Sunday, January 31, 2016

Miss Clue Peril in Pemberly

People have been bugging me to play the third Miss Clue game, which is Peril in Pemberley. It's available for purchase now.

Why haven't I played it? "Available for purchase" means "available for pre-order", in this case. They have not sent out any physical copies of the game, nor have they sent out any digital copies. Like, I would play the game, if I could. But it's not out yet. So I'm playing Bridge to Another World: Burnt Dreams instead.

This game has had a lot of problems with its release date. This past Friday was actually their third release date. Or was it the fourth? Either way, I'm sure it'll come out eventually. The game apparently has been finished for a while now; Amazon just isn't cooperating with releasing the game. Perhaps they should have tried Steam?

[Edit: Download keys are now live! The game is out now!]

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Book Review Poll Results

Here are the results of my poll yesterday:



That's a one-sided victory for not making a new channel! [Unless it changes in between me writing this blog, and the blog being posted.] Fine by me. Here's another question about book reviews, in relation to my videogame walkthroughs. Which release schedule do you like more:

A. Videogame Walkthrough + Day Off + Book Reviews
B. Videogame Walkthrough + Book Reviews + Day Off

Basically, I'm asking when the day with no uploads should come, in the alternating walkthrough/book reviews schedule.

Friday, January 29, 2016

A New Channel?

So I was thinking, maybe I should make a new YouTube channel, one that's just for my book reviews.

Pros:
  • Separating book reviews from videogame stuff makes everything more streamlined. I know there are plenty of videogame fans who don't like books, who are annoyed when I post book stuff, and vice versa.
  • Scheduling will be easier for both channels. "Slipping random reviews in whenever" doesn't work so well, and gives me a huge backlog of book reviews.
  • I'd get a better sense of which book stuff is more popular. And I could try posting all my reviews in chronological order!
Cons:
  • I have no idea how to do it.
  • I'm officially a YouTube Partner, and I'm with a network. Does that transfer over to the new channel? Because if I can't get paid for views on the new channel... :(
  • I will lose all the views I currently have on the book reviews. Unless there's a way to transfer those over?
Let me know what you guys think. I might post a Twitter poll on the topic.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Boxcar Children 3

The Yellow House Mystery is the first REAL mystery in the Boxcar Children series. If you don't count the mystery of why these kids love being homeless more than anything else.

The first few chapters focus on Cousin Joe, who has reconnected with his old high school flame, Alice. The two of them work together on Surprise Island. It's not long before they marry each other and go on a honeymoon...to Surprise Island. That's right. Their honeymoon was at their work. Isn't Grandfather a millionaire? Couldn't he have paid for a REAL honeymoon?

With all this focus on Surprise Island, the Boxcar Children remember the abandoned yellow house on the property. Grandfather tells them the house's story.

Forty years ago, a man named Bill McGregor lived there. He was in charge of the family's horses. One day, Bill sold two racehorses and disappeared with all the money. Nobody has seen him since. The police searched the house multiple times, but they found no evidence whatsoever.

Maybe the police were drunk, because the Boxcar Children easily find evidence inside the yellow house. It's a secret letter, hidden behind a brick in the chimney. The letter is from Bill's brother, and it says the money is hidden in Bill's other house. I'm guessing that Bill probably knows his own address, but just in case he doesn't, the letter says the house is on Bear Trail, in Maine.

So our heroes are off to Bear Trail! That's a state park for canoers, and by huge coincidence, Joe worked as a guide there, when he was a teenager. If our heroes were smart, they'd go directly to the area with houses and solve the mystery right away. Nope! They decide to go the long way around, which means they have to take a five day canoe trip.

And that's the main thrust of this book. It's 100 pages of camping, which doesn't have anything to do with the mystery. It's just the kids travelling through the woods.

They have a series of short adventures, like packing for the trip, meeting a guide on the trail, and visiting a logging camp. The most interesting episode is visiting a cyclops cave, I mean, uh...a sudden storm which causes them to lose their food and build emergency shelter.

In the end, they arrive at the area with the houses. The book puts a lot of emphasis on an old hermit, who is the same age as Bill. *epic foreshadowing* After two days, our heroes realize that the hotel they're staying in is the house they're looking for. They search all over, and Benny finds the money hidden under the stairs.

Benny also finds Bill! He's the old hermit, naturally. Bill explains that everything is his brother's fault. His brother took the money for gambling purposes. When Bill couldn't find the missing money, he decided to run away forever and become a hermit.

And by "run away forever", I mean "he moved about half a mile down the block". Amazingly, that was far enough to confuse his brother's creditors.

The Boxcar Children convince Bill to rejoin society, and Bill is overjoyed to hear that the wife he abandoned is still alive. He gets cleaned up and goes right back to his old life of working for Grandfather.

Knowing Grandfather, he's going to charge Bill 40 years worth of interest on the unpaid money.

The End

Post-Book Followup

This book is okay. The main problem is that it doesn't know if it wants to be a mystery, or a camping trip. And so both storylines get hurt. Camping fans will be disappointed, because you have to wait five chapters before the adventures begin, and mystery fans will be disappointed, because the mystery gets ignored for a hundred pages.

The camping trip is pretty much in line with the two previous books, with one major difference. Instead of the Boxcar Children being independent and living by themselves, now they rely on Joe to do everything for them. It's not as interesting to see the Boxcar Children have adults guide them through camping. These kids have lived in the wilderness for at least half a year, right? They can figure it out on their own!

The mystery was my favorite part! At least, the first half of exploring the house was interesting. The second half of the mystery was less interesting. It was kind of obvious that the old hermit was Bill, since there are literally no other options, and I wasn't amused when Benny found the money by complete accident.

Overall, I'd say this is a transition book, one that changes the Boxcar Children from an independent kid series to a mystery series. It's not bad, but it's definitely not as good as the two previous books. I'm going to give it the average score. I give Boxcar Children #3, The Yellow House Mystery, a 5 out of 10.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

YouTube Schedule

Okay, let's get down to business to defeat the huns with my YouTube Channel. I've got a lot of stuff recorded. Here's an idea of what order I'll post them in.

Miss Clue: Peril in Pemberley
Pokemon Yellow
Aviary Attorney - Case 3
The Barbie Detective Rap - YES THIS IS A THING THAT EXISTS
Boxcar Children 1-6 - Maybe doing all the reviews at once is a good idea
Aviary Attorney - Case 4b
Everything Wrong With Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill - Hopefully, I can finish this on time. It's the only thing on the list which isn't done yet. (Or even started.)
Bridge to Another World: Burnt Dreams
I should probably do another round of Pokémon here...
Awakening 7
Grammar Games

As usual, my schedule will probably be messed up, when a new game comes out, and I want to play it right away. Fire Emblem Fates is looking like the most likely culprit here. Maybe. I like Fire Emblem, but I don't think it's popular with my YouTube fans.

Edit: Ha ha! The schedule got messed up, even before I posted it! Miss Clue has been delayed, so...guess we'll skip that!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Boxcar Children 2: Surprise Island

The second Boxcar Children book came out 25 years after the original. That's a looong time to wait for a sequel.

The book begins with a surprise. Grandfather owns an abandoned island, and he's decided that the boxcar children can spend the summer there, living inside an old barn. If I didn't know any better, I'd say he doesn't like his grandkids.

A sailor named Captain Daniel lives on the island. He doesn't show up all that much; his only purpose in life is to give the kids groceries from the mainland, so they don't starve to death.

The important character is the captain's roommate, a mystery man named Joe. Joe has amnesia, because he broke his arm. Um...HOW does that work, exactly? Arm-breaking amnesia?

Joe's amnesia has been cured, but he still hasn't rejoined society yet, because his arm kinda hurts. Sort of a weak excuse to hide out on an abandoned island, if you ask me. Anyway, the mystery of the book is to figure out who Joe is!

The kids set up house in the barn, and they get settled on the island. They make friends with Joe, and we get Clue #1: Joe knows the name of a type of seaweed. Oh my, a seaweed mystery. How mysterious.

Henry gets an idea: they should start a museum! The museum will showcase all the birds and flowers on the island. Not sue why you would make a museum for an abandoned island, but the Boxcar Children are very excited, and they put a lot of work into building the museum on the top floor of the barn.

Joe goes to the library to get books for the kids, and the mystery deepens when Joe gets books straight from the shelves, instead of asking the librarian where the books are. It's like...he's been to a library before!!! *dun dun dun*

The kids explore the island and find a cave that's filled with interesting stuff. Joe recognizes these items as Indian artifacts. Clue #3, Joe knows a lot about Indians. Have you figured out his secret identity yet, detectives?

I should note that all throughout the book, we have short, one-chapter adventures, like the kids searching for clams and the kids checking lobster traps.

In one chapter, Violet decides she wants to learn how to play violin, but she gets conflicted, because if she takes lessons, it means she can't be with her brothers and sister all the time. I felt like I should mention this, because it's basically the first time Violet has been interesting.

Grandfather visits the island, to make sure the kids are still alive. It turns out that when HE visited the island as a boy, he made his own museum! Today, it's a full-blown museum in the middle of town. So being boring runs in the family!

You might have noticed the Boxcar Children aren't even TRYING to solve the Joe mystery, anymore. At this rate, they'll never figure out who the guy is. So in order to solve the mystery, the book introduces a man named Mr. Browning. Browning says outright that Joe is...

Wait, before the big revelation, let's review the various clues about Joe's identity.

#1. He knows about seaweed.
#2. He knows where library books are.
#3. He knows a lot about Indians.

Figured it out? Joe is the director of Grandfather's museum! And more than that, he's the Boxcar Children's long-lost cousin. Because hey, why not? They've got a cousin now. Not sure why he wasn't mentioned in the previous book, when the family had a custody debate over the orphaned kids, but whatever!

The book ends with a birthday party for Benny. Joe reunites with Grandfather. Grandfather is so happy that Joe is still alive, he overlooks the fact that Joe disappeared for a year, for no real reason.

After this, the Boxcar Children go home at the end of summer, and Grandfather blatantly sets up the storyline for the next book in the series.

The End

Post-book followup

This book is not much of a mystery. It's kind of impossible to guess that Joe is a cousin who has never been mentioned before, ever. Instead of calling it a mystery, I'd say this book is more of a continuation of the first book.

It's just a collection of fun, short episodes about four kids, living on their own. And in that sense, it's really good. I liked it. In fact, when I read these books as a kid, I was kind of disappointed that the series turned into mysteries after this book. I liked seeing them have adventures by themselves!

Now that I'm older...my main reaction to the book is wow, Grandfather is super-negligent. He abandons his kids, so they can live in a barn all summer. The kids are sleeping in old hay instead of beds, and the roof leaks. These are not safe living conditions for children!

Here's something fun. The one person who knows Joe's identity is Dr. Moore. The guy who refused to tell Grandfather about his kids in the first book? Yeah, once again, he's keeping people's secrets for no reason. I suspect Dr. Moore will become a villain in later books.

Overall, I liked this book. It's a worthy sequel, in that it's longer and more interesting than the original. I give Boxcar Children 2, Surprise Island, a 9 out of 10.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Cooking Videos

Mary has done two cooking videos for my YouTube channel. This seems like a good series for her to do.





(YouTube has no idea how to handle the recommended videos on these things, since I don't have anything else on my channel which comes close to it.)

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Boxcar Children 1

I don't know when the video reviews will go up on my channel, but I can still post them here on my blog, right?

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For a long time now, people have been asking me to review The Boxcar Children Mystery series.

The first book begins with four runaway children stopping at a bakery. They buy some bread and ask if they can sleep here tonight, in exchange for doing the dishes and the sweeping. The woman at the bakery likes the idea of free child slaves, so she agrees to keep them all, except Benny. He's too young to do much work, so she's gonna put him in a children's home.

The kids decide they _can't_ be separated from Benny, so they run away again. They walk for two days straight, and when it starts raining in the woods, they take shelter inside an abandoned boxcar. They decide the boxcar is a nice place, so they're going to live there now. Forever.

The Boxcar Children!

We only get a little backstory for these kids. They're siblings. Henry and Jessie are the older ones, while Violet and Benny are the younger ones. They're orphans, and they're SUPPOSED to be living with their grandfather. But they ran away, because they're worried Grandpa might be mean, so...they'd rather be homeless than meet the guy. Not a good decision, Boxcar Children.

Jessie spends most of the book playing house with the two younger kids. She cooks food, teaches them how to read, and cleans up the boxcar with supplies she finds at the town dump. Jessie has the good sense to wash everything before using it, but still. They're eating off of plates they found in the garbage. It's kind gross.

Meanwhile, Henry goes into town and gets a job doing yardwork for a man named Dr. Moore. Dr. Moore is a nice guy, but he lives alone with his mother, in a a house with five empty bedrooms. What's the story behind THAT? Did he move in with mom, after getting his medical degree, or what?

Dr. Moore isn't an idiot, so it doesn't take him long to realize there are four kids living in a boxcar. Instead of calling the proper authorities, he decides to help the kids, by paying Henry lots of money and giving him a lot of free things, especially food.

Grandfather offers a $5,000 reward, for the return of the lost children. Dr. Moore decides to be sneaky, so he tells Henry to attend an event that Grandfather is sponsoring. Henry and his grandfather meet each other, but they don't know they're related. It turns out that Grandfather is a really nice guy, so there's no reason for the kids to be running away from him.

Things come to an end, when Violet catches a cold. Dr. Moore takes her to his house, so he can watch over her. Since there are FIVE extra rooms in the house, Dr. Moore invites all the Boxcar children and grandfather to stay there. They meet with each other and become friends, and eventually they realize that they're related.

The kids move in with Grandfather, who is super-rich and provides for their every need. He even moves the boxcar into the backyard of the house, so the kids can always remember the happy days when they were homeless.

The End

Post-Book Followup

Every book in the series has the first paragraph of this book written on the back.

One warm night four children stood in front of a bakery. No one knew them. No one knew where they had come from.

No one knows where the kids are from, because the book leaves out that information! Where DID they run from? I always guessed it was an orphanage, but why were they sent to an orphanage, when their rich grandfather is one day's walk away?

That's almost as weird as Dr. Moore purposely ignoring a $5,000 reward, in favor of letting some vulnerable kids be homeless. In 2015 dollars, that's about a $70,000 reward. Dr. Moore admits outright he would have kept the secret forever, if Violet hadn't gotten sick. Very responsible man, that Dr. Moore.

This review is short, because the book is short. It's got very large print, and it was designed for people learning to read English for the first time. That's why the kids have somewhat stilted, odd language. Of course, the book was originally written in 1924, which also explains some oddities with language and word choice. But that doesn't hurt the book at all. It's still easy to read and understand, even if it's older than the Great Gatsby.

Overall, I can see why the book is popular with kids. It's about kids living by themselves and having a really fun time, without any major problems. I give the Boxcar Children #1, The Boxcar Children, a 10 out of 10.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Castle Malloy Videos

Here is the "Everything Wrong With Castle Malloy" video!



Also, here's a video of the conversation between Kit and Kyler.

Friday, January 22, 2016

YouTube Plans

My current walkthrough, Dark Tales: The Tell-Tale Heart ends today. If it's popular enough, I won't post anything tomorrow. That way, people will have an extra day to watch the videos and catch up. If it's not popular, then I'll post something new tomorrow.

On Tuesday, the new Miss Clue game comes out, and I'm definitely going to walkthrough that. So that will start either Tuesday or Wednesday. So I've got a 2-5 day gap in my schedule!

What should go in that gap? Here is a list of everything that I have recorded right now. I work pretty far in advance, sometimes.

Book Reviews - Boxcar Children 1-6
Book Reviews - Baby-Sitters Club 15-19 + Little Sister 1
Book Reviews - Nancy Drew / Hardy Boys Be a Detective 1 & 2
Book Reviews - Hardy Boys Casefiles #11: Brother Against Brother
Pokemon Yellow - 6 videos
Aviary Attorney - Case 3 - 9 Videos
Aviary Attorney - Case 4b - 4 Videos
Awakening 7 - 13 videos
Bridge to Another World: Burnt Dreams - 10 videos
Grammar Games - 2 videos
Everything Wrong With Castle Malloy
The muffled Kit and Kyler conversation
Mary's Cooking Video - Cupcakes
A One Hour Tesserae Slideshow

I was going to do Boxcar Children or Aviary Attorney, but Twitter voters said no. Oh, well.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Aviary Attorney

I've been playing Aviary Attorney, a fun game about bird lawyers in 1840's France.



Wednesday, January 20, 2016

eBook Prices

I got a Barnes and Noble gift card for my birthday. I was sad to see that old Nancy Drew paperbacks cost $6 on B&N, when they cost $4 on Amazon.

However, on both websites, Simon and Schuster charges $6 for the eBook versions of the old Nancy Drew books. That makes way more sense now! On Barnes and Noble, they are price matching. The eBook costs just as much as the physical book does. I would totally buy the eBook version, to help save the environment (and to get the books quicker!).

On Amazon, though, the eBook is $2 more than the physical book, so it does NOT make sense to buy the eBook version. I would totally buy the physical version, to help save money (and to get the resale value!).

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Speedrun Time Updates

According to Speed Demos Archive, my timing for my Nancy Drew: Sea of Darkness speedruns is off. I was, like, 13 seconds higher than I should be.

Specifically, I timed my amateur sleuth speedrun at 0:33:51.73. I used Windows Movie Maker to get that time. SDA is telling me that the real time is 0:33:38. Why did I have 13 more seconds? It can't be from loading/saving the game...can it?

With master sleuth, it's the same thing. I had 0:33:50.6, while SDA timed it at 0:33:37. They made me re-upload the files, with an accurate time count at the front of each segment. It wasn't that big of a deal, but it still took up a whole day to re-encode them.

Question: Should I update my YouTube videos, to account for these new times?

Monday, January 18, 2016

New Nancy Drew TV Show

In October, CBS announced that they're planning to make a new Nancy Drew TV show. It will be written by some Grey's Anatomy people, and it stars 30-year-old Nancy Drew working for the NYPD. Their last attempt at making a Nancy Drew TV show was in 2002. I didn't see it, but the Internet says that they aired the pilot, but didn't pick up the show.

Recently, the CBS President has said they're picking a non-white person to play Nancy in the show, to reflect the fact that she's written as a diverse character. Sounds like someone hasn't read the original, racist Nancy Drew books. Or any Nancy Drew books at all, for that matter. As the Wikipedia page for Nancy Drew says, the series has been criticized for being an upper-class white fantasy. Nancy is super rich and well-to-do, although sometimes that's less part of her character, and more of an excuse for how this teenager can afford to travel the world without being in school.

What do I think about this TV show? All we know so far is that it has a non-white, non-teenager Nancy Drew. Kind of sounds like they had a different detective show in mind, and they're putting the Nancy Drew license on it, to make it more successful. That happens a lot in videogames. (And sometimes in the book industry--does the River Heights romance series ring a bell?).

I'm totally going to watch/review this Nancy Drew TV show, no matter what.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Debates

The Presidential debates this year haven't been all that debate-like. In fact, when two candidates start to disagree about something, Candidate #3 usually steps in and explains why they have to get along and work together, because in-fighting is petty and makes the political system look bad.

Someone needs to tell these politicians that "debate" means "people with opposing viewpoints discuss their differences".

The moderators have also been a problem, in this regard. When two candidates start going at each other, the moderators try to cut them off, change the topic, move on to someone else. Similarly, we've seen moderators who ask a bunch of safe questions, like "Are taxes too high?" and "Do you think we should improve healthcare?". Those questions don't lead to substantive debates. They lead to eight people, giving the exact same answer, because everyone likes good healthcare and low taxes. We also see a lot of questions which are, "Hey, tell us something we already know!"

On the other hand, I guess I prefer moderators with safe questions, as opposed to moderators who dole out "gotcha" questions, in order to make the candidates look bad. Those moderators tend to look like they're trying to steal all the attention, like they think they're the focus on the debate, instead of the candidates.

I guess we'll have to wait a few months, until we get a debate between a Republican and a Democrat. Then we'll have people debate their opposing viewpoints. Maybe. Sometimes, Republicans and Democrats are less like "conservatives VS liberals" and more like "right-liberals VS left-liberals".

Saturday, January 16, 2016

SCK Remastered Speedrun - 6

I've spent enough time talking about my speedrun for Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill Remastered. Here is the actual speedrun!

The actual video is here, in case I forgot to embed it into this blog post.

The video is actually my three fastest speedruns, spliced together. Speedrun 1 had the fastest opening, Speedrun 2 had the fastest "school all the way up to the library", Speedrun 3 had the fastest "library up to Hal", Speedrun 2 had the fastest "Hal up to Maxine's", Speedrun 1 had the fastest "Maxine's to the boiler room escape", and Speedrun 2 had the fastest "boiler room escape to end". Basically, Speedrun 2 would have been the fastest, except I totally screwed up and wasted four seconds, getting to Hall from the teacher's lounge.

Friday, January 15, 2016

SCK Remastered Speedrun - 5

Is it possible for me to cheat on the speedrun?

One way to cheat is to mess with the audio files for the game. The audio files generally have a bit of silence at the start and at the end of each line. Maybe you can delete the silence, to cut down on the gaps between the different lines.

Another idea I had was to delete certain audio files. Like, at the end of conversations, Nancy can say, "Goodbye", "See you later," or "I bid you good day, my fair suspect, and should you prove to be the culprit, make no doubt that I shall return and secure justice against you.". Obviously, it's faster if she says one of the first two options. Maybe you can delete the files for the long conversation options, forcing Nancy to pick the shorter ones.

As it turns out, both these methods of cheating don't work. If an audio file is missing (or it's not the right length), the game just mutes it and plays like normal. So it doesn't save any time, and it's super-obvious you tried to cheat, because people are talking and there's no sound coming out.

Playing with the audio files resulted in me finding a fight between Connie and Hulk. Did this happen in the game, or is it a deleted scene? Connie's audio and Hulk's audio are in different places--which makes sense--so figuring out how to put them together to form a full conversation took some work.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

SCK Remastered Speedrun - 4

What is the speedrun route I'm using for this game?

  • Skip the intro scene by clicking the upper/right corner of the letter.
  • Use code “sigma phi kappa delta” to enter safe and get the key.
  • Go into side room and get the key from there.
  • Go to the school. Open Jake's locker with the code 5253.
  • Read the judo magazine and etiquette book. Look at the newspaper. You don't need to read it.
  • Talk to Hulk. Select conversation options 2-2
  • See judo poster
  • Set off soda machine with grape grape orange cool
  • Go to library. Use 5253 on the catalogue. Read the steroid magazine and the kanji book.
  • Go to Connie. Three conversations! 2-1. 1. 1.
  • Enter teacher's lounge and read Hal's essay.
  • Go to Hal for two conversations. 2-2. 1/2-2/1-2. (The order doesn't matter for the second convo.).
  • Go to Hulk. Hulk conversation: 3-3-3.
  • Go to Maxine's Diner. Daryl conversation: 1-2-1-end.
  • Get the letter from Daryl.
  • Enter the boiler room at the school with "note".
  • Get the gloves and the match card symbol. Use gloves on lock, and open it with 1967.
  • Pull levers: LL RR L
  • Grab the VHS tape by the vent, then leave through the vent
  • Go to Jake's seat in the library. Solve the puzzle there.
  • Go to Aunt Eloise's. Watch the VHS tape.
  • Attempt to leave the room.
  • Culprit Convo: 2-2-2-2.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

SCK Remastered Speedrun - 3

I tried the speedrun for Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill Remastered over 20 times. Here are the times I got.

Attempt 1 - 13:59
Attempt 2 - 14:05
Attempt 3 - 13:54
Attempt 4 - 13:39
Attempt 5 - 13:36
Attempt 6 - 13:30
Attempt 7 - 13:42
Attempt 8 - 13:42
Attempt 9 - 13:32
Attempt 10 - 13:29
Attempt 11 - 13:43
Attempt 12 - 13:37
Attempt 13 - 13:34
Attempt 14 - 13:22
Attempt 15 - 13:18
Attempt 16 - 13:14
Attempt 17 - 13:10
Attempt 18 - 13:48
Attempt 19 - 13:26
Attempt 20 - 13:10

So, the winners are 17 and 20, at 13:10 each. Not at all close to the world record holders, at 12:50 and 12:54, respectively. I think I'll give up on this project. No way am I going to beat these people with great reflexes.

Also, about 10 minutes of the game is conversation. After hearing the same conversations over and over again, I'm a little sick of them.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

SCK Remastered Speedrun - 2

The only other possible time-saver I can think of for Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill Remastered is the library route. The current route says that you visit the library twice. On trip one, you see the kanji book and the steroid magazine. On trip two, you use the catalogue to trigger the Jake seat puzzle, then you solve the Jake seat puzzle.

On your first trip, it's possible to do the catalogue, then turn left and do the kanji book and steroid magazine. That way, on your second trip, you can zoom up the stairs straight to the Jake seat puzzle.

There are two ways to get to the catalogue. Go forward between the desks, then take a right and head to the computers. Or you can go right, past the desks, then forward to the catalogues. I'm not doing a good job of explaining it, because I only did it the one time, but it lets you take one step forward, as opposed to two. Therefore, slightly faster.

Monday, January 11, 2016

SCK Remastered Speedrun - 1

I'm going to do another speedrun for Secrets Can Kill Remastered. There might be some minor timesavers left in this game.

For example! You have to enter the side room at Aunt Eloise's. You can turn right five steps, so Nancy can pick up the book with the key inside. OR, you can U-turn and go left, which takes three steps. That's slightly faster, right?

Similarly, when you leave the teacher's lounge. You can take five left steps to reach the hallway. Or you can take two left steps and U-turn to reach the hallway.

Looks like you can do the same trick, while leaving Hal to talk to the Hulk. You can take some steps right and U-turn to the hall, which is slightly faster than going left.

U-Turning away from a conversation with the Hulk is the fastest way to get out of the gym, although not if you want to play with the soda machines for the soda machine puzzle.

To get to the library from the school entrance, you can go left or right. Both routes take seventeen steps to reach the library. The left route forces you to do a hard right, so it's a little easier to go through the right-hand side, which has curves.

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These are minor timesavers, in theory. In practice...well, I'm not so good at doing U-turns then quickly turning to the side. Someone with better reflexes than me should be able to get it done.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

30th Birthday

It's my birthday today! I'm turning 30!!

I'm, like, twice as old as my fanbase now.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Castle Malloy Problems

At one point, I was going to do an "Everything wrong with Haunting of Castle Malloy" video. Care to help me out with identifying problems? Here's a preliminary list I've made up...
  • Nancy is too young to rent a car in the United Kingdom.
  • Donal is openly racist, and no one cares.
  • Nancy says she sees the castle gates, five seconds before the gates appear onscreen.
  • Nancy holds her phone in the left hand position, yet knocks on the castle gates with her right hand.
  • Nancy had a touchscreen GPS in the previous game. Now she has a flip phone.
  • Nancy brings a working cell phone to Ireland, but brings a back-up calling card, just in case. It's almost like she knew the phone would break ahead of time.
  • No way did Nancy's phone break. It just flipped over.
  • "Your dad, Hannah, and Togo too, of course". Kyler lists all the people she likes, but didn't invite to the wedding.
  • Donal goes on a two minute tangent about a rocket fuel explosion in 1944.
  • The boyfriend stealer is named Minkie McNab? Sounds like she was named by Lazy McCan'tWrite.
  • No, seriously, imagine going through high school with a name like Minkie McNab. It's no wonder she changed her name to Deirdre Shannon.
  • There are wine bottles in the background of the non-alcoholic bar.
  • Donal says Kyler is sleeping, but where? There's no bed in the tower room.
  • Nancy can hear Kyler, talking from all the way up in the tower room, but Kyler couldn't hear Nancy talking to Donal because...reasons?
  • The tower of Hanoi puzzle magically powers a lantern, because reasons.
  • In real life, crows do not get this close to humans.
  • Kyler has three different turtleneck sweaters, which are identical except for the color. I'm scared to see this woman's closet.
  • Donal has spent the past fifty years, cleaning up Castle Malloy. Donal is bad at his job.
  • Why is a weight for the weight puzzle inside the random fortune telling machine?
  • Why is there even a fortune telling machine here?
  • There's a giant hole where the wall is supposed to be, yet Kit isn't cold in the slightest.
  • Kit places the cots far away from the fireplace.
  • Kit.
  • Kit promises he'll tell the truth about his fight with Matt once you solve the seating chart puzzle, then he dodges the conversation and starts talking about the leprechaun book instead.
  • Kyler's wedding list includes past culprits who should be in jail, and therefore, are unable to attend.
  • Jane Penvellyn is not seated next to Brady Armstrong.
  • Why is Nancy sitting next to Lori Girard? Imagine how awkward that dinner conversation would be.
  • The game expects players to solve the leprechaun puzzle on their own.
  • Sure, Kyler moves from her chair. But she only does it offscreen, when nobody else is looking.
  • Why does Nancy need the buttons to press here? She should still be able to push the wall, without buttons there.
  • This hidden passageway is cool, but at the end of the game, Matt says he fell down a hole in here. I don't see any holes anywhere.
  • Matt claims he fell four feet, yet ended up in the hidden tunnel system. That's impossible to do, from the second floor of the castle.
  • The hidden tunnel system is nowhere near the bedroom where Matt disappeared.
  • Hey, Castle Malloy has a third floor! Maybe we should have gone there are some point.
  • Speaking of the architecture, where is the bathroom?
  • So...who dropped the clue, explaining how to get across the bog? It has to be Fiona, but at no point do we hear anything about her hiding inside the fireplace in the bedroom.
  • The bog crossing puzzle is super long.
  • Why are there a ton of flies in the cage? What are they attracted to? There's nothing inside, but a lens. You think they'd be attracted to all the herbs that are three feet away, instead.
  • Nancy is incapable of looking at the sheep doll, before getting a doll sorting puzzle with a sheep on it.
  • Fiona has been using a jetpack here for fifty years, but no one has seen her once, besides Nancy.
  • The gate opening puzzle.
  • Nancy opens the gate and leaves it open for a long time, yet none of the sheep escape.
  • This one sheep is seen by the archway, BEFORE Nancy opens the gate. How did it escape?
  • Kit leaves these drawings on the ground. Kit is a litterbug.
  • Also, Kit was on the far side of the sheep pen. Which means that he got through the gate, and presumably closed it after himself, so Nancy would have to solve the gate puzzle. Kit is a jerk.
  • Donal tells Nancy to collect the sheep, but doesn't tell her how to get through the ridiculous gate puzzle.
  • It takes Nancy three seconds to find Matt's luggage in Kit's area, yet Kit claims he had no idea it was there. Either Kit is bad at searching, or he's a liar.
  • It should be noted that nobody besides Nancy bothers to search for Matt.
  • The ogham runes puzzle.
  • Kyler forces Nancy to find a bunch of flowers for a bouquet. This bouquet is never used for anything, and you don't even have to put the flowers in the vase. It is literally just ten minutes of busywork, without any purpose.
  • The one area that you only visit once, to get flowers. How are you supposed to know where it is?
  • The other area that you only visit once, to get flowers. How are you supposed to know where it is?
  • The gear puzzle won't let you remove pieces in any order you want. You HAVE to remove the piece that's farthest from the start.
  • You don't need to print out the jetpack instructions correctly, in order to start the jetpack.
  • Nancy doesn't tell anyone about her jetpack.
  • Fiona is the only person to have visited the tower room in decades, yet there's not one speck of dust anywhere. She must be really good at cleaning.
  • "I think this doll is supposed to be...me". If that's what you look like, Nancy, you need a new wardrobe.
  • The book puzzle.
  • Nancy is magically supposed to know there's an island here that she can jetpack to.
  • Nancy's jetpack can fly for hours on end, unless she goes too far north. Then it magically runs out of fuel.
  • Nancy can jetpack past Kyler's window all day, and Kyler won't notice a thing.
  • Hey, what fuels these jetpacks, anyway? Is it gasoline? Does Fiona occasionally visit a gas station to get her jetpack fueled up? How does she pay for that?
  • What does Fiona eat?
  • The end of the game says that the siren caused weird noises. What siren? We never saw one.
  • Nancy is way too close to the rocket, when it goes up. She is dead right now.
  • Nancy and Fiona use jetpacks all the time, yet they never one run into each other.
  • We can see Matt's shoulders from the opening shot, but in all other shots, he's too short for us to see his shoulders. Either he jumped up just for that scene, or Nancy is talking to Matt while sitting down.
  • This was Brendan Malloy's working lab, right? Why did he fill it with puzzles, to make it harder for him to work?
  • The chemicals puzzle.
  • The controller in the chemicals puzzle has five settings. You never use the lowest setting to solve the challenge. It is there, just so people can accidentally grip a chemical too tightly and die.
  • Not all of these chemicals have explosive properties.
  • Instead of detangling these wires, Nancy lets them stay crossed, just to make this puzzle more difficult.
  • Nancy doesn't need to launch the rocket successfully, right? She just needs to launch a rocket, to open the silo doors. Wouldn't it be easier if she just faked a rocket launch?
  • How does Fiona open the silo doors from the outside?
  • Donal sleeps through this.
  • When did Donal get a cane?
  • In the ending scenes, Kit is played by Fango from the previous game.
  • Bad photoshop.
  • A crazy banshee lady can figure out the jetpack's fuel system, but government experts? Nope, no way.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Birthday Club Meals

My birthday is January 10th. I'm turning 30 this year. Uh oh.

For my last birthday, I signed up for a bunch of birthday club deals at restaurants. There are only about four restaurants near my house that have birthday club promotions: Baskin Robbins, the Ram, Buffalo Wild Wings, Famous Dave's and Fuddrucker's. And now that I think about it, those are all like 15-20 minutes away from my house, totally not close at all.

I made a point to sign up for the clubs in December, because it usually takes a week to process birthday club membership. I've heard horror stories of people trying to join on their birthday week, only to miss out on birthday freebies.

So the last week of December, most of these places gave me a free coupon, as thanks for being a club member for a full year. Which is awkward, because 1-2 weeks later, they gave me the same free coupon, for my birthday. Lesson learned! If you're joining multiple birthday clubs, you want to spread out the membership registrations! Try to stagger it, so you join one birthday club per month. That way, you get the "one year as a member" coupons spread out, instead of all at once.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Immortal Love: Letter from the Past

I did a walkthrough for Immortal Love: Letter from the Past. It's a neat game; I've liked every single game made by this company, 4 Friends Games.



It starts with our hero, Jacques, in jail. He has amnesia, and as he works to escape from jail, he learns that he's being framed for murder, so the evil Count D'Morten can marry his wife. That fiend!

The really interesting part comes, when Jacques gets a magical amulet that can turn back time, about fifteen seconds. Throughout the course of the game, he uses the time travel amulet about nine times, to get out of dangerous situations. It's sort of like the time travel mechanic from Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, but in an adventure game. It was really neat, and my favorite part of the game.

The game also has a neat theme song.




Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Garfield's Pet Force

In 2009, they made a movie out of Garfield's Pet Force, loosely based on the book series. There was also going to be a videogame spinoff for the DS, but that got cancelled.

In the books, our heroes go to a parallel universe and become superheroes. In the movie, it's pretty much the opposite. Everyone from the parallel universe comes here to our universe, for superhero antics. "Our universe" being Cartoon World, from the CGI Garfield TV show. I've never seen the TV show, myself, so I didn't know who any of the characters were.

In the first half of the movie, the superhero Garfield rushes to find the others and turn them into superheroes. Meanwhile, normal Garfield is kidnapped by the villainous Vetvix. He's supposed to hide a power crystal from her, but he screws up. Vetvix gets the power crystal and creates a zombie army, almost at the same time that everyone gets superpowers.

Now our heroes have superpowers and a zombie army to defeat. They fight their way to the top of a tall tower, for some reason. Normal Garfield feels bad about being a loser, so he teams up with a group of minor characters, and they help save the day! Kind of. They distract the zombies and lead them all into an orchestra pit. The zombies can't climb out.

The superheroes fight with Vetvix, and they are soundly defeated. She creates a giant monster who starts destroying the city, but normal Garfield is able to defeat it with his brains, his strength, and...well, really, he wins through sheer dumb luck, but the movie tries to make it seem like he did it on purpose, so we can have a nice moral about normal people accomplishing great things.

In the end, Vetvix is defeated and is turned into a happy person. The city is rebuilt, and Garfield realizes that he should probably do interesting things, instead of sleeping through his entire life. Then he starts dancing in the sky with Arlene, to show off the 3D effects. The end.

The movie was interesting, I guess. I preferred the books, which had more science fiction and plot. The six-year-old seemed to like the movie a lot, and my wife said it was really different from normal Garfield stuff. I'd probably give it a 4 out of 10, slightly below average. It's not worth seeing more than once, and the only truly interesting part was the cool-looking giant monster.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Garfield's Pet Force

When I was younger, I loved the Garfield's Pet Force series. It's really different from anything else the Garfield comic strip has produced. It's a sci-fi/action book series, mostly made up of text, with occasionally illustrations. Compared to the original comic strip, it's pretty plot heavy.

The story is that Garfield and his friends are transported into a parallel universe. They need to impersonate their doubles in this universe, who just so happen to be superheroes. Each one of them has a super power. Nermal can freeze people, Arlene has a hypnotic song, Odie's tongue is super-stretchy, Pooky is a flying half-computer, and since Garfield is the main character, he gets super-strength, huge claws and radioactive hairballs.

That's another thing which is different about the series. All five characters are together, most of the time. The comic strip pretty much never packs five or more characters into the same scene.

In the first book, our heroes have to learn how to use their superpowers effectively against the evil Vetvix. The second book is the revenge of Space Pie-Rat, a pirate rat who has grown gigantic. The third book's villain is K-Niner, a monster dog who causes dogs to rise up and enslave all humans. In the fourth book, Vetvix returns. She kidnaps four of the Pet Force members and turns them into a nasty mutant.

The fourth book was supposed to be the last one, but the series was so popular, it got uncancelled, and they made a fifth one. I didn't like that book as much; they had to do some plot hand-waving in order to bring back Vetvix, after she had been defeated forever. The series went back to being cancelled after that, but it wasn't forgotten by the powers that exist being the Garfield empire...

Monday, January 4, 2016

Do Your Job Well

I got a neat comment on my post about work attitudes last week.

There is more to life than advancement in career. My husband works in the tech industry. He goes to work, does his job, does it WELL, and leaves. He has no interest in moving up in his company. He is a highly valued employee, and rightly so. He works hard and then he comes home and lives his life with his family. I am proud of him.

I work at a pizza place, and the majority of employees are teenagers who haven't figured out the whole "do your job well" concept. They're still working on the concept of "show up to work, when you're scheduled". There are too many cases of people not showing up to work, without any warning. I know, because whenever two other drivers don't show up, they call me to come in and help pick up the slack. I've also seen one teenagers throw fits and leave in the middle of a shift, because someone at school said something mean about them, and they can't function right now.

Another part of the job that some other employees have a problem with is the uniform. Yeah, the uniform isn't the greatest costume ever, but you still have to wear it. The boss gets annoyed when people don't wear the hat, when they wear coats to hide the uniform, etc. It's really hard to get away with not wearing the uniform correctly, since it's so visible. I'm not sure why people keep trying to get away with not having the right uniform.

So I'm doing my job well, just by showing up and wearing the right uniform. That should be the bare minimum, but it's enough to put me in the top 50% of performers.

What I think makes me a GOOD employee is the fact that I do more than just my job. Like, I'm a delivery driver. But I can also do the other jobs, like make pizzas, clean the restaurant and work the front desk. Some employees, they have the mindset of "Whoa, I'm a driver. I don't work in the kitchen." But I'm willing to work in the kitchen whenever they need help. In fact, it's in my best interest to do so, because if there's a backup in the kitchen, it's going to be a lot longer before the next delivery is up. Help the company by doing what needs to be done, instead of just flailing around when your particular task is done for the moment.

I don't know if this is a company secret or not, but they don't really make pizzas in the order they're received. I'm not sure why. When I'm the only one in the kitchen, and I've got three orders, I start with the oldest order first.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Book Reviews

I did a Twitter poll, and most people want to see more 1980's Nancy Drew reviews! Which is a tad awkward for me, since I've got 7 non-1980's ND reviews, ready to go. (I was hoping something else would win.)





The 1980's is also when the Nancy Drew / Hardy Boys Supermystery series got started. I'll slip those in, according to chronological placement. For example, Supermystery 1 came out the same month as Files 24, so I'll review both those books at the same time. January 8th, to be specific. I'll do the same chronological reviewing, for the other four Supermystery books that came out in the 80's.

Fans of Nancy Drew might know that they started a third Nancy Drew series, entitled "River Heights", towards the end of 1989. I have the first five books from that series, but not the whole thing. At least one time, all three of the Carolyn Keene series published a book in the same month.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Land Before Time: Amazing Adventures

Land Before Time: Amazing Adventures is another DVD with four episodes of the TV show.

"The Spooky Nighttime Adventure" begins with the kids telling scary stories to each other before bedtime. Ruby tells everyone the story of the Hidden Runner, an invisible monster who attacks other dinosaurs. Everyone gets too scared to sleep, until Ruby confesses that she made up the entire story.

In a weird plot twist, it turns out that Ruby's made-up story is true! Mr. Thicknose from the snow movie reappears, and he goes off into the woods to find Hidden Runner. The kids tag along, and Cera struggles to admit that she's afraid. In the end, our heroes learn that the Hidden Runner stories are exaggerated. The truth is that he's NOT invisible; he's just a dinosaur species that uses camouflage to hide. I liked that resolution to the story.

The songs in this episode are repeats. They're "Adventuring" and "Big Water", just with different lyrics. Did you think I wouldn't notice, TV series?

"The Cave of Many Voices" is mostly a Chomper episode. Heavy rain floods the cave where Ruby and Chomper live; Chomper goes wild and starts attacking stalactites. So the kids have to explore the cave system now, in order to find a new home for Ruby and Chomper. One cave they find has large echoes, which they dub the cave of many voices.

Meanwhile, Ducky has a self-confidence issues, because she's so short. She tries to get Ruby's help, and learns how to talk big. When carnivores appear in the cave system and start attacking, Ducky saves everyone in two ways. First, she's so small she can run around and escape the villains' notice. Second, she scares them away with the echoes from the cave of many voices. So she learns being small is okay.

I should probably note that the villains in this series are Red Claw and his two helpers. They're supposed to be the most threatening carnivores ever, but they DON'T live up to that reputation, mainly because whenever they appear, they are easily defeated. Hopefully, there's an episode which introduces these villains and explains their backstory, because from where I'm sitting, they're no different from the nameless carnivores that populate the movies.

The first song in this episode is "Adventuring". Again? The second song, "Talking Big" is original to the series.

"The Meadow of Jumping Water" is a pretty bland episode. The kids go to see an area where there are geysers, and along the way, Petrie worries that Spike has bad luck. Red Claw and his ineffective minions attack, but they are stopped when the water hits them in the face. They also get stopped, because Spike rolled in smelly stuff. Petrie learns that bad luck doesn't exist.

The first song is "Adventuring", and SERIOUSLY? The same song three times on the same DVD! This time, Spike is the main singer, even though he can't talk. In fact, I'd go so far as to say this is one of those rare Spike episodes! The second song was not "Bad Luck", even though that would have fit in perfectly with the story. Instead, they sing "Good Times, Good Friends", a song which also appears in...

"The Canyon of the Shiny Stones". Cera's stepmother made a pile of shiny jewels, and Cera accidentally destroyed one while she was angry. Now the kids have to go to a jewel area to find a replace it. The jewel area is right by a volcano, and of course, the volcano erupts, putting all the kids in danger of dying a horrible lava death.

I didn't much care for this episode, probably because it was a Petrie episode. He spends ten minutes being scared and whining, as a buildup to the ending, where he is brave and saves everyone! Ha ha, just kidding. In the end, he is brave and goes to warn the adults. The adults save everyone. Why can't Petrie be the hero in his own episode? Poor fellow.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Star Wars

I saw the new Star Wars movie. Some people are complaining it's too similar to the other movies, and you know what that reminds me of? The Legend of Zelda series!

The Zelda games seem to be in the same boat as Star Wars. Each installment tries to be new and different, while at the same time, it tries to do the exact same things as the other installments, since you don't want to stray too far from the successful formula. Sometimes, it works well; I'm sure fans of Link to the Past loved Minish Cap and Link Between Worlds, because of how similar those games are. Sometimes it doesn't work so well, and you get 3-4 Four Swords Adventures games that are hard to tell apart.

The new Star Wars movie has a villain who is very similar to Darth Vader. He dresses in all black and has a mask which changes the sound of his voice. I can see why some people would complain that they're just repeating the villain from the first trilogy, as opposed to creating a new, original villain.

With the GameCube Zelda games, the villain is literally the exact same person from Ocarina of Time. Yeah, both games take place a thousand years after Ocarina, and all the characters have long since been dead. Not the villain, though! He's still alive somehow. I can only imagine the reaction if they did THAT in the new Star Wars movie. "Darth Vader is alive again, so we have to stop him again, by blowing up Death Star #3!"

Actually, I'm not sure I can say much more about how they defeated the villain. How long do I have to wait before I can start talking about the movie publicly, without spoiling it for everyone?