Category: review

Metroid Dread Review

I’ve been playing Metroid games since the first one came out when I was 8 years old. There’s a whole lot to love about the genre: exploring a new world, gathering power ups as you go, and figuring out boss battles so that you can take them all down one by one. In many ways, Metroid games are a great fusion of puzzles and side scrollers all in one. The worlds are often massive, and you can spend hours and hours exploring as you look for all the secrets.

True, sometimes this also leads to some frustration, as you might miss something and end up spending hours trying to figure out what it was you missed. If you’re not into that sort of thing, then Metroid games might well not be for you. (Or maybe you’ll just want to go through them with a walkthrough close to hand. I’m not here to shame people for playing a game however they want to play it.)

There have been some riffs on the Metroid theme over the years. The Metroid Prime series on the Gamecube was particularly different, since it went more for a 3D immersive world feel, which was also a ton of fun. For the first game on the Switch, however, Metroid has returned to its 2D roots, though in a way that feels fresh and fun.

Metroid Dread follows the tried and true approach when it comes to the set up. Samus is off exploring a new planet. Something happens to her that takes away all her power ups, and she has to spend the rest of the game finding them again, one by one. (You’d think she’d have learned to keep better track of those things by now . . . ). The whole thing is side scrolling, but the graphics are done in a way that every now and then it has more of a 3D feel. The planet feels very lived in, if that makes sense, and getting power ups continually gives you a real feeling of upgrades.

Overall, I’ve loved the game. (Full disclosure: I haven’t beaten it yet, but I’m getting close. The fact that I’m getting close says a lot about what I think of the game.) I’m around 9 hours played on the official time, and I’m sure it’s much more than that, since I keep dying, and it doesn’t keep track of that. I’m hardly an expert player, so I’m sure someone who’s better at all of this than I am would be getting through this much more quickly. That said, I also feel like . . . what’s the rush? I paid for the game. Getting through it faster would feel kind of like watching a movie in fast forward. Might as well enjoy the ride, right?

If you’ve got a Switch and like Metroid games, this is a no brainer. Buy buy buy. If you don’t have a Switch still, and love Metroid games, then this would be a very good reason to get a Switch. If you don’t love Metroid games . . . then why are you reading this review? 🙂 If they’re new to you, give them a shot. This is an easy 9/10 in my book.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this PERFECT PLACE TO DIE Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Media Consumed in 2021

This wasn’t a perfect year for reaching my goals, I’m afraid. Everything fell off the wheels in the fall, and instead of getting to 52 books for the year, I only made it to 45. That said, it’s still 45 books, and being able to keep that up even during a pandemic is something I’m still proud of. As usual, I’m here today to let you know the best (and worst) of what I watched and read. I’ll anonymize the bad books, so as not to point any fingers (out of professional courtesy). Ready?

Best Movies/TV

I watched 129 movies or complete TV seasons, so . . . clearly I had some time to relax somewhere over last year. My average rating was a 7.71, which probably shows that I’m generally easy to please. Most movies get around that, and it has to be significantly good (or bad) to move one way or the other. Here are the films I gave a 10/10 to:

  • Groundhog Day (duh)
  • The History of Future Folk (Hondo! Such a great movie.)
  • The Purple Rose of Cairo (Yes, Woody Allen. I wouldn’t have him babysit my kids, but the guy can make a great film. This is a favorite of mine)
  • Ted Lasso Season 1 (Just fantastic. So positive.)
  • In the Heights (Great music, great movie)
  • The Goes Wrong Show Season 1 (The worst thing about this is that I haven’t found a way to watch season 2 yet)
  • Mare of Easttown (Kate Winslet is phenomenal in this.)
  • Unforgiven (Fantastic modern Western)
  • Back to the Future (I really think it’s one of the best movies out there. Peak 80s, and practically perfect in every way)

Here are the 9.5s:

  • Mississippi Burning (Depressing to see how much of this still feels relevant today)
  • The Matrix (Though as I said, I was surprised to see how much more disturbing the violence was)

And then here are the 9s:

  • Master and Commander (Great stuff)
  • Bowfinger (So quotable, and some really funny scenes. Keep. It. Together.)
  • Ocean’s Eleven (the remake. Super heist film)
  • The Right Stuff (I’m a sucker for space movies)
  • Broadchurch Season 1 (The other seasons weren’t as good, but still a great show.)
  • Gaslight (The movie that spawned a word)
  • The Fugitive (Surprised to see how well this stood up)
  • You’ve Got Mail (Ditto for this)
  • Ted Lasso Season 2 (Not quite Season 1, but what is?)
  • Squid Game Season 1 (When you write pop fiction, you have to know what everyone’s watching. It’s a good show, but brutal.)
  • Great British Baking Show Season 10 (It started out iffy, but became one of my favorite seasons.)
  • Hunt for Red October (Still great)
  • Sleepless in Seattle (It’s a tragedy Hanks and Ryan didn’t make more movies together)
  • Encanto (I loved this, and I think I might love it even more when I watch it again)

How about the worst ones? Here’s what I’ve got that I rated 5 or lower:

  • Bridgerton Season 1 (See my comment about Squid Game. In this case, however, it stunk. 4/10)
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (I will never (ever) do another Harry Potter movie marathon. Most are middling, a few are decent, and then there are some stinker 4/10)
  • Caravan of Courage (Ewoks, old school. Bad, but funny bad at least. 4/10)
  • Dune (the first one. No no no. 5/10)
  • The Tunnel Season 3 (Liked the first two. Hated the third)
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (Yup. Still disliked it. 3/10)

That’s quite a number, isn’t it? How did I do with reading? My average rating for books was a 7.7 (at least I’m consistent). Here are the 10’s:

  • Way of Kings (Still excellent, even the third time through)
  • Boy’s Life (Absolutely phenomenal. Unknown to me, and I loved it)

Just two. Wow. 9.5s?

  • My Best Friend’s Exorcism (Grady Hendrix was a fantastic discovery for me this year. It’s a vein of horror that reads like candy. Love this stuff.)

Man. Just one. How about 9s?

  • Animal Farm (Classic)
  • The Inheritance Games (Daniela brought this one to my attention)
  • Jaws (Impressively good)
  • Oathbringer
  • Dawnshard
  • Rhythm of War (All Brandon, all great)
  • Project Hail Mary (Really liked the latest Andy Weir)
  • Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires (More Hendrix)
  • Salem’s Lot (My first time reading. Love Stephen King as always. And the ending was even decent!)

And that’s it for the best. When it comes to worst I had some 6s and a few 6.5s. Only two books lower than a 5:

  • The third book in a series where I loved the first two entries. They were fast moving, really fun RPG fantasies. So disappointed in the third. 3/10
  • The first book in a sci-fi dystopian series. Thousands of great reviews on Goodreads. I really disliked it. Found it predictable and tiring. Had to slog my way to the finish.

Both books are very well liked on Goodreads. I’m glad there are people with such a wide variety of tastes.

Anyway–that’s it for this year. We’ll see how I handle the year to come. What did you see or read this year that you’d like to recommend (or recommend to avoid)?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this PERFECT PLACE TO DIE Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

TV Review: Schmigadoon

I’m a big fan of musicals of all sorts. I’ve watched them since I was young, and I still enjoy finding new ones today. So when I heard Apple TV+ had Schmigadoon, a miniseries musical riffing on other musicals, I added it to my To Watch list. It’s only 6 episodes long, and each episode is about 25 minutes, so you’re looking at about a 2.5 hour musical. Daniela and I watched it over two evenings.

A couple whose relationship is on the rocks decides to take a camping trip together to try to reignite the flame. It doesn’t go well. They get lost, and they end up in a town called Schmigadoon, peopled with tropes from a wide variety of musicals. And while the people in the town don’t recognize it when they’re doing song and dance numbers, the couple definitely does, so there’s some nice opportunities for some meta jokes along the way. And of course, the couple discovers that they can’t leave Schmigadoon until they’ve found true love.

I . . . enjoyed it? Yes. I enjoyed it. There were many genuinely funny numbers. It’s got Kristen Chenoweth, Martin Short (for all of 2 minutes). Jane Krakowski, Alan Cumming, and stars Keegan Michael-Key and Cecily Strong. It’s created by the same duo who did Despicable Me and The Secret Lives of Pets, strangely enough. Good voices, and it was entertaining to see the ways the show played on musical tropes.

That said, I’m stumped about who, exactly, I should recommend the series to. While many of the songs and content aren’t blatantly crude, they’re certainly dancing around the precipice. It’s almost like the show tries to cater to two different audiences: one that likes adult humor and material, and one that loves classic musicals. For example, there’s a Do-Re-Mi song that’s about the reproductive system of the body. There’s just no way I’m recommending that to most people I know who love Sound of Music. The Venn overlap of the people who would find that entertaining is pretty small, I imagine. There’s a running gag that the mayor of the town is in the closet, with his wife singing a song about how strange he is: “He’s a Queer One, That Man o’ Mine.”

I suppose the show’s really aimed at the Book of Mormon crowd, and thinking of it in that light, perhaps there’s a big audience out there I’m discounting. Personally, one of the things I love about most musicals is being able to share them with my family. MC started out watching this with me. She definitely didn’t finish watching it. Daniela watched it through, and she enjoyed it as well, but . . .

Overall, I gave it a 7/10, and I really have no idea which of my friends would like it. For now, it’s limited to people who like classic musicals, irreverent musicals, and who also subscribe to Apple TV+. I’ve got a pretty big hunch that’s not a lot of you, but please tell me if I’m off.

Anyone else out there already watch it?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this PERFECT PLACE TO DIE Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Wheel of Time TV Series Thoughts

I did not expect to like the Wheel of Time adaptation on Amazon Prime. I think I was gun shy right from the beginning. This is a series that I have been invested in for decades, ever since I first saw Eye of the World in the library and picked it up for two basic reasons: I thought the cover looked cool (a group of travelers in fantasy garb, up against a full moon), and it was very thick. I loved it, and I was hooked for the whole journey, waiting impatiently as the books came out over the years, culminating in them being finished by a good friend.

How in the world would a TV series be able to do them justice? Getting my hopes up seemed like too much to ask, so I just sort of let the series progress in the background, and when it actually was released I went into it expecting disappointment. You can’t be really let down if you’re planning on it, right? Surely the effects would be terrible. The acting would be off. I wouldn’t like it.

Except then I watched it, and instead of disappointment, I was just flat out excited. Excited to see the opening scenes with the Trollocs attacking Two Rivers. Excited to see Shadar Logoth. Excited to meet Thom for the first time. And as all of this unfolded and unfolded well, I got even more excited. I started to think about what might lie in store if this series keeps being successful. Seeing these characters grow. Seeing more of the world. The Stone of Tear? Dumai’s Wells? Yes, please!

Is the show a carbon copy of the source material? No, but I know if it was, then it wouldn’t be successful. Film has different strengths and weaknesses compared to books. To be successful, it has to change. And I’ve really been satisfied with the changes they’ve made so far. The story clips along at a fast pace. The characters are introduced and established, and there’s a driving sense of urgency to the whole thing. The effects aren’t perfect, but they’re very well done.

Honestly, I have few gripes at all. I was initially concerned they might try to Game of Thrones it, throwing in more extreme material than the books had, but other than a random bathing scene with Lan and Moiraine, and more physical romance with the main characters than was present in the book, they haven’t. (And some of that stems just from having the main characters be 4 years older or so when the series starts.) It sticks to its TV-14 rating, and that feels like a good place for it.

I know it hasn’t been universally loved, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s been super so far, and I look forward to more of the same. What have you thought?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this PERFECT PLACE TO DIE Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Ted Lasso: Season Two

NOTE: there are most definitely going to be spoilers in this post, so if you haven’t finished the season yet, you’re better off waiting to read this until after you have.

Okay?

Okay.

Denisa and I finished watching the second season of Ted Lasso last night, and naturally I Have Some Thoughts. I know the season has been somewhat divisive with fans of the first season, particularly Nate’s character arc. I’ve read many complaints that “Nate would never act like that” and “it was just too forced.”

Having seen all of it now, I have to say I definitely come down on the side of thinking it’s all too believable for me. In season one, Nate is a victim of bullying. He’s constantly belittled, and Ted takes him under his wing and frees him from all of that. While it’s nice to think that from there on it would be happily ever after for Nate, it’s not very realistic to think that.

First of all, as a victim of abuse, statistics say there’s a significant chance he’ll become an abuser himself. The show is very open about this early on in the season, showing the way Nate treats the new water boy. When given the chance to be free from abuse, Nate begins to do to other people what was done to him. Is it enjoyable to watch? Well, not if you’re a fan of Nate. But I found the arc believable and compelling.

In addition, it’s right in line with the “power corrupts” adage. I’ve seen multiple instances of this in real life, where people are essentially promoted to a place where they stop being the person I knew and turn into someone who’s . . . different. You really don’t know how someone’s going to respond to newfound authority until they have it.

For Nate, his values change. He begins to be much more concerned about his image and how he’s perceived. In many ways, he seems to be overcorrecting for the self-hatred he feels. (Spitting on himself in the mirror as a way to feel better about himself?) He’s constantly insulted that he isn’t automatically more important in everyone else’s eyes. Roy Kent doesn’t see him as a romantic rival. Ted doesn’t see him as the end-all-be-all of coaching wisdom and mentorship. Waitresses ignore him.

When it comes to his big final speech to Ted, detailing all the ways Nate’s been slighted over the course of the year, you can see why he might feel that way, but I also see how he’s chosen to interpret things the worst way possible time after time after time. When you set people up for these unknown tests (“Will Ted put the picture I gave him up in a place of importance?” “Will everyone listen to my latest coaching plan?”), you set everyone around you up for failure. They just don’t realize how important those seemingly random events are to you. Nate should have gone to Ted or Roy or Coach Beard or anyone and talked. Expressed how he’s feeling. Instead, he bottles it up inside and assumes the worst.

That’s not unrealistic. That’s all too believable for me. And by the time Nate actually shares what he thinks, his feelings are set in cement. He’s already made up his mind, and there’s nothing anyone around him can do to change it.

I can understand why some might not like that arc in a show they viewed as a lighthearted comedy. What’s up with this season suddenly bringing in topics like suicide and abusive relationships and affairs and more? But if you look back in the first season, it was doing that then as well. Ted Lasso isn’t just a comedy, and it’s not just a drama. It blends both, playing the whole emotional keyboard. For me, that makes it more powerful, not less.

I thoroughly enjoyed the second season, and I look forward to seeing where it goes from here.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this PERFECT PLACE TO DIE Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

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