Skylanders Imaginators (game review)

Skylanders Imaginators is another great game in the series. The innovation this time is the ability to create your own Skylander character and store them via creation crystal toys that basically work the same as every other Skylander toy, enabling you to save and play your Imaginator anywhere.
In addition, there are also the Sensei figures, who are complete Skylanders characters that function in all respects like the figures of the previous games.
So far, I’m torn on whether I prefer playing with Senseis or Imaginators. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
Senseis are the traditional pre-designed character type. While there’s some customization in which specialization you prefer, the character plays a specific way. That’s cool. It allows for a some creative themes and cool design choices. So far, I only have King Pen, Golden Queen, and Kaos, but each plays significantly differently (as is standard with Skylanders) and each is brimming with personality.
The Imaginators are more customizable in one sense, allowing you to design your own character from the ground up, but they’re also incapable of as much variety. Each Imaginator has access to certain powers based on their element, class, and level. But in the end, these powers are fairly generic because these characters are meant to fit easily into any archetype. While the Imaginators are fun to design and play, they’ll never be as unique or as colorful as Chopper (dinosaur with a helicopter pack) or Splat (artist with staff that’s a double-sided paintbrush) or Roller Brawl (undead roller derby chick).
Still they’re cool to play and fun to design. And as you play, you are continually rewarded with more imaginite pieces to mix and match with your Imaginator creations. It’s a nice drip of encouragement to replay and it works.
Gameplay is standard Skylanders with a polish that comes through years of design. Still no versus mode in sight, which I do miss, but they did keep racing as an option (not in the main game) and as always, all your previous Skylanders toys still work here. I put in my first gen Gil Grunt and flashed back to my first Skylanders experience. Still a great character.
As a big fan of all the Skylanders games, I think this continues a fine tradition of innovation and accessible gameplay. Personality abounds in the Skylanders universe, and I continue to love buying new figures to see what fresh ideas the designers are still creating. One day, Skylanders will hit the wall and run out of new things to do, but that is not this day.
A great game and a great addition to the line.
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Shin Godzilla (a review)

I watched Shin Godzilla, the latest Godzilla film to come out of Japan, yesterday. It was a good film, not great. As much as I enjoy the kaiju genre, a straight humans versus kaiju flick rarely enthralls me. (It’s actually why I like the American ‘Zilla film which, while not featuring any other kaiju, has some fun sequences of Zilla versus the military that are visually engaging.) But for the most part, a movie where a kaiju crushes a city while humans shoot it ineffectively isn’t my thing, as much as I enjoy the genre.

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Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children & How NOT to Write an Interesting Story

I saw Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children this weekend. I don’t know much about the original books, so I can’t comment on them, but the movie is a bit of a let down. It takes a promising premise and aesthetic and doesn’t do much with it. People do seem to enjoy when I talk about writing, so let’s talk about some of the failures of this particular film. NOTE: Some spoilers coming along.

Posted in Blog, Movies, Writing | 2 Comments

Three Tales of Herbert (on Storytelling Style)

Of all the troubles a beginning writer often has, style and tone tend to be at the top of the list. Whether we call it Voice or Theme or what-have-you, fiction writing is all about that mysterious thing.

People often make the mistake of assuming that storytelling is about events. Events are easy. Events can follow a logical path from A to B to C to Conclusion. It’s not that plotting is simple. It’s just that it is the most mechanical aspect of storytelling, the most quantifiable, and thus, the easiest part to focus on. It’s easy to teach technical rules, and much of plotting is technical. It’s often the foundation where the story begins, but without Voice or Tone, a story is nothing more than that. Believe it or not, we don’t usually care about those stories.

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