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In the wake of the new year, Logan Paul has recently had his YouTube Red series put on hold and was removed from Google’s preferred advertisement program as a result of public backlash over a video that featured an apparent suicide victim in Japan.
by Emily Reuben The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the opinion of Byte or Byte’s editorial board. In the wake of the new year, Logan Paul has recently had his YouTube Red series put on hold and was removed from Google’s preferred advertisement program as a result of public backlash over a video that featured an apparent suicide victim in Japan. The video has resulted in a massive online controversy over the past two weeks sparking debate over the ethics of showing a suicide victim on camera. Many YouTube creators have joined in the outrage, taking to social media and making their own videos directed at Logan Paul.
Another year of Byte reviews allowed us to shine a light once again on a wealth of games worth playing. Sure, there were some duds, but the masterpieces far outweighed them. The year 2017 featured improvements on recent installments of the Destiny and Sonic franchises, plus a spectacular first-year showing for the Nintendo Switch including obligatory new beauties in the Mario and Zelda departments. And with Cuphead bringing some mainstream attention to a brand-new indie studio, the future of independent gaming has never looked brighter.
Every year produces a relentless heaping of blockbuster films that sell fantastically, but how many of them are actually good is another question entirely. Though the major circuit may have been a little bit short on masterpieces this year, it was by no means empty. We got another great Pixar movie, a beautiful shoutout to The Room, and the best M. Night Shyamalan film in a long time. We also caught a whole host of independent films at Heartland Film Festival this year, some of which were made in our own backyard. So as it turns out, the year of The Disaster Artist wasn’t such a disaster after all.
by Emily ReubenHoliday shopping can be hard. Between cryptic gift lists, friends refusing to tell you what they want, or the dreaded "I don't need anything" responses, the seemingly simple task of buying gifts for loved ones can become a nightmare. To make matters worse, getting good gifts can get expensive quickly. No one wants to be the guy that gives out cheap bootleg Pokemon dolls, but you don't want to break the bank either.Well no worries! We’ve compiled a list of great gift ideas. The best part? All of these items are $25 or less! While every item may not ship in time for the holidays, they are sure not to break the bank.
Holiday shopping can be hard. Between cryptic gift lists, friends refusing to tell you what they want, or the dreaded "I don't need anything" responses, the seemingly simple task of buying gifts for loved ones can become a nightmare. To make matters worse, getting good gifts can get expensive quickly. No one wants to be the guy that gives out cheap bootleg Pokemon dolls, but you don't want to break the bank either.
It’s the series that launched a fleet of frightened let’s players’ careers on YouTube. It grew into a series famous for its cryptic lore and even more cryptic clues outside of the games. It spawned a series of video games, three books, a feature film currently in the works, a line of figurines, apparel, and other merchandise, and more creepy fan art than just about any other indie PC title. Five Nights at Freddy’s has seen its latest installment abruptly release. Dropping rather suddenly, Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza Simulator is anything but an average simulation game.
by Emily Reuben It’s the series that launched a fleet of frightened let’s players’ careers on YouTube. It grew into a series famous for its cryptic lore and even more cryptic clues outside of the games. It spawned a series of video games, three books, a feature film currently in the works, a line of figurines, apparel, and other merchandise, and more creepy fan art than just about any other indie PC title. Five Nights at Freddy’s has seen its latest installment abruptly release. Dropping rather suddenly, Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza Simulator is anything but an average simulation game. Bringing something new to the table The game begins with a classic 8-bit style game where you, as the animatronic Freddy Fazbear, feed children pizzas. While the bright sounding music and cheerful demeanor of the children are optimistic, fans of past FNAF games should know that things begin to take a turn for the ominous rather quickly. After an unsettling audio tape sequence, an introduction prompting the player on the purchase and maintenance of a Freddy Fazbear establishment begins to play, changing the tone back to upbeat. The best part is the blatant irony that becomes increasingly apparent as the introduction sequence plays. Dwelling on factors such as “liability” amongst pictures of children eating pizza and thumbs ups. After this not-so-optimistic rundown, the player is taken to a product catalogue where they can browse and purchase items for the establishment. Initially the items available are...primitive. Instead of ball pits and intricate animatronics, you have options like “No. 1 Crate”, or “Mr. Can Do”. While not the most exciting of options to start with, as cash flows in, more products become available for purchase. Aesthetic is not the only reason to buy items. Each product comes with various stats to consider before placing it in the establishment. These include Atmosphere, Health and Safety, Entertainment, Bonus Revenue and liability. These are all relatively self-explanatory, but can make a major difference in terms of gameplay ease. After purchasing items, you can place them around the establishment and even play test certain products. Back to the familiar FNAF formula After the bright colors and charmingly happy music lulls you into a state of ease, the game very suddenly drops you back into the familiar FNAF environment. From the terminal, you must do boring administrative jobs like monitoring cleaning and ventilation, buying products, and cleaning. This sounds simple in theory, but add an array of animatronics that want to kill you and the situation becomes far more grim. The gameplay here is a blend of past FNAF games with a new slant. You perform all of your tasks (such as checking the audio, motion detector, and cancelling annoying pop-up advertisements) on a computer screen while checking vents on either side of your computer. After you successfully complete each day, you are given a survey for inspecting and salvaging animatronics found in the alleyway for parts. Here, you have a choice to simply throw the animatronic away or attempt to salvage parts for cash. While the prospect of extra cash is enticing, there are risks to consider. As the game so kindly mentions, “those benefits come with risks...choose to keep it and you run the risk of certain consequences, namely death.” When salvaging for parts, you check the animatronic for stability and hardware. Successfully salvaging the animatronic will net you some cash, but it will also prowl the pizzeria trying to reach you in typical FNAF fashion. But what if you throw it back into the alley you found the robot in? Doing so means that there will be no animatronics trying to kill the player. What about throwing out each and every animatronic? Is that even allowed? If the animatronics are never kept in the restaurant, then each night that would otherwise be filled with terror serves as a brief interlude between moments of restaurant management and interior design. Freddy Fazbear's Pizzeria Simulator is familiar, but different enough from older titles to remain interesting. There is some customization and choice here regarding difficulty, which can really spice up gameplay. Despite these options, Pizzeria Simulator does nothing to change the gameplay that has characterized every single main FNAF game. Breaking from tradition The monotony of the classic FNAF formula is broken up by not only the simulation aspect of the game, but also by the various games available. Some of these are just random RNG sequences that have a chance to unlock items, but others push you to navigate a maze, keep characters from falling, and even some side scrolling shooter action. For fans of FNAF’s ongoing lore, these short games harbor a ton of hidden clues. The various mini-games available, if played right, reveal new information that fans of the series will love. Another way that Pizzeria Simulator breaks with tradition is in its price. This is the first main line FNAF game to be freely available to the public. This is a great move on the part of game creator Scott Cawthon. It lets players who have abandoned the series back in with nothing to lose, and it also staves off some of the series fatigue that may have set in for gamers tired of paying for a game that did not evolve its core mechanics through the years. Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria Simulator succeeds on several fronts. It wraps up the lore of the series in ways that are satisfying for those who have played since the first game’s release. It also provides more new gameplay mechanics that make this an interesting evolution of the Five Nights formula. Finally, Pizzeria Simulator is a great value. Being free means that all players have to lose is their time and patience. Images: Steam, Magic Game World
Growing up Jewish, it was always exciting to see any television show or movie dedicate even a fraction of its time acknowledging that yes, Jews do exist. Even if the movie or special isn’t great, in the end it feels good to be acknowledged in a media landscape that largely ignores the Jewish faith. To help you deal with that suppressed Chanukah fever, we’ve compiled a nifty little list of some Chanukah goodness…or badness…to watch this year while eating latkes and playing dreidel.
by Emily Reuben Growing up Jewish, it was always exciting to see any television show or movie dedicate even a fraction of its time acknowledging that yes, Jews do exist. Even if the movie or special isn’t great, in the end it feels good to be acknowledged in a media landscape that largely ignores the Jewish faith. To help you deal with that suppressed Chanukah fever, we’ve compiled a nifty little list of some Chanukah goodness...or badness...to watch this year while eating latkes and playing dreidel. This list should be prefaced by saying that finding actual Chanukah specials is extremely difficult. It’s almost as if Chanukah is not the primary winter holiday celebrated in the United States or something…
You may not have noticed, but Pixar has been in a bit of a rut over the past few years. While hits like Inside Out have managed to captivate audiences, the influx of sequels has notably regressed the once-innovative and original Pixar films of late. Originality seems to have been shoved aside in favor of thoughtless sequels and blatant retellings (Toy Story 3 is literally Toy Story 2 with a new skin). With other animation companies such as Disney and Dreamworks stepping up their 3D animation, Pixar seems to be lessening in importance in the growing animation market.
by Emily Reuben You may not have noticed, but Pixar has been in a bit of a rut over the past few years. While hits like Inside Out have managed to captivate audiences, the influx of sequels has notably regressed the once-innovative and original Pixar films of late. Originality seems to have been shoved aside in favor of thoughtless sequels and blatant retellings (Toy Story 3 is literally Toy Story 2 with a new skin). With other animation companies such as Disney and Dreamworks stepping up their 3D animation, Pixar seems to be lessening in importance in the growing animation market. With all of this in mind, Coco serves as much-needed reminder regarding Pixar’s creativity and dedication to animated greatness. A whimsical journey to the Land of the Dead Coco is a relatively straightforward film. Set in a small Mexican town, our protagonist, the 12 year-old Miguel has a major love for music. Sadly for him, due to an old family conflict, music is essentially banned within Miguel’s family. This doesn’t deter our young hero who secretly worships the singer Ernesto de la Cruz and practices guitar away from the judgmental glares of his family. Around this time, Día de Muertos, or The Day of the Dead, is set to begin. On the same night, a talent show gives Miguel visions of grandeur. When he proposes playing guitar at the festival, Miguel is immediately rebuked by his grandmother leading to a heated family dispute. This results in the the discovery and subsequent destruction of Miguel’s secret guitar. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cW9DU2481rU After the family spat, Miguel comes to the conclusion that he is actually the great-great-grandson of de la Cruz. This restores his motivation and Miguel infiltrates de la Cruz’s gravesite to borrow the singer’s guitar and perform at the festival. Once Miguel strums the guitar for the first time, he finds he is no longer visible to the living. During Día de Muertos festivities that are simultaneously going on, Miguel is surprised to see his dead ancestors. They are just as surprised to see him and take him to the Land of The Dead to remedy the issue. In the Land of the Dead, Miguel discovers that his great aunt Imelda has been unable to enter the Land of the Living because he had previously knocked her family photo off the ofrenda, resulting in a family curse. Additionally, Miguel must return home before sunrise or he will be trapped forever. Imelda agrees to send Miguel home under the conditions that he place her photo back on the ofrenda and that he give up music forever. Miguel, unwilling to give up music, makes a run for it. He decides that de la Cruz would gladly send him home without the condition of abandoning music. Along the way, Miguel runs into Hector, a sketchy skeleton who claims to know de la Cruz. Together, the two brave the Land of the Dead and hope to send Miguel home before he is trapped in the Land of the Dead forever. Now admittedly Coco does not have the most original plot. The Book of Life did a similar film featuring Día de Muertos years ago, and the similarities have caused controversy amongst filmgoers. However, I think it’s fair to keep in mind Día de Muertos is a popular holiday that makes for interesting storytelling, so simply having the same holiday featured isn’t necessarily an unreasonable offense. On the other hand, Día de Muertos is definitely overused in the media and it would be great if storytellers would showcase other aspects of Mexican culture. Also in regards to the plot, there are definitely some cliches that need to be mentioned outside of using Día de Muertos. The liar revealed is a trope (that I find really annoying) that pops up here in a predictable manner. I won’t spoil the reveal the movie sets up, but anyone who has seen any film ever should be able to spot it in Act 1 during the point of attack. Does this make the film bad? No. Coco is really great despite it’s simplicity. Though predictable, there is a ton of emotion crammed into this animated piece that is likely to make moviegoers tear up. Pixar’s animation team does it again Cutting straight to the chase, Coco looks incredible. Between the lighting, the character models, and the fluid motion, everything is incredible to look at. According to IMDb Coco has set the record for Pixar being the longest Pixar film in production, and the effort definitely shows, especially in the scenes showcasing the Land of the Dead. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOvfedkA_JM Director Lee Unkrich comments about the use his research of Mexican culture and his use of color in the film, "I'd seen it portrayed in folk art. It was something about the juxtaposition of skeletons with bright, festive colors that captured my imagination. It has led me down a winding path of discovery. And the more I learn about Día de Muertos, the more it affects me deeply." Personally, due to the masterful use of color and design, I would consider Coco to feature the best looking animation Pixar has done thus far. For those (like me) who actively aimed to avoid the trailers and keep the film an absolute surprise, be forewarned that the previews prior to the show will show you a lot of the grand-looking environments. Is Coco a ripoff of The Book of Life? Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way; yes Coco and the 2014 animated film The Book of Life share a ton of similarities. Both films feature Día de Muertos as well as Hispanic characters and have a strong emphasis on music. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_i69CJc1BgE In many respects, Hispanic culture has absolutely been given the shaft in Hollywood and media in general. Hispanic culture is rarely talked about (outside of stereotypes), and Hispanic protagonists are largely nonexistent. The Book of Life received praise for focusing on Hispanic culture in a respectful manner and for the largely Hispanic cast and crew including director Jorge R. Gutierrez, Guillermo del Toro, Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana and Jorge R. Gutierrez. By contrast, when Coco was first showcased in 2015, the only crew involved were white. While this was later fixed, this does demonstrate the overwhelmingly white hand that went into the initial crafting of the film. In terms of who copied who, this is where things get a bit tricky. The Book of Life began production in 2012 and later released in 2014. As we all know, Coco released three years later. However, while many love to claim theft, Coco was actually announced in early 2012, the same year The Book of Life began production. After the initial announcement, updates on Coco remained fairly silent until December 6, 2016 when Entertainment Weekly dropped a plot synopsis for the Pixar film. No matter who released the film first, I would argue that Coco looks far more professionally done and provides more of a heartfelt narrative than its competitor. If you liked The Book of Life, I’d wager you’ll probably like Coco too. Featured image from WDW News Today
Around this time last year, I reviewed Pokemon Sun and Moon, Game Freak’s latest entries to the beloved Pokemon franchise. The new Alola region promised plenty of new creatures, exotic locations, new Z-moves, and Alolan forms of Kanto Pokemon. Fans were ecstatic building up to the release. With all this shining new content, what wasn’t to love?
by Emily Reuben Around this time last year, I reviewed Pokemon Sun and Moon, Game Freak’s latest entries to the beloved Pokemon franchise. The new Alola region promised plenty of new creatures, exotic locations, new Z-moves, and Alolan forms of Kanto Pokemon. Fans were ecstatic building up to the release. With all this shining new content, what wasn’t to love? Sadly, a lot. Sun and Moon are quite a mess, featuring some clunky framerates during battles, little exploration, mind-numbingly simple gameplay, and the greatest offense of them all, the horrendous cutscenes. Initially, I had given the game a 7.0 largely overlooking the massive flaws in favor of the wonderful environment and enhanced gameplay features. As time has passed and I have had more time to fully experience all the Alola region has to offer, I would downgrade that 7.0 to a 5.5 or 6.0 to be generous. Sun and Moon seem out of character, simplified, and downright tedious to trudge through. So here we are a year later with the release of Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. Do these games fix many of the original flaws in Sun and Moon?
To be blunt, “Doubling Down” is one of the smartest, most interesting episodes of South Park to have graced us in years. Not only are there some genuinely funny moments and a great animation sequence towards the end of the episode, but “Doubling Down” manages to masterfully interweave comedy with expertly executed social commentary. If you’re looking for the perfect analogy of the current state of America, this episode is for you.
by Emily Reuben To be blunt, “Doubling Down” is one of the smartest, most interesting episodes of South Park to have graced us in years. Not only are there some genuinely funny moments and a great animation sequence towards the end of the episode, but “Doubling Down” manages to masterfully interweave comedy with expertly executed social commentary. If you’re looking for the perfect analogy of the current state of America, this episode is for you. I’ve mentioned previously that the relationship between Heidi and Cartman is difficult to watch and for multiple reasons. When the two first got together, Heidi essentially held Cartman back from his terrible ways, thus making for boring television. Now, the ruthless old Cartman is back in action. Throughout the season, we have witnessed Cartman being outwardly despicable, manipulative, and downright menacing to his poor girlfriend. “Doubling Down” takes all of this to a new level of uncomfortable. This is the Cartman we all love to hate and have been missing. Arguably, “Doubling Down” is the cruelest we have seen Cartman since he tricked Scott Tenorman into eating his own parents. It’s funny to think the simple notion of an abusive relationship is more unsettling than grinding your enemy’s parents into chili. Cartman can literally kill people and not come off as despicable as he does in this episode because abusive relationships happen so often and to so many people the episode hits closer to home. It’s relatable and therefore more scary. While Cartman’s actions towards Heidi are certainly the focal point of the episode, all of this is a blatant allegory for the political atmosphere currently plaguing America. “Doubling Down” is largely a commentary on Trump’s quickly deteriorating popularity and the defensiveness of his supporters. The more Heidi is told Cartman is terrible, the more defensive she becomes. Is she stupid? Of course not. Cartman came into her life when she was at a low point. He seemed like a fix for her problems. After some reflection she can clearly see Cartman is awful, but when she is constantly ridiculed for the mistake of dating him, she refuses to prove her mockers right. This desire to maintain dignity makes her more vulnerable to Cartman’s manipulative nature and thus fall victim to the cycle of abuse. She would rather remain in a toxic, manipulative relationship than endure the constant ridicule of her peers. All of this is juxtaposed with sequences featuring President Garrison abusing his subordinates, obviously drawing a parallel to Cartman’s abuse of Heidi. Trey Parker and Matt Stone aren’t being vague here. They assert firmly that yes, President Garrison (Donald Trump) is a dangerous idiot to most people, but making people who did vote for Garrison (Trump) constantly the butt of some joke only makes them double down on their stances. To these voters, he had appeared at a time of vulnerability and preyed on that weakness, just as Cartman has done to Heidi. What’s so interesting is that no matter what side of the political spectrum you fall under, the narrative refrains from attacking one specific group more than the other. Garrison voters (Trump supporters) are viewed as dumb, but sympathetic. To Trey and Matt, yes, they made a dumb decision, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are stupid people. To contrast the supporters, those who voted against Garrison from the start lack empathy and refuse to abandon the attitude of “I told you so”. With an issue like this, it would be easy to take one side, but in typical South Park fashion, everyone is on the receiving end of criticism. The show asserts that right now, we are all in an abusive relationship with Mr. Garrison (Trump). “Doubling Down” is quick to remind us that the more we antagonize people for realizing a mistake and coming forward, the more likely they are to go back to their abuser. Featured image from South Park Archives