Earthbound Beginnings: The Giygas Menace

Introduction:

“Either my great-grandad let the smoke machine on for too long or Yellowstone just found some competition.” Image from Wikibound

The year is 1988 as a dark storm looms over America…and it wasn’t the new Coca-Cola taste. The adults of a town are taken away until only children are left. Living cars, strange monsters, and animals not in their right mind roam the country. Pissing on said cars and giving people hernias. A young queen in a distant wherever the hell Magicant is loses her memory and a special song. All these strange phenomena occur as the clouds of evil nest above Mt. Itoi, and an extraterrestrial being plots their evil scheme.

The young Philips CDI awakens from his…nap on his singular chair? Either way, as he leaves to get some juice, an attack from a poltergeist interrupts his day. A lamp with a smile, the first of many victims, strikes at the boy with his tangling thing that turns him on (I didn’t mean to word it that way), but Ninten (his actually name) smashes the ceramic lamp of $12. He bursts into his sister’s rooms and savagely beats on another lamp and doll. The day is saved, but not until the inside of the doll sings the first part of a secret melody. Going downstairs to resume his day, Ninten’s father 7 years late gives him a call about his great grandfather, revealed to be George, the kidnapped man in the beginning, and of PSI. He tells Ninten to go to the basement, go on an adventure, ignore the trap door, and learn of his powers that he totally had the entire time. Armed with his abuelo’s diary, a map, and a loaf of stale bread with a bit of fermentation, our young hero sets out to Podunk These Nuts to investigate the strange occurrences of the land and learn of his family’s history. Along with him on the ride is a catholic, a boy from within a trash can, and the guy from one of the Romantic’s album covers.

Earthbound Beginnings/ Mother 1: The Classic Lost In Magicant

“Podunk, where the kids where blue and the adults have blue hair. Guess this is L.A then.”

Itoi’s vision brought to life when he, besides being a famed copywriter and celebrity, wanted to make a video game after playing the NES for a while. Though he thought his proposal didn’t convince Miyamoto during a trip to Nintendo, which was originally for a different business purpose, due to the previous flop of another celebrity tie-in-game named Takeshi’s Challenge, he was given the go. He started Ape Inc and developed Mother for release on July 27, 1989.

Inspired by Dragon Quest and named after the John Lennon song, the game is a simple RPG with towns to traverse through and enemy jack@sses to randomly meet. At the time, it was a unique distinction from other RPGs due to taking place in a modern setting, America (the most modern place ofcourse), unlike the medieval themed locals of Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. So, no black mages and roaming dragons; you’re a Giants fans fighting cars and eating burgers like a MERICAN! Instead of temples or ruins, you explore Abandoned Zoos and caves…and some ruins. While an Urban Fantasy isn’t unique these days anymore, it was an innovative move for RPGs back in the late 80s.

Though a bit rushed, shown in Mt. Itoi, the game was released on the NES and was a huge hit in Japan. Unfortunately, possibly due to the release of the Super NES over in the states, the game’s finished localized version was never released here. So, the game in America never came to America. 80s kids wouldn’t get their kicks of psychic kids and stinky humor until the release of Earthbound. While not official, fans did get a hold of the localized cartridge back in the day and put the ROM online, translating it as Earthbound Zero. However, in 2015, Nintendo did the unthinkable and released the original english translation onto the Wii U due to fan dedication. 27 years…and for the low price of $6.99. No one, ever, can tell me the Wii U was a bad console. Not great but, hey, at least this game and Metroid gave it recognition.

I played the game a while back, and went back for the sake of this review, after playing Earthbound and learning the prequel was on the Wii U. I didn’t have one at the time, so I ended up borrowing my brother’s. While I did enjoyed it myself, it’s a very flawed game besides, of course, the fact that it’s old as balls. Some aspects aren’t bad while others can totally influence whether or a not a person would want to buy it. Keep in mind, though, that it’s not a newer title and I won’t compare it much to our current era.

With that in mind, I’ll get into the review.

Gameplay:

If you’re familiar with Earthbound, the regular gameplay elements of Beginnings are not different at all. The menus are layered the same, the bag is limited (yet somehow worse), the walking animations are the same, the battles are fought mostly the same, and PP is still filled in the tank (better go to the bathroom for that).

Talking to people and checking random garbage still requires going up to them and using the corresponding option on the menu, just like real life! Hotels, hospitals, and stores function the same. You get money from enemies and access it through an ATM, and you save by calling your dad (or save states on the Wii U). Goods and equipment are stored in the bag, though their is no equipment menu. All and all, this sets up the basics that the rest of the series will follow, and isn’t too different at first that it will require someone to struggle getting adjusted. Even if you didn’t play the original, it’s not too hard to get used to.

There are still major and minor differences, both good and bad, to go through.

Overworld: Where the h3ll am I?

The overworld of Beginnings is detailed similar to how Earthbound would be designed, though the NES makes these towns and locations very basic. I’ll get back to this later.

One of the things that did get annoying in Earthbound is the slow overworld movement. After a while of playing, the slog of walking did make going through areas boring. In a weird switcharoo, this game decided to feature a run button!

“Accurate representation of me with the B button: sh!tty look and all.” Image by Kwentan

Well, not exactly a run button. Just like how emulators have a speed up command, the English translators made the B button a speed up button to move around areas fasters. So, it’s less like running and more like breaking the fabric of time to get to places faster. This is a great feature in the English version as a run button helps explore the world better.

From Podunk to Ellay, originally named after holidays similar to the number theme in Earthbound, America is a large world that can be explored at any time. This is because, unlike the linear story of Earthbound, Beginnings has a non-linear campaign where a lot can be seen in any order and not everything is required. For instance, Ana, Paula if she experiences frostbite every 2 seconds, is not a required party member to beat the game. So, you do the entire journey without her, though not getting her is a pretty bad idea.

“That first road…so many 60s freaks. So many Beatles fans!” Image from Wikibound

Admittedly, I never took advantage of this aspect of the game. I would have loved a non-linearness experience if the game wasn’t confusing as hell. Now, you get a map of where you generally are, which is great, but it is really not specific. The graphics has its ups and downs, and those downs include all the forest and plain paths looking very similar together. It can become disorienting and you can get turned around a lot trying to do everything if you don’t pay attention.

The dialogue, unless I’m dumb as bricks, was so vague on where exactly stuff was located that I had to use a guide for the whole game. I don’t complain much about a game requiring an outside source much since it’s not actually a part of the game, and I think that a game that doesn’t handhold too much is good. But this game lands on the spectrum where the lack of direction makes for a more frustrating playthrough where a guide is required for the whole thing. For us, in the age of Twitter mobs and moms living near our area, guides are readily available for use. But for the kids back in the day, how the hell did you beat this game?

Okay, maybe I’m being too harsh; it was a different time. Maybe it isn’t that bad…until you get to the major difference compared to its successor. One of my favorite features in Earthbound is the enemies being in the overworld. It allows for strategy on how you can approach them-would you want to wait for an opportunity to get the back or just avoid them all together-and adds a level of engagement that I wish more JRPGs had. Of course, Beginnings couldn’t do that. Random battles are initiated whenever exploring outside a city. The problem isn’t that there are random battles, because how can I be mad at a game that didn’t do the thing its successor did, but rather its damn encounter rate. Step out of the city and you’re gonna fight something. Idk who’s gonna appear after the black screen but you’re gonna fight something.

“Don’t go into the long grass! Not into the long grass!”

Exploring wouldn’t be so bad if every single step didn’t have the high chance of a fight. The encounter rate is so high that just one step after the other could be another. On the one hand, it adds a level of difficulty where you have to be cautious at every turn. On the other hand, it’s arbitrary and makes exploring more of a chore. It drags the pacing of an already slow plot. The battles themselves aren’t too bad but after a while I just want to get to the objective done with. Exploring the world was one thing, but the high encounter rate makes the guide even more necessary to finish it without pulling out so many hairs. (To really get the gist, watch Alphs video on Earthbound Beginnings. His joke on the random battles sums it up).

On a last note, the reason I didn’t talk to a lot of the people in town and found their vague dialogue an annoyance is because I find the actual civilized areas of the game to be really boring and unremarkable. Some places do stick out like Magicant, Spookane, and Youngtown, but everywhere else barely stood out from one another. The only thing separating the same skyscraper and house design is the layout of the town. Don’t get me wrong, this game does have a lot of strange and wonderful moments. But when it comes to the normal npcs, they aren’t as quirky, dark, or interesting. Unless it was in a story-related area of the place, I basically ignored most people. It’s really Earthbound that refined this and made a lot of regular NPCs quirky. NES argument aside, it’s really lackluster. Hopefully with a new reimagining coming out soon, the team can give each town a distinct look and vibe.

Battles: All Quest, One Dragon.

“I like to imagine that you’re fighting the whole d@mn background and not just a pair of eyes.”

The battle system here is more in-line with Dragon Quest 2, from what I’ve seen of footage due to not having a Projared level collection of games, but does have many generic JRPG conventions. The battle starts, you input commands, and you wait to see what happens. No rolling HP system to save a party member before death, none of the characters have a special trait that can be used in battle, and none of that psychedelic background that burns the retinas. Only 3 party members can be used as opposed to the 4 in Earthbound. A black background, a few enemies, basic controls, and that’s it. It’s old but simple, though my favorite aspect about the aesthetics of these battle screens is the way enemy sprites manifest. In Earthbound and Mother 3, they are just there the moment it starts. I like that, in this game, it’s like the enemies are appearing from the black drapes like a play ready to stand still and do weird things.

On the battle menu, you have the normal attack, the PSI, the Goods, Run, and Check; the basis for what Earthbound’s would become. The latter is unique to this game, essentially a universal Spy for everyone to check the enemies’ stats and weaknesses. There isn’t much to write or go in depth on; you pick the action, wait your turn, and be done with battles. Because of the encounter rate, the simplicity can become a double-edged sword and cause some disinterest. I found myself spamming the A button during some sessions; a bane for all JRPGs. I only became disinterested after a while, but whenever I refresh myself these basic battles were engaging enough to keep me going.

With the battles out of the way, I’ll go into the main characters and then into the story and my thoughts on it.

Character:

Ninten: Doing what Sega can’t

“So, when do I come into Smash? When do I get a mailing list? What do you think I am, the postal service?” Image from Wikibound

The young main protagonist thrusted to investigate the strange cases in America and learn how his family is connected to everything. Like Ness and Lucas, Ninten is a strictly supportive PSI user. The only attack he has is the physical ones, which he uses a bat to execute. Ninten, though, stands out compared to Ness and Luca due to not having offensive skills like Flash or a secret, special attack (Rockin and Love). Ninten has all the healing moves and shields but does have other abilities. Like Lucas, Ninten has stat buffs, standing out with a speed boost move. He has a defense down debuff and the Beginnings unique 4-D Split, a guaranteed run away (none of the annoying mechanics of running away normally in Earthbound) but with a high PP cost.

I actually like that the protagonist is a support user because I feel as though they do much more in battle than if they were offensive. It makes the protagonist’s “power of friendship” matter because they are the ones keeping their friends alive. Nothing wrong with an offensive MP, but I think Ninten being the strict tanky support made for a more unique character.

One last aspect of Ninten, more of a crutch, is his asthma. Like Homesickness, it keeps Ninten from attacking. I love that a status ailment is also a part of the character, but it does get annoying during significant battles. The only way to heal it is through a asthma bottle or ending the fight. Only in Beginnings.

Saint Ana’s Fire: Snowman in Motion

“How lonely must it be in Snowman for Ana to fall in love with the first boy she sees in a dream?” Image from Wikibound

Paula’s predecessor and the main offensive PSI attacker in the group. She’s a young Christian girl from the white winter of Snowman who’s shy but kind. She joins the quest for the Holy Grail in order to find her missing mother. Ana’s role in the party is the offensive PSI glass-cannon, and bless the lord is she one of the best…when you get her up them levels. As the only one, she gets moves like Freeze and Fire that helps against enemies weak against special moves. Train her up and she gets the PK Beam, which is essentially the PK Rockin and Love of the game except Ana and other enemies get it. Also, it has a vendetta against one sorry mother fu-

But, the best thing about Ana compared to Paula is how much of a Jack of All Trades she is. She gets all the healing moves, up staging Ninten with Lifeup Omega, many status ailment moves like Paralysis, PK Magnet, PK Block, shield and shield breaks, and a frying pan. When she gets these moves, she proves her weight. But, like our next party member, she is a chore to catch up with Ninten due to being lv 1 when you recruit her. This was a chore in Earthbound but Paula is found at a reasonable place. Snowman had some powerful enemies like the Coca-Cola bear, and keeping her alive was pretty difficult. But it would be an understatement to say that Ana is a powerful ally.

Pink Lloyd: Wish You Were Here, Sometimes

“I’m so stereotypically nerdy that the designers surgically infused my glasses into my retinas!” Image from Wikibound

Jeff if he looked like his dad and had a lower IQ. I’m not being mean, there is no IQ stat here so Lloyd is technically dumber. A coward from Merrysville found in Twinkle Elementary, he joins Ninten on his quest after the latter assists him in getting and releasing fireworks from the Sweet’s ol’Little Factory. No idea why Morrigan Freeman suddenly paid rent in my head when I wrote that. He’s the only party member besides Pippi that is required to recruit in order to finish the game, as he’s needed to fix Eve the robot randy.

At first, Lloyd is a pretty weak. Like Ana, he starts at a pretty low level so he requires grinding to get him up to speed. I found him to be worse than Ana when this occurred since Lloyd doesn’t do much in the beginning. Because he only has a gun and no PSI, he doesn’t do a lot of damage in the beginning, so he’s a lot more tedious and boring compared to the others. As a physical attacker, Teddy does the job better than him later on. However, Lloyd does become more useful when he gets access to his gadgets, similar to Jeff. Unlike his blonde counterpart, the goods exclusive to Lloyd are only bought in certain stores rather than made using the IQ stat. Some of his best ones are the Laser Guns (PK Laser as an item), the Flamethrower (PK Fire as an item), and the bombs.

I do like how Lloyd only goes with Ninten because they become genuine friends together. Ana and Teddy join the cause because they have a personal vendetta with the main antagonist, but Lloyd lacks this character trait. Some might see him as the worst or the most uninteresting because of that, but it speaks more when you realize he’s doing this journey to better himself and be there for the first friend he ever made.

ICUPippi: …and she’s gone.

Teddy Roosevelt: Of the Booty-Busting Gang

“I suddenly looked at his weird hair, cropped it out, and pasted Gerald’s face from Hey Arnold under it. I hope all of you can’t unsee it.”

The leader of the Bla-Bla Gang (Black Blood Gang in the Japanese version because everything sounds cooler in Japan) who joins Ninten on their quest very late game (or early) to head to Mt. Itoi in order to avenge his parents who died there. He first appears as a boss before Ninten uses his balls for baseball. I like Teddy cause he uses swooordds, and looks like the Fonz. Shout out to all the greasers still thinking John F Kennedy is the president. Teddy is the Poo of the game since he’s the fourth member to join (still the 3rd since he shanks Lloyd to take his spot) but is more of a predecessor to Frank the Fly as a gang leader and the usage of blades.

Teddy is a one trick pony for physical attacks, but he’s no poo poo at the job. He gets the highest stats in the game with a physical stat of 86 compared to Ninten’s 5 and Lloyd’s 4, so his physical attacks using swords (his best being a damn katana) are on par with some powerful PSI attacks. I’ll admit it, I enjoyed his company. I actually liked the idea of the Frank character being a prominent party member, though his late entry doesn’t give you much time with him. Unfortunately, unless you do cheats, Teddy never gets to fight the final boss, being injured during the attack by a giant robot. I did sigh in anguish when Lloyd came back, but laughed when he did it riding solo in a tank.

Fun fact: because of the ambiguity of the Japanese version, it’s not clear whether or not Teddy survived his wounds. He is technically the only party member to potentially die.

The Story: Sporadic, But in a Fun and Creepy Way

The story and plot can be sporadic, and slow due to mentioned grievances, but it has a charm to it that becomes a staple for the franchise. It’s child-like writing definitely fits well with the game’s Peanut artstyle. You deliver a baby chick back into a town made up of chickens, ride a tank in a desert in search of a monkey cave, and talk to a man who feels forgotten. Combined with this imagination is a level of depth sometimes explored in the open that keeps it from being nothing more than a dumb kids game.

I call it sporadic because the main story only comes in snit-bits. It starts with the phone call, but really begins when you visit Queen Mary of Magicant, a pink cloud world full of Magician Reds and freakin eyeballs, for the first time. While the small cases around the world are important, getting the 8 melodies is how you actually progress into the finale. Some moments like the haunted house is connected to the melodies, keeping them from feeling like unnecessary filler, while others are annoyingly scattered throughout the country with vague hints to where they are.

The moment Queen Mary gets her memories back: “Lalala, I love living in-hey, what’s that ligh-“

It all comes together at the end when you sing the 8 melodies to Queen Mary, which reveals her identity as Maria (Ninten’s great-grandmother), and Giegue. It’s revealed that Maria, after getting yeeted to space, had taken care of Giegue 80 years ago liker her own Mewtwo…child. What the hell is that thing. Well, “that thing” invaded Earth due to George noping out of captivity and stealing the knowledge of PSI from his race. Thinking back on it, it’s a really good twist that adds a personal touch to Ninten and Giegue’s conflict. I love how tragic Giygas’s origin is and I’m glad Itoi added some depth to what could have been a generic final villain. With the little bits of George and Maria given in this game, it really puts everything together to make a unique “alien invasion” story. I do wish it was mentioned more and was put into full focus besides the 8 melodies, but I like what we get. It makes for an emotional end for the game.

What made everything so enjoyable despite how loose the plot can be is the way it induces a child-like nostalgia. Walking around a town, talking to people, and dealing with robots brings a familiar feeling like the times you’d come home from school to play on your game console, go outside in the backyard, or anything you did to escape the horrors of reality. Maybe minus the robot part, unless you’re life was more interesting than the rest. It all came together like a story we would probably make as a kid: scattered without direction but with many colorful creatures and people to encounter. However, unlike our flawed minds, this game did it with enough stability and heart to make it enjoyable for anyone.

The main characters and their small interactions, though slim, help convey this feeling while also being organic moments in the story. A stand-out moment happens when Ana and Ninten confess their love for each other. On the tops of Mt. Itoi, in a small cabin, the two tell how they feel to each alone in a room before escaping their troubles together in dance form. It’s heartwarming, cute, and conveys how everything to a child, even something small, is the most serious thing in the world. Even love…though it gets ruined by Teddy’s interference and a giant Gundam.

Yet, what stood out to me the most even to this day is its creepy and eerie atmosphere. Blue KKK and implied adult stuff is rampant in Earthbound, but it’s very subtle underneath the trip of drugs and quirky humor. Beginnings doesn’t have a lot of adult subtexts, but due to the dated graphics and supernatural moments there is a added level of eeriness that’s more blunt than it’s successor. It’s equivalent to walking around an empty town as the wind howls. Building’s creak, darkness replace doors, and you feel eyes all around you. Even within towns, the small amount of people gives an air of loneliness to this game.

“Hello, this is the Zoo help line. Waht? The animals escaped? No, honey, you’re calling on the wrong day. We only let them out when it’s Tuesday. Wait, right now? Ooooh, that’s been the blood curdling screams I’ve been hearing all day. You know, I thought it was a bit strange when that man came at the window and screamed ‘help me god, please!’ I just thought it was one of those Catholics again, running on and on about their sins. I opened the window and threw him a Devil’s cake to scurry him off. Now, honey, I’m gonna have hang up the phone now, I think the lions got out. No, they’re not reenacting Mufasa’s death, they’re eviscerating human Simba right now. I got to go, I got to go. Bye honey, I’ll see you at 4.” Image from Wikibound

One of my favorite examples happens early on when you enter into the abandoned zoo for the mayor. Kicking the monkey out and getting the key, you go in to find out why the animals have gone berserk. You wonder around alone, not a single person in sight. Some animals stay in their pens while others prowl around the facility; you’re their prey. The music brings an air of unease as you try to get to the nearest building, though I imagine its either loud from animals or silent. The graphics add to the tone, to me, because of how simple it makes everything. It’s what I love about old games because the setting is conveyed enough in a way for you to fill in the gaps with your mind. Even when you escape the jaws of the alligator and the claws of the bear, you’re still not safe in this building. It’s empty and quiet, with the only things remaining being the scuttering of rats and a strange alien in an empty room.

Beginnings finds a great balance between a children’s story and an atmospheric horror story. Though the random encounters become a chore, the difficulty puts players on the edge as danger lurks in every corner. This type of tone makes Beginnings a better alien invasion in a rural area game than Earthbound, to me. I love the quirkiness of Earthbound but I also love the atmosphere of Beginnings. It always feels like a more expanded version of the Stonehenge arc, which was very much the classic example of an alien invasion. The story of Beginnings can be frustrating to get through, and it sometimes feels like a less refined Earthbound (which it really is), but it has memorable moments and a tone that’s consistent and engaging. To me, the best aspect of each game goes as followed: Earthbound is the adventure, Mother 3 is the story, and Beginnings is the tone.

Soundtrack:

It’s okay. It helps establish the tone I ranted about earlier, but I didn’t go gaga for the soundtrack this time around. It’s not because its the NES, because I love the Mario 3 soundtrack, but more like it’s just not my kind of sound. The one’s I found the best include Magicant, the factory theme, and Giegue’s theme. Magicant utilizes the beeps and boops of the NES to create a weird but fantastical theme that really represents the world as a concept. It has an aura similar to temple themes of other JRPGS, but I find Magicant unique because it best represents what Mother is: quirky with heart. I especially love how chippy and happy it is. Most mystical themes go for an intriguing sound, but Magicant just goes full ham with its cheerful noise.

I definitely like this version a lot more than Ness’s due to being more recognizable to the ears and short. Ness’s Magicant theme is okay, definitely has bits of the original in it and fits with Ness’s whimsical and nonsensical version of the place, but I find myself leaning more toward Maria’s. Also, you can’t help and deny the remixes of the original are pretty damn emotional. Especially bauerklos’s version, which should be sued if this game gets a remake.

The factory’s theme is one of my favorite dungeon themes due to its simple execution. The foreboding nature throughout helps establish the factory as a dark place where horrors can be found, evident with the weird scientist and robot enemies. But I love how the static effect of the NES is used to make it seem the machinery is still alive in the place and continuing what they were made to do. Gives, as Henry from MXR would say, IMMERSION.

“There’s something so eye-catching and creepy about Giegue’s original look. I wonder if this is the Devil Machine.” Image from Wikibound

The final in-game song, or track, is Giegue’s theme. And when I mean song, I mean white noise and some pushes of a button. Unlike other final boss themes like from Ocarina of Time or Okami, this track doesn’t go for a high emotional punch that favors the hero or the villian. Instead, it gives an ominous sense of dread. The best way to describe it is like a UFO hovering above the battle field, its strange machinery filling the air with its presence. Sometimes it sounds like a legion of UFOs ready to attack. The theme fits Giegue and the game well because of its alien-like nature, but also makes Giygas stand out among other final bosses.

Props to him, he did it twice. It doesn’t sound like something a human would make. There’s voids in it, gaps that our imaginative minds need to fill but are denied the request. Itoi is a creative genius when it came to developing this franchise, but the tracks by Suzuki and Tanaka prove others helped in that genius.

Other Issues

Mt Itoi-This part was freaking hard when I first got there. I learned that, apparently, the team had to ship out the game before pre-testing the area for the release date. Because of that bull, the place is a huge difficulty spike. I had to actually grind for a while just to get through it. However, it becomes a joke once you find EVE as she pummels everything in sight.

“George honest to god came to this mountain and thought, ‘Mwah, mwah. Perfect location with the finest view of corpses and glitched out squirrels. Nobody visits me for some reason.” Image from Earthbound Fandom

Leveling– Skills can be learned up until around the 40s, but you can beat this game with levels under 30 (though it’d be a lot hard). I finished the game with Ninten and Lloyd around the 30 mark and Ana at 25. Similar with Pokemon Gold, I find the leveling system quite strange and unbalanced.

Does it even matter– And, as a personal thing looking back while comparing it to the trilogy, Beginnings is both really remembered and forgotten in later installments. Beginnings is definitely an important game in understanding the origins of PSI and Giygas, and yet Earthbound essentially became a reimagining of it. Ness, Paula, and Jeff are redesigns of the Beginnings party, especially Ness was designed exactly like Ninten with the hat pointing the opposite way (there is some more slightly differences). Much of the music has been reused in Earthbound: the random battle music becoming the boss theme, the Yucca Desert theme becoming the Dusty Dunes Desert theme, Pollyanna becoming Ness’s home theme, and Snowman becoming a series staple song. Certain events are played out similarly like a gang taking over a town and people being kidnapped and put into green pods. Even the story of Earthbound itself is about a group of kids finding the 8 melodies to defeat Giygas, who is influencing the world with his powers. Earthbound comes across as Beginnings refined to perfection, leaving Beginnings to feel like a first draft.

And yet, despite Earthbound originall being called “Mother 2: Giygas Strikes Back,” it’s not really a sequel because Beginnings is barely referenced. Now, fans of the series might argue the Mother series doesn’t have a concrete timeline. Beginnings takes place in 1988 but Earthbound takes place in 199X (whatever that means) meaning Giygas went to the future 10 years after Earthbound after taking over and then went back to the equivalent of a few years after the first game (yet America is never mentioned once at all and you can’t tell me Eagleland is America). Yet, Mother 3’s year is so disclosed the rest of Civilization ended by the time the prologue starts. Since Porky was directly stated to have traveled throughout time, who knows when Mother 3 took place.

Besides the lack of Mericans, none of the events that took place are referenced in the slightest. George discovering PSI, the Youngtown disappearances, or the fact an alien came. You’d think Ninten or Lloyd would have figured out that weird crap was going on. What, is CNN just as bad in fictional America? Giygas barely talks about his grand nephew and the Starmen never mention how Ness looks like the other baseball loving Asian.

Sure, Earthbound is barely mentioned in Mother 3, again from the playthrough I watched, but it’s referenced way more and is actually important to the story. Porky becomes, gasp from no one, the main villain and the end of the game basically shows you snit-bits of Ness’s journey. It’s presence is more felt here than Beginnings in Earthbound.

“I know this is for the fans but Lucas has no context for this. He must be thinking, ‘what the hell is this? I pay $2 to see some fat kid fight barf?” Image from Earthbound Fandom

I remember, before playing Beginnings, that someone had told me it wasn’t really important to play when playing all the games. I found it strange considering there are only 3 games, Nintendo please, but after playing it I can’t help but agree to an extent. I would have liked something to have been referenced, but having only Giygas be important makes the rest of Beginnings feel like an unnecessary prologue.

Overview: Is it Worth Playing?

After every compliment and criticism I gave this game, I did wonder whether or not you should actually play it as a casual or even a Earthbound fan? To the latter, I say of course! *Smack to the head* Get your hands on a ROM or pay it on the Wii U and play it. For others, understand that this is a pretty difficult experience and that this ain’t for everyone, more so than Earthbound. If you hate JRPGS, you’re gonna get hate this game. If you’re new to JRPGs, I’d say play others like Pokemon or Final Fantasy to understand how the genre works. I wouldn’t say this is an entry into this genre. If you’re a veteran JRPG player of old, new, or both, then I say check this game out after playing Earthbound. Earthbound will get you pretty situated into this weird franchise without pulling out your hair, and if you’ve only played the fantasy or science fiction games than this more modern world may become fresh for you.

“The hell category 10 hurricane is going on in the planet? Image from Wikibound

Me personally, I enjoyed the game with its faults. I enjoyed the world at its best, the story at its most critical, and the characters at their most charming. It’s hard, simple, and very strange. I mean, a town of ducks, man. I think people should play it at their own disposal or at least give it a chance. It’s not perfect, but it’s an imaginative and fairly executed experience that’ll have you singing the Eight Melodies on your Ocarina. Not the time one, Saria’s high school project one. I give Earthbound Beginnings a 6/10.

See you all when I play Mother 3 in 2056!

-Samuel Argueta

Recommendation Corner

John Lennon: Mother

This is the song that influenced Itoi to not only name the series Mother, but a lot of the creative decisions with the franchise due to Itoi connecting with Lennon as a person. Ever wonder why the first 2 games barely feature the father besides a phone? Well, I gave this song a listen to learn the roots of the franchise and for my novel.

The only way for me to describe the emotions of this song is a cry for help.

Image from wikipedia, all credit goes to the original uploader.

SSSS. Dynazenon

The continuation of SSSS. Gridman and the anime I’ve been watching for the summer. It’s a bit slower and I do find the original more interesting, but this show has its strengths and definitely has a good cast of characters. I also haven’t finished it, so take my words with a grain of salt.

Image from Gridman Fandom, all credit to original uploader

Super Metroid

Super Metroid is one of those rare games to me where I can repeatedly play it and never get bored. The amount of replayability is so good that it’s better than any of the overdone statements people have used to describe it. The alien world is fully detailed and gives a tone of mystery and exploration.

Get it on the Switch, the 3ds, or the Wii U. This game is the definition of what a video game should be, and Nintendo pulled this off in the 90s!

Quickee: My First Gunpla! HG Wing Gundam Zero

Doing another unscheduled quickee to showcase my first Gundam Gunpla! I got yesterday and spent the whole day building the High Grade Wing Gundam Zero. And I gotta say, the process was fun if a little stressful and the result was a beautiful figure.

“You think Jobby’s Gundam ghost will leave him to possess my home? I’ll happily take him.”

I watched Gundam 00 when I was young but I wouldn’t say I’m a huge Gundam nerd. I only got into making a gunpla after watching tid-bits of Gundam Unicorn and watching the “Char’s Counterattack” movie. I forgot how much I love the world and stories of Gundam, and how freakin dark it can get. I definitely say give the series a chance for its moral themes and robot fights. I’m gonna try to watch more Gundam on my own, most likely gonna start with Unicorn, and see if I lose my wallet to Gunpla.

Back to the figure, I definitely love the look of the thing. I didn’t do panel lining because I didn’t have the marker for it, excuse me for my noobish charm, but it still stands out with its colors and design. Nothing screams Gundam than the beautiful V headcrest. It poses pretty well, and all its accessiories makes for some stellar poses, but I hate the shoulders. I’ll admit, I left a stress mark on the right side of the body because I thought I messed up with the shoulder parts, but the struggle is an apparent universal one. So, that sucks.

It wasn’t bad when I first made it, but posing for this guy is a chore because the arms just love to pop off. I ended up scratching a lot of the rims of the connection point because the hinge digs deep into the body whenever you try to pop the arm back it. I gotta tell ya, these photos I’m gonna show you were hell just because of the arms. I regret man-handling it the way I did now because of that stress mark and the chipped connection, but it was 12 in the morning and I’m a stubborn bastard. Beautiful figure, amazing articulation, terrible shoulders. Enjoy the shots I made (I don’t have a good setup so excuse the poor backgrounds with these shots)

BTW: If you’re wondering why I don’t have it in bird mode, I don’t like the bird mode. It doesn’t look good and it’s a pain in the ass to hold together because of the arms. The wings on this figure make it difficult for the arms to stay and handling the bird mode always popped it out. Plus, the bird mode is basically a jet transformers: arms visible, thrusters totally the legs, and it looks good if you don’t look at the bottom.

-Samuel Argueta

Quickee: Games I’m Playing Or Have Finished This Month

Star Wars: Republic Commando

I put this game in the previous post, but I can’t reiterate how good of a game it is…and how damn difficult it is. I hate how short it is, but each level is filled with droid busting mayhem and strategy that I’m too stupid to do. I got past the Abandoned Ship section and I’m now entering into Kaysheek. Whoo-hoo, gonna die horrible deaths.

This game, plus Bad Batch, have really reinvested my love for the Star Wars series. I do think the controls for this game are alright compared to be PC, but when it works it becomes a joy ride of chaos and carnage. Btw, how’s Bad Batch for you? Dave Filoni is really proving his stuff lately. Hopefully he’ll be in charge of the the next movies. No, I haven’t seen Rise of Skywalker, no I’m never watching it unless at gun point, and yes they can fly now.

I’m gonna make a review of Republic Commando sometime after I finally finish the Beginnings review (I’m making it but I’m…totally not lazy).

Metroid 2: Return To Samus

I hate this version (I started a save file of the remake on my brother’s copy, but I just never finished it), but I did enjoy beating it after 5 years of on and off sessions. I just hate how there is no map because getting lost is so easy the first time. I kept going in circles everytime I played, so I would just go to other stuff.

Last month, I decided to just get a map online and finally finish it. I enjoyed my time causing genocide on an alien species and the game, with some actually direction, can be fun to explore. But, compared to the first one and Super, this is the worst one I’ve played. I gotta get my brother’s copy of the remake again and I’m totally getting Dread.

Digimon Cyber Sleuth: Hacker’s Memory

Better than Pokemon Shield, okay compared to Cyber Sleuth. I enjoyed my time less with this game due to the lack of direction I felt with the story. Each story between the 4 on the left were good, but it felt sloppy the way each was ordered. The best is the MC’s arc, but it’s over by the middle and the finale felt too “epic” for what should have been a smaller sclae adventure. The side quests in the beginning became so annoying cause I felt the writing wasn’t as solid compared to the side quests in Sleuth, so I just focused on the main campaign.

Overall, I enjoyed it to a point but it felt like the writers lost focus compared to Cyber Sleuth and it tried to do many things without fleshing it out. Also, Eden is just as barren as the first one. Seriously, and this goes to Cyber Sleuth too, for a story where Eden is the main focus you barely get to see the parts that aren’t hacker infested.

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorer’s of Sky

This one holds a special place in my heart. I played Explorer’s of Time way back in my childhood and it was one of the best games I had on the DS. Amazing story of time and dark futures, incredible characters like Grovyle and the whole Guild, memorable moments that I won’t spoil, and gameplay that lasts for a life time. One of my first exposures to a story heavy game and it knocked it out of the park. That finale…man it puts the main line games to shame.

I’m playing through Sky this month before I go back to College and it holds up well. I get a lot of nostalgia playing and it takes me back to the less stressful days.

Final Fantasy 9

I’ve written a lot about this game in little bits, but it’s just that fantastic. I’m at Mount Gulug right now. Rather than spill about how much I love it, I gotta talk about the anime/cartoon coming how. With the old-school Disney aspect I get from the cutscenes alone, I’m gonna enjoy that show…after I’m done playing the game. I hope it doesn’t diverge too much from the source material, but it’d be cool if stuff was added to enhance the experience similar to how David Productions handles Jojo.

With a lot of politics going on, I really hope this show strays for away from that. I just want it to be the high fantasy escape that it is and that we love. Btw, I haven’t seen Projared’s video yet, but I can already tell what his feelings are about this tree

But yeah. I’m working on the Earthbound Beginnings second draft but a lot is happening over my end. I know…no excuses. New job, working on the novel, being a lazy sh!t, all that fun crap 20 year olds go through. Missed out on my brother and father’s whole vacation, so I’m making it up this weekend. Anyway, I wanted to make this as a quick little thing to show off my Switch screenshots in-between the Beginnings review.

-Samuel Argueta

My thoughts on the Gen 4 Remakes, Legends, and the franchise.

About 3 months ago, the Pokemon company had revealed their next projects after completing the DLC for Pokemon Blade Wolf and Shield Neck. These would be the long awaited Gen 4 remakes fans have, lets just say, screamed for. Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, a naming scheme they probably went with to not attract the Jojo fanbase, is coming out on November 19, 2021. Alongside these games was the surprising reveal of Pokemon Legends: Arceus, a prequel game about completing the Sinnoh Dex in what looks to be ancient Sinnoh. Also you’ll find God, but whatevs.

“Sometimes, a good vent is good. I wish I could actually explore this whole city.”

I will admit, I didn’t want the remakes. Legends is a welcome surprise, but the Sinnoh remakes was something that I dreaded. While my love for the franchise technically started with the Gen 3 era, watching the anime and playing my brother’s Firered and Emerald, I didn’t get my first game till Diamond Version.

So yes, I am a Gen 4 baby and have always loved that era of the franchise. But I did not immediately join the #Gen4Confirmed bandwagon. In fact, I would have rather have it come later and be fully fleshed outside the “One year to make it” rule. You might be asking, why was I not excited for the remakes of the region I started in? Honestly, after the past few years, I’m hesitant to going back into the mainline game.

Now, I can’t come on here and say I don’t like Pokémon anymore or that I’m some Pokémon hater. I still love many of the games and the anime, which the latter to me is at its really, and I am hopeful with Legends. To say I’m some Pokémon hater would be untrue. However, during the last part of Gen 7, my eyes opened to the practices of Gamefreak and the Pokémon Company, and after playing Sword and Shield my love for the current mainline games waned. The remakes are being made by another company, who made Home, but judging by the information of the games it’s hard for me to have some faith in them.

“I wonder if I could swim in this ocean and find another country full of blue gears. Anyway, gotta fight Groudon!”

So, though super late into this conversation, I want to get into why I personally am not getting these remakes, why I’m cautious about Legends, and why I’ll still probably get the soundtrack. It’s Gen 4 music. Pokémon has the inability to mess up soundtracks, at least. But I’ll interject my history as to why I’m so hesitant in the remakes before fully explaining what I believe will happen to the remakes.

Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl: The Trailers

“My name is Palkia. I am millions of years old. My house is in the northern section of Mt. Coronet, where all the pillars are, and I am not married. I work as an employee of Arceus, and I get home everyday by 12 am. I do not chain smoke like God, but I do occasionally hunt human-turned Pokémon. I’m in bed by 3 am, and make sure to get 4 hours of sleep, no matter what. After a warm glass of Moomoo milk and doing 20 minutes of Spacial Rends before bed, I usually have no problems sleeping until Dialga roars the time. Just like an Egg, I wake up without any pokerus or paralysis in the morning.” Image from Pokemon Fandom

From the trailer, these look like a Final Fantasy remake app (I played FF6 on there), and it’s on the Switch. While I do like the chibi style, everything about the execution feels and looks weird. The lake area is gorgeous but some of the lighting in Snowpoint City and the look of Jubilife City makes the areas look cheaper. Especially the overworld models, which I feel the original did it better, and the battle models, which the trainers look like the toys and the Pokémon are about as lazy as they were in Gen 6. Yep, still using them. The Pokémon Company sure love Earth Day.

The look of the games just leaves a lot of disappointment. Now, I understand that this is being made by another company, ILCA, and not Gamefreak, but the trailer feels like a slap to the face against the people who wanted these remakes and to the people who wanted a fully realized Sinnoh. Cause, you know, outsource the game that’s been anticipated for years to the company who made Home. Instead of creating a Sinnoh region that can be fully realized on the Switch, a home console with games such as Mario Odyssey and Breath of the Wild, they make the same looking thing 15 years ago that looks like it can be run on the damn 3ds.

The Remakes Predications: Featuring Killer Queen

“I was told there were no issues in my orb during my last check-up. I’m trying to explain that I’m a person trying to live a very quiet life. I care not to trouble myself with any enemies, like winning or losing, that would cause me to lose the little sleep I get. That is how I live as a Pokémon, and I know that is what brings me happiness. Although, if I were to fight I wouldn’t lose to anyone.” Image from Pokemon Fandom

Going into actual gameplay, according to Pokemon, they want to preserve the originals as much as possible. This, again, has huge downsides. While this is a trailer and nothing too much has been revealed, by this point I can predict what this means. One, it’s unclear if Platinum content will be added, just like how ORAS didn’t really have what Emerald had. People have noticed an NPC in Floroma Town who was only available in Platinum, which does give some hope, but just one NPC doesn’t mean the Battle Frontier or the Distortion World. Two, that may mean nothing new like the Sevii Islands in FRLG or the Safari Zone in HGSS will be added. So, these “remakes” may just be the Diamond and Pearl experience we all know and love, and I feel disappointed in that. Especially if that would mean only 3 fire types (Infernape, Rapidash, and Magmortar).

Now, as previously stated, these are being made by ICLA and not Gamefreak. However, with Junichu Masuda of Gamefreak overseeing the project, I can’t say good changes may be implemented. As the person who said they removed the Battle Frontier in ORAs because they felt kids wouldn’t have the attention span for it, this man brings a striking amount of fear. Now, I don’t hate him, at least not enough to send death threats, and you could say that one person cannot possibly ruin the game. But because of Masuda’s philosophies and previous comments concerning the 3d game’s lack of content, I feel like he hasn’t been the Masuda who helped make the Gen 2 remakes and the lead director of the Gen 5 games. He’s been there since the beginning, but a lot of the current gen doesn’t reflect that man. Onto more foreseeable problems.

The remakes may become easier in some way. Sun and Moon, at least to me, felt like a reasonable challenge, but many games since Gen 5 have become way easier. Now, Pokémon isn’t a especially hard series. Final Fantasy proved me right. However, the A.I, movesets, and teams of previous games for some Gym Leaders and Elite Four could be especially challenging. The entirety of Gen 2 is only really difficult due to the crap leveling scale, but it felt fun being able to go through the Elite 4 one step at a time. But in recent games, GF had been putting in anything to restrict the difficulty and make the games piss easy. USUM had the Rotom Dex which, while I never really used, had shit like full restores and PP restores. While it’s a lottery, waiting enough times throughout your play through can get you things you shouldn’t have accessible until later. Z-moves could become broken, the EXP share now gives EXP to all mons (now unremovable in Sword and Shield), rivals now healing your Pokémon before a battle or giving you crap, and Gigantamaxes. The games have been giving so much to encourage just blasting through.

The Sinnoh remakes may fall into the same trap of making everything easier to an unenjoyable level. It wasn’t particularly hard, but it was engaging and challenging enough to enjoy. Imagine making Cynthia easier. She may have been hard, but it felt rewarding having an actual strategy (or brute force) and beating her. I’m hoping the devs learn from Gamefreak’s mistakes, but with Jun as head its hard to have faith.

Now, for newer fans who never played the originals or Platinum, there are positives to this remake. The biggest problem with the originals games is bootlegs. I’ve been duped before with a bootleg Soulsilver, but at least the official version has a different colored cartridge; which would be a black that would be used in Gen 5. The Sinnoh official cartridges, however, have this grey look that is easily replicated, making finding an official one a stressful ordeal. Plus, finding the right price is a challenge. While Gen 2 and Gen 3 had the internal battery issue, there are genuine issues with Gen 4 that justify a new console re-release.

“This team came out of that bootleg Soulsilver. But, I managed to put them in my Platinum game and transfer them over to a legitimate Soulsilver.”

But, to me, the way these remakes are going are just sign of the Pokemon Company’s laziness. What made HGSS great remakes was because of how much they improved the Gold and Silver experience. From new locations, minigames, different designs, and even things they couldn’t put in the original (like an expanded Kanto Region or the Safari Zone), they were the same experience made better and fresh. Some would argue they’re really a remake of Crystal. ORAS expanded the region as well, giving it an all new look while adding content such as the mirage islands, the inclusion of every legendary, and the post game story that would add the multiverse theory.

I would say ORAS did a little less than HGSS, and I wish it was more Emerald than Ruby and Sapphire, but there is not denying the remakes brought a new light to the original. I never played Let’s Go, for reasons I’ll get into, and a $60 game with less than FRLG just isn’t worth it, but at least it changed the art style in a graphically appealing way(plus, I do like the inclusion of Archer from Gen 2 as a cool little foreshadow). I love Gen 4, but to experience the same thing with nothing new with a company with a bad track record doesn’t appeal to me.

Pokémon Legends: The Game Where Lama God Is Finally The Box Art Legend

“Never mind.” Image from Pokémon Fandom

This game gave me hope when I first saw it. It takes us back to the history of Sinnoh, something touched upon the original (but hopefully not the marriage aspect). An actual open world shown in the trailer that isn’t just one location like in SWOSH. One that’s large and hopefully not barren. And, finally, battles that are in-location instead of a Super Sentai location switch and Pokémon that actually make contact when they smack each other. Since this game is about completing the Sinnoh dex, you get a variety choice of starts: Cyndequil, Rowlett, and Oshawott. I would have liked other Pokémon besides just the usual starters, expanding out from the usual “Fire,Water,Grass,” but it’s a good step for this game. These games may or may not be mainline games, but the direction they’re taking feels like a truly original experience I hope it lives up to expectations.

However, after another look, there were some holes. I never played Breath of the Wild fully, but I have dabbled with my brother’s copy on fun nights. I do love its expansive world and characters, but it seemed barren at the same time. Looking at the trailer, I’m afraid the overworld in this game will be barren and lifeless besides the Pokémon. Of course, there will be towns, but I hope each location has replayability and memorable. Speaking of the Pokémon, my Arceus they lagged so much…in the trailer. Things could change, but it such a bad second impression (first for anyone else). Gamefreak seems to really be ambitious with this one, but with the track record they’ve had in the past few years its hard to have faith they’ll execute it.

I’m hoping whatever replaces the Gyms, Elites Four, or whatever is creative and challenging. I always wanted Gyms who used specific strategies than just types. It’s not an original idea but imagine a boss who uses trick room or weather. Sword and Shield gave a taste of this with Raihan, the dragon gym leader who uses weather as a tactic. It wasn’t perfect, since he uses all 4 instead of focusing on one, but he became one of my favorite gyms because he’s unique in his strategy. However, an entire lineup of bosses with this would be incredible.

The games aren’t coming out till 2022 so everything initial can improve by then, and it’s great knowing Gamefreak is given the time they need to really make these games great.

Post Reviews: My Original Departure from the Mainline Games and Pokemon in General

With my thoughts on the remake and Legends done, I want to get into why I’m so heavily critical and down with my predications on what might happen to these games. This is me basically venting out my frustrations, with some happier feelings in between, that had come in the last few years. It’ll be like mini reviews of the games and how I felt during the lead up to this point. If you’re just here for my takes on the Gen 4 remakes and legends, totally skip this long flashback segment for the overview.

Gen 6: The Cracks Form

A lot my faith issues with the mainline games developed since Gen 6, so I do want to give my personal history. Like I said, I loved ORAS at the time and became one of my favorites in the franchise. I can understand many of the issues people have, but I enjoyed it for what it at least tried to do (and hate what it didn’t. Seriously, why was there no Battle Frontier).

But, then I played XY, and the comparisons to the past came, especially with Gen 5. XY became one of the worst games for me due to feeling too safe with its world and gameplay. For example, the gym leaders were easier than those from before and they weren’t important to the story like the leaders in Gen 5. The story was alright, but Team Flare were a mess and the AZ storyline went nowhere.

“Well, at least Kalos is a beautiful region.”

I did like Lysandre, but Team Flare was just forgettable. The games were also way easier and, after the really good post game story, there wasn’t much content left to keep me going. Without the Z version, these games felt incomplete. A beautiful region, but a downgrade after Black and White 2.

Gen 7: The Second Coming of Gen 1

Then Gen 7 came around. Sun and Moon(the latter I played) was one, honestly, of the best Pokemon experiences I’ve ever had. I can’t lie that it was a unique and refreshing experience. I loved the main story learning about the culture of Alola, dealing with a psycho mother and her jellyfish, and being a part of the region’s first championship. I found the Trials a unique differentiation from the Gyms, the aesthetics of Alola, and the Pokemon themselves. Characters like Guzma and Lillie felt really developed by the end. However, after everything there is no reason to replay it. The cutscenes never bothered me at the time, because then why would I not like Final Fantasy, but I can see the argument that there was too many for a Pokémon game. Plus, similar to XY, there wasn’t a lot to actually do compared to the content of Gen 4 or 5. By the end of the UB quest, the game is just barren besides pretty locations, stellar music, and the Battle Tree. I personally loved what these games did for the franchise, but the problems of XY persisted into them. It’s after this point when things took a huge nose dive for me.

USUM came out and the amount of hate going on in the fandom started to weigh heavily. I didn’t mind the games at first due to their difficulty, but there was no denying the huge flaws it had. It ruined moments from the original SM story and tried to make it way easier with Rotom. The Ultra Recon Squad were unnecessary and underdeveloped, and the plot between Lillie and her mother is just resolved off screen unlike the original’s more emotional ending. Besides Necrozma holding these games on his/her shoulders, the story just felt like the same but worse.

“Best part about the Rainbow Rocket story was bringing my first ever team and absolutely destroying Cyrus. Also yes, I played as the female trainer. This was around the point when I was trying to change up the formula of how I play these games.”

Like XY, which was a breeze, I had to make some arbitrary difficulty just to enjoy it. It did add really cool features like the photos, which are more expanded since HeartGold, the surfing, and little details the original missed like new buildings and grass textures. However, unlike previous 3rd games, I can’t tell what they were going for in terms of direction. I remember them advertising it as a different dimension to the original, which is why there are two versions instead of one, but the changes in story and world were so miniscule that I felt the concept wasn’t executed well. I don’t think these games should be as hated as they are, and though I like these games, it’s not hard to see the many faults compared to the original. The fandom’s entire ferocity against these games did leave me feeling less hopeful of the future, and situations like the Stars debacle left a sour taste in my mouth.

Generation 7 was the 20th anniversary of the franchise, and yet the worst aspect of the franchise showed its ugly hide: Gen 1, Gen 1, Gen 1. Personally, while I think Red and Blue are one of the worst games, I don’t personally hate Gen 1 as a whole. It’s the reason I’m even talking about this franchise, and I did enjoy aspects of it like the anime. I understand that it was the anniversary, but Jesus Christ it became too much. The Alolan forms were exclusive to Kanto mons, they made the anime inspired I Choose You movie and a remake of Mewtwo Strikes Back, they made gen 1 merchandise by the dozens, and the Kanto references in the main anime and games such as Oak’s chill cousin.

Tell me otherwise, but there was so much it that it made me realize how much Kanto was in the rest of the franchise. Kanto as a location is in every generation until Gen 5, they gave you the starters in Gen 6 that were so much better than the actual starters that you got in Kalos, and then It felt like you had to be a Gen 1 fan to enjoy the anniversary. It left me really tired and cynical, which really affected me in a terrible way. The nail to the coffin came with the announcement of Let’s Go, a third remake for the overdone region. Keep in mind that this is the same generation that put the Gen 1 and 2 games on the 3ds Virtual console, so they released the original and the remakes. By this point, I couldn’t take the Gen 1 pandering anymore. I didn’t buy Let’s Go at all, rather taking a break from the games.

“What happened to Beedrill? Looks like he ate Waspinator and read the Yamcha manga.”

Before the reveals of Gen 8, I took the time to play older games: Platinum, Soulsilver (twice cause the first was a bootleg), Black, and White 2. Suddenly, the magic was back for me. I continued the Gen 7 anime and had a blast with it till the end, becoming one of my favorite anime of the era. But, I realized the magic that Pokémon had stayed in the past and was gone in the current era of games. After Sun and Moon, everything else felt like a cash grab. Around that point, I played the Yo-kai Watch games as well and enjoyed every minute of the franchise’s spotlight while it lasted. Instead of seeing it as a clone of Pokémon, I saw it as its successor in terms of gameplay and fun. This extends to Digimon Cyber Sleuth and Hacker’s memory, reminding me who is the true winner of the Mons war.

Gen 8: The Downfall

Sword and Shield were finally revealed to the public, and the more information that came out the more a split had occurred in the fandom. No national dex and a few Pokémon coming back were enough to piss off fans. At first, I was okay with it until I later learned how much of a lie their excuse was. The whole “gotta catch them all” was removed to improve the graphics and animations, by which they meant reusing the same Pokemon models since Gen 6. Combined with more screenshots, including the dreaded N64 TREE, the fandom was in a divide. To summarize, it was a bad time to be a Pokémon fan.

“Everyone when they found out the national dex was removed.”
My Aegislash: “Long Live the Queen!” (I tried doing King Arthur, but my Aegis was a girl so I did Queen instead)

Christmas came around and, after deciding to give Gamefreak once last chance, I got Shield. That last chance lasted a good while before I decided Gamefreak are the worst. Positives include the music such as Spikmuth, the Pokémon designs like Corviknight and Dubwool, and the execution for the gym challenge. The whole idea of endorsements from companies being the driving force of your adventure and the relay race for beating every gym was really good. Positives over; these games sucked. Like before, they were incredibly easy, removing the option to turn off the EXP share (akin a dumbed down Final Fantasy) and dumbing down the AI. The graphics and animations were about the same as before but also worst, especially when people move. Like when Oleana walks back and forth in the Dragon gym, she walks, turns left twice, then walks again…quality.

The map of the region is huge, but your journey is just a hallway where there is so much to see but all of it is blocked off. Every cave is done in minutes and, besides aesthetics, nothing really happens. Routes barely allow you to explore it and the joy of going back when you’ve progressed further is gone because there is nothing. I remember the lake near Professor Magnolia’s lab being the only instance of a place having more to it when you got the HM thing. Other than that, every route has little to no content.

The Wild Area was great, but its just one area that only connects to two towns instead of the whole region. And its just outside. Once the novelty of exploring every small forest, patch of grass, desert, and field is done, that’s it. No sprawling caves (which looks fixed in the DLC), no other entrances to other dungeons like the clearly visible ice mountain on the map. Just a few areas, dens, and your done.

The story was a mess, where everything interesting blocked from you at every corner (destroying some world building to me) until it’s all dumped on you at the end. So, Rose is a businessmen who uses a straight up skeletal alien dragon to recreate the Black Storm that caused a bunch of Pokemon to grow big in order to power Galar forever. Sounds cool, but no depth to it to make it interesting and the game horribly hints to this before it all comes at you by the end. There was this cool mystery about how the wolf legends were smeared from history and instead replaced with a sole human hero who stopped Eternatus, but this bit of lore is never important to the story or EVEN given an answer. It’s meaningless, and told to you by Sonia through quizzes so childish its like you’re being treated like a damn 4 year old. The story was so miniscule that the anime managed to tell it in only 4 episodes…and improve it.

“One of the best parts of this game is realizing they put your champion team on the title screen.”

Finally, besides the raid dens (which aren’t that fun unless you have friends who paid 20 for online) and the championship, it still suffered from lack of post game very similar to XY. Overall, the time I had was short and I just couldn’t anymore by the end of it. The first ever mainline game (if you don’t count Collosseum or XD), and its shorter than a Gameboy game. From the lie GF made about the dex to the poor execution of everything, my love for the main games and its future died permanently.

“Had a friend get me a Galarian Slowbro so I could avoid buying the DLC, because this bro is worth it.”

More had come out for SWOOSH, but much of it was more of GF and the Pokémon Company being scummy. DLC was added to the game, giving an island with Kung Fu bears and an ice region with a bunny king, to get more of your old favorites, not all, for content that should have been in the original behind a paywall. From what I’ve seen of it, it’s looks about the same as the base game. Okay graphics and nothing that looked too worthwhile. the wild areas look better, but the content provided like creating Gigantamax Pokemon and more raids but as a dungeon crawler just didn’t seem worth it. This is especially the case since the full experience of SWOOSH costs more than previous games.

All of it for $40, or more if you bought both versions. Then, Home came out with another paywall for $16, just to do something that was free before to transfer all your favorites that you can’t even use because Sword and Shield can’t “handle them.” As AccousticHarmonia said, it’s basically ransomware because you have to pay. $116 bucks for a game with about less or equal content to previous games at $40. Combined with the online service (which isn’t bad on its own) that’s $20, and you slowly realize the full experience of one game costs more than what its worth. Remember when games came out for the price that was actually set?

“This is like being a Kamen Rider toy collector. Spending a ton of money of the gimmicks, belts, and weapons. Then, doing it all the next year. How are these fans doing it? Unless you’re a toy reviewer, what jobs do they have?”

I know that this argument has been used a lot, but suffice to say that Pokémon, a company and franchise that gets so much money because they’re so damn popular, has to fork out so much money from you just so you can experience an okay game and keep your Pokémon hostage in a service with no real knowledge that those unavailable Pokémon will be put in a game. Seriously, this franchise is so popular my own spell correct knows the name Pokémon, for the accent over the E I mean. And this is for the mainline games, the most bought ones.

Finally, and not as attack on the fans, but the sheer amount of yelling for the Gen 4 remakes helped nothing. Again, not to say every fan, but a majority of the fanbase pisses me off. People were hating on USUM for being cashgrabs and people were hating on Sword and Shield for being rushed and bad. So why were they seriously hammering Nintendo and Pokémon in every direct for the Gen 4 remakes as if it wasn’t happening!? I understand that they are loved, but after complaining about the Gen 4 remakes looking like crap after seriously rushing them to make the games makes no sense. So many people complain about Pokémon games being rushed yet they were rushing the company to make the remakes. If they wanted the Gen 4 remakes to be good, then they’d tell and show Gamefreak to take their time by not buying the games they felt were rushed. Honestly, though this is a smaller company making the game, I would have believed Gamefreak made that cheap look because they had fans on their a$$ hammering at them. I don’t want to attack the fans because not all of them were or are like that, and people can be excited for a game to come out, but I can’t help but get frustrated by the fandom’s sheer amount of impatience.

Overview: A Tired Person With A Little Spark After All

Sinnoh and Gen 4 are genuinely one of my favorite gens of games from the series. The local of snowy Sinnoh, the unique chill of the music, the challenge it presents through its gameplay, and journey from Twinleaf to the Champion will always be one of my favorite moments in my life. But I can’t let my own nostalgia blind me to the terrible state the franchise is in, and the abysmal future these remakes have. I don’t feel happy about these remakes, and I certainly don’t feel like jumping into that adventure. Rather, I feel depressed because a high-quality game is about to become soulless for money. The preservation of the experience is a step back rather than a step forward. Instead of improving these games to be what they couldn’t years ago, they’re selling the same experience with a higher price point just to ride of the hype for years. And, honestly, it’ll get away with it because it’s Pokémon. It’s one of the biggest names in gaming, being able to make Sword and Shield one of the biggest sales for the franchise. Not to say that being a fan is bad, but it’s a reality considering they release a mainline game every year.

“Hey Ray, do me a favor: LOOK UP!”

I generally don’t like being this negative, but with the release of these games I had to at least put in my input. If you’re a fan of the series, power to you. Of course, I could be wrong in my predictions and the games may be spectacular. But to me, I can’t take another disappointment from the mainline games. I would have talked about how spin-offs are becoming as soulless as well, but the release of Mystery Dungeon DX (which I have played) and Pokémon New Snap (which I haven’t but looks amazing) gives me some hope for that side of the franchise. Should I be buying these spin-offs if I want to show the company that they need to get their act straight? Probably not, but I always thought buying them over the mainline games would also serve as something. It’s why I’m talking primarily about the Mainline games because I am totally supporting the Snap and MD series. If we could get a new Mystery Dungeon game, I’d be happy. Other than that, that’s all I have now.

-Samuel Argueta

Recommendation Corner

Child of Light: A Small Game, A Grandiose Adventure

A modern fairy tale RPG with fantasy and rhyming alike, take on the slippers of Aurora as she explores Lemuria back to her home before Chaos comes along (Guess Station Square wasn’t enough). Though it isn’t as long as a typical Final Fantasy game, this game’s unique world to explore, fun cast of characters like Ignis the blue fire ball, unique Active Battle System and the fun rhyme in each dialogue made for a unique playthrough. Any RPG fantasy fan should give this Ubisoft game a chance.

Star Wars: Republic Commando: The OG Bad Batch

While I would say the PC version is better than the Switch version, this timeless Star Wars game is still one of the best out there. Set during the start of the Clone Wars, you lead a squad of some rough and tuff Clone Commandos completing missions no other reg could do. Beyond just a FPS, this game has a mechanic of commanding the others to do different jobs like sniping and planting bombs to open doors. 3 maps and stories, different levels for each, and enough banter between the boys to get a giggle out of you, this dirty war game stands out strong in challenge and fun. This legends game, to me, is what a true Star Wars Prequel experience is. Now, if only we could see the Omega Squad again.

Okami HD: Twilight Princess but with more SUN!

Based on Japanese Mythology, the tale of a Sun God Wolf traveling the world to rid the world of evil was an incredible experience. It has the gameplay feeling of Zelda, but the story and lore to give it its own identity. Also a bark button…10/10. A colorful cast of characters, a colorful artstyle, and a colorful soundtrack. Okami is more than a game, its an actual piece of art that anyone with the interest in it should play.

Sonic Adventure Part 2: All’s Well That Ends Well

After 5 months of grueling school work, I am finally free enough to deliver the second part of this review. In the first part, I gave an honest review of each character campaign in the game’s story. In this post, I decided to not only review the final portions of the game but also look into a few important side characters and the DX version’s different modes.

Originally, the plan was to play the Dreamcast version for a more personalized review of both versions that didn’t require too much outside research, but that plan didn’t go through. I have the Dreamcast game, just didn’t think my money situation could afford a 100-dollar console. So, that plan drained faster than Chaos on a sewer grater.

Spoilers!!!!!

As I’ve said before, I highly recommend playing this game before reading both reviews. There are a lot of spoilers, and I don’t want you to ruin the feeling of playing it for the first time. So, go and buy the game in any way you can.

Did it? Good.

Earthbound Short: My Thoughts on Picky

In my review of Earthbound, I covered the main story and characters that was generally important to know, and also my love for the game. However, I glossed over many of the side characters and NPCs that gave the game its charm. What makes the NPCs in Earthbound special is their dialogue and little moments that adds to the dark and strange nature of the game. Not all of it is interesting or necessary, but, when your in the mood, their sassy dialect and wacky nonsense puts them up as some of the best NPCs to talk to in a game (not close to Majora’s Mask but still). Some of my favorites moments include:

  • Mr Pickle’s memorable “Fuzzy Pickles”
  • “There’s a Hamburger in the trash,” says the kid who actually found one in a trash can.
  • The elevator lady scolding you from looking too down
  • The sass of the store clerks, since you aren’t an exception to their bad day
  • The Tenda’s shyness

However, the side character that stuck with me the most was Picky Minch, the younger and kinder child in contrast to his @sshole brother Porky Minch. While Porky is much more memorable to the fans and those who played the games, especially what he’s done in Mother 3, its his brother that I found to be just as memorable. Picky has no real significance to any of the plot, yet his story shows just how messed up the Minch family became, and the how depressing the tragedy of the two brothers is.

Spoilers Ahead for Earthbound and Mother 3 (especially 3!)


Within Earthbound: The Boy Robbed of Adventure

Picky first appears when Ness goes out at night, like any child, to check the commotion. Ness can enter the Minch household and talk to him, saying he’s all alone due to his parents and brother somewhere else outside. Later, Porky forces Ness out of his slumber once again to find Picky, as Porky “lost” him when the brothers went to see what had caused the earthquake that night. Once found, Picky is a witness to the arrival of Buzz Buzz, though not one of the prophesized “chosen ones” alongside his brother. Picky becomes a temporary team member, helping Ness the best he can in fights until they defeat the Starman Jr.

“The prophecy states that 3 boys and a girl will defeat Giygas. Eh, look at that! You’re 3/4s done with your journey already! Image from LpArchives

The brothers return home only for Ness and Buzz Buzz, albeit only through sounds, to be a witness to a first hand account of the child abuse. Their father takes them to their room and beats them, or yell at them for the American sensitives back in the 80s. Their mother, an indirect abuser, states that she thinks their father goes “too easy on them.” If only she was too easy on Buzz Buzz.

After this moment, Picky’s role is done. Unlike Porky, who goes around the world to torment Ness, Picky stays home to do whatever the heck he does. School, playing in the yard, shopping, dealing with Sharks, and whatever daily life is like in Onett. But, things change within the Minch household as Ness and company progress in their adventure.

“Ominous…” Image from LPArchive

Of course, with Porky on his Giygas Bizzare Adventure, he is no longer inside the house. But, as the game progresses, Picky becomes lonelier and lonelier. His father leaves, since he’s in Fourside due to Porky using Monotoli’s trance as a way to get rich. Then his mother leaves to shop…apparently for the rest of the game. Picky stays behind all alone, cryptically saying that he doesn’t want to be near the meteorite anymore. On a personal note, this eerie and lonely moment was the first time this character stuck out to me. I’m not sure of the meaning of his words, since the meteor only held Buzz Buzz. Maybe their was something else that followed the little bug. During the siege on Onett, Picky locks himself in like the rest of the town as the aliens roam the roads.

Once the space nightmare that is Giygas is destroyed, Ness sees a happy ending for all the people in Earthbound. However, not everyone got this bright sunshin. Picky’s family is in disarray. Porky is gone within the timeline, his father is in the Fourside bar drinking away his sorrows, and his mother is seeing some guy named “Mr Prettyman” (apparently he doesn’t actually replace the father. Maybe a therapist). The silver lining shown is Picky’s friendship with Ness, which I believe to have been strengthened. The credits roll, but the player gets one last scene of Picky giving a final message from his brother to Ness, where Porky taunts our hero to find him. Where could he have gone?

Afterwards: The Mother’s 3

One of the revelations in Mother 3 is that the Pigmask Army, who has terrorized and modernized Tazmily Village, is led by Porky the Porker after travelling the timeline for centuries. Now an old and scrawny man with a childish sense of malice, he manipulates everyone in order to create New Pork City and release the Dark Dragon, a god-like being who can change the world based on the heart of the releaser. Within his grand metropolitan base is a slew of Earthbound references. The theatre plays moments of Ness’s adventure such as the fight with the evil tent(whooo!), a restaurant filled with Porky’s robot moms, and a boat ride within a museum of Earthbound characters and items, like Tessie and the Skyrunner.

“I’m a Cuarto Man now!” Image from Starmen.net

And yet, Porky has nothing to remind himself of the little brother he left behind. There is a man named Bateau, who lives in Tazmily and runs a pigeon mail delivery service, that greatly resembles Picky, but it’s obviously not him. Maybe the old age, the constant time travel, and the insanity he developed with Giygas caused him to forget Picky(yet he remembers to take Dr. Andonauts for Chimerra research). As if the ending of Mother 3 wasn’t depressing enough, it’s sadder when you realize the two brothers, unlike Lucas and Claus, never got to see each other again before Porky seals himself in the Absolutely Safe Capsule, living forever as the child he is for the next billion years. I swear, Mother 3, whether you watch it as a playthrough(don’t) or actually play it, is just a downer.

Big Question: Why do I care?

Before I give my theory as to what possibly happened to Picky, you might be wondering why I even care? Why care this much about a random NPC that does not deserve so much investment time? Well, when it comes to story mediums, I have a strange affinity for side characters.

“They did my man dirty. Only 2 episodes of this sheer amount of thunderclapping bad@assery.” Image from Spacebattles

Notable examples of characters I shouldn’t care about but do come from Kamen Rider Zero-One and O’Brother, Where Art Thou. The guy on the left is Uchuyaro Raiden, otherwise known as Metsuboujinrai member Ikazuchi. He is a founding member and a sleeper agent sent to Hiden Intelligence, owned by Aruto/Zero-One, under his factory protocols to maintain Zea, the Humagear Satelitte, along with his “brother” Subaru. Without knowledge of who he is, he is unaware of the data he is leaking to his teammates for there evil plan.

Later in his debut episode, he takes Aruto and Fuwa, Kamen Rider Vulcan, to MBJR’s base, only for Jin, Ikazuchi’s team member, to hack him and turn Raiden back to MBJR and into a Kamen Rider. After activating the Ark, the primary antagonist, he is immediately murdered by Vulcan with a brand new toy-I mean form. Basically, they almost killed my interest in the show

Despite his debut being short, though he comes back 20 something episodes later, Raiden solidified himself to me as one of the best characters in the show in a short time. He’s assertive, yelling at Aruto, his own boss, for calling his motorcycle from the satellite without warning. His signature catch phrase, “I’m calling down the thunder,” not only feels awesome to hear, especially with his mannerisms, but truly shows that he gets stuff down, and no one can stop him. Compared to the Humagears before this episode, who expression of thoughts and feelings with a eerie robotic formula, Raiden expresses emotions in such a explosive way that it makes him distinct, very human-like, which foreshadows his involvement with MBJR.

Despite his aggressive and passionate tendencies, he cares for his little brother as any older brother should, shielding an attack for him and, after his revival, breaking his own programming from the Ark to be back with him. In the end, he got to be a spaceman again and work on Zea with his beloved brother. Though they did him dirty, never allowing him to fight much, Raiden become one of my favorite characters within the show, a lot better than what they did with the main character. It also helps how no toy magazine spoiled his Kamen Rider form, so the appearance of Kamen Rider Ikazuchi legitimately surprised me.

In O’Brother, Where Art Thou, the Soggy Bottom Boys pick up Tommy Johnson on the road, where he explains he’s a musician that “sold his soul to the devil.” Tommy says he’s heading to a radio owner to play music for some money, which Ulysses uses to create a fake band and earn some cash. Afterwards, Tommy disappears when their truck is discovered by the police. He isn’t seen until the Boys accidently stumble upon a KKK rally, where he’s been taken to be hanged. Due to earlier trauma of almost being hanged, Pete compels the Boys to save their friend.

“Now why would you sell your soul to the devil, Tommy?” Image from Reddit

They later take Tommy to be apart of their scheme to get Ulysses his wife back, making him their “D’Artagnan.” This, however, also gets him caught when the chain-gang corner them in a tight spot. As the gang set up their hanging, the boys apologize to Tommy for dragging him into this, especially with the flood that tears through the forest and engulfs them. Due to a prayer by Ulysses, they’re all alright by the end. Tommy even holds onto the drawer that totally had the ring Ulysses needed.

Despite the low screen time, I was invested in Tommy’s safety due to how much the Soggy Bottom Boys cared for him. He wasn’t really there throughout the whole movie, but the Boys made him one of their own, a bona fide member, like it was nothing. It shows that this band of criminals are caring people, investing the audience enough to hope that they all make it out alright.

Side characters like Picky and Raiden stick out to me because of their little screen time and big characteristics. Because their less relevant to the story, who they are and what they do can leave a huge impact on me more than most main characters. Nothing wrong with main characters, hell I love some main characters more than some side characters, but their storyline always feels the same no matter how different or twisty it is. It feels like all main characters are on a line, where they will either win, lose, or something different. This is not to say all main characters in all stories are the same. It’s more like all main characters have a linear arc, a line that I can see.

With side characters, you never really know what’s gonna happen to them because their arc isn’t so linear and they’re not allowed to rent the plot armor after hours. I get happy when their on screen, safe as a button, but mortally terrified when their in a life or death situation. When a side character is investing, they show off personalities of the other characters while being a useful tool to add surprise to the story. Their the wild card, the surprise plan, and the outlier to the story. Given the right personality and arc in the right story, I believe they can rival the main character as the best character. Now, back to Picky and Earthbound before I ramble more.

What I think happened to Picky

After such a cryptic ending, Picky asks where is brother is. I doubt Picky would not ask Ness what happened to the adventure, though Ness probably asks Picky if he could sleep first. Now, with the way the Minch’s ended up, Ness either tells the whole family or just Picky during school. Learning the tale, Picky goes out to try and find his brother as life went on, but still lived an Earthbound-esque normal life in Onett. He starts with every place Porky visited, from the Happy Happy Village to good-friend Monotoli, though they’re no help to his whereabouts.

“Safe once again in another robot body. Safe from all those losers! Ahaha! Spankety, spankety…spankety…” Image from Seek PNG

Learning how Ness and company last saw Porky, Picky likely traveled to Winters to ask Dr. Andonauts to help him time-travel. Now, either Dr. Andonauts doesn’t help Picky due to finding it difficult to turn a child into a robot the first time, or he was captured by Porky (it’s never really clear when he was taken since Dr. Andonauts looks the same in Mother 3). Jeff might help, but judging by the consequences and the fact they never get to Porky in Mother 3, Picky didn’t get to travel through the time stream and find his brother. With all leads at a dead end, Picky forgets the quest and goes on living.

With the ambiguity of his parent’s relationship, whether or not Mr. Prettyman did become his step-dad, I’ll say things didn’t go well. His whole family is shattered. That is a traumatizing thing for a child, worse when you add the fictional elements of Porky’s descension into madness. This can have a negative impact on Picky’s growth. Pessimistic, depressed, poor concentration, hard educational life, and even poor relationship skills can develop from the tragedy that split his family. Nevertheless, with the way Bateau the Pigeon Man looks eerily similar to Picky, I think they’ll be a warm light for the boy in-between Earthbound and Mother 3. Maybe Ness, company, and all the friends they made along the adventure take in Picky as one of their own, and support when his parents couldn’t. I like to think that, despite the odds, Picky grew up into a responsible and caring adult. If only Porky could have seen it happen.

-Samuel Argueta

Recommendations Corner

Zack Snyder’s Justice League

Way better than the original, and way too long! Despite that, I think the original vision explains the plot better. It improves the characters, the lore, and the final battle. Best part: Wonder Woman’s theme. She tries to make a sculpture, or whatever her job is, and she’s distracted by the yelling of her own theme. It’s unintentionally funny.

Image from Wikipedia

Final Fantasy 9

I’ve been playing this game since 2020 and it is fantastic. An Old Disney like magic gives the cutscenes a charm that I miss in fantasy stories. Serious with a bit of light comedy, this game is one of the finest epics I’ve played. I’m not even done yet, and I’m still gonna claim that. Also, the music is a chefs kiss. Sad, epic, and heartwarming like you’re within a fairy-tale. Seriously, I want more fantasy like this.

Image from Wikipedia

The Big Lebowsky

“Over the Line!” “Nobody f@cks with the Jesus!” “You know Walter, you’re right. If there is an unspoken message here, it’s f@ck you! Leave me the f@ck alone! Yeah, I’ll be at practice.” “What in God’s holy name name are you blathering about!” “That rug really tied the room together.”

Image from Slash Films

Micheal E and Paul Hardcastle

I listen to a lot of music in different genres, but these two must have descended from heaven or the other religious good places to bring us the divine genre. Jazzy, sensual, dreamy, and beautiful. When you’re feeling down, or want a night to just close your eyes and dream of a better place, then these two will transcend you into a higher place to forget all your worries. With how terrible 2021 is, I’m glad to have found these two.

It’s Revise Time: Where The Baming Blog Goes for the Next 2 Months

An Update For the Masses

“What? Nothing wrong with having a little will.”

Hello, everyone. It’s finally the end of the barren Winter and the beginning of the beautiful Spring, where we’re probably scaring the masses with seasonal allergy sneezes. Remember a time when sneezes weren’t treated like the bubonic plague? Well, besides that, let’s get done to business while I eat a honeybun.

The Book:

Well, after two years of writing and terminal depression, I finally finished the first draft of my novel! I remember that night like an acid trip flashback. Staying up till 3 in the morning (don’t do this other college kids) to finish up the epilogue, typing away my keyboard while listening to music to get me through it, and hunching my back to screw over my posture. As I typed those generic a$$ descriptions and clunky dialogue, I imagined me crying and jumping for joy in the head in the presence of friends, family, and Danny Devito. I’d be so overwhelmed with emotions for finally finishing something monumental in my life. I typed the last words…I sit back to see my creation…and then I slammed my computer and went to bed.

It was 3:15 in the morning and I had class the next day, I was too tired for that sentimental sh!t.

“I feel like this meme is directed to reading a book, but the mood is quite the same.” Image from Helen Hall Library

What am I doing now?

Pffffft. Well, I gotta go back to the drawing board. Now, I haven’t read the draft to the fullest, but I do know that there is a lot of work that I didn’t do in high school. Admittedly, I discovered that I am a panzer writer who planned a little without really asking the right questions. I wrote some notes but I mostly kept a lot in my head in the beginning of the process. I thought, “My maladaptive daydreaming can be my little computer where I store everything and it will go well.” Fun fact, maladaptive daydreaming has its pros and a lot of cons.

So, I’m working on reading the first draft to reevaluate the story to see what works and what doesn’t, connecting plot threads I wrote but never finished, and worldbuilding. Now, I’m no sponsor, but I have been using Campfire Blaze as an organizer for my notes, and it has been incredibly engaging. Going back and recreating the world through the little details I made has been a fun and challenging experience. It feels like going into the same world with new eyes, connecting things I didn’t notice before. The program helps light the way in an otherwise complex and confusing process.

Seriously Campfire. If you somehow stumbled upon me through the deep web, I will actually sell myself to you.

Challenges:

College

School has piled on a lot of work for one semester, even though it’s only 5 classes, and a lot of it is just reading. Around 29 pages for 4 classes due within one week. I’m not the greatest planner, obviously, so I’ve been flying with my pants high above my beer gut trying to get everything done so I can actually go to bed.

Combined with long assignments, quizzes, and papers, trying to find the mental capacity to read an awful first draft is stressful. When I get to, it’s a fun experience. When I don’t, I wrestle my brain like Andre the Giant. I’m hoping to invest all my time in reading the book when I get out of school just to have more time instead of maybe one hour.

“Nothing against my school, but still…”

Internship

As a little update within another, my internship at Prime and Prim has been going pretty well. I’ve been learning about PR and the strategies that go within marketing a company, writing scripts for trailers, and among other things that I’ll skip before I just ramble out private things. It’s pretty hard work, but it’s more like another thing on the table instead of back breaking assignments.

Myself

I’ll get personal here for a minute; no real lighthearted jokes. I had no confidence in myself when writing the draft, or my possible career all together. Most of the time writing the first draft was spent grueling over life choices and dealing with the transition from high school to college. To this day, I’m still not sure if I want to be a novelist or a screenwriter, which caused me to go back and forth in terms of writing advice. Confusing, I know. All it made me self doubtful that I could be a writer, no matter how much I told myself its my first book. Coupled with the strange, political times that are plaguing the country and the harsh realty of this world, I found myself questioning if I would be able to be the writer or person I wanted to be.

But, I’m doing my best to push past the doubt, the ego, and the confusion to finish my story as a transparent student of the craft. I’m not sure when I’ll be done with the rereads and the edits, since some advice says that the process should take about as long as writing it the first time, but I’ll keep the updates coming for when I move on to the beta readers and editors. You know, the ones that probably cost an arm and a pelvis.

(Side thing: If anyone is interested, I can release posts of how I came about my novel, my process, who my inspirations were, and what the heck that maladaptive daydreaming thing was earlier).

What is to come in the website and the blog

Well, for starters, a new schedule for the next two months. With everything, you can tell I’m not consistent in the posts. Stats say the same thing. So, for my mental stability, this month and the next will have 1 to 2 posts until I get out for summer vacation. It will still be Friday-Saturday at no specific time, so enjoy the randomness as you rub your sweaty brow with a convenient towel at work wondering when I’m gonna post.

“It is my personal theory that computers have already started the war against us. When we lose our sh!t when the printer stops working for one day out of all 364, they’ve beaten us mentally.” Image by Josh Rhine from Lume

In between, I’ll be updating and fixing up the website to make it more user friendly and fluid. I’m still learning how WordPress works at the basic level cause I’m not programmer. I’m gonna be figuring out how to stylize the home page to look better, fix the Story Cantina to work like blog posts so you can make comments on the stories, and find better pictures cause I’m noticeably lazy about it.

Speaking of the Story Cantina, just to clarify, I put my personal favorite short stories in there. Since I’m currently too busy to actually find a magazine to stick with right now, I’ll be putting short stories that I personally enjoy and worked hard on. There is no set schedule for that, so…yeah.

Blog Posts to Come

“Why do I look like Number 4 from Code Name Kids Next Door?” Image from Planet Minecraft

Earthbound Short: Picky

As a weird little experiment, since I’m not sure when I’ll be able to post a review on Earthbound Beginnings, I wanna talk about an Earthbound character that always stuck with me after my first playthrough: Picky Minch. In it, I’ll give a brief background on the character, what I think happens to him after the game’s story, and why I love side characters who I really shouldn’t get invested in. This is something that personally peeked my interest, and also just to try and be unique among the thousands of blogs out there.

“Well damn, that water bill really did go up. It went so up it became a giant freakin dragon!” Image from Anarchy In The Galaxy

Sonic Adventure Part 2: Electric Chair for real

Then, I will finish up my birthday review for Sonic Adventure. I’ll talk about the super secret story Big didn’t let you get to, various supporting characters, the world and its people, and the Chao Garden aka the only minigame you most definitely cared more about. Again, just honest opinions with a little research just to structure it. Side note, I actually bought the original Sonic Adventure for the Dreamcast as a birthday present to myself. I didn’t get the Dreamcast itself, I’m budgeting here, so I might do a proper comparison of the DX and International Dreamcast version.

“Behold. Dialga and Palkia in their new overworld models.” Image from Animationoptions

How I feel about the Gen 4 confirmed remakes

Oh boy. As a late bloomer, which is probably not advisable in a marketing or SEO strategy, I will discuss my thoughts on the recently confirmed Diamond and Pearl remakes. I will also talk about the other side game, Pokemon Legends: Arceus, which already looks way better than Sword and Shield, and my personal take on Pokemon as a whole. I might even reference a yellow dinosaur and a red dead cat within. Trust me when I say, I got some hot takes on that yellow mouse.

“The hell is going on with the earth? How many hurricanes are going through it?”

Earthbound Beginnings: Not for America

Finally, a reminder that this is going to happen. I will review it like I did with Earthbound, just with better quality. The story, the world(which I think deserves special attention this time), the gameplay, and how it holds up compared to the second game will be talked about. I might have missed the anniversary year for this series, but I’ll still remember it unlike Nintendo.

All in All, I’m hoping to doing my best to keeping these promises. It’s a slow and confusing route people, but I’m learning through it so you can enjoy these early years, I certainly can’t wait to be the position to joke about my early quality years down the line. Take care, love yourself, step away from politics or reality for a minute, and remember to always have love, compassion, and some common sense within yourself. We’re all trying to get through life one way or another, but let’s not forget our humanity along the way. See you then.

-Samuel Argueta

Recommendations from the personal box!

Shine on you Crazy Diamond…or Mashins

If your a Power Ranger fan looking into watching the original Sentai, then this is the best introduction to the franchise. Unlike the other seasons in this era, Kiramager takes the simple route when it comes to the story and team(toys). 6 rangers, no gimmicks that work in the morpher, 4 robots that have no crazy combinations, and a villain organization with a zany but evil goal. Despite the simplistic execution, the writing is competent, fun, and well-made. Each character is distinct, tropes are subverted in creative ways, and it still manages to respect what it is and what it isn’t. One of the best in Tokusatsu

Image from Power Rangers Fandom

Kamen Rider finally here the legal way

After years of fans watching the a kids show from overseas any way they can, including dealing with all those local moms, Toei has allowed seasons to air on their official Tokusatsu Channel…but just the first two episodes. Hey, it’s anything. This is a huge step since Shout Factory was allowed to stream Kamen Rider Ichigo and Kuuga, along with the Heisei Generations Forever movie.

Right now, every Friday and Saturday, 1 episode from two different seasons are uploaded. Interestingly, its just been Showa and Heisei Phase 1 riders, with the two recent seasons being Stronger and Hibiki. I guess America isn’t ready for Heisei phase 2 yet…which makes sense if you know about them.

This is a great opportunity to have bite sized introductions into this bug-eyed world, along with the other obscure Tokusatsu shows they also upload like Kikaider. Look up “Toei Tokusatsu World Official” and YouTube and delve into one of the strangest genres in the world. Ride On!

Image from Kamen Rider Fandom

Ungifted: Somehow gifted writing

This book really made my year in 2020. Despite being a book for middle schoolers, evident in its short descriptions and simplistic writing style, it was a clear but effective tale of a boy who slaps the a$$ of a bronze statue and ends up in the gifted program of antisocial children. This book is like all those movies where the main protagonist mistakenly enters into a different society through some lie or deception, yet the story reinvents those tropes to become a refreshing tale. I won’t go into more detail.

I highly recommend this book even if your 68. It’s universally appealing with great characters and a simple plot that just oozes with charm.

Now I can’t wait for Nickelodeon to possibly f it up!

Image from Pinterest

Sonic Adventure Part One: The Chaos of Love

Hey shorty! It’s your birthday!

So yeah, Valentine’s Day was my birthday. Instead of kisses and hearts, I got glorious gifts and chocolate cakes. It’s always strange being a Valentine Baby, having to explain it to people whose thoughts are most likely “where’s the red hearts filled with chocolates! Let me speak to your manager!” Anyway, I hope everyone is enjoyed their day of love, showing the one you care about how much you care about them so they can shut up about how much you don’t care about them. How does it feel, cause I never found love…

“Me everytime I make a decision without prior research or a plan.”
Image from MobyGames

Personal History:

Well, since this month is my birthday month, I decided to make a special post about one of my favorite video games, Sonic Adventure. This wasn’t my first ever video game, that would be a portable Grand Theft Auto Game I played when I was 5, but this was the first one I owned. Like usual backstories with a video game, I played this a lot as a kid, it influenced my life, made me a prolific fur-nah I’m kidding.

I will say, since my internet was about as slow as grass growing, this was my introduction to the series like how Smash Melee was mine to Nintendo. I didn’t find out Sonic had a franchise till around middle school, though I never cared enough to play the other games until Sonic Mania came out(yes, I am that man who lived under a rock). After that, I really stuck close to the oldies, playing Sonic 2 on my 3ds and Sonic Cd on my old tablet.

“Why go to the beach for real when you can run like hell in a fictional one? You’ll be safe from CO-VID.” Image from Sonic News Network

Sometime in 2017, I decided to make it an annual tradition to replay Adventure every summer break, since the story states Station Square was supposed to be a vacation for Sonic. This is the only game I replay, and I found myself liking and disliking sections. Every playthrough had something I never noticed before, leaving with a different perspective by the time I finish. The game is dated, especially the graphics for the DX version, but the developers put so much love and detail into this platformer to make it an immersive and fun adventure.

For this review, I’ll be giving my honest thoughts of each story, character, and miscellaneous things with a balance of bias and unbias (trust me, there are parts I can’t gaslight myself from). Unfortunately, I couldn’t bring my copy to my dorm, so this won’t be as in-depth. So, here’s part one of 45.

Spoiler Alert: If you don’t want to be spoiled, play the game first and then comeback

“This city’s water bill is gonna go through the roof soon.”
Image from Sonic Fandom

Overview

After years of living with small animals and beating a fat man, Sonic has decided to take a vacation in the city of Station Square, a small loop noticeable for showing Eggman’s race, when he suddenly intercepts a police operation to deal with the greatest enemy in the series: sentient water. Sonic beats the creature, but it escapes into a sewer pipe. Standing on a building, out of view, the walrus drops the creature’s name as Chaos, the so-called “God of Destruction.” Later on, after witnessing Tail’s commit plane arson on the beach, they’re confronted by the two, where Eggman reveals he needs the 7 Chaos Emerald’s in order to power up Chaos and destroy Station Square. In place would be Robotnik Land, which presumably will involve making Metal Sonic the mascot and charging 3 grand each visit. Sonic, Tails, and other 5 game modes race against time to stop the evil Eggman, while also discovering the mystery of who Chaos is.

Sonic’s Story: It’s Sonic’s Story

Sonic, as the title character, has the most levels, getting 10 out of the 11 action stages. It’s essentially a 3d version of his usual gameplay from the 2d era, like Mario 64. Fast with long levels, split up similarly to the acts of the 2d games. Additionally, they introduced the Homing Attack to hit enemies better (and make the platforming easier) and minigames in between levels (other characters have some as well) like the sky Chase sections. Compared to Mario 64, Sonic’s gameplay is smoother than the red plumber. Levels like Emerald Coast or Sky Deck don’t have too much BS level design that hinders the controls, unlike levels like Shifting Sand Land or Tall Tall Mountain. There’s also expansive unlike the sand-box like design in Mario 64, which does have its own merits.

I have played Sonic way more than the other, and I don’t wanna bash Mario 64 too much, but even when I got used to Mario’s controls the level design just didn’t mesh together. Sonic’s levels aren’t too challenging, maybe Final Egg, but their fun to run through and each level has enough secrets to have continuous playthroughs. I’m just saying, sonic had the smoother transition.

“I take one vacation away from the animals, and now I gotta fight the embodiment of my one weakness!”
Image from Pinterest
“Did you know that, apparently, this was alluded in the Japanese marketing for Sonic 3 and Knuckles. That’s…really good consistancy on Sonic Team’s part.” Image from Pinterest

However, while gameplay is fun, Sonic’s story is the introduction to the wider one. This means his section isn’t as in-depth to his character or to the lore, which is a strong point for the other characters. Sonic has to beat Eggman and get the Chaos Emeralds; the usual “get to the goal” kind of story that’s been in the previous main entries. Characters like Tails and Knuckle are at their surface level, acting as a teaser to their game modes. The only depth of lore comes after his fight with Chaos 6, where he enters into the Temple Ruins and discovers a sliver of Chaos’s backstory, an ancient mural and a vision of a fiery past. Besides that, it ends with him beating Eggman and saving the day.

Sonic’s story isn’t bad. The gameplay is the most solid out of everyone else. Who doesn’t remember his run from the giant Orca whale. It just lacks the substance in world building and character that the rest of the game offers. Sonic doesn’t change or learn anything unlike Tails or Amy, coming close to Big territory, and that one lore drop is all he has. Luckily, the secret story gives this blue blur the edge he needs over the others.

Favorite Moment

Just like how Sonic Adventure was my introduction to the franchise, it also gave me a taste of Nights: Into Dreams through the casino level in Casinopolis. When I played this as a kid, I thought this whole section was an in-universe character that was popular in Station Square. I found myself always coming back to this pinball machine because of how much it stands out from the rest of the game. The music is mystical, and my jaw drops every time I get transported to the bonus area and fly through a miniature Spring Valley.

“My favorite theme in the game, and it’s not even original to the game.” Image from Strategy Wiki

I eventually got a copy of Nights on Steam just to see how the game was. It’s a pretty fun acrobatics game, with enjoyable controls and heavenly music. By the end, though I wouldn’t say it blew my mind, but it was fun to be able to play a different game Sonic Team made. The company was pretty creative in their hay day. Hopefully, Balaan Wonderland can bring back the surreal fantasy that made me love Nights.

Tails: A Tale of Independence

“I wanna fly HIGH!” Image from Strategy Wiki

Tail’s may be the brains of the operation, but he’s the “Luigi” of the duo. Smart, but young, without the confidence to go on his own. Tail’s story is about him catching up to Sonic, his hero, in a symbolic and literal sense. While the story is essential the same as Sonic in the beginning, fighting the same bosses and going through the same cutscenes with small dialogue changes(which I’m pretty sure is non-canon), it diverges when the duo are separated in the first Tornado section. Tails lands in the jungles of Mystic Ruins where he dreams of his first encounter with the blue blur, running behind him with a smile on his face. Afterwards, Tail’s story becomes one of self-confidence and growing.

I love a character arc when a sidekick wants to be more than or equal to the main hero without disrespecting them. Tails learns to become independent besides just making gadgets, to not rely on Sonic for all his problems. At the end, he stands alone in the face of adversity against Eggman, who plans on detonating a straight up nuke within the city. Tails beats Mr Potato Head and becomes a hero to the people of Station Square, proving that he too can be a hero in his own way.

Unfortunately, as good as his character arc is, Tail’s levels are beyond easy. His gamemode is a race against Sonic (Eggman in the finale) in every level Sonic is in, excluding Twinkle Park, Lost Underworld, and Final Egg. However, levels were designed to make it impossible for Tails to lose. Not only can he fly across the entire map, they put ” magically floating rings” to give you short cuts to areas far ahead from Sonic. The only one without these shortcuts is Icecap since you’re stuck with a board.

“I didn’t even know Sonic could get that close.” Image from Mod DB

The story they were trying to tell gets undermined when they give Tails such easy routes to beat Sonic. I get that Sonic’s the fastest thing alive, but don’t nerf him to the point where Tail’s can beat him in a race by flying. I’ve swung into both spectrums on how I feel about Tail’s levels. Sometimes I enjoy it, sometimes I’m bored with it. By the end, it’s just decent. You’re only take away is Tail’s character growth…and how useless his tail blades are until the final battle.

Favorite Moment

Tail’s ending is just incredible, no matter the faults. Despite Eggman’s threats, he beats the AT-AT all by himself when no one else could have stood up to it. Surrounded by a crowd of cheering fans, Tails gained the confidence he needed to know that he can be a hero. Station Square knew of the hero Sonic, but this was Tails’s night. This was his glory. Heck, apparently Sonic Adventure 2 confirmed Tails got a medal for his actions and a Chaos Emerald. As the credits role, Tail’s theme plays, with lyrics discussing his major theme of independence and self-growth. Besides that, the song is triumphant, a fitting tune to a great character…which they forgot in Sonic Forces. I mean, come on! The moment I saw that interaction between Tails and Chaos killed any interest in that game. That crap was inexcusable. How are you gonna forget the one thing Tails had!

“So did Tails see this and think, ‘You know what, I’ll make my own chicken walker.” Image from Sonic Fandom

Knuckles and The Escape from Unemployment

“Oh no!” Image from Pinterest

Imagine your all alone, contemplating you whole existence with a magical emerald behind you, when you suddenly find a lanky water god towering over its shattered remains and eating the pizza man. To make matters worse, because the Master Emerald was what held it in the sky, the island falls into the ocean next to the Mystic Ruins (referenced as mountains by the explorers, which begs the question: how is the train station and the surrounding area not destroyed?).

Knuckles, the last guardian of the Emerald, must search around the 3 locations to find its scattered shards in order to bring Angel Island back to the sky seas.

As the last of the Echidna Tribe, which is further explored as the race in the past, this is Knuckle’s sole purpose in life. To me, his story is sad. His arc is about his secluded life, whether or not he’s happy with this fate. In the beginning, he states that he doesn’t know why he was given the job, meaning it was placed upon him when he was probably a child. However, he’s incredibly determined to recovering the Master Emerald, even, for the second time, believing Eggman that Sonic is trying to find shards as well. Though he’s naive, that rash behavior shows that he’ll do anything to accomplish his mission. His goal is simple in the end, compared to other characters. Get the stones, say hi to some friends, punch some robots, go back to his introverted seclusion and beat a stick. Serious and practical, Knuckles is one of the best characters.

His entire mode is a fetch quest, which makes for one of the more “explorational” sections of the game. Every character shares a few levels together, which, while might seem lazy, actually allows different sections of the location to be shown. Since Knuckles has gliding and climbing as abilities, you can explore so much of the map that you couldn’t with other characters (even Tails, who just really has crappy levels).

“Nobody touch my emeralds! I leave it all for my ghost!” Image from Sonic News Network

One of my favorite is in Red Mountain. It’s the exact map that Sonic has in the firsts ection, but Knuckles abilities can let you see all the little islands and canyons that you couldn’t access before. There are even the little things like the flying platforms and the strange whirlwind area in the far back. Being able to see different perspectives of the same maps in a new way makes Knuckle’s short levels unique. Level designers and programmers will have a blast with this Echidna

I’ll inject this right now, Knuckle’s gameplay is way better in this game than Sonic Adventure 2. The sequel, by giving him his own unique maps, took away what made him special in the original. They also ruined the meter that indicates where the shards are, showing only one at a time rather than the original that showed all 3, making levels way too long. Sure the original was short, which does suck, but its better than being stuck in one level for 30 minutes going through the same looking hallways. But hey, at the end of the day, at least Knuckles got the best level songs in 2. How a serious and rash character can work with chill hip-hop is beyond me, but it is a damn good mixture.

Favorite Moment

“A purpose in isolation. Is there truly more to that kind of life?” Image from Sonic News Network

A question Knuckles raises is, “Is there more to life than just this role?” Knuckles seemingly wants to do more in his life than live in seclusion and fight for the Emerald. The only time he ever goes to Station Square is for his job, never getting the time to just hang around. He never goes to Sonic like bros, he goes for advice on his job or fight him. His mind is focused on one thing, though the beginning makes you wonder if he really wants to do this anymore. Seclusion can have a toll on a person, especially for all their life. Heck, it’s no wonder he has a hard time talking to Rouge. There aren’t any lady Echidnas, or ladies at all, on Angel Island.

By the end, however, as he sits in front of the restored Alter with the sun beating int he distance, he feels satisfaction in his role. I think it’s because of the 3 times he sees the past, and not just because of the quest. The game never points it out but this is the first time he’s seen the tribe he’s descended from. He saw increments of the struggle for the Master Emerald, between the tribe leader Pachacamac and his daughter Tikal. In last vision, he sees the shrine in flames, the girl hurt, and an ominous roar in the distance. He may not have seen it all, but I believe this helped reaffirm his belief in protecting the Emerald. He may not have seen the entire story, but he’s found a new sense of peace in his purpose.

Big the Cat: A Huge Problem

“Like it, want it, need it, WHY!” Image from Pinterest

Before we get to the two last characters, let’s get this stupid one out of the way. Big’s section is bad. While I can do it, it’s just so unnecessary. The only form of enjoyment from this section is the Game Grumps playthrough. Arin’s rage makes watching fishing fun. Why would you have a fishing mode in a game called Sonic Adventure! The story has some relevance, but not to the point where we needed a Gaiden on it.

So, the story starts with Big sleeping in his hut within the depths of the jungle, where a search party of dim-witted explorers are, when his pet frog, Froggy, discovers a differently shaded and textured puddle. When it gets close, the water gets ingested, and the frog gains a longer tail. Big wakes up to find his friend insane, eating his damn Chaos Emerald and hopping away. And thus, the journey of furry Duke Nukem begins.

“Come on Froggy, get over here! I’m gonna hook this sh!t in your mouth.” Image from Nowhere

Big’s gameplay is fishing. That’s it. You go to 4 stages with a bunch of pools to catch a green frog, and you just wait. Gotta go fast! Except, if you don’t know what to do, it takes hours. As a great memory of my time as a kid, I never did this section. My brother played it, and I remember distinctly Emerald Coast being 3 hours. We waited 3 hours to catch a frog in a Sonic game

I eventually found out that you have to push down on the Control Stick to get the “hit” when Froggy, or any fish, bites the lure. So, while I can finish a level in under an hour now, it’s not worth it. Compared to Sonic’s fast platforming and Knuckle’s exploration, the fishing is just slow as hell or a quirk route to boredom. Big’s maps do show different parts of the maps, like the top of the aquarium in Hot Shelter, which is good world building. However, Froggy’s location isn’t randomized. It’s in the same spot every time, so there’s no point to going back to the level to explore the secret areas unless you want a bunch of fish or just for some sense of fun. His gameplay is repetitive the first time and in subsequent replays.

To add to injury, and this may be different for your copy, but I found that getting to the secret area of Hot Shelter makes catching Froggy impossible. For some reason, I can never catch anything while floating in the water using the Life Belt. Since getting to the secret area requires filling up the main location with so much water that the only solid ground, a floating brick, is far from Froggy’s location, I have to reset the level to erase what I did. It’s mind numbing.

“There’s a whole skeleton in Icecape that’s so cool but you’ll only see it when you need to find Froggy.”

As I said, the story has relevance, but only because of Froggy. It shows why Froggy became one of the central points of Eggman’s scheme, since he needs Chaos’s tail. However, even if Big is the owner, I don’t think we needed an entire story of the character when his frog is more important. I do like the chill humor of the story, and a story about a cat fishing for his pet frog in the midst of the world close to ending sounds like my alley. But the execution was not worth the 3 hours. The game didn’t need Big’s section, functioning the same, or even better, without the laid-back cat.

Favorite Moment

“I will fight Chaos the only way I can, with my fishing pole!” Image from Sonic News Network

I do love this moment. This is the funniest way to have a boss fight with Chaos. After Eggman kidnaps Froggy for the third time to give the swallowed Emerald and tail to Chaos by straight up throwing it into the deity, Big must help Sonic to get his pal back the only way he can: fish within Chaos’s body. I hope and fear the man who thought this got a promotion. Think about, knowing in the end, that Big managed to penetrate Chaos’s body faster than most characters. Some people may find it stupid, and I can see that, but the fact that they made this happen with a water boss the team wanted in the game is brilliant. Not worth it, mind you, but funny none the least.

E-102 Gamma: The True Hero

“My hovering jetpack is having a hard time holding this whole game.” Image from Sonic News Network

Gamme is the reason, in my opinion, you should play Sonic Adventure. A lot of people have said it but Gamma is the best character in this game, no doubt about it. An amazing plot of brothers, the concept of love and freedom, and character development that stands out among the rest…considering he dies in the end. He’s the only character in the franchise to die apparently, though you could consider the Dreamcast as well. However, like his B.A.G, his character had an impact that none of the other characters had.

The story begins with Gamma’s creation as the second of the E-100 series robots, coming after his “brother” Beta. After a shooting test, Gamma is pitied against his brother to see who will be apart of the Egg Carrier Crew, because why have two of your best soldiers when you can have just one. Gamma wins, impressing Eggman, but Beta comes along for “spare parts.

“Something about this feels like my master’s fantasy…” Image from Source Gaming

Inside the large vessel, Gamma is put in a team with 3 other of his kind: Delta, Zeta, and Epsilon. Eggman instructs them, as their first mission, to catch Froggy. Yeah, a ragtag team of pimped up robots should totally be catching a frog instead of gunning down Sonic. Good plan Eggman. After Gamma succeeds, gets sent to a vision of the past, and watches his other siblings transported away, he stumbles upon Beta being remodeled. Something about this hits Gamma, as if he’s witnessed a murder. Just one long existential crisis.

“This bird is free to fly. Why do I recognize it, and why do I desire the same thing?”

Confused, Gamma leaves to accomplish another task for Eggman: take a bird from a captive Amy. Gamma demands for the bird, but Amy refuses to heed his commands. When Amy asks why he wants it, Gamma is left with no answer. He doesn’t know why he carries out these orders and, after everything that’s happened since his birth, he’s left a shaking, confused child. After a while, Gamma questions why Amy cares for something she barely knows, something useless to her. Amy takes pity on the machine, believing Eggman failed to give him the greatest gift of all: love. Suddenly, Birdie escape to look directly into Gamma’s eyes. Gamma stares at the bird when a mysterious picture appears in his processors, one of 3 birds including the blue one. Gamma is left silently shaking until he makes the ultimate call to let Amy go. The girl thanks Gamma, calling him a friend, before leaving the robot to his thoughts.

Have I talked gameplay? No? Okay. Well Gamma’s the gun level. I’d make a Shadow The Hedgehog joke, but I barely played that game. Anyway, Gamma’s main objective is to shoot everything he can until he faces the boss of the level, namely his comrades after he decides to go against Eggman and free the animals within them(a good expansion on the idea of the machines having animals in them). Unlike the other characters where there timer goes up to tell you how long you’ve spent on a level, Gamma’s goes down. Blasting enemies gives you more seconds of time, and with the lock on system allowing you to stack up time, its best to hold the B button to lock onto as many robots as you can to avoid a game over.

Gamma’s gameplay is alright. It’s quick and gets to the point like a gun, so it accomplishes what’s it’s meant to do. All 5 levels aren’t long, so it makes most of Gamma’s story cutscenes. He controls fine, the rocket pack giving him a small gliding boost like knuckles and the gun fires fast, but his movement speed always felt slow. He can speed up, transforming his legs so his back wheels can move him, but it gets annoying when he gets stuck on stairs. He has another mode where he becomes a propeller to avoid water, which makes him raising Chao impossible. Don’t use him for taking care of babies.

“So, you guys or gals cool with me busting holes in you later for my existential crisis?” Image from Sonic News Network

The part that lacks is boss fights. They are way to easy. All the E-Series robots have low health, two attacks, and A.I that barely tries. I’m not asking Sephiroth bosses, but his final boss, once you know how it works, can go by so fast it almost takes away how awesome and emotional it is.

(Before I do my obvious favorite moment, I have to talk about the character integral to his plot.)

Amy: Love In Different Ways

“Sonic has quills, Knuckles has fists, and I have a big a$$ hammer!”

I have had many different perspectives on Amy’s story. At first, I thought nothing of it. As a kid, it was just “the girl” of the game. Later I found myself feeling they cheated Amy out of a good one, making her have the fewest levels and not having her stand on her own. I felt that her goal of saving a bird wasn’t as significant as Sonic’s or Gammas. But, despite how short it is, this story does Amy’s character justice. Love is her main character element, and the game brings out so much of that theme through her actions. I saved her for last because not only did she become my second favorite story, but she’s integral to the story of Gamma.

It starts with her being the material girl of a material world, reminiscing the bygone days where she and Sonic were together and being chased by his psychotic robot double (by this point, I’m pretty sure Sonic Adventure is a continuation of the 2d games). Suddenly, Eggman’s flying fortress passes above Station Square, scaring all the citizens with its massive, pointy tip. Amy questions what just happened, when a blue bird suddenly tackles across her face. At first she’s mad, but she realizes the bird must have escaped from Eggman when E-100 Zero, the prototype to the E-100 series, crashes from the ship and chases the duo. Realizing the bird is in danger, Amy vows to protect the bird and deliver it to their family…by first asking Sonic to do it.

Amy’s gameplay is honestly the second worst of the game. She runs like a tank which makes movement jarring and unnatural. She has a hammer as her main weapon. If you run fast enough, she can do a really fun somersault by launching her into the air. Other than that, just the tap of B adds to the clunkiness. In each stage, she is pursued by Zero relentlessly, making her gameplay that of the “cat and mouse.” Zero has a lock on, a prototype to the one Gamma has, hands that can stretch out like a rocket punch, and a electric shock wave when it jumps in the air. The game says don’t let Zero catch you, but that just means don’t let it kill you. Nothing happens if Zero touches you.

“No joke, I still don’t understand the controls of this area.” Image from Neoseeker

To halt it’s progress, since you can’t break the exterior(somehow more durable than it’s successors) you hit it down to the ground to stun it. Some levels have little cans to hide in like Solid Snake, but they are useless. Not once did the mechanic work, since you’re in plain view of the robot. It’s like hiding in a cupboard while Jason Voorhees is in the room watching you. On a funnier note, sometimes Zero leaves you alone for a while but busts through walls just to scare you. I guess Zero did it’s horror film research.

The end goal is some random balloon that takes you to safety, even though Zero can clearly just rocket punch the balloon. It floats slowly anyway, and I’ve seen Zero bounce high enough to just grab her. I don’t know, maybe Eggman didn’t program it with smarts. Like father, like robot.

This mode can be fun when you get the handle on the controls, however you only have 3 levels to do that. Yep, she has the lowest count of levels. Most of her story is just cutscenes and dialogue, and the occasional kidnapping. I do get it, since it’s just her trying to find a bird’s family in 3 locations. The pacing is good for such an arc, I do enjoy each scene like her and it going into Final Egg, but it feels stupid when she’s the only girl character. It’s really obvious. Besides that, she deserved more levels than Big the ATOZ 7. Amy’s gameplay is bad, but at least it’s not so bad that people couldn’t beat the game because of fishing.

I didn’t mention it till now, but each character gets their own upgrade that boosts their abilities or gives them new ones. Knuckles gets shovel claws to dig, Sonic gets a ring to do the Light Speed Dash, and Big gets a bunch of lure. I saved it till now to discuss how stupid Amy’s are.

Her first upgrade, the Warrior Feather, allows her to spin her hammer in place. It’s required like other upgrades, which, unlike others, must be obtained by beating Eggman’s high score on his whack-a-mole minigame (why does he have this in the Egg Carrier? I don’t know, he must get bored in there). However, it doesn’t help fight enemies and you can’t use it to inevitably kill Zero cause you need a horizontal attack than a vertical one. In a section of running away, the move keeps you static and vulnerable. The only thing it does is cause a special animation where Amy becomes dizzy as she walks. Like Tail’s tail swords, this mechanic is unnecessary to play the game.

“Wow, this could have been useful a while ago!” Image from Sonic News Network

Her last upgrade is the Long Hammer, which increases the range of attack. This makes hitting enemies and somersaults easier. However, you can’t get this upgrade during her story, rather afterwards. You get it at the whack-a-mole again, getting 3000 points instead, in the floating ruins of the Carrier. What I don’t understand is you come to this location for Amy’s last level and boss, yet getting the score gives you nothing. You have to beat it, go back in, and do it again.

So much of her gameplay left a bad taste in my mouth, leaving a bad impression on her story. Slow, janky, getting all the good stuff 2000 late, and going by like a blur in the worst way. Thankfully, I ignored it to analyze the underrated story.

Favorite Moments

“Writer Here: You would not believe how scared I when typing “Amy and Gamma” in Google for a screenshot. I was afraid of seeing the weird side of the Fandom.” Image from F@ck Yeah Sonic

Amy first appeared in Sonic CD as the “Minnie” for Sonic, a love struck hedgehog who fell for the Blue Blur. Even when Sonic rejects her heart, Amy is determined to make Sonic fall for her. Her character is essentially based around love, shown by the pink of her fur. While the game keeps this aspect of her character, the writers also brought out, in full flair, her love for other creatures. When the little bird was in trouble, and Sonic rightfully refused his stalker’s request, she immediately made it her quest to protecting it from Zero. I always loved that the bird followed behind her. It’s a small detail, but it showed how much the bird imprinted to her.

This act of love would later be the revelation needed for Gamma. As I said, Amy is responsible for Gamma turning on Eggman. She initially hated the machine, like all Eggman robots since she was kidnapped by Metal Sonic in CD, but when she realized Gamma had not reason to do the things he did she felt sorry for him. Amy immediately pleaded to him them, seeing Gamma now as a life than a machine. When Gamma frees them, she’s actually shocked. An Eggman robot being good? As she leaves, she thanks Gamma and decides to call him a friend.

Amy would later return the favor by stopping Sonic (or Tails) from delivering the finishing blow on a damaged Gamma, telling them that he’s good. Just before the Carrier crashes and Tails takes Amy away, she asks Gamma if he’s okay. He asks why she helps him, to which she repeats that their friends. She even states that Eggman is no good for him, and that she and the bird want to see him friend. Amy hopes she sees him again as they depart the falling castle in the sky, separated to continue their own story.

Image from Sonic News Network

Gamma, as memories of his life and the people he’s met flash before his servos, decides to erase his master registration, declaring Eggman an enemy and making it his mission to free the animals within his E-100 series brothers.

“Last remaining units…Beta…Gamma…” Image from Source Gaming

One of my favorite Gamma moments is right after he destroys Zeta, and he sees a modified Beta fly above him. Right before he goes into his last battle, he takes a moment to count how many units are left. Beta and Gamma. He looks at his hand as he says his own name. His mission is to free all the E-100 series robots, including himself. With the ocean breeze as ambience, it reveals to the player that Gamma isn’t going to walk away from this story with a happily ever after. His battle with Beta will be the last, or he’ll have to take other measures to free the animal inside of him.

After his fight with Beta Mk II, as his brother falls to the ground close to exploding, you think Gamma’s gonna walk away. However, Beta faces Gamma and delivers a fatal shot to the protagonist. Beta dies, freeing the yellow bird within. Gamma limps away as the bird watches. Just then, Gamma remembers the memory of three birds: a yellow one, a pink one, and a blue one. Right then, the machine falls to the ground and dies in the biggest explosion in the game. The story fades away as a pink bird reunites with the yellow one. However, while this is the ending shown in Gamma’s story, Amy’s end shows the conclusion.

After failing to find Birdie’s family in Final Egg, Amy believes they may be on the floating Egg Carrier since that’s where Birdie escaped from. They go and Amy is happy when birdie finds their family, revealing to be the yellow Beta and pink Gamma bird the whole time. Suddenly, Zero appears and hits Birdie with a rocket punch. Fed up, Amy takes out her hammer and stands her ground. With the help of the “magically appearing electric gates,” Amy destroys Zero once and for all, as only one stalker can be in the Sonic Universe.

As Amy stays with the hurt bird, watching it try to fly away. For a moment, it seems Birdie dies, but they manages to recovery and fly with the rest of its flock. Amy says how happy she is that Birdie found their family again. Amy watches them as they fly away to the sunset, never realizing that she got to see Gamma one last time. Amy says that she’ll do her best, which basically means getting Sonic’s damn respect. The story ends for the both of them, going back to their daily lives.

“Can’t believe you blew up our cool, mecha suits, idiot!” Image by Sonic Adventure Facts from Twitter

Gamma’s story hit me as a kid. In a short time, I saw his birth and death at the same time; an entire lifetime. I never expected him to go like that, hell I never thought a main protagonist could die. When Beta, possibly rejecting his brother, takes the dirty shot, it came out of left field for me. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, and then it all came together when the hero fell. The emotional weight his story had stuck with me for years, becoming one of the reasons I got into storytelling. I don’t remember if I cried or not, probably did, but every subsequent playthrough came close to bringing me to tears. Something brought up to me was how his theme song, played in every cutscene, represents his story; the techno front being his robotic exterior while the soft piano is the emotions he gains.

I chose to do Gamma and Amy’s section together because they’re connected together. Having Amy’s ending be about her growth as a character and the finale of Gamma’s arc really shows how much they affected one another, and how much they are friends. Sure Gamma’s is the more famous one, he is a fan favorite, but I got to give credit to Amy for being the reason for his redemption. Their stories are the most heartfelt and unique in the game, and why I think you should give them a shot and play the game.

End of Part One

“I just liked this meme. Props to the creator.” Image by Stick Breightley on Reddit

Since this post is getting long, I’ll separate the secret story, other characters, and miscellaneous things into a different post. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this February, 2021, and I’ll see you into the start of the Spring, where allergies will come and falsely accuse people of having the virus. Fun times.

-Samuel Argueta

The 100 Songs I like to Listen to

Note: I know the Metal Arm’s Review isn’t up yet. I apologize. I was writing the first draft of it last night on Thursday when I had a family emergency. Don’t worry, it was a false alarm but it left me incredibly tired. The review will come up Saturday night. Anyway, enjoy the list.

The 100 songs I loved in 2020 (doesn’t actually have to been made in 2020 and not a Best to Eh)

1.The Entire Song Machine by Gorillaz

2. Feels like Summer by Childish Gambino(or Donald Glover)

3. Stairway to Heaven by Led Zepplin

4. Humility by Gorillaz

5. Tick Tock by Joji

6. Dreams by Fleetwood Mac

7. Village of Dali from Final Fantasy 9

8. Gymnopedie by Erik Satie

9. Pretty Boy by Joji

10. Fly Like An Eagle by Steve Miller Band (Also the cover by Seal)

11. Sara by Fleetwood Mac

12. Rhiannon by Fleetwood Mac

13. Chances Are by Johnny Mathis

14. Thunderstruck by ACDC

15. Hell’s Bells by ACDC

16. Love Train by The O’Jays

17. Boogie Wonderland by Earth, Wind, & Fire

18. Big Poppa by Notorious B.I.G

19.Juicy by Notorious B.I.G

20. Paisley Park by Prince

21. I’ll Get Lucky Someday by Glen Campbell

22. Might Be Right by White Reaper

23. Safe And Sound by Capitol Cities

24. Pocketful Of Sunshine by Natasha Bedingfield

25. Orphans by Coldplay

26. Yellow by Coldplay

27. Almighty from Kamen Rider Saber

28. Chant My Name from Ultraman Z

29. Ms. Jackson by Outkast

30. Cid’s Theme from Final Fantasy 9

31. This is America by Donald Gambino

32. The Main Them from The Mandolorian

33. Send In The Clown by Frank Sinatra

34. Tusk by Fleetwood Mac

35. Demon Days by Gorillaz

36. Circles by Post Malone

37. Paperback Writer by The Beatles

38. Here Comes The Sun by The Beatles

39. Killer Queen by Queen

40. Georgy Porgy by Toto

41. Adventure Of A Lifetime by Coldplay

42. Native New Yorker by Odyssey

43. Viva La Vida by Coldplay

44. The Entire Transformers 1986 Movie Soundtrack

45. It’s Christmas Time Again by by Vince Guaraldi

46. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas by Sam Smith

47. Dancing With A Stranger by Normani and Sam Smith

48. One Kiss by Dua Lipa

49. Without Me by Eminem

50. Another Brick In The Wall by Pink Floyd

51. Echoes by Pink Floyd

52. Mecha World from A.I Artificial Intelligence

53. Space Oddity by David Bowie (Also the cover by Chris Hansfield)

54. Disintegration by Myuu

55. Vast Poni Canyon from Pokemon Sun and Moon

56. Kamen Rider Saber’s Ending Theme

57. Corridors Of Time from Chrono Trigger

58. West Town Girls by Pet Shop Boys

59. Stayin Alive by Bee Gees

60. Californication by Red Hot Chili Peppers

61. Who’s Crying Now by Journey

62. Super Fast Jellyfish by Gorillaz

63. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt cheap by ACDC

64. Rising Sun from Okami

65. Last Train Home by Pay Metheny Group

66. Metsuboujinrai’s theme from Kamen rider Zero One

67. The Man by the Killers

68. Tears in Rain from Blade Runner

69. Blade Runner Blues from Blade Runner

70. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking for by U2

71. Shooting Stars by Bag Raiders

72. Immigration Song by Led Zepplin

73. Fool In the Rain by Led Zepplin

74. Paradise City by Gun’s and Roses

75. Under Pressure by Queen and David Bowier

76. Private Eyes by Hall & Oates

77. Beyond The Moon by The Pillows

78. Star Overhead by The Pillows

79. When Dove’s Cry by Prince

80. Shine On You Crazy Diamond by Pink Floyd

81. Return Of The Mack by Mark Morrison

82. All Around The World by Daft Punk

83. Photograph by Def Leopard

84. Stardust Speedway All Versions from Sonic CD

85. Emerald Coast from Sonic Adventure

86. Meteor Herd from Sonic Adventure 2

87. Don’t Stop Believing by Journey

88. Suspicious Minds by Elvis Presley

89. Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper

90. The Court Of The Crimson King by King Crimson

91. Don’t Fear The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult

92. I Still Cannot Sleep/They Cannot Touch Her from Taxi Driver

93. True Colors by Cyndi Lauper

94. Cherchez La Femme by Dr. Buzzard Original Savannah Band

95. Walking Into The Sunshine by Central Line

96. Dracula by Gorillaz

97. Paint it Black by Rolling Stones

98. Rock the Casbah by The Clash

99. Chained To the Rhythm by Katy Perry

100. Empire Ants by Gorillaz

Update February 1st, 2021: It’s been a long while since I have updated. I am currently in school while also dealing with an internship, so this blog and website is being kept in the backburner of priorities. I apologize to anyone reading. In terms of a plan, I am not sure if I can do bigger posts like my review of Earthbound Beginnings this semester, but I am thinking of making smaller posts. As a spoiler, I am thinking of my own thoughts about a minor character in Earthbound.

Until then, expect a crazy schedule where posts come randomly. See you then.

-Samuel Argueta

Kamen Rider: A Jump To the Sky That Become a Rider Hit

An Old Hero, A Spanning Legend

“And they say Endgame was the most ambitious crossover ever.”
Image from Kamen Rider Fandom, the website I spend too much time on.

Kamen Rider is a Power Rangers rip off that- nah I’m kidding. Kamen Rider is a tokusatsu show, a Japanese type of live action cinema or television that heavily uses special effects and originated from Japanese theater shows. Kamen Rider is the best know example of the superhero  “henshin” genre, alongside others such as Ultraman and its sister series Super Sentai, in which a young man, usually early 20s, is given powers to transform into a bug-eyed hero to fight evil on a motorcycle. The franchise is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary, so I think it’s necessary for me to reveal my absolute love for this series.

History: Presented By Zaia

“No jokes this time. Thank you Shotaro for giving us this franchise.”
Image from Wikipedia

The franchise was created by Shotoro Ishinormori(original last name Onedara), an influential manga artist who defined tokusatsu with such series’ as Cyborg 009 and Super Sentai. The first ever Kamen Rider series, just called Kamen Rider, aired in 1971. It told the story of college student Takeshi Hongo, IQ genius and Sega lover, who had been kidnapped by Shocker, an evil terrorist organization who wanted to rule the world with modified humans, in order to create the ultimate warrior. However, irony kicked in when Hongo escaped the facility, taking with him the power to transform into the Kamen Rider.

With a bike, martial arts, and the eventual help from Hayato Ichimonji, the second and first Secondary Kamen Rider, Takeshi managed to beat each of Shocker’s warriors on a weekly basis until the Double Riders destroyed the organization. And thus started this sequence of events as future rider would beat their own monsters on a weekly basis and deal with the troubles of life, friendship, and the occasional talking belt.

The show became a hit and would later spawn 9 more seasons and 4 movies in the Showa Era, or I guess Heisei as well with the movies. Unfortunately, Ishinomori passed away on January 29, 1998, two years before he could see the revival of the series, Kuuga, make the franchise popular again in 2000.

“Told ya, talking belt.”
Image from Kamen rider Fandom

After Kuuga became a hit with the moms, the franchise would continue to today under the…moderately okay hands of Toei studios. With a total of 32 seasons, and crap ton of movies and special, and a passion filled fanbase, it’s become a prominent figure in Japanese Pop culture.

Cast Off! What is a Kamen Rider?

“My Grandmother once said: It’s not spandex, it’s leather. Really beatable and aged leather.” Image from Kamen Rider Fandom, which I think is where most will come.

A Kamen Rider is a spandex wearing superhero who rides a motorcycle. Their first designs were based on grasshoppers which gave them their unique insect look, most notably their compound eyes that became a staple design in future riders. They also had a red scarf, though this would only appear later in a few incarnations. To transform, you needed two things. First, a transformation device. The staple device is a belt, which would later be known as Drivers with Decade, though many Riders have a spin on this. Ichigo, the name of the first rider since it got too confusing, used the Typhoon, which used the wind with a spinning device in the center of the belt would be referenced in many future belts. The second is the term Henshin, yes this is where it comes from, which is a term every single rider uses to activate the transformation. Do a cool pose and watch as your armor comes on with magic or technology, not no Morphing Grid.

Build Change! The Rider Machines

“Hey look at my cool bike that I’ll ride for a few episodes and a movie until Japanese laws kick in and I RUN EVERYWHERE!”
Image Dictsaurus from Reddit

Motorcycles is a Rider’s steed, otherwise they wouldn’t be considered a Rider. Unless your Drive, who drives a car. Known as Rider Machines, from the Cyclone to Diago Speedy, these machines would serve a Rider to help with running down bad guys. Or you could be Kuuga and use the damn bike as a replacement for your fists. However, in recent years, they haven’t seen much screen time due to Japanese laws against modified bikes. Watch from Kuuga to Zi-O and notice the lacking appearance of these machines. It’s sad, but it can’t be helped. At least the movies show them.

Final Form Ride: M-M-Motifs!

Motifs are a common trend with Kamen Rider. It started out simple with animals, usually bugs or even a dragon. Then things got weird and complicated with Heisei. 555, or Faiz, had a motif of phones and technology, Blade had a theme of playing card, and then you get to Gaim who is based on fruits. Their weapons and henshin device would tie well with their motif, especially with the collectible gimmick. Starting with Ryuki, belts required an external source to be placed into the belt to transform. For real, it’s to sell toys. It’s a Japanese kid show, it needed high quality screaming toys. Each gimmick corresponded with the motif, so you’d get stuff like game cartridges, soda bottles, cards, and even eyeballs once. The show would make them important, so it didn’t feel as cash grabby, much to the dismay of fans of the older seasons and people’s wallet.

“Yes, he’s wearing an orange for armor. However, I’ll some information for you anime fans. His season was written by Gen Urobuchii”
Image by Decade 1945 on Devianart

Kick Strike, Saiko!

A Kamen Rider’s greatest weapon is their own body, or sometimes a weapon. The Rider Kick is the signature finisher every Kamen Rider has, where they jump into the sky and perform a flying side kick. Though, you could be a badass like Kabuto and perform a roundhouse kick. Other finishers come from punches or their weapons. This started with Riderman and became a trend in Heisei for that sweet toy money. Most weapons are swords but there have been guns, staffs, axes, and even a DJ table gun-sword thing.

“Hey! I didn’t see him puncture a hole through his chest and cause a massive explosion! It’s not a rider kick unless they impact like a f*cking bullet train!” GIF by Trench Zero from Tenor

Hissastu Dokuha: Cross of Fire

One of the bigger themes with Kamen Rider is the fact that, despite being made or directly tied to the evil antagonists, you can use your powers for justice and peace. This is known as the Cross of Fire, termed in Wizard. The very fact is many of the protagonists could have turned out evil, but it’s their own choice to use their given powers to do good.

This concept would be challenged in many seasons, from other Kamen Riders using their powers for selfish or evil reasons, with a common trend now having the final villain be a Kamen Rider, or even the protagonist willingly become evil. Many shows have other themes, but the Cross of Fire is the theme of Kamen Rider no matter what.

I am the child of the Americas, Kamen Rider Adaptations!

“Okay, this one was good. I’d show Masked Rider, but then I would need Ferbus and I don’t wanna see that E.T sh!t again.”
Image from Imbd

Kamen Rider Japan’s baby, but it has seen some adaptations here in there in America. The most infamous being Masked Rider, an adaptation of Black RX Saban made during their experimental time in the 90s after the success of Power Rangers. However, it didn’t do well and that ended any chance of Saban doing any more Kamen Rider adaptations. Whether that was a good thing or not is left unknown. Steve and Micheal Wang would go on to adapt Ryuki into Kamen Rider: Dragon Knight in 2008, which I did watch personally. It was good but didn’t do enough to get Kamen Rider western fame.

International Rise!

However, things would change in 2020, when Shout Factory Tv would create Tokushoutsu for their own streaming service and PlutoTv. Not only did Super Sentai and Ultraman come to the west, the original Kamen Rider would be aired for the first time ever. Later on, Kuuga would be added to the roster and then the Build/Zi-O crossover movie “Heisei Generations:Forever” with subtitles. As confirmed by Toei, in celebration of the 50t anniversary of the series, both era starters and Zero One, the first of the Reiwa era, will be coming to Toei’s official Tokusatsu World youtube page for the franchise’s 50th anniversary.

“Kamen Riders, assemble! Except you Shin. Get your mutated a$$ out of here.” GIF by Wayfinder on Tenor

3, 2, 1! How to Watch.

For the time being, not everything Kamen Rider related is available. Most of the seasons can be watched on places like Kissasian and other “legit” streaming service. There aren’t very reliable, or safe honestly. I’m not advocating for it, do what you watch, but until these seasons become readily available in more legal ways this is the way.

Open Up! My Personal History

“Besides Dragon Knight, this was one of the first things I’ve seen of Kamen Rider over in the East.” Image from Kamen Rider Fandom

I’ve been a fan of the series for a long while. I believe I started watching in 2015, during Power Rangers: Dino Charge’s run, when I first watched Gaim and Fourze, which I didn’t really finish until 2020. A friend of mine got me into it, and ever since then I’ve been trying to watch as many as I can. I’ve seen Gaim, Drive, Ghost(which I didn’t finish), Ex-aid, Build, Blade, Zi-O, Fourze, Kuuga, Zero-One, and currently Saber.

I love this series to death, even when it does disappoint at times. Many are a hit or miss, but the storytelling can be incredibly engaging and unique. For a kids series, the series is not afraid to be more mature and dark, more than any of adult shows in America. No sex, sometimes cursing, and pretty violent. The themes are thought provoking, leaving me wondering throughout and remembering afterwards. From the ethics of war, the effect of friendship, whether or not a person’s ideal is right or wrong, and even if a child should be born in a world full of violence. When it hits, it really hits. But each show has its way of shining a bright light, having fun with each episode. Sure, its cheesy, really cheesy, but it’s some of the most entertaining content I’ve seen in a long time. It proves Japan has some of the greatest storytellers. If only Toei would get that through their heads sometimes.

The thought of whether or not Kamen Rider being popular in America is a good or bad thing is left for another day, but I can say I hope the franchise continues for a very long time. It has its faults, I can’t deny some seasons infuriate the hell out of me, but the good overcome the bad. This is a series that worth checking out on your own time, of course with a virus protector. Look past the cheesiness, and you get a show that’s worth it.

“I won’t spoil it, but this form from Build leads to one of its best and darkest arcs.” Image by Prasblacker from Devianart

Apology for the late post. I got held up with the internship and coming back to my college. It hurt not being able to post this but I do hope you enjoy me rambling about a popular and niche topic. In terms of the future, the schedule has gotten out of whack and I’m not sure if posts will come to the planned date. Earthbound Beginnings may come early February.

Either way, I’ll make sure to update more about the blog, the website, and my book so stay tuned. Alright, have a good night and remember to pray for love and peace.

“By the way, this guy can legit beat Thanos and any other OP villain.”
Image from Villain Wiki

-Samuel Argueta