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Memory Leaks: Pokemon Shield

๐Ÿ›ก️ Catch Me If You Can... In 1996 Game Freak released two games called Pokemon Red  and Pokemon Blue  for the Nintendo Game Boy. These were JRPGs aimed at 10-year-olds that used a simplified turn-based battle system and were built around a social gimmick. There are 150 creatures called Pokemon in the game and one of the goals is to catch every one of them, only can't do it alone. Red  and Blue  each had Pokemon that were exclusive to that title, so the only way to get everything was to make in-game trades with a friend who owned the other version. The games were tied into a multi-media franchise that included manga, a TV show, and a collectible trading card game. And it was a mega-hit, one of the most successful and influential intellectual properties of the 90s and it continues to this day. In 2019, Pokemon Sword  & Shield  were released, the eighth set of games in the mainline series and the first for a console system that wasn't handheld only. How I Remember It... I mis
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Stray Thoughts: Ethical Capitalism

๐Ÿ‘” I Owe My Soul to the Company Store... There's a phrase that gets bandied about in center-left socioeconomic discourse: "There is no ethical consumption under Capitalism." It's an expression of frustration--and often outright dismissal--at one's inability to make sound ethical consumer decisions due to a lack of choices provided by the market. It's a popular enough sentiment that the better part of the third season of The Good Place  was dedicated to it. And it stems from a real dilemma. Most people are basically good most of the time, but we live in a society that inhibits us from acting on our goodness. Nobody goes to the store thinking "Imma exploit me some Indonesian child labor!" We just want a good deal on tennis shoes. So with this essay I would like to explore some of the mechanisms behind this dilemma and relate it to our current political climate and perhaps point out some very obvious solutions. First a little groundwork. The term "

Memory Leaks: Left 4 Dead 2

๐ŸงŸ In your head, in your head... Left 4 Dead 2  is a co-op 4-player first-person-shooter released for PC and consoles by Valve in 2009, a sequel to their 2008 game Left 4 Dead , and further proof that Valve can release timely sequels so long as they don't have the number "3" in them. How I Remember It... My friend group played a lot of Left 4 Dead . This was in the halcyon days of the late aughts when grim-and-gritty shooters were king and we as a culture weren't completely burned out on zombies yet. In that game you are one of four survivors of a zombie apocalypse fighting your way through the dynamically-populated city to try to get to safety. The aesthetic is "cheesy horror movie" as evidenced by the movie posters on the load screens and the ending credits after a campaign. There are always four protagonists in play--any not covered by players will be played by bots--and you have to work together to prevent being overrun. Left 4 Dead 2  is, honestly, not

So Long and Thanks for all the Tweets

๐Ÿฆค Take These Broken Wings... I'm writing this post on Thursday, and it's kind of an even bet as to whether or not Twitter will still exist by the time this goes live on Friday. In the two weeks since Elon Musk took it over, the site has become a multi-car train wreck, a flaming shit-show of unimaginable proportions. A lot of doomsayers predicted that this would be the end of the Blue Bird, but I don't think anyone  could have predicted just how fast that end would come. So I thought it would be interesting to talk about how we got here and why. Over the last few years, Twitter has actually gotten pretty good. They've taken a stronger stance on content moderation--not a flawless one by any stretch of the imagination, but incremental improvements. The platform was stable and bringing in new features (such as the long-awaited "edit" button). The timeline algorithm, though people complained, made it possible to stumble upon new weird content. It was my go-to plac

Memory Leaks: Donkey Kong Country

๐ŸŒ Take Your Stinking Paws Off Me You Damned Dirty Ape... Donkey Kong Country  was a 2D platformer for the Super Nintendo released in 1994 by Rare. It served as a reboot of the Donkey Kong  franchise that had been languishing for a decade. It featured a new gameplay paradigm, a completely re-designed Kong, and the introduction of new characters like Diddy Kong and Funky Kong. How I Remember It... It's kind of bonkers how out-of-the-blue this game was. Just two years prior Super Mario Kart  had included Donkey Kong Jr as a driver, a character built on the old DK design in a first-party title. And then with DKC  not only is Junior out of the picture entirely, these apes have a brand new look. And not only was it good , it quickly became one of the must-haves for the system. The DNA of this game feels like it owes something to Super Mario Bros. , what with it's two-player semi-coop, it's mix of land and underwater levels, its enemies you defeat by jumping on them, and its many

Stray Thoughts: What is the Point of THE RINGS OF POWER?

๐Ÿ’ ... Comes Great Responsibility... I'm a more-ardent-than-average Tolkien fan. I've read The Silmarillion . I've read Lord of the Rings  multiple times--and in fact am in the middle of yet another re-read. I've pondered the lore, studied the weird details like what happened to the other palantรญri or why Aragorn is heir to both Gonder and Arnor. I'm not like a Stephen Colbert level of Tolkien nerd, but I'm up there. So I want you to keep that in mind as I ask the following question: Why does The Rings of Power  exist? I don't mean from a storytelling perspective. That's easy. Does it need to exist? Of course not. Does Amazon have the rights to the source material that would be necessary to tell the story properly? Hellz no. But is it nonetheless attached to a widely-beloved property and people will watch it anyway just so they can participate in the discourse? Certainly. And does it offer new filmmakers and artists a chance to offer a compelling and un

Memory Leaks: Monument Valley

๐Ÿฆ Into the Light of a Dark Black Night... Monument Valley  is an indie puzzle game for phones and tablets published by Ustwo Games in 2014. You guide Princess Ida through a series of mazes and puzzles that use optical illusions and shifts in perspective to unlock new paths and solutions. If the perspective shifts so that two separate platforms appear to be next to each other, Ida can now move across them. How I Remember It... This game is a delight. It's atmospheric, mournful, and utterly charming, and on top of all of that it sports solid gameplay using a fairly original mechanic. Just like Portal  was able to take a simple unique gameplay conceit and spin it out into now two full games, Monument Valley  takes an Escher-inspired landscape and teases out a series of increasingly intricate puzzles for you to navigate. The game does a great job of balancing its elements. It knows when to lean on gameplay and when to streamline that in order to let the story have a moment to shine. T