Wednesday, June 28, 2017

MIDI Week Singles: "Majula" - Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin (PC)


"Majula" from Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin on the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC, Playstation 4, & Xbox One (2015)
Composer: Motoi Sakabura
Album: Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin Original Soundtrack, & Dark Souls II Original Soundtrack
Label: FromSoftware
Developer: FromSoftware


I just started playing* Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin late last week after caving in for the Humble Monthly Bundle.  If you are familiar with DSII:SotFS, you will know that I am early enough in the game that the desolated village of Majula is my homebase, which also means that since this is Dark Souls, this is the song that I am hearing most frequently.

I find the area surrounding Majula to be very calming and I wish that there was a little more to explore in the area, but since this is Dark Souls, there probably is, but I just have yet to figure out how to explore deeper into the world and the lore.  The music here too is very calming, focusing primarily for the first half with a piano that sounds like it could be coming from a nearly broken music box in one of the houses there on the coast.  Then, if only for a few seconds/bars, the piano is replaced by a harp before the two play together, then finally a couple additional instruments (bassoon? bass?) join in as drones before the song repeats with the piano music box melody.

I really like this song even though there is not much to it, that maybe it is trying to be something more and that it just cannot find the way, and has resigned to itself in its simplicity.  Or I am just reading too much into it where there is not much to be read into.



~JWfW/JDub/Jaconian


*Now if only the game would stop freezing and crashing on me.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Super Nintendo Entertainment System Classic

Whelp, it's officially happening, and I don't know if my heart can take it all over again.


Yup, that is right, Nintendo is releasing an SNES Classic console, similar to the annoyingly rare and oft overpriced due to scalpers and hoarders, NES Classic console that was released and discontinued in about a six month span.

The current game list as um, listed by Nintendo is as follows:
Contra III: The Alien Wars™
Donkey Kong Country™
EarthBound™
Final Fantasy III
F-ZERO™
Kirby™ Super Star
Kirby’s Dream Course™
The Legend of Zelda™: A Link to the Past™
Mega Man® X
Secret of Mana
Star Fox™
Star Fox™ 2
Street Fighter® II Turbo: Hyper Fighting
Super Castlevania IV™
Super Ghouls ’n Ghosts®
Super Mario Kart™
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars™
Super Mario World™
Super Metroid™
Super Punch-Out!! ™
Yoshi’s Island™

When this popped up earlier (as in two hours ago as of this writing), I was excited and immediately felt the pangs and frustration of not being able to find/locate/play one of the coveted NES Classics.  I would rather not have to be that person standing outside of a Target/Best Buy/Odin forbid Walmart/Sam Goody/Game Stop/Fry's at 2 AM waiting with 300 other people eagerly anticipating the doors to open in order to tackle my way to one of the five SNES Classics that are in stock.  I would much rather put in my $80 pre-order through Amazon and have it arrive at my doorstep the day it is released.

I do not want that heartache again and I genuinely felt a bit of that anxiety all over again.  Sure, I know, first world problem and all that.  

Here's to hoping that September 29th is good to us all.



~JWfW/JDub/Jaconian

*P.S.  I will say I was a little disappointed that there weren't any puzzle games, Tetris Attack, or Tetris/Dr. Mario specifically, if only because those were my Mom's favorite games and t'would have been nice to hook that up to my parents' TV instead of the SNES that is semi-working at the moment.

P.P.S.  I also want to give kudos to Nintendo (at least for now) for including two controllers.  Great decision.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

MIDI Week Singles: "Deadlight" - Deadlight (360, XBO, PC, PS4)


"Deadlight" from Deadlight on Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC, PS4 (2012)
Label: Tequila Works / Valve
Developer: Tequila Works



What I love about this song, as well as the game Deadlight, is that it perfectly complements Tequila Works' take on the lone survivor in the midst of a zombie-type apocalypse.  The music is not loud, grandiose or bombastic, partly because Deadlight is not about running and gunning your way though to an evacuation helicopter or to fist bump your partner after executing a sick-ass kill with a chainsaw strapped to the end of a hockey stick, although there are a number of instances of needing to shoot your way through a number of shadows, but that is far from the emphasis.

At about 0:39, a choir comes in that creates a sense of longing and hope, yet at the same time, loss and despair.  It was at about this time, from what I recall, that the character of Randall walks out along the dilapidated remains of a highway overpass, and I just had to stop and look around at the remains of the world as the music swept over me.

Something interesting that did not dawn on me until writing this article (as is often the case), is that the main theme is comprised of four notes, that are repeated yet developed during the entirety of the song, and then returns to the piano at the end playing those group of four notes.  I love it.



~JWfW/JDub/Jaconian

Monday, June 19, 2017

Obligatory Post About E3 Part II


Since I did not really watch much from E3 live, all this post is going to be is listing a number of games that peaked my interest while looking through the games that were announced/updated/talked about/what-have-you.

Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown:  Loved Ace Combat X on the PSP and I've been chasing that high with the Ace Combat games ever since.  Based on trailer, seems like it'll be better than AC: Assault Horizen (hopefully anyway).  (PC/PS4/XBO)

Ashen: Open world survival in a sunless world, and not co-op dependent is a definite plus.  Love the art style. (PC/ XBO)

The Artful Escape: Side scrolling adventure game with musical abilities (bard?).  A hipster aesthetic, but a fun looking concept.  (PC/XBO)

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night:  This game looks a lot like a modern side scrolling Castlevania title, probably because one of the producers from Castlevania is working on this game, AS WELL AS Michru Yamane, who was responsible for a lot of the Castlevania music.  Excited.  (PC/PS4/Vita/Switch/XBO)

Call of Cthulhu:  Yes, yes!  Everything about this, yes!  (PC/PS4/ XBO)

Cuphead:  As with some other games that were announced, I really like the visual aesthetic. (PC/XBO)

The Evil Within 2: By now, it should be pretty obvious that I am a sucker for horror games and I do love me some Bethesda.  I guess I should probably play the first game though. . .a Steam is coming up soon with their summer sale so. . . (PC/PS4/XBO)

Kingdom Come: Deliverance:  I recall hearing about this game a while back and the combat system and visuals were very enticing.  I am excited to see that it will be released next year.  The only initial hang up is whether the game is only in first person or if you can switch to 3rd person, which would be my personal preference. (PC/PS4/XBO)

The Last Night:  I really wasn't too interested by the name and description of the game, but then I watched the trailer and that all changed.  The visuals remind me a bit of Out of this World, but that could just be the pixely protagonist, but something about it all just looks very intriguing.  (PC/XBO)

Metroid: Samus Returns:  This was the first (or second) game from E3 that I heard about and the only one that I really cared about until I started writing this article, post E3.  I am very excited for this title and the only thing that could mar this release would be if it was only available for the New Nintendo 3DS.  (3DS).

Middle-earth: Shadow of War:  I really enjoyed the first game, so I am interested to see how they improve on their Nemesis System.  I also want to see how they progress the story. (PC/PS4/XBO)

Monster Hunter: World: Honestly, I've only played one of the Monster Hunter demos that was released for the 3DS and I wasn't too impressed, but something about the games first release on the PC has me interested again, and I am not entirely sure why.  (PC/PS4/XBO)

Neil deGrasse Tyson Presents: Space Odyssey:  I am slightly intrigued by the description even though I have seen a number of universe simulators, but I do love me some Dr. Tyson.  (Android/iOS/PC)

Ori and the Will of the Wisps:  I still haven't played Ori and the Blind Forest, but I have been meaning to (as well as meaning to buy the game), but I heard nothing but good things so this title was interesting as well.  (PC/XBO)


If I did not happen to mention a game that you think will be the best game of 2017, not just E3 but the entire year, then oops and oh well.  There is probably also a good chance that I just passed over the one of 157 games on the larger list I used.



~JWfW/JDub/Jaconian
Butt Hole Modifications

Friday, June 16, 2017

Thoughts on Collecting for the Sake of Collecting

And Maybe Some Other Stuff Too.


Needless Disclaimer: This article/rant is not intended to change anyone's mind, especially those who do in fact collect games and video game accessories with the desired outcome to have a "complete" collection.  This was purely written out of minor annoyance, frustration, and the state of the cost of living in nearly every category far outpacing a realistic living wage here in the US.


Thoughts about people who collect things for the sake of collecting them crops up every so often, most recently when I was on the phone with my Mom the other day and the Nintendo Classic Mini came up.  My Mom had asked what had happened to the system as her initial plan was to get one for each of us siblings (three in total) for Christmas last year and was saddened when she was unable to find any before the holiday season.  I told her that they were sold out nearly everywhere and being hawked on eBay and Amazon for 500% above MSRP and that she should wait until stores are restocked and the price goes down, but as we all know by now, that never happened.  I could tell that she was let down a bit, because our family grew up playing the NES and SNES and this was something my Mom wanted to do for all of us; possibly so that anytime she came to visit us she would whoop our asses at Dr. Mario any time our parents came to visit.

Which brought up thoughts and feelings again about people who collect games for the sake of increasing the size of their personal collection without any desire to play their coveted games.

Also, I realize that the jacked up price for Nintendo Classic units was not solely because of collectors as it was primarily because asshats knew a hot commodity when they saw one, and decided to take advantage of the situation.  Although I have seen a number of people from various sources who bought at least more than one unit, one to play and the other to keep boxed up and to display.

Just a word of warning (again).  This is not so much be a think piece as it is a rant, and will potentially irritate some people on the Instagrams (those who I know are avid collectors and who frequently post pictures of rooms dedicated to their shelves of games).  And honestly, some of what I say stems from a form of jealousy, but not from not having those games so much as not having the chance to play those games.  It is not that I too would like to have a room dedicated to a collection of video games, I instead would like to have a room dedicated to playable video games.  What really gets my proverbial goat is seeing pictures of set ups or room with many of the same console that may never see the inside of a TV screen.  Petty I know, but there it is.

An unfair equivalent would be someone buying works of art for their personal collection without allowing public access.  Which is done all of the time, and you cannot really play a painting.  Then you run into the Indiana Jones Syndrome where anything of historical value apparently belongs in a museum.  And I too am guilty of having objects of semi-historical value that I have not shared with the greater public because, well, I love dinosaurs and those fossil fragments were a gift.


The point is, that there is something that annoys me and so the Internet becomes a blank canvas for me to publicly disclose my annoyances, even though I too am guilty of partaking in the collecting for the sake of collecting, but not the things that presently annoy me.  And while we're on the topic of minor annoyances (that could still be in the realm of CftSoC), is the advertising of selling video games that are shrink wrapped.  After having worked in a video store (back in 1999) and shrink wrapping movie boxes that were opened (in order to remove the movies and then turn the boxes into display boxes), I realized that it is not that difficult to shrink wrap anything.  Movie boxes, video game boxes, styrofoam blocks, sandwiches. . . most things really, except hands, don't do that.  The point is, just because something is labeled as "shrink wrapped" and claims to be new, does not mean that that item is as new as the day that it was first produced.


Alright, I feel that this is semi-incoherent enough to be proud of and post it for all to see.  Maybe I came off whinier than I thought or not as whiny as I was anticipating, either way, and again, there it is.




~JWfW/JDub/Jaconian

Sitting In A Sluggish Vertigo

Thursday, June 15, 2017

MIDI Week Singles: "Wilderness" - Golden Axe (GEN)


"Wilderness" from Golden Axe on the SEGA Genesis (1989)
Composer: [See Below]
Developer: Sega AM1


First off, apologies (of sorts) for not having/knowing who the composer of this music, let alone the score from Golden Axe.  Apparently there is some question as to who wrote the score, with You Takada being one credited in a compilation of SEGA music.  Although this CD set, has Nankyoku, Decky, and Imocky credited for sound, which in a lot of early 80s era video games was also the person who wrote the music.

Something else that did not dawn on me until just now, is that this is the first SEGA Genesis game that we have covered here on MIDI Week Singles, which is probably due to the fact that both Dr. Potts and myself grew up fiercely in the Nintendo Camp during The War.  And most likely because of this, I did not recognize any of the composers listed in either of the two albums mentioned above which makes me wonder how many composers, if any crossed over between consoles?  I guess I have some homework to do.

That being now said, "Wilderness" is my favorite track from the first game in the Golden Axe series, probably because it is the music from the first stage which is the stage that I have most frequently played.  And while listening to this, I would be very surprised if there was not already a metal cover of this song as that baseline is pretty great throughout the entirety of the song, especially around the 1:25 mark.

Basicaly, I just think this is a great track for a hack-and-slash type game.



~JWfW/JDub/Jaconian

Monday, June 12, 2017

Obligatory E3 Post Part I

This image may or may not be copyrighted against being used without expressed permission.  But hey, this isn't the NFL. . .

I say "Part I" because E3 started last week on Saturday June 10th, most of the major company's have already had their big press conferences followed by individual games the rest of the convention.   Part II should be out later/soon.  Presently all I know from the entire convention is that Microsoft's next iteration of their console, previously code named Scorpio, has been given the title of X Box One X; because apparently one more X will be all the difference in the world.

But since we like to talk about video games and other things related to geek/nerd culture, I felt that we had to have no less than one post about E3, and since no one associated with our site is at E3 this year (or ever), we are going to resort to speculation, conjecture, and just some good all around tomfoolery.

First off, I would like for Nintendo (who has their press announcement tomorrow on Tuesday) to say that they are producing more Switch units and will make sure that anyone who is in the market can readily buy one and that through 2017, only one unit will be sold per up to three people in a household because damn it, it has been 101 days since The Switch was released and I have only seen one out in the wild, and have never seen one at any of the electronic stores I have visited (Target, Best Buy, Fred Meyer) have had any physical Switches available.  Guess I'll just wait until December for the Allfather Odin to drop one off for Winter Solstice.  And while we're at it Nintendo, time to add additional titles to your Nintendo Select titles for the 3DS, like Fire Emblem Awakening, Star Fox 64 3D, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, and Bravely Default.  Alright, I'm just complaining now.

I guess I will just leave it at that though as my finger has not been on the pulse of the gaming industry since about 1998 and I could talk about how I would like to see a new 2D Metroid game in the vain of Super Metroid, or maybe a compilation 3DS title of both Metroid: Zero Mission and Metroid Fusion, or maybe a new title from The Chineseroom or Frictional Games, but if I continue down that road, I am only going to further demonstrate that my own video game desires do not line up with that of the video game elite.

I will say that every E3, I am slightly excited to see what either new games or new IPs are in development.  And it is pretty amusing to see all of the fallout from people who become upset for one reason or another, or those that are convinced that it will be a specific company's end as their press conference just proves that they are in a downward spiral towards a fiery death.

So let's just wait until possibly Friday's article (let's be honest though, probably Monday's article) where I at the very least talk a bit about the games that interest me, regardless of platform, similar to what I have done in the past.



~JWfW/JDub/Jaconian

Friday, June 9, 2017

DC comics movies

Entering into a really busy season at my work.  I don't know why I didn't mention that in my monthly update.  It's called 'Fiscal Close' and it takes place roughly, over the months of June and July.  Everything needs to be finished and arranged just so, and it doesn't help that my boss is prone to a bit of explosiveness when the heat is on!   yikes!




Wonder Woman: 
Anyhow, that's not what I came here to talk about.  What I wanted to talk about was that I just saw Wonderwoman, yay!  I really liked it.  It's not a perfect movie, but it is a great superhero movie.  Great supporting cast, great hero, I liked the sets and I liked that it was a period piece.  It had great themes, and Gal Gadot's WonderWoman is very easy to root for.  She was earnest and a little naive, but also tremendously powerful.  Her companions are clearly inspired by her beauty, her courage and, of course, her strength.  I thought the villain was very well played, though perhaps he didn't get enough screen time.  The final battle wasn't fantastic, but it got the job done.  Good movie.

Additionally, there is a certain amount of catharsis finally getting to see a truly kick-ass babe at the center of a superhero movie.


Batman v Superman:
Wonder Woman made her first appearance in the DC universe in the movie Batman v Superman, which I watched on TV a few weeks ago.  Jane was out of town, so I figured, why not just watch some movies I missed in the theater, and have at least a mild interest in.  I didn't care for BvS.  Mostly because the two leads are just total jerks.  I don't really like a story where the two leads are both sort of arrogant a-holes who won't talk even for a moment.  Who needs that?  I guess they had to come up with a way to make them fight, though I would just as well preferred a movie where they don't fight.  Beyond the fact that the 'heroes' have no charisma, the movie itself was really long and sort of dreary.  Really, I got the impression that it was more like a string of 5 half-hour episodes of television strung together, than a complete movie.  It didn't really have that much excitement, even when there was action.  I felt more like was enduring the extended action scenes, rather than enjoying them.  Wonder Woman's presence is muted, and she has very little personality as compared with the WW movie.  


Suicide Squad:
Meh.  This movie looked like fun, but was mostly gray and dreary.  I'm sensing a theme among the DC movies.  Similar to BvS, this movie felt kind of like a series of episodes strung together.  Like, not all that much really happens.  It's like the middle of the movie is really long, it's all just... middle.  Because of the villains and the kind of rebellious spirit of the concept, and the really snappy trailer, I thought this movie would be fun.  It really wasn't fun at all.  I don't remember much from it, except the sensation of waiting for it to end.



This is what I was expecting with the Dark Knight Rises

Dark Knight Rises:

I think I came to realize that these last three DC movies have all been almost exactly the same in tone:  Dreary.  I did not like the Dark Knight Rises, and was ready to leave the theater before it ended.  This movie is like taking the original Dark Knight, but removing Heath Ledger.  You're just really not left with much.  All of Bane's grandstanding pseudo philosophy was really boring and unconvincing.  And like some of the other DC movies, it doesn't seem to really rise or fall in excitement.  The famous 'backbreaking scene' in which Bane breaks Batman over his knee, just left me shrugging.  And when Bane finally gets his defeat, it is equally lackluster.  I want some drama in my Superhero movies, and I think that this movie didn't bring it.  

The Dark Knight:
I liked the Dark Knight.  Not as much as some, but I do agree with the general sentiment that Heath Ledger's joker was amazing.  He is very convincing, and he keeps my attention and makes me want more.  To tell you the truth, I wish this movie had been shorter and yet I wish the joker had been in more scenes.  Somehow it was too long, and yet not enough of what I wanted.  Go figure.  I suppose there's some sort of big message in this movie and the next one, but I don't really know what it was.  Something about testing humanity's capacity for good, or something.  I liked the Dark Knight, but I've gotten the impression that Warner Brothers has just been trying to strike gold twice by making a bunch of movies as much like the Dark Knight as they can.  But the result is just the Dark Knight rises over and over again, a watered down version.   With any luck, Wonder Woman will show that they can expand their horizons a little bit, add some color and humor maybe even some hope.  

-D




The color in this book is really cool
Watchmen:
I almost forgot Watchmen!  In general, a fantastic retelling of the comic.  Shot for shot in some places.  All in all, a great movie, so any problems I have are nitpicks.  Which I am happy to do.  I wish it hadn't had that grayness that is in all of the other DC movies.  The original comic was actually fairly colorful, using a 4-color style of classic comics.  In the comic, the colorfulness didn't detract.  It may not be possible to do that in film, but it would be nice to try.  In the case of Watchmen, if it felt like a series of episodes, it actually is!  


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

MIDI Week Singles: "Eyes of Knives" - Ultima: Exodus (NES)


"Eyes of Knives" from Ultima: Exodus on the Nintendo Entertainment System (1987)
Composer: Tsugutoshi Goto
Album: No Official Release
Developer: Richard Garriott


First off, yes, I know that Exodus is the third title in the Ultima series, but the NES cart was titled as Ultima: Exodus as opposed to the PC release, Ultima III: Exodus.  So now that that is out of the way.

I bought Ultima: Exodus probably sometime in the early '90s, maybe after I already had either (or both) Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy, but I bought it for two main reasons.  1) Because Dr. Potts had it and he seemed to be a good judge of RPGs, and 2) It had a fairly involved character creation that lets you choose race, class, and bonuses to add to your pre-determined stats; I knew from Dr. Potts my Wizard should be Fuzzy, and Cleric should be Bobit.  I could not tell you how many times I either started Ultima: Exodus, but I can tell you how many times I beat the game.  Zero.

And that is where "Eyes of Knives," being the title given to the song from the album "Ultima Remix," comes into play as it is the music that plays during the character creation screens.  And that is what this song evokes in me, a combination of frustrated and confused nostalgia, mixed with excitement at being able to customize a party of adventurers.  Maybe I should get around to actually trying to beat this game and finally figure out what this story is all about?  

Hmmm. . . (Although that's not the NES port).



~JWfW/JDub/Jaconian

Monday, June 5, 2017

Monthly Update: June 2017


Apparently it's now June?  I guess it's just that time of the year when the months just start flying by.  But overall, June was a nice month, somewhat busy now that I list everything out.  So let's get down to bizniss.

There were some movies Conklederp and I saw this last month, the two theatrical releases being Alien: Covenant and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, both of which I would recommend, unless science fiction is not your thing in anyway, shape, or form.  Although, Conklederp is typically not a science fiction movie person, but actually enjoyed both movies.  Guardians because it didn't take itself too seriously and because it had some pretty good writing, and Alien because it dealt more with exploration than any of the recent Star Trek movies and was more philosophical than she was expecting.  And it doesn't hurt that Michael Fassbender is a pretty versatile actor.  For June, the only movie coming out that is on our radar is the horror?/thriller? It Comes At Night.

Moving onto the small screen, we have been watching a number of TV shows, both in-person and of the streaming format.  For real TV, we have been keeping up with, um, The Bachelorette followed by the Rose Buddies podcast, which is hosted by 30 Under 30 Media Luminary Griffin McElroy and his wife Rachel McElroy.  Rose Buddies basically makes The Bachelor/ette family of products worth watching.  On the streaming front, we are finishing up with The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which I have realized takes about three or four episodes each season for it to find its funny-legs; we started the first two episodes of the long awaited Twin Peaks revival, but since we have no way of watching the show without an uber-cable subscription, we're planning on waiting until the whole season is released then do a 30 day trial and power through, but what we saw looked promising and appropriately weird as in the good parts of season two weird;  We're also following along with Fargo Season 3, which so far is close to my favorite season (1/3, 2) so far, but I'm a sucker for a great David Thewlis performance, not to forget Carrie Coon as Gloria Burgle is pretty great; then House of Cards season 5 was released at the end of May and now Orange is the New Black season 5 is coming out on Friday (June 9th).  Basically, the Netflix Effect.

Bookwise (I'll keep this brief), I've recently (as in on May 24th) started The Waste Lands: The Dark Tower III, partly because of The Dark Tower trailer being released back on May 3rd.  I have also been reading the absurdly wonderfully titled The Book of Werewolves by S. Baring Gould, which is an 1865 text which looks at the historical origins of werewolves.  Two completely different books, but they're both great reads for completely different reasons.

On the video game front, I finished Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, which I already talked about, as well as The Witcher (talked about that one too) and am actively engaged with Dark Fall: The Journal, which I have also talked a bit about.  I also just started Fire Emblem Echos: Shadows of Valentia which I know I should probably not have started yet because I want/need/have to finish Chrono Trigger.  Oh, and I recently finished Code of Princess, which was pretty fun but a bit ridiculous in the way that you think, and there will be an Game EXP article coming up in the next week or two.  And I should probably finish Baldur's Gate: Extended Edition again because bloody hell that's a damn good game.

And lastly, speaking of Baldur's Gate, I'm excited to get back with our PNW D&D group this weekend after a while of not being able to find time, but our SoCal D&D contingent has managed to squeeze in two or three games in May, although we had to cut the last session short as our Skyping computer died due to not having a power cable readily accessible.  At the moment, I am 94.7% positive in what I am going to do for this Saturday, but there could be some tweaking going on (meaning there will definitely be some tweaking going on).

So that was May and what will be in June.  Kind of.  Sort of?  Either way, only 25 more days until July 1, 2017.



~JWfW/JDub/Jaconian
And Then We'll Do Funny Stuff

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Monthly Update - June

Hello All, right good to talk at you.  Here is a summary of what's been going on this past month.

I just finished up American Gods, by Neil Gaiman.  I really enjoyed it.  Neil Gaiman has a remarkable sense of faerie tales, and this is well demonstrated in American Gods.  The book also has a great sense of Americana, of appreciation for the country and the people and towns across the land.  There are some things that don't quite make sense, and I'm not really sure I even like the lead character, but the book as a whole was a fantastic read, and I can't recommend it highly enough.  

I have always meant to read this book, and it was the release of the TV series on the Starz network that finally gave me the push to read American Gods.  I am very excited for the show, and thrilled that they cast Ian McShane as Wednesday*.  Great actor, his role in Deadwood was a role of a lifetime, and made me a fan forever.  I think he'll be fantastic in the role.  However, I don't have Starz network, and Jane and I have a lot of shows to watch, so I don't know when I'll finally get to see the show.  I hope it's good.  The buzz has been that it is pretty strange, which is just perfect.

Speaking of TV, it is going nuts this year!  In addition to American Gods, the revival of Twin Peaks is in full swing!  I have stayed away from all spoilers from this show, and I really don't know how I'll watch it eventually, but I will watch it.  Also:  New Star Trek, holy shiiiiiit!   I'm so glad they're making a new Star Trek, and I can only hope that it keeps to the roots of the show, ie:  exploration, new life, new civilizations and all that.  While I'm not particularly interested in the time period (pre-Kirk) if the writing is good, then then the show will be good.  I am very hopeful.  I heard a rumor that netflix or hulu will be showing Star Trek: Beyond, I sure hope so.  

Okay, I'd also like to mention Podcasts.  I have gotten really into a podcast called 'Writing Excuses' which is hosted by several writers, including Brandon Sanderson, known mostly for being the writer who finished off the Wheel of Time series.  And also Mary Robinette Kowal, whom I have become a fan- fun fact:  in addition to be a novelist, she is a professional puppeteer, trained by the Jim Henson company.   

In further podcast news, I have a new favorite episode of Hello from the Magic Tavern:  ep 32, "Offices and Bosses,"  wherein the characters play a 'role playing game' in which they take upon roles like 'director of marketing' or 'temporary worker' and play games to avoid their gabby coworkers and navigate an interaction with their boss.  It's hilarious.  At one point a character dies or is fired, and the others ask 'can we loot his desk?' - which is hilarious because of its reference, and because people absolutely loot the desks for former workers.  I loved this episode so much, I saved a copy to listen to again later.

On the gaming front, I spent most of May sunken in another round of Magic: The Gathering Online addiction.  I dumped a lot of time and money into this game.  It tends to happen when new sets are released.  I found the new set, Amonkhet, to be interesting and fun, so I kept coming back to it.  Because Magic is a competitive game, I feel like I should have something to show for it.  Unfortunately, I lost a lot and don't have much to show for myself.  Oh well. 

Finally, on a personal note, my brother Samz graduated from Law School.  We are all very proud.  In attendance at the graduation and the lunch afterward, were my Dad, Mom, Stepmom, Grandmother and three of my aunts.  And it was surprisingly pleasant!  For reference, some of these people had not seen each other for at least a decade, if not longer.  Everything went well, and I count that as a big win.   

Alright, that's all I've got for the moment being.  I'll be back with more as it develops.

-D

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

MIDI Week Singles: "Aztec Complex" - GoldenEye 007 (N64)


"Aztec Complex" from GoldenEye 007 on the Nintendo 64 (1997)
Album: No Official Album Release
Developer: Rare


You know, we here at Stage Select Start really love GoldenEye 007, but not only the game, but the music as well as this will be the third time we have used the soundtrack for a MIDI Week Singles article (I, II, III).  I got the idea to use this song from GoldenEye 007 from The Kid who is currently in the Middle of Nowhere, aka: I-5 South.  At first I was not sure about using it since I could not initially tell you how the song went, but within the first five seconds, I immediately had a nervous feeling, like I was about to do something very aggravating and did not want to mess up; again.  That was when I thought, "Yup, perfect song to use!"

As for the classification of this song, there was no official soundtrack release for GoldenEye 007, and because of that, I was unable to find out who specifically wrote this song, be it Graeme Norgate or Grant Kirkhope; although I do know that Robin Beanland wrote the two elevator songs.  Additionally, the name for the song, "Aztec Complex" came from whomever put together the rip of the soundtrack, but it was basically the name of the level (specifically being called "Aztec"), so I left the title as is.

You know, it is almost like I can hear the pop of the PP7 followed by the ratchet/clicking sound of switching weapons, and then the rapid fire from the AR-15 as you take down one after another of those yellow suited bastards, then finally you come across the prsewing Moonraker Laser and, maybe wreck havoc?  I think most of the time I dual wielded the AR-15s (after killing Jaws), but the damage output and unlimited ammo of the Moonraker (and later dual Moonrakers) was pretty great nonetheless.

But as for the music, is one that I do not think that I will ever forget, even if it is a tune that I cannot hum on a regular basis.  I do like that around the 48 second mark, the song sounds like it is almost playing a drawn out version of the "Theme from Dr. No" which is more commonly known as the Bond Theme.  And for me, it is really the snare drum and kettle-type-drum sounds that drive the song forward, which is kind of what the Aztec level is about as there is very little time to sit and rest, especially after the launch sequence has been initiated.

Hopefully this song not only reminds you of days gone by, but like myself, causes a bit of anxiety and nervousness, because sharing is caring.



~JWfW/JDub/Jaconian

Monday, May 29, 2017

First Game Impressions EXP: Ultimate NES Remix (3DS)


This is going to be a short(ish) article, partly because I haven't finished the game, partly because I don't have a schnazzy way of capturing images from my 3DS, partly because it's not the type of game that I would have pegged myself for liking, but mainly because I think it is a really fun(strating) game;  sorry, that attempted pun didn't turn out.  But I picked up this game back in January with funds gifted to me from Beardsnbourbon after falling hard for Nintendo's offering of Wario Ware Touched! and realizing that I enjoy playing short bits of classic era NES games.

My first impression of Ultimate NES Remix, before I even played it, was that is was a Wario Ware type title where you played a bit of game with a specific goal, then quickly moved onto the next title to see how long of a streak you can do.  However, the game is a little different than that, and if you had read any of the Gamestop reviews, you will see that people thought that it was a 3DS version of what the now defunct NES Classic turned out to be.

What Ultimate NES Remix is, is playing a short excerpt from a stage from one of 16 NES games with a specific goal in mind (not necessarily beating a stage either), which can be completed in anywhere from 10 seconds to whenever the timer runs out.  Such as in Donkey Kong, your goal is to "Jump Over 10 Barrels," or in Super Mario Bros. 3, to "Defeat Boom Boom" from multiple stages in the game.  A lot of the stages are presented with progressive difficulty, which seem mind numbingly simple having grown up with a lot of these games, but then there are titles like Balloon Fight that I find myself constantly struggling with.

What struck me about the game, is that it seems to be geared towards people who would normally be drawn to speed-running, something that I personally do not find attractive.  I like to take my time with games, looking at scenery, understanding how the game works, not really trying to figure out how to beat a game as quickly as possible.  With Ultimate NES Remix, I have found myself restarting stages over and over because I missed grabbing a hold of a ladder, or did not land in the right spot, or any number of other things so that I ended up with a final time of 15.3 seconds instead of the 8th ranked player who had a time of 14.7 seconds.  That is another thing with this game, is that there are online leaderboards, some of which I have managed to put myself into the top 8 for the North American region (that's me at #2 on Stage 7 for Zelda II: The Adventure of Link*).  I do admit though that for some of the faster times, I watched how other players completed a level, but only after I completed it first myself.

So far, there have been only a few disappointments, but none of which make me regret buying this game.  The first and foremost considering the system, is that there is no 3D effect anywhere.  Perhaps this should not have been surprising since this game was a selectively combined port of the two Wii U NES Remix titles.  Then there was my preconceived notion that the stages were not randomly selected like a Wario Ware title.  I was also sad that there was no "infinite challenge" option to see how long you could play before you lost all your lives.  I think that's really it as far as complaints go.

So after playing 11 hours and still having a lot of stages left to both unlock and play, I am really loving what the game has to offer and the mash up levels, such as beating the first level in Donkey Kong with Link from The Legend of Zelda (who cannot jump, or reach the hammers) is the kind of fun that I did not think that I would initially enjoy.  I guess as long as you go into the game knowing that you aren't getting full games and like NES games, there is a good chance that you will find some fun in Ultimate NES Remix.



~JWfW/JDub/Jaconian


* Proof, because it did happen.


P.S. Thanks to Nintendo World Report for "letting" me steal the logo they have up for UNR.