My Thoughts on E3 and the Future Consoles

E3

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).

Zelda

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.

Consoles

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:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2016/06/23/the-very-different-problems-facing-xbox-scorpio-playstation-neo-and-nintendo-nx-in-2017/#25fd985c59b4

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.

 

What does ‘Balance the Force’ Mean? Star Wars

Balance

I was recently watching the Star Wars prequel trilogy with my wife, who grew up with those movies and later came upon the original trilogy. It was her nostalgia versus mine. I was quick to point out all the flaws in the prequels, from horrible acting, situations that are meant to be funny but fall flat, and plot holes, especially when it connects to the original trilogy. Now I know there are several issues with that trilogy as well, it’s far from perfect. But it brings a sense of vastness, of themes that transcend its failings, whereas I feel the prequels fail to open up, even when there were good ideas. Some of those that were underdeveloped were the ideas of Palpatine playing off both sides to come out the conquerer and the stagnancy of the Republic.

Another one of those ideas that didn’t develop enough was the prophecy that Anakin, if he were indeed the chosen one, would bring balance to the force. The main problem with that prophecy was that the word balance was never defined. What did George Lucas mean when he talked about balance? Here are some options:

Balance in Numbers:

The Republic basically has an army of Jedi. The Sith are vastly outnumbered, only having two at a time. If we want a balance in force wielders so that each side of the force is equally represented, the Sith numbers could expand or the Jedi numbers could be reduced. The latter ends up happening at the end of Revenge of the Sith: There are two Sith, Palpatine and Darth Vader, and two Jedi, Obi-Wan and Yoda. That could be how Anakin brought balance to the force, since he was instrumental in killing off the Jedi. Yet this option doesn’t seem like the meaning of the prophecy, since the numbers might be balanced, but the Sith have all the power and plunge the galaxy into a time of darkness and suffering.

Balance in Light:

Maybe balance doesn’t mean equal dark and light, but getting rid of the dark. If the dark side is a twisted version of how the force is supposed to be used and the light side is the proper way, then getting rid of the dark side would bring the force back into harmony. This is supported in the fact that Darth Vader ultimately killed Palpatine, and himself in the process, leaving only a good Jedi, his son Luke, to carry on and train in the force. But if this is correct, then why do the Jedi even worry about balancing the force when, until they discover Darth Maul, they believe there are no Sith? The prophecy seems to have been around for a while, but in this context it wouldn’t make any sense to the Jedi, who believe they’ve already brought balance to the force.

Balance in Moderation:

When I saw the prequels as a teenager, I assumed the Jedi were pure good. But viewing them now, I see a lot of flaws in their philosophies that showed they weren’t as good as they proclaimed. In the prequels, the Jedi have become set in their ways and fail to adapt to change. In this option of balance, maybe both the Jedi and the Sith are out of tune with the force and are so focused on enforcing what they believe is right, whether the Jedi with their staunch denial of emotions and normal relationships in order to enforce their version of the greater good, or the Sith with their focus on fulfilling their own desires and gaining power, that they fail to see what the force is all about, fulfilling constructive natural desires that build up society as well, like connecting, falling in love, and having children. The Jedi deny these urges, saying that developing connections leads to selfishness and so on until they go to the dark side. But when Anakin tries to deny his love for his mother and for Padme, it just causes inner turmoil and causes him to lash out. If he could have fulfilled the prophecy by moderating the Jedi’s interpretation of the use of the force so that it was fulfilling, then he would not have turned to the dark side when the Jedi told him to ignore his personal concerns.

Personally, I think balance is a combination of the two latter options. And I think Luke is really the chosen one, despite what Lucas has said, because he ended up defeating both Palpatine and Darth Vader and was able to begin teaching the new Jedi order without having the constraints of the past, but see where both sides went wrong and correct those attitudes, focusing on a more pure form of the force than either the Jedi or the Sith before had held. He knew the importance of family and forming bonds with people, saving his father because of those bonds. He also knew not to give into his anger, especially after facing Palpatine’s taunts that doing so would make him a slave to the dark side. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Rey is the actual chosen one and will bring even more balance to the force.

Part of Lucas’s problem was that he never defined what balance meant, so we don’t know what he intended.

Related to this issue of balance is an article about how Lucas had the building blocks to make a great prequel trilogy, but how he squandered them. While not perfect, I wish we could see this guy’s version of prequels, which would reinforce Darth Vader’s place as one of the greatest villains ever, instead of diluting him to an angry teenager like the prequels did.

George Lucas Nearly Wrote the Perfect Trilogy

And another article:

Star Wars Prophecy Explained

Beware of the Big Bad Book Blog Critic

Critic

Everybody’s a critic.

But who criticizes the critics? I was recently going through some book blogs, and I couldn’t help but feel that they were eagerly bashing well known books, which didn’t sit well with me, even though the books in question weren’t my favorite. A little digging on the author of the blog didn’t show her as a published author, just someone who writes a blog, yet she was going through the first chapter of several books and cruelly dissecting them, as if she was superior to these authors. She made some good points, but it went beyond that and got nitpicky, including penalizing the authors for using the word ‘suddenly’ and such. I don’t know about you, but when I read the word ‘suddenly,’ I don’t revile against the author. So it seems this critic is ruining her own enjoyment of books by setting her standards so high, yet she hasn’t published anything of her own, although undoubtably she’s tried to write books of her own. (Who hasn’t?)

It seems that critics are out to ruin our enjoyment of anything. She was criticizing books that many people have enjoyed, books that were deemed worthy of publishing and proved financially successful. These worlds, whether they effectively used foreshadowing, thesauruses, and grammar correctly, still transported us to another world. When that happens, do technical details matter all that much?

I recently saw Batman v Superman. While it wasn’t the greatest movie, it wasn’t so horrible as I’d been led to believe based on critic’s reviews. Most user reviews place it higher than the critics. It certainly didn’t make me as mad as Spiderman 3 or X-Men The Last Stand.

While no fan of Taylor Swift, her lyrics ring true:

“And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate…”

It seems the world is full of haters now, looking for something to hate. Donald Trump has basically based his campaign on hating, and people are buying into it. No movie or movie trailer can come out without the haters exploding all over the internet. Back in the day, only the ‘professional’ critics had a real public voice, but now people can voice their opinions on things they haven’t even seen.

While the politically correct thing to do is voice tolerance, it seems it is treating the symptoms without touching the real problem. On the outside, people seem polite and reasonable, but their inner frustrations come out on the internet, unfiltered and scathing. This is why cyberbullying has become more lethal than normal meet-me-at-the-flagpole bullying. Political correctness isn’t nearly as effective in creating a peaceful society as it claims to be, but has become more fuel for attacking people who aren’t PC.

So people, please look deep down into yourselves and see where all the criticism, hate, and negativity is coming from before spewing it out. Because it has real effects, even if you don’t see it. And please, just get over yourselves. Criticizing a book or movie that people love, that transports them somewhere else, won’t stop most people from enjoying it, and to those it does, do you really feel happy about sucking the fun out of something?

What I think about Batman V Superman

Batman

Sorry, this isn’t a review of Batman v Superman, I’m not one of the privileged few to have seen the movie before it came out, (if you want that, go here). But I did want to weigh in on my thoughts and the journey they’ve taken while waiting for the movie to come out.

Man of Steel gave me mixed feelings. I liked it, but there were things I didn’t like as well. Like the wanton destruction. And seeing it a second time wasn’t as interesting. The fights got boring pretty fast. In fact, I liked the trailers for the movie much better than the movie itself. So a few days after that came out, Zack Snyder announced that the sequel would be Batman versus Superman. At first, I thought the idea was ridiculous. How could a mortal Batman even hope to challenge Superman, and why even try? It sounded gimmicky. And for a long time, that’s all I thought it would be.

Batman Comic Book

I eventually got The Dark Knight Returns (graphic novel) from the local library and read the story of:

*spoiler alert*

An old Batman coming out of retirement, dealing with his frailer body and a city that doesn’t want him, finally taking out the Joker, getting accused of murder, and finally taking on a Superman (working for the government) that was recently weakened after surviving a nuclear blast. You know, all the things we plan on doing after retiring.

*end spoiler alert*

A lot of people have praised that series, but it didn’t impress me overly much, nor did it give me any answers as to why they would fight in the movie (in the comics it didn’t make a whole lot of sense, either, other than a way for Batman to go out with a bang).

Trailer

I thought little of the movie until the second trailer came out. Then it did something I hadn’t expected: it showed consequences to Superman’s actions in Man of Steel. And Bruce Wayne witnessed that destruction, which turned him against Superman. That spoke to a depth that Man of Steel didn’t really have.

That trailer raised my expectations. Unfortunately, the third one lowered them again when it showed Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman all teamed up against Doomsday. It took out the tension of wondering if Superman and Batman would get along (not that there was any doubt) and seemed to reveal the entire movie. The only thing that makes me cautiously optimistic is that some of the early reviews claim that the trailer didn’t in fact ruin the movie. So we’ll see.

They also say this is a darker film than the Christopher Nolan trilogy. I’m not sure if that’s good or not. Part of the appeal of the Marvel movies is how they blend the humor with the action. Man of Steel, the only movie so far in this DC cinematic universe, had very little humor and looking back at it, it seemed bleak.

No matter how the movie rates, I think some people will be off put by this up and down set of expectations. But they might also be curious. I think Civil War will be more successful. What do you think?

By the way, go Team Superman.

Is the Secret Identity Passé?

Secret Identity

Pre 2008, there was one thing all super heroes had in common, despite their differences in powers or lack of them. It was something they held sacred. A secret no one could ever know. It was the secret identity.

Sure, sometimes it was ridiculous (here’s looking at you, Superman), but no self respecting hero would be caught without it. But that all changed when Tony Stark sauntered in and had to ruin it for everyone in Iron Man, announcing to the world at the end his identity. And since then, secret identities have gotten lax.

Steve Rogers aka Captain America makes no effort to hide his identity, maybe because he was lost in time and his old identity means nothing now. Thor never cared. And in Man of Steel, Superman left a trail that let Lois Lane figure out his identity with ease. He might have donned on some glasses at the end, but from the Batman v Superman trailers, it seems he’s not fooling anyone, especially not Lex Luthor nor Bryce Wayne. And in this era of facial recognition software, putting on some glasses ain’t gonna do it.

But even more evident than the movies, the TV shows care even less about secret identities. Green Arrow’s list of people who know his secret identity has grown to pretty much the entire cast. And I recently picked up The Flash, who is doing the same thing. Last night on an episode, he was asked the question if everyone except the girl he liked knows his identity, and he said, “Pretty much.”

So why did the secret identity even exist in the first place? And why have we effectively gotten rid of it for the major superheroes nowadays?

There are four main reasons for superheroes to keep their identity secret. First of these is that it is to protect their loved ones from harm. The super villains might use them against the hero. This is evident in the original Spiderman movies, with Mary Jane as the damsel in distress whenever the villain figured out Peter Parker’s identity. On the flip side, Tony Stark doesn’t seem to care about anyone, especially in the first installment, so he doesn’t mind telling every potential villain who he is.

The second reason is that the secret identity is to keep the hero humble. We can identify with Peter Parker because he goes through struggles in school, work, and love, all without (usually) using his powers to his advantage. If a hero got famous because he boasted of his powers, he’ll alienate his fans. Of course, Tony Stark is already a billionaire, so telling everyone he’s Iron Man doesn’t change much there.

The third reason is that the secret identity serves as a symbol. Batman Begins went into the most detail with this, since the bat as a symbol of fear and the night was more powerful than billionaire Bruce Wayne running around with cool gadgets. Tony Stark, however, wants people intimidated by his intelligence and ability to make those gadgets.

The fourth reason deals more with us. We get some measure of entertainment and satisfaction knowing something the other characters don’t. This is nothing new. Shakespeare did it with plays like Twelfth Night. We want to be in the know. So when everyone knows, it’s not as satisfying.

So if there are these four, and possibly more, reasons for keeping identities secret, why the shift? Maybe because we’ve started to lose the concept of privacy. With cameras, facial recognition, DNA testing, and other technology surrounding us, we subconsciously realize that keeping a secret identity in today’s world would be practically impossible. It would take more superpowers to defeat security cameras than defeat evil.

The world has become a more complicated place, and superheroes are beginning to reflect that. For better or for worse, things are changing, including the once sacred secret identity.

So if you’re a loved one of a superhero, watch your back.

What Makes a Good Monster

Roc Monster
Monsters don’t exist, just in case you were wondering. You’re free to look under your bed now.
But why don’t they exist? What makes something a monster?
In old India, surely they thought of tigers as monsters who would take down anyone that wandered out of the safety of the village. Sailors seeing whales for the first time probably thought them monsters. But are tigers and whales monsters? No. They are animals, more specifically mammals. No matter how fierce, dangerous, or powerful they are, they can’t be monsters. Why?
Because they’ve been classified.
They’re no longer a mystery. They’ve been studied. They’ve been placed into zoos and aquariums. We kill many more of them than they of us. And they present absolutely zero threat to human civilization at large.
So again, what makes a monster? The mystery.
In some fantasy worlds, there are fantastic creatures, powerful, scary, and even threats to humanity. But many of them wouldn’t be monsters, because they’re too well known. So orcs and dragons may or may not be monsters, depending on how well they’re understood. On the other hand, in a sci-fi story, if aliens come to invade and we have little knowledge of them, they would be monsters. Frankenstein and Dracula are monsters because no one really understands them, and they’re not a species of animal.
There’s the old cliche that we fear what we don’t understand. While not really true in all cases, in some things, our lack of understanding gives it power over us. The best horror movies leave whatever paranormal creatures in the shadows, not fully understood. Their motives are alien, their biology uncertain.
But what happens when we create monsters out of each other? When we talk about serial rapists as monsters, it’s not just about the heinous acts they commit, although that is a big part of it, but because most people don’t quite understand what drives someone to do those acts, to bypass all moral constraints we’ve had in place since our childhood.
Sometimes we make a whole people we don’t understand into monsters. Muslims, Communists, Nazis, Native Americans. All these groups had both good and bad people (even the Nazis, who were mostly convinced that everyone else, and especially groups like Jews and homosexuals, were the monsters).
Many of the grand scale atrocities in history came because one group dehumanized another, making them ‘others,’ or a monster, and pitting us against them. George R. R. Martin even calls his monsters the Others in the Game of Thrones books.
So ignorance isn’t bliss. Naivety might be, but ignorance is just fear. Fortunately, we have so many resources with the internet that ignorance is willful as well. If you’re ignorant, it’s your own fault. So get out there and try to understand other people, customs, religions, and politics.
And if you’re writing horror, keep us guessing, don’t reveal too much about your monsters.

Why Fantasy Worlds Suck if You’re Not the Chosen One

Chosen One
At the heart of many fantasies is the idea of the Chosen One, one who is prophesied to destroy evil, bring balance, etc, etc. Harry Potter, the boy who lived, is one famous example. Anakin Skywalker is another, albeit with a twist. Then there’s Aladdin, Neo from the Matrix, Katniss, Rand al’Thor, Garion, the Pevensies, Richard Rahl, Eragon, Thomas Covenant, Percy Jackson, Emma Swan, King Arthur, Link, Sora, and others who fulfill (or sometimes subvert) this trope. Even Kung Fu Panda does it. Here’s a more complete list: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheChosenOne
There’s also another trope in fantasy: you’re either born with magic or not. Not every story does it, but a lot do, which is strange in a way. What abilities in real life are people born with that other people can’t do? Sure, some people seem to be more talented, but practically anyone can learn any ability (just not all of them). Yet in fantasy worlds, that’s not the case. Maybe because it would be hard to imagine a society full of magic users. Either way, it makes a tough life for the characters who are neither the chosen one nor have magic.
But then again, we never think of these characters, because we are meant to identify with the chosen one. Because the biggest fantasy in the fantasy genre is that we are somehow special. That’s one of the main motivators in reading/viewing fantasy. The idea of magic, at its heart, is of being special. In science fiction, there can be technology that’s so advanced it appears magic. But it’s available to everyone (might need some training, though). Magic takes you to an exclusive club, you might even be the only one with it, even if it takes training to master. It is much more about the individual than a society.
This is true even without magic, per se. Superpowers are the exact same thing, just usually in a more modern context. And then there are the people who get sucked into a new world *cough* Narnia *cough* that they have to save, even though they have no expertise, no knowledge of the area, no magic, nothing qualifying them for the task at hand, but they have to do it, just because. And of course they’re successful, even if they didn’t really do anything. Frodo had to sneak into Mordor because…for some reason, only he could resist the ring’s lure? Not some super stealthy ninja, just a hobbit.
So how do you think that makes the Chosen One’s friends feel? Suddenly Mr. Nobody is Mr. Hero because…no real reason. Either he was born with some power and is just now manifesting it, or he got chosen by…prophecy? Who exactly is in charge of these prophecies in the first place? It’s not very fair. They didn’t actually do anything to earn their place. And even if they go on a big, scary adventure, they’re the chosen one, they can’t die (or if they do, they come back to life).
Now you may argue that they’re like Christ figures, if you’re a Christian. He was chosen before birth, given a special destiny. But the characters in these books aren’t perfect (or if they are, they’re boring) and Christ earned his chosen status through his perfection. The Chosen Ones in stories are doofuses.
Either way, the Chosen One is usually not very qualified (Harry vs Hermoine), not the most powerful (Frodo vs Gandalf (or anyone)), and is usually pretty boring, aside from occasionally being able to provide snarky commentary or gallows humor. Yet they are chosen, while the rest of the world languishes without magic or destiny, serving only as orc fodder when the dark lord tries to hurt the hero by striking at their home.
So to all those non-Chosen Ones out there, who are stuck in dead end jobs, bad relationships, poverty, and bad health, and who don’t get a magical break from their sad lives:
It sucks to be us.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake Thoughts

Final Fantasy

Final Fantasy 7 changed my life.

I played the original Playstation version a few years after it came out, getting the Playstation in part just to play that game. I was introduced to a demo of it, and while it was only the first 20 minutes of play, I was amazed at the scale. The whole story managed to exceed my expectations. I had no idea video games could create such a profound sense of storytelling. I played the other Final Fantasies and liked them, but this one remained special.

There was just one problem. The graphics were horrible. They could give you headaches just looking at them. You basically had to imagine what it would really look like, as if reading a book, but with all the crazy hairstyles, even that wasn’t easy. Things like Advent Children came along and recreated the characters in life like detail, but they didn’t really feel like the original. I felt like they lost the spirit of FF7. I wanted the story retold, remade.

I had been hoping for this game for so long that I never believed it would happen. So I was stunned when the announcement trailer finally came out. Stunned, and wondering if it was an April fool’s day joke (despite not being April).

News has been pretty scarce, but then this trailer came out, focusing only on those first twenty minutes I saw in that demo so long ago, and I have hopes that they will be able to faithfully recreate the game.

I try to be optimistic, but there are a few details that keep my expectations down. Barret with sunglasses? His voice (are these going to be the actual voice actors?) Wedge’s squeaky voice was especially jarring. And I fear battles might get a little too Kingdom Heart-y, with sparkles all over the screen. But the trailer also lost the loftiness and mumbo jumbo of the compilation of FF7 games and media and went back to the roots, which is good.

I’m glad the battle system is not turn based anymore, it would look especially out of place with the new graphics. I just hope it doesn’t go over the top (although FF7’s summons could do just that, basically destroying the world to hurt one bad guy. Or the solar system.)

I am a little disappointed by the announcement to make this episodic. I just hope that each part doesn’t cost $60. I don’t even have a PS4 yet, and don’t want to add substantially to that cost. I also wonder how long we’ll have to wait between episodes. If it’s too long, some people might not stick around long enough to see the ending of a game they’ve already played.

Still, I’m cautiously optimistic.

More info here.

Triforce of Gaming

I mentioned that FF7 changed my life. Two other games did so as well, although not as much in the story telling department. They are The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and Super Smash Bros. So imagine my surprise when Cloud was announced for Smash Bros. I could now use Cloud against Link or vice versa and have them battle it out. I only have Smash Bros. on a 2DS, but it’s still fun. And there’s the possibility that this means Final Fantasy 7 Remake will come for the Nintendo NX, where I could play Smash, Zelda, and Final Fantasy all on one console!

 

10 Easy Ways to Become a Millionaire

Millionaire
Ever see mansions or Mercedes-Benz and wish that you were a millionaire and could buy those things? Do you scoff at the old saying that ‘Money can’t buy happiness’? Do you want to not only keep up with the Joneses, but leave them eating your dust? If so, thank your lucky stars because you’ve just found the perfect article!

The 10 Steps to Become a Millionaire

Below are ten easy ways to become a millionaire. They are fast, require little work, and are guaranteed to make you rich.* So stop feeling sorry for yourself and go get ‘em, tiger!
*Some conditions apply.

1. Go for the gold!

Literally, go find some gold. I mean, it’s worth a lot, so it will make you rich in no time flat. Why do you think California is the richest state in the union? The gold rush of ’49, of course! Helpful items when searching for gold include, but are not limited to: sifters, metal detectors, and pirate treasure maps (silly pirates, they should have just put their money in a bank and let the interest accrue). Once you have your gold, sell it immediately! We all know that shiny metals have no intrinsic value, but the stock market analysts seem to have other ideas. Show them how wrong they are!

2. Start up your career

Mark Zuckerberg’s baby is probably richer than you are, and Mark’s a college drop out. So what are you waiting for? Drop out of college, get some investors to back up your awesome tech idea, and get ready to roll in the dough. You don’t actually need to run a business, just have a simple idea. Hire analysts, business majors, accountants, and social media experts to do all the work for you. Stop wasting time wherever you are and get out there, now!

3. Inherit the riches of the earth

Face it. Your parents are holding back on you. How much money does it take to stay alive these days? Not much. Why? Because the government will take care of you. Not you, you, but your parents. Now I want you to demand all the money they have saved up for retirement, and transfer it to you posthaste. They’ll be fine, but you won’t if they don’t. And frankly, they owe it to you. I mean, who made those cute faces and said adorable nonsense? You, as a baby, that’s who. You just can’t hire that kind of talented entertainment. But did they pay you anything for that? I don’t think so! What kind of horrible people are they, expecting pro bono work all the way up till you turned 18? That breaks so many child labor laws, you could sue them. And do it, if they don’t cough up the cash. Just make sure your parents aren’t dirt poor already. Get some that have lots of money.

4. In it to win it

Now what are you doing, sitting at your phone or computer, reading this? Get up and get to your nearest gas station! Do you know how much money the power ball will get you? Enough to buy a small island, that’s how much! It’s like a no-brainer. I don’t know why the millionaires out there don’t go and buy up as many tickets as they can, but their stupidity is your luck. Now go out, buy your ticket! Or you could get down to Vegas, stay in a fancy hotel, and bet, bet, bet like your life depended on it! Bring the whole family so you can cover more ground! What place is more family oriented than Las Vegas, anyway?

5. Just do it!

Those people at Nike, they’re geniuses. No wonder all of their employees are millionaires with mad sports skills. Get a job with them. But if you don’t make it past the first interview, never fear! Buy a pair of their shoes and become a pro-athlete! They make the big bucks! Michael Jordan, in retirement, still makes more money than your whole extended family. So be the rich, eccentric uncle/aunt you always wished you had, and spoil those nephews and nieces (just watch out for your own kids, see #3).

6. Sing your heart out

#5 not working out for you? Then upload a video of yourself singing in the shower and you’ll be contacted by recording studios in no time! With auto tune, they can make anyone into a superstar! Just look at Justin Beiber.

7. Pot of Gold

Live in a state where marijuana isn’t legal? Then there are citizens clamoring for an untapped market. Or you could choose any other drug. The important thing is to give the people what they want. That’s what I call community service.

8. Kickstart your career

The internet makes these things so easy. Just go to Go Fund Me and make up a sob story like your rosebush having cancer. Then wait for the money to flow in. You’ll be a millionaire in no time. ‘Nuff said.

10. Know thyself

What could be more important than knowing your own identity? Stealing one, of course. Think of all the money you could make when someone carelessly leaves their computer open, their cellphone on the bench, their taxes in the mail, or uses a silly password like 1234? You can make bank while still teaching someone a valuable life lesson. It’s win-win.

 

Wondering where #9 went? Ask Microsoft. I’m still waiting for Window 9. But while we wait, start implementing these suggestions to be a millionaire. And if they work out for you, don’t forget the source of your wisdom. I’d love a cut of the profits. After all, this article did take a ton of research (and so far, nothing’s paid out yet). Thanks for reading.

The problem with Star Wars No One Talks About

Star Wars

There’s been a lot of talk about Star Wars lately, in case you haven’t noticed. Most people seemed to like it. I liked it. But anything this big will get plenty of inspection, and the movie has gotten plenty of criticism in several areas. “It’s way too similar to A New Hope.” “The plot relies on too many coincidences.” “Rey learned to use the force way too easily.” “Several characters didn’t get the chance to develop.” “It relied too much on cameos.” And all of these can be seen as legitimate issues, although for the most part, they didn’t bother me too much.

What does bother me, though, is a criticism that I haven’t seen as much. It’s something I’ve seen with other movies in series lately, with one of the most prominent examples being Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Now, I want you to think back. Which was more memorable, Avengers 1 or Avengers 2? Even though Age of Ultron arguably had a more sophisticated plot, for me at least, it wasn’t very memorable.

Now think back to the first time you saw Star Wars A New Hope. Which explosion was more satisfying? The Death Star, or the even bigger Star Killer Base? What destruction was more heart wrenching, Alderaan or the three or however many planets destroyed by Star Killer Base?

The Force Awakens had a lot of pressure on it to perform, especially after the critical reception of the prequels. J. J. Abrams went to a lot of effort to bring back the feel of the original trilogy, with worn down ships and sets, as well as the spirit, and he was successful with that. But this is part of the problem of Episode 7.

Star Wars The Force Awakens isn’t a movie.

In one sense, it is an homage to A New Hope. The plot is basically the same, with a youth taken from a poor desert home because of a droid with a secret and thrust into a battle between an evil galactic force and the underdog good rebels. The youth, with guidance from an old man and help from some friends, including a cocky pilot, learns about the force and awakens to their destiny. Along the way planets are destroyed because of a large battle station, they have to infiltrate said battle station, the helpful old man allows himself to die to a dark Sith with a lightsaber, and the rebels have to blow up the battle station before their base is destroyed.

J. J. took so much pain to wrest Star Wars away from the prequels that he basically copied the original, with updated graphics, language, and diversity roles. But like Han Solo said about Star Killer base, unfazed by its size, “How do we blow it up? There’s always a way to do that.”

In another sense, highlighting the problem of Age of Ultron, it is just a long trailer for Episodes 8 and 9. There’s a story and it comes to a close, but it seems like a half-hearted attempt, just copying Episode 4. It’s main purpose seems to be raising questions and hype for the next movies. One of Age of Ultron’s biggest failures was that it was just trying to set the scene for Civil War, Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War, and who knows what other movies.

Other movies in these giant sequences are doing the same thing. I didn’t see the movie, but heard that Fantastic 4 was just to set up the story for the sequel. Batman V Superman seems to set the stage for the DC cinematic universe. So while in Star Wars Episode 7 they blow up Star Killer Base, it didn’t feel quite as satisfying as when Luke blew up the Death Star, nor did the movie feel as self contained.

It is good to think about the overall story, but each movie should be able to be its own movie, nor be forced to work just as a bridge between the old and the new, without getting to be new itself. Which is why it already seems to be fading from memory. Even though Empire Strikes Back was basically a bridge as well, it expanded the universe in so many ways that it is now many people’s favorite. Hopefully Disney and other studios can resolve this issue as they go forward.

As a side note, I don’t know what the title of the film refers to. The force didn’t seem to wake up. Maybe the force within Rey, but that didn’t seem to merit a title treatment. I kind of hope for something more mysterious. Oh well.