Friday, March 24, 2017

Forgotten Tragedies in Gaming: The 1987 Metroid Mind Blow!

As gaming evolves and becomes more and more mainstream pointing out acts of misogyny, racism, homophobia, patriarchy, and white privilege are far more common place than they were in the early days of gaming. However, this doesn't mean that these things didn't exist, it only means you were too complacent in their existence. These, forgotten tragedies of gaming will no longer be ignored or treated as some sacred cow from a simpler time. NO! I refuse to allow you and your white privilege to claim the past was all “good” and video games were once innocent. Video games were always horribly anti-woman, you were just too blind to see it! You were too content playing as your white privileged avatars to notice all the women and minorities you were harming with your hate speech! Yes, playing video games that are misogynistic and racist is a form of hate speech. In fact, simply owning an expensive Nintendo Entertainment System was hate speech because we all know they were priced extra expensive so minorities couldn't afford them. They were also placed in the boys aisles at department stores because video game companies like American owned Nintendo hate women as much as it hates diversity and loves Islamaphobia! If we are to be honest, Nintendo's mascot, Mario Mario, is a adulterous racist who attacked the poor brown skinned ape, which we all know is a stand in for People of Color, to rescue a white woman from his evil clutches as if to say white women don't belong with People of Color! I digress, because this isn't about Mario Mario, this is about your white privilege.

Now then, let us talk about the 1987 Metroid Mind Blow, an incident that left an entire generation into Nazi sympathizers. For those that have no clue, Metroid is the hero of a game of the same name where a space suit clad individual kills several natives of an alien world in support of a racist colonial Earth government, probably run by Donald Trump III! Anyway, Metroid removes the helmet after you beat the game and is revealed to be a transgender woman which caused the minds of many Cis males to go into temporary comas as their minds were literally blown. This shocking reveal caused their young Cis minds to become twisted so that when they recovered from their catatonic state to have a deep seated hatred of women. They are especially hateful of powerful, beautiful women like Amy Schumer, Lena Dunham, and Leslie Jones! These damaged young men would grow up and head the hateful Gamer Gate movement, which is why we need to hand over final edit and complete design control of video games to willing humble, peace loving, soft spoken Feminist like Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn. Thank you for reading and be ready for the next Forgotten Tragedies of Gaming where I will discuss Sega's Streets of Rage...& Misogyny!

*All images are owned by their respective copyright holders and are used under fair use guidelines

Thursday, March 9, 2017

6 Villians The Avengers Could Face After Infinity War And How It Might Happen!

The Avengers have survived an alien invasion of New York and a super computer named Ultron, but in 2018 they will face one of the biggest threats to ever appear in the Marvel Universe, comics or otherwise, Thanos. If facing Thanos wasn't bad enough in and of itself, Thanos is expected to have all six Infinity Stones gathered and resting on his golden gauntlet affectionately called the Infinity Gauntlet in the comics. Despite how big of a threat Thanos is, no one expects him to win, though he is sure to shake up the MCU. While others are focusing on what sort of army or back-up Thanos could bring with him, I am looking to the future and trying to predict who will be the next threat to the universe that the Avengers have to put down. What follows is 6 villains the Avengers could face after Infinity War and how it might happen.
6: The Maestro
If you have no idea who The Maestro is nor could you venture a guess based on the picture, he is an evil version of the Hulk from the future. The Maestro is stronger, smarter, and far more nasty than any version of the Hulk and in several comics he not only rules the world but has killed off every other hero and villain who dared to oppose him. With the Hulk showing up in Thor Ragnarok and being part of some sort of gladiatorial arena I expect the Hulk to be portrayed as having a far greater intellect than we have seen from him thus far. In fact, if they truly embrace the Planet Hulk storyline as they claim they are, then Bruce Banner and The Hulk finding peace and becoming one would be a great way to sow the seeds of a Maestro appearance in the MCU. As a being stronger than any member of the Avengers he would prove a truly formidable opponent, but when you add in his intellect and strategic planning abilities then he could be the deadliest enemy the Avengers will ever face. 

5: Immortus and Kang The Conquer
Immortus and Kang are both time traveling humans who have crossed the paths of the Avengers in the comics and cartoons plenty of times. Immortus is less a villain and more of a misguided "hero" who is charged with protecting the timeline. As such, I could see him show up, and to paraphrase Mordo in the Dr. Strange movie, to make Dr. Strange and the Avengers "pay the bill that has come due" do to all the use of the Time Stone in both Dr. Strange and Avengers Infinity War. Immortus could revive any dead Avengers or villains as part of his Legion of the Unliving like he does in the comics forcing the Avengers to fight their dead friends. After defeating Immortus the Avengers could find out he was trying to fix the timeline in order to stop the coming of Kang! Kang, the evil despotic future version of Immortus, wants nothing more than to defeat the Avengers and add the 21st Century to his list of claimed time domains. Kang using his power of time travel could allow Marvel to slip in new actors for the roles of key characters by saying Kang or Immortus changed the past thus causing a new version of the present. An example would be causing Tony Stark to lose the use of his legs and thus Col. Rhodes became Iron Man with Stark acting as his armor maker. They could make any changes they needed to casting and it would all fit into the narrative and shoot new life into the MCU.

4: The Champion (The Contest of The Champion)
With The Collecter already in the MCU and The Grandmaster set to appear in Thor Ragnarok, the appearance of a third, or fourth if Ego turns out to be an Elder like I predict, Elder wouldn't be too far fetched. The Champion of the Universe, or Tryco Slatterus, is a powerful being who has dedicated his nearly immortal life to fighting and winning. I could see him showing up to challenge the members of the MCU to combat lest Earth be destroyed either on his own or as part of a plan set in motion by The Grandmaster. This could lead to the heroes of the MCU having to face off with one another to pick several warriors to face The Champion, or we could see The Champion make his way through them one by one until he faces either The Hulk or a Destroyer powered Iron Man suit.

3: Loki (Acts of Vengeance)
As one of the most popular characters in the MCU, Loki slipping into the role of main threat would be very well received by fans of the movies. Now, in the comics Loki once orchestrated an event called Acts of Vengeance where he convinced the villains of the Marvel comics to switch heroes and go after targets that would be unfamiliar with them, giving them a better chance at victory. Now in the comics it wasn't revealed to be Loki until midway through the event, with each main villain thinking it was them who came up with this idea. This could allow a lot of set-up in each heroes own movie, such as a Captain America movie where he faces off with The Mandarin or an Iron Man movie that sees Iron Man try to stop a rampaging Abomination. This would all lead up to an Avengers movie that sees all the heroes of the MCU face off with all the MCU villains!

2: The X-Men
This is a long shot, but if they want to introduce the X-Men into the MCU they have to either reboot the MCU or show the X-Men exist in an alternate reality/dimension. Imagine if The Grandmaster challenges the Avengers to a contest and instead of picking villains from the MCU like you might expect, instead shows up with The X-Men! A drag out, knock down, winner take all contest between these two teams would be freaking epic! Making this movie would basically allow Marvel Studios and Fox to print money with the amount of tickets they would sell.

1: Galactus and his Heralds
Like the X-Men this is another long shot as the rights to Galctus are held by Fox, but if Marvel Studios and Sony can cut a deal then anything is possible. Galactus showing up and trying to devour the Earth would cause every hero in the MCU to take up arms and go on the offensive. Add in the many heralds he has had over the years as lieutenants and you got the recipe for a great battle between to powerful forces. So, what do you think? Did I forget someone who could be a better villain? As always. feel free to comment, like, share, tweet, or whatever other thing you kids do on your social media these days.

*All images are owned by their respective copyright holders and are used under fair use guidelines

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Retro Review: Final Fantasy Mystic Quest, The Black Sheep of the Final Fantasy Family

Recently, as I was perusing some YouTube channels, I ran across a video trashing the game Final Fantasy Mystic Quest. Now, I won't try to tell you that it is the greatest game ever, but by no means is it a horrible game. In fact, it's a pretty good game. The reasons that this game gets so much hate is right there in the name... Final Fantasy. You see, what you need to remember when playing Mystic Quest is that it isn't intended for RPG veterans or hardcore Final Fantasy players. On the contrary, this game is an entry point into the genre, letting RPG virgins get their feet wet before diving into a full fledged title with all the bells, whistles, and hundreds of hours of gameplay. Had the game been released simply as Mystic Quest without Final Fantasy in the title, it would have been seen by more people how I see it.

The game places you in the shoes of Benjamin: an adventure who is climbing the Hill of Destiny. During his climb, his hometown is destroyed in an earthquake. Despite wishing to return home, he is met by a mysterious Old Man who tells Benjamin he must fulfill the Prophecy of the Knight. You are therefore charged with finding the Four Elemental Crystals and restoring the power of the Focus Tower. As you travel the world, Benjamin meets various quirky characters and adventurers (some of whom will join you in battle, of course). Although nowhere as deep as modern RPGs, the story keeps your attention, doesn't bog you down with tons of named npcs, and doesn't require you to learn intricate back stories of everyone you meet. Streamlined and simple is the way the game treats story, travel, and battle.

One of the coolest features in this game is the way enemy sprites (which are huge) change to reflect the damage you inflict on them. Goblins gain scars. Ice Golems slowly melt. Giant bone monsters lose bones until they are nothing but a pile of dust. This feature alone would make combat in newer rpgs several times better. Could you imagine playing Skyrim and the dragon you're fighting slowly losing flesh and blood as you attack it? The main Final Fantasy series as a whole would be better off if they adopted this unique feature, instead of using the tired mechanic of monsters disappearing when they are dead. Mystic Quest was also incredibly entertaining the way it let the player use weapons outside of battles. Swords can push switches, axes chop down trees, and a claw can be used like a Legend of Zelda hook shot. Each one is added just when you start to get bored with the previous one so you're never left feeling underwhelmed by upgrades.

You might be thinking, "This guy likes the game... but he doesn't seem to love it." Well, I've been holding back a little. You see, I have always considered myself an rpg player first and foremost. Rpg, jrpg, tactical rpg: if it was remotely rpg, I played it. My love of the genre is so vast that I've played Beyond the Beyond, SaGa Frontier, and Vandal Hearts to completion. For those who haven't played them... they sucked! The truth is, I was introduced to the rpg genre by this game. Without this game, I wouldn't be the gamer I am today. You see, this game set out to lure kids into a genre that was seen at the time as extremely long, difficult, and too complicated for anyone who wasn't a hardcore gamer. Final Fantasy Mystic Quest gives noobs strong basics and a new appreciation for the rpg genre without bogging them down in menus. Any game that generates new love beyond basic platformers and shooters can't be all bad. This is why I love Final Fantasy Mystic Quest and why you should too! As always. feel free to comment, like, share, tweet, or whatever other thing you kids do on your social media these days.

*All images are owned by their respective copyright holders and are used under fair use guidelines

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Guardians of the Galaxy 2: A Theory About Ego

One of the biggest surprises for the sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy was the announcement of Ego the Living Planet being placed in the role of Starlord's father. As soon as that news hit the Internet, the theories as to how this would play out in the movie began to fly. Eventually we found out that Ego would have a human form, portrayed by none other than Kurt Russell. With the release of the second trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy 2 we finally got a glimpse of Ego's human form and that sent my mind into overdrive. I have a theory about Ego's MCU connections as well as his ultimate fate, but before we get into that I should give those of you who are not familiar with Ego a quick refresher course.

In the comic books, Ego is a living planet that has existed for millions of years in a remote area of the universe. Ego's origin has changed quite a bit since his debut in 1966 with his current origin being that he is a creation of the cosmic being known as The Stranger. Over the years Ego has flip flopped from hero to villain to neutral entity several times. Ego was almost consumed by the cosmic entity Galactus on two occasions, but both times he was rescued by heroes from Earth. Ego has complete control of his mass, changing the planet's environments at will, creating flora and fauna as he sees fit, and being able to move through space.

Now, I doubt that Ego's origin will involve The Stranger, since introducing another cosmic being to the MCU would make Thanos seem less important and grand. With that said, I believe Ego will be revealed to be related to, perhaps by a blood oath and not blood, The Collector and The Grandmaster. This will cement the idea of The Elders of the Univers in the MCU and since Ego was once considered a Elder of the Universe in the comic books this would not be too far a deviation from the source material. Giving Ego a connection to the Elders of the Universe will also make him a target for Thanos, since Thanos wants the Infinity Stones and The Collector has one, the Reality Stone AKA the Aether. So, it is my belief that we will see Thanos attack Ego and demand the location of The Collector, threatening the death of Starlord if Ego refuses to give Thanos the information. Ultimately Ego will divulge the location of The Collector in order to save his son, whom he grew attached to over the course of Guardians of the Galaxy 2, but Thanos, after being given the information he seeks, will boast how he will kill Starlord despite his promise to spare him, enraging Ego. Ego will then be killed by Thanos. With Ego's dying breath he will warn Starlord to stay away from Earth since Thanos will be heading there soon, but Starlord will decide to face Thanos and get revenge thus setting up how The Guardians of the Galaxy wind up in Avengers Infinity War. Well, that is my theory anyway, what do you guys think? As always. feel free to comment, like, share, tweet, or whatever other thing you kids do on your social media these days.

*All images are owned by their respective copyright holders and are used under fair use guidelines

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Violent Games Do Not Create Violent Children

As always, members of the media and the government are attacking the video game industry, despite not having a national tragedy to thrust the latest battle in the war on video games into the public spotlight. In the past, CNN reported that President Obama was looking into the link between violent games and violent children. A link that obviously was not established since we have not heard a single thing about it. The look into violent games was the government’s knee jerk reaction to the tragic Sandy Hook situation. Once again the blame is being shifted from parental and community responsibility to the various entertainment industries. Years ago, comic books were turning us into delinquents and anarchist. When D & D was popular it ushered in the new wave of Satanist Cults. We all remember how Rock and Roll caused an entire generation to become drug addicts, right? Sarcasm aside, violent games do not create violent children. Don’t believe me? Well, let’s take a look at some of the common arguments that violent games cause violent children and try to once and for all debunk this foolish way of thinking.
Argument #1: Violent games cause kids to get into more trouble.
It has been proven that those gamers attracted to violent games have shown a higher prevalence to violence while gamers who have no interest in conflict, simulated or real, don’t play violent games. This predisposition towards violence skews the juvenile criminal statistics the media trots out to show a correlation between violence and games. Quite frankly, with or without video games these children and young adults would likely get into trouble. It’s easy to look at the Columbine tragedy and say it was done due to the pair’s love of Doom, but it is also ridiculous. If they loved apples would we blame violence on apples? They liked leather jackets. Perhaps we should stop selling those? Doom didn’t make them commit a crime: a lack of parental supervision combined with the complete obliviousness to their repeated bullying by others led to it. If violent games were responsible for children turning violent, then juvenile detention centers would have quadrupled after the introduction of the modern first person shooter. However, it actually seems like the amount of juvenile crime has gone down, as those children who would be on the street causing trouble are now indoors playing Call of Duty.

Argument #2: Violent games cause kids to get involved in more serious trouble.
Some people will concede that the amount of crime caused by children has not increased, but the serious nature of those crimes being committed has escalated. With things like the Sandy Hook Tragedy and the Columbine shootings it is obvious that the serious nature of the crimes committed by children have escalated since the introduction of violent video games. In fact, the school shootings in Franklin County, Plain Dealing, Austin, and Chicago would lend credence to this argument if not for the fact that these school shootings all occurred before the introduction of video games. As long as guns have existed, someone somewhere has used one to commit a crime. Another thing one has to consider is the rise of video games has happened almost simultaneously as the rise of drugs leading to a number of gangs to recruit young children to do their dirty work and in no way those serious crimes were caused by video games. This won't stop the anti-video game advocates from lumping those serious crimes into their data to show how video games cause children to commit serious crimes.

Argument #3: Violent games train kids how to kill.
Holding a controller or using a keyboard is nothing like holding a real gun. Anyone who would tell you that a Nintendo Zapper is the equivalent to a pistol is just plain crazy and most likely has never held a real gun. Claiming games like Duke Nukem train kids to kill makes about as much sense as saying Madden ’16 teaches me how to play football at a professional level. The idea that playing Football Manager could make me a world class soccer player is ridiculousness, yet FPS games turning kids into trained assassins somehow seems plausible to these anti-violent game nuts? The fact is games do not train people to do anything but play the game. If games did train children to become killers I am sure the various criminal empires around the world would be recruiting at the local FPS tournaments, but since we have never heard of that then I can assume this is a completely made up and ridiculous argument.
Argument #4: Violent games teach children murder is super awesome.
Never have I played an ESRB rated game that said murder is super awesome or even morally acceptable. Murder is treated in games just as it is in real life: murder is a crime. In the few games that actually feature murder, not a single one presents it as a thing that is normal or acceptable to do. In GTA games you kill a lot of people, but you play a criminal who is a bad person. The police go after you if you commit murder because it is wrong in the game just like in real life. Games like Hitman, which has it's central game mechanic as murder, penalize the player for killing innocent NPCs. Other games like Splinter Cell go out of their way to make the game severely harder if they choose to murder or outright fail the player and make them restart the level. Games never teach children that murder is good despite what Jack Thompson would tell you.
Argument #5: Violent games are too realistic, making kids forget they are no longer in the game.
Where do I begin with this one? Children who can’t separate fantasy from reality have deeper problems than I can even comprehend. Normal children, however, never mistake a game for real life. Kids don’t run around jumping their fist into bricks because they play too much Super Mario Bros. Teens don’t go to therapy because they believe a higher power is controlling them via a hovering green diamond after a long session of playing The Sims. Kids don't break into people's homes, smashing pots in hopes of finding money because Link does it in Zelda games. Not a single child has broke their fist trying to punch a tree into a cube of wood.. Yet there are media figures who would have you believe FPS players can’t stop shooting people after playing Call of Duty or the new Doom game. This is just another ridiculous statement that falls completely apart when anyone with common sense actually looks closely at it.
Argument #6: Violent games are nothing more than murder simulators.
I guess this is true, if you remove the story and context of the games. In truth, violent games teach children many skills despite their reputation. Games like Team Fortress 2 teaches teamwork and communication skills. Playing Assassins’ Creed or Star Craft 2 teaches children problem solving. War games often have historical context and teaches bits of history, enticing kids to learn more on their own. Aside from these less obvious things, violent games teach hand eye coordination, improves reflexes, offers opportunities for strategic planning with teammates, and teaches children the consequences of violence. Another thing violent games does is open up an opportunity for children and parents to discuss various topics, including murder, war, crime, and general socially acceptable behavior.. The problem is parents don’t take these opportunities. Instead, they think video games and TV are appropriate baby sitters and child rearing machines, alleviating them of any responsibility.

In conclusion, violent games may in fact be violent, but they provide many social skills children need to survive in today’s world. Playing Manhunt won’t make your child a killer just like playing MLB The Show won’t make them the next Babe Ruth. Parents are ultimately responsible for their child's moral education and parking them in front of the TV with a controller won’t relieve you of that obligation. Games may be entertainment, but they are also a tool to foster communication between parents and kids. Talk to them, hug them, tell them you love them, and stop tea bagging them when you beat them at COD.As always. feel free to comment, like, share, tweet, or whatever other thing you kids do on your social media these days.

*All images are owned by their respective copyright holders and are used under fair use guidelines

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Who Will The Defenders Face In Their Netflix Debut? The Top 5 Candidates!

With Jessica Jones, a second season of Daredevil, and Luke Cage already finished and Iron Fist getting a series of his own, the stage is almost set for the big Defenders team-up movie. However, the one thing we don't have a clue about is who will the Defenders face in their big team-up? In Daredevil we got The Kingpin, The Punisher, The Hand, various crime lords, and Elektra. Jessica Jones was all about The Purple Man, Zebidiah Killgrave. Luke Cage is going to have Cottonmouth and Diamondback show up, while we have no idea who will appear in Iron Fist. So, what does that mean for the Defenders? Well, I am here to tell you that by giving you the top 5 candidates to face the Defenders in their made for Netflix movie. Just to keep things semi-interesting I will reveal them from least interesting to most.

#5: The Kingpin
After Daredevil season 2 Wilson Fisk is still trying to scratch and claw his way back to the top of New York's criminal underworld and the only people that seem to be in his way are costumed heroes. In the comics this would lead Fisk to hire a bunch of costumed villains of his own and have the heroes hunted down, which is what could happen on the Defenders. While this could lead to some interesting fights with new to the MCU villains such as Typhoid Mary and Bullseye it would be quite a disappointment to have four heroes team up to take on one former crime boss trying to make his way back to the top. As good as Vincent D'Onofrio is in the role of Wilson Fisk, they have not made him into a big enough threat to need four heroes to stop him..although by the time The Defenders 2 rolls around he just might be a true threat.

#4: The Hand and Elektra
Already set up as a threat to all of Hell's Kitchen and the greater New York area, The Hand ninjas, under the orders of a newly resurrected and evil Elektra, could descend upon the city in full force causing the four heroes to team up to take them down once and for all. While The Hand and Elektra would make great villains for Iron Fist to kung-fu up against it would not be that great to see them face off against the Defenders in my opinion. Sure, the story of The Beast is a lot more interesting than seeing The Kingpin move up the criminal ladder, it still doesn't feel epic enough for a Defenders movie.

#3: Mister Negative
Mister Negative is a a Spider-Man villain, but with Spider-Man recently joining the MCU it is quite plausible that he could show up on Netflix. A villain that has to sides, one a honest man trying to help his community and the other a villain trying to become the next Kingpin would bring a bit of complexity to the Netflix show that so far is pretty lacking. In addition to the interesting dynamic of Mister Negative himself, his superhuman strength and karate abilities would allow him to go toe to toe with each of the Defenders in fights leading to some great action scenes. His other power, tapping into a person's dark side and unleashing it would give us the team-up cliche of heroes fighting one another before teaming up, but with a plausible excuse.

#2: Zodiac's Gang
Not to be confused by the Zodiac Cartel, the Zodiac Gang is a group of low level anarchist brought together by a mysterious psycho named Zodiac. The Zodiac Gang would present a truly evil force of nature that isn't interested in money, fame, or power just death and destruction. Much like The Joker of The Dark Knight, Zodiac and his gang of miscreants go around killing people without super powers or special abilities. They would represent an evil that The Defenders couldn't just punch away or predict, leading to an interesting moral dilemma for The Defenders. To me this would be one of the most interesting, but least likely choices as they would be pretty much unknown to anyone outside of the die hard Marvel comics fans.

#1: The Black Tarantula

The Black Tarantula is another Spider-Man villain, but unlike Mister Negative he has had run ins with Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist. In addition to sharing a comic book history with three of The Defenders, he would represent a missing faction in the New York underworld, the Mexican/South American cartels. In addition to bringing in another gang vying for control of the New York underworld, you would solidify the connection between Spider-Man and the Defenders since both operate in New York. Also, the Black Tarantula has enough strength to tackle both Luke Cage and Jessica Jones at the same time, while like Mister Negative he has advanced martial arts skills that would allow him to face off with Daredevil and Iron Fist. The story of The Black Tarantula, an immortal powerhouse that has lived through the centuries ruling the underworld in South America is very interesting to me and the reveal that he is actually a series of men inheriting the title of The Black Tarantula would lead to a great second act shock for our heroes and leave us wondering if the current Black Tarantula's son will continue the legacy of his father. As always. feel free to comment, like, share, tweet, or whatever other thing you kids do on your social media these days.

*All images are owned by their respective copyright holders and are used under fair use guidelines

Friday, March 3, 2017

Ara Fell: The Lost 16-Bit Era Classic from 2016

 Ara Fell is a 16 Bit style JRPG made by Stegosoft Games with the RPG Maker 2003 engine. Originally conceived over ten years ago, Ara Fell has gone through several iterations and a few RPG Maker engines to become what it is today. Now, for those familiar with RPG Maker 2003 and games made from it will quickly recognize a lot of the graphics, sound effects, and music used in Ara Fell. However, do not let the familiar wrapping keep you from enjoying the wonderful gift inside the box. And what a wonderful gift Ara Fell is.

Let's start with the first thing you experience when you start up Ara Fell, the music. When the opening music begins to play you can already tell what sort of personal experience you are in for. The music is quiet, yet uplifting with plenty of ambient animal and wind sounds. Just listening to the music and you can almost imagine the world of Ara Fell even if you know nothing about it. From then on out the music does what all good music does, sets the mood for each scene or area of Ara Fell while never becoming obnoxious or intrusive. The music hits all the right notes, pun definitely intended, and unlike the music in games from some bigger publishers, I never once wanted to mute my PC.

The next thing that hits you is the old school 16 bit graphical style. As I mentioned before, anyone familiar with RPG Maker 2003 games will notice the REFMAP made graphics as well as the stock RPG Maker 2003 ones, however unlike some other games made with these same assets Ara Fell uses them to great effect. Nothing seems out of place or used just for the sake to use it. I will say that the graphics while charming, are not very impressive compared to newer games using the same 16 Bit style. Had this game come out 20 years ago then this would fit in with just about any SNES game, but being released today, it seems less like a retro inspired choice and more of a limitation of RPG Maker 2003.

Now that we discussed the appetizers, let's get to the meat of Ara Fell, the story. Like any good RPG Ara Fell does not skimp on the history of its universe. A history that you can learn by reading books scattered about shelves in houses and such. Now, unlike some modern RPGs, you do not need to know any of the history of Ara Fell to understand exactly what is going on in the main story. Speaking of the main story, it is nothing special, yet somehow very compelling. A young woman who doesn't agree with how her parents and society feel she should act teams up with an adventurer from a poor background to stumble upon a plot that involves saving the world. It goes without saying the story is filled with cliches, tropes, and fantasy staples but Ara Fell uses them to great effect like it does with the stock graphics. Unlike other female protagonists that are rebelling against society and their parents expectations, Lita seems like a real person torn between being what is expected and being true to herself. It is Lita that drives the story forward and with her as the player character things that would seem cliche become engaging. It is a testament to the writer of Ara Fell that they what would drag lesser games down actually help Ara Fell rise above those lesser games.

With the music, graphics, and story out of the way let's talk about the part of Ara Fell that really shines, the game play which is broken down into to main parts, battle and exploration. The world of Ara Fell is filled with gaps that need to be jumped, water that needs to be swum in, tunnels that you need to crawl into, and walls that you need to break apart among other things. All of these mechanics are introduced to you in quick succession and like all good RPGs they become essential to finding the best loot. In the first village of Aloria several secrets are hidden until you use these abilities to weasel them out. This makes every inch of Ara Fell worth searching, making exploration almost a side quest in itself.

Now, the battle mechanics are where Ara Fell really shine. Things start off simple enough with a turn based side view battle not unlike FFVI, but quickly things begin to come alive with boss fights that utilize tricks and gimmicks that make things challenging for RPG rookies and veterans alike. I really enjoyed the battles in Ara Fell, but if turn based battles are not your thing you can still enjoy Ara Fell with the Story Mode that adds a instant kill ability to your skill set allowing you to essentially skip all the battles and focus on the exploration and story. I urge anyone who would use Story Mode to at least try the battles first, and save the Story Mode ability only for fights you can't seem to beat.

My final thoughts on Ara Fell are this, it is a great game that uses the RPG Maker 2003 engine and stock parts to craft a game that feels like a lost 16-Bit era classic. The music makes the world come alive and sets the tone so well you almost forget it is in the game and not in your actual life. The graphics are charming and the story, while trope heavy is done so well that you look past this fact and quickly become engaged. Fans of RPGs and story driven games should look past the old school aesthetic and give Ara Fell a chance, they won't be disappointed. A solid 8/10! As always. feel free to comment, like, share, tweet, or whatever other thing you kids do on your social media these days.

*All images are owned by their respective copyright holders and are used under fair use guidelines

Thursday, March 2, 2017

PC or Console: Which is better...the truth may surprise you!

Not too long OPNoobs writer Mehmed Tiro wrote an article detailing why he felt PCs were better for gaming over consoles, an opinion I just can't agree with or, at the very least, his reasoning. You see, I have been a console gamer since the Colecovision. Now, before the PC Master Race light their torches, sharpen their pitchforks, and storm OPNoobs allow me to explain my stance. Also, let me say that I do game on my PC, just not as much as I do on my PS4.

First off, let me just say that most of what Mehmed wrote had very little to do with gaming. The amount of storage space, susceptibility to viruses, multitasking opportunities, as well as price and the upgradeable nature of PCs are all great things to discuss but they have little to no bearing on actual gaming. Games are not better or worse by the graphics quality or the fact that you have tons of extra storage space on your machine. While playing FPS games I don't feel a need to surf the web. As I said, all these things are nice but none of them should have any bearing on your gaming enjoyment. So, if these things don't matter in the great PC vs Console debate, what does?

The first thing we should discuss is controls and controllers. Mehmed talked about a PC's ability to change the button configuration for a game as if it was something exclusive to a PC, but that has not been the case since about the 16 Bit console era. You see, most games allow you to change the button configuration and those that don't are not doing so because they are on consoles, but because the developer chose it that way. Now, depending on what type of game you are playing a keyboard or a controller could hold an advantage, but PCs and most game consoles allow you to use either one now a days. Rumble and other types of feedback that were once console exclusive are now being offered on PC which means neither one holds an advantage over the other in this area of gaming.

The second thing we should talk about is game modification, or modding as it is more commonly known. Gaming on PC is known for the huge amount of mods that come out almost daily. Feel like fighting dragons that look and sound like Macho Man in Skyrim, they got a mod. Want to add a few superheroes to Fallout 4, several mods for that. Almost anything you want to do on a game can be modded into it, which makes gaming on PC a glorious thing indeed. Now, while you can't really mod games on consoles and there are some unplayable games made playable by modding there is no need to mod a game to enjoy it. So, while modding is a great perk it does not make PC gaming better in general as not everybody uses mods nor does every single game allow them. As I said it is a perk, but not a necessary one.

The last and most important thing we need to talk about are the actual games. Both PC and consoles have exclusive games to their systems, but whether that means anything to you depends on what type of gamer you are. Are you a MMORPG fan? Then it's PC gaming all the way. Love Halo? Then no doubt you want to buy a Xbox One. Love Super Mario Bros.? Nintendo Wii U is going to be your system of choice. I myself love traditional turn based RPGs, which were something that consoles had a market on until console game developers decided that we gamers didn't want them any more. So, now I get my RPG fix on PC thanks to all the great RPG Maker games available. Also to consider is the mobile game market, which has little presence on consoles but often have the same games on PC. Now, while I am not partial to Candy Crush or the many match 3 games out there, I am aware they can be found on PCs in droves and rarely on consoles.

You see, the answer to the question of whether consoles or PCs are better for gaming is really all about personal preference and choice. Depending on your personal gaming preference YOU and you alone determine what is the better gaming system. Yeah, neither me nor Mehmed can answer the question for you. You and you alone decide what the best system is for you and everyone else will do the same for themselves. Just remember, whether you pick PC or console, don't try to force your opinions on others. Live and let game, and try not to be too much of a noob. As always. feel free to comment, like, share, tweet, or whatever other thing you kids do on your social media these days.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Mugen Souls Z: Still looking pretty after 4 years

Mugen Souls Z is the 2013 sequel to 2012's Mugen Souls and just like the original, Mugen Souls Z was mired in controversy upon it's release. You see, both Mugen Souls and Mugen Souls Z feature very young looking, very sexualized, female characters that can be put in revealing outfits and in the original Japanese release be rubbed during a mini-game. Now. I believe in context being the key to deciding whether or not something is inappropriate or not, but anyone who thinks that rubbing very young looking women with bananas as they take a bath would be something allowed in the US is kidding themselves. The fact that more content was not altered of flat out removed is amazing and I believe the people who are complaining about the removed content are too young to find their kicks elsewhere, because that would be the only reason to complain about its removal in my opinion.

Controversy aside, Mugen Souls Z is a deep tactical RPG with a colorful anime art style that still holds up after 3 years. It's beautiful graphics draw you in almost immediately and if you were unaware of the controversy surrounding it's original release you would never imagine their would be much to complain about. I will say that the anime style is not for everyone, but fans of the Disgaea series will feel like they are playing some sort of spin off.

In fact, the storyline of Mugen Souls Z, a Goddess who rules an entire universe and tries to conquer a neighboring universe, feels like it could be a Disgaea game. However, there is a huge wrench thrown into the plans of the Goddess Chou-Chou within the worst few minutes of the game which changes the plans of Chou-Chou and company and sets the game off and running. Seeing how good the story is, I won't spoil any of it here, but just know that you will be watching the game as much as playing it for the first few hours although it mercifully allows you to skip cut scenes if you just want to get to the action.

The controls for Mugen Souls Z work perfectly with a control pad seeing how it was designed for the PS3, however it might take a few minutes of layout configuration before things feel just right if you're using a mouse and keyboard. Once you get things set up to your liking you will be zipping around the map and letting loose skills left and right. Speaking of skills, the skills in Mugen Souls Z are plentiful and very impressive but like the ones in Disgaea once you seen them once you really have no need to see them every battle. Thankfully you can turn the battle animations off which speeds up the battles to the point that you will be zipping through them.

Mugen Souls Z is the kind of game fans of the Disgaea series or anime in general will love and be left wanting more of, however those who do not care for tactical rpgs, anime art style, or playing dress up with cute anime women should pass this one by. I myself will be playing this for months and only hope I can drag myself away to play something else and knock out a review of it. As always. feel free to comment, like, share, tweet, or whatever other thing you kids do on your social media these days.

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