DS Backlog: Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies & tLoZ: A Link Between Worlds

So with my time away from home, I’ve been able to work on my game backlog for my DS. It’s been a great experience so far, and I’ve gotten the two games done I’ve had on my list the longest.

Here are my thoughts.

Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies

Property of CapCom

Property of CapCom

If you’re unfamiliar with the Phoenix Wright games, then there’s going to be a lot of information to absorb before playing this game. Building on the (ludicrous) story from the previous games, Dual Destinies really pushes the crazy envelope. Between one case involving japanese demons, and another where your courtroom explodes, you run the full gamut. As per usual the characters offer most of the craziness available in the game. Honestly, going into any details about the many characters would be futile: after playing, I couldn’t tell the gonzo apart.

But, if you’re a fan of anime, which I’m normally not, then this will be pretty normal for you. The protagonists are still relatable and hilarious, though playing as Phoenix Wright again after so long felt really odd.

When I think about it, playing might be the wrong word though. Fans of the series, myself included, will more likely describe it as an interactive manga. Unlike TellTale Games and their games which feature choices (or the illusion thereof), the game’s story is linear. It’s your job to make the right choices to advance. However, figuring out some of the choices can be difficult. It’s resolving those issues in the court cases that make the game so satisfying, and the music does an excellent job of reinforcing a correct choice. I did feel like the game made it a bit more obvious this time around, but maybe I’m just catching on to how the Phoenix Wright stories work out.

The new look, revamped music, new cases, and bananas characters all pale in comparison to the best change compared to earlier games: the streamlined investigation. The most stale parts of the earlier games involved running around like a headless chicken trying to figure out what in the world you are trying to click on, then showing the right evidence to the right people. Not a single person I know likes those parts, and it was a relief to see them smoothed out the way they did in Dual Destinies. A sticking point for some old fashioned folks might be that the game holds your hand too much during the investigations, but I have two words for that.

Screw investigations. Seriously, the court sections were the best parts, and being able to get the story and evidence you want out of the investigations without all the pointless and frustrating running around is awesome!

As a final bonus, the game brings back some references and older characters from early in the series… and hints at even more of the same in a sequel. For instance (SPOILER?), Pearl makes a return, and there are heavy hints that Maya might come back. In addition, the mechanics unique to each character you play, such as Phoenix’s Magatama, Apollo’s Bracelet, and now Athena’s Widget combine together to make an interesting game dynamic. I wish there were more off all three of the mechanics, and that they weren’t AS scripted.

Which brings me to my biggest downside: the courtroom was really not difficult. I would really have appreciated more complex and interesting evidence: but it was rare that I had to really look thoroughly through the court record to find what I was looking for.

Overall, anyone that liked the previous games would still love it, as I did. If you wanted to get started playing Phoenix Wright games though, do NOT start with this one. Seriously, go back to the first one. It’s still my favourite, and you really do need to know the story so far before you pick up the latest one.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

Property of Nintendo

Property of Nintendo

I love this game.

There are no ifs, ands, or buts. I haven’t loved adventuring this much in ever. Let’s go over why.

1. Renting items. In the beginning, you have no items as per the usual. So to get items, you go through dungeons in a listed order and get the items you need to advance… yeah, never mind that crap, just rent them.

Seriously, this was off-putting at first, but in hindsight was one of the best decisions I’ve seen Nintendo make. Instead of having to do Dungeon A first and Dungeon B second, I could rent the gear I wanted to and just… go out. Explore. I had access to EVERYTHING from the start, meaning I could choose to go places and have a blast. So long as I didn’t die (and I only died 2 times throughout the whole game), those items were as good as mine. Eventually you can get to a point where you buy them for good, and it’s not hard to do. Just adventuring around, you get a LOT of rupees in this game, so renting and buying isn’t too hard to do. Heck, I had FUN doing it. That’s the point right?

2. MUSIC SO GOOD IT MAKES MY FACE GO SLACK You think I am kidding. I am not. Everything that you know and love has been re-orchestrated beautifully. I love tLoZ music a TONNE, and this game didn’t disappoint at all.

For reference, try some of these on for size.

Hyrule Field
Zelda’s Lullaby (Milk Bar)
Hyrule Castle
Lorule Field (AKA Dark World)
Death Mountain
Lorule Castle

It was an eargasm for me. It was the first thing I noticed. It was beautiful.

3. Top Down Zelda at its Finest I am a sucker for Top Down Zelda games. This has smooth gameplay, open world, fun exploration, fun characters, no dead uncles, huge amounts of stuff to do and explore, and even collecting 100 annoying squid babies was fun, not frustrating. I cannot stress enough how fucking solid this game is thanks to the wall mechanic (which forces you to think differently about the world) and renting your equipment early on. Exploration was a JOY. And normally, I HATE IT.

Most games I play that feature “exploration” feature one thing in order to make worlds seem big: waiting. Lots of it. That, or barriers that purposefully hinder your progress unless you get an item from a different dungeon… it’s jumpin’ through hoops. You know what? Watch Egoraptor’s Sequelitis on Ocarina of time, and his thoughts on Link between worlds while you’re at it. He explains everything pretty damn well about an adventuring games that have non-sensical wait times.

Link Between Worlds has none. Because of the “rent-an-item” system and a bunch of extra little things to make the whole process more fun and less tedious (stuff as little as sound hints when getting closer to a certain kind of collectible, for instance), it’s great to just wander around Hyrule and Lorule, slaying monsters, finding loot, and doing hero stuff. Not because you have to, not because “COME SAVE ME” but because it’s legit good times.

Well, there’s one thing… The game’s maps are ripped right out of Link to the Past. Though Beautifully restored and redone for the 3DS, this might be a sticking point for some. If those same people bought the remake for Ocarina of Time for the 3DS, but are unwilling to buy this because “Maps”, then they are stupid. I want to be clear: this game is a NEW game. It is different from Link to the Past in feel and play, while being familiar enough that it feels like putting on your most comfortable boxers. Yes, the ones with all the holes in it.

I loved Link Between Worlds. Seriously, if you like adventure games and have a 3DS, this game is amazing in every way I wanted it to be.

That’s all for now. I still have a backlog (Luigi’s Mansion, you’re next!), but these two titles are now finished. Phoenix Wright is gonna hit the shelf, and will have to wait until I play through the rest of the series before I pick it back up again.

Link Between World’s still has a lot of stuff for me to discover. I have 8 pieces of heart left to collect, another piece of ore for my sword, and a hard mode left to play. I have a feeling I’m going to die a lot more than twice before I’m done with that game.

So long for now. You’re all wonderful.

-Phil

15 Minute Short Story: A really depressing guy with too many first world problems

The day was a rainy one. Tap, tap tap, tap tap tap, went the drops on the pane, the dreary pace of the day elongating with every minute.

A man sat in his study, surrounded by books unread and papers unkempt. He sighed heavily as he looked out the window, his hand swirling a glass of red. It was a stiff vintage, dry. Unfortunately, it wasn’t strong enough to disturb his reverie.

He thought of days long gone by… on second thought, not so long as that, but the time that had passed seemed an eternity. Happy faces on pretty women and handsome men, as he wined and dined them all. Rides on boats, the wind whipping at his face as he shouted and sang for the world. The expidition in the jungle, his feet nearly giving out after a long hike, or his despair as his headlamp went out during a typhoon.

It felt like someone else’s life, he reflected, someone else altogether different. Here he was, sitting in a chair, drinking wine he didn’t even really like. Why didn’t he get out of his chair and do all those things again?

Well, that wouldn’t work for the man. As he thought of it, he remembered that the country whose jungle he once crossed is currently uncrossable, its borders closed. The boat, sold long ago due to fiscal problems. Those handsome men and pretty women he remembered all were in different corners of the world, and long ago had forgotten him or he forgot them. He didn’t think of which was worse.

He sat in his chair, swirling his unlikable wine. He sighed again. What was the point of all this sitting and sipping?

Getting out of his chair, he made his way to the door of the room and opened it, exposing a long darkened corridor. Normally, it was full of vibrant greens and earthy browns, but today, it rained. When it rained, it greyed out all colour.

Walking down the hallway, he turned into his kitchen and grabbed a chocolate bar from the fridge. He liked the chocolate cold, that way it didn’t melt in his hands. Small things like that made him happier but did nothing to repeal the general malaise in his everyday life. Pondering the significance of melted chocolate, if there was any, the man made his way back to the study.

It’s not like I haven’t tried, he thought, to think of something interesting to do. He remembered all the ideas he had before: creating a broadcasting channel, becoming a movie star, attempting to go and travel again… all had met with their end before they could begin. What of his artistic endeavours? He could draw, write, sing, play instruments… he was a talented man, but his taste outstripped his ability by at least ten-fold. Everything he made disgusted him before he could finish it, and was discarded.

To add to all of these first world problems, he had no companion. That was entirely his fault, however, and he knew that. He wasn’t sure of being ready for that level of responsibility, especially not to the people he had met thusfar. He sighed, and sank in his chair much like a bear sitting down on its cave floor.

What on earth had his life come to? Pondering stupid things, and to no end. The rain fell outside, uncaring of his desires.

The King is Dead

Today, a king has died.

I first met him when I was 10 years old. He was a tiny ball of fur, black with a white stripe down the middle along his belly. He was curious, and friendly, and got along well with his siblings. He was adorable, and my brothers and I instantly fell in love with him.

We named him Oreo. Not very original, but it suited him.

As he grew up on the family farm, it became evident that he was the smartest in the litter. He knew his name, and came when we asked. He was a crafty hunter, only matched by his somewhat psychotic sibling, Boots. He adored being around people. At some point, we decided we needed a house cat. Oreo was that cat.

He didn’t live inside the house though. We let him out as often as he liked, and so he became very social with the neighbourhood cats. I always liked to imagine he was stalking and hunting with his little pride of cats while he was away. When he came back, several of his posse would come back and wait for him while he ate.

He was such a bad ass that dogs were often afraid of him. Between him and a golden retriever puppy, he assumed dominance. He fought off angry german shepherds. That cat was strong and proud, and nothing would take him down without a fight. He was truly the king of the neighbourhood.

He wasn’t always in the city. We used to bring him to the cottage. Because he was unused to cages and didn’t like them, we would let him roam around the car. One minute, he’d be on our laps: the next, my dad would be shooing him away from the dashboard. Most of the time, he was content to get attention and sit on the dash where it was warm, and thankfully out of the way for most of Dad’s driving.

The last time he went to the cottage was when I was 14 or so. He decided to hide on us when we tried to bring him back to the city. It took us almost 2 hours to catch him, between about 10 people looking. On top of that, he was ornery and upset during the trip back: we decided that was going to be his last trip there.

We brought him back to the farm every once in awhile, but those visits soon stopped: the rest of his litter, and even his mother Liquorice, had all started to go missing: killed or become strays. Regardless, we didn’t want the same happening to Oreo, so we stopped bringing him.

When I was about 19, Oreo began to get sick inside the house. Dad wasn’t happy about that happening on his expensive carpets, so the decision was made to send him back to the farm to live his days out. Unfortunately, barns are hardly cat proof, and when our neighbour went to feed him, he escaped.

We thought we would never see him again.

About 6 months later, after a Canadian winter, my brother and I were working, moving lumber. We hefted a particularly large log when we heard a noise. We had no idea what it was, so we listened. We heard it again, and it sounded a bit like a raccoon. A third time, and we were incredulous: raccoons don’t meow, and all our cats were dead. There was no way both of us were hallucinating, so we went looking for the source.

Defying every expectation, the King was still alive: nothing but skin and bones, minus a good number of teeth, and smelling like a ragged corpse but… still alive. After some coaxing, and a little bit of food, Oreo came out of hiding. Just like was in the past, he was extremely friendly and happy to see us. He even Remembered Steely, and rubbed up affectionately with the beast. I wonder to this day if Steely knew Oreo was alive all this time.

The problem presented to us was that Oreo would not be allowed back in Toronto; but there was no way we were going to leave him on the farm. This is when my brother Sebastien came to the rescue: because he was relatively independent and living in Ottawa, he would take care of Oreo with his girlfriend, Megan.

After driving to pick him up, and then making the long trek back to Ottawa, Seb put him through the vets. A few thousand dollars later, Oreo no longer had worms, was no longer sick, and was about as well as could be expected from a 10 year old cat with the feline version of AIDS.

From then on, every visit to see Sebastien and Megan was a visit to see Oreo. He hated the cute bandanas that the vet would put on him. He demanded your attention when you were watching a movie. If you were sleeping on the air mattress, he would join you (though I suspect it was more because of the air mattress than the person, but I digress).

This year, he went blind in one eye. Months passed, and Oreo was still the same cat. Then, two weeks ago, age hit him right in the sweet spot.

FAIDS has kicked in with a vengeance, and diabetes had robbed him of his sight. His inner ear had gotten messed up, causing his sense of balance to become completely screwed up. Instead of spending most days sitting on chairs and pretending to be human, or getting chin scratches, his day by day life became a struggle to find his litterbox and his bed.

He was confined to a single, but large, room for his safety. When Sebastien came back to Toronto to help my dad out, he brought Oreo with him. I watched as he spent his last days trying his hardest to meander around my dining room, his incontinence causing me to feel angry, and then guilty. This wasn’t the cat I remembered.

What I remembered was a proud, powerful cat with sparkling green eyes and a fierce sense of intelligence. A strong lion: and the sleeping sack of ever diminishing skin and bones was nothing like he was. I became angry, thinking how this could have happened. I then felt guilt for judging a creature who had no business being judged: he was living his life the best he could.

So I cleaned the floor, and I pet his now bony spine. He didn’t even have the strength to meow.

Today, I left with a little goodbye, thinking I would see him tonight. I left to go see a friend I hadn’t seen in some time, and have a good day. I made a grave mistake, as Oreo’s condition worsened: a terminal tumour threatened to cause him unbearable pain before he passed.

Sebastien, braver than I would have been, made the tough decision of giving Oreo a painless passing, a sweet sleep. I can imagine me being there, looking into his unseeing eyes as the light of life dimmed. I can imagine what it would have been like to wish him goodbye one last time, and thank you for being such an amazing friend. I imagine I was strong for him, and held him one last time like I used to so long ago.

I did none of these things. I was oblivious, and by the time I got home, it was done. Oreo was no longer with us.

I owed him so much, and couldn’t be there for him when he needed me; once, when he needed a new home, and once when he needed to go. I don’t think I will forgive myself for a long time.

Regardless, Oreo was the best cat I have ever known. Sweet, intelligent, and confident. I love him. I will miss him.

I am sorry I wasn’t there Oreo. I’m so happy Sebastien and Megan were. I am so happy that, with them, you were able to have a long and happy life. I’m sorry you had to go. I understand why you had to, though, and I’m glad it was peaceful.

The King is dead, and a little piece of me died with him.

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I have no idea what I am doing.

For serious, I have no idea.

Last night, after toying around with my Psycho in Borderlands 2 until two in the morning, I decided it would be a great idea to catch up on Book 2 of the legend of Korra. side note: that was a lot of twos. I watched tv until 6 am, wasn’t sleepy, proceeded to go crazy, and now here I am.

By crazy, I mean the following: breakfast, wake up my mom side note: very rare occurrence considering her vocation, clean basement, start to clean room, listen to the Owl’s theme from OoT on loop, delve into the mysteries of cheese making and nasal mucus, and now I am here.

Exhaustion and caffeine have an interesting effect on me side note: read “interesting” as downright weird. I have been active, and now that I’m sitting, I’m having constant microsleeps. It’s very odd.

I would have hoped for a bit more creativity on my end, but alas no such luck. Short stories are in short supply side note: not a funny pun, dispense with those and I really don’t write much on here. Any idea?

I’m thinking that I just need to get some sleep; but that’s not happening until Kepora Gebora gets out of my head. I think I’ve finally figured out the major parts of it on the piano, and I won’t be happy until it’s transcribed.

Mother’s Day, done badly.

I’m bad at mushy stuff, but here goes.

To my mom:

Hey mom, it’s one of your favourite sons. I just wanted to say happy mother’s day, and I hope today works out for ya in a big way.

I’m happy to have you for a mom for a lot of reasons. For one, you helped make me the geek I am today. You have more french comic books than comic book guy from the Simpsons, read a lot, and I have picked up on neither of those things to the same degree.

Okay, well at least your taste in movies is all thanks to you. Stargate, Die Hard… action movies and sci-fi were always cool because you made it.

I’m going to teacher’s college now largely because of your support, and I hope I’m as good as your are. Heck, I looked up reviews. People think you’re awesome. I think you’re awesome. There’s definitely a something there that I hope to emulate.

We both kinda hate cooking all the time, so that’s a bonus. It’s also a bonus that ordering in food is certainly easier than what the Croods have to do.

Frankly, I picked up a lot of my habits from you. You helped me grow into this big, hairy mess of a human being. I couldn’t have done anything in my life without you and your guidance.

So, from the bottom of my big, though very-bad-at-articulating-feelings afflicted heart, I just wanted to say thank you for all the help, the love, and the care. I love you. I’m very lucky to have had you for a mother.

Happy Mother’s day,
Phil

Stone Tears

But as to such this predicament

be mine is a mystery to me

and of import only in mine eye it be.

 

Yet its urgency is real, I cannot peel

the veil from my choice to make.

 

Instead I weep as a stone angel

passing time in my hands

until the moment a weakness

revealed

moves me from my stale sands.

For a friend in need

These poems are for a friend who I really can’t help. I feel horrible for him, and I want to try to do something meaningful for him. These poems are the best I feel I can do right now.

Sam, stay strong.

We lead short lives
Like leaves underneath a foot
Our colour is crushed

Nature is ugly,
And awesome, but perfection
Must have an ending

A perfect life is
A creature; it has a head,
A tail, a body

Our lives are short, though
A life well lived is simply
A beautiful thing.

Take heart, my good friend
You will feel sadness and pain
Which gives way to joy

They lived a great life
Though ended, beautiful in
A love filled ending

Take from this, and know
Of beauty in a complete
Story of a life

Beginning, and then
Body, they loved and were loved
Ending, conclusion

They loved you, and you
Love them still, and that is all
That really matters