Category Archives: Arts & Entertainment

Animal Crossing: New Horizons has people hooked

Chloe Burdette

Editor in Chief

 

Since passing the one-year anniversary of the initial COVID lockdown in the United States, I have done plenty of reminiscing about my life one year ago. Not much has changed, but all I knew is that during that initial lockdown, I had to stay in my house and somehow find a way to keep myself occupied for the next several months. I tried knitting, earring-making and even baking cakes to keep my hands moving. While these kept my creative juices flowing, I still felt unsatisfied when the day would end, and I would vow to choose another hobby for the next day. But, on March 20, 2020, the day’s new hobby was about to become an everyday obsession — Animal Crossing: New Horizons for the Nintendo Switch.

First off, Animal Crossing is not a new franchise. The first Animal Crossing game debuted in 2002 in the United States on the GameCube, a console that my family happened to own when I was the ripe age of three. From what I was told when I first was introduced to Animal Crossing, it was the game that people played when they wanted to wind down from their own chaotic lives. Of course, that intrigued me. The game was a low-stakes, relaxing option for even the most amateur of gamers. What more could you want from a video game? When I was finally old enough to maneuver a controller, my parents bought me Animal Crossing: City Folk for the Nintendo Wii. Animal Crossing: City Folk was the first Animal Crossing game I ever owned, and despite my excitement for the game, I was never truly impressed. My underdeveloped mind in 2008 became easily bored, and I only played it for a few months before I gave up. I didn’t play an Animal Crossing game again until I was 21 years old and boredom had hit an all-time high. But boy, am I happy I did.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a game that can suck you in for hours. You play as a self-created character that you can customize with clothing you either buy or design yourself. You live on an island that is completely bare until you decorate it to your heart’s content. You have neighbors who are all different kinds of animals but have human-like qualities. You can talk to these animal neighbors and form relationships with them. But the greatest part about this game is that there is truly no objective. Yes, you have to pay off your house in “bells,” the game’s currency, and you have to try to get a five-star rating from Isabelle in Resident Services, but the creative freedom people have in this game is still unmatched. You can fish, plant a garden or even celebrate the holidays in real time with your chatty animal friends. 

Now, I am sure you are asking: do you ever get bored with this Animal Crossing game? The answer is rarely, because there are always new updates when the holidays come around, and you can complete many mini-tasks to build different pieces of furniture for your home. Additionally, if you have friends who also play the game, you can visit their islands and do all kinds of activities with them. The possibilities are truly endless with this game. If you ever find yourself bored with nothing to do, give Animal Crossing a shot. You won’t be disappointed! But if you are, sorry, I don’t determine your happiness.

Fury Bowser adds a twist to Super Mario 3D world

Michael Curran

Contributing Writer

 

Last time, I mostly talked about the 3D World part of the Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury. I think Bowser’s Fury deserves its own section because it is a wholly new adventure included alongside 3D World and is available right from the start. The game’s story is pretty simple; it starts with Mario walking outside Peach’s Castle and seeing a black goopy “M.” The goop expands and Mario falls through the ground and lands in a place called Lake Lapcat. Mario then encounters a darker, much larger, ferocious Bowser: “Fury Bowser.” After collecting the first Cat Shine (the main collectible of the game), Fury Bowser temporarily leaves, and Mario meets Bowser Jr., who asks Mario to help him return his father to normal form. 

The whole of Bowser’s Fury takes place within Lake Lapcat, a free-roaming, watery island that is open-world like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (no loading zones between “areas”). Mario retains the same moveset and controls as in 3D World with the addition of Bowser Jr., who can be controlled by a second player. Player one can also set his AI level so he doesn’t intervene at all, intervenes a little or intervenes a lot. His role is to help Mario defeat enemies and to paint surfaces with question marks on them, which usually contain power-ups. For a single player, a motion-controlled pointer directs where and what they want Bowser Jr. to examine. 

Periodically, Fury Bowser will appear as you collect Cat Shines. The sky turns dark, and blobs of fire rain from the sky. Extra pillars appear, the friendly kittens turn possessed and he unleashes a stream of fire upon you. Some Cat Shines are encased within Fury Blocks, which only Fury Bowser’s fiery breath can break. Avoiding him can be tricky, especially near the end of the game. A real prop of Bowser’s Fury is that you can store five of each of the six power-ups in the game: mushrooms, fire flowers, boomerang flowers, super bells, super leaves and lucky bells. This really helps you progress through challenges without worrying about not having the right power-ups. Meanwhile, Plessie is wonderfully useful for traveling long distances via water. It’s fun, and there’s plenty of Cat Shine challenges that require him. 

Some of the challenges can be a little repetitive, such as collecting blue coins or going through Plessie rings, and the bosses other than Fury Bowser aren’t difficult. Fortunately, the environment is very engaging, and Fury Bowser spices up the action. Now, when you get a certain number of Cat Shines, a very special power-up called the Giga Bell appears. With this, Mario transforms into a mega Cat Mario, allowing you to fight Fury Bowser head on. You fight him in this state several times, but unfortunately these fights don’t change in nature until the “last” fight. I should say you only need 50 Cat Shines to beat the game but there are a total of 100 for you to collect. 

When I first played Super Mario Odyssey, I had expected “open-world” to mean you could walk from one world/area to the next without big loading zones or warps (like in Breath of the Wild). While I thought Odyssey was a blast and a masterpiece, I couldn’t help be slightly disappointed that it was only “open-world” in the Super Mario 64 sense. That is, each kingdom is surrounded by an infinite abyss so you need the Odyssey (the airship) to fly from kingdom to kingdom. Bowser’s Fury perfectly encapsulated what I took “open-world” to mean. I think (and certainly hope) this game is a small taste of what design direction traditional 3D Mario is taking.

Virtual production highlights immigration injustices

Sarah Caley

Staff Writer

 

Last Friday, the Department of Theatre and Dance and the BIPOC Performing Arts Alliance hosted a debut viewing of “Caged,” one of five productions created by the department last fall under the heading “Theatre of Urgency: Creative Responses to 2020.” The event was held through Zoom with the playwright and director. Jimmy Noriega, professor of theatre & dance, and the cast, Victoria Silva ’23, Rickey Cooper ’22 and Teresa Ascencio ’23. Noriega opened the event by explaining the process of putting together the fall productions by commissioning new plays from five BIPOC playwrights on various topics pertaining to social justice. Silva and Ascencio, the co-presidents of the BIPOC Alliance, then spoke briefly about the idea behind the organization, the process of becoming chartered and how this event is the first of many that the Alliance hopes to host. To facilitate viewing of the production, Noriega provided a link for guests to access and view at their own pace.

“Caged” begins with an audio clip of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s remarks in May 2018 regarding the new “zero tolerance” policy for illegal crossings being implemented at the U.S.-Mexico border. This clip is followed by descriptions of measures that the Trump administration took to crack down on these crossings, including separating children from their parents and holding them in detention centers. When the three actors come on screen, they are contained in metal cages, crying out for their parents in Spanish. As the play progresses, the three children give individual accounts of how they left their countries to come to the U.S., but were ultimately caught, taken from their parents and placed in a detention facility. More quotes from the Trump administration are interspersed throughout the play, as well as conversations among the three children about their lives back home and how they feel about being imprisoned. The play touches on a number of specific issues affecting the children in these centers, including the actors using foil blankets as props and a conversation regarding the fact that both boys and girls in the facility are being sexually assaulted by guards. “Caged” ends with the three children still in their cages, with no knowledge of when they may be able to reconcile with their families.

After the viewing of the production, Noriega and the cast answered questions from the audience. When asked about the writing process, Noriega responded that he had conducted a great deal of research and that the majority of available content is focused on immigrant adults, meaning “the children never get an opportunity to tell their stories,” which he wanted to remedy. Ascensio spoke about working with such a heavy topic, and expressed gratitude for the support that the cast gave one another. Cooper explained that “it was hard, but that’s why we were doing it.” Finally, Noriega emphasized that “this is not a play about the past and the injustice of the past but of the current moment,” and that he hoped that “Caged” would shed light on an ongoing issue.

A media release with links to all five fall productions will be published soon.

Fun board games to play when you’re feeling bored

Holly Engel

Arts & Entertainment Editor

 

Being in quarantine was good for at least one thing other than assuring I didn’t get COVID: I got to try my hand at several board games, in person and over Zoom. If you find yourself stuck in the endless void scientists are calling “Netflix and TikTok” and you’re searching for a way out, I highly recommend getting together (safely) with friends or family for a game of skill, knowledge or, as you’ll soon see, bad poetry. Hopefully this list will give you a place to start, whether you’re able to play in person or virtually. 

 

Codenames: Not only did this game give me the opportunity to fulfill my childhood dream of being a spy, but gameplay was simple. Acting as a spymaster or field operative, your goal is to cooperate with your team members and contact all of your agents before the other team contacts theirs (the two-player version simulates another team). The spymaster gives one-word hints to help their field operative(s) guess which codenames belong to the correct agents. Though Codenames was not intended to be played virtually, it’s not difficult to do so, as long as at least one person has the game and is able to send photos to the other players.

Poetry for Neanderthals: This is honestly the funniest game I’ve played in years. I could not stop laughing because frankly, it makes everyone sound ridiculous. Want to know what I mean? Try to describe “I.S. Stress” using only single-syllable words. The game lives up to its name as players try to get their team members to guess a complex subject, like “love” or “emotional breakdown” using words with only one syllable, just like the Neanderthal poets of old. The best part is the “NO stick,” an inflatable club that you get to whack the “poet” on the head with when they accidentally say a multi-syllable word. The gamemakers had the pandemic in mind, too, creating something that would not be too difficult to play virtually.

Trivial Pursuit: This is a hard-core nerd game that’s perfect for independent minds who don’t want to work together. It’s also super easy to play over Zoom, since the majority of the game is reading trivia and guessing the answers. Battle to the death and emerge as the smartest of them all by answering trivia from six categories ranging from science to literature to pop culture. The other nice thing about Trivial Pursuit is that there’s a version for everyone, including Star Wars, Disney and Book Lovers’ Editions.

Cards: This obviously isn’t a board game, but there are so many game possibilities, virtually and in person, with a deck of cards that it would be a shame to leave the option out. Not only are there a billion versions of solitaire, but there are competitive games, strategic games, fish-related games, the list goes on. Feeling slap-happy? Try Egyptian Ratscrew, a somewhat violent game where players must be first to slap the deck in the center of the playing space to win cards. Want to frustrate everyone? Try Mao, where you make up your own rules — but nobody else knows what they are. Tired of forking? Try Spoon (not the restaurant), a speedy card-matching game which actually involves real spoons. The possibilities are endless.

“Moxie’s” feminist agenda lacks intersectionality

Emma Reiner

Senior Features Writer

 

“I want Amy Poehler to be my mom.” That was the first text I sent to my friends after watching the Netflix film “Moxie.” Directed by and starring Poehler, it is a coming-of-age story about a teenage girl anonymously starting a feminist zine at her high school, which leads to the creation of a feminist group named “Moxie.” The girl is inspired by her mom’s (played by Poehler) involvement in the riot grrrl movement of the 60s. Unlike Poehler’s “cool mom” role in “Mean Girls,” Poehler portrays a feminist mom who is actually cool. Poehler shines in this movie as a director and actress by beginning conversations on intersectional feminism, but she falls short in addressing these issues fully. 

“Moxie” begins with the protagonist, Vivian, being inspired by a new student, Lucy, and her own mother’s punk-rock, feminist past. Looking through zines her mom made, Vivian decides to anonymously publish a zine, entitled “Moxie,” calling out the misogynistic behavior of her male classmates and the school’s administration. This leads to female students starting a club called “Moxie” to fight against sexism in their school. This group includes athletes Kiera and Amaya, who want to be recognized as much as their male counterparts in sports; CJ, a trans woman who wants to audition for a female role; Kaitlynn, who was sent home because she wore a tank top and Claudia, Vivian’s Chinese-American friend.

This movie begins conversations about feminism, especially its need for diversity and intersectionality, but it does not fully flesh out these ideas. Instead, it is an introduction to intersectional feminism. Vivian and her mom are white women who seem to come from the middle class. While the other characters in “Moxie” are either BIPOC or part of the LGBTQ+ communities, their storylines are used to support the overall story instead of standing alone. 

For instance, when Kiera loses a sports scholarship competition to Mitchell, a white male football player, the plot focuses on Vivian’s anger and subsequent rebellion instead of Kiera and other female athletes. In another scene, Claudia is suspended for her participation in the group. When Vivan apologizes, Claudia reminds Vivian of her white privilege, saying, “I don’t have the freedom to take the risks that you do” because her mom sacrificed so much for her. Vivian replies saying that she’s sorry, and then Claudia tells her she has to go. This conversation could have led to a larger discussion on intersectional feminism, but instead it is rushed and does not give the viewer time to process it. 

This movie also barely features people with disabilities, who are often left out of feminist discussions. Meg is the only character who we see that is in a wheelchair, but she barely has any lines and is portrayed as a less important member of the group. She also does not have a storyline in the film. 

These supporting characters should have been given larger roles because feminism is and should continue to be about all women, not just white, straight, cisgender women. This International Women’s Month, we should commit to uplifting and supporting every woman around us.

Women writers thrive in the fantasy genre

Annie Ketler

Contributing Writer

 

International Women’s Day gives us many opportunities: a chance to reflect on what has happened in the past, a chance to consider all that women can do and a chance to dream about what’s to come. Women of every race and identity all across the world come together to dream about S.T.E.M., art, history and, most importantly to me, literature.

As long as there has been writing, there have been women writers. The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shibiku is the earliest known novel to have been written by a woman. Sappho was one of the nine lyric poets of Greek times, and one of the most respected, even to this day. Emily Bronte wrote Wuthering Heights and Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice, two of the most popular and parodied works in the 21st century. Yet while we know and admire women for many classical aspects of literature, and recognize them for young adult works (Harry Potter, “Twilight) or dystopian works (A Handmaid’s Tale, “he Hunger Games, “Divergent), we often fail to recognize the writing accomplishments of women in the fantasy genre.

Women have been writing fantasy for a very long time, and they make up a large portion of self-published writing in the fantasy and romance genres. V. Romas Burton of the Heartmender series, Hope Ann of the “Legends of Light” novellas (if you haven’t read Shadowkeeper or Healer’s Bane, you’re missing out), Angela R. Watts of the bestselling Infidel Trilogy and the upcoming GOLGOTHA, and R. M. Archer of The Mirror-Hunter Chronicles are just some of the amazing women making strides in the self-publishing world.

There are incredibly amazing women who have been traditionally published and have made huge strides in the fantasy world. Sarah J. Maas is the bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series and now has offers to make TV shows out of her books. Her works are popular worldwide and have cult followings similar to that of Game of Thrones.

N.K. Jemisin is a woman of color, known for her books Inheritance and Broken Earth trilogies, and hailed as “the most celebrated science fiction and fantasy writer of her generation” by the New York Times. 

You might find yourself wondering: are any of these wonderful female authors from Ohio? The answer is yes! In fact, two of the grandest authors of this decade are from right here!

Cinda Chima Williams is a name I’m positive you have seen in libraries. A New York Times bestselling author, Cinda Chima Williams, is responsible for works such as The Heir Chronicles, The Shattered Realm Series and The Seven Realms series. I met Cinda Chima Williams at the Rodman Public Library, also in Ohio, and she is one of the most interesting, most creative people I have ever met. She is from Springfield, and her books can be found in Barnes and Nobles, Books-a-Millions and libraries across the country.

The other author is the one and only Emily A. Duncan, who wrote the bestselling novel Wicked Saints. Duncan is an unapologetic goth, born and raised in Ohio, who graduated from Malone University and got her master’s at Kent State University. Her Wicked Saints series now includes three books, all as powerful as the first, dreamed up at her alma mater.

Women are making strides in the fantasy fields. Although it is powerful enough for us that women are making these grand achievements, it is even more inspiring for me that some of these bestselling authors come from Ohio.