I have been playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Whimsical Weekend #16)

…and I must admit that I’ve become quite obsessed.

Back in early August, I caved in and bought a Nintendo Switch bundle pack with Breath of the Wild (including DLC) and, ever since August 18 when I unpacked everything, I haven’t spent a single day without playing the game. (It is currently the only game I have for Nintendo Switch, but I might consider getting Puyo Puyo Tetris, and I definitely plan on getting Super Mario Odyssey.)

After 70 total hours of playing, my current progress is as follows:

  • All Divine Beasts freed
  • Full Stamina Wheel
  • 12 Hearts
  • 83 Shrines
  • 105 Koroks
  • 12 Main Quests
  • 23 Shrine Quests
  • 30 Side Quests
  • All Sheikah Slate runes, completely upgraded
  • All Towers activated
  • 4 Memories (out of the main 12)
  • 45 Hyrule Compendium entries
    • 20 Creatures
    • 16 Monsters
    • 5 Materials
    • 2 Equipment
    • 2 Treasure
  • 3 Great Fairies

In all this, I have and will, above all else, try not seek any help online. Granted, I did look up that there are 120 Shrines, 900 (!!!) Koroks, 15 Main Quests, 42 Shrine Quests, and 76 Side Quests…but simple quantities like that are acceptable in my book.

Despite that I got DLC with the bundle pack, I plan not to indulge in any of it until I’ve beaten the game normally, and I won’t beat the game normally until I feel fully prepared to do so (i.e., once I feel like I’ve discovered enough areas on the map, or at least recovered the remaining 8 memories and pulled out the Master Sword (in that order)).

Anyway, it’s been quite an adventure, honestly. If I had to describe the game in just a few words, I would describe it as an Elder Scrolls + Skyward Sword hybrid. That is to say, it has all the open-world goodness of an Elder Scrolls game, with bundles of aesthetics and mechanics reminiscent of Skyward Sword.

Not only that, but the puzzles within the shrines and such are brilliantly designed to require plenty of brain power (as in, not much hand-holding here) while not quite being on the echelon of a dedicated puzzle game. That said, I recall having trouble with more than a few portions of the game. Before I go on, though, note henceforth that when I say “I had to,” I actually mean “I felt like I had to.” Just think of it as an abridgement, really. Anyway, so…what exactly I struggled with:

  • Fighting a Guardian for the first time (in Great Plateau, with no ancient weapons or anything like that)
  • Surviving the path to Zora’s Domain for the first time
  • Fighting a Lynel for the first time
  • Immobilizing Vah Ruta without missing any shots (I thought this was mandatory at first)
  • In Sha Warvo Shrine (the one near Flight Range, along the path of the Vah Medoh quest), it took me way too long to realize that the penultimate platform block had an opening concealed from the view of the fan before it.
  • In my first fight against a Talus, I only used arrows and Lizal boomerangs, being blissfully unaware of the possibility that I could simply climb up on that enemy (when the time is right, of course) and go ham on its weak spot.
  • The Yiga Clan Hideout took me three tries to sneak through. Everything past the second guard is a huge pain, like a ridiculous jump in difficulty compared to the beginning. On the third try, I had to avoid everything except the Mighty Banana stash. As in, from the closest opening to the stash, I paraglided all the way to the final stretch, having to creep around the suspecting final guard. It was a struggle at first, believe me…but the final result felt so easy, despite feeling a bit wrong.
  • Climbing one of the towers (the one with the ancient sentries and the Pools of Malice) was a pain, and so was even finding Gerudo Tower (let alone without traversing the desert).
  • All those “Major Test” Shrines (and even a Savage Lynel that killed me) on the path of searching for Gerudo Tower
  • The two upper terminals of Vah Naboris were a humungous pain to get to. All I could think to do was haphazardly shoot arrows through whatever openings I could find near the Pools of Malice, and I eventually managed to find and destroy one of the eyes blocking my way.
  • Getting through Lost Woods—particularly the second part, where you have to follow the embers of a lit fire to get to the end
  • Facing intense cold and heat for the first time
    • In the case of intense cold, I didn’t know that Rito Armor existed until after doing the midair arrow shot training, so I had to keep a Torch with me at all times…until the training, during which I had to fight the bitter cold.
    • Intense heat was much tougher to deal with. I can’t imagine the intended way of going through it, but I went all the way to the southern mine of Eldin, making sure to keep healthy by way of healing items, Mipha’s Grace, and the hot spring near the southern mine…and then hunting down 10 Fireproof Lizards to complete the quest for the fireproof armor. (Side note: I tried to take a picture of one to take advantage of Sheikah Sensor +, but I learned the hard way that taking damage forcibly takes you out of camera mode.)
  • Wrapping my head around how the Goron cannons work, specifically that you have to hit the lever with an equipped weapon to get the cannons to turn
  • I used up 2 Ancient Arrows during the attack on Vah Rudania. On the path to the second cannon, I didn’t really think outside the box and ended up having to fire at two sentries that were giving me a hard time. The path to the third cannon was also quite a handful, but that was when I realized that the path to Vah Rudania is designed with a way to take out the sentries without engaging them in direct combat.
  • Rock Octoroks and phase 2 of Fireblight Ganon have a particular trait in common: They suck in their surroundings, and they fire a projectile that deals ridiculous damage. In the case of Rock Octoroks, I had to fire a precisely timed arrow between the interval of when they spit the projectile and when they hide in the ground. In the case of Fireblight Ganon, there was nothing else I could do. That was when I realized: If a monster sucks things in, simply feed it a Remote Bomb! Since then, needless to say, Rock Octoroks have become much easier to deal with.
  • Fighting the Igneo Talus on the isolated platform surrounded by lava (that thing knocked me into the lava so many times before I figured out how to fight it…)

So, those are things that I struggled with but ended up prevailing over. And even now, I still have some mysteries on the back burner:

  • The fourth Great Fairy
  • The Keo Ruug Shrine riddle
  • The Eighth Heroine (I plan to not fully explore Gerudo Desert until I complete this quest…however I do it)
  • Savage Lynels with clubs (seriously, I can literally only get a flurry opportunity from one of those attacks…)
  • How to snipe the eyes of the thunder and fire dragons, like sniping the eye of the freeze dragon after liberating it from the calamity

To end this off, I’ll try to think of particular things that I like and dislike about the game.

Pros:

  • Nods to other games in the series
    • The Divine Beast names
      • Vah Ruta is named after Ruto, the Water Sage of Ocarina of Time
      • Vah Rudania is named after Darunia (literally an anagram), the Fire Sage of OoT
      • Vah Naboris is named after Nabooru (and Urbosa even says that in the cutscene after freeing the Divine Beast), the Spirit Sage of OoT
      • Vah Medoh is named after Medli, the Earth Sage (is that even the proper term…?) of Wind Waker
    • Part of the Rito Village theme is remixed from the Dragon Roost Island theme of Wind Waker
    • Locations like the Linebeck and Mercay Islands (Phantom Hourglass), as well as Darunia Lake (OoT again)
    • Kass plays Epona’s Song (from OoT) on accordion when at a stable
  • The minigame music (that plays during the climbing challenge, footrace, and such) and Talus battle music are particularly catchy
  • Champion powers can be really helpful, especially Mipha’s Grace and Daruk’s Protection (that sort of mechanic is reminiscent of Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, now that I think about it…)
  • Sidon is a cheesy yet somehow likable character, and baby Zora and Rito are adorable.
  • Stuff that I’ve already mentioned

Cons (take these with a grain of salt; I freaking love this game):

  • Random undead and Chuchus are pesky (especially when I try to sneak up on some random enemy or group of enemies)
  • Rain hinders climbing to a crippling degree
  • They removed Beetle’s signature “THANK YOU!!!” from Wind Waker…and now his most notable line is “Saa, saa!” (which is essentially Japanese talk for urging Link to buy/sell something)
  • That freaking blood moon… Well, that in itself isn’t too bad, considering it makes Lynel and Hinox drops significantly easier to hunt for, but it irritates me that the same old dag-blasted cutscene plays every single time after the first blood moon, and you have to press X and + to skip it. I mean, what’s so important about seeing it any more than once?
  • If you approach a Divine Beast while it’s preparing its attack on Ganon, the game moves you to one set point nearby. …Why not just have Link turn back and take a few steps, similarly to how the boat in Wind Waker makes a U-turn if you hit the edge of the map?

For now, this is the best that I can use words to express my admiration for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Next time I talk about this will probably be when I complete the game to a satisfactory degree.

 À la prochaine! (Until next time!)

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Brain Food #1 (Whimsical Weekend #15)

 Yo. Let it be known that I stayed up late trying to get this done, even though I spread my effort throughout the week instead of the usual protocol of saving it all until the last minute.

This week, I will be introducing a new series for this blog. It’s called Brain Food, and the premise is that I will ask myself a silly question on my mind and, of course, answer it.

The question of the weekend is…

If I had to make a Super Mario 64 ROM hack but could only change the music, how would I change it?

(For those unfamiliar with the term “ROM hack,” refer to http://sm64hacks.com/thread-992.html)

Now, I’m not here to discredit the original music of Super Mario 64 (on the contrary, I would describe it as timeless), and I don’t actually plan to do what the question entails. This is entirely hypothetical, and purely for enjoyment.

For the individual music changes, I will cover as many different areas/events as I can, including areas that are different but have the same music normally (e.g., Bob-Omb Battlefield and Whomp’s Fortress), but excluding the title screen, courtyard, credits theme, and non-looping jingles (which are 100% okay as is). I’ll also try to use as few Mario games as I can, but no promises about Nintendo games.

File select

Puzzles (Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney)

Hmm… Which file should I select? What am I getting myself into? These sorts of questions and perhaps more are what surfaces on the mind during file selection. Thus, a serene tune that nicely complements thinking is the best fit for the file select screen.

Peach’s Castle

ACDC Town theme (MegaMan Battle Network 3)

Peach’s Castle can best be described as a hub world of sorts, where most of everything else is located. Such also describes ACDC Town in the Battle Network series, and the theme in question has the same sort of upbeat yet welcoming charm that befits Peach’s Castle.

“Why 3 in particular?” you may ask, and that is because 3 was the game that introduced me to the Battle Network series and has the most memorable ACDC theme of the Battle Network games I’ve played.

Bob-Omb Battlefield

Pop Star (Kirby 64)

Bob-Omb Battlefield is the first world (like Pop Star in Kirby 64), is filled with round creatures (Bob-Ombs), and introduces the wonkiness of the game. No doubt in my mind that Kirby 64’s Pop Star theme would be a great match.

Miniboss battle

That Person’s Name Is (Bravely Default)

This theme applies to King Bob-Omb, Whomp King, Eyerok, and Wiggler. I was tempted to come up with a custom theme for each one, but on the basis that Super Mario Star Road only has one type of miniboss theme, I decided to discard that idea.

Quite honestly, this is one of the most memorable battle themes that I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. In my experience with Bravely Default, it’s the sort of tune that made me want to keep playing to the end, for better or for worse. (It may not be applied to that many situations in this case, but that doesn’t matter.)

Koopa race

Boss Battle II (Diddy Kong Racing)

Nothing says “I’m in a heated race with this eccentric creature” quite like the good ol’ Diddy Kong Racing boss theme. It’s always been a catchy tune, and it fits well with the Koopa races in Bob-Omb Battlefield and Tiny Huge Island.

Whomp’s Fortress

Crystal Fortress (They Might Be Giants w/ Strong Bad)

Kind of a joke this time. The “Fortress” part is the main justification of it.

Homestar Runner was a memorable part of my childhood, and nowadays I have occasional nostalgic cravings to satisfy (mainly along the lines of “What was that one toon/sbemail with [insert phrase/event here]?”), and following homestar_ebooks on Twitter is part of the reason for that.

Sleeping Piranha Plant theme

Eternity’s Moment (Bravely Default)

This music is surprisingly catchy, yet it fits the theme of an unsuspecting sleeper, like an undisturbed Piranha Plant in Whomp’s Fortress. Not much more to say there.

Cool Cool Mountain

Snowpoint City (Pokémon Diamond/Pearl/Platinum)

Fits the essence of an entry-level area blanketed with snow. Snowpoint City is, after all, the first residential area in the Pokémon games to canonically feature any sort of snow. Quite fitting for Cool Cool Mountain.

Inside the cottage (CCM)

Icirrus City (Pokémon Black/White)

And this tune fits the atmosphere of being in a snowy area but being sheltered enough to where you can play around unhindered. It’s also hype enough to go well with racing a penguin.

What I didn’t realize is that there are apparently two versions of the Icirrus theme: with and without percussion. Back when I played Pokémon Black, I didn’t really pay much attention to how the music tracks—let alone that of Icirrus City—varied among seasons, but I’m guessing the track without percussion is associated with winter (because it’s more fitting that way).

Aquarium secret

Underwater (Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald)

What better tune to describe fumbling around in an aquarium than the underwater theme of Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald, widely known (or at least to me) as the theme of fumbling around underwater to try to figure out how to progress the story past Tate&Liza? Ah, good times in both situations.

Jolly Roger Bay

Gloomy Galleon (Donkey Kong 64)

Both Jolly Roger Bay and Gloomy Galleon are water levels, ship-related levels, and even the fourth level in their respective games. No better match here, I’d say.

Because the ship in Jolly Roger Bay has its own loading zone, I would give it separate music, namely the Ship Ruins rendition of the theme.

Big Boo’s Haunt

Pumpkin Hill (Sonic Adventure 2)

“I ain’t gonna let it get to me; I’m just gonna creep.” Granted Big Boo’s Haunt doesn’t really have any pumpkins, the spookiness of it matches with the spooky vibe of the Pumpkin Hill theme.

Sonic Adventure 2 (Battle for GameCube) was another one of my childhood games, as well as the first Sonic game that I remember fondly.

Merry-go-round (BBH)

You in Wonderland (Persona Q)

Merry-go-rounds are fun…but not when they’re invaded by spooky creatures. Just like how Persona Q worlds (particularly You in Wonderland) always tend to have some sort of uncanny aspect with their theme. As in, the theme in question conveys some sort of fun, albeit a demented sort of fun…if that makes sense.

Peach slide

Beach Street (MegaMan Battle Network 3)

In the spirit of my decision to associate the ACDC Town theme with Peach’s Castle, I figured that the Beach Street theme can be considered a sort of upbeat and playful theme. Appropriate for playing around on a slide and trying to get some sort of record time.

Wing Cap / shell theme

Waterskip Slider (Amazing Island)

The feeling of being able to move around in a whole different, more majestic way. That sort of feeling is conveyed well in the Waterskip Slider theme of Amazing Island.

Under normal circumstances, the theme accompanies a minigame where monsters build up speed by running across a large ramp, jump at the end of a ramp, and skip across the water so as to achieve a record distance.

And, conveniently, the aspects of gaining air and staying above the water’s surface are also characteristic of the Wing Cap and shell, respectively.

Wing Cap stage

Gentle Breeze (Trauma Center DS 2)

You don’t hear much of the normal music in the Wing Cap stage, and when you do, you’re most likely falling into the sky-colored abyss or stranded on the island containing the switch, so I figured: “Why not just go with a meme song?” The song also works because it has “breeze” in the title, and the stage in question is in the sky.

Bowser in the Dark World

Liberation Mission (MegaMan Battle Network 5)

The premise of liberation missions in MegaMan Battle Network 5 boils down to clearing darkness from a treacherous area. That’s how it first seems when searching for Bowser in the Dark World: “I’m gonna defeat Bowser and be done with this!” Yet in reality, the story of MMBN5 doesn’t end with a liberation mission…nor does Super Mario 64 end when you enter a warp pipe.

Simply put, the tune is for a place of darkness and treachery, but far from the finale.

vs. Bowser 1

Boss Theme (MegaMan Battle Network 5)

Once again in the spirit of my previous decision, this music plays more than a few times in the main story of MMBN5, and mostly when fighting the boss of a liberation mission. Just putting two and two together, plain and simple.

Hazy Maze Cave

Forgotten Forest (Phoenotopia)

Hazy Maze Cave and Forgotten Forest are not nearly at the same relative progress point in their respective games, but the two areas have two key aspects in common: (1) It’s easy to get lost, and (2) getting lost may result in death. That’s what led to the association here.

Oh, and both areas can be skipped in their respective games.

Metal Cap theme

Because It’s Midnite (Limozeen)

“Bringin’ the metal back to where it belongs!” I don’t know if this song is really metal (and I always have a hard time distinguishing musical genres), but I really couldn’t think of anything else.

Metal Cap stage

We Don’t Really Even Care about You (sloshy)

In the spirit of saying “in the spirit of” my previous decision, I figured it would be funny if the Metal Cap timer were to expire in the Metal Cap stage and leave a totally non-metal track in its wake. Because, guess what? They are related.

Lethal Lava Land

Hot Damned (Super Meat Boy)

The intensity of Super Meat Boy music doesn’t exactly fit with the lightness of Super Mario 64…except when you can’t help feeling like the music isn’t intense enough. Such is the case with Lethal Lava Land. I mean, the place is chock-full of destructive fire everywhere, yet the music there is the same as in a freaking desert (which, let’s be honest, isn’t nearly as intense).

With that in mind, wouldn’t the music of the Hell world of Super Meat Boy be appropriate?

Inside the volcano (LLL)

Devil N’ Bass (Super Meat Boy)

In the…volcano is even more intense, and thus could use more intense music than the outside. Also, the BGM is associated with Dark Hell, which makes sense in conjunction with the previous choice because the volcano is not as exposed to light as the rest of Lethal Lava Land.

Shifting Sand Land

Pecan Sands (Wario World)

Like Hazy Maze Cave, Shifting Sand Land is far from the final level, and yet somehow is befitting of the final level music of some other game. Pecan Sands can’t be skipped in Wario World, but the music associated with it is intense and desert-like enough to work in this situation.

Inside the pyramid (SSL)

Relic Castle (Pokémon Black/White)

Hey, look, a music choice of an interior area that has nothing to do with the music choice of the exterior area! It may not be quite as intense as the exterior music, but it honestly fits exploring the interior of a sand-infested pyramid where lots of falling is bound to happen.

Dire Dire Docks

Battle for Storm Hill (Donkey Kong Jungle Beat)

Okay…maybe this might be a bit too intense, but my thought process was that Dire Dire Docks is somehow Bowser’s territory, considering how there’s a Bowser-branded submarine (at least for the first star) and an accompanying hatch leading goodness-knows-where, and so it’s kinda like the Battle for Dire Dire Docks…if that makes sense.

Simply put, the music is rather appropriate for the first star, but perhaps a bit too intense for the others.

Vanish Cap music

You Can’t See Me (John Cena theme)

Painfully obvious, but I love the theme and the meme.

Vanish Cap stage

Stage Builder (Super Smash Bros. Brawl)

All I could think was that the Vanish Cap stage had so much unused space…even in the DS remake. That said, you can’t completely remake the Vanish Cap stage in the Brawl Stage Builder (or any Smash Stage Builder for that matter), although some elements look like they can (notably the platforming just before the blue switch).

Bowser in the Fire Sea

Magmatic Magnetics (Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 2)

The loop provided cuts off awkwardly (e.g. at 2:29), but at least it gets the point across, that being that the area accompanied by the music is fiery and has a boss up ahead. (In the case of Re;Birth 2, it’s the place where you fight the grunt villains for the last time (at least in Normal End).)

This song is one of the coolest dungeon themes in what I’ve played of the Hyperdimension Neptunia series (which, granted, isn’t much), and I especially like the double bass towards the middle of the loop.

vs. Bowser 2

One Two Three (Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1)

From the same series, but not from the same game. I mean, I have to say as a whole that Re;Birth 2 took a step down from Re;Birth 1 in terms of music selection, but perhaps that’s mostly because of the poor audio balancing in Re;Birth 2. (Most noticeably, few if any tracks in the game can rival the loudness of the world map theme.)

Anyway, from what I’ve played of the series, One Two Three has to be the best track of all (and one of my favorite battle themes of all time), and it plays when you fight a low-tier dangerous enemy (at least in Re;Birth 1). Kind of a fitting description for Bowser 2, despite that he has a trick up his sleeve compared to Bowser 1.

Snowman’s Land

Arcterra Theme #2 (Metroid Prime Hunters)

When the snow area gets more intense, you can bet that a theme of intergalactic exploration would be more fitting than a theme of some peaceful town, even if both are covered in snow. There’s also arguably more treachery in Snowman’s Land, what with the violently windy breath of the giant snowman, the blanket of ice that somehow has the same effect on Mario as a pit of lava, and the water that drains HP faster and provides no healing.

Inside the igloo (SL)

Land of Immortality (Bravely Default)

This theme plays in a snowy town full of magic-operated machinery that keeps everyone healthy. The igloo in Snowman’s Land may not be that extreme, but igloos have a protective enough design to promote lifespan to some degree. So, I guess it works?

Wet Dry World

On our way / City in the sky (Dokapon Kingdom)

This one is kinda hard to explain. There’s some kind of magic in raising the water level (as there is magic in Dokapon Kingdom), there’s a town in the depths of the area, and the backdrop is…kinda weird for what the level is supposed to be. Weird thing meets weird thing, and they end up like peas in a pod. That’s how it is in every case, really.

Tall Tall Mountain

Justice RIP (Fire Emblem Fates)

Conquering a mountain is a bit like conquering the army of a sunrise land, hence the association here. The music chosen is one of the more intense tracks of the game, and Tall Tall Mountain is one of the last five levels of Super Mario 64, so the association makes sense in multiple ways.

Secret slide (TTM)

Ninjape Rally (Donkey Kong Jungle Beat)

If you’ve seen all the slides in Super Mario 64 (granted there aren’t many), this would most likely be the last. Thus, it’s only appropriate for the associated track to have some sense of finality, being the last character race of Donkey Kong Jungle Beat (and in the final kingdom, no less). There is also a bit of sliding involved in the aforementioned race.

Moreover, the secret slide in Tall Tall Mountain is arguably more tricky than Peach’s slide; although there is no time limit for the former, such is more than made up for with the forked path and quarter pipes.

Tiny Huge Island

Conquest (Fire Emblem Awakening)

Exploring two parallel worlds of different sizes is a grand undertaking. It almost seems like taking on random treachery in an otherwise peaceful area where exploration is obligatory. That’s the kind of feeling that ties this music with this area, I think.

Wiggler’s cavern (THI)

Infiltrating Hostile Territory (Bravely Default)

I’m sure anyone would consider it hostile if there were some giant worm wriggling around and making a scene with its anger. And also, getting the red coins in here is no simple feat, considering the varied heights and surface areas of the platforms within, combined with that gruesome abyss at the bottom.

Moreover, one Bravely Default track transitioning into another sounds like a plan, right?

Cloud secret

City in the Sky (The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess)

Like the Wing Cap stage, you won’t be spending very long in here without the Wing Cap, so might as well not do much with the music, right? Also, City in the Sky is one of the later dungeons of Twilight Princess and…well, like the cloud secret, takes place in the sky.

Tick Tock Clock

Clock Tower (Donkey Kong Jungle Beat)

It was between this and the Ancheim theme of Bravely Default, but I figured the latter was too desert-y, whereas the Clock Tower music of Jungle Beat would be perfect for the occasion of scaling a treacherous, daunting, and tower-like clock…if you can even call it a clock. (It definitely is in the case of Jungle Beat, but I don’t know so much about Super Mario 64.)

Rainbow Ride

Cloudy Heights (Donkey Kong Jungle Beat)

Both settings share one main trait: If you mess up one little thing, it will most likely cost you dearly. While Rainbow Ride involves grabbing stars with elegance, Cloudy Heights is where you get a massive heap of bananas (I’m talking at least 3000 if done correctly) or cry trying. Basically, they both bring a sort of exotic difficulty to the table as opposed to the rest of the levels in their respective games.

Endless stairs

The Song That Doesn’t End (from Lamb Chop)

Do I even need to explain this? (I don’t know the song all that well, but I’ve heard/seen references to it when I was young.)

Bowser in the Sky

Ripple Star (Kirby 64)

It’s dark, and it has a grand sense of finality. What more to say?

vs. Bowser 3

Grand Finale (Mario and Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story)

Okay, when I said I’d try to use as few Mario games as I can…this is the one Mario game that I will use. (Well, it’s a Mario & Luigi game if you want to split hairs, but that’s still Mario if you ask me.) Regardless, the final boss music of Bowser’s Inside Story is really upbeat and intense—perfectly suitable for any sort of final fight involving Bowser.

 

Well, I hope this turned out to be an okay first installment of Brain Food, in spite of how rushed it ended up being as a whole.

 À la prochaine! (Until next time!)

At a standstill 2 (Whimsical Weekend #14)

It kinda pains me to be doing this when my last “At a standstill” post was Whimsical Weekend #12, but once again, I just don’t have any particular writing topic in mind right now. I did mention freelance coding before, and I’ve been really into it as of late, especially considering I can see the light at the end of the metaphorical tunnel. That and the regular work routine are making it difficult to think about anything else.

I would like to briefly touch upon a few things, though. First off, I take back what I said about the Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth series; I’d rather cover all three installments en masse after all. (I also plan to re-watch the anime afterwards, because that was a blur to me the first time I watched it.) I mean, I decided to start playing Re;Birth 2 last month and managed to achieve the Normal Ending (rather anticlimactically, I must say), and there seems to be a lot more ground to cover for the remaining endings, what with the Shares and Lily Ranks and such. For now, I will say that Re;Birth 2 took a step down from Re;Birth 1 overall, but I won’t explain why in full detail.

Second, about the same time I started Re;Birth 2, I actually bought the secondary story (Conquest) for my copy of Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright, considering the advent of newer Fire Emblem games and that I haven’t gotten the most out of the Fates series yet. But dang, man, I’m sixteen chapters into Conquest on Hard mode, and I have to say that the difference between Birthright and Conquest is the difference between Super Weenie Hut Jr.’s and the Salty Spittoon. (Shoutouts to SpongeBob.)

And finally, I’m thinking that I should later get around to speedrunning Phoenotopia more seriously. My mindset as of late has been: “Wait until a golden opportunity to stream,” but now that I think about it, that’s a terrible mindset to have. I mean, I set my expectations too high when I stream, only to be disappointed when I end it off at an inevitably early time because I can’t get a run past Bandits’ Lair due to my rust. Coupling that with the fact that I get few opportunities to stream in the first place (considering I still live with my parents, and I don’t know when would be a good time to change that), I now realize that I’m probably better off just recording offline instead. And yes, I do still plan to improve my times, even in any% and 100%. (For both categories, I recently devised new strats that I don’t plan to discuss right now. Also, my times in All Moonstones and All Medals could definitely stand to be more optimized, the more I look back at them.)

So, um…that’s about it.

 À la prochaine! (Until next time!)

Fantasy story follow-up (Whimsical “Weekend” #13)

 Yo.

It’s been more than half a year since I first talked about that one fantasy harem series (Cinq du Soleil) that I’ve been working on in my spare time. And somehow, over the past week or so, it’s been on my mind more than anything else I’ve been doing lately.

I mean, I said at one point that I wasn’t going to do a follow-up until I finished the story, but that was before I realized a vital limitation of Google Docs: As the number of pages in a document increases beyond 100, the document also becomes increasingly laggy. I went up to Chapter 7 (if I recall correctly) on a single document, but it was when I finally got fed up with the lag that I decided to start splitting the chapters into groups to be placed in separate documents. That is to say, the document I linked in the first post now only contains introductory content and Chapters 1-5, and I also have a document for Chapters 6-9 (simple but obligatory joke intended) and a to-be-determined set of chapters from 10.

Introductory content + Chapters 1-5

Chapters 6-9

I don’t have as much to say at this point as I did in the introductory post, but…

  • Since completing Chapter 1, I’ve had the tendency to end chapters only when the main characters sleep. I’ve also desired to add more concepts and characters to the story, which basically led to the later chapters getting longer. To put that into perspective, the first document is 87 pages long, while the second document is 101 pages long.
    • Heck, when I first wrote Chapter 9, I went all out on it. I recall Chapters 6-9 collectively being over 110 pages excluding interludes, and Chapter 9 alone accounted for a whopping 42 of those pages. It didn’t take long for me to split the chapter into two pieces: the first one (Chapter 9) being 25 pages, and the second (Chapter 10) being 17 pages.
  • I decided to add an “Interlude” section to the end of every chapter. This idea came about when I realized, before the information updates of Chapter 2, that there was a short aside conversation between Yue and Toru (which was, at the time, the first three lines of the current interlude of that chapter), and I hadn’t really considered making a similar thing for other chapters. Only sometimes (like the case of the interlude before I implemented interludes) do the interludes clarify otherwise unknown or incomprehensible aspects of the plot, but others of times they’re just purely for the heck of it.
  • In a similar vein to the “Information updates” sections, I recently decided that I would initiate later chapter documents with earlier chapter summaries (for instance, the 6-9 document has a summary for Chapters 1-5).
  • The next point is not only a spoiler of Cinq du Soleil Chapter 5, but also of Volume 12 of the Mondaiji light novel, so I shall hide it with white text in brackets. Highlight at your own risk. [In Cinq du Soleil, I included a plot twist that Dealer is Yue’s thought-to-be-dead sister (Diana Panishi). In the Mondaiji light novel, it is revealed that the character Faceless is Asuka’s thought-to-be-dead sister (Ayato Kudō). (I mean, Faceless isn’t portrayed as masculine, but that’s beside the point.) The thing is, though, I wrote that Dealer was Yue’s sister before I read that Faceless was Asuka’s sister, even though Mondaiji Volume 12 was published before I even started Cinq du Soleil. Coincidence? I think so.]
  • Dealer’s Treasure name was changed from “Trump” to “Lucky Draw”, to avoid confusion with the current President of the United States. I came up with the initial name more than two years ago, but it wasn’t until recently that I decided to change the name.
  • I had to make another shoutout to good ol’ Kili Surtr Muspelheim. In Chapter 7, Will, the Chief Elemental of Spirit, performs magic attacks by snapping his fingers, like how Kili does in the Fafnir anime.
  • I might have to say that Chapter 8 has been the hardest to write so far, particularly the beach visit and the aftermath thereof. It might be because I’m the type to care more about game-like concepts and plot points than how the characters interact from a casual standpoint.
  • It’s never like I’m totally finished with the chapters I’ve already done. Sometimes I can’t help scrutinizing my metaphorical footprints and, if something seems even a bit off, correct it accordingly.

I think that’s all I have to say for now. I’ve definitely been having fun with this story as I intended to, even if I struggle to find inspiration from time to time. As for the next set of chapters, I’ve gone up to 12 and done a tiny bit of 13 (currently on page 63 of the next document), although I’m thinking there are a few revisions to be made there, and I can’t make any promises regarding how close exactly I am to declaring that set as completed.

Speaking of not making promises, I wonder how long I’ll continue the story as a whole…

 À la prochaine! (Until next time!)

At a standstill (Whimsical Weekend #12)

Yeah…I’m not even ashamed to be posting this on Monday midnight. The truth is, I haven’t been motivated at all to come up with a proper post over the course of these two weeks. I’ve just been going through the standard routine of going to work every weekday and using my leisure time to indulge in whatever forms of entertainment may tickle my fancy. In particular, watching Twitch streams while doing some freelance coding is what I’ve been into lately. (Whom I watch depends mostly on the time of day, but twitch.tv/360chrism is definitely the stream where I hang out most.)

I suppose, if there’s anything I would have felt like writing about if I had taken more time to think, it’s Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1. Part of me wanted to save such talk until after completing the entire Re;Birth series, but later on I thought, “Well, it was recently that I decided that I had played the first installment to my heart’s content, so…” Wait, actually, I was considering optimizing the equipment of at least my main party members (Blanc, Noire, Vert, Ram, Neptune, and Nepgear), and I never really got around to that, so perhaps delaying that sort of talk is for the best.

I was also considering talking about the Conceptis Block-a-Pix app now that it’s recently come out on Android (I don’t have an iOS device), but there’s not much to talk about, considering I’ve done an entire analysis on the form of puzzle in question, so I’ll just say here what little I have to about the app. My main beef with it is: If you create a box around a number, the area of that box can exceed the number of tiles required by that number, whereas the site applet has a constraint for that. Second, in greater puzzle sizes on smaller screens (e.g., 30*45 on an 854*480 screen), it’s hard to tell ‘6’s from ‘8’s. The second one is not of dire importance and definitely not an easy fix (considering it’s the standard Conceptis font), but I’m hoping the first one gets fixed in a future update.

I guess that’s all for now.

 À la prochaine! (Until next time!)

…Hopefully I’ll actually have a substantial post by then…

Flash Game Speed Marathon: My marathon debut (Whimsical Weekend #11)

Two months ago, I talked about submitting for Memeathon X, specifically with an unofficial category of Phoenotopia that I call “69 HP RTA,” but my submission didn’t make it into the marathon.

Fortunately, not long before the end of March (I don’t remember the exact date), I happened upon a more esoteric submission form posted by Twitch user LaserTrap_ in the 360chrism Community Discord. That form was for a marathon initially named “Flash Games Done Quick,” but they had to change the name mid-marathon because “Games Done Quick” is trademarked. Regardless, considering that a vast majority of the games that I currently speedrun are Flash games, of course this marathon would be the perfect fit for me. So, I submitted Phoenotopia 100%, Rock Bottom All Levels, and Chompy All Levels; and I ended up being one of only seven runners in the marathon (including LaserTrap_).

It was my first time doing live commentary while speedrunning (granted I rehearsed a bit beforehand), but I’d say it went over pretty well. Highlights can be viewed below:

Phoenotopia [100%] in 1:47:16 — https://www.twitch.tv/videos/137592161

Rock Bottom [All Levels] in 7:53 — https://www.twitch.tv/videos/137592857

Chompy [All Levels] in 6:22 — https://www.twitch.tv/videos/137593444

(Other highlights of the marathon can be found at https://www.twitch.tv/lasertrap_/videos/highlights)

Because I rehearsed so little, it goes without saying that there was at least a little rust involved in all my runs. Prior to the week before the beginning of the marathon, it had been six months since my last Phoenotopia 100% WR (1:44:08), five months since my last Chompy WR (5:09), and three months since my last Rock Bottom WR (6:17).

Since the games that I ran are so fast-paced (well, not so much Phoenotopia, but still), I can’t remember off the top of my head where exactly I messed up in each run, but I do recall that I unfortunately didn’t get the 1-minute skip in level 14 of Rock Bottom. Also, apparently my keyboard doesn’t like me pressing down, right, and Numpad 0 at the same time, so I had a tiny bit of difficulty starting the timer for Chompy.

Another thing: I’m not used to talking in general, so running my mouth for practically two straight hours caused my voice to hurt over the weekend. Thankfully, though, it was nothing major.

Bottom line: I dragged myself into a change of pace by becoming part of an esoteric marathon, and the highlights linked above are the results.

 

 À la prochaine! (Until next time!)

Juuou Mujin no Fafnir? (Whimsical Weekend #10)

Still technically a weekend because I haven’t had work since Friday 

Juuou Mujin no Fafnir (alternatively known as Unlimited Fafnir, henceforth referred to simply as Fafnir) is a fantasy harem light novel series written by Tsukasa (ツカサ) and adapted into an anime for the winter 2015 season. I have already talked about the anime once before, but because I am currently reading through the light novel and have also rewatched the anime, I decided that I would go back and provide further detail, be it through rephrasing or adding on to what has already been said.

Back when the anime started airing, I was the type of guy who could (and would) chase breezes when it comes to anime series; I would pay no heed to clichés or minor animation faults or anything like that. Even though I had already watched Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance, which is very similar in terms of execution (in the beginning if nothing else), I somehow decided that Fafnir was worth my attention. That, plainly and simply, was how I got into it.

The lore of Fafnir is centered around gargantuan beasts known as dragons (which are not quite comparable to the types of dragons normally depicted in mythical stories) and humans with dragon marks who are sometimes sought to become mates of the dragons (i.e., transformed into dragons themselves). The humans with dragon marks, who are also characterized by their ability to generate dark matter (a substance that can be molded into a different material by the user’s imagination), are called ‘D’s (with no connection to male genitalia, mind you), and the main character, Yuu Mononobe, happens to be the only male who fits this criterion. Initially a part of NIFL, a military organization meant for dealing with dragon disasters, he starts off having been transferred to Midgard, an island meant for housing an educational institute for ‘D’s, and becomes acquainted with the other ‘D’s who are all female. In particular, Yuu is assigned to the Brynhildr Class and becomes comrades with:

  • Mitsuki Mononobe, his foster sister
  • Iris Freyja, the first person whom he met on Midgard
  • Lisa Highwalker, a blonde tsundere who initially disapproves of him
  • Firill Crest, a (mostly) emotionless avid reader
  • Ariella Lu, a brown-haired tomboy
  • Ren Miyazawa, a red-haired laptop girl of few words
  • Tia Lightning, a transfer student (introduced later in the series) who starts off under the impression that she is a dragon and his wife (she is called Tear in some translations, but I prefer the name Tia because it’s more of a real name (I’ve never heard of “Tear” being a name outside of fiction) and, as mentioned in the light novel, is short for Tiamat (which is dragon-related))

However, Yuu finds himself different from the other ‘D’s not only in his gender, but also in his combat experience. While ‘D’s are usually trained for dealing with dragons, Yuu is initially only experienced in man-to-man combat. Fortunately, Yuu has a dragon living inside him (“Green” Yggdrasil) that provides weaponry for the destruction of other dragons in exchange for his memories. It does get the job done, but with the drawback of hindering his relationship with Mitsuki.

Throughout the story, it is made clear that decisions are to be made when a dragon attacks. The best case scenario would be to eliminate the dragon, but such is much easier said than done. Because dragons are such threats, the characters are occasionally stuck contemplating between two options: (1) killing the ‘D’ whose mark has changed color, or (2) letting that ‘D’ transform into a copy of the dragon in question. They obviously stand and fight to the end, but they always take care to prepare for the worst case scenario.

Anyway, I’d say that about covers it for basic plot elements. So, I mentioned how I got into the series, and the next step would be to talk about how it has managed to keep my attention for so long. The way I was the first time I watched through the anime, it was not hard for a series like this to do such a thing. However, a less common phenomenon is for such a series to leave a legacy even after I finish watching the anime. I would say that this series is nothing special…that is, if not for the existence of one particular character: Kili Surtr Muspelheim. Yes, she is the one depicted in the third panel of the image at the beginning of this post.

Kili starts off as a terrorist responsible for the death of Tia’s parents and the creation of Tia’s two horns, and she appears to Lisa (and is soon encountered by Yuu) in an attempt to kidnap Tia and force her to live as a dragon. In spite of her villainy, however, she is surprisingly attractive (especially with that long black hair), voiced wonderfully by Marina Inoue (who also voices Yozora in Haganai), and has some amazing super powers centered around the conversion of dark matter into thermal energy.

Through her mind alone, Kili can create fire and explosive dark matter, and she can melt material such as bullets and guns. She was confronted at one point by a direct attack from Lisa, but she deflected it as if it were nothing. As if that wasn’t enough, she is capable of biogenic transmutation, which allows her to take on any appearance she pleases, notably that of her mild-mannered alter ego [Honoka Tachikawa] (who actually becomes friends with Yuu [and, in the anime, the rest of the Brynhildr Class] before revealing her true identity), and even to heal her own wounds (a quirk that is sadly not seen in the anime). She can also do this biogenic transmutation to other people, which is how Tia got her horns. How is this all possible? In volume 4 of the light novel, it is explained [that she is made of dark matter]. (See those brackets? They indicate spoilers. Highlight the white text within at your own risk.)

So…yeah. The first five episodes of Fafnir were not all that interesting, but then when Kili made her first major appearance in the second half of episode 6, I was left thinking something along the lines of, “Wow…what an amazing character,” and then I became more invested in the anime as I continued watching (hence the image at the beginning of this post). The time between her disappearance at the beginning of episode 7 and the unveiling of her disguise at the end of episode 11 made me increasingly anxious as it passed by, but the finale was well worth it. Her final fight with Yuu made her seem like a pushover (especially considering how close she was to having her way in episode 6), but…well, that’s to be expected. I mean, the battle couldn’t be dragged out any longer because there were still some loose ends to tie up, especially the attack on “Red” Basilisk and the aftermath thereof. I mean, I will admit that it’s a bit disappointing, but hey, that’s just the way it is.

Primary thoughts on the anime as a whole:

  • The story was decent. I particularly liked how the conclusion played out and how the characters were affected.
  • While the nomenclature of ‘D’s is questionable and might turn off some (if not most) critics, I wasn’t the type to care about that sort of thing, and I’m still not.
  • I had no strong feelings about the music or visuals. The theme songs were meh.
  • The characters as a whole were…above average, I’d say. Tia was bleh, Iris was meh, Loki (NIFL representative, formerly Yuu’s commanding officer) and Lisa were okay, Charlotte (the principal of Midgard) was good, Firill and Mitsuki were decent, Yuu was great, Kili was awesome, and everyone else was darn near forgettable (although Ren stood out the most amongst the forgettable characters).

Needless to say, since the first time watching, Kili gradually ended up becoming one of my favorite anime characters of all time. As such, when I was reading through the Mondaiji light novel, I figured that Fafnir would be next on the list, especially since I had read some dissonant information on a certain character profile of Kili. I did mention that the Fafnir anime is an adaptation of the light novel, and it’s specifically based on the first three volumes, although with a few notable differences. There is also a manga adaptation of the light novel, although from what I’ve read of the manga (i.e., only a few chapters), it seems to follow the light novel more closely than the anime.

To summarize the light novel a bit, it’s a story told mostly from the first-person perspective of Yuu, although some parts are from the perspective of Mitsuki, and there are even a few third-person parts as well. As such, not only does the light novel explain and describe more than can be fit into twelve episodes of anime, but the first-person aspect of the light novel makes it so the character’s thoughts and senses are more vividly communicated. Additionally, as mentioned before, volumes 1-3 of the light novel differ in canon from the anime, not to mention the light novel canon carries on much longer (and, consequently, goes further beyond face value).

The main difference in canon lies in how Kili impacts the Brynhildr Class and is kept in check by Yuu. Specifically, Kili, who is initially taken into Midgard as her alter ego, reveals her true identity in the middle of volume 2 of the light novel, which corresponds to the middle of episode 6 of the anime. In the anime, however, she doesn’t reveal her identity until the end of episode 11, which would be more around the middle of volume 3 of the light novel. To elaborate, it’s almost as if the close encounter with Kili in the light novel was split into two moments in the anime: the encounter at Midgard where she appeared to Tia and Lisa as her criminal self, and the encounter on that one ship where she posed as her alter ego and unveiled her disguise. I say “almost” because the anime doesn’t perfectly simulate Kili’s battle tactics as described in the light novel. In particular, the light novel implies that Kili does not require any preparatory motion to generate dark matter and such; but in the anime, the explosions caused by her are heralded by a snap of her fingers. I would assume that this is partly for dramatic effect, and partly because implementing spontaneous combustion would look silly and be tough to find a way to explain. Even aside from that, the clash in the light novel is so much more fierce than the split clashes in the anime that I would go as far as to say that the split clashes collectively are an abridged version of the full clash. (Another case of the “light novel adaptation curse,” as I would like to call it.)

[As a side note, I mentioned in my primary review that I had trouble wrapping my head around the dual identity of Honoka Tachikawa and Kili Surtr Muspelheim, because the anime was rather vague about it. Having read the light novel, however, I’ve come to the conclusion that…well, actually, both are fake names. She needed a normal-sounding name to infiltrate Midgard, and she gave her havoc-wreaking form a more sinister moniker. Well, that’s how I see it, because the light novel is pretty vague about it as well, albeit less so. (Just before the full clash, Kili said that the name “Kili Surtr Muspelheim” was randomly chosen, and I’m thinking “Honoka Tachikawa” is in the same boat. She also said she liked the latter name, but Yuu refused to call her by that name when she revealed her identity, so she stuck with the former name.)] (Sorry, just had to belt out a lengthy spoiler. Once again, highlight at your own risk.)

Also worth noting is that during the Basilisk arc, when the Brynhildr Class relaxes at a hot spring, only Firill sees Yuu there in the anime, whereas in the light novel, Tia is involved as well. Oh, and I’d like to point out that Ren actually says more in the anime than in volumes 1-3 of the light novel (which makes sense, considering her only form of verbal communication in the light novel is “んん” (“Nn,” basically just a grunt) until volume 6, and the anime doesn’t go nearly that far). Wait, one more thing: Kili has purple eyes in the anime, while colored depictions of her in the light novel show her with green eyes.

As for volumes 4 and onward, needless to say, there is plenty of new content compared to volumes 1-3 / the anime: new dragons, new characters, new plot twists, new character development, new camaraderie, new lore, and did I mention the plot twists? What’s particularly great is being able to see the characters in a new light, even in such a way that I ended up convinced that all of them are awesome in their own right (even Iris and Tia, of whom I was not a huge fan when I watched the anime). With that in mind, I wanted to establish a new character ranking of the Brynhildr Class, including the four characters who are newly inducted as members thereof. (I won’t spoil any further than that Kili is one of those characters, so the other three will be hidden through the magic of white text.)

  1. Kili
  2. Ren
  3. [Vritra (given the pseudonym “Ritra”)]
  4. Yuu
  5. Ariella
  6. Firill
  7. Mitsuki
  8. [Shion Zwei Shinomiya (Kraken Zwei subdued)]
  9. Tia
  10. [Jeanne Hortensia (enrolled as Shion’s guardian)]
  11. Lisa
  12. Iris

With all that said, I think it’s time to wrap things up. To recap, Juuou Mujin no Fafnir is a fantasy harem series that I undoubtedly would not have found all too interesting if not for Kili Surtr Muspelheim. But alas, after having fully watched the anime when it aired, I got interested to the point of reading the first 12 volumes of the light novel and even rewatching the anime. Speaking of which, over the course of the rewatch, I have to admit that I noticed some animation faults that my former self didn’t care about: Firill mysteriously disappearing in episode 7, Lisa occasionally having Iris’s hair color when shown at a distance, and that Basilisk’s head skin looks like an unfinished Blender project.

But anyway, if this series is unfamiliar to anyone, I can totally understand that, because on the surface it totally looks like the type of series to be lost in a sea of fantasy harem series. I also wouldn’t openly recommend the series to anyone, but if anyone is somehow interested, all I have to say is:

 

 À la prochaine! (Until next time!)