I just watched Upgrade on Netflix and overall its a really fun and enjoyable movie that brought back some nostalgia from the late 90s for me. Some of you might recall some of the older gun films like Christian Bale’s excellent yet often forgotten Equilibrium or films in a similar vein from the 80s and 90s? For those of you that are fans of this type of movie this will be right up your alley.

With Upgrade, you have a Luddite in a very interesting future with self-driving car technology everywhere and drone surveillance along with evil cyborgs and more. He just happens to be a mechanic and engineer who restores old vehicles which is how we meet him. He’s busy building a new car for a tech billionaire who has just happened to develop a new hardware chip that will provide humans with great abilities. Basically an “Upgrade” to our current capabilities and will let us work with computers in ways we’ve not yet even considered.

While initially dismissing the functions of the chip Grey and his wife are traveling home when they are forced off the road as their self-driving car seems to have a malfunction. They end up in a bad area of the neighborhood where Grey’s wife ends up being shot along with Grey himself. Grey survives the shooting but wakes up to find himself in the hospital as a quadriplegic and Aaron – the tech billionaire offers a solution where he can implant Grey with his chip to solve or to return him to functionality. Unfortunately, the “mugging” left his wife dead.

While the police seem to have all the tech in the world they are unable to find the killers and Grey eventually comes succumbs to temptation and has the chip implanted. Very quickly the situation changes as the chip is much more than it seems. When it starts to talk to Grey the situation changes dramatically as does the story itself.

Grey eventually starts to search for his wife’s killers and he is a comedic ninja in his performance. The way he moves and acts is exceptionally good while at the same time being very robotic as it should be. Over time we find that the individuals who actually killed his wife were also upgraded and suspicion is initially pointed towards Grey’s wife’s company. I won’t ruin the ending for you as I do think that this is worth watching. However, I do think that there are a couple of glaring holes that should have been addressed.

— spoilers below —

  • If Grey was actually the target then why was Eron trying to shut off Stem in the first place? Would it not make more sense to let it take control as it was intending to do?
  • If Eron was being controlled right from the beginning why did he implant Stem with the restrictions that were there?
  • When Jamie talks about not letting them win who’s she talking about? What does she know?

I hope you get this a chance to give this one a shot as I really did enjoy it and I would recommend it for anyone looking to waste some time.

It’s extreme frisbee, it’s Pong revolutionized, it’s air hockey all in one, played on an entirely different atmosphere and pace. Disc Jam, the 2017 title courtesy of High Horse Entertainment, is an arcade game of air hockey combined with tennis.  

It’s extreme frisbee, it’s Pong revolutionized, it’s air hockey all in one, played on an entirely different atmosphere and pace. Disc Jam, the 2017 title courtesy of High Horse Entertainment, is an arcade game of air hockey combined with tennis.  

The two-man team consisting of Jay Mattis and Timothy Rapp are known for their art, animation and engineering, expertise that could very well separate good games from great ones. Disc Jam, although small in content, packs quite a punch with addicting combos and versatile characters. 

Fixed at a third-person perspective, with a long vertical camera angle to boot, players must continuously rally a disc, or a frisbee if you prefer, between one or two other players. The goal is similar to tennis but, of course, with a few twists and turns.

On your mark

Players must try to score on the opposing side by either launching the disc all the way to the end zone or by lobbying it on the ground. This, in turn, means that all players must do everything they possibly can to keep the disc afloat and out of harm’s way. Mere child’s play in concept, for sure, but extremely hard to execute.

The game is meant for casual gamers and those who instantly want to pick up a title without the hassle of learning all the mechanics. With that being said, however, the level of play can rise significantly when given a decent amount of time to practice angles and learn the character’s tendency.

Players have a variety of different throws including spin shots, curve shots, alleys and bankers. The many ways a rally can unfold can lead to intense, palm sweat-inducing plays which may leave users in sudden awe, disbelief, excitement and even frustration. The sheer joy of coming back and winning from a 40 point deficit, or continuously tricking the opponent with your web of cradle shots should be enough to keep the majority of the game’s population intact and eager to play.  

Although unpredictability is a staple and ongoing theme most sports genre games have, there was one noticeable flaw that deterred some players from Disc Jam. In its early stages, Disc Jam, understandably so, offered a slim cast of four characters to choose and control from. As you may have guessed, each of those characters possesses different attributes that tend to certain playstyles, which is an absolute must-have to maintain balanced matchups. The game has since added the heavy-set Kahuna and Lannie, the all-arounder.

All in the wrist

The disc is enveloped in a spiral of purple pixels, an indication that a quick throw is coming your way. Almost as if it were a glitch in the game’s mechanics, the disc travels so quickly, bouncing every which way before it reaches its destination—your end zone. Tracking the disc is one thing, but to move your character accordingly is a challenging yet rewarding task. The only hope for players on the receiving end of a purple throw is to anticipate which side of the court the disc will land ahead of time, in other words, calculate how the disc will bounce off the sides.

Guessing as the sole option is not in Disc Jam’s best interest, especially when it’s aimed to be a balanced sports game. Fortunately for the studio, the game actively listens to the feedback from their players, allowing the developers to make the necessary adjustments before users protest with pitchforks and signs. 

All roads lead north

As mentioned before, Disc Jam is, more or less, catered towards casual gamers and perhaps even for mobile fans as well. The vibrant colour schemes and an assortment of wacky characters to choose from strikes a similar resemblance to the looks of Fortnite and Rocket League.

However, unlike those aforementioned titles, Disc Jam, will probably be reserved to just couch play. With laggy servers and a player base that is shrinking exponentially, It’s safe to say Disc Jam will not be a staple game in households worldwide, heck not even in North America. 

On the bright side, the game is rather young and the developers are still pushing out new content even today. Their latest update was the introduction of instant replays from various different angles and enabled LAN tournaments.

High Horse Entertainment has the privilege that big-name studio companies have lost years ago, and that is interacting with their player base on a personal level. The studio receives tons of feedback from their players through Twitter and Discord primarily. Users have the opportunity to express genuine changes or quality of life improvements to one of the developers actively available throughout the community. It is a grassroots type of relationship that gamers and developers should appreciate before it’s gone.

The game definitely needs some touch ups here and there, but nothing that screams out like total bust. As the game continues to mature, the rest of the community can rest easy knowing Mattis and Rapp are still involved in the project.

Yama no Susume or Encouragement of Climb showcases how even the best of friends get into fights from time to time. Regardless of how destructive or regretful these disputes pan out to be, a true friendship will always overcome any obstacle that comes in between them. This article will contain very mild spoilers for the 3rd season of Yama no Susume.

Friendships are a special connection people are fortunate enough to share with one another. They form in unique ways that are at times completely unexplainable. They can be willed into, or they can be entirely spontaneous and organic. Regardless of how they come to fruition, it is said that true friendship is not how compatible the people are, nor is it how much they enjoy each other’s company. Rather, it is the sheer amount of conflict or hatred they overcome together as friends.

The chemistry you have with a friend is an unquestionable trait that comes naturally as the relationship develops. However, it’s not always sunshine and rainbows when it comes to friendships — or any type of connection for that matter. We go through a range of emotions that are not always in our best interest to succumb to. It’s a lot easier to say than to do in actuality. When feelings get the better of us, we tend to say or do regretful things to one another — even to those we truly cherish.

Only when friendships continue to thrive after a rocky incident or heated moment do they get stronger and materialize into something more than just a standard friendship, but perhaps a lifelong bond. You don’t really know what kind of friendship you share with someone until it is challenged in the form of some kind of quarrel or argument. Regardless of the severity of the confrontation, it is only at this moment will both parties be tested on their priorities and morals as a friend. When tensions flare, personalities and true identities are usually revealed in their ugliest of natures. Feelings get hurt and relationships get severed. 

These moments of in-fighting with a companion are not needed to determine if the friendship in question is the genuine attachment many seek for in life, but it is a rigorous test that has left many relationships in crumbles. Only those who value their friendship and wish to preserve the bonds they share with others will continue past any and every type of dispute or fight.      

Anything but Mountains!

Yama no Susume has a particular friendship between a once introverted girl and a happy-go-lucky childhood acquaintance. Aoi Yukimura and Hinata Kuraue couldn’t be any different from one another. Where Aoi enjoys knitting and staying indoors, Hinata can’t help but want to go on hikes and trail to the top of the mountains. As mentioned before, there are no rules for friendships. Two people can have completely different expressions, likes, and physical appearance, but they can still be in the parameters of being friends.

It is an unexplainable turn of events when considering how friendships start, but the sparkling differences between Aoi and Hinata are of no exception. The two girls showcased that friendship does not happen overnight, but rather over time and sometimes without either party ever realizing it. Aoi was quick to turn down all of Hinata’s invites to hang out, but as the two continued to talk, it is revealed that they were actually childhood friends in the past. Tied to a promise Aoi made to Hinata a long time ago, the two gradually reunited to become best friends once more.  

After three seasons of Yama no Susume, Aoi turns into someone who is unrecognizable from her past self. Although she still enjoys knitting and other indoor activities, Aoi becomes much more social and outgoing. The once shy loner has turned into someone who enjoys making new friends and hanging out with them at local mountain parks. All of this, of course, would not be possible without Hinata’s consistent push to be a part of Aoi’s life, even if she does initially decline.

The climb isn’t over until you descend!

Friendships can also blossom from a rejection, much is the case of Hinata. It was challenging and extremely out of her comfort zone, but Aoi pushed herself past her limits and experienced a new hobby that is rather weary but entirely fulfilling in its own right — mountain climbing. Her growth as a person and as a friend was the direct result of Hinata’s perseverance to reconnect with her long lost friend, and to change her indoor lifestyle.

The other girls who also deserve credit for Aoi’s overdue transformation are Kaede Saitou, the oldest in the group and the most reliable when it comes to mountaineering, Kokona Aoba, the youngest and most ladylike, and lastly, Honoka Kurosaki, an artistic girl who lives in the next town over. Due to the girls’ extremely close friendship and the unforgettable memories they’ve created over their outdoor adventures is now a part of Aoi, and her inevitable progression in always becoming a better version of herself. 

Over the course of the seasons, the girls have traveled a lot together, including climbing on top of Mount Fuji, Japan’s tallest and most iconic mountain. It goes without saying that they all know each other’s quirks and how they would react in certain situations. With that being said, they are still not immune to disagreements and quarrels from time to time. In particular, since Aoi and Hinata have perhaps the closest friendship among the girls, they tend to playfully tease each other every now and then.

It is never a pleasure to be the butt end of a joke, but the girls usually handle it well and know that none of the jokes harbour any ill-will. The girls have shared some breathtaking scenes together, delicious meals, and even baths with one another over the course of their friendship. But of course, there needed to be some sort of conflict to test exactly how much they revere to each other as friends. Everything is how it should be until we reach the midway of season 3. 

Everyone’s own views

Hinata, of all people, has noticed the courageous strides Aoi has taken since taking up mountaineering. Not only does she have the endurance and strength to consistently walk up inclines and rocky pathways, but Aoi also summons enough confidence to talk to and even hang out with the other girls in her class not named Hinata. This comes as a delightful surprise for Hinata at first, but her emotions gradually become murky and becomes evident that she, herself, does not know how exactly to handle them. Hinata has become so used to being the reliable friend that Aoi goes to for anything that she struggles in finding her identity when Aoi becomes entirely independent.

It bothers her to an extent, but she does not ever show or express her frustration. Aoi and the others are kept in the dark until their overnight trip to Mount Kinpu. Kokona secretly stays the night at Aoi’s place so that the two can prepare meals for the other girls. The two spend a little too much time cooking and oversleep, arriving at the train station later than expected. Hinata is angered that Aoi didn’t tell her that Kokona slept over, and this results in a visibly angered Hinata lecturing the two of them on the train.

It was the first time any of the girls showed an outright angry expression, and a moment of which the relationship they shared was on the fringe of collapsing. During the entire hike, Hinata kept to herself and only thought about the fastest course of action to take and not the ones that were the best for her friends. Her limited interactions with the other girls were prompt and uncharacteristic of Hinata’s energetic self.

Hinata made the atmosphere between the other girls tense and a bit awkward, to say the least. The hiking activity the girls once relished in now turned into an aimless hike with an angry grump leading the way. This selfish way of acting resulted in her injuring her leg in a rushed attempt to climb the mountain. Only when the pain became unbearable does Hinata tell the other girls. Aoi is quick to take the responsibility of staying with Hinata, and the two slowly make their way down the mountain. 

Despite Hinata showing signs of being angry and selfish, Aoi never returns the same feeling. Instead, she is passive and lets Hinata act out of her childish fit. Hinata confesses that she became jealous when Aoi was making plans with other girls by herself, and that the two of them could not hang out as often as they once did. Hinata was unhappy that Aoi has become an independent person who can enjoy herself without her company. In her own words, she was worried that Aoi “might go away.”

Aoi never let Hinata’s stubbornness never get the best of her because she has always considered Hinata as her best friend. The two eventually make up while sitting alongside the mountain’s terrain and learn a valuable thing from one another. Friendship will always take priority no matter how frustrating or regrettable the situation appears to be. The girls learned to be honest with one another and convey their feelings, even if it’s something no one wants to hear.

Friends

Friendships are a wonderful connection to have with other people, but they too take an adequate amount of trust, nurture and forgiveness in order to preserve that bond. It’s hard to be honest with the people you love, especially if it ends up hurting them, but it’s far better than keeping it a secret and letting it bottle up inside of you. If they truly are your friends, they would be more than willing to accept any secrets or troubles that have kept you in a burdened state.

Much like Aoi and Hinata’s relationship, true friendships will continue to flourish even after the worst episodes. In fact, they usually become stronger than ever before because new revelations are put to light, and they tend to better reflect someone’s true characteristic. Unlike other services or objects, friendship is not something you can buy or be born into, it is a genuine experience that you must want to be a part of or risk the chance of cutting ties forever. Friendship works in both ways, and both parties should put in the same amount of understanding and effort to keep the bond as strong as possible.

The girls in Yama no Susume have formed a beautiful friendship that will continue to blossom as time goes on. Although they’re still a few years away from conquering Mount Everest, the girls have proven that they can climb even the toughest of mountains and obstacles, as long as they’ve got each other.