Podcast 85: E3 2015 Part I: Conference Round Up, “Star Fox Zero,” “Super Mario Maker,” and more

E3 2015 has come and gone. Listen in as we discuss all of the three major conferences, and our hands on experience with titles including “Star Fox Zero,” “Super Mario Maker,” “Yoshi’s Woolly World,” “Metroid: Blast Ball,” and more.

And of course, this week also features a very special Little Mac amiibo giveaway. Listen in, and check out our YouTube channel for more ways to win and video footage direct from the show floor.

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Voices of Valyria Episode 19: Game of Thrones “The Dance of Dragons” Podcast

Dragons dance. Well, not really. But Stannis does makes a choice. Arya runs into an old enemy. And well, just listen in. You know what happens. Join in as we discuss everything that happened in the ninth episode of season five, “The Dance of Dragons.”

As always, we are starting the first half of the podcast with a Spoiler-Free TV only discussion. Spoilers start at ~36:00.

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Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 9 “The Dance of Dragons” Review

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 9 “The Dance of Dragons” Review

**Full spoilers for all books and TV episodes.**

If we look back at the previous ninth episodes in any “Game of Thrones” season, they are usually big important turning points for the series. Ned’s beheading, the Battle of the Blackwater, the Red Wedding, Battle at the Wall, etc. You get the picture.

Sadly, “Dance of Dragons” falls short of nearly all of these, and is one of the worst penultimate episodes the show has had. We did get some sweet dragon action…just not much else.

The show’s struggles aren’t entirely its own fault: The titular book that it is based on has the same problem. There’s a billion and a half pages of building, and no peak or resolution. Many (myself included) expected this to mean we’d see some interesting show-only developments. Instead, we got this.

Starting up north, poor Stannis (Stephen Dillane) the Mannis has fallen on hard times. He just can’t seem to beat the blizzard, and stupid Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) just snuck in and set fire to all of his tents! That bastard!

It’s interesting, given that it was fire that destroyed the camp, that nobody stood up and said…well…Hey! Melisandre (Carice van Houten), can’t you just put the fires out? Or shouldn’t you be immune to fire? Or something? It seems weird that the thought never crept into anybody’s mind, or if it did, nobody was saying anything.

Stannis sent Davos (Liam Cunningham) away, because, of course, he’s going to kill Shireen (Kerry Ingram). The show has been building up to this with all the subtitle and grace of a bull in a china shop, so it’s a bit weird that people are finding the whole Kentucky Fried Greyscale thing either shocking or surprising.

(Side note: I have no clue where Davos goes from here. Also, where did EVERYONE in Westeros get those wooden, giant war chess pieces? Whoever sold those must be making a killing on all this war planning).

People also seem to be forgetting several key things here. This is the guy who killed his OWN BROTHER, (and other family members, in the books) because he wanted to be king.

Show runners Dan Weiss and David Benioff spoke out about this, and I do think they are right about the magic aspect. As viewers of the show, in our own reality where magic is not real, some people are having a hard time understanding how Stannis can make a decision in support of that magic. But in Westeros, that shit is real.

The only real argument I can get behind is this isn’t going to win Stannis any Friendship Points (TM) with most of the other noble families. This is a society that really looks down upon kinslaying, and well, he just did it. It was also weird that so many of his men were just chilling and watching the whole human pot roast thing.

Yup. He killed his daughter. He’s still the best fit to rule as king. Deal with it.

Also, to the segment of people saying that GRRM will somehow make this plot better, or have it make more sense, because he has magical abilities, give me a fucking break: D&D are trying to clean up the giant mess that is books 4 and 5. Martin isn’t a magician. He’s good at very many things, but not good at just as many. Moving on.

Down south, in Dorne, we had what I’m guessing is the resolution of the murder of everything that is interesting about Dorne and one of the worst plot adaptations the show has done yet.
I thought that sending Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) down to Dorne would bring necessity and a sense of importance to the Dorne quest. Instead it floundered around all season, until this episode, when Doran (Alexander Siddig) decides to just let everybody go back to King’s Landing, as long as Trystane (Toby Sebastian) is given Oberyn’s (Perdo Pascal) old spot on the council.

Even the scene with Ellaria (Indira Varma) and Jaime, which could have been interesting, given that Ellaria was somebody who could actually relate to — and understand — Jaime’s incestuous motivations, fell flat, when she just forgave him because she had to because somebody else told her to because plot.

Also, Myrcella’s (Neil Tiger Free) necklace was stolen, so it wasn’t just a scheme of Cersei’s(Lena Headey), which would have at least made all this a tad bit more interesting. SIGH.
Then again, there’s still room for some twist or turn if everybody doesn’t leave peacefully as planned, but there’s very little reason to hope for anything but that at this point. I’m guessing that’s the last we’ve seen of Dorne this season.

Arya (Maisie Williams) finally found some strand of her plot, with Mace Tyrell (Roger Ashton-Griffiths), Meryn Trant (Ian Beattie), and Mycroft (Mark Gatiss) finally crossing her path.

We got some weird singing stuff from Mace, but I did like how we saw the conversation through Arya, though we did lose out on the important parts. It felt thematic with how the POVs of the books change how we learn certain bits of information, so it works on that level, at least.

Also, Trant is one of those characters that the show seems to have realized people won’t remember or they never did enough to characterize before…so why not just make him a pedophile! Then people will hate him! I still can’t remember for the life of my why show-Arya doesn’t like Trant.

More likely though, Arya is going to sneak into that brothel and be his little whore, and then kill him, and I can already hear the internet whiplash coming now…

And finally, the actual dance with dragons. Dany (Emilia Clarke) and Mereen took center stage for the last chunk of the episode. Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) has certainly gained favor awfully quickly,he already has a seat up on her high dais, right next to The Lorax (Joel Fry).

It was interesting seeing how Dany needed him to understand the Mereen customs (the clapping, it was a very Frodo needing Gandalf’s guidance moment), but of course, like a bad penny (but thankfully not THE bad Penney) Jorah (Iain Glen) turned back up, fighting again for his redemption arc.

The indecision was ripe on Dany’s face. If her people are blood thirsty, does she give them blood to drink? Does she save Jorah, who has saved her so many times before?

She didn’t have time to decide, and instead, it’s Jorah who saves Dany again, as a giant Harpy attack starts, which was totally orchestrated by Loraq who sneakily mentioned he was late because he was getting things in order.

(Note: all of the show’s twists this season have been VERY choreographed, so this doesn’t surprise me).

The attack is better than some silly poisoned locusts, but it’s also sloppy, given how, as others have complained as well, the show keeps having people or events happen at exactly the right time right as needed.

Drogon showing up was another such moment, swooping in just when Dany needed him. I didn’t expect Jorah to live out the pit, but he and the rest of camp Dany just sat there, fucked, as they watched the plot fly out of Mereen. Good bye plot! It was nice knowing you!

Usually, each season’s episode 9 is the big turning point, the focal point of a season, with the finales being the aftermath where everybody scrambles to deal with the previous atrocity.

But, if this was the high point of the season, that doesn’t leave much room for episode 10 to improve things, especially when there’s still so many plots left unresolved to jam into one hour next week. Maybe the show is breaking formula, and the finale will bring the thunder, but if not…

May the Mother’s Mercy be upon us all.

Notes & Quotes:

-Re: The preview. Does anybody really think Sansa is going to die?

-lol to the shared lover’s look that Daario (Michiel Huisman) and Jorah shared

-The hanging harpy theme was pretty awesome

-“My father would have liked you.”

-Tyrion’s whole killing speech at the pits

-“Choice is no choice at all.”

-lol to Ellaria pouring her wine out

-“You have a good heart Jon Snow, but it will get us all killed>’

-Oh yeah, there was a small scene with Jon at the wall, but all it did was further make it clear that Olly (Brenock O’Connor) is going to kill Jon, so much show that non-bookers are starting to pick it up. This show WAS great at subtly, once, wasn’t it?

Podcast 84: Nintendo E3 2015 Predictions and a Gold Mario amiibo giveaway!

E3 is right around the corner. What will Nintendo show off? What do Will and Willie HOPE they will show off? Join 8 Bit Awesome for our annual pre-E3 podcast, which has historically been 100% right, 70% of the time.

And of course, this week also features a special Gold Mario giveaway. Listen to the podcast, tweet at us and follow us on Twitter, or like us on Facebook, all for chances to win! The contest is U.S. only.

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Voices of Valyria Episode 18: Game of Thrones “Hardhome” Podcast

Jon battles, and kicks some ass. Dany and Tyrion trade quips back and forth. And Cersei rots in jail. Join in as we discuss everything that happened in the eighth episode of season five, “Hardhome.”

As always, we are starting the first half of the podcast with a Spoiler-Free TV only discussion. Spoilers start at ~43:00.

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“Community” Season 6, Episode 13 “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television” Review

I can’t count the reasons I should stay/one by one they all just fade away

The opening theme song for “Community” (“At Least It Was Here,” by The 88) has become oddly prophetic. One by one, the characters on the show have left, as one by one, each of them finds fewer reasons to stay at Greendale.

This all leads into “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television,” which just may have been the series finale. Nobody is saying if it is or isn’t…yet, and it wouldn’t be the first time the show has seemingly had a series finale and then came back, but this time it feels more ready to leave than it ever has before.

“Community” has always been a show about shows, and about itself, and now it’s almost as if that show has swallowed itself up. It was a near perfect premise: “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television” had all the study group member pitching Abed ideas for a seventh season of the show, if one was to happen.

There were some great scenes here, as each member of the group tried to come up with a reality that fit him or her: Abed’s (Danny Pudi) formula scene, Britta’s (Gillian Bacobs) version of the show, which is the hardest I’ve laughed at “Community” in a long time, the commentary on Annie’s (Alison Brie) dresses, and there’s stuff here, like Abed’s TV speech, that will probably be quoted in TV criticism classes for years. It’s supposed to be fun, remember?

But those laughs rang a little hollow, and did serve as a reminder of earlier seasons of the show. Season 5 has by no means been the show as its best, and it is a little odd for a season that has spent so much time looking back to have a finale that is firmly planted in the future.

It’s also interesting that none of the pitch ideas were really good — or at least good in a way that most fans would want to watch. I have no clue whether that’s a statement that the show (and by extension, Harmon) thinks they are out of ideas, or it was just a presentation of bad ideas no one would want to watch, or maybe that continuing to try to resurrect something that is fading away is a bad idea.

It’s almost as the show is saying it’s ready to go. A seventh season won’t be good. ‘You won’t like it,’ the show is seemingly saying. It’s time to move on.

And even Jeff (Joel McHale), the leader of this rag-tag group of heroes, Jeff, the person who started this study group just to bang Britta, Jeff, who is maybe actually in love with Annie now, Jeff, who goes from quickly hating on Abed’s idea to pitch shows to desperately embracing it, Jeff, it seems, is now ready.

Jeff has been building to this all season, and it’s easy to forget how this show was really a Jeff story from the beginning. All season he’s been worried about everybody leaving, and it’s appropriate that it’s Jeff that drives Annie and Abed to the airport to leave. This started as his story, and ends as his story, as people, just like in life, pass in and out of his story.

But even Jeff, who all season, hasn’t been ready to say goodbye, finally is. This might be goodbye for good (and the fact that we don’t know for sure undercuts that a bit), but at the very least, this could be the note the show ends on, and Harmon finally got a chance to say goodbye to the show in a way he wanted to. He seems ready. The show seems ready.

And maybe it’s time for fans to be ready, too.

Notes & Quotes:

-The end hash tag takes away from that whole idea a bit. It would seem a little mean to dangle #andamovie out there if there was zero hope of it happening. But who knows at this point. I do wish we had a bit of closure one way or the other…but Harmon is keeping radio silence.

-That end tag with the board game was laugh-out-loud hysterical.

-After resisting it all season, we got not one, but two ‘fucks’ this year. Take that NBC! No censors on Yahoo Screen!

-“School’s out, bitches”

-nipple dippers

-“That’s crazy…people used Linked In?”

-“Do you guys think bar scenes always have to start on a billiards shot?”

-“Don’t put a nickel in him.”

-Abed’s whole TV speech

-“This gives me a more solid reason to interact with you.”

-“But not little girl hot.”

-Damn those boring-ass Marvel movies

-“I farted during the 4th one. It’s an inside joke.”

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 8 “Hardhome” Review

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 8 “Hardhome” Review

**Full spoilers for all books and TV episodes.**

Hardhome…more like cold home, AMIRITE?!?

I’ll be here all week.

Each season of “Game of Thrones,” we are usually treated with one big battle scene: the Black Water, last year’s battle at the wall, but this season, it looks to have come an episode early.

But, as always, let’s start at the beginning.

Dany (Emilia Clarke), Jorah (Iain Glen) and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) all walked into a bar…it sounds like the set up for a perfect Westeros joke. Only two of the three survive, as Tyrion’s first duty as advisor to Dany was to get her to kick out Jorah…again.

In a battle of fierce tongue and quotable quotes, Dany and Tyrion traded banter, bonded over both having horrible fathers who are now dead, and tried to determine just if the one was going to be able to play nice with the other.

Tyrion, now eager to stay alive, isn’t above giving Dany the advice she actually needs, which is a good thing, because if there is one thing she desperately needs, its good advice. So far she seems able to put up with his more sharp sentiments, but hopefully she can at least be smart enough to realize what her weaknesses are and that Tyrion compliments those quite well. Hopefully. And maybe one day Tyrion will sit down and write her the novel, “I Didn’t Kill My Father But If I Did Here’s How I Would Have Done It,” by Tyrion.

It’s also worth noting that well yes, Jorah sold out Dany, he was doing it to Varys (Conleth Hill), who Dany now knows was actually working for her all along. I was half expecting him to jump out of some corner somewhere, maybe pull a zipper down and reveal that Dany is just a suit he wears and reveal himself as the man behind the curtain somewhere, but alas. Either way, technically, Jorah didn’t really sell her out, even if he thought he was doing it.

The problem here, is as well as Dany and Tyrion worked together, their characters actually agreeing to work together this easily is a bit of a far jump to make all at once. We have to become plot friends because plot says we have to be friends now because plot plotty plot plot.

Of course, Tyrion and Dany haven’t met yet in the books…so there’s got to be some reason the show moved up their encounter. Or maybe they just did it to get Tyrion out of whiney no-man’s-land.
Also, a brief sentence of silence that he made it to Mereen without any mention of Penny. Hazah!

Meanwhile, Jorah essentially sells himself into slavery, giving up on everything. He’s just the worst kind of ex-boyfriend, isn’t he?
Cersei (Lena Headey) sat in a jail cell and got beat up by a nun. Next.

Arya (Maisie Williams) has now taken on the spirit of Molly Malone, and is strolling around Braavos selling clams and mussels and things of the sort. Her new mission is to kill a corrupt life insurance gambler. Kinda exciting, but also kinda…yawn?

Also, the non-book readers I watch the show with had a very hard time figuring this scene out, the consensus  was that Arya was actually just imagining being the other person while lying, not that the events we really happening. That’s a big misstep on the part of the show if a majority of the viewers also felt that way.

Ok fine, now we’re back to Cersei. Qyburn (Anton Lesser), who now seems to be her only friend, stopped in for a little visit. The most important thing of note here is that Kevan (Ian Gelder) is coming back, which means more of awesome Kevan kicking ass, but also means that Varys could still show up and shoot him full of arrows before the season ends, but that just seems like an untimely end to a character who has barely has a presence this season.

The hope on Cersei’s face when Qyburn mentioned hope though! And her drinking the water from the ground. The show is trying to break her quickly, but I actually wouldn’t mind seeing her really rot and develop down there for a bit.

Also, no shocker, but Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) has stopped eating and is continuing to be totally useless. Shocker.

Back up at Winterfell, Sansa (Sophie Turner) had a little conversation with Theon/Reek (Alfie Allen), which served not much purpose beside making Sansa look like she’s on the way to the dark side ala Ramsay (Iwan Rheon), and also for her to learn that her brothers are really alive after all.

Of course, if I’m a betting man, and I am, this all could be another trick of Ramsay’s. Her brothers ARE alive, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some way for him to twist this into his advantage, and against hers. Maybe Reek slipped up on purpose, and it’s another trap.

Meanwhile, at the Hall of Super Best Friends, Roose (Michael McElhatton) is prepping for Stannis (Stephen Dillane) to show up, but Ramsay seems certain he can handle the army by himself with 20 men. Fuck 300. Just 20.

Sam (John Bradley) and Gilly (Hannah Murray) had a scene, but more importantly I’ve come up with a new nickname for the pair of them. Silly. Sam+Gilly. Mostly because their plot is silly, but it works on so many other levels.

Sure, I guess Olly and Sam’s (Brenock O’Connor) scene might have had a little more importance there, but it mostly felt like an odd scene where the show was trying to explain again how much we should agree with Jon (Kit Harington) because Jon is making the right decision and all that jazz.

But, it also seems pretty blatant foreshadowing now that Olly is going to be the one to stab Jon. Or maybe he wants to play death match-maker for Jon and Ygritte (Rose leslie)? Either way, looks like that’s how that whole thing is going to play out, at any rate.

The rest of the episode focused on Jon up at Hardhome. There was some great stuff here, but it also was a really long time to spend up north, and we had to wade through a lot of the same back-and-forth we just had at the Wall, just now with the Wildings, to get to it.

Also, I’m not the only one who thought Jon was introducing himself to an AA meeting, was I?

Of course, in another instance of “Hey it’s a TV show lets have things not happen organically,” the White Walkers just HAPPENED to attack as Jon and his new Wilding friends just as they were above to leave. HAPPENSTANCE.

What resulted was one of the show’s better battle scenes, even if it was up North, just like last year’s, and it was hard to tell exactly where it was in relation to the fighting everybody and the walls and all that important stuff. The set up for a scene like this is especially important, even more so in snow, and it was hard to get a good sense of where everybody was in relation to the boats and the Walkers and the town (I thought the gate shut out and killed everybody on the boats, at first). It was easy to get lost, and a few couple set-up shots could have solved that easily.

Showing Longclaw in the opening may have been a little TOO on the nose for Valyrian steel to have the power to defeat White Walkers, which is of course new ground that the books haven’t confirmed yet. But Jon beating one was pretty BA. Take that Sam the Slayer! Jon just one-upped you again!

(Imagery alert: The White Walker walking into the cabin, surrounded with flames, but being covered in ice. It’s almost like it was a song of ice and fire).

We also got a glimpse at the re-animaton process, and it was good to see the show put some focus back on the larger issue here. This army is coming, and it’s pretty much unstoppable and is only getting stronger.

My favorite comment of the night from the non-bookers was how maybe Jon will die, but only because they were sure he won’t die in the books but maybe the TV show will kill him to change it up. THEY KNOW NOTHING ABOUT JON SNOW. And it’s great.

All in all, “Hardhome” was a pretty good episode, though it was still an overly weighty episode and suffered structurally: Cesei’s scenes were oddly cut up, the Wall section at the ended could have used a good trimming, and several of the plot points seem content to just twiddle their thumbs until the finale. But, Dany and Tyrion’s quip show  was quite enjoyable, and Hardhome was a pretty awesome fight scene. And any day the show can give book readers a little sliver of new info, well, that makes for exciting ground as well.

Note & Quotes:

-The White Walker screech sounded way too much like the Nazgul. The comparison is already there without forcing it another notch.

-“Greatest Lannister killer of all time.”

-“Too soon to know if you deserve my service.”

-“Killing and politics aren’t always the same thing.”

-“A ruler who kills those…”

-“It’s what your father would have done.”

-“I’m not going to stop the wheel, I’m going to break the wheel.”

-“Fuck em, their dead.”

-“Never trust a man in black.”

-We finally got episode ten’s title! “The Mother’s Mercy.” Could a certain mother return that episode? PLEASE LET IT BE SO.

-No Dorne, as an awesome land continues to be quite disserviced by the show.