The Silver Guardian Episode 4

Review:

After the introductory episode where it was made clear that something was going to happen in this story, it has taken 3 full episodes for that something to actually happen, and even then it is more an introduction to it rather than it happening. The game ends but the last night goes horribly wrong with some weird monster showing up in game and stripping players of their equipment, except Suigin of course because he was held up at his part time job and arrived late. Given the comment that their stuff will carry over into the next game, I’m guessing it is going to be significant that he didn’t lose it particularly the magical flower thing they finally found.

However, the real drama of the episode, that nearly gets buried under all that teen angst, is that Rei’s father get’s shot.

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I don’t know about you, but I think pretending to be a thief would be a terrible alibi considering you are still a criminal.

Something is up with the new game, which we already kind of knew, and in case we didn’t realise the flower was special because of its super shiny appearance, Rei’s dad has a picture of it on the screen he is monitoring before he gets shot.

A far more interesting episode than the last two because it finally feels like the story is taking itself a little more seriously and moving somewhere.

The Silver Guardian is available on Crunchyroll.


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The Silver Guardian Episode 3

Review:

Well, we’re no closer to actually seeing how we’re going to end up where we started in episode 1 but enough of the pieces have now been revealed that unless we’ve got a serious twist coming we could probably write the rest of the script. The game they’ve been playing is about to end.

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To be replaced by a new, better game that requires its very own special device. It’s an amazing game according to the press release and is going to create a reality better than reality. I’m sure I’ve heard this somewhere before…

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So, I’m pretty sure we can all see where this is going. So far The Silver Guardian remains watchable but it is pretty dull and there’s really no reason to start watching it if you didn’t pick it up initially.

The Silver Guardian is available on Crunchyroll.


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The Silver Guardian Episode 2

Review:

The first episode of this was a mess, but episode 2 is decidedly coherent and functional. We’re clearly back before most of the events in episode 1 and we’re watching Suigin and Rei meet via an online game.

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The issue is, that’s it. No actual indication of how we are going to get from this point to where we saw the characters last episode. It’s all very mundane. Suigin doing his job, getting mistaken for a pervert, eavesdropping on private conversations, and freaking out when he finds the game he’s playing is going to be discontinued. Of course, mundane is probably better than complete mess so maybe this is a step forward. Probably the only thing keeping this off the drop list right now is the short episode length. If the episode was 20 minutes, I’d probably not make it through.

The Silver Guardian is available on Crunchyroll.


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The Silver Guardian Episode 1

Overview:

Crunchyroll’s synopsis says that Suigin is a pro-level gamer (though little evidence given in episode 1) who meets some girl and they get sucked into a game. Again, no real confirmation of this storyline in episode 1.

Review:

We’re flashing back as the start of the episode has the girl (Riku Rei) monologuing about some mysterious guy who is out there fighting for them. Then of course we go to some fantasy world where an impossible number of skeleton things have surrounded some monument that has said guy standing on top of it.

Two things came to mind here. If the protagonist isn’t taking the threat seriously, why should the audience? Also, when the guy runs down one side to fight the horde, why don’t the ones just standing around run up the other side and claim the treasure?

Anyway, we then jump back to a year ago where the guy meets the girl in a contrived near drowning experience (good thing I have no emotional attachment to anything in this show and they didn’t to make us care that someone might drown).

All and all, this episode sets up a few ideas, looks a little intriguing, but the execution is dreadful and the fight sequences are a joke.

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That said, because I’m a sucker for punishment I’m giving this a second episode before I’ll walk away. If it actually attempts to give some cohesion to the plot I’ll probably end up sticking with this even though there is almost no chance this will end well.

The Silver Guardian is available on Crunchyroll.


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FFX Thoughts on Replay

There’s this thing about replaying an old game where you suddenly notice everything that was wrong with it originally that you didn’t notice the first time (or overlooked) because at the time it was amazingly gorgeous and the story was fresh. But when you know the plot, every plot twist, and the graphics no longer hold up, even after being remastered, the actual game has to stand on its own. While FFX is still a reasonably fun game some of its flaws are definitely more irritating this time around.

Originally I played this game on the PS2 and its one of the few PS2 games I completed (at least twice all the way through). It really was a beautiful game. And, in fairness, the remastered PC version still has absolutely beautiful cut scenes, and then there’s everything else.

I’ve stopped playing this in full screen mode for two reasons. One, it looks even more hideous when it is spread across the entire monitor. Two, despite providing a function to skip some cut scenes, it never lets you skip the ones you need to. You know, like the ones right before a fight with Seymour that is so much harder than every other fight you’ve had that you are pretty unprepared for it and end up dying over and over. Which means sitting through that cheesy dialogue in the cut scene over and over.

There was a reasonably easy solution to this. Stop plunging into the fight until I did some grinding and levelled my characters up but this brings out the other issue I’ve encountered with the game. The enemies you fight as you move around the world are ridiculously easy. And then the boss fights are ridiculously difficult compared. We get that a boss is supposed to be challenging but when he can instantly K.O 5 out of 7 of your characters with one attack it really doesn’t leave you many options on attack formations. Hence the grinding to get the other characters to a point where they might be all wobbly but at least they won’t keel over from a single hit.

But this breaks the narrative. Utterly and completely. We’re heading to Zanarkand to get the final Aeon, etc, etc, so sure we’ll waste some time running up and down a mountain fighting low level enemies that we can mostly defeat in one hit just to unlock one more health sphere in the sphere grid. That makes sense.

Anyway, after finally getting through that battle and moving on the issue becomes that now my characters are even more ridiculously overpowered when facing random encounters which makes them kind of pointless. The version I’m playing has the ability to turn these off, or if you are grinding up the frequency so you don’t have to walk so far, but you don’t get any experience if you turn them off and if you aren’t grinding why on earth would you want a random encounter every other step.

I still love the story of FFX and enjoy watching the characters grow, but the game itself hinders the progression of the story at times, unnecessarily so, and that takes a bit of the fun out of it. I’d still recommend FFX as one of the better Final Fantasy games (of course I’ve only ever completed two of them, I usually drop them at the mid-way point because I just get bored), but as a game itself I’m not sure it has lasting appeal. That said, I’m not through the replay yet and hopefully I’ll reach the end within a couple of months and can think about my final thoughts on this game.


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Quick Question

I decided just to ask a quick question of my readers, given I’ve dropped a lot of shows this season and have been filling slots in my schedule with random movie reviews (and a game review just because), I’ve been wondering if there are any particular genres that readers would prefer to see when I step outside of my usual anime posts. Or would you prefer book reviews?

My preference in movies is clearly for action, fantasy, and horror with a little bit of rom-com, soft sci-fi, or just plain strange (unclassifiable but you can’t look away). Also, I have a thing for movies from the late 70’s to late 90’s. There isn’t anything particularly wrong with more recent films but there’s something about movies from in the time period that appeals (and, no I was not born in the 70’s, but I like some of the sci-fi and horror from the era).

Anyway, the blog focus is and always will be anime, but it has been fun over the last couple of weeks reviewing some non-anime material. I assume that when next season starts I’ll have more anime to review and will cut back on these sorts of posts but for the next few weeks there will be a few more of them.

Let me know what you think.


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Haikyuu Episodes 4 + 5

Review Episode 4:

Well we finally get to the long awaited match and I must admit the relationship between Kageyama and Hinata is less annoying now though still a bit rocky at times. I think they kind of laboured on about why Kageyama was called the king and how is old team reacted i nthe game before he was benched for far too long. The audience kind of already put together what had happened and mostly this just kind of dragged out a match that was already dragging a little. Other than that, there were some genuinely amusing moments and watching Hinata finally hit something was pretty cool.

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I’ve also come to the conclusion that Tsukishima is definitely the kind who would walk up to a sleeping dragon and poke it in the eye just because he could.

Review Episode 5:

haikyuu5

And the match is over and they are finally officially part of the team, but everyone knew that was going to happen and they already had their jackets made and ready to go. But of course we cannot let things settle for even a moment so in comes the advisor with news of a practice match, only its against a school that ranked fourth last year and they want Kageyama as the full-time setter. Intrigue. Despite the sarcasm, this episode actually works quite well and I’m kind of feeling bad for Hinata by the end as he sits on the bus with nerves eating him up inside. Though, the award for most oblivious character ever is now shifting to Kageyama.

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Seriously, this is romantic lead of a shoujo level obliviousness on display here.

Haikyuu is available on AnimeLab.


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No Man’s Sky – The Update

It’s been awhile since I’ve written of my brave adventures exploring the galaxy, universe, small speckles on a screen in a computer game, and now of course we have that update. All these new features and things to do and see. The question becomes will it make any difference.

I’ll go through the changes I’ve noticed since the update in a bit but I’ll draw the conclusion now. People who were still playing and enjoying No Man’s Sky will have found a new love for it and continue as they were testing out the new features as they explore. People who’d moved on probably won’t come back for this. Because while there are a few novelties here the essential game play remains the same and it really is up to you to create the story you want to follow as you explore.

What has changed?

Well, I now get a shiny warning every single time I try to launch the game that my PC isn’t up to recommended specs. I knew my PC was barely capable of running the game and that I’m playing with most the settings turned right down just to keep it functional but this update has pushed it further and now feels the need to tell me every launch that maybe I shouldn’t be trying to play.

Thanks for that.

Ignore. Launch anyway.

We now get a menu straight up to choose a mode of play. I’ll be honest and point out I have yet to try either of the new play methods because I like the exploration that I was playing so they’ve yet to be touched though I assume eventually I’ll check them out. All this menu really does is means I can’t launch the game and then go get a drink while it loads because I have to wait for the menu, select the game mode, and then go get the drink while the game loads. Did I mention how much I love changes to games I actually liked? All these extra steps have really value added to my playing experience.

Okay, enough complaining about that. Let’s look at the game itself. We can now find habitable bases and claim one for our very own. Yes, you can claim ownership of a planet through claiming a base and then you can build (assuming you have collected sufficient materials). You can then install a builder, a weapons guy, a scientist, and a farmer and they can give you all manner of things to improve your experience. In theory. Mostly what they do is send you on fetch quests and even after my limited play time both weapons guy and builder have told me they have nothing new to teach me. So why are you still hanging around my base? Waiting for the next update so you can give me some other random missions?

This is actually not a terrible addition to the game because you can completely ignore this aspect of it once you get the improved laser and the hazmat gauntlet (and you do need both or the vast majority of materials are going to be off limits now including some minerals you could mine before because now you need an advanced laser to mine them). Or you can teleport from any space station back to your base to check in on your happy family, build some storage sheds and do a couple of fetch quests before returning to whatever space station in whatever system you were in and getting back to whatever else you might like to do.

There’s also a whole bunch of new things to collect and some of these are a pain in the neck to find (read I spent nine hours trying to find an underwater plant for a particular substance, finally found it and was still three units short of being able to build the thing I was aiming for). And that brings me to the next point.

Resources are much harder to come by now. Before you were tripping over plutonium and titanium and whatever else and now you can walk a long time without a single glimpse. The exotic resources are scarce and even when you find them the quantity of some of these resources are very low (rare actually means rare now). Also, the bases and drop pods and things you used to trip over every five minutes on a planet are now really few and far between. This is countered by the fact that you can now build your own save station (for the cost of some resources) so expect to literally wander around without coming across anything of significance for ages. It makes exploration feel more authentic but when you finally realise you are sick of a planet and your space ship is at least forty minutes away it can be a little disheartening.

This one I’m not so sure about but it also feels like your jet pack isn’t as effective and that you run out of power for some of you engines and shields faster than before. At least I know I feel like I’m burning resources much faster than I was when travelling between planets. Also, your pulse engine now uses iron instead of whatever it used to use so expect to be blowing up a lot of rocks.

That said, I still haven’t managed to build an autonomous mining unit and I really want to get there (copper wire, why did it need copper wire). I haven’t built a landing pad yet. There’s a whole bunch of plants I haven’t planted yet and I haven’t got around to building a trade terminal so still plenty of things to do now that I have the designs and I just need to collect enough resources. I also haven’t managed to buy a freighter just yet (or hire, not sure which it is) and that is definitely next on my wish list of things to do. Still short a few units though because I object to destroying ecosystems for profit (small problem when your main source of income is mining).

Right, to sum up. I love this game. The new additions make some things harder and some things more fun. There’s certainly a really rich variety of things to look for and collect and as I said in the beginning, most of the basic game play didn’t change (except a few keyboard changes they made which drove me crazy until I got used to them and stopped hitting the build button when I wanted to change my laser). The base building has been fun and I’m in the process of deciding which flags I’d like to decorate my base with right after I put in windows everywhere (glass building is a pain).

Days Episode 24

Review:

Well, if you made it this far through Days you won’t come across anything surprising in this final episode of season 1 (let’s all say thank-you that season 2 has already been confirmed or this would be a very different review about a lack of resolution). Basically if you have enjoyed the ride to here you will smile, reflect, remember the journey the characters have been on and generally just be happy to be a part of the Seiseki experience. There’s no added depth here, no surprises, no last minute twists in the story. Days, as it always has been, played this last episode straight focussing on the characters we’ve come to love and then it left us wanting to see how they go in this final game and whether they go to Nationals. Thanks. I’ll do a final review of season 1 of this soon.

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Days is available on Crunchyroll.

Days Episode 23

Review:

So Days continues to surprise me as it makes me care time and again about the outcome of the game even if it feels this week like it was a foregone conclusion. The ride getting to that final goal was definitely exciting. Of course, once again, we spent the entire episode watching the game and in honesty I didn’t much care for the other team and those characters so those moments were a little less than satisfying. Looking forward to next week and how this season concludes.

Days is available on Crunchyroll.