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| | Anime Manga, News | 0 comments
27 March
Mar 27
27th March 2018

Almost 20 years later, The third season of FLCL 'Progressive/Alternative' has been announced to air on AdultSwim this September.   via GIPHY  FLCL was probably the one thing I obsessed over the longest. Back in the days when friends from school would burn you CDs of music found on Limewire (not me, of course), Where it was a bit of a gamble on what you were going to get once the files had finally finished downloading. In Limewires renown reputation of inaccuracy, One system of a down mp3 turned out to be a video. This turned out to be my first experience of an AMV: clips from FLCL edited to System of a Down's 'Needles'. I searched every corner of the internet until I found whatever the clips originated from.   Eventually, I found some blurry, terribly dubbed videos of the series. Up until that point, the only anime I had seen were classics: Akira, Ghost in the Shell and Metropolis were the only anime they had rentable at Blockbuster. FLCL was now the craziest, most Japanese thing I'd ever seen. In true Gainax fashion, It featured robots, aliens, a girl swinging a bass guitar into their necks, a ridiculous amount of sexual innuendos and puberty metaphors to the awesome -awesome- music of the Pillows (who are also doing the music for the new series!) As a 14/15-year-old boy, it was God.   via GIPHY The original FLCL show is only 6 episodes long. It's crazy, fun and a good story that hints at possibilities rather than outright clarifying them. This has left fans with a lot of questions and a lot left to the imagination- creating a lot of theories. If I'm perfectly honest, this is one of the very few cases where I've been happy having it left as it where. People made their own assumptions at the end of the series, and it's these assumptions and ideas I'm intrigued by the most. Because if they had concluded it then, we may not have liked the answer.  But this was back when there wasn't even a hint of a sequel. Now, nearly 20 years later FLCL 3 has been announced seemingly out of the blue. Like a lot of the cult following Fooly Cooly has built up, I'm sceptical, but also extremely excited. Regardless, I'm going to watch the shit out of it. So if you're a die-hard fan, get re-watching. FInd that old mp3 player with all the Pillows music. If you've never watched the show, give it a go if you're up for some crazy fun. You can also check out the manga, which is equally short as 2 volumes with the madness that is Hajime Ueda's sketchy artwork. It doesn't flow too far away from the anime story but does have some drastically different key events and arguably, more depth....

| | Gaming, Blogging | 0 comments
23 March
Mar 23
23rd March 2018

  Like a lot of people, I suffer from heavy bouts of stress and anxiety. Whilst some of it I have to take as it comes, there's also a fair bit I can take responsibility for and do something about: Drink less coffee, sleep more and play less stress-induced-haemorrhage causing things like Halo 2 on Legendary. The first two are invalid options because they are apart of being a parent. So after finishing the Halo 2 Campaign, I was very grateful to stumble across this gem that I somehow missed. AER is a game by Forgotten Key, A studio in Sweden that specialises in atmospheric experiences. Kotaku described AER as Wind Waker but flying instead of sailing, and they're not wrong. You play as Auk, a young girl set out on a pilgrimage to restore the broken world after it's great divide. Gods are slowly being forgotten and therefore losing their power. Auk must journey to the Land of the Gods and stop the darkness that threatens this beautiful, fragmented world. As one of the last shapeshifters, performing a simple double jump sends Auk soring into the air as a bird, where you can visit the temples to retrieve the lost shards, or simply cruise around the open world at your leisure. The controls are super-intuitive as theirs a simplicity to what you can do: Fly, interact, move and jump. The only slight difficulty is I got a bit too carried away with 'flapping' to pick up speed during flight. You don't realise how fast you're going until you're a few meters away from an island and can end up shooting straight past it without having time to think about landing. The game has soft glowing colours in low-poly/cell-shaded style graphics, accompanied by the beautiful ambient music and sounds of Cajsa Larsson. It's the cheapest form of therapy I've come across so far.   Describing this game as a type of Legend of Zelda but without the fighting would be an awful sell, but here for me lies the beauty of AER for what I need to relax. The puzzles in the temples are not so easy that you finish them feeling unrewarded, but not so difficult to the point of frustration and rage-quit. In fact, the only frustration I honestly encountered in this game was when I went to capture a screenshot on my Xbox One and it crashed. I had to do the temple again but to my surprise, I didn't mind. I wanted this game to last.   The main game and its story are short, but it makes up for it in how much there is to be explored- take a look at what achievements you're yet to complete just to get a rough idea. I loved flying to different fragments of islands without the fear of being attacked, losing HP or having to start from a previous state long forgotten. Possibly my favourite part of this game was discovering things only visible when you pulled out your lantern. Although haunting, the light reveals scenes and events frozen in time, ghosts of people simply living, or fighting to survive the Kings invasion. A beautiful feature that added to the games perfect balance of peace and curiosity. This is a perfect chill out game when you need to de-stress or need a break from the competetive stuff.   AER: Memories of Old is available on Xbox One, PS4 and Steam/PC.        ...

| | Anime Manga, Opinion | 0 comments
21 March
Mar 21
21st March 2018

The snag with anime these days is that it's a bit like... Well, any sort of entertainment medium; you have to wade through a lot of shit to find the good stuff. There have been so amazing shows over the past 15 years for me; Death Note, Attack on Titan and Gurren Lagann, but the golden years for me still lie around the late 80's to 90's.   via GIPHY   Anime fan or not, this show is a must watch.   In short, Cowboy Bebop is a Space-Noir series about a group of Bounty Hunters, cruising the galaxy, trying to make enough money to not starve. (SPOILER: THey starve, a lot.) Think Japanese Firefly. You may have heard its name pop up now and then, but I'm going to delve into the reasons of what makes this show so perfect.   People tend to categorise 'Anime' as a genre, due to its reputation amongst non-anime fans of not being able to tell any of the characters apart, it's rather 'cooky' scenes and dialogue, and a history of terrible English dubs. This is what puts people off but a shows medium being animation shouldn't define its quality. Cowboy Bebop is a perfect example of not all anime being the same and how open it is to a wider audience.   I watched the whole series back in my teens, devouring the whole story and its badass characters. Since recently rewatching the series on Netflix, I've come to realise how varied Cowboy Bebop is for viewers. I can't watch it with the same concentration as I used to due to loud kids and babies in the house, but I've put it on in the background when I crash in the evening or when I'm working from home. Turns out the show works well as very entertaining, stand-alone episodes but leaves enough curiosity there so that if you chose to watch the entire thing from the first episode, it would be a more than rewarding choice.   Super shallow of me, but the show is so aesthetically pleasing in the same way that a lot of old anime shows were. The colours, the quality of which everything is drawn... Just a nice lack of filler and shortcuts that you end up having to put up with in longer running anime shows. via GIPHY   And of course, there's the soundtrack. Going back to when I mentioned putting this on in the background when working from home; The show's soundtrack is mostly- pretty sure completely- Jazz music. To a lot of people, this would seem to be a terrible combination, but somehow it works perfectly- Even in the more intense scenes and episodes. By the end of the first season, you'll be in an ill-fitting suit and smoking, listening to Tank! on the way to work if you aren't already. Cowboy Bebop is currently on Netflix, so if you're looking for a new watch, or want to watch again for a deeper appreciation, now's the time to do it. via GIPHY  ...

| | Gaming, Opinion | 0 comments
9 March
Mar 9
9th March 2018

OR YOU WEREN'T THERE MAN, YOU WEREN'T THERE! As someone who's favourite game will always be Final Fantasy VII, writing an unbiased article about it has been pretty difficult. Here's the thing: An awful lot of people- including myself- claim Final Fantasy VII to be the best games of all time. Here's the other thing: The vast majority of those people played the game not too long after it's release. Ask anyone- even Google, why Final Fantasy VII is one of the best games ever and you're likely to find a lot of people giving you their list of reasons. My first memory of playing the best game ever was back when Playstation magazine included free demo discs that held a list of short demos of upcoming releases along with a (usually) pretty awful indie game. I was roughly 7 years old when the FFVII demo came to one of those discs. Me and my friends played it right up until it ends where Cloud outruns a group of Shinra soldiers by jumping onto the roof of an incoming train passing under the bridge directly beneath him, 90's action movie style. I loved it so much that I irritatingly tried to force anyone who had a ps1 to play it. I still preached about it in my teens to my classmates--who at this point in time were enjoying the GTA era on the ps2, So the idea of playing a pretty old looking game with pretty boys and turned based action usually resulted with a pass. I could bore you with how deeply this game is integrated into my life at some point in some way, but instead, I'm going to tell you a few pretty understandable reasons why someone may not like the best your favourite game ever.   THE GRAPHICS Yeah, okay so it was 1997 this game came out. 3D was still an early learning point for a lot of game companies including Squaresoft (now Square Enix) but let's face it. Unless you were there at the time, no one is going to be drooling over playable lego characters and cutscenes that look like a weird Playmobile role play video from 'that side' of Youtube.   THE BAD TRANSLATIONS If you're familiar with 80s-90's anime, you may have been exposed to some of the awful, pretty inaccurate and mostly cringy subs or dubs available at the time. The same goes for a lot of games that originated from Japan. There's a lot of things in FFVII from abysmal grammar typos to things that just don't add up to missed punchlines.  Nothing that would particularly ruin the story, but it does give a pretty jarring experience in some cases.   SOME PEOPLE JUST DON'T LIKE JRPG'S Or RPG's in general, for that matter. Although some of the newer Final Fantasy's being a little more up to date with AAA games (you can hack and slash people up every time you hit a button rather than selecting a command and waiting). Back in the 90's, I remember RPG's still being quite new to a lot of gamers. "Why can't you just hit them with X?" were issues a lot of fellow gamers would bring up. It's also quite a big change if you're used to only playing Westernised games. Gameplay, style and just how people talk to one another are pretty big differences in games depending on where they're from. It can seem a little jarring if you're not used to it. To conclude, The best game ever isn't perfect. But the upcoming remake has potential to fix a lot of that. XV was aimed at FF fans and newcomers alike, and I think the remake could work really well with having the same aim. but I will leave you with at least trying Final Fantasy VII. It may not be your jam,  but there's a reason it's so popular and I know a lot of people who have played the game very recently and have enjoyed it just as much if they were there for it back in "the day". Sometimes, I think what makes a perfect game lies in how imperfect it is.  ...

| | Gaming, Review | 0 comments
5 March
Mar 5
5th March 2018

OR I found a game that doesn't make me want to rage-quit   via GIPHY   That probably sounds odd. Most people want to get better at games because it's rewarding and so they can beat them. But I'm old. Not like in numbers, but in parenting induced fatigue. Which basically means there's a lot of shit I feel too old for but this hasn't stopped me putting time into gaming, which I enjoy a lot. It Just means I don't pull all-nighters trying to max out all my characters levels anymore and I tend to avoid games that make me rage-quit quicker. I tend to go for games with an easier pace. A colleague at work pointed me in the direction of Hyper Light Drifter a few weeks ago. I was dazzled by the bright colours, pixel art and intriguing story the trailer gave off with the beautiful music by Disaster Piece in the background. Still, my adult, reasoning brain reassured me I didn't need to buy a new game yet (I have a long list of games I own I haven't touched).  Then I bought a copy of Edge magazine and read an interview with the game's creator, Alex Preston. I was super intrigued by how the guy embedded a lot of references to his struggles with his own health condition in the game. 15 quid's not a lot, I thought to myself. and it's like...I don't know. It's like a real game. Everyone talks in pictures or weird robot noises which surprisingly, works as a brilliant method of storytelling in the game. You interpret it differently compared to how you would if it were text or voice. and I don't know how the hell they did it, but when I get defeated in the game, it doesn't make me want to rage quit and mumble "I'm too old for this shit". It makes me want to try again. And again. Until I beat it. And as much as I love RPG's and levelling up systems, there's no grinding involved. Your skill is based on pure practice from the time you put into it and I can't believe I'm saying this but I love that.  Even when you buy a skill from the shop, it's certainly no shortcut. Great, I thought. I can buy the double dash and make it across bigger gaps/dodge enemies with ease. But it turns out, you have to get good at using that skill too. Endless time spent trying to get the perfect rhythm in mashing that button. Everything must be earned. I've no idea why this game- a type of game I'd usually play for about ten mins, die once and never play again- has me so involved. I was going to say addicted, but it's a more conscious way of playing than that. As in, I actually choose to play it. Did I mention it has local co-op? on the same screen? Which seems like a novelty these days.  This is a beautiful game, with its expected load of dark vibes- yet it's colourful world and characters help keep a surprising balance. I may not be ready for anything beyond its standard choice of difficulty, but this is definitely a game I will be returning to with a number of doors to unlock and skills to earn. In the meantime, I'll be keeping an eager eye out for Heart Machine's next game  ...

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