mark cerqueira well-rounded nerd

Grandia HD Collection Finally, Finally, Finally Has a Release Date

After months of teasers and announcements of everything except a release date, GungHo finally delivered on giving us a release date for the Grandia HD Collection: 10 days from today on August 16th! This collection releasing on the Switch and PC includes Grandia and Grandia II.

This is an easy must-buy for me especially since it’s coming to the Switch. Grandia II is one of my favorite JRPGs: the story, the characters, the music, the battle system, the creepy laughs during that one battle, Sky Dragon Slash - it’s all so good! Playing through the original Grandia has also been on my todo list for a while so I’m looking forward to diving into it next Friday.

If you’re looking for a great JRPG experience to sink your teeth into, I cannot recommend Grandia enough!

P.S. Speaking of great JRPGs that were on the Dreamcast, can we please get Skies of Arcadia again!?

July Fantasy and Science Fiction Reading Blitz

Given it’s been a few months filled with exclusively leadership and management book reading, I focused on fun reading in July.

  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro - Fun reading was the goal of July but this book was far from fun, but this book ended up being devastating and heartbreaking. Although it’s a dystopian science fiction story, this book doesn’t really read like science fiction. It’s set in our world, leveraging burgeoning technology, but crossing a moral and ethical boundary we have not yet chosen to cross. The great thing about the flavor of science fiction in this book is you don’t need lightspeed rocket ships or aliens to put characters in extraordinary situations that cause the reader to pause and reflect on their own life and world.

  • Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky - This page-turner follows two mostly separate but intertwined story arcs: humans looking for a new planet to inhabit after destroying Earth (hits too close to home right now) and spiders living on an alien planet (that looks mightily enticing for aforementioned humans) who are evolving at an incredibly rapid pace because of a nanovirus introduced by humans in the past. Things come to a head eventually in a fantastic and unexpected conclusion. If you’re not an arachnophobe or a fan of intelligent design this novel is worth checking out.

  • Redemption of Time by Baoshu - This was originally fanfiction to the absolutely fantastic The Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy that somehow got picked up by the original author, Cixin Liu, who gave his permission for this to be published. Redemption of Time picks up where the trilogy left off and helps fill some of the gaps like the time AA and Yun Tianming spend on the Planet Blue and Yun Tianming’s time amongst the Trisolarans. It introduces some new story elements that I found a bit much but ultimately the book does a great (and clever) job of leaving me more satisfied with the universe Liu wove. If you loved the original trilogy, I’d recommend checking this one out.

  • The Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin - I adored Jemisin’s The Broken Earth trilogy - a story about a world afflicted by random apocalyptic seasons. In The Inheritance Trilogy Jemisin creates a universe inhabited by gods mingling among humans and douses the story with conflict amongst humans, gods, and everything between. Each entry in the trilogy (including the novella fourth entry The Awakened Kingdom) is told from the perspective of a different character giving Jemisin plenty of berth to flex her writing prowess. I really enjoyed every story and learning more about the world of this series. The Broken Earth is still a stronger series in my opinion, but The Inheritance Trilogy is still a fantastic series that any fan of fantasy literature should read.

And that was my July in a nutshell: buried in books when not at work! Fire Emblem: Three Houses came out last week so I don’t think there’s going to be much reading in the coming months! 😅

Cadence of Hyrule

Some say Avengers: Endgame is the greatest crossover of all time, but Cadence of Hyrule - an unlikely mash-up between the indie roguelike rhythm game Crypt of the NecroDancer and the Legend of Zelda - is definitely in the running in my book.

Music-themed baddies

The game visually looks like A Link to the Past (one of my favorite Zelda games) and has an absolutely amazing soundtrack. Candence of Hyrule is a short romp: it took me six hours to complete. It even has a leaderboard for speedruns; someone has beaten the game in under seventeen minutes! If you want to do a speedrun against a friend you can even input a seed to get the same map.

My procedurally generated Hyrule

The overworld (procedurally generated) isn’t huge and there are only five main dungeons. While it is a roguelike once you get a longsword and some health potions it’s almost impossible to die. And while it’s a rhythm game you can disable the rhythm stuff or you can just suck it up and eventually you won’t be nearly as bad as you’re imagining.

Bass guitar power

Overall, for a game that literally came out of no where, I’m massively, massively impressed with this game. I would’ve love to have something a little meatier, especially at the $24.99 price-point, but this was a no-regrets purchase and I highly recommend this game to anyone who is into The Legend of Zelda.

Manager Reads - Elegant Puzzle - Systems of Engineering Management

This Manager Reads episode is still cooking. Check back soon!

Enjoyed this episode of Manager Reads? Check out more in the Manager Reads corner!

Anime and Movie Blitz - Spring 2019

It’s that time again… Time to plow through anime and movies I’ve been meaning to watch but haven’t gotten around to yet. Here is a list of what I’ve watched these past few weeks and thoughts on them.

  • Mob Psycho 100 - Season 2 - Fantastic! The first season of this show was great and this season is even better.

  • Overlord - Season 3 - I really enjoyed the first season of Overlord and was disappointed with the second season. The third season isn’t as bad as the second, but certainly doesn’t have the magic of the first season. What is this anime aiming for? The overarching plot advances so little in this season and so many side-stories that go absolutely no where are covered. If a fourth season happens, I’ll definitely be reading reviews before checking it out because this series seems to have turned sour.

  • Sword Art Online - Alicization - Sword Art Online gets a lot of hate but it’s a reliable and fun series to watch. This season (the first half of the larger Alicization arc) was just that: fun and enjoyable. It’s still jam-packed with anime tropes but it was refreshing to have a deuteragonist, Eugeo, in this season to shift focus away from Kirito. I can’t wait for the second cour - coming in Fall 2019 - to continue this arc.

  • Us - A great sophomore entry from Jordan Peele. This one is significantly more layered and nuanced compared to Get Out and had me on the edge of my seat from the get-go. I started getting inklings of the plot twist when Red and Adelaide’s families were gathered in the living room.

  • A Silent Voice - This movie is highly rated on MyAnimeList but I don’t think this movie is that great. It had its moments and the art style and animations are great. But the movie props itself up with heavy topics - deafness and bullying - and it doesn’t treat them with the respect and gravitas both deserve.

  • Always Be My Maybe - My wife and I are huge fans of Ali Wong’s Netflix specials so when this rom-com came out we jumped on it immediately. While the plot is straightforward and predictable, this movie is hilarious and very well done.

  • Sword Art Online - Ordinal Scale - Ordinal Scale is a movie that serves as a segue between the Gun Gale Online arc and Alicization arc. I screwed up and watched Alicization before this movie but it’s no big deal. This movie is Sword Art Online through and through: lots of fawning over Kirito, nothing groundbreaking, but an entertaining watch.

  • The Rising of the Shield Hero - An otherwise great anime marred with some questionable plot threads early on in the season. The isekai genre has become inundated since Sword Art Online but this series sets itself apart in a crowded field. This season is still ongoing and I’m looking forward to wrapping it up.

There’s a ton more to watch but it’ll have to wait for next time! 👋