Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The United States and Same-Sex Marriage

I was in the process of writing a different post when I heard the news.

The news: The Supreme Court has struck down portions of DOMA. It also declined an appeal to overturn a lower court's ruling in California that Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in the state, is unconstitutional. In short, same-sex couples are allowed federal benefits and same-sex marriage is allowed in California.

I'm happy for this ruling, even if it took the Supreme Court for this to happen. I'm a little peeved that it took so long because the Civil Rights era was back in the 1960s, and even that shouldn't have existed! Civil rights, human rights, should have been equal to all, regardless of gender, race, and even sexual preference. We are all human beings entitled to our own happiness and peace; what does it matter to a person if they don't have the same views as another, so long as it is not trampling on your freedoms? I'm of the mind that if you live your life peacefully and your lifestyle doesn't harm another, live your life the way you want.

This whole ordeal regarding same-sex marriage and sexual attraction should not matter to another. Why? Because a person cannot be another person; you are who you are. Each one of us is an individual, each one of us is entitled to our happiness. And if our happiness is found in another partner, it shouldn't matter to other people if the partner is of the opposite sex or the same sex. What matters is that a human being found his significant other and his family and friends should celebrate this joyous occasion.

Please don't forget the final line of our National Anthem: "Land of the free, Home of the brave." To all those same-sex couples out there: congratulations. You're efforts have paid off and helped remind me that the United States is a country that stands for the freedom of its citizens.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

E3: The Aftermath

So, another E3 completed, this year filled with content regarding new consoles, curbstomping, funny memes and pictures, and borderline irrational reporting. Oh, and games, let's not forget the most important part of a console. So for this post, I dedicate it to what were, in my opinion, the best of the best in E3.

1 . Sony being a massive troll

Need we say anymore? Oh, okay...well, Sony pretty much took what Microsoft said it would do and gave it the finger. No used game blocks, no messy DRM issues (though it's left at the developer's discretion), region-free, and an attractive price point of $399. Publisher choice of DRM usage and PS+ subscription required to play online notwithstanding (though this latter part may not be that big of a deal), Sony confirmed what should be done for a video game console: an unrestricted piece of hardware capable of playing your library.

Though Microsoft has recently battled back...

2. Bayonetta 2 shaping up to be very delicious

Can I have you, please?

I have a confession, Bayonetta: I haven't finished Bayonetta yet. I'm sorry, love! I've had you for three years, but other games come between us. But then you released that trailer for Bayonetta 2 and it's making me hold off on selling my 360. I must finish you; I must master the art of the hack-and-slash type of game because my goodness, the Wii U exclusive Bayonetta 2 is shaping up to be marvelous. Giant demons fighting on top of fighter jets and buildings,

Oh, it's totally ok if you're not in the next Smash Bros. by the way.

3. The Legend of Zelda; twice in one year!

I need my Zelda. Now. Gimme.

I don't feel obligated to tell you why: it's Zelda. That's all that matters.

Ok, then. Pretty much, if it wasn't for Link to the Past, I wouldn't be a gamer (or Zelda fan for that matter) today. The sense of familiarity from the over world will feel nice and Zelda games (minus Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks) have always kept me coming back for more. What other hidden things will this 3DS game bring for us?

Of course, we can't forget that Wind Waker HD is coming out this year. A revamped Triforce quest, new boating mechanics, Miiverse interaction, redone Tingle Tuner, and an upscaling to HD should do wonders for this charming (and violent, look at that ending!) game.

Sailing once again...

4. Super Smash Bros. is bombing, psychotic, and fit

How do you make the fans swoon? You include the Blue Bomber, the most requested third-party character after the revelation of Solid Snake during the revelation trailer of Super Smash Bros. Brawl. With Sonic's inclusion to the mix, fans were constantly begging series creator Masahiro Sakurai for more third-party characters, the most requested being Mega Man. The fans went nuts at this revelation and yet still, they want more characters to brawl against the likes of Mario, Link, Samus, Pikachu, Kirby, and other series regulars. I've seen some more modest requests like asking for Snake and Sonic back to some of the more outlandish ones, like Naruto of manga fame.

Well, let's just say Sakurai went full on troll crazy with the other two revelations.

I'm glad I've never played Animal Crossing now...

I'm feeling the burn!

What other zaniness will the next Smash Bros. (both for Wii U and 3DS) bring? Just hope it's a game that is full of general cursing, bad mouthing, cheering, and laughing; in other words: FUN!

5. Destiny is calling, it wants to be played

Something about this game just makes it look so good. The open world feel of it, the sense of familiarity from various games such as Mass Effect, and the intriguing storyline. And of course, Bungie is one of the more popular video game creators out there; they're usually good at giving back to their fans (tenfold). I have little doubt that this game will be a success (and have a slim hope on seeing it on Wii U).

6. Star Wars: Battlefront (is it 3 or just reimagined?) by DICE

Look, I like the Battle of Hoth; really, I do! But isn't it getting awfully overplayed? Still, I guess we should be thankful that the game was revived...or maybe DICE is simply touching up what was originally finished up. Hope to see more of this in the future.

7. Nintendo is a child

And that's a good thing. When the other two console makers forget that it was kids who made the gaming industry the success it is today, you'll end up with copy after copy of brown colored American hero shooters that seem to plague consoles. This is one of the reasons I prefer to game on Nintendo over the other two; though it may miss out on what some call "crucial" games, I'm not crying. I like charm, wit, and an overall fun time in my games. It just depends on how you find yourself enjoying entertainment. Yeah, I guess I am old fashion.

What a bunch of loonies...

8. Microsoft Xbox One(Hole)

On May 21st, Microsoft decided that a VCR looking, draconian DRM enabled*, social media hog, TV within a TV device known as the Xbox One (hope the average consumer doesn't confuse it with the first one!) would be the next wave of gaming. And who knows, maybe the average consumer wanted these things. What I can tell you is that it's not what gamers want out of their consoles.

How about supporting the fanbase who made the Xbox 360 and Xbox LIVE such a success (I'm not looking at you, prepubescent 13 year old shouting racial and sexual slurs over me kicking your ass at Call of Duty) by providing what a gaming console should do: play games! Crimson Dragon looks to make good use of the watchful eye of the Kinect sensor.Meanwhile, Killer Instinct made many fans of the original happy...until it was discovered that the game was pay-to-play title. In other words, one can download the game for free, but with only one character available from the start, they must pay to play the other fighters. Showing off the impending Halo was nice, but it might just make gamers a bit impatient waiting for it (I should know; I get that way with Zelda). Basically, third parties were on board, none more than EA which promises the best and early content on Xbox One. However, price wise, we'll see if the unit can move at $499 with the help of Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty: Ghosts (both titles available on the 360 too...).

Basically, the worst enemy of the Xbox One (aside from it's terrible features in contrast to the PS4) is Microsoft PR. When you have the head of a company, such as Don Mattrick, stating that if you don't have internet, you should settle for an Xbox 360 or stating that all the Xbox One packs (bad features and all) is worth $499, you need to kick them out ASAP. It's kinda like what Nintendo expected after the success of the Wii and DS; instant success without thinking straight. What happens if the console doesn't sell? Will EA do what they did to Nintendo; pull out support until more units are moved (I doubt it). Will Microsoft sell off its gaming aspects (lolno) and simply drop out of the console race? Will anyone buy an Xbox One?!

*As of today, Microsoft has removed the restrictive DRM from the Xbox One. Looks they realized the 12-foot hole would be too much too scale so they've tried using that shovel as a step to get out of the hole (i.e. they listened to the complaints and are attempting to appease. However, some features are going to be withheld and in order to remove the restrictive DRM, one must download a patch. Will this be enough to sway the fans back to their console? Maybe it should be renamed to be the Xbox OneEighty.

"Like me...please?"

9. Metal Gear Solid 5, starring Jack Bauer

The first game Microsoft showed off at its presser happened to be a series that has stuck around the Playstation brand for at least the past two decades. Oh sure, Metal Gear had its roots in Nintendo consoles and compilations, ports, and side games have appeared on other consoles. But a brand new Metal Gear  game needed to be shown off, one that wouldn't only be seen on Sony's brand but rather also Microsoft's. Enter Metal Gear Solid 5.

"Look Ma! I can hide on the side of my horse!"

Sneaking's back. Shooting's back. Convoluted story's back. Cheesy dialogue's back. Weird characters are back. David not. The titular voice actor of Solid Snake was finally confirmed to not be voicing protagonist Big Boss in this pre/sequel(?) after providing the voice in Metal Gear Solid 3, Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops, and Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker (not to mention being the voice of Solid Snake). Instead, we're going to be treated to the delectable hymn that is Kiefer Sutherland's screaming voice (remember 24?). Will it work out in the end? Some gamers are bummed about the change, particularly since Mr. Hayter said he was coming back but series creator Hideo Kojima stating that he wasn't. Hmm...Snake confirmed for the next Smash Bros. voiced by Hayter?

10. Pokemon X/Y, because face it, your journey to "Catch 'Em All" will never end

Nintendo had a roundtable regarding the upcoming generation of Pokemon and discussed new features such as character customization, confirming speculation of a new type, and new forms of battle such as 5-on-one and sky battles. As a Pokemon fan, the idea of a character customization is nice (the female trainer looks better than the male one) and the new formats of battle are ok (gonna beat up 5 God Pokemon, Bidoof, in one go!). But what caught my attention was the confirmation of the Fairy-type and retyping of some older Pokemon a-la-Magnemite; conversely, Jigglypuff, Gardevoir, and Marill.

Now, why do I care about this type? It means I can go full on geek mode as I prepare for next year's Pokemon VGC. Will I care for Sylveon's stats to make it on the team. Oh, but it'll surely carry Helping Hand and that's a great way to boost her partner's attack. Will the Fairy-type resist the Dragon-type? What does this mean for the greatest Pokemon to exist, Garchomp? What can Sylveon learn? When will Marill and the majority of Johto Pokemon stop sucking (never)?! Why am I such a Pokemon breeder?!

Because I am.
Normal/Fairy; Psychic/Fairy; Fairy; Water/Fairy...or maybe I'm looking too much into this.

11. Safety in sequels!

CoD: Ghosts and Battlefield 4 and Assassins Creed 4 and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and Killzone: Shadow Fall and oh my! Sequels running rampant around E3 is nothing new but people still complain (or cheer). But its funny, the same people cheering for a new Battlefield bemoan Nintendo for pulling out another Mario game in the form of Super Mario 3D World. There are a few things about this. First, if something works, of course a company is going to keep going for it until it doesn't. Second, how about playing the game before knocking it? Third, if you're gonna bitch about sequels, do it for all of them, not just selectively. And fourth, if you don't like the game, don't pay attention to it.

Now that that's out of the way...I will say that there was plenty of safety amongst the gaming companies, though the spotlight shone on Nintendo more. Of course, with waning third-party support, Nintendo has to show what the Wii U can do by putting out its IPs. However, many weren't initially thrilled at Super Mario 3D World or the top secret Retro Studios game, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. What we do know is that Nintendo games appeal to the masses and are usually worth investing in; Nintendo has been in the business for quite a while now, so they know how to make their games. The problem right now, though, is that they didn't really show what the Wii U is capable of. None of the games are making heavy use of the Game Pad and all the games they showed off feel like safe investments. Take a risk soon, Nintendo, please?

12. Show the Chief, get the crowd nuts

All it took was a little display of Master Chief trudging through a desert, getting confronted by what looked like a massive Promethean tech, and the Chief pulling out the chip that held Cortana's essence (now held in the form of dog tags) was enough to get a rouse out of the Microsoft audience and speculating when 343 Industries will release Halo 5. Even I'm intrigued by what's to come with the next title (though I'm not rushing to buy an Xbox One any time soon)!

Monday, June 10, 2013

E3: What Will the Console Makers Bring?

What will they bring?

For all intents and purposes, E3 begins today with Microsoft's presentation regarding its recently revealed Xbox One. With the console and features already exposed, gamers can look forward to actual games, both of multiplatform and exclusives. E3 has usually been about new software and new console reveals but as the industry gets bigger and is becoming more than a niche to only self-proclaimed gamers, console makers try to stuff in features that are neat but just aren't necessary to the average gamer. With Microsoft's revelation of their latest console, gamers are feeling that the company isn't paying attention to their gaming needs (thoughts here). Microsoft needs to show it cares for the gamers, while maybe scaling back on its anti-consumer policies on the Xbox One (though a showing of Metal Gear Solid V and Killer Instinct just now is helping the former). It should also show off the price for the Xbox One, since it's expected to be released in Holiday 2013.

What about the Playstation 4?

Sony revealed its next console back in February, but seemed to have forgotten one little detail...the console itself. While the controller was shown off, the console was noticeably absent as it was claimed that the console itself was not in its final design. Instead, Sony opted to glorify the new features , such as a touchpad, new analog sticks, a dedicated share button that could be used to share content to places such as Facebook and, and cloud gaming. Sony also announced partnerships with various game makers but had little to show off in actual games. In this sense, Sony has much more to show off than either Microsoft or Nintendo: they must show off the console itself if they want to get in on the Holiday 2013 rush; they must show off exclusives and games that would convince an on the fence gamer why they should invest in the PS4, and (as gamers hope) they must show how their policies are different from Microsoft's efforts; that is, no anti-consumer DRM or always online gaming. It wouldn't hurt to also show what the PS Vita is made of by showing off desirable and unique games.

How will Nintendo stack up?

Unlike the previous two, Nintendo has neither a presentation to do nor a console to reveal. The latter already exists in the form of the Wii U and the former was a decision made by the head honchos to be replaced by the well received Nintendo Directs they've published lately. This doesn't mean Nintendo's presence won't be felt at E3 as they do have space on the showfloor. In addition, Nintendo recently announced that E3 demos will be available to play at select Best Buy locations, though it seems to be only two days and limited to four demos. Regardless, the Wii U, while a great console in this bloggers opinion and others, is floundering a bit with a lack of games; Nintendo has yet to release its heavy hitters as New Super Mario Bros. U and Nintendo Land didn't capture the attention of the gaming populace and third-party efforts have only been decent ports (or late!) such as Injustice: Gods Among Us, Need For Speed Most Wanted, and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. What Nintendo needs to do is generate the interest for the Wii U itself by releasing the heavy hitters such as the Mario's, the Zelda's, and the Metroid's. The company's handheld offering in the 3DS is already taking off after an abysmal start with this year's Pokemon X and Y and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past 2 (tentative title), so it's not crazy to think the Wii U will take off. With promises of the next Smash Bros., Mario Kart, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD, partnerships such as with Platinum Games (Bayonetta 2) and Sega (Sonic: Lost Worlds), if Nintendo shows off the games, the gamers will come.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Xbox One...What are you Doing?

Looks vaguely familiar...

Xbox One. Xbone. Xdone. "Xbox One? I thought we had this thing 12 years ago?" Whatever you've called it, the Xbox One is indeed one puzzling thing. It was only 2 weeks ago, on May 21st (my b-day!), when Microsoft unveiled what they laud as the next generation of gaming. People were, understandably, excited for this revelation, given the success of the Xbox 360.

And then the Xbox One was revealed.

Microsoft is relatively new to producing consoles. The original Xbox was released back in 2001, while the Xbox 360 has been around for the last seven years. Sony's foray into the console business was back in 1995 with the release of the Playstation brand, followed by the Playstation 2 in 2000 and the Playstation 3 in 2006. Nintendo has been in this business for the longest, releasing the Nintendo Entertainment System in the United States in 1985. Since then, not counting its handhelds, Nintendo has released the Super NES, Nintendo 64, GameCube, the highly successful (and polarizing, in terms of gamers) Wii, and just seven months ago, its newest console, the Wii U. In terms of the video game industry among the console makers, Nintendo has seen old players drop out from the console race while new ones have entered.

Microsoft's third console seems to be on pace to be one of the most vilified revelation out there. Their presentation two weeks ago touted a game console that branded itself an all purpose media hub (the reason Microsoft called it Xbox One), a box in which TV, sports, apps and the like could be ran. They also revealed a new Kinect, a more sophisticated version of their previous attempt to get a bite into the casual market Nintendo's Wii tapped into.

All these additions certainly seem nice to have, but it seems Microsoft forgot who their primary consumer is: the gamer. The reveal only showed a limited amount of Call of Duty: Ghosts (Activision's yearly offering of Call of Duty) while an announcement of a Halo TV series helmed by Steven Spielberg was touted; a TV series based on a popular video game series was viewed as a better decision than potentially showing off Halo 5.

Now, let's give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt; they stated games for the Xbox One would be announced during their E3 presser this coming week. So, putting the notion of games away, the following reasons are why people are concerned and disgusted about the Xbox One: used games, Kinect 2, and Internet. The first, used games: reports have been all over the place that the Xbox One does not allow used games or something to that effect; that a fee must be paid to play a game if a used copy is purchased. The latest reports, seemingly straight from the source, state that you can trade games to another person, but only once. This form of digital rights management has people up in arms, as they feel it is an anti-consumer ploy to get people to stop purchasing second-hand and prevents people from bringing over games to a friend's house to play (you the good old days).

The second issue: Kinect 2

"I'm watching you..."

Pretty much what our watchful sentry just stated. Reports that the Kinect 2 has to be connected and on at all times have gamers groaning and terrified at the thought. Kinect was popular with the casual group, but with a room full of, shall we say...excited gamers, the shouting commands to the device from different people would make the owner pull their hair out. In any case, this new Kinect is much more sophisticated with better tracking and voice recognition. The issue remains that if the device is on, it monitors and tracks your every movement, potentially relaying what should be a private moment to someone else. Microsoft has come out and stated that the camera can be turned off and the mic can be programmed to activate only when a certain phrase is mentioned, but it has done little to detract this mistrust of the device.

The third problem, and perhaps the biggest is the online connectivity. Microsoft has finally come out and confirmed that yes, the Xbox One must connect at least once to the Internet every 24 hours in order to play games. While that may not seem like a big deal to many people living in an area where broadband Internet is available, the same can't be said for others that don't have ready access, like, say...military overseas or in impoverished nations (putting aside the fact that this device does seem like it will be expensive). Heck, sometimes, even people with easy access to Internet would rather just disconnect and play alone (like the good old days...); it's a matter of privacy, and Microsoft would rather try to butt in. At least that's how it seems to be right now.

The whole ordeal has Microsoft fumbling around for explanations as it readies its E3 presentation, which is this Monday at 9:30am; the first of four companies having a conference before the show-floor is opened. As for me, well...the Xbox One has failed to interest me for the above reasons and no games have been shown that could potentially interest me. Well, maybe Battlefield 4, but that's coming out for 360, so if I decide to keep my 360, I could settle for that (but I have no plans to buy BF4 unless something changes regarding EA; maybe more on that some other day). Will I miss Halo? Sure, but Halo isn't The Legend of Zelda. With E3 just a couple of days away and Microsoft's presentation tomorrow, we'll see if they can provide what gamers most want: the games.

By the way, that picture of the Xbox One, the control, and the Kinect 2? It's this:

I knew it! The Great Commander in disguise! Go get 'em, Star Fox!

At the very least, the Xbox One has given me a desire to play games. Time to fire up Star Fox on my ol' SNES and bring down the Xbox One!, Great Commander!

So folks, your thoughts: are you buying an Xbox One and why?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Introduce Myself!

How does a writer entertain? He uses various methods such as scene, scenario, characters, set pieces....basically anything to keeps the audience engaged. But then the question becomes: how does the writer entertain themselves? Perhaps a blog is the way to get his creative juices flowing.

So just who is this random stranger? I'm just a recent college grad, an English major with a focus in creative writing. After 19 years of school, I'm debating whether to be satisfied with a bachelor's and just search for a career. Then again, there are times where I can't imagine not going to school, like right now, when I'm just searching for a job. I'm not a socially outgoing person, preferring the background and allowing my ears and eyes to take their fill of knowledge to feed my brain. That doesn't mean my tongue isn't sharp! I have my own opinions and beliefs, but the best way to respect one another is to be respectful and understanding of other positions. Oh, and I'm a nerd. A big nerd who wears geek styled glasses in the form of a wooden frame, a collector of playing cards, and of course, the stereotypical video game nut (viva la Nintendo). But this nerd loves Harleys; he loves them so much, he invested in one and enjoys trips along the coastline. If I'm lucky, maybe I can invest in something like a GoPro cam and show my viewpoint!

But there is one certainty of mine: I'm a huge nut for The Legend of Zelda.

D' cute!

Over two decades of Zelda has not stopped me from enjoying this series (except for the DS ones; boring premises in both; don't ask about the CD-i versions, they don't exist). I think they've played a part in forming a basis in my beliefs of the world (perhaps a little too effectively). I see the world in a romanticized viewpoint and that has sometimes hindered my prospects. Still, I can't stop thinking that the world could be a little bit better to each other, right?

So what to write about? I think I practically revealed I'm a little loopy, to say the least. I like video games. I like sports. I like motorcycles. I love to argue. I love to think. I love to read. And of course, I enjoy writing. So, how about this? The blog is titled "On the Whimsical Whims of my Mind," so why not just stick to that theme? The great thing about a blog from a relative nobody looking to make a name for himself is that I'm not restricted to blogging about only one thing; if it catches my fancy, I'll write about it. Heck, this is also be the perfect platform to present short stories or excerpts of what could be a novel. So sit back, relax, and hopefully you'll enjoy the whims of this buzzing mind.

P.S. Hopefully the introduction part was the hardest one!