Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Press Start: Top Ten Anticipated Games of 2016

Unless stated otherwise, all pictures are from Wikipedia.

2015 has come and gone, and I think it’ll be remembered as a mixed year. Sure, we got some truly great games, but many big name releases fell flat or failed to meet some basic expectations. For every Splatoon, there was a Star Wars Battlefront. Fortunately, 2016 is shaping up to be much better. With tons of big names like Street Fighter and Uncharted, as well as new IPs like Battleborn and Horizon Zero Dawn, 2016 is looking to have some massive payoff. This list is dedicated to the ten games I’m looking forward to the most. Keep in mind, this is my opinion, and you won’t be seeing a ton of big name games on here. With that said, let’s get started.

Note: All release dates are for the North American releases.

#10: Project X Zone 2

Publisher: Bandai Namco
Platform: 3DS
Release Date: February 16

I know I’m in the minority here, but I really enjoyed Project X Zone. True, it had many problems, but I thought it was an entertaining love letter to hardcore fans of Bamco, Capcom, and Sega. So of course I’m looking forward to the sequel. PXZ2 is shaping up to be bigger and badder than its predecessor, bringing characters such as Vergil (Devil May Cry), Phoenix Wright (Ace Attorney), Axel (Streets of Rage), and even several Nintendo characters. On top of that, the game is going to feature customization options for both paired and solo units, as well as a shop that can be accessed in between battles. The game looks like a major improvement from the last one, but still retains that “love letter” type feel, which makes a winner in my book.

#9: Digimon Story- Cyber Sleuth

Publisher: Bandai Namco
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
Release Date: February 2

I only have a passing familiarity with Digimon, but I really admire the franchise’s creative spirit and Energizer-like like ability to remain active. However, I adore both Digimon Dawn/Dusk and Digimon World 3, so I’m really excited to see a full fledged Digimon adventure coming to the west. I’m not expecting much from the story, but just the fact that the game comes packing traditional dungeon crawling Digimon goodness makes me happy. It also helps that it’s a turn-based RPG in an era where they are few and far between. This game may not be at the top of my wishlist, but it’s near the top of the games I’m getting when I get my hands on a PS4.

#8: Yooka-Laylee

Publisher: Playtonic Games, Team17
Platforms: Windows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U
Release Date: October

Banjo-Kazooie is one of my favorite games of all time. It has a sense of pure fun that few platformers have matched. So I’m really looking forward to Banjo’s spiritual successor coming from the same people who made the original: Yooka-Laylee. This game looks every bit as fun as Banjo-Kazooie, which is great news in and of itself. With vibrant colors and delightfully silly designs, it looks to be every bit as wacky and fun as the adventures of the bear and the bird. It’s also a 3D platformer in an era where they have all but died out. Yooka-Laylee is looking to be a nostalgic, cartoonishly good fun, and I hope it paves the way to a new wave of 3D platformers for the future.

#7: Star Fox Zero

Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: Wii U
Release Date: April 22

Star Fox Zero is one of several games that was slated for 2015 that got pushed back a year. And while I was disappointed when Star Fox Zero was delayed, my excitement for the game has not waned. A return to the vehicle based shoot-em-up action is exactly what Star Fox needed. And yes, the graphics leave a lot to be desired, but the improvements made to the fluidity of gameplay as well as the number of enemies present. Not to mention that the various vehicles and their alternate forms all look very fun to play as. Star Fox Zero looks like a much needed update in a series that’s been MIA for far too long, and I anticipate its return.

#6: Ni-Oh

Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Platform: PlayStation 4
Release Date: TBA 2016

You know what’s cool? Samurais. You know what else is cool? Dark Souls-style, brutally hard combat. Put them together and you get Ni-Oh. Taking cues from both the Onimusha series and the Souls franchise, Ni-Oh is a dark and brutal action RPG set in 16th century Japan. Staring a mix-raced samurai, you slice your way through enemies in flashy, savage ways with the various weapons and spells at your disposal. With a great visual style and rewarding-looking combat, this game both panders to my inner weeaboo and my thirst for a stylish and hard hack and slash. This is my number three reason I’m getting a PS4 in 2016.

#5: Mario and Luigi- Paper Jam
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: 3DS
Release Date: January 22

The Mario and Luigi series is home to games with a boatload of charm and addicting gameplay. Its games are usually fantastic, and I look forward to every new installment. Paper Jam is no exception, but this time the new gimmick has me really excited. In this installment, the legendary brothers team up with Mario’s 2D counterpart from the Paper Mario series. A crossover between the two big Mario RPG franchises alone is great enough, but the game actively tries to tie in elements of both series in both its combat and puzzles. This looks to be the best Mario and Luigi game yet, as it’s brimming with the series’ charm as well as its great concept.

#4: Battleborn

Publisher: 2K Games
Platforms: Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Release Date: May 3

Battleborn was originally slated for 2015, and I was disappointed to learn that it had to be pushed back. However, after viewing several gameplay videos, my excitement for the game has not waned in the slightest. Battleborn looks to be every bit as outlandish and intense as the Borderlands games. Bursting with action and personality, this MOBA-like shooter looks to be some of the most fun you can have with a multiplayer driven game. This game is my number two reason I’m getting a PS4 in 2016 thanks to its hectic and colorful fun, and I look forward to dishing out punishment as Caldarius and Benedict.

#3: Dragon Quest VII and VIII
Source: Nintendo Everything

Publisher: Square Enix/Nintendo
Platform: 3DS
Release Date: TBA 2016

For the longest time, it appeared certain that the Dragon Quest remakes would never make it to the west. And now that they are, I cannot wait. Not only has VII gotten a much needed graphical facelift, but tons of new content was added to VIII, including two new party members. Both games bring classic Dragon Quest titles to the 3DS, promising huge adventures to carry with you wherever you go. As a Dragon Quest fan, it makes me very happy to see two magnificent titles finally come to the west, and I can’t wait to experience them again.

#2: Fire Emblem Fates

Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: 3DS
Release Date: February 19

Fire Emblem is one of my favorite franchises, and I am ecstatic that Fates is finally coming to the west in early 2016. Fates involves a branching storyline, where you can either side with the Japanese-influenced Hoshido in Birthright or the European-influenced Nohr in Conquest. Each side offers a unique experience. For example, Birthright includes a world map and chances to engage with wandering armies, and Conquest have stronger enemies to fight. Top that off with vastly improved combat animations, and you have a game I plan on getting the moment it comes out.

#1: Ratchet and Clank

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform: PlayStation 4
Release Date: April 12

Much like Star Fox and Battleborn, I was disappointed when Ratchet and Clank was delayed. However, after seeing new gameplay videos, I can say with certainty that no other game in 2016 can distract me from this game. It has everything that makes the series as great as it is, and looks gorgeous to boot. It has the same great weaponry the series is known for, and I am very interested in where the creator’s will go with this new universe. Ratchet and Clank is hands down my most anticipated title for 2016, both because I’m a huge fan of the franchise, and because what they’ve shown me has truly impressed me.

Honorable Mentions
Genei Ibun Roku #FE
Horizon Zero Dawn
Nights of Azure
Pokken Tournament

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Press Start: Top Fifteen Ratchet and Clank Weapons

Note: All pictures in this post are from the Ratchet and Clank wiki.

In case it wasn’t obvious already, I love Ratchet and Clank. I love its personality, I love its creativity, but best of all, I love its gameplay. The games gives you plenty of tools to destroy your enemies and save the universe. The weapons of Ratchet and Clank are some of the craziest conceived in gaming, and many are tons of fun to use. So as a tribute to my favorite video game franchise, I’ll be listing my fifteen favorite weapons from the series. I’ll be ranking them based on their utility, their creativity, how fun they are to use, and how they fare in battle. Only two rules: only weapons from games I’ve played, and no RYNO or RYNO-like weapons (otherwise this list would be nothing but RYNO weapons). Let’s get started!

#15- Shield Charger

Even if you’re a veteran Ratchet and Clank player, you’ll eventually get hit by an enemy attack. It’s unavoidable. Fortunately, several games include a weapon that can produce shields. My favorite would have to be the Shield Charger from Going Commando. It creates an energy barrier around Ratchet that absorbs incoming fire. It’s a great safety net, especially if you’re going into a heavy firefight. The main problem with the Shield Charger is that while it does have an offensive component (the barrier can damage enemies if they come into physical contact with it), it’s negligible for most foes, and it's the only way to level up the weapon. Still, the sheer utility of the Shield Charger makes it one of the best weapons in the series.

#14- Netherbeast

Into the Nexus may be the shortest console Ratchet and Clank game, but it had one hell of an arsenal. Nearly every weapon was viable to some degree, and most were very fun to use. One of my favorite weapons from the game was the Netherbeast, a glove weapon that allows you to use a tamed Nether (an interdimensional monster) to pulverize enemies. Each time Rachet punches, the Nether cuts a destructive swath through the enemies in front of you. The Netherbeast is a very fun weapon to use, and has a great premise, but it’s lacks the utility some of the other weapons on this has. Still, can’t go wrong with a scary interdimensional attack dog, now can you?

#13- Scorpion Flail

Deadlocked is a different than most Ratchet and Clank games in the sense that it's much more action oriented than its kin. Firefights are more frequent and intense, and the overall feeling of the game is much faster in comparison to other games in the series. So you’d think a weapon that anchors you in place when you fire it would be terrible, but instead it’s the best weapon in the game. The Scorpion Flail is a melee weapon that creates a massive shockwave when it makes contact with the ground. It is one of the most destructive weapons in the game, especially with the shock modification equipped that zaps any nearby enemy. In terms of raw destructive power, few weapons come close to the Scorpion Flail. If it wasn’t for the fact that it's a melee weapon in a game with tons of hectic firefights, it would be much higher on the list.

#12- Nether Blades

Disk blade weapons in Ratchet and Clank are similar to blaster weapons in the sense that they have high ammo capacity and good range, but do low damage. However, the disks fired from these weapons can ricochet off of enemies and hit other enemies on the rebound, making them ideal for clearing out dense packs of enemies. The Nether Blades exemplifies this the best, as it can clear through enemy groups better than any weapon from Into the Nexus. It can even be upgraded so that every blade will split in two on contact. The Nether Blades also have a cool design that complements the rest of the game very well. This weapon is very versatile thanks to its ricocheting blades and long range, and is the crowd clearer for Into the Nexus.

#11- Spiral of Death

I present to you the most kickass boomerang-like weapon in existence. Originating from A Crack in Time, the Spiral of Death is one of four weapons Ratchet can win in the Argorian Battleplex. The Spiral of Death fires an energy-charged buzzsaw that slashes enemies before returning to Ratchet. Mobility is key to wielding this weapon, as strafing while firing the weapon allows the player to steer the buzzsaw. The weapon is fairly powerful in its own right, but the sheer fun factor and concept of the weapon makes it’s turns an otherwise good weapon into a great one. In terms of heavy firepower, the Negotiator is better, but in terms of fun, the Spiral of Death beats it by a mile.

#10- Constructo Shotgun

A Crack in Time has several mechanics that made it stand out from the other entries in the series, one of which was the three Constructo weapons. These weapons could be customized by collecting upgrade kits scattered throughout the game. The Constructo Shotgun was my favorite, as the versatility this weapon possesses is phenomenal. Normally, I dislike the shotgun weapons in Ratchet and Clank for peaking too early, but in the Constructo Shotgun’s case, it remains invaluable throughout the game thanks for its high degree of customizability. Whether you want a heavy duty mid-range weapon or a crowd clearer, the Constructo Shotgun has you covered.

#9- Mag-Net Launcher

While Ratchet and Clank has several weapon types it uses in most installment: flamethrowers, rocket launchers, grenades, and so on. But every game has a handful of unique weapons that really stand out. The Mag-Net Launcher fires an electrical net that traps and electrocutes the enemy. The Mag-Net may not be the the most powerful weapon in either Tools of Destruction or A Crack in Time, but it serves some very useful purposes. You can use the Mag-Net to immobilize an enemy and concentrate fire on another enemy, or you can stun them long enough to finish them off with a heavier weapon. The Mag-Net Launcher is a great strategic weapon in an arsenal filled with straightforward “point and shoot” weapons.

#8- Tesla Claw

Weapons that utilize electricity in the Ratchet and Clank are pretty common, but the first one is the very best. From the original comes the Tesla Claw, a weapon that fires a stream of electricity that automatically seeks out enemies. Once it’s done with one enemy, it moves on to the next one. This makes the Tesla Claw an ideal crowd clearer, and a great all-around mid range weapon. It may be the second most expensive weapon in the whole game after the RYNO, but it’s worth every bolt. Without it, the fight with Drek becomes astronomically harder. The Tesla Claw is a truly great weapon, and comes in handy in nearly every situation.

#7- Mr. Zurkon

Sometimes in a firefight, you need a little extra supporting fire. And while the Miniturret Glove is a fantastic weapon, I prefer Mr. Zurkon. This hovering robot provides covering fire on other enemies while you can focus on other ones. Or better yet, he could provide extra fire while fighting a single big enemy. But the greatest part about Mr. Zurkon is his catalog of hilarious quotes, including:
  • "Ha ha! Mr. Zurkon requires no nanotech to survive. Mr. Zurkon lives on fear!"
  • "Mr Zurkon does not believe in shoot first, ask questions later. Asking questions is stupid."
  • "Mr. Zurkon will read your fortune. Your fortune reads "death by Mr. Zurkon"."
  • "Mr. Zurkon does not discriminate. Mr. Zurkon hates all life forms equally."
Mr. Zurkon is a weapon with a personality, and provides great covering fire. This combination makes for a welcome addition to Ratchet’s arsenal.

#6- Visibomb Gun

Want a weapon that allows you to steer your missiles? The original has you covered. The Visibomb Gun fires rockets that allows you to direct them as they fly. Not only does this weapon have the best range of any weapon in the original, but it also has the highest damage output per rocket in the game. This means that one Visibomb missile can destroy tanks, hoverships, and just about any heavy enemy in the game. Not only is the Visibomb Gun very powerful, it's very fun to use. For a long time, it was a my favorite weapon from the original until a recent playthrough. Still, it’s power and fun factor lands it just shy of the top 5.

#5- Plasma Striker

Sniping weapons in the Ratchet and Clank series are always some of my favorites, since they come with great range, high firepower, and cool designs. The best sniping weapon in the series is the crossbow styled Plasma Striker. Not only does it provide amazing range and sniping capabilities, but it also rewards you for being a good sniper. The Plasma Striker’s scope displays weak points of enemies, and if you hit them, you do far more damage. Combine this with an upgrade that slows down time as you aim, and you have the best sniping weapon in all of Ratchet and Clank.

#4- Winterizer

Each Ratchet and Clank game has a morphing weapon; a weapon that turns the enemy into something ridiculous. The original had one that turned enemies into chickens, Going Commando had one that turned enemies into sheep, and Into the Nexus has my favorite: a weapon that turns enemies into snowmen. All while playing Jingle Bells. Not only is the Winterizer a hilarious weapon, it's an effective one. It can be upgraded to have a crazy range, and its damage output is pretty impressive. Not to mention it can slow down enemies as they’re taking damage. The Winterizer is the best morpher in the entire series, and it’s an amazing mix of fun and utility.

#3- Devastator

Rocket launchers in the Ratchet and Clank don’t offer a lot of variety, since most function the same. However, the best rocket launcher turns out to be one of the best weapons in the entire series. From the original comes the Devastator, a rocket launcher with tracking capabilities. Combining that with ridiculously long range and impressive damage output, the Devastator is one of the most useful weapons in the series. Seriously, you can practically snipe with this weapon. It’s ludicrously awesome. In terms of pure utility, no rocket launcher beats the OG.

#2- Bouncer

Want a weapon that’s fun and practical at the same time? The Bouncer is the second best example of this. The Bouncer fires a large bomb that, after it explodes, releases a small swarm of bouncing bomblets. The bomblets also have homing capabilities, causing them to bounce towards nearby enemies. This is hands down the best crowd-clearer in the franchise, as the bomblets can clear packs of enemies faster than anything in your arsenal. It also chews up heavy enemies, as all the bomblets can hone in on a single target. This makes it one of the most effective weapons in the franchise, and watching the chaos caused by the bomblets is very satisfying. If it wasn’t for the next weapon on this list, it would easily be my favorite.

#1- Rift Inducer

This weapon is the epitome of “fun but functional”. The Rift Inducer from Up Your Arsenal literally fires small black holes that suck your enemies into an unknown dimension. This weapon may not be able to exist in real life (the black hole would destroy the planet you’re fighting on), but it's fun as all hell to use. Watching waves of enemies being sucked into a void is very satisfying, and sometimes even hilarious. It also helps that it can clear out clusters of enemies when the black hole is fired into the crowd. Combining a ridiculously awesome premise with functionality and fun factor, the Rift Inducer is the best weapon Ratchet and Clank has to offer.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Liberal Rant: The Government We Deserve

I’m just as surprised as anyone that Donald Trump is doing as well as he is doing. It’s baffling; despite who he is, what he does, and what he says, he consistently places first in primary polls everywhere. Often by double digits, no less. It may be because I’m a business hating liberal, but no one should be looking at Trump and think, “yeah, that guy should be the most powerful man in the free world.” And yet millions of Americans are.

But this isn’t another editorial about how Trump is a terrible candidate, because honestly, all slavoes against Trump make him stronger. Actually, I’d like to open by talking about the Republican consistently placing second in these polls: Ben Carson.

Ben Carson shares a lot of positions with your typical modern Republican, and on paper he seems like a good choice for the Republican nominee. Then he opens his mouth. He got some weird looks for saying that the Affordable Care Act was the worst thing since slavery. He’s gotten a lot of flak recently for saying that a Muslim should never be president because of Sharia Law. He even went as far as to cite prison rape as indisputable evidence that being gay is a choice. Carson may speak softer than Trump, but he carries a much wackier stick.

But the worst part about Carson is the support he enjoys. That comment about Muslims he made? That got him the admiration of many on the right. When people got justifiably angry about his remark, they jumped to his defense saying that the rest of America is just too politically correct. Hell, his campaign is now raising more money than ever since his remarks. Just how Trump’s popularity baffles me, it also baffles me that a blatant discriminatory remark would earn admiration.

Carson is of course getting flak for what he said, but the fact that he’s winning supporters due to this should not be the case. Yet he’s constantly second in polls across the nation.

This is what our political landscape has become; where people clearly not fit for governance are met with roaring cheers from a significant part of the populous, and where anyone actually fit is shoved to the side, or worse, is jeered into submission. And we deserve it.

The state of the Republican primary, the state of our government, and the state of our political landscape has been pinned on many things. But one thing that must be accepted is that voters brought it on themselves. At the end of the day, it was their choice to put these destructive, polarizing politicians into office. It was they who voted for men and women who proudly ran on a platform of not compromising and tearing down the government. They were chosen precisely because they had no experience, as if that was an admirable quality. People have no right to be shocked or angry about how our officials are tearing apart the government.

It’s easy to blame something else. Many people blame the disproportionate (and admittedly unfair) influence the wealthy that has been exacerbated by Citizen’s United. And it's true that their money has bought a good deal of airwaves, allowing them to control the message. It’s also true that their money help shape legislative agendas through campaign contributions and lobbying. But at the end of the day, the wealthy cannot buy a person’s vote. People, at the end of the day, are still in charge of who gets into office. They have no one to blame but themselves.

I am not saying that voting conservative is the same as voting for this government to continue its downward slide. The government can still do great things when placed into the hands of moderate conservatives. But many of the conservatives that we elect or pay attention to are not those. Many are those that despise government and are content with shutting down everything without offering an alternative. Yet we chose to elect those people, and our government, and our nation as a whole, is worse off for it.

We vote for these people because we allow ourselves to be easily swayed. We allow ourselves to be caught by meaningless slogans, flag waving, and Constitution thumping, that we are willing to overlook the fact that these people will destroy the very institution we’re sending them to. We don’t look at what they’re saying, and we don’t stop to consider the consequences of choosing an inexperienced, uncompromising politician to run our nation. We allow ourselves to fall for backwards logic that expertise and experience are things to be shunned. As such, this is the government we brought on ourselves.

But all's not lost. We get the government we deserve, and if we educate ourselves, we can again have a government worth believing in. We must be more cynical; take every slogan or reference to our Constitution with a grain of salt. We must prize an ethic to work, not an ethic to destroy. We must toute a willingness to compromise, not willful uncooperation. Cynicism and better judgement are the key to a better government.

Voter may have brought Trump, Carson, and our dysfunctional government on themselves. But regardless of what the wealthy or politicians do or say, they cannot take away our ability to make an informed decision. We may get the government we deserve, but that can work in our favor with a healthy dose of cynicism and self discipline.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Mechanime: Brave Express Might Gaine

As a wise man once said: "I like trains."
Original Run: 1993-1994

Number of Episodes: 47

Average Episode Length: 21 minutes
Subgenres: Shounen
Dub?: No

I would like to thank the Planetary Defense Subtitling Group for subbing Might Gaine. I couldn’t have done this review without their sub.

Usually I choose what I review at random. However, I chose to to watch Might Gaine out of curiousity, thanks to how much I like J-Decker, and partially thanks to the show’s gimmick of trains. Unfortunately, the best thing Might Gaine did for me is further my appreciation for J-Decker. As per usual, this is a review of the first 13 episodes, but unlike Eureka Seven or J-Decker, there won’t be a follow-up with this.

Note: I could not find a good MP3 of the opening. Might Gaine's OP should be on YouTube. Check it out if you're curious enough.

Given that the Brave series has 8 openings to its name, it would make sense that some openings are better than others. Might Gaine’s opening, called “Arashi no Hero (meaning Hero of Storms),” sadly, is one of the lesser ones. The song is perhaps the cheesiest, most 90s-ist thing I’ve ever heard, but instead of being a glorious guilty pleasure, it just ends up being average. It didn't impress me, but at the same time, I didn’t find it to be offensively bad. In terms of opening themes for the Brave series, this is probably right in the middle.

Nouville Tokyo is the setting of the anime.
Might Gaine takes place in the near future, fifty years after the disappearance of oil. Society has since been able to rebuild itself since then thanks to advancements in electrical energy and robotics. Still the world is a very dangerous place, with criminals and evil masterminds having access to dangerous new technologies. Luckily for the citizens of Nouville Tokyo, a new hero has appeared on the scene. His name is Maito Senpuuji, a teenage boy who has recently acquired his late father’s company. Together with robots equipped with sentient AI, he vows to rid his home of Nouville Tokyo of all crime.

I will say that the story of Might Gaine has an interesting setup. But despite how interesting the concept of a world without oil is, the story of Might Gaine seems to use it solely to explain why the robots are trains, as electric trains are the only viable mode of public transport left. The story also has a big problem with tone; it repeatedly hints at how dangerous the world has become since oil’s disappearance, yet the actual tone of the show is very lighthearted and silly. The story as a whole feels very generic, as most episodes boil down to a criminal starting trouble, and Maito and his robots show up to save the day. The story has potential, but sadly it never gets past the standard shounen plot.

The main villains of the series. From left to right: Shogun Mifune, Don Hoikowloh, Joe Rival, Catherine, and Wolfgang.
Sit down, I have quite a bit to say about the characters. Let’s start as we usually do; an objective look at both the heroic and villainous sides. Our heroes include Maito, the main protagonist of the story, Izumi, the main secretary of the Senpuuji Corporation, Aoki, Maito’s butler and resident Alfred stand-in, Hamada, Maito’s best friend and head engineer, and Sally, Maito’s love interest. On the villainous side, we have Wolfgang, a mad scientist obsessed with the creating “the world’s strongest machine,” Hoikowloh, a Chinese mob boss who sells his robots to the highest bidder, Shogun Mifune, a terrorist who wishes to destroy technology, Catherine, a world class jewel thief, and Joe Rival, a former fighter pilot who only wishes to find and defeat the perfect opponent.

Maito and the three main robots. From left to right: Guard Diver, Might Gaine, and Tribomber.
On the robot side, we have Gaine, Maito’s partner that helps form the titular robot of the series. Supporting him are the Bombers, a group of three robots that have both a vehicle form and a animal form. They are Lio Bomber, Bird Bomber, and Dino Bomber. The other support team are the Divers, a group of robots built for rescue purposes; the group includes Fire Diver (a fire engine), Police Diver (a police chaser), Jet Diver (a fighter jet), and Drill Diver (a drill tank). The Bombers can combine to form the powerful Tribomber, and the Divers can unite to form Guard Diver.

Before I get started on judging the cast, I want to point out that this show has a character named Joe Rival. That’s not a nickname, that’s his actual name. That is so dumb it wraps around and becomes awesome.

After the solid cast of J-Decker, this cast came as an unpleasant surprise. The biggest offender is Maito, who is a blatant Marty Stu (a implausible perfect character who is beloved by everyone). He’s rich, good looking, athletic, and no one calls him out on shirking his responsibilities as a company president. And it’s not like his allies are any better; all of them are derivative, forgettable, and bland. The villains fair slightly better, as they have gimmicks to compensate for their one-note personalities. I appreciated how they stuck to five big bad guys as opposed to creating a new villain every week. The villains aren’t actually strong though; they’re only interesting in comparison to the lackluster cast of heroes.

This line contains the whole personality of Gaine. I'm serious.
What they did with the robots, however, is just downright sad. Unlike J-Decker, were each robot had a defined personality, strengths, and weaknesses, the robots in Might Gaine are all practically interchangeable. Gaine has barely a personality to speak of, and each support team has only one trait to share between them. They are boring as all hell, which is a huge disappointment. The robots are central part of any robot show, and when you can get invested or even get interested in any of the robots, they show fails. The entire cast of Might Gaine may be a pack of forgettable cutouts, but for the robots to have so little personality made an otherwise dull cast into a poor cast.

This is an actual line. And it's played completely straight. I know this is a kid's show, but come on...
The writing in this show is just as bad as the cast. The dialogue is derivative and flat, and the humor is even more so. The characterization is terrible all across the board, with boring characters and even more boring robots. This is a huge shame, as good writing is one of the things that could have saved this show. Instead, we get paint-by-numbers cast members, predictable plots, a half baked world, and robots just as deep as the toys they were meant to sell.

Gaine's transformation sequence.
There are some good things about Might Gaine. Perhaps the best thing about this show is the animation. The animation is smooth and there are few hiccups. It’s more low budget than J-Decker, as it has some much more noticeable shortcuts, feels and looks less polished overall, and it’s much more willing to recycle its animation. For instance, all the gattai sequences are recycled, which is fine, given how well animated they are. However, Might Gaine’s gattai sequence is more than a minute long, and for all of the first 13 episodes, it insisted on playing out in its entirety. Also, Might Gaine uses the same finisher in every fight, meaning another minute of beautiful but nevertheless recycle animation. This show isn’t as bad as Golion when it comes to recycling it's animation, but it's still annoying that nearly a tenth of every episode is stock footage.

Mecha and Fight Scenes
Might Gain's finisher involves a vertical cut that splits the enemy in two. It's always the best part of an episode.
Despite being bland, the robots of Might Gaine are well designed. Like in J-Decker, the base robots are the right mixture of simplicity and detail; not terribly complex, but having enough visual appeal to avoid being boring to look at. The combined robots look really good too, but are more complex and cooler looking than J-Decker’s giant robots. It also helps that this show really goes above and beyond with the whole train concept. The main robot can transform into a train, and can combine with a bigger train to make the titular giant robot. A team of three triple changers, all of which have trains as their vehicle forms, can take the form of a larger train by default. A team of four robots can meld together to form their own giant train. That’s a lot of trains.

Tribomber engaging in a fierce slideshow battle with the Robot of the Week.

But like J-Decker, the fight scenes in Might Gaine range from “nothing special” to “uneventful and boring.” The fights often don’t have a lot going on, and often devolve into a slideshow rather than an animated fight. In most fights, you’ll be lucky to see any remotely interesting  before Might Gaine’s finisher, and while the finisher itself is awesome, it gets old after the third time you see it. Honestly, I would have forgiven this anime for most of its shortcomings if it had good fights. New Getter Robo is a case of that. But the lame fight scenes turned out just to be another problem on Might Gaine’s long list of flaws.

Might Gaine has a lot of potential to make a great anime, but it squanders a lot of it. While it does have good animation and cool looking robots, it's largely a derivative, paint-by-numbers mecha show that does little to differentiate itself from its peers. Unlike J-Decker, this does feel like a 21 minute weekly toy commercial. I can’t recommend this unless you’re dying to see all the Brave shows; otherwise, don’t even bother with this one.

5.5/10 - Mediocre