Phoenix of the Wolfe: Rise- Preface / Part 1

thinking

A couple of months ago I started toying with the idea of relocating away from Austin.  Wait, that’s a lie.  I’ve wanted to move for something like 3 years now.  But it wasn’t until last year that I started mentally preparing for action rather than just spouting off a bunch of empty words.  I have also decided to chronicle this little adventure, because knowing my own mind, there’s gonna be some comical and no doubt politically incorrect nonsense happening on this journey.  It’ll probably be about 10% censored, and 90% raw, ‘cause , well, let’s face it, raw truth is funnier than trying to make every single person on the planet happy with whatever endeavor one chooses to embark on.  So don’t take anything you read here to heart. But if you do, feel free to Google a basket of puppies and try to forget about whatever it was that got your cereal soggy.  K? OK.

It all started sometime in March 2016.  I moved into a new apartment since my roommate was moving back to her hometown.  Fresh start back into the solo apartment life for me.  Except for the money part, I was cool with that.  Besides, I’m sure my ex roommate was happy not to have the “Clean Kitchen Nazi” constantly getting on her shit about keeping the kitchen clean anyway.  In all fairness, I did give fair warning ahead of time that I like to keep my kitchen spotless and would bitch about it if any roommate didn’t follow suit.  Must have thought I was joking…  Hehe, I got sooo many death looks coupled with the occasional “go f*** yourself!”  Wish I had my camera.  Seriously thought she’d try to kill me in my sleep over it one day.

So I moved in to my new place.  As soon as I walk in on move in day, I swear this was the universe putting shit in motion.  I say this because NONE of the maintenance items –this list was a lot of annoying things, but not deal breakers—I pointed out on my pre-inspection were addressed.  This was even after my 3rd call checking with the office to confirm things were in order a week before I moved in, so they didn’t have to be working around my crap after the fact.  They finally started to address the issues as I was moving my stuff in.

Then there was the issue of the strongest scent of curry forever wafting throughout both hallways and entrances into my damn building. This in itself would have seriously ticked off my nose enough to cancel the lease contract, but the place was the most cost effective one in the area (or so I thought) at the time.  I just partially held my breath every time I’d head into my place to avoid the stench, not to mention the sneezing.  Don’t know why, but too much curry scent makes me sneeze as well.  As much as I’m unbiased about dating a chica because of race, I probably couldn’t date an East Indian babe if she’s into the traditional cooking side of things.  I don’t think the sneezing would work out too well for either of us…

Finally having everything fixed up, the apartment actually was not so bad.  Things were cruising along just peachy until a new neighbor moved in 6 months into my stay there.  And then the real fun started.  “Sliiiiiide, Kachunk!. Sliiiiiide, SLAM!  BAM! Thump thump, kabooom!”  *glass shatter, dog bark*.  Wait 30 minutes and repeat.  Sounded like WWIV, the Dog Demolition Edition down there! This shit was going on for about 3 months straight, so this was about the time I started looking for my damn lease contract to check out the fine print…    After one final SLAM that sent a chunk of something in the crawlspace above me skittering across the ceiling, I finally decided to put that relocation plan in motion…

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Zelda BotW 2

Score = 3/5

Game Type – Action/Adventure, RPG

Platform – Nintendo Wii U, Nintendo Switch

Developer – Nintendo

Publisher– Nintendo

ESRB – Everyone

 

Review by: Kisho Wolfe

Logline: – As the fan boy turns…  A bro love letter to Link.

Hello, my friend.  Hard to believe we’ve been best buds for over thirty years.  Ever since that old man told us ” it’s dangerous out there,” and put that wooden sword in our hands, things have never been the same.

We’ve traveled Hyrule hundreds of times over, in several time zones and dimensions.  Finding rupees in grass, moving statues twice our size, and finding countless treasures in our adventures.  More important than monetary wares, we found the treasure of friendship in our travels.  Gorons, Zoras, and of course the Rito have helped us progress forward to save your world.

Satiating my appetite for our next adventure, I happily revisited some of our most challenging and rewarding moments.  My favorite has always been when we finally obtained the master sword.  We felt like such bad asses after that, didn’t we?

On March the 3rd of this year you opened your eyes and recovered from a fatal blow dealt by Ganon. Thought you were a goner.  But you returned.  You always return.

For in death we are reborn.  A soul never dies.  And a man who fears death, is a soul who didn’t try.

As we run through recent Hyrule, I notice the vibe has shifted.  The scenery is breathtaking.  Ganon’s been out of control and yet there is still magic and wonder to be found.  But as we stand atop Mount Lanayru (It’s damn cold up here) and breathe in the scent of accomplishment after freeing Naydra, I suddenly feel… empty.  Freeing that dragon was not an easy feat, so we should FEEL accomplished, right?  Then why don’t I?

Why don’t I feel anything after successfully conquering my eighteenth shrine?  Why don’t I feel like pressing forward after unlocking a memory we’ve shared with Zelda from the past?  Why does our princesses’s exaggerated Australian / Irish sounding accent annoy the crap out of me? I love Aussies! Why am I so frustrated about the ridiculous amount of inventory micromanagement the game forces onto us with these weapons breaking EVERY, DAMN, FIGHT!? How can your guardians miss the elementary fact that game-play is significantly diminished if the menu has to be re-opened every ten seconds?  Especially in the MIDDLE of the fight.

This game was obviously meant for the Wii U, yet they opted to disable the much needed menu purposes built in for the Wii U gamepad.  (see in game Sheikah Slate for uncanny resemblance)  Map and inventory would have been perfect here as it was originally designed.  Nintendo’s reason for removing it was flat out B.S. and I believe they removed it because they didn’t want the Wii U to have any game-play advantage over the new Switch.  I see what you did there Nintendo.  I see it.  Gotta boost those sales for that new console, don’t cha?

And this dungeon situation…  Breaks my heart, Link.  Where are they?  We’ve ran around for fifteen hours and all we’ve found are these stupid shrines.  Rumor has it, there are about four true dungeons in the entire game.  But I won’t be with you when you find them, my brother in arms.  I realize the side quests were my decision, but that only helped me to formulate a stronger foundation about our newest adventure.  I think I’ve sipped my last glass of Lon Lon milk and the bar is closing.

Kind of bitter sweet that my first taste of RPG action started with you in the 8-bit era, and now is quite possibly closing the book on my Nintendo life in the HD era.  We had a good run, didn’t we?  You were the shining beacon of gaming that kept me glued to the digital world since I first picked up the controller.  This time around, had this not been about you and the princess, I believe this adventure would not have survived past the fifth hour.  The whole time spent traveling with you, all I could think about was Aloy and those robo-dinosaurs.  My heart’s just not in this one, buddy.

I know.  I know.  Zelda still needs us.  But she’s a strong princess.  Plus I know you’ll get to her in time and finish off Ganon as usual. *bro-hug*  You’ve never really needed me to get the job done.  But I’ve always relied on you to make it through this human world of mine. But it seems time.  I’ve cancelled my Nintendo identifications, sold off my systems and all of my games.  Even Bayonetta.  We must part ways for now.  I’m not sure what the future holds for either of us, but you’ll always be in my thoughts.

In death there is life.  Answers are not always born in light.

From the past, I’ll reminisce of you.  To let go is to begin anew.

Farewell, Link.  My digital brother.  I’ll miss you.

-Kisho

(seriously teared up a bit after writing this.  *ahem*  Fight on Link!  1-luv)

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life

gilmore-girls

 

Score = 3 /5

(Comedy/Drama) Rated- TV-14

Review by: Kisho Wolfe

Logline: Gilmore Girls, ten years later

It’s been about ten years since we’ve last experienced Gilmore shenanigans and the world is excited to see what they have been up to.  The series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino has definitely birthed a monster of a series with these crazy characters and I for one have thoroughly enjoyed watching the original series. (Most seasons anyway.  We won’t talk about that last season and a half before it ended and the series desperately missed Mrs. Palladino’s stamp…)

In the revival we have four episodes and each episode is broken down into seasons.  We catch up with Rory (Alexis Bledel) Gilmore’s exciting journalist lifestyle as she’s living a whirlwind existence bouncing through different countries and homes while doing her career thing in the Winter episode.  She seems like she has it all together in the early half of Winter, but the reality of the situation becomes evident towards the end when the wavering shows through.  We also catch up with Lorelai (Lauren Graham) Gilmore and her now live in boyfriend Luke (Scott Patterson) Danes.  Anyone who has followed the original series will know this is a monumental accomplishment for our momma Gilmore as she tends to run like the wind when things get too serious.

Ever since the first season of the Gilmore Girls series, I’ve been hooked on Amy’s writing style.  It’s fast, it’s witty, but also has purpose.  I think she does an amazing job of setting up the pegs in the early parts of an episode she’s writing and then successfully knocks them down in the later parts.  It’s just one of those things that very few manage to do consistently, but she’s absolutely one of them! Her husband/partner in crime Daniel Palladino unfortunately does not share this same skill set.  After catching up with the girls in the Winter episode of the revival, we eagerly  anticipate the comedy and progress of the Spring episode to see what’s going to happen next.  While the progress of the story comes through here, the laughs are far and few between.  The writing style between these two partners is definitely apples to oranges.  Amy’s style is more laugh out loud comedy and I love her for that.  Daniel’s style is more of the martini dry I-see-what-you-did-there type of comedy.  While that style has its place, it’s just never quite seemed to fit within the originals or this revival. The feel good time typically experienced when watching the show is simply just not there during the episodes of Daniel’s writing.

Halfway through Spring I found my mind wandering and started checking emails as the show droned on.  I did perk up anytime one of the more dynamic characters like Paris (Liza Weil) came back into play.  This woman has not missed a beat in the last ten years and snipes ALL of her lines perfectly each time she is on the screen.  It’s a beautiful thing!  The same can be said for Alexis as well.  Lauren, however seems to just either not be feeling it for the first three episodes of the revival, or is maybe just mad tired for the majority of it and doesn’t really get going until the last episode.

gilmore-girls-revival

Luke and Lorelai

Is this performance decline a residual from her other long running series where she pretty much is tasked to cry almost every time she’s on the screen?  Has the genuine happiness been pushed so far back from the melodrama acting elsewhere that she is unable to recall it on command now like the tears?  I don’t know.  But it certainly shows here.  She used to outshine almost EVERYONE in the cast with her verbal and facial expression chops and it’s sad to see that energy absent in her recent performance. I still have love for her though. I just hope that resolves itself if they decide to keep going with more episodes because it did look like the light started to shine a bit in the Fall episode.

While watching the Summer episode, there’s even a 30 minute musical…scratch that, it was actually only about ten minutes (I literally just went back and had to scrub for the timing) but it felt longer.  Had to fast forward through it when I was watching it, as it seriously annoyed the crap out of me and my short attention span.  Call me crazy, but spending that big of a chunk of precious screen time on something that has absolutely nothing to do with the main character’s progress/story is a waste.  Fluff or filler as they say.  They would have been better off shortening the episode instead.  The main characters nor support characters are even performing in the damn thing and had me failing to see the point of it.

By the last episode, (Fall) I was elated to see Amy’s name back up there for Writer/Director. The entertainment was back on track as well as the timing.  The short cameos with Rory’s past love life and even her father admitting defeat at losing Lorelai to a marriage with Luke tied everything together for the final episode.  The enjoyment factor throughout the 4 seasons was about 50% for this fan.

gilmore-support

Paris, Lane, Michel

That number could have definitely been boosted with the writing and better support appearances in the Spring and Summer episodes.  I would have loved to see more screen time with Lane(Keiko Agena) and maybe how she interacts with her mother in regards to her marriage with Zach and the kids.  I just feel like there were higher entertainment values that could have been exercised in the middle two episodes to support the lives of our main two protagonists in addition to the evolution of our beloved support characters then saaaay a pointless musical.  The trite running gags that refused to end needed to be taken out back and put down after the first couple runs as well.  Found myself squinching my own face when certain bits ran on too long. (poolside anyone…)  And for the record, I DO enjoy the occasional musical…when it’s good.(I’ll just leave this here for proof- Shen Yun)

Overall, I gave Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life a rating of 3 out of 5 stars. After ten years, it’s only expected that everyone has moved on to other things in their life and might not have the same performance spark as they did back then.  Understandable.  I’ve watched all 4 episodes and noticed the difference in not only the writing between the episodes, but also the acting in response to the writing.  I honestly believe with the right mind behind the pen, there is definitely potential in going another few rounds with the Gilmore Girls.  I am a tad curious to find out what becomes of Rory and the bomb she dropped at the end of the revival.  Although without properly fleshing out the support characters along with our main two, I do believe things will get pretty dull and deem it not worth the efforts.

Love is a Unicorn

Love is a unicorn

Lust at first sight is common, but love is a unicorn.

Hasn’t happened to me yet, in all my years of being born.

Quite content running solo.  At times, even close my mind to the possibility when they walk by.

Grown tired of shallow waters and train of thoughts that run dry.

Didn’t see you at first. I almost bumped into you.

Then you moved a little to the left.  “Oh, that reflection is new.”

“Who is that!?” I wonder.  And almost miss the beat.

“Stop staring, Mr. Wolfe.  And by the way, “MOVE YOUR FEET!”

She can’t catch the sequence. “Coordination’s a little rough.”

But I’m finding it endearing.  “No no, this is NOT love.”

Caught me looking and she smiles.  “My gods what a sight.”

One of those smiles you work hard to see… day, or night.

Pressure’s on now, my boy.  Can’t let her slip past.

Let’s build on that spark, or later you’ll kick your own ass!

I break the ice and she speaks, the short vibe is kinda nice.

Eyes sparkle as her lips move.  Somehow this feels just right.

Exotic name, fit frame.  Her hands, soft to the touch.

Should probably tone my brain down a notch, ’cause I’m analyzing too much.

Thoughts fly to a distant future of things that just might be.

Thoughts that never cross my mind, about things I don’t foresee.

Maybe this is a sign.  A glimpse of something new.

Never mind, false alarm.  She just kissed her boo…

Today I Exploded an Egg

egg header-1

 

Today I exploded an egg.

     Today I exploded an egg.

My first encounter.

     Yellow lumps, on the counter.

Today I exploded an egg.

     That’s right, you heard, what I said.

Shots rang out.

     I dove behind the couch.

          My toe screamed “OUCH!”

               Shooting pains won the bout.

                    No guns in the house.

                         Much louder, than a mouse.

Oh microwave, microwave, please, no I beg.

     Today I exploded an egg.

 

Zelda Symphony of the Goddesses (2016)

The_Legend_of_Zelda_Symphony_of_the_Goddesses_logo

Score = 3/5

(Live Orchestra/ Digital Arts/ G – **if there was a rating)

 

Review by: Kisho Wolfe

 Logline:  30 years of memories, resurfaced in 2 hours.

**may contain spoilers**

It’s hard to believe this series has been around for so long.  I still remember the first time I cracked open the box on the first Legend of Zelda game for the original NES and my eyes popped open to twice their size at that sweet golden cartridge inside.  Well, it was still plastic, but the coating was a spitting image of a shiny piece of gold.  And that game was on point the second you hit the power button and that opening theme song started playing.  Oooh man.  I was still a young’n at the time, but something about that start screen music told you this was about to be epic.  And it did NOT disappoint.

Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses is a unique orchestra experience.  As with any orchestra, the goal is to take your ears on an exciting journey.

master sword  link to past

A Link to the Past

This show strives to do more with our time spent in the theater by projecting gaming moments that span across the majority of the series up on a large screen in the center of the orchestra.  Remember when the old man gave you that wooden sword in the first game and told you it was ‘dangerous to go alone?’ Or how about when you first removed the Master Sword from the stone in a Link to the Past?

 

A handful of Zelda games were on display, each with their own orchestrated segment.  I particularly loved how they designed the music to flow along with the on-screen action. Most pieces started off with the over-world theme and hardcore Zelda fans knew exactly which game in the series we were about to be treated to within the first few notes.  The music blended quite nicely as they took us through key parts of each game by bringing the sound low at times to capture mood changes only to pick the energy back up when facing a boss or two on the screen until it’s climax.

There were also some standout moments in the second half of the show when the conductor put down her standard baton and reached over for one with a bit more… style to it.

twilight princess horse

Twilight Princess

One of my favorite moments was during the Twilight Princess set.  Maybe it was that theme song, or maybe the crisp hits on those harp strings, but man, they had my neck groovin’ during that piece.

Over the years many gamers have come to not only appreciate, but look forward to the music in games today.  Many of us are even audiophiles that associate sounds with a particular location in the gaming world in addition to the place they were when they were playing, clothes they were wearing at the time,  or even the brown wooden chair with the ugly pastel-green seat cushion we were sitting in when we first heard a particular sound from the game.  Pretty astounding really.

The music in the Zelda series has always been a wonderful addition to a solid gaming series over the years, but grew into it’s own persona when the Ocarina of Time released. All of those different songs deliberately used to do different things in the game seemed to have created a gift and a curse situation for Nintendo after that master piece of a game. They’ve tried to emulate the music as a character for the game for many of the iterations after it.  Majora’s mask worked to an extent, but some of the others after it felt a bit rehashed in terms of creativity music wise and game-play wise.  Hopefully with the new release coming in 2017, they’ll change the game again with more creativity in the music in addition to the Zelda formula.

I gave this show a 3 out of 5 for a couple of reasons.  While I do love the trip down memory lane, I also would have welcomed a bit more in the atmospheric tone happening throughout the show.  There were maybe about 2 or 3 sets where they captured that essence of mood building and impacting sounds while matching up with the screen action, but I feel they could have done more in this sense to really take the mind through reliving more moments.  For the most part, the over-world themes of each game with varying main music pieces were played.

Skyward sword

Skyward Sword

Sure the show is only 2 hours, but in that two hours, I think we could have switched up each piece to showcase maybe more subtle points in the games, rather than the same rinse and repeat formula.  This also could have been carried over into the screen action as well to match up with the different moods of the games. They definitely capitalized on things such as Wind Waker’s pirate themes and Twilight Princess’s darker vibes, and I believe this should have been captured across the entire spectrum of games on display during the show.

Overall the show was enjoyable.  I’d definitely recommend it if you are a Zelda fan.  And if you do attend, don’t make the mistake of leaving after the lights go out and the conductor walks off the stage the first time. *hint-hint*

 

Overwatch (2016)

overwatch group

Score = 3/5

Game Type – Action, online first person shooter

Platform – PS4, Xbox One, PC

Developer – Blizzard Entertainment

Publisher– Blizzard Entertainment

ESRB – Teen

 

Review by: Kisho Wolfe

Logline: – BLAM! BLAM! SLICE!, Ultimate, Give me my loot box!

Welcome to Overwatch.  The much anticipated online only multiplayer shooter from Blizzard Entertainment.  You may recognize the name from the long running World of Warcraft and  Starcraft series.  If you’ve played either of these games, then you know Blizzard does good work.  I’ve personally lost about a month of my life being engulfed in WoW when a school mate of mine put me onto it.  Had to force myself to go cold turkey and kill the game, or else, I might not have graduated.  It was addictive.  So if you’re like me, you have high expectations for this new app.  Overwatch has been in development for years, so the anticipation levels of everyone that has been following the makings of this game probably can’t be fathomed by those not in the know.  But as I spent hours with what I knew was going to be something epic, my excitement started to dwindle.

The good… scratch that, the GREAT part about Overwatch is the obvious part;  The characters.  Holy Winston, Widowmaker, and D.Va, my friend!!  There is a wonderfully diverse group of personalities here for the choosing.  Twenty one different characters and all of them possess a unique look and play style.  If you are going to be good at this game, you’ll want to master at least about four or five of them.  If not, you’ll be rage quitting in no time, as this game is about countering that one character that keeps handing you your ass because you’re too stubborn to switch out your favorite character for one that counters them back.  About  thirty minutes into the game will put a stamp on the fact that Blizzard spent a huge chunk of their time on this aspect alone.  Unfortunately, this is a double-bladed sword.

It seems that so much time was invested in these wonderful characters, that the rest of the game feels a tad like an afterthought.  The subtle hints at background information on each hero leaves me wanting so much more from these characters in game, but in the voice of Robin Leach… I can’t have it.  I’m forced to scour the web for lore if I really want it, which means, turning off the game to do so.  I’m sure Blizzard will bank on these heroes in the branding world, but it seriously does nothing for the game by not including any story info inside of the game.   No campaign, no power ups, no game-affecting  upgrades to the actual game-play what-so-ever.  It feels like Blizzard decided to put so much emphasis on the characters that our progression and rewards should be sated by voice lines, intro switch-ups, skins and sprays…SPRAYS! As in, to tag a wall.  I understand they wanted to keep everything cosmetic, but give me something that alters the actual play time.  Sure, the game-play is solid for the most part, so I suppose it can be forgiven… to an extent.  This just brings me to the most frustrating part about this game.

The randomly generated loot boxes!!  This is how you get all of the shiny new cosmetic items in the game.  And to get the loot boxes, you’ll need to either pay for them with real money via the convenient payment option of the respective system format you are playing on, or spend hours leveling up your player level to earn a good ol’ box of randomness upon leveling up.  You can see all of the wonderful wares and their in game coin costs as well.  Most games give you actions or paths you can take to earn items in addition to purchasing them with in game coin, so this game will probably be the same, right??  Wrong.  The only way to get anything is from, you guessed it, a loot box. Get a duplicate loot item?  Great!  Here’s a measly five coins to use toward whatever you want.  Will your loot boxes give you enough flat out coins to buy that 1000 credit Winston Rage smalllegendary skin you’ve got your eye on?…eventually.  But not every box contains coins and not every box contains duplicates.  Each character has fifty five items to unlock, so in essence, you could be spending hundreds of hours trying to get the stuff you actually want, versus the crap you do get.  Many will contain items for characters you may not even use much, in which case, you’re still plugging away at the game, eagerly awaiting that next loot box hoping for a large coin drop so you can just buy one of the items you DO want. You want that super fabulous Smurfette  blue deluxe skin(not in the game)for Mei?  Nope, but you can have this nice dookie brown pirate skin(also not in the game) for Junk Rat!  So what if you’ve never used that character a day in your life.  Deal with it!  The number generator does not care.  You get what you get.  Reminds me of the early days of Destiny when they were dropping random items for all three guardian classes and we went into a loud rage about getting crap we couldn’t use with the class of our avatar, until they wised up and corrected that little mishap.  Maybe if enough people blow up the chat boards it’ll be rectified here as well…maybe.

The maps look good.  Nice sight lines and choke points.  The way the game plays, I think the maps would benefit from more architect hazards rather than just falling off the side.  Something like cog wheels, or background pieces lining up with the theme of each map that’ll get you if you camp too long in a spot (I’m looking at you, Bastion lovers).  Hopefully more maps are on the way, that can capitalize on this.

There’s two main game modes.  Payload and Control.  There’s combination variations of these, but they are pretty much it.  Being a multiplayer only game, you’d think more game modes would accompany it.  Maybe as a console gamer, I’m asking too much from a mostly PC game developer.  I don’t know.  How about give the payload itself some defenses, or even a health bar?  Where’s the Deathmatch?  Where’s the Capture the Flag, or a dozen other game modes that would set this game off.  Overwatch in a straight up Deathmatch would be chaotically amazing, and given the choice, I’d probably spend most of my time in that game mode.  And no, you have no choice in game modes.  That’s also in an RNG format unless you’re connecting with a closed set of friends in a custom match set up.  *sigh*

Overwatch, albeit supremely gorgeous as a sunrise, turned out to be equal parts great, as it is frustrating.  The characters along with the fast and frantic game-play is amazing.  The first time you suit up with D.Va in her cotton candy colored mech, you’ll quickly forget the fact that it looks like you’re riding around in a pink bubble.

DVa small

D.Va

Once the ultimate charges in whichever character you are controlling at the moment, you will bask in in the satisfaction of wiping out half of the opposing team in one shot.  Unfortunately continuous disappointments  in loot drops,  in addition to the absence of having a way to tailor your loot progression is highly frustrating.  The minimal amount of multiplayer modes, and lack of choice of which you want to spend your time in, is also something that carries the game into a sludge of staleness after one to two hours of consecutive game playing.  This simply succeeds in compounding the frustrating RNG system as a whole. Kind of makes you question your life choices when you’ve just wasted an hour for a useless loot box that contains none of the items you’d hoped it had.  The $60 price point for console gamers is more salt in the wound.  PC gamers get it for $40, which seems a fair price considering the game has about as much depth as the kiddie pool.  Better player control over mode selections could soften the blow of the loot situation, since we’d be selecting the game modes preferred rather than the ones we are forced to play like good little children.

Overwatch has an absurd amount of potential that it’s just not tapping into, and I only hope Blizzard doesn’t see this as a finished game, but builds upon it to make it as epic as it should be.