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Archives for : September2015

Episode 10 – The End of the World

This journey has made it to episode 10, in which I discuss top regrets of the terminally ill, having a life plan and a death plan, A home death and some of the things you can legally do yourself for your loved one’s funerary preparations, and one of the more interesting ways you can donate your body to science. Thank you for listening.

Dave the Nerd – Music Review – Tremonti ~ “Cauterize” 2015

If you are a fan of rock music in the past decade you probably know the name Mark Tremonti. Former lead guitarist of Creed, Lead guitarist of Alter Bridge, and now Lead guitarist and vocalist for Tremonti. I asked Mark Tremonti on Twitter (@MarkTremonti) what album he would like me to review. He replied back with “Cauterize”, so since he is a hometown boy I will do so.

“Cauterize” is the sophomore album for the band, but it is to a rodeo that the members of the band are very well versed for. The lead guitar playing is that of if Yngwie Malmsteen and Eddie Van Halen had a musical protege, that is the best way to describe Mark Tremonti’s playing. The vocals are amazing, since by looking at him you wouldn’t think his voice would be so powerful. And with Mark’s good friend Wolfgang Van Halen on bass, it just adds another layer of rock royalty to it. With songs like ‘Radical Change’ starting off the album, it tells you just that. This is a radical change, for the better, from their debut album “All I Was”. But the title track ‘Cauterize’ is a track that will get you up and moving in the morning. I am torn between the songs ‘Tie the Noose’ and ‘Providence’ as my favorite songs on the album. This album has been playing in my truck for the past few weeks. And it is to the point where I will be humming the guitar or vocal lines while I am at work. You know you have a good album when you are making someone, unknowingly, sing, whistle, or hum your music. So for the band that as the time I an writing this is performing in Pontiac Michigan, September 28th, I give the album “Cauterize” a rare 10 out of 10!!! This is an album that everyone should pick up and jam out to on a daily bases!!!

 

Exdeath almost the Death of Me

Finally…it’s over. I have never struggled so much to make it through a Final Fantasy game. Between the simple fact that the characters were BORING as all hell, and the tedious nature of the job system this is a FF game I will leave behind forever.

As I said in my last update on this game, the characters are flat and completely non-engaging. Butz (or Bartz depending on your version) is a COMPLETE moron. Everything is a surprise to him and he just seems to be along for the ride. Never once did I feel like he had truly decided to be involved in this plan to save the world. Even more, a character dies in this game and I felt NOTHING. I never connected to these characters in any way.

The gameplay wasn’t terrible but honestly once you get some of the summons like Odin and the black magic like Flare, the game becomes fairly easy. I found the last third of the game to be much easier than the first two. There is even a battle in which you MUST do nothing in order to win….

The final battle was OK, but I must have hit the RNG lotto because Exdeath (who I had been told was one of the hardest final bosses in the series) used his major attacks only twice and was never able to kill any of my team. Spamming Bahamut, Meteo, Holy, and X-Fight took him down fairly easily.

I never thought I would say this about a FF game, but wow am I glad that is over. Time to get to another one of my favorites, and the one with the best song in the whole series, Final Fantasy VI.

Episode 53

Wow!! This one was a TON of fun to record. Our NEWEST member of the crew joins us for the first time. Michele Joy Gallagher was a DELIGHT to have giggling in the background as we talk through such topics as fandom hating, Disney going to far in their promotion of Star Wars, and how often is too often for a Kickstarter?

Check out this great time and stay nerdy my friends.

Dave the Nerd – Music Review – Fozzy ~ ‘Do You Want to Start a War’ 2014

If you have been a wrestling fan for the past 20 years, you know the name Chris Jericho. Fozzy is the band in which he is the lead singer. This album is their sixth studio release. If you listen to the podcast “Talk is Jericho” you have heard ‘Do You Want to Start a War’, ‘One Crazed Anarchist’, ‘Lights Go Out’, and the ABBA cover ‘SOS’. Each song on this album is Hard Rock to the extreme. Taking your average album and turning it to 11. In a little fun fact Jericho’s entrance music in WCW was called ‘One Crazed Anarchist’ of which he hated. And years later he writes a kick ass song that just so happens to share the same title. Each timeI listen to this album a different song calls out to me as my favorite. At the time of writing this review ‘Died With You’ is the song that is calling to me. I give this album a solid 9.9 out of 10. If you haven’t checked out Fozzy yet, this is a great jumping on point!!!

Episode 9 – Memento Mori

This episode I discuss the concept of subconscious suicide, the difference between a memorial object and Memento Mori, a hospital death, Disney and death denial as well as more alternative burial options. Thank you for listening.

Is JK Rowling becoming the next George Lucas?

OK, so maybe I am just trying for a catchy headline because she really has nothing to do with this directly. However, there is a new reason to buy the Harry Potter novels all over again.

A custom book seller, Juniper Books, has created a new way to experience the Harry Potter book series. They have created custom jackets for the books based on the Hogwarts Houses. The creations are not officially recognized by JKR nor by Scholastic, but they sure are pretty.

HP-G

The Gryffindor covers are of course crimson with gold designs on them. The designs are very bold and intricate with an almost French influence.

HP-S

Slytherin’s covers are less busy than Gryffindor with the silver inlays creating much tighter and cleaner designs on the green cover.

HP-H

Hufflepuff’s has a FREAKING BADGER on it. Do I really need to say anymore?

HP-R

Maybe it is a little selfish, but I saved my personal favorite for last. As a Ravenclaw myself (Pottermore told me so), I absolutely love just how simple and clean the bronze stars on a blue jacket stands out.

All of the books are brand new from the printer and are the collector’s set that came in the “book chest”. They have quite the price tag at $275, but if you have reached the point as so many other Harry Potter fans that your copies are so worn out from re-reading them, this may be the perfect time to replace them with a very special personal version of the books.

Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven – Review

Title: Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven

Platform: Nintendo 3DS, eshop

Publisher: XSEED

Developer: Marvelous

Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven was on my radar since it was first teased for a North American release last winter. At the time I didn’t think anything of how rare and special a NA release would be for this game. What looked like a charming strategy role-playing game (SRPG) with a unique battle system ended up being the swan-song for a once great great development team Neverland. The team recognized for the Rune Factory series went bankrupt and it took Marvelous act of cobbling the remaining development team back together to finish the game. Moments like this put me in awe about what certain game developers in dire straights will do to release a game here, while financially sound companies won’t do half as much.

Lord of Magna is broken up into chapters, thirteen to be except, ranging in length and objectives. The game is also shorter that most modern RPG’s, which considering the amount of time I can play games is trunkated having a smaller game is a good thing. After about 5-6 hours the game starts to open up allowing you to free-play and grind different areas of the world map. This comes in handy when leveling up your characters or experimenting with your roster. This was also another huge help when I only had limited time to play, the story segments could sometimes stretch to over an hour which wasn’t always conducive to my schedule. Having multiple free play areas to fight allowed me to play in shorter bursts. During most chapters there will be an opportunity for an Heart Events with one of the seven sisters (Artemis) . Aside from the battle system this is also one of the more clever details that helps Lord of Magna stand out. These Heart Events help grow the story line and determine the ending of the game determined by which one of the sisters you have spent the most time with. These Heart Events also help each maiden uncover lost memories from their past and the more memories each sister regains the closer your bond becomes with them. This system allows you to equipped multiple and greater skills to the characters you bring into battle. Each maiden has three Heart Events to play and it’s impossible to get them all on your first play-through. This is where the shortened game length and the ability to fast-forward dialogue help because in order to collect every Heart Event and experience every ending you’re going to have to play through the game multiple times.

One of the things I like about Lord of Magna is it doesn’t pile systems on top of systems which is a trop of the SRPG genre. Even though that style of gameplay is common and it has a faithful audience with series like Disgea; the over the top system stacking is one of the things that keeps me from enjoying most SRPGs. Lord of Magna does manages to have in-depth combat without being a complete chore to get into. I never felt like if I put the game down that I would’t be able to easily pick it back up and remember how to play or get the most out of each battle. Even the crafting system is very straight forward allowing two items to be crafted and showing a highlighted list of what recipes will work. But, the really shining gem with Lord of Magna is the battles themselves. The battles take on a top-down map view without the traditional grid allowing you to have a much greater range of movement and freedom. The real enjoyment comes with the bowling or combo affect that happens when you hit the enemies. Lineup your strike and you can send foes flying through the air hitting other enemies racking up your combo. If you can get at least ten hits with one action you get an additional turn. This was by far my favorite part of the game, it felt so gratifying sending a screen full of badies flying with one mighty swing.

The graphics of Lord of Magna are solid, the chibi-styled a characters look great in the battle field and in the charming cutscenes. Their anime rendered counterparts used for the dialogue portions look great as well and there is even some animated clips with some flashy gallery art that also helps the art direction. One downside with the graphics is the 3D isn’t as great which isn’t from the graphics but more or less the games theme. Turning the 3D on with all those little units on the battle field made things difficult to see. I can imaging trying to play an entire battle with the 3D would make for a head ache. Also the voice acting is spars with only certain lines and phrases acted out. This isn’t a terrible thing just a reminder of how limited the resources where to put the final product together. Having the characters blurt out their battle cries over the top of dialogue or random voiced exposition brought me back to the RPGs of the Playstation One and Dreamcast era.

Lord of Magna is, in some parts an, unrefined game but the only major flaw I have is with the sexualizing of the seven sisters. The biggest culprit is the main characters friend Bart who has a suspicious enthusiasm with dressing each sister up in maid costumes. The idea is that the other-worldly Goddess (Artemis) sisters with their limited recourses to make money will work as maids in the hotel to pay off their debt. This doesn’t sound too disturbing on paper and helps set up the background of the main characters history around this unsuccessful family owned hotel you have been tasked to run. But, the idea of ‘dressing’ these ladies up as maids plays too large of a portion of the story and sometimes boarders on creepy. Even though the main character and his long time female friend ridicule Bart for his pervy nature the distraction of fetish dress-up persists. Early in the game there is a mission objective were you must rescue Bart because he’s trapped by monsters while attempting to procure more fabric to make more maid uniforms. Later there is a moment where Bart jumps off a boat in an attempt to swim back home before the party arrives so he can, once again, make more maid outfits. Thankfully the visual objectification of the ladies is relatively low; other than a couple cheesecake cut screens and a bathing screen shot that I’m sure you can find somewhere online. Maybe there is something lost in translation and your supposed to think Bart is a ridiculous character, but the maid outfit scenarios is played out so many times the effect feels less like a gag on the trop the heroes’ man-child companion and more like a thin vail to protect the games sexualization to reward the player. Giving the player the ability to view past cutscenes and images of what are supposed to be God-like beings dressed up as eye candy plays drastically against the anger the main character expressed towards Bart. Thankfully, like I said earlier, the amount of sexualized imagery is low and some of it needs to be sought after but, the frequency may lead some players away from what is otherwise and enjoyable experience.

Recommendation

High: If you are a fan of RPGs and especially SRPGs Lord of Magna will be a great addition to your collect. If you are a new comer to the SRPG genre this is a perfect starting point. Simple to learn systems, fair difficulty, and shorter gameplay experience help to not scare away new comers. The unique battle system is definitely the selling point and along with multiple endings even an SRPG veteran will have plenty to enjoy. If I never start the game up again (I hope I do though) I still had plenty of enjoyment out of my thirty-plus-hour game experience. Plus, there always seems to be a list of hidden gems that comes out after the passing of a console generation and I feel like this would be on such a list. Thankfully it’s on the shop too so it’s always available even if physical stock becomes scarce in the future.

-Travis

Follow me on twitter @bramble_travis and take a look at what games I’m playing or what games I should be playing at backloggery.com/travis1

Dave the Nerd – Music Review – Live ~ ‘Throwing Copper’ 1994

We all remember the first CD we ever bought. For some of us it is a guilty please, for others it is an album we still rock to this very day. While going through my CD collection I found a CD I bought back in 1996, and was one of the first two CDs I ever bought. If I told you the band was named Live, you would probably look at me weird. Yet if I named off one single song from this album you would know them instantly ‘Lighting Crashes’. ‘Throwing Copper’ is actually the sophomore release for the group from York, Pennsylvania. And I was told about this album by my brother and also my cousin. They both old me once you see the album cover you will remember the album forever. And that is true the album art is very interesting. The album itself gave the listening audience five singles ‘Selling the Drama’, ‘I Alone’, ‘Lighting Crashes’, ‘All Over You’, and ‘White Discussion’. This list does not even contain my favorite song on the entire album ‘Shit Towne’. This album was part of the post grunge/alternative rock era. And still to this day on some of the rock stations around the US you will still hear ‘Lighting Crashes’, ‘Selling the Drama’, or ‘I Alone’ in their catalogue that they play. In an interview Ed Kowalczyk, lead singer*, stated “People don’t know us as Live, they know us as the topless band that plays awesome songs.” And it’s true, most people do not know the name of the group, yet they will know the songs. This album is living proof that the music can stand the test of time. I give this album a rockin’ 9.8 out of 10. I think I will be jamming to this tonight!!!

*Ed Kowalczyk is no longer the lead singer of the band Live, since 2009, but still tours and plays their songs since he has primary writers credits on the songs.

Episode 8 – The Crash

In this episode I discuss social security survivors benefits appointment proceedings and the relief and the depression that came after. I also discuss receiving mail in the name of your deceased loved one and options for how to discontinue it, more on organ donation, and the pitfalls of retirement benefits application processes