Author: George Hyde

October 30, 2015 George Hyde

“Amnesia: The Dark Descent” was really, really friggin’ scary. It wasn’t the only game to trigger the indie horror game phenomenon, but with its Lovecraftian horror and subtle scares, it certainly helped. As such, it was only a matter of time until Frictional Games, the developers of “Amnesia,” would come out with a spiritual sequel…

October 28, 2015 George Hyde

It’s recently dawned on me that you humans know just about nothing about the Slug Empire. Sure. I bring it up now and then, but aside from a few snippets of information, I’ve never really talked at length about it. There’s not a whole lot going on that’s worth talking about for me, so while…

October 28, 2015 George Hyde

Sexual assault is a traumatic experience, and some schools and universities around the nation are taking the initiative of warning their students about subject matter that may trigger a stressful reaction. For example, the student senate at the University of California, Santa Barbara passed a resolution in 2014 to mandate trigger warnings in all syllabi….

October 23, 2015 George Hyde

The 1950s were a strange time in terms of foreign policy. In many Americans’ eyes, it was clear: it was us, or them. Many Soviets saw things in a similar way. It’s an inviting setting for a story about character above ideals; that two nations can rise above their differences and come to resolutions peacefully,…

October 23, 2015 George Hyde

Most Japanese-style role-playing games have a clear group of protagonists fighting a group of antagonists. The heroes of “Final Fantasy VII” are a clear resistance group fighting against an obviously tyrannical corporation. “Mother” sees a group of youngsters fight an evil and strange alien menace. Occasionally the odd game like “Shin Megami Tensei” might mess…

October 23, 2015 George Hyde

Well, the democratic debates sure were fun to watch. This is the thing with you democratic societies, isn’t it? I keep forgetting that it’s not as easy to elect a chosen leader for a certain amount of time when you’re used to having a gigantic Slug Queen ordering the workers around for eternity. The United…

October 21, 2015 George Hyde

The October 21, 2015 that we see in “Back to the Future: Part II” is a very different from the October 21, 2015 that you’re reading this article in – or after that date, as the case may be. The world of “Back to the Future’s” 2015 has no financial crisis (that we know of),…

October 2, 2015 George Hyde

It’s that special time of the year. Leaves are falling, the air is chilled and UAA’s Homecoming festivities are well underway. Amidst all of the shopping cart parades and dodgeball tournaments, though, it’s easy to wonder: why do we need a big week of events like this? After all, it’s a huge draw on resources.

“It’s a significant portion of our budget, but we serve a large portion of our students,” said Sophie Leshan, USUAA’s chief financial officer. “I think that this is one of the best ways that we can reach out to students and let them know that we are a presence on campus, and that we have all these other resources and services to offer. I think that it’s certainly worth it in that regard.”

Leshan said that in addition to traditional events, student input has been a significant factor in deciding the themes of Homecoming. The dance, themed after the “007” movies, was shaped in large part this way.

“One thing that we tried to do with this dance specifically is we did a lot of surveying to get student feedback on our events, so we can continue to better them, and especially have that student input,” said Leshan.

Of course, getting USUAA’s presence out there isn’t the only reason for Homecoming to exist. Eva Ulukivaiola, a senator at USUAA, offered another reason.

“It’s to get students more involved,” said Ulukivaiola. “It gives them a sense of home here at UAA. People come to school because they want to learn, of course, but they also want to experience what college is like, and they can’t get that if they’re at home sitting by themselves. These oddball events are a good way to meet new people and get new connections.”

It is true that the oddball events Ulukivaiola mentioned do a good job of turning heads and grabbing attention. The Shopping Cart Parade, one of the more iconic events during Homecoming, was born, according to Charlee Ruhl at Student Life and Leadership, out of practicality. It was conceived about five years ago as an alternative to a traditional collegiate float parade, with smaller and more mobile shopping carts being used instead of larger and clunkier floats. Due to the quirkiness and popularity of the parade, it became a smash success.

“UAA has a pretty closely-knit community feel,” said Ruhl. “Especially around Homecoming time, everybody joins together in some friendly competition and just has a good time bonding.”

So the answer to the question of why we need a big event like Homecoming is just that: to share a sense of community, to get the names of important collegiate organizations out there, and perhaps, most importantly, to get students out of the dorms (or other living spaces) and out into the fray.

August 6, 2015 George Hyde

“Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’” is a movie for the “Dragon Ball” fans that have been around since the beginning, and it’s not for many else. If you can’t read this review’s story synopsis without scratching your head, “Resurrection ‘F’” isn’t for you yet. This isn’t a bad thing, though; internet culture has made “DBZ”…

July 25, 2015 George Hyde

Westerns aren’t a genre that you see often in video games. Perhaps this is a sign of the times we live in; the Wild West just isn’t a popular setting anymore. Back in the first half of the 20th century, Westerns dominated the cinema and the literary world, but since the Space Age, they’ve fallen…

July 25, 2015 George Hyde

Poor Ant-Man. He’s the Marvel hero no one can take seriously. When you have gods like Thor, super-soldiers like Captain America, and forged warriors like Iron Man, it’s hard to take someone who can shrink himself that seriously. And when news of an “Ant-Man” film hit the Internet, the general public was quick to mock…

July 25, 2015 George Hyde

We’ve all seen them. They’ve graced Facebook and Twitter feeds everywhere. They’re the bane of journalists, and the disappointment of the masses who dare to give them a look. This week, we talk about clickbait. Mention the word to any journalist (or anyone who complains about journalism today), and they’ll instantly get a chill down…

July 7, 2015 George Hyde

 

I like to think of myself as a pretty decent gaming critic. But with that said, with the many new releases that I cover (and the fact that I’m a busy college student), I often don’t have time to play what many consider to be hallmarks of the video gaming medium. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve played my fair share of classics. But there are too many missing to justify my status as a gaming aficionado, which makes me a bit sad.

Well, no more! Releases have started to dry up this summer, and I think it’s about time I get around to playing these gems. I’ve compiled ten games that many people consider classics, and I’ll try to finish one a week. There are still a lot of important games I’ve never played before, even when I don’t count these ten, but with this initiative, it’s a start.

#10: Conker’s Bad Fur Day

One of the most crass games ever made, “Conker” tops many “funniest games of all time” lists, and it features everything from a sarcastic, drunk squirrel to a literal singing turd. It was a departure from Nintendo’s more family-friendly policies, making it a landmark title for the publisher.

#9: Red Dead Redemption

Many consider “Red Dead Redemption” to be Rockstar’s magnum opus, with a vast breathing world filled with more Western tropes than you can shake a buffalo chip at. In addition, protagonist John Marston is also considered by many to be one of gaming’s most interesting characters.

#8: Kirby Super Star

The only other “Kirby” game I’ve played is “Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards,” which I didn’t even finish. As a something of a “Kirby” newcomer, “Super Star” seems as good a place to start as any, featuring eight adventures/games with lots of “Kirby” saccharine goodness.

#7: Dishonored

This one has actually been reviewed by a previous TNL writer, but as a fan of games like “Thief” and “Deus Ex,” I’m shocked that I haven’t really touched it. With interesting new mechanics that bring new meaning to the stealth genre, it should be a stabby-good time.

#6: Banjo-Kazooie

“Conker” may be considered one of developer Rare’s finest game, but “Banjo-Kazooie” is often heralded as the king of the “collect-a-thon platformer” genre. With the spiritual successor “Yooka-Laylee” becoming a Kickstarter success story, “Banjo” has become a must-play.

#5: Resident Evil 4

This is considered one of the most important games of all time, introducing the world to third-person shooting in an intuitive new way. This, combined with the horrific atmosphere, scary enemies, and goofy story, should make it a no-brainer for me to play. Even if I haven’t. Yet.

#4: Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest

Now that we’re on Rare’s third game for this list, I have to wonder if I haven’t played enough of their games yet. However, I am a huge fan of the first “Donkey Kong Country,” and if what I hear is true, this should be an even greater experience. According to many, this is one of the best platformers ever made.

#3: Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island

But if “Diddy’s Kong Quest” is considered one of the best platformers, “Yoshi’s Island” is considered the best. And again, I’m already a fan of the original “Super Mario World,” which is timeless platforming bliss. And “Yoshi’s Island” looks to be more of that, and with a unique crayon-like art-style to boot.

#2: Silent Hill 2

I’m kicking myself over this one in particular. I’m a huge believer in video gaming’s storytelling potential, and many claim that “Silent Hill 2” tells one of the best stories in gaming history. And yet, I’ve never experienced it, in part because horror games aren’t really my thing. But hey, it’s worth a shot.

#1: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

This is the real shocker, though. I’ve been a huge fan of Star Wars for as long as I remember, and I’m a big BioWare fan as well. And yet, I’ve never played “Knights of the Old Republic,” which is acclaimed as one of BioWare’s best games, and one of the best “Star Wars” games ever made. So I owe it to myself to finally play it.

Every week, I’ll be reviewing one of these games, starting with “Conker” next week. If you have these games and want to follow along, feel free! Or better yet, if you have a backlog of old games that you’ve never played before, now is the best time to give them a go.

July 7, 2015 George Hyde

Ho boy, the news has just been absolutely juicy for the past week or so. I have so many topics to write about! First up was the crappy PC port of “Batman: Arkham Knight” which pushed my host to the brink of insanity. I don’t think it’s fair that a bad porting job does a…

July 7, 2015 George Hyde

This movie had the potential to rescue a franchise that badly needed rescuing. The first “Terminator” film was an awesome thriller with excellent character development, and it was exceeded by “Terminator 2,” which had a wonderful emotional payoff. However, the franchise was soon milked by entries that didn’t understand the appeal of the series: the…

July 1, 2015 George Hyde

“3022 ft.” is the story of Mt. Marathon, Alaska’s legendary 4th of July mountain race that’s drawn racers to Seward for over a century… No, that’s not quite right. “3022 ft.” is the story of fiery passion and redemption; of people who, to outsiders, seem like maniacs who have sold their souls in an Ahab-like…

June 25, 2015 George Hyde

Well… that was an E3. I’ve got a lot to get through, but briefly, if you don’t know what E3 is, it’s a week-long expo where video game developers and publishers, in big press conferences, show off their latest creations. Some years in the past have been great, and some others… not so much. This…

June 25, 2015 George Hyde

The first “Jurassic Park” film was a landmark in cinema. While it didn’t have the most captivating story, the special effects were groundbreaking, combining traditional puppetry and animatronics with then-mindblowing computer-generated effects to create a believable, dinosaur-filled world. With memorable characters and quotes, it made for a movie that some would argue still stands up…

June 25, 2015 George Hyde

Early in 2014, developer Machine Games made their debut with the shockingly brilliant “Wolfenstein: The New Order,” a shooter that wasn’t afraid to stray from the roots of its franchise, or tell a great story, or depict an interesting Nazi-dominated alternate universe. A year later, Machine Games has returned to their world of Nazis and…

June 9, 2015 George Hyde

If you’ve ever met my host George, you’ll know that he’s… well, on the heavy side, to put it generously. He eats a lot of junk, he rarely works out, and most of his time is either spent writing, gaming, or binge-watching something. Basically, he’s at his computer most of the day. That’s a shame…

June 9, 2015 George Hyde

“Splatoon” is a fantastic multiplayer shooter. One of the best in ages. Were it not for a few glaring issues, it would be up there with “Fistful of Frags” and “Titanfall” as one of the most interesting multiplayer games of the last few years. And it’s also family friendly, and parents with gamer kids know…

June 9, 2015 George Hyde

There are some movies that are so full of holes and flaws that they descend below awfulness and become good again. “The Room” and “Birdemic: Shock and Terror” are perfect, unintentional examples. But what happens when a group of independent Swedish filmmakers tries to intentionally create something so bad that it’s great? “Kung Fury,” one…

May 26, 2015 George Hyde

This topic is a wee bit technical for most, but I can guarantee that when most people see something at an unusual frame rate, they can feel the difference.

What is a frame rate, anyway? Well, first we need to know what a frame is, and it’s just that: a single shot of a film, or game, or any other video form. How many frames can fit into a single second is what people refer to as a frame rate.

With me so far? I hope so.

Let’s use a standard example. An average movie at a movie theater (say, “Mad Max: Fury Road”, which I’ve reviewed here) runs at 24 frames a second. That’s the standard for films, and it’s been so for decades. But there was one movie that tried to buck that trend, back in 2012. Can you remember what it was?

The knight on the left moves at 30 frames per second, while the knight on the right moves at 60.

That’s right; it was “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” which ran at many theaters at 48 frames per second. As a result, the film felt a lot smoother. This made a lot of people very uncomfortable; after all, movies have been at half that frame rate for a really long time now, so they weren’t used to it. It felt like a making-of documentary, or something on the Discovery Channel, since many of those shows run at that frame rate.

Video game enthusiasts have it a bit more complicated. Back in the eighties and early nineties, many games ran at 60 frames per second, which was the standard. But now, after the advent of 3D graphics and prettier games like “The Witcher 3” (which I’ve also reviewed here), most modern, big-budget games run at 30 frames per second, which eases up some of the game system’s processing power and allows developers to use it to make their games prettier and shinier.

And in my humble opinion, it’s time to do away with lower frame rates.

Many will argue that the human eye can’t see past 30 frames per second, and that’s not entirely true. There are some people that can’t see past that, but most people can see well and far in advance of that. Professional baseball players perceive reality at a blistering frame rate that is far higher than most people can see, which is required to play the game efficiently.

Like every other aspect of biology, this is an area where we’re all different. Every eye has a different frame rate threshold, and most scientists call this phenomenon flicker fusion. But I think it’s a fair assessment that when it comes to entertainment that’s viewed on a screen, like a movie or video game, most people can see well past 60 frames a second.

Many TV manufacturers and filmmakers have boasted about technological feats like 3D and 4K resolutions that either makes pictures more detailed or gives them depth. I think we all know by now that 3D is a gimmick, useful only for films that cater to it. And while 4K TVs will dominate in the future, many people can’t tell the difference between it and existing resolutions. Increasing the frame rate of movies, however, will result in a difference that the human eye will definitely pick up, and it requires nothing more than a powerful camera that can record at that frame rate. No glasses, no expensive television; only the human eyes you already possess are necessary to watch and enjoy content at a higher frame rate.

Indeed, I picked up a monitor for my gaming PC last year that’s capable of displaying up to 144 frames a second, and it looks and feels incredible. For movies and most games, that’s excessive. But I will say this.

There’s a reason that “Call of Duty” dominates the gaming landscape today, and that reason could well be that it’s among the few games today that always runs at a smooth 60 frames per second, no matter what the platform you play it on. To go lower would render the experience so unlike “Call of Duty” that even the most dedicated fans would swear against it.

And while many people were uncomfortable seeing “The Hobbit” at 48 frames per second, I would advise those people to give it a second chance. Audiences have yet to get used to it, but I dearly hope that they do. A film at 48 frames per second contains twice the frames as a film at the standard 24, and that means more detail and much smoother motion. It is, objectively, a better experience, and while many look towards 3D and 4K as the future of film, I think this is where it’s at.

So the next time you see a movie or game claiming it runs at a higher frame rate, give it a chance. I guarantee you’ll be blown away.

May 26, 2015 George Hyde

Let’s cut straight to the chase: does “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt” live up to the incredible hype that’s been surrounding it for years? The short answer is an absolute yes. The long answer is below. In 2007, obscure Polish game developer CD Projekt Red released “The Witcher,” an RPG based on a series of…

May 26, 2015 George Hyde

Reboots are tricky things to do. Right off the bat, audience expectations are low. Some might accuse executives of reaching for low-hanging fruit. Fans of the source material will cry foul when the reboot inevitably goes wrong. And often times, it’s seen as a soulless cash grab. But with “Mad Max: Fury Road,” that’s not…

May 14, 2015 George Hyde

WARNING: SPOILERS FOR ALL PREVIOUS MARVEL MOVIES BELOW It has been two years since the Chitauri invasion of New York. S.H.I.E.L.D. has been all but obliterated, and the sinister Hydra has risen from their ashes. In their hands: Loki’s scepter, the key to Baron von Strucker’s so-called “age of miracles.” With the Avengers so tied…

April 29, 2015 George Hyde

For seniors: What do you plan to do after graduation? For alumni: What did you do after graduation? Chloe Akers Senior Languages, Theatre “After graduation, I just want to hug my parents and thank them for everything they’ve done and continue to do for me. I have them to thank for giving me the best…

April 29, 2015 George Hyde

By Klax Zlubzecon Translated by George Hyde Well, the last stretch is upon us again. This is the fourth time I’ve written about finals, so I’ll keep it brief. Study hard. Remember to sleep. Eat heartily. Remember what your finals schedule looks like. Being the Commencement edition as well, I suppose I should address the…

April 29, 2015 George Hyde

Word Count: 442
Headline: 2015 summer movie preview

By George Hyde

gchyde@thenorthernlight.org

 

It’s that time of year; seniors graduating, flowers blooming, and summer blockbusters exploding. As per usual, there are many big movies coming out in the summer months, but there are five in particular that are worth checking out.

 

“AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON”

Release Date: May 1

This one’s a no-brainer. Directed by the man, the myth and the legend, Joss Whedon, “Age of Ultron” continues the stories of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, the Hulk and the rest. Marvel’s films have been nothing short of stupendous since the last “Avengers” film came out back in 2012, and with Whedon at the helm, “Ultron” should be no exception.

 

“TOMORROWLAND”

Release Date: May 22

“Tomorrowland” may seem like another Disney Park attraction cash-grab, until one takes into account the director: Brad Bird, the man behind phenomenal works like “The Iron Giant” and “The Incredibles.” With any luck, “Tomorrowland” should be no exception, and the trailer promises a futuristic world full of adventure. With actors like George Clooney and Hugh Laurie under Bird’s direction, “Tomorrowland” should be a treat.

 

“TERMINATOR: GENISYS”

Release Date: July 1

The trailer may have induced a lot of groans, especially after the disasters “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” and “Terminator: Salvation.” However, the story for “Genisys” seems like an interesting take on the franchise’s time-travel mechanics, with an alternate Sarah Connor taking some initiative and rescuing the male lead for once. Plus, it’s directed by Alan “Thor: The Dark World” Taylor, so hopefully he can bring some of Marvel’s likable charm to a franchise that desperately needs it.

“PIXELS”
Release Date: July 24

It’s an odd turn for director Chris Columbus, who directed “Home Alone” and the first two “Harry Potter” films, but this collaboration with Happy Madison could be intriguing. An adaptation of the short film of the same name, “Pixels” is about a group of retro-gaming fanatics on a quest to prevent video-game character monsters from destroying the world. It’s an odd premise, but with Columbus’ direction, it could work well.

 

“THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.”

Release Date: August 14

This one is a biased choice, because I’m already a huge fan of director Guy Ritchie’s work, from “Snatch” to the recent “Sherlock Holmes” films. This time, he’s directing a cheesy spy thriller along the lines of the recent “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” based on an old TV show. Ritchie has a style that is all his own, and seeing it applied to an old school spy movie is like a dream come true. Plus, it has a cast that is just as British as it needs to be for a good spy movie to work.