Music

Character Playlists: Quinn

Intro

My current work-in-progress is a novel that follows the journey of five “heroes” who must decide whether or not to obey their master, a sentient force whose life energy is inextricably connected with their own. If they follow its prophecies, they risk losing their identities and becoming its pawns forever, but resistance means risking its wrath—and fighting a battle no one has won before. Their story is narrated by a spy forced to recount the heroes’ journey, whose power to read minds offers omniscience but not answers, whose obsession with mortal snack foods and self-destruct buttons could have terrible consequences, and whose passive aggressiveness knows no bounds…

Recently I started making playlists for each of my characters with music that reminds me of each character. These playlists are made up of songs my siblings and I listen to. Below I share my playlist for the character Quinn.

Quinn’s Playlist

Conclusion

This is the link to my full Spotify Playlist for Quinn. I’ll be adding songs over time, so be sure to check it out.

I will post new playlists for my other characters, so look out for upcoming blog articles! The number of songs doesn’t necessarily denote the importance of a character, it’s just how well songs I know fit the character.

Do any of my fellow writers have character playlists? If so, comment below so I can check them out! If not, I challenge you to try it and share!

Shows

This She-Ra Remake is Surprisingly Good

Show Review:

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Season 1

Rating: 8.5 out of 10 stars

Warning! Minor spoilers ahead for Season 1!

Review

Anyone who has been reading my content for awhile knows that I adore kids shows when they are made in a way that adult audiences can appreciate. Yet I was still skeptical about this one. It just looked childish to me from the pictures, and my sister’s claims that it was as good as or better than Avatar: The Last Airbender didn’t assuage my doubts.

I was wrong to judge it so quickly. It is one of the best cartoons I have watched in my life, even if I still like Avatar: The Last Airbender better.

The first season begins with Adora, the main character, working as a soldier for the evil Horde. She has been brought up to believe that the Horde’s missions are benevolent in nature, and that the Horde’s enemies–the princesses–are wicked. One day she ventures outside of the Fright Zone, which is the headquarters of the Horde, and finds a magic sword. The princess Glimmer and her friend Bow capture Adora. They try to get the sword for themselves, but Adora manages to use it. This sword transforms her into the legendary She-Ra.

Even though Adora has several opportunities to escape from Glimmer and Bow, she does not. This is because she comes upon a town burned by the Horde and realizes there is something wrong with what the Horde is doing. Adora comes to realize that the Horde has lied to her and that they are attacking innocent people.

She joins Glimmer and Bow and they take her to Bright Moon, where she joins the rebellion against the Horde. The first season focuses on building the rebellion’s forces.

Adora’s best friend from the Horde, Catra, is devastated by Adora’s abandonment of her and the Horde. Catra’s character development is one of the best parts of Season 1 and of seasons to come. Her mental and emotional breakdowns, her mourning, her pride, and her jealousy make her a well-rounded and sympathetic villain.

Catra vs. She-Ra

Despite being very good, the first season in a lot of ways is the set-up for what is to come. As the rebellion grows, several episodes each introduce a new princess who is not very well-developed in the first season. Background information is established and relationships begin to development and change.

There are many funny parts such as when Adora discovers things like parties and horses for the first time, because her experience has been limited in the horde.

Entrapta

My favorite character in the first season is Entrapta. From her love of tiny foods to her passion for anything science, she is a hilarious character. Her prehensile hair makes her even more interesting.

The intro seems more childish than the show itself, and I just couldn’t get behind the song. It’s fine–but it could be better.

The design is attractive, with bright colors and a beautiful palette that features various hues of pink and purple. Character design looks good, with representation of various skin colors and body types. Some people, mostly men, criticized the show because She-Ra doesn’t look sexy enough–but I can’t see why that is a problem, especially since the show promotes body positivity.

Animation is decent but not amazing. It’s kind of oversimplified, but it doesn’t look bad.

LGBTQ+ representation is present in the first season, but not as obvious as in later seasons. Spinnerella and Netossa are married princesses, but their relationship is not explored in the first season. There is more to come.

The names are not particularly creative, but they come directly from the 1980s series She-Ra: Princess of Power. Since the new show was loosely inspired by the 1980s one, I don’t consider this lack of creativity a con. Examples are Catra for a character with cat features, Bow for an archer, Perfuma for a girl with flower power, etc.

I would certainly recommend this season for most people ages 8 and up. I especially recommend it for fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. If you are expecting it to be anything like the 1980s show She-Ra: Princess of Power, you will be disappointed because it is vastly different from the moralistic and old-fashioned episodes of She-Ra: Princess of Power.

Final Breakdown

Pros

  • Great for children and adults
  • Attractive design choices
  • Representation of different body types and skin colors
  • LGBTQ+ representation

Cons

  • Overly childish intro

Observations

  • Decent animation
  • Names are not creative, but they are directly from the original She-Ra series from the 1980s
  • Not very similar to the original She-Ra

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate shows, check out my rating system.

Links

Board Games

Board Game Review: Terraforming Mars

Board Game Review:

Terraforming Mars

Rating: 8.6 out of 10 stars

Intro

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Terraforming Mars is my favorite board game. I am willing to admit it has its shortcomings, but it is my go-to game when choosing what to play. I very rarely win. In fact, I have only won it once, and I took a picture as a memento. (Picture on left.)

The fact that I love the game despite constantly losing it says a lot about the game. It’s a game that makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something no matter what your score.

Objective

What I hope to accomplish with my board game reviews is to introduce you to a new game and help you determine whether the game is a good fit for you. I will consider and rank five criteria: gameplay, design, strategy, originality, and replayability.

Description

Terraforming Mars is a strategy board game for 1-5 players. It utilizes mechanics such as hand management, engine building, and set collection. The theme is set in the year 2400, when various corporations are attempting to increase their profits by making Mars habitable.

Gameplay (10 out of 10 stars)

It’s a pretty complex game, but I’ll try to simplify it here. Obviously for the complete rules, consult the instruction booklet that comes with the game.

Basically, during the game you are trying to boost your terraforming rating as much as possible. You can do this by using cards to build your corporate empire, using tiles to transform the surface of Mars, boosting the temperature, increasing the oxygen level on the planet, or creating oceans.

The cards are varied and include those that boost your production levels, those that introduce animals or plants to the planet, those that allow you to hurl meteorites and asteroids at your foes, those that can be played again as actions each generation, those that reduce the cost of future cards, etc.

You can fund awards or reach achievements to gain endgame points as well as gain bonuses for placement of tiles.

The corporations give beginning of the game bonuses as well as powers that can affect gameplay.

Design (5 out of 10 stars)

Design includes two categories: art and components.

The art leaves much to be desired. Much of it is from free stock photos. All the photos fit the theme, but they could’ve done better.

The components are mostly pretty good, except the player mats. The player mat shown in the picture above is from a kickstarter, mostly because the originals were basically unusable, so flat that pieces would constantly be moving around. It was hard to remember what level all my stats were at, so until we got the kickstarter player boards, we would use a separate piece of paper to keep track of stats.

Strategy (10 out of 10 stars)

The strategy level is high in this game because you have so many options. Will you focus on increasing your Mega Credit production, or on titanium or steel? Will you mostly plant greeneries or build cities, carve out oceans or raise the temperature? Which corporation will you choose? When will you invest in cards and when will you save your mega credits for the next opportunity? Do you sabotage opponents and risk retaliation or play it safe?

Originality/Creativity (9 out of 10 stars)

The game mechanics are pretty original when paired with the theme. I don’t know of any other Mars-themed games that can stand up to this one.

Replayability (9 out of 10 stars)

I would replay this anytime, but I know not everyone would. Its length usually lasts longer than the 2 hours suggested, even with our house rules that shorten the game. (In our house, we start with 1 production on each track on the player boards and do not have to buy our initial cards.) The length does make it hard to replay unless we are planning ahead.

Conclusion

I fully recommend this game, but caution that it is not for everyone. If you like medium-weight engine-building games, this is probably a good one for you.

Shows

LoK Season 3 is Darker than the Rest

Show Review:

The Legend of Korra Season 3

Rating: 9.2 out of 10 stars

Intro

I had the pleasure of watching The Legend of Korra (LoK) Season 3 for the second time with my best friend. It is not as good as Avatar: The Last Airbender (ATLA), but it is fun nonetheless.

Spoiler-Free Version

First, a spoiler-free sum up of my thoughts, and after that we will get into spoiler territory, so watch out:

This season is much better than the poor planning and execution of Season 2 for many reasons.

The villains, though they lack much backstory, prove that they are resourceful, intelligent, and dangerous. There are lasting consequences to poor decisions in this season because the villains are so competent. Zaheer in particular rivals Amon as a potential best villain of the whole show.

My favorite addition to characters this season was by far Kai. That kid is funny, mischievous, and very likeable.

The settings include a close-up look at modern Ba Sing Se, which is unfortunately as corrupt as it was in Aang’s time, and Zaofu, home of the metalbending clan.

Rather than getting a ton of obnoxious relationship drama, we get a dose of pent-up family drama. It’s kind of refreshing to not have to deal with the stupid love triangle that dominated Season 2. I have to say it – even though Mako was fun at first, his wishy-washy-ness with Asami and Korra was a pain to watch and made we like him less. Last season even made me love Bolin less, and he’s my favorite character.

This season they all find the better version of themselves and move forward with life. The world is starting to regain balance in ways it hadn’t during Aang’s time as Avatar – the spirit world and the physical world have intertwined, causing problems and yet seeming to bring more balance to a world that had been previously deprived of the presence of the spirits in most instances.

Warning: Below this point are spoilers for Seasons 1-3 of The Legend of Korra, as well as spoilers for Avatar: The Last Airbender Seasons 1-3!!

Background

The Legend of Korra was created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. It is a sequel to the TV show Avatar: The Last Airbender (ATLA).

Characters in this show are either benders, who can control one of the four elements, or non-benders, who cannot control any elements.

It is a unique blend of anime style with the style of American cartoons.

The Legend of Korra Season 3 was released in 2014 under the name of Book 3: Change. After episode 8, the show stopped airing on Nickelodeon and moved online. This was partly due to leaked content and partly do to unfavorable ratings.

Summary

The Legend of Korra Season 3 focuses on Korra’s efforts to rebuild the Air Nation, Lin Beifong’s reconciliation with her sister and her sister’s family, and Zaheer’s attempt to end the Avatar for good.

Pros

  • Entertaining, appealing old characters
  • New and fun characters
  • Formidable villains
  • Interesting settings
  • Humor
  • Focuses on family drama instead of relationship drama
  • Merging of the spirit world and the physical world brings new challenges
  • The Airbending nation is back!
  • Considers how preservation of old traditions must be balanced with changes that come about as part of the modern setting
  • Consequences for inadequate efforts

Cons

  • Villains without much backstory

Observations

  • Darker than previous seasons

Review

Characters

If you want to learn more about the main characters, look back at my reviews for seasons 1-2. The links are at the bottom of the page.

Kai develops the ability to use airbending and meets Team Avatar when they are trying to round up recruits to rebuild the air nation. He’s mischievous, thieving, and untrustworthy–but chooses good when it really matters. His crush on Jinora and their mutual affection is kind of cute, and puts him on Tenzin’s bad side. Bolin treats him like a little brother willingly, and Mako does more grudgingly. Overall, Kai is a wonderful addition to the team and adds a lot of humor and trouble to the mix.

Suyin is the half-sister of Lin Beifong. This is where the family drama comes in. Suyin was rebellious as a child, in stark contrast to Lin, who was obedient and law-abiding. Suyin is the reason Lin has a scar on her face. She wants to make amends with Lin, but Lin is uninterested in acting like a family again. They get into a serious fight that is amazing to watch. “Fighting is all part of the healing process,” Bolin assures the others, and he is not completely wrong. Suyin is the leader of Zaofu, the metalbending clan, and has a large family of talented individuals.

Opal is the daughter of Suyin. She develops airbending abilities and is trained by Korra. Even though she really wants to go and join the Air Nation, her mother insists she stays at home. Opal eventually stands her ground and is permitted to leave home. Bolin x Opal (Bopal) is so much better than Bolin x Eska (Boleska).

Zaheer is one of the new airbenders, and has long admired Laghima, a long-dead airbending master. At the beginning of the story, he is kept in a prison as a result of his efforts to kidnap Korra as a child. After developing airbending abilities, he is able to escape and fights to release all of his friends from the Red Lotus. Zaheer is an anarchist who believes governments are evil and that the avatar cycle must end along with these governments in order for a new world to be born. Zaheer rivals Amon as the best villain of the series, but I wish he had more backstory,

Settings

Ba Sing Se is a huge, sprawling Earth Kingdom city. Just like in Avatar: The Last Airbender, there is a lot of corruption going on here, and the outer parts of the city are decrepit while the inner circle is immaculate. The Earth Queen rules her city with an iron fist, and tries to make her own airbending army. I found this second look at Ba Sing Se to be a much-needed echo from the past, tying ATLA and LoK together even more.

Zaofu is a beautiful and secure city run by Suyin. It is a place where metalbenders can hone their craft as well as their talents, which for some includes artistic skill. The protective dome makes Zaofu especially safe. It is technologically innovative city, but even its strong defense could not stop Zaheer’s attack.

Humor

This show balances humor with darker aspects. For example, the very serious scene of Korra vs. Zaheer, the poisoning, and the mass destruction are lightened somewhat when Zaheer is defeated and Bolin “put a sock in it” by literally putting a sock in Zaheer’s mouth.

Balance

This season is all about the balance brought about by change. The spirit world becomes integrated with the physical world in a way it never was during Aang’s time. The rise of the airbending nation caused by this is somewhat of a relief considering there was only a single family of airbenders before that. It is heartening to see that the balance Aang envisioned is finally coming to life.

Dark Aspects

The Earth Queen’s murder through suffocation is one of the darkest parts of this season. It’s not bad that it’s gotten darker–just different. Zaheer rips the oxygen from the queen’s lungs and creates a mini tornado-like ball around her head until she dies.

P’Li is one of the few individuals who can combustionbend like Combustion Man from Atla. When her head is encased in metal, there is an explosion inside that kills her. This is a particularly brutal death, but since the metal covers her head, we do not see the gruesome results.

The capture and poisoning of Korra is very dark as well. Even though Zaheer fails to end the Avatar cycle, the poison has lasting consequences.

Consequences

At the end of the season, Korra is unwell and barely able to move, let alone walk. I think that this a good step because it makes the Avatar seem less invincible. It also shows that trauma cannot just be there one day, gone the next typically. Physical and emotional scars tend to stick around, at least for a time.

Conclusion

I would wholeheartedly recommend this season. It is rated PG, but I would not recommend it for younger children since this season is darker.

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate shows, check out my rating system.

Links

Related Articles

Acknowledgements

Thank you to Alyssa Wilson for her feedback on this article.