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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Audience erupts in loud cheers.*

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

Fox: Thanks for having us here today.

Slippy: Yeah, this sure beats getting shot at!

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

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

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

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

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

Fox: Coffee for me, please.

Slippy: I’ll take some water!

Falco: Got anything with alcohol?

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

Falco: Tch, fine. Coffee for me too.

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

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

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

R: Oh, nice!

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

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

Falco: *Muttering.* Zip it, old man…

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

Slippy: Our eternal rivals!

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

Peppy: And not a good one at that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

R: Wait… How is that possible?

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

R: But how did it affect your ships then?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Slippy: Yeah, you humans are pretty cool!

Falco: Eh, they’re not bad.

Peppy: *Nods in agreement.* Mm-hmm.

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

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

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

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

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

Fox: Alright, play it back for us.

ROB64: Affirmative.

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

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

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

*Mason plays an audio recording.*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*The recording ends here.*

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

ROB64: That is the end of the recording.

Fox: Thanks ROB.

Falco: Fox, this smells like a trap.

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

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

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

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

*Audience cheers loudly.*

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

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

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

The Legend of Zelda: Black and White – Part III

Welcome again to another installment of The Legend of Zelda: Black and White.

If you’ve missed the first two installments, you can check them out here:

Last time, Link and Midna discussed about the mysterious Sheik on their way back to the castle, and his supposed discovery of an ancient temple that may hold the key to Hyrule’s victory in the war against Ganondorf.

Sheik instructed Link to see him the following night to go over the full plan in more detail.  Before Link can think about meeting the Sheikah again, he needs permission from the Queen to take extended leave to pursue this quest. And so, he resolves to speak with his childhood friend in the morning, hoping to convince her that this mad scheme could be for Hyrule’s benefit…


Part III: The Queen

I awoke abruptly as one of Zelda’s attendants entered my chambers, opening the curtains to let the morning light in. She proceeded to drop off a basin filled with fresh, warm water and my cleaned chamber pot as I rose out of bed, groggy and exhausted.

I had slept fitfully, my mind racing about the Sheikah I met last night at Telma’s and the conversation I had with Midna afterwards. I knew, deep down that I had to see this ‘Sheik’ again tonight. He held a stick, dangled a carrot in front of me and I wanted it. I wanted to know more about this plan of his, what it entails and to determine if he’s on the up and up or if he’s as shady as Sakon the Thief. To do that, I’d have to convince the Queen and the Council to let me take a break. And honestly, I could use one… I’m still exhausted from the dismal mission I’ve just returned from.

On that note, I turned wearily to the attendant. “Hey, can I get an audience with Her Majesty before the council meeting today? I have updates to share with her regarding the war effort on the front lines.” And to boldly ask her for permission to solve a mystery that may save us all.

The attendant smiled at me. “Ah, what perfect timing Sir Link,” she said to me. “I was instructed to inform you that the Queen has requested an audience with you before today’s war council meeting.” She let out a girlish peal of giggles upon seeing my eyebrows shoot straight upward. “She is already in the audience chamber waiting for you, I will let her know that you will be seeing her shortly.” After delivering the message and shooting one last smile, the attendant left as quietly as she came in.

I sighed, a small smile creeping on my face. Goddess Hylia must be on my side today. I had hoped that this good fortune would mean that the Queen and I would be on the same page once I tell her about last night.

With that, I rose out of bed to get ready. After washing my face, I put on a fresh tunic, strapped the Master Sword and my shield on my back and adjusted my hat. Leaving my room, I headed for the Queen’s audience chamber. It was on the way to the small meeting room where we held the war council.

As I rounded the corner, I picked up the snippets of hushed conversation between two of the castle’s waitstaff. Pressing against the wall, I listened in.

“… you know she was not in her chambers last night? I had slipped in to drop some documents for Her Majesty when I saw that the sheets were not even disturbed,” one of them said.

“Oh yes,” the other one said in a heavy accent. Ordonian. “I saw her in th’ gardens as I was on my way to th’ kitchens to fetch something fer Master Rauru. She looked so forlorn, sitting there on th’ bench,” I heard her let out a tut in what I assume was out of genuine concern. “Oh that poor girl.”

“Hm yes,” the first maid replied, agreeing. “Even though she’s been queen for the last three years, her inexperience still shows… You’d think she would have had more time and opportunity to prepare for the role, but it seems that the Goddess Hylia had other plans, I suppose.”

At that point, I had heard enough. I strode out from the corner I was hiding out of. “Morning ladies, is Her Majesty in?” I asked, a little bite in my voice.

The two biddies separated faster than a pack of Kesse after shooting an arrow at them. “Y-yes Sir Link, she should be ready to see you now,” the first maid stuttered out, flustered at my sudden appearance.

Moving past them without a second glance, I entered the audience chamber. It was a warm and decorative space designed to make visitors feel comfortable. There were a set of cushy chairs in the centre of the room with a small table in between them. On my left was a refreshment table, on which a tray with a warm pot of tea and some cups and saucers lay on top. On my right was a large window providing a stunning view of Castle Town and the surrounding countryside, all illuminated with the orange glow of the morning sun.

Sitting in one of the chairs in straight-backed, regal manner and daintily sipping tea was the Queen of Hyrule and my best friend growing up: Zelda.

She had straight, honey-blond hair with bangs framing her porcelain oval face, a petite nose and piercing, violet-blue eyes that sparkled in the morning light shining through the window. That same morning light highlighted her radiant and flawless alabaster skin. She was wearing her favourite violet and lavender gown this morning with white gloves over her delicate hands. Her crown, a simple, silver band with some ornate designs and a few gemstones, rested on her head. As simple as it was, it suited her perfectly.

A smile graced her lips as I entered, the first I’ve seen on her since I left several nights ago. She was beautiful.

“Morning Your Highness,” I said to her, grinning. “Dressed for a special occasion today?”

She arched an exquisitely shaped eyebrow at me. “Whatever are you talking about Link?” she asked.

“Well, you only wear that dress for one of two reasons,” I said. “Either you’re setting yourself up to make a tragic announcement-”

Her eyes suddenly narrowed. I think I touched a nerve.

Quickly, I continued. “Or, you’re in a good mood today.”

Despite glaring daggers at me, Zelda let out a giggle. “Of course I am, you’re back after all,” she said to me. “And you will be happy to know I do have an announcement to share at the meeting today: I will be revoking your title as Hero of Hyrule-”

“Woah, wait what?!” Now, THAT touched a nerve. She wasn’t finished yet though, her polite smile transformed into a devilish grin, not unlike that of Midna’s.

“-On the grounds that you have an atrocious sense of fashion. I mean, honestly,” she gestured to the hat on my head. “Who wears a floppy green hat?” She made a noise of disgust.

I chuckled, realizing that she was only kidding around. Zelda may look quiet and reserved, but she’s a lot like Midna; feisty when agitated and quick to respond with a witty retort, usually at my expense. “Hey, give it some time, it’s an upcoming trend,” I said, crossing my arms. “All of Castle Town will be wearing floppy hats soon enough, I guarantee it!”

Zelda smirked, her nose scrunching up cutely. I wonder if she even knows that she does that? “Well then, maybe you should change your profession to fashion trendsetter, seeing as you’ll be officially retired from hero duties?”

“Yeah, wouldn’t that be nice. Link: the former hero-turned-clothier,” I snarked. “Please.”

“Do not roll your eyes at your Queen,” she said, testily. Hm, I thought I could resist that urge; eye-rolling is one of her biggest pet peeves. “I can have you exiled for that.”

She and I both knew that she’d never do that. She liked me too much.

I took the seat in front of her and slouched forward, my arms resting on my legs. I saw Zelda bite her lip, resisting the urge to correct me for the hundredth time about my poor posture. I honestly did it both to annoy her and to cheer her up. Damned if she needed some right now.

Unfortunately, as the saying goes, all good things come to an end. After some time, Zelda placed the cup and saucer on the table in front of her and her eyes morphed from playful to serious.  “Your report, Sir Link,” she ordered, her voice level and measured.

I sat up straight – one tends to correct their posture when delivering bad news – and let her know what happened a few nights ago. How our guerrilla party tried to infiltrate one of Ganondorf’s largest camps to put a dent in his invasion force. How they were ready for us, ambushing our group the moment we entered their perimeter. And finally, how they brought out a new weapon that made us retreat, our tails between our legs.

“…I can’t explain it, Your Highness,” I said to Zelda shaking my head. “One of Zant’s followers from Twilight had this device that shot this… bolt at Barnes. The moment it hit him, he started to change, morphing into this horrific beast of darkness. It was then that I made the call to retreat. We all split up so we all wouldn’t be captured.” I sighed deeply. “That’s why I returned alone last night, separate from the other troops.” That, and I needed a stiff drink after barely escaping that fiasco.

Zelda placed a hand on her forehead, massaging the temples with her thumb and index finger. “Link, this is the third failed raid in this month alone,” she said. “And now, it seems that the country’s enemies have a new weapon at their disposal. Based on this, I cannot approve of any more of the council’s raids – I will have to veto the next one.”

I’ll admit, I lit up when she said that. The raids were totally ineffective and I would be glad to never do one of those again. I held my tongue though as she wasn’t finished yet.

“But this presents an even greater problem,” she continued, looking directly at me, her brows creased in worry. “With this new development, there is likely nothing to stop Ganondorf from invading the castle. With little options available to us and more bloodshed expected soon… I may have to consider the possibility of surren-”

“No.” I cut her off. One normally doesn’t cut off royalty, but now was the perfect time to. “I’m sorry to interrupt, Your Highness, but we do have another option available to us,” I said.

And so I proceeded to tell her about last night, the meeting with Sheik, his discovery of the ancient ruins where powerful artifacts may be housed in and the keys required to open the sealed door. The more I spoke, the more I could see the gears turning in Zelda’s head, her mind going over the details, the logistics and the optics. Finally, I stopped speaking and waited for her to process everything.

The wait seemed to go on for hours and the longer the time stretched, the more Zelda’s brows furrowed. I was half convinced that she would call me crazy and disregard the whole thing as a hoax to get her spirits up.

But then she said something that I didn’t expect.

“Let us do this,” she told me, picking up her cup and saucer, taking a sip from the now lukewarm tea and then placing it back on the table. “It is an asinine plan, one built on the unlikely chance that there is anything that we could use to win this war and it is not guaranteed that whatever we find in this shrine will be useful, but…” she sighed, her eyes filled with desperation and a glimmer of hope. “It is likely the best and only chance we have to save our kingdom.”

My eyebrows rose so much they might as well have been stuck like that. “Y-you’re sure, Zel?” I asked her stupidly, still in shock about her decision. I flinched as she gave me the most severe look I’ve ever seen. And boy, have I seen plenty.

“I am sure!” she replied forcefully, the calm veneer of royalty dropping. “I will not be the Queen that allows that tyrant Ganondorf to take over this kingdom! So, yes Link, we are doing this!”

She heaved as her body shook with barely repressed rage, her shoulders bunched up and hands balled into fists tightly against her body. Slowly, her breathing settled, her body relaxed and the calm, neutral expression required of the crown returned.

I however, sat in shock. In all the years I’ve known her, I’ve never seen her this angry. Maybe the fact that she had ascend to the throne following her father’s death, coupled with the war that broke out immediately after has finally taken a toll on her? Or maybe, this ongoing war and our countless losses were finally starting to get to her? Either way, I was starting to get worried for her. I wanted to reach out to her, hold her and tell her sweet nothings, to let her know that things will be OK, so long as we were together. I wanted to tell her how I felt about her, after years of repressing them due to our differences in rank and status.

I wanted to tell her how much I loved her.

I held my tongue however. Now was not the time to express my desires. It was time for action. Romance could follow afterward.

A knock on the door broke my current train of thoughts. A maid entered and curtsied to the queen. “Your Highness, the council is ready for you and Sir Link,” she said.

Zelda nodded. “We will be there shortly,” she responded. “Tell them to give us a few more moments.” The maid bowed and left the room to relay the message. After she left, the Queen turned to me.

“Link, who else is aware of this ‘Sheik’ individual?” she asked.

“Just Midna,” I said. “She was working the bar yesterday when he talked to me. I also told her the whole story.”

Zelda nodded. “Good, let us keep it between the three of us,” she said. “I do not want to bring false hope to the council. Now, you said Sheik wanted you to meet him tonight?” She tapped her chin in thought. “I also surmise that this quest will require some travelling around the kingdom?”

“Yep, to both things,” I said.  “So I’ll need an excuse not to do any missions during that time.”

“Yes, that is true,” Zelda said, frowning. A sudden, sly smirk crossed her face shortly afterward. “And I think I may have the perfect cover story to allow you to partake in this quest.” She rose from her seat, straightening out her gown.

“Come, Sir Link,” she said regally. “Let us go and address the council.”


Disclaimer: Hey! Listen! I don’t own the characters and setting in this story, they are owned by Nintendo!

The Legend of Zelda: Black and White – Part II

Good evening and welcome back to another installment of The Legend of Zelda: Black and White. We last left our hero, Link, meeting a strange, hooded man in Telma’s bar after a long and fruitless mission in the ongoing war between the Hylian Royal Family and the combined forces of Ganondorf and Zant. This man seems to have some information that could turn the tides and ensure victory in the kingdom’s favour.

Naturally, Link is wary of this man’s intentions, but the promise of a victorious end to a losing war is far too tempting to pass up… And so, Link makes the decision to hear him out. Is this a choice that could save Hyrule? Or, is it one that he may come to regret later on? Grab a mug and settle in dear readers for Part II. And remember:

Not everything is as Black and White as it seems…


Part II: The Walk Under Moonlight

What started with me going to the bar for a drink or two and some light conversation with Midna after a long, rough day of battle, turned into a lengthy talk with a hooded man who introduced himself as Sheik. He had just left the bar when Telma started to round up her regulars and send them on their way home. I hadn’t realized it was closing time.

As Midna was wiping down the bar counter, she sidled up to me. “Link, who was that guy? You know him from somewhere?” she whispered.

I downed my last drink of the night and relished the bitter aftertaste. ” I don’t know. I never met him until today,” I said, cocking an eyebrow at her. “You didn’t serve him?”

“No, Telma did,” she said, shaking her head. She then narrowed her eyes and gave me a flat stare. “So, you gonna tell me what’s going on, or not?”

She can be really demanding at times. I dropped my voice down, not wanting to be overheard. “That hooded guy? He’s Sheikah.”

Her eyes widened to the size of saucers. I guess she was more than a little shocked at that development. “Sheikah?!” she hissed, trying her best to keep her voice low. “I thought that the design on his trim looked familiar – standard Sheikan fair for sure. But weren’t they…” Here she noticed Telma drawing closer to the bar, so she leaned closer to me and dropped her voice back down to a whisper. “Weren’t they all wiped out by Ganon’s forces when the war began three years ago?”

Like I said before; Midna’s a shrewd one. “Yeah, that’s what I said to him too,” I told her. “He says he didn’t get them all, though.” I noticed Telma giving Midna a look that said ‘Back. To. Work.’

“Telma’s onto you, Mid. You better get back to closing up,” I said, gesturing to the owner. “We can talk more on the way back to the castle.”

Midna let another impish smirk cross her lips as she moved away to close shop. I honestly can say that she’s the only woman in Hyrule that can pull off that devilish look of mischief and still look gorgeous. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I stood up, buckled up my gear and bundled my cloak in hand. From the window nearby, I saw that the rain had died down and the skies were starting to clear. There was a half moon poking out from holes in the clouds, its pale light shining down on the streets below. The sparse light would make do for us to get back to the castle, I suppose.

I chatted with Telma for a bit and tried to wheedle some more info out of her on the mysterious Sheikah, but she knew exactly what I knew; nothing. He was here in one of the corner booths about an hour before I showed up when she served him. I already knew it was no coincidence; he was clearly waiting for me and wanted to tell me of his wild and crazy propositions to end this war…

A tug on my arm broke my train of thought. “Alright Link, let’s go,” Midna said to me, wearing a thick, black cloak to ward off the damp and chilly night air.

We bade Telma farewell and headed out into the alleyway. After reaching the main street, we turned right and set off northward, side by side. With the moonlight illuminating our path, I started talking at that point. Told her how he was waiting to talk with me, how he and a bunch of other survivors of the Sheikah race recently discovered an ancient temple that may possess a powerful weapon within. It’s sealed with a complicated lock that requires both an old Sheikah artifact and the Master Sword to open. He knows where the artifact may be located, but he needs my help for the second part, seeing that I’m the guy who pulled the sword out of its pedestal a few days after the war started. I didn’t know his angle, but he was fully convinced that I would be the perfect guy for this job.

“If you’re interested in learning more… Meet with me again tonight, in the alleyway in front of this establishment.” he told me before he left. “I’ll lead you to somewhere more private where we can continue our conversation…”

“This sounds like a huge gamble,” Midna said, breaking my train of thought. “There’s no guarantee that there’s something in that temple that will help our side, Link. Are you sure you want to do this?”

I stopped in my tracks and gave Mid a wistful look. She turned to face me, startled at my sudden halt. “Midna, let’s be honest: we’re on the brink of defeat,” I told her. “Ganondorf has our number, no thanks to Zant and I don’t want to lose. I can’t lose.” I spread my arms wide. “Hyrule is my home. I do not want to see it in the hands of a mad tyrant, so I’m gonna do it. I’ll go along with this crazy plan, open that temple and find out what’s inside it, gamble or no. I’ll do whatever it takes to protect my home.”

Midna smiled, but was different; it was more somber than her usual cheeky flair. “He’s right,” she said to me, softly. “You are a true patriot to your home.” Her eyes shimmered in the low moonlight. “This place has become my home as well, over these last few years… I don’t want it lost either, you know?”

I didn’t say anything. I didn’t need to, really; she said everything that needed to be said right there. I just nodded in agreement and we continued on our way.

We arrived at the castle shortly after and entered through the main hall. After climbing up the grand stairwell, we said goodnight and went our separate ways; she going up to the guest chambers while I headed for my own on the other side of the castle.

When I entered my room, a thought struck me: I had to tell Zelda about these events and convince her not to have the council send me on another pointless mission. I resisted the urge to groan loudly; the last thing the war effort needs now is another raiding party for Twili technology. I barely escaped by the skin of my teeth when we were discovered on the last mission…

Although… If what Sheik says is true, then we can kiss these fruitless raiding parties good bye once and for all. Hence, why Zel needs to know what’s going on.

Resolving to talk to her in the morning, I stripped off my clothes and gear and flopped on the hard surface that I call a bed. And as darkness crept up on me, I felt hopeful that things would turn around for the better.

I’d learn soon enough that things were going to be far worse than I could’ve ever imagined…


That sounds ominous… What do you think that means? If you’re curious to know, stay tuned to find out!

Disclaimer: Hey! Listen! I don’t own the characters and setting in this story, they are owned by Nintendo!

The Legend of Zelda: Black and White – Part I

Welcome to the first installment of The Legend of Zelda: Black and White! Inspired by the latest TWRM Mix, this was a sudden, crazy brainchild of mine that I started to flesh out as I was listening to it.

This story takes place in a time when Hyrule was embroiled in a bloody war between the Hylian Royal Family and Ganondorf, who yearns to conquer the land for himself. Ganondorf had joined forces with Zant, a resident of Twilight who overthrew and murdered the Twili Royal Family, save for the last living heir who escaped to Hyrule.

Combining his vast armies with Twili technology, Ganondorf and Zant have pushed the Royal Family’s armies to the brink in the span of three years. Queen Zelda and her war council have tried to stymie the damage as much as they could with the help of the Hero Chosen by the Master Sword, Link, but he is only one man against an seemingly unstoppable force. Despite his valiant efforts, Hyrule’s losses only continue to grow and Link has become disillusioned, convinced that they are only delaying the inevitable.

A chance encounter with an enigmatic individual may change all of that with the promise of a swift end to this war. However, Link will soon learn that not everything is as Black and White as it seems…

I hope you enjoy this with coffee in hand, dear readers!


Part I: The Meeting

The cloud-filled night sky started to open up just as I entered Castle Town. It must have been past midnight when I finally got back as the town was pitch black, save for the few lanterns that barely lit up the cobbled streets. That’ll change once it comes down harder; the lights being snuffed out in the same way my blade snuffs the life out of an unsuspecting Moblin. Heck, I could even smell the acrid scent of ozone in the air. It meant lightning was coming and frankly, nobody would be crazy enough to be out here anyway, unless they were comfortable with flirting with electrocution. Then again, with my shield and the Master Sword thumping on the back as I trudged through the streets, I’m basically a walking lightning rod.

Strangely, death from above wasn’t weighing too hard on my mind. Rather, I was doggone tired and in need of a stiff drink. I was covered in blood and sweat and Goddess knows what else thanks to the latest mission that Zelda put me through. Or rather, that the council put me through. If it was Zelda’s choice, she would have told me to stay by her side, but when you’re the best weapon Hyrule has in a dirty war against Ganondorf with the fate of the land at stake, personal choices have to be put aside. She knew that. I knew that too. But I was still angry about that fact.

Pulling my cloak tighter to ward off the cold rain that was starting to intensify, I popped into a dive named Telma’s, just a ways down a sketchy alleyway that sometimes smelled of raw sewage on Castle Town’s south side. At first glance, it might seem like only the dedicated or desperate would trudge through the foul-smelling streets to come here. In reality, it’s a homey and warm place with a robust clientele and a welcome relief from the dreary weather, the depressingly empty streets and my own dark thoughts. The owner and I go way back and I kept telling her to move to somewhere more upscale and ritzy to drum up a bigger customer base, but she wouldn’t bite. She never told me why she preferred this location, but then again it’s none of my business, so I let it be.

As I enter, I don’t see her manning the bar – probably in the back doing inventory – so I dragged my tired body to the bar counter, removed my cloak and weapons, sat on the barstool with my head resting on my hands and began to brood while waiting for someone to serve me.

A sweet, impish voice snapped me from my reviere. “What can I get for you, Hero?” I felt an small smile break out as I lifted my head to see the speaker on the opposite side of the counter.

Ah, Midna. She’s a real doll alright. Vibrant long hair the same colour as a warm, summer twilit sky, eyes like sparkling red rubies and a killer smile with a frame to match. You wouldn’t know it by looking at her at the first glance, but she’s really a former princess from the realm of Twilight that was usurped by some maniac named Zant and banished here to live out the rest of her days in exile here in Hyrule. That very same maniac had recently allied himself with Ganon and provided him tools to aid him in the war that we’re slowly, but surely losing. Day by day, the losses keep growing and the victories we gained have become more and more hollow. The citizens were starting to be disillusioned with the war effort, but you wouldn’t see any of that with Mid; she always had that devil-may-care smile on her face as she bantered playfully with patrons, all while serving up hard liquor on the cheap. She was a real light in these dark times, irony aside. It’s one of the reasons why I liked her so much.

I knew she was no floozy who liked to serve drinks and flirt shamelessly though. During the daytime, she would be up in the castle, providing information to Zelda about her people’s technology and strategizing with the rest of the council on our next course of action. At night, she was here. It was her way to wind down after another depressing day – she could lose herself in the mundane problems of everyday citizens, rather than worry about her own.

Mid was smart, real smart. Some of the one-off patrons who stop by at Telma’s on a whim underestimated her, thinking that she was just some dumb broad to take advantage of based off her fun and outgoing personality. All it took was a vicious remark to shut down anybody idiotic enough to try and make a move on her and send them packing with their tails between their legs, never to come back. The regulars – myself included – have an ongoing bet to see how many guys she can scare off in a month. So far, I’m way off the mark.

I think I was staring too hard because Mid gave me one of her looks that could cut through steel. “Hey Link, you gonna order something or what?” she said, a little bite in her voice.

I shook my head. Classic Midna. “The usual, please,” I told her. She smirked, turned around and started preparing my drink. As I waited, I noticed someone sliding into the seat beside me from the corner of my eye with a drink of their own in hand.

The figure was small in stature and wore a hooded, navy blue cloak with white trim. On the trim were some red designs shaped like an eye of sorts. Its face was so obscured that I couldn’t tell if this individual was a man or a woman. Normally I would have ignored strangers like these, but something about this one made my skin crawl and not in a good way either.

The hooded figure raised its glass and inclined its head towards me. “Hello Link,” said in a smooth, controlled voice. Definitely male. “Lovely night we’re having.”

I wasn’t in the mood for idle banter. I was tired, I wanted a drink and I wanted to go to my chambers in the castle and sleep. “What do you want,” I asked harshly.

The hooded man wasn’t fazed in the slightest by my rude tone. He took a sip of his drink, placed it on the counter and turned to face me. “I’ll cut to the chase Hero; I have a proposition for you,” he said. “An offer that you’d be a fool to pass up on.”

I glared darkly at him. I wasn’t interested in what he was selling. “Get lost, I’ve no need for this right now,” I muttered.

“Not even if what I offer may ensure Hyrule’s salvation?”

My ears perked up at that. “What are you talking about?” I said, turning to face him.

At that moment, Midna came back with my drink and set it by me. She eyed the hooded man critically and then met my eyes for a moment before leaving to serve other patrons. It was a look that said “We need to talk when you’re done.”

I took a hearty draw from my glass, suppressing a cough from the stinging liquid before motioning him to continue. “Go on,” I said. “What information do you have that can save Hyrule?”

The hooded man chuckled softly. “A patriotic man, through and through. Let me tell you this, then: What if I told you that a weapon exists that can overpower Ganondorf’s armies? Would you seek it out?”

I didn’t hesitate. Hyrule couldn’t bear any more losses in this war. Heck, I couldn’t bear any more losses either, nor could I bear to see Zelda look more and more despondent as the days passed. We needed a victory, a decisive one. And even though something about this guy send my nerves on end, at that point, I thought I had nothing to lose by hearing him out.

“Absolutely. You have my attention now,” I told him.

I didn’t know it at that time, but that decision would come back to haunt me later on. And I wouldn’t realize it until the very last moment.


What do you think will happen next? Find out next time on Games with Coffee!

Disclaimer: Hey! Listen! I don’t own the characters and setting in this story, they are owned by Nintendo!

Koffi Trigger – Letter from a Mad Scientist Woman

Hey all, welcome to another edition of Games with Coffee! I had so much fun writing the first letter to Athena for the Year of the RPG, that I decided to make this an ongoing thing for the rest of the year! I’ll be writing in the perspective of the main characters of the series and (if time allows) maybe have some of the secondary characters write in as well! Hope you enjoy it!


Dear Athena,

So, the letter you’re about to read was written on parchment made using outdated production processes and materials that aren’t used in present day paper manufacturing. Why am I mentioning this odd, out of place tidbit? Well, because I’m writing to you from a tavern in Truce Village in the year 600 A.D.; four hundred years in the past!

Before I get around to explaining how exactly I found myself in this era of time and the events that followed, allow me to introduce myself: I’m Lucca, the beautiful, brilliant scientist from Truce Village circa 1000 A.D.

… Well, truthfully, people in the village call me by a different name: Perks. My best (only) friend in the village gave me that name – Koffi. You might know him; he’s a fairly talented swordsman with an unhealthy obsession with coffee, hence his name. I don’t get why he calls me ‘Perks.’ Koffi says it’s because my obsession with machines and science rivals that of his coffee addiction and that I apparently ‘perk’ up whenever I see any piece of technology. It’s annoying, but I digress. Your name popped up when he told me about you and how he wrote you a letter on a whim, hence why I decided to write one myself. It’d be nice to vent to someone else for a change… I’m just hoping you get this.

Anyway, this fiasco started out at the Millenium Fair, back in 1000 AD. I had just fired up my latest invention – The Telepod – when Koffi showed up… With a girl in tow! A cute one to boot! I was so proud of him…

Mind you, while I care for the caffeine addicted swordsman and cherish him as a close friend, in no way would I want to pursue a romantic relationship with him. Why? Well, he’s kind of a dimwit. But I mean it in the nicest way possible!

When I first met Koffi’s companion though, something about her was incredibly familiar, but at the time, I couldn’t put my finger on why she was so familiar in the first place? Odd to put in here, I know, but it becomes relevant later on.

After a quick chat (in which you were brought up), I asked Koffi nicely (read: forced him) to try out the Telepod. I only wished you could see the look of fright upon his face when I told him to try it out; he still remembers the flamethrower incident (which I won’t go into specifics; he might have mentioned it already)! Either way, he tried it and it was a complete success! I’ve successfully teleported a person from one point to another! And I can’t believe it worked! I mean, I did the math and there was a large statistical chance that it would fail spectacularly and splice the poor guy in two, but hey, I avoided it! Hooray for science!

And here’s where everything got crazy; the girl Koffi brought (her name is Priss), wanted to try it out. Here I thought “This would be excellent publicity! If the Telepod gets popular enough, I might get that coveted research and development grant from the Royal Family!” So, I threw sheets to the wind and decided to let her on.

That… Turned out to be a huge mistake.

I still don’t quite understand how it happened, but as she was teleporting to the receiver pod, it seems like an unknown energy source – possibly originating from her pendant – overloaded the Telepod and somehow tore open a hole in space-time. Instead of arriving on the receiver pod, she fell through the hole and vanished.

Naturally everyone panicked and fled from the scene. My father and I argued as to whose fault this was; either he inadvertently increased the Telepod’s power to beyond the overload protection, or I missed a zero when I recalibrated the sender pod prior to her getting on. Anyways, it was no surprise to me that Koffi picked up the pendant that was left behind and told me to fire it up again. He looked hellbent and he only has that look on his face when the ferry comes in with his latest coffee shipment: 200 lbs of roasted beans.

So, my father and I overloaded the Telepod to achieve the same effect of tearing a hole in space-time, with help from the pendant. Koffi was flung into it while I pondered as to what these holes were, why have they appeared and how do I get one open without using the Telepod or the pendant?

Long story short and without going into immense scientific explanation (which, if I’m honest, would turn this letter into a book), I postulated the theory that this space-time energy is naturally occurring, and that Priss’ pendant acts as a sort of conductor for this energy. Using that theory, I built my most amazing invention yet: the Gate Key. When used near a large concentration of this space-time energy, it would create a stable, temporal portal out of it (which I’ll call Gates). I tested it back at the fairgrounds and successfully opened the portal where Priss and Koffi entered! So, naturally I followed along, where I landed 400 years in the past, in the middle of the war between humans and Mystics.

Midway through travelling, I finally realized to my horror who Priss reminded me of and what the consequences of her being in this moment of time would be! I rushed to Guardia Castle of the past and discovered that my fears were founded; Priss is really Princess Nadia, the current heir to the throne in our present time! Also, this year is significant in our country’s history, because it’s when Queen Leene, Nadia’s ancestor, mysteriously disappeared! She would have been brutally murder if not for a trusted knight who rescued her at the last moment. But because Priss is a dead ringer for the Queen, the castle guards called off the search when she was found, meaning that the real Queen was still in danger. If she was killed, it would create a time paradox which would have untold consequences on the space-time continuum! To top all of it off, Nad- sorry, Priss disappeared in a flash of light, meaning that the paradox activation would be imminent, if my theories were correct.

… Basically in a nutshell, unless Koffi and I found the real Queen Leene and returned her to the castle safely, we would all be royally screwed. Pun totally not intended.

As we left the castle to search for the Queen, we were stopped by… a frog man. No, I’m not kidding you; he was a short, ugly and slimy looking frog that stood on two feet, wore travelling clothes and had a sword sheathed on his waist. He insisted (in a very medieval dialect) on joining us to find the Queen. I was initially grossed out (I really don’t like frogs) and almost told him to get lost, but Koffi took a shine to him. It might have been a swordsman thing between the two, but Koffi decided to let him on. While he called himself Frog (wow, that’s an imaginative name…), Koffi decided on a different name: Sir Beans. I actually laughed at that one.

Despite being dismayed at the name choice, Beans joined up with us as we canvassed the village for information about the Queen’s last known whereabouts. We’ve discovered that a day or two ago, the Queen went to the Cathedral near the castle with the Chancellor, but only he returned, citing that the Queen was staying to pray for our troops on the Zenan Bridge. When the report went out that she went missing, the first place they searched was the Cathedral, but they found nothing. We all though this sounded suspicious, so we’ll be heading there shortly. Koffi and Beans (I snickered so hard when I wrote that out) went to gather up supplies, leaving me time to write this out to you.

Looks like they’re back, so I’ll end it here. Wish us luck.

-Lucca (Perks)

PS: You know, I wish I could send you pictures – photography wasn’t invented until late 800 A.D. or so. Maybe when (if, really) I get back to our current time, I’ll invent an instant photo device or something… (I’m actually writing this idea down as we speak.)

PPS: …Koffi says hi and also says thank you for the response, he just got it.

The Year In Review

Good evening and welcome to the first year-end edition of Games with Coffee! We’ve come to the close of 2017 and, while the jury may be out on whether this was a good or bad one, it was definitely a year to remember, both for the gaming industry and for myself in general. Let’s review a few highlights:

Gaming

Probably the biggest news that dropped this year was the release of the Nintendo Switch, which heralded the Big N’s to mainstream status after the failure of the Wii-U. I’ve written about my impressions of the console here. Along with the Switch was the release of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” which just recently obtained The Game Awards’ coveted “Game of the Year” award, beating out such contenders as Persona 5 and Horizon: Zero Dawn. Breath of the Wild’s break from the traditional Zelda mold, something which Nintendo is attempting to do with many of its IP’s in order to remain competitive, was perhaps one of the many factors that accounted for this achievement, which I feel it’s earned. But again, the jury’s out as to whether or not it’s deserving of its title; despite us being mature and distinguished about these matters, we gamers still have strong opinions on what game released this year truly earned that award. Anyways, I digress.

2017 was also a good year for female protagonists: Horizon: Zero Dawn and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, introduced this year, are but a few examples of games with excellent female leads. My friend LightingEllen has written about both Horizon:Zero Dawn’s Aloy and Hellblade’s Senua herself. You should check them out, they’re great reads!

Indie games also had a somewhat of a breakthrough year, thanks again partly to the Switch. Indie-ish title, Sonic Mania, released to great fanfare (of which I wrote a glowing review for) and Axiom Verge, a Metroidvania with a deep, rich storyline, rereleased for portable play. Another new friend of mine, The Well-Red Mage, wrote an excellent writeup regarding this game and its mindbending story, go check it out!

The real indie star this year was the critically acclaimed Cuphead, which won several awards, including best action game, best independent game and best visual design. It’s on my list of games to get into next year.

We also got plenty of high profile releases this year, beyond the ones I mentioned above: Nioh was released at the start of the year – great game if you enjoyed Dark Souls. Destiny 2, Bungie and Activision’s popular shooter, also released to great fanfare. Call of Duty: WW2, another shooter by Activision, returned the series to its roots. Remakes were aplenty with the Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy and Doom leading the pack. Resident Evil also returned to form with its seventh installment. Also released was the hotly anticipated Assassin’s Creed: Origins title – another on my must-play list. Wolfenstein 2, rated Best Action Game, continues from the first installment in a world where the Allies lost the Second World War. Uncharted: Lost Legacy, a side-story to the main Uncharted series, showcased the stories of several secondary characters (say that five times fast!) in an open world setting. And finally, all these crazy Nintendo releases, like the Metroid 2 remake for the 3DS, Mario + Rabbids, which made for am odd yet interesting strategy game for the Switch, Splatoon 2, the kid-friendly, ultra-competitive shooter and Super Mario Odyssey, quite possibly the best Super Mario platformer since Super Mario 64.

Regarding gaming for next year, I’ll be continuing my write-ups for Path of Exile. If you’ve been following me for some time, you’ll know that I’m obsessed with this game. Seriously, now is a great time to get into it and I’ve detailed the reasons why here. Along with that, more reviews shall be coming, along with the possibility of Video Reviews and Let’s Play’s as well! I can’t guarantee when exactly they will strike though, because my time going forward will start to get a bit limited. I’ll explain the reason why further below.

The Quest

As I mentioned half a year ago, I’m on a Quest for personal growth. As the year closes and I reflect, I’d have to say that I accomplished a lot of what I wanted to achieve, except for my workouts. A basement renovation and another important event that happened mid-year, stymied my efforts to maintain my schedule. Nevertheless, I’ve celebrated many highlights this year, one of which includes starting this very blog in March! If you’re a new reader looking to see what I’m all about, start here and be amazed. I’ve also made so much progress in my story writing, more than I have in years; finishing the rough notes for the first installment in my long-standing fanfiction and preparing notes for an original story of my own. And finally, I started a brand new opportunity in November, where I adopted a beginner’s mindset and let go of the preconceived notions I’ve obtained throughout my career.

Going Forward to 2018

2018 will not be more of the same; as the year turns, so to, do the people. I’ve picked up a capture card that I’ll be experimenting with this year and hopefully put up the aforementioned Let’s Play’s and Reviews.

As for personal goals, I plan on continuing on from my Quest last year, with a few tweaks. For instance, thanks to Google, I’ve migrated my fanfiction and my story notes to both Docs and Keep respectivly. I’ve found that I have more freedom to write, thanks to the ability to access documents anywhere, so long as one has an internet connection. I’ve done the same with the infrastructure of “The Quest,” hopefully making it easier to track my progression.

Beyond “The Quest” lies one other, major personal thing. I’ve alluded to it here and there, but now’s a good time to drop the news.

My wife and I are expecting our first child in less than four weeks from now. It’s an exceptionally exciting time for the both of us, since it marks a huge transition in our lives. I’m looking forward to this! It does mean that I’ll be stretched for time writing on the blog, but no worries: content will still be coming! It’ll just be a bit delayed, that’s all.


So, there you have it, another year gone. What are your plans for the New Year? Any Quests of your own you guys looking forward to tackle? Let me know in the comments below!

This has been Ryan from Games with Coffee, wishing you all a Happy New Year and reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing!

The Hcman Gaming Keyboard: An Inexpensively Reliable Mechanical Keyboard!

Hey everyone, welcome to another edition of “Games with Coffee!” Continuing where I left off with the G502 Proteus Spectrum Mouse, I’d like to talk about my next acquisition: a mechanical gaming keyboard! This thing ain’t no Razer, or a Logitech Gaming Keyboard by any means, but it lights up, has that special, clicky mechanical feel, has various configuration options and all for a fraction of the price of the more high end keyboards available! This is the Hcman (HOW do you pronounce that?!) Mechanical Gaming Keyboard!

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Backstory

I have an ASUS Transformer laptop. It was the perfect unit to type stories and blog posts on due to it being compact, lightweight and easy to use. Well, it used to be perfect because only a few months ago, my keyboard dock started to fritz out on me and I lost the ability to type the ‘C’ and ‘S’ keys! I looked up solutions, applied BIOS updates and generally mashed the keys to force it to work once more, but it was no use: the keys were toast and are currently not working at all. So I had to find a new solution.

I first tried a wireless keyboard with a USB input. Things were going good for the first month until it ultimately crapped out on me. Anything I connected the USB reciever into – laptop, Raspberry Pi, etc. – the device couldn’t recognize the keyboard, so it became a useless paperweight that I bought for about $20…

Learning from my mistake, I decided to get a gaming keyboard with mechanical switches. They’re durable, the back light makes it easy to work in the dark and the clicking sounds they make were oddly satisfying to me. I didn’t have the scratch to plonk down for a high end keyboard, but I also didn’t want to cheap out either. After doing my research on Amazon, I settled on the Hcman keyboard, which (and I may be biased here) was an amazing purchase!


The Keyboard

For a roughly $40 keyboard, the quality is not that bad. The top has a sandblasted aluminum finish, with the company’s logo milled onto the surface between the arrow and page up/down key areas. It gives it a nice, upscale look. The bottom is plastic with rubber pads on the corners to keep it from moving when on a surface. r Each row has its own coloured back light; from top to bottom, orange, white, green, violet, blue and red.

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Look at those colours!

The keyboard actually quite compact: measuring in at about 14″ long by 5″ wide (355 mm x 127 mm for the metric folks). There’s no number pad on this board, hence why it’s smaller in size compared to other keyboards. There are a total of 87 keys on the board.

They keyboard has an anti-ghosting or NKRO (N-key rollover) feature, which allows a user to press multiple keys at once; perfect for gamers who need to press multiple keys to accomplish various actions.

The keys have a nice, clicky feel to them and look extremely durable. They’re a bit noisy, but I feel in a state of zen whenever I type on it. The noise, however, may annoy others around you; My wife hates whenever I use it and she complains that it’s always too loud.

The keycaps can be replaced, thanks to the included key removal tool, so it’s easy to customize the keyboard to however you like.

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I think the coolest part about this keyboard is the multiple lighting effects! There are nine in total, including pulsating, wave, scrolling and ripple, among others. Another neat feature included on the board is the capability to customize your key back lights for various games! There’s a built in RTS (real time strategy) and FPS (first person shooter) configuration, which lights up only the keys that you would use for those games, but there are three additional profiles that can be reprogrammed to suit your specific game. For instance, I have one specifically tailored to Path of Exile and another for emulation. Customizing the board is extremely simple; select the empty profile by hitting FN + 1, 2 or 3, hit FN +Esc to start recording, type the keys that you use for the game you’re playing and then hit FN + Esc to end the recording and save it to the board!

Performance-wise, I’m very pleased with it. The keys are very responsive and connecting it to my laptop was incredibly easy; just plug in the braided USB cable and you’re set!   I’ve put it through its paces by writing posts and my fanfic and I’ve had no problems doing either. If you’re a writer or enjoy writing, I recommend that you pick up a mechanical keyboard over all others. There’s even a back light setting specifically tailored for the office. It doesn’t do anything for the noise however…

I think the only complaint I have about this keyboard is how people complain how noisy it is. I love the sounds myself, but again, the noise may drive others crazy… Others may not like the fact that the number pad is not included with the unit, but I personally don’t miss it.


Right now, you can pick it up on Amazon for $39.99 CAD with free shipping, which I think is a great price for a mechanical gaming keyboard. If you’re looking for a great gift this Christmas, either for your favourite mature, distinguished gamer, or for yourself (because you gotta treat yourself at times!), I highly recommend this.

Stay tuned for the next edition coming very soon: Christmas is next week and if you’re looking for some last minute gaming gift ideas for your favourite person, then I have a few ideas for you!

Once again, this has been Ryan from “Games with Coffee,” reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing. See you next time!

 

“The Quest:” Practicing Writing Through Fanfiction and Using NaNoWriMo as Motivation to Write!

Good morning and welcome to another edition of “Games with Coffee!” How is everyone today?

As you may or may not know, November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo): the annual event where writers from all over write a minimum 50,000 word novel in one month. It’s a pretty big deal, since it motivates people to get off of their butts and start writing, instead of thinking about writing something, but not doing anything about it.

Why am I mentioning this? Well, one of my goals in my Quest to be a better person this year was to improve my writing with the determination to fulfill one of my biggest life goals; to write and publish my own original story. While I’ve made a lot of progress on it this year by building a world, a loose timeline of events, some character development and a plot structure, I’m probably a year or two away from starting to put it all together. A lot of my progress was possible thanks to all the practice I’ve done writing fanfiction, which (as I may have mentioned this once or twice in previous posts) I’ve been doing ever since I was a kid. The biggest problem I have, however, is the fact that I’ve been unable to properly finish a story that I’ve started, whether it was an original story or fanfiction. Most times, I’d start, only to give up after the first few sentences and scrap the story. Other times though, I got pretty far into it, but my endings were terrible. However, there’s one story right now that I’m determined on finishing: a fanfic that crosses the universes of Final Fantasy VII and Sonic the Hedgehog, which I’m using mostly as a practice board for the real thing when I get to it.

Now, the operative thought you may have here may be; “A crossover fanfic!? What in hell’s name are you talking about?!” But seriously, here me out for a second; it may not be as far-fetched as you think!


Ten years ago, I got bored with studying advanced mechanical dynamics for my engineering degree, so I started writing character comparisons between the personalities of Sonic the Hedgehog and Zack Fair and Miles “Tails” Prower and Cloud Strife (from the Sonic the Hedgehog and Final Fantasy VII games respectively) after noticing similarities between them. As I delved deeper, I noticed a lot of things in both games/series somewhat coincided with one another. Examples include:

  • FF VII’s ‘Materia’ system consists of the five common types of Materia (Green, Red, Blue, Purple and Yellow), along with the rare White and Black Materia, which makes seven. Know seven other multicolored gems that fit that profile? Chaos Emeralds.
  • Robotnik’s (Eggman’s) desire for world conquest is analogous to Shinra’s naked ambition for world domination. Both achieve this through scientific means; genetic, robotic or otherwise.
  • In the Sonic comic series published by Archie Comics, several issues speak of a gold-silver substance called “The Source of All,” which is a form of spirit energy used to create life in the Sonic universe and which also has a link to the Chaos Emeralds and Power Rings in that canon. A similar link exists between the Lifestream, Mako and Materia in FF VII.
  • Finally, in the Sonic Archie Comic canon, prior to the start of the war between the Freedom Fighters and Robotnik, the Power Rings, created by an object called a “Ring Forge,” allowed the Mobian race to rapidly move from a primitive, medieval age to a hyper-advanced golden age. The same can be said about the Shinra Company’s discovery of Mako and the subsequent construction of Midgar leading to an age of advancement and prosperity thanks to cheap energy.

Using what I’ve found, I expanded on the initial comparison and eventually created an alternate Sonic universe, combining the story elements from the games and the Archie Sonic comic book universe canon with Final Fantasy VII’s plot as its backbone. I published portions of the first installment (out of six or seven!) on the Fanfiction.net website (My pen name’s Zonic Warrior-STH) – one of the largest sources of online fanfiction.

Six years later, I started rewriting the story, partially due to some harsh, yet constructive criticism, partially due to paying attention to how other author’s structure their stories and mostly because I hated how the original sounded. I mean, I read it out loud once and I cringed at how terrible it sounded…

So, for the rewrite, I decided to change my approach to writing. I started taking notes on what to write in terms of narrative and character dialogue relative to the backbone of the plot. I did even more research into FF VII’s plot and the world encompassing both the Sonic games and comics and continued to note things that sort of matched between the two and things that would need to be modified to fit the narrative that I wanted to portray. I studied both action and dramatic scenes in movies, TV shows and other games and wrote what it would look like in a book. And finally, using those same mediums, I tried to interpret how the dialogue and narrative would play out in scenes and how to describe in detail the present setting and character’s body language to better form an image in a reader’s mind. These strategies proved valuable both for developing the fanfic and eventually my original writing; in fact, just this June, I finished all the rough notes for the fanfic, which would make finishing this thing much easier, while I use note-taking apps like Google Keep, on a day-to-day basis to jot down and organize my plot, dialogue and action scenes for my own personal work.


I’m determined to finish this thing, more as a way to prove to myself that I can actually and properly finish a story. That’s why I’m using NaNoWriMo as motivation to finishing it. By scheduling time every day in November to write a few hundred, even a thousand words, I’ll be much more closer to finishing this thing than any other point before.

So far, as of writing… I haven’t gotten too much done, sadly; I barely hit 20% of the goal. But there’s still just under half a month left – I got time and resources (Thanks Google Docs!) on my side! And even if I don’t make 50,000, I would have done more now than I have in the past, which is something I can be proud of.

If you want to take a peek at my writing style or get a better idea of what the story’s about, check it out here. Bear in mind that I’ll be revising the hell out whatever you’ll be reading when I finish writing the whole thing, but still, let me know what you think. I’m always open to constructive criticism.

Stay tuned for the next edition, because I’m not done with November just yet! This month will mark twenty years that I first played Final Fantasy VII, the game that made a HUGE influence in my life. That will likely show up at the end of the month. Also coming up soon, I’m going to talk about some hardware I picked up a while ago, how to use a gaming mouse for work purposes and two more Espresso Shot Reviews!

This has been Ryan from Games with Coffee, getting back to work on writing this beast of a story and always reminding you, dear reader, to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing!