Miles Morales: The Hero We Need

Growing up, I was always a massive fan of fantasy/sci-fi, in film, literature, comics, and video games. They allowed me to escape reality and find adventure in magical worlds made up of exotic places and characters. Yet something I never realized until adulthood was the rarity of those characters being black. As an African-American Latino child, I was seldom, if ever, exposed to characters and stories that reflected my heritage. There were no heroes I could call my own.

Interestingly enough as an adult, I’ve developed a subconscious expectation to find and write about white protagonists when it comes to fantasy. For so long it’s been ingrained in me that only white men can pick up a sword and battle monsters, little white girls will fumble down rabbit holes and find themselves in magical worlds of whimsy, and white intrepid reporters have double lives as superheroes.

It never bothered me because that’s what I grew up with. I could dream of magical places, but never imagine myself in them. This all changed when my nephew was born. As I watched him grow into a curious young boy whose mind is filled with wonder, I want him to find a magical rabbit hole of his own. I want him to have a passion for reading and fantasy, I want him to have heroes that look like him, most importantly, I want him to be proud of who he is.

 

Enter Miles Morales:

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He may not be the hero we asked for, but he is damn well the hero we need. I’ll be the first to admit, when Miles was first announced I wanted no part of it. Why wasn’t I excited with the prospect of a hero that represents black culture? Simple. As of late, it’s become apparent that the entertainment industry wants to add more diversity. There’s a growing desire to tell stories that can reach and touch people of all races, sexes, and creeds. This is great. However, a common misconception, is the idea that rebooting a series and changing the race of central characters will satiate that desire.   

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That is not what we want. It’s almost as if the powers-that-be have forgotten that we too are huge geeks. We grew up with these heroes and stories. We love them! We don’t want already existing characters changed in an ill attempt to seem progressive. What we truly need are new stories, characters, and heroes to call our own. Misguided I was under the impression this new iteration of Spider-Man would just be a race swapped Peter Parker.

And then something amazing happened.

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Into The Spider-Verse has got to be hands down, my all time favorite Spider-Man movie. Everything about it was great. The animation, soundtrack, writing, and most importantly Miles. What we got was a brand new character, one tasked with picking up the mantle of Spider-Man. Of course the movie opened up the floodgates and I had to jump into the comics, head first, with no safety net or parachute. To quote Peter Parker, “That’s all it is, Miles, a leap of faith.”

I’ve loved every page of his story. From him not wanting to be Spider-Man because there already is one. To accepting his place and answering the call when Peter Parker dies. What’s great about Miles is that he’s an inner city kid. He lives in an urban setting, giving us a glimpse of what it’s like to grow up in this environment. The street life where one has to be street smart to survive. However, he is not a product of this environment. Instead he is a well-rounded, good kid, one with brains and positive morals. His parents are loving, strict, and work together as a family to instill a positive message. We aren’t given a character that screams every racial stereotype in the book.  

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Instead, with Miles, what we get is a well-rounded hero. One that young African-American readers, like my nephew, can look up to, aspire to be like… and most importantly dress up as for Comic-Con. I’ve had so much fun reading about Miles and his adventures. Something about that kid just fills me with pride. I believe we have come a long way in the entertainment industry. While we still have a lot of work to do and there are still  many voices to be heard, it’s nice to know there’s a Miles Morales out there leading the way.

A Final Fantasy VII Trailer Review

The wait is finally over! Well… sort of… but not really…

Growing up in the 90s was a strange time. We were the kids that bordered between dial-up and high-speed internet, yes you can define a generation by the internet they use. We didn’t have a fancy cellphone until we were well into adulthood and bought it ourselves. Even then, the idea of texting was something from a Sci-Fi future. Our playlists were twelve tracked CDs made from burned Napster songs. But that’s not important, what’s important here is the fact that geeks were closeted. Our passion for video games, books, comics, action figures, and hentai were dark secrets. Secrets that if ever exposed would lead to social suicide. Nowadays if you don’t cosplay on a Friday night, you’re a total loser man!

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My kids and future generations will never know the struggle. That’s why I vowed to bully my kids until they learn to appreciate what we fought so hard for them to have. Geekdom. And if you were a geek in the 90s,there’s one game that stands above to rest, that has been burned into our subconscious and defined a generation. Final Fantasy VII. Yeah, that’s right you cried when Aerith died, and for the first time, you weren’t ashamed to admit it.

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As us kids from the 90s have grown into fully (well somewhat) functioning adults, and as video game systems evolve into graphic powerhouses, it’s no surprise we find ourselves wondering what old favorites would look like by today’s video game standards. In short when the Final Fantasy VII remake was announced we shit ourselves.

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Unfortunately, we have since barely heard anything about it. Personally, I began to believe the announcement was some trippy Mandela effect, in which it and original trailer never actually existed in this reality. That is until recently. Low and behold, Sony has graced us with a trailer and gameplay footage.

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The trailer starts with an ominous message, “The Return Draws Closer,” we pan into a birds-eye view of Aerith praying. Let it sink in because right before the feels can kick you in the nuts, the trailer jumps right into the action. Cloud, Barret, Briggs, and Jessie are beginning their iconic mission to blow up Mako station. We’re given glimpses of the character design and voice acting. All of which seem phenomenal. Cut scene animations and real-time action battle sequences. There are explosions, high energy, and hit points galore! Once the adrenaline is pumping, we cut to a CGI sequence of Aerith and Cloud’s initial meeting, along with the light piano of Aerith's theme setting the mood. Once our nerves settle, we are thrown back into the action, with a series of shots showcasing more of the Mako mission. All of which culminates into the epic reveal of Sephiroth before cutting to the title screen!

Now if you are anything like me, you are already digging out your credit card, hold your horses and reign it in there. We still don’t have a release date. Instead, all we get is a final message, “More To Come in June.” Which was heartbreaking, to say the least.

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Don’t fret, there is hope! Maybe, just maybe, come June they will announce a late 2019 release. A surprise to the fans that have waited so long. Of course, logically it’ll probably be a mid-2038 release… and here’s praying that the world doesn’t fall to a post-nuclear apocalypse beforehand. Tell me what you guys think. Are you excited about this game as much as I am?

TES Blades: A Love Story Gone Wrong

Okay, so I love Skyrim. I love it so much that I’m still playing it after eight years. I’ve spent the better part of my marriage modding it to perfection. Skyrim is the quintessential open world RPG, and with the capability of modding, the game has limitless potential. Yeah, Bethesda has announced TES 6, but Bethesda has also turned into my abusive high school girlfriend. She says she’ll get better, but she keeps kicking me in the nuts, and each time is harder than the last. So instead I’m forced to relive the memories of when things were good.

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Sure I’m excited for TES6, but I don’t want to get my expectations up too high only to have my heart once again broken by God Howard. So I refused to let him sweet talk me into a false sense of security. Not this time! Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, you still have my money.

  

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Then Blades came out. I actually forgot I pre-ordered it. It was announced around the same time Fallout 76 was, so you know… I was a little too busy raging and falling into an endless pit of sorrow. So it was a huge surprise when I picked up my phone to find Blades waiting for me in all its glory, almost akin to a “hey, you still up,” midnight text.  Bethesda did it to me again. God Howard managed to charm his way back into my life. He showed me a good time, a really fantastic time, and in the beginning, it was great.

For a mobile game Blades has phenomenal graphics. Some of the best I’ve seen to date. The environments are expansive and highly detailed. The character models look like your typical vanilla Elder Scrolls or Fallout Game. That is to say, characters without mods.  

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The combat is pretty simple; a couple of swipes across the screen and tapping circles on your enemies will usually get the job done. The game can be played in vertical or landscape mode. I found playing in landscape mode made for a better, more fluid experience when it came to exploring dungeons and combat.

Just like it’s platform predecessors you can level up your character and upgrade their states; Skills, Magic, and Abilities with your rewarded points. Which has always been a fun and stressful time in my life. Like really, you expect me to make these life decisions now?!

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When not dungeon crawling, you are you Town mode, where you can wander around talking to the residents, build homes and stores, craft weapons and armor, enchant items, and decorate. The more you make and decorate the more prestige your town get, which invites more people to live there. Let’s face it, having a high level of prestige is just another way to find the validation your dad never gave…

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So things are great. I’m totally digging this game. I could play it forever, and it’s in the early access stage, so it’s only going to get better. Right? Wrong! God Howard just came home drunk, and I didn’t have dinner ready.

Micro-transactions.

As you progress through the game, dungeons become increasingly harder, building up your town becomes insanely expensive, and supply drops become scarce. Eventually, you find yourself hitting a wall in which you can’t go further unless you start spending some real-world money on supplies and gear. Which wasn’t so bad at first because, “I’m an adult, I work really hard for my money, so I can make responsible decisions with it.”

A little purchase here, a little… wait, what?! 99 bucks for 14,000 gems?! I know what you’re thinking, “You don’t really need 14,000 gems to do you?” Well, gems are the currency used to keep the game moving. With there being a timer on practically everything you need to progress in the game. You can often find yourself waiting whole days just to open a chest. So naturally opening them immediately costs a shit load of gems. Same with building in your town. I waited six hours from my Blacksmith to have a home. That’s six hours he spent homeless, out in the cold, with nothing but his pride and balls.

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So, there I was crying as my friend consoled me and said, “You’re too good for God Howard, he doesn’t deserve you.” To which I thought, “You know what? You’re right. This is the last time I ever fall for him and Bethesda ! I’m taking a stand. As long as I have my pride, I’ll never play a Bethesda game again!” I’ve since stopped playing Blades and swore off any Bethesda Games. I can say I’ve been two months clean today. Let me know what you guys think of Blades, and games that force Micro-transactions on you.

Tune in next time for my review of Rage 2!

My website is live!

This is something I've been putting off for a while. But as I've branched out into multiple projects, and have big plans for the next coming year, I decided now would be the best time to create a site.
As the month's progress I will have awesome news to share! So I'm hoping you'll stick around and follow me on this journey!

Best,

Wilbert