Much Belated Thoughts on: E3 2017 & Modern Gaming In General

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Back in the middle part of June the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) took place to both the delight and anger of millions of gamers around the world. And like with every year there were good showing, bad showings, and a dash of controversy.  So how did this years E3 go and what does it say about the state of modern gaming and its community?

 

 

 

As I have said before I have never really considered myself a “Gamer”.  While it is true that like most millennials I grew up playing video games through the various Nintendo, SEGA & Sony systems over the years, outside of my undying love and admiration for the Big N I have never really obsessed over video games to quite the same degree I have comic books.   That said like everyone else I do enjoy tuning in to E3 this year to see what’s up, and I always find at least a few surprises to enjoy.  So here is my take on this years presentations.

 

Microsoft

I will be honest, I like Microsoft’s computers but I have never cared for their video game systems.  The XBOX and the culture around it has always felt off to be, ranging from juvenile frat boy to techie elitists, XBOX has always seemed from both a corporate and community perspective to be the brand equivalent to that jerky kid in high school that claimed to be your friend but still treated you like crap.  The fact  that the main selling point of their overpriced XBOX-ONE X is just simply “how powerful it is” doesn’t help things much in this regard either.  Xbox also like to tout the “Exclusive” title to many games that will also end up on Sony systems, albeit on a later date, but still, a timed exclusive arguably isn’t really an exclusive as it will eventually be playable on other consoles and outlets.  Microsoft is a tech giant so I understand them focusing on how advanced or powerful their hardware is, but for me a video game should be about fun above all.  What can I say, I’m just old fashioned like that.

 

I will give Microsoft some positive progressive points though for being cool and adding more diversity to their avatar creation with the ability to make your avatar have a wheelchair or prosthetic.  It is important to make players of all types feel welcome and included in your community.

 

Nintendo

Nintendo has had a rough couple of years. The WiiU despite being a solid system didn’t do as well as they had hoped and took a bit to long to get a solid software lineup.  And despite the continued success of the 3DS they needed something big to help them get back on top.  Thankfully with the advent of the Nintendo Switch the company seems to be on their way back to the top of the mountain.  The system launched with the highly anticipated  Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild and has had a nice steady trickle of enjoyable 1st and 3rd party games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and PuyoPuyo Tetris since its release and March.  And with he release of games like Splatoon2 & Mario+Rabbids right around the corner and Mario Odyssey coming this Fall the system seems like it will have an excellent first year overall.  As for Nintendo’s E3 showing, it was a pretty solid one, we got what we expected as well as a few surprises with the announcement of new Metroid games for 3DS & Switch as well as some more info on things like Fire Emblem Warriors and confirmation on  Kirby , Yoshi and main series Pokémon games coming to The Switch in the near future.

 

Nintendo is also doing a great job improving on the diversity in their properties.  Gen 7 of Pokémon has many new characters that are their world’s equivalent to native Hawaiian/Polynesian,  BOTW gave a more bigger role to the Gerudo by making one of their own, Urbosa a great hero, ARMS gave us Twintelle, though there was some arguably justified minor controversy surrounding her hair and her sexualized character design.  And most recently Splatoon gave us Marina who is not only a woman of color but also an Octling who is bandmate and friends with the white mouse-like Inkling Pearl showing that even fictional rifts like the ones between the inklings & octlings can heal over time.  Nintendo’s new stance to widen its audience and promote more diversity in its titles is a good one and one that I hope people will support so we can get more diverse and creative characters and titles in the future.

 

Though on the downside I will say it stinks the Big N didn’t hire actual women of color to voice Twintelle & Urbosa.

 

Sony

 

Honestly, not much to say here. They gave a solid conference, sure I may have found it pretty boring myself as very few of the games were of personal interest to me, but overall I am glad that like Nintendo they made the big focus the actual games as opposed to just bragging about how strong their hardware was.

 

Though I will say at this point I am starting to believe the human race will go extinct before Kingdom Hearts III or the Final Fantasy VII remake actually get around to coming out.

 

 

The Controversy

So apparently some people got mad that Wolfenstein, a game about killing Nazis is about well, killing Nazis…. There really are no words to describe how ridiculous this is or how equally ridiculous being offended that backwoods evangelical rednecks are the villains for FarCry 5.  And lets not forget people are still mad you can play as a woman in Star Wars: Battlefront II.

 

Overall the thing that bothers me the most about all this is it shows how completely insane/sexist/racist/etc so many people in the gaming community are.  Yet another reason I am only into games to have fun and not get super serious about something that is meant to be interactive art & storytelling for fun, frolic, & fantasy

 

At the end of the day, gaming has its fair share of problems but we have seen the industry is willing to move forward not just in technological advancement but also while admitingly slower than many would like in accepting a more diverse audience for its products.  And well if that makes some people angry, then maybe its fine for the industry to leave you behind.

FCBD Countdown Day 1!  Lists For Beginners: All-Ages Titles

It is five days until Free Comic Book Day 2017.  A day when comic shops nation wide give away free books to customers old and new alike!  On top of free books many other shops have sales for trades & back issues so this week I am working on master lists for different kinds of readers starting with all-ages titles for kids & parents wanting to give the books a chance.  Below is a list of titles suitable for readers of all-ages. 


-Adventure Time (Boom Studios)

-Archie (Archie)

-Archie Comics Digests (Archie)

-Babysittters Club (Scholastic)

-Backstagers (Boom)

-Batman Adventures (DC)

-Betty & Veronica  (Archie)

-DC Superhero Girls (DC)

-Disney Fairies  (Papercutz)

-Disney Princesses (Joe Books)

-Darkwing Duck (Joe Books)

-Descendents  (Tokyopop)

-Donald Duck (IDW)

-Drama (Scholastic)

-Duck Avenger (IDW)

-Goldie Vance (Boom)

-Gotham Academy (DC)

-Hero Cats (Action Lab)

– I Am Groot! (Marvel)

Jem & The Holograms (IDW)

-Jonsey (Boom)

-Josie & The Pussycats (Archie)

-Jughead (Archie)

-Looney Tunes (DC)

-Lumberjanes (Boom)

-Mickey Mouse (IDW)

-Mickey X (Papercutz)

-Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur  (Marvel)

-My Little Pony (IDW)

-Nimona (Scholastic)

-Over The Garden Wall (Boom)

-Legend of Zelda  (VIZ)

-Loudhouse (Papercutz)

-Miraculous  (Action Lab)

-Monster High (Papercutz)

-Powerpuff Girls (IDW)

-Princeless (Action Lab)

-Regular Show (Boom)

-Scooby-Doo: Where Are You!? (DC)

Scooby-Doo Team-Up (DC)

-Smurfs (Papercutz)

-Sonic The Hedgehog (Archie)

-Spongebob Squarepants (Bongo)

-Squirrel Girl (Marvel)

-Steven Universe (Boom Studios)

-Stitch! (Tokyopop)

Strawberry Shortcake (IDW)

-Supergirl: Adventures in The 8th Grade (DC)

-Superman Adventures (DC)

-Superman Family (DC)

-Superpowers (DC)

-Super Mario Asventures (VIZ)

-Teen Titans Go! (DC)

-Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures  (IDW)

-Tiny Titans (DC)

-Uncle Scrooge (IDW)

-Walt Disney Comics & Stories (IDW)
 And there you have it a list of notable all ages titles to enjoy this Free Comic Book Day!

Why You Should Be Reading: DC Comics!

Welcome to the first instalment of Why You Should Be Reading, or WYSBR for short.  In this new segment every Tuesday we will be looking at a different publisher or series and give reasons as to why fans should take a look at them.  And today we start out with the Granddaddy of the superhero, DC Comics!

 

 

It is true over the years DC Comics, like any publisher has had its ups & downs, having extreme highs and lows in the 90’s and 00’s by the time the 2010’s rolled around DC Comics thought it was time for a change and in 2011 launched “The New 52” which rebooted the entire DC universe and while gave them strong sales initially was met with mixed reception and arguably did more harm than good to the publishers reputation in the long run.  In 2016 however DC Comics came back with a vengeance and here are the three reasons why!

 

 

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  1.  DC Universe Rebirth

What it is:  After the mixed results of The New 52 DC did something no one ever thought a larger publisher like them would do, they admitted to their mistake, and using elements set up in previous event series like Multiversity and Convergence they launched the Superman: Lois & Clark and Titans Hunt mini-series which lead into DC Universe Rebirth.  A one-shot that changed everything by finally finishing the connect the dots so to speak of the Pre-Flashpoint and New52 DC Universes.  This lead into a big line wide relaunch and revitalization of the DC Comics books.

 

Why You Should Care:  DC Universe Rebirth is an initiative that is all about reclaiming the legacy of the DC Universe that was lost after the Flashpoint while still moving the DC Universe forward with both well beloved classic characters and new fan favorites, it is about embracing everything from the golden age to modern age of comics and reconciling it into one epic two year long narrative spanning the entirety of the DC Universe!

 

Recommended Reads:  So far the various Superman family titles and the Titans book seem to be the most actively connected, though the Batman books and Flash have a big role to play as well.  And on a personal note Aquaman, Blue Beetle, Wonder Woman and the Green Lantern books are pretty enjoyable as well!

 

 

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2. Young Animal

What it is:  A new imprint started by Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance fame, this line is advertised as “Comics For Dangerous Humans”  and focuses on the weirder fringe of the DCU.

 

Why You Should Care:  So far young animal has revived fan favorite underdogs The Doom Patrol, as well as launching new series for Cave Carson, Shade: The Changing Girl and introduced a new character in Mother Panic.  It also has a New Gods mini-series starring Bug: The Forager planned for this summer!

 

Recommended reads:  Honestly you can’t go wrong with anything from this line, though Doom Patrol and Shade: The Changing Girl stick out the most due to their unique and psychedelic natures.

 

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3.  Hanna-Barbera Universe (a.k.a. Hanna-Barbera Beyond)

What it is:  HBU or HBB as it is also called is a new line that finally sees DC Comics take advantage of the large library of classic cartoon characters it has access to and reworks and reimagines them in new and interesting ways.  From a Mad Max Style Wacky Races, to a Ghost Buster-esque Scooby Doo and beyond, HBU takes these classic characters and uses them in intriguing new ways!

 

Why You Should Care:   Hanna-Barbera Beyond is not only revitalizing these characters but also helping make a new generation of readers aware of characters like The Impossibles, Frankenstein Jr. Johnny Quest, Space Ghost, Snagglepuss, Dastardly & Muttly, etc.  On top of preserving these classic and arguably for the most part underappreciated cartoon characters it also gives us fun new stories to read with them weather it is the team-up of all of HB’s action stars in Future Quest, a revitalized commentary heavy Flintstones,  or a even crazier version of Scooby-Doo!  The HBB line has something for everyone.  Oh and they are also doing crossovers between the HB and main DC lines later this month.  Space Ghost/Green Lantern Team-up anyone!?

 

Recommended Reads:  For the most part the HBU books are meant to be 6- 12 issue limited series though Scooby Apocalypse is lasting beyond that mark.  None the less though I cannot recommend Future Quest enough as it has been a genuinely amazing book, and Flintstones has been spot-on as well!  As for the upcoming second wave of titles, Snagglepuss looks promising.

 

And there you have it, three solid reasons to check out what DC Comics is up too!  Between these three lines/imprints there truly is a book for everyone!