Espresso Shot [Movie] Review – Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to another edition of Games with Coffee!

First question: Did you see the Sonic the Hedgehog movie that released on Valentines Day? Second question: If you haven’t, why are you still sitting here? GO. AND. WATCH. IT. NOW. (Or not… considering the current events… but still.)

Ahem.

That’s it. That’s the entire post.

Oh wait, you want me to write a review of the movie? Well… I did mention in my comeback post back in January that I would do one… And I always endeavor to keep my promises…

Alright then! So, we’ll do this properly: Games with Coffee’s first ever Espresso Shot [Movie] Review! Similar format as the regular reviews, but with minus Gameplay (for obvious reasons, of course.).

Let’s get to it!


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Wow. What a timeline we live in, huh folks?

When the very first teaser images for Sonic the Hedgehog were released by Paramount Pictures some time early last year, I thought it was a joke. “There’s no way that this is what it’s really gonna look like?” I thought cynically.

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And then the teaser trailer dropped. Humanoid Sonic? Gangsta Paradise? Muscular calves?! No gloves?! Shoes with laces?! Cyclops!? TEETH!? Oh my goodness…

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Dear god, what an abomination.

Right there and then, I was ready to throw it in and declare Sonic the Hedgehog’s media career dead and gone. I planned on reminiscing on the good times, back when the retro games were king, when the 3-D games did some experimental fun stuff – some were good, others, not so – and when Sonic used to be cool. “Now,” I thought, sadly watching my favourite character spiral into oblivion, “Now, he’s a joke…”

Thankfully, other Sonic fans like myself thought the same thing and they demanded action. You want to know who else teamed up with us fans? Kids. They, too, thought that the design looked horrible. Nightmare-fuel really. So then, Paramount did something that was completely unthinkable:

They listened.

Director Jeff Fowler acknowledged in a tweet what everyone else was thinking: the design wasn’t acceptable. They’d go back to the drawing board. They’d make him better.

And then they did something even more unthinkable: They went to Tyson Hesse.

Now, who’s Tyson Hesse? Well, he’s the god who descended down from the heavens the artist who saved the Sonic the Hedgehog movie. He’s the guy who put together the wildly popular and entertaining Sonic Mania Adventures and Team Sonic: Overdrive shorts. He’s also one of the artists working on the IDW comics run of Sonic The Hedgehog, which looks way past cool! (I still need to start reading this series…).

On November 12, 2019, Paramount proved that did the right thing in bringing him aboard when the new trailer of the Sonic the Hedgehog movie dropped, showcasing the brand new design. It was, in a word, EPIC:

To this day, this trailer has over 33 million views. I myself had it on repeat in the background at work. For two weeks. This, THIS was what I wanted to see: a proper looking Sonic the Hedgehog!

Fast forward to February, the hype was REAL. Paramount released a hilarious Super Bowl commercial, where athletes of all kinds were extolling the virtues of our blue, supersonic hedge-hero. Social media was abuzz and Sonic was EVERYWHERE. And I? I was still skeptical. “Sure, they redesigned his look, but there’s no way in hell that this movie was going to be any good. According to history, video game movies are supposed to be terrible. Yes Detective Pikachu was an exception to the norm, but that’s all it was.”

Watching this movie at an advance screening on the Thursday ahead of its Valentines Day release made me realize that I shouldn’t expect the most negative of outcomes. I’ll admit, I shed a few tears on my way home from the theater. It’s not just because I’m a hardcore Sonic fan who just saw his icon on the big screen, but because the story was so heartwarming and so familiar to me.

Isolation, loneliness and ADHD do go hand in hand in hand after all.

Story

(HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Clocking in at 100 minutes runtime (referencing the fact that Sonic needs 100 rings for an extra life), Sonic the Hedgehog introduces how our lovable blue hedgehog ended up on Earth in the first place. The film opens in media res with Sonic and Robotnik battling it out in San Francisco. It’s here, where Sonic tells his story.

Born with speed-based super powers on an alien world resembling the one in the video games, Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) lived a life of hiding with his mentor/mother figure, Longclaw, an owl. When he accidentally leads a pack of echidnas back to their safe house, Longclaw hands Sonic a bag of rings and instructs him to get to safety.

Rings play a vital part both in the video games and in the movie as well. In the latter, they’re used as a mode of transport, allowing beings to travel great distances by just thinking of their destination. In a sense, these operate with the same principles as the Giant Rings in classic Sonic games or the Warp Rings in the latter issues of Archie Comics’ run of Sonic the Hedgehog (we’re talking Pre-Super Genesis Wave here folks, keep up!). Using these rings, Sonic had been planet hopping and evading those who would want to exploit his powers for their nefarious purposes.

His travels eventually led him to live on Earth in the sleepy town of Green Hills, Montana (another reference to the games!), where he had holed up in a cave for the last ten years. With no one but himself to keep him company, Sonic argues in movie that he’s “living his best life on Earth.” In reality, his existence is a lonesome one. His interactions with the residents of Green Hills are limited to him standing on the sidelines as an observer and pretending that they are his friends. Two people he has great interest in are Tom Wachowski (James Marsden) – a local cop – and his wife, Maddie (Tika Sumpter) – a veterinarian. Sonic affectionately nicknames them “The Donut Lord” and “The Pretzel Lady” respectively.

His loneliness doesn’t truly settle in until he tries to emulate a Little League game he saw one afternoon, using his super speed to play practically every position from offense to defense and even coaching! When he scored that home run, crossed home plate and raised his hand for a high five, only to find that there was no one there to give him one, I’ll admit, I lost it.

It took me back to when I was 9, when my ADHD and my self-esteem were at their worst. I was alone. I was friendless. I spent my recesses playing in one of the baseball diamonds at school, alone, with nothing but my imagination to keep me company. And instantly, I identified with the character. Well, I’ve always identified with Sonic, but the movie version more so than ever before.

His rage and frustration manifests his speed based powers and sends the entire Pacific Northwest into darkness. The military decides to send their top technology guy, Doctor Robotnik (Jim Carrey) to investigate, which leads Sonic and Tom to cross paths. Tom, who’s recently accepted a job as a street cop in San Francisco, shoots Sonic with a tranq when he catches him in his garage. Sonic was just about to escape to the next destination of his escape map – the Mushroom Planet. This causes the hedgehog to drop his warp ring as he blearily mutters  the words he sees on Tom’s shirt: San Francisco. This opens a portal on the floor to the city. His bag of rings drops into the portal and lands on top of the Transamerica Pyramid.

Robotnik tracks Sonic to Tom’s place and the two escape with the doctor on their tail. The second act of the movie becomes a buddy act between Sonic and Tom, where Tom helps the hedgehog retrieve his rings. He goes on to explain what a bucket list is and helps Sonic to live out his last day on Earth enroute to San Francisco. Sonic tries to do everything on his bucket list and acts nonchalant but he secretly wants to have true friends. Being alone with only yourself as your source of companionship really drags on your soul, y’know?

Meanwhile, Robotnik retrieves one of Sonic’s quills from Tom’s house and determines that it holds almost unlimited power – enough that he could use it to his own devious purposes. This results in a sort of victory dance, in which Jim Carrey goes full Jim Carrey and it is fantastic.

Everything comes to a head in the third act. An explosion injures Sonic and Tom takes him to his veterinarian wife, who’s apartment hunting in San Fran. After being gifted his iconic shoes, Sonic and his human companions retrieve his bag of rings, only for Robotnik to show up, his machine now powered by Sonic’s quill. Sonic eventually decides to stop running and use his powers to save his new friends, which culminates in the movie’s spectacularly visual final act. At the end, and with help from Tom and the people of Green Hills, the hedgehog defeats Robotnik with his patented Spin Attack, banishes the Doctor to the Mushroom Planet and ends up getting his high five, new friends and a home to live in.

OK, sure the acting’s a bit wooden at times, but Ben Schwartz and Jim Carrey really nail their respective roles. Jim Carrey really stole the show. He brought his traditional, old school 90’s visual comedy back to the screen and it made Robotnik much more dimensional than his game counterpart. Ben Schwartz really shined as Sonic. He put in so much expression and emotion into the character that it makes the other Sonic English VA’s look like amateurs in comparison. His interpretation of Sonic makes the character so endearingly irritating and it’s great! Also, James Marsden did a great job as the straight man who befriends a talking animal. It looked as though he actually enjoyed playing this role. Agent Stone (Lee Majdoub) and Maddie (Tika Sumpter) were real stand-outs, despite the limited screen time both characters had. Bottom line is, the movie’s wholesome and full of fuzzy feels. Thankfully, there is only one fart joke to endure and a couple of Floss Dance moments, but otherwise, the rest of the jokes were funny. The story’s pretty predictable and I wished that they pulled more from the game lore, however as a starting point to the character and the series as a whole, I think Paramount did a fine job with the script.

Also, can we just take a moment to relish in the feels at the part when Jojo gave Sonic his iconic red and white shoes?

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So wholesome…

Visuals

Compared to when it first was teased, Sonic the Hedgehog looks amazing. Sonic truly looks like Sonic, thanks to Tyson Hesse and the exhaustive effort of the animators who went back and revamped all the CGI. The visual effects also look pretty good. I really liked the electricity that comes out of Sonic when he goes whole hog. I do wish they incorporated more of the game world into this movie, but as it’s an introduction to what could be a franchise film series, it’s understandable why they went this route.
I greatly enjoyed the visual Easter eggs they included in the movie. From Sanic, to the rings around the Paramount logo, there was a ton of references to the games and I loved it all!

I originally had misgivings about Robotnik’s appearance, but I found those to be unjustified. As this is an origin story for both characters, it made sense for Robotnik to look anything unlike his original appearance in the games. That said, Jim Carrey really nailed the evil genius – he turned from a one-dimensional character into something that could be expanded on in future installments. His transformation at the end to his iconic look was simply marvelous.

Audio

Oh. My. God. As a Sonic fan, I LOVED the audio. I also loved the fact that it wasn’t overstated. Tom Holkenborg (Junkie XL) did a superb job with the soundtrack. He really showed respect for the source audio. He even snuck in some motifs from the animated series. There are certain parts of Dr. Robotnik’s theme that sounds similar to his theme in Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog. It’s wild!

Whoever made the decision to use “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen deserves a freaking raise. Best decision ever made! It was like the song was made for the movie, really. I nearly jumped out of my chair and cheered when it was playing. It’s one of my favourite running songs and one of my favourite songs in general from the band.

That piano version of Green Hills Zone that plays at the final parts of the movie gave me freaking feelz. I think that’s the one covered by Jean Baptiste, the pianist featured on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. Regardless, it was a perfect way to set up the end of the movie.

Rewatchability

There are so many visual nods and Easter eggs referencing the Sonic franchise in this movie that it will take a couple of trips to catch them all. Plus, there’s that end credits scene that sets things up for a sequel.

Beyond that, there are a few good reasons to rewatch this title. Kids and adults will enjoy the fun story, wacky characters and the power of friendship. This, despite the fact the whole “Alien befriends human on planet Earth” plot has been overdone. Also, Sonic’s story of a lonely existence is a universal one that every one can relate to. And Jim Carrey’s performance is just fantastic. It’s well worth a second watch.

The Last Drop

Sonic the Hedgehog may, in fact, be the one that breaks the video game movie curse. As of writing, the movie has grossed almost $300 million overseas, despite its 60% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It doesn’t do anything original or groundbreaking, but it provides a great jumping on point for those who are unfamiliar with the character and the series. For fans, this is basically a love letter to them. It tells them that they are heard and that they are understood in regards to their favourite characters or series.

However, I do want to stress here that outrage culture shouldn’t be the solution to all our problems, especially when it comes to the things we love. I shall shamelessly plug the first episode of the STORY MODE Podcast – hosted by my good friends, The Well Red Mage, Blue Williams (@wrytersview) and Ryan from RetroGameBrews – in which they discuss the Sonic movie and the circumstances surrounding the fan input that resulted in the design change.

I’m of the opinion that video game adaptations should be handled by those who are intimately familiar with the source material (OK yeah, I kinda copped that from Red, sue me :P). Video game moves should not be treated as cash cows by film execs looking for a quick buck because people truly and genuinely care about these IP’s. I mean, Sonic to me… well, he means a lot to me and it’s great to see that the character his being treated with the respect he deserves, especially after years of neglect and being the butt end of a joke. I just hope that other big name film companies recognize this for other upcoming adaptations.

Pros:

  • Cute, charming story that will draw in kids and adults.
  • Ben Schwartz and Jim Carrey really nail their respective characters.
  • It’s action packed and pretty well paced with lots of great visual effects.
  • Solidly leverages the IP to fit the narrative.
  • Sonic looks like Sonic.
  • Lots of great Easter eggs for fans to pick out.

Cons:

  • The story could have been a bit more ambitious
  • More elements from the IP could have been used, but they may be saving it for a sequel.
  • Some sections felt a touch wooden with regards to their acting.

Score: (Personally, it’s a 5/5, but I gotta be objective here:) 4.5/5

4.5 out of 5

Super Mario Multiverse – Super Mario Odyssey: An Odyssey of Our Own

Happy Mar10 Day everyone and welcome to a special edition of Games with Coffee!

Finally, after much waiting, the day has come! It’s the Super Mario Multiverse collaboration, brought to you by my good friend: The Well Red Mage!

Picture this: A hundred Mario games and a hundred writers talking about said Mario games. That’s what this collaboration is all about: celebrating the iconic plumber and his numerous appearances in over a hundred video games!

Mario has touched the lives of all of us at one point, even those who are fervent Sonic the Hedgehog fans (like myself!). Then again, it could be said that without Mario, Sonic wouldn’t even exist! Alas, I digress.

Without further ado, here’s a story I’d like to share with you all as a part of the Super Mario Multiverse. Enjoy.


Homer’s epic, the Odyssey, tells the tale of Odysseus and his ten year long journey to return to his family after the Trojan war. Since then, the word has been used to refer to voyages most epic and grand in nature. Therefore, the use of the word “Odyssey” in Super Mario Odyssey for the Nintendo Switch pertains to the epic worldwide journey Mario and Cappy undertake in order to rescue Peach from Bowser’s latest scheme: to marry her. Cappy’s sister, Tiara, was also held hostage to be used as a wedding prop and thus spurred the sentient hat spirit-thing to team up with the plumber.

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Super Mario Odyssey was a truly vast adventure and possibly the best Mario platforming game I’ve played since Super Mario 64. I received a copy of my own as an anniversary gift from my wife, who was seven months pregnant at the time. The game featured various locales filled to the brim with colorful characters, awe-inspiring scenery and plenty of challenges and collectibles to keep one busy for quite a long time.

What made this game memorable for me however, was the calm and steady reassurance it provided my wife and I during the start of a great and life-changing odyssey of our own.


Friday January 12, 2018 is a day I consider to be one of the most important in my life. 

The weather that day was the most variable and chaotic it had ever been. It went from warm in the morning, to freezing cold in the evening. It went from light rain to freezing rain and then finally to thick, heavy snow at the end of the night.

I returned home early that day just as the weather started turning. I was in the kitchen with my wife, observing the weather and mentioned offhand to my unborn child, “I wish you were out here to see this crazy weather we’re having.” 

You know that saying, “one shouldn’t tempt fate?” Yeah, well, turns out that kid listened very closely to Dad that day. Not even an hour after I said that, my wife went into labour. 

It started off as minor contractions, but they ramped up in intensity very quickly. Outside, the weather got worse: going from freezing rain to a full on blizzard.

At the three hour mark, we finally grabbed our stuff and headed to the hospital. I packed my Switch with Super Mario Odyssey on deck in a small travel bag along with all the necessities we would need to take the little one home. The game was in the furthest corner of my mind at the moment; I had to concentrate both on navigating the snow and ice covered roads and on the excruciating pain in my hand as my wife gripped it for dear life.

After an hour’s drive, we made it to the hospital that we booked a private room for. The snow was roughly four inches deep at that point and the storm was still raging. We dashed to the maternity ward, checked in and my wife got examined and prepped for delivery.

Four hours into labour and she was already three quarters of the way dilated. This kid wanted out. Now. If that wasn’t enough, when the doctor delivering our child did a secondary examination he discovered (to our collective surprise) that he was breach. He freaking flipped between the first and second examinations!

The doctor gave us our options on how to proceed and we both decided on a Caesarian. Half an hour later at 8:02 pm, January 12th, my son, Arjun, was born. I held him in my arms as my wife rested from the surgery. He was skin and bones and weighed no more than four and a half pounds.

Because of his low weight and blood sugar levels, he had to be placed into the NICU. Being separated from our child was the scariest moment we as a couple have ever faced. The minutes felt like hours as we awaited status updates about his condition. We barely slept as we constantly worried about the little guy. Remembering that I packed my Switch, I took it out and passed the time playing Super Mario Odyssey. The sight of the portly, jump-happy plumber travelling the vast worlds with his hat-shaped companion helped me to keep things in perspective as we awaited the news of our son.

Eighteen hours later, we got the OK that everything was going to be fine. The OB let us stay another night at the hospital to get some further rest before being discharged the following day.

Relieved of our collective constant state of fear and worry, I pulled out my Switch, turned it on and started playing some more Odyssey while my wife was napping. Some time later, she called out to me and asked me to sit on the bed with her. System in hand, I reclined next to her. She cuddled into my shoulder and watched me play through New Donk City and then Bowser’s Castle, looking for more Power Moons, completing side quests and picking up costumes to wear. 

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It was that moment, with our son resting nearby and my wife and I sitting side by side, playing Super Mario Odyssey, that I knew that everything was going to be alright. We were parents now, yes, but Mario’s calm demeanor and unwavering, unflappable resolve helped to make that realization feel less scary. And though I’m a Sonic the Hedgehog fan at heart, I still have to thank Mario and Cappy for getting my family through such a frantic and stressful time.


Wahoo! You are a Super Reader! But the adventure doesn’t stop here… There’s more of this project in another castle! This article is just one level in an entire Super Mario Multiverse, a galactic collaboration between writers around the world sharing a bit of our hearts and memories about our favorite Mario games. Visit the Center of the Multiverse to see more:

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Kingdom Hearts III & Final Fantasy XV: My Disappointment in These Long-Developed Games

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to another edition of Games with Coffee!

Folks, as I’m sure you’re all aware, I love RPG’s. Specifically, those created by Square-Enix (formerly Squaresoft), developers of the timeless Final Fantasy series. And while the series and developer are venerated as one of the most popular and well-known, some of the latest entries in the last few years have fallen short in my opinion.

Today’s edition analyzes my disappointment with two specific titles: Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III. While I initially enjoyed both games and thought they were well worth the wait, as I played through and got deeper into them, I found myself feeling disappointed at the final product. More often than not, the story lines had started off fairly strong before tapering into an incoherent mess. The combat and gameplay was interesting until it turned tedious and monotonous. There were some interesting side quests, like the rare hunts in FFXV and the Gummi Ship treasure collecting in KHIII, but I found myself wishing that the developers took more time to focus on tightening up the story rather than packing more content.

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With FFXV, the last few chapters of the story felt rushed. The pacing was off and I found that I didn’t enjoy it as much as the base game. And then there was the additional DLC, implemented long after the story had been completed. While I enjoyed the focus on the other characters, what I didn’t like was that the director (Tetsuya Nomura) shoehorned these additional parts. It’s as if he and his team showed precisely that their original product was rushed and not ready for the mainstream. I’ll admit, the original ending did tug at my heartstrings. Saving the world requires sacrifices and it’s a theme that I enjoy exploring in stories.

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Kingdom Hearts III felt short and unfinished compared with Kingdom Hearts II. Every time I finished a world, I thought to myself “Is that it?” I always felt that there was more story to glean from each world, like in Thebes, where Pete and Maleficent accidentally unearth Pandora’s Box. Speaking of those two, I didn’t like how they were regulated to the sidelines. And what is up with that box?! I swear, I’m kind of tired of getting more questions instead of answers.

What really set me off was the ending for KHIII. I foresaw this game to be the conclusion of Sora’s story, but instead, it turns out to be another “To Be Continued.” No happy endings for both Sora and Kairi. This, among other things, is what really disappointed me; those two have been through the ringer since this journey started and once again they are separated. Sora, once again looks to be embroiled in another master plan hatched by a guy named The Master of Masters. All I’m asking for, is when will we get a complete and definitive ending?

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When will it end??? T_T

Now, don’t get me wrong, these are still pretty good games. The level of detail put into them was stellar. Again, I just wished that Square-Enix and the director put as much effort into the stories for each game as they did with the gimmicks, mini-games and other little things they put into these titles. I hope that they learn from these two games and keep the focus on the story this time with the Final Fantasy VII Remake, but I have my doubts that they would. We’ll see, come April.


What are your thoughts on these two games years after their release? Do you think they did a good job with the story or do you share my opinions that they could have polished the story more? Do you think FFVII: Remake will suffer the same fate? Let me know in the comments below or on social media.

This has been Ryan from Games with Coffee, always reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing.


Did you enjoy this and other content on Games with Coffee? If so, please consider lending your support by buying me a cuppa! You can click that blue “Buy me a Coffee” button on the sidebar, or click here to be taken to my Ko-Fi page. All funds go directly towards maintaining and upgrading this site for a more reader-friendly experience.

Presenting The #SonicSunday Power Hour!

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen and welcome to another edition of Games with Coffee!

This is a bit of a delayed post, but I am excited to announce the start of my stint in streaming. I’ve always wanted to go this route, but I felt that I never had the proper resources to do so. That is, until last November when my dear cousin (and sponsor for this endeavor) decided to gift me a gaming rig composed of parts he no longer needed.

Suffice to say, I totally appreciated the gesture!

Long before I received the rig though, I was thinking about jumping into the streaming game. Back in Christmas of 2018, I picked up a capture card with the goal of starting up a channel. I hadn’t realized however, just how difficult it was to take up streaming. I needed a space and time to play and a proper audio/visual set up and I just never had those things at the time. I streamed maybe twice in 2019 and both times were not that great. I was awkward. My mic was terrible and I couldn’t get into the groove. I shelved the idea of streaming and moved on.

So, what changed? Sonic, that’s who. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to talk about how the speedy blue hedgehog made a difference in my life in “The Characters That Define Us,” the massive collaboration effort brought to life by Matt and Nikki of the blog, Normal Happenings. I poured my heart out into my piece and as I did so, I remembered all the things that Sonic did for me throughout my life and continues to do for me still in the present. My contribution has not been released at this time, but it will be publicized sometime this year.

Meanwhile, I decided that 2020 was going to be a banner year for me. Besides my contribution to Matt’s epic collab, I also was ready to complete, edit and publish my longstanding fanfiction, which I talked about in my first post of this year. I still wanted to do more to celebrate the character and the franchise that has given me so much. And so I decided.

I wanted to return to streaming and focus solely on playing Sonic the Hedgehog games. So without further ado:

Introducing The #SonicSunday Power Hour!

The premise is simple: between February and June, I’ll be playing one title from Sonic’s illustrious history for one hour every Sunday at 9:30 pm EST. It’s my way of showing how much I love Sonic.

There will be 21 episodes and each game has been hand-selected by me. Some games will be the first time’s I’ve every played them and some games will come with challenges. Excitement abounds.

If you want to see what game is coming up for the week, either check my events timeline on the sidebar or follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

I’ll eventually put each episode up on YouTube, but for now, you can catch Episode 1, featuring Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Game Gear) on my Twitch channel. Episode 2 will come this Sunday!

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Edit: The first episode is now up on YouTube! Episodes will be uploaded every week on Mondays. 

Hope to see you on my stream! And as I always say, remember to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing!


Did you enjoy this and other content on Games with Coffee? If so, please consider lending your support by buying me a cuppa! You can click that blue “Buy me a Coffee” button on the sidebar, or click here to be taken to my Ko-Fi page. All funds go directly towards maintaining and upgrading this site for a more reader-friendly experience.

Games with Coffee in 2020

What’s up everyone? Happy New Year and welcome to a new edition of Games with Coffee! I hope your holidays were well and full of rest, food, coffee and plenty of gaming opportunities!

Today, I’ll forego a year in review and instead talk about the year ahead. Let’s dive in:

Games and Related News

A lot of crazy gaming stuff is happening this year.

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Final Fantasy VII Remake Part 1 is coming out this March April.

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Sonic the Hedgehog’s first foray into Hollywood is happening in just under a month from now.

A whole wack of other high profile games are going to be released this year and I know that a lot of people are looking forward to their release later this year. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, Kingdom Hearts III: ReMind, Animal Crossing and Cyberpunk 2077 are just a few I can name off the top of my head. Also coming later this year are the new next-gen consoles, the PS5 and the Xbox Series X.

While I might pick up the Final Fantasy remake, I plan on tackling some of my backlog this year, meaning (for the most part) I’ll withhold purchasing new games for the time being. I also got Dragon Quest XI for the Switch, but it’ll be a while until I start on that. For now, I’m going to get through Pokemon Shield, Final Fantasy XII and a couple of smaller games on my Switch before I tackle that beast. And let’s not get into my PS4 and Steam backlog…

I need to make a spreadsheet.

Fanfiction

I’m still on hiatus from the blog, but I’m making some amazing progress on my passion project. In fact, I have just finished roughly 75% of the rough draft! I estimate that I have about eight to ten chapters to write and it should be ready to publish in full by mid-2020. Again, each chapter of this story will premier exclusively on Games with Coffee and will be migrated to other fanfiction sites (such as Fanfiction.net) once the story has been fully published.

Another thing that I want to finish is my Legend of Zelda: Black and White series. The idea of a Film Noir-style Zelda was inspired by a TWRM Radio post back in July of 2018. If you haven’t read them yet, go and start here. I’ll wait. 

The whole story is expected to be completed in roughly ten parts plus an epilogue. I won’t say too much, but there will be a betrayal. I just hope it won’t be too obvious when all is revealed. More on that will be coming in Fall of 2020.

Posts

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My “Guide to Being a Mature, Distinguished Gamer” entries were fairly popular, so I’ll be adding some more parts to it. Expect to see topics such as dealing with distorted thinking, mental contrasting and how to keep the positives and negatives balanced within you and even a little section about budgeting! (Because we can always use budgeting tips for this time of year.)

I’ll also try to go back to my roots as a blogger. 2019 was a weird year, in that I didn’t post as much as I used to (nine posts vs. 31 in both 2017 and 2018!). Despite taking a break and working on the fanfic, I should be back to a more consistent schedule of posting for this year and I got a lot of things to cover. So, expect to see more personal stories, more editorial pieces for discussion, some acquisitions, a few major events and a lot of talk about a certain blue hedgehog…

Collaborations

Speaking of hedgehogs, my good friend Matt from the blog Normal Happenings has begun slowly trickling out posts for “The Characters that Define Us!” This is a massive, year long collaboration that involves over 52 writers discussing the characters that had made a lasting impact on their lives. Yours truly is a part of this collaboration and I’ll be talking about none other than the Blue Blur himself: Sonic the Hedgehog! I don’t know when it’ll be released, (Matt’s being very hush-hush about the schedule) but keep it locked here for updates when they become available!

I have some more Sonic related stuff to discuss, but that’s gonna have its own section. 🙂

On the other side of the console war spectrum comes the Super Mario Multiverse collaboration, organized by my other good friend, The Well Red Mage! Scheduled to go up on March 10 (Mar10 Day), this massive collab will feature over 100 writers talking about Mario games of all kinds. I myself will share a little story about how Super Mario Odyssey helped my little family during a tight situation.

Streaming

This past Christmas, a cousin of mine (let’s be real, he’s more like a brother to me) who I haven’t seen in ages gave me a gaming PC built from spare parts he wasn’t using any longer! The reason behind the gift was to support my endeavors. Oh, and to do some online gaming as well! Honestly, no words could express how much that gift meant to me – both the computer and the gesture behind it are incredibly powerful.

I have no words to express my gratitude…

With a new, more powerful rig at my disposal, I’ve decided to venture back into the world of streaming. I’m on Twitch and I’m planing on streaming every Sunday nights starting in February. You can check my stream schedule to your right under the freshly added “What’s On The Menu?” events calendar.

This now begs the question: What am I going to stream? Well, I’ll explain below:

#SONIC2020

I’ve decided to dedicate this year, 2020, to Sonic the Hedgehog. To that end, I’m doing several things in tribute to this awesome character:

  • I’m starting a show on Twitch called “The Sonic Sunday Power Hour!” Inspired by my #SonicSunday posts on Instagram, every Sunday, from February to the week of Sonic’s birthday, I’ll be streaming a Sonic title for one whole hour. I’m in the midst of preparing the first stream for February 2nd. You can also check out my test streams (see What’s On The Menu on the sidebar) and provide feedback on my audio/visual setup! I want this to look and sound decent when it all starts, so your help would be greatly appreciated dear readers!
  • I’m getting a tattoo to celebrate the character! I won’t say when I’ll get it, but I’ll let all you know when it happens. I’ve designed it myself.
  • See “The Characters That Define Us” in the collaboration section above. It’s a huge deal.
  • A movie review of Sonic the Hedgehog! It’ll be a first for the site, so please bear with me. I predict it will be terrible (as all video game movies are), but Detective Pikachu surprised me greatly, so… *shrugs*
  • And finally, my much talked about, much anticipated debut of my fanfiction passion project, titled: Mobius VII Book I: Escape from the City.

Site Updates and Content Scheduling

It’s also time to do a little housecleaning here at Games with Coffee. I’ve designed and uploaded a brand new header, added some new social media links and the aforementioned events timeline that I’ll update periodically to show what’s coming up soon on the blog. This will also help me maintain a consistent schedule, so I don’t put up nine freaking posts in a year.

While most of these changes have been implemented in the last week or so, I’m pretty limited as to what I can do with other things (say, implementing a Dark Mode). Which is why I want to upgrade my plan here at WordPress. I feel that with a Premium plan and access to CSS, I can do so much more to make Games with Coffee your number one spot to just chill out and read some stories while drinking coffee.

You may have also noticed a little blue button on the side asking to buy me a coffee. Clicking there will take you to my page on Ko-Fi, where you can support me for the price of a coffee. Donations are non-recurring and the proceeds will all go towards upgrading the site. I’m about halfway to that point as of writing. So, if you could buy a coffee for your favourite coffee-fueled writing machine, I and this website would sincerely and greatly appreciate you for it.

Plus, you get an awesome and inspiring thank you note from yours truly for every coffee you buy. And we could all use some inspiring words from time to time, am I right?

And Finally, Some Personal News

So… remember this post a couple years ago? I started this job with a fresh, new mindset and for the most part, it’s helped greatly. Until I got laid off due to restructuring. Yep, I’m jobless to start the new decade.

But, it’s not all that bad. I look at it as a chance for a new beginning. Ten years ago, I was just finishing school, just got hired for my first job, in debt, dating, writing a fanfiction and having basically no clue what direction my life was going to go into.

Here in 2020, I’m married, I have my own home, I have a pretty good career in engineering, I have an amazing kid who’s totally into Sonic the Hedgehog (like his old man!), I have this awesome blog with these way past awesome people reading it, I’m collaborating with truly spectacular folks like The Well Red Mage and Matt from Normal Happenings, I’m going to start streaming soon and I’m still writing fanfiction! And… actual original fiction too. Maybe. Who knows?

I’m pretty thankful for all of those things, but I still feel unsure of what the future holds. However, if I continue to espouse everything I’ve talked about here on this blog, about being a Mature, Distinguished Gamer, then I’m sure everything will work out.


So, what’s next? Well, my first test stream has been planned for this Sunday. I put up a Twitter poll to request what game I should test my setup with, so check that out and vote! Otherwise, I’ll see you this Sunday at 9:30pm Eastern for The Sonic Sunday Power Hour! Hope to see you there!

This has been Ryan from Games with Coffee, reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing.


Did you enjoy this and other content on Games with Coffee? If so, please consider lending your support by buying me a cuppa! You can click that blue “Buy me a Coffee” button on the sidebar, or click here to be taken to my Ko-Fi page. All funds go directly towards maintaining and upgrading this site for a more reader-friendly experience.

 

The Guide on Being a Mature Distinguished Gamer: Part 4 – Finding Your Goals

Good morning and welcome to another edition of Games with Coffee!

At last, we have arrived at the final part of my miniseries. To those of you who have stuck with my ramblings so far, a heartfelt thanks goes to each of you. I also want to thank everyone in the WordPress community for being an amazing bunch of talented and friendly writers and also for inspiring me to write this series. I finally feel that I’ve fulfilled the requirements I have set out in the tagline of this blog: A Blog for the Mature Distinguished Gamer.

Read the previous three parts here:

Part 1 – Priorities

Part 2 – Failure, Success and The Gaming Mindset

Part 3 – Respect, Kindness and Empathy

The first three parts in this series all lead up to this final one about Finding Your Goals. In the games we play, the characters we play as have a goal or a dream that they want to accomplish. Some are as simple as rescuing a princess or fulfilling a last wish. Some are as difficult as overthrowing an empire, uncovering the truth on a conspiracy or saving the world from a deadly threat. Whatever the case, these characters pursue these goals with abandon.

The Mature, Distinguished Gamer (MDG) must embody that same pursuit with their own goals. However, they should be kind and empathetic to themselves when pursing them. They should realize that the mindset will make or break accomplishing those goals. They should understand that failures or setbacks won’t derail their efforts, but will instead make them stronger for the future. And finally, they need to set priorities so that they can focus on accomplishing their goals.

But what if you don’t know what your goals are? That’s what this part of the series focuses on today. Let’s get cracking on the final part of The Guide on Being a Mature, Distinguished Gamer.

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Go On A Quest

On January 1st, 2017, I decided to take a Quest for personal discovery. I’ve written on this subject just over two years ago, on my thirtieth birthday, and you can read that post here. In it, I go over my process. It’s a good compliment to this post.

But the thing is, I’ve dialed back on this constant stream of updating experience. Why? Well, the objective of The Quest wasn’t just to establish good habits, but to identify both the things that were important to me and the things that I’m passionate about. In my case, it was my writing. While I enjoy my job as an engineer, it didn’t necessarily spark the same drive and passion that I have for writing. The Quest helped me to realize that I both love to write and want to work on it more. It also established a set of goals I have for myself, which include writing and publishing an original story among other things.

Now, you don’t have to employ my method, but it’s well worth it for the MDG to take a real close look at yourself and to see what you’re passionate about. From there, one should establish a system where they track the activities related to those passions and then set goals for them accordingly. You can use productivity apps/sites that utilize gamification, like Life RPG, SuperBetter or Level Up Life to track and maintain goals. Or use a system like mine and track through spreadsheets or lists. Whatever choice you make, do the research and make sure that it’s the right system for you.

So, the bottom line here is that if you want to truly find out what you want out of this fleeting life we all live, go on a personal quest of discovery!


Keep A Log

During The Quest, I kept a notebook and documented what I did in a day, noting the highlights and lowlights in that period. It was a way to help track the goals that I laid out in my Quest. Rereading some of the passages I’ve written has helped me to set new goals or reframe old ones, like writing twice a week as opposed to every day as originally planned.

Sometimes, writing out your thoughts and feelings over a period of time and then looking back through it can reveal a lot about what you want for yourself. You may even come to a realization about yourself that you may have missed altogether! It may not be as earth shattering a revelation as when Kratos learns of his godhood in the God of War series or the fact that Solid Snake and Liquid Snake are twin brothers, but it can set a path for the MDG to move forward, as opposed to aimlessly wandering about. For me, writing about writing was the kicker; I just never realized it until I took a closer look at myself by writing a log of my day.


Two Final Notes

I’d like for you to try this exercise when you get a chance: make a list of the things you really want to spend your time on in a day. In other words, what would you typically want to do in a day if you had no restrictions? Below is what I would love to do in a day, as an example:

  • Write my novel.
  • Write some fanfiction.
  • Write something for the blog.
  • Interact with my fellow games writers.
  • Spend time with my wife and son.
  • Stream online.
  • Bake stuff.
  • Exercise
  • Design and build something really cool.

Now, with that in mind, make a list of the things you typically do in a day and how long you spend on each. Again, I’ll be the example:

  • Work – 8.5 hours
  • Commute – 2 hours
  • Spend time with wife and son – 3 hours
  • Gaming – 1.5 hours
  • Writing -1 hour
  • Sleep – 6 hours
  • Workout – 0.5 hour
  • Misc. (Interacting with other writers, baking, chores etc.) – 1.5 hour

Now compare the two lists. You can see that between working, commuting, family time and sleeping, there’s not a lot of wiggle room to work with. If you do your own list, does it make you feel uncomfortable seeing how much time you have left remaining once all your responsibilities are handled? If so, why does it make you uncomfortable? What would you do to change that?

Ultimately, this exercise shows why it’s important to budget time for yourself and your goals. Doing quests and writing logs for your goals does nothing unless you carve out some time out to achieve them. It may require some sacrifice (I might have to cut my gaming time for my case), but it will only help in the long run when it comes to accomplishing your goals. It’s something to keep in mind.

Finally, as we conclude this miniseries, I’d like for you to keep this statement in mind: Focus on being better and chase the impossible. Life is naught but a journey through highs and lows. More specifically, as Auron would say:

Image result for auron this is your story

And with that, we conclude the series. I thank you for joining me as I (finally, after much delay!) celebrate the blog’s third birthday.

But before I sign off, I have some important announcements. Bear with me, all.

Announcements

First and foremost, with the conclusion of this series, I will be taking an extended hiatus on this blog until I finish my fanfiction passion project. It’s been a goal of mine to finish this and I’ve put it off for far too long. It’s gotten to the point where it has literally taken over my brain and is preventing me from coming up with new ideas here, so I need to get this thing completed once and for all so I can move forward. As I’ve finished my outline roughly last year, I surmise it’ll take me a few more months to completely finish it. Which leads to my next announcement.

I will be posting this story here on this blog exclusively once it’s completed and beta read by others. I used to write on fanfiction.net, but I feel that I have better fanbase here on the blog than anywhere else. No lie, you guys who have been following me, (whether it’s from day one or recently), rock so hard, so I think it’s fair that you all get first dibs on the final, ultimate version my story.

In the intern, I will continue to write for The Well Red Mage and Normal Happenings as a contributor to their respective blogs. As The Hyperactive Coffee Mage on TWRM, I will be writing up more in-depth game reviews and participating in collaborations when they arise. One of which is the absolutely MASSIVE Super Mario Multiverse collaboration! We’re still looking for writers, so check out the post if you want the 411 on this epic undertaking!

On Normal Happenings, I am but one of 52 other bloggers celebrating “The Characters That Define Us:” another massive blogging collaboration featuring writers discussing the characters that made them who they are today! I’m excited to share my story about Sonic the Hedgehog. Look out for it next year! I’ll also be lurking around here and there, reading and commenting and whatnot!

Beyond that, this will be the final post this year for the blog unless I change my mind (or when part one of this epic fanfic is fully finished…). Thank you all so much for your patience and understanding. I love and appreciate you all.


With that, this has been Ryan from Games with Coffee, thanking each and every one of you for joining me on these ramblings and always reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing! See you all soon!

The Guide on Being a Mature, Distinguished Game: Part 3 – Respect, Kindness and Empathy

Hello and welcome to another edition of Games with Coffee!

Today is Part 3 on “The Guide on Being a Mature Distinguished Gamer!” Check out previous parts here:

Part 1 – Priorities

Part 2 – Success, Failure and The Gaming Mindset

Part 3 will discuss about Respect, Kindness and Empathy; three things that every Mature, Distinguished Gamer (MDG) should embody on a daily basis, whether it be in the real world or the virtual one.

With all of the outrage and negativity surrounding our world and the cruelty exhibited by people of power on a daily basis, I believe that an emphasis on kindness, respect and empathy are needed now more than ever. And not just towards others, but to the self as well. I believe that if one is kind and respectful to one’s self, they will extend that kindness and respect outwards towards others.

Today, I’ll share some of my experiences regarding these three things, both within and outside of the gaming sphere. Let’s dive in to Part 3 on The Guide on Being a Mature, Distinguished Gamer.

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Be Kind to Yourself

Quite possibly the kindest thing anyone has ever said about me was this recent tweet from my good friend and Magely compatriot, The Mail Order Ninja Mage (AKA Daniel Flatt of Home Button Gaming):

I may be a little modest about this, but I suppose what he is saying is the truth: I try to be as kind and as welcoming to everyone as possible. I do this simply because I treat others the way I want to be treated – something that many people learn in grade school. More importantly (and to reiterate my belief that I introduced in the first section), if one is kind to oneself, he or she will extend that kindness to others.

So, how do you be kind to yourself? It’s as easy as treating yourself as your best friend. How would you talk to your best pal in your life? It could be similar to Marina and Pearl from Splatoon 2? The two rib on each other constantly (especially during a Splatfest!) but they truly support and care for one another and want each other to succeed.

Perhaps it’s similar to the relationship between Solid Snake and Otacon from Metal Gear Solid? These two forged an unlikely friendship under difficult circumstances and it remained strong and steady throughout their many adventures afterward. And they also have an awesome bro handshake.

However you treat your best friend, you should definitely treat yourself in the same way.

When you make a mistake or say or do something strange or inappropriate or even start a conflict with someone, firstly, don’t beat yourself up. Talk to yourself the same way you would talk to your best friend if they screwed up. What if you don’t have a best friend in that way? Another strategy is to speak to yourself in the same way you would speak to your hero or shero in their time of need. Like reminding Cloud that, sure, you gave your mortal enemy the Black Materia, but it’s not too late to save the Planet? Or mentioning to Knuckles that it’s OK that he fell for Dr. Eggman’s schemes once again (for what seems like the millionth time), and that it’s not too late to do the right thing? Same sort of thing, but turning it inwardly to yourself.

Secondly, Forgive Yourself. Everyone makes mistakes, everyone says or does stupid things. We are not infallible beings, we are but human; Flawed and strange in every which way possible, but interesting, important and special at the same time. So give yourself permission to forgive yourself for your mistakes instead of beating yourself up about it.

Thirdly, remind yourself that you are worth something, that you are unique and that you deserve kindness. Don’t think and believe for a second that you are average and ordinary and don’t listen to others when they say so: you can strive to be Excellent and Extraordinary in your own way. Don’t make your mistakes define you as someone worthless, instead tell yourself that this is a learning opportunity and that you’ll grow stronger for it.

Once you give yourself a chance to be kind to yourself, you’ll find that it’s quite easy to extend that same kindness towards others.

Hate The Game But Respect the Gamer

Before we get into the meat of this section, let’s take a look at the following scenarios:

You know that feeling you get whenever you’re tearing it up in a multiplayer game (online or offline) and you’re on a roll? You keep winning and winning and then, out of the blue, a new challenger approaches and completely annihilates you. Every strategy you throw out and every trick in the book gets countered and you’re left completely helpless to this superior player as they cruise over to victory.

Now, two things can occur at this point: the first could be that you rage, scream and spittle at this player who has bested you, ruined your win streak and outright embarrassed you in the game you specialize in. You may be so vexed that you decide to harass this individual in whatever way you can. If the interaction is online, this person may block you or flag you as inappropriate to the admins and therefore have you suspended for some time. If this happens offline, then that person may look at you in a negative light due to your disrespectful behavior. Or they may look at you as a crazy person and do their best never to play with you again.

Image result for angry gamer

Yeah. Don’t be this guy. (Found on Tenor)

The second would be recognizing and acknowledging the skill that this player possessed and moving on from that defeat. You may seethe privately that you’ve been thoroughly owned, but online or offline, you extend a “GG,” and continue on your merry way. Later, you check through the replays or recall the match in your head and see where you did it right and where your opponent took advantage of your weaknesses. You nod and possibly say to yourself: “Wow, that guy really exposed the holes in my defense, mad respect to them for showing me where to improve.” If you’re playing offline, chances are the person beside you would be willing and able to help you improve your game.

Now, I’m sure everyone wants to act in accordance to the second scenario, however, sometimes that’s not always the case. Sometimes you’ll get an opponent who’s sole purpose is to troll the heck out of you and goad you into making a critical mistake. Then when they are victorious, they perform some form of act solely designed to further infuriate you (spamming emoji’s/emotes, repeatedly striking taunting poses, teabagging, etc.). The key here is to not take offense to it and (if possible) rage about it in private. Or mute/block that person and continue on your merry way. An MDG strives to rise above trolling behaviour, and doesn’t have the time or energy to engage in that way either.

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Truth most spoken-eth.

In conclusion, you should hate the game, but never ever hate on the player, regardless of how they are acting toward you. It says more about your character if you don’t stoop to the level of a troll and behave disrespectfully.

So, how does the MDG approach this in real life? Simple:

Respectfulness IRL

Unlike online or even split-screen multiplayer (a rarity in this day and age), you can’t really choose who you have to work with at times. Sure, you can randomly pair yourself with other players in quick matches online, but 90% of the time, players forget about each other and move on to the next match. Unfortunately for us, that doesn’t apply to coworkers.

Chances are, you’ll either be working or already have worked with the individuals you see day in and day out in the office. Some coworkers can be good team members and a pleasure to work with. But the opposite is true and the MDG must be prepared to that inevitability.

A rule that the MDG must remember is that respect is a two-way street: In order to gain any respect, one must be respectful in kind. Sometimes that means biting the bullet and working with Joan from logistics or Doug from accounting to get things done, regardless of Joan’s nosiness or Doug’s constant needling at your appearance or working habits.

A good habit to establish is what I call the 80/20 rule: List down what you like and what you detest about this person. The rule here is if you can find and focus on at least 20% of positive qualities about that person, the other 80% of that person doesn’t really matter. In that sense, it prevents the other offending person from affecting you and your work.

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In this case, it’s 33%. (Note that Karen is a fictional character for this series. The pros and cons are based on real people though.)

If the person does frustrate you to no end, another suggestion I have is to write down your frustrations about this person in private. You can safely air out your grievances towards this individual while still maintaining a professional working relationship. Just make sure that what you’re saying is not publicly accessible. The best thing to use would be a journal or even a sheet of paper which you tear up into pieces.

Image result for angrily tearing paper gif

With this level of enthusiasm.

Respect doesn’t solely come from doing well in your work. It also relies on your ability to be personal and empathetic to others: those so-called ‘soft skills.’ Let’s talk about those.

Empathy in the Mature Distinguished Gamer

Alright, let me preface this by saying I’m that stereotypical, overtly nice Canadian, the one that says sorry for just about everything and that guy who speaks very formally and politely. The thing is, you don’t have to be a Canadian or overtly nice or a well-spoken individual to be empathetic to others.

For me, I always try to put myself in other people’s shoes and understand how they are feeling. Not only that, I take the advice of wise old Master Splinter and lend my ear to those who wish to use it to talk of their inner struggles.

Being genuine with others, helping them with their problems and getting yourself out of your own head – those are things that help me feel empathetic towards others.

But what if you’re not much of a people person? All it takes is to treat others with the same decency that you expect from others. If you can lend a hand when possible, do so, otherwise don’t sweat it. Sometimes, displaying the bare minimum of empathy towards others is good enough.

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Not all people are receptive to empathetic gestures and that’s perfectly fine. Give them space and move on. If they are though, set reasonable limits and know when to back off, change the subject or stop talking altogether. When they’re going into inane details about their third-ex or droning on about their endless complaints at their job, it’s time to end that conversation and move on! But, if they’re going on about something legitimately serious in their lives, do your best to listen and understand their feelings.

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And always remember to set healthy boundaries!

You’re not going to get it right all the time. I’m not perfect and I make plenty of mistakes when it comes to other peoples’ feelings; I’ll say the wrong things at the wrong times, or make an inappropriate comment, or I don’t give others my full attention when somebody wants it, or I can just generally be awkward. An MDG, when in such a situation, always tries to genuinely apologize when feelings are hurt and always does their best to be better. Slip ups happen from time to time, but as long as one recognizes and corrects themselves, then things generally tend to work out in the long run.

One Last Thing

Being kind, caring for others and trying to understand and acknowledge other’s feelings is an intrinsic part of being human. This human desire to connect with others has been emulated in several video games and we are indeed blessed to be surrounded by various characters we can all relate and look up to in times of joy or sadness.

If you want to improve your kindness, empathy and respect, look to those heroes and observe how they interact with others in their respective games. Some are great examples of how to act towards others and others can teach you how not to act! It’s all dependent on what you play.


So, how was that? I’m a bit nervous about this one; respect, empathy and kindness are touchy subjects and I really hope I wasn’t too preachy about them. If so, let me know in the comments or on Twitter! Also, let me know how you approach these in your life! I’m always interested in how others show respect, empathy and kindness!

The next part is the last in our mini-series and it’s about goals. I also have a few important announcements to make at the end, so I do hope you stick around until then!

This has been Ryan from Games with Coffee, reminding you with kindness and respect to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing.

The Guide on Being a Mature, Distinguished Gamer: Part 2 – Failure, Success and The Gaming Mindset

Hello and welcome to another edition of Games with Coffee!

This is Part 2 of The Guide on Being a Mature Distinguished Gamer! In our previous edition, I discussed about priorities. If you’ve missed Part 1, please check it out here.

Today, I’m going to share some thoughts on success, failure, the importance of maintaining a gaming mindset and the value experience of any kind brings. I spoke about something similar in an earlier post when I started a brand new position a year and a half ago. Now, I feel that I can expand and elaborate on this further. You can read the original post here.

Finally, I’ll speak of a philosophy that I’ve recently embraced; the notion that the majority of people around you remember the starting point and the end of your journey, not the journey itself. It basically means that only the journeyer will recognize and appreciate the path one takes from start to finish, no one else. It’s highly relevant to this discussion, so I’ll cover that here.

Without further ado, let’s start the second part of The Guide on Being a Mature, Distinguished Gamer.

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Failure and success. Those two words are associated with strong feelings, actions and messages for all kinds of people. Growing up, we are told repeatedly that success is what matters and failure is something to be avoided altogether. This messaging is so prevalent, parents are literally doing whatever they can to prevent their children from feeling any sort of failure whatsoever, with dire consequences as a result.

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It’s not a scary word people!

The thing is, we need to take risks and feel failure from time to time. Sure, it’s hard to deal with when it happens, but it’s important because failure is how we get better. It’s how we as people grow and learn. Continued success is both unsustainable and impractical to happen consistently. Furthermore, if you’re constantly successful, you’re missing out on opportunities to learn and grow as a person; success creates stagnation, but failure can provide a new path forward.

Accepting the cyclical nature of success and failure comes down to the mindset. And a mindset I’ve adopted and made my own is the Gaming Mindset.

Success, Failure and The Gaming Mindset

Level 1-1. Super Mario Bros. This iconic level showcases just how accessible video games can really be. As my good friend, The Well Red Mage, discussed in his #magecrit of the legendary title, Level 1-1 was designed in a way to teach players how the game and its mechanics work. It also actively encouraged players to experiment and make mistakes. With each drop into a pit or strike from a Goomba or Koopa Troopa came one more opportunity to learn and adjust for the next time. At the end of the level, players should be familiar with the basics of the game and also should have the confidence to tackle the challenges ahead of them.

Image result for super mario bros gif

Do-do doo do-do DOO do…

What if I told you that that specific level can act as a metaphor for teaching the importance of the cyclical nature of success and failure?

Playing video games allows for individuals to make risky decisions and actively learn from their mistakes in order to win. Gamers play the game, they fail at something, re-evaluate what went wrong and try again, repeating until they pass the challenge, all while never giving up. To me, that sums up what a gaming mindset is.

The Mature, Distinguished Gamer (MDG) adapts this mindset to everyday life.

Let’s say you work in an industry where you engage directly with clients and one day you make a mistake that damages your relations with one of them. The MDG should be able to recognize where they went wrong, apologize for the transgression and adjust for the next time. Recognizing and learning from your failures, like adjusting the timing to jump and land on that tricky platform, helps you to become better for the next time.

The gaming mindset can also be expanded to new things, like learning a skill or starting a new opportunity. If you think about it, when a game introduces a new mechanic, you’re treated to a tutorial on how to use it. It’ll take some time, but eventually you will master it and adapt it to a numerous amount of situations. The same can be said about learning new skills in the real world: one only needs to learn and master the basics before applying them in a myriad number of ways.

Quite possibly the best examples of the above in gaming has to be the moment when Link receives the Runes in Breath of the Wild. The major runes are introduced in the first four shrines that rise out of the Great Plateau. In each of these shrines, Link obtains the rune and is then presented with different scenarios in which he must learn and master the basics of how the rune works to progress. Along the journey however, the game subtly hints that these runes can be used in completely unorthodox ways, like using Magnesis on metal boxes to use as a makeshift weapon, or using Stasis to launch yourself across vast distances. What Breath of the Wild teaches is that, by mastering the basics, any skill or tool can be used to achieve greater heights.

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And by “achieve greater heights” I mean doing silly stuff like this!

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Or cool stuff like this!

And in the below case, I mean literally achieving greater heights:

What the gaming mindset also does is give the chance to take catastrophe and turn it into a learning opportunity. Because as the saying goes:

What Doesn’t Kill You, Gives You EXP

Before we continue, I have to give credit where its due: I got this header from a post by the venerable Kim from Later Levels! She’s written a great series on older gamers that can practically be a complement to this series: a lot of what she and others in the WordPress Gaming comunity have said in these two posts espouse the attitudes and beliefs an MDG should hold. Check out Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

With any success or failure comes experience that can be used when a similar situation emerges later on. As demonstrated by every RPG in existence, experience is only obtained after something happens, whether it’s good or bad (or from a random encounter). It’s up to the MDG to analyze, interpret and meditate on the experience they’ve obtained in order to grow, learn and ultimately level up.

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Ah, good ol’ stat growth. It’s what experience gives you.

I can speak of the many, many failures I’ve endured in my near decade as a design engineer. The position itself requires one to be vigilant on the littlest of details and I struggled mightily with that as I’ve been more of a big picture kind of person. However, what I learned and what experience I gained as a designer has helped me in my current role as a field inspector. I’m able to point out fine details on a job site that would have otherwise been overlooked by contractors constructing the space. I wouldn’t have had that unless I failed consistently and learned from the experience that these failures gave me. Which brings me to my final point:

The Journey Itself

“The only person who will appreciate the journey itself, is the one taking the journey in the first place. Most others remember only the beginning of your journey and the end of it.”

So what exactly am I talking about here? Well, it’s more of a philosophy I’ve recently embraced. I’ll give you an example of how it works:

In Final Fantasy I, at the start of the game, four characters with Orbs/Crystals of the elements approach the King of Cornelia. He requests that you rescue his daughter to prove yourself as the Warriors of Light.

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At the end, when the princess is rescued, the King and his subjects are overjoyed and they reward you by rebuilding the bridge to the next land.

However, neither the King nor his subjects would have seen the work the four Warriors put in to accomplish the feat. No one but them would appreciate the effort they put into arming themselves, stockpiling provisions and training against Goblins, Crazy Horses and sometimes Wolves until they were strong enough to defeat Garland.

 

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Yeah, right buddy.

In fact, these Light Warriors endure many difficulties throughout their journey and the people of the world reap the rewards that they sow without truly seeing just what it took for them to accomplish what they did. The most they would recall would be when they arrived in their bleakest moment and when their town or castle was liberated from the forces of evil. The same can be said for the MDG working in their choice of trade.

Whether it’s a design for a very important client, a program or an app to better lives, a service to be provided to help those in need or even something like preparing for post-secondary education, it’s the experiences you take away during the journey that you’ll truly cherish. It’s also something that many people would not notice unless they were paying close attention. Working hard, making mistakes and failing and sometimes even disappointing others only helps to make you stronger and that much better for the next time. Nobody else can or will really see that but you, except in very specific circumstances. So appreciate the journey, accept the highs and lows that come with it and ultimately, don’t worry about what people on the sidelines say. They won’t be able to fathom the amount of work you put in every day without actually being there for the ride.


And here ends Part 2. What do you think? What kinds of successes or failures have helped you grow as a person? What games have you played that made you think about how you process success and failure? And what sorts of journeys have you gone through that no one else but you would have appreciated? Discuss in the comments below, or on Twitter!

See you all in Part 3: Respect, Empathy and Kindness! This has been Ryan from Games with Coffee, always reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing.

The Guide on Being a Mature, Distinguished Gamer: Part 1 – Priorities

Good morning and welcome to another edition of Games with Coffee.

So, I’ve kinda slipped up on the blog here, in regards to updates and what not. The busyness of life has kept me away from maintaining a strict schedule (or any schedule at all, really). However, I’m not treating it as a bad thing to be honest; rather, the time off has allowed me to really think about the direction of this site and the direction where I’m currently heading in as a person.

Oh, now don’t be alarmed: This site and I aren’t going anywhere! However, I realized I had to make some decisions about the quality and quantity of the writing I produce here on Games with Coffee.

A Mature, Distinguished Gamer recognizes that sometimes, you can’t get everything you want done, no matter how hard you try. Time, unfortunately, is limited and one can only stretch themselves so thinly on many things to the point where progress on said things grinds to a complete halt. The example being the mini-series I promised to write about.

Three years now, I’ve been trying to define what makes a Mature, Distinguished Gamer. Almost three years now, I failed. Partially because I was embarrassed – Who’d listen to a guy wax on about being a responsible adult who plays video games? Partially because of lack of motivation – it is super hard to summon the energy at the end of the day to write when all you want to do is plop down on the couch and play some Moonlighter or God of War or even some retro games. And partially because I feel overwhelmed with so much to do and so many experiences to behold. I’ve found it hard to fit the time in to do this series justice.

So here I am, trying once again to define the tagline for this very site. We’ll start this series on an issue that should be on the top of the Mature Distinguished Gamer’s mind (and is certainly on mine for most of the time): Prioritization.

And now, without further ado, this is The Guide on Being a Mature Distinguished Gamer.

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One aspect of being a Mature Distinguished Gamer (Abbreviated to MDG for the remainder of the series) is the importance of prioritization. There are always times when one just wants to play video games, but responsibility – whether it’s to your job, your family or some other commitment you’ve made – always takes precedent before that fact. And even then, sometimes one takes on more responsibilities that one can handle – a thing all too common with our current generation of hustlers spouting tags like #HustleCulture, #AlwaysBusy and #TeamNoSleep.

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It’s even on a T-Shirt!

Let’s face facts: When you’re over-prioritized with several things that need to be addressed right this second, mistakes may happen, people may be let down, promises may be broken and nobody ends up winning at the end of the day, regardless of if you make those priorities or not. In a sense, you’re not only hurting others, you’re also hurting yourself.

I’m guilty of over-prioritizing a bunch of things, only to find them falling off the wayside when I eventually cannot make those tight deadlines. However, I’ve started to learn and master the subtle art of deflection and delegation and the difference an objective list can make in tackling the backlog monster.

Deflect and Delegate

In the same way that Fox’s Reflector Shield in Super Smash Bros. deflects projectiles aimed at him and delegates it back to the attacking party, so too can you deflect and delegate tasks to others when possible in order to maintain your priorities.

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The visual equivalent to “I’m sorry, I have enough on my plate right now. Could you please try someone else?”

Obviously, this predicates on the fact that you’ll need to be in an environment that fosters an amicable level of teamwork, whether it’s at home, work or wherever. Nevertheless, the MDG should recognize when they can do it alone or when they can delegate some tasks to that backup mage or warrior in their party. That isn’t to say that one should throw all of their tasks at others entirely, but to recognize that when you’re in over your head and the priority items keep piling up, you just have to ask for assistance. As I always say: “All you can do is all you can do. When you need to do more, ask for help!”

As for the deflecting part of the equation, the MDG is not adverse in assisting others. However, when assistance is preventing you from getting your own stuff done, then it becomes a big problem. In any case, it’s perfectly and reasonably acceptable to say no and deflect the request back to the requester. Chances are, they’ll delegate it to another person or do it themselves. There are also chances that the person may guilt you into doing so. Unless it’s your direct supervisor asking you to place this at the top of your priority list, do not back down and be firm in your denial. Cave once, and you’ll be doing others’ bidding for a long time while neglecting your own duties. I’m serious about this because I speak from experience.

Priorities: Breaking Them Down & Checking Them Off

Well, asking for help and delegating tasks are great things to do, but you will still have tasks for yourself remaining to do at the end of the day, and those things are on a priority sequence. So what does one do in this situation? How would you get it done?

My solution: Checklists. But there’s more to it than that.

In every modern RPG or open world adventure, you are given a quest either as a part of the story or as a sidequest from an NPC that you must accomplish. But have you ever noticed that the quest itself is broken down into small, measurable chunks and gave you clear direction on what you need to accomplish in order to complete the quest?

Did you know you could apply that to your current situation, whether its a critical report, a ton of housework or some other huge task to accomplish? Well, you can! In fact, breaking down large tasks into smaller chunks helps to overcome that overwhelming feeling you get when you are faced with a daunting task. It’s especially helpful for those who have ADHD (like myself), where any task seems monumental, regardless of the size.

So, how is this accomplished, you ask? It’s as simple as taking a task that you normally do, breaking it down to its primary components and then writing each of those components on a sheet of paper or on an app to track. Make sure that the components are clearly defined and easy to follow. From there, start with the first small task and go down the list. Before you know it, you’ll have finished your quest and can tackle the next one that’s on the priority sequence. Once you get the hang of it, it become much easier to plan out your approach when you’re under the gun. Plus, drawing and marking off the little check boxes are both fun and satisfying to accomplish.

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Here’s an example! Checking off those boxes feels so satisfying!

One Other Thing

A final thing to recognize is the importance of consequences. In a video game, there are no major consequences to delay a side quest for a long period of time. Even when you fail, the most that happens is a conciliatory statement from the requester and an opportunity to replay the quest. In the real world, it’s a different story. Consequences can include losing opportunities due to being unreliable, loss of trust in your ability to accomplish tasks and, most significantly, doubt as to your convictions to your chosen craft or to the people most important to you. These things are some of the most daunting obstacles to overcome and are why prioritization is a skill paramount for the MDG to learn. After all, while we can escape the real world at times by delving into the worlds we love, we can and should use the mechanics within them to make our lives in the real world much more easier.


And there’s Part 1 of our series. Part 2 delves into success, failure and managing a beginner’s mindset, a topic I broached in a post nearly two years ago. (You can check it out here). I’ll talk a bit more about how to keep having a beginner’s mindset even when you’re at your lowest point. Part 3 will go in depth into kindness, empathy and respect for others and finally, Part 4 will touch upon goals. At the end of it all, I have some important announcements to make, so I hope you’ll stay tuned until then.

With that said, how did you like the first part of this series? Are these strategies helpful in any way? What strategies do you have when it comes to setting priorities? I’d really like to know as I’m always looking for new things to try. Drop a line in the comments or on Twitter to discuss!

So, to you fellow Mature, Distinguished Gamers, I bid you farewell and I’ll hopefully see you at Part 2 of our series! This has been Ryan from Games with Coffee, reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing.

“A Hopeful and Hyperactive Discussion About The SEGA AGES Collection” – A Retrospective on the Discussion

Good morning and welcome to another edition of Games with Coffee!

It’s been just over a year since I had a fantastic conversation with the Hopeful Sega Mage (@carrythegary) about the SEGA AGES Collection on The Well Red Mage. We talked about the games and the numerous features we would like to see from each game in the collection.

Read: “A Hopeful and Hyperactive Discussion About The SEGA AGES Collection”

To celebrate this, I wanted to do a short retrospective on a few games of the collection, in terms of what features have been added to the games. So far, a bunch of games have been released, including but not limited to the following:

  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Phantasy Star
  • Thunder Force IV
  • Virtua Racer
  • Alex Kidd in Miracle World

What’s impressive is the dearth of features M2 added to each of these games. You have your typical ones, like online leaderboards, the ability to put on a CRT scanline filter and the like, but each game has additional modes of play. Some haven’t been released on a digital platform until today, like Sonic the Hedgehog’s Mega Play arcade version; a significantly more challenging version of Sonic 1 released in arcades.

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Leading off with Sonic 1, available features include the use of the Spin Dash and the Drop Dash, introduced in Sonic Mania. Two challenge modes – Score and Time Attacks – are available with leaderboard support. Time Attack plays through normal Sonic, but Score Attack uses the Mega Play version and gives you one life to maximize your score as much as possible. Finally, players can switch between the Japanese and International versions of the game.

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Phantasy Star has tons of neat gameplay tweaks built into it that alters the game in many ways. Players can play the game as originally intended or they can play the new Ages Mode, which reduces the encounter rate while bumping up experience and gold earned from fights. Additionally, dungeons are mapped, significantly reducing the rate at which players would get lost (due to the way dungeons operate in this game). Players also get a help screen to show what items do and what the truncated names of these items stand for. Finally, players can switch between the Japanese and North American soundtracks, which seems to be pretty awesome.

It appears that the Sega Ages line is going to continue on strongly, what with the announcement that Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is getting the Ages treatment. I’m personally hoping for a Special Stage mode featuring tons of alternate special stages, similar to the Blue Spheres bonus game.

What about you guys? Have anything from the Sega Ages collection? What are you liking about it so far? And what would you like to see in the future? Drop a line in the comments or reach out to me on Twitter!

Getting my nostalgia fix in, this has been Ryan from Games with Coffee, reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing.