Sweet As Syrup: God Eater Resurrection Review

I’m not usually the kind of guy to buy HD remakes of videogames. Sure, it’s always great having an improved version of a game you love, but most remakes feel unnecessary. That being said, this year I have bought not 1, but 2 remakes! One of them is the Odin Sphere remake (Which I reviewed a few months back) and the other is God Eater Resurrection. God Eater Resurrection is a remake of the original God Eater and it’s expansion pack. It includes the original two story arcs, as well as a brand new third one! Let’s not waste any time and get right into this game.

Background Information

The original God Eater came out in 2010, with the expansion / remake coming out the same year. This version was labeled as “God Eater Burst”, but was renamed “Gods Eater Burst” for its release outside Japan. The game was developed by Shift, who also developed the oft-forgotten game “Freedom Wars”. Unlike Freedom Wars, God Eater took off as a franchise and a console-seller for both PSP and Vita in Japan.

In 2015, the game was remade yet again under the title “God Eater: Resurrection”. This game expands on the original and adds new story material, new weapons, improved graphics, all new mechanics, and they even added online functionality for multiplayer matches! The game also replaces some of its old voice actors, which I’ll cover in more detail later in this review.

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Would you believe me if I told you that this wasn’t the largest monster in the game?

Plot

Humanity is on the verge of extinction, and the few remaining humans struggle to survive. In this world, giant ever-evolving mutant monsters known only as “Aragami” have devoured most of the populace. You play as a “New-Type God Eater” and must kill and devour the opposing Aragami, who threaten all of mankind. Along the way you meet various colorful characters such as the goofy Kota, the mysterious loner Soma, the headstrong girl with issues Alisa, and the cool badass leader Lindow. Together, you fight back the mutant creatures that plague the land and stop them from destroying “Fenrir HQ”, the last bastion of hope against the dark denizens that plague the world.

Unfortunately, those aren’t the only threats our heroes face. This game’s three arcs has you facing off against evil angelic government officials, constantly-evolving monsters, and some giant lizard thing named after a murderous cannibal from a really good movie. Seriously though, I enjoyed the game’s story… Well, the first arc at least. The first arc had a good amount of cut-scenes that gave you a fairly entertaining story. Unfortunately, the second arc is terrible. Cut-scenes are spaced out way too much and sandwiched in-between dozens upon dozens of unrelated side-missions. While what little of the story we get in the second arc is entertaining, it’s still disappointing when compared to the first. I haven’t gotten far into the third arc at the time of writing this though, so I can’t say if it improves or not.

Gameplay

Gameplay is God Eater’s bread and butter, it’s one of the reasons I came back to this series. The game plays similar to Monster Hunter, in that you travel out into a rather large area teeming with monsters. You gain new items by killing monsters, at which point you can make new gear. You rinse and repeat this process many times. However, the similarities between this and Monster Hunter end here, since God Eater is a completely different beast altogether.

God is an action RPG, but it also blends in elements of third-person shooters. In this game, you have use of a weapon called a God Arc. You can craft new melee weapons, shields, and guns to attach to your God Arc. The weapons have different attributes and some can do elemental damage. One of the best things about the God Arc is the ability to bite enemy monsters mid-combat, allowing you to use their attacks against them. This ability brings to mind those old Megaman games, which implemented a similar system. Of course, you have several other kinds of ammunition you can use.

Now, if you think none of the ammunition available is good enough to use, you have to see the bullet customization feature! I’ll be honest, back in 2010, this was one of the reasons I bought the game. You can customize your bullets to form into specific shapes, like letters of the alphabet or certain symbols. This allows for some great customization! It’s fun to tinker around with this system and create wholly unique bullets. Of course, some of the more insane bullets require a lot more stamina than regular bullets, which makes using them a bit less desirable at times.

Combat in the game is similar to Monster Hunter, but has several differences. For example, you can jump in this game, unlike Monster Hunter. You can jump onto higher services and vantage points, which adds a lot to the combat. This verticality can lead to a lot of really good strategies when it comes to taking on enemies. Not only that, but the game adds “Predator Styles” to the mix. These Predator Styles allow you to do special attacks that bite the enemy. These can be done while in the air, on the ground, or even while dashing. Honestly, the Predator Styles are probably my favorite part of the game! Being able to leap towards a flying monster and munch on them in mid-air never stops being satisfying! You can also edit predator styles, adding small bonuses which can change the kind of bonuses you get from biting monsters.

Another feature of the game is its crafting system. Compared to Monster Hunter and a lot of its competitors, God Eater manages to do away a fair bit with the grinding. You can now exchange certain items for extra materials, making it easier to upgrade certain pieces of gear. While there is a bit of grinding involved in getting new gear, it’s nowhere near as tedious as it was in the original version of this game. This gives the game a much more welcoming feeling and I really appreciate it!

One of the weaker parts of the game comes with its online multiplayer. I felt this to be a bit lacking. Sure, you can online with buddies to complete missions, but I never really felt a strong urge to do so. A lot of the missions are pretty approachable in difficulty, so I never really felt the need to get online help unless I was really stuck on something. Speaking of difficulty, I found that there were some tweaks made in this version that make it superior to the original in that regard. For example, infinite revivals are no longer thing, you are now only allowed to be revived a finite number of time.

While there is a lot I like about the game, it has still has a fair bit of weaknesses in terms of gameplay. For example, Fenrir HQ is still pretty barren. There’s not a lot of people to talk to, it feels cramped and confined, and there aren’t a lot of interesting areas inside this HQ to visit. Compare this to Monster Hunter, where you are able to talk to several people in town, some of which can give you side-missions or helpful advice.

This game does have several issues that its competitors also possess, such as its repetitive nature and lack of boss variety early on. However, much like those games, if you stick with this long enough then you’ll find yourself fighting it out with new and far more entertaining bosses in no time! One big problem I noticed with this game was its lack of new bosses early on. Aside from one large mini-boss, there were no new addictions until the third story-arc. By then, I had already burned through most of the pre-existing content. I felt that the new bosses should have been peppered in with the old levels, to give it better variety.

That being said, I can say that the gameplay here is fairly entertaining. It’s got a bit of a slow start, but it does ramp up in terms of entertainment value the deeper you get. Couple that with a strong customization feature for both your character and weapon, along with a three-arc campaign that’ll take you a fairly long time, and you have something really worth your cash.

Visual Stimuli

I played the PS Vita version of this game and I must say that it looks fantastic! Character models have been updated considerably, as has most of the in-game graphics. The various characters populating this world have more detailed outfits, yet still keep the original designs that made them like-able in the first place. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about the voice-acting.

A lot of the original voice-cast returns and brings with them great performances, but certain characters were re-cast. Due to this re-casting, the game loses a lot of its original charm. Dr. Paylor Sakaki is a good example of this. He went from having this rather subdued way of speaking to sounding like the anime equivalent of the Nutty Professor. Others are a lot more forgiveable, such as Johannes new voice-actor, who is pretty much spot-on.

The game functions pretty well, and doesn’t really lag that much. If there’s anything about the design that falters, it’s gotta be the inclusion of characters talking during missions. Now, this feature is kind of double-edged sword. Having the characters talk on missions alleviates some of the isolation you may feel while doing these missions. Having a vocal cast allows for characters to bounce off each other in the midst of combat. Unfortunately, this particular feature felt poor implemented.

Characters will talk too much, WAY too much. And most times, it’s not even comments that relate to the game or give you hints. It feels a lot like unscripted babbling, almost like a stand-up comedy act. Characters will screech their heads off when your health dips too low, and your character will constantly muse about nearly dying every time he gets his skull bashed in. It got annoying, to the point where I was healing myself constant just so the peanut gallery would stop throwing a hissy-fit about it.

To be fair, I could have muted the game, but I loved the soundtrack way too much to do that. I found a lot of battle tracks to be fair entertaining overall, some of them being my all-time favorite videogame songs. I also really enjoy the game’s theme song, as well as the really good animation used for its intro. I just wish that little opening theme song didn’t spoil so much of the game! Regardless, I felt the production values behind this game were a little hit and miss.

In Summation

This is a game that is a lot like its competition. It’s a hack-and-slash with repetitive gameplay, a story that feels like its stretched too thinly, and a crafting system that requires constant gathering of various items. Despite this, it’s still a pretty fun game! It’s god some nice graphics for a Vita game, pretty good voice-acting, really good combat, and a really unique bullet customization feature.

Sure, it may feel like the game is a bit too padded, but the story is enjoyable for what it is. Missions never really feel too long and the ten different weapons pack enough variety so that it doesn’t feel too stale. Best of all, this game is only 20 bucks! Seriously, it’s dirt-cheap if you get it digitally on Vita. This is something I can definitely reccomend! That’s why I can say that without a doubt, this game is as sweet as syrup! Just please keep in mind that this genre of game is not for everybody. It requires a lot of time to get through the main-quest as well as get the best gear. Still, it’s something that I think is worth trying, due to its interesting setting, cool monster designs, and fun gameplay. If you have a Vita, PS3, or PS4 and enough cash, definitely give this game a shot!

Went To Bartari Tonight!

It’s been a while since I’ve been to this nerd bar, but I had a great time! I went with a friend and we both had a great time! Got to play some Bomberman, eat some great chicken fingers, and have a general blast. I reccomend Bartari if you’re bored and want a drink while you play some games. Sure, Bartari doesn’t hold a candle to those Japanese arcades, but it is still a good time. I just wish there wasn’t so many jerks in there! Oh well, not every place can be perfect. A bar can’t really control the kind of people who enter.

Sweet As Syrup: ReBoot Forever Review

Hello, everyone! Today, I’m going to do something I’ve never done before: Review an art book. Now, I feel like doing a segmented review may be difficult, as mostly this book is just art with the occasional forward from one of the people who worked on the show. As such, this review will be more free-form than I usually do. I’ll still tell you whether or not the book is as sweet as syrup or not, but it just won’t be nearly as formal as my usual reviews. Still, I want to give you guys my honest opinions on something I picked up at a comic book convention.

What I wish to talk about today is the “ReBoot Forever” art-book! Now, as a child I loved this cartoon. It was something that is near and dear to my heart. When I was at the convention, I met one of the animators who worked on the show. He was selling this art-book that featured original concept art from the show itself, as well as new artwork from various other artists. The animator who sold it to me was Jim Su, who was a very nice gentleman.

He autographed the book for me, as well as selling it to me for 7 dollars off the cover price. I found a crack in the book later, but he was nice enough to exchange it for a new as well as re-autograph it! Now, for those of you reading this, you may have no idea what I’m talking about. ReBoot is a very old show after all, and there hasn’t been new content from this series since 2001. There’s a reboot of ReBoot on the way,  called “ReBoot: Guardian Code”.

ReBoot is unique for being the first ever TV series to be done entirely in CGI. It told place inside a computer and focused on a sprite named Bob, who is a “Guardian” dedicated to protecting his system from viruses. Guardians are like policeman, dedicated to the prevention of viral infections. Bob teams up with the smart and talent Dot Matrix, her brother Enzo, and his dog Frisket. During the series they cross paths with the malicious Megabyte, the insane Hexadecimal, and the malevolent Daemon, as well as various other threats. Bob would also enter “Games”, which are basically video-games run on the computer that Bob and our heroes dwell in. If he doesn’t win, the system ends up damaged, making it more susceptible to harm.

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Pretty cool art, but kid Enzo looks a little off in this pic.

I think it’s finally time I get into the actual review portion of this post! It’s time to discuss this ReBoot art-book. I’ll start by discussing what’s included in this book. The main bulk of the book is taken up by concept art, really good concept art! You see, a fair amount of the storyboards were drawn by Brendan McCarthy, best known for his work on Judge Dredd. So, despite being simple concept images, they are drawn extremely well! Great detail is put into the characters and you can tell that a lot of thought went into the core concepts that made up this series.

The book details early designs of the characters as well. I’ll be honest, I think I liked Hexadecimal’s prototype design better, mainly due to her emerald colorization. She’s also drawn in certain images to look a lot more menacing than she is in the show. I’m still happy with the design they went with, though it would’ve been cool to see a Green Hexadecimal. The book also details abandoned concepts, which is always fun!

Now, I feel I would be spoiling the best parts of this book if I went over all of the abandoned ideas featured inside, so I’ll mainly focus on my favorite in this collection. And this would be “WebWorld”. This concept was for a new show entirely, one that would center around Bob exploring the “WebWorld” and meeting strange and bizarre beings along the way. This series would essentially be a spinoff, and focus on Bob after the events of season 2. WebWorld was canned early on, but most of its concepts and ideas were used in season 3. So, if that arc where they go to the web feels out of place in terms of design and setting, it’s mostly because it was never meant for the main series.

On top of the concept art, there’s also forwards written by the animators on this show. They are well-written and do a good job of explaining concepts that didn’t make it on the show or were changed early. Although, there were times where unused concepts were shown but with no explanations as to why they removed. On certain pages, these forwards seem absent and I feel the book may have benefited from having more of these. Still, what we got is pretty good, and does a good job of showing us what the creators thought of these odd machinations they came up with 20 years ago.

As great as this book, there were some things about it that bothered me. For example, a large bulk of the book is taken up by tribute artwork. These are pictures done by other artists, usually featuring various art-styles and act as sort of fan-based tributes to the series. Now, I don’t have a problem with the artwork itself. In fact, almost every piece of fan-contributed artwork looks amazing! A lot of this stuff was drawn by professional artists, and it shows. Unfortunately, the problem is that this artwork takes up too much of the book, I find.

The tribute art gallery is fairly extensive and features quite a bit of original artwork, but it seems to distract from the main draw of the book: The concept artwork. I’m not saying you can’t have both, I just wish the tribute gallery wasn’t as extensive. Then again, the expanded gallery is touted as a special feature on the back of the book, so maybe I’m just grasping at straws for bad things to say about this book. In all honesty, I find little wrong with the package itself. My only other complaint is that the art on the cover (featured above) looks somewhat like the “Uncanny Valley” to me. Certain characters just look a little weird in 2D, especially Bob and Mouse. Bob’s face just looks a bit too realistic and serious, especially when compared to the cartoon-y duo Hack & Slash featured in the background.

Regardless of minor gripes, I feel that I got a satisfactory product for my money. I got it for a good price, from a fantastic artist, and at an event that ranks as one of the best conventions I’ve ever been to! I highly suggest buying this book, especially if you can get it cheap. Just be forewarned that despite being based off a kids show, it may feature content not suitable for children. There’s language in the book that parents may find offensive, as well as imagery that may frighten children. Also, this book was made in 2011, so it may be difficult to track down outside of conventions. Still, if you can find a copy, I suggest buying it! There’s also another ReBoot art-book called “Art of ReBoot”, that you may also be interested in tracking down. I hoped you all enjoyed my review! I plan on reviewing all seasons of ReBoot at some point, leading up to the eventual premiere of ReBoot: Guardian Code. Look for those in the coming months!

The Convention Was Fantastic!

Oh man, I haven’t had this much fun in so long! My friends were all there, even friends who I hadn’t seen in a long time. There were seven of us in total at one point. I even ran into one of my instructors at my college, and got to meet a friend of mine who he quite admires. It was a great time for all! I even picked up some sweet convention swag which I hope to review on this blog when I get the chance. It was definitely a good time for all and one of the crowning moments of this year for me. I look forward to next year and hope that the next convention is somehow better than this one!

Going To A Comic Book Con On Saturday!

I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time! As I’ve stated before, I am a huge comic book nerd and love going to conventions. Best of all, I’ll be there with all of my friends, which is awesome. Carrie Fisher will be there, so I’ll definitely take the time to visit her panel and hear what she has to say. I love going to comic book conventions, and I’m hoping I can buy some pretty awesome swag and possibly review it on my blog. Until then, have a great week guys!

Sweet As Syrup: Samurai Flamenco Review

Believe it or not, I have stumbled across many series that I regret not having heard of before. Be this a game series, a film series, or even a comic book series. And yes, this even includes anime series. One such anime that I have kicked myself constantly for having never heard of is today’s subject. This is one of the most divisive, yet refreshing anime I’ve seen in the past decade. It revolves around a young man who wishes to be a superhero, despite having no super-powers or combat training.

Despite this, he fashions himself a costume and becomes a hero anyways. He trains hard, fights crime, and eventually becomes a hero to those around him. However, if you’ve heard of this show before, you’d know that I’m only scraping the surface. This show is bizarre, yet awesome and has divided half its audience. I think it’s about time I discuss the amazing-ness that is this little-known series. So, I present to you all the cult-classic gem known as “Samurai Flamenco”.

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“LET’S SYRUP!”

Background Information

Samurai Flamenco started airing in October 2013 and finished its run in March 2014. The anime ran for a total of 22 episodes and unfortunately never took off with a Japanese audience. The show ended up forgotten in Japan, but was brought to America through Netflix and Crunchy Roll. Here, it garnered a small yet devoted fanbase and remains a cult-classic to this day. The anime itself was directed by Takahiro Omori, who is best known for co-directing the Powerstone anime and directing Hyper Police; two highly underrated anime in my opinion. Flamenco is one of Omori’s latest projects, as he hasn’t directed a whole lot since 2013.

Plot and Characters

Hidenori Goto is your typical average policeman. He works a tough job, fights the occasional crime, comes home, sleeps and does the same thing the next day. However, Goto’s life changes forever when he finds a strange naked young man in the alley. This turns out to be a wannabe superhero named Masayoshi who goes under the superhero name “Samurai Flamenco”.

Masayoshi is also secretly a model, which pays the bills and allows him to purse his rather dangerous hobby. Masayoshi is a hero because of the heroes who inspired him as a child, and he wishes to live up to their legacy. This creates a rather unique concept for a series, it’s essentially Kamen Rider meets Kickass. It gets even wilder from there! Masayoshi becomes famous on the internet for fighting crime, even the minuscule ones. This draws the attention of other would-be heroes like the Flamenco Girls, a trio of magical-girl-type superheroines who aren’t afraid to knee a guy in the groin to win a fight.

Masayoshi is also aided by a cast of colorful characters, including his strict manager Sumi, and his eccentric sensei known as Joji Kaname. It’s up to Masayoshi to defeat the various thugs in the city, as well as people who are after him so they can a hefty reward for unmasking him. It’s actually a really good concept, and the series rocks it… Until the end of episode 7. Now, I feel to properly discuss this show in detail I need to talk about it past episode 7. Episode 7 has a twist that rocked the fanbase and even deterred some people from watching it. So, in this next section I will discuss spoilers that span from episode 7 to 11.

SPOILER WARNING

By episode 7, Masayoshi has cleaned up the streets. Few criminals are around and those that are end up being quickly dispatched by our heroes. However… This quickly changes when a real monster shows up at the end of episode 7! This monster is known as “Guillotine Gorilla” and murders several policeman. Our heroes defeat him, only for a mysterious villain known as King Torture shows up. At this point, the show switches genres from a fairly realistic superhero show, to a Kamen Rider type superhero show.

And this isn’t the first or last time it does this! After the end of this arc, it switches genres again and focuses on a team of Sentai-styled superheroes called “The Flamengers”, which are led by Masayoshi. And the show just gets crazier from there! I would say more about it, but I don’t want to spoil all this show has to offer.

SPOILERS OVER

Generally, while I felt that the plot was all over the place, I enjoyed it. Despite the constant genre-shifting, it is a very entertaining story. The problem comes with the characters, as during some arcs, characters are shoved aside in favor of introducing new characters. Despite this, the old characters do return and get a fair bit of development, which is welcome. Still, I could do without the other Flamengers, as they were never that interesting.

Visual Stimuli

I like the character designs in this show somewhat, especially the superhero costumes assigned to the main and supporting characters. They have a retro feel to them, but also have an added modern touch. It sucks that Samurai Flamenco doesn’t have a defined suit, as it changes every 3-4 episodes. Despite this, I loved the design of each suit Masayoshi wears. Sadly, I can’t say the same about the animation. While the animation is good most of the time, sometimes it can be pretty bad. A good example of this is in episode 11, where it looks as though the animators just gave up. The second opening sequence for the show is another example of this, due to how many little animation is shown in that intro. There is a sufficient lack of actual animation in both versions of the trailers and just feels slapped together.

Luckily, voice acting and sound design is fairly good. I found background tracks to be entertaining, as were the theme songs. The anime also uses a surprising number of tracks that seem to be lifted from other shows and only remixed slightly. I can’t tell you how weird it was when the Pink Panther theme just started playing in one episode. Regardless, I found the production value to be a bit middle-of-the-road. It had somewhat okay-ish animation that dips in quality a bit too much. On top of that, you can tell that their were budget cuts along the line. Still, the production values never got too much in the way of me enjoying the show.

In Summation

I can see why some people don’t like this show. This is a show where the animation can look fairly bad on occasion, the show constantly changes genres, character development is shoved aside in favor of introducing new characters, and the soundtrack seems a bit recycled. Despite this, it was still really entertaining!

It had likable characters, fairly unique concept, and was entertaining the whole time for me. I feel this anime is pretty entertaining, despite its flaws. Sadly, this series never took off and only got 22 episodes, but I still enjoy it a lot. How much you get out of the series will depend on you the viewer, I reccomend at least watching the first 10 episodes. The first 10 episodes are a good example of what the show is, so if you don’t like the first 10 then you’ll probably hate the rest of the series. Just be warned that this show is very stupid, but it’s a good kind of stupid. If you can turn your brain off while watching this show, then I think you can find a lot of enjoyment in this series.

I can definitely say that this anime is without a doubt as sweet as syrup. I won’t get this anime a rating, because I feel its about time I retired number ratings. I feel like attaching a numbered score is demeaning the value of the product. So, from now on, every review will be score free! Though, I’ll still tell you if the product is as sweet as syrup or not!

Sweet As Syrup: Monster Hunter Freedom Unite

A while ago, I started a series which I didn’t finish. This was called the “Monster Hunter Retrospective”. I’ve decided to continue this retrospective, but instead of doing it in the same way as before, these will be more straightforward reviews. So, I hope you all enjoy these reviews as much as I have writing them! I thought that since I had already covered the first generation, I may as move onto the second one. So, today I’m going to talk about the penultimate game of the second generation of Monster Hunter. Today, I’m going to talk about Monster Hunter Freedom: Unite!

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GARGUAMESH!

Background Information

Monster Hunter 2 was initially released in 2006, 2 years after the first game’s release. Monster Hunter 2 was never brought stateside, but it’s portable expansions were! The first of which was Monster Hunter 2 Freedom which unfortunately trimmed some of the features of its console counterpart. Thankfully, all these features were brought back for its expanded re-release: Freedom Unite

Freedom Unite is often considered one of the best games in the series, alongside 4 Ultimate. Freedom Unite was released in North America back in 2009 for the Playstation Portable. This version unfortunately didn’t do very well, due to the lack of online play and beginner-unfriendly gameplay. Despite this, the game still has a solid fan-base and remains a classic in the eyes of many PSP owners.

Plot

Monster Hunter is a game series that lacks a narrative for most of its games. Despite that, this game does give us tiny snippets to get us interested in hunting these monsters. In the opening scene of this game, our character is attacked by a vicious wyvern known as Tigrex. Tigrex thrashes my character and knocks him off a mountain, only for him to awaken in the neighboring village of Kokoto. This is about as deep the plot goes, to be honest. You’ll be sent after many monsters in the game, until facing and defeating Tigrex. From there, you continue to hunt bigger and stronger monsters. It’s nothing deep, but it is enough to get you invested in what you are doing.

Gameplay

Monster Hunter 2 plays very similar to Monster Hunter 1 in almost every way. It’s still about killing monsters, collecting parts to build new gear, and then killing newer and stronger monsters. The game is a hack ‘n’ slash game, but with a large focus on strategy. As with any Monster Hunter game, simply hacking with your sword won’t guarantee your victory. You have several weapon types that work better on certain monsters and with certain builds.

The game features a ton of different weapons, from the mighty Great-Sword to the nimble Dual-Blades, there’s a weapon to suit everybody’s play-style. Gameplay mostly involves your hunter venturing into a particular area in order to hunt monsters (as the name implies), gather items, steal eggs from their nests, or even capture large monsters. You can craft new armor and weapons for your hunter to use by completing hunts, thus allowing you take on even harder quests.

If there is any major complaint I have with the gameplay, it’s the staggering difficulty. This game is not beginner-friendly in the slightest, the tutorials don’t even touch you every aspect of the game! On top of this, the game lacks any online support, so you’re stuck playing through the game on your own. This can be circumvented if you have friends also own PSPs, but since few people owned them, I was stuck playing on my own most of the time.

This game introduced some new elements that took a bit of the stress away. For example, you now had sidekicks known as “Palicos”, which are these tiny adorable cat-people that follow you into and quests and help you fight monsters. Of course, they aren’t as strong as you and usually can’t take more than a few hits without retreating. Still, they provide a distraction in a boss fight when you are trying to heal or use a whetstone to sharpen your weapon.

Armor upgrading has been fine-tuned, when compared to the original game. In the first generation of Monster Hunter, you needed to acquire items to upgrade your armor, just like your weapons. Luckily, Capcom realized how tedious this feature was for grinding, and made it so all you need to upgrade armor is Armor Spheres. You can also now craft special gems that grant bonuses when you sock them into your armor and weapons. My favorite new feature is the inclusion of a day and night cycle. Certain monsters will only come out at certain times of the day, and going to an area at night may change certain things. For example, going into the desert at night results in the temperature changing from blistering hot to freezing cold. It’s a small change, but it’s something that I like as it adds more to the world.

And what would Monster Hunter be without a bunch of new monsters to hunt? The developers really went all out on these new monsters, as some of them rank as my all-time favorites. You have the fire-y and majestic dragon known as the Teostra, or the lightning-ape Rajang. The game also introduces some wyverns with supernatural or unique abilities, like the Kushala Daora that calls upon the power of wind to knock you off your feet or the floating Lovecraftian horror known as Yama Tsukami. In all honestly, this game probably has the best selection of any Monster Hunter game I’ve ever played. Couple this with the insanely brutal difficulty, and you’ve got a game that could consume years-worth of free time!

Aside from the features I’ve mentioned, there isn’t a lot of changes to the gameplay or combat here. This isn’t a terrible thing, as the combat is still the most entertaining part. Sadly, the game still suffers from just feeling a bit slow. It lacks the more action-oriented features of later games like 3 or 4. While the game is still a pure hack-and-slash, it is challenging and requires a lot from the player. It’s very difficult to learn and even more difficult to master, but totally worth it all the same.

Something I didn’t enjoy too much with the game was the early levels. The game starts off kind of slow, and continually puts you against weaker or smaller monsters until you reach 3 or 4 stars. You mainly fight larger versions of smaller monsters, and there’s no way to skip the starting tutorial bits. Likewise, you won’t encounter some of the big set-piece bosses until much later in the game. Another issue with the game is its infamous amount of grinding, which is more infuriating with the limited multiplayer options. Later games alleviated a lot of the grinding, but it’s more noticeable in the earlier portable titles. Regardless, I found the gameplay in this game to be fairly enjoyable, despite the somewhat slow combat and amount of grinding.

Visual Stimuli

The graphics for this title are pretty nice, especially for a PSP game. It may not look super great now, but for the time it was pretty good stuff. Monsters have unique enough designs; some of the new ones in particular have some of my favorite designs in the series! The music is fantastic as always, really capturing the essence of exploring the wilderness to track down monsters. The track that plays whenever you enter the first area just strikes at my heart and fills me with utter joy and nostalgia. There’s no voice-acting in this game, instead characters just grunt when you talk to them. It reminds me a bit of Banjo & Kazooie, to be honest. All in all, I found the production values of this game to be pretty good!

In Summation

This is a game that’s not for the feint of heart. Difficult, time-consuming, somewhat tedious, kind of unfair, all perfect descriptors for this game. However, if you put the time and effort into this game, I think you can really find yourself like I do! It’s definitely one of the hardest MH games to get into, especially when compared to games that would come later. If you can get past the more hardcore grind-y elements, the lack of online multiplayer, and the slow beginning, than I think you’re going to have yourself a fun and very long adventure. With that, I can definitely say this game is as sweet as syrup, and deserving of an 8.5/10. Happy hunting and have fun!

 

Just Got My Diploma!

I am so pumped, guys! Just last week, I took the bus down to my local college and picked up my diploma. I feel so proud of myself! It was a tough ten months, but I pulled through and got a good education with a really good grade-point average. I shall now celebrate by taking this week to not only look for a new job, but post reviews of every Monster Hunter game in succession! Because, why not?

Sweet As Syrup: Gon’ E-Choo! Review

I’ve reviewed a ton of games on this blog: RPGs, MMORPGs, and even a few action games. However, what I haven’t reviewed yet is a good old arcade game. Or… An Indie game that plays like an old arcade game! I have a few arcade games already, but one I’d like to talk about is something an old friend recommended. It was this game I had never played based off this comic I had never read. This game was called “Gon’ E-Choo!” based off the webcomic of the same name.

On top of talking about gameplay and plot, I would also like to talk about webcomic itself and some of the unjust flack this game gets. I feel like people judge a game too harshly on what it looks like or what they think it represents, instead of just enjoying the game itself for what it is. Honestly, I had a ton of fun with this game and I think it needs to be said how entertaining this game is. So, without further adieu, let’s discuss “Gon’ E-Choo!”

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Man, that monochrome Virtual Reality looks like a good time!

Background Information

As previously mentioned, this game is based on a webcomic, which has been an ongoing series for the past few years. The Gon’ E-Choo comic revolves around the tale of two friends: One is a rather large and very childish gator, and the other is a surprisingly mature young otter. These two characters don’t appear to have names and are commonly referred to as just “The Gator” and “The Otter” respectively. The comic revolves around The Gator’s attempt to live up to the legacy of old cartoon characters and eat the helpless prey: The Otter. Luckily for The Otter, the rather large alligator is more like a big teddy-bear and the two become quick friends.

Back to the webcomic for a second, I’d like to discuss it a bit more in detail. I enjoy the webcomic for its somewhat surreal nature, and the fact that the comic somehow got me to care about a praying mantis named “Cutty”, to the point where she became my favorite character. It’s goofy, silly, weird, and gives off a classic comic strip feel. In short, it’s everything I want in a comic!

The comic also portrays its characters as essentially being outcasts, but does it in a believable manner. It feels like the natural evolution of those old-school “Calvin & Hobbes” strips. Back to the game itself, this game was released in November of 2015 and has since then remained mostly obscure. It seems like the game itself is getting more attention, which I am glad to see.

Plot

This game does not really have a plot, or at least not a fully discernible one. The game opens with you in a garage, full of various things such as tools and plastic alligator toys bought at a dollar store. In the middle of the room is the main attraction: The Gon’ E-Choo arcade machine! You then can play the arcade game, which supposedly takes place within the surreal dreams the characters have in the webcomic. Oddly enough, despite the lack of plot, the game always gives you these cryptic messages every time you beat three levels. I’m sure there’s some hidden meaning behind these messages, I just haven’t really deciphered them yet. Heck, maybe I’m not even supposed to! Regardless, I didn’t buy the game for plot, but rather for its gameplay. Let’s dive into that next, shall we?

Gameplay

The gameplay is simplistic, yet very fun. The game features you as The Otter trying to escape your gator compatriot, in this alternate universe interpretation of the first comic strip. Your goal is to escape The Gator, while obtaining several pieces of paper scattered around the level. If he grabs you, he eats you, and you lose a life. However, our scaly frienemy is not the only eater of stuff around here! You can grab a power-up that reverses roles and allows you to chase the gator and eat him Pac-Man style. The game features three levels that are repeated once you complete them. While this is fairly repetitive, it never got stale for me. That’s because the game ramps up in difficulty and keeps you on feet, while you try to pick up letters and work towards that high-score.

Simply picking up the letters isn’t a cake-walk though, as The Gator can be somewhat crafty. Most levels have three sections to them, and The Gator can take advantage of this and reach both up and down to grab you. If that wasn’t bad enough, you also have to deal with the greatest threat known to mankind: Bees! These buzzing little bandits will smack right into you and stun you, resulting in an inevitable game-over. You can smack the bees away with your yo-yo, stopping the insidious irritating insects from ruining your good time. While the gameplay is simple and somewhat repetitive, it is certainly enjoyable. It’s easy to learn, but difficult to master. This game is very difficult, especially for someone like me who is terrible at arcade games! Regardless, I still had a fun time.

Visual Stimuli

If there was something I loved most about this game, it would be the graphics and music. The interior of the garage is rendered well, as is the Gon’ E-Choo arcade machine. The in-game graphics are good as well. The characters are designed in a similar fashion to Walter Kelly’s old comic strips. The in-game characters were actually drawn by the guy who makes the comic and are digitized to resemble old-school arcade graphics.

Sound-design on this game is fantastic! It’s full of bleeps and bloops, and features that old-school arcade music. The tracks are fairly entertaining, and they definitely give me Donkey Kong or Mario Bros. vibes. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of them, but the ones that are there give me some major nostalgic vibes.

The game runs fairly well, I find. It has several graphics settings, even a feature that uses your web-cam to reflect your face off the arcade screen, which I find to be bloody brilliant! The game is stable, but I have noticed some glitches. One time, I accidentally broke the game on the first level. After eating The Gator, he failed to respawn. I was stung by a bee and was stuck there forever in a state of bee-stung paralysis. Luckily, this was only a singular occurrence and I haven’t encountered too many bugs like this. In general, I found the presentation of this game to be really well-done and it definitely captured that old-school aesthetic very well.

In Summation

I’m really glad I went out of my comfort zone and played this game! I can definitely see the appeal of this game and why it is so fun. Sure, it’s fairly repetitive, it’s got some bugs here and there, and the series may turn off some people with its content, but I still found it to be a very fun experience. Best of all, this game is only 2 dollars on Steam! For the price of a candy bar, you can get this nifty little arcade-based Indie game. That’s why I can say, without a doubt that this is game as sweet as syrup.

Now, I sometimes give review scores and sometimes don’t, but I feel like giving this game a score would be a bit demeaning. After all, I’d be judging a game styled to be like an old arcade game as a game released nowadays. The number I’d give this would just clash with my two different viewpoints. Despite that, I reccomend this game if you’re just looking for an old-ish arcade experience or if you just like funny cartoon animals doing funny cartoon animal things. I’m glad I heard about this and got to experience it. It’s not something I’d say is perfect or some kind of masterpiece, but it’s fun for what it is and I can appreciate that.

My History With Phantasy Star Online And Why I Love It

I’ve made it no secret that I love Phantasy Star Online, it’s a really good game that means a lot to me. I have a long history with this series and I want to share that with you guys! My love for Phantasy Star Online started along. I was only about 9 or 10 when I read through this one videogame magazine. I can’t remember what gaming magazine it what, or what particular issue the article was featured in. Regardless, one article caught my attention: A review of Phantasy Star Online.

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Man, it looks like that group posing is a bit crowded. That robot dude on the top can barely fit!

The article described the game and how it was an “MMORPG”, or Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game. I had never played an MMORPG before, so this immediately caught my eye. The article went on describe several hints and tips for the game such as “Striking the Rag Rappy before it flees makes it drop a item”. I had no idea what a Rag Rappy was, which made me even more interested in this game. What really sealed the deal was the picture featured in the corner of the article. It was a screenshot from the game featuring a guy with a lightsaber-like weapon fighting a large gorilla-like monster next to what appeared to be some sort of ruined building. I was both intrigued and sold on the premise, but lacked a Sega Dreamcast. Unfortunately for me, there was no way to play PSO.

This changed a couple years later, when I got my hands on a Nintendo Gamecube. One of the games for said console was “Phantasy Star Online Episode 1 & 2 Plus”. It was like the original Phantasy Star Online, but with a massive amount of new content, plus features that were previously only usable online could now be used offline! I asked my parents to buy me it, which they did. I played that game before and after school each day, enthralled by the unique sci-fi universe that game presented. The best part was that the game boasted a large variety of weapons to use again monsters. This included gigantic swords, handguns, magic staffs, and even heavy artillery. This armory also included the aforementioned lightsabers, which was just called “Sabers” in the game. The sabers were one of my favorite weapons in the game, mainly due to their designs.

Keep in mind that at the time I was playing this, Star Wars Galaxies was in its infancy. On top of that, Galaxies was a bit too much for my outdated. So, the only way to play an MMO with lightsabers in it, was to play PSO on my Gamecube. To be honest though, PSO was more than just lightsabers. It had several levels of pure dungeon-crawling bliss, as well as both couch-multiplayer and online-multiplayer gameplay. Since I didn’t have a stable internet connection and no way to pay monthly fees, I would often just play the game with my friends when they came over. There would also be times when I played the game solo, just to fully soak in the world and all it has going for it.

There were even times I would play the game with my friends and they would trade me rare items for my rares. I feel they scammed me though, by trading me a Brionac for my Soul Eater  scythe. To be fair, anyone could get a Soul Eater, but I just find it annoying that the guy was so lazy that he couldn’t do the quests to get the weapon himself. It’s the laziness that bothers, more than the actual scam itself. Anyways, PSO stood out to me as a good game to play on my own or with friends.

I loved PSO and wanted more of that good sci-fi fantasy action. At this time I didn’t use or know about Wikipedia, so it was difficult for me to research games outside of Gamefaqs or the occasional videogame magazine. However, I would soon discover the next PSO game and have my view on this series forever changed. It all happened on December 26th, Boxing Day. My family and I went to Future Shop in order to scoop up some sweet deals. That’s when I discovered it: Phantasy Star Online Episode 3: C.A.R.D. Revolution. I was so pumped, this was the new Phantasy Star game I had been waiting for! Except… It wasn’t.

PSO Ep. 3 was a spinoff of my the original PSO, that also acted as a sequel. The game was huge departure from the original PSO, as it was now a card game. You could still play it online, but real-time combat was switched out in favor turn-based card game combat. I’ve review Episode 3 already, so I won’t go into too much detail as to why I dislike it. I’ll just say that it was disappointing to me as a Phantasy Star fan.

After that, I didn’t touch Phantasy Star for a few years. By then, my family and I had moved away from my hometown and into an all new city. When first starting out there, I lived with my family, I had few friends, and no job. This resulted in me diving into the bargain bin at a local EB Games for something to whet my whistle. That’s when I found Phantasy Star Universe, a game I had never played before. Sure, I had heard stuff about Universe, but it wasn’t overtly positive. Despite this, it was 20 bucks for a game that was in good condition. So… How could I say no?

I bought Universe, struggled to get it running on my PC, and was disappointed with the results. Universe had a forgettable story, unlikable characters, and a lack of rare item drops. While I did enjoy the gameplay, I found the game lacking in side-content. I was annoyed with Phantasy Star this point. I found that I had wasted my cash on both Episode 3 and Universe. I gave up on the franchise for a while due to these events. Heck, I stumbled across Shadow of The Illuminus, an expansion pack for Phantasy Star Universe. I walked past this game and never looked back. I felt like the series lost its magic and I didn’t want to waste cash on new games.

I do regret this action though, as I’ve been told that Illuminus is actually really good. Cut to about a year later and Phantasy Star Portable 1 comes out for the PSP. I become intrigued, especially after watch the announcement trailer. I pick the game up, and to my surprise, I loved it! It felt like the older PSO games and focused less on story and more on gameplay. Character customization was great, there were plenty of items to collect, and the okay-ish voice-acting was saved for the few cinematic cut-scenes in the game.

My love for this franchise was restored! At this time, I did something I hadn’t done in years: Check PSO-World for news on new games. Back when I was hardcore into PSO, I would go to this site for tips and tricks, as well as news on new releases. When I went to this site, I discovered that a sequel to Portable had already been released in Japan. Best of all, it was coming to North America the very next year!

I wait patiently over the course of several months, which felt like an eternity to me. After all that waiting, Portable 2 was released. I made my way down there and picked up my copy of the game. I became enthralled in this game, due to the impressive amount of content and the customization options. The story was fairly entertaining as well, though it’s not something I’d rank as my all time favorite story. I hope to review both Portable games in the future, but for now I’ll say that these two games brought back my interest in this series.

So, I waited patiently for the next Phantasy Star game, but… It never came. Sure, Japan kept getting Phantasy Star releases, but America was out of luck. We never got the official sequel to Phantasy Star Online over here, nor any of the spinoff games that came after. Phantasy Star Nova was also not localized here, due to Sega thinking that the fan-base for these game is no longer there. That isn’t true, in actuality this game series has a ton of fans. The problem is that the fans couldn’t really deal with the weird way Sonic Team handled the online servers. People didn’t want to play online, which lead to a lack of interest in that mode. It doesn’t help that Sega didn’t advertise the Portable games at all and just expected them to sell, just because it’s Phantasy Star.

So, the years pass without a new game and with my interest in the series gone. My PSP 3000 died so I could no longer play either of the Portable games, resulting in me selling off the games. I moved on with my gaming interests and focused on playing different games such as Elder Scrolls, Fallout, and Divinity. Come 2016 and I had mostly forgotten about the series… Until I discovered the Ephinea private server for PSO. I played this version of the game and was able to experience the online portion of PSO for the first time!

I made new friends, discovered new items, and was at last able to explore Episode IV in its entirety. After this, I emulated Phantasy Star Zero as I found that they no longer sold copies. I found that copies of this game were a bit hard to come by, so I had to emulate it if I wanted to give it a shot. Turns out, this DS prequel to the original PSO was pretty grand. It felt like classic PSO, but used some of the improvements of Universe. This resulted in a game that felt both fresh and retro at the same time.

And that’s my history with this franchise thus far. This series means a lot to me, as it there during those tough times in life. Those times where I felt like giving up, I just played this game and it renewed my confidence. I know that sounds cheesy, but PSO was a game that I used as a good game to let off steam. When I was bullied, or lost a friend, or was just disappointed with something, I would play this game to cheer myself up. I’ve changed a lot since those old days. Completed college, got a job, made several new friends, as well as being introduced to a ton of new games that aren’t Phantasy Star related. While I don’t think I’ll ever quite be done with this franchise, I can say that my passion for these games will continue for years to come. And with that, I leave you with this:

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Yes, this is really in one of the games. Fan-art that transcends just being fan-art.