Tag: Pokemon

Jason wrote a fanfic

Jason wrote a fanfic

I have been playing a LOT of Stardew Valley over the last week.

For those uninitiated members of the audience, Stardew Valley is an independent farming/life simulation game in the same vein of Harvest Moon or Animal Crossing that came out in 2016 to critical and audience acclaim.

Well-deserved acclaim at that. This is a title with some incredible pixel art design, a treasure trove of content and enough charm to reduce your Pikachu’s attack by six stages — all made by one person, ConcernedApe.

That was a Pokémon joke by the way. *marks off checklist*

I bought the game alongside my friend Samantha, who was one of my close friends to recommend it years ago when I had no time to join the fad.

We’ve gone through cycles of playing different co-operative games together in the past. From brief stints with Don’t Starve Together to an innocuous MMORPG called Aura Kingdom, as well as hundreds of hours invested in Terraria just a few summers before she moved away.

This time The Dream Team reunited for the multiplayer update to Stardew that dropped for Switch last December.

Unfortunately she’s been a little more busy with work so far this summer, and we haven’t gotten the chance to play a lot. But I started my own single-player file to learn the basics so I wouldn’t be a complete disgrace.

I fell into the game hard. I’ve been up playing until 3:00 a.m. a few more times in the last week than I’d care to admit.

Originally I intended to write a review of the game for my blog to justify all the hours I’ve poured in. But I’m three years late to the party and everything I could say has already been said.

Plus it would more or less just be hundreds of words gushing about what a mastahpiece it is, and that can’t be very exciting for a three-year-old game.

You can honestly judge for yourself based solely on the trailer:

However, something strange happened with this game.

Even though I resigned myself not to write a review, a totally different craving bore its way out of my subconscious mind after watching my single-player character get married to my Stardew love, Emily.

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Ain’t they the cutest?

There was a particular string of events and cutscenes leading up to the marriage that I thought flowed together like an unintentionally beautiful story…

And I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

My blood ached with the desire to show my adoration for the game by doing what I do best: Writing.

The other day I announce my intention to ruin my credibility by writing a Stardew Valley fanfiction, totally abandoning my original book for an afternoon to use digital ink on flourishing personal video game experiences instead.

I may or may not have managed to pound out 6,000 words.

Sometimes you just have to strike when the iron is hot. Writing is writing.

My blog post fell to the wayside as a result, but I think you’ll find it was a worthwhile sacrifice.

My quick turn-around on the fanfiction meant I was able to get it briefly edited by Mom (who I’m sure is now ashamed of that college degree [NEVAH- mom]) and posted online at fanfiction.net.

Even though the website’s posting rules meant I had to wait an extra day to get this post to you.

I’ve never used the site before, as most of my character-writing impulses have been expended via brief roleplays.

The only time I recall writing a legitimate fanfiction was a very short scene between Alela Grora and Wodahs from The Grey Garden for Sam, who also introduced me to that pseudo-visual novel RPG.

Talk about another title I’ll need to dedicate a whole post to. A particular bad end in that game haunts me to this day.

All of that is to say you get to be the lucky audience who sees my debut piece of fanfiction not counting Wattpad.

It’s pretty heavily focused on recreating scenes from the game to convey a budding romance in a grander fashion. So if you’re into that sort of thing, check it out here!

I’m past the point of shame, so there’s a genuine curiosity to know what you think.

Regardless of your thoughts, I will say the exercise was a nice break from my novel that kept me in an invigorated fiction-writing mood.

Can’t complain about that right?

My thoughts on Nintendo’s 2019 E3 Direct

My thoughts on Nintendo’s 2019 E3 Direct

I haven’t paid a lot of attention to 2019’s E3 outside of the surprise Keanu Reeves appearance, but today was Nintendo’s time to shine.

That’s all the introduction you need.

Here’s the 40-minute video. Let’s talk about it.


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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Kicking off the Direct was a flashy cinematic of Ultimate’s World of Light in which Link was rescued by The Hero, our next DLC fighter and Dragon Quest representative.

You’d think that would be the big news. Yet Nintendo had one more trick up their sleeve to conclude the Direct:

Banjo-Kazooie.

I’ve never played a DQ game or Banjo-Kazooie, but I know plenty of people who love those series and I’m happy to see them so happy.

Especially given the love and attention both fighters are getting. The Hero has multiple alternate costumes and a final smash featuring different protagonists from that series, Grant Kirkhope was involved in doing the music for Banjo…

It’s just perfect.

Masahiro Sakurai truly is the king of reviving Nintendo history, and looping in Rare was a great way to include a fighter with die-hard fans who fits in the roster far better than Minecraft Steve or Master Chief.

Great way to bookend the Direct.


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Image courtesy of My Nintendo News

Luigi’s Mansion 3

Subtitle: Hotel Mario 2?

Though I wasn’t a huge a fan of Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon compared to the original, this game looks pretty incredible. It has a creepy atmosphere directly reminiscent of Ghostbusters mixed with a Super Mario Sunshine vacation plot.

And it has built-in Gooigi multiplayer, unlike the shoed-in stuff for the Luigi’s Mansion 3DS remake.

I’m pretty into this game honestly. Especially after seeing this kaiju boss reveal Nintendo put out after the Direct:

It’s just too bad Nintendo has a billion other great games coming out, or Luigi swinging a chair around with a vacuum would be at the top of my list.


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Image courtesy of engaget

Link’s Awakening

Here’s one of those games that unfortunately pushes Luigi’s Mansion aside.

I was incredibly excited for this remake of a Zelda game I’ve always heard praised but never took the time to play when they announced it a few months back.

The new trailer didn’t show too much more than its Sept. 20 release date…

EXCEPT FOR A TOP-DOWN 2D DUNGEON CREATOR.

THE THING I LITERALLY ASKED FOR WHEN I GRADUATED:

Thanks Nintendo, you always make my dreams come true. Just be sure to add Minish Cap into the official Zelda Maker.


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Image courtesy of Nintendo UK

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

I wrote a Fire Emblem Heroes post just this morning, so of course I was going to talk about this game.

All we got today was a cinematic trailer that mostly stood out because some character had a sword that turned into a bone whip. Which is fine because we got a big gameplay trailer already.

It mainly featured lore that won’t make a ton of sense until the game releases in…

Wait, late July?

Damn, I thought I had more time. Stop making so many games I want to buy Nintendo, I’m still addicted to Stardew Valley for the next few months!


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Pokémon Sword and Shield

I wasn’t expecting any new Pokémon news after the recent Direct, but Nintendo truly is a benevolent overlord.

During the presentation we found out that the Pokéball peripheral from Let’s Go can act as a modern day Pokéwalker and that the Water-type Gym Leader will be Nessa:

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Image courtesy of Serebii.net

She’s a little derivative of Shelly from Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, but not a bad design at all.

During the Nintendo Treehouse we discovered the existence of a perfect Electric-type pup named Yamper and a little Dark/Fairy gremlin named Impidimp:

Images courtesy of Serebii.net

One of them is God’s perfect child and the other is his greatest mistake.

However, we also found out that not every Pokémon in the National Dex will be compatible with Sword and Shield, which is a step in the wrong direction after Sun and Moon already didn’t have a Pokédex entry for every monster you could collect.

Go check out Serebii’s page, because they have the full list of everything from today.


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Image courtesy of Sonic the Hedgehog on YouTube

Mario & Sonic at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Then there’s this.

Look I played the first couple Olympic crossover games with my sister and they were decent minigame collections.

But the fact that this series is still going astounds me.

Some of you would probably prefer I put Cadence of Hyrule in this major slot since it looks cool and is only $25 bucks, which definitely entices me to buy the game when it drops this Thursday in spite of never playing Crypt of the Necrodancer.

But… I just did.

So there.


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Image courtesy of Mashable

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Like Reggie Fils-Amie, I put a lot of time into Animal Crossing: New Leaf.

New Horizons not only looks like a wonderful graphical update to the series, but an update that allows for 8-player simultaneous action while potentially building a town from scratch.

That’s… Pretty god damn incredible. Definitely worth pushing the release date to March 2020!

Already Nintendo has me feeling all:

But we’re not done just yet.


The Highlight Reel

The reel always has a billion things, so let’s lightning round what stood out to me.


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Breath of the Wild 2…?

Time to address the elephant in the room.

I made a big deal out of returning to Breath of the Wild. Yet… I didn’t actually finish the whole game.

Turns out I should get moving on that again.

Breath of the Wild is getting a direct sequel, bringing it in-line with Majora’s Mask and the Wind Waker series. A sequel where Link and Zelda are going to be traveling the ravaged Hyrule together and discover some demented shit.

The trailer was just an “in development” teaser, but they sure did succeed in making it emotionally provocative. I’m curious to find out more… Though a lot of that is based on hype from my friends’ speculations.

Which means I guess I have to go finish Breath of the Wild.

Damn you, Nintendo. Quit monopolizing my time when you’re about to monopolize my time with all these new games!


Those were the big ticket items out of this E3 Direct for me, but there were a lot of smaller things that piqued my interest too.

A Final Fantasy Tactics-type game for The Dark Crystal, No More Heroes 3 with weird Star Wars jokes and Gundam fights and Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 among them. Plus the Switch is getting the return of Contra, The Witcher 3, Secret of Mana, Resident Evil 5 and 6 and a Panzer Dragoon remake.

Nintendo really knocked it out of the park this year, especially considering the rest of E3 wasn’t phenomenal from what I’ve heard.

Though was there any doubt when they began their Direct by capitalizing on the “Bowser is Nintendo of America’s new president” joke?

All they’re missing is this:

Let me know what you thought of Nintendo’s E3 Direct! What game are you most excited for?


Featured Image courtesy of Nintendo Life

Alumni business

Alumni business

While a lot of this happened yesterday, I spent extra time throwing things together for a more fleshed out blog post now.

Just after Graduation a few weeks ago, I joined the Cal State Fullerton Alumni Association.

See? Tweeted and everything to prove it.

After a good amount of time spent resting, helping with the RUHS Band’s Silent Auction and dealing with car troubles, I finally drove back to Fullerton so I could pick up the swag that comes with my membership:

  • One big Alumni tote bag
  • One sleek and silver CSUF keychain
  • One AAA membership discount coupon that I don’t really need because my family is already a long-time member
  • One Alumni Association membership card that allows me to still use on-campus services, attend different events and receive discounts
  • A collection of partially-expired vouchers with offers including more discounts and one-day parking permits
  • And finally, one fancy license plate cover:
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Edited to be social media friendly.

Part of me feels that it’s perhaps cheesy to lean into the “I’m an alum!” mentality so hard on a public-facing medium like license plates…

But at the same time I put in four years of hard work and walked off that campus with a bunch of accolades.

So I think I’m allowed to be a little cheesy.

Plus this is the first time I’ve replaced that cover since purchasing the car at least four years ago and it was kind of falling apart. Who would’ve guessed this oddball collection of gifts would already be coming in handy?

It’s just too bad I didn’t have the free parking vouchers before getting to campus yesterday, as it turns out my last parking permit expired at the end of May.

Though that expiration does offer me the chance to show off a now-complete collection of permits:

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Some of my CSUF friends will yell at me for wasting so much money…

But hey, at least I got all of these permits in before the upcoming price hike, and they makes for a cool physical manifestation of my invested time.

Even with that El Camino College permit breaking up the uniformity.

Going to Cal State Fullerton was interesting beyond just noticing my permit expiration, however. In my four years at CSUF, three of which included work on the school newspaper, I somehow never made it to the Golleher Alumni House.

I did pass by this side of the building because of its proximity to the police station and Titan Student Union:

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But imagine my surprise when it turns out that large gate wasn’t the main entrance.

Rather, I had to circle around to this entrance I’d never seen before.

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You can see the State College parking structure in the background.

Once I found my way to the entrance, there isn’t much to say about actually picking up the Alumni swag.

Luckily I anticipated that.

Part of my afternoon was devoted to writing that Pokémon Sword and Shield Direct post, but I also arranged lunch with my friend Mimi at one of her favorite restaurants in Downtown Fullerton:

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Monkey Business Cafe is a place I’ve heard many things about through publications like Tusk because of their focus on helping homeless or foster youth who may not have the opportunity to get job experience anywhere else.

I’d just never made the time to go there for whatever reason.

But now I have, and I made their burger a litmus test for how good the food is:

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Because I love me some burgers.

It was… Okay. Not a particularly special meal.

Though to be fair Mimi got waffles and those looked really good, so perhaps the joint shines more on the breakfast side of its brunch offerings.

Either way I had a good time and the meal was decently cheap. I can’t complain.

My thoughts on the June 5, 2019 Pokémon Direct

My thoughts on the June 5, 2019 Pokémon Direct

Is there anything better than waking up to Pokémon trending all over Twitter?

Especially when the series is trending because of some brand new Sword and Shield information dropped in this morning’s Pokémon Direct!

There’s a bunch to talk about, good and possibly not-as-good, so let’s jump right into what stands out the most.


The Galar Region and the Wild Area

Over the years, I’ve learned that my favorite thing about Pokémon is the world each region helps to create. A world that’s similar to ours but flourishing with fantastical elements on account of the creatures roaming through it.

Unova, Kalos and Alola made this especially apparent as Game Freak experimented with landmarks and traditions from places outside of Japan to great effect.

For all its faults, I have to commend Alola for its Hawaii/pacific island setting. Gen 7’s theme song was a perfect tone setter.

The theme song for the UK-based Galar Region heard in this and the last Direct is a bit more generic, but aesthetically the world looks like series of a watercolor paintings on the graphically superior Nintendo Switch.

The trainer models also look far better than the flat-faced happy trainers in Alola, and fist bumping Scorbunny helped me settle on my starter.

Hands down the best thing we learned about the Galar Region today is the existence of the “Wild Area.”

The Wild Area is ostensively a Breath of the Wild-esque open world that connects towns with free-roaming movement and camera controls. It also has overworld wild Pokémon like Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee who change via environment and time of day.

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Image courtesy of serebii.net

Also it has local multiplayer roaming elements. Need I say more?

Luckily Galar’s human inhabitants don’t seem too bad either.

 

Images courtesy of Serebii.net

Professor Magnolia is an obvious Queen Elizabeth reference and the first female Professor since Juniper, while her Granddaughter Sonia…

Already has a lot of smut drawn of her.

Because she’s really cute and that’s how the internet does.

 

Images courtesy of Serebii.net

Meanwhile Hop is our generic rival/friend-type who has a name eerily similar to both Hau and Hugh… Because Game Freak loves rivals with ‘H’ names apparently.

His older brother is Leon, the region champion and person Hop wants to defeat.

Personally I think the gameplay themes of Pokémon could have been utilized better if Leon was your character’s brother that you aspire to beat. But early revealing a beloved, undefeated champion with links to other major characters possibly sets up a fun secret villain twist.

Or maybe he’ll be Henry VII like I said earlier:


New Pokémon

That’s enough about boring people. In today’s Direct we got to meet new Pokémon.

Glossifleur and Eldegoss

 

Images courtesy of serebii.net

The signature line of Galar’s gym leader Milo, Glossifleur and Eldegoss are cute in their own right.

I’m not enamored with them necessarily, but the fact that they have Regenerator as an ability means we can probably expect to see a little meta action out of them if their stats are decent.

Wooloo

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Image courtesy of serebii.net

He’s a fluffy sheep and he rolls around like Sonic.

Not sure I need to say anything else about this beloved Normal-type.

Corviknight

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Image courtesy of serebii.net

Corviknight is easily the big winner of today’s Direct.

This super rad armored raven is a killer Steel/Flying-type that puts Skarmory to shame and has the hilarious role of being intertown fast travel.

I’d let this boy caw in my face and fly me to a new place in a heartbeat.

Drednaw

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Image courtesy of serebii.net

I’ll admit, I’m not a huge fan of Drednaw.

It’s typing and abilities are decent, but something about the design is a little too… Rough around the edges for me.

Four out of five ain’t bad.

All of the new and returning Pokémon will interact with the world, either free in the Wild Area or playing hopscotch with NPCs like we see a Wynaut in the trailer.

I can’t emphasize how much I love that aspect of these games.

However, there are two Pokémon that astute viewers will notice I’ve missed. Unfortunately they comprise the first negative thing I have to say.


The Legendaries

 

Images courtesy of serebii.net

Meet Zacian and Zamazenta, the Legendary Pokémon of Galar.

Zacian is a good boy who runs around with a sword in his mouth and I love him.

Zamazenta is literally the exact same Pokémon but carrying a different weapon.

Whose decision was it to make the Legendary Pokémon so similar? I could see there being lore about the same Pokémon with different held items, but Cosmog kind of just did that idea. And Solgaleo/Lunala at least weren’t a bland duo.

Maybe they would have worked in a Rome-themed Region playing off of Romulus and Remus. But as it stands I’m ambivalent at best.


Dynamax

Pokémon changes mechanics frequently to keep things fresh.

Up to Gen 4’s physical/special move split, most of those changes were integral to underlying battle mechanisms that evolved the games.

Mega Evolution in Gen 6 was arguably the first “spectacle” battle mechanic — if you don’t count Chatot in Gen 4 or the sometimes still relevant Triple Battles.

Megas were a selling point by all accounts, something unique to Kalos. But it was a tastefully handled gimmick that gave old favorites new potential and meshed well with series’ themes of bonding with Pokémon. It remains popular.

Much less tastefully handled was Gen 7’s Z-Moves that provided a once-per-battle super attack which was only interesting when tied to a handful of unique Pokémon.

They were situational and not nearly as well conceived.

Now we have Dynamaxing: A similar limited-per-battle gimmick that turns Pokémon giant and essentially gives them a full set of Z-Moves for three turns.

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Image courtesy of serebii.net

I like some aspects of the Dynamax system, but overall I believe it could do more harm than good.

In the Wild Area, local co-op allows trainers to take on Dynamax Pokémon together.

This is cool, but I hope co-op isn’t limited to it. The main selling point of Dynamax Raids is encountering Pokémon you can’t find otherwise, but you’ll need a little more to impress a 22-year-old Pokémon scholar who already owns every creature.

They also appear to be giving every gym leader the ability to Dynamax, and I love the idea of making tougher challenges with unique mechanics. Like how Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire used Mega Evolution in its Pokémon League.

But Kaiju Pokémon are more restrictive than Megas design-wise.

Every gym in Galar will be a soccer stadium with an open ceiling for these Dynamax transformations. The developers use this to emphasize an idea of battling as spectator sport in Galar, but uniform gyms remove the uniqueness of a palace designed by its inhabitants from earlier games.

Part of why I love Black and White 2 is because every gym was unique down to the remix of the same theme for each building. That was awesome, and we might lose that uniqueness because of Dynamaxing.


And that, ladies and mentlegen, is today’s Sword and Shield info dump.

I might not be super impressed with Dynamax or the game’s Legendaries, but I’m still incredible stoked for new Pokémon games.

And I’m stoked to talk about about the build-up to them!

This post didn’t even touch on enhancements to Sun and Moon’s RotomDex, or my fan theory that the train system in Galar looks incredible similar to the unused train station of Couriway Town in Kalos.

Let me know all your thoughts about Pokémon Sword and Shield somewhere on the Internet, because lord knows I’ll be thinking of nothing else for the next week!

She’s Mythic and divine

She’s Mythic and divine

In Fire Emblem, some of Humanity’s greatest heroes wield a legendary weapon known as the Falchion that is imbued with the power to cut through dark forces and the dragons who often wreck havoc.

Alm, the Saint-King of Valentia, bore Falchion when he struck down a being of pure chaotic power.

Marth, the Hero-King of Archanea, bore another version when he saved the realm from a wizard who hoped to abuse the strength of the Divine Dragons.

Ylissian Exalt Chrom took his ancestor Marth’s blade to fight the Fell Dragon Grima, and Chrom’s daughter Lucina brought a Parallel Falchion back from her doomed future to help change fate.

Those descendants of the Hero-King were marked with a Brand of the Exalt to show the holy bloodline they inherited from Naga: King of the Divine Dragons who created those legendary blades in her ultimate benevolence toward humans.

Despite lacking the power to create, many consider Naga the world’s creation deity.


Naga: Dragon Divinity


Naga’s history in Fire Emblem lore ties back to one idea: Killing malevolent dragons.

Her skill set as the first Astra Mythic Hero in Fire Emblem Heroes reflects this idea perfectly.

She flies in (reminiscent of her appearance in Fire Emblem Awakening) and grants every adjacent ally effectiveness against dragon foes. For each ally with that descriptor she receives a boost to all of her stats.

That’s her entire gimmick. It’s an interesting and likely effective one, but narrowly focused toward players who actively seek competitive online matches.

Though to be fair her A Skill refers specifically to Aether Raids, so she’s obviously meant to appear in online modes of battle.

I happen to not be very focused on the Player-versus-Player aspects of Heroes, so Naga is more interesting to me on account of her lore than her battle prowess.

Yet she comes with a good enough entourage — particularly on blue stones — for me to like her banner quite a bit:

Every stone on this banner is decent for me except colorless, where I’m only missing Velouria.

Out of the rest I only had Eirika, Hector and Lyn before summoning. Blue was the most exciting between Naga and that Legendary Tiki who has eluded me for months, but I wouldn’t have been upset with too many of the summons here.

Luckily I wound up getting a great case scenario using the orbs I’ve saved up over a few banners.

I didn’t get Naga, but I got these two:

Tiki is worthwhile by herself, especially given her +Atk nature. I don’t feel particularly compelled to spend any more time on this banner as a result.

Though if I did feel compelled, at least there are a few more orbs to nab off of this Mythic Battle Map:

Fighting her on Grima’s back in the reverse position of Legendary Grima’s battle map is a nice touch Intelligent Systems.

A very nice touch.


All-and-all this is a pretty great Mythic Banner. An interesting main hero, a solid collection surrounding her and not many orbs spent.

Though in my opinion it’s hilarious to think about how Naga was put in the game now when there are still hundreds of characters to power creep her in the future.

Just imagine some low-level hero completely outclassing the Divine Dragon King.

Thus is the curse of a gatcha game, I suppose. It’ll be interesting to see how Game Freak handles a presumably similar concept with Pokémon Masters announced for later this year.

But that’s a series of blog posts for another day.

In the meantime, let me know what you think about Mythic Naga! I can only imagine Mila will be our next character in this category, but recently playing Sacred Stones again makes me want that game’s Demon King too. We’ll have to see where it goes.

Analyzing animation and Pokémon

Analyzing animation and Pokémon

After dealing with the mental gymnastics of drama retroactively changing content appreciation, it’s nice to find some new YouTube personalities to enjoy.

You may think replaying Sacred Stones would sate my appetite for entertainment, but the game’s weakest point is its soundtrack. I pointed that out in my essay, and it proved to be true.

So I looked for things to listen to while playing, and my newest obsession has been a series on Pokémon typings from Lockstin & Gnoggin.

There’s actually a somewhat interesting history behind my discovery of this series.

The channel’s “Every Pokémon Type Explained” has been recommended to me by the platform a number of times. Each episode was recognizable from a uniform thumbnail with black borders around images of different Pokémon with clickbait-y text suggesting they should NOT be that typing.

It always seemed over-the-top for my tastes, so I never watched any part of the series.

Cue life lesson about not judging a book by its cover.

As fate would have it, I intersected with the channel again through a collaboration they did with the animation channel TerminalMontage.

TerminalMontage is another fairly recent addition to my watch list, but became a favorite thanks to his “something about” series where the plots of video games are just torn apart with a goofy cartoon style and memes.

I’m particularly a fan of any Star Fox-related video, as he leans hard into the Super Smash Bros. Melee meta Fox who jolts around with the sounds of a GameCube controller clicking in the background.

Makes me laugh literally every time.

Brilliant stuff if you’re into fast, purposefully random comedy.

His recent animation depicting a Fortnite-style battle royale featuring Legendary Pokémon really caught my attention.

Like his prior Pokémon battle royale video, it was full of interesting deep cuts that made me want to know more about the thought process behind putting the project together.

So this time I paid attention when they recommended watching Lockstin’s breakdown of the Legendary Pokémon battle royale. Because he helped plan the videos.

I enjoyed his style of commentary and seemingly well-calcified knowledge of Pokémon lore. Thus, I finally bit the bullet and started watching the typing videos I’d put off.

In essence each video takes one of the 18 types (minus two as of my writing this) and tries to divide each Pokémon of that type into categories of real-life equivalence. And yes, he does actually indicate which ones might not belong. Clickbait justified.

For instance the rock-type video divides monsters into living rocks or beings that adorn rocks, and further breaks down what kind of real mineral each Pokémon represents.

Meanwhile the ghost-type video (in lieu of real-world science) breaks down every monster into what mythological legend or ghost story they represent.

It’s a really interesting and analytical series about what many probably consider an innocuous franchise. I appreciate the depth and flashy style of editing that shows a lot of care on the production’s back-end.

As a result, that’s my recommendation for the day. I’m always a fan of pointing out great content where I find it… And I really don’t have that much else to talk about tonight.

But stay tuned.

Tomorrow I will complete my video game/YouTube/movie media trifecta with a review of a little movie I’m going to see called John Wick: Chapter 3.

And boy I’m excited!

My new Let’s Play channel

My new Let’s Play channel

What’s up, gamers. T1meslayer here with a channel update for all y’all.

A few months ago I launched a series of toy unboxing videos with my sister that has gone on to achieve great acclaim. That first video has almost 100 views, and that not-LEGO Mimikyu was a star in my class’ Dungeons and Dragons campaign.

Our YouTube community has reached amazing heights, and I couldn’t be more proud of you all for helping me get to the coveted 1 subscriber milestone.

That’s why I’ve decided to launch a new project.

I’ll be going toe-to-toe with industry greats like the Game Grumps and Markiplier through my brand new gameplay channel: T1meslayer plays.

As you know I’m a huge Nintendo fanatic, so that’s going to be my primary focus. In fact, we’re starting off with one of my favorite titles on the GameBoy Advance. Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones (2004).

To help stand out from my competitors, I’m taking a new approach to YouTube gaming that I like to call “non-chronological let’s plays.”

We’ve all seen the first levels of certain games played a dozen times as new channels start to play, only to collapse under the weight of mediocrity before they get to the end.

I’m going to solve that problem by starting with Episode 5 and then jumping around.

So if you’re up to going on this journey with me, you can see the first episode of my series here:

Thanks so much for sticking by me during this turbulent time as I get ready to graduate. Like, comment and subscribe to see what’s coming next!



Alright. Obviously I don’t have a gaming channel.

Sorry to disappoint those of you who might be interested in watching that cringe-fest.

This let’s play video is actually one of the final assignments for my Gaming in American Culture class. We had to essentially parody the YouTube video game scene to try and convey some ideas we’re focusing on in our papers.

My paper is all about Sacred Stones, so my let’s play is an episode of what would be my Sacred Stones playthrough.

It was a nightmare actually putting this together (as one might expect when trying to pull an 18-minute video off of their iPhones to edit on a 10-year-old laptop), but I actually really like how it came out?

Like sure, I’m terrible on camera. And technology was so difficult that I skipped blog writing yesterday. But I cut out dead air and added an editorial commentary track to inject some humor, I think it’s a nice piece.

Nice enough to share publicly, at least.

Yet sharing the video is bittersweet. This is literally my penultimate college assignment. All I have left is the final paper for this same class.

Today was my last day of college ever — and it also happened to be my Gaming in American Culture.

Learned about some interesting things from these presentations. In sports especially, like the existence of pickleball and the beer mile.

The latter of which makes me happy that I don’t drink.

“Bittersweet” is really the best way I can describe my feelings. I’m happy to move onto the next stage in my life, especially since I can share the celebration with my family — particularly my grandparents from Florida, who both flew in together for the first time since my Bar Mitzvah.

Almost 10 years ago. Yikes.

But at the same time I have genuinely enjoyed my time in Academia, and the idea of finding a real job still terrifies me.

You don’t have to worry yourself with that part of my psyche, however. For the next couple days I’ll probably be posting all sorts of positive things on social media to try and convince you all that my life is nothing but wonderful.

Because that’s really what social media is all about, isn’t it?

In the meantime, enjoy my cringe-y let’s play.

Please.

I’m proud of it.

Detective Pikachu made my heart swell

Detective Pikachu made my heart swell

Move over, Endgame.

You might have ended a decade of MCU movies, but Detective Pikachu played to my 20-years of investment in the subjectively best video game series of all time.

My development as a person and writer was kick-started by Mom teaching me to read with the text in Pokémon Crystal. I’ve been waiting for this movie ever since.

So, the objective side of my cinephilia can critique a few key issues. But that doesn’t take away from Rob Letterman giving me the breathing Pokémon society — focusing on more than just prodigal, battling children — that I’ve always wanted.

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Image courtesy of IMDb

Detective Pikachu follows accountant Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) as he confronts the death of his mother and resulting alienation of his father after the man goes missing in a utopian city designed for Pokémon to coincide with humans.

He does so with the help of a talking Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds — clearly channeling Deadpool while still grounded in this source material) and aspiring investigative reporter Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton).

To be blunt, Detective Pikachu is bloated with clichés.

It mimics film noir and buddy cop tropes, such as a boy who needs to learn to love again and his amnesiac animal partner. There are also multiple plot points throughout the movie’s two-hour run you’ve seen before:

  • The shady, experimenting corporation.
  • The blossoming love between main (human) characters.
  • The incidents with a substance that causes loss of control (ala Zootopia).

Besides a surprise twist in the third act, the overall situations are well-worn. Yet the actors keep them from feeling stale.

Reynolds made me love the overplayed series mascot I usually scoff at. He’s snarky, heartfelt and delivers some solid (seemingly improvised) jokes.

Minor spoiler: At one point, he sings a depressed rendition of the original anime theme song, and it’s worth the price of admission alone.

Reynolds and Smith sell the buddy cop bit, and I liked Smith and Newton’s chemistry as well — especially since their burgeoning romance ended without a dramatic kiss.

Smith carried the movie handily, surprisingly so given my lukewarm reception to Fallen Kingdom. I really enjoyed his character arc and relationship with Pikachu that shined during a heart-to-heart mid-way through the film.

That scene in particular also has a gorgeous shot where Smith’s stoic face during a sad story is betrayed by a tear that makes the neon city lights outline his cheek.

Detective Pikachu had surprisingly pretty cinematography in my opinion, outside of some shots that relied too heavily on shaky dissolves and off-center angles for my taste.

On top of that, I never once felt like the CGI Pokémon were out of place. They always seemed believably real in the living people’s arms.

Granted I might be predisposed to believing in real-life Pokémon because of my history and encyclopedic knowledge with the series. But my sister (who saw the movie with me) is less of a hardcore fan and didn’t report any concerns.

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We had a blast going together!

Ironically, I felt like the Pokémon CGI was masterful in-part because a lot of the practical effects were… Real bad? Most of the actors looked like they were slipping around on wires during action scenes.

But for me, that was barely a concern in light of the respect Detective Pikachu shows fans of the series in its overt and subtle references.

Alongside the anime’s theme song, most of the music throughout the film sounded like it could have come from the Sinnoh or Unova region games.

There are dozens of the 800+ Pokémon appearing as live models (both the recognizable Pikachu and less conventional Treeckos or Purrloins) and set-pieces (some favorites being the Latios and Latias stickers in Tom’s room, and a store named after Whismur).

Their appearances are true to established lore as well, with Charizard weakened as someone stomps on its tail flame and Slaking almost exclusively loafing around.

Mewtwo‘s powers are a less traditional example that sticks out, but even that strange treatment plays into an unexpected plot point that I enjoyed. Plus, they nailed the legendary Pokémon’s origin with an interesting new angle.

People who are not a fan of the games or anime may be somewhat lost. It immediately drops audiences in and lets most references quickly fly by. Yet enough is explained for the public to follow its plot, and the movie is funny regardless of pre-existing knowledge.

You might get more out of some jokes if you know Mr. Mime, for instance, but even if you don’t his scenes have some great slapstick with effective sound effects.

Frankly, I’m not sure what else I can say.

I’m obviously biased, but the movie is just as obviously tailored toward fans like me. From that perspective, I wholeheartedly recommend Detective Pikachu from my three-year-old heart and from the highly knowledgeable dork I am today.

But the movie also has enough family-friendly elements and appeal for non-super-fans. Some of the effects aren’t perfect, and the overall package leans on clichés, but the cast and world-building do more than enough to make up for it.

I had a blast seeing this movie with my sister. It’s a master class in video game adaptations — One that’s very much needed in the face of Sonic the Hedgehog and Angry Birds 2.

Go see it, so we can get more live action Pokémon movies. And cards to go with them:

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You won’t see a TCG fan like me complaining.

Art vs. The Artist

Art vs. The Artist

A few weeks ago, I quoted the YouTuber ProJared in my Gaming in American Culture essay.

The crux of my research has been the effects of Japanese Role-Playing Games on the West. In his Final Fantasy Mystic Quest video, ProJared argues that Japanese developers questioned the competence of the outside world, which led to fewer localizations.

It was a valuable insight for my piece, and I was proud to include his video alongside The Geek Critique in my research material.

YouTube has been a huge part of my life, and I try to promote creators. They don’t have near the notoriety of television and movie stars, yet there is great content worth sharing.

After The Completionist, ProJared has been my favorite part of the “NormalBoots crew” for some time. I enjoyed his style, as well as his opinions on video and tabletop games.

I even recently talked about him pulling me back to the Pokémon Trading Card Game.

It’s a parasocial interaction at heart. I wouldn’t say I idolized him or any other YouTuber in an unhealthy way, but the respect and support I show toward those pseudo-celebrities help inspire me to create, and keep the often dreary day-to-day bearable.

This is all to say that I started from an inherently biased position in this conversation.

If you’ve been on Twitter, you already know about how ProJared’s life imploded in a matter of hours. It’s been the #1 trending topic for almost a full day.

If you’re reading this in the future, you can catch up with this Kotaku article.

In spite of how public the issue has become thanks to the people involved, it’s a very private affair that I honestly have no right involving myself with.

The only place I can speak from is that of a former fan whose respect for an online figure has evaporated in an unexpected instant.

A philosophical concern has been weighing heavy on me since late last night:

How much joy are you able to retain from a figure you used to respect — and followed for years — in the time before their skeletons were out of the closet?

This issues with parasocial interactions aren’t new. Bill Cosby and Michael Jackson are two relatively recent examples of celebrities whose actions have begged the question, “how much we should separate the artist from their art?”

But YouTubers are more prominent for me, and tend to be “famous” in smaller communities that they interact with more to create relationships.

I’ve grappled with the recent downfalls of a few people I followed actively.

Just a month before ProJared, TheKingNappy (a Pokémon YouTuber of some acclaim) also received accusations that dampened my enthusiastic support and led to his disappearance from the Internet.

In each of those cases, I’m plenty willing to move on and continue supporting other wonderful creators. But that doesn’t mean their removal is painless.

My immediate reaction to each scandal was almost exactly the same:

  • “What will happen to Nappy’s current Soul Link with ShadyPenguinn?”

Followed by…

  • “There goes the rest of Jared’s Super Metroid/Link to the Past randomizer.”

The thoughts of a spurred fan seem uncalled for, even selfish considering the people who have been genuinely hurt in real life.

And I by no means hope to disparage the victims in these stories because “they took my favorite YouTubers away.”

Yet I believe the reason these thoughts spring to mind are important.

I have given years to some of these personalities, and their current endeavors thrive because of the respect and trust they’ve engendered in this parasocial interaction.

ProJared’s videos have meant enough to me that I thought to quote him in an academic capacity. Plus, he’s also one of the main reasons I started playing Monster Hunter.

TheKingNappy, in a similar vein, introduced me to a community that has foster further love for my favorite series of video games. He’s why I’ve played Pokémon Conquest and the GameBoy TCG title.

All of the times I’ve enjoyed their work and respected their opinions are still there. But now, they seem tainted — it’s hard to come to terms with that.

How much can I still appreciate the time invested in retrospect?

How much can one separate the art from the artist in light of new, changed opinions?

I don’t have an answer to this question. But I think it’s worth posing, because my mindset has honestly contributed to the stressful situation of my last semester at college.

If anyone out there has any insight into this dilemma, I’d love to field some ideas.

The Super Smash Bros. Cinematic Universe

The Super Smash Bros. Cinematic Universe

As many of you have seen, a trailer for Paramount’s upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog movie dropped today.

It’s terrifying.

But more than it is terrifying, the trailer feels frustrating. There’s a whole lot of missed potential from what I can see as a casual fan of the series, and I spent a fair amount of time ranting about it on Twitter:

The memes have been fun. Yet I can’t help but wonder how Sega let Sonic take this hit with Detective Pikachu showing us what video game movies are capable of—

Oh. Right.

Well anyway, as my friends and I spent the morning looking at Sonic, Jonathan brought to our attention an interesting take.

Much like Sonic’s obscene baby teeth and gross, gangly baby legs, I couldn’t stop thinking about the idea of a Super Smash Bros. Cinematic Universe.

Or, the SSBCU, as any sane individual would call it.

My friends’ discord group became flooded with suggestions on what could conceivably be included to flesh out the universe. By the end of the day, I fell in love with the idea of putting this list together!

But I wasn’t able to come up with everything on my own.

So let’s consider this post a work in progress, and a call to arms.

I have a collection of what movies should count in the SSBCU, some that I think could be surrogate “analog” entries in retrospect, and other media that could be related.

I’ll list them out with character confirmations based on Nintendo’s official listing.

If you have any ideas on how to flesh the list out, let me know! I think the idea is great and I would love to keep it going.


Confirmed Entries

Super Mario Bros. (1993)

You know it, you love it. Illumination may be working on an animated Mario movie, but until then we’ve got this classic of terrible cinema to fill out a whole lot of fighters. Just tell me you don’t want to see Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo beat up CGI Pokémon in an Avengers-style crossover.

  • Fighters: Mario (1), Yoshi (5), Luigi (9), Peach (13), Daisy (13e), Bowser (14)

Sonic the Hedgehog (2019)

The terror that started it all. This movie is probably going to be an utter disaster… But that means it’s also probably a blast to watch. Like a car crash after your blue cadillac haphazardly rolls around at the speed of sound. Sonic is Mario’s eternal rival, so he deserves a bad movie too.

  • Fighters: Sonic (38)

Detective Pikachu (2019)

This movie looks brilliant. Full stop. And I can conceivably throw in every Pokémon representative, so it’s a catch-all. I’ll even include Pokémon trainer, because despite the Red analog not being a character in Detective Pikachu, the Kanto starters are all there.

  • Fighters: Pikachu (8), Pichu (19), Mewtwo (24), Pokémon Trainer (33-35), Lucario (41), Greninja (50), Incineroar (69)

Street Fighter (1994)

Bet you forgot this movie existed. Well you’ll be happy to know that Ryu and Ken are in this terrible picture via Byron Matt and Damian Chapa, so you can picture them punching Bob Hoskins in the face!

For real though, can you believe Ming-Na Wen went from being Chun-Li to Mulan four years later? What a glow up.

  • Fighters: Ryu (60), Ken (60e)

Mega Man movie (????)

Keeping on the Capcom train, this is apparently a movie that’s in production. Thus the blue bomber gets to hang out with the squad!

  • Fighters: Mega Man (46)

Monster Hunter (2020)

What’s that? You really like the Capcom train? Well, lucky for you there’s a Monster Hunter movie staring Milla Jovovich in our future. There’s technically no fighter from this series, but Rathalos was added in Ultimate. So maybe there’s room for a cameo?

  • Fighters: DLC fighter, hopefully?

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (2005)

Alright, I’ll stop messing around. Here’s a not hypothetical entry on the list. I considered not including Cloud because this is a purely animated movie… But if Pikachu and Sonic can be “live action” fighters, why not Angst McGiantSword?

Plus his alternate costumes in Smash are literally based on this movie. So.

  • Fighters: Cloud (61)

Analog Movies

Alien (1979) or Aliens (1986)

Depending on your preference for horror or action sci-fi.

I don’t know if we’re ever going to get a Metroid movie. Samus would be a great candidate for the SSBCU’s Wonder Woman or Captain Marvel-esque leading female character, but in the meantime Sigourney Weaver seems like a damn fine addition.

Plus Ridley is literally a homage to Ridley Scott, so baby teeth Sonic can fight a Xenomorph Queen.

  • Fighters: Samus (4), Dark Samus (4e), Zero Suit Samus (29), Ridley (65)

Fast and the Furious

As someone who has never played an F-Zero game, I can confidently say that the ridiculously over-the-top Fast and the Furious franchise would be a perfect analog.

But in this case I’m going to say Furious 6 (2013) in particular because that’s when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson joined and he’s the perfect Captain Falcon.

Courtesy of wwe.com and SSB Wiki

Just saying.

  • Fighters: Captain Falcon (11)

Inception (2010)

Joker from Persona 5 just got added into Smash Ultimate. I know next to nothing about the game, but I do know it involves going into people’s memories to plant ideas or find secrets.

Sounds a lot like Inception to me. Add Leo DiCaprio into the SSBCU!

He can probably pull off that anime twink look in his Gangs of New York era.

  • Fighters: Joker (71)

King Kong (1933) or Rampage (2018)

King Kong is the obvious choice to get Donkey Kong into the SSBCU. A somewhat sentient ape who kidnaps ladies and climbs up buildings? That may as well be the original arcade game’s script. Even if there isn’t much in the way for Diddy or K. Rool.

Though for my money, I’d also recommend using Rampage. Not only is it based on a video game and has a crocodile, but the fact that The Rock stars means we can turn the film into a retroactive Thor: Ragnarok-esque team up staring Falcon and DK.

  • Fighters: Donkey Kong (2), King K. Rool (67)

Related Media

Castlevania (2017)

Every other object on this list is a movie.

But Marvel got away with putting more characters into the MCU by having The Defenders series on Netflix.

So Nintendo can get away with putting more characters into the SSBCU by making the Castlevania series on Netflix its own Defenders. Not sure if Simon or Richter are featured, but whatever.

  • Fighters: Simon (66), Richter (66e)

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (2008)

This game is basically a movie, right?

  • Fighters: Snake (31)

Fighters Featured: 31

Total Fighters: 82


Ehhh?

This section is the lightning round for ideas my friends and I tossed around that are either jokes or so weird that I honestly couldn’t count them

  • Game of Thrones as Fire Emblem representation? Don’t know enough about GoT to accurately parse that out, but I’m willing to mention it for SEO purposes.
  • The Legend of Zelda T.V. series was floated around, but I’m not sure I take that as seriously as Castlevania to be extended material. Zelda deserves a flagship movie.
  • My friend Mitchell suggested playing 127 Hours on two separate televisions, with one version color corrected to give James Franco a blue shirt. It’s the only way I can conceivably include Ice Climbers, so I’ll mention it here.