The Star Wars KOTOR Series: 15 Years Later

Star Wars is a franchise that’s beloved by a ton of people from all over the globe. It’s a series that mixed science-fiction with fantasy, and told the timeless stories of a galaxy constantly in turmoil. A universe where the forces of good always collided with the forces of evil, culminating in a series of struggles that seemed truly endless. It involved magical space knights known as “Jedi”, who often do battle their dark equivalents called “Sith”.

What made Star Wars so great wasn’t just its characters and world, but also its expanded universe. Before Disney rendered 99.99% of the franchise non-canon, Star Wars had a singular continuity that went unchallenged by most modern media. A lot of Star Wars material was considered canon, and you had people working around the clock to make sure that almost everything could fit within this large universe.

I imagine one of the easiest things to fit into the timeline would have to be the “Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic Series”. This was an RPG series, one that focused on the trials and tribulations of your custom character. You’d journey through the galaxy in well-written Star Wars adventures, coming face to face with the inner darkness of the universe. Ultimately, your choice would come down to either joining or destroying said darkness.

Come July, this sub-section of the franchise will be 15 years old. Despite this, it’s one of the few Star Wars games to be considered a true cult classic. Why is that? A lot of this comes down to who made the game. The game was developed by Bioware, and was developed using an engine similar to their Neverwinter Nights game.

Using this engine, they were able to craft a Star Wars game unlike any other. It was an RPG, one that focused on being the kind of Jedi you wanted to be. You could wield lightsabers, hurl grenades, fight hand-to-hand, or focus entirely on using Force powers. The story told by the game was also immensely entertaining.

It focused on your own custom character and how he goes from a common rebel soldier, to one of the most powerful beings in the galaxy. Along the way, you choose to follow the heroic ways of the Light Side, or the evil ways of the Dark Side. The game also does a good job of painting both sides of the force in shades of grey, showing that even the most powerful and kind Jedi can give into their dark urges, or vice versa.

Now, KOTOR 1 was a fantastic RPG, but KOTOR 2 was better! True, if you want a solid experience with KOTOR 2, then you have to download the “Restored Content” mod. However, it’s totally worth it, since it adds in a ton of additional cut content into this already amazing experience!

The game plays the same as the first game, but features a much darker story. The game does a better job of showing the grey morality of both sides of the force in this game, as well as giving us one of Star Wars’ greatest characters: Kreia. She’s a character who really makes the player think about what it truly means to be “good” and “evil”. Her philosophy really makes you question the whole of Star Wars’ canon, while featuring some of the best writing the series has ever had.

Sure, it doesn’t have an amazing plot twist like the first game, but it has an amazing story all the same! On top of this, the game also brought in new force powers, like the ability to shoot lightning or throw your lightsaber. The game also brings in the badass Jedi robes from the prequel movies, which were more authentic to the movies than the previous game’s attire.

After 15 years, these games still hold up. Sure, they graphically look like garbage, but they are still fun experiences with solid performances! The thing about KOTOR games is that they age like fine wine. No matter how advanced games get, experiences like the KOTOR series end up being timeless. With the May The 4th sale coming upon Steam, now is a good time to pick up these Star Wars games if you haven’t already! Also, grab some Dark Forces games, because those are some awesome titles as well!

Syrup’s Indie Showcase: GOCCO OF WAR

I’ve made it no secret that I love anime, it’s probably one of my favorite genres/styles of animation. Among my favorite anime are Tiger & Bunny, Dragon Ball, One Punch Man, and Casshern Sins. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that I like games based off anime as well. I’ve talked endlessly about games like Dragon Ball Xenoverse and Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth.

However, I rarely talk about games that have an anime style to them, but aren’t based off any anime in particular. Today, I want to change that with a little known Indie game: GOCCO OF WAR. Yes, the title is fully capitalized. GOCCO itself stands for “Global Online Chibi Combat Offensive”, which is both adorable and extremely silly. To be fair, the obtuse name really captures the goofiness the game itself offers.

So, what is GOCCO? It’s a game that takes place in a fictionalized virtual reality world, that involves big-headed anime kids fighting zombies and monsters with guns filled with air. The game is a third-person shooter / action game with a few RPG elements sprinkled in for good measure.

You play as a kid who goes into a virtual playground attraction, in order to partake in various missions. This missions could be as simple as fighting off zombies, to something insane like fighting against Satan in a large arena. That’s where GOCCO’s main draw lies: It’s variety. It’s very rare to find a mission in the game that is just something simple or generic. Sure, the tasks will often be the same, such as killing a certain amount of enemies or grabbing some keys. It’s what happens during the missions that’s really interesting.

This game is bonkers to the max, and the quests you undertake follow this notion. The game’s writing is where it really shines, as it will often highlight the ludicrous nature of the characters and its world. The game will occasionally take sudden or dark turns, or have really insane things come out of nowhere. A good example is when Satan invades, and he’s played as being a generic super-villain. Heck, even the characters in-game comment on how bland and over-dramatic the lord of darkness is being.

Another quest involves you trying to get some kids to stop playing around in this one area, which leads into a child going into a sudden existential crisis about the recent death of a loved one. It’s so out of left-field and jarring, but at the same time it fits the mood of the game. It kind of captures that feeling of childhood, where you understand very little and most things that occur make little sense to you.

In a way, that kind of makes this game fairly poignant. It’s not something that’s well detailed, grim-dark, or even meant to have some sort of deeper message. It’s just a virtual depiction of the bizarre world that is childhood. What also helps the game is its gameplay. You use weapons powered by air, and often have to recharge your gear after it runs out of ammo.

You can also equip badges and clothes to change your stats and appearance, allowing for a lot of customization. Lobbies can hold up to 32 users at a time, with about 8 players being able to take on missions at once. You’ve got 21 missions, each with several different difficulties. That’s not counting the special event quests that’ll crop up from time to time.

Certainly, there’s a lot of content here to enjoy. Sadly, the player-base isn’t that big. GOCCO is a smaller known Indie game, to the point where most big Youtube channels never talk about it. I’ve only ever seen one Youtube video from a bigger channel talking about the game, which I’ve placed at the very top of this page.

It’s a shame too, because the game is actually pretty fun. Despite its cutesy graphics, it’s super tough. Even the easiest difficulties can make you sweat profusely on occasion. Most of my experience with the game thus far has been with the demo, I have yet to purchase the main game itself. I fully intend to once there’s a big enough sale, and I recommend you do the same.

I feel like lesser known Japanese Indie games such as these deserve more attention. Sure, this game isn’t something revolutionary or groundbreaking. Still, it’s weird and zany fun, which is often hard to come by in a lot of games. On top of this, there isn’t any micro-transactions or pay to win elements, at least not to my knowledge. You buy the game and that’s it.

I know I shouldn’t be applauding a game for being a singular purchase, but I do appreciate it quite a bit. Especially when most games nowadays are being sold to the consumer in bits and pieces, requiring the consumer to buy several portions of the game to get the full product. GOCCO manages to sidestep this, and not only be a good game, but also one that is a FULL game. Do I think it’s worth the 22 Canadian dollar price? Nope. Is it worth buying and playing, even if you have to wait for a sale? Oh, definitely! GOCCO is one fun and weird game, one that I recommend to anyone who’s curious about it!

Weird Canadian Shows: Monster By Mistake

While I do love the 90s, I can admit that there are some things that came out in this decade that were… Less than spectacular to say the least. There were tons of good shows from this decade that I feel held up over time, but sadly some shows just did not age well at all. There are also those shows that I feel should just stay in the past. One such show was one of YTV’s forgotten cartoons, Monster By Mistake. For those of you who don’t know, YTV is a Canadian television network.

They are often best remembered for airing the classic Mainframe shows like Beast Wars, Shadow Raiders, and ReBoot. However, another CGI cartoon that they aired quite a bit on the network was Monster By Mistake. Based off an obscure children’s book, MBM was a bizarre CGI cartoon about a kid named Warren who would turn into a monster every time he sneezes.

He was inflicted with this curse by a magical imp-like wizard, who had tricked the hapless youth into reading a book of spells. Warren must work together with his sister and a ghost named Johnny in an attempt to remove the curse and stop the evil wizard from escaping his ball-like prison and conquering the earth. On paper, this sounds like an amazing and fun idea for show. In execution, it’s pretty bland and forgettable.

The show often focuses on Warren having to deal with his affliction, which usually results in just some awkward shenanigans. You’d think having the ability to turn into a giant furry blue monster would lead to some creative adventures, or intense fight sequences. Sadly, the monster form’s only purpose is to have half the cast freak out, while Warren desperately finds a way to change back without getting discovered.

I’m not sure why he would to keep this secret, especially since the extremely dumb bully figures it out on his own in the second episode. Does he think he will get kicked out of town if his secret is discovered? I don’t really know, but the show seems to make a big deal about this “secret” identity.

I remember watching this show back in the day and not thinking it was too great. It certainly didn’t make staying home from school sick any fun, especially when it was the thing YTV liked to air most during the weekdays. Going back to the show now makes me like it even less, due to the extremely dated CGI. It was obvious that that the makers of this show didn’t have the same animation budget as ReBoot or Beast Wars.

What surprised me most about this show is that somehow half of the episodes ended up getting lost. Nobody could find at least 50% of the series for the longest time. It’s kind of absurd when you think about it, considering how often episodes of this show got aired. This how ran for 7 years and for a total of about 52-54 episodes, yet episodes are harder to find than inner enlightenment.

Trust me though, you won’t find any enlightenment from sitting through any singular episode of this show. I’m surprised I was able to tolerate this series growing up, though I think the main reason I watched it was because of Mainframe’s shows. Those shows got me invested in CGI cartoons, which were rare at the time.

In a way, that kind of made Monster By Mistake somewhat unique. It came out in a time where there were only a handful of shows of its ilk, which made it stand out more. That doesn’t change the fact that its still pretty bland and generic, even by mediocre kid shows standards. Still, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t have any fond memories of the show, considering how much I’ve watched of it. Then again, that was so long ago I probably can’t even recall said memories.

Dragon Ball Super’s Upcoming Ending: My Thoughts

If you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time, you’d probably know what I think of Dragon Ball Super. This blog started around the same time as Super did, but I didn’t talk about the show at all until about a year afterwards. Sometime in late 2016, I gave my thoughts on Super and how I thought it wasn’t really that good of a show. I even had a small series planned out where I would talk about what I didn’t like about the anime.

However, I felt the series I was making felt a bit too nitpick-y. As such, I ended it after part 2. We’re not hear to talk about that though, it’s time to discuss the fact that Dragon Ball Super is ending in a few short weeks. This show has had a rocky and very bumpy ride, due to a myriad of problems. These include: Really bad writing, poorly developed characters, lackluster animation during the early portions, and a severe lack of direction for where Toei wanted to take this series.

The biggest problem right now is that the series will wrap up with the end of the “Tournament of Power arc”. Not only is it the second tournament arc in this show, but it took up way too many episodes. By the time this arc ends, it’ll be nearly 60 episodes long. While it’s not uncommon for old Dragon Ball Z story arcs to be that long, there’s never been a tournament arc of that length before.

Heck, most tournament arcs in this series are barely half as long! The entire second portion of this show has just been a bunch of people fighting each other, most of whom we’ve never been introduced to until this arc. In the finale to this arc, the battle rages between our hero Goku and some generic alien superhero named Jiren in a featureless void.

If that sounds absolutely boring and bland, that’s because it is. Our heroes have been fighting Jiren for the past few episodes, with nothing really that interesting happening. Jiren has been eliminating Universe 7’s combatants 1 by 1, as his own allies are taken out of the picture as well. Jiren himself doesn’t have any unique or cool powers, he’s just really insanely strong.

The fight with Jiren I found to be way too long, which is common for most Dragon Ball shows. The problem is that usually when Goku fights a villain for an extended period of time, the villain usually uses a cool or unique gimmick. Here, Jiren’s only gimmick is that he punches really hard.

The fights leading up to the battle with Jiren were a mixed bag. The tournament was touted as being this huge war between 80 fighters, from all over the multiverse. The arc had 8 teams of 10 duking it out, or at least that’s how it was advertised. Instead, most universes just targeted Universes 6 and 7.

This led to several episodes of our heroes doing nothing but fighting boring filler villains. I’m not saying this final arc was completely bad. It had some good fights, some of the new designs were awesome, and several of the new characters were fun to watch. The problem is that you had to sift through 50+ episodes of an overtly long tournament arc to get to the really good stuff.

So yeah, Dragon Ball Super ends in just a few weeks and despite my slightly negative opinion on the show overall, it was a fairly fun show. It introduced one of the darkest arcs in Dragon Ball history, and had some great filler episodes. However, several arcs were either bland rehashes, or just overly long tournaments that lost their enjoyment factor halfway through. While I don’t know what Dragon Ball Super’s ending will truly be like, here’s hoping it can redeem this excessively long story arc.