How Sonic Frontiers is Evolving the Franchise

Now, I want to start by saying that this is definitely the best 3D Sonic game that has come out in years. I am not saying that this game is perfect. It definitely has its fair share of problems, but considering the hard times Sonic has gone through in the past ten years, I am willing to look past them. Especially since none of them had a major impact on my overall experience of the game. Anyway, I won’t talk too much about the cyberspace levels because they feel pretty much handle the same as previous 3D Sonic titles. What I want to talk about is the big open world we have to explore. Now you are limited to an island per story session, but each island has a lot of ground to cover. It is honestly a lot of fun to move around the area at high speeds and just explore while doing some cool stunts. There is also combat that you can do with enemies, but it can be difficult to pull off at first. However, it does get better once you understand more about how it works. The game is mainly broken up into two parts. The first part has you going around unlocking level portals with gears from defeated enemies so you can collect enough keys to unlock Chaos Emeralds. The second part has you collecting special tokens to talk to characters in the overworld for dialogue that continues the story and nets you the Chaos Emeralds that you are missing. once you have six, you face off a colossal Titan to grab the seventh, turn into Super Sonic and defeat the Titan to move to the next area. Then you rinse and repeat. Pretty simple stuff, but honestly Sonic tends to do a lot better when he doesn’t try to be too clever or overly complicated. Although, to be honest what sticks out about me the most is not the open world, but the character moments.

You see, it all starting when I learned about one of the mechanics returning to this game from previous titles. This game surprisingly has fishing available for you to do. Now before you run off fans of Sonic Adventure, this is an optional thing. You are not required to fish for any reason. Truth be told, there are only two reasons why anyone would fish in this game despite the mechanics not being bad. The first is because it is the easiest way to break the game since progression items are sold for pretty cheap and powerups are sold there as well for even less somehow. The second reason, and my preferred reason, is to get your hands on the Egg Logs. In case you aren’t familiar with it, it is a weird drink people like to harp on about during the holidays here for some reason. Wait, sorry I was thinking about Eggnog. My bad. I won’t take back what I said though. Anyway, the Egg Logs are a series of recordings that you can purchase from Big by trading fishing tokens. This is a minor spoiler, but Eggman causes himself to be trapped in cyberspace and these logs are some of his thoughts regarding the events happening throughout the game. Many of them center around his new artificial intelligence Sage and you can see his progression into a doting father as the recordings progress. This makes for some of the best dialogue in the game. Not only is it entertaining to see Eggman’s thought process, but this actually helps us see him as less of a cartoonish villain and more as a person. This is especially apparent when he talks about his opinions related to Sonic’s friends. I won’t mention specifics, but even Eggman acknowledged that they either had grown a bit from the past, or had a lot of potential to grow. After reading these, I started to look at the game in a new light.

One of the biggest things that stuck out to me, when I first played this game was Sonic’s voice. I immediately thought to myself as a joke that Sonic was finally hitting puberty. Thinking back, I think I wasn’t too far off. Now Sonic doesn’t really show any real signs of growth in this story. Aside from a few minor details, he is still the same fast, headstrong, and reckless hero that we all remember. What has seen a change is how he interacts with his friends. Typically, there was a lot more jokes in previous games whenever there was dialogue. Even if there wasn’t it still felt kind of cheesy. Now it finally seems like they are having deeper conversations with each other and are starting to form their own identities. Amy is no longer as obsessive about getting Sonic to notice her and has thankfully calmed her character down considerably. Knuckles is contemplating is their is more than just being the last guardian of the Master Emerald. Tails is finally starting to accept himself as more than just a Sonic fanboy and is considering finally jumping out of Sonic’s shadow. Now, I know there are some people who might not care about these changes. That’s fine, continue enjoying going fast. That is the main point of the game after all. What I am seeing though is there seems to be a change in the direction the series wants to take. I think they have started to understand how to do a more serious storyline without making it seem edgy. I think they are starting to understand to not go too heavy on the jokes. I also think they are finally reflecting on the fact that most of these characters haven’t had significant character development since the Sonic Adventure series. I can only see this as something to look forward to in the future. I can’t guarantee that this new journey will be smooth sailing, but at this point I think they might finally be moving into a new phase of 3D Sonic. I will sum this all up by saying the game is fun, but I won’t be remembering it for the millions of loops I did on rails. Anyway, take care everyone and see you next week.

Skill Tree Talk

Good news. I was worried for nothing. The games that came out have been holding up. There were two big games that came out this week. One was God of War: Ragnarok and the other was Sonic Frontiers. They are two very different games and yet fun in their own ways which is quite welcome honestly. They seem to know what they are doing and that is great. I just started to think about something because of these games and thought I would do the normal thing I do each week and lay out my thoughts for you to think about once again. While these two games obviously differ quite drastically from each other from a mechanical standpoint there is something they do have in common. That is the fact that they both have skill trees. For those unfamiliar with what those are, a skill tree is a skill window where you can upgrade your character’s basic skills by picking and choosing from branching paths in order to personalize your character’s moveset. That means that in the situation where a skill tree is present in the game, each pathway in the skill tree should be equally viable in allowing for clearing the game. As an example, imagine that you had a skill tree with three branching paths. One for melee, one for range and one for magic. The melee one would probably offer more damage when wielding melee weapons and special melee attacks to keep combos going. The range one would probably increase the number of projectiles that could be fired and boost the capability of ranged weapons. The magic one would allow for different elemental attacks and maybe some healing magic and AOE magic. However there would still be similarities such as a skills that helps take down multiple enemies or has increased chance of critical hits. There could even be branches that don’t even relate to combat and are instead focused on crafting since that is tied to many open world game formats. The increased crafting abilities could be used to craft better armor or weapons to make up for the lack of skills you get.

Now that we have got the idea of what a skill tree is out of the way, let’s talk a little more in depth about it. You see, a skill tree in my opinion, should be a way to allow the character to specialize in a certain field of play. That isn’t to say that they should pick one path and run with it only, but rather they should at least aim not to be a jack of all trades. The reason is because most of the best skills that you can get are reserved for after you reach a certain point in a skill tree. Now, skill points can be earned in multiple ways such as doing quests of leveling up, but they are not infinite. They are a valuable resource used to unlock more of your skill tree and continue to build upon your skills. As you upgrade your skills, it becomes more costly to unlock their superior versions so it means that you could end up with a bunch of half-baked skills if you do not specialize properly. Now you could rectify this by doing every side quest in the game to unlock more skill points, but even then some games don’t even let you unlock the entire skill tree by doing this. Some game almost force you to go through another playthrough to unlock the full skill tree, so by no means should you attempt to do this on the first go. Especially if you can already tell what skills you will find useful to beating the game. Again, the games are designed so that you can invest in any specialty to win so they wouldn’t be too unforgiving and require you to unlock most of the skill tree to win the game. Some skill trees even discourage you from doing this by making other branches more expensive to learn from once you commit to one. The point is to have the option to play things multiple different ways. At least, that should be the intention.

Now the problem with that is that everything I have listed in regards to how skill trees are set up bears a closer resemblance to an ideal rather than reflecting reality. While there are many possible choices, the problem is that sometimes there is the problem of too many and too few choices. Just because there are a lot of choices, doesn’t necessarily mean you will like all of the choices. Certain branches can sometimes be too complicated for their own good and branch out too much so it can feel like a waste. So sometimes you might have to collect other skills you might not care about to get to the ones you really want. This can occur in multiple branches as well if you are unlucky. There can also be a problem that can happen where certain branches are locked until you unlock a corresponding skill in the story. However, sometimes you have no way of knowing when you will get it so you have to ignore that branch for a while. The thing is that by then you may have already develop a playstyle that doesn’t include that branch and may ignore it because of that, despite its usefulness. Truth be told, I think skill trees shouldn’t give you new skills. I think it should be more focused on chaining abilities and skills together and upgrading them instead. To get new basic skills you will mainly get them through story quests or side quests. That way you can use them before deciding whether or not to upgrade them. Instead, usually you are just given a description and a little teaser showing you how it works. Unfortunately, that might not show you how well it chains it actual combat. I don’t think I am alone in thinking that, but this wouldn’t be the first time I was wrong. Maybe people do like being a jack of all trades after all. It’s possible, but unlikely. I am not saying that skill trees are bad, I just feel like you shouldn’t have your cake and eat it too. Otherwise, why bother having the branching paths in the first place? Why not just give us the useful skills from the get-go and have us choose what armor we want to wear instead? That all for now everyone. See you next time!

Let’s Talk About This Year

Alright, normally I don’t do things like this, but I felt the need to address it. Now, some people might have noticed that this year in particular has consisted of various levels of me bringing up the same types of games for discussion on this blog. I understand that I am at fault for that, but the main reason for that is because I honestly don’t know what else to talk about this year. This year has just been very lackluster for gaming. The amount of big name releases this year has been pretty low so far. And for the ones that we did get, they were a pretty mixed bag. Honestly, did anyone even remember that the new Saints Row came out after a month. I sure didn’t. I was literally looking at a list of games that came out this year and realized in shock that it was on the list. You know how many people are playing that game now? Nobody. Literally no one. Gotham Knights ended up also feeling bland as well so soon everyone will just forget about it too assuming they haven’t already. I’ll be honest and say I forgot about this too. It’s hard to remain relevant when your previous games were just better in every way.

Now maybe I could choose to believe that is all due to the live service nature of those games, but honestly most of the decent games came out at the beginning of the year to be honest. Elden Ring was great, the new Kirby game was good, and so was Horizon: Forbidden West. The thing is that they cannot hold an entire year on their own. Sure there are other games that came out aside from these, but I can’t see the others fighting it out for game of the year. We had a long drought this year and so the fact that most of the releases since then have been mid is slightly disappointing. Honestly, one of the most memorable games this year has been Stray and that is just a walking sim with a good story and world building. Honestly, it just feels unfortunate since a bunch of interesting releases were pushed back until next year. That is not anyone’s fault. We had a pandemic. Plans changed. We are just feeling the brunt of it now, that’s all. However, the current trends make me nervous for what’s in store.

Now this could just be my daily dose of paranoia so you can take what I am about to say with a grain of salt. I am fine with you going down to the rabbit hole with me though. You see, I am worried that any games coming out later this year might have their share of problems. Since development times have been thrown off, I am worried that people might have cut corners to have games on shelves for the holiday season. It wouldn’t be the first time something like this happened. Especially, when referring to the franchise that is unveiling their first real take on the open world formula next week. Sonic the Hedgehog really deserves a win at this point and so I really hope this latest game is what every fan of the series is hoping for and more. I just really don’t want it to be another dark spot in his history since Sonic has gone through a lot over the years. I am less worried about the other games, but I am still suffering from this needless anxiety because sometimes I am not sure if I trust this industry. So I figured I would share the wealth so we can hopefully all suffer together. Again, it is probably nothing. However, now I get the luxury of getting to say I told you so if I am right. I will not feel the least bit good about doing it though. It would just be obligatory. Anyway, that’s all. Bye!

First Final Fantasy Game?

Final Fantasy is one of the foremost examples of fantasy RPGs, but I for one found out after years of fooling around with forums online that featured facts about Final Fantasy VII, that one Final Fantasy game that people fought for as their favorite game ever forged by the facilities of our fathers and forefathers. After I found out about this famous franchise, I found out I had already followed in other’s footsteps and had found a Final Fantasy game to play. However, my first Final Fantasy game was a spinoff far removed from the franchise and featured a far friendly format for fighting foes in fights. First off, the spinoff was Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales. This game was a fondness of mine during fourth and fifth grade when I had the most fun finding time to fool around in funny games. For the record, going forward this will feature fragmented spoilers. I figure that is only fair when talking about the features of this fabulous spinoff in the Final Fantasy franchise. The plot is fairly straightforward. You are a finely feathered fowl known as a chocobo frolicking on a farm with your feather friends. One day on the farm as it is time for fun fables to be read, a fearsome looking fable from far away is brought in by a fellow friend of the farm who loves finding fascinating books. The farm owner flips the pages to find it is filled with freaky fortunes that foretell a frightening fate will fall upon the farm. This freaks out the fellows gathered there and soon the fable is revealed to be a fearsome foe trapped in the form of a fable. He feeds off of the friendly fowl at the farm save for yourself and a few friends without feathers. He then flies off to find the facilities he needs to free himself and achieve his final form.

Now in true Final Fantasy fashion you must fight and defeat the fearsome foe that has broken free. The game’s foundation is focused on different fantastic fables that have fallen in different places and have found themselves filled with magical force. The main feature of the game is fighting it out with feathered fiends in friendly games to fulfill different tasks. these function as a way to find paths to move forward to face the foes you need to fight for the main game. Each fable you find has three fortunate happenings that once fulfilled in the fable can help you find your way forward. Of course there are not just fables to find as there are fun minigames that feature a few fun prizes to help fight foes. The fables also feature some of these as well. These fun prizes are for the fights you face to move forward. There are only a few fights, but they are fought by fighting with cards. Yes, to face off against foes, you must find fearsome cards and configure a deck that can face off against them. You can find many of them in fables and fun minigames, but some are found just by finding them on the floor. There are factors that can influence the feasibility of your deck such as the form of the foes in the opposing force. It is fine to fail at first as you just need to find cards or fill up a different deck before fighting again. There are four minibosses and four major bosses in the four featured sections of the game. Each fight is fought with your best fighters from you deck. Fighting and defeating them all will lead to the final fight.

You see, after defeating the fable boss for the fourth time, he reveals it was fate to fail to you four times and that by fighting and defeating his four forms, he can finally achieve his final form. That was why he didn’t feed on you at the farm. After he flies off you head to the final area to fight his final form in… air hockey? For real? Oh right, I forgot about the fun and friendly vibe for a few seconds. Anyway, you fend him off and finish the job by using the fearsome might of the four crystal and finish the game. The game finishes with it all being a fever dream with the farm having never fallen to the dark fable. All in all, it is a fun game that features a different formula from other games in the franchise. Of course in fourth grade I didn’t fathom that this was a spinoff of a famous franchise. Further down the line I would finally play a full-on Final Fantasy game in the form of Final Fantasy V. I figured it wasn’t fair for me to judge a franchise from a game I played fifteen years ago. It was fun for sure, but it felt a bit more formulaic that the freedom offered in the Final Fantasy spinoff game that fueled a few moments of friendship in fourth and fifth grade. It’s not fair to do this to Final Fantasy V, especially since the freelancer system which allows freedom to perform different professions for fun is far more flexible than other titles in the franchise. I guess I just felt like finding an excuse to fondly look back on a familiar but nearly forgotten game from before when I just found things fun. In fact, fables and fairytales were some of my favorite pastimes other than gaming. I found the game so much fun, I once failed to find my copy of it and used my few funds to pay for another one. Fortunately, it was the final time. Anyway, that was fun. Feel free to let me know of your old favorites if you feel that is fine. Otherwise, farewell and have a fabulous Friday! Fin.

Let’s Talk About Platformers

It’s that time again. I cover a topic that nobody was really asking for because I have a personal interest in it. That’s why I got my own blog in the first place, so that I could write for fun and people could maybe enjoy it. Now the thought that popped into my head this time is that I think there should be a distinction between platformers. I know that sounds confusing, but hear me out for a bit. Platformer itself is a pretty broad term. It can encompass any game that has jumping from one place to another as part of it’s core gameplay. Obviously most games have a jump button, but that doesn’t make every game a platformer. Also, a game can have platforming segments without being a platformer. Game developers usually love doing this kind of thing, but that is really what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about a distinction between different types of platformers. You see, there are two types of platformers in my opinion. There are platformers that focus on movement and there are platformers that focus on combat. As an example let’s look at the Crash Bandicoot series and the Spyro series. In the Crash Bandicoot series, the game it centered around platforming and once you complete all the platforming challenges, then you clear the level. Most of the upgrades that you unlock for him make it easier to platform and add new techniques to attempt more platforming challenges. In the Spyro series, you are platforming in different levels, but the gameplay is more geared towards fighting enemies. I would consider them both platformers, but they are very different styles of game.

I think the main way to differentiate the two types are the way enemies are used in the game. For instance let us take the example of the Goomba. If you aren’t aware of what a Goomba is, that must be a very comfy rock you are living under. The first enemy you face in the Super Mario Bros. series, the Goomba is an iconic enemy and remains one of the least threatening enemies in any videogame. The reason is because they function more as obstacles than as enemies. Usually you don’t even have to bother fighting them, they are just there to be in the way. However, in games like Mega Man, you are meant to clear the enemies in order to proceed with the stage and they will stop as nothing to eliminate you. The point is that you cannot avoid the enemies as obstacles because if you don’t defeat them, you will meet an untimely demise. Here’s another way to think about it. How do you clear a stage in a platformer? Is the requirement to win passing through the obstacle or is it beating up enemies at the end of the stage? Mario usually jumps on a flagpole or axe, Sonic usually runs into a signpost or ring, they just move through the stage and anything along the way is just extra points. Whereas in Mega Man, you aren’t beating the robots and the robot master at the end of the stage by jumping over them. In Castlevania, you aren’t getting by without taking out bosses as you go through the game. I am not really trying to say anything amazing or profound here. I just want to say that there are two different types of platformers. One where you jump and another where you jump and shoot. There is nothing wrong with that.

So, then why did I bring this all up. Well, the reason I wanted to make this distinction is because I feel like I have a preference and I realized this as I have played games over time. Personally, when I play a platformer I like to usually have the game stay structured more around platforming than combat. You know, like when you get upgrades that make platforming more interesting. Does anyone even enjoy doing combat while platforming? I am rarely in a situation where I enjoy fighting on a moving platform. Maybe I am just bad at games, but I am allowed to complain a bit right? Anyway some games I feel like it enjoy doing the platforming more than I enjoy fighting enemies in them. However, there are some platformers that feel as if they need more enemies to impede progress because as things stand there isn’t a lot of challenge otherwise. This is noticeably rarer, but it can still happen. I can’t think of a good example off the top of my head, so I won’t try and overheat the one wrinkle on my brain. Instead I will talk about a game that I would have enjoyed more platforming as less combat. Ori and the Blind Forest is a game that has a beautiful design and story, but the platforming was the most fun part of the game for me. Some sequences in the game were pretty cool, like when you had to escape the water in that tree. Yeah, that is as specific as I will be. If you know, you know. The thing that I felt was the most lackluster part of the game was the combat because the combat felt kind of loose to me. The thing is that your character feels so acrobatic that I wanted to have more diverse platforming, but I feel like the game held itself back a bit too much by focusing on combat. The sequel game isn’t something I played so I can’t be sure, but I am willing to surmise it was about the same. Whether or not it is true doesn’t really matter to me though. What matters it that a game makes clear what the focus is going to be. Sometimes I see platforming in the trailer, but then the game offers up combat sections for no reason. Sometimes a game has a good combat flow going, but then it has an annoying platforming section for no reason. I am not saying you can’t have both, but I just want a warning is all. Okay, the mini rant is over now. That’s all, so see you next time. I will probably sound just as crazy so look forward to that I guess.

The Most Broken Mario Party Map

We all should know that the Mario Party series consists of some of the most innovative ways to destroy friendships ever designed by man, but there are some entries in the series that are more brutal then others. Everyone knows the original gave Nintendo a few good lawsuits for implementing minigames that were designed to give people physical pain. Luckily, Nintendo realized that the emotional pain was a lot harder to get evidence for so they stuck to that instead. Now despite the first few games in the series being a janky mess, they still had some fun maps. In fact most games in the series have a couple of maps that are well known due to their sheer randomness or uniqueness. Some of the more well known examples are Waluigi Island in Mario Party 3 and Snowflake Lake from Mario Party 6. These maps had elements that mix in a special kind of randomness that can make the results completely unpredictable. That is, in my opinion, the essence of a good Mario Party map. However, today I want to highlight a particular map that people might not be aware of and I want to show how despite being deceptively tame, it is probably one of, if not the most, broken Mario Party maps in history. Before I talk about the map though, let’s talk a bit about the game it comes from: Mario Party DS.

Now Mario Party DS was actually my first exposure to the series. I was naïve back then and didn’t understand the world of pain I was about to embark on, but no one ever learns a lesson without trying something new. Now there are a total of five maps in the game, which is pretty low for a Mario Party game, but they are all fun in their own way. The first one is a pretty simple map with no special gimmicks other than just try to get to a star space before your opponents, but the rest have other gimmicks that have been taken from previous titles in the series and rethemed. Well, except for the last one which is basically a typical Mario Party map with a lot more gambling and a lot more pain. It actually has the most brutal trap in any Mario Party game where if you get unlucky you will lose all your coins and all your stars, putting you immediately in fourth place. I can’t think of any other time Bowser has been that brutal, but I guess that’s just Mario Party DS for you. Surprising enough, the broken map is not that one. It is actually a map called DK’s Stone Statue, which is a seemingly simple map. All you are required to do is get to the top of the DK statue to buy a star. That’s it. It is one of the newer kinds of maps in which the Star Space doesn’t move so you just need to travel in a straight line to get to it. Well, not necessarily straight, but it is very linear compared to other maps in the series. Seems fine, until you learn that it isn’t a Star Space up at the top, but a Star Splurge Space. This space is what changes the game entirely.

Now you are probably wondering what makes this particular Star Space so problematic. It’s actually pretty simple. This space allows you to buy multiple stars at a time. Now some of you might be thinking “Is that it?” That is fair response since there are other boards in the series that have allowed for purchasing multiple stars at a time. However, there is something those games included when purchasing stars that this game didn’t and that is a star cap. You could only buy a certain amount of stars at a time in other games, but in this one that doesn’t apply. As long as you have enough coins, you can buy as many stars as you like. That is crazy powerful, especially if you are good at the minigames since you can rack up a bunch of coins heading to the summit. However, there are a couple of things to note. You see, Mario Party DS makes a distinction between items. There are two types: items and hexes. Items are used in a way that they only affect the player whereas hexes are used in a way where they only affect other players. Some hexes steal coins and stars from other players, but the important ones for this map are the Space Swap Hex and the Coin Swap Hex which can greatly the change the outcome of the game do the linear nature of the board and the added value of coins compared to other boards. After all, even if you have a good amount of coins, it doesn’t matter if you can’t spend them. So in the end it is all a matter of how much you can spend at once. You might think that this still isn’t chaotic enough and to that I want to throw in one more curveball.

Now in most Mario Party games, there is something called The Last Five Turns Event in which someone, typically Bowser, shows up and has a player spin a win to spice up the game for the remaining turns. This is typically done by the person who is in last place. This is also true in Mario Party DS, although in this game it is called the Final Five Frenzy. It actually is a lot tamer than it sounds. Most of the options aren’t anything that will affect the board and instead, most will directly affect the player. Sometimes they receive coins, and sometimes they can receive a star. However, there is one option that directly affects the board. Want to take a guess? No? Fine. There is one option that makes it so stars are five coins each. Now, this function is only available on boards where it doesn’t interfere with the gimmick, but DK’s Stone Statue is not excluded from this option popping up. Meaning that in the last five turns, all stars are now 75% off. So not only do the bonus stars and duels essentially become irrelevant, but it becomes a mad dash to get to the top and the standings fluctuate wildly during this period. Just imagine that if you have fifty coins, you can now buy ten stars at once. In fact, sometimes it might be better to play so that you don’t spend coins until the Final Five Frenzy is over so that you can make sure to get the best price. However, it is a dangerous play to make since the Coin Swap Hex is available. My record I believe for one game was I had 78 stars as my final total and no one was even close to touching me. The most dangerous part of the game is holding onto coins, but once they are converted into Stars then there isn’t much that opponents can do to catch up. There is no Chance Time event is this game after all so once you get the lead, you pretty much keep it. Other maps have some checks for this, but only this one actively encourages you to run away with the lead. I believe there is actually an in-game achievement for getting at least 70 stars on the board. However, just because it was programmed to be easily exploitable doesn’t mean it is any less broken. I am not saying that the map isn’t fun. What I will say though is if you have the opportunity to play it, see how much you can break it. Provided you can find a copy. Anyway, that’s all for today. See you next time!

Let’s Talk About the Mario Movie Trailer

I know this is a little different from the topics I usually cover, but there was no way I could pass up an opportunity to talk about this. I remember months back when I first heard about this movie being in development. It was the first time I have ever laughed solely because of the cast line-up being announced. I know for a fact I wasn’t alone in this, especially considering the memes that took over the internet immediately after. However, we haven’t gotten much more information about the movie, until now. I f you haven’t seen the trailer yet, I would recommend watching it to know what I am talking about so I will leave a link down below for the English Trailer. Now, this is the second movie property that Nintendo has had released in recent memory, the first of course being the Detective Pikachu movie that was based off of the 3DS game of the same name. That movie was pretty good and showed that maybe there was potential for more movies like this in the future. However, instead of a mix of CGI and realism, they decided it would be best to completely animate it this time. Figures that they wouldn’t want a remake of the Super Mario Bros. movie. After all, it wasn’t that good. However, we are looking past that to a brighter tomorrow so with all that being said, here are my thoughts on the trailer for The Super Mario Bros. Movie.

First off the animation looks pretty good. It is a bit too early to tell much from this teaser but I can at least say I like the art direction. The models for the characters also seem pretty solid, although I guess this version of Mario hasn’t really packed on the Italian food. The storyline for this is looking to be pretty straightforward which is fine. Honestly a first movie shouldn’t be needlessly complicated especially if it is a kid’s movie. That’s why I am also not surprised with this being an origin story. Although I am curious what Mario’s background is going to be since it looks like they will not start Mario out in the Mushroom Kingdom. I am also curious as to how Luigi gets there, since it seems that Mario and Luigi are separated. I am also interested in how Bowser is collecting the power of the Stars so I am curious to see where this goes. It was nice to see the penguins make an appearance at the beginning. I am curious to see if other inhabitants are referenced as well during the movie. We’ll have to wait and see. One other thing worth noting is Toad’s appearance. We did see him in the poster looking like some sort of guide and the trailer seems to reinforce that notion. The thing is that this gives the idea that this Toad will possibly be a precursor to Captain Toad, but it might be to early to say anything.

Now, there is one big thing that we have to talk about here, and that is the voice acting. After all, the reason everyone reacted to these casting choices was because it just seemed liked the most insane casting bracket for a children’s movie ever. Fortunately, what I have heard in this trailer has somewhat alleviated my concerns. Frist off, Kamek’s voice is pretty solid. He only had one line, but it was pretty good for Kevin Michael Richardson’s first showing as Kamek. Well done. Also, the penguins sounding imposing despite having no way to defeat Bowser was pretty comical honestly. However, in the opening segment, Jack Black as Bowser had me sold. He did a very good job giving off a believable Bowser impression and that is all I was hoping for so that’s fantastic. Now in the second part of the trailer we had two other cast members speak. We had Mario being voiced by Chris Pratt and Toad voiced by Keegan-Michael Key. I’ll be honest, the Toad voice is not what I expected, but in a good way. Definitely a lot less grating on the ears which I am thankful for and sounds like it fits the character. Great. Now Mario, he is a different story. Look, I am not saying I wanted Mario to have a New York or Italian accent. I am not expecting things to be that deep in a kid’s movie. However, I was expecting a bit more of a change in Mario’s voice. Basically my problem is that he sounds too much like Chris Pratt. I’m not saying there is something wrong with his voice, but because I hear Chris Pratt every time he speaks, I find it harder to be sold on him as Mario. Now this only showed a couple of his lines and so maybe it will be easier to connect with later, but right now I have mixed feelings and I don’t think I’m alone in this. Other than that there isn’t much else to talk about other than Charlie Day’s Luigi yelp, but while that is in character, I am curious about how his performance will bein this movie. There are still a bunch of characters we haven’t heard from yet, but hopefully we will see them are more footage is released in the future. That is all for me today. I know this isn’t typical of me, but there was no way I could release covering this considering the impact Mario has had on my life. Anyway, see you next time.

Dungeon Diving

Dungeons can be described very differently depending on the design of the game you decided to devote yourself to doing. The differences can be divided through different factors so to derive what defines different dungeons we need to define the differences. The first we’ll dwell on is depth since dungeon dives can be deceptively deep. Some dungeons are defined by their level of depth and diving deeper gives you the rewards you deserve. The deeper you go, the more difficulties you deal with as dungeon enemies can deal serious damage. Typically the dungeons that you can dive deeper in deal out more difficult demons and dish out traps that are difficult to detect. Some of these dangerous devices can lead to instant death which is delightful to deal with in dungeons where death usually deems your descent worthless or you drop the rewards you desperately dived in for, causing them to disappear and be deemed lost in the depths of the dungeon. Anyway diving into dungeons that are of a decent depth drop decent stuff that are designed to better demonstrate your stats such as damage dealing, defensive strength as well as speed dexterity. Of course this dungeon is designed to drive you into its depths. After all, delving into the depths and not getting your dues despite everything would be disappointing and disheartening and so developers would normally design deeper dungeons with more deluxe drop rates to keep players diving in to discover more in the dungeon. Of course this is a dungeon designed with depth being what denotes the difficulty. Some dungeons don’t decide difficulty solely based on depth.

Some dungeons are designed to disrupt you rather than drag you to your demise. It is difficult to direct yourself in the right direction due to the deliberate design of the dungeon. Dungeons like these are designed to deceive you and direct you through destroying the deception and decorating yourself to do battle against the darkest depths of the dungeon. Each door has either a demonic creature or a devious riddle that you must dedicate yourself to decoding to move down through the next door. Doing this is the most direct way of defeating the dungeon and dungeons defeated in this way tend to disappear and or be deemed dead weight due to being destroyed. These dungeons are devices designed to develop your growth at a decent pace and diversify your skillset by delivering new items that directly diversify your arsenal of dangerous devices need to defeat the demons the game will definitely drown you in. They don’t require delving deep to defeat them, but rather deciding what direction is optimal and decoding the deceptive riddles are the deciding factors in defeating these dungeons. Of course defeating enemies is definitely required for every dungeon, but the difference is that one is delayed by depth while the others delayed by how adept you are at deciphering and discovering the direction the dungeon wants you to decide. Some dungeons aren’t designed in such a detail manner though. Some dungeons just want you to dive as deep as you can.

Some dungeons have details that let you designate different locations, but some are designed to be different during each attempt at diving deeper. The difference that decides the difficulty isn’t how deep it is or how deft you are at decoding riddles. The difference is how dexterous are you at dodging and do you have decent luck. Dealing with different dungeon layouts each time delivers a different level of difficulty since that difference usually decides the run. If you do know what you are doing and can diligently dodge the daring demons trying to devour you then you can depart downwards and develop yourself to defeat the devils at the depths. Typically games designed with these dungeons have different devices to allow you to develop different playstyles as you dive deeper. Discovery is the dominant factor deciding if you taste defeat and die after everything you’ve done or if you dive to the deepest depths and defeat the darkness dwelling into the depths without a do over. The more you discover, the more devices at your disposal which leads to diversifying the directions you can take which leads to a decrease in the death count. Typically dying is disheartening, but if you have drive and are determined to reach the depths than doing your best to dodge drastically reduces deaths so don’t give in no matter what dungeon you decide to dive into and keep diving to discover new directions as you devote yourself to digging up new details in new dungeons. That does it for today. Maybe one day I will divvy up my time and not decide to deliver these documents at the darkest hour. Goodbye.

A Few Tips For Some Pokémon Fans

Pokémon games are fun. I enjoy playing them and probably always will. That being said, I do think that they can be a bit too easy. This is especially noteworthy in the more recent titles. Due to this I have spent some time researching ways to bring more challenges to these games without relying on the many rom-hacks available that do similar things. The main reason for that is because I don’t usually play emulators for these games seeing as I own pretty much all of them already. With all that being said, here are a few I found while spending my time watching multiple people play Pokémon instead of being productive for the past couple of weeks. Let’s chalk it up to a bit of a lazy spell and leave it at that.

  1. Change the game to set mode. I am not sure if everyone was aware of this particular feature already, but if there is someone out there that didn’t know this, then at least I wasn’t last. Set mode is pretty simple to explain. You see, there are two modes built into the game: switch and set. You know whenever you fight a trainer and after you defeat one of their Pokémon the game gives an option to have you switch out your Pokémon to better deal with their upcoming Pokémon? Apparently that is called switch mode and it can be turned off in the settings. You just have to change it to set mode so that prompt doesn’t come up and you don’t get the free switch during battle. It doesn’t revolutionize the game, but it add least spices things up a little bit by giving enemy trainers more initiative in battle.
  2. Give yourself a level cap. In some of the newer games it can be a bit harder to go with this restriction, but even so it might be worth a shot. Just simply designate a certain level cap that you don’t go over when facing certain challengers such as gym leaders, rival battles, and elite four members. I would say that you probably don’t want to be more than a couple of levels higher than the highest leveled Pokémon on the opponent’s team. Other wise you would probably just steamroll through. If you go past the cap by accident, just don’t use that Pokémon for that fight to keep yourself honest.
  3. Limit the Pokémon you use. You can take this in two different directions. The more extreme version of this is limiting the types of the Pokémon that you are allowed to use by banning certain stronger or more versatile types from your team, potentially even making it into a pseudo gym leader challenge run if taken far enough. If that is something that interests you than go for it. What I mean in terms of a more casual playthrough is that you should make it so you don’t rely on certain Pokémon. It is a fact of life that not all Pokémon were created equal. Some of them are just garbage while some are able to sweep teams by themselves without giving any party members room to breathe. I am not saying to use Pokémon that aren’t good, but rather try not to use Pokémon that are too good. Maybe steamrolling is fun the first time, but after that it becomes a bit boring. So just mix it up a little. What could go wrong? Okay a lot could go wrong, but that’s what makes it fun. I think.
  4. Limit usage of TMs. TMs or Technical Machines are a great way to ensure that certain Pokémon are able to have better movesets when they don’t gain anything from leveling up that feels useful for your current build. That is great, but there is always the danger of stocking up on good TMs to teach certain Pokémon repeatedly. There are many ways to do it in early games since you can buy them from stores or potentially get them through gambling. However, newer games make it so TMs are reusable and so this problem can become even more problematic. I am not saying not to use certain TMs, but try to limit how many Pokémon can use them on your team so they don’t end up with similar strategies. A little variety is nice after all.
  5. Limit item usage. Basically I just mean don’t heal stall with potions. It’s just sad. Either take your loss or get good. If you use other held items for strategic purposes then that is fine. It is also fine to heal during battle. However, instead of throwing potions at your Pokémon until your arm gets tired, why not try limiting your potion usage to your opponents so that it doesn’t become a war of attrition. Use the money for something else, like maybe some new clothes or something. I would also like to say limiting usage of status items should also be considered since when used properly X items can break the game.
  6. Attempt a Nuzlocke. You may have heard of this before. Typical rules are that you can’t use a Pokémon after it faints, you have to name them so that when they die you feel the pain of being a terrible trainer after having developed an emotional attachment with them, and limit yourself to catching the first Pokémon in a route that you encounter. It does sound scary, but it isn’t the worse so long as your prepare properly and have a good understanding of the game you are attempting to Nuzlocke. Truth be told, the suggestions before this one are all adapted from optional rules people incorporate into their Nuzlockes already. Does that make them masochists? Maybe. It is impressive nonetheless though what some of the hardcore ones are capable of pulling off (When I say ones I mean Nuzlockers, not masochists). However, clearly it might not be for you. There is a reason I put this last as this can be the hardest challenge for a Pokémon player. If it interests you though, maybe give it a shot. I do recommend doing some research in this field beforehand though. Just some friendly advice.
  7. Use Chikorita as a starter.

Actually, that will be all for today. Hope some of this was interesting. Maybe you already knew about all of this, but it was a fun learning experience for me so I thought I’d share. Oh, and don’t worry. I promise that next week will not be about Pokémon. Anyway take care and thanks for reading.

Continue reading “A Few Tips For Some Pokémon Fans”

Thoughts on Pokémon Final Bosses

I am in one of those moods again. I thought about something relating to the Pokémon series that I thought I would share with you. Now I want to just go and talk about what I consider as the end game bosses in the Pokémon games and what that boss actually means to you. The first generation’s main boss is undoubtedly your rival who at the end is the champion. You are constantly challenging each other to prove once and for all that you are the best trainer and the game is based around you trying to grow stronger. Team Rocket mainly serve as a antagonist to help you grow stronger, but they are a core component of the story. Even in that game, the Master Ball is a cool trophy that you don’t need to use. Of course if you want to make an argument against this idea and say that Mewtwo would be the final boss, I just want to bring up the fact that it isn’t much of a boss encounter if you just Master Ball it anyway. Let’s just call it a bonus hidden boss or something. Anyway the game feels like the lead up is meant to be about becoming the champion. The second generation mainly focuses on you trying to finish what your character from the first game started by finishing the Pokédex for real this time and proving that you can surpass him. Look the champion fight is fine in that generation, but it doesn’t not have the same impact as challenging Red. Again the legendary Pokémon are a sideshow and the main act is fighting to become the best, but you can’t really become the best by beating the champion because that isn’t the true champion. Red is the true champion fight and its a good fight too, so it makes sense that he is the final boss. You follow in his footsteps by putting an end to Team Rocket again, defeat the champion, follow his path to beating his rival and eventually defeating him. This works for me. Now, onto Generation III.

Generation III is a generation I have talked about in the past and talked about how I enjoy the battle systems and all that. I think it is definitely one of the better generations out there. It even has a pretty good champion fight against Steven, one of the more difficult champions to beat in my opinion. The problem is that I feel as though he is somewhat lacking as a final boss, not out of any fault of his own. First off, the fact that you have a father in the game is criminally underutilized. I think it could of made for a more interesting story investing more effort in the fact that you surpass your father as a trainer. That isn’t really a big issue though. The problem is the escalation of conflict. You end up performing incredible feats that end up saving the world from destruction, or at the very least the region and so resuming trainer battles after having defeated a legendary Pokémon seems a bit strange. Considering how high the stakes were raised you would think that the battle with the legendary Pokémon would be more meaningful, but no it can just be ignored. The next generation does something similar except it is even worse since they raised the stakes even higher by having a bunch of deities show up that you fight and then you just act as though you aren’t already the best trainer in the region because you only have seven gym badges. Don’t get me wrong, Cynthia is a good fight, but as far as I am aware she is not a god. Generation V did things better because it integrated the legendary battle more with the story and not just make it a sideshow. You build up your team and N acts as a true rival to you and you have a climatic battle only for Ghetsis to reveal his master plan and try to stop you once and for all. Also becoming champion is more meaningful because that is your way of showing the path you chose in your journey. It is symbolic of your growth as a character to become the best trainer. Well done. Then the sequels came out and decided to throw most of the clever storytelling out the window. Great.

Generation VII had another interesting storyline, well actually it was more like two interesting storylines depending on which game you played. The original games are more about your focus on going through the trials and the Pokémon League feels like a bonus that is tacked on for fun at the end. The real boss battle is the fight with Lusamine and her Pokémon after she has fused with her Ultra-Beast. They do a better job of making the story more relevant by having Lillie be with you from the start to give her more importance and make the final boss battle against her mother more meaningful. Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon take things a step further by having a final boss actually be a Pokémon for once as you have to fight Necrozma and his multiple forms before finally saving the whole region, which is pretty cool. They have that nice little mini episode at the end which has all the villains from previous generations challenging you through the power of the wormholes, but that is more of a sidequest rather than anything. Although if you did consider Giovanni as a hidden boss, I wouldn’t be opposed to it. I just can’t accept him as a final boss since he has barely anything to do with the story until the post-game. Overall, Generation VII did very well at making boss encounters feel like actual final encounters. Now, Generation VIII had an opportunity for that. It sort of worked. The final boss was hyped up from the beginning to be the champion Leon. I totally can roll with that. We’re rivals with his little brother so there is at least some connection there are they give us good anticipation for that fight. So why did they kill that momentum with that last minute villain plotline with that dude randomly being evil and Leon failing to stop Eternatus? The whole thing about Leon that made him cool was that he was undefeated, so it kind of kills the suspense when I manage to handle the beast he couldn’t tame because of my legendary plot armor. Yes, I own Pokémon Shield in case that joke didn’t make it obvious. I’m just saying they kind of dropped the ball on that one. Maybe the Eternatus fight should have been after the battle. Honestly, I think more Pokémon boss battles would be cool in the series. So far that has mainly come up in the spin-off series which is a shame. Maybe Gen IX might deliver on that but who knows. Alright, that about wraps up my thoughts. Hmm… I sort of feel like I forgot something. Oh well. Whatever it was, I’m sure it was nothing important. Bye now.