Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Confessions of a Key Hoarder - Legend of Zelda (NES) Part 2

Hello, my name is Mark, and I am a hoarder.

It all started in the first dungeon of the Legend of Zelda, where there was a locked door, the first of many such doors to come throughout the game, and pretty much every other Legend of Zelda game that came after.  To unlock this door, you have to find a key in the dungeon.  In this Zelda game, this is usually found by defeating a specific enemy or defeating all of the enemies in a specific room (in later games, the keys are often found in treasure chests).

It was innocent enough.  I found a key, and used it to unlock a door to go to the next room.  That's what the key was for, after all.  But then I went into this new room and bombed a couple walls to see if there any hidden passages.  And sure enough, the south wall revealed a hidden passage.  I follow the hidden passage to find myself in a room I have already been in, meaning that I could have easily gotten to the room I was just in without using the key.  I WASTED A KEY!!

I haven't played for very long, I told myself, only about 20 minutes.  I could easily reset the game and make it to this point in 15 minutes and play to this point, find the key, and NOT use it.  Of course, I didn't reset the game.  That would be something a pathetic person does.  I don't have a problem.  Obviously this game was designed to have enough keys.

So I entered the second dungeon still a sane person.

And I didn't have a problem in that second dungeon.  Sure, I found four keys and didn't use a single one of them, but that was because the secret passageways were extremely easy to find with my bombs.  I didn't use any keys because the need to never really presented itself.  There's nothing wrong with saving them for a rainy day.

In the third dungeon, I explore the dungeon and find a couple locked doors that I figure out that I can easily make my way around, but there is a door leading north and a couple leading west that I can seem to find a secret way past.  At this point I have seven keys total.  I reluctantly use one of them to go north, just to find myself confronted with a man telling me "DID YOU GET THE SWORD FROM THE OLD MAN ON TOP OF THE WATERFALL" and then the next room is a dead end.  Still calm and collected, I bomb every last corner of that room, but there is no secret passage.  This is a dead end!  I used one of my keys just so I get a useless tip?  In anger, I kill everything in the room.  Then a key appears.

Thank God!  This may have been a dead end, but the new key, which I would not have been able to get except by using other key, means everything balances out.  All is right with the world, but I will not make that mistake again.

I know I still have to go east, because I have searched everywhere else for whatever item this dungeon is hiding and by process of elimination that means it must be east.  But the only way to go that direction is to unlock one of two doors.

Or is it?  Thirty minutes of exploring and several continues later, the answer becomes clear.  Yes, I do have to unlock one of those doors.  But which one?  I make my choice, and it soon becomes apparent I made the wrong one.  The door I choose makes me go through several rooms with difficult enemies. After a few rooms, I get to one with a locked door to the east, which means this is the room that the other locked door would have led to.  By this point my energy is low and I soon die because this room also has difficult enemies.  I continue a couple times (which brings me to the beginning of the dungeon) and keep dying on my roundabout journey through the east wing of the dungeon.  There are just too many difficult enemies along the way.

Of course, I could use one of my keys to unlock a shortcut, but that would be wasteful, since it was not necessary to use it to get to my destination.  And besides, after another hour and a half of play and a dozen continues, I managed to make it to my destination and find a precious raft which will take me to the fourth dungeon.

And I still have my seven keys.  But I don't have a problem.  Really.

Monday, June 3, 2013

This will be the time! The Legend of Zelda (NES) - part one

In the Legend of Zelda, you play as Zelda Link in a quest to save Zelda from the evil Ganon. To do this, you must find the eight pieces of the Triforce of Wisdom, which have hidden in various dungeons, which are found throughout the vast overworld of Hyrule. The game came out in 1987, and it seems appropriate that this would be the first game I officially tackle as a "ketchup gamer" since there is probably no other game that I have started more times without making significant progress. Given that about twice a year I tell myself "this will be the time", only to get through the first dungeon of the game, and get no further, I have probably beat the first dungeon over 40 times and the second dungeon twice. And that's about far as I have gotten out of the nine dungeons in the game.

So here comes attempt 41. This will be the time!

I happen to have this game on my Wii, so I decided to play on that rather than the original NES, since I'm not sure I should trust the battery of a 20+ year old game. I start the game and am asked to register my name. I'm sure some people have put things like POO or ASS, but I go with my name, because I lack creativity. From here, I am thrown in South-Central Hyrule. Link is in the middle of the screen and there is a door in the upper left side of the screen. Even if I hadn't done this several dozen times, it's obvious you go in the door. I enter a cave where there is a old man who has a sword in front of him. "It's Dangerous to Go Alone," he informs me and presents me with a sword. I take the sword and go from there.

From there, there is absolutely no guidance on where to go. I guess the idea is that you are supposed to explore and make mistakes and even enter dungeons in the wrong order, but I want no part of that. For my playthrough, I am using an annotated map I have found on GameFAQs, which shows me the overworld and where all the dungeons are. I am going to try to beat the dungeons themselves without further assistance, but I feel a little "cheating" is in order.

Of course, I don't need to look at a map to find the first dungeon. This much I have memorized. Up-Right-Up-Up-Left-Enter. After some fifteen minutes I have found and completed the first dungeon.

And then the baby started crying. I have to stop playing. For now! Because "this will be the time!"

Sunday, January 6, 2013

My New Year's Resolution: Update my Blog

Welcome back to my blog!  It's been more than a year since I wrote one of these, so I'll excuse you for not caring that I'm back. 

Anyway, I've decided to make posting to my blog one of my New Year's resolutions.  To keep me motivated, I'm doing two things.  One of them is to use the Seinfeld method of productivity, which I read about on Lifehacker, one of my favorite websites.  The idea behind this is to have a calendar and for every day you accomplish a set goal, you mark that day with an "x".  Once you start marking down dates, the idea is that you will not want to "break the chain."  And one of the things I will be doing daily is writing blog posts.

But what shall I write about?  That's the reason I'm going to trying to do some other things on a daily basis.  One thing I have wanted to do is start reading more.  I have resolved to read 50 pages a day, and hope that the reading will also provide me with inspiration for blog posts. 

The other thing I am going to start keeping track of is my exercise.  I've registered for the Lincoln Half Marathon in May, so need to start training to make sure I can do it.  Every week I will make an exercise plan and each day I follow it I can mark an "x".  That will likely include a couple rest days a week, so I will get an "x" on those days if I have done all of the exercise since the last rest day (or I do a make up workout on that day).

The calendar I have created has room for four daily activities, and I haven't specified a fourth one, although I think it might be fun for that one to be a monthly challenge.  Some creative monthly challenges might also make for good blog fodder.

I'm sorry if this post is a little ramble.  I'm typing it on my ipad (something else I want to experiment with) and am kind of just typing as I think.  Hopefully writing daily will improve my organization.  And with that, I get my first X.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

More DVD cases!

One of my favorite video games of all time is Final Fantasy III for the Super Nintendo (or as it is known today Final Fantasy VI).  My first memory of it was when I visited my cousins' house and they were playing it.  At the time, my sole RPG experience was Dragon Warrior, a NES game we got for free from Nintendo Power.  I didn't play that game much because I found it very repetitive, difficult, and boring.  What I saw in my brief exposure to Final Fantasy III at my cousins' house was completely different.  Here was a game with fleshed-out characters, a wonderful story, amazing music, and compared to Dragon Warrior, a pretty fun battle system.  I only saw the game for about a half hour, but I knew that it was special.  Unfortunately, that was the last I would see of the game for several years.

I was going to go further into the story about my playing Final Fantasy III, but as I started writing about it, I realized that there was so much to say, and it didn't feel appropriate for this blog post, which is supposed to be about a craft that I made inspired by Final Fantasy III.  I'll save that story for another time.
Suffice to say, one of my favorite parts of Final Fantasy III was it's music.  And one of the most famous (infamous?) scenes in Final Fantasy III is its opera scene, where one of the characters, Celes, finds herself in the lead female role in an opera.  The scene is very touching, and the music is extremely beautiful, even though the "singing" is limited to SNES sound effects.  I have heard orchestrated versions of the opera music, but there's a certain charm to the digitized version.

Anyway, inspired by this scene, I decided to make another set of DVD cases.  I found a good clip from the opera scene:

And here's the final product:

I don't think it shows up as well as my Yoshi's Island DVD cases, since most of the background is too dark.  Also the reference is a little more abstract to be people who are not as familiar with games, but I still think it turned out well.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

We're back, A Procrastinator's Story

I'm not sure if it's proper form for a blog to be self-referential, commenting about the frequency of posts within it, but I don't really care.  It's been over a month since I last posted, and I am truly ashamed of myself.  I could blame it on me being so busy, but since I somehow manage to catch an episode of The Simpsons and two episodes of How I Met Your Mother every night, I think that's more a matter of priorities.
The other reason I can think as to why I haven't written is that my phone broke, so I essentially lost my camera.  Although I'm not an avid picture taker, I was starting to enjoy including pictures in my blog posts, and the loss of the phone took away some of my motivation.
See, no pictures for my blog!

Anyway, I'm back and my intention is to get back to writing on a semi-daily basis.  I'm trying to think of something else to write here to make it so this particular blog post has some substance, but I can't.  

Instead, for now, I'm going to post this lovely interactive YouTube video for Saved by the Bell: The Game that I saw on the internet.  I had nothing to do with the making of it, but it's awesome!  The worst part is that I understood pretty much every reference in the video.

See you later!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The obligatory photo blog post

I am trying to keep going with my blog, so I tried coming up with topics to write about.  Today, I decided to give you a taste of the contents of my camera phone.  There are not very many pictures there, as I tend not to like taking/being in photos.  It is a scientific fact that when someone takes a picture of you, they take a piece of your soul.  Then, anytime someone looks at that picture, another piece is taken.  Facebook has made it possible for you to lose your entire soul in a matter of minutes, with much of it going to your second cousin's co-worker, Jimmy.  That's why my Facebook profile picture is a picture of me in a Halloween costume where you can't actually see me.  That, and the costume is freaking awesome.
freaking awesome
Trip to Denver:
You should never post pictures of yourself drinking beer on the internet.  For the sake of my run for president in 2020, I will only put up this picture of random beer glasses that may or may not have been consumed by me or my in-laws at the end of the Coors Brewery Tour

One of several pictures I took of my mother-in-law after she took several pictures of us moving things into a truck.  I decided to take a picture of her every couple of minutes to prove some sort of point.  After about three pictures I gave up since no one noticed what I was doing, and the joke was lost on everyone.

Squirrel Shot
The picture doesn't really capture the weirdness of what I saw outside our porch window.  This squirrel was laying with only its belly on the fence and it's arms and legs hanging off both sides.  I don't imagine it would be very comfortable.
Trip to the Zoo
Outside of Gretna, on our way to the zoo.  I wonder if anyone has ever taken them up on their offer. I don't even know where I could store that much milk.
Polar bears are always so much fun to watch.  After they do something, they do the EXACT same thing over again. What a stupid animal.
Polar bears are always so much fun to watch.  After they do something, they do the EXACT same thing over again. What a stupid animal.
This gorilla is stretching and practicing yoga.  The crappy camera doesn't completely show the peaceful look in his eyes.
This is a picture of my favorite part of my last trip to the zoo.  There was a monkey who was holding a rock, but he apparently thought it was a nut or some sort of food, so he hit it against the ground to break it, but it wouldn't break.  Then he'd look at it confused and show it to his monkey friend.  Then he hit it against the ground again.  He did this about a dozen times.  It's funny when animals are stupid and cute.
I didn't really find this butterfly interesting or beautiful in anyway.  I just put this up because for some reason it scared Tyler.  To be fair, it was kind of big.  
Fourth of July Desserts
A patriotic cake.  I'd like to blame the blurriness of the picture for how bad it looks, but it didn't look much better in person.  It was pretty dang tasty though.
A slightly more flattering shot.
Because no matter how crappy this blog post was, Cammie will always make it better.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Video Game case art: Yoshi's Island

In a previous blogpost, I gave a sample of some DVD cases that I was working on.  Well, recently I came across some color ink for our printer and decided to go all out an make an entire (small) shelf-long picture.  I had a hard time picking a theme because I wanted something recognizable and simple but colorful and interesting.  I decided that my first "complete" DVD case art should consist of art from one of my favorite Super Nintendo games and one of the most beautiful games of all time: Yoshi's Island.  I decided to use a scene from the introduction where the Yoshis come upon baby Mario:

I used full-size Gamecube cases for this instead of the thin DVD cases I was planning because it was easier to fit a somewhat larger picture on them.  Here's what the final results look like:

The hardest part of this was trying to come up with a way to put legible text on the cases without it being in the way.  You may notice in the picture above that the left four cases are slightly different.  I tried to make the text blend in with the background, but that made the text hard to read, so I had to settle with using small print in a bright color:
I'm glad the camera is kind of crappy, otherwise you would be able to see that the game on the right is "Ribbit King". 
Well, that's it for this post.  Now to come up with another picture to use for more cases.