EWE’s Insomnia & Gaming – Part 1

So, humans, it is a fairly poorly kept secret that old EWE has issues with sleeping through the night. For whatever reason, I am typically unable to get a thorough night’s sleep – and thus the search begins to find something to do during those hours when the world is aslumber and I’m left alone and awake.  Of course, this primarily means Switch, Vita, 3DS, my laptop with Steam access, or occasional classics on PSP and GBA.  Doesn’t mean I won’t switch a PS4 or Xbox One game in there, but generally these are last resort options due to having to go downstairs from bed and risking waking the neighbors – so what games make the grade?  Well here is the first in a haphazard and sporadic series on what I play when I sit bolt upright in bed, look at my phone, and utter some type of curse at the time.

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It is no secret that I absolutely loved Trails in the Sky – in my opinion, one of the best classic-style turn-based RPGs to be made in years.  So I naturally picked up its sequel series, Trails of Cold Steel, when it initially released on Vita.  But, as I had something of an extensive (cough massive cough) backlog, I had yet to do more than start the first game once or twice.  That has now changed, as when I woke up at 2 a.m. the other night the first thing I did (Editor’s Note: the second thing, actually, the first being looking at the time and saying, I believe, “god-fucking-dammit) ahem, the SECOND thing I did was fire up a new game on my Vita.  While I have thoroughly enjoyed the game thus far, I will say that all of the comparisons between this game and similar “social life” RPGs in the Persona series are not entirely accurate.  Time often passes in chunks rather than day by day, and as of this writing the social link aspect hasn’t really done much but give me some cute but predictable cutscenes and a slight increase in combat teamwork.  But if this comes across as a criticism, it is not intended as one – if I wanted to play Persona on my Vita, I would, you know…play Persona on my Vita.  I like what Cold Steel has offered so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of it…though preferably not always in the dead of night.

As an aside, and at the risk of sounding sappy (Editor’s Note: please, before you mock him, remember that he would not hesitate to set the world, quite literally, on fire), I’m well aware that it is some type of corporate emotion holiday today, and while I do not have a “Valentine”…if I were to, I know who it would be, and I got to make that person smile once or twice today, so I will take my small victories where I can get them. – EWE


Monster Hunter: World – Or Gutting Dinosaurs For Fun and Profit

Hello, Hunters!  So, as I continue to adapt and adjust to some changes in my fibro (Editor’s Note: you curl up in a ball and mew like a kitten when the weather changes abruptly) SHUT UP…ahem, ADAPT and ADJUST, I was given an unexpected treat.  My Eldest Evil Offspring ™ decided that he wanted to spend some of his Christmas money on a copy of Monster Hunter: World and leave it at my apartment to play when he and his younger co-clone are here plotting with me.


Now, I’ve tried on a number of occasions to “get into” Monster Hunter games.  Dating back to some of the PSP outings, and even most recently with Monster Hunter Generations on the 3DS, I have wanted badly to like them.  The general concept – take assassination contracts on various monstrosities, harvest their parts, wear them as trophies – appeals to both the maniacal evil genius, and the grinding treadmill gamer, sides of me.  (Editor’s Note: “Genius” might be a bit of a stretch…do I need to recount our personal life choices?)  …Point taken.

The point, dear humans, is that despite my efforts, I just have heretofore been unable to really enjoy my time with previous Monster Hunter games.  Everything about them just felt…slow.  Clunky.  I know in part this is by design – these aren’t designed to be fast-paced hack-and-slash games – but sometimes it also felt like an artificial and unnecessary frustration inducer.  In short, I would inevitably play for a while, over several sessions…but invariably put the game aside for something else and not really miss it.  They were never able to capture my devotion long-term.

Until now.


Now I’m hardly far enough into the game to call this a “review” but in my early and not-so-humble opinion, Monster Hunter: World fixes just about everything I’ve ever really disliked about the series.  Is the combat still measured?  Yes, but not in the same frustration-inducing way that I remember.  Instead, each of the 14 Hunter weapon styles is distinct in its speed, timing, combos, and visceral impact – the combat rewards changing not just your weapons for different fights, but also your mastery of each weapon’s distinctive play style.  If you have been using the lightning-like dual blades exclusively, and then notice that a particular target is weak to blunt damage so you grab a hammer and go after it without spending some time altering your approach to suit your new tool…you are going to get painfully destroyed in short order.  But unlike my past experiences with the games, this stops short of feeling unfair or frustrating – just intelligent and challenging.

I also LOVE the open-world expeditions that you can choose to embark on as an alternative to the more traditional timed missions that are a hallmark of Monster Hunter.  Don’t get me wrong – the missions are still the primary bread-and-butter of the game, and I’ve never had any issue with the mission-based structure of previous games – but the open-world exploration and sidequest elements supplement the larger-scale missions perfectly, allowing you to take a break from difficult tasks and relax or grind up some bones and scales to improve your equipment.  As someone who has many (Editor’s Note: many, MANY) times lamented the seeming glut of games that just decide to throw in an open world because it’s “the thing to do,” I was very pleasantly surprised to discover how well done this is.  There is freedom, but not lack of direction or sacrifice of world building and level design.  It is just so well balanced – a tremendous testament to the development team.


Suffice to say, I’ve been pleasantly surprised (and mercifully distracted) by this unexpected addition to my PS4 library.  I’m looking forward to further hunts, more harvesting, and bringing you my additional thoughts as I continue to delve deeper into Monster Hunter: World.  Plus, you get an anthropomorphic cat as a personal bodyguard – this automatically makes it awesome.

Until next time, humans, remember – next time you may be feeling down about yourself, you pick up that chin, because this is America, a land where anybody – ANY-FUCKING-BODY – can do anything, even be president.  Yes, even a horrific, abhorrent, orange-skinned, fake-haired, petulant, raving, rambling, syphilitic, moronic, illiterate, misogynistic, raging dumpster fire posing as a human can.  And if HE can, then YOU can.  Unless, you know…he gets us all killed first.  Then you can’t. – EWE

I’m Still Here

Hello, humans.  I know I’m interrupting your massive celebrations caused by my absence and apparent demise – but my death has been greatly exaggerated.  Or at least a little exaggerated.  I have, in reality, been feeling pretty shitty, and trying to get work done and helping out the people in my life that need takes all the energy that I have out of me.

I do find time for some games though!  I’ve finished Divinity: Original Sin and loved every minute, and now I’ve launched right back into Divinity: Original Sin 2.  These are both just prime examples of how to do so many parts of game development right.  Crowdfunding, significant content stretch goals, quality product on release, and a deep and immersive RPG story.  I love these games – I can’t say that enough.  I’ve also begun a weekly ritual of fourplay coop games with my sons and friends which has been a blast.

My writing and journaling has been sporadic as my pain levels allow me to find the energy to be creative.  My standup is much the same – whenever I can find it in my body to do an act, I’m trying to do so.  It is so fun, and I’m glad I can still find energy to write and perform!

And work is still a love both professional and personal.  One day maybe my love won’t break there, but heal full instead.  It is the same person that can do both, so hopefully a matter of time!

Pain Sucks and Other Wisdom

It’s been a while, humans.  While I would actually love to be able to say I’ve just been so busy that I haven’t had time to sit down with you all, unfortunately the reason is MUCH more of a pain in my ass.  Actually, it’s pain literally everywhere.  See, years ago I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  Essentially, I hurt, everywhere, to varying degrees, all the time.  There are medications and treatments that they try to help mitigate the condition somewhat, but the bottom line is that fibro itself isn’t that well understood yet, and they can’t cure it or do much more than try to treat the symptoms.  Several months back, I started to experience significantly increased, debilitating levels of pain, along with increased frequency of migraines.  Dealing with that day in and out is, quite simply, exhausting.  So after months of testing to figure out what was wrong – as I have a family history of other issues that they wanted to rule out – it was finally determined that my fibro has advanced in severity and intensity, and in addition, my nervous system is actually more responsive and acute than most – top 4 percent of people, from what they’ve said.  While normally, I’d be thrilled to be in the top percentile of anything, when it means you feel exponentially more pain from your CONSTANT FUCKING PAIN DISORDER, it loses its charm.

All that to say…I have to accept a higher level of pain as my new “normal.”  And that has sapped most of my waking energy lately.  So the updates have been very sparse, and may still be for a while – but I promise they will keep coming when possible!

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But while I’ve been laid up I’ve found some ways to spend my time – like, for example, the digital crack that is Stardew Valley on the Nintendo Switch.  Yes, my cat Zero and I have started quite the cozy little farm, creating mayonaise and cheese and trying to win the love of the dark gamer girl Abigail.  Sadly, art imitates life – and she wants nothing to do with me.  Goddammit.

I also decided that, in order to fully immerse myself in the storyline of Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward, the ideal class to play was Ishgard’s own Dragoon.  So after some intense grinding to get my level up to snuff, I can say it was well worth it, as much of the lore and history of Ishgard and the Warrior of Light’s quest there is inextricably woven with the Dragoons themselves.  While by no means do you NEED to play as a Dragoon to appreciate the story, I’ve felt much more of a connection to the characters and their struggles as one of the high-flying dragon-slaying knights than I would have otherwise.  FFXIV remains my favorite MMO of all time – and I’ve played many – as well as one of my favorite FF games ever – and I’ve played them all.

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Getting tired (and pissed off for being tired) but before I go for now, one last tidbit that caught my attention, and that is that sleeper-hit SRPG God Wars: Future Past is getting a full story DLC expansion in Japan.  The main game made its way to the West on PS4 and Vita and was one of the best SRPGs I’ve played in some time, so here is hoping that the DLC makes it here (for Vita especially since that’s what I played it on) as well.

Now, it is time for meds and trying in vain to actually sleep for a while before giving up and playing a game while watching Dragon Ball Super all night and being exhausted tomorrow.  This isn’t a cry for help – it’s just my natural state now.  Actually…that might be a cry for help.  I don’t know anymore. – EWE

A Fall Caffeine Fix and Some Other Bits

Greets, humans!  It’s been a bit of a whirlwind this past week or so, so let’s get right to it, shall we?

First thing’s first, good ol’ (and by that I mean REALLY FUCKING OLD) EWE had himself a birthday last week.  Yeah, don’t worry – it kinda sucked.  It was a horrifically awful work day, and most of the small group of people I’d have most like to have celebrated with actually DIDN’T REMEMBER IT WAS MY BIRTHDAY.  On the plus side though, it did manage to reaffirm my long held, but sometimes shaken belief in the human species.  Even when I meet folks like Malevolent Moogle or all of you fine blogging folk out there, and begin to think that your species has some potential, water always finds its level, and the balance of humanity always manages to sink well below any bar that might be set for it, no matter how low.  But hey – I’m still alive, so there’s always time!

EWE and Editor Always Time

As a present for not being dead yet, the universe decided to present me with the question “how the hell aren’t you dead yet?”  You see, hypertension runs in my veins (HA! I slay me) having reared it’s ugly head in a number of my ancestors.  Diet, exercise, protection spells, ritual blood sacrifices – nothing seems to help.  So after a year on a blood pressure med, my cardiologist called me in for a checkup.  After first asking me such inane questions as “any stresses in your personal life?” and having me scowl silently at him for several moments before awkwardly moving on, he determined that my blood pressure…was still too high.  So he prescribed a second med to go with the first, and said to call in with my blood pressure numbers after one month.  And so I did – I reported that after one month of taking his second med as directed, my blood pressure had managed to actually go up further.  I’m awaiting word on what the hell I am supposed to do now.  And while I wait, I was sitting at work when I received the following phone call.


“Hi, it’s Mom!  Are you busy?”

“No, it’s ok – is everything alright?”

“Now, I don’t want you to panic or anything – ” (Editor’s Note: This is never a good lead.) ” – but I was just at my doctor, and they are saying I recently had a heart attack.”

“What?!  When?!”

“They aren’t sure, probably within the last couple of weeks – but don’t worry!  I’m fine, I’m even driving to physical therapy!”


First off, Evil Mom is fine.  She’s home, and she’s being closely watched.  But everything about that conversation is a sample of why when the cardiologist asks “any personal stress?” I just stare at him in abject fury.

But all is not doom and gloom!  Yes, it is my favorite season of the year – fall!  Autumn!  92 fucking degrees and humid!  Wait, that’s not right…anyway, in celebration of the season, let me share with you my favorite fall morning fix, and save you a trip to Starbucks every day.  Here is EWE’s Fall Coffee!

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So here is what you will need: a standard drip coffeemaker, a coffee bean grinder, your favorite cinnamon coffee beans, nutmeg, pumpkin spice, ginger, ground clove, vanilla extract, and Coffee-Mate Pumpkin Spice Creamer.  Grind the beans based upon how much coffee you want, place in the filter, then add just a dash of each of the spices above.  Be particularly careful with the ginger, clove, and vanilla – just a bit of each is powerful and can quickly overpower the other flavors.  Brew the coffee, pour, and add just a touch of the pumpkin spice creamer.  Voila – with minimal effort, you have the best fall coffee on the face of the earth.

Now go make some and enjoy what are looking like the last days of my body’s functional lifespan! – EWE

#FrozenFoodFridays – Malevolent Moogle Request Edition

Greets and welcome to the weekend, humans!  I hope that the evening finds you well, or if you live in the U.S., at least finds you not dying in a natural disaster.  The South is underwater, the West is on fire…but hey, let’s not worry about climate change, it’s all just a bunch of lies spread by the Chinese, right?  Sure.  Tell me – when Trump Tower is suddenly not above sea level anymore, can that stuffed lion you had your kid riding on in your horrifically gaudy family photo be used as a flotation device?  Probably something you should think about at this rate.

I attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for my newly-remodeled alma mater, The University of Akron School of Law, along with my BFF and fellow law grad Malevolent Moogle.  MM, in the blunt and forthright manner that is one of the primary reasons I value her friendship and advice above all others (this is the same person who once told me “oh my god, you are fucking flypaper for crazies!”), complimented my recent blogging work while lamenting that it had been some time since the last entry in #FrozenFoodFridays.  And so, without further ado, I welcome you to the latest installment in the now-quite-irregular ongoing series, #FrozenFoodFridays – Malevolent Moogle Request Edition!

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Not Pictured: Malevolent Moogle immediately after this was taken chasing me around like a maniacally laughing madwoman, attempting to decapitate me.

Now, one of the reasons that I put the weekly #FrozenFoodFridays to bed for a while is because I simply hadn’t been able to try as many different frozen foods, even using my extremely malleable standard of what can even remotely involve the term “frozen food.”  However, I am pleased to say that I have lately come upon a new product in the freezer section of my local Giant Eagle: Healthy Choice Power Bowls!

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Focused on a blend of high-protein meats, grains, and greens, these quick fixes come in four varieties, all of which I’ve enjoyed quite a bit – although frankly they had me sold at Korean BBQ.  Just microwave them according to the times in the instructions (I advise sticking to the lowest recommended time, and even then I’ve had some of them come out kind of overcooked and dry, but only rarely), then stir and enjoy.  The Korean BBQ is a bit spicy, but the rest are just flavorful, and the portion size is actually perfect to leave you not feeling still hungry but not overfull either.

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And with that, our #FrozenFoodFridays has come to its end!  But my night is far from over – I need to get some new material written for the open-mic stand-up I’ve been doing lately, and I want to get some more progress made in Mario x Rabbids as well as Final Fantasy XIV, and maybe read a little bit before I completely crash and shut down.  But let it be known – my promise to Malevolent Moogle to bring you a #FrozenFoodFriday came first! – EWE

Rabbids & Smartphones & Dragon Balls, Oh My!

Greets, mortals!  I hope the evening finds you well…unless, of course, I hate you, in which case I hope the evening finds you fervently wishing that I DON’T FIND YOU.  Either way, welcome back.  Tonight I’ve got a few thoughts on a lot of different things for you, which is a bit of a change from normal.  I’ve found lately that, especially when I’m alone with my feline overlord, my mood and thoughts and emotions are scattered all over the place (well, aside from the constant overwhelming seething cauldron of hate for humanity…that’s pretty consistent), and consequently, I’ve been consuming media in a similar, scattershot fashion.  The good news for all of you, though, is that now you get to hear a bit about all sorts of good (or bad) stuff!  You may prostrate yourselves now.  I’ll wait.

It was a cliched and stormy night in Costa del Sol…

First up, we have the continuing adventures of Evil Wizard as he journeys through Eorzea in Final Fantasy XIV.  Although the new expansion, Stormblood, was released this summer, I’ve yet to venture into any of that story content.  In fact, I’ve only recently, finally powered through all of the story missions that served as the bridge between the original Realm Reborn storyline and the first expansion, Heavensward.  After having reached Ishgard, I decided to take a slight break from powering through story content to level and unlock some other jobs.  But that isn’t to say the story isn’t calling to me – truth be told, I honestly feel like Final Fantasy XIV is the best game in the main series since IX, and maybe even since VI, and that is saying an awful lot because I have a lot of love for FF XII.  But XIV has an absolutely massive amount of plot content and characters, and the overwhelming majority of them are stellar.  Honestly, I recommend this game to anyone that loves RPGs.  Not just MMOs, not just Final Fantasy – if RPGs are your thing, and you haven’t tried XIV at all, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

It’s Mega Mario Metroid Man!

Next up, I’ve got the Switch game that up until E3 a couple months ago literally nobody knew they wanted.  Seriously, the Rabbids are the most goddamned annoying fuckers this side of the It’s A Small World ride at Disney World, and when Nintendo and Ubisoft announced  a crossover between them and the world of Mario you could hear the entire Internet give a collected groan.  Then around came E3, and with it the revelation that this would be a turn-based strategy game with some RPG elements – essentially X-COM lite but with Mario & Co. taking on Ubi’s insane vermin.  After spending several hour with it since launch and getting through the first couple of worlds, I can easily say this game is the biggest surprise of the year for me, and that’s saying something with a Mario game.  The X-COM style cover-based gameplay is fantastic, though in the early stages the difficulty seems significantly less than the sci-fi masterpiece.  This can likely be chalked up to the game being aimed at a much larger target market on the Switch than the decidedly older audience that X-COM attracts.  My understanding from friends that are much further into the game is that there is a definite difficulty spike later on, so I am greatly intrigued and thus far highly recommend Mario x Rabbids: Kingdom Battle to anyone with a Switch and a love of X-COM.

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Hooray Job Systems!

Next up, for when I’m stuck with nothing but my phone or it’d be impolite to just open a book or Vita and blatantly ignore everyone around me, I’ve found myself diving back into Final Fantasy Dimensions.  I found myself drawn back in after talking about it for a bit with intrepid Michael “FinalMacstorm” Cunningham of #TeamHandheld.  I’ve been away from it for a while and am still getting back into the plot, but since it’s heavily patterned on the 16-bit Final Fantasy’s of old, there isn’t too much complexity to worry about.  I do now remember that the slow influx of jobs is made a bit more irritating by the fact that you can’t max them out – at particular beats in the story, you are granted a small pool of points that allow you to increase the max level of whatever jobs you choose for each character.  While I don’t believe this to be a monetization of the system – I don’t think you can purchase more of the points using real money – I haven’t yet reached the point of being able to know if there will be enough of these points to max out all jobs for everyone, or if not, how many each character may be able to fully develop.  It’s tough because it doesn’t let you really know if you should be specializing particular characters or what, and a somewhat incongruent party split can exacerbate matters somewhat.  Still, it isn’t anything that can’t be overcome with a bit of grinding, and I’m a complete whore for grinding in an old-school job system RPG.  Not going to say I’d wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone yet, but if you are older than time as I am, and love Final Fantasy V’s job system, you’ll likely find this worthwhile.

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Last, but assuredly not least, I’ve also been catching up on Dragon Ball Super.  DB is one of those series that I watch in spurts – I’ll binge a couple of dozen episodes and love them, then hit a saturation point and put it away for a while.  I’ve reached the point where Goku & Friends have been confronted by Black’s Super Saiyan Rose, and I must say that one of the features I love about this show is that every once in a while they show a flashback to events that occurred in prior series such as the seminal Dragon Ball Z, and the contrast between the quality of the animation in those and the gorgeous HD animation in Super just can’t be fully described.  Akira Toriyama’s character designs are world-renowned and timeless, and for as much as I love his work in the Dragon Quest series, this is the apex in terms of the quality animation.  As for the series, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much Dragon Ball has grown up – even in a series where death is often cheapened or worked around, there has been some genuine moments of tension and loss, and I feel like the experience gained by reworking Dragon Ball Z into Dragon Ball Z Kai has helped the studio to get a better grip on balancing fights with character development.  So no more 17-episode buildups to seeing Goku throw one Spirit Bomb…and that’s a very good thing.  If you’ve ever been a fan of Dragon Ball, you should check it out.

And that’s that for tonight, kiddos.  But before I go, just a piece of advice…I guarantee that most, if not all, of you humans have someone close to you that is likely suffering from depression.  You probably don’t know it, because they probably don’t say much if anything about it – ironically enough, because they already feel like a complete burden to those around them and don’t want to make it any worse.  But while they may be able to smile or crack a joke, inside they are very, very alone.  You humans have but a short time on this earth, and in that time, almost everything costs something…but kindness is free.  It can be given away to all that you care about with no real cost to you.  And while it might seem like little or nothing to you at the time, I guarantee you it means the world to someone.  Not that I care about the happiness of you pathetic mortals. – EWE