Junior year soundtrack

Junior Year Soundtrack

Every school year, when I get to the end of the spring semester, I think, “there’s no way it could get any tougher than this,” and then somehow, it does.

That’s not meant to be a complaint – my years in college have been some of the most challenging, but also the most rewarding years of my life. Still, the rewards are easy to forget when you’re drowning in multiple 10-15 page papers and group projects while working two jobs and a maintaining some excuse for a social life. A lot of times, I find myself listening to music for encouragement, motivation, or just comfort.

As is my tradition every year, today I’m sharing a short playlist of the songs I listened to this past school year that encouraged and inspired me. As is NOT tradition, this post comes halfway through the summer. Even though it’s been a few months since the semester wrapped up, I still think this is worth sharing (and I’ll never let myself live it down if I let this school year go by without a playlist.

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Character figurine with duct tape over his mouth and the text "Don't give up on silent protagonists"

Don’t Give Up On Silent Protagonists

Technology is amazing, right? In early video games, we were lucky if we got a few strings of text to move the plot forward. Today, we’re presented with cutscenes that play like short films, complete with voice acting and animation. This growth has been great for gaming, but the increased use of voice acting has often left one of my favorite tropes in the dust: the silent protagonist.

For those unfamiliar with the term, a silent protagonist is a video game character does not have dialogue. They may interact with other characters through facial expressions, gestures, or “assumed” speech (in other words, there’s a pause in which the protagonist is assumed to have spoken, but they’re not given explicit dialogue). Silent Protagonists are most often seen as player characters. A few examples would be Link from The Legend of Zelda, the player character in the Pokémon series, or Chell from Portal.

As voice acting becomes more common in video games, the silent protagonist is less common. After all, it would seem weird to have everyone else talking except for one individual character!

But I still think there’s a place for the silent protagonists in our video games, if for no other reason than the way they provide a playing experience that other types of protagonists cannot.

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Nintendo Switch with text "Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Dream DLC"

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Dream DLC

If you follow video games at all, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – released barely over two months ago – has become Nintendo’s fastest selling game. The multiplayer fighting game is a hit with hardcore and casual players alike, with its colorful selection of stages, items, and characters setting it apart from the crowd.

Since the original Super Smash Bros. was released in 1999, the character roster has grown from twelve to over seventy different options. Of course, we’re still waiting on the new DLC (“downloadable content”) characters. Nintendo announced that Joker from Persona 5 will be joining the roster in February, but the other newcomers remain a mystery.

I understand the speculation train has long since left the station, and everyone and their cousin has put out a video or article about who they want to see in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. I’m going to do my own anyway. After much deliberation, I’ve compiled a list of five characters I think would be good fits for the SSBU stage – not necessarily ones I think are likely to make it there, but if I were in charge, I’d pick them.

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Which Pokémon Go Team Are Your Favorite Characters On? (+Quiz!)

Two years ago, a little app overtook the world. This app was Pokémon Go, a mobile game based on the popular video game franchise that used GPS and augmented reality technology to bring the cartoon creatures to the real world.

People everywhere grabbed their smartphones and left to explore their towns and neighborhoods. Even today, the game still brings people together regularly. I’ve made some great friends at my school through the game, and there were dozens of people at a local park for the most recent Community Day.

In Pokémon Go there are three teams: Team Valor, Team Mystic, and Team Instinct. Once players reach a certain level, they join one of these teams and then compete against the others.

The choice of team is arbitrary, but each one embodies a certain set of characteristics. Knowing this, it got me thinking – if fictional characters played Pokémon Go, what teams would they be on? I’ve decided to “sort” a handful of them and give a few reasons why. Plus, if you’ve always wanted to know what team you should be on, I have just the quiz for you!

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More Than a Damsel in Distress: A Look at Two Iconic Princesses

Fairy tales have told the hero-saves-the-princess story for about as long as fairy tales have existed. This plot was later incorporated into video games, with some of the earliest story-driven games requiring you, the player, to save the damsel in distress. This trope has appeared in dozens of video games since, but none more prominently than the Mario and Legend of Zelda franchises.

Back in the 8-bit days, both of these franchises revolutionized gaming with Super Mario Bros and The Legend of Zelda. Though vastly different in terms of genre and gameplay, both games tasked you with fighting the villain and rescuing the princess – Princess Peach in the case of Mario, and Princess Zelda in the case of Zelda.

The appearances of Peach and Zelda in these early games are classic examples of a Damsel in Distress – no real plot importance other than being a person to be rescued, and essentially helpless (though less so in Zelda’s case). Over time, however, Nintendo has subverted these tropes in their games, especially in each franchise’s most recent entries, Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Although the safety of these princesses is still the goal of your quest, these two ladies are far more than just damsels in distress.

Warning – Spoilers ahead!

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Week In Review – March 16

Happy Friday, everyone!

I hope you’re having a good week, whether there’s snow on the ground (like where I am) or it’s sunny and warm. Despite the weather, I’ve been enjoying my spring break at home – it’s given me a lot of time to work on things I’ve had to put aside lately, and I’ve gotten caught up on some work as well. It’s been a good week!

This week, I wrote about the ABCs of Pokémon, similar to what I’ve done with Writing and The Legend of Zelda in the past. If you’ve ever wanted to be a Pokémon Master, this should get you started.

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My Top 5 DS Games

Gaming giant Nintendo pioneered the handheld gaming industry with the Game Boy, first introduced in the United States in 1989. The Game Boy went through a number of iterations and upgrades before Nintendo took the next logical step and introduced the DS, a device similar to the Game Boy, but with two screens instead of one.

Although the DS has since been replaced by its relative, the 3DS, it’s still home to some of my favorite video games. A while back, I wrote a blog post about my Top 5 video games on another old Nintendo console, the GameCube, and today I’d like to do the same with the DS.

The “rules” for this list are similar to the ones for my GameCube post, but with one small exception.

  • A game that was not completed can be included if I feel like I completed it enough to have experienced it fully
  • Only one game per franchise, spinoffs included
  • Games created exclusively for the 3DS are NOT included, as I consider that a different console.

Now, without further ado, here are my favorite Nintendo DS games in no particular order.

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Fantastic Fictional Couples

Valentine’s day is just around the corner, and you know what that means! No, not chocolate or fancy dates or anything like that. Nope, around here, we celebrate Valentine’s day a little differently – and by that, I mean I make lists about my favorite fictional couples and try to sound like an actual adult while writing about them.

In all seriousness, I do have my fair share of favorite couples (or “ships,” as the fanpeople would say). Whether it’s books, TV shows, movies, or video games, there are some really strong, healthy relationships in fiction. Even as someone who isn’t much of a romantic, I do love seeing happy and supportive couples, and so in celebration of Valentine’s day, here are a few of my favorites and why I love them so much.

There may be a few vague spoilers ahead, so tread carefully!

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The ABCs of The Legend of Zelda

A few months ago, I wrote a post titled “The ABCs of Writing.” Today, I’d like to give you a rundown of another one of my favorite things, The Legend of Zelda in a similar manner – for those of you unfamiliar with the video game franchise, think of this as a quick introduction to the games (no spoilers, I promise). If you’re a Zelda fan like me, I hope you’ll find this to be a fun and entertaining look at the elements that make our favorite games what they are.

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Worldbuilding Lessons from The Legend of Zelda

The Legend of Zelda is a franchise that has been around since the beginning of video games. The first entry in the series featured a massive overworld like nothing the world had seen before, and since then, the land of Hyrule has just gotten bigger and better. The Zelda franchise has become my go-to inspiration anything involving worldbuilding, especially fantasy settings like my story for this year’s NaNoWriMo. No matter what game you’re playing, the Zelda series has some great examples of excellent worldbuilding. I’ve learned a lot from these games, and so today, I’d like to share that with you.

So what worldbuilding aspects does The Legend of Zelda do well?

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