Category Archives: Tech/Games

Xbox vs. PlayStation

By: Manny Ochoa-Reeves

Image taken from: Xbox Vs PlayStation

Console wars have been a debate since the early 1990s. Everyone would argue if Xbox or PlayStation was better. Nintendo isn’t really included in the console war because of how different it is from Xbox and PlayStation. The two are very similar with only a couple of differences.

The main thing that separates Xbox and PlayStation is the exclusive games. PlayStation has some games that can’t be played on Xbox, for example “Spider-Man”, “God of War”, “Horizon” and more.

Xbox is definitely lacking on exclusive games; they really only have “High On Life”, “Halo”, and “Forza”.

I definitely think that PlayStation is taking advantage of their exclusive games because that’s probably why most people buy PlayStation consoles.

In my opinion, the looks of the consoles definitely matter. The PS5 design looks really good because it’s white with a more futuristic vibe. The reason it looks really clean is because both the controller and the console light up with colored LED lights. Something interesting about the PS5 is that it’s made out of plates that you can take off and replace with other ones with cool designs.

On the other hand, you have the new Xbox which is kind of just a black box with a white button, and it’s a bit taller than older designs. Especially without the disc slot, it looks really bland and boring.

The controllers are very important in this battle of consoles. The Xbox controller is just about the same, but they worked on their vibration to make games more enticing. The PS5 made an entire new controller, matching the PS5 with a futuristic design. They also added a little mouse pad type thing that would affect some games. PlayStation has definitely been trying to design a better look for their technology.

Over the years, Xbox and PlayStation have both come out with many gaming consoles that have been tied in their power, graphics and quality. The Xbox Series X and the PS5 are almost tied with their performance, but the Xbox has a better GPU making it faster and better.

Personally, I’ve been playing Xbox for my whole life. But just recently, I got a PS5 just so that I could play the exclusive games. For me, I really can’t tell the difference, it’s really just which controllers and exclusive games you prefer. But in reality, the console war is really dying down because of computer games. You can get some of the exclusive games on a computer and have a better performance.

JOYSTiCK Ep. 6: ‘Kirby and the Forgotten Land’ – Turkey gizzards in the third dimension

By: Daniel Kendle

Aw, so cute! A galliformes’ intestinal contents!

Image taken from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirby_and_the_Forgotten_Land?scrlybrkr=5a2a8e49

Hello and welcome once again to JOYSTiCK, the HPSH serial that enjoys reviewing and exploring video games. Our 6th game is ‘Kirby and the Forgotten Land,’ our 3rd Nintendo-exclusive title thus far. Released in March of 2022, it’s also my introduction to the series.

Kirby has always been an interesting franchise to look at from afar. Generally receiving good reviews, I’ve never been turned off to the idea of trying it. However, I generally play games I know I’ll like, or ones that I think will be an intriguing experience, even if bad. But while I think the series is cute, I’ve always left it at that; the 2D entries of great fame never really had me bursting at the veins for a chance to play.

But now, ‘Kirby and the Forgotten Land’ is the pink intestine’s leap into its first 3D platformer title, now on the shiny, relatively-new Nintendo Switch. Is this game worthy of its pristine title? Or is this one big ol’ turkey in the making? Let’s find out.

PART ONE: GAMEPLAY

This is one of the few times I won’t be able to compare a game to its older entries, because…you know. So, with all that being said, this game is pretty fun!

Out of the 5 titles I’ve reviewed thus far, ‘Kirby and the Forgotten Land’ feels the most…normal? Standard? Whatever the description, the game feels good to control and has a solid idea of what it’s doing.

Being a 3D platforming game, it obviously functions as one would expect: you have to make your way through levels through various means of mobility. This is where the game – and franchise as a whole – differs from others, due to Kirby’s 2 main abilities: floating, and…inhaling.

Let’s start with float. When you tap the jump button a second time, you puff up and enter a state of stasis in the air, slowly drifting back down if you don’t repeatedly hit the button to keep staying in the air, which means you’re able to cross large gaps and high barriers with ease. Since this has been a mainstay in the franchise since the first game ever, critiquing it can be somewhat strange due to the gameplay piece’s longevity, but overall, it’s an interesting feature. While I do like the range of freedom it grants you, I can’t help but find it painfully slow to wield, seeing as Kirby’s running speed is fairly quick, but his floating is just far too slow. I wish they could’ve upped the pace just a little bit, as what we have is an interesting ability that I used rarely in places where it wasn’t needed.

Inhaling fares much better. It pulls no punches; holding down another button has you breathe in, letting you inhale enemies, powerups and “Mouthful Mode” items, of which we’ll talk about in a minute. Anyways, inhaling an enemy has them be caught in your mouth and shot out again, defeating them. This can generally be done with most creatures, and is a decent – albeit basic – way of progressing. However, the much more diverse option of going about defeating the game’s bloodthirsty kittens and puppies is through powerups.

Power Ups consist of many different hats, each with different perks and powers, for instance, the Hammer ability gives you, what else, a hammer that lets you slap these small mammals into the ground. The Tornado ability has you be able to conjure and surround yourself in a whirlwind that gives you faster mobility and combat prowess, the Fire ability lets you breathe fire, and the Ranger ability gives you a…a gun.

Oh.

I really like these powerups, they all feel so lively and fresh. I personally like the Ranger and Tornado abilities the most, but that’s just me. The only one I’d say is subpar is the Bomb powerup, as I never found it very intuitive to control. Aside from that, power ups are great.

Finally, let’s discuss Mouthful-Mode. This feature allows you to swallow various objects, like vending machines or traffic cones, and use them with various perks. For instance, inhaling a car lets you drive around. I like these, however, I can’t help but feel as if they’re all a little under-utilized.

Pretty much every mouthful item you’re able to use is restricted to one single area. You’re never really incentivized to explore with these, or discover what else they can do. You basically get a set of obstacles for each, and that’s it. The game’s main gimmick, used so little and in so small of places…It’s pretty disappointing.

Outside of the levels, there’s also a hub world known as the Waddle-Dee Town, where you can buy items, upgrade your power ups, and do other fun activities. I like this, as it feels good to have a place to go back to after some levels in order to rest up and stuff. The fishing mini game is super cute and charming. I liked the arena and tourneys within it, and of course, the little luck-based machine that spits out little rewards and figurines! It’s neat how you’re able to unlock more series of figurines to roll for in-game.

Overall, gameplay in ‘Kirby and the Forgotten Land’ is certainly a mixed bag. While some things are great, others feel very loose and underutilized in comparison.

PART TWO: GRAPHICS

So I, as a person, am a fan of cute games. I like games that have heavy, grungy atmospheres and environments, but I’ll always have a place for chibi or cutesy styles in my heart, no matter the game.

I’d argue that what “defines” a cute artstyle is through the emotion it conveys towards the player. For instance, a video game can have a chibi look to it yet be filled with gore and violence. You can also have a fairly realistic game that has generally fun and lighthearted play. This is all, of course, subjective, though some aspects just don’t mesh well together. I mean, give an infant a gun, and it’ll look out of place, right? The same goes with video game graphics. if you drop a high-def model of a heat-guided nuclear missile into, I dunno, ‘Animal Crossing,’ it’s bound to look out of place. This isn’t something that I’d argue is opinionated; some things are just a given, and the conflicts of 2 separate medium’s graphics is an example of that.

But is this a bad thing? Now, THAT’S divisive. While the combining of multiple art styles is, almost by definition, objective, how one feels about the clash is certainly the opposite. I personally enjoy seeing multiple mediums join together, though I require certain barriers to be made in order to feel like a successful mix of several graphic designs has been made. If things feel too out of control, then the whole thing blows. Combining different game’s art styles and graphics is a delicate, yet fascinating balance of complex forms.

And with all that being said…

…‘Kirby and the Forgotten Land’ looks really, REALLY good.

Nintendo, as a company, has proven they’re the masters of simplistic, appealing art and animation. ‘Super Mario Odyssey,’ ‘Pikmin 2,’ ‘Animal Crossing: Wild World,’ frickin’ ‘Pokémon Black & White,’ if you really wanna dig deep. So, this game looking great is practically second nature to us consumers.

To summarize, the game mixes semi-realistic environments with more cutesy characters. I mean, Kirby’s literally just a round ball with knobs at the ends; there’s really nothing too drastic here. I think this mix looks quite nice, as it could’ve come across much worse. I’ve seen these videos of people putting cartoony game characters into hyper-realistic environments, and while I may be in the minority, I’ve always thought that they look really ugly, personally. Meanwhile, while the background environments look semi-realistic, they never feel too out of place.

The only bad part is that the UI (user interface) sucks! Everything is so small; I have to squint to see my health bar.

Overall, the game looks great. Animations are solid, everything is super cute, and it feels like yet another great ‘Nintendo’ showcase of art. The UI is kinda lousy, but it’s just a minor issue on my part.

PART THREE: BOSSES AND ENEMIES

We haven’t done this in a while, no?

I say this because the last time we covered the bosses in a video game was ‘Metroid Dread,’ otherwise known as the first review we’ve done. So I thought it would be fun to bring that back. Plus, they’re the last big part of the game I feel the need to cover, and I want this issue to exceed 2,000 words.

While ‘Metroid Dread’ has very grungy, metal bosses, ‘Kirby and the Forgotten Land’ has more cute creatures to fight. Literally EVERY enemy is cute, and I couldn’t help but go “awww…” before caving in their skulls. Also, like I said, you get power ups primarily from inhaling enemies, and most creatures have this functionality. The enemy’s theming also helps you know what they’ll give you: for instance, the bomb-bouncing seal gives you the bomb ability.

But moving onto the actual bosses, they’re pretty solid! Not as good as previous JOYSTiCK entries, but nonetheless quality enemies.

The first bout is with Gorimondo, this big ol’ gorilla thing. As someone who has a phobia of chimpanzees, I always thought that this thing’s design looked…off. Like, its feet were super tiny compared to this titanic bod. And the fight itself, while decent, isn’t very memorable. Babies could beat this thing, honestly.

The big palm tree Tropical Woods came next, and I quite liked this one in comparison. It has these roots that surround you and the stage, puffs of smoke that it can blow out in waves, and can summon large iron barricades to protect itself from harm. Overall, a pretty neat fight.

Then…we have a fight. Between a cat. That stands on 2 legs. Who is somewhat anthropomorphized. Everyone, I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but what we have here…

…is a furry.

Clawroline is honestly a fine battle; the designers used some interesting ideas, like having the arena be part of some of her attacks. However, her design, like Gorimondo’s, is just so weird. Her legs…like, huh? Maybe I just don’t like anthro characters that much due to how they make me uncomfortable, but still. The fights are fine enough but the leopard we have to face is just creepy-looking.

I do like King Dede, however. He’s been a character within the franchise since the beginning, and while the boss fight isn’t super memorable, it’s still good and fun. I’d say that it’s the most interesting character, seeing as he’s a returning favorite.

Sillydillo is an armadillo who…is silly. (Who’da thunk it?) In reality, the fight is cool, though some of his attacks, like trapping you in a giant cage or rolling after you, are somewhat buggy and unpolished-looking. Like, they have very strange hit boxes, and I never really got used to them. Nothing feels very well-choreographed, and I think it could’ve done with some work.

Finally, there’s like, 3 final bosses, for whatever reason. I’ve decided to talk about the first, but I won’t spoil the last for story-related reasons. Leogar, this lion dude, is interesting, though his actual fight is very underwhelming. Again, there are 2 other fights after this, but for a final boss, he’s very weak. And honestly, that’s an issue I have with most bosses in this game: they’re just not very memorable. I’d still call them “good,” but that’s just not enough for a 3D Nintendo platformer.

PART FOUR: CONCLUSION

‘Kirby and the Forgotten Land’…isn’t perfect.

The UI is stinky, the bosses, while good, aren’t memorable. The movement is janky at times, and the Mouthful-Mode items are generally limited in scope for a gimmick. These all keep it back from being one of Nintendo’s classics.

Of course, I had loads of fun with this game! The levels are fun, the town is great, the animation is lovely, and I definitely wouldn’t call this a rush job. More just that it didn’t exactly meet all of my standards.

I’m giving ‘Kirby and the Forgotten Land’ a 7.5 out of 10. That can always change in the future; for example, I’ve raised ‘Pokémon Legends Arceus’ from a 7.5 to an 8.5. This could be the same for this game, which, while fun, has some personal issues.

And that’s all for this episode of JOYSTiCK! See you next time.

A review on the game ‘Stardew Valley’

By: McKenzie Welch

Image taken from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Stardew_Valley#/media/File:Logo_of_Stardew_Valley.png

Video games come in many different formats and genres, and people all over the world enjoy these technological creations. ‘Stardew Valley’ is considered a farming simulation, and it allows people to choose their own story and design their farms in the ways that they choose, which is a big part of what makes the game so appealing.

‘Stardew Valley’ is an indie game created by Eric Barone, under the developer ConcernedApe. It was released on February 26, 2016 and has been growing ever since. People have even made many different modifications that you can install to make the game more personable, which also helps hold people’s interest in the game more often.

From my personal experience, ‘Stardew Valley’ is a calming
game that is fun to play on your own and with friends. When playing by
yourself, you are able to make your own decisions regarding your farm
and you have total control. Your actions are the only things affecting the
way your story goes.

When playing with friends, you have someone to talk to and split activities with, and you get to make a farm that reflects all of the players. ‘Stardew Valley’ has connected many people.

There are many different activities in ‘Stardew Valley’ to participate in, which keeps the game interesting. There is farming, mining, talking to townspeople, and fishing. This is another reason that it’s great to play with friends, as there are always activities people like and activities that people dislike when it comes to ‘Stardew Valley’.

All in all, I rate the game a 10/10. It is incredibly personable to different types of people and the things they enjoy, whether that is referring to the storyline they choose, the in-game activities they enjoy, or the modifications they add to the game. Whatever the case, it is a calming game with many positive qualities that I enjoy immensely.

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Our place in the dawn of AI

By: Reed Morris

Prompt: photoreal robot looking over beautiful landscape with a lord of the rings style city on the side of a mountain in the distance 

What is OpenAI?

Open AI is an artificial intelligence (AI) research lab created by a consortium of leading technology companies, including Tesla, Microsoft, and Alphabet’s Google. The lab was founded in December 2015, although its precursor, OpenAI LP, was established in August 2015. The main goal of OpenAI is to advance the state of artificial intelligence by researching AI safety and general artificial intelligence that benefits humanity. The research efforts focus on ensuring that AI does not take over the world, instead working to achieve a more equitable sharing of the contribution of AI strategically and broadly. 

Prompt: Photoreal image of the founders of OpenAI

The formation of Open AI was prompted by a number of critical developments in the field of AI. One of the main motivations was the 2015 paper by professor Stuart Russell, titled “The Need for More Powerful AI Aligned With Human Interests and Values.” This paper made a compelling argument for the need for measures to ensure the safety of artificial intelligence, by closely monitoring and limiting its autonomy, with the authors emphasizing the importance of controlling the growth of artificial intelligence. 

Another important development that led to the formation of Open AI was the ethical challenges pictured by advances in AI technologies. In April 2015, the MIT Technology Review published an article titled “The Artificial Intelligence Revolution:The Road to Super Intelligence,” which raised a number of ethical issues that needed to be addressed as the technology continued to develop. 

The third factor was the abundance of hype surrounding the AI revolution. Despite the potential for significant future benefits, the exaggeration of the potential of AI risked raising public expectations and fears far out of proportion with reality. This posed the dual risk of annoying the public with premature and exaggerated reports of AI capabilities and creating a backlash against the technology that could set it back and delay the actualization of its full potential. 

Open AI was created in an effort to bring together leading technology companies to address the challenges presented by advanced artificial intelligence. Its mission is to ensure the development of AI benefits humanity and to prevent any risks or harms caused by unchecked AI development. Open AI is a non-profit research lab with an open source research agenda, and hence its research is made freely available to all. By making the research available to all, Open AI has removed the traditional barriers to collaboration.

At the start of the organization, Open AI’s founders pledged $1 billion in funding from key tech players. This investment is managed by a board of directors that includes some of the most prominent thought leaders in AI—such as Tesla’s Elon Musk, Apple’s Jeff Dean, and Google’s Vint Cerf.

Since its inception, Open AI has grown exponentially, from a few core research staff to a network of more than 300 researchers working in a wide variety of areas, ranging from robotics/AI, to healthcare, to nanotech and beyond. Open AI also puts on numerous workshops and conferences to facilitate knowledge-sharing and collaboration between its researchers and the wider community. 

Open AI has already established itself as one of the most innovative, impactful, and influential research labs in the world. Its mission to ensure AI safety and safety in general has resulted in a new approach to artificial intelligence development, with a focus on collaboration, sharing, and openness that is perhaps unrivaled in any other research arena. As it continues to grow and as its research continues to advance, OpenAI stands to bring immense innovation and economic benefit to humanity.

What IS AI?

Prompt: Photoreal image of a cyborg brain representing AI

At its core, AI is an umbrella term that covers a wide range of tasks and problems. The core algorithm of AI is a set of instructions, usually written in a programming language, that enables a computer system to act intelligently. This algorithm is then applied to different problems and tasks, such as task automation, game playing, data mining, language understanding, and vision capabilities. 

An AI system processes data to understand its environment and then makes decisions and takes actions to accomplish a task or a goal. This process involves using algorithms that identify patterns in data, as well as machine learning which teaches the system to learn from its experience and improve performance. 

AI systems are also able to reason and deduce logical conclusions from data. For example, a system may use past performance data and a set of rules to determine how best to accomplish a task or goal. This kind of reasoning may not be perfect, but it can be effective when applied to complex problems. 

Ultimately, AI is designed to simulate that of the human brain when it comes to problem solving. AI is becoming increasingly sophisticated at solving problems and performing tasks that were once thought impossible. As more data becomes available, machine learning and AI will continue to improve and become more capable.

What really is ChatGPT? 

Prompt: Photoreal robot waving at the camera on an alien planet

Chatbot GPT-3 (or ChatGPT) is a natural language processing (NLP) chatbot powered by the latest deep learning algorithm, GPT-3 (Generative Pre-trained Transformer), developed by OpenAI. GPT-3 is an advanced text-generating Artificial Intelligence (AI) system that uses deep learning to generate relevant and meaningful text in response to natural language input. 

ChatGPT works by understanding context, which means it is capable of understanding user input and creating an appropriate response based on that input. To do this, the AI utilizes large datasets that contain the structure and context of the English language. Using these datasets, ChatGPT is able to understand nuances of language that are often missed with traditional computer algorithms. Additionally, GPT-3 has an improved ability to understand user context and generate sophisticated responses, allowing for more natural, human-like conversations. 

Compared to earlier open-source chatbot systems, ChatGPT is more accurate, sophisticated, and reliable. This is because GPT-3’s text-generating algorithm is based on the same architecture used in advanced natural-language processing tasks in major technology companies. GPT-3 recognizes contextual meaning in conversations and can respond in more sophisticated and meaningful ways. 

As a result, ChatGPT is becoming increasingly popular with businesses and organizations who are looking for a more efficient and reliable way to engage with customers in the form of natural language conversations.

What will the future of AI look like?

Prompt: AI being used in cybersecurity

The future of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an exciting prospect, one which promises not only convenience and accuracy in many aspects of our lives, but also great potential for a new wave of advancements. Artificial intelligence has seen a massive boom in recent years, and its effects are quickly becoming integrated into many areas of our lives. Autonomous vehicles, personal assistants, and ‘smart’ home devices, show us that the use of AI has the potential to greatly improve our lives. 

The next wave of AI technology is likely to be more widely integrated with our lives, and it’s predicted to open up possibilities for many new advancements. Key aspects of this technology are already being focused on, such as deep learning, which influences machines to mimic our own knowledge and capacity to make decisions. 

It is forecast that in the near future, AI-powered machines and systems will be used in processes such as medical diagnostics, real-time decision-making, and cyber-security. Connected homes, known as the internet of things (IoT), will further develop to become an essential part of life. Smart home devices, thermostats, temperature sensors and power saving appliances will become commonplace and their operation and optimization can be handled with Artificial Intelligence. 

Facial recognition technology, which was developed to monitor and protect public areas, is predicted to become more sophisticated, while also moving into arenas such as healthcare and public safety. An increased reliance on AI to handle various tasks will also create many opportunities for robots to enter our lives. Unmanned vehicles, such as drones and automated cars, will be further developed, offering convenience and accuracy. 

AI is revolutionizing the way that businesses operate, and its use is expected to expand even further. Companies are already using AI to help automate tasks, guide customers through their journey, and prioritize customer service requests. It is also increasingly being used in marketing and digital advertising campaigns, to identify target audiences and help increase conversions. 

In the future, AI will be an essential part of daily life, transforming aspects of our lives into a more secure, efficient, and convenient form. To ensure that the use of AI is advancing in the right direction, ethical considerations will increasingly be a factor in any developments. Risk models will be part of the use of AI, helping to identify and mitigate issues such as bias, and machines with the ability to explain their decisions are more likely to be trusted and taken as reliable.

Final thoughts

This is supposed to be the conclusion portion of the article, and usually is. However, the title of this section is kind of misleading. While this IS the closing section of the article, I can’t in good faith say that these are my final thoughts. Now usually that would mean I’ll be following up with this, but not this time. This time, my “Final thoughts” are really my first, and only thoughts. Confusing right? 

See, up until the header “Final thoughts”, I, Reed Morris, have done nothing. Everything up until this point, including all text, paragraph structure, and even the images, is the completely unedited and unadulterated output of a publicly available Artificial Intelligence. By simply entering a handful of prompts (the headers of each section) into the latest version of ChatGPT-3 (Dall-E for images), I created a full, and publishing-worthy article.

How might AI affect us in MY mind?

Talking about ChatGPT to adults who were around before the idea of the internet existed is very interesting. Some compare AI directly to the splendor and excitement of the dawn of the internet age, but some simply call it magic. It is undeniable that the internet made human lives infinitely easier. We have all the world’s information at the tip of our fingers, it is just our job to organize it and turn the jumble of information into something useful. 

The internet got rid of the need for us to dig through stacks and stacks of books at the library. Now, AI such as ChatGPT-3 have gotten rid of the need for us to dig through endless pages of customized search results, and instead, they organize exactly what is asked for in seconds. By simply entering a prompt into the AI’s input, you can get tailored and accurate information, as well as all of the sources it used to gather the information it gives you. 

One of the best and more ethical ways that I myself use this AI day to day is by asking it for the information I want as well as the sources it used to provide that information. From there, instead of copying and pasting what it gave me, I use the sources it provides. GPT3 has access to billions of web pages, therefore making it easy to find useful information in hard to reach corners of the internet. I use it as a shovel more than I use it as a pen. 

Anyways, speaking of ethics…

Let’s talk ethics

Now that the air is clear, we must talk about the ethics of this. While using AI to solve complicated problems and help push forward human discovery is most definitely necessary, using it in day to day life dips into a gray area. I don’t want to put my ideas into anyone’s mind, so I’ll just give basic factual information and you can form your own educated opinion. 

  1. AI makes our daily lives infinitely easier in a similar way to the internet.
  2. Because the AI is designed to act like a human brain, it gathers information from billions of web pages and organizes what it finds. This means that AI written text is not recognizable through plagiarism scanning software.
  3. Schools around the country (and I assume the world) are already blocking AI access on district devices. This is a choice that was made pretty swiftly. It’s something they seem afraid of, and don’t understand, so they decide to hide it away. 
  4. The fact that AI has been blocked on school devices creates an economic barrier. For example, I could not create this article if I used my school iPad, however, I am fortunate enough to have my own PC setup at home, allowing me to use the AI, whereas a student who is less fortunate, does not have the same access, and therefore has less of an advantage compared to me. This seems unfair. 
  5. AI is a useful tool that can make our lives easier, however, it can also make us lazy and subject to falling out of strong work habits. Think how you’d’ve written a book report before the internet. You’d have needed to read the book. Then, after the internet, you could find everything you need online. Now, that book report can be written in seconds at the push of a button (granted AI is not at the point where it can write very emotion or imagery heavy reports)
  6. AI is here, and it’s here to stay. There is no turning back now. It will continue to grow and become more and more intelligent. Is it even worth fighting its inevitable global use?
  7. It’s NOT going to take over the world. AIs are designed to be a tool, not a consciousness. As it is only a tool, it can only do what is asked. Nothing on its own. Until humans create true Artificial Consciousness, we have absolutely nothing to worry about. 

Now that all of that information has been dumped on you, I hope you can come to your own conclusions, and act on those conclusions. I know I said I didn’t want to share my opinion, but there is one point I will be acting on. I strongly believe that while this tool can be used as a shortcut, it should be available to everyone, not just those that have access to personal devices. 

All in all, AI is not a distant future. It’s here, and it’s here to stay. We just need to find a way to adapt to it and utilize it to its full potential. It is not something to be feared, it is a tool. It will teach us new things, and create new paths of discovery in tirelessly explored fields. As a wise man once said, “With great power must come great responsibility,” and that applies here. Maybe someday we’ll have something to worry about, but for now, all we need to do is explore.

Instagram: Life updates and personal perception

By: McKenzie Welch

Instagram has been around since October 6 of 2010, and it has changed more than ever thought possible when it was first launched. It was first created as a means to share life updates so friends and family could see what you were up to, but it has now turned into something more. However, Instagram turning into something more cannot always be perceived in a positive light.

Instagram can still be used to share life updates, but there are now more strings attached. You can shop off of Instagram, you can follow your favorite celebrities, you can track your likes and comments, you can get brand deals, and more. All of these things can have severe impacts on mental health, especially as you’re growing up.

Instagram has been proven to increase the amount of people with depression, concerns about body image, low self-esteem, socially anxious tendencies, and other mental illnesses and feelings. In fact, a self-reported survey from ‘The Wall Street Journal’ found that 1 in 3 teenage girls struggle with body image issues due to Instagram and social media as a whole.

The issue with Instagram is that, despite it being promoted as an app for sharing moments of your life, you only see people’s best moments. It is rare that someone will post a moment where they were at their worst, or where they were struggling. This creates unrealistic expectations for life that are extremely difficult to live up to. Especially when you’re young, and it’s hard to see that there is so much more to life than your teenage years.

From my personal experience, I can say there was a time where I felt that Instagram was detrimental to my mental health, and it most likely still has lasting impacts today. Whilst I just try to have fun with Instagram now, posting when I want, and whatever I want, I still struggle with the ideas of not living my life to the fullest, not being pretty enough, or missing out on important high school experiences.

The truth of the matter is that everyone lives their life differently, and I feel as though it is high time that users of Instagram start to express that. It is important for everyone to be who they are, and there shouldn’t be a need to put up a facade on social media, but society has made it out to be a necessity for many.

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Video games in class

By: Manny Ochoa-Reeves

Image taken from: Image from: https://bit.ly/3QjE69Q

Almost everyone played video games in class in 6th and 7th grade. Lately, I have been noticing that everyone has been playing video games in freshman classes. I don’t really know why, but the students are suddenly playing video games instead of paying attention in class. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I love playing a game while the classes get really slow. I will mostly just play games on my phone.

The way the students play games is usually on their phones. The most popular games are games like “Clash Royale” and “Clash of Clans”. There’s just something about these games that is more fun in class.

Another interesting thing about playing games in school is that some students have unblockers. These unblockers are coded by people and they let you go to any website even though they are blocked. Most of these unblockers are used for playing games in class. Most of the video games played in class are games like “Cookie Clicker”, “Helmetz Royale” and any IO game.

Everyone has probably played a video game in school before. In my opinion, people play video games in class because they try to compete with each other to see who’s better.

But also, these little competitions are kinda funny because at the end of the day they are meaningless. And it’s not like these people are playing these same games at home, because there are better things to do than play these small pointless online games.

But there’s just something about competing against your friends in school that is really fun. I mean me and my friends like to play a game called “Cookie Clicker” to see who can get the most cookies. Even though it’s a very pointless game, it’s still fun because of the competition.

If you want to get scientific about why people play video games in class, it is because of something called dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical that makes you feel happy and motivated. Dopamine gives you the motivation to play video games in class because it’s more fun than whatever you’re learning in class. If you want to learn more about that, you can go to thoughtfulparent.com.

Why gaming is dying

By: Manny Ochoa-Reeve

Image taken from: https://bit.ly/3FkHltR

In my opinion, gaming has been really boring lately. I used to wake up and be excited to play a game, but not anymore. There’s really no games to play, except for the big franchises like Call of Duty or “Fortnite” that have let us down. I think what we need is a huge game that will change the community.

Right now, you can see random trends of games going from very popular to nobody playing anymore. Games like “Split Gate”, “Fall Guys”, “Multi Versus” are all examples of games that everybody was playing but now nobody is playing. These games usually get popular from TikTok or big YouTubers. They are fun until your friends stop playing and the attention on social media goes down.

Another reason I think gaming is dying is because the big franchises are just not really trying to make their new games exciting. For example, Call of Duty now is just remaking games like “Modern Warfare”, “Warzone”, the Black Ops games, etc. All of these games are just recycled content. Back in the day, all had different content with new and exciting changes.

Probably, the biggest reason individual games are doing worse is because the big companies don’t really listen to their community. Take “Fortnite” for example. They come out with new updates almost every week; you would think the game would be really fun with that attention. The truth is, the community really hates these updates and misses the old content. The updates truly aren’t that bad until they add something that gives certain players an advantage over everybody else.

I asked some students here at Highland why they think the gaming industry is dying. One student said companies are trying to get easy money instead of investing more time into building better quality games, for example EA games have been going downhill for that reason. One student said that all the games are too similar to each other now. I completely agree with these statements. It seems like big companies are making the same games, slightly different for money.

In my opinion, the reason why gaming is dying is that companies are focused on the money. The games that are produced lately really aren’t fun because they are clones. There are also games that are known as pay to win, which means paying money gives you an advantage in the game. These types of games are perfect examples of why gaming is dying.

JOYSTiCK Holiday Special – Can you beat ‘Minecraft Story Mode’ without experiencing permanent PTSD?

By: Daniel Kendle

Happy holidays!

While writing for JOYSTiCK, I’ve always enjoyed playing and reviewing games (good thing too; if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here). However, I thought it would be nice to take a break and do something a little… dumb. But fun!

Now, lately I’ve been writing a lot of ‘Minecraft’ related articles. My last one was on ‘Minecraft Dungeons,’ a charming spin-off title, and the one before that I’m unable to pronounce without dry-heaving. And lucky for me, THAT’S the one we’re going back to today!

Gaming challenges are always fun to check out. Whether it be minimalist challenges, pacifist runs, “not using ____” play through, you name it. All very fun and interesting ideas to spice up a game you’ve already played.

So what if we did that? How about we begin an annual holiday special dedicated towards doing a gaming challenge? How about we ask the following question:

“CAN YOU BEAT ‘MINECRAFT STORY MODE’ WITHOUT EXPERIENCING PERMANENT PTSD?”

This might be one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in my life. And while it may seem daunting, I am prepared for the journey ahead. Will I survive? Will I defeat this arch-enemy of a game, never having to play it ever again? Will I sustain lethal brain damage by the end of this? (If you’ve read my review of this game, you’ll probably know the answer to that last one). Whatever may be the result of this alien idea I’ve come up with, I am ready. More accurately, I am ready…

…for war.

CHAPTER ONE: A DESCENT INTO HYSTERIA

Friday, December 2nd. 3:14 PM. I get out of my parent’s car, walking up the side steps to our large brick house. Unlatching the white gate, I make my way towards the locked door, waiting for my mother to open up. The weekend seems calm, peaceful, like I can relax.

It’s wrong.

After throwing my backpack into my cubby and unpacking my lunch, I look back at my bag and see the bulge of my iPhone and AirPods in the outermost pocket. A grim waft of hydrated air rolls my neck as I skulk over to the pack, unzipping the pouch. Picking up my phone, I do a face scan and unlock it to see my homepage, the black-and-red icon for Netflix just above my browser. I click on it, and tap my account with the rhinoceros on it. Looking at the picture, I remember it from a BBC documentary, which gives a bit of solace whilst dread creeps through my heart.

I head on up, sandwich in one hand, phone in the other. Lazily slouching down onto my parent’s bed, I flick through movies and shows, looking for the object I so desperately want to leave.

‘Stranger Things’? No.

‘MANIFEST’? Nah.

‘Don’t Look Up’? Not today.

Then, I see it. Its icon has an animal with a vague green shape, eyes square, face contorted into a silent scream. Cuboidal head, prism body, logo for Netflix Interactive viewable in the corner. A backdrop of a navy tint surrounds the abnormal creature, once part of a respectable piece of media, now a husk of decrepit life. I click, wanting to run, wanting to hide, but I know better.

“Daniel, you’re 14, practically an adult by now.’“The voice in my empty head says. “You’re at the age when smoking a cig wouldn’t kill you (probably), and yet here you are, frightened by ‘Minecraft Story Mode’ of all things. Press play, let’s get this over with.

The voice in my head compels me; I watch the small preview shown on the game’s UI. It shows key moments from throughout the series, like a man watching a tape of his life before execution. Shuddering, the writhing animation is of a quality compared only to a horror movie, a work of fright. My hand is shaking, I can’t eat anymore. Hunger is drained while head is full – full of terror at the thought of going back to this. But I need to do this, for Ms. Lingofelt, for all the kids in Newspaper/Journalism, and for all the readers of JOYSTiCK. For those who are tired of hearing about this game, for those who love seeing my suffering.

I press play.

CHAPTER TWO: SIGNS OF DYSFUNCTION

My muscles contract. I recoil from a pose of curling fear, unraveling my arms and legs from my chest. The gentle tune plays during the opening, a misleading rope that could send me down a rabbit hole of misery.

“Well, this isn’t so bad. The music’s nice, the animations haven’t started yet, the actual ‘story’ hasn’t begun, maybe this won’t be so bad?

And then the narrator starts talking.
Never mind.
Moving along, I hear the game’s introductory question, an old joke spiraling around Reddit a while back.

“Would you rather fight 100 chicken-sized zombies, or 10 zombie-sized chickens?”

My flight-or-flight response kicks in. How foolish of me to go back to this game, I remind myself. Why couldn’t I have reviewed something normally, like… ‘Tetris?’ Such a sad sight; a man ensnared within his own creation, a moth fluttering towards a flame.

After forcefully answering the question at hand, the dialogue continues for a while longer, and I pause the video to recollect myself. Rubbing my temple I look out the icy-white window, snow pelting down against the frosted glass. I sigh, knowing that I don’t have anything better to take care of. No homework, no chores, no nothing. Normally this’d be a sign of joy, but I couldn’t help but wish I had work to keep me busy. Unfortunately, this IS homework, technically. I press the triangle again, and settle back down into the sheets.

…..

For the next good chunk of the game, this is how it plays. After maybe an hour of watching, I pause to take a break, a relief from the twisted storm I’ve caught myself in. I eat, I sleep, I go on walks, all to take my mind off the pain I’ve endured from this nightmarish experience. My sanity is numb; I can’t feel my fingers, with a creeping chill forming worse each time I subject myself to this creature of a product.

Once I reach the end of episode 2, I feel… better. I feel refreshed, like I can overcome this iron grip latched onto my soul. What the other 2 episodes will be like, I can’t tell.

CHAPTER THREE: THE BOY’S BREAKING POINT

Chapter 3 starts like the other 2 had before: me crying for about an hour. After retracting my tears and going through a couple hundred tissues, I sat down for the long stretch. I can smell victory, and it smells good (probably).

Lo and behold, the penultimate video starts without a hitch. 2 hours ago I would’ve been terrified of this image, this ancient, primal threat. But thou must see that I have dramatically matured since then! Yes dad, I AM self-sufficient! I can experience trauma, too!

While sitting through the opening narration crawl once again, I get the ping! of a text.

“It’s time for your daily French lesson. Take 5 minutes now to complete it. -Duolingo.”

This is a pretty standard Duolingo alert; since it’s an app for learning languages, these aren’t uncommon. However, in my glory-dizzy saga, it instead looked like this:

“Human child, you shall never be able to vanquish the ‘Minecraft Story Mode’ demon. Come now, let us continue the blood-letting ritual. Your soul is not fit for the realm of humanity; passing your spirit into our hands shall let the Elder Ones rejuvenate their aching bones. -???”

I know deep down that my mind is playing vengeful tricks on me, and I can’t blame it. In reality, my brain’s the one subjected to this torment, not me. I am merely a vessel, a carapace, my pink thoughts an alloy. It’s trying to make me go back to my old ways of thinking, but I won’t let it.

I won’t let it.
I-I won’t let it. No.
No, no, no. No, I won’t.
I-I won’t-t! No!

CHAPTER FOUR: NO MORE STORY MODE

THATS. IT. NO MORE.

No more ‘Minecraft’ reviews. No more slandering ‘Minecraft Story Mode.’ No more thinking that I’ve gotten past the treachery that has infected this serial.

When I started JOYSTiCK, I was excited to be able to review video games for school purposes. But now, 6 issues later, half have somehow featured the same game. And I need a break. I need to return to my roots, I need to review other games.

I made this jokey episode not to delve into the actual question at hand, but to just make a funny spin-off article for the holidays. But the menace of ‘Minecraft Story Mode’ still lingers. It’s not really even fun to criticize this game anymore; I’ve done it so many times. It’s time I move on in life, to new horizons, to new experiences.

Episode 6 (this one doesn’t count) will come in 2023. I hope to see you then!

JOYSTiCK Ep. 5: ‘Minecraft Dungeons’ – Baby’s first dungeon-crawler

By: Daniel Kendle

Image taken from: https://en.wikipedia.org/
wiki/Minecraft_Dungeons?scrlybrkr=5a2a8e49

Log Entry No. 47

“It’s been months since the nuclear apocalypse began. After the ‘Minecraft Story Mode’ menace failed to heed by missile launch, it grew into a virus-like form, overtaking any poor being it touches. The lands around me are ravaged, the entirety of the US Midwestern-area decimated.

Now I am forced into this bunker, surrounded by both strangers and family alike. I feel cold, callous, like all of this is my fault. In reality, it isn’t, but that doesn’t lighten my heart.

Talking to others, I have discovered a way to vanquish the vile beast that stalks these lands. Ever since I’ve written that review, I’ve never wanted to touch my school iPad again. But now with this new information, I feel compelled to destroy the ‘Minecraft Story Mode’ menace, once and for all.

Using the creature’s DNA, scientists have found a closely-linked relative on its branch of the evolutionary tree. It’s been reasoned that reviewing this “cousin” could somehow allay the menace’s madness. And if it’ll save us all from impending starvation, that’ll be good enough for me.

After saying goodbye to Mother and Father, I’ve set out across the ruined ‘scapes in order to find this other title and review it. Everything now has an ugly tint to it, and it disgusts me personally.

This journey shall take much time; I’ll be seeing the leaves fall once this is all over. But as I watch the heavens for this monster, I creep closer to the goal of rebuilding this world.”

Hello hello, welcome back to JOYSTiCK, the HPSH serial that enjoys reviewing and exploring video games. On the docket for today is ‘Minecraft Dungeons’, another spinoff from Mojang, the creators of the base game. The difference between this and ‘Minecraft: Story Mode’ is that one of these games is actually pretty good. Impossible, I know.

…..

‘Minecraft Dungeons’ was released on May 26th, 2020, originally being scheduled to release in 2019 onto PC, before being further expanded onto Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo consoles, and onto Steam in 2021. It’s safe to say that this is a game that was meant to be played across many platforms. Of course, this also means that ‘Minecraft Dungeons’ supports cross-platform play, allowing people to play together even with different consoles.

Generally receiving favorable reviews, the consensus on the game was that it was a fun, charming experience, though lacking in much depth. Companies like Gamespot and IGN gave ‘Minecraft Dungeons’ 7/10’s each. The game reached over 15 million players as of February 2022. Also, 6 DLC packs for the game were released over the course of a little over a year.

PART ONE: GAMEPLAY (AND A REVIEW OF ‘MINECRAFT’S’ COMBAT)

As mentioned above, ‘Minecraft Dungeons’ has a very fun gameplay loop, even if it is comparatively shallow against other dungeon-crawlers. Though in order to talk about combat in this title, we should probably discuss ‘Minecraft’s’ very controversial combat system.

As of the 1.9 update back in 2016, the base game’s approach to fighting changed dramatically from previous versions. Before, players attacked with a sword in quick succession, not having to worry about things like recharging between hits and timing attacks. There was also sword-blocking, which allowed players to decrease the damage taken if held.

But then, it all changed.

The most controversial addition came with the sword’s new “sweeping” attack. No longer could you repeatedly spam-click opponents, now you had to swipe, pause, then swipe again, waiting for a partially-invisible meter to fill up again. While this was great for PVE (Player Versus Entity) combat, this harshly degraded PVP (Player Versus Player) combat.

Axes also got “upgraded.” Before they weren’t very useful in a fight, doing worse than a sword. However, the ax’s power EXPLODED, with the stone ax, the second-worst ax in the game, doing 9 – yes, NINE – hearts of health, the same as a diamond sword, the second best sword in the game. It’s nuts.

Finally, shields replaced sword-blocking. While probably the least controversial of all these additions, it still has its problems.

Sword-blocking was fair. Hitting a button on your keyboard at the right time halved the damage taken, acting as a way to shrug off some hits. Now, you may be expecting shields to be useless by how I’ve been wording this, but it’s actually the opposite. Shields in ‘Minecraft’ make you a GOD.

Shields, for one thing, let you not take ANY damage from an attack. Swords blocked around half, which was fair. But when you hold up this wooden board you can negate all of an attack’s power. This would be fine if, say, the shield had a long cooldown between uses. It doesn’t though so… yeah. It’s basically a way to make you invincible, even if it probably wasn’t made for that.

Outside of those changes, combat in the base game of ‘Minecraft’ is pretty simple, with the complexity coming from putting “Enchantments” onto gear, acting as modifiers. Weapons include swords, bows, axes, crossbows, tridents, and if you’re feeling quirky, TNT and throwable potions. There’s also armor and shields, the latter mentioned before.

So, now with that section out of the way, let’s discuss ‘Minecraft Dungeons’ combat, and how weirdly simple it is.

In ‘Minecraft Dungeons,’ have 2 main weapons: a melee and ranged pair. There’s also 3 slots for “Artifacts” that give you special abilities. Finally, there’s been a decrease in armor slots, going from 4 (helmet, chest plate, leggings, and boots) down to one unified armor set. No shields, no invincibility.

This is boring.

While each piece of gear you find has unique properties, your variety of ways to deal damage is lame. There are probably hundreds of different gear available, but each functions in a largely same-y way. Armor gives you a higher health total, melee weapons let you attack close-up, ranged weapons let you attack with arrows. Artifacts are cool, but there’s far less of them, and you can’t enchant them, unlike armor and weapons.

Ah, Enchantments! They’re actually alright; each piece of gear can have up to 3 total enchantments on it at once, with 9 to choose from. They generally add interesting modifiers to your equipment. You can have something useful like Protection, which gives you even more HP, something stupid like Explorer, giving you a minuscule amount of HP for every 100 blocks crossed, to something dumb but fun, like all the enchantments that let you attack monsters with bees.

So, now that I’ve given you a run down of your available arsenal, let’s look at what dungeon-crawling is like in this game. You’re given an arcade-style map of possible locations to run through, each level being around 20 to 30 minutes in length. Pick one, adjust the difficulty slider to how hard or easy you want it to be, and head on in.

Upon running though a level, your first way to attack is with your melee weapon. Simply press or hold a button and you’ll let loose an attack, whether it be from a sword, mace, or great hammer. Every weapon in ‘Minecraft Dungeons’ has different speeds of attacks, with something like the Gauntlets having a lightning-fast flurry of punches, or the Anchor being so slow it hurts to use. This is a problem I have with weapons; some are just way too good, and others suck. Slow weapons are generally worse for wear than something that can dish out damage at a steady rate. While quicker weapons usually deal less damage per hit, you’ll never really notice this due to how easy this game is.

The first main level you pick, Creeper Woods, has enemies go down in 1-2 hits, max. Some more armored creatures take more, but that’s honestly just an exception. Like, yeah, mowing through enemies is part of the dungeon-crawling genre’s appeal, but you’ll normally only be able to kill 1 monster at a time without any Enchantments, so it’s basically just a slow-moving, sluggish system where you’re able to slay anything with a flick of a button. Lame.

Ranged combat isn’t much better. While you do have some fun in trying to manage your arrow supply, you never need to worry in the early game, as you can get arrows in the hundreds. I’m not lying when I say I’ve gotten over 1,000 arrows in my inventory at once. Using a ranged attack has you use 1 of these projectiles, streaking towards the opponent. These generally let you approach battles without having to get up close and personal.

Aside from that, artifacts add a little randomness to your experience. Some rely on souls, a collectible from fallen enemies. Filling up a bar lets you use ultra-powerful artifacts. Most don’t need souls, instead having a cooldown between uses. Fun, but nothing crazy.

My problem with ‘Minecraft Dungeon’s’ combat is that it feels so flat. No real complexity outside of Enchantments makes a slow-moving yet charming game that should feel very invigorating and fun. I don’t hate it, but I’d say I’m… disappointed.

Outside of that, there are much better aspects of gameplay! While the main gameplay loop of going around killing mobs is slow, it’s still fun. I enjoyed putting together a composition of tools to mow through enemy hoards. Like I said, this IS a fun game… just kinda weird in areas.

Now, you get items as drops from enemies, which is standard. However, you also have a hub-world of sorts, known as your camp. Here are several traders that sell you items, remove Enchantments, upgrade gear, and gift items to other players when playing multiplayer. These are nice additions to the game, though that’s all I really have to say.

PART TWO: BOSSES

The base game of ‘Minecraft’ has only 2 bosses, the Wither and the Ender Dragon. There’s also some mini-bosses, like the Elder Guardian, Warden, and Ravager. So, there really isn’t much material to go off of for a spin-off title, as you can tell. So, what did the developers add? Some pretty neat enemies, honestly!

The first boss, the Corrupted Cauldron, has a name in the literal sense: it’s a living vat of witch’s brews that spews out purple slime, random undead mobs and purple fire. It also harvests and eats the dead bodies of slain monsters to regain health through this dark, sadistic manner.

Cute.

The Nameless One is an undead skeleton king that can summon either clones of itself or skeleton soldiers to fight you, using a weapon known as a Glaive to strike. This is also an interesting fight; it feels very “Minecraft-y” without straying into the territory of weirdness. I like it!

My personal favorite boss, the Redstone Monstrosity, is the most ‘Diablo’ of all the enemies. It fights using an arsenal of exploding projectiles, heavy-hitting fists and mini Redstone cubes that chase you around.

One cool thing about this fight is that you have these interactable power cores along the sides of the arena you fight the boss in. Activating them lets loose a powerful shockwave, damaging anything within the 4 cardinal directions. These also hurt the monstrosity, making the battle even more interesting to fight.

And while this review won’t cover the story, I’m still not mentioning the final boss, as even though this game doesn’t have too much story, I feel like people would still be sad to have the ending spoiled. But all in all, these are some cool enemies, and I like them all!

I will say, however, that nothing feels super tough; I’ve never needed to grind for levels in order to beat something. This can be seen as a good thing – grinding for anything in a game is normally boring – though I wish that these were some more interesting bosses, compared to other reviews I’ve done.

PART THREE: GRAPHICS

The base game of ‘Minecraft’ has an interesting, iconic style. Using voxel-based terrain, the entire game is made up of cubes, squares, pixels, etc. while not having ultra-realistic lighting or any major notion of physics, ‘Minecraft’s’ artstyle is great. In fact, I’d say that the game would look worse for wear if everything had normal 3-D models. There would be a lot of clipping of models and architecture, so having everything have to conform to a voxel layout helps things feel very neat.

But what if you did put realistic lighting in ‘Minecraft?’

‘Minecraft Dungeons’ is a very VERY pretty game to look at. The lighting looks wonderful, the textures for new blocks and enemies are pleasant to see, animations have been updated from the clunky-yet-perfect movements of the base game to more high-fidelity work for this spin-off.

Luckily, the game doesn’t go into the uncanny-valley with them, meaning that they don’t feel out of place and creepy, contrary to ‘Minecraft Story Mode’s’ weirdly-psychotic animations. They also don’t feel like some kind of fan animation; you’ll never see character’s limbs flex and bend, keeping to a straight, box shape. While this may sound bad, this is actually great, in my opinion.

As I said, the lighting is superb, feeling like something straight out of a mod for the base game. It also has an interesting effect with the pixelated blocks, a beautiful clash of realism and… ‘Tetris.’

PART FOUR: CONCLUSION

‘Minecraft Dungeons’ isn’t perfect by any means. It has a very slow combat system, generally shallow – but still good – story, and is arguably one of the most kid-friendly dungeon-crawler games out there. However, I still think this is a very fun time, and I’d recommend it! I’m giving ‘Minecraft Dungeons’ an 8/10, because it’s one of the most chill action games out there, a strangely nice combination. Plus, it’s only $20 for the base game, a steal.

Log Entry No. 52

“After weeks of prowling humanity’s ruins, I’ve finally caught up to the ‘Minecraft Story Mode’ monster. A towering mass of dark antimatter and writhing clouds, it feeds upon once-lively lands in search of human populations.

I sprinted towards the creature’s back, leaped up, and with a single slash of my blade, I smited the creature’s core!

As the monster fell to the ground, the land around me began to change. From the caked rubble came again trees, flowers, grass. Nature returned, cities rebuilt themselves, and humans came back.

‘Hooray! They all shouted. ‘This random kid has saved all of our lives! ‘Tis a miracle!

And as I basked in the glory, I felt whole again. As if the world wouldn’t let me down, as if I had restored purity to the sanctum that is my heart, deep down in my organ structure.

I had defeated the ‘Minecraft Story Mode’ menace. My soul… was free.”

And that’s all for this episode of JOYSTiCK! See you next time, and feel free to check out other episodes thus far.

‘A Plague Tale Requiem’ review 

By: Semaj Carter

‘A Plague Tale Requiem’ is a horror fantasy game about a girl named Amicia and her brother Hugo set in the 14th century. As you can guess, this game is based on the Black Plague. The game opens up to Hugo and Amicia running away from Lucas, the alchemist of the group, because they are playing king vs the sorcerer. You start playing in the tutorial by playing hide and seek with Lucas; that’s how they teach you the basics of stealth in the game and how it works.

After the tutorial, Lucas leaves to go back to Amicia and Hugo’s mother, who is also an alchemist. In my opinion, I think the mom is the worst character in the game because she acts like she doesn’t care that much about Hugo, and when she does, she favors him over Amicia. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, in the first game, Amicia didn’t know much about her brother at all, he was basically isolated away from everyone including her, except for her mom and dad, who didn’t really pay attention to her.

This game is really depressing, so if you actually pay attention to the story, which I normally don’t do, be prepared and grab some tissues. 

Now let’s talk about Amicia and her overprotectiveness towards Hugo and Lucas, but mostly Hugo. Understandably, Amicia is, according to the prophecy, a protector to the Macula A.K.A. Hugo. If you don’t know what the Macula is, and no, I’m not talking about the thing in your eye, it’s a mysterious, ancient curse that runs in the bloodlines of certain families. It plagues the de Rune family, and in particular has awoken in Hugo de Rune’s blood.

Nearing the end of the game, Hugo and Amicia sail on to sea with their friend Sophia, and eventually reach an island where they suspect the pond that can save Hugo is present.

Overall, I thought the game was really sad, and I was upset with the ending. I still would give it a 10/10 because it was the first game that made me cry, and I was really invested in it. You can get ‘A Plague Tale Requiem’ for the PS5 and XBOX.