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Month: March 2020

Console Wars: A New Generation

I’d hate to be the Debbie Downer for Nintendo on this one especially right out the gate, but I’m gonna have to pass on the Wii. Now as a kid growing up, I never sought interest in the Wii as the whole motion control stuff just wasn’t the type of gimmick I was into, and I was already mentally built to actually use my controller instead of flailing around like a nutcase. Now I’m not discrediting the Wii at all as by the sales and by the numbers, they won, but the wow factor lasted as long as a wet fart in church. Not only that, I actually don’t know too much about the Wii besides Wii sports, CoD was on it, used to be backward compatible with GameCube games, took it off, motion stuff. That’s about the extent of my knowledge of the Wii and I’m sure that the Wii was a decent console at heart, but most gimmicks don’t tend to last very long, and since most people do prefer to be couch potatoes instead of standing and probably breaking their TV for swinging too hard. That and it was just a shovelware machine full of games that were good for about five minutes and that’s it, plus there’s not a lot of memorable games for the system that isn’t Wii sports. It did become a meme machine at least, so it gets that nudge of approval from me, but unfortunately, Nintendo went a completely different direction in this portion of the console war, but it made sense since Nintendo basically went to war with Sega and the Genesis, and went back to back with both PlayStations that Sony released. In a way, this was a bit of a break for Nintendo and probably a well-needed one since Nintendo basically was basically going through a burnout.

Although Nintendo did win by sales, they by no means won by the quality of games, and yes, WiiSports was the most lit game to own, but still, they didn’t really compete in this console war, as the true console war was between two consoles that everyone is familiar with.

The Xbox vs PlayStation war truly started with the release of the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360, and these two consoles were the absolute pinnacle of the console wars. Remember when you would get bullied in school if you owned an Xbox 360 and not a PS3? That’s how ruthless it would get, as people saw Xbox as an absolute joke of a system, yet all of the most popular videos on YouTube in the Seventh Generation, came from the Xbox 360. I will be going more in-depth on both of these systems clashing together, but let’s have a rundown of both systems first before we continue on.

The PlayStation 3

After the overwhelming success of the PS2, everyone wondered what the PlayStation 3 was going to be like, and what could they possibly do to this next PlayStation that could possibly be better than its predecessors. Well, we got the PS3, and what a rough start. Released on November 17th, 2006, the PS3 retailed for 500 dollars for 20 GB of storage, and 600 dollars for 60 GB of storage. First of all: Jesus Christ on a bicycle that’s expensive. Second: What in the blue hell is that storage? Well back in 2006, that much storage was actually necessary as games weren’t so big in storage. As for the reason as to why the pricing was so high at first, it was because the PS3 was basically the PS1 and PS2 clumped together and it took some heavy steroids. If you owned the old fat daddy PlayStation that was thicc with three C’s, it was backwards compatible with PS1 and PS2 games, as well it can play Blu Ray DVDs, regular DVD, and albums. So in fairness, you were getting the absolute unit if you purchased the OG PlayStation, but unfortunately that would make sales not so great at first as not a lot of people were willing to drill a hole in their wallets for a console that had as much storage as a five-year-olds brain. Keep in mind that 600 dollars was a lot of money. Nowadays that’s chump change. Their console did start to fly off the shelves however with the release of the PS3 Slim in 2009 and with a whole lot more storage to be released with it. It was a lot cheaper compared to the original, however, you would lose PS2 compatibility if you bought the slim model. The slim model is probably the model everyone owns at this rate and it’s easily the most popular of the three models released for the PS3 and it’s what made the PS3 have a heavy rebound against the 360, while belted out exclusive title after exclusive title to go against them with games like Killzone, Uncharted, Little Big Planet, God of War, the entire PS1 library, Patapon, well unless that’s a PSP exclusive but it also had the PSP to go along with it, Army of Two, Monster Hunter for a quick spell, Ratchet and Clank, and the list keeps on going. Their third model was released in 2012, and that’s really it. No one really cared for the super slim as the PS4 was coming out the very next year when it was released. It had a sliding door though, so that was neat.

The Xbox 360

Released on November 22nd, 2005 the Xbox 360 had a one year head start on the PS3 and it was pretty much ready for war. Retailing at a nice 300 dollars for the Core Edition and a swallowable 400 for the premium edition, the system started production only 69 days- stop giggling back there. I can hear you laughing. 69 days before the system had launched and I can’t really think of a reason as to why they would wait over two months to start the mass production of the system, and while it is impressive that they managed to pull something like that off, they managed to shoot themselves in the foot for doing that. Microsoft, unfortunately, caused the most infamous thing that the 360 is known for, and that’s the Red Ring of Death. You know your reputation is pretty scuffed when red rings is what defines your console, and what the RRoD was, was an error within the console. Now I’ve actually been a victim of the RRoD but luckily it was two rings, which means my system overheated, and I had heard stories prior to getting it and I nearly shit a brick the size of the console’s power adapter when my Xbox suddenly shut down while I was playing Battlefield 3 in an extremely intense game of 200% Tickets on Operation Metro, and that wasn’t a pleasant feeling at 3 AM in the morning. If you had two rings, all you needed to do was let the console rest for a bit, while having one ring was nothing bad as you would get an error pop up on your screen. If you got four then you probably forgot to plug the AV cables in, but the one you never wanted to get were the three rings. The three rings is the cause of a general hardware failure, which means something in the system is completely screwed inside of it. And you know your system has complete infamy when your system failure has its own Wikipedia. But despite these failures, the usual suspects came back to play with their own exclusives like Forza, Halo, Toy Soldiers, by the way, the 360 was a hell of an indie machine at its time, the Kinect when it was… decent, Gears of War, Crackdown, Minecraft which was another spell, except it lasted 7 minutes and many more.

Now although this article is rather short, I really cannot declare a winner on this at all. While Sony won by the numbers by a few million units, the Xbox had sheer popularity even though you had to pay for online services while the PS3 was free (that rhymed, #bars). Like I mentioned before, anyone who’s watched a YouTube video of Modern Warfare 2 or literally any gaming video during the Seventh Generation came from the Xbox 360. But besides that, both consoles had powerful exclusive titles to battle each other out. And I feel like a lot of the ideas where people think that PS3 won is mostly because it had a handheld that was basically its backbone at times, the PSP. And while it is a great handheld and both the PS3 and PSP were practically the exact same system, the 360 didn’t really need a backbone as it was just the console that had sheer popularity and infamy behind it. There really can’t be a winner by game quality or sales numbers, but by the sheer popularity of these two behemoths going against each other from 2006 up until 2013 when the next generation began, and I’m gonna have to leave this up to you folks as I’m not even sure who won this one.

And as we continue on to the current generation of the PS4 and Xbox One, the Wii U and Nintendo’s second chance with the Switch, we are nearing the end of our journey of the Console Wars, we’ve got another generation of consoles to cover with the Ninth Generation coming soon in the holiday season of this year. But I’ve brushed over a war that we all know happened, it’s just that someone keeps winning all the damn time, but with good reasons of course. Yes indeed, I am talking about the war that has a history dating back to the Bit Wars: The Handheld Wars.

To be continued… 

10 Interesting Facts About Animal Crossing

On March 20th, 2020, Animal Crossing New Horizons was released on the Nintendo Switch. It is the newest game of the very popular Animal Crossing series. Here are 10 interesting facts about Animal Crossing.

1.  The first Animal Crossing game was released for the N64 in Japan, since the Gamecube appeared shortly after the publication of the game, the N64 version was revised with graphics filters and brought out for the Gamecube. This is also the reason why Animal Crossing on the Gamecube looks graphically relatively simple and bad compared to the other Gamecube games.

2. Nintendo did not initially plan to release Animal Crossing for the Gamecube in Europe. The reason was that the effort for the translation was too great. After the complaint and some fan actions, Nintendo was forced to take on this effort. Two years after the American release came, Animal Crossing finally to Europe.

3. There is an Animal Crossing movie. Doubutsu No Mori is a movie about Animal Crossing that came out in theaters in Japan on December 16, 2006. A little girl named Ai moves into a village populated with animals. The movie also features some popular characters from the games. The movie was never released outside of Japan but you can find it on YouTube.

4. The Animal Crossing leaf logo has a special meaning. Japanese folklore believes that Tanukis can turn leaves into money. Hence why the series has a Tanuki as a shopkeeper, leaves as inventory icons for furniture, and the ability to sometimes obtain bells when shaking trees in the game.

5. If you visit in Animal Crossing Wild World the tailoring just before closing (11p.m) and stay there during the closing, you can visit the tailoring all night.

6. In Animal Crossing New Leaf and New Horizons, boys can wear skirts.

7. The character Gracie is a male in the earlier Japanese versions.

8. In Animal Crossing Let’s Go To The City, Harriet has a photo on the shelf showing Gulliver’s UFO.

9. Sometimes Tom Nook or Blathers is not properly present, i.e. lost in thought. you can see it from the fact that they repeatedly emit the air loudly and a white breath cloud arises. you should talk to them because they will tell you a lot about their lives.

10.  The pitfall is not only an item in Animal Crossing games, but also in Super Smash Bros Brawl. There it is also used as a pit. There is also an Animal Crossing Arena in Super Smash Bros Brawl.

Animal Crossing New Horizons is the first part of the game series that I played and I love it. I could never understand why there was such a hype about this game until I played it myself. I just enjoy creating my own little world where I can fish all day and find new friends. It is a beautiful game which is simple but does many things right. Animal Crossing New Horizons is without a doubt a great game.

By: Steven Landser

The Importance of Role-playing Games

Role-Playing Games are probably my favorite type of games to play, you aren’t confined to a specific story or at least not confined to getting to the end by a specific route. You write the story and the journey is uniquely yours.

I’ve found that because they’re a lot less confined than linear games, they tend to be able to teach many things that linear games can’t and can teach many things depending on how many paths there are and how many you decide to take, for example, two things that Detroit Become Human that are polar opposites are being a good leader and the horror of tyranny depending on the choices you make as Markus.

The Elder Scrolls series teaches us that even if you are chosen to do something, even if you are supposed to be the hero of the story. You can choose to not follow that path and the paths to heroism, villainy or simply fading in time are entirely in your hands. With role-playing games, you can touch on many more subjects in a much more in-depth way than linear games fail to achieve more often than not.

Using DBH as another example, it touches on abuse, good and bad leadership, what being free/human is and the choice we all must make of always just doing as we’re told or choosing to be our own person. With role-playing games, you can put more of your own personality into the character/characters or be someone completely different from yourself and gain a better understanding of the opposite of your path in real life without actually having to change your path in real life.

On the other hand, you might discover that the opposite path is the better path and role-playing games give us a better and more physical idea of what that path would be like. Not to mention that even if you discard all the lessons you can learn from them, they tend to be able to provide countless hours of entertainment to help us cope with the stresses of real life due to the vast amount of different choices, outcomes etc.

Role-playing is such a needed genre because you can learn so many valuable lessons and you get to be in another person’s shoes in a sense and maybe discover how something might look from another person’s perspective without having to learn the hard way in real life and be able to avoid the consequences of your decisions altogether. Role-playing isn’t always about living your fantasy, it’s just as often about discovering more about your true self and figuring out what you truly want with your characters being the medium in which you do so.

To summarize, role-playing games teach you unique lessons that only they can, they can help you escape reality for a time or discover your true self, they can take you on journeys that you might not be able to take in real life and teach you the importance of good decision making. Trust me, I saw Alice and Kara get hit by a car and you do not want that. Thankfully roleplaying games seem to be increasing dramatically and I personally can’t wait to see what the future holds for them!

Top Five Recommended Things to do While in Japan

This year I took my first trip to another country. I traveled across the world and lived in Japan for three months. I traveled around the country and saw many different things! I decided to make a list of my Top Five Recommended Things to do While in Japan. 

Number one is by far Mt. Fuji

If you are a nature nerd like me seeing Mt. Fuji will definitely make you emotional. When I got off the train and saw Mt. Fuji across from me in the sky I cried! Happy tears don’t worry, but seeing it really, really changed my life. 

Number two is Visiting the Shrines and Temples

Not only is it very peaceful, but you get to experience a different culture. There are some shrines in the middle of busy Tokyo that look like their part of their own world. It makes you forget you are in a busy city with loud noises and allows your mind to be at peace. 

Number three is Riding the Ferris Wheels

There are many different Ferris Wheels across Japan. Center Kita, Yokohama Cosmoworld, Osaka, pick your favorite and see Japan from a different angle!

Number four is Akihabara

If you love anime just go here. SO many shops and arcades with your favorite anime characters and manga. AND since Bleach is returning I’m sure you’ll see lots of your favorite bleach characters (my favorite hehehe)

Number five TRY THE MATCHA

You won’t regret it IS 100% life-changing.

Eizouken: The Joy of Creation

Contains spoilers for Episode 1 of Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na

This is perhaps one of the best viewing experiences I’ve ever had in the first episode of an anime. The episode left me with a smile on my face the entire time because it hit me hard in the nostalgia spots. 

Why?

Simply put, this episode is something that anybody that has been a creator for any length of time in any medium should watch. It perfectly encapsulates the process that happens when somebody begins creating for the first time. Normally I would try to keep my own experiences separated from writing articles, but as a creator, it’s something I can’t help but comment on personally. Everyone has their own stories on their creative journeys so I know most people won’t relate, but this is just to help illustrate how perfectly this anime captures the magic of building worlds with your own hands.

The beginning scene of the episode has one of the protagonists, Asakusa Midori, exploring the area around her apartment before shifting over to a scene of her mother going to pick up her father. The mother tells Asakusa to put on some anime and she does. She becomes transfixed by the wonderful animation and has a major revelation:

This sort of moment is always extremely powerful for anybody when they decide to start on a creative endeavor, young or old. It may not always occur in the same way as everybody for Asakusa, but that moment when you first start is often life-changing even if you don’t realize it.

I’ve personally been a creative writer for about twenty years now. I primarily dabble in fanfiction, but I’ve also created original works in the past. I can’t remember the exact moment I first started writing, but I can roughly recall the excitement. My first story was about a nine-year-old Pokémon trainer instead of a ten-year-old. I wrote fervently at any chance I could get and nothing would stop me. My mind wouldn’t stop racing with ideas and I just kept going deeper and deeper into the Kanto region, roughly following along with Ash’s adventures in the anime. 

The next scene of the anime has Asakusa looking down at the recruitment for school clubs, simply watching and drawing what she sees. She’s too nervous to go down for herself, but she’s also just looking at the layout of the school. 

Honestly, this is a hugely multilayered scene even if it might not seem like it on the surface. 

Many creatives are introverts on the extreme end of the scale. This isn’t true for everybody, obviously, and it’s a stereotype. However, it does have some good grounding in reality. Many of us can have trouble communicating with people and we’re enthusiastic and passionate about our work and ideas. It can be extremely difficult to find somebody that understands, so we can have a hard time connecting with people.

It’s also very telling of how artists operate. This is jumping ahead a bit in the episode, but the next scene has Asakusa and her friend, Kanamori Sayaka, go into the anime club’s screening of the same movie Asakusa watched at the beginning of the episode. In her own words:

All art is created from real life and from the artist’s own experiences and/or studies. The above quote is honestly the simple yet infinitely complex secret of creating settings and characters that feel real yet completely distinct from reality. It’s a skill that takes years to start emerging. Once you get there, you never stop striving for it. You watch the world, study people, learn about other cultures, and many other things.

One of my personal projects at the time of this writing has me working on a culture that takes heavy influence from the native peoples of northern Japan, the Ainu. I’m studying the history and culture in order to take what exists and change it in a way that still makes it feel real. Just like Asakusa watches the people milling about below, so too creatives watch the world on micro and macro levels.

There are a few more aspects of this episode I want to touch on. 

The first is the scene I was just talking about. 

Asakusa drags Kanamori to go to a screening with the anime club. Kanamori asks what’s so great about all of this,  and Asakusa just goes into a several-minutes long rant about the technical aspects. Below are just a few of her quotes.

As in the above scene, there are multiple layers of meaning, but the main one I want to focus on is just the surface level one. 

The way she talks about all of this makes her passion plainly obvious, but it mostly shows her technical understanding. She shows a very clear knowledge of how animation works, why things are done the way they are, and why they’re important. 

The hours that go into studying your medium of choice are endless. No matter how good you think you are, you’ll never stop learning. It will take you years to get the point of any sort of in-depth technical knowledge. Some things may come naturally while others may take formal studying. 

I’ve been a mix of both. I wrote for a long time, just jotting down whatever story came to mind. I didn’t really understand much about character arcs, worldbuilding, or any of that. However, I started to understand worldbuilding first, though mostly as a way to move the plot along. The first fic I remember that with was one called Heavens Rayn. It took very, very loose inspiration from the basic concept of that live-action CD-i game, Zelda’s Adventure. I built backstory and world for the nation it took place in, mainly because the plot demanded it. But it’s where I got my start.

Character development was much more difficult for me. It wasn’t until I started RPing on Tumblr in like 2011/2012 that I truly did begin to understand the importance and nature of character development. 

Both of these came naturally for me in time, but I have studied over the years to expand my knowledge of them. 

The next thing I wanted to touch on was the show of synergy. 

Another girl around Asakusa and Kanamori’s age enters the anime screening, and a crazy chase ensues. She shares Asakua’s passion for animation. 

The next few scenes unfold in a spectacular way. 

They discover that Asakusa and Mizusaki’s strengths help make up for the other’s flaws and they just start talking for hours.

This isn’t something that every creator experiences, but, sometimes, it is. Finding somebody you have perfect synergy with is one of the most joyful parts of creating when it happens. 

I have an RP partner of close to a decade at this point and we just bounce ideas off of each other for hours on end. I am not exaggerating when I say we have literally spent seven consecutive hours on the phone, just bouncing ideas off of each other. It is just pure bliss to be able to talk to somebody that has ideas similar but different enough from yours that you can agree but also disagree. We don’t always agree on how things should play out, so we talk about it. From there, we get even more ideas and it just creates an amazing feedback loop that is frankly addicting.

This synergy scene honestly just begins to build. It starts out with them drawing on pieces of paper taped to a window—

—but ends up with them fully transported into an animation scene, exploring the world and flying the ship, trying to escape enemies— 

—ultimately ending in a glimpse of the fully completed world.

It’s this entire scene that fully encapsulates and shows the allure of creation. It’s a truly amazing scene that I can’t describe in full; it has to be experienced.

This scene shows how two new friends go from simply drawing to being utterly lost in what they’re creating. They become a part of a small world that gradually expands until it feels fully realized. They get a glimpse of how things could be and they crave more of it. 

Allowing yourself to just let everything go for a while is so addicting and one of the most amazing feelings in the world. Seeing what you built with your own hands come together is indescribable. 

There is so much more I could say about this episode, but this is where I have to stop. If you’re a creative, then I suggest you check out at least the first episode if nothing else. It perfectly understands why creation is so magical and will bring a smile to the face of any creative, veteran and newbie alike.

Console Wars: The Bit Wars III: The End of an Era

So as we enter the console generation that probably the rest of us reading this article was born in, the Sixth Generation of consoles is something that no one likes talking about if they’re a fan of Sega, and not only that it was the closest thing to an Iron Curtain than Nintendo’s unyielding death grip on the handheld market. The PlayStation was dominating the market and the underrated underdog that was the N64 were battling it out with the number of games they were pumping out, but the minds of Sony had something far bigger ready to start the new millennium with.

Sega was bleeding money due to their mega blunder with the Saturn, and they wanted to fix what was wrong and do a right with what would come to be Sega’s last dance in the console market. Sega would release the Dreamcast on September 9th, 1999 in America and the Dreamcast was doing really well with a pretty good library to boot, and it was the console to start the Sixth Generation, with an interesting controller, the VMU and another slot in the back for rumble or other features, the Dreamcast was an interesting little thing upon its release, especially with the advertising behind it in the American market as in Japan, it already wasn’t looking good, but in the states it was doing fairly well, and it looked like Sega was going to finally be back to the golden days of the Genesis. Well I have bad news for you later on.

After going through a second fight to the death, this time with their ex-girlfriend Sony, Nintendo finally joined the CD revolution with a resounding lukewarm reception that eventually became God-like praise in its later years. The GameCube was released in November of 2001 alongside Microsoft’s debut with the Original Xbox, didn’t sell as well as expected, but it did become the cult classic of classic consoles for several reasons. Once again, Nintendo never ceases to fail with their overabundance of games that they decide to release, with their most popular game of all time to be released: Super Smash Bros Melee. Not only that, but games like Super Mario Sunshine, Super Monkey Ball 1 and 2, Perfect Dark Zero and even though it was an exclusive title for about 30 minutes, Resident Evil 4, once again, Nintendo goes to another bloody war for a third consecutive console generation battling it out with the other consoles of the same generation.

Now what more can we say about the Xbox other than the fact that it pretty much saved Nintendo from a fourth bloody war in the upcoming generation? Released a few days after the GameCube, the Xbox became its own color as it wasn’t planning on fighting over which color they could steal, but the Xbox was actually a beast in the making, while having some decent success in its first go. Now, unfortunately, I can’t really say much about the Original Xbox as I joined the Xbox team during the 360 years, but from the general knowledge that I know about the system, is Halo and The Duke Controller which is the daddy of controllers. Other than that, and unfortunately, I’m shooting blanks, and this isn’t Deja Vu, but luckily Game Sack has me and you covered on the games n stuff about the old Xbox:

So now, the elephant in the room.

While the Dreamcast was soaking in some well-needed success, it should be no surprise that Sony wasn’t gonna allow that by a long shot, and Sony wasn’t gonna hold back this time, no matter who was in their way. October 26th, 2000 was a day that saw the grim end of Sega, as the successor to the PlayStation had arrived: The PlayStation 2. Also, happy early 20th birthday to the PS2, I’m older than the system and it makes me feel like an old fart. Do y’all remember how I said in the previous article that the PlayStation was a Leviathan that Sony unleashed? The release of the PlayStation 2 was the Call of Cthulhu. I should also mention this part of the sales, but the Dreamcast in its first month was able to sell 640,000 units within its first month in the states. The PS2 did those numbers in a week after release. The PS2 wasn’t just a console as well, as it had the capability to play DVD movies and even play albums on the system, so it was the absolute Jack of All Trades. With these sales numbers happening in such little time, the GameCube on the way, and the Xbox as well, on March 31st, 2001, Sega announced the discontinuation of the Dreamcast, and it was the spiritual death of Sega, as it was Sega’s final console that they would release, and Sony became the new blue brand.

The Third and Fourth Generation of consoles would be discontinued in 2003 and 2004 respectively.

I know that this article is the shortest of the bunch, but I think it’s really no question that this generation goes to the PS2 with an overwhelming 155 million units sold and the overwhelming amount of games that it had beat out the Xbox and GameCube, and even though the GameCube had a strong amount of first-party titles, the PS2 was simply, a Jack of All Trades. While the GameCube had super strong games, and the Xbox had a controller the size of my head, the PS2 was just mowing down everyone with the number of games that were being released.

It was down to three as the Seventh Generation rolled on and Sega was now out of the race, and this next generation would be the beginning of a new war that would rage on to this day.

Xbox vs PlayStation

To be continued… 

Sonic the Hedgehog Movie: An Adrenaline Rush of a Good Time

When the Sonic the Hedgehog movie was first announced, fans of all varieties were skeptical with how the final product would look, given that there haven’t really been any video games being made into successful live-action movie adaptations. However, I can say with absolute confidence that the Sonic the Hedgehog movie will make you fear to speed away with it’s faithfulness to the original material, all while adding some extra fun to this wild ride. So slip on your pointy red shoes with white stripes and grab some gold rings, it’s time to go fast with my personal review of Sonic the Hedgehog.

Let’s start things off by talking about the main star of the movie: Sonic (his name is the title of the movie after all and the story is mainly about him). I’m sure that we all agree with how skeptical we were when Sonic’s first design was revealed in the first trailer and the original poster. The stuff of nightmares and the fuel of whether or not the movie would be watchable, but I can say with full confidence that I adore how Sonic looks, especially when they changed his design to look more accurate to what he looks like in the games. I also love the extra details they put into his design, like the quills put into his fur (like what a hedgehog’s fur is like) and making his fur poof out when he shakes himself dry in one scene; let’s not forget the fact that his shoes are held together with tape, (and his socks have holes in them) from over-usage, before receiving his iconic shoes.

Ben Schwartz did an amazing job giving Sonic his voice and bringing to life his facial expressions through the use of facial motion capture (this and any type/form of motion capture deserves more recognition). When it comes to Sonic’s overall personality, I adore his never-ending curiosity and fascination with the human world (our world); some of my favorite moments include Sonic making his own bucket list after learning about them and crossing things off of his list and when he finds a child-like, neverending fascination and enjoyment with the word “guac.”

It broke my heart when Sonic ended up spending many years (after being forced to flee from his home-world as a child) just watching humans from a distance (especially when he has an emotional break-down), out of fear of either side getting hurt because of him, especially when some of the people he watches become like a family. Of course Sonic doesn’t always see life as nothing but fun and games, when those he cares about are in trouble, he won’t hesitate to take a stand to be their protector (even if it cost him his life).

One last thing that I want to talk about Sonic, before I move on to the next part of this review, is how he’s not afraid to speak his mind when something that someone does bothers him; there were times where he called out a character or two about things they previously did, mainly because he was still processing certain decisions they were making that could lead to serious changes.

In case this paragraph didn’t give you a big enough hint: I loved pretty much everything about Sonic in this movie. Now that I’ve spent a good amount of time gushing over how much I enjoy this movie’s adaptation of our main character Sonic, how about I give the other characters (a mixture of another main character and secondary characters) some attention and talk about what they’ve brought to the movie. Let’s start off with James Marsden’s character: Thomas “Tom” Michael Wachowski, aka The Doughnut Lord, the sheriff of Green Hills, Montana (which a brilliant nod to the original Sonic the Hedgehog game that, sadly, just clicked as I am writing this).

While he enjoys being the sheriff of Green Hills, Tom wants to be able to do more than helping the ducks cross the street, so when he’s given an opportunity to transfer to San Francisco and feel more like a real officer, he is all up for it. However, when his lets the news slip to Sonic, after a series of awkward and dangerous events leads to them taking a road trip to San Francisco (Tom used a tranquilizer dart on Sonic, making him lose his bag of gold rings), that brings their slowly growing friendship to some crossroads. Fortunately, Tom’s wife Maddie, a veterinarian that Sonic nicknamed “The Pretzel Lady” after her regular practicing of yoga, is giving him her full support (given that Tom worked multiple jobs to help Maddie earn her veterinarian degree). Basically, these two are an awesome married couple that just screams “relationship goals,” although Maddie’s sister, Rachel, keeps on telling her to divorce him because he’s not good for her (which always made me confused especially how much Tom sacrificed for Maddie to achieve her dream).

Despite Rachel’s protests, Tom and Rachel help Sonic retrieve his bag of gold rings (and Maddie’s niece gives Sonic his now trademark shoes to replace his old, destroyed pair of sneakers). There are also some enjoyable side characters that have a small amount of screen time but are still able to make a big enough impression to stand out. You’ve got Wade Whipple (played by Adam Pally), a fellow police officer and friend of Tom, who is very dependent on Tom to tell him what to do during certain situations (he’s a character that’s mostly there for comedy-relief, but does do some growing up near the end). Stone (played by Lee Majdoub) is an agent that works for the main villain (Dr. Robotnik) and honestly, he’s one of my favorite side characters.

If any of you have seen Emperor’s New Groove, you’ll what I mean when I say that Stone is this movie’s Kronk. He takes a lot (and I mean a lot) of crap from Robotnik, but he still works for him and even gives him his favorite coffee blend while he’s working on his evil plot. I don’t really know how to turn into words in order to explain why I love this character so much (if you haven’t watched the movie yet, I would highly recommend it just to see why Stone is such a fun character).

Lastly, we have Crazy Carl (played by Frank C. Turner), a conspiracy theorist that spent the most time trying to find evidence that Sonic existed, although he called Sonic the “blue devil.” This guy is a lot of fun, especially since he knows that he’s not crazy, but nobody believes that he saw a big, blue hedgehog (can you blame him?), even with his quick sketch of Sonic (which was a hilarious nod the infamous Sanic meme). There are a few more side character in the movie, but their screen time was so brief and didn’t make them stand out too much that it didn’t leave too much of an impression (which was the only problem I really had with the movie).

Now we get to the part that I’m sure some of you were waiting for: our main villain of the movie, Dr. Robotnik (played by the one and only Jim Carrey). I’m going to start off by saying that Jim Carrey absolutely killed it in this movie! Before the movie came out, a large number of us said that he was going to break his back with the weight of the movie riding on his shoulders. Fortunately that didn’t happen, as the movie as a whole was able to carry more than enough on its own. Every time he was on screen there was never-ending entertainment, yet he also was able to keep you on the edge of your seat. In a nutshell, Dr. Robotnik wants to use Sonic’s power as a source of unlimited energy to power his egg-shaped machines (which is how Sonic gives him the nickname “Eggman”) and take over the world, basically your typical bad guy plot.

While he seems like an energetic, crazy person, underneath that messy hair and thick skull, Robotnik is a super-genius with an IQ of 300 and was able to achieve so much at such a young age. There have been a number of times where he gave Sonic a run for his money (I’ll let you decide how intended that little pun was) during this film and they’ve been enemies in the video game series since the first game back in 1991. Robotnik’s brainpower isn’t his only weapon, he can be very intimidating by himself and with his machines at his side; with just a subtle movement of his hand, he is able to tell them what to do and who to go after, so he’s not just some comic-relief villain. There were a few moments where his use of intimidation had me holding my breath out of fear for the main characters. All-in-all, I really had a lot of fun analyzing Jim Carrey’s performance as Dr. Robotnik.

With every movie, there always a soundtrack that can make just as big of an impact as the characters and the plot, and this movie’s soundtrack was just as enjoyable. Tom Holkenborg (who also helped write the musical score to Deadpool) did an amazing job composing the musical score, it really captured the movie’s energy and the tone of what the characters were going through. While not every song played in the movie is on the official soundtrack, the official soundtrack is very enjoyable to listen to and is worth listening to on repeat. There was even an original song written for the movie, which was played during the ending credits (Speed Me Up, written by Wiz Khalifa, Ty Dolla $ign, Lil Yachty, and Sueco the Child), that definitely deserves to be heard by everyone at least once.

When it comes to the movie’s plot and flow of the story, this one was fast-paced (given the nature of our main character), but it didn’t go so fast that you would have any difficulties following along. There were plenty of action scenes, but you also had plenty of moments to see the characters sit back and have some moments to bond with each other or even come up with any type of plan. The interactions between Sonic and Tom felt very real and you could feel how betrayed Sonic felt when he found out about Tom’s plans to leave Green Hill and move to San Francisco and you could see how that affected their bond.

When Sonic was conflicted and emotional he felt about wanting reach out and connect with the people of Green Hill, but telling himself that he can’t and he had to stay hidden (because that’s how he was raised back in his world). I honestly was about to cry during those scenes because it felt that real to me. Any moment where Sonic and Tom were confronted by Dr. Robotnik put me on edge because I didn’t know if Sonic was going to be captured and I had no idea what would happen if he did. Sure, there were some hints as to what Robotnik would do, but you didn’t know what the movie would show if that type of scene occurred.

At the end, you definitely were given a teaser that there’s going to be a sequel and given how successful the first weekend was, I have full confidence that there will be a sequel. All-in-all, I’d give the Sonic the Hedgehog movie a 9/10, maybe even a 9.5/10. It was energetic, fun, and had a lot of heart in it. The interactions between the characters were very believable and you could feel the sense of urgency when things went bad.

The music was enjoyable to listen to during the movie and even when you’re listening to the soundtrack itself (which is always a win). You might see some moments that seem cliche, but they’re the type of moments that just work in this movie. It would’ve been nice if all of the side characters got enough screen time to be equally memorable, but that would make the movie run a little to long (so I guess they were a necessary sacrifice on the movie’s part). Sonic’s design was fantastic and memorable, his personality and characteristics felt like something straight out of the games, shows, and even the comics. It’s the live-action adaptation of a video game series that I would say is very loyal to the original material.

So if you want something that goes fast, but doesn’t go so fast that it leaves you confused, then I would highly recommend watching Sonic the Hedgehog.

Top 10 Grand Theft Auto Main Characters

On October 22, 1997, the first part of the Grand Theft Auto series was released. But it should take until GTA 3 before we get with Claude, the first playable main Character of the GTA series. Here is my personal Top 10 List of my favorite Grand Theft Auto main characters.

10. Toni Cipriani (GTA Liberty City Stories)

Toni made his first appearance in GTA 3, where he is an important member of the Leone family. He is the main protagonist in GTA Liberty City Stories, which takes place years before the events of GTA 3. We see how he made a career in the Leone family and finally became what he was in GTA 3. He is a stereotypical Mafiosi who only does his job like a soldier.

9. Our GTA online character (GTA Online)

It may sound strange but I think our GTA online character deserves a place in the Top 10. I like the idea that we can create our own individual character in GTA Online. We get the opportunity to create a female and/or a male character, which we can design according to our ideas. The character of each player is different and unique in GTA online.

8. Franklin Clinton (GTA5)

In GTA 5 we got three main protagonists for the first time in a Grand Theft Auto game. One of them is Franklin Clinton. Unlike the other two main protagonists, Franklin is more of a calm person. He was a member of a street gang and often wears green clothes, which reminded me a lot of “CJ”. Fortunately, during the course of the story, the character develops its own goals, thoughts, and characteristics. He is therefore not just a “CJ” clone, but his own character, a good addition to Michael and the crazy Trevor.

7. Victor Vance ( GTA Vice City Stories)

Victor Vance is the main character in GTA Vice City Stories. Shortly after the story begins, he loses his job in the military. After being fired from the military, he tries to make his money from illegal business. But then he gets deeper and deeper into the drug world of Vice City. He is also the older brother of Lance Vance, a close friend of Tommy Vercetti. Unlike his often childish brother, Victor is a rather serious person who even reluctantly takes part in life as a criminal. Family is everything to Victor and in combination with his aversion to drugs is he probably one of the most human GTA characters.

6. Trevor Philips (GTA5)

Trevor Philips is without a doubt one of the craziest and funny characters that Rockstar ever created. He is one of the three main characters of GTA 5. He is an outlaw who often gets problems with the law because of his choleric freak outs. Trevor does not abide by the law and often acts only for his own benefit. In general, I always preferred the characters who were the craziest in GTA. What makes his character interesting is that you as a player, never really knew what you were up to. In other words, his changeable personality from a loyal partner to a selfish bully has always surprised me. 

5. Michael De Santa (GTA5)

Alongside Trevor and Franklin is Michael the third main protagonist from GTA 5. He is also the father of two children from hell, and the husband of a women who cheats on him. Michael is a former bank robber who is in a witness protection program after a failed robbery. But then one day he gets drawn back into criminal activities. Michael, with his sarcastic manner, is one of my favorite characters in GTA.

4. Claude Speed (GTA3)

Claude Speed was the first playable main protagonist in a GTA game. He is a rather quiet character who doesn’t say a word throughout the whole game. Not much is known about his past. It is only known that he had a small appearance in GTA San Andreas, which takes place years before the events of GTA 3. He often carries out his missions like a robot without thinking about whether it is right or wrong. Claude has a very introverted personality who never takes himself too seriously and never puts himself in the spotlight.

3. Carl “CJ” Johnson (GTA San Andreas)

Now let’s get to number three on the list. Carl “CJ” Johnson is undoubtedly one of the most popular main characters in the entire GTA series. After his mother was murdered by rival gang members, CJ returns to Los Santos. After arriving in Los Santos, his gang “The Grove Street” becomes more and more involved in fighting with the other gangs in Los Santos. We have to face the fight against other gangs, corrupt police officers, and friends who have betrayed us. One of the best features is that we can train CJ until he is a super athlete, or give him so much to eat until he is an overweight diabetic.

2. Nico Bellic (GTA4)

Now we come to Nico Bellic, the main protagonist from GTA 4. Nico Bellic is a character who fits perfectly into the dark atmosphere of GTA 4. Nico, who comes from eastern Europe, has a long dark past that very strongly shapes his character. Nico Bellic is a good example that the main character doesn’t have to be likable to be a good protagonist. He often tends to be violent, but in the course of the story, you understand more and more why he acts the way he does. Nico Bellic is perhaps the darkest character in the entire GTA series.

1.Tommy Vercetti (GTA Vice City)

Let’s finally get to number one. Tommy Vercetti has always been my favorite character in the entire GTA series. After being in prison for 15 years, Tommy went to Vice City. Shortly after arriving in the new city, he plans to make his way to the top of Vice City’s underworld.

A long and relentless battle for the dominance of Vice City’s neon-colored drug world begins. One of his most loyal companions on his journey to the top is his legendary Hawaiian shirt. He is not only the King of Vice City but also the best dressed GTA main character. 

I already looking forward to GTA 6. It’s been 6.5 years since GTA 5 was released. There are a lot of rumors about where and when GTA 6 could play. But what really interests me the most is what kind of main character we’re going to play. My wish is to have a character that we can train like CJ, who has the craziness of Trevor, and who has the ambition and cleverness like Tommy. It would also be nice if we had a female main character for the first time in the game too.

Who are your favorite characters from GTA?

Shadowed Flames: PTSD in RWBY Part 3

Disclaimer: These articles contain in-depth discussion on the topics of mental health/illness and topics such as abuse.

The writer is also not a trained nor certified therapist. However, they have been writing for twenty years with a heavy focus on correct, realistic portrayals of mental health. They have studied PTSD and C-PTSD in-depth and speak from personal experience. Of course, they only speak from one point of view as PTSD symptoms and experiences are unique to each and every person. This is done from a clinical viewpoint, using sourced academic literature.

More technical jargon (namely the actual list of symptoms) will be given in more everyday language when and where possible.

So, last time, we talked about exposure to the trauma and the first three patterns of intrusive thought patterns. Let’s pick up where we left off last time with the last symptoms of intrusive thoughts.

B. Presence of one (or more) of intrusive thought patterns related to the trauma starting after the event:

4. Intense or prolonged mental distress at anything that resembles part of the traumatic event

5. Noticeable physiological reactions to something resembling part of the trauma

Honestly, I’m kind of glad I stopped where I did last time for this. Looking at these two symptoms together, we can see them manifest in Yang together in one very noticeable way that pervades mostly through Volume 5, but also in Volume 6.

The subtle hand shaking.

[Image source]

[Image description: Yang in her V5-6 attire off to the right and taking up most of that part. She’s gripping her shaking left hand with her right, looking upset. A water bottle sits off to the left more in the foreground.]

[Image source]

[Image description: V5 C4 “Lighting the Fire”: Yang’s fighting the Branwen bandits when her hands shake, reminding her of the night that Adam took her arm. She’s holding her left arm with her right, eyes closed.]

[Image source]

Image description: Scene from V6 C11 “The Lady in the Shoe”: Adam taunting and trying to purposely trigger her. She stands off to the right of the frame, a back shot with her left hand and the fully extended Ember Celica. Adam stands in the background, just slightly left of the center in the background. He has his hands on Wilt and Blush, ready to draw them.]

Obviously, these aren’t all of the examples of her handshaking, but it gives enough of a good picture to draw on. The reason she’s shaking is that, even though she’s somewhat better, PTSD isn’t something that just goes away. She still has issues to sort through, ones that cause her severe emotional distress due to how she’s reminded of the night of the Fall.

I am going to make a bit of a digression here, but there are a few more things I’d like to analyze especially in regards to triggers.

The scene with Adam is horrible and speaks to his character. This isn’t an in-depth analysis of it, but this scene does speak to how quickly he can think on his feet at times even if it’s obvious. He did say he’d destroy everything Blake loved and so he goes straight for the jugular with her. It’s a devious move to gain any advantage he can get. He can tell she’s mentally weakened by what happened, and so he goes to purposely trigger her to elicit the reaction he wants.

The following scene also does bring up a good point about PTSD and mental illness in general.

[Image source]

[Image description: Yang and Blake in the frame, Yang to the left, Blake to the right. It’s focused on just their hands. Blake has hers over Yang’s which is a balled fist. The Ember Celica is fully extended.]

Sometimes just being there for somebody is one of the best things you can do for somebody with a mental illness. Yang is obviously triggered by what Adam is saying, so Blake steps in to support her and help disrupt those thought patterns which are being intrusive.

If you know a person well enough or they ask you, if they’re triggered, sometimes helping redirect the intrusive thought patterns can be a very welcome thing. I know when my depressive episodes get triggered by whatever, I definitely appreciate it when my friends help distract me. This is a highly individual thing, though. Each person is unique in their reactions and perceptions. It’s something that needs to be discussed with the person beforehand or permission given at the moment to do so.  

Getting back to the actual symptom listing, there is something I’d like to touch on specific to B4 as shown in the DC comics from Issue 3, “Rebuilding.”

[Image descriptions: Three panels from the DC Comics.

The first one has a back shot of Yang holding “The Man With Two Souls.” However, only the text “The Man” on the first line and “Two Soul” on the second line is visible.

The second one shows Blake handing Yang the Book. Blake’s fingers don’t cover the text “With” on the first line and “l s” on the second line.

The third shows Yang throwing the book with a “FLING” sound effect. The bottom of her right arm is still covered in bandages. Text box says “Just sad.”]

This is another pretty good example of a trigger in action, but in a different way.

In this case, the trigger isn’t about her arm or the Fall of Beacon, but the much more subtle abandonment issues Yang has. Blake leaving exacerbated the issues that had popped up long ago from learning about Raven. Here, seeing the book, a physical manifestation of Blake, causes those issues to surface.

I’m not sure if this ties in with the PTSD or not, but the little detail of Yang only seeing the part of the title where Blake’s hand was is a nice one. It might be a metaphor for how she can only see a small part of the situation rather than the whole thing.

I dunno.

It’s just a neat little detail regardless.

The glass incident “Of Runaways and Stowaways” can also count under both of these. It can count as another very good example of both B4 and B5.

[Image source]

[Image description: Yang in the kitchen, leaning up against the counter. She’s off-center to the left and in a small perspective. She has a panicked look and is gripping the counter. A shattered glass sits on the floor slightly off-center and more in the foreground.]

For these two, the sound triggers the sound of Adam drawing his sword as is seen in the momentary flash immediately following the scene. Fairly simple and straightforward, but still a very good example of these particular symptoms.

[Image descriptions:

Top image: The bottom part of Adam’s symbol from the back of his shirt glows red against a black background. A white slash is at the bottom.

Bottom image: Adam stands in the center of the frame in the ruined Beacon cafeteria. He has Wilt’s crimson blade drawn, ready to attack. Blake lays on the ground behind him, barely visible and looking toward the camera.]

Next time, we’ll head into Set C which covers the topic of avoidance and possibly Set D which deal with alterations in mood and perception of the world.

Sources:

Ciccarelli, S. K., & Noland, J. (2014). Psychology : DSM 5. Pearson.

The Importance of Self-Care

Self-care is not something I’m good at in the sense that I can’t say no to people, I’m a giver by nature. However, I’ve come to learn that self-care is just as vital as caring for others because you can’t care for others if your cup is empty. I have a habit of helping others until I have nothing to give and I keep helping even after that, as a result, I feel drained beyond compare to the point that I can’t even help myself. With all this being said I wanted to give a shortlist of things you can do to help yourself and refill your cup so you can continue filling others.

  1. Do something you enjoy by yourself, play your favorite game, take a stroll, whatever you enjoy doing, do it and take some time to be alone and refuel without any distraction.
  2. Let others help you, there is nothing wrong with asking to receive back what you give to people. Let them tend to you to the best of their ability for a change and understand what it feels like to be the one being looked after. This will also help you feel better when you help others because you understand first hand how they feel, ideally speaking.
  3. Have a good stretch, stretching when I’m tired or stressed is something I’ve found to be very stress relieving and rejuvenating. It doesn’t need to be a full-on yoga session, just stretch your arms and legs, clench your fists and jaw and release, things like that.
  4. Take some time to ground yourself, make yourself aware of your surroundings. A good grounding technique is finding 5 things around you and describing them in as much detail as you can in your head. Walking barefoot, holding something in your hands, focusing on a single object and doing “hands-on” activities are also great ways to ground.
  5. Last but not least, get proper sleep. Our bodies simply weren’t made to run on a completely empty, rest is a vital part of keeping yourself healthy physically and mentally.

Photo by Tatiana Stec