Why Fans Should Be Excited for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Today is the day, December 7th, 2018. Today marks the release of Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the latest entry in the EXTREMELY popular fighting/beat-em’-up franchise Super Smash Bros. This entry promises to be the “ultimate” fighting game this generation, and so far it has delivered said promise.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is definitely the most ambitious entry of the franchise, as the game recalls every single playable character that has been a part of the franchise to fight their way to victory alongside some new faces as well! Fan favorites like Snake (from the METAL GEAR SOLID franchise), Cloud (FINAL FANTASY), and the Villager (ANIMAL CROSSING) all return to join the game’s incredible roster alongside new entries like Ridley (METROID), Incineroar (POKEMON: SUN AND MOON) and even Isabelle (ANIMAL CROSSING)! The game’s roster features 74-75 characters, 69 of which are available now and six (including Piranha Plant) of which will be available with the game’s Fighter Season Pass (available for $25 on the eShop).

(Image via Kix.fm)

Unfortunately (for some fans, I rather enjoy it), there are only seven fighters available once you boot up the game for the first time. In order to play all the characters, you must play to unlock them all. There are various ways of doing this, but the easiest way so far is to just play the classic Smash Mode. After about ten minutes of playing matches, a random fighter should appear for players to battle and unlock. There are other ways of unlocking characters, but this method seems to be the fastest since it only requires you to play versus matches. Players can fight solo with bots if they wish to go through the process of unlocking all the characters as well.

However, the game’s huge roster isn’t the only thing fans should be excited about. The game will also be featuring a solo adventure mode entitled “WORLD OF LIGHT”. The adventure mode’s story revolves around the mysterious villain Galeem and their attack on our universe. Galeem’s power matched too strong for our heroes, and every hero was evaporated by Galeem’s light… except for Kirby. Now it’s up to Kirby to dispel this fog that shadows the universe and bring his friends back into the fight. This game mode features 15-20 hours of single-player content and a complex, but easy to learn, spirit system that will help players in battle. 

Another feature that fans should be excited for is a new setting for classic battles called “Stage Morph”. This setting (if turned on) allows for maps to change during battles. This way the game’s enormous selection of stages can get more screen time. Players can set when the Stage Morph occurs, but the stages that appear are automatically set to be completely randomized.

So far, from what I’ve played, the game plays just how I remember the other games in the franchise, except Nintendo seems to have really outdone themselves this time. The gameplay feels fresh and there’s so much content to keep even the most-hardcore of Smash fans happy. The game is available now on the Nintendo eShop and in stores for $60. Pick up your copy and join in the fight!


Red Dead Redemption 2 Is A Blast

I am roughly about 25 hours into Red Dead Redemption 2 and I am loving every single part of it so far. From the charismatic and heavily detailed world to the surprisingly lovable and complex characters, Red Dead Redemption 2 is nothing short of magnificent.

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The world itself is ginormous and Rockstar (the developers behind the game) does an amazing job of populating the world with interesting and riveting side characters and the general public that truly make the world feel alive. As you’re traveling the countryside by horse, you might find someone stranded on the side of the road in need of some medicine, or you might find someone who is waiting to jump you and rob you. The world feels like it’s all completely natural, it’s an incredibly immersive experience. The level of detail that Rockstar has provided is insane. A great example is early on in the game, you are stuck in the mountains in the freezing cold. If you look close enough, you can see that your horse’s testicles shrivel up when it gets colder and vice-versa when it gets warmer. It’s the little details like this that truly make Red Dead Redemption 2 stand out.

You, the player, play as bounty hunter/thief Arthur Morgan. Arthur is a part of a rag-tag gang of misfits who truly seem like they are a part of one big family. Each character has their reason for being a part of the group, and each character gets plenty of character development throughout the story. The writing and voice acting is easily the best part of Red Dead Redemption 2. I’m not even talking about just the main characters here, too. The side characters the bountiful amount of people you’ll find in the wild are extremely well-made to seem realistic. Characters have real motivations that keep them going and their actions (for the most part) feel justified.

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The combat is extremely fun, but it can take a little bit of getting used to. Dead Eye, a feature that allows the player to slow down time and mark their targets, makes a return from the first game. It’s a little more complex now with the fact that it’s one of three main cores that you need to keep an eye on. Arthur requires the player to keep him in shape and healthy so that he can gun down other outlaws efficiently. These cores can be easily maintained by sleeping, eating certain provisions, and/or drinking tonics that will temporarily boost your cores/abilities.

The guns in Red Dead Redemption 2 feel wonderful. It’s almost as if you’re actually a real-life gunslinger as you dual-wield sick cowboy revolvers to mow down your enemies. The level of detail on the weapons alone is worth customizing that sweet golden revolver and even engraving a rattlesnake onto it. The gameplay is invigorating and is sure to keep players coming back for more.

I can’t wait to keep playing and find out what more Rockstar has up their sleeve when Red Dead Online comes out later this month. For now, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Red Dead Redemption 2 and release your inner cowboy bounty hunter.



Venom (2018) Review

Venom is an origin story focused on the Marvel comic book character Venom. He is arguably one of the most popular of Spider-Man’s adversaries. He made his first appearance in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 back in 2007 as first being a part of Spider-Man’s black suit, but then found a new host in news journalist Eddie Brock. This origin story sees Eddie Brock (played by Tom Hardy) investigating a company called The Life Foundation run by Riz Ahmed’s character, who is the villain of this story. The foundation has brought back four “parasite beings” that they refer to as “symbiotes”. These “symbiotes” are living creatures that in order to live on Earth, they must take up a worthy and equal host. While investigating The Life Foundation, Eddie happens upon the “symbiote” known as Venom and the two morph into, essentially, one being.

What I just described to you, in just one paragraph, is essentially the slow climb that is the first thirty minutes of the movie. Once Venom actually shows up, both the story and the action start steadily increasing in quality. However, the movie has quite a few falters. For one, Riz Ahmed, as great of an actor as he is, cannot help but fall victim to another horribly-written villain cliché that Marvel, and frankly most superhero movies, cannot let go of. Riz’s character believes that life on Earth is fading fast and the only way to survive is through symbiosis. The villain is loony, I’ll give the writers credit it for that, but there’s not enough charismatic character development at play here. There’s no real reason to care for the villain’s motive. It doesn’t help that it takes forever for the villain to morph with one of the other symbiotes, Riot, which gives him a way of bringing other symbiotes to Earth.

Now that the plot and villain are out of the way, we can focus on the mess that is the rest of the movie. The best part of Venom is Tom Hardy’s portrayal of both Eddie Brock and Venom. Hardy did the voice recording for Venom and the chemistry between the two characters is well-written and overall hilarious. Venom, who only Eddie can hear, gives some laugh-out-loud commentary as Eddie Brock steers the body. The design of Venom is well-done; however, I would have liked to have seen the white Spider logo that Venom is usually rocking on his gigantic torso/chest region. I can say without a doubt that this movie would have failed if Tom Hardy hadn’t given his all to the character. You can tell that he’s having with playing both Venom and Eddie Brock.

Sadly, that’s seemingly the only great part of the movie. The editing and pacing of the movie are sloppy and often cut away from what we are supposed to be invested in to go to another scene with too much exposition. I think Sony was trying too hard to make Venom a platform to which they could spawn more villain movies, but it ends up not focusing enough on Eddie and Venom’s relationship.  The other performances, like Michelle Williams from The Greatest Showman, fall flat and are not given enough emotion and expression for the audience to really care.

In the end, Venom is such a bad movie that it’s hilarious to watch and experience. I found myself laughing at the interactions between Eddie and Venom, but more importantly laughing at how awful the pacing of the movie was. Fans of Venom might be interested in seeing Tom Hardy’s portrayal of the two characters, but for the most part, Sony ruins the movie by forcing too much exposition into one origin story. It doesn’t help that they’re trying to establish a “villain cinematic universe” without much to go off of. If you’re looking for a great superhero movie this weekend, Venom probably isn’t it.

Verdict: 5/10

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

They say actions speak louder than words,

Is that the reason I listen to people chirp like birds?

Rather than tell my own story,

I listen to someone else’s.

As a friend unravels their problems,

I’m busy storing mine for later use.

I bottle up these problems of mine

Because why rant when I can listen?

No one wants to hear these problems of mine.

OPINION: Why You Should Play Dungeons & Dragons

Dungeons and Dragons, for those unfamiliar with the title, is a tabletop role-playing game where a group of three to six players goes on majestic adventures and quests in an imaginary world. The only materials you need to play the game are a pencil, a set of dice, a character sheet (where you’ll record everything to do about your character like race, class, age, etc.), and your imagination. With these materials combined alongside a roster of friends and a handy Dungeon Master at the helm, Dungeons and Dragons transforms normal outings into spectacular journeys that are not only fun but are also great for bonding/socializing with friends.

Imagination is key to playing Dungeons and Dragons. The Dungeon Master, the person who creates the world and guides the party, uses their words to craft a magical and immersive world that can’t be seen unless you choose to see it. If you go into D&D not willing to accept that the game is mostly “pretend” then you’re not going to have a great time. It’s the validation that those who enter the world of D&D choose to accept the fact that none of this is real that really allows the DM to “go wild” when creating such a world. For the players, it’s the role-playing between fictional characters, the insane battles and even the compelling plot narratives that truly make D&D legendary.

If you’re worried about not being able to find a group, just know that you shouldn’t have to look very far for other players who are just as excited as you are. There are plenty of resources/websites online that allow players to find each other and build parties fairly easily. A common website players use is Roll20. Roll20 is a website that is free and provides servers for groups to get together to play D&D online. If you’re not willing to search online, find a way to advertise in your local town and even in your school that you’re looking for more players to come to join a D&D campaign. It’s not incredibly hard, you just need to have the confidence and motivation to put yourself out there. Once you do cross that rickety, old bridge, you’ll find that the results are worth the risk you took. Dungeons and Dragons is not just a game, it’s a social community that cares about what they’re doing and who they’re playing with. Groups of players quickly become small families that grow closer as friends and are able to “geek/nerd out” around other people and be themselves without fear of being made fun of.

In conclusion, Dungeons and Dragons is a wonderful experience no matter who you are. Finding a group can be a little tough at first, but once you figure out how to get more players interested, you’ll have an awesome new group of friends in no time. Dungeons and Dragons is fairly cheap (unless you buy a boat-load of dice and most of the licensed books/manuals like I did), so you don’t have to spend a ton to be able to have fun with your friends. The game can also be life-changing as well. You’ll find that the group of players you’re with will quickly turn into a group of close friends, maybe even a family. Dungeons and Dragons is not just a “nerdy” game, it’s a hobby that brings together friends and goblins alike.

If this already seemingly compelling post doesn’t convince you to play, here’s a link to a YouTube video from the Twitter account Vox that explains in full-depth why Dungeons and Dragons is the game you need to play. The video even goes over the rules and describes what sessions are like. Just remember that D&D is all about having fun with friends! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PEt5RdNHNw

Visiting Writer Series: James McKean

Literary Mustangs

James McKean, a former professor here at Mount Mercy University, returned to campus yesterday in the latest entry of the “Visiting Writer Series”. James McKean, now having published three books of his own including a collection of poetry and a collection of personal essays, spoke to a decent-sized crowd in Flaherty about his writing process. The event had two parts: a 3:30 Q&A session and a 7:00 Reading session.

Sadly, I was only able to go to the Q&A session; however, one session was enough for me to understand that James McKean is a wonderful human being. As I walked down to Basile ten minutes before the session was supposed to start, I ran into Mary Vermillion walking James to Flaherty and she introduced me as one of the PAHA editors. I looked at this, sort of colossal being in front of me and I jokingly told him that Carol had…

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Love, Simon is Fantastic, and You’re Guaranteed to Fall in Love With Its Sheer Heart

Comic Fade

Love, Simon is a film that is bursting with heart and brilliance. The premise of the movie is quite simple: Simon Spier is a senior in high-school that is just like everyone else. Except for one secret: he’s actually gay. Simon spends most of the movie trying to figure out who Blue is, another closeted gay student that has been emailing back and forth with Simon throughout the movie. The movie highlights Simon’s struggle with coming out and how painful it is for that moment to be taken away all in one moment. The movie builds upon this premise to deliver something incredible: a very relatable and heart-warming story that tugs at the tear-ducts.


Director Greg Berlanti weaves together a truly remarkable film that features clever and up-to-date writing, an amazing cast and a beautiful soundtrack. Nick Robinson, the actor who plays Simon, delivers such an inspiring and relatable performance…

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Sun Spot

The Plebeian Strain

What do you want to be when you grow up?

“A firefighter”

“A doctor”

“An astronaut”


A simple question and a simple answer

but there are hurdles and hoops you have to go through

to make sure you are alive

A man with a white face has been depicted as society’s hero

and while superman can stop bullets

children cannot

children should not

but children did.

A parent can no longer look at their child and promise them the world

because they can’t even promise them life

this is no fault of the parents

Parents are victims too

How many parents have seen the inside of a child-size coffin

and watched as their pride and joys were buried

right next to the thoughts and prayers that couldn’t save them?

Enough is enough.

Change doesn’t happen overnight

But when that sun comes up tomorrow

This world will see a fire…

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Black Panther Review (SPOILERS!)

Director Ryan Coogler, most-known for directing Creed and Fruitvale Station, crafts a well-driven and colorful adaptation of the not-so-famous Marvel superhero: The Black Panther.

The movie opens like most, with a flashback to a certain moment in time that will slowly be revealed to not only the main character but as well as the audience in due time. It is not where the story starts that is important; it is the message that the scene carries. It is late 1980’s California where a middle-aged T’Chaka (T’Challa’s father, the former King of Wakanda) is visiting his brother. His brother is caught taking vibranium from Wakanda and selling it to T’Chaka’s enemy, Klaw. T’Chaka questions why his brother, of all people, would steal from his own people. His brother states that the reason he stole that vibranium was so that he could aid their people (he’s referring to African Americans not in just Africa, but around the world) and stop the oppression that they face every single day. This ideal goes against the Wakandian way, the way that T’Chaka and the other kings before him fought for. They wish to keep Wakanda a secret in order to protect their own people. When his brother cries out in anger, he charges T’Chaka. However, T’Chaka is the one that strikes first, killing his own brother to protect the Wakandian way. This ideal is what sets up the entire movie.

Fast forward to present day, and T’Challa is seen watching a news broadcast covering his father’s death from Civil War. He goes out on a mission to find his ex, the infamous Nakia, so that she may honor T’Challa’s father and watch as T’Challa is crowned king. Nakia was currently on a special-ops mission, trying to save local African women from being kidnapped and sold. We find out that Nakia also wishes that Wakanda would open its doors to refugees and provide aid to fellow Africans who need their help. T’Challa rebuttals, acknowledging the idea that his father, T’Chaka, held on to so dearly.

This idea is shared between many Wakandians and is the main conflict that T’Challa must tackle as newly-crowned King. Should Wakanda open its doors, uncovering itself from the blanket that has hidden Wakanda’s secrets from the rest of the world for so long? This is where Erik Killmonger, the main villain of Black Panther comes in.

Killmonger, the son of T’Chaka’s brother, was abandoned the same night that T’Chaka murdered his brother. Killmonger, bearing the infamous Wakanda tattoo on the bottom of his lower lip, has full right to walk right into Wakanda. His father taught him about Wakanda and told him that he would show Killmonger the most beautiful sunsets that any human has laid eyes on. Killmonger uses Klaw to get to Wakanda, killing him to gain access and win over the trust of one of the Wakandian tribe leaders.

Killmonger’s cause is completely just. He wishes to take over T’Challa’s place as King, and use Wakanda’s resources to take over the rest of the world in order to save his people, Wakanda’s people, but more importantly– Africa’s people. He wants to take vibranium weapons and arm Wakandian spies across the world in order to topple governments and finally show the world what Wakanda is truly capable of. Growing up on the streets of urban California, Killmonger knows exactly what his people went through just to be able to survive. How they were oppressed, enslaved, and murdered in cold-blood. He wants to right this world’s wrongdoing. The best part of his cause is that you believe him. His cause is just, but the way that he is going about it is entirely wrong. This is why Killmonger is Marvel’s best villain. His cause is understandable, and he will not stop until that cause, that mission, is fulfilled. He challenges T’Challa to a ritual duel to become King and wins, sending T’Challa over the cliff and into the barreling river below.

In the final act, T’Challa wages war against Killmonger. The Royal Guard fights to serve the rightful king, even after proclaiming that the Guard will only serve the Throne. Yet the General (who is the most badass character, let’s be real here. She’s the best warrior Wakanda has, including both Killmonger and T’Challa) fights to protect the true King, T’Challa. The final is brilliantly woven together, containing an enormous fight scene between the different Wakandian tribes. It is truly a beautiful sight to behold. Killmonger and T’Challa fall into the mountain of vibranium for one last fight. As they fight on top of a “hover-train railway” (Yeah, that’s a thing. It’s badass), T’Challa successfully pulls off a “cool final blow” to Killmonger, stabbing him with his own spear. T’Challa then drags Killmonger to the side of the vibranium mountain, exiting the giant Panther statue-like entrance.

Here, Cooger delivers the most powerful scene of the entire movie. Looking out at a beautiful sunset, Killmonger tells T’Challa that this is the sunset his father had always wanted to show him. T’Challa contemplates saving Killmonger, but when he brings up how T’Challa could easily heal him, Killmonger says this:

“Why? So you can just lock me up? No, bury me in the ocean. That way, I can be with my ancestors. My ancestors who sailed on the ships, who jumped into the ocean because they’d rather have death than live in bondage–,”. Killmonger then grabs the spear and rips it out of his chest, killing him instantly.

This, this is the most important quote in the entire movie. It speaks so many volumes because he’d rather die than be exiled and left to die in prison cell like so many other African men are forced to do today. The cause is just.

There are still so many things to mention. All of the female characters are so well-developed and perfectly crafted. Okoye shines as the General of the Royal Guard. There is no moment where she is not completely and 100% badass. Nakia, lead-warrior for one of the Wakandian tribes and former lover of T’Challa, is beautifully written. The romance between T’Challa and Nakia does not at all feel forced but instead embraced.

Cooger beautifully crafts the world of Wakanda, bringing together five Wakandian tribes that each have their own culture and traditions they live by. Wakanda fills like a vibrant and colorful world that can fully stand on its own. The rich technology that Wakanda built using the most powerful metal known to man, vibranium, is magnificent and awesome to gaze in awe at. All the different colors, whether it be the clothing that the Wakandians wear, or the colors of Wakanda itself shine majestically. I’m still in awe.

The action scenes (noticeably without ANY slow-mo sequences) are well-choreographed and feel so complex and realistic at the same time. It is such an amazing sight to marvel at when T’Challa gracefully hops from one cr to the next in a fast-paced car chase in downtown South Korea. I must say, every location that Black Panther visits feels alive and vibrant, just like Wakanda. There’s never a dull moment in any scene. The movie is well-paced and well edited.

There was never a moment in the movie where I was stuck thinking that “Hey, this could use some fixing or differently editing” or “Hey, that line could have been constructed differently”. Everything, top to bottom, was perfect. That’s why, Black Panther, gets 10/10 stars from me. Please, I beg of you, go see this movie. It is a celebration of culture and cinematography that you will not want to miss.

Black Panther – 10/10


Graduate students from the University of Iowa came to the Mount Mercy McAuley Theatre tonight to present a play entitled: “Cross-Examined”. The play centers around the 1874 court case between a couple black mothers (citizens) from Keokuk, Iowa and the Keokuk Community School District. This case challenged the rights for young black citizens who wanted to attend one of the “white-only” private schools in the Keokuk area. The characters involved two white male lawyers representing the Keokuk Community School District and two of the young black children’s mothers. The play was written by Leslie Swamm (a professor from the University of Iowa) and Margo Connelly. The play only took about thirty minutes overall, with a Q&A taking place afterward.

The actors did a marvelous job, especially the the two actresses who played the mothers of the young black boys who wanted to attend the “white-only” school. You could see, as an audience member, the pain and the frustration on the mothers’ faces that they felt while going through and fighting this court case. Their frustration felt real, not fake. It felt as if they had embodied the actual mothers’ feelings. The tension in the air when the actresses were defending their children and their rights was incredibly moving. The two male actors who played the lawyers were incredibly frustrating because they would not call the mothers by their names. They revealed this during the Q&A that took place after the play. The lawyers were completely unlikable, and thats exactly how they were supposed to be played. We, the audience, were not supposed to like them because they were fighting against the rights for these young black children who only wanted to achieve an education at a school that happened to be closer to their place of residence than the “colored” school across the town.

One of the black actresses, the second person from the left (down in the photograph) gave a magnificent speech about how racism still exists today. She encouraged the audience, which just so happened to be full of college students who are now able to vote, to go out and vote for politicians that can, and more importantly will, make a difference and stand up for those whose voice cannot be heard. Every voice, no matter what or how you identify yourself, needs to be heard in order to achieve true equality.

I’m very thankful that the Mount Mercy English Department was able to score such an awesome and wonderful performance! Hopefully this means we can look forward to many more!