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!

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.

A strong, female playable character in Legend of Zelda

A strong, female playable character in Legend of Zelda

I wish more video games had strong female leads.  Having said that, I’m definitely not one of those people who needs a strong female to take over every male role.  In the immortal words of George R R Martin “To me being a feminist is about treating men and women the same” (Salter, The Telegraph, 2013).  There should be, and needs to be, a balance.  There are games that should be about male characters, and that’s okay!  And there are games that should be about female characters, and that’s also okay!

 

What I don’t like is the trend of taking a male character, turning them into a female character, and calling it “good enough”.  We don’t need yet another female who reminds us more of our brother than ourselves.  What we need is a character who is a woman who was meant to be a woman.  With that in mind, I don’t need Link to be a girl.  I need Link to continue to be a boy (because he so obviously is) and I need a game from Zelda’s point of view.

Zelda is already the strong, intelligent, awesome female character we need in the Legend of Zelda series.  She is brave, always fighting alongside Link, like she does as Sheik or Tetra.  She is fleshed out, created as a person with thoughts, opinions, and struggles, as is so poignantly brought home in the memories of Link in Breath of the Wild.  And, more importantly, she’s been there from the beginning.  This is not some character Nintendo would create out of nothing to prove to the public that they, too, care about women.  This would be a way for them to show that, from the beginning, they have cared about women.  It would be a way to prove that, just because their main hero in this series is male, it doesn’t mean they had a completely chauvinistic point of view.  I mean, these are the people who created Zelda’s Adventure, one of the few older games I have played from a female’s perspective!

And not only is Zelda already created, expanded, and real to the story, but she already has an amazing super power – the triforce of wisdom.  How easy would it be to make more difficult, challenging puzzles focusing on the idea that Zelda has to use her triforce of wisdom to defeat them?  Instead of the regularly-encountered boss, why not bosses with a big twist, requiring some serious forethought and skills to defeat them?

Don’t you guys agree that the absolute best remastered version of Ocarina of Time would be to include the original mode from Link’s point of view and a newly released mode from Zelda aka Sheik’s point of view?  It’s not like she sat around doing nothing for 7 years while Link was sealed away!  So what awesome shenanigans did she save Hyrule from?  Or to have a new Skyward Sword utilizing her very particular role at the temples, with new maps, puzzles, and her own set of bosses?

So, in my opinion, we don’t need a new female, playable character in the Zelda series.  We don’t even (in fact, please don’t!) need to make Link into a girl.  Nintendo just needs to jump on the idea they’ve already started and use the amazing character they already have. Let’s make a new Legend of Zelda about Zelda.

So what do you guys think?  Don’t be afraid to weigh in!  I’d love to hear your opinions.

Speedrunning and Distractions From It

img_4865

Once upon a time, during the Awesome Games Done Quick January event, my husband told me he watched someone speedrun Arkham City.  First of all, I had no idea what AGDQ was.  But more importantly, I had no idea what speedrunning was.

“What?! Speedrunning?” you say.  “But, Teri Mae, speedrunning has been around forever.  How could you possibly have not heard of it until January?  And not just any January, but January of 2017?!”  And maybe, you say to yourself, she’s just an exaggerator and she knew about it but had never looked into it.  To that I respond no, I had literally never heard of speedrunning until exactly 6 months ago.  How does a serious gamer go this long without knowing about something so integral and awesome as speedrunning, you may wonder?   I’m not really a social media kind of girl.  I wasn’t interested in Twitch and I was pretty limited to my online multi-player gaming.  And by limited I mean sometimes, when my husband has to go do something, I’ll take over his Uncharted or Battlefront match.  But other than that I stuck to what I knew and loved – Legend of Zelda and Mario.

But the idea of speedrunning opened up an entirely new and exciting vista of possibilities to me!  I decided to see how fast I could play my very favorite, Ocarina of Time.  After all, I thought, I am pretty good at Zelda games.  I have every puzzle memorized and had, what I thought at the time, a pretty good algorithm for time management.  So, without knowing anything about what actual speedrunning looks like, I timed myself playing it.  Wanna know what my time was?  8 hours, 29 minutes, 57 seconds.  I thought that was decent.  With only one major mistake while beating Ganondorf I was impressed with myself and I bragged to the only person who really knew what was going on, my little brother.  So he, in true little brother fashion, decided to break my heart and crush my soul.

He sent me a YouTube video of the twitch stream in which DannyB21892 makes his world record-breaking glitchless run.  3 hours something minutes (he has since broken that record so I’m unsure of the exact minutes).  I was stunned when I saw the time.  And then I started actually watching it.  I had no idea how much effort and thought had gone into figuring out work-arounds, precise paths, and which items to skip and which were necessary.  I learned that I was WAY out of my league.  But it just made me that much more determined to learn speedrunning.  To get into the muck and be the very best.  Like no one ever was.  Despite this new enthusiasm and wanting to dive in headfirst, I hesitated.

While I think it would be the coolest thing ever to beat every single glitchless OoT world record and be a serious contender to DannyB21892’s obvious dominance in that arena, I am nervous about playing my favorite game to the point where it becomes a bit passé.  I still loved taking my time and pausing to hear the music.  But the longer I think about it the more I realize that I don’t exactly enjoy wandering and exploring anymore.  Maybe speedrunning is the next step to leveling up my game.  And I still might do it.  Just not right now…  Because right when I had decided to make that commitment and jump in Breath of the Wild was released.

Now, I still maintain that OoT is my absolute favorite Zelda, but Breath of the Wild is stunning.  I have had WAY more fun playing that game than I originally anticipated.  I’ve always been a pretty thorough person so I explore every single new tower area 100% before I move on to the next one.  And the only quests I leave undone are the ones that require me to go to an unexplored area.  I’ve only been playing for about 210+ hours so I’ve only explored about 60% of the map.  The thing that just keeps blowing me away is that I have 250 korok seeds.  What am I missing that, having explored half the map, I don’t even have half the korok seeds possible?  How does that even work?  When the DLC releases the new mask am I really going to go back and re-explore every area to find them all?  You bet I am.  I even considered using the official guide to find them all but I’m an independent woman who wants to figure things out herself… while using perfectly legitimate add-ons like masks…

But back on topic.  Where were we anyway?  Oh, right!  Breath of the Wild and why I won’t start speedrunning until much later in the year.  Or maybe starting next year.  It’s really hard to find time to do much of anything when all you want to do is bake and play Breath of the Wild.  So will I be starting a speedrunning twitch?  Definitely.  Will it be soon?  Definitely not.  Will I probably start streaming Breath of the Wild and cooking tutorials for this blog?  More than likely.  Is that something people would be interested in?  I sure hope so!  Leave your comments below and let me know what you think.