What Makes A Truly Great Villain?

When it comes to fictional forms of media, there is nothing I love more than a good villain. A truly memorable antagonist stands in the way or our heroes and acts as an ever-constant threat against our protagonists. That begs the question though, what makes a truly great villain? What makes an antagonist not only a truly evil force, but also into something that we love to hate?

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I can’t stay mad at that face!

The answer to this may depend on the form of media the villain is associated with, but I’ve decided to give my own thoughts on what makes a truly great villain. I also have to thank Super Eyepatch Wolf on Youtube for giving me inspiration to make this post on my blog. So, for a villain to be something I can truly get behind, it needs a number of things:

Memorable Design

It’s not enough that a villain is intimidating, but he also needs to look intimidating and have a design that makes him appealing (or not so appealing) to look at. A good example of this is the original Green Goblin, who dresses in a truly gaudy green and purple outfit. Even if this original design is somewhat outdated, it’s still memorable enough to let you easily pick him out from a crowd. He’s not some generic pretty-boy with a sword, or some giant monster wielding a hammer. No, he’s this gaudily-dressed imp of destruction, raining pumpkin bombs down onto hapless citizens.

Good Voice-Acting

This next section is highly dependent upon the form of media the villain is depicted in. For things like television, film, and video-games (depending on if the game has voice-acting or not), then how the villain sounds is a great factor in determining the appeal of a character. For example, Mako playing Aku in Samurai Jack is often sited as one of the best portrayals of a villain in cartoons.

Mako knows how to ham it up as Aku, delivering a voice dripping with both comedic value and intimidation. Mako is able to portray Aku, this Japanese demon of death and destruction, as a character that one can enjoy. Greg Baldwin, who is Aku’s new voice actor, also does an amazing job. He isn’t as good as the original, but manages to capture the energy and cheesiness of Mako’s portrayal very well.

It’s not always necessary to cast someone well-known or famous to play a villain. As long as the person playing said villain can inside the head of the character and portray him the way the creator intends, while still keeping the role their own. A voice is everything in a villain. A bad voice actor can truly destroy what makes a great villain great.

Being An Actual Threat

Having a villain who looks and sounds great is one thing, but you need a villain who can actually get the job done. A villain who can’t achieve their goals, or pose much of a threat to our heroes becomes a joke after a while. A good (or rather, bad) example of this is Corypheus from Dragon Age: Inquisition. Corypheus is foiled easily at every turn by your chosen protagonist.

Corypheus very rarely does much to be a thorn in your side, and a lot of his attempts to stop you reach Dick Dastardly levels of pathetic. A good example of a villain who manages to threaten our heroes at every turn is Etemon, from the cult classic anime Digimon. Despite Etemon seeming like an incompetent goofball, he was able to trounce the Digi-Destined most of the time. Not only that, but he also devised a “Dark Network”, that he can use to attack his enemies from afar.

Etemon’s seemingly silly design and behaviors masked his truly power and potential. This mischievous monkey of magnified malice ended up being a true threat to our heroes. A villain who isn’t able to be a challenge to our protagonists in any way ends up feeling lame and hollow. A villain can’t just talk the talk, he/she needs to also be able to walk the walk.

The Villain Needs To Be More Than A Villain

Super Eyepatch Wolf discussed this as well, but it bares repeating. A villain who feels more like a person, is better than one who doesn’t. A villain needs to have weaknesses as well as strengths, needs to have dreams beyond his current goal, and needs to feel like a real part of the world. Most Marvel villains end up just kind of showing up, usually with little development.

Again, a villain needs to be a part of the world. Not just antagonist no. 125 who happens to co-exist in the universe, but hasn’t been mentioned or established until now. Now I know most villains are not like that, but sometimes establishing an antagonist beforehand can really work wonders for your property.

In Conclusion

A villain doesn’t need to have all of these properties to be a great villain, but it certainly helps. Having a strong voice, memorable design, good backstory and development, fantastic characterization, and a threatening persona can actually make for both a great character and an amazing villain. Examples are out there, there’s a ton in fact. Coming with a great and memorable villain isn’t easy, but having one can make or break a series. At least, that’s my opinion on the whole thing.

Sweet As Syrup: Villainous Cartoon Review

I’ve decided to ditch my usual review formula to cover a series of cartoon shorts that have been making their rounds as of late. I usually don’t review animated shorts, Super Turbo Atomic Ninja Rabbit being one of the exceptions. However, I felt it was time to tackle some more animated shorts. What better series of shorts to talk about then “Villainous”, CN’s newest hit.

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It’s like Addam’s Family, but with a casual dress-code!

The show hasn’t even released in America yet, and it’s still managed to gain a sizable fan-base! Honestly, I was hooked on the premise alone. A show focusing on what are considered the villains living their normal lives, while working out ways to murder superheroes? Count me in! I think the best way I can describe this show is that it’s Megamind meats The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy.

If that doesn’t sound incredibly awesome, I don’t know what does! So, the show revolves around the demonic super villain known as Black Hat. Black Hit manages to be both angry and dapper at the same time. Possessing a rather extravagant outfit, but also a violent demeanor underneath. Black Hat is a pretty cool character in all honesty. Most of Black Hat’s devices are created by Dr. Flug, a strange man with a paper bag over his head.

Dr. Flug is my favorite character, due to the fact that I’m a huge fan of the stock mad-scientist character. There’s also Dimencia, an insane girl with anime hair who has the hots for Black Hat. Last and certainly least is the character 5.0.5. He’s generally a boring character, a bland and forgettable adorable mascot character. I guess that’s the point, but the character never really grew on me. Maybe it’s because I feel the whole “adorable and evil-ness cannot co-exist” joke to be extremely overused at this point.

Now, as for the shorts themselves, they are very well put-together. The animation is fantastic, knowing when to be simplistic and when to be super detailed. Character designs really pop, especially due to the slick animation style. Even 5.0.5. who I can’t stand as a character manages to have a style that really pops.

The problem I had with the shorts, and this is really more of a gripe, is that most of them have pretty sudden endings. Most shorts just kind of end, which is the problem when working with such a limited running time. Characters aren’t fleshed out that much beyond the stereotypes they represent, there’s no real development or arcs, and most shorts end as abruptly as they began. It’s not a deal breaker though, especially due to the fact that it’s just a weakness associated with the short’s length.

What Villainous does with its short time frame is give us some funny and likable characters, enjoyable scenarios, and a fantastic art and animation style. It’s not perfect, but it doesn’t have to be. Villainous is a short about admiring the faults within cartoon villains, pastiches of what we deem to be evil. It’s not profound by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s definitely unique and interesting.

So yeah, I definitely enjoyed what I watched. Despite only six minutes worth of animation, this is a fun little series of shorts to watch through. That’s why I can definitely say that this series is as sweet as syrup. Do I recommend it? Of course! I highly recommend and all who read this watch the series once it’s brought to American Cartoon Network. I can’t get the channel sadly, but I urge all those who can to watch CN’s commercials. That’s where these shorts will most likely show up. Right now, everyone needs to show their support for this amazing series. If people do that, then we may get even more shorts or a full series. Anyways, thanks for reading my little diatribe and have a fantastic day. Keep it real and most importantly, keep it evil!

Sweet As Syrup: Digimon Next Manga Review

Good news, everyone! The Digimon marathon starts today. I figured I start off with something Digimon-based that not a lot of people know about. I discussed the Digimon Adventure V-Tamer 01 manga, but have yet to discuss its spiritual successor. You see, there’s been several Digimon manga over the years, but few of them have actually run that long. The second Digimon manga series to run for a fair bit of chapters was Digimon Next.

After finally finish V-Tamer 01, I quickly dived in to this series and read through it in the course of a week. I think it’s about time I cover this series. Is it worth reading or enjoying? Well, in this review I’ll let you know if this older Digimon manga is worth reading or not.

Background Information

Digimon Next was a manga that released a couple months prior to Digimon Savers / Data Squad, which was the newest Digimon anime at that time. The series began in 2006 and ran until 2008. While using similar elements to Savers, Next borrows most from Adventure V-Tamer 01. Much like most Digimon manga, this series never received an American release.

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That’s probably the most badass Greymon I’ve ever seen!

Plot

The story revolves around a young Japanese teenager named Tsurugi Tatano. One day, Tsurugi is whisked off to the Digital World after playing an online game, where he meets up with his partner Agumon. The two start off on a bad foot, but quickly become good friends and reliable allies to one another. Tsurugi quickly becomes friends with a bunch of other humans too, who have also ended up in the Digital World. Tsurugi meets up with other characters like Yuu and Ami, while doing battle with the mysterious “Black Winged Knight”.

While this does sound like it could make for an interesting manga, it sadly does not. The story feels very derivative of the previous Digimon manga. I felt like I was reading most of the same story again, just with different characters. The villain in the motives behind said villain felt like they had been done better in V-Tamer 01. Is it terrible? Of course not! However, the plot never feels like it does anything interesting with the setting.

The problem I find with the manga that it never manages to take the series in a unique direction. It’s stuck taking elements from Savers, without being able to deviate too much from a typical Digimon manga. This bothers me greatly, especially due to the fact that most entries in the Digimon franchise manage to do something unique and interesting with each installment.

Again, it’s not a bad story. It doesn’t feel too rushed or poorly paced, the characters are interesting and like-able enough to stand on their own and it has a decent amount of chapters. On top of this, the finale to the story itself is pretty dang awesome. Regardless, it felt like a bit of a slog to get to that point. I gave up on the manga several times before I could fully finish it. I still enjoyed what I read, despite my qualms.

Artwork

The art for this series was done by the ever amazing Takeshi Okano. This man also helped co-write Hell Teacher Nube, one of my favorite manga and anime series! Okano manages to make character designs really interesting and manages to make the Digimon look really nice. Backgrounds are decent, though some can seem a little bare at times. Action scenes are intense, and Okano manages to pack a ton of fast action into each individual panel.

The art overall really saved this manga for me. While I had difficulties fully getting into the plot, the art-style really hooked me. It managed to combine simplicity with higher detail, creating something that could be considered both cartoon-ish and serious at the same time. It’s an art-style that can invoke a feeling of both excitement and goofiness.

In Conclusion

It’s got a hit-or-miss plot, but rather nice-looking artwork. I say that if you’re cool with a more formulaic Digimon plot, then I think this would be your thing. I recommend reading V-Tamer 01 over this. If you like V-Tamer and want something similar to it, then I can recommend this series to you. I got a decent amount of enjoyment out of this series, so I can definitely say it is sweet as syrup. It’s not perfect, it feels a bit generic, but it manages to capture what I love about Digimon. In the end, that’s all I can really ask for.

My Thoughts On The Samurai Jack Finale and Season 5 As A Whole(Spoilers)

So, the final episode of Samurai Jack hit and I gotta say, it was actually pretty good. Like it says in the title, this is a spoiler discussion, you’ve been warned.

<SPOILERS PAST THIS POINT>

 

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The plot THICCens!

 

Sure, it felt a bit rushed, but with only 10 episodes that are only 22 minutes long in length each, it’s difficult for it not to be. For those who haven’t kept up with the series, Jack forms a relationship with a female assassin named Ashi. This relationship forms into a somewhat forced romance, that leads into Ashi being revealed as Aku’s daughter.

This culminates in Jack’s defeat and capture, as he is unable to kill the corrupted Ashi. In the final episode, all those that Jack helped band together and lead an attack on Aku. Sadly, elements of this ending just ended up feeling a bit hashed together. The romantic elements felt a bit forced, and Ashi just gaining Aku’s time-travelling powers after mastering own abilities felt like it came out of nowhere.

Regardless though, it was satisfying. For a 22 minute episode, it felt evenly paced at times, and managed to do a fairly satisfying ending. I liked the final scene the most, after Jack kills Aku in the past (which inadvertently kills Ashi) he goes under a cherry blossom tree and mopes about for a bit. A ladybug lands on his finger, reminding Jack of the bond he had formed with Ashi and that even though she is gone, he can continue forward.

Jack has lost a lot, and this ending gives hope to this character that his new and much more peaceful life will have a higher meaning. I think the ending would’ve been even better if the past version of The Guardian showed up, walked up to Jack, and said “You’re the one”, before walking away and disappearing into nothingness. You gotta consider that The Guardian only existed to guard the portal that was destined for a battle-hardened Jack to use. I wish this was a part of the ending, but sadly it is not.

Regardless, while I felt the ending was rushed at times, I thought it did a lot of things right. It gave us good comedy and character development, and finally gave us that ending we’ve been clamoring for for years now. Is it perfect? Far from it, it’s got a fair bit of problems. It is still a fantastic ending though, just not what a lot of people were hoping for.

Certain things that happened in the episode felt a bit contrived and forced, and Jack’s ultimate defeat of Aku could’ve been a bit longer. Still, I stand beside the creator’s vision and willingness to finally conclude this saga. It’s been 16 years, 62 episodes, 1 animated parody, and several videogames later, but now we have a concrete conclusion to this saga.

Whether it’s a satisfying ending or not will be completely up to the viewer. I loved this ending, and I recommend season 5 as a whole to any fan of Samurai Jack new or old. If this hits DVD, I’m buying as soon as possible! I don’t love season 5 because I’m a fan, or because I’ve been waiting for this ending forever, but because I legitimately enjoy as its own product. While having disappointing elements here or there, I still think its a masterpiece of modern animation. Just… Be wary of episode 8. Having any sort of opinion on this episode is gonna get you a lot of flack on the internet.

Why I Prefer Digimon To Pokemon

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Would you believe me if I told you that Veedramon was my favorite?

Believe it or not, I haven’t always been a huge fan of the “Mons” franchises. I’m talking Digimon, Pokemon, Monster Rancher, and those various Pokemon “clones” that come out each year. Digimon in particular is a series that I haven’t visited in quite some time. That was until 2015, when I started getting back into the franchise. Digimon Adventure Tri comes out, Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth gets announced and released, and my interest is at this point piqued.

Digimon did something that Pokemon could never do: Aim its content and material towards adults. Pokemon to this day is still mainly for kids. It’s a franchise that hasn’t grown with its audience. I apologize in advance if I offend any by saying this, but Pokemon just hasn’t matured or grown as a series. Newer Pokemon games seem to just be exactly like the old games, just with better graphics and more features.

While it’s true that Digimon games have been mostly hit-or-miss, the rest of the franchise has fared far better. Better manga, better anime, better films, etc. The Digimon series featured all these differing universes with own unique rule-sets. It’s impossible to play a single Digimon game or watch a Digimon anime without discovering a new variation on the pre-established world.

Pokemon almost always takes place in the same universe with the same rules, yet introduces new Pokemon which shake up the formula only a tad bit. You’d think introducing god Pokemon into the franchise would gave the series a touch of uniqueness, but the gods are just legendary Pokemon that you can catch. Sure, they’ll play a part in the story sometimes, but not too often.

The Pokemon world felt a bit too grounded, if you ask me. Sure, crazy and weird stuff can happen in the Pokemon world, but the varied nature of all the Digimon universes felt more diverse. On top of this, I always liked the designs of Digimon better. Digimon actually looked like monsters, at least in my eyes. Pokemon were just more adorable versions of real-life animals, instead of being traditional monsters.

Pokemon is a decent series, but it’s never stuck with me the way Digimon has. I can’t pick out too many moments from the Pokemon anime that were memorable or that interesting. Yet, I can remember every single villain the Digidestined ever fought. To be fair, that culd be just a form of bias or selective memory.

To be fair, Pokemon isn’t a terrible series. The games in Pokemon have always been better than the ones that came from the Digimon series. Sure, Digimon had some good ones like Digimon World 3, Digimon Anode/Cathode Tamer, Digimon World DS, and Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth, but most of these games were critically panned. Pokemon has always had that massive appeal with their games, which always tend to score high and rake in the cash.

At this point, Pokemon just feels a bit too bland to me. I respect that people enjoy and like it, but I just can’t get back into it. There are too many Pokemon games at this point, and I have no idea which new game to play first. I haven’t touched a Pokemon game (unless you count Pokemon Go) since the original Gold and Silver over a decade and a half ago. Is it time I changed that? Perhaps.

For now though, I’m going to stick to Digimon, with a series that I love. It’s also a series that appeals both to my inner-child and to my adult side. It’s something that I feel I can continue to enjoy, even later in life. So… What do you guys think? Which do you prefer, Pokemon or Digimon? Feel free to leave a comment telling me what you think, let’s get a friendly discussion going and talk about two series that were an integral part of many 90s kids’ childhoods.

Next Marathon Is Coming Up: Digimon!

Alright, I thought it was time to start a new marathon. I’m mostly done with my Phantasy Star Marathon that I stared last year, in which I review various games from the series and talk about the franchise in general. Well, now I want to do this with one of my favorite multi-media franchises: Digimon. I want to review various manga, anime, movies, and even games from the franchise.

Digimon was my childhood and come July, the franchise will turn 20 years old. I thought this would be the best time to talk more about the series itself. I have reviewed a few Digimon related things, but I want to get into the full swing of things and review a ton of things associated with the series. I wanted to see how much I can cover in the span of a month and a half, before the 20th anniversary of the series rolls around. Expect more Digimon-based content soon, guys!

200th Post + Picture With William Shatner!

This is officially my 200th post and I wanted to make it special. It’s been nearly 2 years sine I started this blog, and it has had its ups and downs. I’m going to continue updating and providing great content for you, and I hope you all continue to read my posts! Without further adieu, I show you one of the crowning moments of the entire year for me thus far:

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NEEEEEEEEEEEEERDS!

This is pic of me and my friends with the legendary founding father of nerd-dom known as William Shatner. I’m the guy in the blue and white striped shirt on the left, T. Hilde is the smiling guy in the middle, while the guy on the right is In92Days. 92 Days scheduled this whole meetup and the reason we went to the con is because of his planning. Honestly, it was a fantastic day and meeting William Shatner (even if it was for a few brief seconds) was something truly amazing.

Keep in mind, I got permission from both of my friends before posting this picture. This honestly was the center-point of the entire convention. I’ll probably never do a photo op like this again, but I feel this one was definitely worth my time and money. It was a great photo and something I’ll treasure forever. Anyway, thanks for reading! Like I said, this is my 200th post and I hope to have many more in the future. Have a good day, everyone, and keep it real.

Comic Book Convention 2017 Swag!

At the recent comic book Expo in Regina, I picked up some rather neat things. I honestly love going to cons, and I don’t really spend a whole lot when it comes to personal items for myself. If you guys like this, I’ll be sure to post pictures of stuff I got from previous years, since I have picked up several awesome things over the years. Anyways, let’s get this rolling! (Also, apologies in advance if the photos are a bit blurry, I’m not expert when it comes to taking pictures)

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A very courageous crest indeed.

One of the first things I picked up at the con was a tag and the crest of courage from Digimon. This is a little plastic replica of the crests commonly seen on the Digimon television show. I honestly loved this anime, so I jumped at the chance to own a crest of my very own. The crests were 5 bucks less than the Digivices (Which I felt looked really amateurish) which is why I ultimately decided on the crest. It makes a fancy little pendant, I must say!

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Wander Over Shiren!

The next thing I bought was the game “Shiren The Wanderer”, the PS Vita version to be precise. I heard this was a great little roguelike, and I jumped at the opportunity to have it on my Vita. I have yet to open and play it, but I’ll be sure to do so this weekend. I look forward to both playing and reviewing this game in the future!

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No joke, I still have yet to see this movie.

During the convention, my friend brought me to a booth run by the guys who made the film Wolf Cop. This was a film made in Regina that was a parody of old 80s cop shows and films. I had never this film before, nor even heard of it for that much. However, when I saw the comic there, I knew I had to have it! The art on the cover was so striking and memorable, making it impossible for me to say no! Honestly, I love 80s stuff, even when it’s made in the modern day as opposed to back then. I read through this comic in one setting, and I gotta say it was a fantastic. I still have yet to see the film, but I’ll be sure to tackle that next!

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And here’s an image of all three things together. Roughly, I spent about 75-80 bucks on personal purchases, this isn’t counting money spent on travelling, food, the tickets themselves, or the hotel. I fully intend to review both the Wolf Cop comic and Shiren at some point, and maybe even do a mini review of the crest replica itself. Anyway, hope you enjoyed this little convention special. I do have one more image I’m going to post, but I’ll save that for later. Trust me, it’s the high point of the convention.

Sweet As Syrup: Phantasy Star Portable 2 Review

Last year, I started a marathon on my favorite game series of all time: Phantasy Star. It went on a lot longer than I thought it would, but I enjoyed writing all the posts on it all the same. The last post I did was Phantasy Star related, so I thought I’d follow them up and hopefully finish this marathon at long last! So, let’s start with Phantasy Star Portable 2, one of the best games in the series!

Originally, I was going to review the first Phantasy Star Portable game. I still intend to get to it at some point, but I felt that it was a bit too similar to Phantasy Star Portable 2 and Universe. I’d end up repeating myself a lot, so I figured I would just move onto the second game instead. Phantasy Star Portable 2 is one of my favorite RPGs, and is special to me. It’s the last Phantasy Star game ever released in America, and the newest of the series that I have played. It’s hard to believe that is has nearly been 7 series since this game was brought to American shelves. Without further adieu, let’s dive right into it!

Background Information

Phantasy Star Portable 2 is an action RPG that was released in 2009 in Japan, and brought over to the rest of the world near the end of 2010. The game was released exclusively for the PSP and was developed by Alfa System, who also developed several Tales games. The game received an expansion called Phantasy Star Portable 2 Infinity, but this was released exclusively in Japan and never brought over here.

Plot and Characters

It’s been three years since the events of Universe and peace has returned to the Gurhal system. You play as a mercenary (or former Guardian if you imported your save-file) who is visiting an old derelict relics site. While there, you happen across a young woman named Emilia. After meeting her, you luck suddenly takes a sharp dive as you both become trapped in the ruins. You eventually escape, but not before you bare witness to a strange spirit dwelling inside Emilia.

From there, you are recruited into a mercenary firm called “Little Wing” and are tasked with going on various missions, sometimes ones where you have to protect the galaxy! All the while, you keep encountering a strange teenage boy dressed in black, who also poses a threat to the entire Gurhal system. It’s up to you and your rag-tag group of allies to put a stop to this and protect the galaxy you have made home!

Yeah, it’s a pretty basic plot, to be honest. However, it does incorporate several elements from previous Phantasy Star games, as well as bring back some old characters from Universe. This was intended as the final game in the series (before the expansion pack and phone spinoff came out) and really does feel like a finale for the series. It doesn’t do anything groundbreaking, but it takes a lot of the elements and concepts from previous games and manages to roll with it.

The plot itself is divided into 10 chapters, and may take the player several hours to fully get through. The plot brings the player to various locations, including some taken from previous games. There’s also a great VR-themed level that takes you back to levels from the original Phantasy Star Online! Unfortunately, this variety works against the game, as it will often make the plot feel all over the place. On top of this, the reuse of certain levels makes the game feel a bit too formulaic at times.

Where the game really shines is in its characters. Usually, I can’t stand the generic anime stereotypes often present in Japanese RPGs. While the characters here felt like stereotypes, there was something extremely endearing about how they were written. The father-daughter relationship between Kraz and Emilia felt genuine to me. A hard-ass who drinks a lot taking care of a young girl who acted like a spoil-brat feels like something too common in real-life. It was so heartwarming seeing these characters trying to act as a family unit, despite the bizarre scenarios that often got in their way.

Other characters really stood out to me as well, like the warrior boy Yut, or the French femme fatale known as Chelsea. Lumia Waber, the sister of the protagonist of the first game has returned. She’s probably my favorite character, she went from being a generic happy-go-lucky sister to a no-nonsense tough girl. The only character I found myself not liking at all was the aforementioned Emilia. She was just too obnoxious and a lot of the plot involves our heroes dealing with her hissy-fits. It gets annoying after a while.

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Robots in swim-trunks?! Truly this game has everything.

Gameplay

Much like a lot of the games that came before it, Phantasy Star Portable 2 is an action RPG. You choose from one of four playable races, which are Beasts, CASTs, Newmans, and Humans. Each race has their own specific skills and attributes which makes them more unique than the others. For example, the Beasts are basically werewolves who turn into giant feral creatures to attack their enemies. Each race has a special “limit break” movie that lets them dish out some serious damage once their meter builds up.

Gameplay takes place from a third person perspective, putting you in the boots of a custom created character. You choose from one of four classes which are as follows: Hunter, Force, Ranger, and Vanguard. Each class has their own specific forte, with their own weaknesses and advantages. The game boasts over 30 different types of weapons, with thousands of unique individual weapons. Certain weapons will spawn with elemental attributes or special effects attached. This means that certain weapons can be more effective than others, even if they are generally “weaker” items.

The game takes on a linear mission structure, similar to past Universe and Online games. Each mission will take you about 20 to 30 minutes to complete, and there are a total of about 10 story chapters to complete. The game boasts a ton of optional side-quests and missions, along with a special award system that grants you items based on how many milestones you hit.

You can also upgrade your class and gain special stat bonuses, as well as upgrading the levels of weapons you’re allowed to use. This allows you some degree of customization when it comes to how you want each individual class to function. You can change classes back at Little Wing headquarters, as well as obtain new items and equipment.

Sadly, the classes aren’t too unique when compared to other similar games, or even other games in the series. This is more of a nitpick, but it irks me to see that the classes haven’t really changed all that much from the early days of Phantasy Star Online. It’s something I can live with, I just wish there were new and differing classes, because I feel that would add more variety.

Combat flows very nicely. It all unfolds in third-person, allowing you to attack, dodge, and block. You’ll have to learn to exploit enemy weaknesses, as well as focus on a variety of different weapons in order to win. The game is very tricky, and is not afraid to wipe you out for not playing carefully enough.

One feature I liked was room customization. You are given a room in the game, and tons of different decorations and themes to give it flare. It was fun playing multiplayer with friends and visiting their crazily designed rooms. I’ll get more into the multiplayer aspect in a second, but for now I want to touch on just how much I loved the room creation in this game. There were millions of options on how to decorate your room, with more unlocking as you completed the story. Normally, I hate this kind of thing in games. However, the sheer amount of insane decorations and furnishings you can dress up your room with was astounding.

While customization was a strong point in this game, sadly multiplayer didn’t stack up as well. Games were frequently laggy and slow, with occasional disconnections. I’m not sure if this was just my shoddy internet connection or not, but this was a frequent issue when I played. It gets more annoying when you start doing the special online quests that instantly fail when someone logs off, be it by accident or on purpose.

The online player community wasn’t as good either. I would frequently get into rooms with rather angry individuals or just all around disrespectful people. Not only that, but plays would frequently hack the game in order to max out their level cap. Hacking and cheating was extremely frequent in the game, and the devs did little to circumvent this. It was entirely possible to run into level 200 plays who would die in a couple of hits, which shouldn’t be possible in this game.

While the game did feature a highly improved battle mode, as well as the ability to visit the rooms of other players, this didn’t stop the multiplayer from being a chore at times. It’s sad that I had just as many bad memories with the multiplayer as I did good ones. I’ll be honest, I kind of miss that the online multiplayer is no longer functioning. Overall, I enjoyed the game, despite its various problems. The game’s challenging difficulty level of customization were a plus for me. Sadly, it falls short when it comes to multiplayer. On top of this, gameplay hasn’t changed all that much from previous entries. Despite it feel pretty much the same as old games, it’s refined enough that I can forgive this shortcoming.

Visual Stimuli

The game looks really good, I must say. While the graphics are pretty are definitely compressed to fit on that PSP screen, there’s still enough visual flare to make it look interesting. Voice-acting is okay, nothing too special there. Some voice actors/actresses don’t really pull their weight, and some can be a bit grating at times. A good example of this is Emilia’s voice actress, who sounds like she’s screaming every second line she says.

The voice-acting is decent enough at times, and there’s only real voice-work during the CGI cut-scenes, which don’t show up a whole lot. Still, it can be a bit annoying and distracting to players, especially people like me who play Phantasy Star solely for the gameplay and not the story.

Characters are well designed enough and definitely have a unique flare to them. Most of the main characters differ enough in design to feel like varied individuals, and a lot of the designs have a good look to them. Monster designs are okay, but sadly a lot of the monsters in this game are recycled from previous games. You’ll find yourself running into a lot of old enemies with slightly updated appearances, which can give off a feeling of “Been there, done that”.

Music in this game is fantastic, though again some of it is recycled from previous games. This doesn’t stop the tracks from still being amazing though. Almost each area in the game has a unique backing track to it, that surprisingly never gets old to me. Phantasy Star is a series that has always been known for its awesome music, so it’s hard to really find fault in the soundtrack of any of its games.

In short, I loved the music, character designs, and graphics, but felt that the monster designs and voice-work was a bit flimsy. The game definitely needed some extra polish in those areas, I must say. They aren’t really deal-breakers for me and don’t impact the whole package all that much. Still, the presentation has a tendency to be hit-or-miss at times.

In Summation

Despite its formulaic story, greatly lacking multiplayer (which is now defunct anyways), and recycled design, I still felt this was a fantastic game. Sure, it doesn’t do anything all that unique or groundbreaking, but really managed to refine the game-play of previous Phantasy Star games. Couple this with room customization, thousands of differing weapons to collect, and some really nice graphics, and you have a game that is still fun to play in the modern day.

Just be warned that this game can be very repetitive and grindy, and a single play-through of the main campaign can take many hours to complete. It’s a difficult and very challenging game that can require some careful thinking at times. In all honesty, I’d say this game is a forgotten classic. It isn’t as good as the original Phantasy Star or Phantasy Online games, but it’s still a fantastic game on its own. That’s why I can definitely say that this game is as sweet as syrup. Copies of this game aren’t super easy to find, but I highly recommend playing this game if you can track it down. It’s a fun little dungeon-crawler for PSP and an excellent successor to the Phantasy Star pedigree.

Back From The Comic Con!

The comic book expo in Regina was fantastic! I only bought a few things, but overall enjoyed my time there. It was fun hanging out with friends, and we ever got to go to a nerd party at a bar. I danced like crazy there! It was a fun time, and I picked up some great knickknacks and a ton of great pictures. I’ll be sure to post pictures of things I got, as well as pictures of me and my pals on the blog here when I get the chance. For now, have a great night y’all!