Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Zen of Musou: Why I love Warriors games

A lot of reviewers hate Dynasty Warriors games in any form as well as a fair few gamers. Fact is, enough people love the games to keep the franchise alive in the west. The question is...why do people love these games? I... can't answer for everyone, but I sure can tell you why I love the series.

There have been many games and series in the franchise, some based on anime and some that aren't. Most people know it for it's core series Dynasty Warriors but some games aren't so easily identified. Believe it or not Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage and One Piece: Pirate Warriors are part of the Warriors franchise... actually you may already know that.

Gameplay of the series is infamous for being repetitive, too simplistic, uninspired, never innovates, it's the same game each time, it's shallow, mindlessly boring, etc. I laugh because the same can be said for every popular video game, especially military shooters. While I can't argue being a mindless fan of many franchises, I can say we all have a habit of jumping on the hate bandwagon without playing the games in question(like all the people who hate JRPGs just for existing).

Before I go into why I personally love the Warriors series, I'll suggest you go watch the Jimquisition episode "Dynasty Warriors is the Citizen Kane of Gaming" first for a start and then finish reading this further. Jim Sterling's opinions on the series are also on par with my own but I feel I may have some different ones as well.

The Warriors series is one I've loved since I played Dynasty Warriors 3 way back when. I actually fell in love with the gameplay and was fascinated by the story from day one. I've found as I've grown older that the series can be both enjoyable and cathartic as well as spark an interest in their source material. Another thing I love is that the series doesn't demand you keep buying each new game, you can just jump in on the newest game without feeling like you missed out.

I've always found the gameplay relaxing. The games have such simple, pick up and play controls and having an hour or more to swat hundreds and thousands of drones can really help de-stress from a tough day or chill out if you need a break from reality. The A.I of the cannon fodder units is... dumb, but the kinda make up for that with shear numbers while the generals(mainly playable characters) are more aggressive and a lot more "intelligent". Now I've rarely found the enemies too challenging or stressful and that's part of the reason why I enjoy the game. It can also be cathartic killing thousands of soldiers and feel like a conqueror when you're feeling stressed or when you feel insignificant.

The stories of the games have peeked my interest(except Warriors Orochi games). The stories of the games seem to come from various source materials and each one has been interesting to research(although the anime ones were easier to indulge in). Personally I've found the non anime based games overall more interesting, but the anime ones have been more enjoyable with their cross media appeal. Admittedly most people won't care about the source material of the non anime games, but to each their own I suppose.

One of the things I enjoy the most is the multiplayer... couch multiplayer. Warriors games are a lot more fun with a friend or family member(which is why the portable ones don't last too long in my playing now pile). I mainly play them with my mother, but I have enjoyed them with my brother and my best mate too. Whether it's working together to clear the missions or competing to see who can KO 9999 enemies before the mission is over. Playing with others makes it a lot more fun doing the things you can do on your own. There's usually a VS mode in the games but I honestly don't care for it.

I really love the soundtrack of the games... for the most part. A lot of the music in the Warriors games are high energy rock and metal tracks that really get the adrenaline pumping. I've found that the core series(both Dynasty and Samurai Warriors) usually have the best music in the series. I do find it kinda sucky that the anime ones never feature music from the shows and they always seem to be screaming for it too! I'd love to see a Dynasty Warriors Gundam with those awesome TM Revolution tracks from Gundam Seed and Gundam Seed Destiny.

I kinda realise this is almost a general review for the series, but I'm just trying to express what I love about the Warriors games. I find them just so relaxing to play and I just lose myself to the gameplay. I can fall into a Zen like state playing these games where my mind empties and there's nothing but me and the rising KO count. Some people who play MMORPGs and JRPGs can relate when level grinding(believe it or not some of us don't find grinding completely boring) and the groove you can get into can be just as relaxing as swatting 5000 soldiers in Dynasty Warriors 8. So why not give a Warriors game a go(One Piece or Gundam may appeal to you more) and see if the Zen of Musou is for you.

Legend Of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds Review

Legend Of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Price: AU$59.95
Rated: G
I know this is a late review but I'm no longer setting deadlines for these reviews since I love to have fun and I do have a habit of having multiple games on my plate at the same time. Anyway... here's a review I drafted back in December.

Every time Nintendo releases a Zelda game, we all shout out with glee... but when we found out about the structure of A Link Between Worlds, some weren't happy... even I was a little suspicious of how it would turn out. So... does ALBW try something new to success or tarnish the franchise like the 2 DS touchscreen only games? By now you've already made the choice(mainly because it was release months ago), but here's my review regardless.

The story takes place generations after the events of the SNES classic Legend Of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Link(or Knil on my Hero mode file... not very original) is the apprentice of Hyrule's blacksmith and is charged with delivering a sword to the Hyrule guards captain. You go to the sanctuary to hand it over but a mage named Yuga is there and turns the sanctuary keeper Seres into a painting. Later he does it to Zelda and yadda, yadda, yadda... BEGIN YOUR QUEST TO SAVE HYRULE!

The gameplay has been transplanted from the SNES classic so retro gaming veterans(like yours truly) will be familiar and newbies won't have too big of a learning curve to overcome. The games does explain things well if you are really green around the controller so that's nice too... though back in my day(may I remind you I'm 28), you got left with no clue and only 2 buttons. It's a top down view that really works well with the 3DS' selling gimmick and actually helps in various dungeons you'll explore during the game. One thing that bugs me is the fact that the D-Pad is only used to survey the area by moving the camera... why not movement? Maybe it's A Link to the Past's fault? Even the bosses are push overs.

Yeah, nostalgia is this games big draw for older gamers. The world of A Link Between Worlds is a 90% reproduction of A Link to the Past. The new things in this game mainly revolve around the dungeons, which are all different to ALttP and it's also anything but linear like most of the Zelda games. Yep, most of the dungeons can be tackled in any order you feel thanks to Ravio's store... in your house... that he set up without your permission... he's a jerk!

Speaking of Ravio, thanks to him the linearity of the game has been thrown for a loop thanks to the ability to rent the major items used in the dungeons. For a small fee, you can rent the items you need to go through dungeon... but if you die, you'll lose all the rented items and have to rent them again... like I said, Ravio's a jerk! You can purchase the items from Ravio... but man does it cost a lot! Thank heavens rupees are plentiful and easy to harvest, plus you can hold 9999 rupees from the get go! Yeah, lots of money to use if you're not doing so well and need to rent over... and over... and over again!

So the whole two worlds thing? Yeah... the Dark World of ALttP has been renamed Lorule and partially redesigned so the game doesn't completely feel like they were originally remaking ALttP and changed their minds half way through development before the announcement. Pretty much Hyrule hosts the dungeons to get the Master Sword and Lorule is where you quest to rescue the seven sages... just like ALttP. Ok ok,enough ragging on the similarities to the SNES classic.

Each dungeon revolves around the use of a specific item like the games in the past... but thanks to Ravio the extortionist, you can get the items from him and take them in any order you feel. These dungeons also have a great habit of making 2DS owners jealous of 3DS owners because like Super Mario 3D Land, the 3D actually is useful in some of the dungeons and make so much pop! As for the difficulty and length... the dungeons aren't too difficult to clear and take about 15 to 20 minutes to beat(at least for me) and I think that may be because after all, it's a portable game.

Being a Zelda games, you'd expect great visuals and music right? Yep! The visuals are very nice to look at and it's nice to see ALttP's world in 3D. As for music... holy shit! The music is some of the best in the series and the reworked classics sound better then ever. If you have hearing problems or playing on a 2DS with it's mono speaker, you have my sympathy.

There is plenty to do in the game other then beat dungeons and going bankrupt with the help of Ravio. There are dozens of heart pieces to hunt down to max out your health, mini games to beat and Maiamai kids to find. The Maiamai's are a thing I have to talk about... remember the Skulltulla's from Ocarina of Time? Yeah, they're like them and collecting them does allow you to get improved versions of your items but whether you want to is up to you... it didn't make much difference for me but the completionist in me was awakened and had to get them all and there is a benefit to collecting all 100 of them... a near full screen sword spin!

Not enough for ya? Need more things to do in the game? Well there is the challenge tower in Lorule that has 3 difficulty levels and the hardest is around 50 rooms and you need to do it twice for an upgraded lantern and bug net... it turns the bug net in to weapons! Still not enough? If your up for a different type of challenge and are short on rupees because of Ravio's overly inflated prices, there are Streetpass Dark Links to fight. The old man in Kakariko Village will set up a Streetpass version of you to fight others and you can get random player's Dark Links around the world with varying difficulties and they can be fun to do and there are even achievements to complete through these fights if you're into that. Personally I hardly bothered playing against Dark Links because I was never short on cash and my internet is terrible ADSL+2 at 4mbps.

What can I say about this game that everyone else hasn't said... I got nothing! This is the best new Zelda I've played in years. Yeah I like Skyward Sword and Twilight Princess, but Wind Waker was the best and before ALBW, I wasn't having as much fun as I did back in 2002. A Link Between Worlds is a lot of fun! Is it worth owning? Umm... do you need to breathe? You should ask if it has lastability, and yes it does! Hero mode is designed for veterans with a really hard difficulty that makes Link as durable as a wafer. The problem is that you'll need to finish the game first to unlock it and even though Link is as fragile as rice paper, it still isn't too difficult since you already beat the game once.

Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is a must own 3DS game that is oozing with nostalgia for retro gamers and it's not too difficult for newcomers. It's fun, it's great looking and I love it! This may be the best 3DS game to date and is definitely high up on my favourite Zelda's list, maybe even my number 2 after Wind Waker. Go buy this game, buy a 3DS(or 2DS if you're a cheapskate) and enjoy a game that isn't a FPS. I love this game!

Score 5/5

Monday, April 14, 2014

Why I (mostly) hate Superman!

I hate Superman! Seriously, of all the comic book characters he's always rubbed me the wrong way. I know most people are fans of him from his various depictions (my mum loves the 1978 movie version... because Christopher Reeves) but I'm going to talk about what I've always hated about Superman and why a certain version actually proves that there is or should I say WAS hope for the character.

Superman started innocently enough way back in the late 1930's as a bare bones hero with the depth of a teaspoon and primarily for kids with a nearly inexhaustible array of powers... all well and good but as time passed things got confusing and irritating. Now I could go into the complete history of Superman... but I haven't got that much patience's and Wikipedia already has it. Now if you're caught up with his history I'll go into why I hate him.

Now I could be a jerk and say "I hate his patriotism!" but I don't... also IF I did that would mean I hate Captain America too for the same reason(note: I don't hate Captain America... I just find him boring outside of the recent movies and The Winter Soldier graphic novel) no no no, I hate that there is no real Clark Kent! Seriously, Clark Kent and Superman in the comics, movies and cartoons are always masks hiding the true person. My question I've always asked when consuming Superman media is "Where's the boy raised by the Kent's?" and I never seemed to find that answer for YEARS!

Now if you've seen enough Superman media, you'll notice that Clark Kent is on average, a quiet guy who is sometimes clumsy and dull. Superman on the other hand is... well... infallible, God like, a messiah! Both persona's are boring as hell and neither are genuine! In short, both are masks he uses to hide himself. The Clark Kent persona has always felt forced, like he was deliberately hiding his true self and Superman never seems to reflect any of the morals and teachings the Kent's supposedly passed on to him. Superman was never... human!

Here's the thing, there was a version done of Superman where the character wasn't a one dimensional bore and I actually enjoyed it... Lois and Clark: The new adventures of Superman! I've watched every episode of that show because it was the first time I ever saw the man behind the masks... or should I say mask since it was the first time we could truly see the real Clark Kent that was raised by the Kent's. The Clark Kent throughout the series managed to never seem like it was an act and I loved that because it finally made the character... human! Yes, I know he's an alien but he wasn't raised a Kryptonian! The Superman persona in this TV show also managed to reflect some of what his parents passed onto him and while it was still an act, even the Superman persona didn't seem as over the top like the more commonly used Jesus parallel we've seen every other time... especially in the crappy 2013 movie!

I know it seems like a flimsy argument against Superman but compare him to my favourite comic book characters Batman and Spider-man, he's a boring and one dimensional character that reflects nothing of his human upbringing and hides behind 2 masks. I'm sure most people reading this probably clicked here by accident, but I thought I'd post this to talk about something I've wanted to talk about for years.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: More questions than answers

Ok... kinda annoyed with how Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D likes to keep throwing out all of these mysteries and not answer the questions they raise. Now admittedly this is the first season and it does have to keep up with the movies but come on!

If you're keeping up with the Marvel Movieverse(that's all the Marvel movies not released through Sony or Fox so not X-Men or Spider-man) Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is essentially a show to tie events together between movies and set up future plots. In theory it's a brilliant idea, but in execution it's kinda between a rock and a hard place... that hard place being normal TV audiences and comic book fans.

Now when making a show for TV that's for comic book fans is one thing. Comic book fans love complex story lines and mysteries. As a comic book fan I live for them and most fans do, but with a TV show that only has 24 episodes a year... you can't really afford to have too many mysteries because by the time it returns to TV most fans would have forgotten. In comics this isn't as much of a problem since comics come out monthly(sometimes fortnightly) and we can easily refer to our collection to refresh ourselves but with TV... not quite as easy.

As for regular TV viewers...they probably aren't watching it anymore anyway. Trying to make a TV show more targeted at comic book fans appeal to the normal TV viewing public isn't easy. Now with a comic book writer like Joss Whedon on the show(among others as producers) you'd think his skill with his TV shows like Buffy and Firefly would give him a best of two worlds advantage... but you can tell watching it that it's a niche show more targeted at the Marvel Movieverse fans. Pretty much all attempts to make it mainstream have failed.

As for all the questions with no answers... it's the movies fault I suppose. In the last few episodes we had Hydra return(see Captain America: The First Avenger for who Hydra are) and the unknown status of allegiance throughout S.H.I.E.L.D, an alien in a tube in a hidden base(Guardians of the Galaxy will probably cover that... or at least the origin of the alien), who's responsible for Deathlok and what T.A.H.I.T.I may have done to Agent Coulson along with Nick Fury's involvement with it. I look forward to seeing how these play out but I can see lots of people either turning away from the show if the trend keeps up.

I personally enjoy Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D but I think it's time for answers to the questions being raised before the end of the season. Also I don't see this series succeeding on DVD/Blu Ray/Rip Off Digital. Well... only time will tell. Thanks for indulging in my attempt at something different. Tell me what you think.

I'm back baby... if you cared.

Hey guys and girls and miscellaneous, I finally got a new PC. It's not very powerful at all but I don't game on PC so it's all good. So you now know why I haven't been updating this in such a long time. I'm also changing how I do things on my blog since the break between post.

So the big changes will revolve around many things. First off is reviews... I'm not going to try and write them as quickly as I used to because it's too hard to produce them at a fast pace and enjoy the game... plus I don't get paid for it! Retro reviews may start showing up again once the Retron 5 comes out or if I feel nostalgic.

I may also start talking about movies and TV shows I watch as well(probably a lot of Doctor Who just to warn you!) since I do watch a lot of stuff that I feel like talking about. These will only be done whenever an episode of a show inspires me to write something.

Another thing I may start talking about are the comics I read(and manga if I start buying more again). Mainly if I do it'll be relating to things that bug or interest me. I have no intention of regurgitating full plot synopsis' or go deep into the lore.

So yeah, not much is going to change in the long term is it? Did you miss me? As for the games I still have on my to do list... the list will be gone so don't worry about it, I'm not. I do hope to write more now that I have a new PC... but we'll see.