Game Review: Mass Effect 2

It’s amazing how quickly (and maybe a little obsessively) I go through games that has me hooked. It definitely wasn’t that long ago since I wrote a review for my thoughts on the first Mass Effect. Now I’m back with another game review for Mass Effect 2.

The Mass Effect series is truly an amazing game to play. The second part of the series makes it even better than the first. When playing Mass Effect 2, you get to import your Commander Shepard from the first game. Actions and decisions you have made in the first game will influence the second game in some way. I enjoy the idea of importing characters from a previous game to have their personalities and actions get shaped even more in a new installment of a series.

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Love Isn’t Fun Without Three

Love triangles are a common romance plot device in almost all shojo mangas or animes. Off the top of my head, I can’t really think of one series that doesn’t have a love triangle worked in there somewhere. You either have two guys vying for the affections of one girl or two girls vying for the attention of one guy.

Why have love triangles in shojo? The answer is simple, it adds drama and it caters to every girl’s or guy’s fantasy of being that one person everybody wants.

Marmalade Boy's Yuu, Miki, & Ginta

Having just one guy wooing a girl isn’t as interesting or exhilarating as adding a third person into the equation. The girl who thought no guy would want suddenly captures the attention of the popular guy in school or the guy who secretly admires her from afar but doesn’t have the guts to admit it until that same popular guy goes after her affections. Then you have a story where both guys need to bring up their A game if they want to be the winner of the main character’s heart by the end of the series.

I should be tired of the usual plot devices like this one. Most of the time a series becomes pretty predictable after reading one or two volumes of a series. You can already tell who will end up with who, and who will get their heart broken. Yet, I still find myself wanting to read further even if I already have an idea of where the romance is going. Personally, I love imagining myself in the main character’s situation. Who doesn’t want to have to fend off gorgeous men who declare their absolute love for you? Real life just isn’t as exciting as the life of a shojo heroine.

Going back to the drama part of love triangles, your heart skips a beat when either guy is trying to show the girl with actions as well as words why he may be the best candidate for her love. Sometimes it can be with a small gesture such as buying a stuffed animal the girl has been eyeing at the store but didn’t have the money to buy. Or it can be a grand gesture such as the guy grabbing the girl and kissing her on the lips in the heat of the moment. I can think of lots of examples from shojo manga and anime that does the surprise kiss move.

Alice 19th's Alice, Kyou, and Mayura: May the best girl win

Sometimes you may find more than one love triangle is going on at once in a series. Yuu Watase’s Alice 19th is a good example of this. The main heroine Alice finds herself part of or at the center of a love triangle. She is part of a love triangle involving her sister Mayura and a boy they both love named Kyou. Then you have another love triangle that forms where Alice is at the center and Kyou and another character named Frey are battling for her love.

Or make that let the best man win: Frey (left), Alice (center) & Kyou (right)

Love triangles do add something to a story. It adds conflict as well as flirts with the idea of being someone’s heart’s desire. We can’t help but get sucked into these overused plot devices because it works! Love triangles will always have one character a reader or viewer will believe the hero/heroine should end up with. It doesn’t matter if the canon couple is already set. What matters is we get to place our bets on who is most deserving of the main character’s heart. For better or for worse, love triangles let our imaginations run wild and we can pretend we are the character on the receiving end of all the attention. The high emotions, confusion, and the eventual revelations are my favorite parts about a love triangle. I’m not sure if I ever want to experience a love triangle in real life, but it makes good fiction for the readers and viewers.

Character Profiles in Manga

When I first got into manga, I got sucked in for the stories and artwork. As I devoured volumes of Sailor Moon, Cardcaptor Sakura, Fushigi Yugi, and the like I came across character profiles mixed within the pages or beginning of each chapter. The mangaka would detail a character’s date of birth, blood type, favorite foods, etc. After noticing a lot of manga had these brief character profiles, I started looking for them as I read a new series.

Aki's Profile from the Ayashi no Ceres manga

I like the idea of getting to know a character’s basic personality outside of what is already presented in the series. The mangakas must enjoy presenting their readers with these profiles because it gives life to a character. The character becomes more than just a pretty drawing in a book. It starts to feel like you are getting to know a real person. The character profiles included in the manga (at least the ones I have read) allows us to connect to the characters. I always like knowing what the actual ages are for each of the characters in a series (if the year is provided of course) because it adds to the imagination. We read manga to escape reality and to dive into a different world for an hour or two. The panels play out like movies in our head and we give voices to the characters based on how we think they should sound.

I also find it funny how relatable these characters can be when the profiles sometimes include what a character likes to eat, what subjects they dislike in school, and their dreams for the future. Back when I read Sailor Moon and I read a character profile I would think, “Wow, she hates math just like I do. We have that in common.” It’s a strange kind of connection to make between yourself and a fictional character, but it’s fun to fantasize what it would be like if these characters really existed and not within our own minds or fantasies.

When I read a regular book (non-manga/comic book) I always have a number of questions running through my head. How old is this character? What would this character enjoy doing based on his/her personality as presented by the author? I really try to get inside the head of a character, especially when it’s a story I’m really into. When mangakas actually consider making profiles for their characters, it shows that they not only care about the characters they create but they want their characters to feel real. I really think this is a fun idea. I’m glad they do this often in manga. It adds an extra layer to the character you otherwise wouldn’t know about.

How do you feel about character profiles in manga? Do you find it enjoyable to read like I do?

A random post for fun

So I got tagged by renxkyoko on her blog to do a fun questionnaire type thing. I haven’t filled these out in ages. I remember doing these things when friends used to tag me in emails or Xanga (does anyone remember Xanga?) to fill these out. I always found it interesting to see what people had to say. Just for today, I give you the not so usual post. At least you guys get to know a little bit about me.

Here are The Rules:

  1. You must post the rules.
  2. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post and then create eleven new questions to ask the people you’ve tagged.
  3. Tag eleven people and link to them on your post.
  4. Let them know you’ve tagged them!

1. If you could invite 5 famous dead people to dinner, who would you choose?

A: William Shakespeare, Audrey Hepburn, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Martin Luther King Jr., and Jane Austen.

2. In a few sentences, give the reason why you’ve chosen each guest.

A: William Shakespeare because I want to know what it was like to come up with some of the plays he is known for. Audrey Hepburn because she was a great style icon and a great actress. F. Scott Fitzgerald because I want to know more about the decade he lived in. Martin Luther King Jr. because I want to ask him how he found the strength and courage each day to unite all races in harmony rather than hatred. Finally, Jane Austen because I would like to learn about her life and what was her inspiration behind Pride and Prejudice.

3. Would you consider marrying a person whose religion is fundamentally different from yours? Give a reason why you would or wouldn’t.

A: I believe I would. Although I am born and raised as Catholic, I don’t think religion should be a barrier for anyone if they truly love each other. I would respect the religion he chooses to practice or not practice. I also expect the same from my future husband. If we were to have children, I would hope we both can leave it up to them to decide what to practice or believe in.

4. Do you have a fetish? If yes, what is it?

A: Is having an unnatural obsession/love of flowers a fetish? XD

5. Which trait do you consider more important to you, intelligence or stunning physical appearance?

A: I think intelligence is important. Yes, looks do matter too even though we all try not to focus on looks too much. Looks can only get you so far though. I want to be with a guy who has a lot to say and has something to contribute in a conversation. What’s the point of having a gorgeous accessory on your arm when he doesn’t have much up in the brain department?

6. Let’s say you’re married with 2 young children, but then you fall madly in love (and it’s mutual) with another person…would you consider divorcing your spouse to be with this person?

A: Wow, this is a hard one to answer. I think it depends on the situation. Am I dissatisfied with my current husband? Is that the reason why I end up looking elsewhere and falling for someone else? Or am I in love with my husband still and somehow fell for another person as well? If it’s a case of being unhappy with my marriage, then I think I would divorce my husband to be with the new guy. Of course, this wouldn’t happen unless I’ve exhausted all avenues of trying to make it work with my husband. You want to make the marriage work, especially if children are involved. But if you’re miserable then it’s time to call it quits and try to gently explain to your kids what the situation is and that both of you will love them no matter what happens between you and your spouse. If it’s a case of being in love with two men at the same time, then I doubt I would leave my husband for this other man. I married my husband for a reason, right? I can’t throw that away over a new guy. We also have kids in this scenario.

7.  Coffee or tea?  Coke or Pepsi? Left handed or right handed?

A: Coffee. Coke. Right handed.

8. Do you believe in death penalty?

A: No. It’s like trying to play God by deciding who lives and who dies. I’d rather see the person rot in jail for the rest of their life rather than decide if they should die as a way of paying for their crimes. An eye for an eye never really solves anything, much less brings back the person you lost.

9. Your loved one cheated on you. You still love him/her, and she/he wants to come back to you, would you take her/him back?

A: Another tough one. I think it’s like the divorcing your spouse question, it depends on the situation. How badly did this person cheat on me? Was it a one time thing? Was their a bad argument between us to cause him to cheat? If it’s a case of lapse in judgement and the cheating happened once and not repeatedly, then I may take the person back. If anything, the person would have to earn my trust again if I were to take him back fully. If it’s a repeated occurrence, then no. I would never take him back no matter how much I loved him.

10. Would you get attracted to a person of different race and color? Why or why not?

A: I would and I have. Living and growing up in NYC, you’re surrounded by different races and ethnic backgrounds. All are attractive no matter what race or skin color you are. Love/attraction is color blind in my opinion.

11. Which one do you believe in? Evolution or Creationism? Kindly state your reason in a few sentences as possible.

A: Evolution. I like to think that the passage of time has led us to become who we are now…human. Apparently we were once cavemen who couldn’t articulate very well until our minds have advanced and grown for us to become the complex beings we are today.

That answers all the questions. The rules say to tag 11 people and to create 11 questions of your own. I’m not sure who to tag for this or if anyone would be willing to do this. If you want to join this little questionnaire thing, then leave me a comment and I’ll come up with 11 questions for you to answer. If not, then enjoy reading my responses to the questions I have been tagged for.

03/21/2012 EDIT: So I have three people who want to join in on the random questionnaire thing. Tagged so far are soaringwingsblog, Heroine of Shoujo, and Lazy Cat Cafe. I came up with 11 questions of my own for the tagged to answer. If anyone else would like to join and post these questions on their blog to answer, be sure to comment and let me know you will be joining this. I would love to read your answers. Here are the questions:

1. If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you want to have with you and why?

2. If this were your last day on Earth, how would you spend it?

3. Did you have a favorite childhood toy? If yes, what was it?

4. What are your favorite television shows you are watching right now?

5. If you could travel anywhere in the world and money is not the problem, where would you go and why?

6. If you won the lottery tomorrow, how would you spend the money?

7. What’s your biggest pet peeve?

8. Is there someone you idolize. If yes, who is it and why?

9. Do you believe in the idea of a soulmate? Explain your reasons briefly.

10. What’s your happiest memory?

11. What’s your favorite thing to do during your free time?

Game Review: Mass Effect

This review is something I’ve been meaning to type up. While everyone in the blogosphere is talking about Mass Effect 3 and the backlash that is the endings to the final game in the series, I’ll be going into my own thoughts about the first game. As a newbie to the Xbox 360 world, I do have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to playing the best games out there. Playing Mass Effect now may be old news for most gamers who have played it since its release in 2007, but it still can be a joy for those who discover it for the first time.

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Spoilers are just so hard to resist

The blog Shojo Corner wrote a really great piece regarding spoilers a while back. The post talks about the idea of spoilers and how a spoiler negatively or not so negatively impacts our decision to watch or read something.

My view on spoilers is it doesn’t quite matter to me if something is spoiled. I’m more interested in how we actually arrive to the ending or to certain major plot points. I think I very rarely tell someone to not spoil me on something if I really want to be surprised. I find myself itching to find out how something unfolds before I even get to watching, reading, or playing something. It’s funny how spoilers just happen to find you without it being intentional.

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Be fashionable the anime/manga way

Have you ever flipped through fashion magazines or catalogs and think, “That’s a great look. I want a look just like this one. Where can I get it?” Fashion inspiration doesn’t have to come from magazines or runway shows. It can also come from anime/manga. Obviously anyone who looks to anime/manga for inspiration will be the fashion enthusiasts who enjoy a geeky hobby like this one. I am one of these people.

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Liebster Blog Award Revisited

Last December I was nominated by the awesome Paprika-no-Yume for the Liebster Blog Award. When you accept the award, one of the rules the blogger had to do was name at least 5 bloggers with less than 200 followers for their blog to nominate. A pay-it-forward type of award which is a lovely idea. At the time I could only name one blogger which was the Shojo Corner. Today I would like to round up the additional four bloggers who I think are up and coming. This is my continuation of my December post concerning the award. Without further ado and in no particular order I’m going to start with number 2:

2. soaringwingsblog – This blog has a little of everything: anime, manga, and video games. I especially enjoy her analysis about common game elements when she writes them. She poses good discussions and brings up ideas you may or may not have had yourself. Her game reviews are excellent to read as well.

3. Lazy Cat Cafe – This blog started just this year and I’m already loving the posts I’m reading. Like the blog in number 2, it also contains discussions about anime, manga, and video games. I’m so excited to find more bloggers like me who enjoy these three things. This blogger’s thoughts on games I have played or would like to play in the future are entertaining to read and we have similar tastes in games too.

4. Black Strawberry – This anime blog is both insightful and fun to read. Some of her posts are very creative and it makes you think. I’m drawn to blogs that spark a discussion and offers other view points. If you are looking for blogs that go beyond just the anime then this is worth a read.

5. The Glory Whole – Another anime blog with plenty of anime reviews and some fun videos he finds interesting and shares with everyone who reads his blog. A lot of the anime he reviews are for series that are popular and not so popular in anime. A lot of the anime he reviews I’m not familiar with, but when I get around to expanding my anime viewing to beyond the shojo this blog will be my go-to place.

There you have it. I fully completed my acceptance of the Liebster Blog Award and I hope you fellow readers will find these blogs a delight to read like I have.