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, August 30, 2013

Sculpt Video - Kuribo’s Shoe

It has been TOO LONG, but here, finally, is another paper sculpt video! This one is dedicated to the highly popular (but for some reason extremely neglected by Nintendo) one-time-use Mario power up: Kuribo's Shoe!

I haven't made a stop motion video in a full year now and I'm feeling a bit rusty on editing. I tried a few different export options, but the video looked a little choppy every time. If anyone has any tips for me they'd be greatly appreciated!


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Gotta Collect Them All - PAX Buttons!

Last week's article about PAX panels included a brief snippit on buttoneering, and today it's time for a full blown reveal! The A Bit of Geek team will be storming the convention center, armed with one hundred special buttons apiece, and we'll be all set to trade! The "rules" of buttoneering entail that you give a button to get a button, but we're not picky! You don't have to be a buttoneering participant, just ask us for one! We want to spread the cheer and get our name out there : )

pax buttoneer buttons

pax buttoneer buttons

Check out that variety! You'll have to find all of us if you want to collect the whole set. Kuribo's Shoe is mine, the Paragon symbol is Rachel's, Spider-man is Tom, and little Mega Man there joyously holding the Triforce belongs to Zach. We plan on taking a few breaks through the weekend to pass out buttons together, so maybe you'll find us then! Oh, and honorary ABoG member Morgan will have a small set of buttons, too. Only forty, so you'd better act fast!

sonic button pax buttoneer

We will definitely be at the buttoneering meetup on Sunday morning, so if you're having trouble tracking us down you can find us there!

Will any readers be participating? If so, let us know and show us your button!


*Font portion of header image from

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Video Game Character Spotlight: Star Wolf

Every story needs a good villain. Someone to oppose the protagonist at every turn, possibly throw in a villain-themed pun or two. And if they are really effective, they are able to match the hero turn for turn. This rivalry is what pushes the villain forward, to prove themselves the better of the two. Amongst the realm of video game characters, you have the great rivalries: Cloud and Sephiroth, Mario and Bowser, Pacman and those damn illusive dots. But perhaps one of the greatest among them is the love/hate relationship between the goody-two-shoes Fox McCloud and the illustrious, bad boy extraordinaire, Star Wolf. One of the main antagonists of the Star Fox series, Star Wolf is the rival mercenary of Star Fox and leader of his own band of misfits, the Star Wolf team.

“He was going to self-title his gang, but the 'Wolf O'Donnell Team' didn't sound very intimidating,” Source.

Known through the galaxy as a ruthless band of mercs, Star Wolf and his team take the more sinister jobs: crushing altruistic rebellions, protecting a civilization-destroying bomb and just putting down anyone who thought they could ever hope to save the day. Star Wolf is able to do this through the use of his advanced fighter ship, the Wolfen, a mighty ship befit a legendary mercenary. A ship armed to the teeth, the Wolfen is equipped with dual laser cannons, gravity diffusion shielding and barrel rolling boosters. With his ship, Star Wolf is feared for his incredible piloting skills, easily out maneuvering his enemies and destroying anyone in his way.

“He operates it best when he's standing on its wing, striking a pose," Source.

But as there is always a great villain, there must also be a great hero to ruin the fun. And Star Wolf's opposition comes in the form of his longtime rival, Fox McCloud. Both leading teams of mercenary space fighters, Wolf and Fox are each the best of their respective sides. They are nearly equally matched in skill and bravery, but differ in their own ways. While Fox is the selfless hero of the story, Wolf is cunning and ruthless, much like the rest of his species. He continually tries to prove that he is the best there is, which puts him at ends with the Star Fox team and sometimes even the people that hire him. This drive puts him as a lone wolf at heart, but he always manages to keep his team loyal and precise, no matter the cost.

“And we're not talking the monetary value to keep them looking so fabulous,” Source.

However, even as he hates McCloud, Star Wolf has a mutual respect for his rival. From time to time he has even saved his life, if only so that he can be the one to kill him later on. This back and forth has been the signature of Star Wolf; always playing by his own rules in his pursuit to be the best. In this regard, he is a true villain, for he is tenacious until the bitter end. He is the dark of the Star Fox series, always managing to oppose the protagonists and their righteous endeavors. We could go on and on about the greatness of Star Wolf, but we must unfortunately finish this piece.

“Can't let you do that, Tom," Source.

….....Alright, now we're finished.


Header Image Source.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Planning for Geek Paradise: PAX Prime 2013

Next week will see geek joy rain down on the streets of Seattle in the form of PAX Prime 2013. For the first time since its inception in 2004, PAX is extending to a full four days: Friday, August 30th through Monday, September 2nd. A Bit of Geek will be there (some of us the whole time, others only Saturday and Sunday) and we are incredibly excited! It will be Rachel and Zach's first attendance, too. We plan on making the most of our time between the expo hall and all of the awesome panels, but we'll also be participating in buttoneering! Be sure to hit that link for all of the information, but the rundown is this: PAX attendees create buttons based on their Penny Arcade forum avatars, and then exchange buttons with other users! I did it for the first time last year and it was a great little game. Although, in a sea of ~70,000+ people it can be difficult to find other buttoneers. Fortunately, there are meetups through the weekend to help participants complete their collections!

A little preview of the button station!

I have written about PAX each year since I started A Bit of Geek, and every year I struggle with what to say. The convention is so huge, and so difficult to pin down succinctly. Every year offers something new and exciting, and it is legitimately one of my most favorite things. Whenever PAX is completed I immediately start thinking about how much I can't wait for next year, and whenever passes go on sale I now nearly have a heart attack since they sell out so quickly. I am so fortunate to not have to purchase a plane ticket in order to attend, so if I ever miss out on passes I will become inconsolably distraught.

This year I spent a considerable length of time observing the schedule, and there are two to three panels each day that I am really looking forward to:

Saturday includes!

Penny Arcade Make A Strip
Turning Geek Passion into Profit
Community Management
Chainsawsuit with Friends
Retrogame Roadshow: The Game Show!

Sunday includes!

Penny Arcade Q&A
The Huge Evolution of Games Blogging
Web Video for Gamers
Nintendo Panel
Cards Against Humanity

It really hurts me that I won't be in attendance all four days. It simply wasn't in the cards this year though. Although, the PAX gods are with me because all of the panels that I really want to see are on the two days that I'll be present! Wahoo!

pax prime 2013 saturday and sunday badges
PAX badge day is one of the best days of the year!

Oh, last year I wrote a series of articles based around getting the most of your PAX experience; you should give them a read! I have one on scheduling your days, how to be social, and keeping energized! Maybe you're a seasoned attendee, or maybe you're a newcomer! Either way I believe there's good information in there. Maybe pass it along to any first timers in your life. I love at least trying to be helpful!

So please tell me, dear readers, are you going to be at PAX? Will you be participating in the buttonneers? Which panels are you most looking forward to? What are your tips for having a great PAX experience? I really and truly want to know the answers to these questions! Few things get me as pumped as the Penny Arcade Expo, so please talk to me about how excited you are!


*Header image is a screenshot from the PAX official website.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Glasses as an Identity, or, Why I’m Afraid of Lasik.

I have worn glasses since I was eight or nine, and it all started with a vision test. I remember that day in elementary school so clearly! Every year eye and ear doctors would come to the school and we'd get free hearing and vision testing. As a child, I thought glasses were cool. Just like I thought braces, casts,and crutches were cool. Spoiler: I have had all four of those things, and none are cool. On this particular testing day, I decided to wreak havoc and intentionally do poorly on the vision test. I giggled internally to myself, thinking I was so clever; I'd get more time out of class and a little extra attention. Obviously the doctors were concerned, and I was sent home with a letter informing my mom to take me for a full exam. Well, surprise surprise! Turns out I wasn't fibbing all that intentionally.

Fortunately I wasn't as bad as poor Andy.

I was immediately geared up in a pair of glasses with lenses the diameter of a soda can, so they essentially took up half of my face. I realized that I had made a huge mistake. That night I went to the school with my mom for the science fair (ahh, the science fair), and as I walked down the corridor alone I encountered two boys from my class. Right away they set into making fun of me, calling me names and laughing at my new facial decoration. I turned around to find my mom, and as soon as I found her the boys shut up. I didn't tell her about their rude comments until I was much older.

The rest of my bespectacled schoolcareerwas largely free of taunting. I was only ever called "four eyes" in exaggerated jest by my closest friends (and this was only when they asked if anyone ever seriously called me four eyes), and no one stole my glasses. I didn't find that they deterred friends, or boys, or... anything, really. They had shockingly little impact on my life, serving only as a nuisance when swimming or when needing sunglasses. Or if someone touched the lenses, because there are few things more annoying than smudges in my field of vision (my sister was the worst offender for this one).

doctor octopus the dainty squid wearing glasses
How will I do cat things if I can't see? Source.

Fast forward to the end of high school. I'm going to comfortably go on record here and say that I was ahead of the internet curve. I fell in with a group of techy, geeky guys, and spent lunches and after hours time in the server room with them cruising around online. We'd laugh at memes,, and I remember, as the years crept past after graduating high school, I started to see funny pictures being posted from my friends, and I realized I had already seen them years ago. But, back to my last year inhigh school. It was around this time that the whole... geek girl thing swam into my field of vision. Suddenly, in my group of friends, nerdy and geek girls were cool. Wearing glasses and liking computers was valued. I had a group of people that were impressed with my computer and video game knowledge, and associated my glasses as a visual indicatorto my geek alignment.

At this point I had already been wearing glasses for ten years, and I had long since accustomed myself to seeing them on my face. It didn't take long for me to feel uncomfortable and semi-naked without them. I grew embarrassed when it came time for someone to see me sans glasses for the first time. I was convinced that I didn't look like myself, and that people would somehow be horrified by my face alone.

ugly spongebob squarepants
As long as I can remember, you just didn't know because you were covered in glasses. Source.

This was the same year that my mom had eye surgery. She, too, had worn glasses (well, contacts) from a very young age, and was finally tired of their oppressive role in her life. She immediately gave me an offer: eye surgery for my 18th birthday. My response was to freak out and clutch my glasses defensively, claiming that I didn't mind them, they were a part of me, I looked weird without them, and also fuck surgery on my eyes, was she crazy!? (I'm very sensitive about my eyes. One time I unintentionally slapped the ophthalmologist's hand away while she was trying to touch them. It was awkward.) Meanwhile, my glasses wearing friends oozed with jealousy, hating their own visual shackles, and wishing their parents would offer the expensive and life altering treatment. I felt weird, uncomfortable, evenrude at not taking my mom's offer. But, surgery on my eyes? Looking different thanI had for the majority of my life? No, just no.

She has continued to put eye surgery on the table as a birthday gift every year since then. Each year, I refuse. Initially it was because I believed myself incapable of handling the surgery. She assured me that patients were drugged out the wazoo and therefore had little care for their eyes, but at that point I couldn't even touch my own eyes! Getting an eyelash or fuzzy on my eye resulted in a meltdown of epic proportions.When it did happen,I could be found sobbing inconsolably, screaming and swatting at anyone who tried to come near me, with my palms pressed to mytightly shut eyes, wishing and willing that the tears would remove the offending item. It was very embarrassing, andone time definitely happenedwhen I was 19 in front of my (ex)boyfriend's mom.Slowly over the years, I wore eyeliner, then eyeshadow, and then used an eyelash curler. Through these slow steps I eventually reached a point where I could calmly remove a lash from my eye. I no longer collapse into hysterics. I can even allow another (very trusted) person to hold my eye open and look at it for me. At this point, I am confident that I could handle the surgery.

Until recently, this is what I would have needed to put in eye drops. Source.

And yet. I refused my mom when my birthday rolled around earlier this year. "Why?!" I demanded of myself. I am tired of wearing glasses. They're heavy, and expensive, and I have to worry about them all the time. There are scratches on the lenses in my field of vision, and they get dirty constantly. Prescription sunglasses are really expensive, so I wear cheap, huge, regular sunglasses over my real glasses. Yes, I do get made fun of. I can't get into a great hug with someone without their face skewing my glasses (and covering them in face grease), and I can't lay down on my side to watch TV or a movie. I can't lay facedown, I'm afraid of physical activities for fear of breaking my glasses or having them snap and poke me in the eye or face. Rain drops are a huge nuisance. My cosplay options are severely limited.

So, why?

I realized this year that it's because I fear losing my identity. The internet and geek girls are in full throttle. Hello Kitty t-shirts everywhere showcase a bespectacled cat wearing black framed glasses with the phrase "Talk Nerdy To Me." Websites and advertisers slap a pair of thick framed glasses onto anything and call it 'nerdy' or 'geeky'. Anyone who puts on a pair of glasses says, "I'm such a geek/nerd." Geek icons wear glasses. Nerds are always portrayed with glasses. Glasses mean you're a geek. And what am I? Well, I identify as a geek. Who will I be without my glasses? Will I lose my credibility? And, what if I get the surgery and then miss my glasses? "Well Miranda, you can still wear them as an accessory!" Yes, this is true, but then I will suffer the cries of "Fake! Fake geek girl! Those aren't real glasses!" Will it matter that I used to wear them, but then had corrective surgery, and then discovered that I missed wearing them? No, probably not. I would most likely be classified as some... weird.. poser? Say, what if I no longer needed glasses, but I chose to wear them for my vlogs because I felt they matched that side of me more? I can't shake the feeling that I would be condemned as a fake. Those evil, evil fakes (there is sarcasm here).

Even Barbie wants to hear about gigs, processors, and mbps. And look! She's wearing glasses!
Nerds became cool, and the phrase became nonsensical. Source.

This realization was a tough one for me. I had no idea that steadily, silently, my glasses were becoming part of my identity not just as a person, but as a geek. Yeah, people that have known me fora long time do a double take when they see me without my glasses. I get remarks of, "I've never seen you without your glasses! Weird!" pretty much non-stop. Literally the only time I take them off is when showering or sleeping. Those are the only times. Is it believable that I run a geek and gaming website because of my glasses? Does someone look at me and go, "Seems legit."? And will that change if I take my glasses out of the equation?

The idea of a glasses free life is extremely appealing. I constantly worry about breaking them or losing them, because I would be rendered useless. My vision is bad enough that I can't drive without them. Thinking of a life with less of an immediate connection to geek culture, however, makes me sad and confused. What I look like should have no bearing on my hobbies, yet I know that it does. I want to be taken seriously, and not doubted because I'm a woman, and I believe that my stereotypically thick, black glasses help with that. Actually, I have no idea if I'm currently taken seriously. Perhaps it's media brainwashing that makes me think I'm being taken seriously, when really, glasses or no, it won't make a difference at all? Glasses don't stop people from being sexist, obviously.

In case you're wondering, I've decided to take up the lasik offer for my birthday next year. I've been letting someone else check my eyes for me when they're bothering me (as a form of practice), and Iwant to buy some eye drops for practice as well. I have to remind myself that my glasses are simply something that people see, and they don't have any bearing on who I am or my hobbies. I have plenty of geeky and gamer friends who don't have glasses, and I don't doubt their interest in the culture. If I ever want to wear my old frames for comfort's sake, and I get grief for being "fake", I can really only smile and say, "I wore glasses for twenty years. Fuck off." Ultimately, being free of a stereotype will be nice! I know that being glasses-free will have zero affect on my passions, and I can simply step back and allow my work to speak for itself.


*I totally made that header.
** The 'fake geek girl' thing is a whole different can of worms, and I will not be opening it in this article.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Turn Driving into a Game! Sort of.

While cruising around in your car, have you ever thought to yourself, "All of this driving business is great, but it would be evenbetter if it were a game!"? I'm going to go ahead and guess that yes, many of you have thought that, because we're all gamers and that's what we do. When you were little and in the back seat did you ever play visual games with mail boxes, tree tops, and power lines? I definitely did! But, now I'm a dull grown up who has to pay attention to the road so I don't, you know, hit anyone or anything.

I think I deviated from my point.

I'm here today to talk about Waze, the gamified map and driving app for iPhone and Android!

First up, it's free, so there's no excuse to not have it. And second, with Waze, the user gets far more than just a navigation app. They're also given real time traffic updates, stopped traffic warnings, heads up for police officers, and general tips and information about the road before them. Places where traffic is tremendously slowed down will show as yellowish or red, along with the current speed limit that other Wazers are reporting. This is all done through honest cooperation from other Waze users that are on the road. One look at your app's map and you'll see your streets and journey stretching out before you, all the while speckled with instantly recognizable symbols about what asphalt mysteries lie ahead.

The app stops you from typing anything if it senses the car moving (yay satellites and survelliance!), so it is of course the better and smarter idea to explore the ins and outs of Waze while you'renot driving. Either take time to learn it as a passenger, (there's an option to go 'wait I'm a passenger!' when it stops you from typing anything while in motion) or while you're just chilling outside of your car. I took mine for a spin while I was riding in the back seat on a family trip in Ohio a few weeks ago. It did pretty well even though reception was spotty (we were in the far, far wilderness of Western Ohio), and I was able to learn a lot about the surrounding cities and areas because of the detailed name feature within the app.

I legitimately had way too much fun reporting traffic slow downs, stopped cars, debris on the road, and cops up ahead. With just two taps I was able to report these things in real time and have them immediately apply to the map of all other Wazers in the area. Whenever a user reports things like this, points are added to their profile. As soon as you reach 100 points, or maybe it was 1000, you graduate from baby to, well, regular I guess. From there you're able to pick a special icon for how you'll be displayed to other drivers!

I picked the little geekette, of course.

This simple act of gamification, contributing information in exchange for a visible rank, has created a totally viable and smoothly functioning community where drivers can depend on other users to help them determine the best route options. My sister's husband was telling me that they used it while driving in the city a while back; they were able to see slow downs up ahead on one freeway, so they'd switch to a different freeway so as not to lose speed. He said it worked incredibly well.

Waze has a great and simple user interface: it's responsive, accurate, and fun! At this point I find myself using it even if I don't need it, simply to see what's happening in the surrounding area. Just tonight I learned that there are three cops in one spot a few miles away. So, I'll definitely be avoiding whatever intense situation is going down on that side of town.

Any other Wazers out there? Tell me what you love best about Waze!


Friday, August 16, 2013

Kentucky Fried 'Justified'

OK, so that's a ridiculous title, but bear with me! Two weeks ago I was in the Ohio/Kentucky area for a family reunion, and part of the trip involved visiting Kentucky because Morgan here is a huge fan of the show 'Justified'. I asked if he'd be willing to guest write a little something for you all, because I've never seen the show but I hear that it's good. If you already watch the show then you should leave a comment telling us your favorite part or character! If you don't watch it yet, then get ready to hear about how fantastic it is!


'Justified' follows the story of Raylan Givens, a US Marshal who, after justifiably taking the law into his own hands to the displeasure of his superior, is sent back to his hometown of Harlan, Kentucky as a form of "lay low" punishment for his vigilante-esque actions. Once home, he's welcomed by the local law enforcement and quickly settles in to rounding up the local flavor.

Through the first season, we see Raylan struggle with being back in the home that he deliberately left; reasons include an ex wife, a hated father, and a general round of ignorance. The persona of Raylan has a strong sense of right and wrong, and knows what he should do, but also constantly struggles with his own anger and his desire to pretty much kill everyone who does something wrong. His own safety, and the safety of others, tends to override the law. All the same, he's not above calm conversation! In the first episode we see him talk down a dim-witted shotgun wielder, and later in the show he warns an offender that one more step means getting shot. He's a bit of an anti hero that you don't feel badly about rooting for.

I'm sure this is someone's OTP. Source.

The counter point to Raylan is Boyd Crowder, an army vet and white supremacist who, after the first episode, will become your favorite character. Once the show finds its groove, the dynamic between Raylan and Boyd takes center stage in a fascinating exchange of law versus criminal. While Raylan aims to uphold justice, even if that means a shooting spree, Boyd is a criminal who manages to do good in the name of God.

A large draw of 'Justified' is the fact that it's set in Kentucky. It wouldn't be nearly as appealing if it were a cop show in a city such as New York or Los Angeles. In a large city setting a lot of the dynamic, story, and characters would have to rely on cell phones, street signs, and an overload of modern life in general. Since Raylan is in his home town, he relies on life-long knowledge of the area, as well as rapport with people he's known since he was a child. They don't necessarily like him, but they know him, so they are ocassionally willing to help. Shows set in the city are cliche personality wise, not just cop type roles, but also the citizens. You know what you'll get to an extent in the South, but it's a different avenue; one not seen nearly as frequently. The variety is appreciated amidst the usual sea of gritty dark streets.

Look at that glorious background foliage. Source.

The feel of the show is mostly drama, but there's a generous serving of comedy as well. It's not the normal comedy you'd think, but the special kind that springs from dire situations. They happen to run rampant in 'Justified'. It's more serious comedy though, adult comedy if you will, which is to be expected from an FX aired TV MA show. The best part is that it doesn't take the normal route of most scripted shows. For instance, you might be able to predict what will happen in a season, but you won't be able to predict how you get there. The routes and the paths to the destination, no matter what it might be, are very random and new. The writers have specifically stated that they are 100% willing to change direction at the drop of a hat, which makes it more realistic than other shows because that's how life is. If they have an idea that they think works better, they'll adandon whatever they were going to do and just run with it.

Season four just wrapped in April of this year, and season five is due to air in January or February of 2014. Now is a great time to dive in if you're searching for a lesser traveled cop/sheriff/law what-have-you show. Oh, and it stars Timothy "The Elephant" Olyphant, so that should be a big draw for most people.

timothy olyphant justified
Big draw. Source.


So what do you think? Will you be adding 'Justified' to your TV roster anytime soon?


*Header image source

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Late to the Game: The Wind Waker

I haven't been spending a whole lot of cash on new video games lately. This is mostly due to few new releases that I have been itching to play. That, and the fact that I've got a pretty extensive collection of games (some of which I, admittedly, have not beaten) to comb through and conquer. Whether it's a game that I never accomplished as a youngling or something that never sparked my interest right away, I definitely have more than enough material to keep me occupied while I wait for things that I actually wantto be released. This brings us to the subject matter of a little game review segment I lovingly refer to as "Late to the Game."

The focus this time around is Nintendo's critically acclaimed addition to the Zelda franchise, "The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker."

Now, I was reluctant to get into this game from the start because I was incredibly put off by the choice of cell-shading as opposed to a graphical style similar to "Ocarina of Time." I know, I know, graphics shouldn't dictate whether a game is worth playing, but I just could


get past how goofy The Wind Waker looks! I'll admit that the mindset was a bit shallow, but come on:

Wat. Source

Initially, my only exposure to The Wind Waker was the short demo that came with my Collector's Edition disc. It offered a couple of different gameplay scenarios, yet even with the variety I was still unimpressed. It wasn't until I decided I would force my way through The Wind Waker for the sake of literature that I saw it through to the end. My pros for this title are somewhat slim in comparison to someone who may have trulyloved the game, which may disappoint some of you, but I'm going to be as objective as I can.

The Soundtrack


: Like every other Zelda title, The Wind Waker did not disappoint in the name of musical accompaniment. The title music lends a very nautical, adventurous feeling which is indicative of the story you're about to play. My personal favorite piece is probably Outset Island which isn't surprising since the village themes are always good. Additionally, the music throughout was fitting to the cartoony feel. A particularly impressive use of music was the nearly silent hum of notes the player hears when first encountering Hyrule Castle. It lent the perfect feeling of eeriness and unknown to the situation and accomplished its goal perfectly.


: Though the music was fitting with the happy-go-lucky, carefree feel of the rest of the game, it made it difficult for me to take some situations seriously: battle music wasn't very intense, few dungeon pieces offered a real sense of mystery, boss battles lent no sense of urgency... I could go on. Where the village themes were in perfect sync with the overall game feel, other pieces offered up no variety; no tension, no remorse... just a tad disappointing.

You would think that since music has such a heavy hand in this game it would have had a better presence. Source

The Gameplay


: The game plays just like any other Zelda title. Controls are smooth and easy to grasp, and situations give you enough time to learn how to effectively use new items, some of which can be very fun in battle as well as casually. Dungeons are trying at times and definitely exercise your abilities.


: As with Ocarina of Time, your available item slots are limited. While it seemed that the most pain-in-the-ass thing about OoT was switching items out for the Iron Boots in the Water Temple, switching between items in The Wind Waker was downright tedious. Some items were very one-note in their functionality and could have been condensed together to cut down on how many times you have to stop playing, open the menu, swap an item out, use the item, walk forward, open the menu, swap the item again, and then continue on.

There isn't really an image that effectively convey all aspects of the gameplay, so here's Link being an asshole. Source

The Open World


: The world being entirely flooded, with the exception of a few islands, gives the player plenty of space to explore. Just about every island has an activity to accomplish in order to gain an item relevant to the story, be it the main quest or a side quest. Also, no load times, which is always nice!


: THERE IS NOTHING TO DO. Sure, when you get to the island you're headed for you've got things to hack and slash at, but when you're just poking along on the water, there is nothing to keep you entertained. Mob of enemies coming your way? Sail straight, they won't even touch you. I'm serious! The only time I stopped while in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by enemies mind you, was if I needed some rupees. The mobs can literally be avoided altogether. For the most part, I could set sail in one direction, go to the kitchen for a snack, and come back to resume playing. Save for the intermittent rupee slalom, it just feels empty. That, to me, is a let down. The open world could have been made so much better if there were at least things to look at while you were blowing through the water! Stopping every few minutes to change the direction the wind blows is also an annoying hindrance.

That about sums it up. Source

The Story

This is where the waters get the murkiest and I don't truly feel like I can discern proper pros and cons. The story was good, I liked it for the most part, but the execution was just terrible. It's like every good nugget I come up with has an equally horrible (or worse) counterpart. This is the first title in which Link isn't called to duty as "the hero," he is simply out to save his little sister. It isn't until near the end of the game that you discover he is actually a descendant of the heroic line. That aspect is pretty neat.

Humble beginnings. Source

Discovering Hyrule underwater was a very cool and grand reveal, but you


explore any of it! The castle was one big open room and once you were able to move outside of it your only available route was straight to the next dungeon. I do, of course, understand data limitations on the Gamecube discs, it was just saddening that you couldn't roam around some dry land without having to get into your boat at some point.
The most brutal injustice done to gamers in this story is the incredible downplay of Ganondorf and the depth his character had to offer to The Wind Waker. All you really know about him is that he is kidnapping girls with long ears (in an attempt to find Zelda/the Triforce of Wisdom) and that is essentially all you get for almost the full length of the game. It isn't until near the end that Ganondorf drops


of golden plot devices that are never fleshed out or explored in any way. His character has so much tragedy, anger, and malice, and it never goes beyond him being "the bad guy" and I was


by the wasted potential. Wind Waker's incarnation of Ganondorf was easily the most relatable and human (for lack of a better term) that we'd ever seen, and it was a travesty to not have that expanded upon.

This is probably the first and only time I would employ the phrase "So deep" without an ounce of sarcasm. Source

All in all, I am glad that I have finally beaten The Wind Waker. As one of my favorite franchises, I feel it is a duty to see each story through to the end, regardless of how painful it might be. I appreciate the experience, though I don't really feel the need to play through the game another time. Maybe one day for nostalgia's sake, but nothing in the foreseeable future.
I'm sure plenty of you out there have your own opinions on The Wind Waker, so share them with me! What here did you identify with? What makes you want to slap me across the face in disagreement? Let me know!


*Header image courtesy of FanPop

Monday, August 12, 2013

Video Game Character Spotlight: Scorpion

Ninjas are awesome. This is a fundamental truth about the universe and long after the human race is gone, other civilizations will arise to practice their own form of ninjutsu and B-rated Kung Fu movies. Being a ninja requires skill, strength, and an inborn desire to walk up walls to make gravity your bitch. But more than this, a ninja needs a purpose, something to drive the ninja to become the very best badass they can possibly be. And what better purpose could there be than to rise from hell itself to avenge the murder of your entire family? This is what drives one of the most hardcore ninjas of video gaming, the chain-slinging, “GET OVER HERE!” shouting ninja named Scorpion, of the Mortal Kombat series. Known throughout the gaming community as one of the most recognized characters of the series, Scorpion is the hellspawn ninja that has fought his way since the early days of video gaming. Even as time has passed and controversies arose and fell, Scorpion has stood cool against the test of time.

“Obviously someone known for staying cool," Source.

But as to the history or background of Scorpion, little is known of the specter as his life is shrouded in mystery as it is with all great ninjas. What few fragments of his pre-ass-kicking life that we known is one filled with pain, anger and vengeance. Born as Hanzo Hasashi, he was originally from the ninja clan known as Shirai Ryu. But the Shirai Ryu were a rebel clan who defected from their rival ninja clan, Lin Kuei, after a disagreement of what we imagine was over who's turn it was to wash the blood off the dojo walls. But leaving the Lin Kuei was punishable by death, so they sent their best assassin to kill the Shirai Ryu clan: the stone-cold killer himself, Sub-Zero.

“We feel the urge to make a Mr. Freeze pun, but that wouldn't be very ice," Source.

As Sub-Zero laid waste to the Shirai Ryu clan, the would-be-ninja Hanzo tried to stop the assassination and end the icy reign of terror. But in the battle, he too fell at the hands of his cold opponent, casting his dead soul into the depths of the Netherrealm. In its fiery pits, his searing heart found the untameable desire for vengeance, transforming him into the wraith ninja we now know as Scorpion. He was given new abilities from the hellfire itself and used these skills to resurrect himself back onto Earth. From there, he entered the Mortal Kombat tournament in the hopes that he would be able to kill his longtime rival, Sub-Zero.

“Or become his best friend. We're sketchy on the details," Source.

During the events of the original Mortal Kombat, Scorpion finally manages to meet up with his hated enemy, effectively shoving his hand spear right through the heart of his frozen rival. When his goal is completed and his vengeance over, Scorpion then moves on to find new pursuits to employ his vast skills of murdering people in the face. He continues to enter the Mortal Kombat tournaments, finding new enemies to face and people that need to be avenged. Not willing to be intimidated by anyone, Scorpion has fought the best and most fearsome opponents, proving himself a lethal fighter against all.

“Lest we forget the time he tried to punch Batman in the dick," Source.

Over all these challenges, Scorpion has time and time again shown us what it truly means to be a ninja. For not only is he the badass who comes out on top against hundreds of enemies, but he is also purpose driven, never giving up his goal. He fills his being with the determination and will of the ninja, improving upon himself and his skills. What lies in the future for this hellspawn brawler is uncertain. Perhaps he'll put a fatality on the whole universe that dares to challenge him. Or maybe he will find redemption with his soul, make peace with his enemies and get his very own sitcom.


Header Image Source.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Fun Find: Casetagram

Today's Fun Find from the Internet is Casetagram, a fully customizable phone case made out of your Instagram photos! Actually, not just your Instagram photos. Users can also pull over Facebook pictures, and upload images from their computers as well! The website offers a wide variety of phone cases to choose from, too, so this isn't an Apple Only club!

casetagram phone options
Thrown together from

Prices are reasonable, with iPhone 4/4s cases being only $34.95 (prices do vary depending on your phone model), plus free worldwide shipping. The website includes a simple to use drag-and-drop interface to assist the user in creating their custom case. Casetagram even includes pre-made templates to help with the design process. Once you've chosen your phone brand, you can immediately begin importing pictures. From there you drag and drop your images onto the phone template. So simple! Users canchange the template as many times as they want to suit their needs and find the best layout for their work! Note that changing the template does erase the images that you've dragged over.You can also have your choice of clear,black or white for the case, and Casetagram even includes Instagram-esque filters to apply to your completed design.

I originally learned about Casetagram from The Dainty Squid, a wonderful blog that I love to read. Kaylah posted about her new custom case (covered in pictures of her kitties!) and I was immediately intrigued! Sadly, I have no kitties to photograph :[ I do, however, have tons of video game photography! Check out the case I designed for funsies!

casetagram 4s mockup video games

Users can save their designs into a gallery on the Casetagram website for future viewing and purchase. They can make as many designs as they want, it would appear, and can even submit their cases into the Challenge to try and win prizes!Creations can only be purchased by the user unless they submit it for considerationto the Collection section. If you have a great design, why not put it up for sale?

Unfortunately I can't speak as to the sturdiness of the case, but from The Dainty Squid's picture it looks as though the print quality is quite high! I think it's time for me to squirrel away some cash and save for the video game iPhone case of my dreams!

Have youused Casetagram? If you've made any creations then we'd love to see them! Just send us a link in the comments : )


*header image from

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

10 Reasons I’m Still On the Fence About Xbox One

Okay, I know this is a very sensitive subject, whether you're an avid Xbox fan, a PlayStation fan, or you just don't give a shit and just want to play Pikmin 3 on your Wii U all day. The announcement of the Xbox One and all it's...ahem...accoutrements is the most controversial thing that's happened in the gaming world since PSN got hacked in 2012. I hoped so hard that when the announcement of the new platform from Microsoft came I'd want to jump online and preorder it right away. I hoped for a smaller body. Built-in Kinect. No more expensive subscriptions to access Netflix and Hulu from my dashboard. What I did not ask for was a lot of what I got. And although Microsoft has made some necessary changes after hearing our screams of horror and disppointment, I find I'm still on the fence about Xbox One.

10. All in one I need it?

I love having Netflix, Hulu, and Youtube on my dashboard. It's awesome being able to access all my favorite movies and shows on my big screen, not to mention youtubing the latest GameGrumps epsiode whenever Zach and I need a laugh. But honestly, that's really the only non-gaming thing I use my 360 for. The Xbox One features a multi-tasking processor: flip back and forth between chatting with your friends, watching a movie, and playing your favorite game. Maybe I'm different from most others, but if I'm playing Skyrim and you won't stop messaging me or inviting me to your "Netflix Movie Party" you are no longer my friend and I hate you. Needless to say, I don't need or want this feature. Also, 500 gb? Really? Do you think I'm going to use that? At this point, I think the number of GB companies put on the box is just a gimmick for us to say, "What a great deal! Look at all that GB!".

The point is, I can't see myself using most of the features the Xbox One is offering, because I hardly use most of the features the 360 currently offers.

9. Mixed signals: Stop playing with my emotions, Microsoft!

Can you guys just make up your minds already? First you make all these announcements that are just awful, then you're RUDE to us for complaining, then you fire the guy who was being rude and change every feature you already announced at E3, some of which I'm still REALLY not clear on. I mean, did you run those initial plans by any sort of consumer panel? Because I'm pretty sure if you had, you would have saved yourselves a lot of trouble before your E3 disaster. Now when I visit the Microsoft Store online to get some answers, I'm distracted by a barrage of green advertisements promising the all-in-one console of the future, but no real clarification as to WHAT I'M ACTUALLY PURCHASING. If you changed the always-on policy, then tell me. If you changed the internet check in policy, then tell me. If I can buy a game and let my friend borrow it, then PLEASE TELL ME. Because seriously, I'm really confused.

Luckily Marc Whitten, Chief Xbox One Platform Architect sat down with IGN to answer some questions from fans. Unfortunately, they were hand-picked by Microsoft, so none of the questions have anything to do with what any of us are confused about.

8. I'll have no choice but to use kinect. Is this good or bad?

Part of Xbox One's new streamlined technology is the integrated use of the Kinect. Voice activation, custom avatars, and games that work seamlessly with the motion-activated system are all selling points of the new platform. Since Kinect comes bundled with the Xbox One, no one will have to worry about the system not living up to it's full potential.

But do I really care?

Not only are there not any real exciting titles that use Kinect (I'll get more into that later), but I don't feel the need to talk to my Xbox. I think it might be best for it's sentient soul if it doesn't absorb and understand the string of
horrible profanities aimed at it when it inevitably lags.

At any rate, Kinect has never appealed to my desires, and still doesn't. But if I choose to buy the Xbox One, I'll be forced to not only purchase the Kinect (since it's bundled) but to use it as well. Not sure I'm ready for that.

7. No more red ring of death! Probably.

Apparently you can turn your Xbox One on, not turn it off for ten years, and have zero issues. Now, first of all, this is a stupid idea. Do I need to list why? (I feel I need to address that it's a HUGE waste of energy, in case you didn't realize.) Second, I highly doubt that's true.

The Xbox one comes with a large (reportedly quiet) fan and a monstrous heat sink, which will solve any overheating problems that you may have previously experienced with the Xbox 360. I am impressed that they addressed that issue despite all of the flack they've taken for the dreaded Red Rings of Death over the years. Microsoft doesn't want to deal with the headache of warranties and replacements any more than we do, so this is one subject I am on board with as far as changes in the new platform go. I am, however, hesitant when it comes to any new bugs the One may run into in it's first year on the market, as any smart consumer should be.

6. I need more exciting titles at launch.

Short and sweet. I need the promise of new and exciting titles!

Give me Skyrim with a badass sword controller! Mass Effect with an Omni-Blade! ANYTHING BUT HALO AND ASSASIN'S CREED!

5. The Cloud. Do I trust it?

Well? Do I? I mean...all my info, just floating around in space? Not safely stored in my hard drive? I don't know how to feel about that. If I'm considering my music, movies, pictures, and videos...I want them stored somewhere solid. Somewhere I can physically pick them up and take them with me. Maybe I'm old fashioned. But something about the Cloud makes me feel a little nervous.

4. Visually beautiful! But so is the Ps4.

1080p gameplay is a beautiful thing. Which is why it's been done before. So what else has Microsoft come up with to gently caress our eyeballs and make us go, "Oooh, yeah, I like that."?

Well, according to their website, they promise "the perfect balance of power and performance. In addition to Xbox One’s revolutionary architecture, the combination of its CPU, GPU and ESRAM is like having a supercomputer in your living room. But raw power is nothing without speed. So the Xbox One uses its power more effectively, creating lightning fast experiences unlike anything you’ve had before.". So less lag, less glitching, smoother, faster performance and gameplay. No complaints here.

3. New features! Are they worth it?

As you may have read in the Q&A with Marc Whitten, we can look forward to a few new features on our Dashboards. Full-body HD Gamerpics are here, and in 1080p! Load up on makeup and photoshop, because your friends are going to see every detail of your disgusting face on their big-screen.

Next is Game DVR, which is a really cool concept: "With Game DVR and Xbox Live, it’s easy to capture your greatest game moments. Xbox One keeps a rolling record of your most recent gameplay, so you can go back and share replays with your friends on social networks and Xbox Live. And if you want to see what your friends have been up to, check out replays of their best moves, too." I feel as though they should have implemented it to it's fullest extent and gone the full 1080p/60fps with it (it only captures at 720p/30fps). Unfortunately, it also only captures five minute replay shots instead of 15 minutes like PlayStation. The clips save to "the cloud" in your own personal DVR collection.

2. Internet check-ins could make a comeback. Do not want.

"An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games – After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. There is no 24 hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360.
" -By Don Mattrick, President, Interactive Entertainment Business
Okay, okay, sounds good. But how did you disable that feature on such short notice? I find it difficult to believe you didn't just leave it in there to be activated at a later time. And before you guys get all mad at me about my conspiracy theories, read the forums! I'm not the only one suspicious of a future "update". source:

1. Too God Damn Expensive

Dude, I am not Tony Stark. If I was, I'd buy Microsoft and make some damn changes myself. In fact, Tony Stark would probably just rip the One apart and rebuild it to make the world's best console (he'd call it the TonyOne). All in all I cannot afford this console, so when my 360 finally kicks the bucket I'll just end up buying another 360.

What are your thoughts on the new Xbox One? Will you be buying it? Are you horrified? Thrilled? Let me know in the comments!


Friday, August 2, 2013

Starz ‘Outlander’ Series in 2014

At the end of June, Starz announced they would be doing a 16 episode TV series adaptation of Outlander, an internationally popularbook series written by Diana Gabaldon. As an avid fan of this epic, seven-book-going-on-eight-book-as-soon-as-the-next-one-releases, time traveling, science fiction, historical fiction, romance adventure series (what a mouthful!), I immediately freaked out. In a good way.Whenever I meet a self-proclaimed book lover or reader I tend to immediately suggest that they read the Outlander books.

The Outlander series, books one through seven, including the Companion book, the Lord John series, and other spin off titles. Source

Most might be all trepidation in the face of a TV adaptation of a beloved book series, but in light of the brilliance and success of theHBO/George R. R. Martin masterpiecethat isGame of Thrones, and the fact that Ron Moore (of Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek: TNG fame) is at the helm, I am feeling more than optimistic and excited. So much so that I created a tumblr dedicated to all things Outlander! Feel free to follow it if you want to stay in the loop on as much information as I can find about the show, in addition to quotes, fanart, and other Outlander-type tidbits!

Many times over the years Gabaldon has spoken publicly regarding movie versions of her series. She generally says that if the stars aligned and the right producers, offers, and actors came together then that would be great. However fans never seemed to be in favor of a movie release. I know that at the first mention of an Outlander film I thought to myself, "Surely they jest, this would need to be a TV show!"

Well, the time has come! Filming is set to begin in Scotland this coming fall, with an anticipated airing date of Spring 2014. The part of Jamie Fraser, one of the two main characters, has been filled by Sam Heughan(pronounced hew-en). He's a strapping young Scotsman with a background in theatre and a fantastic sense of humor. He can be found joyfully interacting with fans on Twitter and posting selfies on Instagram. The Outlander fanbase is currently frothing at the mouth wondering who will be cast as Claire, the protagonist of the story.

Heughan obligingly dyed his hair red for fans, seeing as Jamie is a firey ginger in the series. Source

It is Claire that we follow in this intense and epic tale.We find herin1940s Scotland while vacationing with her husband Frank. One day while picking medicinal plants, she falls through a cleft in a standing stone circle atop a hill and becomes mysteriously transported to1743 Scotland. This time travel is completewith all of the dangers and problems one might expect to find in the 18th Century. It is here that she meets Jamie. And then all hell breaks loose and it is amazing.

If you're looking for an involving, deep, thoughtful, and beautifully written new book series, then I suggest you pick up Outlander. Now is the perfect time to dive in! Book eight of the series, Written In My Own Heart's Blood, is due out next year, in addition to the launch of the TV show! I sincerely hope that the 16 episode run is a success; I can only assume that would mean they'd continue and make a season for each of the books! Then I might just fan-squeal myself to death.


*header image source

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