Saturday, August 30, 2014

Holiday Weekend

I'm taking a vacation for Labor Day weekend. Maybe this means I'll get to relax and wrap up old projects like the my High School Musical story I started and didn't finish a long time ago.

One of the downsides of the holiday weekend is that the Professor Layton VS Phoenix Wright videogame won't arrive until after Monday. But then again, I still need to finish Professor Layton 6 and Phoenix Wright 5. But then again, this game came out in Japan before those two did, so not finishing the latest games shouldn't be a problem.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Three Things Friday

1. Three Things Thursday was pushed back a day this week, because of Nancy Drew #31. Also, I couldn't think of a third thing to talk about.

2. My local library has 24 of the Nancy Drew books for eight-year-olds. I know the book reviews for that series aren't so popular, but they are super easy to write, because the books are so simplistic. I might do more in the future. Speaking of which, reviews for the 2004 Girl Detective series were easy to get through, so I'll be doing six of them, not just four.

3. I've seen a few shows, like Hey Arnold!, where they try to drum up some romance by having the main cast enact the play Romeo and Juliet. Drama ensues, when the male lead and the female lead learn that they must kiss each other during the play.

I can't help but wonder if these shows are written by people who have not actually seen the Shakespeare play in question. It is not a romantic kissing scene; it is a death scene where Romeo and Juliet commit suicide. Juliet kisses Romeo, in hopes that there is poison left on his lips. It's not romantic in the slightest.

Of course, there's a different scene in the play where Romeo and Juliet kiss, but all of the TV shows I've seen skip over that part. Bah!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Nancy Drew: LIE

The promo page for Nancy Drew 31: Labyrinth of Lies is on the Internet! We have some pictures and information, as well as the fancy cover art.

It looks like the game has something to do with a museum. There is also a play about the rape of Persephone. (That's the traditional name for the myth; in this context, "rape" means "kidnapping" or "snatching", and not the modern meaning of the word.)

Frank and Joe Hardy are confirmed for this game, so...YAY!! Go Frank and Joe!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Cooking

I tried cooking hamburgers again. Just like last time, grease flew out the saucepan and all over the stove. I used a grease splatter, which helped a lot, but I still managed to get two grease burns on my hand. Ow.

This time, I made sure to cover the pan with that Pam Cooking Spray stuff. Is that not supposed to be used on saucepans? Maybe you're only supposed to use it on oven trays. I suppose that I won't use cooking spray next time, because it seems to make the sauce and the grease jump out of the pan.

I cooked the burgers on 3/4ths heat, for fifteen minutes. Every five minutes, I flipped the patties. The outside of the burgers ended up being rather burnt, and the insides tasted like meat loaf. Or at least, it tasted like Marie Calendar's microwaveable meatloaf. (I've noticed the meatloaf tastes very similar to Marie Calendar's microwaveable Salisbury steak).

Next time, I should probably cook the burgers on medium heat, or cook them for only ten minutes. My overall plan is to figure out how to cook frozen patty burgers, then move on to making burgers out of ground meat.

But while my burgers aren't so good, my potato casserole is excellent. It is basically the same thing as mashed potatoes, except instead of adding milk, I add garnish, Philly cream cheese and sour cream. That makes it taste sweet and yummy. Put it in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes or so, and that somehow turns it into a casserole. (I'm a little iffy on what "casserole" means.)

The next kind of casserole I want to make is the simple tater tot / beef casserole, which is loving referred to as "funeral casserole". People make it for funeral receptions, because it's easy to make. I should be able to do that without screwing up!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Nancy Drew Files #27

I don't think I've mentioned this yet, but I did a review for Nancy Drew Files #27: Most Likely to Die back in May. The book interested me, because it has a subplot about Nancy Drew's ex-boyfriend, the guy from Nancy Drew #3: The Bungalow Mystery.

I haven't uploaded my review, because I thought it would be better to upload all the Nancy Drew Files book reviews, in chronological order. I've made it all the way to #11, so I should reach #27 by...um...I dunno.

My current plan is to review some books from the 2004 series. Nancy Drew Girl Detective #4 is called High Risk., the same title as Nancy Drew Files #59. And now that I've pulled that book off my shelf, I want to read it! The premise is that Ned is working as an investigator for an insurance company. Ned is 99% certain that a man named Toby Foyle has filed a false claim, so Ned starts investigating. Not long after, Foyle is discovered dead, and Ned's fingerprints are on the murder weapon.

In conclusion, I need to stop being a bad reviewer and start going through books in order.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Love Sushi Rangers

There is a Japanese dating sim called Love Sushi Rangers: Choose Your Target! (Sushi?)". The premise of the game is that six pieces of sushi have magically been turned into humans, and you can date them.

This game is so crazy and ridiculous that I changed my release schedule, to get the videos to you as soon as possible. You're welcome.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Poll Results

Remember how Pope Francis put out a worldwide poll about marriage and families and other things? Well, all the results have come in, and they were compiled in a document that was released in June.

The document is over 50 pages long, and I skimmed through it. The thing that struck me the most was that the responses from Africa and Asia are very different from the responses in Europe and the Americas. In the Western World, people have more or less given up on the idea of natural law, in favor of self-determined human rights. In the Eastern World, people still support natural law, but the Catholic Church there is having problems, because people are claiming polygamy and divorce are perfectly natural.

Now, some people have complained that the document is about as interesting as a legal brief. Well, duh. It is a legal brief. It was made in preparation for the big meeting in October. If it didn't sound like legal prep work, I'd be surprised.

The document does a pretty good job of summarizing what's going on, and stating all of the problems people have with the Catholic Church's views on marriage and the family. I'm interested in seeing what the Church's response will be, in October. They've got the list of problems; now let's see the solutions!

The crazy part of me is thinking that Pope Francis will go back to letting priests get married. Then a bunch of married priests will flood the hierarchy and make a bunch of changes, like the crazy people did in the 60's and 70's.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Professor Layton 6

I've done walkthroughs for Professor Layton 1-5, but game #6 is giving me trouble. Specifically, Chapter Four is a killer.

Chapter 4 is the main part of the game. It's pretty fun, because it's a series of five self-contained mysteries. The downside is that it takes about 4 to 6 hours to complete.

Here's the kicker. At the end of the chapter, you are given the opportunity to revisit every single location in the game, in order to get new puzzles. Specifically, you can solve puzzles 86-112. My reaction was, "Arrrrgh! I spent six hours on this chapter already! I don't want to go back and solve 40 new puzzles!".

I skipped head to Chapter 5. Guess what? At the start of Chapter 5, you are given the opportunity to revisit every single location in the game, in order to get new puzzles. Specifically, you can solve puzzles 123-141.

In other words, the game wants you to put the storyline on hold, while you solve 40 puzzles. Then, you have a four-minute scene to finish Chapter 4. Then, the game wants you to put the storyline on hold, while you solve 30 puzzles.

I made an executive decision to skip these 70 or so puzzles, in my video walkthrough. I might put them in my text walkthrough, if it turns out that they are not ridiculously difficult. Then again, I might put them in a super-long video, for the three people who enjoy that sort of thing.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Making Videos

Recently, two people asked me about how I make videos. Either that, or the same person asked twice. Not sure.

Anyway, I no longer use CamStudio, the free recording program which sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. It worked really well on my Windows Vista computer. I used it a lot! But it doesn't work so much with Windows 7 or Windows 8, and so it fell out of usage.

Instead, I bit the bullet and paid for a program called Fraps. It works reasonably well. There are some things it cannot do, like Nancy Drew games 1-16. I use Camstudio and/or Many Cam as a backup, for when Fraps doesn't work. Many Cam is the program I use for livestreaming, but it can double as a game recorder, too.

Hopefully that answers the questions!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Three Things Thursday

1. For the past week or so, people have been doing an ice bucket challenge, where you must pour ice water over your head, or pay $100 to a charity. Maybe it's just me, but the premise of "do something unpleasant to avoid charitable donations" doesn't make a lot of sense.

Anyway, I don't respond well to peer pressure, so I won't be doing it.

2. I did a book giveaway this weekend, but none of the five winners have gotten back to me. Oh, well. Guess I'll be stuck with the books now.

3. I finished reading the 39 Clues: Cahills VS Vespers series, and I give it my official thumbs-up. I was excited to hear David Baldacci wrote the final book in the series. His writing style took about 40 pages to get used to, because it doesn't really fit with the other books. But since he's great at writing thrillers, the book was quite excellent once it got going.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Schedule

Here's the schedule for my YouTube channel in the next two weeks.

  • Wed - Sat: Reveries: Sisterly Love
  • Mon - Thu: Baby-Sitters Club book reviews, books 3-5 and the prequel
  • Sat Aug. 30: Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo
  • Mon - Sat: Professor Layton 6, Chapter 4
I have a few other projects I'm working on, like a playthrough of the other Living Legends game, and a Nancy Drew Hardy Boys RPG.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Shattered Medallion Review

I did a review for Nancy Drew: The Shattered Medallion, while the game was fresh in my mind. I might make more review videos for the Nancy Drew games someday, but since that involves replaying the games, it takes a while.



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When I first heard the name "Nancy Drew: The Shattered Medallion", I thought the game would be about Nancy breaking a piece of jewelry. It turns out that the game is about Nancy Drew and her friends going to New Zealand to compete in a reality show.

The show is made up of a series of five challenges. George has spent months training for this, but Nancy's friends aren't allowed to overshadow her, so we're sticking George into the background until we need her.

The other competitors include Patrick the dumb jock and his girlfriend Leena Patel, the bandanna-fan. Leena is a codebreaker, and she is so smart that she can spell her own name.

Challenge one is picking flowers, obviously so Nancy can make herself a flower necklace and look pretty. One flower is on the other side of a decaying rope bridge. George jumps out of the background, and the bridge politely waits for her before collapsing.

Nancy: Is something wrong?
George: Yes.
*bridge collapses*

George breaks her leg, and she is officially out of the competition that she was never really in. Coming to fill her place in the competition is the other Nancy Drew character who plays sports, Nancy's boyfriend, Ned!

No, wait, that would make sense. instead, we get Bess.

Bess: I'm going to die here

Bess must be allergic to sheep or something, because she cannot function in New Zealand. She has a hard time talking to other people, and more importantly, she forgot how to flirt with Sonny Joon, the show's producer. Poor Bess, I get upset when my superpowers fail me too.

If you want to know what Sonny Joon is like, imagine a 13 year old Justin Bieber with a creepy alien obsession.

Nancy meets the final character of the game, Kiri. Kiri is a rather cold person, who works as a reality TV star. Nancy and Kiri form the most useless alliance in the history of the show, as they don't help each other out in any of the challenges.

Challenge #2 is sheep shearing. Why sheep shearing? Because its's New Zealand, that's why.

Challenge #3 is a kayak race, a submarine search, and of course, more sheep stuff.

Around this time, Sonny Joon gives Nancy Drew a special quest, which leads to an ancient relic. Nancy suddenly remembers, oh yeah, Sonny Joon has been mentioned in about six other games in the series, so maybe he's important.

Nancy investigates. Years ago, Sonny's grandfather created something which can only be described as "the most needlessly complicated scavenger hunt ever". The reality show is merely a cover story, so Sonny can collect his grandpa's relics. Sonny brought Nancy to solve puzzles, Leena to decode messages, and Patrick to...um...sit on a rock.

Challenge 4 is gold mining, and Challenge 5 is making Maori symbols on cave walls. After an intense tiebreaker challenge, Nancy is declared the official winner of "Pacific Run".

Not long after, we learn that the culprit of the game is Kiri! She tried to kill George on the bridge, and now she's ready to kill Nancy! Just like everyone else who played this game, Nancy doesn't understand what Kiri's motive is.

Nancy: Why are you doing this?
Kiri: Making you pay for your betrayal.

What betrayal? Nancy never betrayed you! And this doesn't explain why Kiri tried to kill George, because Nancy met Kiri AFTER George was injured! *continuity*

Thanks to Kiri's sabotage, Nancy and Sonny get trapped in the caves. Forutnately, that's the place where Grandpa's magical artifact is. Nancy rebuilds the relic, which does something non-specific. Yay!

Also, Bess finds Nancy and Sonny in the caves, presumably because she put a tracking device on Sonny Joon's alien boots. So you can say that Bess helped save the day. Good for her!

The End

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Post-Game Followup.

This is a good adventure game, but a bad mystery game. The mystery of who attacked George is completely overlooked, and Nancy does absolutely no investigation into the matter. I guess Nancy only cares when bad things happen to Bess (*show picture of Ransom of the Seven Ships*).

Personally, the lack of mystery didn't bother me that much. I was too busy having fun with the reality show challenges. I enjoyed the premise of being on TV and solving challenges. In fact, when I replayed the game, I skipped over all the plot material and just focused on doing the challenges. I found that to be a perfectly enjoyable way of playing the game.

The characters are a bit hit and miss. Leena and Kiri are both rather lacking. Patrick is amusing once you get used to him, but sort of like Bess, he doesn't seem to serve much of a purpose besides comedy relief. The best character, hands down, is Sonny Joon. His character design looks good, his voice acting was well-done, and he definitely gave off the quirky vibe that I expected him to have, based on what we've heard about him in other games. All in all, Sonny was the part of the game I looked forward to the most, and he exceed my expectations.

Some of the conversations in the game are clever, but the overall trend is that the conversations are abrupt. They start and end in unnatural places, so you feel like part of the conversation was left out. Other reviewers have described this as similar to hearing in-jokes that you're not privy to.

I thought all the puzzles in the game were good, and I appreciate how the ending puzzles ramped up the difficulty level. The tiebreaker challenge was incredibly hard, but very cleverly done. The only puzzle I didn't like was the final puzzle. It was too difficult for me to understand. I've played this game six-odd times, and I _still_ can't understand the logic behind it.

Speaking of the final puzzle, I dislike the fact that the relic wasn't fully explained. Nancy goes through all the effort of finding the pieces and rebuilding the device, and as a result, she gets...nothing! We never find out what the relic does. The best guess is that it leads to some unknown location, which is a letdown. The game has a lot of build-up to fixing the relic, without any real payoff.

Overall, the game is fun, although it has some big problems like a culprit without any motive. On the other hand, the scenery is beautiful, the puzzles are good, and the premise is solidly executed. I was expecting more from Nancy's 30th adventure, but I'd rather take it than leave it. I give Nancy Drew: The Shattered Medallion a 6 out of 10.

Question

Question: Michael, is it true that you cast a black girl as eight-year-old Nancy Drew?

Answer: Yes, yes I did. So?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Deadly Device Speedrun

This is the speedrun I did for Nancy Drew: The Deadly Device two years ago.



Since then, two new cheats have been discovered.

1. Nancy is told that she must get the high score in aggregation. It turns out this is not true. You just need to make the high scores list.

2. Towards the end of the game, you can steal Ryan's gummy bears, which saves you a trip downstairs. There's actually an achievement if you do this! I tried--and failed--to do it several times, but I think I finally got it correct.

So...if you use those tricks, you can probably save an additional minute or so! I should redo my speedrun someday.