Why I love Golden Sun and Golden Sun: The Lost Age

Golden Sun 1

Hiyo again, everyone! Today I’ll be talking about two of my favorite video games growing up – games that, sadly, now seem largely forgotten. Golden Sun and its sequel/continuation, Golden Sun: The Lost Age, both for the GBA. These games form two halves of the same story, so I kind of view them more as a single game; playing either alone is much less satisfying than playing them both. Back when they were new to me, I went through them over and over. In fact, they were basically my gateway to fantasy-heavy jRPGs. As a result, the nostalgia factor for me is through the roof, so I’m gonna totally fangirl over them. xD

The series begins when a storm hits the village of Vale, which sits at the base of a mountain. During the storm, our main protagonist, Isaac, and his friends, Garet, Jenna, and Felix get separated, and Isaac encounters two malicious and mysterious strangers who you quickly come to realize were involved in the catastrophe. A giant boulder falls from Mt. Alpeh, killing Isaac’s father, both of Jenna’s parents, and Felix, who is her brother.

Three years pass, and Isaac is training under an old man named Kraden to use Psyenergy, a sort of magic close tied with the four traditional elements: Fire, Earth, Air, and Water. Isaac, Garet, and Jenna seek to test their abilities and ill-advisedly decide to breach the village shrine, Sol Sanctum, where they meet the same two strangers from before and more. The encounter leads them on an incredibly dangerous journey spanning their entire world.

I now know that sort of premise is pretty typical for a jRPG, but, still, Golden Sun stands out from the rest. It features a strong combat system, excellent music, and extremely extensive world-building. Exploration is meaningfully rewarded, which I love to see in an RPG; there are expansive optional areas to be found, adding depth to the world. On top of that, the characters are well developed and the plot is full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing what will happen next. I should acknowledge that Golden Sun is extremely dialogue-heavy; it puts story at the forefront, which works wonderfully if that’s what you’re looking for but may deter those most interested in action.

I won’t spoil more of the story, since I recommend you experience it for yourself if you haven’t already, but to this day, Golden Sun remains one of my favorite jRPGs, up there with Tales of Symphonia. Golden Sun later received a DS sequel, Golden Sun: Dark Dawn. I found that to be a solid game, but it fell short of the first two, and ever since, there has been no word of further sequels. It’s always sad to see something you loved growing up decline!

Since this is a “Why I love” post, it basically goes without saying that I rate Golden Sun 5/5. =p

Have any of you played any of the Golden Sun games? If so, what did you think? I’d love to hear your nostalgic stories! If not, which jRPGs are among your favorites? Please let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day!

Why I love Gosick


Hiyo, everyone! Sorry my blog post is a bit late; for the past few days, I’ve had no internet access! Anyway, today, I’d like to talk about one of my favorite anime, an obscure one called Gosick. As usual, I plan on discussing the premise of the story without revealing any major spoilers. Without further ado, let’s begin!

Gosick begins by introducing the audience to a boy named Kujo Kazuya, a Japanese transfer student who attends Saint Marguerite Academy in the fictional kingdom of Sauville shortly after the end of World War I. Kujo quickly finds himself burdened with the nickname ‘The Dark Reaper’ on account of his black hair; the people of Sauville are often quite superstitious, and prone to categorize mysterious things according to their fairy tales.

Kujo begins feeling quite isolated, but that changes when he makes his way to the top of the school’s library-tower and encounters an eccentric girl named Victorique de Blois, who is best known as ‘The Golden Fairy’ for her long blond her and who is notorious for almost always skipping class. While he’s there, he’s also joined by an investigator named Grevil who begins a one-sided conversation about his current case, culminating in Victorique explaining exactly what happened. Grevil’s true role is quickly revealed; he’s actually Victorique’s older brother, has no true talent for detective work, and uses Victorique to solve mysteries for him before taking the credit for himself.

When Kujo learns that truth, be becomes furious and presses Grevil to give Victorique recognition for her contribution. Instead, Grevil insists Victorique doesn’t even want to be recognized and instead invites the pair on a trip – a trip which is quickly cancelled. But not all is lost; Kujo and Victorique take an invitation Grevil received as a reward for solving his latest case and find themselves on a cruise ship, where they experience their first life-or-death adventure rife with mystery.

That adventure is the first of many, of course. Throughout the series, the duo get caught up in and solve many more mysteries, all the while growing closer to each other. As you might expect, more and more characters show up, too, but, to be honest, Victorique mostly carries the show in terms of character appeal. I found her quite relatable thanks to my affinity for towers and the like. =p

The series becomes controversial in its second half when the focus moves away from solving mysteries and toward Victorique’s dark past and the drama surrounding it. Some viewers, who had become comfortable with episodic case-solving, disliked the way the Gosick changed. Personally, I liked both halves of the story, and I think I enjoyed the second more than the first. xD I do love a bit of drama in my anime! Anything that makes me cry is a plus!

I enjoyed Gosick’s artistic style, though it doesn’t particularly stand out from many other anime I’ve seen. The music is also good, and the opening and ending songs remain favorites of mine. The endings in particular capture Victorique’s feelings especially well, in my opinion!

Unsurprisingly, I rate Gosick 5/5 despite its flaws; Victorique gets way more character development than anyone else, but I find myself rewatching the series every now and then, and I really don’t wanna deduct points from anything that has me so hooked! Even I’ll admit I’m a bit biased; I’d feel a little guilty taking points away from the stories I love.

Have any of you seen Gosick? If so, what did you think? If not, what’s your favorite anime, and which character to you like best in it? I’m eager to hear from you! Until next time, buh-bye!

Series Highlight: The Stormlight Archive

Way of Kings 3

Hiyo, everyone! It has been a while since I last covered any novels, so today we’ll be looking at a whole series of them: The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson. This series is huge, still in progress, and just plain awesome. Currently, the first three books are released: The Way of Kings, Words of Radiance, and Oathbringer. I last read the former two books back when they were first released, so it has been years, and I may not remember everything perfectly. However, I recently devoured Oathbringer, and it has left me wanting to revisit the series and discuss it with others!

It’s hard to properly describe the story briefly because there’s just so much to it, so instead, I’ll focus on three of the early main characters and their arcs in The Way of Kings. In book one, the character who gets the most page-time is named Kaladin. He’s a man who goes to great lengths to protect those he cares about, only to find himself worse off for it every time. After performing a nearly-inhuman feat to help the lord he serves, he is betrayed and branded a slave for his trouble. He struggles to find any hope to cling to in a world so consistently unfair.

Shallan Davar is a young noble who has traveled the world in pursuit of the renowned scholar and atheist Jasnah Kholin. Shallan seeks to become Jasnah’s ward – a sort of academic apprentice – but her intentions are not as pure as they seem. Her true motive is to rob one of the world’s keenest minds of a magical device necessary to safekeep her family’s future.

Dalinar Kholin is a Highprince of his kingdom who is known for the ferocity on the battlefield that characterized his youth. He finds himself forced into the position of a leader rather than a fighter, and experiences strange visions urging him to unite the nations of the world. Changed by the death of his brother, the former king, Dalinar searches for an honorable way to guide his country through the trials to come.

Those are only a few of the characters, of course. There are tons more, some with very unique viewpoints. Sanderson is a master worldbuilder, and the world of Roshar, in which these novels take place, is diverse and rife with deep lore. I can’t do it justice in a short post. I can only urge you to give the series a try for yourself.

That said, The Stormlight Archive is aimed at fans of epic fantasy – each of the three books in released in the main series so far is over 1,000 pages long. There’s also a spin-off novella called Edgedancer. I haven’t had the chance to read that yet, but it’s definitely high on my priority list now.

To make things even more daunting, The Stormlight Archive is one of many series that takes place in Sanderson’s Cosmere, a set of interwoven universes with varied magic systems. The other included series so far are less enormous than The Stormlight Archive, so you may want to start with one of those instead. Personally, the first book I read by Sanderson was Mistborn, and he has since become one of my favorite authors.

In the interest of avoiding spoilers, I won’t go into any more detail here. Just know that Sanderson writes both worlds and characters that are deep and exceedingly well developed. I recommend his work to any fan of fantasy.

Have you read anything by Brandon Sanderson? If so, what are your favorites of his stories? if not, who are your favorite fantasy authors? Please let me know in the comments below. Until next time, ciao!

Why Code Geass is my Favorite Anime

Code Geass

Hiyo, everyone! Today, I want to talk about my favorite anime I’ve watched to date – Code Geass! This post will double as a review and sheer fawning; if you know me, you’ve probably already guessed what my final score will be. =p

Despite my desire to heap praise on Code Geass, I will make this review as spoiler-free as possible. The reason is simple – I feel you should all go watch it yourselves, and it’s a lot more enjoyable if you don’t know what’s coming! That said, some basic facts about the characters that are revealed in the first few episodes of the anime will be mentioned here.

Our story begins when the Holy Britanian Empire takes Japan as one of its colonies, renaming the fallen nation ‘Area 11’ in the process. Over the course of several years, Area 11 is inhabited by Britannians and Japanese people alike, the latter becoming heavily discriminated against. There we meet our protagonist, Lelouch, a Britannian student who attends Ashford Academy, a Britannian high school in Japan. Lelouch laments the state of the world, but feels there is nothing he can do to change it – until he finds himself accidentally caught up in a Japanese terrorist group’s attempt to steal Knightmare Frames, mechs they seek to use to liberate Japan from Britannia’s oppression. Lelouch, however, comes face to face with something far less mundane than war machines – an immortal girl named C.C. on whom Britannia has been experimenting. C.C. grants Lelouch what she calls “The Power of the King” – a Geass. In Lelouch’s case, this is the power to make anyone with whom he makes eye contact obey a single command.

Lelouch uses his newfound power to defeat the nearby Britannian soldiers, who sought to kill him for his discovery. That done, he pilots a Knightmare – and allies himself with the terrorists. Lelouch, you see, has his own qualms with the nation.

He was born Lelouch vi Britannia, a prince of the empire. Prior to the conflict between Japan and Britannia, Lelouch’s mother, one of the emperor’s consorts, was assassinated in an attack that also left Lelouch’s sister, Nunnally, both blind and crippled. Lelouch confronted his father, the emperor, furious about the latter’s apparent apathy surrounding his mother’s death, and renounced his claim to the throne. Lelouch and Nunnally were then sent to the Kururgi Shrine in Japan, where they befriended Suzaku Kururugi, the prime minster’s son. The war eventually separated Suzaku from Lelouch and Nunnally.

After that, Suzaku became a Britannian soldier and resolved to change Britannia from within to build a better future for his people. He and Lelouch quickly find themselves on opposite sides of the battlefield, though Suzuaku is unaware of Lelouch’s involvement. Lelouch leads the terrorists to what seemed like an impossible victory in their initial skirmish. Shortly thereafter, he takes up the mantle of Zero, a masked man known by none, and manipulates his way into leadership of the terrorists organization, which he builds into a force capable of actually contending with Britannia. He does this to avenge his mother’s death and fulfill Nunnally’s wish to make the world a kinder place, even for the weak.

Then the story basically goes crazy. Lelouch is a strategic genius who delivers one plot twist after another to the viewers; I found that an absolute delight to watch, though others instead dubbed the series a ‘train wreck’ for its unpredictability. =p

Code Geass has a large cast, and its central characters are incredibly well developed. Their goals frequently come into conflict with each other, revealing more and more about them and giving way to deep themes, such as what it means to wear a mask, whether the ends justify the means, and the nature of justice. The characters’ ideals clash, leading to shocking outcomes and bittersweet ironies the likes of which I’ve seen few other anime match.

One thing that may stand out to someone who begins watching is how different Code Geass’ character design is from that of other anime. They are drawn taller and slimmer than in most anime, if that makes any sense. At first, I had some difficulty adjusting, but my awareness of the difference was quickly drowned beneath my immersion in the story. Even if you are a bit put off by the art style, I urge you to give Code Geass a chance.

The music is simply amazing. The opening and ending songs are wonderful, and some of the other songs that play during certain scenes are even better. The background music has a knack for perfectly capturing the mood.

Currently, two seasons of Code Geass are available and, as things stand, it has the best ending of not only any anime I’ve watched, but of any story I’ve ever experienced. There is a third season in the works about which I am excited yet also a bit worried because I fear it would be very difficult for it to live up to its predecessors. But I’m hoping for the best!

I rate Code Geass 5/5. I want to rate it even higher. I simply love it.

Have you ever seen Code Geass? If so, what did you think? Either way, what are your favorite anime? Do you like plot-twist-heavy stories? Please let me know in the comments below! Until next time, I hope your days are filled with joy. And, one last thought…




Why I Love Writing Deeply Flawed Characters

Hiyo, everyone! Today, I’m going to talk about something a bit different – why I like writing ultra messed up characters in my work! I don’t plan on actually discussing my own characters in any depth; analyzing them is best left to the readers. Shameless plug – if you want to see some examples, please check out my sample fiction, Borne of Fear, here.

When writers discuss character flaws, they often express their dislike of ‘Mary Sue’s – characters who don’t have any large flaws. And they definitely have a point. It’s important for major characters in any work to start with flaws, not only to make them more believable, and also to leave room for character development. Fiction is most interesting to experience when the protagonists struggle against themselves in the process of pursuing their goals. But, in this post, I don’t intend to discuss your everyday flaws. I want to talk about characters who are so flawed it’s hard to look past their shortcomings. Here are two reasons why I love including them in my work!

They offer unusual perspectives

It’s safe to say those of us who frequently experience fiction have met multitudes of protagonists with straightforward good intentions. If they don’t want to save the world, they at least want to protect their loved ones. Maybe they have some personal ambition – to excel in their field of choice, to hook up with their ideal partner, or just to find a place for themselves in the world. Characters with such goals work because they’re relatable. Just about everyone has desires like that. It’s easy to get into that protagonist’s shoes.

But what about a character who wants to destroy the world? To be fair, they’re not all that uncommon, either. What sets the interesting ones apart from the rest is learning why they’re pursuing that goal. If they aren’t given a compelling reason, that turns into a letdown for the reader. But when they do have a good reason, they can be marvels to behold. There’s something satisfying about hearing a ‘bad’ character spout their twisted logic and seeing whether there’s any part of yourself that at all agrees. That could just be me, (in which case you all probably now think I’m crazy) but I don’t think so, because readers tend to latch on to those characters. They’re fun to analyze, and, deep down, some of us may want to learn if we, too, are a little messed up in places.

A similar thought process builds intrigue for characters who don’t want to destroy the world, but who have personal goals that would generally be considered ‘not okay.’ For instance, imagine a serial killer who wants to make their kill count as high as possible, or a financial trader whose secret ambition is to crash the global market. Such goals are more interesting to consider than ones based on, say, sheer greed. A character who wants to do terrible things that offer no tangible benefit to themself is inherently more intriguing. And the more invested the reader is in the story, the better!

They present a challenge

As a writer, once I’ve developed a screwed up character with sick goals, I strive to go one step further. I challenge myself to make that character relatable, if only a little bit. Behind all those mental gymnastics and fragile excuses, there exists a person who wants something akin to the rest of us. I want my readers to make that connection. Even if they neither like nor pity the monster I’ve created, I strive to lead them to understand the journey that brought my character to take such extreme actions. If you look closely enough, you may find the remnants of a person who wanted something not so different from the protagonists I described above. Love. A place in the world. Some meaning in their lives. The deeply flawed character may have gone too far, or lost too much self-awareness in pursuit of their goal to understand what they’ve become. I want to show that train wreck in full. I want my readers to be able to imagine the better people my characters might have become if they’d made different choices along the way.

So, darker topic today! Please let me know what you thought! Do you find yourself intrigued by deeply flawed characters? Do you think they’re overdone? Would you like to see more posts like this? I’m eager for your feedback. ‘Til next time, have a wonderful week, and ciao!


Hollow Knight review

Hollow Knight

Hiyo, everyone!

Today, I will be reviewing Hollow Knight, a Metroidvania (platformer with emphasis on exploration) style game a friend of mine kindly gifted me. For context, I played the game on PC (Steam) using an XBox 360 controller; if you’re playing on PC, the game itself recommends that kind of controller. I couldn’t beat all of the optional content in this game, so you’ll definitely want every advantage you can get – it’s quite hard!

Hollow Knight takes place in the dark and forlorn kingdom of Hallownest, which is populated by intelligent bugs (Don’t worry; they aren’t the gross types. xD) and has fallen into a state of decay. A labyrinth of tunnels lies beneath the village of Dirtmouth, which serves as a hub for adventurers seeking treasure below; much of the game takes place in those tunnels. Despite being a platformer, Hollow Knight tells the intricate tale of the fallen kingdom; there’s a lot of narrative depth hiding in nooks and crannies throughout the game, and in the backstories of some of the characters. I won’t say too much about the story, but if you’re interested in lore, you’ll find plenty here.

You play the game as a mysterious knight (depicted above) about whom not much is known at the outset. They control perfectly (with the 360 controller), as far as I can tell. The gameplay is quite challenging in places, as I mentioned before, and you may find yourself dying more often than you expected to. When you do die, you leave your Shadow in your wake, and, to regain your money and full abilities, you have to make your way back to where you died and reclaim it. That was probably my least favorite aspect of the game; maybe I’m just a wimp, but it irks me when I feel like the developers are going out of their way to add an extra “punishment” for failure, ’cause I mostly just want to play for fun. But, if you’re into tough games, you may find yourself right at home with Hollow Knight’s mechanics!

Hallownest is an extremely atmospheric kingdom filled with diverse areas to explore; don’t expect the game to be monotone just because you spend most of it underground! I found myself consistently impressed by its beauty, which is wonderfully complimented by its expressive soundtrack. As far as aesthetics go, Hollow Knight is near-perfect.

The game also comes with three free DLC packs, the last of which is slated for release in early 2018. I haven’t played very much of the DLC content, but based on what I have experienced, it provides more boss fights for intrepid adventurers and a bit of extra backstory.

I thoroughly enjoyed Hollow Knight despite it being a bit more challenging than I would usually prefer my games to be; I found myself exploring for hours at a time, hunting down every last treasure, and I had loads of fun doing it. Therefore, I rate Hollow Knight 4.8/5. If you like Metroidvanias and don’t mind a bit of difficulty, I strongly recommend you check this game out!

Have you played Hollow Knight? If so, what did you think? What are your experiences with Metroidvanias in general? I’m eager to hear in the comments below! As always, thank you for reading, and have a lovely day!

Evi’s Tips for Combating Writer’s Block

Hiyo, everyone! Today I’d like to talk about a handful of techniques I use to beat Writer’s Block. Most writers I know find themselves uncertain how to proceed every now and then, so if you are suffering from Writer’s Block, know you’re far from alone. There are plenty of sites around offering ideas for how to overcome it; I have no intention of parroting those. I’m just gonna tell you about a few things that work for me. They may help you, or they may not, but I hope something I say is useful to someone!

Let’s begin!

Experience more stories

One thing that gives me a creative jump-start is reading, watching, playing, etc. some sort of media that’s compelling to me from a narrative standpoint. It doesn’t at all have to be perfect; it just has to do something I like, whether that be executing killer plot twists, developing deep characters, getting me really into the lore, or whatever else. While it’s not cool to copy someone else’s work, there’s nothing wrong with taking inspiration from others. So see what stories the world has to offer – and remind yourself of why you want to write in the first place.

Develop aspects of your story one at a time

Quite often, Writer’s Block stems from a feeling that something about your work isn’t good enough. Starting a story (or chapter, or whatever else) from scratch can be daunting. You may have thoughts about your setting and characters, but struggle to come up with a plot. That’s okay. When I find myself in that position, I slow down and work on the pieces of my stories one at a time. You can flesh out a character you really like; think about what they like and dislike, and what they would do in all sorts of situations they’ll never actually experience. Use what you do know to create more. Imagine conflicts that might arise between your characters and setting/plot. If you don’t know what sort of characters to write yet but do know about the setting/plot, consider the difficulties your setting/plot impose. Make a character who has to overcome them. Make them fight their fears.

It may be frustrating to have to dial back the pace of your writing to get the specifics just right, but it’s better to work slowly than to come to a standstill.

Mash separate ideas together

You may have vague ideas about several stories you’d like to write. They may seem like they have nothing to do with each other. Try making them fit anyway; it can foster new thoughts. Maybe you’d like to write one story about werewolves and another about traveling in space. You could put those together by writing about a werewolf astronaut who’s traveling to the moon and doesn’t understand what sort of effect that will have on their body. Often, mashing two ideas together will lead to something that appears outlandish, but outlandishness breeds originality. You may find yourself with a story that really breaks the mold.

Just write

Sometimes, writing something decent can seem impossible. In the moment, everything that comes to mind may seem terrible to you. One way to break the stalemate is to write something terrible. It’s not like you have to release it to others. I find my emotional state can greatly impact my perception of my writing. If you make yourself write something you think is bad, you may come back to it later and discover some worthwhile pieces in what you wrote. Even if you don’t, you may learn something new about your world in the process. Worst case scenario, you scrap the entire thing. That doesn’t put you any farther back than if you hadn’t written at all. If you think you can’t write anything good, I encourage you to give it a try nonetheless!

Those are all the tips I had in mind for today. I hope you found something in my post helpful; please let me know if you did, or if you think my advice is awful, or any of your thoughts about Writer’s Block. All constructive feedback is welcome! Bye-bye for now!