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.

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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

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#FrozenFoodFridays – Return of the Sweets Edition

Hello, humans!  I just couldn’t let another week go by without letting you into my kitchen for everybody’s favorite part of this blog – I mean, aside from my rampant nihilism – #FrozenFoodFridays!  Now, as an extra special treat this week, this delicious treat will both satisfy your sweet tooth and your booze craving – and I made it up completely myself!  Which will be evident by 1. the actual picture of it I took, and 2. the relatively vague measurements I give for the recipe.  So here, without further ado, is EWE’s Salted Caramel Chocolate Porter Beer Bread with Bailey’s Irish Glaize!

Bread Ingredients:

  1. Self-rising flour (3 cups)
  2. Brown sugar (1/3 cup)
  3. Vanilla extract (1/2 teaspoon)
  4. Honey (not too much, just to taste)
  5. Hershey’s chocolate syrup (again, to taste, but the more the merrier)
  6. Genesee Brewhouse Salted Caramel Chocolate Porter (12 oz – and obviously any chocolate beer can work)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well until a rich brown dough is formed.  If you overestimated on the flour, you can add a little more beer/chocolate syrup/honey to make sure everything gets absorbed.  Place dough mixture in 9″ loafpan and make sure it is evenly distributed and smooth out the top.  Place in oven and bake for 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool while making the glaize.

Glaize Ingredients:

  1. Powdered sugar (1 1/4 cups)
  2. Bailey’s Irish Creme liquor (2 tablespoons, at least)
  3. Heavy cream (2 teaspoons)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk together until smooth.  For a slightly thinner (and far more potent) glaize, add a few more splashes of Bailey’s while mixing.

Place the bread on aluminum foil and lightly drizzle the top with honey.  Then pour the glaize over the entire top of the bread.  Finally, drizzle lightly with some Hershey’s syrup.  And I know what you’re thinking – how the fuck does this fit with #FrozenFoodFridays, right?  Here’s how – slice and serve with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream!

And there you have it, kids!  Next time you’re massively depressed and can’t decide between getting shitfaced or pigging out on sweets, remember – EWE says, why the fuck not both?! – EWE

Super Duper Sunday with EWE & Editor

Greets, humans!  It has been a bit, hasn’t it?  (Editor’s Note: Hello, friends.  Apologies for the prolonged absence, as well as for missing the last week’s #FrozenFoodFridays.)  Grr…as you can see, in recompense for being a bit derelict in my #FrozenFoodFridays duties, I have elected to allow a bit more freedom to Editor in this entry, per the suggestion of LightningEllen – who for some reason seems to believe that Editor makes positive contributions here.  (Editor’s Note: Well, I do seem to be a bit more honest about my emotions than you.)  Do…not…push…it.

this-could-be-fun

The past few days have been…exhausting.  On one hand, work is going well.  I found out that a coworker is leaving the office, which does sadden me somewhat, as she was a human that I didn’t constantly abhor, but also presents an opportunity to work more, which I always enjoy as a distraction from the absolute shit show that is my personal “life.”  (Editor’s Note: Now, now, it isn’t all that bad.)  Oh?  I wake up during the night calling a name who, if she knew it were happening, would quite likely murder me.  Horribly.  (Editor’s Note: That isn’t…necessarily true.)  Really?  She wishes I was someone else.  That isn’t a metaphor – she LITERALLY wishes I was a different person.  (Editor’s Note: Be patient – let her get to know you, and she will likely not wish you were anyone else at all.)  ……you do know who you’re talking to, right?  (Editor’s Note: Sigh.  We both know it isn’t in you to give up anyway, particularly in this instance, correct?  So don’t worry so much.  Remember one of our favorite songs?)

Sure, fine, whatever.  Optimistic asshole.

lots-to-offer

On the plus side, I managed to indulge in my enjoyment for cooking and baking, even if I did miss out on #FrozenFoodFridays.  But never fear – I bring you a culinary delight that is even better than a frozen treat.  Behold EWE’s Beastly Beer Bread of Butchery!  (Editor’s Note: It’s just beer bread…tasty, but just beer bread.)

beer-and-cheese-beer-bread
Mmmm…

Ingredients:

  1. 3 cups self-rising flour
  2. 1/4 cup sugar
  3. 12 oz. beer (as a starter recipe, I use Great Lakes Eliot Ness)
  4. 1/2 cup melted butter (that’s one stick)

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar and beer and mix.  Pour mixture into a greased or non-stick loaf pan.  Pour the melted butter over the top of the mixture in the loaf pan.  Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour.  Remove from the oven and let cool at least 15 minutes.

For best results, continue drinking the entire time the bread is baking, and then pull the fresh bread apart and consume immediately after it is finished.  But hey, that’s just me.  (Editor’s Note: It’s actually good even if you haven’t gotten thoroughly drunk waiting for it to bake…)  Yeah, but what’s the fun in that? – 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