The Empire Falls, The Phantom Thieves Rise, and What You Should Be Reading

Greets, humans!  Please excuse any typos or less-coherent-than-normal ranting – maybe it’s the combination of inability to sleep and crippling exhaustion, I don’t know.  But if there is one benefit to using almost all of hours in the day to not rest, it’s that there are just SO MANY good games to play and shows to watch and things to read right now!  So, let’s get right to it!

Cape Westwind

My journey through Eorzea in Final Fantasy XIV continued, as I finished eliminating the threat of the Primals by defeating the beautiful and sadistic Garuda…only for the Garlean Empire to finally make it’s move at conquest, unleashing Ultima Weapon, which promptly absorbed the powers of Ifrit, Titan, and Garuda with little effort.  As my Warrior of Light – side note, I find it hilarious when NPC characters greet me with some variation on “ah, most heroic Evil Wizard!” – and his allies regroup, it was determined that the only way to respond was to, you know…kill a bunch of Imperial officers, sack their bases, and destroy their Weapon.  And since wanton death and destruction are kind of, you know, MY THING, I gleefully slew my way through their ranks toward leader, High Grand Poobah Gaius Something-Or-Other.  Basically, my dungeon and raid parties looked something like this:

Ah, Richard…you truly are my spirit animal.  Anywho, after spilling rivers of Imperial blood, I finally found myself face-to face with Gaius and his shiny new toy.  Admittedly, he cuts an impressive figure.

Ultima Weapon

But, as I am wont to do, I melted his face.  And with that, I had completed all of the original Realm Reborn content of FF XIV, and I am now ready to start on the bridge content leading into the Heavensward expansion.  Cheer me on, maaaan!

Now, said progress may be somewhat slowed due to the absolutely phenomenal PS4 release of Persona 5.  Quite simply, this is one of the best, most stylish, and addicting JRPGs that I have played in years, maybe ever.  The combat is the deepest I’ve seen since SMT: Nocturne (yay demon negotiation!), the interface and graphics are incredibly slick, the soundtrack is pure bliss, and the “day in the life” sim elements are amazingly engrossing.

Full-HD-Persona-5-Game-Wallpaper

The writing is absolutely stellar.  From the main plot to the individual stories of all of your various “Confidants” – this games version of “Social Links” from prior entries in the series – every character is well developed, with a perfect balance between lightheartedness and gravitas.  The bottom line is this – Shin Megami Tensei is Atlus’s Final Fantasy, and some gamers may argue that it has equaled or even surpassed Square Enix’s venerable series.  Even more impressively, the Persona series is the rare offshoot series that has developed into something stands equal to, if not even surpasses, the entries in the main series.

EWE Says:

EWE Says P5

So, that’s what you should be playing…but hey, sometimes you just want to kick back and watch some anime, right?  RIGHT?!  (Editor’s Note: Just agree.  He’s not in the mood to argue.  There are only about four people he wouldn’t set on fire right now.)  AND YOU’RE NOT ONE OF THEM, SO SHUT UP!  Ahem…so, if you’ve been an anime and manga fan at all over the past 20 years, you should be familiar with Naruto.  Well, our lovable orange-jumpsuited ninja and all of his friends are all grown up following the end of their series, and conveniently paired up and bred like rabbits off screen in order for the adventures to continue in a new manga and anime series entitled Boruto: Naruto Next Generations.  The titular Boruto is the son of Naruto and Hinata, and is entering the Ninja Academy alongside all of his friends who look suspiciously like mashups of their fan-ship parents.

Boruto

Now, while this could easily be dismissed as simply a retelling of Naruto in an attempt to cash in on the original series popularity with minimal effort, this would be a mistake and a discredit to the new series.  The world has truly evolved and become more modern since the end of the Fourth Great Ninja War, and the dreams, aspirations, and motivations of this new generation of shinobi are definitely not the same as that of their parents.  Speaking of which, all of your favorite characters that survived the war are accounted for in the new series, and watching them mature into leaders and parents is just as compelling as seeing the adventures of their children.  As a new anime series, the animation and production values are top-notch.  While I haven’t yet read the new manga, I intend to do so, as I read the entire original Naruto series and count myself as a fan.  Is it perfect?  Of course not – it’s a shonen manga so you know kind of what you’re getting, but as long as you know that going in, the world of Naruto and Co. is still a fun one to spend time in.  Recommended – find it on Hulu or Crunchyroll!

Now, I am always very pleased that all of you feeble mortals (Editor’s Note: WONDERFUL READERS) whatever, that you all come and partake of my wisdom here.  But, and I know this may come as a shock, there are other blogs that you should be checking out as well.  I know that I normally only want to talk about me – and I mean, I AM a lord of darkness – but I feel like it has been a while since I properly recognized and called attention to some of the other wonderful blogs out there, as well as the amazing people behind them that I have become fortunate enough to consider my friends.

LightningEllen’s Release – Friend, fellow INFJ, and my favorite Amiibo-collecting ninja LightningEllen shares her thoughts on gaming, life, and the ever-shifting, never-ending backlog.

Cheap Boss Attack – Video game writer, reviewer and friend Brad shares his insights on games old and new.

The Shameful Narcissist Speaks – Amazingly talented writer and deliciously evil cohort Ash1Rose puts her talent on display with fanfictions, essays, poetry and more.

The Well-Red Mage – A friend and one of the first people to welcome me into the blogging community, The Well-Red Mage and his majestic menagerie of mages are some of the most informative and entertaining authors of news, interviews, and reviews of video games both classic and contemporary.

Retr0pia – A friend who shares his thoughts on many a classic game, movie, or show, as well as the all-too-common modern reboots of them.

These are just the first group, just a few of the many wonderful writers out there sharing their gifts and talents will all of you humans.  Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy their blogs!  See you all next time, mortals – but until then, remember: if we DON’T see each other again, it’s because a psychopathic man-child conned enough foolish, simple-minded fleshsacks into voting him president despite having no ability to handle the job and has likely started an apocalyptic war that has left the world in ruin and the human race extinct.  And that pisses me off because that’s MY schtick, and I don’t take kindly to gimmick infringement.  – EWE

Switch Quick Hits, FF XIV Update, and a Sweet Treat

Hello again, kiddos!  It may seem to have been a while since I was last with you, but worry not – I’ve been busy putting together all sorts of fun for you since I spoke with you last.  And a big part of that has been to sample several of the titles on my Nintendo Switch.  So what do I think of the initial batch of take-anywhere titles?

Binding 1

For those unfamiliar with The Binding of Isaac, you control the titular Isaac – a terrified, naked toddler who is trapped in a nightmarish hellscape after his mother tried to murder him, trying to escape and combating the horrors there by weaponizing his tears.  So, yeah…it’s fucked up.  Not bad, mind you – in fact, it’s one of the best twin-stick shoot-em-ups that I’ve played in a long time – but clearly the minds that concocted this scenario are in serious need of some therapy.

Binding 2

There are a couple of things that stand out here.  First of all, this came is brutally difficult.  In true bullet-hell fashion, shit is flying everywhere all the time, and you will die, a lot.  And permadeath is in full effect – you die, and that cool gear you’d been racking up is gone.  But this is somewhat offset by the second thing that stands out – the randomly generated maps and powerups lead to near-endless replayability, and keep you coming back over and over.  For anyone that has played this on PS4 or PC, you already know this – but here is where the Switch gimmick shines through, letting you take poor, abused Isaac with you wherever you go.  So long as high difficulty doesn’t bother you, a definite recommendation.

Shovel 1

Next up, we have a modern-day love letter to classic games.  Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove collects the original Shovel Knight game, and adds the two expansions, Plague of Shadows and Specter of Torment, all in one package.  For fans of classic 8-bit and 16-bit action/adventure games, picking this up should be a no-brainer.  And since I’m incredibly old and a fan of those types of games, there was no question that I would want to be able to take the heroic Shovel Knight and his quest against the Enchantress and the Order of No Quarter on the go with me.

Shovel 2

Fantastic platforming and action are the order of the day, beginning with the original Shovel of Hope base game, and just being further refined and perfected in the two subsequent expansions.  A well written and witty story are the icing on the cake.  In particular, the newest expansion, Specter of Torment, is just a joy to play, incorporating all of the feedback received and improvements that indie developer Yacht Club made since the release of the original game.  If you like pure gaming goodness, get and play this game.

Setsuna 1

Another love letter to the past, I Am Setsuna was developed by Tokyo RPG Factory, a studio set up by Square Enix with a simple mandate – make games in the vein of the beloved 16-bit RPGs of yore.  For their first effort, they chose a very good game to look to – the seminal SNES classic, Chrono Trigger.  I Am Setsuna, from a gameplay perspective, is a RPG that you’ve played before.  Turn-based active-time battles, combination Tech attacks, spells and abilities learned from equipping magici- er, sorry, spritnite…but again, all distilled and refined from years of experience into their purest form.

Setsuna 2

What sets I Am Setsuna apart from the predecessors that it emulates is a heartfelt, emotional story and a beautiful, haunting piano soundtrack, both of which you will remember long after you’ve completed the game.  It isn’t the longest RPG you’ll ever play, but this feels more like a trimming of fat and padding that has become all too common in many modern games, rather than anything missing from Setsuna.  Square Enix has gone on record that it intends to strongly support the Switch, and this is a tremendous first effort toward that goal.  Highly recommended.

Zelda 1

Ah, here it is – the one everyone wants to hear about and talk about.  And for good reason – Breath of the Wild is without doubt a tremendous game.  Beautiful, artistic, breathtaking – all of those adjectives definitely apply.  The visuals and score are absolutely stellar.  Story is a timeless (pun completely intended) Legend of Zelda tale, and at the same time turns that classic formula in some surprising new directions.  It is most definitely the star of the Nintendo Switch launch lineup.  BUT…is it for everyone?

Zelda 2

Here is the thing – Nintendo’s latest magnum opus is a game that requires something that has become a lost art among many modern gamers – PATIENCE.  It is almost intentionally trying to frustrate you.  You can only carry a handful of weapons, and they are going to break after only a few solid hits against your enemies – probably in the middle of a fight.  There is a huge open world to explore – but many times it will feel too big, too empty, as you struggle to determine how to get to your next quest objective.  You can climb any surface – but if you run out of stamina, which seems to disappear as if Hyrule were located in the Bermuda Triangle, you’re going to take a long, fatal fall.  And even if you get to the top of that mountain, I hope you’ve brought some cold weather gear or food, otherwise, you’re going to freeze to death.  These are all elements of many of the survival games that have come into prominence among hardcore gamers in recent times, but those same elements are likely to completely frustrate gamers who just want to play a Zelda game, rescue the princess, destroy Ganon, and all that.  Do I recommend it?  Yes I do.  Do I enjoy it?  Yes, I do…when I am in the right mood.  It isn’t a game you can just pick up and play for a few minutes – you have to have a good chunk of time to devote to it in order to feel like you’ve accomplished anything.  So be warned – while a great game, this isn’t a Zelda game like any Zelda game you’ve ever experienced before.

39210_screenshots_20170409234110_1

So, you may ask, “EWE, that’s all great, but you still seem to be gone a lot lately?  Has your personal life improved?”  Well, there are a few answers to that – the first being WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YO- Ahem, sorry, I mean, I suppose it depends on what you mean by “improve.”  If you mean, have I finally turned the head and won the heart of my maiden fair…no.  No I have not.  So thanks for reminding me of that.  Assholes.  BUT, if you meant spending time with cool people and having fun – well yes, because I’ve fallen headlong back into Eorzea with my beloved summoner, appropriately named Evil Wizard.

39210_screenshots_20170304034409_1

Currently, I’ve been trying to power through story content in an effort to see most, if not all of it before the new expansion, Stormblood, drops this June.  I’ve managed to get to level 47 on my main class (as I said, summoner) while only minimally indulging in my normal penchant for leveling absolutely EVERYTHING there is to level equally (also known as OCD to normal people).  For the first time in a long time in an MMO, I am very pleased with the community and player base.  Long ago, I was a member of an absolutely fantastic World of Warcraft guild and community, with people that I loved playing with and interacting with even outside of the game.  Alas, due to complicated personal circumstances, it became best for them that I step away.  I quickly found that I disliked most of the player base outside of my friends, and left the game.  Since then, I’d never quite been enchanted with a player base in an MMO – but FF XIV just seems to have a predominantly kind and encouraging community.  There will always be exceptions to the rule – but by and large I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with the game.  More updates to come – I’m currently trying to get to level 49 so I can continue to wage my personal war against the Garlean Empire!

oatmeal raising cookies

Last, but not least – you didn’t think I’d let you leave hungry, did you?  Silly humans.  Have some chewy oatmeal raisin cookies!

Ingredients:

  1. 1 1/2 cups old-fashined rolled oats
  2. 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  3. 1/2 cup raisins (or craisins)
  4. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  5. 1/2 tsp salt
  6. 6 tbsp butter, room temp.
  7. 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  8. 1/4 cup sugar
  9. 1 large egg
  10. 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the oats, flour, raisins, baking soda, and salt.  Mix together and set aside.  In a separate bowl, combine butter, sugar, and brown sugar and mix until fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla and mix until thoroughly combined.  Slowly add in the oats mixture, mixing until combined.  Use a tablespoon to drop the dough onto two baking sheets, placing each cookie about 2 inches apart.  Place in oven and bake approximately 12 – 16 minutes, until cookies are golden brown but still soft.  Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.  Pour a glass of milk – and if you’re me, add some Kahlua – then enjoy your dessert!

And with that, you’ve reached the end of this bit of my ramblings, mortals!  Thanks for sticking around, and see you all again soon! – EWE

Defending the Public

I have returned, mortals!  Quake and cower – or at least groan and shake your head, that works, too.  Yes, it has been a while – I have found that my days and nights are becoming more and more often spoken for, even if I’d much rather be sitting here ranting to all of you out there.  And so I fully intend to make more time to do just that – whilst telling the less enjoyable drains on my time exactly which circle of hell they may now go and occupy.  And speaking of eternal torment – it’s been a while since I’ve given any tidbits of legal wisdom to all of you out there, hasn’t it?  Well, never fear – prepare to be educated and amazed!  Today’s secret lesson in navigating the complicated vagaries of the criminal justice system is…

The United States Constitution does not anywhere in it address your rights to poop when needed.

Poo
Cute, vaguely disturbing, and totally not protected under the Constitution.

Let me explain.  You see, I recently dealt with a case in which a person became too intoxicated (which just ALWAYS leads to great decision making).  Upon becoming too intoxicated, this individual attempted to argue with their significant other.  I say “attempted” because their level of intoxication was so great that, in fact, they were not particularly coherent, which makes any kind of communication somewhat difficult.  Nonetheless, this person was able to string together enough words to make threats against their partner, which resulted in a visit from the police.  Upon determining that this person was the aggressor in the situation, the police informed them that they were being arrested.  And that is when the wheels REALLY come off.

 

facepalm

Kids, let me make this perfectly clear – once you’ve been told you are under arrest, DO NOT RESIST ARREST.  Even if you think it’s wrong and bullshit and the cops are way out of line, that is all shit that you need to sort out in court AT A LATER DATE.  Because in that moment, if you suddenly decide that no, goddammit, you are NOT under arrest, what do you think is going to happen?  The police will say “fuck, this isn’t worth it…let’s just go?”  No, you’re going to be placed under arrest one way or another.  Now, if you are relatively sane about the whole thing, generally the police will be respectful of you to a certain point.  So if you’ve given them no problems and then you suddenly state that you need to use the bathroom, NOW, RIGHT NOW, and can’t wait until you arrive at the jail…well, they may be willing to accommodate you.  However…if you’ve been an asshole, well, they are going to tell you to hold it.  Like our friend from the paragraph above.  Who was told to wait until they got to the jail, and promptly dropped their pants and crapped all over their own living room floor.  Now, one might think that this story was already at it’s lowest point…but one would be wrong.  Because when the police said ok now it is time to go, this person decided to invoke the rarely used and little known “right to wipe” and insisted that the officers had to go get them some paper towels to clean themselves with, per the Constitution.

Constitution
Spoiler: Does not contain a “right to wipe.”

Now, perhaps I was sick or just in a drunken stupor that particular day of Constitutional Law class…but I do not recall the “right to wipe” ever being included in any of my extensive legal training.  Nonetheless, in an effort to distract myself from wanting to strangle the moronic motherfucker who did this, I did some research and came to the following conclusion:

Drunk people are really fucking stupid and most Americans don’t know a goddamn thing about the Constitution other than that it starts with “We the People.”

Oh, and if you’re curious about the ultimate fate of our stinky friend…the matter is currently set for a jury trial.  That’s right, I get to spend a day taking testimony, under oath, about literal shit.  Do any of you still wonder why I am the way that I am?

Angry Ed

And that’s all for today, kiddos.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go back to pondering how I am alone when someone who literally shits themselves can have at least one, if not multiple, significant others.  But at least I have all of you!

Next up: Buffy night with Malevolent Moogle tomorrow, and some Nintendo Switch thoughts are in the works.  See you soon! – EWE

Horizon: Zero Dawn Review

Hello, humans.  I hope you are all doing well (except the ones I hate; I hope you all are literally on fire right now).  I realize that I did, indeed, miss #FrozenFoodFridays this past week.  While I truly enjoy that segment, as I know many of you do as well, I think I may need to slow down a bit on it for a few reasons.  First of all, my two sons spend every Friday night with me, and by the time we are done hanging out together and they are in bed…I’m usually so tired that I don’t have it in me to do the post.  Secondly, I simply haven’t been in the kitchen quite as much lately – other things tend to pop up and prevent me from engaging in much culinary therapy.  But rest assured that it will still be a near-weekly segment here – I just won’t be able to update it EVERY week!

Another reason for this is that I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately.  It seems that when I am labeled “pathetic” to my face for the horrific crime of showing kindness to someone, and I restrain myself from obliterating said individual, the result of that internalizing is a period of depression.  Thankfully, I have coping mechanisms – including my weekly nights of coloring books and Buffy the Vampire Slayer with my Best Bitch (her phrase), Malevolent Moogle.  And another, being the introvert I am (INFJ FTW), is to escape from my world into others, via games and books.  The upshot is that I hope to increase my reviews of those treats in place of the edible ones I may be lacking at the moment.

And what better way to begin than with the PS4 exclusive Horizon: Zero Dawn.

horizon-zero-dawn-screenshot-ps4-game-wallpaper

So, in case you ever wondered, in the future, mankind has dwindled to the brink of extinction, and giant cyborg dinosaurs are the dominant species on the earth.  In other words, everything will go exactly as I’ve been planning it for a long time now.  Essentially, someone at Guerrilla Games seems to have gotten a look at my diary and decided “what a fucking good idea for a video game!”  They are, of course, correct, but does their take on my vision of the future stand up well enough to satisfy me – and avoid my wrath for stealing my thunder?

Well, they certainly nailed the main character.  Aloy is a dream come true (for me) – intelligent, strong, brave, but also sarcastic, wry, and witty.  She’s even a redhead – although given the scarlet witch I last dealt with, perhaps that last fact should give me pause.  But hair color aside, Aloy stands out to me among the relatively bland main characters in many open-world games as being a warm and genuinely relatable protagonist.

horizon-zero-dawn-screenshot-5
That she is not unpleasant to look at is also ok with me.

But no matter how sassy, how savvy, or how seductive Aloy may be, it is all for naught if she can’t handle herself in battle.  Because let’s face it – when a giant mechanical dinosaur sees you, what do you think is going to happen?  If you answered, “rush toward me with terrifying speed and ferocity while I think ‘holy shit I’m going to die'” then that is an appropriate reaction.  There is an impressive variety of species in the vicious cyber-beasts that you will face, but they all share something in common – if you rush in unprepared, they will fucking kill you.

horizon-zero-dawn_018
If this is your view, something has gone horribly wrong.

Luckily, Aloy is likely far more competent than the average meatbag in these types of situations, and she has the tools keep herself alive.  Combat in Horizon: Zero Dawn is by far it’s greatest joy.  Aloy has access to an ability with the storyline name of Focus, which amounts to using heightened senses to detect enemy weaknesses and environmental clues, ala Witcher 3 or the Batman: Arkham games.  Each and every enemy that Aloy encounters can be taken down in an efficient manner – but what that manner is, and how best to do it, are left to Aloy and the player to determine.  That’s right – no tutorials pop up when you encounter a new species to walk you through how best to kill them – you need to look for weaknesses and then test out ways to exploit them.

And the tools to exploit them are there.  Aloy’s weapon of choice is a highly upgradeable bow and various elemental arrows, combined with the ability to temporarily slow time and take precise aim at her targets.  Over the course of the game, she will also come upon several other tools, which she can use to immobilize or set traps for her prey ala the Ratchet & Clank series, but also like that series, while these are fun to play around with in random throwaway fights, they generally aren’t that useful in the main story battles.  But if hte concept of leaning primarily on your bow and arrow doesn’t appeal to you, fret not.  Aloy can also gain the ability override the mechanical minds of her prey, rendering them docile enough to ride or even turning them against their own kind.

horizon-zero-dawn-screenshot-6
Is she aiming an arrow up his…oh, Aloy, you magnificent bastard!

When you aren’t on the hunt for Dinobots (please don’t sue me Hasbro) then you can retreat to one of the scattered settlements of humans in the world.  Here you will accept quests and missions for fun and profit.  While the primary narrative question to be answered in Horizon: Zero Dawn may seem obvious (“What the fuck is up with the robot dinosaurs?!”) the writing is tremendous and the performances put in by the voice actors is equally well done, elevating the tale far above the somewhat Sci-Fi channel premise that it may seem on the surface to a tale of humanity on the brink and what we will do to survive.  I’ll be honest – going in I had no expectations for the story whatsoever and was sure I’d just power through it in order to go kill more Dinobots (seriously, how has Hasbro not sued anyone over this yet?), and I was happy to be proven wrong.

That isn’t to say the game is perfect – while the story is well written, it does occasionally suffer from some hokey or awkward lines, which DO make me think it should be Bruce Campbell delivering them.  And while the combat is very satisfying, I’d have preferred if they had made some of the weapons and tools outside of the bow more useful, or excised them from the game entirely.  But these are nitpicks.  The reality is this – Horizon: Zero Dawn was touted for a long time as one of the PS4 exclusives that would define the system, and it lives up to that hype.

EWE Says:

EWE Says Horizon

And that’s it for tonight, my friends.  Go get yourself a copy of Horizon: Zero Dawn and enjoy!  Thanks for putting up with me for another day! – EWE

The Nintendo Problem

Greets once again, boys and girls.  Now, if you’ve spent any time around here at all, you know that I’ve been a huge fan of games for longer than most of you have probably been alive – and if you count starting ACTUAL wars as “war games” then for CENTURIES longer than you’ve been alive.  And in all that time, I can honestly say one thing – I’ve never, ever, EVER fallen prey to the fanboy console wars.  I’ve played every single home console available since the Atari 2600, and most of them at some point as well.  Each one has had their strong suits and weak points, and I’ve enjoyed them all to one degree or another.  So this is not an attack on Nintendo as a console maker or game developer – I dearly love Nintendo and all of the many memories it has given me.

Nor is this an attack in on the Nintendo Switch hardware itself, or it’s killer app, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.  I’ve spent a considerable amount of time playing it courtesy of a friend, and I can say that the Switch itself more than lives up to its billing as a true merging of home console power with portable gaming convenience, and BotW is not just one of the finest Zelda games, or open world games, I’ve ever played, but simply one of the most beautiful and masterfully crafted video games of all time.

zelda-breath-wild

No, my gripe today is with Nintendo as a company, as a business entity.  This is not sour grapes because I am playing BotW on my friend’s Switch rather than on one of my own – rather, it’s the reason behind why that is.  Nintendo has made a disturbing habit over the several console generations of intentional, manufactured hardware shortages – as a business and marketing strategy – and I feel that the time has finally arrived for them to overcome their stubborn pride and admit it for the costly long-term mistake that it is.

Let’s face it – ever since the days of the Gamecube, Nintendo has made no secret of the fact that they have not even tried to stay on the bleeding edge of console hardware capability.  Instead, they have focused on two other things – innovation and marketing.  As with all things in life, they’ve experienced some tremendous successes as well as some setbacks.  There can be no argument that the Wii was a tremendously successful piece of console hardware, nor that the Wii U that followed failed to recapture that success.  But neither device was in any way a high-powered gaming console when compared to its contemporaries.  And yet, the launch of both consoles – and in the case of the Wii U, throughout its life cycle – were marked by a virtual absence from store shelves, with units arriving in minuscule trickles, snapped up within moments, and with never any real idea of when the next may arrive.

These shortages could be nothing short of intentional.  The simple fact is that the components required to manufacture those consoles was not difficult to fabricate nor to acquire.  There was literally no viable reason why Nintendo couldn’t produce significantly more product than they did – which means that they simply chose not to.  Now, there are reasons why a company may do this.  If they are unsure as to what the market demand for their product will be, it is often wise to reduce the quantity of the initial product run while running an aggressive marketing campaign.  This has the effect to stoke market appetite, and then to drive it even further by making the product seem artificially more desirable by virtue of scarcity.  With a paradigm-shifting console like the Wii, which was the true advent of mass market motion-controlled gaming, this approach made some sense, as even with focus testing and aggressive marketing, Nintendo couldn’t be positive that this radically different experience would be universally received well.

Such is not the case with the Switch.  The Switch is less a revolution, an more of an evolution.  It represents the culmination of what gamers have dreamed of for years – a true hybrid of home and portable gaming.  But while this is a fantastic achievement, it was done utilizing fairly pedestrian technical specs.  The Switch is essentially a tablet with a charging dock – none of which is even remotely new technology.  And Nintendo’s Switch marketing blitz did an absolutely phenomenal job of priming the market for the console’s debut – so why the market shortages?  This wasn’t a gimmicky flash-in-the-pan longshot, it was a traditional home console/traditional portable hybrid, with an absolutely killer launch game in BotW.  Nintendo knew this.  And they knew that the aftermarket sales – the Switch’s thrown onto ebay for 2x-3x the retail value – didn’t benefit them in any way.  So in the end, Nintendo’s entrenched policy of intentional hardware shortages, and their stubborn corporate pride in refusing to admit the mistake, as shown with the NES Classic, is resulting not in additional hype, but in a very real and dangerous chance of loss of consumer goodwill.  Let’s face it – this was not a holiday counsel launch.  There are not going to be customers lined up day after day, parents trolling auction sites willing to pay hundreds of dollars above retail so that they can see their kids smiling on Christmas morning.  This was a March launch, and with only one physical game on store shelves that was a must-play.  Sure there are some other fantastic launch games – I Am Setsuna and Shovel Knight come to mind – but those are both digital releases and both available on other platforms.  And BotW, for that matter, is as well – any Wii U owner could play it without finding a Switch.  So rather than setting the stage for a bright Nintendo future, instead this could backfire – customers could quickly grow tired of searching stores and websites for one of the few Switch’s that Nintendo deigns to send to market, and decide that they simply don’t need it.  And Nintendo simply cannot afford that.  After the flop of the Wii U, they need every single person who is inclined to buy a Switch to be ABLE TO BUY A SWITCH.  If that means deviating from previous strategy, they need to do so.

After all, Nintendo was once a playing card and toy company, and they deviated wildly from their traditional strategy and took a major chance on a completely untamed market.  You may know that chance as the NES. – EWE

#FrozenFoodFridays – Out-of-Town Seminar Edition

Salutations, children!  This week was a bit different for me – I spent the last two days traveling to Columbus, Ohio for a CLE (Continuing Legal Education) seminar.  While there, I was treated to something so delicious, it merited a very special edition of #FrozenFoodFridays.  So tonight, I’m not giving you a recipe – I’m telling you about an entire location, and one that you should make every effort to visit if possible: Schmidt’s Sausage Haus and Restaurant.

Schmidt's

My party and I stopped here after dinner for some dessert – and boy were we not disappointed.  The coconut cream pie was delicious.  The German chocolate cake ala mode was also quite good, and officially makes this conform with #FrozenFoodFridays, although I’d have preferred if the cake was warm rather than room temperature.

German Chocolate ala mode

But the absolute masterpiece, and Schmidt’s claim to fame, is their cream puffs.  Dear sweet baby jeebus, the cream puffs.

Cream Puff

Let me put it to you like this – this place put me into such a food coma that within ten minutes of returning to my hotel room, I had intended to boot up my computer and spend the evening writing this entry LAST night – but instead completely passed out and slept soundly the entire night.  IT’S THAT GOOD!

People, I know #FrozenFoodFridays is typically something you may be able to replicate in your own home.  But some things are just too good to not experience in their original glory.  Schmidt’s desserts are a perfect example of this.  If you are ever, EVER remotely near the Columbus area, do yourself a favor and drop by!  You’ll be more than glad you did. – EWE

#FrozenFoodFridays – Better Late (And Drunk) Than Never Edition

Greets, kiddos!  Yeah, I know – it isn’t Friday.  But in fairness, I started to plan this on Friday – it just took me a few extra days to work the kinks out and get some other matters attended to.  So, I’m still counting it as #FrozenFoodFridays, and to hell with anyone that wants to argue the point!  Now, I’ve noticed that two particular types of treats seem to appeal to most of you moreso than the rest – sweets, and alcohol.  I knew there was something I liked about all of you!  I’m kind of glad I haven’t set you all on fire…yet.  Anyway – I decided to once again combine these two favorites of yours, mine, and anyone who has any taste whatsoever, in a way that I hadn’t tried before.  This resulted in something very special – I give to you EWE’s Boozy Buckeyes!

buckeye-booze
The ability to make just about any flavor liquor is one of humanity’s only positive traits.

Ingredients:

  1. 2 cups creamy peanut butter (maybe more depending on how mixing goes)
  2. 1 cup butter, softened
  3. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  4. 1 teaspoon salt
  5. 5 cups powdered sugar
  6. 1/4 cup peanut butter vodka
  7. 1/4 cup chocolate liquor
  8. 3 cups dark chocolate chips
  9. 1/8 teaspoon coconut oil

In a large mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt until it is well mixed.  Slowly add the powdered sugar, continuing to mix as you go.  When it is all well mixed, add the booze.  Continue mixing until thoroughly combined.  If the mixture is too thin to scoop into balls, add additional peanut butter to thicken.  Once combined, scoop into 1″ balls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper.  Freeze for 30-40 minutes.

While the peanut butter balls are freezing, combine your dark chocolate chips and coconut oil in a microwave safe bowl and melt in 30-second bursts, stirring between each burst.  Once the peanut butter balls are set, insert a toothpick into the center of each ball and use to dip the ball into the chocolate bowl – but make sure to leave the top of each ball exposed so it looks like a buckeye, otherwise you’ve missed the entire point!  Return the chocolate covered balls (HA!) to the baking sheet and return to the freezer until the chocolate has set.  Remove the toothpick and keep these refrigerated until ready to serve.  Or, if you’re me, remove the toothpick, reflect on the pathetic state of your life, and eat the entire fucking tray while drinking the rest of the peanut butter and chocolate liquor combined in a glass and mixed with your tears.  Either way, enjoy! – EWE