Friday, January 29, 2016

DLC < amiibos < DLC

About two weeks ago I read an article over on Eurogamer that made a little concerned for an aspect of the future that I am not actively a part of.  It's about Nintendo's amiibo figurines.  Up until now, or the now that was two weeks ago, I had mentally put amiibos in a category of physical objects that could interact with specific video games to bring about some type of cosmetic change.  I knew that these figurines were designed with the Wii U in mind and that the New 3DS had an amiibo reader in the handset, but before writing this article, I didn't know that there was a separate reader that could be connected to the standard 3DS.

Oddly enough, now knowing that I had a system that was compatible with these little figures made them somewhat desirable.  But then knowing that the figures only work with certain games came back to the forefront and the game where they have the most effect is Super Smash Bros. which is a game that I've found that I don't really like.

The point of today, is that the use of an amiibo, granted that the Wolf Link amiibo being the one in question, is that it's currently being packaged in a bundle with the HD release of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess will allow access to an otherwise inaccessible dungeon created for this re-release.  Presumably this amiibo bundle will not be the only way to buy the Wolf Link Amibo, but what I've found disturbing is linking (no, not intentional) the ability to access features that are already in the game is limited to people who have this particular figurine.  That does not sit well with me.

Now, most amiibos that are in production sell for about $12-20, but there are a handful over on eBay that are upwards of $70, but surprisingly, at least for me, most range between $10-20.  Will that new exclusive dungeon be worth that $12-20 price tag, which what it amounts to is a $12-20 DLC that comes with a free figurine.  Although I assume that Nintendo might offer the dungeon as a paid DLC that doesn't require the use of the Wolf Link amiibo

What my fear is, is that the HD Twilight Princess bundle will be a limited run thing, and then you will have to buy the Wolf Link amiibo like a normal person and I just hope that there isn't a run on Wolf Link, otherwise that price is going to jump due to people buying places out of their stock and then scalping them like Iggy Koopa looking for his next fix.

And after some additional reading, I see that something similar will be happening with the upcoming Mega Man Legacy Collection, when you "Use the original Mega Man amiibo™ or new gold Mega Man amiibo™ to unlock 11 Nintendo 3DS exclusive challenges."  Sigh.  I guess I'm just/still an old curmudgeon stuck in his ways of viewing and playing video games.

Although this does remind me of the hubbub from a while back about physical game discs that require an additional DLC-type purchase in order to access the content that is already on the physical disc.  But at least in the case of Super Smash Bros., Nintendo was smart about not allowing the use of amiibos when players fight each other online as that would lead them into the dreaded pit of Paid-2-Win.

But you know what?  In the end, I think I'm okay with some of the uses of amiibos.  Cosmetic changes in games?  Sure.  In-game buffs that aren't compatible with online play?  Yeah, okay.  Show the locations of hidden items?  Why not!  What I'm not okay with is making exclusive content accessible only to people who have a particular amiibo, especially if amiibos have a limited run and don't forever come packaged with the game.  Their use for Mario Maker is perfect.

Yeah, I'm a curmudgeon.  No doubt about it.  

I'm going to go play with my abacus now.  Psshhh.  Calculators.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

MIDI Week Singles: "One Final Tight Spot" - Cthulhu Saves the World (PC)

"One Final Tight Spot" from Cthulhu Saves the World on the PC
Composer: Gordon McNeil
Album: Cthulhu Saves the World OST
Record Label: Self Released
Developer: Zeboyd Games

As is the case with a couple of the games we've used for our weekly column, I have yet to play Cthulhu Saves the World, although Dr. Potts has played it and in fact he was the one that recommended to me not only this game, but Breath of Death VII a number of years ago.  And yet, I still haven't played this game in particular, most likely due to the long-afore-mentioned CPS (Christmas Present Syndrome).

But I have listened to the music a bit and as was the case with last weeks MIDI Week Single, I immediately loved this song the first time I heard it.  It's just a great rollicking tune that sounds heroic and adventuresome at the same time; which is the feeling that you want a fanfare-type song to instill in the listener.  Add to that the fact that this song comes late in the soundtrack (so late it's the final track), I get the feeling of one final hurrah.

If this track at all gave you even the slightest of feels, the entire soundtrack is free over on Zeboyd's webpage so go give this fun indie developer a visit and check out the rest of their games while listening to Gordon Mc(NotFreeman)Neil's exciting score.

Mr. Show!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Board Game Review: Monty Python Flux

Fluxx is a chaotic card game that is available in many different themes, but is at its core, the same game from set to set. Jane and I have had fun playing it with two players, however, we recently had a chance to play this game with more than just the two of us, and it was really fun!  Games take between 5 and 20 minutes, and is easy to learn, and too random to master.  

To give you an idea of the variance it his game, we played one game where one of us almost won on the second turn, only for the game to ultimately go several more turns until finally all 3 of us won simultaneously.  Within the course of a game of Fluxx, all of the rules will change, radically, and you will have to adapt your strategy from turn to turn.  This is true of all versions of Fluxx, but, since ours is the Monty Python version, the cards all have a Monty Python flavor. Highlights of Monty Python jokes include:  

  • "Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, know what I mean?"    
draw a card if you know what is meant.
  • "My Brain Hurts!"
remove any rules on the board that make your brain hurt
  • "1, 2, 5!"  
all number 3s on the board are now replaced with 5s.

While not essential to get all the jokes, the game is more fun if you do.  And there is some advantage to having an exhaustive Monty Python vocabulary, as cards will ask you to repeat lines from sketches or sing a few bars of (Monty Python) songs. The references are primarily from Holy Grail, but they range across Flying Circus and the other movies.  

I would recommend Fluxx of any variety to anyone who wants an easy to pick-up, silly card game for 2 or more players.



Wednesday, January 20, 2016

MIDI Week Single: "Nightmare King Battle" - Little Nemo: The Dream Master

"Nightmare King Battle" from Little Nemo: The Dream Master on the Nintendo Entertainment System (1990)
Composer: Junko Tamiya (Gonzuo)
Album: No Official Release
Game Developer: Capcom

Never having gotten past the second stage in Little Nemo: The Dream Master when I played in in the early '90's, this was a song that I was unfamiliar with until it popped up earlier in the week.  I think I was just a little taken aback by the tenacity of this track and what it was trying to convey that I be a part of.

What I like about this being not only boss battle music, but apparently the final boss music is that it's exciting, energizing and another adjective that starts with "E" that I cannot think of at the moment.  Compared with the rest of the music in the game, especially the standard battle music, which to me sounds a lot more spastic.  "Nightmare King Battle" actually makes you want to get in there and fight the Nightmare King. . .because he's a bad guy who is ruining dreams?  Like I said, I haven't beaten the game and without looking at the Wikipedia page, I can only assume that if you don't stop the Nightmare King, he will cause everyone to have nightmares forever.

The point though, is that this track surprised me by how much I liked it and that it completely ignores any nostalgic factor since I had never heard this track when I first played the game 20+ years ago.  I've said it before here, but that is what good video game music should do, make you excited the first time you hear it without having any nostalgia associated with it.  And for me, that's exactly what "Nightmare King Battle" did.

It Comes From You

Monday, January 18, 2016

Return to the Mists: Ravenloft

Earlier last week, Wizards of the Coast teased a number of sites with an image of a woman, drawn in what looked like charcoal, or a heavy black pencil, with a two droplets of blood on her collarbone with a set of drapes that conspicuously looked a lot like fangs.  Or you could just head over to The Escapist to take a look at the picture there.  The title of the picture was "Innocence" along with the caption (if you're not clicking over), "Innocence is the most delicate gift. To protect it is the highest of virtues. To recognize it within oneself is salvation."  Based on the style of art, the title and the caption, myself along with a bunch of others concluded that the new adventure that Wizards of the Coast was going to be releasing in March was going to be Ravenloft based.  Others thought that the single circular ornament above the curtains along with the fang shape hinted at something Beholder related.

In a press release today, Wizards of the Coast announced that their new adventure, which will be released on March 15th of this year will indeed be Ravenloft related and be entitled "Curse of Strahd."  

To say that I am excited about this release is just a bit of an understatement.  Ravenloft was the 2nd Edition AD&D campaign setting that I was attached to.  Both the adaptations of stories that I was finding myself interested in as well as the artwork were a huge draw for me.  Additionally the fact that the Mists are capable of reaching into any campaign setting to pluck whomever they want and bring them into their own world/setting created a great sense of power for the DM, which I was in full swing in at the time.  I also found that the novelizations of the Demiplane of Dread were great to read and I never felt like stories were being dumbed down for a young adult audience; even though I do not recall there being any use of offensive language, although sex was briefly mentioned and there was plenty of blood and ichor throughout many of the stories.  

"Van Richten's Guide to the Created" was the first Ravenloft product I owned, a birthday present from my parents if I remember correctly and not really knowing that it was only a source book and not an adventure, I read through that thing like it was a legitimate novel that happened to be filled with information about Dungeons & Dragons.

I realize that I am going off on a bit of a semi-tangent, but really, it's all because I'm exceedingly excited about Ravenloft.

Oh!  And to top it all off, the writers of this adventure/quest/module. . .thing, collaborated with Tracy and Laura Hickman, the creators of the first Ravenloft adventure back in 1983.  There has also been mention of the Vistani's [Barovia's (the fictional land Strahd comes from based somewhat off of Transylvania and Romania) equivalent of Gypsies] use of the Tarroka deck (the setting's own version of a tarot deck) and I am very excited that one will be included* as I loved the Tarroka deck that was included with the original Ravenloft campaign setting and the Forbidden Lore campaign expansion.  I am loving how Wizards of the Coast is treating the 5th edition of Dungeons & Dragons and this recent move only brings me deeper into their depths.  I welcome the Mists.


*Edit: After reading a number of releases, it appears that the Tarroka  deck will be a stand alone purchase from Gale Force 9, who've made a number of 5th Edition D&D products, but my fear is that like a lot of the miniatures they've made for various story lines (Elemental Evil, Tyranny of Dragons, Demons of the Abyss), there will only be a limited number printed; they only made 1,500 of specific miniatures for the above mentioned story lines.  But Gale Force 9 also made the Firefly game which I've recently heard some good things about, so here's to hoping that the Tarroka decks they print won't be an exorbitant amount of money, or I might just be forced to use my older Tarroka decks that I mentioned earlier in the article.

P.S.  I shall leave you all with the tentative cover art for the book when it is released in just under two months:

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Link Dump: Indie games and Twitter

One of my favorite things about twitter has been a lot of the cool-looking indie games that show up in my feed.  I have three favorite twitter people that I follow, and I'm going to share them with you here.

Screenshot daily  
This person compiles a series of large-sized animated gifs for indie games.  They range from really cool to downright gorgeous.  Excellent taste, good design.  I think it really shows how nice animated gifs are for showing off video games.  Just a couple seconds of movement can really show a lot.  I especially love images with background details like falling leaves or swirling smoke.


Next is voidfox.  This person always has a neat pixel art twitter avatar, and has a strong love of pixel art in general.  He (?) has a love for bullet hell shooters, and mechs and explosions.  I've seen a ton of great looking stuff after following his feed.


I couldn't resist this image

Pixel Prospector
I've actually linked to this website before (years ago) but I have since discovered it on twitter.  Really nice mix of mostly retro indie game styles.  Even if I never play 1/10 of these games, it's just nice to see them. 


Following any of these poeple on twitter or visiting their wesitese will lead you to many great indie games.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Fantasy Football Was Not What I Expected

Before the reading gets under way, I would like to preemptively apologize for how jumbled and somewhat disjointed today's article is.  My thoughts are kind of all over the place, even though I tried to have my words put down in an organized manner.  With all of that in mind, enjoy.

I played fantasy football this last 2015 NFL football season.  Conklederp and myself were recruited into a league played by a bunch of our friends from college, but no money exchanged hands so it has all been in good fun.  It was a bit competitive in that we tried each week to end up with a higher score than the people we were playing against, but I never personally felt angst against or towards the people I played against (and the 8 people I have lost to). 

For today's post I wanted to talk about my experience playing in a fantasy football league for the 2015 NFL season and how my misconception about how this game is played, how I probably do not play the game as one should, and how it is nothing like Dungeons & Dragons.

Before the season started, my preconceptions about fantasy football were pretty far off.  I thought that by creating a football team made up of players from a number of teams, it would create a conflict of interest while watching.  Very rarely (as in most likely never) would I actively pay attention to which teams my players were a part of.  Being a 49ers fan, I figured that if my quarterback was on the opposing team, say the Seattle Seahawks, that I would want that quarterback to be as successful as possible and to hell with the 49ers defense performing well.  What I found was that I actually did not care which team my players were on.  I still rooted for the 49ers, even though I only had one player, and that was late in the season (Week 8 I believe) when I traded someone for someone else.

The way I picked the members of my team happened on a day and time that I did not have access to a computer, so my starting team was picked for me by. . .you know, I am not really sure how my team was picked, only that it was picked for me and it was not by Skynet.  Which might explain why my record when I was eliminated this season was 6-7; I am okay with that result by the way.  Perhaps if Skynet had chosen my players for me I would have had a better result?  This is not to say that I had ineffective players as I did have Eli Manning as my quarterback, LeVron Bell as my running back (until he went and got injured for more than half of the season), and the New England Patriots as my defense.  I had (and still really no idea) who LeVron Bell is/was when the season started and only realized that he was a good player while talking with my friend (we'll call him FNL for lack of a better ALIAS) who organized the league.

The way I decided upon which players would be on my team, I feel, was very short sighted.  Each week, I would peruse both the free agent list and available players and whomever had the highest predicted point total that week is the player I tried to acquire if their estimated weekly point total was higher than an existing players total.  This may have paid off on a few occasions, but the fact that I ended up ranked 10th out of 16.

Before the 2015 football season, I had uneducatedly (sp) compared fantasy football to Dungeons & Dragons for people who would normally have a negative reaction towards role playing games in any medium.  What I discovered, for myself at least, is that it is nothing like D&D.  With D&D, I would be in control of a single player whereas in fantasy football, I had a whole team of players that I had no attachment to unless they had a high potential point total for that week.  The players with the highest point total for that week that were already on my team, I would put into the appropriate position and if they were injured (as pointed out by Yahoo's fantasy football browser client), there would be a good chance I would trade them for someone who might give me more points.

Weekly points is something that became frustrating.  Before games began for the week, Yahoo would give me an estimated amount of points that that player might earn for the week.  How these predetermined potential points were determined is beyond me, but each week it would seem that, more often than not, a handful of players that were "supposed" to have earned 15 points for the week performed poorly and only earned me 6 points.  And since no changes to the roster could be made once their respective game started, there was nothing to do once games started.  There were no savings throws, no boosts, no pep talks.  On occasion though there were times when that running back who was only supposed to earn 8 points came up with 22 for the week.  He must've been really good with the ball that week.

Fantasy football and all fantasy sports for that matter which I will again, uneducatedly assume are all played and scored in a similar manner, are a mind bogglingly huge source of income, both for the organizations running their leagues and those who gamble within their leagues.  What I managed to gather from this first, and probably not last season, is that there is no way that I will be putting money towards any type of pot.  Well, maybe if the group of people I play with decide to have a $5 buy in fee with first place earning 50% of the pot, second place 31%, third place 13% and the person who comes in last 6% of the pot; that I could get behind.  That would turn into a $40, $25, $10, and $5 respective winnings.  Needless to say (or perhaps not), I would have been one of the other 12 people who would have come away with $0 from the 2015 season.

My final assessment is that I would play in the same fantasy football league (among friends) next year, but only because it is something that I do not have to think too much over to stay interested in.

Now to find out how the playoffs are going to decide who to root for in the Super Bowl since the 49ers will not be going.

It Resembles the Unheard Screams

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

MIDI Week Single: Theme of Crisis Core "Under the Apple Tree" - Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII

"Theme of Crisis Core 'Under the Apple Tree' " from Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII  on the Playstation Portable (2007)
Record Label: Warner Music Japan
Game Developer: Square Enix

Not this track in particular, but another one from this soundtrack came up this morning while I was drinking my daily caffeine addiction and after talking with Conklederp as well as looking over what systems we've covered here on MIDI Week Singles, I thought a track from a PSP game would go well, and since the soundtrack to Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII is the only other soundtrack from a PSP title that I have (after Gun: Showdown, which I already covered last year), I thought this would be a great track from a game that I had a lot of fun playing.

The trick with picking a track from Crisis Core is that a lot of the music hearkens back or is an arrangement of a song that Nobuo Uematsu wrote for Final Fantasy VII, which is perfectly fine, but I wanted to choose a song that was very clearly from Crisis Core, but that still invoked a familiar feeling of the world in Final Fantasy VII, one might even say a simpler time before Sephiroth went a little AWOL.  Although some might say that there was never a simpler time in the Final Fantasy VII world that's been depicted in the games.

I honestly do not recall when the theme used for "Under the Apple Tree" was first used in the game, but I do recall being immediately struck by the sound of the guitar work, which isn't overly intricate, but still beautiful, and was able to fit within the musical world that Nobuo Uematsu had already created.  It's one of two main themes that Takeharu Ishimoto composed for the game, or at least one of two that I am able to pick out that isn't one of the battle themes.  It is one of the themes though that whenever it crops up makes me want to revisit that world before Avalanche.


Monday, January 11, 2016

New Year's Resolutions and Predictions

Why not?  I'll make some blog resolutions.   I resolve to:

  • Write at least one Pak Watch post a month
  • Play at least one new (to me) game a month
  • Write at least one game article a month
  • Complete three game scores articles
  • Watch at least three live theater performances and write about them.  
  • Dig up and complete at least one old, unfinished post each month.  
  • Post at least once a week, about anything.
  • Make at least one new Super Mario Maker level a month.
  • Get a graphics card with HDMI for my old desktop PC which will allow me to transform it into a full-time gaming computer.   

Predictions for 2016:

Nintendo reveals their new system which has some sort of strange new innovation.   The reaction is a lot of eye rolls an scrutiny.  And then also a lot of excitement.  Because that is kind of what they do.

I will fail in each of my resolutions at least once.  But not more than three times.   So I'll end up writing 10 pak watches, 9 game reviews, and play 11 new games.  Or something like that. 

It's pretty unlikely I'll get through the year without missing at least one week.  It's likely I'll miss more than one, but I think it's a good goal to set.  


Friday, January 8, 2016

Game Review: Fallout 3 (PC)

With all of the hype surrounding Fallout 4, I thought it only appropriate that I work my way up to Fallout 4 by going through the games in the series, in chronological order.  I already talked about Fallout: A Post-Nuclear Role Playing Game back in August and I apparently never finished the article I had written about Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel (I also never finished after putting in 41 hours) and I am restarting Fallout 2 (again), so expect that article to be finished in about six months when I finally remember to post it.  This all led me to starting Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition, which I just beat yesterday morning.

By now anyone finding this review (eight years after the game's initial release) will already know about the game so I will simply talk about my experience playing in the Wasteland that is/was Washington D.C.  I will be bringing up specific story points in the game so there will be spoilers (y'all've been warned).

I feel that my largest critique of the game, was that the main quest felt kind of short and not overly developed.  Once you leave Vault 101 (which happens to coincidentally coincide with a radroach infestation/attack?), you are on a hunt to find out why your father left and where he went.  You end up a the nearest town, find out that your father went to a radio station (where you have to venture into the Mall to gather supplies/equipment/make-repairs before returning) so that you can find out your father went to a city in-a-boat, find out that he left there for another vault, find him at the vault, go back to the city-in-a-boat with him, go to his experiment, go back to Brotherhood of Steel, go to another vault, get kidnapped by "evil" organization, go back to BoS, then help launch attack against "evil" organization.  End of main quest.  Okay, so maybe the main quest really was not that short, but when thinking about the events that transpired, I feel like I did not do a whole lot.  The thing about the main quest though, is that your destination will more often than not lead you to smaller side quests allowing you further exploration of the area
So much area.
And there are a great many areas that I have not visited/explored yet in the D.C. Wasteland.  I have seen the White House from a distance, but I have yet to travel there.  The capital, Arlington Cemetary, Lincoln Memorial, you know all the tourist attractions are places that I have yet to visit.  I also have a lot of side quests to discover and a few to finish, and those are just the ones in the main game and not part of the five DLCs that came packaged with the "Game of the Year" edition.  I did activate the "Steel" DLC about 55 hours in since I reached the level cap of 20.  Before realizing that I had to activate the DLC to move beyond level 20, I hit a mental wall that made the game seem a lot less interesting.  Like, I still had the main quest to complete (I hadn't reached the third required vault yet), noticed that my level said "MAX" and I just put the game down (after saving).  

I also felt the desire to explore completely disappear.  One of the great things about the games that Bethesda make, is that exploring off the beaten path happens all of the time.  You see that you have a quest that takes you on the other side of some mountains and as you are traveling towards those mountains, you see a shack, or a cave, or a building with a door that looks like it is interact-able, so you go towards that thing and end up spending an hour exploring and gaining experience.  Without the experience side of the exploration, I felt that the only reason to go into that cave was to acquire more stuff to sell to traders and caravans and I did not want that.  If I were to see a group of Super Mutants off in the distance, I would be no longer compelled to travel in their direction to kill them/put them out of their perceived misery.  That was when I discovered that the "Steel" DLC (which I had not installed manually) raised the level cap to 30.  So presently I have only seven levels to figure out how not to lose that sense of adventure.

One interesting thing that I discovered after installing the "Steel" DLC was that the dog companion (apparently always named "Dogmeat") was a thing.  I knew of the dog from Fallout although in my playthrough where I beat the game I never acquired him (although I did try to talk to the guy who was trying to get rid of Dogmeat and for whatever reason I just wasn't able to), but I did not know of Dogmeat's existence in this game until I saw the "Puppies" perk which allows the player to pick up a new dog at Vault 101 if Dogmeat dies.  This was about 60 hours in now and I never came across anyone who was either trying to get rid of a dog or anywhere that lead me to finding a dog that would be my lifelong companion.  Which is fine with me since I am frequently bothered by the NPC's AI as they try to run in for the kill and, as was the case with Fawkes, end up stealing my experience points if I didn't put in enough damage to the creature we were both trying to kill.  So no Dogmeat for me.

One last story element that bothered me actually had to do with the aforementioned companion Fawkes.  Fawkes is an intelligent Super Mutant that you gain as a companion late in the game (before you are kidnapped).  Throughout the entire game, everyone mentioning Super Mutants are all fearful of them.  Then all of a sudden, your character shows back up to the Brotherhood of Steel's headquarters (after earlier in the story they begrudgingly opened their doors for you, a smooth skinned human citizen) with this hulking Super Mutant wielding a gatling laser and no one says anything about him tagging along. 
Everything's fine, no Super Mutant to see here.
There was not even any NPC side comments that you overhear (or at least none that I heard).  I felt that there should have been at least some acknowledgement that there was this normally aggressive and evil and always hunted down Super Mutant just hanging out.  Imagine if Aragorn had strolled into Helm's Deep with an articulate Uruk-Hai behind him; or if Ridly returned to The Company with an Alien that spoke broken English with a British accent and no one in The Company says a word.  I know, weird right?

While playing, I did at times experience various glitches in the game, most of which I could easily play through, while others caused the game to crash which required me to log out of my profile since Ctrl-Alt-Deleting or Alt-F4'ing out would not show a visible cursor and would have a blackened window at the bottom of the screen.
I believe I've been shot. . .?
Instances like this were pretty common when they happened.  There would be some type of tearing or extension of the characters or environment.  Most of the time it was pretty amusing, but I knew that when this started happening, that I should be saving more often since the game could crash.  Other instances of glitches was when sections of the screen (and in two cases the horizon) would become a gradient shade of depressing.
There's supposed to be more debris and buildings here, but you've seen enough of that, so here's some blueish-grey.
When things like this happened, I pretty much resigned myself to saving and preparing to quit soon since a crash was imminent.  Why this would happen I am not sure.  All of my drivers are up-to-date and my computer model is less than a year old.

I would be lying if I were to say that Fallout 3 is not worth buying or that I did not have any fun during the 67 hours I put into this game over the last month and-a-half.  I liked the art and design, the conversations with NPC's including all of the recorded dialogue, the music was bleak (and occasionally forgettable) yet fitting, and overall I enjoyed the world I was playing in.  I will definitely go through most if not all of the DLC at some point, but as there are a great number of full games that I have yet to do more than look at, those additional stories may have to wait a bit.  And then I will be moving onto Vegas for a while.


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

MIDI Week Single: "Mario Kart 8" - Mario Kart 8 - (Wii U)

"Mario Kart 8" (2014)
Composer: Atsuko Asahi
Record Label:Club Nintendo
Game Developer: Nintendo

This song is just fun and peppy, and I know it well from the many hours of Mario Kart 8 Jane and I have been putting in lately.  It it does a good job of capturing the high speed, colorful fun of the game.  The way the electric guitar zooms in at :11 gives me the feeling of pulling ahead in a Mario Kart race, or firing a red shell.    

The Mario Kart soundtrack come a long way since the Super Nintendo. I think this party-jazz style is fitting. I can almost hear a 'Live from New York' introduction when I hear this music.  


Monday, January 4, 2016

Year In Review: 2015

I had somewhat of a difficult time writing the post for today.  Looking back on an entire year of typically classified nerd-type activities and being able to break that down into a single digestible article would probably require more time that I am either willing or able to put into the thing.  I had even begun to categorize the different areas that I wanted to cover such as "Video Games," "Board Games," "Other Games," and "Looking Ahead to 2016."

Those individual headings then simply turned into lists of games that I had played and I didn't want to write a post of lists.  I wanted more meaningful words than titles.

I feel that the biggest thing that happened in 2015 in regards to any type of gaming, was that our group of friends were able to hold together a successful Dungeons & Dragons group together for the entire year.  Well, mostly anyway.  We did have one person semi-permanently leave the group due to stuff and another left when she went back east during the summer and I was instructed to kill her character off (which is a lot harder when that character is not a tank, hangs out in the middle of the group and they have three chances to make successful Death Save before they fail three times (there is a 55% chance of success on each roll).  We also acquired two people from our original group of four who have stuck around.  Our group managed to get 12 games in during the year although there was a month here-and-there when we were not able to play due to not enough people being able to attend so we ended up playing one of our other games (Mansions of Madness and/or Pandemic I believe were the two primary choices).  We also played a great game called Betrayal at House on the Hill, but I've already talked about that game, but I'm very glad that I was able to play a less serious and more light-hearted Mansions of Madness-type game. 

And what is great is that we are still not done with the quest, which could be a "not so great" thing if I think too hard about it.  I've gotten some good feedback from Conklederp about my strengths and weaknesses as a DM and she keeps reminding me that our group keeps coming back so I know that they are still interested.  I also have not heard any talk about someone else wanting to DM the next story/campaign so I know that if they are planning my demise/downfall, they are at least doing it in secret, as I would want them to do; I would expect nothing less of our Halfling theif, Tula Tealeaf.

For 2016, I would love to play maybe 15 times, but I am perfectly happy with a game a month if that is what we happen to average out to playing; as long as everyone is still interested.  

In video games for 2016, I think I am just, at the moment anyway, looking forward to finishing Fallout 3 (maybe starting Fallout: New Vegas) Dark Souls, and any number of games that I have dabbled in but have yet to finish.  And then finally I would like to start up BioShock Infinite (Thanks again SneakyTiki), Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, and any other umpteen games through Steam, GOG (Alone in the Dark 2, Elder Scrolls Adventure: Redguard) and Origins (Dead Space 3) that I've only looked longingly at.  And of course there is The Elder Scrolls Online adventuring with Conklederp.  And there I went listing again.

I'm going to stop now.  But lastly (because I apparently am bad with the saying of the stopping), is that posting frequency for me at least will probably be about the same as it was for the last six months.  With schooling winding down and the associated finals, posts might become more sporadic as the quarters come to an end, but we will still be here.

So happy 2016 for everyone reading this out there.  

And I did not even touch on TV shows (Vikings, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead), movies (Rogue One, The Revenant, Star Trek: Beyond Warcraft, Ghostbusters ), or books (Into Thin Air, Tolkien's translation of Beowulf, A Song of Ice & Fire: The Winds of Winter, Knight of the Seven Kingdoms)!  Damn lists.  I guess that shows how somewhat unorganized I am.  Ah well, I have a whole year to work on that.


Saturday, January 2, 2016

2015 year in review

 2015 was a big year, full of changes.  When the year began, I was playing PS2 games on my roommates PS3, and I was just starting my career with temporary employment services.  Now, come years end, I've got a Wii U, my own apartment, a girlfriend and a full time job.  All of these changes have been interconnected, and they've made for an interesting year.

My girlfriend Jane and I started dating in January, and we have spent a lot of time together, sharing our various interests.  Many of my television and gaming choices this year have been informed by my relationship with Jane.  We played through four games of the Blackwell series together, along with numerous board games.  Additionally, I watched (and enjoyed) the 90s sci fi show  Farscape all the way through.  With her blessing, I bought a Wii U and Super Mario Maker, and Mario Kart 8.  She has been my level tester and co-racer.  Looking ahead, we are talking of getting a place of our own, together.

I definitely played a smaller total number of video games this year. Additionally, I've tapered off on my blogging.  I can only blame poor time management skills.  Between my new job and girlfriend, and all of my various hobbies, I just haven't been as consistent with writing about these things.  I have a list, many pages long of Pak Watch games I want to talk about, and I've got partial reviews of card and video games I've played.  And then there are games that I haven't gotten around to playing.  Some of them I own.  Some were gifts.  But still, they sitting in my Steam account, collecting electronic dust.

Oh well.   I still harbor dreams of playing each and every one of them.  When I view my Steam library from the 'large' format, where there are large rectangles for each game, I imagine just popping through and trying them out, one by one.  Perhaps when I've got a dedicated gaming PC, I will do something like that.  Or maybe.... pray tell, a steambox!   (piston?)  Whatever happened with the Steam Machine anyway?   Point is,  dedicated gaming consoles have something over PCs when it comes to the interface.  At least, that's how I feel.  It's just really nice to sit back on the couch with a controller in hand.  I guess the Wii U has really driven that home this year.

In my dreams, I play the 'games you might not of tried' and I write about them, and I make a meager salary.  As it is, I play what a can, when it suits me.  If I can incorporate Jane, then all the better.  I expect in the coming year, I will be playing a great many more 2-player board games, card games and video games.  While coming up with a number of post ideas and completing very few of them.  And I'm okay with this.  I'd like to do more, but I won't beat myself up about it.  Because why would I do this if it wasn't fun?   

Alright, that's all from me for now.  Happy New Year,


P.S.  Interesting - my first post of last year was on Undertale.  Which has since exploded into massive popularity.  You heard it here first, folks!   Or:  I knew about Undertale before it was cool!   

P.P.S.  Also, I played a lot of Magic: The Gathering in 2015.  I may do a follow-up to talk about that.