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Friday Things: 11/17 - Monday Edition - The Goddess Morticia Addams

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[Hah, I didn't forget about the link dump! I'm just.... late. Happy Monday!]

On Life and Happiness:

Take your vacation days! It's good for your health.

Very sad story about a dude who realized that he's wasted away his life instead of going after his dreams.

The Pope has some great tips for being a happier person, and you don't have to be religious to follow them all.

On TV, Anime, and Video Games:

I have always been aware of the Addams Family, but it wasn't until I rewatched the films as an adult that I came to see Morticia Addams as a woman to aspire to be. Here's a taste of why.

This is an interesting essay about what The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask meant to the author and why it's an important game.

Have an anime/manga/Japan-loving friend? My pal Lauren Orsini wrote up a great gift guide for the otaku in your life. I personally can vouch for the Just Bento Cookbook that's listed there, as I check it out of my local library pretty often for ideas when I want to mix things up. It's absolutely fantastic.

Other:

I'm a fan of the food at Disney World in general, but yeah, these "hidden gems" look pretty... yeah. I'm drooling.

Elido Turco goes into forests with a camera and a mirror and creates some truly stunning photography.

Stuff I Did Here and There:

Over at PANELS: Art Roundup: Spotlight on Groot.

On Book Riot: 5 Anime Series Based on Classic Literature.

New vlog!

[Have a wonderful week!]

Friday Things: 09/21 - Ricky Martin picture book

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[Woot woot - another three-day weekend! And I've just started playing Final Fantasy XIV this week, so this gives me plenty of time to really get acquainted with that game. I'm pretty excited. Of course, since I've been... er... busy? Not being on the internet as much this week... my link dump is a little shorter than usual.]

On Books:

Of all the celebrities getting involved in the book business, particularly the picture book business, I didn't expect Ricky Martin to grace the headlines.

Check out this article on Quirk Books for ideas if you're looking to make some good use out of old books for DIY projects around the house. Turn them into decorations!

This article on BookRiot needs no introduction besides its title, "Books for Boys and Books for Girls: Problems with Gendered Reading."

On Games:

Disney Afternoon fans - there's a new game out in the App Store and Google Play called DuckTales: Scrooge's Loot. I'll probably check it out.

Pictlogica Final Fantasy has also been announced for mobile. All we have for it right now is a quick teaser, but it looks promising.

 

 

Other:

A group of Thor cosplayers stand up to sexual harassment at a con. Winnnnnnn~

(via Fashionably Geek) Superhero fleece scarves! If they're actually warm and stuff, I'd totally rock these. Especially now that I live somewhere that I'll experience winter.

[Have a great weekend!]

 

 

Friday Things: 09/14 - more Potter, science, and outrage

LinksKristina PinoComment

[Yeah, yeah... I know it's Saturday... so as usual, I'll make it up to ya with extra links! Bonus time-wasting clickety-clicks!]

On Disney: 

Where's My Water? 2 [Free] is out! I didn't know it was coming until it appeared in the App Store. I haven't played it yet, but I'll write something up here once I've had some time with it.

I haven't played DuckTales: Remastered yet, but though it has generally garnered praise everywhere I look, Ben Kuchera at PAR Report had less than stellar, but important things to say about it.

Jack Skellington and Sally have debut at Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party! Though Sally looks quite lovely, that Jack costume leaves much to be desired. I've seen way better fan-made costumes.

Disney villains - sugar skull style!
 

On Books and Comics:

One of the most exciting bits of news I've read in a while - J.K. Rowling is screenwriting a new spinoff series taking place in the world of Harry Potter starting with stuff from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It isn't quite what I wrote about over at Quirk re: spinoffs, but I'll take it. Heck, it might even be better than what I had envisioned. 

In news that should surprise no one: Study shows that kiddos who read for pleasure perform "significantly" better at school.

"30 Books Every Woman Should Read by 30". I have read precisely two books out of this list, though a few others here have been on my radar.

In case you've missed it, some folks spoke up about the Harley Quinn try-out page, what the intention/context was, and some non-apologies from DC Comics

"Four Unique Ways to Show Off Your Love of Books" by Jamie Can at QuirkBooks.

 

 

SCIENCE:

"Voyager Has Left the Solar System!"

Tired of boring oval- or round-shaped watermelons? Not impressed by cube-shaped ones? Well, now someone has figured out how to make them heart-shaped

 

 

Other:

I have mixed feelings about Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call. It appears awesome, the new modes seem like they'll be rad, and I like the addition of songs from a wider variety of FF games, but I don't know if a whole new game is a better idea than just adding DLC to the regular version. That and, if it isn't exported, I won't be able to play it at all since I lack a Japanese 3DS. We'll know more about it next week after folks at TGS have had a chance to get hands-on with this.

Great article on Book Riot re: Hayao Miyazaki and his courageous decision to retire.

Breaking Bad spinoff taking place before the events of Walter White's story, Better Call Saul, is a thing that's happening. I haven't gotten to the point in the series to really be acquainted with this character, but spinoffs can be cool.

Chuck Wendig re: Internet and outrage.

[Have a great rest of the weekend! I've got Monday off, so there won't be a school lunch post that day. Yay, three-day weekend!]

 

 

Story Mode Complete: Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion

GamesKristina PinoComment

So I finished playing Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion. It's charming, it's beautiful, and it's absolutely worth your time - especially if you're a fan of Disney in general, but also if you're a fan of great art- and sprite-work being put into video games. If there's one major complaint I have about this game, it's that it was way too short.

Power of Illusion takes place after the events of Epic Mickey, but can be enjoyed independently of it. You've got the familiar paint/thinner mechanics, plus sketches; but besides that the game is more of an ode to Castle of Illusion and old 2D platformers, with a soundtrack that's reminiscent of, again, Epic Mickey.

After sucking all of the game play I possibly could out of Power of Illusion, I finally beat it and got to the end credits yesterday. I tried to artificially extend my game time by doing all of the side quests, rescuing all of the characters around the castle, and exploring all of the levels as many times as those quests called for it. But really, I feel like the game could have benefit so much by adding at least two more worlds. There were only three worlds with just a few stages each, so the game could be beat in an obscenely short amount of time quite easily.

The game mechanics were solid, albeit slightly repetitive. It made spectacular use of the dual screen, but the painting and thinning ended up being repetitive, having to paint and thin the same objects (using the stylus to outline said objects) in and out of existence over and over again, and there were very few opportunities to really make full use of the sketches. The pacing and everything was fantastic, and I loved how dynamic things became when the underwater world was introduced. I expected there to be another world behind it with even more wacky stages, but that ended up being the last one.

Another thing that was kind of weird is, though all of the princesses who appeared in the castle were still at the beginning of their respective storylines (Aurora was still with her aunts, Cinderella hadn't been to the ball, Tiana was still a frog, Rapunzel was still in her tower, etc.), some of them were wearing their iconic dresses. Ariel, Rapunzel, Snow White, Jasmine, and Mulan escaped this treatment, but Cinderella was in her ball gown, Aurora was in her pink gown from the end of the movie, and Tiana was in her frog-style wedding dress. I chalked it up to it just being another aspect of the illusory castle - that the princesses were whisked away and locked in while wearing some kind of dream outfit - but the weird continuity issues with that design decision still kind of stuck out. No, it isn't really a make-or-break problem with the game, nor does it hinder your game play whatsoever. It's just something I was thinking about.

After beating the final boss, the end credits were actually pretty satisfying. There's a great parade of the various characters you rescued coming in and having some final chit chat with Mickey before they went back to their own worlds. Some of them, like Ariel, were talking about the problems they were having at that point in their storylines, and even asked Mickey and Jiminy Cricket for advice or otherwise accepted some encouragement from them. Others were just ready to get home and keep on with their mission, like Rapunzel, who was getting ready to leave her tower, and Mulan, who needed to get to the Imperial City and save China. This was a little extra thing that I appreciated as a fan, since I was able to see where those characters came from.

I recommend the game, even though it felt like it was too short. Pool some money with your friends and just buy a copy to pass around if you don't think it's worth its retail value based on hours of enjoyment, or borrow it from someone you know! Again, it's absolutely worth your time, and you'll find it extra charming if you're also attached to the characters and properties referenced in the story.

Friday Things: 07/26 - Spooky manors and Princes in Oz

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[Oh hey, summer break! Yay! I actually am not leaving anywhere yet, so I'm still going to be able to deliver here for a bit. Enjoy the links!]

 

 

On Books and Writing:

In case you need some inspiration for summer reading, I've found two nice reading lists this week. The first one is from Bill Gates. The second one is from the team at Pixar behind the short The Blue Umbrella, which was placed before Monsters University in theaters.

Some great advice for writers, though you could probably change "writing" here with any other skill/craft and it'd mostly carry over into relevance.

JK Rowling goes a bit more in-depth about how she came up with various aspects of her latest crime novel, including her pen name. Interesting stuff.

Shameless Self-Promotion:

I made a video about Chanko - the soup that Sumo wrestlers eat in order to get big and strong. I'm still learning the ropes with this video-editing thing, but having fun with it so far! I'll hopefully be taking some more video soon now that it's summer festival season. On the subject of videos, if you look at my sidebar, I've added a little widget there showing the latest videos from the GeekeryDo YouTube Channel! So, you could just click there any time to see what I've uploaded recently. Alternatively, you could just subscribe and stuff. That'd be awesome. 

I reviewed Ozma of Oz (the third book in the Oz series by L Frank Baum) for Bookalicious recently! It's good stuff. 

On Games:

Neil Gaiman is making a video game along with The Odd Gentlemen titled Wayward Manor. It looks like it's going to be awesome, and you could support the game now while its release is still a bit off if you wish.

A Prince of Persia game on my iPad? Yes, I'm interested.

Other:

Awesome story I tuned into via Commander Hadfield on Twitter - a man fled his country and ended up in Australia, became successful, and then tried to pay the government back for all the assistance they gave him when he had nothing.

A 97-year old man uses MS Paint 95 to create awesome art. What?!

If you're not sensitive to Game of Thrones spoilers, there's a neat essay on Book Riot about GoT and feminism. I admittedly had a kind of knee-jerk reaction regarding this subject throughout the first season of the show, but I've warmed up to some of the female characters in much the same way.

Who are the people with the longest life expectancy on the planet?

[That's all for today. Enjoy! I'll be back with more links next week for sure, with hopefully more comics, games, and book reviews in-between now that I've got some more free time. Yay!]

 

 

iOS Gaming: Disney Mobile's 'Where's My Mickey?'

GamesKristina PinoComment

The latest addition to Disney Mobile's physics puzzler games in which you need to guide water to the proper pipe, Where's My Mickey?, has just recently been released. At a glance, it seems like an unneeded reiteration of a formula that worked rather well in Where's My Water? and found success with Where's My Perry? and all of their holiday spin-offs. I shouldn't have been surprised to learn that

Mickey? is actually a tie-in game for a new animated series.

The new tie-in game is done in the same kind of animation as the new show - vintage-feeling and goofy-looking, giving us the nostalgic feeling for the old-timey black and white cartoons of yore, except modern-like and in color. They're absolutely hilarious, and breathe new life into the Where's My..? games. When you download Mickey?, you start with four full-blown episodes that each have 20 stages (60 attainable stars) and plenty of attainable achievements. Besides the stars, you could collect various objects hidden in the sand and unlock special Pluto challenges. And if you feel like making some IAPs, you can buy some Goofy levels. Let's not get too ahead of ourselves, though.

Mickey needs water for his lemonade stand so he can cash in on thirsty beach-goers in the sweltering heat. He's trying to get water from the fountain, but it's up to you (the player) to guide it there. Besides the usual dirt (sand, this time) breaking during the basic levels, Disney Mobile added clouds and wind that we need to manipulate in order to get through each stage. It's actually pretty neat, and since the clouds drift with the wind, it all comes down to perfect timing for some stages.

After each stage, there's a funny little animation of Mickey pouring the water into his lemonade bin and then dropping a lemon (or a hundred lemons) in it. The lemons do different things, and some of the scenes actually made me laugh out loud. When you're done with the first episode, you get a cut scene, and then you can go back to the menu and pick the next episode and load up new challenges. At the time of writing this review, I went as far as beating the first episode before making an assessment.

I'd recommend Where's My Mickey? to anyone readily, now that I know it isn't just a lazy rehash of the other Where's My..? games. I like it better than Where's My Perry? , but I'm not sure whether it beats out Where's My Water? since Swampy is an all-original character. And of course, sometimes you just can't push aside the first in a series as being the better of the rest. Anyway, rest assured, Where's My Mickey? is worth your time and dough if you like physics puzzlers and The Mouse. It's charming and fun and challenging, and utilizes a sort of humor I haven't seen in Disney in a while. It's refreshing.

You should be playing 'Scurvy Scallywags'

GamesKristina PinoComment

It's been a little while since I wrote about any iOS games, and though I've been playing a few I like, I'm going to dedicate an entire non-review post on Ron Gilbert and Clayton Kauzlaric's latest release (their last game was The Big Big Castle!), Scurvy Scallyways in the Voyage to Discover the Ultimate Sea Shanty: A Musical Match-3 Pirate RPG. Or just Scurvy Scallywags, for short. ($0.99 - universal for iDevices)

In this game, you get to play as a pirate (there are male and female options), and you start out as an actor in a play. Except you actually play out the scenes, and have cool battles, and collect funny songs. In-between story bits, you travel through different islands on your piratey vessel (totally upgrade-able), and each "level" is a match-3 board that looks altogether familiar. Except the mechanics of the game aren't totally what you're used to.

For one thing, the music is rad - composed by Steve Kirk, whose style you might recognize from The Big Big Castle! if you're also a fan of that title. The sound effects are also pretty funny (and satisfying, considering there are so many different kinds). The biggest change here from usual match-3 games is that the board moves in the direction that you swipe. If you swipe a row from left to right, that's the direction that new pieces will fill in, and so on, and so forth. Why is that important? Because there will also be enemies on the board that you can attack if you're strong enough. If you aren't, you've got to manipulate the board to keep away from them. By the way, they can also move around when they feel like it. Besides manipulating enemy locations around the board, you also need to plan your moves to get presents and quest items.

Other elements that rock: at the end of each stage, right when you're finished beating the last enemy, you get to spend some time picking up loot before you're kicked out. What rocks even more about this bit is you can opt to either pick up loot on a time limit, or sit and strategize five moves in an effort to optimize you gold-collecting. Strategy is the big theme here, since your pirate's life depends on it, and you also aren't on any kind of time limit on the regular boards. If you are on a level that will eventually see six monsters, for example, they may all very well be in play at the same time if you survive long enough without picking a fight with any of them. I tell ya, that makes for some exciting game time.

One other note is, it's pretty easy to get carried away and let your pirate die. And it's ok if he/she does. So okay, in fact, that there's an achievement for having that happen a certain number of times. In the event that your pirate bites it, you do have to do a few things over, but you don't lose your inventory, weapons and outfits, or ship upgrades. It's easy/quick to catch up again to where you were and keep on going with the story.

Scurvy Scallywags is every bit as fun and witty as you'd expect in any project involving Ron and Clayton, and more importantly, aims to be much more engaging than other games of its kind given the RPG elements and extra involved swapping on the matching boards. The reason I didn't make this a review-type post is (transparency!) because I participated in the testing for this game. So I've been playing it for a long time, and can tell you that you can spend hours on end blazing through the maps, but if you're more into short bursts, you can easily just play a few rounds on the go whenever you feel like. But the bigger thing here is that I've got "integrity" and "ethics" and stuff, and prefer to just talk about

Scurvy Scallywags because it's awesome.

So, yeah. Scurvy Scallywags is a fun game, and absolutely worth your 99 cents in the App Store. You don't need to buy anything in-game to enjoy it to the fullest, and you don't need to turn the volume down and listen to something else to avoid annoying, repetitive sound effects. Actually, it's kind of important that you keep the volume on.

[link to App Store]

Friday Things: 04/05 - I'm back!

LinksKristina PinoComment

[Hello! Greetings from Japan! I'm all moved in at my lovely little town, and it looks like I'm finally settled down enough to get back to my regularly programmed Friday Things. Yay! I'll be updating with pictures and stories about my life in Japan, so don't fret. For now, just chomp on some links.]

On Games:

I didn't know that DuckTales (the game) was being remastered, but Joystiq posted an update about it recently, including the info that we'll get a bit of a prologue with it for story background. Now I'm excited!

Square Enix's latest FFXI newsletter is all about Seekers of Adoulin. It definitely makes me want to re-activate my FFXI account...

One thing that did make me quite sad this week was to see that Zelda Reorchestrated is shutting down. When I went to MAGFest, I attended their panel and the crew was so hopeful they were going to launch their CD this year, talking about how they were in contact with Nintendo about it and getting final approvals. It didn't work out though, and they're not going to be able to release Twilight Symphony after all. Sad!

On Disney:

If you're a fan of Where's My Water? by Disney Mobile, there's a great behind-the-scenes look in this video by The Disney Post.

What's that, you ask? Am I excited about the next entry in the DisneyNature series? Yes, yes I am definitely excited to learn about Bears!

I've been a little more tuned in to Disney/Hyperion-published books lately, and these The Never Girls books totally slipped under my radar. Yep, I'll be reading those soon, too!

Other:

I like looking at cool cakes, and I must say this TARDIS one is impressive.

I'm pretty miffed that Google is nixing their reader, so I'm trying to figure out what I'm going to do as a replacement for all the blogs I cycle through every day. LifeHacker has a list with alternatives that I'll have to try out soon. Any suggestions?

[A little short this week, but that's all I've got! I've been pretty busy with the move and settling in, not to mention exploring my area, meeting new people, and trying new foods. I'll be posting regularly again from now on though, so please keep checking back!]

 

 

Friday Things: 03/15 - Not your Precious any more

LinksKristina Pino2 Comments

[Ahhhhh, just a few more days! I'm finally flying out this coming week, so this'll be my last definite 'Friday Things' until I'm able to set it up again with a steady internet connection. I hope you folks will stick around! I'll be posting more travel-related stories and sharing my experiences in Japan, as well as continuing my regular writing gigs. 

Have a dose of links below!]

On Books:

Doctor Who fans may be excited to learn there are three new books coming out in April. The three books are written by three different authors each, but they all feature Matt Smith on the cover.

I'm sure everyone could relate to Brenna here in that, sometimes, something just gets so much buzz and you're just, like, why? And then the more you hear about it, the more you want to hate it. And that's what happened with her and The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow.

Douglas Adams' would-have-been birthday passed this week, so a few sites celebrated, as usual. Nerdist has a great feature here if you ever wanted to learn about him and his life.

Ahhhh, libraries. I never get tired of looking at them. Even when they're in video games!

 

 

On Disney:

Apparently, there's going to be a Beauty and the Beast live action film joining the parade that we're seeing lately, alongside the likes of Maleficent and an upcoming Cinderella flick. It'll be called The Beast.

On the Star Wars front, it appears that The Clone Wars TV series will end, and Detours will be taking... well, a detour. Rather than being axed altogether, that one is simply being postponed. See the full rundown at Star Wars dot com.

On Games:

I... I kind of really want this Pikachu 3DS XL....

Awesome dad strikes again -- his little girl wanted to be a female protagonist saving Mario in Donkey Kong, so he made it happen.

 

 

Other:

Gollum is... busy! This time around, he's a "relationship specialist" and covers Gotye in "A Precious That We Used to Know." I particularly love the part where they almost started cracking up towards the end, there. It's great when folks are doing stuff they clearly find hilarious (i.e. are having fun while doing).

Spotted at Fashionably Geek, these chainmail belt buckles are so neat! I love the Legend of Zelda Triforce one...

Via Geeks Are Sexy - this is such a dang sweet (and fun) nerdy love song.

[See you on the other side!]

 

Sky Pirates Racing and running away from flying monkeys in Oz

GamesKristina PinoComment

Check out two micro-reviews for the new games I've been playing on my iPad lately.

Sky Pirates Racing

Sky Pirates Racing  has a comic tie-in and had been in development for a while. It was released pretty recently, and you basically get an experience like any other karting. Except, rather than karting around on wheels, you're on flyers that you get to customize like crazy, as well as flying with characters you can also customize. The levels are fun, and you could choose to play alone or connect with people online. The game is free and available on iOS and Android devices. I fully recommend it if you like racing games and needed something new to play on your mobile. The graphics and options are beyond what I'd expect from a free game, after all.

Temple Run: Oz

I picked this one up after watching a video on Touch Arcade (warning, their dialogue is a little cringe-worthy for lack of material knowledge, but the demo is great to watch). I wasn't sure about this release, figuring it was a little too close toTemple Run: 2, but it looked different enough that I decided to drop the $0.99 on it. I'm glad I did - if you're already familiar with these Imangi endless runners, then you'll probably enjoy the slightly more challenging nature of this game, plus there are extra elements like dodging flying monkeys and having the path crumble ahead of you rather than being able to see what's coming all the time. The environments are lush and you get to pick whether you want to stay in one particular area or run around in a different zone. Full recommendation. I plan on doing a full review of this game over at Twinfinite, so check there soon!