Have You Ever Been To A Video Game Music Concert?

Yesterday, after having recorded my weekly podcast, my friend Francis and I were sitting down, chatting, and browsing the interweb—yes, that word exists!

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On my Facebook feed, Francis noticed an upcoming Ghibli show in Montreal. He screamed in excitement. I stared in confusion. I, for one, had no idea what Ghibli was. So I asked him. And he explained. Simple, right?

Now explain it to us.

My pleasure.

Studio Ghibli is a Japanese animation film studio. The performers in Montreal will be playing scores from Studio Ghibli, heard in movies such as Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke—movies which I have yet to see but have heard of on numerous occasions.

While scrolling through the OVMF website, I saw a concert titled “NES Concert”. This drew my attention right away. I clicked on the link, read the description, and my heart-race increased: there is an NES Concert this October, in Montreal. Scores will be performed from games such as Kirby, Final Fantasy, Super Mario, Metroid, and more.

I asked Francis if he wanted to go, and he said yes. We will be buying our tickets in the coming days hopefully.

I have heard of many people who went to video game concerts in the past, but I have never gone to one. I am very excited for this NES Concert. Being able to hear an orchestra perform hits from classic video games is sure to send shivers down my spine—all the way to my coccyx.

Have you ever been to a video game music concert?

Chant-note: DO not REply; it is MIne, this FAcetious SOng that LAnguishes the TIp of the human DOgma.

Dark Souls 3: The Reason Of My Absence

Why hello there.

I haven’t posted in a while.

We know. We have just been so eager to hear from you.

That swells my heart!

Now now; onto the topic at hand, please.

The culprit behind my inactivity is a video game from one of my all time favorite video game franchises: the Dark Souls franchise. I have been playing Dark Souls since the release of the first one back in 2011.

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In 2016, Dark Souls 3—I just watched the video that I linked you to, and I have goosebumps all over; I adore this game, so much—was released. I bought it the moment it came out—well, I mean, not the moment it came out, but you get the idea—, and purchased the deluxe edition. The deluxe edition included all expansions that were to be released for the game in the future. The previous Dark Souls games had two to three expansions each, and for me this extra purchase was a must.

I played through about half of the game throughout the course of the first few weeks after having purchased it, but then school, work, and personal endeavors took over and Dark Souls 3 was put on the back burner.

However, after having completed my second cycle in osteopathy a few weeks ago and having received my diploma—yay!—, this game that had been calling my name for months and months finally had its prayers fulfilled: it got air time on my TV. And not just a little bit—hence my disappearance of late—but a good 20-30 hours in the past two weeks. I just finished the last boss of the game, and now all that is left are the two expansions—well, I’m almost done one of them already.

So. Much. Fun.

So. Much. Information. But would you mind telling us what Dark Souls is at least? All I can tell is that it does sound dark. And maybe fun?

Dark Souls is considered to be among the hardest and most frustrating video games ever made. It is a game where you can easily be killed by the weakest monsters in the game. It is a game in which you will die—without exaggerating—hundreds, if not thousands, of times before completing the game. Frustration is bound to ensue many times over.

Now that doesn’t sound very appealing. Frustration. More Frustration. And even some more. Where are the words “fun” and “enjoyment”?

You are right. This game is not made for everyone, although that can be said for any game. Dark Souls targets a particular audience. As a matter of fact, a few of my friends have tried it, and all but one quit out of frustration no more than 45 minutes after having started; however, the one who did enjoy it bought an Xbox 360 two days later simply to be able to play Dark Souls, because he enjoyed the experience so much. So to answer your question: the difficulty level of this game is what appeals to me, and to many others out there too. For me, too few games offer an extremely difficult and in-depth challenge to beat, something that I strive for in video games. Dark Souls offers just this.

When you beat a boss in this game—normally after many trials and having learnt through experience from the multiple deaths he has caused you—the satisfaction is immense. You managed to beat the horrible odds, and came out on top due to skill as well as trial and error tactics. And when you beat a boss, you receive his “soul essence”, and you can transfuse it into a special weapon, shield, or item, depending on the soul you acquired.

Two main causes of frustration in the game are the following:

  • All enemies always respawn once you die. All of them except bosses and mini-bosses. That means that if you just spent 42 minutes killing enemies and venturing towards the bosses’ area, and that you die, you must kill all those monsters anew to make it back to the bosses’ area. Also, if you run out of estus flasks—basically potions—you must rest at a bonfire to replenish your health and your estus flask count. However, once again, every time that you rest at a bonfire, all monsters respawn.
  • The experience points mechanism, called “souls”. Any monster you defeat yields souls. Any boss you defeat also yields souls, often many more than a typical foe. Souls are used as currency in the game, as well as for leveling up your character—the Ashen One. The catch is that if you die at any point during the game, all of your unused souls that you are carrying on you are dropped at the location of your death. If you manage to retrieve them, congratulations to you. But if you die again before picking them up, they are lost forever, and are replaced by a new soul drop where you just died. Also, you cannot simply level up at any time in the game, or else it would be too easy to always use up all your souls. You must go to see one specific character in the game to level up, and there is no other way than that. Therefore you must be extremely careful when carrying many souls on you, or else you will get very angry. Grrrr.

Now, imagine the following scenario—true story that occurred during my last two weeks of play—:

You have been killing monsters for about an hour. You stumble across a hoard of monsters—in this game a hoard is anything as little as two monsters, because they can brutally punish you by chipping away at your stamina—and you die. You drop all the souls that you have been collecting for the past hour, enough to level up about four times. You then set out to go retrieve them, but all the monsters have respawned. Easy as 3.14 pie; you decide to play more carefully and defend more frequently just to assure you make it back to your heaping souls crying out in despair on the ground, threatening to leave you if you die again on your journey back to them. And then as you are just nearby the area with your souls that were dropped, you get excited. And so you decide to run across that bridge a little less cautiously than normally. And you accidentally fall off.

Your previous soul drop is now gone.

Those souls are gone.

Forever.

Well, this long briefly summarizes Dark Souls. I am sad to hear that they will not be making a fourth game in this series because the director felt strangled by having to only create the world of Dark Souls. He wants to expand to new horizons and make new games. However, I am very happy that there are three games in this series, with around six to seven expansions throughout the series. I am already planning on playing the first one again sometime soon—probably once I finish doing everything there is to do in Dark Souls 3.

I will write some more posts with regards to Dark Souls in the future, such as explaining the lore, which I also love tremendously.

Dark-note: never leave your soul lying on the ground. You might lose it. Forever.

Board Game Review: Hero Realms

Board game aficionado Jonathan here.

Two weeks ago, I went to the Randolph boutique to use my gift certificate to acquire a new board game. I received this 25$ gift card because I volunteered this past March at the annual Montreal Joue gaming pic3236535.pngfestival, in Montreal.

Really? I would have never guessed that Montreal Joue was in Montreal.

I was contacted in March a few days after Montreal Joue and was told that a 25$ gift certificate was waiting for me at the boutique to thank me for my volunteer work. I already have many games that I haven’t tried, so I didn’t rush out to get something new—to say the least, I didn’t have a clue as to what game I wanted.

I finally decided to go two weeks ago.

I leisurely walked around the store in athleisure, and couldn’t seem to find a game in the 25$ range. I decided to take one last walk around the store, in case a game decided to call me out or something—and one did.

Low and behold: Hero Realms stood before me.

The box was glaring at me from the shelf, calling my name.

I had heard about this game in the past, and I wanted to try it. To my luck, it was priced at 23,99$, which was exactly what I had to spend. So I decided to pick it up—and wow, am I happy I did.

I opened the game a few days after getting it, and played it many times in the first day—wait, can you guess how many times?

Hmmm, 5?

A little more.

Intense much? 10? 11? 100? 9000?

Exactly: 11 times.

What is Hero Realms?

Hero Realms is a 2 to 4 player deck-builder game in which each player has 50 hit points. Your goal is to be the last one with hit points remaining. To eliminate other players, you buy cards to strengthen your deck which will allow you do bigger combos as the game progresses.

Each turn, you draw 5 cards, and you can play them in any order you wish. Your possible actions are mainly:

  • Playing cards from your hand to get various bonuses;
  • Buying new cards using gold;
  • Attacking by adding up all your combat strength.

Once your turn is over, the next player takes his 5 cards, takes his turn, and so forth.

The game ends, as mentioned, when there is only one player left standing.

My Thoughts of Hero Realms

I think I already know the answer to this one.

Yup: I love it.

The game lasts about 15-30 minutes when playing with 2 players, and I enjoy starting off with a crummy deck and trying to build it into something epic. Each game feels different, even though there are only 80 or so different purchasable cards that come with game.

I tried the 4-player variant where each team of 2 players has a total of 75 hit points, and it was also a lot of fun. However, the 3-player variant wasn’t to my liking; I really prefer this game as a symmetrical 1 on 1 or 2 on 2.

Have you ever played Hero Realms? Or any other game 11 times in a day?

Hero-note: I wish I was playing right now, and that I could play 11 times.

My Five Year Testimonial

Straight to the point today.

Go for it.

Here I go.

Go!

I have been a Big Brother with the Big Brothers Big Sisters association for just over 5 years now. I was asked to write a testimonial of this experience. After shedding many tears yesterday while writing, I felt like sharing this with you all.

Here is the result of what will be read tomorrow night at the annual meeting:

Good evening to you all (from a distance, since someone will be reading this in my place),

I started my adventure as a Big Brother just over 5 years ago. Let me take you back to that time, since it is the starting point of a wonderful journey that has allowed me to evolve tremendously.

My mother told me about the Big Brother Big Sister association one day while driving in the car. Just to situate you all, I was 19 at the time, and I have one brother who is four years younger than me. Only a few weeks after hearing about the association from my mom, I was already sitting in front my computer screen, all excited, writing an email to the association to express my interest in becoming a Big Brother.

After a short amount time, my first meeting was setup with Christian, my soon-to-be little brother. I was explained that Christian was a 9 year old boy who liked sports and video games. This was perfect seeing as I am a video game, board game and sport aficionado.

I met Christian and his family with the caseworker on a nice sunny afternoon, and I will admit I was a little shy, and so was he! It was a good thing someone from the association was there to help break the ice (even the sun that day wasn’t enough to melt the ice away!). The meeting went well; we played some frisbee, chatted a little bit, and once finished, we setup our next meeting. We decided we’d play some board games next time. Christian didn’t know much about board games, but he seemed very interested in delving into something new.

During our next meetup, we played board games for a few hours. With this, and the next few meetups, we quickly discovered our activity which we still do every time we see each other until this day: play board games! Within a month or two, Christian became much more comfortable and we started discussing about our lives, video games, his family, my family, and every thing that came to mind!

Fast-forward one year.

I was contacted by the association saying that I had fulfilled my minimum 1 year mandate. My reaction was “Really? It definitely doesn’t feel like a year has already passed!”. They asked if I planned to stop or continue with Christian and the association. I sat there, perplexed. To me, there was only one legitimate answer. Just the thought of not getting to see Christian anymore squeezed my heart. I felt like I now had a second brother, and I could not fathom cutting this deep bond that had been created between him and I. I answered saying I planned on continuing for the years to come. But throughout the following years I was even more surprised with what happened and how I felt: the bond deepened, and we started talking even more, had a few sleepovers where we played a lot of games, and our relationship evolved into something I never even imagined.

The tipping point was the day of our 3rd yearly meetup with the caseworker. Every year, Christian, his family, the caseworker, and myself meetup to keep tabs on how every thing is going. There was one of Christian’s answers during the meetup which touched me profoundly (even now, as I write about this moment, shivers are creeping down my arms and a tear is dripping from my eye).

Each year, Christian was asked “What is it that you enjoy the most of spending time with Jonathan?”. The first two years, his answer was the same. He answered: “I get to play a lot of board games!”. An answer which I was happy to hear, because it reinforced the fact that the activities we were doing were chosen in duality, and that I wasn’t forcing my hobby upon him. But during the 3rd year’s meeting, he gave a different answer. His answer was:

“I just like spending time with Jonathan. I feel like I now have an older brother.”

Such a simple answer, yet it revealed so much to me. A wave of emotions swept over me, and in that instant I realized how grateful I was of having decided to become a Big Brother. It has been one of the decisions that has impacted my life the most in an indescribable way.

To this day, I still see Christian every two to three weeks, and yes, we still always only ever play board games. And we love it!

The 5 years have passed so fast. And just thinking about spending another 5 years with Christian brings a smile to my face.

Foot-note: want to play a board game? I sure do.

What Did You Think Of Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2?

Two weeks ago I went to see Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 with my brother and our Nana.

Aww, how cute. Taking his grandmother to the movies.

We went to the last showing on the Tuesday night: 10:00PM.

Woah. What kind of grandmother is this?Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-Vol-2-Empire-Photo-of-Yondu-and-Rocket-Cropped.jpg

My Nana is the only one in her several story high apartment building who still has all her lights on at 3:00AM. She’s up and about, her fingers pacing over the keyboard liking and commenting on Facebook, feeding and playing with her rabbits or her bird, sometimes just relaxing on the couch watching some Netflix, or even sitting there thinking about her awesome grandchildren—I wonder who they are?

It has become a new tradition of sorts to go to the cinema with her around 10:00PM or 11:00PM on a week night, about once every 3-4 weeks.

A tradition? That is a strong word.

Well, it was only the second time this “tradition” occurred, but the plan is that it keeps happening regularly—sheesh, get off my back, or else I might whistle and impale you with a crimson arrow.

I had enjoyed Guardians Of The Galaxy (Vol. 1) a lot. I saw it in the cinema when it came out in 2014. Like many people, the soundtrack brought back memories and chimed the chords of nostalgia. I simply loved it.

Here are my comments for Vol. 2:

Pros / Positive Points:

  • Once again, the soundtrack got me. The moment I dropped of my Nana at home—might I say it was about 1:00AM, and she was ready and willing to go out for a drink or do something of the sorts—I opened up Spotify and played the Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 soundtrack. I loved every moment of it.
  • The movie made me laugh juste about as much as the first. I love the genre of comedy used, and Chris Pratt does, in my opinion, an amazing job with his lines. Just the way he says his comments makes me laugh.
  • Yondu. Oh wow, Yondu. I love him. I literally think this would be my choice of a special power if I could choose one right now. It is unique, deadly, and too cool! I think I am a Yondu fanboy—ahh, who am I kidding; I am a Yondu fanboy.
  • And last but not least, Rocket Racoon being as sly and devilish as always; he makes ma laugh constantly!

Cons / Negative Points:

  • The introduction made me laugh quite a bit, but I felt it dragged on for too long. I would have enjoyed seeing more of the epic fight with the intergalactic monster instead of Baby Groot dancing. Although his dance moves were stellar—and extremely lucky at dodging literally everything—it was too long for my liking.
  • The story seemed a little dull and  underdeveloped. I found that they were too focused on building the movie around the soundtrack and not enough around a compelling storyline.

Amidst all of this, overall, I enjoyed the movie. I would gladly see it again in a year or two, for some laughs and smiles—and obviously, to see Yondu again.

What did you think of the movie? Did you prefer the first or the second?

Foot-note: Groot. Groot? I am Groot! (Ok now I’ll push the wrong button on the bomb). Grooooooot!

What Is Your Favorite Word?

Yes, yes, I’m one of those people who loves words!

Each day I take a few minutes to read the Word of the Day on the Dictionary website. It is my equivalent to a regular non-word-worm’s—I even allow myself to invent words now—morning coffee; my day seems incomplete without it.

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My caffeine is… words!

Not funny. Please, go on.

I started this daily reading about 2-3 years ago. I remember I was working as a cashier at the liquor store, and I would spend the downtime in between customers reading the previous—weeks and weeks worth—Words of the Day. A few months after having started doing this, the liquor store computer system got revamped and employees were now only allowed to browse the website that was used to search for the products of the store.

I feel like I may have been one of the causes of this provincial-wide software change—I guess I am proud of some sorts if I was, I mean, provoking a provincial-wide change: check off the bucket list!

Moving on to my words.

Here a few of my favorites—that I can recall, because honestly, remembering complex words that I have never heard of before isn’t too easy—from the past years of reading:

1. My favorite is without a doubt apotheosis. It sounds like a godlike term, hence my love for it. I love every thing about it. Every. Single. Thing. Apotheosis is a noun that depicts the “ideal example”. Used in a sentence it looks like this: Apotheosis is the apotheosis of a great word.

Well aren’t you a clever Bee.

2. Another word I love is draconian. Draconian is an adjective that refers to something “unusually severe or cruel”. Here is an example: Deirdre’s draconian methods of ruling leave the citizens in a constant state of panic. I love this word because I find it sounds just as cruel as it’s meaning. Say it a few times out loud with a deep voice and see—first take a quick look around to make sure no one is watching you, for your societal sanity’s sake: Draconian, Draconian, Draconian. Does it not sound mean and dark?

3. The last one I will share with you today is scythe, which I assume will be more known than the latter. I love the flow of letters in the word scythe because I find they flow seamlessly—alright, I will admit, even I find myself a little bit of a word-weirdo here. I also love the pronunciation. I always thought it was pronounced “sahy-the” but it is pronounced “sahyth”. To properly understand the pronunciation go to this link and click on the microphone icon. Scythe is a noun and is the tool that death wields. This tool is more commonly used by mere mortal farmers when cutting grass or grain. In a sentence, it looks like this: Death was confused when he arrived to claim the farmer’s daughter’s life, because she too was wielding a scythe.

Witty example #2. I’m on fire today—and I’m as ninja-esque as cats so I am not getting burned (refer to this post to understand the inside joke).

Congrats Jonathan. Congrats.

What are some words that you love? I’m sure there must be at least a few words that you love because of their meaning, pronunciation, sentimental value, or for some other awesome reason.

Foot-note: wielding a scythe in front of a child is the apotheosis of draconian parenting.

How Do Cats Not Get Burned?

Meet Marley.

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Marley is cat.

No s**t.

He is named after Bob Marley.

Ok, at least that I didn’t know.

But yes, he can definitely be cute at times. Just as he can be a pest many other times.

Marley is my roommate’s cat. He is about 3 years old, slightly chubby—to be honest, he is quite fat, but Marley cannot read between em dashes, so I’m safe—and is the second cat that I’ve grown to like throughout my life.

I am not much of a cat person, and the first cat I enjoyed spending quality time with—we would clutch for minutes on end in an abrazo—was Serena. Serena was the first cat I ever had. She was with me throughout my childhood and passed away sometime in my double-digit-hood.

I have had several others cats since then, but I was never ultra-fond of them—sorry mum, Nala does fall in this category. And before you ask, no, I did not hate them; I simply felt neutral feelings towards them. However, I’ve grown to enjoy Marley’s presence—at times.

He has the tendency to jump on the table and countertops several times a day, if not several times an hour at least. Especially when he is hungry, which he tends to be almost incessantly—did I mention he could lose a few belly pounds? He loves to jump up on the table in the middle of a heated board game and make several pieces go flying helter-skelter. Although sometimes I wonder if he is just trying to make a well thought out strategic move…

You might be wondering “Maybe you should have titled this post ‘Meet Marley: The Cat’, because I have not read anything about burning?”.

Do not fret; heat is on the way!

On average, I cook two to three meals a day. For the vast majority of these I have the utmost faithful companion Marley, aiding in his varying feline ways: picking up my mushrooms and throwing them on the ground, bitting and tearing ravenously a ziploc with fish in it, clawing—ever so carefully, because he does have a gentle soul deep down—at my arm while I cook and then gently grasping it between his two paws to lick my forearm intensely, and the list goes on.

He also loves to jump on the stove—and, let me tell you, he does not care if the stovetop is on or off. Every time I am awestruck: he never jumps on the heated ring. He has a 100% success rate of being a ninja.

In all seriousness, to my knowledge, he has not burned himself in the past 10 months of us living together. Or maybe he is simply an extraterrestrial creature sent from the other side of the galaxy and he is equipped with heat-absorbing paws, among possibly many other clandestine abilities—such as some good adipose tissue storing capacities.

Marley, please tell me if you are. Everything will be much easier that way.

I am always amazed at how he jumps on the correct side of the stovetop and without fail avoids the heated plate. I am always scared when I see he in mid-leap that he will land on it and let out a screech. But, as I said, he nimbly dodges it each time.

Does your cat have a tendency to jump onto the stove? Or do anything else that is dangerous but manages to avoid danger in an almost magical fashion?

Paw-notes: miaow, purrrr, hisssss purrrrrr—also known as onomatopoeais.