Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair

The first Yooka-Laylee game was incredible and soon became one of my all-time favourites. When I found out that its sequel would be a 2D platformer, rather than a 3D platformer like its predecessor, I was a bit disappointed. I was still going to get it as soon as it came out, but I thought it might be a step down from the first game due to the change in formula.

As it turns out, I had absolutely nothing to worry about. Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is just as good as the first game and, depending on my mood, I sometimes think that it might actually be even better. Like the first game, it is now one of my favourite games.

There are two sides to the game: the first is the 2D platforming. Every level is beautifully designed and has just the right balance between being fun and being challenging. There are tonnes of beautiful environments (forests, airs ships, cliff sides, towns, factories and more) which look really nice and are full of nice little details – then each level also has an alternative form. For example, a level with a lot of water in it might change so that all the water is completely frozen and you don’t swim in it anymore, one level in a factory gets completely flooded, one level even gets rotated by 90 degrees, which changes everything. It’s always fun to play a level again in a new way and this is a fun new mechanic that I’ve not seen in other games.

The other side of the game is the world map, which isn’t just a map, but more like it’s own game. Building on top of the more interactive map from Donkey Kong Country 3, you walk around in a 3D overworld with a kind of top-down perspective. To me, it felt a little similar to the 2D Zelda games, except that it was pretty much better than all of them. You walk between different Grand Tomes (which are the entrances to new levels) which are scattered around the overworld and you have to find ways to do things to the Grand Tomes so that you can unlock the alternative versions of them. Sometimes its as simple as waiting for the tide to come in and spill over it, other times its very convoluted, like a particular instance where you have to make a frog start fishing inside the Grand Tome. The overworld is, honestly, just as nice to explore as many of the 2D levels – with deep forests, beautiful beaches, dark castles and more. There’s even an NPC who tells you that there’s a really well hidden secret somewhere in the world and, to my knowledge, nobody has ever fond it. How exciting. In order to progress in the overworld, you need coins which you can collect in the 2D levels.

Now, as you can probably tell from the title, there’s a really hard level called “The Impossible Lair” and this is something you can actually access right from the start. The idea is that for each of the 2D levels you win, that’s an extra hit you can take in The Impossible Lair. As someone who has been playing 2D platformers for my entire life, I arrogantly believed that I wouldn’t have too much of a hard time with this – but let me tell you, this is a very, very tough level, even if you have loads of hits you can take. Frankly, I almost gave up on it, but I was able to persevere because I love Yooka-Laylee so much. I’ve seen a lot of people who got very angry over the difficulty of The Impossible Lair… but, to me, it seems like the whole point was that it was supposed to be really hard? And after a lot of tries, it is manageable. Though there’s an extra reward for doing it without any extra hit points, which I can’t imagine myself doing any time soon.

The real icing on the cake for this game though, is that its absolutely charming. Dialogue with characters on the overworld is hilarious and there’s a nice mixture of new and old characters (though I wish Clara Lost were in it). There are tonnes of references to games like Donkey Kong Country (some of them pretty overt) and you can find and purchases lots of fun different Tonics which alter gameplay in different ways – sometimes making things easier, sometimes making things harder and sometimes just changing how things look. On top of that, it has just about one of the best soundtracks I’ve ever heard for a game – it’s one of those ones where you’ll stay in a certain spot in a game just to hear the music.

So if you love Donkey Kong Country, Banjo-Kazooie, the first Yooka-Laylee or just 2D platformers in general, I heavily recommend this game. It really is something special.

Rating: 9.7/10

Buy it here.

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Mandatory ID for Social Media – a good or bad idea?

Recently, I’ve seen a lot of people sharing a petition around which aims to make it mandatory for people using any kind of social media to submit some kind of ID. Otherwise, they’d presumably either not be allowed to make a account, or would be kicked off if they already have one. The thought process behind this is that it will mean that anonymous internet bullies will now be held accountable if their behaviour veers into criminal territory. For example, people discussing planned terrorist attacks, people inciting racial hatred, people releasing others’ personal information, people relentlessly harassing individuals, people using accounts to groom children/teenagers and so on. There are a lot of disgusting things that people do when they have an anonymous social media account.

However, is making it mandatory to submit ID really the best way to go? Would anyone be able to go onto your account and see who you are? The petition doesn’t really make this clear, but let’s imagine for the sake of argument that it would be like this. Here are a few scenarios to consider: someone is in a really violent relationship and uses social media to anonymously vent about the partner they are unable to leave – with mandatory ID, the information about who they are could get back to the violent partner and endanger their life. Imagine someone who is non-heterosexual lives with highly religious parents who would toss them onto the streets if they knew about their sexuality – maybe they go online to connect with the broader LGBT community in a way their abusive parents cannot monitor, but with mandatory ID, it might get back to them and they could end up homeless. Imagine somebody who’s stuck in a job that they hate and in which they are routinely abused by their employer – it may be therapeutic for them to complain about it discreetly online, but with mandatory ID, they could end up losing their job. The introduction of mandatory ID for social media would then create problems for thousands of people in situations like this.

But what if the ID is submitted to the platform and not publicly visible and then it only comes up if the user does anything criminal? Does that solve the problem? Well, I don’t think so. If you are under 18, the petition says that you should use your parents ID, so the LGBT kids living with abusive religious parents (as mentioned above) would then need to ask their parents for the ID and make them aware of their account, or just lose the friends and community they’ve cultivated. Also, not everyone has a form of ID: poor people who don’t drive or have a passport would have to submit a birth certificate, if they have access to it, or otherwise lose access to one of the biggest communication platforms in our society. Also, thinking long term, what if you had submitted your form of ID to social media and then the law changed for the worst – all of a sudden, public criticism of the government is illegal and the ID attached to your account can be easily silenced. I’m not saying that this is something that’s going to happen any time soon, but if you have a precedent for mandatory ID on social media, this is a problem that could arise further down the line.

So as much as I completely agree that there are awful things done over social media and the people who are doing them need to be held accountable, I also think that it poses too much of a risk to the vulnerable people who are already using the platform and so I think that there needs to be a different approach to solving this problem.

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Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Probably the funniest book you’ll read about the end of the world. Good Omens was written in collaboration by two very highly respected authors who were both in the early days of their career at the time, but who managed to make a real classic nonetheless.

With the apocalypse looming on the horizon, a demon and an angel (Aziraphale and Crowley) who have formed an unlikely friendship decide that they’re not actually all that keen to see the world end, despite the fact that that’s the ultimate goal of the divine plan, so they take steps to try and postpone it. Both of them are very likeable characters and they’re just two of many. The whole book is filled with loveable characters. I was particularly fond of Agnes Nutter (a character you don’t see much of directly, but who is integral to the backstory) and her modern day descendant, Anathema Device. Both of them are witches with the ability to see into the future and I particularly liked Anathema’s attempts to prevent the apocalypse. On the flip side, I also found Newton Pulsifier (sole member of the Witchfinder Army) to be a very funny and endearing character in a ridiculous kind of way.

Something that’s particularly appealing about this book is that as much as it can occasionally be very silly and often deals with fantastical religious characters and themes, it somehow succeeds in remaining quite down to Earth throughout. The people in the novel are all very believable and they all respond to things in realistic ways. Then you also have things like Heaven and Hell, which seem to be run just like any other organisation i.e. with all the flaws you’ll find in a workplace. They succeed in making the extraordinary ordinary, while still keeping it very entertaining.

Something else that I really appreciated about this book, is that it wasn’t just silly for the sake of being silly – it always had something important to say and the authors just chose to do it in a more whimsical way. Really, this is quite a profound book, with lots to say about life, death, religion, human beings and much more. Yet, throughout the whole thing, there’s a great feeling of wholesomeness and the focus on friendship and the wonder of childhood can also be very heart warming.

Overall, the book is a delight and quite easy to read. I think it’s a book with a very broad appeal, but particularly to those with an interest in religions and the idea of the apocalypse.

Rating: 8.9/10

Buy it here.

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Contracting COVID-19

It’s been over a month since I’ve last written a Trusty Water Blog post and the reason for that is, a few days after my last post, I contracted COVID-19. The first symptom was just a mild cough and, being a young person with no existing health problems, who didn’t smoke, lead an active life and was not overweight, I didn’t imagine things would get a great deal worse.

As it happens, things got much, much worse. Some readers may recall that I wrote a post addressing the conspiracy theory that COVID-19 is a hoax and used logic to explain why that wouldn’t make sense. Well, now I can say, from first hand experience, that this is a very serious illness which can affect anybody, even those who might expect not to get such a bad case, like myself.

Once I’d moved beyond a simple cough, I found myself having a terrible fever, having all my joints ache immensely, having my sense of taste turned on its head and getting completely out of breath from the smallest tasks. The fevers were so bad, I found myself hallucinating: I was seeing white or black flashes in my vision wherever I looked. Though that may have partially been down to dehydration, because sadly, even delicious water was hard to consume, because my changing sense of taste made it taste foul and I didn’t drink enough in the first few days.

After a week of this, I was sent a device to measure my heart rate and blood oxygen levels so that doctors could keep an eye on me remotely. As it turns out, as soon as I tried it, my blood oxygen was below the safety line and my heart rate was too high, so they sent a doctor to come and see me… who ended up arriving at 2am in the morning. When she arrived, they identified that COVID had caused me to develop an infection in my lungs. To treat this, I was given antibiotics.

Over the next week, I slowly, but surely, started to get a little bit better. It was a very slow process, but I have to admit I started to see improvements. I thought, maybe, I was finally on the path to recovery… but then I started to get a pain in my side and my GP told me I had to go to A & E in order to have them check for blood clots. Though it was difficult, I got myself to A & E and waited for them to see me – after two hours they did. I thought, at last, maybe I’ll get a bed and can lay down. I was absolutely exhausted from being out of bed for so long. Unfortunately, they noticed I had a fever and then asked me to wait outside in case I was contagious. As I had lost the strength to stand or sit, I ended up lying on the floor outside the hospital for some time between three and four hours and considering I was already in a lot of pain, this wasn’t a positive experience.

Anyway, eventually they saw me and ran a number of different tests and determined I’d suffered a pulmonary embolism, giving me a large number of blood clots in both lungs. They also identified that one of my lungs had been damaged by the virus. Ultimately, they kept me in the hospital, even keeping me on an oxygen machine for a couple of hours on the first day. I honestly spent most of the time either sleeping or just dosing in the bed, I don’t think I’ve ever been so tired for so many days. On the third day, they gave me the choice between staying in the hospital and recuperating at home, so I chose the latter.

Now I’m looking at a recovery process which could last for several months, while also having certain symptoms and weaknesses that will be with me for my whole life. It’s frustrating being so weak and I often have to nap in the middle of the day if I do anything. I’m very grateful that I have a very kind and helpful house friend who has helped to look after me, but I also hate to take so much from somebody who has a life of their own to live, with its own stresses and struggles. I’ve tried to be very careful throughout the pandemic, yet this happened anyway. This could happen to anyone. So let this be a cautionary tale to you: get vaccinated when it’s available to you and make sure you don’t take any actions which could cause other people to catch the virus. It’s no exaggeration to say that this could have cost me my life and I wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone.

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Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp

I was pretty intrigued when I found out that there was going to be an Animal Crossing game for smartphones. At the time, it had been a fair few years since the last proper instalment and I imagined that I could get quite addicted to this game… and for a while, I was.

While other Animal Crossing games start with you getting a new house and then working to build it up, this one focuses on you getting your own campsite. You can decorate it however you like, with various different bits of furniture and by doing things for different villagers and buying furniture and items that they like, you can persuade them to stay at your camp. You also get your own camper van, which you can customise as much as you like.

Something I like about this game is that you have a friendship meter with all the different villagers you meet and it levels up the more you do for them. This makes it easy to see how good your relationship with them is and I wish that this feature was in earlier (and later) instalments in the series.

Mostly, the tasks that you do for the villagers involve catching them a certain fish or giving them a certain item. Annoyingly, you can only really do so much at a time, as after you’ve caught so many fish, they stop appearing – the same goes for bugs, fruit and shells on the beach. Whereas in the earlier games in the series, you can kind of do these things endlessly, you definitely run out of things to do here – this, of course, is done in an attempt to get you to spend money.

As well as using them to woo villagers, the resources you gather are then used to make furniture and buy improvements for your campsite or camper van. An element of urgency is then added when they do limited time events. For example, you could find Poké Balls laying around the different areas of the map at one point and they could be used to craft special Pokémon items. You can also buy fortune cookies to obtain rare items and these are limited time only too, but are also luck based and even more strongly geared towards making you spend money. Unfortunately, this game does not feature a museum to fill up like the earlier ones do.

There was a time when I was playing this every single day. It was fun to catch the fish, build the relationships and do what I could to entice as many villagers as possible. The problem was, that after a while, I realised how formulaic it was. I got the resources I could, I did what I could for the villagers and then repeated the whole process again and again. After it started to feel that way, I found myself playing less and less and now that the next console game in the series has been released, I don’t imagine I will ever return to it. Still, it was fun while it lasted and maybe some people will find it fun for longer than I did – particularly if they are willing to spend money.

Score: 8/10

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The Return of The Waltons

Yesterday, a piece of delightful pieces of news was announced: The Waltons is returning! Specifically, it’s returning in the form of a remake of the original Waltons movie, The Homecoming. However, in order to keep some connection to the original, Richard Thomas will be returning to the role of John-Boy Walton, this time playing the role of the narrator. This has me excited for a number of reasons.

When I saw that there was going to be a remake, my first thought was “I hope Richard Thomas is the narrator” and I soon found out that that was indeed the case. Since then, I’ve been endlessly excited for the new movie to come out.

With Richard Thomas reprising his role, we could get something which is both a nice ending to the original run of The Waltons, while also being a new beginning. The ideal scenario in my mind is that the story starts with Richard Thomas’s version of John-Boy with his children (or grandchildren) on Christmas Eve and when they can’t sleep, he tells them a story from his childhood – then we get the new movie. Then, at the end, when he finishes the story, John-Boy sees the kids are now asleep and, having told the tale, he feels nostalgic and takes a look at some old photos of the family (the original actors) and concludes that he’s had a good life. For me, that’d be the perfect ending to The Waltons and it would book end the series beautifully, with it starting and ending with different versions of The Homecoming.

Secondly, along with the announcement came the news that if the movie does well enough, it could lead to a whole new series of The Waltons. Of course, it’s going to be a very different interpretation of things, but I think that the ideas and concepts behind The Waltons – e.g. of a young man who wants to go to college and become a writer and of a family who carry progressive values and are accepting of all people – is such a strong idea, that it transcends any specific actors. As long as it remains true to the ethos of the original, I think it has the potential to be really good – particularly as when I watch The Waltons, I often find myself thinking that a lot of the ideas are just as relevant today. They tried hard to tackle a lot of social issues in the show and, in my opinion, always came down on the right side of history, leaving them looking progressive and ahead of their time. Plus, it’s not as though a large number of cast members didn’t change between the original Homecoming and the main series and, of course, John-Boy himself changed actors later in the show. It’s exciting to think about who the third John-Boy in the pantheon of John-Boys will be.

Thirdly, I have been a Waltons fan since 2009. Since that time, other than watching through all of what already existed, I have never had any new Waltons to look forward to. At last, a new instalment in the series is coming out within my lifetime – when I see the movie, I’ll be among the first to see it. It’ll be brand new. I’ve been waiting for something like this to happen ever since I became obsessed with the show. I hope this new movie renews interest in The Waltons and that we have lots of new Waltons content in the near future and that more people take an interest in the original show.

Finally, I love Christmas movies. There’s a long list of them that I watch every single year. It’ll be nice if this ends up being part of my festive routines. I’m sure there will be very many nice evenings in the future where I’m off work, looking forward to Christmas and watching the new Homecoming.

All round, it’s a brilliant piece of news and I struggle to understand why a lot of Waltons fans have reacted negatively. Yes, a lot of remakes aren’t as good as their originals but… so what? There are a lot of good remakes as well and even if it’s rubbish, it in no way effects the original movies, so I don’t understand why people are so upset. Ultimately, I hope it succeeds and does very well.

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Attila, My Attila! by Edith Cooper and Katherine Bradley

This was one of the books included as part of the Reclaim Her Name campaign, which republished a series of historic pieces of writing which had been written by women who had to use male pseudonyms due to the misogyny of their time.

Attila, My Attila! was a play originally published under the name Michael Field, though was written by two woman named Edith Cooper and Katherine Bradley, a couple… although while the introduction in my edition is quick to tell us about the romantic nature of their relationship, it doesn’t draw attention to the fact that they were also aunt and niece… so, yeah. That’s kind of gross. But, anyway, that’s kind of irrelevant to the quality of their work.

The play is about the historic figure, Honoria, the sister of Valentinian III, the Emperor of the Western Roman Empire. She grows frustrated with the way in which her fate is left in the hands of others, especially when it comes to decisions about her marital status. She wants to be free to have relationships with anybody that she wants (including sexual relationships) and hates having to save herself for a husband who will be chosen for her. Because of all this, she’s constantly in contention with her mother and others who wish her to play the part that they expect of her. Ultimately, this all encourages her to take an interest in Attila the Hun, who is a rival to her brother on the world stage. It’s an interesting story, especially as it actually happened in reality.

I quite like the character of Honoria and her struggles against authority and I was also very fond of of the two chamberlains, Satyrus and Eugenius, both of whom play pretty major roles in the story and who have, what I felt like was, a fairly comical rivalry between them. Her mother, Galla Placidia, however, came across as a very unpleasant person (and intentionally so).

Contemporary critics of “Michael Field” were very positive about their work and even compared it to Shakespeare, though this praise disappeared once they were outed as two women. However, I think it’s a pretty fair comparison. Obviously, they were writing about three hundred years apart, so there’s nowhere near as much of the archaic language that you’ll find in something by Shakespeare, but the way that the characters behave feels very similar and so does the tone – then there’s also the fact that its a dramatisation of historic events, again, like Shakespeare.

I wouldn’t say that this particular play is better than the best of Shakespeare, but I certainly liked it more than some of what I’ve read by him. Though it is good, I do also appreciate that it’s quite a niche appeal, but if you like Shakespeare or the history of the Roman Empire, then you may well enjoy this.

Score: 7.4/10

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Ten Years of Trusty Water Blog

As of today, I’ve been writing this blog for ten years of my life. A crazy thought, because when I first started it, I had a feeling I’d end up abandoning it after a few weeks or months. While I may not update every single day like I used to, I still write at least one thing pretty much every week and, at this point in time, I imagine I always will. Looking back, it’s been a fun ten years.

2011

So, Dalfino made me start a blog. Or, at least, that’s what I titled the first blog post. Dalfino himself says that he merely suggested that I start a blog and didn’t actually make me do anything. I named it Trusty Water Blog, after my Trusty Water Bottle, which was a point of interest for some people. I was in Sixth Form at the time and working as an MDSA, which was a very dangerous job. One time on the way home, I narrowly avoided a wasp. Soon afterwards, I found myself starting an exciting new chapter in life at university and though I did miss my old friends, I was forming strong bonds with the new people I’d met.

2012

The first full year of Trusty Water Blogging. This was the year in which I read my least favourite book – but that aside, it was a nice year. My first year of university came to an end and I did well enough that I wanted to celebrate my results. I even gave advice on how others could celebrate in the same way. Someone commented to me that the homeless people of Bath were dangerous drug addicts, so I took steps to prove them wrong. I had a very nice time seeing Anthony Nanson and Davie Metcalfe perform at the Rondo Theatre in Bath. I bought some finger puppets at a local toy shop and then made a little comic strip using them to cheer up a friend when she was sad. In a significant milestone in my life, I got a yo-yo. What a beautiful day that was – a loving gift from a loving friend.

2013

This year started off very strong, with lots of wacky hijinks and fun memories. Like the time my friend Tulin and I accidentally started a fire when making brownies, or when we got off the bus at the wrong stop and had to walk along the grassy verge of a dual carriageway in the dark and the snow. Sadly, later that year, the two of us had a falling out and I was very sad about it. Back then it seemed really important, but looking back, it lasted only a few months and it’s funny now that it once seemed so important. Later that year, I was asked on a date for the first time – I was quite baffled by the offer and politely declined. During this year I made a new friend, I made no note of it on the blog, but at our first meeting, I did ask if she’d be interested in writing a guest post and so added her on Facebook. Perhaps it was a good thing that I did, because we now live together!

2014

As my time at Bath Spa University came to a close, I found myself growing more wistful and reflective – thinking both of the past and the future. I buried a digital time capsule for my future self. Freshly made up, Tulin and I were back to having good times together again. I came full circle and became an MDSA again after university, just like I was before. It was only a short-term thing, but I had some fun times with the children. Sadly, my next job involved me being tricked into distributing Conservative propaganda. By the end of the year, with many university friends having moved away, I started to feel a bit sad. I had to rely on my own company and yearned for happier times.

2015

I started the year feeling the same as I’d done at the end of 2014. I reflected that my Trusty Water Bottle was my only constant companion and funnily enough, writing about it got me my first proper full-time writing job! Or it helped, anyway, with the interviewer saying they’d read and loved that blog post. During this year, I had an unpleasant interaction with a homeless woman. In quite a milestone for this blog in particular, my friend Liam bought me the domain for www.trustywaterblog.co.uk, which was a very nice gift indeed. I was in a better place at the end of the year than I was at the start.

2016

A new year, a new job and new friends. Working alongside somebody named Sarah, she soon won me over and we became the best of friends – an experience involving chocolates in particular was one catalyst for our friendship. It’s a good thing we made friends, since she later saved my life! During this year, I stopped to reflect on all the benefits keeping a blog had given me, and there was quite a list! Sadly, the job I had at that time was a really rubbish one (only due to the boss I had) so I wrote a blog post about my frustrations, waiting a year before publishing it so that I could avoid getting in trouble. Overall, it was a good year in my life, but a bit of a rubbish one on the world stage, but I tried to stay optimistic.

2017

For the most part, 2017 was a pretty good year. I accidentally went on a date with someone, which was probably pretty awkward for them, but not for me, it was good blog material. This was also the year I got to meet some cast members from The Waltons – that’s pretty darn amazing. I hope I get to meet them again. That was thrilling. This year, I ended up with a fairly boring call centre job. I came up with ways for it to be more fun and also found little things which made it quite rewarding. This was also the year I met a close real world approximation of one of my fiction characters. I was also given serious cause to reconsider my stance on tomatoes. Plus, I wrote a blog post about my local MP, which essentially got me blocked from her Facebook page. It’s probably been my most popular blog post.

2018

I started the year by reflecting on the Top 10 Vegetables of 2017. It’s one of the finest pieces of journalism I’ve ever written. Speaking of food, this was the year that I went to Nando’s by myself and had quite a profound experience there. I was gifted a smiley face ball in a job, which created a nice parallel to a similar experience two years previously. I almost missed a bus, but successfully outran it to the next stop. I also took a moment to reflect on all the unusual people I’d met and blogged about and asked myself the question, where are they now? In many ways, it was a bit of a disjointed year.

2019

How recent 2019 feels. This was the year which contained the biggest gap between blog posts in the history of Trusty Water Blog – and why? Because I finally achieved my dream of moving to Bath. Me and my house friend have a wonderful living arrangement and one night we had a fun time going out and playing good cop, bad cop with a local hoodlum. In this year, I made a collage for International Friendship Day – I’m still very proud of it. It was during this year that I started to find it a bit harder to update my blog three days a week, so I abandoned my regular schedule and just started writing in it whenever I felt like it. It was the right choice.

2020

A year which started off normal, but then a global pandemic happened. I had to stay at home, which was fine, because me and my house friend get on beautifully – not like a house on fire, but a house well built which lasts until the end of the earth. During this time, I witnessed something deeply beautiful, which was nice. Despite not being able to see friends, I still had a very good time hosting a global quiz with a big portion of them over the internet. During this year, I became more unwell than I’d ever been before, I had to go to hospital in a life-threatening condition. In the end I was fine though, so I had a pizza to celebrate. Thanks for saving my life, Sarah and the NHS. (Did you like the foreshadowing in the 2016 section?)

2021 (and beyond)

And now here we are, ten years later. I won’t bother to write a summary of the blog posts from the last five months, but the year is off to a good start. I’m really pleased that I’ve been able to keep writing this blog for a whole decade. It’s a fun and therapeutic experience for me, kind of like keeping a diary, but one which I’m happy to share with the world. I’m glad that I’ve been able to make people laugh, to help people to better understand how I see the world and to share my love and appreciation for the people in my life. Going over my old blog posts to make this has been a very nostalgic experience and I hope I’m still writing here in ten years time.

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Animal Crossing: New Leaf – Welcome Amiibo

Three years after Animal Crossing: New Leaf originally came out, Nintendo released a new version of the game with Welcome Amiibo added to the title. This updated version adds tonnes of extra content and, very nicely, Nintendo let owners of the original version gain access to all of it via a free update! They may have done many greedy things, but this, at least, was pretty good of them. Here are a few of the added features:

  • The town gets a new area, a campsite run by a dog named Harvey. People come to visit this campsite inside camper vans, giving you a chance to meet special characters and buy furniture.
  • Something called a CAT Machine was added to the town, this gives you MEOW coupons (which can be spent on exclusive furniture that Harvey sells) in exchange for you completing certain tasks.
  • You can scan Amiibo in order to have new villagers visit. Using Animal Crossing Amiibo cards, you can get any existing villager, on top of that, you can also get several new villagers.
  • Tonnes of content from the Legend of Zelda series was added to the game, including the option to have Wolf Link, Ganon, Epona and various other characters as villagers. There’s even an outfit from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in the game, added as a kind of preview.
  • There’s some good Splatoon content as well, where Amiibo can get you villagers who are huge fans of the series, as well as various pieces of clothing and furniture which come from the game.
  • Furniture and gameplay features from Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer were added.
  • The game Desert Island Escape from Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival is now unlockable.
  • A new version of the game Puzzle League is also playable (and very fun too).

Overall, I love everything that was added to the game, particularly the new Zelda stuff. Nintendo could have very easily just released it as a new, updated version as they do with various other things and charged full price, but instead it was free. For me, the addition of this updated prompted me to revisit the game and I’m very glad I did. Now it’s even better than it was originally.

Rating: 9.6/10

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Medical Trauma

I recently had to undergo a highly invasive and painful medical procedure and I was completely conscious the whole time. The process is called a flexible cystoscopy and I’ll save the details for those who are faint of heart, but please do look it up if you’re curious. In my humble opinion, most online accounts (from official medical resources) tend to significantly downplay how painful it is.

“Oh my,” I said, as it started. “I suppose that was unpleasant, but I imagined it being a lot worse because-” I stopped to wince, because the pain had suddenly reached a significantly.

“Yeah,” said the doctor who was working on me, “it’s a very unnatural thing to have done to you.”

“That’s okay,” I said, holding back the pain, “Every new experience is a valuable experience.”

The doctor reached a particularly painful part in the procedure. “I’m really, really sorry.”

“No need to apologise,” I said, “I should be thanking you for conducting a difficult procedure in the name of improving my health. Funnily enough, the last time I had something similar done, that other doctor was very apologetic too.”

“We’re only human,” she said.

“Yes, true, but, after all, you’re doing my a kindness, really. A painful kindness, I’ll admit, but a kindness all the same.”

“I’m glad you can see it that way,” she said. “Now, if you look to the screen to your right, you’ll be able to see the inside of your bladder.”

I turned my head to see the computer screen beside me. “Oh, very nice,” I said, “I always wondered what it looked like. It looks good to me, but how does it look to you? I obviously have no point of reference for bladder interiors.”

She explained that everything looked healthy and then gave me a little educational tour of my insides. Despite the pain, it was definitely interesting stuff. Sadly, the time then came to move onto the final part of the procedure which on the bright side meant the end was near, but that I’d be in a lot more pain.

“What do you do for a living, anyway?” said the nurse beside me, offering a distraction from a particularly painful moment.

“Funnily enough, I write about medical matters. So really, this is a valuable first hand research experience for me. Perhaps I’ll get to write about it one day.”

They laughed at that and said “We’re glad we could give you some writing material.”

“Right,” said the doctor, “all done now. You did remarkably well. We don’t often get people who are so friendly and chatty throughout the whole thing. Well done you.”

All in all, it took about fifty minutes. They spoke about my health for a little while afterwards (telling me everything was fine) before sending me on my way. There was a general feeling of stress and unease about me for about two days afterwards. I didn’t feel right at all and it just made me feel very sad – the longer it went on, the funnier it seemed to me that the doctor and the nurse had commented that I seemed to have ‘done well’ because the emotional and psychological impact on me was enormous. I’m fine now, thank goodness, but it goes to show how easily a person can be mistaken for taking something well, when they’re really not doing well at all. Keep in mind, should you ever find yourself experiencing something similar, that you’ll start to feel normal again eventually! Speaking to a friend of mine, it seems that this kind of response to medical trauma is actually very common, but I’d never heard of anything like it, so I thought it was important to write about my feelings in a blog post.

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