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).
Geeky Sponsor / Offer of the Week
  • 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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Music by CarboHydroM




The Wind Waker
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 5 November 2016, 10:00 am

The Wind Waker has been my favorite 3D Zelda game for a long time.  If asked off the cuff what my absolute favorite Zelda game is I would often put this one forward.  It's really good.

Revisiting it shows that it still holds up.  I love the open ocean, the exploration, the controls, the music, the art style.  There are so many unique things about this game and it feels like they finally hit their stride with 3D Zelda games at this point in the series.  This incarnation of Zelda as Tetra the Pirate always makes me happy too!

While it originally came out for Gamecube the last two times I've played it were the remaster on Wii U.  It's extra gorgeous plus it has some nice modern features in it.  The Wii U gamepad holds the map and inventory which is super useful.  Not to mention the "swift sail" in the remaster.  It basically lets you travel at 2x speed and always have the wind at your back without having to reposition the wind through song.


I'm blown away by how well this game holds up.  But, the most surprising thing for me playing Wind Waker in the context of the whole series for this playthrough... was that I think I actually like Link to the Past more.  I'm realizing I might just be a much bigger 2D Zelda fan than 3D.

So, while this game is right up there near the top of my list it's not actually at the very top.  This is the exact kind of reason I wanted to do this series playthrough and put every Zelda game in context for myself.  This is how things look now:
  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.  Link's Awakening (1993)
  9.  Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1988)



The Minish Cap
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 6 November 2016, 10:00 am

The Minish Cap is one of the few Zelda games I've never beaten and going back to revisit it quickly showed me why.  My gripes started mounting almost immediately and I had enough of the game by the time I hit the end of the first dungeon.

First of all, the controls just don't feel responsive or tight.  Link to the Past and the Oracle games both control so much better than Minish Cap and I don't know why.  They've already had great controls in the past, why did they mess them up this time around?  Not to mention that a bunch of interactions that are on the A button in every other Zelda game are mapped to the right trigger in this one.  It just feels like I'm constantly fighting the controls when I play.

And then once you hit the overworld it feels small yet boring at the same time.  The content density that is in most Zelda games is severely lacking.  Traversing from point A to the point B always feels boring.

Although the environments look pretty good the way they do the pixelization on the characters themselves just look gross.  It's ugly in motion.  I don't think I can level that accusation at any other game in the series.

Did I mention how much text and talking there is in this game?  It doesn't ever let you just do something.  It has to stop and tell you why you should do it, the history of doing it, and how to do it.  Even in dungeons you can't escape the constant tutorials from your own hat.

I just can't even express how disappointed I am in this game.  I guess the shrinking mechanic is kind of cool.  Beyond that there isn't much to redeem it.

At least it's still not as utterly horrible as Zelda II:
  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.  Link's Awakening (1993)
  9.  The Minish Cap (2004)
  10.  Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1988)



Twilight Princess
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 7 November 2016, 9:33 am

Twilight Princess is a Zelda game that I never beat despite starting it on at least five different occasions.  In the past the thing that pushed me away from the game was always the motion controls.  I know they were supposed to be a cool gimmick at the time but I never liked them.

To avoid that and give Twilight Princess a fair shake I decided to go with the HD remaster that released recently on Wii U.  That way I was able to play the game with a normal controller!

First off, this game looks really nice with the HD remaster.  The graphics are crisp and totally up to modern, if stylized, standards.  No complaints there.  The controls are also much better.  They're similar to the Wind Waker HD controls, which makes a lot of sense since they were both redesigned for Wii U.  I found the game much more playable as a result.  I still have negative feelings from the motion controls but I was able to let that go and dig in with the Wii U gamepad instead.

The thing that actually turned me off from this game is the pacing.  I had forgotten how horribly paced this game is.  The first few hours are boring fetch quests surrounded by walls of (often unskippable) dialogue.  It doesn't feel like Zelda, it feels like one never ending introduction and tutorial.  I absolutely hated it.

Here's the thing... I've tried to get into this game 6 times now and I've always stalled out.  I hoped this time would be different but it wasn't.  I actually stalled out sooner this time than any of the others.  I have much less tolerance for bad pacing than I used to.

It shouldn't surprise you that this game shows up in the bottom half of my rankings:
  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.  Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1988)



Phantom Hourglass
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 8 November 2016, 10:00 am

Phantom Hourglass is a Zelda game I enjoyed and finished when it first came out.  I remember thinking it was really clever on the DS.

Coming back to it now makes me realize how much the touch controls have aged.  In an age of smart phones and precise controls going back to early DS touchscreen controlling is super frustrating.  It works... but not all that well.  It's inexact and definitely feels like I'm fighting the controls.

And that kind of colors the rest of my opinion on this game.  I played a few hours to really get a feeling for it again and just couldn't get over the controls.  I didn't want to play past the first 10 minutes because of the controls and it didn't really get better even after I got into the meat of the game, which is how I knew to put it down.

Phantom Hourglass deserves some praise for it's innovation at the time but it just doesn't hold to up modern control standards.

I'm realizing I don't like it when Nintendo goes crazy with control schemes and gimmicks.  They don't age well and they generally just cause more frustration than they're worth.

Here's how things are looking:
  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.  Phantom Hourglass (2007)
  12.  Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1988)



Spirit Tracks
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 9 November 2016, 9:29 am

Spirit Tracks is the second DS Zelda game and it shows.  It's improved over Phantom Hourglass in a few ways but at it's core it's basically the same.

The controls once again trip it up.  The only notable thing here is that it adds some cool touch screen train gameplay that actually works fairly well.

I ripped on Phantom Hourglass controls a lot yesterday so I'm not going to reiterate all that except to say that I still hate the controls and all my complaints still stand.

Just because it adds some train gameplay that's decent I'm going to put this one barely above Phantom Hourglass in the rankings:
  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.  Spirit Tracks (2009)
  12.  Phantom Hourglass (2007)
  13.  Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1988)



World of Warships
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 30 October 2016, 10:00 am

I've been playing a bunch of World of Warships lately and having a really good time with it.  I didn't think it would be a game for me but my brother convinced me to try it and I'm glad he did.

Instead of being a game about fast twitch reflexes, World of Warships is about positioning, strategy, and skill.  It does take effort and skill to aim and fire but it's nothing like a FPS in terms of twitchiness.

I loved shooting up the first few ranks and unlocking ships along the way.  Each ship feels distinct in a number of ways and I find myself jumping between different types of ships a lot just to change up the feel of the game.

This is one of the better free to play games I've played in years.  I can feel my progression slowing down a bit now that I'm around tier IV and V for ships, but I've still felt no pressure to pay.  And even though my progress has slowed down I'm still playing fairly consistently.

Mostly I just wanted to get this game on more people's radar.  If any of it sounds interesting to you then you should definitely try it.  It's free and you can play it right now.


Ahsoka Review
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 29 October 2016, 10:00 am

The latest Star Wars novel, Ahsoka, came out in mid-October and I finished it in two days.  I always love picking up the newest Star Wars book and it's been really fun keeping up with all of the new canon since Disney pushed the giant reset button on the universe.

Ahsoka was an ok book.  It didn't blow me away with awesomeness but it wasn't bad either.  It will definitely be for some people and not for others.

To me, it felt like a long story arc from one of the TV shows, Clone Wars or Rebels, that has been moved over into novel format.  It bridges the gap between those two shows and reveals what happens to Ahsoka during that time period.  For that, I love it, just because I always want to expand my Star Wars lore.

But, I feel like it would have been better in show format.  I could easier see this as a bonus story arc in either of the shows.  It's probably a consequence of the main character being a unique character to Clone Wars and Rebels and not being anywhere else in the Star Wars universe.

With all that said, if you're a fan of either the Clone Wars show or the Rebels show and you like Ahsoka herself as a character then there's definitely something for you in this book.  If you don't fit into that group this novel will still give you more information about the formation of the rebellion, which is cool, but it might not resonate with you in terms of character.

I'm really glad I read this book once but I won't be recommending it to a ton of people.  Based on what I've already told you, you probably know if it's for you or not.



S1E37 - The Nintendo Switch Revealed - “What do you stall for?”
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 28 October 2016, 10:00 am

The Nintendo Switch Revealed
In this episode:
  • The Nintendo Switch is unveiled! And being the Nintendo fans we are, there was just no way that we could go a week without talking about it.
  • Here’s what we know so far: It’s a handheld system AND a home console with detachable controllers that you can use in different configurations. They’re called JoyCons, but there’s also a Pro Controller available. There is also a spacer-thingy that connects the JoyCons into an almost-Pro Controller. You can also use the JoyCons double-handed like a Wii Nunchuck.
  • There’s a kickstand on the main screen and a 3.5mm headphone port! It’s HD and cartridge based.
  • We saw lots of games for it including a new 3D Mario game, a Mario Kart, some kind of basketball game (that neither of us know about, but y’all might), Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Splatoon, and Skyrim.
  • And then we go into geeky-speculation mode, which is always fun. We talk expandable storage (because Void does all his games digitally), is there a touch screen (and do we want one?), how long is the battery life, and just how useful is the console dock? Do we get a charging cable?
  • What about release day? Is this a day 1 purchase? Well, that depends on the price. If it’s a high-dollar console, Nintendo may be in murky water. If it’s under $250, there’s a huge chance we’ll buy it early.
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The Order 1886
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 27 October 2016, 10:00 am

The Order 1886 was super heavily marketed by Sony before it's release and then highly criticized after.  I thought it was time to check it out with my Gamefly subscription.

The first thing I noticed about The Order 1886 is that it's highly cinematic.  It looks really good, has a style, and executes on that style.  It's a very cinematic game and the tech behind it must be impressive.  But, after that, everything else started to let me down.

The controls are clunky and don't feel nice to use.  It's kind of vaguely like Gears of War in gameplay except not interesting at all.  It feels like a mediocre third person shooter that's not trying to do anything new except look pretty.

And while the graphics are good at setting the scene... that scene just didn't appeal to me.  This is more of a personal preference than anything else but victorian London isn't usually a setting I enjoy.  Every once in awhile, but not usually.  Even though it's an alternate history version it still has that same feeling.

The characters and story aren't established very well and even though I played a few hours of the game I had no idea what was going on besides the fact that we have a knights of the round table vibe for the main characters.

All of this to say, I sent the game back pretty fast.  This game is a good showcase of the kind of visuals the PS4 can achieve but beyond that it's mediocre in many ways.


A Link to the Past
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 26 October 2016, 10:00 am

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is the first game in my "Zelda lite" playthrough of the series that I dug in deep with.  I had forgotten just how good this game is.

I fired it up on Wii U Virtual Console and after getting past the intro for the first time in years and years... I was just amazed.  This game is still really good.  Even by modern standards.  Yeah, some modern conveniences are missing but nothing that truly hurts the enjoyment of the game (especially with built in save states on Virtual Console).

This is the first Zelda game that feels fully formed.  It's the core of the series realized fully.  Exploring the overworld, uncovering secrets, slowly figuring out what to do in dungeons, getting more skillful at combat, finding new items to get around the world... it's all here.


Not to mention the structure.  It's almost identical to the structure of Ocarina of Time.  A Link to the Past finds you needing to collect three pendants which let you get the Master Sword and reveal an entire second world linked to the first.  Then you need to collect seven crystals trapping seven maidens to unlock the way to the final confrontation.  It's so close to Ocarina that I almost couldn't believe it.

It's also worth mentioning that the first intro dungeon acts as a tutorial without explicitly holding your hand or spelling everything out for you.  You learn by doing.  It seems like this is something modern games have forgotten.  Even later Zelda games have the problem of too much text and tutorial up front, but not this one.  A Link to the Past throws you into challenge after challenge that teach you new things about the game.

I'm also finding it interesting that 2D games seem to have aged better than 3D games.  I've tried playing some early era N64 and PS1 games lately and they don't hold up nearly as well as a solid SNES game does.

Something I didn't notice until I was two dungeons in is that at some point my son had fired up the game and created a new save using his name.  I was using that file without realizing it, so for the first time ever I ended up playing the whole game without my character being named Link.  It was my son's name instead.  Every time I saw it I got a little smile on my face.

Anyway, this isn't my first time beating A Link to the Past but it is my first time finishing it in at least ten years, if not more.  I remember loving it on SNES and GBA so I'm glad it still holds up today.  This is the first Zelda I can recommend to any gamer out there.

And with all that said I should probably start ranking the Zelda games as I go, just like I did with my Final Fantasy Project.  So here we go, current rankings:
  1. A Link to the Past (1991) 
  2. The Legend of Zelda (1987)
  3. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1988)





Duelyst Update
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 25 October 2016, 10:00 am
Guys... Duelyst is really good.

I wrote about it awhile ago and said that it had potential but I would have to wait for the official release to see how it panned out.

Well, it's been out for a few months and it's really good.  It's somewhere between Hearthstone and Hero Academy, two games that I loved.  I highly recommend it if you're interested in turn based strategy or new card game mechanics or even just good online competition.

Duelyst has come a long way and it's completely free to play (unless you want to spend money).  Seriously, go check it out if you haven't.




Zelda II The Adventure of Link
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 24 October 2016, 10:00 am

Ugh, ok... so this is the game that made me hold off on doing this series playthrough for a long time.  This is the main game that made me make this a "lite" version of a series playthrough and made me give myself permission to not actually finish all the games.

I do not like this game.

I know it has it's fans and I know it's technically a main Zelda game... but it's just not.  It doesn't feel like a Zelda game should.  This is mostly a side-scrolling beat-em-up with Zelda trappings.  It doesn't have the freedom and open exploration of the original and it definitely doesn't feel like any other Zelda game out there.

I wish I liked this game enough to actually finish it once.  But, I don't.  This is one of the few Zelda games that I've never finished.  At this point I've come to the realization that I never will and I'm ok with that.

So please forgive how much I'm glossing over this one.  If you're a fan of it let me know.  I'd love to hear from the perspective of someone who really likes this game.

But there's no question in my mind that this is the odd one out for the Zelda series.


X-Men Apocalypse Review
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 23 October 2016, 10:00 am

I finally got around to watching X-Men Apocalypse and it was... alright.  I liked it more than First Class or Days of Future past.  But as for the movie itself it was just ok.

The plot was entirely predictable from start to finish.  The bad guy was lame and never once interested me.  But the action was fine and the character development was good to see.

Overall, I think it's a great movie for a different reason.  It has finally gotten away from the shackles of the original movie trilogy and it's cast.  By the end of X-Men Apocalypse we finally have our entire new cast of characters with new actors all assembled and they seem really good.

I feel like the stage is finally set for the next X-Men movie to potentially be great.  I think this cast can do amazing things if given the right script now that they're finally free from all the baggage of the first three X-Men movies.

So, while I don't think I'll be re-watching X-Men Apocalypse anytime soon instead I'm super excited for the possibilities that the next movie in the series will bring.


Ink and Bone Review
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 22 October 2016, 10:00 am

I've read a lot of books this year, just like I always do, but none of them were truly fantastic.  Most fell into the mediocre to ok range.  A few were good and a few were total duds.

That changed when I read Ink and Bone.  It's easily my favorite book that I've read this year so far.  I knew almost nothing about it going in except that I had liked some of the author's work before and by the end of the book I wanted to know what happened next!  Rachel Caine does a great job kicking off a new series with Ink and Bone.

Ink and Bone is set in a world where the library of Alexandria never burned.  It continued to grow in both scope and power until it controlled all knowledge in the world.  All technological advancement had to come from the library and so this alternate timeline finds a much different world than the one we live in.

The printing press has been suppressed and instead people have to check out books into "blanks" that function similarly to a modern day kindle.  The printed word is not widely available in any other form, so the library controls information throughout the world.

The main character in Ink and Bone is a book smuggler's son.  He starts to learn the trade of smuggling real books in a world where it's illegal to own them.  After realizing it's not the right fit for him his father pushes him to join the Library so they can have a member of the family on the inside.

The adventure takes off from there and never really lets up.  I loved so much about this book.  The pacing, the characters, the world-building, the writing style, the plot itself.  Like I said, as soon as I finished Ink and Bone I immediately looked to see if there was another book in the series.

There was!  So I bought and downloaded it immediately.  Expect me to blast through that one as well and do a write up soon.


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