Book Review: ‘Düngeonmeister: 75 Epic RPG Cocktail Recipes to Shake Up Your Campaign’ by Jef Aldrich, Jon Taylor

I came across this kind of randomly and decided to check it out because it looked kind of neat and I’m always interested in new cocktail recipes.

I like that the book is designed and organized like an old Dungeons & Dragons guide. The art for the cocktails, as opposed to photos, was pretty cool and fit the overall aesthetic well.

At a party, friends and I decided to make a bunch of the stuff that we had ingredients for. Most of it was pretty good and there are a lot of recipes here.

However, if you have bartending experience, there are some recipes of classic cocktails that just have their names changed and sometimes a slight difference in ingredients. 

Nothing that I tried was mind-blowing but this was still a neat little book and a cool concept.

Rating: 7/10

Comic Review: Dungeons & Dragons: Evil at Baldur’s Gate

Published: November 21st, 2018
Written by: Jim Zub
Art by: Ramon F. Bachs, Steven Cummings, Dean Kotz, Francesco Mortarino, Harvey Tolibao
Based on: Dungeons & Dragons by TSR

IDW Publishing, 120 Pages

Review:

I probably stated this in my review of the previous Baldur’s Gate comic but man, Jim Zub really knows how to write great fantasy comics. Especially, those that deal with a group of characters with very different personalities that have great camaraderie and chemistry.

Also, Zub’s fantasy stories are just fun and action-packed. Evil at Baldur’s Gate is no different and it also reunites the group from the previous Baldur’s Gate story.

Overall, I didn’t like this as much as the first one but this felt like more of an anthology, as the group members had their own separate stories until it all came together at the end. The multiple subplots were still entertaining but I really wanted to see these characters go on a real adventure with each other from start-to-finish, after they were established as allies in the previous tale.

Additionally, the artists changed from issue-to-issue, which is fine but it did make the comic feels less cohesive, even if the styles did match up fairly well. However, it’s something I noticed and with that, it did take me out of the story.

Still, this was energetic and enthralling. It just made me further appreciate the heart Zub puts into his stories and it made me like these characters even more.

Rating: 7/10

Video Game Review: Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow Over Mystara (Arcade)

I really dug the hell out of the Dungeons & Dragons arcade game, Tower of Doom. That one felt like it was greatly inspired by the awesome Golden Axe series, except they really expanded on what those games did and created something with more diverse enemies, great looking levels and multiple paths to reach the end.

This game, Shadow Over Mystara, is a direct sequel to Tower of Doom and with that, was created in the same style on what I would assume was the same engine. It reuses elements of the previous game but also expands further, making this one hell of a fun experience to play.

Additionally, there are so many character choices you can play as in this game. Even just experimenting with them all as you progress is a lot of fun. Each character has its own set of pros and cons like a regular table top Dungeons & Dragons campaign should.

Furthermore, the game is chock full of so many baddies of various types. The boss battles are also a lot of fun and simply progressing through this game gives you a good sense of accomplishment.

This is just a really great game and while it does take a good amount of time to beat for an arcade beat’em up, the time flies by pretty swiftly.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: its predecessor, as well as the Golden Axe games and Altered Beast.

Video Game Review: Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom (Arcade)

I had no idea that there were Dungeons & Dragons arcade games until I came across them on my RetroPie. It looks like there are two that I have on there. I started with this one because it looks like it came out first.

This is probably something I missed because it came out around the time that the massive arcade near my house closed down. I also moved to a much smaller town right after that and having a vast array of arcade games at my disposal became a thing of the past.

Anyway, this reminds me a lot of the Golden Axe series of games. However, it gives you more character types to choose from and it has multiple paths you can take to reach the end of the game.

I thought that the graphics and sound were solid, as were the game’s controls and general mechanics.

Man, this was a lot of fun and it also featured a ton of neat, unique bosses that were fun to fight.

In fact, nothing in this game was really frustrating except for the length, as I felt like I was playing this for hours. There’s no way I would’ve had the money or time to beat this in the arcade, back in the day.

Overall, this was a really fun and badass gaming experience. This is certainly something I will come back to over the many years I have left on Earth.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: the Golden Axe games, as well as Altered Beast.

Comic Review: Dungeons & Dragons: Legends of Baldur’s Gate

Published: May 27th, 2015
Written by: Jim Zub
Art by: Max Dunbar, Sarah Stone
Based on: Dungeons & Dragons by TSR

IDW Publishing, 130 Pages

Review:

This is the first modern Dungeons & Dragons comic that I’ve read that didn’t feature Drizzt Do’Urden. Apart from those stories, which I have already reviewed, this is the first D&D comic I’ve picked up since some of the classic issues from my childhood.

The main reason for me checking out this one before some of the others was due to it being written by Jim Zub. I like Zub’s writing, especially in regards to fantasy and sword and sorcery type tales.

So I wasn’t disappointed and I liked this quite a bit.

Mostly, I really liked these characters and the bond they develop over this story, as they form a team of heroes that has to stop an evil sorcerer from doing evil sorcerer things.

After finishing this, I hoped there would be more comic stories with these characters. I’m not 100 percent sure if there are but I’ll seek them out if they exist.

Zub brought his A-game, here, and I love how he creates a real sense of camaraderie between his characters. He also writes in a way where you can tell he enjoys his work and crafting stories in these sort of settings. Frankly, it’s kind of infectious and with that, makes you want to keep supporting the guy.

Anyway, this was a pretty fun and cool read. It left me wanting more and that’s what a comic book story should do.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other Dungeons & Dragons comics, as well as fantasy adventure comics written by Jim Zub.

Comic Review: Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms – The Legend of Drizzt, Vol. 6: The Halfling’s Gem

Published: May 3rd, 2017
Written by: Andrew Dabb, R.A. Salvatore
Art by: Tim Seeley
Based on: Dungeons & Dragons by TSR, characters by R.A. Salvatore

IDW Publishing, 135 Pages

Review:

So I have arrived at the final chapter of the six Drizzt Do’Urden trade paperbacks. The series started out a bit murky but picked up steam with the third volume and then got really great by the fourth. The fifth was damn enjoyable and this one was also pretty cool, even if it wasn’t as good as the two chapters before it.

Still, this was a good, fitting conclusion to the series, even though it does leave things open for more. In fact, I know that there was another one-off Drizzt Do’Urden trade paperback that was released after these six original stories.

For readers who have stuck around this long, this is a pretty worthwhile tale.

It starts with the team of heroes we’ve grown to love being separated. However, over the course of the story, they find one another and come to realize that they’re sort of a family. Ultimately, they have to fight once again in an effort to save themselves and vanquish evil. Sure, that may sound fairly generic in the realm of a Dungeons & Dragons story but with characters this cool and this complex, you don’t really care too much about it feeling like it’s leaning hard into certain tropes of the genre.

The story moves at a good pace, it has a lot of subplots that are well-balanced but converge in a satisfying way and it leaves you with a pretty good ending, overall.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other Dungeons & Dragons comics, specifically those with the Forgotten Realms banner and more specifically, those featuring Drizzt Do’Urden.

Comic Review: Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms – The Legend of Drizzt, Vol. 5: Streams of Silver

Published: October 12th, 2016
Written by: Andrew Dabb, R.A. Salvatore
Art by: Val Semeiks, Tyler Walpole
Based on: Dungeons & Dragons by TSR, characters by R.A. Salvatore

IDW Publishing, 136 Pages

Review:

The fifth of the six Drizzt Do’Urden comic books stories picks up where the fourth one left off. If you read my review for that one, you already know how much I liked it, after starting to lose a bit of faith in this series after the first three entries.

I had high hopes for this series before starting due to how popular the character of Drizzt Do’Urden is and because I’ve heard great things about his literary stories.

While I didn’t like this one as much as the fourth, it’s still damn good and made me excited for the sixth and final installment.

In this one, we see Drizzt and his allies travel a great distance on a new adventure after having just survived a war in volume four. He has his enemies in hot pursuit and draws the ire of another baddie, who forces an alliance with the evil man trying to hunt Drizzt down.

So the villains form a group to rival Drizzt and his allies and the stakes and danger are pretty high. I like that this had an unstoppable golem in it, which had to be outsmarted and taken out of the picture because you can’t actually kill it.

This story ends badly and not every hero comes away unscathed. Drizzt loses allies and it sets up what should be a worthwhile and heavy-hitting finale.

Shit, I got this far and didn’t even talk about the heroes having to fight a big ass dragon that’s hoarding treasure.

There’s just a lot of cool stuff in this volume and there isn’t a single page that’s a bore.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: other Dungeons & Dragons comics, specifically those with the Forgotten Realms banner and more specifically, those featuring Drizzt Do’Urden.

Comic Review: Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms – The Legend of Drizzt, Vol. 4: The Crystal Shard

Published: June 29th, 2016
Written by: Andrew Dabb, R.A. Salvatore
Art by: Val Semeiks, Tyler Walpole
Based on: Dungeons & Dragons by TSR, characters by R.A. Salvatore

IDW Publishing, 135 Pages

Review:

Finally! This is the Drizzt Do’Urden comic book story I had been waiting for! This one pretty much lives up to the hype I’ve heard about this character for years and I enjoyed it quite a bit.

The story is my favorite in the comic book adaptations of R.A. Salvatore’s iconic novels, as it is really the first truly epic tale featuring the dark elf.

The main story in this surrounds a war between a network or small villages and a growing, tyrannical empire led by a wizard with a powerful crystal shard that gives him immense power and control of a powerful demon.

We also get to see the expansion of this universe, as new core characters are introduced and the politics of this part of the world take shape.

This obviously features Drizzt Do’Urden but it also gives the reader their first experience with another great Forgotten Realms character, the warrior Wulfgar. This also serves as his origin story, which was surprisingly good. In fact, I’d call it damn good.

The art also looks much better in this volume and this started to feel more like the better Conan comics, tonally and quality-wise, than something that looked overly indie. And I don’t mean that as a knock against indie comics, as obviously I’ve loved and reviewed many, but the art of the first three volumes was below the standard I felt these stories deserved.

This series was losing steam with me but now I am reinvigorated and pretty excited to read the final two volumes following this one. 

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: other Dungeons & Dragons comics, specifically those with the Forgotten Realms banner and more specifically, those featuring Drizzt Do’Urden.

Film Review: Dungeons & Dragons (2000)

Also known as: Dungeons & Dragons: The Movie (UK promotional title)
Release Date: December 8th, 2000
Directed by: Courtney Solomon
Written by: Carroll Cartwright, Topper Lilien
Based on: Dungeons & Dragons by TSR
Music by: Justin Caine Burnett
Cast: Justin Whalin, Marlon Wayans, Thora Birch, Zoe McLellan, Kristen Wilson, Lee Arenberg, Bruce Payne, Jeremy Irons, Tom Baker

Silver Pictures, Sweetpea Entertainment, New Line Cinema, 107 Minutes

Review:

“I got a new name for “dumb”: “Ridley”! This is the Ridleyest thing I’ve ever heard!” – Snails

I never wanted to see this. When I saw the trailer over twenty years ago, I knew for a fact that this would bomb, be an embarrassment and that we’d possibly never get another Dungeons & Dragons film because of its shittiness.

Let me be clear, I wasn’t cheering for its failure because I’d definitely love a good D&D movie that features some of the most famous monsters and better represents the game but I knew this movie wasn’t that.

Granted, it does form a team of heroes that are all different with unique skills. So it at least tried to create a good party of diverse character types. However, other than that, it failed in just about every other way. Also, the party didn’t really get used in the story correctly or all that effectively.

The worst thing about this movie is the special effects. The CGI is some of the worst I’ve ever seen from this era. It’s worse than Sci-Fi Channel TV movies and considering that New Line Cinema, the same studio, released the first Lord of the Rings movie just a year later, makes this picture a complete embarrassment.

Even if smaller indie studios made this and New Line just distributed it, it’s still baffling to me. If their thought was to use this to whet the public’s palate for the upcoming Lord of the Rings trilogy, that was an awful decision.

Beyond the atrocious CGI, the acting in this is also terrible. There are fairly talented people in the movie but none of them really tried except for Jeremy Irons, who was the best thing in this movie, as far as acting goes.

Some of the sets were actually cool. I liked the labyrinth that Justin Whalin’s character had to try and survive. It was about the only enjoyable sequence in the entire film, though.

Dungeons & Dragons was just a fucking mess. It had annoying, unlikable characters. As well as, an overabundance of unnecessary silliness that helped make it miss its mark completely.

Rating: 2.75/10
Pairs well with: really bad video game film adaptations.