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Review: The Man in the High Castle

the-man-in-the-high-castle

What would have happened if the Nazis would have bombed the White House before the United States could bombed Japan during World War Two? That is the base question for The Man in the High Castle.

The Man in the High Castle is an Amazon Prime television series based on the book by Philip K Dick. In the year 1962 the United States as we know it no longer exists. The pacific states are under the control of the Japanese Empire. The eastern states are under control of the Nazis. There is a strip of states in between that are called “The Neutral Zone” where no one has control and it is more like the lawless Wild West of old.

There are many players in this show and they all contribute to the direction that the story takes. The Man in the High Castle, is at its heart, a story about stories. Different people reacting to the situations they are put in and how those actions affect those around them. There are also alternate versions of the stories, but we are just beginning to find out about those on the show.

Julia Crain has accepted the Japanese influence in her life. She practices aikido, looks after her mother and lives with her boyfriend. She has a fairly normal life for someone who is considered a second class citizen in her own country. There are other forces at play around her though. There are plots within the Nazi party itself and Hitler’s health is failing. The relationship between the Nazis and the Japanese are on shaky ground with the threat of war. The Resistance has something that they are trying to keep safely hidden. These are films. Films which show a different world. The question is whether these films a solution or are they something that should be destroyed?

The storylines in The Man in the High Castle are amazing. They take us from multiple people in the Pacific States, to the idyllic looking states under control of the Reich to Germany itself. All of the people from different countries and vocations are spun around each other seamlessly. The show keeps you guessing as it is filled with switches and turns. The characters are masterfully written.

The settings are also key to The Man in the High Castle. As the viewer travels from set to set we get an inside look at the lives which we are to be so invested in. Costumes let us know the show takes place in the past but also the status of the characters. Music is also a reminder that the sometimes familiar surroundings of our characters that what we are seeing is not what it seems. Everything in The Man in the High Castle is very delerate.

I would highly recommend The Man in the High Castle. It is a great story about alternative history with a rich cast of characters.

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ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING.      

 

This Month in Gaming History: October

This Month in Gaming History: October

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Here it is again, my favorite time of the year. October. A time to remember old traditions and a time for treats…or is it tricks? Which reminds me, we ought to take a moment to remember the games of old.

Here is are some games that have been released this month in history.

Sega Genesis

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Sega Genesis was released in October 1988 in Japan. This was Sega’s first console. The Genesis was later sold in America in 1989. The player would use a cartridge that would be inserted into the console to play the games. This gave the player access to many different games that they would purchase.

Monkey Island

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On October 1990 LucasArts released a game called Monkey Island. Monkey Island is a point-and-click adventure game. The player would assume the role of the young protagonist who dreams of becoming a pirate and gets to explore fictional islands while solving puzzles.

Tomb Raider

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Oh, Tomb Raider. I have to gush a bit here, readers. Lara has been something that many females, not even gamers, hold dear. Released in October of 1996 by Eidos, players were given a female protagonist who solved puzzles, fought and was sexy all at once. Lara Croft was a chance to play a fleshed out character who was as cool as Indiana Jones and also happened to be female. I think that is the reason why so many of us hold Lara so dear. That and the adventures are just fun to play. 

Grand Theft Auto

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Grand Theft Auto was first released by Rockstar Games in October 1997. The player would choose a playable character. Then the player is allowed to do almost whatever they would like with a limited amount of lives. The goal is to commit different crimes for respective syndicates.

Age of Empires

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Also released in October of 1997 was Age of Empires. Age of Empires was a series of computer games that focus on events of the past and the building of, well, empires. Multiple spin off games have been released in this highly successful series.

Call of Duty

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The first game of the Call of Duty series was released in October of 2003. It is a first person shooter game. Call of Duty had its start on Windows and then came to be on other gaming consoles. Call of Duty is a highly popular shooting series that has also been graced with many spin-off games.

There you have it, my frightful friends. Lots of treats and no tricks. Happy haunting and gaming this month from your favorite Bard.

Happy Halloween and always keep sparkling!

This Month in Gaming History: August

This Month in Gaming History: August

GamingHistory-Aug

August is a such a magical month. It is crammed full of the end of summer fun before school starts when we are children. It can be a lot of activity and fun. It can also be bittersweet for many people. Like the memories of summer that we cherish let us look back on some games that have been released in history in this month.

Magnavox Odyssey

Magnavox-Odyssey-Console-Set

On August 21, 1969 Ralph Baer Filed for a US Patent. That patient described playing games on  television which would later lead to part of the Magnavox Odyssey. Magnavox Odyssey was the first home game console. The box pictured above would be plugged into a television. The screen would turn black with three white dots that behaved depending on the game play.

Tombs and Treasure

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Tombs and Treasure was first released in Japan on August 3, 1988. Tombs and Treasure is a first-person puzzle solving game. At the start of the game, the player finds out that Professor Imes has gone missing with almost his whole team. The player then looks for clues to try to find the professor.

Ghouls ‘N Ghosts

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Published by SEGA Enterprises, Ghouls ‘N Ghosts was released in Japan on August 3, 1989.It is an action platform game. The player controls a knight who must defeat undead creatures in order to bring back his beloved princess from the dead.

The Need for Speed

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The Need For Speed was released for PlayStation on August 19, 1994. This game became very popular with multiple installments. It is a racing game where the player can choose different cars and tracks to race.

Hammerwatch

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August 12, 2013 gave players a game called Hammerwatch on Steam. Hammerwatch features slash and hack gameplay. The player chooses from a class to play. The player then disposes of enemies throughout a castle.

So there are some games that have been released in days of August old. Hopefully something on this list has sparked a fond memory or will entice you to try a game that you haven’t played before.

This Month in Gaming History: July

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This Month in Gaming History: July

Summer is officially here. If you need a break from the outdoor festivities, here are some games you may have forgotten about. Maybe one of them will catch your fancy for a replay.

GamingHistory-July

Donkey Kong

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Donkey Kong was released on July 9, 1981. Donkey Kong started out as an arcade game. This first version features the character maneuvering around platforms while trying to avoid obstacles. Donkey Kong became incredibly popular in America and produced many spin offs.

King’s Quest

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Released In July of 1983, King’s Quest was a revolutionary game in the the computer game industry. It was commissioned by IBM and would eventually be made for other platforms. The story features a knight who is trying to help his King regain lost treasures to help restore the Kingdom back to its former glory.

World Empire III

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Windows 3.x released World Empire III in July of 1991. The game is turn based. Players try to conquer the world. The player will start off with a country, a flag and an army. Then players strategize how to best use these to meet the objective of taking over the world.

Max Payne

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Max Payne was released on July 23, 2001 for the PC. Max Payne a third person shooter game. The player is guided through the game by Max Payne’s inner thoughts on what to do next. Progression through the game gives the player access to new things such as different guns and painkillers, which they need to regain health. The Max Payne series has won many awards and is a favorite among many PC gamers.

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

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Released worldwide on July 27, 2010, StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty was the anticipated sequel to StarCraft. It was sold 12 years later by Blizzard Entertainment.Wings of Liberty was a military game that featured heavy science fiction themes. The game is set four years after the first game and follows the leader of an insurgent group.

So, there are some games that made up this month in gaming history. Hopefully your summer is treating you well.

Happy gaming!

This Month in Gaming History April

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This Month in Gaming History April

GamingHistory-Apr

It is said that April showers bring May flowers. Well, I don’t know about that, but I am sure that most of us just want April to bring more games. Once again, it appears that not a lot of games were released in April – until the 1990s, that is – so we will be starting a little later in the timeline this month.

Here are some games that were released in April.

Little Computer People
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Little Computer People was a disk game that originated in Japan. It was released on April 3, 1987. The game has no winning conditions, and only one setting: a sideways view of the inside of a three-story house. An animated character moves into the house and goes through everyday situations, including a poker game for some characters. No two characters are the same, so every time it is played it is different as you go.

Splatterhouse
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Splatterhouse was released for PC Engine on April 6, 1990. The game was developed in Japan and is a game where a man named Rick is trapped with his girlfriend inside a mansion where they have taken refuge from a storm. Rick then has to fight off hordes of creatures while under the influence of a special mask in order to save his girlfriend and escape.

Bob Vs the Mob
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Bob Vs the Mob was developed for DOS and released on April 3,1995. Our little protagonist in this game is a stick figure attempting to shoot down his adversaries. They are also stick men and apparently are members of the criminal underground. The player shoots and moves forward instead of the more free game play we enjoy now.

Easter in Reality on the Norm
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Easter in Reality on the Norm was released worldwide for Easter in April 2003, to be played on Windows. It was mostly point and click game play. The Easter Bunny comes to town and you are to help him deliver presents while solving different puzzles. A cute idea for a themed computer game.

Planet Fish
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Planet Fish was released for the Wii on April 4, 2011. You use your underwater vessel to travel to different regions such as the Great Barrier Reef to collect different colorful fish for your personal aquarium. That objective seems a little decadent to me but whatever floats your underwater boat. While collecting fish and trying to unlock animated trophies, you have to look out for obstacles. These could be jagged rocks or dangerous underwater species.

The Elder Scrolls Online
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The Elder Scrolls Online is one that I think many of you will be familiar with. This first installment of the multiplayer game that so many of us enjoy was released on April 4, 2014. The game starts with character creation, choosing from four classes and three factions. Unlike some of the other games, each faction had its own campaign that progressed in a linear fashion through different regions.

May April showers bring May flowers… and more games.

This Month in Gaming History

GamingHistory-Jan

January can be a bleak time of year for some of us. Winter is here; New Year’s resolutions are not quite as fun as they seemed before January. Thankfully, we have games to help us get through the slump. Here are some games that have been released in January throughout the years.

Heavyweight Champ:

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A video game manufactured by Sega in 1976, Heavyweight Champ is arguably one of the first games to feature hand-to-hand combat. It’s a sparring game with boxing gloves for controls. The gloves would be moved up and down for different punches. There is also a remake of the game from 1987.

RCA Studio II:

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This poor game is known as one of the worst gaming systems of all time. Created in 1977, it has no color and no controllers. Also, it was released right before the Atari 2600, so it didn’t stand much of a chance.

Ms Pac-Man:

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One of my favorite games as a kid was Ms Pac-Man. They had one machine at the local pizza place and it was this lovely lady. While waiting for food my brother, cousin and I would fight to see who would dodge ghosts the best. It was originally released in 1982. After all the time I spent playing this, I can understand why it is such a beloved game in most of the research I did for this article.

Yie Ar Kung Fu:

Yie Ar Kung Fu

In 1985, this fighting game came out. It gave you a cast of characters, with specialized fighting, to choose from. You would try to get bumped up to a different tier so you could go get the harder bad guys at the Temple. I would be so bold as to guess that this game influenced a lot of the fighting games that would come later and had a similar pattern.

Resident Evil 2:

Resident Evil 2

1998 was a good year for games. One of the games that has been highly touted was Resident Evil 2. This game takes place directly after the events of the first game. It focuses on puzzle solving and combat to fight off the infected.

Dragon Warrior Monsters:

Dragon Warrior Monsters

In Dragon Warrior Monsters, you are a small boy named Terry and you have to rescue your sister from a world of monsters that she has been dragged into. This game was first released in North America in 2000. It is sort of like Pokemon, where you fight and train in tournaments and it was a pretty cool game to play on your Gameboy.

-Thia the Bard