Monday, December 14, 2015

Xenoblade Chronicles

This is one heck of a loooong game. I absolutely enjoyed it, but oh boy is it long. When I first decided to get back to my Xenoblade file it had approximately 46 hours invested in it already. I underestimated that it would take me another 48 hours to beat it for a total of 94 hours! I mostly rushed through the last half of this game and I'm still astounded at the amount of content. There's still the rest of Colony 6 to rebuild, my collectopedia to fill out, skill trees to unlock, quests to finish, and unique monsters to fight for affinity coins.

Despite the overwhelming amount of content and the fact that I really just wanted to finish the game so I could start up Xenoblade Chronicles X on the Wii U (possibly an even longer game?!), I still had a lot of fun finishing it up.
I'm coming for you Xenoblade Chronicles X....
A couple of the last areas are a little tedious and running back and forth hitting switches is a little boring and painful. All in all there was still a great deal of game left for me to enjoy. The story took some unexpected twists as well which I will not spoil for you here, but definitely kept me intrigued. Lots of bosses and cinematics in the home stretch of the game, and I'll never get tired of seeing the giant Mechonis or Bionis in the distance.

Bionis and Mechonis BFF's?
One of the largest areas in the game - Guar Plains.
The setting for Xenoblade Chronicles is a world composed of two giant gods - the Mechonis and the Bionis. Cities, mountains, fields, and all sorts of life teem across the enormous gods bodies who rest atop an endless infinite sea below. The locales are all very original and creative and the sights are enough to make you stop and just soak it all in. Standing in a particular vantage point it's easy to see the giant god in the distance, or a felled arm lying atop the ocean. It's very cool. It also makes for some fairly large areas to explore! Most of which is decently populated and even has a few hidden areas here and there.

Many pieces of equipment have slots to equip various upgrades.
Characters are also quite customizeable in terms of gear. Various armour and weapon pieces have slots for adding gems which boost a variety of stats or add buffs to the character. The gems have to be crafted from crystals you sometimes gather from monsters or various deposits across the land. Eventually you can craft some pretty handy and powerful enhancements.

Characters Auto-Attack and you can perform Arts by selecting them from the bottom menu.
The combat in the game was fun and the boss fights managed to stay challenging throughout. It's a real-time combat system with cool down based special attacks and auto-attacks. I used Melia predominantly and got into a good rhythm and pattern for fighting various enemies. Being able to play as any of the characters though means you can always switch it up and try someone new. The AI for your teammates is fairly good, but I've read in various places that Melia's AI is not good at all - hence why decided to control her myself. You're free to have whatever team combination you want though, but some characters are more suited to tanking or dps'ing.

The cinematics can be pretty awesome, but sometimes, especially when first starting the game, they can drag onnnnnn...... I just want to play! I never felt like that near the end though - as they would enhance and progress the story and character development. It's well worth getting to the end of the game - mind blown!

Xenoblade Chronicles is definitely a must have for any Wii owner with a love of RPG's. The game was also brought to the Nintendo 3DS not too long ago as well though you'll need the enhanced power of the "New Nintendo 3DS" to play it. It's been a blast traversing the terrain, battling creatures large and small, completing quests, and experiencing the story. The game drags a bit here and there, and you might need to take a break once in a while, but it's worth putting in the time to finish it.

Now to, eventually, play Xenoblade Chronicles X!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Nintendo Power Collection

When you move into a new house and pack up all of your stuff you get a better sense of how much "stuff" you have. So, in the spirit of reducing my material possessions, I've concluded, through much heartache, that my Nintendo Power magazines really do take up a LOT of space. I have nearly the entire collection in hard copy and am only missing about 20 or 30 in all out of 285... that's a lot of paper! And boy does it weigh a gosh darn ton (as my back can attest to).

That's only about half of them...
I don't want to completely get rid of them though... Nintendo Power was a huge part of my life growing up. My parents got me a subscription each year as part of my birthday present and I was always so excited to receive my newest issue. I'd read the magazine through cover to back and sometimes do it multiple times. This huge stack of coloured paper holds a plethora of nostalgia. How am I to part with it - while not parting with it?

Well the digital age is well upon us and it seems there are a good number of Nintendo Powers scanned and available online at websites like EmuParadise and RetroMags. Still, they only account for about half of the issues in existence... which means I'm still left with some hard copies. I wish I could find them all, but some extensive googling has turned up nothing past what the before mentioned websites already host.

What does that mean for me?! What will I do?! Well - I'm up for the task. I can pick up where others have left off I suppose. Let's start the scanning!!!!

...okay, so it's actually a lot of scanning. I'm worried I'll go through a scanner or two! I roughly calculated just over 15,000 pages to scan. COUGH. Ahem. Woah... *feeling mildly dizzy*

RRrrrr... Mmmm... Oh Gee... it hurts.
Ever wish you could clone yourself consequence free? It looks like I'll be holding onto some of my hard copies for some time to come. I'd like to start scanning them and completing the entire Nintendo Power digital collection, but even if I scanned 1 a week it would still take me nearly 3 years to finish... I guess I'll see. No promises!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

N64 Cartridges: What Are You?

Almost everyone stores their N64 Cartridges the same way... front to back. Not open-faced like some deconstructed sandwich on Cutthroat Kitchen. It's just not practical - they are designed to be stored like this:

Like this!
You can't store them like this! Who has that much floor space?!
But after storing them front to back what is what? What game are you cartridge 6th from the left. I have no idea - the cartridge probably doesn't even know what game it is because it's so disorganized. The front of the cartridge lets everyone know who you are, but you are hidden behind other confused cartridges.

So now if I want to find Quest 64 and fondly remember the terrible nostalgia of grinding enemies and hitting them with my little oaken staff I have to look through each and every cartridge until I find it! WHAT?! Nintendo, Nintendo, what were you thinking? There's perfect real estate on top of the cartridge for a label!

The solution is to make our own - or for those who are lazy and want something probably waaaay nicer than any home made sort of label you could just pick up some of these:

Oh thank goodness!
Sweet mother of cartridge identification! It works perfect and looks great to boot! These stickers are the must-have solution. The pack comes with the entire North American N64 game collection. I picked some up a few weeks ago and they were easy to stick on and look fantastic. You can pick them up from this Etsy shop - AfterMidnightps!

Aww yeah, that's the stuff!
For us Canadians it's a little pricey with our flailing dollar, but I bit the Bullet Bill and ordered it. Totally worth it in my opinion!

This Little King's Story Has Come to an End

It's been a great number of years since I first turned a page on Little King's Story. I Originally mentioned the cute, pikmin-esque game all the way back in 2009! Well I finally managed to beat and close the book on this game.

You start as a king in a lowly kingdom with only a few followers, but as you grow and build and conquer your kingdom gets bigger and more glorious! There are only a few townsfolk at first, but over the course of the game you'll gather well over 100, and each of them has their own unique name and can fall in love with other townsfolk. You send them into various structures you build to give them different jobs such as soldier, ranger, chef, merchant, carpenter, and so on. Some of these jobs let your townsfolk build certain things as you explore the map with them, or fight enemies, or unlock areas of the map.

Look at all those loyal followers!
There are a number of quirky enemies and some intimidating ones like dragons and giant mushrooms. Some can be killed by certain jobs faster (chickens are cooked quickly with a chef), while some enemies simply need to be beaten to pulp! The majority of the enemies are some sort of little Onii goblin demon creature thing. As you defeat enemies they'll drop loot which you can take back to your castle, cash in, and the afford to build new things in your kingdom.

The inconspicuous Onii

Watch out for those giant mushrooms! They're more terrifying than they sound!
The map is made up of a variety of neighboring kingdoms and areas. As you explore new areas and eventually encounter some crazy other kings you'll have to fight and defeat them to unite the entire map under your rule. Each king is very unique and the boss fights against them are very different and original. As you take more territory under your control you also start to experience earthquakes in the kingdom - a mysterious outside force seems to be at hand.

All the Kingdom's are ripe for the conquering!, I mean, Unifying!
The storyline is fairly simple, but lighthearted. Unite the kingdoms, save the princesses, spread your glory, and investigate the nature of a devastating outside force. The king's advisers and other unique characters in the kingdom add to storytelling and some funny cut scenes and situations.

Little King's Story did have a bit of frustrating elements. Sometimes the enemies and bosses are incredibly forgiving - instant kill knockouts that kill half or nearly all of your men left me in disbelief more than a few times. Mouth agape, I simply had to make sure I never let that happen again. Targeting enemies can be painful at times especially if they're close together or near other target-able things. Lastly, making sure all your followers stay together can be a pain at times, especially through narrow areas, and sometimes people fall way behind or are lost - though using the "evade" maneuver does relieve this a little bit.

Little King's Story was a joy to play despite it's few frustrations, but this little king would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed Pikmin or other games featuring unit management, exploration, and whimsy. It's time to move onto other video game pastures - next up, I think I'll take a crack at completing my Xenoblade Chronicles playthrough. :)

Halloween Good Times

This is a little overdue, but me and my girlfriend celebrated our first Halloween in our new house! It was exciting and fun and hectic, but also a letdown on the trick or treaters front!

We bought our first Halloween decorations together which included an inflatable pumpkin, and my parents found us an inflatable vampire minion! It was a hit with a lot of the kids (I could hear them outside... Not creepy at all!).

Isn't he frightfully adorable!
 Pumpkins were carved - right down to the last minute! A bit of mad scramble to get them done, but totally worth it. We carved a Minion, Rainbow Dash, Boo, and Patrick pumpkin!

We watched the traditional Nightmare before Christmas movie along with The Great Pumpkin, and Hocus Pocus. After the trick or treaters died down we went over to some friends and watched Paranorman while eating tons of sugary sweet things.

There were not that many trick or treaters in the complex, and unfortunately, not as many people handing out candy this year as there was the previous year. That all adds up to a pretty quiet neighborhood. Everytime there was a trick or treater we would scramble to the door - we weren't always ready - they were few and far between. We saw a Slenderman costume and an awesome Pinata costume though!

All in all it was an excellent Halloween! Now we just have to om nom nom all this leftover candy!

New Home!

Me and my girlfriend recently moved into our new house! We moved in on the 28th of September and it's been a bit of a hectic month. It's a big wonderful life step and we couldn't be happier!

There's so much that goes into a house that it took a while to get set up. Heat, electricity, internet, food, furnishings, clothing, electronics, and all manner of books and games. There's also setting up all your mailing addresses and changing your information on driver's licences and other id's. It's a busy time!

You also get a sense of just how much "stuff" you own - for better or worse. Thank goodness we had help loading and unloading it all. My girlfriend's computer desk just about killed 4 people trying to get it into the house. It's a beast! We even emptied that sucker and took all the drawers out... it's just a grade A solid beast of a desk. The sectional was a pain too... I'll never forget getting it stuck practically jammed in the doorway while desperately trying to hold it up while standing in a bush on the other side of a railing. Heh.

Pivot ended up being another word for "crush fingers."
My girlfriend and I have also been reducing the "things" we own and trying to just chuck things we don't need. It's amazing the junk you find when go through all your belongings - there are some treasures in there too! I found awesome/weird stickers and I have no idea what they are from or how I got them. They are disturbing and hilarious. 0_0

heh heh heh.
Another thing I learned from packing and unpacking is that there is a ton of cardboard involved. I literally filled an entire dumpster (one of those large recycling ones found outside most businesses) with cardboard. It's not just the boxes from all the stuff we packed up, but all the cardboard from the new things we bought for the house too. A few appliances, chairs, a table, a tv - we were the cardboard king and queen (not a title I'm eager to hold on to). The one benefit of the wide variety of cardboard was that I was able to make some handy cardboard storage slides for all of our games and a container for controllers etc.

Wooo! Awesome, easy storage!
While going through things and deciding what to keep or chuck it should be noted that I get very nostalgic. Almost every item has some history or story or memory attached to it - and sometimes it's time to just let it go. Nostalgia has been working in hyper-drive lately, but I've still managed to part with a fair chunk of things. It's worth it for marginally less clutter and storage around the house.

There's still some things to do in the house, replace the hot water tank, install garage shelving, and buy a basement storage unit, but it definitely feels more and more like home everyday!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Lychee Woopee!

Lychee. All I ever knew was that it was a flavour you could get when you ordered bubble tea. Sweet, cold, delicious bubble tea with those slimy gummy tapioca pearls at the bottom. Also, the straws are really fat so you can suck up all the delicious goopy tapioca and lychee flavour... mmm...

Mmmm... I want some now!
So, I typically get the lychee flavour when I get bubble tea, but I had no idea what a lychee was or anything about it at all. I knew it tasted good - and for the most part that was good enough for me! However, while shopping at the Real Canadian Superstore a little while ago I noticed something labeled lychee. Could it be? The fabled fruit of the flavour I enjoy sucking through large straws? It was!

...interesting... AND DELICIOUS!
Here is a lychee in all it's glory. It's kind of small, spiky, and the inside reminds me of a gooey eyeball. All that aside it actually tastes the same as the bubble tea. Rather, now I should say the bubble tea tastes just like the fruit! I picked some up and have been enjoying them. I'm getting better at opening them, and am thinking of saving some of the massive seeds to try and plant my own lychee plant. :)

Nice tree you got there...
Okay... so the tree is kind of big and I don't really have a space to plant one... but maybe one day. One day this can be mine!

They look awesome! So many!

Bravely Default Complete!

Whew, hoooo, whew, gulp, heh heh, whew...

I finally beat Bravely Default. The final bosses are - exhausting. I beat them though so they can go fly a kite because this guy is victorious! The game has been a joy to play on my 3DS and I've managed to craft myself a pretty kick butt team. Even so, it still took me around 2.5 hours to beat the final two bosses! I was pretty much watching Archer the whole time on Netflix, but still pretty focused on the task in hand. In the end of it all I've sunk about 96 hours into the game... wow. Impressive? Depressing? You decide. All I know is I had plenty of fun the whole time - though the ending was a little exhausting.

The story was great, the combat was fun and exciting, and the whole game just has an overall polish that really makes it stand out. There are so many subtle details from the way the cut scenes are layed out to the great voice acting of pretty much every character. Features like being able to increase or decrease and outright turn off the random encounters means when you want to simply get from point A to B you can unimpeded. Having a main job and another job's ability as well as support abilities for each character allows you to really customize how you fight. My team changed throughout the entire game. I'd definitely recommend it, and say look out for the next installment in the series - Bravely Second!

Here’s my final team setup!

Tiz's main job is Knight with the Freelancer second.
Equipment: Bloody Shield, Bloody Shield, Ribbon, Heike Armor, and Genji Gloves.
Support Abilities: BP Recovery, Dual Shields, Slow and Steady, P. Def 10% Up, and Armor Lore.
 He’s a super tank with the ability to cover his allies, withstand most blows to the whole group, and deal a considerable amount of damage thanks to super charge and mimic.

Agnes's main job is Black Mage with the Time Mage second.
Equipment: Demon's Rod, Wonder Rod, Gold Hairpin, Black Robe, and Soul of Thamasa.
Support Abilities: BP Recovery, In the Red, Black Magic Amp, Angelic Ward, and Absorb M. Damage.
She can deal a mean bunch of damage to a large group of enemies or single out targets and lay down some devestating magic. She also ensures I'm acting first with Hastega and reviving allies with Reraise.

Edea's main job is Pirate with the Swordmaster second.
Equipment: Earthbreaker, Royal Crown, White Robe, and Hyper Bracers.
Support Abilities: Hawkeye, Two-Handed, P. Attack 20% Up, and Slow and Steady.
Edea is in charge of either weakening the enemy with Pirate skills or physically crushing an opponent with Free Lunch and Amped Strike.

Ringabel's main job is Spiritmaster with the White Mage second.
Equipment: Gale Staff, Aegis Shield, Gold Hairpin, Luminous Robe, and Force Armlets.
Support Abilities: BP Recovery, Holy One, Angelic Ward, and Auto-Shell.
Without Ringabel the team would surely crumble. He's a dedicated healer and also keeps the group alive while BP replenishes. Stillness is a game saver.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

E3 Excitement and Disappointment

I was super excited for this year's E3, and for the most part there were a lot of exciting things announced and revealed! It's been a while now, but I haven't gotten around to talking about it yet.

A lot of new Starfox footage was shown and it looks like it will capture the feeling of original N64 game while providing some new experiences as well. The Arwing can transform into a walker of sorts and stroll around the ground blasting things and there are some other vehicles we'll get the chance to pilot as well. I never owned the N64 version, but did play it at a friend's a decent amount and always enjoyed the action, flying, and trying to find the silver and gold rings. Recently, I picked it up for the virtual console and I can't wait to give it a go before the new one comes out!

Super Mario Maker was also heavily featured and the more footage I saw the more I wanted to play it myself. Who knows what kind of crazy levels are going to be designed when it comes out. It looks fairly easy to use and to make your own levels, and the footage of people playing other people's levels is what was really getting me excited. The Nintendo World Championship 1st and 2nd placing was decided via Super Mario Maker and the levels the competitors had to play were intense and epic! Definitely going to pick this game up when it comes out.

There was a Mario Party like Animal Crossing game shown off as well. Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival. It kind of looks like the game of Life. I've heard the game might be free so I've held off on buying any pre-orders. The thing is you need Animal Crossing Amiibo to be able to play the game. So far I'm hoping this is the case because the game doesn't look all that interesting to me at the moment, but the amiibo look awesome! They've shown off a whole slew of new Animal Crossing amiibo that will be coming out.
Animal Crossing Festival

These and more are on their way!
During the Smash Bros Nintendo Direct video they also announced a ton of new stuff. This video was probably just as if not more exciting than Nintendo's whole showing at E3. Amiibos were announced for all the Mii Fighters as well as Game and Watch and others. The whole roster is almost complete... but they also announced some new Smash fighters as well. Ryu from Street Fighter and Roy from Fire Emblem have joined the fight! Lucas, we already knew about, was also released the same day and I love playing as him. :)

The new Xenoblade is also on it's way December 4th this year. Yoshi's Wolly World looks great and should be a fun cooperative game. Chibi-Robo Ziplash looks interesting, but I'm not completely sold on it yet. Another Bravely game, Bravely Second, is coming to the 3DS - the first game was awesome so I'm already sold. Typoman looks interesting and kind of reminds me of Limbo. The new Fire Emblem is more of exactly what I want! Lastly, a new Mario Tennis will hopefully capture the original N64's appeal.

I'm totally into Nintendo stuff, but there was also some exciting non-Nintendo stuff announced as well. Fallout 4 is on it's way and has an impressive crafting system. A new Star Wars Battlefront looks incredible - I remember enjoying the multiplayer on the Xbox. Horizon Zero Dawn on the PS4 is mind blowing. Cuphead looks like an awesome platformer in the style of classic mickey mouse cartoons. The new Kingdom Hearts looks super sweet as well.

The only really big disappointment was the lack of any information on the new Zelda for the Wii U. I thought, surely, there would be some information - even a tiny glimpse, but alas there was not a whiff of it. The release date is still slated for some time in 2016, but for a Zelda game I'd anticipate some delays. I don't mind the delays if it means a more complete and fun game! In the meantime, here's a clip that was released ages ago.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Extra! Extra! The Lettuce is out of Control!

The garden is doing great so far, but the lettuce is taking over! It's a hostile plant which has finally shown its true bloodthirsty nature... Random lettuce patches attacked in various parts of the garden. We gathered them up and got them back in line, but they are growing. Their power is astonishing. Do not anger the lettuce.

The radishes are all done and I'm happy to say we got a decent amount, but did lose a lot of them to some hungry hungry bugs. (I'll find you pesky bugs, and I'll politely ask you to go eat someone else's plants thank you very much). The power hungry lettuce army has since taken the radishes spot in the garden.

The hot peppers are shortly trudging along after a month or two of slow growth. They are still growing and I can tell they are getting bigger. Still no peppers though... Sigh. I just want to put spicy things in my mouth.

We've also been getting some handfuls of strawberries lately which is exciting! They taste delicious and awesome and yummy in my tummy! Ooo ya! Go strawberries! Mathematical!