Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Movie Review - Star Wars: The Last Jedi


"Star Wars: The Last Jedi" the most recent iteration and second arc in the latest Star Wars Trilogy, was written and directed by Rian Johnson. It's highly recommended that you approach this film with an open mind. Avoid reading reviews if you can, this one included (unless you're like me and truly don't care about spoilers. You might be more curious as to the HOW and WHY something happened, not so much that it did happen).

So when I went to my local theater I caught the 3:30p.m. showing on Monday, December 18, 2017. It was relatively empty (so no crying children, no teenagers on their cellphones) and overall a pleasant experience. I had to opt for that particular showing due to time constraints and it forced me to catch the film in 3D, but I didn't mind the added charge.

Resistance pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) is shown to be as hot-headed and rash as ever, especially after aiding in the destruction of the First Order's Dreadnaught battleship. The scene resonates with raw energy as we see that extreme sacrifices yet again are made in order to strike a devastating blow against the Empirical battalion of Tie-Fighters. General Organa however, is not pleased with Poe's insistence that the move was a victory as she views it as more Pyrrhic than anything else. The lesson he eventually does learn is that sometimes it is best to lose a battle, in favor of a tactical retreat.

I was mildly disappointed that Finn (John Boyega) didn't make an appearance until later than I had anticipated. Apparently he was recuperating from a punishing last battle with the proto-fascist Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). (For those of you unfamiliar, proto-facism is a conceptual belief that liberal democracy is obsolete and those of a fascist mindset regard the complete mobilization of society under a totalitarian one-party state as necessary in order to prepare a nation for armed conflict and to respond effectively to economic problems.) Finn suffered severe shoulder burns and a large diagonal slash across his back from the red lightsaber Ben Solo used in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The major dilemma of this film is that while Rey (Daisy Ridley) is trying to get Luke Skywalker (Mark Hammil) to come back to the fold and fight alongside the resistance (which he wants no part of), Finn and Poe along with newcomer Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) are trying to help the transport ship they're on escape from Supreme Leader Snoke's personal cruiser while their vessel is low on fuel and options.
Old man Sywalker

The one thing that sort of annoyed me was that the plot threads required a specific "master coder" with a red lapel flower pin on his person. He was to be located in this casino on the planet and while Rose and Finn have a nice bonding moment, they find an alternative hacker and the one that they were SUPPOSED to have found falls into complete obscurity and irrelevance. That, to me, was a bit unnecessary from an audience perspective. It's a poor rehashing of the Mos Eisley cantina scene in “A New Hope.”

The reason that they need this individual is to bypass the security on the lead ship attacking the resistance so that they can temporarily disable the tracking mechanism and allow for a hyperspace jump with the limited remaining fuel available.

Meanwhile, Rey has given up on Skywalker and decided to return on her own accord in an attempt to turn Ben Solo (Kylo Ren) back to the light side of the Force. She is subsequently captured and brought before Snoke, who wants to snuff her out after obtaining Luke's whereabouts. He offers his apprentice the opportunity to end her himself and in a totally expected manner, Kylo Ren manages to kill his mentor with Luke's lightsaber. It's a bit frustrating because his end was so anti-climactic and predictable. The rest of the guardsmen coming to defend him however managed to be an interesting clash as both Rey and Kylo Ren fight side-by-side, back-to-back. The truce is temporary however, and Kylo tells Ren that the one thing she seeks out most (her parents) aren't even worth mentioning.

The Millennium Falcon, A Relic of the Past
Her parents aren't some noble warriors, nor lost Jedi, or members of some secret society. No, according to him, she always knew that they were nobodies that sold her to traders on Jakku for drinking money. It's a sad, deflated delivery and although its perhaps supposed to show that ANYONE can be a hero and rise to the challenge, it leaves Rey quite defeated emotionally and mentally. He then offers to rule the galaxy with her by his side, but only if she lets the past die.

Unfortunately, (perhaps unsurprisingly) there's a double-cross by the hacker while Finn is captured with Rose to be executed by Phasma. (She's still not as cool as Boba Fett and never will be. I truly wish Rian Johnson would stop trying to hype her up.) A battle ensues and during the chaos, General Organa's second in command does something that is a basic, fundamental prohibition when operating a spacecraft. She hyperspace jumps the vessel THROUGH SNOKE'S SHIP. Honestly, I never thought I'd ever see that on the big screen (let alone in 3D). That was hands down the most badass way to sacrificially decimate someone. Everyone had made it to escape pods headed towards a planet made salt. (Probably made from all of the tears of the fans of the previous trilogies.)

I find it incredibly ironic that Kylo Ren wants the "past to die" when he has been living off the heel of Darth Vader's legacy and using the Empire's Tie-Fighter and All Terrain Scout Transport (AT-ST) technology, with minor upgrades, if any. Rey and General Organa perhaps are among the few that know that those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.

Kylo Ren

Luke Skywalker finally musters up the courage to re-connect with the Force and the Rebel Resistance and he does so without ever leaving his serene planet. He confronts Kylo Ren and he manages to stall him long enough for his sister and allies to escape their last fortified outpost. It's eerily reminiscent of the planet Hoth, complete with the AT-ATs (All Terrain Armored Transports).

Personally, I enjoyed the movie overall. There were enough jokes to go around and the tone of the movie was eased a bit with some of the self-aware jabs at the drama of the series. Rey's scenes tend to be the most humorous of the collection (specifically Kylo Ren's somewhat cringe-worthy shirtless scene), but in particular, I couldn't help but laugh at inappropriate opportunities, particularly the campfire scene with Chewbacca and the Porgs. This movie isn't afraid to make poke fun at its own history and the current state of affairs. There are some controversial scenes (like General Leia Organa "Force-Floating" through space to reach the hangar and doing so in the vaccuum of space, but I was fine with that too. The Jedi are "space-wizards" for all intensive purposes and anything they do should not break the immersion. After all, Darth Plagueis was a Sith Lord that "could prevent death itself". So nothing is off the table, so to speak.

There are a few important figures and events that I've deliberately left out (as they're a bit of a treat) but they're nice subtle nods to the past trilogies and I hope that for those of you that have yet to see the film, you'll make an effort to do so to form your own opinions. It will always be difficult to capture the novelty and sheer exhilaration of the original films, but thus far, these new additions seem to hold their own.

Rating Score

Letter Grade: B

Monday, November 6, 2017

A Keenly Human Element - Detroit: Become Human

During a recent press event in Paris, Quantic Dream presented their latest gameplay demo of their new IP (Intellectual Property), titled Detroit: Become Human. The game is being directed by David Cage.

I suppose the most controversial portion of the screening needs to be addressed first and foremost...the trailer depicted acts of domestic and child abuse as well as graphic violence.

Kara, an android housekeeper, bears witness to an American father’s psychological and physical abuse of his daughter, Alice. However, she is not merely a witness, but a potential foil to the antagonist within this particular scenario. She (and thereby the player, via proxy) is capable of intervention. How the player goes about doing so however, is the key factor in preventing further conflict escalation. One's choices will affect the narrative in a multitude of different ways. Does Kara try to talk to Todd in order to calm him down? How does he respond? Will she take a more aggressive approach? Does she take Alice and flee? A world of possibilities is only a button press away. Yet, every choice has a consequence...If nothing is done, Alice will end up dying, making her death the least desirable outcome.

Todd is shown to be an aggressive father who has been left by his wife. Having lost his job “because of androids,” he lives with his daughter in a shanty house in the suburbs of Detroit. Kara had already been damaged by Todd once before and her memories have since been reset.

There has been a longstanding status quo between game makers and players not to address taboos and political aspects in games because of a prevailing notion that this particular medium is not suitable for handling the gravity of certain real-life situations or moral choices appropriately. As such, there has perhaps been a stagnation of meaningful narrative in games. David Cage and his development team's production may work to rectify this by treading through these uncharted waters, so to speak. Addressing difficult subject matter however makes navigating potentially more perilous for the medium’s writers and designers.

Conversely, this type of setup isn't all too different from those old "Choose-Your-Own-Adventure" books from the 1980s, where readers would, at the end of each plot milestone, make a dramatic choice, and then turn to the indicated page to see how the choice played out.

"Art imitates life, but should there be a limit to what is shown?"

Despite that comparison, it is still quite possible that gamers will see the game as a trivialization of needing only to make the “correct” choices in order to resolve such situations. Many people may feel that such choice is a misrepresentation of the reality of those who has suffered from, or who knows a survivor of, domestic abuse.

Now, Kara's story isn't the only focus of the grand, overall plot. In fact, there are at least three protagonists total, all of which have interwoven plotlines. One such, involves the Android negotiator Connor, who is sent to try to determine what events transpired during a hostage situation and prevent another Android, Daniel, from causing harm to come to a young girl. By investigating the crime scene and talking to SWAT personnel, the odds of success increase dramatically within the allotted time.

The third Android, Marcus, is trying to start an Android revolution. Recently gaining sentience, he must decide whether to make his demands known through forceful protest, or peaceful persistence.

Connor and Kara's storylines seem to be the most interesting of the three (at least to me), but perhaps in time we will see more of Marcus' inspirations and motivations.

It takes an incredible amount of courage to tackle extremely unpleasant themes or portray traumatic scenes, whether it be in game design, movie making, or other artistic design. We still need to be cautious of the glorification of and desensitization to, violence.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Opinion Piece - My Destiny 2 Review

Well, folks, I caved. I figured it would happen, but what can I say? I enjoy my first person shooters (as long as they have elements of customization). I picked up my copy of the game through Amazon for $51.83 (Savings of $11.97 compared to the MSRP of $59.96). At least I didn't pay full price. I know I'll have to hop on the DLC Expansion bandwagon soon enough, but I feel as though any and all delay in payments towards that inevitability are a boon. Spoilers may follow.

In Destiny 2, the last safe city on Earth has fallen and lays in ruins, occupied by a powerful new enemy, named Dominus Ghaul and his elite army, the Red Legion.  Guardians are being attacked mercilessly after losing their connection to the Light and thus, by extension, the Traveler. Without their powers, they can no longer resurrect after death, leading to a whole new wave of Guardian genocide by the hands of the Cabal.

I'd say that the overall campaign is quite short, clocking in at roughly 10-12 hours of gameplay per character. The final encounter ends up being a bit counter-intuitive as some of your super abilities restrict you from actually being able to hit Ghaul effectively while he is mid-air (depending upon your class and subclass). It can be a bit frustrating as it's almost mandatory that you have a projectile-based ability, especially considering that the game provides you with near infinite super meter refills. You can still shoot him as per usual with your gun, but when the game itself offers you a chance to rain vengeance in a near limitless fashion with your ultimate ability, you'll definitely want to partake.

If the original Destiny was a 6.5-7.0/10.0, this game is probably a 7.5-8.0/10.0 on my grading scale.

Those players who were turned off by the original's lackluster storyline and numerous plotholes may find enjoyment jumping back into the franchise now as the plot feels much more in depth and emotionally compelling. The exploration of the game's overworld was at times, forced due to the lack of the ability to use your Sparrow (a speeder reminiscent of those used by Stormtroopers in Star Wars) until after completing the campaign. (Oddly enough, sparrow horns seem to be largely absent from this game...)

However, this restriction allows for players to appreciate their surroundings and perhaps wander into an unexplored cavern to discover a "Lost Sector" of the map. These are often cavernous expanses with numerous enemies and a Loot Cache that can only be opened with a "Key Code" that is usually in a powerful enemies' inventory. By defeating the Fallen Captain (or equivalent) players can claim the treasure inside.

Unfortunately, there are no new character classes in Destiny 2 nor are there any new enemy types (beyond the War Beasts that the Red Legion have in their armada), yet, there are some changes to the existing character subclasses.

My Exo Warlock named "F33db4ck"

The Hunter's Bladedancer Subclass has now been replaced with the Arcstrider which summons an Arc-empowered staff that can be used for extreme close-quarters melee combat. Unfortunately, it means the loss of the invisibility powers associated with the previous type.

The Sentinel Subclass replaces the Void Defender Subclass from the original game. It's still able to utilize the Ward Of Dawn ability, but only with the "Code of the Protector" Skill Tree/Perk Set. The Super Ability allows for Titans to use a shield as a projectile similar to "Captain America" from the unrelated Marvel Comics Universe.

Finally, the Solar-based Dawnblade Subclass has now replaced the Sunsinger Subclass. Unfortunately, this replacement comes at the price of being able to self-resurrect after being killed. However, Warlocks can now weave Solar Light into blades and smite foes from the skies.

At this time, players can not choose what Heroic Strikes they wish to partake in, nor can they choose a Strike's difficulty level (i.e. Easy, Medium, or Hard). There is however, a Prestige Level for Raids and Strikes, the latter of which has a recommended light level of 300. Everything has being orchestrated into two playlists per category: Strikes or Nightfalls in the one and in the Crucible, it's either Quick Play or Competitive Mode (Trials of the Nine is only available during the weekends). The missions are selected randomly for the Strikes and the Nightfalls change weekly.

Nightfall missions themselves have gone through a change as well. In Destiny's first year, the fireteam would be kicked back to orbit the moment everyone died, and they would have to restart the entire mission from scratch. However, that restriction was inevitably removed in Destiny's second or third year. Now, in Destiny 2, the restriction is that the Nightfall missions are on a countdown timer and must be completed within the limit or the party is returned to orbit to start anew. This can be a bit frustrating for players if the mission itself is particularly difficult. There is some respite though in that nearly every week there is a new objective that might allow participants to extend the time as it depletes. In some instances, it may be leaping through Vex Temporal Rings, in others it may be a requirement to shoot blue Vex Oracles (light blue boxes). Each success adds an additional 30 seconds to the clock and every second counts (especially for the boss fights at the end!). However, there are often modifiers present that can help or hinder fireteams, depending on what is generated.

Also, all of the multiplayer modes (except for the Raid and Strikes) are in in a 4v4 setup. It is no longer 6v6. This makes combat against other players a more "tactical" affair. On the one hand, this can be less of a mad chaotic clash, but on the other, it means that stages may feel too large or too small comparatively. It completely changes the pacing of the competitive scene especially considering that grenades and shoulder charges don’t always kill in one hit. Each match may feel a bit sluggish compared to the fast paced action of the original. Also worth mentioning is that in these game modes, power ammo can only be acquired by ONE team member each time it spawns, so you have to make each use count and designate an appropriate player. This can lead to more clear-cut clutch moments and perhaps a fewer cheap deaths. But it also may mean that one guy on your team with terrible aim ends up hogging all of the power weapon ammunition.

My favorite Hunter Helmet, the Celestial Nighthawk

Public Events now appear on the overworld map with countdown timers and quite a few players will join up to participate, but only through certain actions will the public event transition to a Heroic Public Event, which includes better rewards. These are usually more challenging to initiate, and unfortunately a bit more difficult to coordinate. While these occurrences happen often and are a welcome addition, they leave little in the means of variety, especially on the smaller planets. This means that if you're on the moon Titan, for instance, you're going to get really tired of seeing the same Fallen Walker (Spider Tank) three to four times in the last hour, despite needing to do several public events for a weekly Flashpoint challenge. Granted, there is an alternative public event featuring the Hive, but there isn't much variation to cycle through.

As for the cutscenes, some really terrific work has been performed. The voice lines are great and Nathan Fillion's performances as Cayde-6 are always a treat. There are a few quips and jabs at his character along with some more depth to Ikora Rey (portrayed by Gina Torres) and Commander Zavala's (played by Lance Reddick) personalities. Whereas the Awoken Titan is unwavering in his plan to assault Ghaul, we see a Human Warlock distraught, and rife with self-loathing to the point of nearly giving up hope.

Another improvement is that the time spent bouncing in and out of orbit has been drastically cut. You can travel directly to any planet you want to from the main HUD. It's still a nuisance that the loading screen is your ship traversing the cosmos without you being able to interact with it in any way, shape, or form, from orbit, but the duration of such has been significantly reduced at the very least.

Trading weaponry, gear, or shaders is still not possible in this latest iteration, which to some may be a bit of an annoyance. Especially since now that Bungie has decided to make shaders a single-use consumable resource. Shaders are cosmetic items that can be applied to armor to give it a color scheme that’s different from its original look. You can now customize individual pieces of armor, guns, or your ships with unique and colorful shaders, however, if you use that shader, it's gone for good, even if you dismantle the equipment you have attached it to. This is further complicated by the rarity of certain shaders and the fact that Tess Everis, the Eververse Trading Co. vendor, requires players to spend "Bright Dust" in order to purchase the more lucrative and legendary ones. This is occasionally obtained when opening a bright engram, or dismantling sparrows, Ghost shells, et cetera, but for the most part, Guardian Players will be acquiring Bright Dust by purchasing Silver with actual money. (I actually earned 1,300 units of bright dust from a Bright Engram. I'm debating what I should use the funds for...) She does provide additional (mostly cosmetic) items for our real world currency in the form of bundles, but the drops are always random. These purchases are known as microtransactions and are typically viewed in a negative light by most gamers as a poor business practice.

Players used to buy shaders from the vendor Eva Levante with an abundant, in-game currency called Glimmer, hence the outrage. The pivotal component of how shaders worked in the original Destiny was that they were permanent items. Once you unlocked a shader, it was tied to your account forever. Your entire shader collection was available for browsing via in-game kiosks, and your character could hold up to nine of them at once. There was only one major gripe that Destiny players had with shaders: They were an all-or-nothing style choice. When you put one on, the shader's color scheme was applied to your entire set of armor not individual pieces.

Granted, there is a new system in place with bright engrams every time you hit the level cap past 20, allowing Guardians to acquire some of these accessories freely, but it still forces players to make frequent trips to Tess Everis' kiosk. This is perhaps an attempt to entice someone to make an actual purchase. It's most likely, a psychological marketing tactic. This could be the "Foot-in-the-Door Method" at work.

Disappointingly, Destiny 2 doesn’t take the time to explain how its upgrade and infusion systems work. Mods can be a bit confusing at first glance and they eventually become a critical addition to gear later on. A missed opportunity for insightful exposition to be sure.

World activities, PvP, and Leviathan all have different group size requirements, meaning you’re often a person short for some activities or forced to abandon a team member when transitioning from a four-player Crucible PvP match into a three-man team activity like a Strike. This is a glaring issue.

The new Clan system in Destiny 2 does a great job of giving people a reason to stick together and rewards players for every milestone they achieve.

I think that the biggest saving grace of Destiny 2 is the feature called Guided Games (currently in beta) that allows experienced teams to queue into a lobby that brings along a new player which permits clans to teach players how to participate in say, a Nightfall Strike or the Leviathan Raid. Conversely, as a Clan or group, this is a suitable method of recruitment if the player in question is agreeable and skilled. The Guided Games option requires player to not only have a microphone, but it demands an agreement to a series of guidelines for acceptable conduct. If the agreement isn't accepted within sixty seconds, the player must start the waiting process all over again. It's a standard affair and the rules are determined by Bungie, but it can be a slight nuisance if you forget to select the "Accept" option while waiting (up to four minutes or longer) in queue. Raid wait times have been even longer at roughly 45 minutes+. This is absurd and most players are better off using the past method of trying an LFG page.

I myself have yet to participate in the Leviathan Raid at the time of this review, however, testimony from my closest friends and colleagues has revealed that it is quite a challenge, both mechanically, and mentally. Fireteams will have to be well co-ordinated in order to meet and exceed Bungie's high standard of puzzles and intense boss battles.

I haven't had the opportunity to play Trials of the Nine either, Destiny 2's answer to the previous Trials of Osiris but the current meta of the game thus far essentially demands the use of the MIDA Multi-Tool Scout Rifle. It has become the leading gun in competitive multi-player and Bungie has released an official statement claiming that it is working as intended and that there are counters to that weapon, but many argue that it gives an unfair advantage despite being fairly easy to acquire.

I myself utilize auto-rifles primarily (I hate burst fire because you have to repetitively click the trigger button. I prefer to press and hold.) and thus, I probably will not be utilizing the gun once obtained. I do enjoy my precision shots, but I specialize with sniper rifles. Plus, with an auto rifle, you have a higher rate of fire, and more hit markers (which helps the lag compensation).

Overall, the game feels like two steps forward, one step back. The series has potential, but it's never fully realized. There is always something that bogs down this game's level of enjoyment for me. It's usually something that could be easily fixed and that just serves to frustrate or confound me even more. With the Guided Games, it's certainly an improvement from using third party websites to organize a fireteam, but regular matchmaking would still be better considering the obnoxiously long waiting times.

Letter Grade: B- or C+

Replayability: Fairly high, despite some repetitiveness and monotony

Score: 7.5-8.0/10.0 (I'm leaning more towards 7.5)

Edit: So, I've managed to try both Trials of the Nine and the Leviathan Raid since this post was initially written. I've tried nearly every aspect of the Raid and completed it. It's not too difficult if everyone is oriented with where enemies spawn and what actions to take with regards to when. I have now completed the Platinum Trophy for Destiny 2. As for the Trials of the Nine, I haven't gone flawless, but with one victory, you can travel to see the Emissary of the Nine, thereby unlocking that trophy as well. PvP has unfortunately, devolved into the current Meta of needing to possess either the MIDA Multi-Tool or the Hard Light exotic Auto Rifle in order to succeed. The former aiding in movement, the latter aiding via ricocheting energy bullets in closed quarters. It's unfortunate that there is little variation amongst players outside of those two weapons. In light of this, my opinion of the game remains to be relatively neutral. It's a step in the right direction on one hand, and fundamentally flawed in the other. Time will tell if players have been swindled or not when the next DLC is announced and we get to see what is offered or what was cut from the initial launch.

Dragon Quest X Expansion Details - Time Travel and the Return of the Druid Job Class

Dragon Quest X’s next expansion, The 5,000 Year Journey to the Distant Homeland Online will arrive in Japan on November 16, 2017. According to an issue of issue of Jump magazine, the story will take players into the world of the past.

The latest iteration of the game features two essential key characters, including the knight in black (who appears to be reminiscent of an evil version of Dragon Quest XI protagonist) as well as a mysterious fairy named “Kyururu” who lends his unique powers to the hero player.

Apparently players will have a "fateful encounter" at the Eterne Kingdom, featuring completely new areas including fields of flowers, fancy roads, and ominous buildings.

Some of the additional characters that the player encounters include:

Meleade: A female you first meet in the past world. She’s a softhearted noble with a black cat.

Chacol: Meleade’s mischievous pet cat. Her collar and ribbon matches that of her owner, both being red. The cat's collar and Meleade's choker collar have a yellow star tag.

Quord: The commander of the Eterne Kingdom army, and the younger brother of Meleade. He’ll defend against anyone who tries to harm his sister.

The Druid job that was last available in Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past also makes a reappearance. It's a vocation that allows players to target and attack numerous enemies at once using the power of nature. It used to be known as the "Summoner" class in the original Dragon Warrior VII translation for the PlayStation 1.

Author's Note:

It would be interesting to see the timeline and progression of events, especially considering how far into the past the players will travel. It's a pity that this game has not been announced for Western localization.

Works Cited

Dragon Quest X Expansion Adds Druid Job And A Story That Takes Place In The Past. (2017, August 17). Retrieved September 07, 2017, from

Dragon Quest X Reveals Two Key Characters And A Cat For Its New Expansion. (2017, August 31). Retrieved September 09, 2017, from

Monday, August 7, 2017

"The Adventurer's Miracle" Dragon Quest X Animated Shorts - "The Feeling of a Name"

Image by Gematsu
In April of this year (2017), Square Enix chose three winning submissions for a project, called “The Adventurers’ Miracle.” Essentially, users would submit entries based on real events inspired by Dragon Quest 10 that affected their lives. This was a pitched idea from Dragon Quest X Producer Yosuke Saito in December of 2016 in order to explore how those fantastic virtual worlds we've come to explore can make an emotional impact on us as players and as people in general.

The first episode in the series comes from a player whose character name in the game is Yukina, who wrote in with a submission titled “The Name of Feelings” or "The Feeling of a Name”. Her story is about how a family honored the memory of their oldest daughter, Yukina, through their in-game characters.

The anime short aired today (August 7, 2017) during the Dragon Quest Summer Festival celebration.The episode alternates between real, in-game footage and animated original scenes. The roughly seven minute presentation shows that Dragon Quest 10 has to much more to offer than one might expect and it can not be broken down into merely fighting monsters, crafting gear, or taking on epic level quests. It is also an emotional experience unlike any other.

In the animation, a young girl watches her parents enjoy the in-game fireworks celebration for what appears to be Dragon Quest X's fourth anniversary celebrated on August 2, 2016. She subtly points out to her father that it looks like everyone has gathered to celebrate Yukina’s birthday. Yukina is the name of her mother’s character, but in a flashback viewers learn that she was named after their eldest daughter, Yukina, who had passed away. The flashback scene is from four years before, when the mother is creating her character on the old (and now discontinued) Wii version of the game.

A one year time skip occurs and we see the girl's father at a cafe, chatting in Dragon Quest X via his laptop, where he proposes to his online friends as his Weddie character (named Yuuri), the idea his daughter mentioned only a year prior, the notion of celebrating Yukina's birthday in-game. On August 2, 2017 (as depicted by the calendars), the family is gathered once again to watch the fireworks celebration for the game’s (now) fifth anniversary. It is then that everyone watching the fireworks display begins to wish Yukina a happy 15th birthday, bringing tears to the surprised mother’s eyes. Had she been alive, Yukina would have turned 15 years old that day. It's a subtle gesture, but a tear-jerkingly heartfelt one nonetheless.

The entire series has been created in an effort to celebrate Dragon Quest 10’s recent fifth anniversary. After the airing of the video, many of the hosts, developers and even some of the guests on stage were holding back tears.

MMOs allow players to connect with distant family members or friends, and regardless of distance, these games foster brotherly bonds, rivalries, and camaraderie through play. These can lead to life-changing events like marriage or tributes to those that we have come to know and have lost.

As previously indicated, two more of these shorts are in development. The second will be titled “Beyond Time and Space, Meet me in Astoltia” (Astoltia is the name of Dragon Quest X‘s world) and will come in the fall later this year. A third episode will soon follow sometime afterwards.

The video will be featured below.

Works Cited

Frank, A. (2017, August 07). A Dragon Quest 10 anime is the most tearjerking thing you'll watch today. Retrieved August 07, 2017, from

Nelva, G. (2017, August 07). This Dragon Quest X Anime Short Will Hit You Straight in the Feels [UPDATED]. Retrieved August 07, 2017, from

Romano, S. (2017, August 07). Dragon Quest X anime short Episode 1: 'The Feeling of a Name'. Retrieved August 07, 2017, from

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Dragon Quest X’s Next Expansion, Dragon Quest XI Announced for the West, & More!

Square Enix has officially announced the fourth major expansion (or rather, "version") of Dragon Quest X: Rise of the Five Tribes Online titled "5,000 Year Journey to a Faraway Hometown Online", during the Dragon Quest Summer Festival 2017 in Tokyo on Saturday, August 5th, 2017. It will launch for Wii U, PC, PlayStation 4, and Switch on Thursday, November 16, 2017 in Japan for 3,800 yen (approximately $34.33 USD).

Pre-orders are available now apparently via the Square Enix e-Store. Japanese players who have previously purchased the Dragon Quest X: All-In-One Package, which includes Version 1, Version 2, and Version 3 of Dragon Quest X, from the Square Enix e-Store, will receive a 500 yen discount (approximately $4.52 USD) coupon to purchase the all new Version 4 update.

Image by Gematsu

Square Enix has also announced "Dragon Quest Rivals", a card based battle game which will be released for iOS & Android (in Japan) sometime this fall, and they have also stated that a PC version, currently in development, will also launch sometime soon.

Additionally, the publisher announced that the original Dragon Quest and Dragon Quest II will be available digitally for PS4 and 3DS in Japan on Thursday, August 10, 2017 for 600 yen (approximately $5.42 USD) and 850 yen (approximately $7.68 USD), respectively. Dragon Quest III will arrive later that month for 1,500 yen (approximately $13.55 USD).

The franchise's latest installment, Dragon Quest XI: In Search of Departed Time (or Echoes of an Elusive Age), launched last month in Japan and has sold incredibly well. Perhaps even more exciting is that Square Enix has confirmed that DQXI will be coming to the west in 2018.

Additionally, there is an early-access demo for Dragon Quest X on PS4 via a "Spell of Restoration" code (entered through Dragon Quest XI) which provides access to the demo available on Thursday August 10, 2017.

Players simply enter the Spell of Restoration code of “あすとるていあへたびだとう” to access the additional content. The demo is now available for download, but it’ll be available to play from Thursday, August 10, 2017 at 12:00pm JST through Wednesday, August 16, 2017 at 11:59pm JST.

Author's Note:
If you want to let Square Enix know that you want Dragon Quest X to be localized, please send a letter to:

6-27-30 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku,
Tokyo 160-8430

Works Cited
S. (2017, August 06). Dragon Quest X’s Early-Access Demo For PS4 To Be Available Via Dragon Quest XI Spell of Restoration. Retrieved August 06, 2017, from

S. (2017, August 06). Dragon Quest X’s Next Expansion Announced, Launches November 16 In Japan. Retrieved August 06, 2017, from

Osborn, A. (2017, August 06). Dragon Quest X Expansion, Rivals Card Game, More Coming to Japan Later This Year. Retrieved August 06, 2017, from

Romano , S. (2017, August 06). Dragon Quest X Version 4 expansion announced. Retrieved August 06, 2017, from

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Official Dragon Quest X Concept Artwork

I just wanted to share some of the official concept artwork of Dragon Quest X with you all.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Dragon Quest X & Dragon Quest XI Crossover Event

Dragon Quest XI: In Search of Departed Time's release launch is drawing close in Japan (Expected to arrive on Saturday, July 29, 2017). As such, Square Enix is celebrating alongside the franchise’s previous iteration, Dragon Quest X. This event will start on Friday July 14, 2017 and end on Monday, August 14, 2017. The Dragon Quest XI character Silvia will appear in Dragon Quest X for a limited time. Engaging in conversation with Silvia will grant players a fabulous parade outfit, which you can see in action in the video towards the end of this post. Square Enix has released a Dragon Quest XI video showcasing the parade in-game.

The second part of the event will start on Saturday July 29th and end on Wednesday, November 15th. In Dragon Quest X players will use Dragon Quest XI‘s “Spell of Restoration” passwords to receive reward items. These unique items include a pet yocchi, a Dragon Quest XI poster and character figurines for the in-game housing, as well as a rather "engaged" gesture featuring a magazine (visible in a video located towards the top of this post). Gamers will have to approach a member of the Yocchi tribe at an in-game church in order to redeem the codes. The second part of the event is expected to run for a total of 110 days from the start date to the end date (or 3 months, 18 days including the end date). This leaves players with plenty of time to partake in the festivities. Apparently, the "Incarnation of Time" Kerucchi will also be making an appearance sometime during the commemoration.

Dragon Quest X will launch in Japan on PS4 on Thursday, August 17th, while the Switch version will release on Thursday, September 21st. It’s already available on the Nintendo Wii (services discontinued), PC, Wii U, and on the Nintendo 3DS, Apple iOS and Android mobile via streaming.

As always, you can read all of the latest Dragon Quest X: Rise of the Five Tribes Online posts here.

Works Cited

Duine, E. V. (2017, July 08). Dragon Quest XI details Silva's parade gameplay clip. Retrieved July 08, 2017, from

Nelva, G. (2017, July 07). Dragon Quest XI Gets Fabulous PS4 Video Revealing Crossover Events with Dragon Quest X. Retrieved July 13, 2017, from

Romano, S. (2017, July 07). Dragon Quest XI 'Silvia's Parade' gameplay. Retrieved July 13, 2017, from

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Dragon Quest X (Upcoming PS4 Version) Update and Beta Test Announcement!

Next month in Japan marks the release of the PlayStation 4 version of Dragon Quest X: Rise of the Five Tribes Online. Square Enix shared a brand new trailer (depicted below) that highlights scenes from the MMORPG title on PS4. The new “All in One Package” edition of the game, features enhanced visuals with improvements on facial textures and other parts of the game with 1080p resolution and 60fps performance on PS4 (which is a great improvement when compared to the original Wii version). It also contain the game’s first three expansions, or rather "versions" since it was launched back in August 2, 2012.

Dragon Quest X releases in Japan on August 17, 2017 for PlayStation 4 and Fall of 2017 (estimated September 21, 2017) for the Nintendo Switch. Both of which are priced at 4,800 yen (approximately $42.14 USD). The game is currently available on Wii U, PC, iPhone, and Android.

PlayStation 4 users will need to pay about 1,500 yen a month for five characters and the Switch version will cost around 1,000 yen (approximately $8.78 USD) to 1,500 yen a month (approximately $13.17 USD) for three to five characters.

A beta test for both versions was announced, and it will go live from Wednesday, July 19, 2017 through Thursday, August 10, 2017. Unfortunately, the Beta test application period ended Saturday, June 10, 2017 at 23:59.

The link to the BETA test can be found here:

In order to participate, users must:
  • Have a PlayStation® 4 / PlayStation® 4 Pro or Nintendo Switch ™ main unit 
  • Have 16 GB of free space in their PlayStation® 4 / PlayStation® 4 Pro HDD

  • A Nintendo Switch ™ Main unit storage memory or microSD card with 16 GB of free space

    In addition:
  • There must be an environment where you can connect to the Internet 
  • Users must have a Square-Enix account

    If Nintendo holds up on their claim that their console is region free, the earliest Nintendo Switch users could see this game is September of this year.

    You can read all about my past posts regarding this title here.
Works Cited
Dragon Quest X Highlights Scenes In A New Trailer For Upcoming PS4 Version. (2017, July 06). Retrieved July 08, 2017, from

Dragon Quest X On Switch Gets Its First Footage, Release Dates For PS4 And Switch In Japan. (2017, May 27). Retrieved July 08, 2017, from

Friday, June 9, 2017

Movie Review - Wonder Woman Makes Her Big Cinematic Debut

In Wonder Woman, the new smash-hit superhero movie, audiences see Gal Gadot as Diana, a valiant heroine, leaving on a journey away from the only home she's ever known, the idyllic and isolated all-female island of Themyscira heading toward the gritty, violent, and often confusing “world of man” in order to defeat the God of War, Ares as per her destiny.

I went to see the film myself on Thursday June 8, 2017 at 4:00p.m. (Admission price was $11.53).

Now, from my young adult, heterosexual male perspective and limited knowledge of Wonder Woman from the comics, all I can say is that I'm grateful that DC finally has Diana on the big screen. I think all of the great superheroes need their time to shine in the limelight. She's seldom made an appearance in mainstream media and this was a long overdue change of pace. I am aware of the television show and seen some of the animated features but there are so few that she usually ends up in cameo appearances to other more notable male counterparts that one can not say definitively who her antagonists are at the drop of a hat like one could for the others. Batman has the Joker and several other rogues (Bane, Scarecrow, the Penguin, the Riddler, etc.), Superman has Lex Luthor, Brainiac, Parasyte, Livewire, etc. What about Wonder Woman though? Her most portrayed antagonists that I could name easily would be Cheetah and Ares but I only know of this through the video games (Injustice series) and a few animated movies. It's a shame that she's been sidelined so many times.

From what I can gather, she symbolizes in many ways, the feminist movement and empowers women to be bold as she fights for equality & justice. That's not what I intend to focus on with this review. The political aspects are always a fun perspective to shed light upon, but I want to discuss my thoughts on how she was portrayed in this film and whether or not it had a strong plot.

Overall, I'm satisfied with a majority of the film, however, I wasn't content with certain scenes or director's choices in casting. Particularly, I felt that Ares should've been far more menacing and gruff in his appearance. David Thewlis was a questionable choice for Ares. He looks far too thin and not as muscular to me for some divine entity that is running such a complex operation. I suppose my expectations are a bit high considering that I'm gleaning mental imagery from Injustice: Gods Among Us and the 2009 film. The mustache just doesn't do it for me either. My expectation of a God of War is a ruthless, merciless, cold-hearted savage who has no place for honor in his heart. Thewlis looks like a goofy uncle.

I would've preferred that David Thewlis's form was a temporary one picked by Ares and that we as the audience would not have seen his face from beyond his helmet. Just glowing red eyes and his menacing presence. That's not to say that David Thewlis is a poor actor or anything, but merely that it might've been better for him to do the voiceover once the deception was revealed.

Some of the dialogue could've been better too, I feel, if, for example Steve had said "Evil triumphs when good men do nothing." rather than what was initially spoken. Also, Gal Gadot's performance upon leaving the island and speaking with her mother felt a bit flat on delivery and didn't seem to have the right pained expression one would typically expect leaving home. It might be nitpicking, but I would've expected more of an emotional impact in that short moment.

Another problematic aspect is the frustratingly incremental screentime that Etta Candy, Steve’s quippy secretary, has. She's delightfully humorous and it's a travesty that she did not have nearly the impact that she could have had on screen.

However, I enjoyed the innocence and dare I say, sense of "wonder" that Gal Gadot emulated with Diana as a character especially with the ice-cream scene as well as the slow dancing under snowfall. She even shows a motherly side with her delight in seeing babies. She is a beautiful and talented actress that portrays a strong yet approachable character very well. The movie at times made me tear up a bit. I won't deny that. However, it's by no means perfect. It needed some fine tuning. I would've liked to have learned what led Lady Poison to hate humanity so much that she turned to chemical warfare and development. Overall, a couple of missed opportunities, but a decent film nonetheless.

Overal Score:

8.5/10.0 B+ Great movie, but with some minor issues.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Opinion Piece - Politics In Gaming

In a recent article of GameInformer magazine written by Associate Editor, Elise Favis, readers are exposed to the often controversial topic of placing political elements in video games. According to her assessment, a majority of the gaming community would be opposed to this invasive practice of placing these often not-too-subtle points of contention in their titles. This might be in part due to the ideal of most gamers having a medium of escapism from the world's harsh realities of life. There is an expectation of entertainment value without pondering too much.

There are radical movements such as GamerGate that passionately oppose such realism. However, I share the sentiment that Favis has in that "Politics not only matter, but they also make for better games and better stories." That's not to say that every game should apply such politically motivated components to them.

What are politics anyway? For those of you that are unaware (or those that have tried to repress any form of such discussion), politics essentially boils down to the theories and practices of governing or influencing other people in society. This often means curbing people's actions either for the benefit or detriment of the public. Ideally, the former is more desireable than the latter, but there are those that often use their power and dominion to persuade others to be corruptible.

There have been some games that fall completely flat when trying to spur feelings of activism or social awareness. None come to my mind at this moment, but it's fair to say that a political approach does not always enhance the entertainment value of a video game.

The gaming industry is ever changing though and preconceived notions of fantasy and science fiction have constantly been reshaped to fit the times. Indie developers are always trying to push the envelope digitally with enhanced graphics and storylines. It is thus to be expected that future narratives will mimic and reflect the values and concerns of the decade. As Elise Favis puts it, "The most memorable games are the ones that leave you to ponder their meanings, and politics are just one of the many methods to facilitate discussion."

Furthermore, video games (at least in my own personal opinion) are indeed a form of art, akin to the works of contemporary novelists and abstract artisans. There are numerous stories that can be told with players offered ultimatums that effect the worlds they inhabit, however briefly. Favis uses examples of games such as Mafia III, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, and The Last of Us Part II, but one example that immediately comes to my mind is that of Ubisoft's Watch Dogs 2.

The microaggressive actions of Brody Goodale, senior programmer for the fictional tech company Nudle, upon Horatio Carlin for one instance, brought light to a daily problem in the real world felt by minorities. Harassment and general glares of suspicion are not uncommon from white, privileged individuals towards persons of color, even if they are law abiding citizens.

One scene that stood out for me involved a high tech automobile with an artificial intelligence (AI) that tells Marcus Holloway that facial recognition can’t identify him because his skin is too dark. This was an example in-game of a real-world incident where cameras by HP could not recognize dark-skinned individuals. Watch Dogs 2 is one of my most enjoyed games.

I can't say I didn't laugh when the AI had trouble profiling Marcus, but sometimes humor is the only option we have in order to keep calm in those moments of high tension. Often, comedy and satire increase the awareness of such issues. We're all human. We all make mistakes. No one is perfect. However, that doesn't mean we can't try to be better people. As with all things, we should use a modicum of moderation when applying political undertones.

Works Cited

Favis, E. (2017, June). Get Your Politics Into My Games. GameInformer, (290), 32-32.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Dragon Quest X Scheduled to Release on the Nintendo Switch Fall 2017

Hey everyone! It's been a busy month, so I figured I'd post this information really quick while I still had time. I'm not one to post April Fool's jokes at the beginning of the month (especially when it comes to video games) because I think it's overdone in gaming magazines. This is especially true when you're paying about $22.97 for a 12-month subscription to say, Game Informer with one month's articles being abnormally thin on content and it begins to feel like a bit of a nuisance. It's annoying when you realize that you're paying about $1.91 an issue and feels as if you're tossing that one issue out the window because the editors want to have a cheap laugh (Insert Half-Life 3 jokes here). You could use that towards a STEAM game. Nonetheless, I apologize for the delay for my own input.

Square Enix announced during the Japanese Nintendo Direct earlier this month (April 12, 2017) their MMORPG title, Dragon Quest X, will now be releasing in Japan in the Fall/Autumnal Season of 2017 for the Nintendo Switch. Apparently, there will be a featured free campaign option to help those who played on the (services now terminated) Wii version to transfer all their characters to the Switch version. More details on that will be revealed in a future update. Below is the full fledged video.

Just as a refresher, Dragon Quest X Online: Rise Of The Five Tribes was announced in 2008 by Yuji Horii. There was a long period of silence however and not much was really known about the title until a September 5, 2011 conference in which Mr. Yuji Horii officially revealed that Dragon Quest X Online: Rise Of The Five Tribes would be an MMORPG that would not only be expansive, but very plot driven (Nintendo Power pg. 24, Vol. 272). Players have the ability to change vocations (at special shrine locations) and use skill points in a similar fashion to the previous title in the franchise Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies for the Nintendo DS. They are also able to chose from among five different races (hence the title), from the "sprite-like" Pukuripo, Wedies (aquatic "music-loving" creatures), woodland elves, ogres, or the lofty dwarves. Humans are not made initially available "as the human populated continent has been sealed away by the game's villain and it's up to the other races to liberate it." (Nintendo Power pg. 18, Vol. 273).

The main world, known as Astoltia is comprised of five islands (according to the NGamer Staff for NGamer Magazine and the official Facebook page). One of which, is actually a cluster of smaller, individual islands. There is a central continent in where most of the world's humans reside.

Gamers begin their journeys in Dragon Quest X: Rise of the Five Tribes Online as a human from Etene Village. Later on, the player becomes a new character from one of the five other remaining races (Dwarf, Kuripo, Elf, Wedie, or Ogre).

Players can customize their characters with numerous option, choosing everything from gender to size, as well as naming them and altering their appearances to their own liking. In addition, the player also creates another "sibling" character, which also aids in the main storyline.

Once players reached a certain point within the single player (offline) story mode (approximately 2 - 2½ hours into gameplay), they were prompted to connect online to continue play. This however, required a paid monthly subscription in order to be granted full access. Fortunately, "Director Jin Fujisawa didn’t want that to be a barrier for long time fans of the [Dragon Quest] series". As such, there was an implementation of a "Free Play" period that lasts for two hours each day in which players of all ages could log on and play the online portions of the game without a penalty fee. Whether or not this feature will be implemented in the future Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 versions of the game remains to be seen.

Dragon Quest X is currently available on the Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, iPhone, Android, and PC. The PlayStation 4 version will still release this summer in Japan.

I'm really hoping for this game to be localized in the west. If it does come to the United States, it could be the next Phantasy Star Online 2.

Works Cited

1.) Loe, Casey. "A Quest of Millions." Nintendo Power Oct. 2011: 24. Print
2.) Loe, Casey. "The Dragon's Hoard" Nintendo Power Nov. 2011: 18. Print
3.) S. (2017, April 13). Dragon Quest X Marches To Nintendo Switch In Fall 2017 In Japan. Retrieved April 28, 2017, from

Friday, March 31, 2017

Destiny 2 - New Legends Will Rise

After several months of speculation, Destiny 2 has finally had an official trailer. Unfortunately, not one scene of which actually included any gameplay footage. Destiny has captivated a devoted gamer fan-base since it first launched on September 9, 2014.

In the teaser trailer titled "Last Call", Cayde-6 (portrayed by none other than Nathan Fillion) recounts the events that transpired leading to the fall of the Vanguard's Hall of Guardians while presumably taking some "creative liberties" on his heroic performance whilst defending himself as well as his comrades Ikora Rey and Commander Zavala.

In the featured trailer, he makes an attempt at rallying the various Guardians spread throughout the ruins of what was once the Tower or the last city on Earth. Comically however, his motivational speech is not nearly as impressive as Commander Zavala's but with the promise of "loot", the Guardians in his midst are rearing to take on the Cabal who had the "Ghaul" to invade and destroy the Vaults containing the Guardians' arsenals (pun intended).

The official description of the reveal trailer reads as follows:

"Humanity’s last safe city has fallen to an overwhelming invasion force led by Ghaul, the imposing commander of the brutal Red Legion. He has stripped the city’s Guardians of their power, and forced the survivors to flee. You will venture to mysterious, unexplored worlds of our solar system to discover an arsenal of weapons and devastating new combat abilities. To defeat the Red Legion and confront Ghaul, you must reunite humanity’s scattered heroes, stand together, and fight back to reclaim our home."

More info is said to come via a future livestream on May 18th, 2017. Players who pre-order will be the first to obtain BETA access to the game, but there will be an Open BETA at a later date.

My Thoughts
My expectations for this game are at an all time low because I'm skeptical (and cynical) that the plot of this sequel will have any real substance.

In addition, knowing that Bungie had DLC expansions, I can at least somewhat predict that the same pattern will occur once again. As such, I suspect that Season Pass will be offered. Let's recap on when the original game released its downloadable content:

1.) The Dark Below released on December 9, 2014
(91 days from the time of the launch of Destiny or approximately 3 months).

2.) House of Wolves released on May 19, 2015
(252 days from the date of the launch of Destiny or 8 months, 10 days).
(161 days from the date of the release of The Dark Below Expansion or 5 months, 10 days)

3.) The Taken King released on September 15, 2015
(371 days from the date of the launch of Destiny or 1 year, 6 days).
(119 days from the date of the release of the House of Wolves Expansion or 3 months, 27 days).

4.) The Rise of Iron released on September 20, 2016 
(742 days from the date of the launch of Destiny or 2 years, 11 days)
(371 days from the  date of the release of The Taken King Expansion or 1 year, 5 days)

So we have a rough idea of how spread apart the expansions were for the first title. Does this mean that Destiny 2 will follow the same trend? Not necessarily, but at least it's a starting point. On average, each expansion comes out somewhere between 3-5 months apart from one another (with exceptions regarding the last one).

No Caption Provided

Saturday, March 25, 2017

My Review of Marvel's Iron Fist on Netflix: Impurities of the Iron

Marvel's Iron Fist, or simply Iron Fist, is an American web television series created for Netflix by Scott Buck, based on the character featured in Marvel Comics. This superhero is the most mystical entry into the list of the Defenders, which consist of Daredevil, Jessica Jones (a.k.a Jewel), and Luke Cage which debuted not long ago.

Finn Jones stars as Danny Rand (a.k.a Iron Fist), a martial arts kung-fu expert with the ability to call upon the legendary power of the "Immortal" Iron Fist. Rand is the son of a rich Caucasian businessman, who is found by a monastery after his private jet crashes into the mountainous region of the Himalayas. He later returns home to only to discover that 15 years after his disappearance, he must now fight an evil syndicate within his own company, a common theme which takes several notes from Batman, Green Arrow, and even Doctor Strange.

Rosario Dawson reprises her role as nurse Claire Temple, (originally from Daredevil) and acts as a voice of reason (once again), this time for Colleen Wing (portrayed by Jessica Henwick) and for Danny Rand as they come to terms with the notion of potentially killing members of the criminal organization, the Hand.

Now as a side note, it is perhaps worth mentioning that Steve Buck has been accused of "whitewashing" the character "Iron Fist" in choosing Finn Jones to portray Danny Rand over, say, another equally capable Asian or Asian-American actor, but these arguments seem rather petty overall, especially when one thinks about the alternative of stereotyping a racial background for the protagonist depicted. This is especially true when one considers that the source material, written in the ’70s, is rampant with Orientalist stereotypes and racist remarks. I also feel that Marvel probably would've gone with a non-Asian actor to depict Danny Rand anyway as they did so in the Ultimate Spider-man Animated Series, but that's not really an issue in my mindframe. They have a reasonably experienced and moderately known actor. That's all one really needs.

Finn Jones performance isn't terrible (although the fight scenes seemed to leave much to be desired despite being incredibly gruesome at times... The actions choreographed seem sluggish and stiff, not nearly as fluid as one might expect), However, a more conducive script is probably what could've really been improved upon. The narrative is severely lacking of any innovation or emotional impact.

This unfortunate problem is further enhanced due to the fact that all three villains (Madame Gao, Bokuto, and Harold Meachum) were constantly tackled head-on with little to no tact, and only the last of whom had any real closure or afterthought. (This is partly why I enjoy Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple because she seemed to be the more level-headed and pragmatic of the three protagonists, trying to persuade Danny Rand NOT to rush into dangerous situations with half-baked plans).

Arguably, there is a consistent issue of contradictions in character developments. For example, Joy Meachum (Jessica Stroup) is Danny’s childhood friend, and her position at Rand Enterprises makes her one of the series’ more intriguing characters as a woman of respectable standing (especially as she's rediscovering her moral conscious). Yet, her executive decisions never make any logical sense for her character. One minute she’s cautiously optimistic at the prospect of the return of Danny Rand, then the next, she's tainting his tea in order to promptly stuff him into a mental institution. In addition, she's constantly at odds with trusting her brother and father (both of which make a rather toxic family to be honest), and then the audience ultimately witnesses her consulting the Hand to have Danny Rand killed. At this point, I'm rather confused as to whether Joy is supposed to be a savage ice queen who embodies hatred, or an emotionally broken individual.

Danny Rand's character development contradicts what his training encompassed in that he vehemently reminds those closest to him of his years of training which aided the forging of his mental and emotional fortitude yet, despite this, he is STILL prone to fits of rage and violence. The internal struggle is briefly mentioned with Danny's friend Davos in the car towards the end of the season, but it doesn't feel nearly as compelling even with Davos trying to find his own "center" during every interaction he has, especially with those people reminding him that he was not the chosen one to fulfill the role of the Iron Fist. Granted, one has to believe that "training never truly ends" but, it would've been better had someone actually stated something like that in dialogue. There are plenty of words of wisdom that this series could've benefitted from, manly quotes from Confucius, the Chinese teacher, editor, politician, and philosopher. These could fit with the Mandarin Chinese spoken throughout the series. Shoot, we could even have the Thunderer return as a mental mentor or another equally important character remind Danny of focus.
  1. "The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential... these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence."
  2. "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall."
  3. "Wherever you go, go with all your heart."
  4. “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” 
  5. “Attack the evil that is within yourself, rather than attacking the evil that is in others.” - (When Danny is angry at Colleen for the betrayal)
  6. “The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.” 

I felt a complete lack of tension or surprise when *SPOILER WARNING* Harold Meachum turned out to be villainous and it was utterly predictable that the timid, (but ultimately forgettable) assistant Kyle, wouldn't make it to the second season. To me, it seemed similar in many ways to DC's The Arrow.

Not really changing up the formula and as a result, suffers from predictable tropes leaving the audience feeling empty.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

My Review of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Hey everyone! This is your pixel pal Dave here with an update in gaming! I have recently completed the main storyline of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the Nintendo Wii U in less than a week of launch (I started on 03/03/2017 at approximately 12:33 PM). I have to say, overall, it wasn't a bad game. My only complaint is that the difficulty of certain fights needed a bit more balancing. Other than that, it's a fairly decent experience. Dungeons seem a tad smaller compared to say, the Wind Waker, but the puzzles typically found in them are now in shrines and there are more of them scattered about the realm of Hyrule. For every four spirit orbs obtained from these shrines, Link can trade them for a heart container or a stamina container.

*******Spoiler Warning!!!*******

This is where I will discuss ALL aspects of the game. If you're still playing it and don't enjoy spoilers, please discontinue reading.

As the story goes, Link is awoken by a mysterious voice (later discovered to be Zelda herself) urging him to awake and be a beacon of hope for the kingdom of Hyrule. After an encounter with an elderly man (not surprisingly, the King of Hyrule himself.) he points you in the direction of the first four shrines, which (after completing the challenges accompanied by them) permit your tablet Sheikah Slate to perform certain functions necessary for Link to begin his journey. King Rhoam Bosphoramus Hyrule reveals that he is actually a spirit long since past from this world, but could not pass on the the next realm until he had fulfilled his role. He proceed to give Link his paraglider (a nod to Skyward Sword, the previous game) and from then on, he is to travel to Kakariko Village to meet with Impa, a member of Zelda's former guard. Impa then tells him of the history of Ganon (10,000 years old) and how Link came to be placed in the Shrine of Resurrection. He is then told to free the Divine Beasts under Ganon's influence in order to rescue Zelda in Hyrule Castle. After that, he is sent to Hateo's Tech Lab to regain some of the "basic functions" of the Sheikah Slate. ("I'm going to save Hyrule, but first, let me take a selfie") Joking aside, the photo album hidden in the Sheikah Slate is Zelda's personal scrapbook of sorts and they're locations that Link can traverse the wilderness for in order to regain his lost memories (an unfortunate side-effect of using the Shrine of Resurrection). After that limited direction, players are free to roam about and do as they see fit in order to better prepare themselves for the final encounter with Calamity Ganon.

Defeated on 03/10/2017 at 6:53 PM

The last boss fight wasn't particularly difficult (I had thought it would be excruciating, especially after the torture I went through with Thunderblight Ganon) but, it was a tad underwhelming. I had hoped for a serious challenge and was met with minor inconvenience. If you manage to obtain the favor of all four of the Divine Beasts, their operators manage to blast Calamity Ganon from the start of the fight, down to half of his total hit point value. This alone would be an amazing boon, but in addition to that, if the player has yet to use any of the champion's abilities, he or she is able to do substantial damage to the final boss even without the Master Sword, so long as they continue to move away from oncoming laser blasts. The afterbattle was even easier as you are mounting your steed shooting light arrows at Ganon's monstrous beast form (with his attacks not specifically aimed at you but rather the landscape). Weapon durability was an interesting design choice and at times caused me a little bit of frustration, only in that my inventory was either constantly full, or barren when I needed it to be the opposite in either instance. Some weapons have become my favorite and so coveted that I didn't want to use them as often as needed...of course there were some that could be repaired for a fee and the acquisition of certain materials, but once say, the Ceremonial Trident was damaged, I'd move onto another weapon altogether. (It's costly to repair it).

Some of the places in Breath of the Wild are subtle nods to past adventures like the Springs of Power and Wisdom from Skyward Sword. This really intrigues me as a longstanding veteran of the series as I am now somewhat actively looking for more of these "Easter eggs". I'm not accustomed to many free-roaming games and ironically, growing up playing video games (and board games too I suppose) I've gained a subconscious "goal-oriented" mentality. So I tend to focus heavily on plot points and achievements. I tend to lack the capacity for the enjoyment of subtleness or the nuances that come with a vast, open world of discovery. I guess I just get rather bored without progress or some form of productivity...(ironic again as my parents both view gaming as childish and not a productive use of one's time...which I vehemently disagree on a number of levels, one of which being puzzle solving, but I digress...). Nonetheless, my opinion of such games should not influence another's expectations of this title. I'm just the kind of guy that can't figure out what to do in Fallout 4 after the major storyline is finished as it bears little weight on the finale...

Replayability/Replay Value: Questionable/Varies
Overall Score: 8.75/10.0 - Worth a Purchase
Grade Score: A-

Worth noting (perhaps...they don't really bother me all too much) were a few frame-rate drops (namely when I was working with explosives or running around Kakariko Village). That may frustrate players who are accustomed to a "standard" of 60 frames per second. In addition, some other reviewers have complained of inopportune instances of the "Blood Moon Rising" cutscenes interfering with puzzles in the outer world (not the shrines) and boss fights. In some instances, refreshing the boss fights to the very beginning...but I haven't experienced any such issues. Probably because I was doing a substantial amount of climbing during those times...I also avoided areas that I knew were going to be quite hostile. The motion controls for the Myahm Agana Shrine, weren't a challenge to me at all with my level of coordination, so I fail to see what all of the fuss is about (although the Nintendo Switch has been known at launch to have some synchronization issues, especially with the left Joy-con) with regards to that. At any point players could press the B button during the motion control portion, lay the controller on a flat surface, then re-attempt to maneuver the ball to the goal...the number of complaints to me seems a bit bizarre to be perfectly honest. The trick is to fling the ball upward on the last stretch so it can make the gap...

I think my biggest disappointment was that Ganon in this iteration had NO human form. No dialogue, no monologue about power or corruption. That, to me, was a huge letdown. A story's protagonist is only as impactful as the villain's ambitions...I enjoyed when Ganondorf had a grand speech in Wind Waker about his homeland and how envious he was of the land of made him relatable, and I actually took pity upon him. It's reminiscent of Batman's rogue, Mr. Freeze in a way, a villain you can't help but feel empathy for. In this game, he is a "faceless" entity of destruction. It can't be reasoned with, it can't be understood. It just EXISTS. I'm still puzzled as to how he claimed the "guardians" that the Sheikah from 10,000 years ago crafted. That to me, was alarming. A neutral force that aided the Hero of Time more than a millennia ago...yet suddenly, it's under Ganon's control? That particular detail seemed really suspicious to me and I've wanted more information ever since.

I've decided to purchase the DLC Season Pass for the additional $19.99 (+Tax) but my concern is that it renders 100% completion moot now because if Nintendo updates the game with the new mode, presumably, all progress would be reset to begin the game anew on the harder difficulty (which is mind-boggling, especially when there are 900 Korok Seeds...).

I hope you've all enjoyed my review of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and I hope to continue to keep you all posted on upcoming games!