Presenting The Ultimate Emulation System – The RetroPie!

Salutations! Welcome to another edition of Games with Coffee!

Today, we’ll be talking about a wild addition to my gaming repertoire; the RetroPie! I’ll also mention the controllers that I’ve equipped onto this versatile, little system. So, without further ado, let’s begin.


What is a RetroPie?

RetroPie is an OS that can be loaded onto a Raspberry Pi – basically an inexpensive microcomputer – and transforms it into a retro gaming emulation machine! RetroPie can be loaded as its own OS or it can be overlaid on top of an existing full OS. In my case, I loaded it up on a Raspberry Pi.

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To put one of these bad boys together, you’ll need the following:

  • A working computer to download the software, games, and the like.
  • A Raspberry Pi 3 (Model B or higher is recommended)
  • A power source for the Pi (must be rated at 2.5 amps)
  • a Micro SD card (16 GB minimum, but I use a 32 GB card)
  • A USB-capable controller or keyboard
  • A 16 GB minimum USB stick (I recommend getting a fresh stick, but reformatting an old one works too)
  • A Micro SD to USB adapter
  • An HDMI Cable
  • A HDMI compatible screen
  • A case (completely optional, but good to have nevertheless)

Installing RetroPie on the Pi computer is not too difficult to do – just follow the steps listed here.

Pro tip: once the software is written onto the MicroSD card, your computer may tell you that it can’t read the device and will recommend to format it. DO NOT FORMAT IT! Just remove it once the writing process is complete and insert the SD card into the Pi. This happened to me a couple of times until I figured that out.


What Games Does RetroPie Play?

In a nutshell, practically all generations of consoles and games up to and including the original PlayStation. There are emulators that can play beyond that system, but the Pi isn’t powerful enough for them to work properly.

In general, a majority of games are compatible with the emulators on the system. In other words, I’ve yet to find a game that doesn’t play perfectly on here.

There are also some homebrew games and ports available to play, such as Duke Nukem and Doom. These can be found through the Manage Packages option on the main RetroPie menu.

Getting the games into the Pi is as simple as inserting a fresh/formatted USB stick into the Pi and taking it out after it creates all the directories on the stick, which usually takes a few minutes. Next you insert the stick into a computer, copy your games into the respective console folders and put the stick back into the Pi. If all goes well, you should see a list of systems appear on the main menu of the RetroPie interface, which will contain the games.

Options and RetroArch

Once you launch a game, you can access a list of options that allow you to modify the screen resolution to fit your screen or change the default emulator for the game, among others. This is done by pressing any button before the emulator starts.

RetroArch is a front end that’s accessed while the emulator is running and provides options to save and load states, modify control configurations and adjust settings. The default command to access this menu (assuming you’re using an SNES controller) is Select + X.


What about Controllers?

Thanks to the Pi’s Bluetooth capabilities, you can easily use wireless controllers to play your favourite classic games! While you can connect PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and Xbox controllers to the system, I find that the perfect controllers to use are the ones by 8bitdo.

I have the SNES30 (or the SN30) Bluetooth controller and it’s a BLAST to use! The controller feels exactly like the Super Nintendo controller, down to its weight, the feel of the buttons and grip.

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The setup is a bit of a chore, but once it’s all done, you just turn on the system and the controller and you’re good to go!

If wired is what you’re looking for, you can use a USB wired controller or, if you have some classic controllers lying around, a USB to (insert console here) converter also works great!


Where Can I Get All This Stuff!?

Luckily, you can get a complete Raspberry Pi kit on Amazon for a relatively modest price. Either check Amazon.ca or Amazon.com.

As for the case, there are plenty to choose from! There are even some cases that look like classic consoles of yore! The one I used is this one – the transparent, seven-layer construction is stylish, it comes with plenty of heat sinks and it has a fan that you can connect to the Pi’s GPIO board to keep the unit cool. It’s very useful!

Amazon also has a plethora of controller options available. You can also find wireless controllers, including the popular 8bitdo controllers, at any electronic big-box store or gaming stores, like Best Buy (CA) or GameStop/EB Games for example.

As for games, well emulation is still a very gray area in legal terms. I won’t tell you where you where explicitly you can find any, but Google is your best friend in that regard.


So, there you have it. All the tools you need to build your very own retro arcade system! Whether you’re looking to play the finest offerings of retro gaming for the first time or the millionth time, the RetroPie is probably the best option available, in my opinion.

With another edition concluded, this has been Ryan from Games with Coffee, off to play some Mega Man X on my own RetroPie setup and reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing!

God of War (2018) [PlayStation 4] – First Impressions

Good morning and welcome to another edition of Games with Coffee! It’s the weekend, and what better way to celebrate than to brew a cuppa and play some games first thing in the morning? Well, that’s what I’m doing at least, after feeding my Mini-Me of course.

So, a highly anticipated game was released last Friday, April 20th. There has been much talk about it over the last several months since its announcement and… I’m sad to say that I haven’t picked it up yet. Of course, I’m talking about the unfathomably amazing Nintendo Labo! It’s cardboard that you build and play with using the Switch and judging from the initial reaction from my fellow gamers, it’s fantastic, easy to use and so much fun!

Alas, that’s not what this post is about, because on that same Friday, another highly anticipated game was released and is the one I picked up. That game is God of War!

(Spoilers for God of War III)

The series’ developer, Santa Monica, announced the game at 2016’s E3. It is the sequel to God of War III, where our erstwhile embodiment of rage and vengeance, Kratos, finally exacted his revenge against his father, Zeus, only to discover that he was a pawn for the goddess Athena (not you Athena, the other Athena). Athena desired the power of Hope that she had put in Pandora’s Box after Zeus sealed the evils of the world long ago, as she told Kratos that only she could use that power properly. She explains that when Kratos reopened the box and unleashed the evils back into the world in the first game, that power of hope was transferred to him, giving him the strength to overcome his many obstacles, such as defeating Ares, changing his fate after being betrayed by his father, Zeus, and eventually defeating him at the end of the third installment.

Kratos realized that to undo all he had wrought in his mad quest for vengeance, he needed to sacrifice himself and return the power of hope to the people of Greece. To that end, he impaled himself using the Blade of Olympus, releasing the power instead of giving it to the goddess, who left the warrior to die, disgusted over his decision. Post credits, we find Kratos’ body gone; the blade discarded to the side and a trail of blood leading into the churning waters below, his ultimate fate unknown.

(Spoilers end here)

The latest installment of the series shows that Kratos is alive and well, years after his conquest of the Greek gods, and living deep in the Wildlands with a wife and son in the Norse realm of Midgard. He’s also sporting a wicked beard.

The demigod lived a life of solitude with his new family until his wife’s untimely passing. It is here that Kratos’ latest adventures begins, as he promised his late wife that he and his son shall scatter her ashes at the highest peak in Midgard.

But an even greater challenge awaits the former God of War; being a parent to his son, Atreus.

After spending a week in The Nine Realms, I have to say that I’m incredibly impressed. Granted, I haven’t gotten very far in the game, but I’m enjoying my experience nonetheless. Four things stood out the most for me: Combat, Exploration, Story and Characters.

Combat

Combat in the game is vastly different from previous God of War games. The weapons that were ubiquitous in the earlier series have gone, replaced by a runic axe called the Leviathan Axe, imbued with the power of ice and given to him by his wife before her passing. It’s one of the most fun weapons I’ve ever used in this type of game! The neat part about the axe is it’s Thor-like ability to return to Kratos’ hand. You can arm the axe and throw it at enemies or objects and then recall it to your hand using the Triangle button. When the axe is thrown at enemies, Kratos can still defend himself using his fists and shield. Despite being weaker, these attacks can build up an enemy’s stun gauge enough that he can perform a finisher, a staple in the series. The battles themselves can be pretty tough and will require a combination of melee combat and axe throwing to get through them.

Another returning staple is the Rage of Sparta. When activated, Kratos becomes enraged and simply uses his fists to inflict massive damage to anything around him. As he pummels his foes, his health regains slowly, making it tactical to use in case you can’t find any healthstones (used to heal Kratos this time around). It’s very fun to use, but should only be used in a pinch.

Magic in this game is achieved through the use of Runestones, which can be equipped on the Leviathan Axe. There seem to be lots of spells to use. Magic has a cooldown period before they can be used again, which can be affected by Kratos’ Cooldown stat.

Kratos’ son, Atreus, is more than just a tag-along character – he actively assists his father using his bow to inflict stun damage, or can jump on an enemy and distract it long enough for Kratos to get in a combo or finish it off. He also warns Kratos of any hazard, allowing the player some time to react accordingly (either by blocking or dodging).

Finally, Kratos earns experience from every foe he and Atreus defeats, which is used to purchase skill upgrades, much like the Red Orbs of the previous games. It definitely give the game an RPG-like feel.

Exploration

A significant departure for the series is how open the world is, compared to the linear feeling of the previous games. I really like this change a lot! There’s a lot to see and do in the game. Atreus also provides a lot of context for the Norse world and its mythology, something that Kratos (and the player by extension) has little familiarity with.

The environment is very puzzle driven and reminds me strongly of the Legend of Zelda. Kratos and Atreus must work together to solve them; the father using his vast strength and axe and the son using his small size and light weight to fit into passageways and vault upwards to higher ground. The axe has a significant feature in that it can freeze objects when thrown. This is necessary to navigate puzzles where bridges or ceilings need to be locked in place to proceed, much like the Stasis rune in Breath of the Wild.

Like with its predecessors, secret areas hide chests filled with hacksilver or resources (used to purchase equipment and upgrades), Enchantments and Runestones, among others. There are also locked chests that can only be opened with Kratos throwing his axe at the ruins associated with the chest. The environment also has tons of breakable objects in which you can obtain spare hacksilver or reveal hidden passages.

Story and Characters

What I love the most about this game is the character development. Gone are the days of rage of vengeance that fuels Kratos; instead, he has a more quiet, stoic presence about him. He is also a man in mourning as his second wife, Faye, passed away to start the game. You can see the stoic mask drop momentarily in the opening scenes as he’s about to cut down the last tree for the funeral pyre, which I liked.

Through out the game, Kratos is at a loss on how to approach his son, Atreus, given that he both had no proper father figure growing up and that his warmongering, Spartan upbringing was the only thing he had ever known. He is very cold towards his son, addressing him as “Boy” and distancing himself from him. There are times that Kratos wants to reach out to him in comfort, but he hesitates, unsure of what to do in these situations, only to retract into his shell. I feel that Kratos can see his own vulnerabilities in Atreus, which is why it’s hard for him to reach out.

I really like this direction for the character, it shows that he has more of a human side that we all realize.

As for Atreus, he isn’t an annoying sidekick. Rather he sounds incredibly genuine. His quick wit and childlike innocence is an excellent foil to the brooding Kratos. He also provides his father valuable knowledge about the Nordic gods and the realm itself. Atreus is also helpful in battle, warning his father of dangers he cannot see, assisting him in general and adding research notes on the enemies they face, along with strategies. There’s also hidden depth to him, in that he doesn’t know his true nature as a demigod. His godhood manifests in strange ways, such as his mysterious illnesses mentioned in passing and bouts of unbridled rage.

I love mythological history and I appreciated the efforts Santa Monica made with adapting Greek mythology to Kratos’ story. It looks like they took a more in-depth approach with the Norse mythology, given Atreus’ vast knowledge of The Nine Realms. I personally can’t wait to see how Kratos and his son fit into the grander scheme of Odin and his pantheon of gods.

Right from the start with the appearance of The Stranger, it seems like the gods don’t take kindly to strangers in The Nine Realms. It also seems that both father and son will be drawn into the affairs of the gods on their journey up the mountain.

The best part so far? Meeting the World Serpent (Jormungandr). I thought the Titans from the previous games were huge, but the massive snake takes the cake.

Image result for world serpent god of war


So, that’s it for this edition. What do you guys think about God of War? Let me know in the comments below!

This has been Ryan, getting lost in one of my favourite mythologies 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!

Path of Exile Playthrough Part 6 – Ruin Raider

Greetings Exiles and welcome to another edition of Games with Coffee!

After an unplanned hiatus of nearly two months (courtesy of computer issues and a tiny, milk-demanding Exile who has created havoc with my schedule…), I’m back with my ongoing Path of Exile playthrough! If you haven’t caught up yet, check out the following links to rectify that problem:

  1. Part 1 -A Vacay in Wraeclast
  2. Part 2 – So Close, Yet Still So Far
  3. Part 3 – Finally at Act 2!
  4. Part 4 – Into The Woods…
  5. Part 5 – Dealing With Bandits

The Root of the Problem

To recap; I’ve defeated two of the Bandit Lords and spared Oak, who has rewarded me with some passive health regeneration and strength abilities for siding with him. The villagers in the Encampment, Eramir especially, were… modestly pleased? I mean, there’s only one Lord to deal with instead of three. I’m sure they’ll be fine.

In the meantime, I had other things to deal with, namely that the entrance to the Vaal Ruins, my next point of interest, was blocked off. I decided for the time being that I would complete Silk’s quest (mentioned briefly in the previous installment) to retrieve his long, sharp object in the Eight-Legs nest in The Western Forest.

Backtracking and finding the nest in question, I ventured forth to hunt the dreaded Mother Eight-Legs Silk spoke about. I headed through The Weaver’s Grounds and made my way through the spider-infested lair to the Nest, where the Mother lay.

I easily laid waste to the giant spider using my trusty area-of-effect skills and obtained Maligaro’s Spike; which was in Silk’s possession before he lost it. Returning to the Forest Encampment and presenting it to him, Silk offered me some Support Gems! I selected Controlled Destruction; It’s a useful support for my Firestorm gem!

After speaking to Helena about Maligaro’s Spike, she informed me that I would need to use both it and the Baleful Gem I found in the Chamber of Sins to access the Vaal Ruins. I combined the items and approached the tree with them.

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With the path opened, I decided to undergo another side-quest first, before tackling the ruins.

Masters, Ascendancy and Crypts Galore!

Yeena had asked of me to head to a Crypt, east of the Forest Encampment, to find the hand of “a good man.” After warping to The Crossroads and travelling through The Fellshrine Ruins, I entered the first floor of The Crypt. I was assailed on all sides by many undead creatures, including skeletons that cast elemental magic!

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Soon enough, I ran into an old friend; the Master of the Hunt, Tora! There was a pack of infected beasts roaming about and she asked me to take care of it before they become a problem. She handed me an item infused with thaumaturgy that allowed me to track the creatures by following pools of their blood.

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Following the trail, I found myself face to face with a horde of Infected Watchers – floating tentacle monsters which cast lightning magic and became enraged at low health.

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After killing nearly twenty of them, I encountered their leader, a Mutated Watcher, with the same buffs as its brethren along with an addition skill: it casts Lightning Warp!

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It took a bit of time, but I eventually endured. From its carcass, I ended up picking up my very first Unique weapon; a Goredrill Skinning Knife! Granted, it doesn’t fit with my current build, but hey, I’ll take it!

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After reporting in to Tora, she instructed me to visit her back at the Encampment; she would have new goods for me to purchase. Meanwhile, I continued onward through the Crypt and found another Bronze Monograph, which meant it was time for another Trial of Ascendancy!

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For this Trial, I had to face spinning columns equipped with deadly blades. These columns moved on a fixed track and their movements can be altered through the use of switches. Getting caught in these blades HURT, so care should be taken when going through this section.

Eventually, I passed the Trial. I’m one more step further to Ascendancy!

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Travelling down the second level, I ran into Tora again. Another day, another Master mission; this time she wanted me to eliminate several packs of creatures. Once again, I got my tracker ready and was on the hunt!

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I ended up slaying roughly forty creatures that attack with powerful leaps, which also gained me a level up as well as some additional reputation with Tora!

Travelling into the deepest part of the Crypt, I defeated the vault guards, opened the Altar and obtained The Golden Hand. This must be the hand of the good man Yeena was talking about…

Returning to the encampment, I handed it in to Yeena, where she rewarded me with one of three Jewels to equip onto my Passive Tree as well as the Book of Regrets, which granted me two respec points!

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Raiders of the Lost Vaal

WIth that completed, it was time to enter the ruins at last! The enemies here are tough – the constructs either use projectiles or are extremely quick, while the humanoid enemies have strong energy shields and heightened elemental resistances. As I rounded the corner, I ran into my old friend Haku.

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Once again, a warrior spirit of Karui needs rescuing in a corrupted area and quickly, as when I entered the Haunted Lair, a two minute timer started counting down! I quickly headed to the back of the lair, using quick skills like Lightning Tendrils and Detonate Dead to mow down the large spiders blocking my way. At the back, I encountered a corrupted Totem with the captured spirit. Defeating it freed the spirit and I quickly escaped to deliver it to a relieved Haku.

Travelling deeper into the ruins, I found myself in front of an Ancient Seal.

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Everything about it smelled Trap, but nevertheless, it was in my way and I had to proceed. I touched it:

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Well… that doesn’t look good. I opened a portal back to the Encampment and discovered, to my horror, that the whole land was covered in darkness and I was the cause of it! Speaking to Yeena first about the Apex and then Eramir afterward for additional information, my next objective was revealed – I had to travel to a pyramid beyond the Ruins and use the Apex to find and defeat this source of the darkness. Doing so would both save the land and ease my guilty conscience at the same time.

Today’s Tip: Jewels

As I mentioned above, Yeena gave me a Jewel as a quest reward. Jewels are used to grant additional passive effects on the Passive Skill Tree. In order to use them though, you must progress through the tree until you reach an empty Jewel Socket, which you must allocate a skill point for. Only then can you equip the Jewel and reap the benefits!

Jewels, like all items in the game, are also treated as currency, meaning that they can be traded to other players! You can also save unused Jewels in your stash, just in case you either want to make space for new Jewels on your skill tree or you want to transfer them over to your other builds.

Looking for some of the aforementioned items in this post? Be sure to check out the Path of Exile Items store at Playerauctions.com: they have a wide selection at a reasonable cost, and all transactions are safe and secure.

Hope you enjoyed today’s play-through post! Until the next edition, this has been Ryan from Games with Coffee, wishing you Exiles good fortune on the battlefield and reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing!

Dragon Quest/Dragon Warrior: Espresso Shot Review

Good morning and welcome to another edition of Games with Coffee! Let thy cup runneth full of beany goodness!

If the slight Olde English hasn’t tipped you off yet, today I’ll be talking about the very first RPG I’ve ever played: Dragon Warrior for the Nintendo Entertainment System! Also known as Dragon Quest in Japan, this is the first installment of the long running Dragon Quest series.

This game has many memories associated with it – every game I’ve played on the NES as a child was a challenge, but few have challenged me so like this one. But now I wonder, after almost 32 years since its original release and 29 years for the North American version, how does it fare in my eyes in the present day? Well, its the subject of today’s Espresso Shot Review! Let’s take a look:


Dragon Quest was released on May 1986 in Japan and in North America in August 1989 under the name Dragon Warrior, by Enix, a company producing RPG games before they merged with their rival, Squaresoft, in the early 2000’s to create Square-Enix. Dragon Warrior is considered to be one of the grandfather’s of Japanese RPG’s, setting the base template for all modern JRPG’s to follow.

I will be reviewing Dragon Warrior, released in August of 1989 for the NES, just over three years after Dragon Quest was released for the Famicom.

Dragon Warrior (USA) (Rev A)-0

Story

Dragon Warrior takes place in the kingdom of Aelfgard, a series of modestly sized lands with rivers, islands and the like. Many years ago, when darkness covered the land, a hero named Erdrick brought peace to the kingdom by slaying a great evil and using an artifact called The Ball of Light to banish the remaining dark creatures. He handed it over to the King in Tantegel Castle, ensuring that the kingdom would be protected.

One individual was not a fan of the Ball’s radiance; he was the Dragonlord, a man corrupted by evil magic and who could control dragons. He gathered an army, invaded Tantegel Castle and stole the Ball of Light, casting the kingdom back into darkness. He then went on a reign of terror, razing towns and causing generic havoc before settling down in his castle, Charlock, on an island surrounded by impassable waters near Tantegel.

Years later, a prophet proclaimed that a new hero will emerge – a descendant of Erdrick himself – to save the land. After the Dragonlord kidnapped Tantegel’s beautiful princess, Gwaelin, a man (the player character) arrives at the kingdom, proclaiming himself to be that descendant. The current King, believing him, instructs him to save his daughter, defeat the Dragonlord and bring the light back to Aelfgard.

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This is the hero of our story! His name is Roast.

As far as story goes, this is pretty cookie cutter: save the princess, defeat the bad guy, save the world. It was a common storyline at the time when the gaming industry was slowly transitioning to a more narrative structure as opposed to typical high score arcade fare. While common and accessible in its time, today, the storyline wouldn’t find as much traction, given that, in this writer’s opinion, older gamers yearn for more complex narratives. And yet, the simplicity of the story presented in Dragon Warrior makes this game a great, entry-level RPG for a child aged 7-10.

The most charming aspect of the story is the English translation’s use of Elizabethan (aka Olde) English. It gives the story and the dialogue a more Shakespearean, medieval tone and helps make the player feel like they’re in the middle of a fantasy world.

Gameplay

Dragon Warrior is a heavily text-based game. Every action, from talking to NPC’S, to searching for items and opening chests and to attacking and using spells, is controlled through several menu-driven options, accessed using the A button. Menu options include context specific actions like Talk, Search, Take and Door, along with traditional RPG staples like Item, Magic and Status. The interface was designed to be as simple as possible, given the limited number of inputs available to use.

Dragon Warrior (USA) (Rev A)-1

On the field, opening the menu and selecting an action will execute that action in the direction the player character is facing. So, if you wanted to talk to someone or examine an object of interest, you’d have to face in that direction, otherwise you’ll get a notice saying no one is there. Also, to use the Door command, you’ll need Magic Keys. This is a bit irksome, since it would be easier to walk up to a door and press A to open it as opposed to opening the menu and selecting the Door command itself. Future installments, along with remakes, have addressed this, but it’s still a slight chore.

The field is separated into three types: Towns, the Overworld map and Dungeons. Towns are where you can obtain information for your quest from townspeople, buy items and gear and rest to recover HP and MP.

The Overworld is the area where most of the time is spent; players must travel to towns and dungeons to progress with the story. You’ll find random encounters with various monsters. Players will encounter stronger monsters or experience higher encounter rates depending on the terrain. An interesting thing about the hilly terrain is that there’s a slight pause as you walk across, making it feel like you’re actually crossing hills.

Dragon Warrior (USA) (Rev A)-2

Bridges serve an additional purpose besides connecting landmasses, as players will see a clear difference in enemy strength once crossed. This invisible difficulty barrier helps players identify which areas to avoid until they get strong enough to go through without trouble.

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In dungeons, players will encounter stronger monsters at an increased rate, but they will find rare weapons or items necessary to complete the game. Also, since these areas are shrouded in darkness, a torch or the Radiant spell are required to be able to see your surroundings.

When a monster is encountered, a different set of commands become available: Fight, Magic, Item and Run. Fight makes your character attack with an equipped weapon, with its effectiveness dependent on the players current strength and the weapon’s attack rating. Magic casts spells in your repertoire, like Heal and Hurt. Item allows the use of items in your inventory to use in battle and Run makes your character attempt to run away. You won’t be able to escape all the time; your success rate is based on how high your agility stat is. Upon wining the battle, you gain experience points and gold.

Regarding stats, they are easy to follow and keep track of. Besides HP and MP, strength, as mentioned above, relates to fighting prowess, defense is for taking monster attacks and agility indicates if you attack first before the opponent does, if you are able to strike without missing and if you are able to run away from the fight. Status effects are limited to falling asleep, being prevented from casting spells via Stopspell and being cursed by wearing cursed items; this is expanded in further installments. Compared to the intricacies and nuances of the modern RPG, with its various stats and ailments, Dragon Warrior simplifies it all, making it very accessible to newcomers.

Dragon Warrior (USA) (Rev A)-8

At death, you get a message, saying “Thou art dead.”

If you die, either on the field or in battle, you return to the King with half your gold missing. It’s good in a sense, since you don’t lose progress in terms of leveling up, but if you’re trying to save up for the more expensive items for your quest, then you’re out of luck.

A few problems players could encounter are that the difficulty level ramps up quickly as you progress and that the only way to save is to return to Tantegel Castle and speak with the King. It’s wise to keep some Wyvern’s Wings with you, in case you’re knee deep in more difficult parts of the world, you’re out of magic and need to make a hasty retreat (or if you’re finished playing for the day and want to turn it off.). This archaic save mechanism continued to be a staple in later installments, (instead of speaking to a king, you’d confess in church), whereas other RPG’s settled for allowing players to save on the Overworld or save points within dungeons.

Another major problem is that, besides sleeping at an Inn or speaking to an wizard behind a desk at Tantegal Castle, there’s no way to recover spent MP. This makes conserving magic extremely important, as you can run out of it fairly quickly if you’re not careful.


Visuals

Legendary manga artist and creator of the Dragon Ball series, Akira Toriyama, lent his artistic talents to the Dragon Quest series. He created the artwork for characters as well as monsters, the most famous being the Slime creature, the mascot of the series.

Dragon Warrior (USA) (Rev A)-0

It’s interesting to see how his art style influenced the series over the years, especially Dragon Quest VIII, my favourite of the series. But we’re talking about the very first game, so let’s segue on back…

Graphics-wise, the 8-bit style hasn’t aged well. Colours and textures are very simple and conservative in nature, but in the present day, they look very dated. The overworld sprites, emulating the Chibi art style, look cute and animated.

Dragon Warrior (USA) (Rev A)-5

Dragon Warrior (USA) (Rev A)-6

Dragon Warrior (USA) (Rev A)-7

My biggest criticism has to be the dungeon design. It’s very bland in nature. Only when you reach the last area where the Dragonlord lies is there any difference in how dungeons look.

The biggest strength to the game’s visuals is the monster art. Toriyama’s art style ensures that the enemies silly appearances belies their terrifying strength.

Dragon Warrior (USA) (Rev A)-13

Dragon Warrior (USA) (Rev A)-14

Dragon Warrior (USA) (Rev A)-15


Music

There’s very little music in the game, but some are quite memorable. One in particular is the title theme when you turn the game on. This title theme would go on to be used in all subsequent entries of Dragon Quest, making it a well-recognized theme.

I’m particularly fond of the overworld music. It gives off a medieval, I’m-crossing-the-land vibe and adds to the atmosphere.

What I found interesting is that the dungeon music drops in octaves as you descend deeper down the floors. It’s an unique approach to identifying which floor you’re occupying, since most times you have no idea which one you’re on in the first place. This has also carried on into later installments.

There are also a few jingles that either have carried over to future installments, like the music that plays when you level up or when an enemy is defeated, or stand out, like the death theme.

The rest of the music featured in game are simple and repetitive, yet pleasant to listen to.


Replayability

In terms of post game content, there really isn’t any. Once you finish the game, you finish the game. This was standard practice at the time for early JRPG games; it was not until the mid 90’s where, as an additional challenge, optional bosses could be fought for great rewards.

The few things one could do would be to either grind for experience to max your character’s levels or to try beating the game at a low level. Both are a slog. The hardest thing someone could accomplish, however, is to speedrun the game. Yes, you read that right; Dragon Warrior can be speedrun. Check out the video below as this runner for Games Done Quick manipulates the RNG to complete the game in less than half an hour! It’s insane!


Wrapup

As I mentioned at the start of the review, Dragon Warrior is one of the original RPG’s in which future JRPG’s modeled themselves after. Positives for the game include its story. which is easy to follow, the pleasant music, the excellent enemy art done by Akira Toriyama, and the accessible, if clunky at times, menu interface. Negatives include the dated graphics, the bland dungeon design, the odd game save mechanics and the steep difficulty curve, which may throw new players out for a loop.

Overall, Dragon Warrior is a fun retro game to play and an excellent way to pass time. I give it:

4 out of 5

4/5

Answering Big Questions: A Favourite Game for Every Year of My Existence

Another day, another edition of Games with Coffee! This one’s brought to you by the Mage who wields magics of black and white, wears red all over and is a shining paragon of good, long-form video game journalism – The Well-Red Mage!

His Mageliness (I’m fully aware that’s not a word) of the Well-Red persuasion has asked in a recent post: “What is your favourite game for every year you’ve been alive?”

An excellent question, one that I’m more than willing to answer! And because I’m actually overdue for a music post as well, I’ll even throw in a favourite song/remix, just to spice things up!

We begin this rollercoaster almost 31 years ago (based on North American release dates) on the year of my birth, 1987:


December 1987: Mega Man (NES)

Favourite song: Cut Man’s Theme

Original Mega Man was HARD! I only got around to playing it in my twenties, but wow, I found it difficult. I particularly hated the Yellow Devil.

So. Much. Hate…

What I liked the most was the music, particularly Cut Man’s Theme! Check out this fun Western-like remix in which Cut Man gets ROASTED! It’s quite enjoyable:


December 1, 1988: Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

Favourite song: Dungeon Theme

OK, this is, without a doubt, my absolute favorite NES game! It was tough, but man I was obsessed with this title for years, until I beat it in my late teens. I still continue to play it to this day on either the Zelda compilation for the GameCube or through my Retropie. Even though it’s considered the black sheep of the series, it holds a special place in my heart.

The dungeon theme from this game is the most ubiquitous, having been featured in Super Smash Bros. Melee and onwards. I got here, like, a totally tubular surfer version of the theme, dudes. It’s pretty rad.


June 1989: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES)

Favourite song: Stage 2 – The Hudson River

I loved the Ninja Turtles! The first of three TMNT games for the NES, it was both unique and difficult, but still so much fun! Donatello was so overpowered…

Fun fact: the Konami code totally works for this game!

The Hudson River level was arguably where the game’s difficulty level skyrockets. The music, however, is really chill and nice to listen to. Check out chiptune remix of this awesome (but super hard) level!


February 12, 1990: Super Mario Bros 3

Favourite song: World 7 – Pipe Land

Honestly, this post can sum up how much I love this game. It was the first video game I have ever owned as a kid!

Here’s an awesome mix of the World 7 map theme to listen to! It’s a peppy and fun EDM track!


June 23, 1991: Sonic the Hedgehog (Genesis)

Favourite song: Marble Zone

Ah, my good friend Sonic. He was one of my many heroes that I looked up to as a kid. This was the game that stated it all. Since then, Sonic’s had further successes in gaming, cartoons and comics and has become a household name across the world, thanks to his blistering fast speed, his strong sense of justice and his snarky, devil-may-care attitude.

Out of all the music from the Sonic series, my absolute favorite is the Marble Zone. I have no idea why I love it so, but alas I do. Here’s a mix that I’ve recently gotten into; it’s a jazzy, funky rendition of the theme!


November 21, 1992: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Genesis)

Favourite song: Chemical Plant

And back again with some more Sonic! This one introduced Tails, Sonic’s two-tailed sidekick, the seventh Chaos Emerald and the Super Sonic mechanic. This was the first Sonic game I’ve ever played and, by far, my favourite of the retro Sonic games.

Chemical Plant was one of the more creative stages of the series with a killer theme to boot! The remastered version from Sonic Mania by Tee Lopes is my go-to favourite out of all versions of the level’s theme.


March 1993: Star Fox (SNES)

Favourite song: Fortuna

Star Fox, the pseudo-3D, on-rails starcraft shooter starring the team of the same name blasted its way into our screens in 1993. I really adore this game – I spent many a night trying to clear the first (and easiest) course as a kid, to no avail.

However, I did attempt the second course and really enjoyed the theme music for Fortuna. The One-Ups covered this theme in their signature sound; it’s smooth and funky, which I hope you enjoy as much as I did!


January 1994: Mega Man X

Favourite song: Opening Stage – Highway

1994 was a hard one – So many good games came out that year! Ultimately, Mega Man X, released in January of 1994, won in the end, simply because the character is so close to my heart, which I talk about here.

The opening stage music sets the tone of the game and the series itself. It’s gritty and tense, underscoring how grave the situation is, but is full of energy, with a great, pumping tempo and an excellent beat. It’s a stark difference to more peppy and happy tunes in the original Mega Man series. Featured here is an electronica/DnB mix with a jazzy saxophone added in, just to give it some flavour. It’s awesome!


August 11, 1995: Chrono Trigger

Favourite song (besides Corridors of Time): Chrono Trigger

One of the all-time greats, Chrono Trigger, the memorable, time-travelling RPG was released in this year. I don’t need to explain how amazing this game is; it’s well-documented. It’s even given a special distinction as one of the games featured on the AmbiGaming blog for the “Year of the RPG.” You can check out my contribution to this event here.

Now, I’m not going to share yet another Corridors of Time remix (because, while it’s an AMAZING track and my personal favourite, honestly it’s been remixed by everyone and their dog); instead, I’ll go to my next favourite: Crono’s theme from Chrono Trigger! This mix is a britpop-inspired, gorgeous version of the main theme; check it out!


September 9, 1996: Crash Bandicoot

Favourite Song – Title Theme/N.Sanity Beach

Oh man, Crash Bandicoot! I got so many good memories of my bros and I going through this game together. I used to stay up all night playing it and even tried to squeeze in a level before going to school in the mornings! I even wrote/illustrated a sequel of sorts to the game for my fourth grade creative writing class… needless to say, my teacher didn’t appreciate a story about a video game character, so I ended up with a pretty bad grade…

The title/first level theme for the game is the memorable one for me; just hearing it lights up my face like fireworks on Canada Day. I especially liked the remastered version of the theme – the folks in charge of the remaster modernized it while retaining its zaniness, which I appreciated.


January 31, 1997: Final Fantasy VII

Favourite song: Opening ~ Bombing Mission

(A third of the way through! Woo!)

I knew this list wouldn’t be complete without me mentioning at least one Final Fantasy game, let alone the best of the bunch (My personal opinion!). I’ve already waxed poetic about how this game and it’s protagonist inspired me, so check it out here.

Honestly, it was hard narrowing down a favourite song, but ultimately, Opening ~ Bombing Mission won out. It’s such an epic and intense track that sets the tone for the whole game, especially when it’s orchestrated, as demonstrated on the Distant Worlds soundtrack.


November 23, 1998: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Favourite Song: Hyrule Field

Quite possibly the greatest game ever created. Well I say that about a lot of games, but this one is certainly a contender for that title. This title, I feel, also expanded greatly on Link’s character as an altruist (based on player input, of course). You can read my thoughts on that here.

As for my favourite theme, it has to be Hyrule Field. It instills a feeling of adventure and intrigue that’s just waiting to happen! I have before you the 30th Anniversary Concert edition of the theme; it sounds majestic and makes me picture Link travelling the vast, rolling plains of Hyrule with his faithful steed Epona. Give it a listen!


September 9, 1999: Sonic Adventure

Favourite song: Welcome to Station Square

09/09/99 – Those numbers live in infamy as the North American release of Sonic Adventure for the Dreamcast. I remember playing this at a Blockbuster (remember those?) around the first time it came out and I was blown away at how awesome Sonic and the gang looked in 3D.

A tune that really stuck in my head for the longest time was the theme to Station Square. It sounds so inviting and makes Station Square a real chill place to kick back and hang out.


October 24, 2000: Mega Man Legends 2

Favourite Song: Mother Zone – Library

While the first Legends game focused on the events of Kattelox Island, including the mysterious Master System and Mother Units, the second expanded on Mega Man Volnutt’s story, including his origins as a Purifier Unit. It cumulates into a final clash at the very end between himself and Sera, the Mother Unit that wants to fulfill her programming and activate the Master System.

My favorite song from this game is the library in the Mother Zone on Elysium, right before the final confrontation with Sera. It’s haunting, and it has a real “about to enter the final battle” feel to it.


December 3, 2001: Super Smash Bros. Melee

Favourite Song: Great Bay

Man, 2001 was a stacked year for gaming! Final Fantasy X, Jak and Daxter, Rogue Squadron II, Metal Gear Solid 2, and the list goes on! Ultimately, my pick for this year has to go down to Super Smash Bros. Melee. I have so many good memories of this game: particularly one where, back when I was in high school, a bunch of us set up a TV in an unused classroom during lunch, hooked up a GameCube, got four controllers and set up some EPIC tournaments! Those were good times…

Presently, Melee is still one of my go-to games to play during game night with friends. Of all the stage music that exists, my absolute favourite is the Great Bay stage music. It’s a fantastic, orchestrated version of the Legend of Zelda Overworld theme! I can honestly put it on repeat and listen to it over and over again, it’s so good!


September 17, 2002: Kingdom Hearts

Favourite song: Hikari (Simple and Clean)

2002 was also the year I upgraded to a PS2! My first game on it was Kingdom Hearts and much like when I first played Final Fantasy VII, I also didn’t have a memory card to save my game with at first! Regardless, I love the series, with its emphasis on friendship, teamwork and never giving up on someone, even when they’re at their lowest point (ie. corrupted by darkness).

Hikari is my personal favourite from the Kingdom Hearts soundtrack. I consider this the secondary main theme alongside Dearly Beloved, the game’s title/official theme. It’s uplifting, bright and makes me feel hopeful, which sounds a bit corny, but still. I found a track that mixes the two aforementioned themes in a groovy, jazzy motif, with the focus on Hikari. Check it out!


March 24, 2003: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

Favourite song: Dragon Roost Island

Ah, Wind Waker. With its eye-popping cel-shaded visuals, robust story and gameplay and expansive, ocean-based world, this game quickly became a favourite of mine. I especially loved the sailing aspect; it’s just Link, the open sea dotted with tiny islands and his magic talking dragon boat.

Image result for wind waker boat meme

Oh, and underwater castles in magic bubbles. Can’t forget those.

The best theme from this game has to be Dragon Roost Island. It’s catchy and fun to listen to. In fact, it’s so good, they remixed it for the Rito Village in the latest installment, Breath of the Wild. Check out this version done by the London Philharmonic Orchestra as part of the Greatest Video Game Music concert!


November 24, 2004: Metroid Prime 2: Echoes

Favourite song: Temple Grounds

I remember picking up Metroid Prime 2 the day it was released. I was still in high-school then, bought it on my way home, plopped down on the couch that very night and was blown away at how different it was from the original Metroid Prime. Every aspect of the game was improved, and I really liked the new ammo-based beam system; it made playing through the game much more dire, since you have to manage your ammunition carefully. Last year, I read an incredibly detailed review on this game by one Red Metal from Extra Life, in which I learned that Retro had all of three months before the holiday season in 2004 to complete the game, when they were only 30% done! It’s surprisingly amazing, given that the final product hardly looked like it was rushed at all!

I really like the Temple Grounds theme. The grounds are the main hub throughout Samus’ adventure and it has a chill, calm, almost hopeful atmosphere to it, like you’re helping our favourite bounty hunter make progress in saving the Luminoth from the Ing. Check it out.


October 12, 2005: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

Favourite Song: Turnabout Courtroom – Trial

The first entry in the Ace Attorney series, I actually played this game and its sequels through my university years. Its visual novel style, which focuses on investigating crimes and presenting evidence in court, was something I enjoyed a lot.

My favourite tune is the Trial theme, right before the trial starts up. I feel psyched up whenever I listen to it – it’s like I’m ready to face the world, present evidence and yell Objection! I found this amazing hip-hop track that uses the theme as its base, the lyrics are great and the flow is smooth like butter. Give it a listen.


August 15, 2006: Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus

Favourite Song: Counteroffensive

Part of the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, Dirge of Cerberus stars everyone’s favourite former Turk-turned-immortal experiment, Vincent Valentine. It clears up a few plot holes from the original game, but opens up a whack of new ones, particularly revolving around the mysterious Genesis…

Image result for dirge of cerberus genesis

Most definitely mysterious…

Dirge’s gameplay also differs from the traditional Final Fantasy structure, in that it’s an over-the-shoulder, third person shooter with RPG elements. It was a bit odd, but I found it to be quite fun and different! The additional post-game missions were a plus too!

Counteroffensive is a great track; it’s the kind of track you want to put on when you know you got things to do. It’s a damn good jazz/orchestra* fusion with a crunchy electric guitar in the background in the first bit, before going all out with the orchestral elements while adding a few extra touches with the guitar. Bottom line, it’s pretty good.

*Who here bets they know my favourite genres of music by now? I mean, c’mon, I’m a coffee guy! Coffee & Jazz are a match made in heaven! And who really can hate orchestrated music?


August 14, 2007: Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3

Favourite song: When the Moon’s Reaching Out Stars

(Two thirds of the way through!)

Persona 3 is a heck of a fun game: it’s part dungeon crawler, part dating sim and all classic RPG goodness with a great story and interesting battle mechanics (I mean, the characters shoot themselves to summon their Personas, how crazy is that?!). I lost hours of my life trying to max out my social links; The most stressful thing about this game isn’t the tough fights or boss battles, but worrying about running into and upsetting one of your friends because you’re hanging out with another friend. I mean, it’s ridiculous, but a great time nonetheless.

When The Moon’s Reaching Out Stars is probably up there on the list of oddly named song titles, but it’s real catchy, even if the lyrics sound slightly depressing. It’s bubbly, J-Pop-like beats really capture that after-school feel, when all you want to do is skip homework and head to the mall, the arcade or the local cafe for your caffeine fix.


March 24, 2008: Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII

Favourite song: Under the Apple Tree

Zack! While most found him annoying, I found him to be quite endearing, mostly because he’s as hyperactive as I am at times. It was nice to see firsthand how he fits into the whole narrative for Final Fantasy VII, including how he met Aerith and Cloud, how he inherited the Buster Sword, from his honor-obsessed mentor, Angeal, and his interactions with pre-crazy Sephiroth. Also included was Genesis, introduced in Dirge of Cerberus (See 2006). Whereas the DoC version was mysterious, Crisis Core Genesis was a prat with a penchant for reading and endlessly quoting “Loveless”. One good thing about him though is that he makes a mean dumbapple pie.

Speaking of apples “Under the Apple Tree” is my favourite from the soundtrack. It’s a simple, yet soulful acoustic theme, of which I consider this to be Zack’s theme.


October 27, 2009: Tekken 6

Favourite song: Edge of Spring

One of the two fighting game on this list, I spent an ungodly amount of time playing this game, practicing and trying to beat my cousin, who rocked as Jin and Asuka. I mained Raven and Hwoarang, my two favourite characters in the series and my favourite stage was the Mystical Forest, mainly because of the stage theme, Edge of Spring. It’s such a peaceful, uptempo track. It also works as a great workout track!


March 9, 2010: Final Fantasy XIII

Favourite song: Blinded by Light

The thirteenth installment of Final Fantasy garnered a mixed reception – you either loved it or hated it. I personally enjoyed the frantic battle system, the characters and its story, which the majority of it surrounds the protagonist, Lightning, and her sister, Serah and spans two additional games in the series. Lightning herself is a badass; her no-nonsense attitude, strong will and determination to achieve her goals being an inspiration to many, including my good friend, fellow Canuck and Lighting’s #1 fan, LightningEllen (who you should definitely check out; she’s awesome!)

As for my favourite track, it has to be Blinded by Light. It’s one of the best battle themes in the series, in my honest opinion. I’ve taken a shine recently to the Dissidia 012 version of the theme, since it also mixes in a bit of Defiers of Fate and makes it sound quite epic.

Oh, speaking of Dissidia…


March 22, 2011: Dissidia 012

Favourite song: Reform

The second fighting game on this list, I got Dissidia 012 the day it came out. I remember that I wanted to get both this and the original, thinking that 012 was a completely different game. Imagine my surprise when I was told that the original Dissidia (013) was unlocked by playing through the 012 scenario. To top it off, an additional scenario could be unlocked after playing out the 013 scenario. Seriously, this game was chock-full of content!

The song, “Reform” always makes me smile – it’s the theme that plays in the menu when you start up the game. It sounds powerful and majestic and really makes one envision that they’re about to enter an arena to participate in a great battle. At least, that’s how I interpret it!


September 18, 2012: Borderlands 2

Favourite song: Short Change Hero

I really like the Borderlands series. It combines RPG and FPS mechanics and ties it into a humorous and over-the-top story with fun characters. Its sequel improves on the original’s formula, with a new cast of characters, a crazier story, new status effects and guns (LOTS of guns!), among other things!

The song that plays on the opening, Short Change Hero, has been featured in several other games (Arkham City) and movie trailers (uh… that one with The Rock in it?). Nevertheless, it’s a great song to start your adventure on Pandora; it really sets the scene, know what I mean?


July 9, 2013: Metal Gear Solid: Legacy Collection

Favourite Song: “Metal Gear Solid”: Main Theme

I got this compilation series, spanning the 25 year history of Solid Snake from my wife (We got married in November of 2012) for my birthday! I didn’t even ask for it; her co-worker recommended her to buy it for me, so that was awesome! Metal Gear is one of my favourite series, so it was a great birthday present to get!

The main theme from Metal Gear Solid is my choice track for the whole compilation. I mean, there’s not much to say about it – it’s the main theme and it’s awesome! Y’know what would make it more awesome? A jazz remix (surprise, surprise…). Check this mellow piano version of the theme.


February 11, 2014: Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII

Favourite song: Luxerion

Another year, another Final Fantasy! I got this as a Valentine’s day gift from my wife, also on recommendation from that same co-worker. It was nice to see Lightning and Serah’s story end on a happy note – they suffered for too long.

Luxerion is up there on my list of my top RPG town themes of all time. It gives off a relaxed, European town vibe and makes you forget that the world is ending in seven thirteen days.


May 12, 2015: Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster (PS4)

Favourite song: Battle Theme

I feel this is the superior of the available remasters of Final Fantasy X and X-2, simply because you can switch between the original and remastered soundtracks, while enjoying the updated graphics and extra content available.

I personally enjoyed the updated battle theme music. It sounds so much more intense than the original version, thanks to the addition of that crunchy electric guitar (which was a controversial move if you check the YouTube comments…).


November 29, 2016: Final Fantasy XV

Favourite song: Galdin Quay

I’ve been eagerly anticipating this game for quite some time and, honestly, it was well worth the wait in this writer’s opinion. I loved the setting, the main characters, the battles and the music. And while some of the secondary characters ended up being too underdeveloped and the endgame sequence could have been reworked to make it less rushed, I’m still of the opinion that it’s a great game and a well done effort by Square-Enix.

There’s lots of good music by veteran composer Yoko Shimomura, but my favourite is Galdin Quay. Something about it reminds me of going on vacation. It could be the soft acoustic guitar when you’re out on the beach area or the swanky piano that starts up when you enter the restaurant, I’m not sure, but damn is it good!


March 3, 2017: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Favourite song: Temple of Time

Who here would have thought the Nintendo Switch would be such a big hit? Not me, that’s for sure. The majority of the credit for succeeding so well goes to the 2017 Game of the Year, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It has forever changed how I look at Zelda games. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Because the soundtrack was so minimalist, it’s hard to pick out a favourite theme. In the end, I picked the Temple of Time theme. The haunting, slow piano really showcases how ruined and decrepit the once glorious temple had become in the 100 years since Link’s slumber. Naturally, I’ve found a remix to it; a slick trap version. The vocal samples may throw you off, especially if you hated the English voice acting, but overall, it really plays with the minimalist style while adding some sick beats! Check it out.


Finally! The list is done! Shoutouts to Wikipedia for helping me with NA release dates, OC Remix for the dope tunes and YouTube, because why not make a playlist to coincide with the post? Also, a big shoutout to the Well-Red Mage for asking the big question in the first place!

As for 2018, I’m not sure what my favourite game will be? I guess I’ll have to find out as the year progresses!

I hope you enjoyed this romp through gaming history! Drop a line if you agree or disagree with my choices, or if you’re enjoying the tracks I’ve selected. And stay tuned for the next few editions, where I continue to celebrate the Year of the RPG by downing an Espresso Shot over one of the grandaddies of the JRPG genre: Dragon Quest (or Warrior here in North America)! And speaking of our erstwhile Goddess of Wisdom’s RPG event, it seems that a good friend of Koffi’s might have a letter for her as well! What could it be about? Keep it locked here to find out!

Oh, and one last thing; I’m about to get involved in something BIG (writer-wise – I’m already in deep with my little baby boy, who’s now a month old! He’s so adorable!). I can’t reveal anything yet, but come around mid-March, some sorcery will be afoot. Stay tuned…

With that, this has been Ryan from Games with Coffee, hoping you’re enjoying the tunes I’ve selected (over a cup of your favourite brew, of course) and reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing!

Path of Exile Playthrough: Dealing with Bandits

Greetings fellow Exiles and welcome to another edition of Games with Coffee!” May the dark content of your mug bring you good fortune on the battlefield of life.

Today, I continue my playthrough of Path of Exile. Check out the following to get caught up:

  1. First Impressions/Part 1
  2. Part 2
  3. Part 3
  4. Part 4

The Decision

When last I left (See part 4), I was making the agonizing decision to choose whether to either align with one of the Bandit Lords and kill the other two, or kill them all to receive a skill point or two from Eramir. After considering my options, I decided to side with Oak, mainly for the health recovery benefits.

With that, Oak tasked me to kill the other two Lords and bring back their amulets so he can combine them with his to do something. It might have something to do with this place.

Find a way in.png

So, I set off to put a couple of Lords on ice. Before that however, I met a very interesting individual.


A Master of Death?

Leaving Oak’s compound, I ran into an odd floating woman with an ethereal white glow about her. Curiosity piqued, I spoke to her. She revealed that her name is Catarina, an artist obsessed with death. She pointed to her latest work – a sculpture made up of corrupted corpses – and asked (demanded more like) me to help her add to her collection.

Meeting Catarina 2.png

A master of the dead indeed…

I found my targets in an encampment nearby; a bunch of corrupted Bone Birds.

Corrupted Minions.png

Defeating each (and they’re quite tough, especially when they gang up on you) will make them your minions for a brief period of time until you return them to Catarina, who will reward you with reputation and an opportunity to purchase her unique wares. She specializes in crafting Staves, Daggers, Wands and Belts.


Intruders in Black

Back in town, Greust, the local strongman, made an interesting observation: a score of Blackguards from Oriath were heading for the Chamber of Sins, near Kraityn’s territory. Seeing that I was heading in that direction, I decided to investigate and find out why they were here in the first place.

Inside the dilapidated building, I was met with the animated remains of corpses, along with a plethora of Necromancers. As I descended to the second level, I noticed three things: Another Trial of Ascendancy was found on this level, Catarina had another mission for me and I bumped into my old ‘friend’ Piety, who left yet another cryptic message before disappearing. Deciding to deal with Piety’s mess first, I ended up meeting a woman named Helena, an ex-Blackguard, begging me to help kill a creature called Fidelitas whose been on a murderous rampage.

Rescue Helena!.png

I bested it and its minions and was rewarded with a Regal Orb: a rare currency that upgrades any Magic item into a Rare item!

Killed Fidelitus.png

Examining the strange machine next yielded a Baleful Gem, which I kept until I returned to town.

Baleful Gem.png

Meanwhile I took on Catarina’s latest mission – find two more corrupted creatures and return to her. I ran into a pair of Rotting Mummies and delivered them to her.

Rotting Mummies.png

She then told me to meet her back in town to discuss further matters.

I then took on the latest Trial of Ascendancy, which involved the use of switches to open locked doors and deadly buzzsaws that leech your health as obstacles. I quickly ran through the trial and earned my next mark towards Ascendancy!

Trial of Ascendancy 2.png

I finally plumbed the depths of the second level, killing a few rare enemies and picking up a sweet Rare Quartz Wand that was an upgrade to my current weapon.

New Wand.png

My business at the Chamber of Sins completed, I used a Portal Scroll and returned to Helena in The Forest Encampment and handed her the Baleful Gem, who offered her gratitude and information about Dominus‘ (Piety’s boss) plans. She next told me to find an item known as Maligaro’s Spike, to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. Silk then revealed to me that he once found the Spike, but lost it near the Western Forest – Alira’s territory. I also spoke to Greust, who rewarded me with one of four skill gems! I took the Herald of Ice gem.

Yeena also provided an optional quest for me; to retrieve a hand of “a good man” in the Crypt south of the Chamber of Sins, in Kraityn’s territory. And finally, Catarina had some new goods to sell to me after completing her last mission, one being a Mage’s Vestment that would be perfect for Rhuki… except she was nowhere near the level required to use it.


Battling Bandit Lords Taking on Optional Quests

Onwards to Bandit Lord slayings! After that brief interlude, I decided to take on Alira first. I headed to the Western Forest, battled through her followers and busted into her encampment. After refusing her offer to switch allegiances, she proceeded to attack, using spells just like my Witch!

Versus Alira.png

In the end, Rhuki was the better mage and I acquired her amulet.

Alira Spoils.png

Since I was in the area, I decided to check out the blocked passage leading back to Lioneye’s Watch. I ran into a bunch of Blackguards, whom I dispatched easily and retrieved a Thaumetic Emblem, used to open the way back.

Thaumetic Amulet.png

I took a detour to see Bestel and Nessa, who rewarded me with a Book of Skill and Support Gems respectively for opening the way forward! I picked up the Elemental Proliferation Support.

Book of Skill.png

More Skill Points!

Next, I headed for The Broken Bridge to take on Kraityn and retrieve his amulet. As I ventured through the area, I stumbled across another Corrupted Area. Deciding to take another detour, I ventured through the area where monsters poison on hit and got to the end where I received a Vaal Fireball after taking on a very tough monster. I had to get up close and personal in order to deal damage.

Tough Monster 2Vaal Fireball

With that out of the way, I finally took on Kraityn, who was lightning-quick and wielded two swords.

Vs Kraityn.png

Using my trusty Area-of-Effect skills, combined with my Lightning Tendrils and Detonate Dead skills to clear the floor around me, I defeated him and took his amulet.

Kraityn Spoils

Returning to Oak and handing him the amulet pieces, he combined them to form The Apex and granted me my bonuses!

Apex Obtained.png

Next, it looks like I’ll have to go through the tree at the back of the Wetlands to enter the Vaal Ruins… perhaps the Baleful Gem and Maligaro’s Spike have some connection with it? I’ll discuss this and more on the next playthrough!


Tips about Strongboxes

I’ve mentioned Strongboxes before in a guest post, but did you know you can use currency to modify them?

If you see an unidentified Strongbox, you can use a Scroll of Wisdom to identify what it is and its requirements for opening it. You can also use currency items such as the Orb of Transmutation to upgrade it from a Normal into a Magical Strongbox, or use an Orb of Chance to randomize the properties of the Strongbox, which can potentially yield better items when opened.

Strongbox (Rare 2) reward.png

After opening it and unleashing the hordes within, Area-of-Effect skills are best suited for taking out the enemies. Traps and support Totems also help prevent you from being overwhelmed by the horde. Once defeated, reap the rewards!


Looking for Regal Orbs or other items? Then be sure to check the PoE Items store on the Playerauctions.com website! They have a wide variety of items to choose from at a reasonable cost, and all transactions are safe and secure.

Until next time Exiles, this has been Ryan from “Games with Coffee,” wishing you good fortune on the battlefield and, as always, reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing!

Koffi Trigger – The Journey Begins…

Good day gamers and welcome to another edition of Games with Coffee! My friend, Athena, has declared this year the to be the “Year of the RPG!” To celebrate, she and BadgersAndBowties have picked a bunch of iconic games and asked the community to contribute and show some love for this amazing gaming genre! Learn more about it here!

The first on this list is the much-beloved Chrono Trigger: a game I’ve played to death! Throughout their journey, my characters will be writing in about their experiences as they adventure onwards. With that, let’s begin!


Dear Athena,

I had an odd dream where someone was telling me to write a letter to you. Weird huh? I wasn’t going to at first, but that voice was pretty insistent. Or maybe it was my mom telling me to wake up? God, I overslept…

So, since I’ve already started writing this thing, let me start with my name: it’s Koffi. Like coffee, but with a K. If my name doesn’t make it obvious, I’m also a coffee addict. Can’t get my day started without it. I also practice swordsmanship, and I’m told that I got some talent in it. Must be from my father; he was supposedly a great swordsman or something. I dunno, he’s not here anymore. Whether he’s dead or disappeared, no one knows or asks about it… I wonder why?

Hm, what else… so, I’m a firm believer of doing the right thing, but at the same time too, I’m a bit of a rebel. Call it a byproduct of my training and a lack of a proper male role model, but I aim to be chivalrous and honorable and all that stuff to live up to my dad’s supposed ideals, and I also want to get out, see the world and experience all that it has to offer and maybe make a few new friends along the way. Mom says I’m too young to leave home; please, I’m 16! Four hundred years ago, guys my age were sent into the battlefield to battle some magic dude and his demons! If they can go do that, I can definitely travel the world on my own!

Anyways, today is the first day of 1000 AD and the kingdom is celebrating by holding a big fair in Leene Square. No big whoop. Except it looks to be an all year kind of thing, at least according to my friend, Perks. Seriously, does the monarchy really have the money to hold a year round event like this? I dunno… I bet they’re selling off items in the Royal treasury to pay for it! That has to be it!

Oh, whose Perks you ask? Well she’s my closest friend here in the village; her real name’s Lucca, but I call her Perks, since she gets all perky and weird around machinery. I joke that she should marry whatever the heck she’s working on, which always gets me a dirty look from her. Heh, classic.

Anyways, Perks is super smart, ambitious and headstrong, and is always making new inventions with her father, Taban. She wears glasses – that has to be a sign of super smartness, right? (Is that even a word?)

It just so happens that her latest invention is making its debut today at the opening of the fair. I hope it goes better than the last time she showed off an invention – it took me four months to regrow my eyebrows.

She invented something called a”flamethrower,” which she claimed it could be used as both a tool to aid ironworkers and a weapon to defend the kingdom, or something like that. She decided to use me as a guinea pig, which backfired spectacularly, giving me the name “No-Brows Koffi” until they grew back. Seriously, the people here have no originality…

Anyway, this letters becoming long-winded, so I better get going; Perks’ll kill me if I don’t show up on time. But first, coffee!

You know, this actually is kinda fun! Maybe I’ll keep writing to you? Though I’m sure it’ll be boring; nothing exciting ever happens around here, except when Perks’ experiments blow up to smithereens.

I’m sure today will be no different.

Later!

Koffi

The Unique Blogger Award!

Good morning and welcome to another edition of Games with Coffee! May your day be as joyful and as full of flavor as the brew in your cup.

Today marks a bit of a milestone for the blog – it just so happens that yours truly has been nominated for the Unique Blogger Award!

uniquebloggeraward.png

(Insert Final Fantasy victory theme)

Apparently, there are specific rules, which I shall list below:

  1. Display the award. (See above).
  2. Thank the individual(s) who have nominated you and include a link to their blog. A little promotion for their blog is also welcome.
  3. Answer the questions asked by the individual who has nominated you.
  4. Nominate an arbitrary number of bloggers and have them answer three questions you put forth to them.

I was awarded this nomination by the gracious YahariBento, who is a fan of anime, manga, light novels and video games and writes about such topics. Thank you so much for this honor! Now, onwards to your questions!

YB: If you reincarnate as a spider that you need to survive in the cruel fantasy world and poisonous monsters are everywhere, when you level up and there are two choices for you to choose (Poison Skill or Poison Resist) which one you want to pick?

GwC: Hmm, I’d have to say Poison Skill. I’m a stalwart believer that the best defense is a good offense. Having a stronger venom than an enemy’s, combined with the spider’s natural affinity for stealth, would make for a very dangerous arachnid. A sneaky bite here, an injection of potent poison there and whatever monster looking for me would be as dead as a doornail.

YB: If you are a spider, you want to befriend other monsters (social) or want to hunt them (savage)? (You can choose one only).

GwC: I believe the key to survival in a cruel fantasy world such as this would be to befriend other monsters and strike up an alliance of sorts. As a spider, I would probably rely on social interaction between myself and others to avoid being either eaten or squashed.

YB: Assume that you can choose colour for your body (of course you are a spider again), which colour you want to paint? (You can choose more than one colour.)

GwC: I’d probably stick with blending in with my surroundings and hiding in the shadows, so I’d go with a dark brown or black. Although if I’m being honest and if I wasn’t concerned for survival, I’d like my body to be coloured dark blue with white markings.


*Equips Summon Materia*

Now, I summon the following individuals to be nominated for the next round of the Unique Blogger Award!

  1. LightingEllen
  2. The Well-Red Mage
  3. Drakulus
  4. Extra Life
  5. The Shameful Narcissist
  6. Athena – AmbiGaming
  7. Astro Adam
  8. retroredress
  9. NekoJonez

To the above, I’d like you to answer the following three questions. Answer in as much or as little detail as you’d like:

  1. What qualities or characteristics in a villian from your favourite game or series do you admire and why?
  2. If you could choose any character from any video game to become for a day, who would you choose and what (with their special abilities or powers) would you do in that timeframe?
  3. In your mind, what constitutes a Mature, Distinguished Gamer?

Get cracking friends, I paitently await your answers!

Path of Exile Playthrough: Into the Woods…

Greetings Exiles and welcome to another edition of “Games with Coffee!” It’s that time of month again, where I delve back into the dangerous world of Wraeclast. This time, I’m trying to figure out how to unblock the road connecting Lioneye’s Watch to the rest of the mainland, barred thanks to the mysterious Piety… Thankfully, the residents in The Forest Encampment in The Western Forest may have some ideas for me to accomplish that task, but it wouldn’t come cheap; they’ve been having issues with the local bandits, among other things, which require my specific skillset to solve! Let’s dig in:

Master of the Hunt, Tora

I ran into a new Master while exploring my new surroundings and exterminating the local fauna. Her name: Tora, and she is an expert markswoman with a bow and arrow on hand. Naturally, she specializes in creating hunting bows and quivers; perfect for those who favour ranged melee attacks.

new-foresaken-master-tora.png

New Master! Woo!

The task she set me on was straightforward: kill the creature inside a den that’s causing havoc on the uncorrupted areas of the forest’s ecosystem. She handed over a magical tracker that I used to find and enter the monster’s lair. Upon entering the Reeking Den, I was accosted by a swarm of serpents, with their mother, a Mutated Adder, calling the shots. Area of Effect spells and skills are the best to deploy in this case!

Defeated Mutated Adder

Check out the spoils! I even got a level up!

As per usual, defeating it gained me some reputation with Tora, and access to her stash back in the Encampment.

tora-mission-complete.png

Aw yeah!

Slaying the Great White Beast

Next up, I received a quest from a resident named Yeena to find and slay a White Beast in a cavern to the east. Seems like the poor thing has been treated roughly and has now been causing quite a bit of trouble for the residents at the Encampment. While it was important that its pain be eased for the sake of the villagers, it was also a good thing this came up – Rukhi was looking for a bit of a challenge after the last fight!

act-2.png

My girl here needs to get stronger…

Entering the sprawling, maze-like lair, I encountered large, bearish monsters, one of which dropped a Silver Coin!

Look, another Silver Coin!

It’s prophecy time when I get back to camp!

Moving on, I soon found myself face to face with the beast. The fight didn’t disappoint: it had high HP and great strength, but it was still no match for Rukhi’s magic! Single target, elemental trap and chaining skills are quite effective for this fight. I even got a chance to test out my new Vaal Detonate Dead Skill Gem – it packs a wallop!

great-white-beast-quest.png

After returning to camp and informing Yeena of the beast’s passing, she rewards you with a choice of several items, including a Quicksilver Flask! I definitely took that one.

Pro tip: keep some of your flasks, especially if they’re the same size. Trade in three of the same size and you’ll get the next size up! This is highly useful for when you have bunch of flasks in your stash that you want to get rid of – you free up space and get a better flask at the same time! Win-win!

Dealing with the Bandits?

At last, it was time for me to start the much-discussed “Dealing with the Bandits” quest, one of the main quests for Act 2. An old man named Eramir was the guy to talk to for starting this quest. He tasked me to eliminate the three Bandit Lords in the forest: Bandit Lords Oak, Alira and Kraityn. However, I learned that I could also join forces with one of the bandits and take out the other two. Joining forces with one of the Bandit Lords yields a reward based on one of the three central attributes (Strength, Intelligence and Dexterity).

Oak represents Strength and his reward grants life regeneration and physical attack and defense ups. Alira represents Intelligence and her reward grants Mana regeneration, increased resistances and a higher chance to land critical strikes. Finally, Kraityn represents Dexterity and his reward grants increases attack and cast speed, movement speed and evasion. If all three are killed, Eramir will grant you two passive points.

It’s a difficult choice to make, all things considered. Each reward has its pros and cons, but I’ve decided… To leave this as a cliffhanger and let you know what I decided to do in the next playthrough post! Haha!


Currency Watch: Silver Coins

I touched on Silver Coins before, used to generate prophecies from Navali, but did you know you can seal the prophecy and trade that sealed prophecy to another player? If you have a spare Silver Coin, which is an uncommon drop from monsters, crates or Strongboxes, you can use it to seal the prophecy and turn it into an item. This makes for a great bartering tool with players to get some advanced equipment, skills or valuable currencies, like Chaos or Divine Orbs in return for an amazing prophecy! Give it a try when you get the chance!

Looking for Silver Coins or other items? Be sure to check the PoE Items store on the Playerauctions.com website! They have a wide variety of items to choose from at a reasonable cost, and all transactions are safe and secure.

Also, be sure to check some of my other posts on the Playerauctions.com blog – I have a guest post or three you can check out!

Until next time, Exiles, this has been Ryan from “Games with Coffee, wishing you good fortune on the battlefield and, as always, reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing!