Sunsetting Star Wars

Sunsetting Star Wars Two characters from Star Wars watch the twin suns set.
Image Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2W5YPQJqUs

Okay, I know, a provactive title. And yes, The Last Jedi features into the discussion, but not nearly as much as one would think. I’ve known for a while now that the Disney version of Star Wars (at least for the last of the 3 Skywalker films) would be “sunsetting” the original characters and creating a whole new set of characters that we would follow through new movies for a “new” generation. My problem (at the time) wasn’t the sunsetting of the older characters–it was, would I like the new characters? Now, however, I have to say that it is isn’t the new characters that bother me (except the “grumpy Darklord”–Daisy Ridley’s term for Kylo Ren). What I really have a problem with is the way in which the old characters are being “retired.”

Be Fair to Your Audience

Yes, I know we live in an 18-35 year old world. I get it. This is where marketers focus their efforts on, this is where people really want to target their appeals to, but one of the things that I really dislike about the way Star Wars has treated its audience is that they haven’t honored the original actors/roles as much as they could have.

So, unless I get really heavily into spoilers, I can’t actually do a “deep dive” into the ways Disney has “disrespected” fans of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia from the original trilogy. Suffice to say, the resolution of the two men have not ended well. Carrie Fisher unfortunately, passed away, so I suspect we will see footage of her in the new movie, but I feel that they will be far more respectful to her character because she (sadly) is no longer with us (the Paul Walker effect, essentially).

As a long time fan of the films, I don’t understand why we can’t get a resolution of the old characters that doesn’t feature them going out in the way they do. I feel that both of the characters who’ve we’ve “resolved” so far from the original trilogy do not end in a way that is either consistent or satisfying to what we as fans were presented onscreen during Lucas’ original run.

Be Consistent

And this the cry that every fan asks every creator whether or not they originally created a character or not. Let me be absolutely clear–I don’t like The Last Jedi. One of the main reasons is that I don’t feel that the Disney Star Wars films are playing fair with audience expectations is that the characterizations are not even close to what the characters have exhibited in the past, nor do they honor the struggles that they originally had. For example, Luke struggled with redeeming his father from evil, yet his nephew “supposedly” (we see this off-screen) displays tendencies of “evil” and Luke most definitely (again, vague to avoid spoilers) does NOT try to even talk to the kid, let alone redeem him. That is antithetical to Luke’s characterization and doesn’t fit with what I know about the character. However, for plot reasons, we need Luke to ignore 20 years of history (his own history, btw) and act in a manner counter to what he has done previously.

The same is true for Han Solo’s character. While I can somewhat see what befalls him, he still has to act in a “dumb” fashion for his ending to occur. In the original trilogy, Han and Chewbacca rarely split up–it does happen, but it was in Jedi and close to the end. However, in Force Awakens, the split-up happens at just the right time for the “surprise” to happen and to allow Han to be “Solo” at just the right time.

Again, I have to be super-vague to keep from spoilers (& this may be hurting my argument), but I feel that a grave disservice has been done to the old school characters. Leia will probably get a “hero’s sendoff,” but why does she get to be the only one? And why after she’s passed away? My grandmother subscribed to the idea that we should give “people their flowers while they are living,” meaning that one should honor people while they are alive and not wait until they are dead. The actors in the original Star Wars did a wonderful job and their characters are well loved by millions of fans. Is it really so bad to ask the creators of the new series to honor that idea and to give the characters a “sunset” that is consistent with their characters and honors their actors in an appropriate way (which I don’t think is what has actually occurred).

Sidney

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Series Review: Farscape

Image of the cast of Farscape--Crichton,  Aeryn Sun, and the rest along with the villains Crais and Scorpius standing on the bridge of the living ship Moya as they stare out into space--a photo of the cast.
Image Source: https://paleymatters.org/somewhere-over-the-wormhole-farscape-15-years-later-eef1ebba7e98

So, over the weekend I finished watching the entire series of Farscape. I had the last episode sitting, just waiting to be watched for a couple of weeks, and I sorta’ dreaded watching it because it would mean that it was over and that’s pretty much the last spaceship show that I’m really interested in at the moment–having watched most of the other major ones that I wanted to see. However, now that Stranger Things, Season 3 has come out, I decided I should finish it up and move on.

Two “Different” Shows

Much like Star Trek Voyager, the show is essentially two different main storylines in the show’s history. (Minor spoilers ahead): You can break the show in many different ways, but the way that I look at it is the Pa’u Zatoh Zaahn (“Zaahn”) era and the “Post Zaahn” era. Now this could definitely be broken up with different characters, but, like the character of “Zaahn,” this character was the “soul” of the show–for me, at least early in the show. Zahn, while weird in concept and backstory, was probably the character I most related to, esp. in the early years of the show. Now remember, I’ve seen all of the first 2 seasons before it disappeared from streaming 2-3 years ago. Now that its was back, I was made sure to see all of the episodes this time around. Early in the show, it was still finding its footing. The thing to know is that this show has multiple antagonists–4 major ones that I could count, but there are probably more. However, in the beginning of the show, the episodes are far more episodic in nature and they do a fairly good job of establishing establishing the characters, the setting, the conflict, and the interdynmics of the character drama on the ship.

Post “Zaahn”

After Zahn’s character’s resolution, the show goes into more of a “series”-based show in which the focuses more on characters in a fairly long-running recurring storyline that loosely focuses around “Wormholes.” While this is a theme through the whole show (Crichton, the main character gets pulled through a wormhole the very first episode), the “post Zahn” era really does run with this theme and this idea. Also, the dynamics of the ship’s crew are explored in more detail as the characters form bonds later in the show (to say more would be risking major spoilers). What I like about the show is that even though it is often much more farcical than typical “spaceship” shows (it has an episode the is heavily inspired by the classic Roadrunner cartoons, for example), it still knows when to take itself serious for true “space opera” situations (the series finale is epic AND actually gives true closer to the show). A quick digression: all networks should do things the Farscape way–allow the show to either continue with new storylines or allow it to end via a series finale–this idea of waiting to cancel a show depending on how it does in its “previous” season really shows a lack of understanding of the narrative that they themselves created to sell advertising time on–you have to provide closure for a series if you want long term fan investment–no closure = no future possibility of resurrecting the show at a different time).

Overall Score: B (82-85)

The show wasn’t perfect–it definitely displayed its foreign (Australian) sensibilities. There were more than a few times when it seemed like Mad Max meets Star Wars, but for the most part, I think it carried itself well. Both Ben Browder and Claudia Black were standouts, but I enjoyed most of the characters (and the cast as well). I really liked Chiana and Jool, but they found themselves not as developed (esp. in the later seasons) as I would have liked. While I can only guess at the reason for its ultimate cancellation (well, I can also look on Wikipedia as well), for me, I could never find it during its 1st run. It was one of the first shows to hit streaming when streaming was just starting to get popular, but I didn’t really give it a try–still in “disc” mode and then it disappeared again. When it became available again, about a year ago, I was determined to see it all the way through. Now that I have, I still like other “spaceship shows” better (Dark Matter, Babylon 5, the Star Trek shows), but I still feel like this is a strong contender (and I like it quite a bit better than shows like Killjoys and The Expanse) and really am glad that I (finally) was able to get to see it on streaming (as I write this, it is on Amazon Prime Video.)

Sidney

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ReRead: Mage The Hero Discovered, Vol. 1

Image of Mage Volume 1 Graphic Novel with Bearded man with jeans and black t-shirt with a white lightning bolt in the middle.  A floating mage and an African American young lady with a magic green baseball bat.
Image Source: https://www.mycomicshop.com/search?q=Mage%3A+The+Hero+Discovered+%231

Over the weekend, I restarted trying to get books off of the tables, floor, and other places where I have them stacked and into some kind of order on my bookshelf (& when it finally fills up, I’m going to Walmart and buy new shelves until I get the books shelved or I run out of space in the house). However, I digress: my point is that I reread a graphic novel over the weekend and I will give a mini-review/impression of it.

Urban Fantasy, 1980s Style

Mage is an urban fantasy story before the term gained wide acceptance in the 90s. This volume, written and illustrated by Matt Wagner was collected from his comics and published in 1987. I, however, did not read it (or even know about it at the time). I discovered it through a later creation of Wagner’s, the Grendel series. Having bought on a whim an issue of Grendel, I was so intrigued that I actively searched out other works of Wagner. I’m not sure where I found this series (I have all three volumes–a used bookstore, a library book sale, or through Amazon), but I’ve owned these three volumes for a while now. Simply put, Mage tells the story of Kevin Matchstick, a hero who has to learn to be a hero once he discovers that he has “power” residing in him. This is a “hero’s journey” story through and through. What is remarkable is that it takes place in our world, in the 1980s, and features a fairly diverse cast (for the time period) with the African American young lady by the name of Edsel playing a pretty important role for much of the story.

An Early Work

I have to say that while I enjoy the story, it isn’t my favorite. Grendel was too violent (at the time), so I never really got into it after that initial exposure, although I will probably seek out volumes of it once I finish school. Grendel has a 1980s Robocop level of violence to it–or at least the issue that I read with Christine Sparr as Grendel. Mage, for me, was far more sanitized, but because it was an earlier work, the artwork was less detailed and the storytelling (both visually and through the narrative) wasn’t nearly as strong as I would have liked. Mirth, the mage character in the story (who takes on the role of a Merlin in the story–a wise teacher with magical abilities) is (in this volume) one big exposition dump. He “tells” Kevin everything and explains the rules/players in this story to him. As a matter of fact, Mirth has the largest dialogue balloons in the story. Still, it is a good fantasy story with definite shades of and nods to the Arthurian legend.

Overall Rating: B-

On GoodReads, I rated this 4 stars. If I could give a half a star, then I would have rated it 3.5. It is a good story, but there are so many small things that take away from it. The simplistic panel designs, the sketchy nature of the artwork, and the heavy reliance on Mirth’s exposition to get Kevin (& the reader) to understand the story just don’t work for me as much as I’d like. Also, while Edsel is a fully fleshed out African American character, two African American males do not fare all that well. Both are in a jail cell when Kevin is arrested by the police (read the story to see why), but both talk in a pseudo-African jive that was common for writers of comics to give characters of color at the time (tons of contractions, dropping the “g” for words with -ing). One even gets the fairly stereotypical name of Rashem, a name, while might be appropriate today due to people wanting “distinctive” sound names, otherwise would have been fairly uncommon in the extreme in the 1980s for African American. In the 80s, I knew a Reginald, a Curtis, 2 Ronalds, a William, and a Michael. My point is that distinctive names for African Americans were fairly uncommon at the time and for this reason, and all the other reasons, there are simply too many small issues that drag the story down and I can’t really rate it higher (and while researching the post, I saw that there are other editions available–don’t know if the issues have been fixed in subsequent editions, but I’m reviewing what I believe is the first edition of the story).

Sidney

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Back in (Summer) School

Image Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/disney/comments/41hgay/all_disney_movies_that_have_been_covered_in/

Sorry for not blogging over the past couple of days. I have to sign up for at least one class every summer in order to keep my Graduate Assistantship for my program. While we had a greater selection of classes during the Summer session, I chose the Children’s Film class which runs from July 8th to August 8th. However, I forgot to check over the long July 4th holiday to see if we had readings/viewings posted for the class (we did), so I’ve been working really hard to play catch-up with the readings for the movies. Luckily, we’re watching (& discussing) movies in class, so I’m only having to read scholarship outside of class, but still that takes time.

Disney and the Disney Formula

Since this is a Children’s Film course, Disney is a titan in the industry and we are devoting a week to Disney films. We started with the original film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and we have moved up into the Disney Renaissance with their more modern classics, such as The Little Mermaid, Frozen, and The Lion King. Next week we will be moving away from Disney, but right now, we’re investigating Disney and the Disney Formula, and we’re looking at how the movies’ messages and characterizations are changing, and have changed, over the years.

Deep Dive

As this is a graduate course, we are doing a “deep dive” into many facets of the movie and, so far, I’m really enjoying the class. I missed most of the “Disney Renaissance” movies, although I managed to see a great majority of Disney’s older movies (Disney Channel) and their newer movies (Pixar) through DVDs/BluRays. So, for me, this class is a great chance to catch-up on a segment of movies that is very much the foundation of the current generation.

Anyway, I have quite a few blog entries that I want to write (I’m in the middle of one now that I really need to finish), so even though it will be sporadic, I still to plan post as regularly as I can. Talk to you all later.

Sidney

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EA Access: A Whole Lot of Nope

EA Access Logo -- EA Logo in a circle with the word access on the black background.
Image Source: https://www.techradar.com/news/gaming/5-things-you-need-to-know-about-ea-access-1261582

So, there is a YouTube channel that I watch quite a few videos for and he is always “whining” about the Playstation 4 not having EA Access and how it is a “good value” for customers (it isn’t — it’s a good value for EA, but no one else). The reason that I’m writing about it is that the channel’s narrator/host can’t wait for EA Access to come to PS4 later this year after being available for Microsoft X-box and PC for a while now. While, I’m all for personal choice, I think that this is a wrong-headed — at least, to be pushing it on his channel as hard as he is as if there are no downsides to EA Access.

EA is a Corporation, Nothing More

EA Access (at the time of this writing) costs 4.99 a month. Let’s round that to $5.00 (US) and multiply that by 12 (# of months in a year) and it will cost you $60 dollars a year (or $30.00 if you sign up for the year–$29.99 at the time of writing). This is not an arbitrary number because it is “coincidentally” the amount that “new” games cost. So, the “nameless” YouTuber gets to claim that the cost of the subscription is more than equaled by the cost of 1 game (going month to month), so if you were going to buy one EA game “new” in that year, you would have offset yourself cost of the subscription fees. Play any other games on the service, he argues, and you come out ahead in the investment.

Except . . . that’s not how that works. EA is a corporation which (like all corporations) exists to make a profit. How can they sustain themselves if they are giving away their product? And that’s the catch that the YouTuber isn’t seeing–they’re not giving away anything–but getting two (2) things instead.

Thing One and Thing Two

The first thing they’re getting is a predictable revenue stream. EA’s output these past two – three years has been spotty at best (in terms of original games — their Sports titles continue on just fine). This past year, I bought nothing (“new”) from EA. More on that in just a moment. I’m still not planning on buying anything “new” this year either. However, if I was signed up for EA Access, EA would have received $120 dollars from me instead of $0. They are betting on me not cancelling every month in which I do not play one of their games, but rather on the fact that it is easier to just keep paying the fee, even on months when I don’t use their service. Also, if you don’t buy your EA games “new” (i.e., used or at a discount) then it takes you much longer to just your yearly fee. What if you only bought 3 EA games at 9.99 each in a year (just shy of $30), then you actually lose money by going with EA Access ($30 – $40 = -$10) for you and ($40 – $30 = +$10) for EA. And unless you cancel (and most won’t) that’s (+$10 * everyone who falls into that category yearly), so its not just a one time thing with one person. Believe me, that money adds up fast (& EA is fully aware of this).

The second, more insidious thing that EA Access is promoting is the idea that you are “accessing” their selection. Now, this point is going to be contentious as 1) EA does allow you to download the games and 2) unless you are mind-reader (and I am not), it is impossible to know this point for certain. Yet, looking at the moves that EA has made in the past (its alliance with X-Box One’s original “check-in” requirements — no, we haven’t forgotten that, or at least I haven’t– the original Titanfall came to PS4, right? Oh no, that’s right, it didn’t–they read the “tea leaves” wrong and left sales on the table which is why Titanfall 2 was released on the same day and date PS4/X-Box One). There is no guarantee that, should Access become a defacto standard, that they wouldn’t eliminate the download option altogether (actually, it is fairly likely since that’s the route YouTube took and put downloading videos behind their premium service). In fact, Stadia is essentially Access without the download option and Stadia is where Access could be headed in the future (yes, conjecture I know), but again, the YouTuber presents Access with no downsides, while EA doesn’t exactly fill me with “good vibes” & “warm fuzzies” when it comes to the whole customer vs shareholder divide.

Anyway, apologizes if this post seemed long/rambly, but I wanted to get out my thoughts on why EA Access isn’t necessarily the “good deal” that many, one YouTuber especially, seems to think it is and why I’m not excited that it is finally making its way on to the PlayStation platform.

Sidney

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Spoilers! How I HATE Them! Do You Hear Me, IGN?

Man putting his fingers in ear to avoid lady telling him spoilers with the text: "La-la-la-la! No spoilers!"
Image Source: https://tenor.com/view/spoiler-not-listening-no-spoilers-b99-gif-14042783

So, having watched Captain Marvel last night over the 4th of July Holiday here in America, I thought that I was in good straites so as to watch Avengers Endgame when it releases at the end of August for streaming (for the American Labor Day Holiday which is the unofficial end of summer here in the U.S.). Now, this morning I’d just watched a video in which a YouTuber patiently and elegantly described the “Clone Saga” of the mid-90s for the Spider-Man comic book series. It was so good in fact, that it inspired me to watch another Spider-Man video from IGN ranking the Spider-Man movies now that Spider-Man Into the Spiderverse and Far From Home were released. I thought–yes, let me take a look as I’m planning on doing a re-ranking myself because I’m pretty sure Spiderverse will be my new #1 (just need to see it again to be sure).

However, what do I find when I click on the video? A MASSIVE FREAKIN’ SPOILER FOR AVENGERS ENDGAME????!!!!!

Please tell me in what world do I click on a video about Spider-Man and get an AVENGERS ENDGAME spoiler? ARRRGHHHHB!!!!!

IGN Editors, I (mostly) Love You, But You’re Killing Me Here

Okay, so you want to talk about Spider-Man in all his appearances (even though you’re video title suggests that you’re only going to cover his “mainline” movies)–I get it. Spider-Man is popular, so you want to be sure you mention the thing he’s been in most recently, right? While I’m not a fan of that particular logic, I can still relate.

BUT.

And this is a very big “but” (which is why it is in bold/all caps), can we not show A LITTLE DISCRETION and put it at the BLOODY END of the video??????? Why in the world would the FIRST freakin’ thing in a video RANKING SPIDER-MAN MOVIES BE A SPOILER HEAVY RECAP OF AVENGERS?????? That makes absolutely no sense to me? Had the video been entitled: Learn Spider-Man’s Fate in Avengers Infinity War as We Rank His Movies Appearances then I could have understood it. Yes, you say that you “NEED” to mention Endgame, but nowhere in the title do you reference it.

Yes, at the beginning of the video you mention that you (and I emphasize that this actually a want, not a need) to talk about his Avengers appearances and yes, you also put up a Spoiler Warning (which I didn’t see the first time, but saw when I scrubbed through to get time markers), but this does me no good if I’ve been called away from the TV by a phone call and couldn’t see the warning, nor get back to the Apple TV remote in time. If you’re going to spoilers for something that is spoiler-heavy, then:

PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S HOLY–PUT IT AT THE FREAKIN’ END OF THE VIDEO.

Give people time to enjoy the content that’s In the title of your video and then allow them the opportunity to click away if they so choose.

Fool Me Once, Shame on You, Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me

I put the blame both on you IGN, but also on myself. This isn’t the first time where poorly placed content has negatively impacted spoilers for me in the past on IGN. Even now, IGN already has a video up discussing the FREAKIN’ ending to Season 3 of Stranger Things which just released yesterday on Netflix. Yesterday. I had to mentally prepared myself to dodge that video (& was considering turning off autoplay for YouTube, or otherwise it was going to pop up in the rotation some time in the near future). However, I’ve now solved that problem in a more permanent way (see below).

Again, I get it. You need to be timely and relevant in order to get clicks and for users to see ads in front of the videos you produce for the money it generates because of YouTube’s unfair algorithms. However, I support (well, now its the past tense, supported) you by NOT skipping the ads even though I could have. The LEAST you could do is to follow the same model as podcasts where they talk about the relevant content FIRST and then keep any Spoilercast discussions until the end, giving their listeners a chance to “keep going” or to “peace out” as they so choose.

I scrubbed back through the video (with the sound off) and found the offending (AVENGERS) spoiler 56 seconds into the video. Now, considering that this is an 8:25 (SPIDER-MAN) video, I take real exception to this.

Unsubscribing to IGN–Hate to Do It, But You Leave Me No Choice

So, I’ve officially Unsubscribed to one of my favorite channels, IGN. I hate to do it and I hate having to call it out, but “spoilers” are anathema to me. I don’t go around spoiling movies, books, and shows for the readers of this blog (nor when I’m out in “real life”), so I have very little tolerance for people, places, and organizations that do this. I just recently blocked (and I do mean blocked) two YouTube channels from my feed: Mr. Spoiler and Mrs. Spoiler (and yes, these are, as I writing this, two legitimate YouTube channels, and I pretty much block anyone these days who post “spoiler” thumbnails in their feed.) And back to IGN for a moment–I already know that there is at least one person who has made it clear that he doesn’t understand why people hate spoilers. While I’m not implying that he had anything to do with the video (I’m pretty sure he didn’t), it just boggles the mind they can’t see the relevance of moving spoilers/spoilery content to the end so that their users can decide how to engage with the content.

In closing, if the blog had a “spoiler tag” which would hide spoilery-content as I’ve seen on many discussion boards’ software AND if I could be 100% sure it worked with all browsers (or at least the ones the VAST majority use with the blog), then I would use spoilers and I could talk more in-depth about the content (give examples/justification for my ideas/scores/etc.), but since I don’t, I’d rather err on the side of caution and NOT risk interfering with someone else’s enjoyment of something they might be looking forward to or might discover quite by accident (or even something they might discover because they found it intriguing because I discussed it without giving too much information away).

The old saying in 80s/90s with VCRs was “Be Kind, Rewind.” With the ’10s/’20s, the new saying should be (some variant of), “Life is all Toil, So Please Don’t Spoil.”

Sidney

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Happy July 4th, 2019

American Flag with exploding fireworks in the background of a night sky.
Image Source: https://www.theatlantavoice.com/articles/a-conflicted-fourth-some-black-americans-struggle-celebrating-fourth-of-july/

Since this is a holiday (in America), I wanted to say Happy Fourth of July!

I also wanted to (quickly) give a head’s up on how this week’s blog posts were written. I did the majority of them on this weekend. It takes me about a hour (1 hour) to write a typical blog post. This includes drafting the piece, finding the image and sourcing it, adding in the categories and tags, and copying my “Signature Line” from my older posts to make sure the information is accurate (I update them when I have a specific change I need to make, but I don’t go back and update older posts — usually, although sometimes I do, especially for popular posts like the Marvel-related one).

So, 5 blog posts = 5 hours of work. You’d think I’d write them better if I did one a day, but that’s not the way it works. I actually do best when I write them all over the weekend (2-3 a day) and set them (“schedule” them on WordPress) to go live daily. Most weeks that the blog has 4-5 entries per week are ones where I’ve “pre-written” them ahead of time. The weeks where they are 2-3 are generally ones where I write them daily. That’s just the way my brain works.

Now that I’ve rambled on for longer than I intended, I will say adieu, or since this is the most American of American Holidays, I’ll close with the quintessential American closing of: goodbye y’all.

Sidney

Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 1 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2019
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = September 30, 2019
  • HawkeMoon (upcoming) = Edits turned in to editor 5/31/19

Assassin’s Creed Origins: Finished and Mini-Review

A picture of Bayek with a white hood, shield, and bow standing in front of a golden wall of Egyptian Hieroglyphs.
Image Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2017/10/28/ten-things-i-wish-i-knew-when-i-started-assassins-creed-origins/#65554fcb6eb8

While these mini-reviews for finished video games (recent) that I’ve finished never do all that well (in terms of people reading them), I still enjoy writing them because my goal for most of my games is to finish them (i.e., to see the credits roll), then reviewing/explaining the good and bad things about them is a fun way to recap my experience with the game and to reflect on why I felt the game was fun, effective, etc. (or why not). This game review is for Assassin’s Creed Origins which tells the “origin” story of the Assassin’s Guild. I actually like the formation of “the good, the bad, and the ugly,” so that’s what I’ll use for this review.

The Good

The characters are really well done in this story and when I say characters, I really mean the main characters, Bayak and his wife Aya, and the other main protagonists in the story. They are from Egypt and their coloring indicates they are of African Descent. As they work towards self-determination (although it is through violence, using assassinations to accomplish their goals), I would still argue that this could be seen (in a less restrictive canon) as an Afrofuturistic text. This, however, is not central to the storyline; at heart, this is a revenge tale, pure and simple along with the ramifications of what happens to love and life when a “bad thing” happens. I also like the fact that the narrative is fairly strong and kept me interested throughout the story. The graphics were also well done along with the gameplay systems. I only ran into sporadic instances of glitches and I don’t think it ever froze on me, although it did push my Playstation Pro fairly hard and made the system rev up as if it were an airplane engine on idle.

The Bad

So, much of the bad will feature into “The Ugly” section as well, so I won’t go too deeply into it here, but length is a definite problem. Simply put, it was too long and took too long to complete. Also, the fact that some story elements are gated off by level, meaning that one needs to “grind” (there’s that word again) and do side quests to build up his or her level in order to tackle ever increasingly difficult story elements. Thanks to “training” open world games (like the InFamous series), I’ve learned that it is a good idea to do a good mix of side quests before going back to the main/story quests, but here it is required. Unless you are within at least a two to three levels of your opponent, the difficulty of the encounter will be close to impossible, especially early in the game. The side missions are of varying quality, but you’ll need to complete them in order to advance, no matter how you feel about them. You just have to hope that you don’t get too many average ones (esp. in a row).

The Ugly

This game is subject to Ubification and/or “Ubisoft Bloat.” Like most recent entries of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, there’s simply too much in terms of “map clutter.” The game litters the map with a ridiculous amount of content for you to engage with, and to be honest, most of it is simply “clutter.” Ubisoft wants you to engage with it as a “games as service.” They don’t want you selling the game back to used game/used book stores, they do want you buying their DLC and interacting with their in-game store, and they really want you putting time into the game world for this reason. Now, to be fair, you can do everything you need to without spending additional money (well, except for the additional story missions unless you get the Season Pass or whichever “Super-Deluxe” edition that includes the season pass. There’s simply too much clutter and things to do. I will probably work on it periodically (just to earn the “Platinum” trophy since the requirements aren’t too onerous this time), but this game wants to be the only game you play for 6-8 months, whether or not the content is actually compelling enough to support it.

Overall: B (85)

I liked this a great deal–they just need to do something that Ubisoft never will: they need to shorten the game and tighten its focus. While I don’t mind that they’ve turned it more into an action rpg rather than a strict stealth game (I actually like action rpg as a genre more than I like the stealth game genre), there’s just too much “padding” and “clutter” to make the game artificially long and artificially extend the game’s shelf life so that one can’t trade it in quickly and there are more opportunities to sell (either overtly or implied) more content to the game player. This game could have received an A had it treated game players as actual players and not consumers and tuned the experience accordingly.

Sidney

Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 1 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2019
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = September 30, 2019
  • HawkeMoon (upcoming) = Edits turned in to editor 5/31/19

Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse (Mini-Movie Review–No Spoilers)

Spider-Man (Miles Morales) Movie Poster with him swinging in his iconic black and red Spider costume across Brooklyn New York.
Image Source: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4633694/

Wow! Just wow! So I told a GTA collegue who works in the Writing Center on Friday that I was trying to expand my Film knowledge by watching films that were outside of my normal Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Superhero genres and that I was going to try to find a nice, innocuous Romantic Comedy (Rom-Com) to watch–I actually had one in mind–the one with Sandra Bullock & Ryan Reynolds (The Proposal–sorry, had to Google the name) which I’ve watched some, but not all before. However, I forgot that Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse (Spiderverse) released this weekend on Netflix, so I watched that instead (sorry for the unintentional lie there!). This movie is SO good.

Maybe My New Favorite Spider-Man Movie?

So, it is liable to be a while before I get to see the latest Spider-Man movie (Spider-Man Far From Home), but so far, I have to say that I think Spiderverse is my new favorite Spider-Man movie. There was a level of spark, creativity, and pluckiness to the new movie that won me over quite a bit. I really liked the way that Miles Morales was portrayed in the movie as a character first and as a character of color secondly. The writers manage to capture the angst of not fitting in the school setting for me in a way that (mostly) eliminated the things that I dislike about the school setting (which are the cringe-worthy awkwardness that usually happens there–although there were two “cringy” scenes still). Like Spider-Man 2, Spiderverse is a reflection on how to be a hero in everyday life. Spider-Man stories are best when one gets a sense that no matter what life throws at our main hero, he’s going to find a way to rise just a little higher to meet the challenge, even if it looks like he’s broken and down for the count.

This Movie is a Love-Letter to Spider-Man Fans!

Seriously, if you have any interest at all in the Spider-Man mythos, lore, and Rogues Gallery of the character’s various incarnations over the years, then this movie is a definite treat! There are little nods and references to all things Spidey all over the place. I saw “toy” Spider-Man motorcycle in the movie (I had the “Spidey-copter” and I need to go back and see if that was referenced — it would blow my mind if it was) and that’s just the beginning. I won’t go into spoilers, but just know that other versions of Spidey’s iconic self and suits do make an appearance in the movie. They even reference some of the classic scenes from the previous Sony movies at the beginning to help set the scene (in a fun way that is almost a referential self-parody). This movie is, while not quite perfect, is still one of the best representations of the Spider-Man mythos that I’ve seen in (and I’ve seen a lot of them starting with Spider-Man from the Electric Company TV series from the 1970s all the way through present). If there has been a representation of Spidey in the past 40 years or so, then I’ve probably seen it (or heard about it) somewhere and this one is fantastic!

Overall Grade: A+

If I was giving it a score, it would easily earn a 97-98 as I feel that it hits pretty much that I want in a Spider-man movie while minimizing the usual crap-tacular school awkwardness that is inherent in the adolescence version of the character. There are a couple of “cringe-inducing” moments still (having to relate to the school — again, without spoiling it, Miles’ early interactions with Gwen, while funny, do still exhibit that cringyness that I don’t enjoy–but it was so brief and so well done that it really didn’t hamper the movie or my enjoyment of the overall movie significantly, which is the reason for such a high rating. If you have Netflix (or even if you don’t but like the character), I would HIGHLY recommend checking this one out. Spiderverse is something special!

Sidney

Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 1 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2019
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = September 30, 2019
  • HawkeMoon (upcoming) = Edits turned in to editor 5/31/19

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