Categories
GAMING

THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: Majora’s Mask 🎭 20 Years Too Late…

I loved The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, but sadly had never heard of Majora’s Mask because it came out in the year 2000. At that time I was on active duty in the U.S. Army and spent all my free time in college or in the Pacific Ocean trying to make it as a surfer. I got back into gaming in 2001, but I was in Thailand where they preferred PlayStation. Back then all the consoles were easily hacked and could play burnt discs that shops everywhere were selling from fifty cents to over a dollar. As a gamer it felt like Christmas walking home with a bag full of cheap games. N64 cartridges were expensive and weren’t easily pirated like the CDs used in the original PlayStation so most people in Asia (outside of Japan and Korea) never saw an N64 or any of its great games. Even now, people see me playing Super Mario 64 on my phone and ask about it.

I have good internet at home and most restaurants have WiFi so I don’t waste money on a data plan for my phone which means I will use it offline often. Getting a phone ready for offline mode has many benefits. If you’re at a party for example and the power goes out and then there’s no internet, you’ll be able to jam on because you have the song files ready or can still play games that don’t need the internet like N64 games. I can imagine going back in time and telling myself that every single Nintendo 64 game can be played on a phone that fits in my front shirt pocket and I would think that we made it to Star Trek. When I think about the limitations of file size, RAM, and speed they were working with back in the 1990s, these games really shine as true digital masterpieces of artistic creation and ingenuity.

After downloading every N64 game ever made on my phone, I had to delete 99% of them because most looked horrible, some wouldn’t load at all, and most were boring. I was sad to see that GoldenEye 007 couldn’t be controlled with the touchscreen and had to go in the bin too. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s MaskSuper Mario 64Wave Race 64Mortal Kombat TrilogyStar Fox 64Perfect Dark, and Super Smash Bros. were the only games that could be controlled with touch screen well and also survived my love of putting files in the trash bin.

The graphics looked good on my phone’s screen and the controls were smooth. It felt like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time but a bit different at the same time too.  The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask was one of only three N64 games which REQUIRED the Expansion Pack which added 4MB of RAM. It really did make a difference and improved the quality of the gameplay, but was it worth buying it if it only worked on three games late in the life cycle of the N64? I remember having it and didn’t regret it at all. It was only $30 and came with the games that needed it so it was kind of a fair deal. I think many of us bought it individually and then bought games that came with it, so we’d just give the spare ones to friends who didn’t have it. I don’t know if it made any difference, in fact I remember many people complaining it made older games freeze up sometimes.

This starts off fun, getting to be Link again in glorious 64 bit plus expansion graphics, then this guy in a mask comes along and jacks our horse and ocarina.

He also turned us into this tree kid.

Flying around with flowers is fun. Nintendo always had a magical way of making games feel alive and full of fun compared to the competition. I bet that some new form of AI will be able to read these old games and reproduce them exactly like they were designed only in 8K resolution. There are many fan boys doing this now, but I think it will be done perfectly when an advanced AI does it.

With only three days left until time runs out I felt myself running around like a chicken with its head cut off not knowing what to do.

I rode my bike to this food court located at the start of the night market. I didn’t have WiFi, so I couldn’t rely on Youtube for a solution. Back in the day we’d get stuck for days or weeks on a game until someone’s older sibling told us what to do or we found a clue in an old Nintendo Power magazine.

Boom. Game over. The world has come to an end because I wasn’t fast enough. Oh wait. It’s like a 72 hour version of Groundhog Day. You get to start over, just without anything gained along the way. I would love if real life were like this without the getting stuck in the loop part. Playing old N64 games on my phone is kind of like that with the save option. It really makes the game a lot more fun not having to start all over again. I want to play these old games for nostalgia and relaxation, not to get stressed out, so I cheat using the save option all the time.

I found myself frustrated by this game, turned it off and went back the Super Mario 64, but it kept bugging me and I came back the next day to try again. I wish I had played this when it came out. I would’ve really loved it then. It’s honestly hard for me to get that into it after playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but it’s only 32MB in size and I’m glad it’s on my phone incase I ever want to play what is considered by many to be one of the greatest video games of all time.

Categories
TRAVEL

Enjoy the cool November weather and sunset in Luang Prabang

Winter has finally arrived here. I had to wear socks and a jacket to bed last night because it was so cold. It may look warm and tropical in these pictures, but I promise you it was a chilly memory.

This really is the perfect time to come here. That’s why it’s usually the high season. This will probably be the only time it’s empty like this ever again so I’m just going to enjoy the slow life.

If you like cruising around on a bicycle and enjoying nature like me, then you will fall in love with Luang Prabang.  It’s green all year and has many waterfalls, jungle, caves, and temples to explore. It’s a dream come true for us who love nature photography too.

The night market is a great place for seeing local art and hand made stuff. Now that I’ve got a good camera, I’ll try to post something about it soon. 

You can walk around in the same path everyday and still get great unique shots here. Can you see Phou Si in this picture?

Most fruit shake around town cost just over a dollar. I stopped by BNT for a shake and spaghetti.

The flowers are all about to come out soon.

Some will bloom all year.

I’ve never seen one like this before. Does anyone know the name of this kind of flower?

The sun was starting to set. If I rode my bike along the river I could get a few more shots before the light was gone.

Thanks for enjoying Luang Prabang again with me today. Hopefully you too can visit this special place soon.

Categories
TRAVEL

Wednesday walk around LPQ with my friends…

The flowers are starting to come out in Luang Prabang now. It’s been a ghost town all year and I feel lucky to be one of the few tourists to be here now. There are the random flights out at three times the price and nothing coming in. Things are natural and peaceful here, but I feel bad for the many who rely on tourism which should be booming this time of year.

It was hot for so long then it seemed to rain heavily everyday all day, but now the cool weather is here. I sometimes get the chills at night and no longer need a fan or air conditioning.

I have many great memories here and plan to have more, but this place is holy and has ancient historic energy a thousand times over my soul has seen. Kings were crowned here. Battles went down. Many good and bad things have happened on this site. If you’ve visited, you would remember the deep dream like spiritual feeling too.

Speaking of otherworldliness, look at what my buddy does to scare away evil spirits from his home!

Here’s how I roll. As a kid who was always scared of the dark, I needed a demon scarier than all the rest. You have to understand that many people around the world have NEVER heard, seen, or cared about Star Wars before, but after you show them what The Dark Lord of the Sith can do on YouTube, they fear this mini gargoyle ghost repellent, besides, we know who to call!

I was worried about him because he’d been in a crash and we heard he had a lot of breaks, but he wasn’t that bad. I tried to relax on this hammock…

Drink some is this NOT Jim Beam local moonshine that might as well be paint thinner. If you want to prove you’re a real man and drink lots of this hundred proof cocktail from hell, be my guest…

But one friend kept complaining about the noise and the other kept complaining about all the construction violations they’d be committing if this were Canada. It reminded me of when we did construction as punishment in the military, but loved it. How many red flags do you see?

Thank you for witnessing this once in a lifetime opportunity to be here now with me today. Have you been here before? Please share in the comments…

Categories
TRAVEL

Sauntering around Luang Prabang for Thanksgiving

I came here with my brother for a 2-day visit which turned into three years, but feels like only 3 weeks have past. My brother went back to America after a month, but he still misses it here. The second we arrived here we knew this was a special and magical place. I believe that ancient towns like this have strong spiritual energy that newer places lack. It’s hard to put into words, but hopefully you can visit here one day and see for yourself.

Before the plandemic this was the most international little town I’ve ever seen. I’ve made friends with so many people from around the world, but now there are only locals and a few expats around. Many people who had cafes or restaurants had to close up shop and return to their home countries which most regret since they have to wear masks and can’t leave their homes. Zero people in Laos have died dispite the large amount of Chinese tourists right before the lockdown. Maybe Lao people have better immune systems. Maybe people died, but they weren’t tested or reported, or maybe this whole covid-1984 is just the flu with a scary name. I honestly don’t know or care. I’m just thankful to be here during these crazy times. I can visit ancient temples and meditate alone for hours or walk around town visiting tourist traps for free. During the Lao New Years I swam in the river with some fellow Americans, a German, Brazilian, and a few locals. It was surreal to have the town and river to ourselves. It’s an experience we’re very unlikely to have again. 

I don’t know at what age you’re supposed to go through your midlife crisis, but I had a blast going through mine here. I wonder how many forty year old men have gone solo into a dance club and had 20 year old girls hug them and invite them to the table and looked at like a cool and great dancer. I can’t dance that well, but no one here can either. I always think how lucky I am that I learned how to dance hip hop style in high school and for all the moves and songs to never have really changed. Sometimes I’ll dance using the Macarena moves and they think it’s cool and orginal. 

I never thought of myself as a photographer until I started posting and earning crypto here. There are so many beautiful and natural things to capture in Luang Prabang that I can go around the same walking paths and still capture great images. 

This has been a hard year for the whole world. It is honestly hard to find things to be thankful this Thanksgiving, but I’m thankful for discovering and living in this hidden gem of Asia. What are you thankful for this year?

Categories
FILM

THE LIBERATOR: The true story of the most racially diverse unit of WWII

This four part miniseries is like The Dirty Dozen mixed with Band of Brothers with Scanner Darkley‘s animation style and seems too good of a story to be true, but it is based on a true story.

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It starts off with a young lieutenant tasked with getting J company ready for a live fire drill. When he finds it, he see’s that the J stood for jail. He gives the men the choice of staying locked up or to train with him.

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When training at the firing range a massive bully of a master sergeant heavily berates his men so he suggests that rather than talking down to them maybe he should actually do his job and teach them.

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This pisses the master sergeant off so much he invites the lieutenant for a fist fight behind the shed. This brawl earns him the men’s respect.

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One of the American soldiers gets captured by the Nazis who looks at the names of some of the dog tags he’s aquired noticing most men have Mexican and Native American names. The Nazi suggests that America must be desperate to recruit men like that and the captured soldier defends his brothers saying they are Americans just like him. The Nazi officer tells him he has been to America. He studied at MIT and had traveled to the south and had seen signs barring Mexicans from bars and seperate water fountains for blacks and whites wisely asks why men would die for a country that treats them as second class citizens and tells him they are not like him.

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I thought the animation over real actors was just an effect for the opening credits, but the whole series was done with it. It was weird at first, but it’s such a good story that it didn’t bother me after a while. Infact I think it helps the audience focus on the men of the story rather than the sets or props.

If you like WWII army movies, then The Liberator wont let you down. It’s a powerful story of courage and leadership. I thought this was a story too good to be true, but after looking into it, I found it was based on real events. I highly recommend watching this inspirational Netlix orginal series.

Categories
FILM

THE RIGHT STUFF: Film (1983) and TV Show (2020) Review

Do you have what it takes? I wish I did. I went to Space Camp in 1992 and was sure I’d be an astronaut or at least a fighter pilot when I grew up. I remember seeing The Right Stuff on the bookshelf and thought the pictures and captions were really cool when I was a kid.

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My grandfather was a fighter pilot in the Air Force during the Vietnam War. I grew up on his airport in the 80’s and met hundreds of pilots. I thought it was normal and how all kids grew up. The guys in The Right Stuff were legends in my family.

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When I saw Disney had turned the film, which was based on the book, into a TV show, I decided to check it out. Besides, I’m all caught up on The Mandalorian and Star Trek: Discovery so a little historical drama might be fun. I was right. The Right Stuff is only 8 episodes which I watched all in one setting. I then watched the 1983 film.

Fake History & Humanizing Heroes

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Rocket technology was brand new back in the early 1960’s and many of them blew up. The first Russian and Americans who strapped up ontop of converted nuclear missles and shot up to space truly were brave pioneers who everyone either looked up to or were jealous of. The TV show only showed the American point of view, but I think they should make a show like this about what really went down in the Soviet Union’s space program too, considering they sent the first satellite, man, and woman into space. Maybe people will actually be able to say Yuri Gagarin’s name right after watching it.

Look what Google showed me after searching for the first woman in space…
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I remember learning that Alan Shepherd was the first American man in space in school, but only learning of Yuri years later. Isn’t it interesting how they play with words like that? It technically is true, but still feels like a deception or fake history at the same time. When I was in the military, I was a Civil Affairs linguist. We fell under the Special Operational Forces command. That didn’t mean we were Special Forces with green berets. We weren’t one tenth as skilled, disciplined, or badass as the men that wear green berets or Navy Seal tridents, but a lot of douche bags would pull what was linguistically acurate, but sneaky stolen valor by telling others, we’re Special Operational Forces. I got in some heat at my teaching job in Bangkok because I said the manager was a douche bag pussy liar for pulling that crap. I had to explain to all the other teachers that he didn’t technically lie, but I was the same type of soldier as he was and that he’s full of shit and to ask him again and to listen to the words he says more carefully and to look it up. He never spoke to me again, but nothing serious came of it because I was simply telling the truth.

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There were a few inaccuracies in the TV show, but nothing serious or important. The only thing that bothered me was that Disney didn’t show what Alan Shepherd said right before launch…

Don’t fuck this up!

Overall, the show did a great job of making me care and feel like I got to know these American legends by showing their weaknesses and flaws. Some drank too much and womanized while others took themselves too seriously and were too square. The actors were a bit too buff and handsome compared to the real guys, but they did a great job.

1960’s Nostalgia

I was born in 1980, but still feel nostalgic for the 60’s. When I was a kid a lot of the technology, furniture, and cars from that time were still around plus all the grown-ups idolized that time. The Right Stuff captured that decade’s feeling perfectly just like Mad Men did in my two decades late opinion. If you remember or love the 60’s I’m sure you’ll love this show, but it’s good besides that too.

The Movie

Having feeling sad the TV show ended so quickly, I immediately watched the 1983 film. There are some famous actors in it including Sam Shepard, Scott Glenn, and Ed Harris who must have met the real astronauts because they act and look just like them. It was filmed just over twenty years after the real events, so a lot of the aircraft and people were still around from that time for references. It wasn’t a successful film for the time and feels like a B grade version of Top Gun, but it did come out first and surly helped inspire the Tom Cruise hit. I really like how they mixed real NASA footage into the film and made you feel like you were in the cockpit sometimes.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a Top Gun like action packed thriller, then neither the film or TV show may appeal to you, but if you love aviation, space, and history then I think you’ll like this historical drama. It got me into a rabbit hole of reading about great pilots and astronauts. Did you know that Chuck Yeager is still alive? He enlisted as a private and made it to a Brigadier general in the Air Force who retired after over 30 years. He was still flying for them until 2012.

Categories
TRAVEL

Spirited Away in Luang Prabang

One of my favorite things to do here is ride around and get lost. This small ancient town always has hidden beauty to reveal. Today was no different. My buddy came by looking for something to do, so we cruised around town snapping pictures with my new phone. It’s a Samsung A11, the cheapest and lowest end model of 2020, but it can take some really nice pictures. 

Not all bridges are the same. They rebuild this every year after the boat races and rainy season.

The restaurant wasn’t the only thing we captured today. Glad to see the car we parked here in 1969 is still parked.

The goat didn’t want to participate in the photo shoot.

Taking up close nature, water, and across the river shots to the old princess’s home is a good test for a camera. I think cheap smart phones are finally to par with the big ones worn around the neck.

Things were bad before the pandemic, but 2020 has made this lovely place into a ghost town.

Local life is back to normal, but tourism and hospitality are bone dry. This restaurant was built by a Thai superstar to look like ancient times, but never found success.

I didn’t see any security and was able to walk around taking these pictures. Few abandoned places in the world can look this nice void of damage and vandalism. Something about this place made me feel like it was the real life Spirited Away. I didn’t see any people eating too much food or any pigs, so it was OK.

Categories
ART

My first time sketching Japanese anime on Procreate

My friend asked me to draw him a mid-evil axe or sword and I’ve been enjoying an anime game, so I mixed the two in today’s sketch. I haven’t used pencil and paper for a long time. I prefer doing sketches straight from digital now. I also like making animated GIFs showing the process. Procreate lets you mix 14 images into one animation, so I saved some images along the way and stacked them all on top of each other to create this. The first two and last images are the final step so it’s displayed the longest.

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I didn’t copy or get inspiration from anybody else’s art. I just started doodling and sketching on my iPad with Procreate. I used a light grey for exploratory sketching and used black when I was sure of the lines I wanted. It may not be my best sketch ever, but I’m proud that it’s 100% an original of mine.

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I know that anime has some key characteristics:

  • big eyes
  • big boobs
  • minimal detail
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I don’t remember seeing any with green skin, but since I had made her with elf ears I went with it.

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I spent about ten hours sketching her, but it felt like a couple minutes. Thanks for checking out my first attempt at drawing anime today. Have a nice day and Happy Halloween!

Categories
GAMING

GENSHIN IMPACT: First Impressions Review

This was the first game recommended by the App Store and looked like an interesting RPG, so I gave it a go. I’ve always like Japanese animation and video games, so it was exciting to play this merging of the two. It is very interesting how they’ve finally made a game look like a living animation. The characters and world are 3D characters, but look and feel like they were hand drawn from any angle.

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The characters are voiced with good actors which helped me get into the game more. I hate RPGs that make me read. If I wanted to read, I’d check out the latest HIVE posts or read Google News, but when I play games, I want to feel emerged in the environment and forget about the actual world and reading ruins the experience for me. They still display the texts so you can read what the characters are about to say so you can read faster than the characters speak if you want to jump to the next line or scene too.

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I also like that the characters can interact with the environment properly. If there is a mountain or tree, you can climb up it.

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I’m using an old iPad to play this. Even though it is 5 years old, it’s still an iPad Pro and has never had any problems until today. I think this game was meant for something more powerful like a PS4 because it would stutter during big animation scenes and would have a lot of black fog in the distance. Maybe when I get a new phone I’ll try this again because the stuttering scenes ruined the experience for me. It could be that I’m just running the demo and if the whole thing gets downloaded it works better.

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Unfortunately for me, my iPad only has 32GB of storage which is almost full. Maybe I’ll go on a mad picture deleting spree and install the whole 4GB of game data and see if that helps to improve the experience.

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It kind of feels like playing a Zelda game. You have a sword, some magic ability, and have wings for gliding. I really believe that artists will be able to animate whole worlds like this simply by thinking or talking about it with an advanced AI in the near future. If they can do this now, imagine what it will be like when computers can read our thoughts in five or ten years.

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I was only able to make it to the first town before I started having problems again when a dragon shows up, but the whole screen has gone black so I can’t see ANYTHING. I’ve tried reseting and loading only the game to see if it works, but I got nothing but black again. Such a shame because I was really enjoying this game. Oh well, I’ll try again on the PS4 or PS5 where it will look great. This is a great game and I wish I could play it more. I don’t know if it’s my iPad or bad game design, but I can’t continue from this point. Have you played this game too? What was your experience like?