Saturday, January 28, 2017

Spoiler-ish Yu-Gi-Oh Dark Side of Dimensions Review

In a world that is eating nostalgia up faster than popcorn during movie theater trailer, it’s not surprising to see so many franchises from the past 20 years and longer trying to make some sort of comeback. Power Rangers is doing that this year, Digimon started celebrating their 15th anniversary a couple years ago, and we’ve already gotten 2 seasons of Fuller House on Netflix. So I was excited to see Yu-Gi-Oh’s 20th anniversary movie this weekend, but I was underwhelmed and disappointed.

So the concept is solid: Pharaoh Atem’s spirit has been released for a while, but Kaiba having the big head that he does can’t leave it alone. He is determined to bring the Pharaoh back and duel him to settle his score. Next enter a new villain who has a vendetta and of course Yugi ends up right in the middle of it. While I liked the concept (the idea of bringing the Pharaoh back was intriguing because both Yugi and Kaiba were struggling to come to terms with his departure), the actual execution of this plot was not well done. And then in the end it was all wrapped with a deus ex machina that didn’t even get an ounce of explanation. So while Yugi and Kaiba got closure, I didn’t.

One thing I liked about this movie was bringing back the entire
gang back together again. Regardless of my other critiques,
the characterization of each of these were on point.

In a way the plot and mechanics of the movie were a little over-complicated. Instead of just a villain and a vendetta, we got oodles of backstory that I didn’t even care about. I mean, some villain backstory is necessary, but I felt like we got too much. Besides all that, the villain’s method of dueling was bizarre. If it had been properly explained, it might have been fine. Instead, things were brushed over. Also there were a lot of new cards added (mostly support cards for Blue-Eyes and Dark Magician) that I knew nothing about, so I was lost as far as exactly what they were doing. Granted, unlike in the TV show, the effects were written on the cards, but I don’t think split second shots to read card effects is sufficient.

Speaking of cards, I also didn’t care for the redesign of some of the cards. Dark Magician and Obelisk the Tormentor looked way too different from the original anime. Now if 100% of the cards had changed, I’d have been more okay with it. Instead, Dark Magician Girl and others looked exactly the same. I don’t know if it was to make the tone of the movie darker or what, but I didn’t care for it much. I certainly didn’t care for the inconsistency.

Dark Magician was the same in the card, so
why did the hologram change?

I’m also a bit sick of Kaiba’s overly prideful attitude. He’s always been obnoxious and a jerk (and a bit delusional), but I’d have thought after his experience in the Memory World and the final duel between Yugi and Atem (granted, that only happened in the anime, not the manga) that he’d be a bit humbler. Nope, instead he developed a god complex as he developed his new tech. Like I said, delusional.

One final critique: As much as this movie tried to tie up some loose ends regarding Bakura and Shadi and giving closure to Yugi and Kaiba, it left me with more questions, regarding the nature of the Millennium Items, the fate of the Pharaoh, and Shadi’s past (never mind that ending). I understand that this movie wasn’t planned when the original story was written, but the added details didn’t sit too well with me. It felt like there was inconsistencies in the story…. And having been a huge fan of Once Upon a Time and Lost, I have proven that I can handle inconsistencies and plot holes.

The movie had some good themes. The idea of fear and hate not being able to fix anything or make a better world is perfect for our world today. Like I said in a previous post, I see a lot of us vs. them going on (and Facebook is just a small microcosm of that) and it’s not going to solve anything in the world. A world of peace CANNOT be created through fear and anger.

As much as I have my issues with this movie, it was nice
to see Yugi finally face Kaiba all on his own.

Honestly, if this movie had been a trilogy or something, it might have been better, kind of like how Digimon is doing six movies for Digimon Adventure Tri. If we’d had more time, we could have gotten used to Dimension Duels and we could have had more time to develop the villain and we wouldn’t have had to rush through the duels we had.

All in all, there was nothing wrong with the movie… just hard to follow and process. Maybe if I watch it a second time I’ll feel differently, but I was frustrated enough with this that I’d rather not buy the movie. I’d rather watch one of the other two movies (“Pyramid of Light” or “Bonds Beyond Time”); they’re not perfect, but they were a lot more self-contained than this one.

Anyway, I’m done ranting. If you’ve seen “Dark Side of Dimensions”, let me know what you think. Would you recommend it? Do you disagree with me or am I on point?

Monday, January 9, 2017

Pokemon Lessons: Us vs. Them

It’s been 2 months since the Presidential Election and I have tried to be consciously quiet about it on my Facebook, on here, and on my personal blog. I have my opinions on the election like all people, of course. However, I think the bigger problem with the election and the world in general is the us vs. them mentality. Democrats vs. Republicans. Conservatives vs. Liberals. Gays vs. Straights. Christians vs. Muslims. DC vs. Marvel. Digimon vs. Pokemon. The list could go on, but here’s where I get deep.

Remember when we were younger and The First Pokémon movie came out? We were all excited about this theatrical release of such a fundamental part of our childhood. I remember going in psyched for Mewtwo, who was supposed to be the strongest Pokémon ever (that’s sort of changed now, but Mewtwo is still pretty awesome). Never mind the fact that we were treated to Charizard, Venusaur, and Blastoise all together. However, do you remember the crucible moment for Mewtwo? Do you remember those deep moments that have brought people to tears?

If you remember, Meowth was cloned by accident, while Team Rocket was snooping around the castle. When all of the super clones were released by Mewtwo and ordered to battle their counterparts, Meowth was initially freaked out because he thought he’d be attacked. But instead his clone was a passivist (how did that happen?). The benefit of having a talking Pokémon there is that we got one of the deepest exchanges I’ve seen in the Pokémon anime:

“We do have a lot in common. The same air, the same Earth, the same sky. Maybe if we started looking at what's the same instead of always looking at what's different ...well, who knows?”

I’ve said it before with issues that, in my opinion, have more eternal significance than an election, but the biggest problem facing us right now isn’t a political party or a candidate or a group of people. Instead, the biggest problem facing us now is hate.

The Savior commanded us to “love one another” (John 13:34). This wasn’t a flippant comment and it’s not just an easy cool one-liner. It’s more than just a primary song that we learned to sign when we were little. He really lived this way. Personally I know I need to love more. I mean, Christ was able to forgive the soldiers who killed Him and despite being betrayed by Judas, He showed no ill-will towards him. Can you honestly picture the Savior saying anything like what gets put on Facebook all too frequently?

I see it all the time: “Liberals want this and we can’t stand for it as conservatives” or “Conservatives have caused this problem because of this and as liberals we have to stand up to them”. First off, I don’t care for all-encompassing comments about any group (because no two people have exactly the same opinion anyway) but how is this making things any better? Sure I could pull a Donna Noble and complain about everything to try to make my life better, but it really doesn’t do anything. I spend way too much time complaining and being mad at people. It only rips me apart and pushes me further away from God. As much as I detest New Years Resolutions (because I think they’re a joke), this would be a good resolution to make: less complaining, less dividing, and more loving.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Joe's Top 10 Video Games of 2016

I know I know, everyone's doing a top 10 whatever list of 2016, but whatever I'm doing one anyway.
Fair warning: I tried to keep this list to games I bought in 2016, which wasn't a lot, so this list is basically "Games Joe Bought in 2016 and Why He Liked Them, but I still think they're worth talking about.

Okay let's do this.

10: No Man's Sky
I won't go into the three ring nightmare the PR for this game ended up being, since you can find that on any gaming website, suffice it to say that we were literally promised the sun moon and stars and were given the last level of Spore with a graphics upgrade. That being said, I loved the last level of Spore so this game was a blast for me. If not for the insane amount of grind and the hard crashes, this game would be higher on my list, but since this game won't be seeing a lot of top ten lists, I think 10 is a good spot for it.

9: Magic Duels
While this game came out in 2015, I personally didn't start playing it till 2016, but when I did I played it a LOT. If you're into Magic: The Gathering this game is a must, as it follows all the core rules and keeps up with the expansions as it comes out. The game is free to play on Steam and does offer the option to pay for additional boosters and decks but 70+ hours in and I nearly have all the sets without paying a dime. This game is also great for those who enjoy playing Magic: The Gathering but aren't as keen to deal with talking to other players, since in the PVP there is no chat. Check it out if you're a Magic: The Gathering fan or trying to become one.

8: The Curious Expedition
I was so excited when this game finally went on sale and I could buy it. This is a great game for anyone who's a fan of Kipling, Indiana Jones, or even a little Lovecraft. You play a world famous explorer (Or H.P. Lovecraft) and lead an expedition into the unknown all around the world. While the levels can feel a bit samey, even on different continents, the game play of exploring maps and seeing what's just beyond the draw distance is enough to keep any explorer engaged. The turn based dice combat takes a second to get used to, but once you do it's like playing a very aggressive form of Yhatzee.

7: Far Cry Primal
In my "Not Suitable for All Audiences" category we have Far Cry Primal: a cave man sandbox game. I thought the masculine power fantasy in video games was solely focused on guns but there's nothing like leaping from a cliff with spear in hand onto an unaware Neanderthal in nothing but a loin cloth and war paint to make you feel all sorts of manly-then try doing it in a video game! Plus you get to train saber-tooth tigers to do your bidding so my cat got a kick out of the game as well.

6: Gems of War
So this game came out in 2014 which pretty much makes this a retro review but since this year I clocked in over 80 hours I think its time to talk about it. The game is a hybrid of Magic the Gathering and Candy Crush where you build and upgrade a team to take on other people's team through color matching combat. The game carries the same addicting quality of Candy Crush where you just want to try one more game but find yourself still up at 1 AM looking for a fight. Gems of War is free on Steam so give it a look but make sure your well hydrated and ready for a new addiction before you do.

5: Stardew Valley
This year's indie darling, Stardew Valley is a throwback to the Harvest Moon games with the addition of also being able to fight monsters. As far as improvements go, any game without the ability to fight monsters can benefit from fighting monsters so this game was a winner in my book. Building your own farm and maintaining the plants and animals has honestly never been so much fun, and the top-down 2D controls is so much better than the clunky 3D-ifying the Game Cube tried to pull in the day that made it look like you were trying to grow balloon animals. Have a go at it if you long for the simple life but can't afford to move to rural Wisconsin.

4: Darkest Dungeon
Officially released this year, I was playing this thing all the way back in early access. The game is the typical rogue-like with the twist that the horrors and fighting your adventurers face can have a toll on their sanity, making them contract afflictions like addiction and paranoia if you don't keep an eye on them. The game is a dark Cthuhluesque adventure set in an 1800s backdrop, giving the feeling of watching a black-and-white horror movie while playing Dungeons and Dragons on a rainy night.

3: Worlds of Final Fantasy
No, this is not Final Fantasy XV. Frankly I decided to skip on that since it looked like the goth clique of a high school was having an Entourage style road trip, but Worlds is a whole different kettle of fish. Set in a wacky mix of Final Fantasy worlds, the game allows you to collect classic Final Fantasy monsters and train them like Pokemon, up to and including evolving them. The game play is fun, the story is funny in a self-referential fourth-wall Deadpool sort of way. The only reason this game isn't higher up is because the support character grated on my spine right out of the gate and there's no way to Old Yeller it in the starting area.

2: World of Warcraft: Legion
While not a full game, most expansions to WOW can be classified as stand-alone games given the amount of content they add,
and Legion is no exception. I immediately made a new Demon Hunter character and jumped right into the Legion expansion and quickly found myself falling in love with the game all over again. The massive demon invasions leading up to launch made it feel like the world was in peril on an epic scale and the coordinating quest was interesting and varied enough to keep my interest and never wore out its welcome in length. This game earns the #2 spot on my list because of all these I still predict its the game I'm going to dump the most hours into.

1: Pokemon Moon
With every addition the Nintendo gang tries to mix up the formula with the Pokemon franchise and this time they not only mixed it up but added diced pineapple to the batch. Set in a Hawaii inspired Aloha region, the game throws out the conventional 8 gym leader model in favor of puzzles and tests that truly challenge even the veteran Pokemon trainer. It honestly feels like every annoyance I ever had with the series has been either removed completely or revamped in a fun new way. My favorite example is the new Pokemon Uber system in the game (No I don't remember what it's called). What you have is a little device that you press to summon a Pokemon friend to you who will basically preform the functions HMs used to preform, from flight to rock smash to even just moving you faster so you don't even need the stupid bike or roller skates. This means you don't need to waste a slot on a Pokemon's moves to use an HM that can never be removed. It's also just a simple joy to jump on a Charizard and use fly right on his back.

What games did you love in 2016?


Monday, January 2, 2017

Good Geeky Things Coming in 2017

Happy New Year! Now that I’ve stayed up til midnight to celebrate 2017 beginning (side note: New Years is much more anticlimactic for me than it was as a kid; anyone else feel that way?), it’s time to look ahead (and away from 2016) at what the new year has for us Geeks. By no means is this a comprehensive list, but it’s what I’m looking forward to.

Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions (January 27)
A welcome addition to the Yu-Gi-Oh franchise, we’re gonna get a new adventure with Yugi, Kaiba, and the original Duel Monsters gang. If I understand correctly, it’ll be shortly after the end of the original anime series, after releasing the spirit of the Pharaoh. Not much was explicitly shown in the trailer, but I’m looking forward to seeing some of these original characters back, as well as some (likely) supped up versions of their classic monster cards.

Digimon Adventure Tri, Part 4: Loss (February 25)
I’ve gotten back into my childhood obsession of Digimon this past year, perfectly timed for Tri, the sequel to Digimon Seasons 1 and 2. Only Part 1’s dub “Reunion” was aired in US theaters this year, but all the way through Part 3 has been aired in Japan. Part 4, which I’m super excited for, is airing in February. Hopefully we’ll get the dub of Part 2 in American theaters soon as well.

Now while Disney is kind of copping out by rebooting all their animated features as live action remakes (Maleficent, Cinderella, Pete’s Dragon, etc.) I’m excited for this one. In large part it’s because of Emma Watson playing Belle. Now I’m sure the fact that she’s my top celebrity crush helps, but with how intelligent she is (not just as Hermione, but in real life as well), I think she makes the perfect Belle.

Iron Fist (March 17)
In addition to “Beauty and the Beast”, we’ll also have Iron Fist coming out on March 17. Since I’m still very much a n00b when it comes to Marvel Comics, I don’t know much about Iron Fist except that he’s the last new Marvel Netflix character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that will appear before he joins up with the others for “The Defenders” later in 2017, but more on that later.

Power Rangers (March 24)
After rewatching the original Power Rangers series recently (I’m currently working my way through Zeo and I’ll be into Turbo soon) it’ll be interesting to see the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers rebooted as new versions of themselves. This version seems a bit edgier, so that’ll be different from the goody-goody versions in the original. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa.

Doctor Who Series 10 (April)
After a year away from new Who, it’ll be great to get more Doctor Who soon. After watching the trailer that aired with the Christmas special last week, I’m a little skeptical of the new companion, Bill, but I’m willing to give her a shot. She seems a bit obnoxious, but if I handle Leela and Amy Pond, I can stomach Bill. Plus it’s speculated that she and Capaldi will only be together one season.

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2 (May 5)
It’s been a few years since Star Lord, Gamora, Drax, and Rocket teamed up for the first time. In just a few months we’ll see them back together again to guard the galaxy. I’m curious how this will lead up to “Avengers: Infinity Wars”. Maybe we’ll see another Infinity Stone? Definitely gonna get a bunch of Baby Groot at the very least.

Cars 3 (June 16)
I didn’t mind Cars 2, but I definitely didn’t expect a sequel. However, based on the trailers it looks like it’ll be a bit darker. I’m not sure what Pixar will be getting at, but I guess we’ll all see in time.

Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7)
After seeing Peter Parker in “Civil War”, it’ll be interesting to see him in his solo movie. However, based on the trailers it almost looks like it’ll be “Iron Man and Spider-Man” instead of “Spider-Man”. If that’s the case I’m a little skeptical, mostly because of how irresponsible Tony was with Peter’s safety in Civil War. But this won’t stop me from seeing it, even if I am skeptical.

The Inhumans (September 4)
This minority of the human population was first shown in Agents of SHIELD in Season 2. Now we’re about to get a series all about them. This makes it kind of unclear if Agents of SHIELD will be done after their current season or if “The Inhumans” will air separate from Agents of SHIELD. Regardless, the pilot of “The Inhumans” will air in IMAX theaters on September 4 before it airs on ABC.

Thor: Ragnarok (November 3)
After all the confusion of whatever was going on with Thor in “Age of Ultron”, it’ll be nice to get some explanation. In addition to all of that, we’ve got Hulk and Loki appearing. Should be interesting. Plus, in general, I can’t complain about getting a third new movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Star Wars Episode VIII (December 15)
After flashing back to Rogue One, we’re going jump forward 30+ years again to sequel “The Force Awakens”. I’d expect some one-on-one training with Luke and Rey, some space battles, some Kylo Ren tantrums, and hopefully a fitting goodbye to Leia. Maybe in post-production they can lay her to rest, as a fitting tribute to Carrie Fisher?

Besides all these, we also have “The Defenders”, “The Punisher”, some more DC movies, a rebooted “Duck Tales”, and TV series for “Tangled” and “Big Hero 6” to look forward to. What have I missed? What geeky stuff are you looking forward to this year? What is going to make 2017 great for you?

Side Note for any David Tennant fans: Did you see who will
be voicing Scrooge McDuck in the new "Duck Tales"?