Month: April 2018

April 30, 2018 Article Published

So fair warning, this story feels like it’s probably the most self-serving thing I’ve ever written and I don’t have too much to say about it.

As I’m sure anyone who follows my exploits on this blog knows, I spent a good amount of time this weekend at awards banquets (the Comm Awards and SPJ for those who missed out). That time I spent was actually just the tip of the iceberg as far as what the Daily Titan has seen this year in terms of awards, however.

Despite the fact that I would argue the whole exercise of having someone write an article about awards who has been involved in said awards seems a bit conflict-of-interest laden, we were inspired by papers like the New York Times who always point out stories they’ve won awards for and decided to do it ourselves.

Naturally I was thrown the piece on deadline since I was the news assistant on shift.

Overall it wasn’t a difficult story to write. The really difficult part was compiling the list of every award we’ve won over the last year or so. Forty is the magic number, for anyone curious.

Yours truly is involved in a number of them.

However the stand-out award was easily the Hearst that our former Sports Editor Bryant Freese won for the story on a former women’s basketball coach that he essentially got fired for being bad. While you’re over on my article please check that out, it’s definitely worth the read.

I say that genuinely too. It’s probably one of the three sports stories I’ve read in the last… Seven years of doing journalism.

Anyway though, that’s enough plugging someone else. I’m here to plug me.

If you want to see me fellate our newspaper and talk about things I’ve won and things my colleagues have won, you can check it out here. It’s actually pretty worth it to see the list of everything, which my editor Amy and I used as an opportunity to link out to all of the stories involved.

You can also see my full archive of work for the Daily Titan over on the right!

Awards Weekend part two

Awards Weekend part two

I’m not looking to necessarily toot my own horn or anything, but my resume did get a good bit beefier these last couple of days.

Today was the 2018 Society of Professional Journalists’ Region 11 Conference. Technically it started yesterday but that was pretty much just for regional directors, so I’m considering this the starting point.

Members of the Daily Titan staff were nominated for a number of awards by our advisor, and those of us who were finalists (alongside general members of SPJ) got to come up to sunny Universal City and spend the afternoon at the Hilton near Universal Studios.

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It really does feel like I was just up here… But that’s beside the point.

Personally, I was nominated in the Breaking News category alongside Amy, Brandon and Breanna for our Halloween coverage of Milo Yiannopoulos’ visit to CSUF.

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Not pictured above: Brandon. He somehow managed to miss our group picture at the Comm Awards too.

Even though we didn’t win, just being finalists in this kind of competition is a great honor given that we made it far enough to get to the luncheon (which, sorry CSUF, was much tastier than the Comm Awards. Though points off for lack of Del Taco).

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The keynote speaker at the luncheon was Stephen Galloway, the executive featured editor at The Hollywood Reporter who frankly did inspire me a bit to go finally finish this profile I’ve been sitting on for a long time.

However, what he didn’t help with was meal etiquette:

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Seriously I wasn’t expecting this thing to be quite as fancy as it turned out to be and many of us were lost trying to figure out which silverware to use when.

My formal training has failed me in that regard, apparently.

But hey, who needs a formal training in old time-y meal etiquette when you can get jelly beans?

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That’s right, we got jelly beans in a cool silver tin that I promise I haven’t been sponsored by.

I just really dig it, okay?

Anyway though, if you feel at all bad for us not winning in our category, there’s no need to fret for two reasons.

For one… Well, nobody from the Titan won in our categories. Just being nominated was cool yes, but in the face of defeat at least we could all be losers together.

Secondly, there was a bit of a skewed power dynamic to the whole event. Just about every award went to USC, UCLA or the Walter Cronkite school.

They’re pretty much the heavy hitters you would expect to win everything, so the fact that we got nominated as much as we did next to them is a great achievement in its own right.

However, even beyond that, the truly nice thing about this event wasn’t the awards, naturally. It was getting to spend time with friends at a fancy event.

Especially considering many of the people who came are graduating in the next few weeks, that made this an especially bittersweet time.

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Here I am with Kaleb, one of the coolest dudes in the room and my best wingman.
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The best selfie with me, former Editor in Chief Zack (his badge said so) and my old news editing partner Megan.

Not pictured above: Pretty much everyone else that was there in the big group shot.

I really do work with the best team in the world, and I’m not sure how we’re going to carry on with so many heavy losses next semester.

Okay I mean I do know how we’re going to carry on. Because that’s just how life works.

But you all understand my sentiment.

Though now, with this quick life update out-of-the-way, I’m off to go work on some end-of-semester stories and projects I still have to get done.

Luckily I’ve got a nice venue to do it in today.


Oh and P.S. – For those of you wondering about the featured image, it’s a picture of the ceiling in the ballroom where the awards luncheon was. I thought it was artsy and cool so… Yeah.

Makin’ that cash money

Makin’ that cash money

[Now last night because I wrote this rather slowly] I was honored to be invited to the Cal State Fullerton Communications Department Awards, where I received the $1,000 Jay Berman Daily Titan Scholarship.

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Yeah, that really just about sums it all up. Fastest blog post I’ve ever written.

Good night everybody.

Okay fine, I can’t just leave it at that. But I am pretty tired so I’ll aim to keep it concise.

I took my Mom to Fullerton this afternoon for my 4:00 p.m. class because she was my +1 at the 6:00 p.m. awards.

That’s probably a good place to start, even though I don’t have too much to say about it since I wound up having to go down into the basement of College Park and couldn’t hang out with her.

After getting my full ensemble on in the parking lot, we took arguably the best photo of myself I think I’ve ever seen. It’s the featured image here, but here’s the full shot too:

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Looking good, me. Looking good.

The awards took place in the Titan Student Union Pavilions (just across from the Mammoth fossil in the lobby, which we also got a photo with).

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Slightly blurry while blown up, but it’s still nice.

The three-hour event actually ran well on schedule all things considered, so it felt like the smoothest awards ceremony I’ve ever been to. The first hour or so was dinner as the large banquet hall filled in.

I’m no Instagram food blogger so I didn’t actually get a photo of the dinner spread. It was nicely catered, though. Chicken, mashed potatoes, bread, salad and three kinds of cake. Nothing too unusual and not necessarily stellar, but it was passable.

The cake was real good though, I’ll give it that much.

All three of the center tables right up by the stage were reserved for Daily Titan staff and guests, so we had a pretty nice view all night and were able to all gather together as the well-dressed clique we were.

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See? Aren’t we all perdy? Us journalists clean up nice apparently.

As far as the actual awards themselves go, I don’t have too much to say. Obviously I’m not here to summarize two hours worth of accolades that mostly went to people I don’t know.

In terms of the people I do know, I have to give some love to our current Editor in Chief Kyle for grabbing a bunch of recognition for his leadership, our current Managing Editor Sarah for her super high graduating GPA, News Editors Amy and Brandon, Web Editor/Clickbait God Harrison, Advertising Director Niko, my ex-News Editing partner/veteran Megan and, of course, our ex-EIC Zack for being my Berman Award buddy.

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Hoo boy, that’s a lot of people… Hopefully I didn’t forget anybody from the group up above.

Ah, wait I did forget somebody. Arguably the most important person in relation to our experiences on the Daily Titan:

That’s right, our advisor Bonnie got the love she absolutely deserved tonight. If there’s anyone I could think of that deserves a Distinguished Faculty Member award, it’s undoubtedly her.

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Don’t we look cute together?

I know I keep bringing up how everyone looks. What can I say, I think we all looked great in our cocktail attire tonight.

The other stand-out thing from tonight tied back to our Emcee, Henry DiCarlo. He’s an anchor for KTLA 5 and a Daily Titan alum who essentially wound up being a glorified raffle machine for the ceremony, handing out prizes a number of times throughout the event to break up all the awards.

It’s going to sound ridiculous without having been there, but he helped Del Taco become a meme.

That’s right, Del Taco. The fast food Mexican joint.

Del Taco was one of the sponsors of the night (with Chief Marketing Officer Barry Westrum in the room) and happened to provide a lot of gift cards to be given away. When the first one was announced, however, Niko made such a huge outcry of excitement that DiCarlo picked up on it and ran with the moment.

From there, every single raffle prize had an aside related to Del Taco in some way or another, and it resonated quite well with the audience.

Extra shout out to Mia for really being that perfect hype man.

Now that, I believe, is all she wrote. Like I started off this post saying, I was honored to get invited to the ceremony, and I’m hopefully looking forward to coming back next year as well!

However, until then I can still look forward to the Society of Professional Journalists award ceremony on Saturday where I am also slated to win something.

Busy weekend.

‘Gushing about things I’ll never receive,’ a Fire Emblem Heroes memoir

‘Gushing about things I’ll never receive,’ a Fire Emblem Heroes memoir

Alternative title: The Wings of Fate are cruel.

Hello everyone, welcome back to another episode of “Fire Emblem Heroes updated and I feel obligated to stay up into the ridiculous hours of the morning to have a timely post about it for some reason.” This is your host, Jason Rochlin.

In today’s special episode of that thing I just wrote out, you’re going to observe the ramblings of a madman, driven to insanity by his own gluttonous desire and lack of self-control in the face of an entity that, pardon my french, does not give a fuck.

All observers of this program should be 18 years old or older, or at least mature enough to understand the truly empty sadness of a somewhat successful college-age boy who thinks and talks far too much about a collection of lines one person drew that is perceived by everyone’s abstract brain as representing a twenty-something year-old redhead in a mobile app game for iOS and Android devices.

Viewer discretion is advised. Not really. But you’ve been warned.


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Fire Emblem Fates is a game that hasn’t gotten any love in Heroes since the Children of Fates banner some time ago that brought in a number of characters. Included in that list of characters was Soleil, one of my favorite units from those titles.

At the time I spent all my orbs to get her, only for her to eventually become a four star unit that I now have 5 copies of.

How shall these new units I’m excited for screw me over, I wonder?

  • KanaDragon Princess
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    • Kana wins the award for the cutest artwork in this update hands down. However, skill-wise she’s… Okay. I already have two powerful green dragons in the forms of Myrrh and Grima so perhaps I’m somewhat disillusioned, but having another green dragon with a breath that calculates damage using the lower defensive stat without actually having a built-in way to hit from a distance is disappointing. It’s hard to argue with Draconic Aura and Fierce Stance however, so luckily her cute butt is on my radar this time around. Just don’t call the police on me for saying it like that.
  • ShigureUplifting Artist
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    • Okay… So… Shigure is here for his second time since the Performing Arts banner. He’s a lot more underwhelming this go around, sporting a weapon that powers up his special attack to ensure he restores a little more health… But beyond that doesn’t have too much going for him in my opinion. Perhaps if Mitama comes out soon and I can ship them together he’ll have a bit more utility, but until then he’s far outclassed by the other flying unit in this banner.
  • HinokaBlue Sky Warrior
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    • Okay, hold up.

I need a little more free space to discuss this one because I’ve quite literally been mulling over this Hinoka alt since she was announced Sunday night.

Who… Who exactly over at Intelligent Systems allowed this?

Let me break it down. Hinoka is a flying unit based on the Kinshi Knight model from Fire Emblem Fates. Already a good start because the Kinshi Knights were one of my favorite things about that set of games.

She’s a bow-wielding flying unit (which is unique up until now if I’m not mistaken) with a bow that actually, literally has four effects.

  1. Effective against flying units, as all bows are.
  2. Effective against armored units, which is unprecedented for bows and quite welcomed in the world of Black Knights and Hectors.
  3. Grants +3 Speed, which I’m assuming is on top of an already solid speed stat.
  4. Drive Attack. Just… Straight up built-in Drive Attack skill on a bow with three other skills already built-in.

Like how is that legal in the state of California?

Hinoka also comes out of the box with four other main slot skills attached. On top of having all of that utility in her special 14 might bow: She also has Luna as a special attack that reduces defense or resistance by 50 percent when triggered, Attack/Speed Bond to grant her +5 in both stats when next to an ally, as well as both Flier Formation and Flier Guidance to allow her to jump next to units two spaces away or vice versa.

Those last two skills basically guarantee she’ll have the bonded boost and will likely activate her Drive Attack bow for allies.

There’s so much synergy in this one unit that I just cannot understand how we’ve allowed this to happen. If she has fantastic base stats as well, Hinoka is going to be an absolute monster.

Oh and let’s not forget… She’s Hinoka. And the Hoshido sisters are leagues better than the Nohrian sisters.

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Here she is being the best auntie on the planet for proof.

Don’t @ me, Internet.

Okay but with all this gushing over Hinoka, I suppose I should also lay out my issues with her inclusion here.

For one, I would be remiss not to talk about my problem with Hinoka appearing as a “brand new” unit in a main story banner like I did when cavalier Eirika was introduced a while back. That slot could have very easily gone to someone else from Fates.

Reina seems to be a name that’s going around a lot as a Kinshi Knight, for example. Or maybe one of the other Hoshido children like Midori.

On top of that, my flier emblem team is already pretty stacked so I’m really not sure who to replace.

But those are small complaints all things being equal. I’ll still be spending all of my 140-ish orbs on this banner if I have to.

Just watch me get destroyed.

What’s that? I already did get destroyed?

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Oh. I see.

Well I suppose it’s time to store up orbs again so I can keep bashing my head against this brick wall. Thank god the Tempest Trials are still going so I can squeeze some more orbs out of those.

Also side note, I’m glad to see Nanna got demoted to four-star status so quickly after her token banner considering she’s the only one of those heroes I got.

But I digress. I’m sure you’re all tired of me complaining and want to get into the story. So let’s do that.


I will say, just to start off this portion of the episode, that I appreciate how frequently Intelligent Systems has been moving the main story forward. I’m a sucker for a developing story, after all.

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Thematically I think the developers killed it when putting together this portion of the story for a number of reasons. For one, the ice castle aesthetic is pretty great on its own. On top of that, it looks like the kind of environment I would expect to see coming out of the Fire Emblem Fates world, so everything feels copacetic.

But on top of both of those things, let’s also not forget that the music coming out of Fates is just mm-mmm good. Seriously I’ve had the map’s main theme stuck in my head since the banner trailer was first released.

Now if only I could remember the name of the track…

I’ll think about it. In the meantime, let’s talk about story.

We start this leg of the race suddenly much further ahead than we left off before. Essentially, we’ve completely skipped over any and all exposition between Gunnthrá’s death in the Thracia missions and the arrival at this castle for the Rite of Frost.

But wait, we aren’t getting out of this without a cinematic cutaway to a Kevin Smith-style conversation between characters who could otherwise be doing super action-y stuff based on what they’re saying.

Surtr continues to be as brutal as ever, which for some reason still surprises me. Also fire ritual foreshadowing that I bet won’t become relevant for the next twenty chapters or so.

HEY WAIT A SECOND, THERE’S A PERFECT DISTRACTION RIGHT HERE!

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XANDER IS STILL HERE GUYS!

Yeah I know that’s like a small detail, but I seriously always forget that Xander is for some reason still the top general in Veronica’s army. It’s such an obscure fact, but the more it becomes relevant the more I’m starting to think maybe Veronica is Xander’s perfect match instead of Hinoka.

… Except there’s probably some pedophilic implications in that statement all things being equal.

Also I just reminded myself that Hinoka is a thing in this banner and she’s alluding my wanton desire, so I’m just going to move on.

Battles happen as usual until the Order of Heroes makes it to the part of the castle where they can begin the ritual.

Figures we can’t go a single Fire Emblem game without a legendary dragon getting involved.

So you fight all of the Fates enemies (including the awfully handsome Kaze, because I mean…)

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(Damn dude.)

There really isn’t much of a challenge to it, so soon enough Fjorm is able to begin pre-preparation of rites.

All seems to have gone well. Until…

You know what this calls for?

Feh Plot Meme

Yeah that’s right, welcome back Feh plot thickening meme. How I’ve missed you.

What’s that? Should I actually say something about the moment? Well… Fjorm is probably going to die. Join her sister in the afterlife or whatever. Unless of course this is all just a ploy to make her sick at the last-minute so we need a Deus Ex Machina to save the day and defeat Surtr once and for all.

I guess only time will tell.

Speaking of Surtr, as he so eloquently established by threatening to break someone’s legs, the next step of the journey for our rag-tag bunch of orb-hording freaks is the fire kingdom itself so they can take on the hulking brute.

Will the Order succeed in taking on Surtr? Will hilarious or emotional hijinks ensue? Who will be the units that preside over the final fight with the King of Fire?

Find out on the next episode of-

Oh wait, there’s more. What is this a Marvel movie post-credit scene?

Gasp! Time for a Feh meme x2 combo.

Feh Plot Meme

Okay so real talk, as much as I appreciate the double-cross twist of the big bad guys actually just wanting to use the little bad guy as a sacrifice for bad things, I do think this development was a bit rushed.

When I made the cut-away joke about Xander suddenly appearing again, I really was serious when I meant there was an interesting amount of foreshadowing happening. But no, that foreshadowing was just alluding to a portion of the story coming up at the end of the same mission.

Hopefully there’s a little more filler between this point and fighting the final battle, because otherwise rushed may unfortunately be the only way to describe the ending to this really cool long-term plot experiment.


Alright, with all that said, we’ve once again reached the end of another exhaustive night (morning?) of writing about dumb mobile game shenanigans.

How do you feel about the new heroes that have been brought into the game? Or, more specifically, how much do you agree with me about Hinoka being broken as hell?

Let me know in the comments down be-

THAT’S IT, THAT’S THE SONG THAT PLAYS UNDER THESE NEW MAPS!

Shout out to my boy Jonathan for helping me find the tune, because I was honestly going to go crazy if I couldn’t remember the name sometime soon to listen to it on repeat for the next couple of weeks.

Hope you all enjoy the kick-ass track. Because I’m going to sleep now so I can take on another day of visiting the tailor and going to work.

The circle of life.

April 23, 2018 Article Published

Apologies in advance if I happen to sound as tired and scatterbrained in this post as I feel in real life. Or in tomorrow’s post for that matter, which I’m probably going to start working on after I finish writing this.

Spoiler alert: It’s Fire Emblem again. Intelligent Systems is on a roll right now.

But that’s obviously a story for another day. Today there are Daily Titan things to discuss.

There’s a little bit of back story behind the article I have out in print right now, but frankly it’s a little too in-the-weeds to get deeply into so I’ll try to make it quick.

There was some confusion last Thursday where people had assumed I would be going to an Academic Senate meeting when in reality I was going to a hematologist appointment that morning and was unaware the Senate was believed to be on my shoulders.

Insert obligatory Star Wars prequel meme here.

As a result of that confusion, I decided to make sure our page didn’t fall apart on the first day of Comm Week by gathering this piece together post-meeting.



Editor’s Note:

Comm Week, for those of you who are uninitiated, is the one week a year that the College of Communications at Cal State Fullerton invites a heaping helping of guest speakers to come talk about why the field of study is awesome as a way to encourage people to join in and appreciate it.

Basically lots of people with connections come to campus and it would be embarrassing if we had lousy papers to show to them.



While the minutes for each Academic Senate meeting aren’t put out until at least two weeks after a given meeting (as they’re approved at the following meeting), we did have access to the agenda ahead of time.

Based on a cursory look through that agenda, I reached out to the Academic Senate chair and the chairs of the University Writing Proficiency and General Education Committees as those were the groups that appeared to be the most involved in this meeting. Considering it was a Saturday when I began my hunt, I wasn’t expecting much response, so I also planned out a possible crime log-based story as back-up.

Luckily I didn’t need that back-up (as I later found out the University Police Captain Scot Willey was AFK all weekend) because the Writing Proficiency chair got in touch with me.

As chance would have it, she also happened to be the person who led a big presentation on general education requirements following adjustments to Chancellor Timothy P. White’s Executive Order 1100. That, naturally, wound up being the focus of my piece.

So if you’re interested in learning a little bit more about the CSUF Academic Senate’s General Education Task Force, their 34-page preliminary report on the effects of the executive order and all sorts of other background research I’m sure you’re all just DYING to hear about…

Check out my story here. Frankly I’m proud of how this one turned out considering the circumstances surrounding it. Plus I was able to do a cool thing by attaching the full report to the article online as we had somewhat advanced access to it.

You can also see my full archive of work for the Daily Titan over on the right!

If all works out, I might just have more to share later this week as Comm 471 attempts to roll out some big stories for Comm Week.


P.S. For those curious, the hematologist was good and we extended my between check-up visits window to six months rather than three like we were on. Can’t complain about that.

 

Jason’s Fire Emblem Heroes mid-April new events analysis

Jason’s Fire Emblem Heroes mid-April new events analysis

Could I throw any more pomp and circumstance into a single blog post title for something that probably doesn’t deserve it?

Welcome to my double new events analysis! I’ve been a bit distracted by the end of the semester so I didn’t have the chance to talk about the Grand Conquests event while it was happening over the last week or so. However, with a new version of the Tempest Trials here today, I figured I could lump them together and get my compulsive fill out-of-the-way in one fell swoop.

That said I’m going to start with the “brand new” Tempest Trials+, that way anyone interested in just the newest news can move on with their life soon after that if they desire.


Tempest Trials+

Now some of you may be wondering why I put “brand new” in quotes when referring to this new event in the paragraph just above this.

Well… To put it bluntly…

There’s really nothing that’s especially “new” about these updated Tempest Trials. There are certainly some quality improvements to the overall formula that I like, but I’m not sure it’s new enough to warrant very deep examination.

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Thracia 776 continues its current run of popularity in Heroes by taking our latest Tempest Trials slot. But what exactly is different about this updated formula compared to previous entries?

To put it simply, there are three big changes: The time frame of the event has shrunk, the reward tiers have changed and bonus allies have become more useful overall.

 

Honestly these two screenshots pretty much sum up everything rather succinctly, but I’ll spell it out a little just in case there are some people reading this who are new around here and haven’t seen a Tempest Trials post since I stopped writing them

  • Rather than lasting a full two weeks, the Tempest Trials+ sets only last 10 days.
  • Whereas main Tempest Trials installments had rewards up to 100,000 points, the Tempest Trials+ only have rewards up to 50,000 points like mini Trials.
  • Instead of there being two tiers of bonus allies, one offering an extra 40 percent to the player’s score at the end of a round and one only offering 20 percent, now all eight of the bonus allies offer 40 percent.

I personally have mixed feelings about these changes.

More bonus allies being useful is a great thing for everyone, as it can be hard to pull the brand new units that originally served as the 40 percent vanguard, but now older units and the Tempest reward unit are applicable.

However, making the time frame of the event shorter and shrinking the rewards to gain is potentially detrimental. The way I personally approach Tempest Trials is grinding them out idly with auto play during my drives to-and-from Cal State Fullerton. That system has allowed me to easily work out 100,000 points within two weeks and thus I’ve been able to enjoy the rewards they offer.

I understand that not everybody can commit to working out that much time the same way I do, but I think the loss of extra rewards is a bummer. Though the fact that the higher level runs only cost 15 stamina now is pretty great.

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Hopefully shorter Trials means more frequent Trials to make up for the exchange of rewards. That’s all I’m going to say on the matter.

With that said, I mentioned up above that I haven’t posted a Tempest Trials blog post in some time. The reason for that change was because Trials showed up relatively frequently without any serious changes between each. Granted, there was “development” in the overall story of Masked Lucina going around helping everyone, but not enough development to warrant talking about it.

For the most part everything boiled down to “show up at a new place, ask the new characters for help, go through trials and win.” Rinse and repeat.

Unfortunately, the Thracia 776 Trials here are no different. But because I happen to be talking about it, I figured why not go over the small stuff I always used to dive into. Just like old times

In terms of plot… Well, this is about it.

 

 

Game-referential exposition building up Reinhardt as the big bad this time around.

I won’t say I’m complaining as I haven’t personally played Thracia 776, so the little history lesson does what it needs to by setting up the conflict between Leif and Reinhardt.

Plus it offers Lucina the opportunity to be a history geek, which is my absolute favorite headcanon for her.

But there isn’t much to say beyond that.

That extends to the end-game battle against Reinhardt as well. While Leif sets up the fact that their ultimate battle in the original title took place on the river that has been recreated, I don’t have any sort of connection with it beyond that.

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It’s a nice map though. I’ll give the developers that much, they always do a great job recreating iconic scenes on these small-scale builds.

Now rewards are a somewhat more interesting discussion for me this time around. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve taken the time to invest into all of my five-star units. After all, one can only rely on the slowly power creep susceptible horse emblem gods for so long.

I’ve had a ton of the powerful units just sitting in storage for some time now, so I made it my mission to give them inherited skills and sacred seals that way I can throw my weight around more with blessings and rival domain maps.

As a result, sacred seals have become way more important for me. That coincides perfectly with a Tempest Trials that offers really great seals!

Tempest Trials+: Thunder’s Fist Sacred Seals

  1. Seal Speed — Inflicts a speed debuff on foes after battling with them
    1. For a unit that wants to strike twice in a turn, lowering the opponent’s speed is fairly invaluable. Seal skills build up a good chunk of stat debuffs, so this should be useful.
  2. Fortress Defense — Grants up to +5 defense in exchange for -3 attack
    1. I didn’t enjoy the fortress skills too much until I began experimenting with units and found out how great a huge defensive buff can be on a unit with already sky-high attack. Thanks to Brave Lucina and Innes for teaching me such a valuable lesson.
  3. Drive Attack — All allies within two spaces of the unit receive up to +3 attack during combat
    1. Drive skills are another thing I’ve discovered the great power of during my time experimenting. Many of my dancing units now feature two versions of drive where they can to ensure a unit that’s nearby has an extra boost after being brought back to attention for another move. Looking forward to getting this one especially.

Luckily I’m excited for these seals, because I’m not super invigorated when I think about the unit that was added as a Trial reward:

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Based on conversations I’ve read in-game, it seems like Finn fits the archetype of ‘early game broken great knight’ that Fire Emblem games are famous for. However, just on quick research he seems much more interesting as a character who bridges the 15 year time gap between the beginning and end campaigns of Geneaology of the Holy War.

Also he’s Nanna’s father. Which I wouldn’t have expected in a million years.

Despite having an interesting character back story, I’m not sure I’m that excited for another lance-wielding cavalier as a reward. God knows Clive just disappeared into the aether after the Tempest Trials he came out in.

With that, however, everything I have to say about Tempest Trials+ is said and done. I’m not sure I would consider it too much of a plus just yet, but I suppose we’ll see if it becomes a better deal in the long run.


Grand Conquests

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Obviously I missed the boat on talking about this new game mode. I mentioned it when the event was teased back during the last major game update, but then life got busy.

Fun fact, I actually took most of the pictures you’ll be seeing on this post when I was at Universal Studios with my family last week. I meant to write this closer to then… But what can I say.

But enough excuses, what exactly are Grand Conquests?

Well to put it simply, “Three armies vie for territory.” It’s hard to dumb it down more than that.

I’m not one to dumb things down however, so what are Grand Conquests in-depth?

If you’ve ever played the strategy board game Risk or the Galactic Conquest mode of Star Wars Battlefront II (the original, not the well hated new version) then you already have a head start on understanding Grand Conquests.

When the event was first kicking off, players were able to register for entry into the game two or three days in advance. Everyone who registered got randomly put into one of three teams controlled by each of the main members of the Order of Heroes: Alfonse, Sharena and Anna.

Each army was initially allocated 10 of the 30 plots of land on the map. The first ‘game’ had 22 rounds as you can see above, and though I don’t believe I paid much attention to how much time each round lasted, once it ended the amount of land an army controlled shifted.

That shifting was based on the amount of points and control a team put into each area, as you can see on the chart in the above right-hand photo. Once the first ‘game’ ended, two more followed that lasted just as long, and much like the Voting Gauntlet there were additional rewards players could earn in each cycle.

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I think the change that came between each game was my least favorite part of the event. Players did not always stick with the same team during the transition. For example, I played for team Alfonse during the first two games only to suddenly find myself on team Anna for game three.

While I understand that idea probably came out of necessity to ensure there was balance in the player base — can’t have one team dominate every single game after all — I feel the idea took something away from the connection we could have had to the teams.

It would have been much more fun if I got to choose the team I wanted to be on at the beginning and fought for their honor, like with Voting Gauntlets.

But I digress.

How was the actual gameplay that came with this new game mode?

Once players selected a region they wanted to march on (limited to areas in their army’s control or those just on the outskirts for invasions), they were given the opportunity to select a difficulty level and allocate up to eight stamina spears.

The difficulty level is fairly self-explanatory, but the stamina spears were a new take on a classic mechanic. In the Arena, players are given three chances to battle a day (via “dueling swords”) unless they use extra resources to restore those battle chances.

The stamina spears worked similarly to dueling swords in that you needed at least one to battle in Grand Conquests. However, the spears slowly regenerated throughout the day like regular battling stamina. On top of that, there was an extra risk/reward aspect in that extra spears could be allocated for each battle to boost the amount of points you earned.

Every battle in the Grand Conquests were rival domain-scale fights. Very large maps with 20-unit platoons on each side that duke it out to earn points by killing off opponents and stealing camps/forts.

While I enjoy the style of gameplay that comes with this, I do wish there was more of a direct player versus player interaction.

One day we’ll reach a place where opponents won’t just be computer-controlled versions of player-built teams. One day…

After the battle ended, points were calculated in a similar way to how rival domains do it:

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Your score served two purposes. First and foremost, that area on the map had a higher chance of coming into your team’s control if you and other players all poured their resources into it and dominated the space.

More spaces, of course, led to more benefits after each game.

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However, score also accumulated in a player’s Grand Conquest Tier.

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There were 20 tiers in all. The higher tier the player, the more bonuses they offered to an area in terms of keeping it under that team’s control. Rising in tier also offered a number of rewards: Namely some orbs and full restores for stamina spears.

Sweet, sweet orbs man. They really are like crack.

And that in a not-so-small nutshell is the Grand Conquests mode. As another rotating event in the same vein as Voting Gauntlets and Tempest Trials, I quite like it overall!

Granted, there are issues in the execution like I mentioned (not choosing the army I wanted to support really does bug me), but overall this was an interesting twist on mechanics we’ve seen in play for some time now.

I’ll look forward to seeing Grand Conquests return sometime soon. Who knows, if enough is different next time around, I might just have to do a small series with these things like I did for Tempest Trials.


Hoo boy, amazing how I always wind up talking so god damn much so early into the morning. I swear I never intend these things to get long but they always do.

If you managed to make it this far, let’s try our hands at some fruitless audience interaction again.

What do you think about the new adjustments to the Tempest Trials formula? Do you think it’s going to be a healthy way to improve the game?

How about the Grand Conquests, do you enjoy those as a brand new way to play? What would you do to improve them going forward?

Let me know in the comments below!

Entertainment Beat Report – April 19, 2018

Entertainment Beat Report – April 19, 2018

Quippy opening time?

Nah, who needs one of those. We’ve got video games, baby! So how about we just jump right in, that way I’m not keeping everyone busy for the next three years.


‘Monster Hunter: World’ updates with a brand new monster to hunt

If the angry pickle that is the Deviljho wasn’t enough to keep Monster Hunter players satisfied, Capcom has them covered.

As of today, the well-acclaimed developers have added a totally new elder dragon into their open world title known as the Kulve Taroth. While DLC is not anything unique for the Monster Hunter series as a whole, the fact that the DLC in world features brand new additions to the line-up on top of bringing in fan favorite monsters shows that the game has a lot going for its longevity.

On top of the gold-plated elder dragon, Capcom has added a new locale into the game for it to reside in as well. The Kulve Taroth’s nesting place is known as the Caverns of El Dorado, which as the name suggests is essentially a large series of interconnected caverns.

I unfortunately still don’t have a means of playing Monster Hunter: World in my personal time, but I really do like seeing it get the love it deserves. Plus, I’ll likely enjoy beating this thing up when I hang out with my friends over the summer.


‘Dark Souls’ on Switch release date pushed back

This is a story I have somewhat mixed feelings about. The upcoming Dark Souls: Remastered seems to be having some growing pains, as the Nintendo Switch release date was pushed back to the summer (along with its corresponding Amiibo).

Now I say I have mixed feelings on this because on one hand I’m really looking forward to this game coming out so I can finally experience the series I’ve always heard so much about. But on the other hand, I had no idea that the game was set to come out on May 25th originally, and am glad to have some extra time to enjoy ‘Don’t Starve’ more before jumping into a new game.

According to the Nintendo Life article I’m pulling this from (the one I linked above, thanks to my editor’s feedback), the development issues seem to only be affecting the Switch version thus far. Every other console will still see a May 25th release.


Bungie to host community summit regarding ‘Destiny 2’

When Bungie originally decided to move on from their success producing games in the ‘Halo’ series, many fans were sad to see them go but also excited for their next project: Another futuristic space-themed first person shooter called ‘Destiny.’

Destiny was a huge hit upon release and built up a massive fanbase quickly that latched onto the game for years following its 2014 release. However… The sequel, Destiny 2, has not been so lucky.

Because fans continue to have problems with the overall game, Bungie will be holding a community-driven gathering in Washington to see what issues people still want addressed as a means of potentially keeping the game alive.

I’ve never been a huge Destiny fan myself despite a long history with Halo, so I can’t say I’m an expert in everything people complain about regarding the game. This Variety article does a pretty nice job of laying it out though, so give that a read if you’re interested in some more context.

Besides that, don’t have too much to say on this one. I think it’s cool that Bungie wants to bring its community of fans in for this kind of work, but I don’t necessarily have a stake in the game either way.


E3 press conference announcements have begun

With the annual E3 conference comes a heaping helping of new video game news that fans around the world are always eager to gobble up. Even though it won’t be until June, various companies have already begun to announce their line-up of titles and press conference times.

IGN has a nice list of everything that has been announced so far, so I’m going to leave that here. Nobody has leaked the specifics of what they’re doing just yet, but it’ll be interesting to watch this space over the next few weeks to see what we can see.


Nintendo’s Labo experiment to launch tomorrow

If it wasn’t obvious, I’m kind of scraping the barrel at this point. There wasn’t a whole lot of news this last week that was groundbreaking, so I’m just pulling together whatever I can.

Thus, here’s a reminder that tomorrow will bring the release of Nintendo Labo, a strange series of arts-and-crafts add-ons for the Nintendo Switch that will offer an interesting example for the console’s more intricate abilities.

Fittingly released on 4/20, I suppose.

The first Labo Variety Kit will cost $69.99, which is a little rich for my blood looking at what it comes with… But I can’t argue with the fact that the set is essentially four games in one with extra real life fun to be had by building cardboard objects. So the price probably balances out there somewhere.

Also on the release docket for tomorrow is the new God of War, which continues to get rather stellar reviews like I mentioned in my last beat report. Schools around the country should probably be prepared for a lot of absences given the crossover of ‘hype new game’ and ‘smoke weed day’ if I were to make a prediction.


So with this beat report, I tried taking a slightly different approach. A few more items of interest than usual with a shorter, more to-the-point word count on each. Let me know what you think of that in the comments below, since I’m personally hoping it doesn’t just feel like I phoned things in!

Also, as usually, let me know if there’s anything I missed because I’m sure there is.

Hope somebody out there learned something today, but until next time I’m out of here. Have to get to class in about an hour or so, which is why I’m a bit more in-and-out than usual.

My literal work in progress

My literal work in progress

Alright so this is an unequivocally silly idea. Going to get that out in the open right off the bat.

Earlier this week there was an update to Fire Emblem Heroes that I did a rather extensive post for. You’ll recognize it for having the amazing pun in the title.

Also no, don’t tell me you would not have done the amazing pun in the comments. Because it’s amazing and literally everyone would have.

If it wasn’t obvious enough to anyone who reads these on a regular basis, I have a bit of a formula when it comes to pulling the Heroes posts together. I capture all of my images directly out of the game and try to organize them where they should belong for easy access.

As a result I always end up pre-writing my thoughts using pictures and quippy statements summarizing what I want to say.

For some reason the pre-writing skeleton I did for the Thracia 776 character addition post just… Really tickled my funny bone.

Maybe it was the fact that the origin of my new favorite Feh meme came out of the quickly written blurbs?

Feh Plot Meme

I’m not sure.

Whatever the reason is, I really enjoyed this first draft more than most of the others I do.

So… I decided to save off what I did as a separate post before going out and finalizing my thoughts.

This is that unabridged ‘first thoughts’ draft of my post. I figured that this is a blog meant to be a source of practice in the craft of writing, so why not try to show off some of the behind-the-scenes baseball?

There isn’t a single hair out of place. It’s a bunch of large, unadjusted pictures occasionally separated by text with me being snarky about the game. I assume nobody is going to want to see that, and I don’t want to bog down the blog overall with it, so I’m leaving everything under a read more on the off-chance anyone wants to test their luck.

Consider this my attempt to keep content flowing on an off day with something potentially of interest. Could be fun to do a compare/contrast maybe?

I don’t know, I’ll leave that up to the audience.

That said, I hope you all enjoy!

– Jason

Continue reading “My literal work in progress”

Movie Magic, ladies and germs

Movie Magic, ladies and germs

Ever since my dad shifted careers to start working for the movie ticket broker Fandango, we’ve had the chance to enjoy a number of benefits.

Up to this point those benefits have been rather specifically movie ticket related (for obvious reasons). However, today we got to take advantage of benefits related to the company’s attachment with NBC Universal:

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That’s right, we went to Universal Studios, y’all.

I had a blast spending the day with my family — pictured above in the featured image if it wasn’t clear to everyone — and just wanted to take a little bit of time to debrief myself from the trip and publish a couple of the pictures. Who knows, maybe that can serve an auxiliary purpose of showing some people the theme park/studio lot who can’t get there.

He says as if there aren’t plenty of outlets for that already.

But I digress. The day began, funnily enough, with work. I still work with the Gladeo League, and every two weeks (more or less) we have meetings over Google Hangouts. Naturally I forgot that today was the day I had a meeting at the same time as we needed to drive up.

Luckily it took plenty of time to get up to Universal.

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Check out that fancy map

I would like to take this chance to apologize to Michelle and everyone else again for having to deal with my jostling around in the car during our meeting. If any of you happen to be reading this.

That said, even if you guys are reading this, I’m sure neither you nor the rest of the audience is interested in the logistics of driving to a theme park.

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It’s all about the parking, after all.

Yeah we parked in the Frankenstein Lot. Also yeah, I got my sister to pose like everyone’s favorite amalgamate Universal monster. Also also yeah, my dad photobombed the picture.

But do I care?

Nah. It’s a great shot.

But hey, let’s jump into the park shall we?

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Just kidding, got you! First I wanted to talk about this.

Look at these trees with me. These are trees outfitted with mist sprinklers. Sprinkler trees. I don’t know who came up with this idea or where they are now, but wherever they may be they should be happy I’m not there. Because I’m not sure whether to smack them for being so silly or hug them for being a genius.

It’s just so perfectly weird in all the best ways. I’m still trying to sort through my thoughts and we caught these walking into the park at 10 a.m. or so.

Okay. Now let’s get into the park. Seriously this time.

The first thing we did was wander the length of the main level to check out the different facets made available to us. Eventually we settled on the Studio Tour as our first stop.

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Not included in my photo slideshow above is the interactive portions of the Tour, most notably.

The ‘ride,’ if you’re interested in calling it such, features two 3D virtual experiences. They both took place inside dark rooms with imposingly large screens surrounding the trams, which sat on rocking bases to simulate motion. One was based on King Kong and the other was based on Fast and the Furious.

There were also a number of examples of soundstage tricks throughout the time strolling around the studio lot, all capped off with a fun, snarky tour guide. Who started off the journey making fake airhorn noises.

Fun stuff.

Also in case you were curious, the Fast and the Furious portion of the Tour was just as ridiculous as the movies. Somehow they managed to pack two-and-a-half hours worth of insanity into about five minutes. Great stuff, honestly.

After finishing the Studio Tour, we moved over to check out the Simpsons region of the park.

The wait for the Simpson’s Ride was a little rich for our blood, so we decided to go straight from there to the Lower Lot.

I didn’t get a picture of the escalators down, but there were seriously at least seven. The lot is built into a crazy steep mountain.

At the bottom there are a few rides, but Aly and I did not tackle the Jurassic Park ride specifically. A few years ago I took the literal plunge with my dad when we weren’t expecting what it entailed, and the picture that was taken of us that day still graces out living room.

But that’s a story for another day.

Today our time in the Lower Lot consisted of two rides: Transformers and the Mummy.

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The Transformers ride was okay, though I frankly don’t have much to say about it. It was a 3D experience similar to the two portions of the Studio Tour I described, except moving around rather than being stuck on a single panel.

It did manage to be just as ridiculous as the Fast and the Furious portion of that Tour, however. Though that is a given considering it was based on a Michael Bay experience.

I think my tweet from that time sums up my thoughts pretty succinctly.

Somehow the ride incorporated that mentality while also containing an arc where Optimus Prime died, then came back to help save the day. All within the span of about five minutes. Good stuff.

From there we moved into the Mummy, where a lot of the fun came from the lead-in. Mostly watching Aly freak out as we got closer to the front.

The ride itself actually wound up being way more intense than either of us expected. It accelerated ridiculously quickly — but of course the park planned things specifically to take photos right when those G-forces hit.

As a result, we got this gem.

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I thought very hard about using this for the featured image.

But if I did, I wouldn’t be able to zoom in like this:

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Talk about 100 percent pure magic.

After finishing in the Lower Lot, we moved up into the place my family was looking forward to most:

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Hewlett Packard land. Everyone’s favorite technology-driven world.

I jest of course, but we really were excited for the Harry Potter stuff.

There were a couple of awesome things about this part of the park specifically. First and foremost, Butterbeer:

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That stuff is real good. Enough said.

Then of course, the wands:

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So many wands, so little time.

My dad’s job includes a discount at all the stores in the park, so we were all able to get wands of our own. Personally, I snagged a Luna Lovegood wand because of how beautiful a shape it takes:

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It looks like a broom or an arrow, and it’s great. I also managed to get the last Snitch keychain on the rack and it’s just as beautiful. I’ll have to figure out what to do with it, since I’m not sure I want to actually stick it on my keys. Looks fragile, man.

My dad also got one of the special wands that interacted with parts of the park and he looked real cute walking around waving it at things.

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But anyway, the other great thing about Harry Potter was the fact that my friend Tiana just so happened to be coming to the park today as well, so we met up there and jumped on the big attraction.

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This statue was a little too suggestive for us to handle like reasonable adults…
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But otherwise the decor was amazing.

Honestly the line going into the ride was the best part. It had so many amazing facets to explore that were all recognizable rooms from the movie.

The ride itself was just okay, though. Fun but a little overwhelming when it rolls you totally upside down as your feet hang free.

I tapered off on photos around this part of the day. My phone had trickled down into single-digit percentages so I didn’t have a lot of confidence in my abilities to keep it alive. Basically we ate at Mel’s Diner, I had an obscenely complicated trip around the park attempting to find a bathroom and we wound up over at the Minion’s Ride. Based, of course, on Illumination’s Despicable Me.

I’ll be honest, that ride was probably the worst part of the day. It was cute, but very impersonal compared to the way a lot of the other rides were presented.

Also it reminded me a little too much of the mobile game my sister messed around with a few years back, honestly.

On the way out we hit a couple of stores.

Also here’s something we found in one of the stores that will stare into your soul for the next few nights.

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Terrifying.

From there we left the park, took that neat-o picture I used for my post’s featured image out by the big globe and went over to City Walk so Aly could drag us to Voodoo Donuts.

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That, in a not-so-concise nutshell, was my day at Universal Studios. From there we drove home, where I got in some more Don’t Starve on the oh-so-convenient Nintendo Switch:

Then I started working on this blog post.

Don’t think I have too much more to say without things getting weirdly meta and self-contemplative, so I’m going to leave off where I started. I had a great day with my family and I can’t wait to see where we wind up next.

Entertainment Beat Report – April 12, 2018

Entertainment Beat Report – April 12, 2018

As it turns out, I must be using the momentum from my Daily Titan post earlier this week to my advantage. Sometimes I astound myself with the way I can just go dark for days on end when I know I’ll enjoy myself after I manage to get out multiple posts in a row.

It’s just a satisfying feeling, man.

But that’s neither here nor there. This is a place to talk about video games. Not any of that real life garbage.

There’s probably some news going back a few weeks that I missed, but honestly I’m going to focus this entertainment beat report on a couple of really big things that have happened just recently in the video game realms that I follow.

So, without further adieu.


Overwatch League player terminated over sexual misconduct allegations

That’s right, we’re starting off with the heavy stuff today folks.

Jonathan Sanchez, a player known as “DreamKazper” from the Boston Uprising team taking part in Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch League tournament, had his contract terminated on Sunday when allegations went around that the 21-year-old was sexually involved with a 14-year-old fan.

Both the League and his former team have released statements about the scandal that can be seen over in the Game Informer link I put above.

I’ll be honest, I don’t exactly have a lot to say about this subject specifically. I have been following the League a little bit for this class, but I wouldn’t call myself an expert. Certainly not enough to know whether or not losing this player will leave a huge dent in the team’s abilities for the rest of the tournament.

But the fact that this story came out and received the reaction it did is important. In an era where the “Me too” movement seems to be taking down celebrities and other popular figures left and right (with good cause), it’s nice to see that a niche industry like eSports is not immune.

Though the League as a whole does not seem to be having a fantastic first run in regards to its media pull, which overall is somewhat unfortunate. Game Informer also linked to coverage of another case where a player was suspended and fined for derogatory language, and I remember writing a beat report not too long ago about one female commentator receiving death threats.

As an obvious fan of all things video games, I’d like to see a mainstream popular League like this survive beyond these controversies.

I suppose only time will tell.


“Donkey Kong” high score disqualified

Everyone loves Donkey Kong, right?

Well yes, Rare’s Donkey Kong Country series is certainly what people know the hulking ape for nowadays, and those games are undoubtedly wonderful both as experiences in themselves and as developments in gaming history.

But I’m talking about old school arcade Donkey Kong. The game where proto-Mario jumped around on scaffolding to save future New Donk City mayor Pauline from the clutches of the red tie-wearing monkey’s grandfather.

Is Donkey Kong a money? I swear I took a primate class not too long ago but I’m still nowhere near enough of an expert…

Anyway, not the point.

The point is, OG Donkey Kong had a worldwide high score set by a player named Billy Mitchell. Mitchell’s scores was removed from rankings of the game following the discovery that many of them were achieved using an emulator, according to a report by Kotaku.

Heather Alexandra has a pretty in-depth story on the subject that’s fascinating in its level of detail, so I’m going to just recommend you read it off the link I posted above.

If you’re at all interested in the retro gaming scene, you’ll have a good time.


New “God of War” title received stellar reviews

There’s a little-known franchise making waves in the game review circuit right now.

Oh, who am I kidding, anyone who’s reading this likely knows what “God of War” is, as it’s far from ‘little-known.’ The highly acclaimed series will be breaking into the next generation of consoles soon with a new release on the PS4, and people have been hyped for the game since it was announced some time ago.

Like many other people, I will affectionately refer to the game as “Dad of War” because the main character, Kratos, is an older man with a son in this title.

The game’s reviews have begun to trickle out now that there’s about a week before its release, and at this point everything looks to be highly in favor of the new Dad of War. On Metacritic, a site that accumulates review scores from across the web, the game has positive acclaim across the board.

Hell, at least three sites have given everyone’s favorite god-slaying daddy a 100 percent. Even IGN, which is pretty famous for hilariously bad reviews (look at you, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire’s 7.8/10 score for ‘too much water’) gave the game a perfect 10 — literally describing the game as a masterpiece.

After initial reviews like that, the question remains: Will Dad of War truly be as impressive as everyone is letting on?

I won’t personally be able to say given the fact that I don’t own a PS4. But my friends might play it.

If they do, I suppose I’ll get my answer there.


There are also probably a few smaller things I could throw into this, but for the most part it would be items of personal interest like the release of Klei Entertainment’s “Don’t Starve” on the Nintendo Switch.

(Shout out to Klei for liking my tweet. I’ve been noticed by Senpai!)

I love the game to death and played hours on end over Steam, so I’m excited to get to dive into it on a more portable system.

That said, it really is more of a personal item, so I’m going to let you all off early on this post.

I hope you all learned something new here today, and if there’s any big news in the world of video games that I missed, feel free to let me know in the comments down below!