Smash Bros Switch Predictions

Smash Bros

Smash Bros for the Switch

I’ve mentioned how much I love Smash Bros before, and now they’ve finally announced that the Nintendo Switch will be getting a new entry. Or an enhanced port, as they weren’t clear with the initial announcement, which is all I’m going with at the time of this article.

Whether a port or a brand new game, we know we’re getting new content. Others have chimed in, but here are my predictions on what will be in the new Smash Bros game. 

New Confirmed Characters

Inklings: This is obvious, as it was in the trailer. It will be interesting to see how they play. I assume they’ll be able to cover the stage with ink and maybe move around in it. How long will the ink stick? Will they be able to paint the other characters? Will there be several different character skins? I’m interested in finding out.

BOTW Link: I’m going to go in depth on this, because I have a lot of thoughts. The trailer clearly showed BOTW Link, but we don’t know what that means. Ever since the original Smash Bros, Link has been my main. But BOTW Link plays much differently than Links in other Zelda games, and I think it will be the same here. So there are several options:

  1. BOTW Link replaces classic Link with same basic moves, just aesthetic differences like the tunic, bombs, and other aspects. Not likely.
  2. BOTW Link replaces classic Link with a whole new move set. 
  3. BOTW Link is a new separate character, classic Link remains the same. My preferred option, as I love classic Link, even if he is only mid-tier.

So what new moves could Link have? I’ve seen possibilities of his specials using the Champions’ abilities. I could see some, but I don’t think they will all be used. For one thing, how would he be revived by Mipha’s Grace. He could also use Sheikah Slate abilities. 

Here are my predictions:

  • Up Special: Rivali’s Gale, followed by the paraglider. Simple. I think it could also have a tornado effect of blowing nearby characters upward, so there’s some attack element to it.
  • Neutral Special: Bow. He has the bow in the trailer, so I think he’ll use it. But maybe he has some way of switching arrows, so he could use fire arrows for extra damage, ice arrows to freeze an opponent, shock arrows to stun them, bomb arrows for an explosion, and ancient arrows to break shields. He could even fall slower if switching between them in mid-air.
  • Side Special: This one’s hard. Maybe a Sheikah Slate ability, like stasis on an enemy in front of you, or a quasi grab with magnesis. Or maybe just the boomerang.
  • Down Special: Link could stick with the bombs, but this time they would be remote controlled explosions. Or he could have a counter using Daruk’s revenge. 
  • Final Smash: Divine beasts shooting their lasers. 

I don’t think he’ll have a hook shot, because that wasn’t in the game, so his grabs could use either stasis or magnesis for the animation. His smash attacks might use different weapons, from great swords to spears. I do think he’ll be an interesting character. 

Mario: He might just have some new moves with Cappy.  If he can possess people, where they have to wiggle to kick him out, kind of like Yoshi’s eggs, then I see him becoming the ultimate troll.

Possible New Characters

Nintendo will most likely use some of their new IPs from the biggest Switch games.

Arms character: Spring man, Ribbon Girl, or Twintelle. Who knows? Maybe it will be like Bowser Jr with a different skin for each color. There will probably be long range punches, grabs, and other maneuvers. But I don’t see them handling the close range well.

Xenoblade 2 characters: Probably Rex, with Pyra following along. Maybe it would be like the Ice Climbers, where both attack and are hurt, or maybe Pyra sticks to the background and helps with specials or the final smash. Although I think it would be nice to have just her, as Rex is kind of boring.

BOTW Zelda: I would like to see either a new, separate Zelda or a revamped one, as she’s always been one of the worst characters. This new one could use the Sheikah Slate Abilities that Link doesn’t use.

Other Nintendo Characters

I’m not so sure about any of these, but there is a chance.

Ice Climbers: With Smash Bros on the Switch, there shouldn’t be an issue getting these veterans back, as the 3DS held back the last installment.

Star Wolf: He was in Brawl, but taken out last time. I liked him, and maybe he’ll return.

King K. Rool: Donkey Kong’s nemesis, many people have clamored to have him. 

Dixie Kong: She’s like Diddy, but she can fly with her hair. 

Waluigi: I don’t think he’ll make it in, but if he does, he’ll be Wario’s skinny counterpart.

Captain Toad: With a Switch port, Toad can become a real boy…I mean, playable character.

Ganondorf: Maybe he’ll get his own move set for once.

3rd Party Characters

Less likely, but the following have some merit. As I understand the rules for Smash Bros, characters have to originate in a video game and be a classic. So no Goku or Shrek.

Shovel Knight/Shantae: Both indie hits on the Switch, many people have clamored for them.

Crash Bandicoot: His trilogy is coming to the Switch and he is a classic of gaming. 

Dragonborn: Skyrim on the Switch did well, so maybe this character could come to Smash Bros.

Solaire: From the upcoming Dark Souls on the Switch, he has an Amiibo.

Rayman/Rabbids: Both on the Switch, either Ubisoft character could make an appearance.

Solid Snake: He was in Brawl. Maybe he can make a comeback.

Sora: From Kingdom Hearts, if Cloud could make it, then maybe he could, too. But that brings me to the next point.

Characters That We Might Lose

Not all characters last throughout all the games, and with the roster continually growing, some might get pushed aside.

Cloud/Bayonetta/Ryu: Any of the DLC characters could go, although Bayonetta is the most closely aligned with Nintendo. I would be most sad if Cloud leaves, as I ended up taking him on as my second main in Smash Bros for Wii U/3DS.

Lucina, Dark Pit, Doctor Mario, Toon Link: The first two or three of these clone characters should have been skins, not full characters, and may go back to that. Toon Link might step aside to make room for the other Links (or he stays and classic Link goes away)

Pacman, Megaman, Sonic: Sonic will probably stay, but other 3rd party characters might leave.

Conclusion

A lot of the big games on the Switch have reinvented the franchise’s formula, from Mario to Zelda, so we’ll see if Smash Bros does the same or is more like a port. Either way, I’m excited. I’ve been waiting for this game for a long time. 

My Wish for Smash Bros Switch

Smash Bros switch

Smash Bros: When???

As I’ve mentioned in another post, Smash Bros is one of my favorite games. It is also one of the most popular games for any Nintendo system. There’s been a lot of speculation as to how it will be handled on its newest one, the Switch. There are a lot of options and here’s my take on some of them. 

Port Old Games

Many people assume that Nintendo will port the Smash Bros for Wii U/3DS. Mario Kart 8 was successful. The logic behind this is that the game is well regarded, featuring a large cast of characters that are pretty well balanced. The downside of having it on the Wii U is that it didn’t reach as many people as it could have, so moving it to the Switch would get it to more people. Add a few new characters, like characters from Arms and Splatoon, and some new stages, include all the DLC, and it’s an easy way to have Smash on the Switch. Which is why many people wonder why it hasn’t happened yet. 

Personally, I like this option, as it would mean having Smash Bros available faster, in theory. I also like the balance better than other games, like Brawl, and would hate to lose characters like Cloud if they make a brand new version.

Another rumor is that Smash Bros Melee, one of the beloved versions, will be available on a virtual console in HD graphics. Problem is, there is no virtual console yet. I would welcome this, as long as it is not the only Smash Bros game on the console. Melee was fun, but its time has come and gone, in my mind.

Create a New Game

Since there’s been no announcement yet for porting the old Smash Bros games, I’m assuming this is what Nintendo is planning. There are some interesting possibilities on how to handle this, which I will go over. 

One possibility, probably the most extreme and least likely, is to completely get rid of the formula and create a 3D Smash Bros. I’m not even sure how that would work, but it could be really interesting.  It would probably play out more like an adventure game or shooter than a fighting game, but with Nintendo characters. Have Link or Samus snipe you from afar while Donkey Kong gets in close. The Switch can’t handle Overwatch? Well, let’s make NintendoSwitchWatch instead. Take that, Blizzard. 

Or they could do some other 3D style. People have modded it.

Another possibility I’d like to see is revamping the characters. Link’s moves haven’t changed since Melee, yet how many Zelda games have come out since then? This would apply more to long standing characters like Mario and Link, but I think they could have different versions. Ocarina of Time-Era Link could use the familiar moveset, but Breath of the Wild-Era Link could use his glider for recovery. Mario Sunshine-Era Mario could use the FLUDD for recovery and attacks, but Mario Odyssey-Era Mario could use Cappy to possess other characters for a short time. A version of Luigi could use the Haunted Mansion vacuum. We could finally get a version of Ganondorf that isn’t a clone of Captain Falcon (one of Melee’s laziest choices). 

What do you think Nintendo will do with one of their most popular properties? Does anything in this post hold any potential? Or will they switch it up completely? (Pun intended)

Spiderman versus Wonder Woman

Spiderman Wonder Woman

Spiderman and Wonder Woman

Recently, two critically acclaimed superhero movies came out from competing studios.  I’m talking about Spiderman Homecoming and Wonder Woman. Both have iconic comic book heroes coming to life on the big screen, breathe new life into their cinematic universes, and have received great reviews. But is one better than the other?

Such a review is obviously subjective and they’re hard to compare. But let’s look at the categories where each shines. Spoilers ahead. And before you think I hate the whole DC universe and am a Marvel fan, take a look at this.

Heart

Both movies have something a lot of movies are lacking: heart. They’re earnest and want to share their message. In fact, I’d say this is what has been missing from the DC universe films until now (which admittedly only consists of Man of Steel, Batman Vs Superman, and Suicide Squad). Wonder Woman defies the anti-hero doom and gloom and makes you want to believe in her goodness and purity. She inspires instead of brooding, acts instead of whining. It’s completely different than Superman as portrayed in this universe but similar to how he is portrayed in the comics. 

Spiderman also has plenty of heart, more than most Marvel films. Peter Parker is enthusiastic, wants to help people out and make a difference. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out so well for him, but he doesn’t give up.

Which film has more heart? I’d say it’s a tie.

Humor

Wonder Woman also has something the other films in her universe don’t. Humor. I’m not sure there was a single joke in Batman vs Superman, unless you count the unintentional ‘Martha!’ But Wonder Woman uses Diana’s naiveté and Steve Trevor’s wit to inject plenty of humorous moments so the tone doesn’t get overly depressing. 

Spiderman, however, is probably one of the funniest Marvel movies, and that’s saying something. At times the humor can take away from the seriousness of the situation, but for the most part it is spot on.

While both are funny, Spiderman wins this category.

Profundity

Wonder Woman touches on a lot of themes, from inspiring others, going out and selflessly doing what’s right, and the nature of war. That last one is particularly interesting, as Diana is convinced Ares, the God of War, is behind World War 1, while Steve Trevor thinks it’s just because men are screwed up. Personally, the way it played out, though, wasn’t very satisfactory. It turns out that Ares did cause the war, basically, and then Wonder Woman defeats him, which begs the question: who caused World War 2? The Korean War? The Vietnam War? The War on Terror? History tells us Steve was right, while the movie takes the simpler approach. It felt like the studio forced the director to abandon her themes from before in order to have a big final battle. But I was literally trying to stay awake during that fight, whereas before, in the trenches, I was literally trying to hold back the tears. This video pretty much sums up my thoughts: 

Spiderman’s themes are about proving oneself and taking responsibility for your actions. Though it is never said in the movie, the phrase ‘With great power comes great responsibility’ weighs down on Peter Parker. While showing the consequences better than other Spiderman movies, it isn’t anything new.

Even though I feel Wonder Woman wasn’t quite true to the ideas brought to the table, it still brought up a lot of deep and interesting questions, so I’ll give this one to her movie. 

Relationships

Wonder Woman’s relationship with Steve Trevor is based on mutual respect, not passion or hormones. He’s no dude in distress, but has his own strengths that complements Wonder Woman’s superpowers. I feel this is a more mature approach to relationships than seen in superhero movies. 

Peter’s relationship with Liz is more tell than show. In fact, every chance he has to spend time with her he turns down to play Spiderman. So the reveal at the end, when he finds out that *SPOILER!* the vulture is her father could have been more powerful if we actually believed he loved her. And when she announces she’s moving away, he offers pity but doesn’t seem too affected. And she does play the obligatory damsel in distress once in the movie. I think Peter’s relationship with Karen, his suit, was more interesting. This is possibly one of the weakest aspects of the movie, especially compared to the earlier ones. Tobey Macguire and Kirsten Dunst were good, and Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone were even better (the only saving grace of Amazing Spiderman 2). That being said, Peter has a nice bromance with his buddy Ned.

This one goes to Wonder Woman

Villain

Neither DC nor Marvel has done good villains up to this point, especially when compared to The Dark Knight’s (not in the DC universe) Joker. I’ve already mentioned my complaints about Ares. He would have made a better idea than a physical being, a phantasm that tempts men that Diana has to counteract with persuasion instead of brute force. And he looked silly with his mustache. The reveal was pretty good, though, with him in the glass. If only he’d stayed there.

Spiderman’s villain fares a bit better. The Vulture is more down to earth, running an underground criminal organization to support his family. And when we find out that he is Liz’s dad, that ramps up the tension. Now we wonder if Spiderman will kill his girlfriend’s dad. And there’s no magic moment he turns to evil, unlike the first two Spiderman films. I just feel they could have done more with Michael Keaton.

This one goes to Spiderman.

Formula

Wonder Woman defies the DC universe formula, mostly because it has heart and isn’t afraid to have a superhero who stands for something. It injects hope into the universe that was beginning to feel hopeless. Let’s see if any of that can continue and if Warner Brothers learned something from it. Speaking of formula, Wonder Woman breaks many of the bad Strong Female Character tropes that I’ve mentioned before.

Spiderman, on the other hand, had the Marvel formula applied to it. Marvel makes good films, but not great ones. They are fun and enjoyable escapism, where we know the heroes won’t die, but they don’t go deep enough to truly stand out. The closest ones were the Captain America ones, but Spiderman plays it pretty safe. It is made by Disney now, which has sanitized the Marvel and Star Wars universes, for better or for worse.

Wonder Woman wins because it breaks the formula.

Importance

Both are good movies, a step above the movies that came before. But I think Wonder Woman’s impact will stay longer than Spiderman’s. The first Spiderman was important because it showed that superhero movies could be good. Wonder Woman is important because it shows audiences will see female superheroes and because it basically negates the gritty, depressing feel the DC universe has followed up until now (trying to copy the superior Christopher Nolan Batman films but not getting it right).

Spiderman: Homecoming is a good, fun movie, but it won’t impact culture like Wonder Woman did. 

Conclusion

Both are good movies. Both have good things going, as well as a few flaws. Neither topples my current favorite superhero movie: The Dark Knight, but both were enjoyable. I think Wonder Woman, although it stumbles, reaches closest to greatness, while Spiderman was a very fun popcorn flick. 

 

Gone Girl Book Review

Gone Girl

Gone GirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was frustrating to read. There are some interesting things about the unreliable narration, especially in the first half, but the book convinces you to hate both characters so much that the ending was not very satisfying. It is good in that it constantly makes you reevaluate what you’ve thought before. The problems I had were more toward the end of the book, although the whole time Nick is making stupid choices that make things worse for him, which annoyed me. 
(view spoiler)
Listening to the book on disc, I didn’t really enjoy the language, probably worse than if I had read it. But the actors did do a good job with their voices. I’m just glad I’m done with this. And that my wife isn’t that crazy.

View all my reviews

Runaway Wife Romance Part 3

runaway wife romance
If you missed them, here are Part 1 and Part 2 of this short story romance.

Felaronia: Jennifer

“We’re here!” I yelled behind Mia’s back. She actually jumped a few inches into the air, threatening to tumble off the starboard side of our elegant ship. The sails whipped back and forth so that, combined with the waves, muted all sound. I was proud of myself for managing that to overcome that and still scare Mia.
“Jenny!” she whined. “I can see we’re here.”
“Well, let’s go!”
Felaronia’s port town of Octgard greeted us with colorful banners flapping to the screaming wind. The wetlands made it hard to create a permanent settlement along this part of the coast, so most of Felaronia was inland along the River Nesco. But Octgard held out strong and looked beautiful to me right now. Wooden buildings with a variety of designs, colors, and textures were visible from the docks where we had landed. One in particular caught my eye, a tower that gently curved from wide to narrow as it went up, reminding me a little of a woman’s form. Surrounding buildings didn’t compete with it, but accented its beauty like it had all been planned out beforehand. Nothing like the haphazard stone walls back home.
We got off the ship, filing onto the wooden roads of the docks. I felt a little uneasy, as the ground didn’t wobble as much as I had gotten used to in the last few days. It seemed there were two groups, divided almost by gender. The first were the merchants, mostly men who came on business and knew what they wanted, wasting no time as they went toward the city. The second group consisted of women like us, the immigrants, fleeing the effects of misogyny, false romance, and general injustice. We didn’t know where to go and still marveled at the sight of the mythical city. Sure, there were female merchants and male immigrants, but they were minorities. 
As the most noble among our group, I felt it my responsibility to lead them to the shore. So I told them to follow me and mimicked the merchants even as I followed them. Mia caught up to me, looking worried. At first, few wanted to venture out, but the submission that had been beaten into them for so long won out and they lined up behind me. We marched to shore, leaving the vessel of our deliverance behind as we faced our new lives. 
A trio of older women greeted us at the end of the docks. One wore her black hair in a bun, another let her long curly hair loose, and another had her gray hair cut short. All three wore robes, black, purple, and white. They folded their arms with amused looks on their faces. 
The one with the short hair spoke first. “Welcome to Felaronia. My name is Saphira. This is a place where you find what was lacking in your homelands: value and respect. But to obtain that, you must be willing to work hard for the good of everyone. This is not for the weak, lazy, or spoiled.” Did she cast her eyes on me? “We don’t enslave the men like they enslaved us. They are, however, subservient to us out of necessity. There are those whose ambitions would overthrow our society. If you find any, report them to us and they will be escorted to a country more to their liking.”
The one in purple spoke next. “I am Ynette. We realize that many of you are coming from situations of abuse and at the risk of your own lives. Because of this, you will all be assigned a mentor to help you gradually understand our culture, our laws, and our jobs. Any questions you have, you can ask her.
“If you want to pursue a career, but don’t have the skill, we can set you on the path of education. Also, do not despair because of lack of money. You will live first in the commons houses until your mentor transitions you to a full citizen. Like Saphira said, there is little tolerance for women who will not work.” Again, the look at me. Did they think I was just some foolish damsel? “Some of you might have even had easier lives in your homeland. But hard work will allow you to feel like part of our community. Come along and we’ll give you a tour of your new home.”
Mia clapped. “Isn’t this exciting?”
My mood had dropped a bit, but I still mustered up enthusiasm. I would prove these women wrong. Wiping the hair from my face, blown there by the wind, I nodded. 
This had to be better than a forced romance or marriage, after all.
 

Fire Emblem: Awakening Review

Fire Emblem

 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

Fire Emblem
My female Robin Character

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.

Runaway Wife Romance Part 2

runaway wife romance

Wedding-Devrim

Read part 1 here

“Jennifer, you ready for me?” I asked as I pushed open the doors to the honeymoon chamber. Let the romance begin.
I had waited for this moment ever since the betrothal became official. She was a beautiful girl, with long blonde hair, a round face, big eyes, and a great figure. While other men might see her height as off-putting, not me. Our eyes could meet straight on, although for some reason she decided high heels at our wedding, elevating her above me. She might have intimidated me if not for her shyness. Avoiding our kiss in public? Fear of talking to me? How cute. I couldn’t wait to explore her mind and her body, having her open up to me and me only. We would create a true romance.
“Jennifer?” I asked again, stepping into the room. A servant had lit the fireplace and the air smelled of flowers, incense, and a little ash. The flames, even from the other side of the room, washed over me with waves of warmth. The bed was across from the fire with a canopy of transparent red drapery and silky white sheets. A side room had a bath filled with bubbling water. The view from the window pointed away from the ugly capital and toward the forested mountains, where the sun crested the peaks. Even the rugs on the floor made me want to fling off my boots and let them tickle my toes.
I imagined my bride hiding in a corner, thinking herself not pretty enough, but the look on her face changing when she saw me marveling at her. I was truly lucky to have her as mine. Well, lucky and willing to take advantage of the major debt the Fronths owed my deceased father.
Now, where was she? I walked over to the bed but didn’t see anyone on it. She wasn’t on the other side, either. Under? I took a peek, feeling silly. No, not there. No one in the bathroom, either. I went to the window, but she wasn’t on the balcony. I didn’t know where else she could be.
“Is she still getting ready?” I asked myself. How long could that take? She left the dinner an hour ago.
Starting to get worried, I left the room and started looking through others, throwing open doors and shouting her name. I even found a few people in compromising positions, affected by the wine. But I didn’t care. I was the one who was supposed to be in a compromising position right now.
Should I worry? Should I be angry? I didn’t know what to think. Going back to the banquet hall, I found her father, Franklin Fronth Sr. Sitting down at the empty table with him, I asked, “Where is your daughter?”
“She’s not with you?” the older man asked. “She must be with her maid.”
“Well, help me find her!” I said, raising my voice. When people started looking at us, I lowered it again. What would they think of me if they knew I lost my wife on our first day of marriage? “Can you get some people to look for her? I don’t know where else to look. But keep it discreet.”
Try as I might, the news ended up leaking as search party after the search party was formed. If Jennifer was in the estate, she hid as well as a ghost. And unless she was violently abducted, of which there was no evidence, it became clear she had abandoned me completely.
I slept alone on the silky bed meant for two.
 

Where are all the good fantasy films?

Fantasy films

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?

Notable series

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.

http://geekandsundry.com/the-wheel-of-time-is-officially-coming-to-television/

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.

http://www.tor.com/2016/10/27/brandon-sandersons-cosmere-universe-movie-rights-sold-to-dmg-entertainment/

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

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. 

Conclusion

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?

Biology of Orcs

Orcs

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.

Super Powered

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.

Future

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.

More info about Orc tropes

My Thoughts on the Nintendo Switch

Switch

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:

My Thoughts

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.

Conclusion

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.