Tag: Christmas

Souls sold to the mouse

Souls sold to the mouse

Anyone who follows my general social media feeds should know that I went to Downtown Disney with my Mom and sister today.

It was nice to get out of the house for a serious outing for the first time in at least a week, outside of that night where we went to dinner in Santa Monica. Not sure I’d count that as being a serious outing in the same vein as going to Disney, particularly the day after Christmas.

While I’m not exactly sure whether that proximate timing to the holidays is responsible for this portion of the experience, it was interesting to see a new metal detector/bag check station outside the entrance to Downtown Disney:

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Maybe it isn’t new and I just haven’t been there in a while. But either way a bit of the magic goes away when you have to think about the necessity of this sort of thing so early into the experience.

Luckily that magic is more than made up for by the wonders of Disney-branded capitalism. Everyone’s favorite kind!

My family was over in Anaheim looking into a present for my sister’s birthday tomorrow. After watching Wreck-It Ralph 2 a second time, she decided she needed one of the Disney Princess pajama shirts — particularly Tiana’s New Orleans’ themed shirt.

Obviously the best place to look for that sort of thing was the source, the Mickey Mouse clubhouse of infinite profit.

To make an extra long story short, we didn’t wind up getting that shirt. We also didn’t get the equivalent hoodie sweatshirt version.

Instead we spent a little more time at different stores around Downtown Disney. Like the LEGO store, which I have to admit becomes less fun the older I get simply because of how much more expensivethe sets get.

Also because they had this model of the LEGO store as a display within the store and it was 2 meta 4 me.

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It is cute, though.

While we were in that store I also made what I’m progressively considering to be a mistake by taking part in this ‘which LEGO mini figure are you?’ display:

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Don’t get me wrong, it’s a sweet little idea. You stand in front of the board, put your hand on the scanner and it gives you a (presumably) random figure. I can only assume the display is meant for a far younger age demographic because of how low it was to the ground.

But still I thought it could be fun. Found out that I am apparently a Buckingham Palace guard LEGO man.

The only issue is, now I’m 100 percent convinced that all of my privacy is officially gone. I’ve given up my fingerprints to the mouse.

If he didn’t already have them from when my Dad worked for Disney I suppose.

Thus I figured I had nothing left to lose. So we had lunch, then went back to the painting shop that we wandered upon first arriving. Our initial time through was the progenitor of this Tweet:

It was a funny ha-ha joke, but at the same time I was super serious. This painting strangely enticed me when we saw it.

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I guess it isn’t really that strange. Look at the thing, it’s god damn beautiful.

Gotta give a shout out to the artist, Brittney Lee, who works at the animation studio. Because you definitely made a fan of me today.

As well as a fan of my sister, who bought a print of hers featuring swing dancers with dresses based on different areas of the park.

But wouldn’t you know, she got lucky because it was her birthday and bought the ~$45 full-size print. I wasn’t quite as willing to dump $500 on the fully-framed painting.

Instead I got the post card version and bragged about it in a follow-up Tweet.

My friend Juan made fun of me for still supporting the mouse in spite of the fact that I was making taunting about not supporting him…

Which is true.

But.

Uhh…

I still really like this piece so I was willing. They already had my fingerprints, so why not?

Turns out my nostalgia totally can get gouged for all it’s worth.

That seems like as good a message to end this off with as any. No matter how strong you believe your spirit to be, always know that Mickey Mouse can and will find a way to pierce deep into the heart of your desires.

Merry day after Christmas, America.

A Christmas cinematic double feature: Mary Poppins and The Grinch

A Christmas cinematic double feature: Mary Poppins and The Grinch

Yesterday I mentioned something about saving my “grumpy about Christmas” post for today. But I’ve decided not to bah humbug it up.

It helps that I slept most of the day drugged up on advil and dayquil, so I’m a bit more chill.

Instead, I figured why not talk about movies?

After all, there’s nothing open over Christmas, so my family has had a lot of time to watch movies while I’ve laid about in a sickened stupor. Tonight I wanted to feature what I’d consider the double feature of “movies that are reboots of older things that nobody asked for and shouldn’t exist.”

Starting with the sort-of sequel to the 1964 Disney classic, “Mary Poppins,” and followed up with the Illumination take on Dr. Seuss’s classic, “The Grinch.”


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Image courtesy of IMDb

So right off the bat, I think it’s fair to let you all know that I don’t have a hugely nostalgic connection to the original Mary Poppins. I’ve watched it and had the songs engrained in my head, but I didn’t walk into this pseudo-sequel with any inflated expectations.

That being said, I still fully appreciate the original for what was so groundbreaking about it. “Mary Poppins Returns” seems to appreciate it too, but to a fault.

The reason I keep calling the movie a “sequel” conditionally is because this movie essentially isn’t.

Yes, it takes place a few dozen years later and follows the exploits of the children from the first movie, now with families of their own. But the actual content of the movie is essentially just the original with a new coat of paint.

I’m not kidding. All of the musical numbers, from one set in a fantastical 2D world to one featuring the lamp lighters (a proxy for the original chimney sweepers) happened in just about the same sequence.

It even features all the same overarching messages about family and the importance of childhood wonder.

So really, think about “Mary Poppins Returns” as a reboot more than it is a sequel and certain elements about it become much better. But there are also elements that become far worse.

In the prior category: The visuals. All of the magical sequences and music numbers are gorgeous and well-composed. Most of them take on a similar style to their original counterparts and feel classic with updates to not be 50 years outdated.

Special props go to the portion of the film where Mary takes the Banks children into a porcelain bowl. There are little touches like everyone’s feet clinking while they walk that makes the whole sequence outstanding.

On top of that, I’d say that Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda do pretty good jobs fitting the large shoes left behind by Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke.

Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t give them a whole lot to work with.

My problems: Nothing outside of the visuals are memorable. There isn’t a single song I remembered, which is a shame considering how timeless and integral pieces like “Spoonful of Sugar” were to the original’s longevity.

It also falters from being a “sequel” that basically isn’t. There’s no exposition when Mary Poppins arrives, as it seems assumed that the audience has seen the original. She shows up, the parents remark that they remember her but don’t believe she was actually magic and then simply let her come in and bath their children.

It’s honestly that quick, which makes it clear the movie wanted to get to the whimsey without any of the groundwork.

A more nitpick-y personal gripe is that the movie is very inconstant with its rules. For instance, the parents remark on their disbelief of her magic but do not broach into the issue of her looking exactly the same outside of a quick joke.

Also, when Mary remarks that adults always forget the youthful joy of her magic, that’s quickly contradicted by the appearance of Miranda’s character — apparently one of the child chimney sweeps from the original — who happens to remember her.

I don’t want to harp on it too long at risk of sounding like someone leveling deeply analytical complaints at a children’s movie, but because of the lack of memorable songs and rehashed plot I was so bored by the middle of the film that I couldn’t help but nitpick it.

If you’re looking for a very pretty movie to park your kids in front of (or you adore the original), you’ll get a lot out of Mary Poppins Returns as a visual spectacle.

Outside of that, however, there isn’t a ton there that isn’t done better in the original. I’d say it’s average at best, and I likely won’t remember much of it next month.


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Image courtesy of IMDb

Unlike Mary Poppins, I would count myself as an invested Grinch fan thanks to the wonderful 1966 Chuck Jones and Boris Karloff “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” It’s a true family classic that’s near perfect.

In contemporary cinematography, the Grinch has had a rougher time.

So with Illumination taking the helm of a second reboot in what I guess can be called the Dr. Seuss’s Grinch franchise, I was cautiously optimistic. I do like other movies of theirs like “Sing,” but bemoaned the possibility of it being very out-of-touch.

Having seen the movie now, I can pretty easily say it’s somewhere in the middle.

Outside of an unnerving character design for the titular character (those human-like pearly whites never sat well with me), “The Grinch” is a gorgeous movie. The environments especially, with a mix of Seussian winter wonderlands and more modern, opulent town settings.

However, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t cringe almost immediately hearing the rap version of the 1966 Grinch song. The soundtrack was probably the worst part of the movie if you ask me.

Either there was unfitting rap, too many modern day Christmas tunes that made me question just how human the Whos were in this universe, or a few strangely Jesus-heavy songs that made me question whether the Whos had a religious part of their Christmas traditions.

Are there Jewish Whos, in that case?

Outside of musical choices, the rest of the movie was handled was better than I had expected. The hour-and-a-half runtime mostly went quick. Pharrell Williams as the Narrator was… Okay. As was Benedict Cumberbatch as the Grinch.

I actually quite liked the way they handled his interactions with Max. Most of the best scenes in the movie were between the two of them, as it gave a lot of background to why they’re such good friends. More than the 1966 version, in a good way. Ties into the whole family narrative.

I’ll give Illumination props for it.

They also give Cindy-Lou Who a much larger role in the story, which is an idea I appreciate considering she is the crux that changes Grinch’s mind.

However in execution she’s pretty much every ‘I want to catch Santa’ cliché you’ve ever seen, has a design that was uncomfortably close to Edith from “Despicable Me” and has a ‘quirky’ character trait of carrying around a hockey stick for whatever reason.

The way her storyline intersects with The Grinch is predictable, but for a kids movie she serves her purpose well enough.

All-and-all, I’d say “The Grinch” 2018 was fun and well animated. Pretty good for what it was, even if parts of the set dressing were strange and uncomfortable for my tastes.

Though maybe I’m just too old and yelling at the kids on my lawn for their rap musics while lauding the original through rose-colored glasses.

That being said, I think the 1966 version and even (I shutter to admit) the Jim Carrey version did get something right which was almost detrimentally wrong with Illumination’s version.

You know how earlier I mentioned appreciating how cute the stuff between The Grinch and Max were? I do think it’s a nice touch, but it’s emblematic of the fact that the main character is made a little TOO cute, sympathetic and ‘relatable.’ The movie leans hard into his tragic backstory as justification for him acting like a jerk when in all honesty he’s probably the funniest, cutest Grinch we’ve ever seen.

But maybe that’s just a personal problem for me. After all, who am I to argue with a fun-loving misunderstood cool guy of a Grinch who uses lots of sweet gadgets in an (admittedly pretty great) Christmas-stealing montage.

It’s definitely not the worst version of the story you could show off.

Jim Carrey took that prize years ago.


Featured image courtesy of Thomas’s Pics via Wikimedia Commons

Holly Jolly Heroes

Holly Jolly Heroes

Boy it sure does feel like I was covering the start of Book III just yesterday, doesn’t it? Glad to see Intelligent Systems isn’t slowing down with these new units.

Luckily today we just have a smaller holiday-themed banner, which makes it a quick distraction from my finals. Which, by the way, is why I’m not getting this out earlier. Had my Sensation and Perception exam at 12 p.m.

It was kind of a mess, but that’s a story for another day.

I’d much rather talk about this banner right now, as it involves my favorite Fire Emblem game! Especially since the units fill some interesting niches.


FaeHoliday Dear

  • Glittering Breath (Might = 14, Range = 1)
    • During combat, boosts unit’s Defense and Resistance by the number of allies within two spaces x 2 (max bonus of +6). If foe’s range = 2, calculates damage using the lower of the foe’s Defense or Resistance.
  • Luna (Cooldown = 3)
    • Treats foe’s Defense and Resistance as if reduced by 50 percent during combat.
  • Defense/Resistance Bond (A Skill)
    • If unit is adjacent to an ally, grants Defense and Resistance +5 during combat.
  • Vengeful Fighter (B Skill)
    • If unit’s Health ≥ 50 percent and foe initiates combat, grants Special Attack cooldown charge +1 per unit’s attack, and unit makes a guaranteed follow-up attack (does not stack).
  • Armor March (C Skill)
    • At the start of the turn, if unit is adjacent to an armored ally, unit and adjacent armored allies can move one extra space (this turn only, does not stack).

EphraimSparkling Gallantly

  • Festive Siegmund (Might = 16, Range = 1)
    • Accelerates Special Attack trigger (cooldown count -1). If unit is not adjacent to an ally, grants Attack, Speed, Defense and Resistance +4 during combat.
  • Dragon Fang (Cooldown = 4)
    • Boosts damage by 50 percent of unit’s Attack.
  • Attack/Defense Solo (A Skill)
    • If unit is not adjacent to an ally, grants Attack and Defense +6 during combat.
  • Bold Fighter (B Skill)
    • If unit initiates combat, grants Special Attack cooldown charge +1 per unit’s attack, and unit makes a guaranteed follow-up attack (does not stack).
  • Close Guard (C Skill)
    • Allies within two spaces gain: “If foe uses sword, lance, axe or dragonstone, grants Defense and Resistance +4 during combat.”

EirikaGentle as Snow

  • Joyous Lantern (Might = 12, Range = 2)
    • At start of turn, grants Defense and Resistance +5 to ally with the highest Attack for one turn (excluding this unit).
  • Restore (Range = 1)
    • Restores Health = 50 percent of Attack (min of 8 Health). Neutralizes ally’s penalties and negative status effects that last through ally’s next action.
  • Heavenly Light (Cooldown = 2)
    • When healing an ally with a staff, restores 10 Health to all allies.
  • Dazzling Staff (B Skill)
    • Foe cannot counterattack.
  • Attack Opening (C Skill)
    • At the start of the turn, grants Attack +6 to ally with the highest Attack for one turn (excluding this unit).

If I haven’t made it obvious before, I don’t celebrate Christmas. So it’s not exactly a time where I get super hyped up on holiday spirit. Thus, events in games that I play are usually my major connections to said spirit.

Everyone loves themselves some holiday variants, after all. Last year’s Christmas banner introduced a bunch of skills that changed the game by making armor units truly powerful.

This year… Not so much. But as a forever fan of the Sacred Stones I do love seeing Eirika and Ephraim. Hopefully between their appearance this Christmas, Tana and Ephraim showing up over the summer and Myrrh on Halloween we’re gearing up for new characters soon!

In terms of what the new variants bring to the table, Ephraim retains his solo warrior schtick, though it takes on an interesting light when applied to an armor unit.

Eirika stands out as being our first healing armored unit, and she’s an especially interesting support because of how she buffs your most powerful teammate.

Fae… Isn’t quite as important to me. I haven’t played the game she’s from and we already have male Grima as a green armored dragon.

So obviously two units were on my radar here, and as far as my luck has taken me so far:

I already got my boi! Plus an extra copy of Morgan, who has some nice skills to give away.

I also summoned a duplicate five-star Nanna, which is neat even if she stole Eirika’s thunder.

What makes this holiday banner particularly interesting is that it not last for a month, but we also have access to last year’s banner for the same amount of time!

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Definitely going after Tharja again once I have Eirika.

But wait, that’s not all! Intelligent Systems has tripled the Christmas cheer by also starting the Tempest Trial right away:

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Between Ephraim and my Lissa from last year, I’ve got this in the bag.

All the more orbs for me to use alongside these Paralogue rewards.


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For the most part, this Paralogue offers a standard story with a few moments of humor that stand out decently well.

As usual the Order of Heroes has decided to take part in a yearly festival so they can bolster their supplies. But this time they have true opponents:

Fjorm and her sister Ylgr confirm that the Nifl units have not disappeared into the aether thanks to the start of Book III. I just hope they’ll make an appearance in the main story as well!

The Order first encounters a particularly bossy Fae.

Then they find Ephraim and Cecilia having an interesting conversation remarking on one another’s renown in legends. It’s similar to his conversations with Hector from the Brave banner, except this time he asks if she would be willing to instruct him in the art of magic.

To which she replies:

And totally tears him down. It’s actually kind of hilarious watching Ephraim fall apart when he’s suddenly told that there’s no hope for him learning a new fighting style.

Of course that’s all set dressing, as the Order shows up and hands them a big, steaming L.

When they retread and join the others, your squad easily beats them once more to receive all the big holiday prizes. Though I can’t imagine all of these contest holders are happy with the Order coming in and winning every single one…

But hey, turns out Nifl was fighting against you in the contest. So Ylgr gives you a bit of guilt:

Which leads to Sharena giving them all of the gifts. It’s frankly the least they can do for a nation that was completely ravaged not that long ago.

Once the Nifl princesses leave, there’s an extended portion of the epilogue where Anna finds out that Sharena still believes in this realm’s version of Santa Claus because Alfonse never told her he wasn’t real.

For a subject that might have just been a fun little aside, this gag goes on for way too long in-game.

So I’m not going to offer it near as much screen time. Play the game if you want to see more!


And with that, more virtual holidays have come and gone. This season’s bounty is truly worth the orb splurge in my opinion… Though in just a week or two we’ll be getting the New Year’s banner as well.

So hey, summon with your own discretion.

Let me know what you think of these new holiday units, and who you want to see get a seasonal alt next in the comments below!

A change of scenery

When I wasn’t playing Smash Bros., I’ve spent the last two days trying to get a jump on the last four pieces of my fall 2018 commitments. Namely the last essay for my Evolution and Creation class.

Granted, the process of buckling down and focusing has been made slightly more difficult by the constant Discord reminders that most of my friends are officially off because of different schedules… But hey, that’s what distractions and isolation are for.

Particularly distractions and isolation with regards to the headline of this blog post: Changes of scenery.

Don’t you love how masterfully I tie in these themes and draw attention to them for extra padding and lampshading?

My change of scenery for the day came early this morning when Mom asked me to come out to Lakewood with her. While Aly went to school, we brought some of her musical instruments to their usual shop for repairs and upkeep.

After that we hung around at a local Starbucks; a nice, quiet little spot to work on homework.

But also with at least a little bit of Smash Bros. because… Yeah it’s addictive.

I actually just unlocked every character for normal Smash battles and am well on my way to completing the World of Light adventure mode. It’s a blast, even if it came at a very inopportune time.

Anyway though, sitting around Starbucks was productive to an extent. Yet the most interesting part of being there was this Christmas-themed decoration:

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Look at this thing. It’s kind of gaudy and over-the-top, but also aesthetically pleasing in a way that I can understand why it was made.

The coffee cup tree is just trite and inoffensive overall, but the reason I wanted to point it out was because I found it hilarious to see such a blatantly Christ-centric symbol used as decor here when just a few years ago the world lost its shit due to red cups.

The wishy-washy nature of Internet-era overreaction is truly a sight to behold, is it not?

That being said, because my time in relative isolation these last two days has offered me the chance to get a sizable jump on this essay I previously believed was going to be a nightmare, I figured I should talk a little bit about it.

Seems like the least I can do in all fairness after shoving the fruits of my research on the Visual Comm essay down your throats too.

This essay is about Deism, the religious school of thought that considers a God having created the universe only to step back and let everything run on its own accord. It was popular during the Enlightenment especially, and caught my interest handily during my time in AP European History back during Sophomore year of high school.

As a result I decided to focus my research paper on it. Though this specifically dives into contemporary thoughts on the religion post-evolution emerging as a result of good old Chuck Darwin.

One source I discovered talking about Deism in relation to a post-evolutionary “modern setting” (being 1898) had such a fantastic little tidbit that I figured it would be worth dedicating at least half of a blog post to it.

For context: In a journal called The North American Review, an auspicious Walton W. Battershall submitted a short piece as comment to an earlier story published. His comment was about “The Efficacy of Prayer in the Light of Evolution.”

The important aspects of the writing to pull for my paper were his discussions of prayer being a placebo of sorts. Something that provides a positive benefit to the praying individual just because of the possibility that it might receive a response from God, even if it likely wouldn’t. He goes on to undress Deism for distancing God to the point of making that possibility totally unattainable, but you can read the whole thing here if you want.

The important aspects of the writing to pull for this blog post is a line I’ll leave completely out of context just for the sake of how incredible a piece of prose it is.

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Just the thought of this clearly reverent man talking about God’s pitiful, throbbing ‘Fatherhood’ is so hilariously phallic that it made my night when I found it yesterday.

So much so that I felt compelled to share it with the world. Good old 1898.

That’s about all I’ve got for you today, as I’ve got to get back to finishing that essay. Only short breaks for blog writing allowed in the Rochlin house this weekend.

Luckily, after this weekend is three days of finals followed by freedom. Boy is that freedom going to be… Smashing.

Because puns.

On the first night…

On the first night…

It has been brought to my attention that I was lied to by my mom and last night was not, in fact, the first night of Hanukkah. Tonight is.

I know I’m at least partially at fault for not fact checking myself… But I’ve gotten permission to blame her for it.

So if you’re in the future reading this, confused as to why I didn’t know when the actual date of Hanukkah was in 2018.

That’s why.


Happy Hanukkah everybody!

That’s right, as of sunset today, the Jewish festival of lights began. Because we’re on a lunar calendar in the calculation of hebrew holiday placement, the big events tend to fall out at different times every year.

This year it just so happened that our closest equivalent to Christmas fell out about a month before Christmas. Or as we in the Rochlin house like to call it: Two days before Alyson’s birthday.

Yeah… She got a bit shafted in that department as far as the availability of her non-Jewish friends goes for parties every year. But hey, at least we don’t have to worry about buying her presents twice-over in the same time period.

At least some years we don’t. Like this year, for instance.

Now I’m a bit tired and sore after helping a friend move some boxes today, so I don’t think I’m going to write anything too prolific. It’ll give me some more time to work on this essay — which, by the way, is the same one I talked about doing my FDA research on the other day and am continuing to have a blast with. I’ll definitely have to do another post on it sometime soon.

But for now, if you want some more Hanukkah-based content, you can take a look at this post I wrote about getting a chunk of presents early this year.

Tonight I got the rest of everything, since we gave up on the eight nights of presents thing a long time ago. The haul expanded to include a new set of Cards Against Humanity cards, a lovely check from my grandparents in Florida (who I’ll thank here as well as over-the-phone soon!) and..

Wait. What’s this?

It can’t be.

It’s…

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We’ve got new Pokémon! This is not a drill.

And I definitely did not know about it ahead of time from being in the store when we purchased the game.

Totally.

If you see a lot of posts coming out of my Twitter account in particular talking about all of my new Pokémon adventures in the near future, now you know why.

I’m thinking I’ll treat this installment specially. It has the capacity for two-player games, so I’ve considered trying to only play the game with my sister so we can have the experience together.

Whether or not I break that rule as I get too excited to play the game is a bridge I’ll have to cross when I get to it.

But that being said, hopefully you all have a great Hanukkah — even if you don’t celebrate!

I’m going to go off and spend some time with my family for the holiday.

And rest my back a bit.


Featured Image courtesy of Adiel lo via Wikimedia Commons

Deltarune is delightful

Deltarune is delightful

I’m a few weeks late to this particular craze, but after staying up until 2:00 a.m. finally finishing the first chapter of Deltarune I have an unbridled desire to gush about everything.

That’s probably going to involve a number of spoilers for an experience that I truly believe everyone should have for themselves. Because of that I’ll aim to be as vague as possible, but even so you might not want to read this quite yet if you haven’t played the game yourself.

Here’s what I can offer as a general teaser introduction.

Deltarune is the follow-up to indie game developer and chip tune musical genius Tobyfox‘s now-famed 2015 RPG Undertale — That one where nobody has to die. It’s available on just about every gaming platform imaginable, so if you haven’t dived into this universe at all you should.

The newest game, released just a few weeks ago, takes a somewhat different spin on the kill-or-spare game mecahnic from Undertale. It allows you to follow Kris, a human living in a world of monsters, as he deals with the day-to-day trials and tribulations of school.

Until certain events leave him and the local bully, Susie, taking on an adventure to save the world.

I know that’s pretty vague and somewhat derivative, but it’s nowhere near as dull as I made it sound.

Please just play the game if you haven’t.

Trust me when I say it’s all worth experiencing as blindly as possible. As a result, the rest of my discussion is going to go on under the spoiler-laden read more line here.

Hope you’ve enjoyed me rambling in vague generalities if this is as far as you’ll go. Just come back and  let me know when you’ve gone through the experience for yourself!

Continue reading “Deltarune is delightful”

My (obligatory) Top 10 Games of 2017 List

My (obligatory) Top 10 Games of 2017 List

A merry Christmas to all of you out there that are taking a break from your families on this most Yule of evenings and have decided, for one reason or another, to spend some time reading this silly, clichéd offering of mine.

That’s right, as the title above suggests, I’ve decided to throw my hat in the ring with a top 10 list of my favorite games that I played this year. It’s been done to death by anyone with an interest in anything… But what can I say. I’ve always enjoyed the idea and wanted to try it myself.

As I don’t celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah ended a couple days ago, I’m just going to be hanging around all day today more or less. I figured doing a list like this could also double as my ‘here are some good gifts for the holiday season’ suggestions. A little late? Perhaps. But I like to think it’s just well-timed enough.

As a couple of forewarnings before we get into things. Just remember that this is my own personal list of favorites. In other words, it’s an opinionated list, so if you don’t agree with me… Well, that’s your opinion. I respect that you have your opinions so long as you respect that I have mine.

On top of that, while it has been an objectively great year for games in general, it has unfortunately not been a wonderful year of gaming for me. Because of the work constraints I’ve had as a college newspaper editor, a full-time student and an intern, there hasn’t been nearly as much time to play games as I would have liked.

So, if anything, these 10 games I’m listing off are arguably the only 10 games I’ve spent any considerable time actually playing this year.

If you don’t see a game you really liked this year, that’s probably why. As a matter of fact, unless you’re a Nintendo junkie like me, you probably won’t see a lot of games you’re familiar with on this list. A Switch and 3DS are my main gaming systems right now, so there aren’t a lot (if any) PS4 or Xbox games in my playing field.

With all that out of the way, let’s jump into the reason we’re all really here than, shall we? After all, what would a games list be without the games?



Editor’s Note: For anyone reading this on my blog proper, I’m going to stick the content under a read more tag. I pretty much let it all out with this one, so it’s long and I don’t want to completely bog everything else down.

Even so, I hope everyone enjoys the show! #UnintendedRhyme



Continue reading “My (obligatory) Top 10 Games of 2017 List”

Early-onset Christmas Cheer and Holiday Heroes

Early-onset Christmas Cheer and Holiday Heroes

Christmas time is here. Gather your friends near. That’s how the song goes, isn’t that right?

We may not be at Christmas just yet, but certainly the celebrations leading up to the much-beloved holiday have begun. Personally, I don’t celebrate Christmas. I come from a hebrew background, so I celebrate Hanukkah, which is something probably anyone can tell from some of my recent attempts to be more active on social media.

Shout out to my sister being cute in this actually good photo I took for once.

That said, even if Christmas isn’t my forte, one thing I’ve always appreciated about the season is the extensive effort everyone goes to so extra things can be given away to celebrate the holiday. For me, that means video games especially.

So, in case you couldn’t tell by the featured image here, of course the subject I’m here to talk about today is Fire Emblem Heroes. We can’t go a holiday without a special summoning banner coming out of the woodwork, after all.

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As always, it seems like Fire Emblem Awakening is getting the love this go-around. At least we aren’t seeing Lucina for once. I love her to death, don’t get me wrong, but boy is she over-saturated in this game’s special character roster.

Interestingly enough, every unit on this holiday banner is an armored unit. Why they decided to choose the winter/Christmas heroes to give a buff to armored teams is beyond me, but I can’t say I’m entirely against the idea. It’s kind of cool actually, even if one unit doesn’t exactly fit the armored look. But I’ll get to that.

Also, ‘cool.’ Not an intentional pun, but it’s there.

  • LissaPure Joy
    • To be blunt about it, right off the bat Lissa is the character I care about getting the most in this banner. Not so much aesthetically, because even though I do enjoy Lissa as a character she’s not necessarily my favorite girl from Awakening. Though her special Christmas clothes covering the armored skirt cage is a nice touch, I’ll admit. My interest comes mostly from a skills perspective. I’ve been paying more attention to skills and building my units up lately, so having a powerful looking unit is an attractive thing right now. Lissa comes packed with a new axe weapon called the Handbell, which grants her a +2 buff to all stats if she’s attacked by an enemy unit. Her special attack is Bonfire, which boosts damage based on the opponent’s defense stat, and she has Fortify Armor to grant a +6 defense and resistance buff to other armored units. She also comes with a new skill called Bold Fighter, which ensures she gets a follow-up attack if she attacks at the cost of a +1 charge to her special attack. All-and-all she sounds like a unit with a balanced powerful attack phase and defense phase, and I like it.
  • ChromGifted Leader
    • So first things first, Chrom gets some bonus points on a number of fronts. His name pun is pretty good, he pulls off the Santa look well with his bag of toys, and every time I hear him say “Lissa made me wear this” in the trailer that introduced these heroes, I get a nice chuckle out of it. That said, Chrom also looks like a powerful unit but from a more high-risk, high-reward standing. His Sack o’ Gifts weapon offers the same benefit that Lissa’s Handbell does, and he comes with the passive movement skill Pivot that armored units benefit from nicely, as well as Wary Fighter to prevent follow-up attacks if he has more than 50 percent health. However, both the interesting and detrimental point of contention when it comes to Chrom here is his new skill, Brazen Atk/Def. With it, he gains +7 attack and defense during combat when at 80 percent health or below. That’s an insane boost and frankly makes him sound like a physical powerhouse to an extent, but the catch is he has to have lowered health to make use of the ability. Plus, it kind of conflicts with Wary Fighter, making it so Chrom has a strange sweet spot between 50 percent and 80 percent health to have the most combat effectiveness. It’s weird, but given that he and Lissa are both in the green unit pool, I wouldn’t be opposed to get either or.
  • RobinFestive Tactician
    • Robin is also fairly pleasing aesthetically, as the change to make his Grandmaster robes into a Santa outfit fits really well. It’s just also, frankly, a little ridiculous to me that he’s going to spend his time running around trying to stab people with a Christmas tree lance. Skill-wise he’s also sort of an interesting case. His Tannenboom! lance has the same effect as the previous two weapons, and his new skill Brazen Atk/Spd offers the same +7 boost below 80 percent health that Chrom’s does, only to attack and speed rather than attack and defense, obviously. His passive Reciprocal Aid is a bit of a throw-away in my opinion, but he does come with the skill Armor March that makes all armored units have extra movement potential at the start of each turn, which is pretty awesome. Overall he seems like the unit that would require the most skill inheritance to make especially useful, but with his Brazen skill, Robin could turn out to be a hell of an armored powerhouse in the end.
  • Tharja“Normal Girl”
    • Alright… Let’s be honest. Everyone saw Tharja pop up the first time and flipped their shit. It’s about as bait-y a porn bait I’ve ever seen, and that’s saying something considering how much I thought Rhajat was porn bait in the last big banner. Just… Skimpy bra/panties, thigh high boots, a cape and reindeer antlers. I’m not going to say I’m complaining or anything, but it’s definitely a hell of a stretch to consider her an armored unit. Oh, who am I kidding, Tharja was my favorite back in Awakening, I can’t stay mad at her for long. Especially when she’s still all about making herself better for Robin. Plus, she comes with four skills, so who can complain about that? Her red tome, the Candelabra (for some reason?) has the same bonus to it that every other weapon in this banner has. However, it’s made extra useful by the inclusion of Close Combat. Thus, she can attack from any distance, and she’ll probably have the bulk of an armored unit to make use of that kind of ability. Tharja also comes with Iceberg as a special attack to boost damage based on her opponent’s resistance and she comes with a new skill called Vengeful Fighter that allows her to automatically have a follow-up attack if she’s got more than 50 percent health and is attacked – at the cost of a +1 special attack charge. Her last skill, Red Tome Valor, grants all other red tome users x2 SP at the end of a battle, which is good for training but not much else, unfortunately. I’d argue she’s my second favorite unit here next to Lissa, so the girl’s are my goal this time around.

Personally, while I have some high hopes for a couple of the units added in here, I’m mostly just hoping things don’t turn out as screwy for me as they did for the Fates children banner. THAT turned out to be a nightmare.

Got up to 5 percent chance before finally pulling any five star unit, which was god damn ridiculous. Luckily the unit I pulled was Soleil, who was just about the only one I wanted,  but it really felt like it wasn’t worth all of the effort and orbs I had to burn getting there.

Spent some money on the game for the first time in a long time, just because I was getting frustrated and didn’t want to waste the increased opportunity. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to support this game once in a while because it has been so fun while being free, but I wish I didn’t feel so forced to do it for a dumb random situation.

Anyway… That’s enough bitching for one moment. Let’s get into the story coming alongside this banner, shall we?


As usual for a holiday-themed update, this time around we’ve gotten a three-part Paralogue focused on the Order of Heroes going to join in a themed tournament. It’s kind of a really common theme in Fire Emblem apparently… For some reason.

Yeah… I’m kind of with Sharena on this one, actually. It’s a strangely dark backstory for something like this. But hey, the tournament aspect of things has to make for a better tie-in somehow, right?

Mmm… No it’s still kind of weird. I don’t know, I’m not much of a Christmas person like I said, but this still seems really dark and strange for something in this vein.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing bad about a dark Christmas story once in a while, but especially out of Nintendo property I would expect something a bit more upbeat. Cheery, even. Maybe that’s the Intelligent Systems vibe coming through.

Eh, oh well. If nothing else it’s just an excuse to get 12 extra orbs, right? Either way, from there things basically progress from there as would be expected.

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The snowy village maps are actually really pretty in this Paralogue. I always love the specially designed maps, like for the special character events and those they use at the end of Tempest Trial runs.

The only thing that’s kind of off-putting, in my opinion, is the battle background on the 16-1 map.

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Like it’s beautiful, don’t get me wrong… But the window to the right of Chrom kind of reminds me of a window display you might see at a Macy’s, or something along those lines.

Just the idea of there being some sort of a large capitalist shopping conglomerate in a Fire Emblem game feels really weird to me, even if it’s just in my own head.

But I digress.

Really the first map sets everything up, but Lissa and Chrom don’t have too much to say outside of their intent to get presents for the Shepherds through this tournament.

However, once you get to Robin and Tharja in the second map, things are infinitely better.

As a concession of bias, Robin and Tharja remain one of my absolute favorite pairings from the days of Fire Emblem Awakening. So I’m pre-disposed to enjoy just about any interaction between the two.

But like it’s honestly so god damn adorable that Tharja is spending her time trying to act normal and enjoying time with Robin while he stays characteristically focused on the mission at hand.

A point which I feel is rather ironically juxtaposed by Robin’s sprite, which makes it look like he’s holding his arms up in a ‘whoa don’t look at me, I’m not responsible for this’ kind of way. All-and-all it’s just a wonderful visual.

Back in the days when I actually had free time to do silly things like character roleplaying on a frequent basis, I would’ve probably loved to do situations in this scenario. I love them that much.

Even when you win and Tharja gets a little terrifying again.

Once you beat them, however, you move onto the final fight with all four Christmas knights:

And… Well, to be completely blunt about it… This fight was uproariously easy for me. On all three difficulty levels.

In fact, all the maps were really easy for me. They pretty much all used only armored units, and I just recently built up my Eirika as an armor killer for the Amelia & Tana Bound Hero Battle.

It was pretty simple to make use of her for another couple rounds, and I got all the orbs on pretty much one go.

Granted, I didn’t get anything with my orbs besides a duplicate five star Minerva for some reason… But beggars can’t be choosers I suppose. There’s another two weeks for me to get my hands on a special hero.

Once you win there’s sort of a weird epilogue where the Order thinks they lost the sack full of gifts that was their prize, and Alfonse tries to teach everyone a lesson about how the holiday festival season is about giving gifts instead of receiving them, but then there’s a 180 degree turn where they find the sack and it’s full of rare gems that Anna feels can keep the organization afloat for a while, then Sharena makes Alfonse wear a santa outfit over text…

It’s just… Long-winded and kind of dumb and confusing. Like the paragraph I wrote to try and reflect it.

Not really my favorite Paralogue overall, to be honest. Outside of watching Tharja and Robin interact, there isn’t too much to take out of it… But hey, it’s got a lot of Christmas-y December charm, so that’s just fine.

Also orbs. Boy do I love getting me some orbs.


Though I do appreciate the Chrismas aesthetic, and I appreciate the wide-range appeal of it as well, I just hope next Winter Festival season we get to see some other holidays represented as well.

Can you imagine a Hanukkah-themed hero? Or a Kwanza-themed hero?

Either would be amazing, though I’m not sure who would best fit the bill off the top of my head. If you’ve got any ideas for a fitting subject, be sure to let me know in the comments below!

Also, if you have any favorite heroes from this banner, tell me about them below as well! Seriously just… Talk with me guys. I know I ask for it every post, but I genuinely do enjoy audience reactions where I can get them.

With that said, if you want to see some of my other holiday-themed festivities so far this season, be sure to check out my post from last night about a trip looking at Christmas lights with members of the Daily Titan. It was a lot of fun, and I think I got some nice pictures, so check it out.

Beyond that, I officially start Winter Break this week, so expect some more posts I’ve been too backlogged to work on coming down the pipeline soon. I’m pretty excited to get the chance to do some extended creative writing again.

The Daily Titan’s romp through the lights

The Daily Titan’s romp through the lights

I had a really great time tonight strolling through a few blocks of Christmas-decorated houses with a few members of this semester’s Daily Titan staff at the invitation of our advisor Bonnie.

(From left to right) Our Editor in Chief Zack, me, our Copy Editor Kyle – who will be our Editor in Chief in the spring I might add, our Managing Editor Harrison behind him, our Sports Editor Kat, our Layout Editor Tracy and Zack’s boyfriend Jose all had a wonderful time together wandering the rather well-lit streets.

At least I assume we all had a good time together. Obviously I can’t speak for everyone, but I’d like to believe everyone enjoyed themselves.

Of course, we were also joined by Bonnie’s angel of a dog Cokie, who I believe she said is 16 years old.

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What a freaking trooper she is. Even if she wouldn’t look at my camera for a photo from her stroller, which is honestly one of the most adorable things I’ve ever seen.

But I’ll let it slide because she’s the best.

I figure I should add that when the event was first getting started, Harrison and I were the only ones who arrived, and we had the chance to decorate Bonnie’s home a little bit for the holidays.

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I said it in a twitter post when this first happened, but I think we set up a nice, appealing scene for a couple of guys who aren’t super visual people.

Plus, Tracy gave us a seal of approval, so we must have done something right.

We also had dinner together before the walk, with lasagna, salad, bread and coffee cake I brought (made by Aly I later found out). Plus sparkling cider. You can never go wrong with a nice glass or two of sparkling cider.

Especially given I don’t drink wine, or any alcohol for that matter, I’m sticking to that.

But of course, the highlight of the night post-story telling over the dinner table was the walk. I took pictures of everything, so I figured it would be worth sharing them here for anyone who wanted to see some great decorations:

It really was a blast, and a great send-off for this semester’s run of the Titan.

Plus, when we got back, Bonnie had made us chocolate chip and pecan cookies, which we sat around and ate while the Sound of Music was on.

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Really, all and all it was a wonderful night. Although Zack won’t be coming back next semester, I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone else on a regular basis once we get into the swing of things after the new year.

Oh, but don’t even get me started on the inconveniences coming home from the party.

I won’t dwell on it for too long, but there were two lane off-ramps I usually use that were closed, and on my alternative route down the 405 freeway, there was a 20 minute parking lot after an accident that closed down like 4 lanes. Talk about a nightmare.

In other words, I meant to put this post up sooner, but unfortunately didn’t get home until later, so… Enjoy this midnight release of Jason having a nice time with his friends. Be sure to join me tomorrow morning for Fire Emblem Heroes, which I luckily had the foresight to start earlier on so I won’t have to be up all night writing it.

Hopefully.