Let's discuss Avengers: Infinity War -- a movie BOUND to make you feel so good!

December 26, 2016

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Blogging (Part 3)

“There’s no way Joseph is the best JoJo.”

I’m not usually one to play the contrarian, even though it seems like that with some of my less-than-ideal opinions (like anything that has to do with Naughty Dog).  I’d like to think that I’m able to rise above preconceptions and biases to speak clearly and honestly about subjects.  But for the life of me -- and even now -- I cannot say that Joseph Joestar is the best lead JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure has to offer.

Hear me out on this.  Joseph is the hero of Part 2 -- Battle Tendency -- which ran from 1987 to 1989 in manga form, and from December 2012 to April 2013 in anime form.  The former came out forever and a day ago, while the latter is fresher on people’s minds (thanks to all sorts of memes, to generalize).  Either way, there’s a LOT of content to go through.  Remember, there are eight different JoJo sagas out there, with the latest of the bunch still in production.  There’s a ton that people still need to be exposed to and given the chance to digest.  Even if we peel away 75% of the context of each arc, we still need to put every JoJo under the microscope.  Those who are 100% up to date with the manga can probably do that, but for everyone else?  How can you say “Joseph is the best” when at a bare-ass minimum, we’ve still got to get through Giorno, Joylene, Johnny, and Gappy Josuke?

Now, you can say “Joseph is my favorite JoJo so far”, because that’s much easier and more credible to quantify.  It’s an opinion with good grounding.  So with all of that said, I’ll declare this: no, Joseph is not my favorite JoJo so far.  But he’s still a good, good, good, good, damn good character.  And the same applies to Battle Tendency.

Like a bloody SPOILERS
Burning like a bloody SPOILERS
Some SPOILERS pound through your veins…and this post

December 19, 2016

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Blogging (Part 2)

Can I just take a minute to gush about how much I love Hamon?

Sure, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure has long since earned fame for its Stands.  But having watched and enjoyed Phantom Blood, I still feel like Hamon’s the cooler power of the two -- and that’s saying something, because I agree that Stands are rad.  The “power of the sun” not only lets its users fight with supercharged energy and beat down vampires (and zombie grunts), but also gives them a chance to interact with items in the environment in all sorts of zany ways.  Lots of creative applications, to be sure -- as Battle Tendency proves later on -- and it’s the sheer unpredictability that makes it a treat to see in action.

I also love how Hamon’s weakness is an obvious one.  It’s made possible through the proper breathing techniques, so if you can’t breathe, you can’t use it.  I mean, yeah, pretty much every living being is crippled if they can’t breathe, but the applications of it in JoJo add a layer of tension to battles.  When mere chains or a dip underwater become a credible life-or-death situation, you know you’ve done well in storytelling.

Also, this doesn’t have much to do with anything yet, buuuuuuuuuuuuuut…cripes, JoJo does NOT shy away from the body horror.  Thank god for the censorship, because sometimes it’s seriously hard to watch without cringing so hard my eyes clamp shut.

Anyway, on to Phantom BloodAgainWITH SPOILERS.  Again.

December 12, 2016

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Blogging (Part 1)

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is more than just memes.

I repeat: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is more than just memes.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you it’s a masterpiece, or the greatest thing ever (in the anime/manga world or otherwise).  I know I’ve said this before, but I have to make it absolutely clear: paring down JoJo to a bunch of images and out-of-context YouTube clips is a huge disservice to it.  It’s lasted this long for a reason.  It has fans for a reason.  It’s got a brand new, still-in-progress anime for a reason.  There are many, many, many things you can pull from a decent-sized chunk of said anime -- most of it accidentally hilarious -- but if you look at it as a whole, it’s truly something special.

So here’s the big question, and one that I hope to answer over the course of this miniseries: is it really as bizarre as the title claims?  It’s hard to say for now.  But if I’m going to come to a conclusion, I’ve got to start somewhere -- and it might as well be at the beginning.


December 5, 2016

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild VS Horizon: Zero Dawn: Hell in a Cell (Part 2)

This post is probably going to oust me as a hypocrite (well, more so than usual).  I can see it now.  I mean, even though The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild isn’t officially being called an open-world game, it shares a good number of traits with the subgenre.  Plus, being called “open-world” carries a lot of baggage with it these days.  Ubisoft and its AAA contemporaries have run what was once a good thing -- if not a symbol of progress for the medium -- into the ground, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the mere concept is enough to make someone’s eyes roll so fast that they could break the sound barrier.

I’m pretty sure I’ve taken shots at open-world games as well, so the fact that I’m excited for Breath of the Wild means that I’m a dirty liar in need of a bath filled with holy water.  More to the point, I’m a hypocrite because this game appeals to me, but I’m about ready to write off the superficially-similar Horizon: Zero Dawn for what may come off as arbitrary reasons.  In my defense, it’s not as if I love one and hate the other; it’s just that I feel like BotW appeals to me more.  And while I’m pretty confident that Horizon will eventually be a solid game, it feels redundant -- and significantly less special -- in the face of BotW.

I guess now I’ll have to explain why.  So let’s go ahead and step back into the ring for another smackdown.

December 1, 2016

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild VS Horizon: Zero Dawn: Hell in a Cell (Part 1)

I think I’ve sent myself on a guilt trip.

The dust has long since started to settle on E3 2016, with no shortage of information to parse through.  Granted some things were still a no-show -- a new Sonic game is on the way, but Sega just teased an announcement of an announcement of an announcement to screw with everyone’s heads -- but I doubt anyone will go on a rant about how the industry’s major players kept all their cards close to the chest. 

And that’s where my guilt comes in.  At last year’s E3, I was intrigued by Horizon: Zero Dawn.  Very intrigued; it was new, it was different, and it looked as if it had plenty to offer for gamers vis a vis robot dinosaur hunting.  I’d assume that’s not all you’ll be doing, but if that’s the core gameplay, then it seems all right.  Well, that’s what I’d like to say; cut to a year later, however, and I’m suddenly not so intrigued by it.  What would’ve once made my eyebrows slide up my face now makes me go “Ehhhhhhhhh…” and “Awwwwwwwwwww…”  I don’t understand what happened, and it’s kind of tearing me up inside.  That’s especially true, because -- at least on a superficial level -- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild ticks some of the same boxes, yet my hype is breaking through the atmosphere.

What the hell’s going on?  Well, I intend to find out with this LONG overdue post.  Even though I already kind of have an answer, but let’s pretend we’re going in raw.

November 28, 2016

Tales of Zestiria: I Want You

I have a lot to thank my mom for, but I’d wager that my general avoidance of sweets is one of them.  It’s not that I have anything against candy (except chocolate, because I’m secretly history’s greatest monster), but I don’t go out of my way to get my hands on it.  Same goes for stuff like cake and ice cream; honestly, a few weeks ago I had Pop-Tarts for the first time in years.  As a result, I’ve never known the pain of cavities.  Likewise, I’d imagine that axing the most heinous of food groups has helped me keep my figure svelte and lithe -- and not at all comparable to a skin-clad sack of bones.

Still, I know the taste of sweets.  I know the effect.  There are just some foods out there that are pure bliss in edible form; I’d count a warm blueberry muffin among them, for example.  Will eating sweets lead to regret later?  Possibly.  Probably, if they aren’t eaten in moderation.  On the other hand, sometimes you just have to indulge and take in whatever you can get.  Sometimes you just have to spoil yourself.

That’s what Tales of Zestiria does for me.  Because the more I think about it, the more I realize I’m absolutely in love with this game.

November 24, 2016

Shower Thoughts with Stardust Crusaders (Part 3)

So if you could have a Stand, what would it be?

That’s kind of a dirty question, because according to JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure as we know it, you don’t get to choose your Stand.  It’s a reflection of you.  Granted that reflection tends to be tailor-made to suit the Stand user personality-wise, but it’s like the X-Men: you make do with what you’ve got, because what you’ve got is…well, you.  Still, there’s a ton of allure in imagining what it’d be like to have your own ghostly companion.  I’ve certainly indulged.

I’ll hold off on describing my ideal Stand for now, because that’d take a bit of time, I haven’t completely nailed it down, and (since this is the intro) there’s a lot of more relevant ground to cover.  I can tell you right now that it’s not too dissimilar from Echoes in Diamond is Unbreakable, barring some stuff that I’m pretty sure counts as a spoiler or eight.  So let’s go back to talking about Stardust Crusaders for the third and final time.  The premise?  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Stands in Part 3 are an embodiment of what you want to be, but fail to be.

And I’ll drive that point home one last time…with spoilers aplenty.  But then again, is there any better way to celebrate Thanksgiving Day than with theory-crafting for JoJo?  Probably.  Also, I hope I didn’t date this post super-hard.

November 21, 2016

Art, the Great Equalizer

There’s an episode of Kamen Rider Drive where --

Hey, wait!  Don’t close the page yet!  I’m going somewhere with this.

November 17, 2016

Shower Thoughts with Stardust Crusaders (Part 2)

I’ve always believed that you can make any story sound bizarre if you describe it as directly and plainly as possible.  I mean, have you ever really put much thought into Harry Potter?  “A young boy who lives in his abusive family’s cupboard finds out that he defeated an all-powerful evil wizard as a baby, and is whisked off to a British castle so he can go to a school for wizards.”  There’s a lot to unpack there, but context in-universe makes it easier to swallow.  That’s true of every story, I bet.  Break it down to those base elements -- removed of context and flourishes -- and you’re bound to get something bizarre. 

With that in mind, maybe JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is deserving of its name for a reason.  Some of the stuff in the last post -- and this one, inevitably -- sounds absolutely insane, and it feels like it’d take a conversation just to explain a conversation.  What’s a Joestar?  What’s Hamon?  What’s a Stand?  And so on, and so forth.  It’s not to JoJo’s detriment, of course, but it does make for a harder sell.  Though now that I think about it, I’d LOVE to see some kind of “Parents react to JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure” video someday.  If it’s anything like having mothers describe Overwatch characters, it’ll be a hoot.

Enough of that, though.  It’s time to get back to action, and the thrust of my argument: Stands in Stardust Crusaders are the embodiments of what you want to be, but fail at being.  Am I wrong?  Am I right?  Judge for yourself, because I’ll make a case with the core six characters of the series.

Also, get ready, because I’m about to spoil the CRAP out of Stardust Crusaders.  But I would’ve guessed that I’m the last horse to cross the finish line, soooooooooooooo…if you haven’t watched the show yet, fix that.

November 14, 2016

Doctor Strange: A Beard’s Origin Story (Part 2)

Comic fans, I have a question: who is the most powerful superhero in Marvel Comics canon?

I wouldn’t know, because I’ve only got a handful of comics.  My gut instinct is to go with one of three choices, though.  First off: the Hulk, because the madder he gets the stronger he gets.  By that logic, I’m under the impression that his power level (such as it is) reaches something very close to infinity.  Failing that?  I’d guess Jean Grey, since she’s got the power of Phoenix/Dark Phoenix inside her, and years of Marvel 3 dominance suggest she’s one to be feared.  Failing that?  Doctor Strange.  If his power is to cast spells, then in the hands of a loose cannon writer with nothing to lose, all Strange would have to do is read up a bit to find just the right spell to solve the problem at hand.  Since his stories have (to my knowledge) pitted him against outer-dimensional super-beings, I’d say that that’s kind of a necessity.

So that poses a unique challenge for Marvel Studios.  How do you bring a character whose power is, theoretically, all of the powers into the MCU?  True, it’s not as if he starts out as a mystic god-slayer in his big debut (it is an originstory, after all), but since the execs are playing the long game on multiple fronts, there’s a possibility that Doctor Strange will be dramatically more powerful in his next appearance.  How do you balance future movies around that?  How do you balance this movie around that?

Time will tell what the future holds.  But for now?  I’d argue that the strongest Marvel hero is actually the weakest Marvel hero -- and the movie’s better for it.

Mystic Sword!  Bolts of Balthakk!  Spell of Vishanti!  SPOILERS OF THE FALTINE!
You know, one day soon I’m going to run out of ways to reference Marvel 3.  Today’s not that day, especially since one player managed to score a big win with a Doctor Strange/Phoenix Wright/Captain America team.  That’s my (theoretical and barely-explored) team, damn it!

November 10, 2016

Doctor Strange: A Beard’s Origin Story (Part 1)

Doctor Strange makes me ask a lot of questions, but that’s not a fault of the movie.  I suspect that I know more about him than the average Joe, if only because I played a couple of the Marvel Ultimate Alliance games way back when.  That was basically my first real exposure to the doctor, and I was entranced by his antics -- like teleporting all over the place after spinning like Wonder Woman on a turntable, or transforming enemies into highly-destructible boxes (with the added, if not game-breaking effect, of dishing out extra health).  In the time since, I’ve tried to learn more about him; my knowledge is still surface-level, but I feel like I’ve been rewarded for my efforts.

Doctor Strange is a cool character.  I’ve thought that for a while now -- and there was a time in my life when I would ask with wide, glittering eyes “When are we getting a Doctor Strange movie?”  While I wouldn’t say I’ve dreamed of this moment, I’ve been excited to see what Marvel Studios can put out.  By extension, there are questions that I had (and still have) about the movie.  Chief among them: how do you bring Doctor Strange onto the big screen?  And, you know, do a good job?

I’m not here to tell you if the movie’s good or bad.  I’m here to answer as many questions as possible in the context of what I’ve seen.  Sort out what works, what doesn’t work, and why.  If you’re interested, come along with me on this journey.  If not?  I don’t know.  Watch a Doctor Strange combo video.  Maybe you’ll pick up some new tech.

By the hoary hosts of SPOILERS! 
Side note: anyone looking forward to seeing the Seven Rings of Raggadorr is out of luck.  Sorry if that’s a deal-breaker, but as a consolation prize?  ASTRAL MAGIC CONFIRMED.

November 7, 2016

RE: Doctor Strange

I think the highlight of my Sunday was showing my brother a picture of Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, telling him that he blows into game cartridges to power up his special move, and watching his strained, despair-riddled reaction.  I consider it sweet revenge for him effectively dropping Final Fantasy 13-2 into my lap once upon a time.

Huh?  This isn’t a post about Kamen Rider or Final Fantasy?  It’s about a recent Marvel movie?  Who cares about that?

…Okay, let’s talk about Doctor Strange.  Via a lickety-split post.  No spoilers, so come on down.

October 31, 2016

Shower Thoughts with Stardust Crusaders (Part 1)

Here’s an important question right off the bat: what is the difference between the Stands in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders and the Personas from Persona 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1?

They’re extremely similar, so I don’t blame anyone for getting confused by the two.  Men and women tap into a mix of psychological and spiritual power to summon crazy-looking warriors to fight on their behalf.  Only a chosen few can manifest them; the rest are lucky to even see them.  Unreal powers are slung around as easily as a softball in a pickup game of catch.  They’ve been the centerpieces of multiple fighting games.  They’ve experienced no shortage of popularity over the years, if not a surge in fan interest.  Honestly, I’d say that at this point, the fact that there’s no dedicated JoJo X Persona game is an affront to every deity imaginable.  Magician’s Red vs. Take-Mikazuchi?  Come on, that’s easy money.

It should go without saying, but I’m a fan of both franchises -- and it just so happens that I’ve been grinding my way through as much JoJo as possible over the past few months.  As a result, I’ve finally done what thousands (if not millions) of fans have done already, and completed Part 3 -- Stardust Crusaders.  And now I can tackle the question for myself.  Not the question of “is this any good”, oh no.  (Though I’ll be doing that anyway at some point.)  No, I think it’s time for me to split hairs on an ultimately inconsequential issue.

I have a theory -- a shaky theory, but a theory nonetheless.  The Personas are what you really are deep down.  The Stands are what you want to be…but fail to be regardless.

October 27, 2016

Top 10(ish) Cool Video Game Ladies -- ACT II

Okay, so quick show of hands: who here thinks that the gaming industry has improved recently?

I know it may seem otherwise with every other post I write, but I’m glad to argue that there’s been progress.  Indie titles are doing the lord’s work, as usual.  Some of the biggest releases of the last year or two have tried to push the envelope in various ways.  There’s innovation to be truly excited about; would you ever have guessed that Nintendo, of all companies, would release an online multiplayer shooter and instantly have it become a success?

Yes, things are better than they were.  But of course, they could be even better.  There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done on multiple fronts, with the treatment (or even usage) of female characters well among them.  We want a better future, and people are trying to get there however they can.  That’s true even if some days it seems like “progress” is made while seemingly wearing a suit of armor during a triathlon.

But in order to see where we’re going, we have to know where we’ve been.  So it’s time to do something I’ve never, ever done before…except for the last time I did it.

October 24, 2016

Do Me a Solid: Multiplayer Game Arrange

So did you know that The Wonderful 101 has a multiplayer mode?

I did.  I’ve known it for a while, in fact -- probably around the time it was first released, since it IS featured on the back of the box.  But this is a Platinum game we’re talking about, and I’d imagine that they’re not exactly famous for their multiplayer suites (Anarchy Reigns aside).  As a result, it came as an absolute shock to my brother and buddy that there was a 4-player multiplayer mode in the game -- and the latter barely even knew what The Wonderful 101 was.  So for the first time ever, all three of us got to see what it entailed…for the short time we actually sat down with it, but hey.  I’ll take it.

It’s not exactly an expansive mode, as far as I can tell.  If you’ve played the main game -- running through levels with a munchkin-sized squadron, and beating down aliens by building giant, supercharged weaponry -- then imagine that with up to three of your pals in a string of missions/score attack.  I had a blast with it, if only because it reminded me of how much I love the game (and need to replay it).  I have a hunch that my buddy had no idea what was going on for most of it, while dear old big brother seemed actively frustrated by it…though he got a kick out of using Unite Gun to shoot gangsta style.

Hopefully I can convince the two of them to play it again someday.  But more importantly?  I think it’s high time for me to build a bigger collection of multiplayer games -- and that’s where you come in.  Get hyped, maybe.

October 17, 2016

Hijacked by Politics -- ACT II

Well, I didn’t think I’d be doing this again so soon.

And why would I?  I don’t know politics.  I haven’t been paying attention to any of it until a few months ago, and I get the feeling I’ll go straight back to my natural state -- one of pure, blissful, drool-mouthed ignorance -- when this election cycle is over.  But it’s not over yet.  So that means that I’m checking the r/politics subreddit daily (sometimes multiple times a day) to check out the latest news.  Inevitably, that means I’ve got a pulse on one scandal after another, and one event after another.  I hardly even need to go that far; the debates thus far, AKA the most official of the official instances, have told me more than enough.

They’ve told me that this whole “race for the White House” is a mess.  Like…is this what politics have always been like?  One absurdity after another, featuring men and women in their 50s, 60s, or even 70s shouting at each other like they’re back on the playground and refusing to acknowledge that they got tagged?  Is it common to feel like no progress has been made and no understanding has been gained, to the point where legit issues get buried and people just end up trusting whoever they were going to vote for that much more?

I don’t know.  Then again, I guess it doesn’t bother me that much -- mostly because that stuff isn’t what this post is about.

*sigh* Let’s talk about Donald Trump.

October 13, 2016

Power Rangers Colon Movie Trailer Analysis for Blogging

All right, look.  Normally I wouldn’t do this sort of thing, because I’m pretty sure I’ve said in the past, in writing (or close enough to it) that I think trailers are bullshit.  They lie, they delude, they misrepresent, and more -- all for the sake of trying to strong-arm viewers into getting hyped.  And while there are some good trailers out there, too many of them nowadays aren’t.  Or maybe they’ll be great, but they’ll be much better than the actual movie/game/whatever coming up.  I’ve always thought it best to judge the actual product based on gathered information and reviews, weighted with personal inference -- and at some point, an actual, direct look at said product.

So I’m not usually one to get sucked into trailer hype.  And I’m also not the type to pour over every second or every frame to find some hidden clue that’ll “change everything”.  Honestly, just making this post feels like a dirty act; it’s like I’ve suddenly thrown away my dignity for a big dumb clickbait article (“This One Weird Trick Will Win Any Power Rangers Fan’s Heart!  Saban Hates It!”).  But as a tokusatsu fan to this day -- and beyond -- and as someone with more than a little interest in storytelling -- no matter the form -- I’m making an exception.  I feel compelled to weigh in, so I will.  Just this once.  Don’t get used to it.

Okay.  So here we go.

October 10, 2016

So How Good is Capcom, Really?

Well, the book’s officially been closed.  As of September 22nd, Street Fighter V has assembled all of its first-wave DLC characters.  It started off with Alex, went to Guile, gave us Ibuki and Balrog, dropped Juri, and now let players use the Illuminati executive Urien for the first time in well over a decade.  Unless you count Capcom Fighting Evolution (i.e. the game where Ryu fought a squid), but in terms of mainline releases?  Mr. Aegis Reflector is back to do what he does best: throw out energy walls and remain averse to clothes. 

But from what I’ve heard, Urien came with a less-than-welcome surprise for PC users.  Apparently, an anti-cracking (i.e. anti-cheating) measure was included, and it involved giving the game kernel access.  So on top of causing game-breaking bugs, it would’ve been entirely possible for said game -- and Capcom by extension -- to control a person’s PC; more importantly, it would’ve let the baddies in the online space exploit the game to reap whatever they wanted.  Not exactly ideal, that -- so it’s no wonder that Capcom rolled that back near-instantly.  That’s good news, I guess, but it makes you wonder why they did it in the first place.  Incompetence?  Laziness?  Panic?  Contempt for their fans?

I don’t want to think the worst of Capcom.  But, sadly, it looks like that’s the world we live in now.

October 6, 2016

On the Mysterious Waif (and Friends)

Against my better judgment, I decided to try and play Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness again.


…Didn’t go well, guys.  Didn’t go well.

October 3, 2016

Who’s the Sexiest Character in Gaming?

Not to start this post off with a controversial opinion, but I have to be honest: I think underboob is the worst thing ever.

It’s fine if other people like it, of course.  But for me?  It actively makes anything it’s attached to demonstrably worse.  I remember when BlazBlue was first bumping around and it revealed squirrel girl Makoto in her school uniform -- pretty OK, more or less.  But then when her combat form was revealed for her stint in Continuum Shift -- notably, as one of the very first DLC-specific fighters -- she showed off no shortage of underboob.  And I thought, “I’m done with this character.”

It just strikes me as trashy -- and tryhard, while we’re at it.  It’s an unnatural attempt to get a rise out of others, with means that are entirely unnecessary.  Like, we can all agree that breasts of any kind are fine on their own, right?  Why go out of your way to highlight them in such an awkward way?  Or is it just a means to show that the woman in question doesn’t know how to wear clothes?  Either way, I think it’s the worst.  I’m pretty biased, though, thanks to that one time on the night of a full moon.

But let’s not dwell on it.  Let’s talk about sexy characters instead.

September 29, 2016

Shower Thoughts with Frozen and Star Wars

Okay, quick question to start things off: are the Star Wars prequel movies still canon?

Well, a cursory Google search -- and requisite findings -- suggests that they are.  Apparently, it was only the Expanded Universe that got booted into the Sarlacc pit; I can’t say that I was a diehard consumer of that fiction, but I can understand why anyone would get unthinkably salty at the thought of it.  How many good stories in there suddenly lose their impact because executives from on high decreed “lol, nope”?  Granted those stories still exist, so the sting is lessened; on the other hand, the fact that the beloved prequels are still in place can’t have gone over well with some.

I know it’s a little late to ask this, because the deal’s long since been sealed.  But I’ve been thinking about it, because Rogue One had its trailer drop.  I was in no rush to watch it, but I managed to get over my apathy and give it a look -- and honestly, I think it looks fairly interesting.  Plenty of potential, for sure, so I’m hoping it goes well.  Granted there’s a dark part of me that wonders why there needs to be a prequel movie about taking down the Death Star (and to a lesser extent its origins) when we all know it gets summarily REKT in the canon on three separate occasions, but whatever.  That sure is a movie they’ve got on the way.

With that in mind, I’m WAY more interested in Frozen 2.  For…some reason.

September 26, 2016

Introducing: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Blogging

This is a post on JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, so that brings with it an immense responsibility.  Expectations.  A duty that must be fulfilled without question.

So I guess I’d better get cracking.  Let’s run through as many JoJo memes as possible right off the bat. 

September 22, 2016

Shower Thoughts with For Honor

Full disclosure: up until recently, I haven’t really cared about For Honor.  I saw its reveal trailer and thought it was fine -- something that’d find a home in the arms of gamers, but not something I was tripping over myself to play.  So all the news, articles, footage, and interviews that have likely gone up by this point?  My tactical dodge-rolling let me miss every last bit of it.  Am I richer or poorer for it?  Time will tell.

Conversely, my brother was decidedly amped up for it.  He’d bring it up in passing every now and then, in the same awed tone he’d used to show excitement for upcoming games he was sure wouldn’t let him down (like Destiny and The Division, both of which he dropped within 1.5 months).  But when it comes to hype, he’s no stranger to it.  So he announced one night that he got into the For Honor alpha -- through what I assume is a Faustian blood ritual vis a vis uPlay and the Ubisoft Club -- and invited me to try out the split-screen multiplayer.  It turned out that said split-screen wasn’t in the alpha (which I can’t say was a surprise), but we both had some hands-on time with it.

What do I think of it?  Who cares, baby?  There’s a bigger question at hand here: what’s Ubisoft’s endgame with this, uh, game?

September 19, 2016

Should Nintendo Keep Reviving its IPs?

I’ve mentioned this in passing, but I’ve got a buddy who asks me about the Nintendo NX pretty much every time we cross paths.  He’s not wrong for it; the house of Mario has been horrifically mum on the subject, and I’m at a point where I just want them to show it off.  There’s playing the cards close to the chest, and then there’s shoving them directly into your lungs -- at some point you’re just going to end up hurting yourself.  If Nintendo’s big reveal doesn’t sync up with the anticipation and speculation it’s been mongering for well over a year, then it might start the NX off on the wrong foot immediately -- which to be fair is something that Nintendo’s already learned in the past few years.

Still, I wish the Big N nothing but the best.  Even if the Wii U isn’t the most popular console, I’m extremely grateful for its existence.  In a world where the PS4 spent 2013 through the first quarter of 2015 floundering its way to millions of sold consoles, the Wii U won the moral victory with gusto.  It didn’t rely on unkept promises from marketing campaigns, and it didn’t coast on goodwill earned from the Xbone’s onstage seppuku.  It did the very best it could -- and still does today -- with what really matters: the games.

But now Nintendo’s opting for a do-over -- and I’m wary of what that means for the future.

September 15, 2016

RE: Ace Attorney

Real talk: I have no idea what jury duty means.  And at this rate, I doubt I ever will.

September 12, 2016

What if AAA Games Were Less Violent?

Confession time: up until a few days before its release, I didn’t know very much about No Man’s Sky.  From what I can gather, I wasn’t the only one; the narrative being spun around it is that the sheer vagueness of what you could do -- to the point where posts and articles had to be uploaded explaining the game -- made for a game that let you do pretty much everything.  I didn’t need that much from it, because the idea of going on a sick space adventure is something that personally appeals to me.  I did want to be an astronaut when I was seven, after all, and that burning desire to see space hasn’t left just yet.

But my desire to see space from the perspective of No Man’s Sky is -- well, it’s diminished.  I’m sure it’s all right, and that it’ll be updated into greatness somewhere down the line.  Likewise, I’m so glad it exists as a potential first step, and I hope some real good comes from it in the future.  But when I see clips like this one floating around, it’s hard for me to get too excited.  And then I remember that I’ve still got infinity hours left to parse through in Xenoblade Chronicles X, the content of which is still providing me with stuff I never even knew I wanted.  (Whenever “Uncontrollable” has its chorus go full tilt, my whole body basically goes “das it mane”.)

Still, No Man’s Sky has gotten me thinking about what games can be.  Of course, it hasn’t accomplished that alone.  I have Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End to “thank” as well.

September 8, 2016

Let’s discuss Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (FINALE).

[heavy drinking intensifies]

Let me ask you something: why is Sam in this game?

No, seriously.  Why is Sam in this game?

[remorse intensifies]

September 5, 2016

A Super Wonderful Cross-Promotional Post

In the immortal words of the (still-living) Chef Gordon Ramsay, I’m going to do something I’ve never, ever done before.  You see, I’m in the habit of uploading posts here on Cross-Up as well as onto the community blogs of gaming site Destructoid.  It doesn’t happen super-often -- less than 1/7th of the content here has gone there -- but it’s nice to give my posts some extra play on a gaming site of some renown.

In any case, some of the posts there are specifically tailored for Destructoid and its audience.  That’s a pretty rare occurrence, but it has happened before.  This is one of those cases; having hit a major milestone there, I decided to take time out to thank the community.  And since I’m me, that “thanks” ended up becoming a 3,000-word post that made a general statement about The Wonderful 101 (i.e. why it’s so friggin’ good).  There’s some substance to unpack in that post -- so much so that I didn’t want to just leave it there on Dtoid.  So!  Instead of uploading a different post here, I’m linking back to that post and having you read content there instead.  Don’t worry; this probably won’t happen often.  Just think of this as the first official Cross-Up field trip.

Click on this link to head on over and give it a read.  Or, alternatively, click on this link to see Overwatch and JoJo coming together in LITERALLY THE BEST way possible.

September 1, 2016

Let’s discuss Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (Part 2).

I know this is a post on Uncharted 4, but I feel like I should start off by mentioning Who Killed Captain Alex.

I saw it basically under the same circumstances that introduced me to Dinosaur Island -- i.e. “celebrating” the holidays with bad movie night.  But even though I went in expecting the worst, I found myself getting into the movie.  The story behind it is bizarre, to say the least, and that’s before you get into the actual movie -- which to put it simply is a Ugandan kung fu murder mystery.  Despite that (and the utterly absurd “dub”), I couldn’t help but grasp characters, motivations, and themes.  It was as much about “mortal combat” as it was about understanding the impact of the late captain, and what it meant to exact revenge for him and those closest to him.  Coupled with the sincere effort and energy infused into the film, it’s hard not to feel a sense of admiration.

Even if Who Killed Captain Alex is held together by pocket change, used floss, and a whole lot of hope, it still manages to impart something on an audience.  No matter how deep of a read you make, there’s still something to enjoy -- something to respect despite (or maybe because of) the pitiful visuals.  So while it is technically a bad movie, it doesn’t quite come across as one.  Why?  Because it’s proof that it doesn’t take much to win people over.  It doesn’t take much to win me over, even if my posts have suggested otherwise over the years.  Good stories come in many forms, regardless of the money or resources poured into it.  Still, that’s the immutable end goal: to tell a good story with the means available to you.

So here we are with A Thief’s End.  And disagree if you will, but I’m convinced that it either has a terrible story, or one so baffling that even now I have yet to grasp it.  And this is coming from someone who could grasp Who Killed Captain Alex.

August 29, 2016

Who’s the Biggest Badass in Gaming?

And by “biggest” I mean most prominent or obvious -- not necessarily in terms of scale.  If that was the case, then we’d all have no choice but to give it to…I don’t know, Wyzen from Asura’s Wrath.  And that hardly seems like a win, so let’s not count it.

Anyway, King of Fighters XIV has long since started making the rounds.  Say what you will about the graphics or the way it looks -- and even if you don’t, I probably will at some point -- but let’s just be thankful that we’ve even gotten a fourteenth entry.  I wonder how much this miracle was expedited by SNK’s purchase by a Chinese company looking to get the most out of the license; it might be a lot, and it might be a little.  Either way, we’re talking about a franchise that in recent years has paled in comparison to the competition (by which I mean Street Fighter IV, V, and other Capcom ilk).  It’s not like there isn’t a dedicated fanbase -- and rightly so -- but SF’s iron grip puts KoF in a less than ideal place.

It’s fine, though.  Even if it’s not the most popular, I don’t think anyone’s going to fight me on its quality over the years.  KoF XIV is no exception.  Even if its particulars can scare off newcomers, those who put in the effort are justly rewarded.  Of course, that’s a lot of fancy talk and sidestepping around the real draw: boy, KoF has some dope-ass characters.  So let’s take a minute to celebrate what kind of badasses video games can birth -- en route to the big question, of course.

August 25, 2016

Let’s discuss Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (Part 1).

So I finally beat Uncharted 4.

Some people live their dreams
Some people close their eyes
Some people's destiny
Passes by

There are no guarantees
There are no alibis
That's how our love must be
Don't ask why

It takes some time
God knows how long
I know that I can forget you

As soon as my heart stops breaking
As soon as forever is through
I'll be over you



August 22, 2016

I Hraet You Xrd: Revelator

*loads up blog one day*

*stares at header*

You know, I wonder how many people know who that purple-haired guy is supposed to be.  I mean, they should if they clicked on the I Hraet You tab instead of just looking for more Final Fantasy posts.  Then again, I guess it’d help if I uploaded some more chapters.  Maybe give them a reason to read through my wares.

Speaking of which, wasn’t I supposed to upload those chapters at some point?

Speaking of which, wasn’t I supposed to write more chapters?

*stares at screen*


August 18, 2016

Let’s discuss Street Fighter V: A Shadow Falls (Part 2).

Here’s a common question: do stories matter in video games?

Anyone who’s familiar with me or my work will know that my immediate answer is “YES, YOU IDIOT!”  Granted they’re not essential for every game out there, but in a lot of cases they’re as important to a game as the actual gameplay -- which makes it all the more infuriating when, say, Final Fantasy’s narrative does a swan dive into a chunk of concrete.  So by extension, the story in fighting games matter too, and for multiple reasons.  It’s a chance to enrich our understanding of our mains.  It’s a way to add something special to the franchise, while treating fans old and new.  And for those whose fingers are too leaden to toss out a V-Trigger cancel combo, there’s still something to enjoy,

I understand why people have written off the A Shadow Falls story, both pre- and post-release.  It hurts to admit that it’s not very good, but I know that SF as a whole will thrive because of its ever-enduring, ever-evolving gameplay.  Here’s the thing, though: even if it’s flawed, the new story mode is still important for three reasons.  One: if we keep declaring that “stories in games don’t matter”, then the bigwigs are going to take that lesson to heart and we’ll get more overpriced, short-lived multiplayer-only releases.  Two: considering all the touting Capcom did of its story, it demands to be judged accordingly -- so that everyone, devs included, can see the pros and cons for future reference (and improvement).  Three: even if there’s a lot to wince over in the story, there is absolutely a lot to enjoy.

I was pretty harsh in the last post.  But now it’s time to go over some of the good stuff.

August 15, 2016

Hijacked by Politics.

If you’ve been keeping up with this blog for even a few weeks, you may be well aware that I try to focus on fiction.  Games, movies, TV shows, stuff like that -- the stories that circulate throughout our world, what’s good about them, what’s bad, and the general concepts worth taking away.  I’ll be the first to admit that there’s a pretty strong lean towards gaming, though -- whether it’s putting the industry under the microscope, or taking shots at Final Fantasy again (which I’ve found attracts readers faster than a mound of poop the size of a rhino attracts flies).  But you don’t even need to be a longtime reader to know what I do.  Just look at the header.  Look at the layout.  Cripes, the titles for all of the sidebar widgets are references to Street Fighter.

So it’s not like I have either interest or experience in talking about real-world stuff via this blog.  I know where my expertise lies, and it’s not with politics.  But just this once, I’m going to make an exception -- a “break glass in case of emergency” sort of post.  If you’ve been keeping up with the news -- or more specifically, the fight to claim the White House for the next four years -- then you know what’s up.  If you don’t?  Maybe I’m being ignorant here, but…is it just me, or does this presidential race sound like something that’d make for a pretty striking (if bizarre) story?

I guess it’s like they say (the back half of which is now a major motion picture): truth is stranger than fiction.

August 11, 2016

Let’s discuss Street Fighter V: A Shadow Falls (Part 1).

Whew.  It’s been a while, but here we are again with Street Fighter 5 -- almost half a year after its initial release, as of writing.

You know, it’s funny.  A year ago I did a post aimed at trying to predict what sort of content Street Fighter 5 would have in its story mode -- the place of the Dark Hadou, the presence of Necalli, et cetera, et cetera.  And it served as a stark reminder that, yes, I write stuff on the internet.  That’s kind of a given since I have a blog, but I doubled down by uploading that post to Destructoid -- which led to it being shared on Reddit, which led to it popping up on EventHubs, of all places.  (Or it could’ve hit EventHubs first, and then went to Reddit.  God only knows.)  It’s always heartwarming to know that people have the chance to watch me make an idiot out of myself.  Like, c’mon, man.  Using the wiki as a “credible” source?  Get on the level, bro.

August 8, 2016

Ranking the Kamen Rider Seasons (Part 2)

So the other day, I asked myself a question: why do I like Kamen Rider?

Call it a crisis of faith, I guess.  It’s easy to get caught up in something and follow it out of some unspoken sense of obligation -- like you’re just going through the motions, because “I did the thing once, so I might as well do the thing again.”  I’m pretty sure I’ve typecast myself as some kind of Rider fanatic, given how many times I slip allusions, images, and even secret references into my posts.  (To say nothing of the posts actually about Kamen Rider.)  In a perfect world, people would pay more attention to that stuff instead of huddling around the campfire when I upload a post on Final Fantasy/Kingdom Hearts/the madhouse that is Squeenix.  But I digress.

Pared down to basics, I like KR because I like heroes.  And not to get maudlin or pitiable, but it’s a safe bet that I needed to see heroes in my life.  After all, it’s probably not a coincidence that I started seriously getting into the franchise in the same year -- 2013 -- that I went through some major personal losses.  Beyond that, I had to deal with the frustration of having my own works -- my writing, my dreams, and my own batch of heroes -- rejected to the point where I scrapped and rebooted years of work.  Beyond that, it seemed like fiction in the western world had basically given up on heroes.  Man of Steel turned Superman into a braindead whirlwind of destruction and angst.  The Walking Dead became a hit with a cast of survivors barely a cut above the zombies they routinely shot in the head.  I…I don’t even want to talk about DmC.

I’ll argue that the world needs heroes -- even, if not especially fictional -- but I’ll also acknowledge that that’s some top-tier projecting.  I need heroes.  KR delivered, again, and again, and again.  And that’s why I’m here today once again, as a fan, and as a spokesperson.  These are my Top 4 picks of the franchise thus far.

August 4, 2016

Ranking the Kamen Rider Seasons (Part 1)

Confession time: I was tempted to go on Twitter and make a joke about the recently-revealed Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, but decided against it.  I didn’t want to risk accidentally spoiling the new Rider’s look and/or plot details for those who actually care about spoilers.  Or Kamen Rider in general, which to be fair I’m not 100% sure any of my Twitter followers actually care about.  But hey, better safe than sorry.

Then again, I’m kinda-sorta spoiling it via this post, soooooo…safety is for yellowbellies, I guess.

I’ll be honest.  I had a pretty violent reaction to Ex-Aid’s look -- i.e. the gaudiest mix of colors combined with some design choices that make me tilt my head far enough to shatter my neck.  “Oh no.  What were they thinking?” I thought.  I couldn’t help myself.  But armed with the knowledge that Ex-Aid will have different forms -- and that the true quality of the season will come from the story and action -- I’m at peace with it.  I’ll give it a fair shake when the time comes.  Until then, though?  I think it’s about time I do something personal.

I’ve seen more than my fair share of Kamen Rider over the years.  And after putting some thought into it, I’ve decided to sort each season into a list -- so without further ado, here’s my take on The Top 8 3/5ths Kamen Rider Seasons.  Because, well, that’s as far as I’ve gotten so far.  And now that there’s a fraction in there, you know you’re in for a good time.

August 1, 2016

So How Good Were the 80s, Really?

Wait.  Should it be “How Good Are the 80s?”  Or is it okay for past tense?  I mean, it is literally the past we’re talking about here.  But we’re talking about it in the present and the context therein soooooooooooo…

Ah, forget it.  I’m done thinking about it already.

So anyway.  I’m pretty sure that if you’ve got a working set of eyes and ears, you know that Ghostbusters has made it back into theaters.  Again.  And as preferable (if not easy) it would be for everyone to just let it come and go, it’s been mired in controversy for months on end thanks to the less-than-ideal trailer and the boat-rocking by some Sony executives -- itself helped by the clash of opinions in nerd culture.  Now that people have actually gotten to see it, results have been “mixed”, as far as I can tell.  It had a good score on Rotten Tomatoes, which implies that a fair number of critics gave it their blessing.  On the other hand, plenty of internet/YouTube personalities have effectively loaded the new movie with bullets.  We’ll see what happens when the dust clears, especially in terms of money-making power (which is probably why Ghostbusters has been trotted out again in the first place).

But I’m not here to talk about Ghostbusters, because everyone else already has.  I have a more important question in mind.  Any guesses as to what it is, person who read the title of the post?

July 28, 2016

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE: Do You Remember Love? (Part 2)

I would be remiss if I didn’t start this post off with a story about Yourself.

No, I’m not talking about you.  I’m talking about Yourself, a girl I happened to meet when I was in kindergarten.  At the time, she was (presumably) a year older than me, but other than that she seemed normal.  Brown hair, brown eyes, freckles -- not exactly someone who’d stand out in a crowd.  But the thing about Yourself was that she had a certain verbal tic: as far as I could tell, she would end every sentence with the word “yourself”.  Say hello to her, and she’d say “Hello yourself.”  Moo like a cow and she’d go “Moo yourself.”  At one point I was walking through the school halls and spotted some art from her class; sure enough, I spotted a piece with Yourself’s name in the corner, written in the black ink of a Sharpie.  Permanently etched into green construction paper.

Since my family packed up and moved to a different town (and, you know, because I was six), I never got around to learning the full story behind Yourself.  Maybe she was just being cute and sassy, and tagging all of her sentences with that single word.  Maybe there was legitimately something wrong with her.  Maybe her parents had terrible naming sense, and spamming that word was to be their penance.  No matter the origin, I wonder about the end result: what’s life like for her now if she hasn’t dropped the tic?  Is it a waking nightmare, or proof that she lives by her own rules?  The mind boggles.

I just thought I’d tell that story because it’s so bizarre it’s actually kind of entertaining -- unlike getting tangled up in Tokyo Mirage Sessions “censorship” again.  So let’s do this lickety-split.

July 25, 2016

Who’s the Best Superhero Ever?

So both Captain America: Civil War and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice have made the rounds in the past few months.  One of them is great; one of them is not so great.  Still, they do represent an important talking point: even though superhero movies have been around for a good while now, they still have enough clout and momentum to stay self-sustaining, at least for a while yet (and more for the Marvel camp than, say, Fox, Warner Brothers, or Sony).  We’re bound to see more of them, obviously.  There are detractors, and they have a good point -- we’re at risk of oversaturation, for sure -- but hey.  Maybe we’ll get a good Doom Patrol movie out of WB, so that my dream of seeing Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man on the big screen can finally be fulfilled.

That does bring up something worth discussing, though.  Obviously, the Marvel movies (and others) have brought once-obscure characters into the spotlight, and pretty successfully; where would Iron Man be if not for the efforts of Robert Downey Jr. way back when?  But I wonder how many people the movies are actually converting.  That is, how many people have gained enough interest in comics thanks to the movies to actually seek out these heroes in their natural habitat?  How many people who weren’t already down with stuff like Asgard or the Infinity Gauntlet have even run a Google search?  Are people actually converting into true fans?

I’d imagine so, because the movies serve as condensed introductions.  But that leads to a follow-up question: who are people choosing to follow, and why?  Who’s captured their hearts and minds?  Who is the best superhero?

Okay, that’s like three questions (technically four), but whatever.  It’s for a good cause.

July 21, 2016

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE: Do You Remember Love? (Part 1)

Considering that Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE puts a lot of focus on Japan’s infamous idol culture, I was going to try and lead into it by talking about the recent anime series Macross Delta -- since it also leans deep into idol territory. The problem is that, even if I like the core concept of Macross/Robotech, I haven’t seen enough of it to be an authority.  And more importantly, I haven’t seen anything from Macross Delta besides complaints that it skews WAY too far in favor of idols/CD shilling, to the point where it cripples the show.  I don’t know if that’s a fair assessment, but for now I’ll switch to Plan B.

See, when I was in elementary school there was this special program that incentivized turning in stuff to the lost and found.  Even if it was just a few coins nicked from the playground, you could still be recognized for it on a bulletin board in one of the halls -- and better yet, potentially win prizes.  So by turning in some lost lunch money, I won a coupon for a free rental at the local video shop.  I thought that it meant I could get my hands on a new game, but the selection at said store was so limited I opted for a video instead.  And so it was that I discovered Macron 1.

Don’t worry.  I’m going somewhere with this.

July 18, 2016

RE: Final Fantasy XV

So it’s the middle of July right now, and Final Fantasy 15 is due out on September 30th.  In other words?  Oh God.  It’s almost time for another Final Fantasy game.

Right, then.  Let’s do the sensible thing and talk about Star Ocean.

July 14, 2016

Do Me a Solid: Hype Song Arrange

I find it vaguely hilarious that a short post from me is probably the equivalent of an extra-large blog post on the sites run by normal, reasonable, well-adjusted people.  But let’s not dwell on it.  Every once in a while, I need to do some quick posts -- and this is one of those times.

Why?  Uhhhhhhhhhh…there may be a slight chance that there are some technical difficulties going around.  Very slight.  Hopefully.

July 7, 2016

“Just Turn Your Brain Off!”

Welp.  The last horse has finally crossed the finish line.

Even though I’ve known about it for years, and even though people have urged me for just as long, I’ve finally taken the plunge and started watching JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure in earnest.  It’s not as if I hate the franchise, because even my formerly-shallow understanding of the Joestar bloodline’s exploits have told me “This is a thing I need to get into.”  I would’ve gotten into it sooner, but every time I tried, I did so with my tablet -- which I’ve found is not at all conducive to Crunchyroll usage.  Eventually it flat-out decided to say that it was incompatible with the site, so I did what I should’ve done ages ago and watched it on my PC.  Not all at once, mind, but over time.  Progressively, if and when I get the chance.  (Who’ll write stupidly-long posts, if not I?)

For the record, I’m all done with Part 1 (Phantom Blood) and Part 2 (Battle Tendency).  I’ve got an uphill battle ahead, considering that Part 3 (Stardust Crusaders) is longer than both of the first two parts combined.  Still, it’ll be worth it so I can get to Part 4 (Diamond is Unbreakable), AKA the part I’ve been hyped about for ages now.  I don’t know what’s wrong with the guys in-universe; I think Josuke’s hair is pretty cool…though I could be biased.  I’ve always had a soft spot for delinquent-type characters.

It goes without saying, but I’ll say more about JoJo in the future.  In fact, let’s go ahead and start now -- because there’s a topic tied to it that’s pretty important.  And it relates to video games, too!  And media in general, really.  Yeah, I’m seriously playing the magician here.