GIO Member Herding: Part 61

[As Read on the Excellent Blog of TGoW7 on]

And we’re back.  A new year, a new episode of Member Herding.  2013 was a great year for the GIO community, and I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings us!  One thing I think we can bet on though, is this episode’s member still being around.  In addition to the over 150 blogs he’s written (with over two dozen herded), he is constantly communicating with the rest of the community (over 8500 comments!!!)  When not hanging around here, it’s a pretty good bet that he is trying to add another game to his personal 1000 Club (more on that later).

It is my honor to introduce the next participant of Member Herding…


GIO Name: John Wrek

GIO Rank: Veteren Member – Level 14

Gaming Experience: Well now… I’d like to say I’ve been playing since birth, but I find that hard to believe myself- as I am sure you all do as well… My earliest gaming memories…hmm- probably the first (original) Prince of Persia, Populous, Mega Man 2, Minesweeper, and some other games back in say 1989 or so. I was about 6 at the time, give or take a few months…

Last Game Completed: Now, as I’m sure you guys are aware by now, I love to challenge myself by completing games to 100%, but for the sake of this question I’ll talk about a game (or two, or three) I’ve recently completed the story for, though not to 100%. Hmm… I’d have to say the most recently completed game of mine has been the nostalgic PC hell of a game called ‘Risk of Rain.’ I completed it for my review in only a few short hours, and it is pretty intense. You can check out my review for thoughts on the game if you’re thinking about it. Two others I finished recently were The Stanley Parable and Gone Home (again; so it kind of counts).

Currently Playing: That’s a hard question, as I haven’t really played all that much lately…however, I’ll give you my shameful responses regardless. And I’ll even keep it short(er) as well, ha. I’ve recently been playing Modern Warfare 3 (because I still cry at night over Ghosts, and have returned to less fertile ground to make it seem better), Black Flag, and even some Need for Speed: Rivals as well (mainly because I should be writing a review for it, and have procrastinated on that front).

Origin of GIO Profile Name: Well, for anyone who has done a bit of Google trolling (aka ‘research’) concerning my profile name, you’ll find some mixed results, so I’ll clarify succinctly here- hopefully. I originally took the online guise of ‘plainwrek’- don’t ask me where the oddly spelled name came from, I honestly can’t recall; regardless, it slowly evolved on other sites from that to other classic combos such as SirWrek, BigWrek, etc. Anyway, a while later, once I joined GIO, I decided to add a bit of a more personable touch, so I added in my first name as well- surprise, surprise, it’s John (not Wrek ;-). Anyway, from there, it just sort of stuck, and for fear of losing my “internet name” I’ve kept it since. So yeah, nothing really cool or meaningful…just…wrek’ed. I guess.

And now for everyone’s favorite part of Member Herding…the questions.

Your profile indicates you are a big Legend of Zelda fan.  List your Top 5 Zelda games, and why they received this ranking.  What is the most underrated Zelda game?  What about most overrated?

Why yes, as my profile does indeed indicate (I suppose), I am quite a large LoZ fan, in my spare time mostly nowadays sadly. Hmm… top five Zelda games? Well now, that’s going to be a tough one… However, despite them slightly changing order recently (for reasons some may be able to guess), I think I can do that for you. Let’s see here… Coming in at number one is my all-time (for now) favorite which I am sure many will agree to disagree about (probably in favor of Oot, MM, or TP- which are all dandy), The Wind Waker. Not the HD, perfect though that was- but the original, in all its artsy glory. Between the fantastic (IMO) story, the new-ish concept of open world (at the time), fantastic set pieces, and the boss battles and dungeon related items- Wind Waker had me sold from the get-go.

Number two, which should be less of a shock, is the ever-classic Ocarina of Time. I mean, what can I say that hasn’t been said about this game? Fantastic and compelling story and musical score… gameplay and puzzles to rival the best… and compelling characters and an awesome, breathing world make up a fantastic adventure for sure. Number three is Twilight Princess, the spiritual successor of sorts to OoT and MM, which takes an awesome, believably darker tone and is epic for that risky idea, as well as for the dungeons, expansive world, and story / characters. Number four would have to be Majora’s Mask, another successor and semi-related sequel to the previously mentioned two games, and also one with a more terrifying tone and endgame story. The masks, gameplay, and who world- creepy and weird though they could be, still fascinate me to this day, and totally deserve an HD upgrade as well. And my fifth and final choice would have to be Skyward Sword, which- newer though it is (comparatively), deserves this spot because it further refines the 3D games’ of the series formula, and creates mostly better dungeons, another intriguing plot, and more darkish and memorable characters as well. Throw in a few twists and interesting controls, and you’ve got a winner. Now, I almost said A Link to the Past or A Link Between Worlds for this position, but upon thinking, SS just barely nudges them down a bit…

And now for the most underrated… That’s a tough one too, but I’d have to say Minish Cap. I mean, sure on GIO and a few other places I always hear love and good things about that one, but I’ve heard virtually nothing elsewhere, which really shocks me as I personally know pretty much everyone who has played it (of my friends) has walked away intrigued at the least. So yeah, Minish Cap all the way. As for overrated, well, I’m going to go with Skyward Sword. I mean, sure I love the game, and people are welcome to put it wherever they want on their own lists, but it is not the best game out there in the series- it hasn’t had enough time to soak in for that, even three years later.

(Yeah, I liked Skyward Sword and all, but it got a number of perfect 10 reviews, and I was a little surprised by that.  I agree that it hasn’t really had time to soak in, but I’m just not sure that we will be talking about Skyward Sword as a classic in ten years.  I actually played a bit of Minnish Cap a few months back, and was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it.  I didn’t beat it, but I did get about a dozen hours into it.  One Zelda game that, to me, is criminally underrated is Link’s Awakening.  Man, I played the crap out of that game…)

You list Mass Effect 2 as one of your favorite games.  Think back to the finale of that game, and imagine you are Commander Shepard, and you are choosing GIO members to do the following tasks:  Who goes into the ducts?  Who leads the second fire squad?  Who is your biotic shield?  Who do you bring to the final encounter?  

Yes, oh yes… I do love me some Mass Effect 2, among the other games in the series… Whew, what a finale that was… So many things to go wrong, such an epic and overwhelming battle for the entire trip through the Relay and Collector Base itself… All your decisions culminating for one final assault and a hope that the universe survives one more day- at least long enough for the real Reapers to actually show up, anyway. Filling Shepard’s boots is hard, but I’ve done it well over three games I do believe, so I think I can manage one more time… But choosing GIO members, knowing that they may very well not return from the mission? Wow, that’s tough. Well, here goes…hopefully nobody (or not too many memorable folks anyway) die here… Apologies in advance if you guys do perish- I’ll send your ashes back to Earth for you, don’t worry.

I’d totally send Theora Craft into the ducts. If she can open doors the way she can open minds, then we’ll be through before the Collectors even arrive. Poisonous fumes? Pssahhh, we’ve got this. Second fire squad leader would have to be Saint. Man knows how to operate a tight ship, as shown by the strict adherence to regimen by posting Blog Herding consecutively so many times, managing Member Herding until recently- and holding his own under direct fire from Herded members questioning him back as well. Definitely Saint for the diversionary team- he’s an integral part there. My biotic shield producer would have to be Doc Apozem. I mean, DA’s a doctor, so obviously biotics should come into play somewhere there- right? No? Okay, well…we might be dead then. I mean, come on, surely you’re qualified for that in some way, right? *crickets [Gulp]

Anyway, for the final encounter, I’m going to bring two people, as that’s how it was in the game itself, assuming memory serves correctly- because it can be such a funny thing at times. How about… The Destroyer and DJ the ‘Squatch? I mean- come on. Surely we’re set to kick some major butt when we’ve got Shepard, a Destroyer (I’m imagining like a full-size Star Destroyer from Star Wars here), and a relative of Sasquatch on one team against some puny Human Reaper guy. Think “It’s over 9000” times 9000 nine thousands. Oh yeah.

(My God, with those numbers, you could do anything!  Great team.  It’s never easy picking GIO members to go on potentially suicidal missions, but you did an admirable job of parsing the talent available and justifying your picks.  And yes, your memory serves you correctly.  It would be awful to go into the final battle handicapped by just one squadmate, so having both The Destroyer and DJ would be essential.  What I wouldn’t give to see a Sasquatch battling next to Commander Shepard.  Ah, to dream.)

With recent reports of Nintendo struggling, what do you think they could do to right the ship?  Should or will Nintendo ever license their games to a third-party console?

These questions just seem to be getting harder to answer as we go along here…and my answers are probably growing much longer as well… This should be an interesting one then, ha. You see, while sales may be showing (er, slowing, I suppose) that Nintendo isn’t doing so hot right now, I think all they should be worrying about currently is releasing as many great games as they can while they still have the time and money to do so, and watch the revenue pour in. Yes, I’ll admit they may lose some money here and there thanks to fewer people purchasing their own consoles, however, if they continually craft top of the line brand name and new IP games alike, then people are sure to flock to the greener pastures they offer.

Any time the other consoles and game developers take a step back, Nintendo should be there, waiting, watching, and taking advantage of that opportunity to get their games out there. Admittedly, getting their games on third party consoles could help, true, but if Nintendo’s managed to survive for so many years on their own “goods”, why can’t they continue to do so? Or more aptly, why shouldn’t they? Maybe I’m just being near-sighted and selfish, but hey, I’m one of those “afraid of change” guys in this particular scenario I guess. In order to right the ship, we shouldn’t have to flip it over, spin it around, and shake it a la PotC: At World’s End. Come on, that’s insane- plus, they died anyway, sort of…

(I think you are absolutly right about the software.  If Nintendo really wants to stay relevant in the long run, it is going to have to come off the strength of their software.  While I would love to play Zelda on my PS4 someday, I don’t think Nintendo is in a position where they “have” to do something like that, but the lack of killer apps for the Wii U, and the empty spaces that come between those apps, aren’t doing them any favors.  I agree that they have survived this long, but I think it is clear their current strategy needs some tweaking if they want to keep on surviving in their current form.)

If there was one book that you could make into your dream game, what would it be, who would make it and what kind of game would it be?  What is your favorite existing book-to-video game adaptation?

This one is going to be short, because I’m going to keep it brief, as I could rant about this all day. I want an Ender’s Game game. Forget all the politics and crap behind it. I just want a space odyssey with a rich story, detail, expansive universe, and thousands of hours of content- thanks to including the plots from each book in the series, not just the first. Think of it as a storytelling version of EVE Online, in a  sense, meets Mass Effect, I guess. Two campaigns- one for the bugs, one for humanity. Create your own character and either fight alongside Ender Wiggins, or against. Insert more plot related details here and cool mechanics.

As for who would make it, I want to say somebody like Starbreeze, as they’ve made some interesting titles lately (relatively), and I think they could do the whole futuristic space odyssey thing justice as well. This would be their crowning achievement, theoretically. As for my favorite book-game adaptation, hmm… The Call of Cthulhu was pretty…strange…and better in story than most games in much else, if being very old and not really that much of anything I guess. Call it nostalgic I guess.

(Call of Cthulhu is an interesting choice.  I’ve never played it, but I did enjoy the heck out of Cthulhu Saves the World, so that’s something I guess.  I keep hearing about these Ender’s Game novels…I’m really going to have to check those out, I think.  I don’t have too much to say, because I’m not familiar with them, but I love Starbreeze’s work.  If they can make an awesome Riddick game, I’m sure handling something like this would be within their realm of possibility.)

You have a number of games in your 1000 Club (games that you have cleared all the achievements).  Which one was the hardest to complete?  Which one was the easiest?

Ah. I figured this question would come about. This is going to be brief as well, because I know exactly which game I would pick for each, without even looking. (Well, the last part is a lie, but hey- gotta make sure I recall the pain and suffering involved, so…) First of all, the easiest is definitely Avatar: The Burning Earth. It has five achievements, and they can be earned in about forty seconds- no lie. So, yeah…that one. As for the most difficult, that’s definitely Dark Souls. My god, what a terribly difficult game. Having to defeat every boss, do certain things, and find tons of objects made an already difficult experience even harder to stomach. You won’t want to know how insane that nearly drove me. But I did it, and I am stronger for it.

(Yeah, I’ve actually watched the video on The Burning Earth, although I’ve never actually played it.  I think that is a staple for achievement hunters.  And Dark Souls….man.  I made it all the way to Sen’s Fortress, and even though I keep telling myself I’m going to finish it up, it is just so soul crushing.  I have checked out the achievements though, and I am seriously in awe of anyone who could complete them all, so congratulations.  My toughest games have probably been the Mass Effect series (loved those insane runs!) and Dynasty Warriors 6.  It probably took 1000 man-hours to get that last sucker.)

Bonus Questions:

TheSniperXI asks:  If you could be any video game character from any genre, who would you be & why? 

Whew. I thought the bonus questions would get easier. Okay then… Guess I was a little off then. Hmm… despite some of his less redeeming qualities, I could use some of the “chic-ability” and casual flair of Nate Drake I guess. But being Master Chief instead would be mysterious and epic. Dang. Decision time then… Hmm… I think I’d be like that guy from Chrono Cross, just because it has an awesome story. Although I’m not really too keen on losing all my good guy friends halfway through in order to become the body-snatching bad guy I’ve been fighting the whole time though. Still, better than some characters I suppose- or several, if you count Sonic and Friends heh heh heh…

(Serge?  I’m not sure about that one.  While he himself is fine, the body-switching thing would be a killer, not to mention the whole “came back to town and everybody thought you drowned years ago” thing.  That might be a deal-breaker for me, but hey, to each their own.  And yeah, nobody….nobody…wants to hang out with Sonic and his friends…maybe Tim Turi, but that’s it.)

mojomonkey12 asks:  How do you feel about episodic gaming, such as The Walking Dead..  Do you mind the long waits between episodes, appreciate having time in between, or do you have another idea regarding how the could be released?

I actually quite enjoy episodic gameplay and gaming. I think it’s a wonderful evolution of storytelling and the wait in between, though it about kills me, also allows me to absorb some things I may have missed and to enjoy the episode thoroughly before moving on to the next. I mean, I think it’s great that they take so much time to devote to mostly fine tuning the story and what gameplay there is, especially in things as notable as The Walking Dead and Fables, and that they try to remain true to the base content while spreading their own ideas out as well and expanding the world further. I love it, personally. Sure- they’re quite linear in some ways, but story is definitely not one of them, and they’re getting better every day with the options and opening things up and whatnot. Excellent question indeed.

(I was won over, like most everybody else, by the episodic construction of The Walking Dead, but I do worry that Telltale is letting that become their “thing”.  It’s all fine and good, except for when they get swamped and I’m getting a new episode of a different series every couple of months…like what is happening now.  I’m already sick of the wait for episode two of Fables, not to mention The Walking Dead Season 2.  SO in that respect I’m torn, but I loved the whole feel of Season 1, so I guess I’ll just have to trust them.

Finally, ask me anything, and I just might respond. 

Okay, this is a short, and possibly really easy one to answer… And you’ve probably heard it before in some capacity, though I cannot recall if it has been asked here or not… It has pretty much nothing to do with gaming, surprisingly, and everything to do with awesomeness, satirical looks at Arthurian legend, and more of the second thing there. Here goes… What…is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow? (African or European, you take your pick).

(Well obviously I’m going European (for reasons surely everybody will understand), and it just so happens I know this answer.  42.  Boom.)

A special thanks to John Wrek for spending some time with us while divulging a few details about his gaming personality. To read more about John Wrek, view his GIO profile here.

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