January 2022 Retrospective
I am going keep this short and sweet because it seems the gods didn't want the people of Ontario to go outside this month.
After we went back into lockdown which was followed by record setting snowfalls and extreme cold weather warnings, there really wasn't any reason to leave our homes. Combine that with a plummeting stock market and the promise of rising interest rates, please don't fault me for curling up under a warm blanket and just playing video games and watching TV all month long.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus
I went into Pokémon Legends: Arceus cautiously optimistic and came out the other side super excited for what Game Freak will make next.
The Pokémon series has been around for over 25 years now and while the games have grown over that timespan the core gameplay hasn't changed that much when you think about it. Game Freak has hung onto the formula of transitioning out of the overworld and into a turn-based battle for that entire time. Thankfully Pokémon Legends: Arceus finally bucks that trend and the game is all the better for it.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus feels like the first Assassin's Creed game, in that it is really rough and unfinished but the gameplay that's there is engaging. There isn't as much of it as I would like but what is there is super fun. I cannot understate how much a difference it makes to be able to run around a fully 3D open-world, throw a pokéball, and having it catch a pokémon without ever battling it. The world somehow feels so much more free knowing you're not going to get dragged into time wasting battles against your will. I have never explored as much in a Pokémon game as I have in Pokémon Legends: Arceus.
That being said, while the world feels more open than it every has, it is still incredibly static. Don't go into this expecting something as dynamic as Breath of the Wild or Skyrim because you're not going to get it. Exploring every nook and cranny of Hisui is a lot of fun but only if you're interested in seeing which Pokémon could just be around the corner. The quests in this game are your basic fetch quests that make you run back and forth for no real reason and the battling is nowhere near as prevalent. You're not collecting badges to eventually challenge an Elite Four so most of the fun of levelling your Pokémon is to see their evolutions.
After playing Pokémon Legends: Arceus I think it will be nearly impossible to go back back to a mainstream Pokémon game. I really hope that whatever the ninth-generation of Pokémon is, Game Freak builds upon the gameplay mechanics of Pokémon Legends: Arceus.
Got my COVID-19 booster shot
Not much to say here other than I got my COVID-19 booster shot and you should too. Remember that we are all in this together and even if you feel you can fight off COVID not everyone around you can. Let's do our best to keep each other happy and healthy.
Anyone who has read this blog knows I am a massive fan of Brandon Sanderson and his novels involving the Cosmere. I have read all of the released works of the The Stormlight Archive (including its novellas) as well as Era One of Mistborn. As I wait for the release of the fifth Stormlight Archive novel, I figured I should finish reading the rest of the books in the Cosmere and decided to start with Warbreaker.
Warbreaker is an atypical Sanderson work in that it is a stand-alone novel. While it does still take place in the same universe there are currently no plans to write a sequel. If you've read the rest of the Cosmere you'll definitely see some familiar faces pop up but if you haven't you'll still feel as if they completely inhabit this world. The story has a beginning, middle, and end where you feel a sense of catharsis, unlike some other books in the Cosmere where unanswered questions will drive you mad for a few years.
If you're a fan of Brandon Sanderson I highly recommend this book but if you're completely new to his works I don't think Warbreaker is the best entry point. The first Mistborn trilogy is still what I would recommend and even after that I would say go into The Stormlight Archive. After the second book then feel free to come back to Warbreaker because I think by then you'll have an appreciation for the universe and you'll notice all of the Easter eggs spread throughout Warbreaker.
Trash Taste Cooking Special
Shin Megami Tensei V
I didn't play my first Persona game until 2017 but I instantly fell in love. The story, characters, and combat just sucked me right in. Persona 5 Royal is easily the best JRPG of the past decade and honestly maybe even of all time. It is undoubtedly up there with Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest.
I was always aware that Persona was a spin-off of the Shin Megami Tensei series but even the most recent releases were on the Nintendo 3DS which I haven't picked up in over four years. But with the release of Shin Megami Tensei V on the Nintendo Switch all of my excuses were moot and so I finally gave the series a shot. Oh how I wish I hadn't.
Basically the only things that Persona and Shin Megami Tensei have in common are that you use demons for combat. That's it. While Persona is focused on story and building your connections to characters, Shin Megami Tensei just wants you to grind. Who has time for story? Just kill the same demons over and over again so you can increase you level and kill even bigger demons. I played SMTV for over 25 hours and the story as far as I can tell is that demons invaded Tokyo so I gotta go to hell and kill them.
I'm not saying that games that focus strictly on combat can't be fun but unless I am missing something the combat in Shin Megami Tensei is incredibly rote. I know some people will contest that it is deep because of all the different demons and skills there are but in the end when you're grinding the same fights over and over again it really doesn't matter. The game is so stingy with experience that there is paid DLC which allows you to fight a monster who drops an item that instantly levels you up. So of course I bought it and the irony was that even after doing that I still didn't feel overpowered. For boss battles I may not be able to die but their health was so high that the combat still became boring.
If you're looking for a JRPG try Persona, Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Octopath Traveler, or NEO: The World Ends With You. Anything but Shin Megami Tensei V!
Started reading The Yom Kippur War
At Ben Pious' suggestion I started reading The Yom Kippur War: The Epic Encounter That Transformed the Middle East and quickly realized how completely ignorant I am to the history of Israel. For my entire life I've only known Israel as this dominant military force that felt like it towered over the Middle East. I did not realize how small Israel was when it was founded or how every country that surrounded it was completely hostile towards them.
I'm about 40% of the way through the book and only on day one of the actual war. It's absolutely mind boggling to see the various failures of all countries involved and even though I know the outcome I cannot fathom how we are going to get there. It is by no means an easy read but I have been thoroughly enjoying learning about Israel and the Yom Kippur War.
This year's NFL playoffs have been absolutely fantastic and insane. My favourite game was probably the Bills vs the Chiefs and even though I didn't enjoy the outcome I can still appreciate what an amazing game it was.
The Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Chargers have the potential to put up an absolute classic at Super Bowl LVI.
Watched Don't Look Up
I'm gonna admit that I found the majority of Don't Look Up completely unwatchable. Its attempt to be a satire of humanity's indifference to the climate crisis was too heavy handed for even my liking. But the last 25 minutes were absolutely fantastic when it stopped trying to beat you over the head with its smugness and instead explored real human reactions to the situation it had created.
Also I must call out Timothée Chalamet who absolutely killed it as Yule:
I gained 148 rating points on Chess.com for rapid this month and I'm not sure how. I won 27 games as white while losing 12 and won 20 games as black while losing 13. The kicker is that I only played the London System as white and apparently it is still allowing me to climb the ladder.
There is this weird dichotomy where I obviously want to keep winning but I also want to expand my repertoire. But I fear that if I try any new openings for white I'm going to absolutely suck and lose a ton of rating.
Review January Goals
- ✅ Publish my most anticipated games of 2022.
- ✅ Publish 2022 New Year's Resolutions.
- ✅ Play Shin Megami Tensei V.
- ✅ Read Warbreaker.
- 🙅🏻♂️ Build Gundam model.
- 🙅🏻♂️ Convert ORSSerialPort to Swift.
- Go ice skating on a public rink.
- Finish reading The Yom Kippur War: The Epic Encounter That Transformed the Middle East.
- Beat Pokémon Legends: Arceus.
- Play Elden Ring.
- Build Gundam model.
- Convert ORSSerialPort to Swift.