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Friday, March 17, 2017

The Beast, The Beauty, and The Wardrobe: Childhood Relived

The Beast, The Beauty, and the Wardrobe

by A'Gia Alston
Twitter: +Xminess 

In March 1989, yours truly joined the Spring baby ranks. Mom knew from my appetite, lungs, and disdain for heat that she had someone special. By two years old, I could walk, talk somewhat, and I swore I could read. Something else happened in 1991 outside of my bookworm pride blossoming, Disney released Beauty and the Beast

I have seen several Disney movies in my 28 years, but this one always had a place in my heart. I had the VHS, two different Belle collectible dolls-- Christmas and Ball-- and a Beast doll that allowed you to transform him into the Prince by removing the mask, tail, and paws. In my late middle school years, I would reenact "Be Our Guest" for my baby cousins and they were awed-- a one woman Broadway show for about five minutes. The live action remake worried and excited me, but I had to see it.




Blessed be the Enchantress that I did. WARNING: SOME SPOILERS AHEAD

I appreciated Beauty and the Beast (1991) because Belle was not your usual female protagonist-- or woman in general for that matter. I could not identify this reasoning as a child, but I felt it. Her character is defined by her choice to go against all society's norms for her time. She rarely wears make up, loves books, had an exemplary intellect, wanted adventure, and did not need a companion to make herself feel better. The older I got, the more I could empathize with her character because I felt like an outsider growing up too.

The 2017 remake made me laugh, cry, sing, and once again remember why I truly adore her character. Watching her assist her father, Maurice, reminded me of finishing my mother's sentences as a child. When she decided to design the first horse-powered washing machine, I could recall building camcorders out of Kleenex boxes, paper towel rolls, and saran wrap. Despite all the bestiality jokes we noticed later, Belle was a true, strong-spirited individual and I applaud Emma being cast for the role; Hermoine Granger already showed us she could tame beasts and teach others the benefit of education and ingenuity.

Childhood Redesigned


Childhood 26 years later looks like this


Disney deserves a standing ovation for this. Everyone is hemming and hawing about what they perceive as a same-sex scene, a country outright said they would only allow the theatrical release if said scene were removed, and I am sitting here cackling like Witch Hazel (yes, that Witch Hazel) as Disney basically flips the bird to stereotypes, society's expectations, and, in a way, Walt Disney himself! As I explained to a friend via social media, Beauty and the Beast (2017) has a brown-skinned librarian in, what we can safely presume is late 17th century France, interracial couples, same-sex romantic implications akin to the end of Avatar: the Legend of Korra, and a woman telling a man "No" in, again, 17TH CENTURY FRANCE.

The animation giant also did something that few remakes ever attempt to do: address plot holes and risk making changes. I will not go in depth here to preserve the sanctity of excitement, but if you watch the original as often as I did, you should have had questions about Belle's background and the Prince (because "[he] is not a Beast"). The remake fills in these gaps and reminds us why sometimes our memories of the past can mean more to us than the reality of our past.

If you do not watch the remake for any other reason, go for the ending-- not the ending you already know, but the climax leading up to it. The last computer graphic animation that made me cry like this was Tidus dying in Final Fantasy X. 

Young or old, the Beauty and the Beast remake introduced several generations to a "...tale as old as time..." and demonstrates that who we love is just as much our choice as who we are.

Until Later Guys,

^_^

For your listening pleasure: "Beauty and the Beast" song by Peabo Bryson and Celine Dion

Wondering how I assessed the era? Brush up on gun history & Gaston's Blunderbuss: 

PBS Gun Timeline
History of the Blunderbuss

Friday, January 13, 2017

Nintendo Switch: Snap to the Future





Nintendo Switch: Snap to the Future


January 13, 2017
A’Gia Alston
for A State of Gaming


Holy puns on the run Batman. This morning’s Nintendo Switch Presentation crawled slower than mini Toad hit by a storm cloud mid-race. There were more snaps than a bowl of Rice Krispies and a box of Slim Jims combined. I tuned in around 11:45pm EST and almost turned it off ten minutes in. Yes, the stage presence and presenting process was indeed that horrendous. But, I stuck it out for you lovelies so that you did not have to. So, let’s recap the Nintendo Switch Presentation:


1. $299.99 suggested retail price


The Switch *SNAP*  tiptoes along the $300 line mark when it launches March 3rd, 2017. The hybrid console/handheld will have two Joy-Cons (one left, one right), one AC Adapter (they learned), one docking station, and an HDMI cable. The Nintendo Switch website includes a breakdown of additional peripherals and their prices. Customers can choose between the standard black and grey console, or the black console with red and blue Joy-Con controllers. Based on the presentation, the Pro Controller will be sold separately and customers have to pay for a data plan. Social media overflowed as fans lamented concern over the additional data charge. $299.99 is not the $499.99 Sony aficionados spent on the Playstation 3 back in 2007, but for a system that may not have many launch titles to play on day 1, people are worried.
Nintendo-Switch-Joy-Con-Neon-Colors.jpg


2) Launch Date: March 3, 2017


Prepare to trade in your systems and games at local retailers for credit because you only have a month and a half to get your funds together. On one hand, Nintendo’s ability to launch Switch with such speed-- when it was just announced and revealed last year-- is admirable. However, the downside is that interested buyers do not have a lot of time to grind for launch day. Tack on the holiday season just ending, and I feel Switch sales day 1 will suffer slightly. The other potential issue affecting the Nintendo Switch launch day is…


3) Day 1 Title Line-Up





...or lack thereof. Maybe I missed the memo in the Nintendo Switch Presentation this morning, but the murmur of playable titles accompanying the launch March 3rd could barely be described as a list. Super Mario Odyssey looks stunning, but it is forecasted for a Holiday 2017 release. Ultra Street Fighter II: the Final Challengers-- a game announcement that set my heart a-flutter with pitter patter-- has a new tabletop mode, two new characters, and configurable graphics settings, but no release date. Note: Ono-san and other members of the CAPCOM team are playing this Live on Nintendo Treehouse as I type and I stopped to watch it.
Courtesy of Harrison at Capcom-Unity


Arms, Splatoon 2, and Xenoblade 2, to name a few others, have release dates after launch. As of 1AM EST, only Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and 1-2 Switch are blatantly confirmed as available day 1 titles. This is no small feat and my Twitter feed blew up as fans rejoiced for Legend of Zelda, but that was literally the highlight of the whole show. If anyone watching the presentation decided to dip out ten minutes in like I almost did, they would have been left with a lackluster impression.


4) Legend of Zelda


Get hype and stay hyped folks. Breath of the Wild will be released March 3, 2017 for Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Wii U. There are three purchasing options: a) buy the game alone for $59.99, b) purchase the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Special Edition, or c) go big for the grand Pubah Master Edition. Both editions are Nintendo Switch exclusive collections. Ready for the bad news? Neither edition comes with the actual system. Why is this a problem? Because…


5) No Bundles


The Nintendo Switch is small and affordable, given the technological advancements it manages to embody. However, gamers have grown accustom to bundle possibilities when systems launch. The Switch will not even come packaged with 1-2 Switch to at least get you started.


6) Third Party and Indie Love


Electronic Arts, Bethesda brings Skyrim, Suda 51 and Grasshopper are hinting at Travis Touchdown from No More Heroes...the Nintendo Switch Presentation may have been campy, but the third party support is there and if the Nintendo Treehouse Live feed is anything to go by, Indie developers will feel right at home.
... V: Skyrim</i> Review


Takeways


Innovation and fun have always been Nintendo’s modus operandi and I do believe the Switch will be a rewarding experience. The revealed games are fresh and the promotion team made sound decisions showcasing various genres. The dry humor, awkward transitions-- someone messed up Suda 51’s introduction and content display-- and forced enthusiasm made the presentation cumbersome. It felt like a product suggestion a team delivers to their boss hoping it will get green-lighted as opposed to a persuasive, explosive marketing hook. It kept your attention for all the wrong reasons.


If you can ignore the stage presence, Nintendo Switch has promise. The launch day line up will not make it a day 1 purchase for me, but I look forward to bringing it home.


Share your thoughts with the A State of Gaming team via Facebook and Twitter. You can yell at me about how cool Mario’s new hat is, the Fight Game Community’s USFII hype levels, or anything else that popped up via Twitter @Xminess

Friday, October 21, 2016

You Know Something is Wrong

There is something very wrong with the world we live in- not the planet. The planet is fine and will continue even as we decay and join it. I mean the human aspect. In the United States, we are born, forced, by law, to receive twelve years of adequate schooling, then told we are adults and need to follow societal norms: get a job, find a career, pay taxes, and then we die. That is it. We are advised to “see all the world has to offer”, but in bursts: short vacations that must perfectly coordinate with our bosses wishes and company production. Vast settings described in books and poetry.

Fools are we all.

This human controlled world is a cage that is as error-ridden as its creators. How can anyone be whatever he or she wants when schooling and internet are only as available as the money in your wallet or the governments’ leniency? A child of meager financial background does not stand an equal chance with those born amidst opportunity. The India of old had a caste system that many outside countries held in disdain. But, is it not true? Steve Jobs did not come from money, but the opportunity presented itself that his great, open mind saw and gunned for- not without setbacks. How many low-income children see this opportunity? How many citizens in internet-censoring countries happen upon opportunity’s door and trudge through? Rarely do we exceed the possibilities of the caste we are born into. The caste system was thoroughly improper to implement, because it lawfully imposed what tends to happen regardless. It removed the hope and determination to be more. However, it is worse to dangle misled hope, while destroying the mountain leading to it.

See, the problem is the structure.  We are constantly herded to find a career niche. If we do not, we are not contributing to society and instead are wasting government money. No one, save the wealthy, can freely roam the world and truly learn from it. If you were to drop out of high school and decide to backpack the country while working odd jobs, most people would consider you foolish and responsible with no future. A portion of the group would be envious of your choice, because you seem to be chasing “freedom”. One may find financial stability this way, one may not, but why must we judge them? Employers look at a varied resume and assume the candidate lacks commitment and is a risk, but do not these same employers willingly go through employees like expendables? Lay offs, providing few hours or demanding all of their employees’ time. A resume with variety and content prior employers says a lot about a candidate. If you complain, you are labeled lazy. If you are young, you are told that you should be fine with long hours since you have the energy to handle it. How are we to appreciate the world around us when we are blackmailed on a daily basis to turn away from it? Thus, those who want to have, do almost anything to obtain; those who already have, make the rules to keep; those striving to give their life meaning are asked to give in and assimilate.

This circle of unyielding bullshit table-flips any possibility of harmony because almost anyone who is not on top- and chooses- not to conform struggles. If one chooses to conform, he or she still struggles- either with his or her own convictions or the looping corporate staircase hierarchy. Why is it wrong to want to experience and learn more? Humans are the only species that forces their fellow kind to choose one way of survival/life and ostracizes them for standing out. Why is there a need for virtual reality or augmented reality? Because apparently, we are tired of the reality we face each day. Think about it. Players escape to video games to be/do/say/try/explore/create/achieve what they want because we live in a crystal snowglobe- a cage where serenity and distortion are often in another’s hands.

Now imagine coming to grips with this in your mid-twenties. Knowing that despite your efforts and hard work the potential to change it is dimming.

[1] “God doesn't make the world this way. We do.”



[1] “God doesn’t make the world this way. We do.” Rorschach Watchmen (2009)


Until Later Guys,

(_ _)m

Twitter: @xminess

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

"Gotta Catch Em All" Together

https://twitter.com/Xminess/status/776191472714612736

With Mrs. Popo following me around, maybe Mr. Popo will finally get the peace and quiet he deserves on Kami's lookout.

Niantic Labs, the creators of "Pokemon Go," added an update a few days ago that allows trainers to carry a buddy with them in-game. We get to relive our childhood dream of watching Pikachu follow us around as we explore Kanto, Johto, and Washington D.C.! 

Sort of. 

Your chosen buddy does not walk next to your avatar in real-time. Instead, you see them stand next to you on your profile page. Once you select a Pokemon buddy via the avatar page menu, that buddy will earn one candy of its type when you have walked a certain number of kilometers. The required number of kilometers you must walk with said Pokemon depends on which one you are paired with. As you might have guessed, the coveted Pokemon require more cardio. As you can see in the link above, I have a Jinx paired with me now. She is going to require 5km. Thus, I would suggest choosing a Pokemon that needs more candy to evolve but, be warned! Switching your Pokemon before they find a candy resets your buddy distance to zero, as others have pointed out.

Now I know what you are thinking:  "Pokemon Yellow," "HeartGold," and "SoulSilver" had this feature, so this is nothing new. To that I say, you are absolutely correct. But who needs a party pooper? Besides, this is your personal avatar we are talking about, not Ash in a coma.

So, who is your Pikachu? Tell me in the comments below, or reply on my tweet with a picture of your partner in PokeCrime!

Until Later Guys,

^_^

Twitter: Gia A.
Facebook: A State of Gaming

Monday, August 1, 2016

Kingdom Hearts: Prologue To An End, Pt.1 - MMOs.com

Fans and newcomers of the Kingdom Hearts series rejoice! I tackle one of the most complex video game stories within the past twenty years in preparation for Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8.



Kingdom Hearts Unchained X





Kingdom Hearts: Prologue To An End, Pt.1 - MMOs.com:



'via Blog this'

Monday, May 16, 2016

Kingdom Hearts Unchained X (Chi) Zootopia event is OVAAAAA!

The Zootopia Event quest for #KHUx officially ended May 16th at 3:00 A.M. EST! The event began one week ago, offering five event boards and two avatar boards. The avatar boards ran for 3000 jewels a piece- quite a sum when you could spend the same amount for a chance at ten high-powered medals. Some prefer customization, but I am more of a core player. Thus, I attacked this campaign aiming for TOTAL EVENT BOARD DOMINATION! I suffered a frustrating incomplete during the Epic Kingdom Hearts II Event quest by a handful of nodes, so this time it was personal haha.

The Event boards offered wrist and chest accessories for your "stylin and profilin'" avatars, but the true gold this time around was the Munny and Experience Medal board (pictured above). Each event board also contained on Cid Cost Reduction medal for 200 coins. Merge five of those bad boys together and a 6-Star medal drops from 46 Cost to 41 Cost. But alas, we can jump into the fine details later. For now, check out the Event board recap below and let me know how you did this time around!

Until Later Guys ,

^_^

Zootopia Event Recap

Did you miss the event entirely? Then you should peek at these too!

Zootopia Event Quest: Eggcognito
OMEGA Queen Bee Raid Boss

Have questions or comments for me? Leave one below or try the following for a quick reply!

Twitter: @Xminess
Facebook: facebook.com/astateofgaming
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/Xminess

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Indie Arcade!!

Short post today! I found out at the very last minute that an event called Indie Arcade was taking place from 1pm-7pm at the Smithsonian American Art and Portraiture Museum. The courtyard had been transformed into a beautiful haven of arcade cabinets, consoles, and gaming laptops for kids young and old to enjoy. The event was free and the games were on freeplay as well. From what I could gather, the sponsors of Indie Arcade were familiars in the video game world: MAGfest and Game Lab (American University's gem). 


"Indie" is a term that is thrown about plenty nowadays and its meaning changes depending on who you talk to and which generation you are from. This minifest served as a stage to show the world just how diverse many newcomer developers' ideas are and what they use to start them. Why the classic cabinets like "X-Men" and Tron then? Well, jump back to the early 70s, 80s, and 90s- you know, before EA, Activision, or Ubisoft were big names in every household. The developers from back then were independent (where "indie" stems from) developers at their very cores! Video games were a new platform that many companies had no faith in. Think of the Magnavox Odyssey, created by the pioneer Ralph Baer (who recently passed away and who the gaming industry owes so much). If it were not for him and his small team working against the odds and disbelief of their employers, there would never have been a Magnavox Odyssey or your living room's next-gen console for that matter. Video games from decades long past were the blood, sweat, and tears of individuals and/or teams that had nothing to go on but their daring ideas and willpower with little to no funding. We have their original premise to thank as the guidance for our generations' Indie Developers.

Ahh crap, said I would keep this short didn't I >.<.  Well, thanks for reading and I hope many of you had a chance to enjoy the Indie Arcade like I did.


Until Later Guys,


^_^


Quick thank you to Kotaku.com 's Luke Plunkett who's article is theRalph Baer link referenced above. Also, check A State of Gaming Facebook , A State of Gaming's Youtube Channel, and A State of Gaming's Twitter for clips and footage from the event 

Vid Highlights

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