It’s no small secret that I love my Kindle Paperwhite. It’s pretty much the perfect device for reading books both large and small. I know many people like using their phones or tablets for reading, but I always found the apps and notifications on those devices too distracting when I wanted to read. A new email or message from Facebook is the last thing I need popping up when I’m face-deep in a novel. Plus, I can’t really justify bringing a tablet over my Kindle when traveling, especially since (1) my phone can do many of the same tasks, (2) the battery life of a tablet pales in comparison to a Kindle, and (3) I really don’t personally enjoy the experience of reading on LCD screens compared to e-Ink.
I know many Americans are probably celebrating Independence Day by watching the 1996 Will Smith movie of the same name (or the recently released sequel), but not me. When I realized that all my Star Wars shirts were red, white, and blue, I knew that I’d be celebrating America’s birthday with Luke, Leia, Han, and the rest of the Rebel Alliance (plus some Ewoks).
Return of the Jedi even ends with fireworks and a giant explosion. What’s more American than that?!
Disney’s First Avenger
Back in 1991, long before Disney had any notion of one day buying Marvel, the company released a movie based on a little-known comic book superhero: The Rocketeer. I won’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of this film, especially since the 1991 Disney film most people are familiar with is Beauty and the Beast. What’s more, the late 80s and early 90s were a period of mostly-forgotten comic book-to-movie adaptations, including Darkman (1990), The Shadow (1994), and Dick Tracy (1990). Only Tim Burton’s two Batman films have survived in popular consciousness. I honestly forgot The Rocketeer existed for many years, although I recall seeing the VHS at my local video rental store during the mid-1990s (back when that was still a viable business). I’d heard good things about The Rocketeer in the last few years (particularly on The Incomparable podcast), so when I learned that this past week marked the 25th anniversary of the film, I decided to finally sit down and watch it.
Almost like clockwork, Pebble is back on Kickstarter with their next lineup of smartwatches.
It was only last year that I bought my very first Pebble watch, and at the time I wasn’t sure if I even had room for a wearable device in my life. Sure, there’s something inherently cool about owning a watch that would make James Bond or Dick Tracy jealous, but that doesn’t mean such a device would actually be useful day-to-day. Thankfully, it turned out that even if you ignore the extra “smart” features, the Pebble Time Steel is a fantastic watch. I never realized how useful it is to always have to current time on your wrist.
When it comes to technology and stuff on the internet, I’m usually not very far outside of the loop. I understood the appeal of social networks like Facebook and Instagram right away (heck, I was using Twitter before it was a household name). I see why emoji and stickers are so popular, although I don’t use them much myself. I own a smartwatch. I even saw the appeal of Google Glass, which at first blush I thought was “sci-fi movie” cool. But Snapchat? No matter how hard I try, I simply cannot wrap my mind around it.
When Nintendo confirmed this past week that, at least in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the character Link would remain strictly male, many people were understandably disappointed. The last few months had been full rumors suggesting there would at least be an option to play the game as a woman; even I not-so-secretly hoped the Internet Rumor Mill was right on this one. With so many conventions and tropes being thrown away for this new Legend of Zelda game, why not make the game even more inclusive to women by adding a female avatar? Some took the news as a slight against women, or further proof that Nintendo was still a “backwards” Japanese company; others – I think it’s fair to say – were indignant, even angry. Personally, I had the privilege to simply shrug my shoulders and say “maybe next time.”
However, those on the other side of this discussion were just as angry. In fact, they were furious at the very idea that Nintendo would – nay, should – let players flip the gender of a traditionally male (albeit very androgynous) videogame character. “Just another example of feminists trying to ram their beliefs down my throat,” they might say.
I wrote a letter to my Senator today, and I urge you all to do the same, especially if you care at all about the factors that led up to the recent tragedy in Orlando.
I’m lucky to have representatives who shares my beliefs. One of my Senators – Dianne Feinstein – is a proven leader with regards to common sense gun regulations. In the wake of the Orlando shootings, she proposed an amendment barring the sale of guns and explosives to known or suspected terrorists. She also helped lead the fight to pass the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban.
It’s not often that a game announcement at E3 surprises me. I knew going into E3 that the next Legend of Zelda game (now known to the world as “Breath of the Wild“) was destined to be on my “must play videogames” list. It almost didn’t matter what Nintendo announced. And outside of something like The Last Guardian or Persona 5, I did not expect any game at Sony’s E3 presentation that would actually make me want to buy a Playstation 4. I was able to comfortably sit out the Playstations 3 / Xbox 360 generation, and much of what I’ve been seeing this generation from Sony and Microsoft has been either remasters or sequels for games I was ambivalent towards the first time. I thought I knew what to expect this year.
How could I have known they were planning to reveal a new Spider-Man videogame?
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild looks like everything I didn’t know I wanted in the series.
True to their word, Nintendo really does seem to be rethinking all the gameplay tropes the Legend of Zelda series has built up over the past three decades. For instance, gone are the heart pieces that show up after defeating an enemy or cutting tall grass; instead, players will replenish hearts by eating food gathered on the overworld, like apples and boar meat (similar to Metal Gear Solid 3). Link can now gather and switch equipment on the fly, which brings the flavor of The Legend of Zelda closer to something like Diablo or Borderlands. Link also has the ability to climb any vertical surface, not just up ladders or vine-laden cliffs. And for the first time in history, there is a dedicated button for jumping. No more auto-jumping at ledges.
The time has almost come. E3 – the premiere videogame trade show – is just days away, which means the curtain will soon be lifted on dozens of games. Some of them will be known quantities – The Last Guardian, Kingdom Hearts 3, maybe even a new Halo – and others will be total surprises. Of all the games at the show, there’s only one that has me captivated, and that’s The Legend of Zelda for Wii U.
I’ve been a fan of the series for the better part of 20 years (starting with Ocarina of Time around ’98 or ’99), so naturally any new game announcement would be worth my attention. This time, however, there’s something else at play. The people at Nintendo say that they’re going “back to basics” and setting aside the conventions we’ve grown accustomed to over the years. They’re looking at games like Skyrim for inspiration. It’s intriguing stuff, to say the least, but it also means that for the first time in years no one is really sure what to expect.