The Unknowns: Professional Superhero Outcasts Chapter 1

Author’s Note: Having grown up as someone who felt like an outcast to the community, I decided to write something that captures that feeling. I’ve combined it with my love for superheroes to create this ongoing written series! Something I want do with it is have certain chapters focused on different protagonists or parts of this world and how they intersect with each other. Please enjoy my pilot chapter of what I believe is going to be an amazing ongoing series!

Chapter 1: The Monkey’s a Joke Part 1

Societal norms are the worst kinds of cliches. A society excepting something as “normal” often transforms it in ways people never intended. A concept that’s considered “obscure”, “weird”, or “strange” loses its true meaning when brought into the mainstream. Case and point: Superheroes. Once upon a time, superheroes were fantastical stories about super-powered individuals. They were comic-book stories aimed at casual readers, due to their bizarre characters and scenarios.

Over time, superheroes expanded out of the page and into cartoons. The cartoons evolved further and were adapted into superhero films. These films evolved even further into large “Cinematic Universes”, which encompassed every superhero in their entire brand.

At this point, humanity thought that superheroes couldn’t expand further from there. One may think that we would have run out of ideas on how to milk a concept, but humanity finds a way to surprise itself every time. In the year 2050, many humans had started developing super-powers or supernatural skills.

People started gaining powers through magic, science, dormant abilities that suddenly awoke, or even through genetic splicing. Nobody quite knows what started this trend, but many people considered it the “natural progression” of superhero worship. This rise of superheroes in our society lead to the creation of the “Superhero Team Registration Board”, or the “STRB” for short. People with superhuman capabilities could apply through this board to join a pre-existing “Superhero Team”, or even create their own.

Of course, this isn’t a simple thing for most aspiring superheroes. You see, being a superhero isn’t about having “cool powers” or “amazing skills”. No, being a superhero is down to your looks. Are you handsome, cool, or deadly-looking? Well, you’re on your way to being the next “Fantastic Man”! Are you ugly, lame, or silly-looking? You’re sidekick material! Even if you have cool or useful powers, no will care about them unless they look “extremely awesome”.

As it turns out, superhero society is just as materialistic and fickle as the human society that proceeded it. Thankfully, this wasn’t a permanent thing. In fact, due to a singular superhero team, the status quo changed over night. Heroes who didn’t fit into this fractured version of society were allowed to be successful and remembered for who they were.

This team was known simply as “The Unknowns”, a team of no-name superheroes who came out of the woodwork to save the world from a major impending threat. I’m getting a head of myself, aren’t I? Let’s flash back to the beginning and tell our story the right way.

It was a busy and bustling day in “Dyna-Charge City”. The city was filled with civilians, superheroes, and sidekicks. It wasn’t too common to see a street filled with both average people and freak-shows that spit flames from their nostrils. Having this many superheroes around during the day often meant that crime was at a low during work hours. However, night was when crime really reared its ugly head.

This is why “superhero recruitment drives” were often held during the day. Today was the day when one of the biggest recruitment drives ever was being held! The STRB’s main building had lines that reached as far as the eye could see. Many goofballs in costumes were lined up to enter the building, like a bunch of nerds trying to get into a comic book convention.

The building itself was massive, being big enough to house thousands of superheroes in it at once. The building was colored white on the outside and was made out of a powerful metal called “Invincium”, which is said to be near indestructible. At the top of the building were the words “Superhero Team Registration Board Main Building” in big golden letters.

Most of the superheroes auditioning today had amazing powers and skills, but most of them weren’t “superhero” enough to appease the building’s facilitator. Said facilitator was “Henry Hyde”, a grumpy middle-aged man who used to train superheroes back in the day.

Henry was a balding, flabby, and bitter old man. He hated his job and everyone around him, to the point where his attire reflected that. He wore a crummy old business suit to work, one which was in dire need of repairs. There were holes along the sleeves and it was clear that Henry hadn’t done anything with it in years.

The day went on and on, agitating Henry greatly in the process. After several hours, the line was finally starting to thin. Little by little, the last few wannabe superheroes came and went. After several hours, it looked like Henry’s “shift from hell” was about to end! He packed up his briefcase, making sure to stuff every single document he could into it.

The papers were “superhero bios”, containing all the relevant info on today’s candidates. Much like handing in a resume at potential employer, the bios would be useful in showcasing the heroes’ strengths and weaknesses. Henry stretched his flabby arms in the air, before letting out a deep yawn.

He was ready to go home and relax, but he hadn’t counted on a late arrival. Climbing the stairs to the building was one last hero, one who was an outcast due to his appearance. The creature reached the top of the stairs and strode into the building, causing Henry to instantly take notice.

The being appeared to be anthropomorphic simian. His body was covered in brown unkempt fur, which appeared to shimmer with a strange golden glow. The monkey-man wore an outfit that consisted of golden armor with sheets of red fabric attached to them. Atop his head was a strange golden crown with an oriental design.

The simian creature appeared to be 6 feet tall and had an air of confidence to him. He had a long prehensile tail, one that could stretch and be operated as if it was another limb. The monkey grinned as he stared as the disheveled desk clerk. “I am Sean Waking, but I go by the superhero name of “Monkey Prince!” I’m here to join a super-team!” Exclaimed the simian creature proudly. He snapped his fingers, causing a piece of paper to magically appear in Henry’s hand.

There was an awkward silence between the two, while Henry just stood there and stared at the Superhero Bio that the monkey just hand him.. After several minutes, Henry looked back at the monkey and opened his mouth. He didn’t speak, but rather let out a hysterical laugh at the creature standing before him. Sean was not amused and crossed his hairy arms in dismay. “What’s the problem?” Sean asked, while glaring at Henry.

After a few seconds, Henry composed himself. “Sorry, pal. You’re just not superhero material! You look more like a comedy relief sidekick, or some kind of animal mascot! You’re not fit to be a legitimate member of a superhero team.” Stated the overweight man, while looking at the simian from top to bottom.

“What, so you mean I can’t be a legit member of a super-team because of how I look?” Asked Sean while angrily tapping his hand-like foot against the ground. “Of course! You have to be cool-looking, attractive, or badass to be a superhero! You? You’re more like a rejected action figure design from decades ago! Not even the cool action figures, you’re more like the kind of stuff that would litter the bargain bin at the back of the store.”

Sean huffed at Henry’s response, annoyed by what he was being told. “Look, do you know what kind of power I possess? What kind of skills I have?” Asked the monkey, who was getting increasingly annoyed by Henry’s reactions to his appearance. “Not a clue, but I don’t care. I’m sure it says what your powers are in your bio, but I can assure that nobody cares. A real hero is one who’s appearance is merchandise-able, one who can be played by sexy actors in film adaptations, one who will actually bolster comic book sales! You ain’t none o’ those, pal!”

“So? Why can’t I just be a trendsetter? Why can’t I be drafted by a team and prove myself with my unique powers, rather than be weighed down by what people perceive as “appealing”? Why must I cater to the general audience’s perception?” The inquisitive monkey was starting to get on Henry’s nerves, especially since he had enough of these super-powered losers to last a lifetime. Henry took Sean’s bio and grabbed it with his meaty hands, before tearing it to shreds. Sean looked on in dismay at his destroy resume as the angry facilitator glared back at him.

“Fine, I’ll show you why we only choose superheroes based on looks! Afterwards, I want you to GET LOST! Now, come with me.” Henry then marched off, while motioning for Sean to follow. The simian shrugged his shoulders and did as instructed, following the middle-aged man through the building.

Henry lead the monkey-man into a large hall, one that was covered with tons of pictures. All of the pictures appeared to be of famous superheroes. Amazing heroes like “Carla Cosmos” and “Laser-Face” all had their pictures featured here. These were true heroes, the ones people write countless comics and movies about!

Henry lead Sean to the end of the hall and were met with a single isolated picture at the very back. The framed picture appeared to be in a state of decay, complete with frayed edges and broken glass. The picture wreaked of neglect and looked liked it hadn’t been cleaned in years.

The picture inside the glass appeared to be a superhero made out of red slime. “Who’s that guy?” Asked Sean, who turned to look at Henry. “This LOSER is “Slime-Lord”. He was a professional hero, some may argue the best! He had everything: Comic book adaptations, movies and even crummy fast food joint tie-ins!” Exclaimed Henry with a strong surge of passion in his voice.

“So, what happened to him?” Sean asked while swishing his fuzzy tail around. Henry took a deep breath in and sighed deeply, “Well, his powers went out of control during a space mission. During a massive battle on an alien planet, Slime-Lord began to grow to an uncontrollable size. He turned into a monster and killed at least 20 other heroes. Carla Cosmos was forced to pick him up and throw him into a black-hole just to save the others.”

Sean gasped at the revelation, “I’m sorry to her that. Those people shouldn’t have died at the hands of someone they trusted as an ally.”  Henry scoffed at Sean’s response. “Don’t give me your false sympathy. The only reason those people died was because they put their trust in someone that wasn’t attractive or cool-looking. The greatest tragedy of all time was caused by an ugly superhero who couldn’t control his powers! This is why freaks like you can’t join professional super-teams.”

Sean attempted to say something, but he just couldn’t muster a word. What could he say to convince someone who was so stuck in there own ways? He knew what Henry was saying was misguided, but he just couldn’t debunk it. “If you still want a super-team, then it’s best to make your own. Just don’t come crying to us if you accidentally or purposefully kill everyone.” Henry said, before walking out of the hallway.

Sean sighed and followed Henry silently towards the exit. Henry opened the door and Sean exited the building, still wallowing in self-pity. “Good riddance!” Shouted the angry middle-aged man as he shut the door behind him. Sean wandered around Dyna-Charge City at night, still bummed out by what the STRB worker said.

He held his left monkey-paw in front of his face and stared at the birthmark attached to his palm. This special birthmark was shaped like a monkey and was known as the “Simian Sigil”. This granted Sean both the appearance and powers of The Monkey King, Sun Wukong. Sun was a character from an old Chinese novel who had power to rival the gods.

Sean could only use a portion of Sun’s power at the moment, but it was certainly enough to make him a threat to most super-villains! Still, how could he be a true hero when he looked like this? He had been an outcast his entire life and not even his own parents respected him. That’s when he remembered something he heard long ago from an old friend: “It doesn’t matter how silly you look as long as you get the job done!”

These words of wisdom brought a small smirk to Sean’s face, but it wasn’t enough to break him out of his slump. He needed something more than just a few recollections of encouragement. That’s when Sean heard something that chilled him to the bone: The beating of wings in the air.

This normally wouldn’t be a problem to Sean, but these wing beats were surprisingly loud! He looked up and found that the beating was coming from the wings of a giant flying beast! Said beast had a body covered in shimmering green scales, an extremely long tail, and a pair of pointy horns atop its head. What was flying overhead was unmistakably a dragon!

The dragon was flying towards the forest and Sean knew he couldn’t let this beast get away. He knew that if he followed this dragon and eradicated it, then people would finally acknowledge him as a true hero! With that thought in his head, the monkey took off running and ran towards the flying dragon. Using his enhanced agility and speed, he was able to properly keep up with the flying beast. He followed behind the dragon as the two entered into the darkness of the forest…

The Best Marvel Cartoon Nobody Ever Watched: Silver Surfer

The 90s was a weird time for Marvel comics. Not only was Marvel selling off all the movie rights to their various superheroes to major studios left and right, but they also greenlit several cartoons based off their biggest properties. This lead to the creation of classics like Spider-Man: The Animated Series and X-Men: The Animated Series. These two cartoons gave Marvel a pretty big foothold in television animation, at least in the 90s.

It was at this time that Marvel was trying new things with their cartoons and seeing what worked and what didn’t. For example, we got a decent Iron Man cartoon and a rather lackluster Fantastic Four show. Out of the myriad of Marvel cartoons we got during the 90s though, I don’t think anyone ever expected Silver Surfer to be one of them!

For those of you who don’t know, the Silver Surfer was a semi-popular Marvel Comics character who spun-off from the old Fantastic Four comics. He was once known as “Norrin Radd”, an alien from the distant planet of  “Zenn-La”. After sacrificing his form to the world-eater called “Galactus” in order to save his planet, Norrin becomes Galactus’ herald and searches for new planets for the world-eater to devour.

Bestowed with the title of “Silver Surfer” and phenomenal cosmic powers, our hero eventually breaks free from Galactus’ control and uses his new abilities to help various planets. On paper, a concept like this probably wouldn’t translate well to animated form. However, Saban managed to not only adapt it perfectly, but also make it a truly interesting and engaging show!

What makes it so interesting? Well, let me explain! The Silver Surfer cartoon follows that brief story synopsis I just laid out. After the Surfer escapes the employ of Galactus, he travels through the galaxy to find his home planet and his one true love. This leads into what I love most about the show: It’s exploration of the crazy cosmic stuff Marvel was known for in the 60s-70s!

You see, Marvel’s original depiction of space was eerie and mysterious way back when. It also had a bit of a cheesy nature to it, but it was drawn in such a unique and foreboding way. The beings that dwell within this bizarre space are creepy aliens, powerful cosmic entities beyond our understanding and insane mechanical contraptions with nightmarish designs.

All of this celestial craziness was brought to life by artist Jack Kirby, who injected life into this cosmic void through the use of his iconic art-style. Jack Kirby’s art became synonymous with the first few decades of Marvel Comics’ existence and defined those early generations.

Silver Surfer emulates both Jack Kirby’s art-style and the mysterious nature of space very well! While most modern Marvel shows and movies depict space as something you’d see in Star Wars, Silver Surfer takes a very different route with it. The cartoon embraces the Lovecraftian nature of space depicted in those early comics, while also emulating Jack Kirby’s distinctive art-style.

The film also brought fairly comic-accurate versions of many of Marvel’s oldest characters. For example, Thanos does what he does in service of his Lady, much like in the comics. On top of this, Thanos manages to be a legitimate threat without the use of the Infinity Gems or an army, unlike in the movies!

The show is very accurate to the comics, despite it still taking creative liberties with the source material. Still, it’s one of the closest adaptations to any Marvel comic ever made and it should be applauded for just that alone! This show also has a great art-style, an epic intro, stellar animation, solid voice acting, a good story, and a fantastic story-arc that stretches out throughout the entire series.

You’d think that a show that had all that going for it wouldn’t be cancelled after a single season, but Silver Surfer sadly was. Despite Silver Surfer’s amazing writing and characters, it just couldn’t hold the attention of most 90s kids at the time. It certainly doesn’t help that Marvel went bankrupt around this time, which greatly contributed to the show’s cancellation.

Looking back at it now, I can see why the show was failure. Despite its great animation, it relied too heavily on cell-shaded CGI graphics. The use of dated CGI clashed horribly with the 70s-esque visuals. It probably doesn’t help that the show lacked a lot of the classic mainstay Marvel characters. Classic characters like Spider-Man, The X-Men, The Fantastic Fou,r and The Hulk was nowhere to be seen on this show!

This coupled with the show’s darker direction and lack of comedy made it unappealing to the average 90s kids. It’s a real shame, especially since something like this would’ve been a hit nowadays! I could totally picture a more adult-oriented version of this show airing on Adult Swim or Toonami.

Unfortunately, Silver Surfer is now owned by Disney and it’s extremely doubtful we’ll ever see a newer and darker version of this forgotten show. At the very least, the show is now featured on Disney+ and is accessible to anyone with a subscription. Having experienced the show for the first time ever on this platform, I gotta say it was a real trip!

I feel so bad about never getting to watch this amazing show as a kid. This was something like I had never seen before from the realms of children’s animation. It was a series that played up the strangeness and oddities of space, while giving us a relatable and tragic protagonist. That’s why I can definitely say that this is one of the greatest cartoons ever based off a Marvel comic book!

Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle AKA The Crossover That Nobody Asked For and Everybody Loves

I’m a man who loves a good crossover. Seeing popular characters I love team-up is one of my favorite things in the world! Hell, I can’t tell you how many times I watched that old episode of the 90s Spider-Man cartoon where he met the X-Men. To me, a good crossover is one that makes sense and is something that most people clamor for. However, not all good crossovers follow those guidelines.

For example, Mario + Rabbids is a crossover absolutely NOBODY asked for, yet EVERYBODY loves. This was one of the earliest releases for the Nintendo Switch and it’s one a lot of people seem to enjoy. This is very interesting, especially when you consider the fact that not a lot of people outside of France liked the Rabbids.

To most people, they were just typical annoying mascot rabbits. Heck, a lot of people disliked them even more than the Minions! Still, these weird mutant marshmallow beasts proved popular enough to get several games and a cartoon! This eventually lead to the series crossing over with the extremely popular “Super Mario” series of games!

The game’s story is simple yet interesting. A young inventor’s device is stolen by a group of the titular “Rabbids”, which they use to merge a bunch of stuff together. Through their misuse of the device, they begin to merge the worlds of Mario and Rabbids into one. Mario must then work together with some of the Rabbids to stop the destruction of both worlds. It’s pretty simple stuff, but the writing tends to be miles better than most modern Mario games!

The best way to describe Mario + Rabbids’ gameplay is that it’s “X-Com for kids”. The game plays like a tactical RPG, but pulls in characters from two different kid-friendly game franchises. You play as Mario, his friends and Rabbid versions of them. You get 8 party members in total, all of which have their own strengths and weaknesses. For example, Mario is a good all-around character but doesn’t excel at anything. Another example is that the Rabbid version of Mario is a good melee fighter, but he doesn’t lend himself well to ranged combat.

The game also features typical RPG trappings, like skill trees and many different weapons to equip. This gives you a small degree of customization and it allows you to make certain characters fit different roles. The game’s main loop revolves around you traversing various Mario-themed worlds and fighting bad guys. It’s nothing too out of the ordinary for a Mario RPG, but it still works.

The game’s graphics are amazing and each character has a surprising amount of expressions! The voice-acting is also super solid, but the obnoxious voices for the Rabbids tends to get pretty grating on the ears. Speaking of things that annoy me about this game, I wasn’t a huge fan of the fact that I couldn’t remove Mario from the party and that I always needed to have at least 1 Rabbid in the party with me. This made party customization a bit limited.

The game is also fairly easy most of the time and doesn’t offer much of a challenge, but that’s to be expected from a Mario game. Overall, I enjoyed this game. Sure, it’s easy and party management is fairly limited, but it’s still a solid game! It’s also the perfect length and will usually take the player just about 15 hours to complete. I’d say wait for it to go on sale before buying it though, because it’s not the kind of game that I feel a person should pay full-price for.

Starlink Review: The Game That Just Exists

I’ll be honest with you guys, I LOVE sci-fi games! Put me in space and give me laser guns and I’m almost always guaranteed to have a good time! However, there’s one exception to this rule: Starlink. This was a game I recently bought while it was on sale and while I loved the game, there’s a part of me that just can’t stand certain elements of it.

For those of you who don’t know, Starlink is a sci-fi action RPG focused around piloting space-ships in battle. You choose from one of several ships and pilots and then customize your ship using a ton of different weapons and parts. On the surface, this seems like a good system that works well. In practice, it’s mired with tons of issues! For one thing, the game had a LUDICROUS amount of DLC! There are a ton of weapons, pilots and ships that the game is trying to sell you.

Buying the digital edition of the game nets you 7 pilots, 5 ships and 12 guns. These are enough to both get you through the game and give you a ton of customization options! The problem is that if you want to get really creative and have even more combinations and pilots, then you have to cough up a ton of cash for them. These DLCs aren’t cheap and you’ll be paying an arm and a leg to get your hands on them!

Besides the DLC, the game is also lacking in meaningful content. A lot of the game’s content (and even its final few acts) are built upon repetitive content. Most of the missions are “Go to this planet, kill a Prime!” or “Go into space and fight a Dreadnought!”, stuff like that.

I’d be okay with this if the game had more variety to it. Instead, it’s just a bunch of fetch quests and completing random objectives on all the planets. It doesn’t help that beating the game unlocks even MORE pointless side objectives for you to do. The game does offer an interesting and expansive galaxy to explore, but this lack of unique content prevents me from wanting to check all of it out.

I’d be lying if I didn’t enjoy the combat though. It’s fast and furious while also requiring strategy and planning. That being said, I can see now why this game didn’t sell well at all. There’s just too much busywork and micro-transactions in this title. It’s a shame, because Starlink is what I’d call a “good game”.

It’s got solid combat and great graphics, plus a fantastic crossover with Star Fox on the Nintendo Switch. However, the game’s massive amount of DLC and lack of meaningful side content holds it back. On top of that, Starlink is one of those games with a rather bland and forgettable sci-fi story.

The way I see it, Starlink is just a game that just “exists”. It’s good, but not great. It’s interesting, but not special. Worst of all, it manages to be tedious with its final few acts. I don’t regret my purchase one bit, I just wish this game had more bite to it.

Star Wars Episode IX: The Ultimate Franchise Killer

Star Wars Episode IX releases tomorrow, which I’m not too thrilled about. This film is being advertised as the official ending to the “Skywalker Saga”. Nevermind the fact that we already had TWO DIFFERENT MOVIES (Episode III and Episode VII) that acted as endings to that saga. Regardless, Disney and LucasFilm were hyping this up as being the finale to this decades long story.

Of course, the film has already been trashed by most mainstream review outlets. The film isn’t even available to the public and a lot of people ALREADY hate it! To be honest though, there was no way in hell this film would’ve been good anyways. The last film in the series was a… Divisive film. It was called “The Last Jedi” and is often heralded as being one of the worst Star Wars films ever made.

Fan-favorite characters like Luke Skywalker and Admiral Ackbar end up getting killed unceremoniously, just so the film can prop up its newer and less likable characters as replacements. There’s also an entire sub-plot in the film that serves no purpose to the plot and is just there to say “Rich people are jerks!”, despite the fact that the film was being written and directed by very similar rich jerks. It’s like they were writing themselves, but with zero self-awareness!

Episode VIII was this film that was trying to desperately to be “subversive”, but ended up killing off a majority of Star Wars’ massive fan-base instead! That leads us into this upcoming ninth episode, which supposedly retcons a lot of what happened in the last movie. That’s right, this film has to not only fix the problems with the previous film, but also build an entirely new story-arc around it!

People are already saying that this film feels like an entirely trilogy crammed into a single movie, which results in it feeling rushed as a result. With that being said, the film doesn’t come out until tomorrow. The audience’s reaction could very well be different to that of the critics who watched it. However, I honestly feel that won’t be the case.

People are just too burned out on Disney’s treatment of the Star Wars franchise. After all, they’ve made FOUR whole movies before this in just the span of a few years. As such, this may be the last Star Wars film ever made. There’s no doubt in mind that this film will do poorly, but how poorly will depend on the audience’s general interest.

In short, I feel like this ninth episode is going to end the franchise. It will lose tons of money and kill people’s interest in what was originally one of the most unique sci-fi settings ever made. To see it squandered and turned into something it’s not wounds me, despite not being a big fan of the franchise myself. I’m sure Star Wars will continue on with The Mandalorian and other side projects, but I think the films are done for now.

 

The Legacy of Bomberman

If there’s any genre of video-game that I can’t stand, it would have to be “puzzle” games. These are games that require you to solve puzzles in order to progress, which can definitely be fun for some people. The thing is, I was just never a big fan of them. I always felt puzzles worked best outside the realm of video-games. I always found puzzles boring, which is why video-game puzzles bored me even more.

However, there was one puzzle game series that I actually enjoyed quite a bit. This game series was none other than “Bomberman”, which was one of my favorite games growing up. The game revolved around this marshmallow-like alien/robot named “White Bomber”, who happened to be the titular Bomberman. As White Bomber, you’d go around laying bombs in the general direction of enemies and using the blast to destroy them. You’d also use the explosions to blow up bricks, or use said bricks to pin your enemy so they can’t escape.

It’s a simple yet complex game, mostly due to how later iterations of the game introduce many more rules and power-ups. Bomberman’s simplistic gameplay loop lead to the creation of this amazing franchise that ran for many years. The simple game eventually evolved with the inclusion of multiplayer!

Bomberman’s multiplayer was truly special, mostly because it came at a time when multiplayer wasn’t a huge focus on games. Back in the 80s and 90s, multiplayer was pretty bare-bones for most game franchises. However, Bomberman was one of the first games to have modes SPECIFICALLY designed for multiplayer.

The multiplayer in these games often devolved into an action-packed game of chess. Players would desperately try to blow each other up with bombs and win the match before the timer ran out. As the games went on, the multiplayer became more elaborate and even more features were added in.

This eventually culminated in “Bomberman: Party Edition” for the Playstation 1, which was one of my favorite games growing up. Party Edition added SO MUCH to the original Bomberman formula that it was astounding. The original Bomberman multiplayer was preserved, but featured a ton of creative and colorful characters. Things like Charaboms and environmental hazards made the game feel like a truly grand experience multiplayer experience.

The game also featured a single-player mode designed to mimic the original game, complete with two different graphical styles: The classic 2D style and a new 3D style. The series continued on after Party Edition, getting more and more entries of varying quality. It all came to a crashing halt once “Bomberman: Act Zero” came out.

Act Zero was a poorly made reboot of the classic Bomberman series and nobody really liked it. It probably doesn’t help that the game lacked couch multiplayer and that you could only play with other people online. The game ended up killing the series for a while, resulting in future Bomberman games being released as cheap X-Box Live games.

Many people thought the series was dead, at least until 2017 rolled around. Super Bomberman R was released and it was AMAZING! Sure, it didn’t reinvent the wheel and was yet another reboot of the franchise. However, it was the reboot we needed. It brought back the classic designs, but reinvented the characters with new personalities. The gameplay went back to its roots and brought back couch multiplayer!

Super Bomberman R was what I wanted in an action puzzle game and it managed to return the series back to its former glory. It was nice seeing this series return to the mainstream once more, even if it was a bit on the short side. Bomberman is one of those franchises that’s at its best when it keeps things simple.

While I feel most game franchises should try to innovate or mix things up, I never felt the same way about Bomberman. Whenever Bomberman tried to reinvent the wheel, it always fell on its face. I feel that sometimes a franchise should just do what it does best, instead of trying to be something its not.

The Outer Worlds Review

I’ll be honest, I’m in love with RPGs that invoke a sense of nostalgia. While there are a lot of well-crafted RPGs nowadays, there are few that hearken back to those olden days of RPGs. I’m talking about the good old days, when choices mattered in an RPG. That’s why I LOVE The Outer Worlds! This is Obsidian’s newest RPG in their extremely long catalogue of amazing RPGs.

The Outer Worlds takes you to the Halcyon System and casts you as the captain of an old derelict ship. You are awakened from cryogenic sleep by a mad scientist named Phineas Welles and tasked with saving the galaxy from greedy corporations and the many corrupt lunatics running them. I’m over-simplifying things, of course.

The game actually does flesh out both the characters and the narrative far beyond that premise. A lot of the factions and characters end up feeling more like real people a lot of the time, despite their constant and consistent idiocy/incompetence. As for the game-play, this is where a lot of the fun comes from.

The Outer Worlds is an homage to classic RPGs from years past, namely the Fallout games. I’ve had a lot of people describe this game as “Fallout New Vegas In Space”, which is a bit disingenuous. In fact, the kooky 50s sci-fi elements make it more similar to New Vegas’ third expansion called “Old World Blues”.

Outer Worlds seems to mimic a lot of the charm and game-play elements from that expansion, right due to the inclusion of wacky sci-fi weapons. The game mainly plays like a first-person shooter, but incorporates stats and skills into the mix. As a result, it feels similar to old-school RPGs. You even play as unvoiced protagonist in this game, much like the RPGs of old!

The game puts a heavy emphasis on skills and stats, which is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because it gives you more options on how to play the game, but it’s a curse because it makes the game too easy. You see, several skills (such as hacking and engineering) actually break the game.

For example, you can talk your way out of any problem in the game by maxing out persuasion. It’s also pretty easy to do this early on and it makes it so you never have to fight a named NPC ever again. Couple that with a fairly broken upgrade system and you have a game that gets super easy in a hurry!

The game can even be rather easy on the harder difficulties, which is surprising. Still, the game is solid fun despite this! There are so many ways to approach fights in this game, especially due to the insane amount of weaponry you have at your disposal. You have simple things like grenade launchers and sniper rifles, while also having access to insane weaponry like Shrink Rays and laser-scythes!

The game also look gorgeous, mainly due to its colorful backgrounds and well-designed character models. While some of the facial animations can look fairly awkward, the amazing voice-acting really helps sell you on this game’s cast! The game’s combat is good too, despite it’s simplicity. There’s no real nuance to the combat and it feels identical to New Vegas’ combat at times, but I don’t mind it too much.

All in all, I find The Outer Worlds to be an exceptional game! It’s not perfect and it has a ton of flaws, but it manages to rise above them by being a high quality game. While the combat is simplistic and the game is way too easy, there’s a lot to like about this package. It feels like a good spiritual successor to the old Fallout games and it does enough fresh things to keep my interest! I highly recommend checking The Outer Worlds if you’re big on awesome RPGs like this.

What Happened To Gaming?

This is a question I often ask myself. Don’t get me wrong, I love video-games. I love the virtual experiences that talented developers put out. Not only that, but I adore getting immersed in a truly great and awe-inspiring game! The problem? There are so many bad games out there, a lot of which are made with crummy micro-transactions or are just generally unfinished.

I know that I’m far from the first person to talk about the “decline” in gaming that developed over the past couple years. However, I did want to bring my opinion to the discussion table. After all, I love video-games! However, I’d be lying if I said the medium isn’t eating itself alive right now.

So many games nowadays are just scams. They’re bottomless and unfinished money-pits, while also being chores to play. A good example of this was Fallout 76. Bethesda Softworks hyped this game up to no end! It was supposed to have “16 times the detail” that Fallout 4 had, while also being a persistent online world.

The game came out… And everybody hated it. The game was unfinished and broken, the pre-order bonuses were falsely advertised and incredibly cheap, and it was just overall a crappy product. This is just one of many examples of games that are cheaply made and terrible nowadays.

That’s not even getting into the disastrous launches of Elder Scrolls Online, No Man’s Sky and both Destiny games. However, there are still good games out there. Look at Indie games; that genre is full of hits! You’ve got games like MineCraft, Terraria and Undertale, all of which have a sizable fan-base to this day. Hell, a new and awesome Indie game called “Disco Elysium” just came out! Not only that, but it’s getting nominated for “Best RPG” of the year at the game awards!

That being said, gaming is still in a bad place right now. The problem is that its ruled by the publishers that distribute the games, not the developers who make said games. When you put corporations in charge of things, then problems usually arise. Regardless, there are still plenty of good games coming out, even if they’re sometimes overshadowed by the large amount of filth.

Let’s answer our original question: What happened to gaming? Gaming is still alive and well, it’s just in this rut of most new titles being rushed hack-jobs. That being said, the medium still produces a lot of truly great and amazing games. While I don’t think gaming will ever truly be as good now as it was in the 90s, I can at least appreciate that good stuff is still coming out here or there.

 

The Perfect 90s Anime: GaoGaiGar

Who here digs giant robots? I know I do! Giant robot/mecha anime have been a favorite of mine since I was a child. I grew up enjoying stuff like Mobile Fighter: G Gundam, Robotech, and Megas XLR. However, one mecha anime that I sadly never got to watch until adulthood was “GaoGaiGar”.

This show changed the way I viewed mecha anime. GaoGaiGar was a cheesy and over-the-top giant robot action show! It revolved around Guy, the most powerful cyborg on earth, and his quest to defeat the “Zonders”. The Zonders were a group of powerful robotic aliens who planned to destroy the earth.

Guy worked with GGG, a government agency designed to stop Zonders and similar threats. Guy could also combine with a robot lion and a bunch of other robots to become the powerful and titular “GaoGaiGar”! So, what makes this anime so “perfect”?

To me, what makes GaoGaiGar such a great 90s anime is its characters and world. Most of the characters feel like they’re ripped straight out of older anime from the 70s and 80s. A lot of them are a bit one-note, but they’re developed enough to feel interesting. For example, one of my favorite characters in the series is Guy’s dad, Leo Shishioh.

He’s this wacky mad-scientist character who starts off cliche, but fills a much more important role in the series at it progresses. The supporting cast also fills an important role in the show. All of the “Brave Robots” that join forces with Guy over the series all get their own moments to shine.

GaoGaiGar also does something that most modern kids shows don’t: Have grandiose stakes. Each battle has a lot riding on it in the show’s universe and a lot of the major story-arcs always do their best to top the last. It always feels like the show is building to something grander and more epic with each adventure.

GaoGaiGar is just the perfect mix of everything I love in a 90s anime: Epic adventures, badass battles, cool protagonists, and a constant raising of stakes. A lot of this can be seen as superfluous, but I really dug it back when I used to binge this show. It’s just sad that we’ll probably never get another show as epic as this one.

Samurai Robot Caillou AKA The Obscure Oddity That Is Karakuri Kengouden: Musashi Lord

It’s time to talk about weird and obscure 90s anime again, since that is my specialty! Something I’ve noticed with 90s anime is that they tend to be pretty unique when compared to modern anime. There was a lot more intense action shows, weird comedies, and strange genre fusions back then. Case-and-point: Musashi Lord.

Karakuri Kengouden: Musashi Lord has be one of the weirder obscure anime I’ve seen. The anime is loosely based on the historical Japanese story of ” Miyamoto Musashi”, a legendary swordsman who faces off against his rival, Sasaki Kojiro. The anime differs greatly from its source material, and instead centers itself on a parody of Musashi. The anime revolves around the young Musashi, who is a robotic entity with a dream of becoming “The Number One Swordsman” in his home country of Zipangu.

However, Musashi has a major flaw: He is completely inept. While Musashi is certainly a strong warrior, he lacks any skill and is a complete whiner. After being tied up and humiliated by his hometown for causing a ruckus again, he is freed by his childhood friend. He escapes and encounters another robot named “Kojiro”, who easily beats him in combat.

Musashi is humbled by the defeat, and decides to set off on a quest to become the greatest warrior and defeat Kojiro. Did I also mention that they’re both children and that the show treats robots as if they were just humans as well? Because all of that is definitely here and it makes for a weird package!

Musashi Lord is strange in that it feels like yet another Shonen anime, but it’s weird character details make it stand out. For one thing, Musashi himself is kind of a giant whiner and cry-baby. Heck, he doesn’t even have a real sword for most of the early episodes! In fact, he often fights with a useless wooden sword at the beginning of the series. Musashi eventually gets specially crafted swords made by a master sword-smith… Which are promptly disposed of and replaced in the next story arc.

On top of this, Musahi often stumbles into situations awkwardly and faces consequences for them. For example, the anime has the obligatory “tournament arc” that every anime must have. The twist here is that Musashi is late for the tournament and can’t participate. This is especially frustrating to the young robot, due to him wanting to prove that he’s the strongest warrior in the land.

You’d think that Musashi would just give up, but he’s just too hard-headed to do so. Instead, Musashi tries to BREAK INTO the tournament. This results in him becoming an enemy of the entire country and him being SENTENCED TO DEATH. Yes, an 11 year old character was sentenced to death in a kid-friendly anime for simply interruping a tournament.

However, they save him just in time which leads into the show’s second story arc. You see, the show doesn’t really get much of a plot until after the first 13 episodes. After those early episodes, Hanzo becomes the show’s main villain and our heroes spend most of the series stopping his various plans and trying to take him out. The more episodic beginning of the series definitely helps you appreciate the grander adventures in later episodes.

I think the real appeal of this show comes in its character designs. You see, this world features both humans and robot-like beings. The robots are essentially just humans, since they function in an almost identical fashion to them. They bleed, they get hungry, they have to relieve themselves, and they have emotions. Heck, some of the robots are even show to have HUMAN children!

Aside from rare instances where they acknowledge their robot anatomy, the show tends to shrug off the fact that half the cast are robots. I honestly really like this twist! It adds this level of surreal-ness to a rather basic Shonen action series. Musashi Lord is a show that is sadly forgotten nowadays.

To be fair, it’s not the most unique show out there. It’s still a fun watch though! With all of the episodes up on YouTube with subtitles, it’s easy to watch. If you’re looking for an entertaining and extremely obscure old anime, then give this one a shot! Again, it’s free to watch and it has subtitles! Just be warned that’s it is a pretty dumb and weird show!