I’ve been enjoying my “book writing sabbatical” perhaps a little too much. A lot of my novel has gotten done, but there have been plenty of things over the last month I easily could have blogged about.
I was almost completely by myself for three weeks as Mom and Aly went to New York for a summer music program.
I'm putting down Mario Maker 2 so I can focus on writing today, but I've been having such a great time building levels again that I thought it would be fun to share what I've made so far. If you have the game, feel free to check some of them out!
I completely skipped the Three Houses banner in Fire Emblem Heroes.
Normally I’d be writing something for the new Fire Emblem Heroes banner today, but I decided not to for a couple reasons. So here’s the Featured Image you’d see in case you’re feeling blue about my recent lack of blog writing. pic.twitter.com/v1dCw3q05M
Some of these are far better out of context. Trust me.
One thing I don’t fully understand about the collection is how nonsensically ordered it is. Though the individual comics are segmented by focusing on different Pokémon, they don’t proceed through the book in number or alphabetical order.
It seems entirely random, and that’s compounded by the fact that two-part comics can appear pages apart.
There’s a particular comic about Woobat and Yamask that’s referenced more than 50 pages later and has a disclaimer telling readers to go back.
Why not just order the pages to avoid that kind of problem if there’s no sensible ordering scheme in the book?
Though there’s a much more important question buried in these pages.
Why is Throh the only Pokémon with a two-part comic in which he is the named focus on both parts?
The. Only. One.
Why Throh of all Pokémon?
Like I’m glad the collection has cool tidbits and quizzes on the sides of each page where I can learn things…
But I’m not sure I can forgive Santa Harukaze for making me feel this tumultuous about Throh.
So, in summary:
Is it worth reading through every Pokémon Black & White Pocket Comic in an afternoon?
Honestly… Not really.
The world of Unova comics has highs are pretty high, but the lows are very, very low. So much so that I don’t think I’d recommend reading through all of them except that you can only find the true gems that way.
I suppose I’d still recommend the book as something of a coffee table read to put out if you have Pokémon-loving guests. But as a Pokémon fan, I’m not sure I would buy the Kalos edition after this one.
That’s a real downer note to end a Pokémon-related post, so here’s a picture of Alyson ruining my attempt to get a Featured Image.
When the roguelike rhythm-based dungeon crawler was released by Vancouver game studio Brace Yourself Games in 2015, it got a lot of good press for being a unique Indie game that blended disparate genres seamlessly.
I’m not sure why I didn’t try Crypt, so I’ll just say I assumed a lack of rhythm as a suburban white boy.
I showed my sister the #CadenceOfHyrule trailer and she’s begging me to buy it as both a musician and a Zelda fan, but when I looked it turns out the original @NecroDancerGame is on sale for four bucks?
Cadence is a fascinating beast in concept. Nintendo let an Independent studio with a bizarre gameplay hook handle one of their most popular franchises. Hopefully it succeeds and encourages more experimentation!
There’s a good chance it will, because if Zelda is known for anything, it’s solid music. Why not use it in a rhythm-action game?
That’s where Cadence shines brightest: Homaging and using elements from Zelda’s history.
The game’s story is as simple a vehicle as they come. Cadence (the hero from Crypt of the NecroDancer) is transported to Hyrule and must help defeat the wizard Octavio before he puts the world to sleep with musical magic.
That framework is all you need to just run into a world of classic Zelda locations with a new rhythmic twist:
In the 20 hours it took me to beat the final boss and collect every item, I never quite acclimated to running into enemies and avoiding telegraphed attacks on-beat.
There’s only one screen that really requires an expertise in the mechanics, but I’m not sure I’m excited to go back to the original Crypt having heard it’s much harder.
Now to be fair, I like the use of different weapons with different patterns, from three-square wide broadsword slashes to two-square long spear stabs — especially for unique weapons like Zelda’s rapier.
Speaking of, how amazing is it that this is a Legend of Zelda game where you can play a Smash Bros.-inspired Zelda, who utilizes Din’s Fire and Nayru’s Love, for the entire runtime?
Some items like the bow are also solid, but others like the Rito Feather are incredibly underwhelming. Also, why not use the Zelda-staple Roc’s Cape?
But to be completely honest, those complaints are somewhat negligible.
After all, Cadence of Hyrule is a two-player co-operative game.
Being able to fully complete a game with my sister, who is both a musician and a Zelda fan, is an experience I don’t get very often.
And that, alongside the incredible attention to detail, makes Cadence of Hyrule an experience I’ll not soon forget.
Even if I’m still iffy about Crypt of the NecroDancer.
Many years ago, my Mom helped Alyson and I create a special gift for Dad.
We went to Color Me Mine, a chain of shops for the commercial buying and painting of porcelain goods ranging from dinnerware to sculptures of robots and dragons that are put through a kiln on-site.
In my experience it’s a popular suburban activity for kids with vague creative aspirations and too much energy to burn. The Rochlin family has made its fair share of goods there, which is another subject I may have to circle back to one day.
All those years ago, Aly and I made Dad a mug with our little baby handprints on it.
The gift was very well received and used for years. But… That mug in the Featured Image isn’t the original piece.
That first mug actually broke through a heartbreaking turn of events.
So in 2005, we made him a replacement mug:
The 2005 mug continues to be used and has held together relatively well over nearly 15 years.
But now it’s starting to crack.
That mortality was the subject of a recent joke from Dad which got our gears turning. We figured it would be as good a time as any to continue this family tradition by making him a new handprint mug for Father’s Day.
Here we are last Wednesday getting our hands all dirty.
Today we brought the current peak of the Rochlin’s patriarchal totem pole up to my Aunt’s house in West Hills to ring in Father’s Day with some barbecue and time out by the pool.
Let me tell you, there are few things more magical than having some ribs, taking a dip in the pool and swimming alongside a big, beautiful doggo as Grandpa Joe looks on with a smile.
He really seemed to have a good time. Which is great given how hard it can be to tell how the man is feeling sometime.
It’s hard to feel bad when you’re surrounded by family and dogs out by the pool.
Once we brought Grandpa back home I was able to snag this lovely picture of the three generations of Rochlin men together:
It took a bit of work to get Grandpa looking at the camera, but I’d say it was worth it. With this being our first Father’s Day after Grandma Rhea’s passing I’ve been thinking about how important it is to chronicle our time with the old man while we still can.
But of course Father’s Day isn’t only about my father’s father. Grandpa is only thus because I have a father of my own, and Father’s Day is just as much his — even though a lot of our activities were out and about.
This morning my sister and I went out to get Dad coffee and gave him the one gift that isn’t finished until Wednesday.
He vaguely hints on the off-chance something is written about it later.
Then when we came back home, we spent a few hours making him some pasta and pink sauce:
It was delicious, and I’m not just saying that because I made it.
We got his seal of approval. Promise.
So that’s my Father’s Day in a nutshell. Hopefully you had a great one too, or at least made it a good day if you have a more complicated history in that department.
Once more, with feeling: Happy Father’s Day Dad and Grandpa!
I’ve never played a DQ game or Banjo-Kazooie, but I know plenty of people who love those series and I’m happy to see them so happy.
Especially given the love and attention both fighters are getting. The Hero has multiple alternate costumes and a final smash featuring different protagonists from that series, Grant Kirkhope was involved in doing the music for Banjo…
Masahiro Sakurai truly is the king of reviving Nintendo history, and looping in Rare was a great way to include a fighter with die-hard fans who fits in the roster far better than Minecraft Steve or Master Chief.
Look at how hype the Donkey Kong characters are for Banjo and Kazooie
Look I played the first couple Olympic crossover games with my sister and they were decent minigame collections.
But the fact that this series is still going astounds me.
Some of you would probably prefer I put Cadence of Hyrule in this major slot since it looks cool and is only $25 bucks, which definitely entices me to buy the game when it drops this Thursday in spite of never playing Crypt of the Necrodancer.
Breath of the Wild is getting a direct sequel, bringing it in-line with Majora’s Mask and the Wind Waker series. A sequel where Link and Zelda are going to be traveling the ravaged Hyrule together and discover some demented shit.
The trailer was just an “in development” teaser, but they sure did succeed in making it emotionally provocative. I’m curious to find out more… Though a lot of that is based on hype from my friends’ speculations.
Which means I guess I have to go finish Breath of the Wild.
Damn you, Nintendo. Quit monopolizing my time when you’re about to monopolize my time with all these new games!
Those were the big ticket items out of this E3 Direct for me, but there were a lot of smaller things that piqued my interest too.
But this year Jazz Under the Stars was a bit more hectic for the Rochlins, since we were in charge of the silent auction.
I say “we,” but all the credit goes to my Mom and Dad for picking up the project a week or two before the event to help a band program struggling with administrative issues. They rallied together 50 items comprised of even more bundled contributions and stayed up until 5:00 a.m. printing the sign-up sheets and programs.
All I did was help organize the goods and watch the auction tables that I helped set up and tear down.
Oh, and I did some social media stuff while I was at it:
But that’s just the money-side of the event. Naturally there was food: A mobile taco vendor, shaved ice and (my personal favorite) fried twist potatoes.
You’re not here for the food, though. That doesn’t work well over text.
You’re here for the music.
A number of different bands performed throughout the night. The Adams Middle School Band, the Redondo Union High School Jazz Bands (A + B) and combinations of the various bands with alumni.
The final song of the night, “Willowcrest,” was particularly special. It had a god damn bongo solo that actually rocked pretty hard.
But more importantly it featured a flute solo by my little sister.
It was a killer song… And it was very long. Easily six or seven minutes long as jazz tends to do.
I recorded the whole piece for you all to enjoy, including the multi-minute long introduction from Vizcarra and the band bowing at the end. Check it out if you want some smooth jams:
Just before that piece, I recorded the same band’s performance of “Act Your Age” from a totally different angle.
Decided I would try to shake things up with my cinematography.
I got pretty into it after my Dad asked me to be the point man running his Facebook livestream of the event for a while. It was a relatively new experience for me, and even though I think three people were watching at most it was a lot of fun.
Had to take the extra initiative and photograph myself recording the event, because that’s what any good media-focused journalist would do. Right?
Well maybe not, but I wanted to keep record of my own exploits either way.
I had a lot of fun taking in the music and putting my skills to work basically running social media — at least for my family.
Especially because doing so gave me the chance to nab some wonderful candids.
Our YouTube community has reached amazing heights, and I couldn’t be more proud of you all for helping me get to the coveted 1 subscriber milestone.
That’s why I’ve decided to launch a new project.
I’ll be going toe-to-toe with industry greats like the Game Grumps and Markiplier through my brand new gameplay channel: T1meslayer plays.
As you know I’m a huge Nintendo fanatic, so that’s going to be my primary focus. In fact, we’re starting off with one of my favorite titles on the GameBoy Advance. Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones (2004).
To help stand out from my competitors, I’m taking a new approach to YouTube gaming that I like to call “non-chronological let’s plays.”
We’ve all seen the first levels of certain games played a dozen times as new channels start to play, only to collapse under the weight of mediocrity before they get to the end.
I’m going to solve that problem by starting with Episode 5 and then jumping around.
Thanks so much for sticking by me during this turbulent time as I get ready to graduate. Like, comment and subscribe to see what’s coming next!
Alright. Obviously I don’t have a gaming channel.
Sorry to disappoint those of you who might be interested in watching that cringe-fest.
This let’s play video is actually one of the final assignments for my Gaming in American Culture class. We had to essentially parody the YouTube video game scene to try and convey some ideas we’re focusing on in our papers.
It was a nightmare actually putting this together (as one might expect when trying to pull an 18-minute video off of their iPhones to edit on a 10-year-old laptop), but I actually really like how it came out?
Like sure, I’m terrible on camera. And technology was so difficult that I skipped blog writing yesterday. But I cut out dead air and added an editorial commentary track to inject some humor, I think it’s a nice piece.
Nice enough to share publicly, at least.
Yet sharing the video is bittersweet. This is literally my penultimate college assignment. All I have left is the final paper for this same class.
Today was my last day of college ever — and it also happened to be my Gaming in American Culture.
Came in for my last undergraduate class ever @csuf, where I’m watching people talk about video games and sports while eating pizza.
Learned about some interesting things from these presentations. In sports especially, like the existence of pickleball and the beer mile.
The latter of which makes me happy that I don’t drink.
“Bittersweet” is really the best way I can describe my feelings. I’m happy to move onto the next stage in my life, especially since I can share the celebration with my family — particularly my grandparents from Florida, who both flew in together for the first time since my Bar Mitzvah.
Almost 10 years ago. Yikes.
But at the same time I have genuinely enjoyed my time in Academia, and the idea of finding a real job still terrifies me.
You don’t have to worry yourself with that part of my psyche, however. For the next couple days I’ll probably be posting all sorts of positive things on social media to try and convince you all that my life is nothing but wonderful.
Because that’s really what social media is all about, isn’t it?
You might have ended a decade of MCU movies, but Detective Pikachu played to my 20-years of investment in the subjectively best video game series of all time.
My development as a person and writer was kick-started by Mom teaching me to read with the text in Pokémon Crystal. I’ve been waiting for this movie ever since.
So, the objective side of my cinephilia can critique a few key issues. But that doesn’t take away from Rob Letterman giving me the breathing Pokémon society — focusing on more than just prodigal, battling children — that I’ve always wanted.
Detective Pikachu follows accountant Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) as he confronts the death of his mother and resulting alienation of his father after the man goes missing in a utopian city designed for Pokémon to coincide with humans.
He does so with the help of a talking Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds — clearly channeling Deadpool while still grounded in this source material) and aspiring investigative reporter Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton).
To be blunt, Detective Pikachu is bloated with clichés.
It mimics film noir and buddy cop tropes, such as a boy who needs to learn to love again and his amnesiac animal partner. There are also multiple plot points throughout the movie’s two-hour run you’ve seen before:
The shady, experimenting corporation.
The blossoming love between main (human) characters.
The incidents with a substance that causes loss of control (ala Zootopia).
Besides a surprise twist in the third act, the overall situations are well-worn. Yet the actors keep them from feeling stale.
Reynolds made me love the overplayed series mascot I usually scoff at. He’s snarky, heartfelt and delivers some solid (seemingly improvised) jokes.
Reynolds and Smith sell the buddy cop bit, and I liked Smith and Newton’s chemistry as well — especially since their burgeoning romance ended without a dramatic kiss.
Smith carried the movie handily, surprisingly so given my lukewarm reception to Fallen Kingdom. I really enjoyed his character arc and relationship with Pikachu that shined during a heart-to-heart mid-way through the film.
That scene in particular also has a gorgeous shot where Smith’s stoic face during a sad story is betrayed by a tear that makes the neon city lights outline his cheek.
Detective Pikachu had surprisingly pretty cinematography in my opinion, outside of some shots that relied too heavily on shaky dissolves and off-center angles for my taste.
On top of that, I never once felt like the CGI Pokémon were out of place. They always seemed believably real in the living people’s arms.
Granted I might be predisposed to believing in real-life Pokémon because of my history and encyclopedic knowledge with the series. But my sister (who saw the movie with me) is less of a hardcore fan and didn’t report any concerns.
Ironically, I felt like the Pokémon CGI was masterful in-part because a lot of the practical effects were… Real bad? Most of the actors looked like they were slipping around on wires during action scenes.
But for me, that was barely a concern in light of the respect Detective Pikachu shows fans of the series in its overt and subtle references.
Alongside the anime’s theme song, most of the music throughout the film sounded like it could have come from the Sinnoh or Unova region games.
There are dozens of the 800+ Pokémon appearing as live models (both the recognizable Pikachu and less conventional Treeckos or Purrloins) and set-pieces (some favorites being the Latios and Latias stickers in Tom’s room, and a store named after Whismur).
Their appearances are true to established lore as well, with Charizard weakened as someone stomps on its tail flame and Slaking almost exclusively loafing around.
Mewtwo‘s powers are a less traditional example that sticks out, but even that strange treatment plays into an unexpected plot point that I enjoyed. Plus, they nailed the legendary Pokémon’s origin with an interesting new angle.
People who are not a fan of the games or anime may be somewhat lost. It immediately drops audiences in and lets most references quickly fly by. Yet enough is explained for the public to follow its plot, and the movie is funny regardless of pre-existing knowledge.
You might get more out of some jokes if you know Mr. Mime, for instance, but even if you don’t his scenes have some great slapstick with effective sound effects.
Frankly, I’m not sure what else I can say.
I’m obviously biased, but the movie is just as obviously tailored toward fans like me. From that perspective, I wholeheartedly recommend Detective Pikachu from my three-year-old heart and from the highly knowledgeable dork I am today.
But the movie also has enough family-friendly elements and appeal for non-super-fans. Some of the effects aren’t perfect, and the overall package leans on clichés, but the cast and world-building do more than enough to make up for it.
I had a blast seeing this movie with my sister. It’s a master class in video game adaptations — One that’s very much needed in the face of Sonic the Hedgehog and Angry Birds 2.
Go see it, so we can get more live action Pokémon movies. And cards to go with them:
My apologies for the absence this last weekend, oh loyal viewers — wherever the five of you may be.
I took a little time for myself following the Honors Conference (both my panel and a few friend’s panels I attended on Saturday) to focus on the last few assignments I have to complete before the semester is over. Next week.
I’ve also spent a good chunk of the weekend letting the existential dread of realizing that “this week is my last full week of college” drape over me like a heavy blanket.
Seriously, what? That’s not real. Who allowed this?
To be fair, I may go back to school one day and get a Masters or teaching credential so I can be a teacher in my later years. Seems like that would be a cool way to give back after I make a name for myself.
But that’s not really a matter for here and now. I’m mostly just nervous about the incoming inevitability of having no excuses to not go after that name.
But not really, because Amazon isn’t paying me. If anything, I’m paying them — or at least my family is.
I will say the re-listen has been pretty worth it. Not only does the audio book make it easier to reacquaint myself with differences between the written and cinematic versions while doing other work, the act of listening is that much more fun because Wil Wheaton is reading it.
Wheaton’s reading leads to some beautifully meta moments, because he is personally mentioned in the story.
For instance, Wade Watts (the story’s protagonist) talks about Wheaton as a great representative of user interests on an elected council in the virtual reality world of the OASIS.
He says those lines without a shred of irony or winking to the audience, and it’s great.
But yeah… That has basically been my life. Everything y’all missed over the last couple days, other than helping a few friends through their own stressful life situations and watching Kill Bill with my family. Alyson had never seen it, and we needed to rectify that.
I know it’s a hot take for me to say it, but that movie is genuinely still incredible. A visual splendor.
If you need a little stress relief, like I have with all this impending graduation fatigue, go watch yourself some Tarantino. Or play a little Don’t Starve.