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What kinda name is that?

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Final Bosses

Essays, Not Rants! 359: Final Boss A mainstay staple of video games is the final boss. After a number of levels (or dungeons, chapters, what have you) you finally fight the Biggest Baddest Boss, the defeat of which leads to winning the game and the ultimate resolution. It’s the climax of the game, both from a gameplay perspective and narrative one: everything has led to this.   It’s important that the Final Boss feels like a Final Boss, though. I love Uncharted 3, but one issue the game has i

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KH3: GOTY 2008ish

Essays, Not Rants! 358: KH3: GOTY 2008ish   As I continue to play Kingdom Hearts III while balancing all these newfound adult responsibilities that have sprung up since Kingdom Hearts II came out thirteen years ago, I’m struck over and over again by how much of a flashback the game is. Not just in the way that it makes me feel like a teenager again, but in how it embodies a game design ethos that’s been eschewed by a more contemporary zeitgeist.   For example: Invisible walls.   Virtual game spa

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Thirteen Or So Years Later

Essays, Not Rants! 357: Thirteen Or So Years Later   I think it was my cousin who turned me in to Kingdom Hearts, years ago, via a ROM of Chain of Memories. It was a novel game, mixing as it did Disney worlds with a Final Fantasy mentality. I played the original PS2 game later and shortly after rented the third game, Kingdom Hearts II from Blockbuster (remember those?) and subsequently bought it. This was all back around the summer of 2006.   This past Tuesday, the tenth non-remake game in the

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Colonialism... IN SPACE!

Essays, Not Rants! 356: Colonialism… IN SPACE!   While replaying Mass Effect: Andromeda I’m struck by one particular element of its central narrative: Colonialism. The game’s story sees a bunch of pioneers from the Milky Way, the Andromeda Initiative, arriving in the Andromeda Galaxy, ready to explore and set up a new life and all that. Turns out, their chosen chunk of Andromeda — the Heleus Cluster — is already inhabited, by the native angara and the invading kett. If the Initiative is to set u

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War Games But Without The War

Essays, Not Rants! 355: War Games But Without The War   I’m playing Mass Effect: Andromeda again, trying to polish off my second playthrough and nab that elusive Platinum trophy. With the sheen of "Oooh, it’s new" worn off, the game is decidedly a buggy mess, UI popups stay on screen long after they should have disappeared and I’ve spent an entire cutscene viewing my character as a party member blocked the camera (after we walked through a door whose opening animation didn’t happen).   It’s a bu

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Ahistoricism

Essays, Not Rants! 354: Ahistoricism   I went into The Favourite like I do with many movies: knowing very little and having seen maybe a part of a trailer. I knew it was a period piece (duh) and there was a Queen in it (also: duh). Anyway, after watching the movie I read up on it on Wikipedia and found, to my immense surprise, that it was somewhat based on actual historical fact. It makes sense enough that I thought this movie was fabricated wholesale: there’s a Queen in power, nobles are vying

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The Joy of Exploring

Essays, Not Rants! 353: The Joy of Exploring   I continue to be endlessly fascinated by Breath of The Wild’s open world. Since the last time I talked about the game I’ve taken on one more Divine Beast, but I still spend so much of my time exploring Hyrule and trying to find everything.   Which of course makes me wonder why I find this wandering so satisfying. I have a completionist streak in me, a part of me that wants to finish everything. Get all the dang feathers in Assassin’s Creed II, unloc

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2018 in Review

Essays, Not Rants! 352: 2018 In Review   2018 came and, as years are wont to do, went. Stuff happened, I wrote blog posts; you know the drill. It’s time to look back on the year and stop writing this silly excuse for a preamble.   Five Most Popular/Viewed Posts   #5: On Crazy Rich Asians   As someone who’s spent a good deal of his life in Singapore, it stands to reason that seeing a big movie about Singapore would be a bit of a deal. Crazy Rich Asians is that movie and it’s one that I have a lot

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Spiders

Essays, Not Rants! 351: Spiders   Comics are weird. Especially superhero comics. There are people who come back to death, people with weird powers, people who lose those weird powers but then get them back when they come back to life. Also, y’know, aliens and monsters and crazy science ######.   Like I said, weird.   There are also multiple universes, and so multiple versions of characters. There’s a version of Captain America where she’s the biracial daughter of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones and

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Exploring Worlds

Essays, Not Rants! 351: Exploring Worlds   I have a complex relationship with open-world games. On the one hand, it’s real neat to get to go explore a big world and do stuff. On the other, I really like the more catered, narrative experience offered by more linear games. On the other other hand, open-worlds are kinda the genre du jour for single-player video games, so I’m gonna end up playing them no matter what.   But first, a definition of open-world games. The idea here is that rather than h

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Top Ten Movie Challenge Thing

Essays, Not Rants! 350: Ten Movie Challenge Thing   There's a lotta images in this one, so rather than working to embed them all here, just click over to the website to read this week's.

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Playing Together

Essays, Not Rants! 349: Playing Together   Easily the highlight of my time playing Destiny was Vault of Glass. It’s a raid, that is a really difficult mission that requires serious teamwork and a pretty major time investment. It took work to even find a group to play with: I play on the PS4 and didn’t know anyone else who played Destiny. So I had to the internet to find a group who wanted to run Vault of Glass and were okay with bringing someone along who hadn’t done it before (me).   It took us

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The Mythics of Mega Man

Essays, Not Rants! 348: The Mythics of Mega Man   I cut my teeth on the Mega Man series of video games. Legendary for their difficulty, mastery of the games comes from getting a handle on their mechanics and memorizing stage layouts and the patterns of boss fights. They’re tough, and oh I love them so. Getting through each stage is such a magnificent moment of catharsis; and the good entries in the series are so well designed that victory isn’t because of a lucky break but from actually skill.

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Mary Jane Watson

Essays, Not Rants! 347: Mary Jane Watson   One thing I love so much about Spider-Man is how so much of the narrative can be stripped down to its archetypes. Peter Parker is an unlucky kid who’s suddenly had this great power thrust upon him. Otto Octavius is a genius scientist doomed for tragedy. And Mary Jane Watson is the girl next door.   A lot of the fun of the various incarnations of Spidey, be it different adaptations or reimaginings across the multiverse (see: Spider-Punk or Spider-Ham), i

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A Normal Teenager Named Lara Jean

Essays, Not Rants! 346: A Normal Teenager Name Lara Jean   To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before really feels like a classic 80s teen romcom, except it was made much more recently. It’s delightfully sweet, and has that uncynical honesty that readily calls back to fare like Sixteen Candles or Can’t Buy Me Love. Honestly, this movie is almost an anachronism, but a delightfully refreshing one at that.   Now here’s the thing, unlike all those 80s teen romcoms, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’s protago

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Poking Around

Essays, Not Rants! 346: Poking Around   Games have rules and expectations. If you’re playing a first-person shooter, violence is the expected solution to most problems. A puzzle encountered in an RPG is going to have a solution, though it may be one you need to progress a little further in another direction to be able to solve. The rule of thumb in point-and-click adventures is that everything you can click on and inspect is gonna hold something of interest.   Say you’re playing Monkey Island a

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A New Origin

Essays, Not Rants! 345: A New Origin   Captain Marvel’s new series, The Life of Captain Marvel, sees Carol taking some time to reassess. In the aftermath of infighting with Tony Stark and some other less than great events, she goes to her family’s summer home in Maine to spend some time with her mom and injured brother. There’s a lot of self-reflection, some reveals of family secrets... and a Kree hunter after, presumably, Carol. Because who else?   The Kree hunter closes in on the Danvers house

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First Man(liness)

Essays, Not Rants! 344: First Man(liness)   I’m a little tired of manly manliness in cinema. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll always have a soft spot Predator, Die Hard, or a good Spaghetti Westerns. But it’s 2018 and I’m kinda tired of that being the MO for male characters, especially manliness for the sake of manliness, like that 50s stoic, silent masculinity. In short, I’m really tired of 'traditional' masculinity, especially when it’s idolized and unquestioned.   Which leads me to First Man, the new

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Classically Petty

Essays, Not Rants! 342: Classically Petty   Don Quixote is a pretty important book, to put it mildly. Often counted one of – if not the – greatest book ever written, it’s definitely something you can categorize under Serious Literature. It’s also home to some outstanding pettiness and a magnificent take that to fan-fiction.   The book was hugely popular right from when it was first published. It didn’t take too long for another writer to think there was something to this delusional adventurer a

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A Dearth of Asians

Essays, Not Rants! 341: A Dearth Of Asians   I was talking with a friend at work the other day about Silk. The superhero, not the fabric. I’ve mentioned her on the blog before, and I do really like her, and am bummed her book ended. My friend quipped that I should be, she’s, like, the only Asian hero in Marvel. I protested, there was also Shang-Chi, and Amadeus Cho, and, and, well.   That’s about it.   We decided to include Kamala Khan, after all, Pakistan is in Asia and we have a bad tendency t

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Spidey's New York

Essays, Not Rants! 340: Spidey’s New York   Narratives are a two way street. What you bring to them is what you get out of them.   So let’s talk Spider-Man, the video game (again).   Spider-Man, of course, takes place in New York. Because, well, duh. Now, I happen to live in New York and have lived here for most of the past six years. I went to college at NYU Gallatin down in the Village and lived in a semi-lousy apartment (okay, pretty lousy, it was a six floor walkup and there was no sink in t

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Captain Marvel Trailer

Essays, Not Rants! 339: Captain Marvel Trailer   It’s happening.   It’s finally freaking happening.   On Tuesday we finally got a for Captain Marvel, a movie I’ve been looking forwards to quite incessantly since it was announced way back in 2014. And now, at long last, we’re getting a glimpse of the movie itself and what all it’s gonna be.  Needless to say, I’m somehow even more excited.   Trailers are tricky beasts. Sometimes they give away the entire darn plot. Sometimes they misdirect you

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captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel

captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel captain marvel capta

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I'm Swinging Here

Essays, Not Rants! 338: I’m Swinging Here   It wasn’t long after I first moved to New York that I found myself really wanting to be Spider-Man. Not for having spider-like strength or the responsibility entailed; nah, what I really wanted were those web-shooters. Confronted by the architectural chasms that make up the city’s downtown, I figured that being able to swing from building to building would really help me get to class quicker. I’m sure there’s something to be said there for how ingrain

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On Crazy Rich Asians

Essays, Not Rants! 337: On Crazy Rich Asians   Crazy Rich Asians is an odd beast for me. It’s a movie based on a book I didn’t really like, but oddly it’s one where I do like the movie over the book. More than that, though, it’s a book set in Singapore, a country I’m not used to seeing on screen. Also where, of all the places I’ve lived, I’ve racked up the most years of residence. And now I’m seeing streets I’ve driven on and places I’ve eaten on a movie screen in New York City.   It’s surreal,

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