Tag Archive: review


Engage!

Yeah, yeah, been awhile. Lots happened in the last few months, nothing I really feel like going into right now, but I’m busier, happier, and doing way more now than I was a year ago.

But no, I’m here to talk about some good nerdy things, namely Star Trek (and really, how fitting on Star Wars day :P)

Netflix has allowed all of Star Trek for streaming and in my spare time, I’ve been revisiting the show. When I was growing up, Voyager was the current show on and I loved it. My mom and dad both enjoyed The Next Generation when they were first married, and I remember them citing the episode when Picard was transformed into Locutus of Borg as a favorite of theirs. I don’t remember if it was them or me who wanted to watch Voyager, but it was a favorite pastime for seven years until it ended with quite a bang.

I remembered bits and pieces from the show, high noted mostly. Holodeck sequences, Borg attacks, random alien races, and while I never knew what they were specifically, I kept saying how much fun they were, how big a part of my childhood it was, and how nice it would be to watch them again. Until Netflix, DVDs were the only way to watch them legally and they were nearly $100 perseason, thou they have since gone down.

I decided it was time to make my way through Voyager again. I had a couple seasons, but now I could watch the entire series online and in the last three months, I made my way through all of Voyager. You know what I realized from it? Just how deep it is compared to some other sci-fi that I’ve watched. I mean yes, I always knew on some level how deep Star Trek went based on how fanatical people can get over it, but the richness of the entire universe just puts others to shame. The politics, the adventures, the huge cast of characters, Star Trek manages to include so much that breathes a lot of life into the universe. Star Wars has great movies, but most other fiction that helps flesh out that universe is ancillary to the six films. I have found Star Trek that much more engaging than most other fiction right now. With Memory Alpha close at hand, I can dive deeper into information that I may want to find out about an alien race or an event and get pulled in.

Voyager rekindled a passion for Star Trek I had long lost, and now, I’m making my way through the other series. Even as I type this, I’m watching Deep Space Nine and enjoying the character of Odo or O’Brien, or finding out what the hell a Trill is. I feel like I’ve missed a huge part of nerd culture than I’m somehow just catching up to. Rewatching this also makes me miss my dad, because in some ways, he had his nerdy quirks. Im sure both he and my mom helped get me to watch Star Trek, I returned the favor years later by showing him Firefly. I’ve found a touchstone to my childhood, as well as a potentially long term enjoyment down the road.

Now if you’ll excuse me, this Quark fellow is trying to get more gold-pressed latinum.

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A Champion Has Entered The Battle…

Part of the bane of my current existence, and most of the cause of a lack of updates, has come from a sudden, painful, and passionate love affair with the game known as League of Legends.

The Sad Mummy

A lack of updates makes me sad...along with everything else.

For those of you who don’t know what the game is, League of Legends is a free-to-play game that plays somewhat like a real time strategy game. Instead of commanding vast armies, collecting resources, and overwhelming your enemies, you only have direct control over a Champion unit with powerful abilities. The goal is to destroy the enemy’s nexus, and there are turrets, minions, and enemy Champions trying to stop you. Teams of five square off to try and win, and it lends itself to some fun and interesting strategy.

This kind of game is not unique. It is based off of an old custom Warcraft III mod called Defense of the Ancients, and DotA spawned several games from itself, including League of Legends, Heroes of Newerth, and the upcoming Dota II from Valve. The really nice thing about the first two games here, LoL and HoN, is that they are free to play, which means you can check them out, and there is suspicion that Dota II will be free to play as well.

Snow archer and midget bazooka cannon against a yeti-riding maniac. Yeah...this is League...

The Champions available for you to choose are varied. From your standard fantasy characters like paladin-ish Champions, elvish-ish archers, mages, etc…the folks in charge of League have a character for everyone. A clockwork woman with a giant robotic ball. A scorpion made out of crystal. An emo mummy. A steampunk sniper. A court jester assassin. League offers a champion to fit your aesthetic flavor, and the thing I’ve noticed since I started playing is that they are all perfectly valid choices. Some might be tougher than others, but there seems to be a great sense of balance, in my experience, in keeping the characters fair. That makes me feel great, because I can pick a character that appeals to me aesthetically or mechanically, and I don’t feel like I’m penalized as a result.

As for map selection, you’re kind of stuck with one map to play on. Called Summoner’s Rift, the map is apparently a staple of this style of game. There are three lanes running across the map, and you push your enemies back along each lane to reach their nexus at the opposite corner of the map. Interestingly, playing all the time on the same map doesn’t really get boring. There’s a smaller map called Twisted Treeline, but I haven’t played on that map yet so I can’t speak to it. Additionally, Riot Games is coming out with a new gameplay mode called Dominion, more of a capture point match, and by all accounts, it looks great.

I definitely think this game is worth checking out, and with it being free, its hard to say no. You can unlock content without having to spend a single dollar if you’d like, and it allows you to try a different kind of game. I think its clear that free to play games are both here to stay and quickly reaching the quality of regular blockbuster games, and League of Legends proves it. Give it a shot, see what happens. I was terrified of this kind of game, now I can’t get enough of it.
In the interest of full disclosure, this link here is my referral code for League.
If you’d rather not use that link, I understand. This link will take you to the basic League of Legends homepage where you can sign up on your own.

Good luck! If you want to find me on League, I’m Ethereal87 on there. See you on the battlefield!

Pokemans, Life, and Zombies!

Haven’t found a topic yet I want to explore, but I must stick to my two a week (didn’t really last week!)

Playing the HELL out of Pokemon…Pearl! After completing White, my mission is now to have a complete and credited Pokedex with everything I can muster, with the exception of Legendary Event-Only Pokemon (Mew, Celebi, etc…). I tend to break this rule only for the first three generations, as I have an old Action Replay card and I allow myself to hack in the Legendaries that would otherwise be unavailable to me. Deoxys isn’t worth standing around a crowd of children playing Pokemon and looking creepy.

My Pokemans, let me show them to you.

So, I plan on devoting a lot of time to Pokemon in the near future.  Pearl -> LeafGreen -> HeartGold -> White is my preferred order.  Hopefully, I’ll have a complete Pokedex…but I may get bored and give up.  I’ve never really tried to “catch them all” though, so this would be pretty cool if it could work, and since there doesn’t seem to be anything after the Elite Four really in White (caught all the Legendaries) I’m on my own for objectives.

Life…well…yeah.  Looking for work…again.  I’m stuck right now, trying to figure out if I still want to be a teacher or if now is the time to change and do something else.  This last year has shown me a lot about teaching and now I’m not so sure I want to keep it up.  I still need to do some soul searching, but I plan on sending out some resumes and applications this week (I have my goal and with any luck, I’ll hit it).

If anyone’s interested in suggesting a possible career that an English teacher might be able to switch over to, I’m all ears.  Post it up in the comments and I’ll add it to my current list of possibilities (some silly, some not) that I’m considering.

And zombies…more of a review.  Lately, I’ve fallen hard for podcasts.  With a half-hour commute to work every day, I have 18 podcasts I listen to in a given week.  Most update weekly, some update twice a month, some update whenever the hell they feel like it, but I’d like to talk about one of my personal favorites called “We’re Alive: A Zombie Story of Survival.”  Every week, they release a new part of a chapter (three parts to a chapter) about this fictional zombie outbreak and how a group of survivors manages to live in this world.  It plays like an old radio drama, with a lot of the characters explaining things out loud to the listener because everything is audio, and the quality is top notch.

They update every Monday, with a week break in between chapters, and I look forward to it every time I know a new episode is up.  And the zombies…hoo…they are creepy!  The best comparison with the We’re Alive zombies would be Left 4 Dead’s type.  They’re fast, they’re angry, they’re attracted by noise, and *minor spoiler* they are more than just regular zombies (tanks, hunters, etc…).  I love listening to this podcast every week, and I’d recommend looking them up in iTunes or at their website.  They run a tight ship, and I would recommend at least listening to the first chapter.

Thanks for reading all over the place with my brain.  Maybe I’ll have something more…substantial for you later this week!  I might do a series of reviews (more full-on, rather than a paragraph or two) over some of my favorite or currently interesting things.  Later!

Black v. White

Civil rights discussion?  No.

Pokemon discussion?  Heck yes.

Pokemon has always held a soft spot in my heart.  Since I was in sixth grade, I have tried to play at least one game from every generation of Pokemon releases.  My copy of Pokemon White arrived today, and I’ve already put about two hours into it.  I find it insanely fun, even though it is almost identical to the past iterations of the franchise.

OK, I'm not like this......just yet.

Pokemon has always been an interesting game to play.  The idea of collecting my team and building an unstoppable forcehowever I wanted to was always appealing.  The really nice thing about White and Black is that both games manage to make the experience feel new.  You won’t encounter ANY old Pokemon until your first time through the elite trainers, which helps the new Pokemon feel interesting and fresh.

The green one knows he's better than all of you.

Some of the designs are a little silly.  I just caught a psycic pig thing that’s shaped like a kidney, but so far they’re pretty neat.  We’ll see how the rest of the game shakes out, but I would suggest that even if you haven’t played a Pokemon game in awhile, Black and White would be worth checking out.

About two years ago, I heard about the new show coming from the same guys who made The Office, which was (and still is) one of my favorite shows on TV right now.  It was called Parks and Recreation and it sounded promising.  If it could keep the same mockumentary charm that The Office was able to produce every week, I was ready to tune in every week.

And in the beginning, I did.  I kept up with it for the first four episodes of the first season, out of a total of six.  And I just didn’t like it.  Leslie Knope’s character struck me as just trying too much to be like Michael Scott.  The rest of the cast was pretty bland.  The only character worth watching on that whole show was Ron Swanson, the head of the Parks Department.  A no-nonsense libertarian trying to take down the ‘system’ of wasteful spending from the inside.  Every scene he was in, I thought it was a blast.  His no-bullshit attitude with deadpan delivery made the character for me.  Everyone else…not nearly as likeable.  As much as I liked Ron, I stopped paying attention to the show.

"I am submitting this menu from a Pawnee institution, J.J.'s Diner. Home of the world's best breakfast dish: The Four Horsemeals of the Eggporkalypse."

Jump ahead to last Thursday.  The only reason I decided to fire up P&R on the Netflix Instant Queue was mostly for background noise.  I like finding random TV shows and using them as sound while I work on other things (or, more likely, continue my work in Minecraft).  I picked the show because it was recently added as a possible show to watch, and I figured it would do the job while I waited for something else, that I was really interested in to show up on the Instant Queue.  Season 1 was rough to go through, but I made it.  It still had a lot of the, “Oh jeez.  Really?  This is funny?” kind of moments I remembered from a few years ago.  Season 2, however, took Season 1 out behind the barn and shot it dead.  I can’t quite explain what made the second season so appealing, but I was cracking up.  I think they were able to pull the show away from being just “The Office but with parks” and Parks and Recreation finally found their own two legs to stand on.  They still keep some of the same cues, but it manages to be different and hilarious.  The Office had a similar transition, where Season 1 wasn’t that great, but Season 2 managed to step it up.

"Guys love it when you can show them you're better than they are at something they love."

Since starting this trip back through the show, I’m caught up and ready for the new episode on the 17th.  I go through TV shows on Netflix rather fast, but when I can watch an entire show’s run (or up through their most recent episode) in a weekend and change, that’s a show worth recommending.  I can’t stress how much fun Parks and Recreation is and I urge everyone to check it out if at all possible.  I may do similar write-ups for other shows I discover on Netflix, but here’s a nice short list of TV shows I’ve burned through and loved every moment of…

~Better Off Ted

~Sanctuary

~Undercover Boss

~30 Rock

~The IT Crowd

~Doctor Who

~Eureka

~Pushing Daisies

~Fullmetal Alchemist

~Man vs. Food


Take a chance on your Netflix queue, even if you’re not 100% sure.  You never know what amazing show you might discover.