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Droopy Doo

Droopy Doo

WEEK IN GEEK: This week, Andrew watches the first season of HBO’s pirate rom-com, Our Flag Means Death, while D. Bethel has a lot of fun with Acid Nerve’s charming game about being a grim reaper, Death’s Door.

RELEVANT EPISODES:

  • Baguettevania” (24 August 2018): Where Andrew discusses his time playing Moonlighter.
  • Sad News Theme” (28 February 2020): Where D. Bethel discusses his time playing Moonlighter.

RELEVANT LINKS:

INFO:

FEATURED MUSIC:

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.

Sad News Theme

Sad News Theme

WEEK IN GEEK: This week, Andrew dives into the CBS All Access archives to get caught up on the surprisingly good––and suprisingly different––remake of the ’80s action show, MacGyver, while D. Bethel dives into the surprisingly compelling Zelda clone/shopkeep simulator by Digital Sun, Moonlighter.

RELEVANT LINKS:

RELEVANT EPISODES:

INFO:

FEATURED MUSIC:

Shortcast 49 – The Sweet Beats

Shortcast 49 – The Sweet Beats

A DIFFERENT WAY TO GAME: Andrew has been playing through Fallout 4 on a survivalist mode, which dramatically changes the way he normally plays Fallout. This got him thinking about ways people have challenged themselves to play games differently––sometimes within the scope of what developers intend and sometimes not.

RELATED EPISODES:

WORKS CITED:

RELATED LINKS:

INFO:

For all intents and purposes, that was an episode recap.

FEATURED MUSIC:

-“District Four” by Kevin McLeod (incompetech.com)*
-“Disco Medusae” by Kevin McLeod (incompetech.com)*
*Tracks are licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Episode 142 – Rewind Yourself

Episode 142 – Rewind Yourself

WEEK IN GEEK: Andrew saw Spider-Man: Homecoming so now they can talk about it while D. gets upset that Vice Media fired gaming journalist, Mike Diver, who co-created Vice’s video game wing, Waypoint.

NAME THAT CHIPTUNE: After going deep into an YouTube hole watching marching bands playing video game music, Andrew brings to the table the question: When the hell did video game music become so popular? Is it that good or are we just getting old?

RELATED LINKS:

Why not me with comic book creator & English professor Dan Bethel

WORKS CITED, REFERENCED, OR CONSULTED:

LINKS:

For all intents and purposes, that was an episode recap.

FEATURED MUSIC:

-“Stayin’ in Black” by Wax Audio
-“Scene III (Final Fantasy – ‘Opening Theme’, ‘Town’, ‘Matoya’s Cave’)” by The Tokyo Symphony Orchestra (from Symphonic Suite Final Fantasy; arranged by Katsuhisa & Takayuki Hattori)

Guestcast 1 – How Does Dan Do It?

Guestcast 1 – How Does Dan Do It?

With D. Bethel suddenly on a Spring Break excursion, Andrew recruits friend of the show, Taylor Katcher to fill in the blanks.

THE ONLY WIZARD IN THE PHONE BOOK: Andrew and Taylor talk about the Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game, the upcoming card game release from Evil Hat Games. Taylor expresses his fondness for Harry Dresden while Andrew admits his fondness for Paul Blackthorne.

TAYLOR BREATHES IN THE WILD: After last week’s discussion of The Legend of Zelda series, Taylor shares his experiences with the newest title in the series, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

For all intents and purposes, that was an episode recap.

FEATURED MUSIC:

-“Stayin’ in Black” by Wax Audio
-“The Final Teen Spirt'” by Wax Audio
-“Maul, Savage and Viszla” by Kevin Kiner & Takeshi Furukawa (from Star Wars: The Clone Wars)
-“Can You Dig It (Iron Man 3 Main Titles)” by Bryan Tyler (from Iron Man 3)

Episode 127 – Dying Without an Error

Episode 127 – Dying Without an Error

WEEK IN GEEK: Andrew does his best to navigate menus and complex relationships playing Crusader Kings II while D. Bethel gets horribly disappointed while playing Samurai Shodown VI.

A TWISTED LEGEND: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has been released to universal acclaim as a launch title for Nintendo’s new console (and as a tombstone for their previous console) but how much is pure nostalgia, how much is hype, and how much is it actually a good game. Well, neither Dan nor Andrew have played it, but with the conversation surrounding the game they do ask a pertinent question, “What is as Zelda game and does this new game meet it?”

For all intents and purposes, that was an episode recap.

FEATURED MUSIC:

-“Stayin’ in Black” by Wax Audio
-“Dungeon” by Bit Brigade (based on music by Koji Kondo)

Shortcast 23 – Special Sickness Edition

Shortcast 23 – Special Sickness Edition

D. Bethel has been hit with a bad case of the sicks, so a Shortcast is in order. It’s a busy week! Emerald City Comic Con is happening this weekend and Andrew will be there, no doubt wandering around. If you see him, say hello [ , ] for all intents and purposes. If you attend, let us know what you thought of the event in the comments!

WEEK IN GEEK: Andrew attended an event celebrating the launch of the Kickstarter for the first tabletop game by friends of the site, Luke and Nicole (from AcrossTheBoardGames.net), Food Truck Champion while D. Bethel decided to deepen his knowledge of Wolverine lore by reading the first fifteen-or-so issues of the long-running Wolverine comic book series by Chris Claremont and John Buscema.

For all intents and purposes, that was a shortcast recap.

FEATURED MUSIC:

-“Thunder Bustin'” by Wax Audio