Star Wars Binge Week 2020: The Force Awakens

So, it’s finally come down to this: the Star Wars sequel trilogy. By the time that The Force Awakens was even revealed to be a thing, my fandom for Star Wars had already cooled considerably. I didn’t see any of them in their opening months, nevermind opening day. To tell the truth, when I watch The Rise of Skywalker this Sunday, it’ll be my first viewing of the film. So know that I’m going into these with a lot less bias than I have for the original trilogy. Though my passion may have been stoked a bit by the previous six films that I’ve just watched…

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Star Wars Binge Week 2020: Return of the Jedi

After yesterday’s… diversion… I will in fact be writing a post about Star Wars. Rest assured that just as expected, I still think that The Empire Strikes Back is a fantastic movie, and it remains my favourite of the saga. Return of the Jedi and A New Hope have constantly jockeyed back and forth for the coveted second-place spot, and having now watched them back-to-back… I’d still have a hard time showing a strong preference for one over the other. I actually don’t hate the Ewoks, so they don’t automatically bring Jedi down to third place like they do for so many others.

But enough about that, it’s time to pivot over to something slightly different.

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Star Wars Binge Week 2020: The Empire Strikes Back

This morning I woke up with the expectation that today would be an incredible day. I watched the Pokémon Presents video that was posted and became unreasonably hyped about the announcement of New Pokémon Snap. Afterwards, I went out for a run around the block, and came back in for a short Ring Fit Adventure session. After showering off, I prepared breakfast and sat down with great excitement to watch The Empire Strikes Back, my favourite Star Wars movie.

Then I picked up my phone and everything went sideways.

(A word of warning, the rest of this post is not about Star Wars. Something much more important came up.)

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Star Wars Binge Week 2020: A New Hope

I’ll be honest: I’m way too close to the original Star Wars trilogy of films to be able to properly examine them with a critical eye. I have a huge bias for them because these are three of my favourite movies of all time, and I’ve watched all three of them more times than I can count. Plus, I don’t think that my ” bulleted list of random musings” format really works as well with something I’m so familiar with. It’s really better suited to media that I’m either experiencing for the first time, or for the first time in about a decade (or more).

So rather than that, I’m going to… do something a little more personal.

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Star Wars Binge Week 2020: Revenge of the Sith

When Revenge of the Sith first came out, I remember being awestruck by it. I saw it three times in the theatre and I played all the video games. I was delighted by the conclusion to the Star Wars prequel trilogy. And yet, I question whether that impression will hold up. Revenge of the Sith is the only one of the three that I’ve not fallen asleep to every time I’ve tried to watch the blu-ray (prior to this week of course), and yet I cannot name a single thing that I really like about it outside of the opening shot where we pan over the side of a Star Destroyer to see an epic space battle. We all know that a single impressive shot is not enough to hold up an entire film. So I guess we may as well just go ahead and get started…

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Star Wars Binge Week 2020: Attack of the Clones

Alright, so yesterday I walked away from The Phantom Menace with a sense of mild appreciation for the film. But that one was backed by some pretty strong nostalgia. The next chapter in the Star Wars saga, Attack of the Clones, had considerably less hype surrounding it, and made almost no impression on me, as I couldn’t even remember what it was about. I vaguely recalled a few key scenes, but overall this movie might actually have been my least appreciated Star Wars. Will today’s viewing change that? Let’s get into my list of random thoughts and see!

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Star Wars Binge Week 2020: The Phantom Menace

Afternoon, all. Ol’ Ryan is on vacation this week, and a curious thought struck me just last Wendesday: I have nine days off before work resumes, and there are nine movies in the core Star Wars saga. So why not spend this week binging my way through them all? And of course, it would make sense to record my thoughts throughout this retrospective because… well, I have a blog, and what else am I going to do with it?

So with that said, let’s go ahead and dive into all the random thoughts that I had while watching Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace this morning. (Random thoughts are mostly in chronological order.)

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Monthend Video Game Wrap-Up: May 2020

~ Game Over ~

Pikmin 2 (GC) – Did you know that I’ve never actually finished Pikmin 2 before? But now I’ve beaten the final boss (twice) and claimed every treasure. Huzzah. I win. It’s still not really 100% clear because I didn’t do the 2-player mode to get the secret ending, but I have actually done that before, so… we good?

Ocarina of Time Randomizer (Wii) – It was exciting to play through a very messed-up version of OoT, and I appreciate how it really tests your knowledge of the game. I think I need to do a second run with Master Quest dungeons, because I still feel like it’s not making me work hard enough.

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I’m really feeling it

Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition came out on Friday, and the very fist thing that I did after leaving work was to go out and purchase myself a copy. And it wasn’t easy, mind you.

It seems that there may have been a bit of a shortage of boxed copies going around, presumably somehow related to to good ol’ Coronavirus. Or maybe it somehow has to to with the horrible goings-on in the USA right now. But I doubt it’s the latter. Awful, awful stuff though. #BlackLivesMatter, guys.

Anyway, my first stop was EB Games in the mall, because I thought that for sure that would be the place that would definitely have copies in stock. But then the woman working there told me that every EB in the city had only received enough to fill pre-orders. So I suppose that “a global pandemic” can be added to the very short list of reasons to pre-order a high-profile Nintendo game.

Fearing that most other electronics- or entertainment-focused shops would also be sold out, because those would be the first targets for savvy shoppers, I decided that my next stop would be Wal-Mart. Also you can just stroll into Wal-Mart without having to sanitize your hands and hear the rules for navigating the store. I sanitized my hands no less than four times in less than half an hour that day.

Long story short: Wal-Mart was also sold out of copies. Or at least that’s what the guy who helped me figured. They certainly didn’t have any on hand, but there was also no proof that there had been any in the first place. I’d also like to point out that for every employee I dealt with during this adventure, I was super nice and understanding when they told me that they did not have any Xenoblades or had no idea what I was asking about. I’m always nice to people who are just doing their jobs, but… I think that especially right now, we all need to be extra nice to each other. even when mildly frustrated by first-world problems.

After that, I jogged across the parking lot to Toys ‘R’ Us, a place that I secretly wish that I had a reason to be at more often. You know, because I’m far enough away from that job that I didn’t like very much, that it’s all pleasant memories now. Anyway, the girl in the electronics department did a very good job of looking every which where for the game I had asked for, but came up with nothing. It seemed like they hadn’t gotten any in at all, which doesn’t surprise me in the least. Late new release shipments are the Toys ‘R’ Us way.

It was at that point that I was about to give up, go home, and just buy a digital version of the game, when my brother sent me a text suggesting that I give Best Buy a try. Now, I had heard that Best Buy had been closed to shoppers and doing curbside pickup for online orders, so I didn’t know what to expect. Lo and behold, not only was Best Buy open to the public, but they also had copies of Xenoblade Chronicles DE to go around, and the woman who helped me knew what I was talking about. Talk about your hat tricks! So there it was, in the place that I should have gone directly after EB failed me. So much for outsmarting the average consumer.

Walking back to my car after my small victory, I mused on the fact that I had actually had a fun little adventure that afternoon. It’s been forever since I’ve had to literally run from store to store looking for a copy of a new video game. It used to happen all the time, but pretty much anything that comes in a physical edition is a high-profile title that gets millions of copies printed, or licensed trash than I couldn’t care less about anyway. All those weird, niche games that I love so much are exclusively digital releases these days, so there’s never a hunt.

Anyway, I guess that’s what passes for an exciting story in my life these days. Not exactly edge-of-your-seat material, I know. But when I’m looking back on this post six years from now, it’ll serve a a nice reminder of that one time I had a moderate amount of trouble finding a video game because of Coronavirus. And how frivolous and carefree I was in 2020, a year that will probably turn out to be one of the bleakest in human history.

Back to the Bionis

The last couple years have seen a wealth of high-profile remade and remastered video games… but few have gotten me quite as excited as Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition. Xenoblade is easily one of my favourite games of all time, and I am so very looking forward to a version that irons out a bunch of the kinks, improves the visual presentation, and adds a big chunk of new content.

To help put this into perspective, I’ve already spent close to 150 hours on the Wii version of this game, and I am thrilled at the idea of doing it all again. Although I hear that the quest system has been streamlined to remove a whole lot of back-tracking, so it’ll be probably way less than another 150 hours, but you get what I mean.

I’ve also heard that one particular part of the combat system has been completely removed, which is super exciting to me. Namely, the part where your character’s accuracy is reduced when facing monsters with higher levels, which made fighting stronger enemies almost literally impossible. I always though that was a really stupid “feature” and I’m so glad they’ve done away with it. Taking out a foe that is way more powerful than your party is always incredibly satisfying, and I strongly disliked how Monolith Soft went out of its way to take that way from players.

Mostly I’m just really excited to go back and explore the Bionis again. I’ve been longing to replay Xenoblade for some time now (roughly since my playthrough of the 3DS port stalled out), even without the graphical overhaul of the remastered version. It’s just going to be all that much better now. Looking out over the incredible vistas was mesmerizing even when it was rendered in blocky Wii graphics, it’s going to be so nice to revisit all those memorable locations in high definition.

One last thing I need to point out is that it’s an insane coincidence that Nintendo decided to release Xenoblade DE on the same week as what would be my wedding anniversary (which is today, in fact). Why is this relevant? Because our first dance as a married couple was to “Beyond the Sky”, the song that plays over Xenoblade Chronicles’ credits. Kinda nuts, right?