Year: 2020

Evolution and Empathy – Fall Anime 2020 (Week Thirteen) – Season’s Writings

-Kane- The Devil’s Plaything – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Thirteen) As far as body-horror beatdowns go, this is definitely one of them. I don’t mean that in a bad way, it’s just that, after writing that first sentence, I realised that I have not seen enough body-horror beatdowns to codify them. So yeah, Mahito is one messed up curse, and he goes bunches of bananas on our two sorcerers. Dude’s got blade arms, urchin body, eye hands, and even a child form. It’s all pretty disturbing. The continued glee on Mahito’s face is also less-than-pleasing, showing that even in life-or-death situations he has no real concern or compassion for anything but himself: he is, by all accounts, a sociopath. Worse still, he has yet to reach his full potential, as being pushed to the edge by a brilliant onslaught from Itadori and Nanami allowed him to develop and employ Domain Expansion. Creepy hand motif aside, Mahito’s Domain means that his Idle Transfiguration is a guaranteed hit: guy can just straight up alter anybody’s soul against their …

Fury and Fulmination – Fall Anime 2020 (Week Twelve) – Season’s Writings

-Kane- The Anger of a Gentle Man – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Twelve) That Mahito’s a real jerk, isn’t he? Like, the kind of jerk you want to punch so hard in the face that his nose becomes an innie. Well, good news: Itadori hits him a lot. Like, a lot. Dude is pissed. Rightfully so, might I add, because Mahito up and idly transfigured Yoshino into a grotesquery, forcing him to fight Itadori. Oh, also Yoshino dies: not because of Itadori, but because Mahito was “a little rough” when forcibly altering the shape of the poor kid’s soul. So yeah, Itadori hits Mahito. And kicks Mahito. And headbutts Mahito. And throws him. And vows to kill him…which is a pretty big deal. Itadori’s own narration of the moment he snaps notes how his rage is so powerful, so primal that it makes his entire being up until that point feel like a lie: that’s some serious fury. I know we’re meant to understand that Itadori is in a rather dark place at the moment, but I’ll be …

Living the Electric Dream – Cyberpunk 2077 – Humble Opinions

Okay, first things first: I don’t give a flip about the graphical glitches that have been the topic of conversation wherever this game is concerned. The models take a hot second to load sometimes: big whoop. I know that might not be the most professional-sounding opinion, but whatever. I feel like talking about Cyberpunk; let the rest of the internet worry about optimisation. Like, did you know that you can wield a katana? Well you can, and that’s the sort of stuff I plan on talking about (technically “writing” about, but you know what I mean). Anywho, let’s dive into Night City, shall we? So…Night City is a little bit the worst. As a technological/societal beacon of a dystopian-like, futuristic hellscape, ol’ Night City is a melting pot of chaos, carnage, and crappy people. The game literally begins with you being blackmailed, betrayed, and almost killed—at least if you’re a Corpo. Oh, Corpo is one of the backgrounds you can pick for your version of V (the protagonist). The other two options are Street Kid and …

Vitriol and Vengeance – Fall Anime 2020 (Week Eleven) – Season’s Writings

-Kane- Skin Game – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Eleven) You know what type of villain is scary? A child. Seriously scary stuff. You know what’s even worse than that? An eminently powerful being with the mentality of a child. Some villains bluster about what led them down the path of evil, what event twisted their psyche until it snapped. But those with an eerie innocence? They just don’t know the difference between sanity and chaos. Whatever shiny idea floats through their mind: they latch onto it. What would happen if I ate this chocolate? Why do people like this movie so much? How far can I push a person before they do something crazy? It’s all valid; it’s all a game. Somebody standing in the way of your fun? Push them down. They get back up? Make them stay down. It’s all very frightening; it’s all very much Mahito (the villain in question, and the guy I usually refer to as Stitches…because of his stitches). See, Nanami (previously referred to, by me, as Salaryman) deduces that …

Live, Die, Repeat – Palm Springs – Humble Opinions

After several months of anticipation, Palm Springs, the latest Andy Samberg vehicle from Hulu, made it’s way to the Prime Video streaming platform in Australia—meaning I was able to finally watch the darn thing after watching the trailer ad nauseum. As someone who loves the film Groundhog Day, I was naturally drawn to what looked to be a modern take on the infinite time-loop scenario. So was Palm Springs worth the wait? Yes, very much yes it was. Starring Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti, Palm Springs takes the infinite time-loop concept of Groundhog Day and flips it on its head. Unlike Groundhog Day which sees Bill Murray repeat the titular day over and over, Palm Springs explores what it would be like to share that experience with someone else. Set at a wedding in Palm Springs, we learn that Samberg’s character, Niles, has been stuck in the loop for an immeasurable amount of time and has completely given up on trying to escape the loop—just embracing the fact that he is in this situation nothing really …

Torment and Treachery – Fall Anime 2020 (Week Ten) – Season’s Writings

-Kane- Working the Soul Case – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Ten) If there’s one thing villains love, besides evil, it’s philosophising and touting the inherent truth of their personal ideals. That being said, such conversations usually don’t occur so early into meeting a villain; so, seeing the embodiment of humanity’s fear of humans having a relaxing chat with a student is interesting, to say the least. Naturally, a being whose entire existence is owed to fear and hatred has a less-than-positive opinion on humans. The clinical manner in which this being discusses distorting people’s bodies is unnerving, as is the overall jovial tone of its voice. Salaryman (whose name I still don’t remember) even compares the curse with Gojo, noting their childlike simplicity and the tremendous power said personality conceals. Also, the state of the humans this being (who I’ll call Stitches from now on) contorts continues to horrify: not content with the ability to twist and stretch, Stitches has taken it upon themselves to test the limits of their power. You know, seeing how big …

Marbles With Attitude – Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia – Humble Opinions

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from Bakugan, it’s the intro to the anime series…and that’s about it. Oh, I also know that the Bakugan are spheres that open up into little monster figures. I know that isn’t a tremendous knowledge base to start from, but we’re all here to learn. So, with that in mind, let’s see what Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia has to teach us. Lesson one: Bakugan are from Vestroia. See, what a great start we’re off to. More game specifically, Bakugan are capable of crashing to Earth in a meteor-like form—a method through which our protagonist finds their very first Bakugan. Now, I’m not sure if every child in the game’s universe stumbled upon a glowing crater containing a Bakugan, but our protagonist did; so…yeah. I’m also being rather vague about our protagonist, as this is one of those affairs where you, the player, design them. Though a fun gimmick—as character creation always is—the same assets are also used to build most other NPCs, leading to a world where slight variations on a …

Bane and Bravery – Fall Anime 2020 (Week Nine) – Season’s Writings

-Kane- All Work and No Play – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Nine) And so Jujutsu Kaisen finally deals with one of the most horrific subjects: going to the movies (*lightning crash sound effect*). Okay, so it maybe isn’t for the same reasons that people are avoiding the movies (an other public gatherings) in the year 2020, but my point stands. Although, global situations would be on the back of anybody’s mind if they saw three high school students who had their heads contorted much in the same way a three-year-old child plays with Play-Doh. It’s…not a pretty sight. I mean, the students in question were jerks who beat up a kid and made him eat a cigarette butt—in the hopes of letting them “bang” an equally cruel classmate of theirs—but they still probably didn’t deserve to have their skulls crushed like an empty can. The fact that we know anything about these jerks is due to our insight into Fringe (that isn’t his name, I just haven’t remembered it yet…and he has a fringe). As the one …

Driving Dirty – Dirt 5 – Humble Opinions

It has been thirteen years since the first instalment in the Dirt franchise and, over the course of that period of time, Codemasters have refined and polished the series into what has become one of the most enjoyable racing properties on the market. Dirt 5 continues that trend, providing what may very well be the most complete off-road rally-racing video game experience to date. Upon loading up Dirt 5 for the first time, I was immediately blown away by the plethora of gameplay options available to me; the deep customisation options only add to that. There are countless gameplay modes and a rather incredible career mode with its own narrative—that features the voice work of iconic voice actors Nolan North and Troy Baker. The career mode will have you running the gauntlet in a variety of different styles of racing, be it rally, stadium super trucks, and even ice-road racing. You never get a chance to get bored, as the game switches things up frequently enough that you are always taking on new challenges and …

Desire and Dishonour – Fall Anime 2020 (Week Eight) – Season’s Writings

-Kane- Beat and Greet – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Eight) Pop quiz, hotshot: what’s the best way to show that a new character is powerful? Have them beat up a character who is already established as powerful. What’s the best way to establish that a new character isn’t the friendliest tool in the crayon box? Have them beat up a character who is already established as (mostly) likeable. Enter Toudou: a big, buff badass from the only other jujutsu school in Japan, and the kind of person who pummels somebody half to death because he disagrees in their preferences in women. So…a strange guy. Also, what is it with Jujutsu Kaisen and characters proclaiming their type of woman? I know it’s only happened twice, but it happened very aggressively both times. S’weird. Regardless, Toudou’s absolute walloping of Fushiguro clearly shows that he is one tough customer—some added exposition explaining that he is already capable of taking down a special-grade. Moreover, it is only when versing a special-grade that Toudou even bothers to use cursed techniques, seemingly relying …

The Not-Too-Distant Future – Cyberpunk 2077 – Coming Attractions

Light up Night City. The future is…soon. I mean, that’s pretty obvious; but, the more specific future of 2077 is set to roll around slightly before the calendar indicates. So, what the heck am I talking about? Why, Cyberpunk 2077, of course. You know, that game that’s been driving people into a tizzy since 2012. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then have I got some news and/or trailers for you; also, what is the address of the rock you’ve been living under for the past eight years? So I know where to send the information. To cut a long story short, Cyberpunk 2077 is a game set in one of those dystopian futures that humans so often find themselves creating. Lawlessness reigns, and therein lies but one hope of a more glorious life: Night City. A megalopolis—fancy talk for “really big place with a freakin’ bunch of buildings”—Night City is overcrowded, technologically advanced, and home to every vice and sin you could imagine (plus a few you couldn’t). Think of it like reality …

Endlessness and Exclusion – Fall Anime 2020 (Week Seven) – Season’s Writings

-Kane- The Space Between – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Seven) Well, job done, we know what Gojo looks like under his blindfold: pretty. I’m not to proud to admit it, dude’s got eyes you can literally get lost in; he can make the world around you fade away. It sounds like a fan fiction; however, it’s actually terrifying. Apparently, Gojo can control the infinity that exists between objects—or something to that effect—making it so that attacks never actually make contact with him. Certainly a boon in battle, it also makes it so that Gojo can stand on water, block enemy blood from sullying his form (like a magic windshield), and possibly warp (though that may be a separate power). Oh, Gojo is also really tough, like, he no sells every attack that Volcano Head throws his way. Though we certainly knew that Gojo was tough, seeing him effortlessly combat an opponent we expected to be powerful is…awesome. It’s also more than a little cathartic, considering that Volcano Head is an arrogant jerk and also immolated an …

Conditions, Crocodiles, and Cats – Fall Anime 2020 (Week Six) – Season’s Writings

-Kane- The Bear Minimum – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Six) So, Itadori isn’t dead. Spoilers. Surprise. Fooled you. Well, maybe; chances are you thought he was coming back. Regardless, he’s alive and now secretly contracted to allow Sukuna one minute of freedom at the utterance of a specific word; however, Itadori has no memory of said deal—as per Sukuna’s additional condition. Still, as frightening as this sounds, Sukuna promised not to use his minute of freedom to harm or kill another being—the obvious lack of trust being mitigated by the apparent punishments that arise from breaking an agreed-upon pact. What a nice guy. Still, potentially dangerous or not, this development is largely pushed aside for Itadori’s real-world mission: learning how to used cursed energy. Though played mostly for goofs—and as an opportunity to throw in a few Shonen references—the intricacies of utilising cursed energy are actually pretty interesting. With cursed energy relying on negative emotions, jujutsu sorcerers must learn to utilise the faintest traces of these feelings to power their techniques, whilst also maintaining emotional stability …

Gloom, Guts, and Generosity – Fall Anime 2020 (Week Five) – Season’s Writings

-Kane- Heart Attack – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Five) Well, we were promised a death. Who would’ve thought it was (stop reading if you haven’t watched the episode yet) Itadori. Okay, there is a chance that he isn’t dead—a very large chance—but let’s just play this out like his death is permanent. And what a way to go it was: having your heart torn out of your chest. Yikes. You know, I’m starting to think Sukuna is a bad guy. Unfortunately, he is also clever. As heinous an act as it is, removing Itadori’s heart to prevent him regaining control of his body is genius. We know Itadori can freely subdue Sukuna’s control, so artificial boundaries needed to be established. Sukuna’s actions also showcase just how powerful his will to persist is. We don’t know why or how Sukuna was split apart and imprisoned, but I expect that is an experience he is not too keen to return to…which probably means he wasn’t happy when Itadori killed them both. Sure, Sukuna said he could revive using …

The Beast Offence – Zoids Wild: Blast Unleashed – Humble Opinions

Everybody likes robots: it’s just one of those inescapable facts. People also tend to be rather fond of animals. So, why not combine the two? Also, why not throw some combat into the mix? Also also, make it an anime. I know it may sound crazy, but this particular formula culminates in Zoids. I mean, you probably already knew that given the title of this collection of words, but it’s more dramatic to pretend otherwise. Regardless, let us delve into a new game from a franchise reinvented…because they stopped making series/games in the original style a while ago and mad me sad. Zoids Wild: Blast Unleashed is a fighting game based around, surprise surprise, Zoids Wild. Now, I myself am quite the fan of Zoids, but I will admit to knowing nothing of Wild. So, Blast Unleashed is my first foray into this new world…and it is wild. The first thing you’ll probably notice is just how “anime” the cast appears. I know, I know, “anime” is a wide-ranging medium, but you know what I mean. The main character has …

Terror, Trees, and Truth – Fall Anime 2020 (Week Four) – Season’s Writings

-Kane- A Face of Evil – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Four) Have you ever thought a situation was going to be bad, only to be proven wrong because everything was actually worse? That’s this episode in a nutshell. After being summoned to rescue five people unable to evacuate in time from something pleasantly known as a “curse womb”, our trio de protagonists find themselves way out of their depth. To be fair, such a scenario is fairly common in this world, apparently, and sorcerers are often forced to deal with curses far stronger than themselves. But hey, nobody said the logistics of fighting creatures beyond the ken of mortals would be easy…not that that reality is comforting in anyway. Still, pitting three first-year students against a special-grade curse is apparently an occurrence as rare as it is dangerous—and it is very dangerous. Yet, despite the intensity of the situation, this is a solid element of world building. Sure our leads can be thrown into terrifying situations, but knowing it is not an entirely unique scenario makes …

An Endless-Fates Escape – Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning – Humble Opinions

Back when the original Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning came out, I simply fell in love with the massive open world, the fluid hack and slash mechanics, well-thought-out story, fantastical lore, and decent crafting and looting system. It was a game that felt way ahead of its time and while I never actually finished the game—because I got lost in the seemingly endless side quests—I was truly excited to get back into the game on PC with the new remaster: Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning. Now, I want to get something out of the way, there are a vocal few disappointed by the remaster, as there wasn’t any tangible texture improvements, but to that I say: there really didn’t need to be. With the newly included super-sampling, the game’s textures look cleaner and crisper—while still maintaining the same art style and feel. Another addition are the camera features which allow for adjustments to camera height, field of view, and camera distance. This small change is a big quality-of-life addition, as in the original I found the game’s …

Burning Rubber – Ride 4 – Humble Opinions

Since the series’ inception back in 2015, the Ride series has proven with each instalment to be staking its claim as the best motorcycle racing game on the market. Now, with Ride 4, we get the most complete and polished iteration of developer Milestone S.r.l’s vision for the motorcycle racing video game genre. If Forza Motorsport was a revolutionary take on the motorsport gaming experience, Ride 4 is the same kind of revolution for motorcycle racers. It is, simply put, the game that motorcycle racing fans have been waiting for. Ride 4 builds upon the incredible game design of the previous Ride instalments, with a plethora of new features and modes that are sure to delight motorcycle enthusiasts and Ride fans alike. There are immersive, advanced customisation options new to Ride 4, as well as the very interesting new AI system developed by Milestone S.r.l—which will adapt to the way you play, changing as the game goes on. The new Career Mode will, however, likely be the bulk of the experience for those who want …

Salutations, Shame, and Subscribers – Fall Anime 2020 (Week Three) – Season’s Writings

-Kane- Meeting Is Such Bitter Joy – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Three) In this episode, our duo (trio if you count Blindfold) becomes a trio (quartet if you count Blindfold). Side note: I still don’t know Blindfold’s name off the top of my head. Regardless, our lead characters are joined by a girl from the countryside who just makes the most charming first impression. Side note: I am being very sarcastic. From the second she is introduced, Nobara (I looked up her name) makes all manner of assumptions based solely on how Yuji and Fushiguro introduce themselves. Though abrasive, people aren’t generally chummy with everybody they’ve met for all of ten seconds; so, realistically, it tracks. What confuses me, however, is the fact that Nobara’s entire backstory revolves around her hatred for the people of her hometown, whose judgemental nature drove her friend to move away. Again, human nature is fickle, but boy does it set up a contradictory meeting. Nobara does show moments of joviality, geeking out with Yuji about the highlights of the big …

FIFA for Anime Fans – Captain Tsubasa: Rise of Champions – Humble Opinions

Football video games are trotted out by the year with little more than a face lift. Yet football fanatics, loyal as they are, purchase the latest FIFA or PES game each year without fail—mostly because the franchises have earned the trust of the players. The games play very well and are simple yet complex, meaning they can be enjoyed by both casual and hardcore players alike; it is undoubted that these football video games are very fun. Enter Captain Tsubasa: Rise of Champions—an anime fan’s FIFA game. Whether you are in the know about the legendary Captain Tsubasa football anime series or not, there are all the hallmarks of both a great football game and a great anime game here. Not unlike Captain Tsubasa‘s modern equivalent Inazuma Eleven, the players in the game are able to use supernatural abilities to spice up the play with some wild and explosive shots and manoeuvres. Gameplay-wise, the core foundation of the game is in the football matches themselves. If you have ever played a FIFA game, the football …

Competition, Coups, and Chronology – Fall Anime 2020 (Week Two) – Season’s Writings

-Kane-  A Reason to Die – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Two) If there was one thing I would not expect to come after chowing down on a demonic finger, it would be seconds. Yep, it looks like Yuji’s decision to ingest Sukuna’s finger is set to take him on a demonically gourmet quest: to eat the other nineteen fingers. Oh, Sukuna had four arms, by the by, hence the twenty digits. Double oh, Yuji already ate a second one to prove his resolve—and his ability to actually serve as a vessel. Essentially, Blindfold convinced the Council of Scared Old-Fashioned Guys to hold off on executing Yuji until he has eaten all of Sukuna’s fingers, as killing a vessel kills the curse within them. It’s not the worst plan, and it’ll definitely make the series last longer than if they killed him right now. I’m certain we’ll eventually learn why Yuji is so special, and it’ll probably have to do with the parents that his grandfather kept attempting to discuss, but that’s a chat for a later …

Claire de Lune – Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition – Humble Opinions

After an eleven-year break, the spin-off series of the Final Fantasy franchise returns with the remastered edition of the game that started it all way back in 2003: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition. Given new life on the Switch, PS4, and mobile devices—with online cross play between the platforms—the remastered edition is an ambitious effort from Square Enix, to say the very least. Unfortunately, its own ambition may have ultimately proved to be its defining flaw. Generally speaking, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition plays relatively identically to the original GameCube title—more a dungeon-crawling action RPG than the typical Final Fantasy formula. The crux of the original game was its multiplayer mode, which was truly where the game shined. Rather disappointingly, the remastered edition launched with a plethora of issues that plagued the online multiplayer mode, making it impossible to play the multiplayer mode for the first several weeks after launch (a problem that plagued Oceania region more so than other regions). That said, after ultimately patching the issues and correcting things, the game …

Drums, Dragons, and Demons – Fall Anime 2020 (Week One) – Season’s Writings

-Kane- Finger Food – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode One) On the long list of things I would never do with the severed body part of an ancient being, eating it would be pretty dang high up there. Though I suppose that’s why I’m not the one imbued with the power of a curse powerful enough to be labelled a “special threat” even when correctly stored. So yes, much like Blue Dragon, Jujutsu Kaisen seems like it will follow the story of somebody who decided that consumption is nine-tenths the law of the jungle. Though definitely an unexpected turn in the grand scheme of things, the series sort of tipped its hand when Yuji asked why anything would try to eat a cursed object—in this case a severed finger—only to be told that doing so would grant the consumer tremendous power. Still, it was decidedly cool to see somebody oblivious of the potential dangers turn the opponents strategy against them—the “opponents” in this case being horrific abominations known as Curses. There is also certainly a greater reason for Yuji’s …

A Seriously Dated Disappointment – Serious Sam 4 – Humble Opinions

Serious Sam 4 was the first real iteration of its franchise that I played long enough to be worn out by—which took almost no time at all. It’s extremely hard to have something positive to say about this title, because it does nothing well and a lot of things poorly. Having previously tried Serious Sam 2 & 3, I expected a simplistic arena shooter. I don’t believe my expectations were super high—I didn’t expect anything particularly revolutionary and interesting—so I went in to the game only expecting a fun time at the very least. Instead, what we got in Serious Sam 4 was serious disappointment, requiring some serious questioning. Where do I begin? The enemies: seriously? The sophistication of the AI in this game is abysmal—it’s non-existent. You can cheese nearly every battle, and it is so easy to do. Countless times, enemies found themselves stuck on environmental objects, even without my intervention. They sit there, struggling to free themselves, while you unload clip after clip to take them down. Where is the fun in …

The Fight is Won – The God of High School (Episode Thirteen) – Season’s Writings

When a villain begins their diatribe against the very notion of existence, you know you’ve reached the final act. If, for some reason, said monologue does not convince you, the spontaneous arrival of a hero’s true power should assuage any doubts. Now, as to whether you actually care about any of these events…well, that depends on every moment prior; on how much you’ve come to care for each character through their adventures; on how much the world was built out around them. Without that care, well, even a spectacle can be boring. So…The God of High School didn’t make me care. Harsh, but, if anyone has been reading my ramblings, not unexpected. I’ll say it again: I don’t like dunking on a series, I really don’t. But man, I just never connected to this series on any decent level. Sure, the fights were cool, but I just didn’t care beyond the visuals. Take this episode for example—because that’s the one we’re talking about—it featured a transcended human fighting a physical god…and it meant nothing. It’s …

A New Legend Begins – Ary and the Secret of Seasons – Humble Opinions

There have been an incalculable number of games that have tried to emulate the magic of The Legend of Zelda games—very few have ever come close. Ary and the Secret of Seasons undoubtedly owes a lot to The Legend of Zelda as well; the more and more you play it, the more you come to find that Ary has undeniably and indisputably carved out her own legend. Ary and the Secret of Seasons is a vast game that just begs to be explored. The world of Valdi and its colourful cast of characters are bursting with life, in ways that games of the same genre often fail to accomplish. The expansive world is rich with detail and you will no doubt find yourself wanting to inspect every nook and cranny. The main hook of the game is Ary’s season-changing abilities, which adds an even deeper layer to the world—as each season can open different paths and place a different perspective on each location. Speaking of the season-altering abilities of our heroine, Ary, it hearkens back to …

The Devil, You Know? – The God of High School (Episode Twelve) – Season’s Writings

They say that all good things must come to an end. What they don’t say is how cataclysmic said end may be. Now, I’m all about reducing human experiences into easy-to-understand phrases, but maybe add an addendum or two: all good things must come to an end, but be sure to stand outside of the blast radius of the incoming ballistic missiles that are going to do the ending. Something like that. So, it would seem we have hit the endgame of this series. Well, the part just before the endgame, since I believe there is still one episode left. I kind of hope there’s one episode left. Not because I’m champing at the bit for more God of High School, but because this particular segment of story is woefully underdeveloped—even by this series’ standards. I feel like such a jerk for constantly railing on this series, but it encapsulates my thoughts after walking away from every episode. And since that has been my experience every episode, even the apocalyptic stakes of this latest fight mean …

La-La Island – Giraffe and Annika – Humble Opinions

Who doesn’t enjoy a little bit of fantasy every now and then? A chance to imagine a world that is free from the pesky shackles of reality; to ponder “What if?” and relish the nonsense that is born from it. As it turns out, children tend to lean further into imagination than those fuddy-duddy grown-ups; but, that doesn’t mean that adults can’t return to the world of fantasy every now and then. Giraffe and Annika is an odd duck. Though mostly a light RPG experience, each of the game’s five dungeons are capped of with a rhythm game: which is unexpected. And though not a bad idea per se, these segments are markedly separate from the other mechanics of the game. Still, I should probably explain the bulk of the game before I get to the events that end each dungeon. For the most part, Giraffe and Annika sees you—through the character of Annika—running around Spica Island. After a brief comic-panel introduction, Annika awakens with no memory and…you just go. Rather than any kind of tutorial, …

Not That Nirvana – Nirvanna The Band The Show (Season One) – Humble Opinions

Nirvanna the Band the Show is the most innovative and genre redefining comedy series in recent history, but you probably don’t know that; you probably wouldn’t have guessed it was even a comedy series. You probably don’t know that because it also has one of the worst titles for a comedy series ever, likely by design. The show, which is named after the titular Nirvanna the Band (which in turn is named after the band Nirvana), is an uproariously hilarious romp that feels unlike any other show on television. It follows life-long best friends Jay McCarroll and Matt Johnson as they concoct increasingly elaborate plans to get their band, Nirvanna the Band, booked at a bar restaurant in Toronto called The Rivoli. The show is filmed in mockumentary style; however, it blends that style together with candid footage and improv, featuring people unaware that the show is even filming. Ultimately, it comes off as a bizarre Canadian hybrid of The Office and Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat. The show frequently features references—and even straight up recreations—of …

The Once-Bitten – The God of High School (Episode Eleven) – Season’s Writings

They say that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Now, while that sounds really cool and poetic, it essentially boils down to this: people are big, dumb scaredy cats. People get stuff, want to keep stuff, and fight the possibility of losing their stuff. Unfortunately, this mentality apparently also extends to the universe’s boss, the head man, the top dog, the big cheese, the head honcho, number one: G-to-the-O-to-the-D. Sufficed to say, things get serious when that guy gets frightened…and then orders the death of his closest ally. So yeah, apparently The Key is the charyeok of a being so powerful that the actual God utilised it as a protector. Also, Why can’t we watch that story play out? I mean, in the span of a single cold open I feel I know more about the world eons ago than the one I’ve been watching for the past eleven episodes. Even so, the concept of a being who wants revenge on God lending their power to a human sounds awesome…so why has it taken …

Breath of the Forager – Windbound – Humble Opinions

It was only a matter of time before the clones showed up, but The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was undoubtedly a paradigm shift in open-world gaming; so it is only natural that other aspiring game developers and designers would feel inclined to emulate it. Windbound is perhaps the most obvious of these, but to call it a straight-up clone would be a little unfair. Sure, the tribal-infused, cel-shaded visuals are obviously inspired by Nintendo’s worldwide hit and the general feel of the adventure is similar—minus the epic set pieces of Hyrule or a demonic incarnation of Ganondorf—but Windbound takes a far more grounded approach, with the focus being on survival rather than discovery. Windbound starts off with a storm at sea, as our hero finds herself drowning into a watery abyss—before seemingly getting a second chance at life after passing through some sort of afterlife portal. Early on, it becomes clear that this island-survival game is a rogue-like adventure, which means there are multiple chances at this life for our resourceful, yet …

The Key to Success – The God of High School (Episode Ten) – Season’s Writings

The key to crafting an effective conflict—much like slaying a vampire—is stakes. For an audience to be emotionally invested, they must know what is on the line. If the heroes lose, the world ends—or something to that effect. It also helps if the audience knows both sides of a conflict. True, mystery can increase the threat of an opponent, but that still leaves one side that must be thoroughly explored. Without any of these factors, simply put, nobody cares. If there’s one thing The God of High School loves, it’s avoiding consequences. Throughout its entire run, every time a fight would have a solid impact on the story, it is side stepped. This week’s juke sees us learn of Ilpyo’s motivation for joining GOH. Long story short, Taek busted up the leg of one of Ilpyo’s friends—preventing her from ever fighting again. So, Ilpyo wants to win and wish her back to fighting form. Simple. Unfortunately, he is fighting Team Seoul (a.k.a. our protagonists). So, how do we root for our leads when their victory means …

You’ll Never Be The Same – ‘Flowers for Algernon’ by Daniel Keyes – Humble Opinions

It has been two months since I finished reading Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. Since then, I haven’t been able to pick up another book. Upon reading the final pages, teary eyed on the train home from a long day at work, I found myself emotionally devastated. I was deeply moved by this book, and it had a profound impact on me. I had planned on writing this humble opinion that very same night—in fact I created the draft post for it that night—but, no matter what I did, I couldn’t bring myself to put words to the devastation. This is not just any old book. Flowers for Algernon is quite simply one of the greatest works of literature in modern history. I thought a lot about what this article should look like or what I should write about: Should I analyse the plot of the book or break down its themes and why they resonated with me? Should I dive into the structure of the book and how it may be one of …

The Spirit of a Warrior – The God of High School (Episode Nine) – Season’s Writings

When arranging an all-styles-allowed fighting tournament, one must abide by certain rules; without them, chaos would reign. The key is focusing the near-mortal combat to a well-lit arena—one where the whole family can watch the violence. Without production value, a tournament becomes nothing more than brawl, and that doesn’t line anybody’s pockets—with money or wishes that are potentially from actual gods. The arena also probably has to meet certain building codes; wouldn’t want a fighter accidentally hurting themselves when suplexing an opponent, with the intent to render them unconscious or worse. No, the violence has to be intentional; otherwise, what’s the point? It’s a trap! That’s what that guy from Star Wars says, right? Well, nobody in The God of High School says that…like, ever. Most events that have surrounded our main cast have, indeed, been traps; you think someone would’ve caught on by now. Regardless, Mori rushes to save his grandfather—who has been captured by the evil church—and discovers that his grandfather was actually a bomb…and also not his grandfather. Luckily—for both Mori and the series—point-blank …

Trouble at the Tournament – Saint Seiya: Knights of the Zodiac (Galaxian Wars Arc) – Humble Opinions

For the first time ever, the complete original run of the Saint Seiya: Knights of the Zodiac anime series has been released in full English dub—thanks to Netflix. That’s right, all 114 original episodes—which aired from 1986 to 1989—are now available to English language audiences completely uncut and with restored visuals and audio. The series has previously seen release in heavily edited formats, such as the ADV Films dub which retitled the series as Knights of the Zodiac and commissioned punk band Bowling for Soup to cover A Flock of Seagull’s 80s hit “I Ran (So Far Away)” for the theme song. The dub was widely criticised for being almost unrecognisable from the original series—with its plentiful alterations and censorship. Having no legal manner in which to watch the series, many English speaking fans had to resort to fansubs; not anymore. As a long-time fan of the Saint Seiya series and franchise, I decided to give the Netflix dub a spin and found myself amazed at its production quality and incredible dubbing effort. As such, …

The Calm Before the Storm – The God of High School (Episode Eight) – Season’s Writings

Running is cool; it’s like walking, except you get places faster. Still, there is the little thing where you get tired way faster and you have to catch your breath—which is ironic considering that you were just running. Does that mean your breath runs faster than you? and if it does, then why do you have to slow down to catch it? That’s some backwards ass thinking if you ask me, but apparently it’s the way things work; so, whatever. In this vein, a series sometimes just needs a moment to chill, breathe easy, and calmly present the story it wishes to tell…then it can get back to throwing bodies into a meat grinder masquerading as a tournament. For what seems like the first time since The God of High School started, this episode eases up on the titular tournament—and is all the stronger for it. Without barrelling towards the next match, the story actually had a chance to unfurl. I imagine it as akin to having a balled up piece of paper thrown at …

Three’s a Company – Blightbound – Humble Opinions

-Sali- I always have an itch to scratch when it comes to ARPGs (and more recently rogue-likes, thanks to my love of Dead Cells). Luckily, Devolver Digital has provided us a taste of this genre with their recent early-access release Blightbound. I say “taste” as the game certainly satiates the desire to dungeon grind for progression but still has room to grow exponentially—as the developers are still actively working on, and adding to, the title. There is a lot of potential here. If you have the option, this is a game you are going to want to play with two other friends. That is how I experienced the majority of my time with the game, and I think it was all the more enjoyable for it. The game definitely relies on good communication, especially when choosing higher-difficulty dungeons. There is a need to often call out to the team for heals, to get them to group up, and to warn them of incoming attacks. I can’t count the amount of times my teammates assisted in …

The New Normal – The God of High School (Episode Seven) – Season’s Writings

Chekov’s gun states that if you show something within a story—a weapon/power/ability—it must be used within said story; to present it otherwise is pointless. The God of High School states that if you show something within a story—charyeok—you must use it at every given opportunity and just, you know, go nuts with it. In fact, you don’t even need to show it earlier in the story: just chuck it in and wreck shop. This approach is also aided by not really establishing what the rules of the story are; who needs ’em, anyway? Speaking of rules, the God of High School remains true to its titular foundation: fighters must be high schoolers. However, the rules apparently do not limit said participants to those on their first run through high school. This technicality allows us to meet Jin Pum Kwang, a thirty-eight-year-old worker who has taken it upon himself to see through the education he once bailed on. On its own, this is a pretty admirable endeavour, and his wish upon winning GOH is to help …

Ground Control to Magnetic Moon Base – Relicta – Humble Opinions

Relicta is a first-person physics-based puzzle game very similar to games like Portal, Q.U.B.E., or Quantum Conundrum. The game has a lot great content…albeit with a glaring few caveats. You start as a female scientist, combining magnetism and gravity to unravel the secrets of Chandra Base—a collection of bio-domes on the moon used as a facility to test out the capability of the game-mechanic gloves, cubes, gravity, and magnetism. Throughout the game, you spend your time talking with different characters and working to solve different issues on the moon base—while having personal banter. I’d like to first point out that it’s refreshing to see a game including an Indian protagonist—a nationality not explored often enough within games. The cast’s voice acting is top notch, but with the unfortunate failings of the dialogue it doesn’t feel natural. An example of this is discussions with Alani seeming very schizophrenic. One second she will come off as rude, angry at your actions and overall acting hostile, then will enjoy some teasing banter—with you calling her “bae” in response. …

Newtype Wonderland – Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme Vs. Maxi Boost On – Humble Opinions

From the arcades of Tokyo to PlayStation 4’s across the globe, Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme Vs. Maxi Boost On gives console gamers the addictive arcade experience—from the comfort of their own home. Maxi Boost On is an upgraded port of the wildly popular arcade cabinet game Mobile Suit Gundam: Extreme Vs. and he action and intensity of the Mobile Suit Gundam series is on show here in what may very well be the best entry into the series’ long line of video games to date; its addictive arcade-style nature makes this a game that is hard to put down. Maxi Boost On plays exactly like its arcade counterpart: placing you in an expansive map and charging you with combating enemy Mobile Suits in fast-paced and often times overwhelming action. There is a massive list of Mobile Suits available, spanning just about every iteration of the Gundam franchise. If there is a particular Mobile Suit you have in mind, it is most likely available to play in—and likely upon launching the game as well. I was truly impressed by …

Kickflip My Heart – Skater XL – Humble Opinions

It has been a very long time since someone has done something to reinvent the wheel with the skateboarding video-game genre. The genre has always been fun to dive into and just enjoy skating, but games like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and the Skate series always had a more arcade style to them—never truly feeling like real skateboarding. Enter Skater XL: an innovative new entry into the hallowed halls of skateboarding video games, which comes about as close to skateboarding simulation as can be. Part of what made the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series so addictive were its simple controls and how easy it was to pull of insane tricks. Skater XL takes the opposite approach: attempting to simulate skateboarding rather than simply have you tap a button to do a trick. Skater XL implements an innovative Independent Foot Control system which allows you to manipulate and control each foot of your skater with the analogue sticks. This admittedly comes with a steep learning curve at the start, but once you come to understand the …

The Conventional Wisdom – The God of High School (Episode Six) – Season’s Writings

They say that God moves in mysterious ways…what they neglected to mention is that there are a plethora of pantheons all bearing powers beyond mortal ken, some of whom really enjoy a good scrap. I mean, plenty of people enjoy watching a regulated fight for the purposes of entertainment; very few of them bestow otherworldly powers upon high schoolers for nebulous reasons. I mean, I imagine few of them could, but that’s besides the point. The point is…be responsible with your imbuing of forces humankind were not meant to wield? Yeah…that sounds good. We have confirmation, folks! An in-universe—partially off-screen—explanation regarding what the holy hell is going on. The long and short of it being: some people are able to tap into the realm of the gods and borrow power. Said fact is also the entire reason for the God of High School tournament, with Mujin seeking out others who can wield these godly abilities. I say “others” because, well, he obviously flattened that island in the first episode. I mean, we all knew it; …

The Secret is Out – Ary and the Secret of Seasons – Coming Attractions

Playing Ary and the Secret Of Seasons feels immediately familiar. Ary’s world of Valdi feels very Disney-esque and her ability to harness the power of the seasons will no doubt remind many of Frozen—though the story itself may have more in common with Mulan. However, in terms of gameplay, Ary and the Secret of Seasons clearly takes inspiration from The Legend of Zelda franchise and even plays like a fully 3D version of The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons—a Game Boy Color title which likewise allowed players to control the seasons to transform locations and solve puzzles. Although the game feels so very familiar, Ary and the Secret of Seasons pays homage to its inspirations while proving to stand on its own merit as well. We were able to try out a preview build of the game on PC thanks to our friends at Turn Left Distribution. The preview build gave us the ability to play the first section of the game, learning the basics of the game’s world and meeting its various colourful …

The Cult of the Machine – Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus – Humble Opinions

The Warhammer 40,000 franchise has arguably one of the most well-crafted lores in popular culture. It is complex and deep in all the right ways, which makes it ripe for exploration in a variety of different mediums—be it on the table top, in literature, or through video games. Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus may very well be one of the most interesting entries into the long-running multimedia franchise. Combining XCOM style strategy gameplay with the world and lore of Warhammer 40,000 proves to be a winning formula for Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus. Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus is now available on the Nintendo Switch and it actually finds itself perfectly at home on the console. The game plays like a faster paced XCOM-style strategy game and lends itself nicely to quicker gaming sessions—compared to other gaming entries in the Warhammer series which can be more time demanding. That said, it doesn’t mean that the game itself has been simplified or dumbed down; instead the Warhammer experience has been streamlined through a turn-based strategy game format—to superb results. For those uninitiated …

Malevolent-Minion-Slapping Fun – Dungeons 3 – Humble Opinions

I’m not usually fond of strategy games in general; but, as a child, I was given a dungeon-sim game and ended up spending a long time playing—and actually enjoying—it. It’s also been a while since I willingly dived into a strategy and resource management game, but I decided to have another dive into the genre with Dungeons 3. The hesitation struck me when I first opened the game: at the menu. I saw the option to start the campaign, which was tempting. I mean, who doesn’t want to skip the tutorials and just get right into things? But, I mustered up the will to navigate through the few tutorials that the game offered. And for once, I’m glad I did. The tutorials were necessary in my case. The game adds some new features that I hadn’t experienced in similar games in the past, and this is where I learnt of them. Luckily, the tutorials were quite quick to get through, and the blow of being tutorialised was lessened with the humour in the narration and …

Pineapple Express – SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated – Humble Opinions

Reading the title alone could dehydrate someone. There are a lot of SpongeBob video games—a lot. While the release cycle has slowed down to a halt, in the previous two decades there was no shortage of these damn things on any platform. Most of these games weren’t great, but among them was a decent 3D platformer called SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom released for sixth generation consoles way back in 2003. It was flawed for sure, but certainly a lot better than most other games bearing the barnacle IP namesake. Over a decade later, they decided it was worth revisiting the game and bolstering it up to reach its full potential; the end result is SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated. Where the 2003 original was a serviceable platformer at best, the 2020 rehydration effort pays off in Krabby Patties—as the game can now claim to be a legitimately good platformer. That’s even in the presence of modern classics like Yooka-Laylee, A Hat in Time, and Super Mario Odyssey. The most apparent …

The Moment of Truth – The God of High School (Episode Five) – Season’s Writings

In a competition: everybody wants to win. I mean, it wouldn’t really be a competition if people weren’t competing. Still, that doesn’t mean that everybody is competing for the same reason. Sure the prize may be a singular goal, but what it means to the contestants may differ; when these ideals clash, things can get messy. This is especially true when said competition involves knock-down, drag-out rumblin’. Okay…I’m not really sure where to start with this one. Though the drama of two friends clashing is always dramatic, it helps when said friends are…friends. Though it’s true that Daewi and Mori have been friendly with each other since they met, the two haven’t really spent that much time together—at least not that we’ve seen. They helped Mira find her sword and also helped Mira escape her ill-fated wedding…so, now that I think about it, their entire friendship has revolved around helping Mira. And in case that wasn’t clear, the memories that Daewi recalls about Mori and Mira—when told they’re friends—are those two moments…because they’re the only …

Trying to Log Out – Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris – Humble Opinions

Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris begins with series protagonist Kirito trying to log out of the virtual reality game he has found himself in. To his surprise, he is seemingly trapped in the game without the ability to log out. It is a moment that encapsulates the entire experience of Alicization Lycoris—you can’t help but want to log out and play something else. The Sword Art Online franchise is source material ripe for making a video game from; however, so many of the attempts to make a Sword Art Online game have failed to capitalise on the inherent excitement of the series’ concept. While some like Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet actually make an attempt at exploring the video game world in a compelling and engaging way—telling an original story and letting you craft your own player in the Sword Art Online world—Alicization Lycoris is too focused on being a direct adaptation of the anime series, rather than being a good game. Alicization Lycoris retells the story of the “Alicization Arc” of the series, following …

Objects in Mirror Are Deeper Than They Appear – F1 2020 – Humble Opinions

Despite my long-lasting love for a wide range of racing games, I have never played a F1 game; so, for the first time ever, I’ve taken a curious step into the wide world of Formula 1 racing with F1 2020. Throughout many hours of play, F1 2020 opened my eyes to how deep and complex the racing world can be: countless hours spent outside the track, testing, fine tuning, practising, managing, and even being interviewed so you maximise the potential on the track. A new career mode has been introduced, called My Team, where you are both the owner and driver of the 11th team on the grid; where you not only test your limits on the track but also manage all of the intricacies that come with owning a team. From the start, you manage all parts of the company: from picking the sponsor, power-unit supplier, and second driver; to pouring finances into your R&D teams—researching upgrades and scheduling team building activities in between Grand Prix Weekends. Whilst a tad limited, you can also …

Crystal Clear – Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition – Coming Attractions

It has been almost two decades since the Final Fantasy series saw the release of one of its most unique instalments: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles for the Nintendo GameCube. The game was revolutionary back in 2003 and redefined what a Final Fantasy game could really be. The original GameCube game proved to be so popular that it went on to spawn its own spin-off series under the Crystal Chronicles banner—with titles released on both the Nintendo DS and Wii. Differentiating themselves from the mainline Final Fantasy games, the Crystal Chronicles series were all set within the same world and followed characters and stories spanning two millennia. However, after the release of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers, the series has seemingly been sidelined or forgotten by Square Enix. Although, that is all about to change with the upcoming Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition for the Nintendo Switch. Thanks to Bandai Namco and Square Enix, we were able to get a look at this remastered edition of Crystal Chronicles; needless to say, from the …

Camaraderie Isn’t Dead – Fairy Tail – Humble Opinions

Friendship. If I’m being honest, that’s all you really need to know about Fairy Tail. It is a property built entirely upon the foundation of camaraderie, of finding strength in bonds with others, of helping people move through the pain of their past in order to strive for the future. It’s uplifting, a little cheesy, and full of action that really simplifies the concept of emotional conflict. I mean, punching a bad guy in the face is also more visually appealing than internalised monologue, but the analogy is still in there somewhere. Also, I lied: Fairy Tail can be really cheesy…like, dangerously so. But that’s sort of what makes it so charming. Who doesn’t want to see the power of friendship turn the tides of darkness? Villains, that’s who. So, if you just thought to yourself that you’d like to see friendship lose…then I’ve got some bad news for you. First things first: Fairy Tail is not a game for people who have never watched or read Fairy Tail. I know that might sound mean, but I’m saying it …

The Big Day – The God of High School (Episode Four) – Season’s Writings

Everybody dreams. Whether in the sense of an idea that you wish to see achieved or a series of abstract thoughts that coalesce in your sleep, everybody dreams. We will be discussing the the awake kind; in fact, we most often are when it comes to anime. “I want to be the best!” “I want to save the world!” Every protagonist worth their salt is striving towards something, otherwise it would make for a very short series. However, there are times when bull-headed stubbornness is not as noble a sentiment as oblivious protagonists make it seem. Damning the consequences to protect something you hold dear, for example, means nothing if you damn yourself in the process. Not to start this off on a downbeat, but I wish to lay clear my biggest gripe with this episode: it should not have been one episode. So much character development is crammed into such a short period of time; it just doesn’t carry the weight it should. Almost immediately we are confronted by a man skidding his car …

Academic Warfare – The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III – Humble Opinions

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel has been quite the tetralogy and an immensely ambitious one too. Imagine if Shin Megami Tensei: Persona had the rabbit-hole content density of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim; that’s basically what The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel achieves—and very successfully so on all accounts. The localisation journey of this series has been a long one, initially starting out on PlayStation platforms where it gave the late PlayStation Vita quite the RPG showcase, before completing the rest on Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4. For Japanese players the tetralogy is fully complete, with our side of the world getting both Trails of Cold Steel and Trails of Cold Steel II in 2016; now in 2020, we finally get III—with IV due for a localisation release sometime in 2021. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III takes place only a couple of years after the dramatic events of its predecessor. For consistency’s sake, you can get the previous entries remastered on PlayStation 4 along with this …

Revisiting an Old Friend – Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town – Humble Opinions

It’s been a long time since I played a Story of Seasons (a.k.a. Harvest Moon) game. Reminiscing, it was back on the Game Boy Advance (GBA) where I bought a copy of Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town to play. Funnily enough, Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is a remake of the GBA classic—and what a classic it was. Back on the GBA, it was the game that first captured my interest in farming/mining/romancing games—where the goal was slow progression…and to get rich eventually! And it’s safe to say that the remake has captured that same feeling of nostalgia. The game is a smooth and enjoyable experience on the Switch. This being said, for the first time ever, the game is available on the PC in glorious 4K—if that’s what you’re in to. In this day and age, it’s rare to experience a game where you aren’t bombarded with tutorials and complicated mechanics; I am happy to say that the experience here was desirable. The game doesn’t call for complicated, lengthy tutorials and …

Thy Flesh Consumed – Carrion – Humble Opinions

There are quite a few games out there where you are tasked to be the villain, but not many like Carrion—the reverse-horror game in which you assume the role of an amorphous creature made of flesh, blood, sharp teeth, and countless whipping tendrils with two goals: to go on a murderous rampage and kill/eat everything in sight, and to spread your biomass throughout the facility where you were held hostage in order to escape. What’s different about Carrion is presented throughout its variety of puzzles, interesting game mechanics, and the psychopathic feeling of killing without empathy or remorse. The atmosphere and feel of the game all starts with the monster; you are the monster. Your growls echo through the hallways, sending shivers down your meals’ spines as they run or prepare for you arrival. Your tendrils pitter-patter against any surface they can, flinging you across rooms at lightning speeds. You rip doors off their hinges, lunging yourself at helpless humans with the urge to kill and feast like the ravenous beast you are. The horrified …

The Powers That Be – The God of High School (Episode Three) – Season’s Writings

Wheresoever fighters gather, ideals shall clash…like, in the metaphorical sense; most of the clashing will be done with fists and weapons. Still, everybody has their own motivation for their actions; their own justification for what they do. They may sound right, wrong, smart, stupid, outdated, or just plain weird; but, they make sense to the person spouting them. Unfortunately for most, they aren’t protagonists—which sort of means that their purpose will often fall short. I mean, if the protagonist’s mind wasn’t the one we were meant to understand then we wouldn’t be given the most insight into it. Right? Following his rule-violating beatdown of Manseok, our impetuous lead, Mori, has found himself in hot water…not that he seems to care. Though the God of High School has been touted as a life-changing event, Mori has only shown interest in fighting people; we know nothing of his wish. Also, allowing Gamdo to get pummelled into oblivion would’ve made Mori a pretty lousy lead character. Though I do understand each character possesses their own desire to win, …

Can You Dig It? – Mr. Driller DrillLand – Humble Opinions

It has been five years since the last instalment in the Mr. Driller series—a mobile spin-off title: Mr. Driller for Kakao—and more than a decade since the last main series release. You’d be forgiven for thinking that, much like Dig Dug (the series which spun off into Mr. Driller), this series was effectively a dead property at this point. That is why it comes as such a pleasant surprise that Namco Bandai has revived the series with a full remake of the GameCube classic which defined the series: Mr. Driller DrillLand. The GameCube game has been remade completely from scratch here for the Nintendo Switch in glorious fashion. Mr. Driller DrillLand for the Nintendo Switch maintains all the features that made the GameCube version so remarkable, all the while expanding upon them and improving the visual aspects of the game. For the uninitiated, Mr. Driller is essentially a wicked combination of Dig Dug and Tetris—only you’re playing Tetris in reverse. The aim of the game is to drill your way through the various blocks and make …

The Battle of Wills – The God of High School (Episode Two) – Season’s Writings

Fighting for sport is an interesting conundrum. Though the aim of the game is to see competitors go all out with their respective talents, the line of excess is much lower than in a real fight. You know, because you’re not actually trying to maim or kill your opponent. So, as pure a rule as “the match will not end until one participant is knocked out or gives up” may sound, it leaves a lot of grey area. Case in point: what happens when one fighter refuses to yield? Or worse, what happens when one fighter will not let the other yield? As it turns out, the answer to my question is a lot of bodily harm—broken bones to be specific. You see—having comedically jumped past the climactic clash that ended last week’s episode—we are given witness to the next round of combat, and it is not exactly pretty. Though we blast through a few bouts featuring characters who will undoubtedly become important as the story unfolds—such as wrestling girl and glasses boy—our main focus …

Stunning. Vivid. Gratifying. – Children of Morta – Humble Opinions

If you are a fan of stunning pixel art and roguelike games similar to Dead Cells, you should probably check out Children of Morta on Steam. With its recent full release—away from being an early-access title—the game provides value and a sense of progression and accomplishment for those who have the patience to stick with it for the long term. Children of Morta-–firstly—is beautiful in all aspects. I don’t feel like I’m exaggerating here. If you have a penchant for pixel art and the inherent cuteness of it all, you will adore the attention to detail and style of the art presented in this game. The art within the game is so vivid and vibrant. I imagine the colour palette of the Bergsons’ home in its entirety has hundreds of different shades of colour. Looking at the outside of the home, your eyes are met with wild, almost psychedelic colours which mesh together so well. The family home provides a beautiful retreat and is a wild contrast from the dingy dungeons you will be diving …

The Fight Is On! – The God of High School (Episode One) – Season’s Writings

If what movies have taught me is true, fights are standard fare at any high school. Be it a disagreement about money, an insult directed at a friend, or an attempt to prove one’s toughness: somebody is going to get hit. However, such paltry altercations have no place in an anime such as this—no, this is where the fighting gets serious. Suspend, if you will, your disbelief regarding the legal ramifications of allowing high schoolers to perform violent martial arts on one another. Have you done it? Have you suspended that disbelief? Good, because what follows is the beginning of a story in which it is apparently possible for a bicycle to keep pace with a motorcycle; a tale where normally fatal injuries are naught but an inconvenience; a show where nanomachines are used to gamify violence. So, you know, an anime. So, cards on the table, I’ve been excited for The God of High School since I saw its trailer. Smooth visuals, a badass soundtrack: what wasn’t to love? And, one episode in, I …

A Kid and Not a Squid – Ninjala – Humble Opinions

Any time a game is promoted as “free-to-play”, the grizzled gaming veterans among us raise our eyebrows; the youngins on the other hand wouldn’t have it any other way. Ninjala is among the many recent slew of these titles; but, unlike the money-grubbing exemplars of this rather exploitative model, developer GungHo have created quite the tempting “free” proposition. Splatoon quickly became one of Nintendo’s quintessential IPs—ever since its Wii U debut—and is still as strong as ever: with Splatoon 2 being part of the first-year lineup for Nintendo Switch. When Ninjala was first revealed, it turned heads and rolled eyes as the similarities with Nintendo’s squid-kid shooter were just far too obvious. In the build up to the eventual worldwide launch—and after many delays—those similarities are very much still the case, but to the extent of Pepsi being similar to Coca-Cola. Right on the title screen graphic you see a soda ad with the caption “Taste the Difference”. Subtle. Ninjala may resemble Splatoon in its style and use of fonts, but when you get right …

A Difficult Game; An Easy Cell – Dead Cells – Humble Opinions

I’ve never been one for difficult or rogue-like games—you can thank my short temper and minimal patience when it comes to dying in video games—but I’m a little bit different when it comes to Dead Cells. The game is a combination of stunning 2D pixel graphics and smooth movement. It can be punishing in its own right; but, on the other hand, the potential for progression kept me running through levels again and again. The addictive gameplay and the feeling of building my strength and capability with every run made me endure every mistimed dodge-roll and cheap enemy tactic. To be fair, I felt some of my tactics were cheap too… First off, there is no doubting that the game is beautiful in its own right. The pixel art and animation is stunning, and care was definitely taken when designing the levels and the enemies. The art style is consistent across the game, with all enemies and levels all appearing unique in their own right. The style is very much “cute-and-endearing”, but you can’t focus …

To Cop, or Not to Cop? Only One Wei to Decide! – Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition – Humble Opinions

If you think that Sleeping Dogs is just another Grand Theft Auto clone: you’d be wrong. After playing Definitive Edition the second time round in an attempt to 100% the game, I found myself still enjoying the story and the world—more so than I did with any of the games in the GTA series. It is a bit daring to compare the game to (and favour it over) a behemoth like GTA V, but the game does well for itself—even if it is on a smaller, less grandiose scale. Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition introduces the player to an intriguing set of characters facing an intriguing set of circumstances, and that’s a key factor in what kept me returning to the experience. You begin your story by infiltrating the Sun On Yee (a triad organisation) as Wei Shen, an undercover police officer. Navigating the streets of contemporary Hong Kong, Wei must balance his time between his policing duties and proving himself to the triads—travelling between four key districts to complete missions for both, earning experience and …

Dungeon Nice Monsters – Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX – Humble Opinions

Since Pikachu’s Vacation, we have known that—despite nominative, and therefore linguistic, differences—Pokémon have their own interactions beyond human influence. They laugh, they fight, they party down, and they have adventures all their own. But, what happens when an adventure goes awry? What happens when a Pokémon is lost to the depths of a dungeon? Well, they’re rescued of course. This isn’t some tragic, twisted tale: this is Pokémon. And the power of courage and friendship trumps all—even the perils of walking ninety-nine floors beneath the actual ocean. Originally gracing our handhelds fifteen years ago, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon is an interesting spin-off of the standard Pokémon formula. Gone are gyms, trainers, professors, Pokedexes, and mothers who wait until after you’ve walked one town over to give you shoes capable of supporting a run. Instead, you awaken as a Pokémon—a Pokémon who was once human. Mysterious, to say the least. Thrown into an uncertain world—not helped by the amnesia you are afflicted with—you immediately befriend a cheerful Pokémon and decide to join their rescue team: vowing to …

The Most Insane Spectacle in The History of Wrestling – AEW’s Stadium Stampede – Going Over

What can ten professional wrestlers create in an empty 80,000 seat arena? Well, we now have the answer to that question: absolute entertainment. On 23 rd May 2020, All Elite Wrestling held their annual Double or Nothing pay-per-view event—headlined by the first ever 5 vs 5 Stadium Stampede match. This match would see a ring placed in the middle of a gridiron football field, yet allows the entire stadium to be the battleground for what ultimately amounts to wrestling’s answer to Marvel’s Civil War. The idea of this match ultimately sounds silly: wrestlers brawling across a massive football stadium. What can they really do that couldn’t be done in a standard wrestling environment? Well, the answer was beyond this writer’s imagination. It was simply the most insane spectacle in professional wrestling history. The match has been brewing since the inception of AEW’s weekly program, AEW Dynamite, when The Inner Circle first formed and laid The Elite to waste in the main event of the first episode—in chaotic fashion. Over the course of the past eight …

The Entrance to Entry-Level Dungeon Brawling – Minecraft: Dungeons – Humble Opinions

As an avid lover of Minecraft for the past ten years, I knew I’d have to give Minecraft: Dungeons a shot. After all, what more could I want in a game than for it to be a combination of Minecraft aesthetics and Diablo-esque gameplay? Being a massive fan of ARPGs like Path of Exile and Diablo—which usually promise lengthy playtime, huge replayability, and that addictive feedback loop of grinding for loot—Dungeons appealed to me, as it had been a while since I sunk my teeth into the genre. The game—newly released, and on the Australian PC market for $29—seemed like a cheap enough entry point to not have to wait for a sale. The price point upon release was one of the biggest clues as to what I was diving in to—before even booting the game up. At about half the cost of a full-priced title, I was expecting half the content. And I was kind of right. Firstly, one of the striking things is the aesthetic. Even though Minecraft is not often described as …

Copious Content, Moderate Substance, and a Unicorn – Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey – Humble Opinions

“Odyssey” is a word usually used to describe a long and eventful journey or experience. In the case of Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, this is a fitting description. Upon release, and especially after the release of Assassin’s Creed: Origins, the game received flak for some of its design choices. Currently playing through—at about seventy-one hours in—I thought I would review some of the criticisms that Ubisoft were faced with upon its release. Are these things really an issue? And for who? Gripe Number 1: The game has too much padding and filler There is no hiding this, that’s for sure. Ubisoft—maybe in an effort to draw out “more value” (a.k.a. more gameplay hours)—perhaps thought it was a good idea to make the game world, and the quests within it, massive. Yes, the world itself is huge—I would say bigger than Origins. Things are plentiful on the map (you won’t run out of things to do for a long time), but that doesn’t necessarily make all of these things fun to do. Even with an abundance of …

Aye – Robert the Bruce – Humble Opinions

Braveheat—the classic medieval Scottish pride film starring Mel Gibson—was on TV the other night. The film was meant to depict the conquests and campaigns that took place under the legendary Scottish knight, William Wallace, as he fought to liberate Scotland from the rule of England. As entertaining, epic, and charming as the film was—for all the right reasons—the fact of the matter is that it simply was not an authentic depiction of the real William Wallace, nor the events that transpired during his legendary knighthood. Sadly, his legacy has now become synonymous with Gibson’s charming crocodile smile, much to the dismay of the Scots who revere the legacy of William Wallace and his contributions to Scotland’s odyssey towards freedom. In the very same film was the conflicted Scottish king Robert the Bruce, portrayed by actor Angus Macfadyen, depicted as a cowardly and indecisive young king—which ultimately was a disservice to who he really was historically. Still, there was a layered and conflicted nature to his character as someone caught between England and Scotland. Braveheart ended …

Comedy of Eras – Zoids: Legacy – In Retrospect

What can be said about Zoids: Legacy that hasn’t been said already? Probably a lot, because nobody else I know has ever played the damn game—a travesty if ever I did hear one. So, despite the fact that nobody asked and probably less people care, I shall detail the reasons why I love this game with a passion. Oh, and this isn’t one of those ironic passions either—I legitimately, and without reservation, love this game. In case you were wondering what the hell a Zoid was, allow me to explain. It’s a big animal mech. A bit of a stripped down explanation, but an apt one. Set on the fictional world of Zi, Zoids are the shape which combat has taken. Rather than tanks or planes, militaries based their weapons upon native, techno-organic species—sort of like if you strapped a cannon to a tiger, but also it was the size of a bus…and you sat in its skull. Okay, that sounds horrible, but it’s completely fine in the series…I think. Ethics in Zoids is similar …

Into the Wild – Read Dead Redemption II – In Retrospect

There was something so addictive about Red Dead Redemption II. No, it wasn’t the engaging story, the beautiful graphics, or the promise of being a cowboy (or cowgirl, in my case) again; although, all of those things helped. A game usually tutorialises you—which is necessary most times—but that’s usually the most boring part, right? Well there I was, learning how I was supposed to ride a horse, which buttons to press, how to trade with NPC’s, the works; then came along one part of the tutorial—and it changed everything… What’s that? You want me to murder this poor little rabbit?! But why? I had to oblige. After all, how was I going to get to that juicy main story content? The game begins to walk me through hunting. Okay, I’ll do it. But I just want to get to the story! Why do they have to pad the game out so much? Here I am, crouched in a bush next to my horse. I activate Dead Eye and track its scent. As I inch away …

One Record Wonder – ‘Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too?’ by The New Radicals – In Retrospect

Whether you were aware of it or not, you’ve likely heard a song written by the New Radicals frontman Gregg Alexander. While the New Radicals only ever released one record—Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too?, which itself produced arguably the most timeless one hit wonder in music history “You Get What You Give” (this writer’s all time favourite song)—Alexander would go on to enjoy a successful career as a song-writer for artists such as Beyoncé, Ronan Keating, The Kaiser Chiefs, Enrique Iglesias, The Struts, and even Santana—just to name a few. Alexander even received a Grammy Award for writing the song “Game of Love” by Santana and Michelle Branch. Despite the countless hits he had written for other artists, it is still the New Radicals one record wonder Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too? that stands as Alexander’s crowning achievement as a musical artist. While the New Radicals are most best remembered for their proverbial one hit wonder “You Get What You Give”, and for good reason, their one and only record is a musical odyssey the …

Hard Truths – The Suicide of Rachel Foster – Humble Opinions

If you enjoy a good walking simulator—backed by a gripping narrative with light puzzles—then you may want to consider playing The Suicide of Rachel Foster. Usually, these types of games don’t entice me to play, due to the slow-paced movement and lack of stimulating fast-paced action. The movement in these games is slow, yes, that’s true; however, everything accomplished within the game is done so with purpose—to add to the overall experience. That is what makes it worthwhile—the experience. In very brief terms—so as not to detract from the experience for those who have not played it yet—the game follows the story of Nicole, who reluctantly needs to return to her father’s hotel after his passing. She is there to assess the damage to the long-abandoned hotel and collect anything she wants to keep, as she intends to sell it and be done with its (and her family’s) troublesome history. From the moment she steps into the place, she is slowly drawn into an investigation about what happened to a girl named Rachel and her …

Self-Help Fiction – ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho – Humble Opinions

The Alchemist is a book I have had recommended to me countless times throughout my lifetime; it is undoubtedly a wildly popular book that has sparked a cult following. Finally conceding, I picked up a copy at the recommendation of my local book store clerk—the 25th Anniversary edition in fact. The book presents nicely and doesn’t fail to intrigue with its curious blurb, which boldly claims that a persons only responsibility in life is to fulfil their personal destiny. It is the type of phrase that is both eye catching and enticing to potential readers, the sort of thing that The Alchemist is full of—immediately intriguing lines of philosophy, written in a simple manner that anyone can understand with little thought. It is in those allegedly philosophical lines that The Alchemist hangs its entire story on. At the half way point of reading this novel, I wasn’t sure if I was reading something genuinely great or absolutely awful. The book plays more like self-help disguised as fiction than it does as traditional novella. This is …

Delight Amongst All the Rage – Rage 2 – Humble Opinions

Sometimes you just need a bit of mindless fun; so when I picked up Rage 2, that’s what I was hoping for. The game received a lot of criticism back when it was released in 2011, which is initially why I hesitated to buy it at full price. A couple years later, left with a wanting desire to switch off any part of my cognitive thinking after work, I decided to pick up the game during a Steam sale. I was not disappointed with what I found. If you approach the game with the presumption that you will dive into the lives of the protagonist and form a deep connection with their story, then you will be disappointed. The game introduces you to the Rangers, a group dedicated to patrolling the wasteland and eliminating the Authority. Right off the bat, the game exposes you to the villain of the wasteland, Dr Martin Cross, the leader of the Authority. You encounter Cross almost immediately, and he soon dispatches of Ranger Erwina Prowley, who raised you, Walker, …

Escaping Life’s Daily Grind – How I Found Purpose and Meaning Through Skateboarding – With Interest

“It’s funny to think that you’re just on a piece of wood on wheels and somehow you are controlling it. It’s just amazing if you really think about it.” These were the musings of my younger brother after I had taken him out for his third skateboarding session. It is that initial sense of wonder that hits just about everybody who has ever decided to skate for the first time. There is something unique and profoundly affecting about skateboarding, and—with the skate parks across the country made a no-go zone, and police handing out hefty fines for those caught skating amid this global pandemic—I find myself longing for the state of zen that comes with a board beneath my feet and the wind against my face. Ultimately, this pandemic has allowed me to reflect on how much skateboarding has affected and bettered my life. I find myself back where I was a few years ago: a time before skateboarding became a part of my every day life.   View this post on Instagram   Stay …

Connecting The World – Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Humble Opinions

Luke Halliday My first experience with the Animal Crossing series was on the GameCube. Playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and witnessing the feverish hype surrounding the game, it is evident that Animal Crossing has become one of Nintendo’s most popular and acclaimed series since its humble debut on Nintendo’s purple box that could. Tracing the history of the Animal Crossing franchise is an important part of understanding why New Horizons has had gamers clearing shelves across the country, not unlike the pandemic panic buying of toilet paper that has concurrently been taking place. The Animal Crossing series began rather humbly. The GameCube version didn’t allow for travelling to other players villages via online play because, quite simply, that wasn’t a possibility at the time. The game simply charged you with paying off your home loan, building up your own house, and welcoming other villagers to your town. I have many fond memories bonding over this game with my siblings—my sister of which has rather eagerly aided me in making this a joint Humble Opinions piece, …

Sebastian Was Right – Shinsekai: Into the Depths – Humble Opinions

Shinsekai: Into the Depths was one of the many, many launch titles for the Apple Arcade subscription service; then developer Capcom figured, why restrict this neat little underwater adventure to just one service when there are fifty-three million plus Nintendo Switch owners who would love another unique take on the Metroid formula. At its core, that’s what Shinsekai: Into the Depths really is: a Metroid-style adventure with its own signature gameplay style, but still emphasising exploration above everything else. Where most of the world is obsessed with outer space, this neat little adventure from Capcom appreciates just how little we know about the sheer depths of the oceans. Under the sea, down where it’s better—so they say. As an Aquanaut—and a sole survivor of a long lost civilisation—players venture into the depths of the unknown, as they make their way through the mysterious remnants long submerged into the deepest of waters. As much as it is about discovery and wonder, this mute Aquanaut must also deal with the looming disaster of an underwater ice age of …

The Heart of the Storm – Kafka on the Shore – Humble Opinions

When asked about the secret to understanding his novel, author Haruki Murakami had this to say: “Kafka on the Shore contains several riddles, but there aren’t any solutions provided. Instead, several of these riddles combine, and through their interaction the possibility of a solution takes shape. And the form this solution takes will be different for each reader. To put it another way, the riddles function as part of the solution. It’s hard to explain, but that’s the kind of novel I set out to write.” Kafka on the Shore is as described by Murakami as “filled with riddles”. It is a labyrinth of prose that may prove to be utterly mystifying upon first read. It is a novel that, while being a bona fide page-turner, is a book that challenges the reader to really stop and think about it. A deep dive into the themes and ideas conveyed in this book undoubtedly is a rewarding experience. Kafka on the Shore is somewhat of a departure from Murakami’s usual work. Unlike books like Norwegian Wood or …

Terror of Spiders and the Garbage Man – Resident Evil 3 – Humble Opinions

At the age of fifteen, I found myself with a bargain bin copy of Resident Evil 3 for PC; however, like Resident Evil 2, I couldn’t get past the first area. Not out of fear this time, for some reason the controls wouldn’t work on my keyboard—this I believe was due to some incompatibilities between the game and my PC. So, much like Resident Evil 2, my only experience with the game was flaming zombies making their way towards an immobile face-meal—preparing to eat me alive. It was another Resident Evil that I didn’t get to fully experience in my youth, and another horror I had to overcome. After playing through Resident Evil 2, I felt the next battle to face was Resident Evil 3. I decided to jump straight into the Resident Evil 3 remake without much of a break in between. Leon and Claire’s story has ended; however, Jill and Miguel’s…sorry…Carlos’ was still a big blind spot to me in the RE universe. In the Resident Evil 3 you play as Jill, of …

A Romantic First Date – Resident Evil 2 – Humble Opinions

When I was but a wee little child, I had accrued several PS1 Demo discs—which I believe I obtained from convincing my parents that magazines were good for me. They were like books: educational! Or maybe the true reality was I kept annoying the high holy hell out of them until they gave in. Either way, one demo disc in particular had the starting level of Capcom’s original 1998 survival horror game Resident Evil 2. I didn’t know what Resident Evil was, or the fact that it was a horror game, but I was to learn. I was to learn fast. A cop, Leon, navigating through the fire-y, zombie-torn streets. I wasn’t used to the tank like controls, shooting, or survival mechanics of the game, which meant Leon quickly got overwhelmed with the undead (and his face bitten off). A 10-year-old Matt got overwhelmed and scarred for life. Fast track to 2020, where a grown 26-year-old faced his childhood fear of getting his face bit off by playing the 2020 modernised remake of Resident Evil …

Dawn of Hope – Metro Exodus – Humble Opinions

The old Exodus book of the Bible is about several Israelites brought into slavery in Egypt, where they were freed through the guidance of Moses through God. Metro Exodus brings a similar story, though instead of Israelites, it’s the Russians of Moscow; the restriction of freedom not being slavery, but the irradiated world around them. The escape not being….all right, you got me. I know little about the story of Exodus, but I know about the story of Metro Exodus. Artyom has been through a lot over the last two years, and is at a point in his life where he wants something more. Something better than living in an irradiated wasteland, tunnelled into the metro like a rat. This chapter of his life takes place with a small group of post-apocalypse Spetznaz called “The Order”, namely on a train “‘The Aurora”, looking throughout Russia for any sign of an active Russian command centre—and any location where The Order can live in a free irradiated zone. There are a lot of things that separate Metro …

SOLDIER of Fortune – Final Fantasy VII Remake – Humble Opinions

In 1997, a 1st Class SOLDIER left the military for reasons he cannot remember. This man promptly ventured forth to the Midgar underground. Today, still watched by Shinra, he survives as a mercenary. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can afford him…maybe you can hire Cloud Strife. Dun-dah-dah-daa, duh-duh-dah. This one has been a long time coming, hasn’t it? For years people have been clamouring for the next glimpse at FFVII, the next evolution of a game beloved by folks the world over. I mean, I never even played the original and I was excited by Remake, am excited by Remake. Which goes to show the impact this instalment in the ever ironically named series had on the world. So ingrained is the story of this game, that I doubt there is any player of games who doesn’t know at least a little something about the tale of Cloud and his friends in AVALANCHE (as tumultuous as said friendship began). Still, I will refrain from detailing any …

Rip and Tear Until It Is Fun – Doom Eternal – Humble Opinions

Id Software surprised the world a few years back with its reboot of Doom (2016). A game featuring a protagonist (the Doom Slayer) who didn’t care about anything aside from ripping and tearing through demons, pushing away dialogue, and using hands as key cards before ripping them off of the dead. Unlike 1995’s Doom II, which was very much an extension of 1993’s Doom, Doom Eternal feels like a complete remix of old and new gameplay mechanics, lore, and feel. While the game is a marvel, I have a few minor bugbears that made the experience feel a little tarnished. You start the game with a pist—nope. This is the first time where you start off with the bread and butter of Doom gameplay: the combat shotgun. Id Software have decided that the pistol was largely redundant, which I agree, and started off with one of the primary weapons of the series that you’ll be using. Very quickly, throughout the first couple of missions, you also receive your double jump, chainsaw, shoulder-mounted grenade launcher/flamethrower, and …

What Is Love? – Saints Row IV: Re-Elected – Humble Opinions

“So first I’m silent, then I’m an asshole, then I become world famous, then I topple a worldwide crime syndicate, then I defuse a nuke and kill a terrorist, then I’m elected president, and then I’m in an alien spaceship in outer space fighting aliens in a simulation…I have the best life ever.” ~The Boss This one quote that can sum up the story of Saints Row IV, and shows a clear sign of escalation throughout the series. In Saints Row IV, as “The President”, you get trapped in a Zin Spaceship fighting against the warlord Zinyak in a simulated, alien-invaded Steelport. The only way to defeat the Zin Empire is to bring the simulation to its knees by doing what The Saints do best: cause complete destruction and mayhem. You play as your own custom President; I personally created a Clark Kent, representing the Saints in a purple suit. I felt that this ties well because, within the simulation, you are quickly granted superpowers of mass destruction and mobility. Powers range from super-jumps, launching …

Beginner’s Journey in Pinball – Deadpool, Sorcerer’s Lair, and Fish Tales – With Interest

Hardcore Hobby Hopping I’m terrible when it comes to getting into new hobbies; that’s because when I jump into a new hobby I usually go real deep, real fast (hehe). One such example is when, on a night like any other, I was laying on the couch watching Netflix with my girlfriend; she turned to me randomly and said, unrelated to what we were watching, “Hey Matt, would you be interested in playing Magic: The Gathering?” Immediately and without thinking, I returned, “Nah, not my thing.” Then I pondered my immediate close-mindedness and said, “Actually sure, why not. Let’s go to our local games store.” Not long after, we went to Games Laboratory in Melbourne (shout out to the guys over there!), sat down by a table, and were given free red and black Magic: The Gathering decks to try out. Fast forward one week and I was deep into the lore, had at least seven decks, and was playing Magic: The Gathering Arena every night. See Exhibit A of craziness below. I did eventually …

The Light at the End of the Metro Tunnel – Metro: Last Light Redux – Humble Opinions

After recently finishing Metro 2033 Redux on the Switch, my attention turned quickly to the next game in the series. Metro: Last Light brought a similar experience on the Switch, but with some improvements, and a continuation of Artyom’s travels in depths of the sewers. Similarly to the 2033 Redux, the graphical fidelity is not so impressive. Of course, this was completely expected (as the Switch has its limitations), and this was pretty much hit on Metro 2033 Redux with not much room to evolve. The graphics aren’t bad in any sense of the word, but you would definitely have a more aesthetically pleasing experience on PC with settings turned to maximum (if you care about that sort of stuff). The graphical fidelity, or lack thereof, by no means diminished the experience at all. I actually enjoyed this game a lot more than 2033 Redux, and it came down to a few factors. Firstly, the levels were varied. Sounds simple, but having different environments for the player to experience is essential in making sure things …

Strategic Romantic – Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV – Humble Opinions

After fourteen installments across countless gaming platforms dating as far back as 1985, the Romance of the Three Kingdoms video game series stands as one of the longest running franchises in gaming history. Yet despite that fact, you’d be forgiven for not having come across the series previously. While it is a genuinely popular franchise in Asia, the Romance of the Three Kingdoms series has always struggled to find an audience in the Western world. Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV is perhaps best put as the culmination of the entire franchise up until this point. The strategic gameplay system is damn near perfected after all these iterations, and will provide strategy game fans more than enough to sink their teeth into. The game requires a lot of thought and focus in order to do well, proving to be a hardcore strategy gamers delight. That said, if you are in the market for something of a more casual experience set within the Three Kingdoms historical setting, perhaps you’d be better off exploring the spin-off series …

We Named Her Ku – Ori and the Will of the Wisps – Humble Opinions

Moon Studios’ 2D action puzzle-platformer Ori and the Blind Forest is one of my favourite games of all time; to hear that a sequel was being made, I couldn’t help but feel hyped about it. That’s an enormous thing for me nowadays, what with buggy releases, aggressive micro-transactions, uncooked early access titles, and an overabundance of cookie cutter releases over-saturating the market of gaming. What’s worse is that, for some, it’s very easy to have high expectations that a game simply cannot meet; regardless of what the game offers, it doesn’t hit the same dopamine high that the hype for it originally did. For that reason, I keep clear of those hype trappings before a game gets released. I want to keep as neutral as I can so, that when I play, I can enjoy the game for what it truly is. This is not the case with Ori and the Will of the Wisps (or Ori 2 as I’ll be calling it). Before release, I was counting the days for it to come out. …

Two For All – My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising – Humble Opinions

What can be said about My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising without spoiling the plot in its entirety? Nothing, so buckle up for a slew of words that detail every single thing I found to be cool in this second film outing for the series I love oh so much. Fair warning, I am just going to write this as it pours out of my head; so, literacy be damned, this is about fun…and cool…and cool fun…and punching things really, really hard…with a film budget. As is apparently the case, My Hero loves throwing Class 1-A onto islands when it needs a film set piece. I don’t know why. Maybe so they can wreck shop and not impact mainland Japan? You could argue that it’s so Pro Heroes aren’t as readily available, but that only applies to this film, since the first took place on an island that had literally just called a bunch of extra Heroes to it. Regardless, Class 1-A is on an island, helping out the locals as part of their training. With …

Down in the Depths of the Metro – Metro 2033 Redux – Humble Opinions

I’m not one to usually enjoy playing first-person shooters on the Nintendo Switch (and you’ll understand why soon enough), but I had the opportunity to play Metro 2033 Redux recently and it was still an enjoyable experience. The game takes inspiration from the Metro books written by Dmitry Glukhovsky – you follow the story of Artyom, who is residing within the sewers (along with the rest of civilisation), after a global nuclear holocaust forces humanity to retreat from the surface and away from the threats that lie above. Going in blind to the series, I wasn’t sure quite what to expect. From screenshots, I envisioned a similar setting to the Fallout games: that post-apocalyptic grimy wasteland, filled with abandoned buildings and sewers. This is what I encountered, but on a smaller and more linear scale; there weren’t large open wastelands to trek across, but that was probably for the best. With such a current focus on making games expansive, and ensuring they have maps so big you will never finish exploring, sometimes you need a …

Story of Another Hero – Trials of Mana – Coming Attractions

It is said that people are often the hero of their own story, the protagonist for which the plot progresses. That being said, it’s awfully hard to experience this beyond one’s own mortal form, what with the limitations of reality and all. Luckily for us, video games provide a lovely break from the rules of existence, allowing us to inhabit the saga of whomever we so wish. But even then our scope is limited. We may assume the role of the hero, but it is still an instance of a singular hero in their own story. But what if we could follow the stories of many a hero? Protagonists in their own rights, providing their own unique additions to one singular world? Surprise surprise, that’s what Trials of Mana is all about. Before the story unfolds, you are given a choice of six characters: Duran, Angela, Kevin, Charlotte, Hawkeye, and Reisz. Each possesses their own fighting style and, since it’s what we’ve been talking about, their own story. That being said, the overarching plot remains …

Dodge-Rolling Its Way Into My Heart – Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem – Humble Opinions

With the recent release of Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem, there is an abundance of solid ARPG titles on the market to choose from. I was excited about this release; it had been in development for some time now, and was early access on Steam. As a massive fan of ARPGs, I wasn’t inclined to purchase it with that “early access” label on it however, due to bad experiences with early access titles in the past. When it became a full release on Steam, I decided to try the game out, and was pleasantly surprised to see that it was marketed at a cheaper rate than a full-priced, newly-released title. Just at first glance, the game was stunning. The graphics were akin to Diablo 3‘s style, which has always been one of the more aesthetically appealing ARPGs that I have experienced. Path of Exile compares very differently, reminding me more of classic Diablo games – with its gritty textures and typically dark environments. From the previews into Path of Exile 2 that I have seen, Grinding …

Heard Feelings – Bryce Papenbrook – Waxing Inquisitive

During Anime Festival Sydney 2020, I was fortuitous enough to sit down and chat with Bryce Papenbrook. Known throughout the dubbing world for his roles in, well, most things, Bryce explained the nuances of voicing characters who have already received such a treatment in Japanese. More than producing a similar performance, he focused on the importance of translating the emotions behind the voice. One may understand the intention behind dialogue presented in a tongue not their own, but to feel it is a visceral sensation granted by knowing the language spoken. That isn’t to discourage linguistically branching out, merely acknowledge what adaptational performances can bring. Simply put: We can all enjoy what we love, and love what we enjoy. And that’s nice. -30-

Theatre of the Voice – Ricco Fajardo and David Matranga – Waxing Inquisitive

During Anime Festival Sydney 2020, I was lucky enough to be able to sit down and talk with Ricco Fajardo and David Matranga. Known for their work in dubbing, they were more than happy to discuss their experiences and the overall process itself. That being said, the discussion of how dubbing relates to both theatre and the study of dialogue itself presented a unique insight beyond the trappings of booth recording. Were time not so limited, I would’ve loved to carry on this train of thought, as it goes to show just how much goes into bringing the characters we all know and love to life; a second time to us, but also a first. Which is pretty darn cool when you think about it. -30-

Fun at a March Convention – Anime Festival Sydney 2020

-Mattiese- Saturday the 7th of March started out real poopy. I ripped my pants, just barely made the train, and the camera ran out of storage half way through our first interview; Kane and I had to walk to buy a new SD card, and then walk all the way back to the convention, and boy was I already tired. None of this was ideal, and I started worrying what else would happen to me throughout the rest of the day. It was about 12pm when we finally stepped foot into the convention, and I already felt as if my worries were lifted. Cosplayers, stalls, and panels are what made up Anime Festival Sydney 2020; and man was it enjoyable. The first thing we did was head to the “Live Drawing with Shingo Adachi” panel, and boy is that guy talented. Adachi drew a few popular Sword Art Online characters (as he was character designer on the series), while answering questions related to his work. At the end of the panel, they let fans ask …

Switchin’ It Up – Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition – Humble Opinions

In 1320, Dante Alighieri finished The Divine Comedy. His epic poem dealt with humanity’s relationship with sin and presented a representation of the journey towards spiritual understanding. In 2001, Hideki Kamiya helmed a project that punched up the script a little; eventuating in a few more iterations, the third of which we shall be specifically speaking. Now, I won’t say that somebody of Alighieri’s literary magnitude would unequivocally love the work which took nominative inspiration from his poem…but he’d be crazy not to appreciate a game that has a guitar-scythe in it. Like, a guitar that is also a scythe. I don’t care what era you’re from, that’s cool. Now, if a guitar-scythe is up your proverbial alley, then boy are you going to love this game. Just in case you didn’t know, Devil May Cry 3 is all about style (as were its predecessors). If the protagonist wearing a red leather trench coat wasn’t proof enough, then…just, everything else will be. I mean, the entire opening brawl consists of Dante beating up demons with …

Complexity in Simplicity – Path of Exile – Humble Opinions

Time is a commodity – once you spend it, there’s no getting it back. So, why you ask, have I spent 400+ hours grinding away in Path of Exile? Some simple reasons really. There’s a lot of treasure to be had within this free-to-play title, and if you’re already a fan of ARPG’s (that’s Action Role Playing Games for those folks of you out there who aren’t in the know yet), then this is my preferred one to sink in every free waking hour into. Let me tell you why. Never have I come across a free-to-play game as refined as this – at least not one that has always been free. Sure, some games eventually go free-to-play once their subscriber base starts to diminish, but Grinding Gear Games have expended all their effort into Path of Exile (POE) from very the start, regardless of the size of the fan base or monetary gain, and it shows. The developers are New Zealand based, so I was pleased to find that there are dedicated Oceanic servers …

Once More, With Feeling – Final Fantasy VII Remake – Coming Attractions

“So, our objective here is nothing less than creating a new, definitive, benchmark RPG.” Since its initial release in the pre-centennial year of 1997, Final Fanatics have been clamouring for more content relating to the world of VII. And, to their hope, they were met with some. Crisis Core told us a story from the past, and Advent Children wove one from the future; yet, the initial story continued to draw passion. So much so that one brief glimpse, a tech demo in the era of the PS3, sparked a rallying cry that crystallised into one word: Remake. Now, what does this mean for people who care not for my faux-losophical ramblings? People want them some Final Fantasy VII. They want it shiny and chrome, pushing their consoles to the limit, reminding them of all those fond experiences they once had as children. Now, I say “they” because I am one of those who slipped between the cracks, who never played the original VII; so, consider my opinions as nostalgic-by-contact, a testament to how ever-present …

We Are All Team Rider! – Interview With TokuChris – Waxing Inquisitive

Hot off the heels of the successful Team Rider meet up in New York City and ahead of the upcoming C2E2 event in Chicago, I had the opportunity to correspond with Chris Boothroy of TokuNation (known in the toku community as “TokuChris”) regarding all things tokusatsu and Kamen Rider. Here’s what he had to say: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us. To start off could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your involvement in the tokusatsu community? Thanks for reaching out to speak with me! My name is Chris – known more as TokuChris on social media. I’m a husband and a father first and foremost. I’ve been a fan of tokusatsu for roughly 30 years and have really gotten in to the greater community of it in the last 10 years. I started TokuNation back in 2012 because aside from a blog or a Facebook group here or there it was hard to find streamlined news and information for toys, collectibles, and the shows. I’ve also started PwrRngr.com …

Hadou-Ken Doll – Street Fighter V: Champion Edition – Humble Opinions

I think at this point there are more editions of Street Fighter than there are Ken dolls in this world. Not that it’s a bad thing, because in the past each new edition of a canonically numbered Street Fighter felt like a true sequel in every sense. Most modern fighting games have now migrated to a free-to-play model, some more shamelessly than others, but the 2016 launch of Street Fighter V on PS4 as a “disguised” and overpriced free-to-play title was an utter disappointment. The initial game at launch was so incomplete that the quintessential arcade mode would only come months later as free DLC; Capcom were quite generous that way. Since then, there was Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition in 2018 which was probably what the 2016 game should have launched as a bare minimum, and from there things got a little better…and also a little confusing because Arcade Edition on PS4 would subsequently get released in arcades. So basically the arcade version of the Arcade Edition. Give it a moment, it will sink …