Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Weapon of the Week: Mario’s Hammer

The "M" in MC Hammer is for "Mario." He's the OG of hammer wielders everywhere.

Franchise: Mario
Appearances: Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario RPG, the Mario & Luigi games, the Paper Mario games, the Mario vs Donkey Kong games, the Super Smash Bros games, the Mario Party games, DK Jungle Climber, the Mario Tennis games
Type: Bludgeon

Mario has a lot of weapons at his disposal. Be it from his iconic power-ups like the Fire Flower, or items to aid him in his competitive endeavors, he has many tools at his disposal. But out of all these tools, only two have stuck with the plucky plumber since the very beginning. The first would be his reliable jump, which has been used to pass over countless threats and obstacles. The other his legendary hammer.

Mario’s hammer has been a part of his identity since the original Donkey Kong, were it allowed him to destroy obstacles like barrels and fireballs. Since then, it has made many appearances. In Super Smash Bros, Mario’s hammer is a powerful offensive item that, while it limits the user's mobility, allows for devastating strikes. It’s appeared in the Mario Tennis games as Mario’s special offensive shot. In Super Mario Bros. 3, it is a map item that can destroy boulders blocking paths, including one that leads to a Warp Whistle.

However, the games that show off Mario’s hammer the greatest are the Mario RPGs. In the Paper Mario games, Mario has a variety of attacks that involve his hammer, such as creating small earthquakes and inflicting status ailments on enemies. The Mario & Luigi games give the legendary brothers several ridiculously fancy techniques, which can be used to solve puzzles and execute powerful attacks. If you haven’t played a Mario RPG, you haven’t seen how powerful Mario can be with his hammer.

Mario’s hammer is one of his best assets, and is a true tool for saving the world. Next time, we’ll revisit my favorite franchise. Until then, see ya.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Random Thoughts: Badassery

I just wanted to write this. This has nothing to do with anything. Hope you enjoy anyway.

So what does it mean to be badass? Well, Merriam-Webster defines the word to mean “of formidable strength or skill.” Wiktionary defines it as “ having extreme appearance, attitude, or behavior that is considered admirable.” These definitions give us a good idea of what a badass is: someone who encapsulates formidable skill and “cool” qualities. But just like how what’s cool varies from person to person, so does who can be considered a badass. What could be amazingly badass to one person may be inanely stupid to another.

When it comes to badassery, there are a few things I think should be kept in mind. One would be concentration, or in other words, how much badass is there in a work as a whole. Another key one is the overall tone of the work. These two go hand in hand; if the overall tone of the work supports a high concentration of badass, then it works. Likewise, if the work’s tone does not lend itself to an environment where badass can flourish, it would feel out of place. There are exceptions to this, as some works were badass would seem out of place have some moments of badassery, but generally speaking, if the work does not lend itself to supply badass situations, then badass would seem out of place there.

Another key thing to keep in mind about badassery is that it knows no allegiance. If the tone allows it, anyone in a work can be a badass, including both heroes and villains. If a character is capable of performing acts of badassery, regardless of affiliation or morality, they are a badass. This could lead to some interesting characterization, even creating some unique characters. However, it should always be kept in mind that being badass is not a substitute for actual characterization. Badassery is more a spice than it is a primary trait. It’s better to describe a character as “this, that, and he’s/she’s a badass” rather than just “he’s a badass.” Badassery is entertaining, but so is good characterization.

Allow me to offer some examples. First, we have Travis Touchdown, the main character of the No More Heroes games. He’s an otaku first and foremost, and is crass, perverted, and a total Blood Knight. Despite his unsympathetic character, he’s capable of top feats of badassery thanks to his beam katana and his mad wrestling skills. But being badass never fully consumes his character; he still gets a fair deal of characterization, and even some character development come the second game. Travis, while admittedly a terrible person, is not a terrible character, as he is well defined on top of being badass. In my opinion, the best badass is a characterized badass, even if said character is unlikeable.

On the flipside, we have Jack from MadWorld. Like Travis, Jack is an unapologetic killer, but unlike Travis, he lacks good characterization. He too is capable of great feats of badassery (which are not for the faint of heart), yet he has no notable traits besides said badassery (and his chainsaw arm). Jack did get some limited characterization in Anarchy Reigns, but regardless, he is an example of how not to write a badass. His whole character hinges on you finding him badass, not on being well written or interesting. Being badass is not a substitute for having characterization, nor is it a redeeming factor for a character.

Hope you enjoyed this. If you want to see more posts like this, let me know.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Kyoryuger: Final Thoughts

My final Kyoryuger post (hopefully). Brave Out!
So yeah, I just finished the last episodes of Kyoryuger, and honestly, the finale left me a bit underwhelmed.

It starts promising enough. The first episodes of the last set feature the things I like about Kyoryuger: a good sense of humor, good action, and great characters.They have their ups and downs, though. The body swapping episode is a good one, and the two part Christmas special is decent, but D’s return, which would have been amazing, was very lackluster. This set also saw the return of Tobaspino, which was great to see, even if it was brief.

Oh, and Endolf and his sexy voice returns. Shweet.

However, the last four episodes of the show didn’t exactly click with me. It just didn’t feel like a satisfying conclusion for me. Throughout the final battle, I didn’t feel totally invested in the struggles of the heroes or feel the stakes were high. Yes, there were isolated moments of greatest, like the unsuited roll calls, or the death of a villain that actually moved me. But overall, the finale didn’t grip me.

Also, the final battle between Kyoryu Red and the Big Bad of the series was legitimately bad. You’d think a one-on-one between the leader of the Kyoryuger and an entity of destruction would be an epic struggle, but it instead it’s just a curb-stomp battle; first Deboss kicks Kyoryu Red around, then Kyoryu Red receives the Power of Friendship(well, it’s actually the Earth’s melody, but it works the same way, and then Kyoryu Red stomps all over Deboss. The whole battle is too one sided to be awesome or even good. I’ve seen great finales thanks to Mechanime, but now I’ve seen my first underwhelming finale.

Still, I still really like Kyoryuger. I still consider it to be a great show, and the road leading up to the last four episodes is still a great journey. Yeah, the finale isn’t that good, but I still loved Kyoryuger. I just wish the finale was just as good as the rest of the show.

Gaoranger is next. Let me hear you roar!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Weapon of the Week: Megaman

Guess what his favorite color is.
Franchise: Megaman
Appearances: All Megaman games
Type: Robot, hero

If the Angry Video Game Nerd has taught us anything, it’s that the good games on the NES need to be cherished. Yes, most of the library was terrible, but without the NES, we wouldn’t have so many legendary franchises. Without it, we would never have Mario, Zelda, Castlevania, Final Fantasy, or many other heavy hitters. The subject of today’s Weapon of the Week is one of the legendary heroes who made his debut on the NES. Ladies and gentlemen, I present the Blue Bomber: Megaman.

The classic Megaman franchise begins in the futuristic year of 200X, where robotics genius Thomas Light succeeds in building several sentient robots to aid humanity. Jealous of his colleague’s success, Albert Wily reprogrammed some of Light’s robots to aid on his quest of world domination. One of Light’s robots, Rock, volunteers to have himself modified to combat Wily’s armies. Thus, Rock became Megaman, and began his career as one of gaming’s most treasured icons.

Megaman has several abilities that aid him in fighting Wily’s mechanical army. Aside from superhuman physical abilities, he has his iconic Mega Buster, an arm-mounted blaster that serves as his primary weapon. His most useful trait, however, is the ability to copy the weapons of the evil robots (or Robot Masters) that he has defeated. By defeating a Robot Master, Megaman can use the weapon of that robot, and can use it to more easily navigate levels or exploit the weaknesses of other Robot Masters.

We may not have had a new Megaman game in ages, but his spirit lives on. Next time, we’ll look at the tool of a legend. Until then, see ya.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Gamer’s Frontier: Fire Emblem- Genealogy of the Holy War

Don't have a horse? Then your pretty much screwed.
Console: Super Famicom/Super NES
Genre: Turn based strategy
Year Released: 1996
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Publisher: Nintendo
Overlooked or Rare: Overlooked

Fire Emblem is one of my favorite franchises. It’s a strategy series with simple mechanics, but with enough depth and challenge to keep the player engaged. The series is home to 13 (soon to be 14) games, but what’s interesting is that the first six games, as well as the twelfth, never saw a release outside of Japan. Even though half the series is stuck in Japan, it’s still possible to play them thanks to emulators and fan translations. Today’s post is about Genealogy of the Holy War, the fourth game in the series.

Story and Concept
The continent of Jugdral, a land influenced by Norse Mythology.
Genealogy of the Holy War takes place on the continent of Jugdral. More than a hundred years ago, the evil Lopto Empire was overthrown by the Twelve Crusaders. The Crusaders founded kingdoms across the continent, while the remnants of the Empire sought refuge in the Yield Desert, hoping one day to resurrect the dark god Loptyr and restore their reign. In the year 757, the kingdom of Grannvale launches a military expedition to the nation of Isaach to punish them for their actions in the Desert. Little do the people of Jugdral know that this will lead to the start of a new Holy War…

The fan patch offers a decent translation, but it's pretty basic.
Genealogy of the Holy War has the best story out of any Fire Emblem game. It has some great world building and backstory, and is filled with political intrigue, betrayal, and incest (yes, you read that right). For a Fire Emblem game with support conversations, it handles its characters quite well, even with so little screentime for many of its characters. My one complaint is that it’s way too black and white; the good guys are saints (sometimes literally) and the bad guys are demonic jerks (sometimes literally). Still, it’s Fire Emblem’s best story and, as far as I know, the darkest the games have ever gotten.

Graphics and Design
A sample battle animation.
I can’t really complain about the SNES’s graphics, since I’m too young to truly appreciate the era. However, I have grown fond of the simplicity of Genealogy's graphical design. The character design is simple but effective, which is par for the course for Fire Emblem. Same goes for the battle animations, especially when you change them to map only. Really, I can’t say much bad about Genealogy graphically; simple, yes, but more than adequate.

Sound and Music

Fire Emblem games almost always have great soundtracks, and Genealogy is no exception. It’s music fits each and every situation perfectly. Each piece of music sounds very medieval in instrumentation, and I haven’t found a track I didn’t enjoy listening to. The sound effects in this game are also quite good, giving me a really nostalgic feeling. I really like this game’s sound design, even if the boss music is comparatively unimpressive.

You control an army of blue guys and wipe out the red guys. Pretty simple.
Genealogy is much like past Fire Emblem games in terms of its core gameplay. You control an army of units, each with their own class and stats, and you engage in turn based strategy with the enemy. It includes FE’s iconic weapon triangle (swords have an advantage over axes, axes have advantage over lances, and lances have advantage over swords), as well as the ability to promote units when they’ve reached a certain level. However, there are many things that make Genealogy unique from other games in the series.

The map of Chapter 4. Note the multiple castles to seize.
The first major difference is Genealogy’s map design. The game features maps much larger than the Fire Emblem norm, and rather than have a single objective, each map has multiple. This makes the maps in Genealogy feel more like full campaigns and not just battles. I appreciate the idea, but there are some downsides to this aspect of the game. For one, the sheer size of the map means that low movement units have difficulty keeping up with any mounted unit, which is a serious problem in a game that puts so much emphasis on speedy advances. Another is that the maps themselves lack variety in the landscape, and are often too open. The map design is not Awakening-level barren, but I still feel it could have been much better.

How you pair up the first generation of units is crucial for the second half of the game.
Another major part of the game is the marriage mechanic. If two units of the opposite sex spend enough time next to each other, they will eventually fall in love. Starting in Chapter 6, the pairings you made with the first set of units will determine the abilities and stats of the children characters. I actually really like the children system, as it rewards intelligent players for making wise pairings with powerful children units. It also encourages experimentation to see which pairings work and which don’t. It does bring up a huge problem with the game, but we’ll get to that later.

A shot of the Home Castle.
There are other elements in Genealogy worth noting. One is the home castle, from which you can deploy units, promote units, buy items, and fight in the arena for experience and gold. Each unit has their own supply of gold, which they increase by winning arena battles and visiting villages. Each unit has access to abilities that aid them in battle. For example, the Critical skill can unleash a strike with double damage depending on the unit’s skill stat. All these add layers of strategy to the game, and I like each one of them.

That little peninsula in the southwest corner gives the player one of the best items in the game, but only if a certain unit stands on it.
However, the game is not without its faults. The biggest would be the beginner unfriendly this game is. Without consulting a guide, this game can be incredibly difficult, if not nearly impossible. For instance, there are several hidden conversations and events that can only be triggered in certain circumstances. These usually net the player stat boosts or powerful items, but without a guide, new players can easily miss out on these items. Heck, some items are only obtainable by having a specific unit standing in a specific tile. And don’t even get me started with the amount of research needed to find decent pairing. Out of all the Fire Emblem games I’ve played, this is the only one where a guide is practically needed.

That being said, the game does offer a fair challenge if you know what you’re doing. The RNG, while more brutal than more modern Fire Emblem titles, is still fair. The game does a great job of reward smart moves and punishes any player that leaves an opening. I especially appreciate how the enemy AI gradually gets more brutal and cunning as the game progresses, instead of having brain dead enemy units that rush into your sword at all times. Even with the high barrier of entry, Genealogy is a fair challenge for any strategy enthusiast.

I have a few nitpicks, like the lack of a trade mechanic, or the near uselessness of several characters in a game where every unit counts, but those aren’t big enough hindrances to prevent an enjoyable experience.

Final Words
Genealogy is a hard game, make no mistake, but it’s also a great experience. It presents a fair challenge, an intriguing story, and great music. For any dedicated Fire Emblem fan or strategy enthusiast, this is definitely worth a download. Just be warned: going in blind is not recommended.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Weapon of the Week: Cooper Cane

Who needs $300 worth of burglar tools when you have a fancy looking stick?

Franchise: Sly Cooper
Appearances: All Sly games
Type: Bludgeon, tool

What is a thief’s most valuable tool? His quick wits? How about a well thought out plan? Maybe a weapon if something goes wrong? You may have your own opinion, but for one thief, his most valuable tool is his family heirloom.

The Sly Cooper games center around the titular character and his partners in crime. He comes from a long line of master thieves who specialize in stealing from criminals. Each have managed to create their own thieving techniques and unique thieving styles. The Cooper Clan’s exploits have been the focus of the series’s stories, from the Thievius Raccoonus, the book that is used to teach the techniques to the children of the Coopers, to the Cooper Vault, a vault containing greatest treasures stolen by the clan. And regardless of the Cooper in question, none are seen without their cane.

The Cooper cane is the iconic tool of the Cooper Clan, and it’s to see why. The cane is incredibly versatile, able to aid any Cooper in his adventures. The cane can be used to latch onto hooks, help a Cooper attach himself to a climbable object, pickpocket unsuspecting guards, and can even serve as a tool of offense when cornered. Without the cane, none of the Coopers would ever come close to the thieving masters they are.

The Cooper cane is a thief’s best friend, or at least it would be if it isn’t for a brainiac turtle and a muscly hippo. Next time, we’ll look closer at a certain heroic robot. Until then, see ya.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Press Start: Top Seven Video Game Sequels

Sequels have big shoes to fill. Usually, a sequel means the first game was well received enough or sold well enough to warrant another game. The developers have to be extra careful, since so many things can go wrong. New problems could arise from introducing new mechanics, or even trying to fix problems with the original game. Making any sort of mistake with the sequel could result in the game being worse than the original. Making a sequel is a precarious matter, which is why a great sequel is something to celebrate.

There are a few things to keep in mind when reading this list. First, I can only put games I’ve played on this list, so you won't be seeing games like Portal 2 or Resident Evil 4 or any other games that I recognize as good sequels but haven’t played. Second, this is my opinion, so if you don’t see your favorite sequel on this list, don’t sweat; this isn’t an official, end-all-be-all list. Third, if there’s a sequel you think I should play, leave a suggestion in the comments! With that said, let’s get started.

#7- Borderlands 2

The original Borderlands was one of my favorite FPS games. Not only did it have great co-op and gunplay, but it had tons to do and explore, with a wicked sense of humor to boot. However, the game still lacked a few things. For one, the story and universe were wafer thin, and the game lacked a lot of variety in its locations. It was still fun the whole way through, but improvements could have definitely been made. Great thing the sequel did that and then some.

Borderlands 2 fixes most things wrong with the first game and adds tons more. Thought the Pandora in the first game was too barren? Now you can explore glaciers, badlands, forests, and tons more. Thought there were too little people? Now the planet is filled with hilarious NPCs and allies. Want more guns? Good golly, you’ll get more guns! Not the mention the boatload of new content added with all the DLC. This is easily one of the best sequels I’ve ever played, but I happen to like the next six more. Still, can’t go wrong with a spirited session of shooting and looting.

#6- Devil May Cry 3

The Devil May Cry franchise got off to a bad start with me. I thought the first game was, while fun, was heavily flawed. It felt clunky and even unpolished in some places. The second game was worse, managing to be boring and unengaging. My expectations weren’t very high when getting ready to play the third game, and after seeing one of the greatest cinematic openings in gaming history, my fears were quickly put to rest.

Devil May Cry 3 is not only a huge step up from the first two games, but it’s also one of the best hack and slash games out there. With loads of combat options, several crazy weapons, and amazing boss fights, DMC3 offers a stylish adventure match by very few games. And for an extra edge, it’s crazy hard. There’s so much for a hardcore action gamer to love about DMC3, from Dante to every crazy combo you can pull off.

#5- Rayman Legends

Rayman is an underrated franchise. It’s home to some fantastic and creative platformers. One of them was Rayman Origins, a return to the 2D roots with some tight platforming and beautiful visuals. There wasn’t much wrong with Origins to begin with, but when its sequel went so far beyond, I was truly impressed.

Rayman Legends is filled to the brim with brilliance. Not only is it a well designed platformer, but it is jam packed with content and creativity. With levels set to wacky renditions of popular songs, the ability to replay levels from Origins, tons of things to do in each level, Legends lives up to its name as a legendary platformer. The music is also amazing, with memorable instrumentals, some even including instruments like kazoos and didgeridoos. Rayman Legends is perhaps the greatest 2D platformer I’ve ever played, and it’s an amazing sequel.

#4- Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time

Sly Cooper deserves way more attention, if you ask me. From the first game on, the games have been fun romps through colorful worlds with equally colorful characters. Even though the series isn’t very big, it will always be one of my favorite franchises. So of course, when I heard it was finally getting another installment after nearly ten years, I was ecstatic. Even though it was handled by a different developer, the new installment was just as good, if not better, than any of the original trilogy.

Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time is one of the greatest love letters ever written. Its more than just a fanservice game for Sly fans; it’s a full blown, incredibly satisfying adventure through time. It features some great platforming, hilarious dialogue, and succeeds in capturing the magic that made Sly so great in the first place. Not to mention all the replayability this game has. This game does nearly everything right, and as a fan of Sly, it makes me very happy. I hope that we get to see Sly and the gang in another adventure soon.

#3- Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door

Mario has games encompassing nearly every genre out there. He’s done sports games, puzzle games, and even RPGs. Surprisingly, some of Mario’s best titles are his RPGs. Games like Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga and Super Mario RPG stand as some of the best games Mario has to offer. Recently, I played the original Paper Mario on the Virtual Console, and while it was an enjoyable game, it made me appreciate one of my favorite games even more.

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door is a fantastic RPG experience, and a step up in every category over its predecessor. It features a better battle system, better music, a better sense of humor, better settings, better characters, and better use of the paper gimmick. On its own, it's already a brilliant RPG, but when taking its predecessor into account, it’s amazing to see how far the sequel goes. This game is brilliant, and is perhaps my favorite GameCube game ever.

#2- Kingdom Hearts II

You’d be surprised on what could work as a video game. How about a game where the hero spends his time catching highly intelligent monkeys? Sure. Or how about a game where a three inch tall robot cleans a house and befriends all the family’s toys? Sounds great. How about a crossover between Final Fantasy and Disney where you play as a kid wielding a giant key? You’d think that’d flop, but now it’s a huge franchise. Kingdom Hearts may be out-there, but it’s a terrific series of games, home to one of the greatest video game sequels.

Kingdom Hearts II, like Thousand Year Door, is an amazing game in its own right, but it's absolutely incredible as a sequel. The combat got a flashy overhaul with more combat options and the introduction of reaction commands. Bosses got bigger, badder, and more satisfying to fight. The music is more memorable and features some of my favorite music tracks. The game is such a huge step up in terms of gameplay and presentation that I find it hard to go back to the original game. But there’s still one video game sequel I like even more…

#1- Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal

Did I mention how much I like Ratchet and Clank? I have? Well, let me do it again.

Ratchet and Clank is my favorite franchise. I grew up with it, and I have no intent to stop playing it any time soon. Every game brings forth an assortment of crazy weapons to blow up a new batch of bad guys with. While not all of the games are perfect, even the worst games are just mediocre. Ratchet has an impressive track record, and under his belt is, in my opinion, the perfect example of a video game sequel. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal.

As a sequel, Up Your Arsenal does nearly everything right. The new mechanics introduced in Going Commando, like upgrading weapons and profitable sidequests, are finetuned for a much better experience. The level design is top notch, and the game never reaches an unfair level of difficulty. The series’s tone remains intact, delivering some truly hilarious moments. Not only those this game do everything better than its predecessor, but it handles itself so expertly, it’s practically the perfect sequel.

Hope you enjoyed yourselves! As always, constructive criticism is welcome.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Sentai Time! Double Follow-up

In order to clear up some backlog, I’ve decided to do follow-ups of both Kyoryuger and Shinkenger at once. Sounds unwieldy? Maybe, but I think its worth trying trying. Let’s start with…

New Rangers
Kyoryu Silver and his partner Bragigas supply up to one-fifth of the world's badass.
It’s worth mentioning that Kyouryuger is the Super Sentai series with the most rangers, with 10 rangers spread over 21 different characters. That being said, the tenth ranger, Kyoryuger Silver, is easily my favorite auxiliary ranger of the series (it wouldn’t be fair to call him a 6th ranger, because the team already has one). His debut was so damn awesome I couldn’t help but smile the whole way through. It also helps that he’s one of the shows best characters. I won’t spoil his identity, but I definitely look forward to him lending his strength more often.

Make sushi. Act hammy. Beat up demons. All in a day's work.
As for Shinkenger, the sixth ranger of the the team is Genta, Takeru’s childhood friend who becomes Shinken Gold in battle. I honestly have mixed feelings about Genta. A lot of his actions are carried out in this manic energy that made Go-Onger so annoying for me. His wild actions seem seem to tone down as the show progressed, but the energy his actor puts in the role is often too over-the-top. However, in battle, Shinken Gold probably has my favorite style out of all the Shinkengers, and I have to admit his manic actions carry over well when in the suit. He’s growing on me, but it’ll take a while to get over the lousy first impression.

New Mecha
This is Bragi-Oh, who must be a RPG character because his weapon is as big as he is.
The newest mech in Kyoryuger is Bragigas, a silver brachiosaurus robot and partner of Kyoryu Silver. Just like his partner, Bragigas has a brilliant debut, with his humanoid form, Gigant Bragi-Oh, completely no-selling all the enemies’ attacks. He’s probably my favorite giant Zyudenryu, but I have to say its fusion with Kyoryuzin is probably more dorky than like an ultimate weapon. Still, you can go wrong with a giant robot with an axe as big as it is.

The crown makes it all work.
Shinkenger brings the Ebi Origami, a gold lobster mech created by Shinken Gold, to the party. Its humanoid form, Daikai-Oh, a colorful robot with several different weapons based on the four cardinal directions. Daikai-Oh is a very versatile and very interesting robot, but what really steals the show is Daikai Shinken-Oh, a fusion of Shinken-Oh and Daikai-Oh. The design is steller, and its ultimate attack is a true spectacle. As far as ultimate weapons go, its really, really cool.

Super Forms
Too silly, you say? Not silly enough, say I!
At this point in both series, the super form has been introduced. For Kyoryuger, the only ranger to have a super form is Kyoryu Red. His super form is called Kyoryu Red Carnival, and it allows him to borrow the powers of Kyoryuzin’s various combinations. This form packs several new, flashy attacks, and the ability to change armaments mid battle is something I really like. I do have to protest that Kyoryu Red is the only one to get the super treatment, but most fights that have had Kyoryu Red Carnival have been very enjoyable.

"Elvis Goes to Japan" never really took off.
Shinkenger’s super form had a much better build-up, but I found the payoff to be more disappointing. Yes, the first use of it by Shinken Red is pretty impressive, but the super form doesn’t look very...super. I’ll admit I haven’t seen it in action too much, but I still find the super form to be underwhelming.  

Thoughts on Kyoryuger
For a brief time, the Deboss Army had a new general: Endolf, the Chevalier of Hate. despite being based on a candle (of all things, a candle is what you chose?), he’s probably the strongest knight in service of Deboss. There isn’t much I can say against him. I like his personality, his fighting style, his sexy voice, and especially his combat prowess. My only objection to him is that he disappears after only a few episodes (for plot relevant reasons that I won’t spoil). Had he stuck around, I would have loved it.

Other than that, Kyoryuger is progressing smoothly, and I’m still enjoying the show an awful lot. It’s lighthearted without being void of entertainment. It’s energetic without being manic. The fights are as excellent as ever. I’m totally looking forward to the final 12 episodes.

Thoughts on Shinkenger
Super Sentai may be a kid’s series, but Shinkenger can get dark sometimes. How dark? How about one of their villains being a woman scorned who burned down her crush’s wedding? How about another villain who became a demon so that he could experience the joy of killing for a longer time? But despite this, Shinkenger never gets too gloomy. It maintains a great balance between its darker elements and the light elements usually found in Super Sentai. I look forward to the next set of episodes.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Weapon of the Week: Neotank

What's a neotank? Only the most sophisticated weapon ever conceived! And it's spherical! SPHERICAL!

In terms of a straight-up strategy game, the closest you’re getting from Nintendo would be their Wars series. Stretching back all the way to the Famicom (the Japanese equivalent to the NES), Nintendo’s Wars series involves the player (or players) producing an army to control and eventually conquer the map. The series did not see an international release until 2001 with Advance Wars. The international releases introduced several new mechanics, such as CO Powers, abilities that could turn the tide of battle, and weather conditions.

The Advance Wars games gives the player tons of units to work with. From the tank, which serves as your army’s backbone, to the bomber, which spells doom for pretty much any land unit, every unit has a use. Each game introduces new units to play around with. Advance Wars Dual Strike, for example, introduced the piperunner, an artillery unit with great range but can only move on pipes. The subject of today’s post is the new unit introduced in Advance Wars 2: the neotank.

The neotank is a superweapon developed by the villainous Black Hole. While expensive to deploy, the neotanks pack a powerful blast that can obliterate most land units. While it was outclassed by the megatank in Dual Strike, it still has several legs up over it; it's much more mobile, has more ammo, and much more fuel. The neotank is a unit with few downsides that can steamroll most land units thrown at it.

The neotank is the best land unit of both Advance Wars 2 and Dual Strike, and it’s a shame it didn’t make it into Days of Ruin. Next time, we’ll look at a rodent’s favorite thieving tool. Until then, see ya.