Nintendo at E3 2017

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Another year, another E3, and that means another blog post from me. As with previous years, I went into the whole thing, not just Nintendo’s part, with few expectations. While I found some of the releases from Sony/Microsoft/Ubisoft intriguing if a bit unsurprising (though, hey, “Beyond Good & Evil 2” is actually coming), my heart was set on Nintendo like always. This year, I had the strong feeling going in that their main focus would be on the Switch, and I was quickly proven right by their Spotlight/Direct. I won’t be reviewing that in the traditional sense, as I’ve already made my stance on preferring the Treehouse segments to the initial presentation, but I was still a little surprised that it focused solely on the Switch and excluded 3DS games and indie titles.

Speaking of the Switch, while I don’t own one yet, my fiance and I fully intend to pick one up. I already want to play “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” and a lot of what I saw at this year’s E3 was just as enticing. The biggest one was, of course, “Super Mario Odyssey” which looks like a blast to play and full of goodies to collect. I loved the emphasis on exploration and the lush environments, but it was the possession ability that sealed the deal for me. Besides that, I knew immediately that I’d want to play both the new Kirby and Yoshi games coming out next year. They’re so adorable, colorful, and I can see myself enjoying them whether playing alone or with others. But the biggest surprise for me in terms of something I wasn’t sure about before E3 was “Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle.” I’m one of those people who don’t mind the Rabbids, even though Rayman is far better, but what I was immediately drawn to was the core idea behind this game. Matching the usual Mario exploration with tactical-style battles sounded bizarre at first, but seeing it in action was awesome. It’s just such a cool, fresh concept to attach the Mario franchise to.

Now, if I had to make complaints, I do feel a quick blip of gameplay or CG trailer for “Metroid Prime 4” and the unnamed Switch Pokemon game would’ve been nice. I also would’ve liked to see some titles for both eshops, even though I’m currently low on funds. My biggest gripe, however, was the lack of 3DS games. I know the system is old now and it’s hard to say how much longer it’ll last, but I would’ve loved to see that extra bit of support for it. Aside from Nintendo showing some additional gameplay for “Ever Oasis”, which comes out next week, we only got four new 3DS titles. “Sushi Striker: Way of the Sushi” is a quirky puzzle/matching game due out next year. I liked how cartoon-y and fast-paced it was, though I can’t see myself playing it. Still, it was a brand new title and was at least different from the usual Nintendo fare. There was also the Mii-centric RPG “Miitopia”, which came out in Japan already and is coming here this summer. I tried the demo but felt it was better off as either a Mii Plaza game or something to be bought cheap.

The other two games were remakes, with “Metroid: Samus Returns” being one for the Gameboy “Metroid II” and a revamped version of “Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga” from the Gameboy Advance. I don’t have plans to get “Mario & Luigi” as my fiance and I own the whole series in its original form, but it had updated graphics like those in “Dream Team” and an additional game mode called Minion Quest. As for “Metroid: Samus Returns”, I was actually pretty impressed by it. I haven’t attempted to play a Metroid game since the original on NES and still have to try my copy of “Metroid Prime” (the first one). But what I like about this remake is how it cuts down on a lot of the backtracking these games are famous for. You can mark out locations that you’ll need to revisit once you have better abilities/equipment, and, even better, a teleport system to fast travel around maps. These elements combined with the pretty slick graphics and gameplay I saw actually has me considering picking up the game this September.

So, overall, this year’s E3 was alright. Despite a disappointing lack of 3DS support and no new eshop reveals, the games they DID show have me wanting a Switch more than when it launched. Like last year, I also enjoyed perusing the Treehouse’s demonstrations and hearing each developer excitedly delve into their games. And, as a nice treat for both Ubisoft and Nintendo fans, it was great to see Miyamoto having a blast on an E3 stage for once. So farewell for now, E3. It’ll be fun to see what you’ll offer up next year.

Post-Trip Recollections

Well, after four-ish days of going from Montreal to Cornwall, Ontario to Ottawa, my parents and I returned home Friday night. It was a nice if too brief trip and I thought I’d share it here.

Tuesday was easily the busiest day, of course. We had to fly out by 7:15am and bummed around Montreal’s airport until my aunt could pick us up before noon. From there, we got a little lost as we made our way to downtown Montreal. My aunt’s boyfriend had put in the right street but wrong number, so we ended up backtracking to Medisys (the site for my medical exam). After being forced to park along the street (pretty packed area), my parents joined me as I headed to the 11th floor and waited at reception. Since they’re a clinic that also does general exams besides immigration ones, it was a little busy. After filling out some general health forms, I was soon called by a doctor for a physical examination. It was quick and not too in-depth, which was nice. From there, the next hour or two was spent alternating between waiting and going with doctors for an x-ray, bloodwork, and eye exam. I thankfully didn’t have to get any vaccinations done, and when I went up to pay, I opted to have them mail the results to me. I’ll be checking on that this week just to be safe, but I’m just glad the whole process was pretty smooth sailing.

After getting out of some insane traffic, we made our way to Cornwall and basically relaxed at my aunt’s house the rest of the day. Wednesday was also a laid back day. My parents went for walks to some stores and an outdoor market, while my cousin and I spent time talking to each other and surfing on our computers. I even got some sun and took a walk down to the closest gas station to pick up munchies and some slushies for us. We wrapped up that day playing Phase 10 (a card game) with my mom, and my cousin easily beat us. She’s had way too much practice (lol).

Thursday, much like Tuesday, was also pretty busy but in a fun way. We took my cousin to a care home after lunch (she’s in a wheelchair) and met some of her friends there. They hang out and make things like stuffed animals, scented candles and jewelry. It gives them something to do for an afternoon and they even get to sell their stuff for a small profit. My mom was more than happy to oblige and picked up some gaudy rings and a stuffed Detroit Red Wings bear for my dad. We left the place around 3pm, and after picking up my aunt’s boyfriend, we made our way to the US border. There’s a reserve just past it that houses an enormous casino, easily the biggest one I’ve been to so far. While my aunt’s boyfriend went to gamble after helping us sign our for memberships, the rest of us grabbed food in preparation for the casino’s nightly bingo. It was also the biggest bingo I’d been to and it was a bit hectic to keep up with, since the caller was fast and you could look at TV screens to see each ball as they came up. It also didn’t help that my mom had convinced me to try playing 18 cards at once, so those games were kinda stressful. Still, we had a lot of fun and even found a little time for the casino. We didn’t win anything in the end in either case, but I’d definitely go back if given the chance.

Finally, my aunt drove us out with my cousin in tow to Ottawa’s airport the next morning so we could catch our flight back home. We weren’t too sad to leave them as they’ll be visiting us at the end of August, but it was a quicker trip than we normally would’ve liked. Despite this all initially being for me to do my medical exam, I’m glad we made a mini-vacation out of it. Now I’m just excited for the 24th to get here, ’cause my fiance and I will get a mini-vacation of our own.

Owning Up

While I’ve been extremely excited to pursue my fiance visa, there is one thing I’ve still been worried about. It’s a thought that tends to pop up once a month (usually during that time of the month) that highlights the one part of my life I’m still not happy with: job stability. Moving to the States will be exciting and scary for various reasons, but one thing I’m both happy and worried about is getting a fresh start on the job front. I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it, but I want to take this time to clear the air.

I’ve mentioned my job woes on this blog a few times, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized just why I’m so unhappy about my situation. Sure, I have my regrets about not being able to afford to move or not bothering to get my own vehicle. Either of those options might have allowed me to find work in the city or at least commute there. And yes, I’ve been consistently down about the lack of work I’ve found. My resume is spotty at best and mostly consists of entries from fast food restaurants. That’s definitely NOT what I had in mind after my college years. Adding to that, I’m still sad that I haven’t been able to really dig deep and use the skills I acquired from taking journalism courses. I can live with only having two years under my belt, but I’m pretty sure many of the things I learned those 8-9 years ago are outdated by now.

But the thing I feel is the source of my unhappiness is a lack of confidence. When I first started working, even though I hated being at McDonald’s, I did my best and was confident that I’d find better work. Over the years, that confidence has start dwindling. The first real blow I felt was during my second last fast food job. My boss was condescending and I felt uncomfortable working there. I made mistakes (the kind where you get physically hurt – it was a kitchen after all) and often felt like I couldn’t do anything right. From there, I eventually went on to yet another fast food job and… Well, unlike all my prior jobs, I didn’t leave of my own volition. I was let go, and it devastated me because that was the one job in that field I was actually enjoying (mainly because of my coworkers).

I never had the best self-esteem growing up, but I feel like it’s at an all-time low when it comes to my job situation. I’ve reached a point where I question whether I’m even good enough to do the job. Anything I can do, someone else can do better. Now, I try my best to overcome these thoughts. Everyone is good at something, even if others might be more skilled or experienced. But I still sometimes feel like I’m not good at any one thing. My current job involves cleaning, and while I’m good at it, I know my mom (who has always had cleaning jobs) can do it faster and still make things look good. I edit videos for my fiance and, while I’m proud of the work I do, I know there are better editors than me that aren’t necessarily professionals.

Again, these aren’t thoughts that constantly go through my head day after day, but I feel that I owe it to myself to own up to them. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get a job that’s more worth my while, but I’m prepared to make ends meet if there’s no other option. I’ve started focusing on being more positive about all of it, because I don’t want this to beat me down. I’m trying to build my confidence and self-esteem back up, and I’m hopeful that being somewhere new will give me the boost I need.

Internet Personalities and Alter Egos

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It’s become something of a cliche or trope lately for some internet personalities to make videos or storylines based around alter egos. Granted, in the world of TV and movies, this isn’t a new idea. But for the world of internet videos, I can’t recall when I first came across this concept. My fiance and I utilized this idea when we made our first internet review show, but we were inspired to do so by others like Doug Walker, aka The Nostalgia Critic, and Lewis Lovhaug, aka Linkara. Both of them use exaggerations of themselves for their review shows, as well as dress up to bring in other characters. In Doug’s case, it’s for comedy or to branch out into other shows. In Lewis’s, it’s mainly for an ongoing story in his show. I even like it when creators apply a personality to something that doesn’t normally have one, such as watching TeamFourStar make up stories for their Pokemon in their various Nuzlocke series.

One thing that fascinates me is when a fandom either creates or gives backstory to alter egos. Most of the time, this is just something done within the community and without the input of the person or work surrounding it. I’ve always been a fan of lore, so I appreciate interpretations of alter egos and/or characters that aren’t given a backstory or have a vague one at best. For example, until recently, the fandom-created evil alter ego of Jacksepticeye, dubbed Antisepticeye, existed through stories and artwork that people built a backstory around. But I especially love it when the original creators get into these alter egos and make something of them. Markiplier has a plethora of them created mostly for skits that he recently brought back, and Jacksepticeye took the aforementioned idea of Antisepticeye and made it a video-based reality starting last October.

I can understand why alter egos wouldn’t be for everyone, but I personally love it when internet personalities use them. I’ve always been interested in the concept of alternate universes and by extension characters. I think it might have started with “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” or “Animorphs”, though I’m positive there were other influences between those. In the case of Doug or Lewis, I enjoy both usages of their various characters for the little bits of backstory we get as well as the storytelling aspects. As for producers like Mark and Jack, I adore how they’ve made a compromise between fleshing out their alter egos on their own and also incorporating ideas from their fans. There’s a bit of audience interaction there that I can get behind. At the end of the day, I’m a sucker for both some good lore and entertaining videos. Put them together and, for me at least, you have a winning combination.

Progress Report #2

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I didn’t expect to be blogging about this again so soon, but so much has happened in the past two days that I can’t help it. On Wednesday, our immigration lawyer sent off the last of our documents to the consulate as part of the third step of my visa application. Within the same afternoon, the consulate immediately sent instructions for the next step to myself, the lawyer, and my fiance, Richard. We were shocked at how quickly this happened and immediately started making plans with our lawyer.

To clarify, this fourth step involves me setting up appointments for my medical exam and eventual interview at the consulate. Because I wanted to make time for each thing and didn’t mind waiting a little longer, both of my appointments are scheduled at the beginning and end of June. I’m super excited and nervous, but mostly excited. I’m now that much closer to being with my fiance and it feels like it’s taken less time than I expected.

It’s hard to believe we’ve made it this far. In the course of our relationship, we’ve cherished our temporary yearly visits. However, we often talked about when the day would come when we could see each other permanently. And even though we’ve been engaged for over three years, neither of us were sure when that could happen. It’s just surreal to know that we’ve reached a point where that might become a reality.

I think this will be the last update I make on the subject until I know if I’ve been approved or denied for my visa. I’m being optimistic that I will be approved, mainly because we’ve had no major issues with this process so far. Wish us luck!

Disney Remakes

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You know, when it was announced that Disney would continue its trend of making live-action, loosely based versions of their animated films, I couldn’t help rolling my eyes and exclaiming, “What is the point?” I know that’s not an unpopular opinion, and it can definitely be argued that these remakes are meant to suck people in due to nostalgia. As for me, I basically shoved aside these remakes after Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” made me long for the colorful insanity of the animated film (and that’s not even one of my faves!).

But yesterday, I decided to watch the new live-action version of “Beauty and the Beast.” I had my criticisms, sure, but I’d be lying if the occasional bit of nostalgia didn’t get me sentimental. It had its good and bad points both including and excluding nostalgia, but it made me realize something. Up until these remakes were announced, I had no problem with adaptations of these stories. The animated Disney movies might be a huge part of my childhood, but other versions have existed both before and after them. The reason these ones bothered me all this time was obvious: It was Disney retelling Disney.

That’s not to say retreading old ground is always a bad idea. For example, I watched the 2016 version of “The Jungle Book” today and thought it improved on many things, even if it kept the musical aspects to a minimum. It proved that Disney could take one of its versions and change it just enough to let it stand on its own. With “Beauty and the Beast”, that line is arguably blurred. It added some moments that felt like padding to me and others that felt like they fleshed out Belle and the Beast’s budding relationship. It’s the fact that, as a musical, it follow similar beats to the animated movie that I’ve seen many people deem it pointless (I was guilty of that too before seeing it myself). I still understand where they’re coming from, even if I do think it’s a decent film. But both of these films were insanely successful. So, I think there’s an interesting argument to be made about whether to change things up or to mostly capitalize on nostalgia.

I think, at the end of the day, people want a good story and characters they can get behind despite that extra dose of nostalgia. We hold many of these stories in high regard because Disney made us care about them once upon a time. Remakes are always going to happen with or without Disney, just as they did before the Disney Renaissance existed. I now feel these remakes are less of a cash grab (though they DO make all the money) and, on a sentimental level, more of a chance for us to care about these stories again and view them in a different light. And while not everything they remake will be up to someone’s standards, I kinda have to give them kudos for that.

Progress Report

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I know I haven’t talked much about my ongoing visa process. Honestly, it’s because most of the time it’s been a waiting game. The government (both of them) can only move so fast with this stuff, and I know I’m not the only visa applicant out there. However, these past few months have had more progress than I, my fiancé, and even our lawyer have anticipated.

After my application was approved in early February, we waited throughout the rest of the month and all of March to find out the next step. At the start of this month, however, we were finally sent further instructions. We’re both now in the process of getting things together for the head consulate in Montreal so they can review our case. Once everything’s A-OK with that, I should then get instructions to make my medical and interview appointments.

That’s the step I’m looking forward to the most, even if it will be a bit nerve-wracking. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy we’ve made it this far and apparently in a fairly quick amount of time. But that next step will be the make or break point for me getting sent that visa card. I just want things to continue on this positive path we’ve made so I can get down to Florida and finally be with my man. I’m hoping we’ll have everything sorted out at least before my 30th birthday next year!

And despite some things feeling a bit slower because of us having a lawyer in the mix, I’m still satisfied with our decision to hire one. My fiancé and I both tend to worry about important things like this, and the last thing we wanted was to attempt this on our own and possibly end up making mistakes. I really don’t want to repeat this process if it can be helped, and I’m confident in both our relationship and our case that I’ll get approved by the end of all this. I’ll be making another update here in the future no matter what happens, but until then I’ll continue rambling about other aspects of my life.