Sansa’s Lemon Cakes

I recently tried the Elizabethan Lemon Cake recipe out of A Feast of Ice and Fire and they came out extremely dry. So I made some modifications to the recipe and I figured I’d share what I did. This recipe is quick, easy, and delicious. These Lemon Cakes are modeled after the ones that Sansa loves so much in Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire, albeit they are more like cookies than cakes. This recipe makes about 16 Lemon Cakes.



2 cups granulated sugar

6 tablespoons butter

1 egg

2 egg yolks

1/4 cup milk

1/2 lemon, juiced

2 lemons worth of zest

2 1/2 cups flour


1/3 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 tablespoon milk


Preheat the oven to 350° F. Prepare 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Melt the butter and combine with the granulated sugar. Add in the egg, egg yolks, and milk and mix thoroughly. Grate the lemon zest into the batter and juice half of a lemon into the mixture as well. Stir until everything is completely combined. Add in the flour and mix until it becomes a consistent dough. Form balls of dough about 1 inch in diameter and spread them across the baking sheets. The dough might be a little sticky, but if it is too sticky to handle add in a little bit more flour. Bake in 350° F oven for about 16 minutes.

While they are baking, make the icing. Combine confectioner’s sugar and milk and mix until it becomes thick. After the cakes come out of the oven, let them cool for about 15 minutes. Brush on the icing after the cakes are cool, if you are bit more artistic than I am you could drizzle the icing on to make some pretty designs. Let the icing setup on the cakes for about 10 minutes and they will be ready to eat.





Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (2004)

Echoes is the second game in the loved Metroid Prime trilogy, and it continues to build upon what is loved about the franchise. Echoes remained true to what the original Metroid Prime was, but at the same time it had plenty of new features and it created a memorable experience. Some of these new features and changes were welcome additions, but others did fall flat. Echoes was a fun game, but unfortunately there were many nagging issues that makes the game so much less enjoyable and inferior to the original Metroid Prime. That being said, there were plenty of enjoyable sections and pieces that make Echoes a game worth playing.

The basic concepts and gameplay of Echoes are the same as the original Metroid Prime. You explore an alien planet, collect upgrades, kill hostiles, defeat bosses, and learn what has been happening on that planet. There is an interesting twist though, the planet of Aether has been split into two forms: the Light Aether which is just the normal planet inhabited by alien Luminoth, and the Dark Aether which a dark and dangerous version of Aether inhabited by the Ing. The Luminoth and the Ing are at war and you must help the last few Luminoth by restoring energy to their temples and defeating the Ing. The split worlds concept was great;  I believe travelling in between these two worlds and seeing how different each room or area was was definitely interesting. I did have some issues with the Dark Aether though. Such a large chunk of the Echoes was spent in the Dark Aether, but it was all the same. Regardless of what part of the world I was in, everything was black and purple, and the same couple of enemies were reused ad nauseum. Another frustrating feature was how the air was toxic so you have to quickly move between protective bubbles. This is meant to show how hostile and dangerous the Dark Aether is, but unfortunately it just gets frustrating after awhile. In a series like Metroid players should not be punished for exploring the world, but the poisonous air does exactly that. Travelling between the Light Aether and Dark Aether was a good concept, as it did allow some extra depth when exploring the world, and it also allowed for some inter-dimensional puzzles; I just wish the Dark Aether was as well fleshed-out as the Light Aether was.

One of the biggest draws to the Metroid Prime series is the atmosphere and the environments that are created. Echoes continues this trend as it had some fantastically unique areas. The game really builds interesting landscapes such as the ruinous and hostile Agon Wastes, or the rainy and dreary Torvus Bog. Sanctuary Fortress is possibly one of my favorite video game areas ever, the autonomous citadel filled with robots and defense systems was really a joy to explore. The music and visuals created cohesive environments that I could just sit back and admire. The logbook entries, the enemies, and the bosses also matched up to what the environment was to further immerse the player in the experience. Seeing a giant broken down robot in the Light Aether become possessed and hostile in the Dark Aether is just an idea of the cohesiveness and how the two worlds were designed with each other in mind. Also, Aether actually feels like a war torn planet. There are dead Luminoth and Federation soldiers strewn across the world. Aether really feels like it is in ruins and you are the one to save it.

My biggest gripe with Echoes was the quality of the enemies. While the original Metroid Prime did have some enemies that were frustrating, they were not near as bad as some of the enemies in Echoes. Rezbits, Grenchlers, Hunter Ing, and the Boost Guardian were all particularly annoying. They had tons of health that took awhile to burn through, but they also frequently went invulnerable and just forced you to wait to shoot them. The worst offender of this however was the Dark Pirate Commandos. They are like the Chozo Ghosts from Metroid Prime but on steroids. They dash around the map, turn invisible, have tons of health, but the worst part is that they lock the doors so you are forced to fight them if you want to progress. In general, most of the enemies in this game just have too much health. Despite the frustrating enemies, I think most of the bosses were fantastic. They are a great mix of standard combat as well as puzzle solving.

With a new world, comes a new set of upgrades for Samus Aran. There a quite a few changes just at the start of the game. The Scanning Visor was made much easier to use, as now all scan-able objects are highlighted colors to show if they are used for progression or just informational, and if the object is green that means that it has been scanned previously. Samus also gets to keep a few things like the Charge Beam and the Morph Ball at the start of the game. I liked this as I had grown accustomed to using these features a lot throughout the first Metroid Prime, so I appreciated the fact that I did not have reacquire them. The new set of beams are the Dark Beam, Light Beam, and Annihilator. I did not get much use out of them as they unfortunately have limited ammo that you need to replenish. I really did not want to play around with them too much in fear that I would not have enough ammo for an enemy or door that required that specific beam.  The ammo system for the different beams was really frustrating as it discouraged using the beams unless it was necessary. The Annihilator was really fun to use but I barely got to use it as it comes at the very end of the game and it is extremely expensive to use.

All in all, I feel Echoes is a good sequel to Metroid Prime as it continues to use most of what made it such a standout game. There were a number of nagging issues that plagued the game like the bullet-sponge enemies, repetitiveness of the Dark Aether, and the restrictive beam ammo system. Despite that, the environments were certainly memorable and fun to explore. Most importantly, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes does attempt to try new things but manages to keep the spirit of the original. While a few of these new ideas did not work out, others worked great. Overall Echoes was a fun game, even if there were a a couple of frustrating issues.

Pokémon Sun and Moon (2016)

Pokémon Sun and Moon are the most recent addition to the famous franchise. Sun and Moon take the player to the tropical islands of Alola which was a refreshing experience. As a whole, these games make some big changes to the series that I believe were desperately needed. The past couple of years the series has been getting stale; Pokémon has recently celebrated its 20-year anniversary and in twenty years the games have remained the same. Of course there has been some nice changes over the years, but the basic formula has been the same. Sun and Moon do a great job of breaking the stagnation and in my opinion they are the best Pokémon games in awhile.

The innovation is apparent from the start of the game as the region of Alola is a chain of tropical islands, which is radically different than any of the other six regions. Instead of Pokémon gyms and collecting badges, the player must complete various trials. These trials can be anything from searching for hidden items, playing spot the difference, or listening for a specific sound. The only similarity in these trials are the Totem Pokémon which are exceptionally powerful Pokémon that the player must battle. There is also a Kahuna on every island, a trainer chosen by the guardian deities of the islands, that the player interacts with and eventually has to battle. Another big innovation was the addition of regional variants of different Pokémon. These are variations of classic Pokémon with changed types, abilities, and appearance. I believe this was a very clever idea as it allowed Game Freak to make some tweaks to some older Pokémon to make them stronger and more appealing to use. It also added some great variety and it was interesting to see how different Pokémon adapted to Alola. Outside of regional variants, most of the new Pokémon introduced were also well designed and had some new abilities to play around with. The change of format in the games was a huge step forward and it allowed for a lot more creativity and variety.

When it comes to variety, I believe that the Pokémon series is held back by its desire to keep using the same couple of Pokémon in every scenario and game. This is by far my biggest gripe with the series and this game as a whole. It is incredibly frustrating that there are over 800 Pokémon in total and yet every game is plagued by the same couple of species. Every ocean is overflowing with Magikarp, and every cave is filled with mostly Zubat. This has being going on for years and I would really appreciate seeing some other Pokémon. I am fine with the occasional appearance of Pokémon from Generation I, but as a long time player of the series it gets extremely tiring and boring to see the same couple of Pokémon all the time. I would just like to see more Pokémon from Generations II-VII. There are also a couple of minor issues that I had with this game. The first being that frame rate does tend to drop when in chaotic battles. There is also the issue of strange move-set and evolution complications that were probably unintended by the developers. For example Kadabra does not learn a damaging move until level 28. Or the fact that many species of Pokémon do not have the ability to evolve until right before the end of the game. There were also a couple of big level spikes at the end of the game, going straight from a level 45 Totem Pokémon to a trainer with five level 50 Pokémon is kind of strange. The tutorial was also a bit lengthy and could have been slimmed down a bit. Lastly, leveling up Pokémon in the post-game is a painful process. Overall I feel most of these issues were pretty small but they do add up and hurt the quality of the game a little bit.

I cannot talk about Sun and Moon without mentioning the story quality. The past couple of generations Pokémon has had a larger focus on the story than it has in the past. I was not a huge fan of this approach in Generations V and VI as I just did not care much about the stories being presented. In Sun and Moon I believe this narrative-heavy approach was executed much better than it was in the past. This is mostly due to the constant interaction with the games characters and their lively dialogue. Characters such as Kukui, Hau, and Lillie are actually memorable and likable. Even the supporting and side characters were great; the hilarity of Team Skull and their ridiculous antics were certainly a welcome addition to the game. While I did enjoy more interaction with the characters, it did have a drawback. I felt a little overwhelmed and occasionally frustrated with how often my adventure was put to a halt to read some dialogue. There just was not enough time in between these story interactions and it made the game just feel slow.

There were a number of small changes in Sun and Moon that improved the experience. The new Pokédex made it easy to use the map and see where to catch different Pokémon. The battle interface was also greatly improved as it allowed the player to see more detail for each move. Poké Pelago was nice addition that made it easier to grow berries, collect items, and hatch eggs. It also lets the player interact with Pokémon that they have caught but are not currently using. The game also had a fairly good difficulty level; I turned the Exp. Share off and the game provided a couple of decently challenging battles. The PC storage system was also streamlined and made a lot simpler to navigate. One of my favorite changes was the disposal of Hidden Machines and their obnoxious existence. Overall these small changes really improved the game and I hope they keep these features in future generations.

Pokémon Sun and Moon brought some desperately needed innovation to the otherwise stagnant series and it was really a refreshing experience. There were some issues like lack of generational variety, the overall slow pace, as well as a couple of minor issues, but it is much more important to me that the series finally took a step out of its comfort zone and attempted to create a new experience. I am going to give Pokémon Sun and Moon a 8.5/10 as it breathed new life into the series. The region of Alola was unique and enjoyable and it felt like a breath of fresh air after years of stale and repetitive games. Sun and Moon for me are the best Pokémon games in years.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (2002)

There is no game that can instill a sense of adventure and discovery better than The Wind Waker. While The Legend of Zelda games have a healthy mix of combat, exploration, and puzzle solving, The Wind Waker takes the exploration aspect to the extreme. Vast oceans cover the land of Hyrule and there is treasure and discoveries to be made in every corner and on every island that the world has to offer. Of course, The Wind Waker also has some great combat mechanics and intriguing puzzles tied in with the strong dungeon design. As somebody who can spend hours just exploring the crafted worlds in video games, The Wind Waker is probably my favorite installment of The Legend of Zelda series. I have played both the GameCube version and the Wii U HD remake of the game, and I can definitively say that the remake has made some excellent changes to the timeless title. Most of the changes made in the Wii U version were focused on reducing some repetitiveness as well as tedious tasks that were present in the original. Unfortunately there were still a couple of minor issues that still made it into the HD remake.

While I consider The Wind Waker to be one of my favorite games of all time, there are a couple of small problems that I have with the game. Even though the HD remake of the game speeds up some repetitive or tedious sections, there are still a few instances of the game moving a little too slowly. This is a not a big issue at all, but I do think that a couple of the mini-games or side-quests took a slightly too long with not enough payout. For example, training with Orca is just ten to fifteen minutes of using a repetitive pattern to get through the mini-game. Again, it is really not that big of an issue but they could have afforded to slim down these type of segments. Most of the side-quests in the game were actually extremely engaging and fun, only a select few were problematic. My only other issue with The Wind Waker the game was to easy outside of the final boss and the Savage Labyrinth. Enemies just did not seem to deal enough damage to ever be a realistic threat. While the combat was fun and engaging, it just was not punishing enough if I ever screwed up. So if you want a decent challenge I highly recommend you play on Hero Mode to alleviate this issue.

Although I do not think that the game was hard enough during combat, it was still tons of fun to fight all the different types of enemies. Controlling Link was smooth and using the different combos was simple to master and the use of different tactics was needed for every enemy. I enjoyed the intense sword fights with the Darknuts and trying to outmaneuver the hard-hitting Stalfos. There are plenty of unique and interesting enemies in The Wind Waker and adapting to different situations and enemies was great. There are also some interesting strategies that you can implement by making the enemy drop their weapon and picking it up for yourself. The boss fights were also fun, albeit easy. The dungeons that contained these enemies were also pretty well designed. There were plenty of interesting puzzles to be solved to match the quality of the combat. The Tower of the Gods and the Earth Temple in particular had some really intriguing puzzles. What really stood about the dungeons, and the game as a whole, were the atmospheres that were created.

Whether sailing across a vast ocean, exploring a cavernous mountain, or discovering the secrets of small islands speckled across the sea, The Wind Waker really feels like a true adventure. Every chunk of the ocean has something unique and worth exploring. Enemy strongholds, giant Octos, hidden treasure under the sea, or haunted ghost ship are just a few of the things that you may stumble across while sailing across the sea. I loved the treasure charts and how they made it feel like you really were treasure hunting. I was a little nervous to attempt a 100% on this game as the ocean is so ridiculously vast, but there are many tools at your disposal to find every item. Special treasure charts are there to detail where to find the Heart Pieces, Fairy Fountains, and all other important things scattered across the ocean.  Every island has a purpose and no piece of the world is uninteresting. I spent hours just sailing the high seas and visiting every island to see what it had in store. On top of the sense of adventure, it was extremely relaxing to just sit back and take in the beautiful world of The Wind Waker.

This installment of The Legend of Zelda is in my opinion the most aesthetically pleasing of the series. The cell-shading was masterfully done and the game is just extremely beautiful to look at. All of the characters had very expressive faces and you could easily tell what each character was thinking without the need for much dialogue. Being able to see places like Dragon Roost Mountain or The Tower of the Gods looming over the oceans from leagues away was a great to give a feel for how massive these places really were. I stopped every so often just to take in the scenery around me. It really was a pleasure just to look at the world.

I personally love The Wind Waker and I recommend it to anybody who loves adventure and exploration. I do think that you have to take this game a little slower than most other titles to really appreciate it. While there is plenty of classic The Legend of Zelda elements in The Wind Waker, its world and atmosphere are extremely unique. I do recommend the HD remake on the Wii U over the original version as it cuts down on some of the issues. If you just want to sit down and explore in video games, The Wind Waker is the perfect game for you.