Monday, April 29, 2013

My Top 10 Characters for Super Smash Bros. 4

So, nearly everyone on the internet has done this list; so I figured I'd put my hat in the ring.


10) Dixie Kong

Diddy Kong brought an interesting acrobatic fighting style to Smash Bros.; so I'd like to see what a different type of acrobatic style could bring, mainly because while I liked the concept behind Diddy's style, I didn't like his moveset much.

9) Ashley (Wario Ware series)

There aren't enough magic users in the Smash series, and Ashley could fix all that. She's shown a lot of magical ability in the Wario Ware series, as well as a scary yet adorable look to her. Plus, the Wario Ware series could use more love.

8) Daisy (Mario series)

This is a bias choice, as Daisy is my favorite character of the Mario family, but I believe she could bring an interesting moveset to Smash, similar to how Peach did. Daisy could bring moves from all of the Mario Sports series, such as Strikers, Golf, Tennis, and Kart. Or, heck, she could have a completely unique moveset that reflects her tomboyish and energetic personality.

7) Palutena (Kid Icarus: Uprising)

Like Ashley, Palutena could bring some magic moves to the series, or perhaps a moveset that reflects her absolute power as a goddess; for example, she could have a move where she sneezes and meteors fall on the stage in front of her. I'd really love for her moveset to revolve around comedic moves such as sneezing, mocking her opponents, or a grab where she lectures her opponent; all of it to show her power as a goddess, because why would she really even have to try hard?

6) Geno (Super Mario RPG)

Here's the popular choice and I can see why ... Geno was pretty cool. He's got a great look, and can have a really interesting moveset. He practically makes himself, heh.

5) Skull Kid (Zelda: Majora's Mask)

Like Palutena or Daisy, Skull Kid could bring a rather unorthodox moveset to Smash, using actions like screams, tricks, and masks to defeat opponents.

4) Jill (Drill Dozer)

She was an assist trophy in Brawl, but she just feels like she could be so much more. Her appearance is really cute yet cool, because, well, she rides in a drill. Her moveset could revolve around using her drill in tons of different ways, and use the power-up system from the game she's from.

3) Paper Mario

I honestly can't make much of an argument for him; he just seems like one of the most perfect fits for the series, and his moveset practically males itself.

2) Kumatora (Mother 3)

The Mother series could use more representatives, and Kumatora felt like the perfect character to represent. She has a strong personality and had all the most powerful magic in her game. She just seems like a great fit for the series and has the potential for a superb moveset.

1) Takamaru (Nazo no Murasame Jō)

Who's Takamaru you ask? Well he was the star of a game that played like an action version of Zelda, and Nintendo had hoped that the series would be their hit, but instead it was Zelda. So, how about bringing Takamaru back into the spotlight? And what better way than putting him in Smash? It worked for Marth and Pit, so why not Takamaru? His moveset would be yet another sword user, but it would be quite different from Link or Marth, instead playing like a mix of the two. Plus, Hideki Kamiya has shown interest in doing a new game starring Takamaru, so lets make this happen Nintendo!

Third-Party Choice - Megaman

You may have noticed a lack of third-party characters on my list, well that's because I'm on the side of people who want Smash Bros to stay as Nintendo focused as possible. It annoys me to see so many of lists like these filled with mostly third-party characters. If I had to choose one, it would be Megaman. Why? Because, in my opinion, to be a third-party character in Smash, you have to be truly iconic, and the only character I could think of other than Snake and Sonic was the Blue Bomber. His appearance wouldn't lok out of place in Smash, and I could see him having a copy ability similar to Kirby, where he changes into ______-Man after copying ______'s power, and would then use their power.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

My Top 15 Games as of 2013

So, I've been writing about games for three years on this blog, and I just realized that I haven't made a list of my Top 10 games since my very first post. So, here's my current Top 15 games list; I'm doing 15 because there are just too many to list, so I wanted to expand the list a bit more. The numbering of the list is a bit hazy, though the games are all in the general area of where they should be.


Honorable Mention: Final Fantasy VII; I really should have put FFVII on the list somewhere, but couldn't find a spot. Still, this gem really deserves mention.

15) SoulCalibur V
The latest SoulCalibur game has always become my favorite of the series, and SCV is no different. Sure, I wish the roster was bigger and the loss of Guard Impact was a poor decision, but the game brings so much more to the series than it loses, and the end result is a beautiful fighting game experience.

14) Dragon Quest VIII
DQVIII is a masterpiece experience of the old-school RPG, all fully realized in beautiful 3D graphics. The gameplay is customizable and solid, but its the story where DQVIII shines the most, as it is as heartfelt and sweet as it is bitter and depressing; it's a great adventure across a huge world, and its that sense of adventure and accomplishment that DQVIII creates with its world and story that I will never forget.

13) Metroid Prime
What can you say about Metroid Prime? It's one of the most perfect games ever made. The graphics, the music, the gameplay, the world design, everything just comes together so perfectly. The process of telling the story through scanning the world was also a great design choice. An amazing game, though the experience factor was a bit lacking, hence why it is only 13 on my list.

12) Final Fantasy XIII
We've all heard my rantings on FFXIII and why I feel its under-rated before, so I won't go into that. Quite simply, I find FFXIII to be an incredible experience that combines all the elements of an RPG with an action game pace, and the end result is an engrossing adventure with a great story and amazing characters. I also thought the battle system was a big step in the right direction for modern RPGs to take.

11) Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil
Klonoa 2 is one of the most under-appreciated games of all time. The graphics, gameplay, and music all still impress today. But what is perhaps Klonoa 2's strongest trait is its story and charming way of presenting it. I won't go into details, but Klonoa 2 has a superb story that is light-hearted on the surface but eventually goes into deep themes uncommon for children's tales. The end result is a game that is truly an experience to be had, not just for the story, but for the gameplay, graphics, music, and overall charm.

10) Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
Perhaps the best aspect of Paper Mario 2 is just how much there is to enjoy about the game. There are many locations you go to, partners to meet, characters to interact with, and stories to experience. It's all very robust, and yet easily playable by anyone. It's just a truly charming adventure that is hard to deny.

9) Viewtiful Joe
VJ still remains a one-of-a-kind game. No other action game plays like it, and as a result, it holds up very well to this day. The graphics are great, the gameplay is original and amazing, and its all presented in a high-energy and charming fashion. A great and challenging action game experience from the legendary Hideki Kamiya.

8) Bayonetta
I may have a fair amount of problems with Bayonetta, but I only criticize Bayonetta because I care about it so much. It's a game that I find so much satisfaction in not just playing, but seeing and hearing it as well. There was a time when Bayonetta when Bayonetta was number one on my Top 10 Games list, and its not hard to see why. It's simply that Bayonetta is a game of layers, and as you peel away those layers you tend to find more flaws, especially if you've played the game for around 60 hours like I have, heh.

7) Grimgrimoire
Grimgrimoire is one of those games that you can tell had a limited budget (like most Nippon Ichi produced titles), but unlike most other games like it, Grimgrimoire provides quality in all of the right places. The game has beautifully designed characters, settings, and creatures; and all of it is wrapped around one of the best stories I've ever experienced in not just videogames but all artistic mediums. And while the gameplay of Grimgrimoire is good enough to stand with the best the RTS genre has to offer, its the story and characters that I will always remember.

6) Final Fantasy IX
Like I've said before, FFIX is the traditional RPG perfected. Everything about this game is superb, but what makes it a real treasure to me is its huge scale and sense of adventure. The story of FFIX takes you to so many places, has you meet so many people, and fight so many creatures. It's mesmerizing how much this game engrossed me into its story, world, and characters. I'll never forget it.

5) Odin Sphere
Being engrossed into a game experience has become a common thing going up from Grimgrimoire, and that's not going to change. Being one of the first games to show me how engrossing a videogame can be, Odin Sphere blew me away with its incredible 2D graphics, amazing soundtrack, original and interesting gameplay mechanics, and superb story. I still consider Odin Sphere's story to be the best videogames have to offer. As its a story that takes on many themes and plays it all very seriously, and the end result is a Shakespearean tale that feels as though it should be written into a play for all to read. An incredible experience that feels almost foreign to videogames when first played; I loved every second of it.

4) Chrono Trigger
Chrono Trigger has become a legend in gaming, and its not hard to see why when you play it. Right from the start, its engrossing, fun, and charming. The gameplay was revolutionary for its time, and holds up very well today; the music is among the best in gaming, and the story and characters are still as interesting and charming as they were nearly 20 years ago. Overall, what makes CT so great in my eyes is just how original it feels. Like many games populating this list, there just doesn't feel like there are any other games like it.

3) Metroid: Other M

You've all heard why I love this game before, so here's the short version: complexity out of simplicity provides the gameplay of MOM to be extremely satisfying and unique, and yet it never feels monotonous thanks to diverse enemy types and combat not being the focus of the experience, rather the experience comes from nearly every facet of game design; from the graphics to the sound to the story, everything about MOM feels as though it was designed as one cohesive whole, and as a result, MOM is an increidble gaming experience that is unrivaled in what it does.

2) Okami

You may have noticed a lack of Zelda games on this list, well that's because Okami shows me just how limited the Zelda series has become (after all, it says a lot when the most robust Zelda experience is A Link to the Past for SNES). But enough about Zelda, Okami is something more than Zelda, as it takes the foundation of Zelda and builds upon it in nearly every way while also being its own original beast. The graphics in Okami make it one of those games that will always be beautiful, no matter how advanced graphic engines get. The gameplay is a superb mix of action elements taken from Kamiya's previous games with the item-focused combat found in Zelda games like A Link to the Past. The music is charming and beautiful, and still stands as my second favorite videogame OST. And the story is a robust and satisfying story that expands well past a simple tale into a full-blown fantasy epic. Okami is a game that may stay close to gaming tradition in its design, but it performs exceptionally across the board, and thus becomes an undeniable masterpiece.

1) The World Ends With You

If there's one thing I can say about every game on this list prior to this one, it would be that there is a sense of familiarity to them. I've scrolled through menus to choose my attacks in RPGs before, I've pressed a button to do a light attack and another to do a heavy attack in action games before, I've searched corners for hidden items before, I've experienced stories in fantasy settings before, and I've taken down the evil warlord before. You know what I haven't done before? Screamed into a microphone to stun my opponents, listened to hip-hop music while taking down a boss, go to the clothing store to buy a short in the most trendy fashion line at the moment, refilled my health by going to the closest Udon shop, communicated with my partners through the use of cell phones, helping out a three girls patch up their friendship broken my misunderstandings. This is The World Ends With You, and it is easily the most original game I've ever played. The graphics, the music, the battle system, the way it makes use of the DS' two screens, and the superb story and setting that vividly creates a thriving Shibuya in your hand all come together to make what is quite simply the greatest videogame experience I've ever had.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

My Favorite Character Designs - Round 2

Luna-Luna (Queen's Blade Rebellion)

I'm going to try and limit the amount of QB characters I put into these to just my absolute favorites, and with that said, Luna-Luna takes top marks. There is so much creative detail put into her character design, from her head ornament, to her tentacles, to her countless ornaments. Just everything about this character screams "exotic", like something out of the legends of beautiful women from far off lands.

Medusa (Kid Icarus: Uprising)

Kid Icarus: Uprising has many great character designs, but I found Medusa's to be the best. On top of the incredible amount of detail put into her design, she encompasses the perfect amount of beauty and terror.

Nights (NiGHTS into Dreams)

In the old days, game developers had to make simpler character designs so that they could be made into small sprites and low-polygon models. Nights is perhaps my favorite design to come out of this era of more simpler character designs. Her (yes, I'm going with "her") design is creative and magical. Her large eyes, aerodynamic design, and purple color scheme all make for a very eye-catching design.

Tira (Soulcaliber III)

The Soulcaliber series is full of incredible character designs; in fact, I don't think there is one character that looks mediocre. However, like Queen's Blade, I can't list everyone because that would get old quick, so I'll list only my favorites, beginning with one of my all-time favorites: Tira in her SCIII form. The color scheme, feathers, and make-up all make for a very imposing yet beautiful character design. Simply amazing.

Odette (Odin Sphere)

The first of what is bound to be many characters designed by George Kamitani, Odette is an incredibly imposing character. Her dark blue color scheme, lantern, headdress, and sharp red and black eyes make for a detailed character design. And, like Medusa, she combines elements of both beauty and terror. Like some type of devious facade, Odette's front appearance is that of a buxom, regal woman, and yet look past that and you see a bleach white skeleton. An incredibly creative design that truly creates the look of one who rules the land of the dead.

My Thoughts on Bioshock Infinite (SPOILERS)

NOTE: I have played through 60% of Bioshock Infinite and have seen about 90% of the game, including the ending. So, keep that in mind while reading this.

So, Bioshock Infinite. It's become one of the highest-rated and most talked about games ever in just a smal amount of time. However, I find the game quite over-rated. Now, before you smack me, let me say that I find BI to be a great game, amazing in some respects, but still over-rated.

Let me say my praises for the game first. First off, the game looks amazing. Sure, NPC models are reused, and enemy models don't look that great, but the environments, Elizabeth, and Songbird all look incredible, and the way they all touch and interact with each other is great as well. Next, I'll say that the execution of the story is a huge step above the original, as now the story plays out right in front of you, and the player feels a lot more engaged because of it. The soundtrack and voice acting are also superb, especially the superb performance from Troy Baker as Booker.

Now, onto my criticisms. Basically, my main gripe (and main reason I chose to wrote this blog) is that BI gets praised for so many things that we've seen or experiences before. The first example being the gameplay: it's the same thing as the first game. Sure, the new zip-line mechanic is cool, but its hardly used; heck, combat as a whole is a pretty small part of the game, which is perhaps why it isn't very deep. Sure, there are the multiple vigors and guns, but each battle plays out in the same fashion: point and shoot. There is little to no variety in the BI's combat, despite the fact that the vigors give you many useful abilities. One could say the controlling of machines is a strong point of the combat, but it quickly becomes dull when controlling the turrets or machines is what you do every time you see one. Same can be said for how to deal with the people. Murder of Crows, Bucking Bronco, or whichever vigor you prefer to use to slow down your enemy so you can shoot them. Overall, combat is just too simple; well, at least too simple to be praised. BI's main focus is the story anyway, so it seems a bit harsh to criticize the gameplay so harshly.

And that brings me to the second point: the story. Two praises the story gets that I find irksome are the beginning and the multiple universes. I'll start with the beginning. The beginning of BI begins with a fair where you can participate in attractions, listen to a barbershop quartet, and even practice combat for later. I'd give this part of the game more praise if I hadn't already experienced it well over a decade ago in Chrono Trigger.  Don't get me wrong, it was a really nice way to start the game, but we have to give credit where credit is due, and BI's opening feels practically ripped right out of CT's Millenial Fair opening. And next comes the multiple universes that begin to overlap with each other due to the actions of one man and certain events of the past. Does this sound familiar? Because it's the main plot foundation for Chrono Cross. While BI's ending did eventually make its story more than a rip-off of CC's, I found it quite noticeable.

And third, we come to the setting: the city in the sky run by a tyrannical overlord with kind words but an evil agenda, where people are separated into classes that are forbidden to interbreed, where the people revere their ruler and his offspring as their guiding light, and it all comes crumbling down due to the hubris of the the city's leader and the rebellion of his offspring who once that he controlled through love. Sound familiar?

It's Zeal. It's Zeal to a freakin' T! Now, I'm not saying BI's setting still isn't great, as I especially liked the way it crafted a beautiful utopian version of America in the 1920s. But the similarities to Chrono Trigger most famous arc cannot be denied. Now, I know that there have been many stories in the past that feature cities in the sky, tyrannical overlords, seducing the people with words, etc. But the way they all came together in CT's Zeal arc was an amazing experience back in 1995. I know it probably didn't happen with everyone, but the comparisons hit me pretty early on, and, as a result, I felt the story lost a lit of impact. I'd seen this all before. It also didn't help that the story was pretty predictable, with the exception of the ending (though you could see a lot of elements of that coming too).

Which leads to my last point: the story and characters. The story of BI is perhaps what gets the most praise; particularly, the ending and the character of Elizabeth. The ending was quite good, though it is foreshadowed a lot throughout the game, and we've seen multiple universe stories before, mainly in sci-fi shows, novels, and movies. So, imo, it was entertaining, but nothing groundbreaking. Just because this type of story is put into a videogame doesn't mean its as if we hadn't experienced it before in other mediums. Now to the character of Elizabeth, who I feel was well done, but not nearly as impactful as many make her out to be. Sure, it's nice that she does interesting things like not follow you into the men's bathroom, wait on a bench while your scrounging, or provide lots of expressive facial expressions at key moments, but, besides all that, she never had much of an impact on me. I never felt attached to her. I suppose that's mainly due to the fact that she never feels like she needed Booker's help. She follows you perfectly, takes care of herself in battle, and saves Booker a bunch of times. Now, I like Elizabeth in that she is a strong character, but if the purpose of the game was to make me care about Elizabeth as someone to rescue, I don't think the game accomplished that. ICO executed this perfectly with Yorda; I find that to be the perfect example of a female companion the player bonds with through gameplay and story.

Overall, Bioshock Infinite is a great game, but not a very satisfying one. It executes a lot of its ideas, both gameplay and story, quite well, but it feels like a very limited experience. Combat can only get so deep, how much I care for Elizabeth can only go so far, and the impact of the setting can only tantalize me so much before I fall out of the experience and feel more like I'm watching a decent play rather than experiencing a videogame.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

My Anime Wrap-Up for the Winter 2013 Season

Girls und Panzer - I'll start off with the best. GuP has become one of my favorite anime of all time. It is superbly paced, has great animation, and witty dialogue. This anime's quality really took me by surprise. GuP, in my eyes, is basically a combination of Eyeshield 21 and Strike Witches, as it combines the action execution of the best sports manga where, both the planning and execution are equally intense, with the diverse characters and interaction there-of of Strike Witches. Perhaps what was most impressive is the pacing of the series, as the anime manages to develop much of the cast and create a great sense of tension and satisfaction within all of the battles, all within the span of 12 episodes. I really, really hope this anime will get a second season, as the amazing characters and battles really need to be seen more.

Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency - The first word that comes to me when asked to describe Jojo is ... interesting. I actually use the same word to describe One Piece. And I believe that's what attracts me so much to Jojo. You never really know what's going to happen next. It all plays out in a classic shonen execution while all being stylishly animated. It's a great time, and I look forward to more. I'll also say that the OP for this season of Jojo is perhaps my favorite anime OP ever; I watch it every time.

Vividred Operation - While not terrible, this series was a huge disappointment. The main problem with the series is that it lacks focus. There are times when it looks to be a light-hearted magical-girl anime, while other times it wants to tell a serious, sometimes dark, story. If the anime had stuck to one of these routes, it probably would've been a lot better. What was good, though, were the characters. Most of the cast was pretty great, and more interactions between the cast would've been appreciated. Overall, it was disappointing; perhaps not because the actual content was mostly mediocre, but because the series' potential really shined through all the mediocrity.

Sasami-san@Ganbarai - This was a decent series. Honestly, I'm confused on a lot of the overarching plot, but there were many nice moments throughout the series. The best aspect of the series was the characters interaction, and since I'm a huge fan of good character interaction, it kept me watching the series, even if I didn't always understand it, heh.

Senran Kagura - It was OK. As a fan of the games and manga, I was pretty hyped for this anime. And, what I continue to say to myself whenever questioning the anime's quality is: it gets good at episode 5. From episode 5 to 12, this anime is actually pretty good and does nearly everything I wanted it to. The disappointment comes from the fact that the first four episodes could've been used to solve several of the anime's biggest flaws, such as developing certain characters who didn't get enough, specifically Ikaruga, Katsuragi, and the Hebi girls. A second season could be good, but I'd be wary of the quality.

Overall, there have been better seasons, but it was a nice laid-back season. I'm really happy to have seen Girls und Panzer, and I know that just because the Strike Witches team is working on a new anime, that doesn't mean it will be great, heh.

Monday, April 1, 2013

My Favorite Character Designs - Round 1

If there's one thing I love, it's a great character design. So, I'm gonna start up another subseries where I show some of my favorite character designs from videogames, manga, anime, comics, etc.

I will note that the character designs I list will mainly be based upon design alone, not really personality or story; though I may go into personality a little. I'll also try to keep my reasons to liking the character designs to a minimum and let the designs speak for themselves. Also, these are not in any sort of order, and basically listed in random.


Jotaro Kujo

The Jojo series is full of amazing character designs, but Jotaro really stands out to me thanks to sleek, cool style. If you were to ask me who the coolest looking manga character is, Jotaro would be the first design to pop into my head.


An incredible combination of sexy and beautiful in the form of an adult woman. A lot of Bayonetta's appeal comes from her animation within the game, but her design is amazing in and of itself. There are so many small details in her design that give her so much history just on face value. Her guns, her ribbon, the belts, her glasses, and, of course, her full-body suit made from her own hair. The simple fact that Bayonetta is both completely covered and naked at the same time is just insanely creative. 

The Super Boins

Here are two characters that may not have become my favorites if not for being in the right place at the right time. For one, they really remind me of designs that would be in a Platinum/Clover game, as they both look like a fusion of Bayonetta and Sexy Silvia. And, they are a beacon of color in a movie that is otherwise lacking in color. I also like how they're sex appeal is worn on their sleeves, and yet they're very humorous and silly people. It all just made them really likable. They're racing car being a mech in the shape of a voluptuous woman is also very cool as well.

Terry Bogard

Terry Bogard, like Jotaro, is a design that works very well thanks to how simple his design is. However, unlike Jotaro's calm and cool attitude, Terry is loud and friendly. In fact, a huge part of Terry's likability is his engrish attack screams like "Are you OK?" and "Crack Shoot!". All of it comes to together to give Terry a very friendly air about him, making him easily one of the most likable and cool fighting game characters of all time.