Natasha McNeely's Author Blog

Never stop dreaming, 'cause the day you stop dreaming, is the day you stop living.


What are your favorite meaningful quotes?

English: Final Fantasy wordmark created using ...

Photo credit: Wikipedia

“You don’t need a reason to help people.” – Zidane Tribal, Final Fantasy IX

My favorite game of all time, for the record – and I’ve played a lot of it this past week. There are so many meaningful messages in the game, and this is one you can see before even selecting New Game. There are many more, but I’ll just leave this one here for today.

Food for thought.

Help a person today. Just because you can.

What do you think about the quote? For that matter, what are quotes you think are meaningful? Share them in the comments!

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Review: Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance

It’s no secret to my friends and family that I love Disney movies and love good RPGs. I’ve played games like Final Fantasy for over a decade and I’m always willing to spend time playing a good game. The Kingdom Hearts series never fails to keep me entertained. I got Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance for my birthday and have played it a lot these past few days. I just finished it last night. So, what better way to share my opinion than through a review? Here goes.

Played on: Beginner Mode.

Didn’t: Beat optional bosses, get 100% collectibles.

This review focuses mostly on the story, gameplay, and characters.

Kingdom Hearts 3DRating: 4,5/5 stars

This game does something fans have waited for, for years – it advances the plot. After several games that include spinoffs and prequels, fans have been anxiously awaiting Kingdom Hearts 3. While this isn’t that, it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

In Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, we get to play as both Sora and Riku. This is reminiscent of Chain of Memories, but in contrast, the fighting style is more in-tune with other Kingdom Hearts games. I enjoyed playing as both characters and it was a lot of fun to see Riku’s side of things. He’s an interesting character and it’s obvious that over the course of the past games, he has developed quite a bit as a person.

We get to see a lot of old characters and enjoy the journey through various worlds that are new to the Kingdom Hearts series. The amount you can see in these worlds, and the amount of treasure you can find, is astounding. There are some sneaky places with hidden treasure chests and it’s a lot of fun to hunt them down and to try to get that treasure percentage per world up as high as you can get it.

The gameplay is smooth, the fights are fun, and I adore the dream eaters. It’s cool and creative and I admit, I probably spent more time than I should have training them – and yet I only used a handful of different ones. I’ll need to expand my team more in my next play-through. The drop system was surprisingly less of a hassle than I thought it would be; I got used to it very quickly and didn’t have much of a problem with it.

The story amazed me. I’m not ashamed to admit that my jaw dropped several times during cut-scenes and I may have also squealed during some. The plot drew me in and as it developed, my dislike of some characters grew, as did my admiration for some of the other characters. Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance opens a lot of doors for future installments in the series and I’m looking forward to seeing it progress.

One thing that bothered me was that the game was shorter than other games in the series. It’s not a huge problem, but it was something that felt very obvious to me. In most other Kingdom Hearts games, you visit each world two times. In this game, that wasn’t built into the plot (for obvious reasons). It’s still a great game and I’ll play it again. I finished in 21,5 hours – and keep in mind that was on Beginner Mode, without fighting optional bosses, and without 100% completion. More like 52%, actually.

I’ll be playing through it again on Normal Mode soon and will aspire to collect everything I possible can then. Something tells me that it’ll take me a bit longer than 21,5 hours, next time.

Half a star knocked off for length, but otherwise, this is a brilliant game and I foresee myself having a lot more fun with it in my future! Definitely worth picking up if you’re a fan of the series.


Video games: Why can writers learn from them?

Most people have played at least one video game before. There are so many different types of games, and my personal favorites are RPG’s. Why is that? Because they have amazing plots and wonderful characters, in-depth worlds and overall, that ties together to make a great game.

And story.

All of the things that make a great RPG, make a great novel.

I would recommend taking a look at a couple roleplaying games. There are popular ones that fit all the above, such as the Final Fantasy series, or lesser known series, such as the Persona series, particularly games three and four. Of course, there are plenty of other games that are great when it comes to everything I mentioned above, but these are two that I would personally recommend.

Let’s take a deeper look at similarities between games and books, shall we?

  1. Characters
    Characters are one of the most essential parts of any book. The readers follow along their story and live through their trying journey with them. Readers feel their emotions, their pain, and all the sorrow life puts them through, as well as the joy. In games, characters change over the course of the game as plot points are revealed. They develop. In books, that is what writers must create: Developing characters who readers enjoying following and root for.
  2. Plot
    Another important part of any novel is the plot. What happens? The protagonist finds out that they’re the last in the line of mages, bad guys come after the main character to kill him/her or force him/her to help them in their quest to take over the world. Base plotline. Throw in some trials along the way. An epic battle, the death of the character’s best friend; all these things bring life to the tale and make readers even more attached to the character. Games often do this well.
  3. Worlds
    So, you’ve got your mage, your bad guys, and your sidekicks. What else? Paint a picture for the readers. Now that you have essentials that are in the world, you need the world itself. What is the history of this world? For example, how were the mages wiped out? While mentioning specific historical events, tell readers about the world. Is it filled with lush forests, scattered islands, or dangerous deserts? Let readers know the more intricate details, even things like social structure in their society. These details tie everything else together.

So, the next time you intend to play a game, take a more mindful look at these aspects. You’ll be amazed what you can find and learn from video games, that you can turn around and use for writing your novel, short stories, or plays.

After all, there’s a reason the video game industry needs writers.

What do you think about the ties between video games and books? Is there any game you would recommend for the above-mentioned points? Share them!


Life in France: 16 + 17

Day 16, October 9th

To mark the halfway point of my time in France, I decided to have a day filled with nothing but relaxation. This means that I stayed in the apartment, played Final Fantasy IV and overall, just spent time chatting with friends online and all that fun stuff.

It’s also the reason I didn’t blog yesterday – to enjoy the relaxation.

Aside from that, nothing happened. It was a normal, well-spent day of peace.

Day 17, October 10th

Worked passed easily enough, like any other day. What happened after work, however – horrible.

I found this little critter during my lunch break! That makes three - I still demand a Mario reference!

6:30 pm.

I wanted to go to the mall to get something to cook for dinner, since Melanie would be exercising with a friend. She gave me directions and I left. The directions: First left, then straight, straight, straight and more straight.

I couldn’t find it, so I headed back to the apartment. By the time I found the apartment, I walked towards it from the opposite sideof the side I left from – talk about a detour. Having figured out where I was, I tried one more time, then after fifteen minutes of walking headed back.

Luckily, I remembered the way back that time. I entered the apartment, grabbed my month-ticket for the tram and walked ten minutes to the nearest stop, rode fifteen minutes to the city center, headed over to Subway, bought food, walked back, another fifteen minute ride, ten minute walk and then made it into the apartment at 09:00 pm.

By that time, all I wanted to do was have my dinner, so I ate. The last I had eaten was at 12:30 during my break.

Needless to say, that was an… eventful evening. Not one I’d like to repeat.

Melanie said she’ll walk with me to the mall tomorrow.

That sounds like a plan.


Life in France: Day 15

Day 15, October 8th

I didn’t crawl out of bed until it was almost noon, today. It seems like sleep got a hold of me and wouldn’t relent – not that I’m complaining. Needless to say, it’s been a relaxing day.

A picture taken during my tour around town today.

I went into the town center and looked around in some shops. Honestly, I should have stayed away from the bookstore. I need to stay away from it for the rest of my time in France; it’s bad for money. Very, very bad.

I left the store with eight books.

They had restocked with some of the Popular Penguin Classics, each priced at a measly 2,56 euros. I got seven classics and one non-classic, namely Stephen King’s Full Dark, No Stars, which was 8,25. As for a list of the classics I bought, here it is:

Eight books for roughly 25 bucks. I’m not complaining – I’m ecstatic!

Although it did disappoint me when I found out they didn’t have Dracula. I still need to get around to reading it, but perhaps another time, another place. I’ll get my hands on a copy soon enough.

The Stephen King book is because I’ve wanted to read his works for years now, but never bought a book. Now, I have my first ever Stephen King novel! It’s time to take my first look at the horrifying depths of his tales.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories about Sherlock Holmes are another I’ve wanted to read, Alice is classic memories, Shakespeare speaks for itself, and older stories like Frankenstein and Dracula are ones I’ve been dying to get my hands on. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was more of a random buy; I’ve heard of it, never looked into it, but it sounded interesting after reading the synopsis.

I have reading material I’m dying to dive into soon; I’m extremely happy with my finds and the prices I got them for. But first, it’s time to go play some Final Fantasy IV. I’ve been dying to all day for whatever reason; I’d better kick back and relax with some awesome Final Fantasy music and a great game, then.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll sneak some reading in.