Power Play

(Editor’s Note: A�TLDR: A�While not a perfect movie, or even a perfect representation of the franchise, this is a good movie and you should go support it so that they make more! I gotta have more Rangers!)

As I’m sure it is in many houses with boys, ours is a Power Rangers house. A�I don’t remember–and I don’t think–that Liam was a super fan. A�Aiden, on the other hand, loved the show from the first episode he watched. A�And Quinn is a super fan. A�He has watched parts of every season and will periodically rewatch parts of his favorite. A�He wore a Red Ranger costume around for the better part of a month a couple of years ago. A�He even wanted to wear the thing to go see the movie a few weeks ago.

That, of course, is why I’m writing the article. A�Christine mentioned that she wanted to take her dad to see the new Beauty and the Beast. A�As if by chance (and I”m realizing that there may not be any such thing as chance), I saw a trailer for the Power Rangers movie. A�It just made sense. A�She and her father can go to Beauty and the Beast and we go to see Power Rangers. A�With the plan hatched, all we had to do was bide our time.

MUAHAHAHAHA! Okay, I admit. As far as evil plans go, this one is pretty lame, but it is no less…evil.

The boys spent their time watching and rewatching old episodes on Netflix. A�I got into the fun because Twitch did a marathon leading up to the release of the movie. A�I also essentially put the trailer on a loop to hype myself even more. A�Hey, I’ll be the first to admit. A�I was excited to take the boys to see the movie, but I even said to Christine, “I think that this movie is just as much for me as it is for them. A�Maybe more.” A�I may be many things, but I’m not afraid to admit that I have never grown up. A�Have never and most likely will never.

The funny part about it is that I did not grow up watching Power Rangers like I did with some of my other childhood obsessions that have come back. A�I was a teenager when the first season released here in the states. A�I think that one of my brothers really liked the show and that might be how I got into it even though I wasn’t the primary demographic. A�Well, that and I had a crush on the pink ranger.

Who among us didn’t?

So, that’s how we ended up at the movie. A�The question begs, “Is it any good?” A�Well, that’s complicated. A�I know what you’re thinking. A�This is the guy who says he loves everything A�If he isn’t saying that it is unequivocally good, that’s a bad sign. A�Plus, it hasn’t exactly gotten the best reviews. A�Why should I see this movie?

Woah, woah, woah. A�Slow down there. A�First, yes i do like and can find the positive in almost anything. A�Also, I did not breathlessly state how great the movie is and that you should rush out and see it immediately. A�It is great and you should see it. Maybe not immediately, but soon and definitely in the theater. A�However, in an attempt to be taken more seriously as a critic and be more well balanced, I present a new format for reviews. A�While I will look and sound like a hypocrite and fraud after blasting Blizzard for doing this in many of my articles, I’m still going to call it “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”. A�It’s a format I used when I was writing for my Steelers web page many years ago. A�In spite of the possible repercussions, it was a good gag then and I think it will translate now.

Plus, this movie is 50 years old. Who on the internet has even seen it at this point?

The Good (Always start with the good to soften the bad)

The highest praise that I can give this movie is that it’s Power Rangers. A�I mean, it’s not classic Power Rangers, but I understand that they couldn’t take the cheesy effects and bad acting, slap some shiny power armor on it, and charge upwards of 15-20 bucks per ticket. A�So, if you’re expecting the putty noise or Bulk and Skull shenanigans, you’re going to be disappointed. A�On a quick side not, I was disappointed that Bulk and Skull didn’t at least get a small part in the movie.

Other than that, though, this is Power Rangers. A�There is comedy that made both me and the boys laugh out loud more than once. A�There is legitimate drama. A�Of course, there’s action an dfight scenes. A�I’ve seen one or two complaints of not enough Power Rangers in this Power Rangers movie. A�That’s always the potential risk in origin stories like this. A�And, make no mistake, this movie introduces the characters. A�They are based on the originals, but they mostly have new stories to be told. A�Heck, there’s even Rita, Goldar, Zordon, and Alpha 5. A�It’s Power Rangers.

Did I forget to mention the Megazord? How could I forget the Megazord?

The Bad

The criticism that I’ve heard most often and the one that I agree with the most is that the movie struggles to find its audience. A�It is only natural that a franchise that has been around for so long and has fans from 5 to at least 41 ifi you consider only our family demographics), you need to thread the needle a bit to try to give everyone what they want. A�In that regard, the movie suffers a bit from trying to do it all and almost doing nothing instead. A�Almost. A�There are a few sour notes, but overall, Power Rangers walks the tight rope successfully. A�Yay, mixed metaphor!

In addition, these comic book movies have a certain feel to them. A�Ever since Sam Raimi helped to revive the genre with Spider-Man all those years ago and Christopher Nolan Batman movies added their momentum, comic book movie have been HUGE! A�Some live up and add to the hype (re: Avengers/Infinity story). A�Others stall a bit and don’t quite reach their potential (re: A�Batman vs. Superman). A�More still have been determined not to be able to sustain a movie franchise and instead are TV shows (Flash, Luke Cage, etc.) and a few have fizzled completely. A�It is my hope that the fans of Power Rangers will be able to buoy the franchise against the tide of criticism enough to allow it to find that sweet spot that this movie only just missed.

For instance, they could have cut down on the “learning to be Power Rangers” story a bit. Although, the “death of Billy (spoiler alert)” was really cool and took me by surprise.

The Ugly

I genuinely liked this movie, so this section most likely won’t be very long. A�But, I do want to expand a bit on that last point. A�Making movies, like sports, has become such a big business that there is little room for failure. A�This attitude pervades much of our society, but especially where there is money involved. A�Teams, studios, and fans can be brutal when assessing what is success. A�Sports fans, especially, are quick to define anything less than a championship as utter failure.

As I say, Power Rangers is being met with mixed reactions. A�I was actually surprised to see that the Rotten Tomatoes score was so low. A�Now, I’m not one to be swayed by critics, but perhaps borderline new fans might be. A�I just hope that not too many are turned off by the perceived negative reviews and give the movie a chance. A�It had a decent opening, so all of this worry may be for nothing. A�Then again, it has stalled some, so…*fingers crossed*

Also, and this gives me more hope (hey, start with the good and leave with good), this might be the type of movie that gains a following on DVD/Blu Ray/Streaming. A�Those on the fence might just wait until then because it is less of an investment and find that they disagree with the critics, love the film, and go see the second one in the theaters. A�Because I definitely want more. A�If they don’t happen, though, I’m glad to have had this one to share with my kids.

I mean, there has to be at least one more movie because they post credit scened us with Tommy’s jacket.

Bricks in Space!

(Editor’s Note: A�You got your Lego in my Star Wars! A�You got your Star Wars in my Lego! A�Two great tastes that taste great together? A�Actually, Lego taste gross, so, no.)

We are huge fans of both Star Wars and Lego here at 2 Generations Gaming. A�it stands to reason that we would be fans of the Lego Star Wars games. A�in fact, we are not. A�We find the games lacking in depth of story and character development. A�They are derivative and insulting to the source material. A�I would go as far as to say–I’m kidding. A�We love all of the Lego games. A�Since our topic on the podcast this week is Star wars, I will focus on them in this article. A�I promise that won’t be a problem. A�While I have played almost all of the Lego video games, I haven’t played any of them as extensively as the Star Wars ones.

In fact, the first game that I bought for the XBox 360 was the complete saga. A�That was even after having beaten the original trilogy on PS2. A�That was even in the face of a new, and in some ways, more interesting Lego game. A�Having purchased the “family” version of the XBox 360, it came with Kung Fu Panda and Lego Indiana Jones. A�Don’t get your knickers in a bunch. A�I’m not saying that I prefer either the Indiana Jones movies or games to Star Wars. A�However, I had already beaten the Star Wars games, so I should have wanted to play Indy to try to beat the game and increase my nerd cred.

I don’t need to prove myself to you or anyone.

However, nerd cred be damned! A�I game what I want! A�Also, I’m pretty sure that they boys really preferred Star Wars at the time. A�So, in the name of one of our founding principles, I played games with my kids. A�I think that I mentioned in past articles what a nightmare that was. A�Those first Lego games required both players to share the same space. A�You were not able to break free and explore on your own as you now can. A�Therefore, half of the game was spent trying to convince your young child that he was the one hindering your progress through the level. A�The rest of the time was figuring out how to manipulate both controllers to solve the puzzles that required cooperation and, often fine motor or logic skills not usually possessed by the average preschool aged child.

Granted, preschool kids have their own versions of Lego in Duplo and now Juniors, but what lame kid wants to play with Duplo? A�All the cool kids play with Lego and Duplo are just there to suck up even more money from well meaning parents and grandparents. A�Kids certainly aren’t going to play a Duplo themed video game. A�Can you imagine how lame it would be? A�The mind boggles.

Forget what the Lego movie says. These things will probably just fall apart for no good reason and end up shoved in the far corner of the playroom closet.

So, much of my exploration (such as it was in those days) and enjoyment of the first round of Lego Star Wars games happened alone when the kids were in bed. A�Imagine that. A�I went from Fatal Frame, Skyrim, Resident Evil, Fallout 3, and Dead Rising to trying to find that last mini kit piece in level 2 of The Empire Strikes Back. A�Having children changes you, Man.

However, I can’t blame my kids for the fact that this game led me to many years of purchasing and playing Lego video games. A�sure, I can say that I’m buying the games for the boys, but we all know the truth. A�Don’t get me wrong. A�I love sharing these things with others, especially my flesh and blood, but just like Power Rangers, Star Wars, and Marvel movies, I’m ultimately doing this for me and I have the boys for company because Christine wants nothing to do with any of it.

Some parents dress their kids in designer clothes. I got mine involved in nerdy hobbies. Both acts are equally likely to get them beat up.

My kids, though, they’ve gotten my appreciation for the finer things in nerd life. A�I didn’t even have to buy Lego The Force Awakens because Liam asked for it for Christmas. A�Honestly, I wasn’t even going to get the game. A�Or, maybe, I’d have just ordered it from Gamefly to try it out, because I was going to wait for all 3 of the movies to be released and then the combination game would come out at half of the price of the single versions. A�I haven’t played it yet, but Liam and Aiden have and they seem to have had fun with it. A�Maybe I will play it over the next few days and add an addendum to the article with any new opinion on the game itself or the additions to the game.

Because, of all the game series I’ve ever played, Lego games are the ones that improve with every new game that is released. A�They included the ability to free roam away from the other character. A�They allow you to purchase characters by bumping into them in the world instead of having to go to the screen to do so. A�Some of the improvements are significant. A�Some are simply cosmetic or quality of life improvements. A�However, all are improvements. A�So, I’ll have to see how The Force Awakens has changed the series.

To be continued…

Sorry, I usually hate those, too, but it’ll get you to tune in next time!

Journey to Redemption?

(Editor’s Note: A�We know that you have become accustomed to our intense and burning hatred for all things Blizzard and Hearthstone. A�If so, this article might come as a shock to you. A�Please consult your doctor if you have a heart condition or are prone to fits of hysteria.)

Yes, it’s that time again when a not so young gamer’s heart turns to anger and frustration. A�Spring means a new Hearthstone expansion–as they’ve done away with adventures–and our “card review”. A�More often than not, “card review” means that I discuss new mechanics, get excited that control might finally become a viable option in the game, and then conclude that Hearthstone is just fundamentally flawed in design and face decks will always rule until they change how the game plays.

It’s become a bit of a running gag around here that we hate Hearthstone. A�That’s only partly true. A�I do find the focus on aggro and the reliance on RNG to be annoying. A�Also, I’m bitter that they ultimately killed a good game in the WoW:TCG to focus on this. A�I still feel like they could both exist. A�But, I do genuinely like some of the ideas that the game has introduced to the genre.

I mean, people might get confused because there is so much overlap in the art for the two games, but eventually, I think we’re smart enough to get it.

And, so, I kept playing in spite of how angry it sometimes made me. A�Chris kept telling me that I was addicted. A�Hell, I might have been. A�I am a sucker for the treadmill type of games that Blizzard makes. A�So, I guess we score one for addiction. A�Because I kept playing it, I’ve found my comfort zone in the game. A�It may not always be fun, but I’m not constantly texting Chris how much I hate the game anymore.

I have a feeling that some of this is temporary. A�After months of trying and promising control decks, Blizzard finally accidentally created an environment where they are viable. A�Sure, the meta is overwhelmingly face decks, so you still get aggro’d out of the game quite a bit of the time, but control decks actually do exist and get played quite a bit. A�As someone who prefers that playstyle, I couldn’t be happier. A�But, Standard rotation beckons and Reno is being relegated to the Wild frontier.

Don’t worry, Buddy. As a filthy casual, I prefer playing Wild, so we won’t be apart for long.

That’s the big selling point this time. A�Every time there’s an expansion, players get excited for new cards, the meta gets solved in a few days to a week, and then everyone complains about how boring the game is for another 3 months. A�Rinse and repeat. A�This time is different, Blizzard promises. A�Not only are new cards being introduced, but cards are rotating out for only the second time int he history of the game. A�That’s gotta add at least a day or two of theory crafting to figure out that spamming minions and going face is the optimal strategy. A�Okay, okay, that was a cheap shot. A�Only one at this in the article, though, is way under par.

So, what cool stuff can we expect from Un’Goro? A�First, and I’m actually genuinely excited about htis one, they’re bringing back the concept of quests. A�If you ever played the WoW: TCG, you remember that quests were the resource similar to mana. A�Since Hearthstone uses mana crystals, it doesn’t make sense to use quests in a similar fashion. A�Instead, they are legendary cards that are auto included in your opening hand. A�They require you to do something–ie, playA�x cards of some sort or another–and reward you with a super powerful card. A�I don’t know if any of the quests will be seen in competitive play, but I can’t wait to play around with them in the casual modes.

I feel like I’ve seen this card before. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but the card was definitely blue there, too.

The other new mechanic that has potential is “Adapt”. A�This feature “discovers” three upgrades to your minion in the form of divine shield, windfury, stealth, taunt, etc. A�The discover mechanic is one of the best ideas that the Hearthstone team has introduced into the genre. A�It fits in with the theme of the game that RNG is skill. A�There is variance, but because the game gives you three options, the chances of getting something useful are that much higher. A�Anything that adds more discover to the game is okay by me.

Hey, you might say, you’ve already mentioned 2 concepts that you like about the new expansion. A�Maybe you’ve turned the corner and will actually like the game now. A�Woah! A�Hold up there. A�Hating Hearthstone is part of my identity. A�If I actually like it, who have I become? A�this is an existential crisis in the making. A�But, not right now! A�Yes, there are some cool mechanics in the set, but there are always things that I can find to like about a card set before it’s been released.

I’m right there with you, Snoopy. Hearthstone is enough to make a man mad.

Usually, in Magic, that means that these things are not remotely viable as a competitive strategy. A�In Hearhtstone, they are usually unique strategies that change the way the game is played. A�So, I guess both are in keeping with my tendency to go against the grain. A�As far as the rest of the cards are concerned, there is an emphasis on “tribal”. A�Tribal is always one of the MtG buzzwords that is never viable, but always hooks me.

In addition to an overall deck strategy, I will often try to adhere to a tribal theme in Magic. A�Honestly, I don’t thin that it is any more viable in Hearthstone, but it is easier to make a tribal theme work because the synergies are more prevalent. A�For instance, you won’t ever get high ranks playing murlocs, but I did get a healthy win streak while playing a dumb shaman murloc deck the other day.

Who knows? A�Maybe I have turned the corner. A�I have gone from actively hating the game to accepting it as part of my daily routine. A�I suppose the next logical step is actual enjoyment.

We’ve Got a “Ticket to Ride”

(Editor’s Note: A�That title works on two levels. A�First, it is accurate. A�Second, it is a cheesy Beatles reference. A�Aren’t we so clever?!)

I don’t remember either how we ended up on the subject of the game “Ticket to Ride” nor how we got someone to buy it for us. A�Wait, that last part sort of makes it sound like a con, which it isn’t. A�I mean, I know that her mother bought it for us for Christmas, but that’s not the point. A�It’s just that we had never discussed the game, it came up in conversation once, and then her mother agreed to buy it for us for Christmas. A�The whole sequence of events happened so rapidly that it felt sort of surreal. A�It was like an episode of the X-Files except the big reveal at the end is that a chain smoking conspiracy theorist purchased a popular board game for our family.

I do remember that I read about the game through my various online gaming groups. A�As with anything on the internet, some enjoyed it and some hated it. A�However, many more enjoyed it than not. A�In addition, those that enjoyed it almost universally loved it. A�It seemed like a good game and one that we could play as a family. A�It must have gotten stored somewhere and not accessed for some reason or another. A�Then, we got to talking about Christmas, the Cigarette Smoking Man intervened, and we own a copy of “Ticket to Ride”.

Unlike some of the other games we own, we specifically put aside a family game night to play this one. A�During that first play through, we experienced some of the growing pains mentioned by people who didn’t like the game. A�However, instead of letting it affect our enjoyment of the game, we adapted the rules slightly to learn some of the nuance of the game. A�For instance, we played with all cards face up, helped one another make decisions on each turn, and probably messed up the final scoring a bit.

However, the game was fun. A�In our house, ultimately, that’s all that matters. A�Sure we have our competitive sides, but we try to temper them during family game night. A�The last thing we need is another ER visit, especially one due to a fist fight over Connect 4. A�So, sometimes we play by house rules to add to the fun and enjoyment of the game. A�Thankfully, understands this and he is also willing to put some of his competitive streak to the side when we play Magic. Otherwise, he’d wipe the floor with me using his more finely tuned Modern decks that he put together to hang during Modern nights with his other play group.

My gaming buddies, I’m thinking of you!

While it isn’t quite so dramatic as Brokeback Mountain, can you tell I miss the other guy gaming? A�I think I’ve mentioned him at least once in each article that I’ve written since this attempted reboot. A�We tried to get together a couple of weeks ago for some AER draft and Modern action (I’ve built 2 semi-viable decks), but life got in the way. A�Life seems to get in the way of far too much. A�I think I think life needs a solid punch in the face. A�Maybe I need to stop making excuses and just put “game time” into the schedule. A�Ugh, I just miss my gaming buddies. A�But, I digress.

Perhaps “But, I Digress” should be the name of a podcast. A�File it away if I ever get so popular that this is my job. A�So, look for that in my next life. A�”But, I Digress”, streaming–or whatever they call that technology–into your brain in whatever year I’m old enough after having been reincarnated. A�I smell a hit.

For now, I need to focus on “Ticket to Ride”. A�In case you don’t know, the game involves up to four players who attempt to build a railroad between cities on a map of America. A�I know! A�Sounds thrilling, right? A�You’d be surprised. A�The version that we have is America. A�The game is so popular that it has spawned several expansions (sequels? I’m not sure what to call them.) that take place all over the world. A�Crazy, right?

Heck, they even have trains on boats!

Believe me, I thought the same things as I did research after hearing how popular it was. A�You build trains cross country? A�Really? A�That’s the game? A�Well, okay, if you insist. A�I fail to see how that will sustain a family for one game night. A�Forget the multiple plays necessary to justify the price tag. A�As you read this, also consider that our family are some of the biggest train fans that you will meet. A�I mean, we’re not on par with Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory, but we do attend an annual train hobby show and have taken a couple of trips by train. A�The second trip was much better than the first.

So, when I tell you that was my initial reaction to the game, you can believe me when I say that I understand your skepticism. A�The concept is very simple, almost to the point that you wonder if there is enough to sustain a game. A�Well, put that thought to rest. A�This game might be simple, but it is fun.

Well, you might argue in an attempt to play devil’s advocate, some of the best and most fun games are simple. A�Isn’t Hearthstone’s motto, “Deceptively simple, insanely fun”? A�Well, first, that’s a terrible example, because we barely tolerate Hearthstone around here. A�I certainly don’t find it insanely fun. A�Second, that motto seems to follow the rather dubious Blizzard tradition of stealing ideas and changing them only ever so slightly to avoid litigation. A�Seriously, that sounds very A�much like the slogan on the Othello box. A�Not exactly, but close enough that’s immediately what I thought when I first heard it.

Completely random and unnecessary Hearthstone slam. *air guitar*

Nevertheless, your point stands. A�Games that you can play right out of the box with little to no reference to the rules are some of the most fun. A�While our initial play through of Ticket to ride led to more than one glance at the rulebook for clarification, it didn’t interrupt the flow of the game much and we were back in business quickly.

The fun in the game comes in the form of strategy. A�Do you build your own routes? A�do you attempt to block your opponents? A�Do you split the difference? A�Furthermore, how do you execute your strategy once you settle on one? A�It all makes for an intense game experience and one that we recommend.

One final thought. A�Maybe the price tag is too intimidating for you to invest in just for “a try”. A�I can appreciate that. A�It is quite the investment, especially if you don’t like the game. A�You are not guaranteed to get any return on your investment if you have to resell it. A�Luckily, an app has been developed that lets you play the game solo or in a group using play and pass. A�I bought the app because I like the game and so that I could play and practice, but you could buy it to see if the game is something you’d enjoy. A�At only 2 bucks, it’s a lot less money than the actual game.