Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission Review

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Crotch lasers?! What crazy concept will Dragon Ball come up with next?!

Yep, I’m talking about Dragon Ball for the 100th time on this blog! For some reason, I always find myself being drawn back into the crazy misadventures of a super-powered farmer, and his unquenchable desire to beat people up. Of course, Dragon Ball games featuring Goku and his many pals isn’t anything new. There are 100s of Dragon Ball games already out there with 3-5 of them being released on a yearly basis.

One DB game that’s been big in Japan for almost a decade now is “Dragon Ball Heroes”, which is an arcade card game that has you collecting thousands of cards to battle others with. Dragon Ball fans outside of Japan have wanted this game for the longest time, due to it having the largest amount of characters in any Dragon Ball game ever!

After years of begging Japan to release the game stateside, they finally caved in and did so. After releasing several trailers directly to their YouTube page, they released the game itself on April 5. I actually got the game on release day and I decided that it’s a good time to talk about this awesome semi-obscure game.

Gang's All Hero
Only in Dragon Ball Heroes can you see the likes of Super Saiyan 4 Goku and his Ultra Instinct counterpart hanging out.

After all, I’m just as obscure than this game, so that makes me more than qualified to talk about it! So, let’s get down to discussing “Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission”. World Mission plays identically to the arcade game from which it is based on. You start the game off with a set of beginner cards and gradually obtain new ones as the game progresses.

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Never thought a mouse-god could look so cool!

There are over 1100 cards in the game, which is an immensely staggering amount. The game will shower you in “Gacha Tickets” as you play it, which will allow you to buy the game’s many cards. Thankfully, you don’t have to pay a single cent for any card in the game! That’s right, this game has 0 micro-transactions in it!

The fact that you can obtain any card without having to shell out any cash at all is rather impressive. This is especially crazy when you consider the fact that all of these cards would’ve cost the Japanese equivalent of 17,800 dollars. What’s better than the lack of micro-transactions is the game’s massive amount of fan-service.

Holy Crap
That awkward moment when you realize this attack did barely any damage.

Almost every Dragon Ball character is playable in this game, which is absolutely crazy. There are characters from the movies, Super, GT, and even other Dragon Ball video-games! The only downside is that several characters don’t have cards attached to them, but the game thankfully has us covered there.

One of the best parts of this game is the ability to create your own cards! This game couldn’t just settle on having 1100, and decided top give the plays the ability to create their own! The card creation system is extensive, yet very simple. It’s easy to create cards that not only look legit, but are actually really overpowered! On top of this, you can also make cards out of characters who don’t have cards attached to them. This gives you free reign to use normally inaccessible characters. You can also create missions for other players to take part in, which is an incredibly fun thing to do.

Custom Missions
It’s sad that the highest rank custom missions are just lame farming quests…

Let’s move onto the game’s combat, which is both simple and complex at the same time. Both you and your opponent have up to 7 cards in a deck at a time, most of which have their own abilities and skills. Creating a team with perfect synergy is the key to winning a lot of the later missions.

Battles arenas feature two areas: One for support and one for attack. Any card you put in the attack area will act as your “Attackers” for the round, while the support area is used to help recover your cards’ stamina. Your characters will get stunned if they lose all their stamina, so be sure to make good use of the support area!

There’s a lot more to the combat than that, due to the sheer amount of different deck combinations you can make. Experimentation is the name of the game, and it’s the only way you’ll make it through the main-quest and the various other modes. Oh yeah, did I mention this game is packed to the brim with content?

You have a main quest that will take you 40-60 hours, an arcade mode with over a dozen varied and unique campaigns, offline and online tournaments that the player can participate in, special “Side Stories” focusing on the various party members your recruit, the aforementioned ability to create custom missions and cards, and online PVP with players across the world. There is so much here that it’s almost overwhelming! You are definitely getting your money’s worth for a game that costs 60-80 dollars.

Yamcha-Mania
Yamcha-mania will forever be a thing.

Of course, it’s not a perfect game by any means. The graphics and engine are ported over from the arcade game, and end up being extremely dated as a result. However, the game’s bad graphics allow for the game to have as many characters as it does. Higher graphics would mean far less characters, which I think would kill some of its charm.

Speaking of the game’s charm, it’s impossible for me to talk about Heroes without mentioning the killer soundtrack. World Mission utilizes several of the theme songs used for the game’s many trailers over the past decade. On top of this, the game boasts some rather catchy original tunes as well.

Lastly, I wanna talk about the game’s story, which is unfortunately a mixed bag. The game is set in a universe where Dragon Ball is one of the most popular things ever, and everyone knows the entire story forwards and back. You play as a young boy who is just getting into the game for the first time. The nameless protagonist meets a mysterious swordsman named “Great Saiyaman 3” on one fateful day, and is hurled into an adventure that involves all of your favorite Dragon Ball characters.

 

While the plot certainly presents a lot of fun and entertaining “What If” scenario, you probably won’t get much out of them unless you’re a Dragon Ball fan. World Mission does a poor job at explaining all of these pre-existing characters, and the arcs that they originated from. Still, the amount of variety in the main quest’s silly scenarios makes up for its lack of proper explanation. The plot itself isn’t too original or unique, but it gets the job done.

With that being said, the game is certainly worth its seemingly high price tag. If you can get past the dated graphics and somewhat lacking tutorial, then you have a game with hours upon hours of great content to partake in. This game has a fantastic variety of characters to collect and things to do, an amazing card creation system, and a battle system that seems both fresh and familiar. I normally hate card games with a passion, but I couldn’t stop myself from falling in love with Heroes. It was great to finally play this game, especially after waiting nearly a decade for it to be brought over here. All in all, I’d say it was certainly worth the wait!

New Clothes
Some snazzy outfits!

 into a quest to

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Xenoblade 2: Torna ~ The Golden Country Review

Prequels are something that are hit-or-miss for a lot of people, since they often feel superfluous in the grand scheme of things. After all, most people come out of a film or show knowing most of the backstory already. Having the backstory expanded into its own larger thing can be aggravating for casual audiences. Look at Star Wars, which is a series that is 50% prequels.

Episodes I-III, Rogue One, and Solo: A Star Wars Story are all prequels to the main ongoing series. You don’t need to watch any of them to understand the story, but a lot of them are written with the intention of filling in gaps that the main series doesn’t. As a result, the films act as small bonuses to those who are keen on the franchise’s lore.

It’s not just films that do this, as video-games also like to explore what happened in the past as well. There’s no bigger example of this than the standalone expansion pack for Xenoblade Chronicles 2, which goes by the name “Torna ~ The Golden Country”. Set in the universe of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, this expansion takes place a whopping 500 years before the main game.

Torna takes place on two “Titans”, which are giant monsters that act as continents for the world’s many denizens that live atop them. The game takes place on two of these continents, which are “Gormott” and the titular “Torna”. You play as a young woman named Lora, who travels with a guy called “Jin”. Jin is a “Blade”, which is a being created by a magic stone that follows her around and acts as Lora’s bodyguard. Lora is Jin’s “Driver”, which is a human being that a Blade swears loyalty to.

Along their journey, the pair meet up with several other Drivers and Blades. Together, they join forces in an effort to save Torna from an evil man known as “Malos”. That’s a brief summary of the plot, and it’s all I’ll say on the story. Spoiling any more of the plot would risk spoiling both the expansion and the base game, which is something I wish to avoid.

Regardless, Torna tells a complete and very interesting story. Torna’s gameplay itself is its real draw, however. The game features a very similar combat system to the base game, while adding in several changes. You character still auto-attacks the enemy, and you still have to wait for your moves to recharge before you use them. The biggest change to this is that you switch between the Drivers and the Blades they control in mid-combat, which have their own unique movesets.

Every time you switch out your Blade and Driver, they will inflict a status effect on the enemy. On top of this, switching out your party members allows the others time to heal. This adds a lot of strategy into choosing when and when not to switch out your teammates.

However, it’s not a perfect system. Since there’s only a single healer in your entire party, your options for reliable healing are very limited. Even switching out your teammates isn’t the most helpful during the really tough boss fights. There’s also the fact that the ally CPU is really dumb. I can’t tell you how many times Lora used an ability WHICH SPLIT HER HEALTH BAR IN HALF, resulting in her dying in 90% of the fights we were in.

It got so bad that I had stopped using the other characters and relied solely on controlling Lora and her Blades, even though I didn’t want to. Keep in mind that the game had two other sets of Blades and Drivers to control, both of which I’d rather use. Due to Lora’s tendency to use her suicidal ability however, I had to take control of her directly to stop any possible dumb actions.

Regardless, I still found the combat a lot of fun. It was simplistic at first, but the ability to stack status effects really added to it. I also dug how fast combat tended to go, and overall I found it fairly balanced. Let’s move onto my favorite part of the game, which is its open-world. While Torna’s open-world is much smaller than that of Xenoblade 2’s, it’s still packed with an insane amount of things to do and see.

There are tons of side-quests to do, secret bosses to fight, and secret areas to discover. While all of this stuff is fun to do, the game sadly makes a fair bit of it mandatory. In order to beat the game, you need to complete at least 50 different side-quests. This means that a lot of the side-stuff you would’ve done voluntarily is now forced down your throat.

As a result, it pretty much destroys the “optional” nature of these side-quests. Regardless of them being mandatory or not, I did find a fair bit of the side-quests to be fun. Now, let’s get down to the game’s visuals and sound, which is one of its stronger aspects. The game looks gorgeous, sporting fantastic character designs and detailed graphics. The characters look great most of the time, but had a strange glow around their bodies in most cutscenes.

I found this odd, and didn’t really understand the purpose of it. I wasn’t sure if it was a stylistic choice, or some kind of design bug. I found the sound design for the game to be truly fantastic, which featured a strong soundtrack and some good sound-effects. Unfortunately, the voice-acting just isn’t as good. A lot of the VAs tend to stumble over their lines, or just sound bored when reading them.

There are some standout performances here or there, but most of them definitely missed the mark. Another thing to note about this game is that it’s an expansion to Xenoblade 2, but you don’t need the original game to play it. You can easily play this as its own thing, and get the base game at a later date. Torna definitely does enough to stand on its own, while also being its own thing.

Torna is definitely a great game and expansion, while also being the game that brought me back into JRPGs. I stopped playing them for so long, but Torna got me really interested in them again. Torna certainly has its flaws, but they don’t detract too much from the final product. The game’s dark story, fantastic combat, and vast open-world make it a joy to play. This is definitely a prequel that’s worth your hard earned cash!

Morrowind In 2019: A Great Gaming Experience That Will Never Die

If there’s anything that Super Mario Bros. taught me, it would be this: Truly classic video-games never die. A game can be old, but still fun to play in the modern age. There are few games that encapsulate this more than Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, which is often heralded as the “Greatest RPG Ever”. Reading through this right now, I’m sure you have many questions.

Why is Morrowind still considered good to this very day? Why do people gush about it so much? Well, let’s backtrack back to 2002 and find out! Back in 2002, gaming was on its way to evolving into something completely new. We had Metroid Prime, Warcraft III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Age of Mythology, Hitman 2, and many others.

The market was flooded with many great games, and the gaming medium was on its way to becoming something far less niche. While 2002 wasn’t as good of a year for gaming as 2007 was, it definitely was one that would impact video-game market greatly. During this time, the world was introduced to “Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind”.

At the time, no one knew what Elder Scrolls was. The first two games were incredibly obscure, and the fan-base for them was very small. However, this third entry is what changed all that. Morrowind introduced the world to the concept of a “Fully 3D Open-World RPG”. It wasn’t an isometric RPG, a dungeon-crawler, or an isometric game. Instead, it was a game that involved free-choice and building the kind of RPG experience you wanted!

You could be a spell-slinging Argonian Wizard, a Khajiit Thief, or a Nord Barbarian. You weren’t restricted by the character class you chose, and nothing stopped you from completely changing your build halfway through the game’s story. Now, Morrowind didn’t invent this genre of RPG.

Ultima Underworld helped craft that open-world RPG experience, while Elder Scrolls simply took it and refined it. The first two Elder Scrolls games were heralded at the time as being immensely solid and entertaining RPGs, but hard for the average player to get into. Morrowind was made more simplistic than its predecessors, but still kept a lot of the older games’ more complex systems.

For example, most of the “Skills” from Daggerfall made their triumphant return in this game. Skills like “Unarmored” and “Hand-To-Hand” were slowly phased out as the franchise progressed, but they were on full display here! I found myself focusing a lot on Unarmored, due to the fact that my character couldn’t wear boots by default. It’s the curse of being an Argonian reptile; armored boots just don’t fit lizard feet.

Morrowind’s skills aren’t its only draw, just one of the big ones. The game’s biggest asset is the alien world it presents, which feels far different than any other fantasy game on the market at the time. You start the game by getting off of a prison shop, right before being thrust into a strange and bizarre world. You are dropped off in a swampy town, while a giant monstrous insect looms over you. The insect isn’t some kind of giant monster, but rather just a vehicle for people to get around on.

This sets the stage for Morrowind’s aesthetic, which involves embracing the weirdness of its setting to the best of its ability. You’ll come across tons of bizarre monsters, interesting adventures, and odd scenarios. One of my favorite moments in the game is when you leave the starting village, only to be caught off guard by a mage falling out of the sky. He lands on the ground, allowing the player to loot his corpse of magical flying scrolls. Using these “Scrolls of Icarian Flight”, the player can take to the air and soar into the sky. However, you’ll be in for a rough landing as well if you attempt this, unless you use a special spell to break your fall.

The game is full of awesome magical spells like this, which actually make for some fantastic gameplay. You can levitate high up in the sky, walk on water, or even magically unlock treasure chests. The game also lets you create your own custom spells, which increases the amount of crazy magical things you can do in this game! The only limitation is the fact that spells fail most of the time, at least until you’ve leveled up the skills associated with them enough.

Morrowind is a game that lets you create your own experience, but it definitely takes a while before you fully get to that point. Morrowind’s biggest problem is its lack of accessibility, at least for beginners. Morrowind was a game designed with a more “hardcore” RPG audience in mind, and caters more to those ideals.

You’ll find no quest markers, dedicated “Fast Travel” system, or fair combat system here. This is a game where 90% of your attacks are guaranteed to miss, while your ass gets kicked by enemies far weaker than you. Morrowind throws you into an unforgiving world with minimal guidance, and expects you to fight your way through it on your own.

I’m not going to lie, I had to resort to using a strategy guide multiple times for this game. The directions it gives are often obtuse, and are even wrong in some cases. On top of this, the game doesn’t run well on modern PCs. Be prepared for lag, bugs, and slow loading screens. Thankfully, the OpenMW mod fixes a ton of these problems.

That’s another good thing about Morrowind: Its modding capabilities. Morrowind was made by Bethesda after all, which means people will automatically mod the heck out of it. You have mods that add new landscapes, monsters, cities, dungeons, etc. All of these mods make this already extremely long game even longer, while giving the player mountains upon mountains of new content.

You can even use mods to fix a lot of Morrowind’s dated issues, such as making the clunky combat much better. Regardless of whether you consider Morrowind bad or good, you can’t deny how popular the game still is to this day. Despite how poorly most of the game has aged, people STILL play it. It has a sizable player-base, one that still thrives to this day.

Heck, Bethesda just gave the game out for free earlier this week! On top of this, Bethesda went out of their way to set some expansions for their most recent games in Morrowind itself. It’s clear that the interest in this game is still there for its many fans, myself included. While I can admit that Morrowind has aged poorly and that a lot of its mechanics are horribly dated; I still find it to be a fair bit of fun. I don’t ask for perfection from my game, just a fun experience. To that end, this makes Morrowind a grand success in my book.

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You know people love your extremely old game, when they make massive multiplayer mods for it!

Gotcha Force: The Best GameCube Game That Nobody Ever Played

I’ve often been described as a “hipster”, due to how I gravitate towards obscure properties. I love a popular game/show/movie as much as the next nerd, but give me a fantastic hidden gem any day. Being a guy who plays a lot of games, I’ve come across a ton of forgotten video-games in my day.  One such game I’ve talked about before is “Gotcha Force”, which happens to be one of my favorite games of all time.

Gotcha Force was one of those games that defied simple explanation. It was a third-person action game, one that combined elements of “Pokemon” with the arena-based combat of “Virtua-On”. Battles take place in a large arena, where you control a toy-sized alien warrior called a “Gotcha Borg”. You create a team of Borgs that you can use in battle, while collecting many new ones along the way.

As the game went on, you’d be given a ton of Borgs and points that you can spend on making a larger team. On top of this, you’d have to fight against the soldiers of the “Death Force”, which served as the main villainous threat of the game. You’d eventually end up doing battle against an evil chick with seaweed-like hair, a fat kid who has an unhealthy obsession with giant space fortresses, and a weird kid who likes scuba-divers. Yes, this is a pretty dang crazy game.

The characters in this game were certainly fun, even if the voice-acting was absolute garbage. Most of the kids sounded like they were voiced by real-life children, which resulted in most of them sounding pretty awful. If you can get past the awful voice-acting, then there’s a truly entertaining game for you to play.

The game has over 200 different Gotcha Borgs to collect, most of which have their own unique abilities and attacks. This gives you a near infinite number of options to build your team with, to the point where it becomes ridiculous. Want a team of 30 Normal Ninjas? Completely doable! Want to go old-school and have a team of transforming robots? Go for it, man!

The game oozes creativity in how it lets you craft your team, which gives you a ton of ways to approach any battle. The game also boasted some rather nice cartoonish visuals, which have aged rather well. You also have the game’s soundtrack on top of this, which featured a ton of songs that sound like they were ripped straight from an 80s exercise VHS tape. The music definitely has a cheesy quality to it, but I feel it adds to the overall package. It’s just a shame that the default volume for the soundtrack is blindingly loud.

Now, I’ve talked about Gotcha Force before on this blog in the past. Of course, there was one major thing that I didn’t really touch in said review: The failure of the game. You see, this game had zero advertising behind it. For whatever reason, Nintendo decided not to make any commercials for this game in both Japan and America. This is especially odd when you consider the fact that they made commercials for other obscure titles, such as “Custom Robo”.

The game also reviewed poorly, which is actually rather surprising. Despite the game being considered fun and one of the Gamecube’s best titles by fans, most major review outlets despised the game. The reviews painted the game as a generic kiddy game, giving it ratings lower than most crummy licensed games. This happened to another great game as well, “God Hand”, which was also completely destroyed by reviewers.

As a result of these factors, the game sold a measly 30,000 copies WORLDWIDE. It’s a crying shame that this game sold so poorly, especially with how good it is. The game itself is a rare collector’s item now, and it’s hard to even play it without emulation. After all, who would want to risk scratching a collector’s item such as this? To be fair, I ended up scratching and losing my copy when I was a kid, so I’m not one to talk! I still regret that, even after all these years…

Anyway, Gotcha Force was one of those special games that I wish would make a comeback. It was so unique for the time, while combining a lot of gameplay quirks that just work well together. It had problems and issues, but I still felt it shined in spite of them. It just sucks that Nintendo won’t remake/re-release this game, apart from a small Japan-only reissue they did in 2012. Here’s hoping the game gets another re-release, or an enhanced version. I imagine a version on Switch selling like hotcakes!

Personal Thoughts: How Much Should An RPG Video-Game Reward Its Players?

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Look at all that sweet gear in RPG World! Just sucks that it’ll take forever to get all that stuff.

Rewards for one’s achievements are something that most people can attest to liking. I mean, who can say no to being rewarded adequately for their achievements? Likewise, video-games are no strangers to rewarding players for their in-game accomplishments. Players often like being rewarded with new powers, abilities, or customization options. Games in the RPG genre are all about rewarding their players, giving them unique gear or items.

After all, most RPGs focus on the power fantasy of your character constantly getting stronger. That being said, there’s a problem I’ve got when it comes to RPGs and their rewards. The problem is that too many RPGs don’t really know how to reward its players properly. I’ve played a lot of RPGs, so I consider myself a big expert on the mechanics that go into them.

So, let’s start with the first problem with RPG rewards: Giving too much for too little. Sometimes, a game will give you large rewards for the tiniest of tasks. I think a big example of this was Destiny 2, a game I recently played and reviewed. The problem with the game was that the final level was a complete joke. The enemies were easy enough to dispatch, and the final boss wasn’t difficult at all.

I took out the final boss in a matter of minutes, and I felt like I hadn’t really earned my victory at all. However, the game thought I did! Upon beating the game, I was gifted with way too many things at once! These various objects included: The ability to drive personal vehicles, a ton of “Legendary” items, a new hub area, several new quests and missions, some “Bright Engrams”, etc.

The amount of rewards that I got for simply beating the game was staggering! I really felt as though I felt that I hadn’t earned these rewards, since the final boss was so weak and pathetic. There are also games that reward the player very little for their accomplishments. For example, the Risen/Gothic games usually don’t reward their players all that much.

To be fair, the goal of both of those franchises is to make the player feel weak. They have to earn all of their accomplishments through hard work, and sometimes are given really crap rewards for said hard work. A good example of this is a side-quest in Risen 3, one that involves you meeting a minor character from Gothic 1 named “Mud”.

Now, Mud is by far the most annoying character in either game. He’ll follow you around the entire island of Kila in Risen 3, and is near impossible to get rid of. In order to get him off your back, you have to complete a fair amount of tasks first. After completing several missions, you bring Mud to the temple and clear it out. Your reward for this task is no longer having to deal with Mud. Aside from a bit of experience points, there is no other reward for such an annoying quest.

I would’ve preferred at least a few gold coins. Actually, most of the rewards for Risen 3 are gold. The game will never toss you rare weapons, forcing you to craft them instead. You’ll be given quests to find these individual pieces, and then using an anvil to forge said weapon. To be fair, gold is much more valuable in this game than rare weapons.

The worst RPGs when it comes to rewards tend to be MMORPGs. These games will give out items like candy on a consistent basis, often rendering your current gear obsolete in the process. As much as I love Maple Story 2, I always get annoyed by the fact that my gear is so easily replaceable. It’s hard to go a full hour in that game without changing your gear entirely. Sadly, almost all MMOs have this problem.

They feel the need to constantly shower players in new gear, devaluing your previous equipment in the process. With all these things in mind, we need to answer a very important question: How much should an RPG reward its players? Well, I think rewards should be handled this way:

  1. Rewards should be given out based on the difficulty of the challenge. It’s impossible to gauge how difficult a boss may be for a specific individual. Still, if you’re putting the player through something you deem a tough trial, there should be a reward equal to said challenge. After all, no one wants to fight a super hard boss and only receive a weak sword as a reward!
  2. Don’t over-reward the player. If you throw too many rewards at the player at once, then they end up with an overstuffed inventory and too many options for load-outs. A player should earn new weapons and gear at a decent pace, since they don’t need to flooded with too many options at all times. It also cheapens the rush of getting new gear, since you’re always getting new stuff that easily replaces it.
  3. Give us more unique rewards. Most games just give you cash and items for completing side-quests and side-content, which is a bit bland in my opinion. The best games reward you for completing side-missions by giving you bits of interesting lore, secrets areas, and interesting sights. A player doesn’t need to be given shiny loot all the time, it sometimes helps to just give them something unique for their troubles.

Hopefully, more games can adopt a similar reward system. It seems like a lot of games are severely lacking in giving players the right kind of rewards, but I’m sure this will change over time. I love a good reward in a game, but I find that I always get shafted in most games I play. While the list above is just my suggestions, I feel like they could greatly improve the reward systems in future games. That’s just my opinion though, feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comment section!

Daemon X Machina: A Truly Interesting Mech Action Game

Anyone remember Armored Core? This was an awesome mech action game series that started in the 90s, which quickly garnered a small but dedicated fan-base upon release. The game revolved around you piloting a mech through a series of missions, while destroying everything in sight. You could customize your giant robot in a variety of ways, but you had to be careful about what you put on your mech.

You put on too much armor on and your mech would become slow-moving and more of a target, while putting on less gear made you faster. You had to have the right balance when it comes to your mech build, or else you’d get obliterated. Armored Core was a series that ran for a whopping 16 years, while generating many titles in the process.

Developed by FromSoftware, it seemed like the series was destined to keep going until until the end of time. Unfortunately, things didn’t pan out that way. The last game in the series came out in 2013 with very little fanfare, resulting in the series effectively dying. It’s been 6 years and we still haven’t heard anything about a new Armored Core game, but there is definitely hope on the horizon.

During last year’s E3, we were given a teaser for an interesting new game called “Daemon X Machina”. Being worked on by people who created the original Armored Core games, Daemon X Machina is essentially a “Spiritual Successor” to the original AC games. The game is being developed exclusively for Nintendo Switch, and features a unique and stylish art-style.

You play as a customizable pilot of a mecha called an “Arsenal”. You can swap out parts of your Arsenal for better equipment, but have to keep in mind weight distribution. For all intensive purposes, Daemon X Machina is essentially a fusion of Monster Hunter and Armored Core. You take on missions from your base, where you can customize your robot and character. From there, you go on missions where you fight robots and earn new gear.

You can also “upgrade” your human avatar, which will give him cybernetic enhancements that he can use outside of his mech. Of course, your human character will always be much weaker than your giant robot, which means that you can’t rely on it as much.

While the game won’t be released for a while, Nintendo did put a demo called “Prototype Missions”. I was able to play through the first few missions of the game and truly experience what it had to offer for myself, which I dug quite a bit. The visuals were gorgeous, the action was fast and fun, and the customization was fantastic.

Unfortunately, the few missions I did play had some severe problems. There was a sufficient lack of variety in mission structure, with most missions boiling down to “kill everything and move on”. On top of this, the cybernetic upgrades to your character didn’t seem to add all that much. For example, I got a mechanical arm that could sprout out a really cool beam sword to attack foes with.

The problem is that its almost entirely useless! I can only attack ground enemies with it, since I can’t really fly while not in the mech. The most I can do is swat at tanks with it, which are already easy enough to destroy without the sword. As annoying as the things I listed are, there’s one thing in this entire demo that watered down my experience: The boss fight. I kid you not, I spent 40 minutes trying to beat this thing and still couldn’t pull it off.

The boss is way too large and has way too much health, making the fight an annoying endurance match. You’ll run out of ammo halfway through it and will be forced to rely on your useless teammates. It’s just way too annoying to be fun and ended up draining most of the enjoyment the demo gave me.

I really hope that not all bosses in the main game are like this, or I will most likely go bald from pulling out my hair in frustration. I get that they were trying to make the first boss a giant damage-sponge, but it doesn’t work too well in a mech game. Regardless, I feel like the boss fight itself was the worst part of my experience with the demo.

I still have faith in Daemon X Machina, but the developers are going to have to work super hard to iron out all the kinks before release. If the game releases in a state where the bosses are frustrating un-fun chores to fight, the mission structure remains formulaic, and the cyborg upgrades remain useless, then I imagine this game will be unable to to garner a true fan-base. After all, problems like that can sometimes keep players away.

I imagine Daemon X Machina will be a game with a niche audience regardless, like most robot games that end up getting released. Regardless of how good the game actually is, it’ll only sell to certain people. I hope that Daemon can manage a solid release, since it’ll need all the good press it can get if it hopes to sell.

Kid Paddle: That One Canadian Cartoon Everyone Forgot About

Obscure early 2000s cartoons are among a few of my favorite things in this world. As much I loved shows from the 90s, the 2000s is when the production quality for cartoons really hit their stride. With new animation techniques came new ways to present cartoons, which lead to an era of experimentation. Some superb shows from this era include Megas XLR, My Life As A Teenage Robot, and Samurai Jack.

However, there were plenty of good shows made around this era that just ended up being forgotten. A big example of this is “Kid Paddle”, an obscure French/Canadian cartoon based off a Belgian comic about a group of nerdy kids who just like to chill and play video-games. The show revolves around the titular Kid Paddle and his friends, who are super invested in the “modern” gaming scene.

What made this show so interesting was its attention to detail at the time, especially in how it presented the video-games themselves. The cartoon would regularly show intricate video-games, or methods on how to do different things with them. One episode even had them hook up a game to an arcade machine via USB, albeit with unrealistic results.

One episode I enjoyed was the one where they eat these weird candy bug things, which looked like something out of “Creepy Crawlers”. There was certainly a lot of silly and interesting episodes out there, but good luck finding them in English! While the cartoon’s original French dubbed episodes are very easy to find, the English ones are much less so.

While the first two episodes were released in English on DVD, the many other episodes are seemingly lost. I know that the other episodes do exist in English, since I’ve seen clips of them here or there. The two episodes that are most readily available contain two segments each, which means that four shorts are available in total.

It’s a shame too, because the show itself is rather entertaining. With no way to watch the show in English, it’s hard for people who don’t speak French to really get into it. So, will Kid Paddle ever make a return on DVD? I mean, there’s a chance. Other shows on Teletoon have received DVD releases, namely Cybersix and Redwall.

To be fair, those shows had much larger fan-bases. No one really remembers Kid Paddle, aside from the few fans who grew up watching it on Teletoon. The show disappeared after only a few years of airing and never returned to the airwaves in Canada, at least not to my knowledge.

As far as I know, the comic is still going. You can find a ton of the trade paperbacks on Amazon, which include the newspaper comics. As for additional animated material beyond the cartoon, there isn’t much. I was able to find an animation on YouTube called “Game Over Episode 1”, but I have no idea if its official content or not. It’s essentially a one minute short set in the Kid Paddle universe, and is more of a straight-up adaptation of the newspaper comic’s “gag-a-day” formula.

Kid Paddle is kind of an enigma, at least in terms of it being a comic that was adapted to animation. English episodes are hard to find, information on the series is fairly scarce, and no one really talks about it anymore. Despite that, the show ran for 52 episodes and the comic is still running to this day.

Despite its obscurity, the series has managed some kind of longevity. I don’t think this show and comic will ever be celebrated as much as other Teletoon shows, but I think people will still look back on it fondly years down the line. Kid Paddle isn’t a show that’s unique, revolutionary, or interesting. However, it took the hobbies of nerdy kids and portrayed them in a way that made sense. I can still go back to this show and relate to the main characters, since I got roped up in a lot of similar shenanigans as a kid. For a show that stopped airing a decade and a half ago, that’s a pretty solid feat.

Xenoblade Chronicles X NEEDS To Come To Switch

The Nintendo Switch is a powerful beast and a very hot item right now, due to the sheer accessibility of the console. The machine can be used as either a home console, or a handheld device. It’s a simplistic gimmick, but it works! Due to this selling point, everyone rushed to get the console as soon as they could.

It helps that the console has a ton of third-party support, as well as a large game library. More and more games come out for the console with each passing month, which is something I greatly appreciate. While there are a ton of Switch games I plan on getting already, there are also a bunch on other platforms that I’d like to see brought over here. One such game I’d like to see ported is a semi-obscure sci-fi game.

Sci-fi is just something I can’t get enough of. There are many sci-fi video-games out there, but one of the most well-known ones is the Xeno series. The Xeno franchise is a pretty interesting series that has jumped from console to console, while creating multiple different continuities. The franchise’s entry on the Nintendo Wii U was sure a unique one, since it acted as a spiritual sequel to the first game in the franchise.

Xenoblade Chronicles X is what happens when you take the mech combat from Xenogears, and mix it with the massive open-world exploration found in Skyrim. You play as a person awakened from the pod, and are thrust into a massive world filled with giant robots and space creatures.

I’ve always wanted to play Chronicles X, but never had anything to play it on. The game was released exclusively to Wii U, a console which I never owned. It’s a shame too, because this was one of the only games on the console that truly enticed me. If Wii U had more big-budget open-world games like this, I would’ve certainly taken the plunge and bought one.

Sadly, they released this game on an under-performing console that was near the end of its lifespan. It was doomed to failure and nothing could save it from that. While the game did sell poorly, its follow-ups on the Switch sold much better. While it’s doubtful that we’ll ever get a full remake of this game on Switch, I certainly wouldn’t mind a sequel.

To me, this feels like a game that would do well on Switch. A lot of this comes down to the Switch just being a better selling console, and having a larger built-in fan-base when it comes to Xenoblade. I can see why X would be hard to bring over to Switch, since it is truly a massive game. With 5 large continents to explore, tons of customization options, and hundreds of quests to complete, it’s certainly a staggering prospect.

If the game does return, I hope it’s soon. I’ve only gotten into the Xenoblade series recently, starting with the Torna expansion for Xenoblade 2. I wouldn’t mind playing the first game, X, and 2’s base game as well. Having the entire franchise available on one console would definitely be a great idea. Here’s hoping that they can pull it off at some point!

Video & Arcade Top 10: Another Forgotten Canadian Classic

My love for video-games is something I’ve had since childhood. I grew up loving them and I still do, but I didn’t have the money to buy them back then. Games were and still are expensive, so I found myself only playing the ones my parents rent/bought for me. Since I had no cash of my own, I would sometimes find different ways to enjoy games. These ways were all legal, of course.

This meant playing games at display kiosks at stores, or borrowing Nintendo Power magazines from the library. However, what if you wanted to see footage of new games right when they came out? YouTube and Twitch didn’t exist back then, so you couldn’t simply look up a game and watch footage of it.

Thankfully, there was an alternative for Canadian kids: Video & Arcade Top 10. This show was pretty interesting for its time, since it was a gameshow that focused exclusively on kids playing video-games for prizes. Kids would be brought up on stage and would compete against each other the hopes of winning really crappy prizes, like watches and puzzles shaped like the head of Elvis Presley. There were some actually good prizes, but those were few and far between.

There was also the show’s theme song, which was just a remix of the theme music for Crash Man’s stage in Megaman II. This was something I didn’t discover until adulthood, since I never actually played Megaman II. It was nice to know that this theme song did come from an actual game, even if it took me nearly 2 decades to discover this fact. You can tell that the show didn’t have a big music budget, since the theme song remained mostly untouched for the entirety of the show.

From the prizes to the theme song, you could tell this show was made on the cheap! To be fair, that was kind of its charm. The show was cheaply made, but you could tell the crew was passionate about it. The host of the show was Nicholas Picholas, and the amount of fun he brought made up for the overall cheapness of the production.

Nicholas was an energetic and lively host, one that made the show a true joy to watch. He didn’t become the host until the second season, but the show truly took off when he did! Of course, Nicholas is only part of the show’s attraction. The real reason everybody watched the show was most likely for the games, which there sure were a lot of.

Nintendo games seemed to be the most prevalent on Video & Arcade Top 10, since Nintendo was top dog back in the 90s and early 2000s. There was also a focus on E-rated games, since this show was targeted towards children. This became more of a priority in later seasons, where anything rated T or above was never shown at all.

The meat of the show came in the competition itself, which was usually fairly entertaining. The kids competing were often really bad at the games they played, which was always the most hilarious part of the show to me. As bad at games as I was, even I knew I was better at them than these kids!

The best part is when a kid showed up who was ACTUALLY GOOD AT GAMES, which usually meant that he would destroy everyone else in the competition without hesitation. On top of the competition itself, the hosts would often talk about music and films. In fact, I learned about the existence of “An Extremely Goofy Movie” through this show. I know it’s a random thing to bring up, but it’s true!

Video & Arcade Top 10 ran for a whopping 15 years, making it one of the longest running shows in Canadian history. This is a show that ran for over 700 episodes, which is a length that would make most long-running anime blush. The show was eventually rerun on GameTV for a while, but was taken off the air a few years ago.

Despite the show’s incredible length, there are very few ways to actually watch it. Why? Well, the show used a ton of copyrighted footage and content. This meant that getting the show released on home-video would be an expensive task. Not only that, but only a couple dozen episodes have surfaced on YouTube.

The only way to catch certain episodes is if somebody posts an old taping of the show online. This is especially annoying if you were a contestant on the show, since finding the episode you were in would be a near impossible task. Speaking of contestants, I always wanted to compete on this show growing up.

I just never wrote into the show, so I was sadly never picked for competition. I’m kind of glad this was the case, since I was terrible at video-games when I was a kid. Regardless, Video & Arcade Top 10 will remain one of my favorite shows from my childhood. I’ll always remember the entertaining hosts, the “Letter Time” segments, and the games of varying quality they would play in each individual episode.

I hope that all of the episodes will one day be posted online, but I find it doubtful. Still, I greatly enjoy the few episodes that have surfaced online. Video & Arcade Top 10 was silly and cheesy, but it also gave Canadian kids a way to see footage of new games without renting everything on the shelf at a Roger’s Video Store. While the show will never make a return to television, I’ll still remember it as something awesome I grew up with.

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.