I didn’t choose the Fantasy Life; the Fantasy Life chose me.

Fantasy Life logo

Fantasy Life is the latest role-playing game (PRG) from Level-5 for the Nintendo 3DS. I noticed, while trying to come up with stuff to say for this post, that I have a lot of brand loyalty when it comes to game developers. The name Fantasy Life didn’t mean much to me, but one look at the Level-5-esque characters had me intrigued. It’s not that the characters are exceptionally drawn or anything, it’s just that they have that distinctive style that evokes Professor Layton and Ni No Kuni, both of which I love.

Fantasy Life Witch
How can you say “no” to those beady little eyes?

 

Anyway, I bought this game on a whim, or perhaps it was a double-whim. First, I thought I had pre-ordered it on Amazon, but this past Monday, I realized that the release day had come and gone, which meant that I hadn’t ordered it after all. I immediately ordered my copy.

The short story: this game has everything I like about MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online RPGs), but without the MMO part, if that makes any sense. You have the option of calling your Nintendo DS friends over to play with you, but it’s not required in any way (that I know of). However, it does note which of your friends has the game and integrates them into your game. For example, it placed the house of one of my friends, complete with his interior décor, next door to mine. (I was confused – one of my DS buddies has a similar name to one of the NPCs. It’s the NPC’s house that’s next door to mine. Steele vs. Stele, it’s an easy mistake to make, right?)

This game has one major thing that most single-player PRGs does not: crafting! Along with the standard combat classes (known in this game as “lives”) such as paladin, mercenary, hunter, and wizard, you can also choose a gathering “life,” such as a miner, or a crafting one, such as blacksmith.

I started out as an alchemist, a crafter of potions and charms, and boy did my character need them! Alchemists can use daggers in battle, but aren’t very good at defense, so those potions come in handy. However, you can change your “life” often, and without penalty, so long as you’re not in the middle of a main story quest. This means that you can mine, chop wood, gather herbs, fish, and fight in the same area, without having to run back and forth to switch lives! Admittedly, it took me about eight in-game hours to realize that, so I did have some back-and-forth to do, but now I know, and now you know, too!

Now you know, and knowing is half the battle
Courtesy of G.I. Joe (and thethingswesay.com)

 

I don’t think I’m anywhere near finished with the story yet (I just unlocked the third city), and it’s obvious that Butterfly is hiding something, but this game will have me wasting many an hour trying to become a god in all lives.

Bravely Default: (where the) (f)airy (f)lies
Thanks to Airy, I still have trust issues with winged guides.

 

If only it were as easy to master skills in real life. Oh, well. Those fish aren’t going to catch themselves, so I’ll catch you later!

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We can’t stop here, this is Bear Country!

Berenstain Bears
The Berenstain Bears

The Things We Do for Family

A few weeks ago, my sister-in-law invited us to see The Berenstain Bears Live. Seeing it as a great opportunity for my son and nephew to spend some time together doing something fun, I agreed. The day of, I was super-tired, and didn’t feel like going. Kevin had to prepare for his impending business trip, and so backed out. My brother and sister-in-law had both been battling bugs for the past week.

But I put on my big-girl panties, decided that for the sake of the kiddos, we needed to do this Family Thing. Why else did we uproot ourselves from New York to become Beantown “interlopahs,” if not for the kids to grow up together?

We drove ourselves, in two cars, mind you, over to the Theatre District and found our seats for the show.

What The Heck Are They Singing?

The show itself, meh. The acoustics stank. I couldn’t understand half of what was being said or sung, so I focused on how the actors moonlighted as stagehands and let the minimal props work for multiple situations.

Fat-Shaming Mama

That being said, I have big issues with the part that focused on The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food. The message is an important one: we all should cut down on junk food and make healthier choices. However, Mama Bear goes into a musical diatribe about how Papa, Brother, and Sister Bear are putting on “too much fluff on their tummies,” and they’re going to rip their pants. Of course, this is then demonstrated by Papa Bear ripping his overalls and exposing his polka-dot underwear, to much comedic effect.

(Oooh, look! A tie-in from the show’s Facebook page touting “healthy” recipes!)

Even though the show moves on to other topics, such as Brother’s grades, and Sister’s newfound fear of strangers, they then return, after their bows, to teach the “Fluff on Your Tummy” song, and related hand movements, to the audience. It begins with pointing out toward other people, then touching your belly, and laughing.

Yes, yes, jolly good. You, are getting so fat that you might ruin your too-tight clothes. Ha ha ha!

I don’t think I can quite convey the ridiculousness of it all. I wish there were YouTube videos of this, but photography was prohibited.

Eating Disorder 101

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that Papa, due to Mama’s new rule against junk food, finds his secret stash of chocolates, an amount he proclaims should last him “for days,” and practically inhales them. He then has to find a way to get rid of the wrappers without anyone finding out, in order to avoid the wrath of Mama’s judgement.

Is this really the lesson we need to be teaching young children?

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Sisterhood of the Irrational Bossypants

Pants
Image by Toni Holmes (https://www.flickr.com/photos/tonibduguid/)

 

A trans woman posted the following in a forum:

So, I was curious to find out how long my normal assertiveness at work would start to be read differently. The answer is: ~4 months. Apparently, I’m “overly emotional and irrational” now. I look forward to hearing that I’m “bossy” next

My response: “Welcome to the Sisterhood of the Irrational Bossypants.”

It’s a new way to look at the concept of male assertiveness turning into female bitchiness. One way to experiment with the concept is to give people written instructions that are identical except for the author’s name, and gauge their opinions on the person based on what they read.

But this,this, is interesting. Same person, different perceived gender, and therefore different response. I wish there was some way we could turn this into a randomized controlled study.

 

BTW, “Sisterhood of the Irrational Bossypants” is my Pussy Riot cover band, as well as my crossover fanfic. I hope that Tina Fey will play a starring role once I sell the movie rights.

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Holy Sugar, It’s Candy Corn Season!

With a blog named Sugar Palace, I figure I should talk about candy. It’s been autumn (in the Northern Hemisphere) for a few days now, so candy corn is ubiquitous. I first noticed it at Stop & Shop in late July.

Stop and Shop had Halloween candy in July
Stop & Shop Halloween candy display. Photo taken by Dee on July 27, 2014.

Now, I’m a self-confessed sugar addict. My blog is named after a fictional doughnut shop named in a Dar Williams song (“Party Generation”). In my mind, the four seasons are Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, and Christmas. I get cranky when there’s too much blood in my glucose stream. TL;DR version: I f*cking love Halloween candy. However, that being said, even I have standards.

There has been a disturbing trend over the past couple of years of candy companies making different varieties of candy corn. First, there was the awkwardly-named Indian Corn. Then came the pumpkins, followed by the all-star combo known as the Harvest Mix. All of these are pretty yummy, if you’re in the mood for candy corn.

However. Last year, I noticed Candy Corn M&Ms, and Starburst Candy corn. They were a bit odd. I could tolerate the Starburst variety; if I ignored the candy corn-like texture, they were pretty tasty.

This year, I have to draw the line.

Brace Yourselves: Pumpkin flavored everything is coming
Listen to Ned Stark. Unless he tells you to trust Littlefinger.

Brach’s is now selling Pumpkin Spice flavored candy corn. Being an intrepid candy lover, I decided to try it.

Never again. It was reminiscent of cinnamon, if you swallowed a spoonful of powdered cinnamon that had been left out for a year and a half. Seriously, it had the powdery feel to it, without much of the taste. I could smell the pumpkin, but I couldn’t taste it.

I am loath to throw candy away, but I had to spit this stuff out and throw the rest of the bag away. Ick!

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Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call logo
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call logo

I’m a Final Fantasy fiend. Ever since my (now) husband moved in with his Playstation and Final Fantasy VIII, I’ve been hooked. That means I’m a sucker for almost any game with the words “Final Fantasy,” is made by Square-Enix, (I’m looking at you, Bravely Default) or, in the case of that Kickstarter, involves the composer Nobuo Uematsu. I also love rhythm/music games; I’ve owned Dance Dance Revolution (including the super-expensive RedOctane dance mats), Beatmania, Rock Band, Guitar Hero, Rocksmith, even Elite Beat Agents.

Needless to say, when the second installment of Final Fantasy’s rhythm game was announced, I pounced on the collector’s edition. Extra Final Fantasy soundtrack albums? Yes, please!

I know people have had problems with Digital River, the folks who run Square-Enix’s online store, but I’ve never had an issue. Final Fantasy XIV and Lightning Returns, arrived with no issues. Despite the warning on their site that the game might not arrive by the release day of September 16, I got it on the 13th. Three days early.

Time to get a good head start on the game, right?

I actually found the timing of the notes to be more forgiving than the original game. It was a lot easier for me to get critical hits and some nice combos. It got to the point where I developed very high standards for myself; a score of A or below seemed like failure. (Note: at the end of each song, you receive a letter grade. Above A is S, SS, and SSS.)

The song selection is insane. There are apparently over 200 songs available, though they’re not all available right away. I’ve put about 20 hours into the game so far, and just hit the achievement of playing 100 songs.

Apart from the regular mode, there’s a Quest Medley mode, in which you play multiple stages, and even “fight” bosses by making critical hits (i.e., hitting the notes in time). Beating the quests helps you unlock different player characters for your kick-ass rhythm party. My only gripe is that Fang from Final Fantasy XIII isn’t available; I’ve developed a soft spot for the “Magical Lesbian Death Squad,*” and I would have rounded out the party of four with the Lightning Returns version of Lightning.

The versus mode is pretty neat; you get to face off against either AI, a Nintendo 3DS friend, or a random person online. You can narrow down the search for random people by song difficulty and location (domestic or international). Then, you get to both play a song, and whoever gets the higher score wins. However, there is a trick! You get to inflict different status effects on each other, which can change the speed or direction of the notes. One effect even makes the timing super-strict! The status effects are random, but a friendly Moogle will warn you when they’re coming.

There is also the option to get more songs through DLC (downloadable content). I caved and bought “Shuffle or Boogie” from Final Fantasy VIII, because I spent many an hour playing the Triple Triad minigame.

Initial impression: It’s a super-fun game and the awesome music makes me nostalgic for all the old games in the Final Fantasy franchise.

More to come as I progress in the game. For now, however, my thumbs are sore.

 

*The Magic Lesbian Death Squad consists of Lightning, Fang and Vanille (thanks, ClockworkHouse). I hope it doesn’t come across as disrespectful; all I’m implying is that the Death Squad is pretty kick-ass. Also, Fang and Vanille really love each other, and remind me of Xena and Gabrielle.

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