Since last year, the Duck has returned to the piano with a renewed determination. In that time, I have taught myself six songs, all of which I recorded and uploaded to our Virtual Bastion Youtube channel. Those videos have also been posted on my blog and listed below, for added convenience and exposure. Continue reading Listmas 2018: Piano Songs (Past and Future)
The Duck has recorded another song on the piano, this time a tune quite befitting this most spooky of holidays, the church music from Banjo-Kazooie’s Mad Monster Mansion! Though I am uncertain what the monsters are mad about, I do know that this song was really fun to play, even if the faster part at the end took quite a bit of practice to get right. It is also totally truthful and not fanciful storytelling that Motzand himself taught it to me, and you can all believe this without question because I am a very honest and trustworthy Duck who has never given anyone any reason to doubt me…. Continue reading Spoopy Music: Mad Monster Mansion
Fans of the Banjo-Kazooie series have long-awaited a true sequel since Banjo-Tooie’s release on the Nintendo 64 in 2000. When Yooka-Laylee was finally announced as a spiritual successor to the much-beloved pair of platformers, I’m sure every Banjo-Kazooie fan jumped for joy. Many people, like myself, hoped that Yooka-Laylee would harken in a new era of great platformers in the style of those we had grown up with during the late 90’s. Now that I have completed the game, what is my verdict?
Honestly, I don’t think we’re quite there yet. Nevertheless, it’s a big, big step in the right direction. Continue reading Yooka-Laylee: A Game with Good Intentions
I am slowly making my way through the 30 days of video game topics I started…probably a few years ago, and today we have finally reached…number 12. I’m not even halfway done yet! Yikes! Well, this topic involves a game everyone should play, and I had to put careful consideration into which one I would pick. Not only do I have a lot of great games that I would definitely recommend to others, but I wanted to make sure my choice wouldn’t also be used in other 30-day topics in the future. After careful consideration, I ended up going with a game that is very special to me, Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy. Continue reading Day 12: A Game Everyone Should Play
I used to be quite the “Pokemon” fan. I have since, for whatever reason, outgrown my interest in the series, but it used to be such a big thing for me and has gone on to make a rather large, though somewhat indirect, impact on my life, that I needed to write a post about it. “Pokemon”, if you’re not familiar with it, is a series that manifests itself in many forms, including cartoons, card games, video games, etc., involving Pokemon trainers that catch creatures called Pokemon, which they use to fight in battles and such. It’s a rather simple concept, really, but addicting (oh, the countless hours I spent collecting Pokemon and leveling them up in “Pokemon Silver”). I hear that there are now more than 500 kinds of Pokemon, which I find a bit crazy at this point, but okay. (For me, the original 151 will always be THE Pokemon.)
The series first caught my eye quite a while ago, when I was rather young. I saw Pikachu, the most famous Pokemon of all, in a store, and I thought it was quite cute, and when I brought it up to a friend at school, he asked me if I was a fan of the series. Well, to be honest, I had actually not even heard of it yet. As I said, this Pikachu thing was pretty cute, but I didn’t know what it was. It was at this time that my friend enlightened me, and I became an instant fan. I found the anime on TV, and I made it my goal to learn the names of all 151 Pokemon (yes, that’s all there were back then). I watched the show and found sites on the Internet (my first major expedition into the mysterious terrain of the world wide web), and I made a list of each new Pokemon I found. In a way, like Pokemon trainer Ash Ketchum, I wanted to collect all the Pokemon…even if only in list form. Continue reading How Pokemon Made Me a Gamer
If you have ever played the original “Banjo-Kazooie” games, you know they were quite a treat to play. This series starred, as you can easily guess, two characters named Banjo and Kazooie, a delightful bear and bird team that worked together to accomplish all kinds of things, from collecting Jiggies and notes, to saving Jinjos, and defeating enemies, including the evil, rhyming witch Gruntilda that serves as the villain of the series. The main games of the series, “Banjo-Kazooie” and “Banjo-Tooie”, were a really great pair of games for the Nintendo 64. Even though they came out over ten years ago, I have still not grown bored of them, and I still count them as some of the top games ever made. But, as is far too common, series either end or turn bad. In the case of “B-K”, I wish it had ended. I really do. Because many years after the first two games were released, Rareware created another game on the XBox 360, a game that will forever be known in my mind as disappointment in tangible form. “Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts”.
First, let me just say that this game, well, it’s not…it’s not a bad game, exactly. It can be fun. It is different. It can certainly be challenging. But, it is a terrible, terrible “Banjo-Kazooie” game. I mean it. Terrible, with a scoop of spiders on top. T-E-R-ribble. I won’t even mention the fact that the graphics, while good, are of a style that make our heroes look rather hideous, and why is Mumbo wearing overalls…and working as a mechanic, of all things?! I won’t even mention that there are barely any worlds now, and they are not very interesting. Or that the music doesn’t stand out to me whatsoever anymore. What I will mention is that this game has no soul. It’s like our delightful series found itself face-to-face with a Dementor from “Harry Potter” one day and did not make it away unscathed. This game is soulless, and that is why, even though it can be fun, it is a dirty, rotten, no good, “Banjo-Kazooie” game.
For one thing, the game in no way even resembles previous games of the series. The first two involved the teamwork of Banjo and Kazooie, where Kazooie could attack with her beak and shoot eggs, fly, and run up steep hills with her hardcore talons, while Banjo, I must admit, is not good for much else but toting Kazooie around and grabbing onto ledges. And not being as mean. But still. Now both characters are actually pretty useless. Kazooie carries around this magic wrench that can pick up stuff, and Banjo drives. They retain none of their previous skills whatsoever, except for walking. And even that they don’t need, as the game revolves entirely around vehicles, which also has no relation to the series. What, because Banjo got turned into a sentient van once, the series is all about cars now? I think not.
So the entire game, every bit of it, involves talking to a bunch of soulless versions of characters from the original two games, but devoid of any humor or personality like they used to have, and completing challenges with vehicles. While the vehicle idea can be fun, as you can not only use quite a variety, like cars, planes, boats, helicopters, which can jump and shoot and carry things, but you can also pretty much build anything you like, as well. This can be a fun concept, and I did like building some crazy vehicles and finding creative ways to win challenges. It just has no place in a “Banjo-Kazooie” game. They should have created a new series in which to use this idea. I wouldn’t have bought it, but there was no need to sacrifice our poor bear and bird. It doesn’t feel like a “Banjo-Kazooie” game in the slightest, when Grunty is driving all over the place, while I’m chasing her down with a tank. You can include music from the original games and have characters that look, on the outside, like familiar characters, but it is not a “Banjo-Kazooie” game. It just isn’t.
So I can’t say I hated every minute of this game. I did have fun, while at the same time being disappointed time and time again as characters I used to like demonstrated that all their charm and personality was indeed sucked from them. This game is just a soulless imposter, parading about with “Banjo-Kazooie” in the title. It’s a real shame, not so much that such a bad “B-K” game was made, but that this great series has this stain on its reputation now. “Still don’t like the vehicle-based gameplay?” asks LOG during a loading screen. The fact that you even had to ask, Rareware, means you know full well that fans wouldn’t be happy with the changes, so either make us an actually good “B-K” game or never make one again. I can’t stand to look at zombified “B-K” characters ever again.
Ducks and Bolts
“Banjo-Kazooie” and “Donkey Kong 64” are two games I really enjoy for the N64, and My Two Caps discusses the good and bad aspects of both. An interesting read.
Anyone ever heard of the 100 theme challenge? It can be for writing or art (maybe anything, really), and there are 100 words or phrases that you use for inspiration. I did it for art a little over two years ago, before I started making pictures on Photoshop. It was fun, but I did all fan art and started to hurry through it. Very silly thing to do. But, if done properly, methinks it could really help someone with creative ideas. Open some metaphorical doors in the mind.
Perhaps I should try it again. I was considering using it to inspire some little stories, and maybe those stories could turn into bigger things. Maybe it’ll even help with the novel I currently have occasionally simmering in my mind. Don’t know yet, but I am at least pretty sure this challenge can help me come up with ideas I might never have thought of otherwise. Hooray for inspiration!
Anyway, I don’t really like most of the pictures I did, but there were a few decent things that came from the challenge:
For #8. Innocence, I drew Meta Knight threatening Kirby, while clueless Kirby offers him a flower. Cute, I guess.
For #12. Insanity, I drew ZiM in his old man costume screaming at the sight of the Madness Dog.
For #27. Foreign, I drew ZiM on the street holding a sign that says, “I sure am a foreign kid who loves Earth!” (It would make sense if you saw the show. Because ZiM’s an alien… Never mind.)
And #64. Mutitasking, ZiM is stealing a classmate’s brain while taking a test. (Again, you have to see the show. Specifically the episode where he steals classmates’ organs. “Dark Harvest”, I think.)
Wow, a lot of Invader ZiM stuff. Mostly, there was Invader ZiM, Zelda, Donkey Kong, Kirby, Rayman, Banjo-Kazooie, and Kingdom Hearts. Like I said, all fan art. And they sound really lame when I explain them. I really need to do better next time, if there is a next time. …I wonder if someone could use the themes for creative snacks. It’s the #58. Kick in the Head snack! Now it’s the #97. Safety First snack!
The Duck Times 100
I’ve worked sporadically (that’s right, I said sporadically) on drawing my whole life, but never as much as I do now. I remember it as if it was a while ago. Apparently I even drew things when I was very young, but what I’ve seen from my babyhood are horrific, nightmarish things. What was going through my pea-sized mind? Who knows, because I don’t remember that far back.
The earliest I do remember right now was drawing all these silly Donkey Kong and Banjo-Kazooie characters because it’s what I liked at the time (and still do) and because I saw fan art of the characters on the Internet. I wanted to draw things like the fan art, but I eventually gave up when they kept turning out unsatisfactory. What sort of quality can you expect from a child, but I had high expectations. And so I gave up. I know, silly thing to do, and I wish I hadn’t.
But anyway, that’s not the end to my un-inspirational tale. No, as I said before, I realized, gosh, golly oh crap (forgive my swearing), but I really wanted to learn how to draw. Like, really. So, like I mentioned before, I started just copying pictures. I copied concept art and some screenshots from games, mainly from Jak and Daxter and Kingdom Hearts. It didn’t start off great, but I improved. A lot. My copies were becoming near perfect to the originals. And I tried my hand at colored pencils, too. Started looking rather good after a bit of practice. I was quite proud of myself.
So one day, a few months shy of four years ago, I decided enough copying! I wanted to draw my own things! I started drawing humans (Kingdom Hearts characters, mostly) sometimes in my notebook. Terrible things. But, when I started drawing in my new little sketch pad, it felt official, so I started drawing more and more often. The drawings still weren’t good yet, but I finally improved as far as I could for the time being and went on to draw a whole variety of things. And then about a year and a half ago, I realized once again I wasn’t getting anywhere anymore, so I started making pictures to draw on Photoshop. I started sketching with an actual purpose in mind. And now, I can finally draw decent people, and I’m working on getting better. The hard work certainly paid off, and I just recently figured out how to draw a whole bunch more expressions, too.
So I guess it’s never too late to start something you care about. And I got this photo reference book recently, so watch out world! The duck doesn’t need to do poses in front of the mirror much anymore! Some of those poses were hard to hold. And draw at the same time. Ow!
Oh, and I’m on sketch pad #12 now. In case you were wondering. And I added a picture to the top today. It’s the Ducky! Yay!
The Duck that Draws, Indeed