Ready Player One Review: A Good, Yet Very Flawed Film

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“And I got long legs, very very long legs!”

I know I’m technically a month late to this, but I recently saw Ready Player One. This is one of the biggest nerd movies to come out this year, and it ended up getting a lot of buzz because of it. I thought I’d finally give my two cents on the movie, and what I thought of Steven Spielberg’s “newest” movie. The film revolves around this young man named Wade Watts, a guy who enters a MMORPG named “The Oasis”.

Wade plays the game in an attempt to obtain the ultimate “Easter Egg”, an extremely hard to find and obscure secret that will let the winner inherit a vast fortune. Along the way, he has to deal with the corporate goons at “IOI”, the various trials to get the special keys, and fighting his own romantic feelings for a woman he just met. Of course, the plot wasn’t the main draw of this film.

What really drew people to the movie was the egregious product-placement. By product placement, I don’t mean that they shoved a Pepsi Machine or a Taco Bell in there. I’m referring to the film’s various cameos and references, all of which are from hundreds of different franchises. This film features tons and tons of things that nerds will remember, essentially making it one massive crossover between all these properties.

Games like VRChat, and to a lesser extent Miitopia also had this gimmick going for them. Unfortunately, the nerd references kind of work against this film quite a bit. The film is packed with way too many references, to the point where the film lacks an identity. Most of the cool stuff in the movie only happens in The Oasis, while the real world stuff is always boring and tedious in this film. Worse still, most of the epic action sequences during The Oasis sequences involve the characters and things that were made by other people.

The film is the cinematic equivalent of knocking two action figures together and having them fight. The film definitely excels in bringing that kind of experience to table, but squanders it in other areas. One thing that I felt was holding the movie back was its protagonist. Wade Watts is a young man who is somehow one of the greatest players in The Oasis.

It’s never explained why he is so skilled at the game, he just kind of is. There’s no backstory behind how he came up with the character, the struggles to get this far, nothing. When the movie began, I felt like I was watching a sequel that was just barely explaining the first film. Most of the explanation goes towards the world, story, and setup. Not so much the characters and how they got to where they were.

At times, Wade feels like a character who was meant to act as an avatar for an audience, to help them get used to this crazy world. Unfortunately, Wade ends up coming off as insufferable. He’s way too overpowered at in the game, and has very few flaws. The few flaws he has are easily and quickly shoved aside, so that the movie can show us how great he is at games.

While he does struggle in certain parts of the film, he just as easily finds a way to overcome them. Both in real-life and in the game, Wade manages to skirt past dangerous and life-ending situations in some of the most nonsensical and plot convenient ways. There’s even a part where something really tragic happens to him in the movie, but he rarely brings it up aside from one or two instances. He doesn’t even really seem that sad about it, which feels like bad writing if you ask me.

The villain isn’t much better, due mostly to how he is portrayed in the film. The main adversary was a generic businessman, one who was so bland and formulaic that I couldn’t even remember his name by the end of it. To put things in perspective, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World had 7 different villains, all of which had personalities and were memorable. I could remember all their names, and tell you 3 things about each of them. The kicker is that most of those villains only appeared for about 3-10 minutes each.

In this film, the villain is just kind of there. Unfortunately, you’ll notice that this is kind of a trend with a lot of Spielberg films directed at children and teenagers. Earlier, I said that this was Spielberg’s “newest” film, with “newest” being in quotations. The reasons for this is simple, Spielberg’s directing and writing style for films aimed at younger audiences is a bit too bland.

Most of these films are aimed at kids/teens and have Spielberg’s usual plot outline associated with them: Young man with big dreams is forced to on an adventure, while being chased by some big organization or the government. The young man meets an enigmatic figure, befriends an unlikely group of friends, and then goes on a quest to make his dreams come true. That’s basically the plot of Ready Player One, E.T., and A.I. Artificial Intelligence.

Now, if this were just the first time he’s done it, this wouldn’t be a problem. The thing is that this appears to be one of the only kinds of films that Spielberg knows how to write, since he seems to think that it’s all teens and kids enjoy. Meanwhile, the films Spielberg makes for adults are his true masterpieces, where more of his effort seems to go. Which gives me the feeling that Spielberg seems to have more respect for his older movie-going audience, more-so than the younger audience that sees his other films like E.T. and Hook.

With all that being said, does this mean I hate the movie? Not at all, I actually got it was pretty good. Not a truly great film by any stretch of the imagination, but one that is a fairly fun watch throughout. The effects are great, as are the action scenes. Despite the films severe lack of originality and uniqueness, the way the various parts of this world are designed are just nice to look at.

The opening to this film reminded me a lot of the opening to Summer Wars, both of which were brimming with strange worlds and oddities. The Oasis is basically one big mashup of everything in nerd culture, and it just works well. Fight sequences are also bad-ass and awesome, and are the center-point of this film.

Even though I wasn’t a huge fan of the protagonist or villain, I dug several of the side characters. Aech was probably one of my favorites, being the main character’s sassy best friend in The Oasis. I also dug Daito and Sho, two recurring characters who’s game personas have this awesome Japanese vibe going on. There was also i-R0k, a recurring henchman for the main antagonist, one who I found to be a very silly and endearing nerd character.

Also, as intrusive as the references are, they kind of do spice up the film at times. It’s fun to see your favorite hero or villain suddenly show up in the background, or a famous movie character deciding to attack our heroes. The second key challenge felt like it spent too much time on retelling a well-known movie in a short amount of time, but was enjoyable enough that it didn’t feel too stale.

By far, the best character was James Halliday. He’s a socially awkward weirdo, one who created a vast financial empire through the creation of his games. I’d say more, but I don’t want to spoil the whole film for the few that haven’t see it yet. I think it’s about time I summed up my thoughts on what I thought of the film, since the post is long enough already.

Ready Player One is a good film, but mired by formulaic writing and its overabundance of product placement. It’s a solid experience, despite its flaws. Just be warned, what you’re getting is basically a mishmash of all these franchises you’re already invested in. It’s not going to rock your world, or revolutionize the way you see film.

It’s just another Spielberg film, albeit one that has a lot of effort and passion put into it at times. If you’re interested in nerd culture at all, I suggest at least giving it a watch if you get the chance. However, if you’re not a nerd, then I’m sure this movie won’t do much for you in terms of entertainment.

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Yep, that’s a poster for a Spielberg movie alright.
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Syrup’s Indie Showcase: “Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom”

Video-games are undoubtedly a global phenomenon, that’s undeniable. Countries across the world produce their own titles, even though it’s primarily Japan and America who churn out the most games. There’s also France, whose games are shockingly similar to the ones they make in Japan. A good example of Wakfu, a French MMO with a lot of anime influence. Another French game that seems to take a lot of influence from Japan is “Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom”.

Having spent only a few hours with the game, I feel I can’t give it a full review yet. Instead, I thought I’d give you my first impressions with the game thus far. So, what is Shiness? Well, it’s an action RPG released in 2017, developed by French Indie game studio “Enigami”. Never heard of them? I’m not surprised, since this is their first and only title thus far.

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Shiness takes place on the “Celestial Islands”, a fantasy land of connected floating continents. It’s home to three different species: The cat-like Waki, the strong lion-people known as the Shelk, and plain-old humans. The main character is the Waki known as Chado, who is contacted by a magical floating faerie and told to go on a quest.

From there, Chado meets up with other characters and together they form a party and go out to save the world. It’s a typical fantasy plot in a typical fantasy world, nothing too unique on display here. Where this game shines however, is in its gameplay and combat. You explore a fairly linear overworld, that has just enough hidden nooks and crannies to make it interesting.

The fact that you can return to these areas later with different characters is great, especially when you want to gain access to an area that requires a different ability to open. The game’s main draw is its combat, which is styled like that of a fighting game. You have your light attacks, heavy attacks, guarding, and parrying. It plays out like your typical beat-em-up, and it’s really fun because of that!

This game reminds me a lot of Jade Empire, another RPG with fighting game combat. Of  course, the roleplay elements are nowhere near as polished as they were in JE. Still, what you have here is a combat system that’s just a ton of fun to play around with. You gain additional abilities and items to equip, allowing for a multitude of ways to approach combat. Couple that with 5 different playable protagonists, all of which have their own combat styles, and you have a varied and satisfying package.

The game also boasts some nice and colorful graphics, combined with manga-styled cut-scenes. Unfortunately, some characters designs look a bit off during these manga cut-scenes. I always found the Shelk to look especially awkward during these sequences, looking more like amateurish DeviantArt fan-art.

That brings us into what I didn’t like about the game. The game had a fair number of glitches and bugs, though nothing too major that I’ve encountered thus far. Some annoyances I’ve had with the game is that it has a lot of pop-in objects. Treasures chests are the biggest offenders, as they’ll appear as if they haven’t been touched when you approach them from a distance. More often than not, you’ll see them and run over to them right away, only for you to realize that it’s a chest you just opened an hour ago.

There’s also the huge difficulty spikes that occur very early on. After the first couple hours, enemies become relentless and suddenly have a ton of health. On top of this, most enemies you’ll encounter hit like freight-trains. Probably the game’s biggest flaw is its lack of fast travel early on. I don’t know if they introduce it later, but getting around on foot in this game is tedious. This is especially true when the game forces you to run though the same areas over and over again to complete missions.

I’m on the fence as to whether or not I like this game yet. A lot of this comes down to the fact that I’ve only spent a few hours with it thus far. The combat’s fun and engaging, while the characters and world are beautiful. It’s just the difficulty spikes, bugs, and the awkwardness of the manga cut-scenes that I find to be annoying. Still, what little I have played of the game has been pretty satisfactory so far. Once I complete the game, I’ll be sure to have a proper review out on it!

The Best Internet “Anime”: Terrain of Magical Expertise

 

 

There are many passions in life a person can possess. One for wealth, money, power, or hot babes. One passion a lot of people have is for the medium of anime. Anime is a really unique medium, being cartoons made in Japan for a much different audience. Couple that with how creative some anime can get with their concepts, and you have a recipe for a very varied medium. It’s not a perfect medium, there’s plenty of generic and trash shows out there that clutter the genre. Still, anime is a very unique thing for one to get invested in.

With anime being a big thing, of course people are going to want to try their hand at making their own anime series. Most times, this leads to failure. Mostly due to the fact that an anime requires a lot of voice talent, good animation, great character designs, etc. Any average Joe can attempt to create an anime or anime-styled show, but without the budget or talent, you get just another failed Flash project.

One such project came from the early-to-mid 2000s, and was known as “TV Tome Adventures”. TTA was a cartoon that utilized edited versions of game sprites from various videogames, mostly from Megaman. It told the story of five friends from all around the globe who spend their time hanging out and playing the MMORPG known as “TOME”.

 

While enjoying said game, the main character known as “Alpha” ends up being infected by a virus. At the same time, people who hack the game are also searching for the virus’ power. As such, Alpha and his friends must fight back the hackers, attempt to get Alpha back to normal, and deal with various anime-styled shenanigans.

The show itself was created by the Newgrounds user known as “Kirbopher”, who would go on to create the “Super Freakin’ Parody Rangers” series. TTA was his first real attempt at Flash animation, and it has certainly not aged well. The sprite animation and awkward text boxes gives the series a very dated look, which isn’t helped by the bland voice acting in the later seasons.

This comes down to the fact that all the characters in TTA are based off real users from the “TV Tomes” forum. As such, they were brought on to voice the characters that were based on themselves. Unfortunately, most of these people had zero voice acting experience, so their attempts came off as awkward at best.

TTA proved to be a fair popular series on Newgrounds, despite its amateurish quality. It got three seasons and a “movie”, all of which were animated by Kirbopher. After season 3, the series ended. Kirbopher’s plans to continue the series past that point were scrapped and the series ended up being forgotten for a few years.

Come 2011, and the series finally made a return! TV Tome Adventures was re-branded as “Tome: Terrain of Magical Expertise”, and rebooted the continuity of the series. As a reboot, characters were now depicted differently than they had been in TTA. For example, Nailock had become Nylocke, going from a silly anime fan to an equally silly knight.

Even though the show now operated in a new continuity, it was pretty much the same story-wise. Sure, plot elements and characters were swapped around, while new elements were added. At its core though, it had the same plot as the original series. What was interesting about this new show was its animation.

TOME used 2D animation, with Kirbopher even making “battle sprites” for each character. Battles would usually unfold with sprites fighting each other, interspersed with bits of hand-drawn flash animation. The show may come off looking cheap at times due to this mixing of styles, but it works surprisingly well.

What made the show really work was the characters and writing. Despite being a flash cartoon series aimed at younger audiences, some of the characters and plot elements were extremely dark and interesting. Special kudos goes to “Episode 00”, which served as a backstory episode, while also serving as an emotional gut-punch.

Not saying the writing was perfect, especially during the transition from season 1 to season 2. Season 2 tried way too hard to be “edgy”, to the point where it felt like an excuse to get away from the more kid-friendly first season. I get that Kirbopher didn’t want to censor the series anymore, but at the same time it just felt jarring.

This brings us to the last thing I’ll discuss: The characters. TOME set itself apart from most flash cartoon series by having a large voice cast, all of which played various characters over the series’ two season run. It probably also helps that the characters are varied, with each one having a different role in the show.

You have our heroes like the feisty Flamegirl, or stoic Gamecrazed. Kirbopher is also a character in this show, voiced by himself. Our heroes usually go up against various “hackers”, who comprise most of the antagonists on the show. You have a ton, such as the slimy monster Doubling, or the effeminate Ravenfreak. By far, the most popular villain on the show is Rockoon.

Using the avatar of an anthropomorphic raccoon, Rockoon serves as the show’s more recurring villain. He sometimes appears more than most of the series’ regular antagonists. Probably for good reason, as he has some of the best lines and moments in the entire show’s run. Rockoon became a sort of mascot for the series, to the point where he even got his own standalone animated short.

 

 

 

In summation, TOME was a pretty good internet “anime”. Despite not being made in Japan, the creator obviously had a lot of knowledge when it came to the medium. TOME is a very flawed show, but you can tell passion went into it. While the show’s plot is formulaic, its interesting cast of characters and great writing make up for it.

Like I said earlier, the show ran for 2 seasons and had 16 episodes. Best of all, each episode is available for viewing on Youtube FOR FREE! There’s also an upcoming tactical RPG spinoff game that looks pretty cool, even featuring a custom protagonist. At the end of day, TOME managed to do something that most flash-based anime fail at: Being entertaining. Solid voice acting, entertaining writing, and some good animated bits keep this show feeling fresh. It’s far from perfect and fairly typical of the genre it’s inspired by, but it’s still a solid ride from beginning to end.

Mass Effect Retrospective: Mass Effect 1

Introduction

If there’s a genre that I love without a doubt, it would have to be sci-fi. Science Fiction can be really fascinating if done right, but it can definitely be an easy thing to get completely wrong. For sci-fi to be truly good, you need an interesting world, great lore, fantastic characters, and excellent writing. A few of my favorite series managed to pull this off very well: Phantasy Star, Star Wars, Star Trek, Digimon, Captain Harlock, etc.

There was also another sci-fi series, one that I didn’t get into until my teen years. I’m talking about Mass Effect, the series that changed my outlook on science-fiction. For those of you don’t know what these games are, let me explain. Back in the early 2000s, the amazing developers at Bioware put out “Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic”. Released in 2003, this game was a Star Wars game like no other. It was a fully realized 3D RPG with an emphasis on customization. It let the fans live out their dream of being a Jedi and travelling across the galaxy.

Of course, Bioware didn’t own Star Wars. They wanted to continue KOTOR’s legacy, but under a new branding and universe. Thus, Mass Effect was born! Mass Effect threw us into a brand new sci-fi universe, one that merged elements of our own universe with the epic storytelling of Bioware. What resulted was a science-fiction tale unlike few others, and a franchise that we wouldn’t soon forget.

Unfortunately, this series isn’t what it used to be. Andromeda came out last year, and effectively killed the franchise. Sure, they claim it’s on “hiatus”, but I doubt we’ll ever see this franchise make a solid return. Still, I felt it would be good to go back and give this series a thorough look. With that, let’s get down to the Mass Effect retrospective!

Mass Effect 1

The first game in this tremendous new series came out in 2007. Both 2007 and 2008 were both great years for gaming, bringing us classics like Fallout 3 and Fable 2. Mass Effect 1 told the story of Commander Shepard, a protagonist that the player was fully able to customize. Commander Shepard had a voice, which was unlike previous Bioware protagonists.

However, what Shepard did and said was completely up to the player. While morality wasn’t a new concept to games, Mass Effect did a good job of making it feel realistic. You’re actions would fall into either “Paragon” or “Renegade”, which comprised the game’s morality system. Of course, neither Paragon or Renegade were considered “good” or “evil”, but instead contained elements of both. Paragon was more about being righteous in what you did, while Renegade was doing the right thing, but in the wrong way.

For example, you are badgered by a reporter near the start of the game. She insults you and mocks you, which leads you into choosing 1 of 2 choices: Debunking her argument using logical fallacies and well-meaning statements, or by punching her in the face ruthlessly. Both actions work towards the same goal, but differ wildly in what they accomplish. The first option makes you look more well-mannered and caring, while the second option makes you look like a heartless monster who can’t take criticism.

The game is full of choices like this, which works well in its favor. The game was also technically “open-world”, with each planet having its own expansive landscape to explore. Unfortunately, most planets had very little to do on them, aside from salvaging items and the occasional side-quest.

Still, there was a ton of customization and a massive amount of things to do. Mass Effect’s universe felt alive and vibrant, unlike most games of that era. You got stronger not only by accomplishing tasks, but also interacting with the world and the characters within it. The game itself rewarded you by becoming a part of its world and trying to learn more about it.

That being said, the game certainly had its fair share of problems. The graphics weren’t super great, even for the time. As such, the game has aged incredibly poorly. The awkward graphics during both the cut-scenes and gameplay are definitely one of its weaker points.

On top of this, the gun-play isn’t as refined or polished as it is in later seasons. Despite being part RPG and third-person shooter, the elements between the two don’t blend very well. Sure, this game has all the stat-building that any number-crunching RPG fan would love. The problem is that it doesn’t blend well with the shooter elements at all.

Certain stats just out-weigh others, and some are completely negated if you’re solid enough at shooter games. Not only that, but the game’s story tends to drag. A lot of this comes down to the planet exploration missions being way too long. Still, it’s a well-written story, if a bit too long for the first game in a series.

While I certainly have complaints about this game, I can’t say that it’s a bad game by any stretch of the imagination. It introduced a new sci-fi universe in a believable way, offered a ton of memorable characters, and felt like a grand addition to Bioware’s repertoire of excellent games.

I loved this game back then, and I still love it now. To me, ME1’s story and world have stood the test of time, even if its gameplay and graphics haven’t. I’d keep talking about ME1, but I’ve already reviewed it in the past. I feel I’ve reminisced enough about this classic game, so it’s about time I move on to the second game. Join me in a week or two for the second part of the Mass Effect retrospective!

Yet Another Obscure Anime Gem: Beast Saga

I’ve talked nonstop about anime in the past on this blog, but I thought I’d add yet another post to the heap of mini-reviews I do on obscure titles. You see, tons of anime get released on a yearly basis, so it’s not uncommon for a lot of them end up buried. This got really bad in the 2010s, where a lot of good anime ended up becoming quickly forgotten. Shows like Zetman, Gatchaman Crowds, and Tiger & Bunny. Sure, these shows were popular when they aired (and some still are), but they really only took off in Japan.

It probably doesn’t help that a lot of anime nowadays will fail to gain popularity outside of Japan, due to the audience’s perception of it. I think a show that fell victim to this was “Beast Saga”, an obscure anime from 2013. This show revolved around three kingdoms of anthropomorphic animals, controlled by the Sky, Land, and Sea tribes.

Each of the three kingdoms have animal-people that represent these three elements, such as having water mammals in the Sea Kingdom and birds in the Sky Kingdom. It’s a pretty basic classification system. The show revolves primarily around the king of the Earth Tribe, Liogre the lion. King Liogre tends to spend less time on actually ruling his kingdom, and more time going around defending it.

One of the running gags with this character is that he loves to fight, to the point where he endangers himself quite often for the sake of his loyal subjects. Liogre is joined in his adventures by his son Ogre, his royal guard, and a group of bird-men led by the neutrally-aligned Captain Eagle.

A lot of arcs involve Liogre doing battle with some kind of evil animal, who is in turn seeking to gain control of some powerful artifacts. They’ll usually fight over “Godlots”, giant powerful cubes that can bestow upon the user amazing powers and abilities. Liogre has to deal with all kinds of problems, from the sudden reappearance of his old friend Golder, to the vicious brutality of the Shark Brothers.

This all happens in the first season, by the way. There is a second season, but it’s pretty rare to find subtitled versions of it. There was a dub that aired on Toonami Asia for it, but that is equally rare and hard to find. As such, only season 1 has received any sort of fan-translation. Which sucks, because there are parts of the season’s story that heavily tease the next arc.

Regardless, it’s still a fun show all around. Good action scenes, likable (if a bit generic) characters, and a ton of really goofy animal puns make this show a joy to watch. What also helps is that the show is on the short side, with each episode being only about 10 minutes long.

Sure, Beast Saga isn’t something new or revolutionary, but it manages to fill that void of “action animal” anime that most shows tend to ignore. It reminds me a lot of Samurai Pizza Cats, Eto Rangers, or KO Beast in that regard. I suggest checking out Beast Saga if you’re interested at all in this kind of action show.

ReBoot: The Guardian Code Review

The 90s was a unique time for television, an experimental age where all kinds of new and crazy concepts for TV shows were brought to life. Shows like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Friends, the English dub of Dragon Ball Z, Shadow Raiders, The Maxx, and Cybersix populated this era of experimentation. However, there was one show that is often considered to be one of the most revolutionary cartoons to come out in this decade: ReBoot.

Made by the guys who did the CGI for the “Money For Nothing” music video, comes the first fully CGI cartoon ever. ReBoot took place inside a computer and revolved around a program named “Bob”, who was essentially an antivirus known as a “Guardian”. Bob made friends with the spunky young Enzo, and his sister Dot. Along with a stable cast of other likable characters, our heroes went on adventures through cyberspace in order to defend the computer world of “Mainframe” from evil computer viruses.

The show was fun, entertaining, and matured along with its audience. Starting off as a typical kids show, it eventually blossomed into a dark and emotional roller-coaster. While the fourth season dropped the ball a bit, it was still an entertaining experience from start to finish. Unfortunately, the season ended on an unresolved cliffhanger.

People who were enjoying the fourth season were left in the dust, when the planned third TV movie was cancelled. With no continuation from the TV front, the story was continued in comic form. Unfortunately, the comic was very unsatisfying, at least in terms of what it was trying to do with the world and characters. Not even the return of obscure fan-favorite character “Code-Master Lens” could save this comic for me.

The comic ended up being a bland continuation that lacked thrills and was resolved rather haphazardly. There was also a trilogy that was planned to continue the story, but it was ultimately cancelled. Another cancelled project was a planned spin-off, which was to be titled “Binomes”. This spin-off was aimed towards a younger audience, but never made it past early planning stages.

With the exception of a few rather awesome art-books (one of which I’ve reviewed on this very blog), ReBoot remained a dormant franchise… Until just a few years ago. A ReBoot continuation was announced and fans were excited! However, photos emerged from the reboot of ReBoot in late 2017. Suffice to say, fans were not impressed by it. It featured a ton of characters we never saw before, most of whom were generic teenagers and weird Power Ranger-esque superheroes.

When the trailer hit a month ago, fans were “treated” to their first glimpse of “ReBoot: The Guardian Code”. What they got was not what they were expecting at all. Instead of an entertaining kids show about a group of computer programs dealing with a deadly virus, it’s now about teenagers transforming into superheroes and fighting crime in cyberspace.

Yes, this series shifted genres from a fun cartoon filled to the brim with computer lingo, to a poor man’s version of Code Lyoko. Heck, even the creator of Code Lyoko thought they were ripping him off! Now, going off the trailers alone, I assumed this show was going to be terrible. However, I decided to gave the series the benefit of the doubt.

After all, few networks had faith in the original ReBoot back in the 90s. CGI was pretty new at the time, and no one really wanted to invest in a cartoon that had a radically different animation style than more contemporary shows. Still, ReBoot managed to prove itself as a fantastic show all the same.

Despite its generic premise, I went into the new show with the false hope that they would somehow surprise me and create something entertaining. I hate to say this, but I was completely and totally wrong. Before I trash on this show, let’s start off with the good. Most of the original voice cast is back, which is nice.

Some voice actors had to be replaced, such as the late great Tony Jay as Megabyte. His new voice actor Timothy Brummund does a decent job, but you can tell what he wasn’t given a whole lot to work with script-wise. I liked that the designs from returning characters are kept mostly the same, even if they barely appeared. I also dig the virtual form of V.E.R.A., due to it’s simplicity when compared to the designs of the main characters’ virtual avatars.

That’s about all the good I can find, as this show is pretty flawed throughout. The show revolves around these teenagers who accidentally bring V.E.R.A. into the real world, who then recruits them to travel into cyberspace to face Megabyte. Yes, Megabyte is back and he’s been upgraded to look sufficiently ridiculous.

They show his original design, right before turning him into this glowing buff monstrosity. He looks more like Gigabyte than Megabyte, which is a bit disappointing in my opinion. You can tell the redesigned characters just don’t gel well, as a lot of the designs from the original were done by seasoned comic book artists. They knew how to make a design pop, which is something this show has a problem with.

Now, it’s bad enough that Megabyte looks like garbage, but he also comes off way less intimidating than in the original show. By the third season, Megabyte had pretty much won and was only defeated by the show’s heroes coming together to stop. Season 4 ends with Megabyte not only returning, but also winning once more! In this show, Megabyte had already been both deactivated and defeated by the time the hacker found him.

Once brought back online and upgraded to maximum potential, what’s the first thing he does? Blast a few lasers at Frisket, that’s it. He’s then reprogrammed and controlled by some hacker, which means he’s not really a virus anymore. He’s a program, because viruses aren’t directly controlled by users themselves. This show can’t even follow the most basic rules set by the original, can it?

So, this show’s new villain is this generic hacker guy, as opposed to the Megabyte we all know and love. He doesn’t really do anything that interesting, aside from sending other people to do his bidding. Megabyte constantly gets thrashed in almost every episode, which means that he was more of a threat when he was a free agent. This is a guy who brought down an entire system, now he can’t even defeat a few teenagers.

Oh yeah, forgot about those old characters that we grew to know and love. These guys are our new “heroes”, despite the fact they are all very bland. They all have generic suits, generic powers, and generic personalities. You got the smart guy, the leader, the girl, etc. They are much less interesting than the vast cast the show used to have. You can’t tell me that the forgettable protagonist Austin is any better than Bob from the original show, since he lacks all the nuance and interesting characteristics that Bob had.

Now, before I end this off, I’ll go into what I think is the worst part of the show. So far, they’ve put out 10 episodes of the first season on Netflix. I ended up using the American Netflix at a friend’s house to watch the show, since they’re going to air the episodes in Canada last. Why? Since YTV is a Canadian-only network, and they need something to air between episodes of Spongebob. Now, this isn’t what I find to be the worst part.

The worst part is that out of these 10 episodes they put up, the original ReBoot gang only appear in one episode. Can you guess which one? It’s not the first, second, or even the fifth episode. They do not appear at all (aside from Frisket and Megabyte), UNTIL THE TENTH EPISODE. That’s right, this ReBoot show barely shows anything relating to the original series until the halfway point of the first season.

This series also shows us the User for the first time ever, portraying him as a ReBoot fan who lives in his mother’s basement and has no friends. Wow, way to insult your entire fan-base, Mainframe. The worst part isn’t even The User though, it’s Bob and friends. Despite Bob being voiced by his original voice actor, he’s not the same character. The CGI makes me look like a zombie, like a reanimated corpse. His lines are also terrible, forced, and contrived.

One of the first things he says in the series is his speech that he gave in the original show’s intro, to a random group of Guardians that he has never met before. I’m serious, this actually happens. There are many other problems I could go over, such as the bad CGI, bad acting for the human characters, lack of proper continuity with the original show, and many others. I feel if I were to go over every problem, then I’d be writing a book on this show, which is something I don’t really want to do.

I want to conclude by saying to not watch this show. It has little to do with the original and feels like it was only made to sell toys. None of the original staff work on this, aside from a few returning voice actors. I watched this show out of love for the original series, but now I feel I should’ve heeded the lacking quality of the trailers and stayed away.

I know people will enjoy this show, I’m not trying to stop anyone from doing so. If you like Guardian Code and think it’s a great show, then that’s fine. We all have our tastes and interests. The thing is that I can just not get into this series. It fails as a continuation, it fails as its own thing, and it fails at emulating the original ReBoot.

I suggest sticking solely to the original, as I feel there’s not a whole lot on offer in this new series. Watch Tron, Code Lyoko, or Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad if you want a show that does this superhero premise better. As for me, I’ll keep watching this show, mostly out of morbid curiosity. Considering how off-kilter the episode with the original ReBoot cast was, I’m curious to see what they mess up next. In short, this show is like a train-wreck in slow-motion, it’s very hard to look away from.

Warframe: A Solid MMO Experience

When it comes to sci-fi games, it seems that there are way too many of them. Sure, I love a good science-fiction game, but the market seems to be over-saturated with them. This was the problem the game developers at Digital Extremes faced when it came to marketing Warframe, a third sci-fi action game. Warframe’s concept was being thrown around during the development of Dark Sector, but they didn’t have the ability to make it a full reality at the time.

As such, Dark Sector became its own game, and served as a sort of loose prequel to what will eventually become Warframe. I started playing this game just a few weeks back and quickly find myself engrossed in it. For the longest time, I just assumed Warframe was a generic sci-fi shooter. It probably didn’t help that I never bothered to research the game, so I didn’t know much about it beyond concept alone.

Having spent several hours with the game already, I can say that I feel very ashamed that it took me this long to finally sit down and play the game. So, what is the game exactly? Well, it’s a third person action game with RPG elements. It reminds me a lot of Mass Effect 2, in that the game plays like a typical third person action game. Much like Mass Effect, you select your gear before going out on a mission. There’s also the ability to select different planets to go to from a star chart, again very similar to Mass Effect.

Unlike Mass Effect 2, this game has a much larger focus on resource gathering and crafting. You see, you can obtain everything you want just by playing through the game. Now, that seems like a given with most games. However, the kicker here is that Warframe is “free”! I say that in quotations, because you can (and probably should) pay for stuff in the game.

The thing is that nothing is mandatory to enjoy your experience. The game will never shame you for not buying that one thing, or decrease your EXP gain, or block your progress in some innocuous way. Sure, there are limitations, such as the game giving you a limited amount of weapon slots. Still, it’s not enough to really damper my mood.

I feel like the game gives way too much out for free, but I do indeed want to thank the developers for this amazing game by buying more gear with actual money. Now, the game also has a story. I’d say it’s decent, at best. The game revolves around you playing as a space-ninja known as a “Tenno”, who utilizes customizable robot suits known as “Warframes” to complete missions.

That’s a very abridged (and simplified version) of the plot and for the most part, it’s enjoyable. Unfortunately, the game’s plot has a tendency to become very episodic over time. This isn’t helped by the fact that both side-quests and story quests are grouped in the same part of the codex and are both given equal priority. After those first few opening missions, it felt like hours before I did anything related to the overarching narrative.

While the plot was passable, the quest variety was a little less so. Sure, there’s a good number of differing quests to try, but all of them are grouped into about a dozen different types. Some of them can be pretty dang fun (like Assassination, Extermination, or Defense missions), while others can border on tedious (such as the Archwing missions).

Despite this, the missions I don’t like are often made fun by the fast and furious combat, which saves a lot of the game from feeling boring. What makes the combat better is the multiplayer component, which allows for some pretty crazy combat scenarios. Unfortunately, I’ve been having issues trying to getting the multiplayer to work. Due to an error, the multiplayer would only work sometimes.

I’ve found that it works when I leave my PC off for several hours and then turn it back on. Then I can play the multiplayer for one session, before having to do the process again in order to experience multiplayer once more. It’s really infuriating to say the least, but at least it’s better than not having the game work at all.

In short, I’d have to say that I’ve certainly enjoyed my time with Warframe so far. It’s fun, energetic, and I feel that it adapts well to my skill level. Is it a perfect game? Not really, but it’s pros definitely outweighs its cons. If you’re at all interested in this game and you have a powerful enough PC to play it, I suggest at least giving it a shot. Like I said, it’s free and a good time-sink. It’s always a good time to be a space ninja!