Tag: Twitter

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

Fire Emblem: Days of Future Past

Fire Emblem: Days of Future Past

Within a few days, Intelligent Systems announced the 3.6.0 Update to Fire Emblem Heroes — which includes “revival banners” for discontinued 5 Star heroes — and this Awakening child unit banner.

Considering the 2019 summer-themed heroes are right around the corner, I have come to the conclusion that the developers just desperately want our wallets.

I can’t help but bemoan the fact that these units are pretty worth the investment despite those incoming banners I’d also like to use.


Summoning Focus: From a Future Past


Part of me hopes this banner is a pseudo-reference to X-Men: Days of Future Past so Fire Emblem can cash in on X-Men: Dark Phoenix being in theaters… Despite the shlock Dark Pheonix turned out to be.

But I digress.

Nah is the headliner for this banner, and a fairly worthwhile one. Oracle’s Breath is undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with.

She and Yarne are also some of my favorite child units. Yarne and Morgan are top five Awakening ships for me, so I’m more than willing to pull for him — which is good considering he’s a speedy boi between the Solo, Wave and Galeforce skills.

Kjelle and Brady are less significant characters to me personally and they have weaker skill sets.

But I am a fan of Kjelle and Owain… Despite Owain going to Nohr and becoming Odin, who I ship with Camilla.

I like her with Severa too, yet Severa also goes to Nohr so it’s the same problem.

That returning trio in Fates really screwed up my shipping charts. Hopefully that doesn’t happen in Three Houses.

Also Cynthia is coming soon. I didn’t connect with her in Awakening, but I’ve warmed to her confident demeanor over time.

Her descriptive text in Heroes is a perfect example why:

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Isn’t that amazing?

Luckily there’s a Forging Bonds event to give us some free summon tickets, because that should supplement the orbs out of this story chapter so I can save up for Lute… Or Genny… Or the summer units.


Book III, Chapter 8 — Truth of a Name

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At the start of this chapter, the Order of Heroes continue exploring the destroyed Ask from Chapter 7. They want to find out what happened to it, as that may provide clues on how to stop Hel.

Along the way they encounter Líf twice. The first time he almost kills Alfonse, but is stopped by Sharena.

Don’t worry about that. Foreshadowing.

As is the second encounter where Eir tries to find out what memories were wiped away by her mother.

There are a few bland encounters with Awakening kids that conclude in a library.

The Order discovers that this Askr was destroyed in a future timeline when they teamed up with Embla to enact yet another deus ex machina Rite that makes Hel vulnerable…

At the cost of all the lives in both kingdoms.

Bodes well for whenever Princess Veronica and Loki show up.

After that exposition dump, the final battle features Líf as its boss. Once he is defeated Alfonse goes Sherlock Holmes on our asses and deduces:

Líf has actually been doomed future Alfonse all along! Which means that Thrasir is probably Veronica, both of whom became Hel’s generals after they died trying to stop her.

Feh Plot Meme

So I guess now we get a ‘change the doomed future’ arc.

Fitting set-up for a Chapter that features the Awakening children.


Intelligent Systems just had to schedule this update for the same day as Nintendo’s E3 presentation.

It’s clever. Pick up that search activity.

Unfortunately, staying up late to write this will make me less likely to catch the 9:00 a.m. presentation live. Not that I really mind as the video will be online, so I’m still planning on writing a post about my thoughts on that.

At least Fire Emblem finally pulled my head out of Stardew Valley.

Because like I predicted… It has me hooked. Hard.

Anyway, let me know what you think of the new Awakening children! Hopefully the upcoming banners don’t completely overshadow them.

Six years of progress

Six years of progress

Here’s a fun fact for all of you computer enthusiasts:

I’ve been using the same MacBook Air for everything since late high school. A MacBook Air that I inherited from my Dad.

That he got in 2010.

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Yikes

Needless to say I’ve been in the market for an upgrade. That laptop may have served me well, but it was getting long in the tooth. Slow processing to the point of freezing, difficulty running complex programs and video games… You name it.

When I graduated, my parents asked what kind of gift they could get me to celebrate. I asked if I could get a new laptop, something to benefit my workflow as I transition out of academia.

Dad managed to snag this 2016 MacBook Air that was coming out of circulation at work:

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2016 may seem outdated for a lot of you that prefer to keep on the razor’s edge of technology, but for me it’s a ridiculous leap forward.

Writing and uploading the photos for this blog post has been the smoothest process in three years, for instance.

The background image changes depending on the time of day.

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That appeases me in a deep-rooted, giggly kind of way. Like jangling keys in front of a baby.

And I have at least five times the storage space on this machine:

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I don’t know how I’ll ever fill 500 Gigabytes.

While I’ve only been using the new laptop for about eight hours or so, it has more than justified itself. Which is good considering how much of a pain it was to set the damn thing up.

Dad and I tried to directly transfer all of the information from my old machine to the new one, that way I wouldn’t lose files or progress on anything going on.

We started up the transfer when I went to work with him yesterday, as I would be joining him later that night for poker at his friend Don’s house.

You can see my whole Twitter thread on that experience here because…

It was special.

There were a good six or so hours spent at his office in Beverly Hills before we went to poker, and we set up the computers early hoping to finish before leaving.

Nothing really panned out the way we expected.

Some combination of not cleaning the old machine’s data enough, the hubris of assuming we could have both laptops connect to my iPhone’s wifi hotspot or who knows what else led to an extended transfer time.

We spent a whole lot of time watching the time estimate fluctuate between 20 minutes and 37 hours.

As a result I wasn’t able to spend any of the time at Fandango doing things on my computer, such as work on my novel. Plus my phone was less useful than usual because I couldn’t wear headphones when we plugged it in.

Luckily I brought my 3DS (because I’m still playing Sacred Stones), but that eventually ran out of battery.

The transfer wound up taking so long that we carried both computers out of the building while they were still open, and I looked like a nut during our drive with two laptops open while I played on my phone.

I only had to moonlight as a technophile hacker for a bit of the drive before the process finished, luckily enough.

Because of poker I couldn’t play around with the machine until this morning.

But now that I have, I think it’s time to use the improved processing power to finally make good on returning to a few things from my youth.

Starting with a little browser-based game called:

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Hopefully tomorrow, assuming I don’t get too caught up playing this game I just bought with my friend Sam.

But that too will be a story for another day.

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!

Stars full of Jazz in 2019

Stars full of Jazz in 2019

Last year I wrote a post about Alyson’s end-of-year Jazz Under the Stars concert. It’s a yearly event that is a lot of fun because you get to see the students at their peak and raise some money for the arts.

But this year Jazz Under the Stars was a bit more hectic for the Rochlins, since we were in charge of the silent auction.

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I say “we,” but all the credit goes to my Mom and Dad for picking up the project a week or two before the event to help a band program struggling with administrative issues. They rallied together 50 items comprised of even more bundled contributions and stayed up until 5:00 a.m. printing the sign-up sheets and programs.

All I did was help organize the goods and watch the auction tables that I helped set up and tear down.

Oh, and I did some social media stuff while I was at it:

Current estimates are that we made about $2,570 for the Band & Dance Guard, which is a fantastic achievement for how quickly the auction was pulled together.

Seriously, I’m beyond impressed with my parents. They’ll deserve every ounce of sleep they get after pushing so hard.

The students also made out well in the end with $45,000 granted by the Redondo Beach Educational Foundation and the Ahmanson Foundation.

The band director, Raymundo Vizcarra, obviously seemed happy.

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Here he is chatting up some auction browsers — including my parents.

But that’s just the money-side of the event. Naturally there was food: A mobile taco vendor, shaved ice and (my personal favorite) fried twist potatoes.

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Potate

You’re not here for the food, though. That doesn’t work well over text.

You’re here for the music.

A number of different bands performed throughout the night. The Adams Middle School Band, the Redondo Union High School Jazz Bands (A + B) and combinations of the various bands with alumni.

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The final song of the night, “Willowcrest,” was particularly special. It had a god damn bongo solo that actually rocked pretty hard.

But more importantly it featured a flute solo by my little sister.

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Check her out, standing in the red!

It was a killer song… And it was very long. Easily six or seven minutes long as jazz tends to do.

I recorded the whole piece for you all to enjoy, including the multi-minute long introduction from Vizcarra and the band bowing at the end. Check it out if you want some smooth jams:

Just before that piece, I recorded the same band’s performance of “Act Your Age” from a totally different angle.

Decided I would try to shake things up with my cinematography.

I got pretty into it after my Dad asked me to be the point man running his Facebook livestream of the event for a while. It was a relatively new experience for me, and even though I think three people were watching at most it was a lot of fun.

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Had to take the extra initiative and photograph myself recording the event, because that’s what any good media-focused journalist would do. Right?

Well maybe not, but I wanted to keep record of my own exploits either way.

I had a lot of fun taking in the music and putting my skills to work basically running social media — at least for my family.

Especially because doing so gave me the chance to nab some wonderful candids.

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Post-Grad socials

Post-Grad socials

There are a lot of things to do after you graduate from college.

An obvious example is looking for jobs. But what do you have to do before you look for jobs?

The smart folks in my audience will say you have to cultivate a strong set of marketable skills to entice and/or fool employers into thinking you have potential, only to really hone those skills while circumnavigating imposter syndrome at the new workplace.

The galaxy brain folks in my audience will say you update your social media accounts.

I know that’s a stretch and largely an excuse for me to open an otherwise innocuous blog post, but there is a kernel of truth to the idea.

Personally, I hate having to update my social media accounts. It goes against my internal desire to stay away from those platforms as much as possible.

But I’m one of three people in my generation that hates being active on social media, and many workplaces do check accounts when they’re hiring a job candidate.

So it might not be the best look to have bios on every platform that are months old and inaccurate. At least not when big life transitions cause ripples in your identification information.

That’s why I decided to take part of my off-day to update all of my account biographies and pictures — with some of my favorite graduation-related images.

Because I got a few of them.

Here’s my current Facebook:

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Twitter:

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Instagram:

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And LinkedIn:

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Arguably the most important out of the four in terms of job acquisition. As a result, I even went through and updated the profile to reflect some of my recent awards and other accolades.

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Much like I did to with my resume a few weeks ago.

If you’re asking why I bothered to share all of this with you today… I mostly just didn’t have anything else to talk about.

But I also think it’s a good idea to get some kind of record as to how my social media looks today, that way I can compare to whatever sort of growth I’ll experience in the next leg of my professional journey.

Going through all of my social media accounts got me thinking that it might be time to update my blog soon, too.

It hasn’t changed aesthetically since I threw something together three years ago for a class assignment. Yet the platform has grown into something I’m trying to actively write for, and who knows what extra attention I might get with a spruced up space?

If I do get around to that, I’ll absolutely milk it for another blog post.


Featured Image courtesy of cogdotblog via Wikimedia Commons

John Wick is back and bringing his best for Chapter 3

John Wick is back and bringing his best for Chapter 3

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.

Wick travels to Casablanca and recruits Sofia (Halle Berry) to pay off a debt she owes. Meanwhile veteran characters Winston (Ian McShane), Charon (Lance Reddick) and the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) face political repercussions at the hands of a clinical and captivating Adjudicator for the High Table (Asia Kate Dillon).

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.

I’m very much looking forward to the Chapter 4 this movie’s namesake sets up.

Even if it won’t have the same mind-blowing realization for me that Reeves’ great, cocky foil Zero is played by Mark Dacascos: The Chairman from Iron Chef America.


Featured Image courtesy of Movie Poster HD

Wrapping up Gaming

Wrapping up Gaming

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. You heard it here first.

I’m officially done with Gaming…

In American Culture.

You know, that class I was taking for fun with my friend Mimi this last semester? Despite it neither fitting into my Comm major nor my Psych minor.

As you may recall from this great post, that class had the last few assignments I was working on. An essay and a Let’s Play video based on Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones.

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Up to 8 views as of this post!

This evening I found out that I got a 94 percent on both assignments, which landed me at a 102.22 percent in the class overall.

It looks like the professor added extra points to one assignment, and I don’t feel the need to address him in case that turns out to be an accident and we knock my grade down.

Gaming in American Culture was the last holdout for grades, so now I have the full scale of how my last semester shook out:

  • Comm 495T (Internship class) — 100 percent
  • Communications Law — 97.1 percent
  • Cognitive Psychology — 96.35 percent

My Honors classes don’t have grades associated with them… But I turned in my Project materials and give a presentation, which should constitute 100 percent.

Given all of the accolades I received along the way, not a bad way to end things.

Certainly good enough to feel confident in joining the Alumni Association:

Thus, my academic journey is over… Until I inevitably come back for a teaching degree or something.

Plus I’ll have to go back to campus for Alumni Association swag.

And I need to pick up my physical Honors Project once it’s printed.

But that’s all in the uncertain future. For now I can kick back and relax, even for a few days as I side-eye pieces of writing for Gladeo and looming job applications.

Actual gaming has been a huge part of my decompressing formula, because you’d be insane to think that my joke was an indication of actually quitting this sweet addiction.

In that regard, Gaming in American Culture gave me one last gift: An excuse to play through my favorite Fire Emblem game once more.

I didn’t stop playing Sacred Stones when I finished that paper. I’ve been carrying my 3DS around again to get through it.

As luck would have it, I happened to finish my current Eirika’s route run the same night as I found out my class grades. Hence the Featured Image and this picture of my favorite couple’s flavor text:

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Though I may have jumped the gun in pairing them together again so quickly.

I’m not going to say I regret the decision, because they’re my precious babies and I’ve always been the kind of person to fall in love with a pairing and ship them every time.

But Sacred Stones apparently has a mechanic where you can view previous support conversations from the main menu — something I believed only came in later entries.

Once I realized that, I decided I should go for new character pairings and appease the Completionist side of my brain since I’ve been stuck at the same level for years.

Even in this one run I found at least one new ship I adore in Lute and Kyle!

Definitely a great thing, but also deeply troubling.

After all, now I know there are new pairings that I may love… which is more incentive to try new support paths.

And I just so happened to save a separate file for Ephraim’s route.

So between work and Minecraft with my friends, I might just be diving into this Fire Emblem rabbit hole again immediately.

Let’s just hope I don’t burn myself out before Three Houses.