Month: October 2017

Spooky Scary Summonings

Spooky Scary Summonings

As we quickly approach Halloween, a number of things come to mind for me. Firstly, I can’t help but think about how fast October passed by this year. Honestly it’s just felt like a blink since the Oct. 1 and it’s ridiculous. However, I suppose I can’t complain excessively about that, because I’m also in a place where I’m remembering that Halloween is, frankly, one of my favorite holidays. Perhaps my favorite holiday really.

I always love how the stereotypical aesthetics of Fall mix so brilliantly with the scary and kooky sides of Halloween (Even if we really don’t get that ‘stereotypical’ Fall in California. It was 107 degrees in Fullerton last week, no joke). I love the movies, artwork and other media that characterize the season so wonderfully, everything from Nightmare Before Christmas to – this year – Stranger Things Season 2. Which as of this writing I haven’t finished so I better not see any spoilers around the comments here.

He says knowing all he would do is invite spoilers.

I love candy, I love costumes and have plenty of good memories with both going way, way back to the days when I dressed as Buzz Lightyear in elementary school. Or maybe even preschool? Not totally sure actually, but either way the feeling remains.

Yet, with all this positivity, an unfortunate other fact still comes to mind… The fact that I really don’t have a Halloween. This year, Halloween is Milo day at Cal State Fullerton, and that’s been our life on the Daily Titan for the last few months.

Milo day, or alternatively Miloween as we’ve been calling it around the newsroom. Or Halloqueen as I believe I saw him refer to it as at one point, though I don’t remember where. But a rose by any other name and all that.

Instead of having a fun, costume-filled Halloween, I’ll be all fancy in the press box with reporters from the L.A. Times and other big newspapers hoping our school doesn’t burn down – but prepared to cover it if it does. Though I can’t complain about the opportunity by any means, and I’ll be grateful to the College Republicans club for letting me join that V.I.P. experience, I will admit there’s something that feels empty about the whole thing. Perhaps some element of childhood’s loss in the face of real world responsibilities if I’m looking to be poetic about it.

Though more realistically I think I’m just starting to worry more and more about it as we approach the day of, something I wasn’t really doing a couple months ago when we were just building up to things.

But hey, even if my personal Halloween won’t be very Halloween-y, at least I can live vicariously though other means.

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That’s right, you thought I was going to be strangely existential and sappy for this entire post? No way man, I’m here to talk about some Fire Emblem Heroes Halloween goodness. At least partially as a way to cut that sappy existentialism…

I’ll be totally honest up front with this one, I’m not exactly feeling the whole usual shebang I go through with each update to this game. Partially because of the whole Milo build-up, I’ve been pretty exhausted lately. There’s a few things I’ve been meaning to post about on here, like a story I got published last week and a little mathematical romp I took through Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links, but I haven’t gotten around to either of them.

I didn’t want to skip out on this banner entirely however, since I really love Halloween. So instead I just think I’m going to pass on the professionalism this time around but still go ahead with talking about this.

I’ll just take the opportunity to gush about all of the wonderful things this banner brings, and I’ll leave it at that. Because there’s seriously a lot to gush about when you consider –

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Just look at this Sakura like GOD damn she’s got an adorable costume. For real she was always my favorite amongst Corrin’s siblings across both Birthright and Conquest, and the fact that she got this really great costume was part of what made me really excited for this banner.

Plus, she has amazing potential as a mage killer with a weapon that deals super effective damage to all colored mages and a sky high resistance stat. She’s great, I love her, and I’m no doubt going to be spending lots of orbs to get her in my collection if I have to.

Those cat ears man, they really maximize the adorability factor. They even bounce around during battle and… Man, it’s just too good.

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But then we also have the boy Jakob here. I’ll be honest, Jakob is arguably my absolute least favorite character from Fates. His son is great, but getting him through any sort of relationship to end up with Dwyer is a bit of a nightmare because his chemistry with everyone is just… Really bad. I don’t even actually remember who I paired him up with in my run of Revelations, that’s how bad.

His regular Heroes counterpart sort of made up for that since I actually use my 5 star Jakob somewhat regularly… But that counterpart doesn’t even hold a candle to this one.

This guy is basically Frankenstein wielding a bow that has a string made of pure lightning that has heavy armor while being weighed down by golden balls and chains. Just the design alone is bananas, but combine that with the fact that he’s our first armored archer and he gets distinction for being unique as well.

Oh, and he’s also the first Halloween hero I summoned:

That also helps my appreciation for him. Damn he’s looking good.

Also, his quotes are just wonderful. A few of my favorites include:

  • “Believe you me, monsters are not half as ghastly as… People.”
  • “I would gladly serve treats to my liege, Corrin. But to children? The nerve.”

Talk about all sorts of gems hidden away.

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Oh but wait, what’s this? Another armored unit? And this one is an armored mage? That’s crazy!

What’s this again? It’s Henry? The super fun sadistic crow-toting mage from Awakening who’s an absolutely perfect candidate for anything Halloween? Fantastic!

One more time? What did you say? He’s a vampire too? A vampire that carries his coffin around like a shield that shoots out ghosts? Well slap me silly and call me Sally, that’s an A+ character right there.

Wait wait, what’s that? You say there’s someone even better on this special summoning banner? Well you must me joking, how could it possibly get better than Henr-

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Oh. Oh I see.

Nowi here, while undoubtedly being somewhat creepy Loli bait as usual, is still actually incredible. For one… Well, look at her. In the least creepy way imaginable, Nowi dressed up like a witch with the big mage hat is one of the cutest things ever.

She also has a spell book that shoots out ectoplasmic cats to attack enemies. Which is a negligible design detail and all, but it’s still amazing and continues to maximize the adorable meter.

Oh, also, while we’re on the subject of good design from Henry, have I mentioned the fact that Nowi is a pegasus knight? But instead of riding a pegasus she rides on a broomstick. A broomstick. Because she’s a witch. It’s low key absolutely genius character design, and I want her.

Especially since the flying mage archetype will make a perfect addition to my flying units team. Just… Uhh… Don’t pay too much attention to the picture of her in the summoning banner image. Because it kind of makes it hard to advocate for something when it depicts a young-looking girl with a strangely suggestive closeup of a broom between her legs. Just saying, might want to chill there Intelligent Systems.

I’m still going after her of course, but still.

The characters aren’t even the only things that are wonderful about this banner, though.

Seriously look at these level designs:

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I don’t have all that much to say about the Paralogue itself, since it just boils down to the Order of Heroes enjoying the Harvest Festival with dressed up heroes all hoping to win a year’s supply of pumpkins.

Which makes sense… I suppose? Not that I’ve been able to figure out how you can keep pumpkins fresh for a whole year.

But that’s besides the point because look at all the spook. Just glowing jack-o’-lanterns and spooky gothic architecture everywhere. It’s amazing.

Have I mentioned I really love Halloween? Because I do.

That’s not even all though, because the artwork for the battle backgrounds is somehow even better!

Just… Just look at how pretty this is. I can’t even say anything more than the fact that I love how pretty it all is. I’m genuinely at a loss for words right now, I’m living out all of my Halloween in these levels right now it feels like.

Though part of that could also be me being exhausted, like I mentioned before…

In fact, I might as well cut things off here. Everything I’ve gushed about is all that the game has added in, so there isn’t anything more to say honestly. I’m just going to let everyone look at and appreciate the wonderful artwork in this game, because seriously the artwork is one thing that keeps me coming back for more.

That and the rush of dopamine that I’m sure comes with each newly collected orb and summoned hero. Gambling is a scary, scary thing. Luckily I’ve found an outlet for that sin that’s less… Destructive than it could be.

Okay, but for real it’s definitely time for bed. I need some rest if I’m going to be ready for Milo coming very, very soon. Perhaps I’ll try to catch up on those posts I missed after I’m a little more relaxed and freed from my inhibitions after his visit.

Until then, I also did intend this to be a test of a potentially shorter way to make Fire Emblem Heroes posts. Or at least, more shortly produced posts. Since somehow this still wound up being 1,700 words or so. If you enjoy this format better than usual, let me know in the comments below!

I might not be used to the more informal free-flowing thought process this comes with, but I’m sure I can get used to it if it’s popular.

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Trials of the Holy War

Trials of the Holy War

The time for Tempest Trials has come once again in Fire Emblem Heroes. Unlike the last go around, I wouldn’t say I’m needlessly exhausted and upset with the event. Perhaps the set of mini trials in between the main installments really were what did it for me. Who knows.

Whatever the reason was, I’m not expecting to take an angry spin on this one like last time. However… Part of that might be because I don’t have all that much to say about these Trials in the first place.

All things considered, beyond the different underlying motivations of the characters and the unlockable elements involved, the actual playtime involved has simply become somewhat monotonous and same-y. Not all that much to say about it overall.

So let’s just address some of the basics of what makes these Trials different than what we had in the past.


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The theme for this set of Tempest Trials is Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War. Like I said when we got new heroes from this older title, I have very little experience with anyone involved outside of whatever research I’ve done.

Granted that research has improved my attachment to a few of them and informed me enough to understand where the characters are coming from in the “plot” of these Trials, but still. I’m generally left without any comments on maps or music or anything of that nature like I would usually have.

I do think its worth mentioning that I’ve gotten my hands on both the characters I was really looking for out of the three added the other day:

They both came rather easy so I didn’t have to waste too many orbs, which was sweet.

If anything that means I can focus on the summoning banner for the Tempest Trials if I want… Though I’m sort of in the same boat as the general public in thinking that the whole approach taken here is a bit duplicitous.

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Rather than having this new character, Ayra, show up in a Grand Hero Battle or something along those lines, the developers at Intelligent System have put her in a totally separate summoning banner than the other Genealogy heroes. One that’s running at the same time as the other banner.

Plus, she’s a red unit in the same focus as another red unit, Eldigan. So the chances of getting her are cut, and if you want to even attempt to get there you have to deal with pulling time away from the other banner with Sigurd, Deirdre and Tailtiu.

It is a pretty lousy, orb-draining thing to do, arguably a strong attempt to force players to spend money on the game… But to be fair, I’m not sure Ayra is that worth getting in the first place outside of how cute she is. So I might not try too hard to go after her.

Possibly duplicitous practices aside, let’s talk about the Trials themselves.

The “plot” this time around boils down to Lucina encouraging Seliph to tackle the Tempest to protect Julia, as you can see above, while he has the chance to meet with his parents Sigurd and Deirdre so they can help him fight. Time and space shredding excuses around canonical timeline barriers abound.

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The main bonus allies are the four new heroes from Genealogy featured in the two summoning banners I talked about earlier.

Luckily, Sigurd fits my most powerful cavalry-based team remarkably well, so I immediately have a great advantage walking in. I’ve already swept through entire runs with just one team alone thanks to that team, and it’s an amazing feeling for sure.

The secondary bonus allies are Eldigan and his sister, who came in some time ago, Arvis from the current Grand Hero Battle, and Arden, one of the main rewards from these Trials.

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By rising in the ranks high enough, you can also earn three Sacred Seals from these trials:

  • Brash Assault: Unit automatically follows-up when attacking a foe that can Counter if they have less than 30 percent health.
  • Attack Smoke: Inflicts -3 Attack on all foes within 2 spaces of a selected attack target.
  • Guidance: Allows infantry and armored units to move to an ally with this seal that’s within two spaces and has full health.

It’s also worth noting that some of the rewards on certain tiers are Sacred Coins, which is something we were promised back in the update when we got the ability to upgrade our Sacred Seals. Pretty cool to see that coming to fruition.

My horse-based team makes this run of the Trials quite easy for me, like I mentioned before. I made it to the final map pretty quickly in fact, only to find that Julia is the main villain taking over… Whatever castle this is:

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Honestly this fight is pretty easy too, compared to most of the others in the past. She’s certainly no insane powerhouse like Hector or the Black Knight, that’s for sure.

I will say, even if the fight isn’t all that difficult, the scenery of the map you fight on does make it pretty worth to get there.

Seriously, these backgrounds are super pretty. Just saying.


Well, that’s all I have to say about this run of the Tempest Trials. Remarkable I know, considering I haven’t even hit 900 words. I’m amazed I was able to be this… Somewhat concise with all of this.

Some of that might honestly be because I’m starting to run out of things to say about these after so long. Honestly, after going after the few things that are new, there isn’t that much else to dig into. Perhaps from here on out that means I might not write so much for Tempest Trials, if I even write anything at all. Who knows.

We’ll see as time goes on I suppose.

In my empty attempt at trying to push for audience engagement this time around, how’s this for a question. What do you think of the fact that Intelligent Systems put out a second summoning banner just about a week after the first one to force players to split their time and resources for summoning? While it’s not necessarily that new remembering the double summoning banners for Fire Emblem Echoes back when the game was first coming out, this time around things just feel a bit more scummy to me.

Is that impression just in my own head though? Or do you agree?

Let me know in the comments below, and until next time I’ll be off doing work and likely stressing over the upcoming visit of Milo Yiannopoulos at CSUF. Because yeah, that’s happening soon. Time sure has flown this semester.

October 17, 2017 Article Published

Two days in a row of writing on deadline makes Jack a sharp writer.

Translated: There’s truly no rest for the wicked it seems, as yesterday was the second day I wound up writing a pretty long story regarding at least somewhat breaking news at the last minute for the paper.

On Sunday it was my update on the Canyon Fire 2, while yesterday I pulled together an update on the Halloween visit of Milo Yiannopoulos scheduled at CSUF.

To make a long story short with this one, the Governance Committee of the student government here at Fullerton, ASI, passed a resolution denouncing the speaker and instead showing support for the Unity Block Party put on by more left groups promoting diversity that’s going to be running at the same time as his speech. The College Republicans club sent out a press release responding to that vote, obviously upset.

I had honestly expected this update to be a relatively short and straight forward one. I wrote a very similar article regarding the ASI resolution passing process back when the Republicans were looking to get a resolution barring Eric Canin from campus, though this time the angle would be slightly different considering the Yiannopoulos resolution made it past the writing and Governance Committee vote stages. Between that explanation of the overall process and a few comments on why this matters to both sides, it seemed like everything would write itself.

Then I get a hell of a lot of back-and-forth.

I interviewed the vice chair of the ASI Board of Directors, who also happened to be one of the sponsors (the writer, essentially) of the Yiannopoulos resolution. Talked to him about the process, why he jumped on this particular piece of legislation and about how the Republicans felt about the whole thing.

Then I interviewed both the Public Relations and Event Coordinator, as well as the president of the CSUF College Republicans club. More or less talked to both of them about why they felt impassioned enough by this resolution to speak out about it despite the symbolic nature and still relatively early stage of development.

Between those interviews, the official resolution document and the official press release, I had a lot of things to sort through that played off of each other quite well. Most of the issues that were brought up by one group was addressed by the other and vice versa, so I had a lot of interesting discussions within the story.

Of course, it wound up being like 900 words because of how I had to balance those emotional discussions and the explanation of the process and where we are in it… But hey, I think it’s a pretty engaging piece. And I certainly can’t complain about pulling something substantial and interesting out of a story that I figured would be small.

Everything about the story culminates in the fact that the full ASI Board of Directors will vote on the resolution on Oct. 24, at which point it either becomes an official stance by the student government on campus (symbolic though it may be) or it gets shot down, possibly to come back later under another name or not.

Obviously, expect me to probably be covering that when it happens, even though I’m trying not to burn myself out on Milo too much before he actually shows up in two weeks.

Yikes. That’s coming up fast.

But that’s beside the point. If you want to check out the story in its entirety, you can see it here. For my full archive of work for the Daily Titan, you can go over to the page on the right!

Fire Emblem Heroes: Genealogy of the characters I don’t know

Fire Emblem Heroes: Genealogy of the characters I don’t know

I think the title of this one basically says all that needs to be said.

Hey everybody, welcome to another long-winded Fire Emblem Heroes update post here on Jason’s blog. Normally I’d start off this kind of post with a whimsical affirmation that things definitely won’t be as relentlessly wordy as before… But considering how many times that particular mindset has backfired in hindsight, I’m just going to skip over all that and go straight into the meat of things.

That cool with all of you? I sure hope so, because when I’m typing this I’m literally the only person that can answer that question.

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Today’s update brings us heroes from Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War. As a Japanese-exclusive title in any official release, I haven’t personally played the game in any capacity, since I don’t tend to play with emulators all that often. Hell, I haven’t even seen any let’s plays of this game floating around in any of my usual Youtube channels.

Because of that, I have no experience with any of the characters in the game and no personal connections whatsoever. The best I could figure just from the initial teaser video was that two of the characters seemed to be related to two heroes we already have in the mobile game, but even then they’re units I’ve never used.

So that was a load of help.

As there’s only three of them, at least it makes it easier on me to do some basic research so I can pull together these small character bios like I enjoy to do.

  • TailtiuThunder Noble
    • A noble from the House Friege, where the greatly abused powerhouse Reinhardt and his sister Olwen also hail, Tailtiu is a bubbly girl known for her protective personality and strong thunder magic. Really that’s about all the wiki expands upon for the most part, aside from a horrifically tragic part of her life where she endures torture and depression to protect her young children, only to die from said depression and torture. Yeah, that’s one of the most definitive portions of her story arc. I’m actually getting sad and emotional over this character I don’t know at all because of it, too. I suppose if nothing else that encourages me to go after her when I start summoning on this banner, despite the fact that her initial build is a little ‘meh’ just looking at the list. Blarblade is always great for accumulating extra damage with more stat buffs, but otherwise everything else is basic stat-related stuff: +2 attack and resistance, rallying +3 speed and resistance on an ally and grinding +3 speed to nearby allies during combat. If nothing else, seems like she’ll be helpful in letting her teammates attack twice more often.
  • DeirdreLady of the Forest
    • Deirdre is a women from the Spirit Forest with the holy blood of the dragon Naga and a curiosity for the outside world after an isolated upbringing. She comes to marry Sigurd, with whom she conceives Seliph, and after her husband’s death she begets Julia and Julius with a man named Arvis. Her weapon, Divine Naga, stands out much like her daughter Julia’s as a green tome effective against dragons that also nullifies stat bonuses from certain skills during combat. With the popularity of teams themed around things like cavalry units, this is a pretty useful weapon to have around. She also comes with the somewhat situational Ardent Sacrifice, Quick Riposte to make automatic follow-ups and Speed Ploy to lower the speed of units in cardinal directions with lower resistance than she has.
  • SigurdHoly Knight
    • Apparently the protagonist for the first generation story in Genealogy of the Holy War, Sigurd is a mounted lord that uses swords and lances. He has quite literally a billion relatives, though the most notable ones here for this description are his wife Deirdre and son Seliph, who has to clear his father’s name after he’s killed and labeled a traitor. Sigurd uses the legendary Divine Tyrfing, a sword that grants him +3 resistance and makes it so he receives half damage from every first magic attack used against him. Like the Brave Heroes Lyn and Ike, he also comes with four extra skills rather than three: His special skill is Miracle, which lets him survive a lethal attack, he has Close Defense to give him +6 defense and resistance when attacked by a close range weapon, he has Speed Smoke to inflict -7 speed on enemies within 2 spaces of each attack he deals and finally he has a new ability called Crusader’s Ward that reduces damage from the second attack onward by 80 percent if attacked from two spaces away. From what I understand, word is going around that Sigurd could be a perfect anti-meta unit by essentially nullifying most damage from magic attacks all together… And I can’t argue that this sounds pretty overpowered. I’ll look forward to seeing it in action.

One thing I’ve come to find from researching these three is that Genealogy apparently had an absurdly huge cast of characters that intertwined in a billion different ways. I’ll be honest, for this being such an older game in the series, I’m pretty impressed. It apparently featured a multi-generational split story system, which is something I believed was a more recent phenomenon.

Even if 99 percent of what I read also suggested that this entire game is just a deep dive into depressing character arcs… I’m still impressed.

Frankly, reading about Tailtiu made me really, REALLY feel for her character, and it makes me want to summon and use her in combat. On top of that, Sigurd does seem like he’ll shake things up quite aggressively and Deirdre could be pretty fun with that special Divine Naga tome. All three seem pretty worth summoning, so I’ll probably work at getting at least one of them now that I’m done torturing myself trying to summon Performance Arts Olivia.


Editor’s Note: 

For context: I got to about a 4.75 percent chance of finding a 5 star in the Performance Arts summoning focus banner, and during the first round of summoning that I didn’t have a colorless orb to choose from, Inigo broke my streak of trying to find his mother Olivia.

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Don’t get me wrong, I love Inigo so I’m not that mad… But it did suck that all of that effort to aim for one unit wound up getting blown away in an instant.


Editor’s Note Part 2: 

So this wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but I’m going to have to put another aside here because… Well…

Turns out my decision to stop summoning on the Performance banner was actually a good idea.

Seriously this was not at all what I expected to happen, but I drew Sigurd on my second orb – with the first orb being a freebie to begin with. It’s quite possibly the quickest, luckiest unit grab I’ve ever gotten, and luckily it seems to be with the guy who will probably be the most powerful of the bunch.

I’m going to take it as a good sign and keep summoning for a while to hopefully get Tailtiu. Wish me luck!


As far as additional story goes with these new characters, most of the underlying stuff is par for the course. Three Paralogue levels, three difficulty settings and some extra missions to give players a total of 12 orbs to obtain.

When you get into the actual story itself, it seems as though Intelligent Systems is using this Paralogue to begin building up to whatever large-scale event they have coming down the line. Though… At first things certainly don’t seem that way.

The arc begins with Veronica commanding an armored knight, Arden, to come fight alongside our main man Sigurd.

Once you make it through the fight, Arden is let go and gears quickly shift over to round 2, where there’s more of a surprise visitor making an appearance.

That’s right, the evil shapeshifting trickster god Loki, who some time ago decided to masquerade as Anna for some reason, is taking more of a front line approach by helping Veronica command units to go to battle.

Though, by commanding them, I suppose I should say blackmailing them.

Yeah… There tends to be a pretty big dichotomy between some units happily helping the bad guys while others need to be forced in some way. Like promising to send them home only if they fight and win. Which is pretty scummy, let’s be honest.

But anyway, after battling against Ayra and Tailtiu, you move on to the final encounter. Before getting there however, things once again shift pretty dramatically into a much more suddenly emotional bit of character development.

This game was already playing the “villains aren’t actually so bad because things are going on beyond their control” card by developing Prince Bruno/Zacharias’ backstory as much as it has been the last few story missions, but it’s easy to tell that we’re really banking on the sympathy to hit hard this time around given how Veronica sounds more like a confused child than ever before.

Oh, and there’s the whole evil trickster god influence underlying everything as well, but we’ll actually get into that in a minute.

First things first, Veronica is somewhat consoled by Deirdre, who seems to share the same pain as one with divine blood.

While things are perhaps being laid on a little thick for my tastes, I can always appreciate taking that humanizing approach to a character who seemed so utterly ruthless at one point or another. Though I will credit my boy Seth from Sacred Stones for getting that train rolling, because I’m sure he deserves is.

Once the final fight is out of the way, you’re once again treated to what is essentially a ‘congratulations’ screen as Sigurd and Deirdre thank you for freeing them from the contract and letting them go off to be happy together forever. So on and so forth. Nothing we’ve never seen before, honestly.

But then there’s something like a post-credits scene hinting at more to come:

Whatever the developers have been building up to for some time now, it seems we’re finally getting to a point where all of these plot threads are going to reveal what they’ve been leading up to. Loki appears to quite literally be opening the way to Asgard, looking to bring an army to the world of Askr to destroy it. Or just to destroy everything. Who knows, really.

The whole thing is frankly a hell of a lot more like an actual Marvel end credit scene than I think anyone was intending, but you won’t see me complaining.

I’m honestly really looking forward to seeing whatever comes out of this, and it makes me glad that I didn’t succumb to that slump I was feeling a few weeks back that almost had me drop the game for a while.

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Once again, my lack of experience with the original game doesn’t give me much to talk about as far as remembering what locales these little maps are mimicking or even having some sort of a nostalgia trip over the music. On top of that, I’d argue these maps were some of the easiest to blow through and earn all the available orbs in my recent memory.

But I did want to bring up the maps as a separate idea because I thought it was  interesting that, once again, a few of the maps introduce us to more characters we’re going to see become relevant in the near future:

As these two are not a part of the summoning focus, that begs the question of whether we’re going to see them show up in some sort of a Grand Hero Battle, or whether we should be expecting a new Tempest Trials sometime soon with a Genealogy theme.

I suppose only time will tell… But if I were a betting man, I’d vote for the latter.


Well, that should do it for now I think, seems as though I’ve bled this particular topic thread dry. And this time I came in at… Approximately 2,000 words.

Perhaps jinxing myself at the beginning of the post wasn’t the problem. Perhaps I’m just pathetic and compulsively write too much about everything. Hell, I wrote a 900 word story about the Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga remake for my school paper just today, and that’s just a drop in the bucket compared to the extended version I’m planning on posting around here soon.

But I digress, since obviously going off on small rambling fits like this is exactly how I get to be this long-winded in the first place. Hopefully you all enjoyed my thoughts and observations no matter how long they were!

Do you have a favorite hero in this summoning focus? Have you had the opportunity to play Genealogy of the Holy War? Is it worth putting in some effort to find and either play or watch? Let me know in the comments below!

October 16, 2017 Articles Published

I’m sure I’ve said this before, but it’s very rare that I get the pleasure of seeing my two passions – video games and journalism – meld so nicely together at this stage in my career.

So I really enjoy the times that they do come together, like with this review I wrote about the Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga remake.

After a couple of long, rough weeks dealing with a mass shooting and some crazy local fires, it’s been a blessing to have a game to unwind with recently, particularly a game that holds such a strong place in my heart.

Seriously, re-experiencing Superstar Saga has been an absolute joy, even if the whole time I feel like I’ve been focused more on deeply examining what’s different, both the good and the bad changes. That kind of critical eye did make it easier to pull things apart for a review, but it has certainly made the actual act of playing a whole different animal for me.

Oh, and pull things apart I did, as I focused this review much more on how things differ compared to the original game than I did on the game itself, since I figure that’s what should be done for something like the review of a remake.

While I did have a great time with Superstar Saga (and I’m not quite done yet – I’ve beaten the main story but I haven’t yet finished collecting everything 100 percent, and I’m still working my way through Bowser’s Minions), it isn’t perfect by any means. It is vastly improved upon compared to the original in almost every way imaginable, but there is a lot that feels like a backpedaling as well.

I try to address some of those points in my review, but the chief complaint I had with the game really boils down to the battle system. Compared to the original game, this remake has gorgeous sprite work that lends itself to really complex and over-the-top character animations, which are nice but make each action feel longer. On top of that, the battles are easier than I remember them being (much like the rest of the game in all honesty) and the music contributes to slogging battles down and making them grow to tedium faster by sounding far slower, seeming more eclectic within itself and has more synthetic tones.

If that makes sense. I’m not much of a music reviewer, but that feels right in my head.

Despite this issue, the game is still hilarious, beautiful and sounds great by all other accounts, and I’d highly recommend picking it up if you have experienced the story or if you haven’t before. It’s just too bad that the system you spend 90 percent of your time experiencing is arguably the worst part.

Oh, and when I say the game feels way easier than I remember, I’d say take the comment with a grain of salt. There are a lot of gameplay functionalities which have been vastly improved upon to streamline aspects of the experience, and those improvements do make the overall experience seem easier… But at the same time I also had the entirety of this game memorized like the back of my hand before walking in, so it might not be that much ‘easier’ for someone who’s never heard of the game before.

Plus the endgame still has a big difficulty spike when going through Bowser’s Castle in my opinion, so there’s always that.

Either way I certainly don’t mind an easy game here or there, if nothing else that ease helped this be a wonderful stress relief and trip down memory lane for me.

Unfortunately, I didn’t want to burden my editor Sarah with too much in regards to putting this article together (even though the 900 words I have can already easily be considered overkill), so much of what I wrote out in my drafting process got left on the cutting room floor.

Luckily this blog seems like the perfect place to rectify that. So, if I have the time, expect a more complete unabridged version of my thoughts on Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions sometime here in the near future. It’ll be long, it’ll be hella involved, but that’s the magic of a personal blog. It offers you a place to shout your endless opinions into the void.

At least, that’s how I like to use it anyway.

If you want to see my article in it’s entirety (the theatrical release version at least, as I like to put it), you can see it here. You can also see my full catalog of articles for the Daily Titan over on the right!


Turns out, the game review wasn’t the only thing I wound up getting published today. It was going to be, but then we decided to run an update on the Anaheim Hills Fire, and I got slated to work on that.

So, since I already had the entire gaming part written up early (shows me for trying to be ahead I suppose), I figured it’d be worth adding this portion to the bottom here.

I don’t really have a lot to say necessarily, this story was more of a straight-forward deal. I pulled together some tweets from the Anaheim Fire & Rescue department that gave the most recent updates on containment of the blaze, as well as some information from the California Department of Transportation talking about a local highway that was partially reopened on Friday.

Then, once I had those basics down, I got in touch with the Orange County Fire Authority, where I was directed to the Public Information Officer for the Canyon 2 Fire, Mike Yeun. The guy was real nice, more than willing to chat even while he was driving, and he gave me a bunch of good information to fill out my story. It definitely made things much stronger than the basic 200 word short update I had before.

For anyone curious, the fire was 75 percent contained as of 7 p.m. on Oct. 14, and authorities are expecting full containment by Oct. 17. Things are well on their way thanks to the effort of apparently over 1,600 firefighters at one point at least.

If you want to see that article in it’s entirety, you can check it out here. Or, once again, everything I’ve written for the Titan is over on the right, so you can check that out too if you want.

Helping inspire the next generation

Helping inspire the next generation

Though I usually relish my two days a week that I don’t have to drive out to Fullerton for school and production, today I spent my Saturday going out to CSUF so I could hang out in the newsroom all afternoon.

But not because of production this time around.

No, today was the Journalism Association of Community Colleges’ SoCal 2017 conference, and it was held on campus. With a large collection of journalistically-inclined community college students assembling at CSUF looking to one day apply for a four-year college, it only made sense that the Daily Titan had an open house of sorts in the newsroom to answer any questions and encourage joining the editorial board.

As one of the longest serving members on the Daily Titan – which is something really bizarre for me to consider since I’m still one of the younger people in the room on average – I figured it would do me some good to come introduce myself to some potential future colleagues, and lay their minds at ease with regards to working on a higher caliber paper.

Granted we did confirm a lot of their fears regarding balancing school and production life, as well as producing a paper on a daily basis… But we also found a lot of people getting really excited about what we do, and I was able to dispense a lot of valuable advice about things like news reporting (in my opinion).

In fact, I really think there were some people I met today from a variety of schools, including Citrus College, Cypress CollegeOrange Coast College, and way more that I can’t remember off the top of my head while writing this (sorry for that if anyone winds up reading this from those colleges), who I can definitely see joining the Titan in the near future.

Plus I got this very nice picture out of it that I saw on Twitter:

Beyond spending some time talking about my experience with fellow aspiring journalists, I also got to hang out with our Managing Editor Harrison, one of my News Assistants Amy and one of our Lifestyle Assistants Tanya in a non-production context, which was a lot of fun. Bonnie, our Advisor, and Walt Baranger, a Daily Titan Alum and former New York Times editor who teaches at CSUF now, also stopped by and spent some time with us and with the Community College students.

We even got some donuts and pizza out of the deal too, so all and all I’d say it was an afternoon well spent – Even if I hadn’t been expecting to waste a good 6 hours at Fullerton on a Saturday just a few days ago.

 

October 9, 2017 Article Published

I’m so used to waiting for the day a story is in print to post one of these blog posts that I totally didn’t even think about the fact that this article went online only yesterday. We put out a special weeklong financial issue Sunday night, so the rest of our content has been exclusively on the Daily Titan website this week.

It’s been really nice having a break from producing a paper, though my internal schedule has been thrown all out of whack as a result.

So… Happy day after article published post, everyone.

California has been burning pretty seriously recently. The Anaheim Hills, specifically, has been close enough  to have a very visible effect at Cal State Fullerton:

The cloud of smoke filled the sky throughout the afternoon yesterday, making it more of struggle to breath alongside already hot, windy weather. So while we had reporters covering the fire (My co-editor Brandon and one of our photographers Bailey went out near the blaze and did some amazing work), I was on campus getting some information about how the smoke might be affecting students.

The conversation I had with the Student Health Center’s interim director and chief staff physician Richard Boucher wound up being one of my favorite interviews so far this semester. He’s a real nice guy who was very interested in small talk before and after our business was conducted, and he had plenty of useful information for us to use without it taking a lot of extraction work.

I can definitely see myself talking with him more in the future.

The part of the interview that stood out most to me was his repeated advice to try and stay indoors as much as possible and avoid heavy exercise while air quality was poor. Not exactly novel advice or anything, but it felt poignantly ironic to me that he gave that advice after I had literally just crossed almost the entirety of campus three times over while setting up the interview.

Really I think that might be the first sign that this job is going to kill me one of these days.

Not that I can complain too much about that, since like I said we had reporters out next to the fire actually putting themselves somewhat at risk to do some awesome reporting. My portion of the article isn’t quite as exciting as the portion covering the fire itself, but I still like to think it’s information that’s important to spread for our audience. It fit well as a part of the overall package, and we got some praise around campus for the quick work and fancy online layout we tried out for the story.

If you want to check out the article in its entirety, you can see it here. You can also check out my full archive of writing for the Daily Titan over on the right!

Fire Emblem Heroes Version 1.8: Forging with Dragons

Fire Emblem Heroes Version 1.8: Forging with Dragons

Luckily for my sudden onset of insomnia tonight, it seems I have a new distraction to mull over beyond Superstar Saga. And writing overly long diatribes about Superstar Saga that I’m going to have to cut down to a more manageable form for a general newspaper audience.

Seriously, Sarah, if you wind up reading this… I’m sorry that I might wind up being more of a pain than I’m worth for the next couple of days with that review article.

But this isn’t the place for pre-emptive apologies. That can come at the end of this post. As the title suggests, we’ve got some Fire Emblem to discuss.

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This morning, Intelligent Systems has graced the world with an update to Fire Emblem Heroes, bringing us into the 1.8 version of the game. Thankfully, there isn’t a hell of a lot to this big update like there was with the last few, so I hopefully won’t be hating myself when I have to get up later.

The major addition with this update is a little feature we’ve been waiting on for quite some time: Seal Forging.

Now, for those of you who are uninitiated in the unending and relentless cult of Fire Emblem Heroes, Sacred Seals are items you can equip to your units that allow them to utilize a fourth passive skill on top of the “A,” “B” and “C” level skills they can be summoned with or inherit.

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These Sacred Seals can make a number of new possibilities open up for unit building and team composition overall. A few of my personal favorite examples include giving a unit like Reinhardt the “Quickened Pulse” seal that allows his special attack to pop off more often or giving a unit like Eirika a seal like “Fortify Resistance” so she can passively buff an additional stat for her allies at the start of a turn.

We’ve had a number of means of unlocking these Sacred Seals in the past, most notably through special Sacred Seal missions that cycle through on occasion, as rewards for completing Squad Assault challenges and as tier rewards during Tempest Trials:

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“Distant Defense” was a particularly good one out of the Tempest Trials category, as was “Quickened Pulse.”

The issue many players have had with these seals is that most have been stuck at a basic level 1 status, with no sign of additional level 2 or 3 variants being released anytime soon.

Enter: Seal Forging.

Though to allow Seal Forging to enter the conversation, we do have to take a step back. You don’t just get the ability to forge Sacred Seals right away, after all.

Thus, enter a new Intermission mission that players can unlock after they defeat Chapter 13 in the main story of the game.

 

Strangely enough this Intermission is the first of its kind and seems somewhat out of place as a result of being only one mission with no additional associated quests. The developers do make this strange addition make sense in the context of the story’s plot, however.

If you don’t remember what happened last time in the ongoing Fire Emblem Heroes saga, you can see me ramble about it in my post about the Crimean heroes some time back. If that’s a ‘too long, didn’t read’ kind of situation for you, then here’s the basics:

The Order of Heroes’ old ally Zacharias turns out to be their new enemy Prince Bruno, who fights against them because his bloodline makes him have an insatiable bloodlust because of something something evil dragon magic, so on and so forth in that classic Fire Emblem flavor. However, he revealed at that point that he still cares about his friends in the Order, and wants to help them help him so he can be friends with them again.

That’s the brief blurb about it, anyway.

This Intermission kicks off just about directly after that happened, when Anna leads the team to an ancient ruin called the Eternal Sanctum after Zacharias told her they could unlock more of their power there.

 

You go, you conquer, and at the end of the mission the team finds instructions for the Seal Forging ritual, which the team takes back home and unlocks for the player’s future use.

Really it’s as simple as that, even though I made it much more wordy than it had to be.

Once you unlock the option to forge Sacred Seals, you gain two abilities: Creation and Enhancement.

 

These options do exactly what you’d expect just off the names alone.

  • Creation mode: As the name suggests, allows a player to create a brand new Sacred seal that they do not already have. Currently there are only a few options with the “Spur” skills and brand new “Deflect” skills, with the latter being more expensive than the prior to create.
  • Enhancement mode: Again, as the name suggests, allows a player to boost the power of an enumerated Sacred Seal they already own. With this, “Breath of Life 1” can grow to eventually become “Breath of Life 3,” providing all the benefits of a third level skill as an add-on to a hero.

Both of these abilities take Sacred Coins, an item you receive as rewards for getting good rankings in the Arena Assault mode. Before now these items were completely useless and just taking up space, so I’m glad they can now be used for something.

Though, because I never took them seriously, I never actually spent a lot of effort earning them… So looks like I’ll have to take Arena Assault mode a bit more seriously from here on out. They are also adding them as rewards in other places like quests and through Tempest Trials from here on out, so that’s definitely a plus!

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Remember this image, it’s going to be relevant again later in this post.

That’s really about all there is to say about Sacred Seal forging at this point. All and all I’d say it’s a quite welcomed addition as a means of making units more powerful for both casual and Arena play. Plus, it fills in some knowledge gaps as far as letting us know what certain things do that previously had no purpose, so it’s satisfying in that regard.

Yet, I wouldn’t argue I’m personally blown away by this part of the update. It’s definitely nice, but I’m not enough of an Arena junkie to feel like I’ll get an exorbitant amount of use out of the system outside of an underlying drive to collect everything.

I can probably blame Pokémon for that one now that I’m thinking about it… But that’s another story.


Seal forging isn’t the only thing that was added in Version 1.8. It was certainly the biggest thing that was added, but there are a number of more minor aesthetic and mechanical adjustments that are actually wonderful additions in terms of making the entire user experience with Fire Emblem Heroes more smooth.

There are three other changes that the game felt were important enough to spell out in more detail as a part of this update, so I figure I’ll break them down the same way.

Changing Teams

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Now this is a change I can get behind. When playing Fire Emblem Heroes, I’m a huge culprit of the ‘look at a mission, then change teams up to fit said mission’ phenomenon. If that is, in fact, a phenomenon most players encounter.

Either way, the inconvenience of this issue is now a thing of the past. Instead of having to jump through seemingly 20 different pages to go from the entrance of a mission to the team editing screen, you can now go to team editing right away thanks to an extra button just at the bottom of the confirmation screen.

As you’ll see again with the other two things here, this change is all about convenience for the player, as just the fact that it was added at all leads me to believe other players had just as much to groan about as I did in regards to how long it took to get to the editing teams menu.

So good on you for listening to that bellyaching and turning it into constructive criticism, Intelligent Systems. I certainly know I appreciate the change.

Quick Questing

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See, I told you this particular image would be relevant again.

Much like going to the team editing screen from a battle confirmation screen was a pain, so was going from a battle confirmation screen to the menu showing off whatever quests and missions you had available. If you were trying to accomplish a mission with a certain goal on a certain level, flipping through those screens was almost a necessity.

Luckily, thanks to Version 1.8’s push for convenience, that problem is also a thing of the past.

Now when you’re looking at missions you can go directly to wherever that mission is relevant for. Need to beat the Training Tower’s Tenth Stratum another six times? Well, here’s a button to go straight there. Plus, it works in reverse, which means you can go from the battle confirmation screen to the quests and missions tab and vice versa. Way cool.

However, I think my favorite part of this change is that it also added these:

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Markers showing off which options include mission-specific things you can complete is honestly incredible. It again removes the need to flip between two pages to pick up on the information you need, but in a much more streamlined way.

I would probably argue this addition is my favorite part of this entire update, just because it’s exactly the sort of thing I’ve been internally asking for since the day the game came out.

Easy Auto-Battle

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The option is actually here in the bottom right-hand corner (^^^), in case you missed it.

With this one, what you see is what you get. Now there’s a more convenient button available (if you turn it on in your settings menu) to turn auto-battling on and off. During a game mode where you have to fight multiple teams in succession, this also keeps it on across multiple battles.

Simple convenience is the name of the game here, folks. Not too much to say, but the effort to improve the user experience is cool to see seeping through every inch of this game as time goes on.

Beyond those three, a number of other things were done that I figure are best left up to the concise words bestowed by in-game text:

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  • I haven’t played a lot with character supports beyond doing it for some stat buffs between my calvary units as a test run, but I guess it’s nice to see a more concise list of the benefits it provides right from the Support Rank icon. Don’t have much to say beyond that, however.
  • Voting Gauntlets don’t happen that often, and an aesthetic change as small as darkening out the members of a team you have selected other than the one that will appear in the Gauntlet is definitely more of an unnoticeable change unless you’ve been playing this game as long as I have. While I did notice this before even reading it in the change log, I’ll say pretty bluntly that it doesn’t change my life much at all.
  • Seeing every item you collect when using the “Accept All” option is a change that is arguably negligible enough to not have to be there at all, but I will admit there is something nice about getting a complete breakdown of what you’ll be earning should you be accepting items strewn across multiple mission and quest lines.
  • Gotta love bug fixes.

While that’s everything new with Version 1.8, I also figured it would be worth bringing up the new Voting Gauntlet that started today, if for no other reason than to look back at this when it’s over and lament whatever choices I’ve made in the here and now.

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The theme for this gauntlet is “The Blood of Dragons,” which pits Manakete against Manakete in a battle of the ancient bloodlines.

Not much has changed with this version in regards to the Voting Gauntlet system, other than the fact that supposedly adjustments were made in determining which army is stronger or weaker (which I really hope isn’t an actual fix considering what a meme it has become amongst my friends to send pictures of billion or trillion point differences in scores that read in-game as being the “same” as one another).

Though mechanically things are the same, there are some different rewards this time around for putting in the time to play:

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Take three – Possibly my most prominently used photo in any post ever just from this one alone.

Like I mentioned before in the Sacred Seals forging portion, now Sacred Coins have been added as rewards for completing Gauntlet-related quests. Between those and orbs, there are a growing number of incentives to participate as time goes on.

Personally, I’ll be participating on the side of young Tiki. She was one of my first five star units ever summoned, so there’s sentimental value there, and I also happen to adore her unrequited love for Marth in the canon of the games in which she appears.

I’m a sucker for that sort of thing, okay? Sue me.

If Tiki fails I’ll probably jump on the Nowi train since I get the feeling she has a strong chance of winning… But that’s a bridge we’ll have to cross when we get there. For now, I’ll just keep focused on supporting my girl as far as she’ll go.


Well, that about does it for another unnecessarily huge Fire Emblem Heroes post.

Seriously this was another relatively small update that I managed to turn into a 2,200 word post. How I do that is beyond me, but I sure hope that it clears out whatever issues I have backed up in my psyche in one way or another.

If you stuck with me so far, then thank you. As a reward, I’ll treat you with this: My favorite picture out of Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga so far.

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Nothing like a good old game of Donkey Kong to really bring the world together.

It’s either this one or blowing up the fat skeleton in the shipwrecked S.S. Chuckola, but that also requires some extra explanation to truly appreciate the fatso jokes, so… Yeah. For another time.

Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’m actually working on an article for the Daily Titan reviewing the Superstar Saga remake, so expect to see that by the end of the week. In fact, I have far more to say about the game than I’ll ever be allowed to publish, even if it’s probably going online-only, so expect to see an unabridged version of that review here on the blog not too long after.

Until then, let me know what you think of Sacred Seal forging and the other small changes from this update in the comments below!

If nothing else, I know messing with some of this stuff is going to be a wonderful distraction from having to study for my statistics exam this week. Seriously not looking forward to that.

Reunited and it feels so good

Reunited and it feels so good

After a long week of dealing in hard news, it feels nice to finally make it to the weekend.

It feels even nicer to make it to the weekend when that weekend happens to hold the ever-tantalizing promise of a brand new video game!

The remake of Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga came out today and boy have I been waiting in absolutely impatient anticipation for it. The original game came out almost 14 years ago, and I would argue it easily makes it into my top five favorite games of all time.

No joke, I’ve probably played through Superstar Saga completely a couple dozen times, or at least enough so that I can’t really keep track. It’s one of those games that’s not only a great time, but also always brings me right back to being a youngin’ before life started to get all full of responsibilities and junk.

Oh, and when I say it brings me back, I mean that pretty literally. I have very specific memories of standing by a wall in the yard/playground area of Birney Elementary School fighting the Queen Bean boss with some of my school friends on my Gameboy Micro. We’re talking real deep cuts here.

Ironically I also remember a very similar situation with a game that also got a fairly recent 3DS remake, Pokémon Sapphire. I distinctly remember being in that same general area with my friends, raising a Silcoon in Petalburg Woods (for some reason) while some sort of an elementary school band concert was going on. 

But I suppose that’s a story for another time. Cause I’m in Mario land now.

To be completely honest, this post isn’t even all that accurate, it might technically be misleading from the way I’ve been setting it up. I actually got this game a couple hours ago, but I’ve been so enthralled getting back into it that I forgot to finish writing this. 

Oops.

I’ve been meaning to write a post about the new Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon trailer from yesterday too, since it actually introduces us to a hell of a lot of information that makes me excited for the game… And I’ve also been meaning to study for this Statistics test I have next week… And I’ve been meaning to work on some editing for the Daily Titan to get us ahead for our special financial issue… But I guess we’ll just have to see how well balancing that all goes.

Long story short, Pokémon might unfortunately be the element that falls to the wayside, and if it is just know you can blame not knowing my opinions on an expansive Ultra Space on how much I’m playing Superstar Saga.

Having spent as much time on the remake as I have already, I can confidently say that I’m already forming a solid opinion about it, which is good because I promised our Lifestyle editor that I would be writing her a review for the game.

As a first impression blurb here before I start to put those thoughts more concretely onto paper, I’d say that the game is extremely faithful to the original game in many ways, such as the storyline and comedy that goes along with it, though just about everything graphically and in the sound design has been overhauled to… Mixed effect. Some of it is spot on, but some of it kind of misses the mark for me.

Oh, and there are a good amount of mechanical changes and improvements that sort of feel the same way. A lot of things seem more streamlined and easier to control as a result, but other things arguably feel more cumbersome, which I would almost unfortunately argue brings the issues of being so faithful to an older game to light.

Of course, I am only in the first area of the game outside of the tutorial zone, Stardust Fields, so perhaps my opinions will change as I get exposed to more and more of what’s going on. Either way, I know I’m already having a great time playing, and in a sense that almost makes all of my criticisms more the nit-pickings of an overly obsessive fan rather than anything truly damning.

I guess look forward to next week when I hopefully get that concise review put together. I’ll be working on trying not to kill my editor with an abundance of unnecessary detail… Though like I said, after last week, I’m relishing the opportunity to write something fun. 

So who knows. Only time will tell. Until then, you’ll know where to find me.

Continuing to have fury.

October 5, 2017 Article Published

I was looking to have this out earlier, but after my early day of classes I wound up coming home and passing out for a long time.

So… Better late than never, I suppose.

Yesterday, the Cal State Fullerton University Police Department sent out a crime alert about a suspect allegedly masturbating in public at the roundabout outside of Dan Black Hall and calling at least one person over to his car while doing so. The suspect drove off, but the police were able to get a basic description and a partial license plate from the female student who called in the public indecency.

To put it simply, my story is meant to be an informative piece letting members of the campus community know exactly what the police know at this point while adding comments from Capt. Scot Willey about police procedures with these cases, how confident they are in working this particular case and going more into how the details fit into our campus police’s push for a “see something, say something” mentality.

It’s a pretty basic crime story. Nothing too extremely challenging, but certainly one of the hallmarks of journalism at it’s core. Informing the public, giving them another chance to find out where they can assist the police if they can.

Though, I will admit… Getting to write about masturbation in an article was an interesting experience. Even if the contextual subject matter made it pretty gross overall. Even Capt. Willey sounded a little weirded out about the whole thing, and he has over 20 years of experience in law enforcement.

It probably didn’t help that I decided to write the story in the middle of my honors class on Wednesday. We were hoping to get the piece out as soon as possible for online to get a jump on the ‘informing the public’ side of things, so I had my laptop out during the admittedly slow lecture period to finish it so I didn’t hold up production all too long.

While I can’t say I’m complaining about the feeling of getting work done in an expedient fashion, it did feel just a little bit extra awkward to not only be writing about indecent public masturbation, but to do so sitting right next to a bunch of my friends from various honors classes.

But hey, guess that’s just what a journalist does.

If you want to see the article in its entirety, you can check it out here. You can also see my full archive of work for the Daily Titan over on the right!