By: Andrew Lister
Welcome to the next installment of a new article series, 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 passing the time isolated inside during this bleak Midwestern winter with a final Final Fantasy article counting down my favorite Final Fantasy villains.
What's a story without good antagonists? Final Fantasy is known for its epic storytelling. It's a world of magic and monsters, of epic heroes and vile evil-doers. This tried and true formula has always made for some memorable moments in gaming.
For this article, I want to focus on the key villains from the series' history. I'm not picking smaller bosses or monsters and instead focusing on key antagonists. Those on this list may not always be the end baddie, but they stand in the way of the party in some substantial way throughout the story.
As always, I want to know your own favorite villains, so be sure to leave yours in the comments section below!
Check out this week's Top Five by clicking below!
By: Andrew Lister
A massive blow has been struck to Nintendo fans around the world as this morning we have learned that Nintendo has gone back to the drawing board and scrapped their development work on the much anticipated Metroid Prime 4 for the Nintendo Switch.
At 7 am CST, Shinya Takahashi, the General Manager for Entertainment Planning & Development at Nintendo, released a three minute message via Nintendo's YouTube Channel concerning the future of Metroid Prime 4 on Nintendo Switch. During the video, Takahashi had the following to say:
[W]e must let you know that the current development progress has not reached the standards we seek in a sequel to the Metroid Prime series. Nintendo always strives for the highest quality in our games; and in the development phase, we challenge ourselves and confront whether the game is living up to that quality on a daily basis. If we're not satisfied with the quality, we aren't able to deliver it to our customers with confidence, and the game will not live up to our fans' expectations.
Takahashi goes on to state that they have removed the game from the hands of the original development team at Bandai Namco and will instead be completely scrapped and rebuilt from the ground up under the watch of Retro Studios. As many Nintendo fans may know, Retro is best known for their work on the original Metroid Prime games as well their development of impressive entries in the Donkey Kong series.
The last time we heard anything about Metroid Prime 4 was a brief teaser trailer at Nintendo's E3 presentation. Things have been radio silent since then, and today's reveal finally offers us some answers to why that might have been the case.
While this will certainly be a major disappointment to many Nintendo fans, we now at least have some idea as to why we haven't heard much in the past year and a half on this widely anticipated title. Even though this means we may not see the game until 2020 or beyond, it does mean that we will be assured a game worthy of following in the shoes of the previous games in the series and not receive a game akin to Metroid Other M, the last console release for the series that was panned for its subpar gameplay and questionable narrative choices.
What are your thoughts on this bombshell announcement concerning Metroid Prime 4? Do you think this was the right decision, or are you disappointed at the inevitable delay of one of the most anticipated games of this generation? Let us know in the comments below or on our Discord!
By: Andrew Lister
Welcome to the latest 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!
Last September, Nintendo released a Direct presentation that outlined key releases for 2017, including more information regarding games like Super Mario Odyssey and Xenoblade Chronicles 2. To accompany the big event, I provided my own predictions. I was correct about some of them (minus the inclusion of media apps), but last year I focused on safe bets. This time around, I'm going to go out on a limb and predict the top five things that I would like more than anything from this month's upcoming Nintendo Direct.
Nintendo fans know that the Direct was delayed due to the unfortunate earthquake that took place in Hokkaido, Japan. Because of the delay, many announcements that were meant to be revealed in the Direct have already come to light. I'll not address any of those in my own predictions.
Check out this week's Tuesday Top 5 by clicking the link below!
By: Andrew Lister
Anyone who knows me understands that I'm not an XBox fanboy. I was raised in the age of Nintendo, and I spent much of my later years playing on PC and Playstation consoles. That said, I do pay attention to what Microsoft puts together for their E3 presentation each year, and there are normally a number of positive things that come out of it.
Last year Microsoft unveiled the XBox One X, the most powerful non-PC gaming machine out there. Even though it had a confusing name and was marketed with buzzwords like teraflops (I'm still not sure what that means), it was clearly a console that was capable of producing the best graphics and game play of The Big Three.
This year Microsoft had a lot to prove. Despite having the most powerful gaming console on the market, the games just weren't there to support spending $500 on a suped up version of the original XBox One. Microsoft exclusive titles have been few and far between, and the ones they did recently release, such as Sea of Thieves, have been met with harsh criticisms.
In short, their rivals Sony and Nintendo came into this conference already touting a large number of exclusive games, and Microsoft desperately needed to catch up.
And boy did they play catch up this year. During Microsoft's press conference on Sunday, June 10th, they not only revealed a whole slew of games exclusive to the XBox and PC brand, but they also showed off world premiere trailers for a number of multi-platform games.
You see, going into the show, Sony stated they would focus on a much smaller number of games, including the new Spiderman, Death Stranding, and The Last of Us 2. This means that other major gaming companies had to find a place to announce new information about their upcoming games.
This is where Microsoft came in used their nearly two hours to show the world game after game after game, and they did more than just show us the expected new Halo and Gears of War titles. We received a wide variety of information on new games, from smaller publishers to major ones, from first person shooters to JRPGs.
Below are a number of games debuted or expanded upon at Microsoft's press conference that really made this the best year for Microsoft at E3 yet. Keep in mind that my list can't cover everything shown, so if you want to a full rundown of what was shown, go watch the conference for yourself.
Halo Infinite & Gears 5
I don't have a lot to say about either of these two franchises, but I feel that I'd get a ton of hate if I didn't at least mention them right off the bat. I've never been one for first person shooters in general, and I've only played a small amount of the original Halo a long, long time ago. Despite this, I understand how monumentally popular the Halo franchise is for its fan base and for the XBox.
I won't even begin to understand what was going on in the actual trailer for Halo Infinite, but I'm sure it will be something the fans will enjoy. Microsoft puts a lot of effort into those games, knowing that it's one of their core franchises.
Speaking of core franchises, we saw not one, not two, but three new games in the Gears of War series. Among them, strangely enough, was a weird mobile game that blends the world of Gears and the marketing Juggernaut of Funko Pop. Yeah, there's going to be a new Gears of War with Funko Pop characters, soulless black eyes and all.
What elicited the biggest pop (pun intended) of the entire show was a lengthy trailer for the brand new Gears 5 game, which seems to take the game in a much different direction. This time around you'll play as Kait Diaz, who breaks from her companions to take on a journey of her own. The graphics, as expected, looked amazing with gorgeous renderings of much more lively natural environments. I won't be playing it, but judging from the trailer and the reactions of the crowd, Microsoft is going all in on the Gears series going forward.
Hours before Bethesda took the stage in their own conference, Todd Howard showed up on Microsoft's stage to give Fallout fans like myself more information on their upcoming game Fallout 76. This game was recently revealed on a unique Twitch stream that spanned more than a day of fans watching a Vauly Boy statue and waiting for whatever announcement was to come.
So in a bold move, Bethesda showed off yet another trailer at Microsoft rather than wait until their own E3 conference. When you think about it, it's actually pretty smart as Howard was able to playfully remind the crowd that they had their own show across the street later that day, and I'm sure we'll get even more information about Fallout 76 there as well.
During the introduction and the trailer, we found out that the new Fallout game is indeed the earliest setting for the entire series and will take place in West Virginia. We also were told that the world of Fallout 76 was going to be four times larger than that of Fallout 4. Let that sink in for a moment. Four. Times. Larger.
The central idea of the story is to colonize and give the world a fresh start. Aside from that, there are still a lot of unanswered questions at this time. Is the game going to be cooperative as it rumored? Will it be influenced by survival games like Rust? I guess we'll have to wait and see.
Kingdom Hearts 3
Not only did Microsoft get to show another brand new trailer for the much awaited Kingdom Hearts, but they got to gloat that the game would be making its way for the first time onto the XBox.
I've only played the first game, and the amount of lore makes my head spin when I try to wrap my brain around what's actually going on. However, this trailer did show off a number of new Disney properties that are now going to be part of the main story. Among those worlds that Sora and company will visit are the winter wonderland of Frozen, Andy's bedroom in Toy Story, and outside of the tower in Tangled.
Things have come a long way for Square Enix, who once only published their biggest works on the Sony Playstation. Getting Kingdom Hearts on XBox and seeing the game with the highest possible graphics could be a selling point for more One Xs.
The Division 2, Devil May Cry 5, and Cyberpunk 2077
I could fill this article up with every single game that Microsoft debuted tonight, but then I'd be trying far into Bethesda's conference. Three more games I wanted to touch quickly upon are the brand new Tom Clancy game, the newest Devil May Cry title, and one of the coolest looking games ever, Cyberpunk 2077.
Again, I'm not a fan of shooters, and I've never played a single game with the Tom Clancy branding. However, after watching the trailer talking about the world being driven into another World War followed by really engrossing cooperative gameplay, I actually wanted to pick up an XBox controller and give this game a shot.
My buddy Josh from Tooning Japanese probably still has a massive hardon after seeing the video on the brand new Devil May Cry game. I don't know much about the series, but this looks like another blood-pumping action game that will feel right at home alongside the other games in the series.
And finally, there was Cyberpunk 2077, which closed the show. I don't want to even waste any words. Just watch the video below. Seriously. Do it.
That's it for now! What did you think of Microsoft's press conference? Leave your comments below or join our Discord, head to the Video Games channel, and strike up a conversation! I'll be back with more E3 coverage throughout the next week, so thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more coverage.
By: Andrew Lister
It's that time again: E3 is upon us once more! I'm going to try and throw out some of my biggest take-aways from this year's event, which spans the next six days.
Just like last year, EA kicked things off early with their press conference on Saturday, June 9th. I'll be completely up front before I delve into my thoughts on their conference. I'm not a fan of sports games, and a lot of what they have to offer falls under the categories of FIFA, Madden, and NBA Live. On top of that, their conference has some well known cringe-worthy moments, and this year was really not all that different.
As easy as it would be to bash on EA (Who isn't these days?), I want to instead focus on my favorite aspects of EA's conference each year: their independent developer partnerships. In 2016, EA revealed their EA Originals program, which is a partnership between their company with smaller independent game developers. The great thing is that EA doesn't take any money from these developers, but they do work alongside of these companies to provide them a much larger stage and resources to help develop their dream works.
My first experience with these EA Originals was a charming game titled Unravel. It was a 2D platformer staring an adorable little protagonist (Yarny) made entirely of yarn. I've played the game, and it's really a charming and surprisingly emotional experience.
This was followed up last year by a look at the cooperative game A Way Out. It's focus was on couch co-op, split-screen gameplay, where you and a friend needed to find a way out of prison and get back to your real life that was taken away from you. I haven't yet played this one, but the game has gotten a pretty positive response.
This year we were given a look at two different EA Originals games, one of which was a surprising sequel to an earlier Originals game, and the other an interesting look at social isolation and depression.
Unravel Two: Finding Your Spark With the Help of a Fiend
First, let's talk about Unravel 2. Yes, we are getting a sequel to the creative EA Original from just a few years back. The trailer they revealed shows our red and fuzzy protagonist Yarny lost at sea, where his thread snaps, and he loses his glowing spark. From there he washes up on shore, seemingly lost and depressed. Things look dark, but then out of a satchel comes yet another Yarny! This blue yarn dude with bigger, horn-like ears becomes your companion, and they combine the ends of their yarn before starting off on a brand new adventure.
Now that you and your new friend are attached to one another, you have a wide range of new abilities at your disposal, including pulling one another up onto ledges, tying your string to two different spots to create a trampoline, and helping one another swing over obstacles. This addition of a second player adds quite a bit of creativity to what might otherwise feel like yet another side-scrolling action game.
Now that we have two sentient yarn balls running around, you have two options for gameplay. Obviously, this opens up cooperative gaming with a friend, but you can also play the game on your own, utilizing both characters to navigate the many puzzles you'll come across. When playing on your own, you either combine the two into a Frankenstein-esque amalgamation to get from Point A to Point B. When you need to get through a specific area, you can take turns switching between both of the connected players.
This game looks like it will explore the themes of friendship and/or love and finding true happiness, and the much more visually-appealing and playful style will make for an intriguing way to explore these core ideas.
Sea of Solitude: Fighting Against the Darkness Within
A second EA Originals game was debuted that focuses on a very different tone and theme. Sea of Solitude (also known as SOS) is being developed by a small German gaming studio, Jo-Mei Games.
In this game, you play as a young woman that lives in a completely isolated, flooded world. The trailer shows you navigating an eerie environment in a small motorboat, but we also get the idea that the main character is actually some sort of monster herself, which is a manifestation of her depression and loneliness.
Personally, I've wanted to delve into games that personify parts of what it means to be human and things that people struggle with on a daily basis. Games like Night in the Woods and Celeste take heavy subject matter and explore it in very unique ways. This looks like a game that will follow in their footsteps and deliver a scary, enlightening experience.
What do you think of these two games? What stood out to you from the EA press conference? What are you most looking forward to during E3 2018? Leave your comments below or join our Discord, head to the Video Games channel, and strike up a conversation! I'll be back with more E3 coverage throughout the next week, so thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more coverage.
By: Andrew Lister
With E3 less than a month away, video game companies are ramping up the excitement before the show floor even opens. While Bethesda spent all day yesterday hyping up the brand new Fallout 76 on their bizarre and hilarious Twitch stream, the Pokemon Company and Nintendo have dropped a ton of new information overnight regarding the future of Pokemon. That future looks pretty awesome if you ask me.
Nintendo released a surprise announcement of not one, not two, but three brand new Pokemon games. The first, Pokemon Quest, is a fun pixel game that is free to download right now on your Nintendo Switch and on your phone next month. It's filled with micro-transactions, but if you play it in moderation, it's actually a pretty fun game you can enjoy for free! Thankfully, the other two games are things with a little more substance.
The most robust of the announcements came with a trailer for Pokemon: Let's Go, Pikachu/Eevee! Be sure to watch the trailer above before continuing as we're about to dive into my first impressions of what's been released thus far. Oh, and for fans freaking out about the seemingly less-deep experience of Let's Go, just know that Gen 8 is slated for release during the second half of 2019!
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!
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