By: Andrew Lister
The other day I was wandering through Twitch and stumbled across something that took my attention away from grading and school work for far too many hours. Shout Factory, a company with the rights to shows like Digimon and MST2K, was presenting a marathon of one of my favorite television shows of all time: Reboot.
For those of you unfamiliar with the show, allow me to provide a bit of background. Reboot is the first ever CGI cartoon created by Canadian company Mainframe Entertainment. The show aired from 1994 to 2001, and most American audiences probably watched the first two seasons as part of their Saturday morning television lineup. The later two seasons, which are really movies broken up episodically, debuted on Cartoon Network's Toonami block of shows.
Fittingly for an all CGI television show, the story took place in Mainframe, which was essentially the inside of a computer. The populace made up mostly of simple-minded binomes and sprites find themselves under attack from user-created game cubes (not to be mistaken for Nintendo's boxy console) and viruses bent on nullifying the entire system. Thankfully, the citizens of Mainframe are protected by Bob, a guardian with the goal of saving sectors from the games and thwarting the evil plans of the viruses Megabyte and Hexadecimal.
Aside from the cutting edge animation, the story drew in its audience with a mix of adventurous plots and pop culture humor. Seriously, as I was rewatching episodes from the first two seasons, I had forgotten about all of the crazy references. At one point, they even end up in a video game based around Austin Powers.
Even though I was thoroughly enjoying my nostalgia trip back through my childhood, I began to wonder why they chose to run this marathon out of nowhere. A little digging brought me to their ulterior motive--to help promote the brand new rebooted (sorry, I had to) series, Reboot: The Guardian Code.
Don't know about The Guardian Code? Trust me, I plan to tell you all about it.
Before I get into my impressions of the first episode, "Activation," I have to note the generally negative reaction that arose after the initial announcement and subsequent preview trailer. A modern Reboot sounds pretty exciting on the surface. Given how advanced CGI has become since 1994, seeing Bob and Megabyte fight it out with updated graphics sounds like a dream come true.
Unfortunately, what we got in the trailer is an odd mix of CGI with live action. It felt more like Power Rangers and less like Reboot. Add to that the lack of any real aesthetic from the original show, and you had a lot of angry, worried fans.
The wait is over, however! Now we can watch and find out just what Reboot: The Guardian Code is all about. The show just released today on Netflix, so let's get to some impressions!
A show is only as good as it's characters, and unfortunately we have a pretty standard group of main characters. The show doesn't take a lot of time in establishing who each of these teenagers are, but instead it leans on character types common in these sorts of superhero shows.
Our main character is Austin, who we first see watching a snowboarding video while attempting to emulate the moves on an actual snowboard perched on his bed. Did I mention that he's also checking text messages and balancing a tiny white mouse on the back of his other hand? He's apparently a representation of the modern teen multitasker.
The girl of the team is Tamra, a newcomer looking to become internet famous with her Tamra Seyz video series. She's immediately accosted by another student, who gushes over meeting her hero in person. Tamra isn't amused, though, because she's obviously a tough, goes against the grain sort of girl.
Keeping with the diversity, we're next introduced to Trey. The only defining characteristics we're given about Trey are that he's African American, loves basketball, and apparently is prone to stomach issues. Yeah, that's about it.
And finally there's the needed geek of the group, Parker. He's smart and obviously a nerd because he plays cell phone video games. He also takes it upon himself to call out his best friend Austin for not being as smart as he is.
What about an antagonist? Well, you're in luck! Instead of Megabyte, we get a real world hacker, who we don't get a name for in this first episode. Well, if you watch the episode with subtitles on, Netflix actually tells us that this guy's name is...wait for it...Sourcerer. Like, a writer of source code...get it? I can't make this stuff up. The Sourcerer is a dark voiced, scruffy old man obscured by a hoodie. Apparently he's out to break into systems and infect the world.
We'll go more into his evil plans in just a bit. Before that, we have to mention the final character, Vera. Vera is actually some sort of AI and stands for Virtual Evolutionary Recombinant Avatar. I'm not sure what all of those things really mean, but they really missed an opportunity to use an actual Reboot character here. Would Phong have been too offensive to use here?
The first episode opens with The Sourcerer talking about humanity's reliance on technology, and during his evil diatribe, we catch glimpses of our teenage main characters looking worriedly at their cell phones. The show focuses on "relatable" teenagers at Alan Turing High, a school known for its technological progression. At its core, the show is attempting to connect the original series' computer lingo into today's tech-saturated world, which is a nice touch. The extent to which they actually succeed, however, is up for debate.
While the first episodes establishes the relationships of the teenage characters, it also gives us a look at how The Sourcerer infiltrates cyber systems, such as the UK Electrical Power Grid Hub. Like its predecessor, we see scenes inside the computer systems in full CGI. Here computerized beings are attacked by "hungry cyber locusts" that emerge through the hacker's tear, a nice callback to the tears that plagued Mainframe from time to time.
The show doesn't take long to thrust our teen protagonists right into action, calling them forth (quite literally on their cell phones) as new Guardians. Why they are chosen? Apparently because they're all really good at some video game Cyber Guardians, which they just so happen to all be on the same team and not know it! What a twist!
Each of our characters are given full-on CGI powersuits, and they refer to one another by their usernames from the video game. Austin is now their leader, Vector, decked out in a red suit with arm blasters. Tamra takes on the role of Enigma, who dons a yellow and black sleek outfit with weird ski-like foot blades and kitanas. Trey becomes D-Frag, which offers him a much larger blue suit of powerful armor that powers up his massive punches. Finally, Parker is known as...Googz? I tried to look this up, and all I could find was a Kenyan musician and the name for a Mexican garden gnome. Unless it's a reference to Google. That's probably more what it is. Anyway, he's wearing a green and black suit and can create firewalls.
The team has access to a ship, known as the Codec, that allows them to travel between systems, and they are expected to save these areas of cyberspace, such as the power grid currently under attack by the cyber locusts. Can the heroes stop this creepy old man's plot to plunge the world into a darkened stone age? I guess you'll have to watch and see for yourselves.
Graphics & Visuals
Overall, the show does look pretty good. It's no Pixar flick, but the general look and feel of the show does somewhat call back to the original. The first panning shot of the UK Power Grid almost feels like an updated version of Mainframe, especially with its spires and glowing electrical orb.
The blending of real world and CGI isn't as jarring as I thought it might be. During the CGI battle scenes, we see glimpses of the characters behind the helmets of their Guardian suits, and this adds a little bit of realism and immersion, reminding the audience that these are real people that are existing in a digital space.
The combat definitely feels more Power Rangers than Reboot. Instead of Bob utilizing Glitch, a Guardian keytool with a number of useful functions, each character utilizes a number of special attacks that make them feel like video game characters. That said, the combat itself wasn't necessarily bad, but it did feel a little bit generic throughout the first episode. Perhaps as the story continues, the special powers and combat will feel a little more exciting.
Overall, I went in not expecting much from this updated version of a classic cartoon. After watching the first episode, I've found that I have some fundamental issues with the show. That said, it wasn't as terrible of an experience as I was expecting, especially given the backlash from the general public going in.
The show doesn't take a whole lot of time to really develop the premise or the characters, which is mostly to its detriment. I would have liked to have seen a little more about each of these characters before both they and the viewers are thrown into a secret underground facility at around seven minutes into the episode. I would have hoped that we could have moved beyond the stereotypes of the 90s and focused on true character development. Perhaps we see more of that going forward, but from the start it isn't the show's priority.
On top of the bland characterizations, the acting isn't exactly top notch either. You get a lot of concerned one-liners, a lack of deep background information, and a somewhat hokey feel.
As a spiritual and direct successor to Reboot, it does get a few things right. As mentioned earlier, the CGI does fit nicely, and there are some subtle visual and story touches that make us feel right at home in the Reboot universe. The show doesn't take itself too seriously, especially in the last four minutes of the first episode, which certainly fits the feel of the original.
Looking forward, I hope that the rest of the series takes time to delve more into who each of these characters are as well as provide more Easter eggs for its viewers. Will we see Megabyte appear? Would his upgraded form be Terabyte? Will they find Bob or some of the other characters from the original?
No one knows for sure, but I intend to find out!
What are your thoughts on the show? Leave them in the comments below or start a conversation over on our Discord!
By: Andrew Lister
Nintendo has done it again. Just when you think they couldn't come up with yet another outside-the-box concept (pun totally intended), they release a very strange, yet really impressive idea upon the world.
That idea is Labo. Stupid name aside, Labo turns toward engineering and the world of edutainment to create a brand new experience that pairs elaborate cardboard creations with the Nintendo Switch.
Yeah, you read that correctly. Nintendo is producing a series of cardboard diagrams that you put together to play video games in completely different and creative ways.
How creative, you ask? Well, during the trailer we saw the creation of a working cardboard piano, fishing rod, motorbike handlebars, camera, and remote-controlled robots. And that's not even mentioning the super cool VR-esque robot get-up that allows a child to literally play a game as a Transformer.
At first, you might ask yourself, "Is Nintendo really trying to sell us cardboard?" Yes, they certainly are. However, Labo is far more than just cardboard. It's an opportunity for kids to use their imaginations and do something different and more active both with their bodies and their minds. Video games are often looked down upon for their sedentary nature; they are blamed as negative influences. This flips the script completely and will fuel young minds toward engineering and figuring out how things work and are made.
And let's make an aspect of that perfectly clear: Nintendo said ahead of the announcement that this was something "crafted for kids and those who are kids at heart." This wasn't something meant for adults or hardcore gamers, and that's completely fine! Also, I totally see what you did there, Nintendo. "Crafted" for kids, eh?
So how exactly does all this work? Well, Nintendo's Joy-Con controllers not only have built in HD rumble, but the bottom of the right Joy-Con includes an IR sensor. Put simply, it is advanced technology that can determine distance and detect the shapes of objects. It's a feature that has been underutilized up until this point, but now it can be used in a number of really unique ways.
For example, the Labo piano works by inserting the Joy-Con with the sensor facing inside the box. When you press a key, the reflective tape on the keys are picked up by the controller and then transferred directly to the system, which plays the note. You can even add in filters that change the sounds made on your Switch, providing different ways to play music.
Nintendo Labo launches on April 20th, and you can pick up two different Toy-Con packs (a genius name, by the way). The first pack is a collection of five different creations: RC cars, fishing rod, house, motorbike, and piano; the second one is the complete and complex robot kit. The set of five will sell for $69.99, and the robot kit will be $79.99. Not only do you get the cardboard kits, but you get a physical copy of the gaming software.
While this may not be something for everyone, I commend whoever at Nintendo cooked up this crazy idea. This project screams Nintendo and showcases the company's continued innovation beyond its competition. Instead of chasing Sony and Microsoft to 4K and VR, they consistently change the definition of what it means to be a gamer and what their hardware can do. I hope these sell well, and I'm looking forward to what else might come out of their secret Lab...o.
By: Andrew Lister
It's hard to deny that 2017 was easily Nintendo's greatest year ever. The launch of the fastest-selling console in US history, the Nintendo Switch, brought the company that Mario built back from the brink of collapse after the Wii U years. It's not just the dual nature of the console, but the release of games like Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey sent sales to the moon and back (pun intended). On top of that, they released a number of other amazing games and even managed to make the SNES Classic easier to find.
So where does Nintendo go from here? How could they follow up such a landmark year? What games will drop throughout 2018?
Fans wouldn't have to wait long because on January 11th, Nintendo dropped a surprise Nintendo Direct Mini, a 14 1/2 minute barrage of previews leading into the start of the new year.
Before we dig into my impressions, I do have to note how strange the days leading up to this Direct really were. A ridiculous number of leaks and rumors flooded the internet weeks before this Direct, and instead of confirming that a new Direct was indeed on its way, Nintendo decided to troll their fan base a bit. Rather than tweet out a date, they sent out cryptic images, such as Chibi Robo engulfed in flames and other bizarre retweets. Other companies got on board, too, sending their own fire-based images, and the internet was left puzzled and amused.
So with the Direct Mini out, let's talk about some of my overall impressions. As always, feel free to leave your own thoughts in the comments below or discuss all things Nintendo on our Discord channel! Click the link below to get started!
Happy Halloween, everyone! If you're like me, you're a fan of October. The hot temperatures of summer have finally gone away, it's blanket weather, and there's lots of scary stories and movies to immerse yourself in.
The Questionable Endeavor Network is one of the best places to check out some of our Halloween and horror themed podcasts, videos, and articles! Below is a short list of things that you can go experience right now and get in the mood of the spoopy season!
Watch a Scary Movie with Slasher Sanitarium
Are you a fan of horror movies and television? If so, let Caretaker Troy of The Slasher Sanitarium be your guide through the ins and outs of some of your favorite horror media. Below you'll find links to some of my favorite episodes, including his take on the cringe-worthy Final Destination movies and the horror-comedy Betelgeuse.
Experience an Original Frightening Tale
Looking for something new and terrifying? Look no further than The Shadowvane Podcast. Might I suggest that you start with the first episode of our original series Progenix Labs? Or how about one of our Classic Tales of Terror, such as the Edgar Allan Poe classic "The Raven" or a Lovecraftian masterpiece like "Dagon"? You'll find all sorts of terrors within. Listen...if you dare.
Horror-Themed Wresting Reviews
Some people might consider big men in tights to be a scary sight already, but if you are a fan of the sport, you know that sometimes the wrestling itself can take a back seat to the over-the-top theatrical elements. Listen to shows about Halloween-themed PPV events, such as the NitroMania Podcasts's review of the 1995 Halloween Havoc.
Or how about experiencing the greatest wrestling streak in history by listening to the first episode of Season 4 of New Blood Rising! I mean, they're talking about a wrestler that is apparently some sort of undead zombie.
Games That Will Scare You Senseless
Looking for something more visual? Go check out the newest series of playthroughs over at Nerd CTRL! The crew is playing Outlast as well as Layers of Fear! Will they scream like little kids, or will they manage to keep their cool? Watch and find out!
Other Scary Episodes!
Can't sleep from watching or listening to all the other scary stuff? Check out these other Halloween-themed epsiodes from some of our other shows: Taco Tuesday Podcast, Tooning Japanese, & The Reanimetor Podcast!
No matter how you celebrate Halloween today, make a bit of time for one of our many programs! And if you like what you hear or see, share this article or the shows with your friends!
By: Andrew Lister
Welcome to the next installment of Tuesday Top Five! From time to time I'll be coming up with a Top 5 spanning a number of geeky topics. This week I'm tackling the upcoming Nintendo Direct presentation and what I'd most like to see revealed!
The rumor mills started last week about a potential Nintendo Direct presentation coming sometime this week. When I heard about said Reddit rumor, I wasn't expecting much in the way of truth. Nintendo has already released a ton of games and information lately, so what else could they talk about so closely removed from E3?
Well, I'm glad to say that I was completely wrong. A brand new Nintendo Direct is dropping on Wednesday, September 13th at 6 pm EST, 3 pm PT. Nintendo stated that we'll get information regarding the next several months of games, and it's almost certain that they will focus on their upcoming massive title Super Mario Odyssey.
Given the fact that their Direct will be 45 minutes long (much longer than their E3 presentation, by the way), just how are they going to fill all that time? My mind has been brewing and formulating lots of great possibilities, but below are my Top 5 most desired announcements from the Big N!
Check out this week's article by clicking below.
By: Andrew Lister
Welcome to the next installment of Tuesday Top Five! From time to time I'll be coming up with a Top 5 spanning a number of geeky topics. This week I'm sharing my love for the Nintendo Switch by giving my personal five best indie titles!
The Nintendo Switch has been out for about four months, and the system has already shown that nothing can keep the company that Mario built down. Even though the Wii U (despite it being a solid and fun system) wasn't the success that Nintendo was looking for, the Switch has already sold nearly 5 million systems in a short amount of time. That number will only increase as we have a Mario + Rabbids RPG and Super Mario Odyssey launch before the Christmas season.
Even though most people are going to buy first party games like Breath of the Wild, Arms, and Splatoon 2, there are a number of indie games available to play via the eShop. Sure, most of these games have already been released on PS4, XBox, or PC, but the Switch's ability to play on a big screen AND on the go makes indie games a perfect match for Nintendo's newest console.
Below you'll find my personal Top 5 indie games currently out on The Switch. As always, let me know your favorite indie games on the system below in the comments or on our Discord. By the way, you can enter to win a $25 gift card over on our #contest channel on our Discord! Join today and vote for your favorite Questionable Endeavor show!
Check out the article by clicking the link below!
By: Andrew Lister
While going through Netflix a few months back, I noticed something strange. The first two seasons of Lucha Underground had been added. Maybe I just missed this somewhere along the line, but this was a new revelation for me. I've heard good things about the promotion, but as I barely have time enough to even keep up with the WWE, I never had the chance to give Lucha Underground a watch.
So as I sit down to start watching the premier episode, I figured I'd write an article chronicling my viewing experience.
Click the link below to keep reading!
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