A friend who knows my tastes really well recommended Attack on Titan (mostly for the pacing) and I ended up really liking it.  Although there were a few slow parts and I could see almost every plot twist coming from a mile away I still had fun watching.

The premise is that humans live inside sets of walls and walls within walls to protect themselves from Titans.  Titans are giants that seem to only have one purpose... eating people.  So, humanity has lived safely within these walls for years but Attack on Titan kicks off with an attack on the walls that's successful.  Titans stream in and start killing people.

The series continues from there and gets interesting once the main characters have a bit of a time jump and join the military to fight back.

The action scenes were a lot of fun and actually had lots of movement.  That's been one of my criticisms of so much anime I've tried, it's just still pictures while characters waste time.  Attack on Titan felt much more fluid and visceral than that.

My main complaint is that nothing is actually answered in the end.  It just stops but without wrapping up most of the loose threads.  Everything is left basically unanswered and it feels like it needs an immediate follow up season of the show.  From what I understand, there will be one eventually but it's already been years and it's no where in sight.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Trying RPGs Lately

I've been trying tons of Gamefly games lately and writing about them.  I intend to keep do so, but I just had a run of RPGs show up from Gamefly that just didn't click with me at all.

Oh, by the way, we set up a Gamefly offer for listeners/readers to get you a free trial if you're interested.  I still love the service so if it's intrigued you at all while I've been talking and writing about it for the last month or so go check it out.

But anyway I'm realizing it takes a lot for an RPG to impress me these days.  One has to grab me with it's setting, story, characters, battle, and progression systems.  It has to do it quickly too.

The amount of RPGs without "Final Fantasy" in the title that have held my attention over the past few years is slim.  Persona 4 Golden is the most notable exception, followed by Bioware games, and then games like Bravely Default which might as well be called Final Fantasy.

I keep hoping something else will break through but I'm finding I lack the patience for any other RPG I try.  They all feel so samey.  Or so generic.  Or so uninspired.

I don't know exactly why I'm writing this.  Partially to vent.  Partially maybe I'm looking for recommendations?  Honestly, maybe I'm just waiting for Final Fantasy XV, Persona 5, and Mass Effect Andromeda.  Those are the next three RPGs I'm super excited about.

What RPGs have you guys played lately that you've loved?

Friday, October 7, 2016

S1E34 - Horror - “And then BAM! A cat jumps out of a cabinet!”

In this episode:
  • It’s October! And you know what that means? That’s right, geeks...HORROR! You see,Void thinks horror is dumb and boring. Beej thinks it’s awesome. Is the Beejmeister going to be able to convince the Voidenator that horror is worth his time?
  • Beej taught a horror literature class for English majors a few years back, and he had a wonderful experience with horror in college because all of his friends loved it. So where he’s coming is different from where some fans are coming from.
  • A lot of horror hits on cultural and societal fears, far more than personal. We can trace the entire 20th century’s outlook based on what horror media was being produced.
  • Rarely does horror exist on its i.e. because of its nature. If the intent is to bring people a primal realization of a cultural or societal fear so they can deal with it, that’s not a genre. What you probably think of as “horror” is technically “gothic romance”
  • Emotional connection to events. To situations. Not characters so much. The blank-slate the characters tend to be written that way purposefully, which is why they’re archetypes. But you do have lots of writers, however, that tend to focus on people more than the “hook” of whatever horror element they are writing, which is why Stephen King and his son, Joe Hill, are so successful. It’s why The Walking Dead is so successful. The Walking Dead, for instance, is an ensemble survival drama that happens to have Zombies. Much like Battlestar Galactica is a military drama that happens to be in space, but we are horrified by the events that occur.
  • Different kinds of horror: Physical and Psychological. Stephen King has 3 criteria: Horror, terror, gross-out
  • We use horror as a way to achieve catharsis: We watch this stuff so we don't have to do it ourselves.
  • Beej loves slashers and horror comedies. Friday the 13th, Sleepaway Camp, My Bloody Valentine 3D, Santa’s Slay.
  • Books like Duma Key and It by Stephen King. Heart-shaped Box by Joe Hill. Even Odd Thomas and Phantoms by Dean Koontz are good places to start.
  • The Secret World is the best horror game out there right now (to Beej, at least) because it really grabs a lot of the worldwide horror elements and does them justice. It even grabs Eastern horror and does them well, which is hard to do in America. Other games are obvious like Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Fatal Frame, and Until Dawn.
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Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Uncharted Collection Impressions

Uncharted is a game series I've always wanted to like but every time I tried it I found it feeling extremely generic.  But, I had only played it in demo form or in passing at friends' houses.  I thought that with my Gamefly sampling it would be a good chance to actually try to dig into the series.

The Uncharted Collection has the first three games in the series in it, so I started with the first and quickly found that it hadn't aged very well.  I moved on to Uncharted 2 and loved the way it started.  Finding the protagonist hanging off the edge of a cliff on a train was awesome and I loved the sequence that followed.  Unfortunately it then jumped back in time and quickly became another generic feeling game (especially once you hit the jungle).  I followed a similar path with Uncharted 3 and then promptly returned the game.

Overall, I played roughly the first 15-20% of each of the games.  When the story is moving forward and the set pieces are cool I had a really good time.  But all the time in between seems like filler.  The combat is lackluster and doesn't have any punch.  The platforming feels slow, outdated, and clunky.  And the environments often fall back on old tropes.

I bet there's a game in here that is about 1/6th the total length (with all the filler cut out) that I would love to play through in one night.  But, that's not what this series is.  At least now I know it's really not for me.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


Kingsglaive is the tie in movie for FFXV.  I gave it a shot and found it to actually be the best Final Fantasy movie so far.

But, with that said, it's not actually a high bar to clear.  Advent Children and Spirits Within were both very meh.

This ties in directly with Final Fantasy XV and it gave some really good context for what is happening offscreen during the early events of the game.  It is kind of weird that it's out so much earlier than the game itself but I suppose they're just trying to generate as much hype as possible before the launch of the main product.

It's definitely not required watching to play the game but I was super happy with the added context I got from it.  I'm now much more interested in the magic system and political happenings in the world of Final Fantasy XV.

I don't want to spoil the story for anyone but if you're a Final Fantasy fan or plan on playing Final Fantasy XV I would recommend watching this movie at least once.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Persona 4 Dancing All Night Impressions

Persona 4 Dancing All Night is the latest entry in games I'm sampling via Gamefly.  It's basically turning into my Autumn of Gamefly around here.

It's a rhythm game set in the same world as Persona 4 with the same characters.  Persona 4 Golden is now one of my favorite games ever so I really just wanted to see what this had to offer.

It turns out it has a whole new story and some decent rhythm gameplay.  Symbols fly at the edges of the screen and you hit buttons in time with the music.  It works well enough and Persona 4 has great music to draw from.  My only nitpick with it is that the visuals on screen are so busy that it's often hard to see the notes coming.  I adapted to it fairly quickly but it still threw me off occasionally.

I played it for a day or two but the reason I ultimately sent it back is because the story failed to engage me.  It's about idol culture in Japan (pop star idols) and an upcoming concert.  It turns out that topic doesn't interest me at all... which actually bodes ill for when I try out Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE which is supposed to be a blend of Shin Megami Tensai and Fire Emblem in a Japanese idol setting.

Anyway, it was fun as a straight up rhythm game for a few days.  If the story hooks sound interesting to you and you're already a Persona 4 fan then definitely pick it up.  As for me, it's been sent back to Gamefly.  Gotta keep the game samples coming.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Bravely Second Impressions

Bravely Second was the last game in my gaming backlog.  I picked it up for a trip a few month ago and just never got around to playing it.  Now I have!

I have to say, the underlying systems in this game are great.  Everything I loved about Bravely Default is here and most of it has actually been improved upon.  The old systems have been tweaked in good ways and the new systems just add to the game.  I love everything they're doing from a mechanics standpoint.

But... after five or six hours with Bravely Second the story still failed to grab me.  It's set in the same world with a bunch of the same characters and I think that's a major stumbling point.  They all had a complete story arc and now they feel shoehorned into another adventure.  The new characters interact with the old characters and I just fail to care.  Maybe if I buckled down and pushed on further it would change.

For now I just need to set this game down and know I'll come back to it when I'm ready.  It'll be waiting for me on my 3DS.  I'll most likely give it another shot next time I travel.  It'll eventually be the correct time for this game in my life, but now isn't that time.

Honestly, I wish they had just taken the mechanics and transplanted them into a completely new setting.  I feel like the story could have grabbed my attention if it wasn't burdened with being set in the same world and adding on to another (already complete) story.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Dark Souls 3

Dark Souls 3 was another Gamefly game I checked out recently.  It's actually the most approachable game in this subgenre I've tried so far.  In the past I tried Dark Souls and Bloodborne but never got too far into either one because the difficulty just wasn't fun for me.  I like making progress in my games.

But Dark Souls 3 was actually much more approachable than either of these.  The tutorial was quick and in-game.  I felt like I understood the basics in the first five minutes.  I had enough control to not die at all in the hour or so that I played.  I even beat the first boss on the first try!

So, I thought maybe this would be my first true on-boarding into the series!  But alas, bad player messaging got in the way.  What I mean by that is that I actually couldn't figure out where to go next.  I felt like I explored every nook and cranny while killing all the enemies but the path forward was unclear.  It was super frustrating because I was on a roll with the combat.  It was actually pretty fun.

But unclear messaging like that so early in the game is just a taste of design philosophies that are probably throughout the rest of the game.  So I was done.  Total play time around 1 hour.  Zero deaths.  Stopped out of boredom from not being able to progress forward.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Luke Cage (non-spoilery) Review

Luke Cage is good!  If you're on the fence about trying it out, you really should.  It might not be for everyone, but I think it's a great addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Luke Cage is all about Harlem, coming to terms with your past, community, and culture.  It's also about street level superheroes and gang warfare.

Just as much as Jessica Jones or Daredevil, Luke Cage is about it's villains.  They get at least equal screen time to the main hero cast of characters.  This character development on both sides makes confrontations and payoffs feel like they have true weight.

Overall, Luke Cage has just made me even more excited for Iron Fist and The Defenders.  I can't wait to see all these New York street heroes come together to form a rag-tag team.  There are some nods to this in the story, especially with a recurring crossover character from the other Netflix MCU shows.

I still think Jessica Jones is the best season of TV Marvel has done but Luke Cage is easily above Season 1 of Daredevil.  Personally, I would rank them from "worst" (worst in context but actually still good) to best Daredevil Season 1, Luke Cage, Daredevil Season 2, Jessica Jones.  But that's just me.  I can also easily see Luke Cage being someone's favorite out of this corner of the MCU.

As always, your mileage may vary, but I think it's definitely worth your time to give Luke Cage a shot.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Impressions

My latest Gamefly game was Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE.  If you haven't heard of it I'm not too surprised.  It's a Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensai (SMT) crossover game that's exclusive to Wii U and the localization is text only so all the voices are still in Japanese.  Talk about having a narrow niche for your game.

I found that I loved Persona last year, which is also a spin off of the SMT series, and I've really enjoyed the last few Fire Emblem games so I thought there might be something here for me.

And I did!  Kind of.

The core gameplay mechanics are really solid.  I was having fun with the combat, progression, dungeons, and little touches like the texting mechanic in the game.  I loved the style of the game, very bright and with colors that pop.  It has a cool style to it.  And the fact that it's definitely based in some anime influences didn't bug me too much either.  It's kind of quirky.

A minor complaint, which isn't even very fair, is that I'd have preferred it on some kind of handheld system.  I feel like it would have been a better fit on Vita or 3DS.  But that's just my preference.

My big issue with the get is just the setting.  Just like Persona 4 Dancing All Night this game is all about idol culture in Japan.  It's about becoming a pop star through an agency, fame, and performance skill.  And while they tie this into the gameplay in super clever ways... I'm just not a fan of the setting at all.  Which is ultimately why I decided to send it back to Gamefly and keep this constant demo rotation going.

Not to mention that sometimes the camera placement in oddly sexual.  Now, I have no problem with sex in games, movies, or tv when it fits with the story they're telling.  But this just doesn't fit at all.  The characters will be in the middle of a random conversation and the camera will just stop on a girl's chest.  Things like that totally break my immersion in the game and just feel icky and awkward.  Please, if you're going to include sex in your games make it actually fit.  If you shoehorn it in like this it's just gross.

Anyway, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE does enough interesting things that I really dug into it before sending it back.  It actually has me interested to see if I'd like the SMT main series now.  I think I'm going to have to try out the latest entry soon.  In fact, I'll add it to my Gamefly queue right now.