Friday, April 20, 2018

It's Finally Here! /// Humble Beginnings, Part 9.1

I'VE DONE IT. Hallelujah, it's finally here!

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Well, the first part, anyway. See, when I recorded my vlog, it ended up being close to an hour long. So to make it easier for you guys (and because I don't have enough time to edit the whole thing), I'm just giving you the first part today. I hope to post the other two parts over the course of this next week.

What you're seeing is my second take of the vlog. Just yesterday, I finally tried using Windows Movie Maker again to edit the videos, and lo and behold, it worked like a dream. I had tried using it for my first take, but I don't think the importing worked properly. Whatever the case, I now know how to make vlogs! So big shoutout to Andy for reminding me of WMM. Without you, dude, this vlog might not be here today.

I also wanna give a HUGE thanks to my friends, Preston and Megan, for trying their hardest to come up with a solution for making the videos work. You guys are amazing, and I appreciate all of your efforts. I'm dedicating this vlog to you!

Before you watch, there's just two more things I wanna say. First off, I recommend using headphones for listening to the video. Because of all the volume turned out, wearing headphones will just make it easier to understand me. Secondly, I used two tracks in the video, which I linked in the description. I'll do it again here as a precaution. (But don't listen to the second one before you watch. It'll just make it funnier when it shows up.)



Now that all of that stuff is out of the way, here you go. Enjoy!


What did you think of the first part? Any constructive criticism you could offer (especially about the editing) so that the next two parts could be improved? Anything you found particularly funny? Aren't I even funnier on camera? (Don't feel obligated to answer that.)

Friday, April 13, 2018

Where Do I Go from Here? /// The Journey of Digital Pulse, Part 2

When we last left my writing journey for Digital Pulse, I had sent it off to the judges. I was feeling motivated to keep writing. What started as an idea I thought cool had transformed into a subject of hate before blooming into something I actually really, really loved. I even was convinced that I'd be absolutely okay if I didn't win. It wouldn't hurt; I could just shrug it off.

The weeks ticked by. I was so busy with other things that I didn't really give much headspace for the announcement of the contest winners. But then the date drew nearer, and I found out that there was a Facebook party on March 31st, where members of the Rooglewood group could get the announcement a couple days ahead of time. Plus, they were announcing not just the winners, but a bunch of honorable mentions, finalists, and "Special Unicorns"--stories that got perfect scores from the judges even if they didn't win. My hopes lifted. Surely Digital Pulse would be in there at some point.

So I decided to join in the festivities, especially since Five Poisoned Apples is the last collection of fairy tale retellings. I even made a comment before the announcements that even if I wasn't in any category, my heart would be content. Looking back now, I wonder if I was only kidding myself.

The celebration began.

The honorable mentions came and went.

My name wasn't there.

Then the finalists were revealed.

My name wasn't there, and my heart was sinking.

The Special Unicorns were unveiled, along with specially-made book covers.

My name still wasn't there.

At that point, I knew: who won didn't make a lick of difference to me. Because I knew I had lost. My story, which I considered the best thing I'd ever penned in all of my writing days, was nowhere to be found. I'd begun that evening joking around and feeling good; I finished it by joking around to keep up the fa├žade that everything was fine. Inwardly, I felt crushed.

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The feeling didn't last long. After all, I had feedback coming! I hoped the judge would have a lot of good things to say about it. I had put my heart and soul into it, going so far as to weaving in a personal theme that brought me to tears. I'd been chatting with a friend of mine about it, and I told him that it takes time and maturity to enjoy constructive criticism. Hindsight seems to point out I lacked both.

On Tuesday, April 3rd, as I left work, I noticed I'd gotten my feedback. I drove home eager to open the email and see what the judge had to say about Digital Pulse. Well, because they were doing "proper" feedback forms this time around, they scored you on several categories. Your story could get a maximum score of 60 points.

I got a whopping 38 out of 60.

And while she did mention some good stuff about my opening, pacing, and originality, she seemed to gloss over that. Instead, she hammered down hard on the other aspects: plot, climactic sequence, characterization, dialogue, world-building/setting, writing style, command of the language, use of Snow White themes, and likability. On a scale of 1 to 5, most categories got 3; characterization and dialogue both got a 2.

You wouldn't believe how devastated I was. My self-esteem as a writer took a massive blow. I felt crippled, paralyzed, frozen in grief. I had anticipated this? If I had wanted to tear apart my own story, I could've paid myself to do that!

As I descended deeper into a vortex of blazing emotions, I didn't know what to do. One of my initial reactions was to delay my Monthly HapPENings post by a week and post this instead. Good thing I hadn't, otherwise you would've all been subjected to something much more raw.

I was told things were going to be okay, I was still a good writer, this didn't define me, and so forth. But those words fell on deaf ears. I didn't know how I could see the good in this situation. Perhaps that sounds a little overdramatic, but it's what I honestly felt.

The next day, I decided to take a risk and make a brief post about it on the Facebook group. I hate to say things like that, because it looks like I'm trying to garner pity. But when one of my top two love languages is words, and I just got my story seemingly ripped to shreds through words, I just need to . . . I dunno. Be encouraged, I suppose.

The response was better than I expected. I got a lot of support from the others. It felt good to know I wasn't the only person who got a lower score. But the comment that encouraged me the most was this one:


Considering that the only time I'd really spoken to Deb was on her blog a number of years back to encourage her, I found it interesting that she came at my time of need to return the favor. This comment, along with the others, helped me begin to move past my grief and heal. Can I say that I don't still hurt when I look at that feedback form? No, of course. It's going to take a while. The writer in me is still recovering.

I've also asked myself where I go from here. I had originally planned on novelizing Darkened Slumber as my next big project, but now . . . now I'm conflicted. What I do know is that it'll be a while before Digital Pulse and I see each other again. It's not like I'm back to hating the story. We just need . . . some space, I guess.

So what was the point in all this, in me sharing my less-than-amazing conclusion to the Rooglewood contests? As I did with A Flaw Most Fatal, there's a lesson to be shared from my troubles. I mean, isn't that our responsibility? I think one way God turns bad situations and occurrences in our life into something good and beautiful is by having us share what we've learned from it with others, to help them improve.

What I gleaned from this emotional, turbulent finale is that my timing isn't God's timing. As the perfect Father, He knows what's best. Let's pretend that you're playing piano, and you aim to make it big. Finally, you get your opportunity. This could be your moment!

But your dad knows you could do even better, or that there will be more favorable chances in the future. So he suggests you get a private instructor to give you some constructive criticism. You agree, confident that you'll nail it.

After you've finished playing, you get the feedback--and you're devastated. You thought you were so good at your gift, but the instructor thinks you need more time to practice. You run to your dad, tears flowing. It hurts. It hurts to seemingly be told that what you put so much time and effort was all for naught. He comforts you and encourages you. And once you're ready to hear it, he tells you that he believes you can do even better. There will be greater opportunities in the future. You trust him, so what do you do? You don't give up, and you continue to practice.

I realized that me getting no recognition in the contest is not a matter of me being lousy at writing or God saying no. Quite the opposite, I think. God wants me to see just how good I could do, then say, "You can do better! I believe in you; I know you can. I gave you those gifts and talents." It's Him saying, "Yes, but not now. Your time will come. And when it does, you'll go farther than you ever thought possible."

And so I believe my Father's words, and I grasp that hope, for it is all I have.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Oh, the Nostalgia! /// Music Monday #21

Another Monday, another music . . . piece. Song. Thing. It was supposed to be a parody of, "Another day, another dollar," okay? Cut me some slack!


Now, I know I've posted a lot of video game music this year so far, and I wasn't planning to today. Then I listened to a certain song while I was doing dishes, and it brought back so many good memories that I have to share it with you.

"The Grand Finale" from Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story
Composed by Yoko Shimomura


If you've never heard of the Mario & Luigi franchise, you're missing out. They are humorous (and sometimes darker) RPGs featuring the bros facing off against out-of-this-world threats--and in one game, that is literally what happens.

Bowser's Inside Story was my first forage into these games. At first, because of the title, I assumed this game would give Bowser's backstory, but I don't think that's something we'll ever get. Rather, it's about Mario and Co. being sucked inside Bowser's body. This gives you a chance to play as the Koopa King himself in this title. I could go on and on, not just about this game, but the entire series. Instead, I will focus on the song itself.

You've reached the end, and it's time for Bowser to face the foe without and the bros to face the foe within. You might expect some powerfully epic song, but what we get is something else. Something a bit . . . grander. There is an urgency to it, as the Mushroom Kingdom lingers on the brink of destruction. You are the only hope of preventing overwhelming evil from enshrouding the entire land. But wait . . . is there another emotion tucked away in this song? Could it be . . .

Sorrow?

I hadn't even realized this until someone asked why it sounded emotional in the video's comments. One person's answer caught my attention. To paraphrase (while doing my best to avoid spoilers, though this game has been out for nine years now), Bowser has lost everything in this game, thanks to the dastardly schemes of the conniving Fawful. And while the King of Awesome may not have revealed his backstory, he has shown more of his character, something virtually none of the Mario games go into. Part of that is his unwillingness to be walked over, especially by his measly Beanish foe.

And so he goes forth to reclaim that which has been taken from him, and also save the whole kingdom. After all, if someone's gonna rule, it'd better be him, right? So perhaps "sorrow" isn't the right word for it. Maybe it's . . .

Determination.

Oh wait, wrong game.

Anyway, like I said, I could blabber about these games a lot. I'll spare you today, but maybe I'll post more about the series in the future . . .? (Man, my list of posts that I wanna make is absolutely massive.) But I hope you enjoyed the music. It definitely sets the mood for the final curtain; I should know, since the first time I tackled the last battle, it took me about an hour. Or at least, it felt like an hour. I didn't die, though, so that's a plus!

Thanks for tuning in! Have you played any of the Mario & Luigi installments? If you have, what're your thoughts? If you haven't . . . I'm questioning all of your life choices right now.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Monthly HapPENings: March

Welp. It seems like we're a fourth of the way through the year already . . . WHAT THE ACTUAL BRICK?! Since when did time fly by so fast? Well, since I became an adult, but still. I guess it's time to sum up another month.


As far as the majority of my life was concerned, it was business as usual. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just work and stuff. (I know, descriptive, right?)

However, it was the calm before the storm. And by that, I mean that I anticipated the 31st, because that's when the Rooglewood Facebook party was. At the party, they announced the winners, the finalists, the honorable mentions, and the "Special Unicorns." Tracey and I decided to make accounts so we could participate in the festivities of the final contest. And it was fun! But it was also . . . hard. More on that stuff in next Friday's post. You guys love foreshadowing, don'tcha?

I also thought a lot about the spring break day camp my college class and I pulled last year. It was good to revisit those memories. I actually missed it. Even though I was sick that entire week, it was definitely one of my biggest highlights from my college year.

Bookish HapPENings

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This was the only book I read this month, and I wish it wasn't--because it's definitely a fixer-upper. The premise got me interested--a man finding himself in a body not his own--and while the beginning was enjoyable, the rest of the book was a downward spiral. From poor speaker tags, to a villain who was epic when he was evil and not so much he was good, to a whole backstory given through dialogue when it would've been far more interesting in a flashback sequence, the story only kept me because I wanted to see how it ended. Now, recent . . . circumstances make me feel very hypocritical saying all this (again, more details next Friday). But I wish it had been better. I'm still holding onto hope that the next two books will be far superior, because all four other Robin Parrish novels I've read have been phenomenal. This is his first work, so that might explain some things.

HapPENings on the Screen

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Oh mah word. This move was so entertaining, filled with both action and hilarity. Definitely the best Thor movie yet, and one of the best Marvel movies thus far. The character of Thor is just ten times better now. I loved seeing new characters, such as Hela, Valkyrie, and Korg, and the return of others, like Loki, Hulk, and (briefly) Doctor Strange. Plus, the score was absolutely phenomenal, combining all the epic tones of a superhero film with groovy synth music. All in all, I want Taika Waititi to direct more Marvel installments with his amazing New Zealand humor. (I don't know how he so expertly honored the previous Thor movies while completely making fun of them. He's a genius.)

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An entirely different movie from Ragnarok, Black Panther was very enjoyable, albeit in a different way. It didn't focus so much on fight/chase scenes, so I suppose one could describe it as a quieter superhero film. I enjoyed getting to know the titular character better while meeting more people from Wakanda. T'Challa's sister (I'm blanking on her name at the moment) was one of the best new additions to the MCU. Also, I loved Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman and their roles! It was like Gollum and Bilbo meeting in another life. (Too bad Benedict Cumberbatch couldn't have joined in.) And the villain, Killmonger, was very different from Marvel's other ne'er-do-wells.

My only complaint had nothing to do with the movie, but rather some of the audience in the theater. There was a gaggle of ditzy tween girls who kept whispering to each other--fairly loudly at times--throughout THE ENTIRE MOVIE. I shot them a few glares, which didn't seem to do much. What I really wanted to do was ask them why they thought a movie theater was an appropriate place to have conversations, because they were being disrespectful to everyone around them. I would've enjoyed the experience just a little more if they hadn't been present.

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I've only seen one (or was it two?) episodes of Once's fourth season, and so far, I don't really have much good to say about it. The only Frozen character I like at this point is Kristoff; the others all seem to be trying far too hard to live up to the animated version. And the trolls--don't get me started on how bad the trolls are animated. At least Marshmallow looked fairly good, considering all the other poor CGI in the show. Actually, Marshmallow and Pan's Shadow are the two best animated characters.


I'm continuing to watch this with my parents, Chloe, and Kaitlyn. (My sisters and I already finished watching it ourselves.) It's always fun to rewatch a season and see how they led up to the conclusion. You notice a lot more foreshadowing that slipped past you the first time around.

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I've started watching season 5 with my youngest two sisters, and while we haven't gotten terribly far, I'm enjoying the creepier vibe this season has. Morro is definitely one of my favorite Ninjago villains (and I can also do a pretty good impression of his voice). It's also funny how, in one of the episodes, the writers made fun of seasons past when the Ninja turned to a certain teammate to lead them when he clearly was never the best choice. I respect writers who can cleverly poke fun at themselves.

Gaming HapPENings


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I don't know about you, but the Animal Crossing franchise has some of the most relaxing games to play--and New Leaf - Welcome amiibo is the best installment I've played. In March, I nearly clocked in 15 hours for this game. It's so easy to start playing, lose track, and end up spending an hour of your life on it.

One of the things I love most about it is that your first character (at least, I think you can make more characters like in the other games) is the mayor of your town. So you have to do things like fundraise town projects, make sure you're listening to your citizen's comments, getting signatures for various things, etc.

Just recently, I went on vacation to a nearby island, which was tons of fun by myself, but would've been even more fun if I had friends to join me. *cough cough if you play this game we should be friends cough cough* You get to buy souvenirs, play fun minigames, all sorts of stuff! It's definitely a cool addition to the AC formula.

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A friend of mine and I played this game together the other day. Talk about a hilarious experience! Simple controls make it easy for anyone to join the fight, which, by the way, doesn't require strategy. Brawls are filled with more mayhem than you could shake a stick at. (BA-DUM CHING!) It would've been even funnier if we'd been voice chatting while playing.

If you want a fun, bloodless fighting game with explosions and weapons galore, this is the one for you. But trust me when I say it's the most when you're playing with friends. I've done a few rounds with random people online, and it's just not quite the same. Play with people you know, and much laughter will (probably) ensue.

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Twilight Princess and I have never been on the best terms. Lakebed Temple only made matters that much worse. But the last temple I did--Arbiter's Grounds in Gerudo Desert--was a step-up from Lakebed. While the first room held me back for several minutes, thanks to the games poor jumping mechanic, the rest of the temple was pretty interesting. Chloe, Kaitlyn, and I were laughing the whole way through with our amazing commentary. I enjoyed using the new tool I was given, the Spinner. Thankfully, this game was originally released before fidget spinners were a thing. My only complaint is that I've heard it isn't fully utilized in the rest of the game--as if it was designed for just this one temple.

Also, actually getting into the temple was an adventure all on its own. I had to run across the desert (and Link's not a fast runner in this game!), which had some very odd sheer cuts into the turf. Then when I finally got outside the grounds, I had to fight off a bunch of Bokoblins that don't really look Bokoblins in any sense of the word. Some I had to shoot with my bow, and apparently I've been too privileged with Breath of the Wild, because in this game, you can't walk ANYWHERE while aiming the bow.

Then I had to ride a boar to smash barriers, which was a little crazy. Link can barely hold on for dear life when that beast is going full-tilt. I fought a mini-boss I'd fought before (whom I thought dead), and I let him go at the end when I could've easily killed him. Guess who's probably going to come back for a third fight? As thanks, he decided to burn the area I was in with graphically-horrible flames. Good thing the fire stopped spreading after it lit the walls around me, huh?

Writerly HapPENings

Again, I didn't really do much writing except for a few sessions with one of my friends for our co-authored story. I'm a bit embarrassed about that, to be honest. Because it's time to assess my writing goals, and I know that none of them have been accomplished yet. Thankfully, I can do better this next quarter of the year.

At the same time, my writer side has taken a blow to his self-esteem. I'm trying to work through it, but it hasn't been easy. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I'm going to hold off on talking about it until my next post, which probably won't be easy for me to pen. I have to try, though, if I want to begin to heal.

How was your March? Do anything fun or exciting? Did you participate in the Rooglewood Facebook party, or even submit a story for the Five Poisoned Apples contest? Watch any good movies, read any good books, or play any good games? Do share whatever you'd like about your month!

Friday, March 30, 2018

No Post Today

Hey, guys. So, as the title indicates, there isn't going to be any post today. I had originally intended to post the vlog edition of March's Humble Beginnings, but I have encountered many, many issues this week in trying to get it work. It was everything from the videos originally not importing to them being the wrong format to no video conversion program working.

And now Friday is upon us, and my mind is blank. I'm tired and--to be completely honest here--frustrated. I hope you'll be fine with getting two Humble Beginnings posts next month, and with having no real post this week.

Also, if any of you have posted vlogs before, please give me any and all hints, tips, and tricks. If you need further details, just ask in the comments, and I'll do my best to respond quickly.

Enjoy your Good Friday and Easter weekend!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Undertale Fan Music /// Music Monday 20

Who's ready for some sick beats?!


Because today, the song is actually a fan-made Undertale rap called . . .

"To the Bone"
Composed by J.T. Music
WARNING: THIS VIDEO CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS. (I say that because it reveals a couple of things closer to the end, but because no dialogue is shown, it doesn't really spoil all that much.)


That's right! J.T. Music, formerly known as J.T. Machinima (you may remember when I showcased their "Hanzo vs Genji" rap last year), created this epic rap for a game that's even more epic. Actually, this song is their second most popular video on their channel, with 40.5 million views as of right now. They posted this video several months after its original upload, because they made a new music video using SFM--Source Filmmaker.

This is actually one of my favorite raps that they've done. I loved it when I first heard it, but I love it even more now due to me catching more of the references and easter eggs they snuck into the lyrics. My only complaint is that they refer to the human as a "him," whereas I think the main character is clearly a "she." (I know some Undertale fans would get really triggered by that statement, but I don't care.)

It always amazes me that it's one dude doing the singing. He's got some serious vocal prowess, which is evident the more you listen to their stuff. I'll definitely be showing more of their songs in the future, in case you're wondering, but--as I mentioned last time--I can't condone all of their songs due to some swearing and whatnot.

BUT ANYWAY. I feel like, when you're making a song for a game as popular as Undertale, there's more pressure from the fans. And I've listened to covers/remixes/lyrical songs for the game that were "meh" in the end. But there are some really well-made ones, and I think this is one of them. Plus, Sans is laying on the puns, which is always a bonus in my books.

I'm curious as to how this SFM program works, because I've read stuff about things like "character models." So when you see, say, Papyrus in another SFM video, he'll look identical (or similar to) the one here. Whatever the case, the fact that a fan took the time to animate this for them is pretty sweet. Even if Sans doesn't open his mouth when he's saying. *waves hand dismissively* Details.

Anyway, I feel like I'm rambling at this point, so I'll stop. What'd you think of the rap? If you've played Undertale before--or have seen it being played--did you catch all the references? What're your thoughts on the music video itself? Would you like more raps by these guys in the future? Do you want me to quit asking questions now?

Friday, March 23, 2018

Quotes, Quotes, Quotes!

An idea I had for a blog post/series way before I even began The Steadfast Post was one of various quotes. I would just share random quotes that I like--whether they were from books, movies/TV shows, video games, or even YouTube videos--and stick a bunch of them in one post. So that's what I'm doing today!

(Because I had no other idea, so please bear with me.)

I'm not sure how long this post will be. I guess it all depends on how many quotes I can remember or find. Let's begin!


Tigger: "Sssay, where's the propeller on this thing?"
Rabbit: "Tigger, trains don't have propellers! Though it does seem to be missing its rudder."
-"The Good, the Bad, and the Tigger" episode of The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh


Undyne: "Woah!! A fancy restaurant!?"
Papyrus: "Pshhhhhht. Who needs that! Your friends are great chefs!"
Undyne: "Well, maybe our cooking abilities aren't exactly perfect. Nah!!! They totally are!!! Eat up, punk!!"
(You hear spaghetti thwap against the receiver.)
-a phone call with Undyne and Papyrus in Undertale


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Gideon: "Oh, what a glorious day!!!!! I can swim on my car!!!!!!!!!"
-from my friend's LEGO Message Boards story Purple Alligator Island


*Brickgirl sits on throne*
Brickgirl: "Where are those pesky guards? They're always gone, running off somewhere and not tending to their duty!"
*four guards rush in*
Batmanfan: "Sorry we're late, Your Highness."
Mtown: "The traffic was terrible . . ."
WarioMan: ". . . the drive-through was slow . . ."
Koren: ". . . and the coffee tasted like mud!"
*Brickgirl facepalms*
Batmanfan: "Your Majesty! You'll bruise yourself if you keep that up."
Brickgirl: "And you'll be imprisoned if you don't stay quiet!"
Mtown, WarioMan, and Koren: "Oh oh oh, she's going to lock you up, and then--"
Brickgirl: "What're you doing?!"
Koren: "Being a quartet, of course."
Batmanfan: "Um, then I should've joined in."
WarioMan: "You can if you want."
Mtown: "Always room for another."
Brickgirl: "No singing! Just find my advisor, and do it NOW!"
-from my LMBs story Brickman's Businesses: A Sitcom


Steve: "I could do this all day."
-Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain America: Civil War


All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes, a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
-The Fellowship of the Ring


Roz: "I'm watching you, Wazowski. Always watching. Always."
-Monsters, Inc.


Fawful: "Hah! Now taste the finale, when carelessness opens the door to a comeback not expected by you! Your lives that I spit on are now but a caricature of a cartoon drawn by a kid who is stupid!"
-Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga

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Dan: "They're going to lose their souls? But they're cups!"
-from DanTDM's first Cuphead video


Barbossa: "Why, thank ye, Jack."
Jack: "You're welcome."
Barbossa: "Not you. We named the monkey Jack."
-Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl


Garmadon: "I swore I'd never return to this place."
Jay: "You know, you should never swear. It's a sign of weak verbal skills."
-"The Invitation" episode of Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu


Sammy: "Sheep, sheep, sheep, it's time for sleep. Rest your head. It's time for bed. In the morning, you may wake. Or in the morning, you'll be dead."
-Chapter 2 of Bendy and the Ink Machine


Mark: "Little piggy, no no, little piggy, go home!"
-from many of Markiplier's Outlast videos


Brent: "First of all, do you know what shipping means?"
Kirby: "Um, it's when you put a parcel in the mail, and it travels abroad."
-from Brent Miller's interview video with Kirby Morrow


Indy: "Hidden in the caverns deep . . . lies the jewel's . . . ma-marvelous keep."
Mutt: "Keep. Marvelous. Heh heh . . . Strange words that are put together."
-from a LEGO Indiana Jones video I made


Patrick: "So you see, God is like a shamrock."
Crowd: "Oh great shamrock, you are powerful and--"
Patrick: "No no no no no. This is simply a metaphor."
Crowd: "Oh great metaphor--"
-VeggieTales' St. Patrick's Day video


Robot 1: "Hey, watch it, butterfingers! These fuel cannisters can explode."
Robot 2: "Sorry, it's my first day on the job."
*laser beams start firing on the mining station*
Robot 2: *strangely calm* "Oh no, what's that?" *points at the giant fire now blazing*
-"Ordeal of Fire" episode from the LEGO Hero Factory show


"One day, I swear that I will make you proud
And someday, I know that I will
I will live this down.
One day, I swear that all my fears will drown
And someday, I know that I will
I will make you proud."
-from "One Day" by MDK


"Yes, I know that I'm the only person that can change me
Maybe that's why I ain't changing."
-from "Face It" by NF


"The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why."
-Mark Twain


"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
-from "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost

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"If at first you don't succeed,
Try, try, try again."
-proverb by William Edward Hickson


"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me."
-"First they came . . ." by Martin Niemoller


Mac: "Hey, you're eating by the fire! That's disgusting!"
Jake: "Well, so did you."
*awkward pause*
Mac: ". . . What?"
Jake: "I said, so did you!"
-from a LEGO Pharaoh's Quest video I made with Kaitlyn


Gideon: "Oh dear, oh dear, what have we here.
Looks like Sergeant Brickman is in trouble,
Stuck under rubble?
The zookeepers must go and help!
I can just hear Zapty yelp!
But I, the mighty unemployed minifig,
Will stay right here chewing on a twig.
Dear oh dear,
I'll stay right here.
I'll let those zookeepers run off like a mouse,
While I stay safe and sound . . . in my house!"
Me: "Oh my. That was a lot of unnecessary poetry."
-conversation between me and my friend on the LMBs


Alice: "This is impossible."
Mad Hatter: "Only if you believe it is."
-Alice in Wonderland


"A writer is a world trapped in a person."
-Victor Hugo


Lloyd: "On a scale of one to ten, how bad is it?"
Garmadon: "Oh, I'd say it's about a seven . . . point . . . arm ripped off."
-The LEGO Ninjago Movie


Ghirahim: "Still . . . it hardly seems fair, being of my position, to take all of my anger out of you. Which is why I promise not to upfront murder you . . . No, I'll just beat you within an inch of your life!"
-The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword


Korg: "I'm made of rocks. You don't need to be afraid unless you're made of scissors."
-Thor: Ragnarok


Jack: "SPEEEED IS KEEEEY!"
-from many of Jacksepticeye's Happy Wheels videos

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Dez: *answering the phone groggily* "Hello?" *realizes he's holding his starfish* *totally chipper* "Why'd I put my starfish next to my starfish phone?" *answers the phone and immediately reverts to being groggy again* "Hello?"
-an episode of Austin and Ally


Frank: "Chase, my horse is stuck in reverse! Plus, it's missing its head and has a really weird-looking butt!"
Chase: "That's because you're sitting on it backwards, Frank."
Frank: "OOOOOH, that explains why it didn't like that apple I tried to feed it."
-LEGO City Undercover


Hook: "I'm just a humble blacksmith."
-"The Crocodile" from Once Upon a Time


Barry: "How do we keep messing things up when all we want to do is help?"
Harry: "I dunno. But you did once tell me that you have to trust that in the long run, the decisions you make are the right ones."
Barry: "Yep."
Harry: "I was always too good at forgiving myself, Allen. And you were never good enough."
-"Magenta" from The Flash


(It's a dirty sock with a series of notes on it.)
Papyrus: "Sans! Please pick up your sock!"
Sans: "ok."
Papyrus: "Don't put it back down! Move it!"
Sans: "ok."
Papyrus: "You moved it two inches! Move it to your room!"
Sans: "ok."
Papyrus: "And don't bring it back!"
Sans: "ok."
Papyrus: "It's still here!"
Sans: "didn't you just say not to bring it back to my room?"
Papyrus: "Forget it!"
-a note conversation between Papyrus and Sans in Undertale


Broque: "Monsieur! You 'ave zee odor of a gentleman! Ah, oui! It wafts! And a gentleman 'elps zee needy! Surely you 'ave zis credo, oui?"
Bowser: "BAH HA HA! Whatever you're smelling isn't me, pal! I don't do charity! I'm too busy for this!" *turns to leave*
Broque: "STOP, I AM BEGGING YOU! Good Monsieur Turtle Bits! You who I am not smelling!"
-Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story


"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
-Edmund Burke


And that's the end of it! What'd you think of it? Would you like to see this become a series, albeit a drawn-out one? Which quote was your favorite, or did you have several? Got any good/humorous/inspiring quotes to share with the rest of us?

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Power of Mental Sight

I'd been reading through my NLT Bible when I graduated college last year. Because one of my grad gifts was the Bible in the Voice translation, I decided to restart my reading. After all, using one translation all the time can make what you're reading become too familiar.

Anyway, a while back, I read the story of Abraham's and Lot's herders, and there was something that caught my eye. Here, you can read it for yourself. But first, here's the context. Abraham (called Abram at the time), decides to be the bigger man and lets his nephew, Lot, choose to either go east or west. Wherever Lot heads, Abraham will travel in the opposite direction.

Lot sees the grassy, fertile Jordan Valley of the east, and selfishly takes that land; ironically, it only brings him more trouble. Abraham takes the west, which is Canaan. There isn't any direct description of Canaan, but because it mentions how lustrous Jordan Valley is, I can only assume that the west wasn't as nice as the east.

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After Lot leaves, God speaks to Abraham, and this is what He says:

"Look around you now, as far as you can see to the north, south, east, and west. All of the land you see is for you and your descendants to possess forever. I will make your descendants as many as there are specks of dust on the earth.  If anyone could count the dust of the earth, then he could also count how many descendants I'm talking about! Go on now, and walk the entire expanse of the land, for you need to see what I'm giving you!" (Genesis 13: 14-17)

The phrase that caught my attention was, ". . . you need to see what I'm giving you!" I think this is something really important for us to remember. We need to see what God has given us before we get it.

"But," you might be saying, "what about walking by faith and not by sight? Or blessed are those who believe without seeing?" I'm not talking about physically seeing; I'm talking about mentally seeing.

Let me explain. Even if Abraham is supposedly content with whichever land he got, he's still human. Maybe he was a little jealous; perhaps he knew God would provide. Whatever the case, God tells him in this moment that he's not just going to get the western land. He's going to receive all the land.

Imagine if God told you this. Your head would probably be spinning, because you can't possibly envision what you're being promised. So God tells Abraham to go take a walk and see the whole land. Why did He tell him to do this? Abraham had to get a picture in his head so he could believe what he had been promised.

God used the same principle when He had Abraham look at the stars. The number of descendants Abraham was going to have was mind-blowing, and he needed a mental picture. So God gave him the examples of dust and stars, things we can see but cannot count. Now Abraham had an image in his mind of his many, many descendants, something that he could move toward in faith, even though Sarah was far past the childbirth age.

You see, we move toward we focus on. If you're driving and wipe out on a slippery road, and you look at a telephone pole, chances are you'll hit it. Why? You focused on it, so your mind subconsciously directed you to aim for it. Our minds are powerful things. That's why we need to get the right picture in our heads.

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Are you sick? Jobless? Depressed? Lonely? What is it that you're facing? What have you been focusing on? What has God promised for you in your situation? I encourage you to look through His Word and find all of the good things He says are yours. Then take a walk through your mind. Find your expanse of land, and see all that there is in it. For what you believe and see inwardly will manifest outwardly.

Thanks for reading! I apologize for the short post (I lacked the proper time to work on it). What're your thoughts? Should I make "serious" posts, if you will, more often? If I need to clarify anything, just ask, and I shall explain as best I can!

Monday, March 12, 2018

I Have a Confession . . . /// Music Monday #19

Okay, we'll just skip the cringey intro and dive right on in, because this going to be a slightly longer Music Monday post.


For the past several months or so, when I've been asked what my favorite soundtrack is, I respond with, "I actually have three: Mad Max: Fury Road, Ori and the Blind Forest, and Undertale." Well, I have a confession to make.

I actually now have an all-time favorite soundtrack.

I never thought it would happen. I've always had the mentality of "parents don't have a favorite child, so I don't have a favorite soundtrack." But I've been wrong before. And that soundtrack is . . .

Undertale.

There are many reasons why I would deem this my favorite, but I don't want to entirely bog down this post, so I'll cover a few of the main ones. Reason #1: the music is what got me hooked on the game in the first place.

Actually, I have Christine, a great online friend of mine, to thank for inadvertently introducing me to that phenomenon known as Undertale. She gave me the link to an online radio station, called RPGamers Radio, that, as the name suggests, only plays video game music. Plus, there's no advertising on it, only a reminder every now and then of which radio station you're listening to. (And how funny is it that when I go to the site to get the link, it's playing an Undertale track?)

Anyway, so I'm on the site one day, and a song starts playing. I perk up. This sounds really cool, I thought to myself. I wonder what it is. Lo and behold, it was the infamous track . . .

"Megalovania" from Undertale
Composed by Toby Fox


This song got me hooked on everything about the game, starting with its mind-blowing score, which is a mixture of retro-sounding tunes with modern instrumentation. All of it is done digitally, save for the song "Undertale" and the piano in "Last Goodbye." (Do not venture into the comments section of any track from this game if you wish to keep it spoiler-free.)

So here's where reason #2 comes in: Toby Fox himself composed all of the music in the game. Now that's some serious talent, I tell ya. And he only needed to rework a handful of the songs. Most of them he nailed in the first try, which takes his awesomeness to a "whole 'nutha level," as a friend of mine would say.

Reason #3: Toby is a master of the musical technique known as the leitmotif. For those of you who don't know, a leitmotif is a recurring musical theme associated with a person, idea, or situation. The Undertale soundtrack is littered with these. In fact, this game's official score has 101 songs on it; only 12 of those have no theme whatsoever. "Megalovania" is one of them, a song that plays in the Genocide route's final encounter with an extremely powerful character. (The top comment in this video I chose had a really solid theory about why that is, but I won't say because potential spoilers.) Almost of these theme-less tracks are either really short, really atmospheric, or both. I found this out through a video by Game Score Fanfare, but again, potential spoilers.

Not only do the tracks have various themes in them, but for some, if you speed them up or down, you find other themes contained in them as well. Can we 100% catalogue all the leitmotif in the soundtrack? Who knows, maybe one day.

There's something about leitmotifs tying the album--no, the entire game--together that makes it so spectacular. And recurring themes actually have made me enjoy certain tracks more. For example, I initially didn't care for the opening song, "Once Upon a Time." But after I kept listening to the music, and I found out that it's a primary theme that pops up in about 16 different songs, I began enjoying it more and more. It's like the biggest of several hearts pumping life into Undertale's story.

Reason #4 is that I can listen to the soundtrack over and over and over without getting tired of it. Most soundtracks I can only play several times before I need a change in my musical scene. If you forced me to only listen to the Undertale soundtrack for, say, a month, that would not be punishment for me.

My fifth reason is a bit different, and it has to do with the fandom again . . . but in a different way. You see, I've heard many, many remixes and covers of the Undertale music, along with original lyrical compositions. But I've found that the more I listen to these tributes, if you will, the more I appreciate the original. Don't get me wrong, I've heard a lot of good variations of the tracks, but the in-game score will always be the best.

I think it's time to finish this post now. I apologize if it's all over the place (it didn't end up as long as I thought it would), but I shall sum up: the Undertale soundtrack is my absolute favorite for several reasons. Some of the biggest are because the music led me to its source and caused me to fall in love with it; it was the work of one man; the use of leitmotifs is mind-blowing; I can continually listen to it; and the covers/remixes make my love for the original grow stronger.

If you have never listened to this album before, you're doing yourself a huge disfavor. It sparked a love in me I never knew I was missing. Maybe it'll do the same for you too.

What did you think of the track "Megalovania"? What're your thoughts on both the game and the soundtrack after hearing it? Would you listen to more by yourself, or do you need more proof from me that this soundtrack is incredible? (I will happily post more Undertale songs in the future!)

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Undertale /// A Video Game Review

Let's talk about Undertale, shall we?

Now, I've been wanting to discuss this game on my blog for a long, long time, but I had just never gotten around to it. Since I recently beat it for the first time, I figured now was as good a time as any.

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Overview

So what's the premise of the game? Humans and monsters used to live peacefully, until war broke out between the two races. After many battles, the humans won and decided to seal the monsters in the Underground by having their magicians create a barrier to keep them in.

Years later, your character--a human child (no gender is given, but I've always considered them to be a girl)--falls through a hole in a mountain and ends up in the Underground. There, you encounter a wide variety of monsters, ranging from a talking flower and a goat mom to skeleton brothers and a fish knight. (Sounds crazy, I know.) Your goal is to exit the Underground and return home . . . but what you do along the way is up to you . . .

This is where the really interesting stuff comes in. You see, Undertale is an indie RPG (role-playing game, for all you non-gamers out there) developed almost entirely by one man, Toby Fox. His tagline for the game is, "The friendly RPG where no one has to die!" If you've ever played RPGs before, you know that when you fight enemies, you can either choose to do battle or run away. Not so in this one. You have other options at your disposal; if you choose to do so, you don't have to kill a single monster.

The combat system is also different from your typical RPG. It's bullet hell combat, which means you evade enemy attacks, as shown in the gif below:

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Because you have the ability to spare enemies, that opens the door to multiple endings. There are three routes, which are basically different ways you can play the game: Neutral, Pacifist, and Genocide. Neutral is where you kill some enemies and leave others alive, which is what I did for my first playthrough of the game. Obviously, you spare everyone in Pacifist and kill everyone in Genocide.

When Undertale was released in September of 2015, it blew up all over the internet. On Steam, the game has overwhelmingly positive reviews, and it's easy to see. With graphics that hearken back to old-school games, clever dialogue, unique fights, phenomenal music, and dynamic characters, this game has been loved by many. But what's my opinion on it? Well, that's what I'm here to give, and I think it's ideal that I wasn't caught up in the initial hype. I will try my hardest to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible.

Negatives

Now, I think I want to tackle the negative things first, because I just want to get all that out of the way. I'll start with the fanbase. If you hear the name Undertale and you cringe, you've most likely encountered the bad side of the fandom. Not everyone is like that, to be sure, but sometimes it's the noxious people who are the loudest. From simply being toxic to going so far as to make pornographic fanart (I hear Tumblr is especially bad), these people can be off-putting. But you should not judge a piece of art by its audience.

For example, let's pretend I saw a book that has a really interesting premise. However, I knew people who read this very novel, and I found that their obsession with it to be very weird. So I decide not to read it. That's not fair to the author! I'm basing my opinion off of other people, rather than the source material itself. You can only take someone's opinion as that: their opinion. It's up to you to decide your thoughts on the book. You shouldn't choose to think of a book negatively because of negative people.

So while I'm talking about this, I may as well insert a disclaimer: what I talk about in this review is, of course, my opinion. I'm basing my review of off my personal experience with the game, so you can take it or leave it. We may have differing opinions, and that's okay. It's just life.

Now, back to the minuses of Undertale. There is a bit of swearing, but not all that much. It's a few typical misuses of God, h-ll, and d--n. There's also some talk of becoming a "god," or "godlike," so if that makes you uncomfortable, just a heads-up.

But there's an issue that's, uh . . . a lot more sensitive in this day and age. There are two homosexual couples in the game, one gay and one lesbian. If you spare two Royal Guards (both males who say "like" and "bro" a lot), they confess their feelings and go get ice cream together. That's it. The other couple, however, is a little more prominent, as it involves two main characters. Only in the Pacifist route is it featured more. The worst that happens is that they're about to kiss, but are interrupted; later, one kisses the other on the cheek.

This might already turn some of you away from ever playing Undertale, and I can respect that. Truth be told, I didn't even know about those two relationships until after I was gifted the game (thanks to a generous coworker of mine) on Steam. But with my knowledge that I have now, would I still buy the game? To that, I give a hearty "yes." (You'll see why when I list the pluses.) But here's my take on it: as much as I believe those relationships aren't healthy and that they're not what God desires, the game is still an amazing experience. The same-sex couples are not the point of the game; it's not to push that agenda in your face. It's about a fun, emotional experience that subverts your expectations of RPGs.

Why did Toby include homosexual relationships? I don't know. Would some say that the game is supposed to challenge your thinking, and adding those couples is part of that? Maybe. Would others claim that it's an attempt to normalize these relationships? Possibly. We live in a world where we have to face these issues, and we shouldn't be scared of that. We can still love on people while not supporting their lifestyle--although that's another topic entirely.

In the end, for me, it boils down to the fact that the couples are not the main focus of Undertale. Believe me, if they were, you probably wouldn't have this review, because I probably wouldn't have played the game. And again, if it makes you uninterested in the game entirely, I understand. Just wait until you've read this whole post, okay?

Lastly, there is a robot by the name of Mettaton who has an alternate form that would some might think looks feminine. I, personally, think it looks cool; after all, he's just a TV celebrity who wants to be glamorous.

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Positives

Ah, where to begin . . .? Let's start with the fandom. Yes, I listed it under the negatives, but I was thinking of the weird ones. There are "normal" fans too, who draw really good fanart of the game. In fact, I have a whole board for Undertale on my Pinterest account for art I find that I love. (Be warned: some pics might be spoilery.) I shall share just a few of my favorites throughout the rest of this post.

Another positive is the cast of characters. As I said before, they're a dynamic crew. Here's a collage I found of the main characters:


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How Toby was able to inject so much life and love into these rather simply designed characters is beyond me. In fact, that's one of Undertale's tricks: plain design, lots of heart. I fell in love with each and every one of these characters. I mean, even the regular enemies are all unique with their own interesting ways to be bested in combat.

Toby said that he wanted every monster to be an individual. He made a comment that in RPGs like the Final Fantasy series, all the enemies are the same and that there's "no meaning to that." His work paid off in crafting a world brimming with creative monsters who have their own personalities. Yes, you'll sometimes encounter the same kind of enemy more than once, but even so! A lot of effort went into making a solid cast.

Although I love all of the characters, my three favorites are Papyrus, Undyne, and Mettaton. (You already saw a pic of Mettaton; Undyne is the fish and Papyrus is the skeleton on the far right of the above collage.) Papyrus is so quirky and lovable (yes, I know I keep using the word "love"). You can't help but like him even as he attempts to capture you and stump you with puzzles. He might not the be the brightest candle on the cake, but he's definitely one of the friendliest! . . . If candles could be friendly, that is.

Undyne initially comes off as a tough-as-nails, kick-butt warrior in her menacing armor, armed with an endless supply of energy spears. But she's fiercely loyal to her friends and has a huge heart. You might be rolling your eyes and saying, "Oh yeah, haven't heard that one before." Trust me, you haven't met a female character quite like her.

There's a lot more to Mettaton than meets the eye, in more ways than one. At the end of the day, his dream has always been to be glamorous. I'd talk more about him, but he comes around closer to the end of the game, so I don't want to spoil anything. Suffice it to say he has secrets . . . and one of the best boss themes in the game.

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Speaking of the music . . . on second thought, I'll blabber about that on the next Music Monday.

And the dialogue! It's always so perfect. There are a lot of memorable quotes throughout the game. (Also, I'm currently playing through the game again with Kaitlyn watching, and I've been reading the dialogue out loud using different voices. It adds another level of enjoyment, almost as if Toby intended the lines to be spoken.) One of my favorite quotes is when you tell Papyrus that you'll be his friend, and he responds with, "Really!? You want to be friends, with me??? Well then . . . I guess . . . I guess I can make an allowance for you! Wowie! We haven't even had our first date, and I've already managed to hit the friend zone!!!"

While we're on the topic, the humor in this game is always on-point. I don't know how to properly describe it, but it's made me crack up so many times. And yes, there are puns in this game, which I quite appreciate. I think the humor caters to a bunch of different tastes. One example of this is Toriel in the beginning of the game. You see, her name is a play on words. It comes from "tutorial." Toby disliked the character of Fi, whom he believed to give the answers to puzzles too early (careful, dude; don't go hating on my favorite Zelda fairy). So he had Toriel just do the initial puzzles for you and make the solutions super obvious.

Some more of his wit shows up in characters like Sans, who speaks in the Comic Sans font, and Papyrus, who speaks in the Papyrus font. There's even a character who you may never see, W.D. Gaster, who speaks in Wing Ding.

This is a good segue into what's called the "fun code." Basically, whenever you play through the game, it randomly picks a number between 1 and 100. Depending on what number you'll get, you will receive different phone calls or see some rare characters, which adds to the playability factor.

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And THAT moves nicely into the topic of the story. Because the game has different routes, and the Neutral route has several different flavors, if you will, the replay value is significantly higher. The plot itself is so creative, but I'm not going to get into it very much because of spoilers. If you're looking to play this game, don't look up ANYTHING else about the game. Seriously, it's too good to be spoiled. By the time I finished my first playthrough, I had pretty much the entire game and all the routes spoiled for me. I still thoroughly enjoyed the experience, but there's something to be said about a spoiler-free experience. It just can't be beat. (If you have any questions, rather than looking them up, ask me so I can give you safe answers.)

Another positive is the fandom. Yes, I listed it under the negatives, but I was thinking of the weird ones. There are "normal" fans too, who draw really good fanart of the game. In fact, I have a whole board for Undertale on my Pinterest account for art I find that I love. I shall share just a few of my favorites here:

When I think of Undertale, there's a few different words that come to mind: "consequences," "remember," and "determination." I'll expand on each one of those words.

We all know that in life, actions have consequences. In many video games, because of linear storylines, things that happen will always happen. That's just how they're programmed. This game takes a different approach. If you save that one character, he may help you out later on. If you kill another, others might not be too happy with you. And should you choose to come with the mindset of playing like it's a normal RPG . . . well, let's just say . . .

You're gonna have a bad time.

To talk about this further, I wanted to share something with you that happened to me while playing the game. MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD! You may recall I had this picture in my Monthly HapPENings post for January:


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So I was playing a Neutral route, and I had decided I was going to get into the mindset of a scared kid who's in an unfamiliar land filled with monsters. I'd figured I would probably kill Undyne, because she was legitimately trying to decimate me. However, before I got to the fight, I left Undertale for a while. When I came back, I knew a lot more about the characters and whatnot. However, I decided I would still go with my decision to beat Undyne.

We arrived at our battlefield, and she mentioned I had killed a lot of monsters--including a teen comedian who'd fallen in with the wrong crowd (Snowdrake, in case you're wondering). I wasn't expecting this, and began to start feeling bad.

Then we fought. The conclusion to that battle, and the music playing, made it all so emotional, as Undyne's attacks got weaker and weaker. What got to me was when she "smiled as if nothing was wrong."

I killed her and progressed into the next area, the Hotlands. I received a call from Papyrus telling me that he thought I'd be great friends with Undyne. No music played. The Hotlands welcome sign was deactivated. Sans didn't appear at his station. I knew I'd messed up, and as soon as I got to the next checkpoint, I saved and quit. I never thought it would happen, but a game made me feel very guilty about killing one of the characters. That's true brilliance right there.

MINOR SPOILERS OVER!

This is where the game might get a little creepy, because it remembers your previous runs. On my second time playing, characters are acting as if I look familiar--like I'm an old friend--when they technically shouldn't. And trust me when I say that, once you've done a Genocide route, your game will never quite be the same. Simply resetting or deleting files won't fix it. I've found a video of a more complicated way to get a fresh start . . . but that kinda ruins the game's messages: there are, and always will be, consequences to your actions.

This game's self-awareness goes beyond recognizing you after you've reset your file; it breaks the fourth wall. Again, not going to get into the details because spoilers. Trust me when I say it's very cool and spine-chilling.

Honestly, Toby was a genius to code Undertale to remember and be self-aware. I feel like not a whole lot of games out there take advantage of this, which added to this game's success. Off the top of my head, I can only think of one other game that does this. The funny coincidence is that they're both indie games. An interesting thought to chew on.

Lastly, before I wrap this all up, I want to touch on the subject of determination.

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Determination is a word you'll hear a lot in Undertale. Actually, it's become one of my favorite words since I've played the game/watched YouTubers play the game. Simply put, determination is defined as "firmness of purpose." Many art forms, from books to movies, focus on things like courage and bravery, or strength and power. But what are all these things without determination?

For example, let's say a soldier is in a war to save his country. He's a very courageous soul, fighting for his loved ones and his people. But if he is not determined, he will not last. He must believe in his cause so much that he will push through the pain and heartache to achieve his goal. Nothing will stand in the way of a determined individual.

So I love that Undertale makes use of a word--a theme--that many games don't focus on. It's very thought-provoking, and I think that aptly sums up the whole game. It's a thought-provoking experience, which, in my mind, is what all art should provide after entertainment. But this post is getting long; perhaps I'll do a full post on determination another day.

Conclusion

Undertale began its journey as a Kickstarter project with a goal of $5k. It ended up raking in over $51k, meaning it made more than 1,000% of the original goal. It was released on Steam in 2015 and received glowing reviews, doing so well that it was ported onto the PS4 and the PS Vita, along with being made physically, in 2017. Just a few days ago, it was announced that the Nintendo Switch will be getting a port of Undertale. The game has been called a cult classic and has won or been nominated for about 40 different awards, according to this list on Wikipedia.

It's received phenomenal acclaim, but in the end, does it deserve it? My answer to that question is . . .

YES.

Honestly, Undertale is one of the best video games I have ever played, and I don't say that lightly. I've laughed, I've cried, I've pondered it . . . I've enjoyed it. Immensely.

Does it have problems? Of course it does. I don't want to minimize the issues, but at the same time, no game, or book, or movie, is perfect. There will never be such a thing. But to me, this comes pretty close.

At the end of the day, I walk away feeling satisfied, that I've spent my time well. I've hung out with some of the best characters you'll ever meet, listening to fantastic music, and contemplated a lot of different things. I've had . . .

A good time.

Good job, Toby Fox.

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After reading my review, what's your opinion on Undertale? Would you ever play it? Why or why not? Do you agree or disagree with my take on it? I'd be happy to discuss things with you in the comments; if you wish to chat about spoilery things, be sure to be considerate of those who haven't played. Also, would you enjoy more Undertale posts, like writing lessons from the game, examinations of some of the best moments, etc.?

Friday, March 02, 2018

Monthly HapPENings: February

Welp. It seems one-sixth of the year is over already. How is this possible?! Time slows for no man, I suppose.


To be honest, not much out of the ordinary happened this month. I chilled at home and worked. Not much else. I did, however, have some interesting experiences at work. I'm employed at a store that has a grocery section, where I'm stationed in the meat/dairy/frozen food section. The other day, I had come out of the back room to stock the shelves. The girl I was working with had just pulled some food off the top of one of the freezers, because someone had just tossed it up there. I noticed some more and decided to help her. One of the items, however, was a loaf of bread that had green and white mold on the bottom. It was really gross to look at.

Another day, there was one area of my department that just reeked. I couldn't figure out why. It smelled like someone was perpetually passing gas in that certain spot. I also wondered if a very irresponsible mother had tossed a full diaper somewhere to molder. But nope, I later discovered a bag of salmon left atop one of the coolers. The bag had been slit open, and the fish had been out long enough to start rotting. You wouldn't believe just how nasty it smelled.

Aside from that and a few interesting customers, there's not much to say about my everyday life in February.

Bookish HapPENings

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Yes, I only read one book this last month . . . but one is better than none! I enjoyed reading The Scorch Trials and was blazing through it at the end. The plot was vastly different than the movie's--I will admit, though, I liked the movie version better. The structure and plot of the book just felt kinda haphazard to me. Metal balls that eat people's faces? Creatures with lightbulb-things that have to be popped so they can die (which sounds like something from a video game)? Even the club scene had more purpose in the movie than it did in the book. (I mean, it kinda had a point, but there would've been better ways to go about it.) I also expected there to be more scenes with Cranks. That's not to say I didn't like the book; it's just that some things felt very random.

HapPENings on the Screen



I have just one episode left in S3 of Once, and things are definitely not looking good for the characters. The second-last episode felt like it had more of a Flash type of plot, which I'm very much enjoying. And a certain annoying character is gone, so YAY! I'm very curious as to how the season will wrap up.


I finished S3 . . . and OH. MAH. WORD. THE ENDING! I just sat on the couch for a minute or two as the credits and all those warnings no one reads rolled by. I really can't say anything without spoiling stuff, but the ending was very different from that of the previous two seasons. AND NOW I HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL SEPTEMBER BEFORE S4 COMES OUT ON DVD! (That's why I'm going to rewatch all three seasons while I wait.)

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My youngest two sisters and I just finished rewatching S4 of Ninjago. It had a really great ending, one that was emotional (the show got rid of one of my favorite characters), satisfying, and suspenseful. Which is actually a pretty great combo! I'm looking forward to starting the next season, as I've only watched it twice.

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I went to the theater to watch The Death Cure with my sisters, and it blew me away! This was definitely the best installment of the series. I loved absolutely everything about it. It was very intense, and also very emotional--I cried a few times watching it. It's also interesting to note that the music in this movie was excellent. Usually when I watch movies, I'll only notice the music here and there. But when I saw this film, I was paying attention to the music the whole time. It's a fantastic score, one that I'll probably be purchasing in the future. If you haven't seen these movies yet, do so. They're worth your while.

Gaming HapPENings

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I just can't get enough of Breath of the Wild. It's such a fun game to play, unlike any other fantasy game I've played! I've been progressing the story, having recovered all the lost memories and such. The last one I got was in Hyrule Castle, depicted in the above picture. Man, is it both really freaky and really cool at the same time! As soon as I got the memory, I was out of there as fast as I could go.

I've also discovered all the Divine Beast locations, though I'm not sure how hard it's going to be to take them down. Trust me, they look pretty menacing. I've been to all the Sheikah Towers, so I've got my full map now. Things are just coming along nicely.

I bought both DLC packs, so I've been hunting down the rare outfits. You don't know how happy it makes me to be able to obtain Phantom armor from the Spirit Tracks game. I'm looking forward to unlocking the Master Cycle, because who doesn't want to drive a motorcycle in a Zelda game?

All in all, I'm having a blast playing this game. I feel like I've done so much and yet so little at the same time. Kaitlyn, Chloe, and I have had lots of laughs playing this game together, which makes the experience even better.

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This is another game I'll probably do a review on. One of the coolest things about it is that it breaks the fourth wall. The first time it did this was when I accessed a computer in the game, which had a message on it. At first, I thought it was talking to Niko, the main character. Then it said that my goal was to guide Niko through the world, and I knew it was actually addressing me, the player. At the end, it said, "And remember . . ." Then a pop-up message appeared that read, "You only have one shot, Josiah."

I hadn't given the game my name. (I'm assuming it got it from me purchasing the game off Steam.)

It's been a very interesting experience thus far. While there have been a few puzzles I couldn't figure out, I want to refer to a walkthrough as little as possible, because, as I understand, my choices have an impact in the game's ending. I'm curious as to how the story will turn out.

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If you've ever wanted a more kid-friendly (and possibly simpler) Sims game, Tomodachi Life is the game for you. It's amazing how much time I can spend on it just doing little tasks for my islanders. It's quite the entertaining game, and part of that comes from how your characters interact with you and others.

Some highlights from the month: my look-a-like, Joe, got married to Hilda, the princess of Lorule. And what a happy wedding that was! Toon Link, Toon Zelda, and Hilda performed "Ballad of the Goddess" together, while Joe and Joe.exe (the evil, ugly version of me) sang a song of excessive puns. Papyrus became Chara's sweetheart, which actually works pretty well. (I suppose he'll be encouraging her to do better . . .) The Neighbor from Hello Neighbor moved in, and has been very lonely so far, though that's no surprise. Mettaton also joined my motley crew, though his personality wasn't quite right. (It still works pretty well.) That's just a glimpse of what's been happening on Paradise Island!

Writerly HapPENings

I didn't write anything last month, which isn't good. Not if I want to complete my writing goals, that is. I had hoped to finish A Totally Epic Pirate Story in January, but that hasn't happened. I also thought that my goal had been to finish The Tournament of Convicts in June or July, but I had said I wanted to complete it by the end of May! So yeah. I gotta get cracking.

That was my month! How was yours? Have you read, watched, or played anything I mentioned in this post? What do you hope to accomplish in March?