No More Heroes: Into The Suda-Verse

Shared universes are not a new concept, especially since they’ve been around since the dawn of modern fiction. Having different fictional works co-exist in the same reality is certainly an interesting idea, one that has sparked the minds of writers for generations. The biggest example of a shared universe is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has been dominating theaters for over a decade now.

Now, you may be asking yourself: “Are there any new shared universes to indulge in?” After all, one may get sick of the constant barrage of formulaic and uninspired shared universes out there. However, by far the most interesting one would have to be Suda 51’s “Kill The Past” series. Suda 51 and his company “Grasshopper Manufacture” have been creating awesome and very weird Japanese games for over 2 decades now.

The “Kill The Past” series has been one of their trademark franchises for years now, while also encompassing most of their released titles. The titles in said series include: Killer 7, Killer Is Dead, an unrelated short story also called “Killer is Dead”, The No More Heroes franchise, Shadows of The Damned, Let It Die, Moonlight Syndrome, Silver Case, 25th Ward, and several others.

Most of said games are kept separate from each other, only containing slight references to each other. For example, there are baseball players from No More Heroes’ city of “Santa Destroy” in Diabolical Pitch. Likewise, the organization of “ISZK” originated in Michigan: Report From Hell, before showing up in several later games.

All of these games had small elements that connected them to each other, but were mostly their own stories in the long-run. This all changed with the release of the newest No More Heroes again, which goes by the name of “Travis Strikes Again”. This was the third game in the No More Heroes series, revolving around the anime-loving assassin named “Travis Touchdown”.

Despite being a sequel to No More Heroes: Desperate Struggles, it acts more as a sequel to all of Suda’s creations. The game focuses on Travis, who’s going through a midlife crisis of sorts. He now lives in a trailer in the woods, while ignoring his newfound family obligations. After being attacked by a new assassin named “Badman”, Travis finds himself once more thrust into a bizarre adventure.

Of course, Travis isn’t the only returning face. Kamui from “25th Ward” shows up to help him during the “Visual Novel” sequences. Travis also bumps into “Mondo Zappa” near the game’s end, while on the quest for more “Death Balls”. The game is full of a ton of these cameos and references, resulting it in feeling like one big crossover!

It’s nice to see all these mostly unconnected stories finally converge, while also setting up potential followups for their individual franchises. I can totally see them doing sequels to Killer Is Dead, Killer 7, and Shadows of The Damned after playing through this game! This isn’t too surprising, due to how much Suda loves these games. Considering how visually and thematically similar a lot of Suda’s games are, it was only a matter of time before they crossed over.

The thing I liked more about this shared universe is the fact that Travis isn’t that welcoming of all these “new” faces. In fact, most of them he distrusts or just doesn’t like. I like this more than other shared universes, where everyone will get along after having known each other for just a couple minutes. I like seeing protagonists who distrust each other, or who suspect each other of being more than they appear.

Considering the fact that most of the characters in these games are extremely flawed individuals with antagonistic aspects, it only makes sense for them to not get along with each other. That being said, Kamui’s interaction with Travis were truly entertaining. It’s nice seeing them form a sort of friendship over the course of the game, especially due to how entertaining their dialogue is.

Travis Strikes Again definitely did the right thing in crossing over all these games, while establishing and referencing the connections between them. I’m looking forward to seeing what Suda 51 and Grasshopper Manufacture will do with their franchises next. It’d be awesome if they continued to expand on this universe, while telling awesome standalone stories!

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The Forgotten Marvel Film: Japanese Spider-Man Movie Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Awesome-ness That Was Sask Expo 2018

Comic Book Conventions are something that will never truly go away. While it’s true that most of them have evolved into all-encompassing “Entertainment Expos”, this doesn’t stop them from being any less fun. I recently attended “Sask Expo 2018”, an Entertainment Expo focused on everything nerdy. I loved the time I spent at the convention, and the things that I did there! While I didn’t take many pictures, allow me to show a few of them here. I’ll also show a few pics of what I bought there as well.

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It’s Super Mario Bros all over again!

Here’s a pic I took with Yoshi The Dinosaur. The guy holding the camera was a friend on Facebook, who was nice enough to take a picture of me hanging out with a dinosaur. I would’ve gotten a selfie, but I prefer having full-body pics. Regardless, the guy in the Yoshi costume was super cool. The guy was awesome, and his suit was pretty much one of the best Yoshi costumes I had ever seen!

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The next three are of the “Ecto-1”, which is a replica of the eponymous vehicle from Ghostbusters. It was really cool seeing it here, even if it wasn’t the original car from the movie. The things they added onto it (such as the statue of “Slimer” atop it) really give it a unique flair.

The guys running the Ghostbusters booth were also pretty nice. They had an awesome offer going on, where you could wear the Ghostbusters suit in a photo with both the car and them. It cost 10 bucks, which is a bit pricey. The did donate all the proceeds to charity, which made the price worth it in my opinion. Photos of the car itself were free though, allowing me to take several pics of this beautiful vehicle.

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Finally, here are my acquisitions! First up is volume 1 of the 2016 Darkwing Duck comic. I actually bought this from the artist of the comic, who was nice enough to sign it. The comic serves as sequel to both the TV show, the Disney Adventures comics, and the Boom Comics imprint of Darkwing Duck.

I spotted this little beauty when walking through the “Artist’s Alley” with a friend, and caught sight of it out of the corner of my eye. I grew up loving Darkwing Duck, so this was an instant buy for me. I read through the book in one day, and loved everything about it! I’ll save my full opinions on it for a later date, so stay tuned for the full review!

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Here’s another purchase I made, a 3DS game called “Rune Factory 4”. I had heard many good things about the series, and have always been curious about the franchise. After playing through Fantasy Life and Ever Oasis, I developed a taste for life-simulation/RPG hybrid games. So when I saw this, I just knew I had to have it.

I was originally looking for a copy of the old Megaman Starforce games for DS, but I couldn’t find any. I made an executive decision, and decided to finally try Rune Factory. I’m less than an hour into the game, so I can’t give a fully informed opinion of it yet. All I can say for now is that I’m enjoying it a lot.20180916_200748

Here is the last thing I got: Marvel’s Secret Invasion. I never actually read this book until now, and I gotta say it’s pretty solid! It involves Marvel’s superheroes going toe-to-toe with the shapeshifting aliens known as the “Skrulls”. The art is fantastic, along with the fake ads shoved into certain parts of the book. Overall, it’s a great book, and I’ll be sure to talk more about it in a full-on review!

Well, that covers Sask Expo. I probably should’ve taken more pics, but I doubt I’d be able to fit them all on my phone. For the 2019 one, I will definitely make space in my phone for more photos. In short, my experience was Sask Expo 2018 was amazing. Hope you all enjoyed what I shared, and have a great day!

I’m A Published Writer Now!

Good news, everyone! As of late week, I am now officially a published writer. I wrote an article on Star Phoenix about Asperger’s and my experiences living with it. The link to it is on my “Info About Me” page, but I’ll also link it here as well. I’m pretty proud of it and how it turned out and I’m glad Star Phoenix decided to run my story. Without further adieu, here it is!

New Discord Channel + Top 20 PS Vita Games

Hi guys! I thought I’d mention that I have a Twitter page, that I’ve started to use more lately. In the past, I hadn’t really used it all that much. So, I thought I’d start using it more and more recently I’ll be sure to embed my Twitter onto my blog, so you can all check it out. Also, I now have a Discord page:

https://discord.gg/XswH76z

The invite is open to anyone, so if you want to be part of a Discord group just starting out, feel free to join. We’ll discuss comics, video-games, movies, or just stuff in real-life. There’s a sub-chat in there as well for PS Vita games, which segue-ways into another announcement. As my year-end project, I’m doing a top 20 Vita game list. I already have the list constructed, but I’m looking for honorable mentions.

Have any Vita games you’d like to see me talk about? Be sure to message me in this chat and let me know, maybe I’ll even include it in there! Again, the Discord chat is open to everyone. I’ll be sure to write out some rules in time, once there are enough people there to facilitate having an extensive rule list. For now, these are the rules I have set in place:

  1. No Roleplaying/ RPing
  2. No drama or attacks on other users
  3. Be respectful of other people’s personal spaces

I’ll probably add more as the group gets bigger. Anywho, that’s all I wanted to say for now. Have a good, and hope to see you in the chat!

My First Published Credit!

Good news, everyone! In about a week or two, I will be a published writer. My local newspaper agreed to publish an article I wrote about Asperger’s, and my experiences with it. I will link to the article once it is made available, so anyone who’s interested can read it. I’m honestly very excited about this, since many an hour went into it!

It was one of the projects that I feel really encapsulated me as a writer, and I hope it can inspire the many people who read it. I hope to continue getting more works published and even become a Freelance writer one day! Writing is something I am passionate about, something I feel I excel at. There’s always room for improvement, there’s no doubt about that. I look to keep improving and continue to put out well-written reviews, essays, and short stories. Thank you all for you continued support and have a great day!

That Sailor Moon Thanksgiving Marathon No One Ever Talks About

As much as I love the shows of the 90s, I’ll admit that not everything about them was perfect. While people like to look back at how great animation was in the 90s, we did have several stinkers. I think a good example of this was the localization of the cult classic Sailor Moon anime.

I liked this show in a “guilty pleasure” sort of way. Sailor Moon was an action show, and at the time I was all about those kinds of shows. I grew up on Arthur and The Knights of Justice, Power Rangers, and Spiderman: The Animated Series, so this seemed right up my alley.

What I got from this show wasn’t what I was expecting at all. The characters had all these American names, despite supposedly living in Japan. Not only that, but a ton of the darker elements were cut out of the broadcast. They turned a semi-dark and action-packed series into a rather toned back comedy aimed for kids, stripping away all that made it unique.

In all honesty, I’m not really a fan of the original Japanese versions of anime. If an English version exists, I’ll watch that instead. I don’t know if I could really suffer through the original English dub of Sailor Moon again, it was torture enough the first time! I mean, was “Sailor Moon Says” really a necessary addition to the show?

If I ever watch this series again, I’ll probably stick to the re-dub they did a few years back. That version sounds far more professional! If you thought the dub was bad, then you probably haven’t heard about something far: The Sailor Moon Thanksgiving Marathon. What is this marathon? Well, let me tell ya!

Around the mid-to-late 90s, DIC Entertainment was looking to cash-in on the Sailor Moon craze. Despite their dub being pretty awful, it was popular enough to garner a massive fan-base here in America. DIC wanted to create a live-action film based on Sailor Moon, despite American films based off anime usually doing bad in the box-office.

Of course, you can’t just rush into a live-action endeavor such as this. Budgeting for a film of this caliber would probably be expensive, so you’d have to test the waters first. That’s where this Thanksgiving marathon comes into play. In 1996, a weekend-long marathon of the first season of Sailor Moon was held. Normally, a marathon of something animated wouldn’t garner attention at all.

However, this special had a little something “unique” attached to it. Before the marathon and between commercials, we had live-action segments of an actress in a Sailor Moon costume. This actress was Tia Browsh, who actually regrets taking part in this terrible special. She was just a teenage actress looking for work at the time, and playing a live-action version of a popular animated character seemed like the big break she needed.

You can tell that she was certainly trying, despite the ludicrous role she was given. She was dressed as a character that was specifically designed for Japanese audiences, so the outfit she was given didn’t translate well to American television. The outfit itself was of very shoddy quality, especially those god awful hair-buns.

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I am not a huge fan of the show’s new art-style. Yeah, I know it’s closer to the manga, but I’m just not big on it.

Despite this, Tia managed to do a fairly faithful recreation of Sailor Moon’s English voice. Unfortunately, her facial expressions weren’t as spot-on. She kept eyeing up the camera as if she was going to devour it, which would make sense considering the character she’s playing.

While Tia was definitely trying her hardest, she could not save this train-wreck. The awkwardly written dialogue, combined with the horrible outfit, and the bland backgrounds just made me want to vomit. I get the feeling that this would’ve worked better as a Halloween special, considering how much of a horror show these shorts turned out to be.

By the end of this travesty, DIC got their answer on if people would want to see a live-action Sailor Moon movie. The answer was what you’d expect: A big fat “no”. Few people enjoyed the live-action segments, and others wrote in with angry letters. Years later, Tia would apologize for the special. Honestly, I legitimately feel bad for her. It wasn’t her fault that these segments were terrible, she was just doing her job.

I can’t honestly hate these segments, especially due to the amount of effort Tia was putting in. As atrocious as they are, at least the acting was decent. Would I watch it again? Probably not. Still, I think these segments are worth watching, because they form such a perfect time capsule of Sailor Moon’s popularity in the 90s.

Sadly, Tia’s career never really got off the ground. According to IMDB, she was an assistant in the second Austin Powers film, and had a bit part in a low-budget film from the mid-2000s. Now, this page may be for a different Tia, which wouldn’t surprise me considering how they don’t mention Sailor Moon at all in the article.

Speaking of movies, we never did get that live-action Sailor Moon movie. It was probably for the best, considering how these little commercials between breaks didn’t go over well. As fun as it is seeing a live-action Sailor Moon answer questions, it just did not work well at all.

Now, what would the Sailor Moon movie have been about? I have no clue on that. Little information on it exists, beyond Tia saying that DIC was interested in doing it. I’ve read a few articles that mentioned it, but never what the plot would’ve been. Regardless, we eventually did get another Sailor Moon Adaptation: A Japanese television reboot. I’ll save the discussion on that for another day though. For now, I need a palette cleanser. Perhaps I’ll watch some Ronin Warriors…

Is Monster Hunter Stories Worth Getting?

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This is without the most colorful box-art I’ve ever seen for a Monster Hunter game!

In about a month or two, a new Monster Hunter game (or new to the West, at least) will be hitting store shelves. This game is known as “Monster Hunter Stories”. This game marks a large departure from the classic Monster Hunter formula. In this spinoff game, you actually befriend the monsters and can fight alongside them. In most other Monster Hunter game, you are often slaying the monsters as opposed to working alongside them.

Stories managed to change the more action-oriented combat, into a more turn-based one. Now, I still have yet to play Stories. It’s not coming out in America until next month, which is why I plan to pick it up. While the game looks to be a clone of Pokemon, still want to give it a shot. I’ve been playing a lot of Pokemon-styled games of late. While I can’t stand the original Pokemon series much anymore, I can still enjoy the games that use the same style of gameplay.

So, with Stories I’m definitely excited. I love the idea of being able to ride a dragon through the sky, and explore a larger more open-world. I’ve always been a big fan of Monster Hunter, so seeing them tackle an entirely different sub-genre is definitely interesting.

It’s been a year since I’ve played anything Monster Hunter related, so it’s gonna be fun to get back into the game. I hope that everyone gets into the game as well, so we can tell Capcom we want more Monster Hunter games like this! Once I get my hands on the game, I’ll probably get around to watching the anime adaptation as well. Emphasis on “probably”.

The Return of Cartoon Network’s FusionFall

I’ve made it no secret that I love cartoons! Despite not growing up with Cartoon Network, I grew up with all the various shows that the channel created.  I’m talking Cow & Chicken, Sheep In The Big City, Ben 10, Samurai Jack, and many others. For some reason or another, I was never super interested in a particular game that managed to merge all these universes together: Cartoon Network’s FusionFall.

This is an MMORPG that focused on delivering anime-styled versions of your favorite CN characters, and also putting you into the shoes of your own custom character. Combine this with simple, yet entertaining gameplay and you have a truly solid experience. Sadly, the game was shut down back in 2011.

However, in recent years their has been an attempt to bring it back with “FusionFall Legacy” and “FusionFall Retro”. Retro is the original client for the game, re-purposed to be playable on a private server. This allows people who have never played the original, or those who want to play it again, to be able to experience it again. Meanwhile, Legacy is meant to be an enhanced version with a ton of new improvements and features.

Retro itself is actually coming out tonight… Supposedly. It’s action past midnight where I am and the server still hasn’t opened. This doesn’t bother me that much, since I have yet to actually touch the game. I’d be willing to wait months, as long as I finally get to play this game.

Unfortunately, not everyone has the same mindset. The FusionFall forum is in “maintenance mode”, right on the Eve of the server’s release. I’m not sure why this is, though it could be because of the rabid nature of the fan-base demanding the release right away. I’m not saying all the fandom is like that, but several of the comments I’ve read on that forum tell me that a lot of these individuals are a little too hyped over this server. Then again, the forum itself could just be having issues.

It’s okay to be excited, but I think some of the more hardcore fans need to lay off the guys making the server. After all, it’s a difficult and arduous task to make a private server run again, especially for free. Regardless, I’m still looking forward to eventually playing this game. I hope to see you all there!

My Favorite Series of Commercials Ever: OnStar’s Batman

It’s that time of year again, the time when we get yet another Batman film! Well, Justice League won’t be just a Batman film, but feature a wide number of superheroes. However, Batman will be a huge selling point of the film, without a doubt. In fact, Batman can pretty much sell any product. Want some proof? Well, this fictional superhero once managed to sell everyone on OnStar!

What’s OnStar? It’s a special hands-free calling service, that also offers turn-by-turn navigation. OnStar is a service that is still used today, though it’s more of a novelty now than it was back then. So, what made OnStar into a big name? It comes down to their first major advertising campaign, I’m talking about the Batman commercials!

The Batman commercials for OnStar were fairly unique, utilizing a lot of elements from the Batman movies. They forcused on Batman fighting crime, while at the same time making good use of the features that come with OnStar. The idea of Batman being able to make use of something as basic as OnStar was an interesting idea. Just having Batman in these commercials is selling point on its own.

What sets these commercials apart from other Batman commercials at the time was the amount of sets and costumes used from the films. Despite using an entirely new cast, (with the exception of Alfred who is still played by Michael Gough) these commercials managed to cast a ton of really good substitutes. The commercials take elements from both the 60s show and Tim Burton films. The guy they got playing Joker in these commercials reminds me a whole lot of the late great Caeser Romero.

Batman using OnStar was a silly concept, especially due to the fact that Batman would never need such a device. Still, the commercials were entertaining enough to sell millions of OnStar devices. What was a relatively unknown product at the time, quickly became a household name. There was even a contest held, as a sort of cross-promotion with OnStar.

The winner of said contest would be featured in the next Batman film. I even had a 10 cent Batman comic that I got at an event advertising said contest. So, who won? I have no clue. I don’t even know if that person got the promised cameo in Batman Begins, which was the Batman film that the contest was supposedly advertising for.

While the commercials were pretty badass back in the day, I wish more had been done with all the costumes and props they had borrowed from the films. It feels like a bit of a waste that they were only used for a few movies and a couple commercials, since some of them were really well put-together.

So yeah, those are my thoughts on this series of decade old commercials. They are fun little time-wasters with extremely over-inflated budgets. They sold what they intended to and were entertaining, but not much beyond. I’m still hoping that these props and costumes are still around somewhere, waiting to be utilized in some new Batman project. Even if that isn’t the case, at least we got some old awesome commercials out of it.