I Fixed Maxie and Archie’s Team in Emerald Cause I Got Bored

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.

“Hahaha, welcome the republican party! Where our mascot is an Elephant and Texas is our homeland. (If you’re either party, I’m just having fun.)”

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.

“Is the sea the Democratic homeland?”

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

“Thank you game for putting a speaker in his voice so that this dialogue makes sense.”

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.

Camerupt

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.

(Image from Bulbapedia)

Claydol

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.

(Image from Bulbapedia)

Skarmory

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.

(Image from Bulbapedia)

Vileplume

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.

(Image from Bulbapedia)

Dusclops

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.

(Image from Bulbapedia)

Archie: Leader of Team Aqua

“I’m an independent. I vote the Green Party and nobody can stop me!”

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. 

Sharpedo

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.

(Image from Bulbapedia)

Gyarados

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.

(Image from Bulbapedia)

Lanturn

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.

(Image from Bulbapedia)

Relicanth

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.

(Image from Bulbapedia)

Kingdra

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.

(Image from Bulbapedia)

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~

-Samuel Argueta

Quickee: A New Mother 4?

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.

“Mario, hold in your excitement. We don’t want daddy to hear you in your room.”

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.

The Trailer: Watch the Trailer Here

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.

The Dark Dragon shrine of Mother 3, the being held by the 7 needles. Yes, I now “have” Mother 3.

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

“A visual representation of the company fighting Nintendo in the future if successful.”

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.

“Let’s hope this optimism saves us.”

P.S Listen to the soundtrack being released on the official Mother 4 youtube. It’s incredible.

-Samuel Argueta

Child of Light Part 2: The Music, the Graphics, and The Little Things.

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

“Igniculus shined like the sun and melted my eyes…”

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…

“Oh no, my Golem is going to be hit by a grass move. Why did Gamefreak also make him ground type!”

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

“Yo, Aang is to the west. Pay attention for any fishermen huts, they’ll have the monk your looking for.”

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?

“Miraculous! Something something french, something something I stalk a blonde boy…Miraculous!”

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?

“Ah yes, the most challenging of bosses: Darumaka’s sentient turds.

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.

Overview

“Don’t get all mushy about it. I want your gold you European murderer, now hand it over!”

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.

-Samuel Argueta

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.

Ungifted

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.

Republic Commando: Dark, Gritty, and Full of Banter

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.

You’ve the got the smart one, the child, and the psycho-path all in one place. One happy family.

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.

“I made this joke already.”

Republic Commando: No Fancy Weapons and Ancient Religions Here

“Tuning in to Clone TV, bringing you all the movies with none of the propaganda. Today we’re playing the Lego Movie, just to remember how you are the special till the day you die.”

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.

“You know how that Shoretrooper got a following because they died just getting their lunch? Can we get a following for this unnamed clone being the only company Boss had? And, yes, this guy does fit the criteria of dying.

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.

“I don’t know if you can see it, but Boss is currently entering…the enemy scrotum!”

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.

“Hey Sev, the last time Boss was in a LAAT with another clone they…ooohhh”

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.

Gameplay

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:

Author Note Here: I can’t do a side by side because it doesn’t allow for fullscreen.
“It doesn’t f@ckin matter!”

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:

“Btw, it’s inhumanly possible to be that fast with the camera.”

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.

“I will say, it’s super obvious that a different animation plays when they get into position. It’s pretty jarring at times.”

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.

“So…is the door stuck? Man, the Geonosians really cut on the budget.”

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

“You know what, y-y-you have a point Scorch.”

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.

Miscellaneous Things

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.

“Now, imagine these guys in droves in tight corridors, filling up hangars in ships, and generally being a looming presence. Nasty stuff.”

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.

The Extras/Unlockables:

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.

“Um…okay! Do you mind elaborating on that?”

Overall Overview: A Great Game Nonetheless

“I guess these guys landed in Angel Island Zone Part 2.”

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.

-Samuel Argueta

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.

The Untouchables

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.

Sirens On! A Blogging Update Is Here!

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!

“You can see the excitement in their faces to this development. Both the mailing list and the guy currently becoming a statue.”

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.

“Like Mega Man, except I didn’t have to shoot a guy for it…yet.”

Now, onto the things I will be reviewing!

Republic Commando: The Bad Batch But With Polynesian Bacta

“Look at Scorch becoming canon. Go buddy, go!”

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.

“Yes, I shall enter without consent.”

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…

“It’s amazing how the entire contribution Donovan made to the design of the robot was a bunch of decals. Didn’t do the best job proving he’s smart.”

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

“Oooh, so this is one of the things Finn did before his death. I’d recognize his golden locks any day.”

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.

“When you get accepted into heaven despite causing mass genocide for exp.”

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.

“You notice how Saber is the biggest image in the photo? Yeah, expect that the whole show.” Image from Kamen Rider Fandom

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

“The sleuth or the hacker? Orange or Blue? Finding your path or understanding your identity? When you meet this woman, you choose the path. P.S sorry about the faded words. Wasn’t the best at timing when I first played it.”

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.

“Observation Statement: This is the perfect partnership for slaughter.”

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.

“Hey, you see a gear around here? I need him so I can shove him into others and make Piedmon happy. The hell you mean? Of course I know what I’m talking about. You think I took a trephining from a WarGreymon so I can have some BTS wannabe f#$king question me!”

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

“When I look at this magical Star Wars Jawa, I see both a great character and the two suns from Tatooine.”

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.

Metroid Dread

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.

“You think Dread will have fan service rewards for completing the game fast? Can they still do that in this time and age?

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorer’s of Sky

“Wow, it’s a gear. I can feel the temporal aura rubbing against my hide. Hey, who are you? Nice afro-Oh my Arceus! Stop shoving that gear in me! Stop it! Stop talking about Andromon! Who even is that?!”

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

Same Boat.

Super Mario 64

” Wow, thank you for a kiss on the nose. Thanks…hoping for more after dealing with Big Boo’s Balcony, but this cock block will do.”

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

“I just don’t have self-control man. No wonder I can’t get freakin scholarships.”

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.

Overview

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.

-Samuel Argueta

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

Star Wars: Republic Commando

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

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

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

Metroid 2: Return To Samus

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

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

Digimon Cyber Sleuth: Hacker’s Memory

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

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

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorer’s of Sky

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

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

Final Fantasy 9

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

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

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

-Samuel Argueta

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

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

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

Spoilers!!!!!

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

Did it? Good.

Sonic Adventure Part One: The Chaos of Love

Hey shorty! It’s your birthday!

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

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

Personal History:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overview

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

Sonic’s Story: It’s Sonic’s Story

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Moment

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

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

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

Tails: A Tale of Independence

“I wanna fly HIGH!” Image from Strategy Wiki

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Moment

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

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

Knuckles and The Escape from Unemployment

“Oh no!” Image from Pinterest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Moment

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

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

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

Big the Cat: A Huge Problem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Moment

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

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

E-102 Gamma: The True Hero

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amy: Love In Different Ways

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Moments

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

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

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

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

Image from Sonic News Network

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End of Part One

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

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

-Samuel Argueta

Earthbound: The Giygas Strikes Back

Introduction: (Disclaimer: There may be a few spoilers)

The year is 199X. In the depths of the night, the citizens of Onett are sleeping soundly, unaware of the strange things that are going to start this very night. Our chubby protagonist, Ness Quik, sleeps within his small home in his blue pajamas, when suddenly a loud boom shakes the earth. The ambience of the outside world is now accompanied by the distant sounds of police sirens blaring into action, coming closer as if the source of the sound is near. Ness wakes up, along with his agitated family, and decides to check out what has occurred. His younger sister, Tracy, gives him a cracked bat to arm himself, and so the boy goes out to the cold world.

“Don’t you just hate it when a meteor from the sky wakes you up from your glorious sleep?”
Image from FandomSpot

He goes over to climb the mountain, meeting up with several officers along the way who are tired an agitated, especially with the gangs they have to deal with on a daily basis. He talks with a strange man who lives on the mountain, who asks him to see his billboard he worked hard for, and then meets up with one of the neighbor’s son, Pokey (renamed from Porky for obvious reasons) who is chastising with the police. The police have blocked the way. Up above, a scientist and a cop study the meteorite. Pokey tells Ness to go home and stop bugging the cops. With nothing left for him to do, Ness goes home and back to sleep.

Suddenly, he’s ripped from sleep by the sound of knocking at his door. Ness storms downstairs and opens the door to see Pokey, who had lost Picky when they checked the meteorite after the police left. With bags under his eyes, and a call from milk-getting pa, the boy, his “friend,” and dog named King, they set out to the top of the mountain while beating up snakes and crows. Stupid nature. Once on top, King leaves in fear and the duo find Picky. Before leaving, a strange and controllable pillar of light breaks from the meteor toward the sky. The trio bask in the total disbelief as a fly, bee, rhino-beetle looking thing descends from the heavens. Buzz-Buzz tells of an evil future brought by Giygas, the universal destroyer who used to go by the name Giegue, and a prophecy that the chosen 4 will beat them. Spoiler, its not porker and his brother.

“Awaken, my Buzz-Buzz!”
Image from Earthbound Fandom

The gang leave, when suddenly Starman.net arrives to defeat Ness. Buzz-Buzz and Picky help in the fight, while Porky does nothing. The first of many enemies. Ness delivers the brothers to their parents, hears their father beat them, and then witnesses their mother one-shot Buzz-Buzz. With the thing dying in his hands, Ness is given words of courage and the Sound stone in order to record the music of his 8 “Your Sanctuary.” After sleeping away the trauma, our chosen one steps out to the beautiful sunrise of a new adventure.

The World of Earthbound

“Cue that Upbeat Onett theme”
Image from Nintendo Life

Earthbound is the wacky story of a young boy who must travel cross-country, from Eagleland to Foggyland, with friends in order to stop an adopted universal evil. Along the way, they must beat up cops, help the Runaway Five band out of debt, fight 5 number 3 moles, and even deal with living barf.

Each town, city, and tourist trap they visit is based on a theme. Onett, Twoson, Threed, and Fourside of Eagleland are an obvious one. Foggyland has Winters and Summers based on the seasons. Summers also fits with the number theme combined with Chommo’s Tenda Village in the Deep Darkness. 1+2+3+4=10.

“See, it is the Blu Blux Klan. The only left to do after seeing them is getting the hell out.”
Image from Starmen.net’s walkthrough

At the time, it was a parody of many JRPG’s at the time, which were mostly set in an old fantasy world rather than the more modern fantasy one the Earthbound franchise would be known for. While the game can be quirky in many moments, it also tells the serious themes of childhood, friendship, and love for one another. Ness grows up throughout the game, eventually defeating the evil in his heart that could corrupt him. It’s also known for the various dark crap that happens to these kids, even if some are played for laughs.  You know you’re a dark game when you have a boy stop the blue Klu Klux Klan from sacrificing a young girl and painting the world blue. The blend of satire, fun, and disturbing moments makes for a unique journey.

Gameplay

Unlike the other RPGs at the time, with their magic potions and mystical swords of insert thing it does, you heal with food, like hamburgers, and equip with a bat or a frying pan. Trash cans and present boxes replace treasure boxes, castles are replaced by suburban towns, and you’ll ride the occasional yellow submarine. Everything has a modern mix to it, making for a pseudo-realistic feel.  At the same time, there are elements in the game that make you feel that you are in the imagination of a child, such as the pencil eraser item that erases pencil-shaped statues (no kidding).

Rather than magic spells, the game has characters use PSI. PSI is more explained in Earthbound Beginnings, but for now all you need to know is that it’s a psychic power that some people, animals, and machines have. Like magic, it runs on PP. The more the characters with it gain experience points, the more they learn new PSI powers and even stronger versions of the ones they have based on Greek letters (like PK Freeze Omega).

“Why take the bus? I got legs! Um, don’t tell the Runaway Five that…”
Image from Earthbound Fandom

The party walks around the vast world of Earthbound, and I do mean walk. There isn’t a run option in the buttons, but you can eat a Skip Sandwich to move faster. You can talk to anyone and check everything through the menu, accessible with the press of A. Talk To for people and the like, and Check for objects and other things (check things you might not think would work. A surprise is always around the corner).

Besides those options, there’s Status to check on your party’s states, PSI to check the PSI your party has, Equip to put equitable objects on the party, and Goods to check you inventory. The inventory is notoriously small, with only a few items to hold for each party member, and items don’t stack with each other. Under the menu is the amount of money your party has, and the HP and PP they have.

Characters

Image by Wolf Electric from Pinterest

Ness

Ness is the main protagonist, healer and tank of the game, a great contrast to the standard typical “Main protagonist must be a full on fighter.” A baseball fan, his main weapon in the Bat and equipment a baseball cap.

He is a PSI user like Paula and Poo. His only offensive attacks are PSI Rockin, a powerful attack exclusive to him that can hit all enemies, and PSI Flash, which can inflict a random effect like crying or even instant defeat. As the healer, he gains each of the upgrades for PK Life up, which heals Hp, and Healing, which heals status affects. He also has other assist moves such as shield for physical attacks, hypnosis which gives enemies the sleep he lost in the beginning, and paralysis to paralyze people. He is the leader of the group.

Paula

Paula Dean is the offensive glass cannon of the group and the only female character in the party. Her main attacks come from her PSI, but she can do physical attacks with a Frying Pan. Like any magic user, she has the PK attacks of Fire, Freeze, and Thunder (because Japan likes the name better than the actual lightning that strikes). Her only “Recover” PSI move is Magnet, shared with Poo, in order to heal her PP (it’s so good). Her assists are PSI Shield, the magic shield equivalent to Ness’s Shield, Offense Up for the whole party, and Defense Down for enemies.

While the fastest and strongest attacker on the group, Paula’s special skill is the ability to Pray, which I believe to be a pseudo reference Ana’s(Paula’s counterpart in Earthbound Beginnings) Christianity. It induces a random effect during battle from healing everyone in the party to inflicting a status affect on everyone. I guess this is God’s way of interacting in the world? I don’t know. The ability is limited, and I never really used it myself, but it is a pivotal ability during the final battle.

Never used solely in the game.

My Name’s Jeff

Jeff Bridges is the geeky support and I guess thief of the party. He is the only one in the party to not be a PSI user, which makes it seem he’s the weakest link. However, looks can be deceiving. His main weapon is a gun. Not a toy gun, an actually freakin magnum. This kid packs heat to the highest degree, since he has 2 of the best special traits in the game. The first is his ability to repair and use gadgets that only he can use (such as the bottle rockets and shield killers) due to his IQ. Yes, that’s a stat. Once Jeff gets the Multi Bottle Rockets, he can easily deal massive damage that can end a battle swiftl y. He also has the Spy ability, which allows the player to know the stats and weakness’s of the enemy, while also being able to steal from them.

He’s used solely by himself during his introduction in Snowman.

Poo

Poo Puri is the Prince of Dalaam and I don’t know what he’s supposed to be. As a PSI user, he’s a balance between Ness and Paula. His offensive skills are Freeze and Thunder, the former never going to omega. He can use Lifeup (never omega), Healing, a Shield like Ness, and Magnet like Paula. He does have his own special skills exclusive to him. He is the only one in the party to use PK Starstorm, a powerful attack similar to Ness’s PK Rockin, and Brainstorm, which puts strangeness on an enemy. He also the only one to use the technique called Mirror, which makes him become an enemy except bosses.

Poo, like the prince he is, is a very picky poo. He cannot equip any of the equipment available in the game, as it makes him weaker. He can only equip the “of Kings” set (good luck getting his damn sword). Also, he has a special diet where only water and stuff from his kingdom will increase his HP and PP to a high degree. Anything else does less.

He’s used solely during his introduction when the rest of the party get high on cake.

Other important characters include Buzz-Buzz, Dr.Andonauts (Jeff’s Dad), Picky, the Mr Saturns, and Pokey Minch.

“Anyone else feel bad for Picky?”
Image from Wikibound

Pros

The Story: I chose to make a small novelization of the introduction just because it’s one of the best openings to a game I’ve ever come across. The story is the classic good vs evil, yet the wacky humor and dark themes flesh it out. The journey is nothing short of a children’s tale, filled with swift setting changes and weird enemies to fight. Yet it’s that children’s aspect that makes the game unpredictable and fun to playthrough. Many moments in the game are memorable, from the lights out of Fourside’s department mall to the final battle with Giygas. One of my favorite moments was when you switch over to Jeff’s side after Ness and Paula are captured. I didn’t expect it to happen, but the mystery of this new character and the humble setting of Winters made me intrigued to what would come. Once you get into it, it’s a story that’ll keep you guessing and entertained.

The characters: Many of the characters are funny and complex. The protagonists each have their own character traits and story that go deeper than the surface value. Ness’s journey of growing up, Paula’s strong and tough personality thanks to the English localizers, Jeff’s relationship with his father and friend, and Poo’s journey to master Mu and help the others in their quest. Many of the important characters are just as well-written as the protagonists that allow players to theorize and go deep on their own to fill in some of gaps the game intentionally leaves out. Even the NPCs around the world are interesting due to their quirky lines of dialogue. A mix of fun and serious make each of these characters fun to talk to.

“It speaks for itself.”
Image from Ekostories

The humor and themes: In my opinion, the funniest things come from a serious story that has a sense of humor. Despite the dark and disturbing moments in the game, its mixed perfectly with a game that will make you giggle and laugh. It’s that fine line in the middle that gives the game a heart and soul. Without each other, I don’t think the game would have gotten its cult classic status and unique tone. There are such absurd moments in the game that will make you laugh. I mean you ride the Beatles Yellow Submarine to a place called the Deep Darkness. That is not where you find the sun. At the same time, the moments of police brutality, the kidnapping of Paula by the blue cult, the zombies of Threed, and a touch of alien invasion give a creepy atmosphere that demands you to take this game serious at times. To me, it’s a great comedy because it balances to good and bad that accompanies life.

The worldbuilding: From Onett to Tenda Village, each location stands out from each other and bring a memorable moment to the game. Each has a distinct atmosphere and a distinct look from each other. The metropolitan Fourside, the cozy tourist trap Summers, the small population of Winters, and the warm heat of Scaraba. The game transports you into this world and keeps you hooked in till the end.

“When a jam happens like this, pop in some ACDC and enjoy the-move it already!”
Image from Earthbound Central

The soundtrack: To me, music is everything and Earthbound nails it. The theme of Onett makes you want to walk down the sidewalk of a quaint little town, while the music of evil Threed makes you want to stay home and drown out the screams with Wipe Out. Atmospheric, chiptune, fun, and creepy, the Earthbound soundtrack is just as complex and fun as the game is. A good movie, tv show, and game must has the proper music, and good thing Earthbound got one.

The UI: Everything just flows well with the game. The menu is there with the push of a button, everything you need to know comes up in, and there is no confusion in what you need to know. The lack of random encounters is a godsend, and the mechanics of the overworld enemies is fresh and controllable. Battles flow well thanks to the rolling HP counter, allowing you to save yourself from certain defeat before it rolls to zero. With enough practice, even the hardest battles can be controlled by the player.

Cons

The inventory space: It’s a con that everyone usually points out, but it is a problem nonetheless. Inventory space is based on how many party members you have, so starting out with Ness gives you such little to carry. Since items don’t stack, you have to carry two of the same item and they take 2 spots in the inventory. Equipment items also take up space, so that’s 4 spots taken away including the required items you need to have.

Getting party members become a blessing in order to carry more, however, if they fall in battle that stuff is locked away from you both in the overworld and in battle. Imagine giving someone all the reviving items and they fall in battle? There is a storage in the game, through your sister with the Escargo Express, but along the way inventory is a pain.

“Back then, on my first playthrough, I think Hell’s bells were ringing for me” Image from Earthbound Fandom

The difficulty: It can be grueling at times. Many people have a hard time with the first part of the game, since it’s just Ness. Grinding is a must during Onett and the first part of Twoson, since you’ll be dealing with 4 bosses, enough with SMASH attacks (critical hits in the game), and the whole of Peaceful Rest Valley.

Me personally, I’ve had a lot of trouble with Threed and the Stone Hedge alien base. I entered Threed without grinding beforehand, and because you’re stuck there until you free it I was dealing with enemies’ way above level. I say grind before going.  The Stone Hedge Base is a current predicament, since many of the enemies are powerful PSI users. Earthbound is a game that takes time and effort to get into.

Lack of run button or speedup: The walking in the game can be slow at times, especially compared to the adding speedup in Earthbound Beginning, and the only way to run is stuck in the inventory. Everything is in walking distance, but when you’re doing a long dungeon and you can’t just speed it up it becomes unbearable, especially if you need to backtrack.

This goes into the point that some items are completely useless. The bicycle could have fixed the problem, but the bicycle can only be used when only one person is in the party. You get the bike in the town with the second party member, so you get to enjoy it for one town.

A nickpick: I don’t like that Onett never returns to its original state after the invasion near the end. I never like that when a game has this one area that just turns to crap and you can never experience it again until you start another file.

Conclusion

I didn’t get the chance to grow up with this game, but it became an easy classic in my game catalog. It’s was a unique RPG in its time, and it still stands out to the hearts of many to this day. This game is a cult classic, but I will admit that not everyone will probably “get it.” However, if you love a funny but dark game set in an alternate 90s America in the eyes of Japan made by a copywriter and his team, then Earthbound is the game for you. Fuzzy pickles everyone.

-Samuel Argueta