The Girls Who Roam the Net

With Saint Leo volleyball sitting atop the conference at a sweltering 8-2 record, which included the blowout of rival University of Tampa Spartans, the Lions deserve some recognition. While volleyball is a team effort and the whole team has been performing at an excellent level, there a few that have stood out among the crowd.

Maddy Powell is a junior from neighboring Tampa, Florida. She has had an outbreak this year. With her freshman and sophomore year being quiet she was determined to do something about it. She saw a total of only 24 matches and 32 sets in her first two years, but this season has already played in 16 matches and 45 sets. She has become a new key part of the attack on the Lions offense with 65 kills and 170 total attacks. Like her whole team she has also played even better in conference. “When we play in conference we focus even more than usual, because that’s when it counts” Powell` said. “There’s nothing like the feeling of beating a rival team.” Powell has played her best volleyball as a Lion so far and hopes it won’t stop now.

Her teammate and the Lions’ libero, or rearmost defender, Jamee Townsend is playing as her usual self. She continues to have great matches every time she goes out. Possibly the Lions best defender, Townsend is from Plant City, Florida and went to Strawberry Crest High School. She has outdone herself at her time at Saint Leo. Now a senior, she has competed in 311 sets in her past 3 seasons, among the most on the team. She has been named to many SSC all conference teams and has reached a feat, this year, which not many volleyball players can say they have done: 1000 digs, or balls handled and kept in play when they are spiked at her. Playing in all 24 matches this year Townsend has racked up 464 of the 1000 digs with 0 errors. She is the backbone of the Lions’ defense and continues to carry and support the offense. She will be sorely missed after this year.

Hope Lemon, the outside hitter who Powell feeds time after time every match, is one of the Lions’ heavy hitters. She jumps out of the gym standing at only 5 feet 9 inches, small for a hitter. She is from Cedar Park, Texas. Majoring in Sports Business, Lemon has excelled on and off the court. She, just like Townsend, reached a milestone in her career recently. She reached 1000 kills. A kill is when the ball is set to a hitter and she scores a point when the ball hits the opponent’s floor. This is an impressive feat. She has been named to countless SSC teams and a South Region All-Tournament Team last year. She continues to get better and better every year, however. So far this season she has played in every match and has recorded 284 kills already. Averaging 3.5 kills a set.

Hope, Jamee, Maddy, and the entire Lions volleyball team is playing stellar ball right now and looks to continue their run deep into the playoffs. Congratulations to Lemon and Townsend on their extremely impressive milestones.

Marvel Beating DC and FOX – The War Between The Superhero Producing Companies

With “Doctor Strange” releasing on Nov. 4, Marvel seems to be dominating in superhero films this year; much critical praise has been given both to this film and the most recent Marvel film, “Captain America: Civil War.” As a result, other production companies, such as Fox and DC, have been clamoring for the same successes.

Honestly, if someone asks me what the best superhero movie of the year is, I would gladly say “Captain America: Civil War” (although I still haven’t seen “Doctor Strange” yet). “Civil War” exceeded my expectations, which were already astronomically high. The directors, the Russo Brothers, did an outstanding job; they transformed the characters from the comic books and made them relatable and grounded them in reality. The characters weren’t facing a massive villain as evident in typical superheroes movies, but rather one another as the structure in their unit was being fractured. This storyline seems real and relatable. I am surprised at how well-executed the storyline was and how the Russos were able to take simple themes, such as friendship and revenge, and weave a cohesive and heartwarming tale that involved loveable characters and amazing action sequences. Three words could sum up the awesomeness of the movie: the airport scene.

With “Civil War,” Marvel hit a home run. In fact, with almost every movie that the company produces, they succeed both in critical praise and at the box office. With the release of “Iron Man,” Marvel started the Cinematic Universe with a bang; with the release of “Marvel’s The Avengers,” Marvel cemented their status as the studio releasing stellar comic book movies year after year.

Even movies that weren’t expected to be popular, like “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Ant-Man” show how Marvel is excelling. The Guardians were relatively unknown comic book characters, yet Marvel, along with a great director, James Gunn, harnessed something magical with the film, making these characters beloved and cementing them into pop culture history. “Ant-Man” was able to succeed and be enjoyed by critics and fan alike, despite the turmoil behind-the-scenes with directors changing and ideas being shelved. However, DC failed to take beloved and renowned characters, like Superman and Batman, and make them even serviceable to the audience. Why can’t DC get it right?

“Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” was a way to launch the DC Extended Universe (DCEU); however, with the release of this divisive film among critics and fans, DC failed. Maybe it was because the company was trying to do too much. The title of the movie said it all; the filmmakers tried to reintroduce Batman and his origin to public consciousness, tried to establish a feud with Superman and Batman–which was never made clear in the movie why they hate each other–and tried to introduce the Justice League; however, none of these things were done properly. In fact, this movie was a jumbled mess, story-wise; even though action scenes were amazing and well-done, the movie is still uneven, long and drawn-out, and is just disappointing.

DC is currently trying everything they can to fix what they think is wrong with “Batman v. Superman,” including changing the dark and dreary tone by lightening up the DC spin-off “Suicide Squad,” as evident in the reported reshoots for the film. Although “Suicide Squad” was fun and had light moments, overall the movie failed again because the story was a mess and the motivations of certain characters were so questionable.

I feel as though DC is currently wrapped up so much in trying to catch up to Marvel and in trying to capture the magic that Nolan captured in the “Dark Knight” trilogy to the point that the company can’t do their jobs properly and make a great movie. DC is fighting a losing battle with Marvel and they may try to roll out as many films as they want, such as “Wonder Woman,” “Aquaman,” and “Justice League,” but the faster they try pushing new content out in their connected world instead of slowly crafting a great standalone movie, the faster they are ruining their chances of being as successful as Marvel.

Fox is also attempting to tackle a connecting universe with the superheroes they obtained from Marvel. However, every time I sit back to watch a Fox movie I can’t help but think how the movie can be so much better in Marvel’s hands. Other than “Deadpool,” which, in my opinion, is the studios’ saving grace in terms of their comic book films, Fox has missed the mark on their recent superhero films.

First off, “Fantastic Four” was poorly executed. From seeing the countless trailers, I could not wait to see the movie. I wanted to see these comic book characters finally adapted well for the big screen, and the trailer presented a grittier retelling. The first 30 minutes or so seemed to accomplish this, setting up the movie really well and setting a serious and dark tone. However, after that, the movie was a mess. When the team went into the alternate dimension, the visuals seemed subpar; after this point in the film, I had more questions than answers were being given; for example, how did Sue get powers, like the others did, if she was not in the alternative dimension and why did Richard escape the government facility without trying to save any of the others, especially his so-called best friend, Ben?

There were many questionable moments in this movie that I gave up on waiting for any of my questions to be answered. I trudged along waiting for some action to happen; there wasn’t any action until the final battle sequence between the members of the Fantastic Four and Dr. Doom, and Dr. Doom was supposed to be a menacing villain, but was not by any means. The final battle scene was – to simply put it – a joke; it was horrible. The movie went from being dark and serious to being cheesy in a split second. The switch in the tone was so jarring that it took me out of the movie.

Ultimately, the movie was disappointing. I was excited to see a gritty retelling of this famous story. I was so excited to see the source material that never was really adapted on screen to be adapted well. I was so excited to see the dynamic between the characters and to see the characters find themselves – or come of age in a way – with their newly discovered powers.

After my long rant on how “Fantastic Four” irked me, it is clear to see that Fantastic Four did not live up to its potential; and, in my opinion, Fox has not done well with their most recent “X-Men” films justice either. I think some of the “X-Men” movies were great, others were okay, and others were just – let’s not mention them. Honestly, the last two “X-Men” movies were the only ones I was old enough to really watch and appreciate, but I didn’t appreciate either of them.

In “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” I do think Bryan Singer did a great job of correcting the “X-Men” universe in ways that fixed what some of the previous incarnations ruined. But to sum up the shortfalls of the movie, I think some of the choices of characters made were questionable and flat-out annoying. Maybe I didn’t really love the movie as much as a lot of critics did because I was never really invested in this universe to really appreciate the characters, but the some of the character’s decisions in the movie really annoyed me. I think that movie had potential to explore more than it actually did; and in no way did I think this movie should have gotten all the acclaim it was receiving when it came out.

The film “X-Men: Apocalypse” was also underwhelming for me. The movie had some striking scenes, like the scene in which Magneto lost his family in the woods, which was heartbreaking and allowed the audience to evoke sympathy for Magneto and understand his motivations; However, the bad parts of the movie stuck out: characters, like Jubliee and Psylocke, being underutilized, Apocalypse’s plan to take over the world being nonsensical, and the final battle scene being drawn out and slightly confusing. Other than that, the movie was again underwhelming and rather forgettable.

Again, I think Fox’s only saving grace was “Deadpool;” this movie would probably be my second best superhero movie of the year behind “Civil War.” This movie was amazing and a great adaptation of the comic book character. I think the only place where the movie fell short was the portrayal of the villain, who seemed to not have any real motivation and was evil just for the sake of being evil. Other than that, the movie was well-executed. However, who knows if “Deadpool” as a franchise can save Fox, especially now that “Deadpool” reportedly lost Tim Miller as a director due to creative differences.

Nevertheless, I don’t hate DC or Fox. In fact, I am rooting for these two companies to produce amazing movies time after time like Marvel has been doing. But for now, these companies are not doing well in this aspect. Maybe they can hire great directors who actually know how to tell a cohesive story and how to bring these comic book characters to life; maybe they can take their time in pre-production to craft a deep and intriguing story; I really don’t know what the solution is, but either way, they need to start churning out great product because producing disappointing movies one after the other is something that can eventually push the public from superhero movies; not just their superhero movies but all superhero movies, including Marvel’s. The general movie-going public doesn’t know which company produces which superhero movie; they already put superhero movies in a box, and if some superhero movies turn the general movie-going public off, they are going to push the hypothetical box aside and they won’t go to any superhero moives. So, I am hoping that these companies produce great superhero movies beginning right now to save this superhero movie genre.

Happy Holidays from Around the World!

Christmas is typically one of the most celebrated holidays within the United States, and one of the most popular holidays around the world, according to History.com. It is celebrated on the 25th of December each year, and it commemorates the birth of Jesus. Early Christians were not as festive, but did celebrate Epiphany on Jan. 6 annually. As time progressed, the importance of Christmas became more evident, and the celebrations became more festive.

Although this is a holiday which is celebrated worldwide, many countries and regions celebrate it differently from others. Information obtained from Santa’s Net shows that, Australia experiences Christmas during the summer time, and as such, many of their activities can take place outside, in a warm environment. The most popular event includes singing and lighting candles in what is known as Carols Candlelight. There is also a very festive feast, which includes meats such as ham, turkey, and pork.

Similarly, countries such as Abu Dhabi also have a warm Christmas. However, this does not hinder a well-celebrated holiday season. On its website, TimeOut Abu Dhabi noted that Al Maryah island was a lovely place to get the holiday spirit.

This may be contrasted to countries, such as Canada, which normally has brutally cold Christmases. Many people actually look forward to having a ‘white’ Christmas in the country, with lots of snow, lights, and festivities. Canada’s frosty Christmases has even played well into their tourism sector. On its website, Fairmont Chateau Lake welcomes people to “experience the magical white Christmas” even offering a Christmas tree in each room.

In China, a small percent of the population is known to celebrate the Holy Birth Festival. Howstuffworks.com stated:

“The small number of Christians in China call Christmas Sheng Dan Jieh, which means Holy Birth Festival. They decorate their homes with evergreens, posters, and bright paper chains. Families put up a Christmas tree, called a ‘tree of light,’ and decorate it with beautiful lanterns, flowers, and red paper chains that symbolize happiness. They cut out red pagodas to paste on the windows, and they light their houses with paper lanterns, too.”

Christmas traditions in Spain stem from a more religious background, as the season which begins on the 8th of December of each year, and commences with a weeklong observance of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Churches are also decorating using Evergreen. Children also take part in caroling, as they go from the door to door, reading Bible verses.

Here on campus, there are many different international students who celebrate Christmas differently with their family, when they go home for the holidays.

Henry Adu, a graduate student pursuing his MBA in business administration noted that in his home country, Belgium, it is common to give loved one presents on the 24th of December, instead of the 25th. He also stated that the holiday is one of much festivity, and is not very religious.

“Majority of the people do not go to church, it is very common to sit and eat with family and friends, and then go to different celebratory parties. Attending New Year’s parties is also very common, and we take much pride in calling loved ones both near and far to wish them all the best for the New Year. On New Year’s Day, we also have lunch and dinner with other family and friends,” said Adu.

Christmas celebrations in the Caribbean islands were seemingly similar, as students from Barbados, Bahamas, Jamaica, and Haiti all shared their Christmas holiday traditions.

Destiny Bailey, a sophomore and biology major from Barbados stated that Christmas was one of the most festive holidays in her country.

“It is a time when all my family usually comes together for gift exchange, good food, and laughter. Christmas dinner is one of the biggest things we look forward to. Boxing Day, which is the day after Christmas is usually when I go out with my friends, or attend parties with my family members.”

Laurian Simpson, a freshman majoring in biology, noted that her favorite part of Christmas was attending what was known as Grand Market on Christmas Eve in Jamaica.

“All the stores in Jamaica are open until really early on Christmas morning. This gives everyone the opportunity to do last minute Christmas shopping, and many people buy gifts for their loved ones at this time. The atmosphere is very festive as there is a lot of music, dancing, drinking and eating. The Christmas lights from the different stores also add a very cheery mood to the night,” said Simpson.

Romario Williams, a freshman and computer science major from Jamaica had contrasting views.

“Grand Market is always so filled with people, so I don’t like going out on that night to shop. My favorite part about Christmas in Jamaica is Christmas dinner. Usually, all my family meets at one location, and everybody cooks one dish, and this is shared among us. In Jamaica, sorrel, a drink made from a particular plant is prepared for Christmas, and I absolutely love it!”

Despite the cultural diversity on campus, it was evident that most students were looking forward to the holiday period to be with loved ones. Here on campus, the Christmas spirit has been in full effect with the Christmas lights and decorations in each department. The central location of the nativity scene also serves as a good reminder to everyone about what the holiday season is truly about.

Healthcare Around the World

Healthcare is the top issue Americans want Donald Trump to address during his first 100 days in the White House, according to a recent poll conducted by Reuters/Ipsos, reflecting apparent dissatisfaction over rising costs for prescription drugs and medical insurance.

The current healthcare system “Obamacare” was passed in 2010, intended to increase health insurance quality and affordability, lower the uninsured rate by expanding coverage, and decrease the cost of healthcare.

On his website, Trump’s presidential plans for the American healthcare system were clearly outlined, to “repeal and replace” Obamacare.

“We will work with Congress to make sure we have a series of reforms ready for implementation that follow free market principles and that will restore economic freedom and certainty to everyone in this country. By following free market principles and working together to create sound public policy that will broaden healthcare access, make healthcare more affordable and improve the quality of the care available to all Americans,” states Trump’s website.

However, since he was elected, Mr. Trump has since appeared to compromise on this pledge, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, telling the paper he was reconsidering his stance following a meeting with Obama, who urged him to protect parts of the law. Specifically, Mr. Trump said that he would like to keep the provision forbidding discrimination based on pre-existing conditions and allow young Americans to remain on their parents’ healthcare plans until the age of 26.

The percentage of Americans that do not have health insurance now sits at 8.6 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Also, the percentage of uninsured people between 19-65 years old was 20 percent in Sept. 2012, which decreased to

13 percent in March-May 2015 thanks to Obamacare. Although this is an improvement, there is still clearly more to be done.

According to statistics published by The Kaiser Foundation, there are several reasons why there are still so many people uninsured in the U.S., the primary reason being the cost. Financial assistance is available yet not everyone is eligible for subsidized coverage. Additionally, not all workers have access to coverage through their employment. There are many students who remain uninsured as they cannot afford expensive college healthcare plans.

There are many differences between healthcare in the U.S. and the rest of the world, according to International Living. In most of the rest of the world, healthcare prices are decided by the government. The rate of suing is much lower as suing someone can take years, and judges have no incentive to award money, as International Living reported. So malpractice insurance is low, as are doctors’ and health workers’ fees and hospital and clinic charges- and it is the public that reaps these rewards. As the cost of living, housing and taxes are much lower in different countries around the world, the healthcare costs remain relative to this.

In contrast, costs for medical care are still high in the U.S. A recent survey on MSN reported that a single day in hospital costs, on average $1,514, whilst in France it costs $853. Similarly, a routine visit to the doctor costs an average of $95, whereas in France it is $30.

The healthcare system is different in the United Kingdom, where citizens have access to the National Health Service (NHS). This is a largely free healthcare system for those who are ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom. However, treatment in emergency departments and for certain contagious diseases is also free to visitors and illegal immigrants. The cost of prescription medications is cheap, and in some places in the UK, such as Northern Ireland, prescriptions are free. Although this sounds like an ideal system, individuals are subject to long

waiting times and the system has been under immense pressure due to a lack of government funding.

Michael Adamson, a senior at Saint Leo majoring in Healthcare Management, believes that there are benefits to the American healthcare system.

“I think the American Healthcare system is good but can definitely be improved. Too many people still do not have good enough access to adequate healthcare. Insurance rates are unaffordable and students rely either on their parents or on their job for health insurance,” said Adamson.

From a student viewpoint, he also believes that healthcare reform can bring a lot of benefits.

“Changing the system I believe can reduce the number of uninsured adults. Making healthcare and insurance more affordable would allow for more people to have coverage and not worry about getting sick or paying for hospital bills out of pocket. It would also make it easier for younger adults to be able to access healthcare,” added Adamson.

The U.S. has a long way to go until they have a system where everyone is insured. There is much debate about what the ideal healthcare system looks like; however, it will be very interesting to see what happens in the United States following the election of Mr. Trump.

Is climate change a real inevitability or is it a hoax?

climate-change-picture
Many sources, including The Guardian, reports that even the Indian Ocean is storing up heat due to global warming. Source:@iMariaJohnsen

Climate change is defined as the change in global climate patterns in the last hundred years that is often blamed on the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide that come from the consumption of fossil fuels. Frequently, the climate change is referred to as “global warming.”

Politicians across the world have been confronted with the topic and made it a big part in elections across the world, especially green parties, that campaign for decreasing pollution.

“What makes climate change difficult is that it is not an instantaneous catastrophic event, it’s a slow moving issue that, on a day-to-day basis, people don’t experience and don’t see,” said President Obama in an interview with the New York Times. The White House’s website even has an action plan that describes how the United States will address the threat of climate change. The plan draws out a map to reduce carbon emissions, make renewable energy affordable, and create thousands of jobs around sustainable energy sources. Also, on Dec. 12, 2015, President Obama and other world leaders secured a global agreement to combat climate change, as mentioned on the White House’s website.

This plan and global agreement is a big step forward for the United States, who have been far behind in terms of supporting clean energy and lowering carbon emissions. Some politicians deny that climate change is happening, whereas others agree that there is an issue. In fact, under his presidency, Obama attempted to work through a divided parliament and start taking action, as evident on the White House’s website.

However, the signs and shifts of climate throughout the last decades were not always interpreted the same way. Only around forty years ago people were scared of the next ice age, and within this historically short period of time there was a massive shift towards global warming. This trend is often caused by the media that wants to make headlines out of the smallest changes in climate.

Time magazine has been one of the forerunners in terms of influencing the people’s opinions about this sensitive topic. In the 1970’s, the magazine frequently publicized that the new ice age is coming with headlines like “The Big Freeze” in 1973, “How To Survive The Coming Ice Age” in 1977, and “The Cooling Of America” in 1979, which raised concerns among the population.

One argument that many people have to support the theory of global warming is the melting of the North Pole. This statement is proven to be true according to National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the ice melts at a record-high rate of almost nine percent per decade.

Also while the ice cap on the North Pole is melting, the ice cap on the South Pole is growing. Currently, NASA stated that the ice in the Antarctic is at a record high since scientists began a long-term satellite record to map sea ice extent in the late 1970’s. However, the ice in

the Antarctic is only growing at a rate of one-third of the level the sea ice in the Arctic is decreasing.

These changes in climate can be explained by the shift of poles. The planet earth has a geographic North and South Pole and a magnetic pole that marks the axis of rotation of the earth. Through its iron core, the earth basically functions similar to a large magnet.

“The magnetic poles don’t line up with the geographic ones, and the difference between them is an angle called declination. As if this wasn’t enough of a nuisance for navigators, the Earth’s magnetic field drifts, causing the angle of declination to change over time,” said Wynne Parry in an article on the Live Science website.

This declination does not only cause a shift in the climate between the northern hemisphere and the southern hemisphere, but it also affects the aviation control. In about five years, the magnetic pole drifts off by one degree from the geographic pole. In long distance aviation, the difference of one degree can mean arriving in the wrong city. It also affects the landing on the runway because the runway is marked through points on the compass.

“Recently, the drift has caused our runways’ orientations to be closer to the next increment on the magnetic compass,” Tampa International Airport spokeswoman Brenda Geoghagan told Live Science.

Also, the so-called “hype” about global warming has caused many movements geared towards protecting and conserving the planet earth. Governments around the world and people became aware of the fatal causes that occur through the burning of fossil fuels and the pollution of nature. Organizations that fight to protect the environment, such as Greenpeace or National Geographic, have fund tremendous support by people that are directly affected by the outcomes of pollution. Also, famous celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, or Brad Pitt help promote the issues about pollution and climate change.

“Making ‘The Revenant’ was about man’s relationship to the natural world, the world that we collectively felt in 2015 as the hottest year in reported history — our production needed to move to the southern tip of this planet just to be able to find snow. Climate change is real. It is happening right now. It’s the most urgent threat facing our entire species and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating,” said DiCaprio after winning his first Oscar earlier this year.

Unfortunately, many developing countries like India, China or Brazil are only making small progress because the overall goal is economic growth. This situation caused many develop countries to slow down their progress towards clean energy because they were afraid to have a competitive disadvantage in the global competition.

“We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters, but who speak for all of humanity, for the indigenous people of the world, for the billions and billions of underprivileged people out there who would be most affected by this. For our children’s children, and for those people out there whose voices have been drowned out by the

politics of greed. I thank you all for this amazing award tonight. Let us not take this planet for granted. I do not take tonight for granted,” DiCaprio continued.

Since almost two decades, scientists are working hand in hand with geologists and engineers to provide better solutions for a sustainable lifestyle, especially in industrialized and developing countries. According to Nature.com, the detailed research about the storage of CO2, has been helpful to develop new farming methods that are more efficient and better for the soil and emissions. There are also many new ways to generate clean energy through wind, sun, or water energy or the use of natural gas. With these technologies, mankind will be able to live fully off sustainable energy.

These movements are the solution for this issue that the world is facing that everyone is or will be affected from one day. Protecting the environment is a global challenge, and collectively the countries of this planet can solve this issue.

20 Years of Pokémon

Over the past two decades, one of the most successful gaming franchises involves traveling all over various regions and collecting countless creatures to battle and bond with: Pokémon. Launched 20 years ago this year, the games follow the same basic premise. The character is given a choice of one of three starter Pokémon and goes along the region catching more Pokemon to battle other trainers with. Along the way, there are certain gyms to conquer and badges are given upon victory. After collecting eight badges, they take on the ultimate trainers and attempt to become the champion of the entire region.

In honor of the franchise’s 20th year, fans were treated with a special release of the original Red, Blue, and Yellow versions on the 3DS on the exact day that Red and Green were released. In addition, a whole new generation was announced and Sun and Moon versions were named to be the next games, due out in the middle of November. Also this year was the release of the highly anticipated mobile game, Pokémon Go, allowing trainers to catch their own Pokémon in real life.

The game had humble beginnings. Game creator Satoshi Tajiri had a childhood hobby of catching tadpoles and insects outside his home and wanted to share the joy he had in it. Together with Ken Sugimori, Tajiri formed game developer studio Game Freak. When Tajiri discovered the Game Boy system, he and his team started trying to pitch their idea.

It was not easy at first and failed several times. It was not until new friend Shigeru Miyamoto gave the pitch that gaming giant Nintendo decided to roll the dice and fund the project. After six years of development and near bankruptcy for Game Freak, the first Pocket Monsters game, as the series was first called in Japan, was ready to be released.

On February 27, 1996, the first two games, Red and Green versions, were released to the Japanese market. The games had a modest sale at first, but upon the revelation of a special event Pokemon, Mew, the sales spiked. As a result of this, Pokemon Blue, was released, a reskin of the originals with improved graphics and sounds. The games spawned trading cards, manga volumes, and an anime series.

The success of the anime also prompted creators to develop a special edition of the game titled Pokemon Yellow, following the story of the main character of the show, Ash and his trusty Pikachu. Pokemon was becoming a phenomenon and was ready for a new market. In September 1998, Red and Blue versions were launched in North America under the now iconic catchphrase “Gotta Catch ‘em All!” The anime had also helped boost the franchise up and soon made its silver screen debut with “Pokémon The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back” in July 1998 in Japan and November 1999 in America.

While the first generation was successful enough, fans were clamoring for more and were treated in November 1999 with the sequels Gold and Silver versions. This solidified the trend of games coming out in pairs. These games introduced several staples for the games to come: a time

cycle, shiny Pokemon, and the ability for Pokemon to be different genders. Like with Yellow, there was a third game, Crystal, which combined elements of the original two.

With the new system, the Game Boy Advance, came the next generation of games with Ruby and Sapphire in 2002 with its companion Emerald in 2004. These games were a total overhaul from the previous installments with better graphics and sound than ever before. Fans were also treated to a special remake of the originals with FireRed and LeafGreen that same year.

As with the previous generation, a new gaming system, the Nintendo DS brought new games, Diamond and Pearl, in 2006 and Platinum in 2008. These installments started introducing the 3D aspect into the games. The next year another set of remakes were released with HeartGold and SoulSilver.

The year 2010 brought large changes to the franchise. There was the release of Black and White in September of that year and for the first time since Red and Green, no old Pokemon would be available to players in the main story of the game. In addition, going against the tradition of basing regions around areas of Japan, these games would be similar to America, specifically New York and the surrounding areas. The sprite of the Pokemon would also be static, meaning it was animated on the screen. Another big change was the companion game.

Unlike its predecessors, the fifth generation did not have one in specific but rather a pair of sequels for each game. Black 2 and White 2 would be released in June of 2012 and would continue the story of the first two games, reminiscent of what the second generation did.

The most recent generation debuted back in 2013 along with the debut of X and Y versions with the Nintendo 3DS system. These were the first games to share a worldwide release as Japan had usually received the games a week before any other nation. Instead of any sort of sequel or companion, there was no follow up to these games and fans were given a remake of generation three with Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire in 2014, another worldwide release.

The franchise has seen global success and as of 2015 has garnered almost $58 billion in sales from all their mediums and is a mainstay in popular culture and unit sales reaching the tens of millions. There is no denying the impact the franchise has had on the gaming community and the world overall. With these new games the future still looks bright and there seems to be no end in sight.

kiMore of the Same

“Yo-Kai Watch” is a media franchise that has spawned multiple videogames, an animated show, and multiple manga (Japanese graphic novels). The most recent game in the series, “Yo-Kai Watch 2,” showed some promise as an intriguing alternative to games like “Pokemon.” The game still focused on the collection of various monsters, and the use of them in combat, but the methods through which the player did these things were going to be much different.

Unfortunately, the game has not lived up to its promise. What the developers delivered was nothing more than a rehash of the original game, in a pretty unashamed fashion. This rehashing is only made worse by the fact that there in an entire section in the beginning of the game devoted to showing the player how the events that are occurring are nearly identical to those in the original game.

The gameplay itself is fun enough, but lacks much depth. Players can collect various Yo-Kai (demons, or monsters) throughout the world that they play in. These Yo-Kai can then be used to fight others. The combat itself is not turn-based like it is in “Pokemon,” but is instead focused on automated battles in which the player can choose to involve themselves to add more effects to their Yo-Kai. While this is intended to separate the games from similar ones, all it ends up doing is making the gameplay quite repetitive. After about the 10th Yo-Kai battle, it is made clear that the whole game will be more or less the same grind and it loses much appeal.

The game’s visuals are fine, but don’t take advantage of the 3DS’ full abilities. It could have easily been made 5 years ago, when the original one was, and nobody would’ve batted an eye. The designs of the Yo-Kai are fun, but seem somewhat uninspired when compared to similar games’ monsters.

The only redeeming feature to be found in the game is that it features beautifully animated cutscenes, that look like they were taken straight out of the TV show. These are wonderful, and fully voice-acted, making them a joy to watch. The unfortunate reality, however, is that once these are finished the player is forced back into the drudgery of the game.

“Yo-Kai Watch 2” released with two different versions, “Bony Spirits” and “Fleshy Souls”, but the differences between them are completely negligible. Both games feature the same problems, and the same dull gameplay. I would absolutely not recommend either game, especially with the release of the new Pokemon games around the corner, and would give this game a rating of 2/5.