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Saturday, January 16, 2016

Star Wars Battlefront Xbox One Review

Who here has played the new Star Wars Battlefront game yet?  For my birthday, I got a $50 gift certificate for game stop and decided to save it for when the new Star Wars battlefront game came out back in December, and used it to help buy the game.  By the way, I still remember when the original 2 Star Wars Battlefront games came out for the regular Xbox (some were playable on the 360 too via the Backwards compatibility feature) and definitely liked playing through the 2 games.

 Above is a random gameplay video from the new Star Wars battlefront game.

Dice's version of Star Wars battlefront definitely gets a huge makeover definitely has a "Call of Duty" or Battlefield style feel.  The game is primarily set in the original trillogy, though the game also has Sullust (seems to be from the expanded universe) as well as Jakku from Star Wars Force Awakens.  The game reminds me alot of Battlefield 1943 on the Xbox 360 in many ways, which was somewhat like an online only Call of Duty game where players can play as either as the Americans or Japanese (usually chosen randomly between battles), reliving various battles in the Pacific during World War with one side usually coming out on top at the end of each mission.  Star Wars Battlefront has a similar feel where you play either as the Rebel Alliance of Galactic empire, except that the game is much bigger.  While the game does have plenty of things for single players to do, such as training missions, battle matches (where gamers play for points) as well as an extensive survival mode where the player's character is stranded on a planet (like Hoth or Tatooine) and must survive many waves of imperial forces before being able to leave the plent, the game is definitely best played on the online multiplayer mode (aka Xbox Live).  In online multiplayer mode the game gets much more interesting and fun to do with many different modes to play in.  Some of the most popular modes to play in my opinion includes:

-Fighter squadron (where you pilot an Xwing, Awing, tie fighter or tie interceptor) and go up against other pilots (though some enemy ships are controlled by AI forces too).  Sometimes you can fly a millenium falcon or Boba Fett's Slave I ship, but you have to get a special power up to play as them.
- Walker Assault Mission.  These maps are often huge with players playing either as the rebel forces or imperials  The imperials launch an invasion against rebel forces, while it is up to the rebels to try and destroy the AT-AT Walkers.  Game ends when either the rebels destroy 2 AT-AT walkers or when the rebels are no longer able to call up the y wing squadron.
- Domination: the goal of the mission is for one side to control all of the major points on the map on a planet.
- Heroes vs Battle (perhaps my favorite).  In this mode, legendary heroe(Han Solo, Leia, Luke Skywalker) go up against Star Wars Villians (currently Boba Fett, Darth Vader, and Emperor Palpatine).  Each hero or villan has their own unique abilities and powers.  For example, Luke can whack people with his light saber and even has the force push availability, Darth Vader can use force choke on his enemies in additon to his usual lightsaber availabilities, and Palpatine can use his signature force lightning against opponents too).  Only 6 players can control a hero or villian at a time (3 per side) so whenever there are extra players, they play as either rebel soldiers or storm troopers tasked with providing protection for their heroes and villian coutner parts.  The game randomly chooses who play as a hero/villian or who plays as a rebel soldier / storm trooper and usually changes each round (one round you might play as say, Han Solo, another round you might control Princess Leia, and occsionally you might control a rebel soldier or storm trooper instead).  Also, if you die as a hero or villian, you automatically assume the role as a rebel or storm trooper.  I would like to see more heroes and villans added to the mix (such as Chewbacca, Kylo Ren, Darth Maul, etc) I am sure if they are added, they will come as DLC.

Things I like about Star Wars Battlefront:
- Great multiplayer mode.  Almost like a Battlefield or Call of Duty game.
- Lots of variety.
- Stunning graphics.  You definitely feel like you are in the Star Wars universe.  Each planet and map have their unique feels and looks.  Tatooine feels like the desert planet it was in the movies (even has a Sarlacc creature lurking in the sands too, if you know where to look).  Hoth is incredible too and feels like you are reliving the battle of Hoth from Empire Strikes back
- It is often fun playing as heroes or villians.  Adds some variety to the game play
- The training missions are fun too and somewhat extensive.  In one mission, you pilot an X wing and go up against tie fighters.  In another mission, you control one of the speeders on Hoth and have to try and destroy At-At or At-St walkers.  Conversely there are plenty of fun imperial missions too, such as one mission where you control either Darth Vader or Palpatine and slaughter rebel troops on Hoth or pilot speeder bikes on Endor too (btw they are easy to crash in my opinion, making the mission extra challenging).
- This game will definitely be a hit for Star Wars fans in many ways especially when being able to relive various battles and events in the Star Wars Saga as well as challenging other players too.

Negative Aspects about Star Wars Battlefront.  Sure this game might not be for everyone
- Limited Single player mode.  Personally I find that the online mode offers alot more than single player mode.  Single player will likely get old and boring after a while. Sure there are plenty of training missions you can do, survival maps to play through as well as battles to relive, but single player only offers so much for the player.  You will definitely get more out of the game with the online multiplayer mode
-   Limited number of maps and planets to play through.  The Star Wars universe is much bigger than planets like Tatooine, Hoth, Sullust, Endor, and Jakku.  I hope Dice and EA add more maps over time, such as Coruscant (wouldn't it be fun to relive the battle of Coruscant that appears at the beginnign of Revente of the Sith), Genosis, and even Naboo along with various maps and planets from the Clone Wars.  Even Force Awakens has got to give Dice some more inspiration too (such as the battle on the Star Killer Base).
- I would also like it if they added more heroes and villians to the mix too.  They should also include Kylo Ren, Chewbacca and other heroes in the mix.

Overall Grade: A-

Interested in getting Star Wars battlefront?  You can either buy it at your local retailers ro order it online at Amazon.

Other platform differences:
I remember trying the demo version of Star Wars battlefront on the PS4 at one of the Walmart stores, but I found the controls are easier to master on the Xbox one version  Other than that, I don't know too much about the other versions.  If you have the PS4 or PC version, feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

My history as a Video Gamer part 1 - NES Era

I  got an email request recently asking about my history as a gamer and I think that now would be a good time for me to share my story.  Like most kids growing up in the 1980s and 90s, I have had lots of exposure to video games in many different forms.  My history is quite extensive too.  My history is too long to do in one post, so I will have to break it up into several posts.  In this post, I will explore the NES days

Above is a picture of Mountain View, California as it is today as of 2010.  It was in Mountain View where I was born.  Memories I have of those years are very faint at best (though I do have some pictures and videos of those years) considering that I ended up moving to Illinois when I was about 2 years old.  Though sometimes I do get that home style feeling when visiting northern and central California (especially the Sacramento area).  Interestingly, I haven't been to Mountainview in many years.  Probably would not mind going there again someday seeing how much it has changed since I moved, though my family rarely takes trips to that part of California so I don't see myself going there again any time soon.

My video game history in the 1980s (NES and Atarti Era)

I don't recall owning an Atari, but I did get my first game system when I was 7, the classic Nintendo. However, I do remember when I was about 4 years old, I used to visit my grandpa on my Mom's side (Joe Shackelford) in Rancho Cordova, California (he used to live there before moving to Washington State in 2004 and later passing away during the summer of 2005) and I remember getting to know one of his neighbor's kids and playing video games with him sometimes.  Back then, my dad was in the Navy (mostly stationed in Illinois, though he was stationed in Mountain View for a while, where I was born), and remember he got deployed to Japan for a few months and me and my mother flew out to California from Chicago (yes I used to live in the Chicago area long before moving to the Seattle area back in 1994) and staying with him for several months (it was a long time ago, so I don't remember all of the details).  Can't remember if he had an atari or sega master system, but he had at least one of the 2 game systems.  I also faintly remember Aunt Linda (one of my Aunts) used to have an Atari system at her apartment (she lives in the Sacramento area too and had a son too, though I can't remember his name since he moved out when I was still young) and play some games on that.  Around the time I turned 7, the classic NES was already becoming popular with fellow kids and friends in my neighborhood and remember playing nintendo games with some of them (such as Super Mario Bros and Contra).  Eventually, I got my own Nintendo and got games like Super Mario, Duck Hunt, and others.  That game system definitely brings back memories.  I still remember playing games like Mario Bros 1 and 3, Mega Mans 2-4, Contra, Duck Tales, Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers, Teenage Ninja Turtles 2 (The Arcade Game), and even Battletoads (took a long time for me to beat that game too).  I kind of got addicted to video games during those years too as I could spend long hours playging some of the games I had and often even visited friends and playing Nintendo at their houses too (most notably playing Mega Man 2 at this kid named Stephen's house).  Also was friends with Michael Blocker and he had games like Contra, Super Mario 2, and Mike Tyson's Puch out and used to play those games from time to time as well.  I remember some of the kids gave me a hard time for being hooked on video games too, and at least one kid spreaded false rumors about me plaing Mega Man 3 while he was gone at his house, though I faintly remember that day and have no memory of going there while he was gone (hey even if I did I probably didn't know better back then considering that I was probably only 8 or 9 years old at the time).

Most memorable games from the NES days:
- Mega Man 2, 3 and 4.  I remember used to have a friend named, Stephen Santiago (lost touch with him after moving to Washington State) and I remember how I used to often have sleep overs at his house ang play video games like Mega Man 2 and 3 with him sometimes.  By the way, I did get the Mega Man Anniversary collection for the Xbox, which was fun to play through (as it features all of the classic mega man games, except for Mega Man and Bass, Mega Man 9, and Mega Man 10).  I remember I used to spend long hours playing through that game (sometimes spending several hours in one sitting playing the games from beginning to end).
- Super Mario bros.  You know you are a typical 1980s kid when you have played through classic Super Mario bros at least once or twice.  I remember getting hooked on this game too and would often spend long hours playing through the 8 worlds. I remember visiting friends and doing 2 player super mario bros with them from time to time (one person plays as Mario while others play as Luigi).  By the way, this was far cry from say New Super Mario bros Wii or Wii U where 2 or more players can play simultaneously.  Back then, players usually switched off between their characters die (which can mean long or short waits for the other player depending on how good the other player is).
- Super Mario bros 3.  This was definitely one of the better sequels in the series (besides Super Mario World and others).  The game is huge compared to the first game and features huge maps of each world.  By the way, good luck playing the game from end to end without using the whistles since back  then, there was no save feature, so if you wanted to play from end to end, you would either have to use the hidden whistles to get from one world to the other or if you are the diehard type, you could spend long hours playing the game from end to end too (definitely could take an entire day to play from end to end in my opinon considering that each world is long with several boss fights in between each world and each getting progressively harder than the previous ones).
- Contra and Super Contra.  Definitely 2 classics in the contra series.  By the way, who remembers the Komnai code (up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, b, a, start)?  It is almost essential to know for players serious about beating the game considering that getting hit even once usually results in instant death for the players and you only get so many lives and continues before you have to start over from the beginning.
- Ninja Turtles 2 Arcade game.  I remember playing this game in the arcades before a version came out for the consoles too.  Forget the first ninja turtles game, Ninja Turtles 2 was definitely awesome.  Given the difficulty of the game, along with the fact that you only get 3 continues, most people probably won't make it to the final boss against shredder though there are some cheats players can exploit to get there.  Also, the game even has its classic villans for enemies and boss fights too, such as foot soldiers, mousers, krang, baxter, beabop and rocksteady, casey jones, and even shredder himself.  The game is also one of several arcade style ninja turtles games for consoles since developers would later develop Ninja Turtles 3, Ninja Turtles 4 Turtles in Time (for the Super Nintendo) and later Ninja Turtles Hyperstone Heist for the sega genesis.  I remember you can also either play the game on solo or team up with another player and work together to play through the game.  By the way, wouldn't it be awesome if a version of the games came out for Xbox One and utilized the 4 player system either locally or via Xbox Live?  That would be awesome.  They could even remake the games and give them arcade style graphics instead of the old 8 bit or 16 bit graphics too.
-  Mega Man 3.  This game was definitely a hit in the classic mega man series.  Set sometime after the events of Mega Man 2, Dr Wily is at it again and it is up to Mega Man to foil his plans once again (a theme that would happen again and again over time).  This game is also unique in several ways that in addition to fighting the usual 8 robot masters, you also have to fight a whole another set of robot masters from Mega Man 2 (in the form of the gamma robots that uses the abilities of their fallen comrades) in remixed versions of some of the levels you went through earlier.  It is also the first game in the series to introduce Protman too (back then he seems to be hostile to Mega Man, at least till the end).  It is also one of the few classic mega man games where the boss music changes between  the regular robot master bosses and later the wily castle bosses.  In many other games, the boss music either stays the same most of the time or doesn't change till the final boss.  It is also one of the last games in the series where capcom gets creative with Mega Man's final confrontation with Wily.  From Mega Man 4 onwards, the final boss (where Wily telports around the room) is more or less the same (barring capcoms creativity for Wily's first form).  I remember some kids used to bully me over this game and one kid spreaded false rumors about me going to his house while he was gone and playing mega man 3.  My memories from the incident are sketchy, but even if I did do that, I probably didn't know better back then (was probably about 8 years old at the time) and was probably set up too.
 - Battletoads  This game was definitely one of the most challenging games I have played on the NES, but definitely one of the more fun ones too.  You play as one or 2 super hero toads in their quest to save Pimple and their girlfriend Angelica from the evil Dark Queen in an adventure consisting of 12 huge levels full of enemies, obstacles to overcome and other challenges to get through along with the occasional boss fights along the way too.  By the way, if you thought level 3, the turbo tunnel was hard, that was just the beginning my friend as the game is 12 levels long with each level getting progressively tougher to play through than the previous ones, plus you do have several more similar levels such as surf city (where you are riding a surf board instead of a bike) and volkmire inferno (where you fly a plane through a fire filled level).  The final 3 levels get insanely hard too and you only get so many lives and 3 continues before it is game over.  I also like how the dark queen taunts the players on the way.  It took me many attempts to beat the game, but eventually I was able to get to the end and defeat the dark queen on the top of the tower of shadows, with help from game genie of course.  Good luck beating the game without game genie if you insist on not cheating.
- Castlevania Simons Quest as well as Castlevania 3.  I remember the earliest incarnations of the castlevania series.  Took along time to beat Simons Quest, but it was pretty fun to play through non the less and is one of the more different titles in the series.  Castlevania 3 was pretty fun to play through too considering that you can either play as Trevor, Alucard or their allies going up against Dracula and his cronies.  It is also the first Castlevania game to feature the "big battle" boss music too (which would eventually happen again in Circle of the Moon).  By the way, newer castlevania games (especially Symphony of the Night Style castlevania) games would give the series a huge boost.  So far my favorites are probably Dracula X, Symphony of the night, portrait of ruin, dawn of sorrows, order of ecclesia as well as Castlevania Harmony of Despair.
Other honorable mentions:
- Double Dragon
- Mike Tyson's punch out - I remember playing this game with Mario posing as the referee and you do several levels' worth of boxing matches with Mike Tyson himself being the end boss in the game.
- Duck tales and rescue rangers.  These were fun game based on their cartoon counter parts, both developed by capcom.  By the way, there seems to be a remake version of Ducktales for the xbox one.
- Adventure Island
- North and South - I remember me and my brother Brett would play this civil war themed game sometimes where one of us would play as the union soldiers and the other plays as the confederates.  Doing various battles and even doing these levels where you have to try and rob a train or steal an enemy flag.  Usually Brett would beat me, but it was still fun playing through sometimes.
- Superman.  This was a classic rpg game where you play as Superman in his quest to rid the world of its villans.  Never beat the game myself, but it was fun to play nonetheless.  Kind of hard to get to the end of the game if you don't know what you are doing.
- Bart vs Space Mutants - long before the simpsons game on the Xbox 360, there was Bart vs Space Mutants.  Only rented this game, but never actually beat the game (back then, you usually had to go to the local store like Blockbuster or even Ben Franklin if you wanted to rent games).  Not sure how people rent games now that Blockbuster and many other well know video stores have gone out of business.
- Super Mario 2 (this game was definitely an odd bunch in the series compared to the other super mario games)
- and many others

Other noteworthy memories:
Picture of my former house on Timber Lane when I was living in Lindenhurst in Illinois.  The area is more developed than it used to be and obviously has new owners (also I don't always remember the extra floor there), but that is where I used live back when I was in Illinois. By the way, back in the 1980's the house used to back up to a cornfield (with a farm in the distance) and the McDonalds Forest preserve was a short walk away, providing easy access for families who want to go on a hike there.  

- Back then, I was living in Lindenhurst, Illinois (situated about half way between Chicago and Milwalkee maybe about 5 miles south of the Wisconsin border).  Lots of fond memories there (even have home videos of those years).  I remember I used to take more trips to Wisconsin than I did going to various places in Illinois.  Of course, I was too young to drive back then, so I had to rely on my parents to take me places.  I also remember going on camping trips to places like Door County and Minoqua in Wisconsin.  Even went on a cabin trip to Ely Minnesota once (north of Duluth).  Interestingly, my family is  talking about going on a trip to Door County this fall.  Not clear if or when we will do such a trip, but it would mark my second time going to Wisconsin since moving to Washington (the first time occured back in the summer of 2000 when I visited my old friend, Matt Bleich and we went on a camping trip to Sturgeon Bay in Wisconsin).
- I remember having this toy red jeep that I would drive around along with Brett and Matt.
- I had some other friends like Megan Kasper, Michael Blocker (lost touch with him, though my mother is still friends with his mother, Debbie along with her older sister, Joni), Sara Koth (lost touch with her) and Stephen Santiago.  Sometimes I would go to friends houses and play nintendo with them too.
- I don't remember doing the Sega Master system back then, though I did eventually get the Sega Game gear, which does seem to have some the games from the sega master system.  Most if not all kids back then either had an atari or nintendo.    
- I definitely have lots of other fond memories from those years, such as going to several different elementary schools before getting mainstreamed at Millburn (before then, I also attended school at BJ Hooper in Lindenhurst, a school near Lake Villa and later a school in Antioch).  Was placed in an early childhood program too, so I was pretty much in some form of schooling from when I was about 3 years old through the end of my college years.
- Used to do block parties on 4th of july, Halloween parties at my old house, etc too.
- Remember going to Chuck e Cheeses for birthdays sometimes too (most notably when I turned 5 years old).  I also used to like this girl named Heidi too (though I ended up losing touch with her after moving to Washington State).
- It was also during my time in Illinois where I would break a bone on 3 different occasions.  First time I popped my shoulder after messing around on a one of those spider web poles you see in some playgrounds (did this thing that some kids would do where you would climb around the poles before sliding down, and that proved to be a mistake for me since I lost my grip and fell).  Ended up in a cast for a while then.  Also broke my pinkie finger once not too long after that (I think I tripped on something and broke it that way).  The third time it happened was when I was living on Mallard drive and fell backwards from a playground bridge.  Was taunting some kids (didn't know better) when I slipped and fell (definitely learned my lesson from that) and ended up in a cast for the whole summer.  Luckily I haven't broken any bones since then so far.
- Unlike present time where I live with 2 dogs (a golden retriever and a shih tzu), we did have a dog for a little while there, a springer spaniel named crocket (he looked like snoopy).  Unfortunately the dog had behavior problems and did not fit well in the family so we ended up giving him away.  It wouldn't be till 1997 till we got our second dog (Teddy the golden retriever).

Well that is all for this post.  Stay tuned for post number 2 (the 1990s').

Noteworthy moments in the 1990s': Sega Genesis Days, computer games (such as Xwing and Mech Warrior 2), Sega CD, Nintendo 64, Sega Dreamcast, and Playstation.  Even moved about 4 times during those years too.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

50 Ways To Die In Super Mario Bros X

Here is a funny video for super mario fans here.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Star Wars Universe's unlikeliest couples

Here is another Star Wars themed post (especially with the new movie coming out soon).  In this post, I will go over some of the galaxy's unlikeliest relationships.  Though I suppose even in real lift, the man/woman tht God intends for you to marry might not be someone you would expect.  Even my parents once lived on opposite ends of the US from each other long before they met and got married (my dad grew up on Long Island in New York and my mom was a California girl, living in the Sacramento area before meeting my dad).  Anyways, let's look at some of these relationships.  Note that this post contains spoilers (assumes you have watched the movies and read the books).

Relationship 1 - Anakin Skywalker (formerly a slave on the desert planet of Tatooine) and Padme Amidala (aka Queen Amidala in Episode 1)
Random picture of Anakin and Padme from Attack of the Clones(img source:

Random picture of Anakin Skywalker as a kid

Random picture Padme as Queen Amidala

Who would have thought that Anakin Skywalker, a slave on Tatooine who would later become a jedi knight and eventually Darth Vader, would marry a royal queen and later Senator from Naboo? Well, it did

Is there anyone here who haven't seen any of the star wars movies yet particularly the prequel trillogy (episodes 1-3)?  Despite the obvious flaws in episodes 1-3, in my opinion they do an amazing job in chronicalling the back story of Anakin Skywalker (who was destined become the evil Darth Vader).  Obviously, in along with the whole story about the jedi order along wth the infamamous clone wars as well as Palpatine's eventual rise to power as the emperor of the Galactic Empire (formerly the old republic).  In Return of the Jedi, when Luke reveals to Leia that they are actually brother and sister and that Darth Vader (aka Anakin) was their father, she does seem to reveal that she had some faint memories about her birth mother (though she must have had an amazing memory if she remembered Padme considering that she dies shortly after Luke and Leia are born) and their mother is none other Padme Amidala, herself.  When we first see Padme in episode 1 (Phantom Menace), she was recently elected as the queen of Naboo (apparently kings and queens are Naboo are elected officials much like presidents are here in Amerca and only serve several terms before they get replaced by a new king or queen) and her planet was facing invasion by the trade federation (who were under the influence of the villanous Darth Sidious).  A younger Obi Wan Kenobi as well as his master, Qui Gonn Gin are caught in the middle of the conflict (after the trade federation tries to kill the two when ordered by Sidious) and eventually manage to get Padme (who disguised herself as a handmaiden at the time) and a bunch of other people off of Naboo and head towards Coruscant.  However, they barely make it past the blockade (thanks to R2 helping them to get their shelds up) and are forced to make a pitstop on Tatooine on the way to get new parts of their hyper drive system.  Natually, Padme tags along with Qui Gon and Jar Jar binks as they venture into Mos Espa to try and buy parts for their ship from junk dealers like Watto.  Coincidentally, a young Anakin Skywalker happened to be working for Watto that day and had his chance encounter Padme, a meeting that would definitely help set up their relationship story that takes place in Episodes 2 and 3.  By the way, considering that most of us work, have you ever met a famous person where you work?  I remember meeting former Seattle Mariners Baseball player, Jamie Moyer once at the QFC in the University Village.  Was doing a demo for New Concepts in Marketing (long before getting hired onto Advantage) where I was tasked with working with him during a calendar signing event, which was pretty interesting to do, especially considering that I didn't have any real experience working as a body guard or security person.  Haven't had any demos like that since then.  I liked how Anakin said to Padme, "are you an angel.." and she giggled about it.  You can definitely tell in Phantom Menace that Anakin quickly develops an attraction towards Padme (even though he was probably only about 8 years old at the time) and that attraction would definitely grow significantly during the course of the prequel trillogy.  By the way, can't you imagine what it might have been like if Padme and Qui Gon did not stop on Tatooine or if Anakin wasn't in the shop that fateful day (or by chance if Anakin lost the pod race that Qui Gon betted Anakin's freedom on), probably would have messed up the whole prequel storyline unless if Anakin's path with Padme crossed another way.  Interestingly after Anakin gets off of Tatooine and goes to Coruscant with Qui Gonn and Padme, she does seem to develop some motherly love for Anakin too (definitely showing that the 2 had some degree of chemistry for each other). Eventually after defeating the Trade Federation's invasion on Naboo, the two would part ways for over 10 years, at least till the events of Attack of the Clones (episode 2).    

In Episode 2, things get alot more interesting between Padme and Anakin.  By episode 2, Padme is no longer queen (apparently the monarchy system on Naboo is more like the presidential system here in America where a king or queen has to be elected and can only serve up to 2 terms before being replaced by another king or queen), but a senator instead, and Anakin is training to be come a jedi with Obi Wan as his jedi master, and after she returns to Coruscant to oppose a bill to create a clone army, she survives an assasination attempt by Jango Fett and his crony,Sam (we learn later on in the movie Viceroy Gunray had a grudge against Padme after his defeat on Naboo and hired hitmen like Jango Fett to kill her along with the help from sith lord, Count Dooku).  At Chancelor Palpatine's suggestion, Padme and Anakin's paths would cross once again (probably the first time in over 10 years).  Obvously by the time Episode 2 comes around, Anakin was quite infatuated with Padme and those feelings only grow dynamically during the course of the movie and culminates with them getting married on Naboo.   By the way, considering that many of us have had crushed on someone at some point in our lives, have you ever crossed paths with your former crush or old flame (whatever you want to call him/her), especially if you were both still single?  I remember at one time, I used to have this crush on this cute blond girl, named, Kim Carlberg during my middle school and high school years.  Although I did get to know here somewhat, long story short, I was the typical shy guy type and I did let my shyness get the best of me (you know how we guys can be when  there is a girl we like in our lives) and missed my chance to get to know her better and possibly get into a relationship with her.  I know know I probably should have at least tried to "break the ice with her" and at least try to get to know her better, but it is what it is now.  We used to live in the same neighborhood (in the South Everett area), attended various classes together (both at Gateway and Jackson) and even did some sports together (such track and field).  However, life happens, as I ended up moving to Snohomish (where I live now), and after high school graduation, we parted ways.  I understand that she went off to the University of Washington in Seattle and I ended up going to Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma (at least during my first year and a half of college), though about a year and half later, I would transfer to Northwest University in Kirkland and spend the remainder of my college years there.  Interestingly she also ended up moving away too (probably to the Tacoma area, at least at the time I last saw her, though that was back in 2002 and I have no idea if she still lives there or not, considering that I lost touch with her since then).  To date, I only encountered her once after high school (bumped into her at a Starbucks in Mill Creek while running errands with my mother back in the spring of 2002), but like Anakin and Padme, we parted ways and I haven't seen or heard from her since then.  I have no idea if our paths will ever cross again considering that she has been out of the picture for a long time now, but I am not sure how I would react should she resurface in my life, especially if she was still single by chance (which seems unlikely at this point).  Would I be shy?  How would I react?  Who knows?  I suppose I will "cross that bridge" if and when I get there (like some of the contestants would say on Celebrity Apprentice).  By the way do any of you have similar stories (where you encountered a former crush much like Anakin and Padme do)?  I would love to hear your stories in the comments below.

Moving on, after a second assasination attempt on Padme's life by Jango Fett's associate, Zam, the Jedi Council would have Anakin become her bodyguard and have her watch over her on Naboo (isn't that convenient situations for him to "catch up" with her).  Soon, a romance sub plot emerges (much like that between Han and Leia in Empire Strikes back), and eventually the 2 would fall in love with each other despite her serving as senator and his vows to the Jedi (which does seem to forbid romantic relationships, a rule that Anakin seems to ignore after falling in love with Padme). Reminds me of a line from Pyro in Xmen 2, where he tells Rogue, "do you always do what you are told" when at one point in themovie.  Like Leia after her, Padme resists Anakin's advances at first probably due to their obvious differences, but understandably she develops feelings for him too and even flirts with him while on Naboo too (with her feelings for him becoming more pronounced by the time they survive an execution attempt on their lives on Geonosis at the hands of the separatists).  She could have rejected him if she wanted too (and I am sure she thought about it too), but her falling for Anakin is understandable considering that the original trillogy assumes everything in the prequel trillogy happened as they did.  After all, can't you imagine how the story might have been different if they broke up on Naboo instead of falling in love with each other?  That definitely probably would have messed up the rest of the storyline and it is possible that Luke and Leia might never had been born if that were the case.  By the end of the movie, Anakin and Padme secretly get married on Naboo, further establishing their bonds and would also have implications for episode 3 (and help lead to Anakin's downfall too, at least in a way).

By episode 3, Padme becomes pregnant with 2 babies (Luke and Leia) and Anakin does seem to like the idea at first, despite the fact that it might cost him a position on the Jedi council if discovered as the father.  Sadly, a happy ending for the 2 was not to be since Anakin would eventually turn to the dark side of the force much at the goading of the soon to be, Emperor Palpatine (aka Darth Sidious), who had already had his sights set on him after the death of Count Dooku when looking for a new apprentice, and become the evil Darth Vader (even murdering jedi padwans in the jedi temple at the commands of Darth Sidious (around the time he did his infamous "order 66" stuff causing the clone troopers to turn on their former Jedi comrades).  The irony of his transformation is that he had nightmares of Padme dying in childbirth (much like the dreams that Anakin had of Shmi before she died at the hands of the tusken raiders) and he thought that he could save her by turning to the dark side, but boy was he wrong since Padme would end up dying anyways in childbirth (in part at the hands of Vader when he used force choke on her when she confronted him on Mustafar with Obi Wan stowing on her ship too) thus fulfilling his dream she would die in childbirth (perhaps the dream was supposed to be taken as a warning not to turn to the dark side, but he probably did not think about that at the time).  I like the line that Darth Sidious towards the end of the movie where he says to Vader regarding Padme's fate, "it seems in your anger, you killed her" and Vader shouts out a huge "noooo!".  Despite the sour ending to their relationship, there relationship was definitely one of a kind and definitely one of the more coveted types of relationships in the star wars universe.  Who would have thought that a royal queen from Naboo would marry a slave boy on Tatooine?  But it happened.

What makes Padme and Anakin an unlikely couple?
Talk about winding up with someone "outside of your league".  Before Padme and Anakin met, not only did they literally live worlds apart (Padme on Naboo and Anakin living out in the deserts of Tatooine), but their lifestyles were radially different.  Before they met, Padme was queen on Naboo and Anakin was a slave working for Watto in Mos Espa on Tatooine (possibly a farm boy too).  I bet when Natalie Portman's character was a little girl, if someone told her that she will one day marry a slave on Tatooine that would later become a jedi and eventually Darth Vader, she probably would laughed it off in disbelief, but that is exactly what happened.  Can't you imagine the odds of such a relationship?  In addition, Anakin and Padme's age differences were different too (probably at least 8 years apart), though I suppose sometimes that does happen in real life too (even my parents are 6 years apart from each other).   In Episode 2, Anakin becomes a jedi padwan under Obi Wan and Padme becoems a senator and interestingly, the jedi code forbids romance relationships, which inevitably happens betwen Anakin and Padme, which puts him at odds with the Jedi counsil, especially after they secretly marry on Naboo and moreso after it is revealed that Padme is pregnant with Luke and Leia in episode 3.  Interestingly, Anakin seemed to have had a hard time keeping the marriage a secret, such as during the Clone Wars series when he gets jealous when another man develops feelings for Padme (forgot who he was) and when he gets the dream warning that Padme would die in childbirth, he goes great lengths, even turns to the dark side to try and prevent her death.  Eventually Obi Wan finds out about their relationship when he learns that she is pregnant with Luke and Leia which puts their relationship in a more awkard relationship.  Sadly their relationship disintegrates after she learns about Anakin's transformation to Darth Vader and she ends up dying from a broken heart after giving birth to Luke and Leia.  I liked the quote that Palpatine said "it seems, in your anger, you killed her".

Anyways, in real life, I am sure relationships like Padme and Anakin are very rare.  Padme marrying Anakin would be comparable to say Princess Kate from England marrying say a random farm boy from say Arizona or Nevada.  Interestingly, Owen Lars (Anakin's step brother) entered into a relationship within his league with Beru.  I don't know too much about Owen or Beru's history besides what is shown in the movies, but if I had to guess, I am sure they would have grown up together as farmers and a relationship formed between them more naturally.  Even I don't see myself marrying say a hollywood celebrity (rarely visit the Los Angeles area anyways) or a political figure.  More likely if I did get married, I would probably wind up with someone form here in Washington State, whoever that is.  Though, I suppose you never really know who you might encounter in your everyday life.  I remember when going to college, I met lots of fellow students who were from other states (like Oregon, California, Idaho, etc) and sometimes people do get into relationships with fellow college students too (even from out of state).  At my jobs at Crossmark and Advantage, I go to all kinds of different retailers and grocery stores all around the seattle area and sometimes even visit stores and areas that I might not visit otherwise (like the Ballard Fred Meyer, Burien Fred Meyer, or the QFC in the University Village near Seattle).  I never know who I might encounter at the stores I visit.  It can be fellow classmates (like Shannon Bates from Jackson High School at Albertsons in Mill Creek), friends from Church or even family members.  I am sure that there are famous people lurking around the Seattle area too (especially people like Bill Gates and Paul Allen who seem to live in the are too).  I still remember the time when I met baseball player, Jamie Moyer for the first time.  By the way, if you go to comic con events (like the Emerald City comic con here in Seattle), you just might meet a celebrity (I have sit in on several celebrity panels myself at those events) or even get an autograph or picture with one if you know where to look for them and when to look for them (though I wouldn't be suprised if some of them wander around the convention center during their breaks so you could meet one while wandering around too, though unlikely).  Even my parents lived in opposite ends of the US before they met (my dad lived in New York while my mother lived in California) and they eventually met at a party in the Bay area.  Despite the obvious differences between Anakin and Padme, it appears that they were destined to meet on the fateful day when Anakin happened to be working for Watto when Qui Gon, Jar Jar Binks and Padme (who decided to disguise herself as a handmaiden) showed up while on the run from the Trade Federation as well as the sith for that matter.   By the way, has something like this ever happened to you?  Have you ever met someone you never thought you would meet?  Has any celebrities ever flirted with you?  Feel free to share your stories in the comment section below

Relationship 2 - Han Solo (a smuggler) and Princess Leia (a princess on Alderaan and daughter of Padme).

Spoiler alert: I have seen Star Wars Force Awakens, so I will update the info on Han and Leia to reflect the new movie 

Random Picture of Han Solo and Princess Leia together (source: http://assets.vg247.com/current//2015/10/leia-and-han.jpg)
A smuggler and a princess together?  Happened to Princess Leia and Han Solo.  I don't know much about Han Solo's life before he met up with Luke and Obi Wan other than him being a smuggler, befriending a Wookie named, Chewbacca (apparently he has a life debt to Han) and presumably working for Jabba the Hutt and was known for his famous "Kessel Run" with the Millenium falcon, though both of which have yet to be explored in the cinematic star wars universe, though hopefully, the stand alone Han Solo movie (and possibly Star Wars Rogue One) will explore Han's back story, along with Han's friendship with Lando (along with him acquiring the falcon from Lando during a game of sabbac) as well as that he is a wanted man with a bounty placed on his head by Jabba the Hutt (presumably due to a botched smuggling run).   Of course, the course of Han's life would forever be changed on the day he met a then, young Luke Skywalker along with an aged Obi Wann Kenobi (who had finally come out of exile in the aftermath of the events from Revenge of the Sith), who were both on their way to Alderaan to help Princess Leia, who was in trouble after obtaining the stolen Death Star plans and was trying to flee from the Empire before getting captured by Darth Vader in the process.  Han thought that it was another routine trip for him to take and possibly an easy way to earn the extra money needed to pay off Jabba the Hutt, but it turned out that the Alderaan was destroyed by the Death Star and he along with Luke and Obi Wann inadvertantly found themselves on the Death Star too after getting caught in one of its tractor beams.  While they were on the Death Star, Obi Wan broke off with Han and Luke and went to disable the tractor beam along with confronting Darth Vader for the last time, while Luke and Han set out to rescue the princess much to the discovery of R2 and Luke goading Han into attempt the rescue.  Interestingly, Han almost missed out on Princess Leia considering that she was actually sentenced to death after witnessing the destruction of Alderaan (Tarkin even wanted to speed up her execution too after learning that she lied to him about the rebel base being on Dantooine) and she could have been days or even hours away from her scheduled execution when Luke and Han rescued her.  If Han put his foot down on rescuing her if they arrive to the death star too late, she could have been dead upon arrival and Luke (and Vader/Anakin for that matter) would never have known that she was his sister (doesn't get revealed till Return of the Jedi) and Han would have missed his chance with the perfect love interest in his life (plus she along with Luke, Chewie and Lando would later return the favor since they would later rescue Han from the clutches of Jabba the Hutt and even help him escape an execution attempt on his life too via the sarlacc pit on Tatooine).    
Princess Leia was definitely a feisty type and even resisted Han's advances on her at first much (which was pretty evident in Empire Strikes back) but she slowly falls in love with him (especially while spending lots of time with him on the Millenium falcon while trying to flee the empire) and they really do seem to fall in love with each other by the end of Return of the Jedi.  Interestingly there was some rivalry between Luke and Han over Leia (considering that both of them liked her) though that would change when Luke later finds out that Leia was in fact his long twin sister, seperated from birth at the end of Revenge of the Sith (though Luke didn't know that at first).  After the Events of Return of the Jedi, there are 2 versions of what happens in their relationship.

Legends Universe:
I haven't read all of the novels or comics (I've read some such as the Thrawn Trillogy, Jedi Academy trillogy, and others), but it appears that they would inevitably get married and give birth to jedi twins, Jacen and Jaina Solo, who would both later become jedis themselves.  Interestingly, it appears that Jacen pulls an Anakin Skywalker and turns to the dark side at that point, creating some extra friction in the family, though it seems like he eventually gets redeemed.  Chewbacca actually gets killed too at the hands of the yuuzhan-vong (I haven't read the yuuzhan-vong trillogy yet though, so I don't really know the details other than that chewie dies), which sends Han into a depression which also creates some more drama in the family too.    

What makes Han and Leia an odd couple:
A scrufty smuggler and a princess becoming a potiential couple?  I am sure in real life that such relationships are very unlikely if not impossible.  I live in the USA and we don't have a monarchy (though I suppose a president of the united states is very similar to having a king or queen barring some obvious differences such as being elected as well as limits on power).  Han Solo and Leia would be comparable to say a member of the criminal element like Al Capone (who was an alcohol smuggler during the prohibition years) marrying one of the president's daughter or a princess from colonial era England marrying say a pirate like Blackbeard.  Such relationships are very unlikely.  Though for Han and Leia, technically they were both finding themselves on the wrong side of the law.  Leia was one of the leaders of the rebel alliance, which I am sure that the empire did not take kindly to (along with having a target on her back after acquiring the stolen death star plans which she would later use to bring about the eventual destruction the death star by Luke Skywalker), and Han had a huge bounty placed on his head by Jabba the Hutt and had bounty hunters (especially Boba Fett) hot on his tail.  In the aftermath of the battle of Hoth, they were both on the run from the empire and were eventually united by facing common enemies.

Revised Star Wars Canon Han Solo and Princess Leia

***Spoiler alert***
This section assumes you have seen Star Wars Force Awakens.  It has been out for several weeks now (since December) and I am assuming most people have seen the new movies already (hey, I have seen the movie 3 times myself). If you haven't seen the movies yet or procrastinating on seeing the new movie, I might recommend seeing the movie soon while it is still in theaters (it will be in theaters for only so long before getting replaced by another movie) if you are trying to avoid spoilers  Of course, if you haven't seen the movie yet and want to be suprised, feel free to skip over
Star Wars 7-9 version of events.
Picture of the villanous Kylo Ren, who was also an offspring of Leia and Han too.  Image source:

As you probably know, Disney has scrapped the Expanded Universe version of the post return of the jedi storyline, and only time will tell what elements, if any, survives the cut and which ones don't.  That being said, like in the books, it does seem like Han and Leia do seem to get married and instead of having twins, they give birth to a boy named Ben Solo.  It is not clear if they had any other kids (though there does seem to be speculation that Rey might be their daughter, though it is not clear if those rumors are true or not and seems unlikely to be the case in my opinion).  While Ben's details are sketchy, he ends up joining Luke's "Jedi Academy" where Luke even attempts to rebuild the Jedi order, which was virtually non existant by the time Force Awakens comes around, largely due to the Empire trying exterminate all of the jedi starting with Darth Sidious' infamous "order 66" tag line in Revenge of the Sith and later culminating with the great jedi purge that occurs afterwards (especially between episodes 3 and 4 with Darth Vader leading the charge to helping the empire to hunt down and destroy the remaing jedi knights who survived order 66 and heeded Obi Wan's warning to stragglers to stay away from Coruscant). Of course, Luke is no Yoda (who was much more experienced with the force than Luke was and definitely better Jedi master in many ways), and eventually, Ben turns to the dark side (having "too much Vader in him" as General Leia Organa would say, presumably being seduced to the dark side by Snoke, much like how Darth Sidious seduces Anakin to the dark side in Revenge of the sith and seems to replace Darth Sidious as the "overlord" in the new trillogy).  It appears Ben (like Vader before hi)even sets out to kill all of Luke's jedi padwans and even wants to kill Luke too if possible (which leads him to go into hiding, much like how Obi Wan goes into hiding after Anakin turns into Darth Vader).  Sadly, the rise of Kylo Ren also causes Han and Leia to seperate (though not offically divorce).  Leia becomes a general of the resistance (formerly the rebel alliance) leading campaigns against the New Order (formerly the Galactic Empire) and Han returns to smuggling (evidently transporting Diagona or Sarlacc like creatures called Rathiers for various criminal organizations). He even loses the Millenium Falcon too, at least till it gets recovered by Rey and Finn (who was a former storm trooper that eventually defects to the New Order) as they are trying to evade capture by the first order on Finn and wind up on the freighter Han was on.  Eventually, Solo and Leia would reunite at the new resistance base before working with the resistance to destroying the Starkiller base (basically a huge planet version of the death star).
In the end, Han tries to get Kylo Ren turn back to the light side of the force (much like what Luke does with Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi) and help set things right, but long story short, he gets betrayed and murdered by Kylo Ren (who impales Han with his light saber and sending him falling to his death).  Interestingly, according to the IMDB, Harrison Ford is supposed to reprise his role as Han Solo in Episode 8, but it is not clear what his role to be after his apparent death on the Starkiller base.  It also remains to be seen whether Kylo Ren turns to the lights side of the force or not considering that he killed Han and seems to be beyond redemption by the end of Episode 7.

Other Odd Couples in the Star Wars Universe

Relationship 3 - Mara Jade and Luke Skywalker (Mara actually hated Luke long before they married), Star Wars Legends Universe.

Random picture of Luke and Mara from the EU (source:
Long before Star Wars 7, Force Awakens came out and prior to Disney's aquisition of the Star Wars Franchise, most of the star wars story, both between the episodes (such as Shadows of the Empire bridging the gap between Empire Strikes back and Return of the Jedi) as well as most of the story that takes place after Return of the Jedi was explored by the Expanded Universe (particularly the books such as the Thrawn Trillogy, Truce at Bakkura, yuuzhan-vong trillogy, jedi academy trillogy, and many others).  There were even various games that seem to have continued the story too, such as the Dark Forces Jedi Knight franchise (which does provide one of the few onscreen appearances of Mara Jade along with several other EU elements), along with Force Unleashed (helps bridge the gap between Episodes 3 and 4 and aims to explain the rise of the rebel alliance and shows Darth Vader's infamous quest to rid the galaxy of the jedi) and even the "Knights of the Old" republic series too.  One prominent character that appeared in the Expanded Universe was Mara Jade.  She was a smuggler working with a man named Talon Kardde and apparently served in the Empire as one of Emperor Palpantine's most trusted agents.  What makes Mara and Luke an odd couple is that after the events of Return of the Jedi (most notably the death of Palpatine at the hands of Vader), she develops a hatred for Luke and even tries to kill him on various occasions.  I don't know too much about Mara's story after the Thrawn trillogy (haven't read all of the books), though I am sure you can read more about her on Wikipedia, but it appears that eventually she gets married to Luke and they have a son named Ben (much like Han and Leia do in the revised canon).  But I bet it had to be somewhat unsettling for Luke to wind up marrying her, especially considering that she wanted to kill him for a while.  I mean would you want to marry somone that hated you, even if it was like that in the past (for example, marrying say a Charles Mansion type)?  Definitely an interesting couple to watch in the EU version of events.

***Spoiler alert - this upcoming section assumes you have seen Star Wars Episode 7, Force Awakens.  If you haven't seen the movie yet and want to avoid spoilers, feel free to skip this section. **** 

Note about the revised version of the post Return of the Jedi Star Wars universe.

After Disney's acquisition of the Star Wars franchise and scrapping the EU version of the Star Wars Universe as canon, it will be interesting to see whether Mara Jade makes an appearence in the revised canon or if someone else will take her place (if anyone else).  I don't remember seeing her in Episode 7, though Luke himself doesn't appear till towards the end of the movie and exiled himself to some island on the outer rim, probably due to the rise of Kylo Ren and his quest to kill Luke (much like how Obi Wan goes into hiding on Tatooine after Anakin turns to the dark side) but it will be interesting to see how Luke's story plays out in the Episodes 8 and 9.  Does he survive to the end?  Does he die at the hands of Kylo Ren or even Snoke? Does he have a love interest (such as Mara Jade)?  There is speculation going around the net that Rey is in fact either Luke or Obi Wan's daughter (search "Rey as Luke's daughter" on google or bing to see what I mean), but it is not clear whether the rumors or true or not.  Personally, I doubt that she is related to Obi Wan, though if you saw the clone wars saga, you would know that he did seem to have a romantic connection with Dutches Satine, though seems unlikely they would have married or had kids like Anakin and Padme did considering that Obi Wan seemed to be more strict about following the Jedi code than Anakin was, plus she seems to get killed off by a resurrected and vengeful Darth Maul towards the end of the clone wars series.  If Rey is Luke's daughter, who is his wife?  If not, who else is she related to?  Does Mara Jade make an appearence in Episodes 8 or 9 or does someone else take her place?  I am sure Episodes 8 and 9 will expand on Luke's story, especially now that he has been brought out of hiding by Rey as well as the resistance, but it will be intersting to see how things play out. I could see reasons why Mara might not appear in the new movies, especially considering that she hasn't made any formal appearances yet in the cinematic Star Wars canon (no sign of her in the prequels, clone wars, star wars rebels or even the original trillogy) so it would be easy for Disney to exclude her if she want considering that it is very possible that she might not exist as far as the cinematic star wars universe is concerned.  My guess is that if she doesn't appear in Episodes 8 or 9, then she probably doesn't exist in the cinematic Star Wars Universe.  What elements from the EU version of the Star Wars Universe (if any) crosses over into the cinematic Universe, if any, remains to be seen.  Does she appear in Episodes 8 or 9?  Only time will tell for sure.

Honorable Mentions

1. Bastila and Darth Revan (knights of the Old Republic)

If you have played through the first Knights of the Old Republic game, you probably know that Bastala is a romance option for the player.  In the game, you play as a character who was once, Darth Revan who became a reformed jedi in an open ended pre Empire Star Wars universe.  As the game progresses, you can enter into dialogues with various NPCs, including those in your crew and you do develop relationships (both good and bad) with them depending on your choices.  Interestingly, Bastala too gets lured to the dark side by Darth Malek and the player can either try to dissuade her from joining the dark side or join her and it is possible to have romance dialogue options too.  An odd thing about this relationship is that Bastala was as a jedi master and Revan was once a sith lord (at least prior to the game) so that is worth mentioning.  It is not clear if Knights of the Old republic is considered part of the Star Wars canon (especially under Disney), it was definitely a fun an intersting Star Wars game t play through.
Random picture of Revan (the game's protaginist) and Bastila (from Wookiepedia)

2. Daisy and Rey (a desert scavenger and potiential future jedi from Jakku and an ex storm trooper who defected from First Order)

Random picture of Finn and Rey as they flee Storm troopers on Jakku

Although it remains to be seen whether they become a couple or not, there did seem to be some chemistry between the 2 from when they meet on Jakku and throughout the course of Force Awakens.  Interestingly in both the prequel trilogy and original trilogy, the second episodes in each trilogies usually expands on a romance sub plot (such as Anakin and Padme in Attack of the Clones along with Han and Leia in Empire Strikes back respectively), so it is possible that Disney might follow that tradition and feature a romance sub plot in Episode 8 too (such as possibly between Rey and Finn).  Obviously I don't have all of the answers about the upcoming movies, but it will be interesting to see how their relationship plays out during the course of Episodes 8 and 9.

3. Obi Wan Kenobi and Dutches Satine
Random picture of Obi Wan and Satine from the Clone Wars Saga.  Image source:

If you have seen the Clone Wars series, you probably know about the history between Obi Wan and Satine.  Apparently, long before Obi Wan became the jedi as we know him, he did seem to have a love interest: a Dutchess from Mandalore named Satine.  It is not really clear how close they were or if they ever married (let alone had kids), but it is worth mentioning.  Unlike Anakin and Padme, he seems to resist the temptation to fall in love with Satine though. Who would have thought that Obi Wan once had a love interest considering that he is was a very active member on the Jedi Counsil (and was strict about following the rules too) and even lived as a hermit for a while on Tatooine

Well, that is all for this post.  By the way, who all here have seen Force Awakens?  I have seen it 3 times myself.  Definitely an epic start to the new Trillogy that will explore the Star Wars story in the aftermath of Return of the Jedi.  Episode 7 has come and gone and 2 more movies are on their ways in the next several years, with several stand alone movies coming too (such as Star Wars Rogue One and the upcoming Han Solo movie too).

What do you think about this post?  Do any of you have similar stories to share about unlikeliest relationships?  Have you ever met a famous person or developed a relationship with them?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Feel free to "like and share" this post if you like it.  Your support for this blog will be ost appreciated.

Wookiepedia  I only know so much about the Star Wars universe.  For more exhaustive information about the saga, feel free to visit Wookiepedia (Star Wars' official wikipedia)
www.starwars.com (main website for Starwars)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Bear in Whistler Village ringing door bell.

Here is something you don't see everyday: a bear ringing in the doorbell.  I have been to Whistler several times, but have yet to see a bear in the village (though they say that sometimes there are bear sightings in the village).  Here is a video about a crafty bear trying to get into a building.

(actually I meant to post this on my other blog)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Top 10 Most Memorable Star Wars games (work in progress)

Well, the new Star Wars movie, Force Awakens is supposed to come out in a less a month away from now (sometime in December) and for this post I will share some of the top 10 most memorable Star Wars themed video games I have played.  Note: I haven't played the Xbox One Star Wars Battlefront game yet (planning to buy it sometime when I get the chance though).

*warning: this blog post contains spoilers as it does assume you have played through the games.  If you rather play through the games instead, you can always buy them as well the platforms they play on on Amazon.  As for Star Wars arcade games (like Star Wars Trillogy arcade), I am sure you can find them at various arcades in America or by used machines either on Amazon or ebay)*

Game 1 - X Wing PC

This game was ahead of its time (especially for one that mainly used floppy disks instead of CD Roms).  This game is best played if you have a joystick as well as a good soundboard for the computer.  In this combat flight simulator game, you assume control of an X-wing, though sometimes you will be flying a Y wing or an A Wing too and do Tour of Duty missions for the Rebellion's campaign against the empire.  More casual players can do training missions and just for fun missions too.  Game does have cheats that you can enable from the menu (such as invincibility as well as unlimited ammo), but you have to play the game without cheats to advance in the tour of duty of missions.  Players who make it to the end of the game are treated to an assault on the first death star (including piloting down the infamous trench much like Luke did in A New Hope).  By the way, I remember you needed a code in the game to play it (was printed in the manual).  Lose the manual, and the game basically becomes unplayable unless if you remember some of the codes.  Similar games: Tie Fighter and Xwing vs Tiefighter.

Game 2- Star Wars Rebel Assault (Sega CD)
This was fun game for the Sega CD, though there is also a version for the PC.  You do various missions and levels.  I remember this game for the Sega CD, though there is also a version for the PC.  You play as a young rebel pilot and solider doing missions for the Rebellion against the empire.  It has been a long time since I have played this game yet, but it was definitely a fun Star Wars gaming experience.  The final mission has you reliving the battle of Yavin, where the rebels go up against the infamous Death Star Trench.
Game 3 - Dark Forces Jedi Knight as well as Mysteries of the Sith

Ah, this was a fun game.  Never played through the first Dark Forces game, but I have played through its' sequel Jedi Knight.  You assume the role of Kyle Katarn, the mercenary who stole the Death Star plans in the first game in his latest adventure to stop the evil dark Jedi, Jerec, who wants gain ultimate power and become the new emperor of the empire.  In this game, Kyle gains jedi powers and can either become a light jedi or dark jedi depending on how players play through the game and choice players make (killing bystanders can cause you to turn dark for example).  Never played through the game's extension pack (Mysteries of the Sith) but it goes on record of being the first onscreen appearance for Mara Jade and several other Starwars Legends (formerly expanded universe) characters and creatures (for example, it is one of the few Star Wars games to feature Noghris, which are grey skinned aliens that served as assasins for Darth Vader, though eventually became alligned to the Rebels thanks to efforts by Princess Leia in the Thrawn Trillogy).  Food for thought: with Force Awakens coming out later this month, will Mara Jade make a debut appearance in the new movie?  In the Legends universe, she was a lady who was originally working for the Empire and was a close associate for Palpatine, and even develops a hatred for Luke in the aftermath of Retun of the Jedi, but eventually changes her ways and even marries Luke.  Speculatively speaking I want to think she will in the new movie, but since Disney is taking the franchise in a different direction and declaring the books no longer to be cannon, it is not clear if she will be in the new movies or not.  Considering that she hasn't appeared in any of the original trillogy movies, prequels, clone wars, or Star Wars Rebels cartoons, it is possible she doesn't exist as far as the cinematic Star Wars Universe is concerned (you would think she would have been introduced by now if she does exist in the mainline storyline.  Only time will tell whether if any elements of the Legends universe crosses over into the cinematic universe, so it will be interesting to see how the new movies play out in relations to the Expanded Universe.

Game 4 - Star Wars Trillogy Arcade
This is not to be confused with Star Wars arcade for the Sega 3DX.  This was a game in the arcades where you can play through the Star Wars saga on various missions and events throughout the series.  Most people will probably not make it till the end unless if they have plenty of extra loose change to spend on continues as they play through the games. 

Game 5- Lego Star Wars (Playstation 2 and Xbox)
These were some fun games featuring Lego's version of the Star Wars universe.  There 3 different versions of the game (prequel era, original trillogy era, and complete saga).  Where you can play through various events and levels from the different star wars movies.  Plenty of twists too, such as being able to revisit levels as different characters (for example, playing as Darth Maul on Naboo, Darth Sidious, droids, soldiers, etc).  There are even several boss battles throughout both games.  By the way, although I never did it, hard core gamers in the Original Trillogy version of Lego Star Wars could even access Lego City in the game too by finding all of the hidden items in the game.

Game 6 - Star Wars Shadows of the Empire (Nintendo 64)
This was one of the few Star Wars games to be based on the Expanded Universe novels (not sure if any other Expanded Star Wars novels were converted to video games).  You assume the role of mercenary, Dash Rendar as he does missions for the Rebel alliance as well as serving as Luke's body guard who not only becomes a fugitive from the Empire (Darth Sidious wants him dead while the Anakin Skywalker in Darth Vader wants to convert Luke into the Dark side, despite the fact that there can only be 2 siths at a time) in the aftermath of Empire Strikes back, but also becomes a target for assasination attempts by the Blue Suns criminal organization who want him dead.  The game is fitting for the Nintendo 64 being in a huge 3D style environment.  Noteworthy levels includes: Battle of Hoth, Escaping the Rebel base on Hoth (there is even a cheat that lets you control one of the several wampas lurking in the base), boss fight with Boba Fett, reliving the mission where you have to help the Bothans (not seen in the game) steal the plans for the second Death Star, battling a giant diagona, as well as playing through the game's climatic final missions and levels.  Food for thought: considering that Disney is planning to make several stand alone Star Wars movies, I think a movie adaption of Shadows of the Empire would be cool, especially considering that it helps bridge the gap between Empire Strikes back and Return of the Jedi (much like the clone wars saga does between Attack of the Clones and Mysteries of the Sith).  Whether a movie adaption of Shadows of the Empire is possible, I have no idea (though probably unlikely unless someone wants make that movie), but it would make an interesting installment to watch.  

Game 7 - Star Wars Battlefront 1 and 2 (Xbox)
Long before there was the new Star Wars Battlefront Reboot for the Xbox One and PS4, there were older versions of the games for the original Xbox.  Much like the reboot, you revisit battles and events from both the Prequels and the Original trillogy (such as the battle of Endor, Geonosis, clone wars battles, battle of Kashyyyk, Hoth, and even the battle of Coruscant from Revenge of the Sith).  Battlefront 2 focuses more on the events of the clone wars and Revenge of the sith (including the infamous order 66) and even lets you do space battles too, where you can either fly as fighter pilot, help defend your cruiser (manning the guns) or even working to sabotage the enemy ship.  

Game 8 - Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic and Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 2

I am going to list these 2 games together because they are very similar to each other.  The same people (Bioware) who made the Mass Effect Series also teamed up with Lucasarts to make Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic.  These games are set about 4000 years before Revenge of the Sith, yet ironically still very futuristic worlds (in real life Earth was a completly different world 4000 years ago, with modern style technology and transportaion either being non existant or primative at best and you would have been living in the ancient world).  In Knights of the Old Republic 1, you assume the role of the former Darth Revan (this doesn't get revealed till later in the game), who was stripped of his force powers after being captured by the Jedis at the time and even had his memory erased too.  This game is unique as not only is the game not confined to the movies, but it has a huge open world environment and plenty of cutscenes and dialogue too (it is almost like a movie in itself).  In these games there is a huge choose your own adventure style element.  Some things you can do in the original game includes:
- saving your allies and friends
- being a "dick" to people (choosing mean dialogue options)
- Falling in love with a female jedi named Bastilla
- Lying to the jedi counsil (interestingly, they do buy your lies)
- Turning to the dark side and betraying allies
- Being a light jedi and saving the galaxy
- Becoming a bounty hunter and collecting on bounties
- engaging in gladiator style duels (including one where you can fight to the death).
There are plenty of interesting NPC characters too, including an ancestor of Yoda (he looks like yoda and even has his own jedi counsil, but is not the same character), a protocol droid known as HK 47 who is also an assasination droid and is great for characters who want to create dark jedis and loves to talk smack about other characters and even has the tag line of: "meat bags" and many others.

Knights of the Old Republic 2 was the official sequel to the first game and you play as this "exile" character who was cut off from the force by the jedi (apparently the jedi counsel can do that as far as the game is concerned) and introduces a cunning sith lord known as Kreia (who also functions as mentor for the Exile) who apparently wants to get rid of the force all together and take over the galaxy).  In that version of the game, your force alignment is determined based on your actions and you beome either a light or dark jedi around the mid point of the game (the game changes based on your alignment) and you can even take sides in ongoing struggles various worlds are going through.  For example, I remember a world lead by a queen (similar to Naboo) with an evil dictator that wants to launch a coup de tat and take over the planet and you can either side with the queen or the miltary coup.  Also, much like in Revenge of the Sith, there are several sith present and in power and are hunting down the Exile as well as other light jedi, making things interesting for the player as the game progresses.  Besides the Knights of the Republic game for the PC, Knights of the Old Republic 2 is currently the last of its kind for the consoles, though it would be nice to see a remake or sequel for Xbox one someday, much like what they are doing for Star Wars Battlefront.   These 2 games are definitely classics in my opinion and you were definitely missing out if you didn't play through them  What other Star Wars game takes place 4000 years prior to Revenge of the Sith and lets you make your own choices during the play through, and even plays like its own movie?
Game 9 - Star Wars the Force Unleashed
This game is set sometime between Episodes 3 and 4 and is one of the several stories in the Star Wars saga that aims to help bridge the gap between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope (considering that the movies are set almost 20 years a part) along with Star Wars Rebels and the upcoming Star Wars Rogue one movie (the one that is about the operation where rebel spies steal the Death Star Plans prior to A New Hope).  In this game, the Empire has established its grip across the galaxy and Darth Vader continues on his quest to kill off the jedi knights who survived the infamous Order 66 and headed Obi Wan's warning to stay away from Coruscant.  In the game, Vader recruits protaganist, Galen Malek (aka Starkiller) to help hunt down the Jedi Knights while secretly wanting to use Starkiller to help kill the Emperor (probably in part due to Padme dying at the end of Revenge of the Sith which Anakin did not take kindly to when he learned about her fate) and you do go on various missions where you go after some of the jedi (such as Rahm Kota and even Shaak Ti).  Eventually Vader betrays Stark killer and Star Killer is forced to join forces with the rebels (lead by Mon Mothma, Baal Organa, Princess Leia, Garm Bel iblis, and others) in their struggle against the empire  This game is definitely a dark installment in the series, but was pretty fun.  You wield a lightsaber and gain force powers (I like how he can use force lightning on enemies, gain special shields to deflect blasters, and even ligth saber throw).  He can also manipulates objects and hurl them at enemies too (such as hurling explosives at storm troopers or chucking thermal detonators back at jawas who try to kill Starkiller).  Lots of cut scenes worth watching too.  This game seems to mark the first onscreen appearance for Garm Bel Iblis (one of the well known rebel leaders in the Expanded Star Wars universe) and possibly one of the last appearances for Bail Organa (who presumably died when Alderaan was destroyed by the Death Star in episode 4).  At the end of the game, Starkiller can choose to be a "light jedi" and save the rebels who were about to be executed by Palpatine or turn "dark", defeat Vader and side with Palpatine (though he also tries to betray Palpatine too which ends up backfiring on Malek).  There are several DLCs you can download too, which pretty much assumes that Malke turns to the dark side at the end of the main storyline and has several non cannon missions, such as hunting down Obi Wann Kenobi on Tatooine and assasinating Luke on Hoth along with others.

Game 10 - Force Unleashed 2, particularly the Battle of Endor DLC

Though not quite as good as the first Force Unleashed game, Force Unleashed 2 is the official sequel to the first Force Unleashed game, and you basically assume the role of a cloned version of Galen Malek (the original Malek is presumably dead in the aftermath of the first game after sacrificing himself to save the rebel leaders).  In the game, Malek escapes Kamino (while being pursued by Vader and his cronies) and ultimately sets out on a mission to save is former love from the first game (apparently clones maintain memories and feelings that the host body had) and even sides with the rebels in taking on the empire.  The game does seem like it could have had been longer, though it does seem to have some epic boss battles too (my favorites were the ones where you fight a giant rancor as well as the epic duel with Darth Vader).  I also got to play through the Battle of Endor DLC pack where you assume the role of dark side Malek in his missions to take out the rebels while also battling ewoks, rebel soliders, and even storm troopers in his mission to take out the rebel leaders, Han Solo and Princess Leia.  The Battle of Endor mission was actually quite amusing, especially if you have the Jedi mind trick ability (which basically causes enemies to turn on each other) which proves quite handy throughout the level  Obviously, Force Unleashed 2's version of Return of the Jedi is not cannon, but was pretty fun and amusing to play through.  You even fight a "Jedi Master" version of Princess Leia at the end of the mission too.  In the movie version, obviously Leia had only discovered her powers (much like how Luke was in Episode 4) and was more of a learner.  Interestingly Luke never makes an appearance in the DLC version of Return of the Jedi and it is Darth Vader that gets struck by Palpatine's force lightning attack (Emperor Palpatine seemed to know about Vader's schemes to overthrow him and did obviously not take kindly to that).  There were several other DLCs, but I didn't play through them

Honorable mentions
- Star Wars Battlefront Xbox One (can't say I have played through the game yet though)
- Dark forces (played through part of the game, but not all of it)
- Jedi Knight Jedi Academy (played through part of the pc version of the game)
- Star Wars Rebellion

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Top 12 Video game and movie veteran characters (work in progress)

As you probably know, today is Veterans Day and I thought that I would do a Veterans Day themed Post.  In this post, I will pay some tribute to some well known "veterans" in the video game and movie universe.

1. Super Mario and Luigi - going on countless adventures to save the princess from an evil dragon named Bowser, bent on world domination

2. C 3PO and R2D2 as well as the Rebels in the Star Wars Trillogy -

3. Mega Man

4. Mega Man X and Zero

5. Commander Shepard - Mass Effect Series

6. Call of Duty soliders

7.  Master Chief - Halo Series

8. The Power Rangers

9.  The Avengers and Justice League

10. Sonic the Hedgehog

11. The Belmont Clan - Castlevania series

12. Bill and Lance in the Contra Series

Honorable Mentions:
- Donkey Kong
- John Marston - Red Dead Redemption
- Star Fox