When Mythology Comes to Life?

By: Desiree Garza

CHATTANOOGA(UTC/TheLoop) – Though it is a mouthful to say, Shin Megami Tensei: Imagine is a somewhat new and still fresh free MMO for teens and adults to play.

Jack Frost is not only a demon in Imagine but also the mascot of Atlus Co. "HeeHo"

Jack Frost is not only a demon in Imagine but also the mascot of Atlus Co. "HeeHo"

Shin Megami Tensei: Imagine is a Teen rated MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) developed by Cave Co. and published by Aeria Games. The game is based off the the Japanese game series Shin Megami Tensei by Atlus Co.  The series may be regarded as a cult following, but has been growing over the years. It is a free to play MMO with an item mall. This means that the player may log on and play any time without a subscription. However, there are items available for you to purchase with real money to help with gameplay. Players are able to interact with hundreds of others within North America, depending on which version you are playing, as they run through dungeons and fend off new foes.


The story is very long and in depth but is  told as the player first starts the game. It takes place between the first and second Shin Megami Tensei games in a post apocalyptic world. According to the story, in 1990, man began working on a way to make teleportation. However, the process began to create data made up of mythological and other fictional beings that would later be named “Demons.” Missiles were launched from all over the globe to try and destroy the creatures. However, this only caused the destruction of man kind.

Those that survived this war or “The Great Destruction” lived in small underground shelters called “Homes.” During the story of the first Shin Megami Tenssei, there was a group of young individuals that ventured out to the demon and human world to try and bring peace and new guidance to the world. Under the guidance of the seven wise men, man left the Homes and constructed a giant tower and city called Shinjuku Babel. Here a new era of law would be ordered.

Years of peace passed by before three large obelisks appeared around Tokyo with army of demons emerging from them. Each player is called a “Demon Buster” and it is their job to keep these demons under control, and bring back peace to this still barren but growing wasteland.


Suzanne Black's image of her and another player's demons.

Suzanne Black's image of her and another player's demons.

The game revolves around befriending “demons” to help  the player in their travels. The demons do not all reflect what you may be typically used to when you see this word. Most of them come from different mythologies. The demons range from angels and fairies to wisps and devils. So there is a wide variety for you to choose from. One player, Suzanne Black, said, “Well I like how they are based on world mythology and there are various kinds, so it lets players stick to ones they like.” Several of these demons are not very child friendly and neither is this game. As Alessa Gregory put it, “It’s basically Pokemon for adults.”

Each demon falls into a category and alignment. The alignments are Law, Neutral, and Chaos. The alignment you begin to develop will reflect how much it cost to summon these demons to your side. Even if the demon does not match the alignment of they player,  they can still befriend it. Demons can be fused together in order to create a new one. Demons made through fusion also inherit abilities they would not normally have obtained in the wild.

Basic Controls

The movement in Imagine uses the point and click maneuver with your mouse. The player targets the ground to click where they need to go or click on the enemy they wish to attack. The player may also use the “A, W, S, and D” keys to move. However, you use the number keys to control your character’s attacks, and then the function keys to control you demon’s attacks as well as use the mouse. This may get in the way of movement, so it is important to choose which one the player will use for the mouse or the keys.  There are also shortcuts built in to help open up the different menus in the game.

It should be noted that the Demons will act on their own if you set their AI to do so. This will either help the player in a pinch or make matters worse. The AI tends to be a bit random and will not always pick the best possible answer for a situation.

The Tab key can but used to switch from movement and camera control of the demon and the player. However, when controlling the demon directly, the player will be unable to move the camera at all. It will not even follow the demon very far either. The emphasis of the game is to use the main character while the demon supports. Rarely will need arise to take direct control of the demon in order to fight several long battles. This control switch is more useful if the player dies yet the demon is still alive.

Need more information on the shortcut keys and controls? Click here to view the guide provided by the main site.

System Requirements (Basic)

It is recommended that better equipment and systems are used but these are the bare basics to simply play the game.

  • Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP/Vista (32-bit only)/possibly 32bit Windows 7
  • DirectX: DirectX 9.0c or above
  • Hard Drive Space: 1.78 GB
  • Mouse: Windows Compatible (Scroll Wheel recommended)
  • Sound Card: DirectX 8.1 compatible sound card
  • Memory: 512 MB RAM
  • CPU: 3.1 Ghz Intel P3 or equivalent
  • Network: Cable Modem/DSL
  • Graphic Cards: DirectX 9 compatible with 3D acceleration
    GeForce4, ATI RADEON 8500 or better


Demon Buster attacking demon with a basic attack.

Demon Buster attacking demon with a basic attack.

The game starts off with the basic storyline and some tutorials that not only introduce the basic gameplay, but has some interesting cinematic movies to develop the story further for the character. As the players progress,  they will find out the game does not have any set class to choose from. However, there is still considered a class or specialization according to the attributes and expertise the players choose.

Attributes are the ‘stats’ a character has. Every time you gain experience points for killing a monster and completing quest, the player may gain a level. When the player gains a level, they are given points to distribute to their attributes. The attributes are Strength, Magic, Vitality, Intelligence, Speed, and Luck. Each of these attributes help the player grow stronger in certain areas of combat. A Melee type character is one that uses close physical combat and weapons. They usually need Strength, Vitality or Luck. There are also, Mages, Gunners, Enhancers, Crafting classes, or any combination of these. It is up to the player but there are limits. A single player cannot max out each attribute. No single player can be the best of every single type of combat or crafting available.

Expertise are the second half of the character development system. In order to learn new skills or abilities to use in combat, players must choose which expertise to level up. Players select the one they desire to learn. I will use the expertise “Rush” as an example. If the expertise is selected, then every time that player uses “RUSH” he or she will gain experience points in the “Rush” expertise. After so many points are earned in one expertise, it will level up in class and eventually allow the player to learn new skills. There is a limit based on the level of the player as to how much expertise points can be used. This keeps players from being able to train and master every skill.

Once the player gets a feel for the game and what they want to become, he or she can start running dungeons and forming parties with other players. Dungeons are areas specifically designed to for a challenge and more than one member. They have several small rooms with dozens of high level monsters. The final floor will contain a boss and several minions. If defeated, every member in the party will gain special rewards that cannot be obtained any other way.

Final Thoughts

Shin Megami Tensei Imagine is probably not for the casual player. The game revolves around some pretty complex and sometimes not too user friendly systems. This does not, however, mean the game is bad in any sense. But it is defiantly definitely a challenge. Like the series it is based off of, knowing almost every weakness and resistance are usually the only way to beat your opponent. Simply trying to overpower yourself and just go crazy will not always work. Furthermore, the level up system takes a great deal of time compared to some of the more casual MMOs. It is still what gamers called a grinding game. That is a game where you simply fight monsters over and over again to level. There are some quests but it is not the main way to level.

The Demon system is by far the greatest aspect, and is fresh and new to MMO gaming. Being able to obtain and customize your own partner for fighting is nothing short of amazing. It is a great way to play on your own for small fights as well as a way to defend your weaknesses. Danny Butler said, “It reminds me a lot of Guild Wars. You don’t have to play with a lot of players. You can go off and do your own thing.” There are over 100 demons to choose from and each with their own unique abilities and fighting style. A player could spend months just raising and obtaining different demons to try out.

Demon Buster casting a spell

Demon Buster casting a spell

Another great aspect are the graphics. The game uses a slight anime art style while still trying to be realistic at the same time. It is not too bad to look at and the settings can be adjusted quite well according to your graphical needs.

The downside is that the controls will take a lot of getting used to. Sometimes it is required to adjust the camera mid battle and with the already very picky and very precise timing of attacks, this can lead to some unfortunate results. It will take some getting used to but it is possible. Secondly, the Hybrid aspect of the game is much harder to pull off than it may seem. Though it promotes the idea that you can make a character any way you like, it is almost still required that there is a very primary focus in order to maximize any skill. This can make playing by yourself very difficult. Some classes with have a far harder time than others. Enhancers are healers in the game but in order to every do much good, they usually have to go full enhancing and have no offensive skills besides their demon. The same goes for master crafter. It is almost mandatory for such players to have a party willing to let them travel with them. (The Enhancer should not have so much an issue with but the crafter will.)

As a closing comment, I will note that this is probably one of the cheapest free to play MMO’s on the net as of this time. Many “Free” MMOs tend to make it so that the game they play is very low end until they are willing to spend more money than they do with a subscription based MMO. This game does not do that. If your wallet is low on dough, you want a challenge, and something fresh, Shin Megami Tensei: Imagine is the game for you.

There is still a lot of information that was sadly not covered in this review. To find out more, visit the sites Wiki.

Want to share your experience with Imagine? Send me an e-mail at Desiree-Garza@utc.edu

Simple Dish: Fettuccine Alfredo

By: Desiree Garza


What better way to end a long school day then with a nice affordable home cooked dish?

Going to college is costly and requires a strict budget to manage everything. There are, however, some tasty and affordable meals that can be made to bring some flavor to the dinner table. Making a great meal requires more than just following the recipe. A few simple tips and tricks as well as the ingredients used can make a big difference. Today I will show you a long time Italian favorite, Chicken Alfredo with the help of 21 year-old cook,  Brian Burger.

There are two sets of ingredients you can get depending on how much you want to spend. Professional cooking is starting from scratch, but this article will go over a simplified method that most can follow. When choosing the brands, you may pick and choose how expensive you want it. Mr. Burger says, “Always best to get the most expensive noodles. They stick less. You can skimp out on anything else if you must, but get the best noodles you can.”

Want to try and make the sauce from scratch? Click Here to view a recipe.

Ingredients For Three Person Serving

The main ingredients.

The main ingredients.


  • Barilla Fettuccine Noodles – $1.32
  • Bertolli Classic Alfredo – $2.23
  • Campbell’s Cream of Chicken – $1.14  *1
  • 1 lbs of Chicken Tenders – $4.50 *2
  • Salt & Pepper with grinders – $1.50

Less Expensive:

  • Great Value Fettuccine – $1.00
  • Ragu Alfredo Sauce – $1.76
  • Great Value Cream of Chicken – $0.92 *1
  • 1lbs Chicken Tenders – price can vary *2
  • Normal Salt & Pepper – $0.50

*1 – You can substitute Cream of Chicken with Cream of Shrimp if you choose to use shrimp instead. If you cannot find this, then use Cream of Mushroom. It works for any version.

*2 – You can substitute shrimp instead of chicken if you prefer. Do not use salad shrimp.

Want to know when the shrimp is done? Click Here for a useful cooking tip.

Some beginning tips before you begin cooking is to eliminate all distractions. Cooking is like a full time job. You have to stay focused. Brian Burger said, “Be sure to have everything done at the same time. That way everything is cooked fresh, hot, and steamy.” Cooking is about multi-tasking. The dish will need a noodle server, one medium size pot, one large or very tall noodle pot, one skillet, and several stirring utensils. The noodle server is handier than some may think. Be sure to read over the cooking steps thoroughly before you start to cook.

Time to Cook

Alfredo sauce cooking with chicken added.

Alfredo sauce cooking with chicken added.

  • Step 1: Fill large pot with water and set it on the oven on high to boil.
  • Step 2: Add Alfredo sauce and any cream of soup to medium pot. The soup will enhance the flavor of the sauce. It is a very simple, cheap, and quick way but it works. Stir sauce until it is all one color.
  • Step 3: Begin melting 1 table spoon full of butter in the skillet. Be sure to get it all around the pan.
  • Step 4: Set medium pot on low, large pot of water on high, and skillet on medium temperatures on the stove.
  • Step 5: Put de-thawed chicken tenders in skillet. Cut them up if needed to fit. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, or season to taste. This means you can use anything you believe would work well with the dish or how you want it to taste like. Cook them until you can cut it and see the middle is completely white. Another way to check the chicken is to poke a hole in it and see the juice come out. If the juice is clear, it is done. However, Mr. Burger said, “Chicken  can be tricky. So be careful.”

Want to try another way to prepare and season chicken? Click here to learn more.

  • Step 6: When the water starts to boil, add noodles. Break noodles in half if the pot is not deep enough. Be sure to have the fan or vent above the stove turned on. This is most important for sensitive fire alarm areas like in dorm rooms. When sauce starts boiling, put it at a very low temperature.
  • Step 7: Continue to stir noodles occasionally. Do not leave them sitting too long or they will stick. If the water starts to boil over too much or foam, blow lightly on it and only turn down the heat a small bit. This will only happen if there was too much water placed in the pot.
  • Step 8: Noodles will require less stirring after about five minutes. Quickly start cutting up the chicken into small pieces if they are done. Stir the chicken into the Alfredo sauce. Be sure to keep stirring the noodles on the occasion.
  • Step 9: Check and see if the noodles are done. There are two ways to do this. One way is to taste a noodle and make sure it is not hard or too mushy. Another way is to throw it onto a wall. If it sticks, it is done.
  • Step 10: Once everything is complete, serve noodles onto a plate or bowl, and add sauce to your liking.

This recipe revolved mostly about eying and tasting when everything is right. Cooking is a lot about experimenting. Not every measurement is the magical tasting recipe you need. This recipe is also a bit simplistic so that most college students can learn to get the hang of it. Joy Thomas, a Communications major, said, “It was creative and rich in flavor.” Brittnee Reese, a Biology major, said, “It was good.”

Have any suggestions or recipes you want to share? You can discuss them with me at Desiree-Garz@utc.edu

Pasteurization VS. Raw Milk

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Debate about the health attributes and risks of raw milk is spilling into statehouses and courtrooms across the country as proponents of unpasteurized dairy products push to make them easier for consumers to buy.

Supporters of the raw milk cause say pasteurization, the process of heating milk to destroy bacteria and extend shelf life, destroys important nutrients and enzymes.

“We have new science today that shows raw milk contains … enzymes that kill pathogens and strengthens the immune system,” said Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Washington D.C.-based Weston A. Price Foundation, a nonprofit group pushing for increased access to raw milk.

Enzymes and other nutrients are “greatly reduced in pasteurized milk,” she said.

Public health officials disagree, saying raw milk carries an increased risk for bacterial contamination that can lead to illness and even death.

More than 1,500 people became ill from drinking raw milk between 1993 and 2006, the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those, 185 were hospitalized and two died.

The CDC said not all foodborne illnesses are reported, meaning the actual number is likely higher.

Fallon Morell said there also have been illnesses and deaths related to pasteurized products and that linking illnesses to raw milk is not an accurate assessment of the nutritional benefits of drinking unpasteurized milk.

The sale of raw milk is prohibited in 23 states, although seven of them let people get milk through so-called herdshare programs, in which customers can buy ownership in a cow in return for raw milk from the animal.

Retail sales of raw milk is allowed in nine states and 19 allow the sale of raw milk from a farm directly to an individual.

Lawmakers in at least six states — Georgia, Iowa, Missouri, New Jersey, Wisconsin and Wyoming — have introduced measures this year seeking to change laws governing raw milk. The Falls Church, Va.- based Farmer to Consumer Legal Defense Fund also has filed lawsuits in California, Iowa, Missouri, New York and Wisconsin challenging various aspects of states’ laws regarding raw milk.

The Iowa lawsuit filed last month challenged the state’s ban on herdshare agreements.

“The Iowa Department of Agriculture contends this type of arrangement is illegal. Our position is that it is legal,” said Pete Kennedy, president of the Farmer to Consumer group.

He said the state’s law contradicts common sense.

“The farmer can drink milk from cows at the farm, so why can’t someone with an ownership or interest in that cow drink milk from those animals?” Kennedy said.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said in a statement that state officials “feel we have acted within our authority under Iowa code … in this situation.”

The issues in other states include testing requirements and delivery methods for raw milk, and herdshare agreements.

The Iowa legislation, which died in a committee, would have allowed the sale of raw milk from a farmer directly to customers. Supporters said they won’t give up.

“I think there are a number of people out there interested in having access to unprocessed milk, so I think it’s time for Iowa to allow that access somehow,” said Tom German, a livestock farmer near Holstein, Iowa, who has two dairy cows that produce milk for his family.

Nick Wallace, a livestock farmer near Keystone, Iowa, said the state’s ban on raw milk sales infringe on consumers’ rights.

“We feel it’s a consumer’s right to put what we want in our bodies and if we want to contract with a farmer who sells raw milk we should be able to buy it,” Wallace said.

He said with or without a change in law, people will find a way to get raw milk if they want it.

“There’s already people doing it, they’re just doing it under the cover of darkness,” Wallace said.

Those arguments don’t fly with public health officials.

“With raw milk the concern is it can be contaminated and it provides a good environment for bacteria to grow to high levels, which increases the chance it can make people sick,” said Dr. Ann Garvey, the state public health veterinarian with the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Garvey, along with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, support pasteurization and claim the process doesn’t significantly change the nutritional content of milk.

“It’s the measure taken to ensure what we’re consuming is safe and free from pathogens,” Garvey said.

But raw milk advocates said governments should step out of the way and let people buy products they want.

Fallon Morell, of the Weston A. Price Foundation, notes Amish farmers in Pennsylvania are “making a fortune” selling raw milk to people in New Jersey and Washington, D.C., which don’t allow such sales.

Wallace, one of the Iowa farmers, concedes it’s a complex and polarizing issue.

“There’s a million reasons why you should and shouldn’t drink it but it boils down to personal rights,” he said.

Worst Elevator on Campus

By: Desiree Garza


Most of the elevators on the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s campus are well built and stand the test of time. However, some seem alarming, and I took some of them for a test drive.

Hunter Hall Elevator

Hunter Hall Elevator

Three caught my attention for their disturbing rides. The first, the Hunter Hall building elevator. Tiffiany Kelsie, a UTC student, said, “The Hunter Hall elevator gets stuck like every semester. I wouldn’t ride it ever.” Another student, Crysta Rice said it was sometimes slow. Once I finally became brave enough to try it, I wish I had not.

On the first ride this elevator shook and even jumped on occasion. This one creaked so loud you can even hear it from outside. This elevator sometimes jumped right as you tried to get on. I never want to ride it again.

The second worst honors goes to the Cadek Hall elevator, in what is known as the music building. I found out about this elevator from an anonymous tip. Finding it was very annoying because it’s on one side and far back inside. The sounds of the pianos and choir echoing in the halls made the Cadek elevator more of an enjoyable trip. Too bad I could not hear them from the elevator.

At first the Cadek elevator seemed fine, but once I choose to get on from the ground floor to the first floor it changed its tune quickly. It started to vibrate and creak more than what was normal, taking me by surprise. I was so scared that I ended my trip right there and refused to go back on.

The third and most well known worst elevator is the one in Brock. James Lowe, Communications major, said, “It’s a death trap.” He says it is too slow, makes crazy noises and is too small. I have heard comments and whispers down the halls similar to this all the time. This was the first time, however, I tried it out myself.

The elevator does contain lots of humming and creaking sounds after you get past the second floor. The door will even shake at times. The Brock elevator is also far too slow compared to any others on campus. The wait time to get on feels like an eternity. Once on the elevator, it will take even longer for it to finally come to a stop and open its doors.

Cadek Hall Elevator Buttons

Cadek Hall Elevator Buttons

We should emphasis all information presented are still based off opinions and speculation. Few facts have been presented to state that these elevators are a danger to actually ride. The elevators for now seem a bit frightening to some.

Click here to learn about elevator safety tips.

Got an elevator experience? Click here to share it.

Click here to view news and other information on elevator accidents.

Financial Stocks Sliding

By: Desiree Garza

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks gave up a healthy advance and closed slightly lower Tuesday as investors suffered another bout of anxiety over President Barack Obama’s plan to regulate banks.

The Dow Jones industrial average, up 90 points in the early afternoon, closed with a loss of 2.57. The other major indexes were also down modestly.

Uneasiness about Obama’s plan to limit the size and trading operations of big banks pulled financial stocks and then the entire market lower. News reports that Paul Volcker, the head of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, would testify about the plan before Congress next week, contributed to the market’s turnaround.

The drop was the market’s fifth in seven days, and the fact that it came shortly before the closing bell showed how uneasy investors are; last-hour pullbacks were the hallmark of a troubled market during the financial crisis of 2008.

Obama’s announcement of his plan last week helped give stocks their worst week in 10 months. Traders said some investors had started to regard the proposals as political bluster before the latest reports dashed those hopes.

“There is maybe more than just a bark. Maybe this thing does have a bite,” said Dan Deming, a trader with Stutland Equities in Chicago.

Even banks seen as strong like Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. fell sharply.

The market had climbed most of the day on upbeat economic and corporate earnings news. The Conference Board said its index of consumer confidence rose to 55.9 in January from 53.6 in December. It was the third straight increase and the highest level in more than a year.

And insurer Travelers Cos. said an absence of catastrophe costs and a recovery in its investment portfolios lifted profits 60 percent for the final three months of 2009.

  • The Dow fell 2.57 to 10,194.29
  • The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slide 4.61 to 1,1092.17
  • The Nasdaq composite index dropped 7.07 to 2,203.73

Two stocks fell for every one that rose on the New York Stock Exchange. Consolidated volume rose to 4.8 billion shares from 4.5 billion shares Monday.

The day began with a bout of selling as China moved ahead with a plan to curb bank lending. Investors in the U.S. and elsewhere are concerned a slowdown in China’s big economy could destabilize a worldwide recovery.

The drop Tuesday came as Federal Reserve policymakers began a two-day meeting on interest rate policy. The central bank is expected to keep rates at record lows, though investors will be looking at the Fed’s assessment of the economy in a statement that will follow the meeting on Wednesday.

Stocks broke a three-day slide Monday as Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s prospects for confirmation to another four-year term brightened. His term ends Sunday. Doubts last week about his ability to get confirmed in the Senate, combined with the White House’s latest drive to clamp down on U.S. banks, led to the big drop in the market from Wednesday through Friday.

Christian Bendixen, director of technical research at Bay Crest Partners LLC in New York, said a drop in Goldman Sachs shares and increased trading volume underscores the market’s nervousness about how increased regulation could big banks to rewrite their business models.

“Goldman Sachs is really breaking down and volume is really picking up. I think it really legitimizes those concerns,” he said. “The perception has changed.”

Goldman fell $4.10, or 2.7 percent, to $150.88, while JPMorgan lost 77 cents, or 2 percent, to $38.44.

Bendixen predicts that the flurry of events in Washington this week from the Fed’s rate announcement to Obama’s first State of the Union address on Wednesday will bring more fractiousness to the markets.

The dollar rose against other major currencies Tuesday, while gold advanced.

  • Crude oil fell 55 cents to $74.71 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
  • Bond prices unchanged at 3.63 percent
  • Travelers rose $1.34 to $50.23. It was the biggest gainer among the 30 stocks that make up Dow industrials
  • Apple Inc. rose $3.07 to $205.94

While investors were rewarding individual companies for upbeat reports, they also punished those that disappointed the market.

  • Verizon Communications Inc., another Dow company, fell 51 cents to $30.17
  • The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 5.95 to 612.16.

Asian markets fell as concerns rose about Japan’s economy hurting the country’s bond rating. Standard & Poor’s lowered its outlook on Japan’s credit rating to negative from stable, saying it would slash the country’s long-term rating if its economy remains weak and debt stays high.

  • Japan’s Nikkei stock average fell 1.8 percent
  • Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 2.4 percent.
  • Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.3 percent
  • Germany’s DAX index and France’s CAC-40 each advanced 0.7 percent.

Hancock County Receiving Stimulus-funded Jobs

By: Desiree Garza

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) —Hancock County will be using federal stimulus money to provide jobs and will be the third county in the state to do so according to Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredensen.

The Democratic governor said in a release Tuesday that 50 highway worker jobs and 50 private sector jobs will be available to families living near the poverty level with at least one child living at home.

The Tennessee Career Center in Rogersville is sending information and eligibility criteria to about 1,800 Hancock County residents who have contacted the center for employment services in the last year.

Similar programs have been launched in Perry and Lauderdale counties.
Hancock County’s 17.8 percent unemployment rate in November was among the state’s highest. About 430 people are without work in the northeastern Tennessee county that borders Virginia.

Copyright Associated Press