Pacific Rim 2 Uprising: Why I’m Excited

Final_Four_Jaegers.jpg
Only half of these robots become important in the film, that’s a rather sad fact.

Believe it or not, when it comes to new movies I tend not to get that excited about them. I tend to be this way when it comes to films, unlike with video-games. With video-games, I can get a bunch on sale for a few bucks. When you go to the theater, you have to pay 15 bucks for a single film. So, I tend to mostly play games as opposed to going to to the theater to see all the new films. Their sadly just isn’t enough new and interesting stuff to entertain me.

This all changed in 2013, when I saw a film that was surprisingly refreshing. Pacific Rim was a love-letter to fans of the giant robot genre, and one of those few modern films that I can say I truly loved. I’m not calling Pacific Rim a modern masterpiece or anything. It’s a film about giant robots, who are being piloted by humans, and having to fight an alien menace. This film is almost as cheesy as Independence Day or Starship Troopers, yet it’s somehow really impressive and fun.

People forget that a movie doesn’t to be perfect or amazing to be a great film, the mark of a truly great film is being unique. I can’t think of too many giant robot movies out there, aside from Transformers and Real Steel. Nothing like Pacific Rim was really out at the time, at least not on the same scale.

Pacific Rim was this rare film, a film that emulated old mecha anime and managed to be its own thing. Humans pilot mechs known as “Jaegers”, fight giant monsters known as “Kaiju, while an AI that sounds like Glados from Portal gives them advice. It was something different, maybe a bit too different for Western audiences.

The film sadly did not do well in the West, barely breaking even and didn’t make up for the productions. Thankfully, the film did amazingly well overseas! It made a killing in countries like Japan and China, to the point where the filmmakers were given the go-ahead for a sequel.

Next year we are finally getting that sequel, a whopping five years after the original. After all, a film of this scale and magnitude takes time. Am I excited for this film? Oh, definitely! However, their are a few things that have raised some red flags for me. For one thing, the film is titled “Pacific Rim: Uprising”. You could not come up with a more generic sub-title for a film, even if you tried!

The moniker of “Uprising” has been used in so many properties that I’m surprised it hasn’t become a running joke yet. That’s more of a minor concern, I’m more concerned about the director. Steven S. DeKnight does have talent, he’s worked on some great shows such as Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Heck, he was even the showrunner for the Netflix Daredevil show!

Thing is, it’s different to jump from running a smaller budget TV show, to directing a high budget action film. Especially a film with a large budget and a massive audience of fans worldwide. To be fair, most modern big-budget films now are handled by small-time directors and writers. Deadpool and 10 Cloverfield Lane are examples of this done right.

Still, it’s not gonna be the same without Guillermo Del Toro directing. The man brought a unique sense of charm to the first film, and he’ll directorial presence will certainly be missed. Still, I’m going to give Steve the benefit of the doubt and see what he makes. Regardless of the quality of the film, it’s still gonna sell like hot-cakes in Japan again.

So, even if the film turns out to be bad, their will still be a good turn-out for it. Do I want the film to be bad? Of course not! Even if it is bad though, people will still most likely show up for it. I do hope it is a good film, despite the change in directors and its rather generic title.

Pacific Rim is a film that deserves to do well and it needs more attention. I think everyone needs to see this film when it comes out, because the hard-working crew behind it need all the attention they can get. Pacific Rim is one of those few films that manages to be entertaining, merging a cheesy and somewhat silly story with intense action scene and amazing special effects. 4 years later and Pacific Rim still stands as one of the nicest looking big-budget films I’ve seen in years.

In my opinion, Pacific Rim is a good example of how to do an original property. They did their own thing, while paying homage to a genre that was mostly unfamiliar with a lot of Americans. They took chances and they did something new, making one of the best robot movies ever in the process. In fact, I can’t think of too many robot films that come close to matching its quality! Except maybe I. Robot, that movie was pretty dope.

Advertisements

Top 5 Bandai-Namco Published Games

20170707113944_1.jpg
Time for a game of “Spot the Super Sentai reference”!

Who loves Pac-Man? Who loves Dig-Dug? Who loves a ton of awesome Japanese games only 5 people have played? That would be me! I’m a huge fan of the game company known as “Bandai-Namco”. They’ve produced countless good games over the years, some of which are my personal favorites! So, I thought that it would be a good idea to tackle a top 5 list of my favorite Bandai-Namco games. Now, please keep in mind that Bandai-Namco is a game publisher, not a developer. All the games that will be listed here were made by other developers.

Still, the games that are published by Bandai-Namco tend to be really awesome. They are one of the few publishers that hasn’t really gone off the deep end, and one of the few that continue to publish really good games. While Namco themselves used to make a lot of games, I wouldn’t be including those here. I will most likely do a separate list for Namco games, if I ever get around to playing them, that is. I’ve only ever played a couple. So yeah, let’s get into this list!

5. Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth

It’s hard to put into words how much I enjoyed this game! Cyber Sleuth is a turn-based RPG spinoff of the classic Digimon franchise. It plays a lot like the Pokemon games, though it does some unique things. It has a fun story, that sadly falls apart halfway through. Still, it’s definitely entertaining!

While the game is certainly a grind, it packs a ton of punch. It has over 300 different Digimon to collect, and writing that pays homage to various parts of the series. The game also sports some nice graphics for a Vita game, and manages to capture the original designs of the Digimon well. What stops me from putting this game higher on the list is the aforementioned somewhat weak story, coupled with the boring and annoying dungeon design, and constant grinding. Still, this is a solid and fun game that I think any hardcore Digimon fan can get behind.

4. Chroma Squad

I’ll be completely honest with you guys, I’m not the biggest fan of Power Rangers out there. Sure, I loved it back in the 90s and early 2000s, but haven’t really watched the show since. Still, when I heard about this little tactical RPG that takes elements from Power Rangers and Kamen Rider, I found myself intrigued. So, I decided to grab this game and was glad I did!

This little Indie game named Chroma Squad is made by the guys behind “Knights of Pen and Paper 1” and it’s somehow even better than that game! This is a game that combines simulation elements with strategy RPG elements, and puts a Power Rangers spin on it. The game is fun, albeit short.

On top of this, some of the more ridiculous elements tend to water down the game’s already silly narrative. Still, this is definitely a fun game, and it’s art-style reminds me a lot of older games such as Habbo Hotel. I feel fourth place is definitely a good place for Chroma Squad. It’s an extremely fun game, but I wouldn’t feel right putting it above the next three. This game is an awesome homage to Power Rangers, but isn’t anything too spectacular.

3. God Eater Resurrection

I’ve made it no secret I love God Eater. The original game on the PSP was a fantastic little gem, that unfortunately did not get a lot of attention. However, it was eventually remade and released on both PS Vita and other consoles. God Eater Resurrection is a damn fine game that adds so many refinements and modifications to an already strong formula.

This is a game that’s essentially a Monster Hunter clone, but adds in things such as enhanced maneuverability and better customization options. Heck, you can even make your own custom bullets in this game! This game also packs a ton of quests and missions into one cheap little package. That’s right, the Vita version was only 20 bucks!

It has such good value for its cheap price. In fact, if it wasn’t such a steal, I probably wouldn’t have bought it! It’s got a ton of new content and improvements, but at its core it it is the same game. With a new story mode, a newer and much more improved English, and several new weapon types, I can say that there is still a lot here for people who played the original game.

I’ve gushed about this game, but it does have problems. Some rather glaring flaws that made me push it further back on the list. For one thing, there no optional Japanese voice-acting option. Now, this is more of a nitpick, but it’s something that does annoy me. When I replay games, I tend to try the other language options, so I get a slightly different experience when I play through it the second time. Sadly, this game does not allow for that.

Couple this was constantly reused monsters, a lack of new creatures, some bits of awkward voice-acting here and there, and a somewhat underwhelming mutliplayer experience, and you have a game that misses the mark on occasion. Still, there’s enough good here that it out-weighs its negative features.

2. Solatorobo: Red The Hunter

I know what you’re thinking: “I’ve never heard of this game before! Why is it on the list?” I’ll tell you why: It’s awesome, unique and interesting! Ever wonder what would happen if Sherlock Hound was a video-game and had giant robots in it? That’s pretty much this game in a nut-shell! You play as a “Hunter” named Red, who is a dog-like being in a world filled with anthropomorphic felines and canines.

After a job goes awry, Red ends up saddled with a mysterious child named Elh. It’s up to Red, his sister Chocolat, and Elh to save the world from 2 different impending disasters. That’s right, two! For you see, much like an anime multiple story arc, the game is split into two parts. Even the second story arc introduces enough new things to keep the experience fresh.

The game’s combat, story, graphics, music, and characters are what elevated this game so high on the list. Here we have a game with a good story and a ton of rich lore, and manages to link back to an equally obscure game called “Tail Concerto”. That’s right, Solatorobo is a shared universe, but you don’t need to play the other games to get it. It is its own story, and a damn good one at that!

Playing this for the first time, I had inklings of what would happen. However, when I reached the end of both story arcs, I was pleasantly surprised! The gameplay is no slouch either, as it introduces a mechanic that lets you throw enemies at other. In fact, most of your time in combat will be spent picking up enemies and tossing them at each other. I always loved this style of combat, and it makes for some refreshing and inventive battles.

With all the good this game has, how come nobody ever talks about it? Well, this game does have a few glaring issues. For one thing, most of its side-quests are superfluous and pointless. The game also forces you to do a large majority of them if you want to progress in the main plot. On top of this, some boss battles are bit on the underwhelming side. The game likes to toss you against a blimp boss a lot, where you have to throw the rockets he fires back at him. That’s whole fight by the way, and there’s little permutations each time you do this.

Also, the game was not marketed well. Despite getting a whopping 100 commercials and airing them all in Japan, the game still flopped hard in its native country. On top of this, Bamco didn’t really advertise this game at all in America or other countries. As a result, it barely sold well at all. Nowadays, the game is hard to find and rare, mostly because nobody really bought it.

It’s really sad, honestly. This is a game that was made with more polish than modern games would get. Yet… Nobody played it. That’s why I feel so comfortable about putting this game so high. This isn’t a game that brings too many new things to the table, but it’s still a fun action RPG with an entertaining and somewhat dark plot. The game may be difficult to find, but if you can get it used I highly recommend you do!

1. Dragon Ball Fusions

People may wonder why I chose Fusions over Xenoverse, which I claimed was a superior game in a previous top 5 list. Well, for one thing I’ve felt I have been talking about Xenoverse way too much lately. On top of this, while I think Xenoverse is a superior game, I had more fun with Fusions. Dragon Ball Fusions is a unique beast, as it is a Dragon Ball video-game with monster collecting elements.

This game does not focus on Goku, but on your own player this time. Goku’s there, but he’s a side character. That’s what I enjoyed so much about this game, is that it feels like your story. All the other Dragon Ball heroes are just along for the ride. The problem with Dragon Ball games (especially Xenoverse) is that it never feels like your own story. This time, they changed it up and made it a lot more refreshing.

On top of this, the game also has a unique turn-based strategy RPG play-style. It’s difficult to describe how this game plays, it’s like an RPG meets a pinball game! That’s a bit of an exaggerated comparison, but I find it difficult to fully explain how this game plays. It meshes so many unique elements and manages to be extremely refreshing.

The game’s customization is its strongest point. You can customize how your character looks in so many ways, even choose the colors of each individual outfit piece. You can choose from five distinct races with enough options to make a character that truly suits you. Sure, the choices aren’t infinite or as robust as Xenoverse, but there’s definitely a good variety.

The game also has a stellar soundtrack and fantastic visuals, especially for a handheld game. I honestly love this game, way more than other game on the list. Despite this, I can still acknowledge its flaws. Battles are way too slow and can often take 15 minutes to half an hour if you aren’t careful. This game is also very grind-heavy at times. On top of this, the game’s unique “EX Fusion” system is cumbersome, despite it being one of the most fun parts of the game. It takes forever to defuse characters, and some of the requirements to get certain fusions is downright insane.

For example, to even fuse Cell with yourself, you have to complete all 16 quizzes. This requires you to complete a lot of busywork and will most assuredly take you a month of real-life time in order to pull it off. Sadly, a lot of fusions are like this. The game’s worst aspect though is the online multiplayer, which was patched in later.

It’s horribly unbalanced, and it’s possible to lose in just a few turns if your team isn’t overpowered as all hell. The best way to describe it is that its like a game of Chess, but with as many variables as a tabletop RPG. It’s insane, and it definitely sucks a fair bit of fun out of the game. It’s also impossible to find a forum where people aren’t complaining about this tacked-on feature.

Regardless, I don’t think you’ll find a more refreshing and accessible modern strategy RPG. Despite the fact that its mostly geared towards a younger audience, I think any hardcore Dragon Ball fan can get some enjoyment out of it. It’s a game that really shows what Bandai-Namco is capable of as a a publisher.

In Summation

That’s my list of my top favorite Bamco games! Keep in mind that while I am a massive fan of Bandai-Namco, I do acknowledge that they have faults. Their handling of Dokkan Battle was less than stellar at times, and bordered on feeling like a bit of ripoff at times. While I do enjoy their work, they are by no means a perfect company. Regardless, I’ll keep buying their games because I am wildly supportive of what they do.

So, what’s your favorite Bamco games? Feel free to tell me in the comment section! If you guys have any suggestions for specific types of top 5 lists you’d like to see, let me know below. Have a good day and keep it as sweet as syrup!

My Personal Opinion On Spiderman: Homecoming

So, I recently saw Spider-Man: Homecoming a few days back, and I wanted to give a bit of a review on it. Not a full-sized Sweet As Syrup review, but more just my personal thoughts on the film. For those of you who don’t know what the deal with this film is, it’s Sony’s attempt as “reviving” the Spider-Man movie brand. You see, the last film made a ton of cash, but not as much as Sony was hoping for.

As a result, they handed the reigns of the series over to Marvel and Disney, in order to make a Spider-Man film that can sell well to audiences again.  This eventually lead to Spider-Man’s appearance in the “Captain America: Civil War” crossover film, and eventually lead to the creation of this new film.

So, what is Spider-Man about? Well, I’d tell you all about the character, but the film decides to skip all the origin stuff. While I’m glad it did so, I still feel that certain people watching this will have no idea who Spidey is or how he got his powers. Sure, it’s common knowledge, but the film dances around his origin so much. There are very few references to Uncle Ben, the mugger who shot him, or the radioactive spider who bit Peter.

So, to sum up the film without spoiling it, let me give you the run-down. Peter Parker is Spider-Man and has dreams of joining The Avengers. Peter wants to essentially give up on his civilian life, and essentially be Spider-Man full-time. This is definitely an interesting twist, in some ways it feels like an inversion of one of Spider-Man 2’s sub-plots. Sadly, Homecoming does no do as much with the concept as you’d think.

So, while dealing with his home and school life, Peter must also content with a bunch of armored thugs on the street. It turns out that Adrian Toomes (played by Val Kilmer) has stolen alien tech and is using it to build powerful weapons. He sells these to thugs on the street, and also has a cabal of henchmen doing his dirty work. Toomes isn’t afraid to get involved himself, and has also built this really cool bird-suit. Taking the moniker of “The Vulture” he sets out to steal stuff, so he can support his family.

That’s about as much of the plot as I’ll discuss, since I don’t want to go into major spoiler territory. Now, I’d say this film is pretty good. Solid characters, entertaining story, fantastic action sequences, and a very likable villain help make this film a good watch. However, we also have a film that is extremely flawed at times.

For one thing, the film is stuffed with way too many jokes. I’m okay with a Spider-Man film having some jokes here or there, but they went overboard with this film. The first half of the film just felt overstuffed with comedy bits, even when serious plot elements were happening. While the humor was generally entertaining, the film didn’t shy away from using stale and dated internet memes.

Worse than the rather jokey nature of the first half of the film, was just Spider-Man in general. This version of the character was laughably weak, and had to be bailed out of almost every situation. When he wasn’t getting saved, he was inadvertently causing the disaster and then fixing it. I get it, this is supposed to be a young Peter Parker learning how to be a hero. However, there was never a point in the film where I felt like Peter really earned his victories.

Even other teenage incarnations of Spider-Man were more competent than he was. That’s not to say he never did any AMAZING or SPECTACULAR things, but more often than not it was from situations he caused by accident. A good example of the disappointment that came with Spider-Man was his fights against The Vulture. Not once in this film did Peter ever manage to beat down Vulture. It got to the point where Peter’s victory against the villains felt completely hollow.

Another thing I did not like was how weak the finale felt. Without giving anything away, Spidey just kinds of wins while barely doing anything in that final fight. The finale just never felt satisfying, and I sat there just expecting more. Epic things did happen during said ending, but it wasn’t enough to make it feel like a truly good finale. Compare this to Spider-Man 1 or 2, which had some fantastic endings with extremely satisfying fights and stakes.

Now, I’ve done a lot of nitpicking and over-analyzing on this film thus far, to the point where one may think I hate it. Far from it, I thoroughly enjoyed this film. The characters were interesting and fun enough to keep me engaged, and most of them were nearly perfect in their portrayals. I say “most of them”, because I couldn’t stand the portrayals of certain characters like Shocker and Flash Thompson in this film.

The film also had a really rocking soundtrack, and some fantastic special effects. The thing is, this film could’ve been a whole better. The problem is that this film played it too safe. It didn’t put as much punch into the film as a whole, which left the film lacking stakes in many areas. The hero was under-powered, the villains were just guys with powerful tech, and the adults’ only purpose in this film seemed to be telling Peter how he was screwing up.

I think this film did do what it set out to accomplish: Reinvent Spider-Man, make him closer to his comic book counterpart, and make the character popular with the movie-going public once more. Even though I had problems with this film, I respect that the filmmakers went out of their way to present a more modern and faithful adaptation of the source material. If had to give this film any sort of numerical score, it would most likely be a 7/10. A pretty good superhero flick to watch on the weekend with pals, but nothing much beyond that.

Personal Thoughts: What Makes a Great Open-World RPG?

Mount_&_Blade_-_Warband_cover.jpg
That horse does not look happy to be on this box-art.

I love open-world games, specifically open-world RPGs. Role-playing games just feel good with a lot of open areas to fully explore. The problem with open-world RPGs is that they have a fair bit of problems, some of which have persisted with the genre since their inception in the 90s. To be fair though, I’ve seen a ton of good examples of it being done right.

The thing that makes an open-world RPG bad is often the world itself. If you fill the world with boring side-quests, uninteresting NPCs, and uninspired dungeons, then you aren’t doing a good job of making a believable. A world needs to be interesting and full of unique and exciting things. If your epic fantasy / sci-fi world is just a more boring version of real-life, than you’ve failed at making an interesting open-world environment.

Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Fallout: New Vegas managed to avoid this pitfall altogether, by having likable and interesting characters, as well as unique worlds. These two games had a ton of unique and fun side-quests, and were just generally a ton of fun. Skyrim did some things right, like making a more believable and much more visually appealing world. However, they also had a ton of really boring side-quests and dungeons crammed into every orifice of the world.

On the subject of Skyrim, another thing I don’t like about open-world RPGs is that the whole world revolves around you. In most open-world games, things don’t get done unless you are there to get them done. All the quests and dungeons in any RPG is beatable by your protagonist. While they are there for the player’s enjoyment, it breaks immersion. Most of the time, it feels like you are the only person in the world getting things done.

A game that got this right was Mount & Blade: Warband. This game was fantastic, mostly because its open-world didn’t focus solely on you the player. You start out as some random guy, with an origin you select. From there, the world is your oyster. Side-quests in this game are a bit boring and static, but the game manages to balance this out by making them timed. Some side-quests can be failed very easily, such as another army wiping out a hoard of bandits before you get the chance.

While I respect that an open-world needs to have a lot of things for the player to do, I wish that other people would be doing these things as well. Sure, you can find corpses in dungeons of people who attempted such things, but that’s about it. You’ll never encounter rival adventurers, unless they are a part of a quest itself, which is very rare indeed. Mount & Blade managed to find this good balance of making the world feel alive, while at the same time not overpowering your hero.

Another thing that open world-games have a problem with is direction. More often than not, making a game open-world often destroys the necessity to do the story at all. Certain open-world games try to keep you busy with a lot of optional content that just feels superfluous. Fallout 4 is a big offender of this. So much of the side-content in Fallout 4 just felt kind of lame. The game forces you to do a fair bit of it, such at the settlement building. Even if you don’t want to do it, the game makes you do it anyways.

I feel open-world games need more structure. Freedom is fine, but not if there’s too much freedom. That’s where games like Divinity II come into play. Divinity II balances its open-world structure by splitting its open-world between multiple zones. You’ll start in one area in the game, and move to other areas over the course of your playthrough. About 10 hours in, the game really opens up! Until this point, areas have been large, but not too large that it distracts from the plot.

Once you reach the third major area, you can basically do what you want! Plus, there are certain areas from past sections that you can return to. Another thing an open-world needs is that sense of discovery. When you’re playing a game like Kingdom of Amalur, you often don’t get that sense of discovery. As much as I love Amalur, it’s really just a single-player MMO. While it presents a truly massive world, most of the things that occur within it are pretty samey. Their aren’t as many secrets to discover, and bizarre creatures to battle as other games have.

Risen 1 is an open-world game that really surprised me. It packed its fairly large island with a ton of secrets, as well as tough enemies. I won’t forget the first time I faced down a Grave Moth and heard that terrifying shriek! Risen 1 is a game that has more problems than a grade 12 Math test, but it’s definitely more fun than it has any right to be.

So in short, I think what the perfect open-world RPG needs is:

  1. An open-world that opens up to the player gradually, instead of shoving a massive landscape to explore in your face at the start.
  2. An open-world that doesn’t revolve around the player, but instead has them as an active part of said world.
  3. A world that feels real and is packed with meaningful side content and characters.
  4. A good attention to detail, and a ton of lore and nifty little secrets to back it up.

Of course, there is a ton of other factors involved, including having good graphics and great gameplay. I think the open-world in an open-world game is just as important as the gameplay, at least in my opinion. I know that no game will ever have that perfect “open-world experience” I crave. Still, several games come close.

One thing I’d like to touch on that really annoys me with open-world games is that too many series are going open world. You have Toukiden, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and Fallout. Yeah, I get that people love open-world experiences, but not every series needs to transition into that. I think it worked well for Toukiden, while the other games definitely had some dry periods.  Still, these games do bring a lot of enjoyment to the table. However, I think open-world games need to start balancing their wealth of content with a more quality experience. In my eyes, an open-world should focus on being one thing and one thing alone: An actual world.

Weird Commercials From The 90s: Phantasy Star Online

Having just talking about the oddity that was the Batman OnStar commercials, I thought I’d discuss another oddball advertisement. I’m of course talking about the often forgotten original trailer for Phantasy Star Online. Back in the day when a game was coming out, you were usually given a trailer that was mostly gameplay. Nowadays, you have all these cinematic trailers for games that tell you little of the game itself, aside from the setting and plot.

However, in the 90s and 2000s, trailers for games would actually talk about the games! Wish trailers were like that nowadays. Regardless, PSO’s original trailer was really out there, and was coated in the late 90s cheese. So, today I thought I’d review a commercial and talk about the original trailer for PSO.

The trailer in question starts with that classic Phantasy Star Online music, coupled with the Sonic Team logo. Honestly, PSO’s soundtrack is so amazingly solid that it would be a crime to not attach it to every single commercial for the game. The game then has several voice actors saying random words as the appear on the screen. Most of them relate to the game, but at one point a person says “Not Fighting”. Yeah, fighting is like 95% of the game. Not fighting is never an option, unless you’re in the lobby or you’ve cleared out a room of monsters.

Still, the game seems to say it as if the option to not fight monsters is a thing, which it isn’t. One of the last keywords they say is “A New World”, which will never stop being cheesy to me. I mean, you couldn’t come up with a sillier line even if you tried! I still love the line, despite its rather awkward delivery. Speaking of awkward, time to get into the obligatory narration about how amazing the game is!

The trailer then cuts to a person hooking up a Dreamcast, while a narrator with a strangely intense voice talks about how awesome PSO is. This guy sounds really campy and over the top with his delivery, as if he’s trying to be the narrator for Dragon Ball Z or something! After a bit of narration, we cut to an explosion on the planet known as “Ragol”. I’ll be honest, the way soundtrack is framed here makes this moment fairly intense.

We then cut to the logo for the game, before getting into more over-the-top narration. This guy deserves a medal for making a Dreamcast game feel like some kind of momentous event! We are then given a jumble of concept art, intermixed with gameplay from the actual game. The narrator then refers to the game as “the world’s first network multiplayer consumer RPG”. This description makes no sense, as MMOs have existed for a long time before this. I think what he meant to say was “first massive multiplayer RPG on a home console”, which would’ve been far more accurate.

This guy goes to make more wild claims, like how the gaming population is “the entire population of the world”. This is probably one of the most insane claims ever made, especially because online gaming was such a niche market at this point. It’s more than likely a fair bit of countries didn’t have access to stable internet at this point, so online gaming on a global scale wasn’t as developed.

The narrator then tells us that he wants to us to “enter the world of ultimate network gaming”. I’ll be honest, this is one of the few claims he has said so far that have made sense. PSO is ultimate network gaming, at least in my eyes. It’s fun with friends, and certainly enjoyable. Playing online is fun too, if you can past everyone stealing your items.

However, the trailer then goes back into complete insanity. The narrator than says “we want to give you the experience of travelling to different planets”. Uh… That isn’t a thing in the game. You only ever travel to one planet, which is Ragol. You can travel to other planets, but that’s only in the spinoff “Phantasy Star Universe”. Universe itself didn’t come out for several years after this, on top of being in a completely different continuity.

The game then talks about communicating with other players for a bit, before recounting the explosion from earlier. The best line the narrator gives is this: “Just what happened here? To find out, you’ll have to communicate and cooperate with people logging in from all over the world!” Again, this is not true. You do have to figure out what’s going on, but you don’t need to team up with other players to do so. In fact, if you tried asking them what’s going on, they’d probably spoil the whole plot for you.

In fact, it’s recommend that you play the story mode in offline mode first. Why is this? Well, various logs left behind by “Red Ring Rico” detail most of the plot. You won’t see these logs if you play online, so you’re missing out on large chunks of the plot. The narrator then says “You’ll solve numerous intricate puzzles!” Wait, what puzzles? This game has puzzles in it? Well, to get certain areas, there are a few switch puzzles. Most of these are optional though, and usually just lead to extra item boxes.

The narrator then details how you have to communicate with other players again. Man, this guy really loves to stress the “communication” aspect of this game! One part I like is how the narrator details how “language barriers have broken down”. This is actually something completely true about the game, as each dialogue option you can use is translated into multiple languages. So, you can say “hello” in English and it be translated into cultural equivalents for people who speak other languages.

The line that really encapsulates this game is this: “The world of Phantasy Star Online lasts for an eternity!” This pretty much sums up the game in a nutshell. People are STILL playing the original game, and its various spin-offs and sequels. The narrator then goes back to gushing about how amazing the game is, and how you can play it for “as long as you want”. Sadly, you can’t really play the game at all anymore, unless you use private servers or have the console versions.

The narrator then proclaims the game as an “unlimited adventure fantasy”, before going over all the “groundbreaking” features of the game one more time. Then he starts talking about how PSO has an “online population open to the entire world”. Again, not everyone had dial-up at the time. So, it was mostly open to the large countries with stable internet, if you can even call DSL stable.

Our narrator finishes off the trailer with this line: “Phantasy Star Online! The gaming revolution comes in the year 2000! The door to the future, the door to freedom.” Gotta love that cheesy ending line, designed to send chills down the spine of any avid video-gamer in the late 90s and early 2000s.

So yeah, that was the original trailer for PSO. I’ll be honest, I kind of like this commercial. I like it mostly because it’s so bad it is good. It’s cheesiness is what makes it so entertaining! I’ll be honest, they seemed to get several facts of the game itself wrong. They made the game sound like it was some godly masterpiece of gaming. While it’s true that this is my favorite game of all time, it’s not the “ultimate gaming experience”. Still, the commercial did get some things right. At least it was entertaining, unlike a lot of other game trailers today…

My Favorite Series of Commercials Ever: OnStar’s Batman

It’s that time of year again, the time when we get yet another Batman film! Well, Justice League won’t be just a Batman film, but feature a wide number of superheroes. However, Batman will be a huge selling point of the film, without a doubt. In fact, Batman can pretty much sell any product. Want some proof? Well, this fictional superhero once managed to sell everyone on OnStar!

What’s OnStar? It’s a special hands-free calling service, that also offers turn-by-turn navigation. OnStar is a service that is still used today, though it’s more of a novelty now than it was back then. So, what made OnStar into a big name? It comes down to their first major advertising campaign, I’m talking about the Batman commercials!

The Batman commercials for OnStar were fairly unique, utilizing a lot of elements from the Batman movies. They forcused on Batman fighting crime, while at the same time making good use of the features that come with OnStar. The idea of Batman being able to make use of something as basic as OnStar was an interesting idea. Just having Batman in these commercials is selling point on its own.

What sets these commercials apart from other Batman commercials at the time was the amount of sets and costumes used from the films. Despite using an entirely new cast, (with the exception of Alfred who is still played by Michael Gough) these commercials managed to cast a ton of really good substitutes. The commercials take elements from both the 60s show and Tim Burton films. The guy they got playing Joker in these commercials reminds me a whole lot of the late great Caeser Romero.

Batman using OnStar was a silly concept, especially due to the fact that Batman would never need such a device. Still, the commercials were entertaining enough to sell millions of OnStar devices. What was a relatively unknown product at the time, quickly became a household name. There was even a contest held, as a sort of cross-promotion with OnStar.

The winner of said contest would be featured in the next Batman film. I even had a 10 cent Batman comic that I got at an event advertising said contest. So, who won? I have no clue. I don’t even know if that person got the promised cameo in Batman Begins, which was the Batman film that the contest was supposedly advertising for.

While the commercials were pretty badass back in the day, I wish more had been done with all the costumes and props they had borrowed from the films. It feels like a bit of a waste that they were only used for a few movies and a couple commercials, since some of them were really well put-together.

So yeah, those are my thoughts on this series of decade old commercials. They are fun little time-wasters with extremely over-inflated budgets. They sold what they intended to and were entertaining, but not much beyond. I’m still hoping that these props and costumes are still around somewhere, waiting to be utilized in some new Batman project. Even if that isn’t the case, at least we got some old awesome commercials out of it.

Is Inuyasha Worth Watching?

a37d1d290c088dff53ed4a98b997de27.jpg
That’s one strong tree branch!

Now, here’s something I thought I’d never talk about: The early 2000s anime known as Inuyasha. This was a old Shonen anime revolving around a teenage girl travelling back in time to the feudal era of Japan. Once she arrives, she comes face to face with a half-demon with dog ears known as Inuyasha and they start an extremely awkward romantic relationship. While not constantly arguing with each other and pretending not to be a couple, they fight demons of varying skills and powers. The same time, they try to gather a jewel that has shattered well into over 100 shards.

You heard me right, 100 shards, at least! This means our heroes are constantly on the hunt for these little slivers of crystal, before the villains get them and obtain ultimate power. This means the show can continue as long as the original creator Rumiko Takahashi wants it to. So, with such a long-running series with so many character and plot-lines, one may wonder if such an enormous series is worth watching. So, I shall do that by telling you my thoughts on the series and lay out some pointers if you plan on watching this series from beginning to end.

Inuyasha is a show that has almost 200 episodes and four films, but about 90% of it content is superfluous and can be skipped. This is a series that already was episodic in nature before being made into anime from its manga form. The problem with this episode nature gets worse when you factor in “filler”. What is filler? It’s usually story-arcs and episodes that weren’t in the original manga.

However, since so much of Inuyasha is episodic, the manga itself tends to have its own fair share of filler. This makes it hard to distinguish what you need to watch in order to get the plot. Inuyasha will tend to have 20 episodes of forgettable filler, with about 3 episodes of actual plot afterwards. This seems to be a repeating problem with the series as a whole.

I think the best way to describe Inuyasha, is that its like an extremely long submarine sandwich. It’s stuff to the brim with sandwich filling, but at the same time it’s just too much to eat all at once. You’ll never be able to eat the whole thing before it goes stale, which I think is an apt metaphor for this franchise as whole.

While Inuyasha can have some good action sequences and fun characters, its “plot” seems to go around in circles constantly. To really get Inuyasha’s plot, you’d probably need to watch only about 30-40 episodes out of a 193 episode run. Even the “Final Act” is filled with a lot of forgettable fluff. I feel like watching this show with an episode guide is a must, due to how much of isn’t important to the plot at all.

I still recommend people watch this show, with the caveat that they skip large chunks of episodes. If you do have the time to watch all the episodes, be warned that you’re going to deal with a lot of awkward romantic scenes and pointless nonsense. While I did find Inuyasha’s content to be a bit pretentious at times, I still enjoyed it the first time around.

As for the Inuyasha films, I only recommend watching the third. The third film seems to be the only that tries to add lore into the series itself, or at the very least tie back into it. The second film tries to add something new, but ends up feeling as pointless as most of the filler this series provides.

Ranma 1/2 had a similar problem to Inuyasha, which is being an action show that is stuffed with too much random shenanigans and not enough plot. However, Ranma had more of a focus on comedy than action. So, despite the two series being made by the same person, I kind of have to give Ranma a pass in this regard.

In short, if you want to watch Inuyasha, you kind have to cherry-pick which episodes to watch. While the series can deliver epic moments, the show’s main problem is that it lacks direction and focus for most of the series. The forced romance bits can also get in the way of your enjoyment of this series. Still, I think a lot of people who have yet to actually watch Inuyasha can get some enjoyment out of it.

The Original Tron: Is It Good Or Bad?

Dumont (1)
I can’t even begin to imagine how heavy that silly suit was to wear! Poor old guy…

This is a question I posed to myself while watching through the original Tron movie yesterday. I’m not sure if I had seen the whole film before watching the film, as certain things I didn’t seem to recall. I have seen bits and pieces of this film beforehand, but this was my first real time sitting through the entire film. So… What did I think of it? Well, it was okay.

That’s the short answer, the long answer is that I’m divided on what I really thought of this film. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, Tron is a cult-classic 80s film. It was made by Disney and featured Jeff Bridges in the leading role, and was based off an arcade game released to coincide with the film. I guess you could say that the Tron franchise was one of the first multimedia franchises ever!

The film revolved around a young programmed named Kevin Flynn (played by Jeff Bridges) being sucked into a computer world after attempting to hack a database in order to get back some important data. From there, Kevin gets captured by a rogue control program called the MCP, and has to deal with his lacky Sark. On top of this, Kevin also has to deal with an army of opposing programs, and get back to the real world.

Now, that seems like a lot to pack into one film. Sure, it’s only a few sub-plots, but they seem substantial enough to warrant a fairly long run-time. Surprisingly, Tron is only about 90 minutes long. That’s a pretty short film for such a extensive plot! Due to the film’s short length, it ends up making the plot feel rushed.

As soon as Kevin enters the computer world, everything going on in the real world becomes superfluous. We don’t revisit the real world until the last few minutes of the film, and it’s really just to wrap things up. Stuff just kind of happens in this film, sometimes with little explanation. A lot of stuff that happens in the computer world is not fleshed out at all. For example, there’s a part where Flynn and his new allies drink a strange kind of virtual water inside this computer world. What is the water? Where did it come from? Why do programs need to drink it? None of this is ever explained.

Another example is this part where they show these weird computer bugs, and one character warns not to go near them. These bug things are never seen or mentioned again, and are heroes never encounter them. Why bring up a potential threat for our heroes and not really do anything with it? Now, do I think the story and is terrible? It’s shoddy at times, but it definitely is enjoyable.

Characters work off each other really well and the acting is top-notch. The first 30 minutes spent in the real world (despite its superfluous nature) are actually really well-written. It’s just when our heroes enter the computer world is when things start to lose steam. Speaking of the computer world, the next part of the film I found to be divisive was how it looked.

Tron’s most unique aspect at the time was that it was one of the first films ever to use CGI. Tron used a bizarre mixture of several different special effects and animation styles in order to create a world that felt diverse. Unfortunately, these sequences look horribly dated. I noticed on Netflix that the film had a 1 and a half star as its rating, which may be influenced mostly by how it looks.

The CGI is horribly dated, and looks amateurish by today’s standards. I can kind of forgive that, mostly due to this being a very early attempt at such a style. However, I have to say that the 2D sequences weren’t implemented that well into the structure of this world.  The constant use of different styles and effects made this move feel more like an experimental film than anything else.

To be fair, this film was an experiment. It was an attempt to craft a world that felt like it was inside a computer, and even depicted computer games as a gladiatorial death-match. Other series like Reboot feel like they borrowed a lot from Tron, and to this day it remains wholly unique.

The thing is that Tron just does not look good by today’s standards, and the plot is just riddled with holes and lacks explanations for a lot of its mechanics.  Tron has good characters, but fails to expand most of them. While some things about this film I find pretty cool, (like how every computer program is played by the same actor who created them in-universe) it just lacked so much attention to detail.

Now, do I think Legacy is better? In some ways, I certainly do. Legacy has better effects, a more well-designed world, better action sequences, and a far better soundtrack. Behind all of Legacy’s fancy effects and amazing soundtrack, is a film with fairly stale characters and a somewhat bland and formulaic plot. While the original Tron’s plot had a lot wrong with it, you could still get a fair bit of enjoyment out of it.

So, in the end, I’m divided on Tron. Maybe I’m just spoiled by modern film and television, but I find it so difficult to get behind this film. I guess I just prefer Tron: Uprising, and how fleshed out its world felt when compared to this film. Still, Tron is something to behold for people who have never seen it. Still, it’s impressive for the era, not so much now. One last thing I want to mention before heading out: Why were they wearing togas? No, seriously! Half the characters had togas over their computer suits, is the inside of the computer based on Greece or something? I just don’t get it!

Looking Back At The Dragon Ball Craze of The 90s

20170714104205_1.jpg
Now this is a crossover I’d love to see!

Yep, I’m talking about Dragon Ball again! This is series that I really can’t get enough of, though I’m not as big into it was I was in the 90s. The 90s was definitely the height of Dragon Ball’s popularity in the West. Sure, it’s still popular in North America today, but nowhere as much as it was back then. In the 90s, Dragon Ball was a powerhouse. It made millions of dollars for Funimation, and was one of Toonami’s breakout hits. We’re talking about a series that really changed how westerners viewed anime.

For those who don’t know what Dragon Ball is, I’ll give you a brief synopsis of the series: An alien warrior named Goku fights against powerful beings for the sheer thrill of it, while having the occasional adventure and saving the planet. This simple premise alone was enough to sell people on this show. Dragon Ball was one of those rare anime series that managed to get 95% of its content localized.

So much Dragon Ball stuff that was originally only Japanese exclusive was brought over here. Just think about that for a second, think of how many long-running anime have had almost all their content translated and brought over. I’m talking ALLLLL the content, not just the shows. We’ve only had a few One Piece movies dubbed, when there’s actually a ton of them only available in Japan. Likewise, OVAs of shows like One Piece and Bleach never made their way over here.

Dragon Ball has received so many games, shows, and movies that have all made their way over here to America. Sure, there are several things we didn’t get, but the amount of comment we did get was staggering. Now, back to the 90s for a second, how much content did the average cartoon at the time have? Most seasons were about 13-26 episodes long. That’s when the Dragon Ball series came along, with almost FIVE-HUNDRED episodes split between three different shows.

That’s not even including all the films, specials, and OVAs that came along too! One of the reasons I believe Dragon Ball was such a hit in the 90s, was due to just how much content was available. With all the various iterations of the franchise making their way to America around the same time, there was enough content to keep a person busy for years.

Not only that, but Dragon Ball’s focus on action and comedy also made it popular with kids and adults alike. Things like this really lead to Dragon Ball’s success! You had those cheesy toy commercials, ads for the games, and also those sweet DBZ bumpers on Toonami. Dragon Ball wasn’t as big of a craze as something like Pokemon or Tomagatchi was, but was definitely popular.

At one point, Dragon Ball even had a couple of magazines! Yes, I’m serious. There were two different Dragon Ball magazines, at least from what I can recall. They had all these promos and contests in said magazine, along with adverts for the trading card game. Surprisingly enough, Dragon Ball never really seemed to be polarizing with parents. This was surprising, as other anime at the time like Pokemon and Digimon were considered “satanic”.

Dragon Ball never got too much flack from parents (outside of it being too violent, which was a commonality at the time) and was also rarely featured on the news. I think this lack of infamy really stopped the show from progressing into an even bigger phenomenon. You see, when something like Pokemon is getting flack on the news, it’s getting advertised in some way. So, even if the newscaster is decrying it, people are gonna get interested in it regardless.

I never really saw Dragon Ball that much on the news, probably because it came out later on in the 90s. The early-to-mid 90s was more obsessed with controversy, and Dragon Ball didn’t really gain a lot of popularity until about 1998-1999. So around that time, anime such as Dragon Ball wasn’t seen as being all that bad in terms of content. So, how come Dragon Ball isn’t as popular today?

Unfortunately, like a lot of cool things to come out of the 90s, Dragon Ball was just a fad. It’s popularity died down after a while, especially after Funimation ran out of content to bring over here. For a long time, the only thing keeping the Dragon Ball name relevant in the West was the video-games. Thankfully, DB has seen a resurgence in recent years and is starting to become a fad once more.

Still, I’ll never forget the height of its popularity back in the day. I remember having the toys, posters, various episodes on VHS, as well as Legacy of Goku for the Game Boy Advance. I kind of wish Dragon Ball was bit like that again, but who knows? Maybe Dragon Ball Super and the constant flow of DB games will bring an even larger fan-base to it. The 90s was amazing for Dragon Ball and its fan-base, but I’m totally looking forward to what the future holds!

Digimon Masters Online: The Worst MMO I Ever Played

digimon-masters-online-zoom-close.jpg
Pretty sure that’s not an Agumon…

Yep, I’m talking about MMORPGs again. I’ll be honest, I don’t play a whole lot of MMORPGs. These are games that will eat up a lot of your time and tend to be pretty boring, at least to me. A ton of MMOs (like Phantasy Star Online and City of Heroes) do something unique or interesting. Certain MMOs just have so much passion poured into them, that it’s easy to overlook their flaws.

However, there are so many MMORPGs that are just downright terrible. I’m talking games that are just a wonder to behold in terms of their terrible qualities. One such game is the extremely atrocious Digimon Masters Online. So, a brief synopsis for people who don’t know what Digimon are: The Digimon franchise revolves around humans teaming up with Digital Monsters in order to save the world. Each series and iteration of the franchise is its own thing, and is set in a universe separate from the others.

Somehow, this MMO spinoff really misses the point of the franchise. For one thing, instead of creating its own separate universe, it just uses the one from Digimon Savers. Now, I love Savers, it’s a great show, but the problem is that the setting doesn’t lend itself well to an MMO. It’s about an elite group of digital policeman called “D.A.T.S.”, who are limited in number. Sure, there’s a fair number of them, but not an army like this game seems to suggest!

What’s worse is that the game only lets you choose from four characters, and you can’t customize their appearance AT ALL. Sure, you can dress them in certain outfits, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’ll always be the same character. Most outfits disappear after a while anyways, making this whole game feature feel pretty trivial. Now, it is true you can get more characters later, but they function the same. There’s no real stat differences, and they are just other characters from the show. There are no unique new characters made for the game, only characters that people who watched the anime will know.

That’s another problem with the game, it doesn’t know what kind of audience its trying to rope in. You’d think the game would be made for those who are familiar with the shows, but it gets a lot of the elements of the series wrong. It also blends together several shows into one plot-line, including taking element from both seasons of Adventure. It makes so its difficult to follow at times.

Worse still, certain events will play out exactly how they did in the show. Even if you know the events in advance, there’s nothing you can do to change it. For example, everyone who watched Savers knows that the one mad-scientist guy is clearly evil. Yet, even if you go into this game with said knowledge, you still have to help this guy with his plans. You can’t confront him early, or do something interesting with that knowledge. No, you have to play stupid and help this guy essentially destroy the planet, or at least attempt to.

These are just minor things I’ve brought up, so far. Trust me, there’s a lot about this game that is really terrible. For example, it’s completely pay to win! You want to keep those clothing pieces so they don’t explode off your body? You gotta pay! Want Digimon that don’t suck? You gotta pay! Want better items and gear general? That’s right, you gotta pay! I’m fine with games being free-to-play and using micro-transactions, but not when they are scams like this! This game is completely pay-to-win, you need to buy things to get further in this game. While this doesn’t seem like a huge problem, it is.

If you want to have actual fun in this game, you need to pay out the wazoo for trivial items. It’s annoying and cumbersome, and makes the game feel like a scam overall. Honestly, I’d still be willing to toss the developers a few of my hard-earned shekels, if the game itself wasn’t fundamentally terrible. It’s your typical “click a bunch of things on the action bar and wait for them to recharge” type of MMO.

There’s nothing unique or interesting here, aside from maybe the ability to Digivolve your Digimon during combat. This can change certain things, but is otherwise just as boring as other things in the game. The biggest problem with this game is its terrible translation. I’ve some pretty bad translations, mostly from Bandai-Namco. However, Bamco’s translations are at least legible. Sure, they may be filled with the occasional spelling error and bad translation, but you always know what’s happening in the plot.

The translation for this game is so awful and illegible, that half the time I don’t know what’s happening! Dialogue seems so shoddily written, and each sentence is mired with dozens of grammatical mistakes. It’s hard to find a single line of dialogue in this game that doesn’t reek of poor translation. Yes, I know translation is a difficult undertaking, but this is a game meant to be played by millions!

People are expected to throw tons of cash at this game, but will end up getting a product that is littered with terrible writing and impossible to understand dialogue. The last thing I want to touch on is the soundtrack… It’s okay. It’s not awful or anything, but it’s not special either. You got some pretty good sounding guitar riffs, but otherwise nothing too interesting.

As you can tell, I really did not like this game. In fact, the only thing that kept me playing was the Digimon branding. Without Digimon, I never would have touched this game. I respect that some people may like it, but I just don’t. To me, this game was the antithesis of what the series stood for: Which was reinventing itself and its universe with each new installment. Instead of getting an MMO with its own story and setting, I was just playing through the Savers plot, that was hashed together with plots from other seasons.

In the end, there’s not a whole lot of good things to say about this game. I mean, the graphics are okay. The designs look like how they would in the show, and the game never seemed to lag all that often. Aside from that, there’s nothing that really stood out to me. This was a game that was just boring, and felt like it was trying too hard to con me out of my hard-earned cash. In order for me to put down cash for a free-to-play game, I need to feel like I was being given a good demo of the game. If this is a demo, than I definitely don’t want the full package!