I’ve been enjoying my “book writing sabbatical” perhaps a little too much. A lot of my novel has gotten done, but there have been plenty of things over the last month I easily could have blogged about.
I was almost completely by myself for three weeks as Mom and Aly went to New York for a summer music program.
I'm putting down Mario Maker 2 so I can focus on writing today, but I've been having such a great time building levels again that I thought it would be fun to share what I've made so far. If you have the game, feel free to check some of them out!
I completely skipped the Three Houses banner in Fire Emblem Heroes.
Normally I’d be writing something for the new Fire Emblem Heroes banner today, but I decided not to for a couple reasons. So here’s the Featured Image you’d see in case you’re feeling blue about my recent lack of blog writing. pic.twitter.com/v1dCw3q05M
Keanu Reeves’ 2014 action vehicle John Wick was lightning in a bottle.
Where Reeves was previously known in the genre as a trench coat wearing techno-superhero, the late 2010s has changed his action pedigree to that of a retired super assassin skilled in glorious gun-fu.
That film exhibited wonderful cartoony violence in a way that enthralled audiences. It was a self-contained story with a hint of mysterious flavor that could have easily stood on its own.
John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017) was less contained. But even if its script clearly acted as the middle man for another sequel, the film was magnificent in its world-building. It elaborated on the mysterious underbelly of the first movie in a way that created intrigue rather than spoiling the fun.
And it somehow kept up a high caliber of action at the same time.
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019) masterfully blends and elevates the action-packed precedent of the first movie and the world-building of the second to continue an experience warranting the fourth chapter it aims to establish.
Chapter 3 follows Reeves’ titular character as he aims to reverse his excommunication from the worldwide “High Table” assassin society after killing one of its leading members in a safe haven at the end of the second film.
Like Chapter 2, this movie immediately drops its audience into a story that services its past while introducing new elements.
Facing the consequences for one’s actions is the name of the game, as Chapter 3 establishes multiple times while audiences are introduced to more of the assassin underworld through locales like a training academy and a currency manufacturer in the ramparts of a medieval castle.
The movie embellishes John Wick’s brilliant universe, where gory street level duels are bathed in neon lights despite being planned by codified and cordial socialites in almost baroque meeting places.
The growing universe is enthralling for series veterans, yet I would argue Chapter 3 utilizes it’s exposition in a way that gives newcomers a fun experience unraveling how Reeves got himself into trouble. Like The Hangover, but with trained assassins.
Some of the fine details would be lost, but John Wick supplements its world-building with creative action to make the experience worthwhile.
The hyper-violence of this film is a spectacle. Within the first 20 minutes, Reeves beats a man to death with a copy of Dante’s Inferno and kills motorcycle-riding goons while galloping through New York traffic on a horse.
Yet that hyper-violence is perfectly balanced by enough realism to give confrontations weight and suspense. Wick is constantly battered, retains his scars and takes multiple pauses in the middle of firefights to reload. Every body and bullet casing hits the floor with satisfying clunks.
Not all of the action perfectly hits its mark. One at the midpoint in particular feels a little aimless as endless opponents come out of nowhere.
Though even less stellar scenes have high points, such as that rather aimless fight using Sofia’s dogs to great effect. Never before have I encountered uncomfortable mauling scenes with lovably good boys.
Cinematography and color in Chapter 3 also go a long way to make action more impressive.
For example, a later firefight is dulled by losing most hand-to-hand choreography in the face of near-invincible enemies. But the scene’s nauseating green palate emphasizes how uncomfortable the once-friendly setting is for Wick.
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum arguably succeeds best in that it plays well to the strengths its predecessors while keeping things fresh.
Though a few of the action scenes aren’t as stellar as others, long-time fans of Mr. Wick’s exploits will not be disappointed. Especially if they love the assassin-filled world Chapter 2 began to reveal.
And even if I wouldn’t recommend it, Chapter 3 seems like it could work as a standalone flick. It certainly did for my Grandpa.
Trying to get my grandpa to look at the camera during our obligatory family movie selfie: A three part saga pic.twitter.com/DNnF7oNQLu
Luckily hosted indoors, as it rained hard all morning on our way up north. None of those outdoor venues like the marching band competitions get.
While I appreciate any and all opportunities to break out my Master Sword umbrella (and boy has it gotten work this rainy season), I was more appreciative that we could hide instead.
Especially with such a nice auditorium to hide in:
The beige whites, wooden trim and striped-blue decor gave the Elings Performing Arts Center a nautical harbor vibe that felt like home, even though home was a good few hours away.
I was also a fan of the music, even if I can’t speak to why quite as well as I can for a visual aesthetic.
That’s frankly my biggest problem with these events. While I can’t say I’m the biggest jazz listener in the world, I typically enjoy what I get to hear at the competitions. I just don’t have near enough musical knowledge to be able to tell people why — and usually those who can will tell me how awful a band was despite my thinking they sounded as good as the rest.
The one thing I can point to is Santa Ynez, who really impressed me in particular by utilizing a violin in their set.
After a while, the performances across different events do start to sound similar, so shaking that up was nice.
Plus I’ve found that I’m actually a huge fan of taking more “classical” instruments like the violin and using them in unique, more modern settings. Been noticing that a lot more in different soundtracks I’ve listened to for games and such.
But beyond that, hopefully you aren’t here for deep diving musical analyses.
All I can really provide are these screenshots and videos to help you feel like you were there.
We started to go through some of the stuff my Grandma Rhea had in her room at the assisted living home today.
I know that’s a very morbid way to start one of these, so just trust me when I say I have a not quite as morbid reason for talking it over.
Yesterday I said I probably wouldn’t touch the subject for a while, so the fact that I feel good doing this should say something in itself.
None of us seemed to realize just how many old knickknacks and photos of different family members she had hidden away until we began looking through her bedside table drawers.
For instance, this beautiful little stand stood out to me.
I’m not entirely sure where it is from or what the 30 is supposed to mean, but the ornate leaf pattern is just great.
We also came across a collection of business cards she apparently ordered for herself:
It was a genuine surprise to all of us that she had these hiding away, as none of us were ever given any of them.
However, it’s a testament to how much she cared about the little knitting business she was trying to start for herself in her twilight years that she went out of her way to get cards made. There were a few half-finished pieces hiding around the room as well.
I’m probably going to carry one of these cards around, or at least store it in my room somewhere.
But then of course we get to the fun stuff: The photos.
I would say the Featured Image I used is my favorite. From left to right, it’s my Grandma, Dad, Aunt Mindy and Grandpa together at Mindy’s graduation from Kingsborough Community College.
In a similar vein, there’s another photo of the three minus my Dad, this time featuring Rhea’s sister Toby who passed away a few months ago.
There were also a couple of grandkid pictures she kept, mostly school picture day kind of set-up shots for me, my sister and my two cousins.
Arguably the most interesting things we dug up, however, were these:
I can’t confess to knowing what these are called, and if you know I would really appreciate some insight. Though in general they kind of remind me of ViewMasters.
On the other side of the larger, capped end are tiny little photos. That cap is slightly translucent and you can hold it up to the light while looking through the smaller end as though it were a small kaleidoscope.
Time has been kind to these, as in 2019 we have magical pocket-sized devices with small, yet fantastic cameras that I figured could easily simulate looking inside.
So I have the photos within to show you in as similar to an authentic means as possible.
First there’s this photo of my grandparents together when they were younger.
Then there’s this photo of my Dad with his parents later:
Knowing that Grandma has all of these hiding away actually made me feel a whole lot better about this entire unexpected, difficult ordeal. It’s a good reminder of just how much she cared about us that she held onto all of this for… Well who knows how many years.
The feeling is bittersweet, but more positive than upsetting overall.
It helped that my Aunt Mindy and Cousin Erica were down here today along with us.
Because if nothing else, them being here meant we also had dogs.
In the beginning, early hominids huddled in dark seclusion deep inside caverns on the fringes of the world, scared of beasts and inclement weather threatening their existence from the wilds outside.
Then everything changed in the year of our lord 2001, when the blessed Kubrick himself delivered our ancestors a gift of blazing fire: Bright enough to stave off the darkness and hot enough to cook most anything.
Since then we have gone through hundreds of years of evolution to become the kings of the proverbial and literal food chains, shaping the world and even external worlds to our whims.
Yet one thing has not changed in all those decades.
That same sparked flame which bolstered our growth was and continues to be the perfect backdrop for gathering around and exhibiting our social capabilities, doing what we humans are arguably known for best:
After an especially windy day traveling around to do some chores, my family returned home and decided to whip up a fire for some extra help keeping warm.
Considering we’re positioned smack dab in the middle of Southern California, there’s not many chilly opportunities to necessitate a fire every year, so it’s a nice change of pace whenever we do light one.
Though my set-up might suggest there was a large storytelling element to this particular fire, I wouldn’t say there was in such a traditional sense.
The television is on right next to it, so that’s a pretty large story outlet right now.
However, something I’ll always link to a fire being set at the Rochlin household is the story that literally always gets told whenever we light one. Without fail.
It’s my parents’ story and I stake no real claim to it, but like I said it has become a significant part of the experience for me.
So I figure I’ll save it for posterity, if nothing else.
My parents moved to California not very long before I was born, having lived more or less their whole lives on the East Coast — New York in particular. My Dad had aspirations to be a famous actor and had long venerated the Golden State, though soon enough he had moved into more work behind the camera managing computer systems at companies like Disney.
Neither had ever owned a house with a fireplace before, so having one when they moved into this place was something special to try.
However, the first day they did try it out, the fire department showed up. Apparently they didn’t realize you needed to open up the flue, otherwise smoke would pour back into the house rather than out.
When they answered the door, somewhat confused by what had gone wrong, the official asked, “You guys just move in?”
Now that’s what I call a punchline.
Bit of a weirder post than usual tonight I know, but like I said I haven’t done too much besides chores and freeze to death in the windy tundra of SoCal.
Figured this small, fun subject would serve as a nice capstone for the end of Winter Break. Tomorrow I’m headed back to school for what looks to be my last semester of college.
Needless to say I’ll be looking to write as many fun, distraction-filled posts as possible over the next week or so to keep my mind occupied.
Very bizarre premise for a blog post, I know. But that’s kind of what you get when I spend all day doing homework and can’t figure out too much more to write about outside of that homework.
It just so happens that today my homework weirdly connected with outside forces.
I’ve been working on the at-home midterm essay for my Mass Media Ethics class for the past hour or two. The premise of the assignment is simple, we were given four cases of ethical debate and asked to defend one side in one of those debates. A fairly open-ended piece of work meant to show our general understanding of the ethical philosophies and case study analysis methods we’ve been studying this semester.
I decided to write about the case where a reporter in New York was forced to withdraw from a potential candidacy on the city council in his hometown. All things considered a pretty straight-forward argument between conflicts of interest and breaking company policy on one side with a desire to improve the community using a more hands-on approach on the other.
Honestly the paper went far smoother than I expected it to. The vague nature of the assignment was a bit daunting, so the fact that I was able to write it in just a few short hours with a quick seal of approval from the initial parent check was great. I might run over it again before I have to turn it in on Tuesday considering it is a big chunk of my midterm grade, but overall it feels really nice get it off my plate.
Where the art side of the headline up there comes into play only makes sense if you know some context.
Not too long ago, my family started watching NBC’s The Good Place. It wasn’t a show I was interested in watching when it first started to air a few years ago, but after hearing from some friends that it was an amazing piece of television on the eve of season three starting, we decided to pick it up.
Got through season one in a day or two. Still making our way through season two right now.
It. Is. A wonderful show.
It’s smart, it’s funny, it’s fresh. I especially adore Ted Danson, though the whole cast makes for a great ensemble. Plus the occasional guest star that slips their way into the cast helps sell it with some stellar comedy.
For those of you who haven’t seen the show, it’s also essentially a hyper condensed ethics class masking as a comedy. The fact that I happened to start watching the show while taking a Mass Media Ethics class is serendipity to say the least.
The most recent episode we watched focused on the classic trolly problem, for example. A thought experiment so intrinsically linked with Utilitarian arguments that the episode as a whole might as well have been plucked out of my class’s week 3 lecture.
If nothing else, it certainly presents some fun examples of concepts to help remember them for when you have to utilize the ideas in an essay.
So I guess the lesson of the day is that television will help you when you have to do homework.
And also to go watch The Good Place. Because it’s an A+ show in basically every regard.
I just wish I’d known about it way back when I went to Universal Studios earlier this year. Because I would’ve paid way more attention to that soundstage on the Studio Tour if I had.
I’m trying something totally radical today. Instead of writing this post after my trip to the gym, I’m writing it while currently at the gym!
Using the treadmill, to be specific.
About 10 minutes into my run and I’m already beginning to suspect this whole split mindset is a mistake. But overall I’m very interested in killing two birds with one stone, because once I get home from the gym I’ll have to study for this quiz I’m dreading.
Occurs when two stimuli are experienced close together in time and, as a result an association may be formed.
I think this just about explains itself honestly.
I’ve talked about this same subject probably countless times before, particularly concerning my nostalgia for certain games being intrinsically linked to different locations.
Playing Pokémon Sapphire and the first run of Shovel Knight on 3DS while in Florida with my grandparents.
Playing through Pokémon Firered while in New York many, many years ago for my cousin’s Bat Mitzvah.
Playing Fire Emblem Fates (Birthright specifically) while in New York for a journalism conference.
Playing Pokémon White 2 in a Target near the Del Amo Mall by my house.
I could go on and on with this list frankly, and at least 80 percent of the examples are clearly Pokémon inspired — in case you ever needed a good reason why the series is my favorite of all time.
But I think you get the point.
Before you think I’m a total loser though, just know it isn’t all video game examples running through my head. Even if those are the most prevalent.
For instance, I remember finishing Wilson Rawls’ “Where the Red Fern Grows” while riding our family exercise bike when it was still in my parent’s room.
Followed soon after by bawling uncontrollably all over our family exercise bike when I finished the book.
Screw you Rawls. I’m still not over that.
This writing on the treadmill thing actually kind of sucks so I think I’m going to cut things off here. Try not to kill myself on exercise machines and give myself some closure to focus wholeheartedly on stressing myself out over a quiz later.
Just figured it would be worth sharing this cool new term I learned today that gave me the words to describe a phenomenon I’ve noticed quite often.
Have you found any sort of terms or words like that recently?
Or, if not, what sort of temporal contiguities have you experienced that really stuck with you?
As a home-grown Southern California kid I do have some interests in sports teams that come from some semblance of nostalgia. Namely the Dodgers when it comes to baseball and the Lakers when it comes to basketball. I’ve gone to see them many times over the years, so there are fond memories there even if I’m not as much of an avid follower of their games as I am Nintendo games.
However neither are striking examples of the kind of naming conventions I enjoy when it comes to sports teams. Like… What even does the name ‘Dodgers’ stand for? If anything, you wouldn’t want to be good at dodging a ball when you play baseball. Don’t you get to walk when you’re hit by the ball while at bat?
Come on Dodgers, get your act together.
Granted there is something interesting about them specifically. The fact that both the Dodgers and the Giants were originally East Coast teams before coming to California.
Inherently that brings up some questions about the permanence of a name if it can be so easily uprooted and moved around. Like yeah now we always associate the Dodgers with Los Angeles, but they weren’t always so closely linked with the culture here. That’s kind of fascinating, honestly.
But hey that’s a long tangent isn’t it? What I was going to get at was the fact that I enjoy seeing sports teams that are named after singular entities which could potentially duke it out.
The phenomenon tends to be more prevalent in high school and college sports, in my head. At my high school the main rivalry was the Sea Hawks versus the Mustangs. Though I did have some school spirit, for the most part I couldn’t care less which campus actually won. It was just kind of cool to imagine some kind of battle between a vicious hawk (which my biology teacher told us was actually based on a real life bird known for crushing bones) and a majestic hoofbeast.
I imagine the same thing could be said for many small-town sports rivalries. Certainly the idea of two forces of nature going at it is much more exciting than some other team names. Like the Patriots. Or the Redskins.
Much less racist too.
As I already mentioned, I’m not just bringing up this idea because I have a sudden passion to talk about sports. Or racism scandals. There was actually a spark that got me thinking about the subject of sports team names.
Unofficial Pokémon battle tournaments.
Yeah you heard me right. Bet you didn’t think anyone would be relating competitive Pokémon battling to actual real life sports in your daily blog posts today. Well I am, so you best be ready for it.
There’s actually a healthy amount of comparisons one can make between the two. When preparing for a Pokémon battle, trainers are restricted to six members, much like sports teams are limited to X number of team members on the field. Those six Pokémon fit different roles, be them wholly offensive, defensive or supportive. Or they could be some combination of the three.
It’s not hard to say that my hyper-offensive glass cannon Mega Beedrill in a battle is comparable to a football team’s leading quarterback, or that my heal-passing Audino is supportive much like a shortstop on a baseball team that quickly gets the ball from base-to-base for multiple outs.
I don’t know, I think it’s a pretty easy comparison to make. Maybe you disagree, but it’s all just an unapologetic segue anyway.
The reason I’ve come to think about this subject is because of the lengths I’ve seen certain Pokémon-playing YouTube personalities go to when establishing battle leagues that are steeped in the traditions of real life sports.
There are about a billion examples out there, but the one that’s most impactful to me is the United Championship League (UCL). There’s no real specific reason why other than the fact that most of the circle that competes in it are a close-knit group of Pokétubers that I tend to watch fairly often.
Which yes is possibly one of the nerdiest things I’ve said around here. But does it look like I care?
The UCL started about three years ago and carried an interesting aesthetic:
Yeah that’s right. This is a Pokémon battle competition with an extended team draft and a classic branching tree tournament board. On top of that, each team tends to do a pre-game discussion where they determine which members they’re bringing based on the opponent’s overall draft and how they’re building their teams up as a result.
It’s kind of crazy to thing that that’s almost exactly the same thing as a real sports league, but I adore one and can’t bring myself to seriously care about the other.
I think part of the reason I do care so much about the UCL — other than the fact that I’m a Pokémon junkie in general — is the fact that another real life sports trope they use so well is the naming convention.
Every team in that league names themselves the same way. City name (or some other location) followed by a Pokémon name that matches in some way.
Though of course it would be a terrible mistake for me not to mention my absolute favorite Pokémon sports league name:
The New York Mankeys.
Shout out to ShadyPenguinn for coming up with literal perfection. That’s the kind of name I wish I was clever enough to come up with on my own. Not only is it a solid team name, it’s a great reference to an actual real sports team too.
I just love it man. I basically wrote this whole post just so I could say New York Mankeys out loud. It’s just the kind of name that makes me giggle whenever I hear it. More of the world deserves to hear about it even if it couldn’t give a damn about Pokémon.
Now before you ask. Yes. I have had moments where I’ve tried to figure out what my Pokémon sports team name would be. Though I haven’t exactly come up with a good answer as of yet.
Incorporating my favorite Pokémon Gardevoir would be tough without stretching my location to Gardenia (though Gardenia Gardevoirs is a cool name).
I do like the sound of something like the Manhattan Beach Mimikyu, though again that requires relegating my location to somewhere I’m technically not, a city that’s my city’s rival if nothing else.
Unfortunately I’m just not sure which ‘R’ Pokémon I would use to go with Redondo. Ralts sounds a little not intimidating, though they fit the Gardevoir line love. Roserade also doesn’t seem right, despite being one of my favorites.
Also let’s be honest. As much as the Redondo Rayquaza sounds dope, I’m not sure I’d want to use a Legendary. It seems a bit cocky.
The Redondo Rhydon might work well. I have a pretty strong affection for him too, and Rhydon certainly sounds like the kind of Pokémon that could fit a sports team.
I guess if you want you can leave your suggestions in the comments below. Or you can say what teams you might be able to make using your home region. That’d be cool to hear!
In the meantime, I’ve got a five-hour livestream recap to catch up on. So I’m going to go off and do that.
In the meantime, I suppose I should come up with some kind of moral for today’s post.
If you’re a sports guy, don’t make fun of nerds that like Pokémon. Because we do wacky competitive things too.
And if you’re a Pokémon guy, don’t make fun of nerds that like sports. Because they built up a cool structure that we can do stuff with.
Let’s just all live together in harmony. Liking weird things that we all like without judgement.
There’s nothing like a parade on the Fourth of July.
Well… Actually I’m not so sure about that. It just seemed like the right cliché to start this post off with considering I’m talking about going to a parade on the Fourth of July.
To be completely honest, I think my most fond Fourth memories date back to these pool parties I used to go to at a family friend’s house. Not only was it a poolside BBQ every year, but we could all see fireworks from that yard as the night fell.
Also I have very fond recollections of playing Donkey Kong Jr. one year off of that kind of bizarre card reading attachment that existed for the GameBoy Advanced I think? That might just be a fever dream, but if nothing else it helps me associate the Fourth with DK jr.
Probably a different story for another day, though. I just wanted to punctuate my conversation about Alyson with a video game thing.
Because she loves that.
Spiteful recurring jokes aside, this 4th of July I went out past LAX to Westchester for a parade. Alyson and the RUHS band perform in this particular parade every year, and it’s my second time coming along for the ride.
Last time I went was a few years ago when I wasn’t focusing so much on the power of having a blog to spout nonsense into, though.
So I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to fill up one of my daily writing requirements.
However, I’m also spending the day with the family since it’s July 4th, so I’m going to keep it brief and just do a neat little slideshow of all the cool stuff that made its way through the parade route before RUHS performed.
Hopefully you enjoy this very non-politicized Fourth of July post. Because god knows the fervor is strong when I hear people yelling things like “take him down” at Maxine Waters, a U.S. Congresswoman, as she makes her way down the parade path.
God bless America.
Also, can’t forget the bonus recording of Aly and the band performing:
Happy birthday, America. May your founding principles continue to hopefully shine through to number 243 and beyond!
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!