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.

Thoughts on: Ben10 Reboot! (2017)

 

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Reboots & Launches of popular IP’s are common place in American media, especially amongst series in the superhero genre.  It is a way for companies to publishers to keep their characters fresh and relevant for a new generation of readers and viewers.  However like with anything else the various incarnations of these heroes can be met with positive or negative feedback from their fans.  Today we will take a look at one of the newest heroes to get a reboot; Ben10!

 

First off I will admit right off the bat that growing up as a kid I despised the original Ben10 and really never had any interest in its various sequels /movies /spinoffs /specials /etc.   And this was because around the time Ben10 originally aired in the middle of the 00’s like many I was a teenager in that “everything replacing the shows I used to watch sucks” phase. To me Ben10 was just a wannabe a show that tried to capture the spirit of popular DC superhero cartoons and anime without putting any of the effort in.  I acknowledge though I was most likely in the minority of individuals in that mindset as the series became one of Cartoon Network’s most popular original series for a good number of years not only amongst those who were kids in the ought’s but  some nineties kids as well who saw it as one of the last hold outs of shows with that classic action cartoon vibe to it, and I can see where they are coming from, looking back the original Ben10 has that late 90’s Saturday morning cartoon feel to it to a degree, however even looking at the previous incarnation from a more objective and mature standpoint I still can’t say I care for it all that much.

 

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So here is where I will most likely get a fair amount of shade thrown at me, but oh well.  Overall I find the 2017 incarnation of Ben10 to be the most entertaining version yet!  The characters are all fairly lively and Ben & Gwen act like real kids not just stereotypes of what adults think kids act like, they have fun, relax and bicker with each other but not to a cliché extreme like the originals did. This gives their dynamic a more natural feel which benefits both characters and makes both much less annoying than they were in the past.  The color pallet of the show is also much brighter and more visually appealing and the characters redesigns really breath new life into them and visually it seems to fit somewhere between Be Cool Scooby Doo and Gravity Falls, making for a cute yet quirky visual experience. The shortened run-time of episodes also helps the series in my opinion because like with the original Powerpuff Girls or Courage it feels like something is always happening, it is fast paced enough to keep the viewer engaged in the episode while still being contained enough to not feel as disjointed and manic as something like Teen Titans Go!  While like TTG & last years PPG reboot it is more on the comedic side than the action side it never feels like it is over doing it, there is a good balance between humor and action that in my book puts the show closer to series like Regular Show, only instead of two friends working at a park this is two kids spending the summer traveling the U.S. with their Grandpa.   Overall I just find this new version much more enjoyable and entertaining.

 

At the end of the day like with any reboot or reimagining your personal enjoyment of this series will vary and I understand why some hardcore fans of the original series may not be on board with this new incarnation and that like TTG! and PPG16 that it will be yet another show that will be divisive amongst Cartoon Network and Superhero fans.  I myself though would urge to give the show a chance, if you are a 90’s kid you should have grown out of your “everything sucks” stage by now and to all those ought’s babies out there don’t make the same mistakes we did, don’t let nostalgia goggles and confirmation bias cloud your judgement take in every new experience you have, even something as simple as watching a cartoon with all the same innocence you did as a child, let a work speak for itself and analyze how it holds up on its own terms not how it works compared to the past.  If you like it great and if you still dislike it that’s fine too.  I guess all I am saying is, give the new Ben10 a chance!  If you do I think you might just be pleasantly surprised. 😉

 

Season 1 of Ben10 2017 is currently airing weekdays on Cartoon Network.

Future Quest Vol. 1 Review

Warning: This post contains spoilers

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion.  Birddman, Johhny Quest, Space Ghost and all related characters are property of DC Comics/Hanna-Barbera/Warner Bros. Entertainment.

 

Publisher: DC Comics

Written By: Jeff Parker

Art by: Evan “Doc’’ Shaner, Steve Rude, Jordie Bellaire

Lettering by: ALW Studios, Dave Lanphaer

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   As mentioned in yesterday’s review 2016 was a busy year for DC Comics. They started the Rebirth initiative for their main line and launched a new imprint Young Animal with Gerard Way.  However that is not all the company did that year, they also launched the Hanna-Barbera Universe line as well.  This line finally gives writers and artists the ability to utilize the vast library of Hanna-Barbera characters that their parent company Warner Bros. Entertainment owns.   The first three books to launch from this line were Future Quest, Scooby Apocalypse and Wacky Raceland, with a reimagined version of The Flintstones being released the following summer.   So far the line has done fairly well and a series of crossover one-shots and a second wave of new titles is scheduled for 2017.   Today though we are not here to just talk about the line in general, but to look at the first collected edition of one of the flagship titles Future Quest!

 

To give a breakdown of the series, Future Quest takes all the Hanna-Barbera action heroes and throws them together in one book.  Everyone from Johnny Quest, Birdman, Space Ghost, The Herculoids and even The Impossibles and Frankenstein Jr. make an appearance in the book.

The story of the series goes like this, an evil beast named Omnikron is trying to engulf all of creation but Space ghost, The Galaxy Trio and The Herculoids do their best to hold it back.  The beast is weakened but not defeated as it purposely shrinks itself and generates a vortex to send itself to Earth.  Meanwhile back on Planet Earth Johhny and Hadji are having fun as Dr. Benton Quest researches the vortexes in question.  He is not the only one however as the evil Dr. Zin and his agents of F.E.A.R. are also aware of the mysterious vortexes as well as Omnikron the creature responsible for them, Zin wants to harness Omnikron for his own nefarious means.  Birdman is sent in as extra muscle to help protect Dr. Quest while Race Bannon watches the kids.  Things begin to escalate when Johhny and Hadji find an unconscious Jan and her friend Gleek in their crashed ship in the jungle, soon they are attacked by Zin’s henchmen who somehow already have captured Jace and are after Jan to complete their set.  Meanwhile getting back to the heroes, the vortexes which are rifts in time and space allow the prehistoric hero Mightor to end up in the modern day, elsewhere the Impossibles end up fighting a monster sent by F.E.A.R. and Omnikron continues to grow in power!

 

In terms of story, Future Quest delivers on an action-packed experience, every issue keeps you on the edge of your seat as we see all of the characters introduced over the course of the book.  Despite the massive amount of action and characters though the book never feels rushed, the facing is works well for the book and between the main story and short back-ups that expand more on the history of these characters we get a good look at these various heroes and teams.  It also helps that we get a good balance of panel time between all the characters, with a cast this large it would be easy to shove aside characters in favor of others, but the story does a good job of giving all of the Hanna-Barbera heroes their time to shine.  The overall structure of the story is well done for the most part as well, the main narrative is coherent despite the chaos of the tale and as previously stated the back-up strips give us some much needed background on these characters.   Overall Jeff Parker did a wonderful job crafting this series and you can tell he has a genuine love and respect for all the various characters in the book.

 

In terms of art Evan “Doc” Shaner’s work on the covers and interior is spot on and fits the feel of the classic Hanna-Barbera series perfectly!  Steve Rude’s work while more modern in appearance is well done for the most part as well.  Jordie Bellaire’s colors also compliment the story well and help make the book have that classic Hanna-Barbera feel, while also maintaining some modern spirit as well.

 

Overall Future Quest vol. 1 is an over the top, action packed adventure that is sure to please fans of Johnny Quest, Space Ghost and the like both young and old from start to finish!

 

 

FINAL GRADE

Story: 8

Art: 8

 Overall: 8 out of 10