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Unnecessary Windows

Unnecessary Windows

QUARANTINE YEAR ONE: We’ve crossed the year mark of a post-COVID world. Andrew and D. Bethel discuss how their tastes, behaviors, and expectations for nerdy stuff––and life––have changed in that year.

RELEVANT EPISODES:

  • Makes a Taste” (13 March 2020): Where Andrew talks about playing the ttrpg, The Spectaculars.

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All Those Words

All Those Words

WEEK IN GEEK: This week, Andrew dives into the newest entry into the Arrowverse in the bold and interesting Superman & Lois while D. Bethel gets invested in the story and characters and world of Star Wars Jedi: The Fallen Order, but is a bit disappointed by some aspects of the game design.

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  • Duck Law” (30 October 2020): Where Andrew and D. Bethel discuss the mid-season premiere of the third season of DuckTales.

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Prime Time Crime

Prime Time Crime

WEEK IN GEEK: This week, Andrew watches the Queen Latifah-starring CBS reboot of the classic crime drama, The Equalizer, while D. Bethel finds a powerful, personal, and moving story about depression and self-acceptance in the 2018 retro-styled puzzle platformer, Celeste.

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RELEVANT EPISODES:

  • Episode 36 – Dan & Andy’s Quality Audio” (13 February 2015): Where Andrew made D. Bethel watch the pilot to Andrew’s favorite show (after Star Trek…maybe), John Rogers’ Leverage by John Rogers.
  • Episode 108 – Private Reasons” (29 September 2016): Where D. Bethel and Andrew discuss the surge of reboots of classic ’80s film and tv franchises.
  • Sad News Theme” (28 February 2020): Where Andrew discussed his first impressions of another reboot of a classic prime time drama, MacGyver.
  • For Great Justice” (19 February 2021): Where D. Bethel talks with Andrew about video game genres and their ability to tell certain kinds of stories (as it related to the bizarre news around Six Days in Fallujah).

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I Am The State

I Am The State

LOST IN ZEBES: With a lot of internet chatter focusing on the 35th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda‘s 1986 release, it made D. Bethel upset because another major Nintendo franchise was also released that year that nobody––much less Nintendo itself––seems that interested in celebrating, the weird, wonderful Metroid. D. Bethel talks with Andrew to see why this game and the series it spawned never gained the legs and legacy of Nintendo’s bigger franchises.

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For Great Justice

For Great Justice

A BAD IDEA AGAIN: More than a decade after Konami cancelled its controversial tactical military first-person shooter, Six Days in Fallujah, the game seems to have been revived by Highwire Games who have taken to the media asserting that they want to tell––with their tactical military FPS––a nuanced, thoughtful, and impactful story of the incident. This news caused D. Bethel and Andrew to wonder if certain stories are simply better suited for certain genres of games?

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Full Release

Full Release

WEEK IN GEEK: As a buffer between episodes about the The Karate Kid movies and talking about Cobra Kai, Andrew and D. Bethel talk about what other nerdy stuff has been occupying their attentions. Andrew talks about the early access release of the Subnautica sequel with Subnautica: Below Zero while D. Bethel is pretty sure he’s playing Rebel Galaxy Outlaw incorrectly as he delivers goods across different solar systems.

RELEVANT LINKS:

RELEVANT EPISODES:

  • It’s Always a Game” (08 February 2019): Where Andrew first discusses his time playing the original Subnautica.
  • Math That Works” (25 October 2019): Where Andrew dials in the gumption to finish Subnautica.
  • “Tile Pile” (22 November 2019): Where D. Bethel discusses his time playing Outer Wilds.

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Surviving 2020: D. Bethel

Surviving 2020: D. Bethel

2020 was a year that upended all expectations. Though the threats that 2020 brought affected people in a variety of ways, for most it became a year of simple survival. For nerds, of course, we turn to the things that occupy our attention, inspire our imagination, or generate conversation. This year, we are looking at the things that helped us survive 2020. Today, co-host D. Bethel shares what kept him inspired throughout the year.


2020 became a year of self-reflection for most people; for creatives, it became a challenge to find inspiration in new places and ways. Working from home proved to be incredibly difficult when, all of a sudden, my creative, personal space became my classroom. Teaching, planning, and grading at my computer all day made it difficult to walk the two feet to my drawing table and work for another handful of hours on a Long John page. To that end, of all the things to provide inspiration, the sweet and sentimental video game, Spiritfarer, hit hard and unexpectedly.

Spiritfarer

On its own, Thunder Lotus’ newest game, Spiritfarer isn’t particularly notable. Yes, it looks very nice and the systems and loops are fun to juggle and the writing is top-notch. But it’s not revolutionary, at least not on its own. It’s just a good game. Honestly, that’s enough.

Spiritfarer is a management sim; playing as Stella, you takes over the role of spiritfarer––shepherding souls from death to the afterlife––from a retiring Charon. The majority of the game takes place on your boat that houses the spirits found along the way. During their tenancy, you talk to them, learn their stories, and help them get past whatever psychology holds them back from accepting their deaths. Once they have a moment of clarity, you take them to the “Everdoor” which sends them to their eternal home. For each spirit you recruit––taking the form of a different anthropomorphized animal––you do small quests to help brighten their moods. To do that, you grow crops, cook food, take them to specific locations, or harvest materials they want. With so many different spirits on your boat, your job is to keep all of these plates spinning while also maintaining your boat.

Also, it has a hug button, which is great.

The thing about this game is not what it is, specifically, although––as I said––it’s very good. Instead, it’s about what it represents and what came before. Spiritfarer‘s Canadian developer, Thunder Lotus, is renowned for their amazing art and animation; what they can’t be accused of, however, is being stuck in a rut. Their previous game, Sundered, is a procedurally-generated Metroidvania. Before that, their first game, Jøtun, is an isometric 2D-Zelda-like that had you battling giant bosses to get into Valhalla (I played both games on the Dan & Rusty Video Game Power Hour years ago).

Every game differs wildly from the last, with the quality of art and music being the only link between them. This also makes them unpredictable, but not in a worrying, nervous way. There is no doubt that their next game will be beautiful and good, even if I have no idea what kind of game it will be, and that’s what I found so comforting about this game in a year like 2020.

This is not a cinematic sequence; this is just something you can do in the game. Screencap taken by the author (click for a larger version).

While Spiritfarer is wonderful, I find its success validating for the mercurial ethos of Thunder Lotus Games, and for me. Though I’m slow with the output for my western webcomic, Long John, I also know it’s not the only story I want to tell. Seeing Thunder Lotus not only bounce between genres and styles without a care but to also be successful (in terms of execution) with every game they make shows me that a similar desire to bounce around with my own creative endeavors is not only possible but can absolutely work when done with integrity, thoughtful intent, and earnest excitement. Those qualities seep through Spiritfarer on every level (pardon the pun), and they were more than welcome in a year like 2020.

Turnips & Romance

Turnips & Romance

WEEK IN GEEK: In the lead up to the holidays, Andrew binges the entirety (so far) of Amazon Prime’s original series, Man in the High Castle, while D. Bethel has been playing the delightful yet simple Cat Quest in short bursts.

RELEVANT LINKS:

  • The charming Nintendo Direct where Mario & Zelda creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, guides us through the new Super Nintendo World theme park:

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The Noclip Option

The Noclip Option

CYBERPROBLEMS 2020: The highly anticipated new game from CD Projekt Red, Cyberpunk 2077, was finally released after a few delays and it had some…issues. From representation issues to severe bugs, Cyberpunk 2077 is a game that has encouraged a lot of discussion, discourse, as well as hot takes. Andrew & D. Bethel do their best to sort through the mire.

UPDATE: It looks like Sony has removed Cyberpunk 2077 from the Playstation store and is refunding the purchase price to all who bought it there.

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RELEVANT EPISODES:

  • Rhythms of the Algo” (17 January 2020): Where it was mentioned that the release of the Netflix original series, The Witcher, prompted a resurgence of popularity in The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt.
  • Playing the Menu” (20 March 2020): Where Andrew started playing The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt after watching the Netflix series.
  • The Cutting Edge” (29 May 2020): Where D. Bethel talks about picking up The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt after watching the hit Netflix series.
  • Con Artists #06 – Tickets & Tables” (11 December 2020): Where D. Bethel talks to Taurus Comics‘ Kyrun Silva about being an independent comicker in a world without comic book conventions.

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Weekend Ramboing

Weekend Ramboing

WEEK IN GEEK: Andrew befriends dogs and murders zealots in Far Cry 5 while D. Bethel finally gathers his thoughts (now that he’s seen it both at the drive-in and now at home) on the final X-based release from 20th Century Fox (albeit after Disney’s purchase), The New Mutants, directed by Josh Boone.

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RELEVANT EPISODES:

  • Episode 136 – Make It So” (02 June 2017): Where D. Bethel and Andrew discuss the controversy surrounding the release of Far Cry 5.
  • We Still Don’t Know $#!&” (31 May 2019): Where Andrew first enters the Far Cry universe with Far Cry Primal.
  • Arias In Embers” (21 June 2019): Where D. Bethel discusses––and defends––the second-to-last Fox X-film, Dark Phoenix.
  • Playing the Menu” (20 March 2020): Where D. Bethel discusses playing Shadow of the Tomb Raider, a game that seemingly had something important to say about colonization, but crumbled underneath the weight of a AAA budget and the expectations that brings with it.

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