That Sailor Moon Thanksgiving Marathon No One Ever Talks About

As much as I love the shows of the 90s, I’ll admit that not everything about them was perfect. While people like to look back at how great animation was in the 90s, we did have several stinkers. I think a good example of this was the localization of the cult classic Sailor Moon anime.

I liked this show in a “guilty pleasure” sort of way. Sailor Moon was an action show, and at the time I was all about those kinds of shows. I grew up on Arthur and The Knights of Justice, Power Rangers, and Spiderman: The Animated Series, so this seemed right up my alley.

What I got from this show wasn’t what I was expecting at all. The characters had all these American names, despite supposedly living in Japan. Not only that, but a ton of the darker elements were cut out of the broadcast. They turned a semi-dark and action-packed series into a rather toned back comedy aimed for kids, stripping away all that made it unique.

In all honesty, I’m not really a fan of the original Japanese versions of anime. If an English version exists, I’ll watch that instead. I don’t know if I could really suffer through the original English dub of Sailor Moon again, it was torture enough the first time! I mean, was “Sailor Moon Says” really a necessary addition to the show?

If I ever watch this series again, I’ll probably stick to the re-dub they did a few years back. That version sounds far more professional! If you thought the dub was bad, then you probably haven’t heard about something far: The Sailor Moon Thanksgiving Marathon. What is this marathon? Well, let me tell ya!

Around the mid-to-late 90s, DIC Entertainment was looking to cash-in on the Sailor Moon craze. Despite their dub being pretty awful, it was popular enough to garner a massive fan-base here in America. DIC wanted to create a live-action film based on Sailor Moon, despite American films based off anime usually doing bad in the box-office.

Of course, you can’t just rush into a live-action endeavor such as this. Budgeting for a film of this caliber would probably be expensive, so you’d have to test the waters first. That’s where this Thanksgiving marathon comes into play. In 1996, a weekend-long marathon of the first season of Sailor Moon was held. Normally, a marathon of something animated wouldn’t garner attention at all.

However, this special had a little something “unique” attached to it. Before the marathon and between commercials, we had live-action segments of an actress in a Sailor Moon costume. This actress was Tia Browsh, who actually regrets taking part in this terrible special. She was just a teenage actress looking for work at the time, and playing a live-action version of a popular animated character seemed like the big break she needed.

You can tell that she was certainly trying, despite the ludicrous role she was given. She was dressed as a character that was specifically designed for Japanese audiences, so the outfit she was given didn’t translate well to American television. The outfit itself was of very shoddy quality, especially those god awful hair-buns.

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I am not a huge fan of the show’s new art-style. Yeah, I know it’s closer to the manga, but I’m just not big on it.

Despite this, Tia managed to do a fairly faithful recreation of Sailor Moon’s English voice. Unfortunately, her facial expressions weren’t as spot-on. She kept eyeing up the camera as if she was going to devour it, which would make sense considering the character she’s playing.

While Tia was definitely trying her hardest, she could not save this train-wreck. The awkwardly written dialogue, combined with the horrible outfit, and the bland backgrounds just made me want to vomit. I get the feeling that this would’ve worked better as a Halloween special, considering how much of a horror show these shorts turned out to be.

By the end of this travesty, DIC got their answer on if people would want to see a live-action Sailor Moon movie. The answer was what you’d expect: A big fat “no”. Few people enjoyed the live-action segments, and others wrote in with angry letters. Years later, Tia would apologize for the special. Honestly, I legitimately feel bad for her. It wasn’t her fault that these segments were terrible, she was just doing her job.

I can’t honestly hate these segments, especially due to the amount of effort Tia was putting in. As atrocious as they are, at least the acting was decent. Would I watch it again? Probably not. Still, I think these segments are worth watching, because they form such a perfect time capsule of Sailor Moon’s popularity in the 90s.

Sadly, Tia’s career never really got off the ground. According to IMDB, she was an assistant in the second Austin Powers film, and had a bit part in a low-budget film from the mid-2000s. Now, this page may be for a different Tia, which wouldn’t surprise me considering how they don’t mention Sailor Moon at all in the article.

Speaking of movies, we never did get that live-action Sailor Moon movie. It was probably for the best, considering how these little commercials between breaks didn’t go over well. As fun as it is seeing a live-action Sailor Moon answer questions, it just did not work well at all.

Now, what would the Sailor Moon movie have been about? I have no clue on that. Little information on it exists, beyond Tia saying that DIC was interested in doing it. I’ve read a few articles that mentioned it, but never what the plot would’ve been. Regardless, we eventually did get another Sailor Moon Adaptation: A Japanese television reboot. I’ll save the discussion on that for another day though. For now, I need a palette cleanser. Perhaps I’ll watch some Ronin Warriors…

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A Forgotten 80s Classic: Sherlock Hound

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“Elementary, my dear kibble!”

When looking back at previous parts of history that you weren’t born in, you sometimes realize that past decades can be home to some awesome things. The 80s brought us classics like Tron, Ghostbusters, Thundercats, among many other TV shows and franchises. For every big hit, there is always a small wonder. There is nothing quite as obscure as the often forgotten “Young Sherlock Holmes”.

Young Sherlock Holmes was a film made by the man behind Good Morning Vietnam. Most people remember this film for being one of the first movies to use CGI. I’ve heard of a few people really digging this film, but for the most part it is extremely obscure. However, this wasn’t the only forgotten Sherlock Holmes project to come out of the 80s. Most people forget about the cult classic anime Sherlock Hound.

This 26 episode anime was a re-imagining of the classic Sherlock Holmes stories, though it was much lighter in tone than the books were. The anime was animated by the professionals over at TMS, and several episodes were directed by the visionary Hayao Miyazaki.

So, what was so special this iteration of Sherlock Holmes about? Well, how about the fact that all the characters are anthropomorphic canines in this version? This is something a lot of fans often take notice of. I often like it when animal-based characters are substituted for humans in cartoons, since it leads to some more varied character designs.

Aside from the design changes, most characters stay the same. Sherlock Hound is still the calculating genius detective he is in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories. Watson is still Sherlock’s best friend and sidekick, and often the character the audience is meant to relate to the most. The character that has been changed the most has got to be the villainous Moriarti.

Moriarti only appeared in a few of the original stories, but is often seen as Sherlock’s greatest nemesis. Moriarti is still a genius in this version, but isn’t as cold or calculating as he was in the original series. Moriarti is often behind all the problems on this show, though it’s not as bad as in newer adaptations. Moriarti is more of a cliche cartoon villain in this series, so it’s understandable that he’s often the mastermind behind all the events in this show.

In something like Sherlock, we’re meant to take Moriarti as this “ultimate crimelord”. He plays everyone like its a game of chess, and continually plans three steps ahead of everyone else. He’s also behind everything, even having planned many things to happen AFTER his death. It got really ridiculous, to the point of making him look poorly written.

Moriarti is meant to be like this in Hound, so it becomes less of a problem here. One thing I really dug about this show was its animation. It’s honestly hard to go wrong with TMS, they are some of the best animators in the anime industry. These are the guys who did the animation for both Galaxy Rangers and Cybersix, two of my favorite cartoons.
Characters are well-drawn and animations tend to be very fluid, despite being a show from the 80s.

The show is overall well-written and directed very well, but some episodes definitely outshine the others. I’m primarily talking about the Miyazaki-directed episodes, which often tended to be the most entertaining ones. These had some of he best animation, action scenes, and plot-lines in the entire series. Sadly, only 6 out of the 26 episodes are made by Miyazaki.

I’m not really a fan of Miyazaki’s work, but the episodes he made for this show are definitely some of my favorites. Another thing I like about the show has to be its voice-acting. I often prefer the English dub, due to the inclusion of British accents. The voices fit well enough, even if they can sound a bit muffled at times.

If you’re curious about this show, I recommend checking it out on Youtube. It’s a pretty solid series, plus TMS’ Youtube channel has officially uploaded all the episodes in English. Keep in mind that the audio is somewhat muffled, and the episode numbers are out of order.

The show isn’t the deepest or darkest adapation of Sherlock Holmes, but it manages to capture the spirit of the series fairly well. It still has that episodic nature that makes the series so palatable as a whole. I highly recommend this old-school series to anyone interested. I suggest HOUNDing this show! I am sorry for that terrible joke.

Elder Scrolls Online: MMO Side-Questing Done Right

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“I’VE GOT A BONE TO PICK WITH YOU!”

I’ll be completely honest with you guys, I’m not much of a fan of MMORPGs. In fact, I can’t stand them. I’m the kind of guy who will spend a fortnight downloading an MMO, only to play it for 10 minutes and immediately get bored with it. To me, an MMO needs to hook me within that first hour or so. If I get the feeling that the MMO won’t get interesting until I pour 20 hours into it, then I most likely will not continue with it.

A lot of this comes down to one major factor: Side-quests. I talked about side-quests a couple days ago, primarily those belonging to the Elder Scrolls series. Today, I want to talk about Elder Scrolls Online, an MMO that manages to do side-questing right! In a lot of games, the first thing I tend to indulge are the side-quests. The main story is great and all, but I like to flex my legs a bit and get to know the world! Well-constructed side-content can do just that, which is why I love it so much.

MMORPGs are heavily reliant on this feature alone. After all, a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game needs to be able to have you play a role in the universe your character exists in. Elder Scrolls Online understands this ideal very well, which is quite refreshing for a modern MMORPG. I found myself really digging a lot of the side-content in this game, since a lot of it tied back into the game and the series itself.

So, what makes the side-quests in Elder Scrolls Online better than most MMOs? Well, a lot of it comes down to the fact that most of the missions aren’t “fetch quests”. Sure, there are quests where you have to get certain items. However, these quests usually lead to you obtaining something unique, or have some kind of twist.

For example, one quest involved you beating up several random mercenaries for a shopkeeper. Once you go back to him, you find another mercenary there who tells you that the shopkeeper has “fled” the land. A new storekeeper is put in place of him, and you never see the old shopkeeper again. Makes you wonder, did he really leave or did these mercenaries just off him?

A lot of these quests really stood out to me, they reminded me a lot of the quests you’d find in Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. That game had crazy quests, including one where you leaped into a painting and another where you tried to solve a murder mystery. This game has memorable quests as well. One of the first quests in the game was undoubtedly one of my favorites.

In said quest, you had to save a random NPC who was captured and held in a cave. The twist was that he was being kept there by a trickster character named “The Frozen Man”. The Frozen Man was the insane ghost of a powerful mage, who mostly just wanted to keep the NPC as a personal plaything.

After you outsmart the trickster using his own insane logic, you are allowed to take his prisoner home. Despite the fact that you never see this character again, I still enjoyed his limited screen-time. His voice-acting was spot on and he generally felt like an interesting character, reminding me a bit of Cicero from Skyrim.

One quest I really dug was one that involved you trying to solve a series of murders. It starts out as you just trying to solve a few killings, but soon turns into an all-out war against a group of Body-Snatchers! The “Skin-Stealers” take on the form of various soldiers in the Ebonheart Pact, and it soon becomes difficult to discern friend from foe.

Quests can have different outcomes, some can even radically change certain parts of the world. Completing a certain quest-line may result in several NPCs dying and be removed from the game, while others may bring new beings into existence. The game boasts over 900 different side-quests, split between three separate factions.

Out of this large myriad of side-quests, I think my favorite has to be “The Thin Ones”. The quest involves you helping a group of immortal villagers, who are cursed forever to be skeletons. The quest eventually gives you a choice: Kill the villagers and end their immortality so they can rest, or allow them to remain immortal and undying. It’s a complex choice, with its own set of positives and negatives.

The best part of the quest is its reward: The ability to turn into a skeleton! Well, sort of. It’s really just a costume you can wear. Still, being able to walk around as a skeleton is certainly a fun concept! I’d love to bring up more side-quests, but I don’t want to spoil too many of them. After all, the fun in the game comes from discovering them on your own!

The last thing I’d like to mention is that the game brings back the NPC reactions from Oblivion. People will now acknowledge your accomplishments as you walk by, unlike in Skyrim. As much as I dug Skyrim, I always got annoyed by how I was always treated like a peasant. Even after saving the world a dozen times, I still get mistaken for the “guy who fetches the mead”. No respect, I tells ya!

Wandering Through The MMORPG Graveyard

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Sleep well, PSO. You were too good for this world…

Last weekend at my local comic book convention was truly a treat, especially due to the fact that I finally managed to buy a physical copy of Phantasy Star Zero! This game isn’t rare, just really hard to find. This is an action RPG released for the DS, with a feature that is rare for games on this platform: A MMORPG component. Yes, you could play Phantasy Star Zero online with strangers across the world!

This was awesome for the time, but sadly this feature is now non-existent. The online servers are dead, and have been removed for three years now. While people can still play the game offline (Much like any other Phantasy Star game) the option for online play will always be there. It just sits there, taunting the player for all eternity.

Phantasy Star Zero has it better than most games with online functionality, in that you can still play it. However, few MMORPGs actually have this luxury. Most MMOs are always online, meaning that there’s no way to play the game if the servers get shutdown. Well, there is a way, but it’s usually considered “unofficial”.

These are known as “private servers”, and are usually servers set up by fans of the game. Of course, running an online game can be difficult and expensive, so not every game gets a private server. These are usually made for games with massive fan-bases. Most of these private servers are usually completely free, unlike most of the games they spun off of. An example of this is Ephinea’s Phantasy Star Online private server, which is free now and doesn’t require a subscription.

PSO and a bunch of older MMOs required subscriptions, and most of them eventually replaced it with a “Free-To-Play” system. Going Free-To-Play is a death sentence for most MMOs, since they have a tendency to shut down if interest is still low. Going back to a game that was shut down years ago is definitely an odd experience. Despite several of these games being preserved with private servers, these games still feel barren.

These are servers that were designed to house thousands of players, but good luck finding at least 100 people in that game nowadays. Going back to something like ToonTown Online or Phantasy Star Online is definitely a fun experience, but it’s never going to be the same as how it was back in the day. Sure, there are new features and quests, but you are still playing the same basic game.

Revisiting an MMO is like going to the site of a major event in human history. It was a big deal at one time, but now it’s more of a time capsule of what happened in the past. Of course, the experience is still really satisfying. Being able to play a game that is now defunct is definitely a good thing, especially for people who didn’t get that far before the servers were shut down.

Sadly, an MMO getting shut down is an inevitability. Every MMORPG will eventually get shut down, even the really good ones like Elder Scrolls Online and Dragon Ball Xenoverse. People will still be there to keep these various games (and the servers they dwell on) alive in some form or another. Despite online games being a graveyard, it’s good to know that some players out there are fantastic gravekeepers!

Photos From Sask Expo 2017, Featuring Syrup and Friends!

Hey guys! A couple days ago, I went to Sask Expo with some friends and had a ton of fun! I thought I’d share some photos of my friend and I at this convention. Keep in mind that he gave me full permission to share these. I’ll be sure to post pics of the convention swag I bought as well in the next few days, so look forward to that.

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Here’s a picture my friend Carter/92Days took of this epic looking Justin Bieber T-Shirt! I’m not a fan of Justin’s work, but I’m digging that metal-looking demon logo!

Resized_Snapchat-2073695182.jpegHere’s 92Days with some guy in a horse-head mask who looks like he’s drinking his problems away! I mean hey, horses do have the stomach to handle a bit of alcohol. I mean, they probably do. I barely know anything about horses, to be honest.

Resized_20170916_115418.jpegHere’s me with a pair of cosplayers, dressed up as Groot and Rocket Raccoon. I’m the dork in the blue shirt giving the thumbs up. These people are super nice and I honestly really dig their costumes! The guy in the Groot suit definitely put some hard time into his outfit.

Resized_Snapchat-2097498383.jpegHere’s the last picture I’d like to share! This is of Carter with a person in an orange-colored “Spartan” suit from the Halo video-game series. You can also see a person dressed up like one of the assassins from “Assassin’s Creed” in the background. Double the game references, double the fun!

So yeah, this is all of our pics from the convention. To anyone who attended this year and is reading this, thanks for attending! Anyone supporting nerd culture by attending these events is always welcome. Have a good, everyone, and I’ll see you all at next year’s con.

How Stan Lee’s “The Reflection” Lost Me

Remember Heroman? I remember Heroman, that show was my jam! Stan Lee worked together with the amazing people over at Studio Bones to produce a rather interesting multimedia franchise. Heroman was both a manga and anime series that combined elements of Shonen action anime with American superhero comic books. The result was what I could best describe as “Iron Giant, but with monsters and aliens”.

Heroman was a short lived series, only clocking in at a few manga volumes and about 26 episodes. The general consensus on the series was that it was decent and entertaining enough, though nothing revolutionary. This wasn’t Stan Lee’s last foray into Japanese media, though. Stan Lee also wrote the rather odd manga known as “Karakuridoji ULTIMO”.

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The art is cool, even if the middle part of the manga tends to drag. Also, Stan Lee is a samurai in this series. Yeah…

This manga is like an apocalyptic story, if the main character from Digimon Data Squad was the protagonist. The manga took the classic struggle of good and evil and turned on its end, creating a story where the characters’ alliance was not set in stone. The series really shone due to its amazing artwork, which was penned by the creator of Shaman King: Hiroyuki Takei. Takei also helped write the story, creating this fantastic mix between an action manga and a cheesy comic book plot.

By now, you’d probably notice a pattern: Stan Lee’s ability to write cheesy superhero plots tend to mix well with the Japanese medium. However, what happens if you let Stan Lee’s own studio work together with the amazing team at “Studio DEEN”? You get something like “The Reflection”, a rather bizarre and odd-looking anime.

The Reflection is a hard series to describe, mainly because describing it in any fashion would sound boring. Nothing about Reflection’s setting is that unique or interesting. This giant explosion happens, a bunch of random strangers gets superpowers, some people get ostracized because of it, etc. There isn’t a lot in this anime that hasn’t been done in other places before. X-Men did this a long time before The Reflection did, while at the same time doing it better.

Stan Lee crafted this superhero world that feels formulaic, and its characters sadly match that sentiment. Characters are bland, fitting into neat little archetypes without feeling like real people. The show went for a “classic comic-book” style with its characters, plot, music, and animation. As a result, this show comes off as just feeling like a mishmash of ideas.

The animation on this show is a mixed bag, it just looks really bad! The style they are going for is a classic cartoon style, one indicative of American comics. Big black lines are everywhere and each character has a rather formulaic design motif. Most of the heroes look like rejected Marvel Comics protagonists, which is pretty lame.

On top of this, the show likes to employ a lot of trippy and rather random special effects. Couple this with the limited animation and weird art-style, and you have a show that can be difficult to watch at times. I watched through that first episode and barely understood a thing that was happening. You had one of the heroes flying around and fighting these animal-based supervillains, while all these images of space were projected onto buildings. This entire sequence was like visual overload!

Yeah, very little is explained in that first episode. We then get into episode 2, which is even more of a mess. All that episode 2 does is explain all the stuff that happened behind-the-scenes, while all the crazy super-happenings were going down. Even then, I feel like there’s a lot that was just not explained at all. For the second episode of a twelve episode show, there should’ve at least been a few major plot developments.

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“Meanwhile, in Stan Lee Town…”

Sadly, a lot of these first two episodes just miss the mark. I was completely lost to a lot of the happenings, and just couldn’t get attached to the characters. The two main heroes were “X-On” and “I-Guy”, but damned if I could remember anything substantially interesting about them.

Now, I’ve said a lot of negative things about this show, so let me go over the positives. I like the fact that in the English dub, characters who live in Japan still speak Japanese. I also like some of the voice-acting here or there, even if most of it has a tendency to be awkward. I also dig some of the crazier and out-of-place soundtrack tunes.

So, despite the fact that I find this show quite weird and the art to be quite bad, I strangely enjoy it. It’s extremely rough around the edges, but it’s got this weird kind of charm to it. Even though I find myself drawn to this series, I doubt I’ll ever truly find it as amazing as Heroman or ULTIMO. Mainly because those two franchises managed to fuse Stan Lee’s campiness with Japanese silliness. Unfortunately, The Reflection is just the campiness without any substance.

The Problem With Pop Vinyl Figures

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Toothless? More like, Soulless!

Something I really dig are bobble-heads, I can’t get enough of these things! These figurines were really cool back in the day, but now no one really buys them anymore. I can’t even recall the last time I saw legitimate bobble-head in stores. You know what has replaced the bobble-head though? Something called “Pop! Figures”.

What’s a Pop Figure? For those of you who don’t know, these are figurines with giant heads. Unlike bobble-heads, the figure is completely stationary. The head won’t move if you bop it, so it lacks some of the novelty that a bobble-head would have. Pop figures also have one large distinction: Beady little soulless eyes.

For some odd reason, about 90% of Pop Figures have these creepy beady black eyes. Can you imagine waking up in the morning, flicking on your light, and looking at your shelf, only to be greeted by these things staring back at you? That’s not my idea of a good morning!

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I don’t feel like number one right now…

The thing about Pop Figures that makes them so bad isn’t just the eyes, that’s only part of it. Most figures have the same expressionless face, which usually lacks a mouth and/or eyebrows. This makes the figures look very uncanny valley, and very generic. That’s why I tend to stay away from most Pop Figures, they just don’t look right.

I have a couple Pop Figures, but these are a bit different. Power Rangers Pop Figures tend to have visors and lack the uncanny nature the main figures seem to possess. It’s really the generic nature of most Pop Figures that I tend to dislike, but probably the biggest issue is that there is too many of them.

There’s a Pop Figure for almost every show, movie, video-game, anime, or comic book character you can think of. Heck, there’s even Pop Figures of certain Youtube celebrities! Who would buy an action figure of a Youtuber anyways? Wouldn’t kids rather have Spider-Man, or some kind of Digimon? Regardless, Pop Figures are everywhere. They show up in almost every nerd-related store or convention, and there’s usually an entire wall full of them.

Even if you don’t like them, they are still in your face constantly. Since most of them use similar molds, it allows the company making them to pump out a near endless surplus of these figures. It’s hard to go anywhere without pumping into at least a few figures. Still, they seem to sell enough to demand such a large number of them.

I’m honestly cool with people buying and collecting these figures. After all, we all bought Pokemon toys back in the 90s and everyone thought those were dumb. Like I said earlier, there are some good Pop Figures out there.

The problem is just that there are so many bland ones with boring faces, ones that lack the energy and soul of the character they are based one. So, more power to you guys if you enjoy the figures. Personally, I’ll just stick with my old “Die-cast” figurines that I bought at some obscure garage sale.

Which Elder Scrolls Has The Best Side-Quests?

 

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“Wow, nice graphics!”

If there’s something I love, it’s side-quests. I stated in an earlier post that I really dig filler, pretty much any kind of filler. Most video-games have filler in the form of “Side-Quests”, little side activities that you can do on the side and have some fun with. When it comes to games with lots of side-quests, nothing comes close to sheer variety of Elder Scrolls games. Each game is an open-world extravaganza, packed to the brim with a ton of a side content to enjoy.

With several Elder Scrolls games in the series, this begs a very important question: Which one has the best side-quests? Well, let’s look back at the various games in the series and find out! Now, Elder Scrolls 1: Arena probably had the worst side-quests of the bunch. Since most quests are just fetch quests and “go kill this” quests. Most side-content is randomly generated, meaning each side-quest is put together using a series of algorithms.

While this guarantees you won’t get the same side-quests as another person, it also renders most quests bland and boring. This comes down to the fact that you are killing the same kinds of enemies over and over again. Mercifully, Bethesda stepped up their game when it came to side content in Daggerfall.

You see, Daggerfall was a different beast entirely from Arena. The first game was meant to be an arena game, before being shifted over into an ambitious open-world RPG. Daggerfall was built from the ground up as a sandbox RPG, meaning that it didn’t have to rely on algorithms as much.

While the world was still randomly generated, the side-quests were not. This meant that you weren’t getting shafted into doing random fetch quests for 90% of your play-through, unlike in Arena. Daggerfall did some unique things with some of it’s side-quests. For example, joining a faction was often determined by how you do in “Non-Member” quests. If you complete the missions properly, then you will earn enough reputation to be accepted in.

In games after this, joining a faction was made a bit too easy. In those games, doing 1 side-quest was enough to be accepted into a faction. Heck, sometimes you didn’t need to do a side-mission at all! Daggerfall sticks out because it makes joining the various factions more of a challenge.

Daggerfall’s side-quests don’t stop at just factions though. Plenty of shopkeepers would be willing to give you side-missions, some of which were actually pretty clever. For example, a shopkeeper may try to pass a curse along to you by having you “deliver” a package on their behalf. Inside the package was a “Mummy’s Finger” which would in turn give you the curse. To break the curse, you would simply have to travel to the mummy’s tomb and kill it.

Daggerfall still had randomly generated side-quests here or there, but they weren’t as plentiful in Arena. On top of that, they tended to be a bit more varied as well. Despite the increase in quality, Daggerfall’s side-content is rarely talked about. Adding in various factions were a welcome edition, but the 2D graphics and lack of full voice-acting prevented the missions from feeling more fulfilling. Still, the side-missions were good for the time, and a good prelude for what we would get with the game’s sequel.

Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind came out a few years after Daggerfall, and it managed to be one of the most popular entries in the series. Morrowind ditched its randomly generated world and decided to go “natural”. Every bit of this gigantic world was made by the developers themselves, as were the side-quests. The development team at Bethesda Game Studios pumped this game full of side-content, most of it original and unique.

There was a dozen factions you could join, each with their own side-quests and special perks. The open-world was littered with even more of that delicious side-questing, including special dungeon quests and the like. The game was fully 3D for the first time, which was amazing for its time. Sadly, the game looks like hot garbage nowadays.

Morrowind was stuffed to the brim with well-written and interesting side-quests. Heck, one side-quest ended by foreshadowing the next game in the series: Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Speaking of Oblivion, I’d have to say that game probably had my favorite side-quests in the entire franchise.

Why Oblivion lacks the immense amount of factions that Morrowind has, it managed to bring a lot of personality to its side-quests. There was a lot of nice little touches, like how characters will treat you after completing a faction quest-line. You feel like you are actually advancing in your standing in the world, all by partaking in various side-missions.

Characters who have befriended you will fight on your behalf. or even give you additional items or side-missions. It felt like I was making a difference, as well as a large number of allies and friends. To me, the side content actually eclipses the main quest in terms of quality. The Fighter’s Guild quest-line in this game still stands as some of the best side-quests in any Bethesda game.

Oblivion’s side-quests varied, from having you leap into a painting, to entering a nightmare filled with death traps. The game was creative with its scenarios, and was able to convey it in a very interesting way. Next we have Skyrim, which I gotta say has the word side-quests in the entire series.

A lot of quests in Skyrim boil down to “go to this dungeon and kill this guy” or “fetch me that thing”. There are interesting quests here or there, but they are nowhere near as entertaining as the ones in Morrowind and Oblivion. I tend to harsh on Skyrim a lot, but that’s mostly because I enjoy it. It has many problems, and one of the largest is the aforementioned side-quests.

A good example of how bad side-quests got is one quest that involved you having to deal with the ghost of Potema Septim. She was a former emperor, as well as being a Dragonborn by blood-right. Not only that, but she comes back as a powerful ghost-like entity. You’d think that would build up to something cool and epic, right? Well, you go into a large room, and fight some zombies. Then you fight her in a rather anticlimactic fight.

While Skyrim did have an immersive world, the questing left a lot to be desired. In conclusion, I’d have to say Oblivion and Morrowind have the best side-quests in the series. Daggerfall has a few good and interesting side-quests here or there, but is otherwise unremarkable. I’d have to say that Arena and Skyrim are at the bottom of the pile, they are just filled with too many generic fetch quests to be entertaining.

Now, you may have noticed that I didn’t mention the side-quests in Elder Scrolls Online at all. I consider this game a full-fledged Elder Scrolls, despite being a spin-off that wasn’t made by Bethesda. However, I wanted to save this for later. I want to see how many side-quests I can beat in Online before I get bored, and then do an adequate blog post on what I thought of the game’s side-quests and my personal favorites. So, look forward to that soon!

Dragon Ball: A Legacy of Wasted Characters

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Giran: The giant monster everyone forgot about.

Yep, I’m talking about Dragon Ball again! Believe it or not, I’ve found myself quite enjoying the newer incarnations of the franchise. Recent Dragon Ball games have been far better than they were in the past. On top of this, the Dragon Ball Super TV series has gotten good after the past months!

Despite this, Dragon Ball still has one major problem that it has never really overcome: Wasted characters. This is an action series with over 600 episodes, over 20 films, along with a ton of video-game adaptations and manga spin-offs. There’s bound to be several characters that remain underutilized, but Dragon Ball takes this a step further. For you see, despite all the material this franchise has produced, a majority of its cast remains underused.

Characters like Yamcha, Goten, and Kid Trunks get very little screen-time. When they do, it’s usually for silly little filler events and nothing substantial or important to the plot. Now, this isn’t uncommon for Shonen anime. Most long-running have a series have a large cast of recurring antagonists and protagonists alike, most of which don’t get nearly as much screen-time as they should.

A good example of this are characters from the original series. Anyone remember Giran from Dragon Ball? I wouldn’t be surprised, as he only ever showed up at the first tournament and for a few filler episodes. Giran was interesting, in that he was a monster with a soft side. He would drink milk and occasionally dress in human garb, while in public places.

Giran nearly won against Goku in the tournament, but he surrendered after he realized how overpowered Goku was. Since then, Giran became a side-character. He got murdered by Tambourine, and then came back to life only to appear in random filler episodes here or there. Outside of an episode where Goku shows up at Giran’s village, the character never really plays a part in the series again. He just makes random cameos and is never given another episode of his own.

Sadly, 90% of the cast is like this. Characters that are built to be both skilled and interesting are rarely ever seen. Meanwhile, the main characters and more popular villains get more screen-time. How many times has Frieza come back from the dead to threaten our heroes? About 6 or 7 times, if you count non-canon sources.

Compare this to Cell, who never returned after his inevitable defeat. Dragon Ball sets up an universe with almost an infinite amount of villains and threats, yet the show focuses too much on recycling old concepts. A good example of this was Frost, who was just an alternate universe Frieza.

Now, in the recent episodes of Dragon Ball Super, they did manage to fix this slightly. With the “Tournament of Power” story arc, characters who were previously forgotten were given a time to shine. Still, certain characters (like Tien, for example) still get shafted in this arc.

I would compliment the writers for giving most of the cast more attention, but it’s a bit too late in the series’ run to fully appreciate. These characters hadn’t been used properly in the past 500 episodes, so having all the focus be solely on them feels like pandering. Of course, I do like that they are now focusing on other characters.

Still, Goku and Vegeta get 90% of the screen-time. The other characters are just there solely for fan-service, which is pretty disappointing. I’d honestly love it if there was a story arc that focused solely on the other Z Fighters, as opposed to just Goku and Vegeta.

Regardless, I still enjoyed the inclusion of these characters in the Tournament of Power. I just wish it didn’t take so for Toei to finally remember and use these characters once more. Anyways, this is my ramblings on the subject. Dragon Ball’s problems with its over-sized and mostly underutilized cast will most likely never go away. Still, I’m going to stick around and watch it regardless. I just hope that in the future, the other heroes get more time to shine.

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Hit or Miss?

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Talk about split identities!

Who doesn’t love superheroes? After all, they are a big thing right now. Comic-book superheroes used to be such a niche market. Usually, only nerds would be into superheroes. However, we’ve reached a point in our society where superheroes are immensely popular. They may not exist, but people love partaking in stories involving these would-be protectors of our realm.

When it comes to superheroes, there are few that come close to the kind of popularity Spider-Man has! The stories of Peter Parker and spider-based alter-ego have become synonymous with the genre. With a hero as popular as Spider-Man, it was inevitable that there would be many variations on the popular franchise.

Never was this more present than television, where many adaptations of the classic comic book were made. Classics such as: Spider-Man 1994, Spider-Man Unlimited, and Spectacular Spider-Man. However, in 2012 we got the (arguably) worst possible adaptation of Spider-Man ever: Ultimate Spider-Man. I’m not talking about the comic or video-game of the same name, I mean the infamous Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon.

This was a cartoon that ignored many key principles of the Spider-Man mythos, presented Peter Parker and his alter-ego as complete idiots, and ran way too long for a show that was mostly a comedy series. Did this show really need 104 episodes? Seriously?

Shortly before the series ended in January of this year, another Spider-Man cartoon was announced. This show would bring Spider-Man back to his science geek roots, and promised to be better than its abysmal predecessor. So, is this new Spider-Man show any good? At the time of writing this, there are only 5 episodes available, so it may be too soon to say.

Regardless, I thought I would get my opinions out on this new series of Spider-Man. So, is it any good? Well, it’s decent. It’s not terrible, and it’s not great, just acceptable. Let me discuss what I liked, and what I didn’t like about this show. Let’s start off with the good: The voice acting is pretty dang solid. The voice actors fit each character well, and aside from a few vocal performances thus far, things have been good.

Some characters are fairly well-designed, and the show possesses a rather pleasing anime-like art-style. I also liked how this show focuses on villains who are more obscure, such as The Jackal and the Spider-Slayers. Those are some of the good things, how about the bad?

Unfortunately, this new Spider-Man show has a lot of bad. Remember how I said this show has some well-designed characters? Unfortunately, a majority of the cast don’t share this philosophy. A lot of the older characters look downright ugly, and some designs barely resemble their comic book counterparts.

Worse still, some character designs don’t fit at all. For example, in this show Dr. Octavius is meant to be in his 20s-30s. Here he just looks like an overweight teenager, not unlike the principle cast. Also, the animation can be fairly choppy at times. Characters can float into the shot, or just randomly appear.

The show also employs CGI backgrounds and objects, which have a tendency to clash horribly with the 2D animation. The show is also trying too hard to be “scientific”. Almost every second line has something to do with science, and most scenes are filled with Peter prattling on about some obscure scientific fact.

It felt so forced and didn’t really add anything to experience at all. This gets annoying in some of the more recent episodes, as the characters have a tendency to talk about science facts without explaining them. There are points where the “science babble” gets so bad that I feel I can’t properly follow along.

It’s not as bad as other shows, such as “Betterman”, but it’s still rather aggravating. I’m not going to make too much of a comment on the story. This is mostly due to the fact that we are still very early in the show’s run, so it wouldn’t make sense to judge this facet of the show too harshly. So far, the series has done a good job of setting up future events, even if several of them probably should’ve been saved for season 2.

Those are my thoughts on the new Spider-Man show. It’s definitely a step in the right direction, though it definitely has some problems. Still, it’s a vast improvement over the previous series, and I’m willing to give it a chance. It feels like a more “authentic” Spider-Man story than we’ve been getting the past few years, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the writers can do with it next.