Another week has gone by where I have not completed any real writing exercises. I did spend some time researching and reading, however. Some of the literature I read ties into my writing more so than the rest of it. As I share with you my thoughts on these stories, you will find a good mix. As always, the star ratings simply represent how much I enjoyed the books, and are not meant to be some true “objective” critique as to the quality of the writing involved.
Archive for the ‘Media Recommendations’ Category
Pool of Radiance is a role-playing video game developed and published by Strategic Simulations, Inc (SSI) in 1988. It was the first adaptation of TSR’s Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) fantasy role-playing game for home computers, becoming the first episode in a four-part series of D&D computer adventure games. The other games in the “Gold Box” series used the game engine pioneered in Pool of Radiance, as did later D&D titles such as the Neverwinter Nights online game. Pool of Radiance takes place in the Forgotten Realms fantasy setting, with the action centered in and around the port city of Phlan. (Wikipedia) (more…)
As a fan of more traditional RPGs (especially turn based) and strategy games, I often have to turn to retro gaming for my kicks. Out of the dozens (if not hundreds) of games I saw on display during this year’s E3 conference, I only spotted three turn based RPGs, and one sad, mobile strategy game. Back 10-20 years ago, one could not walk down the shelves without hitting a dozen titles that fit these genres.
Daughter of Dragons
The Legacy of Dragons, Book 1
By: Jack Campbell
Narrated by: MacLeod Andrews
Audio Length: 11 hrs and 27 mins
Release date: 02-14-17
I do not recall clearly, but I believe I picked this audio book up on a super sale for $1.99 or so. The premise reads,
The world of Dematr had been locked unchanging for centuries by the Great Guilds, most people living in a world of oil lamps, crossbows, and horse cavalry, the Mechanics reserving to themselves the technology for steam locomotives, rifles, and far-talkers while the Mages treated all others as if they were nothing – until Master Mechanic Mari, dragon slayer and pirate queen, and Master of Mages Alain raised the army of the new day to free their world.
Kira of Pacta Servanda, the daughter of the two greatest heroes of her world, was six years old the day she stood on a battlement in Dorcastle, staring up at a statue of her mother while surrounded by bodyguards who fenced Kira off from the nearby crowds. As the morning sun cast the shadow of Mari’s statue over Kira, she realized that she would spend the rest of her life in that shade. Then the world of Dematr learned that a new kind of ship had left the far-distant world of Urth. The ship would take only 10 years to cover the immense distances between stars. Of all the colony worlds, the ship was coming to Dematr. But for what purpose? Kira was 16 when the ship from Urth arrived, and she discovered that her world still needed heroes.
Upon reading the premise, I worried that the plot would consist of moan worthy cliches. I was pleasantly surprised. While Kira, the main character, has angsty, parent-hating moments that you expect from these types of stories, they are tempered by moments when she demonstrates respect for her parents. For me, this made it easier for me to relate to her (and kept me from stopping half way through!). Unfortunately, the plot does involve a budding love interest for her, full of some of the same ol’ one would expect, but the action keeps these from taking center stage for too long.
The above would certainly not push me to recommend this book, but it has three things going for it. First, the original setting draws you in. Dematr has mechanics and wizards in a medieval / steampunk like era… and figuring out how that works and their history becomes part of the fun. Yet, without spoiling too much, how the world got started, and their connection with the ship, proves more interesting. Second, I really liked the antagonist, and how the final confrontation resolves. This evil woman represents the worst of humanity’s greed, and gives the reader motivation to see if and how she’s gets what she wants, or her due. Finally, I really enjoyed the pacing of the book. It jumped into the action and did not let go until the end. A few slow scenes throughout provided a needed respite from the action, but it never drug on too long. I also found it refreshing to read a book that painted parents, and the family relationship, in a positive light.
I can easily recommend this book to lovers of fantasy, sci-fi, and family friendly stories. Mind you, I understand that life is not always peaches and cream. And, I enjoy a down to earth, dark story from time to time. However, I also read books as a form of escape, to imagine better things, and this book does a great job of that… and wraps it all in an exciting journey. 4/5 stars.
When some do retro-reviews, they attempt to view through the lends of that time. Given that I played games as they came out in every decade since the 80’s, I certainly have the qualifications to give that perspective. Ultimately, however, when I rate older games, the bottom line for me is “Did I have fun? Do I want to play this game until the end? Do I want to play it again?” (more…)
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate Review
MRPG for the N3DS Entertainment System
Salutations! For #MRPGMarch this year, I ran with Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate for the New Nintendo 3DS system. With everyone (myself included) finishing up with Monster Hunter World, I searched for my next, big challenge. And BOY, did I find it.
MH4U starts you off with a basic character creator, and the same 14 weapon choice you will find in MHW. The weapons feel pretty balanced and while some lack the fluidity I got used to, others feel nearly exactly the same. I really enjoyed how many of the environments encourage you to use multiple levels, walls, jumps from ledges and more to tackle your foes. The combat system completely does the job well here. On my New 3DS, I always had a smooth 30 FPS, and the controls always felt spot on.
The star of any Monster Hunter are the monsters, and MH4U features them in spades. While you can find a few weak entries here, most feel original, and some will utterly surprise. One ice creature, in particular, always shocks players with a particular attack the first time they see it. I really enjoyed listening to my friend’s reactions there. As you would expect, these creatures fight viciously, holding nothing back, and putting you on your toes.
With parts from creatures and other materials you find around the world you create new weapons, armors, potions, consumables and more. While these systems lack some of the quality of life improvements found in the PS4 game, requiring help from Google more times than not, that only slightly diminished the joy of creating a new shiny gunlance from a recently downed Tigrex.
Of course, there are SOME irritations. The tutorials are anemic, contributing to more googling. Thankfully, there are not only great web pages more than up to the task, but awesome YouTube videos on everything from boss strategies to weapon combos. Environments you hunt in are broken down into smaller, arena size rooms. Whenever you hit an exit, even on accident, it can rip you out of the action, taking away some of the thrill of the fight. Conversely, it DOES make a strategic retreat tactic when the aforementioned Tigrex closes in for the final swipe. Finally, controls feel a bit unorthodox, and take a bit of time to get used to. However, friends who played MHW informed me that they got on board with this older scheme within an hour or so.
MH4U takes most of what you love about MHW, and cranks it up to 12. With more monsters, more quests, deeper combining system, and more, there’s a lot to like here. Obviously, graphics cannot compare, and monster lack the epic interactions you find in the more modern iteration. With that said, So much of what makes MHW fun came right from this game. Having all of that in the palm of your hand just blows the mind. I cannot recommend this game enough. I have yet to finish the game, even with 80 hours in. With that said, my current score is COMPLETE IT!!!
April is #ARPGApril – American RPGs! And for that I choose….
I know… how does Jade Empire qualify for ARPGApril? Easy! It’s made by Bioware, a Canadian (North American) company! Game ON!