Sunday, 8 September 2019

Fillmore!: Seriously, what doesn't this school have?

Well, aside from an interesting name. X? Really?

With Disney Plus on the looming horizon, I cannot help but wonder how big the back catalogue of content will be on the site. What gets to be there? What gets cut? Will the "Disney Vault" be opened completely, all the old content released? Or will some things be destined to never be seen again? Well, it is probably safe to say we will never see Song of the South again, but in terms of their shows, that is a tricky one. As with their animated movies, many of Disney's animated shows are still held up with a lot of praise, to the point where many view the live action reimagining’s they have been doing as a disservice to the original shows. Need I say more than that Kim Possible movie they recently aired? After the announcement that Ducktales 2017 is going to become the home of the Disney Afternoon reboots, I figured I would look into some of the animated shows of theirs I grew up with, back when Disney Channel was doing something other than setting up Tween pop-stars for a life of disaster. I've got one planned that has a larger fan base, but for now I want to tackle something more niece, back when a show could star a black guy and a girl and not be called SJW Propaganda. This is Fillmore! (Yes, the exclamation point is in the title, will not be using it for the rest of this review though).

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Opinion Piece: Microtransactions

It should come as no surprise to anyone that I have issues with the way monetization is happening in the large-scale games industry now. I am completely on the side against micro-transactions and loot-boxes in games. I may tolerate them in free to play games, and I will not deny the fact that I have spent money on some of these free to play games, but I despise them in games you do have to pay for. I had a personal policy of never buying a game that had either of these practices in them. I would actively avoid them regardless of how good the base game might have been because to me, once you put a monetary value on the game, ask players to pay for a game in order to play it, that should be it. I am happy to look the other way when it comes to post launch content. I have no issue paying for DLC if I personally feel the DLC is worth the price (you will have to do a lot to convince me a single map should be worth $10 for example). Nevertheless, there is a difference when it comes to micro-transactions. Because it's not paying a few dollars for more content, it's paying a few bucks for in game coins to help you get in game content, be it a up front charge as a way of avoiding grinding in the game, or a loot-box, where you're paying for the chance to get the thing you actually want. Either way, it is never "one and done". Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fuelled though has broken this rule, not because of choice, but because of a new practice that Activision started doing relatively recently, post launch micro-transactions. So with that, allow me a moment of your time to rip these mechanics and implementations a new one.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Persona Q2; New Cinema Labyrinth:What did I get myself into?

Cats turning into busses, bear suits where the suit came before the guy, dogs with machetes, and demanding kids accept their maturity by shooting themselves to summon powerful ghost-like things... Seriously, what did I get myself into?

While I won't deny for a moment that one of the main reasons I looked closer into Persona was the inclusion of Joker into Super Smash Brothers Ultimate, Persona has been a series on my radar for many years now. I'll always at least consider something my friends recommend me, give it a shot when I can, and if it's not for me, I let it be. Couldn't really do that for Persona until relatively recently, and when I could, I didn't really have the drive to look into it, as word of mouth on the... shall we say, character design, Atlus use often didn't leave a good impression from an outsiders perspective, and the only game of theirs I've seen in action was Catherine, via a commentary channel I follow on youtube. Game music though is an easy way to get my attention, and with Joker's inclusion, came the songs used for his stage, Mementos. Wake up, Get up, Get out there, Rivers in the Desert and Last Surprise from Persona 5, along with Mass Destruction from Persona 3, made me want to actively look into Persona. With Persona 5 Royal coming out next year on PS4 (hopefully), I figured a good place to start for now was Q2 on the 3DS, mostly because I could still find it on shelves.

As FalselyProfound ( can attest to, as she thankfully helped explain a lot of things going on), jumping into a crossover game that expects you to know who everyone is was probably not a good place to start when all you have is an absolute basic understanding of what's going on.

So, the story. Through many twisted events, the Phantom Thieves from Persona 5, the Investigation Team from Persona 4, and the Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad (S.E.E.S) from Persona 3 (along with the female protagonist from Persona 3 Portable), and their corresponding Velvet Room associates (trust me, it's better to just look all of this up yourself, like I said, I went into this with a basic knowledge of the games) end up inside of a locked cinema, with the ability to jump into special movies, three of which relating to the three team. One movie is a superhero movie where the first major boss of Persona 5 is basically evil Superman, another is a parody of sorts of Jurassic Park where one of the dinosaurs has the head of one of the characters from Persona 4, the third is a sci-fi movie relating to the robot companion the S.E.E.S team has, and the forth is a fairy tale musical movie relating to one of the new characters in the game, Hikari. Inside the movies, the Persona users have the power to change the plot, change how the story goes, and choose to do so in order to correct the harsh story threads within the movie and to rescue their friends who are trapped inside.

While a basic story, the story itself is drawn out a lot due to how much dialogue there is in this game, and unfortunately for many, none of the English voice actors reprise their roles for this game, all Japanese voice acting, with English text. When you consider how many characters there are, it means that there are large chunks of the game that are just cutscenes. While this is faithful to what I've seen of Persona, and the interactions are interesting, I don't think this suits a handheld system very well, as it's not a very good "pick up and play" game, and I think it will suffer in repeat playthroughs when you know the plot twists that are coming. As tired of a statement as this may sound, I think this would have been better suited for the Nintendo Switch instead of the 3DS for this very reason. Many players prefer to play this type of game on a home console, and at least there, you have the option to play this type of game in either form. Personally, I prefer RPG's on handhelds, but even that didn't help me feel at times "Ok, I get it, gotta stop him, can I get back to the gameplay now?"

In regards to the gameplay itself, it's solid for what it is, but it still has a few pacing issues. The game is a dungeon crawler where you have to explore these labyrinths floor by floor, taking out random enemy spawns along the way to level up your characters. Many of the pacing issues come from your inventory, and the sub-bosses you can find in dungeons. Your inventory is limited to 60 items, not counting equipped weapons and gear. Chests and enemy spawns are bountiful, so you'll often be using the "Goho-M" item (an item the game will harass you for if you don't have one in your bag), to teleport back to the central cinema to dump items and heal. I honestly didn't carry dedicated healing items in my bag until I came up to the main bosses of dungeons, I needed the inventory space. The annoying gimmick of the game though is the map creation, how the game uses the touch screen. It's not frustrating to use, but it becomes tedious after a while, and aggravating due to the game tracks how much of the map you've walked across, rather than how much of the map you've drawn. So when you have squares that have powerful enemies on them, and you can't get to them without potentially dying from them depending on where you are in the game, it becomes frustrating to complete the map and open up the special golden chests (though thankfully play coins are an option).

Combat is lifted directly from the Persona games, with an (at most) 5v5 turn-based battle system. Each character can have two Personas on them to assist with covering weaknesses, as it is on you to discover the weaknesses of every single enemy you fight. If you can get a critical hit or use a move that is weak to the enemies you're fighting, you have the chance to use an All-Out Attack, a powerful move that will increase money and experience if you use it to finish the fight. Characters can also randomly get assistance from other members of your party (though to change the main members out, you do have to go back to the cinema), either as a single attack that can lead to an All-Out Attack, or a unlockable Unison attack, where two characters work together to damage your opponents. Some combinations are characters like Chie from Persona 4 and Ann from Persona 5, along with the main protagonists from Persona 4 and 5 (both of which are relatively early unlockables when the mechanic is introduced).

The combat animations are nicely done, and even though you'll be fighting a lot of enemies, especially when you need to do pre-boss level grinding, what helps keep the fights from not feeling mindnumbing is the soundtrack. From reused and remixed versions of songs from Persona 3, 4 and 5, to the original battle themes, with the themes appearing depending on who's in your party. If you have at least one character from Persona 3, you'll get a chance at having Pull the Trigger play, Remember, we've got your back will start to show up if you have someone from Persona 4, and Wait and see for Persona 5's battle music (the weakest one for me personally). The dungeon exploration themes are ok as well, but they go for more atmospheric compared to the battle themes. The art direction is also very nicely done, all the models are expressive, and the animated cutscenes use the simpler art style (compared to the core games) to have some extremely lively moments, even when nothing much is happening on the screen. It's nothing spectacular, but it's fitting of the hardware and one that I'd like to see used in an HD environment.

Though it has problems, it's still a fun game and worth picking up if you really like those wordy RPGs. Would I recommend it if you, like me, barely know a thing about Persona?... Kinda? It's clearly made more for fans, but at the same time, the insanity of coming into this experience blind was entertaining in its own way. There's a genuine sincerity to the insanity of the situations that you kinda grow numb to it. "Of course the dog can use machetes and summons Cerberus as it's Persona. Of course, there's a side mission where these two normally serious characters have to compete in a fishing competition, in the middle of "Not Jurassic Park" (I think the level was called Junessic Land). Of course one of the answers you can give when asked "why did the gym teacher turned evil Superman turn into a giant rabbit with carrot shaped guns" is "he's h!)$%y". Of course there's an entire musical themed movie all about giving up individualism for the sake of being normal, complete with an animated movie intro with a fully choreographed song and dance number. I expect nothing less at this point! This is a niche title, not going to deny it, it expects a lot of patience out of you. but if you're willing to give it, you'll be in for an interesting ride.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Super Mario Maker 2: When the be all end all 2D Mario game turns out to not be the be all end all 2D Mario game

Apologies for the random week-long absence. The Tech Games Fest 2019 took more out of me then I thought it would, and the planned review, Persona Q2, needs a bit more work before it's ready. In the meantime though, there is a quick thing that could get it's time in the spotlight, and one that did get a good amount of play at TGF (though not while attendees were around), Super Mario Maker 2, the switch release of Super Mario Maker with more building tools, along with other new features (for better or for worse).

Friday, 24 May 2019

Top X List: Every Marvel Cinematic Universe Movie

To close off MAYvel (on this site at least), I figured it was only fitting to look back at what's been, and see how they stack when compared to each other. It should be said that all of these are purely subjective, based on how much I enjoy watching the movies, 

21. The Incredible Hulk

I'll start things off with the movie everyone forgot was in the MCU until Civil War brought back General Ross. While not a bad movie in terms of execution, it isn't really memorable either, as the only interesting thing is the behind the scenes dramas that went on with the movie, and everyone's attempts to take control of it. It's a shame that we can't get a dedicated Hulk movie now thanks to Universal's hold on the rights, but at least he gets to stay in the MCU. It would be cool to see more Hulk villains though going forward because while I don't know how many could hold a movie on their own, they can at the very least work as hired muscle for a bigger threat. It would also be a good excuse to get the other Hulks into a movie. 

Thursday, 23 May 2019

MAYvel Phase 2; The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes: The darker side of the MCU

While it's hard to argue against Marvel's dominance at the box office thanks to the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, X-Men movies and the original Spider-Man trilogy, their endeavours into the small screen have been... mixed at best. While there have been standouts, it's hard to compare those standouts favourably when compared to the competition like Batman the Animated Series, and this is just me comparing the cartoons. However, there was one that many consider equal to the likes of Justice League, and the DC Animated universe, though the problem was a restructure of the plan, to bring the shows more in line with the MCU.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

MAYvel Phase 2; Ant-Man and The Wasp: Still the best use of product placement I've seen in a series of movies.

So while giant spaceships were falling out of the sky and most of the heroes were either off-world or in Africa, it would appear that Ant-Man is having issues with ghosts and the government, and sadly not the ghosts of all the heroes. Time to return to the size changing shenanigans with Ant-Man and The Wasp.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

MAYvel Phase 2; Avengers Infinity War: One week after it's sequel came out. Perfect time to review it!

Put it this way, to those who hated Captain Marvel, the same rule holding it to 2020 is the rule that kept Infinity War to today.

Welcome to MAYvel Phase 2, the one-month marathon that goes into two months because of how much media Marvel has put out that doesn't include the actual comics. Unlike last year where almost all of Phase 3 was reviewed, from Ant-Man to Black Panther. This year, only two MCU movies are being reviewed, Infinity War, and the Ant-Man sequel. Two shows are going to be reviewed as well, along with a list marking almost every MCU movie from worst to best. Endgame won't be on that list because I don't want to spoil the Endgame. So don't worry, there won't be any spoilers of the movie in this review, and in the Toybox reviews this month, which will be reviewing the Avengers Endgame sets. So then, before you go to see Endgame, even though you probably already have, let's look at its direct lead-in, Avengers Infinity War.

Sunday, 28 April 2019

Deadpool 2; Super Duper Cut (and Once Upon a Deadpool): Time to beat the dead horse that's beating several dead horses again

See, I was tempted to make a joke in the title about this being a "family picture", due to one of the opening lines of the movie saying it was, but the X-Men Origins review got enough comparisons to the Nostalgia Critic, even though I reviewed the first three movies before he did, that I'm not going to take one of the jokes he actually came up with that isn't just making a mockery of something in the movie itself.

Time to wrap up Marvel catchup month once again, by looking at another one of Fox's successful movies with mutants, Deadpool 2. I'll be reviewing the Super Duper cut of the movie, but I also want to at least address Once Upon a Deadpool, a toned down cut of the movie that was released... even though I haven't seen it myself. I've seen the Super Duper Cut, it's why that's the one I'm officially reviewing, but you'll see why I want to address it later.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Spider-Man; Into the Spider-verse: Spider-Man 4 as you always imagined it.

Alright, let's start from the beginning one last time. My name is Liam Sanders, I wasn't bitten by a radioactive spider, and for the last five years, I've been making content for this site. I hope you know the rest, but probably don't, but even still I'm not continuing on with this joke.