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Video Games and Books

Imagine an alternate world identical to ours except for one big change: video games came first. Pretend they were invented and popularized before books. In this parallel universe, kids have been playing games for centuries – and then these book objects  came along and suddenly they’re all the rage. What would teachers, parents, and the authorities have to say about this frenzy of reading? I  did a search and found many different discussions similar to this topic. I will show you some interesting thoughts that other people have that are written in my own words. They think like this:

“Reading books chronically under-stimulates the senses. Unlike the long-standing tradition of gameplaying – which engages the child in vivid, three-dimensional worlds filled with moving images and musical soundscapes, navigated and controlled with complex muscular movements – books are simply a barren string of words on a page. Only a small portion of the brain devoted to processing written language is activated during reading, while games engage the full range of sensory and motor cortices.

“Books are also tragically isolating. Whereas games have for many years engaged the young in complex social relationships and their peers, building and exploring worlds together, books force force the child to sequester him or herself in a quiet space, shut off from interaction with others children. These new “libraries” that  have arisen in recent years to facilitate reading activities are a frightening sight: dozens of young children (normally so vivacious and socially interactive) now sitting in cubicles, reading silently, oblivious to their peers. 

“Many children enjoy reading books, of course, and no doubt some of the flights of fancy conveyed by reading have their escapist merits. But for a sizable percentage of the population, books are downright discriminatory. The reading craze of recent years cruelly taunts the 10 million Americans who suffer from dyslexia – a condition that didn’t even exist until printed text came along to stigmatize its sufferers.

“But perhaps the most dangerous property of these books is the fact that you follow a fixed linear path. You can’t control their narratives in any fashion – you simply sit back and have the story dictated to you. For those of us raised on interactive narratives, this property may seem astonishing. Why would anyone embark on an adventure utterly choreographed by another person? But today’s generation embarks on such adventures millions of times a day. This risks instilling a general passivity in our children, making them feel as though they’re powerless to change the circumstances. Reading is not an active, participatory process; it’s a submissive one. The book readers of the younger generation are learning to “follow the plot” instead of “learning to lead.”

Do you think that this sounds absurd? Do you think this sounds silly? So do the criticisms about video games!

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The Top Ten Best Stories In The Star Wars Universe

10. The Sequel Trilogy

It’s everything a fan could want from a “Star Wars” film and then some. Even the sorts of viewers who spend the entire running time of movies anticipating every plot twist and crowing “called it!” when they get one right are likely to come up short here. But the surprises usually don’t violate the (admittedly loose) internal logic of the universe George Lucas invented, and when they seem to, it’s because the movie has expanded the mythology in a small but significant way, or imported a sliver of something from another variant of Lucas’ creation.

These films are preoccupied with questions of legacy, legitimacy and succession, and includes multiple debates over whether one should replicate or reject the stories and symbols of the past. Among its many valuable lessons is that objects have no worth save for the feelings we invest in them, and that no individual is greater than a noble idea.

9. The Tragedy of Darth Plagueis The Wise

To the casual viewer, the love for Plagueis may be seem a little strange; why does everyone care about that guy who was only mentioned by name once in Revenge of the Sith? To these people we say, look no further than Darth Plagueis.

The story of the novel essentially acts as one giant prequel to the Star Wars saga. It starts off with Palpatine, having just recently killed his master, reflecting back on the life of Darth Plagueis the Wise. This book shows readers how the Sith Lord rose to power, how he groomed Palpatine as his apprentice, the introduction of Darth Maul, the creation of Anakin Skywalker by the Force, and how the two Dark Siders planted the seeds of the Clone Wars. It is one of the greatest Star Wars books ever written, and a must read for even the most casual of fans!

8. The Prequel Trilogy 

The prequels do have their share of flaws — there’s no denying this. The films — especially Attack of the Clones — garnered deserved (but measured) criticism when they were released from 1999 to 2005. Yes, Jar Jar was terrible (from his language to his antics to his CG depiction), Jake Lloyd was not the greatest child actor, and the dialogue ranged from wooden to cheesy to downright silly. Blame Internet outrage or peer pressure or how excited we are for the new installments in the series, but just as nostalgia has inflated the original trilogy to near mythic heights, the last decade has allowed dislike for the prequels to sour into petty disdain. And they don’t deserve it.

There are plenty of elements in the prequels that are worthy of celebration, and indeed, The Phantom Menace and Revenge of the Sith are very solid entries in the franchise as a whole. Yet we scorn all three movies because they are different. Or, more accurately, we scorn them because they’re not exactly what we wanted.

The prequels tell a different kind of story than the original trilogy told, which was jarring for many fans. Instead of a hero’s journey to victory, they depict a hero’s fall from grace, a tragedy that is harder to bring to life onscreen. Coupled with the fact that Lucas — with significantly improved technology behind him this time around — chose a different visual style, the first three episodes of the series often feel as if they are part of a different universe.

Now you are probably wondering why we placed the Prequel Trilogy ahead of the Sequel Trilogy. It’s because the sequel trilogy, although great, lacks originality and feels more like a reboot than a continuation of the story and lore. The Force Awakens did that more than the early ones, because it had that the girl from a different planet, the death star, the Cantina sequence.

Director J. J. Abrams was trying to figure out what was it about the original movies that everybody loved. However, the Prequels told a unique, original, ambitious (although imperfect) narrative that far surpasses the Sequel Trilogy. The Prequels are classics in their own right and they prove that an ambitious story with flaws is far superior to an unambitious story with no flaws. Ironically, the flaws are part of what make it beautiful.

7. Choices of One

Of all the characters found only in the Legends continuity, Mara jade is the definitive fan favorite. Veteran Star Wars author Timothy Zahn’s 2011 novel Choices of One is the most popular Mara Jade story out there, and it’s certainly one that does the character justice.

Set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes BackChoices of One follows Mara Jade on an exciting mission with a ruthless group of Stormtroopers to squash a rebel alliance with the Governor of an Outer Rim territory. The rebels in question? None other than Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Leia Organa, and Chewbacca.

Mara Jade is most well-known for switching sides after the Emperor’s demise and eventually marrying Luke, so it’s a great bit of fun to see her at her baddest, on a ruthless imperial mission, right in the middle of the original trilogy era.

6. Darth Vader’s Secret Apprentice
Remember watching the original trilogy and thinking, “Okay, but surely Darth Vader has some free time to train an apprentice while all this other stuff is going on, somehow keeping it unbeknownst to the Emperor and pretty much everyone else, right?” Okay, maybe you weren’t thinking that, but The Force Unleashed decided to ask the question anyways. And good thing it did, because getting to rip down a Star Destroyer using only the Force is pretty cool.
More than anything, it was Star Wars: The Force Unleashed’s story that kept me going through the game. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the game’s story wasn’t just emotionally evocative and engaging, but vital to fans of the history of Star Wars. There are moments in the game that are genuinely breath-taking, relationships I cared more about than in any of the first three episodes and a linchpin moment that helps to hook the original classic movies to the Prequels to the fruitless modern trilogy. I’ve actually gone back and re-watched the cut-scenes again. That’s not just a first, it’s something so beyond the pale for me as to be likely a first and last.
Right up there with the deep, engaging plot is the art direction. The game forgoes the unnatural creations of the modern anti-classics – plastic, soulless beings like Jar Jar – and instead reaches deep down into the crevices of George Lucas’ dried out husk of a soul to find a menagerie of beings that don’t just fit it, but add to the alien feel of the game. Exploding plants, bug-like creatures imbued with the force, mega-Stormtroopers; and it all looks so incredible.
The force is strong with this one.

5. The Thrawn Trilogy

The Thawn Trilogy changed everything for fans and has withstood the test of time to top my list of Star Wars books. For the first time we’re introduced to Grand Admiral Thrawn, Mara Jade, and others,  who would become beloved entries into the Expanded Universe. The engrossing story saw Thrawn leading remnants of the Empire against the New Republic as his ally, Dark Jedi clone Joruus C’baoth, goes after Luke and Leia, who is pregnant with the twins. The trilogy keeps the spirit of the original three films while successfully expanding Star Wars lore and left fans wanting more Star Wars stories.

Beginning with Heir to the Empire, the Thrawn trilogy of books follows the escapades of the Rebels five years after the Battle of Endor. It appears that the “New Republic” is finally winning the war; the last remnants of the Imperial forces are driven back to the Outer Rim. However, the tide is about to turn. Under the guidance of Grand Admiral Thrawn, the Empire is set to make one last major push against our heroes.

What can we say about these books that hasn’t already been said? They introduced Thrawn, a character who has become so popular that fans were furious when they found out he was being taken out of the canon. Lucasfilm heard the outcry and responded appropriately, reintroducing him in the newest season of Rebels as a prime antagonist. This story also featured the introduction to the Dark Jedi Mara Jade, an agent of the Empire who eventually went on to become Luke’s wife in countless EU material. It also had Leia become pregnant and learn the ways of the force (she even had her own lightsaber!). We also can’t forget the series’ memorable characters, like the evil Jedi Master Jorus C’baoth, the smuggler Talon Karrde, and an evil clone of Luke Skywalker. Seriously, read this series!

The story of Thrawn’s life as a whole and his lasting legacy in the Expanded Universe. This guy was such a genius that even a decade after his death the plans he’d laid out were threatening to tear apart the fledgling New Republic. His fingerprints are everywhere.

4. The Original Trilogy

What I can tell you is that the original movies follow this guy, a kid really, named Luke. He lives on a farm in the middle of nowhere and isn’t really all that exceptional at anything. He doesn’t have many friends (unless you count his soon-to-be-deceased aunt and uncle) and his only goal in life is getting away from where he was born. Over the course of the next two films you watch Luke struggle to make decisions, often failing with horrible consequences (he loses his hand by the way.) There are other characters, like the roguish Han Solo, with a spotty past, and the feisty, capable leader Princess Leia who are great, too, and in time you’ll come to relate to all of them in some capacity. They all exist in what we call the original trilogy.

Star Wars means more than who shot first, or doing Chewie impressions. It’s the universe that “A New Hope” started.

Star Wars is a stepping stone of my childhood; it has great, classic storytelling that still works today. It features interesting and complex characters. It got me interested in Sci-Fi which is a big passion to this day, and it got me to bond with my father. It’s a universal story that helped make Sci-Fi a globally appreciated genre. It’s got the right formula of high stakes and action, romance and angst. It’s got funny characters, too, and classic tropes – and it’s infinitely entertaining.”

3. Anakin’s Padawan 

This youngling seemed a character doomed for the refrigerator, one who existed to create an emotional attachment and whose death would explain the actions of another, ostensibly more important, character. Ahsoka might very well die before Revenge of the Sith, although her decision to leave the Jedi Order at the end of Season Five might offer her a reprieve. She might survive only to be killed later by Darth Vader. She might live a long life, using her Jedi training to help people outside of the rules and regulations of the Order. But however she dies, she will die not just as a vehicle for Anakin’s character development, but as a fully realized character who helped highlight the Jedi’s flaws.

Ahsoka is the character who exists within the canon of the Star Wars prequel universe and seemingly doesn’t tolerate all of the dishonesty and deception associated with it. It’s almost like she’s the manifestation of a critique of the Prequel universe.

Anakin was super unlikable in the actual Star Wars films, but through his friendship/mentorship/partnership with Ahsoka, he’s rendered a lot more likable. Roles for females not played by Natalie Portman are scarce in this version of the Star Wars universe, and Ahsoka obviously corrects that. She’s also not as gloomy and depressed as all the other Jedi are in the Prequels. Ashoka has a positive attitude coupled with a believable personality.

As a matter of fact, her sense of right and wrong is so clear that she straight-up leaves the Jedi Order in the penultimate season of “The Clone Wars” because she feared the Order had compromised its position as a force for good in order to win a war.

One of the best moments in all of Star Wars is in “Twilight of the Apprentice Part 2” is when Ahsoka declares almost proudly, “I’m no Jedi.” The Jedi in the Prequels are obviously the victims of systematic murder perpetrated against them by Darth Sidious and his conspiracy.

Nevertheless, the Jedi are also incompetent to a point where they’re hard to feel sorry for prior to said conspiracy unfolding. Most frustratingly, they’re rude to Qui-Gon Jinn, jerky with Obi-Wan, and straight-up push Anakin to the Dark Side. In The Clone Wars, Ahsoka gets fed up with this BS. When she is falsely accused of bombing the Jedi Temple, the Jedi totally screw her over. Most of this is because their bureaucratic power structure coupled with their stoic and detached attitudes. Ahsoka walking out on the Jedi in The Clone Wars and helping the Rebellion in Rebels is exactly what a regular person would do if they were thrust into the universe of Star Wars. Ahsoka is that one character who states whatever the audience is thinking. She’s like you and me.

2. The Philosophy of Kreia
This story was told in the video game “Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords” (KOTOR II) — a former Jedi who was exiled from the Order returns to known space only to find the Jedi gone from civilization and a pair of mysterious Sith lords wreaking havoc all over. It’s a rare “Star Wars” noir story, and it’s quite a doozy.
Enter the Jedi Exile, and the beginning of KOTOR II. The Exile was the only one of Revan’s Jedi to return to the fold after the war with the Mandalorians instead of running off with Revan and his mutineer forces, but she was immediately cast out by the Jedi Council. And so the Exile wandered through the parts of the galaxy where the happenings of the Republic don’t matter, and returns to civilisation by chance (or is it?) at the crisis point.
Once all is said and done, KOTOR II is definitely another grand quest to save the galaxy, but it just never really feels that way. In reality, it’s an epic grudge match between the Exile and this secretive group of Sith, who you learn became what they are because of the Exile’s actions at the close of the Mandalorian Wars. It’s personal enough a skirmish to feel like an episode of Walker, Texas Ranger with one of Walker’s personal nemeses as the villain. It’s just played out in the Star Wars universe on the grandest scale. It’s an almost mundane, personal mystery that concludes with brutal fisticuffs.
At other points when some helpless stranger asks for your aid, she also loudly espouses the philosophy that mortal struggles serve as a cocoon for the beings who are experiencing them. Only if they force their way out of the cocoon themselves will they be fit to deal with their futures. It’s not an unusual metaphor in literature and other storytelling media, but it’s a concept that flies in the face of most of the Jedi teachings that proliferate Star Wars lore.

Sometimes we have had Jedi embrace a “help people help themselves” policy, but Kreia’s stance is simply to just stay out of regular folks’ business. You might say it’s just a trick — Kreia, we learn, is a former Jedi instructor known for controversial teachings. She later became Sith before losing her connection to the Force — but listen to this from her:

“A culture’s teachings, and most importantly, the nature of its people, achieve definition in conflict. They find themselves… or find themselves lacking. Too long did the Republic remain unchallenged. It is a stagnant beast that labors for breath… and has for centuries. The Jedi Order was the heart that sustained its sickness — now the Jedi are lost, we shall see how long the Republic can survive.”

1. The Redemption of Revan
Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) accomplished what virtually no other Star Wars series has: it crafted a story that’s even better than almost anything in fiction. The tale of your character’s growth as a Jedi and the story’s big twist are still beloved today. No other Star Wars game other than it’s own sequel Knights of the Old Republic II has given you as much power over the fate of the galaxy either, allowing you to choose whether to save the Republic or rule it with an iron fist.

Star Wars is escapism. It’s a space fantasy, not just science fiction, and more often than not it attempts to paint a picture of a world that is easy to understand and feel comfortable with. That black-and-white portrait is a demonstration of how we wished our world would be, with good and evil and a clear dividing line between them. KOTOR collapses that construct, humanizing evil and obscuring that dividing line. Whereas other Star Wars stories provides surface-level enjoyment, KOTOR goes deep enough to be intellectually stimulating.

The difference between the KOTOR games and other Star Wars fiction is apparent in their basic premises. In most Star Wars stories, you are someone important/powerful who is trying to save the galaxy. In KOTOR nobody knows you nor cares about what you’re doing. Most Star Wars fiction is fun and simple and earnest, and KOTOR is heady and heavy and noir-ish.

Thousands of years before the movies, Revan was a Jedi who led the Republic military against invading Mandalorians — only to turn to the dark side and wage his own war on the Republic, before turning away from the dark and defeating his own armies. That’s the very short, very incomplete version. The story of Revan is thoroughly fascinating and ends up lasting hundreds of years across two video games (“Knights of the Old Republic) and a pile of books and comics.
What makes KOTOR earn its spot among the greatest games ever made is its engrossing, epic story. You start off the game as a nobody in search of a powerful Jedi Knight on the city-planet of Taris. After speed racing biker gangs, dodging Sith troops, and avoiding an underground Rakghoul plague, you narrowly escape the planet only to watch the surface get utterly vaporized by an orbiting Sith fleet. And all that action is just the beginning. The adventure and wonders of the Star Wars world constantly bombard your emotions with its vibrant bustling environments and gut-wrenching choices throughout the entire experience.
The legend you forge in KoToR is truly yours — every in-game decision you make brings you one step closer to the light or dark side of The Force, and the title’s big story twist is one of the biggest surprises in any game, period.
This is the gold standard for storytelling in a galaxy far, far away.
Bioware managed to completely capture the essence of the Star Wars Universe, build upon it, and create it’s own identity in Star Wars lore and video game history.
May the Force be with you
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Video Games and Books

Imagine an alternate world identical to ours except for one big change: video games came first. Pretend they were invented and popularized before books. In this parallel universe, kids have been playing games for centuries – and then these book objects  came along and suddenly they’re all the rage. What would teachers, parents, and the authorities have to say about this frenzy of reading? I  did a search and found many different discussions similar to this topic. I will show you some interesting thoughts that other people have that are written in my own words. They think like this:

“Reading books chronically under-stimulates the senses. Unlike the long-standing tradition of gameplaying – which engages the child in vivid, three-dimensional worlds filled with moving images and musical soundscapes, navigated and controlled with complex muscular movements – books are simply a barren string of words on a page. Only a small portion of the brain devoted to processing written language is activated during reading, while games engage the full range of sensory and motor cortices.

“Books are also tragically isolating. Whereas games have for many years engaged the young in complex social relationships and their peers, building and exploring worlds together, books force force the child to sequester him or herself in a quiet space, shut off from interaction with others children. These new “libraries” that  have arisen in recent years to facilitate reading activities are a frightening sight: dozens of young children (normally so vivacious and socially interactive) now sitting in cubicles, reading silently, oblivious to their peers. 

“Many children enjoy reading books, of course, and no doubt some of the flights of fancy conveyed by reading have their escapist merits. But for a sizable percentage of the population, books are downright discriminatory. The reading craze of recent years cruelly taunts the 10 million Americans who suffer from dyslexia – a condition that didn’t even exist until printed text came along to stigmatize its sufferers.

“But perhaps the most dangerous property of these books is the fact that you follow a fixed linear path. You can’t control their narratives in any fashion – you simply sit back and have the story dictated to you. For those of us raised on interactive narratives, this property may seem astonishing. Why would anyone embark on an adventure utterly choreographed by another person? But today’s generation embarks on such adventures millions of times a day. This risks instilling a general passivity in our children, making them feel as though they’re powerless to change the circumstances. Reading is not an active, participatory process; it’s a submissive one. The book readers of the younger generation are learning to “follow the plot” instead of “learning to lead.”

Do you think that this sounds absurd? Do you think this sounds silly? So do the criticisms about video games!

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Best Disney Games

5. Disney Infinity

This is a game where you get to create your own world and then interact with it. A creative concept by Disney and very fun for kids.

4. DuckTales Remastered

DuckTales Remastered is an HD upgrade done right. No shortcuts have been taken – every level has been given new backgrounds and animations, from the jungles of the Amazon to spaceships on the moon, with Scrooge McDuck vibrantly popping off the screen, Everything looks and sounds slick, with new story sequences bulking up the action – they occasionally feel forced, but mostly contribute to drawing you further into the DuckTales world.

All of this makes a classic action-platformer spring to life in a new age. Playing as Scrooge McDuck, you’re motivated by money, treasure and saving your nephews. It’s a simple game – you jump on enemy heads with your pogo stick or whack them with your cane, and occasionally you may need to hit an object into another object, or move an object so it acts as a platform, but that’s as complicated as it ever gets. Mostly, it’s about using these simple elements to discover and explore each of the five stages placed in front of you.

There are hidden walls, secret areas, and special items littered throughout the levels. You’ve got to collect these in order to progress, while also finding as many gems as you can to help boost Scrooge’s personal wealth. The levels may not be the most complex, sprawling affairs, but there’s enough going on to keep things interesting across multiple playthroughs – and, due to the high difficulty of the game and the low amount of lives you’re gifted, you’ll be looking at the same scenery and obstacles over and over again.

Ducktales Remastered was a great game and you could call it a more forgiving version of Mega Man!

3. Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse

The story has not changed from the original Genesis game. Mickey and Minnie Mouse are having a wonderful picnic when the evil witch Mizrabel appears and kidnaps Minnie. Mizrabel’s plan is to curse Minnie Mouse and steal her beauty so that she would be young again. Mickey springs into action, chasing Mizrabel right to the Castle of Illusion. Here, Mickey meets a wise old mouse who tells him the only way to save Minnie is to collect the 7 Rainbow Gems that are hidden away inside the castles rooms. Once Mickey finds all the gems he can take on Mizrabel and free Minnie. Once Mickey enters the castle, he enters the first room, only to find the rooms lead to different worlds. The worlds he explores are filled with danger and traps that he must get through in order to reach one of Mizrabel’s guardians, and you have to jump on enemies, and even use throwing weapons like apples and baseballs. Mickey starts with only 3 hits, but you can collect up to 5 hits with the stars scattered around each world. You will need all that you can find, since there is always something up ahead trying to hurt you.

Reaching the world’s guardians and beating them is the only way Mickey can collect all 7 Gems and rescue Minnie before it’s too late. While the original game is a straightforward action platformer, the remake puts you into a 3D castle with the rooms to the different worlds locked by magic. Collecting silver diamonds scattered around the castle will open the first door and collecting more diamond as you make your way through the levels will help open more doors later on. Unlike the original, you can revisit any world once you beat it, but we will come back to that a bit later. Each world consists of 3 acts, leading to a showdown with a gem guardian. Players of the original will feel disoriented as the game changes from a 2D perspective to 3D in some areas, (particularly in the guardian battles) while some areas you remember from the original are now used as bonus areas inside each act. There isn’t a penalty for failing to get through them, as you will simply be returned to the main path. A good example of this is the forest stage, where in the original, you had to cross an area high up in the trees, avoiding spiders and riding floating leaves. Losing here meant you lost a life, but in the remake this area is simply one of the aforementioned bonus areas, where you can find new hidden collectibles.

The visuals here are absolutely awesome. From the outstanding animation in the characters, to the amazingly detailed worlds Mickey visits, everything looks like a classic hand drawn Disney film. Each area you explore is a delight to play through, and even a little distracting as you will find yourself missing a jump or an enemy while staring at the amazing visuals. The whole experience gets even better with the fantastic music and sound effects that accompany every second of gameplay. Music tracks are remixed songs from the original game and sound absolutely amazing, while every sound effect fits in perfectly with each world. Something completely new, that was not possible with the Sega Genesis hardware, is the inclusion of a Disney style narrator that guides the player through each part of the story, with Mickey himself even getting a one liners here and there. All of the voices fit in great and never get annoying like some other remakes out there. The entire presentation is a joy to the senses.

Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse is a perfect example of a remake done right. Everything that you loved from the original game is present, with added extras that will make you come back for more. As mentioned before, The difficulty found in the original game is changed to fit a wider range of players, so veterans may want to play on a higher difficulty to get a challenge. No matter what level you play on, the continues are unlimited and checkpoints are more plentiful, so all the controller smashing deaths you experienced with the Genesis game are less painful here. My favorite thing about the game is that it is a scarier, more mature adventure that Mickey takes us on this time around.

This game has a scary monster tree, fueled by greed…

…a shocking jack-in-the-box Clown, alone, forsaken, and would KILL for a friend……

….scary underwater monster babies, isolated, unloved, alone, abandoned, outcast and vicious…

…..and a mysterious, fantastic new villain!

2. Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie’s Revenge

Although experienced players might find the action simple, this video game sequel to the movie provides a satisfying adventure in a delightfully macabre world. Most impressively, the game captures the sweetly morbid mood of the movie.

The graphics are perfect for representing the cartoonish, almost toy-like nature of the characters and settings. Jack is fighting his way through legions of skeletons, ghosts, and trolls. The games art direction and all the action sequences are beautiful to behold. This is a powerfully and mysteriously attractive gem of a game that is often overlooked by critics but fans adore it.

1. Kingdom Hearts

An unprecedented collision of cultural importance! We don’t know what planets had to align to make this crossover happen, but sometimes we have to go back and check to make sure it actually did. And if you think America’s response to a game featuring the characters from Final Fantasy and Disney was overwhelming, try and imagine the mass pants wetting that ensued in Japan as two of their most beloved icons met for the first time.

There’s a quality to it that can’t be explained. The worlds can only be described as magical, the characters are timeless and the story, although just typical Japanese craziness, is beautiful to behold. Its a package that is much more than the sum of its parts and it gives me a feeling of wonder and serenity that nothing has given me before, let alone a video game.

A game series so good in both story and game play, you have to play it for yourself. The best thing about the game is the story, combined with the huge ensemble of characters, and worlds you explore. The multiple climaxes of the game series are so eerie and exciting, its hard to say it isn’t near-perfect. The games only gets better and better, and more mature themes are present later in the games.


Everything in the games have payoff, whether it be starting out with a wooden sword, to later calling fire and thunder to wipe out a group of enemies, or seeing the characters change and mature throughout the series.

An inspiring emotional work of art and perhaps the best selling, most popular game of all time. Square Enix continues to prove that you can take even the most played out source material in the world (Disney’s various franchises) and make something wonderful.

Kingdom Hearts is the most detailed, intelligent, and artistic game series I have ever seen. Almost all of the characters have a complex personality, the works of Kingdom Hearts obviously had a lot of thought and creativity. The fighting styles are creative, unique, visually a fantastic masterpiece, and it has humor! I see really no reason as to why not to play this game. It teaches morals as well, which is important, yet they don’t nag about it, which makes it great. Even though a majority of the game contains extreme violence, it’s at a respectful tone, and people are only occasionally hurt. Yes, extremely violent deaths do occur. At one point a girls wrist is slit and blood is shown pouring out. For sexual references, there is a few kissing scenes, and several characters in the games imply a romantic relationship. These games even shows how even the most ‘evil’ of characters, can turn out to be only misguided. And there are several second chances in the game, as well as mercy and forgiveness. These games have very dark storylines and nearly EVERY game in the series ends with the “good guys” living in their own personal hell’s.

You’ll be hard pressed to find another game that even comes close to matching the quality found in Kingdom Hearts. Games just don’t come as beautiful and well thought out as this, it’s a virtual masterpiece that excels in every way possible.

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Marvel vs DC

The Battle of the Superheros shall be broken down into 4 Rounds… 

Round 1                                                                                                                                                                  Live-Action Movies/TV Shows:

1. The Marvel characters are easier to relate to:

The majority of Marvel’s superheroes are human – think Iron Man, Spiderman, Wolverine – they are all human. There are some (like the X-Men) who, despite accidents which turn them into mutants, are still inherently human. When we look at Superman, the Flash and Aquaman, they’re not really thought of as ‘people’. They live their lives completely differently from us, and it’s really their job to be superheroes (I know Clark Kent is a journalist but that is just a clever rouse).

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2. The (Live-Action) Avengers works better in the film industry better than the (Live-Action) Justice League:

This really stems from the first point; in the Avengers, the only ‘non-human’ (I say this because he is technically a God) is Thor, whereas in the Justice League, you have a lot of supernatural influence. The Avengers bounce off each other, and their team dynamic allows them to combat evil fairly spontaneously. The Justice League requires organization and planning – which is fine if you’re planning a tea party, but not to save the world. Also, the Justice League are all hypocrites.

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3. DC characters are killed off too easily:

Both Marvel and DC have pretty poor records for killing off their characters, but when DC insist on having invincible Gods and aliens as superheroes, who are eventually killed off, it really defeats the point of them being superheroes.

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4. We will never be able to take the DC Live-Action Movie characters seriously: 

In a world where EVERYTHING is dark……. what is dark? In a world where EVERYTHING is violent, sad, brutal and gritty……… what are the stakes? The answer is….  nothing.

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5. It’s the heroes who make Marvel, not the villains. In films for children and families, we want heroes, not villains:

When someone says Marvel, whom do you think of? Iron Man, Thor, Silver Surfer, Captain Marvel, the Hulk, Captain America, Wolverine, Professor X, Cyclops, Nicky Fury…the list goes on and on. When someone says DC, whom do you think of? The Joker, Bane, Lex Luthor, General Zod, and Penguin. These are all great characters, I do not doubt that, but the Marvel list is of superheroes, earth’s saviours. DC’s list is a group of rather exceptional but incredibly evil characters.

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Round 1 Winner: Marvel


Round 2                                                                                                                                                                              Animated Movies/TV Shows:

1. The Flashpoint Paradox is a fantastic film that surpasses any marvel animation.

Perhaps the most fascinating of the bunch, “Flashpoint” is adapted from a comic written by Geoff Johns. Someone has traveled back in time drastically altering history, and Flash is the only one who knows the truth. In the new timeline, Batman is … different, Wonder Woman and Aquaman are at war with each other, and Superman is nowhere to be found.

The alternate-reality premise makes this one of the richest and most engaging DC storylines. This film can’t be recommended enough if you’re looking to explore a bit deeper into the DC comic universe.

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2. Wonder Woman is a fantastic film that not only that superb action, but emotional depth… unlike Marvel films.

A precise and engaging telling of not just Wonder Woman’s origins, but the events before and after her becoming the warrior princess, Wonder Woman definitely makes the list for its masterful telling of what can be an enigmatic origin. This massively scoped epic incorporates nearly all of Wonder Woman’s greatest supporting characters, like Ares, Artemis, Hippolyta, and of course, love interest Steve Trevor. The villainous Cheetah even makes a cameo at one point.

As we follow Princess Diana’s journey to becoming Wonder Woman and venturing into the world of man, we see her develop from a skilled but naive woman into the layered and wise hero Wonder Woman. The film’s jam-packed but thoughtful storyline never lags for a second, hitting all the important beats with top-notch pacing.

For a hero as immensely popular as Wonder Woman, this animated film gives a faithful and exciting origin that does her character justice. We can only hope the live-action version is half as good as this.

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3. Green Lantern: First Flight was a nice addition.

Nearly everything that the 2011 live-action Green Lantern movie tried to be — a superhero origin story crossed with a Star Wars-style space-opera — was handled much better two years earlier by the animated Green Lantern: First Flight. While telling the story of how test pilot Hal Jordan was given an all-powerful ring and initiated into an intergalactic police corps, First Flight also tracks the corruption of Sinestro, a veteran Green Lantern who’s sick of following the rules. The film works as an action-packed sci-fi adventure and as a study of the kind of policeman who’d rather protect his power than the public.

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4. The Dark Knight Returns is a fantastic masterpiece that is better than all of Marvels animated movies/TV shows

Based on the now legendary Frank Miller series of the same name, “Dark Knight Returns” depicts a retired, crotchety Bruce Wayne deciding to become Batman once again, against the wishes of … well, everyone.

The political and social commentary is present just as it was in the comic, as is the conflicted relationship between Batman and Superman. Given that this takes place years into the future, the layers of history add a texture and depth to the characters that is lacking in “Batman v Superman.”

In summation, I don’t think it’s even remotely unreasonable for the major studios making these live-action DC films to look to the DC animated universe for inspiration and storytelling guidance.

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5. Batman: Mask of The Phantasm is a fantastic masterpiece that is better than all of Marvels animated movies/TV shows

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm was DC’s first attempt at a full-length, animated feature film, and it was an absolute home-run. Considered by many to be DC’s greatest animated venture, Mask of the Phantasm tells an amazing Batman story, unlike any before and after it. A film centered around a case of mistaken identity, romance, and classic Batman action, this film is a blast from start to finish. While as action-packed as they come,Phantasm focuses more on the storytelling than spectacle, keeping in line with the widely successful and award-winning Batman: The Animated Series.

Thanks to the potent combo of Bruce Timm’s direction and Paul Dini’s incredible writing,Mask of the Phantasm stands a cut above the other magnificent animated films from DC. If you haven’t seen this film, or if it’s been a few years, don’t worry — it holds up. Do yourself a favor and watch it immediately.

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6. Batman Beyond: Return of The Joker is an amazing, emotional rollercoaster with a fantastic musical score.

There are actually two versions of this film, a rated and unrated version. Both are great in their own regard, but the unrated version takes the film to a whole new level, with added violence and more intense dialogue. Without a doubt one of the most emotional stories told by DC, including their live-action ventures, Return of the Joker continues the large overarching story of Batman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond. It shows the everlasting struggle between the Bat-Family and the Joker, by showing not just flashbacks but finding an interesting way to bring the Joker back into the fold, long after his supposed death.

The way in which the Joker is brought back is intense, horrifying, and deeply personal for all involved, making for a film too good not to mention on this list. Also, keeping in line with the established story arc from the animated series, legends Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill came back to finish the story as both Batman and the Joker, providing some of their finest voice work to date.

This is a brutal, dark, scary movie…

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7. Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo is a great end to the Teen Titans series, which boldly, innovatively invented Western Anime.

The Teen Titans are a teenage group of superheroes  with masterpiece-level storytelling in terms of comedy, action, drama, subtle foreshadowing, and allusion. This is a movie based on what is possibly DC’s best, most popular TV Show!

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8. Batman: Under the Red Hood is a fantastic masterpiece that is better than all of Marvels animated movies/TV shows

Batman: Under the Red Hood tells the most compelling and heart-wrenching Batman story, making it DC’s most enjoyable animated film from start to finish.

Adapting the Death in the Family and Under the Hood storylines from the comics, this movie takes us on a Batman journey like no other, as he’s forced to confront his greatest mistake as a crime fighter: the death of the second Robin, Jason Todd. Not only do we follow Batman through the grief of dealing with his partner’s death, but we are right alongside the Caped Crusader as he must fight the menace known as the Red Hood, who’s later revealed to be Todd in disguise.

Watching as Batman struggles to try and rehabilitate his ex-partner and deal with the guilt associated with letting Robin descend into madness makes for some of the best storytelling you’ll see on film, animated or not. THIS IS TOTALLY AWESOME AND AN ABSOLUTE MUST WATCH!

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Also, DC’s Animated films are light years ahead of Marvels Live-Action films, so we’ll say that DC beats MARVEL in terms of overall Movies/TV shows.

DC’s Animated Film’s are praised as Masterpieces whereas Marvels Live-Action Movies, although very good, sometimes great, can never really top the master itself.

Round 2 Winner: DC


Round 3                                                                                                                                                          Literature:

There is really nothing to say here. DC’s comics are consistent works of amazing art whereas Marvel comics are generally mediocre. Marvels shallow plots and over the top action work extremely well within the world of film, but sadly does not carry enough depth to make to a good read. On the other hand, DC has crafted famous genre-defining masterpieces such as: The Killing Joke, Superman Doomsday, Batman: Hush, Teen Titans, Red Hood and the Outlaws, All Star Superman, The long Halloween, For The Man Who Has Everything, Fables, Crisis on Infinite Earths, Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, Knightfall, etc… The winner is easily DC with no competition. Marvel, I love ya, you may be unstoppable in the world of film and the box office, the DC is unbeatable in the realm of comics.

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Round 3 Winner: DC


Round 4: Final Round                                                                                                                                                                        Video Games:  

Marvel has awesome stuff such as:

Marvel Ultimate Alliance

 Marvel Ultimate Alliance
MUA applied the simple, addictive formula of Gauntlet and Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance to Marvel’s heroes. Focused on action and teamwork with light RPG elements. Featured dozens of playable heroes and villains.
Spider-Man 2: The Game
 Spider-Man 2
An open world Spidey game that many consider to be the pinnacle of the franchise. Loosely follows the events of the film, but most gamer’s ignore the story line in favor of swinging through Manhattan.
Spider-Man PS4
The open world Spidey game that was the ultimate culmination of all the past Spidey games in one awesome game!

However DC had exceeded expectations and eliminated the competition by giving the gaming industry revolutionary genre-defining masterpieces that changed the scope of all games that came after it such as:

The Wolf Among Us: An award-winning noir, detective game in a fairy tale world with Fables like The Big Bad Wolf, Snow White and many others. This game re-invented the adventure game genre (alongside The Walking Dead) and is praised for it’s innovation.

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Injustice: Gods Among Us

One of the best fighting games of all time 

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Injustice 2

The best fighting game of all time (Furthermore, this game revived fighting games from the dead and brought them back to life) 

Most importantly, DC crafted what is conceivably the best video game trilogy of all time and presumably the most revolutionary. A Trilogy that changed nearly all games that came after…


Batman Arkham Asylum

Batman Arkham City

Batman Arkham Knight

It began in 2009 inside the claustrophobic corridors of a madhouse and ended in 2015 on a rainy night in Gotham City, and in the six years in between, Rocksteady changed the face of gaming with the Batman: Arkham trilogy.

Spread across three titles and two console generations, the studio had the unenviable task of taking one of the biggest icons in pop culture and translating 75 years worth of history onto the console. The studio not only exceeded expectations, it also forever changed the way fans and developers view video games.

Arkham Knight may still be less than a week old, but the legacy of the entire trilogy is already beginning to coalesce in the minds of fans as we start to look back at how the series has impacted the industry.

From revolutionary gameplay mechanics to the rebirth of the licensed game, let’s see how Rocksteady’s Batman saga reshaped, rethought and reinvented the medium.

Love Of The License

It was hard to get too excited about Arkham Asylum when it came out in 2009. The buzz was subdued, and there were only brief—yet hopeful—glimpses of the game in trailers and screenshots in the months before its August release.

For many, it seemed like yet another superhero game coming out to piggyback off the success of a movie. After all, how could a no-name studio possibly match in a video game what Christopher Nolan put on the screen the year before in The Dark Knight?

Then fans finally sat down to play the game—and expectations weren’t just exceeded, they were obliterated.

By staying true to what makes Batman who he is, Rocksteady brought authenticity to a license that had languished in video game anonymity for decades. Arkham Asylum made players feel like Batman, as opposed to so many licensed games before that stuck to a generic action formula with a superhero skin slapped on top of it.

Everything, including the mood, the music, the voice acting, the easter eggs and the combat/stealth mechanics screamed Dark Knight. This was a game that stuck true to the license with almost a religious fervor. This wasn’t just a job; you could feel the love Rocksteady had for Batman’s world, which was rare for licensed games at the time.

For comparison’s sake, just look at Marvel’s offerings from the previous year:The horrible iron Man Game from SEGA and Incredible Hulk titles — these games had blockbuster licenses sitting there for the taking, and instead fans got low quality, terribly written games that barely resembled the superheroes on the box art.

By distilling Batman down to his pointy-eared essence, Arkham Asylum turned a night in a madhouse into the first shots in the licensed gaming revolution.

Absolutely Awesome Gamplay

As a character, Batman has always been just as cerebral as he is forceful. For every brawl, there’s a puzzle to solve; for every car chase, there’s some detective work to be done. Rocksteady took note and crafted a game that combined all of these abilities into a cohesive package.

The fighting system in the Arkham series, in particular, is what its biggest in-game legacy might be. Taking a few pages from Assassin’s Creed, the game relies heavily on counter-based combat, which allows Batman to easily fight off several foes at once.

It’s incredibly simple, yet so effectively done here that it’s amazing no studio had perfected it sooner. Now games like Shadow of Mordor, The Amazing Spider-Man andSleeping Dogs have taken notes from Rocksteady. Even the Assassin’s Creed games—which actually influenced Arkham in the first place—now follow Rocksteady. Why else do you think Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate relies so heavily on fisticuffs and a grappling hook?

It remains to be seen how long the Arkham influence will last—the engine was imagined for Batman specifically, after all—but it’s impossible to deny that both fans and developers recognize just how smooth these games play.

A Story Worth Telling

Most game developers try to tout their stories as a “must-see,” but how many of them really live up to it? Admit it, you’re skipping through more cutscenes than you care to admit, but there’s something different about the Arkham games. Whether you’re hallucinating to some fear toxin, coming face-to-face with Ra’s al Ghul or reliving the night Bruce Wayne’s parents were murdered, the stories have always been just as important as the boss battles and gameplay.

Rocksteady has managed to captivate audiences with an incredibly dense story stretched across three games, multiple comic book series and an animated movie.

Batman: Arkham’s legacy might not even be the video games themselves, but everything that went along with them. DC/Warner Bros. doesn’t see Arkham as a game series, they see it as a spin-off franchise of the Batman brand itself, complete with its own separate mythology and fan following.

Rocksteady didn’t just change gaming with this series; it fundamentally changed the Batman brand forever by adding this new splinter universe that is just as recognized—perhaps more so—than the Nolan movies and the comic books.


A Video Game Landscape Changed

Look at the three points above: devotion to a license, incredible gameplay mechanics and emotional, perfectly paced storytelling. It seems so simple, but how many other game franchises have achieved Rocksteady’s feat?

Whatever you think of the Arkham series—and I’m sure there are some haters out there—you can’t deny that it pushed the boundaries of what a superhero/licensed game should be. Hell, it pushed the boundary of what any game should be. And when you set out to do that, you’ll have a legacy worth bragging about.

Winner: DC


Round 5:                                                                                                                                              Legacy









Now don’t get me wrong, DC and Marvel are BOTH fantastic within their respective mediums and I am a massive fan of both of them. However, DC will stand the test of time, while Marvel, although great, relies heavily on trends and fads rather than crafting true masterpiece. The issue with Marvel is that nothing they create will be remembered. In short, Marvel constructs products whereas DC crafts art.

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I have a love/hate relationship with AMC’s The Walking Dead. The network recently announced plans for a spinoff series from their gory horror comic book adaptation, and if the original series’ ratings are any indication… it will be a hit.

I remember the day when the series was first announced. My excitement was CRAZY, and I immediately marked the occasion on my calendar (conveniently on Halloween night). I had never read the comics before, but I knew they were good. I  also loved all things “Zombie”.

The pilot was gripping, and fully satisfied my need for an emotional apocalyptic story. If you had asked, I would have said that this show was going to be the next big thing; six seasons and a movie! I never would have guessed that I’d be right… and that I’d completely lose interest at the same time.

After two seasons of droll characters, minimal levels of zombie-fueled intensity, and a story that seemed to lack direction… I gave up on my favorite TV show. It was about a full year before I returned to Kirkman’s universe in  the most unlikely of mediums: Telltale’s The Walking Dead, a videogame.

For those unfamiliar, Telltale Games is an independent digital publisher that specializes in interactive stories. Calling these products “video games”, however, is a bit misleading. Each of Telltale’s franchises sell their chapters as “Seasons” which are each divided into five “Episodes” released a few weeks apart. I usually describe a Telltale game as an “interactive television series” instead of a game. The finale episode of Telltale’s second season of TWD, titled: “No Going Back”, was released only a few weeks ago, and it made me weep like a preteen (GIRL) at a Justin Bieber concert… only in a sad way. A sadder way. I was sad. It’s sad.

Although the ratings for every iteration and deviation of Kirkman’s universe are high, Telltale’s take on The Walking Dead seems to receive the highest praise. After several recommendations, I purchased the game, and fell in love with it. It’s a flawless narrative experience that I recommend to anyone and everyone.

Having spent two seasons in the television series, and two in the Telltale series, I feel that I’m qualified to compare the two.  So here are three things AMC would have to learn from Telltale in order to convince me to rejoin the horde.


Both adaptations deal with several themes: humanity, religion, relationships, choice, survival, family, hope, innocence, etc. Unfortunately for AMC, Telltale’s story is much more streamlined, yielding stronger results.

Telltale’s first season features protagonist Lee Everett, a convicted murderer, with a 9-year-old girl named Clementine in his charge. The game is designed in such a way as to create an attachment between the player, as Lee, and Clementine. Even though we are controlling a fictional character, the illusion of interaction with Clementine feels very genuine, and her survival becomes just as important to our avatar, Lee, as it does to the audience (or the player). It helps that the voice acting is very strong, deepening the illusion of a relationship.

Clementine becomes Lee’s “spine”. In storytelling, a character’s “spine” is their “superobjective”, or their strongest desire that compels them through the narrative. Lee’s spine is to protect Clementine, and this spine guides Lee’s actions throughout the series. How Lee attempts to protect Clementine is up to the player, as the gameplay is structured around player choice, essentially a “choose your own adventure” structure. Regardless of the path any player chooses, the goal remains the same.

This superobjective is manifested in several ways; we keep Clem out of harms way… even if it means placing ourselves into it, we teach her how to use a gun, we cut her hair short to prevent Zombie’s from grabbing it, we can even choose to instill the ethics of survival or to teach her to value universal morality. Clementine grows up quickly, and it’s directly because of the player’s choices through our protagonist. While Lee is leading Clementine, Clementine is also affecting Lee. The more attached they become to each other, the more open they are with their pasts, their fears, and their hopes.

Lee is a massively underqualified father figure. He’s made huge mistakes, which, in our world, would immediately disqualify him from parenthood. This is the theme of Season 1: Paternity. Up until the very end, the entire story is about Lee and his relationship with Clementine.

Let’s compare Lee Everett to Sheriff Rick Grimes.

Rick opens AMC’s first season with an excellent spine: find his family. He is in the middle of a world he doesn’t understand, having been unconscious in a hospital for an unspecified amount of time. He returns home only to find the house abandoned… but he discovers clues, clues that indicate they fled the zombie horde. In short, there’s hope that they’re still alive. And thus our hero embarks on his quest!!!

…not three episodes later he finds his family.

This is halfway through the first season.

AMC’s first season was expensive to produce, so the network only purchased six episodes. With such a short season it shouldn’t have been too difficult to extend Rick’s spine to the final episode. This would have provided us with a first season that feels more “packaged”. When our character’s spine is resolved too early, it removes much of the emotional weight that would accompany it. What’s worse is that once Rick finds his family, he seems to lose any semblance of a spine. What is his goal? What do they do next? It’s difficult to pinpoint it beyond anything as simple as “survive”, but for a zombie story that’s not very creative… is it? Anyone and everyone want’s to survive, so why are we following this story?

The result is a season that lacks a theme. There is no real label we can attach to AMC’s first season. The subsequent season seemed to come a little closer, but there are too many themes this time, and they are split amongst too many characters. There’s sexuality (Glenn and Maggie), mortality (Hershel), familial bonds (Carol and Daryl), paternity (Rick and Carl), Marriage (Rick, Lori, Shane), etc.; and it can be a bit difficult to keep track of them all. It’s almost as if by having it all take place on one location, Hershel’s farm, AMC assumed that the multitude of subplots would be easier to follow. This is mistaking a constructed story for a crafted story. Every part of Telltale’s first seasonal narrative eventually comes back to Lee and Clementine; AMC’s narrative is all over the place.


A close friend of mine once told me that a truly great film uses everything twice. If something weighty happens, but it’s never brought up again… it’s only filler. If something happens more than twice, it’s repetitive.

Both of Telltale’s seasons implement this storytelling tactic to great effect. At the end of the first season’s first episode, Lee Everett has to decide whether or not to permit a woman to commit suicide after a zombie bite. At the season’s finale, Lee has to choose whether or not to ask for the same treatment from his adopted daughter.

It doesn’t always have to be so literal though, and the second season uses foreshadowing with a more subtle approach. During the second season’s first episode, Clementine is alone. She stumbles upon a friendly dog who accompanies her as she scavenges for food. Although Clem and the Dog form a report, their relationship is cut short when the Dog attacks Clementine in order to steal food. In self-defense Clementine kicks the dog away, impaling it on some tent-poles. Clementine then must decide whether or not to put him out of his misery, or leave him to suffer. During the season finale, Clementine must decide whether or not to put a beloved companion, Kenny, out of his misery whilst he is in a fit of rage. Kenny is a danger to everyone around him, and he has a knife at the throat of another group member. Kenny is a mad dog, but he was a loyal dog to you. The player must then decide whether or not put Kenny down, just as they had to decide what to do with the mad dog.

By contrast, AMC’s the Walking Dead seems to be full of moments that just don’t matter to the story in any way. Rather, it’s a series of highlights, which are broken up by some droll soap-drama that slow the action as opposed to intensifying it.

Let’s dissect AMC’s second season. In the premiere, a child goes missing in the group. They spend half a season looking for her in the shelter of a nearby farm, only to discover that she was in the farm’s barn the entire time… already dead. There is some bickering over supplies and sexual drama until the finale. During the finale an enormous horde overwhelms the camp as the survivors flee in search of a new refuge.

We know that Rick and Shane are eventually going to have to talk through their differences, and we know that eventually we’ll be heartbroken to learn of the child’s fate… but it’s less satisfying when things just seem to happen at random from a result of circumstance.


Telltale’s series is wrapped up into a beautiful gift, whereas AMC’s series feels like it’s been improvised. Several of the AMC episodes are filled with incredibly superfluous horror sequences which, removed from the show, wouldn’t change any dynamics of the series.

The most odd of which is during the second season, when a heavy-set walker finds itself trapped in a well. The team agrees that they need to tie a rope around the zombies neck in order to remove it from the well, since killing the zombie would only pollute the water supply. For one thing, this has no thematic or narrative connection to any of our characters’ superobjectives… and secondly, it simply doesn’t make sense. A dead body in a well… has already polluted the well. Removing it without killing it won’t matter. Just ditch the well. It’s a silly scene, and completely insignificant to the story’s grander arc.


This is, far and away, AMC’s The Walking Dead most common complaint. I had stopped watching the show by the time Lori died in Season 3, but I certainly knew it happened when my facebook feed was cluttered with “hallelujahs.” I felt the same way when Shane died, and I was praying for the death of Andrea and Carl through several episodes. There are a few diamonds in the rough, such as Dale, Glenn, Maggie, and Daryl… but the rest are either useless or boring… and that unfortunately includes our droll “goody-two-shoes” protagonist Rick Grimes.

Compare Rick, once again, to Lee Everett… a man convicted of murder whose now fathering a 9 year old orphan. He has a history, and most of it’s unknown to us. But he’s compassionate, kind, and endearing… unless you threaten those close to him. There’s an argument that takes place during the first episode of the first season regarding whether or not to kill a child who had potentially been bitten. If you choose to stand up for the child… Lee’s reaction is pretty scary. He’s certainly not a softie.

Let’s also compare AMC’s Carl, to Telltale’s Clementine. They are very similar in that they’re both children who’re in the progress of losing their innocence to a world gone crazy. The difference between the two is that Carl is a constant source of conflict without personality, whereas Clementine is a receptor of conflict who boasts a strong personality. She’s soft-hearted and weak, but she’s strong hearted and has the capacity for feats of bravery (especially in the second season). She even adds some significant humor to the story. Clementine is a character, and Carl is simply a plot device.

It’s very important to make sure that all your characters have more redeeming (or interesting!) qualities than negative ones, and give them a background that justifies those qualities. Creating a well-rounded and compelling character is  difficult, but it’s especially important for villains. Shane was the group’s leader before Rick returned, but this doesn’t justify Shane’s power-hungry attitude throughout 16 episodes… even if it did, Shane has no positive qualities that encourage us to root for him, and no qualities which add intrigue to his character! None of his actions really come as a surprise, and his super objective is unclear, which prevents compelling drama from exisitng.

There’s a incredibly compelling villain in Telltale’s second season named Carver, voiced by the wonderful Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs). Carver has no redeeming qualities, but his character carries a strong presence into every situation. There’s no questions about it, Carver is ruthless, but his actions make sense. We understand his decision making process, and we fear the authority he commands in his totalitarian seat of power. In short, it’s difficult to predict Carver’s actions, but it’s certain that they will usually be horrifying, and are always justified by circumstance. Shane’s character seems to act at random, on occasion making logical decisions, and on occasion making strange ones… without a clear reason why. Carver wants to survive the apocalypse in a seat of authority. Shane wants to… sleep with Lori, I think?

Lily, the group’s acting leader in Telltale’s first season, often makes brash decisions based on her emotions. She is very similar to Shane in a lot of ways. Lily is also an emotionally, physically, and spiritually exhausted person. She watches her father’s face get smashed in, is responsible for divvying out an extremely meager supply of food rations every day (which she occasionally refuses for herself), and struggles to sleep at night. Lilly deals with a lot of personal and emotional garbage which transitions into her ability to effectively to lead the group. Lily also sacrifices her personal comfort for those around her. She’s selfless. This selflessness eventually causes her to “snap”, and murder a member of your group, for the good of the group. Even amidst this heated moment, it’s distressing to watch as Lily falls… completely betrayed by her own fear and exhaustion. She’s real. She’s authentic. Everyone in Telltale’s universe is.


AMC gave us Shane, Andrea, and Carl.

In conclusion… it ultimately comes down to creating a well-rounded experience. Telltale’s experience sets out with an objective… to make you feel the weight of parenthood during an apocalypse (Season 1), or how to deal with being a child whose lost their innocence (Season 2). Both seasons are an emotional rollercoaster. I can only describe AMC’s TWD as a soap opera occasionally interrupted by zombie action sequences. It’s certainly doing something right, as it’s one of AMC’s highest rated shows, but I think the new spinoff series ought to aim a little higher.

I believe that Telltale proved that the viewers want a story about zombies, but they need a story with heart.

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GTA V: What Rockstar could learn from Batman Arkham City

GTA V could learn a thing or two from Batman: Arkham City. While the talented team at Rockstar Games sparked the open world phenomenon that defined the last generation of consoles, refinements made by other development studios provide GTA’s creators with the opportunity to perfect open-world gaming.



Substance over Size

A common criticism of open-world games is that large map sizes create a sparse playground for gamers. When scope overshadows focus, open-world games suffer. Even GTA IV, which scored a 97/100 from critics, was not immune to this problem. Batman Arkham City had scored a 100/100. Liberty City was beautifully rendered and filled with content for the player to experience, yet the majority of the game’s buildings were off limits. In short, the environment lacked character and density.

Red Dead Redemption, the studio’s latest release, largely skirted this issue due to its setting. The game’s fictitious take on the Wild West hosted a large map punctuated by small, colorful towns. If you stick to the main roads, you will often pass by fellow travelers going about their daily business. By the virtue of its era, Rockstar did not need to figure out how to enliven a metropolis filled with endless skyscrapers.


Developer Rocksteady’s Arkham City introduced an open-world that managed to infuse character and meaning into the players surroundings. As Batman glides around Gotham, graffiti tags can be spied on the sides of buildings, villains’ territories can be understood through the costumes their henchmen wear, and AI consistently spouts dialogue that acknowledges the players’ input. Although a number of buildings are not open to the player, the illusion that people inhabit them keeps the navigation from feeling repetitive. The team behind Batman: Arkham City crafted an environment that speaks to its players, a lesson that GTA could benefit from.