Burning the Midnight Oil on #OmNoMonday

Welcome back, feeble carbon-based mouth breathers!  My, am I feeling productive this week – well, that or possibly I’m not sleeping enough.  But either way, you get more of my meandering musings, so you win either way.  You’re welcome!

So as anyone who read through my recent retrospective of the Dragon Quest series has probably figured out, I am a fan.  So I was eager to throw myself into the latest remake of a classic Dragon Quest game – the 3DS remake of Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past.  DQVII, for those that missed my retrospective (and you had better go correct that poor life choice right…now) was originally released on the PS1…after the PS2 had released.  Poor timing, coupled with an abysmal translation, led to lackluster sales of the original release.  However, the game was immense – 100-200 hours per playthrough was required if you wanted to see everything the game had to offer.  And it’s gameplay systems were solid.  So I was hoping that this remake would correct the errors of the past while maintaining the classic elements – and for the most part, it did so.

dragon-quest-vii-1280x725

Graphics

First things first – and you’ll find that I’m going to say this about damn near every single game on the 3DS – slide the 3D setting down to “off.”  It adds absolutely nothing to this experience, and in fact can detract from it.  Not because it’s bad, but because it will cause unnecessary eye strain in a game that begs to be played in long stretches, and will drain your battery faster.  You’re going to be spending hundreds of hours with this game – and you don’t need 3D in any of them.

The graphics are a noticeable improvement over the PS1 originals.  The camera in the original had a tendency to obscure, well, everything when rotated – but that has been largely corrected in this upgrade.  The characters models are MUCH more detailed than in the original, although there is some hilarious incongruity in the sizes of the characters in comparison to their surroundings.  Seriously, Keifer is apparently this world’s version of King Kong, because he’s larger than a lot of buildings.

The graphical improvement extends into battle as well.  In the original, battles were first-person against static monsters.  In this edition, battles are third-person, with your party fully visible on screen, executing lively animated attacks and spells against equally animated monsters.  Akira Toriyama’s legendary character designs have always been associated with this series, and they are beautifully brought to life here.  Another change from the original graphics centers on the games robust vocation system – while in the original, a character’s vocation wasn’t evident by looking at them.  However, now each and every vocation results in a new appearance for the characters – a very welcome addition.

dq7-3ds-discover-classes-pv

Sound

Not much can be said here that hasn’t been said before.  Dragon Quest features charming and catchy melodies and sound effects that will definitely become repetitive long before the game comes to a conclusion.  This especially evident in this installment, which is without question the game with the longest required playtime – a standard playthrough is going to eclipse 100 hours easily.  If you like the music, be sure to play with headphones because the 3DS is not known for it’s stellar audio hardware.  Once you begin to tire of it, just take them off.

Gameplay

I’m not going to go too in-depth here, mostly because if you have ever played a Dragon Quest game or you have read any of my Dragon Quest retrospective, you already know how this plays – and if you haven’t, this probably isn’t the entry-level Dragon Quest game I’d recommend.  The original version had a notoriously SLOW beginning, with the player going several hours before encountering their first battle.  This has thankfully been reduced in the remake, but it is still a slow open – it will still be 30-60 minutes until that first slime gets whacked with a cyprus stick.

One of the biggest changes from the original is also one I initially welcomed but soon grew annoyed by – encounters.  In the original version, monster encounters would occur at random while wandering in the field or dungeons.  The encounter rate was on par with classic RPGs in general and Dragon Quest in particular.  The remake has seen the introduction of the system first introduced in Dragon Quest VIII on PS2, in which monsters appear on the world map and can be avoided or battled at the player’s choosing.  Now on paper, this sounds great.  Unfortunately, the spawn algorithm makes the encounter rate incredibly aggravating.  I lost count of the number of times I would be trying to work through a dungeon, finish a battle and take two steps only to have another monster spawn directly under my feet.  I was soon longing for the days of a random, but fairly steady and predictable encounter rate.  The real shame is that this same system was executed to perfection in DQ VIII – this felt like a significant step back.

Story

If you are looking for a strong main narrative running through the entire game, you are likely to be disappointed.  There is a central plot revolving around a demon king sealing off the various islands of the world from one another, and your efforts to bring them back and defeat the revival of the big bad.  But the true stars of the show are the smaller, self-contained narratives of each of the trapped islands.  Each region has its own quest that must be solved before it appears on the world map – and these mini-epics are phenomenal.  Some are lighthearted, others are tragic to the point of being tear-jerking, and they all feel very REAL – there are choices made and consequences that must be lived with, for better or worse.  These feel all the more at home in a portable format – each island only takes a few hours to complete, making it ideal for an evening gaming session to have a definite beginning and end.

So Should I Play It?

Have you been playing Dragon Quest games since the NES?  Do you lament that the Final Fantasy series moved away from turn-based battles and into whatever the hell this weird kind-of action shit is now?  Do you not mind wandering around for a while trying to figure out what you’re supposed to be doing?  Does the thought of grinding a character through a bunch of different classes to make them into a physical god make you giddy with excitement?

Then you should play this game.  It’s a love letter and a magnum opus to the game design of JRPGs from a different era.

Is the first Dragon Quest game you played VIII?  Is your favorite RPG series Final Fantasy, starting with VII or later?  Do you have a relatively short attention span if not much is going on during a gaming session?  Do you need a breathtaking main narrative to drive you onward?

This probably isn’t your game.  You’re going to feel like this game is boring and old.  It’s not, and you’re wrong – but I can understand your mistake based on your tastes, so I will allow you to live.  This time.

I played the original DQ VII on PS1.  I still have it.  I’ve played it more than once.  I still enjoyed my time with this 3DS remake even more than the original.  It still has flaws, but if you love old-school JRPGs, you should give this one a shot.  Since these seem to need some kind of arbitrary numerical score, I’m going to give it:

burning-village burning-village  burning-village burning-village

Four Burning Villages…out of Five.

But that’s not all, kids!  No, because it is once again #OmNoMonday – and last time, I got a request for a chicken dish!  So I have scoured my Evil Recipes That Didn’t Kill Anyone, and I have found this delicious and healthy take on classic Chicken Cordon Bleu!

chicken-cordon-bleu

Ingredients:

  1. 4 thin-sliced boneless/skinless chicken breasts
  2. 4 slices ham
  3. 6 slices swiss cheese
  4. Ground black pepper
  5. Crushed red pepper flakes
  6. Olive oil
  7. OPTIONAL – 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  8. A Ziploc bag
  9. Baking dish
  10. Toothpicks
  11. Tenderizing mallet
  12. OPTIONAL – a child that enjoys smashing things with a tenderizing mallet

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Use a small amount of olive oil to grease the baking dish.

Place the chicken in the Ziploc bag and use the tenderizing mallet (and, if available, the child) to pound the chicken to about 1/4 inch thick.  If using child, be sure to make sure they do not pound the chicken so hard that the Ziploc bag explodes.  It isn’t fun to clean up.

Place the chicken in the baking dish.  Season to taste with the black and red pepper.  Place a slice of ham and a slice of cheese on top of each piece of chicken.  Roll up and secure each piece of chicken with a toothpick.  If you want crunchy chicken, sprinkle bread crumbs over them.  For a healthier alternative, don’t use the bread crumbs.

Place in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.  Remove from oven, place 1/2 slice of cheese on top of each piece of chicken and bake an additional 3-5 minutes, or until cheese has melted.  Remove from oven, remove toothpicks, and enjoy!  Or, if you’re serving them to someone you don’t particularly care for, someone that may have wronged you, DON’T remove the toothpicks, serve, and enjoy watching!  Either way, I believe you will walk away satisfied. – EWE

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Books, Booze, and…huh, I’ll be damned, Bears – Oh My!

Greets and salutes, mortals!  How are we this evening?  Me, you ask?  Oh, I’m experiencing…some rather bothersome discomfort (Editor’s Note: MIND BOGGLING PAIN) brought on primarily by the seasonal weather.  Rather than vent my irritation by converting my lovely apartment complex into a necromancy factory – good idea, that – I have instead settled on catching up with all of you.  Aren’t you lucky?!  The correct answer to that is yes.  Unless you like being set on fire.  Then feel free to answer no.

Now, as the title above would suggest, the first item on the agenda tonight is my latest literary lark.  Actually, lark might not be the best word, considering this is a 1500 page mammoth, but I like my alliteration, so fuck it – lark it is.  Anyway, if you recall WAY back when, I gave my impressions of Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings, the first book in Sanderson’s epic fantasy series, The Stormlight Archives.  I’ll let you read my original impressions on that first book for yourself – but in short, I found it a very promising start to a series, particularly if you are a fan of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time.  After finishing The Way of Kings, I eagerly started the second book of the series, Words of Radiance.

wordsofradiancecover

I am very pleased to say that if you were a fan of the first book, you will definitely find more to love in the second.  My primary complaint about TWoK was that it could be somewhat confusing in the way it blasted the reader with new information, concepts, and terminology – sometimes it required quite a bit of work on the part of the reader to piece these together into a coherent tapestry.  But by the time you’ve begun to read WoR, you have finished TWoK and are familiar with this world and its systems.  Consequently, as a reader you can focus on what Sanderson has shown himself to be a burgeoning master of – world and character building.

All of the major characters left standing at the end of  TWoK return for WoR, and some new ones are introduced as well.  The most developed characters, and likely by intention, are Kaladin and Shallan – but none of the characters lack for significant development here.  One of the elements that I love the most about this series so far is that these men and women are flawed – not in cliche, obvious ways, but in real, believable ways.  As with many epic, sweeping narratives, at this stage it is difficult to identify any card-carrying villains – while some characters actions or plots may seem more sinister, or less honorable, than others, it is made clear that each one is acting for what he or she truly believes is the greater good.  And the world itself is a character – Sanderson’s vivid descriptions and the way in which its harsh and violent nature impacts the characters and action add tremendously to the story.

Speaking of action, I am a big fan of the way Sanderson scripts his action sequences.  In particular, the climactic battle in the closing chapters is an absolute gem – I couldn’t stop reading until I’d finished it.  Quite frankly, that sentiment applies to the entirety of this novel – once I started it, it consumed all of my spare moments until I had finished it.  My biggest gripe is that based upon Sanderson’s website, the rough draft of Book Three is still only 95% complete – meaning it will still be quire some time before we have it in our hands.  Goddammit, Sanderson – how dare your massive creative endeavor take more time than I want to wait!

But what do you need when you are engrossed in a great book?  Why…a great drink, of course!  And nothing says fun like EWE’s Rum Punch!

jamaican-rum-punch,

This fun concoction that is relatively simple to make.  At it’s base, you’ll need Disaronno, Malibu / Captain Morgan Coconut Rum, cranberry juice, and orange juice.  Take a tall tumbler glass, fill with ice, then combine one part Disaronno, two parts rum, and fill the glass with equal parts cranberry and orange juice.  Garnish with a lime, cherry, or both, and enjoy.

But why let the fun stop there?  There are any number of varieties of flavored rum out there from both Captain Morgan and Malibu – pineapple, mango, passion fruit, etc.  You can also substitute other fruit juices, such as pineapple, cherry, etc.  So long as you base it with Disaronno and finish with orange juice, you’re going to be in good shape.  Well, until you have had four or five because they’re so damn good and you don’t notice the alcohol.  Then you might not be in good shape.  But fuck it – you won’t care!

And that brings us to bears.  Now, I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “how can even EWE possibly shoehorn bears into this in any kind of coherent way?

panda
Never doubt me again, humans.

I was humbled and honored to be nominated for a PANDA Award by the lovely and talented LightningEllen at Conquering the Gaming Backlog.  Her blog is a true gem – while the title may give away that she is chronicling her epic journey through the ever-expanding backlog that we gamers inevitably accrue (I feel you, kid.  The struggle is real.  The struggle is real real), giving us her thoughts, impressions, reviews and insights along the way, that isn’t the end of the story.  From touching tributes on Remembrance Day, sharing slices of her life (I’m currently scheduling an Amiibo intervention for you), giving glimpses of upcoming games and demos – it is an absolute treat every time I catch up on your posts.  All of you, minions, go forth and follow her, read her words, and be better for it.  Or I will find you.  And then no one will find you.  EVER.  AGAIN.

As LightningEllen said in her post, this award is particularly special because it was founded by Mr. Panda, a mainstay here in the blogging universe who has always been quick with a kind word, comment, or critique in my short time here as a malevolent omnicidal demon blogger.  What makes this award different?  Well, I will quote LightningEllen, quoting The Shameful Narcissist, quoting Mr. Panda, because I can: “This award is much different from the other chain awards floating around out there. PANDA stands for ‘Play A New Day Award’. I’ll quote the Shameful Narcissist’s quote of Mr. Panda’s explanation: ‘I want to encourage others to play for another day. No matter what is going on, whether in the world, your country, your home, or even in your mind, I want you to play for a new day. We’re all in this together, and we can make it together.’

The rules for the PANDA are quite simple.

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Nominate any number of people for the award.
  3. Encourage them in any way, whether through thanking or complimenting them.

In considering my nominations, I must first note that LightningEllen managed to nominate a number of the same folks that I would have as well – and her words for them would be echoed by me.  But in addition to those fine folks:

Anna at Anonymously Autistic – Autism is something near and dear to my heart, as my youngest son is autistic.  No matter how much I may try to learn about and understand what that means, all the science in the world is not as insightful as a look through the eyes of someone that sees the world in much the same way that he does.  For that, I can never thank you enough.  What you do is an amazing gift for so many people, autistic or not.

Donna at Dine And Rhyme – While it is no secret to anyone that reads my blog regularly that I LOVE FOOD, far fewer people know that I also have loved and admired poetry for most of my life.  My senior thesis in high school English was an original book of (horrendously awful) poetry.  Not only do I admire the work itself, but I have the utmost respect for people that put their thoughts and feelings into prose and then open themselves by putting those poems for the world to see.  Thank you for your blog.

Toreishi at Toreishi Games – told you before about the fantastic reviews over at Toreishi’s blog, but I think I’ve come to look forward even more so to any post titled “This is not a post and the cake is a lie.”  Because I know hilarity is about to ensue.

Beauty Beyond Bones – I don’t know if I even have sufficient words to express my respect for you.  I know something of dark places, and crawling out of them, and while we may not always agree on ideologies, you chronicle your struggles and triumphs with grace and eloquence, and in doing so, you are a source of inspiration for innumerable people that may be in a similar place.  You should be very proud – not just for your own journey, but for offering your experience to others as well.

And with that, my little ones, we come to the end of tonight’s journey.  As always, I am grateful and humbled that you joined me.  Whatever the cause of my sleepless nights – be it pain, confusion, loneliness, or what have you, I take solace in knowing that you are there.  If you ever need someone who has wronged you punished…or their family…or friends…or neighbors…you get the point – I’m your Evil Wizard. – EWE

 

#FrozenFoodFridays – Thanksgiving Edition

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving, minions!  The holiday is actually why I haven’t been as active this past week – this time of year there is just so much going on, and most of it is stressful and aggravating and makes me want to feed people to my dragon.  But since that’s “frowned upon” I will instead have to vent my irritation on all of you lucky boys and girls!

But before that – we can’t let Thanksgiving go by entirely without my personal recipe for an all-time holiday classic – yes, it’s time for EWE’s Probably-Won’t-Kill-You Pumpkin Pie!

And, of course, because I will be damned if I’m going to break from the theme of #FrozenFoodFridays, we will be using Marie Callender’s Frozen Pastry Pie Crust as a base.

frozen-pie-crust

Since we are talking about one of my personal favorite pies, I’m not going to mess around with optional ingredients – everything is required for this one, folks!  So if you decide you don’t need to follow my instructions, your pie may not turn out – and I might hunt you down and set you on fire.  You’ve been warned.

INGREDIENTS:

  1. 9″ Marie Callender’s Frozen Pastry Pie Crust
  2. 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
  3. 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  4. 2 large eggs
  5. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  6. 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  7. 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  8. 1/2 teaspoon ground salt
  9. 1/4 teaspoon ground pumpkin pie spice
  10. 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
  11. Whipped cream (your own, store bought, whatever)

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

In a medium-large bowl, whisk the pumpkin, condensed milk, eggs, and spices until the mixture is smooth.  Pour the mixture into the still-frozen pie crust.  Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Now reduce the heat to 350 degrees.  Continue baking for ~45 minutes, or until a knife can be inserted 1″ from the crust and comes out clean when removed.  Remove and allow to cool for several hours until room temperature.  Once room temperature, keep in refrigerator unless being served immediately.  Before serving, garnish with whipped cream.

See?  Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?  I just made a few of these the other day, and if I do say so myself, they turned out quite well.  I mean, there was one person who decided upon looking at it that it hadn’t been cooked enough and threw it out.  But I’m pretty sure that person just hates me.  Which, in fairness, is not that uncommon.  Besides – a whole bunch of other people ate it, and to the best of my knowledge, they aren’t dead yet.  So we are going to call it a success!

So that’s all for #FrozenFoodFridays this week, kiddos!  I promise to try and come around more this coming week – and I haven’t forgotten the request I received for a chicken recipe, so I will be seeing what I can do!  And I’ve also completed a couple of books and some games as well, so look for my thoughts on those too.  And, of course, ranting.  Lots and lots of ranting. – EWE

#FrozenFoodFridays – End of the World Edition?

Well, humans…you had a good run.  I mean, not really – but hey, I’m trying to let you go out with some dignity here, which is a far cry from the way you wiped out so many other species over the years, including SOME OF YOUR OWN PEOPLE.  But sadly, all awful experiments have to come to an end sometime, and for you that time is now.  Some of you are definitely not that bad, and I will genuinely miss a few, but it’s the other several billion that ruin it for you.  So, I’m afraid it’s meteors, tidal waves, and my newest experiment, fire tornadoes across the globe.  Sorry, nothing you can do now to stop it.  Nothing can change my mind.  I’ve had enough.  Nothing could…possibly…

…………….GODDAMMIT, Alanah!  Now what am I supposed to do, huh?!  I can’t destroy that!  LOOK AT THAT!  IT’S FUCKING ADORABLE!  Now thanks to you and Chelsea (I love you Chelsea, you’re adorable, don’t ever ever change) 5.99 billion mouthbreathers are going to get to continue fucking up the earth, and more importantly, MY LIFE!  Fine then – but when I finally make good on taking a trip to SF, you owe me a drink!  You know…after the, like, 20 I probably owe you for all the good shit you’ve done.

Anyway…I guess since I’m NOT going to vaporize you all now, it’s time for #FrozenFoodFridays.  Once again, I’m cheating a bit this week, as the item in question may be frozen, or may not.  And if it is, you’re gonna want to thaw it before you get started.  But fuck it – it counts.  So here are EWE’s secret/created in a drunken stupor and can’t remember anything exact recipe Cilantro Lime Swordfish Steaks!

swordfish-steak
Commence drooling, mortals.

Required Ingredients:

  1. Swordfish Steaks, frozen or fresh (if frozen, be sure to thaw first; if not, um, don’t).
  2. Limes, several (in case you missed it last time, I’m not big on numbers – just get a bunch).
  3. Cilantro, 1 bunch washed and chopped (if on the fence about how much to use, err on the side of MORE CILANTRO).
  4. Olive Oil (a small amount to grease the baking dish).

Optional Ingredients:

  1. Lemon (use sparingly, as it combines well but can overpower the lime, which defeats the whole purpose)
  2. Garlic, 1 clove, minced (I love garlic in almost anything – but sometimes just the simple cilantro and lime combo is very refreshing.  Try both and see what you prefer!)
  3. Black Pepper / Crushed Red Pepper (see comment for garlic above).
  4. Liquor (not actually an ingredient, but tends to help me think I’m not fucking up too badly).

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Grease a baking dish using a small amount of olive oil.  Place the fish steaks in the baking dish.  Cut several of the limes in half and squeeze them over the fish until the steaks are covered and surrounded by lime juice.  Cut a remaining lime into slices and place these on and around the fish steaks in the baking dish.  Now cover everything with the chopped cilantro.  If you have used any optional ingredients, add those at this time as well.  In a small bowl, squeeze a few more limes to be used to baste during baking.

Place the baking dish on the middle oven rack, uncovered, and bake for 15-20 minutes, basting occasionally, until the fish is easy to flake with a fork.  Serve garnished with a fresh lime or lemon slice, if desired.

So I hope you enjoyed #FrozenFoodFridays once again, as well as the world not ending.  You can thank Alanah and Chelsea.  I did get a small measure of revenge though – while she was playtesting a VR game, I projected an image of my face into her headset.


Ah…good times! – EWE

#OmNoMonday – Eat Your Damn Vegetables!

Well hello once again, my ravenous rapscallions!  Today I bring you a special entry in response to a reader request.  Well, actually, I don’t even know if she reads this.  But she asked for a recipe of mine, and I’m putting that recipe here – so I know she’s going to read at least ONE of these blogs!  But since this isn’t Friday, and the dish in question doesn’t involve anything frozen, I needed a different gimmick.  I debated #MunchieMonday, but that just seemed to easy.  So I arrived at #OmNoMonday.  Will this be a new regular segment?  Well…define “regular.”  If “regular” to you means “whenever EWE decides to do it” then yes, yes it will.

Now on this first #OmNoMonday ever, I have been requested/instructed to provide my super-ultra-secret recipe for delicious roasted brussel sprouts!

roasted-brussel-sprouts
Mmmmmm.

What’s that, you say?  You don’t like brussel sprouts?  Oh, never fear – I can fix that in three easy steps!  Step 1: Shut up.  Step 2: Never contradict me again.  Step 3: Follow this simple and delicious recipe and you’ll now love brussel sprouts.  See, wasn’t that easy?

Now, there are very few required ingredients here, and a few optional ones.  But the most notable thing about my recipe is that the measurements are…let’s go with “vague.”  This is because I developed this recipe during the consumption of several adult beverages by basically just combining things and eyeballing the amounts.  Now, onto the show!

Required Ingredients:

  1. Brussel Sprouts (like, 1 lb?  A bag?  However many you’ll fucking eat?)
  2. Olive Oil (roughly 3 tablespoons, assuming you’re in the neighborhood of 1 lb of sprouts)
  3. Ground Black Pepper (How much?  Well, how peppery do you like things?)

Optional Ingredients:

  1. Balsamic Vinegar (a few dribbles, maybe up to a single tablespoon – nothing too overpowering)
  2. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (the more the merrier, er, spicier)
  3. Ground White Pepper (ditto)

Now, you can even simplify further I suppose by just using the sprouts and the olive oil and forgoing any pepper at all…but then you and I both know that you’re really making bitch brussels, and nobody wants to serve bitch brussels, right?

Anyway, onto the preparation instructions!

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Rinse your brussel sprouts, cut off the brown stem ends, and cut each sprout in half.
  3. In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine all your other ingredients (olive oil, black pepper, crushed red pepper, white pepper, balsamic vinegar).
  4. Dump the cut brussel sprouts into the bowl and cover it tightly with a lid, a plate, saran wrap, whatever.
  5. Using both hands to keep a secure grip on the bowl and ensure the lid remains tightly in place, vigorously shake the bowl like it’s a relative that voted for Trump.
  6. stupid-trump
    Goddamn you, Uncle Jim Bob and Aunt Tammy Sue!
  7. Check to make sure the cut sprouts are thoroughly coated with the mixture, then spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  8. Bake at 400 for ~40 minutes.  You can, if desired, turn the sprouts over halfway through in order for them to brown equally on either side, but in practice, this isn’t necessary.

And voila!  Now you like brussel sprouts.  Or at least you should – if not, it isn’t the sprouts, there is something wrong with you.  You should feel bad.  These are obviously tasty fresh from the oven, but be sure to refrigerate any leftovers because they might actually be even better chilled as a snack, in my opinion!

And with that, the first-ever #OmNoMonday comes to a close!  So remember kids – eat your vegetables, or you’ll wind up a bitter, pathetic hermit, living alone, unloved by anyone…actually, even if you eat your vegetables, that’s still a possible outcome.  Goddammit. – EWE

Dragon Quest Retrospective, Part 3 – Return to the West

When last we were here, brace adventurers and adventurettes, we were faced with the harsh reality of Dragon Quests V and VI for the SNES never making their way across the Pacific, until many years and a company merger later.  It was a dark time for fans of traditional, turn-based JRPGs.  Yet there was hope on the horizon, and that hope was in the form of the numeral VII.  Two numeral VIIs, actually – both released for Sony’s inaugural effort into the home gaming console realm, the PlayStation.  One was a small, niche title from some company called Squaresoft called Final Fantasy VII – you’ve probably never heard of it.  And the other was the final Dragon Quest to be developed and released by Enix on its own – Dragon Quest VII.

Released in Japan in 2000, Dragon Quest VII was notable for several reasons.  It was the first Dragon Quest game to be developed and released for a non-Nintendo platform, being released for the Sony PlayStation.  It also was the first Dragon Quest game to be released in CD format rather than on a cartridge.  And with its US release in 2001, it marked the return of Dragon Quest to Western shores.  Gameplay wise, most of the core fundamentals remained intact – turn-based combat, an expansive world, and the deepest class system yet in the series.  The sheer scope of VII made it stand out – a standard playthrough of the game would easily reach 100 hours, and delving deeply into the different classes could double that number.  However, the Western release was marred by two flaws – a poor, incomplete localization, and the gigantic shadow cast by Final Fantasy VII.  This led to limited sales in America, and the game quickly went out of production and became something of a collector’s item among JRPG fans.  This ended in 2016 when the game was remade for the 3DS, with improved visuals as well as an entirely new, much better translation.  This is definitely the way to experience this game.


Released in Japan in 2004 and in the US in 2005, Dragon Quest VIII saw the series jump to the PS2 and into full 3D.  It also was the first time in the series that encounters were not random – enemies appeared on the map and could be avoided (this feature would later be implemented into the 3DS remake of VII).  It was also the first game in the series not to be retitled “Dragon Warrior” when localized for the West, instead retaining its original Dragon Quest moniker.  Finally, VIII was the first title in the series to be developed by the combined might of the merged Square Enix, and as such included a demo of the much- anticipated Final Fantasy XII.  The title saw tremendous critical and commercial success in both Japan and the US, with many thinking that this was the mark of the Dragon Quest series finally “modernizing” by combining its classic turn-based combat with beautiful visuals and a unique character development system that eschewed set classes or roles in favor of developing individual skills for each character.  It also featured a robust alchemy system for the first time in the series.  With this, many expected the next Dragon Quest game to push the visual boundaries and epic storytelling even further – but Square Enix had a surprise in store.


Square Enix shocked many by developing Dragon Quest IX exclusively for Nintendos DS handheld system.  Following the success of the visually impressive DQ VIII and the breathtaking Final Fantasy XII, DQ IX’s release in Japan in 2009 and the US in 2010 left many fans scratching their heads.  In a way, IX represented something of a “concept album” for the series.  Rather than the party being comprised of specific story-based characters, it was comprised entirely of player-created members, something not seen since DQ III.  And for the first time in the series, and rarely seen in any JRPG, there was a multiplayer component to IX’s gameplay – other party members could be controlled by other players in combat.  Further, IX featured online content in the form of items and visiting characters from previous entries in the series, as well as downloadable quests that couldn’t be received any other way.  Gameplay still features turn based combat, again featuring a deep class system.  However, while there was again a central narrative driving the player forward, most of the time in the game was spent completing tasks in a robust quest system inspired by MMO RPGs.  While a tremendous critical success, IX failed to achieve quite the same commercial success as its predecessor, unfortunately leading SE to conclude that the West once again wasn’t a profitable market for the Dragon Quest brand, and leading to some titles not crossing the Pacific again.


Originally released in Japan in 2012, Dragon Quest X is a unique entry in the series.  As of this writing, it is the only main entry in the series that has solely been released in Japan, with no form being localized or announced for the Western market.  It also marked a departure from the series single-player roots – X was a full-fledged MMO RPG.  A class system that combines elements of classic Dragon Quest games and the MMO features of Final Fantasy XI, and a battle system that was a mashup of the legendary Active Time Battle system and real-time MMO combat allowed X to carve out its own niche in the crowded MMO market.  While critically praised and commercially popular in Japan, SE has cited prohibitive localization and development costs as the reason why they have no current plans to bring the title to the West.

And with that, we have reached the end of the current, main series entries in the venerable Dragon Quest franchise.  With the exception of the Japan-exclusive MMO DQ X, I have played every entry in the series and I can personally attest to both their level of craftsmanship as well as their place as a cornerstone of the JRPG genre through the years.  These games served as my gateway into the world of console gaming, and they have a warm spot in the abyss where you humans would keep your heart.  I eagerly await the development and release of Dragon Quest XI, as well as the continued success of the franchise as a whole.

While this retrospective has focused on the main entries in the series, it is no secret that there are a number of spin-offs and side-entries under the Dragon Quest banner.  Should any of you wish a look into those, please let me know in the comments section.  I sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed my nostalgic trip down memory lane.  And if you haven’t then I sincerely hope you have your life insurance paid up before the meteor I just summoned lands on your roof.

So until next time kids, remember – no matter how you may want to try and spin your support for Trump as not being an indication of you being a hateful, horrific human, when the KKK holds a parade in celebration of your chosen candidate’s victory, you should probably take a long, hard look in the mirror…and then drive your face into it as hard as you possibly can. – EWE

#FrozenFoodFridays – Godzilla Threshold Edition

I’m going to level with you, kids – it has not been a good week.  I am not in a good mood.  I thought I was going to witness a historical event for you humans earlier this week: you were going to follow the first African-American president in the history of America with the first female president in the history of America.  And I could genuinely respect her, too – evil, but not TOO evil.  Just skilled and experienced politician level evil.  But then the goddamned ignorant masses did what they always do and fucked it all up.  Instead of doing the intelligent thing, and electing a leader that they may not have liked, but who was good at, you know, fucking leading – they went with the goddamn motherfucking psychotic sex offender.  And so now…now I’m stuck with four fucking years of this.

trump-stupid-face
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!

You know, over the centuries I’ve tried to separate the wheat from the chaff for you people.  I’ve plagued some stupid fuckers, I’ve burned your cities to thin out the herd, I’ve even sunk an advanced civilization or two to the bottom of the sea so that the rest of you wouldn’t feel too inferior.  But every once in a while, I have to stand back and see what you’ve learned, what you can do on your own.  AND THIS IS HOW YOU FUCKING REWARD ME?!

You know what, that’s it.  There comes a time when things have gotten so abso-fucking-lutely awful that literally ANY solution is acceptable, no matter how destructive or collaterally damaging it may be.  That’s right – the Godzilla Threshold.  When things have gotten so bad that releasing an all-powerful incarnation of destruction is actually THE BEST POSSIBLE OUTCOME.  And you insignificant fleshbags didn’t just cross the threshold, you threw yourself over it like a drunk frat boy belly-flopping into the pool.  And like that drunk frat boy, I hope those of you who thought voting for this orange muppet was a good idea will enjoy drowning when the goddamn polar ice caps melt.  Because me and the big G will sure enjoy watching it.

And that mind-bendingly stupid outcome to the US election, coupled with dealing with a few other, more personal failings, leads us into this week’s #FrozenFoodFridays.  Now, you may ask, what kind of icy treat might EWE use to lift his spirits in these troubled times?  Some more ice cream?  Perhaps another dessert?

Fuck no.  We are WELL past the point of that.

jaeger
Chill. Pour. Drink. Repeat.

What’s that?  Jaegermeister isn’t a “frozen food?”  Well, there are only two ways to store this particular liquor – 1. in the freezer, and 2. improperly.  So shut the fuck up.  It gets stored in the freezer, ergo, it counts for #FrozenFoodFridays.

Needless to say, there isn’t much prepping involved here, but there are any number of ways in which to enjoy this delicious herbal spirit.  Of course, you can just drink it by the shot, or on election night, chug it straight from the bottle.  But if you aren’t trying to put yourself into a coma for the next four years, there are also some tasty beverages that you can prepare for your next pointless human social gathering.  There is the classic Dr. Jaeger, which as one might expect is a mixture of Jaeger and Dr. Pepper soda.  And of course, mixing liquor, almost any liquor, with Coke usually turns out alright.  A relatively new one is to mix Jaeger with Mt. Dew Pitch Black – a bit more citrus than the other soda-based drinks.

There is the ever-popular Jaeger Bomb, combining Jaeger and Red Bull.  My preference is for the Ch-ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb – Jaeger, black cherry energy drink, and grenadine.  And for those of you that feel like getting VERY creative, mix yourself some Black Blood.  Pour 2 oz of Blue Curacao liquor, 1 oz of Jaeger, and 1 oz of Squirt citrus soda into a shaker with ice, shake well and serve.

And with that, #FrozenFoodFridays comes to an end once again.  But before I go, I want to speak directly to all of the celebrating Trump supporters out there.  I keep hearing how you’re tired of being called bigots and racists just because you voted for a racist bigot.  Let me give you a bit of perspective: thanks to your votes, there are MILLIONS of Americans who are afraid for their lives.  They are afraid they are going to have their families ripped apart, afraid to worship their religion freely, afraid to be darker complected than your average Western European, afraid that their marriages that they just finally won the right to have are going to be taken away.  So let me be as clear as I possibly can – I care a metric fuck-ton more about THEIR feelings than I do about how YOU’RE feeling right now.  You don’t want to be called racist?  Here’s a thought – don’t choose a racist to represent what you believe.  It’s not fucking rocket science.  And I know, I know…there were a lot of different considerations that went into your vote, right?  Well, you forgot one detail about this nation – IT’S MINE.  All of the talk about how the progressives are soft and weak and politically correct – THAT DOES NOT APPLY TO ME.  I had this continent of misfits finally heading in something vaguely resembling the right direction – and now you’ve derailed the whole goddamn thing.  So here is what your friendly neighborhood EWE has to tell you – I am now going to have to spend four years putting out this raging dumpster fire that you started, and then start guiding us back just to where we ALREADY FUCKING WERE before we can make any more ACTUAL PROGRESS.  I am suggesting that you stay out of the way.  But if you decide not to, well…it’s not like I need much incentive for disproportionate retribution, do I? – EWE