Thirty Years On

Back in the hoary days of 1985, a game was released that was, originally, designed to be a Wizardry-killer, it quickly turned into a mammoth beast in its own right, even if it didn't have nearly as many sequels.  This game is, of course, Tales of the Unknown: The Bard's Tale.  Over the years, it spawned two sequels, a spin-off, and recently, a successfully crowd-funded fourth entry.

But we're not here to talk about that.

We're here to talk... Remaster!


Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Yeah, I decided to skip the cute title.

So, I saw the new Star Wars movie, and like everyone else on the internet, I happen to Have Opinions about it.  I'll keep things spoiler-free up front and then move on to specific spoiler stuff later.  The very brief review is: I liked it.  I'm not entirely sure where it fits on the list of movies, it'll probably land squarely at 4th.  It's not as good as original trilogy, but it's better than the prequels, better than Force Awakens, and certainly better than Rogue One.  So... yeah, I guess it's fourth.

No, I'm being serious here.  I think much of the hate is more fan anger than anything.  It did things differently, so it's bad.  I think it's fair to remember that not all reviews of Empire Strikes Back were especially glowing at the time.  I think time will tell here and it'll settle into its place.  The zeitgeist for Force Awakens seems to have downgraded its quality and appeal, and I think time will elevate Last Jedi.


Five Sides of the Same Coin

Some random shower thoughts about the current situation that we're... enjoying.

Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are both symptoms of the same problem going on the country.  I mean, seriously, the 2016 election was nearly a contest between an orange-faced blowhard and an 800 year old socialist muppet.  In fact, the only reason that wasn't the case was because of side three of our coin: Jimmy Carter.


Rolling With the Tides

So, I've logged about three or so hours in Torment: Tides of Numenera, so I figured that's enough to present a review.  That's how this works, right?

More seriously, this is the kind of thing you don't want to spoil, so reviewing early seems reasonable.  I can't really spoil anything because I don't know much of anything yet anyway.

The fact that I'm caring about spoilers should say something.  Normally, I don't care, but this is one of those times where it feels like it matters.  Not necessarily for the plot, but because of the setting.

Yes, the setting.  Numenera is a weird place.  It's a bajillion years in the future, in the so-called "Ninth World".  Each "world" is like an era of mankind.  Mankind rises and then falls and then a new "world" happens.  From our 21st century perspective, we might be on the second or third world now, right?  Fall of Rome, World Wars one and two?  Something like that?  Nope.  We may not even be the first world yet. 

Yeah, we're talking huge gulfs of time here.


Please Don't Tell...

I'm a sucker for superhero books.  Not, like, DC or Marvel, mind, but the kind of weird superhero book of oddball characters.  Like, say, girls who animate plushies, or a supervillain who can't get it right, or even the considerably darker Soon I Will Be Invincible.  Hell, the pulp noir of Larry Correia's Grimnoir Chronicles scratches the same itch.

I've found that books like these are wellsprings of creativity.  In Velveteen, McGuire was able to explore the idea of what would happen to society if super powers existed (and the political ramifications thereof) while having fun creating ridiculous power sets.  Bernheimer's D-List series is a little less serious and has more fun with power sets, but it still deals with how the government would react, especially in the third book.  Grossman's Invincible was far more cynical in its dissection of the superheroing world.  Regardless, I love all these books for different reasons and in different ways.  Needless to say, when Curiosity Quills sent me a notification that Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Super Villain was available for free on Kindle, I all but tripped over myself making sure I snagged a copy.

And then I bought and read Please Don't Tell My Parents I Blew Up The Moon and Please Don't Tell My Parents I Have Henchmen.  Yes, I can be a little obsessed with this weird little genre.


Welcome, Tenno

Having let my Final Fantasy 14 subscription lapse, and seeing as how I've got about 3 months of Pool of Radiance videos left to be posted, I've been whiling away my life playing Digital Extremes' free to play MMO Warframe.  You may not have heard of Digital Extremes, but they're responsible for one of the forgotten gems of gaming: the ridiculously fantastic Dark Sector.  While I'm at it, Dark Sector is also available on Steam, and you should probably buy it.  It's an over-the-shoulder shooter type game.  You can upgrade weapons and kill horrible mutants in it.  I haven't played my copy in a long time, but it's a really fun game.  Oh, and there's another reason you should play Dark Sector: your primary weapon is a glaive.  Just like Corwin in Krull.  Except that, unlike Corwin, you actually use the damn thing.  Sure, it's slowly killing you and turning you into some kind of horrible mutant, but still.  Come on man.  Glaive.

Anyway, we're not here for my rambling, I'm here to talk about Warframe.

Warframe takes place some time in the far future.  There's plenty of lore that you can unlock and learn as you progress, and it's interesting, but I've only a passing familiarity with it.  What comes across right at the outset is that you're a race known as the Tenno.  Essentially, you're a space ninja.  You're even wearing split toe shoes.  You can even flip out and kill people with a sword.  The game trucks along nicely, giving you plenty of options for gather materials and experience (er, "affinity") while also giving you a questline to follow that unlocks more stuff for you to see and do.  There's a nice balance between faffing about and nose-to-the-grindstone quest work.


Yup. Star Wars.

Spoiler-free section:

Yeah, so Star Wars came out a little while ago, and I finally got around to seeing it.  Yes, it was only a week, with with all the hype and all the talk, it feels like I waited an eternity to see the thing.  Needless to say, this was a Very Big Deal.  But you knew that.

Frankly, that degree of hype is dangerous for anything, be it movie, television show, book, what have you.  The greater the hype, the harder it is to avoid crushing disappointment.  Even a good, or fantastic, or great movie can feel like a letdown if it doesn't reach the lofty goals expected of it.  A friend of mine experienced that with Dark City.  It didn't live up to what he was expecting, so we walked out of the theater with him feeling disappointed, even though it's an excellent movie.  It truly is.  You should go watch it, actually.  Get the Director's Cut if you can.  That doesn't have an opening voice-over full of titanic spoilers.

But, back on topic.  Star Wars: The Force Awakens (henceforth TFA) actually manages to live up to its hype.  And yes, I was hyped and looking forward to this.  I was six when Return of the Jedi came out, and I have vivid memories of seeing it in the theater.  Sure, it was the worst of the originals, but that's still going to have a huge impact to the mind and imagination of a six year old.  Unsurprisingly, I became a huge Star Wars fan, and have remained a fan, even as I've grown old, bitter, and curmudgeonly.

That magic hope was still there when I spent two hours standing in the middle of a line-turned-mob as we waited for the re-release of A New Hope in 1997.  That opening fanfare and text crawl sent a chill down my spine as I watched A New Hope on the big screen like it was meant to be.  Sadly, the Special Edition was mostly just a bunch of worthless trash added to clutter a perfectly fine movie, but you take the memories you can get.  It didn't quite reach the hype, but as a link to something I couldn't have witnessed, it was still magical.  Not magical enough to wait in line forever for the Empire or Return re-release, but I still saw them in the theater.

Skip ahead a bit more and we have Phantom Menace.  Again, my hopes were up.  How could they not be?  New Star Wars!  And the trailers looked great!  And... well... we know how that turned out.

So I waited a week for TFA.  Now I kind of wish I hadn't.  It was really that good.  From the opening text crawl to the end.  This is how you make a new Star Wars film, George.  This is everything the prequels should have been.  George Lucas may have invented Star Wars, but JJ Abrams clearly understands what it means to the fans more than Lucas does.