Apple Pie

Apple Pie

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Autumn

Everywhere you look

There’s some rain that is falling down

And leaves that are turning brown

And pumpkin spice and sweaters all around!

So after that are you still here?  Yeah?  Well I can’t help it!  I love Autumn (or as we call it in the U.S. because American English is a pretty strange language, Fall) and it’s finally here!  Everything is cooling off, the squash are starting to ripen, apples are falling, cinnamon and nutmeg are everywhere, and the smell of wet pavement is a dream!  When things start to get chilly we naturally turn to deliciously warm food and spices to heat things up and what could possibly be better than fresh apple pie?  I submit that nothing could be… unless you don’t like pie… like me…

Apple Piemeter and time

apple pie ingredients

We start with a pie crust, technically called a short crust pastry.  There are other kinds of pastry you could use but this is a traditional and well-established method.  And since this was my very first apple pie ever, I thought we should go easy on ourselves.

Put some water into a cup and add a cube or two of ice.  The colder the water, the better the pastry will turn out.  Then let’s rub the cold butter into the flour until it resembles bread crumbs with some pea-sized chunks of butter left.  You don’t want it too fine or you won’t get a nice flaky crust!

Now for the scary part.  Once we start adding water we need to handle the dough as little as possible to get the best crust.  Start with a few tablespoons, mix it in with your hands, add a few more, mix, lather, rinse, repeat until you’ve got a dough that sticks together well but isn’t too wet.  It should be, as we say, a little shaggy, with some dried flour/butter bits still left over.  See the photo if you have questions.

shaggy dough

Lightly flour a surface and knead the dough together until it forms a cohesive mass.  Again, don’t handle it too much or it’ll be stiff and tough.  Split it so you have 1/3 and 2/3 in separate balls and wrap each in cling wrap.  Refrigerate for a while so it relaxes and doesn’t get too tough.

wrapped dough

Now let’s make the filling!

sliced applesThinly slice the apples, making sure to remove the core.  I like to leave the peel on for some added texture but if it bothers you, feel free to peel them as well.  Then add all the apples to a bowl and add the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar to the apples.  Mix it around with your hands until all the apples are coated evenly and set aside.  PS – this is a pretty standard pie filling recipe but I’ve switched out the regular white sugar for brown sugar.  I’ve found it makes it a little more like caramel apples in flavor and I love it!

When the dough has chilled for about 15 minutes remove the smaller third from the fridge.  Lightly flour a surface and roll it out into a round shape large enough to drape over the edges of the pie tin you are using.  Don’t grease the tin or anything – there’s enough butter in the crust to take care of that for you!  Remove the remaining 2/3 dough from the fridge, flour your surface, and roll it out into a rectangle at least the width of the pie tin and the longest you can.  You want it as thin as you can get it because we are weaving this to match Link’s pie.  If you wind up with bits that crack don’t worry, shortcrust is super forgiving.  Just patch them up with some excess crust and roll over the top!

shortcrust rolled out

Once we have a nice rectangle cut the strips into 1 inch wide pieces.  Lightly flour another surface and let’st start weaving!  Lay out strips right next to each other the width of your pie tin.  Take leftover strips and weave them, starting from the center, through the strips you’ve laid out.  Over, under, over, under.  Take another strip and weave it the opposite way, so you’re two strips are over/under opposite one another.  Continue until you have a nice, even lattice.  If you run out of strips, no worries.  Just gather up any scraps and roll them out again.  Cut from that and you should be golden.  This crust recipe may be a little tight but it fit my 10 inch diameter pie tin just fine!  And don’t weave this lattice too tightly – we need to have some space for air to escape so the pie doesn’t explode!

Lightly flour the bottom of the pie crust in the tin.  This helps with the moisture and prevents you from incurring the wrath of Mary Berry and having a soggy bottom.  Add all the apples to the crust.  Don’t overfill the pie, we want it to be level with the top of the tin.  If you’re left with extra you won’t regret just eating them.  Promise.

Gently, using a combination of prayers, incantations, friend’s hands, and extra strong hopes, pick up your lattice somehow and lay it on top of the pie.  If you are lucky enough to have a flat, large sheet you can slide under it, lay it on the pie, and slide out do that!  If not, you’ll have to get some help.  If it breaks a little, again, no worries!  Just mash the pieces together and call it good.

Using a pinching technique between two fingers on one hand and a finger on the other, pinch the top and bottom layers of crust together.  Trim the excess off the sides using a knife, brush the top of the pie with milk, and bake!

Check your pie about 40 minutes into the bake.  If it’s starting to look too dark on top gently place a layer of tinfoil to the parts that are browning too quickly.  This didn’t happen to me so I don’t have any photos.  If it looks light and raw still you shouldn’t have a problem.  Once it’s baked remove the pie from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for at least an hour before you eat it!

fresh apple pie

Link’s Apple Pie recipe:

      • Apple or Wildberry
      • Any fruit
      • Tabantha Wheat
      • Cane Sugar

Apple Pie

  • Servings: 1 pie
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Homemade apple pie using fresh, tart apples

Pie

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup cold butter, cut into tablespoons
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6-9 tablespoons ice-cold water

Apple

  • 2 1/2 pounds tart apples
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Directions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375°F and add some ice to a small cup of water.
  2. Add the flour and salt to a mixing bowl. Cut the butter into tablespoon-sized pieces. Add the butter to the flour and begin rubbing it between your fingers while adding flour. This will create a breadcrumb-like texture. Make sure you leave some butter pieces as large as peas.
  3. Handling the dough as little as possible, start adding water a few tablespoons at a time until the mixture begins to hold together. The dough will be a bit shaggy but should be mostly cohesive.
  4. Lightly flour a surface and knead the dough together until it forms a cohesive mass, being careful not to handle it too much.
  5. Split the dough so you have 1/3 and 2/3 in separate balls and wrap each in cling wrap.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  6. While the dough is chilling make the filling.
  7. Thinly slice the apples, making sure to remove the core.  You may peel the apples or leave the skin on, but leaving the skin gives it a little more texture and color.
  8. Add all the apples to a bowl and add the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar.  Mix it with your hands until all the apples are coated evenly. Set this bowl aside aside.
  9. When the dough has chilled remove the smaller third from the fridge.  Lightly flour a surface and roll it out into a round shape large enough to drape over the edges of the pie tin you are using.  Do not grease the tin beforehand.
  10. Remove the remaining 2/3 dough from the fridge, flour your surface, and roll it out into a rectangle at least the width of the pie tin and the longest you can.  You want it fairly thin because we will be weaving the top. If you wind up with bits that crack just patch them up with some excess crust and roll over the top.
  11. Cut the strips into 1 inch wide pieces.  Lightly flour another surface to begin weaving.
  12. Lay out strips right next to each other the width of your pie tin.  Take leftover strips and weave them, starting from the center, through the strips you’ve laid out by placing the strip over then under the next strip. Take another strip and weave it the opposite way, so you’re two strips are over/under opposite one another.  Continue until you have a nice, even lattice.  If you run out of strips simply gather up any scraps and roll them out again.  Cut new strips to finish the lattice. Don’t weave this lattice too tightly – we need to have some space for air to escape so the pie doesn’t explode!
  13. Lightly flour the bottom of the pie crust in the tin.  This helps with the moisture from the apples and keeps the crust crisp. Add all the apple mixture to the crust.  Don’t overfill the pie, we want it to be level with the top of the tin.
  14. Gently pick up your lattice and lay it on top of the pie. If it breaks a little, again, no worries!  Just mash the pieces together and call it good.
  15. Using a pinching technique between two fingers on one hand and a finger on the other, pinch the top and bottom layers of crust together.  Trim any excess pie crust from the sides with a knife so it’s an even finish.  Brush the top of the pie with milk and bake for 45-55 minutes or until golden brown.
  16. Check your pie about 40 minutes into the bake.  If it’s starting to look too dark on top gently place a layer of tinfoil to the parts that are browning too quickly.  Once it’s baked remove the pie from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for at least an hour before you eat it.

Triforce Heroes and the Power of Nostalgia

Triforce Heroes and the Power of Nostalgia

Sorry for the major posting today but guess what, readers?  It’s another collaboration post, but this one is, dare I say, even bigger than the last one I was involved in!  This series, put on by NekoJonez, is a nice retrospective on everyone’s (or at least my) favorite series: The Legend of Zelda.  In his article you’ll find links between blogs, sharing all the amazing posts by other bloggers discussing each of the LoZ games.  I am so glad and grateful to be involved in this article because, as you all know, I’m a little obsessed with Zelda… Just a bit…

I get to talk about Tri-Force Heroes!  I’ll be taking you through my favorite part of the game: the nostalgia.  This is something Nintendo really tapped into in order to make the game a massively enjoyable multiplayer experience.

triforce heroes

Triforce Heroes, for those of you who never played it, is a multiplayer game for the Nintendo 3DS handheld consoles.  The game was created to improve on the limitations of the GameBoy Advanced Four Swords multiplayer game, which required a lot of finagling to be able to play with others.  Utilizing the built-in WiFi and capability to interact with people all across the globe, Nintendo was able to recapture the enjoyment and excitement of a multiplayer Zelda game in a much more user-friendly way.

Once you start playing Triforce Heroes it seems like Nintendo wanted to recapture a lot of past feelings.  The nostalgia factor is incredibly high while playing, with nods to previous characters, abilities, and artistic styles throughout the game.  It may seem like a simple move to include these little hints but it sure made all the difference for me!  As a bit of a stickler for story the idea of saving an entire kingdom from a “fashion emergency” put me off right from the start.  I was skeptical about the fun I would have playing a game that not only cut out Zelda and Hyrule, but also cut out any semblance of a real story.  But every time I came across another nod at the Zelda series I felt excited, happy that I understood the reference, and eager to continue playing.  For me, that was the real masterpiece of the game.  Nintendo’s ability to capitalize on our love of these characters is what keeps us coming back for more!  What are some of these references, you might ask?  Here, let me show you…

First, let’s talk about concept and artistic style.  This game is heavily based off of the art and world of A Link Between Worlds.  In an interview with Polygon the developer, Hiromasa Shikata, explained that it was A Link Between Worlds that really sparked his interest in creating a multiplayer Legend of Zelda game.  So, naturally, the game would have plenty of elements of LbW throughout it.  The enemies we encounter in each of the levels, the 2D-but-actually-3D visuals, and the stepped terraces and environments are each elements that hearken directly back to LbW.  And, if you know anything about LbW you know that this hearkens back to A Link to the Past, one of the first Legend of Zelda games and a favorite among fans.  So right in the initial development is a double-hit of nostalgia.

In Triforce Heroes Link is able to enter a realm of Doppel’s, which are character’s he inhabits in order to complete levels on his own.  This ability ensures that players can complete the levels they need to even when other players aren’t available.  Shikata, who helped develop Spirit Tracks, explained in his Polygon interview at E3 in 2015 “That element [the ability to control phantoms] really intrigued me and brought out the idea that I wanted to try multiplayer as well.”  So, if we read that correctly (and trust me, we did) Link’s ability to play and inhabit other characters is a direct link to Spirit Tracks.

But we can’t just spend the entire article talking about development, can we? There’s far too much to see and remember to focus just on that!  We’ve already talked about how the art style was heavily influenced by LbW and ALTTP but it seems the character’s were, as well!  There’s no need to go in depth on the enemies, who are a perfect match to the enemies found in LbW.  Did Match Master and Doppel Master look strangely familiar to anyone else?  Yep, to me they looked and reminded me exactly of Sahasrahla from A Link to the Past.  Sahasrahla, the wise old sage, is a perfect match up to the Masters, who are supposed to be guardians of the gates to the outer drablands.  This character, who is able to communicate with Link in ALTTP makes perfect sense as the Masters, who would need to communicate with outside Link’s to create matches.  And then there’s the Street Merchant, a perfect match to the one found in LbW and ALTTP.  This character even makes a little nod when he first shows up at having “seen” Link before… possibly in another world?

And then there’s the outfits.  So many of them are reminders of the characters and things we loved from LoZ games.  Shall we list them?  I think we should, just for the fun of it.

costumes

There’s the Goron garb and Kokiri tunic are a perfect match to those races from Ocarina of Time, while the Zora garb comes straight out of LbW and ALTTP.  Was anyone else reminded of Dodoh from Skyward Sword with the Rupee Regalia outfit?  And Linebeck from Phantom Hourglass and the Fierce Diety armor from Majora’s Mask shows up in the DLC. The Tingle outfit needs no introduction and in a game without Zelda the legendary dress was sorely needed to remind us of her.  The Timeless tunic, from the original Legend of Zelda, is the perfect little nod to the one that started it all, changing all the music to 8-bit sounds throughout the entire game.  And, in a fit of inclusion Nintendo added the hammerwear, a perfect match to the Hammer Bros. from Mario and the Cozy Parka looked very similar to Ice Climbers from Smash Brothers.

But now for my favorite nostaglia moment of them all – the music balls in the waiting room.  I decided, when I was asked to help contribute to this awesome collaboration, to replay a little of the game.  While it held up (mostly) from when it was first released I got stuck in an awful lot of waiting rooms.  It seems like there are fewer and fewer people playing, which means waiting for matches can take quite a while.  And while I waited for a team to show up I spent what amounts to hours playing with the music balls.  If you haven’t played the game you can run, full tilt, at the wall and a music ball (looking like a beach ball) will bounce down from the ceiling.  If you’re able to keep the ball off the ground using your sword you get to hear all the classic Kondo tunes that make Legend of Zelda great.  There’s something, it seems, from nearly every game, and each one brings to mind exactly how much I loved that game and makes me want to play it again.  It was like a few perfect minutes remembering things I loved and still loved from every single game.  I would even get a little upset when my match would begin and it would prevent me from playing with the music balls…

Nintendo created an incredible franchise when they developed The Legend of Zelda.  They created memorable characters, places, stories, items, and music to immerse us in a world we can continue to visit again and again.  In Triforce Heroes, where they needed to create a different type of story and a different type of gameplay, Nintendo capitalized on the elements of LoZ that really capture our hearts, making it another classic we will continue to revisit as time passes on.

Featured Image Credit: Pieter-Jan Casteels https://zoef.deviantart.com/

 

 

Blogger Blitz Retrospective

After something that has been pretty blog-consuming over the last month or two I wanted to jot down some feelings I’ve had throughout the entire competition.

First and foremost – a HUGE thank you to Ian at Adventure Rules for dreaming up the perfect competition.  His creativity knows no bounds, his pictures have been spectacular, and his enthusiasm really caught us up in his excitement.  The work and effort that went into something as big as this cannot be understated and we all owe him a lot of gratitude for pushing us outside our comfort zones.

Secondly – I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the other competitors in the Blitz.  It’s been so fun to get immersed in a community and really feel the encouragement and support of everyone.  The stories and writing have truly inspired me and I’ve learned so much from what they’ve done.  It’s been a blast to trash talk or encourage by turns and exciting to see how creative everyone is.  I’ll really miss the constant interaction that this experience has brought.

Third – A competition would be nothing without our judges and it feels like these one’s have really upped the bar on blogging competitions!  Their insight, interest, and extensive knowledge have really broken down these entries in a way I’m surprised at.  They took their duties very seriously and it’s been impressive to read their logic on announcement days AKA Fridays.  What a task and we were lucky enough to find people worthy of it!

Fourth – I’ve always known how much Link means to me and what he’s helped me get through in my life, but it’s nice to be able to revisit him in so much detail and really express my love for the Legend of Zelda series.  And it’s strengthened my resolve and determination to 100% BotW, which is no small feat!

And lastly – I want to talk a bit about my journey through this process.  Each time I’ve won I’ve been surprised.  Once I read the competitor’s entry I am confident I don’t stand a chance of winning.  Luna’s entry on the Joker was clever and so well-written.  She really knows that character and her details really blew me away.  And then came Luke’s moving story about Claire and her heart-wrenching decision.  Each Friday, when I read the results, I felt like there had been some kind of mistake.  There was no way I actually beat those guys.  And frankly, despite making it to the finals, I still feel a little like my place here is a fluke.  I may have gotten one or two elements better, but their entries were so inspired I just don’t feel worthy of winning.  It’s been a learning process for me to accept the idea that I may have done something right.  I’ve had to learn to accept my advancement and have tried to come to terms with my place in the final.  I’ve never had a lot of self-confidence and I’m more used to making excuses for why my thing “got lucky” than accepting the fact that it might actually be good.  So along this journey I’ve been trying to accept the idea that what I created may have actually had merit.  It may have actually been a worthy entry.  And that’s where I’ve grown.  I’ve grown as a writer, of course, but I’ve grown emotionally and mentally, as well.

So Ian, judges, and fellow challengers, thank you.  Thank you for teaching me and encouraging me.  Thank you for the confidence boost this has been and for the community you’ve given me when I’ve definitely needed it.  No matter who wins the competition tomorrow it doesn’t matter – because I’m definitely the real winner because of all of you.

 

Blogger Blitz Finale: Saving the Castle

Blogger Blitz Finale: Saving the Castle

This is it: the last challenge.  And boy, is it a rough one.  I’m not sure how it’ll turn out but I had to use every bit of Zelda lore I knew to try and accomplish the task set by Ian at Adventure Rules.  The challenge is as follows:

“You have been invited by the steward of the Mushroom Kingdom to assist them with a royal problem. The infant princess, Baby Peach, has begun to develop strange abilities based on her emotions. She literally cries rivers, when she’s angry she bursts into flame, her happiness causes her to float in the air and produce bursts of wind – the only emotional state in which the castle and its staff are safe from her is when she is calm. A doctor is preparing a cure but a courier has to make an overnight trip to pick it up. So the steward needs someone to protect Peach’s Castle from her emotion powers until the cure is delivered.
‘Why not just take her out of the castle?’ you might ask. As fate would have it, there’s an issue with the castle’s power source, the Power Stars. They’ve malfunctioned and now the only thing keeping them running is Peach’s presence in the castle. If she leaves, the Stars will fail and be scattered across the kingdom.
‘We tried having the castle wizard place a spell on her to make her sleep through the night,’ the steward explains, ‘but she is immune to any magic that influences her emotional state.’ There’s another problem too – taking advantage of the castle’s current vulnerability, the evil wizard Kamek has summoned six warriors from other worlds to attack the Mushroom Kingdom. You might recognize them as the defeated competitors from the Blogger Blitz challenge. These warriors, under Kamek’s control, will stop at nothing to kidnap Peach and leave the castle in ruins.”

This event has three distinct parts: the competitors must protect Peach from the previous six Blogger Blitz competitors, protect the castle from those same attackers, and finally protect the castle from Peach and her dangerous emotion powers (based, by the way, on the video game Super Princess Peach). The competitors have been told that they are not able to circumvent any parts of the challenge – no taking Peach out of the castle and no controlling Peach’s emotions through magic. These have been justified fictionally in the above description of the event. Finally, because this event has three distinct parts the competitors will have up to 1200 words in order to make their argument. Also, this makes it so that the total word counts of each phase of the competition go 4000, 3200, 2400. Why does that matter? Because…symmetry, or something.

Wow.  What an imagination to come up with something as complex and awesome as that!  A big, hearty “good luck” to my challenger, Lightning Ellen!  You can read her submission on her blog.  As always, check back Friday at Adventure Rules to find the results of the finale!  And now, on with the show!

… P.S. I promise to have a new recipe tomorrow!


The last month has been increasingly difficult.  These external calls for a hero’s help have left me drained.  But still I answer, Courage never failing, because I am a Hero.  And I’m finally going to tell my own story.  Written down, of course, since no amount of gesticulating seems to be heard.  Everyone understands me, of course.  They just can’t hear me.  Writing is the easier route.

Peach's Castle

When the request came I knew I would need help.  I grabbed my tools, called on some loyal companions, and found my way to the Mushroom Kingdom.  I had already been briefed on the situation: baby peach’s magical powers were wreaking havoc on the castle and herself.  There was possible danger from the outside, as well.  I was nervous, but took comfort from the Ocarina I carried and the Song of Time, which would turn back the clock 3 days in case of failure.  I hoped I wouldn’t need it.

When I got to the castle it seemed like the mission had already started.  The princess was in a terrible rage and the castle was catching fire.  I whipped out my Ocarina and played the Song of Storms.  The gentle rain extinguished the fire and had the added bonus of calming the princess.  She seemed fascinated by the music.  After that she warmed up to me.  I began my preparations while Peach’s attendants prepared her for the evening.  I established a perimeter of warp points on each of the four sides of the castle, knowing that I could be needed at anywhere in a moment.  I asked my guides to stay at those points since they could quickly find me and alert me if something was wrong.  I set up my friend, Ooccoo, on the East along with Tatl, the fairy.  By keeping Ooccoo Jr. with me I could quickly return to his mother.  Using the Travel Medallion and my Sheikah Slate I created a point on the West and asked Navi to stand guard there.  Farore’s Wind created a point on the North side of the castle with Ciela. And in the South I set up Midna and her warp capability.  With each of the areas guarded I needed to find a way to protect Peach, not only from external threats, but from herself.

baby peach

When I found her, the princess was laughing at a book and floating 6 feet off the ground.  A sudden gust of wind threatened to blow her out the window.  In a panic I used my Hookshot to latch to the ceiling above her, dropped down, and snatched her out of the air.  She calmed down once we hit the floor and seemed comfortable with me.  I requested that she wear my Minish Cap, which would shrink her to a very small size.  She’d still express her powers, but they would be minimized and more manageable.  She agreed and I decided to take it further, making the entire situation a game, and asking her to play in one of the Bottles I carried.  After more laughter and another trip on my Hookshot, she agreed.  I placed her inside a Bottle with a Fairy, to keep her company.  This would protect her, but I would still be be able to see her and interfere if necessary.

indiana jones

As soon as I capped the lid Navi came racing toward me.  I knew there was trouble and warped to her side of the castle.  A man with a bull whip stood, ready to attack.  I used my Ice Rod and froze him, allowing me time to think.  Fi quickly told me to be careful of his whip.  That seemed simple enough and, as he unfroze, I dealt him a blow with my Boomerang and stunned him.  I tied him up, took him to the dungeon, knowing his lack of magic would prevent him from escaping, and locked the door just as Tatl flew in.

ash ketchum

I warped to her location to find an electric monster guarding the hallway – it was yellow, with black stripes and tall, pointed ears.  With my Thunder Helm I didn’t fear any electrical discharge.  I exhausted the beast with the Master Sword and used the Hookshot to stun the Trainer standing behind the monster.  Fi let me know that this boy lacked magical powers, as well, so down to the dungeon he went.

guybrush threepwood

As I came up the stairs I felt a sickening blow to my head.  A Fairy came to my aid and the stars quickly blinked out of my eyes.  I realized the man who had attacked was a pirate, laughing and making a sharp joke about the situation.  I froze this intruder with an Ice Arrow and, after receiving Fi’s confirmation that he, too, would lack the skills required to escape from a magical dungeon, placed him in there with his 3 fellow-attackers.

the joker

Midna appeared before me, quickly warping us to her side of the castle.  We re-appeared just as an explosion went off.  Luckily I had Daruk’s Blessing, which created a temporary shield and protected both myself and Peach from the damage.  As the ringing in my ears died I heard frightening laughter.  The Joker, a man I had encountered before, was standing down the hallway, finger on another trigger.  I quickly froze him and, knowing he was under no spell forcing him to attack, drew my Master Sword and brought it crashing down into him.

claire redfield

The castle became quiet after that… Too quiet.  I checked on Peach but she seemed to be happily floating in air, playing with the Fairy and laughing as a gentle breeze pushed her around the Bottle.  I sighed in relief and decided to prowl the hallways.  I donned the Stone Mask, which turned me invisible, and began patrolling.  A soft noise startled me and I glanced around.  There, in the shadows, was a character I knew well – Claire Redfield.  I knew she possessed a terrible power that would transform her if left alive.  I needed to get her out of the castle.  I crept up, using a Sneaky Elixer, and froze her using my Cryonis Sheikah Rune.  I created a Dark World warp using my Magic Mirror and sent her into another realm.  As I did so, I unfroze her, knowing she would be able to protect herself while there.  When this was all over I would fetch her and return her to her home.

mega man

Ciela came shooting toward me and we warped to her section of the castle.  I saw the invader and attempted to freeze him with the Ice Rod, but there didn’t seem to be much effect.  Every attack I shot at him just made him stronger, and he soon started shooting my attacks back!  I knew if I couldn’t defeat him I would have to incapacitate him.  Ciela Stopped Time, just long enough for me to bring Peach out of the bottle and remove the Minish Cap.  I quickly placed the cap on Mega Man’s head, shrinking him down, and dropped him in an empty Bottle.  When time restarted, he was trapped and without the power to escape.  As I held the princess’s hand the sun rose, the long night was over, and Peach’s antidote had arrived.

Better Gaming Through Criticism

Better Gaming Through Criticism

It seems like game journalism and critics are a hot button topic right now in social media and on other gaming blogs.  I think it’s finally time that I put in my two cents about it.

Last night on the commute home I was listening to a RadioWest Podcast episode in which A. O. Scott was discussing his new book, Better Living Through Criticism: How to Think About Art, Pleasure, Beauty, and Truth.  Scott is the chief film critic for the New York Times and has quite a lot of experience critiquing films and other art.  Just a few days earlier The Well-Red Mage posted an article discussing whether video games are considered art.  Now, I know it seems like these are two unrelated events but it was like lightning had just struck my brain and today’s post, which had at first seemed impossible, was now impossibly easy.  So let’s talk about the importance of criticism (proper criticism, mind you) on the gaming industry.  And yes, in case you were wondering, I absolutely think video games are art…

First, let’s discuss some science.  I, if you’ve read my profile, am a microbiologist and love infectious disease.  I specialize in human pathogens and in my studies had to learn a lot about how viruses and bacteria evolve.  There are two major ways they do this: antigenic shift and antigenic drift.  Drift occurs slowly, over time, making small changes in the genetic code that eventually lead to a new organism.  Shift happens when a large factor is changed in the genetic code, creating a new organism right away.  Criticism in the game industry lead to these two types of changes: slow, small changes that occur over time and big leaps that happen almost immediately.

So now let’s discuss criticism.  There are two different types of criticism and I want to talk about both, because each one leads to the advance of the industry.  Let’s start with the easy one: “the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes”.  This is the criticism I think most of us encounter – the twitter rants, the angry Reddit posts, the comments section on Amazon.  This form of expression seems to be everywhere.

It’s interesting to think of these critics as important for the gaming industry because I think, in general, they are looked down on.  But have you ever liked a tweet expressing displeasure with, say, Nintendo for not producing enough SNES mini’s to meet demand?  Or left a review of how a game’s mechanics are difficult, not intuitive, or broken?  Whenever you do you are telling the game industry what to produce and what not to produce next time.  If a game is unpopular, has terrible reviews, and no one purchases it you’ve just told the developer to never make that kind of game again.  If there’s a twitter rant about not enough consoles for the masses, the developer will change tatics and immediately begin reproduction on that console (thank you Nintendo for more SNES mini’s!).  If everyone is complaining about the mechanics of how a particular gun is made in Destiny, it’ll be fixed in the next patch.

These kinds of criticism produce the massive shifts in the industry that responds to what the gamers want right now.  It’s a way to ensure that developers are meeting popular opinion and demand.  If you want something done, express your frustration and, if enough people agree with you, you can bet it’ll get fixed, either for the next game or in the next update.

The second form of criticism is “the analysis and judgment of the merits and faults of a literary or artistic work”.  This is where game journalism comes in because these are the critics of the industry.  In Better Living Through Criticism, Scott discusses the idea that art cannot exist without criticism.  I loved this idea because it rings so true to me.  Without criticism, without thinking clearly and examining our emotional response to something, we cannot give that something meaning.  Without meaning, that something cannot be art.  So in order to continue to ensure that games are taken seriously, these kinds of critics are a valuable part of our industry.

A critics job is to look at something and figure out why it has meaning.  Why did it evoke certain feelings?  What is the underlying tone and vibe of the game?  How did it affect the general population and what will the impact be on current societal trends?  These questions provide new insights, even insights the artist wasn’t intending, into the games and consoles that are being released.  In turn, these criticisms evoke antigenic drift, the slow process of small changes that adjust the way the industry behaves, the games that are made, and the stories that are told.  When critics ask hard questions and come up with new answers, it provokes though and ingenuity in the developers.  Sometimes it’s something no one had considered before.  Because of these new ideas we are able to change the way that we think about games and the way that games are created, produced, and told.

And you know what?  These voices are important, whether they are good at something or bad at it.  Just because you aren’t capable of playing every game on the market doesn’t mean that your in-depth analysis is invalid.  We don’t expect sports commentators to have necessarily been pro players, but we still accept their opinions and their commentary as valid.  We don’t expect film critics to have been producers or actors at some point in their career.  The point of a critic is to be able to think about something a little outside the box in order to invest new, and sometimes groundbreaking ideas into the mix.  We should extend the same courtesy to game journalists.   Most of them have an area of expertise and they are pretty good at sticking to that area.  But they’re allowed to be humans and step outside that range for non-professional moments.  Let’s let them be human.

A word of caution: just because we can be critics doesn’t mean we should be.  This post isn’t a call to arms, trying to make sure everyone remains harsh and unforgiving in their opinions about new games, new consoles, new media.  In fact, I think we can be just as influential in our positive opinions and reviews as we are in our criticism of how things are done.  By showing Nintendo that the masses love Zelda (obvious by the sales numbers) we are ensuring that something we admire continues to be made.  By expressing our delight with the mechanics of Overwatch, we continue to provide support for the loving tweaks they give the characters to help make the game even better.  People’s disappointment that the Uncharted series was over may have ensured that spin-off’s like Lost Legacy continue to be made.  So let’s use criticism to help make the things we love so much become better, but let’s also use our positivity and optimism to make them better, too.

My conclusion?  The criticism from both gamers and critics introduce novel changes to the industry that help it stay active and alive.  I think it’s an important aspect of gaming and something that we should be proud to be a part of.  What do you guys think?  Do you believe that criticism and critics are important for the game industry and how could it be different and better?

 

Fruitcake

Fruitcake

There are many versions of fruitcake.  It means something different in every society and region of the world.  But if you take a peek at the recipe in Breath of the Wild it’s pretty obvious Link makes a Bavarian fruit cake.  Now, I don’t know how to make one of these layered, intense cakes on my own so I turned to my favorite pastry cookbook, Tartine by Elizabeth Pruitt.  She is an absolute star in the pastry world and her creations always look too good to be true.  Instead of shifting this recipe around to make it 100% my own, which wouldn’t have worked out nearly as well or delicious, I simply adapted this recipe to make it a little more “me” and ran with it.  So tighten those bootstraps, grab your handy whisk, and let’s get going on the most difficult recipe to date.

Fruitcakedifficulty and time meter

With how long this recipe takes as a whole we need to prioritize.  It’s like tackling a group of lizalfos – if you don’t freeze some and take out the silver one on one you’re never going to finish without dying.  Same with this recipe.  We start with some recipes and then, while they are “freezing” we work on the easier bits.  The ice breaks, we finish it all off, and we unlock the treasure, which, in this case, is an incredible cake.

ingredients

Flour mixtureWe start with the cake.  It’ll take a bit to bake and cool and we can work on other components while it does.  So start with flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a bowl.  Using a hand whisk (yes, I need to specify, we use a lot of whisks in this recipe) blend the flour mixture until well-combined and aerated.  Make a well shape in the bottom of the bowl with the flour and set aside.

egg separation

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a regular bowl but you’ll be grateful for the stand mixer if you’ve got one) and another bowl separate the egg whites and yolks from 6 eggs.  You can do this in a few ways, the easiest is probably one of those fancy egg-separator-thingee-mabobs you find in the cooking aisle.  The cheapest is the way I do it, by slowly cracking the egg in two, keeping most of the whites and all the yolk in one side of the shell.  Then slowly tip the yolk into the other shell.  Keep up this slow version of hot potato until the only thing left in the egg shell is the yolk.  The albumen (white part) goes in the stand mixer bowl, the yolk goes in the other bowl.  And trust me, if you don’t go slowly you’ll break your yolk, which defeats the purpose.  If it happens try and keep as much of it out of your bowl, dump the egg, and try again.

eggs plus flour

Repeat this process for all 6 eggs, then add the vegetable oil, water, and extract to your yolk bowl.  Mix this well using your hand whisk and transfer it to your flour mixture.  Whisk this in for 2ish minutes until it’s nice and smooth (you can use a normal whisk for this).

And now for the stand mixer.  We need 4 more egg whites but don’t need the yolks so go ahead and throw those out.  Put on the whisk attachment, add the bowl, and whisk on medium-high until the eggs get frothy.  If you don’t have a stand mixer you can use a hand mixer with a whisk attachment.  But don’t blame me when your arm falls off from all the vibration!  Once the whites are frothy add the cream of tartar.  Keep whisking until the eggs hold soft peaks.  There’s a photo if you’re unsure!  Then add a bit of the sugar, and, yes, you know the drill, keep whisking.  Once the whites hold nice, stiff, shiny peaks it’s ready!

Here comes the part that’ll ruin your entire cake if it’s not right – we have to fold in the whites.  Fold too quickly and too vigorously and you’ll lose all that beautiful air we just put in them.  Fold too slowly and you’ll get bored, give up, and leave.  So we scoop about 1/3 of this whites into the batter and carefully fold in by scooping from the bottom and turning over on the top.  Gently continue this until it’s well mixed then add the remaining whites and fold in until just combined.  Grease a springform pan with butter and then add flour.  Tap out the excess flour, but make sure all your butter is covered by flour.  Pour the batter into the pan and bake.

batter pour

Next: the pastry cream.  This will take a bit to cool, as well, so it needs to be second.  Add the milk into a saucepan with the vanilla and the salt.  Heat it all over medium-high heat, making sure to stir frequently.  If you don’t you may burn the milk and I promise you it’ll be horrific to eat and you’ll wind up throwing it away.  While the milk is warming up whisk (using a regular whisk) the eggs, cornstarch, and sugar in a bowl until smooth.  When the milk is almost boiling pour about 1/3 (we like thirds here) of the hot milk into the eggs and whisk constantly.  Once combined quickly add the entire mixture into the saucepan and continue to whisk and heat over medium heat until the mixture (a custard, if anyone wanted to know) becomes as thick as lightly whipped cream and is just under the boiling point (i.e. a few bubbles but not actual boiling).

Ladle (or scoop, spoon, spatula, etc…) the cream out of the pan and put it in a shallow bowl.  If you leave the cream in the pan it’ll keep cooking and ruin it.  Let it cool for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to remove some of the heat.  Once it’s cool add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time and whisk until smooth.

Cover the cream with plastic wrap the same way we did the Wildberry Crepes by pressing the plastic all the way down on the top of the cream to prevent a skin from forming.  Place this in the fridge to chill and take a deep breath!  We are maybe 1/3 of the way through this recipe…

cooling the cakeWhen the timer goes off test the cake for doneness (which is totally a word) by inserting a toothpick.  It should come out nice and clean.  Remove the pan from the oven but leave the cake in it to cool.  Let it cool entirely before doing anything with it.

So is that cake almost cool yet?  Almost?  Perfect.  Once it is let’s start on the next few steps.  We need to make the fruit puree (to prevent the cake from drying out), the actual cream filling, and cut all the fruit.  Let’s start with the cream bit.

Again, it needs to cool a tad so timing is key.  Add the gelatin to the water and let it sit for several minutes.  It’s kind of cool and gross to watch so if you do I won’t judge.  And while we are doing that let’s make a double boiler.  To do this we need a saucepan that’ll be several inches deep with water but still have headroom for steam and either a stainless steel mixing bowl or another pan (which is what I do.  We get fancy around here).  Fill the first pan several inches deep with water and get it boiling.  Once it is add some 1/4 cup of the chilled pastry cream to the bowl/bigger pan.  Place this bowl/pan over the boiling water and pray the water doesn’t touch the pan.  Heat the cream, whisking constantly, until hot to the touch.  Add the gelatin (which has now become The Blob) and whisk until smooth.  Remove from the heat and add half the remaining cream.  Once it’s mixed add the remaining pastry cream and hand whisk until smooth.

cream plus cream

Using a hand mixer or stand mixer with a whisk attachment whisk the cream until it holds medium-stiff peaks.  Gently, using our skills from earlier, fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream mixture.

blend the raspberriesNow for the fruit.  Take about 1 pint of the washed raspberries and blend them with the sugar and salt until smooth.  Pour it out and set it aside.  We cut up and remove the pits from the peaches and wash the rest of the raspberries.

And now it’s cake time!

Remove the cake from the pan, finally, and carefully cut the top off to make an even level.  Cut it right down the center (longways) to make two even cake layers.  Line a springform cake pan (it can be the same one, just wash it first) with plastic wrap, making sure there’s extra to cover the cake at the end.  Put the bottom layer of cake in so it’s nice and snug.  Spoon on about half of the berry puree and then a thin layer of cream.  Arrange the fruit in a nice pattern (and of course it’s the one photo I forgot to take!) and then add the remaining pastry cream.  Gently add the top layer of cake and press down slightly to remove any air bubbles.  Cover the top layer with the remaining puree, cover it with the wrap, and set it in the fridge to chill for at least 4 hours.  If you pull it out early the cream won’t be set and the whole thing will fall apart. Trust me, I did this…

When it’s almost time (I promise, just a little more whisking) let’s make a nice whipped cream.  Add the cream and sugar to a stand mixer or bowl and whisk until it holds stiff, delicious peaks.  Remove the cake from the fridge and release it from the pan.  Move the cake to a cake stand (if you’re cool) or just remove the plastic wrap and place it on a plate (my method).  Using a spatula, add the whipped cream just like you’re icing a cake.  If you’re feeling like you haven’t done enough feel free to pipe some fancy swirls on to the top.  Decorate with the fruit and enjoy the spoils of your hard-won war!  Congratulations and let them eat cake!

cake decorated

Link’s Fruitcake recipe:

    • Apple or Wildberry
    • Any fruit
    • Tabantha Wheat
    • Cane Sugar

Fruitcake

  • Servings: 1 cake
  • Difficulty: extra hard
  • Print

A Bavarian-style fruitcake with peaches and raspberries


Recipe adapted from Summer Fruit Bavarian by Elizabeth Pruitt from Tartine

Cake

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 10 large egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Pastry

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Filling

  • 3/4 teaspoon gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 batch pastry cream
  • 1 cup heavy cream, very cold

Raspberry

  • 1/2 pint raspberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt

Toppings

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/3-1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 pint raspberries
  • 2 large peaches

Cake

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 325°F and grease and flour a 10 inch springform cake pan.
  2. Add the flour, baking powder, 1 1/4 cups of the sugar, and salt in a bowl.  Whisk the flour mixture until well-combined and aerated.  Make a well shape in the mixture and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer or a regular bowl and second bowl separate the egg whites and yolks from 6 eggs.  You can do this by slowly cracking the egg in two, keeping most of the whites and all the yolk in one side of the shell.  Then slowly tip the yolk into the other shell. Continue switching egg shells until the only thing left in the egg shell is the yolk.  The albumen (white part) goes in the stand mixer bowl, the yolk goes in the other bowl. Repeat this process for all 6 eggs.
  4. Add the vegetable oil, water, and extract to your yolk bowl.  Whisk this until smooth and transfer it to your flour mixture.  Whisk the two together until it’s nice and smooth.
  5. In the bowl of the stand mixer add 4 more egg whites to the 6 already separated. Using the whisk attachment, whisk on medium-high until the eggs get frothy.  If you don’t have a stand mixer you can use a hand mixer with a whisk attachment. Once the whites are frothy add the cream of tartar.  Keep whisking until the eggs hold soft peaks.  Add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and whisk until the whites hold nice, stiff, shiny peaks.\
  6. Scoop about 1/3 of the whisked whites into the yolk batter and carefully fold in by scooping from the bottom and turning over on the top of the batter.  Gently continue this until it’s well mixed. Add the remaining whites and fold in until just combined.
  7. Pour the batter into the greased pan and bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pan.

Pastry

  1. Add the milk into a saucepan with the vanilla and the salt.  Heat over medium-high heat, making sure to stir frequently to prevent burning the milk.
  2. While the milk is warming up whisk the eggs, cornstarch, and sugar in a bowl until smooth.
  3. When the milk is nearly boiling pour about 1/3 of the hot milk into the eggs and whisk constantly.  Once combined quickly add the entire mixture into the saucepan.
  4. Continue to whisk and heat over medium heat until the mixture becomes as thick as lightly whipped cream and is just under the boiling point (i.e. a few bubbles but not actual boiling).
  5. Ladle (or scoop, spoon, spatula, etc…) the cream out of the pan and put it in a shallow bowl.  If you leave the cream in the pan it’ll keep cooking and ruin it.  Allow to cool for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to remove some of the heat.
  6. Cut the butter into tablespoons. Once the cream has cooled slightly add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking until smooth between each addition.
  7. Cover the cream with plastic wrap by pressing the plastic all the way down on the top of the cream to prevent a skin from forming.  Place this in the fridge to chill until needed for the filling.

Filling

  1. Add gelatin to the water and let it sit for several minutes.
  2. While the gelatin is forming make a double boiler by adding several inches of water to a saucepan and heating until lightly boiling.
  3. Once the water is boiling add 1/4 cup of the chilled pastry cream to a second saucepan or stainless steel bowl. Place this bowl/pan over the boiling water and heat the cream, whisking constantly, until hot to the touch.  Add the gelatin and whisk until smooth.  Remove from the heat and whisk in half the remaining cream.  Once it’s mixed add the remaining pastry cream and whisk until smooth.
  4. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk the cream until it holds medium-stiff peaks.
  5. Gently fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream mixture and set aside.
  6. Take about 1/2 pint of washed raspberries and blend them with the sugar and salt until smooth.  Pour it out and set it aside.

Assembly

  1. Wash the remaining raspberries and pit and slice the peaches
  2. Remove the cake from the pan, finally, and carefully cut the top off to make an even level.  Cut it in half to make two even cake layers.
  3. Line a springform cake pan (it can be the same one, just wash it first) with plastic wrap, making sure there’s extra to cover the cake at the end.
  4. Add the bottom layer of cake to the lined pan so it’s nice and snug.
  5. Spoon on about half of the berry puree and then a thin layer of cream.
  6. Arrange the fruit in a nice pattern and then add the remaining pastry cream.
  7. Gently add the top layer of cake and press down slightly to remove any air bubbles.
  8. Cover the top layer of cake with the remaining puree. Cover the cake with the wrap and set it in the fridge to chill for at least 4 hours.
  9. To make the whipped cream topping add the cream and sugar to a stand mixer or bowl and whisk until it holds stiff, delicious peaks.
  10. Remove the cake from the fridge and release it from the pan.  Move the cake to a cake stand or remove the plastic wrap and place it on a plate.
  11. Using a spatula, add the whipped cream just like you’re icing a cake.
  12. Decorate with the fruit and eat cake!

Blogger Blitz Semifinals: Raccoon City

Blogger Blitz Semifinals: Raccoon City

If any of you follow along with the non-recipe posts you’ll know that I won Round One of the incredible Blogger Blitz Challenge, hosted by Ian at Adventure Rules.  I honestly didn’t expect to win, especially since Luna of Gamer’s United put up such a good fight.  But by some serious luck I got to move on to the semifinals!  If you want to know more about the basics behind the Blogger Blitz a link to the rules can be found here.  However, for this second challenge a new scenario and a new rule were introduced.  The new rule: I get 800 words (instead of 500) to describe why Link would be able to survive a dastardly plan by LeChuck of The Secret of Monkey Island and take down Albert Wesker in Resident Evil territory.  Since I’ve never played Resident Evil I relied heavily on recaps and synopsis to understand what Link was up against, so bear with me if it may be a tad inaccurate!  The official prompt is as follows:

“In this event, the two competitors must switch roles for a day – Link must lead the charge against biologically-enhanced zombie warriors (can you tell I’ve totally played Resident Evil before?!) and their leader Wesker, while Claire has to save Hyrule from the mighty sorcerer Ganondorf and his evil hordes. However, before they can do their new jobs, LeChuck interferes, dragging them to the waters of Mêlée Island (which, as we all know, conveniently borders both Hyrule and the United States). Attaching each competitor to a heavy ship anchor, he sends them plummeting into the deep before heading off to capture Elaine Marley. Our competitors must explain how they escape LeChuck’s deadly trap without drowning, make their way back, and defeat a villain they have never faced with abilities foreign to their own world.”

If you are dying to see what my competitor, Luke, at Hundstrasse has written (like I am) then check out his blog here.  And now, let’s see what Link’s got up his sleeve for this challenge!  And don’t forget, the results will go live Friday at 9am EST on Adventure Rules.

Judges and curious onlookers – the word count starts now:

Hyrule

Another day, another kingdom to save.  It seems the work is never done for the Hero of Hyrule.  But this time, it’s not his kingdom that needs saving.  A request came for help from the distant land of Raccoon City, and Link, a born hero through all ages, answers the call.  As he leaves the safety of Hyrule he is ambushed by the dread pirate, LeChuck, who captures Link using a sleeping draft.  LeChuck ties Link to an anchor and drops him into the depths of the ocean…

Link!  Link, wake up! Hurry!

Link awakens, gasps, and struggles wildly.  Luckily, he always wears his Zora Tunic, which allows him to breathe underwater, when he sails.  With no fear of drowning, Link struggles with his bonds, eventually freeing one arm.  He draws the Master Sword and slices through the rope, freeing himself from the anchor.  Using his Silver Scale, Link swims to the surface to find the King of Red Lions, his companion across all oceans.  He hops into this boat and ties up his Swift Sail, knowing that time is running out.

Raccoon City

As Link reaches the shore he realizes he is still far from Raccoon City.  He could call his loyal steed, Epona, but knows that time is pressing.  Instead he calls his Crimson Loftwing and soars through the skies to reach this new realm.  He sets down just outside the town, cautious and wary.  He isn’t sure what monsters Raccoon City may be facing but his Stealth Crouch and Sheikah Stealth Armor help him avoid detection.  The closer he gets to the city, the fewer resources he notices.  Luckily, scavenging for food, materials, and weapons and careful use of those goods is a skill he has recently acquired.  Maintaining a supply of health-restoring food and weapons shouldn’t be a problem with his Sheikah Slate Sensor capabilities.  And Link isn’t afraid to break literally every pot and cut every blade of grass to find what he needs.

As he enters the city he encounters his first monster – a hideous, humanoid thing that looks undead.  Or maybe ReDead?  Link sighs with relief when he realizes he’s encountered monsters similar to this before.  He manages to sneak past the first few zombies before coming to a large mansion.  He checks his map and notices a glowing sphere underneath the mansion.  It must be the location of Wesker, the man behind these evils deeds.  He cautiously slips through the front doors and stumbles upon a monster just inside the door.  He whips out his Ocarina, quickly plays the Sun Song and a beam of light appears, blinding the zombie, allowing Link the time to kill him with the Master Sword before moving on.

Resident Evil Mansion

As Link steps into the next room he notices hidden switches and some kind of puzzle to be worked out.  He smiles.  As Hero of Hyrule, he has worked his way through hundreds of puzzles.  It seems like the people of Hyrule insist their temples be so complex no one could actually use them.  He quickly works out the first puzzle and moves on.  As he works his way through the following rooms and puzzles he notices that the mansions is becoming quieter.  As he leaves the last room and zombie runs down the corridor toward him.  Working quickly, Link uses his Ice Rod to freeze his opponent.  He then uses a well-placed bomb to kill the monster.  The sound, however, draws more zombies to him.  His Triforce of Courage never fails him and he swiftly fires a Bomb Arrow, blasting them all as he makes his escape to the stairs at the end of the hall.

Albert Wesker from Resident Evil

Link rushes down toward the glowing dot from his map to find a giant mutant and Wesker.  Wesker congratulates Link on making it this far and explains his terrible plan for world domination.  Link rolls his eyes – he’s heard this before and this guy had nothing on Ganondorf.  As Wesker finishes his tirade he unleashes the monster, a Tyrant.  Link quickly downs a Tough Meat and Rice Bowl, boosting his ability to handle damage and his health, and uses a combination of the Mirror Shield to blind the monster and Master Sword Beams to defeat it.  In the monster’s last, terrible rage he attacks Wesker, who appears dead beside the remains of the beast.  But Link knows that after Ganondorf comes Ganon and waits for the second monster to appear.  Wesker revives, having injected himself with a powerful virus, and attacks.  Link brings out the Light Arrows, knowing of their power to stop evil (and blind his foes), and uses them and powerful attacks with his Master Sword to defeat Wesker.  As Link leaves the building the sun bursts above the horizon and he smiles, knowing he restored peace to Raccoon City.