Puzzles, Dragons, and Mario?
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 22 May 2015, 10:00 am

There was a free demo for the 3DS Mario version of Puzzle and Dragon on the eShop so I grabbed it to see what the game was about.

I've never played Puzzle and Dragons before, but what I found was a game somewhere between a Bejeweled, Puzzle Quest, and Terra Battle.  If you're not familiar with those games, it's basically a game where you're trying to match 3 or more gems of the same color in a row or column.  Every time you start moving a gem it shifts all the others it travels through in order to get to it's final destination.  The game quickly becomes more about bumping other gems around rather than concentrating on the gem you're dragging.  Moving the gem around is timed, but you can freely move it as much as you want and as far as you want within the time limit.

You end up trying to bump as many gems into combos as you can within the time limit to set up massive damage.  You have a team of characters sitting above the gems, and those team members correspond to gem colors.  When you match up gems of their color they will attack.  So, line up 3 or more red gems and all your red characters will attack the enemy.

I had fun playing the intro level to the Mario version of Puzzle and Dragons but I got demolished in the expert level.

I felt like I must be missing something so I grabbed the regular Puzzle and Dragons on my phone and started to play (since it's free to play).  After less than a day I'm already bored of it.  It's completely designed to make you start running into roadblocks so you need to pay to play adequately.  Once I reached that point - and it only took a few hours -  I deleted the app from my phone and moved on.

Then I went back to the Puzzle and Dragons Mario Edition and tried the expert level again, thinking that maybe my newfound skill would help me.  It did not.

Now I'm kind of caught in a dilemma.  The core gameplay of Puzzle and Dragon isn't bad for a puzzle game, it's actually kind of fascinating.  The thing that turned me away from the game is the freemium/F2P structure... but the Mario version won't have that.  But apparently the Mario version gets very hard and that can be just as frustrating.

I'll probably hold off while I wait to read some reviews on the Mario version.  I'm glad I played around with these games a bunch, now I know what people are talking about when they mention the craze that is Puzzle and Dragons in Japan.

Thor: God of Thunder
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 21 May 2015, 10:00 am

Thor: God of Thunder is an awesome run of comics.  I want to tell you about it but I haven't done much writing about comics in the past.  I'm going to try anyway.

By picking up a Marvel Unlimited subscription earlier this month I've been able to dive into the entire Marvel backlog of comics.  Without having to worry about price I've been exploring all kinds of comics.  I give a new series an issue or two to grab me and then I either read the entire run or I move on to something else.

Thor: God of Thunder has been one of the best runs I've read.

It requires no previous knowledge about Thor or the greater Marvel Universe.  This is a huge plus for people like me who are just starting to get into comics.

The run comes in at about 25 comics, which is also a plus for me.  Long enough to tell some big story archs with weight behind them.  But not too long to overstay it's welcome.

Thor: God of Thunder actually covers Thor in three different time periods of his life at the same time.  They all weave together to tell a cohesive story on a galactic level.  There's Thor as a young god before he got his hammer, Thor as we know him (the Avenger), and old Thor who is one of the last gods.

The first arc of the story involves a God Killer.  He goes around to all the deities he can find and wipes them out.  Thor tries to track him down and end his killing spree.

There's a lot of depth to this series and if you have Marvel Unlimited I highly suggest checking it out.  Look for Thor: God of Thunder (2012) in the app and you'll find it.

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 20 May 2015, 10:00 am

After my disappointing stint with Final Fantasy Tactics I thought I would go back to some of my early Final Fantasy roots and dig out my copy of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance.  This is my all time favorite Game Boy Advance game and it's one of the Final Fantasy games that I've put the most time into.

When I booted up the game for the first time I already had two separate save games on the cartridge, each with over 50 hours played in them.

I started up a new game and after the intro missions it all came flooding back to me.  I have such strong memories of playing this game.  It's really good!  The general battle structure is similar to Final Fantasy Tactics but it gets rid of the deal-breaking annoying features of that game.

I love Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and I've beaten it multiple times.  And you know what?  After a couple hours with it I realized that I don't feel the need to beat it again right now.  It's a great game but I've already finished it in full on many occasions.  I don't think a long enough amount of time has passed for me to dig into this one again.

I'm going to put this game down with fond memories, knowing that I'll pick it up again some day in the future.  It really is a fantastic game.  But playing Final Fantasy Tactics Advance reminded me that I have never finished it's sequel, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2.  So that's the next game I'm diving into.

Final Fantasy Project Article List

Star Wars Lords of the Sith
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 19 May 2015, 10:00 am

I just finished Star Wars Lords of the Sith and it was excellent!

It's a novel in the new Star Wars canon.  It's about the Twilek struggle on their home planet of Ryloth and how the Empire interferes with them.  But that's more the backdrop than anything else.  What this book is truly about is the relationship between Darth Vader and the Emporer.

Through the eyes of both Vader and members of the resistance on Ryloth we get to see the events unfold as an assassination attempt is made against the Sith Lords.

This is one of the more interesting looks at Vader's character development that I've ever seen.  It does a good job of having Vader deal with his past as Anakin and in the process we, as the reader, get to learn more about the Dark Side of the Force.

I'm not sure how to talk more about what I liked in this novel without ruining some of the plot.  But, it's an easy recommendation if you're curious about Vader, the Emperor, or the Dark Side and want to learn more.

It looks like so far they've done a consistently good job with media in the new canon of Star Wars.  I'm still adjusting to having the old Expanded Universe wiped out, but if things continue like this I'll be happy.

The Force Unleashed II
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 18 May 2015, 10:00 am

I picked up The Force Unleashed and The Force Unleashed II last a few weeks ago in the Star Wars Steam sale.  After messing around in the original game for awhile I moved on to the sequel.  It's a better game by far.

I had much more fun playing around with it.  There are a ton of extra abilities and powers that are unlocked from the very beginning of the game which make it fun right away.  The controls are also tighter and the level designs are more interesting.  In all respects this seems like the superior game.

I don't think there has been a long enough amount of time since I last played it.  I remember the game really well, so it wasn't as exciting as last time I played it.  And unlike when I picked up the original The Force Unleashed last week, this one doesn't have DLC that I had never played.

So I'm done with The Force Unleashed II after playing with it for a few hours, but I'm leaving it on a happy note.  There's still a really good game here and I know I'll revisit it eventually.  And now I have it in my Steam library thanks to a great sale!

Starting SWTOR, Abandoning SWTOR
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 15 May 2015, 10:00 am

I've said in the past that one of the only things that would get me into SWTOR is if they made it possible to only play the story while ignoring the grind.  About a week after I said that on Twitter one of my friends pointed me to the announcement that all storyline missions would get a 12 times experience boost starting May 4th for the summer.

So I had to try it out.

I was immediately drawn in by the Star Wars aesthetics.  I love the universe and the lore so much.  And then I was almost as immediately let down by the MMO-ness of the game.

Apparently all my time with Final Fantasy XIV had tricked me into thinking that I enjoyed the MMO genre again.  That's not true.  I like Final Fantasy XIV, but it does a lot of things that separate it from the rest of the genre.  SWTOR doesn't do anything like that.  It just has the Star Wars IP going for it.

I tried to just play it like a single player game.  I did love the original Knight of the Old Republic single player game and this is supposed to be a true follow-up to it.

I got a Bounty Hunter to 25 before giving up on the character.  The story wasn't grabbing me and the planets I was on were very dull and uninteresting.

I asked some people I trust on Twitter about other class quests and I decided to give Sith Warrior a shot.  It was much more fun!  I liked the story a lot more than the Bounty Hunter, but after getting the Sith Warrior into the mid-20s the MMO-ness of the game wore on me too much.  I couldn't do it anymore.

So I'm done.  I gave SWTOR a good try.  I got two separate classes over a third of the way through their individual class quests and the game still didn't hook me.

Now I know that Final Fantasy XIV is an exception when it comes to MMOs for me.  Not the rule.  This makes me much less likely to try going back to other MMOs in the future.  Instead, I'll bide my time waiting for the Final Fantasy XIV expansion to come out.  At least now I know.

Revisiting Destiny and the Level Gap
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 14 May 2015, 10:00 am

I've been playing Destiny some more.  It's my current exercise-bike game.  I'll play it for an hour or two at a time while I'm doing my exercise for the day.

The gameplay still hold up really well.  The core of the game is just superb.  The gunplay, melee, grenade, and super power balance is spot on.  It's amazing how great they made it.

Now that I'm almost done leveling up my second character through the story I'm noticing some of the same issues creeping up.

My main problem with the game is that after you hit level 20 there is no clear progression track if you're a solo player like me.  I don't have time to organize groups of people to do the hard mode strikes or the endgame raids in Destiny.  The matchmaking works just fine for normal strike missions, but it falls apart after that.  And there is no matchmaking at all for raids.

I currently have a level 26 Warlock and an almost level 20 hunter.

Tons of information about the new expansion came out last week, and while some of it looks like it would be perfect for me I don't think I can play it.  The content starts at level 28.  My highest character is level 26.  There's no clear path for me, as a solo player, to get two more light levels.  So, an expansion that would be a day one buy for me (because of the new co-op mode) has become a never buy.

The Destiny team needs to take a note from the way MMOs typically do expansions.  They always seem to give returning players a clear and quick way to dive into the new content.  If Destiny had that, I would grab the new expansion for the co-op mode alone.

Summer Drought
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 13 May 2015, 10:00 am
Video games traditionally have a summer drought, and we're currently staring it in the face.  There are still a few releases trickling out this month that I'm excited out - mainline Splatoon - but the rest of the release calendar looks pretty bare between now and September.

This always happens, but I seem to forget about it until it hits each summer.  Summer is the time when people have the most free time but it's also the time of year where people spend their days outside.  Less people are inside playing videogames.

It makes sense that publishers would hold back big releases until the fall when they can start tying them in to the Holiday release season.

That means that this is the perfect time to settle in and work on your backlog.  Or hunker down with a game that you're having fun with and experience everything it has to offer.

I know I'm planning on getting into my backlog again.  I also want to keep working on my Final Fantasy Project by investigating more of the spin-off games.

While game releases are winding down the movie hype cycle is in full swing.  All the summer blockbusters are coming!  I'm looking forward to those.

And it's summer!  I'm going to get outside with my kids and play.  I also love sitting on my porch reading, and now is the perfect time.

How about you, dear readers?  What's your summer plan?

Final Fantasy Tactics
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 12 May 2015, 10:00 am

I don't like the difficulty curve in this game.  That's my initial impression.  I loved the first few missions of Final Fantasy Tactics, but then I ran into a brick wall as far as difficulty was concerned.

I should mention, I'm playing the remastered PSP version of this game on my PS Vita called Final Fantasy Tactics War of the Lions.  Just another reason to love my PS Vita.  It plays so many classic Playstation games.

Despite the difficulty curve that I ran into, Final Fantasy Tactics is a good game.  All the underlying systems are solid.  I can see how it's been a huge influence on all the tactical RPGs that have followed it.  And the story is great.  It's a conflict on a grand scale, but the main character is right in the thick of it.  It seems like Tactics delivers on the grand scale conflict in a way that Final Fantasy XII failed to do.

In some ways the game is starting to show it's age.  It has unskippable story sequences which suck if you have to retry the same battle multiple times.... which you will have to do.  And the reason you will is because this game has permadeath for it's characters.  If you character falls in battle and you don't revive them before that battle is over they are gone forever.  These characters that you've poured hours and hours of effort into are just gone.  So, you'll reset to your last save and try the battle again.  And again.  Until you can perfectly execute it without losing a single unit.

I don't like this at all.  It's my single biggest complaint about the game.  My time is precious to me these days and if I'm just banging my head against a wall without making progress I get frustrated.  I have been able to consistently win battles one my first try, but I typically lose a character or two.  Then I have to redo the battle over and over until I get it perfect.  It feels like a waste of time.

Despite the really cool underlying systems,  the steep difficulty curve and permadeath combine to make Final Fantasy Tactics a very frustrating game for me.

I've seen so many people say that this is their favorite Final Fantasy.  It might very well have been mine too if I discovered it in my teens when I had all the free time in the world.  But I feel like I'm ready to give up on the game.  I'd rather play a tactical RPG without permadeath.  I hate it as a mechanic.  It's punishing and not fun at all.

I haven't completely written Final Fantasy Tactics off, but I'm very close to it.  Next time the game frustrates me I'm going to be done with it.

Final Fantasy Project Article List

A Return to Hearthstone
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 11 May 2015, 10:00 am

Hearthstone is now available on phones!  As a result I've played it more in the last few weeks than I have in the last year.

It's a great fit on phones.  They already have the touch controls perfected from the tablet versions of the game, they just had to make some minor adjustments for smaller screen sizes and the game is good to go.  I actually think the phone version may be the best version of the game since it can always be in your pocket.

My problem now is that I'm really struggling with not having modern decks.  I don't have any of the expansion content and most of my good decks from when I initially played the game  just suck now.

It's frustrating because I really want to get into it again, but I either need to spend a ton of time earning gold to unlock cards or drop a bunch of real world money on the same thing.  If there were a core pack of cards that I could buy for a flat fee to catch back up I would do it.  But I can't really justify spending the amount of real world money I would need to spend on random cards in booster packs to achieve the same thing.

I'm not sure what to do at this point.  I love piloting a good deck, but the actual acquisition of cards and deck building aren't appealing to me.  It looks like I have a long and slow grind ahead if I want to make my decks viable again.

Right now I'm just having fun messing around with it on my phone but soon I'll need to decide if I want to make it a daily activity and really try to build my card library back up.

Marvel Heroes 2015
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 8 May 2015, 10:00 am

A bunch of my digital friends have been playing Marvel Heroes 2015 as a side game, so I thought it would be fun to check out.  It's mostly the fault of Belghast and the Aggrochat crew.  Since I play Final Fantasy XIV with them and listen to their weekly podcast they can definitely influence me to try out new games.

I've never really liked diablo-ish clickfests.  But, maybe I just wasn't playing them in the right setting.  Putting a superhero skin on the game makes it much more appealing to me somehow.  I'm actually really liking the game.  It's not going to become my main time-sink ever but it could consistently become a fun side game.

My biggest takeaway after a few days is that Storm kicks ass.  I tried a bunch of the free starter heroes, but Storm's huge AOE damage ability is super fun.  She's most definitely my main character now.  But, the good part is they have tons of heroes to choose from.  If you have a favorite from the Marvel Universe you can probably play as it.

The game is also free to play, but I haven't paid anything so far.  It seems to be completely viable to play through the game without paying money as long as you're happy with only having a couple heroes.  If you start buying more heroes or costumes then you're going to end up dropping real world money, but it seems to be completely optional.

It's free and it's on Steam.  If you have any interest in a Diablo style game in a Marvel Superhero setting there's no reason not to check it out.

Star Wars The Force Unleashed Bonus Levels
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 7 May 2015, 10:00 am

I picked up Star Wars The Force Unleashed on Steam last week since they were having their big Star Wars sale.  I already owned this game on 360, but since my 360 is long dead I figured I would add it to my PC library for $5.

I played the first couple levels and reacquainted myself with the game.  Then I realized I didn't particularly want to replay it right now.

But, then I noticed that the Steam version has bonus scenarios that I never had on 360.  So, I fired those up and had a good time.  They are definitely alternate reality scenarios, but they're all the more fun for it.

Want to hunt down Luke Skywalker on Hoth as Darth Vader's secret apprentice?  You can!  And it's super fun!  You can really tell the developers had fun with these extra scenarios.

After playing through those extras and now knowing that I have this game back in my library I definitely feel I got my $5 worth.  I love Steam sales.

White Mage to 50!
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 6 May 2015, 10:00 am

I got my second class to the level cap in Final Fantasy XIV!  I now have my Bard and also my White Mage at level 50!

Healing has been really interesting because I've never played a healer in a MMO before.  I suppose I've probably fooled around with some at very low levels but I've definitely never taken one to the level cap in any MMO.

It's amazing how I'm basically playing a different game when I'm a healer.  My job is to keep my party alive during crazy boss battles.  That's often easier said than done.  There's more pressure to perform than when I'm playing a DPS class, but less pressure than when Tanking.  It's actually hitting a sweet spot for me.  I can do tanking and DPS just fine but tanking is a bit too stressful to be fun.

Now, when I'm running level 50 content I have options!  I can change up my playstyle for whatever mood I'm in!  It's also really nice to be able to help out members of my Free Company easier since I can now fill multiple roles.

Not to mention one of the best parts of being a healer... super fast queue times!  I barely ever have to wait for a group to form.  Healers are in great demand!  Where I would typically wait 15-45 minutes in the group finder as a DPS class now I generally find a group in less than 5 minutes.  It's amazing.

Getting another class to endgame was my second major goal in Final Fantasy XIV and now that I've finished it I truly feel ready for the expansion to launch in June.  I'll probably slow down a bit while I wait for the expansion but I still plan on puttering around in game regularly.

Final Fantasy Project Article List

Marvel Unlimited
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 5 May 2015, 10:00 am

I need to stop saying I'm not a comic guy.  I bought a month subscription to Marvel Unlimited and I'm loving it!

For those of you that don't know, Marvel Unlimited is a subscription service where you get access to the entire Marvel back-catalog of comics.

I was convinced to buy into a month subscription because Marvel just put their old Star Wars comics onto the service.

I started poking around in the Star Wars comics on the service and I was severely disappointed.  They're old... they don't appeal to my modern tastes.  Then I thought I'd dive into the classic superhero comics.  They were super boring too.

So I just started clicking on comics I had never heard of and reading the first issue of different series.  That's when I started finding diamonds in the rough.  Apparently I like non-traditional comics.

Runaways is an amazing series about teenagers who discover that all their parents are supervillains so they run away from home together.  Then they slowly discover that they also have powers and abilities.  It's really good.

Then I found Mary Jane.  The comic, not the other thing.  It's all about high school from Mary Jane's perspective.  Spider-man is in the comic, but very rarely.  He's definitely not in every issue.  And it's SO GOOD!  Something about the high school drama in a superhero world is really working for me.

Dear readers, I guess I'm not a fan of traditional comic books, but can you recommend anything else in the Marvel backlog for me to check out?  I'd really appreciate it!

Star Wars Clone Wars Season 1
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 4 May 2015, 10:00 am

I finally finished watching Star Wars Clone Wars season 1.

For those of you who don't know, the show is set in between Star Wars Episode II and Episode III.  It details many of the events of the Clone Wars.  It has some of the main movie cast like Anakin, Padme, Obi-Wan, and a bunch of key Jedi but there are a bunch of unique characters too.

It's been a really slow burn for me.  Some of the episodes were great!  But, a lot of them were lackluster.  I liked the episodes that felt like they tied into a larger narrative, but there were just as many that were one-offs.

Everyone I've talked to says the series gets really good once you get a few seasons in.  So, I keep trudging through.

I'm generally enjoying it but it seems like I can only watch and episode or two at a time.  It's not a show I can marathon through.  If I knew the point where the show really starts to pick up I could probably push through just to get there.  I'm not sure when that will be.

I'll keep picking away at these episodes when I have time.  I see a lot of potential in the show.  I just need to see how the rest of the series unfolds.

Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 1 May 2015, 10:00 am
Our group weekly topic this week is Roleplaying!  I haven't really done much of it honestly, but I wish I had gotten into roleplaying more.  I haven't ever been worried about the stigma associated with it, I just haven't had a good opportunity to dig in.

I've only tried DnD a few times for probably less than 8 hours total.  My brother did some DMing for my family and we all seemed to like it.  The problem has always been scheduling.  It's hard to find time for a group of people to sit down and game on a regular basis.  It's only gotten more difficult afte having kids.

I'm hoping to try out more DnD and attempt some other role playing systems once my kids get a little bit older.  I think they'll have fun with it, and it gives me a great excuse to get into the hobby.

The main thing on my roleplaying radar at the moment is Thornwatch.  I'm really excited for the Thornwatch roleplaying game from the Penny Arcade guys!  I love their work, the world they've created for the game, and the things they're doing to streamline playing and DMing.  I think I'm going to try to DM Thornwatch for some people once the game is eventually released!

I'm actually going to PAX for the first time later this year and one of the main things I want to check out while there is Thornwatch!  I'll definitely report back when I do.

As always, it's time for the Friday link-up!  If you're reading in a RSS feed click through to see the majesty.  Drop in any link from the past week that you thought was exceptionally good!

An InLinkz Link-up

X-Wing Rogue Squadron
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 30 April 2015, 10:00 am

I'm continuing down the path of re-exploring some of my favorite childhood novels in the Star Wars universe.  I'm finally to the part of the New Republic Era of books where it starts to get really good.  I just finished reading X-Wing Rogue Squadron and I'm surprised to find that it's still as good as I remembered it.

I was afraid this series wouldn't hold up.  I haven't read these books since I was a teenager or earlier.  It's still fantastic.

Rogue Squadron is the famous squadron of X-Wing pilots that developed out of Red Squadron from the first Star Wars movie.  Most of the well known pilots have either died or moved on when this series picks up.  Only a few veteran rogues are left to rebuild the squadron with new members.

It's a good primer on a few of my favorite characters from the Star Wars universe, Wedge Antilles and Corran Horn.

Wedge was one of Luke's friends and he is the current leader of Rogue Squadron.  He's the most veteran fighter pilot and he's been a huge part of the rebellion's success.  He's one of the pilots that took out the second Death Star.

Corran Horn is a CorSec officer turned Rogue Squadron Pilot.  He has the background of being a police officer for the Corellian system and an amazing pilot.  As Rogue Squadron diversifies and has more ground engagements he really starts to show his skills.  He eventually goes on to become a Jedi.

This is also a great series because characters are introduced, developed, and killed throughout the series.  We are now far enough away from the movies' main cast that most characters don't have plot immunity.  Bad things can happen to them and they can actually be put in real danger.  It makes the series so much better.

This particular book in the X-Wing series shows the reformation of Rogue Squadron with new pilots and the way the Squadron starts spearheading the New Republic push toward Imperial Center.  The Emperor is dead but the Empire lives on.  The New Republic is gaining the upper hand, but they haven't freed the galaxy yet.

I had so much fun reading this one that I'm excited to immediately jump into the next book in this X-Wing series!

More Star Wars Legends Articles

The Rithmatist
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 29 April 2015, 10:00 am

I love Brandon Sanderson.  Not the man... but his books.  They're so good.  With the exception of his very first novel, Elantris, I've loved every single book or novella of his that I've read.  I recommend them to people all the time.

I just finished listening to the audiobook version of The Rithmatist.  I've read the book a few times before, so the audiobook was a change of pace.  But, it was great!

The world of The Rithmatist is basically an alternative history version of the early 1900s in the U.S.  Some major event has shaken the world, changed the landscape, and created a new form of science/math called Rithmatics.  Those in the world who are Rithmatists can use chalk to do things that would be considered magic in other circumstance, but it conforms to a very precise set of laws and theories.  It's an interesting setting.

We learn throughout the book that wild creatures called chalklings may be on the loose.  They are animated chalk-like drawings that can interact with the world.

I don't know how much more to talk about the setting and the story, I'm afraid I could ruin it for anyone interested in reading the book.

If you're already a Brandon Sanderson fan you should definitely read this book.  If you haven't ever read a Sanderson book this is actually a great entry point into his work.  It's a quick read that will let you see his ability for amazing world building.  I highly recommend it.

Marco Polo Impressions
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 28 April 2015, 10:00 am

Last week I wrote a little bit about my impressions of Daredevil after the first few episodes.  This week I checked out Marco Polo, another Netflix Original Series, and I'm reporting back after watching the same amount of episodes.

I like it so much more than Daredevil.

This is my kind of show.  There's intrigue and competing objectives.  It's epic in scope, yet based on real events of the past.  In some ways it reminds me of Game of Thrones.

Marco Polo is the son of a merchant who travels the world looking for new goods and trade routes.  He tags along while his father is visiting Kublai Khan and ends up unexpectedly getting placed as a servant in his court to save his father's merchant dealings.  It's the story of a westerner thrown into an eastern culture.

It's all set in the 1200s and based on historic facts.  I think that's so cool!

I love the characters and I'm already very invested in seeing what ends up happening.  This show immediately grabbed me in a way that Daredevil failed to.  This is why I keep giving Netflix Original Series a try.  Different shows appeal to different people and this one clicked with me.

Final Fantasy XIII-2
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 27 April 2015, 10:00 am

My first thoughts on started Final Fantasy XIII-2 were: I have no idea what's going on.

Lightning is in Valhalla fighting a new enemy.   There's an epic battle that feels like it belongs at the end of a game, not the beginning.  It is given no context.  Then a random new character is transported there through time and/or space and told to go on a mission to bring Serah to Lightning.

Then we cut to Serah who has memories of the events of at the end of Final Fantasy XIII.  Unfortunately for her, most people don't remember it the same way.  They all say that Lightning was never there at the end of Final Fantasy XIII.

After playing for the first few hours of the game it becomes apparent that timelines are mixed up and there are paradoxes everywhere.  The game is structured around unlocking new timelines, traveling through time, and solving paradoxes.

It's not a bad premise, even though it's explained very poorly, but the gameplay doesn't do enough to differentiate itself from Final Fantasy XIII.  In fact, the combat is identical to Final Fantasy XIII and that makes me very sad.  I've already spent enough time with this Paradigm shift battle system.  I never need to see it again.

That's not the only negative either.  The game engine doesn't seem as smooth as Final Fantasy XIII.  I'm playing on a very high-end PC and I saw a ton of slow down in the game.  The cutscenes may be gorgeous, but the game engine stutters along.

So after playing for awhile I realized that this game just isn't going to hook me.  I thought that maybe I would be able to complete the Lightning Trilogy if I just sat down and started on Final Fantasy XIII-2, but I feel like this game isn't worth my time.  In the end I read a plot summary so that if I choose to try out Lightning Returns I have a little more context.  Based on the plot summary, the story in this game seems all over the place.

I don't think I'm missing much by skipping it.

While I love Final Fantasy, and I'm willing to play through any mainline game, I won't slog through a spin-off game just because it has Final Fantasy in the title.  Since I wasn't having fun with Final Fantasy XIII-2 it is time to move on.

Final Fantasy Project Article List

Star Wars!
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 24 April 2015, 10:00 am

I love Star Wars.  I was super excited to see this topic come up as our community post topic today.  But now I don't even know where to start.

Here's the truth: Star Wars is my weakpoint.

If I were a boss in a videogame, Star Wars would be my giant blinking red section.... or something.

I consume everything Star Wars.  The movies, novels, ebooks, audiobooks, videogames, toys, board games, trailers, fan theories, whatever I can get my hands on.  I just love Star Wars.

I'm so happy to see it coming into the hands of a generation of creators who grew up with the original trilogy.  The Star Wars trailer last week gives me a ton of hope for the direction of the series.  I think JJ Abrams is going to knock it out of the park.  It seems like he has immense respect for the original trilogy but he also understands what needs to be done to bring the films into a modern age.

And he's just the first creator at the reigns.  I honestly expect to see new Star Wars movies every year, much like we're seeing with Marvel.  Now that Disney is in charge of the IP we should see a huge expansion of all things Star Wars.  And it will be consistent!  That's something that was never very well controlled in the old expanded universe.  From this point forward, all Star Wars shows, games, movies, books, comics, and everything else will be canon.  And that's super exciting!

How do you guys feel about Star Wars these days?  Drop a comment below.

And since it's Friday, drop a link from your favorite content in the past week into the linkup!  Give a link, take a link, share the love, all that!

An InLinkz Link-up

Ready Player One
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 23 April 2015, 10:00 am

Ready Player One is a gamerpunk book set in a dystopian future.  Everyone spends all their free time in The Oasis, a fantastic virtual reality world, because the real world sucks.

It's a look at the possible future of virtual reality, but Ready Player One is also a celebration of pop culture.

The creator of The Oasis has died and he has left an Easter Egg in the virtual world.  Whoever can solve the puzzle and find the egg will receive control of The Oasis and be able to do with it as they see fit.  Since the original creator grew up in the 70s and 80s... all of that pop culture has become relevant to a new generation.  It's awesome.

It's a book filled with movie, music, and videogame reference and they're amazingly well done.  It's obvious that the author knows his stuff when he's writing about it.

This is a book that I can easily recommend to every gamer out there.  It's fantastic!

Daredevil Impressions
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 22 April 2015, 10:00 am

I love Netflix original series.  It's fantastic that one of the modern streaming media services is getting so much into content creation.  I've been hooked on House of Cards since it first came out and it's given me interest in every project they've done since then.

Daredevil is the first Netflix original series created in partnership with Marvel.  I really like what Marvel has been doing with movies lately, so the show intrigued me.  I remember watching the first Daredevil movie with Ben Afleck, so the bar is set pretty low for this show.  I thought I would give it a try.

I watched the first few episodes and they're ok.  I've been hearing friends rave about how amazing this show is, but maybe it's just not for me.  That's not to say I can't see the positives in it.

Daredevil is an interesting take on a gritty world.  He's a hero without the typical superpowers.  When he gets into a fight he actually has to expend effort.  He gets tired, and beat up, and bloodied.  It really shows the tole that the body takes in fighting.  It's a fascinating change of pace from the typical superhero.

My problem with the show is that the characters failed to connect with me.  They're not very deep.  Also, everything is extremely predictable.  I didn't care about the characters after watching the first few episodes, so I stopped watching.

Maybe the series gets better.  I could see that being the case.  But, I don't know if I want to spend any more of my time finding that out.  Time is precious to me these days as my free time is limited.

Final Fantasy XIV: Everything to 15... and Beyond!
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 21 April 2015, 10:00 am

I leveled all the classes in Final Fantasy XIV to 15 or higher!  My Bard is still my main class at level 50 and pretty well geared, but I wanted to branch out.  The run from 1-15 gets a little grindy in the 10-15 range so I buckled down and just got it done for all the classes.  The best part about hitting 15 is getting access to the dungeon finder.

As soon as a class hit level 15 I started taking it through low level dungeon finder and getting a feel for it.  I've found I'm really enjoying tanking and healing.  A big part of this might be the super fast queue times.  They're amazing!

When I was leveling my main Bard class it would take 30-45 minutes to queue for a dungeon since I was DPS.  When playing a healer or tank it has never taken more than 5 minutes in the dungeon queue.  It's great!  As soon as I want to run a dungeon... I just do.

Out of all the remaining classes I latched onto Gladiator and Conjurer.  These are the two classes that lead to the Paladin and White Mage jobs.  I'm having so much fun with them in dungeons that I almost didn't realize how much they were leveling up.  I got both of them to 30 and got their advanced jobs already.  I actually have my White Mage in the low 40s, with endgame level 50 in sight.

It's going to be awesome to have a couple different classes with different roles at endgame.  It'll give me options to play around with, and I'm really excited for it.  I'm thinking of maybe trying to get one class for each role up to level 50 before the expansion hits.  The main takeaway for me has been that I'm still having fun with Final Fantasy XIV, and that's what matters.

Final Fantasy Project Article List

Star Wars Hype!
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 20 April 2015, 10:00 am
The Star Wars The Force Awakens teaser trailer 2 launched at the end of last week and it's amazing.  I'm such a huge Star Wars fanboy.  Star Wars is my weakpoint.  I'll see any movie they put out.  I'll buy all the books and get into the games.  I can't resist.

But it's amazing to see such promise for the new direction Star Wars is taking.  I know my own judgement on Star Wars is skewed, but it seems like most people are allowing themselves to get excited for this one.  Not to mention the new information on Star Wars Battlefront and Star Wars Rogue One!  The hype is real!

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