Beans and Screens Ep. 4 – Enter Team Star Fox!

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to another episode of Beans and Screens here on Games with Coffee! I’m your host, Ryan.

Woo, it’s been a minute since we last aired an episode here huh? I’ve decided to number these babies, so we’re at… number four now? I think?

The last few months of 2018 have been quite insane and have left me little time to find new guests for the show. Thankfully, the Christmas break has given me some opportunity to invite a bunch of interesting characters to be interviewed. I traveled far and wide, searching high and low. And, in this particular case, beyond the skies and stars themselves. Which leads me to today’s featured guests on the show:

They are a crack team of space faring mercenaries piloting advanced starcrafts known as Arwings. The team consists of a veteran pilot, a technical expert, an ace flyer and their leader who inherited this team from his late father. Together, these four protect the Lylat system from a variety of threats including, but not limited to, evil scientists, parasitic hive-minded organisms, raging dinos and the occasional crime boss or two. They’ve even recently assisted the Starlink Initiative with liberating the Atlas System from the grip of the Legion. And today, they’ve taken time off of their busy schedules to talk with me about their recent adventures!

Everyone, put your hands, paws, feathers and other appendages together and join me in welcoming… Peppy Hare, Slippy Toad, Falco Lombardi and Fox McCloud of Team Star Fox!

*The audience erupts in raucous cheers as four anthropomorphic animals walk onto the set, waving to the crowd. Fox McCloud stops mid way and throws a quick salute and a smirk to the audience, which only serves to intensify the cheers and applause. The other three members make their way to the two guest couches.

Fox soon joins them and they all sit down. Fox is sitting with Falco, who has been smiling cockily at the audience the entire time. Peppy shares a seat with Slippy, who gazes wide-eyed at the stage and the audience with all the wonderment of a child.*

Ryan: Welcome to the show! I’m so glad you’re all here, I’m sure the audience is more than ecstatic that you all are here –

*Audience erupts in loud cheers.*

R: Woah, hey all, settle down! *motions the crowd to settle down* We have an interview to start here!

Fox: Thanks for having us here today.

Slippy: Yeah, this sure beats getting shot at!

Falco: You’re only getting shot at because you rush headfirst into a dogfight only to get overwhelmed. And then one of us has to save your hide from getting blasted out of the sky.

Peppy: *To Slippy* Slip, I hate to admit it, but Falco’s right. You need to exercise some patience and restraint. You should carefully assess your surroundings and trust your-

Slippy: Fooox! They’re ganging up on me!

Fox: *Looks at his three teammates.* Knock it off, boys, we’re in a professional setting here! *Turns to me.* Sorry about that, they can get a bit rowdy at times. But they’re the best teammates a guy could ever ask for.

R: *Laughs.* Well, you all certainly get along with one another well! That’s good to see. So, let’s start this off right: Anything to drink? Water, tea, juice? Coffee perhaps? 

Fox: Coffee for me, please.

Slippy: I’ll take some water!

Falco: Got anything with alcohol?

R: *shakes head* Sorry pal, no dice. Apparently, it’s in my contract to not serve alcohol on set. My hands are tied.

Falco: Tch, fine. Coffee for me too.

Peppy: Water, if you don’t mind. These old bones can’t handle coffee the way they used to.

R: On it! *Digs behind the couch and produces four bottles of water, a percolator, ground coffee and three mugs. Handing two of the bottles to Slippy and Peppy, I prep the coffee* Now that that’s going on, how’s about you tell us what you all have been up to lately?

Fox: Well, Falco and I were invited to participate in the Smash Ultimate Invitational Tournament.

R: Oh, nice!

Falco: Yeah, except for the fact that it was all a trap set by Galeem, some Lord of Light, or whatever. *Scoffs.* More like the Lord of Losers. Seriously, those spirits were hardly a challenge.

Peppy: Says the guy who was royally embarrassed in that Geno spirit fight! *Laughs.*

Falco: *Muttering.* Zip it, old man…

Fox: Anyways, before that, me and the boys here were on the hunt for a guy by the name of Wolf O’Donnell, leader of the Star Wolf mercenary team –

Slippy: Our eternal rivals!

Fox: *continuing as though Slippy didn’t interrupt.* – who went into hiding some time after our last encounter on Venom. A while back, Slippy picked up a faint transmission from a nearby star system called Atlas. It was a bit of a garbled mess, but Slip managed to untangle enough of it to determine that Wolf was in that part of the galaxy for a particular reason.

Peppy: And not a good one at that.

Fox: Turns out, he found some sort of ancient alien technology and planned to take it back to Lylat. Now, normally we wouldn’t be concerned with something like this – Andross was dead and gone, Wolf was out of our hair in another system far away and Lylat was at peace. But there were two things that made this pretty fishy.

Slippy: One – this is Wolf we’re talking about. He’s always up to no good and I bet he’s out looking for revenge. We really screwed up his operation when Andross and his goons tried to take over the Lylat system.

Falco: And two – That alien technology might not be so friendly, considering point one.

Fox: So, we decided to head out to this Atlas system and find out what Wolf was up to.

R: Woah, that’s crazy. So, you guys get to Atlas, tell us what happened next?

Peppy: Well, we get to this system and wouldn’t you know it, we get dragged into a skirmish between this space exploration crew calling themselves the Starlink Initiative and some tough looking drone fighters. We sat on the sidelines watching until Fox has the crazy idea to join in and help them out.

Fox: What can I say? I couldn’t just sit there and watch? It looked like they could use our help, anyway. *Shrugs*

Peppy: *Places a hand on his head, massages his temples and sighs. Looks back to Fox.* You’re just like your father, Fox. *Smiles at him.*

Fox: *Smirks.* Anyway, we fended them off, but not before the enemy got in a last shot. The enemy rammed a small interceptor into the hull of Starlink’s flagship, the Equinox, stole the ships main power core and kidnapped their captain. The loss of the power core sent all of us heading towards a planet called Kirite.

R: Wait… How is that possible?

Slippy: The power core that the Equinox uses is really unique. Any ship that’s tethered to the core’s energy signature leeches off of it in order to accomplish interstellar travel at nearly the speed of light. So naturally, if the core is lost, then our ships can’t achieve flight. It doesn’t mean we can’t move though, since we could use the ship’s own power to activate the null-gravs and skirt along the planet’s surface.

R: But how did it affect your ships then?

Slippy: It seems like when we entered the fight, the Arwing’s engines synchronized with the Equinox’s core. So, when the core was stolen, our ships were affected as a result, despite the technology being vastly different from one another.

Falco: I dunno Slip, it seems like one huge and convenient plot mechanic or something.

Slippy: *Shrugs at Peppy* Well, that’s the explanation Mason gave me when we did a diagnostic on our ships after the Equinox was fixed?

Fox: In any case, we crash landed on Kirite and we had to gather up a valuable substance called Nova to restore power to the mothership. Once that was done, the folks at Starlink were kind enough to help modify our Arwings to use their technology, as well as help us track down Wolf. We, in turn, assisted them in fighting off the Legion and their leader, Grax.

R: Grax? *Pours coffee into three mugs, hands two to Falco and Fox.*

Falco: Yeah, this whacko obsessed with an ancient civilization called the Wardens, or something. They created the Legion using that Nova energy and now Grax was using them to take over Atlas. Go figure. *Adds half-and-half, stirs and takes a sip.*

Fox: With the Legion, Grax took over all the planets within the Atlas system and we were the only ones capable of stopping them. With Starlink, we traveled to each world, liberated them from Legion control and established an alliance with the residents to prevent the Legion from taking back control. All while we researched a way to get to Grax’s stronghold. *Doesn’t add anything and takes a sip*

Peppy: On top of that, we sniffed out Wolf’s trail and found that he’s made a few buddies before we showed up. It seems that they were assisting him with transporting Legion tech back to Atlas. That included developing his own Spindrive for faster than light travel.

R: I see. That must have been quite the experience. What were some of the best parts about this journey that you can tell us?

Slippy: *Grins* I think the best part was all the exploration we got to do! Atlas is covered with lots of flora and fauna. Plus, the Warden technology was really interesting to research. It really helped stimulate the mind. Did you know that none of the planets in the Atlas system rotate?! They’re all set in a fixed position, which is really weird! The Explorers believe that the Warden’s may have been involved with that, among all the other weird things on each planet. Like Kirite used to be an ocean planet before a supposed Warden terraforming accident turned it into a desert, and-

Falco: OK Slip, calm down buddy. *Shakes head.* As for the best part about this trip: I’d say the dogfights. There’s something about taking down a bogey that really sends a tingle down my feathers. Oh, and ruining Wolf’s parade. *Chuckles.* Ahh… the look on his face when Fox took down his ship full of Warden tech, it was priceless!

Fox: *Smirks at Falco.* Yeah, that was pretty fun, actually. *Turns to me.* I’d say that helping out the citizens of Atlas was rewarding in of itself. Getting to know the folks at Starlink was a treat as well.

Peppy: Mmhmm, that’s right. Best bunch of flyers I’ve seen since my days flying by your dad’s side, Fox. What I enjoyed was meeting the citizens. They’re a hardy lot; surviving out there in some of the harshest conditions imaginable, exploring every corner, either for science or for riches… I respect that.

R: That’s awesome! OK, now that I’ve gotten the obligatory stuff out of the way, allow me to say this one thing: I’m still freaking out that you guys are actually here! The legendary Team Star Fox! Here! On my set! I mean, you’re exploits are legendary here on Earth! Even before you met Starlink!

*The four members bow their head sheepishly, flattered as the audience cheers loudly.* 

Fox: Again, thanks for having us here, we’re glad we have a lot of fans here on Earth.

Slippy: Yeah, you humans are pretty cool!

Falco: Eh, they’re not bad.

Peppy: *Nods in agreement.* Mm-hmm.

R: *After the audience settles down.* OK, so what’s next on the docket, team?

Fox: *Laughs.* Well, we plan on returning home. I think General Pepper – the leader of the Cornerian Army – might have some new work for us. But other than that, it would be nice to kick back and relax for a ch-

*Suddenly, a shrill beeping noise cut off Fox mid-sentence. He digs into his pocket and pulls out a square device.*

Fox: Ah, sorry about that, I have to take this. *Fox activates the device. A hologram of a gold robot with a thin, rectangular head, a thin, visor-like red eye and a lantern jaw with slats running vertically where its mouth would be.* Hey ROB, what’s up?

ROB64: *In monotone.* I have received a message. Sender is unknown.

Fox: Alright, play it back for us.

ROB64: Affirmative.

*The screen flickers as the video playback begins. Mason Rana appears on screen. He looks agitated.*

Mason: Hey Fox, it’s been a while? By the time you get this message, I think about a week or two of Earth time may have passed, but anyway. *He lets out a deep sigh.* OK.

Look, we’ve picked up some chatter along the outskirts of Atlas, near the Dark Sector. Normally, I wouldn’t bother you with this sort of thing but… It involves your old enemy Wolf. Give this a listen.

*Mason plays an audio recording.*

Wolf *on recording.*: Hmph, so you lot finally decided to show up, eh? About time.

Peppy: *Stands abruptly.* What the heck? I thought we showed Wolf the door-

Leon *on recording.*: I’m so sorry we’re late. You didn’t exactly give us clear instructions on how to get here.

Andrew *on recording.*: Yeah, what gives? Do you know how hard it was to find a warp space gate not controlled by the Cornerian army?

Wolf *on recording.*: Shut it! Look… there’s been a setback to the plan, but the tech described in Andross’ research does exist. Almost had my hands on it too until that whelp got in the way…

Pigma*on recording.*: Fox again? That no good, boy scout daddy’s boy? Well, grease my-

Leon *on recording.*: Aren’t you worried about this transmission being intercepted?

Wolf*on recording.*: Let ’em. I want Fox to hear this. I’m not leaving this system empty-handed, nor am I gonna let him and his team get away with humiliating me. I will have my revenge. Meet me at these coordinates. It’s time to go to work.

*The recording ends here.*

Mason: That’s what we picked up. *Sighs.* I got a bad feeling about this. I hope this message gets to you sooner than later. See ya Star Fox.

ROB64: That is the end of the recording.

Fox: Thanks ROB.

Falco: Fox, this smells like a trap.

Fox: *Nods.* I agree. But we can’t let them bring the Warden tech back to Lylat. *To me.* Sorry Ryan, we’ll have to cut this interview short. ROB, prepare the Great Fox! Boys, let’s move out!

*Fox and the gang get up, wave to the crowd and swiftly head backstage. A few moments later, the roar of engines could be heard as four starfighters launched into the stratosphere.*

R: …Well, there they go, out to save the galaxy once again! Thanks for being here guys! Hope to see you back here again soon!

Well, another day, another episode completed. Audience, what do you think, was that rad or what?!

*Audience cheers loudly.*

And to you reading this, I hope you enjoyed it as well! If you want more, drop a line in the comments or send out a tweet on who else you want me to hunt down and share a coffee with! Let me know also what you liked, what you didn’t like or if you want to say hi!

My next episode will hopefully feature an awesome guest I’ve been dying to interview for some time! I’m telling ya, it’s gonna be electric! Beyond that, keep an eye on the Twitter feed: I’ll be sharing some sneak peeks of future guests at random, so if you’re not following me, you’d better do so!

With that, I’m signing off! You’ve been a great audience! See ya next time on the next episode of Beans and Screens!

Beans and Screens – Daniel Flatt, The Mail Order Ninja Mage!

*This interview has been edited for clarity, but definitely not for conciseness…*

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Beans and Screens! I’m your host, Ryan.

Most times, shows like these start with me going through some sort of monologue, but there’s two problems: 1) Monologuing is not really my strong point (I tend to ramble) and 2) we don’t have the budget for it. So, let’s go right into today’s guest on the show!

He’s a father of two wonderful children that is happily married to the love of his life, a hardcore gamer who plays every system, an anime fan, martial artist and an avid reader, writer, and consumer of most things that can be defined as geeky. His 90 WPS typing speed allows him to churn out content at blazing speeds, of which I’m super jealous about! (Just kidding!). Combined together, they form a super geeky but amazing individual, not unlike the defender of the universe, Voltron.

He is the owner of the blog, Home Button Gaming, a fellow Mage, a sparkling conversationalist and a totally awesome guy to hang out and talk gaming with, please welcome to the stage, Daniel Flatt, the Mail Order Ninja Mage!!!

*Applause and cheers fill the studio as Daniel enters the stage wearing his Ninja Mage Garb. Despite his imposing height and build, he comes on with a good natured, goofy smile on his impressively bearded face. The studios lights reflect perfectly off of his polished bald head and accidentally blinds an audience member.*

*Daniel takes his seat on the couch amid the cries from the blinded audience member (“My eyes!”). He leans back and makes himself comfortable. The cheers start to die down as the interview commences*

Ryan: Welcome to the show! It’s an honor to have you here today to plumb the depths of your psyche. But first, anything to drink? Tea, beer, soda… Coffee perhaps?

Daniel: *Pats his considerable stomach* Just water for me, I’m trying to ‘drop the LBs’ as the hip young kids say nowadays.

R. Great! Just gotta dig behind my seat here, mini-fridge is behind it. *Digs up a bottle of water and places it on the table.* And this is the reason why we can’t afford a monologue!

Right, so besides the awesome intro I belted out, let’s get a little personal here: tell us a bit about yourself?

D. Whoa boy, that is quite the open question isn’t it?

You pretty much nailed the highlights about me, but I’m happy to reiterate. I consider myself a gamer and geek as self definition, but what defines me most is likely the fact that I’m a married father of two, as my children come first in everything I do. I’ve been dabbling quite a bit in writing again after a long hiatus from it, and am currently trying to bring more attention to Home Button as my primary gaming blog, since gaming is the hobby I’m most passionate about. I’d love to turn it into a career someday, but that is pie-in-the-sky kind of stuff.

I do have two other blogs though, one that focuses on all of my writing outside of gaming, and another that I just started that is designed to motivate me to lose weight. Outside of that I’ve started back to Tae Kwon Do after 17 years away, and in between all of that I’m juggling a full time job.

Not really an exciting life per say, but it certainly keeps me more than a little busy.

R: It definitely sounds like it! How you’re able to do all that with two kids is pretty inspiring. I have a son and he’s practically everything to me, so I can see where you’re coming from!

So, fun fact: I’ve also practiced martial arts! I was a blue stripe in Tae Kwon Do and a yellow belt in Karate! I had to give it up after I got married, but I try to keep practicing at home so I don’t get too rusty. Might I ask what rank were you when you left?

D: Awesome! It is always cool to meet a fellow practitioner. I never was really into sports growing up, but Tae Kwon Do was immediately satisfying to me on a number of levels. It is a long story really that involves a con-artist, but I only ever got my green belt certificate from Korea, even though I was higher than that.

Either way my son joined recently, and I guess my wife caught the longing looks I had when he was in class. One day I took him to the Dojang and they had a uniform ready for me, and my wife had paid for a full month. Call it a mid-life crisis if you must, but I must say it has felt like recapturing a bit of who I used to be.

I had to start over as a white belt because I forgot a lot of the forms, but coming up through the ranks with my son should be a memory he will cherish forever. I know I certainly will!

R: Wow that is so sweet of your family to do that! What I admire about martial arts of any kind is that it teaches modesty, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit and it’s great that you and your son can experience that together. It will make both of you stronger physically and mentally!

Now, regarding your blog, Home Button Gaming – what got you to start it and what’s the significance of the name?

D: I’ve actually worked as a very modestly paid part-time writer for video games before, but that was almost six years ago now, and I really missed it. I had disagreed with a lot that went on the site, and had always wanted to try my hand at my own site, but there was always some sort of excuse there.

Not to be a downer, but my father passed away suddenly in October of 2017, and after recovering from some of the shock I realized the cliche about life being horribly short was all too real. I found myself realizing I was sleep walking through life, using my age and children as an excuse to not try. Regardless of a chance to fail, I started writing again and doing Tae Kwon Do, things I used to love, but found reasons not to have the time for.

So I started the blog back in January, with an ultimate goal of maybe making a career out of gaming in some form, though I knew it was probable that it would never happen. The surest way to fail though is to never try, so why not give it a shot? In the interim I love writing and sharing my passion on gaming, so I really couldn’t find a reason not to.

The name was simply wanting to find something that was related to video gaming, without being confined to one device. I believe in playing all the systems with none of the fanboy nonsense, and things like The Start Button were taken. However, nowadays every platform has a Home Button of sorts, and believe it or not their weren’t any gaming sites already claiming the name.

R: It’s interesting that you bring up your dad, he’s a subject of another question I have later on in this interview. I’m especially intrigued at your realization that you were coasting through life; not many people can admit that, so I applaud your self awareness. I’m also glad you made the decision to give writing another shot because without it, we wouldn’t be sitting here today and I wouldn’t have gotten to know such an inspiring fella! The term “Home Button” for some reason also makes me think of home and family itself and I like the focus on a family of systems and games as opposed to focusing on one console or one type of game. It’s very refreshing to see!

One of the things I like about your blog are your Photo Mode posts, they are very creative! *Turns to the audience* I have here some of my favourites if you want to take a look:

Pirate Brothers

A Journey Begun

A Champion’s Embrace

Lost Beauty

Reflected Glory

Adventure’s Bend

Mountain Mist

*Turns back to Daniel* So what made you want to start them anyway?

D: *Blushes a bit* I don’t know that I would say all of the inspiring bit.

One of the most wonderful things about gaming is its ability to transport us to fantastical worlds, or even places on this Earth we may not get to venture to. Just like spectacular views or stunning backdrops in real life I feel that these moments created by digital artists should be shared. Not only that, but each screenshot I take tells some story, and it is fun to go back through them like a digital journal of sorts.

I’ve always wanted to be a digital photographer of sorts, but before this current generation of hardware that took additional tools in order to do so. Now that sharing screenshots is built in to all of the current gen consoles, it became easier than ever to take shots of the wonders we see when playing through a game. Sharing them may be a little strange, because I can’t take credit for creating these wonderful moments. However, we can’t take credit for the beauty we see in nature either, we can just photograph and share it.

Photo modes especially in games are the most wonderful thing, because it allows me to move the camera, remove characters, and otherwise play with the shots. The coolest thing about sharing these shots I think is for people that may not have played the game, or may never play games period, to let them see the beauty inherent in some of these video games. It was nearly criminal that we didn’t get a photo mode in Breath of the Wild, but I did the best I could capturing my favorite places and moments in that game regardless.

I have something like 400 screenshots on my PS4, and over 2500 on my Switch. The Switch especially makes it so easy to capture moments, but because sharing them requires a little more work I’ve gotten a little lazy with it lately. The Xbox is pretty easy to share through their app, but to take a photo with out the Kinect takes some doing. On the other hand the PS4 has a lot of games that have photo mode, but sharing through their program is currently very difficult, so I hate to say that Photo Mode has slowed to a trickle lately.

Funny you should ask about Photo Mode though, I’m committed to uploading a ton of shots this weekend, so people should look forward to that coming back. I also have plans for some Photo Mode community events coming up, possibly even competitions, so people that are interested can look forward to that also. Sorry, that was a bit of a long winded answer! *Laughs*

R: No problem! I’m especially glad the Photo Mode posts are making a return! I loved the concept and it’s inspired me to pay closer attention to my surroundings in games just in case I get an opportunity to take the perfect screen capture. I’m stoked to hear that they’re may be Photo Mode Competitions in the near future! I’m definitely gonna sign up for one!

Another segment of yours that I enjoy is the Weekend Whatcha Playing. It always makes me consider to myself “Hm, what AM I playing this weekend?” *Strokes chin in thought*

Let’s talk about a few specific games now. You’ve recently got into a spat with the Well-Red Mage regarding the latest Pokemon release, Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee for the Switch. As I understand, your vehemence against the games was quite severe; care to tell us what got you so riled up?

D: *Smacks forehead playfully* Oh man, this was something of an embarrassment for me. To be honest, I had a knee jerk reaction to the original trailer. Funny thing is that I don’t really even play Pokemon, but I was really looking forward to something deeper on this iteration, as were a lot of fans. You remember earlier I said that I play all consoles? Well that is true, but I certainly favor experiences from Nintendo in a lot of ways. I have this strange thing with Nintendo that I don’t get with any other platform, and that is that I really want to like everything Nintendo does.

I was someone who owned a Wii and played pretty much every hardcore title they had on it, but I think they lost their way a bit chasing that “Blue Ocean” philosophy of creating new gamers with a more casual approach to gaming (i.e. Wii Music). What happened is that everyone bought one as the latest craze, but dropped it like a rock to move on to mobile gaming. You saw a lot of people buying a Wii, but with hardly any software attachment, which means people were buying the system and not buying games for it.

Nintendo went a long way to addressing some of that with the Wii U, but made other mistakes in marketing and in trying to tie it to the Wii. Those consumers had moved on, and the hardcore gamers that built their business were disgusted with them at this point. The Wii U is written off as a failure by a lot of people, but it had a ton of really good games, however it was too little too late for most people. That is why the Switch has done so fantastic, they refocused direction on the more hardcore gamer, while also having a concept that it is easy for more casual people to understand. You can take this console anywhere, it kind of sells itself.

Now here we had this trailer of something that is a clear play for more casual players and the cultural phenomenon that was Pokemon Go, and not at all the more hardcore Pokemon so many wanted. It makes perfect business sense as they can use this to possibly get new gamers interested in the franchise, but honestly how many people that downloaded a free app to be involved in a social movement are going to buy a $300 dollar device to get deeper in?

Either way I broke a cardinal rule, which is writing off something that clearly wasn’t made for me, not to mention judging a game I haven’t played by a trailer. I’ve since been informed by my daughter that we absolutely have to buy it, so that she can play her first Pokemon game. As a six year old she can’t read through the bigger games, so this is something she can drop in and out with Daddy. So maybe it is for me and my family after all.

I still can’t help but worry though about this direction meaning another move toward that “Blue Ocean” for Nintendo, after all we’ve seen it happen before, so it isn’t out of the question.

R: Gamers like us do get a lot of flak for writing off something before trying it. I recall in my youth that I would write off Mario games because they were too childish, not realizing that I missed out on some of the best platformers Nintendo had released! I do understand how you feel about Nintendo once again possibly shunning the hardcore crowd to draw in new gamers though. It’s a situation I hope Big N avoids this time around.

I also recall you were quite critical about the Nintendo Labo when it was first announced, but you made a full 180 upon trying it out with your kids. If you had the chance to go back to when you were initially critical about the product, what would you say to yourself? Do you think the same thinking should apply for the new Pokemon games as well?

D: In the case of Labo I think it was entirely on Nintendo and their withholding of a lot of information. I wasn’t extremely critical of it, I just wasn’t sure who the demographic was, and I was hesitant about the pricing. For some reason they never let anyone know the prices of replacements, if those replacements for the pieces would be available online, and for how much. In that case I assumed the worst, especially considering the cost of the initial starter packs and their refusal to comment on it.

On top of that so many people kept lauding how much creativity this would bring to the table, but this was far before we knew about Labo garage, which again they didn’t tell us about till far later. Without the garage I still think that the value proposition there is problematic, as these games are incredibly simplistic, akin to mobile games. The whole idea of learning and engineering wasn’t really ringing true, because after the initial build, then what?

Once they announced the garage I was on board, because I saw the potential there. I also should have accounted for the sheer Nintendo charm, and how much fun these things would be to build. Largely these pieces of cardboard now lie discarded in my house as I predicted, abandoned for deeper gameplay that is far more readily available, but they were novelty things that were worth the price for the experience alone.

As for Let’s Go, sometimes I get too caught up in the idea of what this does for the industry, so while I didn’t care personally, it is a worrying trend when companies push for the casual dollar. It almost never goes well for the end consumer, even when it does for the company making the money. I am still worried about how this will impact Nintendo in the future; especially since we know it will sell well just because it has the Pokemon brand on it.

Still, I need to learn to distance myself from industry impact when personally responding to news especially where Nintendo is concerned, and if the Big N fall on their face again just realize there is plenty out there that isn’t Nintendo to play. I love Nintendo, I’m extremely passionate about them and want to see them succeed, but they are a company that I’ve seen over and over take 2 steps forward and 4 back, so I’m very wary of things like Labo and Let’s Go.

R: That’s a solid answer. I too worry about Nintendo’s track record of trying to be innovative but falling on their faces (see the Virtual Boy). However I’m confident that the company will not forget it’s roots, given the lineup of games that coming out in the next few months. Which now takes us to E3… You have to agree this year’s show was pretty alright: great games, not so exciting conferences and presentations. You’ve written at length about each of the conferences, even going so far as grading their performance, but who would you say ultimately won this year’s event and why?

D: I agree with you ultimately, I think Nintendo are at a good place and the E3 lineup was very promising.

As for E3: the gamers won.

Ok, I know that is a lame answer. It is hard to say who “won” E3, because I felt all the big three did a solid job, and in this case it really came down to what games you like. If you look at all my articles side by side I gave Nintendo the best score, but I admit that is 100% my bias and my love for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

If we were grading for sheer excitement and fantastic pacing I would say Microsoft won, as they had exactly what people want from E3. However, they were a little light on exclusives we can play now, and I think they are getting ready for their next console, very similar to what Nintendo did the last year of Wii U coverage. We see how that turned out for them with Switch, so maybe Microsoft is conceding this generation in order to wow everyone in the next gen.

Sony easily had the most promising exclusives, if I had to pick a game of the show I would be hard pressed between Smash and Ghosts of Tsushima. However their pacing was really bad out of the gate, though they managed to recover and have a great show by the end. So really Microsoft put on the best conference, Sony had the best slate of exclusives present, and Nintendo had the ultimate version of one of my favorite franchises of all time.

I won’t leave you with a half way answer though, so I’ll go Microsoft. They clearly knew where they were at going in and they brought a stellar show of games. They might not have been all exclusives, but if we are talking about the sheer hype of E3 and how to put on a conference, they really did a great job.

R: “The gamer’s won.” That’s not a tacky answer, I also think it’s the truth! I mean as I once said, we are in a period of renaissance in the gaming industry. We have so many amazing games available to play in the next 6-8 months from this year’s showing and there’s virtually a great game for everyone. So it’s no stretch that we all win in the end! *Grins*

I agree that Microsoft’s conference was quite well paced. Sure, there were a lack of exclusives but the hype around a new console release in the next few years definitely made a buzz. I honestly thought Nintendo was the clear winner, simply because of the games that will be released in the near future. However, it’s as you said: we gamers are the clear winners!

Alright, I alluded to this question earlier, but now’s a good time to bring it to the forefront. I read a very powerful piece of yours surrounding the game Rime and your father’s untimely passing last year… It was extremely moving to read and I urge the audience to go and read it. You can find it here.

Daniel, I want to ask you, how difficult was this to write? I understand that you are still grieving over your loss, so I’m curious to know what inner strength allowed you to produce such a wonderful piece?

D: I’m not sure it was any sort of inner strength really. I should probably be in therapy or on medication, but in the meantime one of the very few things that makes me feel better is putting my feelings on paper, however sad they are. It is why I started a writing blog outside of Home Button, just to dump a bunch of my writing as a repository, like a digital journal. If someone reads it, great, but I don’t advertise or publish it at all typically.

Writing allows me to make my feelings physical in a way, not purging them, but getting them out in the opening. Once I write about something it is easier for me to dissect how I feel that way, so in a way it is a crutch I can lean on in these hard times.

Rime was a case of something at the exact right time, as if the universe conspired to have me experience the message at the time when I needed it most. When I had completed the game I felt sorrowful, of course, but I also felt a deep sense of a calm I hadn’t felt in months. As a light spoiler the game is about death, and the sorrow of losing someone you love. Acceptance seems like such an easy thing, after all how can you not accept the reality of a situation? However, the truth is that everything I did from then on I would only compare against when my father was alive. I kept asking myself how this happened, why it happened, replay the situation over and over again hoping for a different outcome that obviously would never come. I couldn’t believe or accept he was dead, it was easier for my subconscious to deny the trauma in a way.

R: It’s good that you did share it. I personally resonated with the post and it was the first one I thought of when my wife’s grandmother passed away recently. It helped me to understand that writing out your feelings is a critical tool to aid in the recovery process after losing someone close to you. It’s a great piece and again I urge you members of the audience to check it out!

Now let’s get back to a lighter subject: your kids. So, you’re a gaming dad with older children: a little daughter and a son approaching his teen years. And I’m a gaming dad with a 5 month old who shoves everything at arm’s length into his mouth, regardless of whether it’s edible or not. Seeing as you have been in the fatherhood game for some time and have experienced the highs and lows that it brings, what kind of advice, tips or wisdom would you be willing to share with fellow gaming dads who have younger children, like myself for instance?

D: Gaming with children presents its own joy that can also be a burden at times. At first my kids were happy holding a controller that wasn’t plugged in, but they swiftly came to understand that did nothing to control the character on the screen. Since they want to always mimic their parents, they really want to game with you, and I decided to embrace that instead of discourage it.

One of the great things about being a gaming dad is that is you can relate with the things your children love more easily. I’m always the cool Dad at any of my son’s friend’s birthday parties , because I can talk Overwatch, Minecraft, or Fortnite with the best of them. My daughter fell in love with gaming also, let me tell you that she plays a pretty mean Charizard on Smash Bros. for the Wii U, and can name nearly every Nintendo character I have an amiibo of, and I have a lot of those.

On the other hand you always want to be careful not to allow them too much video game time, and of course it is something where you’ll have to defer your violent video games to later in the evening after their bedtime. We have a rule of one hour a day of gaming time in my house, but they can lose minutes or gain minutes depending on certain behaviors. Also, playing with Dad doesn’t count towards their game time, because I can cheat like that since I’m the father.

There are some games I recommend especially when your child is younger. My personal favorite to start my kids with was Kirby’s Epic Yarn, because they can easily bubble up or fly with no issues, and you can pull them along with you if they don’t have the skill to tackle obstacles early on. The new Kirby Star Allies game is good for that too, as there are 3 other companions in total, and so there is never an impetus on your child to do extraordinarily well.

I also have raised my kids on Little Big Planet, because you can search literally anything on there. Kid’s interests change so rapidly when they are young, and they always get a thrill seeing their favorite thing represented in game form. A lot of them are poorly done, but playing through them with your child is a lot of fun. My son made a lot of progress learning his alphabet when he was younger thanks to a cool level someone made in Little Big Planet 2.

Either way I don’t like the idea lately that gaming is something that is bad for children, because like anything it just needs to be moderated and not used as a free babysitter. However, gaming has brought my family closer together, taught my children the idea of friendly competition and good sportsmanship, and affects their strategic thinking as well as their hand-eye coordination. Worlds like Minecraft especially give children a sense of ownership and agency that, since they are young and being guided so much, they may not get a lot of in their lives. It is a huge benefit to confidence and creativity.

R: Well done! It’s awesome that you and your kids are able to bond so well thanks to video games. And I totally agree that, in moderation, gaming can really foster creativity, sportsmanship and critical thinking and problem solving skills. Not to mention hand-eye coordination can be extrapolated to other fields, such as team sports or (in our case) martial arts. I’m really excited to bring gaming to my own son when he’s old enough and I feel like Kirby or even Yoshi games will be an excellent introduction to gaming.

Also, I didn’t realize that games like Little Big Planet could be used as an educational tool!? That’s fantastic! I assume that this can also work with other level editor games, like Super Mario Maker and Minecraft.

I will definitely use your arguments to make my case be heard with my wife! She’s not overly fond of gaming, but I feel that your experiences really codify a great example of how to be a gaming parent.

So, tell me Daniel, what’s coming down the pipeline for Home Button Gaming? Any upcoming projects or collaborations we should keep an eye on?

D: As I mentioned earlier I plan on doing a lot more to insure that people see Photo Mode at least three times a week again, because it appeared to be such a popular item that I feel bad it fell by the wayside. In addition I’m excited by my new set of articles called +1 to Joy, where once a week I discuss something that I love. The great thing is that this doesn’t have to be only video games, so if people want to learn more about me or maybe discover some cool book series or TV show that will be the place to do it. In addition it just lets me bring a little more positivity to the video game space, as well as remind myself all the wonderful small things I am grateful for.

I also contribute as one of the venerable Mages to The Well Red Mage with regularity, and have been doing a series of interviews with the Mages. So far I’ve interviewed the admin of the site, Moses, and this incredibly talented coffee addicted individual I can’t quite remember the name of right now. *winks at audience*. People can look forward to much more of those coming in the future, and just recently, I was featured on The Well Red Mage in the 30 Day Console Challenge where we rank the 7 best games of the system as we see it.

If we are talking big future plans I want to establish a podcast and a YouTube channel, but those things are pretty far down the road, as I have little expertise in such things.

R: Wicked! Looks like there’s a lot going on in the near future! I especially excited about the +1 to Joy articles, I feel we as gamers all need some more positivity in our lives, so this is a wonderful initiative!

*Turns to the audience* If you all want to see some of Daniel’s interviewing chops, definitely check out his talks with Moses from The Well-Red Mage and with this truly mysterious Coffee addict… Who seems rather familiar, don’t you think audience? *Grins maniacally*

*Turns back to Daniel* Right, now final question before we hit the lightning round: 90 WPS. How in the name of the Coffee Gods are you able to type so bloody quickly? *Laughs*

D. *Laughs* I have no earthly clue really. I took typing in middle school, and have been jamming away ever since. I think when we finished class I was at 50 WPM in middle school, and I guess working in admin the last 13 years or so combined with writing on my off time has jacked that up tremendously. It isn’t something I brag about at parties or anything, but it certainly helps with pumping out content when writing and at work.

R. I theorized that your typing skills were developed through some secret and ancient ninjutsu training, but I like your answer better. *Shrugs* Still it’s an impressive accomplishment! I mean the fastest I can type is barely over 65 WPM… And that’s not taking into account me being distracted either with games by or drinking coffee!

OK! So it’s time for the Lightning Ninja Round!!!! *Pulls out a percolator, a bag of coffee grounds, a filter and some water.* In the time it takes to brew a coffee, you will answer the following questions! Each answer yields a point, but like the show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” The points don’t really matter much. *Starts preparing a brew.* And I was also craving more coffee anyways, hence why the percolator is the timer. Now, onto question 1!

If you were ever in a jam and needed a giant-ish robot to bail you out, who would you choose between Optimus Prime, a Gundam of your choosing or Voltron? No need to give me reasons why! *Grins*

D: The defender of the universe of course. Voltron, no question.

R: All time favorite anime of any era?

D: Oh man, that is a tough question. Rapid fire off the top of my head? Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood. This answer shall come to haunt me as I change my mind daily.

R: Can’t take it back! Next: Pick two of three: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch.

D: Diabolical question. Switch and PS4.

R: Ooooh tough choices. Next: Favourite Splatoon Loadout?

D: I’m an Aerospray man myself, with curling bomb special. I’m starting to tinker with Brush and Baller though.

R: Nice! I do like the Aerospray, but I hardcore rep the Dualies with the Tenta Missile special. It’s such a great combo *Grins*

Next: What recent game have you played frustrated you to no end?

D: Ni No Kuni 2 actually. I want to play it so bad, but I’m having to grind to proceed and I hate that in a game.

R: Hmmm… I recall you mentioning that in our various, magely conversations. *Winks.*

*Checks the percolator.* Got time for one last question: What game have you started that you were really into initially, but can’t get around to finish it?

D: There are way many of these than I care to admit, but the first one that leaps to mind is Halo Wars 2. I played it, I adored it, but the gaming calendar was so packed I just fell behind. *pulls out phone, holds receiver towards mouth* Hey Google, remind me to install Halo Wars 2 when I get home…Again.

R: *Laughs hard, tears start forming on the corners of my eyes* Oh-ho-ho man! That was good! Hopefully you’ll get it installed this time! *Percolator dings* And just in time too! Coffee’s done and so’s the Lightning Ninja Round! You did well!

And thus, another day, another episode completed! Daniel, I want to thank you so much for joining and sharing your story with us. We were really happy to have you here today! *Audience claps and cheers raucously*

D: *Smiles and waves at the audience* It has been a real pleasure. My job here is done.

*Daniel tosses down a smoke pellet to escape in true ninja style, but it is apparently a dud as it gives off no more smoke than a cheap 4th of July smoke bomb. It barely curls around the ankles and certainly doesn’t obscure him in the least. He shrugs and dashes from the stage awkwardly, his arms out behind him in a dorky approximation of a ninja run.*

R: …Daniel Flatt, the Mail Order Ninja Mage everybody! And join me on the next episode, of which I will host a secret and special guest! Until next time, this is Ryan from Beans and Screens, signing off! See ya next time!

Beans and Screens – Link and Zelda!

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to another edition of Beans and Screens! I’m your host, Ryan.

On today’s episode, we have two guests joining us, but only one of them will do all the talking! Fresh off of saving Hyrule from Calamity Ganon in the epic, Breath of the Wild and here to talk about their latest exploits, they are two of the industry’s biggest icons. Please welcome the Princess Queen of Destiny, Zelda and the Hero of the Wilds, Link!

*From the side of the stage, two Hylians walk out to the applause and cheers from the audience. Both wave and smile politely as they make their way to the couch.

The man, no older than seventeen in age, is dressed in a blue tunic emblazoned with intricate, light blue designs, with loose beige pants and brown, traveler’s boots. On his arms are worn leather gauntlets and on his waist is a Sheikah Slate, bouncing lightly against him with every step. Strapped to his back is a sturdy blue and silver shield adorned with the Hylian Royal Crest and the Triforce. Behind it, safely tucked away in its sheath is the Blade of Evil’s Bane – The Master Sword – it’s indigo hilt gleaming in the studio lights. Even while smiling at the crowd, his sharp, piercing blue eyes sweep the room, scrutinizing everything and identifying all possible threats. His dirty blonde hair is tied up in a loose ponytail.

Walking alongside him is a woman of the same age, a few inches shorter than the man. She wore a long sleeved blue garb similar to the man’s tunic but with black and gold accents, along with beige tights and riding boots. Her long, honey blonde hair is tied in a loose ponytail, gently swishing to and fro as she walked. She projected an air of confidence and poise befitting that of a ruler and yet in the peaceful blue eyes that scanned the crowd elatedly, there lay a shimmering, vast trove of wisdom and knowledge deigned from countless years of study. Tucked under her arm was a weathered tome with bits of paper sticking out; likely notes and scribbles from her research that she haphazardly added in.

They both reach the couch and take a seat, the male unbuckling his sword and shield, placing it nearby, his fingers dancing on the hilt. The woman sits beside him, her shoulders square and back straight, her hands clasped on top of the book in her lap. The audience’s cheers and claps die down as the interview begins.*

Ryan: I’m so glad you two were able to make it! Was the journey hard? I understand that realm travel is a bit on the difficult side, correct?

Zelda: Oh no, it was very little trouble. While being able to use the Triforce would have made things much easier –

Link: *Nods*

Z: – We did have a little help from one of the three Dragons that circle our land. They deemed that it was the least they could do, as they were very grateful for our efforts in stopping Calamity Ganon.

L: *Frowns* Hrmm…

Z: Oh, cheer up Link! At least this time Farosh was not trying to electrocute you. Although, you did have it coming; you kept troubling the poor beast for its scales, claws, fangs and horns!

L: *Rolls eyes, crosses arms* Hmph.

R: *Laughs* OK you two, settle down. So let’s get to it: Ganon’s been defeated, your kingdom is in ruins: what’s the plan, Your Highness?

Z: Ah, great question! Well, despite the castle and the town being in ruins, the rest of the kingdom is intact, thank the Goddess. The plan is for us to rebuild with the Gorons, the Zora, the Rito and the Gerudo and bring Hyrule back to its former glory. To do so, I must form a council with representatives of the four races and start building up a government, fairly similar to what we had a hundred years ago. I hope that through cooperation with one another, we can strengthen ourselves for when Ganon reawakens. Another thing I would like to investigate is how it was even possible for Ganon to take over and corrupt the Divine Beasts and Guardians so easily. I have spoken to some of the Sheikah about this and I am hoping that they will have some theories to present once we return to Hyrule.

However, one of my grandest desires is to let the lands beyond our own know that the people of Hyrule have emerged victorious against the war with Ganon and that our borders and shores are open for newcomers to visit and live in. Despite how vast Hyrule is, my time with the Triforce has shown me how isolated our land has been. I want to change the notion that we are an insular country and expand our horizons, invite new talent, bring in new cultures and create new experiences for both current and future residents that will only make our land that much stronger. *Audience claps and cheers ecstatically*

R: That’s a bold proclamation there, your Highness!

Z: *Grinning amid the applause* Oh please, please call me Zelda. And yes, it does sound highly ambitious, but I am confident that we will succeed. In fact, before we came onto the stage, Link and I were approached by a rather enigmatic individual.

L: Ah. *Nods and smiles*

Z: He has invited Link and I to represent Hyrule in a vast fighting tournament spanning many lands. While Link jumped at the opportunity to test his skills without hesitation –

L: Hyah! *Grins confidently*

Z: *Continuing on as if Link didn’t interrupt* – I, on the other hand, am more of a researcher than a fighter and thus declined the invite. To that end, this individual told me that it would not be a problem. Instead, he would ask one of my previous incarnations to join the tournament!

R: Woah, hold on, that’s crazy! Who is this guy?

Z: *Taps a slender finger on her chin, her head tilted to the side and eyes looking up in thought* Hmm… well he did not give me his name. *Turns to face Link* Link, were you able to record an image of him on the Sheikah Slate?

L: *Shoots Zelda a beaming smile* Uh-huh!

R: Well then, show us!

*Link removes the Sheikah Slate from his waist and activates it. Going into the photos, he scrolls down with his finger until he finds the image he seeks. He turns the Slate towards me. I recoil back in shock.*

R: What!? No way, that’s Masahiro Sakurai?! *Audience whoops and cheers* Masahiro Sakurai, hah! Now I understand! He’s invited you and your previous incarnation to join other battlers in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate! That’s amazing!

Z: Really? Is that what it is called? It is rather an odd name, but nevertheless I am glad for the invitation. Link would be an excellent ambassador for Hyrule in this regard since he is our land’s Champion; I am certain he will bond well with the other fighters.

On top of that, this ‘Sakurai’ individual had asked me if the Great Plateau Tower could be used as a battleground. Mulling it over, it would be a boost to local tourism – the view from that particular tower is spectacular – so I heartily agreed. My only concern about this tournament is for my friend Link; I do not want to see him to get severely hurt.

L: *Turns to her and gives her a reassuring smile*

Z: *Turns to him and smiles back* Oh, I know you will be fine, but I do worry about you.

L: *Grins* Hah.

R: How… are you doing that?

Z: *She blinks before whipping her head around to face me, a startled expression on her face* Oh! Oh this? Well, our connection between one another during Link’s travels around the realm had allowed me to truly understand him. He speaks little, but his actions and gestures give away what he would like to say.

R: Hm… Wish I had that same connection with my wife. But I guess that’s what happens when you’re linked through destiny and a magical godly artifact. Anyways, back to our discussion: Besides the fighting tournament, what else do you have planned for Hyrule’s grand comeback?

Z: Throughout Link’s adventure, he has discovered many forgotten ruins that were buried long before Ganon awakened a hundred years ago. Age estimates have come in from between centuries to millennia, so that has me quite thrilled at the prospect of discovering more history about the land! What I would like to see happen is for tours and expeditions to occur within these lost ruins and monuments to the past. I dare say that both the local and foreign populations would benefit greatly from the knowledge and appreciate the history and heritage of the land, should they choose to pursue it. *Applause*

R: Hm, indeed. It’s always interesting to learn about the history and culture of another land. Speaking of history, Zelda, could you take us back one hundred years before Link awoke. Tell us, what were you feeling right after you placed him at the Shrine of Awakening?

*Zelda bows her head and her hands tighten up in her lap. Link places a gentle hand on her shoulder before glaring daggers at me.*

Z: *Whispers softly to Link* Link it’s OK. *She lifts up her head to face me, giving me a saddened but gentle look* To be honest, I felt dread and anguish. Dread that I could not hold back the unstoppable power of Calamity Ganon. Anguish over the loss of Hyrule’s Champions – the tamers of the Divine Beasts – … as well as my father, the King. I nearly… *she pauses for a brief moment to compose herself, her voice trembling slightly* I nearly lost Link, who had so valiantly protected me.

However, I knew that there was a sliver of hope remaining. Link was not lost, only injured. The Shrine of Awakening, while experimental, would be the key to restoring him to full strength. I knew that he would awaken and I knew he would do whatever it took to help me defeat Ganon. What I did not count on was… his memory loss.

*Link’s eyes move to the side and downward, his mouth set in a grim line.*

R: Memory loss?

Z: Yes. Amnesia is an unfortunate side effect of using the Shrine of Awakening.

L: Oh! *He snaps out of his funk, pulls up the Sheikah Slate and shows me a set of pictures.* Aha!

R: What’s this?

Z: Oh yes! It seems that there was some residual data left over on the device; pictures that I took before the Calamity. It became corrupted over the hundred year period, but after the data was repaired by the Sheikah, Link traveled to each of the spots where we took the photos and it seemed to trigger some of his lost memories! So, while Link had amnesia, it was not as permanent as I feared. *Applause, some cheers ring out*

L: *Link nods happily.*

R: That’s good to hear Link! Zelda, I have one last question before we turn to our silent hero here: What research are you thinking of looking into next?

Z: *Taps a finger on her chin* Hmm… I suppose I would like to take an in depth look at my bloodline and heritage, including how the power of the Triforce is activated in the female line of the royal family. It seems to me that prayer and study are not enough to activate the power – there also must be some distress involved, such as when I jumped in to protect Link from a Guardian, knowing full well I would be killed myself. That is only a hypothesis at this point and it would be hard to test that out in the real world… but I must find out, at least for my successor’s sake. *Eyes widening suddenly, she opens her notebook, pulls out a pen and scribbles down some notes in it before closing it and placing it back in her lap.* I apologize, I wanted to make sure I had this in my notes. Being both a ruler and a researcher is extremely hard work and sometimes I forget things that I think about, so I must write my thoughts down or else I would never get to investigate and probe them for answers.

R: Not a problem! Sometimes, with so much going on in our lives, it’s good to keep things written down, it helps to keep you on track of things. *I turn to Link* Now Link, I understand you’re not much of a talker, but I’d like to ask you a few questions about your adventure.

L: *Link pauses for a moment and thinks it over. He nods slowly in acceptance.* Hm.

R: Great! Now, Mr. Hero; I heard you had to do some disguise work to get into a certain city? Care to tell us about it? *Zelda breaks out in a fit of sniggers while Link looks at me darkly*

Z: Oh come on Link, you knew this was coming! I’ll tell the story actually; In the Gerudo region, men are strictly forbidden from entering the capital city. Gerudo City’s population consists solely of women and Link needed to enter the city to gain information to conquer the Divine Beast, Vah Nabooris. So, in order- *she starts cracking up* In order… to… *starts to laugh, but composes herself.* Ahem! Whew! In order to get into the city, he had to dress like one of the Gerudo! *bursts into laughter, along with the audience*

*Link looks at Zelda glumly as she laughs harder, tears starting to stream from her eyes.*

Z: *Laughter starts to subside after a few minutes* Come now Link, we only jest. If you had not dressed like a girl, Hyrule would still be under the thrall of Ganon.

L: Mm. *He nods, a small smile on his face.*

R: She’s right you know! It’s a heroic cross-dressing moment!

Z: Oh wait, I have another story to add in here; once in the past, I was doing some research on the local flora, when I spotted a Silent Princess – my favourite flower – and spoke about its decline in the wild. Link was sitting nearby, listening to me talk in his usual stoic self, when I happened to spot an extremely rare amphibian specimen, one that could potentially augment certain abilities if ingested. I caught one and… well tried to force him to eat it. *Grins*

R: You forced him to eat a frog?!

L: *Frowns*

Z: *Giggles* Funny enough, he ate it too! And he got sick in the process: Turns out that the frog I gave him was the wrong one… I felt terrible after that. However, Link forgave me after he recovered, never blaming me once. That’s the kind of person he is.

R: Well, I can certainly take a page out of his book. Having the capacity to forgive is an important quality to have. OK Hero, let’s move onto some more serious question: You journey was a very isolating one and you were given very little support in it, so what was it that kept you so motivated?

L: *Link strokes his chin for a moment, before pointing to Zelda. She lets out a light blush. Audience lets out an “Awww…”*

Z: Oh Link… That is very thoughtful of you.

R: Aww, isn’t that sweet, everyone? That answer can warm even the most frozen of hearts… Well, except Ganon I suppose… Anyhow, Link, here’s a two-parter for you: One, how are you feeling now that your quest is over?

L: *Let’s out an exaggerated, relieved sigh, followed by a smile.*

R: Hm interesting… And two, how are you feeling about the upcoming Smash Bros. Ultimate tournament?

L: *Narrows his eyebrows and looks determined* Hyah!

R: Looks like you’re pumped and ready to win this! I wish you good luck! Last question Hero before we finish things off: What’s the coolest or most amazing thing in your arsenal right now?

L: *Suddenly shoots an excited, yet maniacal grin.*

Z: *Places a palm on her head exasperatedly.* Oh Goddess Hylia help us… You have opened the proverbial floodgates.

*Link again whips out the Sheikah Slate and stands up. He holds it upright and taps on the screen. A blue circle appears on the floor, just in front of him. He taps the screen again and suddenly, a strange machine appears in the studio! It looks like a dirt bike designed with a stallion in mind and features the same architectural details as the four Divine Beasts. Link outstretches his hands as if he’s dramatically unveiling it. He looks to Zelda expectantly.*

Z: * let’s out a deep sigh and deadpans* Behold, the Master Cycle Zero, the Divine Beast of Champion Link.

R: Woah, now that’s cool! Can I take it for a spin?!

L: *Gives me his darkest stare yet. It’s almost as if he’s saying “Don’t push your luck.”*

R: *Relents* Alright, alright, jeez… Oh well, at least I tried! Well, Link, Zelda, it was truly a pleasure having you here in the studio: Link, we’ll see you again in Smash Bros. Ultimate, hopefully with Zelda here cheering you on! Best of luck in the tournament!

*Link recalls the Master Cycle Zero. He stands up and buckles his sword and shield. Amidst the raucous applause, Zelda stands and shakes my hand, followed by Link. Together, they walk off the stage into the backstage area, waving to the audience as they depart.*

Link and Zelda everybody! So, that’s today’s episode, but join me for the next one, because I’m welcoming my first blogging guest on the show! I’m keeping his identity a surprise and I’m telling ya, this interview is gonna be a fun one filled with lots of Ninja-like surprises! Stay tuned for when it drops!

And so, to my dear audience, I bid you farewell! This is Ryan from Beans and Screens, signing off and reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing!

The Anniversary Post (Or An Interview Between a Mage and a Mature, Distinguished Gamer)

Good morning and welcome to another edition of Games with Coffee! This one is special, because the blog’s now over a year old! Granted, I should have written this back in March – the actual month when this blog started back in 2017 – but circumstances that were out of my control prevented me from doing that. (And by circumstances, I mean babies.)

So, a year has passed since I started this blog. It’s hard to believe that time flew by so quickly… When I first had the itch to start this way back in December of 2016 as a part of my Quest to improve myself, I had no clue that this would be a gateway to so much opportunity and growth for myself during the course of 2017 – my thirtieth year of existence. I started out initially because I liked writing and I really wanted to get my story out there and share the fact that, yes, I’m a respectful adult juggling lots of responsibilities and I still love playing video games. Or as I call it, a Mature, Distinguished Gamer.

I discovered (to my surprise) that I wasn’t the only one with this mentality.

I’m so proud, stoked and downright honoured to connect with a community that supports one another, treats each other with respect and that’s willing to go into thoughtful, yet civil, discussions about gaming and its roles in society, in building character and how it shaped the lives of all those who’ve picked up a controller and played. Whether your game was Super Mario or Fortnite, whether you’re old-school at heart or a fan of the modern games of today, we’re all connected through a shared love of video games and it fills my heart with joy to be in the presence of such awesome individuals. You guys rock!

With that said, today I’m debuting a new segment for the blog, or at least a pilot/preview of it. I’m doing this as a way to celebrate the WordPress gaming community and the readers (like you!) who support us. Whether this idea catches on or not, at least today, you’ll learn a little more about the man behind the coffee mug.

So without further fanfare, let’s get into it:


I’m proud to present to you, dear readers, Beans and Screens! I’m your host, Ryan.

On this edition, the very first of (hopefully) many, I’ve asked a new friend of mine to be my very first guest. He’s an individual who writes sorcery on paper after ingesting an unholy amount of caffeine and has traveled here via Summoning Circle. Ladies and gentlemen, my first guest sitting next to me is The Hyperactive Coffee Mage!

*There is a stage with two cushy armchairs and a small table in between them. On the table are two coffee mugs.

Sitting in the chair beside me in a reclined, relaxed position was an individual wearing coffee coloured robes and a wide brimmed hat that obscures his facial features, save for a pair of bright, yellow eyes. On his hat is an emblem of a coffee cup.

He looks out, waves hello and then turns his attention to the empty mugs on the table. Pointing a finger at it and lazily waving it in a circular motion, the mugs magically fill up. The aroma of coffee permeates the air.*

HCM: How do you take yours?

GWC: Just black.

HCM: Nice.

GWC: *turns back to audience* So, here’s a huge plot twist right out of the bat: the good mage is not a guest for the first show. He will actually be the guest host! That’s right: I’m today’s interviewee!

Shall we get started?

HCM: Of course! First, let’s clarify something here; it’s not so much “Circles,” more like “Squares.” Summoning Squares that is-

GWC: Summoning Squares? Really? You’re gonna lead off with that? *rolls eyes* Next, you’re gonna talk about a Roy coming out of Grant’s Ear, which, I suppose, was the style at the time?

HCM: … And there goes the joke. Great job, you killed it.

GWC: … *raises eyebrow*

HCM: *shakes head* … Anyways, let’s really begin here. So first off, what is Beans and Screens and why go the interview/talk show route?

GWC: The name was created based off of a conversation I had on Twitter with Rob Covell from I Played The Game and Zach Bowman sometime in January around video game-themed coffee drinks. Rob came up with the neat name. (Thanks by the way!)

What’s Beans and Screens? It’s a segment dedicated to interviewing some of the very people I’ve recently met in my blogging journey. You know, getting to know them, why they’re so passionate about what they do and their dreams of the future. I see it… more as an opportunity for readers to get to know their favourite personalities in a casual talk show-like setting.

I was also partly inspired by other talk shows, namely one called Koffee with Karan. It’s a Bollywood talk show where the host, Karan Johar, has fun, open discussions with his guests, who consist of Bollywood’s biggest megastars. I’ve also drawn inspiration from Late Night TV personalities of past and present, like David Letterman and Stephen Colbert.

If there was one thing I enjoyed over the year I’ve been blogging, it’s talking with so many like-minded individuals. This might sound a bit cliche, but I feel like I found a third family with these guys, and I really wanted to celebrate and show my appreciation for them, besides giving the odd shout out here or there.

HCM: Third family? Who are the other two?

GWC: *laughs* Well, I have a wonderful, talented wife and a little baby boy who’s super cute! And my second family consists of the individuals who I’ve grown up with; friends, cousins, the like, y’know?

HCM: Fair enough. But that’s not all that’s gonna be on this segment, right?

GWC: Yeah, for sure, I’ll also be calling up some of the biggest stars in gaming to talk about their latest adventures, future plans and opportunities and to genuinely have some fun. It should be a blast! If… this takes off, that is.

HCM: Hope so. Anyways, let’s get a bit personal here; Tell us a bit about yourself?

GWC: Sure, so my name’s Ryan. I’m 30 years old and I work professionally as a Mechanical Engineer. I’ve been writing and gaming for… what seems like my whole life, I guess?

I am Indian-Guyanese and was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. My parents are immigrants from Guyana, a small, tropical country in the northeastern part of South America. The country is a part of the West Indies and it used to be part of the British Empire, until it gained independence in the late 60’s.

Growing up, my life revolved around video games and writing about them. I was bullied as a child and was also diagnosed with ADHD all throughout elementary school. I took lots of medications, ran through tests and spoke with counselors and psychiatrists. It wasn’t very fun. Those two things – gaming and writing – were what kept me going until I entered high school.

It was there that I ended up making friends with lots of people, thanks to a shared interest in video games. A couple of frequent readers on my blog are close friends from those years. Gaming has also been my muse, in that I also pursued art and music along with writing. These days, I focus more on writing, but I sometimes churn out a quick sketch or two.

HCM: Someone’s multi-talented!

GWC: Yeah! On top of that, I also whistle and I think I’m fairly good at it too. I put up a video on Twitter a while ago of me whistling while I did the dishes and recently put one up of me whistling Green Greens from Kirby, but I might be inclined to post some more? I whistle video game tunes (surprise, surprise), but sometimes I dabble in classical music, jazz and themes from popular TV shows and movies. If there’s one tune to whistle that I love to whistle the most… It would have to be the Overworld theme from Legend of Zelda.

HCM: You’re quite the jack of all trades?

GWC: Yeah, seems like. Oh, here’s a fun fact; my whistling puts my baby boy to sleep! I usually do the bedtime routine with him, which involves a story, a top-up and then I rock him to sleep while whistling something. He seems to like when I play soft, slow music like Cosmo Canyon or even quick, cute themes from Kirby. I’ve been exposing him to practically every kind of video game tune imaginable. *laughs* Hopefully when he gets older, he’ll recognize all these tunes and go “Dad! I know this one! Where is it from?! Oh, It’s from XYZ game, son! No way! So cool!”

HCM: Indoctrinate them young huh? *laughs* Good plan!

So, from what I understand, you credit your wife as the driving force behind your creative side as well, right? Tell us more about that?

GWC: Yeah, for sure, she’s definitely pushed me to explore my creative side more. Y’know, looking back, I haven’t really talked about her much, so I might as well start now! *chuckles*

HCM: Wow, way to redirect the question here!

GWC: OK so, I met my wife midway through high school. She moved to my hometown from a little city in the middle of the country called Winnipeg and we were introduced to one another through a shared family friend. I was instantly attracted to her but I thought I’d never have a chance with her.

HCM: And what did she think about you?

GWC: She thought I was a weirdo. She still does, come to think of it?

HCM: *winces* Ouch.

GWC: Anyways, we became friends and then hooked up at the tail end of my high school years. We dated for seven years and now we’ve been married for almost six. She and I are complete opposites; she’s highly-organized, tidy and a very Type-A personality, whereas I’m laid-back, a bit disorganized and very chill. But we do have several things in common.

HCM: Like?

GWC: Well, we’re both very creative. While I dabble in writing, she does something called hand-lettering and I swear, she’s a genius with it. Who knew that letters could be so artistic and beautiful you know?

We’re also stubbornly hard workers that challenge each other to do better. Like, she’ll start something, and I’ll be like, “Hey, I should try that too?” So I do it, modifying it to my liking, and then she sees me doing pretty good with it, so she’ll be like “OK wow, you’re such a copycat!” But then, she’ll adapt what I’m doing with her stuff and the cycle continues. We basically feed off each other in terms of our work ethic.

She has a blog as well here on WordPress showcasing her talents in hand lettering. Seriously, her stuff is awesome. Oh yeah, she shares a lot of her work on Instagram and she also has a store on Etsy where people can buy digital copies of things like gift tags and stuff and print them out for their own use. It’s pretty cool.

HCM: That is pretty cool! So, what’s your secret to making this all work?

GWC: I think the biggest secret to our success is that we work as a team at everything – our marriage, parenting, our hobbies, you name it. I’m honestly my wife’s biggest cheerleader. If she wants to do something creative, like take a course or get some new pens to test out, I’m like “Go for it!” I don’t try to stifle her or hold her back and she’s flourished because of that. Even though she just gave birth to our son, that’s not stopping her from pursuing what she loves and vice versa with my writing.

We argue, like all couples do, but we always find solutions to our current problems. Communication and trust are our greatest weapons.

HCM: Great, great, so… Your blog – Games with Coffee – you started that last March. But at that same time, you were apparently pretty lost in your career, right?

GWC: *shrugs* Yeah, so I’ve always been a very hands-on type of guy. I love building things and seeing how things worked and stuff, which is why I got into engineering in the first place.

When I started my career, I started out as a designer. I would use what I’ve learned in university to engineer solutions to client’s problems. I thought that being a designer would help get me to where I wanted to go. At that time though, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go, but I wanted to end up doing something hands-on.

My first big design gig was very structured, almost to the point where it was stifling. Everything was already thought out for you, so there wasn’t much I could really engineer or create a unique solution for. I was getting pretty stressed because I kept making lots of mistakes. And I made those mistakes because I felt really bored at the job and being a designer. I hated being stuck at my desk for hours staring at a screen with the same programs over and over again.

HCM: So didn’t you make a change?

GWC: Yeah, after about 4 years I left that company and took a similar position one closer to home. The biggest difference between this job and my previous one is that there was less structure, in that there was better opportunity to engineer stuff and I’d have more ownership with projects. At least, that’s what was advertised to me at the time.

HCM: What do you mean by that?

GWC: Well, the job and the company was very free flowing and loose, it wasn’t structured like my old job. Now that’s a good thing because there’s no one to micromanage you and you have full control of your work, but the downside of it is that if things go wrong, it’s all on you. There’s no one readily available to check over your work before submitting it, because the company was so small and everyone can’t just stop what they’re doing and check your work. To top it off, my role directly affected everyone else in the company, so my mistakes were magnified. Beyond that, it was the same stuff as before: same programs, same issues around design, but with different problems and different levels of stress.

I started writing Games with Coffee at the end of that year, where I flamed out spectacularly. It really helped me to cope with the stress, since it involved my favourite subjects: writing and video games. Eventually, I talked to a professional who helped me sort out what I needed to work on both personally and professionally and suddenly, everything started to fall in place.

HCM: In that you ended up in a new position, yes?

GWC: Yep. And it seems like I hit the sweet spot with this one: it’s structured enough that you have a clear idea of what you’re supposed to do with the support to back it up, yet it also encourages making solutions on the fly based on both engineering principles and good old common sense. Best of all, I’m no longer focused on designing stuff; instead I do inspections and figure things out by going to a jobsite instead of trying to imagine how to fix it in the office. It’s pretty cool. It also helped that I took a vastly different approach for starting this job, in that I adopted a beginner’s mindset and embraced failure as something that’s normal to do. It’s helped me so far in succeeding in this position.

HCM: Nice to hear! So, last few questions before we wrap up: You talk a lot about being a Mature, Distinguished Gamer, what does that even mean?

GWC: *laughs* I had a feeling this would come up! Basically to me, being a mature, distinguished gamer is someone who knows how to balance gaming with everyday responsibilities, and I don’t mean just your job outside of home. I mean balancing it with spending time with family and friends, doing chores at home, like cooking or laundry, or what have you. Essentially, taking care of yourself, without letting gaming take over your whole life.

But on top of that is being respectful of other’s views, not just in gaming but in everything. Some people may think that Call of Duty is the greatest game ever made, (I’m using this as an example by the way) and while I personally disagree, I still respect that individual’s view. Sure, there are some good things that can be appreciated in the CoD series, but again, that’s not my personal preference. The point I’m making here is that I’m willing to engage and listen to that person’s viewpoint and maybe open myself up to playing games or genres I wouldn’t have considered otherwise. And also, one should never belittle someone for their choice of game or favourite series or installment of a series, because chances are that game has helped that person through a tough time.

Beyond that, a mature, distinguished gamer should have an appreciation for the classics as well as modern games, keeps an open mind about games of all kinds and reserves judgement on a game only after they’ve spent a fair deal of time playing it. Critical analysis of a game should focus both on what makes the game so good and identifying flaws and suggesting ways on how they could have been addressed, instead of simply saying “It sucks, don’t buy.” That’s just my opinion.

HCM: Alright, so what’s next on the pipeline for you? What’s your plans for this coming season of Games with Coffee?

GWC: So, this year, I’ve decided to jump on some opportunities offered by the community. Part of that includes writing for The Well-Red Mage as… The Hyperactive… Coffee… Mage…

HCM: … I’m sure our readers know by now that you and I are one in the same and that I’m brought here by the magic of fictional writing?

GWC: So… I’m basically talking to myself?

HCM: …

GWC: …Anyways, my debut review on Sonic 2 for the Game Gear went out earlier this month. I think I did a good job on it?

On top of that, the blog’s been nominated for a couple of awards and I want to respond in kind! Thanks again to Athena from AmbiGaming, TheGamingDiaries and NekoJonez for nominating me!

Furthermore, expect to see some more game reviews! I’ve modified my Espresso Shot format based on my work on TWRM. The categories remain the same, but I’m leaning towards providing some historical insight and personal connections to the game.

Also, I’ll be taking some time to focus on my personal writing. My biggest goal this year is to finish the rough draft of a fanfiction that I’ve poured my whole heart and soul into. From there, I’ll edit the heck out of it until it’s suitable for reading and then I’ll be starting a new segment where I’ll be releasing a chapter or two a week. All of this is for preparation for when I start writing my own original story someday in the future.

Other than that, my ongoing playthrough of Path of Exile continues. I’ll be sharing a few more personal anecdotes, particularly about Pokemon; I’m really excited about that one. I’m going to try and write some first impression posts of new releases, such as God of War, which I’m enjoying immensely.

And then there’s Beans and Screens, which I’m hoping takes off. I’ll be making some requests for interviewees in the coming months. (If anyone’s interested, let me know in the comments below!)

HCM: Got an idea of who your next guest will be?

GWC: Hmmm… Well, I suppose I could tease it a little?

So, I got in contact with a very high profile individual from a very successful game released last year. He’s kind of the strong, silent type, but his friend has agreed to interpret for him. So really, it’s two guests. I’ll leave it at that for now; anymore and I’ll spoil it!

HCM: Fair enough. Well, I’ll let you take over closing comments. Meanwhile, I have to draw another Summoning Circl-

GWC: Square.

HCM: …Whatever. *gets up, starts drawing a Summoning Shape using ground coffee beans*

GWC: The Hyperactive Coffee Mage everyone! And as we close off this first edition, I’d like to say a few words:

As enjoyable as this exercise was, none of this would be possible without readers like you. Thank you to those who have inspired, instilled confidence and pushed me to be a better writer. Thank you to you other bloggers out there, who are some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met, even though we’ve never physically met (Ah, the wonders of the Internet!). Keep doing what you do.

Until the next editions of Beans and Screens AND Games with Coffee, this has been Ryan, wishing you well, thanking you for an awesome year and reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing!