This likely won’t be a substantial post (he says hopefully before getting into the actual writing portion of things), but I felt enough happened in Fire Emblem Heroes today to warrant something before the inevitable one year anniversary celebration.
First and foremost, there was a new Feh Channel released yesterday that updated everyone on new things coming around the bend.
I unfortunately have not had the time to watch it. That’s a majority of reason why I’m expecting this to be short.
Basically, I didn’t have time because all of yesterday evening was spent helping to cover President Trump’s State of the Union address.
I was at the College Republicans club watch party, took my own photos, did a wee bit of live tweeting, got a bunch of interviews… It was a pretty nice experience overall.
Then there was some weird stuff going on that led to us not having an article on it quite yet for some reason? But uhh… That’s a story for another time. Namely a time when that article actually gets written and published. Which will hopefully be soon.
That said, if you’re interested in watching the Feh Channel check it out here. I’ll probably get more caught up on the subject matter later.
In the meantime, some of the updates elaborated on in the informational video have already begun to roll out.
My picture just above kind of spoils things, but not as obviously as the featured image for this post… So I’ll quit burying the lede.
Ike has returned in a third form, this time as a Legendary Hero.
Seriously, anyone else remember when we were all wondering why Ike hadn’t shown up in game when he was clearly a title character all over the branding?
Legendary Hero Ike comes equipped with some familiar skills and some not-so-familiar skills. His weapon, Ragnell, is the same as his normal variant and gives him distant attack counters. He also comes with a more advanced version of his regular special attack called Radiant Aether which allows him to slash an opponent’s defensive stats and regain 50 percent of the damage he deals as his own health. By itself that’s a pretty wild combination of things. Yet, he also comes with three more skills in the form of Warding Breath (granting him +4 resistance if attacked and increasing Special cooldown charge), Seal Attack and Defense (causing a -5 debuff to both those stats after combat with a unit) and Defense Tactic (granting all infantry and armored units in his 2 square vicinity +6 defense each turn). I have a Brave Ike in my collection but not a regular Ike, so I would definitely be happy to pull this guy.
One of these days I’m really going to have to play the Radiant titles so I understand why Ike was so popular better.
But until I do, I can live out the hype with this beefy looking unit right here.
Assuming I can summon him.
Which, spoiler alert, has not been going super well for me so far. But because there are also some other subsidiary units on his Legendary Banner that I would want (namely Summer Xander, Gunnthrá and Siegbert), I’m going to keep going at it.
In controlled bursts. Not looking to go too crazy when there’s presumably Valentine’s Day units coming up soon. Even if there are only four days on this banner.
Though with the exceptional grace of a beautiful transition, there is an extra source of orbs in our midst as well.
Another miniature Tempest Trials has arrived, not too long after our last New Years-themed event. A long time ago I complained about burnout associated with these suckers, but since I’ve discovered a grinding method that works for me I’m far more welcoming of it.
Even if that trial I complained about was themed after Ike’s games, ironically enough.
Maybe this is what it means to have a full developmental arc?
Who knows. After all, all of that is beside the point because really who can complain about extra orbs, medals and a new character? Especially when that new character is Marisa:
You’re no Neimi, but you’ll do. Welcome to the team.
Part of my burnout treatment has been not talking about these Tempest Trial runs like I used to, but this one is special enough that I felt it would be worth delving into the plot a little bit further.
As always, it begins with Lucina (or Marth still, despite the fact that it seems like everyone knows something is fishy behind her mask) arriving at a new place to take on yet another outcropping of the threatening Tempest. This time with Heroes-specific units to greet her:
Fjorm seems interested in helping out, but as I mentioned is suspicious of the mask. It makes Lucina untrustworthy apparently.
I do understand that to an extent… But let’s be real, the mask is super sweet and I would trust anyone wearing it.
Editor’s Note: Don’t try to coerce me into things wearing Lucina’s butterfly mask.
Just figured I’d put that out there.
Fjorm has just one idea to prove that Lucina is a trustworthy compatriot:
But then, just as Fjorm is about to take the legendary Falchion…
Fjorm wasn’t Fjorm all along! She was Loki in disguise once again.
From there she just says she’ll wait for you to arrive at the deepest part of the Tempest to fight her, but there was honestly just something about this plot twist I really enjoyed.
I don’t know, I guess it just worked well in reference to character traits Intelligent Systems has established thus far. You know me, I’m a fan of strong characterization.
It continues on too, considering Loki is actually Fjorm in the final battle of the Tempest Trial run.
That about covers everything I have to say regarding this Fire Emblem Heroes update.
Like I said earlier, there should be more to come in the near future when we get to the anniversary of the game’s release. That’ll be dope for anyone who pines during the downtime without Fire Emblem posts.
For anyone who doesn’t pine for Fire Emblem posts… Well… Like I said, something about the State of the Union should be coming soon. I also have a few other plans in the next couple days I’m planning on writing about, so overall there should just be some nice activity going on around here.
So, until next time, what do you think about Legendary Ike? Besides him, who else would you want to get out of the new summoning banner?
Seriously though, for just a momentary how the sausage is made, I’m starting to write this as I’m walking from my parking spot in Lot A to my first class of the day at the Humanities and Social Sciences building (which for those of you who have not been to Cal State Fullerton, is a literal cross-campus walk) because I was so awe-struck by the force of nature on display today.
The wind was so strong that not only was it making it hard for me to open my door, but it also slammed the door shut behind me. Like actually slammed it. Probably could have hurt me if I was in the path of the door!
Don’t know why that struck me so poignantly today, but I felt it was worth noting before I got into my articles.
That said… Let’s talk about my articles published today.
Once again we had a weeklong issue, our last one before we begin daily productions next week. So once again I took the extra time to write two stories.
The first was a much quicker project. It was a crime story based on a tip we received from our Layout Editor Tracy. I talked with University Police Captain Scot Willey about it, and though he did not know a lot about the actual incident, we did talk a bit about the procedure and recommendations surround it.
Essentially, the police got a suspicious person call regarding a non-student in the Pollak Library who was believed to be watching pornography on one of the library’s computers. The officers who responded did not find anything necessarily suspicious, but the call was enough that they asked the man to leave and he readily complied.
No super huge crime drama here, but it does include a good couple pieces of advice that I think could be applicable even outside of our own personal University Police jurisdiction. Plus, in some roundabout way, I got to write about pornography in the school newspaper. So that’s a pretty special occasion in its own right.
If you want to read that article, check it out here.
The second piece I wrote was far more involved and frankly became one of my favorite articles… Well, ever really. But probably more for the intrinsic reasonings behind it.
A mainstay of our coverage of Cal State Fullerton on the Daily Titan, as I would assume stands for all college newspapers, is attending and deep-diving into the Academic Senate. It’s essentially a governing body akin to a City Council after all, just with more of a direct impact on the campus proper.
In the past our Academic Senate writers have not been… Fantastic, in my experience. That’s not to say they’re at fault necessarily, it’s a touch subject to jump into for someone with little-to-know governmental reporting experience – or reporting experience in general for that matter. However, because it has such an impact on the campus, I’ve always felt bad that it never seems to get the care and attention it otherwise deserves.
So I put my money where my mouth was and covered a meeting of my own this last week.
It turned out that I picked a good meeting to cover at that, since the main decision of the meeting was plenty interesting. Easily passed on the consent calendar was a proposal requesting that the Asian American Studies program on campus undergo an administrative change to become a full-on department in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Now, just because it passed at the Academic Senate doesn’t mean we have a new department already. The decision actually acts as more of a recommendation to pass the proposal, with the president’s office receiving the documentation to make a final decision sometime about a week after the meeting according to Academic Senate Chair Stephen Stambough.
Luckily, I had preempted that this decision would be the most interesting part of the meeting judging by the agenda we received ahead of time, and I spent some time doing interviews with people like the coordinator of the program, Eliza Noh, to get a better understanding of its history and why the faculty hoped to move it up to department status.
In essence it was presented that shifting into a department would create no new burden on the school because Asian American Studies already operates so closely to a department. It would mostly effect things like the professors’ letterhead and allow them to be more widely recognized as an official mainstay at CSUF.
The coordinator and Thomas Fujita-Tony, the liaison between Asian American Studies and the Academic Senate, were quite happy about the development. As was most of the rest of the chamber given their cheer when the decision was made.
Also, just as an extra teaser, this article had probably one of my favorite little scene openers ever. So if you want to see that or are just generally interested in a small dive into a program meant to flesh out otherwise probably dull meeting coverage story, check out my article here.
I also quite liked this one because I went out of my way to get some extra visuals for online only, so I consider it an extended cut compared to the print version.
As always, you can also see the full archive of my work for the Daily Titan over on the right.
It’s a rare occurrence I know, but frankly observing sports is a rare occurrence in my life in general, so it makes sense.
I have been known to enjoy a good Dodger game with my family or watch the Lakers on T.V. on occasion, but I’ve never proclaimed to be a sports nut in any respect. In fact, the Women’s Basketball game I went to tonight is the first sport game of any kind of that I’ve gone to during my nearly three year experience at Cal State Fullerton.
I’ve only been inside the Titan Gym only one other time before this, and that was after I first committed to CSUF. It was one of those “welcome to our school” pep rally sort of deals, but I don’t admittedly remember very much about it other than the fact that it was held in the gym.
Probably the only reason that sticks out in my mind is because that was my only experience in that gym up until now, since I’m thinking about it…
But that’s getting a bit too into the weeds on unnecessary information.
What is important right now is that I was in the gym for an actual for real game! As part of Kyle and Sarah’s new design for Comm 471 this semester, all of us staff writers are being required to cycle between the four main desks as dedicated writers for a couple of weeks at a time. That means for two week run times, each of us are going to be a dedicated part of the News, Opinion, Lifestyle and Sports desks.
It figures that an anti-sport kind of guy like me would get Sports desk first and foremost in that rotation.
Actually, it is a little funny how things worked out. Out of the seven or eight people in my rotation group, I’m the only person who isn’t already a sports junkie. So it’s a bit more of an uphill climb for me to get used to everything that’s going on than it is for everyone else in my group.
The nice thing is, getting used to things involves trying stuff out that I otherwise never would do on my own. Like going to a basketball game.
Hell I arguably got a cooler experience than most because I got to be credentialed for the game:
Plus I got to be court side at the game and sit in on our sports editor Jared’s interview with a couple of the players and the coach afterward in the conference room.
Really, although it was cool to check out a game and see some of the inner workings of writing a recap of a sporting event, I think I got a pretty clear understanding of why sports aren’t exactly my forte.
A good chunk of that was the predictable not-complete-comprehension of all the specific statistics and lingo involved with following sports for a living.
Seriously look at how many of these box score readouts they give out to the press. Not only are there a metric ton of them just for one game, but I honestly have no idea what I’m supposed to be gathering from any of them. I think I can figure out a little bit of what they say here or there, but until I get more used to reading them they mostly just look like a jumbled mess of numbers to me.
However, the reason that stuck out to me the most during this experience of physically being there was just… Generally how little I felt like I was focusing on the game itself compared to everything happening around it.Like yes it was engaging watching the players move back and forth and fall all over each other to an extent, but even so I seemed to be more curious about the people other than the players.Like for instance:I was watching and listening to the band quite a bit, both to essentially live tweet what they were playing to my band geek of a sister but also just to figure out exactly what they were playing and why we needed the live band if there was also going to be other artists DJ’d on the speakers.
I also found myself paying quite a bit of attention to the auxiliary cheer and spirit accompaniment. I had no idea they just sat at the side of the court waiting. What are they doing when they aren’t doing a routine? What are they thinking about? How do they keep themselves entertained if they aren’t sports lovers like myself and don’t want to watch the game?
Plus don’t even get me started on the person in the Tuffy mascot costume. I can’t even look at that thing without remembering my friend Harrison’s story about a Public Relations person trying to convince him that the mascot was a real elephant that didn’t have a person inside.Also watching the referees having to run back and forth all night alongside the players was pretty hilarious to me, honestly. I don’t know why, but I was thoroughly entertained just watching them and the people who came in whenever a player fell to sweep up and polish the floor again.
Then beyond that I was also doing some work on my phone at the same time, section editing stories and such, as I was listening in on the radio announcers sitting next to us who were talking live over the whole event. It’s always baffled me how they can follow a game and talk over it the entire time. Though I suppose that’s the same thing as half of the gaming YouTube personalities I watch… So I shouldn’t be that enamored by it.Anyway, I think that’s enough rambling for now. Long story short, I went to a sports game with the editor who’s a cool guy, had a pretty nice time and let my mind wander to all the extra things going on that I never would have noticed due to my general apathy.Should be an interesting couple of weeks as I try to figure out exactly how to cover something I have next to no experience with.Until then I have two articles getting published for this upcoming weeklong paper tomorrow, and a bunch of other work adjusting to all of my classes. So I’m going to head home and get started on most of that.Peace Fullerton, thanks for giving me the opportunity to get some insight on something new, and I’ll see you again tomorrow.
About a week ago, we got a new calendar showcasing the many events that were coming down the pipeline in Fire Emblem Heroes for the first few months of the year.
By many events, I do mean many events.
Wow. Talk about a busy lineup, right?
Through the sizable web of things happening I, alongside many other fans of the Fire Emblem series, noticed something interesting. The chief antagonist of my favorite Fire Emblem game, the Sacred Stones, was coming up as a Grand Hero Battle. Then, when he cleared off, Valder would be returning.
Two Sacred Stones units in a row? Well that’s odd. Could it possibly be a coincidence given that a new summoning focus was set to begin just before they arrived?
As it turns out, it was not a coincidence. This new banner is indeed Sacred Stones-themed like everyone was hoping.
Let me tell you, I was excited about the sheer possibility of a banner from this game as soon as the calendar was hot on the presses. Every time something with Sacred Stones comes up, my heart starts firing at all cylinders.
Was my excitement met with an ample return from Intelligent Systems?
Am I ready as ever to immerse myself in the world of the Sacred Stones?
Would I be asking this many rhetorical questions if I didn’t have a subverting comment waiting in the wings?
Read on to find out.
To make a long cliffhanger short, I am indeed pretty excited about these units! Like I said already, it’s hard for me not to be excited when this game comes out of the woodwork.
However, there is one blemish on this otherwise beautiful sight that leaves me somewhat embittered about the whole thing.
But I’ll get to that. For now, let’s start examining what our new summon-able friends bring to the table.
Peaking a little early here, Intelligent Systems? On top of being an obvious fan favorite character, Myrrh also has arguably the most interesting and powerful build in this new bunch. She’s a rarity, being not only our second green dragon unit in the game, but also a green dragon unit with a flying movement-type distinction. You can probably build some crazy interesting half-dragon/half-flying team combinations with her on your side. It helps that she looks as powerful as she does unique, boasting a skill to Hone other manakete units, the attack-heavy Fury and Bonfire special attack and a special breath weapon that makes her hit a weaker defensive stat against ranged units. A pretty sweet spread all-and-all.
Yet another fan favorite character who seems to be bringing her wonderful holier-than-thou divine justice, but a strange name pronunciation. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever thought to say “Lara shell,” but to be fair the game developers also had a different pronunciation for Innes so I guess that trait runs strong in Sacred Stones. L’Arachel also has a bit of a strange skill spread compared to the undoubtedly powerful Myrrh. Rather than being a staff-wielding troubadour, as most likely remember her, she’s much more akin to her valkyrie advancement in that she uses the sacred light weapon Ivaldi (now a blue tome). Though it doesn’t have great base power, she gains bonuses in attack and speed when fighting a full health unit. An interesting add-on admittedly. However, from there she carries the sub-par special attack Glowing Light and bulk-centric Renewal (which may or may not be important depending on her stat spread), as well as the brand new Resistance Tactic that grants a big boost to infantry and armored units. There’s possibly some synergy here, we’ll have to see.
Anamnesis: Noun. The recollection or remembrance of the past. I’ll admit, this is a very clever title for Eirika given her overwhelming insistence on remembering all the good times between her, Ephraim and Lyon. If I had to guess before jumping into the story missions, this theme will play into them appearing together and I appreciate that. Unfortunately, it also brings me to remember the fact that we already got Eirika as a unit. A long, long time ago. Don’t get me wrong, it’s cool when we get new versions of old units through Brave Heroes and holiday-themed events, and I’ve been an advocate for Eirika on horseback like her final form in the original game for some time… But when a second version of a unit shows up like this in a main summoning focus, it just feels like a slot was taken that could have been filled by another. Especially since her skill spread seems like the most underwhelming of the three heroes here despite her boasting five skills. Plus, what’s with her having the dark tome Gleipnir? She can never learn how to use magic in the Sacred Stones, it just seems… Nonsensical. Unless there’s a story reason that I haven’t gotten to yet, but I guess we’ll see.
I don’t really know what it is about Eirika that bugs me so much. Her appearance here is what makes me feel rather bitter about this whole banner despite the fact that it’s based on my favorite game in the series and has two wonderful units in it. Seriously, Myrrh and L’Arachel are great and I’m going to be trying to get both, but why did we get a weird reprint of Eirika now?
It really feels like it would have made more sense to release a horseback Eirika as a Brave hero down the line, for me at least.
Plus that would have saved room for someone like Neimi.
I mean seriously Intelligent Systems, how much more do I have to beg? I appreciate Myrrh and L’Arachel, and I know both Lyon and Marisa are coming soon too from other events… But I just want my favorite character in the game already.
I’ll keep voting in the new Choose Your Legends event until I get her.
If nothing else, I suppose it’s a positive that she’s not in the game because I don’t feel as bad voting for her? But not really, because I would have voted for her anyway.
I will seriously throw my Brave Lyn away in a heartbeat if we got a horseback archer Neimi at some point.
That’s about enough empty, ridiculous bitching about a gotcha game for one day, though. Thanks to the Radiant Dawn banner screwing me over and scaring me away at the same time as a Tempest Trial, I’m starting off this Sacred Stones banner with 94 orbs, so I’m feeling lucky about nabbing that Myrrh.
Wait, what was that? I wrote this whole section before the update even happened you say?
Well… You’re not wrong.
Luckily, now present day Jason can report some good news on the tail end of this somewhat negative build-up:
I GOT DAT MYRRH BABY, YEAH!!! WOO!!
Also she’s apparently sassy as FUCKhere. It’s absolutely incredible, and I’m very happy and lucky considering this happened so easily.
It only took 30 orbs to nab her too! So I still have about 60 orbs – without having done all of the new missions and all – to spend either on future special banners or to come back and try my hands at L’Arachel.
It’s a bit of a tough choice since I love Sacred Stones, but also I love having special holiday variant heroes.
Just don’t read too much into that in comparison to my vague disdain toward a new version of Eirika appearing.
On that note, the question remains regarding whether or not my predictions about a reminiscent Eirika/Lyon interactions were valid, which strikes me as a perfect segue into story.
While I am a bit surprised to see two main story chapters show up in such a short period of time, I can’t say I’m opposed to it. Especially considering this chapter goes into a really deep amount of interesting character development.
Before they head off, however, we get to see a much deeper look into Alfonse’s daddy issues.
It actually gets a bit heavy, even if things aren’t very thoroughly explained in my opinion.
Alfonse talks about how his father is leading an army to protect the land of Askr, yet he doesn’t agree with Alfonse being a part of the Order of Heroes… Which for all intents and purposes is essentially an army protecting the land of Askr.
Sure, the Order led by a greedy general, and I guess they’re fairly ‘hands on’ as he says, but otherwise I don’t necessarily see the distinction off-hand.
Plus, the game leaves off other potentially relevant details, like why Alfonse seems to be ostracized but Sharena, his sister, isn’t. Maybe that’s just her hiding it away because she’s got a happy-go-lucky kind of defense mechanism, but if that’s true we don’t get too much of an indication to that effect either.
Am I thinking too much into this? Maybe. But I’ve got no qualms talking about my love of the lore in this game. Seeing character development is always great, and Alfonse gets some powerful stuff here.
Of course right after that ends they’re interrupted by Sharena bringing him colored hay he asked for… Which I didn’t exactly know was a thing?
Once you get through the first hefty story dump with a strange conclusion, the next couple of missions go relatively quietly.
Most of the summoning focus characters do get brief introductions, but that’s about all.
For some reason, Myrrh doesn’t get any sort of introduction. Why do you guys have to short my gal, Intelligent Systems? It’s not like she’s the Great Dragon of legend or anything.
Also I guess that does bring up another point I’d like to address. It feels like the Sacred Stones heroes got a bit shafted here.
In the context of the universe, the only reason game-specific heroes are still appearing is because Princess Veronica has teamed up with Surtr and is providing contracted mercenaries, essentially. From that angle, I understand why they don’t necessarily have a huge amount of time given in the main storyline compared to more independent, specifically focused Paralogues… But still.
The music playing under everything is from the Sacred Stones, but the maps aren’t. Which is unfortunate because seeing the miniature representations of original game maps is still one of my favorite things about playing Fire Emblem Heroes.
It’s a shame, though I can let it slide considering main story progression is put on the forefront here.
That progression has the Order of Heroes eventually making it to the gateway into Fjorm’s homeland, which is sealed by a massive magical MacGuffin.
Arriving at that gateway has the story kick up to 11 once again. After all, it takes time for Fjorm to open up the gate, and you know what holding a position for a long time entails:
Surtr arrives to ambush the Order, which does lead to one of my favorite aesthetic effects in the history of Fire Emblem Heroes thus far.
Chapter 4-4: The Young Dragon
Chapter 4-5: Fiery Resolve
What a cool duality between invading and defending. I love that sort of thing, revisiting an old area with a new coat of paint. It’s just rad game design!
But you know what else is rad?
How cool of a villain Surtr is.
I won’t even qualify it that much, just look at how savage and unequivocally insane the guy is.
It’s just amazing seeing such a gruesome person in a mobile game spin-off of a somewhat kid friendly Nintendo franchise. I’ve come to really love a lot of the characters from the Fire nation, and this kind of unchecked intensity is one of the reasons why.
Though I do think it’s hilarious that you get a long, intense monologue from Surtr, only for him to send his two lackies in first and arrive after turn 3.
Especially since he’s invincible. So he’s just giving you the opportunity to end the fight before he can help.
Good guy Surtr?
Okay definitely not. But when you beat this mission, the story goes wildly off the rails once again.
After Fjorm opens the gateway to allow your heroes to escape, they have to come to terms with making the decision to run and fight another day even if that means Surtr destroys a nearby village.
Alfonse leads the charge to run away, which feels uncharacteristic after a whole mission set surrounding his citizen-first mentality.
Once they escape, however, the story cuts back to focus more on Surtr’s forces.
Then, in the surprise of the century, Xander reveals that he’s still relevant to the main plot.
Yeah, remember when Xander was important as the General of Veronica’s army? Well apparently he hasn’t disappeared.
Honestly it’s getting to a point where I wouldn’t argue with people shipping Veronica and Xander together. Clearly he’s sticking with her for the long run, after all.
Plus there are people who are into older men like that. I don’t judge.
Anyway… That aside, Veronica and Surtr start arguing over whether he should destroy the town, since Veronica is keen on having them be part of the Emblian empire once Askr is destroyed.
Before they can fight, Loki stops the group by letting them know the town is empty.
Colored hay ex machina? Or nice use of chekhov’s gun? I’ll let you decide.
After Surtr metaphorically cools his jets and agrees to keep Veronica around longer, he splits his forces up, setting things in motion for the next big mission.
What a long, frankly fascinating journey just this one mission series is. The character development is interesting, the writing is clever and everything moves at a good pace.
Even if the Sacred Stones heroes feel a little left behind, I can’t argue with what we got.
Oh, and no Lyon yet in case you hadn’t noticed. I know he’s coming tomorrow, but it does seem like a waste not to have him appear with Eirika here in this set somewhere.
Especially since they alluded to it all over the place!
As I’m sure you can tell, this banner has been a bit divisive for me.
On the one hand, it’s Sacred Stones-themed, so I’m predisposed to like it. Especially since Myrrh and L’Arachel are in it. Plus, the story they have going that includes these heroes is easily the best we’ve seen out of this game yet in my opinion.
I even got Myrrh with very minimal sacrifices. That’s awesome!
But at the same time, Eirika reappearing still bugs me wildly. Especially considering they really don’t do anything with her! I’m more than willing to admit that there’s probably just some personal bias here.
I love Eirika and the fact that they included a horseback version of her, but it was so wildly disappointing seeing her taking up a slot in this summoning focus, and that just really hit me hard. I’m willing to bet it’s in part because I’ve had a rough first week of school this semester and am taking even slight blemishes in overall great developments as over-embellished issues.
That said, as much as I want to complain about it, everything outside of Eirika here really lines up perfectly and would probably be my favorite update in some time otherwise.
So I’m going to stop looking at the negatives and take everything for what it really is: Some damn well done story and gameplay.
With a little bit of luck in summoning to boot.
I guess with all that said, all I really have to add is… Here’s looking forward to Lyon being good, hopefully.
How do you feel about this new summoning focus, or the story it accompanies?
If you could have any other hero from Sacred Stones beside Eirika a second time, who would you want to see?
Let me know in the comments below, and until next time. I’m off to get some rest so I can cover an Academic Senate meeting in the morning.
Editor’s Note: For anyone who may be confused seeing this style of review show up here, let me explain. This article was one I had originally written for the Daily Titan’s first spring 2018 issue. Though the movie had its official wide release on Jan. 12 and we find ourselves in the midst of Oscar season, it was decided a review of this particular flick wouldn’t be timely enough to go in print by the time we hit production.
But of course, as luck would have it, I had finished writing the article before finding out it wasn’t running.
So I decided to cannibalize my own work and put it out on my personal blog with some additional bits added on. After all, what would be the point of having a blog for my writing if I didn’t do that sort of thing, and what better time is there to share something like this than the day Oscar nominations have been announced? It is a best picture nominee after all, amongst other things.
Plus I figured this movie in particular fit the theme of my blog given that it surrounds an important part of journalism history.
That said, I’ll stop blabbing and let you get to my opinions. If you enjoy this sort of thing let me know, since I have been considering doing this kind of personal publishing more often.
In 1971, a series of classified documents known as The Pentagon Papers were leaked to and published by The New York Times, revealing multiple presidential opinions on the futility of the Vietnam War despite its escalation.
When the government attempted to censor this sensitive information publishing, other papers like The Washington Post stepped in to continue the job.
Steven Spielberg’s latest movie “The Post” captures this important period in American and journalistic history that brought The Washington Post to mainstream popularity while offering viewers a more intimate, behind-the-scenes glimpse at the paper’s struggle with deciding whether or not to publish The Pentagon Papers.
This struggle is chiefly characterized by the film’s two lead characters, The Washington Post’s publisher Katherine “Kay” Graham (Meryl Streep) and editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks).
Throughout the movie Graham must come to terms with being the first female publisher of a major newspaper after she inherits the business from her deceased husband.
Her inner turmoil comes from having to make the decision to potentially betray old family friends in the White House’s previous administrations so the public can learn the truth, while subsequently dealing with the “boy’s club” of publishers and investors who don’t believe a woman has what it takes to handle the job.
Meanwhile, Bradlee has to deal with the humiliation of losing such a huge scoop to The New York Times despite being the editor of Washington D.C.’s local paper, as well as the immense amount of work it takes for his team to secure a copy of the documents and go to print in a limited timeframe.
Eventually Bradlee also must come to terms with the fact that the potential illegality of publishing classified government documents may backfire on his longtime ally and friend Graham, who has much more at stake and much more to lose.
One of the standout means of building tension in the film comes from the way it showcases the more limited technologies available in the 1970s that led to more of an involved newsprint production process.
For example, one scene that comes to mind has a copy editor asked to do all of his red pen corrections on a physical printout of the major article in 30 minutes before sending it off in a pneumatic tube to be laid out on a more traditional printing press.
However, Hank’s performance is clearly overshadowed by Streep, who does an incredible job capturing the internal debate and eventual paradigm shift of Graham to support her staff and the First Amendment in spite of what the government would prefer.
Her arc is also given some clear signposts throughout the movie to show her role as a historically significant feminine figure, which Streep nails in facial expressions alone in scenes like her emergence from the Supreme Court toward the end of the story. In that moment she seems to ignore the primarily male-dominated crowd of journalists to instead focus on the passing businesswomen who have stopped to watch the commotion.
Unfortunately, performances are really the only place that “The Post” stands out. Despite having the legendary team of Spielberg as director and John Williams as composer, nothing about the presentation is necessarily exceptional.
The movie looks nice and sounds nice, is well-cast and well-written, but one would be hard pressed to walk out of the theatre after watching it and remember a particular image or score from the experience as something special that stays with them.
Even with this caveat, the performances and socio-historical importance backing up the movie make it undoubtedly worth seeing.
In an era begot by cries of “fake news” and the divisive presidency of Donald Trump, it is especially important to see this story come to the table in such a high-profile form to remind the world about the importance both of newspapers as a government watchdog and of the public staying informed with a higher degree of news literacy.
On top of that, “The Post” also fits in wonderfully with the strong legacy of journalism-based films.
Because of the way Spielberg uses the same Washington Post office set piece and ends the movie on a sort of cliffhanger teasing the start of the Watergate scandal, “The Post” and “All the President’s Men” could literally be watched in seamless succession to give anyone who did or did not live through the 1970s a clear understanding of the importance of newspapers, particularly The Washington Post, in American history.
Just like that, the daily grind begins once again.
After our first official deadline night of the semester yesterday, I can definitely say that it was a strange experience to once again be sitting in the center of the room as an assistant. Probably the most off-putting thing about it is the fact that I feel more disconnected from the overall workings of the paper than I have in a long time.
Though I did personally get out at a reasonable hour.
Leaving the newsroom at 10 p.m.? What madness is this? Living that #AssistantLife
Considering that’s going to be happening a lot more this semester, I suppose I can’t complain.
Plus, the usual positives of working at the Titan were at play as usual. Namely getting to spend time with my friends on staff, who for the most part carried over from last semester. In particular it was nice having lunch with our now Social Media Editor Lissete, who is at least one of the people on my list of those I’d like to spend more time with now that I actually have some free time available as an assistant.
I can also certainly never argue with the great feeling that comes with getting content out on that newsprint.
For this first weeklong issue of the semester, I wrote two pieces.
The first, published in the main paper, is an article about current president searches in the Cal State University system. The story idea was originally something I had been discussing with our advisor Bonnie toward the end of last semester when Mildred García announced she would be leaving. At that point, Bonnie had told me that there were four CSU campuses looking for new presidents all at once. I thought it was a really interesting story at the time, but unfortunately I didn’t have the chance to commit to it at that point.
So for our first issue this semester, I finally picked it up.
Granted, the first kick in the pants for me came thanks to a request from Dr. Sexton, who wanted to know the layout of presidents across the system for an article he’s putting together for the LA Times. Compiling that data for him offered me the perfect opportunity to take the work and use it for my own purposes.
After looking through that compiled data to sort out which schools were searching for presidents – CSU Bakersfield, Dominguez Hills and San Diego, for the record – I was also able to find a few other interesting details. For example, only three current CSU presidents started their tenure before 2012. That’s three out of 23, for those who don’t know.
This information is important because it effects CSUF directly. Our new president, Framroze Virjee (who also got a dedicated article in this issue that’s worth the read), is a temporary appointment until June 2019. One of the reasons why the search for the person coming after him doesn’t start until this fall is because the CSU wants to get the current three searches out of the way first.
Don’t know why I felt the need to advertise Hof’s Hut, but there you go.
If I had to guess, I’ll probably be pursuing this topic (the president searches, not Hof’s Hut) more in the future.
The second article I wrote went in the special first issue insert, themed after technology this semester. The topic I chose means a lot to me personally: video games.
My article for the Tech Issue is more specifically about the fairly recent addition of gaming disorder onto the World Health Organization’s beta draft for the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases. Or the WHO’s ICD-11 in much easier, abbreviated terms.
This one is actually the longer of the two pieces I wrote, since it wound up being more like an interesting little passion project for me. I won’t delve too deep into it here since you can check out the article for yourselves, but essentially I laid out exactly what this disorder would entail if it’s added into the ICD-11’s finalized version, talked about some of the history of looking at video games in a critical manner through other organizations like the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5 and addressed some of the potential consequences of putting out an official potential diagnosis.
My two interviews, one with a Mihaylo College of Business and Economics professor who specializes in technological addiction, and the other with a School of Nursing professor who specializes in behavioral disorders and substance abuse. The prior wound up taking the most space in the story because I had a long, involved interview with him, while the latter was a little bit more specialized in individual places because we had some issues scheduling our time to talk. Her interview was shorter as a result, but I definitely got some interesting information all the same.
Of course, if you want to see any of my pieces for the Daily Titan, you can check out my archive over on the right. Since I’m a part of 471 this semester, you can probably expect me to be writing a bunch of articles to fill that up more than it already is. These two are just the beginning, and I have at least two more slated already for the next two weeks that I have to start working on.
However, for now my priority is getting some rest so I can be prepared for the first day of school tomorrow.
Or… Today technically, since this is coming out the morning of the 22nd. But hey, the human brain works in mysterious ways, so from a temporal standpoint I’m going to write how I feel like writing.
With all that said, good luck to anyone getting their school life going again this week. May we all survive the inevitable slog that is the spring 2018 semester.
I have been meaning to do this sort of thing for a while. However, even though I’ve had a number of weeks off during Winter Break to edit my stuff before this, sheer laziness has been a hell of a driving force in keeping me away from doing even this simple task.
Yet after working on a wide-range of content across the board of organizations I split my time between this week (including a bi-weekly Gladeo meeting, ) I finally feel a little bit of that laziness melting away in place of the inevitable strung-out workaholic nature I tend to slip into during school semesters.
In an ironic twist, I decided to take a break from that job productivity I’m finally feeling to instead do something personally productive by updating my blog. Does that defeat the purpose of being productive by acting as a glorified variant of procrastination?
What can I say, sometimes it helps me gain traction in one realm of work if I find that I can be productive doing something. Anything, really. Even if some people might think it’s just a distraction.
But I’m getting a little too deep in my mind’s weeds at this point. After all, this is basically just meant to be a signpost to advertise that there are more things to look at on my blog. So, what new things are there to look at on my blog?
Basically that encompasses the entire change. Until next week, when my first two articles of the semester are published, it shouldn’t see too much more activity.
Second, I added a new page to serve as an archive of my involvement with BOOM California. As an assistant for BOOM a lot of my current work involves simply copy editing pieces that are slated to be published on the organization’s website, since there are no longer print publications being put out. Those edits don’t get explicit credit, so what I primarily focused on was adding links to the larger magazines that were printed and have my name attached.
Third, I added a second new page to serve as an archive of my involvement with the Gladeo League. While pieces for Gladeo have a relatively slow roll-out, and I had a lull of writing for them as I went through my personal medical concerns, I stayed on with the group and will continue to work on profiles for them going forward. Thus, I decided it was about time to create a dedicated place to store everything I write. So far I have two highlights up, but there are two more I’m working on as of right now.
These new pages are available to check out now over on the right alongside the rest of my experience databases. The only thing I haven’t been able to figure out is how to properly adjust the categories in an order I’d prefer to see them in.
For some reason the default is alphabetical order, and for the life of me I can’t seem to reorder them in any other way. It’s a small logistical thing, but it bugs me. Even if I’m sure it doesn’t bug anyone else.
That said, as I mentioned before the spring 2018 semester begins next week. Though I suppose I didn’t quite write about everything I had looked to thanks to my aforementioned laziness – my feelings on Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon comes to mind – I did do a good amount of housekeeping that I’d wanted to over the break. In my opinion, this is a good capstone for that.
So as the semester begins, for anyone going back into the trenches with me, I wish you all only the best of luck.
Welcome to your multi-faceted Fire Emblem Heroes post for the week.
Yesterday, Heroes got a semi-large scale update that implemented some new features. Today, brand new heroes from Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn were added into the game.
So let’s not mess around friends, there’s plenty to cover and a limited amount of moonlight to write about it, but I’m just as excited to get into it all the same.
This little list in the notifications page kind of covers everything succinctly, but in trademarked Jason Rochlin fashion I’m going to jump into each point individually, likely over-embellishing their descriptions as I discuss my thoughts.
Hero Merit limit increase
For those of you who don’t know about Hero Merit, one of the many underlying systems in Fire Emblem Heroes that runs as you use your units to battle others is the accumulation of Hero Merit. This Merit doesn’t necessarily affect the heroes themselves in any way, but it’s highly beneficial for players to work toward maxing it out all the same.
When a specific unit reaches an interval of 500 Hero Merit, the player can receive 500 Hero Feathers. With the new increased capacity, players can earn 4,000 Hero Feathers with each character.
I’ve become more of a fan of Hero Feathers as of late, as they are what allow you to unlock an individual unit’s potential. In other words it allows you to grow a unit from a three star rarity to a four star rarity or a four star rarity to a five star rarity.
Now that I know the value of merging multiple five star units together to increase their power, I have a much more positive outlook on these collectibles – and a much higher need of them considering it takes 20,000 Hero Feathers to buff one unit to a five star.
Pre-battle map checking
This kind of system was implemented in other game modes, especially those where you have to fight multiple maps in a row like Squad Assault, but now you can use it any time for just about any map you can access.
As far as what it does… Well, it should be fairly self-explanatory when I say “pre-battle map checking.” Want to see what your units will be up against in the next fight? Check the map ahead of time, take a look at the opponent units and what skills they have to come in better prepared.
That’s really about that. It’s a simply but highly useful change.
More Sacred Seals & Weapon Refining
To be completely honest I can’t do this particular change any more justice than the screenshot above does.
Two new legendary weapons can be refined, though the only one that really matters to me is Sanaki’s special red tome, as she’s a five star unit I have and use fairly often.
Personally I hope this change is an indication that more upgrades will be coming in the near future, since there are plenty of other units that have legendary weapons that I would love to buff.
Cough cough Eirika cough
The Sacred Seals that were added to the construction option also aren’t very important to me personally. They’re all Seals that were available in the past as part of Tempest Trials rewards, so I already had all of them leading up to this addition.
Thus, I can’t actually build any of them. I already have them.
Oh well, at least other newer players now have access to some cool additional skills.
New terrain type: Trenches
While the screenshot above once again covers all of the information I currently have about this new terrain type, I’m quite interested in seeing how trenches affect the game going forward.
From the description alone, it just seems like trenches are being added as a check to cavalry units. Instead of their usual three space movement range, heroes on horseback can only go one space when moving across trenches. It’s a small debuff if the maps where they’re featured don’t have an excessive amount, but it is interesting to note that Intelligent Systems is trying to hit one of the most prevalent unit types in competitive play.
Of course we don’t know whether the trenches have extra utility because they aren’t featured in any of the new story maps… But that’s a different story. For now it just seems like these things might be more of an aesthetic implementation than a practical one.
Beyond those major points, the other changes are small or tie into bug fixes specifically. The only one I can recall having an impact on me is the way they’ve made it so units without weapons aren’t added to the pool of potential allies when playing in a Voting Gauntlet.
That’s cool, but also I never ran into the problem personally so I guess I never well.
With all that said, let’s move into the next leg of this marathon. Everyone’s favorite: A new summoning focus banner.
Three heroes from Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn have arrived in Heroes, and their appearance also continues on the legacy of Radiant game focuses apparently being Intelligent System’s choice to advance the game’s overarching plot.
But of course, we can’t get into silly things like plot without discussing the merits of our new potential allies.
Micaiah is interesting in that she is apparently a fan favorite unit who also happens to look quite overpowered. As an added note, she actually has five skills but I could only get four to line up for a picture so know that she also has Drive Attack as her C skill. This girl’s weapon is kind of crazy and all over the place, being a blue tome that’s good against horses and armored units while also combining the effects of three other really good weapons from the past. Her resistance to damage on account of that weapon is accentuated by her Distant Defense and Guard, yet she can also buff allies with Drive Attack and give them health through Sacrifice. In a way, she’s a really well-rounded unit, and I’m assuming her stats reflect the same thing.
Here’s a dagger unit that finally seems worth his weight (sorry Neko Sakura, your cute Halloween cat ears are still in my dreams, but not in a creepy way). Sothe appears to be any team’s best friend with a weapon that debuffs every enemy stat within a certain range while also buffing every stat for allies in a certain range. Plus, he also Spurs Attack and Speed during combat. However, without proper protection this kind of benefit appears temporary as his other skills suggest he’s quite the glass canon. An interesting unit indeed, and one that seems like he would mesh well with a blade tome user.
So in case it wasn’t obvious, Zelgius is the Black Knight without his helmet on — the Black Knight being a unit who was a prize some time ago in a Tempest Trial, except now he’s apparently stronger stat-wise from what I’ve been told. Also there’s apparently some controversy over the fact that his appearance in this form spoils Radiant Dawn plot points? But to be completely honest a lot of characters spoil plot points in their games so I’m not sure what the problem is. I don’t think I have a lot to say about this guy’s skills. He has the same weapon/special attack as his reskin, but now he gains attack when attacked, can warp around like crazy and converts opponent buffs into penalties. Definitely sounds like a strong guy… But I just can’t get over how much his face isn’t what I expected to see without the mask.
Despite the fact that he got the least amount of writing up above, I think Sothe is actually the character on this banner that I want the most.
Like I said before he looks like a match made in heaven for a blade tome user, and as a result would make a perfect balance on my infantry team alongside Nino and my other stat buffing unit Eirika.
Even though I want Sothe a lot (much to the teasing pleasure of my friend Jonathan who managed to summon the guy almost immediately), the other two wouldn’t be so bad either. Micaiah especially. I’d be very down to join the scarf squad with her.
Luckily, I managed to enter this banner with an abundance of orbs thanks to the recent Tempest Trials and my early summon of flying New Year Azura.
Yeah that’s right, 95. Well earned if I do say so myself, and there’s more waiting in the sidelines from a new Squad Assault and Chain Challenges.
After blowing through about 30 of those orbs, however… I more or less learned my lesson to be careful where I put my money.
Don’t get me wrong, five stars are never a bad thing necessarily… But as much as I love Clair from Echoes, she’s just not a fantastic unit in Heroes.
Especially compared to Cordelia, who’s served me loyally since the very beginning.
As I keep cautious with my orb horde, I think that makes it a good time to jump over to the story accompanying these three new heroes.
I kind of spoiled this earlier, but the Radiant Dawn banner opens itself up in a continuation of the Book II storyline.
Speaking of… Don’t get me started on how much I want to throw my phone at the irony of Gunnthrá suggesting we should meet after I got screwed out of summoning her to meet in person already.
Talk about a hell of a tease.
Anyway, her dream guidance is that the Order of Heroes should come to the ice kingdom to meet with her so everyone can combine forces to fight the evil fire king.
The story for this leg of Book II is fairly front loaded actually, as you immediately jump to the Order discussing their war plans in the face of a new powerful enemy. Namely, Anna mentions that the king of Askr is off leading some troops into battle.
The fiery King Surtr is also given more characterization suggesting that he’s nuts and bloodthirsty, a theme we will return to later.
When Fjorm hears that you met her sister in a dream, she pretty much immediately suggests you follow her direction and head to their homeland for backup.
Once that is established, the fighting begins.
The maps themselves for this story mission are decent, though it seems odd to me that they would go with Askrian terrain rather than copying maps from Radiant Dawn, considering this is that game’s unit’s time in the spotlight.
In hindsight that is a complaint I could have aired when the Children of Fate were new… But then again it does all make sense in light of the fact that Book II is less a series of connected miniature adventures than Book I in place of a more serialized story.
That said, there isn’t a lot of serialized story across the majority of the ice-covered maps, Chapter 3-1 through Chapter 3-4. The little bits of plot are pretty much just introductions for the Radiant Dawn characters you fight.
Don’t mind Oliver, by the way. He’s uhh… He’s a special looking, apparently meme-worthy guy who’s going to show up in a Grand Hero Battle soon.
Things start to develop when you arrive at the final map and come face-to-face with a new challenge.
The source of those flames are Laevatein, my favorite of the lot, showing what seems to suggest the beginning of a pattern where each of the fiery nation’s main units are going to headline each chapter from here on.
Her gimmick seems to be an almost robotic adherence to the rules set in place by her father and sister, which is an interesting touch I wasn’t quite expecting.
Once you beat her, she retreats and the Order decides to take a break from their journey to help restore the burned village. Though this move makes sense, it’s almost comically similar to them straight up saying “here’s the commercial break before our next episode.”
Yet… The story doesn’t end quite yet.
For some reason tired of their alliance, Veronica decides to leave having assisted the fire nation with her contracted units.
That doesn’t sit well with the king.
Yeah… Remember when I said this guy is a crazy, sadistic nut job?
Case an point: Crazy grin while imagining a little girl burning to death.
Honestly for as over-the-top as this comes across, I do admittedly appreciate the way they made a villain who’s undeniably awful for everyone to stand up again.
I’m just hoping Veronica switches sides and we get the chance to use her against this ultimate foe. That would be pretty awesome.
Boy howdy, this really was a hell of a marathon wasn’t it? I love it when there are a lot of things to cover, but it is a bit exhausting when everything takes this long.
I guess if nothing else I can appreciate it as a little something fun before I dive back into killing myself with work that I for some reason thought would be a good way to get back into the swing of things.
So, how about I take a break from talking your ear off and once more offer the chance for a larger discussion.
How do you feel about the updates that came with version 2.1.0?
Out of the Radiant Dawn heroes added, which is your favorite?
What do you think of the way Book II is developing? Personally, I happen to think the way they’ve gone with it is pretty intriguing.
Is the best part of this update the new game loading screen that I used as the featured image for this post?
Let me know your thoughts somewhere on the internet, and until next time… I’ll be resisting the urge not to make myself broke again.
I’ve been busy the last couple of days between training for the Daily Titan, working on three stories for our first issue of the semester, writing some stuff for Gladeo and plenty of other little time consuming things, so I didn’t have time to really write something extended on the Nintendo Direct Mini that premiered earlier.
After watching through it again, however, I decided I didn’t exactly have a lot to say about the games they talked about in the first place. As a result I figured I could just run though a couple of quick fire thoughts here before working on writing my Fire Emblem Heroes post for tomorrow. It shouldn’t take all that long ideally, and I am interested in putting some of my mind on paper.
The 14 minute direct came completely unbeknownst to me, but I’m glad my friends let me know to stumble upon it because there are a few things on the list of announcements that I’m really glad I found out about now.
Of course there were a few throwaway things for me throughout. Namely the Pokkén Tournament expansion, the Dragon Quest Builders demo, Ys VIII, SNK Heroines, Art of Fighting 2, Fe and Celeste. For one reason or another none of those games really spoke to me, so if you’re hoping I talk about them then you’re probably going to be a bit disappointed.
Beyond those there were quite a few things mentioned that I’m quite excited about. For example, I’m really looking forward to jumping back into Kirby with Kirby Star Allies.
The game seems to be combining the art style of Triple Deluxe (one of my favorites in the series) and an extended version of the ability combination from Kirby 64 and Squeak Squad. The thing that got me more excited about this title is the fact that it’s coming out on March 16.
I had no idea it was going to be that early, but I’m very excited knowing there’s at least one game to look forward to early on this year.
Seriously Kirby is one of my favorite Nintendo properties. Even if the games tend to be on the easier side, they’re never not fun. They’re always a blast to play and this one promises to be a blast to play on a system that has already given us the amazing next steps of Mario and the Legend of Zelda.
So yeah can we just skip ahead to March? Maybe?
Nintendo also promises a port of Hyrule Warriors definitive edition in the spring featuring a combined roster of all the main and DLC characters from both the Wii U and 3DS versions. It seems like this could be a good opportunity for me to go back and get that game since I missed out on it during its first run of popularity, which is an especially promising idea considering it’s going to be a more complete package.
Plus, I still haven’t gotten Fire Emblem Warriors either… So I really need to dip my toes in the Warriors series eventually.
Another Nintendo game making a return on the Switch is Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.
I don’t know that I’m as excited for this title coming back as I am for Hyrule Warriors, but if nothing else both of these games returning sets a promising precedent for something like… Say… Super Smash Brothers 4 to get a definitive version on the Switch.
One can dream.
Also, playing Mario Odyssey and spending an obsessive amount of time in New Donk City has rekindled some of my love for the big ape. Add in Funky Kong as a new playable character and I’m probably a little more open-minded for Tropical Freeze as a result.
Speaking of Mario Odyssey, it’s one of three games getting an update soon. The others are Pokkén Tournament, which I already said I don’t feel too strongly about since I really have no intent to own that game, and Mario + Rabbids which is another game I don’t own despite being more interested in it.
But hey, Donkey Kong is being added to that game. So… Tropical Freeze callback? Or something…
Anyway, in the Odyssey update Nintendo will be adding a new mode called Luigi’s Balloon World.
First of all, Luigi. Adding him into the game makes this already a win in my book.
Beyond Luigi just being amazing, the minigame the update adds does seem interesting in its own right. Essentially there are two aspects to it. The first had players able to choose to hide a balloon somewhere in the Kingdom they’re playing on. The second lets players choose to hunt down a balloon that has been hidden by another player.
The catch is that both modes must be completed in 30 seconds.
As the announcer talks about in the Direct, this encourages a speedrun-centric style of gameplay where the players who know the most about the map around them can create the best hiding places that might be hard for more casual players to reach. It’s a really interesting way to approach Odyssey that I never would have considered implementing, but one that also feels ingeniously perfect for an on-the-go console like the Switch thanks to the short time limits.
If I’m being completely honest, that little addition to an already great game frankly seems more interesting than the entirety of Mario Tennis Aces.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Mario Tennis games. Mario Power Tennis was one of my favorite GameCube games. From what I understand the most recent Wii U Mario Tennis game was somewhat disappointing, however. As a result of that and the strangely real-world tennis outfits characters are wearing (like Mario up above) I’m fairly skeptical.
Interested, but skeptical.
The last major theme of this Direct that caught my interest was the amount of games being ported to the Switch that seem like unusual candidates.
First is Payday 2, a game which feels like it has been around forever but has never necessarily caught my interest. Even so, it just seems strange to me that Nintendo would sanction a game about (somewhat) realistic gun play and bank heists being put on their system.
Though that brings me to the second game, Dark Souls.
Somehow the meme that was Dark Souls on the Nintendo Switch came true. From Software’s dark, demented and incredibly difficult action adventure is finally coming to a platform that I can play it on. To be honest, as much as I’m fairly intimidated by the game, I think it’s going to be worth trying it out if for no other reason than to appreciate the cult classic status.
If I actually get around to doing that, it should be quite the adventure.
Third on the list is The World Ends with You, arguably the game I’m the most interested in.
I have no prior experience with the Nintendo DS classic – unless you count the characters appearance in Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance that is. Yet, basically every person I know or follow online seems eager to put TWEWY way high up on their ‘best DS games of all time’ lists.
Just from what I’ve seen, I can imagine why. The game has a really cool anime-pixel art style and an interesting gameplay mechanic in its original form involving two characters fighting at once with players using the touch screen to control one and buttons to control the other.
That will presumably shift to being one joy con controlling each character on the Switch version, but I could be wrong on that. I don’t know what the control scheme is going to look like.
That’s just another part of what makes it so exciting for me.
Not only will it be a game with an interesting story and control scheme, it’s also going to be an extended edition with more content similar to Hyrule Warriors.
Though TWEWY has no official release date beyond coming this year, it’s honestly going to be at the top of my ‘to get’ list whenever it arrives.
Those are about my off-the-cuff thoughts on the Nintendo Direct Mini. So, I leave things at this (as usual). What did you think of the Direct? Which games are you looking forward to?
I’ve wanted to write something on this topic for some time now, and after I declared Duel Links my favorite game of 2017 I figure it’s as good a time as ever to do something with the game. As strange as it sounds when mentioning that I’ll be talking about a nostalgic anime-based card game simulator, Duel Links in particular has piqued my interest regarding the different versions of in-game economies utilized by microtransaction-based games.
I can actually pinpoint exactly when I decided I was interested in delving into this topic. It was on October 23, when I took this screenshot of exactly what inspired me:
For those of you who don’t play Duel Links and don’t understand exactly what this shows, I’ll elaborate on the subject in stages to give everyone a full understanding.
The main economy in Duel Links is based on gems. They are arguably the most valuable collectible in the game because you use them to purchase packs of cards from boxes.
As an easy example, a card pack that’s themed around Spellcasters might contain a number of monsters, spells or traps that support the Dark Magician archetype (made popular by the headlining character of the original anime series).
The mobile game Duel Links works in the same way, with Konami releasing boxes of cards at least once a month to try and catch up to the amount available in the real life trading card game. These boxes switch off on each release between a full box and a mini box. They are headlined by one monster that tends to have the most additional support in the pack. However, in full packs especially there are often a number of archetypes given support.
Servant of Kings was the seventh mini box in the game and one of 17 available as of December 31. It features Dark Magician of Chaos, which ties into the Dark Magician archetype I mentioned earlier, but beyond that frankly has a much more eclectic range of supportive cards than most mini boxes do.
With that general game context out of the way, now I can delve into the economy itself.
When buying card boxes, gems are your best friend.
How are gems utilized?
The two kinds of boxes in Duel Links are similar but ultimately different animals.
~ In a single main box, there are 600 cards available which are split into 200 packs that players can open. Of the four card rarities, things break down like this:
10 cards are “Ultra Rare” with one of each kind of UR card available
24 cards are “Super Rare” with two of each kind of SR card available
192 cards are “Rare” with six of each kind of R card available
374 cards are “Not Rare” with eight or nine of each kind of N card available
Regardless of rarity, there are 100 unique cards to get in the box.
~ In a single mini box, there are 240 cards available which are split into 80 packs that players can open. Of the four card rarities, things break down like this:
Two cards are “Ultra Rare” with one of each kind of UR card available
Eight cards are “Super Rare” with one of each kind of SR card available
70 cards are “Rare” with five of each kind of R card available
160 cards are “Not Rare” with 10 of each kind of N card available
Regardless of rarity, there are 40 unique cards to get in the box.
Each individual pack contains three cards and can be purchased for 50 gems. A single pack purchase is always available to players, but as more gems are collected a larger collective buying option becomes available.
By that, I don’t mean you get a discount for larger purchases. Purchasing discounts are exclusive to spending real money on cards.
Rather, you simply get to do larger pack opening sessions the more gems you have. When you have 100 gems you can open two packs at a time, when you have 150 gems you can open three packs at a time, and so on. There’s a cap at 10 packs, which costs 500 gems.
In one sense, it seems strange to cap things off there. Yet 10 packs is a perfect place to cap things off because it breaks down the boxes in a digestible way.
Under the way this system has been set up, 500 gems becomes a recognizable baseline that players (or at least that I) aim for before opening packs.
By waiting to get to 500 gems before buying, the 600 cards in a main box are distilled into 24 pack opening sessions and the 240 cards in a mini box are distilled into eight pack opening sessions. That kind of bite-sized dividing is very clever because it gives players a goal to work up to and makes an intimidatingly large task into an easier, far more enjoyable series of tasks.
After all, it’s much more of an accomplishable idea to collect 500 gems eight or 24 times than it is to collect 4,000 gems for a full mini box or 12,000 gems for a full main box. Add onto that the graphical interface involved with each pack opening and you get that small scale addicting purchase system mobile games like this are known for.
That said, I haven’t even mentioning the fact that every box, in theory, should be opened three times.
In Duel Links, the deck you can build based on the cards you collect are limited.
There’s a maximum of 30 cards usable per deck (with five extra deck cards for fusion monsters), and you can only have three of a given card in each deck – with the exception of a few cards that are on a limited list, of course.
When you start a duel, each player’s deck is shuffled and four cards are drawn. As a result, a deck should be built to offer the greatest odds of having cards that are needed to win in an opening hand.
As the game’s metagame had come to dictate, that means decks typically stick to the minimum 20 card requirement and have two-to-three copies of the important cards.
So, if you want those three copies of the ever-present Super Rare card Wall of Disruption in your deck, you need to reset the “Servants of Kings” mini box three times, since each box only has one copy. If that Super Rare is the last card you pull in all three of those boxes by sheer dumb luck, you’ll have to spend 12,000 gems in all.
Of course that also means it might not take every pack in the box to get all of the Super Rare and Ultra Rare cards, you could get them all right when you start opening packs for a given box.
That’s where I cycle back to what inspired me to do this post in the first place.
In this run at the “Servants of Kings” box, I wound up having to spend exactly 4,000 gems to clean out everything because one of the two Ultra Rare cards was the last one I needed. Instead of getting a veritable bargain of 3,950 gems, I got stuck with full price.
Something about that really got into my head, and I decided to analyze this economic system after getting stuck in that position. I find that overall Duel Links has a far more reasonable economy in place than most mobile games, despite the fact that this project’s inspiration began with my being screwed over.
How can you collect gems?
There are many ways to collect gems in Duel Links, and I would argue one of the best aspects of the game is the fact that there are certain means of collection that are limitless.
The chief means of collecting gems is leveling up.
Players advance through a series of stages in the game, with multiple missions offering challenges that impede advancement. These missions always include one that provides gems for completing every other challenge in a stage.
However, the biggest collection of gems come from leveling up Legendary Duelist characters.
There is currently a level 40 cap on these characters (which has the potential to increase). As they advance through these levels players gain access to multiple rewards, including new cards and skills to fit that character or related archetypes, multiple concurrent deck building options for the character and gems.
All together, each character can gross 2,290 gems by leveling up to 40. With the recent additions of Bonz and Arcana as playable Legendary Duelists, there are 25 characters available in Duel Links.
Thus, you can get a grand total of 57,250 gems by leveling up each character to the max. Plus a couple dozen extra gems from overall player missions that additionally reward leveling up these characters.
While this is the primary pool of gems available in Duel Links, at the end it amounts to the equivalent of completely buying out four mini boxes if a player wants three copies of the Super and Ultra Rare cards.
In hindsight, not necessarily the most lucrative deal in a game with eight mini boxes and nine main boxes, with more being released about once a month.
Luckily, more characters are released fairly regularly and there are plenty of other gem deposits available to cash in on.
One of the more valuable but less consistent sources of gems are special giveaways for holidays, in-game events, the release of a new box and compensation for mistakes Konami has made (such as the game going offline unexpectedly).
A cache of gems also becomes available every month when the Ranked Dueling arena resets.
As you play against other duelists around the world, you can get gems through ranking up and as rewards for reaching a certain amount of wins in a season. In fact, once you get the final displayed reward at 120 victories, every couple dozen victories will also give you 30 gems at a pop.
Similarly, a number of gems become available as periodic score-based rewards during things like Duel-A-Thons, Duelist Chronicles or limited time character unlocking events.
Character Unlock Events
Duelist Chronicles Card lottery rewards
Beyond that, there are three “daily” small sources of gems to make use of.
I use daily in quotes because technically only one of these sources is a truly daily activity. That activity is watching a random duel recording from a match between two other players.
The other sources are technically daily but with some technicalities.
In the Duel School, players can take on a duel with a borrowed deck once a day that offers a random reward. On occasion, that reward is three gems:
Not a lot, but it’s something.
As an added note, the Duel School also opens a few missions allowing players to practice new strategies available when a new purchasable card box opens.
The third “daily” source of gems is tapping environmental features on each screen of the overworld.
The fountain next to the Legendary Duelist gate
The lanterns in front of the PvP Arena
The hologram card on top of the Shop
The trash can in front of the Card Studio
As an added note, the pictures I’ve displayed are from the Yu-Gi-Oh! GX world. The objects I mentioned are exactly the same in the original Yu-Gi-Oh! world.
These four can be activated at least once a day to get between one and five gems each, with the objects refreshing multiple times a day. That means if someone is lucky they can get 20 gems in a shot throughout the day.
Fair warning, however, more often than not each object only gives one gem at a time.
What really makes the system of gem collection in Duel Links special, however, is the fact that farming Legendary Duelists at the Gate offers an infinite source of potential gems.
When you spend a certain amount of keys collected by dueling Standard Duelists, you can battle one of the Legendary Duelist characters from the first two anime series. Duking it out with these higher level Duelists has a random chance of providing players with boxes of five, 10 or 15 gems a pop in their eight potential assessment rewards.
The chance of getting gems is increased when considering the fact that bonus gems are rewarded in place of a skill that had already been unlocked.
Even if this kind of gem earning is considerably more tedious than something like leveling up a character for large stipends, as I mentioned before one can battle Legendary Duelists as often as they want so long as they have the keys to spare.
Trust me, after a fair amount of time has been invested in the game, keys are no longer a concern.
If a player desires, they can grind up gems infinitely between taking on Legendary Duelists and Ranked Duels. When that idea meshes with the finite amount of collectibles available in Duel Links at one time, the true genius of the system shines through.
While nobody will likely ever collect every box-purchasable card through grinding alone because of how long it would take, it’s entirely possible to do so. The goal is achievable because you’re guaranteed to get everything in a given box eventually.
It’s way different than the system in other free-to-play mobile titles where random number generation applies to what you get at one time during a purchase, but the amount of options that random generation chooses between stays in a large pool each time.
￼Currently, this kind of system where I can consistently set goals and earn my way up to them in bits at a time is my absolute favorite form of microtransaction-based gaming because when I do feel frustrated seeing this:
I’ll always know that I’m guaranteed to get that Man-Eater Bug in my next purchase no matter what. Then, once I have all three of them in my collection, I never have to look at that particular box ever again.
In my head, that’s a real, tangible sense of accomplishment.
Plus, let’s not forget that even if you don’t want to spend any gems, you can get tons of cards through Legendary Duelists, leveling up characters and through special events. These cards can either stand on their own or support card archetypes in certain boxes, so a player can pick and choose what boxes they want to buy from to build the decks they want.
I don’t throw the term around that often, but it’s a fairly genius way to handle things in my opinion.
Even if Konami releases card boxes a bit too frequently to make total purchase completion an achievable goal in a set timeframe without potentially spending some money anyway.
As one final note for any players curious about jumping into Duel Links: Do not ever look at the incessant phishing offers in the global chats.
Those are always scams. End of story.
Based on this (I believe fairly comprehensive) guide I’ve put together on the economy of Duel Links, what do you think of the system they’ve put together?
In your opinion, are there other games that do the microtransaction push more fairly for players?
This kind of analysis is a longer project that I’m interested in delving into for other games as well, so if you enjoyed the post or have suggestions for how to make it better, please feel free to let me know!