A Follow-up To My Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission Review

I did a review on “Super Dragon Balls: World Mission” a year ago, which is a trading-card video-game based on the classic Dragon Ball franchise. Dragon Ball tells the story of a crazy alien farmer with magical super-powers named “Goku”, who is on a never-ending quest to beat up everyone who looks remotely stronger than him. That’s a very short summary of this 600+ episode anime/manga series, but it’s the general gist of it.

The series is filled with a ton of characters, locations, and special attacks that only ever get used a few times. It’s almost sad how many characters get introduced in this series, only for the writers to instantly forget about them. A major complaint about the franchise for the longest time was that the writers often didn’t do anything with its massive cast.

This all changed in 2010, when Bandai-Namco released the “Dragon Ball Heroes” arcade game. The idea behind Heroes was that it was a trading-card game where you could scan the cards into the arcade machine and have them appear in the game itself. The twist was that over 99% percent of the franchise’s core cast was playable in the game! That’s right, almost every minor and major character was playable.

Yes, even obscure movie henchmen like Doore and Amond were playable. The problem was that you had to buy the cards in booster packs to play as them in the game, and a fair amount of them weren’t cheap to get. Since card-games and arcade games were pretty much dead in America at the time, we never got the game.

While the game did receive various ports, we surprisingly never got those either… Until 2019. Early in that year it was announced that the latest port of the game was not only coming to Nintendo Switch, but was also being released worldwide! I was finally able to try Dragon Ball Heroes in the form of “Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission” during that year, which reignited my love for trading card games.

As previously mentioned, I have already reviewed the game. The thing is that the game was so massive that there was no way I would fit it into a proper review. If I did, then the review itself would’ve been 20 pages long. So, I thought I’d do a followup a year later and just go into some of the things I didn’t touch on previously. I also want to touch on what’s changed/improved within said game.

For one thing, the card creation system is truly insane. When writing the review, I had only messed around with it a bit. Turns out that the card creation system is super complex, since you can actually beef up weaker cards by “selling” previous cards. You can then dump points into the cards you keep and upgrade them to an insane degree.

This is good when you’re making a 3-star custom card, since those allow you to slot in 2 abilities, instead of having the singular slot that a 4-star card gives. Also, the amount of characters you can get for these cards is staggering. There are hundreds of characters you can make a card out of, some of which don’t even have playable cards in the game itself!

Something I loved about this game was the free DLC. In a rare move for a Bandai-Namco game, every piece of DLC for this game is added as a free update. This includes over 200 brand new cards and even several bonus missions. It’s honestly surprising that they would give all this content away as free updates, especially when Bandai-Namco likes to over-price DLC for maximum profit. It’s nice to see them finally do updates for a game without charging a cent for them.

I also really dug the game’s “Arcade Mode”, which I don’t think I touched on much in my original review. It basically takes all the arcade-exclusive scenarios from the Japanese version and lets you play through them. I love doing these, mainly just to experience these unique scenarios. I’ll tell you this now: You have not lived until you’ve done the arcade quest-line where you play as businessmen versions of all the Z Fighters!

Honestly, my opinions on the game as a whole haven’t changed too much. I STILL love this game and I break it out from time-to-time. It’s one of the few card-based video-games that I can really get into. Sure, the visuals haven’t aged well at all and the gameplay can be repetitive, but it’s hard to deny how much of a love-letter to the franchise this game is. Here’s hoping this game continues to get updates into the future!

Project: Gorgon Is A Weird Game… AND I LOVE IT!

 

We live in a day and age where certain video-game genres are slowly dying out. Racing and puzzle games aren’t as common nowadays, despite receiving new entries from time to time. Another game genre that has fallen by the waist-side is the “MMORPG” genre. MMORPG stands for “Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game” and it was once one of the most popular genres in gaming.

Over time, MMOs became less prevalent. The problem with an online game is that it needs people playing and paying for it to be successful, which most MMOs struggle to pull off. However, despite the genre dying off, MMO games are still being made. Case-and-point: Project Gorgon.

Project Gorgon is what happens when you let people with creative and nutty minds craft an MMO from the ground up. On the surface, Gorgon looks like your standard fantasy game. In actuality, it’s a rather creative and bizarre game filled to the brim with weird NPCs and unique skill-trees.

The NPCs in this game are truly insane. They’ll often give you quests that involve asking other people to engage in “naughty behavior” with them, or make you fight a bear in a farm-house. Even a quest that’s as simple as “kill a bunch of enemies” can result in some fun NPC dialogue and interactions.

Another good thing about the game is its various skill-trees. There are standard skills in this game, like “Swords” and “Fire Magic”. However, you also level up other skills like “Dying” and “Cartography. Yes, dying is a skill in this game! There’s also “Beast” skills in this game, which involve you being cursed into the form of an animal. You level up each form individually, as if it’s a skill.

With so many different skills you can level and each one featuring special bonuses for leveling them up, you have a ton of ways to customize your play-style. That’s not even factoring in the multiple playable races, some of which have unique features and must be unlocked by doing certain quests.

The game also has a ton of single-player content for one to engage in. You can do any quest or dungeon with a party, but the game is still fun and manageable if you play solo. Currently, the game is in “Early Access”. Being a game that’s still far away from being fully finished, I can’t give a full review on it yet. The game is fully functional and rich with content in its current state, but I wouldn’t feel right giving it a review before it’s done.

What I can say is this: Project Gorgon is a weird and awesome MMORPG. It hearkens back to classic MMOs and does them justice, while still bringing something new to the table. It’s refreshing all around and embraces the craziness of its world and mechanics. I’d say to wait for a full release before getting the game, just so you can experience this masterpiece when it’s fully complete.

Living With Asperger’s

Author’s Note: This is an article written by me that was featured in the “Saskatoon Star Phoenix” nearly a year ago. You can find the original link to the article here. This article details how I live with my Asperger’s, and how I’m able to work and be successful in spite of it.

My goal was to make something that would both inspire myself, and those who read it. It wasn’t easy discussing my Asperger’s, or having it shared in such a wide capacity. However, the support I got from posting it was truly inspiring to me. As a result, I ended up writing more this year than I had in any year previous!

How can I live with Asperger’s? This is a question I often find difficult to answer.

Asperger’s affects many individuals in different ways, and some it may barely affect at all. Asperger’s is a learning disability, one that can hinder or help a person in many numerous ways. How does it affect an individual?

If you’ll allow me, I’d like to share my experiences with living this disability, and how it has affected me in both good and bad ways.

I’ve had Asperger’s all my life, even as a child. In my younger years, I found it difficult to interact with certain individuals. I didn’t always have a clear understanding of social interaction, so making friends could sometimes be a bit of an undertaking. Luckily for me, I had a good circle of friends who understood my “difficulties” and respected me.

Some of said difficulties included: Not catching onto obvious things right away, a difficulty maintaining proper eye-contact, an extremely short attention span, and rather awkward hand-eye co-ordination. Despite these “shortcomings,” I found I was actually quite skilled at various things.

As I grew older, I developed a knack for menial chores. Repetitive tasks very rarely bored me, which allowed me to become more skilled at certain jobs. Where someone may find a certain job to be a bit too bland, that’s never been too much of a detriment for myself. I also found that having Asperger’s doesn’t affect my work all that much.

It does tend to affect others though, I know of a few people who have difficulties managing their learning disability in work environments. What I think employers can do to better facilitate workers with Asperger’s and similar learning disabilities, is to form an understanding.

It’s best to cut them some slack in certain areas, but not too much to the point where it seems you like favoring this one individual. It’s best to be accommodating to that individual’s faults, while at the same time making use of their best traits. For example, a person with Asperger’s may have difficulty fully grasping the workplace training they are given.

This could be because they have problems with their attention span, or it could be they have difficulty in soaking up certain bits of information. Regardless, it’s best to spend some more time with that person to make sure they fully grasp the training. While in some cases it may seem like a bit more of an undertaking, I think it’s worthwhile to both the employer and employee.

Asperger’s doesn’t just affect how a person may act in the workplace, but also outside of it. This is especially true when it comes to me, or one of my friends. I may have difficulty fully understanding a person, or may be a bit less attentive than I should. Otherwise, my learning disability doesn’t usually get in the way of my accomplishing my given tasks. These “weaknesses” may have affected me a bit more in my early years, though I found I had mostly mastered them within the span of a few years. Over time, I realized that some of the things I felt were weaknesses, were in fact strengths.

For example, I used to think I was too imaginative for my good. I took my imagination for granted, and in many ways tried to ignore it. Years later, I would discover that my over-abundant imagination was very useful. I was able to use this boundless imagination to help with my writing, both the writing of business correspondence and that of the free-form writing I tend to do.

Eventually, I realized that I wasn’t alone with how I felt. I met and befriended many people with learning disabilities similar to my own, and learned how they dealt with their problems as well. One particular friend appeared to talk to himself a whole lot, to the point where I would occasionally show concern towards him.

However, he wasn’t talking to himself in a way that would alarm people, rather he was just practicing voice-work. He had a passion for voice-acting and the cartoon medium as a whole, and was extremely good at impressions. I’ve seen him do some amazing voice-work in YouTube videos here or there, and he has really shown talent in that department.

It was meeting this person that I realized something: That the quirks that come with Asperger’s and autism aren’t terrible things, they have their upsides and downsides. People without learning disabilities are the same way, possessing traits that are both positive and negative in nature.

It is not just the two of us that had this though, every person with a learning disability I met had some special talent that sprung out from a quirk they had. Another example is from one friend who I’ve had since I’ve moved to this city. He has a passion for videos, and watches a ton of them. This what got him interested in video editing, wanting to both improve his craft and get paid employment out of it.

People like my friends have helped me realize that every roadblock in life comes with a detour, and that every negative has a positive. I never grew up with people who had disabilities like myself, so getting to both know and learn from these individuals allowed me to grow as a person.

By understanding my friends and their own struggles with learning disabilities and mental illnesses, I was able to better cope with the issues I had. After a while, I realized what my strengths and talents were. I realized I was skilled with writing, dancing, being imaginative, being a hard-worker, and being a good friend. I finally realized that having Asperger’s was more of a gift than a curse.

The thing about have Asperger’s is that it may make interactions with other people somewhat awkward. I think the best way to interact with someone with Asperger’s is to understand where they are coming from. Things like lack of eye-contact and awkward hand-gestures aren’t a sign of disrespect, they are more akin to a nervous reaction.

The thing is, most people are nervous when talking to someone they don’t know. People with learning disabilities are most likely to show this physically with awkward tendencies. It’s best to be respectful and patient with people who have learning disabilities, as they usually mean no offence with what they do.

That brings us back to the original question: What is it like having Asperger’s? To me, there is no distinct definition of how it feels to have it. My brain is wired a bit differently, I sometimes misunderstand what’s being asked of me, or don’t clue in to certain things right away. That doesn’t make me any less of a person, it just means that I deal with difficulties like any other person.

While having Asperger’s does apply a few more trials and tribulations to my life, they are never too overwhelming. I have to deal with a few obsessive compulsive behaviours, and the occasional bout of forgetfulness. Asperger’s used to affect me a lot, to the point where I was a lot more forgetful and had much less control over how I acted.

I feel that both my friends and I have come a long way since we were first diagnosed with Asperger’s. In many ways, I feel like I’ve overcome several issues associated with my disability. While I still have struggles here or there, I definitely feel like I have a handle on my learning disability now.

I want to continue to grow as a person, while learning more about myself in the process. The biggest thing I’ve come to learn is that having Asperger’s does not make me any less of a person. In fact, I’ve found that its really helped improve me as an individual. I can understand and respect the differences of other people a lot better now, as well as respect my own shortcomings and strengths.

I feel that my Asperger’s defines me, but in a positive light. I’m an individual who has grown and understands how the world works, and how to integrate into society better. I wouldn’t have been able to do that if it wasn’t for my friends, family, and everyone around me. It doesn’t make me any less of a person, nor does it make me superior. Like anything else, it’s just another part of who I am.

Casshern Sins: A Forgotten Anime Masterpiece

The world of anime is a fickle mistress. Tons of solid anime shows come out each year, but only a handful of them manage to obtain any sort of relevancy. This is true for many different forms of media, but it especially rings true for anime. I can’t tell you how many times I find a really good anime and find out later that nobody else watched it. Case and point: Casshern Sins.

Casshern Sins is a rather obscure and short-lived anime, but one that has definitely left an impact on me. The show revolved around a robot named Casshern, who wakes up in a post-apocalyptic version of earth. With no memories of who he was or what he did, Casshern finds himself amidst a planet-wide crisis. Most of the human race has died and robots rule the world. However, the robots are dying off as well. Succumbing to a fate known as the “Ruin”, the race of mechanized beings are slowly rusting to death.

Casshern quickly learns that not only was this Ruin caused by him killing a human girl named “Luna”, but also that he is the only one immune to it. With a rumor going around that devouring Casshern will make one immortal, the amnesiac machine must deal with the consequences of his previous actions.

Believe it or not, Casshern Sins is actually a reboot of a much campier and older anime called “Casshern”. That version of the story was an action-based superhero show, which was common for the era it was made in. Sins is completely different, in that it’s more of a melancholic look at how the past can affect one’s future.

Casshern is constantly being torn apart by the pain that comes with the crimes he committed in the past, crimes which he can’t even remember. The show also paints a lot of its narrative in mystery, often making you question whether what you’re seeing is real.

While Casshern’s past is steeped in regret and pain, elements of his past would routinely show up to contradict it. For example, Luna shows up alive and well at one point in the series, despite her apparent demise.  The show is full of similar mysterious elements, often creating this surreal atmosphere.

In essence, this show is a complex puzzle that the viewer has to piece together while watching along. As such, it’s not a show that can be watched and enjoyed by everyone. Casshern is not your typical anime protagonist either, he’s an immortal machine with a broken past. He tends to angst over a lot of his past, which can turn off the average viewer.

Regardless of how angst-y are protagonist is, I feel the show is structured perfectly for what it is. For one thing, the show is an “action” show without a lot of action. Each episode has some sort of fight scene, but it’s usually brief and is generally a character-building moment. No fight in the series is there just for the fun of it, with each one showing the futility of fighting and war.

While the show can sometimes be fairly blunt with its messaging, it does it in a way that’s genuine. Character development on this show is fairly strong, which definitely adds to the experience. There’ll be episodes where Casshern bumps into someone in the wasteland with an interesting backstory and adventures around with them for a bit, learning more about himself and his own emotions in the process.

The cast for this show is interesting and all of them have their own unique view-points of both Casshern and their world. For example, you have the character of “Lyuze”. She presents herself as hating Casshern at the start of series, due to the calamity he unleashed upon the world. Seeing that this isn’t the same Casshern that doomed the world, she eventually starts to see him as a friend and something of a love interest.

You also have the robot dog, “Friender”, who becomes Casshern’s travelling companion after his introductory episode. Friender acts as a silent ally for Casshern, often helping him out when he loses control. There’s also a much larger cast of characters that appear frequently as well, who often shake up the show’s rather episodic formula.

In essence, Casshern Sins is a strong show focused on character development and world-building. The show can be slow and preachy at times, but it makes up for it by being an overall entertaining experience. Looking back at it, this show just may be one of my favorite anime of all the time.

The fact that its mostly faded into obscurity at this point is rather disappointing. While people who watched it on Toonami or an online streaming service will remember it fondly, I’m sure many others have forgotten it has existed. It’s a shame, because I’ll always love this show no matter how much time passes.

Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst Review: Ya Gotta Believe It!

Naruto Image 1
This is the face that even my sleep paralysis demons are afraid of…

Naruto is a series that has been around for ages and will never truly disappear. This anime series revolves around the titular Naruto, a young Ninja with demon fox sealed inside his body. Using the powers of this fox, Naruto is granted abilities far beyond that of an average ninja. He uses these powers to fight against evil villains, pass his tests, and to a turn into a scantily clad woman for no reason.

Naruto is a series that just cannot die, since it’s already gotten 4 different anime and nearly a dozen motion pictures. There’s also the games, of which there are too many to count. By far, the most popular series of games in this franchise are the “Ultimate Ninja Storm” games. The Ultimate Ninja Storm games spun-off from the Ultimate Ninja Series and quickly overtook them in popularity.

The idea behind the Storm games is that they are fully 3D arena fighters that cover the ENTIRE Naruto story and give you an insane amount of characters to play with. Today, I’ve decided to talk about the third numbered game in the series, the aptly titled “Naruto: Ultimate Nina Storm 3”.

Naruto Image 2
That’s too many Naruto’s for one fox to handle!

I know I should probably cover the games in the order they were released, but I decided I’d go backwards this time around! So, let’s talk about this game! The plot of Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 is that our titular hero has just defeated a member of the Atasuki named “Pain”. After tangling with this terrible tyrant, Naruto is hailed as a hero in his hometown.

Unfortunately for the young ninja, a war is looming over the horizon. With the villainous Akatsuki planning to use the moon in an evil scheme to mind-control everyone, it’s up to Naruto and friends to put a stop to it! I’m oversimplifying the plot quite a bit, but that’s the general gist of it.

The game’s story mode is rather lengthy, which is surprising for a fighting game. It has 7 hours worth of cutscenes alone, which makes the already long campaign much longer. I’m not an avid Naruto watcher, but I hear that the story mode covers the story of Naruto quite well.

That’s a lot of content already, but it gets better! The game features over 80 playable characters, along with a ton of alternate costumes for a bunch of them. You can unlock every character by simply playing through the story mode. Several fighters have their own unique gimmicks or abilities, adding some variation to the characters you play as. For example, Kankuro is technically two characters in one: A puppet-master and his puppet. You control Kakuro and have to move your puppet in the direction of the enemy to attack him.

Naruto Image 3
“Don’t mind me, just destroying your village.”

While fighters like that can certainly mix up the roster, too many characters feel a bit too similar to one another. Doesn’t help that the game has a jillion different versions of both Naruto and Sasuke. Still, there’s enough unique characters on the roster that the game never really feels too stale.

The game plays like most other 3D arena fighters, but with a few things to mix it up. You have two opponents going at each other, but each combatant can summon two support partners to attack the enemy. You also have a wide range of items you can use in battle, which can sometimes turn the tide in a sticky situation. You have your standard healing items, but also secondary weapons and traps that can do some minor damage.

While the game has many arenas for one to do battle in, they don’t offer any unique stage hazards or gimmicks. They’re sadly just the typical arenas you’d find in this kind of game. Regardless of the lacking arenas, the combat and general gameplay loop is still quite a lot of fun.

Graphically, this game is impressive for something that came out 7 years ago. The cell-shaded visuals bring the animated world of Naruto to life, to the point where some cut-scenes in the game look better than the anime scenes they were based on! These scenes are spectacular, though the quick-time events that play during these segments would sometimes distract me from fully getting into it.

Last thing I want to touch on is the music and voice-acting. The soundtrack for this game is pretty solid and perfectly mimics that of the TV show. The entire voice-cast of the anime returns to play their characters here, which is pretty common for Naruto games. It’s become less common for anime games in general to have English voice-acting in this day and age, so it was definitely great to see it here.

This was definitely a solid fighting game experience, at least in my eyes. It’s just such a well put-together fighting game, something the Switch definitely needs more of. Oh yeah, did I mention I bought the Switch version of this game? I’d say it’s probably the best way to play this game, due to being able to take it on the run. Couple that with the fact that you can buy it in a trilogy pack (which includes the first 2 games as well) for a rather cheap price, and you have a recipe for an incredibly accessible gaming experience.

Sure, the game isn’t all that unique when compared to other anime fighting games. On top of this, the amount of quick-time events is pretty excessive. Regardless of those minor things, Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 3: Full Burst is truly an amazing experience. With a wide roster spanning over 80 fighters, a lengthy story mode, and fun combat, Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 is certainly a wild wind that’ll carry you through its amazing world.

The Unknowns: Professional Superhero Outcasts Chapter 3

Author’s Note: My apologies for the shorter length of this chapter. I wanted this to be a lead-in to a much larger chapter, which will be chapter 5. In fact, Chapter 4 will be rather large itself! My goal right now is to expand this series into something grand, something that’ll be my magnum opus in time.

My goal with this isn’t to create just another superheroes, I want to make something that tops modern superhero films and comics. With that being said, I hope you enjoy this mini-chapter! It’s gonna get crazy from here on out, so I hope you enjoy!

Chapter 3: The Monkey’s a Joke Part 2

Sean continued to chase after the dragon, who flew faster and faster. The monkey followed him into the forest, which happened to work in his favor. Being a simian, Sean was able to effortlessly scale the trees with his hands and hand-feet. He leaped from tree to tree in a desperate attempt to keep up with the dragon, but it was all in vain. The dragon was too fast for Sean, causing the simian to fall behind the giant scaly beast.

It didn’t help that Dyna-Charge’s forest was insanely large. The forest was easily half the size of the town and housed a ton of trees! It would take Sean a lot of time to track down the dragon, despite its larger size. The monkey continued to leap from tree to tree, desperately trying to find the dragon. As the simian jumped through the trees, he heard the sounds of people talking.

He made his way over to a tree that was just above the area where the voices were coming from. Hiding among the leaves, he popped his hairy monkey head out and peered downwards. What he saw were two men, dressed in strange uniforms. They wore battle armor that was colored red-and-white, which were the same colors as the Canadian flag.

Both men seemed to be rather stocky and they wore large helmets that kept their faces hidden from view. The two appeared to be impatiently waiting for something, which made Sean morbidly curious. Sean stealthily leaped to the tree closest to them in order to hear what they were saying. “This mission is lame.” Said the suited man on the left as he turned to the man on the right.

“Hey, the higher-ups needed to “test” out this dragon. After all, this is high quality “merchandise” we’re peddling! Regardless, keep your eyes peeled. We have to make sure no superheroes make it into the forest, since they would most likely interfere with the test.” Stated the henchmen on the right.

Sean wasn’t sure what this talk of “testing the merchandise” was about, but he didn’t like it! These guys appeared to be in league with the dragon, which deepened the mystery even more. Sean decided to keep an eye on these two henchmen and find out what they were planning.

However, fate had something different in store. As Sean watched the two henchmen, he heard the sound of what sounded like jet-boots. He looked up and saw a metallic man descending from the sky. The robot had a metal chassis that was colored white from head-to-toe, with blue stripes of paint acting as accents for the robot’s paint-job. The robot’s face has a yellow visor atop it that lit up as soon as the machine touched down.

The robot looked over the pair of soldiers and proceeded to cross his metallic arms. “You guy responsible for that dragon?” Asked the robot in a stern and authoritative voice. “None of your business!” Shouted the soldier on the left, while reaching towards a gun fastened to his belt. Before the man could grab it, the robot raised his left arm upwards. He stretched out his fingers and then let out a loud “BEEP” sound, before detaching his own hand! A thrust engine extended outwardly from the back of the robot’s detached metal hand. Using this thrust engine, the hand sailed through the air and towards its target.

The hand flew towards the thug like a rocket, before grabbing the gun from the man’s holster. With gun in hand, the rocket-fist flew back towards the robot’s arm and reattached itself, making it whole once more. The robot gripped the gun in both hands and applied pressure to it, right before quickly snapping it in half.

The machine threw the two broken pieces of the gun to the ground and turned to look back at the two henchmen. “So, ready to talk now?” Asked the machine as the two henchmen turned to look at each other. “Wow, you’re rather lackluster at intimidation if the best you can come up with is snapping my gun! Let me show you how it’s done.” Stated the man on the right, who proceeded to whistle.

Over the horizon came marching an entire army of armed soldiers, wearing the exact same outfits as the two grunts. The robot knocked the two henchmen out with a single punch each, right before turning his attention to the army approaching him. “This may take a while…” Said the robot as he watched the army of goons march towards him. Sean saw that the army outnumbered the robot and decided to finally take action.

Sean leaped from the tree and landed right beside the metal-man. “A monkey-man?” Asked the metallic creature. “Correction: I’m a talking monkey-man! Now, ready to bust some heads?” Asked Sean as he turned to face the robot. “I don’t even know you, yet you’re willing to fight off an entire army of mooks with me?”  Sean responded to the robot’s query with a quick head-nod.

“Of course! You see…” The monkey then reached into his fur and took out what appeared to be a small red toothpick. He spun the toothpick around using his fingers, which caused it to expand and elongate. Within seconds, the red toothpick had turned into a red-colored staff! Gripping the staff with both hands, the monkey took on a combat stance.

“…If there’s something I hate, it’s uneven odds! So, I decided to balance it out!” Exclaimed the simian as he stood beside the metal-man. “Well, I can’t say I’m opposed to some assistance. I’d ask who you are, but we’ll save introductions for after we mop up these losers!” Shouted the robot as he raised both his arms at once.

“Right you are, my metallic compatriot! Now…” The monkey began to say as the pair charged towards the army of goons. “…IT’S TIME FOR SOME FUN!” Shouted Sean as he prepared to take a swing at soldiers with his staff. The battle between the two strange heroes and the army of even stranger henchmen began, while an even greater battle was about to take place.

Snack World Review: A Tasty and Rather Fun Game!

Crystal Sword
HE HAS THE POWEEEEEEEEEEER!

Japanese games are some of my favorites! Don’t get me wrong, I’ll love the occasional game made in America or Canada. However, a lot of major game companies have become hard to trust as of late. Due to shady business practices, unfinished games, and the inability to treat the customer well, I’ve become disenfranchised with major game publishers and developers. However, Japanese game studios tend to be a lot better on this front.

The games Japan puts out aren’t always winners, but at least there’s more effort put into them. Case and point: Level-5. These are the guys behind awesome games like Yokai Watch, Ni No Kuni, Professor Layton, Fantasy Life, and many others. If you play a lot of Japanese games, then you’ve probably bumped into this developer at least once or twice.

One of their most recent games has finally made its way west after being in “localization hell” for 2 years! This game finally came to North America and slipped under most people’s radars. This obscure gem was released on Valentine’s Day and it’s probably one of my favorite Switch games so far! Without further adieu, let’s talk about “Snack World”!

The game takes place in the titular Snack World, which mixes sci-fi with classic fantasy. In this world, half of the economy seems to be based around selling trading cards of Princess Melonia, a stuck-up and selfish daddy’s girl who has half the kingdom swooning over her. You play as a custom character and wake up in “Tutti Frutti”, a nearby city that just happens to house Melonia and a gaggle of other silly characters.

3 Genies
You ain’t never had friends like these!

Working alongside a silver-haired wannabe hero named Chup, you set out on quests to fulfill Melonia’s seemingly pointless requests. While this happens, a maniacal villain looms in the background and you eventually have to rise up and defeat him. It’s typical fantasy stuff, nothing too revolutionary or extreme.

However, there’s one thing that makes the story and its characters excel beyond the kind you’d find in a typical kids game: The writing. This game is stuffed with adult jokes and fourth-wall breaks, which is probably its strongest feature. The writing even carries over into the side-quests, which are some of the most ridiculous quests I’ve ever taken part in.

There’s a quest that involves a romance subplot between two ant monsters, another quest where you beat people up and then hold a concert for a mermaid pop idol, and even one where you discover a forest ranger’s “forbidden passion”. The game is just so over the top in how it delivers its content and I love every second of it!

Honestly, I could just ramble about the writing all day, but I do have to discuss the combat and gameplay. The game is your typical dungeon-crawler, but with a few twists. For one thing, you keep all the items you’ve gathered if you die on a quest. I can’t tell you how much of a god-send this is, because it means that I’ll never lose a really good item if I mess up!

Speaking of items, the game is SWIMMING in loot! There’s tons of weapons to collect, armor/clothing to craft, and accessories to equip.  The game doesn’t hand out a lot of these at the start, so you’ll need to grind to get most of them. The game’s constant grinding is both its strongest and weakest element at the same time.

It’s strong because it’s fun to grind, especially due to the randomized dungeons giving a lot of replay value. It’s weak because the game’s RNG seems to be all over the place most of the time and the randomized dungeons tend to get old after a while. Thankfully, the game does things to circumvent the grind a bit. For example, some weapons can boost rare item drop rate. You can also boost your Luck skill to help with drop rates.

The game’s combat is pretty basic, but fun. You have access to a number of weapons called “Jaras”, which you can switch to on the fly. The game lets you auto-equip these Jaras before a mission and lets you switch to them in combat with a single button-press. I can’t tell you how many times this has saved me in a pickle!

From there, you just bop enemies with a weapon they’re weak against until they fall down. The game has an insane variety of enemies and bosses to do battle with, making the combat always feel rewarding. On top of this, various NPCs and monsters can join your side as “Snacks”.

You can bring up to 3 of these Snacks into a battle and they’ll help you in combat. While this is a great feature, it can be somewhat broken at times. Some Snacks are just way too overpowered to the point of breaking the game. For example, you can basically become unbeatable in most scenarios if you have 3 “Spritely Old Men” on your team.

Graphically, the game looks pretty good. It is pretty easy to tell that this game was ported over from the 3DS, but the visual fidelity was increased to fit better with the Switch. While I have never played the original version, I can definitely say that the developers did a good job at giving this game a new coat of paint.

If I had any major problem with this game, it’d be the voice-acting. The voice-acting isn’t the worst, but each character and monster only has a few recorded audio lines each. They’ll repeat these few voice lines several times, to the point where you’ll want to rip off your own ears after a few chapters.

While the repeated voice lines are annoying, they aren’t a deal-breaker. What may be a deal-breaker for a lot of people is the price. This game is 65 dollars Canadian, which I feel is a bit excessive. While the game definitely has enough content to warrant its high price, it just lacks the polish of most 60 dollar games.

Regardless, it is a game I can wholeheartedly recommend. The gameplay is fun, combat has a nice rhythm to it, and the online multiplayer is pretty damn good. If you’re on the fence about this game, then it’s best to wait for a sale. I’d say that this game is a pretty solid dungeon crawler with good writing and fun characters, but it sadly doesn’t offer much beyond that. There’s no gameplay mix-ups here, just good old-fashioned slashing and looting. However, that’s all I was looking for when it came to this game, so it definitely filled that void!

Limozeen: The Best Fake Band of All Time

I’ve made it no secret that the Homestarrunner cartoons are some of my favorite web-shows of all time! This is a online cartoon series that has been running for nearly 2 decades and put out a lot of quality content. This series revolves around the dimwitted Homestarrunner, the supposedly “cool” Strong Bad, and a host of other crazy characters. By far, one of the most interesting group of characters the site has ever produced was the band “Limozeen”.

Originally thrown out as a possible good band name in the Strong Bad Email called “Band Names”, Limozeen quickly became a recurring set of characters withing the Homestarrunner universe. The group is portrayed as an “80s hair metal band” filled with a ton of over-the-top members. The lead singer is a man who is constantly screaming at all times, named Larry.

The band also has other members, but Larry always seems to be the most prominent when they show up. What I loved about Limozeen (aside from their music) was the fact that they often came across as losers. For example, they had an extremely unsuccessful 80s cartoon that got cancelled halfway through the pilot. On top of this, Larry is so desperate to hang around with other people that he’ll even personally ask his own fans to join his guild in a MMORPG.

Limozeen was always the most interesting part of the site, at least in my eyes. Unlike most of the characters on the site, Limozeen were portrayed by live-action actors. The Chap Brothers, the creators of the site, and 2 of their friends got together to play this fake band. They went all-out on trying to look like a hair metal band and even wore those silly blonde wigs musicians from that era were known for!

By far, the best thing about Limozeen is their music. They are mostly known for “Nite Mamas” and “Because It’s Midnite”, two of the most rocking tunes the internet could conjure up! They sound like your stereotypical heavy metal songs from the 80s, complete with nonsensical lyrics and plenty of guitar solos!

I think the main reason I like these characters so much is that they add a lot to the fictional world that Homestar and friends live in. Having “real” bands within this universe helps flesh it out more. It also gives the Chap Brothers the excuse to add in some live-action sequences to their cartoons.

To me, Limozeen is more than just a fake band made for a popular web-cartoon. The songs created for this band are legit bangers and the band-members have so much personality that it’s hard to forget their names. They will always be the best fake band to me, because they’re just that good.

Ralph Bakshi’s Lord of The Rings is a forgotten MASTERPIECE!

Lord of The Rings

Middle-Earth is one of the most celebrated fantasy settings in all of fiction. It’s home to both “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of The Rings” books, but also encompasses a much grander universe present in its various spinoffs. Middle-Earth is also the setting of the various movies adapted from the Lord of The Rings books. While a lot people may clamor to the famous LOTR films made by Peter Jackson, my favorite Lord of The Rings movie is MUCH older than that.

Let’s talk about “Lord of The Rings (1978)”, an old and rather forgotten film by Ralph Bakshi. For those of you who don’t know, Ralph Bakshi was a pretty famous director of animated movies in the 70s and 80s. Ralph Bakshi put out classic animated films like Fritz The Cat, Heavy Traffic, and Wizards. He was known for making animation for adults, which was a rare thing at the time.

It was only natural to have this man direct a Lord of The Rings film adaptation, which is a book series aimed at an older audience. This movie is amazing for a multitude of reasons. For one thing, it adapts the entire first book and the first half of the second book. It’s able to handle adapting these books extremely well, even if some really good parts were cut for time.

It’s certainly a faithful adaptation and a rather lengthy one at that. This film is over 2 hours long, which is pretty damn long for an animated film in the 70s. Speaking of animation, that’s probably one of the best things about this film. The animation is stellar and it even mixes in traditional animation with rotoscoping techniques! Rotoscoping is when you take live-action footage and draw over it.

Using this technique, Bakshi and his team were able to produce stellar animation that allowed for more flexibility than what traditional animation allowed at the time. Hell, they were even able to depict giant armies fighting each other using this technique! At the time, such a battle would’ve been way too expensive to produce with standard film animation.

I also liked the film’s story, despite the condensing of its plot. Despite the removal of fan favorite characters like “Tom Bombadil”, the film follows its source material quite closely. It revolves around Frodo and Gandalf’s quest to cast the “One Ring of Power” into the fires of Mount Doom and destroy it.

I’ve oversimplified the plot, but that’s the main gist of it. Along the way, Frodo and Gandalf are joined by various colorful characters and form a “Fellowship”. The Fellowship are then tasked with making their way through this world filled with evil and completing their quest to destroy the One Ring.

Couple this with an amazing soundtrack, fantastic voice-acting, and a ton of dark atmosphere and you have one of the most intense fantasy films to come from this era. I will admit that the film does have problems. For one thing, the film doesn’t always mix in the rotoscoped animation with the traditional animation very well.

A good example of this is the rather trippy sequence in the tavern, where Frodo is drawn and animated normally and the rest of the crowd are clearly real people that have been drawn over. Still, some of this animation mixing works in the film’s favor. For example, the horrifying ring-wraiths are rotoscoped and it gives them a rather unnatural feeling in scenes that involve traditional 2D animation. It definitely fits these hideous monsters well!

Now you can see why this film is one of my favorites. It’s an epic fantasy film with good characters and stellar animation! It’s a shame that most people have forgotten this movie nowadays. It’s a film that definitely deserves a second look from any hardcore Lord of The Rings fan! In my opinion, it’s the “One Film To Rule Them All”!

No, I am not apologizing for that joke.

The Unknowns: Professional Superhero Outcasts Chapter 2

Author’s Note: Originally, I wanted this series to focus exclusively on Sean as it’s sole protagonist. Sean Waking was based on the legend of “Sun Wukong”, also known as The Monkey King. I thought it’d be cool to base a character off an old Chinese novel that I really dug.

While developing the story, I thought of other characters that would fit the team and thought I’d introduce them in side-stories before bringing them into the main cast. That way, each hero gets to be a protagonist of their own series before joining together. Reggie Thompson is one such character.

Reggie was inspired by the lead singer of Matchbox Twenty, Rob Thomas. The inspiration hit me in the lyrics of his Real World song, which went “I wonder what it’s like to be a superhero.” I liked the idea of some regular dude becoming a superhero, so I came up with this troubled outcast hero who manages to be both a hero and a menace at the same time.

Chapter 2: The God’s A Monster Part 1

At the same this was happening, a very different story was unfolding elsewhere. Several miles away from Dyna-Charge city laid the small town of “Ultra-Drive”. The town of Ultra-Drive was home to only a few superheroes and a near endless amount of supervillains. The reason for there being so few superheroes in town is that being a superhero in this neck-of-the-woods place wasn’t as profitable as it was in Dyna-Charge. The STRB had no standing in the town and there were no superhero-based organizations present in the city at all.

As such, more people turned towards villainy as that proved to be far more beneficial to one’s self. As such, the city was flooded with wannabe villains who wanted to drain the town’s plentiful economy and use the finances to move out of it. Despite repeated supervillain attacks, the town was surprisingly prosperous and had seemingly limitless funding. No one knew how the town kept getting as much funding as it did, making it a grand mystery in this quiet town.

Still, one may wonder why only a small group of heroes is able to hold back the overwhelming forces of evil in such a small town. The real reason for this is due to one man, Reggie Thompson. Reggie was a seemingly normal guy at first glance. He wore a blue shirt and pair of blue jeans, which was his outfit of choice. His hair was blonde and somewhat messy, due to him never bothering to style it.

He also wore a pair of black runners that had seen much better days. While Reggie did seem normal on the outset, he was far from being your typical guy. Reggie had superhuman abilities that were at godlike levels. He had super strength that could allow him to lift mountains, super-speed that allowed him to outrun bullet trains, and a level of invulnerability that bordered on the absurd.

It was due to these godlike abilities that Reggie was an outcast. Due to an incident 20 years that ended with Reggie losing control of his powers and leveling part of the town, everybody quickly lost trust in him. He became an outcast, despite eventually gaining control of his immense powers.

Nobody would talk to him or look him in the eye. Instead, people would just run away whenever they spotted him! He was an outcast, but he didn’t mind too much. In fact, he found that his status as a “harbinger of destruction” meant that he could go anywhere and do whatever he wanted! Nobody had the guts to tell him he couldn’t do something and he certainly had the power to back that sentiment up.

Today was just another one of those days where he was allowed to do whatever he wanted! It was a sunny day outside while Reggie was strutting around town. People saw the 6 foot tall bringer of destruction walking around and quickly moved out of his way, fearing that he would obliterate them if they they looked at him wrong.

He made his way over to a nearby bowling alley and opened the glass door to the building. He strutted inside the building and everyone inside it immediately took notice of him. People stopped dead in their tracks and looked right at him as a dead silence gripped the building.

“Sup, everybody?” Reggie asked in a very nonchalant tone. The people around him ignored his greeting and panicked at the very sight of him. They ran around screaming and freaking out. They quickly ran past Reggie and piled out of the building, fearing for their lives as they did so.

Reggie simply shrugged his shoulders and walked over to the corner of the bowling alley. After everyone had vacated from the premises, Reggie decided to enjoy himself. He made his way over to a vending machine near the farthest bowling lane and pulled a small coin from his pocket. Sliding the coin into the vending machine’s slot, Reggie quickly punched in the number for his desired item.

A can of soda rolled down from the machine and into the chute at the bottom. Reggie reached in and pulled the can from the machine, like an explorer grabbing a rare diamond. Plucking the soda from its resting place, he gripped it firmly in his hand and walked over to a table.

Reggie sat down and was about to open his can of soda, only to be interrupted by the sounds of screaming from outside. “Can’t a man drink his soda in peace?!” Shouted Reggie as he abruptly stood up. Reggie ran towards the door and pushed it open, right before walking outside.

He immediately spotted the thing that was causing people to freak out: A giant monster made out of blue goo! This giant slime ball had a visible mouth and piercing yellow eyes. “Fear me, town of Ultra-Drive! I am Mr. Gelatinous, the greatest villain of all time!” Shouted the slime-ball in a strange and echo-y tone of voice.

Reggie looked up at the slime monster and proceeded to glare at him. “Get out of my town, I’m trying to drink soda!” Shouted Reggie while staring up at the slimy monstrosity. “Look at the balls on this one! You dare challenge the mighty Mr. Gelatinous, little one?” Asked the blob of slime as he moved closer to Reggie.

“Nah, it’s not a challenge. Pretty sure something needs to be difficult to be a challenge.” Said Reggie in a smug tone-of-voice. “Ah, to be so young and foolish! Very well, you shall be the first to die!” Shouted the blob as he advanced on Reggie. Reggie balled his hand into fist and held out his arm. He then pulled it back and smacked it directly into the giant blob with a hearty punch.

The blob’s body began to vibrate, before exploding violently! Bits of slime rained down from above as the blob’s body split apart. “What the hell?!” Shouted the many pieces of Mr. Gelatinous in tandem with each other. “No one interrupts my quality time and gets away with it. Leave now and I won’t break you into smaller chunks!” Exclaimed Reggie as he narrowed his eyes at the blobs.

“Very well, I shall leave! Just be warned, you haven’t heard the last of Mr. Gelatinous!” The individual blobs then slithered away into nearby sewer grates and effortlessly entered them using their liquid bodies. The blobs soon disappeared from sight, leaving Reggie alone. Reggie looked around and found that nobody had seen him fend off the giant blob. Everybody had vacated the streets and nobody had bore witness to Reggie’s heroic feat, just like always.

He let out a deep sigh and hung his head in disappointment, right before re-entering the bowling alley. It was always the same with him: He’d do a heroic act, but either nobody around would see it or nobody would care. He was an outcast to everyone else, someone who was treated as a monster for something he did by accident 20 years ago. Reggie gave his head a good shake and decided to shove those bad thoughts to the back of his subconscious. He decided to focus on the good and re-entered the bowling alley.

As Reggie walked through the empty bowling alley and towards his table, he noticed something odd. His soda was still there, but it appeared to be encased in some kind of translucent green pyramid. Said pyramid appeared to be made out of some kind of strange pulsating energy. “What the heck is this?! How am I supposed to drink my soda in piece now?” Asked Reggie as he stared at his encased soda.

“Don’t you know that stuff will rot your teeth, dear boy?” Asked a strange and ethereal voice from behind. Reggie turned around and found what appeared to be a bunch of floating green triangles made out the of same raw energy that covered his soda! The triangles flew about and then drifted towards each other. The triangles then began to interlock with each other, forming a vaguely humanoid shape in the process. They formed into a strange triangle-man, like something out of a weird sci-fi movie from the 80s.

Reggie stared at the bizarre triangle-man in awe, while being utterly confused at what the being was. “Hello, good sir! I’ve come here to talk to you about something. Tell me… Is it true you killed your own parents 20 years ago?” Asked the triangle-man in his bizarre and alien-sounding voice.

Reggie narrowed his eyes at the triangle-man as repressed memories came flooding back. Memories of an event that forever changed who he was a person and forever cemented his status an outcast. It was recalling these memories that caused Reggie to freeze in place, unable to say or do anything. All he could do was stand there as flood of both rage and sadness began to overtake him…