Anime Sunday: Fate Babylonia Episode 00 Impressions

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This week for Anime Sunday I’m back with one of the biggest series from Fall 2019. It’s my Fate Babylonia Episode 00 Impressions!

Plot: This is a very interesting Episode 00, it gives us a look at Mash’s life growing up which is something that isn’t really explored all that much, but is implied, in the original game. Frankly I thought this was an excellent episode, and definitely deserves watching before watching the rest of this series starting with Episode 01. As a final point I want to bring up I’d like to confirm that they are going to animate the final singularity of the Fate/Grand Order which takes place almost immediately after the events of Bablyonia so my hopes for such a thing occurring were correct!

Characters: Like I said above we get to learn more about Mash in this episode, but we also get to learn more about Roman and we get our first ever look at Marisbury Animusphere which is something we never got a chance to do in the original game. So all in all we get new looks at some of the major players in the Fate Grand Order series and it’s awesome.

Art: The studio who does the animation for Bablyonia is Cloverworks and they did an amazing job with this episode. I can only hope this quality continues for the rest of the series. They aren’t up to ufotable quality, but damn if they didn’t come really close and might be edging out SHAFT for my silver standard. I’ll be keeping an eye out for their works in the future to see if they will do that.

Music: The musical score is awesome, and takes many tracks from the game and uses them to devastating effect. I particularly loved how they used Shikisai for the final portion of the episode, it was an amazingly well done maneuver on their part.

Overall: A must watch series, Bablyonia is a masterpiece that deserves watching by everyone.

For those who like: Fate, Mythology, Action, Adventure, Drama, Amazing Plot, Fantastic Cast of Characters, Stupendous Artwork, Excellent Musical Score.

Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above, but seriously give this series a watch. It’s awesome.

Anime Sunday: Most Anticipated Fall 2019 Anime

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This week for Anime Sunday I’m back with a look at the next season. It’s my Most Anticipated Fall 2019 Anime!

Assassin’s Pride: This is an adaptation of a Light Novel series that I have heard about in the community, but have not yet read myself. I’ll give it a whirl, but this could very well be a bust in terms of content. We’ll see, it might also be too much of a try-hard at a dark fantasy story, in which case I’ll not be interested at all if that happens.

Cautious Hero: This looks to be much more of a comedy series than anything else given it’s title, but given it’s billed as a an Adventure and Action series with no Comedy tag in sight I’m hoping it’ll be more like TenSura than KonoSuba. One is light hearted with it’s serious moments, while the other is just a satire of the Isekai genre.

Fate/Grand Order Babylonia: This is an adaptation of the seventh and penultimate Singularity of the first act of the mobile game. I loved playing through this Singularity myself and it’s incredible story line is going to be an absolute joy to watch. I’ve heard it’ll be a 2-cour series, so I’m looking forward to watching the entirety of this series. I just hope 2-cour will be enough to do the story justice, but I’m hoping it will. The only downside is that it won’t be animated by ufotable, but even still I’m looking forward to watching this.

High School Prodigies: This is another adaptation of a really long named Light Novel series, so we’ll see if it’s any good. Like with the first two it might be a bust, but I’m going to give it a shot. It might be an Isekai series, but considering that Arifureta is one of my most loved stories of all time and it is an Isekai I figure I’ll give it a shot.

Honorable Mentions:

Sword Art Online Alicization 2nd Cour: I’m not a particular fan of the novel series anymore, it was okay until I read much better series, but some people love the series still. Me I don’t particularly enjoy it all that much anymore.

That’s it for this week’s Anime Sunday!

Video Game Tuesday: The Importance of Timing

This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m going to talk about why doing certain things pisses off players and how to avoid them. It’s all about The Importance of Timing!

Timing? Yes, Timing. It’s pivotal in making the most money and keeping your player base happy. It’s also why people hate Bungie so much in regards to Destiny and it’s sequels content, or rather lack thereof.

Keeping to a schedule: If you commit to a schedule, and especially if you do so publically and on record, you have to keep to it to the best of your ability. Bungie for example promised frequent content updates for Destiny and it’s various sequels, but it’s frequently and often quite lacking. In particular is the dearth of meaningful content being released regularly, which is always a death sentence for an MMO. It’s why Wrath of the Lich King was the last great World of Warcraft expansion before the disaster that was Cataclysm. The content drought was incredibly long in between Wrath of the Lich King’s final patches and Cataclysm, and that was unacceptable in terms of business. The fact that Cataclysm was highly despised as well did not help matters and led to a significant decrease in subscription numbers for the game. And by regular releases, I mean in periods of no longer than two to three months, which is the acceptable amount of time most games have content updates. Final Fantasy XIV has a major patch about every 3 months, and in between those patches are smaller content patches that add additional content. Compared to a game like Destiny 2 whose first content update post launch happened 3 months and was universally despised and you can see why timing is everything in business.

So what about other games? Well other games, in particular games like Fate/Grand Order’s NA client which is two years behind the original JP client, the community has a general sense of what the hell is going on and what is coming out when. That all went to shit when Aniplex decided to move the Paid Gacha pull, where you paid ~$30 to get a guaranteed SSR servant, two months earlier and left out on two highly sought after servants in that banner, Mordred and Jack the Ripper. It’s a move that would have been acceptable if that was an NA exclusive event, but it was a replacement for the typical New Year’s Paid Gacha that occurs yearly for the JP client. So it pissed off a ton of people, including myself. Not only would it have made a ton of business sense to have both those Paid Gacha occur, in addition to the delayed Anniversary Gacha that just happened a couple weeks ago, but it alienated and upset many people.

In addition Fate/Grand Order’s localization team seems to think that announcing content updates at Anime Conventions is a smart move. That’d be acceptable if they lined up to the expected schedule that the community projected, but they didn’t. They let the NA Client fall 4 weeks behind schedule just to announce an event at an Anime convention that at most .01% of the player base went to. It was just another insult in a long line. Such things could’ve been avoided if they remembered how important Timing is.

So that’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday. I’ll close out with a quote from Wit from the Stormlight Archives that puts it best. “What is it we value? Innovation. Originality. Novelty. But most importantly…timeliness. I fear you may be too late, my confused, unfortunate, friend.” 

Video Game Tuesday: What’s Going On With F/GO?

This week for Video Game Tuesday I’ve got an open question to the people at both Aniplex of America and Delightworks. I’m asking What’s Going On With F/GO?

Huh?: So for my readers here’s a brief explanation. In the past few months, the Fate/Grand Order community in North America has been growing more and more upset with the handling of the game by Aniplex of America. In particular Albert Kao, the Localization director for the NA Client has been getting a ton of flak, not least of which occurred very recently when he handled the Anime Expo panel incredibly poorly and unprofessionally.

If you want some proof just go to the Grand Order subreddit and look at all the posts complaining about Albert and his absolutely unacceptable behavior at that panel. In addition many fans are upset at being treated like crap compared to other servers, like China, not to mention the blatant favoritism shown towards the JP players. The latest insult in a series going back to Thanksgiving is the fact that the playerbase was screwed out of 20 Saint Quartz, the in game currency that you can pay real money for, for the recent Anniversary. The issue with this is that the anniversary was pushed back from the actual anniversary date of June 28th to be announced at the Anime Expo panel. Another inflammatory move that makes no sense to many players of the game, including myself. There are possible reasons, but those reasons all come down to a series of events that could have been easily avoided if they didn’t do a certain thing. And that was announcing things at Anime conventions. But that’s a topic for next week.

So here’s my question to Aniplex of America, what the hell are you doing? Many people understand how poorly Japanese companies can treat foreign markets, the whole Gaijin bigotry plays a huge role in this. But this has gone on many times and frankly it’s insulting to not only the playerbase, who you ought to be keeping very happy, but also the people who you invited to your panels who were subject to a man who looked like he had just shown up after panhandling for a day in the seedier neighborhoods of Los Angeles heading the panel. Do I expect an answer to my question? Nope, because at the end of the day I’m just a small time gaming journalist who can be very acerbic at times.

That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday.

Video Game Tuesday: Alignment

This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m here with a quick explanation on a subject I’ve been asked about recently. It’s Alignment!

Alignment?: This tends to be specifically for Characters, but it can be for organizations or religions or even companies in a game. There have been 9 archetypes that these fall under, and it’s determined by how they act and perceive the world as a whole. The above picture has two axes that you can place just about anyone or anything and determine their Alignment.

Starting from Top Left they are Lawful Good, Neutral Good, Chaotic Good, Lawful Neutral, True Neutral, Chaotic Neutral, Lawful Evil, Neutral Evil, Chaotic Evil.

Give me an Example!: Superman would be a Lawful Good character, where as Batman would be Chaotic Good. Both are people who believe in doing things to better the world, but the ways they go about it are completely different. Superman follows the law, as far it can go for him at least, while Batman doesn’t really care as long as he can solve the problem while sticking to his beliefs.

This system of character alignment has been around forever, but was really codified in Dungeons and Dragons. This system has lasted ever since and is used in all sorts of games today. One recent example that you might be playing is Fate/Grand Order on a mobile device. That game actually has an alignment for every character and sometimes during the weekly “Master Missions” you’ll be tasked with defeating certain aligned characters.

That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday. What sort of alignment would you say your favorite game character is? Leave your answer with the character name in the comments below!

Video Game Tuesday: My Games of the Year 2017 Edition

This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m covering my picks for my favorites of this year. It’s My Games of the Year 2017 Edition!

Best Gameplay: Tales of Berseria is by far my favorite JRPG of all time, it’s got an amazing combat system and an equally amazing story with a really kickass female lead who has tons of character depth. Berseria allowed even people with minor physical disabilities like myself to enjoy the hell out of the combat system while still feeling like you were growing in skill along with the characters growth in the game. By the time I was done playing this game I was at the hardest difficulty setting in the Post Game Dungeon beating the hell out of enemies with Mystic Artes Chains while doing tons of damage. Not many games allow for people to really grow into the combat system and still feel like it’s got depth enough to be interesting endlessly. Berseria captured that quality easily, and that’s why it’s getting my Best Gameplay award.

Best Story: This was a close one for me between Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood and Tales of Berseria. However as Berseria is it’s own complete game and FFXIV is somewhat episodic given it’s nature, I had to give the award to Berseria.  It was really close though.

Best Artwork: I might hate everything else about the game, but Destiny 2 was pretty freaking beautiful to look at. However that’s about the only good thing it had going for it. However tying this was Stormblood, it’s got a less realistic art style, but it’s no less beautiful and it had a hell of a lot more locations to explore.

Best Musical Score: Final Fantasy XIV has always impressed me with it’s amazing musical score done by the incredibly talented Masayoshi Soken. The only gripe I have is that the Stormblood OST hasn’t been released yet! I want to listen to the sounds of the Azim Steppes while I’m writing or enjoying the thrilling pace of Stormblood’s exquisite Primal fight themes while on a walk to the store. Needless to say that Stormblood impressed the hell out of me, and while the currently released music of Stormblood hasn’t exceeded the awesomeness that is the Sophia boss theme it’s equaled it many, many times.

Best Mobile Game: Fate/Grand Order wins this one. Sure it’s got some serious grinding going on, Christmas Stocking farming sucked, but the story and lack of any competitive mode made it the top Mobile Game for me. I don’t like PvP modes all that much, so the fact that F/GO doesn’t have one isn’t a bad thing.

Overall: This was a really close one for me, but Berseria beat out Stormblood based purely off the same fact that it’s not an MMO that has content patches. That enclosed experience was amazing, and while Stormblood is without doubt the most fun I’ve had playing a MMO including the days of Tarren Mill versus Southshore on a PvP server, it isn’t a fully enclosed experience. So Berseria wins this one again.

Runner up: Stormblood for reasons stated above.

A Distant Third: Fate/Grand Order, it’s at least upfront about what you’re getting into, unlike a certain space shooter…. even if you have shit luck at anything RNG like me.

Video Game Tuesday: Gacha Games Aren’t Evil

This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m back with a follow-up to last week’s post. It’s all about why Gacha Games Aren’t Evil!

Gacha?: In these games, there are usually numerous characters, cards, or other items that players can obtain, and most of them are only obtainable via the “gacha” mechanism. The “gacha” mechanism would allow players to “spin” the gacha using a specific amount of in-game currency, which would give player a randomized character or item. Sometimes, these gacha would be limited, such that those characters and items can only be obtained within a specific event time frame. Because some of these items or characters would be given less chance to appear, typically players would need to spin the gacha many times before they can get the most desired outcome.

Isn’t that just the same thing as Loot Boxes in last week’s post?: Well let me make a distinction, what I think of as a proper “Gacha Game” doesn’t actually include all the games that utilize the Gacha mechanic. Many are pretty popular in Japan and the more successful ones are ones that don’t include a PvP component. This removes the need to get the highest tier characters to do well against players who will spend loads of money on the game. They are often called Whales because they are essentially just like the Vegas equivalent.  Games like Battlefront II included loot boxes that had actual gameplay advantages like getting Heroes which offer a significant power boost over the regular player. That goes into the Pay to Win category, and should never be put into any game. The fact that EA thought they could get away with doing something so monumentally sleazy is just further proof that they are run by greedy jerks.

What’s a good example?: Fate/Grand Order is a perfect example of a proper Gacha Game.  The game is highly popular in Japan and while you are highly encouraged to re-roll an account to get a desired rare servant like Artoria from the Stay Night sub-franchise, this isn’t absolutely necessary to succeed in the game. Although it will help you out greatly if you aim for a top tier servant like Jeanne D’Arc or Waver Velvet who were Servants available at launch. I enjoy playing Fate/Grand Order quite a bit, mostly because the story is excellent. I ended up re-rolling about a hundred times to get a Jeanne for myself. That single character has probably saved my butt more times than I can count. I consider the time I spent re-doing the intro over and over again well worth it since I got a top tier Servant that will last me the entire game’s life no matter what comes along in the future.

And before people ask whether I’m a “Whale” let me answer you. No, I don’t have anywhere near the amount of spending money needed to do that sort of thing. If I had the money to do so would I? Maybe, the story of Fate/Grand Order is quite good, and I’d love to make a top tier team with my Jeanne as a highlight. The game earns tons of money because people want their favorite characters and people end up sketching or creating various things to “summon” their desired servants as a weird form of superstition. Sometimes it works for them, other’s not so much.

That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday, next week I’ll go back to my favorite topic for this column, bashing Destiny!

P.S.: For those wondering how my luck is in Fate/Grand Order, It’s definitely E Rank or lower. RNGs and I have always had a poor relationship. That might end up being a topic for a later column.