Bookish Wednesday: Io Online by Dave Willmarth

This week for Bookish Wednesday I’m covering the first in another LitRPG series. It’s Io Online, Book 01 of The Greystone Chronicles, by Dave Willmarth!

Plot Synopsis: In the latter half of the 21st century, Alexander and his guild mates play Io Online for fun and to earn a living. It’s the largest VRMMORPG on the planet, and the source of income that supports families around the globe. Given the chance to test a new experimental immersion system, the friends must give up their high level characters and begin again at level one….

Plot: The plot is pretty great, in fact it’s one of the better LitRPGs out there. I’m looking forward to listening to the sequel quite a bit. While there are plenty of standard plot devices that occur, they are utilized in such a way that it isn’t grating, at least to me.

Characters: Alex is our main character and PoV for most of the story. He’s a great lead character, and while he’s not the best I’ve ever seen I found myself enjoying his story quite a bit. The rest of the cast is also pretty awesome.

Overall: A good LitRPG and one of the better ones out there. Definitely worth a read if you love games or good Fantasy.

For those who like: LitRPGs, Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Awesome Plot, Fantastic Cast of Characters.

Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above.

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Video Game Tuesday: Graphical Mods

This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m covering a topic that get’s overlooked by most console gamers, myself included. It’s all about Graphical Mods!

PC MASTER RACE!: Yeah, yeah, we’ve all heard that before. It’s an old and tired shtick, and console gamers are pretty sick of it. There are downsides to being a console gamer, but there are also upsides. That being said, that’s a topic for another day. However there is one thing that warrants special mentioning. Graphical Improvement Mods.

Graphical Improvement Mods?: Yeah, so there are of course custom 3D model mods out there for all sorts of games, like Skryim or Grand Theft Auto. However this isn’t what I’m talking about, not exactly. I’m talking about mods that completely improve your entire visual experience of the whole game. Stuff like NaturalVision Remastered. Go check out the video I’ve linked. I’ll be waiting, and it’s definitely worth a view.

Done?: Great, so these sorts of mods are huge projects and I have immense respect and admiration for anyone who does this sort of work. It’s incredibly difficult and you rarely see something of such high quality like NaturalVision Remastered. Honestly the person behind the mod deserves to be hired like immediately into the industry. They are an amazing artist and coder who understands gaming engines and graphics to a degree that I can only wish I had even a tenth of their skill and knowledge. Of particular note is that the original NaturalVision mod aims to be as intensive as the base Grand Theft Auto V game. That’s an incredibly difficult goal, but they did it for the most part.

What goes into such a mod?: Well for a big part of it, it’s all about improving the textures to a much higher resolution and detail. That’s not an easy goal, not at all. You have to literally work on every single texture used in the entire game and improve them. That’s a massive undertaking by itself. However that’s not all, mods like NVR also tweak the physics and lighting systems and those are not any easier to deal with. The fact that the mod is attempting to do all of that and still be only as intensive as the base game is nothing short of a masterwork. Like seriously Rockstar, or any company with a decent reputation, you need to be trying to hire this modder.

That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday. Are there any favorite graphical mods you like and I didn’t mention? Leave a comment below!

Movie Monday: My Cousin Vinny

This week for Movie Monday I’m covering one of the great classics. It’s My Cousin Vinny!

Plot Synopsis: Driving through Alabama in their 1964 Buick Skylark convertible, Billy Gambini and Stan Rothenstein, college students from New York who just got scholarships to UCLA, shop at a convenience store and accidentally shoplift a can of tuna. After they leave, the store clerk is robbed and killed, and Billy and Stan are arrested for the murder. Due to circumstantial evidence and a confession to the shoplifting that is misconstrued as one to the shooting, Billy is charged with murder, and Stan as an accessory. Billy’s mother reminds him there is an attorney in the family: his cousin Vinny. Vincent LaGuardia Gambini travels there, accompanied by his fiancée, Mona Lisa Vito. Although he is willing to take the case, Vinny is a personal injury lawyer from Brooklyn, newly admitted to the bar, and with no trial experience…

Plot: The plot of this movie is great, and actually incredibly accurate in regards to the American judicial system. While not a super successful movie in the box office it’s still earned quite a cult following and is probably one of my favorite non-Mel Brooks films. I won’t spoil the plot, and you should read that article I’ve linked above only after watching the movie if you have yet to do so.

Casting: The entire cast is amazing, including the late Fred Gwynne’s final movie appearance. Personally my favorite is Vinny played by the great Joe Pesci, even if his New Yorker’s accent is highly foreign to my ears, it’s still great. But seriously the entire cast is awesome.

Cinematography: This wasn’t a film for special effects, but nonetheless it still is an awesome movie.

Musical Score: I sadly don’t remember much of it, but what I do remember is it being very appropriate for the film.

Overall: If you’ve never seen My Cousin Vinny, you definitely should watch it. It’s one of the greatest movies of all time and definitely worth the couple hours to watch it.

For those who like: Legal Movies, Comedy, Topical Accuracy, Amazing Plot, Fantastic Casting.

Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above.

 

Anime Sunday: Winners of Winter 2018

This week for Anime Sunday I’m covering my favorites from the last season. It’s my Winners of Winter 2018!

Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family: I really enjoyed this slice of life set in an alternate universe of the Fate/SN series. The fact it focuses on just food and some minor character interaction was refreshing from all the battles that occur in the Fate series. It being animated by ufotable might also have a big part in why this is one of my favorites.  Who am I kidding, it being animated by ufotable has a huge part in it.

Ryuo: I actually enjoyed this series quite a bit. While Sangatsu is a great series about Shogi it is also emotional wearing, so a more light hearted series was appreciated. The fact that Yaichi is a dense harem lead though is fairly disappointing.

Honorable Mentions:

Last Encore: I was pretty skeptical of this series after it diverged so greatly from the original storyline. It was interesting, but honestly it just makes me want to play the original game more. It also didn’t feature Tamamo, who is a much more interesting Servant than Nero in my opinion.

Hitori no Shita: I hated the first season of this show, it was terribly animated and the plot was sub-par. The plot isn’t any better, but the animation is much improved and thus get’s an honorable mention from me.

That’s it for this week’s Anime Sunday.

Serial Saturday: Our Chaoz Chapters 17-26 by SlyOkami

This week for Serial Saturday I’m back with the second set of chapters in Kyle’s adventures. It’s Our Chaoz Chapters 17-26 by SlyOkami!

Plot Synopsis: Having been suddenly told that what he once thought of as a game is now a reality, Kyle and his friends prepare to deal with the fallout and face off against the demons and the demi-goddess that stuck them here in this reality. But along the way Kyle starts remembering things, things he’s been blocked from remembering….

Plot: This is where the story starts to get really, odd. Odd is the best word I can use for this, because I really can’t describe it without spoiling things. So if you are at all curious at what has even me stumped to describe, you probably should read this series.

Characters: We get introduced to quite a few new characters, but our star is still Kyle, for the most part. We get other PoVs and they are quite interesting to read. I can’t say more without spoiling things.

Overall: Definitely worth reading, I’m stumped even describing this story, and that’s a rarity for me.

Retro Game Friday: Seaman

This week for Retro Game Friday I’m back with probably one of the oddest games ever made. It’s Seaman!

Plot Synopsis: During the 1930s, Dr. Jean Paul Gassé was a member of a special team of French biologists sent to Egypt by the French government. During that time, Dr. Gassé was determined to research a creature that was an “omnipotent messenger of gods” among the ruins of the Third Dynasty. In March 1932, in the city of Alexandria, Dr. Gassé met up a local resident, who, while fishing, caught a seaman. Dr. Gassé obtained a sample of some of the seaman eggs, and went back to France with the egg samples in his possession.When Dr. Gassé returned to France, he attempted to raise the eggs, but in the process, the seaman died. Shortly after this, he published a thesis of his work. Leading academics, however, dismissed him and his work as a PR stunt and without proper evidence to support these theories. As the result, the work was ignored, and no one believed him. His hypothesis suggested that the Seaman was responsible for transferring knowledge that increased during the Third Dynasty across oceans and other lands. This theory became the basis for Anthro-Bio Archaeology, which is a highly valued field of study.

Plot: You never get to actually learn all of that in the game, you just kind of get thrust into raising one. Yeah you read that right, this is a pet simulation game like a Tamagotchi. Huh, I probably should cover one of those in a future RGF column. Anyways, yeah the plot’s never explained.

Gameplay: You get to interact with the “Seaman” while raising it through various machinery and voice commands, but if you don’t do it every day he’d die. Sound like a Tamagotchi? Yeah it does to me too.

Art: The art is pretty aged, and frankly fairly disturbing now. Not that it was any less disturbing when it was released, it’s just the polygonal nature makes it even more jarring compared to modern day games.

Music: I don’t remember a whit, sorry.

Overall: Umm, yeah I really can’t say you should play this. If you are really desperate, I suppose it might be a fun game to play, but I can only think of it as an odd Tamagotchi.

For those who like: Oddball Games, Pet Raising, Tamagotchi.

Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above.

TNT: Black Belly Miss Chapters 161-200 by North Night

This week for Translation Necessary Thursday I’m back with the fifth set of chapters in Wu Xie’s adventures. It’s Genius Doctor: Black Belly Miss Chapters 161-200 by North Night!

Plot Synopsis: Having finally started her plan in motion to remove the threat the Emperor of her homeland posed to her family and subordinantes Jun Wu Xie is now dealing with the Emperor, the Second Prince and Bai Yunxian. But the threat of the Qing Yun Clan looms over her head and with it the storm is only starting to coalesce….

Plot: This is a rather fun set of chapters. It’s fast paced and quite a thrill to read, especially for those with quick wits.

Characters: If it wasn’t obvious by now, Wu Xie is truly apathetic to anyone that she doesn’t care about. Not that I dislike that fact, I can empathize with it quite a bit myself. . While Jun Wu Yao isn’t a big part of it, his presence is always entertaining…

Overall: A great set of chapters. If you aren’t reading this series already you ought to be.