Blog Awards Galore!!

Blog Awards Galore!!

Guys, I’m super overwhelmed right now.  I’ve just been nominated for my third blogger award in a month.  As a girl who has some very tough opinions about herself, the outpouring of love, friendship, and fun that ensues from this blogging community can be… undeniably uplifting.  In the spirit of answering all the questions, but not overwhelming people with too many posts, get ready for an episode of:

SUPER DUPER AWARD RAPID FIRE ANSWERS!

In this version I will be answering all  the questions posed to me from all three bloggers.  Some are personal, so get ready to get to know me better, and some are wacky, so get ready to feel the lackluster powers of my wit.


First up, Gritty Momma nominated me for a Liebster Award.  What’s that, you ask?  It’s an award from The Global Aussie in an effort to promote new bloggers.  This neat little lady writes about motherhood, dealing with psychological issues, and the troubles of being human.  It’s a nice read and definitely worth looking into if you have/experience any of those issues.

First things first for this award: 10 random things about me.  For the sake of an actual, readable and not-too-long post, I’ll only list 5…

  1. I am born on leap year.  That makes me a solid 7 1/2.
  2. I hate frosting, pudding, pastry cream, chocolate cake and donuts, pie, and most whipped cream.  For someone very into desserts, that’s a lot of hates.
  3. I can’t regulate my body temperature very well.  This means even in the middle of the heat of the summer I wear sweatshirts.
  4. I prefer rainy days to sunny days
  5. I own every novel in the Redwall (Brian Jacques) series

And now for the questions:

What is your go-to technique for calming nerves–your own or others–in stressful situations?

I stress clean and stress bake during intense situations, like Overwatch League matches, baseball games, and fights.  During the world series a few years ago I made three batches of scones during a single game.  In situations outside the home I tend to pick at my nails and nail beds until they bleed.  It makes my fingers look terrible, but it helps.

What is your favorite food?

Chinese food.  Hands down.  I could eat my mothers chinese food every day of my life.  But a specific food changes on my mood.  Right now it’s a toss up between walnut brownies and sarsaparilla floats.

Do you prefer academia or practical skills?

Academia for me.  If I could be a student as a career, I would do so.  I love learning and obsessively research new topics until I feel I’m deeply conversational in them.

Current favorite TV show?

Brooklyn 99

If you could change one thing about the world you live in, what would it be?

I wish people were more tolerant toward others.  More kind about their differences, less judgmental about their choices, more accepting of others in spite of their unique qualities.

Pet peeve?

I hate it when people try to either blame others for their own failings or take credit for things they didn’t do.

How do you cultivate empathy in your relationships?

I try to see things from their perspective.  I’m not very good at it, but I try.

Dream job?

Hemorrhagic fever virus hunter for the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease.  Ever read The Hot Zone?  Yeah, that’s what I want to do.

Go-to catch phrase when you’re pleased with something:

Oh sweet.

What do you want to be remembered for?

Kindness.  I want people to go to my funeral and say “she was so kind to everyone”

Who do you most want to read your blog?

Anyone interested in either food or gaming.  Or both!  I want people to know that gaming is for everyone and, as our friend Remy the Rat learned, anyone can cook.


Next up was NekoJonez, kindly nominating me for a Sunshine Award!  This guy is always winning awards and is a bedrock member of my community.  Always there for people, always pushing for new and interesting game reviews, always supportive when you need it.

Here are the questions, and here are the answers.  P.S: I fully expect ALL of you to participate in questions 2 in the comments.  I wanna know if you can guess!

Explain as poorly as you can how either Minecraft or Pokémon works.

Minecraft is a a thing people do, I guess, on, like, computers and stuff, where you make things and, like, everything looks like squares and people watch you make things and it’s mostly kids, or whatever.

Explain a game cryptically and let your readers guess which game or game series it is.

This game involves traveling through different levels where you collect items.  Those items are used at the end of the level to build other things, which can help make the game more customizable.  During the process of traveling your character is joined by another character, who give your character extra abilities in order to collect more of these items.  In the end your character defeats an evil sorcerer and restores peace to his colorful world.

Do you sell games you have completed/beaten or do you keep them in a collection?

Nope!  I’m a collector, baby.  I don’t have a big collection but I couldn’t imagine getting rid of a game.  I tend to only buy games I know I’ll love and I really enjoy replaying them.

Which game/genre does interest you quite a lot but you are unable to get into the actual game/genre?

Multiplayer games like Battlefront interest me a great deal but I can’t seem to get into them.  I play Overwatch on PC but that’s it.  I just can’t seems to force myself to play them enough to get good enough to enjoy them.

Do you think it’s possible that there will be every an amazing video game movie?

I… no.  And here’s why: people will always compare a game to a movie and vice versa.  The problem with turning books and games into movies is that people want the game/book in a movie form.  While the limitations of filmmaking and the need to make money ensure that a perfect copy of the game/book can’t be made.  It’s like Ready Player One.  If you haven’t read the book I bet you’ll love the movie.  If you have, you’ll probably be sorely disappointed.  Same with a game.  They can’t simply turn LoZ into a movie.  I would probably hate it because it could never live up to the game.

Would you ever consider blogging full time as a job?

Yes and no!  When I started this blog it was my dream to be able to make this a full-time gig with an officially published cookbook and everything.  It’s still the dream, but with a nearly-full-time job, a kid, and adult responsibilities, as well as trying to squeeze in time for hobbies still, it’s hard to be consistent enough to get there.  If I could quit and focus on this and make it a full-time deal, that would be ideal.  But putting in the effort to getting to the point where I could simply quit and it already was a full-time deal is probably not possible.

I haven’t gotten a Switch yet! Quickly, recommend me a game.

Breath of the Wild.  Done.

If you had to choose between Sony, PC or Nintendo platforms and emulation DIDN’T exist, which platform would you choose and why?

Nintendo.  I’m very close to playing Nintendo exclusively anyway so making that an actual, permanent thing wouldn’t be that hard.

What is the platform you grew up on and tell us some fond memories.

I grew up on a few platforms, but Nintendo was my favorite.  I used to play Ocarina of Time over and over and over again until I had every temple and every puzzle memorized.  I could beat it in my sleep.  And it never got old.  No matter how many times I would boot it up I never got bored.  And I used to sneak downstairs and watch my dad play Pokemon Puzzle League on the 64.  He’d play from the time we were put to bed until 3-4 am.  He still has the high score and he’s the only person I know who has beaten it on Super Hard.

Tell here a random story you want to share with your readers.

I had this boyfriend in college and his roommates and I would sit around and play Super Smash on his GameCube for hours.  I, nearly every game, would beat them.  Not because I’m good at it or anything, because I’m not.  I would play Yoshi and I would button mash.  So either they were very bad at Super Smash or I have a magical button mashing gift.


And last, but not least, my latest nomination, Matt from Normal Happenings nominated me for his Super Specific Sunshine Award!  This guy is a recent find but I already love his blog.  I will be participating in another massive Zelda collaboration put together by him and anyone who loves Zelda as much as me is an automatic friend!  So let’s answer his questions, which are seriously unexpected!

A new island chain suddenly forms in the south Pacific. Scientists, in the spirit of serendipity, need a name for the archipelago, so they run outside and grab the first person they see walking by. That person is you. What do you name the islands?

The first thing that came to my mind was Francisella tularensis tularensis, the genus and species name for Rabbit Fever… Somehow I don’t think they’d do that so let’s go with Eventide Islands

Find any grocery list you’ve ever written – on a post-in note, on your phone, in the trash can. What is the third item on that list?

From my shopping list this week: Bubble Bath

Go to any mirror – doesn’t matter if there’s people around – and look at the bottom of your tongue. What is your immediate emotional reaction?

I think the bottom of a tongue looks like a link sausage.  So I guess the reaction is “no wonder people eat animal tongues”.

Let’s say you could suddenly make all the cable news stations cover animals with the same intensity they covered politics – all animals all the time! Which animal would you want them to focus exclusively on?

My favorite animal, of course, the White Siberian Tiger.

What is a random 11-letter word? I’ve already said mine – archipelago.

Hemorrhagic

I’m still not particularly happy with my computer wallpaper. What should I change it to?

napoleon bonaparte as cat

If you could only eat breakfast foods for lunch and lunch foods for breakfast, what would be your go-to breakfast? Your go-to lunch?

Well I eat breakfast food for lunch already, so does that mean I get to keep my pancakes and my eggs, bacon, and toast?  Really, why would anyone eat anything other than breakfast food anyway?

A bedbug bite forces you to have one of these the useless superpowers.
Which of the following useless superpowers would choose and why?
– The ability to make only office supplies levitate.
– The ability to be invisible – but only inside a volcano.
– The ability to, at will, swap any picture on a billboard to a pumpkin.

Make office supplies levitate, obviously!  Do you know how awesome it would be to make the supply I’m always missing simply float up in an easy-to-reach fashion?  Are your tools buried in the bottom of your drawer?  Never fear!  The Supply Finder is here to save the day again!

Do you hate your initials? If you could have any initials, what would they be and why?

Nope!  I LOVE my initials.  As the head of the TB department having the initials TB is pretty awesome.  Just think about it – I get to sign all TB paperwork as TB… It’s the little things, guys.  Let me have this.

What is the most recent gum you chewed? Extrapolate a short story of five sentences or less with that gum as a central plot mechanic.

“So you think you can continue to dispose of us, do you” the wrapper thought as he slowly crept toward the sleeping girl.  “Simply chew us until the flavor is gone and then throw us, used, beaten, and torn, into some hell-hole, never to see the light of day again?  Not this time.  Not anymore.”  And with careful delicacy the wrapper slid over the girl’s mouth while his brother slid over her nose, stifling the sound of her breathing, the red Juicy Fruit label splashed across it’s front barely visible as night closed in around her.


Now, in the spirit of answering so many questions, I won’t be writing my own or doing my own nominations.  I think that would make this post a tad too much.  So instead, let’s play a new game.  If you read this article it’s now your job to choose 10 of these questions at random and answer them on your site.  Leave me a comment and let me know where to find your responses so I can go read and enjoy the hilarity that will undoubtedly ensue!

To Thine Own Self Be True

To Thine Own Self Be True

It may be hackneyed, I know, and quite honestly, this particular phrase can be digested into a thousand meanings, both for your good and to promote selfishness…  But in spite of those facts, and possibly because Hamlet is my second-favorite Shakespeare play (any guesses which is first?), I still think this quote embodies what I want to talk about today.

To thine own self be true.  Be true to who you are, who you want to be, and what you intend for your life.  This has been the theme of my therapy sessions for the last, oh I don’t know, forever.  And guys, this is the big one, the massive post I hinted about around Thanksgiving.  The post where I finally talk about gaming, shame culture, letting go of judgement, and accepting myself.  So who wants to dive into the deepest recesses of my depression?  ooh, ooh, me!  Cool.  Let’s get going.

Once upon a time, as a child, I didn’t have a lot of friends.  It was pretty hard to be a girl who loved gaming, sports, fantasy, science, and reading and either no one could relate to me or everyone pretended they couldn’t.  Even if I finally found a new friend I’d usually wind up losing them after only a few months when they realized I was way nerdier than they were willing to put up with.  It was lonely.  It was hard.  It lasted until my senior year of high school.  And it helped me develop a desperate need to feel wanted and accepted by those around me and an absolute fear of abandonment.

Cut to years later and I still had that overwhelming need to be liked, wanted, and praised.  Because if people were praising me, liking me, wanting to be like me, and telling me that the things I did were great, then maybe that person would stick around.  And while this is not healthy behavior I was always able to keep it under control because deep down, I knew I was an achiever.  And the constant series of accomplishing tasks and goals in my job, hobbies, and personal life helped fill the gaps left by my loneliness.

But then the baby came.  All of a sudden I was 20 pounds heavier than I’d ever been in my life (and, frankly, as a very tall girl with a medium build I’d never been good on the whole “body image” front), a mother with massive new emotional and financial responsibilities, unable to find time to do the dishes or grocery shop, and without the energy to really excel at any and all projects, professionally or personally.

And at the very moment that I started to lose myself it seemed like everyone else found themselves.  It was the time when my in-laws all decided who they were going to be, where their lives were going, and somehow still had the energy to accomplish everything they wanted.  It was when my sister solidified that her calling in life is to teach others and help them learn as she raised and babysat both her little girl and my son, still finding the time to seemingly have it all together.  It was the time all my friends seemed to “grow up”.  Everyone’s Instagram feeds were full of the “socially acceptable” adventures and hobbies they’d discovered.  It was at this point that my anxiety and depression were uncontrollable by myself alone.  So I found help by seeking out a trained professional and, after digging up so much of the past and pushing so much toward the future, I think I can finally say that I know who I want to be.

While it isn’t the biggest issue I’ve faced, accepting my hobbies and my love for them have been one of the major obstacles I’ve needed to overcome.  You’ve seen the media, you’ve all been watching the news, and the idea that “gaming is bad” is a constant issue we, as gamers, have to face.  Several of the bloggers who I really admire and look up to have done posts on this recently.  One, in particular, stood out so well.

NekoJonez, some of the best emotional support you’ll ever find in a community, ranted about non-gamer’s perceptions of gamers.  When people around me started deciding who their “grown up selves” were going to be I started hearing this a lot more.  Or maybe I’d just never listened before, because I didn’t care that person X didn’t like my choice of hobbies.  When my anxiety started coming to a head I started questioning every single hobby I’d ever had.  Was it too childish?  Did I need to grow up?  Was I supposed to fit in the current culture and live life like literally everyone else on Instagram/Facebook/insert social media platform of your choice?  How could I like games and still be accepted and appreciated?  And even among gamers, how could I exclusively enjoy Nintendo and not be mocked as “childish”?

It wasn’t until my brother-in-law, an absolute saint, metaphorically sat down with me (we were on the phone), and had a long chat about the fact that he has struggled through, and come out the victor, in these exact issues that I started to feel like maybe I was going to be okay.  Maybe other’s impressions of my choices and my life didn’t matter.  Maybe loving something, even if other people don’t approve, was more important than being who I was “supposed” to be.  By sharing his advances in determining how he wanted to play games and the benefits he derived from them, and the emotional and physical support he and his wife have showered on me, I gain confidence in my own struggles with this perception of gamers and, ultimately, of myself.

It’s a tough road, guys.  There’s so much out there telling you that you’re unhealthy, lazy, wasting time, childish, promoting whatever gaming is supposed to be ruining nowadays, addicted, a part of the problem with society, missing  the fullness of life, not enough of a gamer, not the right kind of gamer, not playing the right things, etc… Whatever mean thing someone can think of, trust me, they will.  If they can shame you into feeling like you’re not good enough, hey, maybe you’ll change and validate their lifestyle.  It’s so hard not to buy into what they’re saying.  They have the support of the current societal norms on their side, after all.  How can we overcome this bombardment on our personal choices?

So, while I don’t need to go into all the gory details, let’s talk about how I’ve learned to cope with these fears and stressors.  Because ultimately, this post isn’t so I can tell you all my personal life stories.  It’s to help others who may be feeling the same fears and thoughts.  Who may be going through their own young, mid-life crisis.

There is NOTHING wrong with your hobbies.  Gaming or otherwise.  There’s nothing wrong with choosing to continue gaming, or choosing new hobbies, or heck, doing both!  Nostalgia Trigger, a fantastic blog you should definitely follow, wrote an incredible post about a year ago talking about these very things.  Gaming is a hobby, it isn’t a lifestyle.  And so is every other passion and pursuit you turn to.  Yeah, it can consume you, it can be your number one thing, but it doesn’t define who you are, what you stand for, and your value as a human being.  It’s a hobby.  And it’s just fine to fall in love with your hobby.  Everyone has them.  And no one hobby is better than another.  So accept yourself, accept your hobbies, and be happy that you’ve found things you love to do.  Not everyone has.

Just because you found something (or somethings) you’re passionate about at a young age doesn’t make them childish.  It makes you lucky.  4 out of my 5 favorite hobbies are things I adored as a child.  Gaming is one of them.  My entire family are gamers, it’s something we did as a family, something we pursued on our own, and something nearly all of us have continued as we’ve grown.  Just because it’s something I did as a child does not make it childish.  I’ve had decades of loving who I am and enjoying one of my favorite hobbies.  That’s years longer than so many people.  How lucky am I?  Decades of refining my tastes, discovering my niche, and really knowing what’s worth my time and what isn’t.  That isn’t childish, that’s maturity.

Stop the comparison, take away the judgement.  One of my biggest problems is that I judge myself incredibly harshly.  I compare and, instead of being jealous, I simply find some way of turning that comparison into a criticism of who I am/am not.  I find ways to devalue myself based on these perfect boundaries I’ve decided I have to fit inside.  Well guess what?  No one is perfect.  Which means I constantly break those boundaries and rules and, when I do, I leave myself open to me saying some of the meanest things anyone has ever said of me.  Do you have this problem?  Are you, quite literally, your harshest critic?  While it’s 1000% easier said than done, stop the criticism and take away the judgement.  Everyone makes mistakes, you face problems you can’t overcome or set-backs that completely take you away.  But instead of turning it into a rant about the horrible, terrible human being you aren’t, take away the judgement and make it about accepting you for your faults and the growth that you achieve when you fail.  No one achieved anything through perfect success.  It’s only through failure that we learn.

So what if so-and-so thinks you’re silly for gaming?  Instead of taking what they’ve said to heart simply accept any critiques that may be true and throw the rest in the garbage.  Don’t use it as fuel on your fire to be harsh and unkind to yourself.  Instead of judging ourselves on whether we spent 6 hours doing playing a game or 6 hours doing any other hobby, simply accept that you did something that brought you pure joy and move one.  Instead of allowing someone’s belief about how you should spend your time ruin your night simply brush it aside and do the things you love.  Accept that you are who you are and leave the judgement where it belongs-nowhere near you.

It’s taken me a full and solid year to finally start comprehending some of these facts.  I love video games.  I love tabletop games.  I’d rather spend every night of my week watching Overwatch League than anything else.  I’m obsessed with the Legend of Zelda and have an entire shelf of LoZ games and books to prove it.  I’m proud of the fact that one of my son’s favorite things is Mario.

It’s okay to love yourself.  It’s okay to be yourself.  You don’t have to look like person X, because you never will.  You’re not them, from your DNA to your beliefs.   So stop trying.  Just accept who you are, pants size and everything.  It’s okay to enjoy gaming.  No one person’s hobbies will ever be better than another’s.  They are a portion of all the wonderful things that make you who you are.  They shape your ability to change your world.  The world needs gamers, and hikers, and readers, and sports enthusiasts, and every other possible hobby.  Because those things help build a civilization that works.  Embrace the differences and accept yourself.  Because you are, and will always be the very best at being you.

Quick Poll and an Update

Hey, everyone! Sorry about the whole two-week-in-a-row-without-a-post thing… I’ve been trying to get one together but life keeps getting in the way. To make up for it, get ready for double recipe week! I’ll be posting two awesome recipes (and trying to get a couple in the back burner for weeks I’m swamped) this week!

And second: let’s take a poll. I’ve noticed a lot of you feel like you aren’t skilled enough to attempt these recipes. I think it would be cool to teach you, and therefore give you the confidence you need, to be skilled enough at these recipes! So I’m considering starting a twitch stream, where once a week I’d make a recipe and the instructions and details would be posted here a few days later. Thoughts? Let’s take the poll to find out! And please leave a comment or two if you have some thoughts or suggestions!

Unique Blogger Award!

Unique Blogger Award!

Alright, guys, it’s the end of the month and I haven’t posted a “Gaming Thoughts” post yet for the month of January.  So you get a blog overload this week!  But this is a fun one.  You see, NekoJonez nominated me for the Unique Blogger Award!  Yay! Fanfare, Confetti, and Balloons!  Jonez is, in all honesty, one of the nicest and most supportive bloggers out there.  And his blog is a beauty to read.  He delves deep into games to write riveting reviews and seems to always find games I’ve never heard of!  Which is a blast because it helps expand my horizons.  If you don’t already follow NekoJonez, please go do so right now and enjoy his blog as much as I do!

And now for the award.  Jonez provided we the nominees with three questions and asked us to answer them.  I thought long and hard about my responses, especially because the first question gave me so much trouble!  But I finally figured them out.

Question 1: If you were able to erase all memories from one game to be able to fully experience it again, which game would it be and why?

legend of zelda majoras mask

My first reaction to this question was Ocarina of Time.  But then my gut started to wrench and I panicked.  My childhood, my life, has been shaped by that game and my memories of playing it as a kid.  Everything about me is formed by my adoration for Link and Legend of Zelda.  And I realized I couldn’t possibly give up those memories, even for the amazing experience of getting to experience it, brand new, all over again.

But it didn’t take long to come up with the answer I do want to give: Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask.  I had been playing OoT nearly nonstop for 2 years.  When Majora’s Mask was released I was ecstatic, thrilled to play another LoZ game.  I honestly can’t remember if I bought it myself or if my parents caved and got it for me (or, more likely, “the family”).  I remember going downstairs on a Saturday morning, opening the packaging, and literally sitting there and playing through the entire game in one day.  I would stop for bathroom breaks and food but otherwise I was glued to that TV.  When I finished it I was disappointed.  I was disappointed at how easy it had been, at the fact that it had only taken me, on a first run and having never read a manual, 13 hours to beat that game.  And I’ve never played it again.

I know it’s people’s favorite game, that it has high acclaim, and a pretty strong following.  People even claim they like it more than Ocarina of Time (the heathens!).  But I have never been able to dump the sour taste my barely-twelve-year-old mind had when I finished a LoZ game that quickly.  I’m sure I was just too young to understand the depth of the story and the complexities of gameplay that mean everyone loves it so much.  And I’d love to have the ability to do it over again.  Experience it fresh.  Having thought a lot about this the last few weeks makes me think I’m going to give it another go this year and try and capture whatever I missed as a child.

Question 2: If you were allowed to help in the production of a game, which role would you take on and why? The role of producer, voice actor, writer, designer…?

budget tempate

This one’s an easy one.  Craft Services!  Right?  Game production has craft services, the amazing people who cater the film, I mean, game… set, I mean studio… Maybe not.  Blast.  Probably not.

While I wish I could say I was super creative and had amazing story ideas/musical composition abilities… I don’t.  What I do have is an incredible attention to detail, mad budgeting skills, some past experience, and an absolute love for a good spreadsheet.  And even if she didn’t know it, LaterLevels in a recent article about game production Dream Teams, pegged the exact position I would take in the production of a game: Producer.  You see, my husband is a film producer, which gives me a bit of an edge.  I know what the position is and what is needed for it.  I’m also incredibly conscientious about money and finances.  I overlook our personal budget nearly every day and, as I like to say it, “do the math” on basically any purchase or financial whim that comes in to my head.  And my scientific background really pushes me to check out the details of how a system works and ensure that all the cogs are rolling along.  So I think that’s what I’d be best at…

Question 3: What is one of the earliest video game memories?

the lion king

My earliest video game memories are of Aladdin, The Lion King, and Sonic and Knuckles on our Sega Genesis.  I would wake up at an obscenely early time on Saturdays to play one of these three games.  As a kid I remember thinking the stampede scene in The Lion King was the most difficult level on any video game ever.  We had an unfinished basement where my parents had set up a small TV with the game systems and my little brother, sister, and I would sit down there, wrapped in blankets, and play until my parents got up, realized where we were, and would force us to come up and do our chores.  Oh, to be a child again…

And now, here are the rules for the nominees:

  1. Display the award. (See above).
  2. Thank the individual(s) who have nominated you and include a link to their blog. A little promotion for their blog is also welcome.
  3. Answer the questions asked by the individual who has nominated you.
  4. Nominate an arbitrary number of bloggers and have them answer three questions you put forth to them.

Here are the questions:

  1. If you could only listen to one game soundtrack for the rest of your life, which would it be and why?  And then pick one track from that soundtrack, which would it be, and why?
  2. Pick one villain to be the main playable character in a new game series.  Which character would you pick and why?
  3. What is one dead IP or game that you’d love to see resurrected and why?

And here are the nominees:

Video Games Nebula

My Passion for Gaming

Gamers United 

Insert Memory Card

Quite frankly, it’s rough going after Jonez because he nominated a significant portion of the people I would have nominated, who then nominated nearly all the rest.  And while it’s awesome that everyone is getting a chance, it leaves me woefully unable to nominate more…  But don’t worry!  I think I found a few who have been skipped!

Comprehensive Gaming

Guys, I know this isn’t the recipe you were looking for. The holidays definitely got the better of me both physically and emotionally. And while a recipe is coming (I just have to write the post) in the meantime I wanted to share a link to an incredible in-depth look at gaming costs vs playtime vs enjoyment. This post is found on Complicate the Narrative, a blog dedicated to analyzing gaming and applying literary theory to it.

You can find the post here

It’s a long article, but guys, it’s totally worth reading.

I highly recommend chatting with the author in their comments about their experience but if you want to chat here I’ll direct him to it.

My favorite excerpt and my take-away message is this:

After forcing myself to look this closely at the time and money I spend on games, I’ve decided that in the end, the best games do only 2 things: entertain and inspire. The second a game is not doing at least one of those two things, stop. Seriously, just stop. Examine why you aren’t entertained or inspired, then watch out for those patterns in other games, and don’t play those games. Don’t buy them, don’t start them, don’t give them any more attention than they deserve.

This year I’ve really questioned gaming and whether I should, as some put it, grow out of it. I’m planning a pretty long post about overcoming my fear in regards to those sentiments soon, but this conclusion by Paul is the conclusion I’ve made. Gaming brings you joy and can inspire and teach. Find the games that make you feel that and then it’s never a waste of time!

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.