Final Fantasy XV Review
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 2 December 2016, 7:29 pm

I finished Final Fantasy XV already.  I've been home sick so I had a lot of time to blast through this game.  It was really fun and I liked it a lot!

But in a lot of ways Final Fantasy XV is an ambitious mess.  You can see that this game was caught in development hell for a long time.  There are a ton of different ideas thrown together and while some work... some just don't.  Some are super deep and others are barely fleshed out.  There are a lot of questionable decisions in the game design and just little inconsistencies too.  Overall, this game is ambitious and even though it doesn't always succeed at what it sets out to do... at least it tries.

But despite that, I liked this game a lot and I love seeing another mainline Final Fantasy come out!  It feels like this was a game Square Enix needed to get out of their development pipeline so they could finally move on and start on the next one.  In a lot of ways it seems like this game got caught in development hell for way too long.

Before I go further I should say that even though it's only been out for a few days I did put over 36 hours into the game since I've just been sick at home resting.  I did almost all the sidequests and tons of hunts.  I ended the game in the mid-50s for character levels.

Keep in mind that I like this game, but I really need to get a ton of nitpicks out of my head so how about we do those first:

  • The combat never really clicked with me.
  • This is the first modern open world effort for the studio and it shows.
  • The open world feels pretty empty compared to most modern games we're used to.  It's realistically dense compared to the real world, but that doesn't make for great game design.
  • Sometimes it feels like the worst parts of MMOs and Ubisoft open world games jammed together.
  • The side quests are very uninspired.  Kill X amount of things and find a thing are most of them.
  • Why can we only have one active quest at a time? Let me have more quest markers!
  • The road trip idea is cool but the execution needs work.  There's so much wasted time in the car when nothing happens.
  • There's a huge lack of talk in the car, and you spend so much time in the car.  Why don't they talk to each other more?
  • The camera framing isn't very cinematic in-engine when characters are talking.
  • Lips don't match up a lot of the time.
  • The second half of the main story feels rushed and has a completely different feel than the first half.
  • It seems like second half of the game was planned to be much more and fully realized with lots of open world areas but that didn't happen.
  • Every character not the main party of 4 feels underdeveloped.
  • Chapter 13 is really bad.  It totally breaks the flow of the game.
So those are my major gripes, my nitpicks.  But I really like the game in spite of them.  There are a  ton of good things going on with Final Fantasy XV.

When the four main characters are interacting this game is at it's best.  They feel realized and you definitely grow attached to them throughout the game.  I like the main character relationships a lot!

The main story gets told from their perspective and this game has some truly epic moments during the course of that story.  Almost all my gripes above are from the sidequests, not the main quest.  Not to mention that the story is actually easy to follow.  It's such a huge change from the word-salad that was FFXIII.  Good job getting back to storytelling Square Enix!


The progression system is really good.  It's a great mix of skill trees, experience points, and ability points.  I always had fun progressing and looking at my options for progression.  The side skills that are unique to each character are pretty cool too.  With Prompto's photography, Ignis's cooking, and Gladio's survival the only character who had a unique skill I didn't like was Noctus's fishing minigame.

Camping and sleeping to apply experience and gain levels is inspired.  It makes you take a break and just spend some time with your characters away from battle.  Whoever came up with that deserves a ton of praise.  Plus, Ignis will cook you a stat boosting meal for the next day!


The dungeons in Final Fantasy XV are some of the best I've ever seen in any game.  The sense of presence and atmosphere is amazing.  Every dungeon designer for any future game needs to play through the dungeons in Final Fantasy XV to see what they're stacking up against.

I can't believe I got this far without talking about the music.  You can pick up all the previous Final Fantasy soundtracks to play in the car while you're driving around which is pretty cool.  But even better than that is the Final Fantasy XV soundtrack itself.  It's fantastic and I love the music.  It'll stay with me for a long time.  I would put this soundtrack right near the top of FF soundtracks.

The main feeling I'm left with after beating this game is that I wish it had a New Game Plus mode.  I would love to take my overpowered characters through the game with their current powers while skipping all the side quests and just enjoy the story again.  I think I'll enjoy the game even more the second time around now that I know what I'm in for.

For now, I'm just going to pick away at some of the end-game content and enjoy the world a bit more before setting it down.  But I'm definitely holding out hope for a New Game Plus.

Since this is a mainline single player Final Fantasy game I need to rank it within my existing list.  This one was hard to place but it ended up fairly near the top... in the number three space right between Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy XIII.

Final Fantasy Ranking

  1. IX
  2. X
  3. XV
  4. XIII
  5. VIII
  6. VII
  7. VI
  8. IV
  9. V
  10. XII
  11. II
  12. I
  13. III


Total Completion Time: 36 hours 55 minutes 31 seconds

Final Fantasy Project Article List





S1E42 - Pokemon - “It’s just a really cute game, you know?”
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 2 December 2016, 10:00 am

Pokemon (plus Pokemon Sun and Moon)
  • Like pretty much everyone else these days, we grew up with Pokemon. And with it being the 20th anniversary of the series, we wanted to talk about the wonderful little pocket monsters and our history with them.
  • For the most part, Void has kept up with the series, playing through each iteration and seeing the changes that have come from Pokemon Red and Blue and Yellow all the way to Pokemon Sun and Moon. Beej, however, has only played Blue and Omega Ruby, so our takes on the series are different, but we both love it.
  • In terms of the games themselves, the generations iterate very slowly, and despite being 20 years later, the games are fundamentally the same. Each generation gives you modern conveniences and quality of life improvements that make the newer games well worth playing if you enjoy the formula.
  • Given the length and popularity of Pokemon over the past 20 years, there have been oodles of pokemon spin off games. One of our favorites was Pokemon Snap, where you travel on rails, competing for taking the best photos of the critters in the jungle. It was a weird concept and totally fun.Most recently, there has been Pokemon Go, and there have been a ton of improvements made lately. We aren’t playing it as much as we were in the beginning, but we certainly are still interested in seeing where it goes.
  • Void really loved the TV show, and he still watches it with his kids. The multi-generational aspect of the anime are really awesome, and it’s great that he gets to share stories about the same characters with them. Somehow, Ash and Pikachu are still the protagonists of the show, despite being revamped multiple times. Beej, on the other hand, never watched the show--he was just a bit out of the age range when it debuted.
  • The Pokemon Trading Card Game was Beej’s favorite, though. In high school, he and his friends were always playing it together. They were big card game people. Void, though, just collected the cards and traded them but rarely played the game. It’s still going, which is cool, and it’s still just as fun.
  • The release of Pokemon Sun and Moon has been really cool. It’s a totally new area that’s based around Pacific Islands, and Void is nearing the end of it (Beej will eventually Gamefly it). There are tons of little UI improvements to make it easier to select things you will use (like pokeballs in battle), and there’s more of a story than ever before in Pokemon Sun and Moon (and Void actually cared a bit!).
  • In both Pokemon Sun and Moon, there are visual indicators of match-ups which tell pokemon types’ strengths and weaknesses, and this is a major improvement for players who don’t have time to memorize the whole pokedex. The ride pokemon replace HMs, and you can call them from anywhere to use their utility abilities without wasting slots in your team. So you can finally have the perfect team you want without worrying about getting stuck out in the world.
  • Pokemon Sun and Moon are not hard, but they may be the most challenging pokemon game yet because of the inclusion of trials instead of gym battles. Overall, they’re Void’s favorite pokemon game.
  • There are rumors of a third game in the Pokemon Sun and Moon series for the Nintendo Switch. Beej would likely wait to play that one if he can afford a Switch when it comes out. He’s a big fan of waiting on Game of the Year-type rereleases anyway.
  • Both of us, though, tend to skip post-game content. Neither of really enjoy filling out our pokedex, and Pokemon Sun and Moon are no different. We go occasionally to kill some time hunting fun pokemon or Legendaries, maybe to hatch an egg or two, but for the most part, we like the stories and the content, but hate the repetitive aspect of post-game content. We are kind of hoping that Pokemon Sun and Moon have extra stuff after the main game, but we doubt it because it’s still Pokemon Red and Blue at heart
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  • Book Recommendation: Codex Alera, Book 1:  Furies of Calderon” by Jim Butcher ihs Pokemon in a fantasy novel!
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  • Beej -
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Throwing in the Towel on Uncharted 4
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 1 December 2016, 10:00 am

Uncharted 4 was the only game throughout my latest Gamefly stint that I actually used the "Keep it" button to hold onto.  I had played about 6 hours of it at the time, thought I was probably half way through the campaign, and was having a lot of fun.  I thought I would finish it leisurely since I could keep it for really cheap.

Now I'm something like 15 or 20 hours in and I thought I must be near the end.  But, I looked and I'm only a third of the way through the game.  I can't do another 30-40 hours of this game.  So, I'm throwing in the towel.

I really don't know why games feel like they need to be super long to be worth it.  I love a good short game these days.  They seem to tell a more impactful and less drawn-out story.  Firewatch is still in the running for my game of the year and it clocks in at around 3-4 hours for a full playthrough.

So... even though I had fun with the beginning of Uncharted 4 in the end it was just too long of a game without enough variety to keep in interesting for me.


The Blood Mirror Review
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 30 November 2016, 10:00 am

The Blood Mirror is the latest (and second to last) book in the Lightbringer series by Brent Weeks.  I've loved this series as a whole and I'm excited to get to the conclusion of that.

With that being said, this book mostly feels like set up.  Where the first three books definitely lead into one another they are still each a solid narrative that has a satisfying ending.  They just have a tease of what's to come next.  The Blood Mirror feels like half a book that just ends.  It's a good half of a book but it doesn't have the typical arc I was expecting.

I kind of wish that I had waited for the last book to come out and then read these last two together.  It seems like that's how they are intended to be.  They're definitely one story split between two books where the earlier ones felt like complete stories told in a series.

I did like the book though.  It made me very excited for the next book and to read the conclusion of the series, whenever that comes out.  I just hope the wait isn't too long.


Dishonored 2 Impressions
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 29 November 2016, 10:00 am

Dishonored 2 feels a lot like Dishonored, but just more refined.  And that's not a bad thing at all.  Dishonored was a game I liked playing through but it's also one I never felt strongly enough to revisit after the initial playthrough.

Starting out Dishonored 2 felt like more of the same.  The stealth feels a little bit more meaningful and the new power-set with Emily is interesting.  I played for a few hours and saw what the game had to offer.  But in the end, I'm glad I rented this one instead of buying it.

I'm just not in the right mood for a game like this.  The world is dark, grim, and gritty.  Ultimately, that's what turned me away from it.  I don't want that kind of tone in my media right now.

But, I did make a mental note to come back to this game later.  The next time I want a solid first person stealth game and don't mind a dark tone I'll probably pick this one up for real on PC.  The rented version I played was PS4 and the controls just didn't feel as good as when I played the first game on PC.

Overall, it's a good game but one I'm not in the mood for right now.  But if any of my above description sounds interesting to you then you should pick it up and play it.


Oxenfree Impressions
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 28 November 2016, 10:00 am

Oxenfree is an interesting adventure game with cool ideas that doesn't quite stick the landing.

You control a teenager in a group of teenagers who sneak onto an island after it closes for the night to drink and hang out.  Slowly you start to run into creepy but interesting things happening and the plot expands out from there.  It's not a horror game, but it does have some creepy atmospheric stuff going on.

Initially I liked it.  But... then some of the execution started to bug me.  Everything is voice acted but it's really easy to accidentally trigger another whole section of dialogue and miss out on the topic that you were in the middle of.  The game never really explains when you're interrupting or when you're just contributing and it ends up making for frustrating and choppy dialogue.

I got over that and got an hour or two into the game but then it hits a point where it opens up and slows way down.  Now instead of it being obvious where to go to propel the narrative you have to hunt around... which would be fine if your characters weren't so agonizingly slow.

So that's where I ended up leaving it.  All the kids are split up and trapped on an island and forever will be in my mind.  But now I at least know that this developer is doing interesting things and I should watch them in the future.


S1E41 - Ask Us Anything Q&A - “He’s MY Bulbasaur”
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 25 November 2016, 10:00 am

Ask Us Anything Q&A
In this episode:
  • We asked, and you answered! Wait, no. You asked, and we answered! That’s it!
  • This week, we did our much-anticipated Q&A episode, where you wonderful people sent in your questions for us to answer. We answer everything from our favorite Star Trek captain, to embarrassing personality quirks, funny home-life anecdotes, to what we feel about particular game genres and first-person shooters. It really was an amazing episode to record, and we hope that we get spark some conversation with y’all for the subreddit and future episodes.
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A Return to Skyrim
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 24 November 2016, 10:00 am

I got the remastered edition of Skyrim for free on Steam since I already owned the original, so I thought I would give it another playthrough.  It's been years since I touched it and I was excited to jump into the world again.

And the first night was great!  I wandered, I got familiar with the world again, and most of the game kinda came back to me.  But after that first night the magic quickly faded.

It's not a bad game at all, it's just a game that I've already spent hundreds of hours with.  I was able to have fun for a play session or two but that seemed to jog all my memories of the game so after that point it felt like I was just going through the motions in a game I already knew.

I'm really glad that Skyrim Special Edition exists for those who missed it last console generation.  It's a great game if you haven't played it before.  But for me I think Skyrim has already taken up enough of my life.  I'll just wait until the next Elder Scrolls game instead.

I can't complain too much, they did give it to existing owners on Steam for free!


Pony Island Review
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 23 November 2016, 10:00 am

Do you want a game that messes with your perceptions of what a game is?  A game that starts out as an endless runner but slowly devolves into madness and the inexplicable.

Then Pony Island is for you.

It's a really weird game where you play games inside of a game.  It gets very meta and interesting.  Kind of in the vein of The Beginners Guide or Undertale, but with more interesting gameplay.

I don't want to tell you too much more about the game because figuring it out and seeing what happens is most of the fun.  It's normally $5 on Steam but tends to go on sale a lot.  Seriously, pick it up if it sounds even vaguely interesting to you.


Clustertruck
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 22 November 2016, 10:00 am

This is a fun little game I've been playing.  It's a PC game where you have to make it to the goal without touching the ground while running along the tops of tons of semi trucks.

It's been really fun to play between other PC games as a palette cleanser.  I haven't ever sat down and played it for hours on end but I am consistently coming back to it.

If you like weird platformers you should probably at least take a look at it on Steam.  I waited for it to go on sale and I recommend you do too, but on sale it's definitely worth it's asking price.


Civilization VI Impressions
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 21 November 2016, 10:00 am

Civilization VI is a weird one to talk about.  I've played it a bunch but not nearly enough to feel like I can write a review about it.  Civilization games have a ton of depth and this one is no different.  But I have played through multiple games all the way to the end and I have won a few different types of victories.  So I do have some thoughts.

Mainly, Civilization VI is another Civilization game.  If you've liked them in the past then chances are super high that you'll like this one.  In the grand scheme of things it's not all that different.

But then again, the difference is in the details.

There are now more victory types and then can be achieved in new ways.  Your city is no longer one tile but instead you build out districts and improvements that impact, expand, and limit one another depending on how you configure your city.  Resources are handled differently.  So are diplomatic options.  Units can now stack in small quantities if you have the right research done, but there's no stack of doom like in old Civ games.  There are a ton of small things that have changed.

Overall, I think this is the best starting place for a Civilization game that they've ever put out.  It's inevitable that they'll come along with patches and expansions to improve the game.  It should only get better from this point on.  But even with the way it is right now it's a ton of fun.

If you've been a fan of Civilization in the past I highly suggest picking up Civ VI.  If you've never picked up a Civilization game before but find yourself the least bit interested... I also suggest you pick it up.  You might find a new series to love!


S1E40 - Harry Potter Universe - “I made a sandwich because I was so angry”
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 18 November 2016, 10:00 am

Harry Potter Universe
In this episode:
  • With the upcoming release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, we wanted to discuss our love of the Harry Potter franchise and kind of survey the series and expanded universe.
  • With the books, we love them. They’re a part of our childhoods and young adulthoods, and on re-reads, they stand up just as well. Void has listened to the audiobooks of Harry Potter multiple times, while Beej never has. He’s only read the physical books over and over again.
  • We discuss the change in tone the books take, going from children’s books in the first three, to the serious war story in the last set. That tone is also carried over into the movies, with each director doing his best to fit the tone and atmosphere of the movie with the narrative’s intended audience.
  • We discuss the extended universe of Harry Potter, which includes new short stories, Pottermore, the Cursed Child, as well as the upcoming Fantastic Beasts film. Void loves them. A lot. He keeps up with them, reads as they come out and has become invested in the world. Beej, however, feels all the expansion makes the idea of the original series lose its charm, and he doesn’t feel as though the world is fleshed out enough for this expansion. He’s open-minded, though and will eventually dig in and read about the American setting he’s not into.
  • Which brings us to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It’s set in the American past (1920s?), and it’s the first Harry Potter movie that’s specifically written as a screenplay. We are hoping this makes it more cohesive as a narrative; however, the explosion from a single movie to a trilogy to a 5-movie series before the first one has debuted makes us a little wary. Judgment will be reserved until we see it, and we will certainly do a Weekly Geekery segment on it when we do.
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Titanfall 2 Review
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 17 November 2016, 10:00 am

I don't know why they released all the big FPS games for the year so close to one another but as soon as I beat the Battlefield 1 single player campaign I jumped over to Titanfall 2 and did the same.

I've read about a lot of people being blown away by the Titanfall 2 campaign but I have to be honest, I wasn't.

Not that it's bad.  Because it's not.  It's actually really good.  Compared to FPS single player campaigns from other games within the last few years it definitely blows most of them out of the water.

The problem I had was that I played it the day after I beat the Battlefield 1 campaign and I thought that game was just so amazing.  Titanfall 2 didn't have nearly the impact on me that Battlefield 1 did.  But if you're more interested in wallrunning and giant mechs falling from the sky than you are in things based vaguely on real historical events then maybe Titanfall 2 is a game for you.

Like I said, I did like it a lot.  I actually liked the multiplayer of Titanfall 2 better than that in Battlefield 1.  In the end I didn't like either multiplayer enough to truly get invested and keep playing.  I sent them both back after a few days, so I'm glad I rented them instead of bought.

I just hope Titanfall 2 didn't screw itself over too much since it released the week in between the two biggest shooters of the year.  They might have shot themselves in the footer there.  Hopefully they do well enough to get to make Titanfall 3.


Battlefield 1 Review
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 16 November 2016, 10:00 am

I really liked the Battlefield 1 campaign... like... a lot.  I haven't been this impressed with a first person shooter campaign since Modern Warfare.  That's the last game I remember having such an impact on me.

Something about how they executed it and tied it into World War I just resonated with me.  Granted, it's not historically or technologically accurate, but it does a great job of imparting the sense that it is.  There are parts of the campaign where you feel like you're in the middle of WWI and it's that feeling that is so impressive.

The story is told through a bunch of smaller vignettes that take place in different theaters of war.  It makes for condensed and impactful storytelling.  Now I want more FPS games that take this approach instead of trying to make one giant interconnected storyline throughout the whole campaign.

The multiplayer was perfectly fine too.  But that part just kinda felt like another Battlefield.  If you like Battlefield games then you'll like it, if you don't then you won't.  No big surprises there.

But yeah, I highly recommend checking out the Battlefield 1 single player campaign if you find any interest in FPS campaigns at all.


Paper and Fire Review
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 15 November 2016, 10:00 am

Paper and Fire is really good.  Between it and the first book, Ink and Bone, this book series has shot up to my favorite novels that I've found this year.

Paper and Fire picks up about six months after Ink and Bone leaves off but it works really well.  In terms of story development nothing major has happened in between but it starts kicking off right when the book begins.

It's always hard to review later books in a series without giving spoilers for the earlier ones.  But, I really like this series.  I read through Paper and Fire super fast because it hooked me and now I immediately want the next book!  Unfortunately, I have to wait for it to come out since I'm already caught up.

If you haven't already, you should check out The Great Library series.  I'm loving it.  Go grab Ink and Bone and see what you think.



Zelda Series Playthrough Wrap-Up
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 14 November 2016, 10:00 am

With my Zelda series lite playthrough done and my rankings locked in I just wanted to take a bit to reflect on how I feel after sampling the series in order.  Once again, here's how the rankings shook out for me personally:
  1. A Link Between Worlds (2013)
  2. A Link to the Past (1991) 
  3. The Wind Waker (2002)
  4. Oracle of Seasons (2001)
  5. Oracle of Ages (2001)
  6. Majora's Mask (2000)
  7. Ocarina of Time (1998)
  8. The Legend of Zelda (1987)
  9. Tri Force Heroes (2015)
  10. Twilight Princess (2006)
  11. Link's Awakening (1993)
  12. The Minish Cap (2004)
  13. Skyward Sword (2011)
  14. Spirit Tracks (2009)
  15. Phantom Hourglass (2007)
  16. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1988)
The most surprising thing for me is how poorly the 3D Zelda games held up.  I enjoyed most of them a lot the first time I played them but going back to them in the greater context of the whole series made them feel clunky, slow, and just generally not as compelling.  Their 2D counterparts held up much better than I remembered and A Link to the Past completely blew me away with how great it still is.  It's one of the few games that I played through entirely, even though I decided to only do a lite sampling of the series.

Speaking of which, I'm happy I ended up tackling the series that way.  If I had committed to playing through and beating all these games I know I would have gotten bored and given up somewhere along the way.  A lot of them just don't hold up to my modern gaming standards, even if I loved them at the time.

Looking at my list, at this point I would only willingly replay the top five games on there.  I would still recommend a lot of the others to people if I knew their taste in gaming and knew they hadn't played some of the classics but there are also a few I will always steer people away from.

In a way this series playthrough was kind of weird for me.  My Final Fantasy series playthrough reaffirmed my love of that series and how great it is.  This Zelda playthrough has shown me how amazing a few of the games in the series are but it's also brought to light that I really don't like a lot of the games as much as I thought I did.

Before this I was considering someday, maybe, getting a Triforce tattoo.  Now I'm definitely not going to do that.

Overall, this was a fun project to tackle and I'm glad I did it.  Mostly it's just made me excited to see what they do with Breath of the Wild when it comes out next year.



Tri Force Heroes
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 13 November 2016, 10:00 am

Before starting this chronological series sampling, Tri Force Heroes is the Zelda game I had played most recently.  It only came out last year and I played it right when it released.  I didn't think my opinions of it would have changed much, but I was interested to see how it held up in the context of the rest of the series.  Mostly, I was curious where it would rank.

I actually just picked up my old save file for this one since the game is designed to be replayed.  You unlock different costumes and levels as time goes on so I figured I would start with the full game unlocked this time.

I was quickly reminded that hell is other people.  Well... sometimes.  When you get grouped with random people online it's always a grab bag.  You never quite know what you'll get.  Maybe someone will disconnect.  Maybe someone will just not understand the puzzle even if you walk them through the entire thing with emotes.  Maybe they'll just stand there and not respond ever.

And sometimes the net code is just bad and the game gets super laggy.  That's frustrating in a game that actually demands a fairly high level of precision in combat, platforming, and coordination.

I still think Tri Force Heroes would be a really fun game with two other friends physically in the same room, but I don't know if the stars will ever align to make that scheduling happen.  I'm chalking this one up as a good idea that never really delivered what it wanted to.  It's going to go in the middle of the pack for rankings.
  1. A Link Between Worlds (2013)
  2. A Link to the Past (1991) 
  3. The Wind Waker (2002)
  4. Oracle of Seasons (2001)
  5. Oracle of Ages (2001)
  6. Majora's Mask (2000)
  7. Ocarina of Time (1998)
  8. The Legend of Zelda (1987)
  9. Tri Force Heroes (2015)
  10. Twilight Princess (2006)
  11. Link's Awakening (1993)
  12. The Minish Cap (2004)
  13. Skyward Sword (2011)
  14. Spirit Tracks (2009)
  15. Phantom Hourglass (2007)
  16. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1988)



A Link Between Worlds
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 12 November 2016, 10:00 am

A Link Between Worlds is my favorite Zelda game.  If I wasn't so close to the end of my playthrough of the series I wouldn't be confident enough to say that, but now I am.

It takes everything I love about all the 2D Zelda games before it and includes those elements... then improves upon them in many ways.  Plus, it renders them in a cool 3Dish way on the 3DS.  A Link Between Worlds is also a huge homage to Link to the Past, which has been sitting at my number one spot in the rankings up to this point.

And it really shows.  Everything from the overworld to the dungeons pays tribute to Link to the Past.  It's not a one to one copy or direct rip off but there's no question that this is supposed to be the same world and deal with the same themes.  It was a brave choice since it could have made this game feel like a retread instead of something new.  Instead, it feels amazing.


I love the open and non-linear style of Link Between Worlds.  Being able to rent any key item you need and then tackle the main dungeons in any order you want is awesome.  It makes every playthrough different and leads to lots of experimentation.  There's also never the frustration of seeing an area you would be able to get to if you just had the right item.  If you see it and you understand the right approach you can get there from very early on.  Not to mention that it has a cool 2D flattening mechanic that works on walls.

I feel like I heard a bunch of praise for this game right when it released in 2013 and then it fell off everyone's radar.  I hope as time goes on that isn't the case.  It really deserves to be included in the best Zelda lists.  For me, this one goes right at the top without any hesitation.
  1. A Link Between Worlds (2013)
  2. A Link to the Past (1991) 
  3. The Wind Waker (2002)
  4. Oracle of Seasons (2001)
  5. Oracle of Ages (2001)
  6. Majora's Mask (2000)
  7. Ocarina of Time (1998)
  8. The Legend of Zelda (1987)
  9. Twilight Princess (2006)
  10. Link's Awakening (1993)
  11. The Minish Cap (2004)
  12. Skyward Sword (2011)
  13. Spirit Tracks (2009)
  14. Phantom Hourglass (2007)
  15. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1988)



S1E39 - Doctor Strange - “I don’t even know how to describe it”
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 11 November 2016, 11:37 am

Doctor Strange
In this episode:
  • The doctor! He’s strange! Guess what we are talking about this week? It’s kind of a spoilercast, so be aware of that. However, we do give you fair warning of when we start discussing them, so you can always listen for a little while and come back after you’ve seen the movie. Or you can keep listening because you love us. Either way.
  • We are coming at the movie from two different perspectives: Void likes Bennybatch but has no connection to the characters and very limited knowledge of Doctor Strange, while Beej is the opposite. He doesn’t like Benny that much, but enjoys Dr. Strange in the comics.
  • Our non-spoilery thoughts are pretty simple: We like it. It doesn’t feel like anything else in the MCU, and we believe that’s a good thing. It doesn’t feel superhero-y, and to Beej, it feels like it has more depth than a lot of the MCU. Void doesn’t have as many thoughts about the movie overall on the first viewing, and he thinks that’s because it’s so different from other MCU films. A second viewing will really help us solidify our thoughts on it.
  • The visuals in this movie are amazing. It feels a lot like the Matrix did back in the late ‘90s. We didn’t see it in 3D (because ew), but it may have been a bit overwhelming at times.
  • And that’s it for non-spoilery teaser stuff in the notes! Now, there are lots of other things we discuss involving our favorite parts, the visuals in far more depth, the overall structure of the movie and how it worked for us and in terms of the greater narrative, and how this movie ties in (and will tie in) with the rest of the MCU).
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  • LAST CALL Q&A show (AMA style) sometime in November. Send us your questions! Twitter and the subreddit are the easiest places
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Music by CarboHydroM




Skyward Sword
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 10 November 2016, 10:00 am

Skyward Sword, more than anything else, has just made me realize how much I hate motion controls.  They were a gimmick I didn't like in the first place and they've aged horribly.

Out of all the games in my playthrough this is the only one I hadn't tried at least once.  I was coming to this game completely fresh and it immediately put me off with the motion controls.  And these are even the "improved" motion controls with the Wii Remote Plus.  It tries to be 1 to 1 with Link's hand but it isn't... instead it just makes him look dumb when he's running with his sword out.

I tried to get into this game, I really did.  I played something like five hours of it before finally throwing in the towel.  The structure and the content of the game seemed fine.  The story and world were perfectly serviceable.  I probably would have played the whole thing if it weren't for the motion controls.

Now I'm glad I skipped this game when it came out and never had to pay full price for it, that would have been an even bigger disappointment.

Honestly, besides the motion controls I don't have many other thoughts on the game.  It felt like a run of the mill 3D Zelda entry.  Nothing amazing or groundbreaking.  One minor gripe I have is that it's starting to feel weird to have these big budget 3D Zelda productions with a ton of dialogue and text but not actually have any real voice acting.  I hope they fix that with Breath of the Wild, but it's a minor complaint compared to the controls.

Needless to say, I didn't like this game.  It's going in the bottom half of the list for sure.  It's not Zelda II bad since I'm pretty sure that will be the lowest benchmark forever.  But Skyward Sword goes right in that section of the games with gimmicky controls that don't hold up anymore.  I'm going to call it slightly better than the DS touch control games, but only barely.
  1. A Link to the Past (1991) 
  2.  The Wind Waker (2002)
  3.  Oracle of Seasons (2001)
  4.  Oracle of Ages (2001)
  5.  Majora's Mask (2000)
  6.  Ocarina of Time (1998)
  7.  The Legend of Zelda (1987)
  8.  Twilight Princess (2006)
  9.  Link's Awakening (1993)
  10.  The Minish Cap (2004)
  11.  Skyward Sword (2011)
  12.  Spirit Tracks (2009)
  13.  Phantom Hourglass (2007)
  14.  Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1988)



Link's Awakening
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 31 October 2016, 10:00 am

After wrapping up A Link to the Past I fired up Link's Awakening on my 3DS Virtual Console almost immediately.  I was really excited to get into the next game, especially one that I hadn't played since the Game Boy Color days.

And wow, it has not aged well.  I know I beat this game on Game Boy Color when I was a kid but it just doesn't hold up anymore.  The screen sizes are too small for anything super interesting to happen on any one screen.  I know that's a conceit to the Game Boy and Game Boy Color but even later GBC games like the Zelda Oracle games feel better than this.

Not to mention the player messaging.  If it were just the screen size and graphics that make the game feel aged I could deal with it but the killer thing for me is the horrible player messaging.  It's super difficult to know where to go next or what to do next.  It completely killed my momentum and generally made me want to be playing anything else.

So, I'm going to set this one aside and move on.  Yay for doing a "lite" Zelda series playthrough instead of a completionist one!  This is exactly the type of reason I decided to do this version of the run.

Link's Awakening was great at the time it came out and I'll hold it in a happy place in my memory with full nostalgia goggles one.  But, it's not a game I ever need to revisit again.

Here are how the current standings shake out:
  1.  A Link to the Past (1991) 
  2.  The Legend of Zelda (1987)
  3.  Link's Awakening (1993)
  4.  Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1988)




Ocarina of Time
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 1 November 2016, 10:00 am

Ocarina of Time is a very important game, not only to the Zelda franchise but also to gaming in general.  It was one of the first big 3D action/exploration/adventure games and it helped define the genres.  It's also obviously what all the later 3D Zelda games were based on.

First I should say that I loved this game as a kid.  I've beaten it many times and for years I would consider it a 10/10 game.  I still think it's a 10/10 game for the time when it came out.  It will always have a special place in my heart and my gaming nostalgia.

With that said, it honestly hasn't aged well.  I went back and played hours of it and found a lot of frustration.  The controls, camera, and some of the 3D spacial thinking are just old.  And I was even playing the remastered HD version on 3DS where they fixed a lot of things.  So, while this game is important and I still love it when looking at it via nostalgia I just don't want to play it again right now.  Maybe some day but not at the moment.

I actually kind of equate Ocarina of Time to Final Fantasy VII.  Both were amazing games when they released.  Both helped define genres.  Both are amazing when viewed with nostalgia.  Neither one has aged all that well.

It's surprising to me that 2D games seem to age better.  A Link to the Past was still amazing and that game came out almost 25 years ago.

I'm going to hop over to Majora's Mask next and see what I think.  Maybe it will be better since it breaks from the traditional Zelda storytelling with it's non-linearity.  But, it is built on the exact same engine as this game so I expect to find many of the same frustrations as well.

Even though it didn't hold up as well as I expected I still find it easy to slot into my current Zelda rankings.  I can't possibly diminish what the game was at the time and how much it matters to the series and gaming in general.

Here's what my rankings are looking like:
  1.  A Link to the Past (1991) 
  2.  Ocarina of Time (1998)
  3.  The Legend of Zelda (1987)
  4.  Link's Awakening (1993)
  5.  Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1988)



Majora's Mask
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 2 November 2016, 10:00 am

Continuing with the lite Zelda project brings us to Majora's Mask.  It's an odd one out for the series but I love some of the things it's doing.

If you've never played it, Majora's Mask is much more non-linear than any other Zelda game.  It's all about exploration and discovery.  You repeat the same three days that lead to a moon crashing into the planet and in doing so you slowly gain powers, items, and masks that will help you on the way.  You also learn songs on the ocarina that perform all sorts of tasks and change how you interact with the flow of time.

I beat this one a few times as a kid and once even did a 100% run of the game while getting the Fierce Diety Mask at the end.  That was a good time.  This time around I booted it up the remaster on my 3DS and played through the first half of the game or so.

It's still really fun... if you're in the right mood.  Unless you're following a guide you'll find yourself repeating a lot of the content multiple times.  If you're in the right mood for exploration and experimentation it can be a really good time as you slowly piece together what to do and how different systems interact.  If you're looking for a more driven storyline and progress, which is the mood I find myself in at the moment, it does start to wear thin.

There's also that ever-looming countdown to the end of the third day.  I know that stresses some people out to the point where they can't enjoy the game at all.

So, playing through it to around the half way point is about all I want to do in my current mood.  I'd rather move on to the next games in the series.  But I still need to figure out where to rank this one.  In my mind it's so close to Ocarina of Time that it either needs to go immediately above or below it in the rankings.  If I were to rank them in order of overall historical importance then obviously I would put Ocarina on top of these two.  But, since I'm ranking them in order of how much I'd like to go back and replay them I think Majora's Mask edges it out.

Here's how the rankings are looking:
  1.  A Link to the Past (1991) 
  2.  Majora's Mask (2000)
  3.  Ocarina of Time (1998)
  4.  The Legend of Zelda (1987)
  5.  Link's Awakening (1993)
  6.  Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1988)



Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 3 November 2016, 10:00 am

This is probably the easiest part of my Zelda series playthrough because I secretly played both Oracle of Seasons and Oracles of Ages earlier this year... and loved them.

I played these games a bit as a kid but never beat them then.  Earlier this year they were on sale together on Virtual Console for 3DS so I picked them up on a whim not remembering much about them.

The Oracles games are basically taking everything they learned from Link to the Past, Link's Awakening, Ocarina of Time, and Majora's Mask and using that to make the best Game Boy Color game they could make.  It controls wonderfully, has amazing design, never feels frustrating with progression, and the two games feed into one another.  If you beat one you can import your save into the other and after finishing that... you unlock a true final boss and secret ending to the game!

I can't believe how much I love these.  With all that said, they're still a little bit limited by the Game Boy Color hardware they're running on so they don't quite reach the level of awesomeness that is A Link to the Past.

If you've never played these two games I highly recommend them.  They are fantastic 2D Zelda experiences.

For me, I think of them as one full game together, but since I have to pick one to go higher on the rankings than the other it has to be Oracle of Seasons.  Seasons has fantastic combat, less puzzles, and super creative uses of the rod of seasons (the key item in the game).  I could make an argument for Ages being better if you made me... but this is my ranking and I just like Seasons better.

But seriously, if you missed these when they came out and you already own a 2DS or 3DS you should pick them up digitally and give them a shot.

Current rankings look like this:
  1.  A Link to the Past (1991) 
  2.  Oracle of Seasons (2001)
  3.  Oracle of Ages (2001)
  4.  Majora's Mask (2000)
  5.  Ocarina of Time (1998)
  6.  The Legend of Zelda (1987)
  7.  Link's Awakening (1993)
  8.  Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1988)





In this episode:
  • We love to read, but the big question we get asked his what we read. And how. Do we prefer ebooks to paper books, or audiobooks to ebooks? So we talk about how our collections have moved mostly digital for a number of reasons, not the least of which is simply the clutter that buying tons of hardcovers and paperbacks accumulate over the years.
  • We discuss the benefits of smartphone ebook apps, and how between them and audiobooks, we can get through so many more books than we would otherwise.
  • Speaking of audiobooks, we love them! We listen to tons of different audiobooks. Void tends to use Whispersync on Kindle to keep his place between the same book, but Beej listens to a completely different kind of book on audio than he reads. It’s like the formats work differently for each geek!
  • Void doesn’t like books set in the real-world, but Beej is okay with them if they have good characters.
  • We talk a lot about comics in another podcast, so we gloss over them here.We love to read them, but make sure you go back and listen to our comics episode. It really needs some love.
  • And now...our favorite authors! People ask all the time, and if we need to break it down more specifically, we will. We talk about people like Brandon Sanderson, John Scalzi, and Patrick Rothfuss. And more than that! If you want deep-dives into any particular authors, let us know!
Can you guys also leave a ratings or review on iTunes? They help a bunch, and we haven’t asked in a while. So thanks! We appreciate it!
Remember that we’re having a Q&A show (AMA-style) sometime in November, so send us your questions. Twitter and the subreddit are the easiest places to get them to us.
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Be sure to subscribe to the Geek to Geek Podcast your favorite podcast app, drop a review so we know how we’re doing, and feel free contact us via email at geektogeekcast@gmail.com or @geektogeekcast on Twitter with any comments, questions, or suggestions for the show. Thanks for listening, and we can’t wait to hear from you!
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