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Idiot Box – Page 2

Let’s Laugh At Americans

I’ve never really been a fan of King of the Hill. I would sometimes watch it (or have it on in the background while playing video games) on Sunday nights when it was on between all the other shows I wanted to watch. But it was never something I would have said I liked.

Which makes one wonder why I’ve recently decided to dive in and see how far into the series I can get before getting tired of it. There are thirteen seasons! I would have guessed ten at most.

To the point, I’ve finished the first season, and it’s been… okay. I like the idea of exploring how ignorant Americans are, but it isn’t terribly funny. Mostly just groan-worthy and/or uncomfortable. That said, it seems like there’s one exceptionally funny punchline in each episode. The best example, and easily my favourite moment in the series so far is this line:

Maybe it’s just me, but I cracked up hard at that. I hurt myself laughing. It’s not the funniest line, but the whole scene really made it work. Something about the perfectly flat delivery and how unexpected it was. Peggy immediately leaving without saying a word was the perfect response.

Will season two have a similar moment? Will it have more than one? I don’t know, but I’m sure as heck probably going to find out soon eventually.

Ryan’s Bizarre Blog Post

Bear with me a moment here, this is a difficult thing to talk about… I’ve… been watching a lot of anime this year. “A lot” for me, of course, is basically just any value higher than zero. Still, it’s a thing that’s been happening with an alarming frequency. And it’s all Netflix’s fault.

First I watched Neon Genesis Evangelion and its two film follow-ups, which I kind of hated. I don’t know. I guess you had to be there. Then I watched Devilman Crybaby, which was unbearably dull until the last three episodes where it went bonkers and I really got into it. Now I’m going through JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. This seems to be currently “in” with the internet nerds everywhere, but it’s not really landing for me.

I want to like JoJo. I really do. The premise – generations of heroes carrying on an eternal battle against immortal foes – is certainly interesting to me. It smacks of Castlevania, but without the gothic theme and Universal Monsters. Jojo‘s battles are usually cool, with neat twists and flashy magic powers and all that stuff you’d expect. Plus, the art! It’s a little weird, but I think that’s what I appreciate about it. Great visual style. Lots of panache. And the ending theme is “Roundabout” by Yes, which is an excellent way to make sure your show always ends on a good note.

But then there’s the exposition. I kid you not, Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure is roughly 90% exposition by volume. You could probably condense and entire story arc into a single episode if you cut out every instance of a character over-describing what’s happening. It’s bad. It’s really bad. And it’s making the show so hard for me to really get into. I’m a couple episodes into the second story arc (with the pillar man), but I don’t know if I care enough to keep putting up with it. Word on the reddit is that it gets better, but my time is precious and I’d prefer to squander it on something I can really dig.

Looking at the bigger picture, the exposition problem is one of the major things that’s kept me disinterested in anime in general. I think it generally stems from Dragon Ball Z, which was hot when I was younger, and I wanted to like it, but got annoyed because it was mostly just the characters endlessly describing whatever was going on. Or endlessly grunting as they charged up special moves. To be honest, I don’t know if this really is a problem with anime in general, but it seems like it gets parodied a lot, so maybe I’m not just making things up? I remember Shaman King having the same problem, but I can’t be sure. If it did, I somehow managed to get over it because I was completely fascinated by the lore of that one.

Anyway, I think my point stands: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure sure seems like the kind of show that I would like, but in practice, it’s got one major flaw that really turns me off. I wish I could push past it, but every time friggin’ Speedwagon opens his mouth, I shout at the screen “Show, don’t tell!”

My Opinion Has Certainly Risen

Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles doesn’t officially start airing until September, but I guess you can already watch a few episodes on the Nickelodeon app or something? Anyway, those episodes are all available online, and so of course I immediately watched them all.

While I was as wary as anyone when the Rise character designs were initially revealed, I came around on them pretty quick, appreciating the unique look that Nick is bringing to their second TMNT series. I’ve been following the little previews on social media, and I loved the new theme song since my first listen. Now that I’ve actually watched the show? It’s really great!

As per usual, there are many loud detractors online, being complete dicks about this new iteration of the TMNT. While some of the more mature folks raise perfectly valid points (the animation style is not my favourite), the bellyaching mostly boils down to “this is different than previous TMNT” which, in my opinion, is ridiculous and stupid. And I can’t stress that enough.

Of course it’s different. Rise is a new show with a new target demo in mind. This is one of the things I hate most about when a franchise lives long enough to see a remake or a reboot: so many fans think it should just be the same thing over again, but new. But what would be the point of that? If you’re just going to rehash the exact same thing, why even bother? And to the angry fan: why be so pissed off about a change to an established property? The old series that you love and cherish (clearly a little too much) is still there for you to enjoy. Nobody’s taking that away.

Change is constant and inevitable. Especially in the world of consumer media, it’s absolutely necessary to stay relevant. And while not every change ends up being a winner, at least it means that there are creative people out there who are willing to try new things. And you know what? A lot of the time, changes can work out just fine, as long as you’re open-minded enough to give them a fair shot. It seems so dumb to me, to be so pointlessly butthurt over something so trivial, when you could instead just go with the flow and have a great time.

But enough of that tangent! I do really like Rise of the TMNT! I would have liked the animation to be a little smoother, but it’s a really fun show that does a great job of reinventing the Turtles. They’re all different species this time! That’s awesome! NEW APRIL KICKS BUTT! The villains are all new instead of leaning on the Shredder yet again! One of the early baddies is an animatronic bear, which is absolutely something that will resonate with a modern audience. I’ll admit that the show’s style is maybe a little more in-your-face than I would like, but I still think it’s doing a great job of walking the line between action and comedy. Specifically, Donatello is deadpan gold this time around and I love it. The “Repo Mantis” episode gives us a rare focus on Donnie and Mikey and it is absolute beauty from start to finish.

With all that said, for a show that I was very unsure about at first, I am now 100% on board with Rise, and I cannot –cannot– wait for more episodes.

Hypnosis: Negative

Last weekend, I was watching the new episodes of Game Theory and Film Theory, because apparently I’m that kind of person now. This week’s Film Theory was on the neuralyzers from Men in Black, and whether or not they are plausible devices. What interested me more than the actual video, though, was when MatPat briefly mentioned the website Unspoil Me.

Unspoil Me, as I am now aware, is a weird marketing tactic for Samsung’s OLED TVs. It’s a site that claims to host a video that can hypnotize you into forgetting any TV series you choose so that you can watch it again as if it’s the first time. I thought it was highly dubious, but MatPat claimed that it actually worked for one of their behind-the-scenes guys, so I figured there wouldn’t be any harm in just checking it out. Good for a story, if nothing else.

Of course, me being me, I decided to go a bit of a different way with it. I’ve always wished that I could just flush my knowledge of certain video games away so that I could play them again with fresh eyes. So I opted to try to seal away my memories of Kirby’s Adventure for NES. I’ve played it roughly a billion times, and it’s not like it’s an especially complex game, but there are a few wild moments that I’d like to see again for the first time, and I’d love to not know where all the secrets are.

First problem: The Unspoil Me website is completely in English, but the video is all… Swedish. It’s not very helpful for someone who doesn’t know a word of the language (outside of key phrases like “poot da chicky een da poot” and “bork bork bork”). So after wrestling with it for a while across multiple devices and having no luck, it finally occurred to me what I should have done from the very beginning: look it up on YouTube (I’m not especially intelligent).

So I queued up the video, plugged my headphones into the Dualshock 4, and laid down real comfy on the couch. I started it up, and took it in. It was kind of a wild ride, just laying there, eyes closed, while a soothing voice alternates between talking nonsense about trees and asking you to think about and visualize different things. The video is 23 minutes long, but it flew by in what felt like no time. Regardless of whether the memory-blocking part of the hypnosis worked or not, it was  thoroughly relaxing. I might look into other things like this just to de-stress every once in a while.

The voice in the video made it clear that this wouldn’t have immediate effects, and that I would need to get an overnight sleep before it would really take hold in my brain. So I went the rest of the day not thinking about hypnosis or Kirby’s Adventure and went to bed at night as normal. The next morning I woke up and immediately recalled every boss fight in the game. Put the music to every stage. Recalled that the stupidly hard cannon to get into in that one Rainbow Resort stage only leads to a few 1-ups. I could probably tell you every stage which holds a secret switch.

So the experiment was a grand failure. I didn’t even need to boot up the game to know that I hadn’t forgotten a darn thing about it. But it’s not as if I actually expected the hypnosis to work. But then, maybe it was something on my end. Maybe I should’ve stuck to a TV series. Maybe it didn’t take because I didn’t get a good night’s sleep. Maybe I nodded off a little during the video. Or maybe it really is just some silly hippy-dippy garbage. There’s no way to know for sure.

UNLESS I TRY AGAIN.

Which… I may do at some point. I do want to go in with a TV series in mind just to see if it would actually work, but I have no idea which TV series to choose. Gilmore Girls seems like the lock, but it’s seven seasons of 45-minute episodes. That’s a huge commitment. Undergrads would be a nice, short re-watch, but it’s so deeply ingrained in my mind that I don’t think it could be hypnotized out of there. Like, I quote Undergrads all the time; I wonder if the hypnosis would stop that, or if I just wouldn’t know I’m quoting something? Actually, now I really want to find out!

I mean… not that I believe this hypnosis this is going to work. I just… it’s an interesting thought that I wish I could test somehow.

Anyway, I guess I’ll write another thing if I ever do actually try to hypnotize a TV show out of my mind. I have this feeling that it’s not going to happen because I won’t care enough to make time for it again. Like most things.

 

A forking good show

Over the course of the weekend, I watched the entire first season of The Good Place. Normally I don’t like to binge-watch shows like that (I don’t even like having to use the term “binge-watch”), but I simply could not bear to have to wait any longer to see what was going to happen next. It’s not entirely unlike how I recently watched the entire second season of Attack on Titan in a single day. When there are mysteries to unravel, I just can’t leave them ravelled. I thirst for answers.

The difference between said shows is that I was left cold and disappointed by Attack on Titan, whereas the ending of The Good Place blew my mind and left me wanting more.

Let’s start from the start; in most realities, I haven’t and will never watch this show. In this particular universe, however, I heard an offhand comment about how it was good on a podcast. Interest piqued, I did a Google search. Okay, stars Ted Danson. I’m about 75% on board. I read the Wikipedia summary. It has a well-received twist ending. 100% on board. Checked Netflix, season one is available. Yep, I’m watching this now.

As much as I adore Ted Danson (and he is charming and wonderful here), the real star of the show is Kristen Bell. Now, the only thing I’ve ever watched where she has a starring role is Forgetting Sarah Marshall. And that didn’t leave much of an impression on me in any way. In The Good Place, however, she is so fantastic. In fact, all of the main characters are. Even the ones who are supposed to be a little more annoying come off as lovable in their own ways.

The premise of the show is that Kristen Bell died and has gone to The Good Place, which is essentially Heaven or whatever, with Ted Danson as the goofy administrator. Only in this universe, The Good Place only accepts the very best people, of which she is definitely not. So the first half of the season focuses on her trying not to get caught as a impostor and working to become a better person so that she can actually belong there. There’s a pretty significant shift about halfway through, and every episode ends on an insane cliffhanger, which practically forces you to keep watching if you’re streaming. It would have been an absolute nightmare to have to wait week-by-week for new episodes.

The ending, which I noted earlier was well-received, is in fact awesome. Not because of the twist itself, but because I imagine that it will completely shift the dynamic of the show’s second season. S2 is actually already halfway through, and I’m sitting here with bated breath, waiting desperately for it to end and get uploaded to Netflix. There are so many questions left unanswered, and I am so excited to see where they take it from here. Honestly, I get the same feelings from The Good Place that I did from the early seasons of LOST. And that’s great! The big difference is that The Good Place is firmly wrapped in comedy, with only minor splashes of drama thrown in to keep an even pace.

Obviously, I recommend giving this a chance. If you aren’t won over by the stellar cast and excellent range of jokes, the ending of the first episode should get you. It definitely makes a strong impression. I want to type a description of what happens because it’s unbelievable, but I think it’s best left as a surprise. You will not see it coming. And it really only gets better from there.

The longest week ever

It’s finally here! Today marks the day of Super Mario Odyssey‘s release! Wa-hoo!

Making it to Friday has been a bit of a trial, however. First and foremost, I have been having some severe issues with sleeping this week, so I am crazy overtired. Having to spend three hours in a statistics class last night did not help the situation.

Actually, the whole lack of sleep thing is really about the only thing that’s really causing me problems. It started snowing yesterday and now the world is coated in a thin and very slippery sheet of ice, but that’s minimal. I don’t go outside all that often anyway, and I’m good about dressing warmly to deal with the sub-zero temperatures.

Of note is that I also had a mid-term exam in the aforementioned statistics class on Tuesday. Which was a great source of anxiety in the days prior, and probably contributed some to my restlessness on the Sunday night. Monday night I would have slept like a baby if not for the jerkhole what lives below me that has seen fit to start very loud phone/Skype conversations every night at midnight this week. And he won’t stop or talk more quietly no matter how much I stomp on my floor. T_T

I am not completely innocent in my sleep deprivation, either. While I have been kept awake by outside sources (namely that loud-talking downstairs neighbour) for the other nights this week, I went with my brother to the midnight Mario launch at a local retailer last night, which may have not been the wisest course of action. On the plus side, they opened at 11 instead of 12, so with a quick transaction and a short drive, I was home in time to get to bed about the same time as usual. Except for I couldn’t resist cracking open the game case right away and playing a little bit, so my tiredness today is entirely my own fault.

Was it worth it? Meh. The opening scenes and tutorial stage aren’t terribly exciting, so it’s not like I got a whole lot out of that first ten minutes. But at least it’s out of the way and when I start playing in earnest after work, it’s going to be amaaaaaaazing.

Though in reality, I’m probably going to just pass out five minutes in.

(Also important: Ninja Sex Party’s Under The Covers: Volume 2 is out today, and season 2 of Stranger Things is up on Netflix. I really should have taken the day off!)

Criminal Dilemma

My youngest brother is in the process of cleaning out his bedroom, tossing or selling all of the things that he’s willing to part with. There have been many unfortunate losses, but I simply can’t re-adopt that Nintendo Power collection that I gave to him so many years ago.

Among other things that he has opted not to keep are the first three seasons of Criminal Minds on DVD. Now, I do very much enjoy Criminal Minds -it swiftly became one of my favourite TV shows after I was introduced to it- so I eagerly gave them a loving home in my own DVD shelf. The thing is, Criminal Minds was never one of my shows, if you get my drift. I always watched it in certain company, and as a result it has a lot of emotional baggage tied to it.

Now I sit here, looking at these DVD sets, completely unsure about what to do. On one hand, I know I’d like to watch them, because I sure do love that show. On the other hand, it’s got a loaded history and I might have a complete emotional breakdown if I try to watch them.

Today’s lesson is this: never get attached to people, only get attached to things.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

I had the week off work last week, and to be perfectly honest, I don’t think I did enough with it. I mean, usually that’s how I spend my time off anyway because I’m poor and can’t afford to go anywhere on vacation, except for maybe a day trip to Selkirk. But for some reason I feel as though I should have “accomplished” more, even though I did get a handful of important things done, and had plenty of fun.

Monday was a good day, but not productive in any way. Edwin and I spent nearly the entire day clearing Super Mario 64 in a single sitting, and banging our heads against Syphon Filter. Not the usual write-off, because I spent the day playing video games with a friend instead of all by my lonesome. I also briefly visited with a number of out-of-town relatives in the evening, as there was a gathering and dinner at my grandparent’s place. Mmmm… delicious steak. Also I put gas in my car for the first time in probably two months. Closed out the evening by staying up too late after purchasing Citadale: the Legends Trilogy and hacking my way through the second chapter.

Tuesday morning was spent finishing off the final episode of Tales From the Borderlands, which was as excellent as the first episode was boring. In the afternoon, I had a very successful dentist appointment. No new cavities, and they showed me before and after photos so that I could see exactly how much crap was piling up between my teeth because I don’t floss. Also I finally made appointments to get a crown placed on my tooth that got a root canal two years ago, so that’s nice. Later on, watched The Bachelorette with my family, as we do. As for the rest of the evening? Probably spent watching Mike Tyson Mysteries or Game Grumps. I’m sure I stayed up way too late again, because I distinctly remember thinking “Welp, I’m definitely not going to feel like accomplishing anything on Wednesday morning.”

Wednesday came along, and much like Tuesday evening, I have no recollection of how I spent it. I know I played a few stages in Azure Striker Gunvolt, but where the rest of that time went is a mystery. ARMS, maybe? I had to take my brother to a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon, after which we picked up pizza for lunch and then I finally began playing Final Fantasy XV. That evening, like most Wednesday evenings, I spent hanging out with Edwin again. On our quest to find dinner, we discovered that the Freshii by my parents’ house was finally open, so we opted to try it out. Then came a notable amount of progress in BioShock Infinite, which I am so torn on. I am quite enjoying the world and the story, and almost wish that there wasn’t any combat, because it’s really more of an annoyance than anything.

Thursday was the day I feel like I really accomplished something. I woke up early and took my car into the shop, as it had recently become very loud. Turned out that it just blew a gasket, not the whole muffler, so it was a relatively cheap fix. I got some exercise by walking home after dropping off the car, and even made a belated phone call about getting free internet in my new condo on the way. Then I ran back once the repairs were done, which pretty well burned me out. I spent the entire afternoon with FFXV, though I did take a short break to go out for another half-hour run. Then, dinner and more FFXV. It was that night when I realized that FFXV was going to stop me doing anything productive until it was done.

Friday morning was very busy! Splatoon Day! Zack and I drove all over creation looking for amiibos and the fabled Splatoon 2 pro controller for Switch. We found most of the amiibos, but no pro controllers, although we did luck into stumbling across a good birthday gift for my dad. By the time we were done, we had been out shopping for so long that on the way home we picked up Fatburger for lunch. I took in a couple episodes of Bob’s Burgers while I ate, and then spent the afternoon playing Splatoon 2, which had easily been my most anticipated Switch game. Then a couple hours break to log some more time in FFXV, and then back to Splatoon 2. I played Salmon Run all evening, only stopping because my Switch’s battery died and the wi-fi signal in my room is spotty at best, so TV play is currently not an option for online games.

There were a number of other grown-up things I could have accomplished during my week, but put off in favour of having fun. Even a lot of fun things got sidelined. No movies, no reading, no drawing; all put off in favour of sinking more hours into Final Fantasy XV. In the end, though, I had a good week. I spent way too much money on junk food and amiibos, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles, I suppose. At least when you’re me.

Vania Mania

Last weekend, I went a little Castlevania crazy. Firstly, I read that Nintendo had put up some discounts for the Virtual Console versions of the original NES Castlevania trilogy on My Nintendo. Having nothing better to do with all the My Nintendo coins or tokens or whatever that had been piling up in my account, I got myself a nice 40% discount on Castlevania III and loaded ‘er up on my 3DS. Then, because I often forget about things even when I am incredibly excited for them, I read that the Netflix Castlevania series went live on Friday. So I watched all of that in a single sitting.

It all turned out to be a beautiful coincidence, because the animated Castlevania series is loosely based on Castlevania III. I had no idea!

So let’s talk about the show first. Straight up, I loved it. It’s got plenty of flaws, but I thought that it was still a fairly strong show. It was cool, violent, and sometimes funny, though truth be told, a lot of the humour was a little more adolescent than it probably should have been. Trevor Belmot is a massive jackass that I expect we’re supposed to eventually like, but he hasn’t quite gotten to that point yet. Maybe in season 2. Sypha and Alucard are awesome right from the word go, and it’s a massive tragedy that the season ends just as things are really getting good.

And I think that’s my biggest gripe with Castlevania: season one is only four 30-minute episodes, and only tells about a third of the story. Which, I suppose is right on target, as the upcoming second season is going to be eight episodes. Don’t get me wrong, they wrote in a lot of great supplemental material to flesh out the world and characters, but it still feels like this was just a test to see if there would be interest enough for the real story. Imagine if season two hadn’t been given the green light! We’d be left with nothing but an elongated prologue! Forever wondering what could have been!

The absolute best parts of the show were in fact the opening and closing scenes. The series begins with a very long cold open that serves to give Dracula personality and motivation. It’s a bit misleading because this part of the story is pulled more or less from Symphony of the Night, so I was double-surprised that the rest of the series followed Castlevania III instead. It makes perfect sense, though, as they’re telling the story in chronological order (though they did skip right past Lament of Innocence). The final scene is a -and I hesitate to use this word- epic battle between Trevor and Alucard. It was brilliant and incredibly cool. It also served to increase my hype levels to maximum and then slapped me right in the face with the hard truth that I would be left waiting for an indeterminate amount of time for this series to continue.

In a stunning turn of events, I enjoyed playing Castlevania III much less than I did watching it. I am fairly certain that it’s one of only two Castlevania titles that I hadn’t ever played (the other being Lords of Shadow 2). All the classic-style Castlevania are tough as balls, but none of them have ever felt quite as insurmountable as Castlevania III. It’s ridiculous how hard it is. So difficult, in fact, that I got frustrated to the point where I would put down a save state after every monster I defeated. It didn’t even feel that cheap, because you basically need a full life bar to have any hope at all against the bosses in the last few stages.

I’ve done a little reading up on the game in the meantime, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I should not have played the North American version. Apparently, in a stunning reversal of the usual “dumbing-down for Americans” trope, the Japanese version of Castlevania III is significantly less difficult. Fewer monsters, more generous checkpoints, and at least one character that has a useful long-range attack.

The biggest, and what I believe is the most important change, is the way your characters take damage. In the Japanese version, every monster deals a set amount of damage. So a medusa head that hits you for 1 HP in the second stage will still hit you for 1 HP in the ninth stage. However, in the North American version, all monsters hit for the same amount of damage based on how far you are in the game. So in the first stage, you’ll take 1 HP damage from every hit, while in the final stage, you’ll take 4 HP damage from every hit, regardless of monster type. This is crazy and significantly upsets the difficulty balance.

I can’t in good conscience say that the game is bad, because it’s mostly just that the difficulty level is broken. If the game was just a little friendlier, I probably would have really liked it. I found myself on more than one occasion amazed by the visuals (it’s a beautiful NES game), and it retains the tight, methodical Castlevania gameplay that made the series so popular in the first place. Let’s not forget the incredible soundtrack! It’s a huge game with ten stages and a number of alternate paths, and you can pick up several partner characters along the way that can tag in for Trevor at any time. The only game design part that I thought was actively terrible is one section where you have to climb a tower of falling blocks. It’s incredibly slow and long, easy to get killed on, and is boring as all heck. Plus there’s no checkpoint after it, so if you get killed by monsters afterward… enjoy slogging up that section again. It must have been my seventh or eight climb up that tower that I decided to start abusing save states.

And so ends my Castlevania craziness for now. I actually find myself wanting to play Lords of Shadow again for some reason, but I just can’t be bothered to unpack and hook up my Xbox 360 right now. Perhaps in a month’s time when I’m moved and settled into my new home. But hey, by that point, my Castlevania fever might have already subsided.

A weekend of games and stuff

I hate to admit it, because I’ve been trying to diversify the ways I waste time lately, but I spent pretty much the whole weekend playing video games. Well, the time during the weekend that I was conscious. I spent way too much time sleeping in and napping, but I slept terribly last week, so I suppose that I needed it. Anyway, for some reason I feel the need to write about all the nothing I did over the weekend. Really Live Journal it.

Friday night was a blur. Because it’s already so far away, you see. But I do recall that after a long Friday at work, I decided that it was in my best interest to get some physical activity, I opted to take a short walk. Partly because I wanted to do something good for my body, and partly because I wanted to listen to the Talk Nintendo podcast special on Ever Oasis. And by golly, did Casey and Neal ever do a good job of selling that game. I was planning on skipping it, but their gushing praise started to make me reconsider my stance…

Upon returning home, I finally set aside a little time to play ARMS, which I am desperately in love with in theory, but I need a lot more practice because I am awful at it. I managed to get through the easiest level of the single-player mode, but not without some struggles. Also I need to get online and get in on that party mode. Once I was done with that, I cracked and bought Ever Oasis. In retrospect, I should have played the demo first to make sure, but in the end it wouldn’t have dissuaded me anyhow. Although the game was surprisingly small (just over 6200 blocks), the download was slow and would not finish until early the next morning.

Finally, I began playing what might be the only free PS+ game that I’ve been at all interested in since I’ve had the service: Anna: Extended Edition. It is pitched on the store as a psychological horror game wherein you explore an abandoned sawmill to discover its spooky secrets. Late Friday night is like the only good time I get to play horror games, so I was pumped. And then the game turns out to be something of a janky mess. I was so befuddled by the odd control scheme and got stuck on a stupid(ly simple) puzzle that I only played up through the first “stage” before calling it quits and turning in for the night.

The next morning, I woke up late because I had opted not to set any alarms. Then I chose to relive a ritual of Saturday mornings from last summer: watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003 series) while playing Tap My Katamari. I had four episodes left to watch from season four’s “lost episodes” (not on DVD) and burned through those right quick. Afterwards, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do and curled up in bed for a quick nap.

It was after I woke that I realized that Ever Oasis was probably done downloading, and then most of my afternoon just vanished into it. Ever Oasis is a really good game. What Casey and Neal neglected to mention is that it is very slow to start because holy crap does it ever like to take its time explaining everything to you. Also, it is just as hand-holdy as the Zelda series is infamous for being. At least for the first few hours. Eventually it gives you a little more freedom, but the beginning of the game is a slow, unskippable slog. This will undoubtedly discourage replays.

I then decided that it was my mission for the rest of the afternoon to finish Anna, and so I booted the ol’ PS3 back up and jumped back into that mess. The game does have its charms once you let yourself get into it, but I maintain that it could have used a lot more polish. At least have a few of the rougher edges sanded down. Case in point: I was not interested in the game enough to care about solving its obtuse puzzles, and it didn’t take me long to pull up a walkthrough for consultation whenever I felt stuck. I cleared the game, and am weakly considering a quick second playthrough to round up the leftover trophies. On one hand, it’ll be a very easy task that should take no more than half an hour. On the other hand, I don’t really care about this game and should probably just delete it and forget it forever.

Saturday night was the usual board games party. The major difference is that when my brother and I made a trip to the liquor store, we found something highly unexpected: Freedom 35 lager! It’s the Trailer Park Boys branded beer! We were so excited that we each filled up an 8-can carrier and merrily went on our way. The checkout guy must have thought we were nuts.

Many beers led to a hearty sleep-in on Sunday morning. Sort of. I got up at 8:30, had breakfast, watched an episode of Bob’s Burgers, and played some Mighty Gunvolt Burst to grab a few screenshots for the article I wrote on it. Then I passed out again and slept until after noon.

To round out my activities, I went out for an extra-long walk/run after waking up. I was out for two and a half hours, which I think is my longest journey on record so far. Especially since it was only my second outing that included running this year. And yet it was still not long enough to listen to the regular weekly episode of the Talk Nintendo. When I got back, my legs were so done that I showered off and flopped onto bed to nap for an hour, then watched several more episodes of Bob’s Burgers. And then I ate a metric ton of food for dinner and way too much in the way of ice cream treats, completely invalidating all the exercise I’d done earlier.

Finally, I ended the evening the same way that every Sunday evening ends: laundry. In between throwing dirty clothes in the machines and putting away the clean laundry, I tacked a few more hours onto Ever Oasis. Turns out that it’s quite difficult! Monsters hit really, really hard and you can’t dodge-cancel out of attack animations, so you’ve got to be careful. It’s still limiting how far off-course I can explore, but at least it’s not pushing me along the intended route quite as sternly any more.

Alas, eventually the laundry was all done, and that’s my cue to stop whatever fun I’m having and go to bed. I think that’s probably why I hate doing laundry so much. It heralds the end of the freedom of the weekend, and the return of the dreadful work week. Ugh. So disheartening. At least I had a lot of fun over the weekend. And when put into words, it almost seems like I accomplished much more than I actually did. Hurray!