Guess the best way to start this overdue update is by wishing all of you a happy new year and a happy new decade! There’s something overwhelming about the idea that we have a new blank slate to work off in 2020, especially now that I’m at an age where I can appreciate relativity and the passage of time.
But I’ll have to table that existential stressor for another day.
While I have you here and now I’m sure there are other matters you’d rather I discuss. Most notably, I assume, where that classic “Top 10 games of the year” list is. It’s been at least a year and 24 hours since the last one came out.
Probably too many opportunities, according to this wrap-up email from Nintendo:
Yet things have circled around to kill my my motivation to write about all those video games by the end of 2019.
I put this blog on hiatus for the second half of the year to focus on my novel — with a brief resurgence talking about my vacation in Florida. Yet even after I finished the book’s first draft, I couldn’t bring myself to start writing things here again.
Getting the opportunity to professionally write about video games has honestly been very exciting. What a way to start 2020, right?
So if you want to see what I’m up to regularly right now using all the experience I garnered writing on this here blog, go follow my burgeoning career on GameRant.
I likely won’t return to the ‘daily posts’ schtick anytime soon. That whole Avengers Summer Initiative thing was mostly about giving myself a regular writing project when I had none — but real world career stuff is going to take precedence now.
That said, I really appreciate how people have been keeping up this web traffic during my absence.
Don’t know how often I’ll throw full posts up on the blog from here on, but I wanted to put this update together so all you loyal viewers would know I haven’t abandoned you. At the very least I’ll try to regularly update my GameRant stories.
Part of my plans for 2020 are to finally spruce this joint up so it’ll stand up as a better professional resume. Stay tuned to see if I hold myself to it.
I hope you all have an amazing 2020 and plenty of great opportunities in the upcoming decade!
Seemingly the most poignant place to start charting out my year is with my health. That feels ironic considering the first week of Winter Break was spent dying in bed, but I’m talking about the grand scheme of things.
A sizable chunk of my 2017 year in review was devoted to finding out about my blood disorder, ITP, and crazy things like the hospital stay that resulted from our early attempts to treat it.
It’s kind of insane to think that we’re more than a year out from that now, especially since so much of my stress at the time was getting better enough to cover Milo Yiannopoulos at Halloween.
The summer was also significant to my personal growth this year because I started my Summer 2018 Initiative: Writing something here on my blog every day.
My drive to force myself to become better at my craft each and every day persisted past the summer and into the fall semester. Then my buddy Spencer encouraged me to try to be concise with allof my posts for the sake of practicing, which has definitely helped.
You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve cut an extra 500 words off of these since.
However, I decided not to return to the paper for the fall semester. Gave more priority to my major and minor classes, knowing graduation is slowly rearing its ugly head.
Quicker than I thought it would be at the beginning of 2018, I should say. A really happy part of the year was finally finding a mentor for my Senior Honors Project and working things out with the program director to graduate on-time rather than needing an extra semester!
I’m sure it seems a bit narcissistic and self-serving to dedicate a whole post to my own blog’s analytics out of nowhere. Especially considering the last time I did this kind of thing when I hit 100 Twitter followers over the summer, I didn’t have 100 for that much longer.
By now I have some number fluctuating around 110 or so, to be fair.
But that’s beside the point. I assure you that narcissism has nothing to do with this.
If anything, to lampshade myself appropriately, this is just a result of having no idea what to talk about to fill today’s gap.
Otherwise my choices would have been the mandatory internship class orientation I attended today (but it was kind of a waste of time and I already complained about school this week), my fluctuating inner conflict over going to the gym tonight (I decided to just go tomorrow on account of my big lunch food coma™ (thanks Mimi) ) or Fire Emblem Heroes (except the new banner comes out tomorrow, so you’ll have to wait a day for that).
For the reasons I stipulated in the parenthesis up there, I decided not to go with any of the above.
However, while doing some soul-searching and just staring at my blog to try to figure out what I was in the mood to write, I came across something that piqued my interest. In traffic analytics, of all things.
I’ve talked about the analytics that WordPress offers briefly in the past, during my 2018 New Year’s Eve post. In that post I looked at the large overall increase in views from 2016 to 2017 when I got slightly more interested in writing blog stuff.
By the end of this year it’s going to be an even bigger story considering the inherent jump that came from me writing a post just about every day. I’ll get to that story in about a month.
Today, however, I’m looking at more of a small-scale moment in recent history. Recent history meaning approximately two days ago.
Boy I know I said this wasn’t a narcissistic, self-serving post but I sure am calling back to a lot of things, aren’t I?
ANYWAY, all of that was to set up the analytics I noticed from that toy opening post.
That’s a hell of a sudden spike for that one post.
Sure, we can be cynical and talk about how that’s still only about 40 people when I on average reach about 20 people. But that’s still a 100 percent increase.
I don’t know, I think it’s pretty cool to see.
Plus while I was looking at that, I happened to also briefly look back at the ‘countries’ tab of the analytics. Aly told me she let her friends know that we shot a stupid video, so I wanted to see if it was purely a U.S. demographic that picked up on the post.
What I found was that as of, say, 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 20, 2018, here was the spread of people visiting my blog:
Mostly the U.S., as I would have thought. But also Taiwan and France!
Don’t know who’s out there reading this blog in Taiwan and France, but I’d be very interested to know how you all perceive the mad ramblings I embark on.
Oh, but that’s not all folks. I didn’t just look at today’s visitation statistics.
I looked at an entire week’s worth:
Check out the diverse spread of yellow. I know those are just one or two people compared to the 81 individuals in America that came in over the last week, but still.
The fact that a stupid, silly blog some college student in Redondo Beach, California rambles into on a whim can reach this kind of international audience continues to astound me. It’s probably the only thing that has really, truly made me care about things like analytics and search engine optimization.
Everything I do on the old blog here I do for me. But seeing the kind of reach my personal business has is just incredible.
Gosh that definitely came out sounding self-serving again didn’t it?
I’m just going to cut my losses and leave things there. Look forward to tomorrow when I write about Fire Emblem again and probably kill all interest in anyone coming back!
I apparently don’t know how to read dates because as it turns out they’re here for New Year’s Eve, not New Year’s Day.
Then I went to bed early last night before checking the game, so I never found out until this morning.
That said, looks like you’re all getting two posts today, even though I was planning to try and use this as a kicking-off point to do a post every day for the first week of the new year. I’ll see if I can still get that to work out.
But enough pussyfooting around, let’s get into these Heroes, shall we?
Okay before I do get into these new heroes, I am actually still a little annoyed about this timing. Why aren’t the New Year heroes out on the first day of 2018? I feel like that would make so much more sense. Especially since there’s still one more day for the Winter/Christmas units. Why not just hold off one more day?
I suppose there’s no use complaining about it, it just does bug me a bit.
That said, I’m not necessarily mad that these new summonable heroes are here, because I do like them quite a bit.
I mentioned briefly in my Top 10 Games of 2017 list that I was going to try and figure out a way to either cut down on my Fire Emblem Heroes posts, or at least shorten them somehow so they aren’t quite as much work for me to produce so often.
I’m going to be trying a couple things in the next few posts, this time by distilling down the skills list for each new character through using the official descriptions. After all, for something like this there’s no better way to summarize information than to just have it in the original form, right?
Takumi is frankly the most ‘eh’ hero on this list for me. I really like his weapon (even though I’m disappointed that he doesn’t throw soup at people), especially in combination with a natural Moonbow, since together they give him repeated high special attack potential. However, the Attack and Resistance boost is a little situational because he needs to be next to someone, and Bowbreaker is contradictory if you want him to have boosted resistance. Plus, let’s be honest with ourselves, not many dagger-based units are viable. So all-and-all, I might skip out on Takumi for now, but we’ll see how good my luck is elsewhere.
Camilla is clearly the odd one out when it comes to these New Years heroes. While I acknowledge that it’s part of her character in the Birthright game’s conclusion that she travels Hoshido, I still can’t see a reason why they wouldn’t include a Hoshidan sibling that hasn’t gotten any love yet – Hinoka and Ryoma, namely. Well… Okay, I know why they would choose Camilla, because everyone loves her and probably spends a lot of money to get her… But still. She is special as our first sword-wielding Wyvern unit, which opens up the possibility of a fully balanced wyvern-based team, but otherwise she’s somewhat unremarkable too. Okay weapon effect that stacks with her ward skill alongside a strong special attack, but also a strangely combined boost to her Defense and Speed. Maybe it makes sense for her stat spread, but personally I’m not sure I understand it.
While Camilla is an odd flying unit in this banner, Azura is a freaking incredible flying unit in this banner. I’m not going to bury the lede here, she’s the unit I’m after right now. As far as I can recall, she’s also unique as an axe-wielding pegasus knight, but she’s also a flying unit with Azura’s signature Sing ability. That. Is. Awesome. Even if she doesn’t have the same beneficial weapon buff that the Performing Arts Azura has (in fact her weapon is basically a clone of Camilla’s, so it’s just ok), she does grant a large defense boost with her Earth Dance skill. Plus, she comes with Hone Fliers, arguably one of the best skills you’ll need on a flying unit focused team. Give this girl the Iote’s Shield Sacred Seal that was added during this last Tempest Trial, and I get the feeling she’s going to be an unstoppable force.
My only question is… What happened to Corrin, exactly?
Back in those leaks I talked about before, a bow-wielding Corrin was one of the featured heroes:
And he does, in fact, appear through the Paralogue missions that accompanied these heroes. Yet, he’s not in the main summoning focus banner, and the upcoming Winter’s Envoy vs. New Years Voting Gauntlet is not going to feature him as a hero to support. So what happened to him?
Is he going to be in a separate banner that drops on New Year’s Day? Is he going to be a future reward unit, perhaps in some sort of Grand Hero Battle or? Who knows.
I get the feeling Azura would have been my focus whether or not Corrin was here too, so I suppose his absence is alright for now. It’s given me more of a chance to blow all my orbs on green, after all.
Except for the one time I pulled a series of summons that didn’t include a green unit.
Which was the one time I naturally got a five star unit.
Love you Tharja, really I do… But you didn’t have to show up now you know.
Also why couldn’t you have shown up during my attempts at the Winter/Christmas banner?
Ah well, guess I can’t really complain about a new five star. Especially since this banner is going to be around for the entire month of January, so there’s going to be more than enough opportunities to get my Azura.
In the meantime, I’m getting a bunch of Cecilia clones all of a sudden, which means I’ll be able to keep improving mine in place of getting a Gunnthrá. Gotta love consolation prizes.
This story portion of the main event is probably going to be a short one, or at least a photo-heavy one. There really isn’t a hell of a lot to say about the Paralogue this time around besides the fact that Corrin shows up in it despite being absent elsewhere.
Even the maps you battle on aren’t super exciting for me this time around.
I suppose there’s some traditional Japanese elements to them considering how Hoshido is heavily inspired by feudal Japan, but most of those references go right over my head if they’re there. As a result, all I really see is a couple of maps that are less visually enticing than the last few special holiday maps we’ve gotten for Halloween and Christmas.
But I digress. What exactly is the story here?
Well… You and the Order of Heroes start off by going to Hoshido to celebrate the New Year.
When you get there, the special heroes have already made their contracts with Princess Veronica, so as usual it’s right to battling – though you do get some interaction between the characters beforehand.
For example, leading into the first map, Corrin and Takumi talk about getting fortunes:
Spoiler alert, Takumi’s fortune says the exact same thing as Corrin’s fortune does. They’re just playing up the ‘Takumi doesn’t like Corrin’ thing I’m pretty sure.
The interactions between Azura and Camilla are a bit more interesting to me, admittedly.
Not going to lie, pretty sure they’re referring to the fact that her bust is way more restricted in this outfit than in… Just about any other outfit she gets in this game.
But that’s not the part that’s interesting to me. Rather, it’s the aspect of them interacting as sisters, playing on their relationship in Conquest version where Azura turns out to be the sibling from Nohr that was stolen away to Hoshido at a young age – opposite Corrin, as the plot goes.
It’s nice to see them have a moment to be sweet with one another from that perspective.
Even if it does get kind of weird.
Camilla is just a wonderfully awkward character in almost every respect. Honestly that’s one thing Heroes has done well, made me care more about her than I ever really did in the original games.
The final map is just about as generic as it gets. Everything leads in with the four heroes preparing to fight their last stand:
I’m definitely Takumi in this scenario.
Then you win the battle, and the Order of Heroes decide to stay back a bit and make wishes for the New Year.
As is characteristic, Alfonse wishes for world peace, Sharena wishes to be friends with everyone forever and Anna wishes to fill the coffers of the Order with lots and lots of money.
And that’s it. No more pomp and circumstance, no tie-in to a more overarching plot. Just a simple filler arc to celebrate the New Year, exactly what you might expect to see.
I suppose I can’t complain, after all we got an easy 12 orbs out of it. Plus, it houses my new dream hero Azura.
I will get to you eventually, Azura. No matter what it takes. As long as what it takes doesn’t include spending money because I’ve already done that too recently and I’m not starting bad habits for the New Year.
With that said, here’s all there is to say about this Heroes update. Like I said above, I’m going to keep experimenting with these to try and cut them down, so let me know what you think about trying to summarize the skill list using the list given in-game.
Also, let me know what you think of the New Year-themed heroes! And what you think about the absence of Corrin, for that matter. Will he appear soon? How will he appear? I’d love to know what you think.
The timely journalist in me couldn’t resist getting this post out the day the update happened, so now that this post is the last one I’m publishing for the year I’d like to wish everyone a happy and healthy 2018! May it be full of good times… And good luck when pulling heroes.
Looking back at my 2016 end-of-the-year post before starting this one off was a pretty interesting little experience. Mostly because I reflected on the fact that last year was a pretty universally divisive time with a lot of personal accomplishment that made things worth it all in the end.
This year, I have essentially the same thing to say. Except I would argue that the divisive part of things had been turned up to 11. Plus, while things have been great for me, a lot of things also have not been so great.
Spoiler alert, I’m basically just ready for 2017 to end.
Unlike in last year’s discussion, I won’t go too far into detail about my video game playing experiences this year. I kind of already did it with my top 10 games list the other day, even if that was in order of my personal enjoyment rather than the chronological order I played things.
I’m going to just leave this off as a ‘check that list out here‘ note rather than talking too much more about it, especially since I’m probably going to do a few more video game-centric posts soon enough.
Namely tomorrow when Fire Emblem Heroes New Year units are released.
To cover all of my bases in this post just in case you guys don’t want to look back, just know that I didn’t play nearly as many games as I would have liked this year, and while I thoroughly enjoyed just about everything I did play, it’s a shame I couldn’t have done more due to my time commitments.
Speaking of, those time commitments wound up bookmarking my 2017 more than my video games did in that respect.
The Daily Titan has been the main driving force of that throughout the year. While last spring semester was my first time being an editor for the paper alongside Megan Maxey, I continued on in that role both semesters this year, only getting better and better at the job (in my opinion, at least).
During the fall semester, I worked together with Sarah Wolstoncroft – who had been one of my amazing assistants the semester before. Then this last semester, I worked together with Brandon Pho – who again had been one of my amazing assistants the semester before. Amazing how that pattern works out in the smaller College-level news industry, especially when you’re one of the younger starting people in the room to observe it.
Looking back at my archive, I’ve written a total of 40 stories between these last two semesters combined. That’s a lot of writing, even kind of overwhelming to think back to considering everything else I balanced, and there are some of them I’ll probably never forget working on.
A couple of articles were really serious last minute things I’ve had to do, such as our reporting the night of the Las Vegas shooting. A couple of them have been little passion projects for things like video games, such as my reviews of the Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga remake and Fire Emblem Heroes. I’ve even done a few things I never quite expected to do at this point in what is a burgeoning career, like writing entire articles off of my phone while translating documents at Downtown Disney. The policies put into place by President Donald Trump, as well as things like the CSU-wide tuition increase, played big parts in the overarching issues we covered.
However, I think the stories I especially won’t forget are the massive projects I helped lead during my time as an editor.
During the spring came the work we did on Homeless in OC, a series that blossomed out of the Daily Titan advisor Bonnie Stewart’s Investigative Reporting class where I got to participate in the all night Point-In-Time count and do extended research into the Anaheim shelter system, particularly under Mercy House.
Spring was also the semester of the Eric Canin incident that shook up Cal State Fullerton. For those who don’t remember, at an anti-Trump rally early on in the year, an anthropology professor reportedly struck a member of the College Republicans club as both the protest and counter-protest made their way through campus. There wound up being many months worth of stories to follow as a political shitstorm erupted over the altercation, eventually resulting in the Professor coming back to teach as the verdict came out that he did strike the student, but there were enough caveats to the moment given it was his first offense that no harsh action was taken outside a few month’s suspension. That last story in particular was special for me in that our Chief Communications Officer Jeffrey Cook reached out specifically to give us information ahead of time so I could write a substantial story over the summer wrapping things up.
Part of the Canin story involved me growing a close relationship with members of the College Republicans club, which was extra useful come the fall semester when I got to be the lead reporter in our work on Milo Yiannopoulos coming to CSUF.
Granted, that whole experience did kind of wreck my Halloween this year, but the aspect of working on and learning from such a high-controversy story was something I wouldn’t change for the world.
The fall semester was also bookmarked by dealing with (current) University President Mildred Garcia. I got to be part of the team that did an interview with her toward the beginning of the semester, and I was also the person that covered the fact that she would be leaving at the end of the semester. In my opinion, it’s never a bad thing to build a good reputation with the higher-ups in an organization. Makes it easier to do things like get comments down the line.
Those big stories weren’t the only things that made this such a hard-working year for me. I also kept on with Dr. Jason Sexton as a part of Boom, which led to me becoming the inaugural editor for an offshoot publication called California Connections in the spring. That project did get off the ground, but most of the work in creating a publication is going to flourish in 2018, so stay tuned for that.
I also started on probably my first major internship over the summer by joining a non-profit organization called Gladeo. Gladeo’s goal is to create a database of business profiles and job descriptions that can all be in one place and help students decide what they want to do for a living. A pretty noble goal, and one that I likely would have benefitted from if I haven’t found my place as a Journalist.
Even if certain other events (that I’ll go into in a bit) got in the way of working hard for that group over the spring semester as well, I’m sticking on with them too and will continue to produce profiles as the organization revamps its web presence in the early months of this upcoming year.
On top of that, I’ve also had a few other fun trips throughout the year. Revisiting Old Fort MacArthur Days comes to mind, as does events I’ve taken part in at places like The Autry Museum. Plus, I got to go to the Fox studio lot for a movie screening – though I wasn’t allowed to take any pictures there, unfortunately.
Being a journalist is only half of my professional moniker, however. The other half is being a student, and I have to say that my classes have been quite enjoyable this year… For the most part.
During the fall I took California Government and got a wider understanding of just how crazy things are in the old Golden State I’ve grown up in. I also took Primate Anthropology, which gave me a pretty deep appreciation of our mammalian ancestors that I never exactly expected to care so much about. My aforementioned Investigative Reporting class allowed me to work with Bonnie and other members of The Daily Titan and journalism majors in general to do some really fascinating and personally perspective-changing research into Homeless populations. Finally, I also thoroughly enjoyed my honors class, which delved into the history of the modern world from a deep perspective, offering in part some really interesting connections to today’s political and social workings.
When spring came along, for some reason I decided to kill myself further by kicking things up a notch and taking five classes.
I coincided my work on California Connections with an internship class out of the English college under the instruction of our internship advisor in Communications, since I was able to get extra credits toward my degree despite not being able to take the Comm-focused internship. Beyond that, I picked up my minor in psychology and jumped right in with a Statistics course (with its corresponding lab) and a course in Developmental Psychology. Both were undoubtedly great entry points into the minor… Even if I admittedly was not the strongest stats student, at least in part due to the fact that I wasn’t a huge fan of my professor. However, my Multimedia Journalism class under Bonnie once again gave me a great opportunity to practice doing video journalism, which at one point helped me bolster my working relationship with the Project Rebound program on campus, and my Junior Honors Colloquium course began me down the journey of preparing for my inevitable Senior Honors project.
Plus, I was in the same class as the president of the College Republicans club, which made things vastly easier to keep up on the Milo coverage than it otherwise could have been.
Sheesh, just writing all of that out was a bit exhausting. Like a lot of people have asked me in the past, I too kind of question how I’ve been able to do all of this with enough competency not to necessarily fall on my ass in any of it.
Who knows, maybe I’m just a bit better at this whole life thing than I give myself credit for.
Despite this wealth of academic and real-life opportunities that have flourished for me over the last year, not everything in 2017 has been all sunshine and rainbows.
Namely, health has been a major concern for my family all throughout.
A lot of the beginning of the year focused on some of my dad’s diabetic complications, which led to him being off his feet for a long, long time due to the introduction of a number of foot surgeries into his life. Luckily, he’s way better now and did not have to go through anything seriously traumatic, so he’ll be apt to tell you that the big take-away from it all was the ease that comes from now having a handicap permit.
My mom and sister also went through their own little arcs, the prior dealing with bronchitis and badly scraping up her knees and the latter dealing with tendinitis that has minorly inconvenienced her blossoming career in music.
However, the other big medical complication of the year came from one other than yours truly.
I haven’t exactly talked about this little chapter of my life too publicly because it was a very personal thing, but at this point I’m well past the blunt of it and figure now would be as good a time as ever to recount the details for posterity.
During a blood test as part of my routine check-up in September, the doctor found that my blood platelet count was abnormally, if not dangerously low. When that result continued to show itself, I was sent to a Hematologist, where we tried a number of treatments to resolve the issue, such as taking steroids over a long period of time in hopes of correcting what was believed to be a potential issue with an overactive immune system.
When that didn’t show as promising a result as expected, I instead took part in an Intravenous Immunoglobulin (IvIG) treatment. After two days worth of a number of hours sitting in a chair, I wound up being in the lucky .01 percent minority that suffered from aseptic meningitis as a result of the treatment.
It was a viral form of the problem, which meant it wasn’t nearly as serious, life-threatening or contagious as a potential bacterial strain would have been. However, I landed in the hospital for a couple days as a result.
On the one hand, I will admit that it was kind of nice getting a reprieve from the world and some quiet time to catch up on work while I was there. Though, on the other hand, it obviously put a wrench in… Basically everything. Even after I got out of the hospital, where I got to try a bunch of new things like a spinal fluid tap, there was at least a week afterward that I still had to rest at home and couldn’t look in the light for more than a few minutes.
Once my life began to normalize again, I was still a little fuzzy-headed for a while, but eventually I got to a comfortable place again, where I continue to stay today.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that my blood platelet count normalized perfectly after the IvIG (a rather ironically perfect twist of fate I’d say), the number has fallen back down since. It’s an issue I might be dealing with for the rest of my life as things go, but for now I can happily report that things are going fine.
That long, drawn-out experience which interrupted a part of my 2017 was only one part of why I’d say things were so rough. Among them were the echo chamber of news that I now tend to subject myself to as a semi-professional journalist.
I don’t like to get very political on my blog here. Or anywhere, in fact. My whole choice in career is built upon the ideal that I should simply be a reporter of things, as objective as possible about as many things as possible. So, I’ll leave it at this. Watching things happen in the world of national politics that I don’t agree with has been a constantly draining force in 2017, especially given that it seems to be all we hear about day-in and day-out for months on end.
Though as usual things like video games and time with my friends are a great escape from that endless grind, as I mentioned before I’ve found myself busier than ever with the work that keeps me immersed in that world, so it’s been a fairly relentless cycle.
Even with all the negativity that has defined 2017 for me, however, I can’t help but continue to look optimistically into the future.
2018 has some big projects in the works, such as the hopefully successful publication of California Connections toward the end of this spring semester.
On top of that, I’m going to be working as a staff member of The Daily Titan through the journalism concentration capstone class, Comm 471. Alongside that opportunity for a break from the hard-working job of editorial board that I’ve hammered at for the last year-and-a-half, I’m also going to hopefully be an assistant on a more feature-focused desk to give me a better grasp of the newspaper as a whole.
Past that, 2018 should hopefully be a year where I find myself less downtrodden by things like medical concerns. With a Nintendo Switch in my possession for the whole year ahead, it should also be a good opportunity to try even more games should I find the time to do so.
As I like to get meta with this site as well, I’ve put together 103 posts throughout this year (this one included), and I’ve gotten a good chunk more views in the process.
I’m looking forward to watching this little passion project of mine grow about as much as everything else, since it really has developed into something I enjoy doing. One thing I’d like to do in the coming year is hopefully diversify what I post just a bit more, but we’ll see what my time permits.
Lastly, for now at least, 2018 will also be the year that I turn 21. A typically sought-after time where I’ll finally be able to round-out the governmental privileges of adulthood like drinking. Though I don’t plan to do a whole lot of that, I admit I am looking forward to a certain sense of prestige that comes with it.
If you have any favorite, or I suppose not-so-favorite memories from 2017, feel free to let me know about them in the comments section. I’m hoping it’s been an overall happier year for all of you out there than it has been for me, since I’m just about ready to leave everything behind for something better around the corner.
Here’s to a Happy New Year for everyone who continues to stick around on this little journey I call my life!
As the holiday season and the year 2016 come to a close (very conveniently at the same time in this case), I feel like I can’t help but take a moment to reflect on some things. As I mentioned in my last post about Carrie Fisher’s passing, the general attitude seems to be that 2016 can’t end soon enough. Globally, the world is a bit of a mess. In the United States, the incredibly divisive presidential election we just completed left everything feeling a little bit fractured and not-so-unified. In the world of popular culture lots of people who were well-known and highly adored by the general public passed away.
It’s understandable why people feel the year was so bad, and admittedly there’s some of that I’ve gotten bogged in too over the last couple months. However, for me personally, the year really hasn’t been all that awful. In fact, it’s been a fairly great year all things considered.
One thing I always find interesting as a gamer is reflecting on what games “defined my year,” as it were. Granted I didn’t necessarily diversify my interests a whole lot, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t a lot of things I played.
Toward the beginning of the year, I was still riding some of my Wii U hype. I just got my system as a present last Hanukah, in fact, so games like Super Mario Maker were still huge time sucks, moreso than they are now.
Another thing that I’d gotten for Hanukah in 2015 also continued to take up my time, and that was The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes.
While the game wasn’t a traditional Zelda game like we’d all been waiting for in the relatively soon-to-be-announced Breath of the Wild, it was still a blast to play. The game had some awesome multiplayer functionality both with friends and with strangers, and to this day I don’t think I’m over how hilarious it is to spam the cheerleader pom-pom Link emoji.
On top of that, you could literally dress Link up as a cheerleader and it was one of the most viable costumes in that game. Not sure I ever thought I’d be so gung-ho to get Link to cross dress in all honesty, but I was.
Also earlier on in the year, while I was still getting into the swing of the Spring semester, I remember binging every Shantae game that’s been released thus far.
Not only did I play the original Shantae for the Game Boy, I played Shantae: Risky’s Revenge and Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse. I fell in love with the series fast thanks to the lovable characters, the quirky and fun writing, the beautiful animation style and of course the music (composed by Jake Kaufman, who also produced the music for another one of my favorite games in the same general style: Shovel Knight). I literally played through all three in a row and loved every minute of it, even if none of the games were necessarily all that beefy.
Doing a little bit of research, it looks like the latest installment in the series, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, has been released just recently, but it apparently slipped under my radar somehow. I’m wholeheartedly Ret-2-Go with that game as soon as I can pick it up, as there are a few too many games in 2016 that I unfortunately missed despite wanting to play them. Didn’t have quite as much time to devote to these things as I would have liked.
Next on the list of my year’s rundown is the first in what I would consider my ‘return of old gaming loves’ trilogy. That, of course, was Fire Emblem Fates. All three together technically, but Birthright was undoubtedly my personal favorite.
There’s a few things I’ll never forget just leading up to the games being released. First, I’ll never forget the hunt my friends and I went on trying to find some of the special edition three-in-one game cartridges for Fates that was a resounding failure but had some great moments. Like getting literally laughed at by a guy in a Game Stop one time. That was awesome.
I’ll also never forget getting the first game, Birthright, as it was actually a gift that was given to me by the editors of the News section on the Daily Titan, Micah and Brianna, as thanks for being their assistant for the Fall 2015 semester. Seriously, check it out, I still have the note here:
It was really awesome, especially considering it apparently took a lot of work to build up to the reveal, including using my friend Kaleb as a spy to figure out which version of the game I wanted more.
Fire Emblem took up a huge chunk of my life from there on out, as I went on to play all three versions. In a row. In hindsight, admittedly not the best idea, but I’m really into the games so it was the decision I made at the time. Birthright was incredible, rose-colored glasses or not, Conquest literally made my just about cry on multiple occasions from how unnecessarily difficult it got to be at times (Seriously, screw the port level. If I never play that game again, the port level is to blame) and Revelations was… Admittedly underwhelming.
I meant to talk about it on here a little bit, but beyond just being burnt out on the games by the time I hit the third, there were a few things that really sort of killed the experience for me unfortunately. First, I padded it out too much for myself. I tried to grind all the characters up to have a ton of diverse skills rather than planning ahead what I would’ve wanted, and it wound up being far more effort than I was honestly willing to put in. Second, they killed off my favorite character in what was literally the worst possible way in my opinion. I have a huge, huge rant still built up about it because the moment was so caustic for me, but this isn’t really the time or the place, so perhaps I’ll still come back to it later. Third, there was another game coming on the horizon that left me rushing to finish, which took away a lot of my enjoyment toward the latter half of the storyline. Who knows, maybe if I go back to it now I’ll have a better time, but for now Birthright will continue to be the high point of my memories for Fire Emblem Fates.
The second game in my personal trilogy was Monster Hunter Generations.
I talked about it on here a bit, so I don’t think I need to go into too much detail, but this game sucked away quite a bit of my time as well. Though I’ve only been playing Monster Hunter since the last major release, Monster Hunter 4U, it has quickly become one of my favorite franchises.
The seemingly near infinite levels of customization thanks to a wide range of monsters and a progression-based-on-skill system is something almost totally unique to Monster Hunter in my gaming experience, and it ticks boxes like crazy for me. There are very few games that I get super in depth about building sets and doing hours of research into said sets and also things like lore, but Monster Hunter is definitely one of them. It’s also one of the favorite games of my friend Juan, so we always have a good time going on extravagant hunts as a super powered duo, Hunting Horn and Charge Blade in hands.
Granted, I’ll admit that the game wasn’t quite as invigorating as MH4U for me, since that was the game where I truly had a skill curve to learn and overcome so I could truly become a master, but Generations was still a blast to play through and through.
Last, but certainly not least, comes what must be an obvious entry on this list. Hell, there’s only one game that really defined not only the latter half of my year, but also most of what I’ve built my blogging experience on so far.
And that game is, of course, Pokémon Sun and Moon. Because technically they go together even if they’re two separate games. Because Pokémon works like that.
Really I’ve said more than enough about these games in many, many posts over the last year, so I don’t think I need to waste too much time on it right now. Not only were the games beautiful and fun experiences in themselves, surpassing what I consider to be some of my favorite and some of the best constructed games in the series thus far, they reinvigorated the love of competitive Pokémon breeding that I fostered in Alpha Sapphire and got me back into the Pokémon YouTube communities I followed around the same time.
I have been and will continue to do some breeding in the games, especially once the Pokébank opens in January, and I’ve considered doing more competitive battling in 2017. There’s an official battle competition coming up pretty soon that I’m pretty sure I’ll be entering, so I’m sure there will be plenty more posts in the future on the subject as well.
Beyond those massive entries that took up my time, there are a few other games that permeated my year’s experiences. The 20th Anniversary of Pokémon for me included the continued playing of Pokémon Shuffle and Pokémon Picross on my 3DS, which were my puzzle game obsessions that I’ve only recently seemed to kick.
The summer was undoubtedly defined by Niantic’s Pokémon GO, the game which really felt the most universally unifying during the sub-par situations of the year surrounding it.
My whole family was playing the game together and I still remember wandering El Camino College hatching eggs after my summer classes there. Though I wound up a little disillusioned with the game, and still haven’t jumped in to catch the start of the Generation 2 Pokédex, I still can’t imagine Pokémon GO won’t hold a place in history in some way or another.
Also hitting the mobile gaming scene this year was Super Mario Run.
I gave my thoughts on the game in depth a little while ago, and as a small follow-up I will say that having spent money on the full game has made the experience even better for me. I’ve gotten really into collecting all the colored coins in single player on long road trips and I have a pretty well developed town so far. As a first jump into the mobile scene for Nintendo, I can personally say that Super Mario Run has been a success, and I’m looking forward to seeing more.
I also replayed quite a few older Steam games that I adore but haven’t touched in some time this year.
My friend Samantha and I played Terraria for a long stretch of time together, progressively getting better and better as we learned and built more complicated structures and items together. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth ate up huge chunks of my time in brief intervals throughout the year, as it’s always an addictive rogue-like experience that I’ll never get tired of. The same could be said for FTL, which I can only describe as a real-time rogue-like spaceship command and battle simulator. For anyone who hasn’t heard of the game it can be hard to explain, but it’s one of my favorite games of all time.
My 2016 was defined by more than just the video games I played, however. It marked the end of my first year at college. It also included my first semester as an editor for a college paper, one which I feel went really well considering all the crazy things that happened politically while I was in charge of the News page.
2016 was where I really feel like I got into the rhythm of driving and being able to get myself places. It was also the first year where I got to vote for a serious election – despite how divisive it might have been as far as an election went.
However, because of my time as a journalist, I felt like this was the first time I really got to apply what I was doing and learning to a real-world event. Literally the more I learned, the more prepared I felt to vote in November.
On top of that, I feel like I really learned a lot just in general. Two semesters and a summer intersession at college had me taking classes all over the proverbial spectrum at two different schools: Cal State Fullerton and El Camino College. Not only was the subject matter of the things I learned interesting, I also got to explore more places at the same time, which I also enjoy doing.
I got my first few relatively well-paying jobs in 2016 between being an editor on the Daily Titan and working for Boom: A Journal of California. Thanks to that, I’ve felt more independent than I ever really have before.
In 2016, I went to New York for the first time in I honestly don’t know how long.
I used to have a lot of family living out there, but now most of my close relatives live here in California, so I rarely ever get to go out to the East Coast anywhere that isn’t Florida. The trip was amazing and so much fun, and I really felt like I got close to a lot of my friends and colleagues in the newsroom that went with me.
I also got to relive a part of my Dad’s childhood by finding his old high school.
So, all and all, I’d say that trip was probably one of the most memorable parts of the year for me.
I got to visit SpaceX for the first time this year, and though I wasn’t allowed to take any pictures inside, it was still a phenomenal place to see. Seriously, some of the stuff they have going on in there is incredible.
In my opinion, I really started to come out of my shell a little bit more in 2016, and that helped me meet and interact with some people who I can really see myself continuing to talk to for a long time to come. Both those in and out of the newsroom.
2016 was also the first year I’ve let my beard grow out. It started as a No Shave November thing we did for the Daily Titan, but in the end I wound up getting such a positive reception that I kept the hair grown out.
Seriously, what a difference a little bit of hair will make. I look totally different from one picture to the other, if you ask me. Probably helps that I had more hair on top of my head to cover my forehead in the first picture too… But that’s another story.
Finally, 2016 was where I really got into blogging. Yeah, seems like a silly thing to cap this whole list off with, but you are literally reading this on my blog. I started this blog back on February 18, a day after my birthday, thanks to some school assignments I had to do. My Communications 233 class required us to have a blog that we posted 20 things on of any subject we chose. Naturally, I chose to make this a blog about video games and about my journalism experience.
Though it started as an assignment, one that I literally had to come up with ways to finish by coming up with admittedly silly things to post, I’ve come to really love doing this. Writing is a passion of mine, and getting the chance to write more often has been wonderful. It’s also been a way to voice my opinions and thoughts on various subjects, which I don’t tend to do in a largely public forum like this very often. I may be a relatively small blog still, but I feel like I’ve found somewhat of a rhythm thanks to Pokémon Sun and Moon, and I’m looking forward to writing more on whatever comes up in 2017. As goofy as it might be to say it, one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to try and write more next year, so I hope you all stick around to see whatever it is I come up with to write about.
Really, from the bottom of my heart thank you to everyone who’s following my blog, everyone who’s read anything I’ve wrote and to all my family and friends who have helped me explore, encouraged my writing ambitions, and worked to make sure I put my best foot forward. If you have any of your own favorite memories from 2016, or if you just want to send a good riddance sendoff to the year, feel free to share them down in the comments below.
I hope everyone has a Happy New Year, and here’s to 2017 being a happier time overall than 2016 seems to have been!