I may have grown up with Pokemon, but I’ve always been a Digimon fan at heart. If I had to say which is my favorite, Digimon would be the clear winner. I may not have had games, but I’ve always loved the anime for its characters, actually depths within the plot (for some), and the Digimon themselves. Some sure are…questionably designed. Why do they give Digimon like Angewomon tits? It’s supposed to be a monster, not Jessica Alba. But some Digimon like Greymon and Machinedramon really sold me on the idea. Cool looking but not overly designed. Just enough to make me recognize them with awe and appreciation.
I’m more of an anime fan because I barely played any of the Digimon games that have come out. I’ve only played Digimon Dusk, which Pokemon totally stole the concept of, and Digimon Cyber Sleuth + Hackers Memory. They’re not bad games. I’d even say Cyber Sleuth is an amazing game. But Dusk left a lot to be desired and Hacker’s Memory was just a lot of lost potential. However, what I love about these games are the fact that they expand upon or change what the world of Digimon is. This is less of a critic on the games and more on what Digimon as a franchise is. For comparison, it always feels like Pokemon is safe with its franchise. Just do the same thing over and over again with changes that are more superficial than actually developing the franchise. Digimon barely does that. These games, and the anime, always experiments to make each adventure unique. So were great, and some were Digimon Tri. Dawn and Dusk took the formula of kids going into the Digital World and changed it so a bunch of them created their own society within it. Digimon Cyber Sleuth barely even goes to the Digital World, creating a version of the human world that created a digital paradise so close to the Digital World that leaks happened. Fundamentally, it’s still about Digital monsters and people creating connections with them. But none of them feel tired out or over-done. Except for Digimon Tri. That was a mess.
Digimon Survive is that concept but taking it to a completely different level. Developed by Hyde and published by Bandai Namco, Digimon Survive is a darker take on the original anime. Emphasis on the anime part; I’ll get to that later. We’ve got the main characters as campers but are much older, around middle to highschool. They’re sucked into a world full of monsters, except these Digimon are of ancient japanese folklore called the Kemonogami instead of a world in the internet. Probably. I haven’t finished the game yet. The biggest change is that any of the characters could truly die. Their only protection are ally monsters who have dedicated themselves to keeping them safe. They have to find a way out of this world with all their pieces intact, while learning what exactly the Kemonogami are.
This is one of the biggest changes to the Digimon formula, and one of the craziest interpretations on the original. I knew I wanted this game when it was first announced. That first trailer hooked me in. The tactical rpg elements were fairly new to me, as I’ve only played Fire Emblem Awakening, but I wanted to see this through. But, I didn’t see another trailer until I got it just 2 days ago and learned that it was a…visual novel?
Now, before you click off and think that I’m about to reviewbomb this game, just hear me out. People apparently didn’t watch the trailers, like me, and were disappointed with the fact that it’s a visual novel. So much so that people outright hate this game because of it. But not me. I was actually invested in the game because I learned of its genre on the spot. I don’t play many visual novel games because, from what I’ve seen, I thought I would have gotten bored of it. If I wanted to read a bunch of text with no other variety, I’d pick up a book. I read books to read and I play games to play. That’s the natural order of things! But, despite that, I kept an open mind. At least it gave me an excuse to try out a visual novel. What can I say except getting into it.
Now, this ain’t a full review. I ain’t finished yet, and I do not want to rush this game. I’m only discussing what I have played, which is about when you get to the school. Now, without out further adoooooo
This game is fucking amazing. I haven’t been this engaged in a game since Bioshock. Soooooo…2 months. The story is incredible. While you can tell which character is an archetype of one of the original kids, their character is so well-developed that you forget about it. I love all of the characters, especially Minomu. Dude’s got a vibe I can relate to. I also love that they went with Digimon partners that haven’t been used in the past…except Agumon. But at least Agumon has other evolutions besides the Greymon line, spicing up this roster a lot more. The mystery of the Kemonogami is really fascinating. I love how integral the Digimon have become in Japanese legend. Really lends to fantastic world building.
This game really is dark, but not because there’s a bunch of sex, or blood, or sex, or characters more emo than redditor, or sex. It’s a “mature” Digimon experience because it doesn’t cherry coat how much danger there is. I can’t wait to see my stupid my decisions lead to their deaths. Not only that, but everything is given this mysterious tone to it that keeps an air of tension as you play. I’m invested in the characters because all their worry, motivations, and decisions feel real. But it doesn’t dilute the soul that Digimon has. There are just enough light moments to remind you that this is a Digimon entry.
The battles are solid and my favorite part of the game. The best way to describe a tactical rpg is that it’s an rpg on a chess board. It may seem simple for a current gen game, if you’ve seen screenshots, but the character sprites are so well made that it does make up for the 60 dollar price point. Now, I’m very dumb. These games prove it. You gotta understand your units and place them in places in order to predict and prepare for what the enemy will do. I like the addition of how you face your Digimon at the end of the turn. You either predict well and the opponent attacks facing head on, or leave yourself defenseless when the enemy attacks from the side or back. God I hope Zanny plays this game. So many master flank jokes.
But, the recruitment method of getting Digimon is really funny. You talk to them and answer their questions based on their personality. If their vibe check goes off, you get a chance to recruit them, removing them from the battle entirely, or you get guaranteed items. I like this mechanic. the dialogue is unpredictable and genuinely funny at times. It’s very much like Undertale. Unfortunately, I’ve learned that Digimon are very linear with their questions. So the charm dies when you just click the same right answers. But, overall, a very solid rpg. Nothing too spectacular.
Unfortunately, all of that was almost ruined for me by the beginning of the game. Jesus Christ that went on for too damn long. It pretty much confirmed my fears that I’m just not into visual novels. Yes, the story got engaging once they get to the Digimon. And yes, I normally like the humble beginning before all hell breaks loose. But the visual novel aspect made what would have been a 5-minute moment in the story into a 2-hour snore. I remember leaning in the back of my couch, going through all the text thinking, “when are we getting to the Digimon?” I normally try to not have that kind of mindset, but this was the exception. I can’t deny how I felt.
This becomes the game’s detriment to me, because the first thing you do in the game is some visual novel and then a tutorial Digimon fight. It was an amazing moment that really set the tone, but the road to it again was boring. I knew the rpg mechanics were coming. I knew the Digimon were coming. But it takes too long to get to the point.
And when it finally gets to the point, when you finally get your first Digimon and get into the second fight, it’s more tutorials and hand holding. I understand the developers didn’t want the first 10 minutes being a tutorial of everything. RPGs have to be explained because of all its rules. Also, gamers are dumb. But for all of that waiting and dialogue, just be presented with that, really disappointed me. On top of that, every tutorial fight leads into long stretches of story. And then another tutorial fight. As my first verdict of a visual novel, this is padding. Great story, but the only break from it being a tutorial really sucks.
Of course, this could just be a first time thing. Maybe it’s not as bad when replaying since I won’t waste time checking everything. But as a first time into a visual novel, not the greatest impression.
I still love this game, I really do. I love the characters and the story about survival in a new world that may or may not be the Digital World. I wanna discover the deal with the Digimon, and why they’re so connected to this area of Japan. But without all of that, and had this not been a Digimon game or a good story, I would have dropped it. This is basically my first and last visual novel game because, quite frankly, I find this shit boring. At least the decisions are interesting and will apparently direct what evolution Digimon will have. I think. I’d research on that but then I’d risk spoilers. If you love visual novels, you’re gonna have a good time. I mean it. I’m not an authority of visual novels, but I think this one is worth it. Unless you despise RPGs. All in all, Digimon Survive is a tactical rpg visual novel that does its job well, and I appreciate how much it knows what it is. But I can’t say it’s for everyone. Which is a shame because this franchise could use a lot of love. Have you seen the new Bandai Vital Hero? The North American release barely has any Digimon on it. And I’ve seen news of Digimon Survive copies having shitty performances. Let me know in the comments. again, I’d search, but I’m really afraid of spoilers. It’s like Bandai’s ashamed of the franchise or something.
Even with my issues, Digimon Survive is a great step forward in the franchise and I hope Bandai gets out of this phase of self-hate so that it can flourish more. But hey, at least they didn’t turn Agumon into a bike. Insert Pokemon sucks meme. Insert into Agumon as-
The legendary entry in the Pokemon franchise. The game that refined the idea of a 3rd complete version. The game that introduced the mother fucking Battle Frontier!
I never played it.
Now now, just give me a break. This game is around 200 bucks on ebay…and that’s not even getting into it being fake. Be real with yourself. It’s a fake. You spent your rent on a fake game.
Coming out in 2004 as the final and refined addition to the 3rd generation of Pokemon, Gamefreak took Ruby and Sapphire and smushed them to sell them again…I mean make you pay for overpriced DLC…I mean sell you definitive version. Or an advanced Sapphire. I’ll prove that hot take later. This is a game that, in my opinion, deserves retreading, especially if you haven’t played an older style Pokemon game before. If you’re an older fan and played it before, I don’t know what to tell you. It’s your money. Or your stolen product. I’ll never tell.
Generation 3 stands in a weird place for me as a Pokemon fan. It was my introduction to the franchise, through the anime and playing my brother’s copies, but I never truly played through the games. Generation 4 would be where I started playing the games, with my first being Diamond. Generation 3 was actually the only generation where I haven’t played through a single game for years. I may have played Omega Ruby, but they don’t count as they are Generation 6 games. I was also watching Morbius, so you know I have no free time or maidens. To play Emerald after so many years feels like everything is coming full circle. Like the end of a character arc, where the main character comes home only much stronger. You know, an ego stroke. With two hands. Maybe a third…oooooohhhh.
With all the games I’ve played, how does Emerald hold up? Was it good? Was it bad? Was it ehh? This isn’t gonna be a deep dive like, say, KingK’s video or even my own Saber post. More a chill look at the past.
But first, I want to get into the team I made for this playthrough.
When it came to teambuilding, I always went with the designs I liked the most over actual strategy, with the only rule being no redos. But for Emerald, I took a page out of KingK and experiment with actual strategic thought through research and Pokemon Showdown. However, what I didn’t expect was how much thought I did have to put into it and how much reward I got from it.
The main thing I had to consider was how types worked. Back in the day, if you didn’t know, Pokemon moves weren’t as complex as they are now. From generation 1 to 3, attack moves were either special or physical based on their type. For example, all normal, bug, and ghost moves were physical while all water, fire, and grass moves were special. This would be changed in Generation 4, where the physical special split occurred. Now any move of any type could be either or. I’m used to it since I played Red, Blue, and Yellow twice (don’t ask why), but I still have to remind myself when returning to these older games.
With the lack of the physical special split in this case, teambuilding wasn’t as easy. A lot of Pokemon back then sucked because of this, like Sneasal and Rapidash, so making a balanced team means researching their stats and deciding which is the most optimized for their type. In a way, it goes against the mantra of “using your favorite Pokémon.” Then again, breeding Pokémon for perfect ivs is just a naturally fucked up message that’s still a mechanic today so who cares. I actually liked the challenge of meticulously choosing what Pokémon I wanted to use for my team. I personally liked the challenge presented here because I could better connect with the team I put thought into. However, I understand the flaws of making some Pokémon inherently obsolete. It causes dissonance with the anime’s message of “use your favorite” and it makes it hard for people to use their favorite Pokemon if its stats don’t agree with its type.
Anyway, this was the team that I went with. My focus was a rain team in honor of the mechanics introduction here. Plus, I like water types over fire types.
Skipper The Swampert
Do you like Mudkip? Axelotctl are in style right now, and I’m a trend seeker. I had used Sceptile in Omega Ruby but I wasn’t very interested in Blaziken, so I chose Swampert because it was my second favorite designed starter evolution. I named him Skipper for two reasons. One, skipper is a common nickname of ship captains on the sea and, two, Generation 3 was a generation of games I skipped.
As a Quirky water and ground type, Skipper served as my bulky rain dance setter. With only grass as a 2x weakness, and a decent amount of bulk, Swampert tanked a lot of hits. Strangely more than my actually dedicated tanks. Crappy part is that he didn’t get Rain Dance until after the 7th gym so my rain team barely got to be a rain team. I gave him Protect to scout out opponents moves, though I didn’t really use it that much. I basically overestimated the difficulty of a Pokémon game. Despite his defenses, Skipper was also a powerhouse. With rain dance and a sea incense, Skipper dealt huge water damage with his great special attack. Which is why I chose Waterfall over Hydro Pump. With 130 physical attack, Skipper also dealt huge Ground damage with moves like Mud Shot and Earthquake. Although he didn’t have a lot of good type coverage and didn’t get a lot of chances to sing in the rain, Skipper was an amazing team member and one of my favorite starters in 13 years.
Esmerelda the Ludicolo
When it came to a rain dance team, a Pokemon with an ability that benefits from it is necessary. Abilities exist like Rain Dish, but I wanted Swift Swin to utilize its speed boost. Problem was who to choose, as many are pure water. The best one I found was Ludicolo, who’s Grass typing helped with type coverage and benefited from the reduced fire damage. She also gave some choice when it comes to building her, as she can either be a wall or a cannon. With Rain Dish and Swift Swim at her disposal, and based on the Kappa of Japanese culture, Ludicolo was a fantastic member for a rain team. I ended up focusing on making this Gentle soul a special attacking cannon while finding a nature best suited for its high special defense. Basically, a mix of both her options.
All of Esmerelda’s moves focused on high damage and type coverage. Ice beam for dragon and flying types, Giga drain for other water types with a little health recovery, and Surf for rock, fire, and ground types. Also surf because I needed to traverse the water routes. The final move was Toxic, so that I could deal chip damage in case Esmerald went down. Honestly, Toxic wasn’t that useful and there wasn’t a lot of times when I needed it. Swift Swim’s speed boost made up for her slow speed, so she would hit hard and fast. Esmeralda did have Fake Out at one point, but I ended up replacing it with Ice beam because my Dragon type sucks at defeating Dragon types. Although I didn’t have Rain Dance for a long while, Esmerelda was an irreplaceable member of the team.
On a side note, while Esmerelda was fantastic as a Ludicolo… fucking hell, good luck with raising one. You don’t get a water stone till you get access to surf, so you’re stuck with a Lombre until after the 5th gym. This wouldn’t have been so bad if Lombre had water attacks to use…but to my surprise, that’s asking for a lot. Lombre learns no water moves until lv 47, being Hydro Pump (which Ludicolo can’t learn for some reason), and the only grass move it gets is Absorb. So, it’s okay for the rock gym, useless for the fighting gym, useless for the electric gym, and useless for the fire gym. Great job Gamefreak, you made a water type useless against a fire type. I had a hard time with Esmerelda because of her lack of good moves besides Secret Power and Fake Out. I love her. I respect her. But never again.
Isekai the Slaking
Roses are red, better get some luck, because this sloth hits like a truck. And where you’re going ain’t filled with big titty women, but the glutes of Valkryie women which will only turn on half of you. I chose Slaking because I wanted a powerhouse and was inspired by Chuggaconroy to use him. Slaking is a very gimmicky Pokémon because, in its base and final form, it can only use moves every other turn due to its ability Truant. Vigoroth doesn’t suffer this, but don’t get used to it. And you don’t want to.
Isekai, despite this set back, was a Jolly nuke with raw power. A powerful physical attacker with a scary base attack of 160 and all the type coverage he needs to put other mons on the extinction list! Earthquake for the bulky types like Rock and Steel. Shadow Ball to join Godzilla in his crusade through hell. Brick Break for other normal types. Finally, Hyper Beam. A normal move that takes advantage of the Truant ability to commit war crimes. With this move, I actually used Slaking sparingly because I wanted to use him on the bulkiest Pokémon of the bosses. Isekai just one shot everything if given the chance. An absolutely broken mon when used right. How is he based of a Sloth?
Zaku the Dusclops
What’s a bulky girl without being named after cannon fodder? So, Dusclops was a very different Pokemon for me, and I want to do it again. I chose Dusclops because I’ve always to use one in a team, but also because of its balanced defenses. Originally, it was gonna be a Substitute tank that would use Will-o-Wisp to cripple physical attackers and use set damage moves like Night Shade to deal damage based on her level. For a while, that was the plan.
And then this happened.
Curse was an absolute unit of a move! Zaku went from being a substitute tank to a tank that’ll curse at you. To those who haven’t used it, Curse is a weird move as it was a ??? type back then. Any mon that uses it and isn’t a ghost type would get a boost in attack and defense but would lower speed. For ghost types, they…hurt themselves to afflict a status ailment? Okay.
You might think Curse on a non-ghost type is the better option, and I thought that for so many years. But Curse is a gimmick that’s a really good one. The reason I barely used Esemeralda’s Toxic was because of Curse. Sure, it doesn’t increase in chip damage, but it can hit every Pokemon type. Curse is also not healed by opponents using full restores, so the elite four and champion can’t remove it with their spamming bullshit. The other thing made Dusclops my favorite little Impish mon was the synergy I found with the team. When the opponent sent their strongest Pokémon, I had Zaku use Curse. Then I send in the others to either take the chip damage as an opportunity to take them down in one swoop to avoid them being healed or set up status moves to benefit the team or themselves. With Zaku’s curse, Champion Wallace didn’t get to use any of his full restores because all his Pokémon were either one shot by Slaking, had lost enough health for one of my other mons to faint them, or survived at the red but Curse finished them off. He almost did with Whishcash, but he wasted a move because he previously used Hyper Beam.
At the end of the playthrough, Zaku ended being my favorite mon in a long while. It’s the beauty of Pokemon. Just because a strategy looks stupid doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value. Watch Tempt on YouTube, who’s a master at this kind of strategy. What surprised me was that Dusclops is considered amazing because of the eviolite from Gen 5, so to love it before that was available is an incredible feeling. If I had a personal Pokemon hall of fame, she deserved to be in it the most.
Naydra the Altaria
A beautiful, majestic mon who ended up being my weak link. Admittedly, through every team revision and battle in Showdown, Altaria never fit the team well. Although Altaria should work as a mixed attacker, with the physical flying and special dragon type, it honestly works better as a physical sweeper since it has access to Dragon Dance. It’s made worse when many of the moves/TMs that would make it great, like Earthquake, were to be given to my other mons in the game. I tried a heal bell set, but I learned Altaria only learns Heal Bell through the side game Pokemon XD. After a while, it just became a hassle. You may say I should have gone for Salamence, but I already used one in Omega Ruby and I try to use different mons every playthrough. Flygon might have worked, but I feel as though that mon fits with a Sand Team better. At the end of the day, Altaria was a hard fit.
In game, Altaria didn’t fare any better. Aerial Ace and Dragon Breath work as good attacks, but Dragon Dance only benefitted one. It’s hard to describe, but it didn’t feel fluid in every battle. The other team members had this fluidity with their moves, where no move compromised the other in any way. It was like being in a zone. Altaria’s move set was It makes me not want to use Dragon Breath since it doesn’t utilize the boosted attack. But so many moments call for it rather than Aerial Ace. The final move was Sing, which ended up being a double edge sword. Although sleep is a useful status effect in general, the move’s low accuracy meant Naydra was left off-guard a lot. Sleep is also random as the Pokemon could wake up at the very next turn, so it felt very useless compared to Curse or Paralysis. Worst of all, Naydra doesn’t have great defenses, so being off-guard with a powerful boss mon that I really wanted to sleep could potentially become an unnecessary sacrifice.
I really should have switched up movesets and not have forced this, but with TMs not reusable it was hard to experiment with something new. That’s a small issue I have with the game; TMs are breakable. It’s why Pokemon Showdown was rewarding, since I knew what TMs I was going to use before starting up the game. But when something didn’t work, I hesistated because using any TM meant it was gone forever and many were either hard to get multiples of or no multiples existed in the game. I thought that having limited TMs would have made the game harder, but it ended up making it more frustrating. All in all, a mixed attacker just didn’t work at the end, and Naydra’s use during the elite four was minimal. Cannon Fodder in some moments. It’s sad to say, but this majestic but Lonely chicken dragon ended up being an outlier to the team’s synergy. Every occasion just wasn’t an opportunity to switch into Naydra because every other mon was a better switch in. That’s the worst thing to happen with a team member.
Amateratsu the Manectric
Yes, I named the electric type of my rain team after a Sun god. Amateratsu was something different for me, as it was the first time I ever bred for a permanent party member. Manectric is a good mon, but its main drawback is poor type coverage. They have not improved this…(checks Serebii) oh, okay it’s improved a little better. As a shitty competitive veteran, I would classify Manetric as a “hidden power cripple,” as its type coverage is so bad that it needs Hidden Power to make up for it. Some mons could have Hidden Power, like I’ve seen on some Celebi sets from this generation, but Manetric NEEDS it. Unfortunately, Hidden Power requires precise breeding as Hidden Power is tied to IVs. I can go on about how ridiculously tedious and dumb this mechanic is, but we’d be here for longer than necessary.
So, what did I breed for? Well, although Manetric learns bite, it can’t learn Crunch naturally. Yes, this dog needed to be bred to know how to bite down harder…ladies?
So, I caught and raised a Poocheyena to level 40 so that it could learn Crunch, then have it do the giggity giggity with a caught Eletrike. Now, by raise, I mean I dropped it at the daycare…like a…responsible parent who can’t raise their child? Yeah, let’s go with that. It may seem tedious to do all of this for one move, but it really made the difference. It felt like a necessary move for a mon with such low type coverage.
Besides Crunch, I gave Amateratsu Thunder so it had a benefit from rain turning it into a 100% accurate move. Funnily enough, despite not always using rain dance, Thunder’s hit rate was surprisingly consistent for a 70% accurate move. Not a focus miss at all. The next move was Thunder Wave for 100% paralysis. Fun fact, back before Generation 4, Thunder Wave could hit electric types no problem so they weren’t immune to paralysis. Combined with Static, as Lightening Rod wasn’t as effective in gen 3, Amateratsu paralyzed a lot of opponents frequently. Finally, because I wasn’t bothering with Hidden Power, I gave it Quick Attack as a priority move in case the opponent lived and was faster. Not the most used, but it fit its situational role well when given the chance. Amateratsu was a decent but viable member of the team, making use of what she had despite the setbacks.
Overall, I really liked this team. Balanced with the benefit of rain, checking for each encounter I could come against, they definitely one of my favorites due to how much work I put into it. A lot more than teams in the past. Maybe I could have used the mons I wanted the most, like Flygon or Aggron. But these mons pulled their own and delivered some of my favorite moments in Pokémon.
The Story: You’re Parents During Divorce
The A story of Emerald is about as simple as you can get. Not bad, but there is some mud in the waters. You play as <INSERT NAME> moving from <INSERT REGION> to the lush environment of Hoenn due to your father, Norman Dafoe, becoming a local gym leader. You meet your neighbor, May beline or Brendan Mahire, and you watch the local professor get harassed by a walking prostate exam. Look at Zigzagoon. So, to save his ass, you gotta pick from 3 starter Pokémon. Treeko Opeko, the green one known for confusing Ash on its type, Mudkip Pie, the blue one that will point a gun at you while asking if you love him (so a typical Gen-Z kid), and White Torchic, the red one that’ll visit Buffalo Wild Wings soon. With your buddy by your side, you travel around the Hoenn region catching, battling, and winning your way to the top. Emphasis on winning.
I thought this A story was the height of the game. Traveling around the really beautiful sprite work of the Hoenn region was an amazing experience. Although not every trainer fight was difficult or fun, I still had a few surprises. The bosses were where it’s at. Flannery’s Torkoal surprisingly took me off guard. Before, I thought nothing of Torkoal. It was just one of “those Pokémon;” the kind you don’t find too interesting so anyone who asks you about it you usually respond with “oh yeah, that was a Pokemon.” How naïve I was. Anyone who’s a Torkoal fan, I have respect for your favorite mon. I must also ask if your into women like Revy from Black Lagoon or Lady Dimitri from Resident Evil 8?
The issue I had with A story was the characters. This was early Pokémon, so I didn’t know what to expect. A lot of the characters are, what I’ll term, a “consistent dopamine rush.” Barely any of the major challenges you on a character level. You’re barely faced by someone who questions you, who challenges you, or anyone grounded enough to ask if you’re ready. Everyone just believes you’re a great trainer who’ll beat the champion. Steven, your rival, the gym leaders, the professor, and even the damn champion himself. It’s overly nice. The only people who even bring you downs are some random trainers, but they’re so far between. You’re basically the second coming of Christ. Everyone complains about the new game’s rivals being bottom beds. This whole game is a bottom bed.
May, I will say, is a bit arguable because she’s kind of a passive aggressive asshole. Blue was at least open about it, and even proved he was better. And Silver was just a poorly written jerk, but at least he was open about it. May won’t say it, but she knows she’s better. This girl, despite getting her ass handed to her, had the gall to say you’re doing all of this preparation and battling because you’re afraid of her. She even ended the conversation by challenging your dad, as if you ain’t on her level. This bitch even beat the entire elite four just to give me advice on how to beat the Champion. Gotta say, we need more rivals like this. Passive aggressive dicks who act like they care but really think they’re superior.
Even then, that’s my interpretation of the rival. People could also take them as a caring person who wants the best for them. In that perspective, they’re a friendly rival in a game that’s overall friendly. Besides the evil team, this story was very anti-conflict and got really boring.
B story is the one involving gods, realized legends, political arrest, and the awakening of Jesus Christ the Dragon. The evil team, this time, came in a bundle of two as Ruby and Sapphire really wanted to expand on the idea of two versions. Team Magma and Team Aqua, who try to summon the Legendary Pokémon of their choosing, Groudon and Kyorge, to expand the land and rise the seas. All of this for the benefit of Humans and Pokémon, making them more as antagonists with well intentions. Man, imagine being a fan since Gen 1 or Gen 2 around the beginning of Gen 3. Going from evil teams who caught and stole Pokémon for profit to “evil” teams trying to summon deities in order to progress climate change for our benefit. Everything ends when you, the independent, finding the the 3rd Titan, Rayquaza, in order to quell both beasts when they go on a rampage.
Team Magma and Team Aqua were perfect antagonists for this story…in concept. Hoenn took the harmony of Pokémon and People to its fullest, creating an ecological masterpiece that we, today, are still trying to achieve. People protecting the land for Pokémon’s benefit, which in turn protect us. Both teams wanted to protect and expand this world, with no intention of disrupting it. But they do. Magma’s extreme view that land is most required and Aqua’s view that the sea is most required ended up disrupting the balance established. They wanted to destroy in order to create. But both the land and sea are needed, but they were so blind to their ideology that they unintentionally caused ultimate destruction where no creation is left. Their self-righteousness’ will end up destroying both Pokémon and People. A hard lesson that we, unfortunately, haven’t learned.
Unfortunately, both teams were not treated equally in the story. The reason I called Emerald an updated Sapphire is because Team Aqua was made into a more threatening antagonist for eco-terrorists, story wise. Despite their inclusion, Team Magama felt like a secondary antagonist due to how many more times you stop Magma’s boss over Aqua’s. Maxie and his team are made an absolute joke. Despite being the big boss of eco-terrorists, Maxie’s beaten 3 times over the course of the game. I get level scaling, so you’re not curb stomped, but it made no sense for a Pokémon team boss to have a level 25 Camurupt? Like why stoop to a twelve-year old’s level; you’re trying to blow up a fucking volcano. His plans are stopped twice before Aqua.
The part that made me think Magma was more of an afterthought is what happens when they failed at controlling Groudon. After the beast escapes them, you’d think they would go and find it. But, instead, they decided to go to a random space center to steal some rocket fuel so they can use it to erupt the volcano. You know, cause the best way to expand the land for people and Pokémon’s benefit is to erupt a volcano that’ll kill the surrounding people and Pokémon. Great consistency. I mean, how the hell do you lose a Pokémon the size of Godzilla!? And then, when Maxie’s plan failed again, he was all like, “oh maybe I’m wrong. Okay I’m good.” As someone who’s played Omega Ruby, they really dumbified Team Magma in this game.
But all that SHIT can go because Team Aqua is the bomb. They got the good end of the stick. Not only does Team Aqua succeed more, stealing a completed submarine even if the subplot for that was a bit stupid, but also Archie is only fought right before he summons Kyorge. Basically, at the end. Archie, to me, was the true antagonist of the game. Unlike Maxie, who’s immediately hostile to you, Archie questions whose side are you on with a gentler tone. Now, this is my interpretation, but I think the player unintentionally help Archie by taking down Team Magma, which allowed him to succeed with his plan. Archie’s placement as the “final” boss of this story had greater build up, which made his fight all the more satisfying, even if his Pokémon team sucked. Seriously, although my own post is invalidated due to my flawed interpretation of the character, you can’t deny his team is terrible. It’s only 3 Pokémon and there’s no strategy to it. Great antagonist, terrible fight.
Unfortunately, the story took a nosedive right when the beasts get released. After summoning Kyorge, Archie became distressed because, and I’m not kidding, it was raining too much.
It’s raining too much…it’s raining too much…
Oh yeah, sure. Let’s ignore the fact that the sky is both stormy and blazing hot at the same time. Glad we’re seeing it your way! I understand the message that they’re meant to realize they’ve taken things too far, but hinging that on too much rain makes Archie look dumb. Witnessing it first hand, it felt like the dumbest choice they could have gone for.
The actual change to the overworld was at least pretty sweet. Seeing the environment change between too much rain and too much sun back-to-back really sold the crisis of the situation. One of the coolest things about early legendaries was that you weren’t given everything about the legends. Were just creating the land and sea the only power Groudon and Kyorge held, or was there more? Were they nothing but doomsday Pokémon that had to be quelled by Rayquaza? Maybe the legends were true? That sense of mystery really sold the threat Groudon and Kyorge present. No one knows if the legends really are accurate so, as the first Pokémon in the series like this, to see it before their very eyes brings a level of dread that we don’t see often in Pokémon anymore.
Now, one issue that’s just inherit to the Pokémon franchise is why aren’t any of the Gym Leaders, police, or Elite four stopping the teams from summoning ancient deities? It’s really stupid, especially here. The Space Facility was specifically sent a warning by Team Magma that they were coming. Yet there were no police, no guards or even the town’s gym leaders come in to protect them. Most of the time I just suspend my disbelief because this is just a Pokémon thing, but this game’s finale really shines how poorly written it gets. Everyone is apparently on holiday because the player, a 10-year-old who just became a trainer (depending on when you started), are the ONLY one on standby to help Steven and the champion. Not the other gym leaders or the elite four. Not the gym leader who’s at the LITERAL epicenter of the titan fight. I get the reason why, to make the player the main protagonist of the story, but the set up just came across as the bare minimum. With my compliant of the player being a Jesus figure, it doesn’t help.
Getting to Rayquaza was an amazing feeling. Discovering where it lived instead of the game forcing you to on the path felt like a good compromise to what comes later in the series. A lot of the modern games just tell where the box legendary is or just give it for the story, while Gen 1 and 2 were vague about their whereabouts since those legends had nothing to do with the story. Emerald combines both well, where they push the player to the legendary while giving the player freedom to find the location themselves. Plus, his crib is this ruined tower with no explanation. My one nitpick was how you meet Rayquaza. As in, there’s not fight with the beast. I think it would have helped the tension if Rayquaza could have been fought ala Kyurem in Black and White 2. Just seeing it fly away was cool, but not very epic. It would have been a funny series gag where Rayquaza, despite a literal disaster around it requiring it stop the disaster, fights anyone who disturb it.
Finally, the scene. THE first cutscene in the series. Where Rayquaza flew down from the heavens, diving in between Kyorge and Groudon, and roared… EPICALLY. As someone’s who’s watched it on YouTube and spoiling myself, actually getting to the scene on my own was still worth it. Unfortunately, it ended up turning the finale into an anti-climactic disappointment for me. The cheery music afterwards didn’t help. Seeing Rayquaza descend was incredible, but for all that buildup just to end with a single roar was downright insulting. It’s why I wish Rayquaza could be fought before. Would have it padded out the pacing a little? Maybe. But anything to not have this void that was created. Afterwards, everyone just goes back to normal as if that was a regular Tuesday. Even Maxie and Archie escaped un-arrested, so the two dick heads who caused all this got away scott free with a lesson learned. Hurrrrraaaaayyyy. It fell flat and left me unsatisfied. Overall, the B story had its moments, but it was a lot of ideas that get half-assed with an execution that’s just pitiful.
The theme of Generation 3 was environmentalism and nature, with more cities attuned to nature than large technological areas. I guess Wattson in the remakes didn’t get the memo. Anything resembling high tech, like Lilycove and Mossdeep, is small compared to how much nature surrounds it. Such places that fit this theme are Fortree City, where every home is a treehouse, Lavaridge Town, which situates itself near the major volcano, and Pacifilog Town, which is primarily log houses floating on top of a Corsola reef. With legendaries represented by the 3 main elements of the Earth, Hoenn is a natural paradise in the Pokémon World only rivaled by Alola.
Everyone in the region wants to protect nature and the Pokémon. Respect is the big word here…like my pee-I’m very lonely. An example includes the Rock Tunnel, where they stopped drilling due to the Pokémon not being able to handle the noise. Not everything is perfect, as it seems the “air” is polluted. Most of this is from Wally’s character arc, who’s illness is suspected to be due to the “air,” which is why they send him to the cleaner Verdant Town.
While a good message, I found it to be as half-baked like the B-Story. The game never gave an answer to who’s causing this polluted air that caused Wally to have anthrax. I can’t say Team Magma or Team Aqua are causing the problem. They may have unleashed Ragnarök, but they never littered. The only thing I can think of is Magma’s involvement with the volcano, especially when they drill into it to find Groudon. Yet, there was no explicit mention of that causing any air pollution. It was never implied that any of the major corporations are causing any trouble. The president from Devon Corp. was so nice and kind that it didn’t seem like he’d do anything…okay bad example. The point is, despite there being some kind of environmentalist issue, there was no real logical origin in-universe, and it had no real baring to the plot. It felt like a thrown-in theme with no real thought put into its inclusion.
With the story out of the way, the battles were a mix of hard and very simple. One of my biggest complaints with modern games is how easy it is, and I think that has to do with a combination of the team set up of bosses and the inclusion of gimmicks like dynamax or z-moves. There’s no real strategy to them. Totally call me out if you disagree, but modern gym leaders come across as if they don’t have checks for the type matching these games are known for. Plus, the game goes out of the way to give you enough garbage like the Rotomdex lottery or EXP candies to take away any challenge. Of course, there are some exceptions like Raiden from Sword and Shield and, also, I am not the target audience anymore. But Gyms suffer from the type matchups, with barely ever using stat buffs or ailments, and the game hands you so much that they become laughable. I think there’s a linear easiness to them, which comes across as no thought was put into making a boss that scales with you as you get stronger. It feels backwards.
Emerald, on the other hand, had various bosses that were either easy or hard depending on the teams you use. Winnona is generally regarded as the hardest due to her Altaria knowing Dragon Dance, yet I didn’t find her that difficult even without an ice type. I pretty much used paralysis as my wing man. But, as I said before, Flannery ended up being the most nerve wracking due to her Torkoal, but I also struggled with Tate and Liza’s stat buffing moves. While it wasn’t the scaling I prefer, with each boss getting progressively harder, I don’t mind the challenge being based on your team choice. There’s enough difficulty to make every playthrough different. It creates stories. I may tell you I had no difficulty with Winnona, but you may tell a different tale. Every type-based gym battle, every boss, and even every forced Pokémon fight should have this level of thought. Even some trainer battles have some thought put into them, making them some of my favorite because they broke the slog. I would rather have a difficulty system that creates stories rather than being hard for no reason or easy for inexcusable reasons. If you feel like the modern games are too easy, give Emerald a shot.
The Overworld was absolutely my favorite part of the game. Especially when it’s not a hallway. I’m not apologizing for my Sword and Shield hate. I know I should be past this, but my god is it awful. The vibrant sprite work here is amazing. Gamefreak really knew how to do pixel art back in the day, making something that looks primitive pop enough to have felt like a real world. The colors come at you, creating fascinating areas like Route 113, which is covered in soot, or Meteor Cave, which has a subtle purple to it that really focuses on the astral vibe of the area. This may be more subjective, but I love the look more than Omega Ruby. The look of the 3ds games feel desaturated, making the region boring than it actually is. Emerald’s sprite work makes traveling so much more eye appealing.
Unfortunately, while the best areas are on land, the water routes sucked. Water routes have sucked in every generation from 1-4. It all looked the same. It’s all blue. It’s all rocks. There’s barely any variety in it. They took the fun of exploration and turned it into a tedious ass maze. Some are pretty simple, like the Gen 1 and 2 routes from and to Cinnabar where it’s just down or up. And then there’s Emerald. Imagine me, a fat little baby, who liked trying to discover everything a route has to offer. I loved finding stuff in Pokémon because it’s rewarding. So, imagine that in an area where everything was identical and there are several branching paths. It’s not even fun since all the trainers and Pokémon are typically water types, unless it’s on a small island. The only change was diving into the underwater routes, which was and is still a cool gimmick. But it doesn’t remove the fact that Hoenn’s sea routes are way too long and way too confusing.
Minigames (Pre-Post Game)
Oh my god, actual meaningful content in a Pokémon game! And a majority sucked! Let’s just get them over with. I’m only talking about the main story side content. I’ll get into the Battle Frontier in a part two post.
The first is the Game Corner, because nothing screams children’s game than slots and pool. Does it ever occur to Japan that kids are not adults? Anyway, Game Corners were prevalent back in the older generations until parents around Gen 5 were like, “huh, this kids game has gambling.” So, they’re now a dead breed since the Pokémon Company wants to make sure the Europeans allow their children to play a cock fighting simulator. There are so many ways around this so they can bring it back, such as minigames based on certain Pokémon in a similar vein the Pikachu Surfing minigame back in Yellow version.
Now, I’m not saying bring back the gambling because the gambling was BS. Why? Cause it was gambling. That’s it. There is no thought into it because gambling is all luck based. Slots was just mashing A so you can get points, and roulette was…roulette. Place a bet now and probably win something in 2 hours! These weren’t fun. And it’s not like real gambling where the sucker wins money, so it’s not as addictive. Also, the rewards suck, like getting the TMS Ice beam and…. flamethrower, never mind. Even with those prizes, imagine a player wanting to build a team for competitive but the most valuable TMS are behind an unwinnable mess. This is one of those aspects of Pokémon that haven’t aged well. But, again, make it an arcade with games not based on luck and having the Game Corner back might be possible.
One of Hoenn’s most famous mechanic. Wanna play with your friend, but you really don’t have the energy to actually be together? Just send them your records and they’ll see your secret base in their world. Be happy knowing your AI version talks to your friend more than you do.
Because I played on emulator, and it’s been 19 years since Gen 3 came out, I can’t say anything about other people’s secret bases. The most you got out of it is battles, but that’s unlocked after beating the E4. What you can do in the game is make them. In every route, special looking textures are scattered, whether it be a small square in the wall or a special tree. Using Secret Power opens it and makes it the player’s secret base, with decorations like plushies, tables, and chairs to make it personal. Annnnnddd that’s it. It’s like Minecraft, where people make these elaborate creations on single player survival mode. At least ORAS and the Gen 4 remakes allow new fans to experience and share bases, preventing it from being a product of its time.
The other most recognized feature from Ruby and Sapphire, and it sucked. There are those who do like this feature and want it to come back somehow besides just remakes. I respect their opinion, but I’ve always cared very little for contests because it always came across that the game doesn’t care about it. The idea is definitely creative. A mode with no fighting. It’s an appreciation of the beauty of Pokémon and seeing how beautiful a move can be made. So, a glorified dog contest.
My issue with the mode is that none of what makes it good as a concept is in the game. The actual mode was really boring. For the most part, it was just battles except there is no opponent. Unlike regular battle, moves are categorized by how they “look” to the audience rather than elemental types. There’s Cool, Tough, Smart, Cute, and Beautiful. Every Pokémon can be fed blocks to be optimal for these categories, primed and fattened to be the best in the contests specific in one category.
All of that amounts to nothing more than a boring version of battles. You and 3 others performers perform moves in front of a judge to get style points. I understand that this was a Gameboy advanced game and would never be like how the anime portrayed Contests. But these battles lost the magic that Pokémon battles brought. To see these moves brought to life through the burning of the enemy. When these moves are hitting nothing, it loses that. It’s like a punchline but no one’s laughing. Winning also had no investing. Each contestant has an order in which they go, and that changed every time everyone goes. I could go first one turn but then 3rd the next. Moves gain a set number of affection. The more a move gained affection, the more points earned in order to win. When using a move in the category of the contest, like a cool move in a cool contest, then additional affection is earned. When every contestant uses enough moves of that category, one of them lucky enough will excite the audience enough to get a bombardment of affection. There was a randomness to it that can be fun since it was anyone’s game, but the luck factor of it made it a chore to win.
The biggest problem with Contests was there’s no investment in the mode entirely. It sounds like an alternative path to Gyms. No fighting. No gym badges. A “pacifist” route in a sense. But it could never work as replacement with the story formula of Pokémon. Contests sound like an interesting route, but it would have none of the excitement as the regular route. What sounds more fun? A route where you do no fighting, where you go to each town performing to get attraction points? Or the route where you fight everyone, beat gym leaders, and fight an evil team trying to summon an ancient deity. For the target audience, they would choose the gym route because it’s the exciting sounding one. Even then, with the way Contests are, getting through the game where the main mechanic relies on luck sounds like a chore. Some may say to have the legendary Pokémon in the contest route, but how? You won’t fight it and you really have no reason to get a powerful fighter in a game mode about beauty. Maybe today, it could have worked if they adapted the game around it. Look at Undertale, a beloved game with a Pacifist and Genocide route. But, looking at the various Pokémon generations, nothing about contests has any merit over the gym route.
Even in the game, the mode was treated like an afterthought. Instead of being spread throughout like it was in Ruby and Sapphire, it was in one area with no benefit of learning the mechanics. There’s no other place that used blocks or “cool type” moves and the story never even directed me to it. Worst of all, there was no reward for it. Nothing from contests benefit the real journey except for evolving Feebas, which needs a max Beauty Stat. At the end of the day, Contests were an amazing idea unfortunately in the wrong games. It was too big an idea for the Pokémon formula, but it couldn’t be shrunk down enough to be accommodated into it. It needed to be its own thing, its own spin, instead of a side mode where it’s completely out of place. The fact that it hasn’t returned until a Gen 4 remake, which it already was in Gen 4, is a sign that this mode was never a perfect fit.
The final minigame of the main story, replacing the Contest Halls, is the Battle Tents. Each tent held a special format, with 5 battles in a row with your Pokémon reduced to level 30. What I adored about the Battle Tents was that they actually teach and build the player up to a future mechanic in a very linear but satisfying way. In this case, the Battle Tents were meant to be an introduction to the Battle Frontier, getting the player accustomed to their rules while not revealing about the location. I love this. The fact that it’s building up to the most remembered feature in the game was incredible. Plus, it was better at foreshadowing the Frontier than Scott, an NPC who just appears out of nowhere with the huge sign saying, “Hey, there’s a Battle Frontier but I’ll be vague for absolutely no reason. Okay bye, love you.” It’s not as intrusive as the Contest Halls. The Battle Tents fit well into the game while offering something different than the battles we’re used to.
To go in-depth into the Battle Tents would get into the Battle Frontier, which would make my post game retrospective redundant. What I will mention is that some modes were better than others. Some were a fun spin of the battle mechanics, and others left me screaming at a jumble of code to use Mud Shot…for fuck sake Skipper, hit the damn Wailmer with anything other than Water Gun. Jesus Christ, are you blind!? We’re gonna lose because you think spamming water gun and protect is an effective method, you stupid FU-
If you have trompetaphobia, get your corner ready because Gamefreak was not about diversity back then. If it’s not trumpets, it’s not Gen 3. The music in Emerald isn’t my favorite per say. It’s hard to describe, but not a lot of the tracks really vibe to me. It’s more of a feeling than a logical reasoning. Despite that, the music is still really good. The trumpets gave routes this larger than life adventure feel, while giving caves this mystical ancient feel. The battle music is also incredible, with the best being the Team Boss themes and the Elite 4. There isn’t much for me to say, other than the soundtrack is good.
Overall, the game had its ups and down. It’s aged well as a game in terms of presentation and the battle mechanics, but the story and various minigames were pretty bad. Anyone coming in will basically go into the barest bones of a Pokémon game, but there is still some substance to it that doesn’t turn into Sword and Shield.
And now, for an old man talking about Nostalgia
This is gonna be a huge subjective rant about the feeling of playing Emerald after so many years. Generation 3, and Generation 1-4 as a whole, is a simple but magical experience. I think Gamefreak really knew how to use simplicity back in the day. Despite the flawed story, this game brought back the joy I felt watching the anime, collecting the cards, and discussing it on the playground. And, yes, I had a huge crush on May back then. Who didn’t? Hoenn’s vibe, in a few words, is exotic. Kanto felt modern, a lot like Earthbound, while Johto had a traditional Japanese mood. Hoenn felt like a summer vacation at the Bahamas, which makes for a cozy summer vacation game.
Being able to explore the region in Emerald helped me traverse a well-known region with fresh eyes. There are some things in here that were new to me, like Team Magma’s base being in the volcano or Scott being a stalker. I knew Emerald would be a different ride, but to have actually played it showed a different side to the region that started it all for me.
Looking back, Hoenn, Johto, Kanto, and Sinnoh all felt like a connected vision. Despite being vastly different versions of Japan, they have a unified look which, yes, is what Japan is. But also, because it’s due to the formula they created. The remakes of the first two gens within 3 and 4 help with this feeling, and the anime back then built upon each other with characters and Ash’s Pokémon frequently coming back. As much as Generation 5 is my favorite, it’s vision to reboot the franchise ultimately made the future generations less unified within each other. Sometimes I think it was for the better as it helped differentiate Alola or Galar, but I can’t help but reminisce the old simplicity of the older generations. In an ironic twist, the unified vision made gen 1-4 all the more special.
At the end of the day, I enjoyed my time with Emerald. It was a fun kids game with strong gameplay but a terrible plot. But it still brought back that spark I’ve had for the franchise since I first popped in Diamond and forgot to delete the previous person’s save file before putting 30 minutes of my life into it. If you started out with generation 7 or 8, I definitely recommend playing it. It won’t make you feel like an old man like me, but it’ll give you a textured look into how the past was. You may also miss what the current generation spoiled you with. Back in my day, we had to train our Pokémon individually with the Victory Road like a bunch of starving drug addicts. Just one more level today, I said, I’ll be done with the session. Trust me, you will appreciate your end of the stories from Generation 7 a lot more after seeing their first attempt. And, if you’re a veteran that’s either jaded or peachy, I still say give this game another chance. With Scarlet Violet seemingly pushing the franchise away from the dead cigarette and into a brighter future, it’d be a good idea to relive where the franchise used to be.
Anyway, that’ll do it with this look back on my childhood. Tune in next time in about a month. See ya!
I took a more casual approach to gaming this spring and see what I wanted to review rather than pressure myself into one. Which is why I got into playing Pokémon Emerald alongside Mother 3. One for casual play, and the other to cry like a little baby. I plan to have a personal retrospective on Emerald when I finish, but, until then, I decided to share my pain when I decided to fix Maxie and Archie’s team.
For those of you who are boomers, the 3rd generation had two evil teams instead of one, split into both versions. Team Magma, run by Maxie, were the land raising team of Ruby (or Omega Ruby) trying to revive Groudon. Archie, on the other hand, ran the sea-faring Team Aqua of Sapphire (or Alpha Sapphire) trying to revive Kyorge. Emerald brought the two teams together in the same game, both now the antagonist now fighting each other as they both revive the legendary Pokémon.
For those who do know, you might be asking, why did I bother fixing their teams? Pokemon is meant to be an easy game and they’re just a part of it. What’s wrong with both of them having a Mightyena and Crobat while Maxie has a Camerupt while Archie has Sharpedo? Yes, them having that kind of team fits with the casual play of Pokémon.
What Gamefreak got wrong with Maxie and Archie’s teams, extending to their grunts, is how much their Pokémon choice represent nothing relating to them or their plans. When I think of Magma and Aqua, I think of teams who use Ground, Fire, and Water types. The problem is, although the grunts use mons like Carvahna and Numel, many of them use Poocheyenas and Zubats, which becomes very tedious quick as you make your way through Emerald. I don’t understand why Gamefreak relied on those two. Although Hoenn is in short supply of original fire types, with only 3 lines including the start, but there are still 6 lined with the Slugma and Vulpix line. Ground types have a solid amount, with such new lines as Trapinch and Baltoy with a return of many such as Geodude and Sandrew. In fact, keeping with the theme, Maxie and Team Magma could even use Rock types like Solrock, although I didn’t give Maxie any rock Pokémon, and Grass types such as Seedot and Oddish.
This sin is more headache inducing with Team Aqua, who operate in a region criticized by IGN for having too much water yet barely use any of the water types in that water. Hell, in Emerald, there are so many water types that the game, if you count Archie, has 3 water type bosses. Yet a pirate themed team only uses one Carvahna with one dude using a Wailmer. What the hell are they gonna do with their Poocheyena’s when they flood the world? No wonder Psyduck gets headaches in this universe. Gamefreak ended up turning both teams into discount Team Rocket, which is a disappointment. We could have had something unique with the teams, at least with Magma. I’m gonna have to move to a 3rd world country when I say that IGN was right in a sense.
But I got a bit off track. There is a huge missed opportunity that lays hidden between Maxie and Archie. Gen 3 introduced weather effects such as sun and rain, which Gamefreak would use the box legends to embody this new mechanic. Yet, only two bosses in the Elite Four utilize weather. Pretty good that Gamefreak actually decided to utilize on of their team strats through a trainer. But the Team bosses, who you’d think would showcase this mechanic based on their goals to revive the weather legends, never utilize this mechanic. Although Pokémon is a casual experience, I would expect the bosses of the teams to be some kind of challenge instead of “durr Crobat. durr I lost!” The problem with their team is that it ends up making them forgettable among the various Team bosses. It sucks because there was a simple solution. But nah, Gamefreak. Instead of doing something in ORAS, just give them a Weezing and a Muk. And don’t worry about giving Muk to the sea dude. Sure do love the mental image of Archie achieving his goals and Muk giving him the finger as he melts into the sea.
Because this sh!t bothered me so much, I straight up sacrificed a night of studying to go on Showdown and make a better team for the two. One that represents them as characters, represents their goals, and represents the weather brought into this Generation. I took this as a damn challenge. Now, although I say that I “fixed” their teams, this is my opinion. If you have any problem with the choices that I went, or have your own changes, let me know in the comments. I am but a Hispanic college student who just found out the hood is just slang for neighborhood. I am the farthest thing from being an authority.
The Ground Rules
Now to the meat of things. When it came to changing their teams, I placed a few rules onto myself that range vastly. This includes the games I used as the basis since both of them appear in gen 3 and gen 6, the changes based on both of them together, finally the changes based on both of them individually.
For the game related rules, I used the gen 3 mechanics as the basis for how I structured their teams. This means that I could only use Pokémon found within Hoenn during the 3rd generation, no other Pokémon past that, and I had to consider the lack of the physical-special split. Now, while there were some decisions made based on the remakes, I primarily stuck with gen 3 because I’m playing Emerald. Emerald is, to me, the definitive version of the story, even if ORAS are better mechanically, so I wanted to use the 3rd version as the foundation for the team.
For both of them together, the first decision was keeping their signature Pokémon. Although Camerupt and Sharpedo (especially Sharpedo) are terrible in gen 3 due to the lack of the physical-special split, and I really wanted to get rid of them, I wanted to respect the decision Gamefreak made when making them the signature. The second was only allowing them to use 5 Pokémon, as this is the team you would fight before the last gym. Also, they ain’t the champion. The third was structuring their teams around weather, and I’m sure you know which weather strategy is going to whom. This is to better reflect their goals of reviving Groudon and Kyorge and make them stand out amongst the other bosses in the game.
The fourth will be expanded upon in the section about them individually, but I wanted their character to be the defining choices of their Pokémon choice. Pokémon teams have the power to tell a story without words, as a person’s choice of mons and moves can say more about their character than simple dialogue. Finally, although Emerald is the basis for their team, I decided to use ORAS for their character. Maxie and Archie barely differentiate from each other in Emerald due to the fact that, in Ruby and Sapphire, they were characterized to be interchangeable. ORAS expanded upon their characters, making one a champion for humans and the other a champion of Pokémon. This was not in the original Emerald. However, I feel it best to use the improvements ORAS brought to them to better fix their teams.
With that, let’s get into both leaders individually.
Maxie: Leader of Team Magma
For Maxie, based on his goals, I decided to go for a stall team consisting of only land Pokémon. Basically, no water types. As a man who wants to expand the land to further expand human civilization, and who is seemingly a scientist, I saw Maxie as the cold and calculated type who would see Pokémon as nothing more than tools. This is also why I made his team a lot more competitively viable, where the EVs are at their most perfect for each Mon. I thought perfect IVs would be too much for his boss fight. This culminates in a team with the best stall strategies, where they wear you down slowly while barely taking any hits. Maxie’s team is a team given to him.
His signature Pokémon that, admittedly, was difficult to fit well with the team structure that I went with. It does have a decent amount of bulk, mostly in hp, with an attack and special attack to hit back hard. As a fire/ground type, however, it dies the moment water even grazes its feet. Not only that, but its own secondary typing kicks its ass. Since I had to keep Maxie’s signature, I decided the best thing to do was a HP special defense tank combining with a resto-chesto set. Just to note, I highly doubt only the player character uses TMs, so I have no qualm using them for Maxie’s Pokémon. Resto-Chesto, for those who don’t know, is a combination of the move Rest, which induces the sleep status, with the sleep healing Chesto Berry. That way, if in a pickle, Camerupt can heal and wake up with no problem. However, in the likelihood of being in another pickle jar again, I gave it Sleep Talk, which allows the Pokemon to use any random move while asleep. Although risky, this allows Camerupt to fight back with either Earthquake, a stab 100 base move, or the deadly Eruption, which its power does decrease based on the Pokémon’s Hp. It ain’t much, but I think it’s something to make it a threat.
Maxie’s sunny day setter and one of his all-around tanks. With use of Cosmic Power, this thing will set up and take hits all while dealing damage with Earthquake and Solar Beam, the latter using the Sun against those pesky water types. Alternatively, there is also Explosion but, by the time you fight Maxie, his Claydol shouldn’t have it since it learns the move at lv 55. Yes, you do fight a level 25 Camerupt in the game when Numel evolves at lv 33, but I don’t want this team to be way too unbeatable. There’s also Toxic like Vileplume, to deal continious damage, and Refresh to heal status effects, which Maxie would replace Sunny Day with once he gets Groudon.
That’s the thing with Claydol. Although it’s the Sunny Day setter, it can do much more without it’s praising of the sun hindering it’s moveset. Since the weather rocks don’t exist yet, weather only lasts for 5 turns. The exception is Groudon, who’s ability, Drought, creates an endless burning sun just waiting to melt the Artic caps. I could have given every mon Sunny Day, which is an option since trainer A.I doesn’t understand the concept of switching. But then every mon has one move slot wasted for Sunny Day and one wasted turn to make the democrats angry. So, Claydol requires Maxie to use his actual brain. This team benefits a lot more once Groudon is awakened.
There’s also another reason for Claydol’s position. Trainers, in Omega Ruby, describe Route 11’s desert, where Baltoy are found, to have possibly been a bay. Okay, a lot of this is based on that exhaustive video on Omega Ruby by ShayMay, but I loved his interpretation of what this area signifies. It symbolizes Maxie’s dream to dry the sea for more land, yet this area is such a desert wasteland that it makes you wonder if Maxie’s paradise will never come.
I didn’t Crobat, a Pokémon that evolves from friendship, to really fit well with a cold and calculated type of person. Instead, I thought, “why not give him Skarmory, a Physical tank found in the volcanic ash section of the region.” This also happens to be a place near Mt Chimney, the location of Team Magma’s base. Why Skarmory? Because Skarmory is an annoying tank so overused I’ve lost several times in Gen 3 OU battles on Showdown because of it. What makes Skarmory a threat is its combination of Roar and Spikes. Spikes is the only move I gave Skarmory that deals any damage because, if it gets 3 spikes up, Roar allows it to give continuous damage by singing Fnaf songs so cringy your Pokémon will physically leave the battle. If the opposing Pokémon isn’t fast enough, it’s back in the ball for the others to get spikes damage. Now, it’s not as perfect as I write, as Skarmory’s checks are other flying types and Pokémon faster than it. I actually learned Stealth Rocks wasn’t in the game, which surprised me. Like Camerupt, I also gave it the rest sleep talk strat for recovery except I gave it Leftovers for continuous healing. I’ve seen Smogon do toxic and taunt, which I think is a good strategy as well. All of these work in the end. Skarmory’s role is support, to give the enemy continuous damage with each switch in.
What’s a sunny day team without a grass type? And I thought Vileplume fit that need very well despite being found in a route full of rain. Vileplume acts as the toxic setter and team healer. God job Gamefreak, you completely invalidated Oddish’s own existence in this region. Thought of putting status effects on Maxie’s Pokémon? Vileplume’s aromatherapy will quickly get rid of that. And then itshows you it’s twitter page to induce Toxic. For this mon, however, I made two movesets instead of one just because I wasn’t sure on which to go with. The first has leech seed and Giga Drain for more continuous recovery, while the second has Solar Beam and Synthesis to fully utilize the Sun. I think either one is fine, though let me know in the comments which one you think is better.
I thought it best to use Vileplume for the role of a bulky Grass type because of its secondary poison typing, allowing for them to not get poisoned themselves. Vileplume does take a lot of hits from different types, and doesn’t have a lot of attacking options besides Solar Beam or Giga Drain lest it be given evs for its attack stat to use Poison moves. However, Chlorophyll gives it the speed boost it needs to do what it needs to do.
Found in Mt. Pyre, and is Maxie’s last team member, Dusclops is another overall bulky Pokémon like Claydol. However, rather than Claydol using Cosmic Power to raise both defenses, Dusclops role is to use Substitute to take more hits. This is combined with the dreaded Focus Punch, a powerful fighting move that needs to be charged without the mon getting hit. So, you can see where the combo’s strength is. Besides that, Dusclops has Night Shade to give set damage based on it’s level, so about 43-45 fixed damage, and then Will-o-Wisp to cripple you’re physical attackers. Because of Dusclops’ ghost typing, it’s a good switch in for fools who try to remove Skarmory’s spikes with rapid spin.
Another reason for Dusclops’ position is where it’s found. Mt Pyre is the Lavender Tower of Hoenn, where the graves are found, and is where Maxie gets the orb to revive Groudon. But the graves are the significant part for Dusclops inclusion. Basically, it’s the edgy visual that Maxie is gonna kill a bunch of people in the process of reviving Groudon.
Archie, on the contrary, I decided to go for a hard-hitting team consisting of only Pokémon found within or near the sea. So, one of the things that made Archie hard to figure out a team for was how redundant he was. Gamefreak decided to have one of their evil teams be based around Water, only to then decide to make the final gym, Juan, and the Champion, Wallace, also water based. All three of these wet boys are also surrounded by water routes. At this point, I think IGN had a point and I never thought that’d be possible.
As a man who wants to expand the sea for Pokémon’s sake, and as someone who seemingly lived along the depths with his hardy crew, I saw Archie as the passionate but misguided type who sees his team as almost a part of him. This is also why, when using Showdown for this team building, I randomized the evs and ivs for his team. He doesn’t care about their stats (although he would care for their moveset). This is a man who caught and befriended his Pokémon, and damn it all if he isn’t gonna use them. This all culminates in a team that benefits from the rain so that they can hit hard and cripple you long enough to not stop them in their tracks.
If Camerupt was a headache, then Sharpedo was an aneurism. Now, in my actual retrospective on Emerald, I will probably say that I liked the lack of physical special split because it made choosing a team much harder and required some more thought than other team building I’ve done in other games. However, in practice, the game really is the rock, paper scissor game we joke about it being with little to no thought with each battle. Every rock is physical, and every dragon is special. What I thought would be a fun dive back into the past actually revealed its glaring problems.
Sharpedo is the embodiment of why the physical-special split needed to happen. The Pokémon is a physical attacker, yet Water and Dark moves are all special in this game. Meaning its best stat can’t be used to use its actual typing. It is Archie’s worst mon, but I gotta keep it because it’s his signature.
So, what did I do with this meat sack? I went with a Subtitute strategy where it sets up agility in order to get a similar speed boost alongside its Swift Swim brethren. I gave Hydro Pump, but Crunch is also a good option as well. Finally, rather than go for Slash, I actually decided to give it Return in order to exemplify how I see Archie as the one who loves his Pokemon. And…that’s the best that I could.
Originally, I wanted to go for a Walrein because of its bulk as a Rain Dance setter and good coverage. However, Juan uses a Sealeo, while Glacia uses two and a Walrein. I thought giving Archie would cement his role as redundant further. So, I decided to go for Gyarados.
Gyarados, although it doesn’t get Dragon Dance due to it being learned at level 50, is still a harsh threat. It gets options like Earthquake for Electric Types and Hydro Pump for stab. Combined with it being one of the Rain Dance setters for the team, Hydro Pump will hit harder than Will Smith on Oscar night. It also has the ability Intimidate to cripple physical attackers. Finally, in case you put a status effect on it, I gave it Facade to double the base power.
So, why Gyarados over other water types or even Pelipper? The reason is because I would see my interpretation of Archie raising a Magikarp up into a Gyarados. Magikarps are known for being terrible Pokémon that evolve into an amazing one, if someone puts the time and effort. I think having one would tell a lot about Archie’s character more than dialogue.
In case you think of one shotting everything with an electric type, this Pokémon can come in and absorb it like the Thing to the crew in Antartica. While another Rain Dance setter, I also gave it Thunder Wave to cause guaranteed paralysis to slow your team down. I gave it Hydro Pump for stab, but Lanturn’s greatest strength is using rain for a 100% accurate Thunder which will slap foes harder than Will Smith on Oscar night. I originally thought of giving Archie only tough and fierce looking Pokémon, but I thought the adorable Lanturn represents his softer side. With Kyorge’s awakening, Rain Dance would be replaced with Ice Beam for more coverage.
Found within the depths, a mon that represents the ancient world that Archie longs to bring back, is a Relicanth. I can only imagine his face when he reels one in, as it’s one of the rarer mons in the area. Unfortunately, Relicanth’s only benefit in the rain is swift swim as its low special attack means its water type moves are virtually useless. Thankfully, it’s got the attack stat to use Ancient Power, which has a chance of raising all of its stats, and Earthquake as another Electric check. I also gave it the good old chesto-resto strat and even Toxic to cripple mons. A fast little rock that symbolizes the world Archie wishes for.
What I thought would be Archie’s sweeper until I realized Dragon Dance does absolutely nothing for it since it’s a primarily special user. The physical special split really hinders Archie’s team alot. So, instead, I went with a substitute strat where it can dish out Hydro Pumps and Dragon Breathes to paralyze the foe once again. I thought a Water/Dragon type would be an interesting challenge for the player and an interesting addition to his team. Like Relicanth, it’s ability swift swim boosts its speed to hit fast and hard. Also, it’s a rain dance setter, but with Kyorge it’d be replaced with Disable to hinder an opponent’s move. With Dragon giving it some good resistances and a decent offense, I saw Kingdra a good addition to the team.
Honestly, a lot of Pokémon fit Archie’s team well. From Tentacruel to Gorebyss, the sea is full of mons that could have made it onto the final team I made for him.
And that just about wraps it up. I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts on how I would fix Maxie and Archie’s team. This was a weird post, but I was really invested in seeing how I could change up their Pokémon. Thank you for reading and, like I said, let me know in the comments how you would change Archie and Maxie’s team. Welp, see you again next time~
December came and I was doing my rounds when I was recommended the X Box GamePass. It was a dollar for a month, so I was like, “hell yeah!” Now I was late for so much because it was just so good!
You might be thinking, “and? What’s so exciting? It’s Xbox.” Let me explain. I am a Nintendo person. Over the years, I’ve only played consoles from their lineup. Gameboy Advance, DSI, 3ds, Gamecube, Wii U, and the Switch. I have played Steam, which was my first outing outside of Nintendo, but I’ve never played anything from the other two big boys in the gaming world. So, to be able to play the big lineup from X Box was an exciting juncture.
Admittedly, I accidently played for the next month. That gave me 2 months of full access to a slew of games I never thought I’d ever play. This post is going over the top 10 I played over the course of that period.
This is based on how much I played them and enjoyed them. This isn’t to say that one game is better than the other. So, please don’t get mad at me. Leave down in the comments what games you liked on the service or any recommendations for when I inevitably get it back.
Ark: Ultimate Survivor-I guess you’re in this list
Truth be told, I only played about 12 games. You’ll see by like number 2 why. So…Ark. I wasn’t a big fan of it. I played about a night of it because I saw dinosaurs on the cover and I was like, “sweet. I’ll try it.” Yes, it’s that simple for me to just play a game.
I haven’t played an MMO since Cartoon Network’s Fusionfall, and it showed. So many menus to keep track of, the leveling system, and the pretty okay graphics. Not all bad points, but a lot to get back into. If I had one big issue, it was the weight system where too much inventory slows you down. That’s not bad, but the game gave me a bunch of special sh!t I couldn’t use as some kind of event, but I didn’t want get rid of it. So, I couldn’t get a lot of materials because then it would weigh me down.
Then, and I probably could have gotten used to it, but the menus were a mess. Like, you have a menu for crafting, but you can only craft when it’s on the hotbar (just learned what that i)?
Finally, didn’t really find a lot of Dinos. That’s it, that’s the con.
Maybe it’s because I haven’t played an MMO since I was like 10, but I don’t think this was a good re-introduction to it. (I do regret not taking a screenshot of it).
Destroy All Humans
Wanna live out your dreams of being an alien from “Mars Attack!” Well, I’ve got for you today Destroy All Humans, where you can just conquer the world by destroying everything! Just commit war crimes all over the place in your conquest.
This is one of those stress relief games because all you do is throw cows around and blow up buildings with a giant UFO. I only got to the 2nd level by the end of my session, but that starting level is just peak fun. You really feel like a space invader by the end.
Can we bring back grey aliens again? They’re such a classic but perfect design.
Close your eyes. Let me throw some imagery at you. You’re in a pastoral city. You’re a deer. A normal, peaceful deer. Now hook shot onto buildings with your head. Walk over to victims like a macho 80s film character. Shoot down building with guns strapped to your horns. Okay, now you’re being tracked down by cops throughout the city. The cops are sheep, the cars have pandas under them, and their boss is a giant freakin dog. Now open your eyes. How do you feel? Good? Bad? Well, however you feel, I’d like you to get of my house now.
Very much like Destroy All Humans, you’re basically throwing yourself around the city to cause as much damage as possible. It’s very much about insanity and fun. I got a little chuckle every time I just wobble around the map. I love the complete madness of just attaching weapons all over my face to fire everything like a monster movie general losing his mind. The whole map can be destroyed, so it’s your own little sandbox of destruction.
I stopped around the first boss, but I won’t spoil it so you can experience the goofiness yourself.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare?
Okay, I played this one with a friend before I had my own game pass, but he had it so I’m counting it. Out of the shooters on this list, this is my least favorite. Only because the other 2 were more of my style.
With this game, I wasn’t expecting a lot since COD gets so much slack. I’ve seen people call it mindless, some kind of generic shooter, and all kinds of negative comments. I will say, I don’t remember which one it was. I swear to god, I didn’t do this on purpose for a bit. I legit don’t remember which one it is. I looked up a list, and they all look the same! I can’t use my memory because they all-
Anyway, from what my blanked memory is remembering, one of my favorite things was how balanced the maps are (please forgive me if they aren’t. I’m a noob). It introduced me to how there is no safe place to camp out in modern shooters. Yes, you can camp out, but it’s not like an invincible area where your safe forever. Yes, this seems bare bones and basic, but as someone who’s played the OG Star Wars Battlefront 2 by myself due to poor internet this was my breakthrough into the online scene.
Dragon Quest 11: Playin as Android 17
As someone who loves RPGs. Dragon Quest was a foreign land to. Like, I’ve heard more about Final Fantasy than Dragon Quest. All I knew was that the art style was made by Toriyama, and there are slimes. Other than that, nothing else. That actually made me more excited to play this game when I found it.
This one is more complicated to me. The game drew me in with its high fantasy, which has been my trend with RPGs, and I really liked the environments due to Toriyama’s art style. Made me realize how much I loved the locals of Dragon Ball, and I hope it gets as much love as the fight scenes. The first area was gorgeous, and it made me want to run around even if I was on bare time.
Two problems, however, ruined the experience. I never got into the combat. So, it’s the standard RPG battles I’ve done several times before. Basic attack, magic, run; the usual. However, they added the ability to run around while performing actions. But what rubbed me the wrong way was how, from the first few battles, this mechanic didn’t change anything. I could run around the enemies, so I thought that being too far away would not allow me to use basic attacks and I had to utilize magic, and vice versa. But that’s not how it went. It’s the same turned based action of FF and Pokemon. IT doesn’t matter how far you move away from the enemy; they still land direct hits. So, what was the point of moving around if it didn’t affect anything? It felt like a cop out.
Secondly, and this is more so towards what I played it with, the game would not run properly. This is because I was using my work laptop for all of these games, so it had trouble running anything super modern. Especially when it was on a browser using campus internet. So, I didn’t continue because I didn’t know if it would run or not.
Does that mean I won’t play Dragon Quest ever again? Not really. But I will say that, even if I did get the pass again, I don’t really have interest in this one.
Doom: Rip and Tear, Until It Is Done-oh wait that’s the sequel
Basically a transcription of me playing the game:
Oh sh!t I died…
*Goes back to laughing madly as I rip and tear the demons of hell*
This is the most Christian game ever made! I’m making my crusader ancestors proud!
Halo Infinite: A Title That’s a Declaration
Yep, this is the first Halo game I’ve ever played, and it’s a pretty good introduction to the multiplayer…I think. This is coming from the most casual perspective ever, so take that with a grain of salt. I’m a Nintendo Gamer who’s bever touched this stuff, so I’m trekking into unknown territory.
The multiplayer is really good, but there are some meh areas. I like the standard game mode, 4 vs 4, but it got really repetitive after a few matches. I like having a large team pool between each side since it unlocks the bigger maps. The maps that I had played in 4 v 4 were so small that they ended up becoming boring. I’ve seen a few videos, such as the Act Man, talking about a lot more major issues like low map count for each mode. When I played, I just found the normal multiplayer repetitive.
I’ll admit, it took a while for me to realize that enemies will have a red aura as an indication instead of being completely red. It’s still a bit confusing because other shooters like Splatoon and Battlefront have a clearer indication based on color coding, but I did eventually get over it.
I remember trying my best to be a lot better at this game. At least, in my own weird and flawed way. I remember feeling like a complete loser, getting t-boned every second, so I tried my best to understand the basic controls rather than letting it get to me. Sure, I found moving the camera janky compared to Battlefront 2, but I ended up getting used to it. I learned to rely of smacking people during close combat, I almost getting good aiming with the controller (not gonna lie, I can’t aim with an X-box controller to save my life), and using the event I at the time to learn how good the other weapons work. I never truly mastered it, I would even admit that mastering multiplayer isn’t something that I can get fully invested in, but I did really enjoy getting just as good enough to not feel like a hassle to my companions.
Can I just gush about how effective smacking people with the gun is. Destroying their shield and bam! Turn your enemy into a ragdoll. It’s so fun when you take the chance.
Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order- It’s so beautiful!
I’m a Star Wars nerd. My Republic Commando post goes a little more into it, but I’ve loved the franchise since I was kid. But, the sequel trilogy left me disappointed and left a hollow piece in my ehart. It didn’t have the same intrigue and storytelling that hooked me, and they’re not good movies in general. It’s why I loved Dark Forces 1 and 2 because it was the OG expanded universe, territory I never trekked before that actually capture the spirit of the franchise.
Fallen Order is not in the OG Expanded Universe, it’s a new game with a new story between Ep 3 and 4, but it radiated the same giddy from me. The combat system is basically “parry, parry, force slow, slash, watch the attacks, and rinse and repeat.” It’s easy to understand but fun to master, though the game will kick your ass if your not good. My one complaint with it is none of the Stormtroopers being cut into pieces after dying. It bother me to no end when all they’re left with are pathetic little slashes. Dark Forces had that and that game is old.
For example, the first giant toad fight (called a Oggdo Bogdo. Really broke out all the word bank for that one), I remember rushing in and getting my a$$ handed to it. Then, after coming back, I took my time and finally beat it. I loved how my brain decided to win right after I fell into the boss pit when I gave up. This may seem basic like “oh wow, you beat the toad.” But that feeling of accomplishment kept me going. I love that it was intentionally made harder but optional if you really wanted to get good.
Like with Dragon Quest, the only reason why I ended up not continuing was because of my set up. Especially during Dathomir, where one session ended up slowing down my input with the controls due to poor internet (I blame the night sisters). Anyone looking into PC gaming, do not do what I do. I have to rely on what I have, but if you have the spending cash buy a better computer.
You think after this game, the main character joined Disney Channel to star in the hit movie, “Zombies 3?” I didn’t even need to joke about him being in a 4th one. There are apparently gonna be aliens in the 3rd movie. Yo, can we get our main boy in Zombies 3?
Dead Space: Covid Omega
It’s The Thing meets Alien. This was made for me.
One of the best aspects of the game is its sound design. Being in this hostile mining ship with the Necromorphs, hearing the whispers, the ambience, and the distant roars helped aggravate my anxiety. Despite the point being to be afraid, I was mesmerized and drawn to how everything was crafted to create this perfect horror experience.
By far, my favorite mechanic is stomping the monsters after they’re dead. Just taking it all out on them too be able to release the anger after being jump scared and attacked. Best decision made. Best part is when our mute protag vents out his frustration. The way he grr’s is such a mood. Having a relatable mechanic made me want to play the game more since I had a break in between the scares to let it all out. The story too, but the gameplay really kept me going.
So, why is this not number 1? Well, it’s because I found this gem around the last 2 weeks of my membership. Had I played early, this would have easily been number 1.
Also, Zombies 3 should totally include the Necromorphs. That would easily get me back into Disney Channel.
Star Wars Battlefront 2: EA addition
Growing up, I used to play the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 (which was my brother’s) on our old computer. Though I could never play multiplayer, I had a blast going to all the Star Wars planets I knew and absolutely recking the enemy army. Though the dumb AI made things easy, I still managed to make a lot of memories
Admittedly, I was one of the guys who hated the remakes without ever playing them. In my defense, when I heard all the controversies on the lootcrates, it made me think they messed up what could have been a great remake. But, playing it in December, any fears or biases I had were blown away.
This became one of my favorite Star Wars games of all time. The look of the game is gorgeous (especially each character model), the maps are expansive and recreate everything from the movies, I love dying to Darth Maul every few seconds, and the points system made learning the base classes viable. I love how much variety there is as well. There’s Conquest, Galactic Assault, Heroes vs Villains, Blast, Space Assault, and Ewok Hunt. Surrpisingly, the lootcrates that were left didn’t really affect my enjoyability with the game at all since I felt I was on the same level as everyone else playing, even if veterans were on the field. It’s a really good casual experience, but there is something veteran shooters will love.
Now, the question might be: did I like this more than the original. Now, before you shout at me like Kylo Ren to choose which ever one you like more, here’s my take. A comparison is not fair. I only had single player in the original. What I love about the new one is that I can actually do multiplayer. I’m not gonna say I had more fun on one over the other because of that. I love both for different reasons. They both have a special place in my heart as being amazing Star Wars games.
Yes, I did come at the end of its life. There are apparently no more updates. But, what I experienced was something amazing, and I hope a Battlefront 3 happens. One that doesn’t include the First Order.
Can we just get Legends content? Ea, you gave the sequels enough love. It’s time to give the real sequels a spot in the spotlight. I want Mara Jade, Omega Squad, the real Ben Solo, and whatever else happened after ep 6.
*Here is me reliving two of my favorite moments.
My remember when me and a random person just got together and just stood at an enemy spawn point to decimate them with the gatling gun. I know that sounds like an asshole move, and I did try to leave. But when we looked at each other, he nudged me with some shots, and we just turned back to continue, I knew we became bros that day. Or they were a girl. Idk.
Another was when, in Kashyyk, I was with a whole squad in one of the Turbo Tanks just defending it from droids. There was so much to do in that map, yet we all banded together to protect this one spot. There was so much tension, so many times I died, yet we did it…I think. I can’t remember it well.
I’m very sorry that most of these screenshots are the menus on the game pass, but I want to save up some money before I get the pass again. If I do get it again, and I remember, I’ll try to replace these screenshots with actual gameplay.
And that’s it for my list of reasons that kept me from actually doing my job. Next time, I go back to Kamen Rider to talk about what in the world the Saber movie was. See you next time.
Because Saber requires me to wait after my final exams to review, plus the mental capacity to deal with it, I decided to pad out the time with this out-of-nowhere post! This time, it’s my thoughts on a newly revealed Mother 4 fan project, perfect for the winter season.
I know the people reading this know about the original Mother 4 project, or at least have heard of it, so I won’t delve far into its history. But it is known that the original was later retitled into Oddity, with its release date pushed back to who-knows-when. On the one hand, it’ll very interesting to see what this new take will be as a spiritual successor without the references to original franchise, and I do think it was a better decision that it became its own thing since the team worked for many years on it. On the other hand, it meant that the fan’s continuation of the series wouldn’t come to fruition, and the wait for so many might have felt unsatisfied now with this rebranding.
But now, a new team is coming in with their own struggle to create their version Mother 4! I was completely blind sighted by this reveal because, when I saw the thumbnail, I didn’t think much of it besides a “fan trailer.” Watching it for the first time was a surprise to me because I didn’t expect it to be an actual new game. I was left with both excitement and fear, but I’ll cover that after an analysis of the trailer.
Right away, the visuals scream “Mother,” but come across as an “HD” evolution of Mother 3’s graphics at the same time. It starts off exactly like Earthbound as our protagonist, Aaron, is sleeping in his house at night. Just then, something can be heard falling towards the earth. But, as a subversion of expectations, the object zooms past the window in a large flash of white light. Already, this fan-game is taking us back to the alien roots that started the original Mother.
With the way the location resembles one of Ness’s Sanctuary, I’m starting to ponder if the story of the game revolves around finding out about the events of Mother 3, since that game’s McGuffin was needles. These new ones appear in the logo of the game, signifying their importance. I also think that, since many theorize that the Mother series is in some kind of loop, it’d be cool if this game plays on that idea to become both a sequel and a prequel at the same time. Now if I just spoiled it later down the line, do not call me a prophet.
We then get a first look at the world, and the first thing that’s interesting is that it’s America, the world in the first game. As a theory, this suggests that this is either a prequel of Mother, maybe around the time George returns to Earth, or that this is the recreated world after Mother 3. After a look of our characters, which the art resembles the American clay models of the Earthbound/Mother 2 gang, we get a look at something peculiar. In a cave, we see a needle in the hands of some buried stone person. The trailer tells us that the characters are “discovering Ancient History.”
Finally, story wise, the end shows the new Earth design within the logo, with one of the pins inside of it. Then, a bunch of UFOs zoom on in to hover above the forest, reinforcing their return. Whoever this species is, they’re probably up to no good. I’m really interested in what will come with what the trailer shows.
In terms of everything else, the game succeeds in being very “Mother.” We’re back with 4 main characters: the MC (Aaron), the mechanic (Maggie), the loner (Troy), and some flower girl (Triste) who will probably pray or something. I can only imagine the fresh hell that awaits at the end if she does have the pray option. In my opinion, I’m not a big fan of Aaron’s design. Not to fully compare with Oddity, but what I like about Travis’ character design is how unique of a design he has, aka the brown hair. Put him next to the others and he stands out. Aaron just resembles Lucas. It was cute and funny with Ninten and Ness, but it just feels uninspired here. Hell, some of the fan art portray him as an inverted Lucas (Go to the Mother 4 twitter to see what I mean). Unless this was intentional, proving one of my theories, where he’s somehow Lucas’s kid or descendent, his design is very lazy. The others have that very cute design aspect that comes with Mother while bringing something new to the table, especially Maggie. The enemies are as weird and humorous as they should be, especially Paper Boy. I always love a good pun in a Mother game, and this game delivers. Lastly, the locales are the standard snow, town, and desert places, but I’m getting a western vibe from this world. It’d be interesting if it goes that route, with some possible western references. All in all, the trailer manages to bring familiarity while being something fresh as well.
Why I am Worried
It’s no surprise that Nintendo fan games aren’t “beloved” by their parents. One of the more infamous examples is Another Metroid 2 Remake, a fan game made for the same reason Mother fans make fan games: they want something dammit! You can still download it, but Nintendo made sure all official download spots stopped. This is just one example, but it’s now common knowledge that the company can get pretty strict when it comes to fan games. Oddity probably changed from being Mother 4 because they feared all their years of hard work could be stopped like that.
This is why I am very worried about this fan-game. Spiritual successors are what the community have, such as Omori and Undertale, but people really want a new installment in the Mother franchise even if Itoi stepped down from that, possibly forever. When you know the hell that many games went through, it’s easy to see why. Mother 4 can be that for fans, hell it’s promising it will, but it would really suck if Nintendo brought the hammer down or if this studio decides to rebrand in fear of that. Spiritual successors are great, but the fans are the only people really willing to continue the franchise. Nintendo sure seems to not want to, even when the 30th anniversary came and went.
I understand that the team did address this concern in their own website, making the point that only fan remakes and controversial games get strikes, but I’m still worried about that being proven wrong. Who knows really; maybe I’ll be the one looking dumb? So, I really want this project to succeed, that way the Mother fans will have the spiritual successor and the “next” game in the series.
I’m looking forward to cry at the end, and maybe you will too. Idk, do what you want.
P.S Listen to the soundtrack being released on the official Mother 4 youtube. It’s incredible.
Last time on Child of Light, I discussed the essential parts of the game in the attempt to mask my horrible scheduling. From the story, the characters, and the gameplay elements in both a critical and, admittedly, bias way. Now it’s time for me to discuss the other aspects, from its stellar music to its side quests that were alright. Was this a necessary post? Maybe. Was it for quantity? Ask my dead integrity.
Music: Beats by Coeur
Video game music is my sh!t, and Child of Light delivers a soundtrack that slaps hard! Admittedly, I am not the best when it comes to talking about music. Like, how do you I put the feelings I have about onto words in the most accurate way? Well, I’ll give it my best shot. The music, by Coeur de Pirate, has this fantastical yet melancholic feel to it, relying on pure instruments emphasizing on piano, violins, and flutes, to amply the adventure. It’s a symphony fit for a fairytale, giving the game its own identity.
Traveling around Lemuria is a musical dream, presenting a crisp orchestra as you solve puzzles and fly around the sky. From “Patches in the Sky” to “Pilgrims of a Long Journey,” it sets the tone of magic and wonder while reminding you of the torment brought by Umbra. I can only compare it to how Metroid sets the tone with its music, creating a soft ambience the amplify the eerie feel as you travel through the planet or the space station.
Coeur’s music is like a classic Disney movie, at least what a classic Disney film is meant to represent as a kid. It’s beautiful on the first run but still retains the magic on subsequent listens. Basically, when it was good.
I personally love “Patches in the Sky,” which plays as you go to the Temple of the Moon. The piano has this soft soul underneath its violin, telling how close you are to the “end” of your journey. It captures the wonder of this flying…city? I don’t quite know what the structures are supposed to be in this section. Ruins? The circus? An abandoned town? Whatever Tristis decided to kill himself in, the pure sight of it fills the imagination and the music helps create an awe-inspiring feeling. It’s the track I give subsequent listens to for studying.
Now, the battle music is the peak of this game. It actually contrasts the peaceful melodies of the overworld music. Like this is some Lord of the Rings level of epic and triumphant. The music makes every battle feel like you’re in Mordor, winning even with the eye of Sauron is just above the horizon. Especially “Jupiter’s Lightning,” this trumpet loving song that’s a regular battle theme disguised as a boss theme. It makes fights spectacular, and I’ll admit to getting pumped. It makes me want to fight enemies just to hear it. The other battle themes are great too, but Jupiter is the best one. Coeur managed to create one of the best regular battle themes in JRPG history, better than the many Final Fantasy or Pokemon themes. I’ll play more, I swear. I hear Legend of the Dragoon is good…
Maybe it’s just me, but Couer’s soundtrack is something to behold for yourself. I really recommend the video about how she made the music, going from simple to orchestrated when it came to the boss fights.
Graphics: A Moving Painting
The game utilizes the Rayman Legend’s engine for its animation but has such a different presentation compared to whatever the hell Rayman is supposed to be. Seriously, every time I watch my brother play it, I ask, “the hell happened to his limbs?!” Child of Light on the Switch is a visual beauty, a moving painting that compliments the game’s high fantasy. A lot of the game’s cool color scheme has this nice blue hue to it of varying degrees, but it does journey into warmer colors for places like Bolmus Poppuli. The developers made it so the background wasn’t static or lifeless. Many characters and monsters roam around in the landscapes, giving the world more depth. Sonic did this all the way back in the 80s, showcasing spanning cities or luscious forests as a backdrop, but 2d games (at least the one’s I’ve played as a gaming scrub) in recent years are able to have these backdrops so animated that its visually stunning. I love when a game leaves a lot to the imagination. The most iconic moment is the beginning, seeing the giant roam Lemuria as you walk across a small stream.
Animations for Aurora are equally impressive, especially her hair physics. It sways everywhere you go, raising up when being healed by Igniculus and sometimes covering her face. Her hair is like Medusa from Marvel; The locks have a mind on their own. Though, Aurora and her family are the only 3d models in the overworld. Everyone else is a 2d “sprite,” if sprites were just bio pics. This never becomes jarring since their animations are just as fluid as Aurora’s. It’s a few head nods but it keeps them from becoming cardboard cutouts. I’m surprised the writers didn’t have a moment where one town was struck frozen by Umbra to the point where they did look like a drift store prop.
The battle animations are great, specifically with the monsters. Each are given 4 kinds of movements, individual to their design. When attacking, archers fire arrows while rocks just hop in place (at least this one has an excuse Gamefreak!). Some are better than others, since the archers have this weird lag with the sound effect with firing. Monsters have a “push back” animation when hit, making attacks feel powerful. This is the same with the heroes, so battles end up with more weight to it. Monsters have a charge up animation, which vary in quality. Some reflect their design, like how the archer backs up like he’s charging the bow, while many are just “get big!” These compensation ones are just boring since they revert to normal size. I wish they stayed in their big boy forms, then lose it when they release their charge. Finally, there is the “almost dead” phase, where they visibly look down as if they’re getting scolded by their principle for being creative. It’s small but appreciated since enemies don’t have life bars. All of this makes regular grind fodder have life to them.
And that’s what Child of Light’s presentation is. On the big screen, it’ll take your breath away how beautiful Lemuria is. It’s water-color, cartoon artstyle stands out so well, making it one of the most recognizable games on the Switch. There’s barely any lag, so visuals pop onto the screen no problem. I highly suggest playing on a large TV. the handheld mode is good, but the TV’s presentation is way better.
Sidequests: In this Time Frame?
Yeah, the sidequests are all…okay. I’m primarily talking about the ones you get from NPCS. I’ll get into the secrets later. The main characters do have sidequests that fit their character, such as saving the Kategida clan or getting Rubella’s brother. My personal favorite is the Kategida one since it’s in a labrynth puzzle that has actual ties to the lore of the game. However, none of the others are fun to do besides the reward. They’re the kind of sidequests that are just chores, like “kill these spiders in front of my lawn” or “get my flying pig back!” Yes, pigs do fly in Lemuria so any excuse you have is invalid. You could honestly skip them because they add nothing to the plot or the NPCS’ character in an interesting way. It’s one of the game’s weakest points.
Secrets: You Found the Thing!
The most interesting of Lemuria’s secrets are literal flying paper. Scattered throughout the world are diary letters that go further in-depth of Lemuria’s lore, primarily focusing on the explorers that were the ancestors of Aurora and Umbra. They aren’t too hard to find since flying, ripped paper in a world full of monsters will stand out, plus they continue the poetic writing of the dialogue.
Alongside the paper are the stardust’s, which are the game’s stat increase items. Same idea as the other things around, but their very much in the open. They can be taken by Igniculus, so they’re the easiest out of the collectables. Some are even rewards for side quests, such as the trade sequence. They still do that right? I’m still behind the times on gaming, correct?
Smaller “dungeons” lay hidden, mostly within doors with a gem or a random entrance in a dungeon. Most of them contain puzzles that are just “fly fast” or a boss. On that note, a lot of the puzzles in the game are pretty simple. It’s one of the game’s weaker points since most are just flying through wind, moving block, or lighting stuff up. Nothing really worth wild or memorable. The rewards are more of the same: gems and potions. I do like the idea of bigger versions of enemies acting as bosses, but many of them use the same strategies. They’re just…bigger.
Annnddd…that’s all I have left. Now for my 2nd overview.
Like I said in Part 1, I really enjoyed this small JRPG for managing to bring back that classic fairytale feel with a great story and fun battle mechanics. The smaller aspects of the game are just as good, especially the music and the graphics, though the side quests and collectibles are the game’s weaker points. Many sidequests feel uninspired and the puzzles, while fun for a while with some good rewards, become lackluster.
Anyway, these are just my thoughts on the game. I hope you had a fun experience just as I did. I highly recommend checking out how the developers created the game through their series on Ubisoft’s Youtube channel. They’re short and sweet, but a great way to understand the magic behind the game. Anyway, I’ll hope you’ll return whenever the f to read me write more swear words than the lord would permit because I’m tackling Kamen Rider Saber, because 2020 decided to spawn both a virus and this show.
Mobile Suit Gundam: The Compilation
Can you spot the new addiction throughout my recent posts? It’s not the heroine manning my writing.
I watched the entire original Gundam show through 3 compilation movies on the youtube channel GundamInfo. I thought it was an incredible show and start for the franchise, but the compilations themselves were pretty alright. Especially found in the second movie, I could tell that too much was put in and a lot of the fleshed-out details like character and story bits were rushed because of it. A great show, but okay movies.
The year UC 0079, and the Principality of Zeon have waged a rebellion against the Earth for independence, thus starting the One Year War. Also they dropped a colony. The Zabi Family, at the head of Zeon, lead their soldiers using the revolutionary change to warfare: Mobile Suits. On Site 7, young Nuke Amuro Gunray witnesses the terror of war as No-Goufs Boy 2’s wage an attack on the Federation’s secret weapon stashed in the colony. Amuro ignores his father as he enters into the cockpit of Earth’s greatest turning point, the RX-78 Gundam, to defeat the enemy soldiers.
Now, forced with other children to fight in the war in the White Base (yes it’s called that) Amuro and the Gundam (and I guess the Guntank and Guncannon) will change the course of One Year War while ignoring the other Gundams that come along later. Idk, I haven’t watched them all yet.
So, real talk. I didn’t plan a book post well because I had school and I didn’t know what to do about screenshot jokes. So, here’s my apology recommendation. I swear, it’s still better written than Captain Marvel.
Young Donovan Navonod is a middle school kid so reckless he makes my 1 am walks seem smarter. One day, he smacks the thicc @ss of a statue and causes it’s bronze world to smash into the nearby gym. Does he get in trouble? No, he gets accidently awarded by being transferred to the gifted program school. Now, with the school district superintendent on his trail, he has to keep low while having to fake his way long enough for the drama to die down. However, it turns out that the smart kids may value him more than they could have thought.
I really hope that read with that generic synopsis voice for all those kids movies. I thought of writing generic lines like “Now, he’ll learn that he may be the best thing for the smart kids” or something like that. That’s my critic on the back of the book, which was literally written by that generic guy voice in all those trailers.
A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum
Hey, remember that weird movie review I did for that elf movie. Please don’t read it. Anyway, something that I don’t talk about much is my love for classic films. I mainly mean from the 60s to the 80s. Westworld, Logan’s Run, Dr Strangelove, Forbidden Planet, and a bunch of others. There is something beloved about the old ways they would create the worlds of the films, having to rely on the practical rather than today’s CGI reliance.
I watched this film for a drama class I’m taking, and it is seriously one of the funniest comedies out there. It’s very simple humor, but the physical comedy and clever dialogue is so witty it reminds me of a Monty Python film. I also love the camera work since it’s so good at adapting to the emotions of the scene, whether it be made into quick shots for the humor or angled shots for a character’s anxiety. It’s genuinely well-made for a 60s film and has some of the most unique visuals I’ve seen from a film from it’s era. At least to me.
In this adaptation of a musical and kind of Pseudolus, our MC is the conniving slave looking to obtain his freedom. When his masters’ son, Hero, wants to marry a girl in the slave house next door, he makes a deal that’ll get them both what they truly desire. What comes next is an elaborate plot of madness as the slave tries to hook the two up while more and more complications arise, especially in the form of the girl’s buyer Captain Miles Glorious, who will burn everything to get his bride. With some of the best actor performances and chemistry, with a mixture of comedy and clever writing, this is a classic that’ll make you holler every 5 minutes.
Well, it’s that time of the year when the candy is brought out from the depths of store stock and furries get to shine. October is a time for scary stories and leaves to cover your lawn, a time when feeling fear and anxiety is actually encouraged to have fun.
Now, I’ve never celebrated Halloween myself or enjoyed the build up to it, but I always love how mystical and gothic the month feels. It’s almost like this is the time when fantasy and gothic horror is accepted into our reality rather than pushed away. Who doesn’t love watching Jason cut up College kids or cowering under the covers in the midnight hour.
For a month about fantasy and darkness, I thought it’d be a great idea to talk about a light-hearted fairy tale game. Totally not because it’s a short but solid game and college is giving me a different reason to be scared.
Child of Light
Child of Light is a 2d JRPG released in 2014 by Ubisoft, known for Far Cry and having strange E3 moments, for the Xbox 360 and One, Playstation 3 and 4, and the totally remembered Wii U. An ultimate version was released on the Switch in 2018, which is the version I played for this review. Inspired by Earth-I mean Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger, the game follows a young girl from Austria who arrived into the mysterious continent of Lemuria after passing away. With a sword in hand and a Calvery on your side, you traverse the strange land for a way back home and, per the rule of Fairy Tales, stop your bitchy step mom. Because what would a fairy tale be without some evil step mom hating their step-daughter for very specific but unclear reasons.
For context on my connection to this game since I’ve never mentioned this story before, but Kingdom Hearts was one of the first games I saw as a kid. I remember in my babysitter’s house watching her son playing it when I snuck into his room; I was a very resourceful 3 year old. Ever since then, that game has stuck with me forever and its mystery in my life has always made me want to experience it for the first time. The same thing happened with this game.
Back in 2015, I remember my brother buying and playing the game on his Wii U. As a young brooding teen who didn’t understand the story since I watched his playthrough in parts, the images of a young girl flying in the sky and the soft piano playing in the background as he explored stuck with me for years. It felt magical. When I got my switch, this became an immediate buy and an immediate contender for one of my all time favorite games.
Child of Light came at a good time in my life when high fantasy games like Final Fantasy 9 became my trend. In years of darkness when reality started kicking me in the Igniculus’, playing through a fantasy game that wasn’t overly dark and moody took me back to a time when I used to watch Adventure Time every day. I love dark sh!t but I need a break from time to time, so exploring through magical lands and fighting dark creatures without the light tone going to far into the night felt like a breath air to me. It reaffirmed that not every great story has to contain blood, mental trauma, and overall downer concepts. Sometimes, a little light can go a long way.
For this review, I’ve decided to split it into two parts. The first will contain the important stuff such as gameplay elements and story while part 2 will cover the miscellaneous things that aren’t too important in the grand scheme of things but are interesting. I played through this game in a whole week on New Game + since it’s only about 13 hours, so I’m completely fresh on what I liked and disliked about the game. With all that set in stone, let’s die from poison and enter into the mysterious world of Lemuria.
The Story: Getting Isekaied
The story of Child of Light is very, very simple. It doesn’t try to be overly complex and it appears cliche when out of context. But deep within its straightforward narrative about light vs darkness is a tale of what it means to be royalty and what responsibilities lay within.
It all starts in 1800s Austria with Aurora, daughter of a Duke. Her mother passed away long ago, so it’s been mostly her and her father in the castle until he remarried. Then, by sheer coincidence, on Easter, Aurora fell ill and passed away in her sleep. The duke mourned the loss of her daughter and fell ill himself.
However, Aurora didn’t appear in heaven but instead in the land of Lemuria, based on a real supposed continent. Traveling through the woods, lost and scared, she soon meets a firefly named Igniculus who tells her to meet the “Lady in the Woods TM”. With a goal in mind, she pulls out a rad sword and fights her way to her destination.
After defeating a boss and solving puzzles, Aurora meets the Lady of the Woods who gives the exposition. Lemuria has been taken over by the Queen of the Night Umbra, who’s dark creatures have infested the land with their…evilness. The bitch and her two serpents have also managed to steal the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars to bask the continent of light into an endless darkness. Aurora is tasked to find the 3 celestial bodies while also being told that the only way home is through a mirror within the stolen castle. Gifted wings, the girl journeys off with the hopes of a Calvary joining her side and a way to get back to her father.
The rest of the story, as a said, is very straightforward. You go to a different town/city/port and meet a different party member of the world’s races, from the bearded Capulli to the lizard-like Piscean, and help with their problems. You go to a temple and find the macguffin after a boss fight. The evil queen is actually your step-mother…and so on and so forth.
But what makes the story stand out is how it’s written and how it’s presented.
Characters and Themes:
Aurora and Being a Good Princess
Aurora, to me, is one of the best main playable character’s out there and one of the best female main protagonists. She’s strong enough to fight her own battles, compassionate enough to help people without pay, mindful enough to let people join her, brave enough to speak her mind, yet vulnerable enough due to the love of her father. I think she strikes a fine balance between breaking traditional feminine roles in stories while not be afraid to use those past tropes to give her the kind and loving personalities most female characters have.
Aurora’s most stand-out trait is her refusal to be called a princess, despite being the daughter of a duke and her literal appearance resembling traditional princesses. Like, no matter how kind she is, she will correct people on it. Her crown even has a faux carved in it (which is just adorably funny). This trait is connected to the central theme/conflict of the game, as Umbra and her daughters see themselves as the rightful rulers of Lemuria. They see themselves as better than everyone, and they criticize Aurora for dirtying her royal clothes in the presence of commoners.
Aurora, because of her refusal to her royal bloodline, shows that she doesn’t believe herself to be better than the people who follow her. She is a part of them just as they are a part of her. This is brought up during the final battle when Aurora, even after finding out her mother, who is alive, was the Queen of Lemuria and that she is the rightful heir, states that the country should be owned by the people instead rather than some castle over looking them. This is supported by the basic plot structure, as every single member of the party is a part of one of the tribes of Lemuria. They didn’t join her because she’s “the chosen one” and that everything lies with her; they joined her after she helped them with their clan’s needs. Her selflessness and her compassion to those around her are the “light” of her character.
This brought her downfall at first when Norah, who turns out to be an evil step-sister because fairy tales, used that flaw to set a trap. Aurora falls into the hands of Umbra because she chose her father over Lemuria. This goes into a secondary theme which I’ll get to with the other characters, but Aurora, as crushing as it was, had to think about the people of Lemuria over her father…to which the latter was proud of in his final moments.
She isn’t with out her flaws. Though she is compassionate, her main goal throughout the first half was to get back home to her father since he was dying. It brought her despair to leave her peers behind, but, since she’s lived with the duke alone for years, she couldn’t bring herself to leave him as he’s dying and the kingdom is flooding.
Aurora’s story is about selflessness and doing the greater good, not for herself, but for the people around her. It’s reminiscent of Link from Majora’s Mask, who went from being the chosen one in Ocarina of Time to being a selfless nobody saving everyone in Termina from the moon and from their own problems even if they never remember him. To me, Aurora is a shining star in the “hero” protagonist trope and I’m glad that what seems like a dying art can still be as inspiring and well-written as those heroes of the past.
The Calvary: Your Part
The other characters in the story represent a lot of things for both the plot and to their own character arcs. Each of them support Aurora’s belief in the people rather than royal bloodline. Each of them were hurt by Umbra in some way yet still fight for Lemuria. Without them, Aurora, no matter how strong she is, would never have survived the journey. By the end, in a sort-of shoved in theme but kind of works, each of them abandon their personal vendetta against the dark queen in favor of doing it for their country and their people. The people saved Lemuria, not Aurora.
Admittedly, this game is very plot central on Aurora’s perspective. The major events don’t include personal moments between the party, just Aurora and her story. However, that doesn’t mean the game ignores their character either. Like many adventure games, their a colorful cast of characters with their own distinct personality from different backgrounds. What connects them together is their search of belonging, their identity; which, to me, is the game’s second most important theme.
Rubella: The Jester Who Can’t Rhyme
Rubella is the first party member to join Aurora and the primary healer of the group. She is a member of the Aerostati Clan who live amongst the clouds in air balloons. She joins Aurora on her journey to find her brother, Tristis, who has left to join the circus on his own even though the plan was for both of them to go. Once found by himself after being thrown out, she convinces him that they don’t need the circus to be a two-act performance, rather finding such place amongst the warriors fighting for Lemuria.
On that note…
Tristis: The Jester Who Can Rhyme…For The Price of Crippling Depression
Tristis is an optional party member later on in the first half of the story and is an exceptional stat buffer for the party. He is a poetic downer who was unfortunately kicked out of the circus for not being humorous enough. After joining the party, I feel like both of their character arcs are not as fleshed out as the others. I think Rubella has a trait of wanting to be a warrior, since she took pride in it in a conversation with Oengus and talks about fighting alongside her peers as much as how much she talks about the circus. Tristis is a depressed man trying to find a bit of happiness, which lasts so little the faintest sight of it made Aurora want to record it. It bounces off the jolly and cheerful dialogue of the other characters, and is ironically pretty funny. He has a very wise, poetic aura to him as if he’s experienced so much life that he can comment on the joys and sadness of it. I did find his character more interesting, but these two end up not getting a lot of development.
Finn: When That One Joke From Howl Becomes A Whole Character
Finn is a 15 year old Capulli who is the 3rd party member to join the Calvary. A cowardly magician who’s essentially the game’s Avatar, he joins Aurora when she decides to free the Capulli, turned into Cows, from Umbra’s spell. Afterwards, he joins her to face the darkness. Though he’s scared, he goes on this journey to be braver than he is and to prove to his grandpa that he can be a good spellcaster.
He’s one of my favorites in the game due to his unique appearance and his exceptional stats, possibly the hardest hitting character in the game. His crying and cowardly nature makes him more relatable rather than annoying since he’s a very useful member of the party. There’s also a adorable naivety to him since he’s so young, leading to some interesting but humorous moments with the other characters. By the end of the game, he gets acknowledgement and praise from his hard-hearted grandfather, showing how much he’s grown since his bitch’en at the start. Other than that, there isn’t a lot of interesting lore surrounding him and his conversations don’t lead to a lot of real character relationships. He’s a good’un, but that’s about as far is it goes.
Robert: When Mice Spread Capitalism Instead of Diseases
Robert is a Populli capitalist who joins Aurora as the 5th member, serving as the archer of the group. His introduction, unlike the others, is done with a twist. While you have to solve a problem with the clan and he joins you, Robert has clear alterior in the form of being with Margerrette and his traits of making as much money as possible in any way makes it seem he doesn’t care for Magnus, the giant who carries the city of the Poppuli. Even though he did help and later joins, his mind is still on profit and banging, making him an anti-hero of sorts. Yet his isn’t a jerk or someone who looks down on people. The opposite happens: he sees opportunity through them with glee and his curiosity for the others shows he cares enough. Plus, when it comes to his love for Margarette, he never thinks of dirty schemes to win her heart. He tries his hardest to be the best at capital and being a hero as possible to impress her.
I love Robert so much, even though I do find his play style a bit redundant and bland, because he’s such a capitalist with a heart and his personality stands out so well with the others. The best thing I learned is that he didn’t just marry Margarette, his son later stars in his own picture story based 2 years after the game titled, “Reginald the Great.” It may not be a sequel, but damn is that beautiful.
Oengus: Zuko if he wasn’t a villain and didn’t have a disgusting, pulsating scar on his face
Oengus is the Kategida outcast and the forced slave of Umbra who manages to save Aurora from her captivity and convince her to continue her quest. He serves as a physical powerhouse who takes hits like a champ. Oengus was there with his clan when Umbra and her two serpents attacked the kingdom. He turned himself into a servant of Umbra in order to save his clan, but this dishonorable act would later get him kicked out by his brother. Now, he helps Aurora to right his wrongs and stop Umbra’s reign of terror.
Oengus is my second favorite character in the game. Not just because of his insta-kill rate and attack power, but because of how much I care for the guy. He’s an honorable warrior who threw that away to save his kind, but was thrown out because of it. Despite his behemoth demeanor, he’s a knowledgeable and good-hearted warrior who’s not afraid to be vulnerable. When his brother welcomes him with open arms after helping the princess so many times, it feels rewarding. Thinking about it, the loner but honorable character trope is one of my favorite. From Amarant from FF9 to the masterclass himself Dinobot from Beast Wars, these characters stay with me because their flawed yet have a sense of honor that sometimes gets questioned. They have a redemption-arc aspect about them that feels real and engaging. I love these characters whenever they appear.
It could also be the fact that, under all that armor, is apparently a being smaller than a 13 year old.
Gen: Short-lived Yet Still Impactful…and that’s not a joke on her height
Genovefa, or Gen for short, is a Piscean girl who is the final party member to join the Calvary. A user of “speed magic,” which I’ll go more in depth later, she is found with her Grandfather in a small village along the Lemurian Sea. Her plight is that an ogre, who usually protects the caves where the submerged Temple of the Sun lies, has been kidnapping her people since the rise of Umbra. Like normal, you go to the thing and defeat the boss but, in a depressing turn, it’s revealed her parents were already eaten. Aurora is forced to tell Gen the truth, to which the depressed and enraged girl joins the Calvary to stop Umbra as revenege.
Truth be told, before my playthrough, I actually thought her parents survived and was the reason why she was a forgettable character. It didn’t help that I knew she came in so late into the game, right before the final temple and last boss. I do think this still ends up not allowing you to get used to her well enough, and part of me wishes the game extended so she could feel more at home like the rest of the party. But the revelation that, unlike everyone else, you were too late to help her and that there is no way to revive her parents made it work.
Gen is short lived yet her story is so profound you still end up caring and sympathizing with her, and the way Aurora uses her flute as a requiem rather than outright telling her is tragic. It’s hard being told your parent’s are dead; it’s heartbreaking seeing the confirmation of other’s sadness and putting two-and-two together. Considering that Aurora prioritized going to her father over her journey and the trap that occurred, it makes me wonder if Aurora could have saved Gen’s parents if she got the moon and the sun and never met Norah. Whether or not this is possible, it’s seriously impressive to me that they didn’t go the easy route. In a game with such heartwarming and wholesome moments, Gen’s story reminds us of the dire situation of Umbra’s rule and how she needs to be defeated. Gen’s short time may suck, but when she faces Umbra it’s cathartic. I just wish we got to know what happened to her.
Golem: The Defender of Lemuria, now a Castaway
Golem is a man of rock who was a part of the Golem’s Plight DLC and is included on all Ultimate Versions of the game. A defensive unit with moves to slow enemies down, he can either be the second or last party member you get since he’s found in the prickly tree right next to the Alter. Once a guardian of the castle for 300 years, he was cast out and disassembled by Umbra. Once Aurora puts him back together, he joins the Calvary to defeat the evil queen and find his missing piece, which he doesn’t know where it is and makes him feel empty inside.
Golem ended up being my third favorite character due to his story arc of finding his missing rock piece, which is a metaphor finding purpose in your life in order to fill in the emptiness within us. A lot of the times he tells that he was made to be a guard, to which other characters whether or not that’s real freedom. One of my favorite interactions happens with Oengus. Both of them compliment each other, whoever Golem doesn’t feel comfortable being called solid since he sees himself hollow without his missing piece. Oengus tells them that’s nature to feel incomplete, and that our journey’s to are always continuous and interconnected. He tells Golem to not feel sad since he’s still coming together. Like the Kategida member, Golem is old and wise yet feels no purpose. Their interaction together is very philosophical yet helps develop Golem, which is later shown through his interaction with Gen. When Gen is grieving and feels that she lost a part of her when her parents died, Golem is there to tell her that no one is perfect and that they are always going to find their missing piece with people a long the way.
In short, while the cutscenes for these characters are short and not integral to the plot, their interactions and banter help show that they are a party of people who trust, care about, and mess with each other. It shows great chemistry between them, from small humorous scenes like when they can’t believe Oengus is actually a tiny man to meaningful connections like Golem and Gen’s interaction, and proves that they were the best thing for Lemuria. Child of Light may be a plot-based story, but it’s dedication to it’s main party is beautiful.
Now for the elephant in the room…
Norah: The Villain You Feel No Sympathy For
Now, Norah is a party member. She joins right after Finn and introduces herself as Aurora’s older sister, entering Lemuria through a mirror at the top of the castle. She eagerly joins her little sister on her quest back home, become the party’s main buffer and debuffer. However, while Robert was an interesting anti-hero who still manages to be nice, notable character interactions show Norah as passively aggressive and elitist. She says with the same happy smile, yet you can tell she doesn’t respect Finn or Rubella as peers, talking down to them in her cheerful demeanor. This contrasts Aurora since she talks to them like normal people. It easily establishes her as a character who needs development, and since she’s royalty you can put two-and-two together that it’ll be about treating peasants as people.
This trait explodes with Robert and the Populli. Despite the people’s capitalist behavior, she just outright calls them vermin like she has a Dinobot pass. She’s the only one to catch Robert’s alterior motive and questions why he’s helping them, but it’s filled with so much malice that it leans more towards hatred than actually catching a potential betrayal. Norah even tries to lure Aurora away several times from the rat. However, by this point, Norah’s character still comes off as just royal elitism rather than a future villain. But, surprise surprise, it turns out that Norah is actually Nox and was luring Aurora to a trap. She’s kind of like the Aeris of the game except, instead of dying, she permanently joins the villains or was a part of them from the beginning.
Norah is the most interesting antagonist to me because, while retaining the same traits as Umbra, she was a part of your team for a while. Many of her interactions foreshadow her betrayal but also reveals a lot of her character, making the twist believable and giving depths to what could have been an okay villain. While Umbra’s boss fight is satisfying because it concludes the story, Nox’s boss fight feels a lot more meaningful since both has you fighting a party member who betrayed you but also feels like a conflict between the two sister’s ideals when it comes to commoners. Nox’s execution as a character is effective because she was a party member, and kicking her ass after her snippy attitude and heel-turn made for a refreshing experience.
It could also be that I thought that, when she left, she took the Oculi from my bag. I don’t have any evidence for that being a mechanic, but it sure as hell fueled me to beat her serpent form.
Gameplay: Complex for 13 hours
The game takes place in a 2d plane as you explore the forests and skies of Lemuria. You start out running to your destinations, making your way through block puzzles and lighting the way with Igniculus. The firefly can be controlled by the 2nd stick and can do a number of things. Dark areas are lit by his light to see better.
Enemies, very much like Earthbound and Chrono Trigger (where this idea really comes from), roam around waiting to attack. The way they fly or walk around actually adds to the worldbuilding since most of them are animals or animal like, feeling like their really part of the environment. With Igniculus’s light using the the R button, you can blind them to avoid fights or initiate fights from the back to do a surprise attack.
Around Lemuria are these glowing flowers. Touching them with Aurora or Igniculus releases the spores in a row. If you get them in the right order, the spores become health and MP for the party. Two blue orbs hang around the world and dungeons, one being treasure chests for Igniculus to charge with light to open or buttons that must be charged to open doors or turn off traps for a time. Finally, lighting Igniculus near Aurora recovers her health. The little firefly is an integral part of the game that doesn’t feel too overpowered, due to a meter, but never too useless.
The beginning never feels out of place or unnecessary because all the puzzles were teaching you how to do it for when they become adjusted for your flying. Unlike a Metroid game or Mario game, where flying would make things a hell of a lot easier, the game structure around it still gives it challenge and rewards players to do things that most RPGS wouldn’t allow you to.
After the first boss, Aurora is gifted the greatest thing a little girl can have…Barbies-I mean Wings! Like Tinker Bell, Aurora can fly through the sky to reach otherwise unobtainable treasure chests and secrets. The game’s layout really flows around flight rather than walking around, which makes for a unique 2d experience.
The Oculi System
The Oculi System is the equipment and crafting system of the game. Oculi are gems of varying colors found from chests, by enemies, and as rewards. The first, primary oculi colors are Ruby red, Sapphire blue, and…Emerald green? I guess that they wanted lightning to not be represented by yellow. This is the bases of the system: color and grade.
Crafting involves combining colors together based on the grade of the Oculi. There’s rough, tumbled, faceted, and brilliant (which is just a Diamond). You can only combine Oculi of the same grade. With colors, this is more diverse. You can do all 3 of a red rough to get one red tumbled, or you can combine a red and blue rough to create a purple rough, or you can combine all 3 of the primary or combined oculi to create either black or white. You can then combine the two to get Spinel, which I can only describe as hamburger puke. Finally, when you have a diamond of black, white, and hamburger puke…I’ll let you find out.
It’s a solid crafting system for a short game, having just enough to the point where it isn’t too complicated. However, the options become so little that the charm dies by the end. At the start, you’re building up your bling but, once you know it, it devolves into just getting diamonds. Repeat playthroughs don’t add to crafting since will just be getting 10 usable equipment. The feeling of experimentation is short lived. But, the game makes up for it with how you equip your gems.
I wish more games did this because it turns a limited pool of items into something unique and interesting. It asks the question: how do you want to equip this item? Do you want to give your characters resistance to an element in this location, like lightning, with an Emerald, or give the character more MP for spells. It’s fun mixing and matching slots to see which ability is the most effective for the character or situation. I honestly haven’t had this much fun with equipment since the esper system from Final Fantasy 6. Where the crafting of oculi gets dull, it’s how you use them that gives the Oculi System life.
Every character has 3 equippable slots: attack, defense, and miscellaneous. Let’s say you have a red occuli be equipped on a character’s attack slot. They would have fire imbued into their physical attacks. Seems normal, but this isn’t the end of it. Equipping it to the miscellaneous slot gives the character a passive ability to which it raises evasion when casting spells. This is the fun of the system because one oculi has 3 differing abilities that you can choose to use.
The Skills System
Leveling up in Child of Light gives the usual stat boosts but also skill points. The skill tree gives you the freedom to choose what further stat boosts and skills your characters want. Every character gets around 7-8 skills spread in different looking branches, all ranked form 1 star to 3 stars. As you progress, some branches have a passive skill along with them.
I’m not very knowledgeable when it comes to skill tree systems as this was my first game really experiencing it…unless I have before and I’m just not remembering. I have to say, it’s pretty fun. Choosing when you want something or investing your points into a skill down the road adds a lot of customization and planning to an RPG, which is what I love about the genre.
Unfortunately, since I did New Game Plus, I kept all of my choices so I ended up not enjoying it as much since I had the ability to complete all trees by the end. Though a noob to the skill tree, I think Child of Light’s ends up inconsequential. From what I’ve seen of others, it’s about building your character the way you want them.
This doesn’t work for Child of Light since, as someone who unlocked all the skills, it’s not a good idea to have only one branch. Doing so would do things like only giving Finn Fire and Water or only giving Oengus upgrades to his slash while missing out on his boosts. Every character has their selective roles in the party, meaning that branches don’t lead to different jobs. It’s more like spreading their preexisting job around and you get to choose what to invest first. I can see the argument from players more sued to this system that they should have just done a linear skill system instead. It has its own merits, but the end result begs the question of “what’s the point.”
Combat: 2 against 3, I like these odds
Once initiating a fight, you’re greeted by Child of Light’s spin of turn based combat: a relay race. Each character starts at the back and, depending on their speed, move from the grey-blue wait section to the red casting section. When one of your characters make it, you can give them and only them actions to do. Once selected, they still continue to move to the end so they can cast their attacks. Enemies follow the same route. You have two party members fighting while the enemies can go up to 3.
While games like Final Fantasy have slow moving bars to create a slow approach to thinking during combat, Child of Light is fun because you have to think on the spot and control the environment. I’ll explain it as best as possible. One of Igniculus’ most useful abilities is the ability to slow enemies during combat. This is great because it allows you give your characters the edge and move faster while your enemy has to move as slow as a slug. Of course, use this sparingly.
All spell casts go from fast to slow, determining how long you stay in the cast zone. this is important to know because if an enemy hits a party member during this time it interrupts them and sends them back to wait. This is applies to enemies as well. Combat becomes a game of casting first and halting enemies before they can do the same to you. If your in control and slow down enemies at the right time, especially when their casting, you can cause a chain effect where you’re constantly going and their constantly getting interrupted. But the same can happen to you.
Most attacks are standard in any RPG, but buffs and debuffs work around the relay-combat. For instance, buffs like Unstoppable prevent you from being interrupted while haste makes it so you go faster than enemies. Debuffs halt your progress, like slow making enemies slow and paralysis stopping them completely for a few seconds. This is what I like to call “speed magic,” and it’s what makes Gen and Tristis such a special character because there entire playstyle is based around this combat. These kinds of buffs and debuffs can be used by enemies, mostly in the form of their counters. Counters happen as a negative to disrupting their casts, making many boss fights tricky since it forces you to let them go when the going gets tough. Some will put up shields, others will put slow on the party, and some can even put Unstoppable on themselves. Nox can do this in her boss fight, and I like to imagine everything she does is my fault.
The best thing about this system is how focused you have to be during fights. None of that mash A while you text your Onlyfans crush, eat a hotpocket, and watch Gundam Unicorn at the same time. While some fights are easy enough to possibly do this, many are challenging that you need to pay attention. It holds your brain and makes you think, constantly casting spells and hoping your little firefly slowing them down is enough to stop them. This kind of combat is what many RPGs strive for.
I found fights gained arbitrary difficulty because of this, forcing fights to be more about defending and healing instead of going on the offensive when 3 enemies overwhelm them. The fun slowly dies because it removes the control players have become so used to. I’m all for difficulty in fights, but I lose interest when I feel the unfair advantage comes from the game forcing it. Constantly switching party members and using potions doesn’t feel like the skills I built up with my characters.
Unfortunately, it suffers in areas. For one, you have two party members fight during combat. All I ask is…why? Two is fine but I never understood why I was stuck with only two and the enemies got 3. As a storyteller, it does show the enemies to be more a threat but, gameplay wise, I never understood the reasoning. This becomes worse when, as you learn, having both party members fall gets an instant game over. I guess the others were too scared to come in.
Finally, the biggest drawback to combat actually comes before the fight begins. In Child of Light, you can’t switch party members in the main menu. You can only do it during combat. I’m sorry, that’s really stupid. For as much preparation as you can get from skills to equipment, not being able to craft your two-party set-up before fights takes away a feeling of control and prep that many RPGS have. Granted, there’s no cost if you switch during battle. However, I don’t see an argument as to why you can’t just do it before, plus having to change up to the members you want can eat up time in the fight. These are small problems, but once they come up they are jarring to the fun and engaging experience Child of Light has to offer.
Since I don’t want to make one post too long, I’ll be saving my thoughts on the music, the graphics, the sidequests, and the secrets (like lore) for the next post. I wanted to focus on the core aspects of Child of Light and save the rest for a part 2. I’m sorry this took too long, meaning the Saber review will likely be delayed since I’ll have to rewatch the hell that was Saber.
For now, before the real overview, I will say that Child of Light’s core elements are well-done. Aurora and the conflict mix so well to create tension and theming, while the characters still have enough depth in their short amount of screen time to make you love them. The Oculi System is experimental in a good way, though crafting leaves a lot to desire. The combat is solid and engaging, with a setback that can ruin the fun. I think this alone sells the game, especially for how short it is. I finished this in a week and, yes, I am failing college because of that. Anyway, I hope to see you soon for my next post. And remember…never expect every Blog or Video ending to have some corny tie-in last line the topic.
Gundam Unicorn: The Beast of Possibility and Posebility
I am a fairly new Gundam fan, watching 00 as a kid and watching bits of Char’s Counterattack. Even though I lack the context of the previous shows in the Universal Century, Gundam Unicorn is still an incredible experience to be hold and has become one of my favorite animes of all time
Set in the Universal Century, in the year UC 0096 3 years after the events of Char’s Counterattack, the conflict between the Earth Federation and Neo Zeon, known as the Sleeves, is still underway due to an item known as Laplace’s box, the secret of the century itself. The Vist Foundation, who has kept the secret of the box for decades, now wants to give the Sleeves the box through the use of its key, an experimental Mobile Suit resembling a unicorn.
Banagher Links, an engineer student on Space Colony 7, has a chance encounter with Mineva Zabi, calling herself Audrey, who wants to stop a war between the two factions. During the scheduled meeting, the Earth Federation caught wind of the deal and causes a battle within the colony. As Banagher tries to find Audrey during the chaos, he stumbles upon the unicorn and Cardeas Vist. Entrusted with the suit as the finder of Laplace’s Box, the boy sets out to find Audrey and stop the Sleeves. In the midst of the battle, all bear witness as the white mobile transforms into the white devil itself: a Gundam.
While many of the major characters lack depth and development, Gundam Unicorn is a beautiful representation of giant robots in real military situations…in space. The show’s philosophy of Human potential and what war can do, it’s worldbuilding between both factions built up from past entries, to the fight scenes with incredible animation and sound design makes for one of most theatrical, grounded, and stellar experiences I’ve ever had.
Squid Game: Doesn’t Contain Squids
Admittedly, I only watched a couple of episodes till ep 5. However, the experience was just as thrilling and horrifying. It may not be the most original idea, but it’s a mainstream show that is incredible with its execution.
In this Korean survival horror, several hundred players, all in crippling debt as societies outcasts, are chosen by the Front Men to play a series of children’s games for the chance of millions of won(Korea’s currency). However, the catch is that those fail at the games, try to escape, or refuse to play under contract are killed. With each protagonist at the edge of their struggle, they now have nothing to lose but everything to gain as each death racks up in more cash. At the same time, a detective looking for his brother infiltrates the sadistic cooperation running the game to find out what their hiding and the purpose to this massacre.
Like I said, it’s not the most original in concept, but it’s so good in executing its ideas that it might as well have created them from scratch. The characters are relatable, unless your a nobody, and the tension with every game is so horrifying that deaths stick. However, unlike others that I’ve seen from this kind of story, nothing feels forced. The games are made to be fair, and a collective vote even allows players to leave. Everything feels like natural, allowing for the story to talk about its themes without it coming out of nowhere. Plus, it still has a few surprises. I haven’t finished it yet, but it’s worth you time.
Kamen Rider Revice: One Man, His Stand, And Two Riders
Oh my god, a good Kamen Rider series! I’ll admit it, from Zi-O to Saber, the Kamen Rider series has been growing stale from choppy writing to failed concepts. Also the toys have been getting out-of-hand, which sucks since previous series have managed to handle them in unique and believable ways. But Revice has been a treat to watch and has become a way better anniversary series than Zi-O.
Set in a world where Kamen Riders are common knowledge, a mysterious stamp artifact was discovered in South America 50 years in the past. In the present, the organization Fenix is dealing with demon worshippers known as the Deadmen who summon Deadmans from the inner demons of people using Vistamps. Their only hope is through the use of a Driver and a warrior known as Revice, who will fight alongside his inner demon.
At the same time, Ikki Igarashi is the son of a spa running family who’s recently been dealing with a demon only he can see. He is a man who gave up his dream in order to help with the family business while his brother, Daiji, rises up the ranks as a Fenix member. He is also the man chosen to be Revice. When the Deadmen attack Daiji’s ceremony and he fears becoming the Rider, Ikki makes a deal with the invisible devil and puts on the belt. The two of them become the warrior based on the T-Rex Revice, split as Kamen Rider Revi and Kamen Rider Vice. Together, they help Fenix and Japan during these dark times as people lose themselves to the desires of their inner evil.
What I find endearing about Revice is how over-the-top yet simple the show is. Compared to Saber’s Wonder World and Zero-One’s Humagear world, Revice feels like the real world with a Kamen Rider (this could be due to less Co-vid restrictions). Background characters may not be important but have enough relevance to make me believe that they matter. The show has a Double and OOO’s feel to it, and the simplicity allows for less worldbuilding errors that plagued the two Reiwa series before. I also love how the writing focuses on character rather than plot, something that Saber failed at both ends, making twists surprising due to being based around the characters. It’s only 7 episodes in but Revice’s grounded but supernatural tone, combined with its Kuuga like approach to people, wacky humor, and good writing, easily makes it the better of the 3 Reiwa shows already. I pray to the Tokusatsu that nothing goes wrong. I can’t take another disappointment.
Star Tre-I mean Star Wars! The gripping science fiction masterpiece that’s spawned so many different story mediums Disney had to make it all non-canon just because it’s too f@cking big. Like my lightsaber. Farm boys becoming ace pilots, X-wings swimming through space to evade bow ties, and sword wielding mages fighting to protect or enslave the galaxy. Star Wars is an awe-inspiring science fiction franchise and, to me, the science fiction franchise that many see today as historically relevant and genre breaking.
I would say I’m a major fan of the franchise, but I’ve mostly viewed the movies and shows, for better and for worst. Reylo makes me sick. I was an avid fan of the first 6 movies, my jaw dropping at the Death Star imploding in Ep4 and Anakin and Obi-wan fighting their way through General Grievous’ ship in Ep 3. This was my jam as a kid, never getting tired of sword fights and incredible set pieces…well, except for the shitty CG added to the original. Funnily enough, I used to think that the prequel trilogy was made first before the original. My 6-year-old brain never noticed how old Ep 4 was. .
However, despite this love, I never really went out of my way to experience the all-expansive Expanded Universe much (Legends now, if you’re a newbie), only playing Dark Forces, reading 2 books, and watching the Old Republic trailers. Now, like many properties growing up, my computer was slow as balls, so I never learned there was such thing as an EU past middle school. Same thing with Nintendo; I legitimately thought every character in Melee only existed in Melee. While it’s exciting and refreshing to finally experience some of the EU content, I couldn’t get into it because of how big it was. Like my lightsaber. I compare it to the Bionicle lore, except even more massive. As stupid as it was making EU non-canon, I could almost agree with some of the logic considering no general audience is gonna read, watch, or play all the sh@t to understand a sequel trilogy. Then again, to my dismay, my journey into the EU turned out to not be confusing at all, especially Darth Plagues, so what do I know. In any case, I love this franchise. Anything from the EU is a genuinely exciting feeling and brings back the adventure of discovering something new, and I do think Star Wars is in good hands with Filoni. If only a certain KK would leave already.
So, why I am rambling and not diving head first into the game? One, cause I have the keyboard. Two, setting the scene. One aspect about Star Wars that’s interesting is the latter war. The Prequals would end up showing how war is in this franchise, with the movies and Clone Wars giving a full in-depth look into the different conflicts the Jedi and the clones went through against the several Separatist and 3rd party enemies. While I did find Clone Wars to be a masterpiece, and especially helped with the viewing of the prequals, there is one game before that showed not only a uniquely grim side of the war, but also the fact that clones have personality. Republic Commando; the black ops story of the Republic. Ever wonder who takes care of the behind the scenes during the war? You didn’t? Too bad, here it is.
Republic Commando: No Fancy Weapons and Ancient Religions Here
Created by Lucasfilm in 2005, released on PC and Xbox, this game is about a black ops team of commandos performing several missions during the years of the war while being as unprofessional and professional as possible. It’s incredible how much they walk that thin line. With Temuera Morrison returning to play Boss, the playable character, a slew of talented voice actors giving it their all, and more violence than usual in a Star Wars game, Republic Commando sets itself apart as a hard-edged game while managing to balance the grittiness with bantering humor.
The Story: Uhh…
It isn’t…much of a story per say. There is a consistent plot within, but each campaign is essentially its own thing. The game starts with a montage of Boss’s life, being bred by the noodle necks to be trained in the republic’s new, totally-not-shady, clone army. However, unlike many of his brethren, Boss is trained to become a Commando, an elite soldier specialized for infiltration mission(despite the fact that their given one of the best guns in the army considering it can be customized to be a machine gun, a sniper rifle, and an actual grenade launcher. Someone knowledgably in Legends explain this to me, because Regs would live longer if they had this). However, he isn’t alone, as he’s chosen to be the leader of Delta Squad, consisting of: Scorch, the demolition expert who’s got something to say every 10 minutes, Fixer, the no-shit attitude soldier who follows orders and quiets banter, and Sev, the murderous sniper who counts kill and banters a lot with Scorch. Okay, Filoni, we all know you played this before making Bad Batch. Afterwards, Boss is seen outside as everyone is loading up for Geonosia during Ep 2. Once you enter the Republic Gunship, it’s time to rack your kills.
There are 3 campaign missions based on a world(or a ship): Geonosis, the Prosecutor, and Kashyyyk. While that sounds short, each campaign lasts a while with several different missions within. And lots of enemies.
Geonosis: Pest Control
Something of a side story during Ep 2, Delta Sqaud to take out of Sun Fac, a Geonosian leader with a beautiful, evil beard like chin. You meet each of your squad one by one as you make your way, while simultaneously taking care of other missions behind the scenes to give a Republic their first edge in this starting war.
The Prosecutor: Because All Republic Ships have to Enforce the Fact That They Are The Ruling Government
Delta Squad is going deep into space when a republic cruiser, their first home, has mysteriously stopped all contact and has been found damaged in a sector it shouldn’t be in. The squad splits up to receive data on what exactly happened, slowly realizing the horror of a new alliance brewing for the separatist faction.
Kashyyyk: Even the name is asking “Why!”
Sometime during the timeline of Ep 3, this new alliance comes into play in the final mission, where the Wookies are under threat of invasion. The first task is to save their leader, Tarfful, before breaking out into all-out war to secure the Wookie civilization away from separatist tyranny. All mechanics come together in this race of time to prove Ki-Adi-Mundi right.
I appreciate how Delta Squad’s story is this small part of the prequal trilogy while still feeling like a fully fleshed story on its own. It’s paced well due to its constant action, but it allows for slow and downright creepy moments, especially the 2nd mission. This special ops perspective gives a different and unique look to the franchise and world; a perspective lacking in the safe and magical feeling the Jedi always gave us.
Solo: Shoot First, Ask Questions Never
The game mechanics are split into two different categories: solo and team. On your own, the game is a standard FPS. You’ve got the guns, the bombs, and the armor to take out anything in your path. Besides the customizable DC-17m, you’ve got a pistol with unlimited rounds, an arm blade to cut NEEEECKS, and enemy weapons that are either dropped by them or just lying around carelessly. From the Geonosian Arm Cannon to the Wookie Bowcaster, there is a lot of variety for play that keeps fire fights from becoming stale.
There are some rules to weaponry to keep in mind. There are different grenades for different situations that don’t work in others, like the flash grenade to stun organics and the EMP for mechanical foes. Enemies require logical strategies to conserve as much ammo as you’ll want or need for the next level, as transitions to the next section (sometimes) doesn’t replenish it in a way like Metal Arms. Will you use grenades or the grenade launcher to quickly deal with Supers or save it in case you’re in a swarm of enemies later on? I never really noticed, but enemy weaponry is said to not be as effective against their maker.
I went back to test this and I noticed a few things, and the few things are that it doesn’t matter! The in-between level text was added to the switch (unless the PC version just didn’t have this) and that’s where the quote came from. Spoilers, the Trando shotgun and machine gun and the Geonosian laser beam do the job on their makers. If anything the machine gun is crap against Super Battle Droids, and even then they’re hard with the standard weaponry the commandos get. I’m not quite sure what they’re referring to. Maybe this was a feature meant for the game but was never implemented? Maybe the writers for the quotes weren’t informed? I don’t know, either way it probably would have ruined the streamline and creativity of fights anyway if the enemy guns didn’t work on the enemies.
Here’s a segment of videos showing it off:
Movement is pretty standard, though I wouldn’t get used to the jump button like Mario. You’ll use the left stick to move to run around while you use the right for camera/aim. And… it’s pretty clunky on the Switch. Unlike the accuracy of a computer mouse, I have a difficult time aiming at enemies because of how sensitive the camera movement is. The wired controller for dock mode is a lot better, but playing hand held can be frustrating. Starting out the first time, I stared at droids with a deadly grin while using 20 bullets to kill one. There is a zoom in button and assist aim, and enough practice will help, but expect some sluggish controls at the beginning.
However, and I’m not sure if this is in the other versions, there is an apparent limit to how much you can move the camera left and right. Unfortunately, there is a constant glitch where the camera will just sky rocket all the way in different direction, mostly up and down. Because of this, it moves the camera to its limit, so it appears as if it got locked from that position. This gets infuriating during combat because it makes it so you can’t hit enemies on either side. This is, unfortunately, the beginning of this port’s problems.
Here’s an example:
Finally, since there are levels where you’re on your own, it’s best to understand the solo mechanics well because the game is way harder when it’s by yourself. When you die with your team, you can command them to revive you, prompting some funny lines and moments. When you die alone, it’s game over. Luckily, these levels accommodate your loneliness, so it never “feels” like you need the team in these moments. I’ll admit, I enjoy these sections because the game becomes a solid single FPS, allowing you appreciate the rest of the game for managing to balance both, and listening in to your squad do their part.
Together: Boys will be boys, Clones will be murder machines.
The game’s best mechanic is its command controls with the team. While dealing with blaster fire, you have to command and navigate the team effectively if you hope to get through a level in relatively one piece.
The A Button: If Only We Had This In Real Life.
The A button is your best friend when performing quick commands, something the devs did to ease Star Wars players into this kind of tactical FPS genre. Throughout each level, there will be interactive objects for you or your team to use in order to advance, such as hackable data terminals, sniping positions, and bombable walls. The coolest one is door breaches, where you can choose to either go into a room quietly by hacking the controls or performing an actual break in procedure by placing a small charge on the door.
The process of simply pressing A is seamless and fun, with the only nitpick being the lack of control of who goes to do what and sometimes making a squad member do a task despite the fact you’re standing right in front of the thing! Plus, only squad members can use sniping positions. The way the game sends squad members is that it makes the closest one or the one who isn’t doing anything do the task, while with bacta it’s the person with sustained damage.
I understand that having the option to choose a member breaks the quick pace and concentration during fire, which is perfectly fine, but I wish I could choose which member does what because I have to rely on either the game choosing for me or meticulously manipulating it to what I want, which is a lot slower. The game gave the squad member’s specialties to reduce the time spent on a task: Fixer is quick with datapads, Sev is good at sniping, and Scorch is faster with detonators. It’s agitating watching Fixer be put in sniper duty and having to rely on Sev or Scorch to take so long on a terminal. Not being able to choose who does what and rely on luck in the situation, I feel, take as bit away from player control.
By the way, besides doing commands, you are the only one who can detonate charges, meaning you have to rely on squad members to revive you if you die. The game is difficult for many good reasons, but its stuff like this that feels arbitrary.
Advanced Maneuvers: When A Really Becomes the Best Button
When you hold A, you bring up four maneuvers/tactics that the team will follow:
-Form up: When you want the squad to stay close together
-Seek and Destroy: An offensive position where squad members roam around to find and kill enemies.
-Secure Area: A defensive position where they stay to protect a single spot.
-Cancel All: This is best for when you have every member doing something, i.e sniping or taking a torrent, and you need to move on. It’s a faster way to tell them to get your ass over hear instead of pressing A to individually cancel each position.
The Helmet: Micromanaging All in One Space
On your own, it’s just about using low light when it’s too hard to see (which makes the abandoned ship level so much better for its lonely atmosphere), your own health, ammo on the gun, and which grenade is equipped. But, to explain why I saved it for this section, the part that draws a lot of attention is your team members health, located on the bottom left. Green is good, yellow is worrisome, and orange is when you get a man some bacta. Normal or hard, you’re gonna want to pay attention to this so you know who needs health and needs cover when your being overrun. If you’re in a situation where a member or 2 (or all sometimes), it becomes crucial to get this menu stuck in your routine.
Overview of Squad Commands
The difficulty in Republic Commando comes from this balancing act of completing the objective, killing enemies, and creating damage control through commands. Because of how straight forward and non-linear they are, it allows for creative experimentation on multiple replays, seeing which different strategies work best or worse in a given situation. It’s not very complex, although some would be nice, but the devs implemented in a way where it doesn’t hinder the intensity of fights. It’s the perfect blend that reinforces the team aspect of Delta Squad. It’s engaging as hell and never gets boring thanks to the way each level is made and paced. I’d say this game mechanic it was solidified Republic Commando as the perfect videogame: fun and replayable.
Enemies: They’ve Sent In the Supers!
To reference a past game, one of the things I adored about Metal Arms was its enemies and A.I. They each packed a punch, even the lowly grunts when they’re together in groups. It required a lot of patience and strategy to take them down within each level, but it allowed every weapon to be used against them in creative ways. Plus, they were great at duking out damage and simultaneously crapping on you for being a scrub.
Republic Commando has its own slew of enemies, though some are more difficult than others. If you seriously die to a regular battle droid that was not from behind or from previous damage, you need to git gud. If you died because the camera messed up, well then you get a pass and a beer for my empathy. Super Battle Droids, on the other hand, will decimate you. I’m gonna say it, this is the best iteration of the Supes in the franchise (I know I talked about not knowing the EU. I meant be the best I’ve seen). The shows and Battlefront make them out to be as expendable as tin cans, but this game portrayed them as hulking, heavily armored terminators that take a beating just to damage a portion of the shell. Their rocket launchers hit hard, they take more than just regular shots to kill, and they sometimes still go on even when their legs stop working. Somehow, Supes being walking tanks are more terrifying in this game than the Droidekas, also named Destroyers. Let that sink in. Their difficulty is reminiscent the Metal Arms Titans, especially their heavy weaponry and mountains of armor. I’d love to see a death battle between them.
The other typical enemies are the organics. Geonosians become difficult due to their flying tactics, mostly seen with the Elites, and close combat attacks with a spear, plus their babies. The best way to describe their children is like a baby xenomorph who’s born in a sort of midway point to the adult Xeno. They use the dark areas where they’re born to screech like demons and spit acid at you. Gonna say it, I don’t feel bad murdering the little shits. Then there are the, spoilers, Trandoshans. These guys are a huge nuisance, especially in the second campaign. One of their tactics is coming out of literally nowhere. Vents? Trandos. Corner? Trandos. A f@cking tree? Lizard! They’re a lot smarter with their A.I, such as picking up your grenades and throwing them back. Other than that, they have… jetpacks? The ones with machines guns have these strange backpacks which I’m not sure what’s it used for, but it sends them flying in a blazing glory when you fire at it. Finally, the Trando Elites are these hulking hulks who uses a Gatling guns of death, murder, and eviscerations. They’re pretty much the trando version of Supes, but they’re a lot easier in my opinion. First appearance is great, especially how they show him physical crushing clones like their nothing, but that first appearance is quickly diminished since they appear in areas with a lot of wiggle room compared to the choking hallways Supes are found.
Humor: My Ways Both Confuse and Disturb Scorch
Let’s be real, the best thing about Republic Commando is the commandos themselves. In a game full of death and violence, their constant quips and bantering during levels gives life to the grim situations, eases the tension, and gives character to them behind the mask. Most of it consists of Scorch and Sev talking smack to each, Fixer having enough of their shit, Scorch making commentary like how he can’t remember if it’s the green wire or red wire (and he’s supposed to be the demolition expert); Boss sometimes making comments to himself while Fixer asks about it, Fixer once complaining about a Wookie in the middle of crossfire but hesitating when Scorch says that he should tell them and so many other quips and lines, and Sev just letting out some disturbing facts. It’s so much that I had to make a poorly structured list just to fit a general synopsis of their humor.
Here’s a few of my favorite:
Even cutscenes have some fun little moments, such as the squad helping each other adjust their backpacks, Sev zoning out when he was supposed to press the elevator button, Scorch and Sev having some brotherly fights, and many. It brings a nice breath of air in between the tense moments, and gives real character to a squad that otherwise never gets development (this isn’t one of those games). They aren’t just mindless soldiers, they’re real people who have a sick sense of humor. The humor itself helps them stick out from the rest of the clones, even the ones in Clone Wars, but also allows for the serious situation are never downplayed. It’s well balanced to perfection and you’ll leave the game hearing their quotes in your head for months.
Attention to Detail: This is Where the Fun Begins
I’m currently learning how important attention to detail really is for a piece of art medium. While it may appear that little things shouldn’t matter, it greatly elevates it because it shows how careful the writer, developer, or whoever was with the art. The creators of Republic Commando went out of there way to immerse you into the world in a very flawless way.
The first mission alone sets up the quality and tone of the game, right as you watch a fellow clone get snagged and killed in first minute. Now, whoever did the sound design is a god because it has weight and is satisfyingly crisp. As you move through the battlefield, you hear gun shots, clones screaming for their lives, the devilish roars of Geonosians, bombs going off, and so much chaos that it creates the perfect war environment. The coms have a nice static and low frequency to them like a real radio. The sound of your gun is effective at giving “umph” to attacks, much like the impact the guns in Metal Arms had. The best part is that no music plays; It allows the environment to speak for itself rather than dramatic music. A perfect first level to lay down what you’ll expect.
Other little sound and seeable details include:
-The sound of steam when you reload
-Reverb in large, chasm like places to create an echo effect.
-The shink of your vibroblade
-The robotic sound effect for droids
-The little click and clacks of armor and footprints
There is also a lot of smaller things that gives the game more life:
-Commandos limp when heavily hurt
-The DC-17m, when in the standard mode, has this little rivet at the end of the muzzle that ricochets as you fire.
-The weird claws of the Geonosian gun “tapping” your arm like a bug. It’s it…trying to dig in but can’t cause of the armor?
-The squad doing littles things during cutscenes, mentioned before.
-The little details behind the Super Battle Droid armor, like the little wires and buttons revealed when you blow it off
-Add many more
Soundtrack: *Insert Raging Mandalorian Language*
It’s okay. A lot it is leans towards the atmospheric side, which greatly adds to the tense tone of the campaign but isn’t that enjoyable outside of that, at least for me. It utilizes pre-existing Star Wars music from the movies which, from what I’ve experienced with Battlefront 2, Dark Forces, and Dark Forces 2, seems to be the go-to way to further cement a Star Wars game as a Star Wars. It brings a nice familiarity considering the game barely has notable Star Wars characters, though I do enjoy its main theme. The Mandalorian chanting has presence, giving a gothic mood like the Commandos are some heavenly force (which they are). Other than that, there isn’t much to say. Great music for in the moment, but not something I’d listen to on my own.
Multiplayer: Escaping the Bull of $20 Internet
Not on the Switch version. I saw some gameplay of it while writing this and it actually looked fun. With the single mode already being pretty tight, I could imagine the multiplayer being a fun FPS like Battlefront. But that’s all for me on that. Let me know in the comments your memories of this cause I do like nostalgia and other’s people nostalgia for stuff.
Like with Metal Arms (Jesus I’m referencing this game a lot), unlockable are just interviews about how the game was made. I love these because, like I’ve stated in previews reviews, you get to understand how the game was made. It gives insight into how the team actually learned from a special ops agent on how to perform the right positions and movement to later implement in the 3d design, how Morrison gave personality to Boss and why he’s the greatest after a spa day, and how the sound designer created the effects. It’s not new maps, it’s not costumes, and it’s not anything that affects the actual game, but it’s there to inform you on how a masterpiece was made if you’re interested. And that, to me, is better than loot crates.
On the history of development, it’s amazing how Republic Commando managed to be this good in what I can only describe as a hostile work environment. Lucasfilm games was going through changes once the prequals came, ending up changing management and going for more “numbers” than unique quality. The game suffered a lot because the president didn’t believe in it, wanting more broader audiences with all your favorite characters. It’s this disrespect that ended up giving the game poor marketing and sales. There were even apparently layoffs in the team, yet they still persevered and delivered a quality game. I suggest watching GVMRs discussion on the history for a better insight into this strenuous development history. He gives more detailed insight, a reason to love the development team, and kind of a satisfying feeling knowing that the president failed because of his actions.
Presentation of the Switch Version: A Sadness Undeserving for a Legend
Alright, now that I’m done talking about the game generally, besides some mentions of how this port controls and has, I’m now gonna divert attention to crapping on the switch port. Now I personally can’t compare it to the PC one my brother owns back home now right now, considering I’m in a college with potentially horny people, but I can say that the comparisons throughout Youtube make a good point. The graphics and frame rate can be choppy at times, especially with character models. For me, the frame rate isn’t too bad, but it could look a lot better for a Switch port. Plus, despite the fact that I praised it for having echoes in large areas, this version got rid of it. 0/10, worst port ever. For real though, it’s a shame such a great game has such a crappy port. Compared to the other versions, this game just looks straight from the 2000s with all its graphical problems. I know it wasn’t marketed as a remaster, but I’d much prefer a remaster to touch up on the graphics short comings. All in all, the presentation for the Switch version is poor. And this is the same console with Mario Odyssey and Breath of the Wild, yet an older game runs worse.
Overall Overview: A Great Game Nonetheless
Its Star Wars games like this and Battlefront that cemented the love I have for the franchise. While this port’s bugs and graphical errors degrade it, and a lack of multiplayer if you veterans enjoyed that, the single player campaign is investing, playable, and fun enough to get it. I do have to recommend the X-box or Steam versions, even a physical PC version if you can somehow find one, for better quality, but if you have a Switch primarily then I’d say go for it. At least it’s not too expensive; just $14 bucks. Really wish the porters went for a remaster.
If you’re hungry for some good Star Wars content, want to see how the original EU was (yes, I know I said this is technically canon, but this was during the EU years), or just want a stellar Tactical FPS game full of death, Black Ops missions, and bros hanging out along the way, then I highly recommend getting Republic Commando. I’m giving this game a 10/10 overall, but an 8/10 for the switch version.
Btw, did you know a sequel was in the works back in the day, but it ended getting cancelled. Apparently Sev, who’s, spoilers, status was made killed-in-action by the end, would have come back and, essentially, start the rebellion. There are no words to describe how much I hate this timeline.
Star Wars: Republic Commando Hard Contact
I highly recommend this book, by Karen Traviss, for those who can afford to read books. It’s a solid that continuing what the game started in terms of Black Ops operations and tone, though depicting Omega Squad instead of Delta. Don’t let that stop you from reading it, because you get the same amount of action, death, and themes of what it means to be a clone. A team of the last surviving members of their own squad are sent to Qiilura to stop a Separatist Bioweapon aimed to kill all clones, created by Dr. Uthan under the protection of Ghez Hokan, a Mandalorian warlord who’s come to have strong feelings about the clones of the legendary Jango Fett. He also has a lightsaber; not the Dark Saber, that’s later. Aided by young Padawan Etain, this batch of clones must reach the city to destroy their brother killer before the doctor can finish it.
Also there’s romantic subplot between a clone and the…padawan. In his defence, he’s 10 like Cell from DBZ. Still weirded out…just up her age. Listen, it’s not even that important in the story but…it-it’s a good book.
Real talk, it’s not historically accurate, but it is historically bad@ss. In the time of the prohibition, when man and woman’s quench for booze has been stifled, Al Capone comes in to save the day, except for the fact that he’s a gang lord. With a crime spree infecting Chicago, leading to the death of a little girl, prohibition agent Eliot Ness is joined by a rag-tag team to find evidence of tax evasion to finally put Capone behind bars.
Brilliant acting, a suburb score by Ennio Morricone, and an amazing plot that’ll have you on the edge better than my bargain bin movie descriptions, this film is one of the greats and deserves a movie night by everyone. And yes, that means no love making.
The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly
Oh look, another movie Ennio made. I literally just watched the film last night and it holds up so well. Made in 1966, this film not only stacks up to modern films, it surpasses them. Now, there are two types of men: those who love the Italian western, and those who’s only heard of them. This film can be enjoyed by both. You dig what I’m saying?
During the Civil War, it is a time of western paradise. This is the story of 3 men after gold hidden in a graveyard: The Good “Blondie,” who’s honor lights up his more dubious morality, the Bad “Angel eyes,” a mercenary willing to do everything devious and malicious to be thorough in a mission, and the Ugly “Tuco,” a conniving sleezebag with a moral code. Each holds a clue to the gold, yet none of them trust or like each other. In a time of uncertainty, witness the brilliance of each actor as they go through some kind of west/south…desert…area to discover what the ecostasy of gold means. Whenever people say, “they don’t make movies like they used to,” its films like these that make me agree sometimes.
The summer heatwave churning up the south is finally coming to an end. The trees will howl as their orange skin fills up generic backgrounds, the wind will arrive from the north to tickle our necks, and kids will suffocate from Halloween sweets. I personally eat from a carton of chocolate cream for my Halloweens.
I will say that this has been both a fun but stressful summer. The best parts were definitely reviewing and refining my book, playing Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky after finishing the game all those years ago in my childhood, built my first Gunpla model, and getting to the Earthbound Beginnings review. But, after losing a pretty terrible job and a lot of setbacks, it’s been pretty hindering to my motivation as well. A lot is coming for this semester, especially the release of Metroid Dread, and I’m excited to ring these reviews and updates to the website. So, let’s get right to it.
Extra, Extra! We got a Mailing List!
I’m getting one. I’ll face facts, this blog is essentially me talking to a few followers and passerby’s weekly. Otherwise known as “a fish in the sea.” So, to try and get better traction, I am going to implement a mailing list. Now, I’m going to put one by Monday, but I’ll make my first after researching the best ways to use one for the kind of blog I’m trying to do. The last thing my lazy butt wants is to make something embarrassing for you readers. Plus, if I did, I got a comment section for angry comments.
So, be on the look out on your email. Hopefully, it’s the top one above the thousands we never read.
A New Coat of Paint
Now, I don’t have the comments to back up this claim, but I think my website looks terrible. Not terrible, but more like basic. I like the colors, but something about it just doesn’t work. I wanna add pazazz to it. I was gonna try and update the look on a technical level, but life decided to make me postpone that. But, I am dedicated to saving up money and looking at online website designs that I think will fit and benefit the blog. I’ll also really try to make the layout much better, and learn how other websites did it. These changes will come this semester, so don’t be surprised by any new developments.
Now, onto the things I will be reviewing!
Republic Commando: The Bad Batch But With Polynesian Bacta
I love Bad Batch, don’t get me wrong. It tickles the bone in me that’s been dead inside since Clone Wars ended for the 3rd time with its characters, its perspective of the growing empire, and the episodic nature of the show. People hate it, but I do personally enjoy the current structure of the story. However, our batch of misfits surviving a hostile and changing galaxy will probably never dethrone Delta Squad for me.
In this game, you play as the leader of a band of Republic Commandoes, specially trained clones under the Republic who do the jobs no reg could pull. You’ve got Scorch, the demolitions personal, Sev, the cold-blooded sniper, and Fixer, the by-the-books guy who hacks computers. You lead these 3 through 3 different missions in 3 locations, helping in the war effort by clashing with clankers and shanking some mercs. With the customizable DC-17m and a slew of other weapons, you may be programmed for stealth but, by the end of the mission, you leave one hell of an explosive impact.
If you aren’t into the magic of the force and only care about the war aspect of Star Wars, then you are going to enjoy this game. As Han Solo once said, “hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.”
This review will come on September 3rd, 2021.
Ungifted: Being an Idiot Has Never Changed So Many Lives
When I created this website, I always wanted to do a book review cause, well, I am a writer. So, what better way to start than by reviewing a middle school level book. “Har har, he’s reading a book for kids.” Har, har, har…
This book is better written than Captain Marvel.
After slapping the ass of the school statue and sending its bronze globe rolling into the gym, Donovan Curtis knows he’ll get the punishment of a lifetime…until a mix up happens. Instead, he gets to walk the halls of the Academy for Scholastic Distinction, where young Frankensteins take classes together to show just how intelligent they are. Donovan, not wanting to face the consequences in fear of his parent’s bank account and his sister’s incoming child debt, he decides the best thing to do is fake being smart enough for the situation to blow over. While it’s hell for him, it becomes the best thing for these geniuses.
Now, this book is basically like any of those “just an average kid in school” kid movie. Average boy, goes to school, has to make friends, the characters are caricatures, yada yada. I thought that when reading it, but it turned out to be a well-written and genuinely surprising book. It may be for kids, but I implore you to read it before my review on September 24, 2021.
Child of Light: I am No Princess
I love whimsical and light-hearted fantasy ever since I watched the first 4 Harry Potter films and Adventure Time. I remember seeing this game whenever my brother played it on the Wii U, and I finally got my chance when I bought it for my Switch. I was mesmerized by it from first sight but playing through it and experiencing this masterpiece brought me so much delight.
Aurora, the young daughter of a Duke in Austria, mysteriously enters the land of Lemuria after dying from a strange illness. Traveling with a wisp named Igniculus, she learns that the moon, the sun, and the stars have been taken by the Queen of the Night, who is turning the land into a world of monsters. With the help of her friends who rhyme and a wisp who likes to shine, this young not-princess will travel the land to stop the evil queen and find her way back home before a dreaded flood turns it into a memorial shrine.
With a unique battle system in the JRPG genre, a stellar score, and a beautiful look, this small game will enchant any RPG fan and fairy-tale lover. Play it for yourself, experience the magic, and come back when I review it on October 8th, 2021.
Kamen Rider Saber: The Second-Coming of Ghost
If my post about Kamen Rider piqued your interest and showed how crazy I am for this series, well…I hope this doesn’t ruin it. I love this franchise with a passion, but even it cannot escape the hands of terrible writing. This season also happens to be about books!
Taking a more mystical and fantastical route, not seen since Wizard, the season is about a novelist named Touma, who owns a book store and is the writer for Lost Memory (don’t worry if you don’t remember this after ep 1). Though he appears to be a regular guy, a strange event happened 15 years ago that left him with a strange but small plastic book about a brave dragon. He remembers only fragments: a town attacked by monsters, bubbles floating in the air, a knight clad in purple armor, him losing the grip of a young girl before she’s sucked up by a floating book, and a damaged swordsman who leaves him the plastic book and causes a massive explosion with a red blade. All he remembers besides that is a promise he never got to keep.
Fast forward to the present; he’s late for a chapter deadline for Mei Sudo, but he shirks it off like any real writer to give a birthday present to a boy. However, things turn for the worst as the masterminds behind the event unfold a new plan by taking parts of the world to a place known as Wonder World, the world of stories, through the use of Megid. As chaos ensues, Touma is met by the very blade that saved him: the Kaenken Rekka. With no one stopping the monster of the week, and the book revealing to be a source of power, he takes hold of the blade and becomes Kamen Rider Saber: The Flame Swordsman. Now, with the help of other color-coded knights of the elements a part of the Sword of Logos, an organization that seeks to protect the world, the novelist will fight the Megid while also uncovering his past and what led to the events that happened 15 years ago.
Did that catch your interest? It did for me. On October 29th, read on how much it went downhill faaaassssttt.
Digimon Cyber Sleuth: 2 Stories, 2 Mysteries, One Digital Garden
After the huge, but not surprising, disappointment of Pokémon Shield, I decided to say screw it to the Pokémon Main Line games and decided to play the Digimon Cyber Sleuth bundle on the Switch. I played it last year and finished it in the beginning of the summer. Even with its world building and narrative flaws, these games brought back the spark of love that I had for the Digimon universe.
For Cyber Sleuth, which everyone should play first before Hacker’s Memory, the story takes place in a Japan where virtual reality has become reality and the entire concept of Summer Wars has been stolen. Eden, the virtual world created by Kamishiro Industries, allows people to bank, shop, and connect; basically a walkable internet. The story is about [NAMELESS PROTAG] who is dared into going into the underbelly of Eden, where hackers roam with a newly introduced and utilized hacking tool at their malicious or benevolent disposal; Digimon. An adorable Agumon can clean out your bank account; where is the humanity.
However, you and your friends are forced into becoming hackers by a mysterious party and are attacked by an Eater, a mysterious computer virus that can cause people to go into comas. You don’t escape unscathed, as you return to the real world with a digital body. Best thing about this situation is employment. With the help of your Digimon and a totally-gonna-be-your-waifu boss, you help solve cases in Eden which will inevitably uncover the secret of your transformation, a conspiracy, and your own past.
In Hacker’s Memory, you play as [NAMELESS PROTAG EXCEPT YOU CAN ONLY BE A GUY] in a side story that delves deeper into the scum and villainy of hackers, and what it means to have an identity in the virtual world. Speaking of identity, his, however, has been stolen by a malicious hacker; well, an internet one but still. Being accused of an account raiding scam he didn’t commit, the MC decides the best way to find the culprit is to become a hacker himself and join the group Hudie, a benevolent hacker group under Zaxon who solve cases related to more aggressive teams. Like in Cyber Sleuth, you solve different cases with your own Digimon as you get closer to the culprit, but you’ll also discover the dark secrets that lie with those close around you.
A different approach to the usual Digimon format, these story heavy games still manage to bring a fun Digimon adventure for older fans. Stay tuned as I review these games on November 12th, if school allows it.
Honestly, all these reviews may be released differently due to school so keep that in mind.
Other Reviews That May Come In The Future
Final Fantasy 9
I’m not done with it yet. The Final Fantasy series is that JRPG series I heard a lot about growing up, and it became the franchise I wanted to play so bad. As a lover of Pokémon, I held FF as the high standard of JRPGs; the franchise that any fan of the genre had to play. A Valhalla if you will. Now, for you long time fans, you may laugh at that statement or agree with it, and all the other franchise fandoms may laugh too. But I legit thought that at the time, and I still hold the series to that expectation after playing, like, 3 games. 6 was my first, 7 was the first steam game I fully played, and 9 became my second favorite.
This review may come around 2021-2022, but I hope to give my thoughts on this magical game. I’ll save the lengthy plot synopsis for a future update.
Hot damn do I want it. I’ve only played the first 3 games (still crossing my fingers for a Prime trilogy bundle on the Switch) but Super Metroid sold me on the Metroidvania genre. Genuinely one the best and most replayable games in history. When I saw the reveal trailer for this game, I was sold on it from the moment I saw the stealth mechanics with the robot thing. Horror is one of my favorite genres and seeing that implemented alongside space exploration peaked my interest to dangerously high levels. I’m watching my brother play Fusion as a refresher before I get Dread (now, if your criticizing me for not playing Fusion myself, my answer to that is it’s my brother’s Wii U and, like the little brother I am, he gets first dibs).
I might make a Quikee review of Dread after I get it on October and play the first few hours. But, I’m really excited and optimistic about this game so, hopefully, this new entry into Nintendo’s most interesting franchise, to me, meets my expectations.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorer’s of Sky
Like hell I know when this will come. It’s stuck on my brother’s Wii U and it’s one out of two games I steal from him to play. I can’t take it to college, so who knows.
Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Super Mario 64
Might be a Quikee as well since I played it last year. I still have to play the rest of the games I have on the All-Stars package.
Gundam Unicorn Gallery
This might come in-between the other reviews depending on when I finish the model kit. I got it over the weekend, but this week is mostly me doing work on my job and book, preparing to go to college, and having an existential crisis. The last one was a peaceful moment in this summer, so I got this as a potential hobby.
With all this laid out, I hope school doesn’t tire me out so I can be excited enough to do these reviews. I’ve got nothing left to type with these tired fingers, so I’ll take my leave. Enjoy life, follow your passions, and don’t let the fire spreading throughout human civilization harden your heart. Bye.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ninten: Doing what Sega can’t
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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.
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.
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!