The Walking Dead Issue #144 – Review

The Walking Dead – Issue #144:…The-Walking-Dead-144

This review will contain some spoilers of Issue #144.

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Rick is lead into the Whisperer camp, where he finds Carl safe. But Carl is adamant that he won’t leave without Lydia. Alpha introduces herself, bloody machete in hand, and brings Rick to the top of a nearby building….showing him the horde of walkers she’ll unleash on his people if they don’t stay away.

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Review

The Walking Dead Issue #144
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist(s): Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano, Cliff Rathburn

Wow, what a cliff hanger the last issue left us – the top of a building with nothing but walkers as far as the eye could see, herded like cattle, thanks to the whisperers. I couldn’t wait to read the following issue. Rick had to tackle human monsters like the Governor and Negan, but no one like Alpha. With the Governor and Negan, it was basically man vs man. Civilization (Gov and Negan’s interpretation of one) vs Rick’s. But with Alpha, things are different. The Whisperers have a unique skill in herding the walkers as if they were their own, which gives them a huge advantage against Rick’s group. Alpha could pretty much gather them as she sees fit and sick’em on her enemies.

While Rick is impressed, he doesn’t budge, still doing the ‘old tough guy’ look. When Rick and Alpha come down, they begin to talk and Alpha attempts to explain her ways of living in the post-apocalyptic world. The Whisperers go primal and channel their animal instincts. The simple Alpha and Beta way of life. She is the leader and the Whisperers follow. During the walk to the Whisperer camp, Alpha goes on to say that her group had left no room for weakness and that the only way to survive in the world is through strength. Any sign of weakness was not acceptable. All emotions that did not aid in the survival of the world, was to be cut off.

However, Lydia has seen the ways Rick and his group work and how they help one another, in a more pre-apocalyptic way. Lydia confronts Alpha and wants to go back to Rick’s group, and in the process lashes at Alpha for letting the other whisperers take advantage of her, a concept that even Alpha has cut off as a negative thing, chalking it up to primal instincts. In the end, Alpha sees that Lydia is not fit for the Whisperers world and desires to live in the world before all this happened, and tells Rick to take her back to his, with tears in her eyes.

I really enjoyed the conversation between Rick and Alpha. It appears that Alpha has been playing this role for so long, she is closer and closer to going passed a point of no return. Any sign of weakness, like Lydia calling her mother, appears to bring her back to who she was for a split second, before returning to the role of Alpha. In the final moments of the conversation, Alpha cries, after releasing her daughter to Rick.

I was taken aback by this moment, and had to do a double check to see that Alpha was indeed crying. Robert Kirkman does what he does best and shows that before all this, like all the other characters, she was a human being, who was a mother. As much as she plays the tough Alpha dog role, deep down she still wants what is best for her daughter.

After Alpha releases Rick, Carl and Lydia from the camp, she leaves with the note that she has ‘marked our border’. Rick’s fears, concerning the bloody machete, were valid, as the border was created, but I’ll leave that part for you to read. Eventually, you will hear about it, given that San Diego Comic Con is happening right now and, well, the internet.

While the ending was really gruesome, I don’t think it had the same impact on me as what happened to Glenn. The panel by panel shots were done really well, showing you what was happening in the sunny, grassy fields, back to Alexandria and the festival. All I can say is, the last panel, is paving the way for possibly a bigger war than the All Out War event we had last year. The issue just left with so many, ‘what ifs’ and ‘what is going to happen nows’ that you really can’t tell where this is going to go. Will Rick fight Alpha, or respect the border? Most likely, Rick will fight Alpha in a new war, but at what cost to Alexandria and the fragile civilization they have created?

Rating: 4 out of 5
Summary
Great dialogue, shocking turn of events and a big cliffhanger leaving you to want more. If your following The Walking Dead, get this issue now, because it will sell out fast. 

What did you think of Issue 144? Comment and Share!

Top 5 Super Mario Games – Number 1 – Super Mario 64 (1996)

Top 5 Super Mario Bros Video Games

I recently got a wave of nostalgia after finding my old Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), buried in the boxes of my childhood. Waves of memories flooded my head of the endless hours jumping as Super Mario, hacking and slashing as Link in The Legend of Zelda and saving Pauline from DK in Donkey Kong. My heart skips thinking of those 8-bit pixelated days and seeing how far we have come from pixelated blocks and bleeps and bloops to high definition graphics and orchestrated soundtracks.

I plugged the NES in, and after blowing in the cartridge and trying to get the game to work for 10 mins (ah the good old days), I finally got one of my favorite games, Super Mario Bros 3, to work. While playing Super Mario Bros 3, jumping around on turtle shells, flying with a raccoon tail and pointy ears, it hit me on the head, “Do a Top 5 list for Super Mario”.

Number 2 was Super Mario Bros 3, the classic game that concluded the Mario trilogy on the NES before the Brooklyn plumber moved onto the SNES. Finally, our number 1 in the Top 5 countdown skips the SNES and moves to the N64. The Mario game that changed Mario games, Super Mario 64!

Number 1: Super Mario 64 (1996)

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Now before I go on even talking about this game, I must admit that I simply LOVE this game. How could anyone growing up in the 90s NOT like this game? To give a quick recap, video games were changing very rapidly, and one of those big changes was going from 2D to 3D. 3D gaming was a big thing in the 90s (We called it Virtual Reality. Seems like an ancient term nowadays.).

If you wanted to experience any kind of 3D gaming in the 90s, you had to go to the arcade, where you were strapped into these bulky, heavy machines, and wear a really heavy visor on your head. The graphics weren’t great to begin with. I remember going into one of these machines and all I can say is I felt the same way I did when I tried the Virtual Boy – headaches and my eyes were in pain. Oh, and one more thing, they weren’t cheap either. I remember them being around $5-$10 to play! Back then, that was all your arcade money!

This was state of the art tech in the 90s.....

This was state of the art tech in the 90s…..

Anyway, I digress. 3D gaming was coming to the home console, and everyone was eager to see what Nintendo had in store. Mario was all about going from left to right. What would Nintendo do in the 3D world? Well, all I can say is watch the video below……

Tell me when you first saw this that you knew already this game was going to be awesome. Not only was Mario in 3D, HE TALKED! IT-SA-MIIII MARIO! I thought it was the coolest thing I ever saw in games. Nintendo didn’t stop there warping our tiny little brains. Once your pressed start, you had a brief scene of Princess Peach inviting Mario to come to the castle. A warp pipe would come out from the ground, and Mario emerged from the pipe with all the energy and excitement we could process.

I remember when I first played Super Mario 64, I didn’t go into the castle at first. I just ran around the outside, to see what was there. I would walk up the road to the castle, to the green, grass areas surrounding the castle, to even swimming in the moat. I was just amazed. Mario wasn’t limited to going left or right. He was able to go 360 degrees. After I processed the fact that I was now free to move in all directions, I made my way to the castle, and went on the adventure Nintendo created.

Princess Peach's castle in Super Mario 64.

Princess Peach’s castle in Super Mario 64.

This game featured a lot of firsts, both in gameplay and design. What Super Mario Bros 3 did for Mario’s 2D scrolling adventures, Mario 64 created the template for Mario’s 3D adventures. First, the camera angles. The camera positioning in this game was near perfect. I don’t believe it was ever done like this before. In games like Resident Evil, the room you were in was set in an angle where you couldn’t freely see everything that was going on. If you were trying to pick up an item and it was lodged in an awkward corner, you couldn’t adjust the camera to view the item. In Super Mario 64, you had free control of the camera. You were able to pan it left or right to view Mario’s surroundings, and it would automatically straighten out for you wherever you were, to give you the best possibly vantage point.

Another new ability in the gameplay was upgrading the jumping. In Mario’s past games, the most you could do was jump, and holding onto the button long enough determined the height of the jump. Now, you could jump and build momentum to do a super jump. You could kick jump from one wall onto the next, eventually climbing your way up to the top! Power-ups were back, though most of the ones we knew from Mario’s past were absent in this installment. The majority of them were replaced by Cap power-ups.

One was the wing cap, which added wings on Mario’s cap to make him fly. Another was a metal cap, to turn Mario into Metal Mario. This could be used to help you sink to the bottom of a water stage for more control underwater. Last, there was the vanishing cap, which gave Mario the ability to go through certain walls. I remember finding the flying cap in the first stage of Mario 64, and I just flew around half the time in the stage. I didn’t care to get the star just yet. I wanted to explore every nook and cranny of this stage. Collecting the stars was another first for gameplay. Before, you just had to complete a stage and move onto the next one. Now, you had to collect stars to advance to another floor in the castle. There was a total of 120 stars to collect in the game. That was a lot of stars when you think about it.

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Mario, flying in a desert stage with the Wing Cap.

To recap, Super Mario 64 is the number 1 Mario game of all time. It paved the way for the design of other Mario games to come, such as a central hub (in this case, a castle). We would see this in Super Mario Sunshine, where the central hub was a resort, and Super Mario Galaxy, which was Rosalina’s spaceship. Characters also made a lasting impression. Metal Mario has appeared in several spin off games, like Super Smash Bros or Mario Kart. It’s also possible that Peach ‘baking a cake for Mario’, as stated in the letter in the beginning of the game, created Easter Eggs in NON-Nintendo titles. Portal’s “The cake is a lie” is one possible connection.

The game allowed you to explore the Mushroom Kingdom’s castle in 3D. You could look around at your leisure, see what you wanted to see. Wanted to collect more stars to advance in the game? Go right ahead. Wanted to take a break and find the secret goodies in the castle? Knock yourself out. It allowed almost complete control of what you wanted to do in the game. All without the big, bulky, virtual reality helmet.

So that’s my number 1 pick in my Top 5 Super Mario Bros games. What did you think? Do you think another Mario title deserved the top spot? Was there a title not found on this list that you think deserves an honorable mention? Comment and share! Until next time, “LET’SA GO!’

Top 5 Super Mario Games – Number 2 – Super Mario Bros 3 (1988)

Top 5 Super Mario Bros Video Games

I recently got a wave of nostalgia after finding my old Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), buried in the boxes of my childhood. Waves of memories flooded my head of the endless hours jumping as Super Mario, hacking and slashing as Link in The Legend of Zelda and saving Pauline from DK in Donkey Kong. My heart skips thinking of those 8-bit pixelated days and seeing how far we have come from pixelated blocks and bleeps and bloops to high definition graphics and orchestrated soundtracks.

I plugged the NES in, and after blowing in the cartridge and trying to get the game to work for 10 mins (ah the good old days), I finally got one of my favorite games, Super Mario Bros 3, to work. While playing Super Mario Bros 3, jumping around on turtle shells, flying with a raccoon tail and pointy ears, it hit me on the head, “Do a Top 5 list for Super Mario”.

Number 3 was the cosmic star studded modern classic, Super Mario Galaxy. Number 2 is taking ups a couple of decades back to the NES days to a time when we were still getting to the know the Mushroom Kingdom and the Super Mario Universe. Number 3 is……

Number 2: Super Mario Bros 3 (1988)

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Super Mario Bros 3 was the game that has had a lasting impact in how future games were going to be made. One key example was the world map. With SMB 1 and 2, you were pretty much just given the next stage to go to after completing one. Finished World 1-1 in Super Mario Bros? Well, guess what the next stage was going to be next – World 1-2. Same thing can be said for Super Mario Bros 2, the only difference was you were able to choose your character before continue onto the next stage. You were able to choose either Mario, Luigi, Princess Toadstool or Toad. However, for Super Mario Bros 3, you were given a World Map to select the next stage.

Super Mario Bros 3 Title Screen

Super Mario Bros 3 Title Screen

With the world map, you were given the choice of which stage you wanted to play next to advance in the world. Some stages were necessary to progress to the next world. Other stages, however, were more of an add on, and when you completed the stage, it could lead to either a mushroom home, where you were given a random power up, or it could have been a secret passage. One example that really stands out to me was in World 2.

In World 2, on the top right corner of the map, there was a boulder that you were able to crack to reveal a secret path. All you needed was a hammer to break the boulder, which you would get from one of the mushroom houses mentioned earlier. There would be a Red Hammer bro lurking in this secret path. If you challenged him, and defeated him, he would drop a magic flute. This flute could be used to help you skip a few worlds to help you advance closer to World 8. As a kid, finding this secret pathway AND the flute only made me wonder what little secrets this game was hiding in each of the world maps.

Another fantastic feature was the item holder. In the world map view, before entering a stage, you were given the opportunity to select a power up item you were holding that you collected from the Mushroom houses. Wanted to be Tanooki Mario before entering a stage? All you needed was a leaf before selecting the stage. Also, while the mushroom, the fire flower, and the star was back for SMB 3, there were also all new power ups in this game that we never saw before. There was the frog suit, that helped you control swimming much easier in water stages, and the hammer bros suit, where you could be the one throwing hammers! How many times did we want to be a hammer brother after the frustration they put us through in the first Mario game?

Mario gliding in the air with the Tanooki Power up.

Mario gliding in the air with the Tanooki Power up.

The one power up that had a lasting impact was the Tanookie leaf. With the leaf, you were transformed into a half-human, half-raccoon flying plumber (quite possibly the only time that sentence makes sense). Being given the ability to make Mario fly was the most rewarding satisfaction you were given playing a Mario game. It was so popular that future games, in one way or another, had Mario flying, whether it was a power feather from Super Mario World. or a flying cap in Super Mario 64

As with previous Mario titles, new characters were introduced to us in the Mushroom Kingdom world. With SMB 3, it was the first time we learn that Bowser is actually a father! Yes! A dad! He has not one, two, or three kids, but seven kids. You heard me, SEVEN. My only question is, who’s the mother? I hate to imagine it is Princess Toadstool. If so, where’s Maury Povich when you need him to confirm this? Anyway, the seven Koopa kids were a welcome addition to the Mario series. In the previous two titles, Mario 1 had you against Bowser at the end of each world, only to finally beat him in World 8. When you think about it, at the end of each world, Bowser fell in a pit of lava. How many clones could he have of himself? The Koopa Kids was a logical way to have a Bowser like character at the end of each stage, with each Koopa Kid having a unique identity.

Gameplay, it’s classic Mario. Mario jumps from platform to platform, to reach the end of the stage and advance in the world you are exploring, with new abilities to aid you on your quest. In this game, instead of jumping to see how high you can reach on a pole, you were given a little mini game to see what card you get after completing a stage. It was sort of like playing slots. Complete three stages, you would see your results. If you got 3 of a kind, you won some 1-ups, depending on the cards you got. If you got a mix-match of cards, you got a 1-up. It was a win-win, no matter what you got.

Classic Mario tunes that get stuck in your head were back, and you know you were humming them after putting down the game from playing 8 hours. Some of the tunes would make a return as an easter egg in other games. Take a look at the videos below.

Concluding, Super Mario Bros 3 is one of the best Mario games to be released by Nintendo. It has a lasting legacy and was a foundation in how other Mario games were to be developed. It has been re-released on numerous platforms such as SNES in an anniversary collection, Game Boy Advance, and even as downloadable content on the Wii and DS. Only goes to show that this game is much loved by Nintendo and fans alike, decades later.

So that is my number 2 in my Top 5 list. What do you think? Should it have been number 1? I will be revealing my top Mario game real soon. In the meantime, comment and share your thoughts!