Retro Game Friday: Shantae

This week for Retro Game Friday I’m covering a really obscure classic. It’s Shantae!

Plot Synopsis: A gang of pirates, the Tinkerbats, led by Risky Boots, attacks Scuttle Town and steals a prototype steam engine from Mimic, the town’s resident treasure hunter. Mimic tells Shantae, the guardian of Scuttle Town, that if Risky retrieves four magical “elemental stones”, she could power up the steam engine and create an unstoppable weapon out of it. Shantae travels across Sequin Land, determined to retrieve the steam engine and the elemental stones and stop Risky.

Plot: Look this isn’t a game that has an amazing plot, but it was fun to play.

Gameplay: Shantae was reminiscent of Banjo-Kazooie for me. Though not quite as good as Banjo-Kazooie, it allowed Shantae to transform into various forms like an Elephant or Monkey. This was a platformer through and through and while it wasn’t especially amazing, it was enough to gain a following, albeit a bit of a cult following. The game was obscured by the launch of the GameBoy Advance and since this was on the GameBoy Color it didn’t receive quite enough attention.

Art: The art is fully 2D, which is good because it’s aged pretty well since 2002.

Music: Don’t remember a whit, if I ever even listened to it. Remember that I played my portable games while traveled when I was younger so having the music on wasn’t really looked on kindly.

Overall: This was a fun game, if somewhat lacking in plot.

For those who like: Platformers, Transformations, Middle Eastern Mythologies, Great Gameplay, Good Artwork.

Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above.

Bookish Wednesday: Steel Wolves of Craedia by G. Akella

This week for Bookish Wednesday I’m covering the third entry in the Realm of Arkon series. It’s Steel Wolves of Craedia by G. Akella!

Plot Synopsis: The flames of war spread through the Cursed Princedom to devastating effect. Bound by powerful centuries-old magic, the Great Essences yearn to regain their freedom. In the face of an impossible mission, Krian has no choice but to keep going, while risking everything that’s become dear to him. The only solution is to become stronger and forget the meaning of the word “impossible.” And so a plangent wolf’s howl soars over the battlefield as a plate-clad cavalry rushes the enemy ranks…

Plot: The plot of this third entry is really intense, although there are some light moments. Like with Bonbon, who is a never-ending source of hilarity. This book focuses more on Krian and his growing band of companions that have to deal with the entire province of Craedia and the monsters that live within. That being said there is a portion of the book that focuses on Max and his friends as they level up in the realm of Karn.

Characters: We get introduced to quite a few new characters, all of them quite good. That being said Bonbon is still just too awesome, although Krian still is great as well, Bonbon might just become my favorite side character in the entire series.

Overall: If you enjoyed the first two, you’ll love this third entry.

Manga Monday: Sakigake Otokojuku by Miyashita Akira

This week for Manga Monday I’ve got a Quick Review of a rather ridiculous Manga. It’s Sakigake Otokojuku by Miyashita Akira!

Plot Synopsis: The genius principal of the private school, Edajima Heihachi, was a war hero during World War II. He trained his students to play an active role in politics, economics and industries in Japan and all over the world, though the way of training is highly anachronistic. Staged in a private boys’ school that teaches ōendan to troubled teenagers. The students are trained to “revive the Spirit of Japan” and mainly engage in fighting courses.

Plot: The plot of this first chapter is pretty freaking ridiculous and while I’ve been told that the series has a Genre Shift later, the first chapter is almost nothing but gags. I don’t have a problem with Gag Manga in general, but they can get grating after a while so knowing that it doesn’t just stick to gags is good. I’ll probably read the entire series eventually, as it’s been completely translated a while ago.

Characters: Tsurigi Momotaro is our protagonist and he fits right in with the rest of the Manga. He has a quote in this first chapter that I wholly agree with. “There’s no place for logic in Otokojuku.” It is pretty much the entire theme of this first chapter.  Edajima on the other hand is completely over the top in his reactions to criticism. I enjoyed both of them immensely.

Art: The art is pretty standard for the era it was written in, which was 1985 when it first ran. That being said it was pretty awesome with tons of detail and shading, and since it’s a Shueisha publication I expect the art will stay pretty uniformly awesome during the entire series.

Overall: If you enjoy Gags and Martial Arts, you’ll enjoy Otokojuku.

For those who like: Action, Comedy, Drama, Gag Manga, Hilarious Plot and Characters, Excellent Artwork.

Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above.

Sensate Saturday: Zero The Man of the Creation by Ai Eishi

This week for Sensate Saturday I’ve got another Quick Review. It’s  Zero The Man of the Creation by Ai Eishi!

Plot Synopsis:  There is a mysterious and resourceful man who goes by the name “Zero.” An expert on artworks, antiques and ancient artifacts, Zero is adept at rooting out their histories and uncovering any unusual qualities they possess. Because of this, he frequently gets called on to dispel “curses” and to both uncover and create forgeries.  Zero is a man who will stop at nothing to see a job done, but he will also charge whatever fee he deems appropriate: it might be a billion dollars, or it might just be one.

Plot: The plot of this first chapter was excellent and also really informative, as someone who has studied Art History, although not the subject covered in this first chapter, I was highly intrigued and captivated by this plot. I won’t say it’s the best thing I’ve ever read, but it definitely scratched the Art History itch for me and that’s more than enough to make me pleased. Sadly while the series is complete in Japan it’s only started to be translated, so I’ll probably need to wait a few years (probably more) before reading the rest of the series.

Characters: Zero is a really interesting main character, and while it seems that the rest of the characters introduced in this first chapter are going to be just one time characters, you never know.

Art: The art is excellent, although it’s definitely not like more modern series, but that’s not surprising since the first chapter was released back in 1991! It is a Shueisha publication so I expect the artwork will stay consistent.

Overall: This was a really interesting read, and any Art History buffs will enjoy the series greatly.

For those who like: Mystery, Art History, Excellent Plot, Fantastic Protagonist, Great Artwork.

Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above.

Video Game Tuesday: What other MMOs can learn from FFXIV

This week for Video Game Tuesday is I’m covering a topic that sets apart my favorite MMO from all others. It’s all about What other MMOs can learn from FFXIV!

What is the biggest difference?: Well it’s really simple, Final Fantasy XIV (FFXIV) makes you feel like the hero of the story, and not just some passenger to an NPC’s story. No in Final Fantasy almost every NPC knows about you. You’ve killed gods, brought end to wars and taken down dragons. The NPCs you work with always acknowledge that you are the key figure in these fights, that without you none of it could have been possible.

Really?: World of Warcraft has had issues for years where no matter how powerful your character became, you were always not the main participant of the story. You as the player were never the hero in the story. Sure you might have taken down Nefarian, stopped C’Thun in Ahn’Qhiraj, killed Illidan and beaten Kiljaedan through the Sunwell. You might have brought down the Lich King and killed a dragon gone mad with power that tore apart the world, but you never really were the main character.

This problem is highlighted most with the Lich King encounter at the end of Wrath of the Lich King. You bring down Arthas all the way to 10% and boom you and your entire raid die. But Tirion Fordring, breaks from the ice that kept him out of the entire fight, breaks Frostmourne and deals the fatal blow to Arthas.  You the player on the other hand are shoved to the side until you get resurrected and hurry him along to death. There’s no thanks other than maybe a statue of the races of your faction in Dalaran if you killed him first on your server and some shiny weapons. That’s it, you get no real recognition. You may get a few NPCs thanking you, but in general you aren’t proclaimed the hero and lauded throughout the world. You were just there, helping Tirion while he slept in a block of ice until he decided to get out of it and finish the fight you were dealing with.

Final Fantasy XIV doesn’t have that problem and lots of MMOs, including not MMOs like Destiny, could do with learning from how Final Fantasy treats the player. You are treated as a hero, and even other players aren’t treated like you are by NPCs. It makes you feel special and gives further immersion into the world of Hydaelyn.

That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday. What are your thought son the subject? Do you feel like the main character in MMOs, or just a minor actor compared to some NPC hero. Leave your comments below.

Anime Sunday: Most Anticipated Summer 2017 Anime

This week for Anime Sunday I’m looking this summers selection of Anime. It’s my Most Anticipated Summer 2017 Anime!

Fate/Apocrypha: This is yet another Fate series, so I’m intrigued by it. I’ve not read the original Light Novels, but I’ll probably get around to it sometime. It takes place in an alternate timeline from the Stay Night series, so don’t expect to see Rin and Shirou.

Isekai Shokudou: This is a series I know almost nothing about, but I’ve always had a soft spot for the Isekai genre in particular. The few things I know about this is that it’s about a restaurant that serves food from other worlds for some unknown reason. Should be interesting to watch.

Knights and Magic: I covered the first original light novel a long time ago in my Thursday column, way back when it was still called Light Novel Thursday. It’s another Isekai/Tensei series, but I really enjoyed the main character for using his knowledge about his hobbies in his past life to achieve his dreams in this new life.

Touken Ranbu: This series is based off a game aimed at women, but since it’s animated by my favorite studio, ufotable, I’ll give this a watch regardless that I’m not the main target audience. The game is about swords turned into young attractive men, so we’ll see. It can’t be more weird than a series about talking to guy lying on your bed with. Plus it’s got ufotable animating it, so I’m expecting tons of action animated into excellent sequences.

Isekai wa Smartphone to Tomo ni: This is yet another Isekai/Tensei series, but it’s about a guy who died by accident. So “God” apologizes and decides to reincarnate him into a world of magic and steel with his smartphone. Yea you read that right, his smartphone is his “Cheat” skill. I’ve read the Web Novel a bit, and it was quite good. That being said it is a definite Harem series, but don’t expect a lot of wishy-washy behavior from the lead character like you’d see in something like Infinite Stratos.

Ballroom e Youkouso: I covered the original source material in a Manga Monday a long time ago, but I always though this might become an awesome Anime. So hopefully it lives up to my expectations.

Honorable Mention:

Koi to Uso: It has an interesting premise in that in a near future Japan, due to the decline in children being born every person at the age of sixteen is given a marriage partner by the government. It sounds almost dystopian, but this isn’t from what I’ve heard and read. Which would be a pity because I hate the Dystopia genre in general, and I’d have to avoid this series like the plague.

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

Retro Game Friday: Rogue Squadron II

This week for Retro Game Friday I’m covering the sequel to Rogue Squadron. It’s Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader!

Plot: The plot is pretty decent, it follows the exploits of Rogue Squadron during the time of the original trilogy. So we have Luke and Wedge as our player characters.

Gameplay: This is one of my favorite games because of how simple it was to fly the various ships in this game. Lots of games try to make it hard to fly in them, and frankly I find that to be frustrating and shortsighted if it’s purely a single player game. My favorite ship to fly was the A-Wing, I always preferred speed over anything else, but it was quite fun to play all the various ships, including the Buick.

Music: Classic Star Wars, which is great.

Art: The only thing about this game that hasn’t withstood the test of time is the artwork, I’m sure there are mods out there to update the game to make it more palatable in today’s market, but back in the day this was really quite amazing. I remember seeing the E3 Reveal of this game and thinking that I could barely tell if it was a scene from the movie or game footage at first.

Overall: If you love Star Wars, or Combat Flight Sims, you need to play Rogue Squadron II!