Thursday, February 23, 2017

Rustled Jimmies: Adding Cards Where They Don't Belong

Ghost here and thanks for joining me today.


So here's something that irritates me

You're playing a video game and you find it to be pretty amazing.  You love the story, the game play, the characters, and practically everything about it.  A few months/years down the road you hear of a new entry into the series.  Since you adored the first one, you'd be crazy not to pick up the next game.  You start the game and find familiarity with the characters and world.  You're just about to get into the game and the fast-paced action you are used to from the previous entry and WHAT'S THIS??? Suddenly any traction that the game has is brought to a grinding halt and whoever/whatever is explaining combat begins to pull out a playing card and explain the use of playing cards during combat.

*sigh*....... where to begin?  Let's use one of my favorite whipping boys, Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories, and more recently the slow agonizing death that has fallen upon the Paper Mario series. 

Those of you who know me or read this blog know that I love everything about the Kingdom Hearts series with the exception of Chain of Memories (and kind of Dream Drop Distance but that is more of a personal annoyance with the time limits...anyway back to what I was saying).  Chain of Memories has been a particular thorn in my side for the last 13 years.  I could easily have let it slide and forgotten about it during those years but Square keeps bringing the stupid game back up every 5 years or so.  Kingdom Hearts was a great adventure with some nice semi-button-mashy controls that were easy to use and fun to master.  For the follow up game, let's take ALL that fun and ease and chuck it right out the window to be replaced by battle cards.  These battle cards are limited in number and function, run out and you have to replenish them, or can disappear entirely from combat if you need to use a more powerful attack...which you need to do fairly often.  The ease of playing is replaced by tedious card buying, organizing, and wasting time trying to plan your cards to sit in a certain way which takes a university level genius to actually plan successfully or else you'll be eternally unable to beat the final boss of the first half of the game.

Then we have Paper Mario... specifically Paper Mario Color Splash.  I'm not sure who at Nintendo has a cactus up their anal cavity when it comes to the Paper Mario series but they really need to cut it out.  Paper Mario used to be a charismatic set of games with some nice simple turn-based combat that most people seemed to love.  However, it's almost like someone went "Hey, you know that turn-based combat we've given the game that is slow by nature?  Yeah let's find a way to make that more obnoxious and even slower!"  The bad started with Paper Mario Sticker Star when the usual attacking commands were replaced by one-use stickers and everyone hated it.  Paper Mario Color Splash took that criticism.... and ignored it entirely to make everything worse.  The old simple combat of attack an enemy then defend for a turn now consists of the following; choose a single-use battle card from your hand, drag that battle card to a portion of the screen, use paint to color the card as much as you like to increase the damage output of the card.. provided you have collected paint to do so, choose a target, and finally flip the card towards the TV screen to start your attacking phase.  Do I even need to explain why this is a bad idea?

Cards in Video Games done right
Adding cards to combat is always a terrible idea.  The two ideas do not belong whatsoever and do nothing but make combat far more tedious and stressful than it should be.  Fast paced action is turned into insanely slow and meticulous planning.  It turns game franchises that used to be fun into a dying wasteland.  Kingdom Hearts learned from their mistake... sort of as they abandoned that for future games but keep releasing chain of memories in its original combat form.  Paper Mario seems to have not gotten the hint that adding cards where they don't belong is a horrible thing.  Cards in video games should be set aside for actual card games in video form (Solitaire, Pokemon TCG), collectables for the game, or as side content that can be ignored completely if you wish such as playing Caravan in Fallout New Vegas.  Any game executive or game developer who voices the idea of adding card based combat to a game should not only be fired on the spot but deserves a surprise colonoscopy with a steel boot!

So.... that's something that mildly annoys me occasionally.

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If you want to see my other Rustled Jimmies rants then simply click here.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Ghost's Arcade: Pokemon Sun and Moon


Ghost here blah blah spoilers and such let's talk about Pokemon.

On November 18, 2016, Pokemon Sun and Moon were released to end the year-long celebration of Pokemon's 20th Anniversary.  It had a whole lot to live up to and with the promises of exciting gameplay, traveling around a region based on Hawaii, and experiencing a different kind of adventure from the usual setup that every main entry game for the last 20 years has followed.

I'll be honest with you all.  I kind of didn't want to do this one because my feelings about these two games have fluctuated nonstop since I got them.  I knew this would be a tough write and I kept putting it off.  However, one must eventually pay the piper and since I've reviewed every main Pokemon game that's been released since I started doing reviews, I guess I'll just need to buckle down and do this one as well.

The Story

You and your mother have just moved to Melemele Island in the Alola Region.  You meet with the local Professor Kukui who takes you to meet the island's leader, Kahuna Hala.  While looking for the Kahuna, you find a young girl named Lillie and a very strange looking pokemon, Cosmog, which she has named Nebbie.  Nebbie is being attacked by a group of spearow and doesn't seem to be able to defend itself.  As you go to rescue Nebby, the bridge that you are standing on collapses and you plunge towards the river below.  However, the pair of you are saved by the island's guardian, a pokemon called Tapu Koko, who provides you with a strange rock.  This rock, when modified by Kahuna Hala, allows you to use Z-moves.  Z-moves are a sort of dance maneuver you perform to bring out the hidden potential in your pokemon.  You receive your starting pokemon and embark upon the Island Challenge along side Lillie, Nebbie, and Hala's grandson Hau.  In the Alola Region, young trainers go around to the four islands and complete tasks and battle-driven challenges against seven trial captains and the four Kahunas in order to become closer to your pokemon.

You continue to travel through the islands of  Melemele, Akala, and Ula'ula as you take on the trial captains and kahunas one by one. Sooner than you think, you will encounter the villain team of this game in the form of Team Skull lead by a man named Guzma.  These street thugs try to steal pokemon or just generally be a nuisance and act like hooligans.  They are working with a young man named Gladion who owns a very strange pokemon named Type Null.  There seems to be more to this Gladion guy than meets the eye.  Eventually you assist Branch Chief Faba of the Aether Foundation against a member of Team Skull trying to steal slowpoke.  Faba invites you to the Aether Foundation where they have set up a preserve for abandoned and abused pokemon.  Their leader, Lusamine wishes for the pokemon there to feel love and be safe.  While you are meeting with Lusamine in Aether Paradise, a strange jellyfish-looking creature appears from a wormhole in space briefly before vanishing.

As you continue your trials, Gladion warns you that Team Skull is after a pokemon named Cosmog When the pokemon of a young girl actually gets stolen, you head to Po Town, a town entirely ruled by Team Skull, to get it back.  This turns out to be a plot to get you away from Lillie and Nebbie as the pair are kidnapped and taken to Aether Paradise.  You, Gladion, and Hau storm Aether Paradise where you discover they have been experimenting on pokemon, had created Type Null from various pokemon parts.  They are planning to use Nebbie's potential power to open the wormhole again for the strange creatures known as Ultra Beasts.  Lusamine is revealed to actually be Gladion and Lillie's mother but is so obsessed with the Ultra Beasts that she refuses to listen to her children and goes with Guzma into another universe with the jellyfish Ultra Beast. Nebbie is found to have survived the ordeal but has evolved into a motionless creature.

You, Lillie, Nebbie, and Hau embark to Poni Island to track down the ancient legend about the pokemon of the Sun/Moon who was said to be able to travel across universes.  You complete your final trial and Kahuna battle and eventually make it to an ancient altar.  As you and Lillie play a tune on the sacred flutes, Nebbie evolves into Solgaleo/Lunala and takes the pair of you to the alternate universe.  While there you meet up with Guzma and the three of you discover Lusamine now being taken over by the jellyfish Ultra Beast.  You defeat the possessed Lusamine but the poison of the ultra beast is still in her body causing her to be extremely weak.  Solgaleo/Lunala return everyone to their normal universe.  It is at this point, you take on the newly created Elite Four and become the first champion of the Alola region.  Lillie takes her mom to see Bill in Kanto hoping his experiments could rid her mother of the poison, while you continue to defend your champion title and work with Looker of the international police to neutralize the Ultra Beasts that entered the world because of Lusamine's meddling.

The Pokemon

As usual, it's time to take a semi-comedic look at this game's offering for new pokemon.  Pokemon Sun and Moon actually gave us several new creatures as there are 83 new pokemon, 7 ultra beasts, and 18 new regional variants of older pokemon.




Someone needs to listen to a little less My Chemical Romance





This is a thing of beauty and grace which is based on female Japanese Pop Idols.  The problem?  There's an 87.5% probability of it being male.






"We will make Kanto Great Again!"





You mean to tell me that we waited 7 generations for THIS?  The company that created a fish that turns into a dragon has decided that our first toucan and koala pokemon would be.... just a toucan and a koala?  LAME Gamefreak, lame




Looks like Toad has seen some better days.






As if this series doesn't give Rule 34 artists enough to draw, let's include Sexy Plant and Sexy Cockroach in the mix..... *sigh*  I don't even...





OMG This thing looks freaking amazing!!!  It's too bad his ability makes him kinda crap.  Seriously though, look at this magnificent specimen!




I swear.  I wish they would stop trying to reinvent Pikachu.  We have pikachu, baby pikachu, the discount pikachu twins, squirrel pikachu, flying squirrel pikachu, and fairy pikachu already.  We didn't need them (except Emolga who was awesome) and we don't need this.




WHAT DID YOU DO TO PERSIAN???  Alolan Meowth looked glamorous then you have this thing which looks like it got stung by a bee and had an allergic reaction.





I'd love to know who took a look at the shiny form of Alolan Graveler and thought this was a good idea.  That shade of brown with yellow bits in?  It's crap... LITERALLY a turd ball with corn in it.




I'm not even going to bother making fun of the Ultra Beasts because....
yeah just WTF

What's Good About It?

Team Skull is an absolute gem!  I'm not joking about this in any way.  These guys are fantastic and are easily the best villain team that we've seen to date.  This is not because of their plan or their evil nature... it's actually because of how ridiculous they are.  These guys are basically a dysfunctional family of street thugs.  They talk big but are mostly pretty stupid.  For example, several of them speak as if they are rapping to you.  Others talk big then run off quickly... one in particular steps up for a battle then is like "nah I'm not an idiot.  You can pass."  There are a pair of grunts who stay in the Pokemon Center in Po Town and even though you are invading their territory, they will heal your pokemon for cheap.  That's not to mention the one trying to warn his buddy that they are being invaded while the other is oblivious and thinking the former is noticing how good looking he is.  They are absolutely hilarious and they steal the show during every section they are in.  I haven't even mentioned their sort of mother figure with Plumeria or their leader Guzma who is the first threatening (and not weird) bug-type user we've ever had.  Seriously, these guys are the best.

Japan has a love for Hawaii and it's seen very clearly in these games.  The graphics of these games have been upgraded significantly.  As such the scenery everywhere is absolutely gorgeous.  Even drab things like caves or buildings looks beautiful in these games. Also, as part of the upgraded graphics, you and your opponent also appear on the screen when you are in the middle of a battle which is fun



As a side note: Lillie and Hau are awesome... as is Professor Kukui.  I don't really want to make this any longer than I already have, but I just have to say that Hau is brilliantly optimistic, Lillie goes through a transformation of her own that makes you love her to death, and Kukui is just insane and awesome.  They are legitimately good characters!

The ghost-type trial is actually pretty great.  As a lover of ghost-type pokemon, I loved this trial.  Basically you are inside of an abandoned store with the music skipping and being creepy.  As you walk through the store, various things start moving, rattling or shaking on their own and you have to track down the ghosts causing these things to happen.  This whole time you see brief glimpses of a pikachu running ahead of you.  Eventually you end up in a back room that doesn't exist with tons of pikachu photos all over the wall.  When you turn around, there is the trial's totem pokemon standing there ready to fight you.  Now this is Nintendo scary we're talking about here and not anything like Silent Hill or Resident Evil but it's a step in the right direction to something unnerving.  I legitimately enjoyed this one.

In fact,  the trials are a nice little change to formula.  Running around stopping wild pokemon, finding ingredients for a meal, investigating a waterfall, a trial about dance.  It was all unique...well sort of unique... well.... not really.  That leads me directly into the next section

What's Bad About It?

On the surface, the trials appear different than the old gym battles with you having to partake in trials about food, dance, picture taking, and testing out electronic equipment.  However you get into your first trial and things seem familiar.  In previous titles, your first gym battle consisted of fighting a couple trainers then taking on the more powerful gym leader.  In your first trial you... fight against 3 wild pokemon then fight against the more powerful totem pokemon of the area.  While it is different it's still kind of similar.  However it gets worse in a way when you start to looking at each trial in relation to each other.  The first trial is fighting 3 pokemon and a totem in a cave.  The second trial is you swimming and fishing across ponds where you fight 3 pokemon and a totem.  The third trial is watching a dance where you fight a wild pokemon, a trainer, and a totem.  The fourth trial is you finding items in a forest where... you fight 3 pokemon and a totem. Trial six is also 3 pokemon and a totem while trials five and seven break the mold entirely by being.... fight TWO pokemon and a totem   It's basically changing the window dressing on the same old thing over and over.  Once you notice it, you can't unsee it. 

One of the main things you do in a pokemon game is capture pokemon.  This should be something that you don't mess with, but this game makes the cardinal sin of screwing it up!  Catching pokemon is an absolute chore in this game.  To start off with I noticed that pokemon have a much lower capture rate in this game than in previous titles.  I don't have any concrete data to back up that claim but I've had more pokemon break out of pokeballs in these games alone than I have in the previous 20 years of playing the games.  Not only that but they have included something called S.O.S. battles.  S.O.S. battles were included as part of the totem pokemon battles to make the fight more difficult as they can call for help.  HOWEVER once you have completed the first trial, EVERY pokemon has the chance of calling for help.  That wouldn't be a big deal except they haven't updated the catching mechanic.  You can only capture a pokemon if it's the only one on the field.  Not only that but the lower health that a pokemon has, the higher chance it has to call for help.  I have spent 20 solid minutes trying to capture a single pokemon because it called for help EVERY turn and 9 times out of 10 the help would appear.  The one time help wouldn't appear, the pokemon would break out of the ball despite being at 1 HP and paralyzed.  To add more insult to injury there are some pokemon which ONLY appear during S.O.S. battles and at that only appear 5% of the time during these random chances.  This means that not only must you keep the original pokemon alive for multiple turns but it could take 40 minutes or longer in a single battle just to get a chance at maybe finding the one you want.  When it takes me 5 minutes to capture a level 3 pokemon after I've beaten the Elite 4 there's a BIG issue.

There's a long standing tradition with pokemon since Gold and Silver, and that is the inclusion of a National Dex.  It's always been a tedious but fun part of the game to try to fill up the National Dex so that you have every single pokemon ever released.  It's fun to read through the new pokedex entries for old creatures and compare them etc.  It's a key part of the game which most people enjoy.  When it comes to Pokemon Sun and Moon, we noticed that there was an Alolan Pokedex but no National Dex.  Around this same time, we were informed that the Pokemon Bank would be updated to allow use with Sun and Moon.  We waited patiently for this update to happen in January 2017 as we were sure the necessary update would add the National Dex.  It didn't.  The Pokemon Bank was effectively the National Dex though there is NO actual dex part by going that route.  Honestly it made me feel as though catching one of every single pokemon and variant in the months leading up to this game's release was a gigantic waste of time.

A new feature of this game was the Festival Plaza.  It's a way to gain extra "currency" without having to deal with the grueling Battle Tree or any of that nonsense.  It's a way to have fun, get items, play some repetitive games, deal with online interactions and personalize your own area.  It's a pretty fun and cool feature to have added.  If I'm saying all these positive things about the feature then why is it in the bad section?  Well that's quite simply because almost NOTHING is explained about it.  It feels like it was an idea that was really rushed out and took too long to implement so they figured "eh we'll just let them figure it out as they go."  The game doesn't inform you that the online interactions like trading and battling are only accessed through the Festival Plaza forcing me to spend half an hour looking for it to only be told by an online post where it even was.  The game does tell you how to talk to people and how to place new stores in your plaza as there was a blank spot left.  I assumed you got more spots with your ranks up... NOPE you just replace the old ones and the game doesn't tell you.  The game also doesn't tell you that the construction man who is there to help with buildings DOES NOT hold a record of what you used to have to rebuild if you want it.  What you have is what you have unless you rank up and get offered another store at random.  Since I didn't know this, I replaced something I still kind of wanted with something I didn't know what it was (because the game doesn't explain what the new shops are either)  so when I went to get back my old one, the construction man is only able to swap the actual location of one of the shops you have with another....so he's useless.  Thank God for Serebii and their dedication to unmucking this mess.   It's fun but I wish there was a better tutorial somewhere in-game.

Conclusion

As I said at the beginning, my opinion about these games has constantly fluctuated since their release.  When I first picked it up I was having a blast and couldn't wait to start my adventure.  When the S.O.S. battles started I began to really dislike the game a lot.  Then I got to the meat of the story and was having fun again.  Then I started seeing some of the other problems with it and I got disappointed.  Then I got to the Elite 4 and the champion battle where I learned that subsequent trips to the Elite 4 have you being challenged as the champion.  It was amazing and I was having fun once more!  Then I got to the Battle Tree and I honestly couldn't care less.

I honestly don't know how to feel about it.  It's simultaneously fun and infuriating.  It's a change from the norm but still kind of the same.  I really loved Team Skull, but I also really hated how the messed around with the mechanics of catching pokemon.  It's something that I'm very glad I played but also didn't really bother to even finish the Elite 4 on my copy of Moon which I played second.  If you're a pokemon fan you'll love it and chances are you've already bought it.  If you haven't yet, then I still recommend getting one of the versions just to keep going with the adventure but I also pass on a warning that this is probably the most frustrating pokemon game I've played outside of a couple fan games that were intentionally made to make your life difficult.

I just... I don't know so I'll just leave it there.

This is Ghost, fading into the darkness.
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If you want to see my other Video Game discussions and reviews, click here!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Rustled Jimmies: One Quest at a Time

Ghost here, and thanks for joining me today.

With a brand new year comes a brand new segment that I've decided to call "Rustled Jimmies."  I've called it that because I lack creativity and I enjoy that gorilla meme more than I probably should.  Anyway... basically this is a shorter set of posts that will just pop up randomly when I feel like complaining about things that will, most likely, not be important at all.  It's kind of like Jim Sterling's Nitpick Theater except, also most likely, not as funny.  This doesn't necessarily have to be about video games though I guarantee most of them will be.  Hope you enjoy my informal rantings as often as they show up.

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So here's something that irritates me.

You are playing a video game that you are quite enjoying.  You've decided to take your time with it and really soak up the atmosphere of this fantastic game.  As you play, you discover a way to do some side missions for this game.  Since side quests can be an excellent way to gain additional items, gain experience, or lengthen the play time of a game, you decide to take part of the side mission offerings.  You take a look at the message board, wanted list, or whatever format the game may offer this side content and... WHAT'S THIS????  Despite your full intention on doing all of the side missions, you are hindered from taking more than one of them at a time for no foreseeable reason whatsoever.

While this sort of thing has always annoyed me, it came to the forefront of my mind over my Christmas break.  I received a Playstation 4 for Christmas along with several games.  Two of these games were Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth and Final Fantasy XV... and you guessed it!  Both of these games, while being very good games, have chosen to only allow you one case (Digimon) or one hunt (FFXV) at a time. Now you may be asking yourself why this is such an irritation.  Well, I'll gladly tell you!

You know what actively makes for engaging content?  When you actually get to do things that enhance the story, make your life easier, increase challenge, or add to the lore of the universe.  You know what absolutely doesn't make for engaging content?  Wasting precious time walking back and forth across the same exact pathway over and over until my thumbs want to bleed.  Time which could be spent doing literally anything else more fun.  This drudgery is the majority of your experience doing side missions when someone on the development team decides that it's a good idea to only allow you to have one side mission at a time.  Lets talk specific examples so you can really feel what I'm talking about.

In Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth you have a whiteboard which has various cases for you to investigate and take on.  You have to make your way to the detective agency in the back area of the mall, pick a case from the white board in the back of the room, head into the digital space (or wherever the case takes place), solve the case, head back to the detective agency and investigate the white board to close the case... which starts the whole process all over again.  This option was apparently chosen as more beneficial despite the fact that all available cases at a single time are given to you in bulk and can be taken on in any order.  With this being the case, one would think you should be able to grab all of them and complete them at once but apparently that's NOT beneficial for some reason unknown to man.  Similarly, Final Fantasy XV has side content where you must go to various diners, take on one of several monster hunts available, walk all the way to where the mission takes place, walk all the way back to the diner to close the mission and do the process over again instead of just grabbing all the missions and making a singular trip out to maximize time and experience.  The main difference with FFXV as opposed to Digimon is that the monster hunt missions increase in difficulty and many of the hunts available you can't take on when you first encounter that diner.   While that does help with only picking one at a time, that also creates an entirely different problem as now you have to not only take one mission at a time but now you have to remember where every diner is, waste gas to travel across the whole region to get back when you're at a much higher level and then STILL only take on one at a time!

Why is it that I'm having to waste literal minutes out of my play experience to walk back and forth when I shouldn't have to?  I don't get this sort of incompetence with a Bethesda title.  You can pick up as many side missions in Fallout and The Elder Scrolls as you please and are at full liberty to take them on in any order you like.  "Now hang on", you may be saying.  "There's a very real possibility that the side content you are complaining about doesn't get generated in-game until you actually take on the quest hence the need to do them one by one so two quests don't accidentally spawn on top of each other or something."   Yes, that may very well be true, but that doesn't necessarily mean we need to be required to waste our time traveling back and forth to the area of origin to collect and turn back in side missions over and over.  Games should just allow us to collect all of them at once and restrict us to only activating one at a time if they don't get generated until we take the quest on.  This would eliminate the waste of time and make for a better experience overall.

So...that's something that mildly annoys me occasionally.

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If you want to see my other Rustled Jimmies rants then simply click here.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Best Quotes of 2016

Hello Everyone,
Another year has passed us by and many people are thankful to see the backside of 2016.  For me, 2016 was more of a "blah" year.  It just sort of existed as nothing particularly fantastic nor particularly horrid happened throughout this year.  It just... was.  As such I'm going to forego any sort of yearly update on things that happened and get straight to why you all are here.

This is my collection of quotes and dialogue gathered throughout this past year.  As per usual I will not be providing names for any of these quotes nor will I include the context involved (with one exception.)  So without further ado, I give you

The Best Quotes of 2016

"Or lighten up. Like me and u. We follow Jesus but don't act holier than thou about it.  So we can talk about NSFW things and not look like hippos"

"So he kills an Egyptian and runs cause that's one thing you can do when you kill someone...run."

"Because nothing says bi*** like a slutty, cheaply made Chinese cat."

"When the cat's away, the mice go gay?"

"If you wanna win that girl, just get them a sheep because sheep are cute and cuddly and... delicious."

"Here's some words that start with D and they aren't good words."

"Level 14 can go screw itself in a hole in the corner of a room on the top floor of a burning building during the apocalypse with 'Friday' blaring on repeat!"

"That's kind of messed up... me as the female character, I had to blow the butler."

"It was so damp that a bar of soap was all..... soap wet nasty."

"I promise I won't shave any of you."

"I have photos coming out my a**."

"It's called the spray and pray method of emailing.  Just send emails to everyone and hopefully someone who cares will receive it."

"I want to apologize to the people in my discipleship group because we've already covered this but you're probably still prideful so..."

Person 1: When I get to heaven, the first thing I'm gonna do after worshiping Jesus and seeing my friends and family is punch Adam in his stupid face for causing us to have yard work to do!
Person 2: LMFAO  Who's Adam?  OH wait  Adam and Eve.
Person 1: LOL yeah that Adam.  There may be a line for that butt whoopin though.  That would be a funny twist.  The first 20 odd years would be dedicated to everyone getting a whoopin (though feeling no pain because heaven) for everything stupid they did/caused :P
Person 2: And then your job in heaven will be yard work.  All because at the Bema seat, Jesus sees this convo right here  lmfao
Person 1: Probably cause that's my luck.  Well I guess if I'm taking the butt whoopin I'm gonna make it worth it LOL
Person 2: But at least in heaven your back won't hurt while doing yard work.
Person 1:  Truth.  No heat exhaustion, no pain, no tired.  I'd be fine with yard work under those conditions.

"I wasn't sure when I would be free from the clutches of the underwear."

"I ate all the chocolate because Mom keeps feeding it to me and I don't appreciate it."

"Goldfish aren't cheese flavored *looks at box*.... oh"

"Wait, you don't put water on electrical fires?  ...OOOHH"

"Immigration is stupid"  (said during Apples to Apples... I figured I should explain that before anyone has a heart attack)

"Hey ummm guess what Mistew Wes.  I'm a wainbow!  and.. and I went up in a wocket ship into outew space!"

"You know it's good if you fight Satan"

"If you can't tell, I'm looking forward to this weekend about as much as I would be looking forward to a hydraulic press to the genitals."

"Sometimes when life gets you down, there is no better stress reliever than going into a virtual world and killing anything in sight."

"You gotta take a shot every time they say the N-word in this game.... OH LOOK there's two more ni..uuuuuuummmm I mean two more shots!"

"Do you think ants have names?

"You know, Pokemon has done more for Downtown Kingsport than Downtown Kingsport has done for itself in the last twenty years."

"I've got five minutes and thirty six seconds left of this incest... INCENSE!!!!"

"Y'all going for that gym?  POLIWRATH GON' GIT YA!"

"I feel like there's 20 midgets in my head playing bongos."

"This dog does not have a butthole...this game SUCKS"

"Is penii the plural for penis or is it penises?  I've never known how to pluralize male anatomy.  That's why I don't go to orgies.  Well that and Jesus."

"It smelled like rotten a** death.  Like the a** of a hippo had fallen off in my dishwasher and decayed to a slimy substance that had then been baked in a 400 degree oven with a fan to spread the smell around.  That's how it smelled."

"If I ever go out of the country, I want to go to Connectica... Connecticut.. NO CANADA!"

"I'm not the boss of you?  Oh honey, you need to go back about fifteen years and check yourself because I wear the skirt... the pants in this family."

"If someone shoots and kills me I want them to have SEVERE PTSD."

Person 1: "I think it's in Arizona or something." 
Person 2: "F***ing Jamaican people!"
Person 1: "...WHAT DOES JAMAICA HAVE TO DO WITH ARIZONA???"

"The next level is Arabic so you can guarantee it will be an accurate representation of India or wherever Arabia is."

"It's a Chinese Buffet of spirituality."

"Other companies have been around for over a hundred years.  I won't mention these companies by name because some are in competition with us, so I hate them."

"When you're doing that with a client, magic actually happens."

"Today it was like everywhere I went there was a gnat, and I started getting paranoid that they were coming FROM me."

"Well, I did like you all and voted yesterday.  God please forgive me.  I told the lady working there that I went to work this morning to help the economy, went to donate blood to help the sick, and now I'm here for the mentally ill."

"Congratulations.  Be lifted up today.  Prepare for the pain."

"The controls are so bad it's like trying to butter corn with your d***."

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There you have it.  That was my fantastic look back at 2016.  I'll be collecting everyone's quotes through 2017 and see you again here next year

Have an awesome day!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Ghost in the Case: The Legend of Zelda

"Well excuuuuuse me, Princess."

Ghost here!  Thanks for joining me today for yet another


There is a legend passed down from the ancient world of the 1980's about a series of cartoons most foul.  A series that is mocked and ridiculed by all who watch it.   A series that attempts to follow the source material in some aspects, but completely deviate from it in other.  It is a series so heinous that it has most likely doomed the franchise from ever being seriously considered to appear on television again.  I am, of course, talking about The Legend of Zelda.

The 80's were a strange time to be alive and I'm not entirely certain whether or not I'm happy that I was too young to remember most of it.  It was only during that special and weird time that some of the stranger, darker, and more amazing shows and movies for children were produced.  This would definitely fall in the "stranger" category.  Towards the end of this decade came a little show called The Super Mario Bros Super Show which depicted Nintendo's Mario and Luigi characters in real life.  The Mario Brothers would basically bumble about and meet celebrity guests.  The middle segment of the show was dedicated to a 15-minute Super Mario Bros cartoon.  However, every Friday from Sept 8, 1989 to Dec 1, 1989, a Legend of Zelda cartoon was played instead.

I had actually heard of this cartoon's existence, though mostly due to the "Well excuuuuuse me, princess" comments that fellow nerds would make.  However, I had never actually seen the show until October 2016.  I was walking around my local FYE and happened to see the entire 13 episode series for 6 dollars and grabbed it for a friend's Christmas package.  Instead of sending it unopened, I watched the series first and it was just too...uh... interesting not to actually review.  So let's grab our swords and magic boomerangs and see what The Legend of Zelda has to offer!

The Plot

The young hero Link is now living in Hyrule Castle with Princess Zelda, King Harkinian, and a fairy named Spryte.  He has been employed by the royal family to protect Zelda and the Triforce of Wisdom from the evil sorcerer Ganon.  Ganon, who resides in the Underworld, is currently in possession of the Triforce of Power and desires to take over the world.  If either party obtains both of the Triforces they will have ultimate power in all of the land.  The majority of episodes are very formulaic and generally involve something going on in the castle.  It is then that Ganon initiates a plan to steal the Triforce.  Ultimately Link and Zelda will then have to travel to the Underworld in order to stop Ganon and his minions.

That's honestly about it.  The episodes aren't exactly the same as Ganon will use different tactics as well as call upon minions and boss characters from the original Legend of Zelda and Zelda II games.  That being said, the main plot and ideas of the show re-appear from episode to episode.  Almost every episode can be summed up by the previous paragraph.  There are a couple episodes that break that format but I'll talk about them later.

What's Good About It?

Zelda isn't just a damsel in distress.  She's not necessarily the true hero as Link does occasionally have to rescue her and she does tend to scream a lot, but she does play an active role in the adventures of the episode.  In almost every episode, she accompanies Link into the Underworld.  She will also fight off the villains using magic from the Triforce of Wisdom as well as magic boomerangs and crossbows.  In fact, once or twice it her her decision to face Ganon and Link has to trail behind her.  She's a far more progressive Zelda than we will see in the games till Ocarina of Time shows up in 1998.  She's not quite "Zelda" and I'll get to that in the next section, but it's always great to see Zelda being more than a prize or quest goal.

While the show is extremely formulaic, there are two episodes that break the mold.  These episodes would be "Fairies in the Spring" and "The Moblins are Revolting."  During all of the other episodes, the same sort of events take place where Ganon causes trouble or sends minions to steal the Triforce and Link/Zelda stop the plan.  "Fairies in the Spring" revolves around the King wanting to make a water park (yes it's stupid) and water monsters begin attacking the workers.  The water monsters turn out to actually be fairies scaring off the people because the water park was draining the Fairy Spring nearby.  Ganon is not seen in this episode at all.  "The Moblins are Revolting" is about Ganon's minions deciding to mutiny.  They toss Ganon down a bottomless pit and take on Hyrule Castle themselves.  Despite their best efforts, they are simply too inept without his leadership to actually do anything other than destroy each other.  They aren't amazing episodes or anything but it's nice to see them do something a little more unique with the show.

What's Bad About It?

The overall quality of the show is... honestly bad.  While the animation isn't terrible, there are many other aspects that cause the show to fail.  The voice acting isn't that good, the writing is cliche and tired, and the plot recycles itself in almost every single episode.  We're talking 11 out of 13 episodes are incredibly similar to each other, not in feel but in the general actions.  There is also a multitude of examples where the show just flat doesn't make sense at all even in the world they built.  For example, there is an episode where Hyrule Castle gets tossed into the Underworld.  Link and Zelda then find a stairway to the Underworld to save the King and the others.  They confront Ganon and defeat him causing the machine which kept Hyule Castle below ground to reverse.  Zelda attempts to get the Triforce of Power and stop Ganon for good.  Instead of doing this, Link states that there isn't time, picks up Zelda, and hops into the Castle to return to Hyrule.  One question here... HOW IS THERE NO TIME??  The show clearly has staircases to the Underground littered all over Hyrule so that anyone can just waltz to and from the place freely.  Why didn't they just grab the Triforce and head back the way they originally came?  I realize that would have ended the show before its time, and I realize it's only a fifteen minute cartoon for kids but a little extra effort would have gone a very long way.

While Link and Zelda are present in the show, these characters are not Link or Zelda.  Now, I do fully understand that in 1989 they didn't exactly have an exhaustive list of games to pull characterizations from.  I am making these observations from 30 years after the original game and possibly have a clearer understanding of what these characters should be like than the creators would have at the time.  That said, I'm fairly certain that turning Link and Zelda into stereotypical 80's kids with attitude was never a good idea.  Link is a fairly lazy, hormone driven knuckle head who constantly tries to get Zelda to kiss him and incessantly shouts his catchphrase of "well, excuuuuse me, princess."  We get the "pleasure" of hearing that a LOT as he shouts it 29 times in 13 episodes.  Zelda is more of a low-key valley girl in this instance... sort of.  She's harder for me to describe really outside of stereotypical 80's girl but without gadgets and big hair.  I don't know, she's not too awful but she certainly doesn't give off that Princess of Hyrule vibe.

You want to know when I realized that these cartoons were as bad as everyone said?  It was as early as episode two.  I try to give a show the benefit of a doubt with the first episode as first episodes are hard.  Writers and actors are coming in to this brand new so I try to give more than one episode of a show just to see how well they can grow into the series.  Sadly, when Episode 2 was finished, I knew it was hopeless.  In "Cold Spells" Ganon causes mischief and actually gets his hands on the Triforce of Wisdom.  He then takes it to the Underworld and has both of the triforces completely in his possession.  According to the show, that would give him ultimate power.  Instead of giving him ultimate power it basically does nothing as Link shows up, shoots Ganon twice with his magic sword and kills him.  I don't mean wound, I mean kill him because he disappears completely just like characters do in the game when they die.  Zelda somehow has time to nab her triforce but not Ganon's literally feet away, then for the ending scene it is revealed that Ganon is not actually dead.  Instead he's stuck in a jar of evil and will most likely be out for the next episode ....WHAT?  So you're telling me Ganon won.  He got ultimate power but the ultimate power did absolutely nothing and then he died but "lol jk not really" so that he could come back next episode?  Yeah that's when I knew exactly the level of bad I was in for.

Things of Interest
Here's a short list of funny or interesting things in the episodes. 



Link wears this outfit to impress Zelda.









Link apparently wears heart covered boxers?










In one episode, Link's body is taken to the Underworld but his spirit is stuck behind.  Only Zelda can see him.  Whether they did this intentionally or not, this idea was basically re-created in opposite for The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks 20 years later.  During that game, Zelda's spirit leaves her body and only Link can see her.






There is no mention of the Triforce of Courage which Link possesses.  I'm not sure if this was an oversight or if the Triforce of Courage didn't exist in the lore of the games in 1989.... and yes I'm too lazy to look it up.







Link makes the following statement about Zelda.  "She's not worth rescuing but I'm doing it anyway."






Conclusion

I really hate saying that something is truly bad in my conclusions.  Any film or TV series is a miniature miracle that it even exists with all the hoops you have to jump through in order to get it on the screen.  However, the truth of the matter is, the Legend of Zelda cartoon series is bad... really bad.  It's cliche, dated, annoying, and incredibly predictable.  The jokes are rarely funny and the writing just comes across as rushed and amateur.  That being said I am truly glad that I watched it.  It's bad but it's an amazingly enjoyable bad.  I guess you could say it's a real guilty pleasure.  I can see how bad it is, and I was cringing the majority of the time... but I kept watching and wanted to see the thing in its entirety.  I had fun.

So if you're looking for some Legend of Zelda to watch and don't mind something being enjoyable but terrible then I'd honestly suggest that you check out these 13 episodes.  Heck, you can find the first episode on Youtube.  It's only 15 minutes, give it a watch so you too can see the... interesting spectacle that is this trainwreck of a show.  I'm certainly glad I did.

This is Ghost, fading into the darkness.
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If you want to see my other Movie and Television reviews/recommendations then simply click here!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Ghost's Kitchen: Banana Bread

What's cooking today?
Banana Bread

Hello everyone and welcome to another segment of...

(Please note: This was originally intended for Christmas but I decided to shorten my posts for the year making it not even Halloween yet.  I don't want to modify what I wrote so.. yeah.)

Christmas is just around the corner.  For some reason when Christmastime rolls around, this country's quota on baked goods increases exponentially.  I'm not sure what it is about this time of year that makes us see in onslaught of strange breads, elaborate cookies, and diabetes-inducing desserts...but I love it!

I have honestly never been that much of a baker or big on doing baking in general.  I dislike the precise nature that many baked goods requires.  Maybe it's the instant association with chemistry that just rubs me the wrong way.  I prefer being able to change things on the fly and come up with a good produce in the end regardless.  So, when my wife decided that we should make some banana bread to utilize the ripe bananas that were going to go bad soon I was not thrilled whatsoever.  However, the end result was so good I decided to cover it here for each of you.

Gather Your Ingredients
  • 2-3 ripe bananas (over half brown peels are generally best)
  • 1/3rd cup melted butter (This is equal to 5 tbsp stick butter)
  • 3/4th cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (plus a little more)
  • Cooking Spray
  • Mixing bowl
  • Fork
  • Whisk
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • 2 Bowls and Knife (to melt butter and beat egg)
  • 4X8 Loaf Pan (5X9 is also acceptable)

1. Preheat Oven to 350°F

2. Grease Pan
Make sure you have sprayed every interior surface of the loaf pan.




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Tip
If you want to make sure that your bread does not stick to the pan then you will want to do the following.

Take a few pinches of flour and dust the inside of the pan


Stop adding flour when there's a decent coat on the inside such as this.

Now head over to the trash can or sink and turn the pan upside down.  Smack the pan a little bit so that the excess four goes away.

You should be left with just a little bit of flour all over.
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3. Peel Bananas, Start Mashing
You will want to use 2-3 bananas (we used 2 1/2.)  Peel the bananas and place them in a mixing bowl.  With a fork, start mashing the bananas.

4. When Smooth, Stop Mashing
When the bananas get as smooth of a consistency as you possibly can, you may stop mashing.

5. Melt Butter
Cut 5 tablespoons of stick butter and place it into a bowl.  Microwave it for 30 seconds to a minute until fully melted.





6.  Mix in Melted Butter
Add the melted butter to the banana mash and mix.

7.  Mix in the pinch of salt and teaspoon of baking soda

8. Beat an Egg in another bowl


9. Add egg, sugar, and vanilla extract to the mixture.

10. Whisk in flour
You will want to change to a whisk to make things easier.  Continue mixing until the mixture is uniform.

11. Pour mixture into pan

12. Bake for 50 minutes - 1 hour
Start checking at the 50 minute mark because that's as long as it took ours

13. Allow to cool

14. Remove from pan, cut and enjoy!

That's all there is to it!  I was honestly surprised by how good this actually was.  I took pictures in the random off-chance that this might just be ok, but it actually turned out to be really fantastic!  This is something that will be made in our house every time we have bananas getting a little too ripe.  Hopefully this will be something you can make or even give as a Christmas Gift to someone.  Enjoy!

This is Ghost fading into the darkness.
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If you want to see my other food topics and recipes then simply click here!