Monday, May 21, 2012

Final Fantasy II (SNES) Great Memories!

           This will be my first video game review.  Now don't worry, I'm not going AVGN on you or anything like that.  This is going to be more about a couple of memories I have while playing it, than the game itself.  I just wanted to take few moments to talk about one of the biggest surprises I ever had while playing video games.

            On the weekends I would often go to the video store and rent video games, like many people did.  Well, one evening  I found, to my dismay, there was nothing left that really held any interest for me.  As I scanned the shelves for the about the hundredth time I see a game called Final Fantasy II.  I thought "Okay I'll give it a shot."  I have never really played an RPG before, so this was going to be a first.
           I got it home and popped it into my Super Nintendo, not expecting too much.  The opening scene scrolled through giving me the story and I started playing as Cecil and Kain.   After I figured out the controls, which, was a new thing to me, I started to progress in the story.

           I went through the village mist, then to Prince Edward's kingdom, then Fabul, then Mysidia and finally to Mt Ordeals where I met the first elemental fiend.  By now I had played for hours and had no idea how much time had really passed.  The next day I was not able to play it as much, but I did make it a little bit further, before I had to take the game back. 

           From that day on I was hooked.  I managed to get my own copy, not really seeing the point, afterall I thought I was probably almost done with it.  Was I ever wrong.  It went on for much longer than I would have ever thought. 
          The game's excellent graphics, for the time, great game play and the immersive world, were accompanied by a great story-line.  Though it did get cheesy in places. 

           When I finally got to Zeromus at the end, I thought it was the baddest thing I had ever seen.  Of course, the thing kicked my butt.  I didn't give up though, I pressed on. I leveled up, which was by far the most tedious thing with the game, but I have found that most RPG's are like this.  When I finally beat the game I was so excited. 
          The only thing that was left was to unlock all the secrets, which I did, and run my characters up to level 99, which I also did. 

           This brings me to one of my favorite memories about the game.  One night, me and a friend of mine decided to go after the most elusive item in the game, the pink tail.  From what we understood, it was only dropped by one enemy in one room in the entire game.  Even then the odds were bad.  There was only a one in sixty chance to encounter the enemy, the Pink Puff, and then there was only a one in sixty chance of it actually dropping the pink tail.

           We literally stayed up all night, doped up on mountain dew, which my kidneys now hate me for, trying to get this thing.  We fought many pink puffs, but never got the pink tail.  So, finally we decided screw it, and gave up.  Actually, what really happened is the mountain dew ran out, and we feel asleep.
          Why were we going through all this for the pink tail you ask?  Well, you gave the pink tail to a little person inthe mine outside Silvara, and he gives you ore. You take the ore to the blacksmith in the underground section, the same place you get Excalibur, and he will make you a suit of armor .  That's it, the whole reason.

           Several years later when they released the game on game boy advance I bought it, and fought through it, just as I did before, and just as I did before I tried to get the pink tail.  Just as before I played for hours, looking at the stupid tiny screen.  Unlike before I actually got the thing!  I was amazed.  I managed to get a hold of the most elusive item in FFII.  Now I have supreme bragging rights!

           The game is very dated by today's standards, but for me it has high replay value and I would play it anytime, if you get a chance to play it, jump on it!

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Scribe's Review: Dragonlance Chronicles

I'm going to review a set of three books that are responsible for setting me on the road to being a fantasy geek, The Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. I read these books as a teenager, and since then I have read them so often that I consider myself an expert on them. These is my own personal thoughts on a trilogy that I still love and read today.
            The series centers around a group of adventurers called the Companions. Tanis Half-Elven, a bastard half elf, the grumpy yet kind dwarf, Flint Fireforge, the fleet fingered and childlike kender, Tasslehoff Burrfoot, the Plainsmen Goldmoon and Riverwind. A Knight of Solamnia named Sturm Brightblade and the twins Caramon and Raistlin Majere. Later on they are joined by the elven princess Laurana and a fiery barmaid Tika Waylan. The group forms an unlikely force for good, during a period of evil called the War of the Lance.

            To tell the entire plot would take way longer than this post should be, but summarize Takhasis, a god and the Queen of Darkness returns to a land that had been ravaged by the Cataclysm hundreds of years before. The people of the land are scattered and fractured. Of course Takhisis wants to dominate the world and all the souls on it. She is opposed by Paladine the god of light. In essence it is a celestial battle that comes to the mortal world of Krynn.

            Along the way the Companions must battle all manner of evil things in their quest; they must also fight distrust and dissention among themselves, the power of evil magic and clerics, and of course dragons. In the end two of the group will perish and another will betray them. It all leads to an epic battle that of course leads to the defeat of the evil goddess.

            That description really does not do the book justice. I'm leaving out huge parts, like the three kingdoms of elves the mountain fortress of the dwarves and the power of magic, and the magnificent return of the dragons of light. It is simply too much to describe here. I could really write an entire novel about these three books. That's ok though, I just wanted to give you a glimpse into the trilogy and a look at my own feelings about the series.

            I do see a lot of similarities with the Lord of the Rings trilogy in these books, but that's all they are, is similarities. These three book are completely different and are a work of art all themselves, but if you are a fan of the Lord of the Rings then I suggest these books, they will blow your mind.

            Later on they released a fourth book to end the original trilogy. While not technically a part of the first three books; it is spectacular in own right. I read the fourth book cover to cover in about three days, which at the time, was a record for me.

            These books eventually led to a second trilogy, Legends, which focused on the twins Caramon and Raistin. Then more and more books followed from full novels to anthologies. Many dealt with the original cast of characters, and many created their own new ones. Some expanded on the world that Chronicles created, while others delved into the history of Krynn. This series took on a life of its own. I don't know how many books there are total, but I have personally read around forty or so and I have barely scratched the surface. I only wish a feature length film would be made. If the same care that was shown for The Lord of the Rings was given to this trilogy, it would be a treat to watch.

            There it is, my opinion. This set remains one of my favorites of all time. I recommend them to anyone who loves a good epic fantasy novel.

A Scribes Review, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

            I must admit, I had little to no expectations going into this book. The only reason I read it was because a friend of mine suggested it, and we have similar tastes. I must admit the concept was awesome. I mean seriously, the 16th President of the United States, a man that arguably saved the nation from imploding, was a vampire hunter? The first thing that I thought of was, where did he find the time? How did he not get caught in his endeavor? As well as various other things I tried to nit-pick.

            When I began the book it was about twelve-thirty in the morning or so, and I was just expecting to read for maybe a half an hour. I put it down around three hours later, and only then because I had to work the next day. To put it simply, I was amazed. It may have had something to do with the fact I thought it would be adequate at best, after all I got my hopes up about A Game of Thrones, and I was disappointed (insert your gasp here), so it had no where to go but up. The more I read the more I realized, that I simply loved this book! So here is my honest opinion on the book. I will do my best to divulge as little as possible, because I do not want to ruin it for you.

            In a nut shell, the story begins with Abraham's childhood. He was already gifted at telling stories and the like. When he discovers that his mother was killed by vampires he resolves to kill very single vampire he can. His first attempt proved quite successful, and it leads you to believe that he is like Blade and some sort of natural vampire killing machine. However, his second mission goes very badly and he is nearly killed himself. He is saved by the Yoda type character, Henry. He takes the young Abraham under his wing and teaches him the right way to hunt vampires.

            After several years of killing the foul beasts, he is introduced to a plot by the vampires to actually seize control of the United States, and make humans no more than cattle. I must apologize for the next few sentences, it will give a little away. Henry and a group of like minded people who called themselves the Union aid Lincoln in getting elected to President and in fighting the civil war.

            He obviously wins the war, and the Union is preserved, this book just adds a lot more behind the scenes action than recorded history. In truth if it were not about vampires it could almost be believed!

            How Lincoln dies is obvious. The book does not deviate from major historic accounts about our sixteenth president's life, it just adds a few extra unoffical entries to the official record. I gave the book the four stars. Why not five? As much as I prased it, that should be a given right? The answer is simple, the ending. Call it my nit-picking, but I cannot overlook it. Don't get me wrong the ending is sheer genius, I love it, but it leaves a question open, that begs to be answered. There are answers to this question, good answers, but I'm not able to accept them. I guess I'm too logical. It probably also doesn't help that the book is so well written that it actually sounds like a true historical account. So in a sense you do not have suspend your sense of logic to accept what is written, but if you do, it's much more enjoyable.

            Obviously I will not go into the ending, it would ruin a huge treat if you decide to read it. Suffice it to say I highly recommend this book, if for no other reason than sheer curiosity (you can't tell me you're not). It would be well worth your time. I just hope the movie adaptation will be half as good, but I must admit I have more faith in authors, than in Hollywood.

A Scribe's Review: Osric's Wand: The Wand-Maker's Debate

            So this post will be a little different. I am going to do a review on a book by a couple of authors named Jack D. Albrecht and Ashley Delay. The name of their book is Osric’s Wand: The Wand-Maker’s Debate.
            I went into reading this with no expectations; I was going to give it an honest look with no preconceptions. I’m going to talk about the overall setting first.
            I’m not sure what expectations the authors had for the setting in this book, but let me put it simply; the world they created for this book was spectacular. The way that magic was approached was really intriguing. The ways that the various races of people interacted was great, and there are a lot of races of people, more than I expected. The world itself, was vibrant and full of life. It was easy for me to picture, in my head, the places that were described, and let me tell you, I’ve got a crowded head!
            The characters I like a lot, especially a prairie dog named Gus and a dwarf named Machai. These characters’ sarcasm made me smile, which I suppose gives a little away about my personality. The rest of the characters were equally interesting. I genuinely cared about the characters for the most part.
            The plot revolves around Osric, and his efforts to stop a war that may break out after an attack on a treaty signing. Along the way he is accompanied by Gus, and prairie dog wand-maker, his son Pebble, whose innocence I loved, Bridgett, a young woman who spent years living among unicorns, Kenneth, Osric’s right-hand-man and a grumpy dwarf (big surprise) Machai. Of course, things get a lot more difficult for Osric very quickly, when he discovers an old plot concerning the dragons, he must deal with also. I’m not going to say any more about the plot, I don’t want to give it away, but trust me, it’s good.
            The story line was excellent and it was easy to follow. The story flowed well for me and there was very little if any, “down time” as I call it, in the plot. The way that the different subplots blended in together was great. I really hope there are more of these books coming, or maybe they are out there and I’m not smart enough to find them. I’d love to follow these character’s more, and see where their adventure takes them.
           To put it simply, I loved this book. It was easy to read and quite enjoyable. I found myself caring about the characters, especially Gus and Machai. I was always interested to see what was going to happen next. In short if you like a good novel, give this one a look, you will not be disappointed.
           I do feel I should say one more thing. This is my first book review, so if seems kind of choppy and amateurish, well that’s because I am an amateur, but this is my honest opinion!