A Shameless Self Promotion (Part 2/2)

So if you saw my original self promotion post, I’m trying to simaltaneously do what I’m doing here on PlayingWithThoughts in both print and video form. Remember that Axiom Verge article I wrote on the concept of originality? Well I made a full video on the topic comparing it to another indie game, Titan Souls.

If you interested in things like design or philosophy, I think you’ll like my new series “Dyl’sDesign”. Here’s the first episode:

Thanks for checking it out!

 

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The Games I’m Most Excited For Per System: 2017

I could easily do a long list on games I’m excited for this year but instead I decided to keep it simple and concise by instead focusing on the specific systems I’ll be playing on; Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch and 3DS. It seems like each of these systems will be blessed with some great titles in 2017

Playstation 4:

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Persona 5 – April 4th 

The wait for Persona 5 is draining me day by day. Even though I never beat 4, (I’ll get back to it! I’m underleveled…) I fell in love with the game deeply for immersing me into it’s story and characters. Going to school, making friends, dating and living a teenage life doesn’t sound fun but combining it with Persona’s overall style makes it for a truly engrossing experience. On the flip side there’s epic battles and usually a thematic story which will keep you even more entertained. Long story short, Persona is worth being excited over.

Nintendo Switch:

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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – March 3rd

Come on, was there any ever question? Just look at that picture! This is Nintendo’s first real shot at an open world game and it seems like they’re putting their own spins on it. The Legend of Zelda is my favorite franchise of all time so you can imagine my excitement. I’ve tried staying in the dark about it’s story, world and mechanics so hopefully the first time I pick up those Joy-Cons I’ll feel like a kid again. Oh Zelda, how much I adore you.

Nintendo 3DS:

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Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadow of Valentia – May 19

Just like with Persona, Fire Emblem is basically half RPG and half Life Sim. The 3DS’ Fire Emblems had me glued to the tiny system for literal days. If I wasn’t battling it out, I was chatting with my comrades, romantic interests and even children! It’s so awesome to get married and fight along with friends and spouses. The Perma-Death mechanic makes it feel all the more real and heartpounding. Fire Emblem is one of my favorite franchises of all time so I’m glad my prayers were answered for one last entry on the 3DS, even if it is a remake of a Japanese exclusive title. I can’t wait to be addicted all over again.

 

Now that I look at it, all these games come out fairly soon; I might have to make a sequel to this list in the second half of the year.

Thank you so much for reading! What is the one game you can’t wait for on each of your systems?

A Shameless Self-Promotion (Part 1/2)

Part of the reason for my recent light posting here is my work on another project (don’t worry, I won’t forget about this place). See, I am endlessly passionate about examining entertainment to see why so many people and I think they’re so good! A lot of people say Spider-Man 2 is the best flick for the webslinger, well how come when they tried to top it with Spider-Man 3 it flopped so hard? It’s stuff like that I find interesting, the development and philosophies that went into making the things I love.

My new channel trailer doesn’t explain that too much on a first viewing, but with a handful of views you might see what I mean. It’s called “Forward February” because I’m putting all my efforts into YouTube this upcoming month more than ever. I tried making a successful channel and failed twice actually (once a comedy channel and once a vlog channel). Those videos are gone and now I start fresh.

I plan to upload four videos a month, starting January 29th; yes Forward February starts a little early.

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If you like video games, manga, movies, comics- most geek culture entertainment, then I would be very grateful if you checked out my channel now and in a couple weeks to see what I’m about. I plan to release my main series which will dissect entertainment, I also plan to do update vlogs where I talk about life and tips on creativity, interviews with friends who also like to be creative, and a ASMR type channel where I tell stories.

I tried putting in everything I love doing into one channel.

I thank you humbly just for reading this post, and if you don’t like it or comment on it I fully understand. PlayingWithThoughts will continue to run for a while, until life hands me my next step into writing about games.

If you like PlayingWithThoughts, I think you will like my channel, Dyl’sDesign during this Forward February. Thank you.

Nintendo Drank the Kool-Aid and Why That’s Okay

So I took a bit of an unexpected mini vacation. I’ve been working on a couple of other projects and trying to put together a real future for myself. This piece is a follow-up to my article last week where I discussed my hopes for Nintendo’s Switch presentation. Needless to say, I was satisfied. In fact I think most people were expect for one piece of news:

PAID ONLINE SERVICE
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I get it; we’re talking about the same industry that’s constantly trying to squeeze cents out of it’s consumers constantly with sneaky DLC, Game of the Year Edition, and pre-order tactics. But today we’re not talking about the industry, we’re talking about Nintendo.

It doesn’t take the most keen observer to realize that Nintendo has been slipping the past few years. After dominating the market with the Wii and 3DS, the Wii U cost the company millions. Then with the absolutely unfortunate and saddening death of President Satoru Iwata, it seemed like Nintendo was scrambling and making bizarre decisions. The NES Classic was supposed to be a quick cash-in for the company while also feeding into the Nostalgia hungry adults.

 

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But rather than help Nintendo make money, the Classic helped scalpers make hundreds due to the incredibly low stock. They’ve gotten negative attention for basically abandoning the Wii U in it’s last year, ditching beloved franchises and implementing mechanics that have time and time again proven to be undesired overall. The Switch seems like a golden ray of light on a dark stormy day. People want this thing badly; pre-orders are sold out everywhere.

Nintendo isn’t the type of company to focus on mainstream wants. They like to make their consoles unique and they’ve seen to have done it again. The announcement of online however; a step closer to their competitors, has been greatly disliked.

As someone who has spent hours with the online services on 3DS and Wii U, I can safely say Nintendo needed to step it up. Revenue from providing online will guarantee better services, adapting to paying consumers desires and an overall more user-friendly interface. Gone are the days of friend codes and other obscure methods of connecting with friends online. Perhaps Nintendo is getting with the times and will allow for better profiles, more customization Miis and maybe even an Achievement/Trophy equivalent.

Personally I believe the Switch is a make or break situation for Nintendo. It’s either they succeed or they pack up their bags and we start playing Super Mario World on PS4; a la Sega. I hope that never happens in my lifetime and while I’d rather not pay (I might even not honestly!) monthly or yearly for the basic ability of online, I firmly believe it will help the company connect with the main gaming crowd while fixing their financial state.

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So what do you guys think? Will you pay for the service or not? Let me know down below! Thanks for reading.

Top 5 Hopes for Tonight’s Nintendo Switch Direct!

-by Dylan D

Despite what I said in my Axiom Verge review, I love Nintendo and they’re probably still up there as my all time favorite video game developers. Although I’m a little skeptical of Switch and truly think it’ll make or break Nintendo, I’m excited.

I’m still on the fence on if I’ll pick up a Switch at launch, so here are five things that would persuade me to pick up a Switch on Day One.

5. Switch/Zelda Release Date:

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Guys, Zelda has and always will be my favorite franchise of all time. I can’t wait anymore for Breath of the Wild! Every time I look at pictures like the one above I foam at the mouth. I’m not sure how I feel about all the clothes and breakable weapons, but asides from that it seems like Nintendo is crafting a real open world. By that I mean, chopping down trees, sailing, paragliding- it’s all your’s to do. It feels oraganic. Now I’m not quite sure if I’d get it on the Switch or the Wii U (leaning towards Wii U), but you know what would help me decide?

A release date for Breath of the Wild and the Switch needs to be announced tonight.I’m hearing March 2017 and that sounds like a dream come true, but it’s Nintendo and lately they’ve been teaching me not to dream when it comes to them.

 

4. Better Online

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Even though I appreciate not paying for it, it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. Nintendo. Either ditch the basic Mii’s or give us a new form of virtual identity. Make it easier for us to find each other. Basically, just give me an easy and open format like the PS4 has and I’m happy.

This is the online age, do I really have to say it? Enough with the ancient friend codes and whatnot. A huge audience would be attracted to the Switch if they could easily play with friends, even more if Nintendo added their equivalent to trophies and achievements.

 

3. More Third-Party Support

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Finally Nintendo has a lot of support from third-party developers, much like the old days. But I still feel like they need a little bit more, specifically Rockstar. Come on, who doesn’t want a portable Red Dead Redemption 2? Even though I’m sure it’s impossible to run on the hardware, I’m excited and slightly hopeful.

 

2. Metroid/Long Awaited Sequel

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Again, if you haven’t seen my previous post on Axiom Verge, check it out because I discuss my love for Metroid, specifically the 2D games. But hey- if a new 3D Metroid is announced then I’m all for it; it might even give me a chance to give Prime it’s billionth chance with me.

But I’m not just limited this to Metroid, any long awaited sequel people have been waiting for from Nintendo. Whether it be another F-Zero, Super Mario RPG 2, anything dream-worthy that seems unlikely to be announced; imagine it’s going to be announced tonight.

 

1. Good Price

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If Nintendo makes the same blunder they did with the 3DS and Wii U, they won’t make a cent. This console needs to repeat what the original Wii did, appeal to hardcore fans and the casual fans while being easy to buy thanks to a small price. If the Switch starts at $249 my chances of buying one immediately skyrocket. If it’s $299 then I’m fifty-fifty. It’s it’s $399, well sorry Switch but I’m getting the Wii U version of Breath of the Wild.

This one is not only huge for me personally, but for Nintendo who I really want to succeed with this new system.

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Either way guys, thanks for reading and what do you hope to see be announced tonight? I hope you’re all excited!

Axiom Verge Review: A Look Deeper into Originality

I won’t tip-toe around it, I’m losing faith in Nintendo. I know they’re putting all efforts into their coming-soon Switch Console, but recently they’ve left their fans out to dry. The ones suffering pretty vocally are the Metroid fans. Skipping over the Federation Force drama, it’s been six years since the last Metroid, and ten since the last generally loved one (Prime 3). Personally I don’t like 3D Metroid, however I adore the 2D games and it’s been fifteen years since the last original 2D Metroid! So Nintendo, what happens when you take too damn long to make a new Metroid? Other people start to make it.

Enter Axiom Verge, a game by indie developer Tom Happ; a man targeting people like me, 2D Metroid fans. Finally a sale came and so I bought it hoping to scratch that itch, but I found more than just a game, I also got a question.

Originality; where does it begin and where does it end?

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Axiom Verge’s setup is kind of weird. The story starts as follows; scientist Trace is working in a laboratory in New Mexico. During one of his experiments an explosion occurs and well…he wakes up on an alien planet. It’s odd but a good first impression, I don’t typically think of cinematics when it comes to 2D Metroid so it’s pretty cool that Tom Happ’s game is story driven.

And then the gameplay- it’s great. Tight platforming. Precise shooting. Overall Responsive. Who doesn’t want that?  It feels like you think it would, it feels like…Metroid.

There’s where my question comes into place. How much praise does Axiom Verge deserve when it so clearly owes it’s existence to another franchise? Just look at the picture above, the walls and backgrounds, the save pod and the tunnel-door on the bottom right- they just ooze Metroid atmosphere. Just replace the sprite of Trace with Samus and not many people would be able to tell the difference. In my first thirty minutes I had fun with Axiom Verge but I felt like it was too much of another product.

But then I got my first couple of upgrades.

In Super Metroid I remember being blown away by the Grapple Beam. I didn’t think such an amazing power-up could be done in a 2D platformer. That’s how I feel with a lot of Axiom Verge’s abilities. The actual weapons are hidden and aren’t needed to progress, but other gadgets like a remote drone, teleportation device and bombs are. I found myself intrigued on how my new gear could take down enemies and bosses. And I never knew there could be so many different types of guns for a 2D game.

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As for the presentation itself, it’s not bad either. Some tunes got stuck in my head and I always found the scenery at least a little bit cool to look at. So let’s sum up my compliments; good Metroid feel, cool gadgets, nice scenery. Ok, not bad. But now comes all the things I didn’t like about Axiom Verge…

When it comes to these 2D games with big maps open to backtracking, I don’t go searching for 100% completion because I know I just don’t need it. I beat Axiom Verge with 48% item completion; maybe that’s why I found the game so damn hard. At the half-way point Axiom Verge became rage worthy with faster and stronger enemies, bosses that rely solely on size and insane attack patterns and tricky platforming. As I’m writing it down I’m realizing that it’s refreshing to play a game that doesn’t make you stronger just by completing the story- you need to put in extra work to get stronger in Axiom Verge.

However the difficulty is also unbalanced, some bosses (a certain bee) made me want to rip my hair out but then the next ones would be either optional or simple to defeat. The final boss was one of the easiest in the game! Not to mention that I beat two of the bosses with cheap exploits (yes, I’m bad at games). If some of the focus on gear and map size were put into the bosses I would’ve left a lot less frustrated.

If Axiom Verge was it own completely original product then I’d say it was a really good game albeit some spotty difficulty, boring story and lack of direction. But it’s not; which brings me back to my main point.

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I’ll give Tom Happ props for the weapons, gear, story, even the rage-worthy bosses but that’s it. Otherwise it really looks and feels like one of my favorite games ever, Super Metroid. Some enemies have identical movements and attack patterns, and the aforementioned Grapple Beam was practically copied. Maybe I’m wrong though; maybe it’s more original than I give it credit for, or maybe it’s less.

I hate to be the guy who didn’t love Axiom Verge because it was made by just one guy who obviously has good taste in games; but I bought this game for $10 which is half-off and I’d recommend waiting another year for a $5 sale truthfully.

During my time with Axiom Verge I had some fun, some rage and some boredom. Overall it’s a decent game.

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I’ve decided in my reviews I’ll leave you beautiful readers with a question in hopes to spark up interesting conversations in the comments.

In video games at least, where do you believe originality begins and ends? Some examples would help, especially if you think I’m wrong in my review of Axiom Verge.

Thanks for reading!

Top 5 Studio Ghibli Films

– by Dylan D

As we get older and older it’s harder to relate to the child still within us all. We’ll always be children at heart, but it’s pretty difficult to forget about school, work, bills, family and whatnot just so you can have the innocent fun of being a kid. My freshman year of college I was living away from home; never in my life did I feel like such an outcast. I’d bottle myself up in my dorm room whenever I didn’t have to go to class. There were a few rays of light in those dark times; one of them being Studio Ghibli.

If you don’t know who Studio Ghibli is, that’s pretty fair. Most of their movies are marketed by Disney in the United States, but they’re not actually the ones creating these animated adventures, it’s Ghibli. Anyway, for over a week in college every night I would bundle up in blankets and watch one Ghibli film of my choice. By now I’ve seen the majority and love the company for their amazing animation detail, magical feeling and grand themes. These movies made me feel like a kid again; they helped me smile during a time where that seemed impossible, and for that I love them.

And I know I’m three days late, but Hayao Miyazaki, Happy Birthday. Thank you for the endless inspiration.

 

5. Kiki’s Delivery Service

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It’s hard for me to put Kiki down at the bottom of this list because it’s the first Ghibli movie I actually liked during my marathon. The main character Kiki is a kind young woman who sets out to find out her “skill”, like all witches do (told you there was magic).

What follows is a kind, gentle and thoughtful story wrapped around a beautiful setting and great cast of characters. The English voice cast of Kirsten Dunst, Phil Hartman (R.I.P) and more convey the emotions perfectly.

Kiki’s Delivery Service tackles themes of writers block and finding inspiration; it’s a movie that can teach both the kid and adult within you. And for something made in 1989, it still looks fantastic.

 

4. Grave of the Fireflies

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I love Japanese entertainment because of how stark it is compared to American entertainment. Think of any American war movie. They’re usually about soldiers rising to glory, with a few tragedies along the way. Very rarely do you see the civilians side of war.

Grave of the Fireflies taught me to count my lucky stars and feel gifted to live where I do. Unfortunately for the siblings Seita and Setsuko, they live in Japan during World War II where it was pretty normal to be attacked on a daily basis. Seita being the older brother tries to provide something along the lines of a good life to his little sister, but it’s obviously a struggle with the war going on.

Lately Grave of the Fireflies has seem to be criticized in certain areas but if you’ve seen this movie and didn’t feel anything then I’d be genuinely shocked. The themes of love, survival and the entire concept of war are tackled wonderfully.

I know the director of the film, Isao Takahata, says that his film isn’t anti-war; but damn if it doesn’t feel like it. Hayao Miyazaki (director and writer of many Ghibli films) basically taught me throughout his movies that war is pointless. If I ever want to make that point to my friends or family, Grave of the Fireflies is going into the DVD player.

 

3. Princess Mononoke

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Human life isn’t the only life that Ghibli films teach viewers to respect, don’t forget about nature.

It may seem like blasphemy to not put this in the number one spot so I’ll explain. I love this film for it’s heroic and truly epic main characters Ashitaka and San; their motivations and dedication throughout the movie are always explicitly stated and felt. I’m putting all the chips on the table and saying that Princess Mononoke has the best scenery in any animated film ever. The dream-like forests, valleys and mountains are stunning even in it’s 1997 animation.

Ashitaka, the amazing landscapes and grand story make me feel like this is the closest we’ll get to an animated Legend of Zelda film. But beyond that comparison lies a cinematic masterpiece in its own right.

My only gripe with the film is the last third; everything seemed to get wrapped up too quickly and things didn’t work out the way I pictured. But besides that, the messages of protecting the environment scream even louder today when we live in a world of global warming. Miyazaki and Ghibli struck gold once again.

 

2. Whisper of the Heart

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Yeah, say something! I like a corny love movie over a fantasy-epic like Mononoke, so what?

Let me explain. I live in New York City, and I’m at the time of my life where I need to soon figure out what I’m going to do with my life. Whisper of the Heart SCREAMS to me at the moment. It wasn’t until my second viewing that the messages really spoke out to me.

Yes it’s a little bizarre that middle school kids are so fixated on what jobs they’ll have for the rest of their lives and who they’ll marry. But if you can get around that and see that age doesn’t matter and they’re still people with the same problems as us, then it touches you.

Whisper of the Heart also speaks out to me because of the desire to create. The main characters all want to make something with their lives and inspire others, just like me and many others. I was absolutely captivated by the peaceful vibe this movie had and the messages it was sending to me.

It made me ask myself: “Have I ever met someone with a dream so strong they inspired me to chase my own?”

Beautiful. No other movie has done that to me. That’s why Whisper of the Heart triumphs over a fantasy-epic like Princess Mononoke in my eyes.

 

Now allow me to contradict that last statement.

 

 

 

 

 

1. Castle in the Sky

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It’s Sunday. You’re off of work. Rain drips down the gutters and bounces off your roof. There’s nothing to do and no reason to go outside. I’m sorry Princess Mononoke, but Castle in the Sky is the animated adventure movie in my eyes.

Where do I start? I’m willing to make the bold statement that Castle in the Sky is to movies as Treasure Island is to books; it’s a fantasy staple. The main character Pazu is selfless, his main goal isn’t as basic as Ashitaka saving his own life. No, Pazu wants to prove his dead father wasn’t a liar. Sheeta wants peace, and doesn’t contradict herself by fighting for that peace. Muska the villain wants power that he believes belongs to him. Dola and her gang grow maybe more than anyone in the movie. Each character has real and personal motivation, because of that each character (even the quiet robot) is almost addictive to watch.

For their very first film, Studio Ghibli didn’t cheap out on the detail. The busy city streets are beautiful and contrast wonderfully with Laputa. Laputa is one of the best settings I’ve seen in an adventure film and hits the same level of quality as Princess Mononoke’s scenery.

The main theme here is preservation; just like Mononoke, saving nature and fighting for what you believe in is the definition of the film.

It may run a little long but each scene is jam packed with something to feel and something to enjoy. Castle in the Sky has it all: adventure, dreams, love, change, evil to triumph over, and most of all, meaning.

 

So there you have it, just five of many great films made by Studio Ghibli. If you haven’t seen any of their films, I’d recommend doing what I did and watch one a night for a week. It’s a fun way to unwind after a day of work/school.

Thanks for reading, let me know your favorite Ghibli movie down in the comments!

Erased Review: Nostalgia and Dread

I’ve always considered myself a light anime viewer, usually going for the more popular stuff like Dragon Ball, Cowboy Bebop, etc. I never got into the ‘winter anime season’ and usually don’t keep up with the most current shows. Last year in 2016 I kept hearing more and more about winter anime and why they were so good. While I was glad to see the medium getting enjoyed out of it’s homeland, I didn’t care too much. One title I heard much about in particular was Erased. Welp, after being a year late I can safely say no show has intrigued me quiet like Erased in a very long time. Let’s take a look why.

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*Light spoilers from the first of twelve episodes. This is a review but I’m also trying to get readers interested in watching this amazing show. If you want to go spoiler-free, do so because I recommend it. But if you need some convincing, keep on reading.*

Erased is a show that that should immediately relates to 99% of people. By that I mean our main character, Satoru Fujinuma is an adult man filled with regret and failure. He keeps on telling himself “if only I did this when I was younger”. Let’s face it, who hasn’t had that very thought echo in their head multiple times?

Satoru (for quite some time apparently), has an ability he dubs as Revival. Revival sends Satoru back just a few moments before a death that would occur near him; thus giving him time to prevent said death.

Without spoiling too much, Satoru experiences a Revival so strong and personal to him that it sends him back to 1988, thus making him eleven years old once more.

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Satoru gets what many of us had hoped for; a second chance, thus keeping the viewer immersed and most likely a little jealous. But it isn’t all sunshine and rose petals for our hero; he must interfere with a very long chain of events in order to prevent a death in the current day (2006). What results is a see-saw of nostalgic themes and moments of dread.

What really intrigued me is eleven year old Satoru still keeps his mind and emotional capacity of his twenty-nine year old self. Being a child is kind of like a colorful blur which is fun but at the same time you don’t really understand what’s going. One scene that illustrates this perfectly is early in the series when Satoru comes home from school and sees his mother feverishly cooking dinner. He realizes (through his adult mind) that he never fully appreciated his mothers hard efforts and love, so he thanks her unlike any other child. It’s a scene that I have no other words to label it but ‘beautiful’, and it’s not the only one.

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Satoru recites that in his previous childhood he was a bit socially-distant. He had friends but never opened up fully emotionally, thus preventing his relationships to grow. Not only does he change this but he gets involved with people he never did before, like one such Kayo Hanazuki. Satoru and Kayo’s relationship is quite heartwarming and made me smile more than anything in the past few shows I watched.

Even though there are only twelve episodes, characters change as more gets revealed about them and as Satoru “reroutes” his history with them. Kayo specifically changes and it’s very satisfying to see that unfold.

I’m keeping many elements vague in this article; there are many characters I’m not mentioning and for good purpose. Erased is an emotional show because it links two things not easily connected- present day and childhood. It’s something that anyone can relate to, especially through all the sheer detail and heart that went into crafting this animated wonder.

I freaking loved hearing the Japanese school children in the background talk about their progress in Dragon Quest III; which actually did come out in February 1988, the very month the show takes place in! In fact just like the Persona series of video games, it taught me some things about Japan, the school system and daily life.

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It’s the simple concept of the shows adventure which gripped me. I adore the fact that at one second I could be smiling like a giddy child, fist-pumping in the air because Satoru did something right- but at the next second be scared and pissed because of some surprisingly dark and intriguing themes. Like I said; nostalgia and dread.

Conclusion:

Erased is a mystery/drama show at first glance, but at heart it’s about relationships with people, courage and living life. From beginning to end it’s a thrilling emotional roller-coaster that stimulates both the child and adult within us all. While I do believe there are a couple (two to be exact) plot points that could’ve been fleshed out more; it is a magnificent story I believe everyone should give a try. Erased single-handedly changed my level of appreciation for anime, and I won’t fall behind this winter season.

Thank you for reading and let me know your opinions on Erased and other anime down in the comments!

2017 Blog Update! (1/5/17)

-Dylan D

Hey blogging brothers and sisters; I know I tried to give an update in my last post but I decided to give myself a whole page dedicated to how 2017 is going to go for me.

First off, my name is Dylan and I love writing about entertainment and emotional themes, sometimes I like to delve into philosophy. Not only would I like to be able to steer someone towards a good purchase or vice versa; I’d like to give people a good reason to appreciate things for a deeper reason.

Do you think Dragon Ball is a show just about some kid running around, screaming and punching things? I’d argue not.

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One day I hope to make a job out of what I love doing. So I guess it’d be like a journalism gig- who knows maybe one day I can start up a big website dedicated to entertaining thought pieces.

Anyway, this blog is like a stepping stone for me, a way to hop into the ring. So here’s what’s up:

Last time I said I would only post on Sundays- I’m not doing that anymore. On average I’d like to write two pieces a week, but I won’t keep myself to a strict schedule due to quality concerns.

Here are the types of posts you can expect from me:

Top 5/10’s

Reviews

Opinion Pieces

Versus

Essays

(Always a chance I add more!)

The first two are obvious but the Opinion Pieces are just going to be posts where I discuss, well- opinions. An example would be ‘Why the gaming industry cares less about fans’

The Versus series will be when I put up two of anythings I believe can be compared, could be  TV shows or video games. I’ll then grade individual aspects they share and explain who I think does it better.

Lastly, Essays will focus on why I personally love something. In Reviews I discuss that topic but also while trying to convince my reader to try the show/game/book I’m reviewing. In Essays I’m not going to try and convince anybody. Do you hate Digimon? Cool, well let me give you an idea of why people I don’t.

Now I gotta be honest with you guys, I’m struggling in one place:

Review scores

Are they arbitrary or are they purposeful? I truly do read the blogs I comment on and I like to believe others are doing the same to my work. Review scores are like bait to just scroll to the bottom and skipping over the whole heart of the article. Is it counter-intuitive to spout heart-filled thoughts on something and then slap a grade on it like it’s a biology test?

Think about it; we may rate one game an 8/10 and another a 10/10 but we may prefer the 8/10 because it’s more colorful and generally fun or because we have fond childhood memories of it.

So here’s what I’m going to do right now:

I’m ditching the idea of a numerical score, but in doing so I’m going to focusing more efforts on the conclusion paragraph so if I have any speedy-readers who want an answer quick, they can just read that. But if I ever feel like my blogs popularity is going downhill, I have no choice but to bring them back.

If you guys have any counter-arguments to my review score idea, I’d love to hear them below in the comments!

PlayingWithThoughts is also a platform for my friends who like writing, so every now and then you may just see an article posted by a friend of mine. My good pal Vinny has been helping me fill up this blog. I think in 2017 it’ll be mostly be me, but don’t forget to check out the author on the top of articles!

Anyway, thank you guys so much for entertaining me, I hope I do the same for you. Get ready for a lot of anime related articles because man have I been binge-watching. I hope you all the best this year!

 

Top 5 Video Games of 2016 (Update at the Bottom!)

-by Dylan D

I remember being in 8th grade with not a worry in the world. It was 2011 and everyday during recess me and my friends would discuss what games we’d play on Xbox Live that night (perhaps we should’ve been playing tag or something). To me 2011 was the best year in gaming, but 2016 is the closest year I’ve come to hitting that same mark. There’s no question that I’ve could’ve added more games to this list, ones I didn’t even play but was endlessly captivated through let’s plays; but I didn’t think it was fair to add a game I didn’t personally experience. I also won’t be added games I didn’t see all the way through (sorry Final Fantasy XV. These five games took away chunks of my life this year, and I don’t regret it one single bit.

5. Pokémon Sun and Moon:

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There’s no other video game franchise I’m nostalgic for more than Pokémon. I have countless memories battling gym leaders, exploring worlds and always failing at catching them all.

Sun and Moon did a great job at not only celebrating the series’ 20th anniversary, but also at spicing things up by getting rid of gym leaders, adding variants to certain Kanto Pokémon and giving us an Hawaiian theme, which feels totally unique for the series. I certainly wouldn’t say the games are perfect, but they got me addicted once again. I love the trials replacing gyms, I love the lack of HM’s, I love the Alolan forms and most importantly I love Alola. This duo may be the swan song for the 3DS, and it’s certainly a good one.

4. Stardew Valley

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I was never that big into the Harvest Moon series; and maybe it’s all the crappy ones they make for 3DS or the endless farm games for mobile, but I lost all faith in this type of game.

But anytime an indie game gets a lot of hype I decide to check it out and man did Stardew Valley captivate me. It’s not entirely unique since the developer has stated obvious inspirations from Harvest Moon, but Stardew Valley takes certain concepts and makes them it’s own.

Running around and trying to become rich while starting from nothing is an exciting and also motivating goal. I had fun chopping down crops and selling them, or going into the mines and seeing what treasures await me. On the flip side, socializing with the villagers and learning more about them was quite interesting. I swear, it feels like I’ve met these types of people in real life.

I’m not the type of guy to sink two or three hundred hours into my favorite games, my usual is twenty unless I replay it. Stardew Valley kept me interested for almost fifty hours, which is impressive considering it’s main concept.

3. Uncharted 4

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Can you hear that incredible theme music yet?!

Seriously there’s just nothing like sitting back with an Uncharted game; they’re so simple and yet so fun. Naughty Dog obviously can make complex games a la The Last of Us but with Uncharted they keep it easy: shoot and puzzles. Somehow with that simplicity they’ve created some of the best characters I’ve come across during my virtual travels.Elena, Victor Goddamn Sullivan and Chloe all make great supporting characters.

Uncharted 4 takes all the things I loved about the series and added more great tools and optional mechanics like stealth, lassos and a special rock climbing tool.

I won’t say too much more because the story is like the biggest focus here, but damn if Uncharted 4 almost didn’t make me cry. I love it and Naughty Dog showed the world how an ending is done.4 and 2 fight for my favorite spot of  the Uncharted games. If you haven’t played any of them you seriously should, they’re so easy to pick up and play now on PS4. I hope to see Nate Drake once more…

2. Overwatch

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I like games that take risks, and in such a stale genre like the FPS, Overwatch took a risk. Gone are the days of gray repetitive shooters. Blizzard has created the newest huge franchise to take off with fans. Even though my days as an Overwatch member are over (refuse to pay for PS Plus anymore), I had so much fun sinking over thirty hours into the online just blasting away friends and trying to secure the damn checkpoints.

I definitely wish the sweet Loot Boxes weren’t such a paywall but other than that I can’t think of much to dislike in Overwatch. It’s exciting and it’s different. It’s cool to play an FPS where the main point isn’t just killing one another but to actually work as a team.

I hope Overwatch keeps growing with DLC throughout the next few years because it’s a great time to be had.

1. The Witness

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You may not like him or this game but Jonathon Blow’s The Witness is revolutionary in game design. Gone are the stupid text tutorials that flood your screen, or the baby hand holding. The Witness just drops you in the middle of this mysterious world which is literally one giant puzzle.

It’s up to you with no help at all to figure everything out. I think what I enjoyed the most about The Witness was the genuine sense of growth and learning I gained with absolutely no help, everything I learned and everything I did was a product of my own thoughts (except like the twenty puzzles I looked up…)

When you’re solving that last puzzle before the credits it’s amazing to think back on the very first puzzle you did and to see how far you’ve come.

If you’re a story buff, well then The Witness may be one of two things to you: boring or endlessly fascinating. It’s a minimalist tale with many areas open to interpretation, I love that.

You seriously can’t go wrong with Jon Blow’s mind-bending adventure game.

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Well guys, that’s it for my top five games of 2016! Sorry it’s been so long you’ve heard from me. I’ve decided since it’s just me running the site (sometimes my friend Vinny posts articles here), that I’m going to be posting more quality blogs over quantity. Expect a post every Sunday about either current games, movies and media. Thanks so much for reading and here’s to a great 2017!