Friday, February 27, 2015

Press Start: Genesis Game-a-Palooza

Time to get your retro on, y'all!
Recently, I got my hands on Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection, a disk with 40 Genesis classics and 9 unlockable games. It was a great way to experience the glory days of Sega without spending too much on an actual Genesis. With nearly 50 games, there’s bound to a game you're bound to like. This post features 5 games that I felt are totally worth playing, even to this day.

Keep in mind I haven’t played all 49 games, so these aren’t my five favorite, just five that stood out of the dozen I’ve played thus far. That said, let’s start out with…

Shining Force
An RPG that requires you to use your brain? Madness!
Shining Force is a turn-based tactical RPG in an era where 2D action games dominated every storefront. While the game itself is pretty generic in terms of story and mechanics, its very solid in terms of gameplay. Much like Fire Emblem, you control an army of characters with specialized classes and stat growths on a square grid. Despite its simple mechanics, its can get very hard, as giving your enemy an inch or failing to think ahead results in the enemy obliterating your forces. The game also incorporates towns and world maps into the equation, making it feel more like a traditional RPG with a SRPG combat system. This is a solid game, despite how much its aged.

But perhaps you prefer something with a little more kick. Something like...

Streets of Rage 2
Flaming uppercuts: cleaning up streets since 1992.

Who doesn’t love mindless button mashing beat-em-ups? Streets of Rage 2 is one of the best experiences in that category. You can play as one of four characters, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, as you beat the crap out of a massive criminal syndicate. Each character has a small yet highly effective moveset that’s easy to execute, and they can pick up weapons such as knives or pipes. All of this adds up to a highly satisfying experience that’s easy to pick up. This is best played with a friend, as are most co-op beat-em-ups of this era.

But maybe you’re more of a platforming guy. Then you might enjoy…

Dynamite Headdy
This is a boss fight. It only gets weirder more creative from here.

Since platformers were a dime a dozen in the 16 bit era, developers needed a unique edge to get the attention of gamers. In Dynamite Headdy, the titular character can detach and replace his head to aid in his platforming adventure. Not only is the setting and stages very creative (its a puppet show of all things), but the main gimmick works very well. Headdy can use his head to bowl over enemies, grab onto floating platforms, and even swap out heads with things like blasters and missile launchers. There are also a bunch of nice little touches, like your health meter being a spotlight and the worlds being called “scenes”. Dynamite Headdy is a fine platformer with a great flair.

Like this game? Then you’ll definitely love…

Those sure are some conveniently shaped vines...
Ristar is a game about a sentient star out to save the galaxy. While the titular hero can’t jump very high or run very fast, he has one weird trump card- his arms can stretch to ludicrous lengths. With this power, he can ran into enemies, swing off of obstacles, and swim with the greatest of ease. That’s right: there’s actually a platformer with good swimming controls. The level design is top notch, and takes advantage of every move in Ristar’s arsenal. The music in this game is absolutely fantastic, being both upbeat and atmospheric. Other than the lackluster boss fights, there’s not much I can say against Ristar.

Craving something both creative and mindless? How about…

Comix Zone
The manliest comic book never drawn.

You know you’re having a bad day when you’re sucked into your own comic book with the main villain drawing in monsters to kill you. Poor Sketch is having one such day. Luckily for him, the comic he’s trapped makes for an awesome game. Comix Zone has a great concept, and it completely runs with it. Rather than having a scrolling screen, Comix Zone has Sketch hop from panel to panel, with the player choosing his path. The visuals look like they’ve been lifted straight from an 90s comic book. Combine both of these with solid and challenging fights and a simple yet effective inventory system, and you get one of the greatest single player beat-em-ups ever.

And there you have it! If you liked or disliked this, feel free to leave a comment.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Weapon of the Week: Pokeball

Think your a hardcore Pokemon fan? Name all these Pokeballs. Good luck.

Franchise: Pokemon
Appearances: Pretty much every Pokemon game ever
Type: Item

Some argue that Pokemon are some of the best weapons ever conceived. And I have to admit, monsters that can produce bolts of electricity and fire on a whim is a great idea for a weapon. But I have three problems: one, Pokemon only use their powers against other Pokemon and never against other people, which makes it hard to call them weapons; two, trainers are only able to utilize a Pokemon’s strength because there’s a mutual bond, which makes them more like party members than weapons; and three, it ignores the true star of this picture: the Pokeball.

Its unclear how Pokeballs actually work. Its supposed to be a capsule based technology, and it seems to turn the Pokemon inside into a form of electrical energy that can easily be stored. But how it works doesn’t really matter; what matters is how its used. A Pokemon is the only device that can catch and contain Pokemon, be it the pathetic Magikarp or the numerous powerful legendaries. These little capsules allow you to catch and utilize some of the most powerful creatures that ever existed, which is seriously awesome.

A virtual net that can catch pretty much anything deserves serious props, even if you think the creatures inside them make better weapons. Next time, we’ll look at everyone’s favorite fictional bird. Until then, see ya.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Mechanime: Macross Zero

This is a prequel to a 1982 anime. Better late than never, I suppose.

Original Run: Released piecemeal from 2002 to 2004
Number of Episodes: 5
Average Episode Length: 33 minutes
Subgenres: War
Dub?: No

Welcome back to Mechanime! Today we’ll be looking at Macross Zero, a prequel to the original Macross series brought to us by the same guys behind Aquarion and Nobunaga the Fool. This is a review of the entire OVA, since its only five episodes. I’ll try to avoid spoilers, since I believe this is worth seeing.

This OVA has no opening song. Move along, nothing to see here.

He's threatening her with a love letter.
...It makes sense if you've seen the OVA. 

In the year 1999, a strange alien spacecraft crashed landed on Earth. This kickstarts a war between the UN, who wants a unified world government for space exploration (among other things), and the anti-UN coalition, who wishes for sovereignty to remain with individual countries. In 2008, the war still rages, and a key battle rages in the South Pacific. During an air skirmish, Shin Kudou’s wing is attacked and destroyed by a mysterious transforming jet. Shin himself crash on Mayan (pronounced may-yan) Island, and quickly gets wrapped up in the lives of the locals.

An ancient alien with magic powers? In my real robot show? Its more likely than you think.

A key part of the plot is the concept of a protoculture. Because the evolution of humans is a relatively quick thing, some in-universe scientists theorize that aliens visited Earth an accelerated the evolutionary process. The Mayan people have a similar myth- many years ago, a Birdman visited from the stars and created all living things. As the story unfolds, the importance of the Birdman and the strange structures uncovered by the UN and anti-UN forces grows until it could possibly decide the fate of the world.

The story of Macross Zero is strong one, even if you aren’t a follower of the Macross series. It develops at a pace that is just the right speed. It manages to catch the tense and traumatizing nature of war, and handles many of its plotlines well. Not many things are left unresolved, and it is surprisingly easy to understand and follow. Macross Zero tells a great story in a competent way, and its contained enough to enjoy on its own.

From left to right: Sara, Shin, Roy, and Mao.

After the gigantic cast of Nadesico, I was relieved to see a relatively small cast in this OVA. Characters include Shin Kudou, a UN pilot and main character, Sara, the Mayan priestess, Mao, her sister, Roy Focker, a UN veteran, Aries, a UN anthropologist researching the protoculture, Nora, an anti-UN pilot, and “DD” Ivanov, an anti-UN commander. There are a few supporting characters, like Edgar, Shin’s radar intercept officer, and Nutuk, the Mayan elder.

However, unlike the cast of Nadesico, which I found hilarious and fairly well developed, I found the cast of Macross Zero to be largely derivative. Outside of Shin and Sara, none of the characters really developed, and I didn’t find myself interested in any of them. They felt like they were just there rather than being characters. While I can easily praise the story of Macross Zero, I found the characters rather lacking.

While I found the story to be excellent, I found the writing to be average. A lot of it is expository, but its fairly well written exposition. Its mostly serious, like one exchange between Roy and a mechanic on how most experienced pilots have died due to how prolonged the war has become. It handles itself well enough to not be boring, but most of the time, it felt like the story was carrying the writing, rather than the writing augmenting the story.

This is some fine looking CG right here.
This OVA’s animation is freaking gorgeous. Not only is the 2D animation well polished and clean, but it makes heavy use of amazing looking CG. The CG looks fantastic, even for today’s standard, and it looks like it came straight out of a theatrically released movie. It also blends the 2D and 3D animation very well. This is perhaps the best looking anime I’ve seen.

Mecha and Fight Scenes
VF-O in battloid mode.

The mecha of the Macross series, the Variable Fighters, are fighter jets that can transform into flying robots. They have three modes: the regular jet mode, gerwalk mode, where the jet utilizes the mech’s arms and legs, and battloid mode, where the jet fully transforms into a humanoid mech. There are only a handful of Variable Fighters in Macross Zero, but all of them are great, with slick designs and plenty of ammo to spare.

Nora's SV-51 in jet mode.

The battles in Macross Zero are also something to be praised. They feature missiles and bullets flying everywhere, with explosions aplenty and soldiers on both sides dropping like flies. It manages to capture the hecticness and destructive properties of actual warfare, to the point where Mayan Island is destroyed by the fighting. The battles of Macross Zero will keep you on the edge of your seat thanks to their intense nature.

Macross Zero is a beautiful anime with a great story and thrill filled battles. While the characters and writing aren’t as good, they are average at worst. I recommend this, as its a good jumping off point for the massive Macross franchise.

7.5- Really Good

Thanks for reading! As always, feel free to leave a comment. Constructive criticism is always welcome.

New Getter Robo is up next. Get hyped!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Sentai Time! Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger

You'll be surprised when you much I liked this one!
Translation: Charging Squad Dinosaur Person
Number of Episodes: 48
Original Run: 2013-2014
Theme: Dinosaurs
Adaptation: Power Rangers Dino Charge

Greetings, and welcome to Sentai Time! We’re kicking off this series with Kyoryuger, the show that got me into this series. This is only a review of the first 12 episodes, but expect follow-up reviews of this one.

The Concept
Yes, a bird is leading a group of dinosaur warriors. How? Heck of I know.
Millions of years ago, dinosaurs ruled the Earth. Their rule was finally ended by the alien force known as the Deboss Army. The Deboss quickly wiped out the dinosaurs, save for those that finally managed to trap the evildoers in Arctic ice. Now in present day, the Deboss have finally thawed out, and plan for the brutal extinction of humanity. The Wise God Torin (who is a bird, by the way) plans to counter the Deboss by recruiting the only people capable of wielding the dinosaur's spirit: the Kyoryugers.

The Sentai
The first five. From left to right: Ian, Nobuharu, Daigo, Amy, and Souji.

Note: “Sentai” is japanese for “fighting squad.” Hence, this section is about the main squad of heroes.

The Kyoryugers include Daigo (Kyoryu Red), the excitable and friendly world traveler, Ian (Kyoryu Black), a philanderous sharpshooter, Nobuhide (Kyoryu Blue), a repairman and master of bad puns, Souji (Kyoryu Green), the quiet highschool swordsman, and Amy (Kyoryu Pink), the tomboyish rich girl. Eventually joining the team is Utsusemimaru (or “Ucchii”, Kyoryu Gold), a swordsman from the past, and Ramirez (Kyoryu Cyan), a spirit of a 500-year old warrior.

The Kyoryugers with Ucchii. By the way, those batteries are the source of their power. Guess you need more than Duracell to save the day.
The heroes in this story are very endearing, mostly because of how fun they are. They work well off each other and supply many funny moments, and more than once prove themselves to be sympathetic characters. There’s plenty to like about each one of them, especially Ucchii, who struggles to adjust to modern times, and Nobuharu, who always seems to have a terrible pun for every occasion. My one complaint is that the cast is developed unevenly, as Kouji gets little development when compared to characters like Nobuharu. Other than that, the Sentai has proven themselves to be worthwhile characters.

The Villains
The Deboss Army. From left to right: Aigallon, Dogold, Chaos, Candelira, and Luckyuro.

The Deboss army consists of the high priest Chaos and his three knights: Dogold, the ever irritable Knight of Anger, Aigallon, the ever sorrowful Knight of Sadness, and Candelira, the ever pink Knight of Joy. The knights use their powers to create Debo Monsters, whose primary goal is to cause the emotion of their creator. For example, if Aigallon created a monster, the monster would try to cause sorrow. The emotions are the source of energy that the Deboss need to resurrect their master and bring forth humanity’s extinction.

This guy removes your vertebrae to make you a mindless fanboy. That is odd, terrifying, and awesome at the same time.

The knights may be one trick ponies, but they’re very entertaining ones. They each have their own flair, be it Candelira’s horrifying optimism or Aigallon’s flamboyant bishi tears. The monsters are pretty hit or miss though. There are great ones, like a illusion creating monster with a flag-shaped scythe, and then there are lame ones, like a cake baking monster with whisk for a hand (to be fair, he can cause cavities). I have to admit that the emotion gimmick is pretty creative, but some of the monsters just don’t do it for me.

The Mecha
The Zyudenryu. From left to right: Zakutor, Stegotchi, Gabutyra, Dricera, and Parasagun.
The mecha for this show, or Zyudenryu, are dinosaur themed machines. The main mech, KyoryuJin, isn’t formed out of all of them, but instead has the main body made up of Gabutyra (a red T-Rex), with two other mechs forming different arms. This is a pretty neat concept, but it gets a bit tiring to see most non-Gabutyra not get a lot of importance other than being a shield or gun. However, I will say that Ucchii’s mech, Pteraiden-Oh, is made of all sorts of win. While the mecha are pretty blocky, they pack enough flashy attacks to stay awesome.

The Fights
This explosion is the result of bravery and gunpowder! Mostly gunpowder, though.
Ah yes, the main reason anyone watches a Sentai show (besides extreme silliness). I have to say, the fights between the Kyoryugers and the Deboss Army are really solid. They are well choreographed, showing off each of the Kyoryuger’s styles (Nobuharu’s pragmatic wrestler-esque combat, Daigo’s capoeira-like rushdown style, etc). Probably the best parts are where the Kyoryuger are taking crowds of enemy grunts, as it best displays the combat prowess of each member. And I hope you like explosions, because they are everywhere. The fights are really good, if not a bit over-the-top.

The Music

This music is simply made of win. With elements of rock, ska, and latin pop, the music in this show is incredibly infectious. It is filled with pumping rhythms and kickass melodies, and there are very few duds in this entire soundtrack.

The Verdict
Kyoryuger is a fun show. With an endearing and entertaining cast, great fight scenes, and amazing music, you're guaranteed to have a blast. There are a few things it could have done better, but it doesn't detract too heavily from the experience. You don’t have to indulge in silliness to love this show.

8/10 - Great

Hope you enjoyed the first Sentai Time! As always, I encourage you to leave a comment. Constructive criticism is always welcome.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Weapon of the Week: Rose Nasty

Badass Sign #48: being able to wield two weapons at once.

Franchise: No More Heroes
Appearances: No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle
Type: Swords

Its common knowledge that lightsabers are awesome. A laser sword that can defect laser bolts and cut through anything makes for the greatest sword ever. This must be why otaku Travis Touchdown (no, that’s not a nickname, his last name really is touchdown) spent all his money on getting one. Okay, so technically its called a Beam Katana, but its essentially a lightsaber. With his trusty Beam Katana(s), he can mow down tons of mooks and defeat the country’s best order to get a girl to sleep with him. Yeah, not sure where his priorities are.

Regardless, Travis’s Beam Katanas are really cool weapons. Each one (aside from the starting one) has its own way of defeating the enemy. For example, the Peony is a strong-but-slow weapon, but as you defeat enemies, the range grows. No More Heroes 2 has four beam katanas: Bloodberry, which you start with, Camellia Mk-III, your fast but weak weapon, the aforementioned Peony, and Rose Nasty, the subject of this entry.

Rose Nasty is the only Beam Katana in NMH2 that you can’t buy, and it is also the only dual weapon Travis has used. It has two big draws: its battery life and its combo potential. The Beam Katanas run on batteries, and if you run out of juice, you can’t attack until you recharge by doing a NSFW motion with the Wii Remote. Rose Nasty can last a long time without recharging, making it ideal for long battles. Rose Nasty also allows Travis to string together many hits very quickly, which means that you can rack up tons of hits very easily. Combined with a wide slash radius, Rose Nasty makes Travis a force to be reckoned with.

Rose Nasty may be a silly name for a sword, but its by far one of the coolest. Next time, we’ll look at a device that allows you to be the very best like no one ever was. Until then, see ya.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Special announcement!

Super Sentai provides the footage for Power Rangers. Once again, 90s kids, you owe Japan for your childhood.

Hey guys. How youze doin'?

I have an announcement. I'm bringing a new type of post to this blog: Sentai Time! From now on, I'll be doing reviews of Super Sentai shows. Yes, this is an incredibly silly announcement, but honestly, I think I'll have fun watching these shows.

Hope you enjoy the upcoming Kyoryuger review. Until then, keep calm and fight evil.

Press Start: Top 5 Wii U Platformers

The Wii U is a great console, but it has a pretty iffy library. In terms of variety, you don’t have much to work with. If you like RPGs or strategy games, you’re pretty much out of luck. But what is does have is very solid. One area the Wii U definitely has covered is platformers. The U has a tremendous selection of platformers, both old (via the Virtual Console) and new. The library features an all star cast of platforming legends: Mario, Sonic, Rayman, Donkey Kong, even Megaman. Today, I’ll be talking about my favorites.

There are a few things I should say before we begin. First, this list only includes platformers I’ve played, since it would be pretty dishonest to praise games I haven’t even touched. Second, this is my opinion, and by no means an official, end-all-be-all list. If you don’t see your favorite Wii U platformer on this list, chances are I haven't played or didn’t like it as much as you did. With that out of the way, let’s get started.

5. Sonic Lost World

...oh, don’t give me that look. Critics may not have loved Lost World, but I certainly did. Does it have its flaws? Of course; the boss fights are pretty bad, and some levels certainly do get on nerves. But despite what many say, I find this game to be quite the gem. Its platforming is very solid, and most of the levels are well designed and fun to traverse. The music is the usually great Sonic norm, and the voice acting doesn’t suck for once. Many consider this a step down from Colors and Generations, but I consider this a step sideways.

4. Ducktales Remastered

Ducktales on the NES stands as one of the most iconic games of the 8-bit era, and with the remake, I can finally enjoy it. This isn’t just a fresh coat of paint though. Sprites are redone to look like they’ve been lifted from the cartoon, and each of the levels now have cutscenes, making this feel like a lost season of the show. On top of that, the level design is excellent and challenging, and it even features new levels. The entire game is a love letter to the source material, and while it is very short, there’s tons of unlockables to keep you engaged.

3. Super Mario 3D World

Mario certainly has seen grander adventures, but few were as pure fun as Super Mario 3D World. The level may be more like 2D levels with a 3D layer, but that doesn’t mean they’re well designed. The levels are a blast to play through, either in single or multiplayer, and they all look crisp in HD. With four whole world available after you beat the game and tons of collectables, this game will take you a while to finish, but you’ll be having fun the whole time. While not the most creative or well put together, it is one of the most fun experiences on any 8th generation console.

2. Shovel Knight

Now here’s a throwback game that’s actually worth buying. This game tries its best to be like the retrohard 8-bit platformers of yesteryear (like Megaman, Super Mario Bros, and Ducktales), and it passes with flying colors. The game has steller level design that’s challenging without being cheap, and it does a great job of introducing the players to each level’s gimmick. The soundtrack is amazing, and game really runs with the whole retro aesthetic. My only complaint is the game’s length; its too short. Still, Shovel Knight is one of the best platformers out there

1. Rayman Legends

Rayman Legends includes everything I praised the previous entries for. It features creative level design that’s tough but fair. Its soundtrack is spectacular, using instruments like didgeridoos and kazoos. It has an absurd amount of content, with tons of Teensies to rescue and dozens of levels and skins to unlock. And on top of all that, it makes great use of the Wii U gamepad. Rayman Legends is everything a great platformer should be, and its definitely earned the title of the best platformer on the Wii U.

And that’s my Top 5 Wii U platformers! If you agree, disagree, or have any suggestions, leave a comment. Constructive criticism is appreciated.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Mechanime: Martian Successor Nadesico

Martian Successor Nadesico
There are girls, there are robots, but there are not robot girls. What's up with that?

Original Run: 1996-1997
Number of Episodes: 26
Average Episode Length: 22 minutes
Subgenres: Parody, Harem
Dub?: Yes

Welcome back to Mechanime! As per usual, this is a review of the first few episodes, not the whole thing. Without further delay, lets talk about Martian Successor Nadesico, an anime for anime lovers.


The title to Nadesico’s opening is “You Get to Burning.” Yes, really. Engrish aside, the song itself is pretty good. It combines some pop elements with Latin-esque instrumentations for something truly infectious and energetic. The song has seriously grown on me, and while I feel that the whole song is better than the part used for the opening, its still very good.

A group of loonies are our best hope against the Jovians. I'm totally serious.
The year is 2196, and Earth is fighting a losing war against the Jovian Lizards. The Jovians advance quickly, taking control of Mars and the Moon. Nergal Heavy Industries, a private defence company, plan to counter the Jovians with the Nadesico: a high mobility battleship armed manned by a civilian crew. Each of the crew is an expert in their field, despite their personality disorders (no, really, they’re all insane). While they meet some resistance from the United Earth Air Force, who believe such a mission will provoke further aggression from the Jovians, the Nadesico soon takes off, and our lovable group of weirdos set out to liberate Mars.

Robot math: Mazinger + Getter Robo + Robot Romance trilogy = the best damn robot parody ever.

It is also worth mentioning that MSN features a show within a show. This show, Gekiganger 3, is a parody of many 70s super robot shows. As the plot develops, we see more of the anime and more references are made to the show.

The story of MSN is not a very complex one, but it is an effective one. The set up is pretty good for a parody show and it does have some unexpected twists. This isn’t a straight up comedy show, however, as the show also has a fair number of dramatic moments. While the drama and more serious stuff isn’t terrible, it's usually weaker than the comedy, and sometimes I found myself wading through the drama instead of enjoying it. Really, the main draw of Nadesico is not the story but its character and humor.

This is only a few of them. First row: Megumi ,Minato and Gai. Second row: Ruri, Yurika, and Jun. Front: Akito. 

Get a piece of paper ready, cause this show is stuff to the brim with crazy characters. Ready? Okay. *inhales*

We have Akito, the hapless leading man who only fights because he has to. There’s Yurika, the captain of the Nadesico and the self proclaimed love interest of Akito. Also aboard the ship is Megumi, the communications officer, Minato, the helmswoman, Ruri, a stoic child prodigy who operates the ship’s computer, Gai, a hotblooded pilot and rabid Gekiganger otaku, and Seiya, the neurotic mechanic. Joining the crew later would be Ryoko, a fiery tomboy pilot, Hikaru, a pilot and all around anime nut, Izumi, a pilot and incurable punster, and Jun, Yurika’s best friend and the ship’s prime resident in the friendzone.

The entire cast. Good grief.

Yeah, this show has tons of characters. It got to the point where I had to keep a sheet of paper on hand just so I could keep track of everybody. But while the cast is massive, its also very solid. Most of the cast members are entertaining to watch, and Akito is even kinda relatable. Each character gets several funny lines in, and they often bounce off each other in amusing ways. There are a few annoying characters (Hikaru intentionally, Yurika unintentionally), but otherwise the characters are a great collection of nutcases. Be warned though: this show is not afraid to kill off characters.

Nope! Is that a problem?

One of the greatest aspects of MSN is the writing. The writing is incredibly self aware, filled with lines like “Does anyone know where this plot is headed?” and with constant breaking of the fourth wall (including one ship member advertising the benefits of joining the Nadesico), this show features some great comedy. Here’s one of my favorite scenes to demonstrate my love for this show’s comedy. In this, Akito has flown out to assist the other pilots...and promptly runs out of energy.

Izumi: Um, did you know that if there’s a barrier between you and the Nadesico, your power supply will be cut off?
Hikaru: That’s the first thing in the basic manual!
Akito: Well, okay, so what do we do now?
Ryoko: We draw back and PUNT! *promptly kicks Akito’s mech into open space*
Akito: AUGH~! *his mech’s computer comes back online* Hey, it worked!

I would say, "notice me, senpai," but that's his girlfriend, so...

Of course, for all its great comedy, the writing does have its issues, and its mainly in the form of its romance. Akito is the object of affection of many of the Nadesico’s female members, which of course leads to talk about love and who has the privilege to be called Akito’s waifu. Rather than being funny or romantic, it feels much more cringeworthy, and I found myself groaning at the behavior of some of the girls.

While comedy trumps most of the show’s other aspects, it at least tries to develop its main characters and add drama, and more often than not it pays off. This is a competently written anime, make no mistake.

I don’t have much to say about MSN’s animation. Overall, its very solid: there are very few noticeable hiccups and its fairly consistent. The animation flows well and its self aware enough to be pretty amusing. But honestly, the animation doesn’t really stand out from many other 90s anime. Not saying it's terrible, just ...meh.

By the power of parody-skull!
However, I really have to praise the animation of Gekiganger 3. It absolutely nails the style of of 70s super robot animation: its choppy, its sketchy, and it moves as little as it possibly can. As a parody of the super robot genre, it hits all the notes. If anything, G3’s animation is the true star in terms of animation.

Mecha and Fight Scenes
An Aestivalis 0G frame, meant for space combat.
There are two variety of mecha in this show: the Aestivalis, which are piloted by the Earthlings, and the Jovian mechs, which resemble insects. The Aestivalis themselves are pretty neat, with a slick looking design and great battle abilities. Probably their biggest draw is their interchangeable cockpits, which can fit into specialized frames (one for land combat, one for space combat, etc). This is a neat mechanic, and it gives the Aestivalis an element of uniqueness.

Jovian fighters engaging Earth forces.
Now this show doesn’t have fight scenes: it has battles. Given that this anime takes place during a war, it would make sense that the Aestivalis engage entire fleets of Jovian ships. The battles are filled with explosions and enemy ships dropping like flies, which, while entertaining, made me aware of how powerful the character’s plot armor was. Nonetheless, the battles are pretty good, though they do take a bit of a backseat to the characters and humor.

Sub or Dub?
Either one is fine. The dub isn’t fantastic, but it will grow on you, and it is pretty well localized. The sub is a bit more passionate, but most subbed versions I came across had problem syncing the dialogue and subtitles. However, the dub has one leg up over the subbed version: Gekiganger 3. The dub has the G3 characters screaming their lines in an over dramatic fashion, and its definitely “so bad its good,” which goes with the spirit of 70s super robots.

MSA is an anime for people who like anime. Its self conscious writing, constant fourth wall breaking, genre jokes, and (largely) endearing cast is all the better if you have knowledge of the medium. It may be bogged down by groan-inducing romance, it is a fun experience. Expect follow-up reviews for this one.

7/10 - Good

Enjoy these reviews? Leave a comment! Constructive criticism is welcome.