Daily Inkling – March 22 – “Mario Kart in Real Life”

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

Ah yes, spring has finally arrived where I live and with it comes potholes of epic proportions to face on both morning and evening commutes. And that leads me to today’s subject: a Daily Inkling from my good friends at Normal Happenings, who so kindly tagged me for this writing prompt! Thanks Matt and Nikki for keeping me in mind!

Today’s prompt is: “In your experience, what city or place has the craziest drivers?”

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to weave together a story using that prompt above. So, start your engines and Let’s-a-go!


OK, a city or place that has the craziest of drivers… Well, that’s an easy answer: my hometown.

It’s a small city about 30 minutes north of Toronto called Brampton. Known as the City of Flowers, this 150+ year old city is also known for having some of the highest insurance rates in the country thanks in part to the crazy drivers.

I mean, it wasn’t that bad growing up, but the huge population growth over the twenty-plus years I’ve lived there may have had a hand in getting that insurance rate so high. And the funny thing is, the people here don’t realize how bad or how dangerous their driving is at times!

Some drivers are older folk who drive slowly in an effort to be super careful. There’s nothing wrong with being careful. Their actions, however, enrage the impatient folks behind them. In their infinite wisdom, these drivers decide to swerve around the elderly ones quickly, not realizing that they themselves could be causing an even more dangerous scenario to unfold, like sideswiping another vehicle for instance.

Some drivers are these hot-shot youngsters who race down the road with expensive luxury cars like they’re spamming the Golden Mushroom item, all while flaunting how awesome mom and dad were for buying the car for them. I shake my head at the ridiculousness of it all; not only are they showing off their wealth, they’re doing it in such a dangerous way as well. My advice? Save it for the track.

Some are just freaking tractor trailer drivers who are so entitled to think that the whole road belongs to them. Yes, I’m talking to you, person driving an eighteen wheeler on the passing/fast lane! Stay in the right lanes unless you need to make a left! And for the love of the Coffee Gods people, give these semis and other large trucks their space! They do not stop on a dime like regular cars and they can’t see you!

Some are newbies or drivers who don’t drive very often. Some are totally distracted by their cellphones or other things in their car. And there are some pretty good drivers, but they are fair and few in between.

And don’t get me started on winter driving. Just a mere inch or two of the white stuff on the ground is enough to add on an additional hour of driving time, thanks to the slippery and messy conditions. Add in ice and freezing rain with the current bad crop of drivers in and around the city and you have a recipe for commuting disaster. Winter driving is so bad around here, that insurance companies give an incentive to people who choose to install winter tires in the form of lower rates!

I’m not perfect myself, but I try to be as good of a driver as I can be. After all, I got my driving education by learning in the only other city whose drivers are worse than those in my hometown: Toronto.

Between the potholes, the cyclists, the pedestrians and the streetcars, not to mention narrow and winding streets, driving in the downtown core is both an exercise of patience and a test of reflexes. Fortunately, I’ve been well prepared for this thanks to all my years spent playing games like Mario Kart.

And my uncle with whom I worked with for about a year and a half as a driver/labourer for his contracting company after he got a DUI, by which I only got this opportunity thanks to my then-girlfriend’s dad who also had a hand in starting my career as an engineer in the construction industry and eventually became my father in law after six years of dating his eldest daughter, in which three of those were done in secret, behind his back, which also led me to fear for my life a few times during that period of time.*

But… that’s another story for another day.


And that’s that folks! Hope you enjoyed it! If you’re stuck in a writing rut and looking for something to spark that writing interest, do check out the Daily Inklings: they’re filled with interesting prompts!

Full disclosure: I’ve collaborated with Matt and the gang on a little collaboration called “The Games That Define Us!” (TGTDU!)** Check out my contribution here! It’s about Final Fantasy VII, Cloud and how he changed my life for the better.

Oh, and be sure to check out the Tracking Shells Mario Kart collab on NH! It’s brilliant!

So, that’s it for this edition. Stay tuned here though as I got a special little miniseries lined up in celebration of this blog’s two year anniversary! It’s currently in development and may take a while for its release, but it’s gonna be exciting! I can’t wait to share this with you all!

So, this has been Ryan from Games with Coffee, breaking through my writer’s block, stretching out my grey matter and, as always, reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing!

*I’m submitting this sentence as part of the March 23 Daily Inkling. Might qualify, might not. Eh.

**I came up with this acronym. TGTDU 4 LYFE!

A Year in Review [2018]

Hi all! Welcome to the second year-end edition of Games with Coffee! It’s December 31st; the final day of 2018 and what a year it has been folks. Much has happened in the span of twelve months since I wrote my Year in Review, so I’ll do my best to condense the highlights. So, let’s begin where all years and stories begin:

At the beginning.


January

Probably the biggest, most important thing that happened this year was the fact that I became a father on Friday January 12th, 2018, at 8:02 pm. Yes, on that day, yours truly became a Mature, Distinguished Gamer Dad to a baby boy name Arjun Ryan Cheddi. A couple of fun facts about my little guy’s entry into the world:

  • He was born in the middle of a really bad storm: it started with regular rain and as the temperature plummeted, the rain turned into freezing rain and finally into snow. By the time we rolled into the hospital at about six pm or so, we were already at three inches of snow and counting.
  • From the time my wife went into contractions to the time he came out: almost six hours. He wanted out really quickly.
  • Speaking of which, between the first examination when we arrived at the hospital and the second, he went from head first to feet first (breach) and facilitated the need for a C-section. The surgery was the scariest moment of my life.
  • He was born weighing four and a half pounds; grossly underweight. The medical team taking care of us at the time put him in the NICU and spammed Cure (AKA IV needles and formula) to get him back to a proper weight. We spent two or so nights at the hospital, but I swear it felt like months…

I joined Twitter earlier and posted some of my exploits when my little buddy was born. The reception I’ve received was wonderful and I thank each and every one of you for making the wait much more bearable. Another thank you goes to Nintendo and the Switch. Super Mario Odyssey and Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild both made things much more bearable as the wife and I waited to see how our son would be fairing.

The first few nights after becoming parents were hard on both of us, but luckily my in-laws let us stay at their place while we got our bearings straight and while my wife recovered from the surgery. We spent the better part of three months there and a lot of other important things happened during that time.

Another great thing that happened was that Games with Coffee received its first award! So that was also quite wild! I have to give a shout out to YahariBento for the nom; hope you’re doing well buddy!


February

February was the month where I participated in my first blogging collaboration! Ian from Adventure Rules held a Valentines day collab, where myself and nineteen other bloggers signed up to be randomly assigned another blogger, read their blog and talk about the wonderful things that they write about. What I loved about this was that it wasn’t limited to just gaming; this event brought out all kinds of writers writing about all kinds of subjects.

Case in point, I wrote a post about my secret Valentine, Debi from Womb 2 Cradle n’ Beyond! Her blog talked about her struggles with conception before giving birth to twins. She continues to write about her experiences with her new children and provides little hacks and such to make the parenthood job a lot easier. Hope you’re doing well Debi!

February was also a big milestone for me as I signed up to become The Hyperactive Coffee Mage on The Well Red Mage!

HyperactiveCoffeeMage.png

My first post would not debut until April, but joining this group at the time I did changed my life for the better. It was here, hanging out with the Mages and Warriors of Light on the Discord Mage Chat that I truly understood what community meant. Beyond video games, we talked about family, friendships, work and other important discussions. Red Mage and I have had a few personal discussions about parenthood when I first signed up that I truly and wholeheartedly appreciated from him. So thanks fearless leader, let’s make 2019 truly magical!


March

Work-wise, March was the start of how things could get extremely busy extremely fast, especially when you’re down a team member. Balancing this, writing on my blog, starting up as a Mage, being a part of a clan in Clash Royale, my Quest and being a dad to my almost three month old son at the time was truly a test of how to prioritize my time.

Sadly, I didn’t really pass it. I got booted off my old Clash clan, but joined another one shortly after learning that a good deal of co-workers were on a clan of their own. I stayed there for some time, until the new overhaul came into effect, but I’ll get into that a little later.

Also, I had to give up most, if not all of my Quest resolutions that I worked tirelessly on back in December. That stung the most. The important thing here was that I learned that I needed to reduce my priorities and be more flexible to change. I was supposed to write a post about this, but… Well, let’s just say that parenthood makes you forget about things until the last minute (ie. now for instance!).

This wouldn’t be the first time that the ebbs and flows of my work would affect my life. To be honest though, I enjoy it. I love what I currently do at my job. I feel that I’m thriving better here than I ever had at any other job prior to this one, so I’m super thankful to work where I am today. I’m also happy to say that having a beginner’s mindset throughout this time has helped me out tremendously. I recommend taking a look at that link if you’re having a hard time at work.


April

A quarter of the way through. April was a busy time for me. My wife, my son and I recently resettled back into our house and set up a night time routine for the little guy which was definitely starting to work well.

I also celebrated my blog’s first anniversary by starting up a brand-new feature: Beans and Screens! It’s an ongoing series set in a talk-show format where I interview guests and let me tell you, it’s a lot of fun to do! My first guest was my alter-ego, The Hyperactive Coffee Mage, who actually interviewed me! I shared a couple of things about myself that I’d normally not share to others outside the Internet. You can check it out here.

Along with that was the debut post on TWRM! My first long-form review was about Sonic the Hedgehog 2 for the Game Gear and I had so much fun writing that up!

I also continued my write ups about my experiences with Path of Exile. I really like this game, the only problem I had was getting time to play it. Unfortunately, Part 6 is the last one I’ll be doing for some time until I get more of an opportunity to play and write about this massive game. Fortunately though, PoE is coming to PlayStation 4, so there’s something to look forward to!

Finally (and this is most important), I picked up and started playing God of War for the PS4. I didn’t know it then, but this game would mean so much to me when I finished playing it.


May

May was a very sad time for my family. My wife’s grandmother, her Aaje, passed away after a short bout of cancer. She had health problems earlier in the year, but they didn’t exacerbate until closer to the end of the month. On May 28th, she passed away, but she was able to pass peacefully with her dying wish fulfilled: to live long enough to see her great-grandson, AKA my little guy.

I used several examples from gaming to help cope with this loss, as I discussed here. I was very sad when she passed; she considered me her grandson, despite me only being related to her through marriage.

May was also the month where a huge Clash Royale overhaul happened. Gone were the old Clan Crown Chest (say that three times fast) events. What replaced it were Clan Wars. Basically, it’s a new mode that encourages participation and teamwork from all members of a clan. There are two phases to a war. Phase one is the Collection Day, where clan mates participate in battles to collect Clan Cards. Winning battles nets you more cards for the clan. Phase two is the War Day, where five clans battle one another using the cards they’ve collected in the Collection Day phase to gain victory medals. This is where teamwork within your clan is paramount as you work with your clan mates in practice battles to determine the optimal deck to go into your final battle with.

The more medals won, the higher your clan’s rank at the end of the war. At the end of the war, Clan War Trophies are awarded, similarly to regular ladder battle Trophies. First place earns 100 trophies while last place loses 100. It’s a dynamic, exciting way to interact with the clan and makes working with a clan more meaningful. It was here in this month, after being kicked out from my latest clan that I joined the Pantheon – a group of ten clans. I started in one and then transferred to my current clan, aptly called KRATOS. Honestly, they’re the best bunch of clan mates I’ve ever had the pleasure of battling with!


June

Halfway into the year, June turned into one of the busiest months of this year. Work was ramping up and I participated in a new collaboration with the Mages, where I listed the top seven best PlayStation (PSX) games! I followed up with seven other PlayStation Hidden Gems to compliment this list! Check it here!

I also had the pleasure of having a massive discussion with the Hopeful Sega Mage (Previously known as the Hopeful Handheld Mage) about the upcoming Sega Ages collection! It was a fun talk between the two of us that you can take a look at here.

June was also the month when I finished playing God of War. It was the first game that I’ve beaten since I became a father and I felt profoundly changed by it, thanks to the interactions between Kratos and Atreus.


July

July marked the half year we’ve had our little buddy in our life. It also marked my 31st year on this plane of existence. I celebrated both of these milestones by getting my first tattoo:

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This design was special to me for several reasons: The Hylian Shield from Ocarina of Time was my favourite shield design from the games and I’ve always wanted it on my arm. It represents my desire to protect the people important to me. Along the edges on the top though, I put two other things on it: My son’s name in Norse Runes and his birthdate in Roman numerals. I was inspired to use the Norse runes by God of War and its take on fatherhood, while the numerals were an awesome take on immortalizing the date of my son’s birth. I have to shout out to my tattoo artist, Steve from KLA Ink for putting this together for me!

Meanwhile, July remained to be a busy, busy month. I wrote a review for one of my favourite games on the PlayStation: Alundra! I also had a few interviews on Beans and Screens featuring Link and Zelda from Breath of the Wild and with my good buddy and fellow mage, Daniel Flatt, the Mail Order Ninja Mage! Both were great interviews!

And finally, July saw the release of a new fanfiction: The Legend of Zelda: Black and White! I’ve written up both parts one and two and they were inspired by the Noire TWRM Radio mix! Check out both and stay tuned for further installments!


August

August was the least active this blog has ever been since its inception. I joined in on two collaborations: one was the Writer’s Raid by NekoJonez, a really good friend I’ve gotten to know quite well throughout the year. The second was the massive Games that Define Us headed by Matthew from Normal Happenings. Both of those released in November, but I was hard at work at writing those up.

I also put up my latest long-form #magecrit of Soul Blade, one of my favourite fighting games for the PlayStation. Check it out here!

August was also the month when my little guy used rolling as his primary mode of transportation. He would roll around until he got stuck, roll onto his stomach and then rotate until he finds a direction he wants to roll in. He was basically Tank Baby and it was so cute!


September

Both August and September were busy months, with September being the busiest, at least in terms of work. My job kept me busy in the summer months leading into fall and winter. Coupled with the fact that I was knee-deep in collaboration work I was left with little time to write on my own blog. I did end up catching up on a lot of great games I picked up from April onward, like Octopath Traveller on my birthday, Splattoon 2, Stardew Valley and Shovel Knight, Mega Man X Legacy Collection and others. September was a hardcore month for me in terms of getting games completed! This also included Tomb Raider Anniversary, which was my entry for the Writer’s Raid collaboration.

The biggest contribution for September was the Hyper-Ninja God of War Spoiler-Filled Discussion! Truthfully, this was supposed to go out since July, but I procrastinated with posting it. Nevertheless, this was a doozy of a post and filled to the brim with spoilers from the game, go check it out (if you’ve beaten it, of course!)

Last but not least, I was a guest on a podcast! Specifically Mage Cast by the Well Red Mage. Myself, Red and our musical jazz master of a mage, The ABXY Mage discussed Earthbound in its entirety and I learned a few things about the game during our discussion that I’ve never realized or overlooked in its entirety! Go check it out!


October

October was my half-assed attempt to catch up. I did end up writing up a post on Pokemon and growing up with the series. That brought up a lot of good memories with my brother and best friend Anto as I was writing it.

On top of that, I (in my infinite wisdom) decided I wasn’t busy enough, so I tackled a review of a game I’ve never played before: Another World for the Nintendo Switch. Easily the fastest review I’ve ever written on TWRM, I had to say, I really enjoyed playing the game! It has a definite impact long after you’ve beaten it; in fact, I’m still thinking about it right now…

October was also the month that I took my first family vacation. My little buddy really liked Jamaica. It was also very relaxing for myself as I got in some good writing, the aforementioned Another World review included.


November

And here we have the biggest, busiest month of this year. November saw the release of The Games That Define Us: a collaboration of over thirty bloggers who each shared a game that truly impacted their lives for the better. Working with these individuals was a true, true blessing, similar to that of working with the Mages. These pieces need, NEED to be read! In fact, I have to declare that The Games That Define Us is the collaboration that defines 2018 in general. Gamers of all shapes, sizes, nationalities, genders and backgrounds coming together in the spirit of harmony and community to share their feelings on the games that truly helped them be their best selves.

If you guys from TGTDU are reading this, I love you all! I can’t wait to work with you guys again in some way, shape or form!

By the way, my contribution was no big deal compared to the others. The Game That Defined Me was, of course, Final Fantasy VII. But the thing is, it’s only one of four other games that define who I am as a person. I’ll be writing about these other three games in follow up posts throughout next year!

The next collab released was the Writer’s Raid by my good friend NekoJonez. He got together a crack team of writers, including my good friend, the ABXY Mage and we shared our thoughts about the venerable gaming icon, Lara Croft, and the games that she starred in. My contributions included the Legacy of Lara Croft, spanning from the original Tomb Raider and beyond and an Espresso Shot Review of Tomb Raider Anniversary. Go read these and then head to the hub to read up on other entries!

Baby-wise, this was the month where my little warrior child transitioned from rolling to army crawling. All I needed now was a baby-sized Sneaking Suit, a bandanna and a cardboard box and I would have a mini Snake.

*looks up baby-sized Sneaking Suits on Google*

November also saw my return to Mage Cast, along with The Mail Order Ninja Mage, Daniel Flatt as we three mages talked about (arguably) the greatest Zelda game ever: Zelda II Breath of the Wild. This was a fun podcast to record and even more fun to listen to at the end of the day, so go listen to it. Like, right now! Do it!

And finally, I helped usher in a new age of TWRM in the form of Instagram. Yes! Yours truly is the administrator for the The Well Red Mage’s Instagram account! The plan is to regularly post thrice a week with content featuring our Mages, our content and what we’re all playing over the weekend.


December

Alas, from the end of November into December started the biggest and maddest rush for work yet. It was year end for most companies and that meant lots and lots of requests to get things finished so that people can get paid. This, coupled with new jobs and such put a real damper in write ups for the blog, here or otherwise. It also killed any chance I had to complete any stories that I’ve either been working on during the year or have started back in summer.

With collaborations, trying to catch up with my own content, keeping up with the massive workload and making sure I had enough room for family time, it then occurred to me that I evidently took on more than I could chew. Thus, I’ve made the decision to lay off a bit on collaborations and posting on the blog altogether until after March of 2019. I want to focus a bit on getting some content prepared ahead of time and to get some headway with my stories. I promised myself I’d get my Final Fantasy VII-inspired Sonic story finished and I’m gonna make do on it, somehow.

In the meantime, I finished up my second annual Last Minute Christmas Guide, split into two lists. These gifts are good suggestions for the new year as well, so go check them out if you ever need gift ideas for someone next year!

And as of now, my little Arjun has three whole teeth and is crawling like a cute little boss. My god, he’s gonna be a year old in two weeks time! It’s gonna be amazing to see this little kid grow. It’s like my love for that mini-me grows every second of every day.

Fatherhood has, so far, been the most rewarding thing to happen to me and it’s something I’m determined not to take for granted.

Which now leads to today. As I said earlier, I’m now on hiatus from today up until March 1st. My hiatus might be longer, depending on the rhythm I’m on during my time off, but I’ll keep everyone posted. I’ll still be working the TWRM Instagram account and promoting content on Twitter and such, but you won’t hear from me for a bit.

As for what to expect for next year, definitely more Espresso Shot Reviews. I’ve had a blast playing tons of games (my latest obsession is Smash Bros. Ultimate!) and I want to get into the groove of reviewing games. It’s quite fun actually!

More Beans and Screens are upcoming! I have some interviews secured and with the time off, I should be able to get some solid Q & A’s in.

More personal stories! Maybe! I’m still debating it actually. *Grins*

More music posts!

Definitely more advice columns! Living as a Mature, Distinguished Gamer is not an easy path to live, but I’m hoping to share some advice for those who want to walk that path.

Most importantly, more actual stories. I want to fully finish, edit and post up the first part of my FFVII/Sonic fanfiction this year. The title: Mobius VII: Escape from the City. This has been a decade-long endeavor for me and for me to finish this off and put it up for public reading would truly be a blessing. I also have the rest of my Zelda fanfic to write up. I’m hoping that the climax and ending will make my readers react the way I want them to. *Laughs*

And then there’s my magnum opus: an original story that’s been in the world building stage since I was fifteen years old. It was only a few years ago though that the ideas finally cohered together into something that I wanted to write about. I’m going to take the time in 2019 to work on this story, get the plot, the characters, the setting and the magic system (it’s a fantasy story) to the point where I feel that I can finally put pen to paper and start writing. It’s exciting and scary at the same time and I’m looking forward to it.

To close off, I want to send a huge, huge shout out to my friends the Mages and Warriors of Light on the Mage Chat. Shout out to The Well Red Mage for being such an awesome dude to hang out and work with. Shout out to Matt from Normal Happenings, Ian from Adventure Rules and NekoJonez for the excellent collaborations. And finally, shout out to you, the reader. Without you guys reading my posts, writing comments and promoting my work, I would be naught but a blip on this vast ocean of gaming related blogs. I love you all and I wish you all the very best in 2019.

With that, this is Ryan from Games with Coffee, wishing you all a happy and healthy new year. See you all in March.

The Second Annual Games with Coffee Last-Minute Christmas Shopping Guide! Part 2: Stuff!

Welcome to Part 2 of the Second Annual Games with Coffee Last-Minute Christmas Shopping Guide! It’s only a few more days until the big day, so if you’re stuck on what to get or need some inspiration for gift giving, you’ve come to the right place!

If you haven’t read Part 1, click here to check it out!

Continuing on from my previous list, Part 2 will cover apparel, accessories, trinkets and other recommendations that would be great to give this holiday season, if you haven’t already went and made your purchases! As I mentioned earlier, I won’t be providing links, just ideas on what to get for your favourite person this holiday season.

Warning: Shameless Plug Incoming!

Once you find that perfect gift or gifts, chances are you’ll need to wrap it up and put a neat little gift tag on it, right? Well, instead of some generic, boring tags you can find at the store, why not print out a set of really spiffy, hand-lettered tags made by my awesome wife, Usha from the blog Lettering by Usha!? For a paltry sum, you can get a PDF copy of a set of beautifully designed printable tags that you can print out, cut up and attach to your gift! Tags like these make a gift that much more personable, so when you’re done with this list, click here to get to her Etsy shop and pick up a set today!
End Shameless Plug!

And now, onto the list!


Apparel and Accessories

Alright, let’s face it: sometimes you just wanna wear and show off your favourite gaming series. From casual to professional and everything in between, I’ve got a few gift suggestions for the Mature, Distinguished Gamer.

*Note that several of these items are available for purchase on ThinkGeek, however they’re note sponsoring this post.*

Socks

Dress codes in professional settings can be a tad restrictive, but it doesn’t mean you can’t show off your gamer pride in some ways! And one of the best ways to do that is by wearing an awesome pair of socks, like these ones:

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Eye-catching and comfortable!

Socks are one of those items that you need (unless you live and work on the beach, then no socks for you!), so why not make it fun! These Mega Man socks aren’t the only ones available though; you can find a whole slew based on your favourite series or characters online! For example:

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Metroid: Samus Aran Socks

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(Clockwise from top left) Super Mario, Mario Kart, Metroid, Legend of Zelda, Super Nintendo-motif.

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Halo Casual Crew Socks

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There are even God of War Socks!

The choices available are only as limited as your search terms on Google or Amazon!

T-Shirts

For Casual Fridays, weekends or anytime in between, nothing beats a T-Shirt. Again, there are tons available, but here’s some ideas to choose from:

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Princess Peach T-Shirt

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“Scarface” Legend of Zelda Shirt (I have this one, it’s awesome!)

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Divine Beasts Women’s T-shirt

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Shovel Knight Shirt

 

Sweaters and Hoodies

Still on the hunt for an ugly Christmas sweater? Here’s a few suggestions:

Pokémon Winter Sweater

Pokemon Ugly Sweater

Pokémon Pikachu Holiday Sweater

Pikachu Ugly Sweater

Ugly Christmas Sweater: Nintendo (S)

Legend of Zelda Ugly Sweater

Hoodies are also a great choice to get. Who doesn’t want to feel warm when it’s -30 degrees Celsius outside!

Kingdom Hearts Evil Heart Hoodie (MD)

Kingdom Hearts Heartless Hoodie

Mass Effect N7 Long Vinyl Ladies' Cowl Hoodie

Mass Effect N7 Hoodie

Space Invaders Sleeve Print Hoodie

Space Invaders Hoodie

Wallets & Watches

If you’re eyeing some wallets, here’s some ideas for you!

Yoshi Flap Wallet

Yoshi Flap Wallet

Kingdom Hearts Sora Wallet

Kingdom Hearts Sora Flap Wallet

Kingdom Hearts Fandom Wallet - Exclusive

Kingdom Hearts Fandom Wallet

Atari Black Katakana Wallet

Atari Black Katakana Wallet

Nintendo Mario World Wallet

Super Mario World Wallet

Shadow of the Tomb Raider: Wallet

Shadow of the Tomb Raider Wallet (Also available in a large format)

NES Controller Zip Wallet

Nintendo NES Zip Up Wallet

Watches are also a great gift to give for this holiday season! Here’s a few ideas:

Legend of Zelda Leather Watch - Exclusive

Legend of Zelda Men’s Watch

Pokémon Pokeball Watch

Pokemon Pokeball Watch

8-Bit Hearts Watch

8-Bit Hearts Watch

8-Bit Watch

8-Bit Watch

Fallout RadGlow Watch - Exclusive

Fallout RadGlow Watch (Looks pretty neat!)

Nintendo Mario Watch - Black

Nintendo Classic Mario Watch

Sonic Hedgehog Watch

Sonic the Hedgehog Watch

Toys and Collectibles

Have some young’uns in your life? Or just a collector yourself? Then behold some ideas for you!

Amiibo - Ridley

Look at him, standing there all menacing-like…

Amibo

The collectible that does more than collect dust on the shelf, it can unlock a wealth of content in compatible Nintendo games. For instance, in Smash (referenced in my previous post), using an amiibo unlocks a figure player to use and level up. Young and old, amiibo make the perfect stocking stuffer for your favourite person!*

*Just make sure they own a Switch or any other compatible Nintendo system first…

Nendoroid - Kratos

Kratos as you’ve never seen him before!

Nendoroids

Nendoroids are representations of your favourite gaming, anime and pop culture characters chibi-fied. These cute collectibles are highly poseable and come with a wealth of accessories so that you can recreate your favourite scenes! An excellent, albeit pricey, present to give!

Hasbro, makers of board games aplenty, seems to have a pretty good relationship with gaming IP’s of all kinds. Hence why you see icons like Mario slapped on Monopoly all the time. I haven’t had a real opportunity to play any new board games, so I can’t put forth any recommendations on that front.

Books

However, I can recommend a couple of books! For instance:

Image result for norse mythology neil gaiman

Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology is a great companion to anyone playing God of War. It provides backstory to the many characters you see in the game and provides some context to some of the tales you hear from Mimir. I highly recommend paring this book with the game.

Image result for little red book of writing

The Little Red Writing Book is a great gift for the writer (or blogger!) to give this season. It’s got a Well Red Recommendation from the Well Red Mage himself. (I’m totally coining that one Red!). This book helped me a lot in terms of my writing, both here and on my fictional works, so it’s on my recommended list.

And now for a couple books that may seem out of place on a list like these, but here me out:

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If anyone you know is looking to make some changes for the new year, I recommend these two books. The Code of the Samurai and How to Live Like a Gentleman are books that have helped me become a Mature, Distinguished Gamer over the years and I find myself re-reading these on occasion.

And last but certainly not least:

Coffee Mugs

Of course on this list we can’t forget about coffee mugs! Here’s a few to look for:

Zelda Heat Changing Mug

Legend of Zelda Heat Changing Mug

Super Mario Turtle Mug

Super Mario Red Shell Mug

Spyro the Dragon 3D Sculpted Mug

Spyro 3-D Mug

PAC-MAN 20 oz. Sculpted Ceramic Mug

PAC-MAN Mug

Super Mario Group Photo Mug

Super Mario Group Picture Mug

Crash Bandicoot: Crash Mug

Crash Bandicoot Mug

Come To The Dorkside Mug

Come To The Dorkside Mug

Game Boy 16oz Heat Change Molded Mug

Game Boy Heat Changing Mug


And there you have it! All the ideas you’ll need over the next day and a half to get you shopping done! But don’t think these are only good for Christmas; you can pick up these items any time during they year as a gift for any occasion!

So, good luck on your shopping everyone! This is Ryan from Games with Coffee reminding you to stay safe during that mad rush, enjoy the holidays and the food and gifts they offer and reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing!

See you at the end of the year!

The Second Annual Games with Coffee Last-Minute Christmas Shopping Guide! Part 1: Games!

Hey everyone! Welcome to another edition of Games with Coffee!

With Christmas just around the corner, I’m once again creating a list of last minute gift ideas that will be sure to please the cherished gamer in your life!*

*Results may vary.

Unlike last year’s list, I’ll be splitting this entry into two lists. The first will be solely about games and the other will be for gaming and pop culture merch (apparel, toys, collectibles, etc. ). Also, I won’t be supplying any links: I’m just here to supply the ideas to either jump start or help complete your Christmas shopping! The items I list here and in the next entry should be relatively easy to find/procure (Google and Amazon will be your best friends during this harrowing time…)

Warning: Shameless Plug Incoming!

Once you find that perfect gift or gifts, chances are you’ll need to wrap it up and put a neat little gift tag on it, right? Well, instead of some generic, boring tags you can find at the store, why not print out a set of really spiffy, hand-lettered tags made by my awesome wife, Usha from the blog Lettering by Usha!? For a paltry sum, you can get a PDF copy of a set of beautifully designed printable tags that you can print out, cut up and attach to your gift! Tags like these make a gift that much more personable, so when you’re done with this list, click here to get to her Etsy shop and pick up a set today!

End Shameless Plug!

Now, onto the list!


Nintendo [Switch]

Games-wise, the Big N’s second year post-Switch hasn’t been as exciting as the first year’s, but nevertheless, the Switch has a solid lineup of games. Surely, you’ll find the perfect one for that special someone in your life, but how’s about I provide a few suggestions?

Two of 2017’s best games are still perfect gifts to give to someone looking for a deep and riveting adventure to immerse themselves into! Super Mario Odyssey presents a fun, light story about Mario and his top-hat looking buddy, Cappy, as they journey through each kingdom to stop Bowser from marrying Princess Peach and rescue both her and Cappy’s sister, Tiara. Odyssey shows off the best that Mario platforming has to offer, borrowing heavily from games such as Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy. 

Breath of the Wild on the other hand, is one of the best Legend of Zelda games released in a long time. You can hear myself and my good friend, The Mail Order Ninja Mage (Daniel Flatt) talk highly of the game on The Well Red Mage’s podcast, Mage Cast. I’ll let you listen to that to tell you just how good of a game it is.

Splatoon 2 is also a great choice for the consummate FPS gamer owning a Switch. It operates differently than traditional shooter in that the focus is on inking turf for your team as opposed to blasting everything that moves. There are all kinds of modes to play and practically all of them focus on teamwork.

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Super Mario Party is also a great game to get this holiday season for family get-togethers. Like Smash, it’s the best version of its series released in recent years as it goes back to its roots and shows just how great Mario Party is. A definite holiday classic!

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If you’re aching for a JRPG with a classic, Final Fantasy feel, look no further to Octopath Traveler! I adored this game so much; eight separate stories focusing on a character’s particular struggle, fantastic battle and job systems and a beautiful graphical style that I hope is used more often in RPG’s of this caliber. Honestly, this should have won awards for Best RPG, but I digress.

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Seriously though, let’s get to the biggest game being released this holiday season: Super Smash Bros. UltimateUltimate is THE game to get this holiday season for anyone who owns a Switch. Don’t take my word for it, just talk to everyone about the hype this game has generated. Also talk to me about it because this game is off the CHAIN! The venerable multiplayer fighting series where fighters knock their opponents off-screen to win is the biggest iteration ever released, with over 70 characters, 100 stages, tons of game modes and endless hours of entertainment. Definitely, definitely recommended to get for Christmas!

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If online Smashing or Turf Inking is high on your special person’s priorities, consider picking up the Nintendo Switch Online subscription. Not only is it required to play online, but a subscription comes with access to a ton of old school NES games! Win-win.

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Sony [PlayStation 4/ Vita]

PlayStation 4 has had a banner year this 2018 with its list of exclusives. My biggest pick to get for the holiday season would be God of War, recent winner of Game of the Year at The Game Awards. God of War continues the story of the Kratos, former Greek God of War, who lives in the harsh, cold wilderness of Midgard, one of the Nine Realms in Norse Mythology. He had cast aside his old life and settled down with a wife and son up until his wife’s death. Her final wish was for Kratos and his son, Atreus, to climb to the highest peak in all the Nine Realms and scatter her ashes. And while that is the main objective of the story, the majority of the game tells the story of the bonds between father and son and the trials and tribulations they both endure throughout their journey.

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Another must-get exclusive on the list is Marvel’s Spider Man. Easily one of the best Spider Man games in a long time, Spider-Man continues Peter Parker’s story as the web-slinging superhero. It’s a game that’s on my radar to get for Christmas (*wink wink!*). From what I heard, the web-slinging mechanics are as good or better than the ones in Spider-Man 2 [PS2] (which I played a ton of!). Grab it and check it off your Christmas List!

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Want some more suggestions? Pick up Guacamelee! and Guacamelee! 2; Both are excellent games to play!

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Ni No Kuni 2 is a great choice as well for the RPG fan!

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Yakuza 6 is great for those who are fans of Action-RPG’s and badass ex-Yakuza bosses.

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Detroit: Become Human is an excellent choice for those who love narrative-based gameplay.

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The remastered Shadow of the Colossus is a masterpiece that can’t be missed.

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And last year’s fantastic exclusives, like Horizon: Zero Dawn, are also excellent gift ideas to give as well.

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There’s a fairly good chance that the majority of these aforementioned titles will be available for free on PS Plus, so why not get them a yearly subscription for them?! PlayStation Plus grants members access to multiplayer games, allows for free pick up of select games monthly and let’s players in on exclusive sale prices for games. A great gift idea IMO!

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Microsoft [Xbox One]

Xbox fans! Don’t think I left out you out of the loop! I don’t own one, but I know of many people who own the Microsoft system who have suggested some solid games to gift, like Sea of Thieves

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Forza Horizon 4

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Sunset Overdrive

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Gears of War 4

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Halo 5: Guardians

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and Rare Replay (My biggest recommendation due to all the great Rare games available on the compilation!).

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Another recommendation put forth to me is a game called RecoreIf your gamer is a big fan of old school gaming, this would be a good choice to get as well.

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And finally, the best gift that should be in every Xbox One gamer’s stocking is the XBox GamePass. AKA the “Netflix of Video Games,” GamePass grants Xbox One gamers access to a huge catalog of games all for a monthly subscription fee.

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With exclusives done with, onward now to third party/cross-platform games!


Third Party/Cross-Platform

Beyond the above exclusives, there are a ton of of other games to pick up, from third party games developed by well-known studios to indies that have made quite the impact.

Moonlighter is one of those indies that I want to pick up and was recommended to me by The Well Red Mage.

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CelesteI’ve recently played and I absolutely adored it! The game easily deserves the nods it gained for The Game Awards, especially the big win it earned for Best Independent Game.

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I recently started playing Undertale and it operates more as a thought experiment with RPG mechanics; it’s quite interesting, despite it being the older one in this list.

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Dead Cells is also high on the recommended list, as are other Metroidvania’s like Axiom Verge and a game I’m recently playing (for free this month on PS Plus): Iconoclasts.

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Once again, I’m recommending Stardew Valley to pick up;  a relaxing farming simulator that’s incredibly engaging. A multiplayer patch is about to drop on the Switch any minute, so it makes it worthwhile to pick up!

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Along with that is Shovel Knight; an excellent platformer whose title character is an Assist Trophy in Smash.

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SNK released a 40th Anniversary Collection of games, which includes titles like King of FightersMetal Slug and Crystalis.

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Capcom also joined in on the action, releasing the Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 and 2, consisting of the first eight Mega Man X games.

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Activision published the Spyro: Reignited trilogy; the first three Spyro games remade from the ground up in glorious HD.

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Even Sega got in on the retro re-release train, bringing out (yet another) collection series called Sega Ages – older titles given new life thanks to new modes and online leaderboards. The Hopeful Sega Mage and I had a lengthy discussion about this new collection that you can check out here.

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Dragon Ball FighterZ is one of the best Dragon Ball Z fighters since Budokai! I definitely need that one in my life, and it’s one I recommend as a gift!

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If assassinations and exploring Ancient Greece are your thing, go check out Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey! Highly recommended to me to play, so I’ll recommend it to you as well!

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SoulCaliber VI seems to be a return to form for the series (I haven’t played it yet – gave up after IV which I loved…), so that might be a good gift to get?

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Starlink: Battle for Atlas is one of the best spacefaring shooters I’ve played in recent memory. A combination of Star Fox, Skylanders and No Man’s SkyStarlink allows players to explore a bunch of different, visually stunning planets and liberate them from the Legion, all while giving the ability to hot-swap virtually every component on their ship with different pilots, ships, wings and weapons depending on the situation. Unlike most other Toys-to-Life games, Starlink allows players to purchase and download new weapons, ships and pilots without the use of the toys themselves. Arguably, the best part of this game is the additional Star Fox content for the Switch! With the Switch version, you get the Arwing, Fox McCloud as a pilot and a set of weapons, with an additional pilot and ship available digitally. On top of that, Team Star Fox has its own story mission that runs parallel with The Starlink Initiative; find Wolf O’Donnell, who’s fled Lylat after Andross’ defeat. It’s a great addition to the Starlink story!

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And finally, I cannot forget about Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2. If there was a game that was as highly anticipated as God of Warthis would be it. Set in the backdrop of the eve of the American West era, it weaves together an incredible story revolving around one last heist. Or so I’m told (I haven’t played it).

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And that’s Part 1 of the list! For more gift ideas, Part 2 is right behind this one, so go and check it out here!

With that, this is Ryan from Games with Coffee, hoping that your quest to get the perfect Christmas gift is successful and always reminding you Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing!

Adventure Map | The Games That Define Us

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Ryan from Games with Coffee, welcoming you to The Games That Define Us!

Brought to you by Matt from Normal Happenings and starting from today, November 1st until December 4th, this ambitious collaboration brings together over thirty amazingly talented bloggers from all different walks of life to talk about the games that have made a massive impact on their lives and that were instrumental in making them who they are today. Yours truly is a part of this awesome effort and my contribution will be up on the 12th of November. I’m personally proud and stoked to be a part of this project and to be among such phenomenal, talented writers. So, thanks goes to Matt for letting me jump on this collab!

Go bookmark the Adventure Map in the link below – your personal roadmap to all the awesome content – and check back every morning, where a new writer will share their experiences with their chosen game. Day 1 features the amazing Iiago from Mr. Backlog and the game, The Bard’s Tale. Each post will also have a carefully curated playlist that I highly recommend listening to while reading.

What are you waiting for!? Grab a mug, brew your favourite blend, sit back and enjoy The Games That Define Us!

via Adventure Map | The Games That Define Us

Why Are There Crickets Chirping Here? (Or Why I’ve Been Quiet Lately)

Hey all, welcome to another edition of Games with Coffee! How’s everything going? It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

For me, well it’s crazy. Work’s been busy, with new clients, new projects and tons of visits, reports and reviews to do. On top of that, I’m working on some really big projects on the writing front that I’m really excited about. One involves a certain Raider of Tombs by the Jonez of Neko’s and the other’s a huge, collaborative effort with Matt from Normal Happenings regarding Games That Define Us, so keep it locked on Games with Coffee and I’ll point you in the right direction on when these righteous collabs drop and where to find them!

In other news… I’ve been publishing several articles for The Well Red Mage, of which I am The Hyperactive Coffee Mage! I’ll be re-blogging them on here in the coming days, so as to make it look like I’m actually producing something :P.

I have been writing and trying to get content completed, but my job and its frantic and chaotic nature, plus my commitments to the collaborations I’m working on, being a parent to an 8-month old and a dutiful husband with lots of responsibilities have prevented me largely from making that happen, but I’m hoping that’ll change by October. Things should be dying down during that month (As I speak, I’m much more closer to clearing up my massive work backlog than I was earlier this week. It’s still massive though…) so expect the blog to pick up again soon. I got a lot of content that I’m itching to share, including the following:

  • I’ve been dying to get back into Path of Exile, so I’ve found enough spare time here and there to play and prepare Part 7 of my on-going playthrough series! I really missed writing these out and providing tips for players, so expect that to drop soon-ish.
  • Fall signifies lots of things; the changing of seasons, the start of school and colder weather. It also reminds me of Pokemon, which is the next Game Discussion I’ll be covering. I’ll be talking about the Poke-Craze that took over my family and friends and my stories revolving around the franchise. One story involves a Pokedex, a test and a bunch of limes. It’s a fun one for sure!
  • Fanfiction! Man oh man, ever since I listened to the Noire mix on TWRM Radio a couple months back, I’ve been so inspired to write stories. One in particular is this Fantasy/Noire-inspired Legend of Zelda fic called Black and White (Yeah, real original, I know). I’m gonna try real hard to finish this one. I surmise it’ll be divided into ten parts and I have a good idea of how the story progresses and ends. I’m hoping it’ll fit the tune of the Noir genre. Again, stay tuned! And check out the previous two chapters to get a feel of what it’s about!
  • I’ve got a bunch of awards to catch up with and questions within them to answer – 2018 was a huge year for accolades on Games with Coffee! I’ve been itching to get back in and answer some of these well-thought out questions, so that’s something on my to-do list…
  • I’m trying to lock in some more interviews for my ongoing Beans and Screens segment! That’s all I’m gonna write about that for now. If you wanna be a guest on the show, however, drop a line in the comments!
  • I’m also overdue for some music posts… I’ll get back to y’all about that too… (Methinks I’m over-promising a bit too much.)
  • Got a load of Espresso Shot Reviews to catch up on, including one recommended to me by The Well Red Mage himself. It’s literally out of this world.
  • And finally, I’ve got my FFVII x Sonic passion project to keep working on. Reading it over, I’ve noticed I have a lot of edits to do, but I’ll save that for when I actually finish this thing. Current stats: 11 chapters done, #12 is on-going and I’ve estimated that I got another 14 more to write before I can consider the rough draft completed.

So, that’s the update! Hope I got all my bases covered. Keep your eyes out on my Twitter and Instagram feeds for when the big collaboration posts go up, as well as whatever I mentioned above!

With that, this is Ryan from Games with Coffee, clearing the dust off this site and reminding you, dear readers, to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing! See ya next time!

Disclamer: That header isn’t of my own creation: I found it here on the Steam workshop and I don’t have a clue as to where it truly originated from. Though, you gotta admit, it looks really good? Perhaps I should customize it to make it look a bit like me? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Console Challenge Day 11: Top 7 Hidden Gems for the PlayStation (PSX)!

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

Today, I’m listing the top seven hidden gems of the PlayStation era! This is a sister article to the one I wrote for The Well-Red Mage on the top seven all-time best games of the console. Check it out here.

The PlayStation had an enormous library of games, some amazing, others… not so much. However, there are a great deal of games for the console that many people have missed out on (besides the one’s I’ve deemed the best on the system) and it’s a downright shame they haven’t received enough attention. So, my mission today is to rectify that mistake and share these top seven hidden gems! Grab a coffee and get comfortable as we start the countdown with:

7. Crash Team Racing

What do you get when you combine the craziness of Mario Kart with a really good story mode? You get Crash Team Racing! Literally the best part of this game is the aforementioned story mode, where you have to race around tracks to earn trophies and defeat bosses in order to proceed to the next hub area and eventually get the chance to race against Nitrous Oxide, an extraterrestrial racer who wants to turn Earth into a parking lot!

There’s a bunch more things to do once you best him though: you can revisit tracks to earn CTR tokens and open the Gem Cup Challenges or you can also try your hand at earning Relics through Time Trial mode. Earning the Gems and Relics and challenging Oxide once more earns a neat and hilarious post-credits montage of what each character is up to, post-game. Highlights include Crash getting a movie deal with Universal Studios. Beyond that, the driving mechanics are fun and fast-paced, the dialogue is great (“TINY SQUISH PUNY CARS!” Classic.) Last but not least, there are plenty of hidden secrets to discover, including secret characters that can only be obtained through the time trial mode! I’d really love to see CTR remade or remastered with online capabilities!

6. Rayman

If you’ve played Rayman Origins recently, you may recognize the name and the character. Rayman, a 2-D side scrolling platformer, is the first game of the series and featured the titular character on a quest to both recover the Great Protoon and rescue the resident Electoons from the sinister Mr. Dark. Despite the vivid animations, the whimsical visuals and it’s charming soundtrack, the game is a lot tougher than it appears to be. Despite the difficulty, Rayman gains new abilities, like hanging off ledges, improved punching ability and gliding, as he progresses. Further, to access the final area of the game, Rayman must find all the Electoons in every level, with some found in tricky, hard to reach areas requiring a slew of abilities to access and which can really test one’s patience. It’s a great platformer and a wonderful way to explore the origins of the character.

5. Xenogears

From the publisher of the Final Fantasy series comes an interesting RPG that deals with plenty of issues, such as disassociative identity disorder, religion, war, love, death and reincarnation and the rise and fall of civilizations. Oh and Giant Robots. Can’t forget about those.

Xenogears’ story is vast, epic and a bit of a convoluted mess. However, it’s a great mess to get lost in. For instance, one of the main antagonists is the protagonist’s darker persona; a highly destructive individual named Id, many characters have hidden agendas or buried secrets and three of the game’s primary characters (Fei, Elly and Miang) undergo constant rebirth and reincarnation as the Contact, Anti-type and the Complement respectively. One of those incarnations (the Contact no less) discovers the cause of the cycle of death and rebirth that binds his and Elly’s souls (an all-powerful, sentient alien artifact), becomes evil and disillusioned, learns how to transfer his consciousness to various bodies (thus freeing the Contact to reincarnate to his next body) and finally becomes a seeker of power with desires to end the world, complete with a slick catchphrase (“Doth thou desire the power?” Awesome.). These are just some of the many side stories that happen all at the same time.

Oh, and lest I’ve not stressed this enough: GIANT. ROBOTS. Because, as both Gundam and Neon Genesis Evangelion have demonstrated, giant robots make everything better!

4. Parasite Eve

Another inventive game from the folks at Squaresoft, Parasite Eve is actually the sequel to a Japanese novel of the same name written by Hideaki Sena. Parasite Eve is an action RPG with horror elements set in Manhattan, on Christmas Eve in 1997. It stars a rookie cop named Aya Brea, who attends a Broadway show featuring an up and coming opera singer named Melissa. Midway through her solo performance, the singer’s fellow actors and members of the start to spontaneously combust. The singer escapes in the chaos and Aya pursues her only to see animals like rats and birds horribly mutate into gruesome creatures, right before her eyes! After finally catching up to her, Melissa suddenly mutates into a being calling herself “Eve.” Declaring that mitochondria have begun to rebel against their host cells, she awakens a power within Aya that forever changes her. Over the next six days, Aya chases Eve across Manhattan and attempts to stop her from giving birth to the “Ultimate Being,” all while learning about her mysterious new powers and a supposed connection with her long-dead twin sister, Maya.

Parasite Eve is Squaresoft’s first Mature rated game and with good reason: the visuals and subject matter are quite disturbing. However, the narrative is gripping and the action-RPG combat mechanics are very well done. The game also makes great use of horror elements, like the use of foreboding silence and jump scares, to make the player feel on edge about what will happen next. Plus, Aya is a total badass who faces all challenges head on, no matter how gruesome it gets, much like Samus Aran and Lara Croft. Parasite Eve is a wholly underrated game and one that definitely deserves more recognition.

3. Soul Edge/Soul Blade

From the makers of Tekken comes this fantastic weapons-based fighting game! Set in the 16th century, nine characters from different countries and versed in various fighting styles set off to find a tenth individual who is purported to hold Soul Edge – the ultimate weapon. To some of the characters, it’s a weapon of salvation and to others, it’s a weapon that must be destroyed due to its evil nature. It’s the first game of the Soul series and is the prequel to SoulCaliber – one of the best fighting games ever made.

The PlayStation port of this game (which was originally released in arcades) came with a whole slew of extras. It introduced a story mode in Edge Master Mode, where the player follows a character’s journey to find Soul Edge while fighting opponents under certain conditions and handicaps. Defeating opponents yielded tons of really cool weapons with various stats and special effects which could then be used in all other game modes! On top of that, Soul Edge boasted three soundtracks: the original, an arranged, orchestrated variant and the Khan Super Special Soundtrack, which was exclusive to the PlayStation edition. To top it all off, this edition included a third alternate outfit for each character and five secret characters including the final boss, Soul Edge. Seriously, that’s a lot for a fighting game! Sadly, you can only play it via a physical copy or through emulation. I don’t understand why Bandai-Namco hasn’t released this digitally yet. It’s an absolute travesty.

2. Tomba!

Number two on the list is this colourful, zany and fun platformer starring a pink haired wild boy named Tomba! It reminds me a bit of Zelda II and Metroid in that there’s a heavy emphasis on exploration and backtracking. There’s a whole slew of items and tools available at Tomba’s disposal to use in his quest to recover his grandfather’s bracelet, which was stolen by the Evil Pigs; greedy, treasure-loving piggies who’ve been terrorizing the local populace. On top of the main quest, there is a whole bunch of side quests to pursue that yield rich rewards, like extra lives and power ups and even access to new areas. What’s especially interesting is, like number six on the list (Rayman), that behind the cute and funny visuals, there are plenty of difficult platforming sections which require patience and a degree of trial and error to figure out.

As we round out the top seven, there’s one game on this list that’s both incredibly amazing and frustrating, requiring more patience than a saint to complete. However, this game is one of my all-time favourites for the system and is hence on the number one spot on this list of hidden gems:

1. Alundra

I honestly have gushed enough about this game on Twitter and for good reason: if there was a poster boy for the term “Hidden Gem,” this game would be it!

Take the gameplay of the Legend of Zelda, add in platforming mechanics, a story darker than Majora’s Mask (complete with discussions on religion, death, depression and nightmares that can really kill you), the ability to walk through dreams, an intricate dungeon design with puzzles that are guaranteed to obfuscate and befuddle the most brilliant of minds and a stellar cast of characters who reflect on their reality with a combination of abject horror, dark humor and apathy. That is Alundra in a nutshell. It’s quite difficult to complete thanks to the difficult puzzles, but the game’s story is great and the writing is well done! And while Ronan is no Sephiroth, he’s still an interesting villian in that he impedes Alundra’s quest at the orders of his “God”, even if it means he has to do unspeakable things, like murdering innocent people, including children. It’s also the subject of my next review (insert shameless plug here).

So there you have it! My top 7 Hidden Gems! Do you agree? Disagree? Have some games to add to this list or replace? Drop a line in the comments below!

Big thanks to The Well-Red Mage for issuing the challenge and for letting me join in on the fun! You should definitely check out the other console entries written by my fellow mages and other writers, they’re worth the read!

Until next time Mature, Distinguished Gamers, this is Ryan from Games with Coffee, reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing!

Reflecting on Death Through Gaming

“At times of strife and anguish, we turn to our craft in the hope that it will light our way forward.” – Unknown

Good day and welcome back to another edition of Games with Coffee.

It’s a sad time for my family as my wife’s grandmother, who we all call Aaje (pronounced “Aah-gee”), had passed away from cancer this past Monday, May 28. What started as an exam two weeks prior to investigate problems in her digestive tract, ended with a diagnosis of terminal colorectal cancer and her subsequent decline in health until her passing in palliative care.

My wife, Usha, was incredibly close to her Aaje. Growing up, she lived at her house with her grandfather, who they call Aaja (pronounced “Aah-jah”). It is there that they both instilled within her a love of the creative arts, the importance of getting a good education and a strong desire to live good through the tenements of Hinduism and our many Gods. Ush would have long, storied conversations with her grandmother on the phone almost every day; sometimes multiple times in one day! Whenever she called, I always made an effort to say hi, to which she would reply, “Hi Beta (Son)!” and then ask how I’m doing, despite still talking with her granddaughter. And this was all despite the fact that she suffered a stroke over 15 years ago that handicapped her physically. Luckily, her mental faculties were intact and so, Aaje was able to share with her grandchildren (and myself, by extension) stories about her life living in Guyana, owning a store, getting married at an early age, being involved with the Arya Samaj church (a sect of Hinduism) and the sacrifices she and her husband made to get her children a good education in Canada.

Aaje was an incredibly strong woman, who raised incredible children and grandchildren and inspired those around her. I’m lucky she also considered me a grandson of her own, despite not sharing any blood relations with her. Her kindness, straight-forward nature and her love of gardening are what I’ll remember the most about her. She would always ask me how my vegetable garden is doing and if there’s anything ready to harvest and eat. It makes playing games like Stardew Valley hard now, because I could always hear her voice in the background telling me to water my plants or put fertilizer so I can get more from my crops. I’ll miss that greatly.

Her dying wish was to hold her first great-grandchild – my son, Arjun – so I’m comforted by the notion that her wish was granted in the end. Having her not see my boy enough, however, is my greatest regret. My wife, Usha, always told me that once she could see her first great-grandchild, she could pass away without regret, but still, I feel sad that she didn’t get to see him enough.


On the ride to work on Tuesday, the day after she passed away, I was listening to the God of War (2018) soundtrack. As I listened, I reviewed certain scenes in my head and then correlated them with my current situation. God of War deals with the passing of loved ones and the journey one goes through to fulfill the last rites of the dead. Much like the events in the game, Aaje will be cremated as per Hindu customs and her ashes scattered, either in a body of water or possibly in her home village (it’s not 100% determined yet). As I was thinking about that, it made me appreciate the game more, as Kratos and Atreus grow both as individuals and as father and son through Faye’s passing. With that said, I also believe our family will grow from this death and be stronger for it. The song that really struck me was “Ashes,” it is a very powerful piece in the soundtrack and I teared up a little because of it.

Prior to the news of her passing on Monday, I had this strange feeling that something was wrong: my throat and chest constricted and a feeling of foreboding washed over me When I got the call about half an hour after, I felt three things: Relief, since she was no longer suffering. Sadness, because she passed. And a spark of inspiration, which is how this post came to be. Prior to this, I haven’t had the same appetite I usually have for writing, because I was concerned both about Aaje’s health and Usha’s well-being regarding the situation. The day after she passed though, I suddenly had the urge to write. It reminded me of the events in one of my favourite games for the original PlayStation (and the subject of my next Espresso Shot Review): Alundra. In the game, Jess the blacksmith had the sudden urge to create something, usually an item or weapon to help Alundra, whenever someone in the village died suddenly, either from the nightmares or from an incident. That was the feeling I had when I started writing this down. I had some way to connect gaming to how I’m currently feeling about this death, and in a way, it’s helping me to process it all. It’s strange too how the Requiem theme from Alundra also runs through my mind during this time:

Tomorrow, Thursday May 31st, is the funeral and my last chance to say goodbye before she’s physically gone forever. As I sit here alone with coffee in hand (it’s just my boy and I at the house; everyone else is at the viewing) and think about what I should say, I realize I said everything I needed to here. So, all I’d have left to say here is…

Goodbye Aaje. We love you. And may the Gods grant you respite.

Mystery Blogger Award!

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

Rejoice my friends, for the blog has been nominated for the Mystery Blogger Award! I’ve received this honour from Athena of Ambigaming; a wonderful individual who explores gaming through the lens of psychology, sociology and theology and who has set up the awesome Year of the RPG event for 2018! Thanks so much! I’m so flattered!

The Mystery Blogger Award was created by Okoto Enigma as a way to recognize individuals who create and share unique and interesting content that inspires and motivates others. Thank you Okoto for creating this award!

Now, for the rules:

  1. Put the award logo/image on your blog
  2. List the rules.
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
  5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  6. You have to nominate 10 – 20 people
  7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  8. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
  9. Share a link to your best post(s)

Three Things About Myself*

*Other than what I’ve revealed recently in an interview with a hyperactive, coffee mage…

  1. I’m a Lego enthusiast. Growing up, I collected over a dozen sets, mainly from Star Wars. I almost had a complete collection of the Rebel fighters (including the Millennium Falcon), but I had stopped collecting after I hit my twenties. I’ve recently got back into collecting thanks to my older cousin. Lego was part of the reason why I went into engineering in the first place.
  2. I practice martial arts, specifically Taekwondo. The highest rank I’ve reached was blue stripe, but my training stopped because my master retired from teaching… To this day, I try to keep my skills honed in case I get an opportunity to continue my training and earn my black belt!
  3. I love to bake. I’m famous within my circle of family and friends for making really good New York Style cheesecakes, but I’m also enjoy making other cakes, cookies and loaves. I’m constantly experimenting with new recipes and finding ways to perfect or improve on old ones.

Q & A with Athena

Athena: What video game has had the most profound impact on you as a person?

GWC: Short answer: Final Fantasy VII. As for the reasons why, you can check out my write up on how Cloud Strife made such a lasting impression on young me and how the game shaped me into the person I am today.

Athena: If you could see a remake (or a remaster) of any game, what game would you choose?

GWC: Seeing that Final Fantasy VII is in process of being remade, I’ll pick a different game! I would really love to see Super Metroid remade in the same style as Metroid Prime. Barring that, a full Metroid Prime trilogy remaster for the Switch would also be welcome!

Athena: Of the games you’ve played, which one has the most profound story?

GWC: There are so many to chose from… it’s hard to make a decision here. Know what, I’m gonna go with Alundra. While the gameplay is similar to the Legend of Zelda but with much harder puzzles, the story is what makes it different. It’s darkly humorous, well written and touches on a lot of subjects including dreams, religion, mental illness and the depths people will go to maintain status quo.

Athena: What’s a fun game that makes you happy?

GWC: Classic Sonic the Hedgehog. I feel a sense of freedom and happiness whenever I run through levels at top speed. Sonic Mania has helped to recapture that feeling lately.

Athena: If you could only pick one brand of gaming system to use for the rest of your life, what would it be?

GWC: By the Gods, this one’s a hard one… I’m gonna say… Sony. I have so many memories associated with the brand; it’s been by my side in good times and bad. So yeah, Sony is the brand I’d pick.

The Best of the Bunch?

I consider my first game review to be my best post, because it was my very first review of a video game and I felt that I did a pretty good job with it.

In terms of views, my answers to The Well-Red Mage’s question on what my favourite video game was for every year I’ve been alive. That was a fun one, since I even added in my favourite tune for each of my selections.

Speaking of The Well-Red Mage, my first contribution to the site (of hopefully many more!) is another personal favourite of mine.


My Chosen Nominees

By the power vested in me by the Caffeine Gods (and also taking a leaf out of Seto Kaiba’s playbook from Yu-Gi-Oh Abridged), I nominate the following five blogs as my chosen:

  1. Home Button Gaming!
  2. Sheikah Plate!
  3. Shoot the Rookie!
  4. Double Jump!
  5. And last but not least, Deconstructing Video Games!

Question Time!

So, to my chosen, I ask thee the following:

  1. Huzzah! You’ve been knighted! However, the only weapons available to you are a set of tools found in a garden shed. Which one would you choose and why?
  2. While adventuring, who would you have as a sidekick/animal familiar to join you and why?
  3. After a long day of adventuring, you settle down at the campfire and drift off to sleep. In your dreams, a specter appears and asks you “What is thy ultimate Quest in life?” How do you answer?
  4. But alas! Your dastardly rival has appeared the following morning, hellbent on putting an end to that very Quest! Do you fight, flee or reason with this individual?
  5. Returning to reality, what game would you want your significant other to play?

You can answer directly in the comments or in a separate post. Whatever tickles your fancy!


That’s it for this edition. Be sure to tune in next time, where I answer some more questions! The reason being that, in addition to this award, I’ve been nominated for three others! I’m stoked about answering these and nominating other, fellow bloggers in the process!

Also down the pipeline is an Espresso Shot Review of an underrated PlayStation game that’s also one of my favourites of all time! What that game is, I’ll keep as a surprise for now! Keep an eye out for it!

So, humbled by this nomination by my good friend Athena, this has been Ryan from Games with Coffee, reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing!

 

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!