Month: July 2018

Legendary Lucina Lights the Way

Legendary Lucina Lights the Way

There’s nothing quite as good at getting me back in the easy writing mood as a Fire Emblem Heroes update. Particularly when there are new units involved.

Not sure how excited I am to similarly embark on the journey of writing about the fuller version update that’s coming in a couple of days. But hopefully this will be a nice palate cleanser to get me into the swing of things again.

That’s especially the case with a smaller introduction, like Legendary Heroes. Only one character to run down. One new map. A bunch of subsidiaries to discuss.

Nothing too crazy. So let’s just jump into it, shall we?

My daily writing will once again awaken thanks to good old Legendary Lucina here.


LucinaGlorious Archer

Skill Set:

  • Thögn (Might = 14 / Range = 2)
    • Effective against flying foes. Grants Speed +3. If unit initiates combat and a foe uses sword, lance, axe or dragonstone, grants Attack, Speed, Defense and Resistance +4 during combat.
  • Future Vision (Range = 1)
    • Unit and target ally swap spaces. Grants another action to unit (only once per turn).
  • Swift Sparrow (A Skill)
    • If unit initiates combat, grants Attack and Speed +4 during combat.
  • Wings of Mercy (B Skill)
    • If an ally’s Health ≤ 50 percent, unit can move to a space adjacent to that ally.
  • Distant Guard (C Skill)
    • Allies within two spaces gain: “If foe uses a bow, dagger, magic or staff, grants Defense and Resistance +4 during combat.”

Overall, Lucina is built to be a forward, attack-focused unit.

Her weapon makes her faster and boosts all of her stats when she’s attacking a unit that uses physical weapons. Theoretically units that can’t attack back, even if distant counter weapons are a frequent thing.

Add onto that the Swift Sparrow boost and Lucina can gain a whopping eight Attack and 11 Speed when attacking an enemy unit. Which is pretty crazy, all things considered. Especially considering she’s our second non-colorless archer and hits ever-present red units even harder.

There’s also a pretty sweet combination going on between Wings of Mercy and Future Vision — her exclusive Movement Assist skill.

Have a unit dying up on the front lines? Let Lucina teleport over to them, swap them into a safer position and then gain an extra move through the instantaneous Galeforce to kill whoever’s a problem. It’s actually a pretty sweet concept.

Her C Skill is the only one that doesn’t shine quite as brightly as the rest, in my opinion. It specifically requires her to be put on a team of full ranged units, but even then only grants them +4 to the defensive stats. Not exactly super stellar, but could be good if building her surrounding squad specifically.

While I can’t say anything to her stats, Lucina is a pretty great unit based on her skills alone. She fills an interesting attack-oriented niche that not many other archers could properly take on, and Wind Blessing teams are stronger because of it.

But of course Lucina isn’t the only hero on this Legendary Banner. Players can also go for:

The red pool is full of units I don’t have, including that slippery samurai that managed to drain my orbs a few months back. So I’m pretty interested in that whole swatch of heroes.

The same can mostly be said for blue, which has the rather powerful-sounding Legendary Lucina and original Azura, a unit I’ve never been able to summon before. Ishtar is probably the only exception to my interest there, since I already summoned her using the banner she arrived on. She’s powerful, but not a unit I use enough to necessarily want multiple copies.

Green, again, is relatively full of units I don’t have. Though I’m not sure they’re units I want outside of filling my Hero Catalog. Christmas Lissa is the only one I have, and while I loved her around Christmas time she was unfortunately outclassed by my Valentine Hector. Lyn and Lilina are absent from my ranks, but neither are units I can necessarily see myself using a lot.

So I’d be up to summoning them, but I’m not actively looking for them.

Colorless is really the only quarter of this banner that I’m avoiding completely. Female Grima and Brave Lyn are both played out in the Legendary Banner scene, and I also already have a Kinshi Hinoka. It’s the only place where I have everything I could think to ask for.

As a whole, the Legendary Banner for Lucina is full of units I don’t have, and as a result it’s much more enticing than many of them have been in the past. Since summoning Sumia so quickly on the recent Awakening banner I’ve been saving my orbs, and started off today with about 180.

Ready to spend my heart out, I threw out plenty of orbs while playing Minecraft with my crew at 1 a.m. this morning.

Turns out that was a pretty viable strategy:

Two brand new, useful units. The Lady of the Lake and the Lady of the Wind, together at last.

Honestly I can’t find any reason to complain.

Gunnthrá was my only Wind Blessing Legendary Hero up until now, so it’s nice to have some diversity in that pool. Plus it’s never bad to have another dancing unit, and as soon as they add a fourth Azura into the game I’ll be able to create an Azura Emblem team.

It took me about 80 orbs to sniff out these two, so I’m not sure how many more orbs I’ll spend right now. Maybe as I collect some more orbs I’ll throw out a couple at Lucina, but I’m somewhat inclined to let my luck stand where it is and save up for later.

Luckily there’s a perfect opportunity to score some more orbs with the Legendary Battle map.


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Another day, another nine orbs.

While maps that call in reinforcements are always annoying, I’m not expecting this one to give me too much trouble. After all, I managed to score everything I could off of the Ryoma and Hector maps when they made their way through the wringer.

Lucia’s way less aggressive than both of them were.

See? She just wants to do a training demonstration. That’s all.

No big deal at all.


Alright so I know that last portion about the battle map was a little short. I just don’t have too much to say about it. It’s a long, tough fight with some rewards at the end.

I wanted to share about it for the sake of record keeping, but staying up so late last night playing games kept me from doing this post for the early morning like I usually do. So I’m also rushing myself just a bit to get it out there at all.

That said, I can’t really think of a better way to wrap this up than to simply wrap it.

So what do you think of this new Legendary Lucina? Is she as powerful as she sounds? Will you be spending your orbs for her?

Let me know, and let me know who else you want to see take on the coveted mantle of Legendary Hero in the future.

In the meantime, I’m going to go prepare for a business meeting I’ve got in the near future.

 

A Passing Over Post

Obviously I missed out on doing a blog post yesterday. Almost missed out on doing one today too, but I figured I would at least do something quick to fill the void and try to keep myself honest.

My missing time pretty much comes out of a lot of time spent with my friends the last couple days. Had a long hang-out with the main gang yesterday that went until 1 a.m. and kept me busy the whole day, then today I spent a bunch of time with Sam just chatting about life and playing some video games.

Most of it was pretty chill, relaxing. Just be kinda stuff I needed as we get to about a month remaining before school starts up again.

Probably the most adrenaline pumping thing, funny enough, was playing a little old PS2-era game called—

Devil May Cry 3.

Yeah I’m serious.

Juan’s been pretty hyped up about the DMC series lately because they announced the fifth game at E3 this year. So he got us to try playing some of the older titles.

Appearance-wise they aged about as well as early 2000s PS2 games might be expected to.

But from a gameplay and charm perspective? I pretty immediately felt all-in with the adventures of Dante. Talk about a crazy mess of a game with some pre-recession charm.

It was just fun. A definite win to fit into my early PlayStation experiences. Something to help me get better with that classic PlayStation controller set-up too.

But that’s about all I can think to say about my recent friends escapades that isn’t just ‘Hey I had a fun time.’

I don’t know, in case it wasn’t obvious I don’t exactly have a lot to say about much of anything right now. I’m in a bit of a lull as far as overarching motivations go.

It’s taken me forever just to write this little bit of text because I’m a bit more interested in watching this new season of Orange is the New Black with mom and Aly.

Haven’t watched too much of the rest of the show, but it’s still pretty enthralling all the same.

Might just leave it at that, honestly. There’s some more stuff happening later this week that I could probably use to fill in the empty void from Sunday. There’s another Legendary Hero coming in Fire Emblem Heroes, I’m starting to do some work for the Fullerton Society of Professional Journalists’ branch and I think some of my Gladeo stories should finally be moving through the pipeline into the real world sometime soon.

So just consider this a ‘more to come’ post. Since I really don’t have too much more to go off of.

Return to Wilson Park

Return to Wilson Park

Once again I spent the evening in Torrance enjoying the second Shakespeare by the Sea performance of the season.

Last night showcased The Winter’s Tale, a drama that arguably wasn’t very dramatic, but tonight was comedy night with The Merry Wives of Windsor.

The seats weren’t as great as last time, but it was worth it to have a sandwich with the show.

Honestly, this play was much better in my opinion. I’m usually one for the Shakespearean dramas, but something about this show in particular really tickled my funny bone.

It was essentially the story of two women getting revenge on a man who tried to steal both of them from their husbands at the same time, not knowing they were close friends and would figure it out. As always, the actors really brought the story — and all the innuendo it carried — to life in the best of ways.

Plus the show told me that Shakespeare was a proponent of cuckolding and crossdressing as a means of humiliating people. The guy may have changed the English language and culture forever, but he was a freak when he wanted to be.

God… What am I doing. Making fun of the Bard in a random Saturday blog post.

This is what happens when you don’t have any ideas, people.

Well okay that’s not necessarily true. There’s a few things I could think to talk about from tonight.

Like how I had a great time going out to the show with Aly tonight.

Plus I’m still sunburnt and look awful? But that’s a different story.

Or the fact that having a seat further back from the stage facilitated seeing a lot more of the special extraneous stuff surrounding the production.

It’s harder to notice the actors slipping out from the side of the stage to make their approach through the center aisle when you’ve got a more centralized, engrossing view of the show. For example.

On top of that, when it came to this show specifically, I noticed a lot more of the things going on in the park around us as well. For instance, the venue happens to be in front of an outdoor hockey rink:

That thing has a very loud buzzer, even when it’s outside.

Yet that buzzer is only barely louder than the little kids playing on the playground over to the right of the stage.

All especially fun distractions when you’re far enough away from the action that even the speakers don’t pick up all the slack in helping us hear what was going on.

That’s about all I can think to say though, I’m afraid. I went to the gym again earlier today, and that coupled with the late play has left me a little burnt out.

So I’ll try to get something more significant out tomorrow.

Even though the plan is to spend the night with my friends. We’ll see.

A Day of Fine Arts

A Day of Fine Arts

After a rare day spent almost entirely outdoors at the Manhattan Beach Pier and at Wilson Park in Torrance, I’m pretty beat.

I’m also pretty sunburnt at that, so I’m sure I’ll come to regret not putting on sunscreen once my face starts to seriously burn up. ‘Tis the unfortunate truth of being an overtly pale, caucasian shut-in.

But that’s neither here nor there. Just consider it my excuse to not write the Citizen Kane of blog posts tonight.

All my tired, complexion-driven complaints aside, it was actually quite a lovely day. My friend Mimi and I spent the afternoon just catching up and venting about all of the drama pervading our lives lately.

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Excuse the wink. I swear it’s the sun, not me trying to be a douche.

Of course there are few catalysts better for bonding than pizza. So luckily I was able to take the opportunity to introduce her to my favorite pizza place: The Manhattan Beach Pizzeria.

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Ain’t that a tasty-looking slice? I’ve certainly been a proponent of it since days long past, when this particular joint was a preferred spot to hang out at after volleyball camp every summer.

Plus the calzone was definitely worth the long journey through L.A. traffic, from what I heard through a totally objective third party.

Speaking of that long journey through traffic, it facilitated my having a little bit of extra time before we started to hang out to just wander the shopping plaza at the top of the hill there. It has been a while since I’ve had the chance, as I haven’t gone nearly as much as I should have over the summer.

For some reason, the thing that stood out to me most while I was traversing the grounds was all the public art all around. A lot of it was new, clearly meant to spruce up the area around city hall and the library.

I decided to try and take some artsy, angled pictures of all the different pieces I found as a sort of miniature time-killing project in the middle of the grey, overcast afternoon.

So yeah if you’re interested in strange, not necessarily copacetic public art, enjoy:

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After a couple of hours at the beach, we decided to hang out longer with no real plans set for the next day. That time spread into more fine art, as mom pointed out that there was a Shakespeare by the Sea performance in Torrance.

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For the uninitiated, Shakespeare by the Sea is a theatre troop that has done free performances across California for the last 21 years. It’s a popular event for my family, and one I enjoy bringing my friends to.

How can you go wrong with Shakespeare, after all?

I guess to be fair the show tonight was one of the stranger plays: The Winter’s Tale. It was particularly funny at token moments, but overall holds the distinction of being the only Shakespeare play I can recall seeing where everyone was alive at the end — including many characters who had died during the course of the play.

Weird stuff.

While attending the show I had another obscure little observation. This one relating back to seeing the audience watching it.

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I’m not entirely sure why, but I felt a strange sense of pleasure watching a large crowd of people all quietly engaging with the live performance. As if they were watching a particularly awe-inspiring television program.

Maybe I was just drawn to the idea that we’ve retained the same kind of interest with live performances, particularly Shakespearean performances, as we once had in the days before being overwhelmed by the constant media barrage of the 21st century.

Especially considering just how timeless and relentlessly clever the Bard’s works are.

A Novel Writing Tool

If there’s one thing I haven’t talked about nearly enough around here, it’s Fire Emblem.

Nah, just kidding. I talk about that way too much.

But I don’t talk about my Senior Honors Project as much as I probably should. Doing so would probably encourage me to make more progress than I have been.

Though that said, I’m here today to talk about the progress I have made, because I have honestly done a good bit outside of hunting for a mentor to approach once the semester kicks off. Like I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I wanted to ensure I had some sort of basic product to approach my future mentor with as a showing of faith.

That’s meant interacting with some writers to know exactly what a fictional novel’s book proposal might look like so I can emulate it.

But that’s also meant working on actually starting to lay out and write my novel. Characters were the most difficult hurdle for me to get over, as I had a general idea what kind of plot line I wanted to go with but no serious image for who would be going through it.

Since passing that hurdle I’ve made it a good chunk of the way through my book’s first chapter. I’m hoping to at have at least two done as an example of the eventual overall product.

Outlining has been rather important to me on this current venture. I’ve attempted to write books before you see, but most of them falter when I get less than a chapter in because I don’t actually have a clear idea where I’m going with it. Usually my outings have begun with a vague idea of something that sounds cool with no substance around it.

Also they’ve usually started with the amnesiac protagonist cliché.

I’ve come to see the error of my ways. This book does not start that way, I assure you.

To help avoid a faltering in my progress and keep my thoughts better organized, I’ve turned to a new tool that mom introduced me to after using it for her editing work.

She actually wrote her own blog post about this ‘Master Outlining and Tracking Tool,’ but I wanted to give it my own separate endorsement because it has been a really great thing for me personally and I figure it might be for some of you out there too.

The full, in-depth explanation of how the tool works (and a place to download it) is here on the creator’s website. It undoubtedly does a far better job explaining all the intricacies than I could right now in my Hollow Knight-ed daze, so it’s worth going right to the source.

But I figured I shouldn’t cop-out entirely on this blog post by just pointing to other blog posts. After all, there are many different things in this outlining tool, and I’ve primarily been using only a few of them.

Most notably, like I mentioned, is the story outlining stuff.

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Surprise, an actual sort of sneak peek of part of what I’m planning. Don’t tell nobody, though!

It’s honestly hard to explain how invaluable this kind of section is for someone like me. Out of all the words of advice that the Daily Titan’s advisor Bonnie has given out for improving writing in the three years I’ve known her, the one nailed into my head the hardest would have to be the idea that a story should be able to distill down into a sentence.

There are so many stories for the newspaper I’ve written that have been far better once I knew how I wanted to focus them down.

Thus I’ve been approaching my basic outline here with the same mindset. If I’m able to distill the story down into just a sentence, both for the overall product and the individual chunks of that product, then I can more easily stick to one idea and run with it.

Then there’s the characters, both keeping track of how many are floating throughout the story as a whole and accounting for individual details of the characters in question.

This tool offers both:

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I haven’t personally written out the details for my characters yet since I’ve been focused on the outline. Consider this a secret surprise for later!

There are lots of other things that are helpful in this tool as well.

Tabs to keep track of what different plots are intersecting when.

Tabs to track word count per chapter.

Tabs to organize what chapter hosts what information.

It’s just… Really good stuff. I don’t know what else to tell you guys.

Check it out, use it if you need help keeping organized like me, support the creator… And thank my mom. Because she’s great and finds some cool writing/editing stuff in her free time.

Running and Gaming

I probably could have written up a blog post much earlier today when I wasn’t about to fall asleep while also taking the trash out.

But what can I say. Hollow Knight has enthralled me for easily the last six or so hours straight, so I lost track of time.

I’m not going to say I regret the loss or anything… Because boy is that game wonderful in every kind of way…

But yeah. This probably won’t be super long as a result.

Especially since the whole ‘falling asleep’ part of things stems out of my trip to the gym with mom today, which some of you might remember from this tweet I sent out in the middle of my run.

Mr. Crump is one of my high school gym teachers, if that wasn’t clear enough via context clues.

The trip is finally starting to hit me hard, so I might just pass out as soon as I finish this.

See I haven’t exactly been to the gym in a long time. I went fairly regularly about a year ago at the Cal State Fullerton Rec Center. Back then I made sure my schedule had a few open periods for me to head in there.

Then I found out about my low blood platelet count. Followed shortly after by a stint in the hospital with Meningitis.

Add onto that a busy class/work schedule and my trips to the gym became less and less frequent.

As you might imagine, that’s not exactly the healthiest reality. But it was reality for a bit.

Luckily I’ve finally decided to reverse course and go back to hitting the gym I registered for a membership at a local Planet Fitness where my mom and sister go, that way I have somewhere at home and on campus I could potentially go to.

That way I have no excuse.

Day one went quite well I’d say, even if I may have overdone it based on how wonky I felt for a while after. But hey, with this kind of a early result, who can complain?

Soon enough I’ll build up my stamina and branch out to more than just the treadmill. Then maybe I’ll be less wiped by the end of the day.

I’m just glad that I’ve hopefully found the motivation to go frequently again, that way I can start to feel better.

I’m also glad the Super Beard Bros exist, as they’re my favorite YouTube channel to watch while I run going back to those days at the CSUF gym.

Guess that’s a good possible question for this post that doesn’t need one. What do you all like to do when you’re at the gym? Listen to music? Watch TV? Watch videos? Listen to yourself pant and suffer?

Let me know! Could be something good for me to keep in mind for the future.

Go drunk Twitter, you’re home

I decided to go through with my idea from the other day and create a poll on Twitter to determine which game I should buy on my Switch, as I’ve had an interest in both Hollow Knight and Enter the Gungeon for some time now.

It only seemed fair to go to the Internet to make my choice for me, as I have long histories with both action platformers and roguelikes.

Naturally that poll turned out to be a flop in the end.

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It’s kind of funny how Twitter decided to give that extra one percent to the category I didn’t actually have a vested interest in.

While that left me with two options, either to assume equality amongst all choices considering only three votes were cast or go with the luck of the draw additional percentage, my choice was kind of set before it came to me.

I love you Kaleb, but Octopath Traveler is a full-price $60 game. As much as I’d probably be down for the fancy, traditional JRPG, it’s not really in my wheelhouse at the moment.

But there’s a separate problem plaguing my poll here that could have solved everything without any more headache. A problem that I’m blaming on Twitter directly.

See I’ve never done a Twitter poll before so I was curious how the underlying systems for it work. In checking out those analytics I found something very suspicious.

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First of all, shout out to the fact that 17 people engaged with the tweet but mostly didn’t actually vote. That’s cool.

More importantly though, what happened to that fourth vote?!

How is it that the tweet itself only has three votes counted if the analytics suggest four have been cast? Did somebody vote and then take their vote away? Is that even something someone can do? If that is something someone can do, why would it still be counted somewhere?

I have just… So many questions. It’s all pretty upsetting to because that fourth vote would have been the literal tie-breaker.

Even if, like I said, Octopath is kind of out of the question.

So that leaves me exactly where I started, drawn equally between Hollow Knight and Enter the Gungeon.

As much as that indecision would normally leave me complaining for a few minutes before ultimately deciding to do nothing and save my money, I have been pretty desperate for a new game to play.

So I’m going to go outside of my Internet questionnaire and cheat my answer out of someone who wanted to cast a vote but doesn’t have a Twitter account to do so.

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Congratulations Jonathan, you are the tie-breaker.

Just to prove it, here I am buying Hollow Knight as we speak:

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I’d say it’s safe to expect some kind of an impression-laden post about the game sometime in the near future, because that’s just the sort of thing I like.

Luckily, as you can tell, I’ve figured out how to pull pictures off the Switch without needing to post them on social media, so hopefully it’ll be a much more engaging post at that.

What’s that? Both Hollow Knight and Enter the Gungeon on now download screen?

Yes, well. As it turned out, when I was going to look at Hollow Knight, I happened to see that Enter the Gungeon was on sale in honor of its recent update. A whopping 50 percent off.

Thus this turns out to be the most unexpected timeline where I was able to get both games for about $22 bucks — a veritable steal considering these two will likely be my chief source of entertainment for the rest of the summer and beyond.

Now my only problem is I have to figure out which game to play first.

Did Intelligent Systems forge a fun event?

Did Intelligent Systems forge a fun event?

As many of you know, I consider myself something of a Fire Emblem Heroes recorder. I’ve been following the game since its humble beginnings and quite enjoy taking note of different things that come to it on behalf of Intelligent Systems.

New summoning focuses.

Major version updates.

Chronicling the game’s ever-expanding plot.

And of course the topic of today’s blog post: Brand new game modes.

While we still haven’t gotten anything that facilitates playing and interacting with friends in any significant capacity, many different ways to play have been attached to the overall FEH experience over time. Outside of the Tap Battles, each has built upon the fundamental style of a turn-based RPG with slightly varying rules to challenge players who wish to earn more rewards.

The newest “Forging Bonds” game mode is no exception, but hits an interesting note by emulating a more classic support system than the game boasts with its own style of supports.

Though that intrigue is pretty heavily counterbalanced by how bland the method of playing is.

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Forging Bonds sets its eyes on the characters most recently added into the game via the Awakening banner that activated a few days ago.

So Olivia, Sumia, Maribelle and Libra are the units players are meant to pay attention to. However, the game makes it abundantly clear that unlike other events where the focused characters provide score bonuses (as they do in the Arena or Tempest Trials), players get no bonuses by owning and using these four.

Which is a shame considering I summoned Sumia so early:

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But at the same time it’s objectively a great decision to make the experience open to the full spectrum of players.

Yet… I can’t argue that it’s a perfect decision. Let me explain why in a roundabout fashion.

See the four heroes of note don’t provide any bonuses because they’re simply used as reward-granting stand-ins. The actual play style of Forging Bonds is as easy as selecting a difficulty level and battling one map for each 15 stamina you spend.

Like in almost every game mode before it, whatever opponents you fight on that map are randomized but scale based on the difficulty you choose.

The catch is that some of these enemies have random item drops.

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As you can see in the image of the event’s main screen I posted above, each of the four focused heroes correspond with a colored heart:

  • Olivia — Red
  • Sumia — Orange
  • Maribelle — Green
  • Libra — Blue

When battling, RNGesus decides which kind of color you receive. There just happens to be weighted odds for finding one color over the others.

This boosted chance cycles every couple of hours, and really does make a difference. In all the times I’ve been playing, Sumia has had the boosted chance, and as of now I have over 400 points lined up with her and just 150 lined up with Olivia otherwise. Maribelle and Libra have gotten no love, apparently.

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The division of one’s points matter, because unlike other in-game events such as the Tempest Trials where there’s a single string of rewards to unlock by playing, Forging Bonds offers four completely separate strings of rewards:

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That’s right, if you didn’t enjoy the grinding for points before, now you get to do it four times over with no guarantee that you’ll get the points for the character you want! Isn’t that just wonderful.

For someone like me who has Stamina Potions literally wasting away en masse in his reserves, this isn’t so much of a problem. I can just wait for a day where the character I want to focus on has a boosted chance and go ham on those battles. Especially since there’s two weeks of event to get through.

For most other players, especially novice players, I can wholeheartedly understand why this would be far more frustrating than it has any right to be.

Seriously, I played Monster Hunter. I know the pain that comes when the desire sensor denies you the exact thing you’re looking for in place of an item you have half a billion of.

But that does leave a substantial question. Are the rewards worth the effort of struggling to get them?

There are three primary rewards that come out of Forging Bonds. The first is the source of its namesake: The support conversations.

In traditional Fire Emblem games, support conversations are discussions two characters have together that build their characters up and offer benefits like stat buffs when they fight together in battle. In the modern FE titles like Awakening and Fates, getting high enough support levels between characters also leads to marriage and subsequent recruitable ‘child’ characters.

In Heroes, the system of supports implemented was dumbed down to simply offer stat buffs and the occasional aesthetic alteration (like having the S-rank supported units snuggle in the hot springs when completing Tap Battles). It would be nigh impossible to add legitimate conversations when every character can support with every character from any and all Fire Emblem games ever made, after all.

The support conversations that can be unlocked with the four characters in Forging Bonds are much more like the prior example.

See the theme of the event, in this Ylissian version at least, is that the four heroes want to defend a town but can’t wait for reinforcements to be sent by Chrom.

Naturally the Order of Heroes arrives and offers their services, making the Ylissian Travelers more like companions in the context of the storyline this event sets up.

As a result, they have support conversations with you, the player, as you earn friendship points with them. Despite the fact that you may or may not have summoned them to join your army in the meta context of this as a video game.

After achieving some level of support with each character on the given roster, the overall story of the event also moves forward. So theoretically, by achieving an S-Rank support with all four heroes, eventually you’ll see a completed story arc.

It’s a cute idea, but flawed by its own premise in my opinion.

There’s something empty about these supports because there are no outside benefits to them.

You aren’t more likely to earn friendship points for that character once you begin to see their support conversations. Because they aren’t units you need to have to participate, seeing the support conversations offers no benefits to you if you do happen to own those units.

They’re just flavor text through-and-through. It’s actually somewhat underwhelming as a reward.

To be fair I haven’t gotten to S-Rank support with any of these heroes so I’m not sure how crazy the supports get, and that might just make them more worthwhile. Consider this a rain check on that idea.

With that long story aside, it’s pretty clear that the event probably isn’t worth players’ time if the namesake of the event itself isn’t really worthwhile, right?

Not quite. There are other rewards to accrue, after all.

The most notably rare and worthwhile are the special accessories that correspond with each character. Once you reach 100 friendship, you earn something like a flower hairband for Sumia.

Those 100 friendship accessories also add additional friendship points that stack when equipped to heroes you fight in Forging Bonds with, so they’re worth picking up in practical terms as well as aesthetic ones.

Then there are EX versions of each accessory that are available when you earn 2,500 points for each character:

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These EX variants aren’t practically useful like the regular ones… But I’d be lying if I said they weren’t each good-looking enough to not be worth the price of admission.

Then again I’m a sucker for putting cute accessories on my characters, so these rewards are inherently a draw for someone like me. That then begs the question of whether there are other rewards more useful to players who aren’t into the aesthetics.

Again, the answer is yes.

See between all of the different main reward tiers for accessories and support conversations are basic rewards. Badges for leveling up and the like.

After a while these rewards become exclusively Hero Feathers, which players can use to upgrade their units into different rarity levels.

Feathers are somewhat hard to come by considering it takes 20,000 to bring a four-star hero into a five-star hero, so those are definitely great items to go for (even if you can only get about 16,000 from all four paths together).

Unfortunately the same cannot be said about orbs. Usually special events love to give players orbs because that, in turn, encourages them to keep up the unhealthy addiction to summoning that we’ve all developed. But for Forging Bonds, only one orb sits at the top-level reward tier for each hero.

So you can get four orbs in total by playing Forging Bonds.

Now to be fair there is also one orb given away daily by playing a match once, but even so that brings the total orb haul up to a measly 18. Not even enough for a full round of summons on a given banner.

Honestly that’s pretty disappointing. More orbs would actually encourage me to participate in the event more than the support conversations do, because even if they are the focus they don’t provide any sort of long-term benefits.

At least Intelligent Systems seems to recognize that considering the day one reward for the event coming out was 20 orbs:

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Honestly, as far as content goes, that’s just about all there is to say regarding Forging Bonds. Like I said toward the top, it’s an intriguing approach to setting-up an event that falters due to its over-reliance on RNG coupled with lackluster, sometimes useless rewards that don’t encourage players to deal with that chance.

I also personally have some smaller, more nitpick-y issues with the approach as a whole.

Namely the fact that despite being an event clearly set in Ylisse where the characters are hoping to protect their homeland, the game itself doesn’t set up a world that matches the story-created expectation.

The maps seem randomly chosen, so while players will occasionally fight on a map based on a map from Fire Emblem Awakening, that chance is very rare. It’s a small detail, but it’s the kind of world-building this event missed out on that would have done it much more justice in the long-run.

Especially considering events like Tempest Trials have already shown a propensity for focusing on maps from specific games’ canons.

Just saying.

At least the music on the main screen of the event is pretty nice, so I’ll give the developers that much.

And maybe there’s more credit I should be giving the developers. Perhaps I’m being somewhat harsh on this event as a whole If I am, and you have your own opinions on it, please feel free to let me know in the comments down below!

Like I mentioned up top, I like to think of myself as a chronicler of the history of Fire Emblem Heroes at this point. But that also means I’m open to changing my opinions on things as time goes on.

So who knows, maybe the next version of Forging Bonds will take some of these critiques and run with them to create something better. I can feel something interesting under the surface, after all.

Quick Time Events suck

Quick Time Events suck

I know it’s a cliché to argue exactly what I’m saying in the title here, but don’t worry. I’m not actually planning on going on a long tirade against QTEs in video games.

This is just another case of ‘I spent all day hanging out with my friends and didn’t take the chance to write anything so I need some space filler.’

Welcome to space filler.

The reason I bring up quick time events in the first place is because most of our time today was spent playing a little known title called Detroit: Become Human. That’s right, the narrative-driven title brought to the world by Quantic Dream and the ever-controversial developer David Cage.

It’s a game that’s interesting… But pretty heavily flawed. In some key places.

We’ve been playing the game over the last few hangouts we’ve had while Jonathan was off in Canada on an extended road trip vacation, and it’s given me the chance to absorb some of what I feel are the big problems with my experience of the game — outside of issues with the studio and some of the ways women are treated that have been played to death in media.

No, my main problems with the experience of playing Detroit: Become Human involve certain gameplay elements. Beyond just the way it awakened a previously unknown pet peeve of being back-seat gamed when messing up a quick time event because I’m not used to Playstation controls and stuff is too sensitive and gettING YELLED AT ABOUT SCREWING THE GAME OVER UP DESPITE THE FACT THAT LATER IT’S REVEALED EVERYTHING WORKED OUT OKAY BECAUSE I’M A GOOD ROBOT JESUS JUAN AND TIANA CHILL OUT.

*Ahem*

Sorry about that. Just lost the last few seconds of my life, but I think I’m okay now.

But yes, besides issues with quick time events, it also annoyed me how much the game relies on using invisible walls and choices that inevitably seem to make no difference in the narrative necessarily.

For example, in one scene a character can lose their memory if the player doesn’t respond to a series of events fast enough. In the branching paths of the story’s narrative there is apparently a pathway that can be ventured down where the character legitimately loses their memories forever and becomes a mindless android servant.

But that isn’t a result of actually losing their memory the first time.

No, if the character loses their memory, that isn’t the end of the scene. Screwing up didn’t just kill the run, it instead let the character walk out and find ways to regain their memories.

I suppose the argument could be made that having these kinds of levels of choices to be made is an example of having a successfully branching narrative.

But there’s a narrative dissonance when the character you’ve been playing loses all sense of themselves… But that doesn’t inherently affect the player’s abilities to control their actions. All it really does is add a few extra steps for the player to advance into the next scene rather than going straight there because nothing about the experience of playing changes.

I don’t know, maybe I’m just not a fan of the style of games presented by Quantic Dream, but elements like that bugged me. It felt somewhat manipulative, attempting to throw the player in a certain story direction under the guise of giving them multiple different choices.

I won’t go on too much about the issue, since it isn’t necessarily something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about. It just seems like an interesting topic to broach and potentially get the internet’s opinion on by throwing it out into the aether here.

Besides we had a lot of fun playing it together even when I was getting yelled at for nothING. It probably isn’t the kind of game I would play on my own, but with friends it’s an interesting concept to experience.

Unlike a different game we spent some time playing, Enter the Gungeon. That’s the kind of rogue-like I’m legitimately considered getting for the Switch.

Though I’m conflicted between getting that game or Hollow Knight, which I’ve talked about before.

Either way I think I’ll probably be getting a new game on my Switch at some point this week since I just got a little extra financial security through my SPJ scholarship, I’m just not sure which one.

I suppose if anyone has some suggestions for that, I’d be open to hearing those too!

Perhaps I’ll even throw out a poll on Twitter, see if that gains any traction. I’ve never done that sort of thing before so it might be fun.

We’ll see.

No matter what I’m going to stop rambling and let you all go, because this is getting a little ridiculous for a dumb space filling post. Hope everyone out there had a good weekend!


P.S. — Featured Image courtesy of Metacritic

Music, Muppets and Menorahs

Music, Muppets and Menorahs

Today the Rochlin clan made its way up into the Santa Monica hills for a day trip to the Skirball Cultural Center.

For those of you who aren’t aware (as I wasn’t before our trip today), the Skirball is a Jewish institution opened in 1996 that, frankly, is quite beautiful. Right next to Mulholland Drive and… Well…

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Just look at this patio. There’s plenty of fancy little resting places like this all over the museum.

It’s also, to their credit, very handicap accessible. Which is quite important for us since my dad had foot surgery a while back.

But that’s another story, because I’m clearly not here to talk about my family medical history. I’m here to show off all the cool pictures I got walking around a bunch of different exhibits!

I’m splitting up my slideshows in order of the exhibits we looked at this time around, so that said I hope you enjoy this little look into a place you might not have heard about.


Leonard Bernstein at 100

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I’ll be blunt, I’m not great with names that aren’t in constant circulation through the circles I follow. So off-hand I couldn’t have told you who Leonard Bernstein was despite the apparent long legacy there.

Of course you bring up West Side Story and the New York Philharmonic and it all essentially slides into place. Especially since our family has apparently been on a WSS kick after that play we attended a while back.

Still, Aly would be most disappointed that I don’t know music people super well.

But that’s okay because she’s never beaten a single Pokémon game. #ShadeThrown

Again, besides the point. We’ve got pictures to look at.

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The Jim Henson Exhibition

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Or, as an alternative introductory picture:

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Alright here’s the part we were all here for. Mr. Bernstein was a nice appetizer, but if there was anything that was going to get me out of bed early this morning, it would be Jim Henson.

We all love Jim right? I mean how could we not.

The Muppet Show.

Sesame Street.

The Dark Crystal.

Labyrinth.

Need I say more?

Though it might be partially attributed to all the build-up that led into it, the Henson portion of our day at the museum was definitely the coolest. Not only were there actual puppets (Muppets? Though more than just them) all over the place, there were also behind-the-scenes paraphernalia like scripts and storyboards for different projects.

Those were particularly cool in my opinion.

But don’t just take my word for it, check some of it out for yourself:

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Visions and Values

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Now we move into the Judaism portion of our tour. Over on your left you’ll see a brief history of the experience of my ancestors from ancient times to their transition into America.

This area was the most fleshed out portion of the museum for… Well, obvious reasons.

As a Jewish Cultural Center, this exhibit was the one thing at the Skirball that’s always available to the public while the other pieces rotate out.

Anyone with an eye on history would enjoy walking through the different descriptors of timelines, holidays and culture. However, the thing that stood out most for me was all the artifacts.

I don’t think I’ve seen a larger collection of Torah, Menorah or other household antiquities together in one place. Everything was really pretty — unless it was more of an oddball. Like the Menorah shaped like a cactus.

Yeah that exists.

Check it out, along with other wicked things like an actual full-scale recreation of the Statue of Liberty’s torch arm, here:

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Noah’s Ark

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Now over on your right you’ll see the much less serious portion of our trip through the Hebrew arts.

The Noah’s Ark side of the museum was pretty heavily built-up as well considering it was the one portion that we needed to reserve a time to get into it in advance.

Unfortunately it wound up not actually being an informative, historical look at the story of the flood. No sort of deeper examination into whether actual evidence existed or any sort of intellectual approach of that caliber.

No, Noah’s Ark was a play place for young children.

While it wasn’t exactly a place meant for us to enjoy, there were some pretty cool things about it. All of the animals on the ark were interactive or made of some wacky material that all contributed to a very interesting style overall.

Seriously check out some of these animals. Lord knows a few of them may just be in your nightmares tonight.

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While I had a great time at the Skirball with my family, I’m a little exhausted after doing that museum visit alongside a trip down Mulholland, a stop at Mambos for a Cuban lunch and a half-a-dozen other different things this afternoon.

This would have been up way earlier if not for that… So I’m not going to waste too much time concluding things.

Mostly I wanted to take this last opportunity to point out a couple of funny things we found in the museum’s gift shop. Because yeah the super pretty collectible glass Menorah and Jim Henson puppets that were available all made for lovely gifts. But they’re also way less funny then some of the random novelty goods.

For example, this series of books.

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You know. For when you want to teach your kid how to be a Yiddish dork that throws random words out at their Catholic friends to confuse them.

Or hey if reading isn’t your thing, maybe you’re more into board games. Well in that case, this is the perfect gift for you:

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I love Monopoly, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing really inherently funny about the game itself.

What I think is hilarious is the fact that if you’re playing a Jerusalem-themed Monopoly game, something like the Wailing Wall just HAS to be a location on the board, and I can’t get over the idea of building a hotel on the Wailing Wall and forcing your friends to pay $1,000 just to go pay their respects.

That’s just funny no matter who you are.

But anyway, that’s all I’ve got to say on the matter. Hopefully you enjoyed this little visual tour of the museum with my family.

If you’ve got any fond Jim Henson-based memories, let me know about them in the comments! That sounds just wholesome enough to be fun.

Even if I get that Kermit vine spammed at me. Which I probably deserve.