Work Music 1/12/2022 - The Deathkillers by The Deathkillers

A six year old girl on vocals with her older brother on all other instrumentation, mostly an out of tune guitar as she yells punk lyrics. She's having the time of her life and I hope she grew up to be in a punk band in college cause she is into it.

Quick Thoughs - The Wheel of Time TV Show Season 1

I'm a big Wheel of Time fan, it was the first big fantasy epic I read and—outside of Dresden Files or if you count all of the Cosmere books as one series—the only fantasy series of its length I've ever read. It has a lot of issues and the latter books by Jordan were not good and lost the plot a bit, he did start bringing it back home before his death and Brandon Sanderson helped finish it out well. Wheel of Time got me into fantasy and so I was excited to hear they were trying to make a TV show of it.

They did... okay. Which is a lot better than I expected. The first episode really should have been two episodes to give me more time to establish the characters and world a bit better. Like episode 1 should have ended with the trolloc attack arriving instead of them leaving town. I think the changes to Mat make sense to make him more sympathetic given whath appens in the first book. I still do not understand the Perrin wife thing, doesn't add much, would be better if it just wasn't there I think. The big change I am very unsure about is the mystery around the dragon reborn's identity. It makes Rand's character very flat in the entire season and the introduction of "the dragon could be a woman" really messes with the world.

I understand trying to undo some of the gender essentialism of the series and I think it's an admirable goal, but it just doesn't really work here. The series does a very job of establishing why men channeling is dangerous and why the dragon is dangerous to begin with. It takes a while to really show that and there needed to be more lay people terrified of the though of men channeling to get across why being the dragon would be so terrible. If they went with some of what happens later in the series with some more trangender characters channeling saidin despite being in a female body I could get it, but we see Egwene and Nynaeve channeling saidar throughout the season and it's still playing them up as potential dragons.

Still, I suppose they needed a throughline and The Eye of the World as a book is mostly setup for the world and the plot is a bit disjointed already, making it tough to adapt. I think the first few episodes are a bit weak, but it gets better and better as it goes on before nosediving towards the end, with the finale just being kind of dull and confusing even for me whose read the books.

Goods

  • The Actors, I love most of the cast, sad they're going to recast Mat next season, but Moiraine and Nynaeve are so perfectly cast.
  • Making Nynaeve and Lan's relationship better. De-aging Lan and actually having them flirt and such in book one will make that relationship flow much better
  • The effects. I was very pleasantly surprised by how the effects looked. They did a good job with the weaves and the trollocs and faceless look pretty good.
  • Loial. I love this character and the actor and effects are good, I always pictured him as a bit more monstrous in appearance though.
  • The Tinkers. I think they handled the tinkers really well and I enjoyed their scenes.
  • The Children of the Light. They did a very good job setting them up as antagonists and I enjoyed The Questioner's actor.
  • Rand's Mom. I liked seeing her fight on the dragon mount, sets up the Aeial spear sisters as the great warriors they're supposed to be.
  • The Seanchan designs. I think the masks is a cool way of just literally having collars and chains on women in the show.
  • Loghaine. I liked the scenes with him and it adds a bit more to his character. I wonder if they'll consolidate him and Mazrim Tain for the show. Would make sense.
  • Padahn Faine. Great actor for this and I enjoy the little hints of him throughout the season, though I think for the TV audience it would have been better to make it more explicit in a middle episode that he's near the characters at various times.

Bads

  • Shadar Logoth changes. I don't love the changes they made here, the lore changes I'm ambivilent on given how much they'll need to streamline anyway, but I think there needed to be more focus on Mat's greed.
  • The finale. Just weak, it feels really quick, arbitrary and uninteresting. I hated Egwene reviving Nynaeve. I didn't like the girls doing the lightning storm to take out the trollocs I get not having Rand be dramatically revealed yet, but again the season gives what little actions and character he can have to other people. He just doesn't get to do much and he needed at least a cool scene before the end.
  • Perrin. I like Perrin in the books but I think they're doing him dirty in the show. The wife thing wasn't great and they don't setup the wolf powers enough in the show.
  • Taverren. They barely explain what this is to the audience in the show. Feel like it needed a bit more focus early on.

Overall, I'm interested in future seasons. Past me would have been mad at changes, but like things have to be different for a TV show and I'm interested in seeing where this goes.

3 ages turning out of 5

Work Music 1/13/22 - FujiGridTV Vol II

Vektroid released a sequel to one of my favorite of her old albums on New Years Eve. First listen I like it, but prefer the original, a bit more noise than I usually care for, but we'll see how I feel on future listens. I was just really excited to see she did this. I need to go through all her patreon release stuff still. Haven't listened to it all since subscribing.

Quick Thoughts - Yakuza 6: The Song of Life

Decided to move my media twitter thread to short media blogposts instead cause sometimes I wanna say more and I feel like it. Going to limit myself to ~250 - ~300 words though.

After 7 years of going through the Yakuza series with my wife, we finally finished Yakuza 6 and thus the Kiryu saga. I went into this one not expecting much because I feel like people had a lot of issues with this one on release, but I really enjoyed it. The focus on fatherhood and families as well as both blood ties and non-blood ties I think was a good note to end Kiryu's story on. I do feel that the choice to end the game on Kiryu's letter to Daigo calling him like a son is a bit unearned given his complete absence from the rest of the plot, but I really enjoyed Kiryu's relationships with the Hiroshima crew.

It is a bit disappointing that we don't get to see hardly any of Daigo, Haruka, Majima or Saejima in the game, because of how the story is structured. The structure of the story in general does fray towards the end as the game feels like it has three endings in a row as they didn't quite weave all of their threads together. Still, I think it was a strong finish and I really loved most of the cast, Beat Takeshi did a great job as Hirose and Nagumo was a great Rikiya 2.0. On to Like a Dragon!

4 out of 5 heat orbs

Rayman (GBC) Review

Developer: Ubisoft Studios SRL
Release Date: 03/29/2000
Platform(s): Gameboy Color

I really do miss the days where different versions of games would come out on different platforms. It added some interesting variety and sometimes you'd get very interesting takes on the same concept. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater for the PS1 is an amazing game, and the Gameboy Advance Tonky Hawk games were a great translation of that style of game to an isometric perspective that worked on the GBA. Now translating a platformer to a portable system doesn't require the same amount of ingenuity, but Rayman for the Gameboy Color is an interesting downport of what is a more visually stunning PS1 game to the small screen.

The most major change from the PS1 Rayman experience is that there are no boss fights except the final one against Mr. Dark. I am not too torn up about this as I always found the HP sponge bosses of Rayman 1 a bit dull to do after a while. Combat in general is deemphasized in this version, which is good as it does feel a bit clunky when it does come up. It felt like I had trouble making punches connect when it looked like it should have, and similarly I felt like there were some general hitbox issues on receiving damage as well. This doesn't come up too much, but it is frustrating when it does. Overall the controls are a bit muddy, but serviceable most of the time. The GBC version really de-emphasizes combat overall to focus more on platforming.

The level design is overally enjoyable and not as difficult as the original game.. You do still have some of the somewhat maddening "walk somewhere to invisibly trigger a change elsewhere" elements that Rayman 1 had, but I didn't get stuck on those too much. Exploration for electoon cages is the main collectible and each level has a different number of them available, indicated in the HUD at the bottom. Once you beat the game, you unlock a world map that lets you go back to the earlier levels to wrap up your collection. Like the original there are several levels based around rising water that I had a bit of trouble with when hanging from ledges was involved, but I didn't get stuck too much in this game. It's a much easier experience overall than the original game its based on, which is nice and in combination with the smaller set of levels and worlds, lets it be a bit of a breezy play through.

I liked the levels that mirrored the original's Band Land, called Airy Tunes in the GBC version. It captures the same feel and look as that level and has some fun new platforming gimmicks original to this game. My only major complaint is that several of the worlds are varaitions on "forest" as the theme and look a bit samey. I would have liked a few more different-looking zones to play in, but what is there is good. The game also has a secret final world once you collect all the electoon cages that serves as a final challenge as well. I played it a bit using a password to get there, because I didn't enjoy the game enough to 100 percent it.

The graphics attempt to capture some of the detail of the PS1 game, but it can make the screen a bit busy. I think it looks good overall, but there were a few times where I wasn't sure what was interactible or just part of the background. Rayman's sprite looks good, as do the enemies and some of the small "cutscenes" between worlds.

I would reccomend giving it a shot for at least a few worlds if you're a Rayman fan or looking for a platformer from the era you haven't tried before. Not the best platformer, but it was a real pleasant surprise to play a Rayman game I didn't know existed.

Rayman Redemption Review

Developer: @Raymanni
Release Date: 06/19/2020
Platform(s): PC

Rayman Redemption is a fangame that remakes and reimagines the original Rayman title created in Game Maker Studio. Redemption is a surprisingly faithful adaptation for a recreation in Game Maker Studio, with the physics feeling very similar to me, only a few thingss around the rings feeling noticeably different to me. While a faithful recreation of the basic physics and gameplay, it's a distinctly different game that reimagines a more modern take on the original Rayman game.

The original Rayman is a difficult game, with the later levels and most of the bosses causing me a lot of heartache as a kid. Redemption smooths a lot of these out. Rayman starts with most of his powers already unlocked, you do not have to unlock the ability to punch or use the helicopter hair anymore. The most dramatic change to his moveset is in the helicopter hair which now works like in the sequels, letting you slow your fall as long as you hold the jump button down. Additionally, you start off with more lives, have more HP, have infinite continues, and level layouts are made easier for the most part. Despite some of these changes to the difficulty, it is still very difficult in the late game and the bosses still continue to be healthsponges.

Redemption isn't exactly a replacement for the original game, it has a lot more differences than just a simple remake and is more of its own game. The original Rayman has about 18 levels, while Redemption has about 30 and the original levels have quite a few changes. The quality of these vary, but I appreciate it expanding on some of the one-off gimmicks from the original. Features like the super helicopter, bean sprouts, and moskito show up more often, and the Candy Chateau is expanded from the single level it was in the original game. I don't care for the dark level gimmicks where you only have rayman's fist providing light for the most part, but other new gimmicks such as the rainbow paint punches that create new platforms feel like they could have been in the original game.

A screenshot of the Toyland level

I do at times wish there were two version of this, one that was a more faithful version of the original with the extra lives and widescreen and one that contained all of this new content. While I do like a lot of the new content — the new world Playtopia looks a bit off in some of the backgrounds, but it does fit in style to the original game — the game can feel a bit unsure of its identity at times. Some decisions, such as removing some of the minor routing choices from the game feel strange, but as a whole I really enjoy Redemption's love for the original game and the series as a whole. There are new collectibles in each level and there are shops you can spend tings in. The shop with its unlockable skins (including the SNES prototype graphics) was a great addition.

If you enjoy the Rayman series, I'd recommend this game whole heartedly. I don't think it's a replacement for the originala or anything, but if you enjoy Rayman 1, this really scratches the itch of more content for Rayman 1. Ryemanni even made a new version of the old PC level editor that includes all of the features of Rayman Redemption and more. All-in-all a really cool fan project that makes me want to play the older Rayman games again.

Work Music - 6/29/2021 - Bleeding Keytar ~ Stevia Sphere

I think this is a really fun one, I like the blend of different styles for this album that still manages to sound cohesive. It's got a bit of a rock vibe on some tracks. I'm looking forward to the rest of this series from Stevia Sphere.

Favorite Track: Surfing on Lava

Work Music - 6/28/2021 - Music for Slime Creatures ~ Stevia Sphere

New job, new energy to update this blog again. First day here and I remembered Stevia Sphere was doing a new project I hadn't caught up on yet and it turned out the first albums came out 2 days ago. I'm a big fan of her work, particularly her pine voc and glaciere stuff. Her new project is The Rainbow series, where she does a series of seven more downtempo albums around a different concept (and presumably color). This is the first one, Music for Slime Creatures, which has a lot of chiptune in it. I'm not amazing at writing about music, one of the reasons I started doing these posts was to try to get better at talking about music, but I've mostly just written a sentence or two.

Still not going to write much about this one, but I will say I like that it has a mix of chiptune and non-chiptune in each track. I feel like I haven't heard much chiptune layered with other stuff where it works well and I think it was done well in this album.

Favorite Track: Synth Gunk