Monday, March 20, 2023

Resident Evil 4 Anime Short

I know everyone and their mom is sharing this video, but it's pretty great -- so I'm sharing it too. In honor of Resident Evil 4's remake coming out this week, Capcom has released a mini anime short. Of course it's going to be funnier to those who are familiar with Resident Evil 4, but I'd say anyone interested in the game can still watch. It doesn't spoil anything.

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Saturday, March 18, 2023

How I Became a Fan of Bomberman

Here's something I don't talk about a lot. I love the Bomberman series! Sure, I'm not some super fan or anything, but I do really enjoy the games. I've played the vast majority of them at this point, and it's something I'll play once in awhile when I feel like playing something different. It's a series that has been around for a long time now, but for me -- it's actually one that I had a unique introduction to. Instead of going to the store and buying a Bomberman game like many others did -- it was more of an adventure for me. And that's the story I wanted to share with you all today.

So, technically the first time I ever even heard about Bomberman was back on the PlayStation. My uncle was the first person I knew who got a PS1, and he'd often invite me over to try out different games on it. Along with his actual games, he also had multiple demo discs, and both me and my cousins (not his kids -- he didn't have any) would sit around the TV and try them out. One demo disc in particular had a demo for Bomberman World. I don't think any of us knew what it was, but when we realized it was a multiplayer "battle" type game, I remember we sat around for an hour or so just replaying the demo over and over. I thought it was fun, but I never did ask my parents for a Bomberman game -- that's all I played of it as a kid. In fact, I wouldn’t see anything of Bomberman again, until I was in high school.

The reason I got into Bomberman technically all circles back to my friend “Vile.” Back when I ran my MegaMan and Sonic fan sites, he joined them and started using names like “Altair” with an avatar to go along with said names. One day I eventually asked him what it was, and he explained Bomberman 64 to me. He went into the story, who the characters were, and how the sequel continued to expand on things. It sounded really cool to me, and made me want to get into the series myself. I eventually managed to track down Bomberman 64 (and later played 64 Second Attack), but until then my go to became Bomberman Jetters — the anime. 

Back then Crunchyroll was a well known anime streaming service, where pretty much anyone could upload anything anime related. This meant it was mostly fan subs (as anime was not popular as it is today), and you never really knew what would be on there day to day. As I used the site to watch Macross 7 (which is finally getting released in the West after all these years!), I figured it would be my best bet to get into Bomberman Jetters as well. And yeah, I wasn’t wrong! They had every episode, and I started binge watching it every change I got… I loved it! While the story/characters were different from what other Bomberman games were (it’s even different from the Bomberman Jetters video games — there are technically 3 if you count Generations), but it was really cool. It followed the story of young White Bomber wanting to join the Jetters, and follow in his brother’s footsteps. It was sorta monster of the weekish, but it was a really fun kids show. It made me want to play Bomberman even more, and motivated me to make it a reality.

Although Bomberman 64 didn’t exactly click with me, I still liked it. I managed to find a copy at Slackers (a store for used games/cds/movies/etc), but unfortunately my copy looked like it had been stuck in the dirt. It took hours to clean all of the mud off of the contacts, but thankfully the game still worked. Vile gave me advice on how to get through the game (it’s pretty challenging), and later on I moved on to Bomberman 64 Second Attack (which I liked more). I also grabbed the old GBC and GBA games once I got the chance, and downloaded what the virtual console had on the Wii. I never actually finished them, but they kept me wanting more. Bomberman Land Touch became one of my favorite DS games at the time (a mini game collection style game), and Bomberman Land Wii became one of my favorite Wii games as well. Later on I eventually talked my mom into getting me Bomberman Jetters on the GameCube, but we had to pay a pretty penny from it, and got it from a short lived local used game store. I feel like it was worth the price, but it made me sad to see the opening theme song had been removed from the US release (which was also common back in the day). Heck, I liked all of these games so much, I actually considered getting Bomberman Zero despite knowing how bad it was! But that never actually happened. (Most likely a good thing.) While I did skip over rereleases and Xbox Live arcade and PSN release, I made sure Bomberman R was one of the two launch games I bought when the Switch came out. And that brings us to today.

Even though Bomberman isn’t my go to game to play, it’s a series that is special to me, and I always look forward to seeing more from it. I’d love to see another RPG or action/adventure entry in the series, and I’d love for the Bomberman Jetters anime to get an official release sometime. I know it’s very unlikely, but it’s one of the few series that we still have no way to watch officially. As for the older games — I’m still waiting for the day a collection comes out for them as well. As often as the original titles get released, I still find it weird that we haven’t seen 64, Second Attack, Heroes, Generation, or Jetters get another release. Maybe they weren’t as popular as I’d like to think they were, but I still feel like they deserve to see the light of day again. It’s just a fun series, and I wish more people could experience more of its highlights. 

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Monday, March 13, 2023

Anime Monday - MegaMan NT Warrior (Rockman.EXE)

It's been 3 years since I last did an Anime Monday blog post, but with the announcement of MegaMan NT Warrior being streamed over Twitch later this month, I thought it was the perfect time to talk about the series! You see, I was beyond excited to hear a show for MegaMan Battle Network was coming out. I still remember when I was watching Kids WB (for Pokemon mainly) on Saturday morning, and when the commercial came across! It was something I never expected -- the game series I loved so much, was getting a show, and now I could finally show my friends what I had been talking about for years. It was going to be great! Of course, it wasn't all great...

When the show finally released, I was the kid waking up early Saturday morning each week to make sure I didn't miss the newest episode. To put it bluntly, it was pretty much everything I had hoped for! It did a great job introducing the characters, and episode 1 added a scene where Lan meets his Net Navi MegaMan, and included the stove fire arc that begins the first Battle Network game. It was perfect for those who knew nothing about the series, as well as long time fans. So that being said, what is it about? Well...


NT Warrior is an anime adaptation of MegaMan Battle Network, which in return is a spin off/side series in the MegaMan series. It takes place in it's own world/timeline, and showcases a world where the vast majority of it is connected to the internet, and everyone has handheld computers with virtual AI (or Net Navis) in them. Net Navis are basically living beings (just made out of data), so they're much more advanced than the AI we see in our real world. They become life long friends to those who own them, and can be used in a verity of different ways. Lan himself is into Net Battling -- which is where Navis fight other Navis using special Battle Chips loaded into the handheld computers (a device known as a PET). This is also how he fights back against viruses that invade the Cyber World, and protects his friends and family. Again, the first episode focuses on how Lan got MegaMan, and shows the cyber terrorist Mr. Match set his house on fire using Lan's stove. Of course the stove is connected to the internet, which shows us right away why it might not be a good idea to be fully connected online. (Keep in mind, this series came out in 2001, so all of this was sci-fi at the time.) 

Going forward, each episode of the anime focused on different big bads from the games, and did mini story arcs that revolved around them. Some of these stories are loosely based on events from the games, but for the most part NT Warrior goes off and does it's own thing. Once the characters were brought in, the creators of the show were free to do as they wish with said characters, and create all new stories revolving around them in the process. This actually worked out for the better, as it allowed them to tell more stories than the original games had -- and helped develop the characters even more. Once the major leads were introduced, the show took a major turn from the original games, and went off in it's own direction completely.

While Battle Network 3 featured a small tournament arc, the show took it to another level and had it play out during the events of Battle Network 1's story instead. This is where more major BN1 characters entered the mix, and the tournament itself became the main focus point of the overall story. It would eventually lead to some other crazy/unexpected events, which would be the turning point for the original part in the anime. Of course I'll avoid spoiling it, but let's just say I still consider it one of my favorite stories in the entire series. And it only got better from there.

Eventually the anime did get into events from Battle Network 2, but even this had multiple major changes. Net City was introduced to the show, and it became the main setting for the Cyber World scenes. It was something new and unique that the games didn't have, and it allowed them to dive into even more unique plot points. The evil group Gospel got introduced as well, but the dub renamed them "Grave" and changed their story greatly. This wasn't a bad thing necessarily, but it was a little bit of a let down to see how much of BN2 (and 3) got rushed to conclude the first series. Thankfully the anime original content continued to be unique and interesting, and it embraced the fact that it was it's own thing moving forward. This is when things got really crazy.


"Lan turned into MegaMan!" 

I still remember hearing the commercial on TV and being excited once again. This is when the series hit a much higher popularity, and they were ready to cash in on non stop toys and games! Walmart's toy section had countless action figures, cards, props, and other MegaMan NT Warrior related merch, and I loved it! As for the show itself, it returned with exactly what that quote said. In Axess the Cyber World comes to the real world, and virtual domes cover different parts of the city. These areas are where virtual viruses and Net Navis can walk around said real world, and cause mass destruction! To counter this, our heroes come up with a way to fuse people with their Net Navis, and of course our hero Lan is the first to do so. Using Cross Fusion, Lan gains MegaMan's armor and abilities (with MegaMan basically talking to him/helping guide him by being inside Lan's head), and fights off the new "Dark Loids" who are attacking humanity. While the Dark Loids themselves are adapted from Battle Network 4 -- again the show has nothing to do with BN4's original story (besides a few plot points at least). From here on out the series mostly focuses on the real world, and humans fighting against the new "monster of the week." It's a familiar concept, with shows like Power Rangers and all, and it works very VERY well for MegaMan.

At this point the show also got much more violent, and dove into darker topics. This is where our issues arise, but it's with the dub and not the original show. (More on this later.) Now we have real humans getting hurt/possibly dying, and there are even scenes of mass destruction that make it clear people were killed. Axess also has some pretty messed up scenes revolving around fan favorite character Chaud, but again this is something I wont spoil. Once again, that story arc is great, and easily one of the highlights of the show. Still, this had to be heavily censored for it to be released outside of Japan.

Axess ends on a cliffhanger that introduces the real threat to humanity, but unfortunately, this was the end in the US.


Stream is the season we never got sadly, and it's also where things get pretty insane to say the least. Cross Fusion becomes even more of a bigger deal, with multiple characters being able to use it, and even bigger and badder villains to take down. This season even got a movie, and featured yet another pretty shocking character arc. It was such a good season, but even more violent than the last. Compared to the games, it basically covered Battle Network 4 and 5, but again, only characters and a few plot points were actually included. I can't stress this enough -- the anime is it's own thing.


Beast was the follow up to Stream, and used Battle Network 6 as a base. This seasons focus on the Cyber Beasts, and actually has our heroes being pulled into another world. (Yes, this is an isekai.) In this world time flows differently, so alternate versions of those who have died are very much still alive, and Net Navis are able to walk around in the real world freely. It's a pretty unique season, but sadly it wasn't as long as the previous ones. It was also the beginning of the end.

Beast +:

The follow up to Beast was Beast +, and this is where a lot changed. The show was cut down to 10 minute episodes (including opening and ending), and it had a low episode count. It felt more like one continuous movie split into 10 minute blocks, rater than watching full anime episodes. Sure, a lot happened in them, but it wasn't as developed as the previous series. It's events were roughly based on MegaMan Network Transmission (which is a spin off platforming game that took place between Battle Network 1 and 2), but once again, it was mainly only characters that got pulled from Network Transmission. (One of which being the Zero Virus.) Sadly due to this format, the show only had a limited time to end the world and save it, and they ultimately had to throw in some characters last minute. It wasn't the best send off for the series, and it instantly lead into Ryuusei no Rockman (MegaMan Starforce).

The Issue with the Dub:

Remember when I said things weren't all good? Besides that final season, the main issue was with our version. The dub had to be censored. The thing is, while MegaMan NT Warrior was being aimed at kids and was airing on the Kids WB block (which is where shows like Pokemon, Static Shock, and other action yet kid friendly shows could be found), the original Rockman.EXE wasn't quite the same in Japan. Sure it was still technically a "kid's anime," but in Japan you can get away with a lot more than what you can in the west. With Rockman.EXE's increasing violence, more and more had to be removed as the show went on. Originally shots where MegaMan pointed his buster gun at the camera were removed, and swords were given a glow to make them look more like beam swords. These changes didn't really hurt too much, but many fight scenes would even remove the impact of hits, and remove the more "graphic" sword strikes. (Sometimes the limbs of the Net Navis would be cut off, or virus programs would be cut in half, etc.) This censorship wasn't actually consistent throughout the series, but it eventually got to the point where you had episodes that had to fill in for lost time. One episode in specific had a random prolonged shot of the Net Battle Tournament's stadium for no reason other than having to fill in for all the time that was lost to cut content. Of course this didn't "ruin" the show, but at the rate it was being censored, it's hard telling how far they could've possibly continued.

With Axess bringing the fighting to the real world, things were cut down even more. Of course any blood (even virtual blood) was taken out as well, and (as I mentioned before) scenes where people die were done in a way to make you think no one was in the area/harmed. Trucks and cars blowing up? Eh it's fine, those were the new self driving prototypes that they just happened to have in a single episode. No big deal. Then you have characters who are held hostage at gun point, yet no gun exists. Classic 4kids style censorship. Again, it's not like you couldn't follow what was happening with the show with changes like these, but unfortunately it mixed with other changes really hampered the experience. Full episodes were cut/skipped over, any reference to Lan and Mayl having feelings for each other was removed, and a lot of the music was changed as well! Gone are the amazing opening theme songs (which remixes of said songs were used during the episodes as well for heroic moments, sad moments, and touching moments -- so the impact of those scenes just weren't the same), and in their place was generic "MegaMan.... MegaMan.... MegaMan... The Net Battle is About to Begin!.... MegaMan!.... MegaMan NT Warrior!" sayings. It's nostalgic for those of us who grew up watching the dub, but it can't even compare to the real opening songs. 

Then you have the whole issue of the show getting canceled after Axess. We stopped at basically the half way point, and at the moment where things get crazy. Sadly a lot of people didn't realize this is what happened, and that's actually what lead me to the creation of my username "NettoSaito." Back then Kids WB had a forum to discuss MegaMan NT Warrior, and I saw it was filled with kids wondering what would happen next. So I signed up for the site, and my username of "Netto" was too short to be accepted. So I stuck Saito onto the end of it (key character in the Battle Network games), and thus "NettoSaito" was born. (Again, Japanese names of Lan, and this other key character who is technically a spoiler... So I'll leave it at that.) Anyway, I made sure to inform them of what happened next, and let them know that Kids WB had dropped it at that point. I hated telling them that, but I figured they should at least know that it wasn't technically over -- but still, it was something they most likely would never be able to finish.

Eventually MegaMan did return to Toonami Jetstream (the online streaming website for Toonami back before it originally closed), but this was actually MegaMan Starforce -- and once again a modified version. Like Beast +, the Starforce anime was done in 10 minute blocks, so the English dub took this and spliced episodes together to make something a little more complete. In theory this sounds like a good thing, but again it too was censored. Scenes that contained "offensive" content was reserved for slide shows/episode narrations or intros to explain what was going on, but the scenes themselves weren't actually shown/weren't fully played out. This even included one of the intro scenes where our main character Geo meets his friends for the first time -- an important scene that was pretty much completely skipped and only slightly explained. The scene was most likely removed due to one of the characters getting hit in a bad spot, but whatever. No excuse to remove the entire scene just for a few seconds -- but that's how that dub worked. Other than that, it honestly wasn't too bad of a dub, but Toonami shut down, and they didn't keep going with it. Heck, even in Japan the show ended after it's second series "Tribes." By this point Battle Network/Star Force had seemingly ran it's course, and that was the end.

Is it Worth Watching Today:

So with everything being said and done.... Is it worth watching? Yes. I'd say so. The show does the whole monster of the week thing, but it's entertaining, and has a lot of great moments throughout the entire show. I'd say anyone who is interested in MegaMan Battle Network (or anyone who is a fan of the games) should check it out for sure. Of course it being a kid's show based on a game series means they play it a little "safe" with some things, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have it's share of drama as well. Typically you don't have to worry about your main cast dying or anything, but that doesn't mean they don't go through hard times, nor does it mean death isn't a part of the show -- it's just one of those series you know that at least the main character will make it out okay. But that's fine, not every anime needs to be like that. NT Warrior is a fun adventure, with fun fights, and many, many different stories to be told. It's a series you can easily watch off and on as the mood hits you, but specific story arcs are ones you'll want to finish watching back to back. Of course the show wont appeal to everyone, but in general I'd recommend most to check it out. The only down side is that at this time fan subs are the only way to truly experience it -- unless you understand Japanese. I honestly can't recommend NT Warrior's English dub after watching the entire thing in Japanese, but if you have no choice and you are fine with how much was removed... Then it is what it is. Still worth watching. (Just do yourself a favor and watch some of the better uncensored clips online -- especially the scenes with Protoman during Axess.)

Well, I guess that's it for today's Anime Monday! Thanks for reading! 

Answer must be somewhere ~

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Sunday, March 12, 2023

Thank you SEGA for creating Judgment

So, this is something different for me. You see, me and my wife recently wrote letters to SEGA, thanking them for creating the game Judgment. Judgment is something really special to both of us, and we both felt that we should thank them in  at least some way. Even if no one ever reads it, it was something we wanted to say, and now I want to share my letter with everyone else out there as well. Normally I wouldn't post something like this, but Judgment is such a special case, and I feel like more of the world needs to know about it. Of course the following has been slightly modified to be published online -- but it's still 99% the same.

So yeah, I hope you guys like my letter, and if Judgment is something that is something to you as well -- why not do what we did and thank the developers too? I think a lot of people take for granted what these teams do for their fans, and in this case... It was something else.

Anyway, here we go. Here's my letter to SEGA:

I usually don’t write things like this, but I feel like it’s something that needs to be said — or rather, it’s something I feel I needed to let everyone at SEGA and Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio to know. 

You see, I’m a fan of the Like a Dragon (Yakuza) series. I originally got introduced to the series back around 2011 when I was looking for something to play on my new PS3. People were telling me how great Yakuza 3 was, and I decided to take their advice and try it out. Honestly my biggest let down at the time was not having access to Yakuza 1 and 2 to truly appreciate it. It was fun, but I felt like I was missing so much. I figured I would never get a chance to go back, and I kinda put the series on the back burner. I skipped Yakuza 4, and 5, but when Yakuza 0 was announced it changed everything for me. It’s a game I felt I had to have, and I went out and bought it on day one. From then on out, I made sure to pick up every release, and have been a fan since. However, things changed with Judgment…

When Judgment originally came out, I honestly didn’t spend too much time with it. Don’t get me wrong, I had fun, but I had a lot going on at the time in my life. I was working at a new job, and things kept pulling me away from playing it. Looking back now, I feel like that was a blessing in disguise. You see, I had no idea what Judgment was really going to be about, nor did I ever expect it to be something that would hit so close to home. Not just for me, but for someone I hadn’t even met yet. Someone who would go on to become my wife.

When 2020 happened, and covid had us locked inside. The unthinkable happened. I met the girl of my dreams! She had just started working with my mom, and my mom felt like we both had a lot in common and should meet. So she set us up (although she tried to make it appear like it wasn’t a setup!) and we pretty much clicked from the moment we started texting each other. Her name was Allison, and one of the first things I learned about her was she had just lost her best friend — her grandpa. Sadly he had been fighting Alzheimer’s for the last few years, and Allison had been by his side every step of the way. She became an advocate for the Alzheimer’s Association, and started fund raising to help find a cure for the horrible disease. One of the first things she told me about in our texts was how close she was to her grandpa, and how she would be once again taking part in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s event — which she then invited me to. 

As for me, my grandma on my dad’s side had Alzheimer’s nearly my entire life, so this was something that effected me as well. I remember turning 6 years old and just seeing my grandma as my grandma at my birthday. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but this would become one of my only memories of when she was herself. Sadly she would suffer a massive stroke not too long after, and it would eventually turn into full on Alzheimer’s. She didn’t remember who she was, she didn’t know who her family was, and almost daily she relived the realization that her own husband had died years before. It was horrible, and even as a little kid I realized just how sad it was that I would never really get to know my dad’s mom. It eventually got to the point where she even believed she was being held as a prisoner in her own house. She assumed her own son (who she no longer remembered) was her kidnapper, and she tried to escape almost daily. He didn’t let this stop him however. He still loved his mom, and did everything he could to make sure all her needs were met. He dedicated his life to taking care of her, and did so until the day she died. This is the grandma I knew until I was 14, and there was nothing that could be done. Alzheimer’s completely took her from us.

Anyway… Jumping back to 2020… It’s because of the walk that me and Allison finally met face to face. I invited her over to my house the day before so we could meet before the walk, but the walk itself was the first time we went out and did something together. It’s also when I got to meet her parents, and some of her other family members as well! Sure, it was a little awkward, but I had a great time, and it was for a good cause. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s isn’t something you hear a lot about, and so many people take their own memories for granted. The sad truth is, many of us will grow old and develop some form of dementia, and many of the elderly population is currently living in this reality. So many people turn a blind eye to it however, but the problem continues to persist.

After dating for awhile, the PlayStation 5 version of Judgment released, and once again I bought it on day one. Again, I didn’t have as much time to play the original release, but I was hoping to change that with the updated version. So one day I asked Allison if she wanted to check it out, because I knew she had an interest in crime drama series. She said sure, and I put the game in. This was the first time we had really sat down and played through a game side by side. At first I feel like we were both just interested in the overall story and trying to solve the murder case, but once things took a turn… It shocked us both. 

The fact that Judgment revolved around Alzheimer’s was completely unexpected! Again, this is something not many people talk about, nor is it something you see in media of any kind. And not only did Judgment touch on the subject, but it went full in with the subject! Getting to visit the hospital where Alzheimer’s patients were being treated was just the tip of the iceberg, and seeing the stories being told hit very close to home. So much research went into developing this game — it was just flat out impressive. And it was very clear that it wasn’t just for the “entertainment.”. The way Judgment took such a serious topic, brought awareness to that topic, and let the world know how it really is — it seriously blew us both away. It was such a heart breaking story grounded in harsh reality, and seeing it all play out just made the story even better. It was something we both could relate to, and it was a case we both wanted to see solved. For Allison, things hit even closer to home due to the story’s setting (as Judgment took place in 2018 — the same year her grandpa was diagnosed with the disease), but I too couldn’t help but think of my grandma when some of the stories were being told. No game has really ever hit this close to home for me, and I can’t help but wonder how many other people out there felt the same way when playing the game. Or how many people came the realization themself of just how horrible Alzheimer’s really is.

Judgment might be a work of fiction, but the game’s messages, and themes are all so very real. It’s a story that can reach people, and change their outlook on life. 

Meanwhile, Allison continues to fight to find the REAL AD-9 — a cure to put an end to Alzheimer’s, and bring loved ones back to their families. It’s been a long battle, but every person can make a difference. The release of Judgment is also another step towards finding the cure, and bringing awareness to the world. I can’t thank everyone at SEGA and Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio enough. 

Thank you for everything. 

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Thursday, March 9, 2023

How I got into the Battlefield Series

The Battlefield series is the first person shooter series that I have the most history with. Technically. It's not my first shooter, nor was it the first online FPS I played; however, it's the one I stuck with the longest, and have been with more than any other out there. It's also a series I never expected to be able to play, but look at me now! I'm sitting here writing a blog post about how I got into it. It wasn't a simple journey though, and a lot happened to me during those years... So instead of just making a "Ben's Beginnings" over Battlefield, I figured I'd dive on in and cover it all. My complete history with the series.

First time I ever even heard about Battlefield was at school. Battlefield 2 had just came out, and my friend Ian started talking about it. He mentioned how it was a team based game, how you could drive different vehicles and fly planes, and how it was this crazy online simulated "battlefield" experience! He made the game sound cool, and I remember he was passing on the idea of us friends forming a team -- but I knew that would never happen for me. I didn't have a good PC (I couldn't even run Starcraft 1 at the time), and I knew there was no way my parents would be okay with me playing an online game like that. Plus at the time I was happy enough with my GameCube and PS2, so that's pretty much what I stuck to. Battlefield 2 is something I would never really play for myself, except for the single time my friend Keith showed it to me at his house. I did basically nothing in it, and I feel as if we only played for 10 minutes at most -- that's where I assumed my Battlefield experience would end.

Three years later (2008) things would change for me. After getting my first job, I went out and bought an Xbox 360 with my savings. I mainly wanted it for Sonic 2006 (yep), but after getting one I felt as if it would be a waste to not try other games as well. I would constantly walk by a game called "Bad Company" at Walmart, and it would always catch both my dad and I's eyes. It had a picture of a grenade on the cover with a smiley face pin attached to it. We both thought it looked funny, but I didn't think much more of it. That is until one day I did my research.

Apparently this "Bad Company" game was a part of the Battlefield series (I didn't notice Battlefield on the box), and it was a comedy! It was basically about a group of rejects in the army, who are sent to be their own squad, and sent out on missions. The entire game is a parody on war stories, with our group of idiots getting into non stop trouble, who get caught up in something much bigger than they can handle. The descriptions I read online was enough for me to buy it, and I quickly found that everything said was true. It's one of the few games that legit had me laughing from start to finish!

I loved Bad Company. The gameplay was a lot of fun, the characters were great, and it's story really was funny. I feel in love with pretty much every part of the game, and I didn't want it to end! Being a part of the Battlefield series meant it also had it's online mode, but when I tried it out it didn't seem that great to me. (Mainly because I sucked, and it seemed not a lot of people were playing at the time.) So I mainly stuck to this one for it's single player, and put it on the shelf when I was done. But then Bad Company 2 was announced, and that changed everything.

To say I was excited for Bad Company 2 is an understatement. The game was going to get an M rating so they could push things a bit further than the first, and it was shown that the story would be even larger in scale than the previous entry. To top all of that off, the game would also be going back to it's full on Battlefield roots, and put a HUGE focus on the game's multiplayer as well. It would have hundreds of unlocks, ribbons/awards to achieve, the whole dog tag system/collection system, and pretty much every other feature that made games like Battlefield 2 so popular. They were going for the full blown Battlefield experience, and I wanted to be a part of it!

Of course I got the Xbox 360 version (which was more limited compared to the PC release), and I found myself dedicating a LOT of time to the game. Sadly as a poor college kid I couldn't always afford Xbox Live, but to make things even more complicated -- I didn't have a router. To play Xbox 360 games, I had to physically connect my 360 to my computer's modem, and unhook my PC from it. That made it so I couldn't use things like Windows Live to call/talk to friends easily, but I got around that by using the 360's built in Live Messenger (I even bought the text pad attachment to help). But even then it was annoying not having a PC when playing my 360, but it was what it was. Because of these constraints however, I had to play as much as BC2 when I could, and hopefully find a way to resubscribe to Xbox Live later on. Ultimately I had to give up Live for awhile after playing the heck out of BC2, but it was only a matter of time until I came back. I had a lot of good memories playing that game, but it wasn't one I would return to... Mainly because of what came next.

Around 2010 I finally got a new PC that was "okay" enough to play some games. It wasn't perfect, but it could handle less demanding things. I didn't play a whole lot with it, but during the summer of 2011 I came across a discovery -- a little game known as "Battlefield Play4Free." What was this game you might ask? To put it simply, it was a "free" version of Battlefield 2, updated with content from newer games, and "down graded" in a way that made it possible for weaker PCs to play. This was PERFECT for me! I remember I told as many friends as I could about it, and for the first time I jumped into the PC Battlefield experience.

I honestly loved Play4Free. The game did ask you to spend real cash on guns/better upgrades and what not, but you could also unlock the content simply by playing the game. You basically earned credits for how well you did, and could then use said credits to unlock different cosmetics, attachments for your weapons, etc. Most of my friends at the time were used to this sorta thing with the Free to Play MMORPGs out there, so it didn't really deter us. In fact, with how much I ended up playing the game, I actually dropped $10 to unlock some cosmetics, and a weapon I knew I'd enjoy using. I figured it was free and I had already spent countless hours on it, so the $10 was worth it in the end. Of course the game is shut down now, but I still have no regrets spending what I did.I especially loved the maps that the game chose to feature, so of course I kept coming back to it. That is, until Battlefield 3 was announced.

(I wasn't kidding when I said it worked well on low end PCs!)

With Battlefield 3 being announced as I was playing Play4Free, I was extra hyping it up to friends. My hope was that those I was playing Play4Free with would move onto BF3 as well, but sadly that didn't really happen. Of course that was still okay, as it wasn't going to stop me from getting it myself and playing it to death. Heck I still remember the day I downloaded the beta and spent countless hours on it! Had a lot of fun, and it only made me want the final game even more. So I placed a preorder, and the day it released I rushed up to GameStop first thing in the morning. Pretty sure I had to stand outside and wait for it to open because I got there so early, but whatever -- I didn't want to miss out on it! Man, that was a good day. Of course I got the 360 version again, and once again it was held back compared to the PC release. While the PC version could handle the full 64 player matches on larger maps, the console versions were limited to 24 players, and smaller sized maps to make up for it. It didn't make me have less fun with the game, but I'll admit it did kinda suck knowing I wasn't getting the same experience as with Play4Free. Although, the added destruction, more maps, vehicles, guns, unlock systems, etc, was for sure a huge upgrade over the free game... So really couldn't complain there. 

To put it simply... I loved Battlefield 3, and still to this day I'd consider it my favorite release. Overall I'd say Bad Company 2 was the "best" I had played, but for the pure BF experience, 3 became my top choice. Man, I miss those maps... 

Moving forward, Battlefield 4 was a weird one for me. I was trying to find the PlayStation 4 on launch day, but I wasn't having any luck. I grabbed Assassin's Creed 4 just so I had a game to play on my PS4, but I had no idea when that would be. My mom was actually the one who was able to walk into GameStop on the release day of the Xbox One and grab it, which was actually a pretty funny story. She basically walked past the long line of people waiting for the Xbox, walked up to the counter and asked if they had a PS4, and they handed her one -- most likely the long line of Xbox fans deterred people from even checking if they had them in stock. But anyway... When she called me and let me know she was able to find one, she also asked if there was anything game wise I'd like her to pick up as well -- so I said Battlefield 4.  Assassin's Creed was the first game I actually booted up on my PS4, but BF4 would be the one I would spend the most time with yet again.

The thing about BF4 on "next gen" console was the fact that it could finally compete with the PC version of the game. It had the full sized maps, the full game modes, and pretty much everything had been upgraded from BF3. Sadly the game did have some glitches (like the campaign mode not saving), but overall it was a big improvement! While I didn't like it's maps as much as I liked BF3's, future DLC would correct that problem by introducing more older maps to the mix. Even so, there were a handful of BF4 exclusive maps that I did really enjoy as well, so it's not like it didn't have some original maps I enjoyed. The real issue I had with the game was actually it's timing. I remember talking to my uncle Mark about the PS4 and how Battlefield 4 was on Thanksgiving that  year, unaware that he would pass away a month and a day later. He was only 42 at the time, and was someone I had spent a lot of time with talking to, playing games with, etc. At times he acted more like a brother to me, so this really wasn't an easy time in my life. Him passing killed my interest in gaming for quite awhile, and a lot of games that came out around that time only pulled me back into the reality of his death -- and sadly BF4 became one of them.

Eventually I would return to the game off and on (heck I even bought the PC version when I got a gaming PC), but I just didn't play it anywhere near as much as I thought I would. Battlefield Hardline would be the next game I played (as it was the next release), but even that didn't hold my interest quite as much. Again, that PC version of BF4 I just mentioned? I bought that after Hardline's release. It's not like I didn't like Hardline however; it's just it didn't quite click with me as much as the previous entries. The cop and robbers storyline and gameplay modes were cool, and I did enjoy the new maps -- but it just didn't fully hook me as previous entries had done. Maybe it was more burn out than anything else? Not really sure honestly.

When Battlefield 1 came out, again I found myself conflicted. I bought the premium edition of the game (as I usually do), but I quickly realized this was the first Battlefield that wasn't for me. I didn't care for the story missions, I didn't like the World War I setting, and I didn't like the WWI guns or vehicles that had to be used. Sure, it was cool from a historical standpoint (not that it was completely faithful or anything), but it just didn't do it for me. I remember sitting in a hospital room with my grandma's brother (don't worry he was okay) and looking at my BF1 stats/medals and what not I wanted to earn on the phone app, but then when I got home I realized I didn't care enough to actually go forward with it. So BF1 became the one and only BF game that I had just completely dropped. Sure, I never finished the story in Hardline either, but at least I put over 20 hours into it.

After Battlefield 1, I wasn't sure how to feel about Battlefield V's announcement. I liked the idea that 4, Hardline, 1, and V were all different/unique games and would operate side by side, but the backlash of V made me doubt how good the game would be. To my surprise however, I actually loved it. Yep, even before all the added content and updates, I had fun with the game. Of course one of my favorite Call of Duty games was World at War, so the WWII setting clicked with me from the get go. Again, it didn't follow WWII perfectly either (which caused controversy), but I did enjoy seeing what they had used from WWII, and I liked using the guns. Even with BFV being out I did go back and play BF4 still, but BFV became my main "go to" online first person shooter for quite awhile. And then it got canceled, and development shifted towards 2042.

So here we are today. Battlefield 1, V, and 2042 are the three games that are really pushed by EA, with BF4 still having a strong player base after all these years. 2042 launched to a very rocky start (removed most of the features that made Battlefield Battlefield), but today it is in a much better situation. The game has gone on sale multiple times to bring in new players, and it's even up for free on PlayStation Plus. The game features cross play between all consoles and PC, and it includes the "Battlefield Portal" which allows you to play maps and classes from previous entries in the series. It is also receiving the whole "season" treatment for unlocks and new content (as is common now days), with many years of support planned for the game. It's because of this continued support that the game is in a better state now, with new features constantly being added in. I'll admit that I bought the game on launch but didn't have time to play, so I actually missed out on most of the "dark days" of this release. Coming in at the end of season 3 and now playing through season 4 has been a lot of fun, but I'm still longing for the days when more maps from BF2, 3, and 4 get added back into the mix. I love the current Bad Company 2 and BF3 maps we have, but I'm still waiting for my favorites to enter the mix.

Anyway... Even with all it's rocky patches throughout it's history -- I still love this series, and I plan to continue playing these games for the rest of my life (as long as the games are still around that is)! While Battlefield may never reach the popularity of other "main stream" shooters, it'll always hold a special place in my heart, and I'll always see it as the original king of war based first person shooters. Who would've thought that hearing my friends discuss it in 2005, and then buying Bad Company in 2008 would lead me to all of this. A lot has time has passed, but I remember this all like it was just yesterday.

And that's my story of how I got into Battlefield.

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Thursday, March 2, 2023

Biggest Let Down - MegaMan Battle Chip Challenge

I'm a HUGE MegaMan fan -- we've already established this. The "Netto" in my username and this blog's name comes from "Netto Hikari," the main character of the MegaMan Battle Network series, (Known as Lan Hikari in the Western translations), and I've spent a large chunk of my life being influenced by that series. Not even kidding when I say that the series changed my life, and I wouldn't be who I am today if it weren't because of it... But anyway, it's because of my love of that series, that I was also met with my first (and biggest) gaming let down of my life. MegaMan Battle Chip Challenge...

When I first heard about Chip Challenge, it was reading about it in Nintendo power. It sounded pretty awesome to say the least! It was a game where you could pick to play as different characters from the Battle Network series (other than our usual main character), and use their Net Navis to battle in tournaments. (For those of you unfamiliar with the series, Net Navis are virtual AI assistants that can also be used to fight.) Pretty much all of the main navis from the past three games could be obtained and used to fight, so it was pretty much a dream game for fans. (At least according to Nintendo Power.) So, needless to say, I wanted to get it as soon as possible, and Easter was my one shot at doing so.

You see, my family always bought Easter gifts to go along with the Easter candy baskets. Usually it was a movie, toy, or a smaller game, and because GBA games were only in the $30 range, it made it a game I would actually be able to ask for. So I did, and we actually managed to find a copy at EB Games along with MegaMan Legends 2! Even back then Legends 2 was rare, and I had been looking for it for over a year or so at that point -- so my parents actually let me get both. Legends 2 as a "now gift," and Chip Challenge to be saved for Easter. Little did I know, Legends 2 was the better deal, and Chip Challenge would be a huge disappointment.

I'll never forget how excited I was when I woke up that morning and got to open that game. I rushed to grab my GBA, put the game in, and tried to squeeze in some play time before I had to take a shower and go to church. So, I rushed through the start screen and intro dialogue, selected Chaud as my playable character (because he and Protoman are awesome), and then commenced reading... And then read some more... And then watched as Chaud automatically moved from screen to screen, and menus lead me into my first fight... Where I then watched as Protoman fought on his own by selecting Battle Chips (basically cards that have different attacks set to them) and then attempting to hit with them.

Assuming I was still in the intro/training (BN games always had a boring training part to teach you the battle system in each game), I paused it, took my shower, went to church, and went back to playing once I got home. This is when I realized that was the entire game. 

Yep, you can't control your characters/explore the world as them (as I had hoped), and even in battle you just watch. You set some chips on a grid in the menu, and then in battle you can really only hit L/R to activate some other attack commands... But that's it. The game plays itself, and is pretty much completely random. The menus are used to select which area/tournament you want to fight in, but that's really it. Winning fights unlocked new chips you could possibly see your Navi use, and you could unlock the other Navis as well... But you don't actually play the game. It's on auto mode at all times, and that's basically it. 

Looking back at it now, it was a lot like today's mobile games. Very little input, and is more focused on you collecting your favorite characters, more than anything else. But at least these games have stories attached to them (as many are visual novels), while Chip Challenge didn't even technically have that. It was tournament fighting, and that's about it... Nothing like I had hoped for, or how Nintendo Power had advertised it...

Of course, I don't actually hate this game. Again, collecting your favorite characters is cool. The game also allowed you to share codes with your friends, which puts you into each other's games as an enemy to fight. These ideas were pretty cool, especially during the GBA days, but it was a very limited system. Since you didn't really have control, who won really came down to luck and who had the better chips equip. As a BN fan however, I did play the heck out of the game, and I did usually take it with me when I was out of the house. It played itself, so I just kept winning auto battles while I was out doing something else. It was a way to make progress without wasting my time watching, and it's actually something I would find myself doing with actual mobile games years later. It's kinda funny thinking about it now, but that doesn't change the fact that it was still a let down.

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Monday, February 27, 2023

Tales of Phantasia - A Game I should've Given a Chance

 You know, there's no denying that I'm a Tales series fan. When Symphonia came out on the GameCube and everyone was talking about it over at Nintendo's Nsider Forums, I'll admit I was interested too. I never expected to be able to play the game, but it did look cool to me. An action adventure across a fantasy world, with a main character who uses two swords? Why wouldn't I find that cool? Of course I didn't get it, and I didn't even know the game was a part of a series. I didn't know what Tales was, and when I saw "Tales of Phantasia" sitting on the shelf in EB Games (before GameStop took them over), I thought it was a rip off. "Ooooh, now EVERYONE wants to do this 'Tales of' thing. They even tried to copy the name! Way to go people!" Yeah... I wasn't the smartest. In fact, it was seeing Symphonia Dawn of the New World in Nintendo Power that made me realize that more of these games would even come out. And it wasn't until a few years AFTER that, that I even realized there were more entries on top of even that -- and that's when I learned of my mistake.

Tales of Vesperia was my entry point into the series. I was a new 360 owner, and I wanted something different. I had just gotten more into JRPGs around this time (playing games like .hack and Final Fantasy), and I wanted more. The fact that the 360 had an "exclusive" JRPG sounded great to me, and I still regretted not getting Symphonia all those years ago -- so I traveled an hour away to find a copy, and bought it. I regret nothing. I LOVE Tales of Vesperia, and still to this day I consider it one of my all time favorite games.

After Vesperia, I still wanted more. This is when I started tracking down the games I missed, and started playing whatever new Tales of came out. Abyss and Legendia were two I went back to play, while Graces f and Xillia released as new games -- Graces being the first Tales of I ever bought on it's release day. I sadly wasn't able to get a copy of Symphonia until the PS3 release, but it's fine -- I had plenty to keep me busy until then. Jumping ahead to today, I've basically played every entry in the series I had access to, with only a few remaining Japanese exclusive without fan translations. However, despite all of this, there's still one game I've avoided. The game I thought was a stupid knock off. Phantasia.

I'm not sure why I've continued to avoid this game. Maybe because it's older? But that doesn't seem right -- I love older JRPGs. So why? I guess I just ultimately discounted it as being nothing special. It was the start to the series I now love, but it didn't seem to have anything to pull me in. So for the past 13 + years, I've continued to ignore it... Until now. Now this I do regret...

First of all, I was going to play the GBA version as it was portable. When asking about the game online, fans of the series made it clear that I should NOT play this release. So, what options did I have? Well, quite a few actually.

Phantasia originally released on the SNES in Japan (by the team that went on to make Star Ocean -- another favorite of mine), and received multiple rereleases. The GBA version is the worst of them all, and the only version we got in the West. The PS1 port however, it greatly improved the game, and is the version I was recommended to play. (There's also two PSP releases, which are even better yet, but there's no translation.) To play this however, it's not as simple as going out and buying it.

For those of you interested, the current only way to play it is by using a fan translation. If you want to play this on your actual PS1, you will need to go out and buy a copy of the Japanese release, extract the ISO file to your PC, apply one of the translation patches to said ISO file, and then burn the image to a blank CD. It's a pretty straight forward process actually, but it does require a PC and some knowledge of ripping/burning data. In my case, I wanted to play the GBA version mainly at work during lunch, so I instead transferred my PS1 copy to my Retroid. (It could also easily be transferred to a PSP, but my PSP is out of commission.)

As for the game itself... Again, I regret not playing it sooner...

Now I've only been playing this game for a little over a month now, and I haven't finished it -- so I won't be reviewing it. However; I'm already really impressed by it. It's so much more than I ever expected it to be. Right from the get go, we are introduced to the main character Cress and his friend, and the two leave their village and go about their daily life. It's standard JRPG intros, where you expect to get to know their daily life a little bit more, and then you'll eventually be introduced to the main plot. Yeah. This one doesn't do that... Instead you have Cress coming back to the village destroyed, and he watches everyone he loves and cares about get slaughtered! 

Moving forward, things don't get any better for him. The game seriously dives into some dark subject matter right off the bat, and they don't even shy away from showing kids get killed. It was COMPLETELY unexpected. And of course this is what sends Cress out onto his adventure, but even that's not something I expected. Or maybe I should've? Again, this is by the team that went on to make Star Ocean, and both games are actually a bit similar in their plots. In Star Ocean the main cast has to travel back in time to find a cure for a bioweapon that was released but hasn't been seen for hundreds of  years, and in Tales of Phantasia we find out the big bad needs to be defeated using means that were only possible in the past as well. So Cress gets sent back in time, and that's where the main adventure actually plays out. He's trying to survive in his own world's past, and while he's there he's also going up against the same big bad who currently threatens his present. It's pretty unique for a JRPG story (especially considering when this game came out), and the way the game is structured is something you don't really see much of anymore. 

Tales of Phantasia is packed full of character to say the least. It's a 2D sprite based game that looks similar to most other JRPGs out at the time, but sooooo much of the world can be interacted with. It's not just simple, talk to this object and read a description either. Stepping into fire will burn you and get funny reactions. Animals such as crabs and birds roam the world and run away from you when you get close. There's some pretty nice water effects, and heat effects when in hot areas. Some objects can be pushed/pulled, and some puzzles require you to shoot and knock things over. NPCs have constantly changing unique dialogue, and often react to what you are doing on screen as well. It's a lot of little touches that help make this world feel alive, and pulls you into it's story in ways you wouldn't expect. It's something you don't even see with most modern JRPGs, so it's really shocking Phantasia has such things going on. Heck even future Tales of games aren't like this! 

As for the gameplay, it's action based like the rest of the series, but it's battle system is a bit different. The PS1 version includes a full control item you can equip to take 100% control of your characters in battle, but other wise they do move on their own, and run/attack upon pressing buttons. It's dated by today's standards for sure, but it's still a fun system for what it is. Sadly the PS1 version still includes the time freezing for magic attacks, but it's something I can easily live with. 

Like many classic JRPGs, the game does include a world map to explore as well, and the PS1 version introduced voiced skits that play anytime you hit the select button on said world map. If they don't have anything new to say they'll just repeat general advice messages, but other wise the characters will comment on the story, or bring up something you've done lately. Again, it helps make the world feel more alive, and gives you a reason to listen to everything your party has to say. The world map also has many different areas to explore, and the game rewards you for doing so. Heck, some areas can't even be finished until you have explored other places, but the game leaves it up to you to find these spots in order to advance. Of course NPCs will talk about things, so it's not like you're left completely in the dark on what you can/cannot do, but it's not like today's games where you're constantly directed from Point A to Point B. It's a game that wants you to take your time and dive into it's world, rather than just rush through it. Again, something that feels like it's been lost in a lot of modern games today. And then there's the fact that that Phantasia is a "sequel" to Symphonia -- or rather, Symphonia was a prequel.

Not going into spoilers, but I've been pretty surprised by Phantasia and recognizing things from Symphonia. A major plot point of Symphonia plays a huge role throughout Phantasia, but there's also other references as well. It makes me realize why long time fans enjoyed Symphonia as much, because they got to see this the other way around. Players of Phantasia got to see how the world became what it is, while those of us who play Symphonia first get to see what's next for the world. It's just really cool, and helps add even more to my enjoyment of the game. Again, not that the game would've been "worse" without my prior knowledge, it's just it's really cool to me to see these things. Not bad for a "knock off'" of Symphonia.

Overall, I've been simply loving the game. It's something I want to keep coming back to off and on for the next few months, up until I finish it. Even then I feel as if I'll keep checking back just for the side quests, as the PS1 version apparently added a bunch of new extras as well. So I have plenty to keep myself busy with, and currently I'm at the point where I wish the game would never end. It's rare for games to give me that feeling now days (especially with so many games in my backlog to play), but Phantasia is definitely one such game to do it for me. I can't believe I discounted this game for so many years. I'm a horrible Tales of fan.

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Friday, February 24, 2023

Final Fantasy Type-0 - Underrated, yet one of the saddest JRPG Stories

Final Fantasy Type-0. Why is it that I've never really talked about this game on the blog? Why haven't I REVIEWED the game either? What is wrong with me!? I'll be blunt. This game is easily one of my favorites. It has it's issues, but ultimately I really, REALLY, loved this game. Heck, I even went out and bought the collector's edition guide book! So why is it I'm just now bringing it up? I... Really don't know... But I'd like to correct that! I'm not going to do a review of it today, but instead I wanted to talk about the game's story. Something that makes it unique, and really stand out among other JRPGs.

So, that being said. Spoiler warning now, as I plan on getting into nearly everything from this point onward. I'll keep some details limited (as not to ruin the whole experience), but I did want to get into the main points. Reasons I loved the story, and feel others should check it out for themselves as well.

Type-0's world and the way it works is the key part to what makes this game so unique. This is a world where crystals are the source of power, but said crystals also control the world. Passing their power onto special individuals, they can turn said person into what is known as a L'cie. L'cie's are given a purpose in life they must fulfill, but in exchange they are also given great power to do so. (Yes, similar to what we saw in Final Fantasy XIII -- which has to do with this game's history, but we're putting that aside for now.) On the flip side, crystals also control the memories of the world, and those who die and return to said crystals are completely forgotten. THIS is what sets things apart from other stories.

When someone dies, everything about them dies with them. No one will have memories that they even existed, and people cannot completely comprehend what it means to lose someone because of this. Right from the get go a main character loses his good friend (in a very bloody scene, especially for Final Fantasy), and said character's brother has to be told that he once had a brother. Neither friend nor brother can really understand what was taken from them, but that empty feeling is constantly there reminding them that something has been taken. It's something they know they should remember, but cannot because of the rules of the world.

Now, despite having the memories of them erased, the information they passed on during life will remain. Stories they've shared, things they've taught people, etc, none of that knowledge is taken away. The person forgets who/what told them about such things, but that part of the person is never lost. While this may seem like a story mechanic, it's also a gameplay one as well.

The game itself is set in a military academy, and follows an entire class as the main characters. Each day you get to walk around the school, talk to your students, read books in the library, and go to classes to increase your skills. When it comes to talking to students -- every single NPC in the world has changing dialogue based on the chapter you're in. It was one of the limitations of the PSP that caused this design choice, but a lot of the world events are described or taught to you through said NPCs. Often events are only talked about and not shown, and usually these NPCs aren't people you'll personally remember. So when they get killed between missions, you find yourself in the same boat. You don't remember who told you such things, but you remember it being said. This becomes the standard gameplay loop, but it doesn't take long before things get complicated.

Spoilers Begin Here


While the game is a war story -- it lures you into a false sense of security with your daily life. Wake up, talk to your classmates, go to class, do some side stuff, go on missions, repeat. You get used to this, and it's what you expect going from chapter to chapter. But then one day you're sent out on a mission, and things go just a little... Um... Insane.

Girl gets shot in the head, and you quickly realize your class has been abandoned in enemy territory. What used to be the story of daily school life, is now one of survival as the main party tries to make their way back to their homeland all on their own. The story quickly escalates from there on out, and it becomes nothing but tragedy after tragedy! 

At one point the teacher all the main characters look up to, has no choice but to go on a suicide mission with no hope of survival. It is decided that a summon is to be used, and that requires giving up your own said life to do it. Dealing with this loss puts the main characters in a strange situation, because, once again, they no longer remember him. All their affection and respect is simply stripped away, and we as players are forced to watch the party simply forget all about a character we have grown attached to as well. Especially if you've ever had anyone in your life with real life diseases such as alzheimer's, then seeing something like this in a game might hit you right where it counts.

Moving on (because that's all you can do), things only get worse. The story continues to get crazier, and the end of the world is just right around the corner. Once friends are now enemies, and the main cast quickly finds themselves on their own once again. After returning to the school they find nearly every single person they have ever met dead, with bodies thrown everywhere. It's at this point that they set out to take on the big bad, and finally put an end to the war.

The Ending:

The ending of Type-0 is easily one of the biggest sucker punches in the entire game. After losing nearly everyone, the group sets out on their own suicide mission. They hold on to what little hope they still have left, and tackle the end of the world (which has been foreseen and passed down in legends). During the fights, it takes everything to get through it. While previous parts of the game can be completed using 3 of the characters -- the final fights take the entire class. It puts you through the wringer, and the final boss is no joke. The party flat out decides to give up their lives if it comes down to it, and the point of no return is just that... There's no going back... Or is there?

The final scene was completely unexpected.

After the battle, the class manages to make it back to the (now rebuilt as it was destroyed) school, and they are back to their same old routine. Everything somehow managed to work out, and our heroes are ready to face their new future. Despite all the odds -- they did it. Everything is as it should be. But then... Their teacher walks in.

Waking up back to reality, one of the main characters (Ace) comes to realize it was all just a dream. He and his friends are back in the school, but it's no different than how they left it. The school is in ruins, and he and all his friends can only lay around as they cry in pain. It's the end of the line, and taking out the big bad didn't change their situation.

The final scene has our young heroes coming to grips with what has happened, and sees them focusing on the future. Their "what's next." Despite how grim things look, they do what they can to plan out what needs to be done. They have their whole lives ahead of them, and they're young... The war left them without anything, so now they have to create something from nothing to move on. The credits roll at the end of this scene, and (thankfully) it's subtitled so we English speakers can understand the lyrics. The song is PERFECT for the ending theme. It's basically a song of hope, and I'm not going to lie -- it gave me chills the first time I heard it thinking about the context. It's simply amazing. Such a great ending to such a grim game -- except, it's not the end.

The true final scene sees two people walking into the classroom, and finding the harsh reality. The class didn't make it. They have no "next." With their dying breaths, they gather their scarfs from their uniforms, recreate their class flag, and die holding hands beneath it. This group of friends gave up everything to save their country, and thanks to the rules of the world... No one will ever know. They die alone, yet together, and pave the way for a new future. That's the ending of Type-0. 

Of course, I left out a lot of details in this. I didn't want to fully spoil the game, and just wanted to talk about some of the key moments. It's really a story you should experience for yourself, and easily one of my favorite parts of Final Fantasy.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Metal Gear Rising - 10 Years Later

It's hard to believe it, but Metal Gear Rising has turned 10 years old. Man, I still remember being so excited for this game, and I still remember writing the review for it way back when. Honestly, 2013 had a lot of amazing games get released, but for me, MGR was easily one of the best ones. From the time I first heard about the game, up until the moment I finally had it in my hands -- it was quite the ride. Heck, even the day it released was sorta a funny adventure.

When Metal Gear Solid Rising was first announced, I had just started to be interested in the MGS series. My friend Ryan was a huge fan, and would show me the games, but otherwise I avoided them initially. Besides playing the demo back on PS1, and seeing Snake in Smash Bros, I really knew nothing about the series. Heck, I remember seeing him play MGS2 and ask "where's Snake at?" When I saw Raiden instead. I thought it was stupid there was a MGS game without Snake as the main character, but whatever. Eventually I would learn that Raiden would become a cyborg ninja in MGS4 (heard kids talking about it at school), and that's when I actually became a bit more interested in him as a character. But still, I didn't have a PS3, nor did I plan to get one, so I figured it was something I'd never play. Then things changed.

I actually bought a PS3 using the tip money I had earned working at the bakery, and the main reason I even wanted it was for Valkyria Chronicles. Me being me though, and not wanting to own a console for one game, I decided to branch out and try new things. I saw MGS4 was on sale, but I didn't want to play it until I had played the others -- so I ran up to GameStop, took advantage of a sale they had going on, and got MGS Snake Eater and MGS2. I would quickly finish them, Raiden would become my favorite character, and Ryan let me barrow 3.

After finishing off 3, and buying 4 (and finishing it as well), the next thing I did was start looking at Metal Gear Solid Rising again. I was excited to see that a new game focusing on Raiden was coming out, and the swordplay looked amazing to me! Being able to cut anything? And seeing Raiden's cyborg origin story? Just seemed so cool! I couldn't wait, and neither could Ryan. Heck, he went out and preordered it the moment he had a chance! Little did we know it wouldn't be until years later, and it wouldn't even be the original game we were waiting for.

While we were both in the boat of "not sure how we feel about these changes" when Platinum Games took over -- I think we both now agree it was for the best. I'm not going to repeat how I feel about the game (click the review at the top if you care), but I will say that I loved it. The game was great! However, the day it came out was... Not how either of us expected it to be.

The morning Rising came out, both me and Ryan met up first thing at our closest GameStop. For both of us this was a few towns away from where we lived, with Ryan living out in the country between the towns. It was pretty cool, both of us being able to walk in and pick up the game we had waited so long for, and I remember we stood around and talked to the store's manager for awhile as well. Everyone was so excited for the game to be released, and it was just fun seeing other fans of the series being just as excited. We didn't stick around long, but it was fun. Of course we both wanted to get home and play our game, so we headed out of the store, walked to our cars, and said goodbye to each other -- except, it wasn't goodbye.

It turns out Ryan locked his keys in the car! So instead of heading home, it was me driving him back to his house to get his extra keys. The thing is, the country roads he lived out on, were just flat out crazy! I mean, it was an everyday drive for him, but for me, it was an adventure. Again, he lived a good 20 minutes away as well, but the roads to get to his house took you through heavily wooded areas, single lane roads, deep ditches, multiple hills, and many, MANY, places where your car would bottom out if you didn't drive in the exact right location. Thankfully Ryan was able to guide me on where to be on the road, and when, but man... That's still probably the most insane country road I've been on in my life. Even being out surveying hasn't lead me to anything like that! (Not that I go out a lot, but still.) While I'll admit it was kinda scary at times, looking back now it's a good memory. That next summer was when Ryan would move away, so it's memories like these that you always look back on. 

After I went home and played MGR, but looking back now the rest of that day is ultimately my favorite part of the while thing.

But man, it was such a good game. Worth the wait!

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Monday, February 20, 2023

Ben's Beginnings - First MegaMan Game

I cannot go on enough about how special the MegaMan series is to me. It's something I've loved since I was a kid, and it is something I will continue to come back to for the rest of my life. Despite this, I've never actually told the story of how I got into the series. I'm not sure why it slipped my mind, but I guess it just isn't a topic that usually comes up for me. So today, I want to do just that! The story of my first MegaMan game -- MegaMan X.

It was the mid 90s, and I had just moved completely to my home town. Now, I know this may sound weird, but growing up I actually lived in two places. No, not because of my parent's being split up or anything, but because my mom's work required her to actually live there. She managed a home for the developed mentally disabled, and would work Monday - Friday. Such a job required her to care for both the ladies that lived there around the clock, and also manage the house to ensure everything was running as it should. My grandma would come in and take over for her during the weekend, but because our actual house was located nearly an hour away, often we would just stay on Saturday and Sunday as well. This was fine and all, but things were about to change... I had turned 5, and it was time for me to start school.

Obviously we wanted me to go to school in my actual home town, so my mom's work office had to move as well. So we packed up our things, found a new location, and moved home. Around this time is when I also got my Super Nintendo for my birthday (thanks Grandpa!), and because we were now so close to my grandparent's house, I started spending more time there. During this time my uncle still lived at home as well, and he too had a SNES. So every time I'd go over to my grandparent's house, I'd usually go upstairs and check out what my uncle had to play. That's when I saw it -- MegaMan X.

I didn't know what MegaMan was, but seeing him playing it completely sucked me in. I loved robots, I liked the color blue, and just about everything I saw looked amazing to me! He knew all the secrets and made things look easy, but when I'd pick it up I found myself getting destroyed in no time. Gaining powers and using them against enemies who are weak to them was a completely new concept to me, and being able to pick levels in different orders was something new and strange as well. At this time I didn't get to play it too often, but I'd make it a point to play it every chance I got. Heck, even when my cousins came over we would sit there and play it -- and they could actually get somewhere with it! Of course I enjoyed watching them play as well, but I still wanted to be able to beat it myself. During this time the MegaMan cartoon was still on TV as well, and thanks to MegaMan X I started watching it. Little kid me didn't realize MegaMan and X were two different people, but I didn't care -- I just knew I loved MegaMan and wanted more out of it. I didn't own the game, so watching the show was the next best thing I could do while I was at home. Eventually, that all changed however.

As my grandpa's fan also had a SNES in it for long road trips, MegaMan X became the game I started taking with me when we would go somewhere. Living in the middle of nowhere meant car rides were usually 1-2 hours long to get anywhere, so that was the perfect time to play some games. This is where I finally started to learn more about the game, but it wasn't actually until a little later that my uncle just flat out let me take the game home with me. That is when the true obsession with it started.

For countless years, MegaMan X became my go to game. I didn't use the password system for some reason, but instead would just leave my SNES running so I could play it after school. Eventually it got to the point where I just played the thing from start to finish daily, and that was a tradition I carried on throughout the years. Shortly after getting X1 I do remember renting X2 from the local rental place as well -- but it actually scared me for some reason. The next MegaMan game I would play was MegaMan Legends, while the next one I would actually own was MegaMan 8. MegaMan X5 became the next entry I just had to have, and eventually that was followed up by Battle Network, Zero 1, and X6. Of course I eventually got Legends 1 as well, and went on to get the other Battle Network and Zero games... and basically everything else. I simply fell in love with the series as a whole, and used every chance I got to get the next game. Even so, X1 remained my favorite throughout the years, and once again, remained the game I would play almost daily. Heck, when I got a PSP with Maverick Hunter X, I ended up with over 30ish save files of me switching between X Hard Mode and Vile Hard Mode save files. I'd just start it up, and alternate story modes each time I finished one -- and this was when I was 16. Despite roughly 10-11 years passing by, I still couldn't get enough of X1. (And yes, still to this day if I turn the game on, I sit there until I finish it. Speed running it is fun!)

And, that's basically it! Now here we are 26 years later, and MegaMan is still one of my favorite all time series. It'll always be special to me, and it's something I still can't get enough of. I'm still waiting on the day that X9 gets announced, but in the mean time, I have all of the other releases to keep me busy. Such a great series.

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