Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Look What Came in the Mail Today!

Thank you, Club Nintendo!  This is a very lovely messenger bag.  I will wear it proudly!

Monday, January 30, 2012

My Little Monday: The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy

The newest episode of My Little Pony was fun to watch, but nothing important really happened.  The Apple family is unable to keep up with demands for their famous cider.  This is apparently a yearly problem.  They have yet to address the lack of supply, probably because they are the only game in town.  The Flim Flam Brothers arrive offering a machine that can help streamline the process, but demand 75% of the profits.  Naturally, the Apple family declines.  This sparks a challenge from the Flim Flam Brothers, a cider competition.  Whoever makes the most cider in an hour get the exclusive selling rights in Ponyville.  The brothers win, but their cider is so fully of dirt and trees that no pony is willing to buy it.  Once the brothers realize they have no chance of profit, they leave. 

The Flim Flam brothers were definitely based off The Music Man.  For those unfamiliar with that music, remember the monorail episode of the Simpsons?  Same thing.  They were very one dimensional characters, but it fit in with the simplicity of the episode.  They were good for a catchy song, and that is about it.

I do want to note that Apple Bloom needs to learn when to keep her mouth shut.  Most of the trouble the Apple family got into this episode was because of her.

Favorite scene of the episode.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Uploaded this little mess to the facebook page.

My Little Monday: The Last Roundup

I am just as shocked as you, Derpy.
This past Saturday, January 21st, is a day that Bronies world wide will never forget.  Rainbow Dash called the gray colored Pegasus with the "bubbles" cutie mark Derpy.  I never thought Derpy's fan given name would become canon, but I am rather happy to be proven wrong.  Sadly, I was alone when watching the episode, so I had no one to share my glee with at the time.  That is okay, when Mike Awesome arrives home today I will make him sit through Derpy's big scene.  I also think the member of 4-Chan who first gave Derpy her name should be given all the internets and the power that comes with it.

Enough about Derpy for now.  The real star of The Last Roundup is Applejack.  Say what you will about Applejack, but I find that she is the one mare who really exemplifies her Element of Friendship.  Rarely is she not an honest pony, for honor seems to be everything to Applejack.  Without honesty there is no honor.  Her biggest fault has always been her pride, which fits into the importance of honor.  If AJ makes a promise, then she will go well beyond the effort of a normal pony to make good on that promise.  In season one we saw what happens when she tries to spread herself too thin to keep her word, and it seemed as though she learned her lesson.  Apparently not. 

Applejack entered a rodeo in Canterlot and promised to donate her first prize winnings to the town for some much needed renovations.  The key point here is that she promised her first prize winnings, instead of promising to donate if  she won.  AJ had every reason to be confident, as she has had a history of winning nothing but blue ribbons.  Yet they never state where these previous rodeos she has entered were located.  I really get the feeling that this was her first rodeo in Canterlot.  What is it they say about counting chickens?  As expected, Applejack is unable to get a blue ribbon and began to feel her pride sting.  Her pride would not let her admit to Ponyville she failed and her honor would not let her welch on a promise.  Her reaction was to send a letter home simple stating she would not be returning, but she would send the money soon.  Part of me was proud that AJ was planning to find a way to raise the money she promised, despite the fact that it was a promise should have never made to begin with.  On the other hand, I do not condone the way she carelessly abandoned her family.  I doubt Big Mac can run the farm completely on his own, Granny Smith is too old for most of the hard labor, and Apple Bloom is still too young.  She let her pride endanger her family, and there is no honor in that.

Chew your food.  And don't eat with your mouth open!
Naturally, Twilight Sparkles and the other four ponies go in search of Applejack.  It was quite painful to watch AJ stonewall her friends instead of confiding in them.  My favorite scene in Dodge Junction was at Cherry Jubilee's cherry orchard.  Applejack had taken a job for Miss Jubilee at her cherry orchard so she could raise the money to send back.  When she refused to communicate with the others, they too took up employment at the orchard.  The scene in question is definitely an homage to I Love Lucy.  Instead of Lucy and Ethel with chocolates, we get Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie sorting cherries.

A broken Pinkie Promise, strange stagecoach chase, and epic train jump later Applejack is finally forced to face the truth.  Like the true friends that they are, Twilight Sparkles and the others don't even understand why AJ is so ashamed after she confesses what happened at the rodeo.  I want to add real quick how bothered am I that after they convinced AJ to return home, they did not go back for Rarity and Pinkie Pie.  What kind of pony just abandons their friends in the desert to find their own way home?  Hopefully Applejack learned her lesson for real this time.  I would close with, "Alls well that ends well," except it didn't end very well for Rarity.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Gaming Powered by Steam: Plants vs. Zombies Part 2

I had a few topics I was rather excited to write about, but I got a little distracted the past few days.  I blame the awesomeness of Plants vs. Zombies.  The problem with so called casual games is that they are designed to be playable anywhere, yet they are just as easy to loose yourself in as a game like Skyrim or World of Warcraft.  I have already beaten story more once and I still have plenty more I can accomplish.

The game has four modes, five if you count the Zen Garden.  As I just stated, I have already beaten Adventure (story mode) once.  Like games of old, after you succeed once, the game starts over with a higher difficulty.  The main difference on the second play through is that Crazy Dave chooses three of the plants you must use at the start of each level.  Sometimes his choices are helpful, and sometimes they just waste a slot.  If you upgrade your slots as often as possible, then Crazy Dave's interference isn't that big of a hassle.

Beating the game unlocks the credits, which are mixed in with a lovely music video.
Once the credits have been unlocked, you can go back and watch it whenever you like.

Mini-Games is a very fun section.  I can proudly state I have been victorious in every mini-game.  Some of the games are based off levels in Adventure more.  Wall-nut Bowling, for example, where you use the Wall-nuts to knock out the zombies.  Other games are more creative.  There is Portal Combat, that like the Valve game, uses color coded portals that the zombies and your plants can use.  My personal favorite is the Beghouled games.  I love anything that finds a way to incorporate Bejeweled!  Puzzle mode is pretty much like Mini-Games, but with a lot less variety.  Puzzle only consists of two different games, but each new challenge is progressively harder.  The final challenge for both is an unlimited mode that, as the name suggests, just keeps going until you fail.  One of the games involves breaking vases and is based off a level in Adventure.  I find it to be more troublesome than fun.  The other game, you play as the zombies.  I, Zombie is just as challenging, but without the frustration.  I think that may be because I can get a longer streak in I, Zombie.

Survival mode is likened to a shorter Adventure mode.  Instead of leading into the next zone, they are divided  by tasks: Day time, Night time, Roof top, etc.  You also don't have to start over at the beginning of each round.  In the easier levels you have five rounds, or flags.  When each round begins you get to choose your plants, but you keep any sun power you gained.  The plants you placed in the previous rounds also stay.  This requires a very different strategy than in Adventure mode, but I find it to be easier.

The Zen Garden is where I have been spending a lot of my time in the game.  Occasionally packages will drop from the zombies in the 4 other modes of the game.  These gifts hold plants for your Zen Garden.  If you take care of your plants, then they will reward you with money.  As far as I know, they can't die, so you don't have to worry about neglecting them.  The objective is to water, feed, bug spray, and play music whenever a plant demands it.  You know a plant is in need because a little speech bubble will pop up next to the plant with the icon for what it desires.  The snail you see above is there to help collect coins.  In fact, I have this running in the background while I type with the flowers spewing coins and the snail retrieving them.

The level you receive the gift usually influences the type of plant the sprout will become.  For instance, if you get the sprout in a night level, then the odds are pretty good it will be a fungus.  While pool levels will get you water plants.  You then have to save up for separate gardens for your Zen Garden and a wheel barrel to move to plants to the appropriate garden.  Unfortunately fungus will not grow outside of the night garden because they are too busy sleeping.   I am currently saving up for the aquatic garden.  The rate my plants are producing coins, I should have enough by the end of today.

Readers, do you have a game that causes you to loose all track of time?  Or a game you think everyone should play at least once?  I would love to hear your suggestions!

Monday, January 16, 2012

My Little Monday: Baby Cakes

What a loving couple. . . right?

The newest episode of My Little Pony is suppose to be about Pinkie Pie and responsibility.  Unfortunately, I, like many others, have been sidetracked by the Cakes and the genetics behind ponies.  Don't get me wrong, the story was amazing.  We all know Pinkie Pie loves to play with kids, but we had never had a look at what happens when playtime is over.  Apparently neither had Pinkie.  Mr. and Mrs. Cakes' new twins, Pound and Pumpkin, were Pinkie's first real test in responsibility.  That in itself is another matter I will get to in a moment.  As I said before, genetics stole the stage with the adult fan base this time.  I think that is because some of the fans want to give Mrs. Cake the benefit of the doubt.  I admit, my first reaction was that Mrs. Cake is a huge tramp.  If you haven't had the chance to see the new episode yet, then I probably should explain a bit more.  Or you could just stop reading now before you get to any real spoilers.

Denial isn't a river in Egypt.

The twins are not Earth ponies.  Pound Cake is a Pegasus and Pumpkin Cake is a Unicorn.  Being that both Mr. and Mrs. Cake are Earth ponies, I think I first conclusion is a fair assumption.  When one of the mane six asks confronts Mr. Cake on the oddity, he explains that he has Unicorn in his family line and Mrs. Cake has Pegasus.  First off, Mrs. Cake's Pegasus isn't even directly linked to her.  It involved twice removed cousin of a great aunt.  That leaves a lot of chance that the Pegasus gene is in no way connected to the possible tramp.  For the sake of argument, I will assume Mrs. Cake is a faithful and loving wife.  Then are the twins even possible?  Yes, and thanks to a Reddit user named npatchett I have an easy way to show you.
Mendelian genetics of Alicorns via Npatchett's Theory of Alicorns

I learned about Mendelian back in high school.  Nice thing about his work is that it comes with a nifty little spreadsheet to figure out how certain genes are passed.  Now the chart to the right is just a small portion of npatchett's work.  You can find the entire piece here.  The purpose of  npatchett's chart is to explain how Alicorns exist.  The Npatchett's Theory of Alicorns, as I have now named it, works off the assumption that Alicorns are Unicorn/Pegasus hybrids.  That has nothing to do with today's discussion, though it is a great read, but the chart works the same.  If we assume that the Unicorn gene and the Pegasus gene are both recessive, then it is fair to assume that the Cakes were both carriers of both recessive genes and had no idea.  The "PpUu" represents an Earth pony who is a carrier of both the Unicorn and Pegasus gene.  When two Earth ponies who carry both recessive genes mate, there is a 43.75% chance the offspring will be an Earth pony who also carries both recessive genes.  If you break the figures down more broadly, then there is a 68% chance the offspring will be an Earth pony of any type.  That makes it highly likely, based on Npatchett's Theory of Alicorns, that the Cakes would have absolutely no idea they were carriers of either.  Sorry for jumping to conclusions, Mrs. Cake.

So what does that mean for Pound Cake and Pumpkin Cake?  Well, there was a 12.5% chance they would turn out Pegasus and 12.5% chance of Unicorn.
But enough about genetics.  I would also like to point out that Pinkie Pie deserves a medal for surviving the twins.  In the beginning of the episode it was warned that baby Pegasi and Unicorns could be a handful as the came into their abilities.  Have you seen the Incredibles short JackJack Attack?  That, minus the bursting into flames, is what poor Pinkie Pie has to overcome.  I found myself hoping that the Cakes hadn't experienced these issues themselves, or it would be extremely cruel to throw someone in without warning.

Side note: Pumpkin Cake's favorite X-Men is Shadow Cat.  Just wait till she gets her own baby dragon.

 Little baby Pumpkin Cake has more than just random surges of magic.  Pinkie Pie had to deal with a baby Unicorn who can teleport, phase through objects, and levitation.  Add that to a constant need to eat every not edible object in sight and Pumpkin, alone, becomes quite the handful.  Then toss in Pound Cake who can fly and seems to has more strength than Pinkie Pie, and you have quite the recipe for disaster.  I really have to believe that the Cakes had no idea because of how reluctant they were to let Pinkie Pie babysit to begin with.  These two were so worried they left a list a mile long of the babysitter's responsibility.  Someone that concerned would have mentioned their child can phase.

"Sup?  Come here often?"
Worse was Twilight Sparkle's actions when Pinkie Pie really needed a friend.  When Twilight stops by to offer assistance, Pinkie confides that things are going horribly.  How does Twilight respond?  Instead of understanding, compassion, and consoling we get "Little Miss Superior".  She tells Pinkie Pie that she knows that babies can be such a handful and not everybody can handle the responsibility, so she figured Pinkie would need a hand.  Pinkie Pie, wanting to salvage her pride, takes offense to Twilight's condescension and rushes Twilight out the door.  The way Twilight Sparkles should have offered her help: "Having raised a baby dragon, I know first hand the difficulty of caring for just one child.  I can only imagine what two must be like.  That is why I rushed over to help as soon as I could.  Twins are more responsibility than most ponies can handle alone, and as your friend I wanted to let you know I am here if you need it."  It might seem like no big deal, but Twilight Sparkles really rubbed me the wrong way this time.

"You will just love my pony porridge, guys.  I got it from the same cook book as my cupcake recipe."

At the end of the day Pinkie Pie learns what real responsibility means and gains two new friends in the process.  She also gains a new job as Mr. and Mrs. Cakes' go-to babysitter.  I did notice how she failed to inform the Cakes about Pound and Pumpkin's antics.  I would love to be a fly on the wall when mom and dad find out just what the twins can do.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Fill in the Blank Friday

Courtesy of the little things we do
1.   The last thing I ate was   pretzel sticks     .

2.   The last song I listened to was   New Romance by Miles Fisher       .

3.  Using the letters in my name I can spell    "I bet healz"      .

4.  If I had to dress in one color for the rest of my life I would pick    blue or pink    .

5.  If you were to look in my bag right now you'd find   my wallet, phone, ipod, old receipts, gum, bush, 3 lips glosses, two lipsticks, my MAC compact    .

6.  When I finish filling in the blanks I'm going to    play WoW or nap.  Or Bejeweled  .

7.  My all time favorite song to dance to is   constantly changing.  Right now a toss between 1,000 Ships by Rachel Platten and a great Rarity vs. Ke$ha mix  .

Monday, January 9, 2012

My Little Monday: Family Appreciation Day

This week on My Little Pony we learned the importance of family.  The main theme of the episode was, of course, not to judge the actions based on appearance.  After all, there may be an involved and amazing story to explain it.  There was even an undertone about the importance of family tradition that was not so hidden inside Granny Smith's recipe for Zap Apple Jam.  I know we have all experienced family embarrassment at one time or another, and hopefully everyone has found there own way to come to terms with it. 

I love the choice to view the event of Family Appreciation Day through Apple Bloom's eyes.  Out of the Cutie Mark Crusaders, she tends to be the filly who is burdened by the weight of peer pressure.  The exchange between Apple Bloom and Diamond Tiara is a perfect example.  Little miss Apple Bloom started off the episode with such excitement.  She had been waiting for years to be old enough to help Granny Smith make the famous Zap Apple Jam.  Then enters Diamond Tiara to rain on her glorious bunny suit parade.  The conversation seemed more like a debate.  Diamond Tiara, the shrew that she is, would attack the actions of poor Granny Smith in an effort to shame her adversary.  Apple Bloom tried so hard to hold her own each time, but the need for social acceptance hindered her ability to hold her ground.  Naturally the story has a happy ending, but when does Friendship is Magic not have a happy ending?  The meat of the episode was a window into the painfully awkwardness of being bullied, and I think Apple Bloom handled the situation very well.  Yes, there were moments she was horribly embarrassed by Granny, but she went out of her way to try and solve the problem without hurting Granny Smith's feelings.  The inner turmoil of feeling ashamed because socially you have to while still loving your family, that is why Apple Bloom made the perfect viewer vessel.

I want to bring up a few other things I took away from the latest episode.  The first being that Filthy Rich is an awesome pony.  I honestly wonder how Diamond Tiara can be such an evil brat, maybe it comes from her mother?  Filthy Rich, or Rich as he prefers, is a loyal customer of Granny Smith and her Zap Apple Jam, but it goes further than that.  While his daughter is being a bitch to Apple Bloom, he is busy taking part in Granny's cooky process.  I love of Diamond seemed to be completely oblivious to her father whacking the pot Granny Smith was inside.  He knows where his family's wealth came from and hasn't turned his back on those who helped him reach his success.  My favorite part is at the end when Rich forces his daughter to participate with the bunny suit and water can ritual.  I am quite sure it was punishment for Diamond Tiara's very public insult of Granny at school.  I hope to see more of Filthy Rich in the coming episodes.

I don't have anything to lengthy to say about this picture.  More than anything I am amused that Granny Smith's father kissed Princess Celestia on the hoof. . . and that his wife's response was the glare of death.  That was probably my favorite part of the whole episode, and it had nothing to do with the plot.  I don't want to go on about this for too long, but look at her!  She looks like she is about to get up in Celestia's face and start shouting things like, "I know you aren't trying to get with my stallion!"  Can you imagine the trip to there new home? 
Granny's mom:  Honey, did you have to to thank the Princess like that?  It just seems to inappropriate.
Granny's dad: But sweetie, I was just caught up in the moment.  The helped us find such a wonderful place to settle down.
Granny's mom: You don't ever thank me like that.  I do a lot for this family.  Do you not think raising your daughter and traveling with you is wonderful, too?

Last, but not least, the colorful Zap Apples.  I will be honest, I was really hoping they would show Zap Apple cupcakes.  I think you know why.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Fill in the Blank Friday

Another Fill In The Blank Friday from the little things we do!!!
1.   One of my favorite things to do when I have free time is    waste time on Reddit.com or play World of Warcraft    .

2.   When I have free time I tend to    stare blankly at my computer screen while I try to convince myself to be productive; or dance around my apartment jamming to my ipod      .

If I had an entire day completely to myself I would    play some WoW, read a bit of Reddit, and dance like crazy to my music     .

4.  I would prefer to spend my free time (alone or with others...)   I prefer it alone more often than not.  Grow up in a household of 6 and you tend to love your alone time.  I do like to spend it with my husband as well. . . sometimes     .

5.  Most of my free time happens    on my days off work  .

6.  The best thing about free time is   the relaxation   .

7.  The next time I have free time I should probably   clean the kitchen, sort and hang up laundry, and dispose of the extra boxes from Christmas    but instead, I'll probably     be at lunch with the girls   .

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Trials of the Geeky Female

What is it like to be a geek and female?  No two girls share the exact same life experience, but there can be some similarities that arise.  I recently found my way to an article on The Mary Sue titled A Girl Walks Into a Comic Shop.  I'm not a regular reader of The Mary Sue because I have some differing opinions from what the blog was founded on, but that doesn't mean I never come across something of interest on the site.  As I said, similarities are bound to happen.  This particular blurb is about a video that was made by a group called The Nerdologues. The video depicts a girls walking into a comic shop and all the men freeze in fear and then hide as a response.  In the comments you see some men taking offense to the image portrayed in the video and women stating they have experienced it at some point in their lives.  Unfortunately, typical internet behavior ensues and any chance for a real conversation on the matter goes out the window.  (Yes, I am just as guilty.)

I have personally never had any "weird" experiences in a comic book shop, but that doesn't mean I haven't had them in other geek venues.  That isn't to say that the stereotype of the socially inept geek male isn't true, but he does exist.  What many guys may not realize is that sometimes these experiences can leave a more memorable impression that the normal guy who didn't act sexist, creepy, or awkward.  Ranting and raving at how unfair a video is on the internet will not help your case.  If you happen to frequent places where these kinds of behaviors are rare, then great.  But if you do see a guy acting inappropriate, step in and set him straight.

I know not all geeky guys are the "living in mom's basement" type.  I have many male friends who are perfectly normal.  My husband, Mike Awesome, is a perfect example.  If anything he goes out of his way to separate himself from the perceived stereotype, mostly because he has witnessed it first hand.  I can think of two incidents right off the bat as to why.  Mike Awesome used to frequent anime conventions when younger.  He knew one of the merchants, so he was usually working a booth in the dealers' room in exchange for a room, con badge, and sometimes a meal.  Now at this shop's booth you could buy some adult figurines, but because the cons were usually full of children, the exposed private areas would be covered with sticky notes.  The way Mike Awesome explains it, he saw a random guy notice one of the figures, but this man did not immediately approach.  The man was described to me as resembling the basement-dwelling stereotype.  He circled the booth, trying to act as those he is just passing by.  Attempting to be casual, he picked up other figures, pretending to examine them.  All the while he kept glancing to the figure with the sticky notes over her breasts.  Eventually he gains the courage to approach the doll in question.  Ever so delicately he lifted the paper with his finger, exposing bare toy nipple.  His face lit up with excitement and terror as he uttered, "Oh, my!"  At this point, Mike Awesome has become officially creeped out.  He decided to offer some customer service to the gentleman and ask if he wished to buy the object, to which the man fled.  That is the kind of man a girl deals with when creepy incidents occur.

At another convention, my husband was with a friend and noticed an incident involving the Troma Booth Babes.  Typically these girls are dressed rather skimpy, because they are meant to pander to the geek male crowd.  When this event occurred, my husband and his friend were walking past a group of Troma Girls wearing super short skirts.  Walking behind the girls was a guy with a video camera, trying very hard to get an up skirt shot.  The reaction of Mike Awesome's friend was to run in front of the guy and shove his face in the camera while shouting, "Hey, buddy!  What are ya filming so low to the ground, huh?!"  The girls turned around, while the camera man turned bright red and ran out of the convention.  Sadly, this kind of behavior isn't only directed at booth babes and scantily clad cosplayers.  Sometimes all it takes is to gain this kind of attention is to be female.

Having worked in a video game retail store before, I have experienced this first hand.  A girl working in a video game store?  Obviously men have no issue with geek girls, or you would have no business!  I wish.  You have worse problems with some of the ones that aren't afraid to talk to girls.  The store I worked at had multiple girls employed at the location at any given time, so there were more than a few occurrences of unwanted attention.  Working in a video game store involves talking to a customer, finding out what games they are into, and then helping them decide on a new game to purchase.  Unfortunately the costumer confuses this interaction with having a more personal interest in them.  On more than one occasion I hve been told I would make the perfect girlfriend by costumers, to which I would respond, "You think so?  My husband happens to agree!"  As long as it stops there I just consider it to be harmless flattery.  There have been a few times when it went a bit too far.  There was one guy, barely an adult really, who perked up when a girl I was training mentioned she liked RPGs.  The young man (who wasn't actually the customer, his friend was) proceeded to maneuver himself while I was helping his friend so that my trainee was blocked from me.  I get the customer to the counter and realized my trainee had been blocked from following, so I called her over to the counter to "show her how to ring up an item".  As she approached the counter I heard the gentleman say, "C'mon, please can't I have your number so we can play together?"  Really?  Every girl who worked there also had to deal with a guy or two who wouldn't take no for an answer, which was even more awkward for those of us who were married.  For example, I had a young man who was quite insistent that we hang out after my shift.  This was after I explained numerous times I had a lovely meal planned for my husband that I needed to prepare once I left work.

Being female, you are bound to experience this behavior at some point regardless of whether or not you are a part of the geek realm.  The problem stems more from the fact that these men are supposed to be our peers, not a random construction worker on the street.  When a girl poses in a picture of her favorite comic book hero, she shouldn't have to worry about people slamming her for not actually being a fan.  How do you know she doesn't read comics?  Because she is pretty?  So, if I like comics or video games, I must be ugly.  Either that or I am lying and just trying to pander to the geek male crowd for attention.  I hate that logic.  Being that I don't play FPS games I have been pretty sheltered from some of the horrors I hear other women go through.  I have had a few occurrences on Warcraft where I have been accused of not really a girl, or if I was I must be ugly.  Yes, that really does happen.  There was also an incident in the guild I am in when a member found out our Guild Leader was female.  I hope for his sake he was just a kid who didn't know better, but one never knows who is on the other side of the monitor.  Before the Guild Mistress could even speak up, several of the other members (who were men) pointed out that she was not the only female member and that being a girl was in no way derogatory.  There are more extreme cases out there, like the IAmA on Reddit.com by a girl who poses as a man on games because of past experiences.  It is a heartbreaking story about a girl who learned she will always be treated different, as well as why you don't give out personal information on-line.

It is bad enough when a girl is treated differently/inappropriately, but when the community shrugs it off  the behavior is worse.  Hiding your head in the sand accomplishes nothing.  Certain behaviors need to be improved; that goes for guys and girls.  Unwanted attention is just that: Unwanted.  Being treated like an oddity because of your gender is just as bad.  It all comes down to when you see a girl in a comic shop, then chances are she likes comics.  No different from you.  And when you accuse a stranger on-line of lying about being harassed, then you are just being a jerk.  Help solve the problem, don't make it worse.

I would like to thank my friend, Krista, for helping with the editing process.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Gaming Powered by Steam: Plants vs. Zombies

Over the holidays I finally broke down and created a Steam account.  I used to think Steam was only for the truly hardcore, like those who played Team Fortress 2.  My PC isn't powerful enough to play Skyrim with the graphic on high, at least I don't think it is, so why would I need Steam?  Turns out there is a lot more to it than I first realized.  I also now understand how Mike Awesome is able to blow so much money every Christmas.  I originally made an account with no intention on actually installing Steam.  I am not sure what my logic was on that one, I will be honest.  My dear friend over at Gaming at the End of Time has been talking about Steam so much that I figured to myself, "What the hell.  Why not!"  After I had everything set up, I told Mike Awesome about my impulse and he proceeded to insist I start checking the holiday sales.  I wasn't exactly thrilled about the idea for several reasons.  The first being I just splurged a bunch of money post Christmas on a new jacket.  (That needs to hurry up and ship, I might add.)  Second, I already have Skyrim on PlayStation 3.  The third reason is that I don't play shooters.  What changed my mind?  PopCap Games.  Their entire collection was under $50.  I didn't actually buy their entire collection, but I did get two of my favorites: Bejeweled 3 and Plants vs. Zombies: Game of the Year.  I also bought a few others, but they were not as exciting to me.

Singing Sunflowers image courtesy of Warcraft Pets.com
I have played a version of Plants vs. Zombies before.  They have a mini game complete with corresponding quest chain in World of Warcraft.  I probably would have never tried it, but if you complete the quest chain you get the Singing Sunflower companion pet, and we all know what a whore for WoW companion pets I am.  As it turns out, the game was pretty enjoyable.  The zombies are different in the Warcraft version, of course.  They use the various types of Scourge, which works very well in the given setting.

Naturally, I did not expect the game I played in Warcraft to be the same as the original.  At the same time, I seriously doubted the basic mechanics of the game were that different, if at all.  In the end I figured that $5 was not a big gamble, and it really paid off.  My first session playing after it finished installing lasted a few hours.  I was so into the game that I lost all track of time.

Plants vs. Zombies starts out simple enough.  Zombies are attacking your house and you must protect yourself withe the power of plants.  Each plant cost a certain number of sunlight points to plant.  There are two ways to collect the sunlight points, some fall from the sky (during the day) and some are manufactured by certain plants.  The first plant you get that can create sunlight is, of course, the Sunflower.  In the beginning you have Sunflowers and your basic Peashooter to fight against the most basic of zombies.  As the difficulty of the zombies progresses you can plants with added abilities, some of which are tailored to specific zombie attacks.  For example, the Blover's specialty is Balloon Zombies.  While there are other plants that remove fog, the Blover is the only plant that can take out a Balloon Zombie.  If there are none in a round, then you don't need a Blover in your inventory.

The levels all revolve around protecting your home, at least up to what I have played.  The front yard is fairly standard, while the back yard has a swimming pool.  That pool makes things a lot more difficult that you would imagine.  Only certain plants can be placed directly in water, while the vast majority require a Lily Pad placed down first.  That means allotting an extra 25 sun points for every plant needed in the pool.  I know it doesn't sound like a lot, but if you don't plan correctly you will easily lose the game.  Luckily, the lawnmowers give you one freebie per lane.  If a Zombie reaches the mower, it will activate taking out all Zombies in that lane. If they break through the same row again, then it is game over.

Some of the attacks occur at night, which is a whole different battle.  There are a set of shroom based plants that only work during night battles, including the Sun-shroom which, as the name suggests, produces the much needed sun points.  Unfortunately, being that the sun is not out at night, the only way to get sun points is through your foliage.  There is a Puff-shroom that costs no sun, but it is short range and does very little damage.  Personally, I find these levels to be frustrating at times because of all the extra obstacles you face.  I understand the lack of sun, but when the fog rolls in and covers up to half the board I start to feel a little discouraged.

Crazy Dave, though a bit crazy, is a very helpful friend.   He often shows up with a bit of advice, and the occasional mini game.  My favorite is the Wall-nut Bowling.  Crazy Dave is also in charge of the shop in the game.  At first he offers to sell you an extra slot here and there.  Once you find his cars keys, he is open for business with extra plants and upgrades he keeps in his trunk.  I find him to be an amusing one dimensional character, but I am not completely  sure why the Zombies are not after him.

Over all, I find this game to be a great joy.  It is very humorous and full of color.  Plants vs. Zombies is simple, but by no means easy.  There are four modes total- Adventure, Mini-Games, Puzzle, and Survival.  You unlock the latter 3 by playing through Adventure mode.  If you enjoy casual games at all, then I encourage you to pick up a copy.  (Or buy it off Steam!)  And if you want to add me as a friend on Steam, my username is Silverpixiefly. . . naturally.

Monday, January 2, 2012

My Little Monday: Doctor Whooves

Being that we are at the beginning of a new year, I thought it appropriate to discuss a pony who is all about time and space.  Doctor Whooves is one of my favorite background ponies turned star of fan projects.  Yes, I am a big Who fan and that probably has something to do with it.  Rumor has it that even the crew that works on Friendship is Magic have adopted the nickname, which is why you see different incarnations based on the different Doctors.  Here are some of my more favorite fan works about the Doctor who resides in Ponyville.

By mlpAzureGlow
By egophiliac
Roseluck and Doctor Whooves by JennaHuskie