Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Legend of Zelda series is currently my favorite to play!

In some ways I grew up with Zelda because I had Link's Awakening on Gameboy and Ocarina of Time on Nintendo 64.  I only played them about once through and didn't remember too much about them, so replaying them has been really fun.

I played through the original Legend of Zelda on 3DS virtual console. For an NES game, it is really quite amazing! I did use a map to help get through the game, and I've been replaying it for my second time. It really is a classic, and it introduces a standard of gameplay that sets the bar for the rest of the series.

After beating the original, I went on to replay A Link Between Worlds and Phantom Hourglass. Hourglass has great control with the stylus. After all I get tired of pressing buttons with my thumb all day sometimes. The dungeon maps are very good in this game too.

A Link Between Worlds focuses on action, combat, and exploration. It also has a mechanic of wall walking where you merge and become a painting to traverse areas you couldn't otherwise. It shares the same world from A Link to the Past, and that's a game I want to play again sometime as well. Buying and renting items from a new character is how this game gives you equipment. I like it, and you do buy items in other Zelda games, but this takes it too a new level. However, you also find useful items in the dungeons as well. I like it a lot and like the original LoZ, I think it's very replayable.

Now that Ocarina of Time 3D has become a Nintendo Selects game I got it for a good price on the eShop. I've been enjoying re-visiting this game, but I haven't played for a few days. It's fun. Last time I played, I had just finished the Fire Temple. I'll get back to it soon.

On my replay of Link's Awakening, I am pretty far in the game. I'm playing with my original Gameboy cartridge on my GBA SP. I found it fun at the beginning, and I like how it shares some characteristics with the original NES Zelda game, such as the grid-based world and dungeon maps, and the inventory system. It's actually the hardest one I've played so far, and the areas are maze-like. I just beat the 5th dungeon today, and bought the bow and arrows, which was very expensive at 980 rupees. I found a good place to grind for money where the enemies respawn quickly and usually drop rupees.

Since I enjoyed my time with the games in April, I ordered two new to me games in May: The Minish Cap (GBA) and Spirit Tracks (DS).  The Minish Cap is a lot of fun so far, but I can't say much more about it than that yet since I have only beat two dungeons. The Spirit Tracks is like Phantom Hourglass, but instead of a boat, you ride a train. It's cool. The only thing I don't like is that you have to blow into the DS system's microphone a lot, to use a whirlwind item and to play your flute. It's very gimmicky in my opinion. But the pace of the game is pretty good so far.

I'm planning on playing through the ones I haven't finished in the next few months. I'm really enjoying going back to the Legend of Zelda games and playing both old and new ones.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Still reading

I've been reading outside fantasy mostly, although I did start a re-read of the Lord of the Rings, which is a classic fantasy.

I really enjoyed The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick and What's Eating Gilbert Grape by Peter Hedges.

I'm taking a trip home so I hopefully will find some books to read in my old room.

Hope everyone is having a good year and finding some good books to read! Cheers.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Update


I read a few good books this past year...

The Lord of the Rings. I enjoyed this tale and I think it's one of the most classic of fantasy novels. Still holds up marvelously.

King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle. This was fun, written at the beginning of the 20th century, so it was written with a very archaic style.

Those are the main things I read. The Lord of the Rings kept me occupied for a long time. It was epic.

I am probably going to try re-reading The Name of the Wind soon.

Otherwise, I have been playing my Nintendo 3DS and might start a site to write about that.

I started reading the final Wheel of Time book, but I had to turn it back in to the library. I might try to take it out again because it is the last one....so I might as well find out the ending.

Hope everyone is having a happy new year!!!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Speculative Fiction Challenge 2011

This post is to follow up on the Speculative Fiction Challenge 2011, and show what I read in 2011.


The definition of speculative fiction is an "umbrella term". Especially considering this quote from the challenge:

For this first attempt at a reading challenge, I'm not going to be strict! Speculative fiction for me includes anything from the realm of science fiction, fantasy or horror - doesn't matter what subgenre, or whether it is tie-in fiction. I'm aiming to make this as inclusive as possible.

When I first signed up, 6 months late, I didn't initially include graphic novels in my first count. However, I have decided to include one in my final count - I think graphic novels can fairly count as speculative fiction. I also counted Hawkwood and the Kings as two, because it is an omnibus of two books, of at least 300 pages each.

It was somewhat stressful to come up with this list because I didn't read as much as I would have liked. I wanted to do better, and I hope to improve next year.

Here's what I read:

1. Watchmen
2. Spellwright
3. Speculative Horizons
4. Hawkwood's Voyage (Hawkwood and the Kings Book 1)
5. The Heretic Kings (Hawkwood and the Kings Book 2)
6. The Silent Land
7. Leviathan Wept
8. The Wise Man's Fear
9. The Executioness
10. The Alchemist
11. Game of Thrones (re-read)
12. Agatha H and the Airship City

The Executioness and The Alchemist


The Executioness and the Alchemist are shared world novellas by Tobias Buckell and Paolo Bacigalupi. I read them months apart, and the setting is still very memorable. The world is being encroached by a dangerous and deadly bramble, which is compounded by the use of magic. Hence, any magic use affects the bramble, so it only must be used in the direst of circumstances.

These books stand alone, although perhaps the most interesting part is the shared world, which adds depth and credibility to the stories. Published by Subterrannean Press, these novellas are very thought-provoking and readable. Recommended.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Agatha H and the Airship City


Agatha H and the Airship City: A Girl Genius Novel by Phil and Kaja Foglio, is a novel based on the first three books in their series of graphic novels, Girl Genius, originally published as a web comic on http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/.

The premise is a world of gaslamp fantasy, which is like steampunk with a zany twist of mad science and otherworldliness. The main character is Agatha, a girl who is an assistant at a lab for mad scientists, aka Sparks. There are a lot of minor characters and I find that they are all rather unique.

I find it hard not to compare the novel to the graphic novels, upon which it is based. However, I will say that it does stand alone, so there really is no need to compare and contrast. There is a lot of contrast though, and it shows that a cartoon, or comic, is really only a way to tell a story, and that story can be transposed to another medium successfully.

The language is very good; it is both readable, with a large vocabulary, and stylistic choices. I enjoy hearing the Jagerkin talk, who speak with a certain dialect that is spelled out so you can imagine their accent.

Very early on I noticed something that seemed like deus ex machina, and in my opinion this can be a good plot device when used tastefully, especially if it has been foreshadowed. I know deus ex machina is sometimes seen as a negative thing, but I'm not criticizing anything here. The plot is actually refreshing and original. Highly recommended!

You can find out more on the official site for the book at http://www.girlgeniusbooks.com/.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What's On My Plate

This post is about books that are "on my plate" so to speak. These ones are next on the list, because these are books that I actually requested and/or won from publishers/blogs.

I am sharing them with you so that you will know some of the books I may be reviewing...and reading... Well, I will most likely read them first.

They are, from left to right:

Sword of Fire and Sea, by Erin Hoffman (published by Pyr)
Kings of Eternity (published by Solaris)
The Black Chalice by Steven Saville (published by Abaddon)
Agatha H and the Airship City by Phil & Kaja Foglio (published by Night Shade Books)
Never Knew Another by J.M. McDermott (published by Night Shade Books)
The Desert of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones (published by St. Martin's Press)
The Falling Machine by Andrew P. Mayer (published by Pyr)

These, as well as the ones I won from the Best SFF Novels of the Decade Readers Poll, are all fair game for reviews. So that's what's on my plate, my metaphysical platter of reading materials.

Also I already have started Sword of Fire and Sea. Erin Hoffman knows lots of big words.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Wise Man's Fear


The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss is the sequel to The Name of the Wind. I feel like it might be kind of hard to review because it's a sequel… and so you've either read the first in the series, or you haven't. And if you've read The Name of the Wind and you liked it, chances are, you've already read The Wise Man's Fear. So I am going to try to avoid preaching to the choir in this review.

I really took my time with this book. I read it over like four months. It just didn't grab me the way the Name of the Wind did, where I just couldn't put it down. And from my perspective, for that reason, The Wise Man's Fear wasn't as much of a page turner as The Name of the Wind. 

Why? I think it's partially because there are so many side-stories. I didn't get a sense of reading through Kvothe's daily life. It was almost like reading about him going on vacation. Fortunately, I do feel like the author knew what he was doing because it resolves quite nicely.

Pat is remarkably transparent about his writing process. He wrote the whole story through first, and then came the process of revising, editing, and shaping it into books. I really want the whole story because that's how it was conceived. The endings of both books are anticlimactic. Of course, this is fine because there is more to come, the third book in the trilogy tentatively titled The Doors of Stone.

Despite longish pacing compared to The Name of the Wind, The Wise Man's Fear is a very entertaining book that definitely has its moments of transcendence. There are times when I really, really felt that Pat was being subversive about the fantasy genre, which is part of what he wants to do. When I caught onto it, I was like, yeah that's funny. And of course, there is a lot of excellently clever language, and I noticed the writing was often poetic as well. 

Personally, my favorite part of the book is when Kvothe is in school. That seems to be the most interesting and important to the main story, while he does become a legend from his other exploits. I can't wait to read book 3 because I really hope it pans out into the story that lives up to the legend he is supposed to be. In other words, I hope Pat doesn't take the idea of subverting the fantasy genre too seriously. Patrick Rothfuss is a remarkable writer, and I know anything he does will be well worth reading. I can't wait to see how he continues telling this story.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Demon's Souls


Well, I have really been enjoying the heck out of this game. The world, though, is sometimes like hell. It's very scary, and it's very dangerous. I have a feeling I am going to be playing this for a while longer until I've experienced the entire game. Highly recommended.

Try out the Temple Knight class for Heavy Armor. Although you'll want to switch to a different weapon than the Halberd, such as a Long Sword. Whatever class you pick, if it's melee, I would train a bunch of Endurance.

So yeah, the game is very tough. The first level is tough. If you can get through it, and at least the first level of each other world though, you should be able to beat the entire game if you stick with it, and have patience. It's a lot of fun. Some frustration, yes, but very rewarding. Ultimately though, I would say the difficulty is a bit too high. I think this about other games too though, so maybe it is just me.

There is a New Game Plus (NG+) function, which allows you to play the game again. The catch is that the difficulty is increased by as much as 40%. Yikes! The new game plus was indeed...frighteningly difficult. My character in Demon's Souls needs to have a more focused build.

I started a new game with the Hunter class and I've been enjoying that as well as the online multiplayer experience. It's fun to join someone else's world and fight a boss together in order to resurrect yourself.



There's also a sequel called Dark Souls coming out in October, on both Playstation 3, and Xbox 360. I will get it for my PS3. In fact I already have it preordered.

I hope that they reprint the Demon's Souls Deluxe Edition w/ Artbook & Soundtrack CD, which comes with a strategy guide. They can be found on ebay and Amazon, but they are overpriced. Oh well.

All in all Demon's Souls Greatest Hits is an amazing single player experience rpg with an online mode as well. It may ocassionally be frustrating, but the experience is worth it. It has changed the way I think about action rpgs.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Leviathan Wept by Daniel Abraham

Leviathan Wept and Other Stories, by Daniel Abraham, is a book where the phrase "Don't judge a book by its cover" is truly apt. I saw it and thought it would be fantasy because there was a character with a sword on the cover... Well, I was wrong. The works in here are mostly contemporary with a few fantasy and science fiction elements in the mix.


I enjoyed it. There were quite a few stories that were really interesting to read. I liked the way the characters were introduced but not really explained so much as their descriptions were concerned. This means it's really kind of based on the perspective of a character. I would say that it is definitely character-driven style narratives.

My favorite of the nine short stories in this anthology were: "The Support Technician Tango" and "Exclusion." I find those the most memorable of the stories. In the former, an office worker tries to improve himself by joining a dance class and reading a self-help book. In the latter, there is a way people can "exclude" other people by basically placing them on an ignore list, and then that person is invisible to them from that point on. I feel that the themes in his stories evoke the question of, "What if...?" What if you could exclude people so you never had to talk to them again? What if this other thing happened? And so on. 

One thing I noticed is that the ending to most of the stories felt abrupt. It wasn't a bad thing because it made it feel like the short story was just a snippet of some larger narrative. I like that, and I think it implies that Abraham is a clever writer who could really divulge on his themes. This makes me think I would enjoy his full-length novels. 

All in all, I recommend this if you're looking for a short story collection by one author. However, don't be drawn in only by the cover, because that illustration really only corresponds to one of the short stories ("A Hunter in Arin-Qin").