Home Blog

The Best Types of Unlocks and Bonuses in Video Games

0
Unlockable Bonuses

Bonuses and bonus content have always been an incentive for gamers to keep playing.

When we turn to video games, we tend to do so because we love the base gameplay. Whether shooting aliens, scoring the final goal in overtime, or shooting aliens while scoring a goal in overtime, these allow us to do things which we might never accomplish in real life.

Like anything in life, however, longevity is rarely something which can be assured in even the most popular of games. This is where the idea of unlocks and bonuses come in. Whether directly affecting elements within the game, or offering bonuses in the surrounding infrastructure, these can help entice and keep us going when we might otherwise move on.

While this has been a part of gaming for generations, the current environment is increasingly drawing parallels to the type of greater bonuses as detailed by online casino comparison website Oddschecker. Newer unlocks give us big discounts and free game time, as many of these do, but before we get this, let’s jump back a bit.

Which examples best illustrate our favorite takes from the world of gaming bonuses and unlocks?

Real-World Proof – Pokémon

The original Pokémon games Red and Blue back on the Gameboy were revelations in their own right. Collect almost all of them, realize you can’t do that alone, and then forge friendships in pursuit of a similar goal, this was mobile gaming on an entirely new level.

So what awaited those diligent enough to actually complete the original Pokédex? How about a diploma for bragging rights?

The best part of this came from the attachment for the Game Boy called the Game Boy Printer. This allowed you to, get this, print out your diploma to carry with you as proof of your mastery. Few items could impress others like this could, making it a mark of honor among early Pokémon fans.

In-Game Rewards – Dead Space

Dead Space and its sequels are some of the best horror games ever released. Coming out on the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360, this brought survival horror into the new generation. This showed just how much new technology could add to the equation.

Those with the skill to make it through Dead Space 2 on hardcore difficultly were met with an unlock which still stands as one of the funniest we’ve ever seen. Your reward for braving a terrifying environment on such a difficulty? A large foam finger.

Acting as a gun, the protagonist Isaac would yell out “Pew” and “Bang” every time the trigger was pulled. Easily separating the monsters from their limbs, this unlockable gun utterly undercut the mood of Dead Space in the most hilarious of ways. It makes a lot of sense, really. If you managed to finish the game on hardcore, then chances are that nothing scared you anymore.

Community and eSports Rewards – Overwatch

Turning back to our casino examples with overarching infrastructure, it is Blizzard’s Overwatch which has recently introduced some ground-breaking additions. Eager to grow the interest in their eSports scene, Blizzard has created a bonus system whereby watching their online eSports league will earn the player credits.

These credits can then be spent on player skins which show support for the major teams of the league back within the base game. Gaming has now effectively entered the mainstream televised arena. Developments such as these are not just great for the players, but also for the overall state of the industry.

Even better, a recent MVP Overwatch League player JJoNak got his own unique skin developed especially for him. This sort of cooperation has been rare so far, but it’s something we really hope to see more of in the future.

A Balancing Act

Creating the right types of unlocks and bonuses is not an easy task. You don’t want to overpower a character in progress and ruin the game. However, you also want to provide a real sense of accomplishment for the path they have traveled.

Finding this balance is not an easy task, and too often games try and fail. Even the fantastic Super Mario 64 messed this up. The game offered 100 bonus lives after collecting all 120 stars. This bonus serves no purpose after mastery of the game is already proven.

We can only hope that the lessons taught by our examples will be the lessons learned by newer games going forward. If not, then at least we can always fall back on the classics.

COMIC REVIEWS FOR 7/11/19

0
Saban's Go Go Power Rangers #21 - BOOM! Studios
"No... YOU'RE crying!"

WHICH COMIC IS THE PICK OF THE WEEK?  LET’S TAKE A LOOK!

Saban's Go Go Power Rangers #21 - BOOM! Studios
BOOM! Studios

SABAN’S GO GO POWER RANGERS #21
BOOM! Studios

Writers: Ryan Parrott & Sina Grace
Artist:Francesco Mortarino
Cover Price:  $3.99

This doesn’t feel like as big of a departure as it used to.

Ryan Parrott and Sina Grace are working hard to push the narrative forward.  The characters all feel loosely in line with their television origins.  Moreover, Parrott and Grace are working hard to keep the feel of the show without the cheesy dialogue that was synonymous with the original show.  Meanwhile, the problem of the comic is that it is currently following very well known story lines with the show.  While this isn’t a case of bad writing, this feels like it’s retreading familiar ground.  Because of this, this issue creates a serious case of deja vu.

Saban's Go Go Power Rangers #21 - BOOM! Studios
Saban’s Go Go Power Rangers #21 – BOOM! Studios

Francesco Mortarino’s art keeps this story fresh.  Everything has a loosely anime feel.  The outer lines are not terribly thick and there is a fair amount of detail.  Additionally, characters are easily recognizable and the monsters are well textured.  However, there are moments where the perspective of the characters shift.  I can’t tell what some characters are looking at.  Meanwhile, the action is above average and has the snap you need in a physical fight.

This is not a bad comic at all.  However, it doesn’t feel like it goes anywhere new until the last pages.  Finally, the cliffhanger may be worth the old story… you just have to get there.

Young Justice #7 - DC Comics
DC Comics

YOUNG JUSTICE #7
DC Comics

Writers: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: John Timms, Dan Hipp, David LaFuente & Gabe Eltaeb
Cover Price:  $3.99

This comic transforms this series into the rollicking adventure am hoping for.

Brian Michael Bends balances wild multiversal leaping with energetic dialogue.  This all reminds me of the Cross Time Caper from the early Excalibur comics.  Additionally, Bendis has left behind the more mundane background of Gemworld for the universes of Captain Carrot, Kingdom Come, and Lil’ DC.  Meanwhile, Teen Lantern and Ginny Hex have a few bright character moments.  However both characters are still being overshadowed by the other members of the team.  I hope Bendis will give each of them a chance to shine.

Young Justice #7 - DC Comics
Young Justice #7 – DC Comics

The art is primarily by Jon Timms.  Dan Hipp, David LaFuente and Gabe Eltaeb.  So many artists makes the style hard to critique.  This is because the art shifts from world to world.  Meanwhile, I can say that the art was appropriate for each universe and the amount of comedy Bendis was looking to add into a scene.  It is worth flipping through this comic just to get a small view of DC’s wider multiverse and available styles.

Young Justice may be in its seventh issue, although it feels like the series has finally begun.

Invisible Woman #1 - Marvel Comics
Marvel Comics

INVISIBLE WOMAN #1
Marvel Comics

Writers: Mark Waid
Artist: Mattia de Ilius
Cover Price:  $3.99

This may not be my Pick of the Week, however it is still damn good.

Waid has a difficult job of adding more to the Invisible Woman without completely changing her.  He has found the path to do it.  Susan Richards is now a former S.H.I.E.L.D. deep cover agent.  Meanwhile, this is such a brilliant way to use her abilities, it astonishes me no one has tried to do so before.  Additionally, Richards is shown as capable, imaginative, and experience.  The dialogue is strong and the story itself is engrossing.  This is a well paced beginning.

Invisible Woman #1 - Marvel Comics
Invisible Woman #1 – Marvel Comics

In addition, Mattia de Ilius is firing on all cylanders.  His art has a near animation-like quality.  The characters are wholly expressive.  Moreover, Ilius’ version of the Invisible Woman’s powers has an almost audible pop or snap to their use.  On top of it all, the colors used cross this issue are very warm and inviting.  I would swear these are storyboards for a new television show, not a comic book.

I am not a Fantastic Four fan.  However, I am now an Invisible Woman fan.  Additionally, I am a fan of Waid and Ilius.  I hope they work together more.

Naomi #6 - Wonder Comics (DC Comics)
Wonder Comics (DC Comics)

PICK OF THE WEEK
NAOMI #6
Image Comics

Writers: Brian Michael Bendis & David F. Walker
Artist: Jamal Campbell
Cover Price:  $3.99

This is how you tell an origin story!

I have gushed about Naomi before.  I have even had it reviewed on our podcast.  With that said, Brian Michael Bendis and David F. Walker completely stick the landing.  These characters are very vibrant and energetic.  Meanwhile, they are believable.  Their reactions are within the range of relatively normal people experiencing the unbelievable.  Also, the issue’s reveals and pacing are expertly laid out through the 22 pages here.  Additionally, the dialogue remains strong without being overpowering.

Naomi #6 - Wonder Comics (DC Comics)
Naomi #6 – Wonder Comics (DC Comics)

On top of the above, Jamal Campbell is just as important to the success of this comic and this series.  His artistic legs are stretched now that Naomi has her powers and she meets her first villain.  The energy has a wild explosive feel from every one using it.  It is a rarer talent to make energy have such a severe impact.  Meanwhile, the expressive, emotional characters seen in prior issues are working overtime here.  I would easily recommend Campbell’s style to new artists looking for a base style to emulate.  The overall style is light on detail, though it is highly dynamic with excellent facial features.

This issue earns high marks for the story and art.  However, special attention must be paid to the arc-long story of growing up and learning to take your first steps in a new world.  The story works on how Naomi and her adoptive parents respond to her life changing.  Supporting characters can often be lost, however Walker and Bendis keep them firmly in place and a part of the story.  There’s even a pleasant surprise in Naomi’s last name, McDuffie, being a living memorial to a much loved comic creator.

Naomi #6 - Wonder Comics (DC Comics)
Naomi #6 – Wonder Comics (DC Comics)

Naomi is the kind of relatable, grounded character DC struggles to find.  She can lead a new generation to be readers of their comics.  Moreover, the issues themselves are near perfect.

Which series do you think is perfect?  Let us know in the comments below!  In the meantime, here is a link to the latest episode of our comic book podcast, the Part-Time Henchmen!

COMIC REVIEWS FOR 7/3/19

Anime Expo 2019 – A Review

 

Overwatch Summer Games and Hero 31

0

What’s New in Overwatch?

Anyone who’s been playing Overwatch for a significant amount of time knows the games basic event schedule. The next event is the Summer Games, which generally begins in the first two weeks of August, followed by a new hero release in July.

This summer, the predicted schedule seems to be a bit different. According to this developer update, the Summer Games event will be happening much earlier than anticipated. Alongside the event, there will be mini-challenges each week for new character skins.

Hero 31 Speculation

The newest hero, Hero 31, will also be released later than fans predicted. Developers hope that some extra time will make him an unusual and interesting character. I’m glad they’re releasing him when he’s fully functional and not to meet a set schedule.

Of course, this makes us wonder, who is Hero 31? Following the release of Baptiste’s short story, fans believe the next hero might be Mauga, a Talon character introduced in the story. Mauga is a former squad-mate of Baptiste from before the medic escaped Talon. Looking at the few pictures of him, it’s easy to see why people think that he’ll be the newest tank hero.

Mauga and Baptiste Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

Other Changes

Alongside these event changes, there are also a few quality of life improvements. Subtitles will be accessible for those with hearing loss or for people who like to use them.

Lastly, and possibly most importantly, the developers are implementing a new system to deter cheating in the game. According to the update, the game will automatically shut down a match where cheating is occurring. This abrupt ending to a game will not affect the SR of anyone else if it happens in a competitive match. The cheater will also be heavily punished, which will hopefully discourage others from making similar decisions.

I’m looking forward to seeing how these changes improve Overwatch. While it’s a small step, it feels like moves like this could drastically change the game. Events could be unique, and maybe we’ll even start seeing some more original hero lore. One can only hope.

COMIC REVIEWS FOR 7/3/19

0
Aero #1 - Marvel Comics
This is how she reacts when she can't get into Comic-Con.

AFTER A JULY 4 DELAY, WE ARE BACK WITH NEW COMIC REVIEWS!

After spending some time at Anime Expo and seeing Spider-Man: Far From Home, we have more of the latest comics for review!

Adventures of the Super Sons #12 - DC Comics
DC Comics

ADVENTURES OF THE SUPER SONS #12
DC Comics

Writers: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Carlo Barberi
Cover Price:  $3.99

This is a comic that needs you to be involved in the DC Universe to enjoy all of it.

Peter Tomasi’s take on the sons of DC’s biggest superheros has kept its buddy-movie feel.  Their conflicting personalities compliment and antagonize each other so well, it’s hilarious.  I am really surprised Warner Brothers hasn’t tried to make this a cartoon yet.  Meanwhile, the overall issue is well-paced.  However, everything hinges on a McGuffin that must be more important in terms of DC history.  I’m not familiar with it, so it hamstrung my reading experience.  Also, this series’ final issue includes a wish-it-away ending.  I really don’t like those.

Adventures of the Super Sons #12 - DC Comics
Adventures of the Super Sons #12 – DC Comics

The art by Carlo Barberi has most of what you need to add to this story.  His style is dynamic and fluid.  He uses strong outer lines and a combination of solid blacks and scratch lines to create very textured gradients.  This gives images a great 3D feel without being busy.  There is just enough detail to get Barberi’s images across.  Moreover, Barberi does a great job of capturing the energy of youth without making it feel juvenile.

This comic has been fun for the most part, however the ending isn’t terribly accessible to casual readers.

Aero #1 - Marvel Comics
Marvel Comics

AERO #1
Marvel Comics

Writers: Zhou Liefen (adapted by Greg Pak)
Artist: Keng
Cover Price:  $3.99

I did not expect to enjoy this comic so much.

Aero is originally written by Zhou Liefen.  Greg Pak handles the English adaption.  The overall story is a bit mysterious as far as Aero’s origin.  However, it quickly shows you the character’s power and personal life.  This makes the character interesting without getting mired in a long arc.  Meanwhile, Aero herself is a professional, confident woman that doesn’t need to be cruel.  You can see some of the moments where the Chinese and American cultures may clash, although they are handled with an unusually deft hand.

Aero #1 - Marvel Comics
Aero #1 – Marvel Comics

The art by Keng is beautiful.  It does have faults.  The detail in the comic is very limited.  Additionally, character faces can be a bit flat.  Meanwhile, this comic has a strong manhua style that has vibrant motion.  The characters are very expressive.  On top of that, Keng has a graceful effect for Aero’s powers.  It has a subtlety that can often be missing from other wind-powered characters in Marvel.

While the villain(s) of the issue are kind of hard to parse out, this issue is a great primer to a character that could use more exposure.  Based on this issue, great things are going to come from this series.

No One Left to Fight #1 - Dark Horse Comics
Dark Horse Comics

NO ONE LEFT TO FIGHT #1
Dark Horse Comics

Writers: Aubrey Sitterson
Artist: Fico Ossio
Cover Price:  $3.99

What happens when the hero has vanquished his last foe?  This is a question DragonBall will never answer, but this comic will try to.

The story by Aubrey Sitterson is rather novel.  With the hero living in a post-threat world, we are trying to see what he does now.  Meanwhile, his characters seem to have parallels to a certain Saiyan and his friend.  However, they are different enough to be their own story.  It’s like comparing DragonBall and Naruto.  Both are very similar, although they are different enough to enjoy them separately.  The characters appear to have nuance, but it is too early to tell.  The script itself is an entertaining and airy.

No One Left to Fight #1 - Dark Horse Comics
No One Left to Fight #1 – Dark Horse Comics

Fico Ossio may be a new unsung star of comics.  His characters immediately stand out for the amount of fine detail in them.  Each character has a set of unique details that sets them apart.  Additionally, they are very expressive.  The characters’ emotions are readily apparent on every panel.  The line-work is universally thin, although, again, the amount of detail is remarkable.  On top of all of that, the action is superb.  Each bit of action has terrific impact behind it.  The punches feel fast and damaging.  Visually, this is A+ material.

I am not all-together sure about the story.  However, this is a great start.  I want to see how this series develops.  Most comics are built on the hero trying to stop the bad guy and save the world.  The first issue of this comic is a hero trying to live after the last bad guy has been beaten.  This makes for an interesting character-driven story.

The Wild Storm #24 - DC Comics
DC Comics

PICK OF THE WEEK
THE WILD STORM #24
Image Comics

Writers: Warren Ellis
Artist: Jon Davis-Hunt
Cover Price:  $3.99

When you end your story, you want the ending to be this big.

Warren Ellis started the Wild Storm with a 24-issue plan, and this ending has been worth the journey.  The story went full speed from the first page to the last and has a big-event feel to this retelling of the Wildstorm universe.  It is light on character moments.  This is because it is featuring payoffs to series-long stories.  This issue will not be accessible to new readers.  It requires you to know most of what has come before to make any real sense.

The Wild Storm #24 - DC Comics
The Wild Storm #24 – DC Comics

Jon Davis-Hunt’s art seems a little rushed in this issue.  He may have lost pace with this two-year story.  His detail is sparse and his action has lost some of its fluidity.  While everyone is recognizable, they just feel kind of static.  Meanwhile, his backgrounds are unusually detailed.  They don’t stand out from the characters, although they bring the locations into just enough focus to give you a feel of the world.

This series has been above-average throughout its run.  It makes the Wildstorm universe into a place where politics and espionage rule the day.  Some super-powered people are pawns while others are independent agents.  Versions of the Justice League characters are present in this universe via the Michael Cray tie-ins and they are very subverted.

The Wild Storm #24 - DC Comics
The Wild Storm #24 – DC Comics

This issue is a great ending.  It ties up a lot of stories while leaving room for new beginnings and changes the status quo.  You won’t understand anything if you drop in here.  Start from issue #1 and… seriously… READ ALL OF IT.

Have you read any of this week’s comics?  Let us know in the comments below!  In the meantime, here is a link to the latest episode of our comic book podcast, the Part-Time Henchmen!

Anime Expo 2019 – A Review

COMIC REVIEWS FOR 6/26/19

Anime Expo 2019 – A Review

0
anime expo 2019

IS ANIME EXPO STILL A MARQUEE EVENT?

The biggest anime convention in the U.S. is over! How did it turn out?

LOCATION

This is a case of starting off on a terrible foot.

On Day 1, there was a line a over a block long just to pick up badges on site. If you didn’t pre-register, you can wait up to two hours just for a chance to buy a badge.  Meanwhile, that isn’t your only stress in just trying to get in. For security, all but two entrances were sealed to fans. With bag checks, this made people wait over three hours to get inside. Once inside, several people were afraid to leave since there may not be time to get inside again.

anime expo ax 2019
So Many People…

Moreover, this building’s age is now a crutch. Its unusual layout of two buildings connected by a long bridge is inconvenient for people who try to see a lot of the convention. This is one of the big reasons E3 has announced an intention to move away from it. Additionally, other than some recent refilling station installations, the building is obviously aged and in need of renovation.

DEALER’S HALL

The layout is one used by Anime Expo for the last few years, and I find it frustrating.  They put all of the larger industry booths up front. This front-loading means all of the exclusives are right behind the front doors and it also makes fans gravitate into the front third of the Dealer’s Hall. This makes an initial logjam that takes work to get through before you can get to the back half and more conventional part of the hall.

Additionally, there can be astonishing repetition in what is sold by vendors. I found three booths with the same foam plastic replica guns for cosplay within eight minutes of walking. I also saw a lot of the same vinyl figures over and over. Moreover, some of the more unique booths are in a pocket at the back of the hall.

anime expo 2019 fate grand order
People trying a new game demo.

On top of all of this, the Dealer’s Hall is often too crowded to move. However, I was in early enough on Day 1 that the horrible bag check line allowed me to check out the entire hall and the Entertainment Hall before 12:30 p.m.

EVENTS

Anime Expo has tried to change its image from just another convention by adding more industry guests. This year included Studio Trigger’s U.S. premiere screening of Promare, announcements of new projects by the creator of Akira, Kazuhiro Otomo, and the second concert in two years by AQUORS, an idol group based on the Love Live! series.

There is a notable push-out of a lot of fan-based panels this year. However, this isn’t simple corporate insensitivity. Fans have long requested that AX have a bigger industry presence. I would say though that Anime Expo is trying to strike a careful balance. Although they are struggling with this balance as they seek to redefine themselves. In the meantime, this convention does not feel like it connects with Japanese culture, fan culture, or even anime culture currently.

OVERALL

This convention does a lot, but it does not stand out in any particular way other than size and the unusual line snafus that have become way too regular to ignore. By the end of Day 1, I found myself jealous of the people that were at home with a hot dog and getting ready to watch fireworks. In my personal opinion, you can have a better fan experience by either booting up Crunchyroll for the day, or holding your own fan cosplay gathering and barbecue in a friendly park.

anime expo 2019
A shorter version of the Registration Line.

There are bright spots in the convention. Although they are few and far between. As far as conventions, I would recommend most others in the U.S. before Anime Expo. Most have better fan connections or industry connections. Some are just plain more accessible at a cheaper price.

Anime Expo usually takes place during July 4 weekend in Los Angeles, California. As of the date of this review, next year’s convention dates have not been released.

Will eSports Feature in the Paris 2024 Olympics?

Comic-Con Revolution 2019 – A Review

COMIC REVIEWS FOR 6/26/19

0
Ascender #3 - Image Comics
You're not filling me with confidence, here.

SUMMER CONVENTION SEASON IS IN FULL SWING! 

Just because we’re about to hit the big convention season, does not mean we can stop reading comics!

Redneck #21 - Image Comics
Image Comics

REDNECK #21
Image Comics

Writers: Donny Cates
Artist: Lisandro Estherren
Cover Price:  $3.99

This is another case of a cover that is just too odd to pass up.

Donny Cates is a strong writer, however I found this issue to be somewhat confounding.  The comic is not badly written.  It’s just that it has no primer for a quick catch-up.  Additionally, the characters are speaking to each other like the second half of an episode of an HBO series.  They just assume you understand everything happening.  Moreover, I didn’t know I was looking at a family of vampires until one of them said so.  The characters are fairly written.  I just didn’t find my footing.

Redneck #21 - Image Comics
Redneck #21 – Image Comics

Meanwhile, the art by Lisandro Estherren is not my preference.  While there is good use of black for shadows, the detail lines are the same thickness as the outer lines.  This makes the art look scratchy and dirty.  In addition, the characters themselves weren’t well defined.  I cannot tell which characters are supposed to be younger unless the dialogue tells me so.  Their faces also lack enough definition to read emotions.

This may be a story I could get into, however, this one issue didn’t draw me in.

Batman: Damned #3 - DC Comics
DC Comics

BATMAN: DAMNED #3
DC Comics

Writers: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Lee Bermejo
Cover Price:  $6.99

I have not read an issue of this mini-series until now.  You should always try something new, right?

Brian Azzarello wrote a terrific Joker original story a while ago.  It turns out Damned is a continuation of that story.  However, this doesn’t have the same kind of punch as its progenitor.  I do like Azzarello’s monstrous Swamp Thing, although the other characters almost feel like characterizations of themselves, if not other people entirely.  Batman is often confounded.  Constantine has his snark without the same level of wit.  Additionally, no one really stands out in this very over-sized issue.

Batman: Damned #3 - DC Comics
Batman: Damned #3 – DC Comics

Lee Bermejo’s painted artwork isn’t quite as striking as Alex Ross.  Meanwhile, it is still extremely good.  Berjmejo’s Batman is strong and weighty.  His mystically-styled armor is alos a unique approach to Batman’s armor.  Although some character expressions can be hard to read, that is few and far between.  Because of Bermejo’s color work, Batman: Damned has an impeccable atmosphere that adds to the story.  The backgrounds have a haunted feel from scene to scene that some thriller movie-makers could spend time to study.

This ending drags quite a bit compared to other issues or other Batman stories.  I would recommend you read the Joker graphic novel by this creative team instead.

War of the Realms #6 - Marvel Comics
Marvel Comics

WAR OF THE REALMS #6
Marvel Comics

Writers: Jason Aaron
Artist: Russell Dauterman
Cover Price:  $6.99

This was a very furious comic book.

Jason Aaron’s very long run on Thor is winding down, so he is walking out with an explosion.  After a semi-disappointing beginning, this comic has ended a set of trials Aaron has gone through to redefine Thor as a character worthy of his power.  The entire issue is one long third act with half of the Marvel Universe fighting a mythical army.  The characters are valorous and brave, although they are sometimes more savage than normal.  That may be because of the scenario.  I was engaged at the start of this issue and it keeps its pace for the full issue.

War of the Realms #6 - Marvel Comics
War of the Realms #6 – Marvel Comics

Russell Dauterman has been working with Aaron for most of this run.  His art has an impact that is rare among superhero comics.  There is serious power when Thor is swinging a hammer, Jane Foster-Thor is heaving her weapon, or Captain Marvel bashes into a demon queen.  Dauterman’s clothing has more detail than a character’s face.  Both have good motion and are easy to interpret.  Meanwhile, my nitpick is that Dauterman can have a problem with perspective.  When characters are tilted in a certain direction, their faces can appear strangely lean or squashed.  There have been a few times that Thor himself looks like Robin Williams with a beard.  Again, it’s a nitpick.

War of the Realms has a good fallout and possibility for new stories.  However, it is a great ending to a story-thin event mini-series.  You can find a lot of the missing story by reading the tie-ins.

Ascender #3 - Image Comics
Image Comics

PICK OF THE WEEK
ASCENDER #3
Image Comics

Writers: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Dustin Nguyen
Cover Price:  $3.99

A comic with a science fiction title, but a lot of fantasy images on the cover?  If I haven’t won comic book bingo, I will soon.

Jeff Lemire’s script is missing a few details from the first two issues.  However, this comic is incredibly easy to catch up on.  The exposition is all via dialogue and hits a lot of the major points that are important in this comic.  Meanwhile, the characters are evolving fast.  They feel like ones you have seen in a number of films or TV shows, although they are changing as you read.  The pacing of the issue is brisk.  There isn’t really a point wherein the characters are idle or stuck in dialogue.

Ascender #3 - Image Comics
Ascender #3 – Image Comics

The art is by Dustin Nguyen and it is fairly unique in comic books.  In a word, the visuals are like water colors.  This matches well with some of the more desolate landscapes in this comic like icy planets or space.  However, the forested or grassy areas can have a more washed-out pallet.  The line-work is scratchy.  This makes a lot of the visuals have a hazy appearance.  I cannot tell if this is on purpose or not.  Additionally, while characters are expressive enough, they lack a lot of finer details.

Ascender #3 - Image Comics
Ascender #3 – Image Comics

Again, this comic feels like a movie or TV show.  There is a fairly logical progression to this comic, although it mixes a few genres together.  It does not take much to figure out which pieces are where.

This comic whets the appetite for the prior issues and it’s prior series, Descender.  I suddenly want to know a lot more about this universe.

Have you read Ascender or any of this week’s comics?  Let us know in the comments below!  In the meantime, here is a link to the latest episode of our comic book podcast, the Part-Time Henchmen!

COMIC REVIEWS FOR 6/19/19

Overwatch League MVP JJoNak Gets Dedicated Zenyatta Skin

Overwatch League MVP JJoNak Gets Dedicated Zenyatta Skin

0

Bang ‘JJoNak’ Sung-hyeon

Players in the Overwatch League have signature characters. Carpe is an amazing Widowmaker, for instance. While most players are celebrated within their fanbase, and not so much by League fans as a whole, arguably no player is better known than New York Excelsior’s JJoNak.

JJoNak was voted 2018 League MVP by the fans, even though Excelsior did not walk away as the Inaugural Season champs, and it’s easy to see why. Not only does he fill an essential role on the team as a support player, but he also has impeccable aim. He wins 1v1s on his own and survives situations he quite frankly shouldn’t. It’s no wonder he’s the first Overwatch League MVP.

The New Skin

Anyone who delves into the world of League players can learn quite a bit about the individual talent. JJoNak, for instance, loves octopuses. He has a tattoo of one on his arm, and his name is even a combination of the Korean words “jjomullak najki,” which stands for “fumbling octopus.”

Of course, the newest Zenyatta skin took JJoNak’s love for this sea creature and turned it into something beautiful. Zenyatta’s orbs are tiny octopuses, and his head is an octopus chilling in a water tank. There are also tubs of water running the length of his body. The bottom half of the skin is similar to New York Excelsior’s League skins and has JJoNak’s number. I think it’s one of Zenyatta’s coolest skins next to his cultist look.

JjoNak’s Zenyatta Skin Courtesy of Don’t Feed the Gamers

Will There be More Player Based Skins?

I think this addition is a step to something great for the game. It almost guarantees future MVP skins. Maybe we’ll see skins for charitable figures in the community or for extremely dedicated fans who’ve done a lot for the game. It opens up a lot of new doors for potential cosmetic designs.

For your viewing amusement, here’s a great highlight video of some of JJoNak’s best moments both in the League and while streaming.

 

COMIC REVIEWS FOR 6/19/19

0
The Unstoppable Wasp #9 - Marvel Comics
Janet van Dyne's version of "swipe left" is pretty brutal.

SUMMER IS AROUND THE CORNER AND THE NEWEST RELEASES ARE HOT OFF THE PRESSES!

Comic companies have the latest comics on the racks and we’re glad to read them to review for you!

Batman #73 - DC Comics
DC Comics

BATMAN #73
DC Comics

Writers: Tom King
Artist: Mikel Janin
Cover Price:  $3.99

A Batman… on a horse… in a desert.  I know that sounds like the beginning of a joke, however that is the focus of this comic.

Tom King uses an insanely minimalist style in this issue.  It creates a very intimate issue between Bruce Wayne and the Flashpoint Batman, Thomas Wayne.  Additionally, the quiet of the issue strips away the pretense that often drips from Batman and his villains.  Meanwhile, a tantalizing mystery is dripped to the reader throughout this issue.  I am impressed with how the dialogue in this issue catches you up to the current status of Wayne and the major plot points of this comic.  The story pace is brisk and everything is unusually clear.

Batman #73 - DC Comics
Batman #73 – DC Comics

Moreover, the art by Mikel Janin mirrors the story.  It is crisp, clean, and very detailed.  In addition, the desert scenes evoke the vast dryness of the ecosystem.  You can smell the dusty landscape in the panels and even feel the heat from the occasional campfires.  Meanwhile, Janin tends to use a lot of small lines to add gradient details.  This is normally a pet-peeve in the art I see.  However, it fits the grunge of the landscape  In addition, Janin is very good at action.  The melees imply a lot of impact and energy.  This is visually incredible.

Batman is not one of the heroes I idolize, however, this issue goes a long way to making him more accessible.  Additionally, you do not know fear until you have seen a Batman sing during a fight.

The Unstoppable Wasp #9 - Marvel Comics
Marvel Comics

THE UNSTOPPABLE WASP #9
Marvel Comics

Writers: Jeremy Whitley
Artist: Gurihiru
Cover Price:  $3.99

This issue made me feel bad because, after reading it, I feel like I’m missing out on a great story.

We recently read Jeremy Whitley’s Rainbow Brite comic and discovered his quirky and fun writing style.  That style is magnified in The Unstoppable Wasp.  Whitely balances a lot of characters and situations.  There is a bit of catch up that is necessary if you decide to skip the primer behind the cover.  However, there is just enough information in the dialogue to fill in the blanks for people dropping in here.  Most of the characters are capable and have interesting dialogue.  I do note, though, that it feels like this book is trying to balance between heroic defiance and self-effacing humor.  Moreover, that balance isn’t always apparent.  It can feel like you have two different types of story in one scenario.  If you’re not used to Whitley’s style, this may be confusing.

The Unstoppable Wasp #9 - Marvel Comics
The Unstoppable Wasp #9 – Marvel Comics

Meanwhile, Gurihiru’s art adds the pop that this comic lives by.  This is because of the obvious shoujo manga influence that is all over every page and figure.  This means there is low detail, although there is a brightness and energy to the pages.  There is good motion to the action, though it is low impact.  Additionally, the characters are very expressive.  That expressiveness has to do more with the shaping of the facial features, rather than the more minute detail in most Western-style comics.

This comic is like a fun piece of bubblegum pop.  Once you find the rhythm, it will put a smile on your face.

Psi-Lords #1 - Valiant Comics
Valiant Comics

PSI-LORDS #1
Valiant Comics

Writers: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Renato Guedes
Cover Price:  $3.99

This first issue is a tantalizing misfire.

Fred Van Lente has an interesting script.  The characters are distinct archetypes, although they are not quite fully fleshed out characters.  Moreover, there is a lot happening in this issue to set up the rest of the story.  This is jarring because it seems like every main character is aware of everything happening to every other main character.  Additionally, even though the characters are missing large parts of their memories, they have a lot of muscle memory and knowledge on some advanced concepts of technology, history, and themselves.  If this was a few issues in, it wouldn’t be as confusing.

Psi-Lords #1 - Valiant Comics
Psi-Lords #1 – Valiant Comics

Meanwhile, Renato Guedes brings a more European painted style to the art.  His faces are disturbingly realistic, sometimes.  This is not a bad thing, although it is very unusual in the comic-book scene.  Additionally, while the power effects in this comic are very flashy, the physical action can be a bit flat and lacking on a sense of motion.  There is a lot of give-and-take on the visual side of this comic, however, perhaps things will settle in future issues.

This is a comic is a lot of great parts that do not quite come to a great experience.

Disney Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs #1 - Dark Horse Comics/Disney Comics
Dark Horse Comics/
Disney Comics

PICK OF THE WEEK
SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS #1
Dark Horse Comics/Disney Comics

Writers: Cecil Castellucci
Artist: Gabriele Bagnoli
Cover Price:  $3.99

This is one of those comics that I just dared myself to read.  It is way outside my norm.  You know what… this is pretty good.

Cecil Castellucci has the assignment of adding more context and story to an animated classic.  Moreover, he handles the job with aplomb and a deft hand.  His character dialogue can be a touch cheesy, although the source material can have the same said of it in a conversation.  In addition, Castellucci adds a lot of additional exposition in Snow White’s voice to give a greater window into her thought processes before she was forced from the castle early in the story.  The pacing is decent, however this is not an action or intrigue story, so readers will have to be ready for a lot of characterization and slower moments.

Disney Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs #1 - Dark Horse Comics/Disney Comics
Disney Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs #1 – Dark Horse Comics/Disney Comics

Gabriele Bagnoli’s art has to balance a lot.  She cannot lose track of the original Disney image of Snow White, however, she has to make the visuals appealing to modern tastes or even people who wouldn’t read this comic.  Bagnoli’s solution is to make add more Japanese and Korean influences to the art style.  This art helps give the story a fresh look.  The characters are expressive and are dynamic in motion.  There are a few times where I would appreciate more detail in faces.  That is more of a personal nitpick than a critical problem.

Disney Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs #1 - Dark Horse Comics/Disney Comics
Disney Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs #1 – Dark Horse Comics/Disney Comics

This creative team is off to a pretty good start at retelling the Disney version of this fairy tale to a new audience.  I am very impressed because of how much more depth Snow White, the Queen, and the Huntsman have after a single issue.  This makes me want to take a look at the second issue to see what is made from the Seven Dwarfs, as well as what comes next.

In the end, this comic is… (sigh) enchanting.

Have you read any of the same comics?  Different comics?  Let us know in the comments below!  In the meantime, here is a link to the latest episode of our comic book podcast, the Part-Time Henchmen!

COMIC REVIEWS FOR 6/12/19

Comic-Con Revolution 2019 – A Review

Will eSports Feature in the Paris 2024 Olympics?

0
Paris 2024 Olympics

What is the likelihood of eSports coming to the Paris 2024 Olympics?

The rise of eSports is virtually unparalleled for any sport around the world. From virtual obscurity to widespread popularity in less than a decade? That’s the story of eSports.

Competitive video games for the new generation have fueled the growth of eSports. In addition, there is also the growth and maturity of streaming platforms and the development of professional leagues. Some of these leagues include the Overwatch League or the League of Legends Championship Series.

In 2018, eSports captured the attention of almost 400 million viewers worldwide, catapulting the sector into the public consciousness and leading to a race among TV programmers to buy rights to air the biggest competitions, resulting in media rights revenues topping $180m (£141m). Many predict that eSports growth will continue to surge. 550 million people will have watched an eSports event by 2021.

The popularity of eSports may push it to the Paris 2024 Olympics.

That popularity has encouraged the Olympic Committee to take a long and serious look at eSports for inclusion in forthcoming Olympic Games. It’s not as though the Olympic Games need the viewing boost, however: 2008’s Beijing Olympics pulled in viewing figures of 4.4 billion. In comparison, the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics had 3.6 billion viewers. It’s virtually without competition as the biggest sporting event in the world.

Nevertheless, the Olympic Committee is always seeking to reflect the world of sport. eSports are a significant new entry to the scene. So, will eSports feature in the Paris 2024 Olympics? The situation isn’t clear. According to the Committee, the biggest hurdle stopping eSports from entering the Olympic arena is simply the level of violence exhibited in many popular eSports titles.

Many Olympic games have their history rooted in violence. Their modern versions are abstracted from it, focussing instead on the skillful aspects of the sports. Among the public, too, there remains some skepticism around whether eSports should be allowed into the Games. The debate has raged on for years now, and there’s plenty of good arguments on both sides of the issue. In this article, we’ll take a look at each.

Paris 2024 Olympics eSports

eSports Should be in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games

eSports are sports. That’s the mantra amongst fans of the games and, frankly, it’s hard to disagree with them. It only takes a short while of watching eSports to realize that anyone might be able to pick up and play a game of Rocket League or Overwatch. However, the skill level that professional players work is frankly absurd.

Like professionals in any sport, eSports players spend dozens of hours every single week honing their skills, gaining minute advantages and working on their craft. Far from lounging around, eSports players are always working on getting the most out of their efforts. This is a sport where virtually anyone can become a professional (regardless of height, weight, physical or mental ability). Therefore, it is imperative that the best continue to work incredibly hard.

eSports players are more similar to traditional sportspeople than one might think.

Like traditional sportspeople, they’re also a typically superstitious bunch. Olympic superstitions range from giving parents the middle finger (seriously) to lucky bras – unsurprising, really, given that 1 in 4 of us own lucky items of clothing. It’s the same within eSports, as players do everything from wearing their clothes inside out to wrapping headphone cords around their neck to avoid getting too comfortable. Sportspeople, eh?

There are many things that go beyond the similarities eSports professionals have with traditional professional sportspeople. For example, one can argue that the Olympic Games needs to adapt and reflect the modern sporting environment. 2020 will see the inclusion of surfing, climbing, and skateboarding in the games, reflecting their growing popularity. Why should eSports be an exception?

As games drop out of the schedule, there are new sports. The Olympic Committee should recognize the dynamism and excitement of eSports. This means giving it a call-up to the biggest sporting event in the world—the Olympics.

eSports Shouldn’t be in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games

On the other hand, eSports, despite their popularity, haven’t yet reached a point of stability and maturity. This stability and maturity will enable them to be a part of the Olympic stable for Paris 2024.

eSport titles are in an almost constant state of development, receiving balance patches and updates on a regular basis. This means that eSports professionals constantly have to adapt to new conditions. In addition, Olympic organizers would have to work closely with developers and players to ensure that rules are developed based on fixed versions of titles. As yet, no such framework exists.

There are also concerns about the lack of physical activity involved in eSports. The IOC (International Olympic Committee) is a firm advocate for the role of physical activity and, though eSports have a very high skill ceiling which requires incredible mental and physical dexterity, they require almost no physical exertion.