Opinion on Starlink: Battle for Atlas

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About now some of you interested in gaming have heard about “Starlink: Battle for Atlas”. Given the price point of entry, a lot of regular gamers will want to try it out in digital or physical versions just for the sake its genre mash-up. As put by a few YouTubers, quite rapidly after release, this game should have been called Starfox’s No Man’s Skylanders. Obviously from the name, one can easily deduce what trifecta? it seems to heavily inspire on.

Ubisoft may have stricken gold with this in all forms. There is most prominently the physicality of the regular (non-digital) versions of the game. All console base versions come with a physical ship and a pilot, except for the Nintendo Switch version which comes with Starfox as a pilot along with his trusted Airwing ship and another pilot from the game’s story. This is all well known at this time and been covered by games media. Consequently, for those who rather dislike digital versions of games, they will necessarily try out the toys even if they never were quite fans of such things. Heck, some people may discover they like actually having a physical ship on their controller to maneuver the ship on screen. And let’s not forget the compulsive collectors… As a result, a percentage of buyers will end up purchasing an upgraded weapon or extra ship/pilot pack and what will this add up to? Bundles of cash for Ubisoft!

By now, from reviews and videos, a lot has been said concerning the gameplay etc. As a reminder, whatever version of the software you opt to buy, this is and remains the most Starfox game ever, even for those who do not have the Switch version ; it is also the No Man’s Sky we were promised on day one as well as a great Skylanders type of game (toys to life). Which explains the long moniker used to create the new title lol. Controls are satisfying for me, although it can take a while to remember Starfox strategies from my old days, they are important in order to easily survive.

I have to point out, if it weren’t obvious to some, how Ubisoft is doing an amazing support of the Big N of late. They even have the very latest Assassin’s Creed on the Switch, albeit in streaming version only. Sure, it’s only in Japan for now, but even if it never makes it to the West, the fact that it was *done* anywhere at all is amazing. We already saw during the 1st year of the Switch how surprisingly good Kingdom Battle was. It was a true Rabbids game (those guys are nuts!) and a true Nintendo game with an Xcom framework. One does begin to see the mash-up trend does one not?

Ubisoft showed well how certain games can translate “well” to the platform and how AAA Third Party games don’t need to be just ports of past iterations. And now, with this new IP, they have made a multiplatform game where the best version in terms of content(both digital AND physical) happens to be on the Nintendo Switch.

The other versions are great in terms of technical performance since they are on much stronger platforms. Nevertheless, having both a PS4 and a Switch, it was a no-brainer for me as to which version of Starlink would be worth my money. Starfox means something to me. It was the very first game I possessed on the N64 and one of those out of which I got the most enjoyment with my friends (split-screen battles!). With all the extra dedicated story content, seeing the characters in a space exploration action-adventure is awesome. Without them, without the related exclusive content, Starlink still feels like an open-galaxy (see the wordplay there?) Starfox without humanoid animals.

Ubisoft is on a roll with the Switch. I actually feel like trying the newest Assassin’s Creed although I had sworn them off after AC: Unity. There is hope that the company has taken a form I can like again. Needless to say, Starlink BfA is one game I highly recommend to at least try. I have completed so far the entire main story as well as the Starfox content. There is still much to do such as completely scanning the fauna and flora, getting rid of Outlaw bases (I annihilated the dreadnoughts as soon as I could though). It’s just too bad there doesn’t seem to be a demo available. It would be so much more beneficial to the publisher in my opinion. At least half those who would’ve experienced the demo would surely buy it( by the way, it’s almost half off the price at the moment at most retailers).

Boss Fight Books 17/19: advance reviews

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Books 17 and 19 of Boss Fight Books series happen to be from two different seasons. Book 17: Katamari Damacy is the final book of season 3 while Book 19: Shovel Knight is the second book of Season 4. Having read all the books released thus far, it’s quite striking to notice the difference in feel among them. Season 4 of BFB is dubbed “Creator Access Edition”. As the name suggests it focuses most on the different studios and people involved in the creation of the chosen focus of the books. In contrast, many of the past books in this series were so much more about describing the games themselves in their intimate entirety in regards to narrative, but also the relationship of the author to said games. I should point out then that one of the books which most related to the author was Spelunky, Book 11, written by Derek Yu….the games creator!

As a backer of the season 4 of Boss Fight Books on Kickstarter, I am entitled to the entirety of the series up to the current season. Nevertheless, I received advance copies of both books for the purpose of this review. A big thanks to BFB and Gabe Durham for this opportunity! On with the books…

**Katamari Damacy

kata

Katamari Damacy is one those strange quirky games that your best friends may frown upon when they see you playing it, but secretly itching to get their hands on the controller. In my mind, I have difficulty dissociating it from Patapon which elicited similar reactions from my peers whenever I was found enjoying it. As the author points out in this books, this is a work leaning most on great gameplay, novelty and fun. It is a work of art in that it can be interpreted in depth despite its simplicity, it presents not the shallowness often coupled to the superficial fluff of improved graphics at the time. To this day I do not really always care about how pretty a game can be; a lot of people are rediscovering this fact in themselves, the critical acclaim and the sales of Octopath Traveler attest to that.

As the final book of Season 3, Katamari Damacy takes an approach more similar to the books of Season 4. It focused a lot on the creator’s journey up to and beyond the release of the game. I felt a great parallel between it and Shovel Knight which releases with it in a few days. The author did a solid overview of certain culture particularities related to the Japanese which quite frankly would have gone way over our western heads had he not written about them. Those part are some of the most interesting, more creators should, with their cultures, be this unapologetic about their unique aspects.

**Shovel Knight

Shovel

This book takes a very investigative approach to its subject. It is very more in line with my thoughts on what creator access should be, and very special in that it is as much the story of WayForward (WF) as a company as it is about the IP itself. Many publishers have had their story told and retold in a way that we could actually recite them verbatim. Examples of this are Id Software, Nintendo, Square-Enix. The story of WF relates as they represent in a way the dreams of many of us gamers who dreamt of being creators, and at the same time, they have lived through some of the hard times that we can easily imagine happens when one takes the route of independent development. It is not difficult to understand that many such teams of developers never survived beyond a game or two. Following their journey towards themselves as a group of friends and colleagues become something bigger, then towards their dream which culminated in one awesome modern NES game, was a blast. Theirs was a true journey, with many downs but their ups reached some interesting peaks to balance everything out. I would not mean to spoil anything from the narrative, nevertheless, I must that it was amazingly serendipitous that so many of their favourite creators from the golden era of the NES/SNES could meet with them, even collaborate in Shovel Knight!

Both of these books achieve their goal and the research/interviews were well done for me. Naturally, I do find myself partial to any story of an indie studio, whether of success or failure. If Katamari Damacy had focused more on the big publisher (Namco) instead of the true creator hidden behind this corporate juggernaut, I would not have like it as much. I enjoyed both books, and I recommend both, especially Shovel Knight simply for the fascinating tale of Wayforward Studios. Both Boss Fight Books come out in a couple of days. They can be easily found on Amazon: Katamari Damacy (Boss Fight Books Book 17) and Shovel Knight (Boss Fight Books) or at Boss Fight Books.

Facets of reality

I’ve recently received a book series for my birthday, picked from a reading wishlist kept on Amazon. I populate the list with books I’ve been meaning to get myself but haven’t budgeted yet and also books I’ve read about in blogs or articles which seemed interesting enough to warrant a try.

The, here unnamed, gifter chose 3 books from an author that I had not heard about before, but they ended up on my list while I was reading an article found by chance, which concerned some interesting and yet not well-known (at least to me) pieces of Sci-Fi literature. On the same day, I added a few books that were coming out during the month of June (my birthday month). Among them were: The Freeze-Frame Revolution, Hybrid Child: A Novel (Parallel Futures), The Robots of Gotham and Summerland. The latter, written by Hannu Rajaniemi, was the most interesting entry for me. It was mentioned, in the paragraph presenting the then future release, that the author also wrote a book series called the “Jean le Flambeur” series which was heavily inspired by the Maurice Leblanc “Arsene Lupin” stories. The three books in the series are, in order: The Quantum Thief (Jean le Flambeur), The Fractal Prince (Jean le Flambeur), The Causal Angel (Jean le Flambeur).

Having looked for these books on Amazon after seeing the mention in the said article (which I cannot for the life of me retrace since I regularly delete browsing history), I was immediately seduced by the premise. Jean le Flambeur, the protagonist (s?) of the stories of the series was very much similar to Arsene Lupin if Lupin lived in a post-humanist world of an extremely morphed future. Needless to say, they appeared at the top of my wishlist along with The Book of M: A Novel, which I also recommend although it requires quite the suspension of disbelief, the happenings being potentially far more magical than scientific speculation/extrapolation (Incidentally, I still have not bought or read Summerland even though it initially was the book I was aiming for). This is not to say that the “le Flambeur” series is any more grounded, but that it rather wades in waters of possibility. Before going any further, I will admit that I did not at first read the author biography or any other information apart from his name on the cover. After reading the first book, I closed the back cover and carefully read the bio. Unsurprisingly, him having degrees in Math and Physics made so much sense, and I’m glad I held out on finding out until after the end.

For anyone not remotely interested in physics or quantum mechanics, these books can be major head scratchers. As I mentioned, Jean le Flambeur is the Arsene Lupin of the post-human future. If anything, by the turn of the last page of the third book he can seem as an archetypal god of mischief, tricky enough to trick himself many times over and across a vast mindscape of his “self”. Any respectable story dealing with physics addresses in some way the nature of reality, or even time travel which is a speck of the previous topic. Rajaniemi handles all of these themes, theories, and aspects in an interesting manner. The lens through which many subjects of quantum physics are observed is that of the mind. How real is a travel back to 1970 if done within a simulation so real that it can be almost indistinguishable from reality even by the keenest consciousness? How real are you, if you also can be other, even given body and with the same level of hierarchical privilege?

The Jean le Flambeur trilogy is a ride to be taken. Above all else, it is a heist story in which the thief is often also the detective. It is also a detective story in which the thief is striving to retrieve that which he himself stole…from himself. One does not an advanced degree in science to enjoy it far from that. Most Sci-Fi aficionados will appreciate how deep the author went deep into certain aspects of physics related themes with little to no hand-holding for the reader. You either figure it out while reading or Google some of the information for a better understanding. I am loath to say more without spoiling bits of the story. I do say bits, as it seems to me a difficult thing to spoil it all without completely writing one book.

As I pondered the intricacies of the three book spanning story, I recognized a familiar flavor at the back of my mind. Following the trail, I found what it reminded me of. There is an episode in Series 4 (or Season 4 for us west of the Atlantic), called USS Callister, from the Black Mirror TV Show. I wonder if it was inspired by this author’s work in a way. Then again, this is at heart mainly a heist/detective story of a gentleman Quantum Thief, the science is universal. The use of said elements of science is quite novel and I highly recommend reading this series, just as much as I recommend watching Black Mirror.

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New Book Published!

Time flew amazingly fast for me and before I knew it August moved in!

It has been an interesting time. A friend had been writing for quite a while but never got to the point of actually getting stories out there effectively, apart from episodic shares of one of them on Facebook. After some work together, editing, revising, beautifying, we finally got her published on the Amazon Kindle store!!!

French is our main language, consequently, it is the French edition of the book which is now available in Kindle format. A translated English version is in the works and should be ready soon if we can keep steam after all the current word count is at over 120K!

 

Irrévocablement liés… (French Edition)is a story of maternal love, intrigue, superstition anchored in the realities of the Haitian society. Click on the image above to go try it out and leave a review! There are more stories to come, this will encourage us more to share the many tales that live in our minds, and of course, show my friend Val that she really need to get those other books out there for all to read!!

Elaborated

Feb 11 2006, 4:44 PM


I’ve played Xmen legends during the past two months. Eventually, I finished it. Last week I started on Xmen legends II. Today I’ve already gotten to the final act, did the game get easier from the first to the second opus? Or am I just playing far too much? Or both?

And here is a subject all on its own: med student, last year, how will I play once I start internship? Who will be crazy enough to take the chance and start a family with a madman of gaming such as I? And the questions could go on and on. Oh well, I’ll never change and mostly because I don’t want to. End of discussion. I do hope to have heirs to carry my love of games. Maktoub”

Today’s one-word prompt gave me the idea to find some of my old writings, share them for those who’ve never seen them and Elaborate some ideas within, answer some questions I had left hanging.

X-men Legends was a good game, in my opinion. Fortunately I had written this little bit about it, otherwise, I would certainly not have even remembered it existed on my own. We have all seen many movies, read quite a few books and maybe even played hundreds of games (video, board, card, etc.). But those that really mark us we cannot really forget, for whatever reason that may be. If I would name one of each that marked me:

  • Book: Summer of Night, it’s an oldish one, I read it very young, my first of the Horror genre and it scared me immensely. I read it again about a year ago, I still like the book and I can absolutely see how it could have impacted me the way it did. I was in a school with a building as old as time, reminding me too much of the school the kids go to in the novel
  • Board game: Monopoly Classic Game. A silly but simple reason why. I was young, shopping for something new on Christmas, and the store owner’s daughter was or seemed rather “hot”. In retrospect, I cannot remember what feature qualified her as such to my young eyes, nevertheless, whenever I think of Christmas, I remember Monopoly and I remember her (Isabelle, gleaned from eavesdropping while looking around the shop).
  • Card game: Magic The Gathering. This was the first one I ever saw, tried and played. Back then, I felt that simply getting a hang of the rules was Magic in itself!
  • Video game: Final Fantasy VI. The original North American version, erroneously dubbed Final Fantasy 3 (while in truth it was the 6th game in the series), is the one that I borrowed from a friend one day on the schoolyard. I had little idea of what was in store, but I liked the name. It reminded me that ultra hard NES game I had once tried at another friend’s house. It became my favorite game for a very long time. As many can remember, the story was epic in its main path, but the side activities and the hidden quests related to each character truly open up the story. Both the lore and character development shine with personality, uniqueness. To this day, I still load up at least once a week some track from the Distant Worlds orchestral interpretations. My favorite music from FF6 is the Opera di Maria that the game’s character Celes Chere played in (as Maria)  🙂
  • Movie: if there is one movie that I could name despite having seen it so long ago, it’s Goonies! I rewatched just once about a decade or so ago and I was blown by how well I remembered e-ve-ry single scene as if I’d seen it just the day before. Yes, it’s rather old for some of you, it remains a timeless classic for me which can almost be said for the majority of Spielberg movies…

As for the last question….well, I’ve learned to tone down the intensity of the gaming somewhat. Or rather, I watered it down. By inserting short bursts of play in down times, whenever the significant other is busy, kid sleeping or busy, lunch breaks etc. I managed to still game (I’ve logged almost 200 hrs into Xenoblade Chronicles 2 this year!) while seeming not to. If everyone gets their quality time, who can complain really? As a consequence, it’s been almost 2 months since I last turned the PS4 on. My time has been mostly spent on portable gaming (3DS and the epically awesome Switch, my Vita disappeared more than a year ago….stolen? Unknown). There’s always a way to balance everything to some measure. It can just take patience to find it…

RTS

Vaguely she passes by,

As the shadow of my love sinks beneath

The weight of the contempt she bequeaths

This mournful heart, no less ignored than the merest fly

 

Vaguely she looks at me,

Wondering why I shrink beneath

Her puzzled eyes which in fire wreath

This dying soul, free never to be

 

Cards to my chest,

Vaguely I come closer

Laying my moves as I know best.

Nervous, near the brink…..No! Do not falter!

 

Steeling my heart, I play it cool

…And

Vaguely I ensnare her

Reeling her in, I play the fool

Praying it’s enough to win her

 

…To Vaguely hold her hand…

Forever

Wandering thoughts

Most posts can be rather short. Quite a few times, writers seem to have more strength than the rest of us to produce longwinded entries. Often I end up skipping over the longer ones. And occasionally, one can be so compelling as to grip for pages on. Even stories that do not usually interest me can suck me when written with so much heart.

I come to wonder at times, what is my expression? What am I trying to tell the world and how am I doing it? On certain days, on certain occasions, I can sit and tell entire stories in my head. Stuff that could truly take the whole day to tell. But it’s all in my head, and a few hours later I will forget most of the details from before. Funny thing is if I sit down and try to pour it all out onto paper or otherwise…it simply flies away like wisps of smoke! My story ends prematurely just by trying to give birth to it. It is about time someone invented the mindreading typewriter! Just sync it, forget it and think away. Then every evening would be the work of parsing through the clutter and keeping the stories that matter. Although, every thought I have will matter to me, right?

I remember that time when I first found someone willing to hear my voice. All my stories were now theirs and it felt good. Together we filled notebooks upon notebooks, telling each other the most flabbergasting stories real and imagined. Or maybe the most real imaginings we could conjure up. “Reality is often counter-intuitive“. By retelling each other stories of moments we experienced together, we felt we came closer to understanding those events and maybe even our own realities (i.e. perceptions). Diving back into remnants of those past writings, I was surprised by the difference in how I saw my world. It was also rather amazing to realize how intricate we were in our descriptions.

I have digressed farther than originally intended. I started with an idea. And on the way, I’ve lost that thread of thought.  Subjects related to perception and reality often bring anime/manga to mind, for me. Many convoluted stories in anime deal with such themes in their own manner. Steins GateSerial Experiments Lain, and even Sword Art Online are those I can think of the most in this case. This last one showcases unquestionably how gaming also delves into such a theme. Just look at the opening cutscene of any Bayonetta, not only those first words of each entry in the series so far but also the very concept within of the split nature of existence itself brings you towards the idea of reality and perception. For reasons I can’t quite describe, I feel like not including any movies here, except maybe one’s related to Virtual Reality like Ready Player One or The Matrix, or better yet: The Last Action Hero!

Beyond the simple-ish philosophical questions of the mind and it’s experience of the being, another albeit more “hard” science that deals with this kind of theme is quantum physics. For the uninitiated, the obscure [themes, topics, centers of study] of this field appear even more esoteric due to the peculiar fact that it is in a true, though untrue, way a study of perception and reality. At various levels, the macro reality we witness is a congealed form of the fluid microstructures composing it. Said micro backbone of our realities are in flux and take shape as we witness them. In that case, to what point do we influence what we see and thus what becomes real?

 

Janus

Tranzisyon, pasaj, osinon papòt kay…Non an se yon senbòl li ye.  Nan tan lontan, ansyen yo te reprezantel ak yon imaj ki gen de tèt.  Youn ap gade pase epi lòt la ap gade avni. Lèw kanpe nan yon papòt kay, ou nan yon tranzisyon.  Sa vle di ou gen yon kote ou soti e ou gen yon kotew vle ale.  Tout kanpew kanpe a, ou poko chwazi si wap pase pòt la oubyen siw pap pasel, se sa menm ki rele tranzisyon an. E se lèw fin balanse pou konn kisa wap fè, se sa menm ki pral fèw avanse.

Nan lavi, gen yon kote kanmenm wap rive e sa konn rive kew ateri sou plizyè plato.  Se yon moman kote tout bagay poze, ou gen kontròl tout zafèw e lavi a ap kontinye.  Kew vlel, kew pa vlel, pi devan wap rive nan yon kafou.  Gen yon pasaj tankou yon papòt  ki pral mandew èske wi ou non ou vle franchil.  Sa ka rivew jwenn plizyè papòt konsa ki konn kanpe ap tan ou.  Ki va desizyonw lè sa a?

choices-decision-doors-277615

Chanjman pa janm fasil, kit se pou yon bon bagay osinon yon move bagay.  Chak bagay gen bon ak move kote yo.  E se sa ki bay lavi a sans li menm.  Dèfwa li konn anmèdan, men se yon bon fason pou aprann e se konsa wap vin gen eksperyans. Konsa, lèw rive devan yon kafou 4 chimen, wap pozew pou konn kisa pou fè.  Men sonje, tren lavi a pap kanpe.  Kit ou chwazi, kit ou pa chwazi, tren an ap kontinye rout li.

Menm siw ta febli nan moman kote bagay yo rèd, e sa konn rive kote yon chwa konn pi rèd pou fè pase yon lòt, se yon chwa li ye tou.  Ret kanpe pa regle anyen, se yon chwa. E sa enpòtan pou nou pa janm bliye sa.  Pou defann tè nou, sa ka rive nou di “a! M pap fè anyen!” Se vrew pa regle anyen, men sonje sa, se yon chwa li ye tou.

Nan fizik kantik, save yo renmen di e yo renmen admèt ke chwazi obsève yon fenomèn sanw pa ni di ni fè anyen, li chanje fenomèn lan kareman.  Epi chak segond kap pase nan lavi nou, e menm lanmò nou kote nou ka di ke kò vin plis pa ka regle anyen ankò, tout se rezilta ki fèt.  E sa gen yon konsekans sou tout bagay.  Egzistans, se pase de pòt an pòt, trase pwòp chimenw, afronte tout vye baryè, monte miray paw, kite yon bon legzanp, epi viv.