Poké Rank: Companion Characters

Hope everything has been going well for everyone! I’ve been working hard on a big video project I have in mind with the small amount of free time I have when I’m not working or playing softball. Today I thought I would entertain a list I have been wanting to do forever. Shows based on video games are so few and far between anymore, which is really sad. I am an absolute junkie for the Pokemon anime, and I have been watching it tons and tons since it was released in the US. One of the biggest aspects in the Pokemon anime has always been the focus on companion characters accompanying Ash on his multi-regional journey to bring everyone’s attention to the fact that he is training to be a Pokemon master and that he is, indeed, from Pallet Town. Some are memorable, some are flat out awful. I wanted to provide a personal list (for once) of which members were either the best or just impacted me the most through the years of watching the show.

Note: I only included the one’s that were considered long term companions, so characters like Bianca and Korrina don’t apply unfortunately.

11. Cilan

Cilan always came off to me as a guest character that had some funny joke about him that was charming for a few episodes and he went off his own way after Ash and Co. reached the next gym. Call it the circumstance requiring another companion, but when Cilan declared he would join in on the journey in Unova. I was remarkably disappointed. There wasn’t enough to the character to develop him in any particular way. Iris grew throughout the Unova exploration in such a way it only made it more obvious how out of place Cilan was as a main character. I could tolerate him for a good thirty or so episodes, but his one dimensional design ran dry for an entire one-hundred thirty five episodes he was in. There have been worse characters in shows, but compared to the others on this list, he was at the bottom. Speaking of thirty episodes…

10. Tracey Sketchit

Tracey was a bit of a blunder by the writers, honestly. Maybe it was their idea of adding something new to the show to keep it fresh that turned awry, but this poor guy never really got a real chance to shine in the show. He never over-stayed a welcome, so it’s not fair to put him last even if he only was in thirty two episodes. It’s okay to gamble twenty on black, as long as you know when to walk away from the roulette table when you lose (compared to Cilan, whom I see more as spending the whole night on the table betting a specific number because “It’s bound to get there sooner or later, right?”). While he didn’t bring a whole lot to the show, Tracey was the trailblazer for memorable guest companions for the Advanced Generation series onward. The biggest redeeming quality, if any, is that the team learned their lesson of longevity on characters and how to make the most out of the series as a whole from what the experiment with Tracey brought. Also, his name is absolutely hilarious given the fact he’s into drawing.

9/8. Bonnie/Max

It’s difficult to differentiate between these two characters as they are essentially the same in their importance and meaning to the respective journeys they are a part of. Younger siblings of other companion characters that have traits that make them very memorable would be the most fitting way to describe them both. Max is a super intelligent young boy who takes after his father in many ways, while Bonnie is a super cheerful young girl that brings light on troublesome situations in the Kalos journey. What might give Max the (current) edge over Bonnie is the fact there is more to go off of in his particular impact of the show since his tenure is done and Bonnie is still in the new episodes. For their limitations in age, the youngsters really shine.

7. Clemont

This might sound odd since he’s in the back of the pack of listing, but if I were a trainer, I would probably be Clemont. I love electric Pokemon with a passion (Emolga after all), and because of that I have a soft spot for this guy’s team. It’s further elevated because I chose Chespin as my starter in Kalos, too. I loudly quote the catchphrase “THE FUTURE IS NOW, THANKS TO SCIENCE!” while I am talking to Rachel “The Nintendette” about Pokemon. All that being said, that’s all the more I can really say about this character. He doesn’t do anything really bad, but he kind of suffers from the same shortcomings his sister does. There hasn’t really been a big enough splash yet for him to become memorable. Maybe I can revise this some other day and he’ll be much higher than the others.

6. Iris

I like the amount of development the team put into Iris’s character. She took the snarky attitude that Misty occasionally sprinkled and just dumped it all out to eleven early on. Everything about her was polarizing from the start; she was nothing more than a wild girl who seemed to just be running away from her responsibilities. As she goes with Ash, she actually finds it in her to grow into an adult and face her demons head on. Compared to the other Poke-girls to the point she was introduced, Iris’ conflict is more inter-personal and her growth is a lot more off screen with huge moments in-between. The most evident in this is how she raises her obstinate Dragonite. I loved how well she was developed, however it fell short in the end. It was almost like there was one more event needed to complete the package.

  1. Misty

*Blowtorches steel doors shut from angry mob* Okay, okay. Let me explain. Misty tops everyone’s lists any given Monday through Sunday, but I never bought the hype. Misty was great character, yes, but she didn’t really impact me the way she did others. Maybe I just didn’t connect in the same way as the people who loved her, but to me Misty was always just the strong support character that hated living in her sister’s shadow. I could relate to her in that sense, and I would still call her more memorable than over half of the other characters on this list. I feel like people get far too nostalgic about the old series when they recount the characters. What I always hated was when I asked people why they loved Misty the most, they always just said she was the original. People are entitled to their own personal lists, but I feel like it’s not fair to the other Poke-girls that they are considered out of the running because their time they were made.

  1. May

One of the best dynamics to May was she was so open to being adventurous that she took a lot of spot light (far more than most of the others). Whether it be being the first Poke-girl to enter contests, or partaking on various battles, May didn’t settle short on one goal. Indeed her biggest goal was being a Pokemon Coordinator, but she had a lot more to her as well. Personally I related to her because when she was first introduced, she carried a lot of doubt in her own self. It always helped to see a character with traits you see in yourself at a young age because those are the ones that carry the most weight on your young developing mind. In a lot of ways, she represented the protagonist of generation 3 games so well. Her Pokemon even mirrored (or copied) Ash’s own team throughout Kanto. Torchic that grew into a Blaziken, Wurmple that grew into a Beautifly, Squirtle, Bulbasaur, and Munchlax all could draw similarities to Ash’s Charmander that grew into Charizard, Caterpie that evolved into a Butterfree, his own Bulbasaur and Squirtle, and Snorlax. It’s a bit of a stretch, but on paper it might make sense. Seeing as Johto didn’t bring in a protagonist character, it’s only reasonable to say May was a milestone for generations to come with Dawn and Serena.

3. Brock

Brock is the rock to the entire series. Okay I needed to get that out of my system. If you were to watch any random episode of Pokemon, there would be an 75% chance Brock would be in it. In a lot of ways, Brock was the voice of reason and understanding for the various characters including Ash. If someone needed an ear, Brock listened and provided insight (whenever he wasn’t falling head over heels for that episode’s given woman he was crushing on). What makes Brock unique is he didn’t just mentor Ash, but he also mentored Misty, May, Max, and Dawn all the meanwhile also. With the exception of Ash, Brock has impacted the most amount of characters in the entire series. I still hope for a meet-up later on with the X/Y crew, but I wouldn’t be mad with the team for deciding to leave that bridge old and crossed long ago. Until then, every woman will always be Brock’s future wife in our memories.

  1. Dawn

You didn’t think I would write a blog without some kind of personal story that became a bit of a trademark of mine, would you? By the time Diamond & Pearl was released in the US, I was going through a really tough stretch in my life that left me often disinterested in a lot of things. I didn’t enjoy next to anything and often just locked myself up in my room after school. I didn’t even write, play Pokemon or watch the series, which to that point those were anchors in my childhood. I had the irrational concept that depression was something no one else could understand but me and that it didn’t matter what anyone else said to try to help. One fateful day by chance I had my room’s television on and a particular few episodes of Pokemon were playing. Dawn, the newest companion to the show, had just lost a contest and was absolutely crushed. It wasn’t just the one episode cheer up resolution, either. Dawn legitimately was depressed for a stretch of the show. I found myself entirely fascinated in the heavy topic in a usually uplifting show. Ash and Brock got through to Dawn and I saw her blossom back into a self-confident figure. I aspired to rise back up just as she did and face life’s challenges. To this day, if I am going through a tough spot, I just watch those few episodes and remember the hope they brought me. As far as the actual character is concerned, Dawn takes the idea with May and really makes it work. Ash takes a back seat practically in these seasons as he helps Dawn become the deep character she actually is. Even when she shows up in the Best Wishes series, her experiences help Iris realize things as well. Maybe to some she can come off as a bit too confident and polarize others, but I see Dawn as the kind of companion I really wish stuck around for as many seasons as Brock.

  1. Serena

Almost as if every character’s development led to making this particular journey, Serena exceeds any other companion in the amount of detail is placed into her own adventure. What really spoke to me about her character in the beginning was as they went from place to place, she pieced together what she wanted out of life. She didn’t settle for one specific goal (which most companions and Ash loved to do and shout at everyone) until pretty far into the life so far of the X/Y anime. Even while she was deciding, she had a lot of introspection and consideration into the fact she had not established a set objective in her life but wanted to keep searching for it. When she fails at obtaining victory in what she decides on, Serena, in her own company, cuts her hair short to signify all of the maturity she’s gone through thus far in her journey. The entire reason I left my home on my own was to begin my own life journey and embrace the hardships to find myself and whatever goal it may be I can commit myself to. I have yet to find it, but watching a character as well written as Serena struggle and find her way in a similar matter really is a refreshing thing to see every week. Not to mention the show is still going strong and there should be plenty of time left before the conclusion of the adventure in Kalos. With any luck, Serena will continue to outshine the rest even more at that point.
Who are your favorite companion characters, whether it be from the Pokemon anime or just in general? Please share! I hope that you enjoyed reading this, and I want to say a bit out of the blue that whoever you may be reading this, remember that you’re the best there is and never give up! Thanks and have a wonderful day!


Pokémon Pinball Ruby & Sapphire is Bliss

Sorry I’ve been so inactive lately! I have been finishing up my first degree so it’s been tough to get a few minutes to myself, let alone write. I recently experimented with my new capture card I’m going to use for my videos with the newly released Virtual Console GBA title Pokémon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire. I know it’s not an article or anything, but I wanted to try to give a little content to y’all. Much love, hope all is well!
P.S. I know I’m garbage at this game >.>

Positive Play! Fire Emblem: Awakening

Games are such a joy to our world, and they grace us in huge magnitudes. For so many of them out there, the opinion a gamer has towards answering the largest question in the industry is dizzying: which one is the best? It’s such a loaded question, isn’t it? The interpretation can be taken as from a technical aspect, an artistic view, perhaps even strictly based on the themes and beliefs displayed. Any way you slice it, if you asked a million gamers what their favorite games were (and further, why) you would receive a million different responses in their own forms. Picking an individual game requires you to feel strong enough about it to place it on a pedestal higher than all others, if not only for a short time.

There’s a slippery slope with selecting favorites though. Saying things like “This game will always be my all time favorite” feels a bit ignorant, doesn’t it? In one way, you’re saying all of the games in existence now and forever will never surpass the one work. This includes ones you might not have discovered yet, from genres you might not have taken a taste to yet. For all of those reasons, it’s beautiful to see someone stick up for games like that. As a rather indecisive individual, I could never solo out one game, so I find myself laughing at all my memories with games and smiling at the gems I’ve discovered. I won’t ever get to call one game ultimate out of curiosity for the field, but that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be that level of passion written about every single game worthy of praise.

I wanted my first go at this to be a game that really moved me in such a beautiful way. It’s the kind of game that when you start to explain it to someone, you just stop and babble and smile from all the wonderful things you want to say about it. I’m a firm believer that this work changed me in ways I wasn’t expecting, at least from a creative standpoint. If I have a bad day, more times than not I go read about or pick up and play this game. Without further adieu ladies and gentlemen, I give you Fire Emblem: Awakening.

It’s interesting enough to know that my love for this game actually laid dormant for nearly an entire decade, or I suppose it would be more accurate to say that my love for the actual franchise as a whole did. Back in 2005, my mother was doing some last minute shopping for a trip to see some family and decided it would be a wonderful little surprise to treat me to a game to play for the car ride and down time on the visit. She went to our local game rental shop and recognized a title that I had mentioned to her before that I had not gotten my tiny, game hungry hands on yet. With game in tote, she triumphantly embarked back to our home to surprised me. One tiny oversight she made would help shape how I viewed video games for my entire life.

“Honey, what do you have to play for our trip?” My mother asked me, pretending not to notice my book bag being stuffed full of my entire handheld library I assembled the previous few years.
“Oh….nothing really.” I lied like the child I was at the time.

“Well, I have something you might like!” My mom smiled.
“You shouldn’t have mom, thanks so much!” I grasped the generic DVD case from the store like a hunter catching the daily meal.
Knowing how much of a spoiled youngest child I was back then, I would pay to go back and see the face I made when I opened up that case to see a game that wasn’t Pokemon FireRed edition. Oh, my mother got me Fire something alright. What she had thoughtfully got her spoiled little brat was Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones. If you have ever heard of the franchise, it would be common knowledge these games are brutally unforgiving. Like a wild mare, these would knock you straight on your rear end if you did even the slightest thing wrong. I was the cocky kind of kid who thought that because I was playing Jackie Chan Adventures that it meant I was really good at video games and I was never truly challenged on the matter, either.

You can already see where this is going, can’t you? Keep smiling, it gets better.

That evening after the long car ride and getting settled in to our relative’s place, my mother came to check on me before we went out to dinner. I can only imagine when she entered my room she saw the equivalent of the scene in 300 where Xerxes, the “invincible” king of Persia, bled from a spear thrown by Gerald Butl- I mean King Leonidas. That little Gameboy Advance cartridge was the defiant king destroying everything I knew.

My brother came into the room and took the game from me and sat down with it for about an hour without saying a word to anyone else. When we all went out to eat for dinner, I was still sulking and staring at my full plate of food sickeningly. I can never know if the game did the same thing to him, or if he really did enjoy his time with it, but what my brother told me would be forgotten until the last year or so.
“Hey, that game was awesome. It’s just a little too grown up for you right now.” He laughed at me.

I don’t have the best memory of my childhood, but I remember a fight breaking out over that and the eventual pouting from me that would ensue as a result.

As for Awakening, I had forgotten almost everything about that summer until I started up the game this previous summer (funny how the title would create just that in me). I saw it online and suddenly remembered my brother’s facetious comments. Being a much more mature individual almost a whole decade later, I was fascinated with the title. Enough backstory though, let’s get into the real important thing: what’s best about this game.

Right off the bat, you can see just how extremely well written this game is. You’re engrossed in a beautifully crafted world just overflowing with it’s own level of prestige. The narrative is just stunning; it takes the most cliché thing anyone could dream up (amnesia) and runs with it like it wasn’t even an old trope. Tension is well described between neighboring peoples, war shifts location over the period of time(s) the game covers. The more you play Awakening, the more you get out of it. It’s like a piece of art; everyone who were to interpret it from their experience would give you a different answer. The game supplements this brilliantly, as the many factors you contribute to the ever-changing world take affect and produce an end product that (more than likely) will not be the same to any two people. It isn’t just aesthetics either, as everything from developed motives in characters to endings for each and every character you come across changes based on your decisions.

Being a tactical strategy role-playing game, one would expect some crushing odds with limited options available on par with the genre. What you get instead is quite the opposite; the game let’s you make the difficulty however you want it to be depending on your strategy. Fire Emblem is so well known for the permanent kill off of fallen units, and it really weighs heavy on new players of the series when factoring whether or not to keep this feature in. Smartly, there is an option to turn this off (although series diehards weren’t exactly thrilled with this move) so that newcomers may learn the unique system and what works for them. Unit growth is incredibly flexible for everyone you take on through your journey and you can change various roles for the characters. Someone who might have been on horseback before could be casting spells from their many tomes or shooting a bow and arrow the next decision. Different maps mandate different lineups, and you can tailor a very precise plan.

Character chemistry means everything in this game; you are rewarded for building relationships with not only better statistics for characters together, but also from amazing stories told between their relationships. Personalities are ever further developed to minute details, and it makes things like permanent death absolutely heartbreaking. I spent hours doing entire maps just to restart the level because my beloved members were killed at the very last moment (here’s looking at you, Ricken). You’ll become so engrossed in the various units that it will become so challenging just to pick between a few that you like. The plot thickens when you have to decide whom to marry. Pair ups all have their benefits over time, with the ultimate deciding factor for some: children’s skills.

That’s right! Children! A very underrated aspect of this game has to be just how important it places the bonds between parent and child generations. I have written in an old blog that Lucina carried the burden of a doomed world that brutally murdered everything she knew; this is true for each and every one of the fighting children of the doomed future of Fire Emblem: Awakening. Of the thirty parent generation units, there are thirteen children that desperately fight to salvage what’s left of their world. Some of them aspire to be like their parents, while some even live in spite of them. The customization in the children trickles down all the way from the abilities and classes of the parents to their very appearance. Some might retain the hair color of their mother or father depending on whom parents them. The children will have different siblings and extended family, and this is really where he uniqueness of your own play-through differs from another’s. Take Morgan, the Avatar’s (AKA Robin as the generic name/Smash name) child for example. You can change the class of one parent to affect the child’s class, but it also leaves the possibility of overall appearance wide open as everyone’s Avatar is going to look different than the last. Morgan might have any color hair and class combination in the game. No two Morgans would ever be the same (and if they were it wouldn’t be very likely unless identical decisions were made).

A common gripe with this game is how there is over $50 USD worth of DLC content for purchase, but if you really think about how massive the game is, this should a celebratory option (it’s not like it’s HORSE ARMOR or NEW COLOR SCHEME either). Everything from a glimpse of the doomed future, challenges, or even some oh-so-lovely (albeit guilty pleasure) fan service is available. It’s a hard pitch to swallow up all of it, but I recommend it highly if you’re looking for a challenge or new content to the already amazing load of content. There’s also a blistering amount of free DLC available through the 3DS’ Spotpass feature. Challenge maps, items, and only multiplayer battles all feel pretty rudimentary to online features, but there is so much more love found here. There are six (SIX!) free characters whom are fully animated and voiced with their own stories and relationships. It seems odd that they would be free after the plethora of DLC, but who is complaining? What is truly a testament to how passionate the makers of this game is how huge of a love letter they wrote to their fans by adding the ten most iconic characters from every Fire Emblem game. After you add them all, there are one hundred and twenty characters for free added, not including the six Spotpass characters. If you were to add all of the units you could obtain without the paid DLC together, there is a grand total of one hundred and sixty nine characters you can use and battle with in this game, all for free.

When it’s all said and done, the credits role on this gripping game full of gut wrenching decisions with your beloved characters and it will leave not only a satisfaction of your story you crafted, but also a hunger to play it again for a whole new journey. This is the kind of game you played make-believe with back when you were out at recess as a kid; you had all of those characters thought up and went on an exciting adventure over and over again. This game never loses its’ charm, and it never really loses its’ appeal because of this. You can set it down after a play-through and come back a few months later and be on a whole new game with whole new challenges and things to explore and people to meet. It’s the kind of experience you have that makes you set down the game and think about your own life and about how one day your children will look to you and what you leave for them. In it’s own way it made me excited to raise (an) outstanding individual(s).

Anyways, that’s the first installment of my new passion project I’m working on with some creative input from my cousin Rachel (AKA The Nintendette). The two of us are going to combine our efforts to bring some really special gaming videos on a channel sometime soon (I want to get a capture card so I can get some source material to go with my narration). This is my nest egg for my contribution to our ideas. There are so many games I could go on for hours about giving cases for why they could be my all time favorite game and I fully intend on leaving no stone unturned with it now that I have gotten a lot off of my plate that I have had this past year or so.

I don’t say this enough, so thank you so much for reading and I hope you have an outstanding day (week, month, year etc)!

How Haruhi Saved My Life

My eyes quickly opened up as I felt knives digging into my knees again. Looking down my bed, my knees were propped up on pillows and wrapped in ice like they had been after work for the past few weeks. I had recently torn my patella tendons in both knees. The pain was so great that I constantly was becoming ill in the middle of the night and could not sustain a consistent sleep. Stairs were challenges for the first time ever, and walking was like I was out running a marathon. I stared at a blank wall for hours, feeling an emotion I couldn’t shake besides the pain. Running was everything to me; I was questioning why I even began to run in the first place. Whatever it was, it drove me to insane levels of competitiveness and allowed me to run times that even the most conditioned athletes would jaw drop at an average build individual. I was in the middle of my month hiatus from writing the blog and had just discovered some rather crushing news that my mother had cancer.

I needed something to jumpstart me. Something.

Someone followed me on my Twitter page for the blog and I did my usual followback and greeted them with a kind message thanking them. We exchanged a messages for a while when I was asked an interesting question:
“Do you watch anime?”

I laughed out loud to this. Anime was something I loved dearly most of my life until a few years ago and I started running and didn’t watch it anymore. There was one show in particular that came to mind. I was kind of ashamed I couldn’t fully remember it. Events recently in my life made the previous few years a blur. There was a lot of traumatic bullying that happened, and I equated that it was the reason for what drove me.

“I used to, but I haven’t really anymore.”
“You remind me a lot of a character from one of my favorites. The way you have a vivid imagination and a lot of heart. ” She told me.

“Really? Who?” I laughed to myself. This would be interesting.
“Haruhi Suzumiya from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.” She explained.

They say there are certain things that trigger an absolute rush of memories. I really hope I replied to that kind girl right away because what I had just heard threw me into a super deep thought. The last time I heard of that show-

“Dillon, you know you remind me a lot of a character from this newer anime. You should watch The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya sometime.”

“Brian, c’mon buddy. I looked that up already and I don’t think I’d be into that kind of show.”
“What do you mean?”
“One about school kids” I laughed.
“Okay but I really think you’d relate to the characters.”
“Alright Brian, maybe I will.”

Brian was my best friend I had met online from Taiwan. He was always thinking up games and shows for us to talk about and was so much like myself. He secretly loved soccer more than anything else and dreamed of playing for his school. I would joke with him I wanted to play basketball just like my brother did, whom was the coach for my grade at that time. He was like a legend at our school; people would ask me why I wasn’t playing like him. Truth be told I was very overweight and had a plethora of other health problems that made my body….awkward. In a very similar situation halfway across the world, Brian had such heart in him that nothing mattered to him and he would succeed. All that heart was contagious to my plight. I wanted to half heart like him and I thought I would get it by trying out for my brother’s basketball team.
Little did I know, my teammates were not as fond of me being a member of their squad as my brother was. My backpack was constantly scattered across the locker room and pages of my manga were ripped out and thrown at me in paper wads. My brother was still in the gym so he never knew about any of this, and I feel stupid for never telling him. I would be beaten to a pulp every day and I would put on a brave face and kept my dreams alive. I had a bad tendency to let my wild imagination out and when I was baited into questions like “So do you think you’re some kind of ninja or something?” replying with a definite “Yes.” I looked up to ninjas because they were so strong to me and you never saw them lose in all the anime and games. Ryu Hayabusa from Ninja Gaiden and Kakashi Hatake from Naruto always came to mind for me. I would be asked “Well try to hold us back with one of your ninja moves and we won’t do anything to you today.” and I would dumbly oblige. I was nothing more than a pet.

“How’s the soccer team going?”
“Not great Dillon….I’m not really sure I can make it.”

“Sure you can, I know you can!”
No reply.
I went to school that next day worrying about Brian. I didn’t realize I was going to have the worst day of my life. A day so bad that it took me years just to remember the repressed memories of what happened.

I forget why but we were in the locker room while my brother and the other coaches were looking for something. The boys were playing around with a new item I had never seen before. I kept doing my Algebra homework and slowly moving through my things to prevent even the slightest invite for pestering. One blonde haired boy came by and threw my folder on the ground and flipped my book over. Papers were flying everywhere and he was rubbing his shoes all over them. I hastily tried to pick them up until he eventually stomped on the paper as I was pulling. I flew back from the rip so hard I hit my head on the brick wall behind me. Everyone began laughing hysterically.

I darted up real fast and got in the boy’s face. I was tired of getting pushed around.
“What are you going to do, ninja boy?” He taunted.
The unknown object came out and it ended up being a very thick triangle of tape. Trying to get up, two boys held me down on the ground and I began to hyperventilate. Taking turns, the boys threw the tape at me repeatedly. They hit me in ways that actually have permanently damaged me as physically as mentally. After about a half an hour of it, they got bored and returned into the gym. Crying, I didn’t even tell my brother what happened and collected what was left of my belongings and walked all the way back home. It was a 3 mile walk.

Logging on to my computer, I expected to get some motivation from Brian, but my day only got worse from the message I had received.
“Dillon, I didn’t make the soccer team. It was a mistake for me to try to do right in this world. I’m going to jump from the roof of my apartment complex. Thank you for being my friend.”

There was a grey circle next to his name, indicating he was offline. I had never seen that circle go green ever again.

Absolutely defeated, I kept to myself about everything that had happened to me that day. The bullies, my best friend allegedly killing himself, everything. The following few months were terrible, too. I failed most of my studies and I didn’t play video games. My family dog passed away and Brian’s words really rattled in my head whenever the going got tough. If the most heartfelt individual I had ever met could not overcome life how could I? I needed an escape from reality and I needed my bold imagination back to actually escape. One day I looked over our messages we had and found a link he had sent me before. Clicking it, it took me to a place I could watch that anime he wanted me to watch.

I can not begin to explain how much one show did for me all that time ago and still managed to do the same for me in rather recent times.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is by no means a perfect show; it has it’s flaws that people tend to love to point out, and the titular character really tends to polarize people from watching the anime. She says what she feels and does precisely what she wants to do based off of her vivid imagination she stubbornly doesn’t want to falter. Trying to explain the show to someone without spoiling what happens is basically impossible, however the actual product is still just as powerful. Any time I tried to pitch the show to someone I was just as unsuccessful as when I was recruited into watching it. While it might not seem like there is much depth to it, it has some of the most depth I have ever experienced.

Straight from the jump, the catchy theme song (which is done by the Japanese voice actress for Haruhi, Aya Hirano) perfectly captures the spirit of the show with colors and characters every which direction. Most lyrics are rather forgettable in anime, and it’s not very hard to agree with that one. Amazing shows have manilla lyrics and they don’t really come off as a bullet point in a show. Like most translations, the lyrics change from person to person who is subbing it, but the general idea still remains the same: your dreams are what make you a strong person and that all of the world tells you to be reality (or I suppose “truth”) is nothing more than a lie that holds back your true self. Bold, isn’t it?

While I don’t really want to go into an in-depth anime review (reviews aren’t really my thing regardless of what I’m talking about), I find it supplemental to my story to explain just what the show is. I by no means am trying to get anyone to stop what they’re doing and go watch this. A young boy named Kyon starts school with a very close-minded outlook on everything that happens to him. Life is boring, and everything is the way it is supposed to be. Everything in his world changes when he meets Haruhi Suzumiya, whom is the most outspoken and out there girl in all of their school. She proclaims things like “Ordinary human beings are boring” and only wishes to find extraordinary happenings in the world. Together, the duo create a club called the SOS Brigade and Haruhi recruits people she deems to be essential for the agenda she has. As the show goes on, secrets about the few members of Haruhi’s crackpot scheme surface to Kyon, and he finds a huge enigma about the fiery Suzumiya that she is the only person who doesn’t know of it.

The most powerful part of all of the show still to me sticks out as when Haruhi saw that members of the rock club were in a pinch so she decided to try to help them on the fly without ever playing with them. As they made their way out on the stage, the student body booed and made a fuss (I always remember the girl saying “Why are you on the stage?). At this point I almost turned the video off, I was too hurt from what happened to Brian and I to continue. I’m so glad I didn’t, because what happened next was incredible, and to this day when I hear it I start to cry uncontrollably. Brian wanted me to watch this show for this one moment. The moment Haruhi followed her heart and helped people in need and didn’t care what anyone said, and did it well. It was the catalyst for the man I am today.

In a time where I was close to giving up on everything I was because the world was pushing down hard on me, this show stimulated me and gave me hope to keep being myself. I dedicated my life to helping people like my best friend and myself through their walks of life and promised I would not let something like that happen again. I didn’t ever make my basketball team, but I did play soccer and played the position Brian dreamed of playing. Whenever I ran, I pushed myself to an extreme speed and intensity that was unmatched, blasting by all of those bullies from my school. As of today, my mother beat her cancer, and while my knees haven’t really healed, through diet and therapy I have been able to walk and run again.

Most importantly, anyone who ever meets me anymore says the same thing of me: I have the most heart of all the people they have ever seen and that I am breathtakingly stubborn to achieve my dreams. All shaped by my close friend who gave me the push to become my true self and not to give up by his dearest work.

Five Quick Gem Pick Ups For 2014

It’s that time of year again ladies and gentlemen: a mad grab for any and every popular game of the year. People flock to the GOTY award races and light forums aflame with comments along the nature of “THAT GAME IS NOT GAME OF THE YEAR OMG CMON I SAW THE TRAILER FOR THIS AND IT WAS SO NOT GOOD” or “10/10 BEST GAME I HAVE EVER PLAYED”. So in a cloud of fluff and hate over any blockbuster title, it has to be tough to make heads or tails on what to play, right? I’m willing to gamble that this is probably at least the fourth article of this nature you’ve read in the last few days. Why stick to the big names? I’ll go ahead and throw five gems down the field that might fall through the cracks this year:

Pokémon Battle Trozei (3DS)

2014 was weird for me as far as technology goes; I had no access to internet until mid June, so I had to dig out a lot of old games and rely on the weekend trips to the local cafe for my web fix: chatting with the family via webcam, reading what was going on in the world, and of course following games in development. That being said, I didn’t get to check out any downloadable games nearly at all in the first half of the year. The one exception was Pokemon Battle Trozei on the Nintendo eShop. I was looking for a small sized game that I didn’t have to spend all day waiting on it downloading (I only had about five or six hours in all to spend in free time all week) so Battle Trozei was perfect with a mere 48MB of size required to download. It ended up being my perfect taste of gaming each day I could squeeze in. It was a beautifully simplistic transition of Pokemon from an RPG element to that of a puzzle game. Fast games that left you feeling rewarded and most importantly downright fun times, Battle Trozei was easily one of the most undervalued games of 2014 (and for the price, it is an absolute steal, too).

Rambo: The Video Game (PC, PS3, X360)

Just kidding.

Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions (PC, X1, PS4, PS3, X360)

I realize that this franchise might be a little too old for a younger generation, seeing as the last title in the series was in 2008, a whole six years ago. For bigger titles I could see that bridge of time being nothing for a household name like Super Smash Bros but this is a rather overlooked series from the jump, since it was spawned as a mini-game (Project Gotham Racing) after all. Certain games can take their brutality and make it fun to play, such as Dark Souls and Rouge Legacy. You want more and more punishment from them because no matter how frustrating it gets, it is still fun to play. Geometry Wars gives a more colorful, super fast paced take on this concept in the most breathtaking of fashion. If you took an old Asteroid game cabinet and fused it with some rave party, glow sticks and all. It’s a must for anyone who enjoyed the first two and is worth at least giving it a spin if you’ve never experienced the sensation that is Geometry Wars.

Out of the Park Baseball 15 (PC)

Sports games tend to fall into a messy game of Monopoly, featuring 2K Sports and EA playing tug of war with their respective sports (although deliberately Konami and SCEA secretly dominate their sports games). There are franchise modes that give a small taste of managing teams and various executive decisions in all of them, but most of the time they feel like nothing more than a manilla add on for the sake of cushioning the game mode selection. It’s great to select the numerous factors in preparation for creating the next San Antonio Spurs or Boston Red Sox, but after you make those decisions the games just show their true colors as a new way to play the same game with basic mechanics. Out of the Park Baseball 15 shoots the tired genre full of exciting ideas and well executed concepts. It’s all brain in this game; you don’t play an inning yourself or even endure the painfully long loading for a game you want to control instead of playing. Real time decisions can be made in the games themselves, but it never feels like it’s a tacked on feature. If you’re looking to avoid your run of the mill sports games, look no further.

Mountain (PC, Mac, Linux)

Mountain is a weird game. Like really weird. If you’ve ever seen the art genre in games, you’ll probably be right at home here. If I had to describe this game in one word it would be “Mountain” (no seriously). There isn’t much to the game besides the fact you are a mountain. As straightforward as that sounds, a lot actually happens; various natural events occur and life comes and goes on your ever-changing mountain. The music is intoxicating and everything feels organic as you can not save or regenerate your mountain. Life goes on. Fascinating isn’t it? Oh and it’s only $1+ (you can tip more if you want) so it is perfect to have on in the background while you’re doing some housework or reading. I’ve even kept it on display as a screensaver of sorts. Maybe it might be too boring for some, but it’s a gem nonetheless.

Costume Quest 2 (Wii U, PC, PS3, PS4, X360, X1)

Maybe one of the more higher profile names on this list, Costume Quest 2 is an addictively charming RPG that excels in going to the beat of its’ own drum. The story is awesome, and the themes are terrific as well. There’s a unique battle system full of imagination and ideas that allow a great change of pace. It honestly is so dang charming that there isn’t much else to be said about it. You might love it, you might hate it. Depends on how much imagination and charm means to you in a game compared to other aspects.

What are some of your gems of 2014? What kind of things do you think I missed? It’s been a really tough year for me, and my love for writing has really helped me out of the darkest pits experienced in my short lifetime and even graced me to meet so many outstanding individuals whom I can consider lifelong companions through the good and bad. I want to thank all of you who have read anything I wrote this year and/or gave me input and experiences. I started this blog as a hobby while I recovered from an injury but now because of such an overwhelming amount of people whom are positively affected by my works, I want to keep going stronger and stronger. This is a forum for me to feel like I’m making a difference to others and I want to keep that going even if it is as simple as a smile on another’s face or as big as helping through a low point. Let’s bring on the new year as our best year yet and together! Have a safe holiday!

Guest Blog w/ The Nintendette: “Why Gen 3 is My Favorite Generation of Pokémon”

Hello all! I have been working on a new project I can’t wait to share. In the mean time, I asked for some help from my terrific writer of a cousin, Rachel AKA The Nintendette, to give everyone a piece of Poké awesomeness! If you like her writing, be sure to check her out.

Gen 3 included remakes of Gen 1 games

Generation 3 is known as the “advanced” generation. However, it is probably more widely known as the “controversial” generation.

Generation 3 arrived in a very transitional time for the Pokémon franchise. “Pokémania” or the intense obsession and popularity of the Pokémon franchise that was brought about by the success of the first 2 generations had come to an abrupt end when the generation 3 games were released. The kids who had played the first two generations were growing up and out of Pokemon, while the new fanbase that was first introduced to the Pokémon franchise through Gen 3 was young and undefined. Also contributing to this transitional time was the fact that Game Freak (the developers of Pokémon) had decided to take the franchise in a new direction in order to give it a fresh twist.

You see, the Pokémon franchise was supposed to come to an end with the release of the Gen 2 games.  However, considering that the fanbase for the games was so strong, Game Freak decided to push on with the series because the demand was so high.

As a result, they made a lot of changes to many of the game’s mechanics, introduced a brand new region, Hoenn, on a more technologically advanced system, and created 134 new Pokémon for trainers to catch and enjoy.

Older Pokémon fans were disappointed that Hoenn held very few familiar faces

Unfortunately, many fans of the series didn’t respond well to the new changes. Firstly, the games weren’t backwards compatible (I’ll explain why this was later), meaning that players who had trained teams of Pokémon they had grown attached to couldn’t trade them over from Gens 1 and 2 into the new games. Sure, there were 134 new Pokémon to catch and train in Hoenn, but many players felt too unfamiliar with these new creatures and the new region since many of the Pokémon available in Kanto and Johto were absent from Hoenn. Not to mention that in the Gen 2 games, the player could revisit Kanto, while in the Gen 3 games, the player was stuck in Hoenn. In a nutshell, the Gen 3 games really alienated older fans of the series, while at the same time creating a brand new and innovative generation of Pokémon for new fans.

That’s where I come in.

I fell into the “young and undefined” category of Pokémon fans that existed at the time that Ruby and Sapphire were released. Sapphire was the first Pokémon game I tackled and completed on my own, and I remember playing it over and over again and never tiring of it. So, when I say that Gen 3 is my favorite generation of Pokémon, maybe it is because I’m a little biased, but looking back at Gen 3 after the newer generations have come out since then, I can confidently say that many aspects of the Gen 3 games are superior to its successors.

Firstly, so many new features were added in Gen 3 that the games that came before them had become obsolete, hence why they weren’t backwards compatible. For instance, the developers of the game re-did the individual values system (IVs), and increased each potential number of IVs for a Pokémon from 15 to 31, meaning that any Pokémon coming from Kanto or Johto wouldn’t be able to compete with the new Pokémon with 31 IVs.  They also added abilities, which forever changed the way Pokémon battle. Another new battle mechanic that was added were double battles. These double battles added a new dimension and strategy to battling Pokémon considering that two Pokémon are sent out at once. Other features such as secret bases, the Battle Frontier, and contests also gave trainers a lot to do besides beat the standard eight gyms and challenge the Elite Four. And on top of all that, the environment all this took place in was absolutely breathtaking.

Double battles added a new level of complexity to Pokémon

Hoenn is absolutely gorgeous. The GameBoy Advance is a 32-bit system, meaning that the graphics got a major upgrade from their 8-bit counterparts on the GameBoy. The environments became more diverse and alive. The water sparkled and churned, footprints were pressed into the sand, flowers blew in the wind, ash drifted down lazily from the sky, rain drizzled to the earth below, and players could see themselves mirrored in puddles on the ground. Hoenn is a region that focuses on nature, and as a result, so many different aspects of nature are represented in the game. Hoenn has everything: deserts, rainforests, beaches, vast oceans (7.8, too much water), volcanoes, mountains, caves, and underwater caverns. The player has so many options when exploring the region of Hoenn. There are two different types of bikes to choose from, and you were able to dive underwater for the first time. I love Hoenn because I get to explore so many vast landscapes all within one region. As the story progresses, the landscapes become more diverse, which really makes the player feel like they’re on an epic quest. So many locations in Hoenn are really unique as well. There’s the breathtaking Meteor Falls with its sparkling cascades of water, sleepy Dewford Town on the beach, eerie and somber Mt, Pyre, the water-borne Pacifidlog Town with its floating houses, and the decrepit abandoned ship, to name a few. There’s so much to see and explore in Hoenn, and it’s all accompanied by a compelling story.

There is much adventure to be had in Hoenn!

In my opinion, the Gen 3 games have the best story of any Pokémon game. For starters, the villain teams aren’t goofy, Slowpoke tail-eating loons anymore. Team Aqua and Team Magma are environmental extremists whose plans actually succeed. They awaken Groudon and Kyogre, and the two proceed to either drown or dry up everyone to death in order to make the world more habitable for Pokémon. I always thought it was so compelling and dark to be immersed in seemingly eternal rain after the mighty Kyogre was awakened. When I was a kid, Kyogre always seemed so maleficent to me because of its raw and ancient power. I think the emphasis the story puts on the Legendary Pokémon’s power makes the story deeper. Not to mention that the designs of these teams are really awesome. I mean, come on! Team Aqua are a bunch of pirates! It doesn’t get much cooler than that.

Where do I sign up to be a member?

I love a lot of the little story elements that Gen 3 introduced as well. For the first time, the playable character had two parents, with the usually absent father being a gym leader. Being able to battle and best your own father was always a touching moment in the game for me. For me, the icing on the cake is how great the music is.

The fantastic music makes the journey you are on feel as if it has a purpose. For the first time in the series, the music didn’t consist of simple bleeps and bloops. The GBA’s advanced sound allowed there to be sweeping melodies with multiple instruments, including the trumpets Hoenn is so famous for.

I love Gen 3 because of its controversies, the beautiful and diverse region of Hoenn, the gorgeous music, and the compelling story. But, I completely understand when people love to hate Gen 3.

Even though Gen 3 is my favorite generation, it’s not perfect. The games (at least the first two) have a few short comings including there not being animated sprites. I do have to admit that I don’t care for many of the Hoenn Pokémon like Volbeat/Illumise, and Makuhita/Hariyama among others, so I understand when people say that the Gen 3 designs are some of their least favorites. But at the same time, my top three favorite Pokémon are from Hoenn. As a whole, I feel like Gen 3 consists of a lot of give and take, so it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. But, if you happened to skip Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald when they came out, or if you didn’t care for them when you first played them, I highly recommend you go back and give the originals or their new remakes a shot. Speaking of the remakes, I will be doing a review of Alpha Sapphire here in the coming week so stay tuned!

I’ll see you all in Hoenn once more pretty soon!

Ten Days of Nintendo Day Three (and Four): Super Smash Bros Melee



Has there been a game that has left a footprint as big as this one did for its time? Taking the amazing concept of mashing together classic characters from masterpiece games and bringing it all together with even more games added to the mix, Super Smash Bros Melee is still popular to this very day to gamers worldwide. As important as the first one is, you don’t ever hear someone say “Hey, the N64 Super Smash Bros was the best!”, do you? Forums are filled with people who will say they have never played Brawl or 3DS because of the game speed being so different. I never really had a problem with this mechanic they are talking about, but it’s very obvious it is a problem to hardcore players. It even made an entire franchise in Fire Emblem popular in the USA.

Another sappy story time, sorry. Earlier I had said about how much my brother and I would play the original game, right? Well every other Christmas my brother would fly down to Florida for the holiday and would spend time there with his family living there. I never noticed because I was too young, but I had reached the age where I could know the impact of not having him there with everyone. He would take his N64, and the joy of getting up early, looking at the presents, and going back to his room to play games until our parents got up. I cried that morning without him. I cried and cried and cried. No games, no one to laugh with for those few hours that felt like an eternity.

Eventually my parents got up, and my grandparents arrived promptly. Everything was great and all, but it was all missing something. All of our presents were opened, and it was a wrap (ha ha). Suddenly, my brother called. Everyone was eager to talk to him, except for me. I remember being unreasonably upset with him. Why did he leave me on such an important day? These were thoughts of a young boy who did not have any grasp on the world or why people did things quite yet.

“I think your brother wants to tell you something.” My mother smiled.

“I don’t care.” I coldy replied.

“Here.” My mom forced the phone to my ear.

“Hey man, Merry Christmas!” My brother said kindly through the receiver.

“Merry Christmas.” I replied.

“Hey, I’m sorry I couldn’t be there, but I have something to tell you.” He explained.

“What?” I was curious.

“Go upstairs and open my closet.” He told me.

I looked around like I was on some hidden camera show. What was he talking about? Did everyone know there would be some guy jumping out at me and a laugh track would play afterwards? My family gave me clueless faces as I carried the phone upstairs and went into his room. My dad followed me upstairs, not sure where I was going, and we reached my brother’s clean, empty room. I opened up his closet. What was he talking about? I had no idea. Then I saw it.

Sitting down by his shoes, was a big wrapped box that simply had my name on it. My dad was shocked. Taking it downstairs, he showed everybody. My brother chuckled over the line. As I opened it, my heart was pounding. What was it? Keep in mind this was a time before I could hop on the internet to know when a new system was coming out, so I had no clue what was about to happen.

Before he left, my brother saved up enough to buy me a Nintendo Gamecube.

I bawled my eyes out and everyone else did, too. I wasn’t even sure what the thing was, but it said Nintendo on it and my brother got it for me, that was enough for me. Included in the gift was a copy of Super Smash Bros Melee, and I was so eager to play the game with him until the very end of time it felt like. I played that game until it couldn’t play any more, nearly six years later. I absolutely love everything about Melee, because it brings back those memories of one of the greatest mornings of my life.