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)
Ever since playing Undertale, the Duck has been inspired to return to several abandoned hobbies, piano and drawing. As far as the former goes, the first song I decided to learn was It’s Raining Somewhere Else. Fortunately, there are some very useful tutorials out there on Youtube. The one I used is below: Continue reading Piano Time: It’s Raining Somewhere Else and Organization XIII
I am a historically unlucky person. This is not a complaint, per say, but a simple fact. I regret that this is so, but alas, it is so very so. I first became aware of the inexplicable animosity Lady Luck feels for me when I was a duckling, and I entered a simple elementary school-wide contest. There were various baskets filled with goodies, and we simply needed to place our tickets on the baskets we wanted most, and the ensuing drawing would determine the winners. Based on the number of baskets, there should have been dozens of winners, if I recall correctly. The fact that I didn’t win anything was not the baffling part. What was, mind you, was the strange fact that nearly every one of my friends was the proud winner of something. Aargh, my much younger self had said. No, I was not a pirate back then, but aargh was my unhappy response, nonetheless.
As upset as I was on that sad day back during my ducklinghood, the situation remains now an amusing conundrum more than anything. Alas, I could be struck by lightning on a clear and cloudless day, if fate willed it! In fact, I once fell down…probably one of the only times in my life that I fell flat on my life, more or less, and what was there to break my fall? Why, a cactus. Yes, a cactus. I had to pull about half a dozen long, thick needles from my hand, and the ring finger of my left hand, which had been pierced in the joint, remained paralyzed for about a month afterward. At the time of my unfortunate tumble, I tried to soothe my wound with a bit of water, and do you know what happened next? I got chased by a bee. No joke. I think it was a thirsty bee, but either way, I did not appreciate its company in that moment. Continue reading Who Will Win the Kingdom Hearts Sweepstakes?
The newest of the 30-day video game topics is my current or most recent video game-themed wallpaper. As much as I would like to have actual video game wallpaper, I’m assuming they must mean my computer’s desktop. And due to my obvious level of obsession with all things gaming, it should come as no surprise to anyone that I do indeed have a video game desktop.
I actually went through many different images for my desktop in the semi-distant past. I…don’t remember most of them, but I do recall having a screenshot of the secret ending of Donkey Kong Country 2, where the Kongs are gazing at the sunset, along with a Jak 2 screensaver. That’s right, there was a Jak 2 screensaver, which I earned by completing this odd, little game on the game’s official web site. It had Jak sitting in jail, looking bored, while bugs crawled around and the sky outside would change depending on the time of day. Kind of…weird, to say the last. Continue reading Day 14: Current (or Most Recent) Gaming Wallpaper
Some time ago, I took a break from the long-awaited Kingdom Hearts 2 Final Mix, which wasn’t released in my part of the globe until about a decade after its release in Japan. While I enjoyed the game immensely, I never could come up with a good topic in order to write about it, so I put off a post for the game. You see, I beat the game, but I still had more extras to complete, and I was growing a bit tired of this good, but large, adventure. I ended up quitting for a time to play Ni no Kuni, and then Portal 1 and 2, and then Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns…. So, in the end, I didn’t end up returning to this game as soon as I planned. And so I decided I may as well at least get the music post over and done with. What a good attitude I have. And so I share with you all my top five songs from Kingdom Hearts 2 (with only one exclusively from Final Mix). Continue reading Top Songs from KH2.5
Today’s topic for the most exciting 100 theme challenge is #13, misfortune, and I suppose that makes sense, with it being #13 and all. Hmm, well, what do I have to say about misfortune? It’s certainly unfortunate, that much is for sure. Um, and it’s…bad…? Well, I’m certainly not going to get into some negative post about misfortune in my life because who wants to hear about that? And I also don’t mean, oh, woe is me, no one cares about my problems anyway. Now I’m starting to ramble….
You know what came to mind as I began thinking about this topic? Why is the number 13 supposed to be unfortunate? I hear they often don’t even have a 13th floor in some buildings as a result of this superstition, but who are they fooling? We all know the 14th floor really is the 13th. This is no secret. It certainly made no difference in Stephen King’s story about the evil room 1408. Even the room wasn’t fooled, and it’s an inanimate object. Or, to be more accurate, cube-ish shaped spaces of air contained by walls. And if walls could talk, they’d say, “Um, is it just me, or did the people who built this hotel not know how to count?” Don’t worry, sentient walls, we all noticed. Continue reading 100 Theme Blog Challenge No. 13: Misfortune
“Kingdom Hearts” is a most fantastic game, with a wonderful story and great characters and lots of great music, as well, and so I shall be sharing with you all my top ten favorite songs from this game. By the way, to make things more fair and because I have a habit of making unnecessary rules for things that don’t really matter, I will only be including songs original to this game (to my knowledge, at least), not songs from Disney movies or “One-Winged Angel”. Otherwise, “One-Winged Angel” and probably “This is Halloween” would be in here, too. The former because it’s just too awesome and the latter probably just because I love “The Nightmare Before Christmas”.
10. “Merlin’s Magical House” is quite a fun song that plays in Merlin’s house (who would have guessed?) in Traverse Town. It’s so cute and fun! I just love it!
9. “End of the World” is the final level of the game, the place housing the remains of all the worlds taken by the Heartless. This song is slow and depressing and makes one feel lonely and empty, very fitting for such a place.
8. “Monstro” plays inside, well, Monstro the whale. It is a fun song to listen to while you wander around in this giant whale’s tummy.
7. Captain Hook’s Pirate Ship has some great music when you fight enemies. I always thought it was quite a fun song. And it sounds…pirate-y to me. Yeah. Pirate-y.
6. “Night of Fate” mainly plays when the Heartless come to Destiny Islands. I love this song. It just really gives a certain feel to this area, as Sora attempts to fight off an endless amount of Heartless overtaking his world. The song speaks of hopelessness and one’s fruitless attempt to save their world when there is no hope of doing so.
5. “Dearly Beloved” plays during the title screen and other places, too, I believe. It’s just a simple and slow, pretty song that’s played on the piano. When I hear it, I instantly think “Kingdom Hearts”! Just try not to! You can’t!
4. I very much enjoy “Fragments of Sorrow” (thanks, PurpleArmadillo, for telling me the name of this song), as well, the music that plays in the End of the World during battles. It is just so epic, and I love the vocals, especially at 0:43. It’s pretty darn dramatic battle music, and it fits well for the final level of the game. It makes you feel like you’re heading towards something really important, like the fate of all worlds rests on you and your actions, and, you know what, it does.
3. “Traverse Town” is one of the first locations of the game, and I find the music here to be very soothing and peaceful as you wander around this town at night. When I played this game for the very first time, I remember wandering around this place, with this music playing, and just thinking I couldn’t believe I was really playing this amazing game. (I didn’t need to be very far into the game to know it would be awesome.) I still get the same feeling now.
2. “Hollow Bastion” is played in the enormous castle near the end of the game in a world bearing the same name. I always loved this song, and I think it gives the place a rather ancient, mysterious feel to it.
1. “Simple and Clean” is this game’s theme, sung by Utada Hikaru. It is no doubt the best song of the game. I still remember when I first heard this song during a commercial, and it just made me want the game so very much. (I must admit, though, I have no idea how the words relate to the game. At all.)
Simple and Duck
“Kingdom Hearts” is one of my favorite games ever. Seriously. I love it. And I love it so much, it’s not even easy for me to write a post about it. There’s just too much I can rant on. The story is amazing, complex, and beautiful. The characters are wonderful. And the way they combine “Final Fantasy”, Disney, and original characters and locations is just… I don’t know how they do it. It just works. Disney and “Final Fantasy” don’t really seem like they’d fit, but Square managed to combine it all in a way that is just perfect, in a way I think few others could pull off. In short, I adore this game and the series as a whole, but there’s strangely not a whole lot I can say.
The game is simply perfect, or nearly as close to perfect as a game can get, and with the long-awaited “Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix” finally being released for the first time outside of Japan, I was so excited to play this beloved game again and finally get to see the extras I had been missing out on for so long. And so when I was thinking about what to write for this post, I thought this game needed something extra special to remember my time with it. Plus, if you haven’t played this game yet, I have no more to say except for, oh my gosh, what are you waiting for, go play it! And if you have already played it, you don’t need to hear me ranting about what you already know. So for this post, I will simply be discussing my experience with the most amazing “Final Mix”.
Even though I had already played this game twice before the “Final Mix” version was released in my part of the world, I had such a great experience playing this enhanced version of the game. Things started out rough at first, as there is this secret battle with someone called Unknown (I know it’s you, Xemnas…) that I wanted so badly to get to fight. I thought to myself, the easiest way to unlock this battle would surely be to play the game in Proud Mode, as there are fewer requirements than in Normal Mode. After all, the only time I got the secret ending of “Kingdom Hearts 2” was when I beat it on Proud Mode, because I just could not get 100% in the game on the regular difficulty. Surely the same method will work here, right? Wrong. Proud Mode turned out to be much more absurd than I expected, and when I was being completely annihilated in Traverse Town (Traverse Town! On your first visit!), I decided I’d never even get through the game like this, and so I started over in normal mode.
Things went much more smoothly this time, and I decided that I was going to try my hardest to fulfill the requirements for fighting Xemnas (sorry, Unknown…), but if I didn’t, I didn’t. At least, I’d be able to beat the game and see all the other secrets that “Final Mix” had to offer. So as I played the game, I worked to collect all the Dalmatians (in the end, I found all of them on my own except for the 70-72 set), found all trinities, and I was surprised to find that there were actually bosses that appeared in the original version of the game that were new to me, not to mention enemies that really were exclusive to this version. I guess I wasn’t very observant last time. And not being entirely certain of what exactly was needed to fight Xemnas/Unknown, and for the pure fun of it, once I got to the final location of the game, I went back and got to work getting everything I had missed.
After lots of leveling up, I kicked butt in Olympus Coliseum (the regular matches, where you have to fight a zillion things), but Sephiroth remained too difficult for now. I went back and defeated Kurt Zisa in the desert and beat the Ice Titan once I figured out how to actually hit him. It took a long time to get strong enough to beat the most terrifying Phantom, but I finally beat that thing, as well. (I loved that battle, though. I love fighting scary things. And I was down to almost no magic, with all my Ethers used up, when I finally dealt the finishing blow. How relieved I was.)
And all the while I worked on collecting items I needed for item synthesis (which I called my “Kingdom Hearts” grocery list) so that I could eventually obtain the Ultima Weapon, at the same time getting stronger and stronger so it would be easier to beat the bosses I couldn’t…beat. I had trials and tribulations sneaking around, trying to take out Sniperwilds before they spotted me, and I had quite a frustrating time attempting to get Mystery Goo from those darn White Mushrooms (they’re adorable, but sometimes I just wish they’d use their words), and I tried countless times in Deep Jungle to get the stupid Pink Agaricus to just give me a Serenity Power already! Eventually, I got the hang of all this and the Ultima Weapon was mine (I didn’t bother with Donald or Goofy’s better weapons, as I was so sick at that point of trying to get rare enemies to appear so I could get the items needed).
Even at this point, however, defeating Sephiroth seemed impossible, as I simply could not stop his Heartless Angel attack (it reduces your MP to 0 and your HP to 1, and then he attacks you before you can say “time out!”). I thought I’d perhaps fight random enemies a little longer and get Sora to level 100 to see if that would do it (even if that wouldn’t prevent Sephiroth’s most horrible attack, but hey, I had to try something). But first, just in case I can’t beat him, why not go and see if the battle with Xemnas is unlocked yet. To my surprise, it was (apparently defeating Sephiroth is not required to fight Xemnas, even though I heard it was), and you have no idea how excited I was to find that today was the day I was waiting for, when I could finally try that secret battle I had been working so hard for. Oh, glorious day!
After several tries, Xemnas was defeated during a battle where I just went berserk on him in an effort to beat him as quickly as I could, with the hopes that this would allow me to face his worst attack as few times as possible (it drains your HP and doesn’t allow you to heal until you press the right button at the right time, and it makes me rather sad, not to mention trying to avoid him while staring at the bottom left corner of the screen and waiting for the correct command to appear is not easy). Overjoyed, I then went ahead and got Sora to level 100, and I went to face Sephiroth again…and you know what? I beat him. Twice. (I mean, it would be pretty pathetic if I couldn’t beat him even at level 100, and a much better gamer would have done it much earlier, but hey, I was proud anyway!) Another bout of being a berserk lunatic in battle won the day against this one-winged monster, and my journal was complete.
And not about to waste time with the Gummi Ship missions (I hated the Gummi Ship levels; they were the only part of this masterpiece that was cheaply made) and lacking the will to try and collect rare items ever, ever again, I was as done as I was ever going to be. Not only did I get to see this version of “Kingdom Hearts”, new cut scenes and enemies and all, but this was also the first time I actually got the full experience, defeating all the bosses and finding all the lost puppies and the trinities and, yes, even tracking down items that made me tear my feathers out in wrath when an enemy I needed wouldn’t appear or that stupid Pink Agaricus refused to drop a Serenity Power yet again! It was time to beat the game, and I did, in a most-unsatisfying final battle, since it was no challenge because I was so darn strong at that point.
I love this game, even more now than I ever had before. This was my third time through, but I realized this time that I had never really played this game before, not really, as there was so much I was missing originally. There is so much more to experience than just the game’s main story. I left so much unfinished my first two times, and this was the first time I actually stuck it out and completed nearly everything I could no matter how tough it got. It was a whole new experience, and I guess you can say I kind of bonded with this game in a way I never had before. I had been through so much in this game. And so that’s why I wanted to share my experiences with this game with you, because it is not often you discover a masterpiece like this after having already played it.
It is now day 5 (or topic 5, as I am way beyond day 5) of my 30 day video game posts, which focuses on a game character I think I am most like (or wish I was), though this may or may not already be pretty clear from the title. This is a rather hard one. There are a lot of characters out there, and there are some I share similarities with and some I don’t. But, I am really not sure who I am most like, and it’s a strangely embarrassing question, I think. I’d sound like a weirdo if I said, I don’t know, I was like Samus. What a conceited jerk I’d seem like to everyone. I think I’m similar to the super awesome bounty hunter from the “Metroid” series? Yeah, right. No one compares to Samus because she is awesome. Well, no, I wouldn’t choose her anyway, as I am nothing like Samus. Perhaps that counts as a character I wish I was like, but still. That’s not a good topic, either, as there are a lot of characters I wish I was like. I wish I was cool and brave like Samus. I wish I was as sweet and kind as Sora from “Kingdom Hearts”. I mean, who doesn’t have a dozen characters they wish they were like?
So that brings me back to which character I think I’m most like. Well, none of the heroes, that’s for sure. None of the villains, either, fortunately. I’m neither heroic nor villainous. So I guess I’d have to go with a minor character. After thinking long and hard, for much longer and much harder than I really should have been, I decided on one particular character I may share the most similarities with. This character would be the not-so-well-known Vin from “Jak II”.
You may remember the post I wrote on this guy. Vin is this nervous, nerdy character that manages the Power Station of Haven City. While I certainly don’t do anything important like he does, I believe our personalities have some unfortunate similarities. For one thing, I am super nervous like Vin is. I’m sick to my stomach right now. Why? I don’t know. Maybe because there are a million things out there to be sick to your stomach about. Where to begin? I may not fear Metal Heads as Vin does (if they existed, I’m sure I would), but I do fear all manner of illnesses, clowns, natural disasters, bears, crime, bear-clown hybrids, and that fateful day I just know is coming when a large spider is going to end up in my house or the smoke detector will go off due to low batteries, and I will not currently possess the necessary skills to stop it. I also dread the day my computer finally dies. Or gets so dang old, it simply isn’t compatible with anything anymore. Heck, I was nervous enough when Youtube was acting up on my computer (I love Youtube).
I am also paranoid. While Vin thinks everyone, including Baron Praxis, is out to get him, I have suspected others were out to get me, too. There were multiple occasions where I was alone with someone, and the thought suddenly went through my head that, if they decided to kill me, what would I do? How would I fight back? And if I failed, would anyone ever find my body? (Well, I’m not going into the middle of nowhere with people, but a duck body may be pretty easy to hide due to our small and compact size, and my corpse may spend years in the ventilation ducts in the ceiling, which is surprisingly fitting, as the word ducts sounds like ducks.) I started to panic inside, thinking this is a prime murder location. If I was a murderer, surely I would murder myself here. If they wanted to do it here, they would probably succeed. Oh, if I just hadn’t made the decision to go here with them, I would have lived a long and happy life. Or I worry that when we’re driving somewhere, someone is going to take a detour to drive me out into the middle of nowhere and butcher me rather than continue on to our planned destination (I’ll drive to the comicon alone next time, thank you very much!). That’s the reason why I do the driving. Plus, people drive like maniacs, with their lane-changing and their lack of turn signals. You always know when I’m going to change lanes. Always. No surprises driving behind this duck. You’ll just be stuck driving the speed limit. Sorry.
Also, it is not part of the game itself, but “Jak 3” has these goofy interviews with the characters, and while it is not canon, the characters are still, well, in-character. Anyway, in this interview, Vin is also bothered by “people getting too close” and germs, which is why he doesn’t shake hands. I don’t like people getting near me, either. I don’t hug. I also don’t see the appeal of kissing (get your face away from my face; I’m not food!) or holding hands (I don’t want to touch your clammy mitts, either!). I also usually don’t like people sitting next to me. I know I’m on a full-sized couch, but sit on the other couch. My bubble of solitude needs a good ten-foot radius. I also don’t like shaking hands. It’s filthy. We’re going to have an epidemic that will spread like wildfire because of this bizarre ritual to grasp the hands of everyone you meet. You don’t know what disease they have. If they have leprosy or some other affliction of the epidermis. If they wiped their nose or coughed or sneezed on their hand. You don’t know if they washed their hands or not after they went to the bathroom. You can’t know these things, and it would be rude to ask, and yet you are expected to touch other people and get their germs on you. Why? I say we do away with the whole thing.
So there you have it. I share the unappealing characteristics of a guy described as “pathetic” and “a bit crazy” by other characters in the game. Which are words possibly bouncing around the minds of my readers right now. …Hey, you guys aren’t, perchance, considering to murder me, are you? Oh, what’s wrong with me, now you know I’m on to you, which will only make my assailants all the more sneaky. Must lock doors and keep Keyblade close by… Not that I don’t always do that anyway…
The Duck is Keeping a Close Eye on You….
Today’s 100 theme challenge is number 8, innocence. Innocence makes me think of many things, like not guilty. Like being in court, and you are accused of doing something, but you’re innocent, for crying out loud, innocent! I also think of, well, let me explain.
You see, my favorite video games are those that don’t have any swearing or other such naughty things. The innocent games. This can apply to books and movies, too, for you non-gamers out there. Just replace “games” with whichever word you like, and it all means the same thing. The innocent stories. That doesn’t mean nothing bad happens. In fact, my favorite stories are the ones that are dark and deep and emotional. They are not necessarily sickly sweet and childish, with a shallow, meaningless plot. Nothing about innocence means a story, whether it be in a game or movie or book, has to be boring. There is just no one saying “friggin’ this” and “friggin’ that” (or the worse version) or scenes of people doing, well, certain things people do, which is already disturbing enough without the fact that it doesn’t further the plot whatsoever. (And you can play classical music all you want during such scenes and do fancy camera angles, it doesn’t make it better.)
And hey, some people like the movies or games or whatever that are more nitty gritty and more realistic. That’s part of why I think M-rated games are so popular. Not everyone wants to play cute things like “Kirby” and “Mario” all the time. But, for me, I just can’t get into those kinds of stories as much as the innocent ones. Yeah, it may be less realistic, when you have some evil psycho saying “gosh” when they really should be swearing like the people in “The Sopranos”, but I get attached to those innocent stories, the innocent games in particular. Video games are a nice way to escape from reality (any story is, really), so it can be a pleasant experience to play a game that has an innocence not found in the real world. Sometimes it is nice to have not only heroes, but villains, that aren’t quite as scummy as the people in the real world. The world can be an ugly place, and that is something I want to escape from. (Otherwise, I’ll just watch the news or visit my local high school.)
It is amazing, too, how innocent things often are so popular. When TV shows like “The Sopranos” and movies like “Saw” are seen by so many people, you wonder if all people want to see is the nastier side of human nature. But, what about immensely popular video games like “Kingdom Hearts”? Not a swear word or naughty innuendo anywhere. No blood. No nudity. Innocent. This series even stars Disney characters as a major part of its cast. This would seem like it would make the series childish and not appeal so much to adults, but it has a deep, complex, and emotional story that people of all ages love. (It’s also the number one game in Fanfiction.net, if that tells you anything. In your face, all other games!) Or let’s even take something more familiar to everyone. “Star Wars”. There is violence (oh, poor Anakin in episode 3, even if he deserved it), but is there swearing? Is there, well, dirtiness (I have a lame way of saying it, but you know what I mean)? Is there usually even blood? Heck, lightsabers cauterize wounds! Woops, my arm just got lopped off, but no squirting blood to be seen. Keeps the rugs from staining, too. Despite this lack of cussing and blood-spraying, “Star Wars” still was and is a popular franchise. (This happens to be the number one movie on Fanfiction.net, too.)
So in the end, it is nice to see that sometimes, even the innocent things get attention. I understand wanting to see more “realistic” characters from time to time. I do enjoy “Jak and Daxter” (that’s about as bad as the Duck gets, which tells you a little something about my game collection), where the characters are not nearly so innocent as those from “Kingdom Hearts”. Sometimes I’m in the mood for that kind of thing. But, I love the games I can play and the movies I can watch where I don’t have to worry about seeing the things that are too common in the real world. (And seriously, half the population would appreciate it if we stopped being forced to see naked women constantly. I think the female form looks quite nice clothed.) And I think that is why such things as “Kingdom Hearts” and “Star Wars” are so popular. They have great stories and characters and action and all kinds of things we like, but they are also more innocent than most things, which lets us escape from reality rather than mimicking it. Would “Kingdom Hearts” be popular like it is now if Sora started spouting profanities (imagine that, no, Sora’s such a sweetie, he wouldn’t even if he could)? If the favorite swear word of middle-schoolers (my goodness, they wouldn’t stop with that word, the one that rhymes with my name…) showed up throughout the “Star Wars” trilogies, would it have been the same? Maybe I’m just being naïve. Maybe it would have made no affect or even helped the series. I just don’t personally think the addition of these things would have. It wouldn’t have appealed to such a wide audience, at the very least. But, either way, who cares? I love the innocent stories, and I always will.
Am I An Innocent Duck?