February 15, 2019

"The Lord of the Rings on Prime"


Amazon Prime's Middle-earth series is now somewhat underway.

Not long ago, they had created a Facebook page for the project: https://www.facebook.com/LOTRonPrime/  , as well as a website: amazon.com/lotronprime. Aside from the map, not much has been uploaded yet. However, should you be interested in following the project, official updates will be there.

I look forward to following the project as it progresses: cast, poster, trailer....and any associated merchandise. Hopefully, the merchandise won't be restricted to "Prime Members Only."

I'm curious what types of merchandise and products we can expect to see associated with this. I remember from 2001-2003 HarperCollins drastically increased production on Tolkien items - both related to Peter Jackson's films and not. Can we expect to see some new editions, beyond imagery used as book covers? Also, back then bookstores were book stores - not like today where they are department stores that happen to sell books. Regardless, I look forward to seeing what publications will inevitably come out.

As for how I feel about this, project, I did a post or two a while back. It's far too early to have an actual opinion - we know so little. Trailer first, opinions later.

I will also follow and report any news-worthy news in regards Amazon's Wheel of Time project, and Netflix's Narnia.

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them,
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie



February 14, 2019

"Mario Maker 2" Announced


Many fans were hoping that the Switch would get Mario Maker ported over to it, like so many other titles from the wii u (as of now, the only titles that remain exclusive to the wii u are: Mario 3D World, Xenoblade X, and Pikmin 3 - I may be missing 1 or 2). It was announced that Nintendo is making Mario Maker 2.

When I was a kid, I used to draw Mario quite a bit. I often enjoyed sketching a 'screenshot' of a made-up level, almost Bob Ross style. I used to get quite creative: "What if I make this spiny green?? The regualr ones are red, and there's red and green koopas, so....oh! and how would it behave on-screen?" That was one such example I would enjoy thinking of.

When Mario Maker came out, i was able to relieve and fulfill that aspect of my life, almost to its fullest. As great as the game was, it lacked a few minor elements that I would have loved to seen included, so I could make my levels more varied, and recreate some from Mario 1 and Mario 3 - thinking specifically of slopes and water that you can jump out of (ie, not be restricted to fully underwater.)

This post is not only to inform you that Mario Maker 2 is coming, but I'm going to re-watch the trailer, and commentate on what Mario Maker 2 looks to be adding (base donly on the trailer) as well as a few parting thoughts ("I hope this is included."

In the words of Mario, "heeere we gooo.....!"

- from the looks of things, the game is handled (exclusively??) in hand-held mode
- there are 'wheels': once the game enters 'maker mode', there's a circle labelled 'enemies' and there are some selections that can be made. There is also an "items" circle, and a "ground" circle; which includes 2 types of slopes.

- we get slopes!! I wonder how that will factor into Mario 1 style, which didn't have slopes....?

- There are elements from Mario 3D World (in side-scroller,not 3D environment)

- The sun from Mario 3 (which can be killed with a koopa shell in the deserve level) is here. Again, I wonder how it'll factor into games that did not have it in them.

- The section that shows the sun, shows a desert background. Can we change background styles....?

- The 'caterpillar' blocks from Mario World's castle levels are in it

- again with the background change: we see a forest-y backdrop and Mario and Yoshi swimming...but...the can jump out of the water! Also, it looks as if the water level can change. You could never jump out of the water in Mario 1, so I'm curious about that game style with the elements.

- the "On/Of" blocks from Mario World are here

- it looks like the auto-scroll can be adjusted, in terms of direction and movement. Play the airship levels from Mario 3 to see what I mean.

- there looks to be new enemies: puffer fish and blue/purple caterpillars. (I think it said 'ant trooper')

- Mario 3D World is a 'game style' (in 2D mode), I wonder what the mechanics will be like...?

- climbable bell-trees from Mario 3D World are here

- the Cat Bell item is here (can that 'work' in other game styles??)

- Piranha crawlers (may may be wrong, but the type of piranha plant that's pink and moves along its stem) from Mario World 3D is here (looking forward tos eeing that enemy with other game styles. it's 'length' and movement can be adjusted

- blocks that extend as you hit them are included (marked with a "!")

- the clear pipes from Mario 3D World are included

- in the Mario 3D World style, you can Banzai Bills come from the background into the foregound

- parachutes can be added to enemies. Also, in that same screen, there's a regular pipe that's not green, but red/pink instead....can pipe colours be changed??

- There looks to be different colour Yoshis! Wonder what the colours are, as well as if they have special abilities? It also looks that the 'acid' from some of the jungle levels is included.

- Boom-Boom is included as an enemy! Looking forward to seeing his Mario 1 and Mario World sprites. Not to mention how he may behave.

- Banzai Bills are included (I didn't see a Bill Blaster....)

Now for my thoughts / hopes:

- can adjustments be made on various level types? For instance for a 'gras' level, can we choose between day and night?

- it looks like you can change the colours of pipes. That, and the different level themes will allow me to create more accurate recreations of existing Mario levels

-can we make "worlds?" Perhaps even overworld maps??

- more enemies: I would love Fire Bros., Boomerang Bros., etc added

So that basically concludes my thoughts on the upcoming title at this point. We shall what else gets revealed closer to the release date.

February 5, 2019

Myths & Legends - Icelandic and Old Norse



Hwaet!
I have an interest in Icelandic and Old Norse myths and legends. The old sagas and tales, they interest me. Have I read any? No, not yet...

This interest was initially sparked with the publication of Tolkien's The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun. It was marketed quite well by both Houghton Mifflin and HarperCollins. I got the book around the publication date of May 2009 I believe it was. Over the years, I've also dabbled my toes in other areas related to some of the old legends and tales.

The following year, 2010, saw HarperCollins start their print-on-demand service for some specific titles. One of them was for the 50th anniversary publication of The Saga of King Heidrek by Christopher Tolkien. A few years following that, Penguin published some of their titles under the theme of 'Legends From the Ancient North'. Titles include: Beowulf, The Elder Edda, The Saga of the Volsungs, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (all are re-published and existing translations at that time) and the newly published, from what I could gather - The Wanderer.

Next, once my computer was powerful enough to run it (and they were finished all content related to the game) I got around to playing Skyrim, the 5th Elder Scrolls game. That game featured a lot of story content and quests inspired by some of those old tales. Over time, I also discovered and obtained The Sagas of Icelanders by Penguin (based from the massive 1997 undertaking of publishing and translating all 50-ish Sagas) as well as few others books on the side: Seamus Heaney's Beowulf, Oxford World Classic's edition of Grettir's Saga and The Penguin Book of Norse Myths. Also, there was the publication of Tolkien's Beowulf. Not quite related, but while waiting for seasons of Game of Thrones I have also discovered Vikings, and am a fan of that show as well. And I am missing one more book - The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki. For a milestone birthday or event, I would absolutely love a copy of the 5-volume (later-bound!) boxed Complete Sagas of Icelanders, which contains EVERYTHING. That will be quite the purchase, though!

Also, one of the first single-malt Scotch whiskies I've tried (and enjoyed) is the 12 yr by Highland Park. Highland Park ha as very strong (and they embrace it and use it as part of their marketing and packaging) Norse connection. In fact, some whiskies on their respective product pages even have quotes from some of the old stories.    

My interest in all these stories, and types of tales has reached its peak. This year I fully intend to read them. I'm presently reading through the Earthsea Cycle. I also plan on doing a full re-read of the (existing) Ice and Fire books as well as A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms and Fire & Blood. Those aside, my next reading project will be tackling all the Norse and Icelandic material. However, which order will that be?

Here's my projected reading order:

- Legends From the Ancient North (in the order of: Beowulf, The Elder Edda, The Saga of the Volsungs, Sir Gawain, and The Wanderer
- The Penguin Book of Norse Myths
- The Sagas of Icelanders
- Njal's Saga
- Grettir's Saga
- The Prose Edda
- The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki (hope to have it by then)
- Beowulf (Heaney's translation)

So what began as mild or slight interest, thanks to Tolkien, has become a chief interest of mine that I look forward to exploring further. I understand that some of these are in prose, others are in verse. That shouldn't bother me, as the snippets I've read have interested me and the form does not appear to be a hindrance.

From what I can tell, the editions and translations I own and mentioned aren't too completed like some other epic poetry (in verse or prose might be.)  I look forward to reading these timeless stories; and learning about a culture through them. Also, once Vikings finishes, I look forward to getting the blu-rays. One of the reasons for this, is for some of the special features and documentaries the blu-rays may have on them.

Skal! 

February 3, 2019

"Valknut" by Highland Park Now Available in Ontario

Highland Park's second of their Viking Legends series (the first being Valkyrie, the third being the upcoming Valfather) is now available in Canada. Or, Ontario, at least. 

Here is what they have to say about it:

"I know one thing which never dies: the reputation of each dead man"
Poetic Edda, Hávamál, verse 77

STORY


Created using a higher proportion of our local peated malt and predominantly matured in sherry seasoned oak casks to give this whisky its smoky, sweet flavour, VALKNUT is the second in our Viking Legend series, celebrating our rich Nordic ancestry here on Orkney.
Valknut means ‘knot of those slain in battle’ and its symbol of three interlinked triangles appears on numerous artefacts from the Viking Age. The symbol is closely associated with the Norse god, Odin, who guided the spirits of the dead to the underworld and back to the world of the living, and is believed to represent the transition from life to death or the connection between earthly life and heavenly life.

NATURAL CASK-DRIVEN COLOUR (NO ADDITIVES)


Light and golden (average colour tint 10.5)


FLAVOURS


Toasted vanilla pods | Cracked black pepper | Oak shavings | Cloves | Aniseed | Aromatic peat smoke


ABV


46.8%


VOLUME


700ml (or 750ml depending on country)

You can see the tasting video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMs59R40jRg

For those that live in Ontario, the LCBO product number is 632687.

Expect Valfather to arrive later this year, or very early next year. While Valkyrie was red, Valknut is blue, I'm expecting Valfather to be either green or yellow.