Thursday, March 28, 2024

MegaMan X6 & My 11th Birthday

MegaMan fans talking about their favorite entries in the series, there is one game that pretty much NEVER makes the list. MegaMan X6 is the black sheep of the X series, and (along with X7) is typically said to be a game you should avoid. It was created behind Inafune's back when X5 was meant to be the original end, parts of the game was rushed, the level design is filled with brutally cheap death traps, the English translation has awkward grammar errors, and it's just generally considered to not be a good game. But for me, I have a different story to share when I think of X6. One that I never tell people, and is a little bit horrifying. Let's just say, this is the one time my life actually flashed before my eyes -- something I didn't even know was actually a real. Heck as I'm typing this it's getting hard to breath, but I'll push through it! This is my story.

When I was turning 11 years old, there was only one thing I wanted for my birthday. MegaMan X6. I remember talking to my friends at school about X5, when my friend Keith mentioned that X6 had actually came out! I somehow had no idea this was a thing, but when he told me how it continued the story of X5, and that X now had Zero's sword (something that gets passed to him at the end of X5), I knew I had to play it. I loved X5, and I couldn't wait to play more continuing from where it left off! So I told my parents about it, and began my long wait for the day I could finally play it for myself. I still remember the day we found it at Toys R Us for sale, so it's not like I didn't know I was going to get it, it's just that my birthday wasn't until Summer... So the wait was annoying. But eventually the day came, and I was beyond excited!

I still remember walking up early in the morning, and my mom giving me the game early. I ripped open the package, ran back to my room, and popped the disc into my PS1 that was in the corner of my room. Man, that opening stage is still burned into my memory as if it were yesterday! Seeing X in his Falcon armor, being at the crash site of the space colony, having the Z-Saber, it was all just so amazing to me! The Japanese opening threw me off, sure, but I ended up loving that opening, and found myself enjoying what little time I had to play the game. My mom actually let me take my PS1 to my grandma's house though, so I'd be able to play it some more (sooner) after my party.

That year we had a swim party, and a lot of my friends and family members were there. It was a little cloudy outside, but being June it was still warm enough. I honestly can't remember everything we did that day, but I do remember there being a lot of water guns, us playing volleyball in the pool, and just having a fun time! I showed X6 off to my cousin for a little bit at one point, but that whole day was spent outside -- until something secretly happened to me.

I still don't know what actually happened, or why... It's kinda a blank to me, and thinking about it makes my eyes start to water... All I really remember is being underwater, sucking in... a lot... and not being able to get back up because of the rafts above me... With people on them? It's funny -- I remember thinking about a lot of different things in that moment. I was only 11, but there was so much to think back on... It felt like I was under there for hours, but what brought me back was hearing my cousin say something about moving. Next thing I know I was at the side of the pool spitting up water and pulling myself out. I think I went and threw up in the grass behind the fence, but everything going forward was a blur to me. I didn't let anyone know what happened, and I refused to get back into the pool after. I got dressed, and was "rude" sitting inside during my own party. X6 is actually what helped calm me down, but the effects of the whole thing have never gone away.

I love swimming, and still go swimming in my grandma's pool. It's one of my favorite things to do in the summer, and that hasn't changed since that day nearly 22 years ago. Being grabbed or dunked underwater on the other hand? No... I have a really hard time letting people touch me in the water. I've gotten better about it, but a part of me still has that fight or flight response and I can't really control it. When I think back to that day, I always try to remember X6 and not what happened, but both events will always be a part of me -- the good and the bad. 

As for X6, I did end up liking the game despite it's flaws. I enjoyed the armor sets, the story, characters like Dynamo, and in general just had fun with it. Sure there are parts I agree aren't that great, but it's still a game I do like to return to. Heck, there's a reason I'm at the top of the leader boards for Legacy Collection 2's Platinum Trophy -- I'm one of the few people who actually like the games in it enough to get the platinum! It's for sure a game that deserves criticism, but that doesn't change the fact that I like it, nor does it change the fact that it's special to me and something that helped me get past almost drowning. It means a lot to me actually, so I don't think I can ever get myself to jump on the hate train. Thank you MegaMan X6, thank you for helping me get through that day.

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Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name - Review

The Like a Dragon series has been going for quite some time now. Originally releasing back in 2005 as “Yakuza” in the West, the series was eventually rebranded “Like a Dragon” in the US to align with its original Japanese name. While this might cause confusion for some, long time fans know exactly what this is, and what to expect from it. Which is the thing — Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man who Erased His Name is going to be familiar territory for long time fans, and honestly something new fans might want to stay away from… Or at least, I recommend new fans stay away from it!

The thing is, Gaiden is basically part 7.5 in this long running series. LAD is basically a full on TV crime drama in video game form, with every game being a single “season.” The series current beginning is “Yakuza 0” which introduces us to our original main character Kiryu in the 80s, Yakuza Kiwami is a remake of the original and takes place in 2005, with each game following taking place around the year it released. Each of these stories mark major turning points in Kiryu’s life, and skipping a single one will leave you with plenty of questions about who this character is, and who these people are in his life. For example, Kiwami 2 sees Kiryu returning to the life of the yakuza after attempting to live a quiet life with his step daughter, Yakuza 3 sees him opening up an orphanage, and Yakuza 5 has his life get completely turned upside down for the sake of his family. Now Yakuza 6? That’s an emotional ride on its own. It’s appropriately titled “The Song of Life.” 

Yakuza 7 (dubbed Like a Dragon: Yakuza in the US — making it the first to change back to the Japanese title) sees a shift in the story and introduces us to the new lead Ichiban Kasuga. While 7 is a direct sequel to 6, it also follows a new story with a new cast of characters, with events that change the series as a whole. Judgment released before 7, and story wise takes place after 6, but also followed its own story set within this world. In Judgment’s case, it focuses on the Yagami Detective Agency as Yagami himself and his partner Kaito get pulled into a series of strange murders. While the story doesn’t have a direct impact on the main series, it introduces new characters into the franchise, and expands the world in general — with it’s sequel Lost Judgment being a follow up to 7. There’s also two side games that released on the PSP with yet another main character, but these games aren’t as connected at this point in time.

So to sum it up… Gaiden is the next in line after nearly everything that came before it. Timeline wise it takes place before and during 7, and because of that it spoils the dramatic conclusion of Yakuza 6, and a good chunk of 7 as well. It’s a game meant to be played ONLY after you’ve played everything that came before, and it’s even recommended to play Judgment to get the full experience as well (as characters from it do appear). That being said, if you are reading this review and you have not finished 6 or 7, I strongly recommend you skip the story section of this review, and focus on the gameplay. The gameplay is very similar to what came before, and chances are if this interests you at all — then you’ll want to check out the earlier games. Especially Kiwami 2, Yakuza 6, Judgment, and Lost Judgment as they all use the newer game engine. (But of course 0 through 5 are similar as well, just with some differences.)

Anyway, with all of that being said… Let’s get on with the review. Again, you’ve been warned concerning the story.

The Man who Erased His Name, and His Story:

The story of Gaiden picks up a few years after the ending of Yakuza 6, and sees our long time hero return in a new phase of his life. After discovering the “Secret of Onomichi” during the events of 6, Kiryu is marked for death and is nearly killed in the process. Instead of succumbing to his injuries, he manages to pull through once again (guy’s had a rough life), but this time things turn out a bit different. While sitting in his hospital room Kiryu is approached by the new leader of the Daidoji faction, the group who tried to have him killed for uncovering their secret, and is offered a new deal. Kiryu agrees, but makes a demand of his own — he wants the group to erase him. He wants the world to believe that he is dead. His way to escape from the yakuza life, and finally allow his family to live in peace… And so “Joryu” is born.

While working for the Daidoji group, Joryu takes on jobs and missions at their request. He’s kept under a tight leash, and must never contact his friends or family, but he’s allowed to complete missions as he sees fit as long as he doesn’t break the rules. As, let’s just say, betraying the group is the last thing you would want to do. Unfortunately, Joryu finds himself in a tough situation, and has no choice but to do whatever he can to avoid breaking his promise concerning his identity.

After a guard duty job goes wrong, Joryu gets recognized as Kiryu, and it’s up to him to find the people who know and put an end to them; however, things don’t go as planned and instead Kiryu’s handler gets kidnapped in the process. Now with no choice but to safe his watchman, Joryu sets out for his old stomping ground of Sotenbori to track down the Omi Alliance members who captured his colleague, and to ensure his identity isn’t blown. Needless to say, this isn’t going to be as easy as it might sound.

Although Gaiden does have it’s own story to tell, it’s events are still tied with Like a Dragon: Yakuza (Yakuza 7). This means the game itself expects you to know and understand what is happening in the world during this point in time, and the game makes it clear where this story is going to end. Slide shows are used to quickly recap some of the events from 7, but most of Ichiban’s story is left out of Gaiden. So without playing 7, it’s impossible to fully understand the overall plot of the game outside of Joryu’s current ordeal. Plus Gaiden also ruins one of the greatest scenes from 7, so again it’s strongly recommended to play 7 before this either way. Even so, the stand alone plot in Gaiden is nice, and is for sure well worth it. It’s more than just a prequel to 7, it’s the start of the Joryu chapter of Kiryu’s life.

The Gameplay and Agent Style:

Like previous entries in the series (minus 7), Gaiden is an action adventure game with RPG elements. During gameplay, Joryu explores the city of Sotenbori, where buildings containing shops and side activities line the streets, and enemies roam waiting to challenge Joryu to a fight. Obviously shops allow you to buy a wide verity of equipment as well as health items and food, while the other locations you can enter typically provide you with entirely different games to play. Restaurants can also be used to buy food to quickly heal yourself when Joryu is low on energy, and smoking stations can be used to recharge his special “heat” bar that allows him to pull off strong special attacks.

As for combat itself, the fighting is completely in real time, with Joryu being able to block, dodge, and counter enemy attacks. Combat is made up of using a mixture of normal attacks, heavy attacks, and grabs/throws, but special moves also play a role in taking out enemies faster. These moves are pulled off by having your heat bar charged, and meeting certain conditions while in battle. For example, picking up a traffic cone will allow you to bash an enemy over the head, while grabbing enemies will let you pull off a verity of attacks based on where Joryu is standing/what is around him at the time. Of course you can also pick up objects around you to use them as weapons without special attacks, but all items have a set durability and will break with use. Extreme Heat mode also returns in this game, which allows Joryu to use his heat bar to buff himself for a limited time, and pull off even stronger attacks. While in this state special heat action attacks can also be used, but it’s main use does come from its added power and new finishing attacks. Of course, while all of this is returning from previous games in the series, Gaiden does have new tricks up it’s sleeves.


Previously Yakuza 0, Kiwami, Judgment, and Lost Judgment all featured the ability to change between multiple attack styles. Gaiden uses this system as well; however, this time around Joryu has a new style at his disposal — the “Agent Style.” This style is a fast moving, quick hitting offshoot of Joryu’s usual attacks, but with a completely new twist. Joryu has access to agent gadgets.

While Joryu usually fights with his fists, his new gadgets allow him to turn the tide of battle in all new ways. The first of which is a wire that allows Joryu to grab enemies, swing them across the arena, and pull them towards him to pull off some juggling combos, but it can also be used to pull items and weapons to him in a pinch. His new explosive cigarette lets him throw bombs and set traps for enemies, and drones can be called in to swarm enemies or even help protect Joryu when he needs to quickly defend himself or counter attacks. The last gadget is a pair of jet shoes that allows Joryu to fly across the battle arena, and even escape from battles if needed. Combine together, these gadgets can help you destroy your enemies in all new ways, and pull off crazy new combos. There’s also a new gadget version of the counter mechanic where you can dodge an enemy’s power hit and pull off a special, so Gaiden provides quite a few new systems to play around with while in combat.

Although fighting battles in Gaiden does gain you money and items, the experience system has been taken out in favor of a new upgrade system. Like in Yakuza 0 you do need money to buy upgrades, but you also need the required points from the Akame Network.

The Akame Network:

Akame is a character you'll meet early on in the story. She is a type of "fixer" in the area, who helps people out with odd jobs, and takes care of the homeless whenever possible. Joryu joins up with her and gains access to her "Akame Network" which lists jobs that can be taken to earn extra cash and network points. It also gives you a heads up on what "issues" are occurring in the city, which then appear as "!" icons on your map. These mini events are typically either civilians asking for help in a fight, people asking you to find their lost items, and sometimes it's even requests to take pictures of something specific for them. There's dozens of these "mini quests" throughout the city, and they are a great way to earn some extra points fast; however, it's the jobs that offer the true experience here.

Accepting jobs from the Akame network unlocks side stories like past entries in the series had. This time around most of the side stories revolve around the series' history as a whole, with some of them providing a bit more closure on Kiryu's journey so far. We have quite a few familiar faces appearing as well, so once again even this part of the game offers a lot of fan service that would go over new player's heads. These side stories offer a wide verity of scenarios, so it never feels like you're doing the same thing twice. That is, with the exception of the gang related side stories, which simply put mini bosses for you to fight throughout the city. Other than that, you never know what to expect out of these extra stories, and, due to their nature in general, they are all well worth doing. This is a shorter game compared to the numbered entries in the series, so the side stories really help add to the playtime and flesh some things out.

Once you have enough Akame points, you can then spend them on unlocking new skills and abilities for Joryu, but you do need the required cash to buy them as well. Of course this isn't as big of a problem as it might seem, as the Akame network is also tied to the next major feature added to the game, which is a major money maker, and is required for story progression.

The Castle:

The Castle is a place where everyone's dreams come true. Or rather, it's where people can break the law, and basically do whatever they want. This area has a casino, a hostess club, a shop to buy clothing for Joryu, and it also contains the battle arena. Here is where you'll get to fight your way through different battles to not only gain money, but also rank yourself up and gain access to more areas of The Castle. At first it seems like your typical battle arena like past games have had, but this time around it's actually a bit more. You see, not only do you get to fight one on one battles, but you also get to take part in group matches as well... And those group matches means you're going to have to recruit new fighters to your team.

With the team matches, Gaiden asks that you not only go out and recruit new members to your team, but also familiar faces as well. There's dozens of characters to recruit in the game, and not only can they be put on your team to clear the team battles, but they can be played as as well! While there is DLC to recruit and play as series veterans such as Majima, Saijima, and Daigo, other returning characters are met and recruited in the game itself. Along with the newcomers, each character has their own unique fighting move set and special abilities to use in the arena, and using them over and over again will level them up and make them stronger. There's also facilities you can use within The Castle to help give them boosts/train them faster, as well as ways to increase your friendship level by hanging out with them. It's not too crazy deep or anything, but with all the characters to recruit and train, and all of the matches you can fight — its' easy to sink countless hours into this mode alone. Especially if you're someone who just enjoys fighting as their favorite characters.

Joryu himself does not level up in the arena (as it uses his normal in game progression to determine his strength), but you can buy different outfits and customize how he looks when he's both in and outside of the battle arena. It's kinda like a return to the old costume system in Yakuza, but with more freedom to change the colors of things, add accessories, etc. It's not too in depth, but it's a nice little extra that lets you put your own personal touch on the character.

As mentioned before, The Castle is tied to the story also, so it's not something that can be fully skipped. While it is an extra game mode, some rankings are required to be reached to progress the game. Thankfully it takes little effort to do so however, so anyone not a fan of arena modes doesn't have to worry about grinding out something they don't enjoy just to progress. (But it's for sure worth doing, and a lot of fun!)

The Games Within The Game:

Outside of The Castle, Gaiden is packed full of side activities. These side games aren't just some little one off mini games however, as they are fully developed games on their own. Heck, some of them ARE full on games, that could have their own reviews written just for them! But to save time, I'll just go into some of what you can expect. 

Club SEGA -

Club SEGA returns, and once again it has a verity of different FULL arcade games to be played. The games included this time around are as follows: Virtua Fighter 2.1, Fighting Vipers 2, Sonic the Fighters, Motor Raid, and Sega Racing Classic 2. All games are in their original arcade state, with an option to play them multiplayer on Gaiden's main menu.

Besides these games, Club SEGA also has the UFO Catcher game to be played, where you can win and collect little plush toys (some of which are SEGA game references).

SEGA Master System -

While Club SEGA is open from the get go, there's a key part in the story that gives Joryu access to a SEGA Master System. This game console isn't just for show however, as you can actually play full Master System games on it! These games will be found hidden throughout the world, with the list of games available being as follows: Alex Kidd in Miracle World, Alien Syndrome, Enduro Racer, Fantasy Zone, Fantasy Zone II, Flicky, Galaxy Force, Global Defense, Maze Hunter 3D, Penguin Land, Quartet, and Secret Command.

Again these games are in their original form, and are in fact FULL games (not demos). 

Billiards -

Returning from past games, Billiards is once again a way you can spend your time while playing Gaiden. This realistically created pool table lets you play a verity of game modes, as well as play a trick shot challenge mode. You have multiple camera modes you can select from while playing (one of which being a top down view similar to the days of Yahoo Pool), and you can control exactly where you hit the ball to control your shot/to put spin on it. It's actually a pretty in depth mode, and the game is filled with NPCs for you to challenge as well.

Darts -

Along with Billiards, Darts is also an option. Again we have multiple game modes to be played, and different NPCs that can be challenged to a match. While it isn't as in depth as Billiards, it's still a fun distraction.

Golf -

Golf in Gaiden is actually a driving range, and not a full golf course. Even so, it's a fun mode which offers different challenges of it's own. Gameplay wise, it's very similar to other golf video games on the market, complete with using different clubs and controlling your strength to land the perfect shot. It hasn't changed much since games like Kiwami 2, but there's nothing wrong with that.

Karaoke -

A staple for the series, Karaoke returns! This music game allows you to select from a handful of songs (with both Japanese and English versions), where you must then hit the correct button to the beat of the song. It's an addicting little game mode, with some unexpected laughs as well!

Pocket Circuit -

Yet another staple and fan favorite, Pocket Circuit is back once again. In this mode you build mini cars to race in a Pocket Circuit, and do your best to beat your opponents. The trick here is that every car is made up of different parts that will change it's stats, and every single track will require something different out of you. Building a fast car will cause you to fly off the track if it can't handle turns or overshoots a jump, but using a slow car for a track built for speed will cause you to be in last. On the other hand, some races are more about endurance, so having a longer lasting battery is what you'll need to win! It's actually a pretty complex mode, with a lot of custom options, and a wide verity of things you need to consider to win. You can also give your car a boost during the race, but knowing when or not to use this is key as well. Overall this is yet another mini game a lot of time can be spent on, with plenty of content even after you obtain the trophy for unlocking Master Class.

Poker & Table Top Games -

Like a Dragon Gaiden also contains quite a few card and table top games to play. Of course Poker and Black Jack are here, with different levels of play, and we also have Japanese games such as: Shogi, Oichu-Kabu, Koi-Koi, and Mahjong. Shogi is very similar to chess, with different pieces that have different types of movements, while the others are basically card games. Thankfully the game will explain to you how to play them, so you won't be fully lost, but don't expect to master these games right off the bat if you're unfamiliar with them.

Cabaret Club -

Honestly the weakest part of Gaiden... Cabaret Clubs return once again, but instead of being a full on fun management simulation game... We get live action girls awkwardly trying to act like "you" are visiting their club. It's... Something... To say the least. You basically pick which girl you want to interact with, she'll ask you a question, you respond to the question, and then watch the prerecorded response based on whatever you said. You can pick which drink you would like to buy the girls also, and depending on what you choose, they might end up liking you more. Same goes with the questions  — it's all about picking the right answer when you're given the option. Each girl kinda tells you more about their life as you go through this process, but the whole thing is just very strange and shallow. Finishing a girl's "story" will reward you with a weird ending video, but it's really not worth getting max friendship three times just to unlock these scenes. (Although it is an achievement within the game, so it is worth "something.") Really the entire mode is meant to be a joke, but it's a shame we lost our simulation game in favor of this.

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth Demo -

The final "additional" content in Gaiden is access to the Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth Demo (LAD 8). This is unlocked after finishing the main story in Gaiden, and gives players a small taste of what the next mainline entry in the game is going to be like. Along with that comes additional Karaoke songs to sing, and access to the starting stages of the new mini games developed for that game. It also contains a glimpse into the new story, and allows for some exploration around the new city. (And yes, enemies to fight, and a new combat system to try out.) Of course this is a demo for another game, so while it's nice early access to those who bought the game before 8 released, it's not something that players will be returning to if they own the real thing. Even so, it's still technically one of Gaiden's extras.

With all of that said, Gaiden offers a wide verity of activities outside of it's main game, and many of them can honestly add dozens (if not hundreds) of additional hours onto the game. Especially if you sit there and actually beat every single Master System game, or beat every challenge the other games have to offer. The Akame Network will reward you with points for completing different goals, so your efforts will be rewarded.

A Must Play for Fans:

Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name might have one of the longest names in the series, but it's actually the shortest of them all. It's a side game (Gaiden means "side story") meant to fill in the gap between Yakuza 6 and the 7th main entry, and also serve as an intro for Infinite Wealth (8). That being said, it's a game that everyone who's a fan of the series should play, and it's a game that won't disappoint.

As expected, Gaiden is everything that makes a Yakuza game a Yakuza game (Like a Dragon). It's a crime drama filled with twists and turns, it has fun fast paced action combat, it's loaded up with side stories and side activities to take part in, and it brings us back to a familiar city. While the main story itself is only 8-10 hours long, the side stories are actually worth doing and easily bump the game up to the 20-40 hour range — depending on everything you actually do. It's sort and sweat, and never overstays it's welcome. It's fun from start to finish, and it's just really nice to see this chapter of Joryu's life come to an end. The ending scene alone is one of the most emotional I've personally seen in a game, but without the context of it, it will fall flat for new fans. And that's really the only down side to this game.

Like I've said many times in this review, Gaiden is not a starting point for anyone interested in this series. If this game sounds like something you would enjoy, and you've never played any entries in the series — then you can basically apply this review to nearly any of the others (except 7 and 8 which are turn based). Most of them are action, they all have side games and mini games to play, they all have a huge list of side stories to go through, and honestly, they all have a lot more content than Gaiden could ever offer. While this might sound like a bad thing for Gaiden — it's actually not. Again, Gaiden was released to lead into the next major entry in the series, and is just a small taste of what is to come. It's meant to be short, while also having enough content to keep players engaged. It's not 100 + hours like you might spend on other games in the series, but it didn't need to be. Gaiden doesn't lose focus and try to be something it isn't, and it's honestly one of the things that makes it great. So again, for anyone who has never played an entry in this series, you're best picking another game as your start. Yakuza 0 will begin the story, while Kiwami 2 is the earliest entry point that plays like Gaiden. On the flip side Judgment is also it's own story, so even that can serve as a gateway into this world.

Of course, Gaiden isn't perfect.

On the flip side, the game is more of the "same," but with new combat systems, mini games, story, etc, to let it stand out from the others. Even so, you'll be doing mostly the same things you had to go through in previous entries, and that might be a bad thing to some. Those experiencing burnout from the series won't magically feel different about Gaiden. Yes it's a shorter game, but at the very least it's going to be roughly another 8 hours of what you've come to expect. Gaiden doesn't reinvent the series like 7 and 8, so that's something everyone should be aware of. Other than that, the Cabaret Club is a let down, and there are less heat actions to pull off while in combat. While all the standard ones are here, many of the more flashy ones have been removed sadly. It's something we've come to expect since Yakuza 6's new engine, but it would've been nice if they brought back some of the attacks we've been missing since 5. It's not a deal breaker by any means, it's just one area where they could've improved but didn't. 

Other than these minor gripes, Gaiden is pretty much everything you could want. It's fun, the story was easy to follow while also maintaining the series traditional plot twists, and it does a really good job setting up the future of the series. It's a game all fans should play — you won't be disappointed. And as for the newcomers? Do yourself a favor and jump into this series. It's well worth it.

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Monday, January 22, 2024

Finally gave Chrono Trigger a Chance

Last year I finally sat down and did something I’ve put off since I was a teenager. I beat Chrono Trigger! Now as a kid I had no idea what CT was, so I missed out on its release. I didn’t play RPGs back then anyway, and it’s not something I would’ve ever asked for anyway. Kid me was all about Mario and MegaMan on the SNES, with games like Final Fantasy or Chrono Trigger being completely foreign concepts to me. Heck, I didn’t even realize Pokemon Red was one of these “RPG” things! So yeah, not something I would’ve played; however, when I was a teenager things changed.

Getting a PS2 was my gateway into RPGs, with Kingdom Hearts being my introduction to Final Fantasy. Of course I figured I wouldn’t be able to play the FF series (at the time), but my friend Keith helped me change that! He’s the one who let me barrow Kingdom Hearts 1, and he lead me to try out Final Fantasy IV and VI. But to go along with these games, he also introduced me to Chrono Trigger. I’m pretty sure I was 14 at the time, and with my limited RPG experience, I had no idea what I was doing. My friend said it was such a great game, but it didn’t really give me a reason to play it…

So I didn’t…

I remember I got to the point where I met Frog, and then quit shortly after! Not that the game was bad or anything, but I had no motivation at the time to keep going. Other friends kept telling me how good it was, but all I could think was “I want to play the game with Cloud” or “how am I going to get the money for Kingdom Hearts 2?” It just wasn’t my priority to beat Chrono Trigger. And then the years went by!

Jump ahead, and college me really got into JRPGs. I went through nearly every major release, as well as many (MANY) lesser known titles. I even bought Chrono Cross to play on my Vita, but again I dropped it because I got stuck and felt like I was missing out by not playing Trigger. So it got shelved, and time once again marched on. Until 2023!

Finally sitting down to play Chrono Trigger was a weird experience. I remembered the intro from when I was a teen, but I also remembered why I stopped playing. Today I still have the same issue from back then — there’s so many games I could be playing, and CT didn’t seem to offer me what I’m looking for from a JRPG… But that’s weird to say! This is considered one of the greatest games of all time, and should be EVERYTHING I want from one! So I did something I didn’t do way back when. I kept going.

Overall, I completely get why the game is considered one of the greatest! In 2023 it might not be as impressive as it was back in the day, but it’s clearly the beginning point of a lot of systems we’ve gotten used to today. It’s insane the amount of things the game tried to do, while also keeping a core focus. The cast of characters is simple and not that “deep” overall, but each character has their own side story that helps flesh out both the character and the world itself. The main story is a time traveling adventure with multiple versions of the world map, and sometimes this time traveling is actually used to change the story in your favor! Overall the world actually isn’t that big (only a handful of areas), but it’s these different versions of the world that help it feel larger overall. Then there’s the fact that the final boss can be fought at any time, with different endings based on when you fight it. It’s the first time a game like this ever tried something along these lines, and overall it does it pretty well!

Again, CT isn’t too ambitious, and it never feels overwhelming with what it does. It’s roughly 20 hours to do everything (minus all the endings), so it never overstays its welcome. There’s also so many side stories, that are full on stories, so the game rewards you for exploring and finding new things to see. It’s one of the thing that makes the game charming, and I did really enjoy going through each one. As a kid I’m sure I would’ve spent countless hours searching all the timelines, but as an adult I used a quest checklist to make sure I didn’t miss a thing! Some of them had unique gameplay or puzzles to go along with them, so each one was a surprise to play through. Again, I enjoyed each one! 

My favorite part of the game though has to be its battle system. Enemies are on screen and walking close to them triggers the battle. I’ve always preferred this system over random encounters, so seeing CT kick it off was a nice surprise! Attacks and skills can combo together to create unique special moves, with different characters offering different ways to combo! Gives you a reason to constantly mix up your party, and keeps the gameplay from getting stale. Sometimes attacks will also trigger extra environmental damage, such as being knocked into a wall by a heavy hitting blow. Again, something you didn’t see in JRPGs at the time! Helped make the game even more unique, and added to my enjoyment of the battle system.

Overall, I did really enjoy my time with CT, but I feel as if I should’ve played it when I was younger. It was a short unique time traveling adventure, but it’s still not fully what I look for in a JRPG now days. I’m the type of person who loves thousands of lines of dialogue, talking to every NPC in town over and over again, and watching cutscene after cutscene. Yeah I enjoy tactical gameplay, dungeon crawling, and just RPG gameplay in general… But that’s just a part of the experience for me! There’s so many games out there now days that have "everything" I want, that it's hard to for me to spend my time on Chrono Trigger instead. Trails in the Sky made the Trails series one of my all time favorites. Tales is one of my all time favorite action RPG series now, and I really enjoy the tactical gameplay of the SMT series. Then you have the life sim aspect of Persona 3-5 -- which not only has a high focus on story, but dungeon crawling and gameplay. These are games I love and keep playing over and over again! But all of these games came long after Chrono Trigger, and it’s clear how influential the game was for said future titles. So it really isn’t fair for me to judge it for what it doesn’t do, especially when it did so much, and did it all right!

So my feelings for Chrono Trigger are not easy to explain at all. 

Am I happy that I finally finished it? Yes. Did I enjoy my time with it? Considering I spent every lunch break for a month playing it… Heck yeah! Do I wish I spent that time playing something else? I honestly don’t know. I feel like with other games I would’ve taken a break or got burned out playing every single day (especially considering it took up my whole lunch break). While I love sinking 80 hours into a world, sometimes it does start to drag when you find it taking up ALL of your free time. With CT on the other hand, I didn’t get bored and I kept coming back day after day! My lunch breaks didn't feel wasted, and a few nights I found myself staying up until 3AM just to push through a section. So yes, while it isn’t my favorite JRPG, I liked every second of it. It was missing a lot of things I enjoy out of JRPGs, but I really liked what the game did have! And I feel like that’s the reason why this game is so loved. Is it perfect? No. Was it unique for it's time? Absolutely! Did it give players a reason to explore and uncover it's secrets? Yep, and it was rewarding to do so. It's a short game, but nothing overstays it's welcome because of that. (And of course the constantly changing gameplay helps as well.)  I just wish I would’ve been able to experience it back when it first released, or if I would’ve actually played it back when I was 14. While I'm able to see the game for what it is today, and see how much it influenced the world of JRPGs moving forward... I feel like it would've had a bigger impact on me if I hadn't played hundreds of JRPGs at this point. But that's my fault, and not the game's.

Anyway, Chrono Trigger was a nice month long adventure for me, and I don’t regret a thing. It’s not the only classic JRPG I’ve missed out on though — so this is just the start of my long road ahead. One that I’m looking forward to!

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Thursday, January 18, 2024

How I joined the Rockband Family

With the announcement of Rockband 4's DLC support ending in favor of Fortnite Festival, I'm feeling pretty nostalgic of my time spent with the series. Rockband is easily one of my favorite games of all time, and I'm currently sitting here with mixed emotions over the whole thing... But that's besides the point! Today I wanted to share my story of how I was introduced into the series, and I'd also love to hear from you guys as well! This series is truly special, and I feel like many out there will have just as good (heck, most likely better) stories about it like me! So anyway, with that being said... Here's my story:

My journey with Rockband actually began way back in the mid 2000s with none other than Guitar Hero 2. This was the first time I had heard of the company Harmonix, and first time I had even heard of Guitar Hero! Obviously it was the second entry, but it was my friend Keith who even brought it to my attention. He got the game for Christmas, and I remember him inviting me over to play it. I was honestly pretty bad at it at the time, and could hardly even play easy mode, but I did think the game was pretty fun. I felt like he was the only person who knew it existed, but before long I realized just how wrong I was! Moving forward, GH2 was up for demo at every major store around me, and kids even began bringing it into school! It was something we'd play on free days, but again, I was really bad at it. Eventually GH3 would come out and the crazy continued on, and it wasn't long before EVERYONE in school was talking about it.

Of course, I never expected to own it myself. It was expensive, and I was pretty lacking on musical knowledge at the time. So it just didn't seem worth it to me to own it at the time... But I still really liked playing it. I still remember when my cousin got GH3 for his 360 on Christmas Eve and we spent the night playing it! It was a lot of fun! I remember my uncle had some issues with the songs for whatever reason, but who cares -- everyone else really enjoyed it. That next school semester was filled with kids talking about the game, and it was great being able to be a part of those discussions! But then something happened... Something "new" began making it's rounds.

When I first heard about Rockband, I'll admit that I thought it was a knock off. I didn't realize it was Harmonix, so I just thought someone was trying to cash in on GH's success! But then I had friends talking about it, and how it offered a full band experience, so eventually I became interested in it as well. I started playing it at a friend's house, and before I knew it, it had replaced GH at our school! We even had it at post prom! Of course I was still bad at it, but I found myself enjoying it even more than GH. This is when I knew I had to have it... Someday.

While I missed out on owning RB1 and 2, The Beatles Rockband was the perfect entry point for me! Me and another cousin of mine ran across it's demo at our local Best Buy, and I remember we spent something like an hour playing it. I was in college at this point, but I knew it would be a perfect Christmas gift if my parents were willing to buy it for me. So I asked them, and to my surprise they bought it! My dad also grabbed me the Country Track Pack, and that Christmas me and my parents spent most of the day just going through both the Beatles songs, as well as the country songs. I pushed myself to get better as I played, so I quickly found myself working my way up to hard mode that day, while my parents were content with sticking to easy. By the time New Years came around, I had also bought Lego Rockband as well (it had some great songs!), and me and my entire family who came to stay with us for the night spent all night playing it! It was amazing, and easily one of my favorite memories period!

Eventually I would get RB1, however the disc was busted, and RB3. Meanwhile my cousins had a copy of RB2, but I just bought DLC songs from it I liked. I was obsessed with the series up until the day my Xbox 360 broke, and I thought I would retire from it for good. But then in 2014 I got an Xbox One (already had a PS4), and by 2015 I was returning to RB4 -- which was once again a Christmas gift from my parents!

That Christmas Eve we spent all night playing the game together, just like we had many many years before. Again it's such a great memory, and it's something we would keep coming back to do together as a family as the years went on! Sadly I wasn't able to bring all of my songs forward (poor college kid me didn't buy the Lego RB export), but we still had plenty to play. I continued buying DLC songs pretty much every month, and before I knew it years went by and I had a massive library of songs to enjoy! It's something I was hoping to last forever.

Still to this day, RB is something I continue to come back to. Again, it's one of my all time favorite games, and I don't plan on stopping anytime soon. The end of DLC is sad news, but it's not like I own anywhere near every song. In fact my current wish list has well over 100 titles that I'd like to buy at some point! So the game has plenty let to offer me, but at the same time it's sad to see the end of an era. While Fortnite Festival is Rockband in all but name (and the characters), it's sad to see the RB brand fade away. It's been a fun ride though, and I do look forward to seeing what's to come. Who knows? Maybe that Rockband 5 will happen someday?

Well anyway that's my story of how I got into RB. What about you guys?

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Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Happy New Year! 2024!

I know, I know. I’m very late with this! The last few weeks have been crazy busy, and I just haven’t really gotten the chance to make this post. Heck, this last year in general has been pretty busy. A lot happened throughout 2023, and looking back now it’s crazy to think that all of that happened within a single year. It was my first full year being married and living in my new house, we had family friends also get married this year, and we got to spend quite a bit of time swimming and just enjoying our new life. However, unfortunately, not everything was great either… I spent a good chunk of the year in pain with kidney stones (fun…), I lost my last remaining uncle, we received some bad news from other family members, and my grandma went blind as well… So not all of 2023 was great, but personally I’d rather focus on the good rather than the bad.

With all that being said — it’s not like I abandoned gaming. In fact, this year is the first one in a long time where I was able to get back into the swing of things! Final Fantasy XVI released last year, I finally went through some classics I’ve put off like Chrono Trigger, and me and my wife finally finished going through the rest of the Yakuza series! Of course there was a lot more on top of these games, but this post would go on forever if I were to cover everything… So I’ll just cut this short here.

With 2024 I’m making it my New Year’s resolution to finally get back to the games I’ve been missing out on, and beat my records from last year. Here we are on the 16th and I’ve already managed to platinum three PlayStation games, so I’m already well on my way to completing that resolution. However, I’d like to do a bit more than just play the games. I want to stop neglecting this blog, and get things back to how they used to be. Yeah, I doubt I can write something every day, but I’d like to get more review out, and just talk more about the games I’m playing. I’m not going to force myself to get things done, or force myself to finish a game just to review it, but I’d like to share more of my experiences with the world once again! So to kick things off with this new year, I’d like to start with a review of a game I just recently 100% completed… But that’s a post for another day.

Anyway I just wanted to give a quick update, and wish you guys all a happy new year! I hope you look forward to what’s to come. Who knows? Maybe we’ll even do some blog revamps this year. There’s quite a bit I’d like to change and fix up, but we’ll see where it goes. 

Thanks for reading! See you next time! 

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Friday, October 13, 2023

How I was introduced to Assassin's Creed

When Assassin's Creed first came out, I didn't have an Xbox 360 or PS3. I saw the commercials for it at Walmart, and I'd see it on the shelf from time to time, but I never thought I'd actually play the series. It was on consoles I didn't own, and it honestly didn't look like something I would enjoy. Back then I was kinda picky on what I would or wouldn't play, and I really didn't branch out much because of that. Heck, I was also in high school, so I didn't really have too many choices anyway. I didn't have a part time job yet, and my parents controlled what I could actually get. So AC was simply just not in the cards for me... But of course, that all eventually changed.

After I turned 17, I started my first job and began saving up for an Xbox 360. The main reason I wanted it was actually Sonic 06 (yes, laugh at me), but once I actually bought the console I decided to make the most out of it. I began buying games I wouldn't normally even look twice at, and surprisingly many of them became all time favorites of mine! I'll admit that AC still wasn't on my radar at that time, but the next year was pretty great overall. Soon I would go on to graduate from high school and start college, but that didn't slow me down when it came to gaming. If anything, it actually gave me more time to do just that! So once again I went out looking for new games, but nothing was really catching my eye. But then "it" happened...

We had a bad storm one Friday night, so I remember I went to bed early before the work the next day, and just kinda slept through it all. I didn't think about turning things off, but when I got a call from my mom the next day I was shocked to hear that my PC would no longer turn on... I was pretty upset to say the least... So being left with no choice (that PC was basically my life as I needed it for everything, especially with school), my parents helped me pack it up, and we took it to Best Buy (which was well over an hour away).

I was prepared to have to buy a new PC or something. Didn't know how we'd do it (I didn't have that kind of money, and my parents couldn't really afford to either), but we were going to have to do something. THANKFULLY Best Buy found that the PC itself was fine, and just the power supply unit was fired. They then sold us a new one, and told us it would take about half an hour to put it in. So in the mean time, I went "window shopping," and that's when I saw it. Assassin's Creed on sale for $20!

I really knew nothing about the game besides what I remembered seeing years ago, but looking at the back of the box convinced me it was worth giving it a shot. Considering I didn't have to buy a whole new PC, and did have enough money leftover after the new PSU, I went ahead and bought it. That was basically 14 years ago to this day. I didn't know about AC2 coming out (although there was a spot on the shelf advertising it), but when I got home and started up AC1 for the first time -- I was hooked instantly. The massive cities, the climbing, the combat, the leap of faith, etc, it was all just amazing to me! Sure, it got repetitive at times, but I played the heck out of that game daily up until the release of AC2 (which I of course had to buy).

I still remember playing it that Halloween also, and my mom's friend bringing her kids over. They got all excited and rushed into my room because they saw "VIDEO GAMES" and wanted to watch. Well, behind that Xbox 360 menu screen was AC paused with me stabbing a guy in the neck, so that wasn't easy to show them... Ended up just existing the game and losing progress, but it was worth it...

But anyway, what I thought was going to be a horrible day of losing my PC turned into the day I got introduced to one of my all time favorite series. So in a way, I'm thankful for that storm!

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Monday, October 9, 2023

The Game that Gave me Literal Nightmares

When it comes to horror games, there's not a lot that scares me. I refused to play them when I was a teenager (because horror movies scared me), but by the time I got into college I decided it was finally time to try them out. While I had played some games with "scary" parts in the past (I'm looking at you Half Life 2), Resident Evil was the first true horror series I jumped into -- and I actually put a lot of research in before I pulled the trigger! I spent countless hours reading wiki pages online, and eventually I decided that the story and gameplay sounded interesting enough to give it a shot! Managed to get a great deal on Resident Evil 0, REmake, and 4 on Amazon, and downloaded RE2 to my PSP. Of course I started with RE2 since I had it instantly (Amazon took 5+ days to ship back then), and I quickly fell in love with the game and series as a whole.

Moving on from RE, I would play many other horror games over the years. I'd return to Half Life, play Dino Crisis, Parasite Eve, Bioshock, Alan Wake, Dead Space, Left 4 Dead, Amnesia, Until Dawn, Alien Isolation, The Evil Within, some Silent Hill, etc. Basically a wide verity of "actual" horror games, horror "themed" games, and games that simply had their scary moments, but are not really horror games. Sure, I had a heck of a lot of fun with them, but none of them actually scared me! At least outside of a few jump scares from time to time. But that's not a bad thing at all -- I didn't jump into these games to actually be scared! I wanted fun games, and that's all that mattered to me. And then something changed... Resident Evil 7 came out.

The thing is -- I don't find RE7 to be scary on it's own. Yes it has some jump scares, and yes there's some disturbing content... But none of that bothered me! It's not much different from what we had before, except now the entire game was locked in first person. So it honestly wasn't that bad! Or rather, it wouldn't have been that bad if it weren't for the fact I played it in VR.

PlayStation VR changed everything for me. It let me experience games in a way I never imagined, and each game I played constantly left me wanting more. Years later VR is what helped me get through lock down in 2020, but even before then I began integrating VR every way I could! Watching 3D videos, watching TV shows on Hulu, etc. I loved, and still love, VR, but I never realized what this would mean for horror. Or rather, what horror in VR would do to me.

When I first jumped into RE7 VR, it was the demo. I didn't play it a lot because it did  creep me out, but I had fun showing it to friends and family. When I got the full game however, I told myself that I'd only play it in VR and get the full experience. Well, I did, and I paid for it! You see, in VR you are actually "there." This isn't on the other side of a screen. You're not sitting on your couch as you look across the room through a window to another world -- instead what you see with your eyes IS that other world. It's not much different than looking around the room you're sitting in now as you read this post. The world is fake obviously, but when you move your head, you're moving your head within this other world. When you turn around, you've physically turned around in the game as well. What your eyes see, and what your brain believes to be true, does become true to you, and it's such a weird experience. Throw that into a horror setting, and it's something completely different.

In VR horror games, you go from being someone playing a game or watching a story unfold, to someone who must "become" the main character of a horror story. There's no "playing it safe." You HAVE to make those dumb decisions often seen in horror movies. You HAVE to go into that dark creepy basement, and you have to confront your fears if you ever want to finish the game. There's no finding a safe place to hide until someone saves you -- you have no choice but to move forward. And during this adventure, you'll notice more than you've ever even realized when simply playing a game on a TV. For example, walking through the house in RE7, you see the maggots crawling along, you notice every fallen or broken joist, you see the trash laying around, and even notice the specks of dust falling before your eyes. Things you don't realize when you're simply watching, but becomes painfully obvious when it's "you" in that character's shoes. Your brain screams at you that you're in danger, and often you find your body reacting before you can even think a situation through! One scene has you crashing a car into a fallen beam to take down the boss, but as the beam comes straight at your head, chances are you'll physically duck down or dodge it before you're hit! Of course you never feel the pain, but your natural instinct to survive kicks in none the less. Again, it's such a crazy feeling, and the effects of this can be felt afterwords. It's a game, yes, but try convincing your brain of this fact.

After getting through RE7 in VR, my nightmare didn't end. In fact, it followed me into my dreams. The layout of that house, the bugs, the dripping water... That "dinner table." Since I had "been there," my brain could recreate it all in perfect detail. It developed dreams that brought me back to that world as if it was something I had truly gone through in my life! The memories of this game crossed the line of fiction, and entered what my sleeping self considered reality, and it took a LONG time before I was able to reverse this. I had countless nightmares about that house, and still to this day "Go Tell Aunt Rhody"triggers something inside me. It's like a repressed memory trying to crawl it's way back, but I know it wasn't real. Never has a game done something like this to me, and I'm honestly not sure if it ever will again. 

Since finishing RE7 and having the nightmares, I've played other VR horror games. Did they scare me? Yes. But did I have lasting effects from them? Shockingly no! I might've had a dream or two about Half Life Alyx, but nothing to the extent of RE7. Maybe it's because RE was my first VR experience, or maybe playing so much VR after has caused me to become desensitized to the whole thing. Either way, RE7 is an experience I'll never be able to forget... And that's one reason I still love it to this day. Does that make me sound crazy?

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Monday, July 24, 2023

Memories of Armored Core

After such a long (LONG) wait, Armored Core 6 is finally almost here, and I couldn't be happier. You see, Armored Core is a special series to me, but it's also one I haven't always been able to keep up with. I'm someone who kinda falls into a weird place with it, because although I love it and am a "long time fan," it's not a series I've been able to fully experience. Even so, what I have been there for will always be special to me, and I guess it's that nostalgia that really drives my excitement when it comes to this release. Now, in the past I slightly touched on my experience with the series, but today is a new day, and I feel like now is the perfect time to expand upon my story. 

Growing up, I was a HUGE fan of both robots and mechs. Power Rangers was my go to, and of course I had nearly all of the toys (thanks Uncle Mark)! I didn't really know what "mecha" was per say, but I loved pretty much anything that was robot related, and the more robots there were, the better. 

Jumping ahead to middle school, Toonami was a part of my new daily routine, and shows like Zoids and Gundam 08th MS Team were my go to after noon shows. Stupid middle school me still thought that Zoids was a knock off of Power Rangers, but I still liked it! I guess it was Gundam that made me realize there was more out there though, so I began watching it as well. They quickly became two of my favorite shows, and it made me wish that they would make video games about them also. (Yeah, that happened, but I had no idea it did...) Anyway -- I guess it's these two series that truly pushed me to become a mecha fan, but I had no idea how to continue from there. And then that's when my friend Ian started telling me about Armored Core.

Back then I was more of a Nintendo kid. Sure, I had a PlayStation 1, but even then I only played a few games on it. I was mainly into games like Mario, MegaMan, Kirby, etc, and I rarely branched out and tried something new. Only exceptions were when my uncle or cousins would get a new game or rent something, and I'd check it out, but most of the time it wasn't something that appealed to me. That being said, when Ian started talking about his PS2 games, they just flat out sounded amazing to me.

I never expected to get any of them though. This (dot) hack series he kept bringing up? Sounded really cool, but when was I ever going to play that? Armored Core 2 that he kept talking about was the same, but I was still interested in it. He'd tell me how you got to build different AC Units, and how you could customize each one to be unique. He talked about how he created speed builds, ones that focus on missiles, and sometimes he'd sit there and brain storm new plans with me. It's funny how I remember all of this after all these years, but sometimes it seems like it was just yesterday. Heck his speed type he told me was like "using the float shoes on ice in Zelda." I knew exactly what he meant, and how hard that would be to control! But either way, what he told me about AC convinced me to give it a shot whenever I got the chance, but I never expected that day to come. Besides playing it a little bit one of the few times I went to his house -- AC2 was a game that would just be lost to me. That is, until I graduated middle school.

It took a couple of years, but when I finished 8th grade I received enough graduation money to buy a PlayStation 2. I still remember the day my mom drove me to different Walmarts to find the thing, and when we finally did I also grabbed a copy of MegaMan X 8. Of course I was going to start with the games I really wanted/knew I'd love, so the MegaMan games were at the top of the list. However around this very same time is when we discovered a new movie rental place in town, and thanks to that discovery, I got to try out a lot of new and different things. I didn't have money to buy games myself (obviously as I was just going into high school), but for $4, my parents were more than willing to let me rent a game from time to time. You got to keep it for a week, and our shopping trips were every week -- so it worked out nicely! And considering this new place had a huge selection of PS2 games, I couldn't have got the console at a better time.

Of course I started out renting games like Transformers first, but when Armored Core 2 caught my eye sitting on the front shelf, there was no way I could pass it up. Finally after all these years, I could play the game for myself. And it was amazing.

I did suck at the game, I'm not going to lie. The experience of playing the game was great and all, but I just didn't know what I was doing. Sure I played the heck out of it that week, and I did go on to rent it multiple times after, but overall it wasn't a game I was planning on returning to just because it was so hard. If I actually owned the game I'm sure I would've given it more time, but I had other games to rent, and because of that the AC series just sorta faded away from me. At least for a couple of years. Ultimately what changed everything for me was the summer of my junior year when my uncle opened a bakery, and I got my first part time job. That's when I bought my first game console on my own -- the Xbox 360.

The Xbox 360 opened up a whole new world to me. Finally I could play the new popular games like Halo 3, Portal, etc, and I was finally also able to jump into completely new series as well. No longer was I tied down by the Wii and what Nintendo had to offer, and with my own income I was able to actually test out quite a bit more series. Heck, since I jumped in so late, most of the good games were already cheap! It was such a good feeling going into a store, dropping $15-20 on a game I'd never heard of, and then just spend the next week playing it. It was like renting a game, but I never had to return it! I found so many gems this way, and I don't regret a single purchase. But then one day I also discovered that Armored Core 4 was a thing.

I remember looking up info about the game, and reading about it while in computer class at school. That night I then told my dad about it, and gave him the money to pick it up for me if he could find it at the local GameStop. At the time we didn't really have many video game stores around here, with the closest GameStop being an hour away near his work. At first he laughed and thought I meant "Armored Corp" when I wrote it down, but I was like "no it's actually Armored Core." He then took the money, and when he got home from work the next day he had the copy of my new game with him. I was beyond excited!

Even though I had a rough go with AC2, AC4 was a whole other story. Right off the bat I was blown away by the game's realistic graphics. Then I saw the fact that you could legit fly, AND do a high speed build far beyond whatever speeds the PS2 could handle. Afterwords I got pulled into it's mercenary based story, and got to work coming up with mech designs of my own. I wanted to be like my friend Ian, and create a wide verity of ACs to match my every need. This new game provided even more verity to it's customization, and even let you customize decals and colors of each part! By this point I had gotten into multiple mecha series like Code Geass, so of course I started recreating mechs from these shows as well. I basically went all out with the game, and each day I was excited to come home from school to play it. Taking on different missions each day, fighting other ACs in the arena -- it was all of my mecha dreams come true. 

And then I hurt my back in school.

The bad thing is, throwing my back out at age 17, means you're still going to have issues (sometimes worse) when you're 32. Almost half your life later, and things like this will still bother you. On the flip side, I got to stay home from school for a bit! Armored Core 4 is one of the main ways I spent my time being stuck to a chair. I still remember the time I dropped my 360 controller and had to figure out how to get it (that was very painful), but other than that it was a great memory! Having time and an excuse to do nothing but play AC4 was great, and I feel like that's when I really dove into the customization side of things. Eventually my back did get "better," and I went back to school, but I think it was that weekend I actually finished the game's "main" story. And I wanted more.

Surprise! There was more! Armored Core 4A (For Answer) was a follow up to AC4, and was said to improve upon everything in AC4. New story, new missions, new parts to customize your AC with, and just... A bunch of new content in general! Of course I had to have it too, and once again my dad was willing to pick it up for me on his way home. This time it was a full priced release though, unlike my old copy of AC4.

I actually didn't like For Answer as much as 4. Maybe I burned myself out on 4 during the couple of months I had just spent playing it, but I think it was more of the issues I had with it's content. For example, while it did have more to do, and it had some crazy huge boss fights, the story itself didn't grab me quite as much, and the split story paths had some really challenging missions I just couldn't overcome. It didn't help that the game had really long loading screens as well, so it did start to get on my nerves. Eventually I got to a point where I went down the "bad guy's route" and had multiple of the game's enemy bosses attacking me at once -- I never did clear that mission.

After AC4A, I once again took a break from the series. I had other games to play, and my last year of high school kept me busy. A really fun time in my life overall, but none of that is Armored Core related. I actually didn't return to the series until early college when GameStop (which had now opened up closer to me) started selling PS2 games for cheap, and they had a buy 2 get 2 free deal. So of course I grabbed most of the Armored Core 3 series, as well as Resident Evil Code Veronica. 

AC3 was of course a lot different from 4 (and on older hardware), but man it was still fun. It got hard, and I didn't actually finish it (or it's follow ups), but I had a blast playing it. Last Raven was pretty crazy too, but it's difficulty started so high that I for sure never came close to the end. Again I still enjoyed it though, and I couldn't complain considering how cheap I got it. Afterwords I once again took a break from the series, but eventually I did jump back in with Armored Core V.

I really liked ACV. I hate that I missed out on all the online features of it (or mostly missed out), but it was a lot of fun for what it was. Smaller mechs, the ability to jump off of walls, and some really cool mission and level design. It took me roughly a year to actually beat the game as I had a lot going on in my life at the time, but I really REALLY enjoyed it. So much that I bought the follow up VD (Verdict Day) the moment I saw the credits roll. 

Sadly while the game did arrive a few days after placing the order, it came in a completely destroyed box. I guess I should've returned it, but I didn't. Instead I have a copy of VD that's box is pretty much shredded, with plastic pieces falling off non stop if you hold it the wrong way. I have no idea what happened to make it be in this state, but thankfully the disc was ok. And then once again, I would spend the next 2 years playing the game off and on in my free time. Unlike with 4A, I actually liked VD better than V. It was a full on improvement, and this time around I did get to experience some of the online content. Taking missions and doing things co-op to help your faction expand it's reach was such a cool feature, and I really liked the new customization options. Of course it was a lot more of the same, but that wasn't a bad thing. VD did what V did but better, and that's exactly what I hoped to get out of it.

And that's where my AC journey ended. I did go back and play some of the older games, but I've mostly been waiting for another entry. Little did I know that wouldn't be until 2023!

Now it's not like my mecha video game journey ended there. As a huge fan of Gundam, I've played pretty much all of the Gundam and Super Robot War releases. (Including Japanese exclusives.) I also played quite a bit of Daemon x Machina, which was created by the producer of older Armored Core games. It was a decent substitute to AC, but it's also very much a game of it's own. Heck last time I played it though has been a few years, and I remember some "Power Company" scammer just barged on in my house and was scouting the place out. That became a quick "uhhhh can I help you and what are you doing?" Before the guy scrambled out the door. Fun times.

Anyway, while I might not have been with the series the entire time, nor can I say I'm a super fan... I do love Armored Core, and I really can't wait for AC6. I'm looking forward to recapturing my time spent with AC4, and seeing what AC looks like on the next generation.

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Friday, July 7, 2023

The Platinum Log: Zone of the Enders

Zone of the Enders. I had heard about the series, but I didn't really know much about it. Back when I was in middle school, my friend Ryan REALLY got into the Metal Gear Solid games, and eventually he convinced me to look into them as well. At the time I didn't really know who Kojima was, but when I started doing more research into him, I started to realize I knew more about him than I thought. Or at least, I knew of his projects.

Thanks to MegaMan Battle Network, I knew what the Boktai series was, and thanks to the random GBA game I tried out, I technically knew about Zone of the Enders. But again, the only thing I knew about it was the fact it was a mecha series, and that it was a turn based strategy (which I sucked at). I didn't know that the mainline games were PS2 games, nor did I know what they played like. Heck, I didn't even realize the clip I saw in MGS Twin Snakes was Zone of the Enders. So when I finally finished the MGS series for myself, and wanted more, I turned my sights to other games Kojima had worked on. That's when I discovered what ZoE really was, but also quickly realized I most likely would never be able to play it... I was a college kid at the time, and the games were really hard to come by. So I put getting them on the back burner, and just focused on what I could play. But then something unexpected happened -- a collection was announced!

I wont lie, one of the main draws to the collection for me was the included demo of Metal Gear Rising, but being a mecha fan I did want the games as well. So I watched the prequel anime to the series to get myself ready, I saved up some money, and bought the game on release. I don't regret it!

While the original ZoE isn't my favorite of the two -- I did really enjoy it. The gameplay was a lot of fun, and I liked that it borrowed elements from other popular mecha series. The main character was a little annoying, but it was clear that was the point. (Entire thing reminded me of NGE, which was clearly the inspiration behind the game.) The structure of the game caught me off guard as well, as it used a city map system with missions popping up in different areas. These missions acted as the "stages" in the game, but what made them unique is the fact that damage carried over between said missions. So if a building got destroyed during the fight during, say, mission #2, but you came back for mission # 10, that same building would be gone. Which is where the struggles come into play.

First time playing through the story I didn't care about being perfect. I destroyed everything in my way, and took out the bad guys anyway possible. I really liked the game though, and didn't want it to end -- so I checked the trophy list to see if it was something I could accomplish. It was! However one of the requirements was to get A ranks on all stages, and to do that you can't have any building damage. See the problem? If you mess up at all near the start, that makes it impossible to continue getting A ranks, so you had to be perfect. But of course, I was up to the challenge!

Although it didn't take me long to do, I really had a lot of fun with this platinum. It extended the length of the game for me as I was replaying it, and it made me actually learn how to play the game. It's pretty short overall, but that's also what helps give it such replayability. It's honestly a game I would've replayed multiple times even without a trophy goal, but the trophies gave me something to work for. Overall it's a solid mecha game, but it honestly does get blown away by it's sequel. But I feel like that's how sequels should work?

Zone of the Enders was Platinum #7.

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Friday, June 16, 2023

A Complete Run Down of the MegaMan Timelines (Classic and Battle Network)

With the release of MegaMan Battle Network, the series has seen quite the surge in popularity again. So I figured now would be the perfect time to write something I've wanted to cover for a long time -- the MegaMan Timeline.

Now a lot of people might think that MegaMan is just a kids platforming game with little to no story, but I'm here today to prove them all wrong. The "crazy" truth is, MegaMan is actually quite complicated, and there's more than one timeline at play here. That's why some confusion pops up when talking about MegaMan Battle Network, and then comparing it with the rest of the greater MegaMan series. So with today's post, I want to also clear up that confusion, and go down the complete timeline.

Before we get started however, let me explain a little bit about the timeline, and where my information comes from. First of all, the series has a whole has been handled by multiple teams, and because of that some things can get a bit confusing. Parts of the story has actually been retconned, while some pieces of information actually come from the "dev team's point of view" and may or may not line up with what other teams originally intended. This especially becomes true when looking at the Zero and ZX series, as these games were developed by Inti Create. As for the source of my information -- most of it comes directly from the games, as well as the Official Complete Works books that has been released for multiple games in the series. (More specifically the MegaMan Zero books when referring to the Zero and ZX parts of the timeline.) For the sake of this blog post, I will mainly only be covering what is considered canon, and I will discuss gray areas where things may/may not have changed over the years. If anyone is interested to go deeper into the series than I currently have, I strongly recommend checking out the MegaMan Fan site the MegaMan Home Page or the MegaMan Fandom (Wikia). There's a lot to this series as a whole, so I'm really only going to be covering the basics here. Also if you find that anything I've said is in correct or you don't agree with it, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Also here's a general spoiler warning, as I'll be going into what needs to be said, but without giving away too much of the plot or overall story.

So with that being said... Let's get started.

The Beginning and the Split:

The beginning of the MegaMan timeline is also where our split occurs. In some ways this split can be seen as two different worlds, as it has never been made 100% clear if this branch ever really existed in the same timeline. Using the information we have from the games however, you can consider the two timelines two separate universes, that diverged in one major way. These universes share a similar background, but the characters differ slightly... Confused? Well don't worry, it's nothing too crazy (yet).

The Classic Timeline:

Before the start of MegaMan 1 (Classic) we find two scientists named Dr. Light and Dr. Wily. These two scientists are best friends, and work together to bring the sci-fi world of robotics into reality. The two eventually go on to develop a robot known as ProtoMan, but the two scientists fail to see eye to eye. Eventually the two have a falling out, and they both split off to do their own thing.

After the split, Dr. Light goes on to create a "son" named Rock, and a "daughter" named Roll. The two robots are his pride and joy, but are of course they aren't Light's only creations. Wanting to help the world, he created a series of "Robot Masters" to help with different tasks -- such as for construction. These robots were released into the world, and were working out completely fine; however, a jealous Dr. Wily had other plans for them. Hijacking the robots, Dr. Wily turns them into an army under his control, and sets them loose on the world to cause mass destruction. In order to fight back against Dr. Wily and free his fellow robot friends, Rock asks Dr. Light to turn him into a fighting robot, and becomes MegaMan (RockMan in Japan).

Going forward, the classic story is pretty straight forward. MegaMan 1 follows MegaMan as he takes out each of the Robot Masters, eventually fights Dr. Wily, and in the end sends him to jail. The next few games follow the same pattern of Dr. Wily getting out of jail and attempting to take down MegaMan with his new robots, but things eventually do change. ProtoMan reenters the picture pretty early on in the series and acts as both a friend and rival to his brother MegaMan, but it's not really until MegaMan 7 that we see a true rival character. And that character is a robot known as Bass.

Bass first shows up in MegaMan 7, and is Dr. Wily's answer to Dr. Light's MegaMan. Of course Bass doesn't actually like Wily or really follow his orders, but he does want to beat MegaMan himself, so their interests sometimes align. However, it's not Bass himself who will go on to change the series forever, but rather Bass' successor.

In MegaMan 8, an alien machine crashes into the earth, and both Dr. Light and Dr. Wily race to the crash site to see what's going on. Of course Light sent MegaMan in his place, but Wily beats him there and recovers what he's looking for. A strange energy source known as the "Evil Energy." This Evil Energy doesn't really come into play for the rest of MegaMan 8, but it has a major role concerning the rest of the series. 

Around this time, unknown to everyone else, Dr. Light also begins his new project. A new version of MegaMan he calls "MegaMan X." This new robot was created to have unlimited potential (hence the X in it's name), and also have the ability to think for itself and have feelings. While robots like MegaMan seem to have feelings, and can think for themselves -- ultimately, they can never go past their programming. MegaMan has a strong sense of justice, but that's just how he's made. Like the Robot Masters in MegaMan 1, he too could be reprogrammed to change his way of thinking. X on the other hand, is a new type or robot, and as close to human as possible. Only problem is, the world itself might not be ready for such a thing. Fearing what would happen if he was released, Dr. Light seals X away and runs tests on him to evaluate what type of robot he might become. Until the world itself is ready for him, X remains locked away.

On the flip side, Dr. Wily is also working on a robot similar to X, and to act as a follow up to Bass. Using the Evil Energy obtained in MegaMan 8, Wily completes his project, and shows a sneak peak to Bass during the events of the second MegaMan arcade game (which takes place after MegaMan 8). This robot dubbed "Zero" won't be released for some time, but once he is... It might've spelled the end for Dr. Light.

The only clue we have to what happened after the Classic series actually goes back to MegaMan X4 (don't worry we'll get to it). In X4 we see flash backs to Wily releasing Zero, and telling Zero about his rival Dr. Light. What did Zero do/what happened after this point? It's all fan speculation.

MegaMan X - 100 Years Later:

The second main series in the MegaMan timeline is MegaMan X and opens up roughly 100 years after the events of Classic.

At some point in time Dr. Light has passed away, and the robots he brought to the world are long gone. His lab has fallen to ruin, and MegaMan X remains inside. It isn't until a scientist by the name of Dr. Cain comes along, that X is discovered, and studied for how different he is. It's Dr. Cain who then sees the benefit in having robots that could think for themselves, and so he decides to reproduce Dr. Light's work and creates the "Reploid" line of robots. Robots based on MegaMan X, with all of his capabilities.

Needless to say... The world really wasn't ready.

Reploids that can think for themselves, is the same thing as humans thinking for themselves -- except much more dangerous. These things are massive machines, that can be turned into war machines as well. They have guns, swords, rockets, jets... You name it! If such a robot turns on humanity, then they will kill everything in their path. Such Reploids are officially dubbed as "Mavericks," and a group of Reploids are brought together to fight against such threats -- the "Maverick Hunters."

Leading the Maverick Hunters is an advanced Reploid by the name of Sigma. He's the best of the best, and has other elite Reploids under his command. Together with his team, Sigma protects humanity from the rogue Reploids, and peace is somewhat returned... That is, until one particular incident.

At some point in time, Zero gets released from Dr. Wily's lab, and goes completely crazy. Sigma is called in to deal with the threat, but things don't go exactly as planned. Although Sigma is able to stop the rampaging Zero, he shatters the crystal on Zero's helmet, and the "Evil Energy" seemingly transfers from Zero to Sigma himself. This marks the start of Sigma's decent into madness, and the events that will change the world forever.

Eventually X himself joins the Maverick Hunters (as he feels responsible for bringing Reploids into the world), and Zero is recruited as well. X and Zero become friends during this time, but X is nowhere near as strong as Zero. Sigma does betray the Maverick Hunters and sets out to destroy the world, and he also takes many of the Maverick Hunters with him. This leaves X and Zero as two of the remaining hunters that can deal with this new Maverick threat (now lead by Sigma), and that's where MegaMan X1 begins.

Now X1 actually has three versions of it's events. You have the original game summaries that basically just describe Sigma turning Maverick, you have a manga adaptation of MegaMan X, and you have the Anime OVA Day of Sigma. The OVA was actually created for the remake of X1 titled "Maverick Hunter X" and shows the moment Sigma turns on everyone, and bombs the city. It serves as a pretty nice prequel to the first game, but it does have some story changes. In this version Dr. Cain himself is nearing the end of his life, and is killed in the explosions. Considering Dr. Cain appears in future MegaMan X games, you can consider this non-canon for the main timeline, but most likely would've been the new canon for Maverick Hunter X2 on up (if they would've happened).


MegaMan X1 follows X and Zero taking down the Mavericks as well as Sigma. Zero is ultimately killed during the final section of the game, and leaves X alone to take down Sigma. X receives power ups left behind by Dr. Light throughout the game, and this is ultimately what gives him the power to beat Sigma. (While X1 has holographic recordings of Dr. Light attached to each upgrade, it's also implied that this may be an AI or Dr. Light's consciousness uploaded. Thus this hologram is actually aware of what's happening in the world.) And while Zero dying might seem like a spoiler, it's actually a reoccurring theme during the rest of the series.

Moving forward, X2 follows X as he continues his life as a Maverick Hunter without Zero by his side. The game introduces new characters, and one in particular looks very similar to a robot version of Dr. Wily. It's actually this Reploid who restores Zero and brings him back into the main story to help X stop Sigma once again. X3 focuses on a new "Anti Virus" to prevent Reploids from turning into Mavericks, but of course the virus fails and infects more. As expected Sigma is behind it, and X and Zero work together again to take him down. Yes it's a very basic story for the first three games in general, but things continue to develop from here on out.

X4 is where things take a turn, and more story is put into the games as a whole. X4 not only focuses on X and how he wants to find a way to bring peace to the world, but it also dives into Zero's story and who he is. As mentioned before, this is where we get to see glimpses of Zero's past, as well as him with Dr. Wily, and the modern day story causes Zero to question who he is and "what he is fighting for." As for the overall plot, it focuses on an army of Reploids who try to form their own nation, but of course things don't go so smoothly. Again, this is the turning point for both X and Zero, and things don't get better for them from here.

X5 we see the full on impact of the Sigma virus (yes Sigma himself has become a virus). At this point Sigma has infected an entire space station, and has set it on a collision course with the Earth, and it is up to X and Zero to put an end to it. To do so, they need to build the "Enigma Cannon" to destroy it before it's too late, but to do so they need to gather the required parts to repair it. Unfortunately the Reploids holding the parts have been infected by the Sigma virus, and have gone Maverick themselves. At this point it is actually possible for the Enigma Cannon to shoot the space colony down, but most of the time it will fail and you'll have to move onto Plan B within the game. And that Plan B is to crash a space shuttle into the colony and destroy it once and for all -- a mission Zero himself takes on.

Canon wise, the space shuttle is what destroys the colony, but it still crashes into the Earth and causes massive damage. The Sigma virus is spread everywhere, and humans become unable to live on the surface. The world is in complete chaos, and both X and Zero head off for the final battle against Sigma in his newest body.

The last part of X5 once again focuses mainly on Zero and who he is. It's revealed that Sigma has met with Wily in the past somehow (the Reploid from X2?) and he goes into detail about how the Sigma virus wont infect Zero, but instead make him stronger. Again, this virus technically originated from Zero to begin with, so it really isn't too surprising to us players. Despite learning the truth about the virus, Zero still takes down Sigma, but once again at the cost of his own life. X is caught up in the battle as well and left almost completely destroyed, but is saved by Dr. Light. (Again, sometimes he acts like a prerecorded message left behind for X, and other times he does things like this.) This is the original end to the X series...

A few years after Sigma's defeat and Zero's death, X continues to fight against Mavericks, but this time he hold's Zero's sword in his hand.

The Split and Retcon of X and Zero Series:

Originally MegaMan Zero 1 was meant to follow X5. Inafune joined up with Inti Create and had an outline for the story to follow. The game was to begin with X returning Zero's sword to him, but the overall plot had to be adjusted moving on from there. Ultimately the X series was too successful to stop it at X5, so X6 went into development at Capcom along side Zero 1. So changes to the story had to be made.

The Last Half of the X Series:

MegaMan X6 focuses on a strange new event called the Nightmare, and it changed some of the story events around to make the new story work. The time skip at the end of X5 is changed to happening a few weeks later rather than years, and Zero is once again revived so that he continues to be a main character in the series. Due to these decisions, the story of MegaMan Zero 1 also had to be altered, and the ending of X6 had to be done in a way where it wouldn't conflict with MegaMan Zero 1. So the game ends with Zero being sealed away in order to fix an issue with his body (implied to have something to do with the maverick virus), and the story is left at that. However, once again the X series continued to be popular, so this scene was retconned to take place at an "unknown point of time" so that more games could exist. In other words, this scene is the end of the X series timeline wise, but there are more events that take place between X6's normal ending, and Zero's final scene.

Moving on from there, we have X7 where new generation reploids become a thing, and the new main character Axl is introduced, and X8 that seemingly sets up the future where these new generation of reploids will take over. This is also the game where Sigma is killed once and for all, as a new big bad takes over. Unfortunately, this is where the X series technically comes to an end, so the future is still unknown.

Timeline wise we also have MegaMan X Command Mission which focuses on stopping a reploid rebellion, but the game is considered to be it's own timeline/world at the time of this writing. As the game released before X8, but takes place "after," it's impossible to tell at this time if it's truly a part of the canon as the X series has yet to continue.

The Elf Wars:

Sometime after the events of the X series, a new threat emerged. Using a new AI being known as the "Mother Elf," X manages to delete the Sigma Virus and put an end to the whole Maverick issue that plagued the world. However one evil man by the name of Dr. Weil decides to use the Mother Elf for his own plans instead, and captures her and uses her to put reploids under his control. On top of this, Weil takes Zero's body and creates a new reploid, dubbed Omega, and sets his very own Elf Wars into action. Zero is eventually built a new body, and both he and X put an end to the wars, but at the cost of the lives of most of the population. Once the war was over, Zero was once again sealed away, and a safe haven for humans and reploids known as "Neo Arcadia" is created -- with X as it's leader.

The Zero Series:

The Zero series begins some time after the Elf Wars and features Zero as the main character (obviously). It follows Zero as he's recovered by a young scientist named Ceil who leads a resistance group against Neo Arcadia. Neo Arcadia's government has taken over the world, and began killing innocent reploids as they pleased. Zero is told this is because their leader, X, has become corrupt, but things ultimately aren't that simple.

While the Zero series is only four games long, they are much more story focused than the previous X series, and feature hub areas to explore, multiple characters to talk to, and follow a different mission style structure. The series has plenty of characters with a wide range of backgrounds and mini story arcs to discover, and also once again dives into who Zero is. Zero 4 especially relies on the events of MegaMan X5, while Zero 1 serves as an introduction to this new version of the world. Eventually it's revealed that the X running Neo Arcadia is a fake, and that the real X has been turned into a Cyber Elf himself as he attempted to watch over the world alone. With Zero's return however, he takes a step back, and leaves the fate of the world in the hands of his best friend.

By the end of the Zero series, Zero is once again forced to go up against Dr. Weil, and finally puts an end to his plan of using the Dark Elf.... It's just, this time Zero also doesn't survive.

The thing about the Zero series and it's placement in the timeline, is that the dev team over at Inti Creates had a plan from the get go. Previously the MegaMan series jumped into the 3D gaming space with a title called MegaMan Legends. Now this game did have multiple changes for the US release, but it's overall plot did remain the same. That being said, the game was set at the "end" of the MegaMan timeline, and the Zero dev team wanted to use the new Zero series to help lead the timeline to this point. This is one of the main reasons the reploids in Zero were given more human like appearances, and why Legends like designs could be seen throughout the games. With the events of Zero ending the way that they do, it left the series open to a new beginning, and would eventually lead the series to it's Legends conclusion... But things change...

The ZX Series:

The ZX series was the follow up to Zero, and took place hundreds of years after Zero. This time around humans and reploids have both advanced to the point where it's nearly impossible to tell them apart from each other (reploids now have biological parts, while humans are mechanically enhanced), except reploids are given a red triangle symbol on their heads. The story follows a corrupt government once again, with the main character being a human who joins the resistance. This time around the resistance is lead by a reploid who was a supporting character in the Zero series, and the main human character fights using a new device known as a "Bio Metal." Bio Metals are objects that contain the data of reploids from the past, and using them humans are able to transform into a version of said reploid. In ZX1's case, the main character (default character is a boy named Vent) gets Model X and transforms into a version of MegaMan X. He eventually gets Model Z as well (for Zero), as well as some other Bio Metals based off of other characters from the Zero series.

Sadly the ZX series only received two entries, with the second game (ZX Advent) focusing more on the mysterious new Model A that is very similar to the reploid Axl from the X series. Unfortunately, ZXA ends on a cliffhanger where a character reveals his plan to "reset" the world... Could this have been the event that leads to Legends? We may never know...

A World of Endless Water:

MegaMan Legends takes place far into the future, on an Earth that has been almost completely flooded. People live on small islands throughout the world, and many make a living as "Diggers" exploring old ruins from the world's past. The main character of this series is a 14 year old boy who was discovered sleeping in some old ruins, and is adopted by a famous Digger named Barrell Caskett. Barrell names the boy Rock (MegaMan in the US version... Which I'll touch on that soon...), and decides to raise him along side his granddaughter Roll. 

MegaMan Legends 1 focuses on the family crash landing on an island and going up against the pirates who show up looking for the treasure said to be hidden there, while Legends 2 focuses more on Roll and her parents who vanished when she was little. At first glance the games don't seem to have too much of a connection to the rest of the series, but both the ending of Legends 1, and specific events in Legends 2 help shed some light on that.

The truth is... This is so far into the future, that humanity has completely died out, and the "humans" that have replaced them are basically the next step in reploid evolution.

Rock himself is actually a "RockMan Unit" as part of the old system created by the last human being. His job was as an "Irregular Hunter" (the Japanese name for Maverick Hunters), and his job was to keep the order. But one thing lead to another, Rock was seriously injured, and he was sealed away within some ruins -- where Barrell would eventually discover him. 

As for the name changes in the English release... It kinda kills the plot twist. (Although me saying all of this does as well.) Rock was a seemingly "normal" teenager, with it being revealed that he's actually a RockMan Unit. Meanwhile in the US release, this "normal" kid is named MegaMan, and is actually a MegaMan Unit. Doesn't quite have the same impact when the so called normal kid is already named MegaMan...

And this is the current end to the series! No game has taken place after MegaMan Legends 2, with Legends 3 being canceled many years ago. It's a shame we haven't continued past this point, but maybe someday it'll happen... But, that's not the end of MegaMan.

Filling in the Gaps of the Classic Timeline:

Due to there being multiple time skips, there's plenty of room to fill in the gaps. MegaMan 9, 10, and 11 are all "newer" entries in the classic series, and all take place before X. X itself has ended on a cliffhanger with X8, and there's still quite a bit of time between X8 and X6's Zero ending. The Elf Wars themselves have never been shown in a game, only talked about, and the ZX series also ends on a cliffhanger. Not to mention there's a time skip between Zero and ZX that could be visited if they chose to, and there's a massive gap between ZX and Legends in general. So even if we get a sequel to ZX Advent, it doesn't mean that sequel would take us directly to Legends. Basically it's possible for entire new MegaMan Classic timeline series to be created thanks to these gaps, and games like MegaMan Classic, X, ZX, and Legends can always have direct sequels. So, this story is far from over... And this is still only one branch of the timeline.

Going Back to the Split:

So as I explained way back at the beginning, we have a point where the two main timelines diverged. In the Classic Timeline we have Dr. Light and Dr. Wily working together to create robots, but in the Battle Network timeline... Things went quite a bit different.

In Battle Network, this world's version of Dr. Wily is working along side a man named Dr. Hikari (which translates to Light). Wily focuses on robot research just as we see in the Classic series, but Dr. Hikari turns his focus towards creating a virtual cyber world. Needless to say, Dr. Wily becomes jealous of this world's version of Dr. Light, as Dr. Hikari's internet research is given more of a focus, and in return changes the world. Thanks to that research, the entire world becomes connected to the cyber world, and everyone begins carrying around handheld computers with their very own AI companions within them. This is what creates the world of Battle Network.

The Battle Network Series:

While the Battle Network timeline isn't as long or as complicated as the Classic timeline -- it is an RPG series and has much more story due to that. The first game in the series introduces us to our main character Lan (Netto in Japan... Yes, it's exactly what you might be thinking right now), and his AI Net Navi MegaMan.EXE. The two get caught up in cyber terrorist attacks being lead by Dr. Wily, and shows how the two eventually put an end to his plot. Of course, this is only scratching the surface, as Battle Network 2 introduces us to a new big bad, which in return connects to Battle Network 1's story, which is then expanded upon in Battle Network 3. Battle Network 4 begins a new story arc (which still builds off of what 1-3 set), and 5 and 6 serve as a conclusion to the story overall. A lot of things happen along the way however, and many of these events somewhat tie back into what we saw in the Classic series. Robots like Cutman from MegaMan 1 are seen in this series as Net Navis instead, and most are bad guys/play similar roles in this timeline as well. So again, while the series isn't as long as the main Classic timeline -- the games themselves are packed full of story and content.

Due to the nature of Battle Network, I prefer not to spoil the series. Timeline wise, it is pretty straight forward (as I explained above), but there's actually three versions of it.

The story canon to the games is as follows: Battle Network, Network Transmission, Battle Network 2, 3, Chip Challenge, 4, 5, and 6 -- with a non canon spin off "navi simulator" titled 4.5. This is the main timeline of Battle Network, with the other two timelines coming from other media.

On the anime side of things, we have a retelling of the Battle Network story, with tons of added content, and completely changed stories made just for the show. Season 1 is an adaptation of mainly Battle Network 1 and 2 (with great alterations), while Axess, Steam, Beast, and Beast + go their own routes completely. In other words, things seen in the show, don't relate back to the games, outside of borrowing characters.

The manga for Battle Network is more of an adaptation of the games compared to the anime, but even this timeline is different. It does however have a special (newly released) chapter that serves as an epilogue to both the games and manga, so that's a little bit of a gray area... And it's also the current "end" to the first series in this cyber world based timeline.

Star Force:

MegaMan Star Force is the second series in the alternate timeline, and takes place 200 years after Battle Network. It shows a world where the virtual world has turned into wi-fi networks, and humanity has finally broken away from relying on Net Navis... Or at least at first. The first game focuses on Geo, a young boy who lost his dad in a space accident, and an alien who fuses with him to transform him into the new super hero in town -- MegaMan. The two go up against other aliens and the humans they've fused with, and it mostly focuses on Geo trying to find a place in the world, and finally getting him to open up to others. Moving forward however, things do shift back towards the way things were in Battle Network. In SF3 a new version of navis finally return, and everyone in the world has them again, but unfortunately this is currently where things end. Star Force 3 is the last entry in the timeline, and we currently don't know where things will head from here. However, there was one small addition...

Operation Shooting Star was a remake of Battle Network 1, but actually begins with Geo (after the events of Star Force 3) traveling back in time to stop a new threat. This story arc takes place during a time skip that happened during Battle Network 1, and shows Lan and Geo meeting, and working together to stop this evil time traveler. The way it's handled makes it so nothing from Battle Network 1 (or the series in general) is retconned, and it also doesn't really advance the Star Force series. It's simply an extra story added into an enhanced remake of the original game. But it happened, and that's why I'm mentioning it here!

And then you have the anime.

Like Battle Network, Star Force also received an anime adaptation, which was a bit closer to what the games had to offer... But not really. While it didn't break away and do crazy things like the BN anime did, it still did it's own overall story. That being said, this anime series was a sequel to Battle Network's Beast +, so it falls into the very same anime timeline. It's just unlike BN, it only lasted for two series -- Star Force, and Tribe.

The End:

And that's basically it! My complicated long winded explanation of the MegaMan Timeline! If you actually read through all of that, and didn't get confused... Congrats and thank you for taking the time!! Yeah, this ended up being longer than I expected... But I also had fun going back through it. It reminded me how much I love this series as a whole, and how much I can't wait for new entries to be finally released. There's so much left open, so I hope one day we can finally fill in these gaps.

Well until next time guys!

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