Here are a few of my favorite things: Nintendo, Penny Arcade, The Legend of Zelda, Mario, Pokemon, Harvest Moon, Fallout, Dungeons and Dragons, books, dice, Professor Layton, Shadow of the Colossus, Minecraft, and so much more. I'm going to talk a lot about video games, I sincerely hope you don't mind.

Newest paper sculpt project!

Sonic Screwdriver trio for my friend's birthday.

An interview with Adam Harum of Transolar Galactica.

They achieved their Kickstarter goal, and now the world gets more of their award winning sci-fi comedy!

Doctor Who themed lip balm!

Brought to you from Earthtastic! and A Bit of Geek.

Minecraft paper sculpt!

My submission to the Mojang community art contest. Watch the video!

A TARDIS desk lamp!

Instructions and babbling on how to make a TARDIS lamp from foam core!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Why Holiday Tech Support Isn't So Bad (To Me)

I keep reading these articles online that talk about preparing for holiday tech support. They caution tech savvy individuals to "brace" themselves for an onslaught of family members asking for help and advice. There are articles that advise bringing install discs and compressed air to Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. I think of the ever popular "I will not fix your computer" shirt, and I'm not entirely sure how I feel. I think I need different sentiments on my shirts. I'll put them in this post.

My family asks me for computer help whenever I'm home, so I don't expect the holidays to be any different. The exception being that when new gadgets are received on Christmas day we generally sit down and learn the object together. It's not easy to "fix" something when it's brand new to me, so there's that as well.

And sure, I don't always feel like fixing a computer or looking into a printer or troubleshooting a fritzy mp3 player, but I do anyway. My family depends on me, and a lot of people do feel truly lost when something with their technology goes awry. All the same, I'm a believer of firm but nice answers. Perhaps a little, "Can we look at it later?" or, "Why don't we find a time when things aren't so hectic." It's important to set boundaries because we (myself and other tech-smart people out there) are home for the holidays and we all deserve to relax, too.
For the hungry nerds.

Perhaps more important than learning to say "no" is learning when to admit defeat. I'm not an expert by any stretch of the word, but in many cases I seem like it to my family. They expect me to have answers and solutions, and for my own sanity I need to be able to say that the problem is beyond me and they should seek other options. Of course I hate it when this happens! I want to be able to help, and I get a lot of satisfaction from fixing problems. However it doesn't help me to get stressed and end up ignoring family just to fix one wonky machine.
For the nerds who are honest with themselves.

I realize that my situation probably isn't like everyone else's: I don't have huge extended family holidays. If I'm fixing something then it's only one or two little things for my mom, and she's amazing so I don't mind helping her. Earlier this week I spent an entire day getting her desktop machine in shape and installing a fancy new printer. I know how much she appreciate it, and that makes me happy.

For the momma's nerds. (me)

Are you the tech support person in your family? Do you dread holiday gatherings because of it? I want to know!


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Review Time! Paper Mario: Sticker Star.

In light of the fourth quarter release lineup, the 3DS is rapidly becoming my favorite gaming system. All of the demos at PAX were extremely promising, and the games are finally rolling out to anxious hands all over the globe.

I've had the great pleasure of playing Paper Mario: Sticker Star, and now that I'm on the final (and incredibly difficult) Bowser battle I'm ready to talk about the game in all of its papery glory.
Paper Mario: Sticker Star. Source.

Paper Mario: Sticker Star bursts onto the 3DS with crisp, bright graphics, witty dialogue, new twists on old enemies, lots of tricky puzzles, and a brand new sticker mechanic. At first the stickers seemed like a simple gimmick, but after familiarizing myself with the gameplay I was able to see their full and fun potential. Battles require more tactics and preparation, and the game creators obviously had a great time coming up with the "thing" stickers that Mario finds around the world.

"Thing" stickers range from teapots, to goats, to scissors, to shaved ice, and pretty much everything else in between. These stickers can be used in battle for greater damage or effects such as doubling attack power. The stickers also interact with the environment via the "stickerize" screen. Mario can, for instance, use a refrigerator to freeze flowing lava, or a fire flower to melt some snow.

Mario placing a sticker in the "stickerize" screen. Source.

Fans of the series will really appreciate this first-time portable offering. It brings back the turn-based RPG battle style of the first two Paper Mario titles, but sadly does away with in-game partners. I prefer the turn-based style, and I sorely missed it from Super Paper Mario for the Wii.

While the lack of partners is pretty noticeable and makes the game a little lonely, Kersti (your sticker helper) is an amiable and entertaining companion. She cushions the blow of having only one attack per turn by giving Mario the opportunity to use up to three stickers per turn via the coin roller. Timed taps to the A button might yield two or three of a kind (much like a slot machine), thus providing more chances to deal greater damage to the enemies at hand. The player could also use the opportunity to apply a healing mushroom to Mario.

Three separate attack stickers can be used, as indicated by the three dotted squares. Source.

The game is covered with battle stickers, so players won't have to worry about scrounging up coins to buy them at the shops (shopping is an option too, of course). There are six worlds in all, and each one introduces even more stickers to use. When you start the game your Sticker Album will only have a few pages which serve as inventory space, but as you gather Sticker Comet stickers your album will increase its pages, allowing you to carry more with you at a time.

Paper Mario: Sticker Star includes a museum where you can showcase the stickers you've found. Source.

At any moment the game has given Mario everything he will need to progress, but the puzzle solutions won't always be simple. I've gotten stuck more times than I can recall at this point, and often times the answers found online resulted in me thinking, "Who would have thought to do that?!"

Sticker Star has been an absolute treat to play, and it is fair in length. Including all of the times I've achieved a Game Over screen, I'm sitting at about thirty hours of gameplay. I wish the game were longer, but that's really because I can't get enough of Paper Mario. I highly recommend picking up this title! It's a great addition to anyone's gaming library. I hope that the people over at Intelligent Systems will be teaming up with Nintendo again in the future to bring the fans even more amazing Paper Mario gameplay!

Did you pick up Paper Mario: Sticker Star? Do you plan on it? If you have a copy then what do you think so far?


p.s. If you don't have a copy yet, then be sure to enter my giveaway contest to try and win a free copy!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Doctor Who Drinking Game

Now that the holidays are officially here and everyone is stuffed with Thanksgiving leftovers, I think it's time to come up with some fun games to play while houses are filled to the brim with family and friends and tempers are high and maybe everyone could use a way to relax.

Submitted without comment. Source.

I've decided to go with a Doctor Who drinking game in honor of the fact that this year's Christmas Special will mark the first time I've seen a special as it airs. I am very excited about it!

This game depends entirely on which iteration of the Doctor you'll be watching. I haven't seen the original episodes, so my varieties will include versions for Nine, Ten, and Eleven.


Nine: Anytime the Doctor says "Fantastic"

Ten: Anytime the Doctor says "Allons-y"

Eleven: Anytime the Doctor says a phrase including "Pond"

That's it. That's all you need. Any other qualifiers will get every person too drunk.

This game can be played anytime, not just during the holidays! And soon the stakes will be even higher: you can play the Doctor Who drinking game out of Doctor Who shot glasses. Two new shot glasses will be introduced each month starting January 2013, with a new Doctor each month.

In the meantime, regular shot glasses will do, and you can buy these great Doctor Who coasters to keep your table free of horrifying water rings. I feel like there's a reference in there somewhere, but I'm drawing a blank. Something to do with 'Waters of Mars'... If you think of it then please leave it in the comments!

What will you include in your Doctor Who drinking game?


Friday, November 23, 2012

Paper Mario: Sticker Star giveaway contest! [CLOSED]

Does everyone remember the Paper Mario: Sticker Star diorama contest that I entered a few weeks ago? Well, I WON! That's right, I was one of five lucky winners to get an amazing prize package from Nintendo! I started to scream when I read my e-mail, and then I sat down and cried with happiness for about ten minutes, and then I had a celebratory shot of whiskey which doubled as a nerve calmer.

Once I had my head on straight again I realized I was going to end up with two copies of Sticker Star. This is because I knew I was going to buy a copy on Sunday the 11th because even if I won the contest I wasn't going to be able to wait for them to ship me my copy. Who has that kind of patience?

***We interrupt your regularly schedule post to bring you these gratuitous photos of the prize pack***
Paper Mario: Sticker Star for the 3DS, $100 in eShop giftcards, and a red 3DS XL. 

A few glamour shots of the 3DS XL, because look at how beautiful it is! 

My paper trophy! It's so cute!

***Thank you for your patience during the photo interlude. You may now return to the regular post***

So then came the dilemma: what to do with my winning copy of Paper Mario: Sticker Star?

Host a giveaway, of course!!

This game is really excellent and I want to share the love with fellow Nintendo and Paper Mario fans! The contest will run for two weeks starting from today, Friday the 23rd, and it'll go until midnight PST Friday, December 7th. The winner will receive one (1) copy of Paper Mario: Sticker Star for the 3DS. The game is brand new and still sealed in its original box. The giveaway is open to US residents only (I'll be paying for shipping), so I apologize to any international readers!

Here's how you enter:

1. "Like" A Bit of Geek on Facebook!
2.  Tweet about the giveaway! ----"I just entered to win a copy of Paper Mario: Sticker Star from @abitofgeek Go to her post for your own chance to win!"
3. Comment here and tell me which Mario game is your favorite and why!

It's one entry per person, so just let me know that you've done the first two things in the same comment as your favorite Mario game! If you already 'like' A Bit of Geek on Facebook you won't be excluded from entering, don't worry!

The winner will be announced on Saturday, December 8th and will be chosen via random number generator. You'll have one week (7 days) to respond to me. If I don't hear back from the winner within that timeframe then I'll generate a second number.

Be sure to leave your e-mail address or your twitter account or something so that I can contact you!

Be sure to check back next week for my review of the game, too, just in case you need some nudging in the right direction :D

Good luck!


We have a winner!

Mai Koythong, congratulations! I will be contacting you shortly. Thank you to everyone that entered!


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Geek Crafts Day: Mario Quilt!

This Christmas I'm taking the homemade route for as many gifts as possible, and for my five year old nephew I went with a blanket.

A Mario blanket!
Da-da-da-da-- wait, wrong game.

The little guy loves Spider-man and Mario just like his aunt (that'd be me!), so it was a real treat to put this quilt together for him. It's difficult to beat handmade gifts that are also functional, and who wouldn't want a warm blanket emblazoned with a pipe-jumping Italian?

I definitely want one.

I assembled it entirely from old t-shirts that I had saved up for various sewing projects. I wish I had had a darker color for his skin, but the clothes give away the basic idea of his 8-bit image. I've been meaning to make a Mario quilt for myself and I think this'll be the push that I need. If I didn't love my nephew so much I'd probably keep this for myself. Except it's tiny, so it really wouldn't do me any good.

Let's look at some brilliant geeky quilts from across the web and churn up some excitement and inspiration!

I just love the detail and spread of fabrics used in Mario, and the quilt on the right has such
 a fantastic array of characters. It's so vibrant and beautiful!

The non-patchwork aesthetic of the Goron quilt is gorgeous, and the Zelda quilt
has the teeniest, tiniest squares I've ever seen. My mind is blown.

The swirly stitching on the Black Mage works so well with the magic aspect! And a Tetris
quilt is an obvious (and wonderful) choice that also takes a lot of planning. But
the red piece is in the wrong spot, whyyyyyyyyyyy?!

Lastly, two total works of art: a stunning Pokemon quilt, and a video game 
conglomeration that hits the classics as well as the underdog hits. 

They're all amazing in their own way, and so straight and square! I'm a bit haphazard with my sewing, so my squares are always a bit crooked. Someday I'll make the quilt of my dreams and I'll be meticulous with it. Hopefully it'll look a lot like this:

Kuribo's Shoe has a very special place in my heart. Source

Who else out there does quilting? Have you done any geeky quilts before? If so then please post some photos!


Monday, November 19, 2012

Couldn't Get a Wii U? Here Are Day-Brightening Alternatives!

If you're a member of the sad masses that are not currently in possession of a Wii U, then welcome! Grab a cookie and a seat. I'd really love to own one and dive into every little thing that Nintendo has on offer, but limited funds makes that a non-reality.
I am so jealous of the dedicated line-waiters at the Nintendo World Store. Source.

Instead of moping about and looking at pictures of purchased Wii Us online I decided to come up with a list of things to do instead of said-moping. Here they are!

1. Play a mobile game on a touchscreen phone/iPad while pointing it at my Wii and pretending it's a Wii U.

2. Watch gameplay videos of New Super Mario Bros. Wii U while holding a Wii remote to pretend that I'm controlling the game.

3. Print out an image of a Wii U and take a photo of it to brag to the internet that I have one in order to make myself feel included.

4. Give people fake account codes and tell them to "add me."

5. Spend all day in a Best Buy playing the display model and hissing at other patrons if they try to take a turn.

Add in a few crying children and uncomfortable employees, then you'll
have the spitting image of me right now. Source.

Or, instead of engaging in all of those amazing activities I guess I'll just play Paper Mario: Sticker Star and remind myself that things aren't actually that bad.

How many of you lucky folks were able to buy a Wii U yesterday? I'd love to hear some first-hand stories from owners!


Friday, November 16, 2012

Retro Gaming Made Easy with Plug and Play Systems

Who out there has an old gaming system, but can't get it to work? I have a large collection of old systems and, while they're in working shape, the issue I face is in obtaining a compatible TV set. The large flat screens and projectors of today just can't cut it. For those with the desire to game and the cash to spend, these systems from Gametronex are well suited to solve that problem.
And it comes in a portable version! Source.

The SEGA system includes such classics as Altered Beast, Golden Axe, Ecco, and of course Sonic the Hedgehog. Eighty games in all are just waiting for your anxious hands to play. The consoles are plug and play, so they go directly into a television set with a traditional AV cable. The SEGA even has a cartridge slot, so it can play most (but not all) of your existing games.

Gametronex has an impressive collection touching on the Atari, Super Nintendo, and more, as well as replacement cables for retro consoles. The prices seem reasonable for the product that is being offered, and they're great packages for new and seasoned gamers alike.

I can't find anywhere on the site that says if the products are... legitimate or not. If you know what I mean. I have no doubt that they function just fine, though. I'd like to get my hands on a few of these, that way I can keep my old school systems on the mantel and keep my house looking classy. I can't even count the number of compliments I get from door-to-door salespeople and handymen, so don't even get me started! (Is the sarcasm obvious? I'm still learning)


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Beautiful Shadow of the Colossus Illustration Collection

Shadow of the Colossus will always hold a very special place in my heart and gaming collection. I was excited for its arrival after playing ICO, and I continue to hold out hope for The Last Guardian even though recent news indicates that things aren't going so well for the development team.

When Shadow of the Colossus came out I purchased the strategy guide too, but mostly for the art contained within. Anyone who has played it can attest to its visual majesty even on a PS2, and as wonderful as the creatures were in-game, it was an even better treat to look at detailed pictures of them in the book. Of course, the tips for bringing down each Colossi did come in handy later.

I really love official art and fanart for it, so I was super pleased when I came across this collection of pieces from James Gilleard.

Just two samples of a much larger and gorgeous series! Source.

Gilleard's website is chock full of beautiful illustrations, so I encourage you to check out more than just his Shadow of the Colossus work!

When I look at such serene and lovely images from this game it's almost easy to forget that it nearly caused me a mental breakdown as I tried and (repeatedly) failed to bring down the final Colossus. It's a tragic and comical tale that involves me having a full out tantrum. Maybe I'll share it someday. Not today though, let's keep things upbeat; you don't want to hear about me crying! Or maybe you do. It's hard to tell.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Have a Very Techy Thanksgiving With These Fun Ideas!

Thanksgiving is galloping towards us at an alarming pace, so I hope everybody is prepared for all of the food and family! Generally it's a time of long-held traditions, but there are ways to make your holiday just as digital as it is delicious. Here are my tips for a techy Thanksgiving!

The diners never expected so much electronic interference. Source.

Meal Preparation

Experienced chefs will have family recipes passed on from cook to cook, but younger turkey providers may need a few helpful tips. Thanksgiving Menu Maker for iOS is a real life saver, and free! It's loaded with over 75 recipes covering starters, main courses, side dishes, and desserts. There are variations for every dish expected at the table plus a few that you may not have thought of, including vegetarian offerings! The application allows you to compile your recipes of choice together in a cohesive menu and also creates a shopping list. One of the best features is the schedule: the application takes the dishes that you plan on making and organizes by when you need to start making them. No one will be left wondering when the mashed potatoes need to be started in order to coincide with the turkey!

A great companion piece for those iPad users who will be using digital recipes is a kitchen stand! There are a wide variety of options ranging from the simple, the sophisticated, and the fancy under-the-counter kind. Take your pick and get cooking, but keep your iPad free from food with these plastic sleeves!

Food Assistance

This could be you! Source.

Seeing as the turkey is the grand center of Thanksgiving dinner for most people, it only seems right to make sure it's properly cooked! A digital cooking thermometer will assist in making sure thpièce de résistance is done all the way through. Especially nervous new cooks can take comfort in the fact that the electronic read-out it difficult to mis-read. Dare I say... impossible.

Now that you've used the digital thermometer to create a perfectly done turkey, it's time to honor it during its carving with an electric knife. They're certainly not new to the world of Thanksgiving, but they are handy! It's also a simple way to gadget-up your day without causing confusion among less tech-savvy relatives. Perhaps you have a grandma who swears by her old-school thermometer, but may be impressed with a plug-in blade. I'm amusing myself over the mental image.

After Dinner Activities

Once everyone is fed, full, and happy, why not check out one of these two Thanksgiving trivia websites? Delight your family and friends with fun holiday facts, such as the name of the Chief of the Wampanoag Tribe (the Native Americans who were invited to the first Thanksgiving), or whether or not decorative corn is edible (it's not). The questions range from historical to present day to cooking, and seeing as colleges and offices don't host Thanksgiving plays to remind us of these facts, I'm guessing a lot of people could use a few refreshers. I know I can!

You know I've never been a part of the wishbone tradition. Am I missing out? Source.

If everyone grows sick of trivia, or isn't interested in the first place, then go ahead and indulge on some Thanksgiving themed movies while packing in some pie. My favorites are Dutch and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. The internet recommends Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, as well as Alice's Restaurant, but I haven't seen those so I can't in good faith tell you to watch them. The descriptions sound entertaining enough, so you're probably safe. Sadly, Dutch, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and Planes, Trains and Automobiles aren't available through Netflix. Alice's Restaurant is though. There's one down!


While not digital, amazing geeky aprons embody the spirit of technology and will make the day even more exciting! Choose from the TARDIS, Pikachu, Link, Marvel, and more from etsy seller  NerdAlertCreations. You can find fancier fair over at darlingarmy's shop (take a look at this Dalek one!), and even a Batman half apron from jordandene.

If I had this I'd wear it everyday. I wouldn't even be cooking. Source.

You can even jazz up the functionality of your kitchen utensils with these floppy disc coasters, and be sure to protect your meat mitts from the hot pans with a Pac-man potholder!

So now you're all set to have a technologically driven and geeky Thanksgiving! What's your favorite movie for the holiday? Do you have a favorite piece of tech that you use while cooking?


Friday, November 9, 2012

Get Your Disney Digital Fix with Wreck-It Ralph

It's safe to say that the population at large is excited about Wreck-It Ralph, the newest animated feature from Disney. Most people won't need long reviews and critical opinions to decide whether or not they want to flock to the movies to see it. This won't be a long and critical review, I just want a chance to talk about what a gem of a film it ended up being!

Wreck-It Ralph has a great message of reaching for the stars, trying new things, and also of finding satisfaction with the lives that we have. It almost seems contradictory, but in the case of Ralph he comes to love his life after some soul searching and star reaching.

Along the way he meets an amazing cast of characters, many of which pay fan service to an older generation of gamers. The careful and diligent viewer will notice hundreds of tiny, wonderful things strewn throughout the movie. Personally I wish I had had multiple sets of eyes just so I could take in everything. That's a first for me.

'Game Central Station' is impressive and overflowing with well-loved characters. Source.

Once the exciting gaming settings of the first half an hour passed and we really settled into the story, I was amazed by the number of twists and surprises. The story was eloquently wound and complex, also extremely funny. I did find myself thinking it was a bit sophisticated for children, and even a little inappropriate at times. Perhaps though, as an adult, I simply caught all of the jokes and little kids won't. Either way certain scenes felt a little more PG but not quite PG-13. It's a fine line, but they were at least always clever!

It's no surprise, but is still worth mentioning, that the whole movie is visually stunning. Every game world is so full, colorful and fun. Again I found myself needing more sets of eyes! It's astounding to think of the development process for the game Sugar Rush; they made it an absolute delight to look at.

A stunning, inventive, and bright landscape of candy! Source.

Wreck-It Ralph is a great film, and makes a fun theatre visit for families and grown-ups alike. Be sure to catch it while it's still showing! Since it's a Disney film you'll have at least a month.

Has anyone else seen it? What are your thoughts?


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Paper Mario Diorama Contest Submission!

On October 29th Nintendo announced a Paper Mario diorama contest as a way for fans to win a copy of the upcoming Paper Mario: Sticker Star, as well as a 3DS XL, an eShop gift card, and a trophy! It took me four days and one photo session, but my diorama is finished and submitted to Nintendo!

The contest ends tonight at midnight, and I am on the edge of my seat waiting for the winners to be announced. I really feel like I have a chance! I've looked around online a bit but only found two other people posting their progress photos.

I'm curious to see if Nintendo ends up picking ones that are obviously from children, or if they'll remember that big "all ages" thing they constantly talk about and pick some winners from older fans as well. It would be an incomprehensible honor to win an art contest from Nintendo. I'm really enjoying where this paper sculpting hobby is going, and I had a lot of fun putting together my diorama.

Please enjoy the photos! The first six are my official submission images, and the rest are fun detail shots that I can cherish forever and share with other people. I heavily referenced this screenshot from the game, but adding Bowser and Peach was my own special thought.

 An angled shot to show off the depth.

 Clear squares to hold the stickers and an opportunity to show of my Super Mario World
bandaged hill homage. The warp pipe and star piece were the last things I added.


The three criteria for the judges are spirit (showing love for Paper Mario and/or the Nintendo company in general), creativity, and quality. I'm hoping that my bandage on the hill plus the little radishes from Super Mario Bros. 2 demonstrate even a tiny bit of my Nintendo love!

I'm thinking of making another diorama just for funsies. Maybe a Chrono Trigger one! What does everyone think?


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