Monday, January 16, 2017

No New Tracks for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Hey Poor Player)



Everyone's been down on Nintendo's Switch Presentation in one way or another, be it the pricing, the launch line-up confusion, the bumbling live translator or the news shared above (my own brief, conflicted thoughts were shared on a Nintendojo Roundtable). I suspect the influx of rumors lining up the weeks before the presentation had a hand in this: there were reports of several enhanced Wii U ports for fan-favorite titles, the bizarrely enticing Mario/Raving Rabbids crossover, and, of course, the ever-eternal localization of Mother 3. While undoubtedly more will be revealed this E3, I imagine most--including myself--got caught up in the hype and expected a bigger blowout than what we received.

Don't get me wrong: I think there's many valid complaints over went down this past Friday, but I can't help but blame myself for being disappointed in this regard. It's not like what was shown wasn't very cool, be it the unexpected surprise of Xenoblade 2 and the mouth-watering give-it-to-me-now goodness of Super Mario Odyssey. In the case of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe not having new tracks, I imagine that a) Nintendo didn't want spend too much resources on improving an older title and b) they thought 48 tracks was enough, and, well, I can't exactly blame them. While I would've loved to have seen a Splatoon track, I'm just happy we're seeing a revamped Battle Mode (and hey, no one ever denied anything about DLC!)

At the very least, I still think more Wii U ports are happening; it only makes sense Nintendo wants certain active, big-name Wii U titles to get more exposure. (And besides, why else are the amiibo for Cloud, Corrin and Bayonetta taking so long?) Smash and Mario Maker are obvious, but I can't help but entertain the thought of a Hyrule Warriors port that combines content from both versions, and I think it's about time Pokken Tournament got some of that arcade-onlky goodness.

Really, I'm left with one important question: will Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, as well as any following Wii U ports, inherit save data from their previous versions? I'd hate to have to say goodbye to my battle data from Smash 4, for instance, so Mario Kart will be a litmus test for what's to come.

...that reminds me: I know I said I wouldn't be discussing my review schedule anymore, but to drive up excitement for the fresh new year, I'd like to share a taste of what's to come. I'm planning reviews for certain Wii U titles before their accompanying Switch releases hit stores, so you can expect me to discuss Mario Kart 8 and Splatoon right when Deluxe and Splatoon 2 hit. Any following Wii U ports will likely get the same treatment, so stay tuned for those.

Oh, and remember when I said a famous Nintendo franchise will get its Leave Luck to Heaven debut? Expect that to start very soon...word has it a big blowout's coming to celebrate a certain launch title.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Biweekly Music Wednesday! No. 45 ~Knitty Knotty Windmill Hill~ (Yoshi's Woolly World)



Origin
: Yoshi's Woolly World
Plays In: Knitty Knotty Windmill Hill/Wobbly Mobile Jaunt
Status: Original Composition
Composed By: Tomoya Tomita

It only makes sense this installment of Biweekly Music Wednesday! would feature a song by Tomita-san, right? I figured it should be a song from a series I haven't visited much.

Much of the music in Yoshi's Woolly World evokes to me an image of summer hayrides, like the ones you may've had as a child. Some songs render these rides a bit bumpier than others, but this one is certainly more gentle. I can picture it now: infants snoozing in their mothers' arms, children excitedly pointing out the sights and sounds, and parents echoing their fascination without a care in the world.

Being that they're by the same composer, it's no surprise Yoshi's Woolly World instills much of the same calm present in Kirby's Epic Yarn, yet there's undeniably more of an active feel going on in the soundtrack. That shouldn't be a surprise: Epic Yarn does not employ death or game overs, while Woolly World is more punishing as an action game thanks to Yoshi's health bar.

Not that the levels this song plays in (Knitty Knotty Windmill Hill and Wobbly Mobile Jaunt) are particularly tough--that honor goes to the game's Special Courses--but there's certainly some activity going on within. It helps that their respective set-pieces are among some of the game's best; particularly with Wobbly Mobile Jaunt's sky-bound spaceships and celestial bodies.

There's many reasons why Yoshi's Woolly World is the best Yoshi game since Yoshi's Island debuted back in 1995, and the music is probably one of the best reasons why. No longer are there homogenized scores accompanying the entire game or boring, sleepy tunes that could never dream of surpassing Koji Kondo's '95 masterpiece; it's a score that echoes the whimsicality and wonder present in each and every stage.

Knitty Knotty Windmill Hill is one of my favorites for this very reason: the likes of silky windmills and yarn rockets are nostalgic symbols in themselves, and so the song must bring that nostalgia to life. This was a quality previously stitched into the heart of Epic Yarn, and so it's no surprise Tomita-san succeeds with flying colors.

There are other songs that instill the aforementioned "hayride" quality, but I think this song is particularly representative of that theme. Is it a coincidence it's named after a structure one might spot on such ventures? Hmm.

Final Thoughts: You can definitely bet this will pop up in my interview with Tomita-san! 

Sunday, January 8, 2017

EXCLUSIVE: Upcoming Interview with a Nintendo Game Composer!!!

I've finally made it. Even now, a day after it was finalized, it's all so surreal.

Today, I am absolutely beyond thrilled to announce I will be hosting MY VERY FIRST INTERVIEW with an individual who's worked on Nintendo games! And not just any individual; it's someone who's composed music for over seven Nintendo games. That interviewee happens to be....


Mr. Tomoya Tomita!!! Over the past decade, Tomita-san wrote music for games such as Kirby's Epic Yarn, Yoshi's Woolly World, Wario Land: Shake It! and even certain StreetPass titles! (Mii Force, Battleground Z, Slot Car Rivals and Market Crashers) It will be happening this week, with translation help courtesy of my buddy Masked Man, who you may remember as chiming in for my Nintendojo localization article last year.

Mr. Tomita had recently announced on his YouTube Channel that he was going freelance from Good-Feel/Nintendo and was currently taking requests. While obviously referring to music, an idea sprang to mind:...would he agree to an e-mail interview? I spent days agonizing over what to say before finally sending it, and I woke up Saturday to him saying yes!

Needless to say, I'm just...stunned this is happening. I'm interviewing an ex-Nintendo composer! The guy who wrote the music for Kirby's Epic Yarn, one of my favorite gaming soundtracks, is going to discuss his work with ME! And he's thrilled to do so! Wow!


And here I thought Leave Luck to Heaven eventually leading me to working in game journalism was mindblowing. Like many a Nintendo fan, I've fantasized meeting and talking with countless names and faces from the company and its branches, but that it's actually happening is...it's a feeling that can't be put into words. My dream is coming true.

The best part? Readers familiar with my blog know how descriptive I can get with my articles, and Tomita-san has agreed to answer all of my many questions regarding his works. His history at Good-Feel and his three works for home consoles will take the spotlight, although I'm currently considering whether or not I'll be asking a couple questions regarding Mii Force. And just to be clear, this will be hosted on Hey Poor Player.

I'll be wrapping up my questions tomorrow, so hopefully afterwards the three of us can get started ASAP. I absolutely cannot wait for this to happen, for this to be shared, and for this to lead to many more opportunities to come! See you soon!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Super Mario Bros.


Gaming before Super Mario Bros. was not exclusive to dark backdrops accompanied by blinding neon or an absence of jumping maneuvers, but they were certainly pervasive enough to define what we call the third generation of video games. Games had only begun to invent the likes of parallax scrolling and side-scrolling movement, but to one Shigeru Miyamoto, gaming began to settle a little too comfortably into dark screens and arena-based repetition.

While Nintendo was hardly exempt from these styles of games--look no further than the famous likes of Donkey Kong and Balloon Fight -- Miyamoto refused to be outdone by imitators encroaching upon what he envisioned as his pioneering work; that is, jumping games. His answer was to develop an ultimate swan song to the Japanese Famicom--about to be superseded by the Famicom Disk System-- by combining the philosophies behind Donkey Kong and Mario Bros. (jumping), Excitebike (side-scrolling), Balloon Fight (floating in the air; or in this case, the sea) and Devil World (control of a larger character).


What's ordinary and by-the-book today was set to be revolutionary in 1985: an open, side-scrolling game bursting with color and crossed land, air and sea. Us Americans probably wouldn't know it from the cover -- whereas the original Japanese box art (seen above) was illustrated by Miyamoto himself, the American release disguised its glorious setting via yet another black-themed package (its odd composition also became something of an in-joke: ever stop to think about how Mario's about to fall in lava?)

Perhaps it was for the best; I mean, who could've expected such an explosion of color with a cover like that? Even better, it merely frames how Super Mario Bros.'s innate design resonated immediately with the world at large. The presence of player empowerment and visual feedback is the very same design philosophy that illuminated proto-open world in The Legend of Zelda, or when 1996's Super Mario 64 stunned 2D veterans with the realization that, yes, you can climb that mountain in the distance.


Over thirty years later, Super Mario Bros. remains as much of a masterpiece. We've since seen its ideas improved and expanded upon by the likes of Super Mario Bros. 3, World, and the New Super Mario Bros. series, but its innate sense of pick-up-and-play still enchants newcomers to this day. It's all about the jumping, really; whereas arcade heavy-hitters like Donkey Kong and Mario Bros. may feel clunky today, it's amazing how Super Mario Bros. runs as fluid as it did back in 1985.


Look no further than level 1-1--the famous standard for all opening levels in gaming-- to see why. It's evident from the very first question block you see that Super Mario Bros. is a game that rewards via jumping: you will hit that block, because it's gold and shiny and everything attractive. Out pops a coin; you want more, but a stray Goomba is honing in on you. Jump over that guy (or stomp it flat!) and pop another block; out comes not a coin, but a mushroom, which is meticulously designed to reach you....yet it grants not death, but growth. You can jump higher, and can take one additional hit before reverting back to Small Mario.

Unlike the army of platforming clones that would follow after its release, jumping in Mario feels sublime not because it follows preordained path or is at the mercy of wonky physics, but because it takes everything from acceleration, momentum and weight into account. Jumping after holding the dash button, for example, will send Mario flying into an soaring arc. Tapping the jump button lightly will make him hop an inch. Observant players recognize a necessary balance: you know you won't succeed without the big jump, but you shouldn't use it all the time lest you careless fall into a bottomless pit.


Because the controls feel so perfect, experimentation is inevitable. The player's habit of jumping everywhere may unearth a hidden 1-Up Mushroom. Landing on a Koopa Troopa's shell bowls over enemies. Careful precision and timing with dashing/jumping will land Mario on the flagpole goalpost's very top (and, with very careful consideration to the timer, lead to bonus fireworks!). All of are varying difficulty, but Nintendo's subtle education for what's actually essential is vital. Just look at the block formations below: the first leads leads nowhere so players learn to dash and jump over its ilk, which prepares them for its fatal twin.


This isn't even getting into the other mechanics introduced via the first level: the Warp Pipe, which leads to underground coin-filled hideaways and let you skip half the level; the Fire Flower, which again transforms Mario, but this time into a fireball-spewing visage of orange; the Starman, which renders Mario invincible and demolishes any enemy that dares touch him (not to the mention introducing the famous samba theme).

And underneath all that lies the ultimate question: how do I utilize all this? Will diving underground and skipping half the level just to nab coins really lead to the most points? Will grabbing the Starman interfere with my Koopa Shell-kickin' skills? How do I trigger the fireworks at the end of the level via flagpole? Why not ignore the Super Mushroom and play through the entire level as Small Mario for a challenge? Or, heck, why not the whole game?

Now, such freedom in play and player choice are hardly unique to Super Mario Bros. itself: the likes of open-world games, fighters, shooters, horror survival, life simulators, and strategy games all possesses their unique traits of flexibility and the like. But how many of those are accessible as just running and jumping? What renders Super Mario Bros. so special is its accessibility, and that the first level is this inviting is no coincidence: it was one of the very last made in development, constructed with all the knowledge obtained throughout development.


It's a seamless transition from discovery to play, as echoed in 1-2 (the first Underground Level), yet another captivating case of flexibility via the importance of brick-breaking. We already learned that bricks were breakable via Super Mario's jumps, but now here's a level essentially composed of bricks hiding coins, 1-Up Mushrooms, and even shortcuts leading to the Warp Zone. But moderation is key here; smashing bricks may be fun, but with the timer ticking down, you shouldn't dawdle for long.

And from there it becomes more of a subtle tutorial. Floating, interconnected platforms that respond to your weight are initially placed over towering cliffs, but eventually suspend over no landing points. Castles are armed with spinning firebars that gradually grow in size, complete with perilous mazes. Bullet Bill Cannons are visually introduced before they learn to fire off-screen, the first Hammer Bros. strategically hop up and down from floating brick blocks (could that be used to our advantage?), and yes, it's possible to knock out Lakitu from his cloud the moment he's spotted.


Note how many of the above involve enemies. What's beautiful about Super Mario Bros.'s cast of minions is how they aren't merely obstacles to be dodged, but tools for success. Koopa Troopas and their shells are a favorite secret weapon, but how about stomping on Goombas propelling us to greater heights? Could other enemies be used the same way? And who's to say Bowser's invulnerable to fireballs?

How we tackle all this is up to us. Miyamoto once described as Super Mario Bros. eventually becoming "our game": as muscle memory settles in, we opt for the best routes available for us. We
grow the courage to try new things; accordingly, the game becomes comfortable enough to throw new surprises once the shock of the first level wears off, and so it becomes an engaging learning process for the game's duration.


Easy to learn, hard to master: the creed of difficulty that defines the best of games. As it's an 80's game, it should come as no surprise that Super Mario Bros. is rather tough. The game's experimentation and discovery arises as a response to the game's difficulty, which can't be surmounted easily. There's the underwater levels with bastard Bloopers, for instance, and whereas  there is a way to rid of them and their Cheep Cheep cohorts (a certain power-up, perhaps?), that you're at the mercy of swimming physics not only restricts your movement options, but renders Mario all the more vulnerable to losing his only means of defense. Hammer Bros. and the castle mazes are also beatable nightmares, yet they, too, will likely give players a thrashing before a solid, formulated strategy is developed.

But that's okay, because Koji Kondo's music keeps us coming back for more. Perhaps the first famous songs in gaming, Kondo was conscious of the limited sound options for the Famicom/NES--only five channels!--and labored over songs that wouldn't irritate the player. Such songs would not be action-packed techno, but instead colorful songs that would encourage the player and never grow old.



And what gaming song is more immortal than the Main Theme (less commonly known as the Ground Theme)? Infectious from the very first 8-bit note, the Latin-based theme conveys an instinctive rhythm that can't be anything but an explosion of exuberant, light-hearted activity. That it never wracks on our nerves is vital: we're driven to action immediately after Game Over.

But why exactly is that? Perhaps the secret lies in how Kondo actually based the song on Mario's movement. Through the rhythm of player control, the music is the ultimate mastermind behind our enjoyment. From the moment Super Mario Bros. starts, it becomes a song that sets into your bones. 



In contrast, the Underground Theme doesn't inspire the same sense of wonder, but its short repetition and comparatively muted nature belies an instant earworm. (That, and, well, it's not as if a dreary underground is supposed to sound all that lively, anyway) While future iterations would install percussion-filled back-beats and the like, the original steady beat hollowed by silent intervals is somehow just as fun to hum along as its jolly counterparts.



Jolly as in the lovely Underwater Theme above. A wondrous waltz that, while perhaps betraying the treacherous waters which it accompanies, frame Mario's underwater movement as if echoing an actual dance. It too channels its Ground Theme counterpart in how they instill that very same player-moving rhythm.

All this grants it an all-too vital identity: that everything is fun. Obviously, this is not to say that previous arcade/video game efforts weren't such, Super Mario Bros. ups the ante by having "fun" be the theme of everything in it. Even putting the controls and gameplay aside, the colors and setting are fun to watch and absorb. The scenario of two plumbers rescuing a princess and her entourage of mushroom-capped retainers from evil turtles is as delightful as it is bizarre. The music is meticulously crafted to keep us engaged and hum along.

There's a reason why Super Mario Bros. saved the industry from the market crash: it's a game about inviting people. There's no barriers: only a prevailing sense of "I can do it, too," that can be applied any which way you want. Yes, it's challenging, but it possesses a power that makes you want to try one more time. That it would introduce the world to the denizens and world of the Mushroom Kingdom is only secondary to its revolution of bringing people back into the world of gaming.


Even now, I still feel bound to my own direction of playing it. I only grab the first Starman if I time the first Koopa Shell kick just right. The secret coins and 1-Ups in the first underground level are never missed. I never bother with the Warp Zones, choosing to instead gradually accumulate all the coins and 1-Ups coming my way. I still roar in exhilaration as I plow through my favorite level: 2-3, where Mario dashes across a series of bridges while avoiding leaping Cheep Cheeps.

I've only beaten Super Mario Bros. twice in my lifetime, but in all the countless attempts I've made to do so, I've more or less tackled it the same exact way. Perhaps it's time for a change? Even now, when I skip by it on the NES Classic Mini menu, I think to myself, "maybe I can." If only I had the time, I say, but I still hear it calling.

Like its NES counterpart The Legend of Zelda, that I can still find new ways to play more than thirty years after release is nothing less than sheer wizardry. What makes Super Mario Bros. gaming's most well-known masterpiece is not merely for what it defined, not merely because it revived the industry: it's because even after this time, we can still approach it and go, "I can do that."


Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Very Special Christmas Gift + A Glimpse into the New Year

Hello, all! Sorry for the holiday dry spell: I was working like crazy with my parents to prepare for our Seven-Fish Dinner on Christmas Eve, not to mention there were my Christmas goodies and a...certain project I'll be sharing shortly.

So what were my new gaming-related gifts? Well, Santa deemed me a very good boy this year, so I was quite lucky to obtain both a PS4 and a brand-new gaming PC. Much as the likes of Overwatch and Dragon Ball Z: Xenoverse 2 have captivated me, there was a certain barrage of surprise gifts that were the holiday highlight. See, an aunt dropped by with no less than three boxes of old games that belonged to her grown sons. There were NES games...SNES titles...N64 cartridges...AND THIS.



Wait, is that...what I think it is?!?


It is!



Yes, that is an Atari 7600. And yes, it indeed came with NO LESS THAN TWENTY DIFFERENT GAMES FOR IT.


HUMMANA HUMMANA HUMMANA HUMMANA HUMMANA HUMMANA HUMMANA HUMMANA

Just look at that collection! The Nintendo-licensed ports of Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr. andDig Dug, my favorite Namco arcade game! E.T., the movie tie-in that nearly killed the gaming industry! A number of Star Wars games to fuel my revived interest in the famous space opera! I've certainly stumbled upon a treasure trove, eh?

Now for the bad news: like my recently-acquired Famicom, I can't play it. While the system turns on fine, I lack the proper antenna box and whatnot to hook it up. But for the moment, it doesn't matter: as a collector, all of it was an incredibly generous gift by a very awesome aunt, and I'm deeply grateful. In the future, I definitely plan to scrap together some funds and get that retro goodness going!

Speaking of the future...2016 is coming to an end. As far as the blog goes, I felt it was relatively productive. While I still didn't commit to my writing as much as I would've liked, we not only finally saw an end to Ten Years of Kirby, but produced a number of non-Kirby Nintendo game reviews. I'm very proud of all the pieces involved, and I think they rank among Leave Luck to Heaven's best efforts. My 2017 New Year's Resolution is generating a harder work ethic towards my writing, and I'm already instilling the values of hard work into improving my favorite hobby.

What do I mean? Well, see for yourself!


My basement gaming lounge is being renovated! This was something I'd been planning for a long time, but we finally got into full-gear just yesterday. As you can see, the entertainment center has been stripped bare, ready to house new items (pay no mind to that collapsing shelf on the bottom left; we'll finally fix that, too). Needless to say, a lot of cleaning and heavy-lifting was--and still is--necessary; I'm actually a little shocked things got as messy as it did, so it's all gonna take a little while.

But when it's finished, I'll finally get the chance to show it all off! Believe it or not, there's actually a LOT of room to cover, and I mean that literally, so stay tuned for that!

In the meantime, have a happy New Year!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Kirby’s 25th Anniversary Concert To Hit Japan Next Year (Hey Poor Player)




aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAHHHHHH SWEET JESUS YEEEEEEEEEEEESSSS

Would you look at that: one of my predictions came true! Well, I guess the music notes gave it away, but still, a Kirby live orchestral!!! I need that songlist now!

I probably wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't come abroad, so at the very least, I'm hoping Nintendo and HAL will release a soundtrack (and seeing as how the Zelda 30th Anniversary Concert is receiving one, I'm certain that'll be the case).

Work your magic, Takemoto Taizo!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Biweekly Music Wednesday! No. 44 ~Snow Road~ (Paper Mario)


OriginPaper Mario
Plays In: Shiver Snowfield
Status: Original Composition
Composed By: Yuka Tsujiyoko

Listen. Do you hear it?  Do you hear the jingling bells down the street, echoing faintly in the night sky? Do you see the neon lights decorating your neighborhood, the snowmen lining up across the street? Do you taste the snow resting upon your tongue, smell the crisp winter air chilling your nose and cementing the warmest of winter memories?

'Tis the holiday season: be it Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, families across the globe gather around to celebrate togetherness and holiday cheer. Children dream of Santa and his infinite stash of presents as the scent of cedar trees fill living rooms everywhere. Candles and carols are ubiquitous, as are the imagery of flying reindeer and wreathes.

For over the past nineteen years, my house has been the Christmas mecca for our family. Celebrating our Italian heritage with the Seven-Fish Dinner, family and friends come together to feast upon seafood and engage in joyous festivities. Due to my sensory issues, I've never so much as touched the fish, but I do get to feast on delicious Pillsbury Shape cookies. And bread rolls. And fried dough. Mmm.

It only makes sense it'd be my house, after all. Not that our relatives don't have party-built homes, but we have the biggest house, complete with a pool table and a game-filled basement. Now that I'm grown up, I wonder if it's a bit selfish, but everyone always seems to have a good time.

I'm still a big kid, so hardly anything thrills me more than the Christmas season. I always dictate what ornaments hang on the Christmas tree. I salivate at the thought of carb-filled snacks laid out in the dining room table. I can't help but dream of a White Christmas, and always cheer the presence of snow. And yes, even at 25 years old, my parents can't help but still leave presents under the tree.

Maybe it's that quality of mine that attracts kids' attention. At family gatherings, I'm always surrounded by nephews and nieces, all practically climbing over me to come play games, come watch cartoons, come laugh with us. All are still dreaming of Santa, still enraptured by the innocence of the Christmas spirit.

What courage and dedication it must take for us grown-ups to carry on that spirit for their sake. Tensions are still high across America, and I'm certain some family gatherings won't end so happily. Things certainly won't be perfect at mine: my aunt, despite her broken ankle, is dedicated to attending our Seven-Fish Dinner and I'm certain there'll be a cousin or two gloating about the US election, but I'll be focused on ensuring the kids have a Christmas to remember.

A Christmas to remember like mine: where the scent of cedar trees instantly bring to mind of sprite comics and Nintendo GameCube and SpongeBob Squarepants. Where maybe there'll be small tiffs between friends and siblings, but it's nothing fried dough can't cure. Where new toys and gifts become irreplaceable pieces of our lifetimes.

These are dark times. But so long as the laughter of children surround us, it's a sign we'll make it out okay.

Final Thoughts: I wonder how much holiday cheer has involved Paper Mario.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Kirby to Celebrate 25th Anniversary (Hey Poor Player)



Aiieeeeeee!!!!

Is this a dream? Am I about to wake up? ANOTHER Kirby anniversary celebration? And right after I finally wrapped Ten Years of Kirby...surely, those folks at HAL must be spying on me!

With this on the table, I really do wonder what's up for Kirby in 2017. We just had Planet Robobot come out this year, but I suppose there's nothing stopping the Mass Attack/Rainbow Curse B-Team from churning out another solid title. Another compilation package in the vein of Dream Collection would probably be too much for my heart to take.

Anyone got any ideas? Thinking of writing a Nintendojo article on this...

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Biweekly Music Wednesday! No. 43 ~Puzzling Truth~ (Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance)


Origin: Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
Plays In: Map Recaps/Cutscenes
Status: Original
Composed By: Atsushi Yoshida

Three weeks ago, the world as I knew it changed forever. This is hardly anything new, but none of my personal tragedies or cynical coming-of-age developments were never on a global scale as what transpired on Election Day. On that date, every moral principle and ideological construct as I knew it had been proven to be a lie: that racism was a thing of the past. That women were to be treated with respect. That even though I didn't understand gay and transgender people, they were still human beings like me. I learned the hard way of how lies could hurt. That the world will suffer irreparable climate change until we stand up and do something. That whoever held the presidential office, whether one liked him or not, was a respected individual with a wealth of experience and wisdom.

That was all demolished that day. Racism is alive and well in America. Neo-Nazism, xenophobia, and media/government conspiracy theories will grow to be normalized, as will the KKK. Women will continue to be disenfranchised, and gay/trans rights may very well suffer. We rewarded a pathological liar with the most powerful position in the world. We will continue sticking our heads into the sand and pretend climate change is not an active threat, all the while shrugging our shoulders at the latest gun massacre and going "well, they were gonna die anyway; nothing we can do. But hey, thoughts and prayers!"

In short, we are not just well underway to roll progress back to a bigoted America, but as evidenced by the manchild demagogue that is Donald Trump, are set to becoming the laughingstock of the world.

In hindsight, I am perhaps not so surprised. The offbeat events of 2016 all but paved the way, be it the likes of reddit and Twitter doing nothing to stop the onslaught hate and harassment by those who aligned themselves under Mr. Trump's bigotry, or the media hyper-focusing on deleted emails that never once caused harm to a single human being. We clutched to our electorate polls in times of distress, no matter how much red dotted central America. But it was no use, for we underestimated the likes of voter apathy and the bigotry that had seeped into rural America.

Even more than that, though...was it really all a lie? Reading the horrors of segregated America back in high school, I couldn't help but marvel at how I wouldn't have to worry about this a mere forty years later. And yet, a tiny part of me wondered...could such violent friction between races really have healed in such short time? When the famous Trayvon Martin case reared its head alongside the countless similar tragedies since then, it was then I knew my country was heading down a dark path.

Have we made progress as a human society since then? Undoubtedly, but to think we have actually evolved as more moral human beings...how foolish of us. How foolish of me. We are, still forty years after the Civil Rights movement, a century and a half since the Emancipation Proclamation, the very same selfish human beings who are eagerly willing to step over others' ideologies and rights just to further our own selfish interests.

And what a bigger fool I was to think this once had nothing to do with me. Politics, I thought, were far too complicated for an autistic individual: what was I to make of caucuses? Filibusters? Legislation? Third-party movements? Parliament? I struggled daily with putting away laundry and making eye contact, so why bother with such vitriol when none of it made an ounce of sense? My college analysis of the Tea Party Movement, whereupon I was told it was a Conservative and Liberal movement, only proved it to me: I was above such petty quarrels.

But now I see I was wrong. Conforming to such a selfish ideology is something that would only benefit myself, and serves not a single member of humanity. Moreover, it was my own inaction that helped lead to where we were today; granted, my father never would've allowed me to not vote, but my apathy may very well have been part of what we witnessed earlier this November. It was only when Donald Trump's momentum grew to horrific levels this past year that I stood up and said, "I have to do something."

I believe, and always have, that America has never been "great." Forget the implications of how "Make America Great Again" means reverting to a time of open bigotry and whatnot; from our very beginnings, we have been hypocrites the moment "all men are created equal" was penned into the Declaration of Independence while we still had black slaves. From the Emancipation on, from the Civil Rights Movement on, from every LGBT movement on, we still as a country are dragged kicking and screaming into the acceptance of those who are different from us.

I do not love America, but I do love what America stands for. The dream of a place where anyone of any nationality can live free. The ideals of "The American Dream" and "The Land of Opportunity". Where virtue, open expression and equality are prized above all else. Where I can look at a broken individual in the eye regardless of their skin color and say, "you are welcome here. You are loved."

And now, the country I live in is in its darkest hour. Hundreds of hate crimes are committed in the name of our presidential-elect, who is too busy attacking the 1st Amendment on his Twitter to actively dismiss such atrocities. There are not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, but SEVEN anti-LGBT members of Trump's cabinet, not the least of which is Mike "Gay people should be tortured and I'm going to roll back Obama's pro-gay policies" Pence (not to mention the presence of Steve Bannon's general fuckery). Climate change denial will be the main policy of the administration, despite not only the overwhelming evidence involved and having everything to lose should you be wrong, but is utterly baffling and self-destructive in the face of absolutely zero repercussions not to care for our planet. (But hey, gotta get rid of that "politically correct" climate change, otherwise known as quite possibly the dumbest shit to ever leave someone's mouth).

All this time, I thought a Trump loss would not only prove the exploitation of racism/biogtry and the presence of a lying demagogue  with no political experience would have no place in a modern White House, but it would serve as a wake-up call to America. But would it really have put a stop to it all? That energized buzz of bigotry wouldn't be going anywhere, and I can hardly imagine the extreme right-wing Congress of today not exploiting that base. If this dumpster fire is what America truly needs to transform, so be it.

But I will not stand for a country built on hate and ignorance. I will not stand for a country where we have to continually choke back our tears and do nothing as gun massacres slaughter our loved ones, our children. I will not stand for a country geared towards self-destruction as the greatest crisis mankind will ever face threatens to erase our existence. I will fight for a country built on acceptance. A country where political parties who serve their homeland not on personal interests but for the interest of the people. A country where the dreams America has fought to earn for over the past two hundred years can finally, finally come true.

I will never build my life on hate. I will fight for a better tomorrow. I hope you will join me.

Final Thoughts: This is the first time I've ever gone political on Leave Luck to Heaven, so I felt Fire Emblem would serve as a proper musical accompaniment. Do you think it worked? It'll definitely be a rare occasion, so savor it while you can.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Nintendo Classic Mini Review (Hey Poor Player)




My first review for Hey Poor Player! This rerelease is such a gem, I had to rave about it somewhere, so why not pen a media review? I'm really, really hoping this is the state of Nintendo emulation going forward.

I'm not too certain if we'll have a Nintendo Classic Mini review on here, but rest assured I'll definitely be using it as a springboard for other retro reviews. For starters, I'm already discovering the gospel of Bubble Bobble and how it possibly rivals Kirby's Adventure as the NES's best feel-good game. Okay, maybe that's sacrilege, but it's that dang good.