Playing With Imagination: Early Thoughts on Xenoblade Chronicles 2

Playing With Imagination is a series where I talk about video game stories and plots. Many video games have incredible stories and are often overlooked in our society. Today, I talk about Xenoblade Chronicles 2 from Nintendo and Monolith Soft.

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Playing With Imagination: Early Thoughts on Xenoblade Chronicles 2

I got into this series back in 2014 when Xenoblade Chronicles X was on the Wii U. I heard of the stories of Operation Rainfall. Three Wii titles were set to be Japan exclusive. The campaign fought to bring those titles to the US and not only did they succeed, but Xenoblade has become a pretty big franchise for them. It’s not on the level of Mario or Zelda, but it’s become a cult hit.

So naturally, I was excited for Xenoblade Chronicles 2 for the Nintendo Switch. It was on my “to buy” list since it was announced. Now that it’s come out, I’m pretty happy with it. While Persona 5 set a high bar for me in terms of how JRPGs should be, Xenoblade 2 had a lot to bring to the table.

For me, an RPG’s most important element is the story. I want to be engrossed in the world both visually and artistically. While I am barely through the game, I’ll talk about my early thoughts about Nintendo and Monolith Soft’s latest JRPG.

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Fiction Friday: By the Red Giant’s Light

(Note: Super sorry for being late. A lot happened this week and I’ve neglected to put this up. But hey, it’s still Friday, right?)

Fiction Friday is a series where I talk about what I’ve been reading. Short Stories (and sometimes Novellas) are featured as in-between posts and the first Friday of the month will feature a new novel review. Today, I review By The Red Giant’s Light by Larry Niven

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Fiction Friday: By the Red Giant’s Light

Today’s short story is by a well known Science Fiction author. I’m going to talk about By the Red Giant’s Light by Larry Niven, author of Ringworld. You can find the story here. He also wrote Ringworld, a story which has had many inspirations in media, such as Halo for example. While I personally have never read the book, I want to sometime review works done by famous authors who still write even to this day.

Especially from an author who’s been writing since the 60s. That takes a huge amount of dedication. Perhaps I’ll write until my last breath, and while that would be a goal for me, I can’t get ahead of myself. Anyway, let’s begin.

Plot

The story involves an astronaut named Dardry, who escaped to Pluto after being on the run from a world she ended up crippling through her hacking methods. While she is a runaway on a planet so far from human contact, she is escaping its inevitable demise. Along the way, she encounters a series of robots who all form one single entity. The main robot, whom she calls Frank, is researching the planet. When they aren’t debating, they watch as a meteor hurls towards them, threatening to end Dardry’s life. Though apprehensive, the robot agrees to help and with Dardry’s hacking methods, they push the comet off course.

The story is simplistic and straightforward, which isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes a good story is what you need to get through the day. There is one plot point I should mention and that is the sun itself. Throughout the story, it is engulfing in a huge ball of fire consuming everything in its path and will one day consume Dardry’s new world of Pluto.

Science has always mentioned the possibility that the sun will die out and take all of us with it. Maybe not tomorrow, but someday. It continues into the ending where it’s in the process of consuming Venus. It’s an ambiguous ending that is left up to the imagination if our heroine is going to die, if ever. Perhaps she escapes and ventures further into space.

This story is what I’d call true science fiction. Something that could happen that isn’t too unrealistic. Even though I’m more interested in the fantastical side, it’s nice to see something written so effectively.

Characters

Only two notable characters here. The first is Dardry. She’s an escaped criminal from Earth who was wanted for a hacking job that “everyone wanted her head” for. She’s stranded on Pluto and while the sun is blowing everyone up in the solar system, she’s dealing with another character.

That character is Frank, short for Frankenstein. The robot is on a mission to study the sun, but its true goal is unknown. It’s not evil, but it doesn’t want Dardry to use its equipment and disrupt its research.

The dynamic between what is essentially an alien robot is interesting since Frank isn’t sure what to make of Dardry, who assumes she’s a robot as well underneath strange skin. Frank is rightfully curious since he’s more than likely never seen a human before. He’s also cautious about what Dardry will do to him and his experiments.

Writing

The writing feels modern but simplistic. Many authors back in the early days were simplistic in their writing, but it’s always an interesting thing to see veteran authors continue to write even to this day. That, to me, shows a love for their craft. While I’ve heard stories about authors hating to write, despite being famous, deep down, they know they love the stories they tell.

Not much else to say, other than this was a good story overall.


That’s all for today. Take care, and remember, the inn is always open.

Got any suggestions for future topics and reviews? Hit me up on my social media channels and let me know your thoughts. I always read the feedback, even if I don’t respond, and every reply counts.

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Fantastic Wonder: Your Name Review

Fantastic Wonder is a series of Fantasy related posts where I discuss different aspects of the genre and the many tropes and plot lines associated with it. Today, I talk about the anime film Your Name.

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Fantastic Wonder: Your Name Review

Confession time: It’s rare I watch romance movies, or heck, romance anything. I’m not too into the genre and not because it’s a girl thing. It’s just I see a lot of romance plots in stories all the time, so having an entire genre dedicated to it seemed counterintuitive, but to each his (or her) own I suppose. I’m always in the camp of “If the story is good enough, I’ll pay attention to it.”

That said, Your Name is a romance movie, more or less a Shoujo (young girl in Japanese, essentially shows geared towards girls). Now that alone I wouldn’t pay any attention to, but the fact that this movie is such a box office success in Japan and got rave reviews, I had to be at least curious. A movie that could stand on the shoulders of Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli was no laughing matter. It’s the only film that accomplished such a feat.

So I figured, eh, I’ll give it a try. And boy, was I impressed. It could be one of the best anime films I’ve watched in a long time. I don’t usually watch anime films, but this one deserves all of the hype. I can see why people love it so much.

The Story

Our heroes, Taki and Mitsuha, wake up one morning inside each other’s bodies. Initially, we see Taki as Mitsuha, and the first thing he does is a grope check (in case you’re wondering, yes, Mitsuha does the same at one point). Yep, welcome to anime. Anyways, we see Mitsuha’s family. She lives in the countryside performing rituals. The next day, Mitsuha can’t remember anything, but her classmates can.

Then we see Mitsuha in Taki’s body. He lives in the city, working at a restaurant. Taki’s strange behavior allows his co-worker to develop feelings for him, something I’m sure the kid didn’t want.

It’s a Freaky Friday scenario that forces the two to find out about each other. It’s an interesting story that shows that love is a powerful force. I don’t think it’s explained how these two are switching, but the comet might have something to do with it.

So they go through their lives until one day, they decide to finally meet. However, that task is easier said than done, as the two are worlds apart. I won’t go into specifics, but this story has a powerful plot twist.

It’s one of those tales that isn’t necessarily love at first sight because they don’t seem to care who the other party is, just that they’re in each other’s bodies. It doesn’t follow a lot of the usual romance Tropes and that’s what makes it so good. In fact, the romance is only implied and the movie in its entirety is them meeting each other.

What I love about it

This movie has such an engaging plot that goes far beyond finding true love. It’s a sense of wonder where two completely unrelated characters seek each other. It’s a unique take on the genre and it’s something I’d love to see more of. Not just be “boy meets girl, girl hangs out with guy, guy gets married to girl, etc.

Plus the chaos of the mind swapping scenario adds to the charm. Forcing the other genders to experience their lives as each other makes for one hilarious story. Not to mention that whatever they experience doesn’t go away. They can affect each other’s lives while still figuring out their own.

The overall story is very gripping. While I won’t spoil much, an incident forces the two to finally meet. And while this is for the most part a romance, there’s a sense of urgency in figuring out who Mitsuha really is. The story goes into a different shift that pulls it away from the romance side and becomes a moment of reckoning for the two of them.

The story is so suspenseful that you can’t help but stay glued to them. Taki and Mitsuha are also such relatable characters that you want to root for them. It’s a great story overall and it makes this a fantastic film.

Best Anime Movie?

This movie has plenty of competition with other anime films. Spirited Away, Princes Mononoke, Akira and so on. This falls closer to a film like those from Mamoru Hosoda than it does anything as graphic as Akira. But is it the greatest anime film ever? Not really. This is a wonderful film and deserves all of its praise, but having something be the “best anime movie ever” is a big statement to make. I’ll say that this definitely should be on the list of greatest anime films, even if it doesn’t take the top spot. I’ve seen a few anime films prior, like some of Hosoda’s films like Boy and the Beast and Summer Wars. These films can stand on its own and provide an amazing sense of wonder.

Your Name has something special going for it, but I’m honestly not sure what it’s doing that other anime films aren’t. Perhaps it’s the art style, which is fluid throughout the entire film. The plot is another thing where it doesn’t follow the traditional romance story, yet has that sense of urgency and mystery to it.

Whatever the case, this film is a classic and will definitely be remembered for a long time. If you’ve never seen an anime film before, but don’t know where to start, then I’d recommend this. It’s not too wild and wacky and is a perfect example of how good the anime industry can get. If you’re tired of seeing goofy comedies that do weird things and want something a little ordinary, then this is one I’d recommend to start off with.

So that’s all for today. What did you think of this film? Does this make you want to try it out? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


That’s all for today. Take care, and remember, the inn is always open.

Got any suggestions for future topics and reviews? Hit me up on my social media channels and let me know your thoughts. I always read the feedback, even if I don’t respond and every reply counts.

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Fiction Friday: Daniel Coldstar: The Relic War Review

Fiction Friday is a series where I talk about what I’ve been reading. Short Stories (and sometimes Novellas) are featured as in-between posts and the first Friday of the month will feature a new novel review. Today, I review Daniel Coldstar: The Relic War by Stel Pavlou.

Fiction Friday: Daniel Coldstar: The Relic War Review

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Today’s novel is a Science Fiction Middle-Grade story, Daniel Coldstar: The Relic War by Stel Pavlou. You can find it here. I had very mixed feeling about this one, but mostly positive overall. I’ll get into the details about that in a moment, but I’m doing this to look into more younger stories. If I’m going to be writing young protagonists, I need to have a clear idea of what’s actually out there (I do, just not enough). Time to change that and review one, so let’s get going.

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December 2017 Status Update

December 2017 Status Update

 

Legends of Eifalia Book 1 Progress

  • 26 Chapters Total. Plot-edit Draft Nearing Completion. Structure Draft to start in January 2018
  • Rough Draft Word Count: 54,337
  • First Draft Word Count: 59,210

 

Middle-Grade Novel Progress

  • Rough Draft complete. 14 Chapters compete. Editing in 2018. [Total words and chapters not final]
  • Current Total Word Count: 19,920

 

Short Story Progress

  • 4 works in progress, totaling over 16,000 words
  • Hope to send works out in January 2018

 

It’s December 2017.

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