My First Fire Emblem
After years of wondering who the heck Marth was in Super Smash Bros, I finally decided to buy a Fire Emblem game. (Kind of. I gave my wife four 3DS game options for my birthday: Fire Emblem Awakening, Fire Emblem Fates, Super Mario 3D Land, and A Link Between Worlds. She gave me Awakening.) I know, it’s been out for a long time, but I haven’t had a
3DS, ahem, 2DS, that long. I have finally beat the game, so I have the right to play as Robin and Lucina on Smash Bros.
While Final Fantasy Tactics had more, well, tactics, I liked this game for the relationship aspect. I liked it when characters married and had kids. In fact, that’s what I spent most of my time doing. From my female Robin and Chrom hooking up to create the most powerful royal family ever to Sumia and Fredrick, Miriel and Kellum, Nowi and Lonqu, Henry and Cordelia, and other interesting couples, I had more fun shipping characters than fighting with them.
Gameplay and Story
The story was not anything special but had some interesting time travel elements. Due to the option to have perma-death (a masochistic option at best, due to how easily a character can die), most of the characterization for the large cast only comes through the optional character conversations and sidequests. Having the future generation take part is interesting but there isn’t much point to recruiting them, storywise. And to grind them all to an acceptable level takes plenty of time. Probably too much time, honestly. The options for replayability are there, but for now, I don’t really want to take the time to go through the game again. I do admit curiosity as to how things would change, though.
If you have a 3DS, this is a good game, but don’t expect Final Fantasy levels of story telling. There’s also a Free to Play mobile game out there with a lot of returning characters. I haven’t tried it out yet, but maybe someday.
Romance Book in Sage Eyes
Not too long ago, I had the idea for a romance within the Sage Eyes universe. It will be a short story, but I feel like it could be fun to write, to keep up the creativity. I will be publishing it incrementally through this blog and Wattpad, and maybe give it away as an eBook once it’s completed, so come back and check for updates.
It is Jenny’s wedding day, but she doesn’t know the man she will marry. So on her wedding day, when she realizes she doesn’t want to live that kind of life, she decides to run away to Felaronia, a nation where the women are in control.
Devrim, her newlywed husband, finds out about this and chooses to take back his wife himself. But his plan might not be as simple as he assumes.
Runaway Wife Part 1
A Dearth of Films
Quick! Choose your favorite fantasy film. Or films.
It was Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, right? Both?
Let’s be honest. There’s not much more than these two franchises that have graced the silver screen when it comes to representing fantasy. At least traditional fantasy.
So let’s define fantasy for this article’s purposes. When I talk about fantasy, I’m not talking about Pixar where toys and cars come alive and rats can control people by pulling on hair. Nor am I talking about fairy tales where true love’s kiss cures all ailments (or doesn’t), although this is closer. I’m not talking about dystopian futures where kids kill each other for entertainment. Nor am I talking about space operas about space knights and space wizards that are supposedly classified as science fiction but have nothing based in science at all. And I’m not talking about people with superpowers who fight crime and other people with superpowers. No, if you count those, then fantasy in films is making more money than all the rest of the genres combined.
Which is why it’s so baffling that Hollywood doesn’t do more of the traditional fantasies, and that when they do, they mess them up. Lord of the Rings was a huge success, both commercially and critically. But while there’s a wealth of book and video game material to choose from, Hollywood has shied away from what you traditionally think of in fantasy, with magic and dragons and swords.
TV has had some moderate success, with Game of Thrones topping it, as well as shows like The Magicians, Supernatural, Once Upon a Time (although this is more fairy tale), and The Shannara Chronicles. If you look into animation, you can find Avatar: The Last Airbender and several anime series. Perhaps the longer format is better for telling the epic stories of fantasy, instead of cramming a large book into one movie (each of the Lord of the Rings) or one small book into several movies (The Hobbit). But putting something on television, unless it’s network television, limits the audience. How many people have HBO? Nickelodeon? SyFy? Yes, you can buy discs on DVD, who buys DVDs nowadays?
There have been attempts at establishing other franchises, but many have fizzled out. Narnia, Percy Jackson, Warcraft (probably), Alice in Wonderland, etc.
So what’s in the making, or what has been done?
Game of Thrones has already surpassed the timeline of the books and is doing quite well. It is the poster child of fantasy fiction on TV. But that means we won’t see any movies.
The Magicians also seems to do pretty well for a SyFy show. But this anti-Narnia/Harry Potter is almost parody, not real fantasy, so I don’t know if it counts.
The Shannara Chronicles is a series on MTV, entering the second season. I actually watched it on Netflix, but like its source material, I found it pretty shallow.
So where are series like The Wheel of Time? Well, that might be coming to TV. Eventually. Maybe? There was an announcement nearly a year ago, but it didn’t give any details. So I’m kind of skeptical on that. And even if it does happen, would it be any good? Would it have the same budget as Game of Thrones, or would it be more like Shannara Chronicles? That is a big issue for TV shows delving into sci fi and fantasy.
What about The Sword of Truth series? Well, that was made into a TV show called Legend of the Seeker. Most accounts say it’s not very good.
What about Brandon Sanderson’s books? Well, there’s hope for this. He recently had his Cosmere Universe movie rights sold to DMG. So all his books in the Cosmere could become films. But there are a few issues that concern me. First, would they fit into two and a half hours? Second, who’s DMG? Would they actually be able to pull it off? We’ll have to see.
Finally, King Aurthur, which tends to be more psuedohistorical and not magical in film, is getting another movie this summer. Will it be fantasy? More importantly, will it be good? Who knows?
Video games are notorious for failing to translate to films. Just watch Super Mario Bros. Fantasy outings share the same fate. Here a a couple of examples:
Final Fantasy created a movie called The Spirits Within, completely CGI. While advanced for its time, the characters entered the uncanny valley and the plot revolved around some mumbo jumbo philosophy, so it bombed. Other films, like FF7 Advent Children and FFXV Kingsglaive were pure fan service.
Warcraft became a movie, but wasn’t very successful here in the USA. We’ll see if there’s a sequel.
So in the end, if you look hard enough, you can find some fantasy fare outside of books and video games, of different levels of quality. And there is hope for the horizon, but they aren’t necessarily good. Still, I believe Hollywood as a whole is missing out on fulfilling audience desires of escapism, and nothing does it better than fantasy. What books or stories would you like to see on film or TV?
Have you seen the Warcraft movie? Me neither. I don’t even play World of Warcraft. But I did play Warcraft 2 and 3. And the series as a whole has been concerned mostly about the conflict between humans and orcs. But what are orcs? In this series, they’re green. In Tolkien, they’re different. The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy had them as black. The Hobbit trilogy had them as white, even with the same director. Other series have borrowed from the concept of orcs and have their own versions. So let’s try to define orcs, inasmuch as possible.
Origin of Orcs
Orcs were created by Tolkien as an alternative name to goblins. They share linguistic roots with the word Ogre. Orcus was latin for the underworld and then came to mean demon. So while Tolkien created what we know as orcs, they have been floating around in our mythology for a long time, just under different names. Some works even have them at the side of smaller goblins and larger ogres and trolls. But Tolkien unwittingly solidified them into their own separate race, since the Uruk’hai did not appear like the goblins of Myth.
Role of Traditional Orcs
In the majority of traditional works using orcs or other creatures of a similar vein, they fulfill the trope of Dark Lord’s armies. Basically, they are the faceless, evil, stupid, or all three. And while they might be physically intimidating, their only real strength is in numbers. If not threatening, then they are at least comic relief.. They are nothing more than an obstacle. And not even the main obstacle. They are the underlings of the true antagonist, like Sauron. They have no culture, no morals, no worth.
These orcs are that way so that the protagonists can have enemies they can kill without remorse. If Gimli and Legolas had to kill humans instead of orcs, they wouldn’t be boasting about how many they killed. Seeing your enemy as human makes them appear less like your enemy. That is why leaders go to such lengths to portray enemies as subhuman, as ‘Others.’ And attempts to make your own army more frightening by deemphasizing their humanity just backfires. See Stormtroopers, the orcs of a galaxy far, far away.
With these orcs, the hero is shown as awesome for defeating them, without the moral stains of spilling blood. Because orc blood is green goo. It’s not a sin to slay them.
Role of Revisionist Orcs
Modern revisionist orcs have taken on a different tone. Where in the first few Warcraft games, they resembled Tolkien orcs in purpose, by Warcraft 3 they were given culture and turned into another trope: the noble savage. They are a mishmash of different tribal cultures, not less intelligent than humans but not as advanced technologically as the humans they fight against. The conflict is more a conflict of cultures than good versus evil, and they are sometimes even portrayed as more righteous than humans, especially when it comes to ecological concerns. They are more connected to the earth. In essence, they are more green than humans, in every sense of the word.
As a side note, I’ve never liked the Noble Savage trope. It always seemed too patronizing and simplified. Native Americans, for example, were just as complex as the Europeans that invaded their lands, having both good and bad things about them. They may have respected the earth a bit more, but that would have probably changed if they had discovered metal forging on their own. They were humans, just like everyone else.
Biology of Orcs
Generally portrayed as humanity’s enemy, they may be humanized or monsturized, but they are not human. Or are they? That depends.
First of all, are orcs mammals? Most accounts point to the answer being yes. We generally don’t see them laying eggs. They often have hair. When there are females, they are shown with breasts. Seems like mammals to me.
The only thing against them being mammals is the color of their skin, when it is green (which probably only exists because people painted their Warhammer orc models green to distinguish them from other armies). That makes them look more reptilian, since there is no mammal we know of that has green skin or hair. But everything else points to them being mammals. See the video below as to why it’s hard to have green skin as a mammal, but not necessarily impossible:
Aside from their coloring, the biggest difference between orcs and humans are their faces. Orcs generally have upturned noses and sometimes tusks. What does that remind you of? Pigs. Warthogs. The Welsh word for pig is Orc. Orc rhymes with pork. The thing that seems to unite all versions is this: they’re pig men (as if men weren’t already pigs). Just like it’s hard to create something completely original, so people have just been combining animals and humans to create their monsters, orcs are basically human pig hybrids. Pigs are disgusting. Orcs are meant to be disgusting, so you don’t feel sympathy for them.
So orcs don’t appear to be human, but some sort of distant cousin to them, not only because they are portrayed as a hybrid, but because they can often interbreed with humans. Any two species that can interbreed can’t be too far apart. Maybe they are green neanderthals.
The Warcraft orcs are bigger than humans, wielding massive weapons. It’s interesting that they are built so blocky (because of the original overhead view on the computer screen) as they would need to be more blocky to survive at that size. Even at 7 feet tall, with their bulk, they would weigh several hundred pounds, looking more like gorillas than humans. Could something that big survive? Maybe. They would have to eat a lot to sustain that weight, which would be hard as carnivores. But it would make them a lot more powerful than a human. So powerful any fight between them would be unfair. Yet for some reason the human hero always wins.
So were do they go from here? Will they no longer be used as much, because audiences no longer want such simple enemies? Will the noble orcs be replaced by human noble savages? Is there a new branch of storytelling for them to follow, something different than what came before? Will they ever get a chance to be taken seriously, as a real threat to humanity in and of themselves, and not guided by a dark lord? I think that if they do continue on, it will be in a reinvented form that rejects the two mentioned above. Maybe they will be truly alien instead of pig men. There’s the potential for more, or the potential for them to disappear. Only time will tell.
What’s the Switch?
In case you haven’t heard, the Switch is the next Nintendo console. You can play it as a portable, basically a tablet with controls, or you can put it into a dock and play on your TV like a normal console. Last October they announced it:
First, I gave into the hype when I should have known better. I hoped for something that wasn’t realistic, given Nintendo’s recent failures with the Wii U. I had hoped for a powerful home console with great third party support (see my article here) but was wrong. Even after the announcement video, I still hoped for a portable with enough power to play something like Final Fantasy XV. After the most recent announcements, though, I do not think that likely. I fear it might end up like the Wii U, with little third party support, despite their claims of having many developers working on it.
I give the Switch a 50/50 chance of being successful. The idea of having it be portable appeals to me. I haven’t played video games on a normal console for a while, even though I have several games on my Playstation 3 that I haven’t touched or finished. But on my 2DS (I’m too cheap for the extra dimension), I’ve been playing a lot in my spare time. It’s just easier than booting up a console, especially since I have kids.
The problem right now is the software. Of all the games announced, the only one that really appeals to me is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and that only after seeing the newest trailer. Before, I wasn’t even excited about that. The new Mario game looks like it could be good, but it won’t come out until next winter. So I just don’t see a reason to buy this, especially at launch.
If it can start out strong, with the help of Zelda, then I think developers will give this console a chance, and it will become a real player. But if that doesn’t happen, I think it will hurt Nintendo even more. With two failures in a row, the company might just end up creating software for other consoles. We will see. I can always hope for something more.
This book is definitely thought provoking on many levels, and for that I give it the four stars. The aliens are of no stock, Star Trek variety, although I never felt satisfied that I knew what they were. The evolution of humanity is interesting, if a little radical. But where it lacked a star was its comprehension. With so much technobabble, I had a hard time following. And a lot of the ending didn’t really make sense, nor am I sure what exactly happened with the main character. But it still was intriguing.
The Electronic Entertainment Expo, better known as E3, a place where video game companies show off their future games and consoles, finished over a week ago, but I’m still processing what I saw there, and I only focused on a small portion of the event. It has been an interesting year, including the behind-the-scenes speculation I came across. Here I’m going to focus on what impacted me, personally.
I’m not the gamer I used to be. When I was a teenager, I used to play each day. I was mostly into RPGs, but would still play multiplayer games with my brothers. Now, though, I don’t have nearly as many opportunities as I used to. I have a job, a wife, a baby, am going through a masters program, plus I’m writing a book and the content for this site. All of these things get in the way of playing video games. Plus my interest has waned. FPSs never interested me much, and a lot of RPGs are getting more gritty, something I don’t care for. So I’ve focused my attention this conference on two main titles that interested me, a throwback to my first gaming experiences. These were Final Fantasy XV and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Neither of these blew me away, but they do look interesting.
Final Fantasy XV
Final Fantasy XV didn’t really seem to reveal a whole lot of new stuff. I think we’re at a point that not much new stuff will come out, you’ll just have to experience everything in the game. So far the story doesn’t look fantastic, but I optimistically think that they’re just hiding it so you can experience it in-game, which I don’t mind. Better than revealing everything like recent movie trailers have done.
I saw some new stuff for Kingsglaive, the Final Fantasy XV tie-in movie. Square produced two other movies for the Final Fantasy franchise, Spirits Within and FFVII Advent Children, but neither came close to the games in terms of quality storytelling, although the graphics looked beautiful for their time. Kingsglaive might have the same problem. It looks nice, but I don’t know that it’s really necessary and I doubt it will draw many newcomers to the franchise, so I question the need to do it. It’s supposed to tell parts of the story that couldn’t be included in the game, but I would rather just have the game itself tell everything. I don’t really like the trend of storytelling through multiple platforms, because if you don’t go through each platform, then you miss out on content. We’ll see how this strategy works out.
There also was a little bit about a VR version of XV, but it looked stupid, just a way to ogle the character Cindy (who I don’t like because the whole point of her seems to be eye candy. I’m married, and if my wife sees me playing and she’s around, things would get uncomfortable. I wish they hadn’t designed her that way).
Nintendo had the opposite position with Zelda at E3. Instead of nothing new, everything was new. This was the first real look at the new Zelda game, coming to Wii-U and the NX in March 2017. I thought there were some nice ideas, but as others have pointed out, if you take away the Zelda title, they’ve all been done before. Weapon stats, breaking weapons, camping, and clothing is not really new and I feel like it’s lost its uniqueness by going that route, even if this was the original vision of Zelda.
Both Final Fantasy and Zelda have adopted the open world feel for the first time, in order to save the franchises. But the open world games have been out for a while now, so it’s more of “It’s about time,” than “Oh, wow.” And I personally don’t mind a fairly linear story line (as long as it’s not like the extreme example of Final Fantasy XIII). I felt the demos of Zelda showed a game without much purpose. The gameplay seemed to get caught in the details and lose the overall story, whatever that is. But we’ll have to wait and see.
Of course, at the moment, I can’t play either of these titles, because I don’t have either console (Wii-U and PS4 or XBox 1). So the information about the consoles at E3 has interested me.
I found a lot of this information in this Forbes article, so you may want to take a look:
From what I can gather, Microsoft only planned on showing the XBox One Slim at E3. But then leaks forced them to reveal their work on the Scorpio (a more powerful version of the XBox One, but would still play the same games) before its time. So Microsoft left a muddled message of: Buy the XBox One Slim! But then buy the Scorpio! Or just keep your current one, because they all play the same games! It seems the Scorpio would be useful if you have a 4K TV, which I know I don’t.
This announcement in turn disrupted the Sony announcement of the Neo. If rumors are true (4 teraflops instead of 6), it wouldn’t be as powerful as the Scorpio. So instead of announcing it at the end of their conference, they put in some filler trailers and ended weakly, possibly to go back and improve their machine before it gets released, based on what they learned about the Scorpio. So we still don’t have any official announcement.
E3 didn’t tell us much about the NX, Nintendo’s new console, so we still know very little. Rumors before told of a system more powerful than the current generation. Then Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aimé said something at the conference, in reaction to the news on Scorpio. He said they were focused on content more than teraflops. This makes me think that the NX was more powerful than the current versions of the PS4 and XBox One. It just doesn’t compare to the new versions. Still, if so, it’s not that bad, because supposedly developers will still be developing for the current versions and the new versions will just have bonus power, and so they could theoretically develop for the NX as well. Which is what I’m hoping.
I’m hoping the NX gets a lot of third party support, especially from Square Enix. I hope to play both Zelda and Final Fantasy XV on it. Then I wouldn’t have to choose between the two games because I can only afford one console. I think that is how Nintendo could win out. If they have the games people want to play on other consoles, as well as their own first party games as well, from Zelda to Mario to Smash Bros, people will buy it. That’s what gets me excited. But only time will tell how things turn out.
So who won E3? I don’t know, there’s still too much unrevealed. But it certainly made things interesting.