October 20, 2021

The Mike Speaks: Fantasy Worlds

Books, movies, video games, and numerous other mediums can transport you to fantastical places where you can lose yourself for days. My whole life I have had a special place in my heart for the numerous fantasy worlds I have encountered. This blog post will go over some of my favorite places I have “been to” in my life.

First, I’d like to start with the worlds of Star Wars. With 7 movies, numerous video games, novels, and much more, Star Wars has transported me to many unique planets. Star Wars is one of the earliest dabblings into the fantastic, and while not truly the fantasy genre, it helped to transport me to places like Tatooine and Endor. The worlds that were created are some of the most magical places I’ve seen, and I couldn’t be more grateful for having been thrust into the world of Star Wars when I was younger.

Gaming has long been a mainstay in my nerd education, going back as early as Mario and Duck Hunt on the NES. But it wasn’t until I learned more about the games that Squaresoft has helped create that I realized games can be more than shooting pixelated ducks. My first foray into the world of Square games was Chrono Trigger. The world never truly changed, but the aspect of time travel allowed me to see the world in the distant future and past as my quest took me through time to stop the end of the world. But the biggest addition to my favorite places to visit came in the form of the many Final Fantasy games I’ve played in my life, and for this, I will move to a category all it’s own.

Final Fantasy games have run the gamut from traditional swords and magic to even include guns and lasers and the like. I have two games in my top 5 games that are Final Fantasy, and those would be 7 and 10. Those two games are two of the most formative games in my gaming life, most notably Final Fantasy 7. Heck, I could write an entire blog just about that game on its own (future The Mike Speaks?) The world of Midgard was a great combo of fantasy and tech, and it was beautiful and gritty at the same time. I could go from Sector 7, where Cloud and Barret make their home, to the pristine countryside where you first meet Yuffie, even to the giant red rock canyons where Red XIII calls home. Even the PS1 graphics made this world come to life for me. Final Fantasy 10 had the advantage of being on the PS2, and the jump in graphics shows. Do yourself a favor and pick it up on PS4. The landscape is amazing. Icy mountaintops, grasslands that go on for miles, a lightning riddled plains area, and best of all the seaside town of Besaid.

I have written numerous times about my love of Dungeons and Dragons. What I have not brought up is the love I have for the different places you can travel to both in game and in novels. I have read a few novels, most notably in the Drizzt series. This series is set in the Forgotten Realms part of D&D landscapes, but there are many, many other places you can travel to. The Acquisitions Incorporated, of Penny Arcade fame, have travelled between the realms, which are all interconnected. In my travels, I have been to the Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, and even the Sword Coast. I cannot wait to see where I go next.

And now I get to the best of the best. My favorite fantasy world of all time, and that is Middle Earth. Those of you who know me know that the Lord of the Rings is not only my all time favorite book series, but also my all time favorite movie series. The world that Tolkien created is a rich and beautiful place, and being transported there by reading or viewing is nothing short of a “religious” experience for me. Whether it’s the peaceful, farmlands of the Shire, or the dwarven fortress at Helm’s Deep, or the city of Gondor, I feel at home. Thanks to the movies, we got to see a near perfect representation of Middle Earth thanks to Peter Jackson, WETA studios, and above all New Zealand, I get to see these places in all of their intended glory. Of all the places that we get transported to in the films and books, my favorite places are the Shire and Rohan. The Shire is just so idyllic and peaceful, which is a perfect representation of what the Shire means to the overall story. Rohan is great because I have a love for grassland areas, both in real life and in fantasy. Plus, the aesthetic is great, as the horselords look amazing.

So that will pretty much do it for this current iteration The Mike Speaks. Fantasy worlds are always going to be a huge part of life, as the escape from reality is sometimes needed. There’s no reason to not fully immerse yourself in these worlds, as they allow you to experience amazing new places without having to leave your house. So for those of you on a budget, check out these amazing locales. For those of you with money, please take me to New Zealand so I can see Middle Earth.

Mike Gassel

Mike Gassel

A video game and sports enthusiast, you can usually count on TM for his many and loud opinions. If it falls under the scope of nerdom, you can fully expect him to be into it and love it. Also a fan of hugs and holding hands... and trolling random people while playing video games.

Find The Mike on twitter at @wsthemikespeaks

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