Monday, July 18, 2016

Go B A Master: Pokemon Go

While my computer recovers from open heart surgery and the world is abuzz about Sci-Fi and Fantasy news, I am trying to get back into blogging on a regular basis. Judging by the emails I get, I know people are waiting for me, so I want to thank you and get back on with it.

It just so happens that in the world of Pokémon, there are two major topics being discussed right now. I want to give them both their due, without confusing anybody looking for one and not the other. I will be posting articles about Pokémon Go here on Fantasy & SciFi Lovin', and I will be posting articles about Pokémon Sun and Moon over on Insomniatic. Virtually all of these articles will be of editorial rather than news nature.

Let's kick off the discussion of what everybody on the internet these days is expected to have an opinion on: Pokémon Go. This mobile game may be the future of gaming; alternately, it may be a flash fad, nearly forgotten by this time next year and 2016's equivalent to the Half-Blood Prince and Y2K frenzies.

On the side of the future of gaming: Pokémon Go continues the Pokémon tradition of innovation in portable gaming. In the late 1990s, it was one of the first major exclusive Game Boy games (excluding games that were part of a series which shared mechanics with their console versions). It was by far the most successful advocate of the link cable, and probably the reason why most people who owned one did so.

With each successive generation, the multiplayer capabilities would be expanded, to the point where the current generation is widely considered to be an MMO for non-MMO players. Players of Pokémon X, Y, Omega Ruby, and Alpha Sapphire can trade, battle, exchange power ups and secret bases, and more with any player on the planet with access to a Wi-Fi connection.

Let's move on to Pokémon Go. To start with, it's a mobile game - it is accessed via Google Play and the App Store, not a Nintendo handheld system. Unlike most mobile games associated with Pokémon, however, it has all of the staples of a Pokémon game (catching Pokémon, leveling them up, battling) albeit in a simplified form. The end result is that it is accessible to more people than ever, without being so simplified that it loses its appeal.

My writing partner while working on this article.
The next step is its functionality with the real world. Again, this is rather simple, but it is more than most games are able to pull off. Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire already experimented with the idea of taking photos with your Pokémon, but Pokémon Go allows you to do this any time, and with a device capable of sharing it to Facebook. The combination of photo opportunities is as endless as there are locations with a mobile signal, which almost guarantees going viral.

This all appears to be just the beginning of this technology - it is an experiment that has attained massive popularity. Mobile technology - both hardware and software - is improving by leaps and bounds every year. The fact that Pokémon Go falls short of high fan expectations for Augmented Reality (such as using individually placed Pokémon rather than reinterpreting camera input) comes more from the time it would take to program a more extensive game than hardware limitations. As long as innovation is profitable, there is no reason not to expect it to continue.

On the side of Go being a fad...I should mention Ingress. Ingress is the game Niantic was known for prior to Pokémon Go.  By all accounts it is a more complicated, original AR game with the same concept...and almost no publicity. Many Pokémon Go players never heard of Ingress until Pokémon Go came out, and it certainly did not make headlines, result in police warnings, or anything of that nature. It has a lot of downloads on the Play Store, but for an innovative game it didn't make a lot of waves.

Another reason to think Pokémon Go is likely to fade away is that we live in a culture of short attention spans. Outside of serious competitive battlers, the most recent main series games have largely fallen off the radar - and the non-remake Generation VI games even moreso. Pokémon Go simply doesn't have the mechanics to support a serious battling scene. Are its days numbered? It may be doomed to fall off the radar after the release of Sun and Moon - at least, without a serious update schedule for new content.
I plan to write several more of these articles, and have at least two ideas for things I definitely intend to address. I appreciate your comments and look forward to hearing what you want me to talk about!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Suicide Squad Offical Trailer #1

I think I am looking forward to this movie more than anything else this year.


Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Batman v Superman

2016 appears to be the year of warring superheroes..... Cool.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

What is Slave Leia About?


The term “Slave Leia” is frequently thrown around certain parts of the internet. Still, there are likely many people not familiar with this term. Generally speaking, “Slave Leia” refers to the character of Leia Organa during the second half of Act One of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and any depictions (including cosplay, or costume-play, of this costume). Nobody seems quite sure where the name originated (the earliest name that I can find for it is “Jabba's Prisoner”), but it has largely become a cosplay movement. It is very rare that a Science Fiction or pop culture convention with wide attendance will pass without one to two dozen attendees, male or female, donning the metal bikini for some stretch of time.

Why is this? At first glance, there is nothing remarkable about this costume. Many film, television, comic, and video game costumes have similarly revealing costumes, yet this one stands out to us. Why do people choose this costume? What reasons could they have? More well than you can imagine.

Let me start with the obvious, and the not-so-obvious attached to it. Jabba the Hutt, the notious gangster of Return of the Jedi, chose this costume for its sexuality. In many parts of the world, Leia's metal outfit is as little clothing as a woman can wear in public – particularly to avoid a PG-13 or higher rating. Cosplay – both on holidays such as Halloween and at conventions – is often seen as a time to relax those standards. A person is less likely to be judged for wearing a Slave Leia costume at Comic-Con or a sexy nurse costume on Halloween than they would be wearing similarly revealing clothing at the mall.

But there is more to that, too. Not only are you less likely to be judged for showing skin in the first place, but in many cases, it provides a safe zone around the nature of the body itself. Society can sometimes be a difficult place for those who do not match stringent and fickle expectations about what the ideal body is and about what those who don't have one are allowed to wear. Most of it is complete rubbish (Give me a break; I'm trying to keep it PG and at least I refrained from using “balderdash” or “poppycock”) but that doesn't prevent people from believing it at least some of the time.

The widespread knowledge of the Slave Leia costume provides some protection from this. It is a standard costume and a natural thing to wear, much like a speedo for the swim team or shorts for the track team. It's almost a uniform, placing the wearer in a group where being proud to represent your team replaces feelings of shame about those love handles you just can't get rid of. While this does not prevent the worst abusers from coming forward, it does allow for some measure of peace where there otherwise may be none. The costume may not place you in 1983 Carrie Fisher's skin, but it is the next best thing.

This measure of peace runs deeper than just the willingness to show more skin than you might be comfortable with otherwise. Whether as a way for a woman to assert sexual independence, a means to demonstrate pride in your body, or a way to overcome your insecurities by facing them head on, the cultural phenomenon of Slave Leia gives you an outlet. While many young girls have begun their cosyplay in the pure and virginal white dress of Leia in A New Hope, some will find the next stage of their growth once they'd rather kiss a Wookiee to be the bikini, and the fact that these represent different stages of a heroine says a lot in a society that still feels the urge to tell youg women to cover up when their bare shoulders may entice the Jabbas around them. Even if many – even most – of the male Leias at a convention wear the costume ironically, it is still a statement that they are more comfortable with their own body than I am.

There are a lot of reasons that somebody might choose to wear a Slave Leia costume, with the only compelling reason not to being that the person does not want to. Keeping up so far? Great, kid; don't get cocky. This article has addressed the aspects of Slave Leia relating to the fact that it is a popular costume from a well-known franchise, but there is more to it than that. I talk about how the Slave Leia costume tells a story that makes it one of the sexiest thing in Star Wars on my personal blog here.

An Unearthly Podcast: Day of the Daleks


In our 106th episode, the AUP crew warps into the next Doctor, as we talk about the 3rd Doctor's first run in with the Daleks!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

An Unearthly Podcast: The Evil of the Daleks



In our 105th episode, the AUP crew tackles David Whitaker's second Dalek episode and the final one in the black and white era!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

An Unearthly Podcast: The Daleks' Master Plan


In our 104th episode, the AUP crew tackles the longest undisputed Doctor Who story of all time - the 12-part "Daleks' Master Plan"!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

An Unearthly Podcast: The Chase



In our 103rd episode, The Daleks are at it again as they chase after the Doctor in a new TIme Machine.... that they got some where... *shrug* Join the Unearthly crew as we talk about "The Chase"!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

An Unearthly Podcast: The Dalek Invasion of Earth


In our 102nd, episode, the AUP crew looks at one of the most prolific episodes of the first Doctor, this is "Dalek Invasion of Earth"!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Film Review: Avengers–Age of Ultron

Avengers_-_Age_of_Utron_PosterI wanted to come up with a witty opening for this, but Avengers: Age of Ultron may have stolen all of the witty one-liners. In the universe as directed by Joss Whedon, quipping is a superpower, and there is enough raw power in Ultron to make Thor look like just one of the guys. Even the Big Bad gets in on it, which is normally not something you expect a robot bent on destroying the world to do. Unless they're cyborgs written by Russell T. Davies.

The comedy is the biggest difference between The Avengers and Age of Ultron. Where in the first movie, we got clips of Stark and Rogers – or the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers – bickering, in this movie we get the team working together and doing their best to out-quip one another. Both are fairly common in Marvel comics, so no complaints there. Less common but not by any means unheard of, is the villain joining in. Ultron's not trying to convince Cap to understand his side, or to intimidate him – he's just giving him a hard time.

Unfortunately, this robs Ultron of some of his threat. While most homicidal AIs are cold and calculating, Ultron is jokey, quick to anger and immature. He dismemebers a potential ally simply for mentioning Stark's name – then apologizes for it. In the end, the virtually indestructible, superintelligent death machine is reduced to stealing a jet and firing futilely on Avengers that are mostly bulletproof, and only manages to kill one because it's too much of a hassle to argue with Fox every time a new movie comes out.

More threat is provided by the Maximoff siblings, Wanda and Pietro. Quicksilver comes out quipping straight off the bat, taunting the Avengers for not being able to keep up with him, taken out of the fight only by Chekov's...hammer...introduced in a comedic scene earlier. Wanda is even more deadly, taking out most of the team single-handedly and sending the Hulk on a rampage, which takes both him and Iron Man – in his Hulkbuster armor – out of the fight. This is before she brings in her physical powers – a combination of telekinesis and force blasts which make her even more effective in combat against Ultron's underlings than Thor or Iron Man.

There has apparently been mixed information as to whether actress Scarlett Johansen's pregnancy limited her scenes, but Black Widow has much less of an action role in this film, instead continuing the process of self-discovery and opening up as she did in Avengers and Winter Soldier. This, coupled with the fact that psychological mastery is useless against insane robots and neural manipulators (can I just call her a Sith sorceress?) and for some reason not attempted against the impatient young man means that her role is reduced to Natasha Romanov trying to seduce Bruce Banner by being earnest, a few short motorcycle scenes, and the Widow disappearing from the plot for a while and reappearing in a cage. If there weren't cuts due to the pregnancy (as Whedon claimed during production) this is even more awkward than it already is. Even the characters were confused.

The biggest weakness of Ave of Ultron was the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A less successful series would have gone into this movie focusing on the new characters, going into the Maximoff twins, their descent to darkness and their redemption, giving the film a cohesive story rather than spending so much time with the returning characters that the man fans know as a bitter young man struggling with the legacy of his absent father and wholely devoted to defending his sister became reduced to a string of one-liners and motion blur. The first half of the film feels like Joss Whedon squeezing every joke he can with the Avengers cast into as short a time as possible before he doesn't get another chance – a series of hilarious moments that another director would have left in the “deleted scenes” directory. This tone is what ultimately makes the Romanov plot fall so flat: it is completely out of tone with anything else in the movie, and falls to ride the highs and lows of comedy and drama.

The end result is that Age of Ultron feels less like a movie and more like someone trying to fit a 20 episode season of television into two and a half hours. It's packed with brilliant moments, but these moments are leaves in the wind of a hurricane that is equally concerned with honoring its past and setting up for its future as it is with telling a story.