Sunday, June 30, 2013

Wind Waker HD - Sailing

Nintendo is coming out with an HD remake of Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker.  Personally, I think this is kind of unnecessary because the original game works just fine on my Wii, but I'm interested in what the new version of the game will be like.

A few interviews with the man in charge of the Zelda series reveals that there will be no new content added.  This includes the content that was originally cut out of the game, due to time constraints.  The sailing in the game is going to be improved, though.  Sailing in the game was limited, due to graphics constraints.

The sailing graphics in Wind Waker work like this.  There are two versions of each island.  Version #1 is the blurry version that you see from far off.  When you get close enough to the island, the game loads Version #2, which is the more detailed version.  You can actually hear the Gamecube disc make a "thunk" sound, when it loads the detailed graphics.

Only one "detailed island" graphic can be displayed at a time.  That's why there is always a large gap between islands; the game needs time to switch from one detailed island to the next.  Another side effect of the island graphics is the fact that most of the islands are extremely small.  Smaller islands are easier to load.

Since the Wii-U has better graphics capabilities than the Gamecube, sailing can go much more quickly.  The game no longer needs the break in between islands in order to load the graphics.  A "fast sail" option is being added to the game, as a result.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

More on Frozen

The Facebook page for this year's animated Disney movie, Frozen, has more pictures and details about the film.  Actually, I think I learned more about the film from Facebook than I did from the trailer.

The movie features a girl named Anna, who is presumably a princess.  She lives in the Kingdom of Arendelle, which is eternally trapped in winter.  Her sister, Elsa, is the Snow Queen.  It seems like our heroes are going to have to travel to the Snow Queen's palace at the top of the high mountains.

They also have a picture of a guy named Kristoff riding his reindeer, and a picture of a prince meeting a young woman.  No one is sure who Prince Charming is meeting yet.  To be honest, it looks like they copy/pasted the entire scene from Tangled.  The caption is "The fearless optimist meets the handsome prince."


At this point, I guess we can confirm that the movie has nothing to do with the original Snow Queen story, but I'm over that now.  It looks kind of interesting! Well, it looks like Tangled, and that was a good movie, so I'll probably like this one.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Lost Harry Potter Characters

Recently, I've been reading a Harry Potter fanfiction called The Disappearance of Sally-Anne Perks.  It's a story about Sally-Anne Perks, who is in the same year as Harry.  She gets mentioned during the Sorting in the first book, because her last name comes before Harry's, alphabetically.

Sally-Anne does not get mentioned anywhere else in the series.

J.K. Rowling has confirmed that there are forty students, in Harry's year.  She even showed her original notes on this topic.  The students are conveniently divided up, so that there are five boys and five girls in each house.

If you do the math, it means there are six or so characters that we know nothing about.  Two of them must be Gryffindor girls.

This blows my mind.  Why are there two girls in Harry's house/year that he never interacts with?  Is it because he dislikes them?  Why does he dislike them? Or is it that he doesn't know they exist?  How could he not know that?!

The closest we get to learning about these girls is from the Boggart lesson, in Prisoner of Azkaban.  The book lists everything the Boggart turns into.  Count them up, and you get nine different forms, for the nine Gryffindor students. (Harry doesn't participate in this lesson.)  The process of elimination tells us that Lavender Brown and the two unnamed Gryffindor girls are afraid of a rat, an eyeball and a rattlesnake...but that's all we know about them.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill (4 of 4)

Today is the final day of my notes on Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill.

1. The game makes it clear that Daryl Gray is Nancy's police contact.  At the end of the game, when you learn who the murderer is, neither Daryl nor Nancy contacts the police.  Instead, our teenagers decide to single-handedly fight a drug-dealing murderer who already tried to blow up the school.  Dumb move, guys.

2. If you listen to the voice clips when Daryl confronts the culprit, you'll notice that they're mixed up.  Daryl talks with Nancy's voice.  It's hard to notice, though, since the audio is quiet.

3. The final puzzle of the game is using the gun on the culprit.  If you're too slow, the culprit knocks Connie out from behind, then kills Nancy.  When you solve the puzzle successfully, Connie is still lying on the ground unconscious, as if she's been knocked out.

4. Nancy should not be able to steal the gun from the culprit, seeing as she is many feet away and standing in the wrong location.

5. The game's ending is sort of unrealistic.  Hulk should be kicked off the team for abusing steroids, Hal should be kicked out of school for plagiarism, and Daryl should be in jail from working as a drug runner.

6. Many of the problems with this game are fixed in the next game.  Phone calls become more useful and the plot/pacing is seriously improved.  The improvement I like the most, though, is Nancy's character.  In this game, Nancy seems a bit too removed from what's going on.  Half of her dialogue options are short sentences like "out of control?" and "college football?".  In the sequel, Nancy's personality is more fleshed out, and she starts to have actual conversations.  Here, she's more like the invisible girl that everyone talks at.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill (3 of 4)

Here are my notes on Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill (1998).

1. The boiler room puzzle is a good and suspenseful multi-part puzzle.  That said, it doesn't make any sense, plotwise.  Why did the murderer try to kill Nancy?  How does the murderer even know who she is?  She's an undercover agent, and furthermore, she's never seen or talked to the murderer.  He tries to kill her, at a point in time where she poses absolutely no threat to him.

If you fail the puzzle, the school explodes.  No, not just the boiler room: the entire school.  The murderer was willing to go very far, in order to kill Nancy.

2. Jake's VCR tape is in the school's vent system for no apparent reason.  Who left it there?  Presumably Jake did, because it doesn't make sense for the murderer to have left the tape behind.

3. There is a ladder, leading to an area below the boiler room.  Nancy can look at the ladder, but she can't climb down the ladder.  Presumably, this is the exit that the murderer used to leave the boiler room.  Why doesn't Nancy use this exit?  The exit is also there in the Remastered version of the game, but you can't zoom in on the ladder.

4. Jake's video shows Connie getting into her car.  You'll notice that the front part of the room is there, but the back part isn't.

5. The game breaks the first rule of good detective stories, which is "the culprit must appear in the story".  Instead, the culprit doesn't appear or get mentioned, until five minutes before the game ends.  It is literally impossible for you to put together the clues and solve the mystery yourself, because the culprit is a complete outsider that you've never heard of.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill (2 of 4)

Here are more notes on Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill (1998).

1. The puzzle in the kitchen of Maxine's is pure moon logic.  The solution is to prop up a leaky gas line, by using a soup ladle.  This puzzle makes no sense, even if you decoded the vague clues that tell you what to do.

2. Jake's locker has been covered with police tape, but when you open it, you'll notice that the police did not take anything out of the locker.  This includes a potentially dangerous knife.

3. Nancy steals Jake's knife and uses it to break into the teacher's lounge.  How?  She cuts a hole through the window.  That's out of character for Nancy.  Sure, she has a habit of sneaking into areas where she doesn't belong, but actually vandalizing a school is going too far.

4. The teacher's lounge has an email and a report from the school's head of security.  This means either the school has a dedicated security team, or just one security guard with an overblown title.  Either way, the presence of school security makes you wonder why there is no adult supervision, at any point during the game.  Where was the security when Jake was killed? Where was the security when Nancy broke the window to the teacher's lounger?

Furthermore, read the report in detail. At 8:30 PM, the head of security sees Jake in the school with an unknown man (presumably the murderer). The security guard gives chase, but Jake and the murderer escape through different exits.  Since Jake was alive at this point in time, his murder took place afterwards.

The problem is that Jake died at Paseo Del Mar High,  This means that Jake and the murderer must have broken back into the school, after being chased out by security. WHY? The security caught them once, so why would they return?  The best motive you can come up with is "the murderer wanted to frame another student", but how did he convince Jake to go along with this plan?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill (1 of 4)

Here are my notes on Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill (1998).

1. The premise of the game is that Nancy is going undercover as a new student, in Paseo Del Mar High.  This premise is completely derailed, when you realize the game takes place in May or June.  I got that date from the background art.  Specifically, the poster next to Connie says Prom is on May 23rd, and the bulletin board with the hidden message "search below danger sign in kitchen" says that yearbooks are coming soon, on June 12th.

This means Nancy is starting as a transfer student in May.  Nobody wonders why a transfer student is starting at the very end of the school year.

Furthermore, look at the first sentence of the game.  "Dear Dad, who would have dreamed taking an entire semester off to visit Aunt Eloise in Florida would result in another case?" Nancy has been in Florida for the entire spring semester, but she is only attending high school just now.  What did she do during March and April?  Attend a school other than the one Aunt Eloise works at?

2. The game begins with Nancy searching Aunt Eloise's house for hidden items.  It's a nice challenge, but you have to wonder why Aunt Eloise decided to hide things from Nancy.  Is Eloise trying to sabotage the investigation, or does she not trust Nancy?

3. There are three separate menus at Maxine's Diner.  One is on a table, one is behind Daryl, and one is on the display right of Daryl.  None of the menus have matching prices.  One says a burger is $2, one says a burger is $1.30, and the third one (the menu on the table) says that the cheeseburgers range from $14 to $24.  Fourteen bucks for a cheeseburger? No wonder this place never has any customers!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Abandoned Project

I have abandoned my project of doing a review of the Nancy Drew series, in the style of Pop Arena's Opinionated Animorphs Guide (or The Nostalgia Critic, if you prefer him).  In their reviews, they talk about the book/movie, from beginning to end, intersplicing the plot summary with tons of jokes.

This is different from my reviews, where I just tend to talk about random things, instead of talking about everything.

I've abandoned the project, because it would take too long. I worked for at least six hours on Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill (1998), and that's one of the shorter games.  It would take forever for me to discuss the entire series in the nitpicky level of detail I'd like to use.

I still have five pages on notes on Secrets Can Kill.  I'll adapt these notes for a blog entries this week.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Vampire Diaries

Yesterday, I talked about The Vampire Diaries in Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill.  It turns out that this is not a book.  It's a computer game, made by Her Interactive, in 1996.  Like Secrets Can Kill, it has long since been out of print, because no one has Windows 95 anymore.

Holy guacamole.  A different adventure game by Her Interactive?  That sounds awesome, even if the reviews are bad.  I can handle bad 90's adventure games!  I played through Chaos: A Fantasy Adventure Game after all.

I tried to find a copy of The Vampire Diaries, but it turns out that the game is rare.  Fans of the book series pretty much devoured all known copies, so unless I'm willing to pay $600, I probably won't see it.

Well, darn.  I guess I'll set up an auto-search for the game on eBay.  That's how I got a copy of the 1993 Pagemaster game, although it took over six months.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Nancy Drew - The Vampire Diaries

I was replaying Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill (1998) yesterday, and guess what book I found in the library?


Yeah, that's The Vampire Diaries.  It's easier to read the title, when playing the game in fullscreen (where the picture is twice as large).  I find it interesting that the book series was in the Nancy Drew games, long before they were turned into a hit TV show that I never watch.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Three Things - Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker

My recording of Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker is back on!  I fear half of the first ten videos will look weird, but I'm not sure what I can do about that.

In my opinion, the game takes a steep decline in quality, after the first hour or so.  Once Ganon appears and Link meets the King of Red Lions, things go directly from "good" to "bad".  And here are three reasons why.

1. The plot changes at this point.  Previously, Link was focused on saving his kidnapped sister.  Now, he's focused on collecting the three Goddess Pearls.

The problem?  His sister is still kidnapped.  But Link, and everyone else, completely forgets about her for several hours.  That's an unrealistically mean thing for Link to do.  His sister should still be his #1 priority, at this point.

2.  To make matters worse, Link has no real reason to collect the Goddess Pearls.  He's only doing it, because his magical talking boat told him to.

If I was Link, I would demand an explanation from the boat, before agreeing to collect the pearls.  The boat does have a good reason for wanting the pearls, but he never bothers to tell it to Link. As a result, Link (and by extension, the player) has little sense of motivation or purpose in this section of the game.

3. The game's villain is Ganondorf from Ocarina of Time.  He's back from the dead and eager for revenge.

The problem with this is that Ganondorf has been dead for hundreds of years.  He can't get revenge, because everyone he knew is long dead.  Heck, even the place where he lived is gone for good.  His revenge plot is over before it even began.

So...yeah.  Ganondorf is completely disconnected from everyone and everything in the world.  He is so disconnected from everything that only two people in the world even know he exists.    This really takes away from his effectiveness as a villain, you know?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Frozen Trailer

Yesterday, Disney released the first trailer for Frozen, which is coming out this year.



The movie is based on the fairy tale called The Snow Queen.  You can't tell that from the trailer, which features absolutely no queens, Dutch children or evil mirrors.  It does have some snow, though.

Question: Are any of you readers familiar with The Snow Queen?

I can summarize the story for you, if you want.  It's about a young boy who is corrupted by a demon-made mirror.  The Snow Queen kidnaps him and taks him to Finland.  His next door neighbor goes searching for him, and she has minor adventures.  Eventually, she finds him, and she warms his heart with a song about the Baby Jesus.  Then they go home.

I'd have to read the story again, to give you more details.  I'm fairly certain that Disney will not include the plotline about Jesus Christ's power overcoming the demon's influence.  I'm guessing that the movie will have true love's first kiss as the thing which melts his frozen heart, even though they're both, like, eight years old.  Or maybe the goofy snowman in the trailer will save the day.  It's hard to tell what happens in the movie at this point.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Goku's Heart Vaccine

Recently, I've been thinking about the dumbest moment in all of DragonBall Z.  There are a lot of stupid moments in the series, but this one takes the cake.

At the start of Season 4, our heroes meet Future Trunks.  He says that, three years in the future, two androids will appear and take over the world.  To make matters worse, the leader of the Z Fighters, Goku, is going to die from a heart virus.

Trunks gives Goku a vaccine, to prevent him from getting the heart disease.

Here's the stupid part: Goku never actually takes the vaccine.  I'm serious.  A guy from the future literally hands Goku the cure to his disease, and Goku decides not to take it.  Twelve episodes later, Goku collapses from the heart disease in the middle of a big battle.  Now our heroes have to fight the battle without their leader!  Oh no!

Seriously, Goku?  That was a dumb move.  The next time someone builds a time machine, just to save your life, you should actually pay attention.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Equestria Girls - Plot Synopsis

Yesterday, I drove up to Washington to see the My Little Pony: Equestria Girls movie with a bunch of bronies.  For those of you unfamiliar with this movie, here is the preview:



No, wait.  That's the parody trailer.  The real trailer is here.

In the movie, a villain named Sunset Shimmer steals Twilight Sparkle's crown.  Sunset then escapes through a mirror/portal to the human world.  Twilight has to chase after Sunset Shimmer and retrieve the crown, but there's a catch.  She has to get the crown within three days, or she'll be stuck in the human world for a month.

The human world ends up being Canterlot High School.  Twilight doesn't know how to use her new body or anything else in this strange new world, but she manages to track the crown all the way to the lost and found box in Principal Celestia's office.

Since no one has claimed the crown, Principal Celestia is planning to give it to the Prom Queen Princess of the Fall Formal.  At this point, Twilight Sparkle decides to be a complete idiot.  Instead of taking the crown right then and there, she decides it'd be better if she won the popularity contest at the dance.

Twilight has a tough task ahead of her, considering the fact that Sunset Shimmer is the most popular girl in school.  As a villain, Sunset Shimmer is sort of a toothless tiger; she spends most of her time making evil faces and vague threats.  The real villainy is committed by Sunset's two goons.  They use their camera phones to record embarassing footage of Twilight, and the video gets spread all over school.

In the meantime, Twilight meets the human versions of her friends, who are all fighting with each other.  Twilight has to re-introduce herself to them and solve their friendship problem.  It turns out that the fight is over some bogus text messages that were sent from Pinkie's cell phone.  The five girls apologize for the mixup.

Now that our six heroes are friends again, they work together to put on a musical number in the school cafeteria.  This boosts Twilight's popularity, and it looks like she might win the contest after all!  At the very least, she's caught the eye of the random hot guy in school that she bumped into earlier.

Sunset Shimmer's goons destroy the school gym, and they frame Twilight for the crime.  For about half a minute, it looks like Vice Principal Luna is going to expel Twilight for trashing the gym, but the random hot guy shows up with proof that Twilight is innocent.  She hugs him, and he asks her to be his date to the dance.

Twilight and her friends do another musical number, while cleaning up the destroyed gym.  The entire school pitches in, and the dance gets un-cancelled.  All the students are happy about this, and a lot of them cast votes for Twilight as the most popular girl in school.

Everyone leaves school to get ready for the dance.  Twilight has a minor ethical dilemma at this point, and she decides to tell her friends that she is really a pony princess from another world.  At first, they think she's crazy, but she manages to prove her story with her talking pet (Spike).  All six of them once again agree to be friends forever.

They all go back to school for the dance.  It is revealed that Twilight won the vote for Princess of the Fall Formal.  She gets her crown back, but then a lot of drama happens.  Sunset Shimmer's goons kidnap Twilight's pet, and Sunset threatens to destroy the portal back to the pony world.  Things look bad, but Twilight is inspired by the power of friendship, and she makes a passionate speech about how she'd rather be stuck here forever than let Sunset win.

A mad scramble for the crown ensues, and Sunset gets her hands on the crown.  She uses it to turn herself and her goons into giant dragon-like monsters.  She also turns everyone in the school into her mindless zombie slaves.  Don't ask me how or why this happens.  The movie doesn't explain.  Now that Sunset has conquered the human world, she vows to conquer the pony world.

But wait!  When Sunset tries to use her evil magic on Twilight and the others, it has no effect!  That's because they're protected by the power of friendship!  Twilight makes another passionate speech about friendship.  Twilight and her friends somehow make a rainbow-colored cyclone of friendship.  They also turn into strange half-human, half-ponies here, for no particular reason.  I'm not kidding.  All of them grow tails and pony ears, while three of them grow wings.  At no point does anyone express any surprise over the fact that six people have become horse women.

The friendship cyclone turns everyone back to normal.  Sunset Shimmer starts crying like a maniac, and she apologizes for everything. Twilight explains that Sunset Shimmer isn't really a bad person.  She was only being mean, because she doesn't have any friends.  Everyone agrees to be Sunset's friend from now on.

Now that the villain has been defeated, everyone celebrates at the dance. Afterwards, Twilight says goodbye to all of her new human friends.  She returns to the pony world, where she meets the pony version of random hot guy.  Her friends tease her about him, and the movie ends.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Mr. Logic

The other day, I got a comment on this blog, suggesting that I have a limited viewpoint.

The truth is that all viewpoints are limiting.  If you believe something, that automatically means there is something you don't believe in.

Examples:
  • I believe it is Thursday.  Therefore, I do not believe it is Friday.
  • I like the President.  Therefore, I do not dislike the President.
  • I like and dislike the President.  Therefore, I do not completely like the President, nor do I completely dislike the President.
  • I believe everything is correct.  Therefore, I do not believe anything is incorrect.

In the field of logic, this is called the law of non-contradiction.

Treasure Mathstorm Speedrun

I kind of want to do a speedrun for Treasure Mathstorm, an educational game from the 1990's.  The 1994 version of the game has an exploitable feature, which allows you to go through the game quickly.

Here's the math on the game.  To win the game, you must collect 450 presents.  You can get 15 presents, maximum, on each round of the game.  Therefore, it takes 30 rounds to win.  Since it costs 1 (currency) to get a present, it costs 450 (currency) to get all the presents.

To get through each round, you must get 12 items.  Since it takes 30 rounds to win, you have to get 360 items, total. You can get items for free by solving math challenges, or you can pay 6 (currency) for them.

The currency changes, depending on where you are in the game. Level 1 uses pennies as currency. Level 2 uses nickels, level 3 uses dimes, and level 4 uses quarters.

Here's the exploit: You can manually change which level of gameplay you're on.  The strategy is to switch immediately to Level 4 and get 105 quarters.  This lasts 1.2 rounds, on Level 4.  Then, switch back to Level 1.  You keep the same amount of money, but now it lasts you 30 rounds.

That's the basic strategy.  Get all the money you need at the start of the game, then just coast through 30 rounds buy purchasing all the items in the store.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

On Love

Woah, my post about marriage two weeks ago is up to 450+ comments.  I've been staying away from it myself, because I don't want to get involved in any comment wars, but I'm told I need to address the topic.

Most people I know say that marriage is about love.  I like to push people a bit, so I force them to elaborate by asking, "What is love?".  Half the time, the person makes a joke about Saturday Night Live.  The other half of the time, I get a response like, "Love is the happy feeling you get when you're around a certain person."

That is a very immature definition of love.  I have often said that love is not a feeling or an emotion.  Feelings and emotions are temporary, whereas love is eternal by nature.  No one says, "I will love you for three months and six days"; they say, "I will love you forever."

Does love involve feelings like happiness?  Yes.  But happiness is not love.  Happiness is a result of love. The opposite is also possible; you can love someone, at the same time you are unhappy or angry with them.

In my experience, marriages and relationships do not last, if they are built only on feelings.  The same is true of relationships that are built on sexual attraction or pleasure.  When those things eventually disappear or wear off, the relationship quickly self-destructs.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Disney Fights

Someone wants me to describe who would win, if various Disney characters fought each other.  The request was too weird for me to turn down, so here are my thoughts:

1. Timon VS Pumbaa. Pumbaa has an obvious advantage in size and strength, but Timon is too smart for him.  Timon can easily trick Pumbaa into doing whatever he asks; I have to imagine this will allow Timon to win the fight.

2. Clayton VS Gaston.  Gaston, hands down.  He is much better at fighting.  As a specimen, yes, he's intimidating.  Clayton might win in a hunting battle, depending on what sort of prey they're going after, but in a fist fight, Gaston would win.

3. Goofy VS Pluto.  Goofy has the obvious advantage in this dog fight, because he's bigger, smarter, and he can stand on his hind legs.  However, Pluto is more aggressive; I've seen him chase after cats, whereas Goofy is too good-natured to get into fights.  I think Goofy would come very close to winning, and at the last second, he'd do something stupid like trip over his shoelaces and fall down.  Pluto would then steal the victory.

4.  All Seven Dwarves.  Bashful is too afraid to fight, Sneezy is a breeze, Sleepy would fall asleep, and Doc and Happy are too nice to fight very well.  That leaves Grumpy and Dopey.  Grumpy is very mean, and he could win if he uses his pent-up aggression to his advantage.  Dopey also seems like a strong contender, because he has a lot of energy and isn't easy to stop.

5.  The Disney Princesses.  I'd have to pick Mulan, who is the only trained warrior in the bunch.  She managed to defeat the Hun army, almost by herself!  Merida would probably be Mulan's biggest threat, but Merida's only real weapon is the bow and arrow.  Mulan knows how to defend against arrows--she does so at the start of the battle against the Huns--so I think she could successfully defeat Merida.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Three Things Thursday

1. So, um, popular music.  Do I actually have any effect or choice whatsoever, in determining what songs are popular?  Or does that all get decided for me?

2. When is the United States Supreme Court scheduled to hand down its sentences on the various cases it heard?  Everyone is anxious to hear what the verdict is on gay marriage, and I'm anxious to know what will happen with health care.

I certainly would like health care, provided that it doesn't cost more than I can afford, and provided that I don't have to pay for abortions.

3. I recorded six videos of the Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker run, but there are bad technical difficulties.  I'm not sure what's wrong.  I think my recording equipment hates the game fiercely, for not being in widescreen.

Right now, the video gets messed up, whenever the camera angle changes.  If the camera stays in the same place, everything is fine.  So, as long as Link doesn't go anywhere or do anything, the game's footage will be perfect.

Yeah...I'm not sure what to do about this.  Maybe I should just forget the walkthrough.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Mystery of the Broken Heart, Chapter Four

Here's Chapter Four of The Mystery of the Broken Heart.  The focus shifts back to Nancy here.

---

Nancy rubbed her head and she got out of her sleeping bag. Besides for the phone call to George and a quick snack around noon, she had slept all day long. She wasn't sure why Thornton Hall made her so tired during the day.

It was dark outside, and Nancy checked her phone to see that it was a little before 6:00 PM. The phone said she had five saved voicemails from Ned and one from her father. Nancy deleted Ned's voicemails without even listening to them, then she called her father. Mr. Drew was a bit worried that Nancy wouldn't make it back home in time for her birthday, in five days.

After that, Nancy read her text messages. She had three of them, and the first one was from George.

I called Bess. The boyfriend thing was just one of her stupid jokes. She and Ned are not a couple. Repeat: they are NOT a couple.

Nancy considered it for a moment. Bess did come up with stupid jokes sometimes, but...Nancy wasn't so sure. Pretending to steal a boyfriend was in bad taste, even for Bess.

The second text message was from Henry Bolet, a college student Nancy met while in New Orleans. He had a random question about Nancy's investigation there, a few years ago. The final text message was from Deirdre Shannon.

Sooo...does this mean Ned is single again?

"How the heck did she find out?" Nancy cried out loud. Deirdre was Nancy's semi-rival back in River Heights. She had a crush on Ned for as long as Nancy could remember and...

"I don't get it," Nancy said. "I can trust Ned around Deirdre. I can even trust him around Minkie McNab! But I can't trust him around Bess? Something's weird here."

Nancy sighed and tried to put her relationship problems out of her mind. She had a mystery she needed to focus on.

For the most part, Nancy was able to completely focus on the strange happenings at Thornton Hall. When Nancy started talking with Jessalyn Thornton, however, she cracked completely.

"Did you know Colton's here?" Nancy asked. "He's been talking to another girl named Lexie."

"I don't have time for that," Jessalyn said.

"Well, make time for that!" Nancy said. "Your boyfriend is cheating on you! He's a dirty slob who should be grabbed by his messy hair and his...adorable eyes and...WHY? Why are boys like that? And with Bess, of all people!"

"Nancy, are you-?"

"Well, I'm going to figure out what happened," Nancy said. "Was it her fault, or his fault? I guess it doesn't really matter, but I have to know! I have to know!"

"Are you feelin' okay?" Jessalyn asked.

"What?" Nancy asked. Then she slapped herself on the forehead. "Oh, right, Charlotte's necklace. I'll get it for you. Don't worry."

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Phoenix Wright 3: Case 3

This week, I'll be uploading videos for Case #3 of Phoenix Wright 3, at a rate of four videos per day.  This is not a very popular video walkthrough, in terms of how many people are watching, but I might as well finish it.







Monday, June 10, 2013

Wait, What?

On Saturday, I had people vote on which Zelda game I should play next.

On Sunday, I declared that Twilight Princess won.

It turns out that two additional votes were cast for Skyward Sword, in the time period between me writing Sunday's blog entry, and the entry being posted.  That brings us to a tie, with Skyward Sword and Twilight Princess getting six votes apiece.

...Ugh.

There were also a healthy number of votes for Wind Waker, if you include the two votes which said "Wind Waker or Skyward Sword".  I also understand the argument that I should play Wind Waker next, after playing the N64 Zelda games, so...Wind Waker it is.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Twilight Princess Wins!

Yesterday, I asked which Zelda game I should play next.  Time to tally up the votes!

  • Oracle of Seasons / Ages (Gamboy Color) = No Votes
  • Wind Waker (Gamecube) = 3 votes
  • Twilight Princess (Gamecube) = 6 votes
  • Skyward Sword (Wii) = 4 votes

  • Wow, good thing I put it up to a vote, because I was leaning heavily towards Oracle of Seasons.  That's my favorite handheld Zelda game.  I don't care for the DS or GBA Zeldas.

    Looks like I'm going to be doing Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess!  Let's hope my GameCube recording equipment still works.  I wrote a text walkthrough for Twilight Princess when it came out, but I remember little to nothing about the game.

    Saturday, June 8, 2013

    Zelda Games

    I want to do another Legend of Zelda walkthrough!

    I'm not sure which one, though.  Here are my options:
    • Oracle of Seasons / Ages (Gamboy Color)
    • Wind Waker (Gamecube)
    • Twilight Princess (Gamecube)
    • Skyward Sword (Wii)
    You readers pick for me, okay?

    Friday, June 7, 2013

    The Breakdown of Moral Arguments

    My post about divorce yesterday caused the comments section of my blog to explode.  People are really passionate about marriage in America.  I imagine things will be interesting in our country when the Supreme Court makes its ruling on gay marriage.

    The discussion reminds me of an article that Fr. Robert Barron wrote about gay marriage in April.  I'm going to summarize the article here.  Fr. Barron writes that it is hard for people today to have conversations about morality.  Why?  People have very different viewpoints on things.  "In regard to questions of what is right and wrong, we simply talk past one another, or more often, scream at each other."

    One example of the inability to have coherent moral discussions comes from Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan.  During the hearing on gay marriage, she became wary when someone mentioned morality.  She said, “Whenever someone expresses moral disapproval...the red flag of discrimination goes up for me.”  This is a curious statement.  She did not say she is opposed to bad moral arguments; she said she is opposed to moral arguments in general.

    So Americans have difficulty, discussing morality.  What is a result of this fact?  People have become obsessed with poll numbers.  It is true that poll numbers are interesting, but they do not determine morality.  If a majority of Americans believe X, it does not logically follow that X is good or bad.  "If a poll had been taken in, say, 1825, concerning the legitimacy of slavery, I would bet that only a small minority of Americans would have come out for eliminating the practice."  Poll numbers cannot be a substitute for moral arguments.

    Another indication of the breakdown of moral arguments is the tendency to replace "morality" with "sentiment".  This happens a lot with the topic of gay marriage; people sentamentalize the issue.  For example, you will hear a politician say something like, "I support gay marriage because my son is gay, and I want him to be happy."  That is a fine sentiment; all parents should want to see their children happy.  However, "I want my son to be happy" is not a moral argument.  It is a well-intentioned desire.

    [Note from Michael: The closest it comes to a moral argument is "my son should be allowed to do what makes him happy".  Any parent who has toddlers can tell you this is untrue.  You can tweak this sentiment in various ways, to make different moral arguments of varying strength.]

    Fr. Barron concludes his article, with the hope that some of the fog surrounding morality in our country may be cleared up.  He specifically avoids making any moral arguments about gay marriage himself, one way or the other.

    Thursday, June 6, 2013

    Changing the Definition of Marriage

    In America right now, there is a lot of a talk about "changing the definition of marriage".

    The last time our country changed the definition of marriage was in the 1950's, when "no fault" divorce became legal.  (A no fault divorce is one in which you can get a divorce, without needing to prove anything.)  The idea was that easy divorces would end absuive relationships and improve marriage as a whole.  That is certainly a praiseworthy goal.

    "A lifelong commitment" was dropped from the definition of marriage, and the results were shockingly bad.  Divorce didn't improve the institution of marriage; divorce practically destroyed it.  The 2010 census tells us that 44% of all children are raised by single parents, not married parents.  Today, marriages with divorce are more common than marriages with "to death do us part"; the current divorce rate is over 50%, with the majority of marriages ending after 1-3 years and 18-20 years.

    On one hand, I'm extremely reluctant to change the definition of marriage again, because the last time we changed it was such a huge disaster.  On the other hand, changing the definition of marriage again could be a good thing, provided that the new definition makes marriage more stable and beneficial to society.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that America's current definition of marriage is clearly flawed (and false).  We should change the definition, only if the new definition is an improvement. If a proposed new definition is worse than the one we currently have, I don't want it.

    Wednesday, June 5, 2013

    YouTube's New Format

    Today, YouTube is forcing everyone to switch over to their new channel format.  I guess they're trying to make a format which is more friendly for mobile devices.  It makes sense to do that, because about 30% of my viewers use mobile devices, but I don't like the new format, and here's why.

    1. I'm not allowed to have background images anymore. I liked having the old Nancy Drew logo as a background image.

    2.  In what I call "a dumb move", there is a seperate section for the "about me" page.  You know, the one-sentence description of my channel.  That does not need its own page!

    3. Playlists don't really work on the new channel.  Do you want to watch one of my video series  made before April of 2012?   As in, 3/4 of my content?  Well, good luck.  Old playlists are even harder to find than ever in the new format, which forces them into groups of 20 and sorts them by date.

    This was a problem I had with the old format, as well.  I want the choice of having all my playlists appear.  Why is that option off of the table?

    I also want the ability to sort my own playlists.  First, I want to put all the Nancy Drew walkthroughs together.  Then, I want to put the Zelda walkthroughs together, the Phoenix Wright walkthroughs together, the Pajama Sam walkthroughs, etc.  I have a logical order that I want my playlists to appear in.  That'd be much better than "auto-sort into groups by date".

    Even if I did something drastic like migrate all of my non-Nancy Drew videos to another channel, I'd have problems sorting the playlists, simply because I did not play the games in chronological order.  Bah, humbug!

    Tuesday, June 4, 2013

    The Mystery of the Broken Heart, Chapter 3

    Here's Chapter Three of The Mystery of the Broken Heart.  In this chapter, George calls Bess.

    ---

    Ned decided not to visit Bess the next day, and it took approximately twenty minutes for Bess to become bored out of her mind. She tried drawing, she tried cooking, and she even tried messing around on the Internet, but nothing worked.

    Halfway through the day, Bess got a phone call from her cousin, George Fayne. Happy for something to do, Bess answered the phone. "Hey, George! How's New York?"

    "What's wrong with you, Bess?! What are you thinking?!"

    Bess had to hold the phone away from her ear, afraid that her eardrums would break. "I take it you heard what happened."

    "I thought you and Ned were planning Nancy's surprise party!" George said.

    "We are!" Bess said. "But we couldn't tell Nancy that, so we just sort of...went with the worst cover story ever."

    "Wait, seriously?" George asked. "I mean, seriously? Why would you pick secret boyfriend as a cover story?"

    "What makes you think it was me?" Bess huffed. "It could have been Ned's idea!"

    "....."

    "Fine, it was me. But I couldn't think of anything else at the time, and Nancy was jumping to conclusions!"

    "I just got off the phone with Nancy," George said. "She's really mad, but she's also kind of...weird."

    "Weird? What do you mean?"

    "I mean, Nancy didn't sound like her normal self. It was like her brain was underwater or something. At first, I thought it was because of you and Ned, but I get the feeling there's more to it than that."

    Bess shivered. "You...you don't think the ghost has somehow gotten to Nancy, do you?"

    "No. There's no such thing as ghosts."

    "Sure, you're not afraid of ghosts, but not me! I need Nancy as my ghost protection shield! And the shield doesn't work if the ghosts are making Nancy act all crazy! George, we have to do something!"

    "I think the only thing you need to do at this point is tell Nancy the truth. The last thing she needs right now is a distraction."

    "Yeah, I know..." Bess said. "But I don't know what to say to Nancy. Besides, Ned said he'd take care of everything."

    "You'd better hope he does," George said. "Otherwise, instead of a birthday party, you should be planning a funeral."

    Monday, June 3, 2013

    The Mystery of the Broken Heart, Chapter 2

    Here's Chapter Two of The Mystery of the Broken Heart.

    ---

    Ned put down the phone, then turned to look at Bess. "That could have gone better," he said.

    Bess shrugged. "Well, what were we supposed to do?" she asked. "We couldn't tell Nancy that we're planning her surprise birthday party."

    Ned closed his eyes and pinched his forehead. "Yes, but you didn't have to say we've been watching tons of romance movies together!"

    "Sorry!" Bess said. "You know me. I tend to babble when I'm frightened! Or nervous! Or excited, or...well, okay, maybe I babble all the time."

    "Now I have to figure out how to get Nancy to talk to me again," Ned said.

    Bess wrapped her arm around Ned's shoulders and pouted. "Poor Neddy-Weddy. I'm sorry."

    "Okay, not helping!" Ned said, standing up quickly.

    Bess giggled. "Come on, Ned. Nancy can't seriously think that we're a couple, right? She knows us better than that."

    "Yeah, well, she just hung up on us," Ned said. "And she sounded really mad. I'm gonna have to do some major damage control here."

    "And that's why I prefer being single..." Bess said.

    Nancy picked up the pieces of her phone and stomped into Thornton Hall. Even though it was past midnight in Georgia, she was feeling incredibly energized.

    Throwing open the front door, Nancy saw the ghost of Charlotte Thornton, hovering above the stairs. Singing her spooky song about ladybugs, Charlotte slowly turned towards Nancy and floated closer.

    "I don't have time for this," Nancy said. She ran up the stairs and tackled Charlotte's ghost. Nancy flew right through the apparition and hit her head on the top stairs.

    "Ow," Nancy said. Knowing that the ghost wasn't really there made her feel a little better, but how could she explain its presence? Complicated holographic technology? Hallucinations? Exhaustion?

    "Stupid ghost," Nancy said, stumbling up the stairs and into her sleeping bag. "Stupid Ned. Stupid Bess. Stupid everything."

    Nancy tried to fall asleep, but she couldn't stop thinking about the fact that her two best friends had betrayed her. How long had the two been dating? Did they start when Nancy was out of town? Did Ned think of Bess, whenever he was kissing Nancy? Plagued with these thoughts, Nancy wasn't able to sleep for another two hours.

    Sunday, June 2, 2013

    The Mystery of the Broken Heart

    Here is my attempt at a story based on Nancy Drew: Ghost of Thornton Hall.  This is Chapter One.

    ----

    Nancy Drew yawned, as she walked out of the cemetery. Glancing at her watch, she saw that it was 12:05 AM.

    I should get to bed, she thought, feeling a little disappointed that she still hadn't solved the mystery that night. As she headed toward the main building, Nancy pulled out her cell phone and called her friend Bess.

    Bess picked up the phone on the fourth ring. "Hello?"

    "Hey, Bess," Nancy said. "I thought I'd give you a progress report, before I went to sleep."

    "Great, I've been waiting for you to call," Bess said. "I've been waiting on pins and needles for you to solve this mystery."

    "Have you figured out who killed Charlotte yet?" a male voice asked.

    Nancy stopped dead in her tracks. "Ned?"

    "Yeah, it's me."

    Nancy was very careful with her next question. "Bess, why is Ned at your house, after eleven o'clock?"

    There was a slight pause. "Nance, Ned is hanging out with me, while everyone else is out of town. I told you that."

    "He was there last night, too. And the night before." Nancy clenched her fists. "How much time have you two been spending together?"

    "It's not what it seems like," Ned said quickly.

    "Really? Because it seems like my boyfriend and my best friend are dating behind my back!" Nancy said.

    "What? No!" Bess said. "We're just having a movie marathon together, that's all! Friends do that all the time!"

    "Yeah, I was going to go home, as soon as we're done with Eclipse," Ned said. "There's only about fifteen minutes left."

    "You're watching Twilight together?" Nancy asked. "How many other romance movies have you two watched?"

    "Well, I don't like those action films that Ned owns, so I usually force him to watch romcoms," Bess said. "I think we've seen about five of them-"

    "I hate you," Nancy said. She hung up her phone, then threw it against the nearest tree.

    Saturday, June 1, 2013

    Fanart

    The Amateur Sleuth blog for this weekend contains some fanart of me.  They really captured my inability to correctly fold my collar over the edge of my sweater.

    Man, I wish I still had the ability to get my doodles off of a piece of paper and onto the Internet, so I could show them to you readers.  I could try taking a picture of a doodle with my iPad, but that doesn't work so well.