Video Game Review: “Owlboy” 

Russ Chapman

“Owlboy,”  released in late 2016, is a two-dimensional platforming adventure game. This game’s genre is not new by any stretch of the imagination, being similar to classics like the original “Super Mario Brothers” and “Sonic The Hedgehog” that released in the mid to late 1980’s or early 1990’s. So, what makes this game different? 

Most usually with the platformer genre, mastering the character’s mobility to navigate levels and puzzles is a key feature of gameplay, if not the entirety of the game. “Owlboy,” on the other hand, is a platformer where the mobility of your character is entirely a non-issue.  

The character plays as the young owl-boy named Otus. As would seem natural for an owl, Otus can fly. Flying makes moving through levels simple and a unique experience. However, the developers added difficulty to actually surviving through levels. 

The next noteworthy feature of gameplay is the combat system in the game. Otus is a simple character who relies on his friends to help him survive the hostile lands traversed in the game. There are three different friends that Otus can carry into battle and call upon to help him in the world. Each of them brings different combat abilities and strategies to fend off a variety of enemies and bosses.  

The combat is made interesting by the noticeable lack of platforming mentioned earlier. Otus can fly high into the air in a boss room to avoid damage, seemingly, a quite useful skill. However, if he fails to dodge the opponents attacks then he will be dazed and begin to plummet from the sky. When this failure happens, the friend being carried is dropped and the additional combat abilities are lost. Otus also takes damage from hitting the walls or from falling all the way to the ground, also extending the daze. Therefore, positioning and moving are very significant in combat. 

A brief comment on the artistic aspects of the game: the style is in a voxel art with simplified character models and environments. This art style lends itself well to fantasy environments, allowing for vibrant colors and unique designs. The environment is paired with a retro style music fitting the graphical theme, which only improved the quality of gameplay. 

Overall the game-play aspects of “Owlboy” are very well done. The controls are comfortable, and the abilities feel unique from other games within the genre. The combat is enjoyably difficult without being overly punishing, a difficult combination to achieve. The game is, all-in-all, a pleasure to play. 

Diversions Featured Features Reviews

Column of Whatever: Hard Video Games Make Life Fun 

John Mills
Diversions Editor 

In this third installment of the Column of Whatever, I felt like talking about video games—since I’ve never talked about those before (ignoring all the video game reviews I’ve written, cough cough). I have an entirely consequence-free confession to make: I like hard video games.

This will make sense in a moment. Anyhow, the latest Call of Duty game released in the last couple weeks and it’s gone back to WWII, which reminded me of my favorite WWII shooter on the market: Rising Storm/Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad.

That’s a complicated title, due in large part to the fact that it’s actually two games packaged together. Rising Storm is the Pacific theater add-on for the Eastern Front focused Red Orchestra. They are sold together through Steam for $19.99. 

In any event, Red Orchestra has garnered a well earned reputation for absurd difficulty, brutal realism, and addictively satisfying gameplay when you get over the initial difficulties. For those experienced with multi-player first person shooter games, you are probably familiar with the concept of a kill-to-death ratio, that most sacred of metrics to measure player ability with.

The more kills you get per death, the better you are at the game. It’s a simple to understand metric that has been popular since the release of the first player-versus-player shooters. Red Orchestra simply laughs at the concept. The in-match player list records each player’s team points, individual points, and kills.

For anyone coming into the game as a new player, you will likely die five or more times for every kill you get, depending on your experience with shooters in general. Aside from that, it is a truly enjoyable game, if dying often is your thing. 

Red Orchestra is not the only difficult game I adore. In the same vein, there is Verdun, a WWI shooter with similar traits, such as accurate weapon performance and terrifyingly quick deaths.

I have also found an abiding love for realistic simulators like Falcon 4.0 BMS or DCS, both highly detailed flight simulators. Flight sims are something I expect many at this school have a deep familiarity with, for obvious reasons.

Other games in my collection that have more of a learning cliff than curve are Dangerous Waters—a high-fidelity submarine simulator—and Rogue System, which is a space simulator in the style of “every-button-is-usuable” flight simulators.

Rogue System also accurately portrays the challenges of navigating in space, with equally accurate orbital mechanics. To start a ship from just reserve battery power in Rogue System requires a solid ten minutes and a checklist that would put a real-world light aircraft to shame. It’s a fantastic feeling the first time you start up a ship from reserve power and everything works as it should.  

It would be reasonable at this point to ask “Why?” To that, I would have to say I don’t totally know, just that when I see something described as “realistic,” I immediately become interested. 

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Classic Game Review: Star Wars Battlefront II (2005) 

By Garrett Palmquist
Copy Editor

In light of recent events in the video game industry (namely Electronic Arts reducing a legendary “Star Wars” game series to a pay-to-win money-grabbing scheme), it seems apt to return to one of the greatest “Star Wars” games of all time: the original Star Wars Battlefront II (BF2). 

Many gamers who are now in their twenties remember BF2 with fondness—it was the perfect “Star Wars” first-person shooter that allowed players to relive the greatest battles of the series. BF2 was originally released just a few months after “Star Wars: Episode III” in 2005, catching the international “Star Wars” hype and riding it to commercial success.

And now, with Disney pumping out new “Star Wars” movies, a fresh wave of desire for new games has gripped the world. Sadly, the call for the next great game set in a galaxy far, far away was heeded by Electronic Arts. 

Electronic Arts is responsible for the newest entry into the series—unoriginally dubbed “Star Wars Battlefront II,” with the only differentiation in title being the release date.

This updated version includes expensive microtransactions that have reduced the legendary game series to a pay-to-win scheme designed to abuse fans’ desires to play as their favorite characters in order to justify expensive loot crates.

While Electronic Arts has temporarily scrapped the idea of microtransactions, it is worth noting their original logic (based on a post from a “Star Wars” fansite): 

Should a player wish to unlock every part of the game, including the heroes, by actually playing the game, it will require at least 4,528 hours of playtime. That’s six months of playing. 

Should a player wish to unlock every part of the game, including the heroes, by purchasing loot boxes, the estimated cost is around $2,100. 

Compare this to BF2 from 2005—the focus of this review—which is currently $9.99 on Steam for every map, upgrade, and hero, and the choice becomes obvious. 

BF2 from 2005 (which will be the topic of the remainder of this review, for clarity’s sake) recently resurged in popularity as Microsoft reopened the 64-player PC servers for the game in late Oct. 2017. Thousands of players have returned to the game—myself included.

Recent first-person player-versus-player shooters have made me soft, it seems, as BF2 can be unforgiving. A well-balanced squad with effective communication is required in order to seize the day—the types of players that many modern multiplayer games are lacking in (I’m looking at you, Overwatch).  

Players have their choice of six classes, including a unique hero, on each map. Play in the era of the Republic or the Galactic Empire, with era-appropriate characters, heroes, and vehicles at your disposal. Take Naboo as the droid army CIS, or rewrite galactic history and have the Rebellion take over the Death Star.

Galactic Conquest, the fan favorite mode that plays out like a strategy game mixed in with first-person shooting, makes a triumphant return as well. In addition, support for player mods is still active, opening up the fight to thousands of player-made maps. 

In one of the first games I played in the new multiplayer, 15 Yoda’s leaped and Force pushed their way through the desert streets of Tatooine.

Where else can you find a dozen-or-more tiny green aliens somersaulting in the air and yelling incoherently? Battlefront II from 2005, that’s where—once again available on PC for a fraction of what the legendary game is truly worth. 

Diversions Entertainment Opinions Reviews

“Dangerous Jumps” Gives a Fun Listen 

By James Ritchey

The rap supergroup Doomtree first formed in Minneapolis in the early 2000s, intending to bring together the best hip-hop artists in the Midwest. In 2008, the seven-member group, (composed of Sims, POS, Mike Mictlan, Dessa, Cecil Otter, Paper Tiger, and Lazerbeak) released their first full album, and since then, each of these artists has split their time between solo and group projects.

The latest such project is Shredders, a group composed of rappers POS and Sims, and produced by Lazerbeak and Paper Tiger. As artists who are well acquainted with each other already, Shredders clearly play to their strengths on “Dangerous Jumps,” their debut album. 

“Dangerous Jumps” was first announced on Sept. 6, releasing their first single from the album (“Flipping Cars”) on the same day. A short EP containing three songs was released shortly after, and served as a teaser to Doomtree fans until the full album was released on Nov. 3.  

“Dangerous Jumps” opens with “Tuf Tiddy,” a hard pounding track reminiscent of any other Doomtree record. Following that are “Flipping Cars,” “Cult 45,” and “Xanthrax,” each of which boast a fast-paced beat accompanied by the semi-coherent ramblings of POS and Sims.

The album slows down with “Fly as I Dare” and “Calm/Sane,” which contrast with the rest of the album to the point it feels as if they were forced into the track list. Mike Mictlan is featured on two tracks, “Style Boys” and “Heater Season,” which further blurs the line between Shredders and a regular Doomtree album.

The album ends with another two softer tracks, “Lion’s Mouth” and “Heater Season.” “Dangerous Jumps” reaches its climax fairly quickly, with its early tracks being so loud that later tracks tend to blur together.  

Overall, “Dangerous Jumps” contains very few lyrics of any substance, but when listening, one probably will not notice due to the superb production. Without being held back by other rappers, both producers have used full artistic freedom to create interesting, heavy backings to each track, and each song still feels unique.  

The Doomtree fan base has come to expect hard-hitting tracks of minimal depth, and “Dangerous Jumps” delivers just that.

In a time when underground rap has been almost exclusively political in nature, Shredders have found a setting to have fun and steer their genre back to where it has been in the past. The longest track on the record clocks in at just 3:35, differing greatly from the nine-minute epics on some of both POS and Sims’ solo albums.

Whether or not the Shredders project continues or just folds back into the Doomtree collective, “Dangerous Jumps” will likely remain a steadfast favorite for driving and workout playlists, while creating another standard for the underground rap scene.  

Audio Diversions Entertainment Featured Features Reviews

Restaurant Review: Kiyoshi Ramen ‘N’ More

By: Reece Cabanas

Prescott, Arizona is not exactly known for its ethnic cuisine when compared to major metropolis areas such as Los Angeles or San Francisco. However, positioned on the corner of a small shopping center is a family-owned and operated business that brings the tastes of Hawaiian-American cuisine to this former Wild West town.

Kiyoshi Ramen ‘N’ More opened just over a year ago, establishing a location between Iron Springs and Willow Creek Roads in the Willow Creek Village shopping center. The drive from campus is approximately eleven minutes, making for a quick go-to for lunch between classes or a light dinner option.

Hawaiian food has been transformed by a variety of ethnic backgrounds which have, at some point, had a heavy influence on the Hawaiian Islands and their people. Some of the more notable influences come from China, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, and Portugal. Local food became a mix of these different cuisines and the traditional plate lunch was soon turned into the fusion cuisine now familiar to the world.

So, what is on the menu?

Starting with appetizers, there are a few items to choose from. There is the Filipino lumpia, a spring roll filled with pork and vegetables, and Japanese Gyoza, a pan-fried pot sticker. Most notable is the regular and deep-fried Spam Musubi which consists of rice formed in a rectangular fashion, a slice of canned spam, and seaweed to wrap everything together.

There are numerous options available for the main entrée. Order a bento box for on the go, or sit down and enjoy the local favorites in house. The list includes chicken katsu, teriyaki beef, teriyaki chicken, fried noodles, fried rice, or seared salmon or tuna.

Also offered is what is known as a poke bowl. This consists of green onion, Japanese seaweed, raw fish, and rice, combined with other ingredients to the customer’s liking.

Kiyoshi Ramen ‘N’ More would not be able to live up to its name if ramen was not on the menu. Customers can choose from a wide variety of options such as broth, flavor, noodle type, and toppings to create a satisfying blend of aroma and taste. A fair warning, however: eating an entire bowl of ramen can be extremely filling, so be careful not to overdo it on the side dishes.

Finally, top off any meal with Japanese mochi ice cream or a Boba drink from one of twenty-five flavors. If you happen to come on a Friday night, there is also live entertainment to sit back, relax, and enjoy.

In conclusion, along with the friendly staff and reasonable wait times on orders, Kiyoshi Ramen ‘N’ More is a light-hearted place to indulge in Hawaiian fusion cuisine. While some of the prices may be slightly daunting for the average college student, the atmosphere and food quality is well worth the trade-off.


Diversions Reviews Student Interest

Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses

By: Rachael Merkt
Copy Editor

Fans of the “Throne of Glass” series rejoice; Sarah J. Maas has done it again. Maas takes readers back into her world of extravagance, adventure, and magic in “A Court of Thorns and Roses,” introducing a new female heroine with instincts that help her survive and a heart that saves her.

The series begins with 19 year old huntress, Feyre. Her family is restricted to a less than livable income and Feyre is forced to venture into the woods and teach herself how to hunt at a young age.

Despite her situation, Feyre is in love with the colors of the world she can paint and refuses to give up on the small dream she has allowed herself to imagine.

Living with two oppressing sisters and a crippled father, Feyre dreams of the day her sisters are married off and it is just her and her father and a few painting supplies she could afford without her sister’s needs in the household. But Feyre’s dream is shattered.

The world Feyre resides in lives in fear of the Fae, an immortal race of magical beings that has wreaked havoc upon the human race. When Feyre encounters an immortal Fae in the form of a wolf, the hatred in her heart does not let her think twice about shooting the creature down. But for every action, there is a reaction.

Maas takes readers on an unpredictable journey through the pages of “A Court of Thorns and Roses.” With every plot twist, the book leaves readers wondering what could possibly happen next.

Feyre’s killing of the wolf leads her to a meeting with Tamlin, one of the immortals who destroyed her ancestor’s world. Feyre makes a deal with Tamlin in order to save herself, reside with him on his estate for the rest of her mortal life in payment of the life she took.

But Feyre learns that her captivity is more freedom than she has ever had, and that Tamlin’s kindness can lead to a desiring heart. As Feyre spends her time with the immortals, she learns that there are bigger and darker forces at work in her world, threatening not only the immortals, but the humans.

Guided with a yearning to know more and a growing desire to protect Tamlin, Feyre finds her way into the heart of the evil, and learns that she may be the only one who can break the bond that has wreaked a havoc upon the Fae and will soon capture her own realm as well.

Maas tells yet another incredible story of survival, bravery, and the true sacrifices that one must make in the name of love.

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Sweden Study Abroad Experience Part 2: Daily Life

By: Noa Brown


In the previous issue of “Horizons,” I shared my thoughts and feelings while travelling from San Francisco, California to Stockholm, Sweden for my study abroad last summer. For this issue, I will share my experiences in Stockholm.

During the month of my stay, I came to know the city of Stockholm inside and out. Stockholm is located on the east coast of Sweden. It resides within an archipelago, meaning it is made up of numerous small islands interconnected by bridges, tunnels, and ferries.

Being on an archipelago, there was an end less variety of beautiful vintage boats. I would spot them all along the waterfronts of each island.

I remember I would go for daily jogs along the waterfronts where I would find wooden sailing trawlers, steam powered tugboats and vintage ferries lined up as far I could see. Over time, I got to know each ship by name and recognized each of them for their uniqueness.

One of Stockholm’s key achievements, I believe, is its public transportation network. One single membership pass (prepaid in the program fees) allowed unlimited access to all three of the city’s major systems.

My classmates and I used the Tunnelbana (TBana) most often, which is Stockholm’s metro. The TBana covers a large portion of the city. The few parts of Stockholm out of the TBana’s reach could be accessed by the bus or ferry.

Our apartment complex was only a block away from the nearest TBana station, which we would use to get to the stop at the entrance of our host university.

Before long I figured out how to use my public transportation pass to navigate myself to anywhere I wanted to go in Stockholm. Since I have never owned my own car, this was the first time I had ever made my way around without having to ask for a ride.

It was freedom on a whole new level for me that I had not even experienced in Prescott. Stockholm is also rich with museums.

Our first weekend in Stockholm, I got to visit the Vasa museum. The Vasa was a double decked warship launched by the Swedish Navy in 1628 in Stockholm. On her maiden voyage, the Vasa was only able to cover about one kilometer before her gun ports let in water and she sank.

Miraculously, the ship was rediscovered in the 1950’s and salvaged by 1960. Her restoration has been a work in progress in the years since.

I found the architecture of the city to be very beautiful. Each of the buildings were painted different bright colors ranging from orange to white to green. Much of the roads and sidewalks were made of cobblestone.

While uneven on the feet, I found it to be a rather pleasant change from the bland concrete and asphalt normally found in the United States.

Our host school, the Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan (KTH) which translates to Royal Institute of Technology, had a very attractive look to its campus as well. Most of the buildings were made of red brick and rose at least three stories high each.

Many of them had enormous smokestacks that would protrude at least six stories up, reminiscent of the Industrial Revolution.

The quad on campus was elegantly decorated with many green, well-kept lawns and neatly trimmed bushes. When the weather was ideal, students would sit out on the lawns to do their homework.

Our professor and program leader, Dr. Crisler, attempted to get all the students meal plans at the KTH’s cafeteria. However, he was never able to do so and we needed to buy our own food for each meal.

Fortunately, finding good food, while expensive, was not at all difficult. About twice a week after I was done with class, I would go shopping on my way back to the apartment.

Throughout my time in Stockholm, I found three different grocery stores I liked. There were two stores called Coop. One was in the TBana station by my apartment and the other was a few blocks away.

They were both convenient if I did not have much time and needed quick easy groceries. The third store was called Lydl which I needed to take the TBana to get to. I found I liked the variety of food at Lydl a little more. Therefore, if I had the time, I would make the extra effort to shop at Lydl.

For dinner, I primarily bought different microwavable meals from the grocery stores. For most of my breakfasts, however, I cooked my own food using the apartment’s kitchen.

It was in that apartment kitchen where I cooked my first omelet. I taught myself based off what I saw one of the Embry-Riddle cafeteria chefs do. Before the study abroad, I had hardly ever cooked before.

Having to cook for myself made me much more comfortable using a kitchen. Since then, I have ventured off to cooking more complicated meals and it has since become quite a passion of mine.

No matter where I shopped, I could always find fresh baked bread and pastries. Additionally, in general, fresh produce in Europe has far fewer preservatives than that in the United States if any at all.

Having no preservatives in the food became a double-edged sword for me. While food with no preservatives is far healthier, I found that it spoils much more quickly. Consequently, I could never buy food in bulk and I had to be sure to use up all my food within a few days forcing me to shop often.

I learned at my stay in Stockholm that the Fika, or coffee break, is a very important part of the Swedish daily life. Unsurprisingly, Stockholm has a plethora of coffee shops throughout the city.

One notable chain that greatly surprised me was 7-Eleven. As most know in the United States, 7-Eleven is dismissed as cheap and low quality.

Ironically in Sweden however, the pastries served at 7-Eleven were all fresh baked in the shop. Many also had delicious salad bars and decent coffee as well.

My classmates and I also enjoyed two other coffee chains during our stay. One was called Espresso House.

The closest one was next door to our local TBana station. With a dimly lit and rustic styled interior, it had a very cozy feel to it and I would enjoy having breakfast there on weekends.

The other coffee chain was Wayne’s Coffee. Wayne’s Coffee was right across the street from our apartment. Thanks to both its generous spacing and how close it was, it made a perfect study location.

My classmates and I showed up so often that the baristas eventually began to recognize us and we all became good friends.

My daily life and routines while living in Stockholm really helped me build a sense of independence which really helped me prepare for adult life. In the next issue, I will share my experiences studying solid and fluid mechanics.


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