‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’

Avatar: The Last Airbender is a 2005 animated series that’s made in the style of an anime. It features a kid named Aang, who is the Avatar of his world. The Avatar can bend all four elements (fire, water, earth, and air), and is destined to face the Fire Lord to end the war between nations.

I can honestly say that this show is one of the best animated series I have ever seen.

First, let’s get one thing straight: this is not a kid’s show.

The art style might make that a little hard to understand, but after watching it I can say that anyone, no matter their age, can find enjoyment from this show. There are no jokes that one particular generation wouldn’t understand because it takes place in a fictional world.

It also isn’t immature. Some of the lessons they learn throughout the show might be specifically designed to teach kids things, but they’re never as stupid as “sharing is caring” or whatever else you would see on Sesame Street.

The characters in Avatar are probably my favorite part of the show. Each one is unique, and the cast of characters they meet throughout the show is so diverse there is someone you can find yourself in.

Aang is the Avatar, so holds a lot of responsibility on his shoulder, especially with the guilt of leaving his tribe 100 years before the story starts.

Katara wants to be a water bender to avenge her mother, but feels she’s not good enough after seeing Aang water bend so easily.

Sokka, Katara’s brother, doesn’t know how to bend, and often feels out of place in the group, and makes up for it with jokes and humor.

That’s just the main cast; almost every side character introduced has some sort of character development. Even Prince Zuko, one of the main villains of the series, has one of the most relatable stories, and his character arc is amazing.

The world is also amazing. Everyone is split into four tribes, either: water, fire, earth, or air. Each tribe can bend that particular element, so water tribe people can make water float and splash out in their opponents faces.

The way they bend is through martial arts, and they even had a martial arts and cultural advisor present when making this show, so every movement in the show looks authentic. Bending in their world is used in a natural way, like earth benders making trains that are powered by earth bending, and water benders living in a Venice-style landscape because they can control their boats with water bending. This makes the world seem real because they are simply doing what people do when given the opportunity to do something.

Some things I don’t like about the show is its pacing. Season 1 is pretty slow and has a number of filler episodes as they travel north. However, the show is written well enough so that it doesn’t get boring. In fact, many of the characters in these filler episodes come back later in the show, so I wouldn’t recommend skipping any of them on a first viewing. This problem is pretty much just in season 1; once you get into season 2, it starts to get really good.

My final rating for this show is a 10/10. 

‘Parks and Recreation’

Parks and Recreation is a 2009 comedy show about a woman named Leslie Knope working in the Parks & Recreation department of her local government in the city of Pawnee, Indiana. She believes strongly in government, unlike her boss, Ron Swanson, who believes all forms of government are a waste. The two main characters of the show are total opposites and are still friends, which leads to a lot of comedic interactions.

This show is made in a fake documentary style like The Office, so there are often random interviews with the characters so we get to see what they’re thinking. However, unlike The Office, the camera crew following them around is never addressed and never had any relevance on the plot; it’s just used to let the characters monologue.

One of the strongest points of Parks & Rec is the believability of the situation. There’s never anything supernatural going on; it always just remains funny with a few people working in local government. Not only that, but the plot progresses between each episode really smoothly, so you can see the cast always working towards a goal. However, each episode is also contained, so you can skip the episodes you don’t like on a second viewing and still understand what is going on. 

Another great thing about this show is the characters. Andy Dwyer, played by Chris Pratt, is an absolute treasure, and fills the role of the sweet man child that could not have been cast better. There’s also April Ludgate, who plays an apathetic intern whom Ron takes a liking to because they both hate their job. Ann Perkins is Leslie’s best friend, and they meet in the first episode during a public forum, which also kicks off the show‘s end goal: creating a park behind Ann’s house.

However, this show is not without its flaws. The only character that is really unique is Ron Swanson and maybe Andy, but Andy only works so well because he’s played by Chris Pratt. Also, this show can be a bit insensitive, specifically surrounding Native Americans. There is a gag in the show about the history of Pawnee settlers and Natives and how it was super bloody, and even though it’s played off in the show like it’s a bad thing, it still makes fun of it. Also, the only Native American in the show is a stereotypical casino owner. Parks & Rec isn’t racist or anything, but if you are sensitive about Native American history, then skip this show.

All in all, Parks & Rec is really good. The characters are really funny, you don’t really see repetition until the seventh, and last season (which you should skip), and the way the show develops is better than most television shows.

My final rating for this show is 9/10.

‘The Office’

The Office is a 2005 television show that revolves around a hilarious boss named Michael Scott and his efforts to run a branch of a paper company in Scranton, Pennsylvania. This show is pretty popular, and you’ve probably heard about it before, and probably have seen it before too.

The show has a total of nine seasons, and what it does really well is distinguish them from each other. Looking back, you can remember moments from certain seasons because of how the characters acted in each season. This show is anything but repetitive, and the gradual shift of the characters throughout the show is one of the greatest things about it.

Still, The Office has a great idea of it’s humor through its characters. Michael Scott, the boss, is hilariously oblivious to everything around him. He has a certain kind of charm and always says the wrong thing in every situation, leading to all sorts of hilarious hijinks. The single worst part of The Office as a whole is when he leaves the show in Season 7.

There’s also memorable characters such as Jim and Pam, who have a will they/won’t they sort of relationship, because Jim likes Pam but Pam is engaged. Once again, this storyline develops naturally and is mostly resolved after season 4, so it doesn’t get old or unrealistic.

One of the more unique characters is Dwight Shrute, a paper salesman who is Jim’s rival/friend. Dwight is kind of hard to describe, but to sum it up: he’s a man with a lot of pride. He is also very gullible, and falls victim to Jim’s pranks all of the time, which always end up being hilarious and unique.

However, this show isn’t for everyone. It’s rated PG-14, and if you don’t like shows that deal with sex or cursing, this probably isn’t the show for you. However, it’s certainly not overrated like a lot of the haters of this show say. The plot is solid, the characters bounce off each other in a realistic way, and the show could easily drive itself on humor alone, but has several storylines that are entertaining in their own way.

My final rating for this show is a 10/10.

Netflix screenshots

A new season of Castlevania came out, and all-in-all, I was not disappointed. There was some great action, good character development for everyone except Hector, and some really funny moments.

But it’s those funny moments that I want to talk about. Castlevania is a Netflix-exclusive show, and Netflix does not let you screenshot. For me, this means I can’t share those aforementioned “funny scenes” with my friends.

When you do take a screenshot, no matter what device it is on, it comes out like this:

Image taken from Netflix, Neon Genesis Evangelion

It simply blacks out the screen, and whatever image you wanted to use for a meme or whatever becomes useless. It’s really frustrating, because it means I either have to verbally describe it to them or search for the same image online, which can take a while.

But why does Netflix do this?

Well, screenshotting, and screen capturing, which is your device recording the video and audio on your screen to make a video that you can share, use the same general technology. Obviously, Netflix can’t have people recording their shows and movies, because they could end up on pirating sites, which isn’t good for anyone at Netflix, because then other people are profiting off of their work. Because of this, it’s a lot simpler to just not let viewers screenshot.

So, how do you get around this?

Well, it’s not as simple as it seems at first. There are several videos on YouTube that show you how to on Apple or Android devices, but these are constantly being updated because Netflix keeps catching up to them, so there’s a chance whatever videos show you how to do it are currently inaccurate. There are also some solutions that involve rooting your device if it is an Android, but I would not do that because rooting is a difficult process and voids your warranty. 

What I find weird about this whole situation is that other streaming websites, and apps like VRV, don’t do this at all. Also, phones still have cameras, so as long as you have two devices, you can still share images from their shows, although they won’t be as good.

Funnily enough, the reason I ever thought about this topic is because Nintendo does this two, at least in a way. On Nintendo Switch, you can screenshot and record whatever you want from any game, but you can only share on Facebook and Twitter. If you want to share it on another social media platform, you have to go and first post it on one of those two sites, either share it from there or download it, and then post it somewhere else. Because of this convoluted system, I’ve seen many people on other social media just take pictures of their TV’s with their phones and then share it directly, which is much easier, but again, the pictures are a lot worse in quality.

My point with this entire article is that not having the accessibility for your fans to share nothing more than subtitled pictures is stupid. It’s definitely not piracy, most people just do it for memes or laughs, and if you can constantly update your systems to stop the lastest form of screenshotting, then you can find a way for people to screenshot and not screencast. 

‘Levius’

Levius is an a steampunk action anime available on Netflix that features a kid named Levius Cromwell battling other opponents in a sport called “metal boxing,” which is just normal boxing, but they use robot arms. Unlike most anime, this show uses 3D models instead of 2D drawings. The models are done really well and gives the show a sense of energy that you don’t see in other shows of the same type.

The plot of Levius revolves around an upcoming metal boxer named Levius. Metal boxers have metal arms filled with a special water called Agartha Water, that when mixed with a drop of the users blood, turns into steam and falls under their control like a natural extension of their body. When contained inside a prosthetic arm, it’s like the person using it has a normal arm that can hit a lot harder. I like the inclusion of Agartha Water as a plot element because it makes the metal arms seem realistic when the show takes place in an 1800s time period.

Levius lost his arm in a war before the series started, and after moving to his uncle Zack’s house, they bonded through their love of boxing. Soon afterwards, Levius became a rising star in the metal boxing world. The premise is simple enough, a lot like you would see in any other sports anime. But what sets this show apart is the characters.

The supporting cast, which consists of Levius’s one-eyed uncle Zack, his personal mechanic Bill, and his rival Natalia are all great and unique enough that they don’t get boring, but the real star of the show is Levius himself. Right away in the first episode we learn that he doesn’t really know why he boxes, and that he is looking for a reason through the sport. Watching him trying to discover his reason for fighting through the show is easily the most intriguing part of it.

Also, the action in Levius is amazing. Even though every single fight takes place in the same boxing ring and it’s not like they can have weapons in there, the animators still make each fight unique, with each boxer having a unique fighting style and every single fight turning out differently. Each punch has energy you can feel, and the sound effects make you feel the action.

So, if you’re into anime, steampunk, or just like fast paced action shows, then you’ll love Levius. For those into deeper plots and more intricate storylines, Levius’s relationship with his friends and his rival boxers keeps the story moving, and the music is top tier when it comes to a score for a show. 

My only real complaint I have for this show is that one of the episodes near the climax feels like it’s just filler and interrupts the final fight, but because it is so intense, I think it works, and doesn’t interrupt the action. Other than that, sometimes the lips of the characters seem like they don’t match up with the voices, but I think that’s just my brain being too slow.

My final rating for this show is a 9/10.

‘Link’s Awakening’

Link’s Awakening, is yet another remake of a Zelda game, since Nintendo isn’t in the business of producing anything original. Originally released on the Game Boy, sometime in the 90’s, it was one of the first Zelda games ever, meaning that it is in turn, one of the most influential.

The remake of this game came out last year, and I got it for Christmas. The Legend of Zelda franchise is my favorite game franchise of all time, so I was excited to play this for the first time. But, I can firmly say that after playing it for just a few hours, this is a forgettable entry in the Zelda series.

Link’s Awakening should be a fun game, and for the most part it is, but it never really captivated me like other Zelda titles have. For starters, it’s a lot more linear, up to the point where once you leave every dungeon a talking owl just tells you where the next one is. It’s still up to you to find out where they are and how to get there, and that’s my main problem with this game.

There is absolutely no sense of direction. After every dungeon, it’s implied that you need to go back to areas you couldn’t before with whatever item you got, but the map is so big, it’s hard to figure out where you are supposed to go. Also, there’s a bunch of forced side quests in between that make you travel across the map several times over for no real reason. This gets confusing very quickly, and even though it takes the mystery out of it, I would just look up a guide.

One thing this game has going for it is its looks. It has a toy style of artwork that makes everyone in the game look like, well, a toy. The top down perspective of the game makes you feel like you are in a plastic diorama moving characters around.

However, while the art style is awesome, Link can only move in 8 directions, making movement very analog. The problem with this is that every single time Link turns, there is no animation for him changing directions, and it looks so forced. The fact that you have to deal with this throughout the entire game is such a bother.

The game plays well enough, like most top down Zelda games. The sword swinging animation is satisfying enough, and once you get Roc’s feather, which lets you jump and battle in 3D, the combat really shines. But like most things in the game, it has an underlying flaw. 

To use almost any item in the game that is not the sword or the dash boots, you have to select it to one of two item spots. This was understandable in the original game, because the Gameboy had a lot less buttons than the Switch does, but now that we have so many buttons, why should we be limited to using two items at a time? I wasted a lot of time switching items in the menu because of this.

So yeah, those are my thoughts on Link’s Awakening. Did I like it? Yeah, it was fun enough, but I have a hard time recommending it to anyone who is not a diehard Zelda fan or a 12-year-old. I mean that seriously, my little brother loved this game. It was one of the only Switch games he’s ever beaten before me.

My final rating for this game is 7/10.

‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’

The Star Wars sequel trilogy has concluded, and just like with the last movie, fans’ opinions are as mixed as ever. Some say the most recent movie, The Rise of Skywalker is terrible, and others are in the completely opposite field. I personally enjoyed it, but can’t overlook some really dumb stuff that the movie includes for no reason. This is as far as I can get into the movie without spoilers, so leave now if you haven’t seen the movie yet.

Right off the bat, The Rise of Skywalker is filled with problems. It deals with the return of Palpatine, the BBEG (big bad evil guy) of the first two trilogies. First of all, I don’t mind the fact that they brought him back, but because they didn’t set up this twist in either of the previous movies, it feels like a cheap reveal. If you didn’t watch the trailers, where it was revealed he would return, then seeing his name in the opening title crawl would feel so wrong without any set up.

On a first viewing, the plot of this movie is hard to follow. It involves Poe, Finn, and Rey tracking down a Sith way-finder that can lead them to where Palpatine is hiding. Palpatine’s endgame is that he’s building a fleet of star destroyers that can destroy planets, and has sent Kylo Ren to kill Rey. The first two-thirds of this movie are about the heroes going to different planets and following leads to find the way-finder.

But when I say it’s incoherent, I mean that literally. J.J. Abrams, the man who directed the movie, doesn’t waste a lot of screen time, so it often feels like things just happen way too quick. There’s no time for any of the themes to develop as the characters are moved from one planet to the next so quickly. 

There is one moment where the plot slows down for a second, which is when Rey is in the desert about to confront Kylo Ren, the shot that was in the trailer. It takes its time to build up the tension before the confrontation, and is honestly one of the best scenes in the movie. If more of the movie had been like this scene, I believe that it would be a lot better.

One thing I really don’t like about this movie is how Rey’s backstory is treated. For two years, her parentage was a mystery, and just about everyone thought she was a Skywalker, or a Kenobi, or a Jinn, or basically a descendant of any other major Star Wars character. In The Last Jedi, it was revealed that she was a nobody, and I particularly liked that reveal, because it made the Force seem special, like anyone could use it if they believed in it. 

The Rise of Skywalker mostly threw that assumption in the trash. Partway through the movie, it is revealed that Rey is Palpatine’s granddaughter, and the reason she is so good with the Force is because of her blood. I hate this so much. They ruined most of Rey’s development in the last film, and the theme that anyone can use the Force, even random loners, like the slave boy grabbing the broom with the Force at the end of The Last Jedi.

However, even though I don’t like that they make Rey a Palpatine, I absolutely love how it plays into her character development throughout the film. It all starts when Rey accidentally uses Force lightning, which is a power that only Sith have, which foreshadows her origin. Then, later in the movie, she decided to run away from the fight and hide on the old Jedi temple because she believed she couldn’t fight anymore because she was a Palpatine. Then, Luke appears as a Force ghost, and his conversation with Rey is one of the best pep talks/motivational speeches in the entire saga, talking about how it doesn’t matter who Rey shares blood with, it matters where her loyalties lie.

On the flip side, Kylo Ren goes through an emotional arc that completes his journey throughout the films. Even though his commanding officers want to join forces with him or want him dead, he is intent on ruling the galaxy side-by-side with Rey. He tries to get her to join him by destroying the way-finder, meaning that she can only go to the emperor if she joins forces with him.

Rey rejects his offer, and from across the galaxy, Leia uses the Force to distract Kylo Ren, giving Rey an opportunity to stab him. I will admit, this scene is kind of shot in a confusing way, but since Carrie Fisher died before this film started and they were using previous footage of her with CGI clothes, I’m willing to overlook it.

Meanwhile, the last of Leia’s force powers connects Kylo to an active memory of his dad, Han Solo, in another great scene. Han isn’t a Force ghost or anything, but instead is just an active memory type thing. Anyways, they have a conversation that mirrors the one they had in The Force Awakens, with Kylo saying that, “He knows what he needs to do, but doesn’t have the strength to do it.” Han comforts him, and this time, instead of stabbing his father, Kylo Ren throws his lightsaber away and leaves to face the emperor with Rey. I feel these were the strongest scenes in the entire movie, and because they happen right before the climax, it recenters the focus of the movie and gets rid of all of the chaos and side plots.

So while the first half of the movie is kind of a mess with some cool scenes and character development, the finale is awesome. It features a giant space battle with the resistance going up against the hundreds of star destroyers called the Final Order while Rey goes to fight Palpatine and Kylo trying to catch up with her. 

This climax continues the underlying theme of hope that is prevalent throughout all of Star Wars by having Lando and Chewie going around the galaxy to spread the word that there is going to be a final attack on the Sith, and it culminates in a scene where thousands of spaceships from around the galaxy attack the Final Order. However, even though the ship battle is awesome, it pales in comparison to how Rey and Kylo beat Palpatine.

Simplifying a lot, it ends with Rey using both lightsabers to deflect Force lightning into Palpatine, and Kylo defeating the Knights of Ren, his former allies. This ending is great for two reasons: One, it sticks with the theme that Rey’s family doesn’t define her, and two, it actually had tension, and I didn’t know how it was going to end. 

However, once again, the movie pulls a stupid, and resurrects Rey using the Force heal ability. It would have been so much better if she died right there. Once she’s resurrected, they kiss for no reason at all, a scene I actually cringed at in the theatre, and then Kylo dies. Yeah, that was the grand finale of the two best characters in the entire saga. Pathetic.

Rey then goes back to the resistance base, and after hanging out there, goes to Luke’s home on Tatooine and bury’s Luke and Leia’s lightsabers in sand. A random passerby asks who she is, and she responds, “Rey Skywalker.”

I like this, because even though she’s a Palpatine, she can move on from her bloodline and decide who she is. It goes back to what Luke said in the film, about how your blood doesn’t define you, but your allegiances. It’s a good ending, and makes you feel like they name of the movie actually means something.

However, I think there would be a better way to end this film. Rey stays dead, and Kylo takes her place. Since he is a Skywalker, the ending still makes sense, and it doesn’t have to deal with the backlash of resurrection, which is kind of a stupid move to pull in any movie.

Anyways, those are my thoughts on The Rise of Skywalker. The ending would have been a lot better if Rey stayed dead, Poe and Finn were wasted throughout most of the film, and the entire first two thirds are kind of nonsensical, but if you can overlook that, the love is pretty fun. It’s just another Star Wars adventure about people tracking down a random object with a bunch of lightsaber fights. 

In that way, it’s a bit like Revenge of the Sith. A lot of people don’t like this movie, and some say the plot is stupid and confusing, but if you’re willing to overlook the stupid and just watch it because it’s Star Wars, it’s an enjoyable movie that any Star Wars fan can watch without feeling the need to watch the previous two movies.

My final rating for this movie is an 7.5/10

The Game Awards

So the Game Awards happened again. The 2019 Game Awards. If you don’t know, the Game Awards is basically one giant advertisement for upcoming games, and they announce things like game of the year. Normally, I look forward to the Game Awards, but this year, it was kind of a mess.

First off, a few new things were announced, most notably, the Microsoft X series Xbox. The X series will launch in 2020, and features a console that is taller than it is wide. I’ve also noticed the controller looks a bit different from the current Xbox controller, and not in a good way. Before you buy it next year, make sure the grip is comfortable, ask a friend or something.

Before the game of the year was announced, Vin Diesel announced a new Fast and Furious game: Fast & Furious Crossroads. A trailer was shown, and from what I could tell at a glance, the gameplay looked good enough. I’ve never seen any of the Fast & Furious movies, but as far as I can tell it features people in cars shooting at each other. That sounds like fun, but this game has a major flaw in it.

It looks like garbage. Save for a few clips of cars in the trailer (which look like they were out of a cutscene anyways), this game is hard to look at. The character models look like bulky robots with human skin stretched over them, and then they lost half of their pixel count. Seriously, the models look like they were made at 480p when the rest of the game looks like 1080p.

Screenshot taken from: https://youtu.be/1bAtuMIIvyk

But that’s not nearly the only problem with the game in the trailer. First of all, there is lag. Take a moment to let that sink in. There is lag for the trailer to a game that the creators had time to edit and produce properly. If there is lag in the trailer, how much lag is there going to be in the actual game?

There is a bunch of other problems with the game, that just shows a lack of effort from the creators. For one, there is a scene where a car starts shooting at another car and hits it several times, but there are no bullet holes. The bullet effects themselves look more like lasers or energy than actual bullets. Also, and this part is kind of funny, there is an awkward animation of this guy jumping onto a train, and the animation is so ridiculously stupid it’s funny.

But this colossal fail of a trailer is nothing to the real problem of the Game Awards: the choice for best games of the year. Every year, the Game Awards sets up an online poll for a bunch of different awards, like the best action game of the year, or the best fighting game of the year. However, they have way to many categories, and that doesn’t work in their favor.

For the most part, I like how they have so many ways to vote. It shows appreciation to all of the genres, including indie titles, and gives all of the good games of the year a chance to win. However, this isn’t true in the slightest sense. The Game Awards are based on a vote, which means the most popular games are going to win. Nobody is going to vote for a game they haven’t even played. Also, only the pick for Game of the Year is actually said onstage, and the rest are shown online, meaning that they won’t receive any praise from a live audience.

When you break it down, the Game Awards this year were just a three hour slog of watching advertisements for video games, trailers for video games, and a disappointing game of the year announcement. In case you’re wondering, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice won, which admittedly looks like a cool game, but considering Super Smash Bros Ultimate was also in consideration, it doesn’t seem justified.

And that is the flaw with the Game Awards. Because they choose a variety of games on different consoles for game of the year, most people who vote will have only played one or two of those games. That turns voting into a popularity contest.

So does this mean that the Game Awards should pick game of the year a different way? Should they do it based on a Metacritic score, or get a group of professional reviews to voice their opinions? No, then people would feel even worse than they would when their favorite game loses. 

If you want my advice, which you do, because you are reading this article, just ignore the pick for game of the year. Hearing that Sekiro won doesn’t devalue how fun Smash is at all. If the Game Awards continue to put on an advertiser-first display every year, people will start to catch on. But until the show improves, I don’t plan on tuning in next year.

‘Dungeons and Dragons’: The world’s greatest role-playing game

Dungeons and Dragons. What comes to mind when you heart those words? Perhaps you are a veteran of the tabletop role-playing game, and just hearing those words brings back memories of your adventures in the D&D world. More likely, you have no idea what I am talking about, and maybe think Dungeons and Dragons is some kind of video game. At the very least, one phrase comes to your mind: nerd stuff.

There is a common misconception that Dungeon and Dragons is only played by socially outcast nerds with no social life. I am here to dispel that myth; it is false. It’s not a video game either. D&D was made before video games existed. Instead, D&D is what is called a ‘tabletop role-playing game.’

But what does that mean? Basically, in D&D, there are two types of players: the Dungeon Master (called ‘DM’ for short) and the players. The DM referees the game, and is sort of the god of the world he creates. In a video game, he would be the system, the thing that controls all of the monsters and non-player characters, as well as describing the environment and world that the players are in. There is typically only one DM, and everyone else is a player. 

The players each create a character from a variety of races and classes, which are jobs, and they pretend to be their character, and react how their character would react in the world that the DM describes. The best part about character creation is that you can really be anything. If I want to be a dwarven merchant who lost his parents to a dragon attack when he was four and now wants revenge, I can.

Once characters are created, they enter the world that the Dungeon Master has created. He’ll describe the environment, and the players get to choose what they want to do with the scenario he has set up. This is the real draw of the game: the freedom. You can do anything in the D&D world if you want to. If the DM says, “you are surrounded by orcs, and help is miles away,” you can respond to that situation however you want. You can attack them, try to make peace, even bribe them to let you pass.

Does this mean there are no rules? No, of course not. The way randomness is handled in D&D is through the use of exotic dice, ranging from a four sided die to a 20 sided die, also called a d20. Whenever you want to attempt something that has a chance of failing, you roll a d20 and try to get over the DC, or difficulty class. For example, if you want to arm wrestle one of the aforementioned orcs to assert your dominance, the DM might say, “Okay! Roll a strength check.” You would roll your die, and if it got higher than the DC the DM set in his mind, then you succeed, and beat the orc in arm wrestling.

But of course, not everybody is going to have equal skill in every category. A rugged barbarian would have a better chance at beating the orc in arm wrestling than a shrimp wizard would. To show this in the gameplay, everybody has six different ability scores, which represent your expertise on one of the following attributes: strength, dexterity, constitution, intelligence, wisdom, and charisma. Each of these scores has a modifier, a bonus you add to your d20 roll that increase your chances of passing the DC. If a barbarian, who has a +4 to strength attempts to arm wrestle the orc, then the DC is technically 4 lower for him because if he rolls 4 under the DC, his check will still work because his strength modifier increase the total of the roll to be over the DC.

I know that’s a bunch of mumbo jumbo, but that is just the technical stuff, for those curious about how the game works. To sum it up, you pretend to be a character in a fictional world in your imagination, and you make decisions, as in that world, and the success of those decisions is determined by your dice rolls and how good your character is in that particular field. This system is the basis for the technical part of the game, to make sure the game is fair, but the rest of it is up to you. 

I’m serious about that. Although this game is designed for the world you create to have a medieval-fantasy setting, you can make it whatever you want. If you want your story to take place in outer space, you can do that! Want to add laser guns? Simple, just make up some basic stats for it, and it’s as good as real. Remember, the stats are not what drives this game, imagination is what is. As long as you adhere to the core rules, you should be fine.

Making your own things for D&D, whether they be rules, weapons and armor, classes, races, items, or anything else, this process is called, “homebrew.” Homebrewing your own things can really make your adventure stand out. But say you don’t have time to create your own stuff, you just don’t have the free time to whip up some unique ideas. First of all, as a DM, it takes a lot of planning and effort to make a successful adventure. You’re going to want to spend a lot of your free time preparing for the next time you play if you want to get into this game.

But for those who really don’t have the time, or just want to see what other D&D players, both DMs and players, have come up with, then may I suggest www.dandwiki.com? This site is home to thousands of user generated pages, including everything from homebrew classes and races, to entire settings for your worlds. The site even has fan-made content from existing fiction, meaning you can play as people like Link from the Legend of Zelda series, Iron Man from the Marvel franchise, and even Jedi Knights from Star Wars.

Why else should you use D&D Wiki? I would say that it really helps you understand the full concept of D&D itself. By spending time on fan-made pages, you learn how to effectively make your own homebrew stuff by seeing what others are doing. You may have a concept or idea in your head, but don’t know how to implement it into the game. Chances are, you can find a rule or take inspiration from something on the Wiki and use it in your game. 

Here’s the thing: www.dandwiki.com is currently blocked by the school, meaning you can’t use it on your iPad at all, even when you are at home. Now, I know that the school has good reasons for blocking sites, and those reasons usually boil down to one of two things: they are not appropriate or they waste time. Allow me to explain why D&D wiki should not be blocked for either of these reasons.

First, the argument that this site wastes time in school. Well it’s true that I would spend a considerable amount of time on the site, both in and out of school, that doesn’t change a thing about wasted time. There are plenty of ways to waste time on your school iPad, even if the district were to block all the gaming sites in the world. Basically, using your iPad to waste time is a choice that the student makes, and blocking time wasting sites is not an incentive not to waste time.

Secondly, this site is by no means inappropriate. It’s true that Dungeons & Dragons is a generally mature game, that usually refers to the mental age required to play it effectively rather than if it has blood or not. You have to be older to play it, but that doesn’t mean every game is an edgy blood soaked battlefield. It’s up to the DM and players to agree upon if they will describe mature things in the game. There is a total ban on all foul language and mature content on D&D Wiki, if that is the issue.

So yeah, that sums up my article on Dungeons and Dragons. If this sounds like something you would enjoy, go ahead and check it out. All you really need to play is a Player’s Handbook, which you can find online for like $30. If you want to check it out, you can buy a starter pack for even cheaper, which gives you a premade adventure and premade characters for you to play. 

Also, as it turns out, the co-creator of D&D, David Lance Arneson, is a graduate from this very school! I didn’t even know that until I wrote this article. I mean, I knew the game was made by people in Minnesota and Wisconsin, but I never knew how close I really was to the creators of this game. 

If you want to find out more about David, check out this article:  https://www.minnpost.com/mnopedia/2019/05/david-arneson-the-co-creator-of-dungeons-dragons-developed-the-game-in-minnesota/

So, if you have a creative mind, and are feeling bored with the limited choices of video game adventures, then consider playing one of my favorite games of all time: Dungeons & Dragons.

‘Untitled Goose Game’ review

Untitled Goose Game is a game where you play as a goose who tries his best to mess with the inhabitants of his village. Released by House House on September 20th, it has since been praised with critical acclaim, as well as a 98% “liked it” score according to Google Users. But is this game really that good? Does it deserve the 81/100 on Metacritic? Let’s find out.

The first thing you notice about Untitled Goose Game is how it looks. For starters, there is very minimal outlines on anything, and shadows are often subtly shaded so they are generally unnoticeable if you are not looking for them. This gives the entire game a cartoony vibe, but does it in a way that doesn’t sacrifice depth. It’s very hard to explain without pictures, so here one is:

Everything you need to know about this game can be seen in the picture above. You are a Goose, and your job is to steal the human’s belongings and mess with their lives every way you can. The game has a unique art style, not one I particularly like, but definitely one I don’t despise. 

Untitled Goose Game has simple controls. You move around with the control stick, can zoom in or out with the triggers, and you press A to grab stuff with your beak. You can grab most things, whether they are apples, radios, or even harmonicas. Oh yeah, you also have a honk button, which does just what you think it does. With this dedicated arsenal, you are ready to control the townspeople to your every whim.

The music in this game plays a big role in the over all experience, although not in the way you would expect. There is no real soundtrack, no background music that plays during the game. However, whenever you try to attempt something, like sneaking up on a villager, classical music will play at the same intensity as the situation. In this example, it would start to play creeping piano music as you approached the villager, and the music will intensify when you start to steal their stuff.

This is a good base for a game, but in my opinion, this entire game is lacking in fun. Even though it is a sandbox game, it feels like there is nothing to do. You have a checklist of things you need to do to beat the game, like locking the Boy in the telephone booth or getting the Groundskeeper to hit his own hand with the hammer. The game doesn’t tell you how to do this, so you have to use your limited arsenal of honks and beak grabs to achieve everything. Sometimes, this is simple, like honking at the exact moment the Groundskeeper attempts to hit the sign with his hammer.

But because the game doesn’t give you any hints on how you have to figure things out, every puzzle in the game is one you need to solve on your own. Normally, I like puzzle games, but because this game doubles as a stealth game, there is no sense of progression when solving puzzles. In a game like Portal, you have every piece of the puzzle, and through trial and error, you can slowly figure out how to solve a puzzle. In Untitled Goose Game, there is still trial and error, but instead of discovering new ways to solve the puzzle, you simply try the same thing over and over again, waiting a while in between attempts for the villagers you are messing with to go to the spot you want them to.

That’s my main problem with this game. I have some other minor issues, like how the camera never really angles itself on what you want, and there are no camera controls besides zooming in and out, which don’t really accomplish much. It doesn’t ruin the experience by any means, but I wish there was someway to toggle the zoom out button so you didn’t have to hold it.

So, is this game worth it? Despite its flaws, is it worth the 20 dollar Nintendo Eshop price? I would argue not. Even though it has the word “game” in its title, I don’t really consider it a game. It’s an experience, something you’ll play a few times to fulfill that desire to mess with some people for a few hours. At best, I would wait for one of your friends to buy it, and then just play it when you’re at their place. 

My final rating for Untitled Goose Game is 6/10.