Thursday, September 25, 2014

Talkin' With Joel: Most Annoying Zelda Mini-Games (#8 - Horseback Archery Range)

Howzit everyone! In honor of tomorrow's release of Hyrule Warriors, today we're continuing our review and discussion of what I consider to be the most annoying mini-games from the Legend of Zelda series. And, of course, with us is our very special guest, Joel Suzuki of The Spectraland Saga!

B: Hey, Joel. So, are you excited about Hyrule Warriors?
J: Sure, yeah. Although technically, it's already been released - it came out in Japan on August 14th, in Europe on September 19th, and in Australia on September 20th.
B: Right! Okay, so, let's get on with it...

#8 - Horseback Archery Range (from Ocarina of Time)
B: My problem with this one - and a lot of the other shooting-type games - is that I have a really hard time lining up my aim quickly and accurately with the analog stick.
J: Okay.
B: And even when I get it lined up - like when I'm shooting the pots, for instance - for some reason it gets offline again and then everything gets all messed up. I think I tried this game forty or fifty times before I just gave up and moved on.
J: What was your high score?
B: I dunno, like 500 or something. What did you get?
J: 2000.
B: Whoa - isn't that a perfect score?
J: I think so, yeah.
B: That's just...amazing. I have no idea how you did that.
J: Me neither. But it actually wasn't that hard. Took me just a few tries.
B: You're kidding.
J: No.
B: Wow.
J: It's just a pattern, and knowing where your arrows are going to hit depending on where you're aiming.
B: Sounds like the Sight at work once again!
J: Huh?
B: Well, that's all the time we have for today. Don't forget - Hyrule Warriors, coming out tomorrow.
J: In North America.
B: I can't wait. See you next time!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Give More 24! And Other Happenings

Over the next 24 hours, you can do something awesome! From 7am on September 18th through 7am September 19th (Pacific time), you can help support Autism Empowerment by taking part in Give More 24, an online donation challenge organized by the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington. It's easy - just go to this link to make a donation. Yes, I know, you want to keep reading my blog, but I'll wait right here, I promise....
You're back! On behalf of Autism Empowerment, I thank you very much for your support.

So, what else has been going on? Oh yeah? Cool! As for me, I've been pretty busy on the band front. Second Player Score now has CDs, a stocked locker full of merchandise - t-shirts, stickers, buttons, picks, you name it - an official website, a YouTube channel, as well as airplay on a bunch of different online radio stations and podcasts. We've also booked our CD release party for November 1st at The Sandy Hut in Portland, with special guests Shot of Mercury, Stab In The Dark, and Kings & Vagabonds. Here's the album cover, designed by my son (he is awesome with the Adobe Illustrator and whatnot):
Any of you know which late '80s/early '90s video game inspired this? Hint: it spawned a popular "Engrish" Internet meme....

As for book-related happenings, I couldn't believe it myself, but it's almost time once again for the Portland Fall Home & Garden Show, featuring your friendly neighborhood NIWA authors. The show will take place from October 2-5 at the Expo Center, and I plan on being there Thursday evening, Friday evening, and Saturday morning. So mark your calendars!

And finally, in video game news, the verdict on Earthbound is in: it's really cool. I am so glad I discovered it.
It's fun, challenging, and quirky, and although other RPGs like The Last Story and Xenoblade still rank higher on my list of favorites, this one is right up there. Check it out if you haven't already.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Bulls-Eye Landing Coincidence Syndrome

One thing I never fail to notice - and that I like to think about from time to time (nerd alert!) - is an occurrence in movies and TV shows that I call the Bulls-Eye Landing Coincidence Syndrome, or BELCS, for short. This is when a character, usually the protagonist, arrives on a planet in less-than-planned fashion and immediately ends up right next to his or her intended destination. Not sure what I mean? Here are a couple of the best-known examples:

1) Luke Skywalker and Yoda
In Episode V, Luke is headed for the swamp planet of Dagobah (on a related note, why do entire planets always seem to be devoted to one type of terrain? Is the whole thing really just one big swamp?) where he needs to find a legendary Jedi master named Yoda. Then, basically, all of the instruments in his X-Wing fail, and he goes blindly plunging through the atmosphere until he crashes somewhere on the planet's surface. Not long afterwards, he runs into a small creepy green creature who turns out to be - voila! - Yoda. Wow, how about that?

2) Young Kirk and Old Spock
In the 2009 Star Trek reboot movie, Young Spock dumps Young Kirk off on an arctic planet (there we go again with the single-terrain planet thing) called Delta Vega after a failed mutiny attempt. Young Kirk gets chased by a big mean creature and then basically runs right into Old Spock, who had himself been dumped off on Delta Vega by Nero, a Romulan who wanted Old Spock to watch the destruction of Vulcan.

In both of these examples, entire planets are reduced to areas that are seemingly not much bigger than, say, a football field or so. And yes, I realize that this is done in order to move the plot along and keep things in sync, but it just seems funny, is all.

Also, both of these examples have been explained, more or less, in an Expanded Universe novel and a deleted scene, so, okay, I'll accept it. And sometimes, don't we all experience fortunate coincidences in our own, actual lives? So, as this article says, as long as BELCS isn't overdone, then hey, it's cool with me, and probably with you, too.

Although, just for fun, one day I'd like to see a movie where the main character lands on a planet and then travels for decades through all sorts of different landscapes in search of whoever it is he wanted to find. Or, well, maybe not...

Thursday, September 4, 2014

My Musical History, Episode 14: Inazan Turns Into Something Else Entirely

Inazan got off to a good start. We played our first show at one of the few local venues to sport their own marquee, and it was pretty cool to see "Inazan" - spelled correctly, even - in big letters visible from the other side of the street.
After the show, however, there were signs of discontent. For my part, I didn't feel that my vocals suited our particular sound, and frankly, I wanted to take a break from singing anyway and just concentrate on playing guitar for once. We carried on with the status quo intact for a while until one day, I suggested that we look for another member - preferably, someone who could take over the vocal chores.

So it was back to Craigslist we went. Not long afterwards, we found a singer/guitarist who fit in well, and we officially became a four-piece. With the new sound and direction, we decided that we needed a new name as well (besides, people were having a hard time pronouncing "Inazan.") After a lengthy and exhausting process - why is picking a band name always so difficult? - we finally settled on Council Crest, the name of a hill in Portland that is popular with hikers.

Council Crest motored along for a few years, and it was a good time. I got to play at a bunch of clubs that I hadn't played at before, and being just the "lead guitar" guy instead of the frontman and de facto band manager was a welcome change from what I had grown accustomed to. We had some personnel changes along the way, even expanding to a five-piece at one point, but overall, things were pretty stable.

For a while, that is. Eventually, the momentum started to slow down - bass player #3 (or was it #4? I can't remember) decided to quit, we had moved to a public practice space, and honestly, the whole thing started to feel more and more like work instead of fun. And so, Council Crest, formerly Inazan, was put to rest.

At this point, I was feeling pretty burnt out. It was a different feeling from when Upper80 ended - at that time, I wanted to take a break, but I think I always knew (maybe subconsciously) that I would get back to it one day, probably sooner than later. But this time, I seriously considered the possibility that this was it - that I was done playing in bands for good.

Next: A Second Chance