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My Misadventures in PC Upgrades

This hasn’t really been obvious on my blog so far, but I am notorious for misadventures.

Three years ago, I bought a gaming PC from the store so I could play Minecraft. I hadn’t really been involved in PC gaming before that, so obviously, I didn’t know what to look for.

I picked mine because it reminded me of Iron Man, named it Tony, and that was that.

I’d been advised to build my own instead of buying, but to someone who just wanted to be able to place blocks, that seemed excessive and maybe just a teensy bit frustrating. So I didn’t.

For years, my computer went unaltered. I opened it once to clean it, because you know, dust and dog hair are things in a house with a Malamute. But I never changed anything.

 

Time for an upgrade!

Recently, Shane, who is an actual PC gamer and not just a blockhead like me, decided that he was going to replace the video card in his computer, which meant I could have the old card.

I was a little apprehensive about putting the second-hand video card into my computer, because I was nervous about messing up its innards, but I was also excited about the possibility of maybe not having those weird lines on the more detailed textures in my Minecraft pack.

I wasn’t worried about anything else, though. No, no. Priorities.

So then, this week, we got down to business. We took my tower out of the desk, took off the side, and got to work.

And that’s where the misadventure started.

 

Walking on a wire

I’d only opened my PC once, and I hadn’t messed around with anything inside, just in case. It became apparent, when Shane was rooting around, that the wires were set up weirdly.

It took much wiggling and rearranging, but eventually we got the old and (very) dusty card out, fitted the new card in, and closed it all up.

I thought we’d gotten the wires all organized, but a very suspicious noise when we booted it up told me that maybe that wasn’t the case. In we went.

As it turned out, the fan on top of the card had unplugged a tiny little wire that looked like it would be a royal pain to reattach. I thought about leaving it, but then Shane figured out it was for the headphone and microphone jacks.

If you’ve had a chance to play the Crash Bandicoot remake at all, you’ve likely experienced the stomach-turning sensation of not getting a sequence exactly right. That’s what putting this little wire back into its home—which, by the way, would have been accessible with the video card out—was like.

But we did it! Achievement unlocked.

 

Seeing clearly

The next step was to get the drivers running, and then I could have Tony back. There was only one problem with that, and we figured it out after several restart attempts and an unplayable game of League: It couldn’t actually handle the card.

We (read: Shane) figured out that the motherboard wasn’t quite powerful enough, so we put the old card back and pretended nothing had ever happened.

Ironically, after some research, it turns out that the upgrade that we were trying to install was actually supposed to be the vanilla card for that PC, so I’m not really sure what happened there. But now, my next mission is to find a new board!

And won’t that be a sight for sore eyes.

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How I Became a Legend

Okay, so I’m not really a legend. But you’ll see what I mean by the end of this post. It all starts with League of Legends.

League of Legends is one of those games that I was always aware of because people around me played it, but I never got into it. Why? Well, I had played tower defence-style games before (Bloons, anyone?), but I’d heard the community was—ah—lightly salted, if you will.

About 25% of it was that I was afraid I’d be a bad team player.

The other 75% was that I was afraid of the other players yelling at me. Which I was sure they would. And I’m a delicate little flower.

Eventually, though, I decided it really couldn’t be that bad, and I would face my fears and give the game a fair chance anyway.

Boy, did I have lots to learn.

 

Pick a lane!

My first mission was to figure out what the heck lanes were. Off to a good start, right?

I had no idea what anything meant or which characters were designed for which lanes, so I enlisted the help of the resident League master, Shane. After much discussion, we decided (or, more accurately, he decided and I agreed) that I would play support to his ADC, and that a character like Morgana would be good.

I did my homework, going through all of her abilities so I’d know what to do. I then promptly had all my carefully laid plans thrown out the window when we got to champion selection and realized that

  1. I had no champions, and
  2. Morgana was not on the free champion rotation that week.

Whoops.

In a bit of a panic, I picked Lux—and so began my first game.

 

Learning the ropes

At first, I was intimidated by the clock. I didn’t really have any concept of how much time I had, so I panicked and started playing without any idea what Lux did.

Word to the wise: don’t do that.

Seriously. Even if you have to spend a bit of game time in home base reading, instead of heading straight to lane, do it. You’ll be much more useful than I was at first.

Luckily, I managed to figure Lux out pretty quickly, and got good at trapping people so I could laser them. I did not make friends.

I got to about level 2 with Lux, and then another curveball came my way.

 

That’s a little fishy

Last week, Shane surprised me with a present: a brand-new champion to learn. It was Nami, his favourite support, and it was super-exciting for three reasons:

  1. Fish puns
  2. “Not me” puns
  3. She’s a really, really good character

This time, before I dived in, I stopped and did my homework. I learned what Nami could do, went into a game, and quickly learned that Nami is all about skill shots so I could not do what she could.

It’s taken a lot of practice, and obviously at level 12 I am not good at it yet, but I’m learning—and I’m on my way to being a Legend.

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Diablo Gear: A Few of My Favourite Things

One of the most wonderfully fun things about Diablo 3 is how much character customization there is in terms of gear. I mean, sure, there are a few limitations, like I can’t have a tiny little demon hunter swinging a two-handed barbarian shovel-mace, but still.

Of course, all accessories were not created equal, and some of them have better purposes in life than others.

Artemis, my demon hunter, had the most ridiculous luck finding awesome and rare items, so in my first playthrough, I had oodles of time to pick my favourites.

Here they are.

 

Puzzle ring

The puzzle ring is fun because when you wear it, you get a little treasure goblin friend who will run around with you, gather all the terrible items you were probably going to salvage anyway, and will sometimes drop a rare or legendary for you instead.

I didn’t find this too terribly useful, but I did discover that you can break it down with Kanai’s Cube to open a portal to the Vault, which is where all those little fiends come from in the first place.

Just be sure to take your…

 

Broken crown

When Blizzard says broken, it means broken. This crown looks busted, and when you put a gem in it, every single gem drop will get you a copy of whatever gem is socketed in the crown.

I may or may not have used it to get a ridiculous amount of marquise emeralds, to the point I had to start selling them because I had nowhere to put them. Not the worst problem to have in this game!

 

Pox faulds

I have an approximate mental age of about 10 years old sometimes, which is why I think these pants are the greatest. Here is the literal description from the game:

When 3 or more enemies are within 12 yards, you release a vile stench that deals 450–550% weapon damage as Poison every second for 5 seconds to enemies within 15 yards.

Guys. They’re fart pants.

 

Gloves of worship

These gloves were so useful for me with both Artemis and Persephone. Their special power is that they make the blessings from shrines and wells last for 10 minutes.

This means that you get your bonus powers for a long time, and you can build up a really good stack of them. Shielding, movement speed, channeling, and greatly increased damage? Don’t mind if I do!

 

Halcyon’s ascent

This little piece hasn’t exactly been useful for me, but I still think it’s great. Basically, it’s a deadmau5 amulet.

Because the only thing better than EDM is making your enemies dance uncontrollably to EDM music that’s only in their heads. Fools.

So there you have it, a few of my favourite Diablo 3 items. What are your favourites? Don’t be shy, share in the comments below!

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Ragnarok: The End of the (Marvel) World as We Know It?

It’s not really a secret to anyone that I get ridiculously excited about Marvel movies. I’ve actually stopped watching the trailers for the most part because I just turn into an annoying little ball of pent-up excitement.

It’s kind of been that way for Infinity War ever since I saw the release schedule that came out a few years ago.

But we’re not here today to talk about that. What I really want to talk about is Armageddon.

Oh, wait. I mean Ragnarok.

 

Ragnarok, the Nordic armageddon

I’ve had a fascination with Ragnarok since my days of bird courses in children’s literature. As you Norse mythology buffs out there may know, it’s essentially the Vikings’ end-of-days tale, and one of the many terribly deathy situations is that Fenrir breaks loose of his chains and tears the world a new one.

Fenrir, who happens to be the basis for the Big Bad Wolf trope (aaaaand that’s how it fit into children’s literature), is also Loki’s son.

Now, it kind of looks like the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok movie is going to vary a wee bit from the legends. It’s not Loki’s crazy wolf-child who leads the charge on Asgard; it’s Hela, the goddess of death and quite possibly Thanos’ beloved Lady Death herself. After all, it’s the end of the world—better bring in the big guns.

Sidebar: Speaking of Thanos, can we please talk about how painfully elusive he’s been pretty much since Day 1? He’s been teasing us for actual, real-world years with stronger and stronger hints, but he’s either too camera-shy to make his debut or he’s extra. It’s worse than the White Walkers of Game of Thrones. That’s not a spoiler; we all know it’s true.

 

Shaking things up with style

Thor Ragnarok poster art

Exhibit A: Thor’s revamped aesthetic reminds me a little of a familiar rag-tag group of Guardians.

One of the interesting things I’ve noticed about Marvel is that each of its major characters (i.e., the ones that have their own series) have had massive reckonings in their third movies. These reckonings have each completely shaken up the franchise, and have pushed the story in a completely new direction.

Thor definitely seems to be following in the footsteps of Iron Man and Captain America, and in his third big-screen special will have to very literally battle death to save his ancestral home.

The difference with this one, though, is that it’s not just the story that seems to be changing. It’s the storytelling.

See, the third movies for Stark and Rogers both kept their toes in line with the overall aesthetic of their predecessors. Thor’s third, however, looks like it’s hit some big, red reset button somewhere because it’s not using the traditional Nordic theme.

Instead, it looks like we’re getting a very definitive Guardians-esque ‘80s vibe with just a splash of Chuzzle, only one of the most addictive, repetitive early-2000s PC games ever.

Overall, I’m really intrigued to see how it plays out, with Marvel apparently starting to incorporate elements of its lesser-known comics turned super-viral movies into its headliners. Will it be a one-off, or can we expect more of this unique take to manifest through the MCU, with the end of the world as we know it drawing so close?

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Of Comics and Movies: Will X-Men Return to Marvel?

When I started watching comic book movies, I was blissfully unaware of the politics that go into the entertaining of nerds the world over. Marvel was Marvel, and DC was DC.

I was sad when I realized that that is not in fact how the happy little world worked, and I would never see Wolverine meet Tony Stark (because let’s be real here, how amazing would that meeting be?!), simply because Marvel didn’t own the rights to the X-Men; Fox did.

 

Behind-the-scenes

We saw a bit of a shift here when we saw Sony give up the rights to Spiderman to let him appear in Marvel’s very aptly named Spiderman: Homecoming, which was the first time since selling the feature film rights in 1985 that Marvel has been able to put its teenage wonder on the big screen. It was very literally a homecoming.

However, to this point—and aside from a little deal over Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Ego the Living Planet—the X-Men have happily kept their distance from the home base.

 

Is Marvel getting the X-Men back?

Now, to be fair here, I can’t say that Fox has been doing poorly with the X-Men franchise. The movies are some of my favourites, and Fox picked some amazing actors to bring the stories to life. I actually much preferred Fox’s choice for Quicksilver over Marvel’s (blasphemy!).

But all the same, I’m really holding on for that Logan­–Tony meeting. So I found it interesting that Stan Lee, that master of all things Marvel himself, dropped a hint that Marvel Studios was working on getting back the film rights for the X-Men.

“Sooner or later, they’re going the rights back to all our characters. They’re working on it, and they’re still making X-Men movies and stuff. Don’t worry about it. You’ll get more Marvel superheroes than you’ll have time to look at in the next few years.”

­–Stan Lee

Now, it’s worth noting that Stan hasn’t actually been involved in the financial dealings of Marvel Studios for some time now. Kevin Feige, who currently runs the show, has said in the past that while in an ideal world the whole crew would get a happy reunion, it’s unlikely that they will.

Still, if what Stan says rings true and we do get the X-Men back in the MCU (maybe even in time for Infinity War), I think that’d be a hoot.

Do you think Marvel will bring the X-Men home now?

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Comic Book Movies: A Matter of Perspective

Some background, before I dive on in: My boyfriend and I met by being total nerds together.

Our first conversation ever was about our favourite superheroes (his is Batman, and mine is Iron Man). He even brought me Lego Batman minifigs on our first date.

In our discussion about our favourite superheroes, it shouldn’t really be a surprise that villains came up as well. After all, what’s a hero without villains? Tony Stark might say “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist,” which would apply in some cases, but unfortunately, not today.

Anyway, Shane told me very quickly that his favourite villain was Carnage. I couldn’t think of what mine was.

At the time, we left it at that—but the conversation would resurface again much later on.

 

Talk about seeing the big picture

A few weeks ago, Shane and I were driving home when Southern Nights by Glen Campbell came on the radio. I can’t hear that song without thinking of Rocket Raccoon and a beautiful moonlit serenade, which got me started on my favourite reason for Guardians of the Galaxy’s popularity (aside from a script filled with witty goodies and an obsessive love of tiny Groot): its music.

That inevitably led to my somewhat unpopular opinion that if Suicide Squad had done a better job picking its own soundtrack, and not settling for relying on a less-nostalgic cover of Bohemian Rhapsody, it might not have fallen so short of its supposed mark of Marvel mimicry. That, however, is a rant for another day.

This is all to tell you that I found myself in a long-winded, down-the-rabbit-hole type of situation wherein we started a very opinionated talk about the villains of the Dark Knight trilogy.

 

A villainous affair

For the most part, we were on the same page about the Dark Knight villains. Liam Neeson’s Ra’s al Ghul was perfectly cool and catastrophic. Heath Ledger’s Joker was quintessentially quirky, and worthy of messing with anyone’s mind and sense of justice.

Where we differed, however, was on Tom Hardy’s Bane.

I had loved the character. I honestly think Tom Hardy is a great actor, and I had seen his rendition of what I perceived as Talia al Ghul’s bulldog as a good thing.

Shane, however, had been less impressed, and for good reason.

See, at the time, I had had no preconceived notions about any of the characters. They were all new to me. Shane, on the very opposite end of that little spectrum, had grown up with Batman and saw the film’s Bane as so far off-base that he hadn’t even recognized who the character was supposed to be until halfway through the movie.

 

The secret of comic book movie success

That got me thinking, and I believe the reason Marvel owns the big screen rather than DC doing the same has less to do with soundtrack choices than I thought. It’s all in how they treat their characters.

Marvel has stayed true to the spirits (if not always the exact backstories) of its characters. This keeps the characters relatable, familiar, and ultimately, popular. This is why Marvel can bring in smaller comic movies like Guardians; they’re still the same characters that even niche fans will recognize.

DC, on the other hand, treats its characters as much more fluid. It’s not afraid to rehash things as many times as it takes to get it right, but honestly, both the fans and the characters lose something of the original flavour by doing this.

I do think that trend changed a little for DC with the recent Wonder Woman movie, and I think it’ll be interesting to see if the new trend continues, especially with the new Justice League movie coming up quickly.

Your turn. What do you think of the difference between Marvel and DC movies?

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Destiny 2: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

So for those of you who missed it, Shane and I had a very exciting day last week. We preordered a limited-edition Destiny 2 PS4 Pro, promptly went to pick it up right when the game came out, and then tore into it like kids on Christmas.

We also did an unboxing video for it, which you can check out here if you want to know just what the sarcasming sounds like in real life!

After we’d gotten everything out of the boxes and gone all googly-eyed over it, we set up the console and got ready to play the game—but forgot about the hours and hours of updates that need to happen. Which turns into a veeeeeery long time on a 10-mbps download speed.

Good decisions, right?

So, finally, the day after it came out, we had the chance to try out the new Destiny 2. Shane had played the original Destiny, and was geeking out over it. I was excited to try it for the first time.

Here’s what we learned!

 

The good

First off, kudos to Sony for making a special-edition console. It actually looks amazing. It also really did the game justice to play it in 4K, which I’ll get into later!

Now. The thing to keep in mind with Destiny 2 is that it had a lot to live up to. Best Shooter of E3, Best PC Game of E3 2017, Best Multiplayer of E3 2017, you get the picture.

The first few hours of gameplay were rather enlightening, if you’ll excuse the pun. There were quite a few things that were added to the sequel to make it easier to play (little things like maps, you know), and obviously it came with more content than the original.

It also had quite a lot of features that were more or less the same as the original, including its overall gameplay and also starting you off with exactly the same classes. It was perfectly natural for Shane, a seasoned player, to pick up. In fact, it even let him download his characters from his original Destiny game, which I thought was a nice touch.

It didn’t take long for a novice like me to pick it up, either. I’d never played a FPS before, but at one point, Shane handed me the controller and I didn’t die, so that’s a good thing, right?

 

The bad

As much as the game is wonderful, it’s got a few points it could improve on, too.

For example, there seems to be an issue with the competitive ranking system (namely, there isn’t one). Shane noticed that at level 6, he was being put up against level 200s who would run straight at him through an entire clip and a grenade all Deadpool-style just to shank him with a sword. The swear jar did well, but that’s all that did.

It was also a little weird to me that the game is entirely online. The first few days were rough, but the game worked much better once we got viable Internet.

This limitation to online play also meant that I, as a non-PS Plus guest account on my boyfriend’s machine, can’t actually play the game unless I use his account. I could get PS Plus, I suppose, but let’s face it. Ain’t got money for that, especially when we just got the special edition.

 

The ugly

Honestly, I’m not convinced there is anything ugly about the game. It’s done absolutely beautifully, and sometimes I can’t help staring at the way the sunlight shines over the distant mountains…

All poetry aside, I do think the devs did an awesome job with the details in the game, as well as the characters’ movement and expression. It was almost surreal, especially in 4K.

 

So there are my first thoughts on Destiny 2. Have you played it yet? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below! I love hearing from you guys.

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Why I Didn’t Love the Necromancer’s Season Set

You may recall that not too long ago, I discovered that necromancers are a thing in Diablo 3. I was also surprised at how powerful the character was, even before Blizzard announced that it was releasing a buff.

In that same post, I had mentioned how dearly I was hoping for a good set reward for the necromancer in Season 11.

Alas, it was not meant to be.

 

Offering the Bones of Rathma

Necromancer_Set_Preview.gif

Not gonna lie, this set looks awesome. But it’s well-suited to a different build.

In retrospect, I’m really not surprised that Blizzard chose the set that it did. After all, offering the Bones of Rathma set, named for the priesthood and designed to kick butt in the most traditionally necromancery way, is the perfect way to appeal to nostalgic fans.

If you haven’t read up on it yet, the set focuses on the Army of the Dead and Skeletal Mage skills. I tried both of them earlier on in my character’s career, because I’ve kind of had a bit of indecision building her.

I didn’t really love them, though, and instead went a different route.

 

Picking a set for my character

Now, I just want to be really clear here for a second.

No matter which set Blizzard had chosen to offer, someone would have been upset. And realistically, there aren’t that many sets available for the necromancer at this state anyway. This is just my opinion, and my experience.

Because I had built my character, Persephone (yes, named after the queen of the underworld in Greek mythology), with features like Corpse Explosion and other things that would make her into a very deathy one-woman army, that set wasn’t going to do me a whole lot of good.

Actually, based on my build, both the Pestilence Master’s Shroud and Trag’Oul’s Avatar sets would be pretty useful, but that does leave me at the whims of that ever-fickle merchant, Kadala.

 

Hey there, Kadala

Kadala and I have a history of not really getting along. You could even call it a grudge match.

It started back in Season 10 when I was trying to build Artemis. Kadala taunted me by giving me an ancient set hand crossbow that would boost Vault’s damage by 800%, which of course I loved because I had Vault and its Trail of Cinders rune.

I don’t even know how many thousands of blood shards I spent trying to get the other half of that set.

Necromancer_Set_Preview (1)

I’m not sure if it’s the powers or the weird seahorse appearance that appeals to me with this set…

So far, I think I’ve decided to try for the Trag’Oul set for Persephone, which will boost her life-spending powers by 3,300% when I have the whole set. I’ve managed to get a few sets of the boots, so a few trips to Kanai’s Cube ought to help, but as for the rest?

I guess I’ll just out-wait (and out-blood shard) Kadala.

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The Girly Geek’s Guide to Sunshine Islands

A few weeks ago, I told you guys all about my wonderful adventures discovering Harvest Moon. Since then, I’ve had people asking me which game I’d recommend for beginners.

I’ll give you two guesses which one it was. (Hint: It’s eponymous.)

I picked Sunshine Islands because it’s not too tricky, and it’s not too easy. I thought it was juuuuust right.

That said, though, there’s still lots to know about the game. I won’t ruin it for you, but if you do decide to try it out, here are one gamer’s thoughts on the matter.

 

1. Be friends with Taro.

He’s grumpy, he’s old, and he looks a little like a sentient onion, but Taro has some serious layers.

Some Harvest Moon games give you a radio so you can check the next day’s weather as often as you like, but in this game (and in Island of Happiness, for that matter), you will need to rely on Taro and his creaky old joints to tell you if it’ll rain or shine the next day.

He’ll also only tell you once, the first time you speak to him for the day. I honestly can’t even count how many times I’ve messed that up. So be ready to pay attention!

 

2. Have 2 feeders for every animal.

This one took me three playthroughs and some pretty blatant hints from my dad to figure out.

Some of the games will let you keep on keeping on in bad weather, although the struggle will definitely be real. Sunshine Islands does not. It will confine you to your little house and leave your animals to fend for themselves.

If this happens, and you have 12 chickens and 12 feeders, it means that your chickens will not get fed on the storm day. And that will get you some nice stressy chickens.

The thing is, animals aren’t where the money is at in this game, so you won’t put yourself behind by opting for six chickens and 12 feeders. Plus, that means no more stressy chickens!

 

3. Build the greenhouse.

One of the fun features about Sunshine Islands is that time stops when you’re indoors. Super handy for all those times you have to chase your chickens around the coop, and also super handy if you build the greenhouse because you want to grow more than a lonely little plot of eggplants.

You can control the quality of your crops, prevent them from suffering a painful squishy death at the hands of rogue, hurricane-thrown rocks, and tend your entire field in 5 minutes or less.

You can also keep growing things in the winter, which is helpful for making lots of money for Gannon’s ridiculously overpriced renovations. You’ll need it because he’s too scary to haggle.

 

4. Raise Mushroom Island.

You get a pet pig if you raise Mushroom Island. Need I say more?

 

5. Don’t worry about the Harvest Sprites.

These little dudes were introduced in Islands of Happiness, where I’m not entirely certain they had a purpose. In this game, supposedly, befriending them can help you by giving you things like discounts in the store, but let’s be real here for a second.

Most of them have ridiculously expensive tastes. For example, one of them only likes rare ores, and if you just shipped the ores, you’d make enough money that you wouldn’t need them to discount the stores anyway.

Besides, by the time you make friends with them, you’ll be far enough along in the game that it won’t even matter.

 

6. Keep track.

The whole point of the game is to track down sun stones, which you can use to unlock new islands (and new characters like marriage candidates, oo la la). You’ll find them by doing all kinds of different activities, including things as simple as raiding bushes, because decades under the sea wouldn’t have dislodged them.

Game logic.

Anyway, take it from someone who learned the charms of it years ago. It’s best to keep track using a handy-dandy list.

Like this one right here! How about that?

Now you have my best advice for taking on my favourite Harvest Moon game ever. I hope it really grows on you!

Yeah, I went there.

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Entering the World of Final Fantasy

I have a confession to make.

I am embarrassingly unaware of most video games out there. Rather than any kind of falsified indifference toward games, I like to chalk this up to the fact that my family’s first console was a Wii. We missed all previous consoles, and to be entirely honest, all following consoles too.

I never really saw it as missing out, because I had no idea what I was missing.

 

Fast-forward a few years.

Nowadays, I have a lot of catching up to do. When I met Shane, for example, he was mildly astonished that I’d never played Final Fantasy. I think I felt the appropriate shame, I’m not sure.

You can guess what happened next, though.

A few weeks ago, Shane booted up the dungeon demo for World of Final Fantasy and, without a word, handed me the controller.

I had no idea what I was doing, but good heavens, was it fun.

I hadn’t planned on buying any new games, but within days, we went out to the mall and came home with the Day One edition of the game. I had never played a Final Fantasy game before, but now I was play-for-a-full-seven-hours obsessed.

 

Entering the world of Final Fantasy

If you’ve ever wanted a pet behemoth or maybe a friendly Moogle, this game is perfect, kupo.

You get to run around the collected worlds from previous Final Fantasy games, complete with previous characters, build your own little jellybean monster army full of what they call Mirages, and then battle with them piled on your head like Chiquita Banana.

It’s basically what you’d get if you crossed Final Fantasy with Pokémon and added hats.

It was clear to me pretty early on that it’s also designed to attract newbies (not like me, what are you talking about) to the franchise. The game holds your hand for rather longer than it needs to, slowly introducing new concepts and creatures that would probably be very familiar to seasoned players.

The game is structured like an anime, which I gather is also something new for Final Fantasy. The story itself plays out in episodes, and some of the cutscenes are done in a fun little anime design.

All in all, I thought it was really well-done.

 

That’s no mirage!

For the first while, most of the decent mirages I found were small and medium sizes, so I had to use the Jiant versions of the heroes, Reynn and Lann. It was a little disappointing, because it meant that until I got some good large mirages, I couldn’t run around as a chibi jellybean army of death.

But then something happened.

Somehow, I triggered a mysterious cutscene where a tonberry walked up to me out of a sandstorm in the desert with his adorable little lantern and butcher’s knife. I was 99% sure I was about to get cartoon-style-shanked, but instead he showed me to the Coliseum, this wonderful place where you can catch extra-super-fun things.

And little did I know this included Shiva and Ifrit.

2017-08-08 09.35.07 1

The jellybean army, complete with Shiva and Ifrit.

The game doesn’t tell you this, but there’s a very small chance that these two legendary spirits will appear in the Coliseum. There’s also a very small chance that you can catch them.

Shane swears I have a horseshoe hiding somewhere, because catch them I did. And now I finally have large mirages, so I can have my little jellybeans too.

Now it’s time to put them to the test—and maybe that Sephiroth summoning that came with the edition, too, kupo.

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What Happened When I Re-read Harry Potter

Everyone has a childhood favourite—whether that’s a book, movie, game, what-have-you—that helped define who they are and how their imagination works.

For me, that was Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I remember when it came out; I begged my mom shamelessly to buy it for me, even though it left my poor six-year-old reading level choking on a trail of white, puffy train smoke.

Eventually I succeeded at annoying my mom into buying me the book, and I devoured the whole thing in a matter of three days.

I then proceeded to do the same with each subsequent book as soon as they came out (including many an all-nighter, poorly hidden from my parents), but I never ventured back to the origin of my fantasies about owls with handwritten admission letters.

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The closest I’ve gotten to my own Hogwarts experience.

Fast-forward 15 years.

When I was in university, I was “obligated” to re-read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone as part of my children’s literature class.

Full disclosure: I had signed up for it as a bird course. I had every intention of just cruising through that class, because hey, it was all kids’ books anyway, right?

It turns out it was a really good thing I was in that class, though, because that wasn’t all it was.

Cliffhanger.

 

A new look at an old favourite

If you think I slowed down and didn’t just devour the book this time around, well, you’d be wrong. That thing was done in a matter of hours.

I admit it’s not always easy to absorb information at lightning speeds, but I did pick up on a few things this time around. For one, I’d forgotten just how witty the book was. I’m pretty sure the vast majority of the humour in that book had gone right over my un-witty little head.

Suddenly, I could understand completely how the book had become so popular with everyone, and not just the little tykes of my generation.

But even though it was technically a kids’ book, it wasn’t light reading.

Cliffhanger again. See what I did there?

 

A matter of themes

I also noticed that the book handled several rather heavy topics in a way that made it easy for tiny Erin to digest. Even though I hadn’t registered the neglect that happened at the Dursleys’, for example, it had made perfect sense to me, and I think that’s where the power of those books lay.

They held the magic to teach readers about what could be out there, without explicitly being pessimistic or depressing, and by showing them that there’s something better to look forward to.

After all, at the end of the day, it was a happy ending: Harry put up with a lot of *ahem* nonsense, but he still made new friends, beat the bad guy, and took home the trophy.

And isn’t that what it’s all about?

Ps. Still waiting for that letter. Any time would be great.

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Raising Hell with the Necromancer

Hey guys, remember that time I was super excited about my demon hunter in Diablo 3?

She’s high-damage, high-resistance, completely one-of-a-kind…and also the only character class I’ve ever really played.

So maybe I’m a little biased. And maybe it was time to try something new.

 

The rise of the necromancer

As all you Diablo 3 fans may or may not know, the recent season ended with some news that made a lot of people very happy:

Blizzard decided to resurrect (yes I said that) the necromancer.

Now. I’m no expert on the subject by any stretch of the imagination, but from my understanding, the infamous priests of Rathma basically curb-stomped Diablo 2 and because they were too powerful to play in the sandbox with the others anymore, they escorted themselves right out of the third instalment, athankyouverymuch.

However, it seems that Blizzard decided to heed the pleas of its fans and bring back the popular character—in fuller force than ever.

 

‘Priest’ to meet you!

I was intrigued by the idea of the priests of Rathma; after all, my first taste of success in the game had left me with a rather insatiable thirst for more.

I was a little put off by the $20 price tag, though. For those of you unfamiliar with Canadian currency, that’s roughly the equivalent of three work weeks of Tim Hortons coffee, and that stuff is life.

The necromancer

Off to a strong start: my level-40ish necromancer, Persephone.

I had some very serious decision making to do, and since I do have to get up at ungodly hours most days (not a morning person), I made the tough decision to adult and get the coffee.

Imagine my surprise when one day, I got home from work–and the first thing I saw was Shane, happy as can be, sitting on the couch and playing his brand-new necromancer.
It was go time.

 

Test-driving the death machine

The first thing I noticed is just how much damage the necromancer can do right off the bat. Your starting attack creates a nice little patch of bone spikes that can pretty much one-shot anything you encounter in the first stages.

Oh right; “boss fight.”

– Shane’s thoughts on the necromancer’s power.

Shane has been playing Diablo games much longer than I have, so he had a strategy in mind; he was going to build up his little army and take on the world.

My path, on the other hand, was set the second I discovered I could make things explode.

Step 1: Bone Spear to take one monster out.

Step 2: Corpse Explosion to create a bloody mess of a chain reaction.

 

An update already?

After the first night of playing, we were pretty sure that it wouldn’t be long before the necromancer got nerfed. After all, it’s not every character that has an ability that quite literally gives it an aura of death.

So when Blizzard had an announcement a week after the release, I wasn’t surprised—until I saw that it was that the necromancer was actually getting a buff.

After I thought about it, though, it kind of made sense; the necromancer is supposed to be legendarily strong, but I’m not entirely convinced it would do as much damage per hit as my demon hunter.

That’s not a fair comparison, since there isn’t a completely broken set for the necromancer yet. So maybe next season there’ll be one.

A girl can hope, right?

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Why I Love Lego Games

My history with the Lego games started when I got my Xbox 360.

I got it used, so it came with a few games and a very well-loved controller. One of those games was Lego Indiana Jones.

Now, I have always loved Lego (I still get it for birthdays), and of course I have an appreciation for the fine archaeologist represented by the man I first saw as the incorrigible Han Solo, so I was very excited about the game.

That was roughly when I moved my Xbox from the living room into my bedroom, because I was in love immediately.

I played obsessively for days, and in about two weeks, had fully completed the game—including unlocking the little Easter egg that lets you run around as Han Solo instead of Indiana Jones.

That fateful event, seven years ago, was the start of my obsession with Lego games. And this is why I love them so much.

 

The characters

I’ve ranted before about my opinions on variations of written characters in movies, so I really liked the fact that every Lego game I’ve played has stayed true (if somewhat campily) to the characters’ personalities.

I actually liked Lego Spiderman better than the earlier film versions because he kept the whole thing about “not wanting” to be in the Avengers because they wouldn’t let him in.

 

The dialogue

Okay, so newer games have actual dialogue in them.

But I have to be honest, one of my favourite parts of the earlier games was the fact that they did not have dialogue and relied on excessively expressive gestures and various hrms.

 

The humour

Let’s be real here for a second, these games have some serious Disney channeling going on. You know, like that time you rewatched Little Mermaid and realized what was actually going on there.

They’re written for kids and adults alike, and my occasionally juvenile sense of humour loved it.

After all, there’s nothing more fun than being a super-serious Batman followed by a hapless Robin just hoping for an ice cream or doing tricks on his bike.

 

The stories

This kind of ties into the previous point, but I always enjoy the Lego stories because they mostly follow established stories while giving them a little twist. Also, part of the story is usually that you have to smash EVERYTHING, which I’m okay with.

 

The variety

What I really appreciate about the Lego games is the wide range of fandoms they appeal to. They also like to break the fourth wall, and will often incorporate details from other fandoms just for fun.

Like the aforementioned Indiana Jones – Han Solo mashup, the Jurassic Park level in Lego Marvel Superheroes, or even the Tardis reference in Lego Batman 3.

 

The vehicles

Actually, no. We won’t talk about this. Because mostly it just gave my sister something to run me over with.

 

Now it’s your turn. Have you ever played a Lego game? What did you think?

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Fond Memories: The Harry Potter PC Games

The other day, I was rooting around and happened to stumble across a collection of the computer games my sister and I had growing up.

Magic School Bus, Lego, Wheel of Fortune (which always made tiny Erin sad because she couldn’t understand why she never got the money she won), you name it.

Three games in particular stood out, though. They were my half-hearted collection of the Harry Potter PC games.

In 2001, the same year as the first movie came out and four years after the book, EA Games released Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone as a video game so all the little witches and wizards could go on their own Hogwarts adventures. I was on that bandwagon.

The game followed the book’s storyline fairly closely, while filling it with puzzles and other goodies. I loved it, and of course I couldn’t wait to get the rest of them.

I never actually managed to finish the second one, but I can speed-run the third one like nobody’s business—and when you spend that much time with a game, you pick up a few things.

Here are my favourite parts of the Harry Potter PC games.

 

Harry’s climbing abilities.

For me, this (and the very ‘90s graphics) was one of the hallmarks of the first game.

Harry may have some brilliant wizarding skills, but there are some ways he reps the Muggles too. His climbing skills are very realistic; he reminds me of myself trying to climb out of a pool on a ledge that’s slightly too high. I appreciated the realism.

 

The secret areas.

The books always talked about secret areas and secret hallways, with the Room of Requirement being the holy grail of them all. It was a really nice touch that EA built several secret areas with rewards into the games for seekers to find.

As a kid who was (and let’s be real, still is) obsessed with forts, it was the best thing ever.

 

The Draconifors/Lapifors lesson.

All things considered, these are some of the more useless spells. They only serve to animate very subtly placed dragon and rabbit statues so you can move them through different obstacles.

However, that makes it one of the more fun spells, too. Backing up as the rabbit was a bit tedious, but it was still fun to hop and fly around—especially through the timed challenges! I had to try them a few times, but once I got them, it was very satisfying.

 

The Bean Bonus Room.

I have to be honest with you here, I have no idea if this was in the second game or not. I suspect it wasn’t.

It was the big motivator to do well in the third game, though, aside from being a completionist and all. I mean, what could be more fun than trampolining around a giant room in Hogwarts, collecting rare candy?

 

Wizard cards.

These were the ultimate reward in each of the games, and realistically, they were the main point behind collecting all that candy. It’s not like I could eat it, after all!

The third game played up the drama a little by shading out an “ultimate” card that you could get after you’d gotten everything else, but it really didn’t need to—I was going to collect them all anyway!

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How I Got Hooked on the Sims

If you’ve ever experienced the U.S. version of the Office, you’ve experienced the sheer joy and face-palmery that is Dwight K. Schrute. He’s a real unique character, if you will.

One of my favourite mini-scenes of Dwight is his obsession with Second Life, where you can literally be anything and he chooses to be exactly as he is now, plus flying. It’s just such a perfect example of his personality.

Strangely, I never really made the connection between Second Life and playing a game like it until I discovered the Sims.

 

A Sim-ply wonderful discovery

Like many of the games I discover, the Sims was one of those fortuitous and accidental discoveries. Sure, I’d seen people wearing Plumbobs for Halloween, but it never really clicked until one of my friends showed me how you could build your own house. Also it was on sale, so…

That was the end of my Sim-less life.

I ran right home, and got the game for myself. I then promptly spent a solid eight hours immersed in helping my Sim (who, much like Dwight’s Second Life person, rather strongly resembled its creator) achieve her dreams.

From there, it was a spiral into caring more about my Sim’s life than my own for a time. That game is seriously addictive.

 

Living out the write life

Naturally, I wanted my Sim to fast-forward herself through her career. I set her up with the Bestselling Author ambition, got her a job at the bookstore, and got down to business.

It wasn’t long before she was writing several books a day (which, by the way, is one of the easiest ways to make money early on in the game), tending a garden of amazing plants (which, ironically, I am terrible at), and saving up for her dream house.

She flew through the entire writer career and aspiration in about the span of a real-world week.

 

Why it was so addictive

I think, much like Dwight and his second life, the reason I found the Sims so compelling was that in the game, you don’t run into the cliché that life just happens. Although you still have things like bills and broken toilets, most of the stuff in the game is completely under your control. You can pick what happens, and how your Sim does it.

To be entirely honest, that makes it much easier to adult in the game than in real life. I don’t like doing chores like dishes, but I can tell my Sim to do it, guilt-free.

It was also partially the ability to build my house however I liked it. The sheer number of possibilities were overwhelming for me, but given my love of Lego and Minecraft, I was willing to take on the challenge.

Unsurprisingly, my first house was, well, very square. I didn’t know what I could do with rooms, so I just built lots of square ones and put them together into a perfectly square house. It wasn’t exactly pretty, but it was nicer than Minecraft and I was so happy.

Now, my mission is to find the quickest way to earn money easily so I can build a huge, non-square, fairy-tale castle.

Challenge accepted.

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Exploring the Themes of World of Final Fantasy

Don’t worry, no spoilers! I want this game to be as fun for you as it was for me.

You may recall how excited I was about World of Final Fantasy a few weeks ago. It was my first Final Fantasy game, aside from roughly the first half hour of VII. That was just long enough to come up with creative little nicknames for the characters, but clearly not enough to get the full effect of the story.

It was very addictive. I am now obsessed with chocobos and moogles.

At this point, I’ve invested a solid 50 hours or so of my life in the game, and have gotten to the main story’s postscript. Yes, there is a postscript.

I’ve fallen absolutely in love with the game’s storytelling, and I’ve noticed a few recurring things.

 

A matter of time

When you start playing the game, you’ll notice pretty early on (read: in the first cutscene) that the game focuses heavily on the concept of time.

Lann and Reynn have been living in Nine Wood Hills, a place where “time works a little differently,” and the first mirage they meet (again, in the first cutscene), Tama, has a strange, unexplained ability to wind back time so even if you die in a battle, you don’t actually die.

As handy as this particular ability was, especially for a rookie like myself, I couldn’t help but feel that it served a higher purpose than saving my sorry butt.

From there, time turned into a real theme for the game.

 

The internal conflict

From what I know of the Final Fantasy series, this is the first game to use the idea of time as the basis of its story—and I think it did it very well.

The games like to focus on heavy topics that resonate with the audience, and usually this heavy topic centralizes around some kind of internal battle for the protagonist. Unlike many games, there’s no clear sense of right vs. wrong; everyone is both, and the game takes perspectives into account.

I loved the internal conflict in World of Final Fantasy because while it was a rather goofier-looking game than others in the franchise, it addressed something close to my heart.

Rather than pitting the protagonist against some external antagonist, it pitted them against themselves. It was this whole idea of past self vs. present self vs. future self, which is something that I think a lot of people in the age group that would have grown up with Final Fantasy, myself included, can relate to.

 

The Final Fantasy moment

One of the first things Shane warned me about before I got heavily involved in World of Final Fantasy was that the franchise loves to tug the heartstrings. I got a little taste of that watching him play Final Fantasy XV, but I don’t think that—or anything else—could have prepared me.

The thing about video games is that it’s one thing to watch someone play, but it’s entirely different when you’re the one holding the controller. You aren’t as emotionally invested unless it’s you who’s in charge. So while XV made me sad, World of Final Fantasy got me good.

I’m still not done the story, though, even though one tragic moment has passed. I have mild trust issues that the game won’t grab me by the feels again, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see!

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Pokémon HeartGold: Revisiting a Classic

Pokémon HeartGold and I will always have a special bond. It was the first Pokémon game I ever played, and to be entirely honest, I went in with no idea what to expect or what on earth I was doing.

Everything I learned about type strengths and weaknesses was through a painstaking, entirely scientific process of trial-and-error (but mostly error).

I went on to play Pokémon games obsessively, learning all the strengths and weaknesses as they evolved with the different game versions. Fairy threw me for a loop, and mega evolutions were something different altogether, but I learned them.

There was always something I thought was missing, though.

 

My favourite feature from HeartGold

I remember getting excited about Moon because I had heard it was going to be the first game since HeartGold and SoulSilver that let trainers walk around with Pokémon à la Ash’s Pikachu. I had absolutely loved that feature; in fact, it’s what made me fall in love with Dragonite. My little Blake had followed me loyally everywhere, dancing happily and generally being a derp.

The trouble is that while Moon was technically coded to have that feature, for whatever reason, it hadn’t followed through.

So, I decided after I’d finished it that I would take a trip down memory lane and replay my first game.

 

Rediscovering HeartGold

It had been years since I’d played HeartGold, which is plenty of time for someone who has a terrible memory anyway to forget the finer details.

Of course, by this I mean the graphics (because that’s definitely not the biggest part of the game or anything). I don’t think I had really thought about how far the graphics have come in those games; it was like looking back on a kid you haven’t seen in a few years who’s gone from waist height to towering over you. Goodness, it was a throwback.

That initial shock dissipated pretty quickly when my Cyndaquil started trailing me like the happy little derp he was. Life was good.

Then, it was time to set out on my journey. In the newer games, you can run whenever you want—but in this one, you have a long, slow journey of walking from the first town and through the tour of the second town before you can get your gosh-darn running shoes.

But I got them, and then it was time to hit the road running.

 

Changing things up

There isn’t a whole lot of variation in which Pokémon you get for the first little stretch of the game, up until you get to Goldenrod City. I had a few staples on my list: the Togepi you get from the professor, a Mareep, and a Wooper.

The one thing I did do differently was to get ahead by getting my dear Dragonite well before the end of the game. See, I hadn’t known about Dragonite until the last town the first time around, but late-game HeartGold had taught me the true power of a high-level dragon-type Pokémon. And although you can’t catch them until you get to the last gym in the Johto region, there is another option: gambling your time away with Mr. Game’s Voltorb Flip.

Let me just say, I love this guy about as much as I like Kadala. Which is not a whole lot. But he will trade you a Dratini for 10,000 coins, if you can avoid rage-throwing your DS that long.

I am a very stubborn person, so I got my Dratini before I took on Whitney’s gym. That was lucky, because the Dratini I got was female, which meant it would be immune to Whitney’s rotten old Miltank.

Now, my little team of Thor the Flaaffy, Tony the Quilava, Pepper the Togepi, Wanda the Wooper, and Gamora the Dratini are fresh out of their win against the Miltank and on their way to glory, but we’ll need another teammate before that.

Maybe Steve the Lapras?