Kamen Rider Saber: The Book of Ruin and the Phoenix Swordsman is one of the movies

If you read through my post about Kamen Rider Saber, you’ll know how much I hated yet appreciated the first part. Although I was angrier than usual in that post, I kept going because I wonder if the rest of the show will improve. Also, I already promised it and I’m going to finish it unlike my Mother 3 post. But we’re not here to continue the adventure. We’re here to talk about the sidequest that’s almost important to the adventure.

This show came out during the height of the pandemic, when the actor who played the Red Ranger in Kirameiger (the Sentai of 2020) contracted it. That moment was not only frightening because of how young he was, but also halted much of what Toei was doing. The sets were shut down for a while, meaning Kirameiger and Kamen Rider Zero-One was postponed until further notice. Kamen Rider suffered the most, as Zero-One lost 4 episodes from its 49 episode run and the summer movie was pushed back to December. This would not only be one of the few shows of this current generation to not have a summer movie, but also the first time there wouldn’t be a crossover movie known as a VS movie. Or the Generation series; it’s kind of complicated.

All this meant that Saber, in the long run, would not get a standalone, non-V-cinema film in the summer since Super Hero Senki, the crossover, was pushed to the summer. Although part of me was happy, it also felt strange and sad. But, Toei came in and rectified it by making a short film rather a feature length one. One billed next to Zero-One…which also meant no Super Sentai film. Jeez, this was a strange time. This film, the first ever gekijo-taban in the franchise, would be called Kamen Rider Saber: The Phoenix Swordsman and the Book of Ruin. A poster was released to showcase Saber, a book, and a floating ghost to act as our antagonist.

“Protecting the world from temptation, one rider kick at a time.

Coming back to be our villain, Kamen Rider Falchion, was veteran Tokusatsu actor Masashi Taniguchi, the blue ranger from GoGoV (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue in America) and Amazonz Alpha in Kamen Rider Amazonz. A movie form would also come as well. Although not the same as a feature length film, this movie became a replacement as if the pandemic never happened.

I haven’t watched it for the obvious reason. Why watch a movie from a show you despise? But, this film would continue providing many firsts since Falchion, because of a later plot point about the Seiken, has a Seiken, meaning he would become important to the show. So, I thought it’d be good to watch it for the overall review in order to have the context for later. And…this movie sucked. Not bad, yet far from good. 

Side Chapter: The Immortal Swordsman Sends All to the Void

“Sir, please put your mask on and stop talking to me.”

We start with a loser kid watching a game of soccer like how I stalk my neighbor. Intense, with hands covered in Dorito chips. Just then, a mysterious stranger sits down next to him. Nothing bad happens. The guy just tells him to put the chip bag down and get a life.

Back in Wonder World, a man named Bahatobama steps off a cliff. Like a teenager who just discovered nihilism, he opens up a butthole into the sky and starts sucking out the life out of everything. Tassel opens up his window and smells the cringe like, “ooooh, that funky.” The shithole was created by the Book of Ruin, which came frooooo-well, it’ll destroy both worlds.

Touma: “Bahato. You shall not destroy all in your quest for those Gravure pictures.”
Bahato: “What! I can’t hear you. Speak up, I can’t hear you from down there!”
Touma:” What! Speak up. We can’t hear you from down here!”

The hole opens up in the sky, sucking up Japan like a political talk in a party. Everyone runs away while Tou Mama Caught Me Yankin and his band of bitches walk through the crowd, swords in hand. They appear before the portal, promising to keep to their abstinence and also to survive. They scream at Bahato that his twitter comments are cringe and unproductive. Bahato laughs at their ideals, before revealing his Wonder Ride Book: Eternal Phoenix. With the power of a poor understanding of nihilism he watched from anime, he unsheathes his sword, Kyomu, and becomes Falchion: The Void/Immortal Swordsman.

Touma and the gang transform and enter Wonder World with the power of abstinence and friendship. While the non-protagonists fight a horde of Shimi and Megid, Bahato takes Touma head on. Touma spouts about how fighting is wrong, while Bahato spouts how humanity is always set on obtaining power and will betray each other for it. Touma becomes Crimson Dragon and slashes Bahato so hard the explosive cells in his body activate.

However, as Touma lowers his guard, a single orange feather falls. Gas Money base boosts as Bahato returns. Touma’s gets stunned by the sick beat (seriously, listen to Gas Money by Xavy Rusan) that Bahato gets the hit on him. Touma falls down the cliff.

“Null? Void? Phoenix? Hotel? Trivago.”

Meanwhile, back on the homeworld of Albert Einstein and Hentai, citizens watch in awe as the world is close to being destroyed. However, Meiby it’s Meibaline tells them that the Kamen Riders will win. From their combined will of literally 3 bystanders, Jake the American Dragon leaves Touma and flies up to the butthole to bring out Toothless and that dragon from Shang-Chi. They all combine with the others to become a new book for him: Emotional Dragon. With this new power of wholesome youtubers, he becomes Emotional Dragon and faces Falchion one last time.

Touma: “Me and my friends will protect the world from temptation. You must not obtain those pictures.”
Bahato: ‘What in the world are you talk about?”

Swords clash and bodies fall as the others destroy their targets. Falchion and Saber fight until Saber gets the upper hand. With Falchion shown videos like Girlfriend Reviews before Rekka slaps him in the face, he becomes immobilized. Tootless and the Shang-Chi dragon deform Touma as they drag Falchion into the butthole. Falchion vows to return.

“It’s an eclair btw.”

With life returned to both worlds, everyone has a happy ending. The boy takes all that trauma and plays soccer with the kids who managed to survive. Our heroes watch when Mei suddenly whips out four black cocks. Rintaro gets excited and tries to take them to eat the cre-okay, I’m done. Hahaha…I’m sorry.

Cons

The Entire Plot

“Dammit book readers! You released hell on Earth.”

Since this is a 23-minute movie, I’m basically combining a bunch of sections. Anyway, what plot? This movie is basically a distilled version of every standalone Kamen Rider film. A dark rider appears to face our main team, they threaten the world, the good guy gets a movie form, they beat up the dude, and the day is saved. It’s very by the numbers with nothing making it stand out amongst the many others out there.

Bahato’s character gets expanded in the show, but here he just comes out of nowhere. None of the riders question why there’s a random dude with a freaking Seiken, even though up to this point everyone with one has been a member of the Sword of Logos. Sure, the fate of the world is at stake, but at least indicate something to the audience. The Book of Ruin comes out of nowhere, with no time to explain what the heck it is. Touma’s Brave Dragon flies into the butthole and pulls out 2 random dragons. Granted, most movie forms come out of nowhere anyway, but this one aggrieves me more than usual. There’s no time to explain anything in this movie, so it just jumps right into a fight for the rest of the screen time. 

The rest of the movie puts focus on these 3 civilians because the theme of the film is that “we live our lives normally while there are those fighting in the background to keep our lives in peace.” There’s a kid, a high school student, and a dad. However, it is so forced and blatant that it hurts. Understandably, the kid would stay with Mei since she’s an adult, but then she just makes him watch the Rider fight while parts of the city are getting sucked up. It might be a cultural thing, but wouldn’t this kid want to go to his parents or something? I love how they show his face, inspired, as Mei tells him about the theme of the story. It’s exactly like when Sophia ranted about how powerful books are to Touma. It’s so obvious.

“Well, now you just ruined it. Thanks Mei.”

When Mei helps the kid and tells him that her friends will help, the student just stops running away from the apocalyptic event to listen. Also, conveniently on center stage for the camera. Then, as Mei’s explaining the theme, the same student and the dad are just conveniently there, and the movie puts more focus on them than any other civilian. One, why are none of them running away and hiding in a bunker? Second, although there’s an apocalypse threatening the world, there’s nothing here to get invested in these random people. The kid? Yeah cause we had a scene establishing him. But the rest are these cardboard cut outs meant to be the beacon for the theme. I didn’t care when they go back to their normal lives at the end of the movie. Who were these people? 

Touma: “Here you go, Ren. Go play with your friends.”
Ren: “F@ck you Touma!”

The movie relies on two sets of cliches, both embedded in the franchise and within superhero movies in general. All the dialogue is non-stop exposition about good and bad, faith in humanity, and the friendship. Nothing about it is organic. Everyone talks like they’re in a TED Talk. When the beliefs of the 3 random civilians go into Touma as he gets Emotional Dragon, ironically, I felt no emotions from it. Nothing has weight in this film. This movie tried to be ambitious like the show but, also like the show, it falls hard on its face

Pros

Falchion Suit

“I don’t appreciate you calling my mom that!”

Alright, here’s the cosmetic stuff. Falchion is one of the best-looking riders in this show. Seriously, he got the good end of the stick. The orange and black contrast well, becoming uniform with his sword and belt. Something I forgot to talk about in the first review was how every rider’s mask are based on a sword swing. Saber’s is a cross slash, Blades’ is a vertical slash, Espada’s is a horizontal slash, Buster’s is a downward crash splitting a mountain, Kenzan’s is a cross but in the shape of a shuriken, and Slash is a thrust that resembles both the impact of the sword and the cartoonish bang used in cartoons to signal gunfire. Calibur does a downward slash as well, but his mask is more like a standard knight. Falchion follows this trend by having his eyes resembling explosions, which are things that reduce things to nothing. It’s one of the few consistent things with this series.

There’s also his main suit, which is just gorgeous. I love how inverted his armor is, with the phoenix head on his right shoulder, while the tails act as a skirt for the left side unlike the other Seiken Swordriver users work. It’s like a phoenix resting on him. I also love how the tails go around his base suit like chains or cracks. It’s visually pleasing, as if his own existence is breaking apart. As if he was corrupted to his core.

“You stealing ma look?”
“I can say the same for you, buddy.”
“*muffled screaming*”

On a side note, Falchion is an example of a rider suit reusing parts from previous suits, albeit very subtle. This is standard within the franchise, since it seems they don’t have the budget to always have new parts all the time. Not sure about that, since it’s not readily available information. For Falchion, his left side shoulder pad is taken from Kamen Rider Build’s TakaGatling form. Yes, there is a form where it’s a Hawk with a Gatling gun. Don’t question it, it gets explained in the show. The entire base suit was taken from Ghost’s, which painted over the translucent parts. It’s not very noticeable, and I only learned that from the wiki page pointing it out. A more obvious one is Emotional Dragon, which reuses the Hedgehog mask from Espada to be the white dragon head. The Brave Dragon shoulder pad from said form is mirrored to become the black dragon on the left side. The cape is taken from Kamen Rider Tsukuyomi from Kamen Rider Zi-O, while the shield was taken from the Shield Module from Kamen Rider Fourze. 

“Can I come onto your show? I need more screentime.”
“Nah, but I’ll take your cape.”
“Mom, Dad, I sh!t on the bed.”

While it may seem lazy, the best part of reusing parts is seeing how creative the team can be went retooling it for another rider…sparingly. It’s okay for them to reuse stuff for movies and specials. For the main show, it can be pretty abhorrent. Trust me…we’re gonna get to that soon.

The CGI

“Can we have a normal camping trip one time!”

I’ve always enjoyed the CGI backgrounds of Saber. Sure, it’s Tokusatsu CGI, meaning it looks like garbage, but it at least varies the locals that’s typical of these shows. Even if the concept was too ambitious for Kamen Rider, the CGI allows Wonder World to be fully realized as if it actually exists. This movie takes place primarily in Wonder World, where Touma fights Bahato onto of a tall mountain from day to night. While it does transition back to the same cliff area in every Tokusatsu show ever, it blends with the CGI. Nothing feels jarring, and, if you accept the CGI, the finale is an amazing spectacle. Seeing Saber fight Falchion under the night sky as a large portal is sucking up everything made the movie bearable. I wish the rest of the show was more like this, sparingly, since CGI be expensive, because this is really one of the last times Wonder World is explored.

The Credits?

“Yes? Hello, police? Hi, this Power Range is dancing in front of my house and causing a ruckus. Yes, he’s a Power Ranger-oh my god! He just fired a pink sidearm at a crowd of cosplayers. He’s stabbing them! Oh my god-“

The credits are pretty charming. Not because it’s the end, but because it’s cute. It has scenes of each character doing something as a picture book, with each scene being transitioned by the book turning the page. Ryo cutting down boulder after boulder, Kento flying in the sky, Daishinji testing out the gun mode of his sword, and other brief moments that give character. It’s visually appealing, fitting the book theme, and it’s one of the very few times I enjoy these characters. If the whole show was like this, I’d enjoy the hell out of it more.

Overview:

This movie is a hard pass for anyone who’s a veteran Toku fan or even a newcomer. There is no substance whatsoever, the plot is nonexistent, and it relies on cliches so much despite not doing anything different with them. I would even say I made a mistake. Though this story introduces Falchion, his introduction here is about as random as someone watching the show without watching the movie seeing Falchion come out of nowhere. I don’t think you need to watch this film to enjoy the show. It’s best left untouched.

At first, I thought of making an argument that this movie would be a good start for newcomers to Tokusatsu. I wouldn’t say it would make for a good Kamen Rider introduction, as the franchise is more story based than Power Rangers or Super Sentai. But, as an introduction to Toku, I think it may work. It has a villain who wants to end the world, as many Toku villains are. It showcases the toys that do plague modern Toku but isn’t so much that it’s overwhelming. It has all the themes of these shows, albeit cliché. And the main rider gets an upgrade form, which is something to be expected. Plus, it’s a short film, so they have all the time to watch and finish it. But what do you think? If you’re an expert of Toku, or have watched this movie, would you show this to someone looking to get into the genre as an introduction? Let me know in the comments.

“Hmmm…I wonder if we’ll see this guy soon. Also, don’t question this room. It’s briefly shown sometimes.”

Anyway, next time, we return to Touma’s adventure as he tries to discover who the traitor is; the person who’s caused all the events in this series. However, he’ll learn that such a quest won’t bide well with his companions, so he’ll need an ancient one to survive.

-Samuel Argueta

Kamen Rider is owned by Toei and Bandai. Please support the official release.

Kamen Rider Saber Chapter 1: 15 Episodes of Agony

Introduction:

Kamen Rider Saber came out during the 2020-2021 period, during the 50th anniversary of the series just 3 years after the 20th anniversary of the Heisei Era. However, while Super Hero Senki is tied to Saber as a commeroation of the franchise, Revice would be the official anniversary series. So, technically Saber is an anniversary series but only in year.

Since this is the first Kamen Rider series I’m covering, I’ll quickly go over the basics. I would advise to go to my blog post covering Kamen Rider in general. Like every season, Saber has a weird ass gimmick that leads to a lot of genius, physical puns. This time, it’s a combination of books and knights. Many seasons before, especially in the last 6 years, lean heavily into science fiction as a homage to the Showa era. Saber, on the other hand, stands out as a high fantasy show with its own lore and alternate dimension, making it more of a homage to a lot of earlier Heisei like Kuuga and Blade.

“In this coming back to fight back the nut, his resistance will be a symbol for others to follow.”

When the first scans of the show were released, I had a mixed response. I loved that we were returning to the mystical side of rider, since it was what got me into Kuuga back in the day. While I still love the science fiction aspect, it was getting pretty stale by Zero One. The books looked interesting, considering how small the toys were, and the sword and knight aesthetic had the potential for more sword-based combat that would make Saber stand out. However, Saber’s Base suit was, and still is, not impressive. Not only did it lean more towards the design aesthetic of Build, but the idea that all of the dragon armor was on one side made it look incomplete. It also made the belt an eye sore. Drivers with multiple items in it to initiate a combo have all its slots filled most of the time, but the Seiken Swordriver allowed only one book to initiate the transformation. With just one, it just didn’t look right.

But I kept an open mind when the first trailer hit, which revealed that the show would be utilizing full CGI scenes. A new world, called Wonder World, with a rider possibly from it fighting monsters made of books while an indigo knight waited in the shadow. This show had promise. They may not have gotten through it all, but the world building they can do with the knights and this alternate dimension couldhave been it one of the most unique rider seasons in a while. After a year and 36 episodes…

I wanted to buy the hardest liquor.

To spoil a little of the overview post, Kamen Rider Saber became one of the worst seasons in the franchise (consider I haven’t watched every season yet), and a fundamental lesson in how to not write a story or create a tokusatsu show, in my opinion. Poorly executed characters, repulsive inconsistencies all around, and a mess of a plot from start to finish. Revice’s bare minimum, just the bare minimum, was enough to reinvigorate me back into the franchise. In my initial week-to-week viewing, I quit entirely because it was hard to get through.

“All the readers reading this wondering why I would do this to myself. The short answer to the paragraph is that I’m a sadist to myself.”

So, why the hell am I even reviewing it if I hated it so much? Well, because it’s still minty fresh in the mind factory. Before I came into this review, I wanted to trash the absolute hell out of this stink pile. It wasn’t until I sat down to plan this post that, instead, I wanted to not only finish it, but re-watch it in its entirety. I had the thought that maybe, in my numbness, I missed something that might have actually been good. I wanted to review the whole show bit by bit to understand why I didn’t like or what I might appreciate more. Something to make it more analytical and fairer rather than 10 pages of pure anger. Was I wrong, or was I right?

I’ll be splitting this review into different parts based on the 4 arcs of the show, including the short film with Falchion, before the overall finale. For those who have watched it, I will not include the swordsman chronicles series in the overall show synopsis, or the Sword of Logos saga for now, but I will use info within for clarification and character insight when needed. You do not have to watch the swordsman chronicles (due to it containing 2 new scenes and a bunch of repeat scenes) and you cannot watch the Sword of Logos saga until you’ve finished the second arc (due to spoiling said arc).

The next page will be a full story review for those who need a refresher before I give my thoughts or if you don’t want to watch the show. I will then split the rest, from characters to worldbuilding, into their own pages from pros to cons. Saber does have a lot, even in just one chapter, so I want it to be digested as easily as possible.

“My sanity getting dragged back into watching the show.”

Quikee: SD Barbatos featuring Mandalorian and Knuckles

Just a gallery of the model kits I got this Christmas. Included is the SD Barbatos Gundam from Iron-Blooded Orphans and the miniature Razor Crest from the Mandalorian.

Admittedly, the face for the Barbatos needs work since I accidently put topcoat on some scruffs. I’ll be fixing it on my own time. Until then, enjoy:

And…that’s it. But, for the next model kit pictures before or after the painted Unicorn, I’m gonna free your soul from the weight of gravity.

“And three times faster than my usual schedule.”

-Samuel Argueta

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Quickee: The First 2 hours of Metroid Dead, Painting a Gundam, and Actual Writing Stuff

Metroid Dread: Anxiety-based Horror.

“Lets be real, Samus is seriously one bad@ss girl. That stance with this creature in her way says it all.”

While I haven’t played every Metroid game (like many franchises I love), there’s something horrific yet adventurous about the Metroid series. Playing through Super and 2, running around these desolate, alien world fighting pirates and causing genocide, I get invested in how the developers managed to create a living world with nothing but pixels. The isolation gives an eerie vibe: there’s no one there to guide you. You’re with these dangerous creatures in these caverns; this is there home. Now blow it up.

Traversing in these alien worlds is incredibly fluid. Everyone knows and talks about how industry breaking Super was, with its unique approach to platforming that allows players to really feel in control of the environment. What I love about the 2d Metroid games are any mistake I make is mine and not the game…eh, sometimes. It’s a challenge but once you get the hang of it, it’s a fun Sci-fi experience that rewards you for understanding how it works.

When I saw Dread, I was excited. For the first time in 15 years, a new 2d Metroid was coming. First impressions were what I fell in love with, the alien caverns with additional machine civilizations, while the introductions of the EMMI gave this horror-like vibe. After playing through the Metroid 2 remake, I felt prepared for what Nintendo and MercuryStream had to offer in this new installment. I even watched my brother play Metroid Fusion on his Wii U just to catch up on the story. I got the game Sunday and played the first 2 hours. So, what are my thoughts?

Terminator theme intensifies

I love that the game doesn’t hold your hand and ruin any future playthroughs. So many other games pause just to tell you how to press the A button. Not Metroid Dread. It respect your time and your intelligence while still teaching you the core fundamentals of its gameplay. Plus, it wasn’t very difficult to get the hang of things. Which is great, cause this game expects you to.

Perfection. Right away, the game immediately takes you to the start up screen. No introductory video telling you what’s coming; the game will speak for itself…as much as a small cartridge can. With the red foreboding planet in the background, you’ve become aware that this game will be different. This game is all about survival.

After the opening cutscene, the gameplay is more fluid than ever. Samus felt incredible to control. Every wall jump, slide, counter, and ledge climb was smooth, becoming a major improvement from the Metroid 2 remake. Nothing felt grating and nothing felt like conflict with the game, which made traversing ZDR a pleasurable experience. The game doesn’t just thrust you into the fire, since it made the first area an area to understand its mechanics. The good thing is that the tutorial didn’t halt any progression every minute. A screen appears at the bottom to tell the command, but you can still move around in real time.

“Showers haven’t been the same since the beeping and booping.”

The main draw of Dread are the EMMIs, research machines hacked by an unknown party to attack Samus. Like S-AX, or as I liked to call the Sax, this enemy chases you around and is an instant kill. The difference is that EMMIs are in select locations but these locations are within a majority of the map, so you’ll need to go into them several times to progress. I was terrified by this every moment I say their grid entrances. The execution of this mechanic was so good because I felt so helpless and I didn’t want to go in, but the game was like, “haha, get in their bitch!”

I don’t play a lot of horror games, so never before had a game make me take a break to catch my breath. It took a lot of intermediate mastery of movement and a lot of planning to avoid or manipulate the EMMIs movements to get through their territory, but the sheer panic I felt when they spot me supplemented a subtle fear of them. Nothing in these areas felt cheap, sometimes, and the EMMI’s A.I were surprisingly intelligent, though I could tell where their placed. Besides that, their movement is so organic in nature that it was as fluid as Samus. Plus, the game gave a little window to knock them off…but it’s very rare that it’ll happen. The mechanic was incredible and a joy to play. Once you hear their signature call, it’ll stick with you.

The animations and graphics were stellar, some of the best technical and artistic designs I’ve seen on the console. It’s the best looking game on the Switch, from the lighting of areas perfectly matching the environments to the way machines and creatures moved. There may be some stutter, like area transitions, but the game’s presentation is consistent and smooth like nice butter.

“Opening up Spotify…”

If there’s one thing I didn’t like, as of right now, are the constant cutscenes. Some were fine, like most of Adam’s speeches, and they were just as pretty as the game itself, but it got a little annoying when I wanted to play the game. Thankfully, after a few hours in, it gets toned down a bit. I will say, some of Adam’s dialogue repeated the same information over again, making them redundant. It clashed with the simple tutorials, plus many of the cutscenes were already visual clues on what to do. This might be since I’m used to Super and 2, where it’s non stop platforming goodness. The good thing is the cutscenes are skippable so repeat playthroughs can send you straight into the action.

Overall, the game was an incredible experience and is easily the best Switch game out now. I do know its on the short side, apparently clocking in at 9 hours, but it’s something to expect from the 2d Metroid games. I’m very excited for what’s to come towards the end and I recommend you play it for yourself. Metroid Dread proves once again that the best games are the one’s where it’s not just mashing the A button over and over again to win.

My First Painting Project: The Gundam Unicorn!

For another anxiety induced project, I’ve been trying to paint my HG Gundam Unicorn Destroy Mode for the past 2 months. And by painting I mean trying to get the right tools for it and having a mental breakdown.

The first step was decide on what to paint and, really, it wasn’t quite hard. Basically, my project consists of all the grey parts and the V-fin. I wanted to go for a darker look for the grey and a pristine and consistent look for the fin since the base fin ignores the Unicorn mode. These are the paints I chose:

“Yes, they are all lacquer and, yes, I don’t know what I’m doing.”

The idea was to make the Unicorn as realistic and anime accurate as I possibly can, while giving the figure better details. I had the idea of making the outside beautiful while making the inner frame dark like the Earth Federation in the show (no idea how taht’ll turn out). I used Gunpla markers first, but they were pretty flawed in execution due to their crustiness and the fact that the tips are easily breakable. After the death of my white marker, I decided that painting would give a better paint job. If only I knew the cost to such perfection.

The first issue came with budget. I am an unemployed poor dude. Getting the necessary tools came with so many risks that I wasn’t sure of what to do. I knew spending so much on supplies was a bad idea, but I was determined to make the kit as beautiful as possible. I mean, I spent $28 on it.

The next problem was research. I watched a lot of videos on how to paint, but a lot of them gave different responses. What tools I need, what it should look like, and how to actually paint. This culminated on my first try of painting…which was the next circle of hell. I didn’t know about dilution, which was surprisingly hard to find an answer, which meant that I wasn’t sure on how much I needed to thin the paint. All the pigments stayed in the container, which was a pain to get out because I didn’t own a paint stirrer and they kept spilling and drying on the canister. Is that why it’s called paint, because of the pain?

Then, the plastic ice cube container was a horrible idea because it couldn’t hold the paint or the paint thinner, and any paint that spilled due to the awful nature of the container tips meant I couldn’t have it hold other colors without it mixing. Plus, at a certain extent, the container had a indent on the sides that caused too much liquid to spill into another. The paint was getting everywhere as I tried to thin the paint as much as I could to get the milk consistency everyone was talking about (which I’m still not sure is what is needed from metallics). I didn’t know about buffering at the time, so I was confused as to how the paint should look on the plastic spoon. I also didn’t have a respirator mask, so the 3 hours of using the stuff meant that I probably caused some lung damage. Admittedly, I’m horrible at paying attention and having focus with the how-to tips (probably why I suck at writing), so by 3 am I only painted one part.

“I got this syringe thinking that it could be good to take out the paint. Poor bastard had no idea what was coming.”

My cheap and budget solution didn’t go well and now I’m stuck with Dark Iron that’s thinned to a point where I’m not sure if its correct or right, a syringe that being a b!tch to clean, and a bunch of supplies that might get melted if I clean with the thinner. I learned a lot the hard way and I’m now trying to comeback with a better mindset and more preparations. I’m hoping to get some bottles, a paint stirrer, and a good mask to do another attempt. For those who are clearly better than me, let me know in the comments any tips to be better or any complaints that I’m a dumb mother-

Writing Updates and My thoughts: The Struggle…

Remember how I was writing stuff? Yeah, me neither. Guess I just wanna discuss how cool second drafts can be since I’m in the process of rereading my first draft. Everyone says it but I’ll reiterate: second drafts are necessary. It’s common for many starting writers have this idea that the first draft has to be perfect. It’s not and reading it will prove it. It also proves how easy it is to slip into depression.

It’s terrifying to accept that our first execution was bad and hand our babies to others for criticism, but it’s something all writers have to do. I’m not perfect at it and you’re not perfect at it. Unless your a published writer, in which case please don’t hunt me down.

But second drafts are a way to improve upon the story and refine it before you inevitably have someone else read it. Some ideas may stick or not while others may lead to new and more expanded upon concepts that can with execution. I’ve definitely had some ups and downs with this, especially with how long I take with school on my shoulders, but it helps give ideas depth rather than seem like after thoughts.

Now, I wanted to give some tips that I’ve been learning to share with writers hoping to get better.

Realism vs Believability: I’ve been struggling with this a lot when I was doing more worldbuilding, despite my story being as unrealistic as possible. I think this fear comes from how, when there are story inconsistencies or bad writing, readers and viewers will go, “that doesn’t happen” or “that’s unrealistic.” I also see this from how they like it when something fictional can actually happen in the real world, and I found myself agreeing with shows like Gundam. Because of this, I feared that my story, no matter how fictional it was, has to somehow fit within the lines of reality. I blame my mind’s bloodlust for Youtube Comments. This, of course, is bull and stupid. Suspension of disbelief exists for a reason. A story, to be good, has to set itself up to be believable within the terms of its own world, such as explaining why kids can beat up a god, but also keeping in mind how people, if the story has humans, would react to a situation. Stories don’t have to be realistic to be good, but they have to stay consistent in their tone, characters, and world rules to be believable.

Backstory and Character Creation: Going in-depth into your own character helps give a story depth and create a character who’s believable and consistent. Now, not everything you write will make it to the page. But, it gives a better mindset into how to write this character, how they react to things or people. It also gives the readers their wants, needs, hobbies, likes, dislikes, and everything about them aside from the plot. A character should serve the plot, but the plot shouldn’t restrain the primary character. Minor characters are an exception, since not every character can reasonably have depth, but the main or important ones should have traits and characteristics so depth and consistent that they feel like real people instead of cardboard cut outs. It’s hard, but worth it.

Write Everything Down: One of my main drawbacks with Maladaptive Daydreaming is keeping everything in my head. Don’t do this, it’s not a good idea. Write stuff down so that way its physical and readable. Sometimes, the worst and best ideas show themselves in actual words instead of our generalized, malleable brains.

Villains: This is more of my own bias. Well, most advice is, but this is the most bias from me. I know that I discussed how important backstories are, but I feel like a tragic or sympathetic backstory is becoming an easy out for bad guys, such as Thanos and Kovira. This works well for a lot of villains who see themselves as the real hero in their plots, like the ones I just listed, or the real tragic villains who are doing what they do due to either protect someone or because tragedies happened in their life, like Anakin Skywalker’s turn to Darth Vader. But don’t do this if your villain is supposed to be the worst person ever because that could lead to unwanted sympathy from them that overshadows their horrible deeds.

“If every villain has to have some kind of deep backstory or some kind of sympathetic motivation, then why are 2/4 of these villains so memorable. Is it because they’re dragons? It’s cause their dragons. isn’t it?

I remember Steven Universe’ ending disappointing me the first time I watched it because it tried to redeem White Diamond. Now, schedule wise, Cartoon Network was horrible and it was hard for me to keep every detail in mind. However, the biggest detail that’s not hard to forget is how the Diamonds corrupted every gem on Earth and they rule the Gem World in a tyrannical rule. Like, their evil. Plus, White Diamond’s introduction perfectly set up her villainous character. Her empty stare, her referring to Pink Diamond’s rebellion as something to “get it out of her system,” and the fact that she doesn’t let Steven speak. Her character’s white theme has a sort of “perfection” to it, which is something I appreciate. Black is the classic evil, but white is the more twisted kind of evil. The show has been building up to how horrible the Diamond’s rule has been and showing White as a villain not to mess around with. I certainly don’t think death was necessary (I don’t think all villains need to die for there to be a conclusion) but I found it so wrong that the show and characters just forgive her and made her this quirky, lovable person in Future as if she didn’t cause mass trauma for her people. She didn’t really face any consequences for the deaths and conquest she’s caused, if anything she got a slap on the wrist, making her a weak villain in terms of character and resolution. I get forgiveness is the point of the end, but White Diamond was a villain who really didn’t deserve it.

Not every villain should be so sympathetic that their murders and destruction becomes justified, and throwing it in becomes weak writing. Sometimes, people like it when the villain is just the biggest douchebag ever. Don’t be afraid to make the bad guy…the bad guy.

Anyway, that’s all I have for this quickee. It was just gonna about Metroid Dread, but I decided to add some other stuff. The Child of Light Part 2 will come out next week while everything else will have to be pushed back. I definitely want to do Kamen Rider Saber to see whether or not my harsh criticisms were true, but I’m still afraid of the fresh hell that might come. I’m also trying to figure out the Mailing List thing but since not many people are subscribed I’m not quite sure what to do. Until then, see you later.

-Samuel Argueta

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

Earthbound Beginnings: The Giygas Menace

Introduction:

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

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

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

Earthbound Beginnings/ Mother 1: The Classic Lost In Magicant

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gameplay:

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

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

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

Overworld: Where the h3ll am I?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Battles: All Quest, One Dragon.

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

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

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

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

Character:

Ninten: Doing what Sega can’t

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

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

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

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

Saint Ana’s Fire: Snowman in Motion

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

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

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

Pink Lloyd: Wish You Were Here, Sometimes

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

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

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

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

ICUPippi: …and she’s gone.

Teddy Roosevelt: Of the Booty-Busting Gang

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Soundtrack:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Issues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overview: Is it Worth Playing?

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

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

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

See you all when I play Mother 3 in 2056!

-Samuel Argueta

Recommendation Corner

John Lennon: Mother

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

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

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

SSSS. Dynazenon

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

Image from Gridman Fandom, all credit to original uploader

Super Metroid

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

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

Quickee: 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

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