Dungeons & Dragons Marathon: Neverwinter Nights’ “Pirates of Sword Coast” Expansion

pirates of sword coast
This can’t end well…

If there’s anything I’ve learned over the past 27 years of life, it’s that everyone loves pirates. You put pirates in anything and people are bound to take notice, mostly due to how popular the concept is. Disney’s “Pirates of The Caribbean” films are proof of just how much people love pirates. Of course, video-games are no strangers to pirate-centric themes either.

You have the Risen series, the Tales of Monkey Island games, as well as the very recent Sea of Thieves. These franchises/games are fairly well-known, but today I’m going to be talking about one of the more obscure pirate games of all time. Heck, it’s not even a full game, but rather an expansion pack! It’s time to discuss one of Neverwinter Nights’ “Premium Modules”, the often forgotten “Pirates of Sword Coast”.

For those of you don’t know what what a Premium Module is, allow me to explain. During Neverwinter Nights’ original release, members of the game’s fan community were given the chance to create their own modules for the game. The modules were then sold separate from the main game, resulting in the earliest form of “paid mods”.

However, unlike Bethesda’s attempts at paid mods, these Premium Modules were actually worth the price! You got entirely new adventures, new party members, new side-quests, and new bits of voice-acting. All of the modules were built with the intention of seeing how far they could push the game’s “Aurora Engine”, and Pirates of The Sword Coast was no exception to this rule.

The expansion pack revolved around the player working for a pirate crew aboard a ship called, “The Midnight Rose”. During a routine trip, the ship ends up being hijacked by an insane sorceress. You end up marooned on an island, while all your gear has been swept away by the waves. With only the ripped clothes on your back, a sassy parrot, and your own skills and abilities, it’s up to you to find a way off the island and get your ship and stuff back.

Pirates of The Sword Coast’s premise may seem generic at first glance, until you reach the halfpoint of the expansion and things start getting really crazy. I was honestly never bored with the story, even during the formulaic early parts. A lot of this came down to the witty dialogue, interesting characters, and fun quests.

POTC sets itself apart from the main quest of the base game by featuring an interesting plot, filled with twists and turns. There are tons of colorful characters to meet and recruit, as well as many giant beasts to topple. I don’t want to spoil too much of it, as it does have a lot of interesting plot developments.

The gameplay is identical to the base game, which involves a lot of leveling up and item management. Combat remains the same as well, still favoring strategy and planning. That’s not to say the game doesn’t offer anything new at all, because there are some things that do mix up the formula. I’m talking about the game’s “survival” elements, which only show up while you’re marooned on the island.

You see, gameplay on the island requires a lot of item management. You need to collect sticks and rocks that you can use to start campfires, or to help create makeshift weapons. At first, this is an interesting concept. Planning your survival tactics and making sure you have enough healing items is key to surviving the early portions of the island. The problem? It gets really tedious, really fast!

For one thing, you need to keep many of these supplies in your inventory at the same time. Since you can’t stack most of them, they’ll often clutter several inventory pages on their own. You also need certain items to start a campfire, which is necessary for healing. After you leave said island, you’ll no longer have a need for them at all. You will still happen across campfires that you can light later on in the game, but they’ll be far less useful at that point.

Another annoyance comes in the fact that the game does require you to do a fair bit of grinding and leveling, especially if you want to conquer the final boss. I tried fighting her at level 11, only to later discover that I needed to be level 13-14 and wearing good armor in order to stand a chance. To be fair, this complaint is more indicative of the RPG genre as a whole.

The last complaint I have is on how you achieve the game’s “good ending”. To get the good ending, you have to abandon your moral compass in order to forgive someone truly evil. This is kind of annoying, and I feel the moral ambiguity of both endings is used in a very odd way. Regardless, they do make for some interesting bookends to this expansion.

I feel like Pirates of The Sword Coast is a fine expansion to the Neverwinter Nights formula. It doesn’t really change up much, but the few additions it does add make it enjoyable. The pirate theme makes for some interesting dialogue and plot-threads, while giving the player some fun scenario in the process. If you can get past the tedious island section and its maddening item-management, then there’s certainly something fun and interesting for you here.

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Aladdin: An Animated Masterpiece of Its Time

The 90s was a good time for Disney, especially for their animation department. This decade is often referred to as the “Disney Renaissance”, since it saw the company’s prominent return to the public’s eye. During this time, films like “Beauty and The Beast” and “The Little Mermaid” utterly destroyed the box office. With two successes under their belt, Disney decided to try their hands at adapting “1001 Arabian Nights”.

The result was “Aladdin”, which is often hailed as one of the greatest animated films of all time. Aladdin told a story that felt like a fusion of Arabian folklore and classic fantasy literature. To a lot of people, this combination was very appealing. Aladdin revolved around the titular thief and his simian sidekick, all the while weaving an interesting story around them.

Aladdin is a young man who lives in poverty, while also resorting to stealing just to survive. Aladdin eventually happens across the beautiful “Princess Jasmine” and falls in love with her. Unfortunately, the evil wizard “Jafar” gets in his way and Aladdin ends up buried underground in the “Cave of Wonders”.

After awakening a powerful genie, Aladdin sets off on his musical mission to woo the princess. That’s the basis for the film, but Aladdin does much more than that. It creates an interesting tale that boasts amazing animation, as well as a fantastic soundtrack. You have character designs that really pop, and some of the best voice-acting ever heard in a Disney film.

Aladdin’s biggest feature was streamlining elements from previous Disney films, while making the film more palatable to a newer audience. One way that they accomplished this was by reducing the total number of musical numbers. The film still had these, but they were usually only sung during major story points. I liked this quite a bit, as I felt older Disney films were a bit too “musically cluttered”.

Beauty and The Beast was a good example of this, as a fair amount of songs from that film felt like filler. Aladdin focused on featuring its best songs, and all of them were exceptional in the themes they were trying to portray. While several songs were cut from the final release, that didn’t matter too much in the grand scheme of things. The songs they did choose were the best of the best, and did well to help add to the film’s quality.

The film also brought focus to Jasmine, and developed her much more than previous Disney princesses. To me, Aladdin was just an amazing film overall. It’s animation and music is timeless, having barely aged since I saw it so many years ago. Aladdin eventually spawned its own franchise, which was pretty good for the most part. I wasn’t a fan of the first sequel, but the TV series and third film won me over.

After the third film and a crossover with the “Hercules” cartoon, the series went into hibernation for nearly two decades. It wasn’t until recently that the series started to make its triumphant comeback. Princess Jasmine made a small appearance in the second Wreck-It Ralph movie, while Disney gears up to reboot the whole franchise in live-action form.

It’s clear that Disney wants to try to make this franchise a thing again, which I’m not against in any way. The problem is that I doubt it’ll be as successful as it was in the 90s. Aladdin came out in a time when Disney was making a massive comeback, and it was certainly a solid adaptation for its time. Time will tell if live-action Aladdin can capture the same magic as the original film did in the 90s.

The Forgotten Marvel Film: Japanese Spider-Man Movie Review

We live in a day and age when the market is flooded with superhero movies, most of which are based on Marvel properties. You have the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the X-Men Cinematic Universe, and the standalone Spider-Man movies. However, these universes only contain a small fraction of all Marvel movies. There are tons of films made by other studios, most of which aren’t connected to any pre-existing universe.

However, there’s one Marvel film that most people don’t even know exists: The Japanese Spider-Man movie. This film was a based off a show that aired in Japan, often referred to as “Supaidaman”. Supaidaman was about a young motocross racer named “Takuya Yamashiro, who would don a suit very similar to the Spider-Man we all know and love.

However, Takuya Yamashiro was a far different Spider-Man than Peter Parker ever was. Proclaiming himself as the “Emissary of Hell”, he would eradicate the monsters he faced in often excruciating ways. At the same time, Supaidaman would have to deal with the evil “Iron Cross Army”. The series proved successful enough to get adapted into a short film, one that happened to get a theatrical release. The film itself was paired with a bunch of other short films, all being shown during the same screening.

This 20 minute film took place sometime between episodes 10 and 11, and featured the introduction of Supaidaman’s new ally: Juzo Mamiya. Juzo fakes a kidnapping of Takuya’s friends and family in an attempt to get Supaidaman to work with him. I mean, there are better ways to recruit someone than resorting to faking a kidnapping. Still, Juzo’s an Interpol Agent with an important mission, which is apparently too important to worry about things like “logic”.

After being recruited to assist Interpol, Supaiddaman uses his GIANT FREAKING ROBOT to find a giant aquatic monster named “Sea-Devil”. Yes, I made it sound way cooler than it actually is. After a not-so-impressive giant monster fight, Sea-Devil is killed and the evil Iron Cross Army temporarily retreats.

That’s pretty much the movie, as it doesn’t have much substance to it. This isn’t too surprising, considering this film was basically just another episode. It had the same budget as the 1978 show it spun off from, which wasn’t a lot at all. Fight scenes were stiff and awkward, while the special-effects were incredibly cheap.

That’s not to say the film doesn’t do some cool things, because it certainly does. I loved the trippy intro, which involved Supaidaman being trapped in some weird wacky room with some kind of strange being. It’s a trippy sequence, one that feels out of place in this stereotypical superhero movie. I also loved the over-the-top acting, especially how Supaidaman delivers all his lines with great intensity.

So yeah, that was the Japanese Spider-Man/Supaidaman movie. It’s a strange oddity, and what is essentially a bonus episode for a series that only aired in Japan. It’s certainly not a bad film, but it lacks the charm and uniqueness of all the Spider-Man films that would come after it. While the film isn’t terrible, it isn’t anything to write home about. I only recommend checking it if you’re a hardcore Supaidaman fan.

Remembering The Awesomeness That Is No More Heroes

Who loves a good action game that breaks the fourth wall? Well, apparently a lot of people do. After all, No More Heroes has become immensely popular off this concept alone! This Suda 51 game came out in 2008, and immediately set the world on fire. No More Heroes was a special action game, one that focused on a goofy assassin named “Travis Touchdown”. In each game, Travis would have to fight his way to the top and become the number one assassin.

Along the way, he would also engage in mini-games and watch anime. No More Heroes really set itself apart by feeling distinct, due to how it took the action game genre and put a unique spin on it. The graphics were nice and stylish, the combat was fast and fun, and the game had an insane story with wacky characters.

It wasn’t something groundbreaking, but for the time it did the job well. There was a second game, but it’s not as well remembered. Despite adding in new playable characters, new bosses, and a new story, it still felt hollow. There wasn’t that many new mechanics, and most of the “improvements” came from streamlining certain aspects of the previous game.

On top of this, the story this time around just wasn’t as interesting. It was a generic revenge plot, one which featured a nonsense final boss. As a result, “No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle” felt like a hollow followup to a great game. It was still enjoyable, but it lacked the punch the first game had. Several of the bosses were just rehashes of the ones from the first game, but done much worse in some cases.

The last game in the series was a port of the first game, which was called “No More Heroes: Paradise”. It featured several small changes, as well as an HD overhaul of the graphics. At that point, the series went into hibernation. We didn’t see anything from the series for a long time, which was really annoying. There were rumors of Travis Touchdown being considered for Super Smash Brothers, but that never happened.

There was some hope when Suda 51 announced “Killer Is Dead”, which looked like a spiritual successor to No More Heroes. Sadly, Let It Die was its own beast, one that had zero connection to No More Heroes at all. Eventually though, a new No More Heroes game got announced. Released nearly a decade after the last entry, we finally got “Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes”.

The game is part sequel and part re-imagining, though it looks rather interesting all the same. I haven’t played the game yet myself, so I can’t comment too much on it. The game looks like a dungeon-crawler fused with the original game, but with a ton of new things added to help mix up the formula. I hope to play the game one day and present a formal review of it, but I’m going to wait on purchasing it for a bit. After all, I want to go back and replay the originals, just to have a little refresher course! When I do play it, I’ll be sure to post the review here for all to see.

Superb Surreal Horror: Local58 Review

Imagine something that you don’t understand, something that truly horrifies you. What if said thing you are imagining is also something you understand, or at least something you SHOULD understand? A decently sized YouTube channel called “Local58” is that something. Local58 is a collection of short little horror vignettes, designed to look like bumpers from old TV show channels.

Almost every short starts off relatively tame, before quickly descending into madness. One video may seem like a harmless weather forecast, before plunging into a story about the moon trying to kill everyone. Another video may be an animated short from the 20s, which starts off cute and then quickly becomes unsettling.

Local58 combines the dull and simplistic nature of old broadcasts with dark themes, resulting in a horror experience that resonates with its audience. This concept isn’t something entirely new, especially due to it being used by the creator before. The series was created by Kris Straub, the man behind the popular internet horror story, “Candle Cove”.

Candle Cove revolved around a strange children’s show watched by certain individuals, one that has horrific imagery not meant for kids. Local58 acts as a spiritual sequel, even using the same channel number as the one that aired the eponymous show. Local58 feels like the evolution of Candle Cove’s concept, taking the concepts introduced in that horror story and evolving them.

The thing I like most about Local58 is its aesthetic, which involves taking something old and subverting your expectations of it. Local58 is best described as “something you watch at midnight, while being half awake”. The videos feel like something unexpected that you catch during a late night broadcast when you’re barely awake, resulting in you seeing things that aren’t actually there.

It takes that concept of being up way too late for your own good watching TV, and develops it into a series of surreal shorts that toys with your mind. In essence, I think that’s what makes this series so great. It’s not something that’s completely new, but it does something that I wish more horror-based things would do. It doesn’t rely on blood, gore, or violence. It relies solely on making the audience feel unsettled, which makes it far more powerful than the average horror series.

Dungeons & Dragons Marathon: The Dead Alewives Sketches

If you’ve been around the internet for as long as I have, then you are most likely to run into what are called “internet memes”. Memes are basically internet “jokes”, which are usually just references to something dumb or silly. Some memes can transcend the time period in which they are made, and continue into the far future. Several such memes originated from an unlikely place: An old Dungeons & Dragons sketch made by Dead Alewives.

They were a sketch comedy group that existed around the 80s and 90s, while producing several rather entertaining sketches. In essence, they are mostly known for their original Dungeons & Dragons sketch! This audio sketch has a very simple, albeit entertaining premise. The idea behind it is that an omniscient narrator believes D&D to be satanic worship, which was a common misconception around the time.

The narrator paints D&D as pure evil, before showing the audience an “actual gaming session”. We are then shown a bunch of nerds who are goofing off, and playing the game normally. The sketch showed to casual audiences that D&D was harmless fun, and didn’t promote satanic or occult ideals.

The sketch itself had a ton of really good jokes and one-liners in there; my personal favorite is “I’ve got an Ogre-Slaying Knife, it’s got a plus 9 against ogres!” The sketch is simple, but it does what it sets out to do and presents its content in an entertaining and fun way. It was a hilarious and unforgettable depiction.

While the sketch wasn’t popular initially, its repeat airings on the “Dr. Demento” radio program boosted its popularity greatly. By the last 90s, it had become one of the most requested sketches on the program. This eventually resulted in a second sketch, which just wasn’t as funny. It revolved around one of the players bringing their girlfriend to a game, only for the Dungeon Master to get jealous and annoyed.

The sketch was a whopping 7 minutes long, which was more than twice as long as the original sketch! Worse still, it just wasn’t as funny as the first. The first sketch’s humor relied on just nerds being nerds, rather than trying to force in a subplot about a jealous Dungeon Master. The jokes felt too stretched out and there was a bit too much filler for my liking.

It’s not terrible by any means, and there are still jokes that did get a chuckle out of me. On top of this, the voice-work by the Dead Alewives are impeccable as always! Thing is, it just lacked the magic that the first sketch had. There were no opening and ending narrations, no really good punchlines, and just a general lack of creativity.

It’s still enjoyable on its own, but it lacks the unique comedy stylings that the original brought to the table. Heck, most people have even forgotten that this second sketch even exists! It’s pretty obscure, especially for a follow-up to one of the most celebrated audio sketches of its time.

Despite the second sketch being forever doomed to obscurity, its predecessor continues to live on. People still quote lines from the first D&D sketch verbatim, and the sketch itself has even made it into the video-game “Summoner”. References to the sketch abound in most big MMORPGs, while nerds continue to shout “I’m attacking the darkness!” while playing a game of D&D.

The first sketch was simple, but was done really well. So well that it actually got me into Dungeons & Dragons, which I appreciate very much! While that second sketch will never be looked at all that fondly, at least the first one will live on in the hearts of nerds for many years to come. Just like a bottle of Mountain Dew, the Dead Alewives Dungeons & Dragons sketches are just too damn sweet!

Update On What’s Coming Next!

Hey guys, I hope you’ve been enjoying my blog thus far! I’ve decided to do an announcement on what I’ve got planned next for it. First off, there’s the ongoing D&D marathon. Like I mentioned already, it’ll be going on for the next three months. I have a ton of content planned for the marathon, so hopefully you’ll all enjoy that.

I’ve been working on “Digital World War” on and off, so I hope to have more chapters of it available soon. For those who don’t know, DWW is a series I made to parody Ready Player One. As I write, I find the series is slowly evolving into its own thing. I’m hoping people will enjoy it, since I’ve put a lot of passion and heart into it.

There will also be the typical stream of reviews, mostly the ones I got recently on PC. I’ll also start writing more short stories and posting them here. I hope to have a few of those out soon, including one that I started writing for Halloween. There will also be more movie reviews, some anime reviews, and many other things as well.

I feel I’ve been doing a good job lately of posting as much as possible, and I hope to keep that trend going for the foreseeable future. I love this blog and I love that you guys keep coming here to check out my content. I’m glad I was able to get a lot of writing done on my week off, and there’s going to be plenty more in the future!

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning DLC Expansions Review

Yep, I’m talking about Amalur again! Being my favorite open-world RPG, Kingdoms of Amalur has to be one of my favorite games of all times. I’ve sunk countless hours into both the X-Box 360 and PC versions, due to how entertaining the game is overall. In said game, you play as the “Fateless One”, a being who is free of the strings of fate. With the powers of a god and the ability to forge your own fate, you set out on a quest to save the kingdoms from their destined doom.

Despite the game being a financial failure upon initial release, it will making a return very soon. Having covered the main game recently, I thought it was about time to tackle the expansion packs as well. I’ve never actually discussed them before on this blog, so I decided I should finally review both of them! So, let’s discuss the two awesome expansion packs of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning!

Expasion #1: Legend of Dead Kel

First off is the obligatory pirate-themed expansion! Legend of Dead Kel was released in March of 2012, about a month after the game came out. In said expansion, you are tasked with joining a ship’s crew on their quest to kill the infamous dread pirate, “Dead Kel”. This un-dead pirate is causing mayhem and killing countless people, so it’s up to our godlike protagonist to take him down once and for all!

Dead Kel is a pretty interesting expansion, mostly due to how much it adds. You get an entirely new island to explore, complete with an insane amount of side-quests. Not only that, but there’s a new faction and a giant fort associated with it! “Gravehal Keep” is one of the most ambitious player-owned houses ever added to a fully 3D RPG game.

This fully up-gradable fortress features a crap ton of side-quests, tons of crafting tables, a throne where you can take on requests, and a ton of NPCs that occupy the location and offer services. I know player-owned fortresses aren’t new to RPGs, but they’re very rare in 3D games. To me, this fort made the expansion for me. There was so much to do and see, along with a crap ton of interesting quests to engage in.

Upgrading and owning a fort was great, but it sadly lacked any kind of real management. You didn’t have to worry about managing visitors, or keeping inventories stocked. It’s good that they kept the fort itself simplistic, but it lacked any of the deepness that other games may have given it. Still, it’s nice to at least have a badass fortress to come home to!

Speaking of said fortress, there’s one feature of the fort that most people like to talk about: Myfa and her “Diplomacy” quest. For those who don’t know, the game has a very simplistic and fun crafting system. The problem is that crafted gear tends to be way more powerful than the stuff you’d buy, find in a chest, or earn from quests.

This is made even worse by the fact that you can send Myfa off to Emberdeep to gather super rare materials for crafting. Having these materials makes the game super easy, especially once you get “flawless” materials. Say goodbye to any challenge this game could offer!

Regardless of that, there’s still plenty of awesome armor pieces and weapons to collect. The story itself is also pretty great, featuring a plot that parallels what your hero goes through in the main quest! Dead Kel is brought back from the dead, much like how your hero is during the main quest. Unlike your hero though, he hates his un-dead state and wishes to take the powers of a god for himself.

In many ways, Kel feels like an evil mirror version of our hero. Sadly, that detail is never really explored that much in the story itself. I feel like a whole lot more could’ve been done with the scenarios given, but I still felt they were entertaining overall. In essence, Legend of Dead Kel is what I want in an expansion pack. It adds tons of new quests, a new faction, a giant fortress, and an entertaining story. I couldn’t ask for anything more than that!

Expansion #2: Teeth of Naros

On paper, travelling to a new strange new land filled with statue people sounds cool, but it falters in execution. Teeth of Naros sends the Fateless One into a strange new land inspired by Greek Mythology, resulting in them travelling to a city filled with people made of living stone. It’s certainly an interesting concept, but flawed in execution.

The new world-space added just isn’t as interesting as the pirate-themed island of the first expansion. In essence, it looks near identical to the first area from the base game. There’s a lot of forests and foliage, on top of a distinct lack of anything creative. The city itself is well-designed and nice to look at, but you’ll be spending so little time in it that you will likely not care.

Dead Kel gave you an entire fortress, one that acted as a small city. It was filled with special amenities, bonuses, and quests. While Naros’ city offers all of these bonuses, it just lacks the majesty of being your own personal headquarters. It’s just another town, but with a different layout and new race of NPCs.

There are also new weapons, a new bird-based enemy type, and a new damage type called “Primal”. The Primal element seems to be one of the few new big additions, since it adds a new ability to your repertoire. Using Primal damage, you can make an enemy weak to other types of elemental damage. The problem is that you’ll most likely never use it, since the damage bonuses it gives you aren’t all that great.

By the time you get Primal weaponry, you’d probably already have way better elemental weapons anyways! Sure, you can craft Primal weapons, but they’re not that much of a game-changer. The story in said DLC is alright, but it lacks the punch that Dead Kel brought to the table.

The villain this time around is Anokotos, who is so clearly the true evil from the moment you meet him. He’s dissatisfied with how the gods have forsaken his people, so he decides to steal some of the Fateless One’s power in an attempt to destroy and rebuild his kingdom.

Unfortunately, I just felt that Anokotos’ story wasn’t that interesting. The problem with this is that Anokotos just isn’t as integral to the world as Dead Kel is; a character who was a living and breathing part of the world. Everyone on the island knew Kel, and almost every side-quest made reference of him. He had an intimidating presence to the locals and he made an impact.

Anokotos’ villainous reveal lacks any wait, and he just comes off as a generic traitorous baddie. Worse still, barely anyone references him in side-quests. Anokotos feels like a huge step down from Kel, and is a huge disappointment overall. Unfortunately, the whole expansion pack feels like that.

It’s not a terrible expansion, but it lacks the large amount of interesting content Kel had. So much of Naros’ side-content was generic fetch-questing, a fair amount of which don’t have any NPC quest-givers tied to them. Sure, the other expansion had fetch quests too, but nowhere near as much. It’s pretty clear that Naros’ lacking quality probably is due to its dwindling budget, because it came out around the time the studio was about to shut down.

At this point, Amalur was a commercial failure. Looking at Naros, it’s clear to see that the passion that made the base game and last expansion so great was gone. What we got was something that was set in the Amalur universe, but lacked that grandiose feeling that made its predecessors great. At the very least, it was still entertaining and offered a semi-interesting setting. Regardless, it just wasn’t the followup I was looking for.

Conclusion

These two expansions are definitely interesting additions to the Amalur franchise. Dead Kel was an awesome expansion, one that added a cool new island to explore and an awesome fortress to live in! Teeth of Naros felt like a step backwards, and just wasn’t as good as the previous expansion. Still, it did some things right and I can at least appreciate it for that.

Now, there was some other DLC made for the game, but it’s barely worth mentioning. These other DLC were just armor and weapon packs, nothing to write home about. I mainly just wanted to cover Naros and Kel, since I’ve played through these expansions at least 4 times at this point. With Amalur making a return, here’s hoping we’ll get some new expansions in the future! After all, I’m sure there’s plenty more kingdoms to discover in this vast world.

I Finally Got A Nintendo Switch!

Yep, I finally ponied up the cash for a Nintendo Switch! The Switch is Nintendo’s newest console on the market, and it’s been out for nearly 2 years at this point. So, why did it take me so long to get it? Well, stuff is more expensive in Canada, and I’m incredibly cheap. I’ve actually had my eyes on the Switch for a long while now, and thought it was about time I nabbed one for myself.

I ended up getting three games for it: Stardew Valley, Warframe, and Super Smash Bro. Ultimate. Warframe is actually free-to-play, and also lets you transfer over all your progress from the PC version. I ended up playing a fair bit of Warframe on the Switch, before moving on to Smash Ultimate and Stardew Valley.

I’ll be sure to give all three games a full review sometime soon, so look forward to those! As for the console itself, it’s pretty nifty. It feels so satisfying to slide the “Joy-cons” out of the console and onto a controller stand to use as a controller. Plus, I love the semi-portability of the console. The design is overall nice and simplistic, and the library of games it has is pretty damn awesome.

If I had any major complaints on the console thus far, it would have to do with the online features. I’m pretty annoyed that I have to pay for online on a Nintendo console, but I get why it’s done. Online multiplayer has become far more expensive for companies to manage, so it’s sometimes necessary in this day and age to charge for such a service. While I don’t agree with having to pay for online on top of all of the console’s other expenses, I can’t say that it’s a fully terrible thing. After all, I barely play multiplayer anyways!

So yeah, I’m digging my Nintendo Switch thus far. It’s arguably the best console I’ve ever had, even better than the 3DS and Wii. I know that’s a bold statement, but it’s true. I love this console and hope to see how it evolves! Here’s hoping the Switch has a nice and very long life!

Dungeons & Dragons Marathon: Remembering That Weird D&D Cartoon

The 80s was a weird time for animation, mostly due to the watered down stuff you’d see on TV. Every show was trying to be the next “He-Man”, while desperately trying to shill its action figures onto the young audience watching at home. Not all shows were like this, however. Some shows were radically different than what was airing, or tried its best to be more than an over-glorified toy commercial.

You had shows like Galaxy Rangers, M.A.S.K., and The Real Ghostbusters. These were all shows that managed to be entertaining and interesting, while also selling toys! There was another show that also fell into this category, at least in some respects. So, let’s talk about the long forgotten “Dungeons & Dragons” cartoon. D&D began airing in 1983, and ended its run in 1985 with 27 episodes. It told the story of 6 kids who are transported to a fantasy world based on the popular Dungeons & Dragon board-game, due to riding atop a magical theme park ride based on said board-game.

Right away, the concept alone really makes no sense. I mean, why would they make a theme park ride based off a board-game? Of course, the “being pulled into an alternate universe by a theme park ride” makes far less sense regardless. After the six kids are brought to this new fantasy realm, they are tasked by the “Dungeon Master” to help bring peace to the realm. While doing this, they are desperately trying to find a way home.

The characters were certainly interesting on this show. You had Eric, who was the jerk of the team. Despite being a cavalier, he didn’t have a sword and was really only there to be the butt of everyone’s jokes. There was also Hank, who was the archer and leader of the team. All of the other characters filled simplistic roles in the group as well, and half of them were useless in most combat situations.

Most of the episodes revolved around the kids trying to get home or help someone, only to get attacked by “Venger”. Venger served as the show’s main villain, who was constantly trying to kill the kids every chance he got. He only feared Tiamat, who was a ferocious dragon with powers that rivaled his own.

As you can tell, the D&D cartoon had larger stakes than your average 80s cartoon. The show was dark, though kept a playful attitude through most of its episodes. Some episodes only had a few dark elements here or there, while still playing up the comedic aspects.

A good example of this is the episode, “Quest of the Skeleton Warrior”, which featured our heroes meeting said titular skeleton. In the episode, all the kids were forced to face their fears. Most of their fears were pretty tame, or very basic overall. Thing is, that’s not what most people remember about the episode. Near the end of said episode, Hank nearly gets all his skin peeled off by a magic spell! Yes, you can even see his skin starting to peel in the episode itself.

Of course, they save him before he can become another living skeleton. Thing is, this was the only part of the episode that really ventured into dark territory. However, some episodes were just designed to be really dark in nature. I think the episode everyone talks about when it comes to this show is “The Dragon’s Graveyard”.

The whole gist of the episode is that the kids are sick of Venger constantly trying to kill them, so they decide to hunt him down and kill him themselves. It’s a pretty dark subject for a show from the 80s to tackle, but it makes for an interesting watch all the same. Seeing the young heroes pushed to the brink, and willing to kill the main villain was something that no other cartoons at the time were really attempting.

While the show did have some dark and thought-provoking episodes here or there, it always fell back into typical kid show territory. As hard as this show tried, it just never broke away from the constraints of its medium. Despite this, the guys behind the show still act as if it’s a masterpiece of its time.

One of the writers of the show was Michael Reaves, who avidly believed the show was a game of its decade. Heck, he even compared it to “Gargoyles”, one of the darkest kids shows in the 90s! It’s weird that he’d compare D&D to such a dark and revolutionary show, but it’s good to know that he’s proud of what he and his team created!

I’ll be honest, I enjoy the show in spite of its flaws. It did try to be dark and incorporate elements from the board-game, even if the final product came off as bland on occasion. At the very least, it stands apart from most other 80s cartoons. It tried to be more than just a commercial for something and I can at least appreciate it for that. I hope this show does make a return one day, so they can finally animate a proper ending for it!